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The stench is pervasive. A rotting, fishy miasma that oppresses your every thought with its unrelenting presence, despite having no tenable origin.

The pale-green, nacreous sky is pervasive. Its sickly color stains everything in sight and stretches endlessly, dulling the horizon’s edge.

The cold is pervasive. It infects your blood, sending its biting sting deep within your body and clings to you with each amorphous, discolored snowflake.


You’ve spent the last few days in this fishing town on the eastern terminus of the poorly defined Velika Wilds. Its imposing and utilitarian buildings stand like ash-soaked candles of varied height. The older the building, the more closely it melts into the ground, sloughing off soiled snowdrifts as tallow. On the shapeless paved paths between these figures lie thick veins of ice tinged with subtle hues of blue and green.

The winter months assault this land far more fiercely than most others and stand in stark contrast to the mild cool that winter brings Pora Elinu and even the winter found in Velika. A potent mixture of sea-borne winds and exposed terrain leaves the town of Impel constantly at the mercy of impetuous sleet.

Each step you take runs the risk of slipping into the network of slick vessels underfoot. Yet, you must move with the same vague urgency that as all other cloaked figures or chance attracting unwanted attention to yourself.

Every exposed part of your flesh certainly agrees with this hurried approach, but eyes made bleary from the windy chill results in a singularly unpleasant balancing act.

Despite your efforts, you sense eyes linger upon your form longer than they should.

Your investigation into disappearances of Elin within the massive city of Velika is what brought you here. Strange and unmistakable threads connect the two places via similar occurrences of unique body mutilation. Locals from a village further south found a corpse washed ashore with a mismatched head and torso yet connected much like two heat-fused pieces of glass. While only a rumor, consistent details about how the two body parts melded seamlessly into one another appear again and again. The waters here have a current that flows from north to south, and the position of the town leaves this place as the most likely origin of the body.

This is paired with the increasing disappearances of Elin with only an odd body part to be found or similarly disassembled corpses of humans only rarely heard mentioned. The cases regarding Elin are certainly no secret, with idle chatter facetiously attributing it to nighttime encounters or attempted crimes gone deservedly wrong. However, the city guard is making significant effort to conceal the cases regarding humans, as to “not cause a panic.” Despite it being the locus for the crimes against your kind, making investigative headway there has proven frustratingly fruitless there.

These occurrences are far removed from the concerns of the locals in Impel. The brutal winter has made traversing the coastline a much more hazardous endeavor. Those fishing vessels brave enough to venture onto those waters, and lucky enough to return are reporting inexplicably diminished catches, even for this rough sea. Many bloated corpses of malformed fish have washed ashore as well, with blackened eyes and distorted bodies covered in buboes. Rumor goes that they will make you terribly ill if you attempt to eat them.

But, oblivious to the local’s daily concerns, the kitchens of the prosperous capital voraciously demand the indigenous seafood and can easily outspend any local for any clean catch. Traffic on the rough path between here and the capital takes most of the haul away and brings back very little.


A terrible circumstance most keenly felt by the poor majority of humans and devan laborers in this town. But, hopes for relief come via whispers of a Sanctuary.

With the goal of finding the origin and truth behind the mismatched corpse and investigate more about this Sanctuary, you plod ahead into the bowels of this numbing cold land.

Your companions should be joining you soon, so…here’s hoping they can handle this winter.


(Previous Thread)


(Character sheets)

(Combat Rules)
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“Mmmmmm! It’s so tasty!” Your companion squirms in delight at the final course of dessert for this extensive meal. She pulls the plate close to her and kicks up her feet on table. “You really know how to treat a girl, Luca!”

The painstaking craft of the dessert almost makes it a shame to eat, yet she does with as much hesitation as drinking a cup of water.

You place your hand over your eyes. “Yeah? And who exactly said that I was treating you? If anything, you should be the one cover this meal.”

She waves you off dismissively. “It’s not about that. Despite the cost of this being nothing to me, that’s not how this exchange goes.” She points at you with her small dessert fork. “You give me the feeling of being treated out by a good-looking man, let me partake in this multi-course meal in your company, and then you’re free to ask me for whatever favor you really brought me out here for.” She flashes you a refined, but devious smile. “Isn’t that right, Luca?”

Nobles are such a pain in the ass…

You let out an exasperated sigh. “This exchange takes two, you know. Mentioning it outright ruins the game, and not to mention…” You make it obvious that you’re eying her clothing. “I’d prefer girls to actually wear a dress, as this custom would dictate after all. Isn’t that right, Seo?”

You eye her overall rough exterior of tight-fitting clothes more suited for a thief than a noble girl. Her dark hair messily tied up as if it's something that needs to be restrained, leaves her vibrant eyes unconcealed. Despite this, she carries herself with an unmistakable air of refinement. She'd be quite the catch if she acted more like a lady...

She snorts derisively. “Well, that’s certainly not going to happen, so get on with whatever you want to ask of me.” She instinctively motions for one of the servers to top off her tea.

You shake your head as you grab the teapot kept within arm’s reach and motion for her cup. “The whole city of Velika isn’t your chateau, Seo.” You finish and brusquely place the teapot back down. “I thought would the number of “adventures” you partake in you would know such a fact.”

She seems amused at your retort and motions for you to continue.

“I was hoping that you would have interest in going on an actual mission with me, instead of those outings you go on with a retinue of your father’s trained fighters and servants doing most of the work.” You reach into your nearby satchel and pull out a map of the eastern continent. You flatten it onto the table and point to your target. “Impel, a coastal fishing town several days hard ride northeast.”

“Hmm?” She makes a bemused noise. “I’m not sure which lord holds dominion over the wilds. It doesn’t matter…Pray tell Luca, why would you ever want to go there?”

You shake your head. “The location is not of my choosing, but rather the choice of who would be our leader for this mission. She needs assistance in investigating the area-”

"Oh?" She cuts you off with intrigue in her voice. "Now this might be interesting, if nothing else to see this woman that can lead you around by the nose."

You take a long drink from your own cup before continuing. "Listen you. No one is leading anyone by the nose here. I'm...duty bound to fulfill my grandfather's promise. Elewyn is her name, and she apparently saved my grandfather's life when he was around my age."

Her face has clearly loss interest. "Oh, helping some elderly woman...Well, continue." She turns her focus back toward her mostly eaten dessert.

You laugh to yourself. She may be old, but based off what your grandfather told you about Elin, she is by no means elderly. That said, you don't ever recall hearing how Seo felt about non-humans. Most nobles have an outward hostility to them, but Seo is certainly not like most nobles.

>Explain that Elewyn isn't a human.

>Leave that fact hidden for now.

>Write in.
Hello everyone, and welcome back to the second arc of Elin Veteran Quest.

If you're new here, and are interested in reading the events preceding this thread, please find the links to the archives up above.

Regardless of how long you've been around, I'm more than willing to answer any questions that you may have about the story, setting, quest mechanics, etc.

With that, I'm looking forward to working with you all!
>Explain that Elewyn isn't a human.
>>>Explain that Elewyn isn't a human.
>Explain that Elewyn isn't a human.
>But leave out that she's an Elin

Glad to see this again!
>Don't hide your grin. Egg her on the "elderly" part, but let her figure it out herself.
Wonder if they're being eavesdropped on
Glad to be writing this again!

Alright, let's see what we have:


>Explaining that Elewyn isn't a human along with:

>For the moment leaving out that she is a Elin, and egging her on about the elderly notion.


Revealing the truth is for the best, but you’ll have to test the waters first. It’s certainly how she would approach it if she were in your position.

You don’t even bother hiding your grin and lean back in your seat. “Elderly? You’ve been spending too much time around your fellow nobles that your perspective is tinged blue and gray.”

Seo stops with her fork in the middle of the air. “Oh? Gray and blue you say? Blue is a general slight toward me, but gray…”

She pauses for a while in thought. “Hmph, either you lied about this leader of yours being old or you’re deceiving me now.”

You cock an eyebrow up. “Oh? Resorting to calling me a liar must mean that you’re lacking in imagination. Can’t buy that I suppose.”

It’s good to piss her off a little bit to egg her on. Since hardly anyone else will talk back to her, it not only keeps her grounded, but also engaged. Let her figure out what you’re trying to tell her on her own.

She stuffs the last piece of her dessert in her mouth before slamming her plate back down on the table. “Alright, smart ass… You’re never this smug when you lie, let me bother to use an iota of my brain to figure out your little secret. This Elewyn, not elderly, but was still old enough to save your ancient grandfather when he was a boy like you…” Her eyes finally light up. “Sounds inhuman…I wasn’t aware that you fancied such things.”

“If you didn’t use up so much of your brain fantasizing about such depraved scenarios, then perhaps you’d have more than an iota to use for everything else.” You finish off your tea and lightly return the cup to the table. “But you’re correct about her not being human. Well done.”

She played her part just as you imagined.

With a smug grin, Seo does a half-hearted mock bow. “Thank you for the dance.”

It’s all a game after all.

She motions for yet another plate of a different dessert, which unfortunately the server acknowledges. “But you still haven’t told me everything. If this leader of yours isn’t a human then what exactly is she, and why are you really choosing to go on this mission? Don’t expect me to believe that it’s purely because of duty.”

This one can be annoyingly astute at times. She’s right about it being partly due to your duty to the old man. There’s always the issue of him being your financier. But…you couldn’t pass on the opportunity to finally see magic in person. You can hold out on revealing that Elewyn is an Elin by dangling that motivation in front of her. Forcing her to take her time to-

She effortlessly snaps her fingers quite loudly and suddenly. “Oh! You’re chasing after magic again, aren’t you?”

Damn it all.
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She sighs and shakes her head. “It’s a charming quirk, Luca, but don’t you think it’s time to grow out of that, and attend to your noblesse oblige? You could do well for yourself, a handsome lad can easily marry above his station.”

Your hand finds its way to your forehead. “There are several things to pick apart there, so I’ll spare the clever retorts for now. It’s not a quirk, I’m hardly a noble, and you’re one to talk. Last gossip I heard about you hinted that you’re a candidate for the prince himself.”

Seo makes a disgusted expression. “Spare me.” Her expression lightens as she receives her dessert, and she leans in close to avoid being overheard. “No candidate will ever outcompete a well-polished mirror if you ask me.” She leans back and smiles at you before starting on her second dessert.

You eye the new dessert to perhaps gauge its cost, but are stricken by its unusual composition. A crimson red edible flower perfectly suspended in a chilled dome of semi translucent pudding. Sugar crystals floating in the membrane give the impression of falling snow.

Seo's spoon pierces into the dessert structure bleeding the flower's juice into the surroundings. “Well, I suppose we’re both shirking our noble duties yet again.” She looks back to the map on the table. “So let us do so wholeheartedly as we ought to... Impel huh?” She traces the path with her slender finger. “How long would we be there and what exactly would we be doing?”

You shrug a shoulder. “How long depends on how smoothly her investigation goes. It sounded like we should expect to be there for a few days at least. For what…The old man told me that I would be protecting her and assisting her with whatever she desires.” You mumble out the last few words.

“Oh? Whatever she desires? How far are you willing to go for your desperate search for magic?” A devious look flashes on her face but is poorly maintained due to your stoic response. “Oh fine…But protect huh? Coming from your grandfather, that means we should expect actual danger.” She begins to smile excitedly.

“That could mean a million things, knowing him. He said very little on this matter, but he did say to pack warm.” You tap your finger on the eastern sea depicted on the map. “The winters there must be harsher because of the proximity to the sea.”

“Oh, I usually venture south for winter holidays, but embracing the cold certainly has its charm too.” Seo casually turns her attention to finishing her second dessert. “I’m romanticizing as much as I can in case this backwater proves as dull as it sounds. But, if nothing else a winter rendezvous with the Yinefall heir will make for a juicy story at the spring banquets.” She gulps down the last piece. “I’ll go with you.” She extends her hand.

Now if only she could have said yes without this whole song and dance.

You shake your head and her hand. “Appreciated, Seo.”

You try to pull your arm away, but she keeps you in her grasp. Her forceful gaze meets your own. “You know, Luca. Even if the stories about the ancient heroes and monsters were true, they’re not around anymore. What good comes from trying to chase after something that’s not here anymore?”

Ah, she's attempting to be delicate about that subject again... She's always attributed your parents' interest in magic to your own. More so, she thinks a means to stay connected to something "that's not here anymore..." Regardless, you have no interest in discussing that further.

>Divert the topic.

>Inform her that she'll have her answer once the mission begins.

>Write in.
>Ask me after you see it for yourself. The world might be a bigger place than us nobles could ever imagine.
>>>Inform her that she'll have her answer once the mission begins.
>Divert the topic.
So, has Elewyn been going by the same name for her whole existence, I wonder?
Heyo everyone, I hope all of you are having a relaxing Sunday wherever you are. I'm quite fan of a lazy Sunday given how the rest of my week typically goes.

Good question. For now I will answer that she goes by Elewyn most of the time.

Telling her to widen her perspective and she may someday have her answer.


You meet her gaze. “Why don’t you hold onto that question until after we see for ourselves. This world is a bigger place than the circles we’re kept to.”

Her grip loosens, allowing you to free yourself. “A parried response is an unsatisfying, but as you wish, Luca. It seems like I’m not the only one romanticizing this trip.” She shrugs and raises her hands. “I suppose we could entertain ourselves with traditional winter activities, if it does prove to be dull.”

It never mattered to you what she thought about your pursuit. This will at least get her off your back. For now, you notice the manager of the establishment approaching the two of you, which you signal to Seo.

“Damn it.” She whispers quietly.

The manager gives a deep bow before speaking toward Seo only. “Lady Shulein! We’re honored to have you dine in our salon. Was everything to your liking?”

“Thank you.” She responds curtly. “Everything was lovely. My credit to the chef for seabass, and to the patisserie for the desserts.” She gathers her coat and motions that she intends to leave soon.

“O-only the best here!” The manager hastens his words. “That particular fish was difficult to secure but here at-“

“Well done securing it then.” Seo motions to herself and you. “We appreciated the dish.”

“Ah.” The manager gives you a decent bow. “We’re glad for you to join us as well, Master…”

“Yinefall.” Seo quickly responds, still trying to leave.

“Y-Yinefall.” The manager repeats, subtly disappointed.

You impatiently wave him off. “I don’t blame you for not knowing it.” You continue despite his attempts to apologize for the slight and point at the last plate that Seo cleared. “This dessert with the translucent cream and the flower was quite peculiar. Your patisserie came up with it?”

This certainly isn’t the subject the manager was working toward, but he tensely obliges. “That dish…Yes, now I recall. It seems that was a creation of the previous owners. One of the very few items worth keeping-“

Seo cuts him off. “The previous owner came up with that dessert? Well, I split my previous credit toward them too.”

The manager shakes his head fervently. “They may have created the item, but we refined it to be worth serving. Note the delicate garnishes on the side. It’s not only the dessert, but this whole establishment! Thanks to the Citizen Privilege Act we were able to finally acquire this place from the non-humans and transform it to the status suitable for those of your stratum. Ah, my deepest appreciation to your father for spearheading the act.” He bows to Seo once again.

“Hmm, I seem to remember him droning on about it at dinner.” She shrugs clearly not interested in the act itself. “But that was passed quite recently, wasn’t it? You must’ve had your eye on this place to pounce in so suddenly.”

You snort a quiet laugh to yourself. He’s poorly equipped to deal with her barbs.

His skin grows increasingly flush. “W-w-we identified the potential of this area quite some time ago, yes. In fact, for years we made generous offerings, but they weren’t interested in the coin, nor were they ever going to age out of the business any time soon.”

Seo’s eyes light up for the first time since the manager approached. “Oh? What sorts of non-humans were you dealing with that weren’t going to age out any time soon?” She flashes a devious grin toward you.

The manager rubs his sweaty forehead. “I uh…Think they were Elin or something of the manner. I’ve certainly never been one to associate with non-humans so I can’t say confidently.”

Damn. Quicker than you expected but forcing her to deduce the answer like this only serves to make her more intrigued. The next favor you need from her should be easier to leverage…

“Oh, I see...” Her grin twists into a self-satisfied smile. “Well, thank you for answering our questions. We’ll be going now, so Luca here will take care of the charges.” She heads for the exit.

“L-Lady Shulein, if you would be so kind to send our regards to your father and-“ The manager calls out feebly.

“Yes, yes.” She waves him off without even bothering to turn around. “I’ll let him know about the seabass.”

You grab your own coat and quickly fill out the bill of exchange, which you slip into the manager’s front pocket. “Cheer up. I’d say that was the best exchange you could have hoped for with her.”

You slip on your long coat and head out into the brisk afternoon air.
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Other than the chilled wind, winter has made itself known here with the distinct trails of fogged air that rise out of high smokestacks and can be seen filtering out the mouths and noses of the city folk. Your gaze lingers on a group of lively children attempting to outdo each other with fogged breath. All these small individual clouds rise together to form shapeless mists that can envelop entire districts. When you were a young boy, you recall your mother telling you they were dragon breath when you asked about them…

You nearly stumble on a sleeping dirty figure on the ground as you turn to look ahead. A young vagrant man curled into a tight ball with scattering of cloths underneath him as he lies half in an alleyway and half out. A worn and unfamiliar helmet seems to be his only other possession. He slowly rouses and looks up at you with a gaunt and incredibly weary face.

You’re surprised that he chose to linger in this part of the market district. Part of you suspects that he’s not from Velika, otherwise he’d know that the city guard will be more than forceful to remove him from here.

You feel a handful of silver coin in your coat pocket. All of your purchases in the city are done via bills of exchange, so who knows how long they’ve been in there.

Seo impatiently turns back to see what’s causing you delay and stares intrigued at the situation you find yourself in currently and how you will act.

>Warn the vagrant about lingering here and the city guard, but keep the coins.

>Warn the vagrant about lingering here and the city guard, and give him the coins as well.

>Write in.
>Warn the vagrant about lingering here and the city guard, and give him the coins as well.
I wouldn't want to rely on pocket change to fund whatever mission we're about to get up to, and bills means that bribes aren't gonna be too common.
>>Warn the vagrant about lingering here and the city guard, but keep the coins.
>Warn the vagrant about lingering here and the city guard, and give him the coins as well.
A couple of young noble scions, at least one of whose family helped pass acts to kick out successful Elin business ventures. Well, if you want change, start with the young ones, I guess.
>>Warn the vagrant about lingering here and the city guard, and give him the coins as well.
Heyo everyone, I hope the start to everyone's week is going well. Looking ahead, I will be enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday, so I might not have an update on Thursday, but that's still on the fence depending on how I feel then.

For now:
No qualms about the alms.

Whoops, forgot this restarted this weekend. Glad to have you back, GM !
Glad to be back! We're still early on in this chapter, so I'm very excited to develop the story with all of you
Finally back home from work. I estimate that the update will go up around the same time as yesterday.

>Still writing!

Given his rough shape, the advice alone will only do so much. Strange and mixed feelings course through your mind as you grasp at the coins. Part of you wants to help him, thinking on what could potentially be his fate if you don’t. Another part of you wants him far removed from your haunts, and a few coins is a simple way to smooth the process. The thoughts are at odd with one another and are incapable of combining in any satisfying way. You finally fish out the coins from your coat pocket just as he’s about to turn back to lying on the ground. His dull eyes brighten slightly in surprise as you lean over to hand him the coins.

“Here.” You firmly place the coin in the vagabond’s weak grasp. “But you shouldn’t linger around this district. The guards have violently made an example of many in the past, and as you can see, no one else is chancing getting caught.”

He looks around at the surrounding streets as if for the first time before blankly looking back to you. After processing your words anger forms on his face. “Ahh. I just fuckin’ got here.” Suddenly he springs to his feet mumbling a string of vitriol under his breath, of which you only catch a few. “Goddamn…lost my guard job because of some little witch. Now I run around here and have to freeze my dick off…”

While still rambling, he gathers his rags, then his helmet, and stomps away without hardly acknowledging you.

“You’re welcome.” You close your hand and sigh as you watch him head off down the alley.

Little witch? Best not try to dissect what could be nothing more than nonsense. There’s still the matter of recruiting the final member for this mission, which would be much easier if Seo wasn’t needed as well. There isn’t anyone you know better suited for what Elewyn requested, but nobles can be quite obstinate when it comes to their feuds.

“You have a strange taste for entertainment, Luca.” Seo laughs as she calls out to you.

“Well, I don’t pay for my interactions unlike some people.” You button your coat as you catch up to her.
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“Oh? What about that meal you just paid for?” She points at you and grins as both head off down the street. “Everything costs, Luca. Never forget that. But the things you choose to buy are so amusing to me.” She customarily sticks out her elbow. “The things that don’t cost you much more than a few coins, the things that cost you far more, and everything in between. Amusing.”

“Now who has a strange taste for entertainment?” You cheekily return the smile and link your arm around hers. You lead her off toward the next destination.

The two of you stroll quietly from the commercial district toward the aristocratic residences.

You still contemplate the best approach to getting her to cooperate with the final companion. You deduce that it would be best if she were the one to puzzle it together rather than you simply revealing it to her. She's more suggestible when she believes she's outsmarted you. However, it's best not to overdo it. As imperceptibly as you can, you slow your gait.

After some more time, she notices and sighs. “By the difference in your usual pace, I take it that you’re not escorting me straight home, are you?” Seo asks without looking away from the path ahead of her. “It’s slower, so you’re hesitant.”

“Could you please apply that insight to something else other than scrutinizing my every action.” You make sure to keep your eyes fixed ahead of you as well. “Even if I were walking slower, there’s so many unintentional factors that could have contributed to that.”

The guards at the entrance of the noble district bow deeply as the two of you proceed through the gates. As usual, they do so a good bit deeper than when you’re alone.

The white stone gatehouse gives way to the usual view the noble estates near this entrance. The comparatively humbler buildings still rise high above the street, immaculately polished and ornately crafted. Even the expertly laid road beneath the footfalls and coaches is spotless and well kept. The noise and dirt of the rest of the world never seems to find its way within here to mix and stain. It only gets more ostentatious the further within the district you travel.
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Once you’re clear of the guards she resumes her deduction. “Yet, we’re still headed here, so that means…” She glares at you now. “Who is it that’s coming with us?”

As soon as she finds out, she likely to yell your ear off, and the destination is still much further down the path.

You don’t have time to address her question before the two of you spot a slender figure gracefully walking toward you and Seo. Adorned in the custom-tailored maid uniform of the Shulein household, a young woman carries the dress with all the elegance that could ever be demanded of her and more. The wide billows paired the with tightly form-fitting key areas synthesize to give an always refreshing air of femininity.

At least you think so, especially juxtaposed with her lady.

“My lady.” She bows seamlessly even with her wide dress. She turns toward your direction but keeps her glance fixed on the ground. “M-m-master Yinefall.” She bows just as low as before.

“Astrid.” Seo responds flatly crossing her arms. “Did father send you?”

“Lord Shulein only requested that I check on you, my lady.” Astrid gives another long bow. "Of course, I was happy to have the opportunity to see you."

"It's good to see you, Astrid." You walk closer to as she always has the habit of talking quietly and toward the ground when addressing you for some strange reason.

Other than that habit of hers, she's perfectly courteous. The only explanation you've managed to come up with is that she always dutifully chooses to show more respect to her lady.

"Ah. Yes! I mean, thank you!" She gives several quick bows. "No, I mean, will you be joining us for dinner again, Master Y-Yinefall? I could prepare any dish you'd like. If you'd like me to." She waves the idea away with her hand. "No, I mean, if you'd like to. Wait! It's good to see you again too..." She hangs her head low.

Seo moves to join the two of you and starts to push Astrid away. "We just ate so you can save it."

"T-then shall I accompany you?" Astrid gracefully spins out of the way and returns to her spot a few feet in front of you. "If M-Master Yinefall doesn't mind, of course."

Seo crosses her arms and glares at you while she observes your response.

You've always quite enjoyed Astrid's company, as limited as your time has been with her. Seo is always finding a reason to send her off, so you've rarely had the chance to talk. Her antagonism toward her maid has always perplexed you, as Astrid is remarkably well suited to her position. That's not even mentioning how well the dress suits her. Damn, you wish you had her as a maid.

All that considered, it still might not be a good idea to anger Seo. Taking her to the noble household the Shulein family has quarreled with for generations will do that just fine. Still...damn you wish you had a maid.

>Tell Astrid that the two of you are unfortunately on private business. Perhaps some other time?

>Allow Astrid to accompany you.

>Write in.
>>Tell Astrid that the two of you are unfortunately on private business. Perhaps some other time?
>Tell Astrid that the two of you are unfortunately on private business. Perhaps some other time?
Wonder how many more ladies Luca's got

>Allow Astrid to accompany you.
possibly better for Seo to not look like they're sneaking to her family's enemy.
>>Allow Astrid to accompany you.
Quests are like tasks given to people and are not forced.
Heyo everyone, it's a busy one here, but I hope all your days are going well!

It seems that we're currently at a tie, but I'm not going to be able to start writing for at least a couple hours, so I'll keep the vote open in the meantime. The vote will go to a roll if it stays tied.

Sorry, but I'm not sure what you're referring to.
Rolled 2 (1d2)

Breaking the tie with a roll:

"Tell Astrid that the two of you are unfortunately on private business. Perhaps some other time?" = 1
"Allow Astrid to accompany you." = 2

Rolling 1d2

>Writing the result
I'm back home, but I've also been feeling rather beat these days. I'm going to take a nap then get to writing. I'll nap only few hours, so I think I'll be able to get the update out around the same time as the past few days.
And...I knocked out.

Very sorry that I didn't get the update posted earlier. I'll be working it on it before I head off for work, and I will do my best to have it posted in about an hour and a half, since it's shaping up to be a longer than average update.

Thinking purely and perfectly logical, it makes sense to bring Astrid along. If Seo were to be seen speaking with a member of the Halion family, it will surely send rumors flying. But with a conspicuous servant accompanying her, a more business-like excuse could be reasoned. You wonder if you'll get that far...

You lean forward to catch her eyes, and for a moment glace at her serene brown eyes, that are almost at odds with her body language. “We would be very glad to have you accompany us. It’s been far too long since we’ve last spoken, so let’s take the opportunity to chat.”

Alright, now you only need to continue to spin this situation in your favor. Seo may be upset with you for bringing Astrid along, but…it might serve to distract her from immediately realizing where you’re going. It’s better that she deduces the answer when you’re closer to your destination.

You straighten out and turn back to look at the daggers that were digging into the back of your head. “Hope you don’t mind.” You motion for all three of you to continue down the main path of the noble’s district.

With Astrid in the middle, the three of you continue along the main path of the district. Despite the tension, you’re still able to enjoy the stroll with Astrid so close by.

Once more pleasantries have been exchanged between you and Astrid, you try to steer the conversation away from the obvious question. “Are you not cold only wearing your uniform, Astrid? I could lend you my coat, if you’d like.”

Astrid smiles slightly and pauses before she responds. “I-it would be f-far too great a privilege for me, so I must insist that you keep yourself warm, M-Master Yinefall. My uniform a-and the warm pride I feel when representing the Shulein household are more than enough for any winter.”

“Admirable. I’ll keep the offer open for when you’re not in uniform.” You pat the chest of your coat.

Keep this little performance going.

Seo scoffs instantly. “Is this how idiots keep warm in the winter? With platitudes of hot air?” She crosses her arms. “Maybe the common folk can learn a thing from you two about how to better endure the winter."

Astrid remains fixed in place for a few moments of heavier silence. “Not quite, my lady. Exchanging words like this with you two serves to brighten my winter. That paired with the honor to serve your family is how I as a common folk learned to survive the dark and cold. It's also how I learned to avoid the true gnawing sting of winter.” She turns to Seo. “I’m very thankful to you and your father, my lady.”

“You didn’t have to mention that, but I suppose that I should have chosen my words better…” Seo waves the topic away with one quick flick of her hand. “Never mind that. Since you’re here it means that father deigned to think about me… Did he go out on another meeting to discuss ridiculous betrothals?”

There is only one family that Lord Shulein would be the one traveling to meet the other party. The royal family.

“You certainly are his daughter, my lady.” Astrid chuckles softly. “My lord departed shortly before I came to find you.”

“That’s three times this month. He’s planning something with the King, and it’s something he doesn’t feel a message would suffice for.” She turns a steely glance at you. “Plotters on all sides...”

She's definitely not one to talk.

“Not the King, my lady. My lord is meeting with the Prince at the royal estate.” Astrid firmly adds.

With a long stream of fogged breath, Seo blows a strand of hair of her face. “This only creates more questions. Typical of him to attempt to keep the future heir of his house in the dark about all of this.”

You keep an eye on the road ahead and see that you’re nearing your destination. “He wouldn’t go to the Prince himself to discuss your betrothal, so thinking about what circles they share may bear fruit. The Prince serves as the minister of defense while your father serves as the minister of infrastructure. Since your father has never been one for idle chatter, it’s likely that they’re meeting with regards to their roles as ministers.”

“Oh? Here I thought the only reason you were going to open your mouth was to pant over Astrid some more.” Seo sighs and idly rubs her chin. “But what you say has merit. If only I paid more attention to him when he rambled on, I might’ve been able to piece this together already.”

“My lord did have me retrieve documents he had on the sewer systems beneath Velika in preparation for his meeting, my lady.” Astrid chimes in again.

“The sewers? Surely he has deputies that take care of those monster infested filth holes.” Seo turns to her maid in with an expression of suspicion. “Why are you divulging this information?”

“Because you had wondered, my lady, and my lord didn’t request that I keep the information secret from you.” Astrid responds without any hesitation.

Seo frowns. “Then there are things that you keep secret from me.”

Astrid rests her hand on her chest and closes her eyes. “A maid has many responsibilities, my lady.”

You feel her eyes settle on you for only a moment before they turn away.
“Father is fortunate that I’m preoccupied at the moment.” Seo notices that you’ve branched off the terminus of the main path through the noble’s district. “To which I had thought we were meeting someone, but you brought us nearly home.”

You’ve managed to keep her preoccupied until this point, somehow. Now all that remains is for Seo to finally find the answer.

She stares down the diverging path leading toward the Halion manor. After a moment she shakes her head and scoffs. “You have to be joking.”

“What do you mean?” You avert your gaze down the same path for a fraction of a second before looking back to her.

Seo glares at you with mouth slightly agape. “Mishenne? Mishenne Halion?” She laughs quite hard before turning her attention back to you. “Are you an absolute fool? Why would you pick the two of us of all people?”

“The mission requires someone that can disarm traps and get around locks. Misha always liked to tinker with those sorts of things, and I don’t know anyone else that could fill that role…” You cross your arms. “You know he’s no good in a fight, and I wanted people I trust. That’s why I also need your help…”

The two of you pause for a moment as you detect a figure walking from the Halion residence. At first glance it appeared to be a young girl in royal guard uniform until you spotted the animal ears that rest on the top of her head. You’ve heard chatter about the Elin trainee for the Princess, but this is the first time you’ve seen her.

What was she doing at the Halion manor?

“H-hello!” She stops to give a polite bow as she passes by and then nervously walks away.

You give a quick nod, Seo only observes her, and Astrid gives a bow in return.

You and Seo exchange glances as you ponder why the Elin was there in first place.

She sighs and shakes her head. “Strange plots are going on here. Plots of which I’m quite interested in, yet you’re asking that I go with you and Mishenne Halion to a backwater fishing town?” She tosses up her hands and laughs. “You've managed to get me this far, but fair warning, my father would be livid if he knew this was happening, so I hope you’re willing to take responsibility...” She observes your face you a moment longer before speaking again. “Not a single word of this to my father, Astrid. Where is Mishenne, Luca?"

The time you had agreed to meet with him here is quickly passing. He may be running late, but it's quite unlike him to do so, unless he got tied up somehow.

>Continue to wait for him where you originally planned.

>Catch up to the Elin that you saw earlier and ask about Misha.

>Head in by yourself to retrieve him.

>Write in.
>>Head in by yourself to retrieve him.
>Catch up to the Elin that you saw earlier and ask about Misha.
If this priestess is one of the dark elin, both sides would be getting information.
>>Continue to wait for him where you originally planned.
>>Catch up to the Elin that you saw earlier and ask about Misha.
I think that's Aloé.
>>Continue to wait for him where you originally planned.
No, that's Aloé.
How much time has passed since the raid on the slavers, months? Years?

okay I'm kidding, but does that mean the question is whether we want Aloe to be involved or not?
Heyo everyone, just a quick check in before I head out for work. It's great to see so many votes in already. We'll keep it open for a couple more hours and I'll be around to answer any questions in the meantime.

It has been approximately 3 months since the raid with the slavers.

Truthfully the involvement would be limited in scope, but that is still definitely a consideration.
>>Continue to wait for him where you originally planned.
Honestly I’m kinda thinking that we don’t want her around this time. She’s doing good in her own way, and maybe we can get a better first impression of Elin from what Elewyn rather than Aloe
Quick tally so I can start chipping away at the update.

We'll stay put and wait for Misha where we originally planned.

Back home now, but I didn't get as much writing done at work because of how hectic it was to wrap things up before thanksgiving. I'll try to have the update up in a few hours!
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If you head into Halion court and Misha isn’t present within, then you’d run the risk of missing him here if he did show. Also, if he came by only to spot Seo without you there, you doubt he’d have the courage to even approach. Asking that Elin for information is another option, but she didn’t seem too inclined to speak to group of human nobles, not to mention she has her own sphere of concerns.

Best choice is to wait. The quickly setting sun filtering though misty winter air casts sheets of deep orange light over the regal buildings. Even with the chilled air, they give the district a warm glow you've enjoyed since you were a child.

You calmly glance around at the peaceful surroundings before turning back to Seo. “I know it’s not in your nature to be the one waiting, but we’ll have to do just that.” You place your hands in your coat pockets. “Anyway, I thought you didn’t pay any attention to your father’s anger.”

She places her hand on her chest. “The warning was for your sake, Luca. If he did something to cause you harm, I would make him regret it, but you’d still be left to deal with the consequences.”

Your interactions with her father are limited despite how long you’ve been friends with Seo. Stilted, cold, and straight to the point are how all conversations you’ve had with Lord Shulein have gone. But he was never cruel, and he also made a point to ask about your grandfather on every occasion.

On the other hand, even with the few times you’ve met him in person, his zealous disdain for the Halion family’s continued threats to his power are well known. His rumored plots to secure supremacy for the Shulein family are similarly well known. Despite all you’ve heard of him and his machinations, he’s never given you reason to be afraid of him, rather you’ve always had a measure of respect for his devotion to his family’s legacy, even with his troubled relationship with his only living family.

You rest a hand on her shoulder. “I’m thankful for your concern, Seo. However, my position on the fringes of nobility often make it more effort than it’s worth to pursue hostilities. Perhaps it’s me being too optimistic, but I don’t see this registering as one of your father’s concerns.”
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She scoffs and steps away from your hand. “Everything that happens in this city is his concern, and here you are fawning over one of his pairs of eyes!” Seo motions at Astrid as she glares at you.

Now that’s a visual association you hope never sticks.

You move toward Seo as you speak. “I’m aware of her role, but we’re not plotting against your father. Astrid is here to serve you just as much as she serves you father, so stop seeing her as only an extension of your father.” You boldly return her glare as loom over her.

“To have my lady, and M-Master Yinefall know me so well.” Astrid cups her cheeks with her hands. “I’m grateful with all that I am. But…I believe that Master Halion has arrived to join us.”

You and Seo turn at the same moment to gaze at the small figure that managed to approach with only being noticed by Astrid.

With long hair even more disheveled than usual, Misha stands meekly with his eyeglasses broken in his hand, and a thin trail of blood leaking out from his lip. A swelling red cheek is paired with the open cut.

“H-Hey Luca. Sorry I’m late.” He sniffles with one eye reddened from a blow. “I uh, was just telling my dad that I was planning to be gone for a few days, and umm got held up-“

Misha is interrupted by Astrid dabbing away the crimson fluid from his chin and lip with her handkerchief. Once cleaned, she holds the cloth over the cut and brings Misha’s hand to hold it in place.

While Astrid attends to Misha, you and Seo exchange a glance indicating that you both know exactly what happened to Misha. Not that it would take much deduction.
No matter how well he treated his fellow nobles, the commoners, and even you, you've always detested the man for how he treats Misha.

He blushes as he squints at Astrid. “Um, thank you. Are you a new maid of Luca’s?”

“If only I could be so lucky, Master Halion.” She bows to Misha before smiling at Seo. ”Perhaps one day, my lady?”

Seo scoffs and Misha jumps back in fright dropping the handkerchief and glasses.

He turns toward Seo’s direction with his hands up as if to nervously block an attack. “Um, uh, uh!” He slinks to hid behind your frame and tugs hard on the back of your coat. “You never told me that she’d be coming.”

You pluck him off your back and set him down in front of Seo. It’s hard to believe sometimes that he’s the same age as the two of you.

You bend down to pick up what he dropped. “You never asked, Misha.” You place the objects back in his hands. “You were excited to go otherwise. Introduce yourself and let’s go talk it out somewhere, I don't want anyone around here thinking I did this to you.”

“Hello, Mishenne. You’re looking…………” Seo searches for the next words for a noticeably long time. “Lively this winter.”

Misha fidgets as he feebly tries to resist you holding him in place. "Umm hi, Seo. It's good to... see you again." He glares back at you. "Fine, we can talk, just let me go already, you ass!"

You relent and Misha returns to positioning your body between him and Seo. Now that the three of you are finally together, you can discuss the business of mission departure. But where to head?

>Stick to the noble district, there's a few close by salons to have a discussion.

>Head back to the market district for a better selection of cafe and pubs, and perhaps purchasing extra items for the mission.

>Head to the guild hall. It's a good place to have a drink far removed from stuffy nobles.

>Write in
>”Perhaps one day, my lady?”
did she just....pfhahaha

Let's pick a place that's not too particular about nobles being seen with other nobles. The markets can potentially have famous dishes that hostile nobles would go out of their way to get.
>Head back to the market district for a better selection of cafe and pubs, and perhaps purchasing extra items for the mission.

Luca is really a harem protag, huh?
>>>Head back to the market district for a better selection of cafe and pubs, and perhaps purchasing extra items for the mission.
>>Head back to the market district for a better selection of cafe and pubs, and perhaps purchasing extra items for the mission.
Misha seems like he wouldn't enjoy a rowdy atmosphere like a guild hall the way Seo would, but the noble district is too close by to risk someone seeing a Halion and a Shulein together
>Head back to the market district for a better selection of cafe and pubs, and perhaps purchasing extra items for the mission
Rundown on what we’re expecting, and places to buy things that will be needed. Then, hopefully we can get out of town fast enough that they all don’t need to deal with the rumor mill cycling until they return
A sound reasoning. Supporting.
Heyo everyone. Happy thanksgiving to all those that celebrate it, and an enjoyable transition into the holiday season for everyone. I'm thankful to have an audience for my story, and being in a place physically and mentally to be free to write in general.

I'm being kept busy here entertaining a small group, so that means that I likely won't be able to upload a post to entertain this group of people today. Updates will resume tomorrow!

We have a good number of votes already, so let me tally that while I'm here.


Unanimous decision to head to the market district and find a more quiet and unassuming place to plan for the upcoming mission.

Sorry that it's been a bit more time between updates than usual, but update coming in about an hour and a half!

Getting out of the noble district for a bit of privacy would be helpful given who you’re bringing with you. To that end, the guild hall would be a good bet, as who your lineage is valued comparatively little there. However, it’s bound to be rather busy and loud as the night approaches, not the best place to bring Misha. Best to find a compromise.

You smirk at the two heirs. “Stellar introductions, you two. Now let’s go somewhere where the air is a little less heavy. Somewhere in the market district would be good.”

You start toward the main path to return to the gatehouse but notice all three of your companions are rooted to the spot. Misha and Seo hesitantly eye the paths back to their family homes. Even if they both agreed to head off with you, and deep down want to go with you, they have a deep-seated aversion to being in each other’s presence any longer than necessary.

Astrid gives you a deep bow. “I-I’m afraid that I must pass on your generous offer, M-Master Yinefall, as it’s time for me to return to the manor. B-but I look forward to the day I meet you and Master Halion again.”

“I’ll make it up to you.” You give a casual nod in return. “Next time you have free time, it’ll be my treat.”

“I-it would’ve been nice for you to come with us.” Misha nervously glances in Seo’s direction.

“Thank you, young masters.” She offers yet another bow. Then, with professional efficiency, she approaches Seo. “I will prepare for Lord Shulein’s return, but I will be ready to assist you when you return. Have a good evening, my lady. We look forward to seeing you again.”

Seo is lost in thought for a few moments before responding. “Hmm? Oh, yes. Only remember, not a single word of this to father.”

Keeping unusually quiet, Seo catches up with you. Once Misha works up the courage to follow as well, you lead your group out of the placid district.

“I wouldn’t dream of it.” Astrid bows until all three of you are out of sight.

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Once night falls, it’s so much better to be out of the noble district. The heavy quietness of it all is suffocatingly limiting, as if instead of a walkable and livable space, it becomes an ornate painting at night. A façade to be handled with care.

By contrast, the market district becomes its own living being at night. The warm lantern light flicker on the buildings, giving them a subtle sort of motion, as if they all beckon you to enter. The crowds and their unhurried and boisterous atmosphere sweep you along like a gently flowing river. Each diverging artery of this can transport you into stores, restaurants, and buildings for entertainment that serve as microcosms of blooming life. This district only seems to grow and grow, with the increasing trade and production of the kingdom in an era of unprecedented peace and prosperity for all citizens.

You’re excited to share this with Seo and Misha, and especially Misha since he’s always holed up in his room tinkering with some mechanical creation of his. But you ought to ease him into this sort of thing. You decide on a café designed to have differing drink menus depending on the time of day. Being a bit off the main throughways, its atmosphere is more relaxed and tends to attract a classy but not classist sort of clientele.

The bartender gives you a nod of recognition as you enter, and resumes attending to his station. You bring your group to a small table near one of the hearths.

With calm conversations, the clinking of glasses, and the crackling of the wood in the hearth as the backdrop, the three of you remove your coats and settle into your conversation.

You lean back in your seat and let the hearth do its work. “I don’t think I’ve taken either of you here before, but relax, no one here is likely to recognize either you.”

Seo chimes up first as she settles into her seat. “Oh. It sounds as if you’ve taken others to this cozy spot. Care to share about your conquests, dear Luca?”

You clear your throat as you look around for a server. “Not particularly. Not to mention that we’re here to-“

“He tells me about them all the time.” Misha uncharacteristically chimes in. “T-the last one was named…Vivi or something of the like.”

“Oh? Last one?” Seo’s speaks with a hard edge to her voice. “While I was aware of your unrefined urges, I didn’t know that you bragged about them to Mishenne here. Perhaps there’s more reason to accepting this mission from Elewyn than you had shared?”

Misha raises an eyebrow. “Elewyn? Sounds foreign.”

“Try non-human.” Seo crosses her arms.

“Oh! Umm, I didn’t know you were into that sort of thing.” Misha averts his gaze.

Seo chuckles at his words. “Neither was I, but it seems like we’re learning a lot about our dear friend here.”

You hold up your hand to stop them. “I’m going to put a stop to that debauched rumor right now. Not that I’m not proud of you two for being able to converse, but if you two young scions don’t mind, I think it would be prudent to discuss our mission.”

Seo stares at you unmoved before turning to Misha. “Tell me more about this Vivi. Was she-“

“Service please!” You desperately interject.


The drinks are placed at your table along with a steaming hot meat pastry for the three of you to share. Though it hasn’t been too long since you last ate, the cold air certainly works up an appetite.

You take a long sip of your cocktail and let the stinging liquor pass into your body with a deep sigh as it warms your core. “We’re going to need horses.”

Seo sighs similarly and roughly places her mug back onto the table. “I forgot that Thistle passed away. He was always such a well-behaved lad.”

“He was my grandfather’s when he was younger, so he had a good, long life.” You raise your mug in the air before drinking again.

Seo removes a rather large segment of the pastry. “Then, I will have two procured for us. Mishenne can surely secure his own.”

Misha startles and looks up from his drink. “Umm…”

“Two will be sufficient.” You lightly push Misha’s drink closer to him. “It’s not going to bite, try some.”

Seo stares at you with a large piece of food in her mouth. “Ough cannd be serious.” She eventually swallows. “The horses will tire at different rates.”

She’s certainly relaxing because of her anonymity here.
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You motion to Misha who starts coughing from the sip he took. “He’s light so it won’t be much more strain for the horse. Anything from your father’s stable will certainly be strong enough to push through anyway.”

“Fine, fine.” She waves you off and roughly hands a cloth to the struggling Misha. “When’s our departure then?”

Tonight would be ideal, but you’ve already asked a lot of both of them.

“Dawn, tomorrow.” You respond seriously.

“T-that soon?” Misha finally recovers enough to ask.

You nod while you sip some more. “We’re expected soon. It’s a two or three day ride, and a rough one at that. Leaving earlier will help mitigate any delays we run into along the way.”

“Then enough food and supplies for the ride as well.” Seo sighs as she takes mental inventory of what she would need. "I'll send Astrid out later to purchase what's needed for the trek."

"You'll be needing your weapon and armor as well." You remind her before turning to Misha. "Bring your lockpicks and everything you'd need to disarm traps."

Misha nods excitedly. "Finally a chance to work in the field. But, I need to get these fixed before we go anywhere." He holds up the pieces of his eyeglasses.

"The lenses are still intact, so it shouldn't be too-"

The doors to the establishment open letting in an sharp chill. The noise that your ears have grown accustomed to stop suddenly as a presence is felt at the entrance. All eyes fall upon the figure that entered.

Standing far taller than any man, and far bulkier a heavily armored colossus looms tall even from a distance. His skin is thick and dark like studded leather culminating into a fearsome set of horns rising from his massive head. His heavy breaths steam as he pauses to observe everyone staring at him. Despite his personal morbid flourishes, he dawns the armor of the royal guard.

Belodrak. One of the Prince's personally chosen guards. An Aman if you recall the race correctly. You've never another of his kind besides him before, and you've only ever seen him at a handful of events. However, despite how little you know of the Aman, his brutal effectiveness in combat is legendary.

Misha and Seo instantly recognize the figure and do their best to not draw attention to themselves. Unfortunately, his keen eyes spot the three of you, and with steps that shake the surrounding tables and chairs, he lumbers over to you.

His voice is deep and resonates painfully in your bones. "Lady Shulein, Lord Halion, and..." He bows to the two of them before raising his head to stare at you.

"Luca." You reply firmly. "Just Luca."

"Belodrak." He grunts simply to you before turning his attention to the two nobles. "Most unusual to see you two together." He leans a hand on the table which groans desperately under the weight of his arm. "Might I share a drink to make the scene even more...unique?"

Seo flashes you a glance to signal that she wants nothing to do with him. He is the Prince's man after all, and the three of you are supposed to remain unseen. Inviting him to join you, would be to invite questions as well. Then again, not inviting him could do the same, if not spur worse speculation.

>Allow him to join for a drink.

>Politely refuse, stating that you're catching up with old friends.

>Write in.
>Allow him to join for a drink.
>Probe him about the elin candidate
Speculation is the worst bit here, but the longer this talk goes the more likely people will remember Seo and Misha together.
>Allow him to join for a drink
Don't really want to snub a 8-foot giant armored warrior who's a personal guard of the prince, but at the same time, the less time we spend making a scene, the better.

Then again, maybe he's an interesting character to talk to, and we can poke him as to what he's doing hanging out in full armor down here.

Worst comes to worst, we send Seo and Misha out the door with a meeting time, and bail to go shopping.

I wonder if he gets sluggish in cold weather, like a reptile. That much steel in a snowstorm? There's gotta be padding, but still.
>>Allow him to join for a drink
>>Allow him to join for a drink.
Heyo everyone, I hope that your weekends are off to a good start. It's been unseasonably warm here, but I'm not complaining because I'm sure the cold will catch up.

For a bit of setting background (from the game itself), the homeland of the Amani was in a snow-blasted very cold area. They also pride themselves on being hardy and tough individuals. So now regarding the quest: While Impel (mission destination) is going through a snowstorm, Velika is only going through cold weather. So Belodrak may be cold, but he's more than capable of enduring it. Good question!

Anyway, the choice seems locked in, but I'll leave the vote open for another hour or two in case there are any other vote/write ins.
Allowing Belodrak to join us for a drink, and ask him some questions.

There’s no way that you can rebuff the personal guard to the Prince without making a scene. That said, it would be best to keep your discussion as short to limit the chance of being noticed by any would be observers.

You flash a glance to Seo to express that you apologize in advance, and then turn to Belodrak. “By all means.” You motion widely toward the table. “We were here to catch up, but more company makes for better drinks.”

Belodrak lets out a grunt as a short laugh. He then pushes off the thick wood table, as it groans on verge of snapping. He pulls together two chairs and plants himself nearby Misha, who is entirely dwarfed by his mass. Even being bulkier than average, you’re sure he’s at least twice your weight.

With him sitting this close to the three of you, you feel intensely fortunate that he’s part of the same kingdom you belong to.

A server hastily approaches once he spots the Aman has settled into his seats. “Sir Belodrak, we appreciate your continued patronage. May we get you a drink?”

“Mulled wine.” He responds gruffly. “One will be sufficient. I still have business tonight.”

The server nods and retreats to safety and to convey the drink order.

Seo calmly resumes eating as if he weren’t there. If she’s nervous she’s certainly not betraying it. Misha, on the other hand, has locked up in silence. Internally you feel as though your stomach has dropped, but you can push through it.

He lets out a long sigh. “Work never ends.” He turns his gaze and directs his piercing eyes toward you. “Here to catch up, hmm? You’re friends with Lady Shulein and Lord Halion here, boy?”

You watch as he rests his forearm on the table, occupying nearly a whole quadrant with his bulky armor. “I’ve known both of them since I was a boy, yes.” You nod toward Seo. “Her for as long as I can remember.” You nod toward Misha. “Him since around the time we were eight years old or so. Right, Misha.”

Misha jumps as if touched suddenly with ice. “Y-Y-yes, I think so. S-Sound right.”

“Luca Yinefall.” Seo chimes in flatly. “To properly introduce him so that you don’t assume we make friends with commoners.”

Belodrak grunts in acknowledgment. “I figured as much. Your manner of carrying yourself doesn’t suggest one of common birth. I have an eye for such things, despite my less than common status...”

Then why are his eyes lurking about the market district at this time of the day?

“My grandfather insisted on lessons in poise. I suppose they had an effect despite my reluctance.” You shrug then point toward his armor. “On the note of carrying things, it must not be much of a break with your full armor on.”

Another snort of a laugh. “I’ve worn this for so many years that I often forget it’s there. I must admit that I have little need for it’s protective purposes, but it certainly emits an aura of poise.”

Clever. Do you call it poise we you look as if you could double for a battering ram?

His drink arrives and the mug looks like a child’s toy in his hand. He takes a long sip from his hot wine and sighs in satisfaction. “Poise is the aura I choose to emit. The way humans have always fearfully gawped at me have been my lessons in constantly being aware of how I carry myself. Not that fear doesn’t have its use, but at times it is a burden. Much like yourselves, for some reason… I’ve come to this less traveled spot to be out of the public eye.”

“Only to avoid unnecessary rumors or the like.” You pause as you take a deep drink from your mug, letting the liquor take the edge off your nerves. “The burden of nobility makes us painfully aware of how we carry ourselves as well.”

His lip curls in a half snarl, half smile. “Good. Not that I think you lot capable, but any potential plots would be reported to the Prince. Then, his judgement will be executed to the best of our ability, as we always have, as we always will. But, as Luca here says, it’s only friends catching up.” He turns his hard gaze at both Seo and Misha.

You can see Misha shake from across the table.

Seo places down her fork and knife. “Trust us, we’re well aware of the Prince’s capabilities, and we’ve all sworn fealty to the crown when we came of age. If you came over with here with an actual question, then get on with asking it. If not…” Seo stares him down, unintimidated.

He returns her gaze before finally turning it back to his wine. “My question has been answered already, Lady Shulein. Don’t worry.” He finishes the contents in one quick motion before turning back to the three of you. “I’ve taken up enough of your time. Plenty more tasks for the royal guard left tonight.”

You’re reminded of the Elin leaving the Halion residence and figure you could quickly probe him to learn more about what business a royal guard trainee would have there.

“Ah, that reminds me that you’re not the first royal guard member we’ve come across today.” You carefully watch him as he rises from his seats. “Well, not a full-fledged guard, but we came across the Elin trainee for the princess’s guard earlier in the day. Do you know her?”

He stops as if bitten by an insect and pauses before answering. “I’m aware that the Princess certainly is exercising her dominion over the standard caliber of the royal guard…I’ve heard word of that trainee many times. Supposedly a stubborn girl.”

“Oh?” Seo perks up, intrigued for the first time by Belodrak’s words. “Are you implying that the Princess has allowed an unsatisfactory candidate to train for her royal guard.”

He sighs and walks near the hearth with wood mug in hand. “Human nobles, the royal family especially, exercise their power as they see fit. I'm not trying to upset that. But us in the royal guard, we exercise our power as necessary to protect. Would the little Elin be brave enough to stop me if I chose to harm the Princess? Would she be strong enough? Or perhaps…”

With a single clench of his massive fist, he effortlessly shatters the mug in his hand, and grinds the shards into powder that are fed into the hearth.

“Curious that you saw her in the day when she should be training. What was she doing?” He asks, glaring at the three of you to observe your reactions.

Seo turns her focus back to you, signaling that the royal guard member has long overstayed his welcome. Misha's glance is firmly locked on his lap.

Time to get him out of here. Perhaps telling him the truth will get him out of here faster? However, though the trainee is a non-human, you have some reservations about foisting your current predicament entirely on her if she was up to something.

>Explain simply that you saw the Elin near the Halion residence in order to get Belodrak to leave.

>Lie about where you spotted her, and attempt to get him to move on.

>Write in.
>Explain simply that you saw the Elin near the Halion residence in order to get Belodrak to leave.
She seemed in a hurry, gone long before we headed here.
>>>Lie about where you spotted her, and attempt to get him to move on.
>Explain simply that you saw the Elin near the Halion residence in order to get Belodrak to leave.
Well, we don’t know the Elin in question, so it’s an easy way to get Belo here off our back.
Heyo everyone, I hope that you're all enjoying your Sundays. I've been running some errands to help me transition better coming off the long weekend.

For now, I'll leave the vote open for another hour or so before tallying what we have.
>>Explain simply that you saw the Elin near the Halion residence in order to get Belodrak to leave.
yeah luca has no reason to try to lie for aloe, he's just curious
Getting him off our backs by answering honestly.


Belodrak doesn’t seem have anything else to share about her, so it’s best to be done with him so you can get on with why you three came here in the first place.

“We only exchanged passing greetings, so all we could garner was that she had some business at the Halion residence.” You respond curtly, but honestly. “Misha’s eyeglasses are broken right now, so I doubt he saw much anyway.”

Misha nods solemnly in agreement.

“Then the Princess had business at the Halion residence…” He steps over to Misha and places his scaled hand on his shoulder, which spans from back to chest. “Don’t worry little Lord Halion, I’m not here to give your father trouble. I’m only keeping the Prince abreast on the matters of his future kingdom." He squeezes down lightly. "If you could help us do that, then I’m sure there will be an even loftier place for you and your father within his kingdom.” He removes his imposing hand from Misha’s body and then bows to all three of you. “Lady Shulein, Lord Halion, and Lord Yinefall, thank you for the company, and I bid you three a pleasant evening.”

The three of you watch him exit the establishment, in which the air seems to lighten significantly from his departure. You and Misha breathe sighs of relief while Seo only shakes her head.

“You dress up a dog, it will think it can eat at the table with the humans.” She comments bitterly. “However, him unintentionally barking about the discordance within the royal guard units was somewhat interesting. Especially if it portends to something grander in scale. Oh, and here’s your share of the pastry, you two.”

She slides two thin slices of what remains of an entire meat pie. You hardly noticed her eat the rest of it on her own.

“I’m just glad that he’s gone.” Misha brushes off the shoulder Belodrak had his hand on earlier. “I-it unsettles me to imagine creatures doing as they wish just because they have the authority of the royal family.”

You sigh aloud as you take your sliver of pie. “Even the pets of the royal family are privileged to social standing that can cause you two grief.”

Even with the Shulein and Halion family standing leagues above the rest of the nobility, the power that the royal family wields is in an entirely different realm.

You motion for the server to bring more food for you and Misha. “At least where we’re headed, you two won’t have to worry about being immediately recognized. On that note, where were we…”

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You came to this Devan worker barrack in hopes of finding some leads on the location of the supposed Sanctuary, but what you’ve come across instead has been nothing short of grotesque. Grotesque not only in the scene, but how easily it has been accepted by the Devan. You recall that the past gods that served as their masters warped and shaped them into a sub-class of slow-witted, subservient people with a desire to follow. They once reaved through this land following their dark master’s path of conquest. A contingent of them managed to settle the Velikan Wilds long ago. The humans that subsequently followed into this area have certainly exploited their descendants’ inborne traits to an extreme.

The howling wind seeping into the body of the building through numerous vessel-like cracks assault the afflicted with bitter cold and demoralizing persistence. Even from here and with the winter storm raging on outside, you can hear their pained and starved wails.

The humans of Impel have corralled the Devan with injuries or ailments into this barrack to weather the storm with little food, and little fuel for warmth.
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Ahh, every second of your brief respite brings so many of them one step closer to perishing, brings them one step closer to joining their brethren in the horrendous flesh pile of the fallen that stands in front of you. It was strangling in there, but the utter stillness and certainty to be found here is slightly comforting. What was once a rudimentary place of worship for them has been profaned with the necessity of storing their dead. Any sort of altar has been replaced with only a singular option to revere death itself, frozen out from the seeping cold. You spot yourself in the frozen crimson mirror spilled onto the ground all around you, tired looking, but still alive.

Are you to blame for this as well?

“Madam…” A voice calls out from behind you, snapping you back to reality. “The injured and the beds, they are ready. They are ready. Quickly.”

You push your hair back and straighten out your clothes. “Thank you, Nento. I’ll be there soon.”

“Unn” He hobbles away, eager to be away from the corpses of his kin.

There’s still work to be done. Work that only you can do. Work that you must do.

You finally step away from the preserved crypt, and return to the sleeping quarters of the barracks, with each step you take echoing endlessly in the ears of the fallen.

Helping those still clinging onto life through this storm will allow you to gather what the Devan know of the Sanctuary. A necessary measure, given the secrecy and its relatively recent appearance in this land. Those factors also lead you strongly suspect that it’s tied to the body with the mismatched head. Which could finally provide answers as to why Alys and many of your kin met the fate they have in Velika.

From a long dimly lit hallway with barely you emerge into the sleeping quarters, which out of necessity have been transformed into a makeshift clinic where you’re the only healer. Almost all sources of warmth have been concentrated into this fetid and blood-stained place. A few dozen Devan huddle on a smaller quantity of shoddy cots with thin bedcloths stained through with blood and sick. The wretched odor and disease looming in the air comes secondary to staying warm. Through the haze, several voices call out bemoaning their starvation, wrack their bodies with painful coughing fits, or cry out in fear for the seemingly impending end. Infecting it all, the cold. The vicious cold penetrating through innumerable cracks in the frosted windows.
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An unused nurse uniform you came across in town has given you a simple façade of authority to direct the very few relatively able-bodied Devan still standing, and to perform operations on those wretched individuals in need. But even Nento, the most ambulant walks with a significant limp and effort. But they continue to act as your assistants while this storm rages on.

“These the four, madam. Over here.” He waves you over to the four Devan with the greatest afflictions. Once you come over, he explains more about their injuries. “The foreman, this wench, and this child in the storage room from wind. The roof, it collapse and hurt them the most. Him.” He points at the remaining supine figure. “He was outside banging on the door. He was the one that always sneak us food. The cold. It mess him up good.”

A quick cursory glance at all of them informs you of their specific injuries. The foreman has a shard of wood of significant size impaled into his thigh. A thin trail of blood leaks from the wound. He seems stable and having the foreign object in his leg agitates his mood greatly. The woman, while less active, has taken a similar wound to her lower abdomen. To make matters much worse, she’s well along in carrying a child. The third patient is a child, unconscious and who bleeds from the ears and nose. Based on a swelling contusion you spot through his hair, you suspect that the roof collapse gave him a strong blow to the head. Finally, the one not involved in the roof collapse is suffering from a major case of gangrene from the tip of his left hand to his wrist. He sweats profusely and mumbles incoherent strings of words.

You've been balancing the medical practices that you learned over the years with your healing magic. The approach, while less effective for an individual patient than pouring the total necessary mana needed to heal them, allows you to treat more individuals, and in a way that obscures your magic from the Devan.

You take another glance at your patients as you try to decide who is need of treatment the soonest. Given that you're trying to ingratiate yourself with the Devan to extract information that they've not been willing to share before, you need to consider who they'd value most versus who would have the most information to share. Each patient will require significant time to treat.

Here you are now, and here are they. There’s no one else for them, so it's time to decide.

>Attend to the foreman's wounds first.

>Attend to the expectant mother's wounds first.

>Attend to the child's wounds first.

>Attend to the food supplier's wounds first.

>Write in.
>>Attend to the food supplier's wounds first.
I think this most immediately, as the acutely vital person. the foreman will survive but probably has a deal of sway. second probably the woman...? I feel the child too far gone if they're bleeding actively from the brain, but maybe magic or superior knowledge would contradict that.
>Attend to the food supplier's wounds first.
The foreman is the next most important, but I'm not really sure if they care for pregnant as much
>Attend to the foreman's wounds first.
Hey everyone, welcome back to the work week.

The holiday weekend was busier than I expected with personal stuff, but I was satisfied with the overall update amount. What I will try to course correct is getting the updates out at a more regular time. This will depend on how today goes, but I think the time that would provide the most consistency on my end would be later in the night ~11pm EST. Consistent update schedule is a lofty goal for me, but one that I'd like to continue to strive for. Let's see how it goes.

Regarding the vote, I'll leave it open for a few more hours and then tally the results then.
>>Attend to the child's wounds first.
The longer a brain injury goes untreated, the more catastrophic it becomes. The foreman and the woman seem like they can hold out for a little while longer before being attended to at least. Not sure about the gangrene.
Attending to the Devan with the gangrenous hand first.

Update in about 20 minutes!
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Medical considerations in mind, the severe condition of the Devan with rotting hand makes him a good first target. Him being the smuggler of food adds a high practical element to it as well, for more than the obvious reason of the starving individuals surrounding you. The food he can manage to sneak off with during such dire times of famine must be coming from somewhere, and that could be connected to the Sanctuary. Regardless of where it originated, you can take advantage of his lowered scruples to gain information.

You move towards his cot, in which he has already sweat a great amount of fluid into and urinated a deep yellow brown stain underneath his body. The simple act of you lightly lifting his hand for observation causes him to screech in pain.

“Why you help him first?! Woman and baby need help!”

“Shut it. He brings the food, they only eat.”

“What food? There’s nothing!”

“He sick too, idiot!”

A few of the Devan argue over your choice as many of the gawp and watch your actions.

“Hold him down, Nento.” You order calmly while you look over the discolored, stinking flesh.

“Yes, Madam.” He hobbles over and roughly pins the Devan’s shoulder into the cot. “You two, come help.” Nento urgently motions to two sick Devan nearby.

After painfully shambling the distance between their cot and you, they slam down on the Devan’s legs to restrain him entirely. Their breathing is heavy from the exertion, and under normal circumstances they’d be one’s receiving treatment, but these three are the most able bodied of the entire barracks.

The stench of the arm suggests an infection of the dead tissue. To know the full extent, you firmly peel back the greenish black gangrene away from the still living tissue to reveal blood-stained pus that drips from wound like melted cheese. For brief moments between the bubbling of discharge, corrupted strips of yellowed muscle bridge the gap between the living and the dead. At the base of the infection, the emanated heat signals that the body’s defenses are being pushed further and further back.

From this, you assess that the limb will need to be amputated below the wrist, and that any remaining tissue needs to be scraped clean of corruption. The wound will be sparged and washed with boiling water, then cauterized.

It will be painful.

Additionally, your limited and rusted tools will allow you to do little more than the crudest form of this vital surgery. That limitation paired with the extent of his gangrene makes his outlook poor without any magic usage, but not impossible. Him thrashing about, which he almost certainly will, only serves to make the whole procedure more difficult and time-consuming.


HP: 11
LP: 15
Stamina: 15
MP: 39

The amputation of the Devan's hand is a major procedure with the chance of death. Healing and sedating magic is available to you, but will consume mana, and continued usage will attract unwanted attention to your abilities. There are more three more patients needing attention.

>Perform the procedure without the use of any magic.

>Use magic during the procedure: Write in actions for Elewyn.
As this is a bit of a twist on the standard combat scenario, please feel free to ask any questions, and I'll do my best to clarify. I should be around for a few more hours.
Yeesh, yea no regrets on treating him first.

>Use magic during the procedure: Write in actions for Elewyn
Turn on the magic before the cauterizing, forming a cleaner stump with less surface area to burn or even bypassing the need to burn a seal.

Ah, my bad everyone, I should clarify that specific spell choices are needed. This is mainly so I don't make any false assumptions about the magic you would want to use. (Not that I would ever do it out of bad faith.) Also, so I can properly calculate the mana costs.


I'd be very appreciative if you could add the spells you'd want to use to accomplish this. My assumption is that you'd want to use healing light to clean up the wound before cauterization. (MP Cost: 6, by itself.)
Woah, yeah, this guy's probably the worst off of the lot. So we have a pool of 39 mana to work with, and we're going to need ration it across four patients, not to mention any unforseen circumstances
that might occur. Here are the spells we have access to:

>Healing Light: Flat cost of 6, we can spend additional increments of +2 mana to add a flat +1 to the effectiveness of the healing spell.
Obviously, this is super useful to us here.

>Dawn's Blessing: Flat cost of 3, increases physical and magical resistances.
Not sure if it will really be effective here, but we might be able to flavor it as increasing a patient's pain tolerance?

>Sundowning: Flat cost of 10, can be used to stupor someone.
This is effectively our heavy anesthesia.

>Brilliance: Flat cost of 1, produces light.
>Stellar Gale: Flat cost of 2, produces powerful winds.
I don't see either of these being particularly helpful to us here.
>Use magic during the procedure: Write in actions for Elewyn.
>> Use Sundowning to sedate him during the amputation process. Then use Healing Light to clean things up
It will limit what we'll be able to do for the others, but this guy really seems like he needs to be knocked out for this.
this is me

I'll add the sundowning from >>5068773

It's going to be pricey on the mp and identity, but he needs it.
Heyo everyone, looks like we have a few votes already, but I'll keep it open for a few hours to give a chance for more votes/suggestions to come in.
+1 to this, just knock him out and perform surgery, then clean up with healing light

Look to the child afterwards, perform a swab test to see if he's leaking CSF, can be done fast
Rolled 6, 2 = 8 (2d10)

Going with both a Sundowning to sedate the Devan as much as we can, along with a Healing Light to facilitate a cleaner amputation/cauterization. This will greatly increase his chances, but come with a higher risk of your magical powers being noticed.

We'll focus on this Devan for now, as any story developments may change your approach with the ones that still need treatment.

Elewyn to cast both Healing Light and Sundowning for the amputation surgery.
MP Cost: 16

>Rolling 2d10 for the amputation. (CR 6, reduced greatly from use of magic.)
The surgery will go as smooth as could be hoped for the situation.

>Writing outcome!
Hey everyone, I think I'll need another 30 minutes or so before I post the update. Hope to have it up soon!

To have the amputation fail would be a significant waste of your effort, a loss of a potential lead, as well as cause the other Devan to lose confidence in your authority. Subtly using your magic is a necessity to prevent that, yet even with magic helping, you must still carefully perform the surgery.

You sigh before turning to Nento. “The hand needs to be removed. It will never heal, and if not cut off this corruption will spread to the rest of his body.” You speak simply and loudly in order to communicate with all the other Devan in the room. “I’ll need boiling hot water and thin rope before I begin. You get that while I prepare.”

Nento nods, gazing at you with hazy eyes before turning to his companions. “You heard her. Go get the water hot! I’ll find rope.”

You watch them hobble away from the cot before heading off yourself. With quick shifts of your eyes, you hastily spot any Devan that may be watching your movements. There are a handful, but they watch idly as the surgery has yet to begin. Once you’ve begun the first cut, it will be more difficult to cast inconspicuously.

You calmly walk over to your belongings. In your pack, you pull out a neatly folded spare undershirt and tear off long and thin strips of the delicate fabric. Your fingers are already numb from the cold, and you feel a wave of light-headedness from not sleeping in nearly two days. After allowing the vertigo to pass, you pick up your staff and begin tautly winding the cloth around its length and begin to walk back to the cot. You need to pull attention away from your first patient’s body.

“Salt.” You announce as loudly as you can, echoing and disrupting the established sounds of the sleeping quarter. The instant you startle the group you perform a subtle series of actions while speaking to them. First you pivot to face the crowd and carefully position your staff pointed toward your patient. “I’ll need salt to keep his wounds clean when I’m done. If you have any here, please bring it to me.” Your explanation runs concurrently with the Sundowning incantation in your mind.

The thin wisps of light almost completely fade away from his body before a single Devan turns and catches an ephemeral glance at your magic. He seems perplexed and rubs his eyes roughly.
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Murmurs from the crowd confirm that there is salt in the barracks, and an individual shuffles slowly away to retrieve it.

After returning to the patient, you find that your spell connected and that his groaning and writhing have subsided as he settles into deep unconsciousness. You note that the Sundowning affected him more acutely given his weakened state, so it should persist for longer than average. Once you confirmed the spell, you pull off the makeshift bandages off your staff, and rest both at the foot of the cot.

Nento and the others return carrying a long cord of thin weathered rope, and a large, rusted pot filled with snow. Nento hands you the rope as his companions haphazardly rest the pot on one of the flames warming the room.

You nod your thanks as you receive the cord, and stare at its length for a moment. You feel your fatigue and the eyes of many in the room upon you. The rusted tools you’ll use for the amputation rest on a partially smashed table near your hip. A hushed tension falls upon the frigid barracks as you think over the actions of the surgery.

One final push of your hair out of your face, and you begin.

With his arm held high in the air by one of the Devan, you use a piece of wood to thoroughly torque the rope around his arm, just above the elbow. Once tight, you take control of his arm and grab the tool you’ll use to cut throw the tissue.

A rusted and chipped bread knife.

Thin clouds of fogged breath come out of your mouth and combine with the others in shared shivering suffering of each aching cold second.

The rotted flesh pulls away from the living easily, but the infection will need to be etched away from the salvageable tissue.

You make your first cut.

The crude blade barely punctures into the flesh of his wrist snagging thin strip after thin strip in its grooves. Warm blood and the discolored black cream of infection bubbles down your hand and onto your arm as you dig into the inflamed tissue again, and again, and again. You do your best to clench the knife tightly in your cold hand as the fluids make it want to slip out of grasp. All the while, a miasma of pungent stench rises from the wound and nauseates you with every shallow breath. Despite that, you can hardly rush with your hands as numb as they are, the warm fluid that pours overs them goes cold quickly. Each raking slice first reveals fat to rend away, then tough pink meaty tissue with interwoven cords of tendons and nerves to be worked through, and the finally, finally after many minutes of painstaking carving all around the wrist, bone.

“She’s killing him!”

“Idiot. If she wanted kill him, she stab his throat.”

“Disgusting, burn away the arm!”

The gallery of sick Devan around you criticizes and comment feverishly as you do your best to tune out their shouts and horrid coughing fits. Mercifully, the patient rests with hardly any motion.

You put down the blade in a daze from cutting for so long and slide off as much viscera off your hands as possible. Then with a flat, crusted cloth, you slide as much of the healthy tissue away from the portion you attend to remove. With the bone more revealed, begin the delicate process of separating the tendon connecting the form the bones of the hand.

Leaving the inside of his wrist in any proper shape is well beyond the capabilities of the crude tools you have here, yet you must do your best to avoid any further infections in the future.

“Nento.” You call out while carefully avoiding tendons that link the two bones of the wrist together. “The rasp…”

He hobbles to retrieve a weighty length of rusted rasp with a shattered wooden handle. “Here, madam!” He warns as he presents the rasp to you like an offering.

Once you’ve torn through the tendon, you pull off the gangrenous hand with a firm pull and are left holding the withered extremity queerly in your hand. After a moment you place the arm down on the cot, and take the rasp from Nento.


"She touched it, she touched it!"

Would that you could Sundown them all...

Using the unwieldy rasp, you smooth the end of the bone with long passes before turning to the other two Devan assisting you. "The water, bring it here."

They dutifully fetch the heavy pot, and lug it back to you.

You pull the stump away from the cot and hold it in place. "Pour it only on the end." You order them with graveness in your voice.

At first, they manage to follow your order quite well with boiling hot water killing any remaining bits of corruption in his wrist. However, after a short time they lose grip on the pot, and stumble hard to ground with water splashing all over the legs of one of them.

He shrieks in agony as he crawls away from the scalding hot water. In that moment, you slip down and grasp your staff once again. You invoke the quickest flash of healing light you can muster before calmly standing again.

With a background of screams the others in the room shout as well.

"Help him!"

"Get him in snow!"

"Light, I saw light! Over there, she did something."

"Shut it. Help him!"

His screams finally begin to calm as the water quickly cools, and other Devan help him outside to put cooling snow on his burns.

Much to your satisfaction, your magic seems to have closed most of the wound, as well as fused loose tendon to the bone cap to provide a well-padded area at the end. After heating the rasp in the flames, you cauterize the thin opening causing the room to stink of burning flesh. The procedure is mostly finished.

You kneel down to pick up the cloth you left earlier. "Soak this in salt water and then wrap it tightly around his wrist." You order the Devan assistant that narrowly avoided being burned.

You turn to observe the remaining patients and see a crowd of other Devan around each of them.

"Pull it out, boss." One Devan goads the foreman to remove the shard of wood from his leg.

"I can do it. Just watch." The foreman cockily responds as he positions his leg to get a better grasp on the wood.

Meanwhile, others crowd around the child with the head injury and argue over what treatment they believe to be best for him.

"His head getting big. Need to turn him upside down."

"No! Need to hit the head bumps hard!"

"No. Need to cool him outside in the snow."

Suddenly a loud scream from the pregnant Devan silences the crowd. She groans in pain before shouting. "Baby's coming now!"

Your heart pounds as pandemonium breaks loose while many of the sick crowd around her in an attempt to help.

"Nurse lady, come here!"

"No! Nurse lady come here!"

Damn it all. Shouting to get them to calm down will likely only make things worse. There's too many of them to control, and while a success, the graphic amputation has them on edge. Then, who should you help, and is there a way to get the crowd under control?

>Attend to the foreman next.

>Attend to the child next.

>Attend to the pregnant mother next.

>Write in.
>Attend to the child next.
Jesus, I don't expect the kid to survive, but we gotta try.

>Tell the Devans with the foreman that if they want to show off, why don't they help delivering the child. The foreman knows how to take charge, right?
Supporting >>5069878
Good idea, keeps the Foreman distracted from possibly killing himself and takes the mother off our hands for the moment.
>Attend to the foreman next.
>>Attend to the pregnant mother next.
As said, we need to make sure the foreman doesn't kill himself by removing the shard. The delivery can wait, and may actually go well. We can check later to see if she needs her blood levels topped/ internal bleeding stymied. The concussion is most urgent. Any more swelling and he's dead or a vegetable.
>>Attend to the pregnant mother next.
Heyo everyone, I hope the start of the month is going well. I'll thank everyone for their continued enthusiastic participation and here's to another month.

I'll tally the vote now, since we have a good amount of votes and I have a small window to start writing the update:

Attending to the child next while attempting to divert the foreman's energy to helping the delivery of the baby.

The foreman's going to have no idea how to do it and will kill her, I feel...
The way I see it-
Child's got a head wound, internal damage and we have basically no medical resources. He's looking at death or at the VERY least permanent damage, the best we can do is make him comfortable.

The man can still move, although he really shouldn't pull the goddamn object out right now, and should just wrap and keep from moving until we can help him remove it, or have access to better care.

The woman should also try to keep from moving, and attempt to keep the foreign object from moving and damaging anything further. As she's going into labor, this is obviously impossible and is probably dead from aggravating her wound/overexertion. Best we can do there is MAYBE save her child. And that's a strong maybe.

Then again, we have limited magic, but that's probably canceled out by how damn bad the tools and conditions we are working in.

NGL, this is hard to read for me
Heyo everyone, just got back from work so it'll be another 30-40 minutes until the update is posted.

The child will have to come first. Every second that passes the swelling increases and pushes him closer and closer to brain death. But first, you have to quickly placate the foreman who is currently doing his best to kill himself. Appealing to his sense of authority might be the best way to distract him.

You take several deep breaths to steady yourself as you push through the raucous crowd surrounding the foreman. “Listen!” You get the foreman’s attention instantly and stare him down.

“I can’t help that boy and the mother at the same time. You’re in charge of these workers here, so I need you to take charge and make sure they don't do any damage to them.” You point at the jagged shard of wood stuck in his leg. “I know you can pull that out, but right now I need you to wait until I’m free to stop the bleeding. Stay still and do what you know, get your men under control, and help me.”

He sneers at you while you speak to him, but eventually he nods his head slowly before turning to those Devan surrounding the mother and the boy. “Shut up and get away from them.” He barks and then looks back at you. “You take the rotten arm off Hraska, and he still alive. You can help, so I listen, we listen.” He directs the hushed crowd around him. “Little lady needs help. We help.”

You nod your thanks before heading off again. You drag the dilapidated table, your pus-covered tools, and your staff toward the young boy’s cot. Once you reach him, you begin delegating orders. “I’ll need more boiling water for the tools. They have infection covering them, and I won’t be able to attend to the boy until they’re clean.”

“Go get more!” He growls at those nearby. “Don’t spill like idiot did.”

You pull one of the few precious metal containers housing a fire closer to better observe the boy. A few of the Devan huddling around it protest, but quickly stop once you shoot them a fierce glare.

You’re in absolutely no mood at this point.

First, you carefully inspect the thin streams of blood leaking from his nose and ears. You pull some of the crimson liquid between your fingers and rub to check the consistency. It seems more dilute than normal blood, suggesting that the liquid that surrounds the brain has begun to leak from its membrane. After wiping off the blood, you quickly move on to check his eyes and find the one closer to the site of injury to be significantly dilated. Finally, you palpate the deep purple bruise on his head located above his left ear. The shallow area between his skin and skull doesn’t collect fluid, but you feel a bulging vein of fluid nearby, under one of the softer areas of his child skull.

He moans fearfully in his deep unconsciousness. Arms outstretched, he desperately searches for a figure in the dark.

You gently clasp his hand, and he seems to calm down, but still murmurs feverishly under his breath.

You sigh deeply and rub your forehead with your free hand.

The blow from the roof collapse has done significant damage to both the skull and the outer layer of his brain. He’s hemorrhaging blood, and his body is rushing fluid into the site of impact, which is building pressure within his skull. First off, you’ll need to peel off a slab of scalp to gain access, and then inspect the damage to the bone. From there you’ll need to carve off a segment of skull in order to inspect your main target, the delicate organ underneath. Then the difficult part begins.

Using only the tools at hand, he’s doomed.

You won’t know for certain unless you peel away his skull to observe the damage, but you suspect there will be a large swollen portion that will need to be drained. The torn membrane surrounding the brain will need to be removed to allow for a cleaner recovery, and then delicate cauterization of the tissue.

You observe the pitiful boy’s sleeping face. Since he’s held on this long, his odds of survival should improve with a healing spell. If you were to enhance it with extra mana, he might stand a decent chance.

It will still be a difficult and delicate procedure.

Motion from the cot where the mother lies catches your attention. You spot an older Devan with long thin scars all over his body and a missing eye rubbing her back gently. The scars that you observe have been left behind from countless lashes over his years of servitude.

“Good. Keep her comfortable…” You start to nod your approval before experiencing yet another dizzy spell. Tightly gripping the boy’s hand for balance, you allow the wave of unsteadiness to pass over you once again.

Nento comes into your periphery with the container filled with boiling water, into which you drop your rudimentary tools. “More things you need, madam?” He inquires as you watch the bubbling water dissolve the dried blood and pus off your tools.

“Cloths. As many as you can find.” You answer distractedly

You’ll need those regardless of whether you choose to help the boy or not. As you watch Nento dutifully hobble away once again, you consider the choice at hand. There’s almost no point in performing surgery on the boy without using your magic. Luckily, you don't think he'll need sedation, only healing. A quick spell would be easier to disguise, but not heal as much of the damaged area as a more mana-enhanced spell. An enhanced healing light will certainly be noticed without some major form of distraction on your part. You tiredly eye the boy, and then the other two patients.


HP: 11
LP: 15
Stamina: 11
MP: 23

The drainage of the fluid within the boy's brain is a very delicate procedure with high chance of death. Healing magic is available to you, but will consume mana, and extensive usage without a distraction at this point will very likely attract unwanted attention to your abilities. There are more two more patients needing attention.

>Perform the surgery on the boy with a normal Healing Light spell.

>Perform the surgery on the boy with an enhanced Healing Light spell. (Extra 2 MP added onto Healing Light cost).

>Move on to a different patient. [Specify who between the foreman and the pregnant woman.]

>Write in.
I'd rather waste MP than get caught.

>Perform the surgery on the boy with TWO normal Healing Light spells.

Distraction 1
>Call to have the dirty water dumped

Distraction 2
>Bring the fire closer and something to catch the liquid you're about to drain.
Heyo everyone, I'm going to leave the vote open for a while longer to let more posts filter in. Not a problem at all waiting on my end because work is shaping up to kick my ass today. I'll be back later in the day to see where the vote sits, until then!
Hoping to get one or two more votes before the tally. I'll check back in a couple of hours!
Since this anon is kinda advocating for that
>Perform the surgery on the boy with an enhanced Healing Light spell. (Extra 2 MP added onto Healing Light cost).
And I support using his distractions as write-ins. If we need another, I suggest telling them to move the amputee closer to a fire (and away from the boy.)

2 HLs would put us at 11 MP, meaning we couldn't get another two off, and that might be a deciding factor for the mother. The foreman I think we can do without magic, so long as he doesn't screw himself over.
>Perform the surgery on the boy with an enhanced Healing Light spell. (Extra 2 MP added onto Healing Light cost)
This, saving mana for the mother. His chances aren't good, but we owe him to try.
Rolled 1, 6 = 7 (2d10)

Finally a break for me, so let's see what we have:

Two separate Healing Lights to increase the boy's odds of survival and lower the chance of being caught at the expense of extra mana. Distractions involving using the fire, and limiting the number of of people in the room.

Elewyn to cast two Healing Lights for the surgery to alleviate the pressure on the boy's brain.
MP Cost: 12

A very difficult procedure, but the odds of total success are greatly improved with the extra usage of mana.

>Rolling 2d10 for the total success of the brain surgery. (CR 9, reduced via usage of two healing spells.)
Surgery isn't a total success, permanent complications of some sort likely, but he will survive.

>Writing outcome
Hey everyone, this is just advanced notice that the update will be posted tomorrow morning (US time.)

I'll be at work for a few more hours at least, so I won't be able to write until late. Thanks for your understanding!
Update in about 30-40 minutes
Wasn't that consensus for an enhanced Healing Light instead of two regulars ?
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You’re all that he has between life and death. A situation you’ve been in so many times before, with so many others. Every meticulous detail of the upcoming surgery and the limitations enforced upon on you are weighed over and over against each other in your mind. There’s a heaviness weighing upon you that makes starting the surgery difficult, but you must keep going…

A brilliant orange dawn comes forth from memory. A warm early morning from a time no one else is around to remember.

”Ah geez, isn’t she the one that nearly drowned? How’re we gonna go in with her as our healer when she can’t even take care of herself?”

I’m afraid that I’m in agreement. The odds that I calculate for our success with her as our support are slim at best.

’Fraid we’re going to have to head back to town then. Don’t want her to lose her cool in a crucial moment.

You meekly stand in that blurred stretch of time with faceless figures dissatisfied with your very presence. You clutch your staff uneasily, and don’t have the courage to meet their harsh gazes.

Quiet. If you want to go back to town, then go. I can do this alone with her. It's the three of you whose help I don’t need. So what will it be?…Thought so. And you! Chin up. You’re only getting started.

You sigh and shake your head. It must be the chill and the fatigue making you sluggish. Yet you still take comfort in the memory, and in remembering how much Noire bemoaned the cold.

But would she recognize you anymore?

With two pieces of scrap metal, you fish out what will be your tools for this upcoming surgery. In their place, you toss in a handful of the cloths that Nento has retrieved for you and give your hands a few rapid plunges into the hot water.

“You need to the same, Nento. But be quick about it, as you’ll burn your hands otherwise.” After watching him fulfill your order, you pick up the rusted bread knife and hold it carefully in your hand once again.

“He will be unconscious, but hold his head down and steady. Do not allow him to move.” You order Nento as you take aim just below the bruised lump. Your free hand grasps what you can of the thin scalp. The steaming knife touches against his dark hair.

There’s no way to be merciful about this.
Yes, checking back, you're absolutely right. I'm very sorry, everyone.

So, as that is an error on my part, I will change the outcome of the previous roll to be a regular success, and change the overall mana cost to be 8 instead of 12.

Luckily, the complications were going to appear later, so rewriting is not overly extensive, but I will still need extra time.

The first post is still perfectly valid, thankfully.
No problem on my part. Reading back, I can see my first sentence could be misleading, sorry.
Also, Noire lives ?
No problem at all. At the time of the tally, I recall being in a terrible rush at work yesterday, so the fault lies on me.

For your second question, I will say that Noire did in fact die well before the events of this quest. The question Elewyn asks herself is referential to her memory of Noire.
Well, this could be Elewyn just reflecting on how much she's changed, and kinda indicates that she hasn't seen Noire in a long, long time.
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With conviction you carve into his scalp with the practically useless blade. Blood leaks immediately and mixes with the hair and skin peeled off together. With small, quick sawing motions you slice your way through, having to pause to wipe the bloody clumps of hair and skin off the blade. The skin is tough and paired with the dull edge, you're reminded of cutting into an overdone steak. Your blood-covered thumb pulls the skin taut as you toil to control the ill-suited knife and cut a large semi-circular flap to allow access to the skull. After time, you have enough purchase over the skin to grip it tightly with your small hand and begin to probe away the pink muscle underneath.

With your clenched and bloodied fist, you fold back the skin as pink shreds of muscle flake off and land onto the cot. You retrieve one of the clothes you plunged into the water, ring out the fluid, and then soak up the blood that oozes from so many different locations. Finally, the rough off-white bone can be seen through the patches of shredded muscle.

You spot pronounced cracks in the surface of the flat bone from which small bits of a gelatinous clot of blood seep forth.

The boy’s legs fidget in his deep slumber, and Nento firmly presses him down with his larger frame to restrict any sort of movement.

If there’s enough pressure for the clot to ooze through the thin cracks of the skull, then the injury is more severe than you had first thought. More extensive healing will be needed for him to survive.

Once finished observing his skull, you’re quick to pierce into the rubbery suture that connects the hard individual plates. The fibrous tissue gives way far more easily than skin and slips off your blade like thin pieces of wax. Once through, you can meticulously pry the chipped pieces of skull away using your fingernails, all the while keeping track of the original intricate positioning. Slowly, with each piece pulled off, you’re greeted with more and more of a purple-white membrane that pulses in rhythm to the boy’s heartbeat. The delicate layer of perforated tissue is itself greeted by the cold and fetid air, to which it emits a thin layer of visible steam. The seat of his soul is exposed as it has never been before.

You set down the knife. There’s nothing else to use besides your own two cold-numbed hands. You pull apart the already torn membrane with two of your fingers, feeling it snap like a thin piece of wet rubber. Clumps of gelatinous blood clots fall onto the bed, as you probe the surface of the boy’s ridged brain with your thin finger. You scoop out more and more of the coagulated mess until there’s pile of the sickening jelly on the already stained cot.

You turn to the Devan who dressed the amputation. “Bring the salt to me.”

He looks at you fearfully as he glances between your hands within the boy’s skull and your face. Eventually, he does as you instruct.

You pour a portion of the hot water into a new container, and then dump the entirety of the stained salt that the Devan brought you. To this saturated brine, you soak a fresh cloth and then place that onto the boy’s opened wound in order to drain the area of excess water.

The Devan mother shrieks and moans from her labor pains, snapping you back into the greater situation at hand. A handful of the crowd discuss what position would be best for delivering the baby.

“Don’t move her yet.” You sternly warn the Devan crowding around her in curiosity. “I’ll need some of you to look after Hraska while he recovers, and this boy when I’m finished…”

Suddenly, a plan occurs to you in order to have a better chance of hiding your magic usage on the boy.

You wipe your brow and decide to take a gentler tone. “Please. I know all you want to do is help them, but there will be plenty of time for that after I’m done. They’ll need to be watched carefully for a few days. So those of you who aren’t watching them now should rest. You’ll need it.”

“Ye heard her.” The foreman singles out a young Devan standing idly by. “You watch Hraska and check he alright. Rest of you, get out of the way! Go to your cots.”

Meekly, the Devan do as the foreman instructs and settle on their cots.

Removing the bloodied cloth reveals that much of the swelling has been relieved by the drainage of the excess water. This is essentially as far as you can go without the use of magic. The membrane underneath and the skull are far too damaged to heal on their own.

After painstakingly replacing what you chipped apart, you turn to Nento. “We still have more patients after this, so drain and replace the water now. I’ll keep him steady.”

“U-understood, Madam.” Nento takes the container of lukewarm water away from the sleeping quarters.

You subtly gaze around you before dipping down to retrieve your staff. With it in hand, you slowly pull the hot metal container housing the fire even closer while evoking an extensive spell of Healing light. The area around the fire brightens, but not to an excessive degree. At this time, your focus is devoted entirely to the complex channeling of your mana into the right areas of his injury, while you can only hope that you’ve done enough to hide your casting. Several seconds pass before you finish, and you settle the metal container back down with fingers tingling painfully from the sudden warmth.

The skull and the membrane underneath have recovered well with your extensive use of magic. Any complications will be cosmetic and hidden by his hair.

Before Nento has the time to return, you heat the rasp red hot, and then cauterize his skin flap closed. The air stinks of burning hair, but the procedure is finally done.

Your hands shake from the fatigue of hours of meticulous surgery, but you’re not finished yet.

You begin to drag your tools over to the mother's cot when the foreman rising out his own catches your eyes.

"Right. Time to do help." He jumps out of his cot and starts hobbling toward you. "I think child is mine, so I help n-" He stops suddenly and clutches his leg as a spurt of blood shoots forth and lands on your shoes. A fearsome bellow of pain reverberates throughout the sleeping quarters as blood pours forth from his thigh.

Everyone in the room goes silent before screaming frantically.


HP: 11
LP: 15
Stamina: 7
MP: 15

The puncture wound on the foreman's leg has torn open even wider. He will require immediate aid if he is to survive. Cauterization will close the wound, but you're not sure how extensively he has aggravated it. This type of injury is well suited for your healing magic, but you'll be able to hide its usage with everyone staring at you so intently.

>Do your best to close the wound only with cauterization.

>Use a healing light spell to close the wound (MP Cost: 6).

>Have someone else cauterize the wound while you move on to the mother.

>Write in.
>Do your best to close the wound only with cauterization.
Spurting blood indicates artery has been cut....Which is VERY life threatening and needs to be attended to immediately.
I hope his stupidity isn't contagious.
>Use a healing light spell to close the wound (MP Cost: 6).
>>Do your best to close the wound only with cauterization.
machismo got him in, machismo will get him out
hope he likes pain - the delivery and healing of the mother will certainly be difficult enough to need more than 9 MP, I think.
Hey everyone, thank you for your votes so far. I'll leave the vote open for another hour before tallying. See you again soon!
>Do your best to close the wound only with cauterization.
Rolled 4, 3 = 7 (2d10)

The close quarters and stagnant air would make contagious stupidity especially dangerous.
If he likes pain, he will certainly have his fill soon.

Proceeding with a cauterization of his wound to conserve MP for the mother.

A straightforward procedure, but the circumstances have been made dire due to his impatience.

>Rolling 2d10 for the cauterization of the leg wound. (CR 10)
There will be serious complications to say the least.

>Writing outcome!
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You understand these Devan and how they’ve been shaped by the unfortunate hand that fate has dealt them for centuries now. Their ancestors, and those in this room have suffered, truly. Between the lives of ceaseless servitude, the bitter cold, withering starvation, and their injuries and sicknesses you understand why they act as they do. When their kin are piled in cold and empty rooms because weather has made burial impossible, you understand their hysterical fear of death looming only around the corner.

Your time here has made you keenly aware of the severe troubles they must face every day, you understand. Standing at the center of it all and desperately trying to steer some of their fates away from that ghastly tomb, you understand.

You understand, but you don’t have the time to be sympathetic.

“All you needed to do was wait.” Your cold words are unheard in the clamor, but as you give your commands as you hurriedly retrieve the cord used for the amputation the panicked shouts become shocked murmurs. “Nento, heat the rasp.”

There’s no way to get him back on the cot now, so this will have to be done on the ground. You immediately straddle his writhing torso and begin winding the cord taut around his leg to restrict the blood shooting out from his wound. He groans as he twists in a pool his own blood. Your hands are soaked by the time you finally manage to secure the tourniquet. You get up to pull the cot closer and elevate his wounded leg upon it.

He weakly sits up and tries to move away from the cot, but you force him down with a foot to his chest. “All you needed to do was listen to me. I will take care of this.” You accept the searing hot rasp and signal for Nento to pin down the foreman’s shoulders. “I will take care of everything. I will.” You secure his leg between yours.

In two fluid motions, you roughly extract the shard of wood and immediately replace it with burning metal. The sound and smell of burning meat fill the sleeping quarters. The foreman no longer has the strength to resist both you and Nento locking him in place and can only moan as his workers look on in shock.

The rough and rushed nature of the cauterization causes muscle and tendon surrounding the wound to be scorched as well. All you manage is to roughly work the rasp out, burning the tissue together as you exit the leg. With the rushed execution of this procedure, he won’t be able to walk on this leg without support any more in his life.

With one final press on the skin, the wound is closed, and you drop the rasp to the ground. “Pull him onto the cot and dress his wound.” You’re too weary to direct your order to anyone specific, but it’s still carried out regardless.
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Finally, after many hours of delicate surgery and the sudden indelicate procedure, you can turn your attention to the pregnant mother.

The older Devan that you spotted comforting her earlier gingerly begins to reposition the mother as you approach. The mother is absorbed in a trance of pain to the rhythmic contractions of her body. She hardly notices being moved or your approach.

You nod your thanks before settling onto the soaked cot to begin your inspection. The amnion has already broken and spilled its fluid, but first you take to inspecting the wound to her lower abdomen. A stinking gory red opening greets you as you remove the blood saturated cloth from the site. The jagged path the shard of wood sliced through her body started shallowly and well above her navel. However, as it carved downwards, it also dug deeper settling into the lower pit of her abdomen, piercing through intestine to finally implanting itself deep into her womb.

You grimace as the entire wound leaks forth a mixture of blood and digested matter, but that’s only one facet to this problem.

The surface of her genitals is covered with a mixture of mucus and blood which you wipe away to reveal a sore and hemorrhoid covered perineum. A concerning steady stream of blood leaks forth from her and soaks steadily into the cot underneath. The blood is far more than you would normally expect even for a delivery. You heavily suspect that the child is contributing to this flow.

Her body is already caught in the reflexive act of extruding the child from her body. It won’t be able to stop until the child has been birthed naturally or otherwise. Otherwise would mean cutting further into the mother and removing the child in that manner, which would allow you to attend to any of the child’s injuries much quicker. Your healing magic is the only method tending to injury that you will allow for a newborn in these conditions. However, adding another injury to the mother will greatly lower her chances of survival. Which means that without a mother, the newborn would almost certainly perish if a willing wet nurse could not be found.

"Please..."The mother moans weakly from her daze as if sensing your dilemma. "Save baby. Please..."


HP: 11
LP: 15
Stamina: 5
MP: 15

The lives of the mother and the baby are deeply intertwined, but both are tipping toward death with each passing second. Given their injuries, magic will be a necessity for either of them to have a decent chance to survive, but it's by no means a guarantee. As you will not be able to hide your magic usage as a result of surgery, usage will be detected at this point.

Pick one of the following choices:

>Have the mother give birth naturally.

>Cut into the mother to deliver the baby faster.

>Write in.

Also indicate how your mana will be used, if at all

>Deliver the baby and attempt to treat any injuries without healing magic.

>Use magic during the procedure (spell usage and targets)

>Write in
It looks like the only practical options are letting the baby die or turning everything at full blast.

Screwit, I'm gonna go full power. We're all in the same "don't really have a god" boat here

>Cut into the mother to deliver the baby faster.
If we seal the wound with magic as soon as the baby's out, that's better on the mother than several minutes of exertion with a goddamn wooden stake.

As for the baby....I couldn't hope to know what kind of healing can save a prenatal injury. The only saving grace is that any damage that CAN be undone should be, with how quickly babies heal. Magic and hopefully sufficient nutrition will do.
>>Have the mother give birth naturally.
>Deliver the baby and attempt to treat any injuries without healing magic.
Heyo everyone, I hope that all your weekends are off to a good start. Posting on my way into work (offsite, luckily only for a few hours) to say that I’m going to leave the vote open until I get back home in about 4-5 hours.

See you then!
>Have the mother give birth naturally.
>Deliver the baby and attempt to treat any injuries without healing magic.
Rolled 1, 9, 8, 6 = 24 (4d10)

Heyo everyone, back at home and ready for the tally.

Proceeding without the use of magic in order to ensure that our powers remain hidden for our continued investigation, and having the mother deliver naturally.

Meaning that any injuries to the mother and child will have to be treated with the tools at hand, which limits their odds. But...

>Rolling 4d10 for the mother and child.

The first two dice correspond to the mother. (CR 13)
The last two dice correspond to her child. (CR 17)
>Writing outcome.
wtf lmao
why is elewyn not using the rest of her magic on her last patient??
Rip. The one place where the rolls are decent

Because you didn't vote?
Valid question. Storywise, the reason Elewyn would want to avoid using magic is that it will attract unwanted attention to herself during her extended investigation. As the Sanctuary is potentially tied to the disappearances (and worse) of Elin in the capital, word of her usage of magic getting around could jeopardize both the investigation and her safety.

The rolls have been rough for this chapter so far, truly.
Heyo everyone, I hope that your Sunday is going well and that you're all able to relax to your heart's content. I just noticed that it's been about three months since I started the quest, so I'll take the opportunity to thank you all for your readership and participation in this quest! I've enjoyed myself, and I'm eager to continue writing with you all.

Anyway, update in about an hour!
You must remember what you set out to accomplish in the first place, and the role that the Devan play. Ingratiating yourself with them by playing nurse was always in service of your investigation into the Sanctuary. Overreaching with magic usage and getting caught would jeopardize all of that. It would jeopardize the lives of so many of your kin that rest upon your shoulders alone. You must remember this.

Yet, with the sight of the mother feebly curled up in horrible pain, begging for you to save her child, remorse digs into your chest like a sharp stone.

The hours that followed blurred together like a horrid nightmare. You resolved to try all that you could to help the mother and the child make it through the ordeal without the use of your healing magic. There would be no cauterization or anything of the like to disguise you mending their wounds with magic if you did. Hours went by with your clenched hand deep within the mother’s wound to staunch the bleeding. You felt her heartbeat rise and fall with every contraction, instructed her again and again not to curl her body in order to facilitate the delivery, and watched as she could no longer respond to your words and her head settled weakly into older Devan’s lap.

Her body relentlessly continued to work the child free with wave after wave of tightening muscle. She winced in pain and murmured soft comforting words to the child she not yet had in her hands.

Finally, in the present moment, you prepare to receive the child into your hands. An emaciated, light frame slides into your grasp drenched in mucus and blood. She gasps at the cold cruel world she has been forced into as you do your best to clear her face of the fluids that came with her. Shrill and weak cries fill the silent room.

A steady stream of the child’s blood leaks onto your hands from a deep puncture wound in her chest.

Feeling the tug on the cord connecting her to her daughter the mother opens her eyes once again. She reaches blindly into the air, and once you’ve wrapped the child a cloth you hand her off to her mother.

With your help, she carefully brings her daughter close to her chest and affectionately gazes upon her child’s pinched face. The cries grow weaker as the mother softly strokes her child’s cheek again, and again, and again.

“B-beautiful. I…name her after my mother. Her name is… Her name is…” Her clouded eyes never part from the visage of her daughter.

Blood drips slowly from the tips of your fingers onto the cold ground as you blankly watch the older Devan embrace the deceased mother and child. Murmurs and soft crying eventually rise from the surrounding Devan as the minutes pass.

Eventually Nento hobbles over to you and places a hand on your shoulder. “You do all you can, madam. Is the will of the gods.”
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Will of the gods?

Silently, you walk away. The high and wet snow crunches under your feet as you find yourself outside in the slowly calming storm. The departing winds still howl and buffet your body from many different directions. Buildings far off in the distance are still invisible beyond rough sleet. You know of the warm smoke that billows from their tops, a sign their inhabitants are kept warm throughout the brutal weather. The Devan are not permitted to leave their barrack unless for work, so their domicile might as well be on an island during such storms.

You managed to keep death away from three of the Devan in this barrack. Objectively speaking you’ve done well to curry their favor. Extracting information from those that still live will be much easier now, but for those that join the pile of Devan corpses on those altars…

You fall to your knees from fatigue. Your empty stomach twists painfully causing you to violently retch as your fingers painfully dig into the frigid ground. Minutes pass with the repated urge to vomit reaching a peak and you gagging nothing but spittle onto the ground.

The waves pass, but the storm remains. You rise to your feet clutching your stinging fingers in order to regain warmth in the deep red extremities. In time, you find yourself back in the sleeping quarters where the Devan quietly eye your return.

You retrieve your staff and bring it to where you keep your pack on the fringe of the room. The wailing wind still blows behind you through the many cracks in the dilapidated windows as you settle onto the ground with your pack for support. You tightly clutch your staff in your arms as you slowly drift into a light and unrestful sleep.
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It’s warm now, but also wet. A pulsing noise like blood flowing through a network of arteries, only, all around you.

You open your eyes and gaze upon the unfathomable landscape around you.

Towers of flesh and oceans of viscera surround you, throbbing, quivering, oozing, and awash in infinite shades of reds, pinks, whites, and greens. Your hands squelch into a floor of offal with dark bile overflowing onto your skin. As you stand, you witness the impossible amalgamations of meat crafted in impossible shapes rhythmically clench and relax. It is much the same in every direction of this vast body that comprises this terrifying world.

An entire tangible realm seemingly connected as one fleshy entity.

This must be a dream in which your imagination has deigned to torture even your sleep with images of gore. Yet, the world around you is warm. Even the tips of your fingers and toes no longer know the bitter cold that you’ve struggled against for the past days. You hear not the murmurs of sick Devan, but only the throbbing flow of immeasurable fluid.

Your reality should bleed into the bizarre sight. The lucidity with which you perceive the sights, smells, and sounds around you is much like being awake.

Then suddenly, a new sound startles you.

A serene song. Comforting, eerie, warm, chilling. An unintelligible song sang by unknown girl’s voice in the distance and fills your core with incompatible emotions. Your chest heaves with anxious energy with every note.

It calls out to you.

>Ignore the song and attempt to wake up.

>Follow the song and find its source.

>Write in
>Ignore the song and attempt to wake up.
Walk away from the madness, no matter how comforting.
There's got to be a better way to find out more information than taking sanity damage.
At least, we interrogate the other Devan if they've had similar dreams.
>>Follow the song and find its source.
Going to keep this vote open for a while longer to try to avoid the tie
>Ignore the song and attempt to wake up.
this is the god of the devan? Or something else.

Trying to remember the song might be helpful for getting information, but I don't know if Elewyn can pull it off.
Ignoring the song and waking up. After awakening we'll try to remember the song and probe if the Devans have experienced something similar.

Heyo everyone, here we are at another start of the work week, but they are numbered for me this year with winter holiday coming up, thankfully. It will allow me to focus more time on the quest, which is great since I'm excited for the potential upcoming story events.

I'm also messing around with the idea of a side story for around Christmas. Something (probably chronologically in the past.) to flesh out the world and a few of the characters a little bit more. More details to come.

Anyway, still writing the update, but I should have it up in about 90 minutes!
The nature of the song is deeply unsettling with how it simultaneously compels you forward and yet makes you uneasy to take a single step. Your instinct and experience both tell you to ignore the beckoning and try to wake from this living flesh realm.

You don’t know how long it took you to awaken from that place. As you remained still, the sensation of the song transformed as if reacting to your reluctance. The notes took on a more frantic and melancholic wail as you slowly faded away from that realm. As if falling asleep your sensations became indistinct and blurred until only the mesmeric song remained. The disquieting melody is committed to your memory as well as the two intelligible words the singing voice left you with.


You shudder awake in the Devan worker’s barrack. With the commotion of the surgeries behind them, most have taken to sleeping in huddled pairs on the broken and soiled cots. It takes time before the heaviness of your eyes and body have dissipated enough for you to rise to your feet. Your rear end and neck ache deeply, and your fingers unravel painfully from the clenched state they were in around your staff. Once your fingers open, you place the staff down gently near your pack and observe the Devan in the room.

You thoroughly check if anyone else awakens in the same startled manner you did from the surreal flesh world you witnessed. Those awake lie in languid poses and those who sleep appear indistinguishable from how they would rest normally. You move on to checking those you healed earlier.

Your patients, save the mother and her child, all recover in the cots that you had left them in. On the bloodied cot lie two other sick Devan trying to rest from their own ailments. They pay no mind to the tragic events that occurred on that same cot if it means not having to sleep on the freezing cold ground.

After confirming the stable condition of the three that you saved, you search for Nento and after not finding him within the sleeping quarters, you venture back to profaned place of worship to search for him.

You find him near the entrance, peering towards the dimly lit distance. He silently watches as the older Devan that held the mother throughout her delivery gently lays her body at the foot of the main altar. In her final repose, she holds her daughter in her arms seemingly never having let go since you first placed the child in her arms.

Nento turns as you approach and gives you a stiff bow. “He was child’s real father, madam” He informs you quietly as you gaze at the older Devan who hangs his head over the mother and child. “Boss takes all woman he want. Fight him, and you get in trouble with humans. He knows this…” A note of resentment tinges the last words.

An unusual amount of power for someone in his position to wield.

You cross your arms to help keep warm in this frigid tomb. “What would those in charge stand to gain from protecting such loathsome actions?”

Nento rubs his hands together in slow and deliberate swipes. “Is not right for us to ask questions like that. Is not safe neither.”

“Not safe.” You repeat flatly while gesturing to the piles of his dead kin surrounding you two. “You mean to say that there’s something more dangerous than what’s happened here?”

Nento eyes you cautiously as if trying to glean something out of your own expression. “Is all the same…Everything is connected.” He shakes his head fervently as if scared to speak any further.

Inarticulate as he may be, he knows how to measure his words. He also hints at something more grave than the ever-growing pile of Devan stretching before you.

Wordlessly, the older Devan finishes his short vigil and trudges out of the frigid hall lest the cold take him as well. He does manage a solemn nod of acknowledgement toward you as he exits to indicate his tacit gratitude for your attempt to save the lives of the mother and her daughter.

Another approach may be necessary to probe what Nento knows.

Once the older Devan is fully gone from the hall, you speak up again. “How long has it been since the end of the delivery?”

“Hour, madam. Maybe less.” After answering he steps forward to the congealed pool of blood that formed in the recessed ground and stoops over slowly. He slides his weathered fingers across the surface and then stares at his hand. “Storm pass. Is warmer a little.” He wearily shows you the dilute red stains on his fingers with dread in his voice.

You stoop over and mimic his actions to talk to him on his level. “You don’t sound very pleased with the storm departing. Something worse coming?”

You see a flash of a smile on his face as he stares at the blood on your pale hand.

His expression quickly hardens. “You ask dangerous things, madam.” Nento shakes his head gravely. “I don't know why you here, but you need to leave. Soon, you need to leave. For your safety, madam. More danger than just storms."

His reluctance and vagueness is much the same that you've encountered when you first spoke to him. Yet, there seems to be more now that he's willing to share. He seems more talkative now after he witnessed the surgeries you performed on his kin. What is the danger that he portends to, and how do you get him to speak about it?

>Appeal to him by stating that since you've help his kin just now, you can help with the danger he fears.

>Appeal to his fear by hinting that without help he and the rest of his kin could join the pile of corpses in front of you.

>Write in
ah well...shame.
>>Appeal to his fear by hinting that without help he and the rest of his kin could join the pile of corpses in front of you.
the devan tend to servility...Elewyn's help is mostly effective. he's seen that. there's no need to hammer him with that. what he needs is impetus
>>Appeal to his fear by hinting that without help he and the rest of his kin could join the pile of corpses in front of you.

Alternatively, if we claim we're stuck in the area for a different reason, we can ask for his help in avoiding vague "danger" for the limited time we are around.

If hearing that we're not sticking around long, he says we don't need more info, we can at least ascertain that whatever he thinks is dangerous is only worrysome for longer-term residents of this area. Or, best case, he is willing to give us a little more info on what to avoid, and thus where we should start looking.

Or hell, if he's saying to leave, does he mean leave the Devan quarters, or to leave the whole damn province and don't stop running? Specifics, Nento, SOMETHING to help the one who saved the lives of a few of your people, at least enough to have her avoid whatever fate you fear.
>>Appeal to his fear by hinting that without help he and the rest of his kin could join the pile of corpses in front of you.
Prodding him to talk by appealing to his sense of servility and fear. Also, trying to ascertain the specifics of the danger he refers to by telling him we aren't planning on staying long.

I was going to probe that it might be too late to run: that you heard a song.
Update to come sometime in the morning (US time), but I am making sure to include this in probing questions. Until then!
Heyo everyone, update in about 30 minutes!

You sense that while he wants to obey your questions, fear is what’s keeping him from sharing more about this danger that he refers to. You must make him realize that hiding from it is truly dangerous, and obeying it is even worse. You must make him picture the consequences forced upon himself. With this and the right type of probing questions you know that you could extract more information.

You steel your eyes on the piles of dead in front of you. “The danger is right there, Nento. How many of them didn’t ask dangerous questions? How many of them did only as they were told?”

His face twitches with thought at your words. “Don’t know but…They need us work. They still need us help. If we do that we safe.”

There are parallels between his attitude and those shared by the Elin, that believe they can simply hide in the forest forever to escape danger. Both of your kind are being killed for the sake of some atrocious plan, or plans… You must understand what’s happening in this town in order to someday put a stop to it all.

You prod him further. “Then what happens when they no longer have a need for your help? What would be your fate be then, Nento? What would happen to you?” You stand and wipe the thawing blood off your hand. “If those you fear are willing to let this happen to so many of your kin, they won’t hesitate for you, no matter how obedient you are.” You reach out to help pull him to his feet. “You’ve seen me help, and I can help even more. I only need answers and a few days.”

He shakes his head even more vigorously than before, ignoring your outstretched hand. “Day, hour, minute, it don’t matter. Coming is too long. Being with us…helping us is too much. They know. They know too much. Every dead body in here, they know, every one. Won’t even let us burn dead. If someone does…bad things. Very bad things.”

Ah, something to latch onto. Those in charge of these Devan were content to leave them to die in droves in this storm, wither away from the famine, let them perish in anguish from their injuries, and yet they bother to count the bodies? They want the corpses of slaves intact?

You pull your hand back for the moment and gaze upon the piles of dead once again. “You would normally burn your dead? Is that the custom that the Devan follow?”

“Custom we follow, yes madam.” He lets his hands hang feebly onto the frozen sheet of blood. “Many months we not allowed to do anymore.”

You knew that the Devan were using this place of worship as storage for their dead during the extensive storm, but you never knew they weren’t allowed to handle their dead as they wished.

“Then what will happen to all of these bodies, Nento?” You step closer to him to loom over his crouched form. “Tell me what will happen to the mother and child I tried to save.”

His bloodshot eyes meet with your own and he can’t hold your gaze for longer than a short moment. “D-don’t know, madam. They take them away. Use other Devan to move them.”

You lean forward and ask coldly. “Who are they?”

He shrinks away from your approach. “Don’t know, madam. You humans look same to me.”

As always, it’s wise to hide the fact that you’re an Elin unless you deem otherwise necessary. The cloth hood that’s part of your outfit does well to hide your animal ears.

You press quickly, ensuring that his impetus to speak continues. “Then where do these humans have your kins’ bodies taken?”

His hands clench tightly around his knees, and he remains silent.

You place your hand on his hard shoulder. “Nento, are they taken to the Sanctuary?”

He shivers and twitches for many moments before he finally slowly nods.

You gently grip his shoulder. “Nento, tell me where the Sanctuary is located.”

His shoulders hunch and his whole body tightens as he slowly shakes his head. “Don’t know, madam. I’ve never seen it.”
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You let go of his shoulder and sigh. That’s enough for now. At the very least you have a lead on how to locate the Sanctuary. You need only follow the corpses where they're taken, and avoid detection, lest you join the pile. Given the acts of body mutilation you have witnessed from their organization, it’s not surprising that they may desire carcasses. But the frustrating question that you can only imagine the answer at this time is why?

For now, you will turn your attention to those of whom you saved with surgery. Their perspectives will hopefully provide different insight to your questions.

“Thank you for helping me, Nento.” You extend your hand once again. “You should return to the sleeping quarters. It’s far too cold here to linger any longer.”

He reluctantly takes your hand and allows you to help him rise to his feet. After bowing, he begins to head back ahead of you.

“One last thing…” You call out to him after calculating a way to probe about the fleshy world you witnessed. “Do you dream, Nento?”

He pauses, clearly trying to process the meaning of your question before answering. “Yes, madam. I dream of food.”

“And do you have nightmares, Nento?” You ask carefully watching his body, his expression.

This time he answers without hesitation. “Awake is nightmare enough for us Devan, madam.”

He doesn’t seem to give any direct indication related to the strange dream you had. But with his words, you can’t help but be reminded of the Devan that rebelled so long ago. Not for his kind, not for any noble cause, but for himself and the living nightmare he faced. With great and terrible blood magic he terrorized so much of the world and even managed to wage wars against the Federation. Dakuryon was that Devan reborn. His long forgotten actions would be a frightful story for most, but for these Devan with so little to believe in... Perhaps omitting gruesome details would be wise, but it certainly would have less impact.

>Let Nento go on his way.

>Tell Nento of the truth of Dakuryon as means to inspire rebellion within him.

>Tell Nento of an altered truth of Dakuryon in order to give him hope of standing on his own.

>Write in.
Alright, so if people come to pick up the bodies at some point, following them could be one way.
As for Nento....
>Tell Nento of the truth of Dakuryon as means to inspire rebellion within him.
Is it better die trying to make a better life, or live in this waking nightmare. The choice is yours to make.
>>>Tell Nento of the truth of Dakuryon as means to inspire rebellion within him.
>>Tell Nento of the truth of Dakuryon as means to inspire rebellion within him.
What could telling a false truth do? No, if Elewyn means to inject steel into Nento's spine, then she must use steel, not rust.
Today was an especially long and spicy day at work, but I'm back home now. Let's tally this vote:

Trying to foment the will to rebel within the Devan.


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