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File: esoterica7.png (6.43 MB, 3898x3949)
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Old Maple Hill. That’s what they call it, mostly because that’s what you called it, and even then only because it is centered around... Well, a small hill, with an old maple tree, and you were a child, and you never thought it would be the center of an entire community.

Funny how things change.

Your name is Ezreal Mious Van Houtzmann. ‘Mious’ means ‘wisdom’ in the language of your mother's people, the Sylvan Elves of Dappulyet, whom you may never see or visit again; you can only hope she got your last letter, before you fled your homeland in the pursuit of world peace and personal freedom (it’s a long story). “Van Houztmann” is your human father’s surname... Well, sort of. He was born merely ‘Rudolfo Houtzman’, and seems to have added the ‘van’ and the extra ‘n’ as some form of dramatic flourish. You adopted it much later. It means ‘of the strong men’. Despite all your hereditary strength and wisdom, however, sometimes you feel like a leaf on the wind—a summoned wind, a night-wind, generated by the beating of great wings beating in the unseen dark.

Under your stewardship—and that of Izirina and Costella Fanucci, the women whom you love—Old Maple Hill became first a sort of sanctuary and rehabilitation center for those humans of Hawksong—the world’s preeminent metropolis—who had been afflicted by the chimeric plague better known as ‘the dragon-pox'. As a reward for your good works, your trio was granted the hill itself and the land around it was gifted to you in trust, to preserve and protect in the name of the fairy court upon that eponymous hill. After a year-and-a-half abroad—first in homeland and then upon the sacred moon itself!—you returned with divine knowledge of the holy arcane, to share with those grateful and newly-sorcerous subjects of Hawksong who had decided to remain there. Partly this was out of pride, and out of solidarity with Izzy and Costella, and partly due to a sense of responsibility for what you had wrought.

More and more, though, you wonder if you really had any say at all...

Almost four months ago, you undertook a diplomatic expedition to the Sylvan Realms to rescue the monstrous son of Hawksong’s prince Cosnort—secretly some form of ‘aragonborn antipaladin’ in service to the Gods of Darkness. You hadn’t done this out of any love for those horrid entities, or even the Prince Consort or her majesty Queen Ekaterine, but because you believed it the best way to keep the peace between your peoples.

You’d succeeded, but at a great cost.
>>
>>5975312
An elven sage had implicated a future descendant of Izirina Henzler (actually the long-lost and thought-dead noble heiress Rebecca Vaz-Yosef) in a shifting prophecy of doom and gloom; fearing his poisoning of the council against you and your mission, you’d taken the Prince Consort’s child and fled in the dead of night. To effect your escape you were forced to rely upon your people's ancestral enemies, the scheming traitors of the Unseelie Court, and to promise them two favors—including a rather implausible undertaking—for safe passage. You left behind your royal carriagement; to the best of your knowledge, they are still being held prisoner by an ever-more-isolationist Sylvan government, where you must surely be seen as an enemy of the elven race.

Two weeks later, you learned that this, and much else that you and Izirina have done and achieved, has been orchestrated from behind-the-scenes by a Dark God of Esoteric Knowledge, whose emissary Izzy had taken as a tutor... And who, the fell being revealed, would one day serve as tutor to your child.

In the wake of these revelations, you remained committed to make good on your pledge to the Unseelie Fey: to make for them a ‘star’, empowering their race and realm as the sun and moon once did before their fall from grace. However, you would NOT follow the Dark Ones’ recipe to produce it, but would instead find another way—a way which safeguarded your people's most precious secrets and avoided empowering your enemies anymore than necessary.

And as for the matter of children, and of marriage... Well, that was always a tricky subject in a union of three spirits, in a land where polygamy is illegal. You’re committed to make it work, somehow. You BELIEVE it can be done, in your heart-of-hearts! But, well... These bloody women don’t ever seem to make it EASY for you, do they?

“You told them WHAT?!”
>>
>>5975313
“I’m sorry!” Costella Fanucci blurts out. “Papa had this—this MAN over, Carlos Something, and he said that, like... At my age, and with my prospects... And Carlos is from, like, this TOTALLY respected family that knows mine from way-back-when, and HE isn’t married yet, and Mama REALLY wants grandkids and ESPECIALLY since I got over the dragon-pox and CAN have kids...”

“So they wanted to marry you off to this ‘Carlos Something’?” Izzy summarizes.

“Uh-huh,” Costella nods, looking sheepish.

“And so you told them we were already engaged?” you ask, staring wide-eyed at the freckle-face, sun-kissed face of the woman who was SUPPOSED to be the LESS-troublesome of your two significant others.

“W-well I spend so much time here, and there's already RUMOURS, and like, Mama and Papa mostly like you—”

“Mostly??” you ask, startled.

“—And Apprentice to the Archmage is ALMOST as good as, like, being rich—”

“Almost?” Izzy asks, for the Archmage is her adoptive mother.

“—and I j-just didn’t know what else to say!” Costella wails, throwing herself upon the two of you in her distress. “He brought a DOWRY and everything! Mama and Papa were already, like, TOTALLY ready to accept, and I... I just...”

You pat her on the back, exchanging a look with Izzy.

“Technically, I didn’t say, like, WHO I’m engaged to,” Costella sniffles. “I just said I was e-engaged to, like, someone... And they assumed it was Ez because I’m always at the Hill, and, like...”

“...And they know it’s our pet project, and of the three of us, I’m male,” you conclude.

(Well, fair enough. It’s not as if two women can wed, after all, and THEY’VE never walked into your tent to Izzy atop a thrashing, gasping Costella with her hand... well, enough about that.)

In truth, you are probably overdue for SOME sort of discussion about your relationship with Mister and Missus Fanucci, a kindly human merchant couple born and bred in Hawksong. Even so, you’re not sure exactly what to tell them... Or what their own expectations might be. You somehow doubt it involves a second woman.

What will you do?

>Agree to meet with the Fanuccis—just you and Costella, with you in the role of dutiful fiance
>Perhaps it’s best to get this all out in the open—all three of you—and to meet this challenge as a ‘trhouple’
>You have no idea how to handle this, so you won’t--you’ll not meet with Costella’s parents formally, not yet
>Costella’s on her won with this one: she dug her grave, and she can lay in it, because you're too busy
>Write-in
>>
Previous threads (and prior quests which share a setting and some characters, though those aren't strictly necessary reading) are at https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=ReptoidQM
>>
>>5975314
>Agree to meet with the Fanuccis—just you and Costella, with you in the role of dutiful fiance

Costella has been helping us with our problems, its only fair we return the favor. I just hope this carlos fellow doesn't do something ridiculous like challenge us to a duel or something.
>>
>>5975314
>Agree to meet with the Fanuccis—just you and Costella, with you in the role of dutiful fiance

>>5975334
I'm sure he'll take one look at us and bow out
There's no competing with elven good looks, even cut by half.
>>
>>5975314
>Agree to meet with the Fanuccis—just you and Costella, with you in the role of dutiful fiance
I think before we come out with our harem we need to become so powerful that nobody can do shit about it.
>>
>Perhaps it’s best to get this all out in the open—all three of you—and to meet this challenge as a ‘trhouple’
Cut the bullshit, we're starsmith
>>
>>5975313
>a Dark God of Esoteric Knowledge
he said it.jpg
>>5975314
>THEY’VE never walked into your tent to Izzy atop a thrashing, gasping Costella with her hand... well, enough about that.
so it's not just that kiss while we were away. glad to see you took the suggestion I made to one of your tournament posts, OP.

>Perhaps it’s best to get this all out in the open—all three of you—and to meet this challenge as a ‘trhouple’
on one hand, I'd like to maintain things calm before we can explain better, on the other it's best to rip the bandaid early.
>>
>>5975314
>Agree to meet with the Fanuccis—just you and Costella, with you in the role of dutiful fiance

As much as I like to straightway tell them about our polyamorous relationship, it is not legal - at the moment - and the parents (from the looks of it) seems particularly desperate in attaining wealth and status and the continuation of their lineage. Someone like us won’t too terribly useful to them if we show our hand this early.

For now, let’s keep up appearances. Maybe see how receptive they are to unconventional relationships or beliefs about sexuality before we commit.
>>
>>5975314
>Perhaps it’s best to get this all out in the open—all three of you—and to meet this challenge as a ‘trhouple’
>>
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>>5975701
>>5975529
>>5975441
>>5975635
>>5975384
>>5975362
>>5975334

“Alright,” you sigh. “I can play along.”

“Tips…”

You hold up a hand, and look sympathetically to Izirina.

“Costella’s done lot for us. Both of us. Right?”

“Right,” Izirina says, “so BOTH of us should be there.”

Costella looks up sharply, eyes darting between the two of you as guilt creeps across her fair features.

“I don’t want to, like… Cause any friction. I’m sorry, this is all my fault!”

“No, it’s okay,” you assure her, running fingers through her wavy brown hair with one hand while you give Izirina’s hand a reassuring squeeze with the other. “It’s just a meeting right? But, well… Maybe introducing the Fanuccis to our UNUSUAL dynamic isn’t the best first impression? I’m already only half-human, foreign-born… There’s a lot to take in already, right?”

“I guess,” Izzy says, though her expression reads as less-than-wholly-convinced.

"Are you, like, totally sure?" Costella asks, still giving you an out even as she fails to hide the hope in her voice, and dawning excitement.

"I am," you confirm, your own heart hammering despite your careful control of outward emotion.

"Aaah!" Costella cries, squeezing you both tighter against her, ahem, bountiful assets. "Thank you thank you THANK you. You're LITERALLY saving my life!"

Izzy's brow knits, but she neither attempts to escape the three-way embrace, nor speaks further against your plans. Not the SUNNIEST reaction, but... Well...

(One romantic crisis at a time, Tips old boy.)

You set aside your work of the Unseelie Star project for the moment, though you have no doubt Izzy will continue to advance it. She always works best when under pressure or stress, in need of distraction and diversion. As much as you wish you could alleviate her of that burden—and you WILL—it might actually help to offset your partial absence while you ready yourself for…

For…

“Oh Gods Above, am I actually ENGAGED?” you murmur to yourself.

It all suddenly feels quite real, because in a sense it IS. You already committed to making a life with both Izirina Henzler and Costella Fanucci, and your unconventional sleeping arrangements are an ‘open secret’ among the Old Maple Hill encampment. Even the Queen of Hawksong knows about it though—despite being one of multiple wives in her own secret affairs, she has flatly refused to reform the laws to accommodate a public plural marriage for your sake.

(…Not that this would NECESSARILY absolve Mister and Missus Fanucci of their concerns, even if it were legal.)
>>
>>5975712
This, though… This is a meeting of STATED INTENT. Approaching your significant other’s parents and declaring your plans to marry their daughter… That’s as good as a legal promise. Couple with cohabitation, the implication is clear: their daughter is (likely as not) no longer a virgin, and can’t even pretend at such. You WILL take care of her, wed her, make a mother of her to the best of your mutual ability, or there will be REPERCUSSIONS. After all, this ‘Carlos’ fellow is apparently an eligible suitor with decent credentials—to deny an up-and-coming family and a young woman such advantages and then to fail to deliver upon your word would be tantamount, in many circles and even in COURT, to a sexual and spiritual violation, a crime against the Gods of Love and Marriage and against the Crown!

These thoughts swirl around your always-busy brain a you slip into your smallclothes and wrap yourself in your star-spangled, moon-marked robe and thin, breezy white breeches and shirt—the last gift of Holy Luna, besides the berry bushes which Costella and the local volunteers have been dutifully tending to. Costella ahs become quite adept as a gardener and keeper of livestock, especially the chickens and goats who you keep primarily for eggs and milk, and each of which she has named. The PEOPLE of Old Maple Hill, too, she has an easy and effortless rapport with, moreso than you or Izirina thanks to her own earthiness. However, one area where she has faltered, sadly, is in maintaining your robe.

Costella is capable in myriad ways—an amateur carpenter by now as well as farmer and diplomat and, yes, even a passable seamstress. Admittedly, her magical and intellectual capabilities lag behind that of you or Izirina—even after you, she and Izirina entwined your souls in that ritual roughly two years ago. However, you two ‘ivory tower’ mages are both specialists and prone to heady and abstract thinking. COSTELLA, by contrast, is general, and practical, and incredibly adaptable.

What she CAN’T do, though, is work the mysterious celestial material from which your garment is worked.

Regular needles wont’ pierce the cloth, and enchanted ones struggle. It won’t take dye or bleaching agents readily, though conversely and frustratingly you can still find splotches of red-brown where your own spilled blood has stained it. Mundane materials cannot be used to mend it, either, since none can match the sheen or substance of the lunar cloth. You frown to see it, knowing that this is ESSENTIALLY your only attire… And here you are, about to meet your future…

Your…

You gulp, and decide you are long overdue for a visit to your old friend—and advanced aesthetic illusionist—Nicolette Testa.
>>
>>5975717
Izirina is still a little reserved and standoffish after your earlier discussion, but readily assents to use her <Dimension Door> spell to transport you to the distant southerly border-town of Turtledove, where Testa has long since returned for her apprenticeship under the acclaimed ‘beautician to the elites’, one Mistress Gartner. In your pocket you have a seal-stamped envelope, bearing the symbol of the Hawksong Mages’ Tower in purple wax—the usual mechanism by which you can be quickly recalled with an anchored upcasting of <Teleport Object>.

Do you bring Costella?
>Yes, no reason you can’t BOTH look your best for this important occasion
>No, you need to talk to Testa privately about some of your anxieties

Do you have anything in mind for an outfit?
>Just patch, mend, repair and restore your moon-robes
>Actually…
[Write-in any modifications to Tips’ aesthetics or style you’d like to see; this will be reflected in the next commissioned artwork. Pictorial reference are appreciated.]
>>
>>5975720
>No, you need to talk to Testa privately about some of your anxieties

>Actually…
blend some "human" style into it, if possible.Since it's the only clothe we can use reliably, let's put our other half in it.
>>
>>5975757
[Anything specific, anon? Just something more like common-folk or merchants wear, maybe--pants, a jacket or tunic?]

Also, for the record: Tips' outfit IS pretty 'human': he's just dressed like a WIZARD. Elven mages are religious figured who usually wear headdresses or headbands if anything, rather than pointed 'wizard caps', which are a longstanding Northman tradition for casters. Robes are a holdover from the old days of the Paladin Kings and their forebears, with trousers being a more recent trend (albeit 'recent' in terms of centuries now), and such things are actually MORE traditional among elves of both or, as their society recognizes it, all THREE sexes, or men of the northeastern tribes, as well as orcs, and really picked up as 'adventurer' became a valid profession.

'Sylvan fashion' tends to in general involve a lot more form-fitting 'athletic' or even 'athleisure' attire and 'raw' looking ingredients such as magically-preserved feathers, flowers, leaves, and bark, less expensive dyes, and 'vegan' alternatives to leather and horn, as well as thin, fine gossamers, little capelets, and a general tend towards (form a human perspective) androgyny.

Lunar Eladrin essentially have magically-created synthetics and exotic materials such from their unusual fauna, with common attire being silvery jumpsuits and skorts, or white cottony robes and dresses. Think 60s Star Trek meets New Age cult, but less colour and more chrome. Since they're all artificial beings without sex differentiation for whom gender is just a personal preference, they have literally no standards of menswear vs womenswear, except that their royal family, who are all ostensibly female, dress in ornate and crystal-festooned gowns
>>
>>5975766
I dunno much about medieval clothing, but we can go towards a tunic. also thanks for the explanation.
>>
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>>5975720
>Yes, no reason you can’t BOTH look your best for this important occasion
A second opinion on all of this would be nice.

As for the shirt, I think the blood-stained sylvan shirt is nice - a reminder that we once fought for the sylvan realms, a token of friendship from those two retainers, and one of few links we still have to our mother’s side heritage. Just keeping the entire thing clean is good enough.

>>5975766

I think - as archmage’s apprentice - a robe [without sleeves] and trousers with some embellishments or patterns should be good. Wear the sylvan shirt underneath so only the sleeves and bits of the torso part are visible.

Picrel has too many laces - ignore that, and the coat he is holding - but the general form should resemble this

>this will be reflected in the next commissioned artwork. Pictorial reference are appreciated
Neat.

am >>5975635
>>
>>5975845
I like this, point to add dont wear our hat when we meet them, its impolite and we dont need to be hiding our heritage to people who are gonna be family
>>
>>5975720
>Yes, no reason you can’t BOTH look your best for this important occasion
>>
>>5975850
Alright. I’m pretty sure taking them off indoors is the standard anyway.
>>
>>5975717
>though, is work the mysterious celestial material from which your garment is worked.

>Regular needles wont’ pierce the cloth, and enchanted ones struggle. It won’t take dye or bleaching agents readily, though conversely and frustratingly you can still find splotches of red-brown where your own spilled blood has stained it. Mundane materials cannot be used to mend it, either, since none can match the sheen or substance of the lunar cloth. You frown to see it, knowing that this is ESSENTIALLY your only attire… And here you are, about to meet your future…

Why would our moon cloths be our only attire? We learned improved aethrial form, we don't turn intangible randomly anymore. So what's stopping us from wearing regular clothes?
>>
>>5976184
Nothing its just literally a magic cloak that was made out of magical moom materials and we like it
>>
>>5976201
>>5976184
[When you received it, you had no other attire that was attuned to you besides your old school-robe, which had been damaged in your battle against the Unseelie Champion and Oncyth. It's still the only clothes you have which you don't phase through or light aflame or anything in any transformation, and which can even shift and adjust to accommodate things like Wildshaped wings... Though its enchantment is wearing a bit thin ever since Nenaias' treant smacked you around.]

[Since you returned to Earth, you've been pretty busy, and living out of a tent on a hippie commune. You really only ever owned a couple changes of clothes anyway. You DO earn a stipend from the Tower again, though, so can buy extra attire if you so desire. Aside from wealthy people and fashionistas like the Testa or The Infiltrator from RIQ, most people only own 3-4 sets of clothes in Hawksong, though.]
>>
>>5975888
>>5975845
>>5975757
[Low turnout on this one. odd, but I'm locking and writing nevertheless!]
>>
>>5976376
it's a clothes update into a family dinner, not exactly world defying stakes right now qm.
>>
>>5976376
>>5976409

“Oh my gosh oh my GOSH,” Costella gushes. “I can’t believe it! A vacation and I’m, like, getting a WEDDING DRESS?”

“It’s going to be a pretty short vacation,” you say, before she gets her hopes TOO high, “and Turtledove has seen better says…”

It’s true enough. The dusty little mountain-valley trade-town has been much-depleted by the last two decades of steadily-worsening ties between the human empires of the Northwest and the Southlands. Rumours of demon-worship and degeneracy among the dark-skinned races of Man have spread, though how much of it is true and how much is Reptilian manipulation is somewhat uncertain to those who, like you, are ‘in the know’. Before the friction between Hawksong and the Sylvan Realms, THIS was long believed to be the gathering stormfront of a continent-wide war. Now, without marching armies or bustling trade, it is just a sad and empty place, with businesses struggling to make enough for the food and water imports needed to sustain the local labour pool even as it dwindles.

“Still, an hoenst-to-Gods WEDDING DRESS…”

“NOT a wedding dress,” you remind her.

“Well, okay, but… Like, it’s a dress for LANNING a wedding. An engagement dress, I guess?”

“Just a dress,” you affirm.

“But a FANCY one!” Costella swoons, and then stops suddenly, eyes widening. “Ez, are you sure about this? Like, you’ve been at the Hill with me and Iz, not working, so…”

“I’ve GOT gold,” you say, a little defensively. “The Archmage has been paying me a Field Researcher’s salary.”

“I guess we ARE sorta’, like, researching, AND in a field, huh?” Costella muses, and then giggles at her own world-play.

You roll our eyes, but that sunshine smile is infectious and, in truth, you’re a little excited yourself. For the last long while, your aethereal ‘condition’ made the idea of purchasing new clothing moot. THEN, you were always busy, or away from sites of commerce, or both. Now… Well, Turtledove may no longer be a hub of international shipping and service as it once was, but among all the dilapidated and shuttered storefronts, the abandoned enterprises and halfling squatters with their tanned hides and hungry eyes, there is one facility which still shines with fresh, paint and glitters with mastercraft illusion magic, in magenta, and indigo, and lustrous gold: the “mage’s tower” of Mistress Margot Gartner.

“Come in, come in~,” cries a sing-song voice, chipper and full of cheer. “We’ve got travel cloaks, adventuring gear for those who crave style as WELL as safety, and gay apparel for every gala and grand ball, for one and—Oh! Oh. Hi, Tips.”
>>
>>5976413
“’Oh, hi’ to you too, Testa,” you reply with a sneer at the reception.

“Oh, don’t be sensitive,” your one-time classmate and long-time friend says, sticking out her tongue at you and winking, hand on cocked hip. “Oh, and you brought Costella!”

“Nicky!” Costella greets her, scooping her up in a squeezing embracing. “How have you ben?”

“Adjusting just fine, though I ahd to modify my WHOLE wardrobe, and on my OWN time and with my OWN coin!”

The comments draw your attention to the contrast between your lover and your friend. Costella’s always been a rather tall woman—moreso since the rite which affected you, she, and Izirina—and Testa is one of the only friend you have who is shorter than you, excluding the literal goblinoids. Or, well, perhaps that isn’t true anymore, for she’s shrunk and additional few inches ever since the <Rite of Attunement> was used upon HER< in tandem with the gobliness Zith-Zi. Aspects of each woman bled into the other, rendering them still recognizable and distinct, but almost akin to sisters in appearance: neither is green, or as short as a ‘true’ goblin, but Nicolette Testa’s broad, spade-shaped ears and luminescent eyes attest to SOEMTHING inhuman (or at least ‘demihuman’) about her.

“You must, like, get a staff rate or something, though?” Costella inquires.

Testa grimaces, and explains: “Actually, with me just … You know, leaving for a week without really telling Mistress Gartner how long I’d be gone, the lost pay pretty much balanced that out.”

Testa leans sideways to look past Costella, and to give you a glare. You cross your arms, standing firm, and remind her: “It was your idea, Testa. And I thought you said it was not big deal?”

“Well, I’m not gonna’ lie: I AM super cute now. Everyone says so! Even if the boys keep mistaking me for a halfling or gnome…”

“’The boys’?” you repeat, arching an eyebrow.

“You know, just, like… BOYS. GUYS. Regular, general, everyday MALES,” Testa says, laughing nervously and waving a hand.

(Ah, same old Testa…)

“Anyway, what brings you here?” she asks, looking between the two of you.

“We’re getting MARRIED!” Costella all-but-explodes.

Testa’s eyes widen, and she looks to you for confirmation.

“Well,” you start, and then stop. “I mean…”

For a moment, you think Testa’s raised eyebrows will lift the wizard hat right off her head.

“It’s complicated.”

“I bet,” she says with a sly smile.

“Shut up,” you sigh. “I’ll explain, while I tell you about the outfits we want to buy.”

“Ooooh?” Testa coos, suddenly even MORE attentive. “I’ll pour the tea, and the you can spill it, hmmm? Have a seat, have a seat! Anything for a paying customer…”
>>
>>5976414
Over small, delicate, and beautiful-ornate little cups of strangely-spiced southern tea, you fill Nicolette Testa in in the ‘engagement’, and the reason for its urgency, and for your visit.

“So you need to show up some smooth-talking merchant’s kid, and make a good impression?” Testa says, tapping her chin. “Hmm… Well, he might be richer, and taller, and better-looking than you—“

“WHAT?” you shout. “Says who?? Whose side are you ON?”

“I’m just making an educated guess,” Testa says, hiding a smirk behind a sip of her teacup. “Anyway, DESPITE all that, you’ve got ME as your stylist, so you have this in the bag. I can already envision it…”

Testa frames you with her fingers, close one eye and squinting the other as she imagiens you in some over-the-top outfit, no doubt.

“Nothing TOO ornate,” you say. “Just… Maybe a little more ‘every day human man’ formalwear?”

Testa stares at you blankly.

“You know what I mean!” you say, face hot with embarrassment. “Just… Something that a regular fully-human would wear when visiting his… His…”

“Mother and father-inlaw to-be?”

You pursue your lips and nod, quickly, still unable to say it.

“Alright, alright…. I think I get what you’re going for,” she says, appraising you for a moment before turning to Costella. “And how about you, Bride-to-Be Fanucci? Anything special in mind?”

“Bride-to-be….” Costella sighs happily, cupping her green-speckled cheeks. “Oh gee… I don’t know, m-maybe something with a big poofy skirt? A-and some… Ribbons?”

“Well you sure have the hips for it,” Testa says, a touch enviously, pouting at your… Fiancé’s… Hourglass figure. “I think we can make it work, yeah. Let me just take your measurements…”

“W-wait, you mean YOURSELF?” you ask, paling. “By hand?”

“Oh don’t be a baby,” Testa says, reaching out and tapping your nose. “You’ve been all up in my SOUL. This is just to know which direction your dress. And anyway, I’m a ~professional~.”

“Are you?” you ask.

“Better me than some strange halfling, right?”

"Stranger than YOU?"

"Oh shove it, Tips!"
>>
>>5976415
Teasing and minor embarrassments aside, you DO trust your friend’s skill and aptitude for design and execution. The next few hours only serve to prove that faith well-founded: she takes both of you in-turn into a curtain-cordoned space to skillfully assess your every dimension with hand, and eye, and caliper, and strips of dotted string. Thereafter, Testa discusses in greater depth what each of you have in mind, and takes to sketching one version after another on a small notepad with a piece of charcoal, until you are both satisfied with your shared vision.

“It’s all so exciting and, and… Like, totally romantic, isn’t it?” Costella asks, reaching out and squeezing her hand.

You look to her and…
>Temper her enthusiasm—this isn’t a real engagement or an imminent marriage, not yet, and you don’t’ want her getting too carried-away
>Let her have her fun—what harm can it do?
>Get into it a little as well—this IS the woman you love (or one of them) and it IS a big deal and, damn it all, it IS romantic!
>Write-in

Do you have anything special you’d like to discuss with Nicolette Testa, aside from the project at-hand?
>How she’s been adjusting to her new form, and any side-effects she’s been experiencing
>The matter of the prophecy, and the Nothic, and the Dark Gods’ interest in your hypothetical progeny
>The whole… ‘throuple’ situation, and Izirina’s obvious misgivings about this approach to resolving the engagement
>The Unseelie Star project, and the challenge of crafting it from secondary ingredients

>>5976409
I guess, but people wanted more Costella, and this whole situation will be a big effect on the relationship(s) moving forward
>>
>>5976417
>Let her have her fun—what harm can it do ?
While she's focusing too much on the marriage part, I don't wanna be a killjoy since the situation is an exciting one

>How she’s been adjusting to her new form, and any side-effects she’s been experiencing
enough of our problems, for now
>>
>>5976432
+1

and

>The whole… ‘throuple’ situation, and Izirina’s obvious misgivings about this approach to resolving the engagement

a second opinion.

am >>5975845
>>
>>5976417
>Get into it a little as well—this IS the woman you love (or one of them) and it IS a big deal and, damn it all, it IS romantic!

>How she’s been adjusting to her new form, and any side-effects she’s been experiencing
>The whole… ‘throuple’ situation, and Izirina’s obvious misgivings about this approach to resolving the engagement

Maybe one of our problems
>>
>>5976417
>Get into it a little as well—this IS the woman you love (or one of them) and it IS a big deal and, damn it all, it IS romantic!
>How she’s been adjusting to her new form, and any side-effects she’s been experiencing
>The whole… ‘throuple’ situation, and Izirina’s obvious misgivings about this approach to resolving the engagement
>>
>>5976417
>Let her have her fun—what harm can it do?
We do want to marry her at some point
>How she’s been adjusting to her new form, and any side-effects she’s been experiencing
>The matter of the prophecy, and the Nothic, and the Dark Gods’ interest in your hypothetical progeny
>The whole… ‘throuple’ situation, and Izirina’s obvious misgivings about this approach to resolving the engagement
>The Unseelie Star project, and the challenge of crafting it from secondary ingredients
>>
>>5976632
>>5976629
>>5976478
>>5976451
>>5976432
You smile and nod, and Costella’s own smile broadens and brightens. Whatever your concerns or misgivings, this isn’t the time or place for them—not when Costella Fanucci is looking at you with such giddy, girlish love.

Honestly, It's difficult not to feel that same excitement when you look at her. She is lovely to behold: with heart-shaped face and cascading curls, with sun-kissed freckles on rosy cheeks. The way she talks, and moves, and laughs… Well, this might not be EXACTLY how you envisioned things going, and this might not be an IMMINENT marriage, but there’s a reason you want to marry her EVENTUALLY.

Just… Izirina, too.

“Sounds complicated,” says Testa.

“It is!” you lament. “Costella sort of spring this on me, and now Izzy’s being all, well, WEIRD about it…”

“It’s your own fault, of course,” Testa adds matter-of-factly.

The two of you are alone for the moment, discussing some alterations to the initial designs and going over some materials and colour-swatches for your clothing… Or at least, that was the intention. Costella is currently elsewhere in the tower, serving as a living mannequin for a half-dozen swarthy halfling women. Last you saw her, the little folk were pinning fabric around your fiancé, and snapping at its hanging ends with scissors—scissors which slice keenly and neatly, with never a stray thread, and which, drawn across a cut—can mend two pieces back to one. Costella has less PRACTCIAL need of enchanted fabrics, magically-made, but it’s what Margot Gartner’s Tower has, so it’s what she’ll get.

“My fault?” you recoil. “What do you mean?”

“Well you’re the one trying to balance two women at once, you cad,” Testa points out, tone still bland and without venom.

“I’m not a CAD,” you argue.

“I’m just saying, when you have a girl on each arm and you give your hand in holy matrimony to one, the other’s going to feel weird about it. And Izzy’s CUTE, but it’s in a dorky kind of bookworm way, like you, whereas Costella is… Well...”

“I get it,” you say. “You think she’s feeling insecure?”

“Wouldn’t YOU?” Testa retorts.

It’s true enough… Even a blind (elf)man or a boy-crazy woman like Testa can recognize that Costella is, almost objectively, gorgeous, and in that way which has widespread appeal: tall, fair, buxom, broad-of-hip, athletic without being too muscular. Izirina’s rich, tan complexion, her brilliant eyes and half-mad smile, her smaller chest and squeezable… Well, she had physical appeal as well, but especially clad all in black and with only sparing use of (Nicolette Testa-approved) make-up, izirina’s default aesthetic leaned more towards the intimidating and utilitarian than towards ‘feminine beauty’.

“It’s not like Izzy doesn’t ALSO like her,” you say. “It’s not just about what -I- want.”
>>
>>5976776
Testa looks up from her sketches, and catches sight of your flushed face. Her eyes widen.

“Oh, so Izirina and Costella are like…” Testa holds up a hand, crossing her fingers in a somehow erotically-suggestive manner.

You say nothing, but the heat spreads to your ears.

“Like Pearce?”

That snaps you out of your mortified silence, as you practically explode: “You KNOW about PEARCE??”

“Well, it was tough to miss him mooning over that elf with the shaggy black hair,” she says with a pout, then sighs and deflates. “When I couldn’t get that elf’s attention either, I pieced it together. If only those two were more like whatever is going on with YOUR girls… Willing to ‘go either way’. Now THAT would have been something…”

“Testa!”

“What, you’re going to judge ME from your tent with two women and one bedroll?” she asks, jabbing at you with her charcoal pencil.

“Fine, fine!”

Testa stops, then looks at you sharply, asking: “Wait, how long did YOU know Pearce was… That way?”

“A-anyway,” you stammer, “enough about my problems!”

“We’d already moved onto talking abou—”

“How are you adjusting to your new, uh, YOU?” you scramble.

Testa rolls her eyes at your evasive tactics, but humours you.
>>
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>>5976779
“Honestly, it’s not that big a deal. I mean, my parents are going to have a FIT I’m sure.”

“You haven’t told them?” you ask, surprised.

“I haven’t SEEN them,” Testa explains. “right after we were done making that belt and doing that funny dancing ritual, I was right back to work. My master is SUUUUCH a slaver.”

“Where is your master, anyway?” you say, remembering the faintly-intimidating Mistress Gartner, with her larger-than-life presence, shrewd and hungry expression, abundance of enchanted furs.

“Attending some trade… Thing… Down south, I guess?”

In the SOUTHLANDS? Well Hawksong’s domains aren’t not FORMALLY at war, and she has to get exotic hides and furs SOMEWHERE you suppose… But you wonder how legitimate that trade is, legally-speaking, on EITHER side of the ephemeral ‘border’ between civilizations.

“I wish I had a master more like yours,” Testa sighs wistfully. “You just go wherever and DO whatever you want, don’t you?”

“My apprenticeship has its own baggage,” you note darkly.

“I thought we weren’t walking about YOUR problems anymore?”

“Right, sorry.”

“AND you have a spot close to Hawksong…”Testa continues, tilting her head sideways and sighing again.

“You miss Hawksong?”

Testa’s expression shifts slightly, a shadow passing over it. You give her a look, and she blurts it out: what’s bothering her.

“Okay, so, the BODY is fine,” she says, gesturing to her petite and (admittedly) shapely-yet-spritely form. “But there HAVE been these, uh… Other changes.”

“Other changes?” you ask, worriedly.

“Well, you mentioned that you and Izirina and Costella are all… Tangled-up, spiritually and magically, right?”

You stare.

“You and Zith-Zi are—”

“NOT the same way,” testa is quick to insist. “I am NOT into other girls like that! That would be—”

She stops, reading our expression.

“W-well, not that there’s anything WRONG with that. But… I sometimes dream I’m there. That I’m HER… or one of them, anyway. The… The other Zith-Zi, too. Carazzi or whatever. And sometimes I get this little niggling feeling in the back of my head, or a little tug at my heart, like someone’s… Well, it sounds hysterical, I know, but sometimes I just think about pestering you and your personal portal-producer there to zap me back to just, you know, check in on my fellow nilbogs.”

“…Nilbogs?”

“Like, reverse goblins, get it?” she asks. “G-O-B-L-I-N, right? N-I-L-B—”

“I get it,” you say, glaring at Testa’s affected cutesy innocence, only to cave with actual concern. “Is it… Bad? When I was apart from Izirina and Costella, the longing got to me after a while.”

“Well, yeah, but that’s because you’re also kissing and canoodling,” Testa points out. “No, it’s not AWFUL.”

“You could come back with me,” you suggest.

Testa’s face scrunches up and she shakes her head rapidly.
>>
>>5976781
“No, I’m no quitter! But… Well…”

She looks out the window, setting down her pencil, and you see that in the margins she has drawn large-headed, wide-eared figures in the margins, some with swords and some with horns and hooves. So too a recognizable facsimile of a certain broad-shouldered, moustachioed mutual friend.

“How is the big guy, anyway?” Testa asks, following your gaze and then looking back up at you.

“Well, about that…”

It’s been months now since Pearce (your childhood friend and a Guardian of the Hawksong Mages’ Tower) and Oncyth (a lycanthropically-accursed elf you made your ally) agreed to ambush an agent of the Forces of Darkness on your behalf. You’d called it off, but Oncyth had held you to your word—that his participation would finally clear his ‘life-debt’ to you, incurred when you saved him from Unseelie slavery. In his curt way, with few words, the werewolf had conveyed that it was a matter of some urgency, and that he had no interest in haggling the terms and conditions of his emancipation form your service. You hadn’t been terribly bothered to retain him, mind you: you like him fine, but you value freedom.

The problem, of course, was PEARCE liked him more.

Logan Pearce is a heavyset and muscular blonde human man, the product of the farms outside Hawksong, magically-gifted but also gifted in strength and stature by that breeding and upbringing. He is also, ahem, a man of the sort who prefers the company of other men… Or, at least, of raven-haired elfmen. For the longest time, it was apparent he had feelings primarily or only for YOU, though neither of you ever truly spoke of it. With Oncyth’s appearance, though, there had been a shift in his gaze, and (as you discovered in embarrassing fashion) it was rather mutual.

“Will you be back?” you had thus asked Oncyth, and it was more for Pearce’s sake than for your own.

Oncyth had shaken his head.

“Why not?” you’d asked.

His eyes had drifted skywards. The sun was still up, though on its march downward from its noon zenith.

“A full moon is coming,” the wolf-elf had said. “Soon.”
>>
>>5976785
You had recalled what the old spriggan on the Hill had told you, about the ‘moon-madness’ of those afflicted by the therianthropic curse. Obviously there was some truth to that, then, and not mere fairy prejudice.

“How did you cope with your… Condition… When you were waiting in Dappulyet?” you asked.

“Roamed,” Oncyth said simply, and then met your eyes with his intense, purplish ones. “Killed. Ate.”

“...Animals, or elves?”

He hadn’t been able to answer, or hadn’t wanted to. Maybe, when the moon was full, he couldn’t even remember.

What had you done, about the problem of Oncyth?
>You’d let him leave, and he hadn’t returned in the months since
[Oncyth leaves the party, Pearce is heartbroken, nobody is harmed]

>You’d asked him to stay, and bound him with the <Belt of Binding> to restrict his transformation
[There will be other complications, and you’ll lose a powerful magic item, but it will resolve the immediate issue]

>You and Pearce had worked with him to help him master his moon-madness without outside assistance
[Failure chance may incur some serious consequences, but on a success Oncyth gains full mastery of his transformations and mental state, you get an Unseelie Star Project research breakthrough, and you keep the <Belt of Binding> AND Oncyth]

>Write-in
>>
>>5976786
>You and Pearce had worked with him to help him master his moon-madness without outside assistance
Go big or Go home.
We still have the Belt of Binding emergency shutdown solution - i'm not afraid to risk it as a fail-safe
>>
>>5976786
>You and Pearce had worked with him to help him master his moon-madness without outside assistance

I'm totally willing to give up the belt of binding, but I'm sure Oncyth would prefer not being perma bound with a cursed item

also that research breakthrough
>>
>>5976786
>You’d let him leave, and he hadn’t returned in the months since
don't feel like making Pearce bed-ridden so soon
>>
>>5976786
>You and Pearce had worked with him to help him master his moon-madness without outside assistance

A research breakthrough could be useful. We don't know how difficult making the star will be.
>>
>>5976786
>You and Pearce had worked with him to help him master his moon-madness without outside assistance

The unseelie star breakthrough is too good to pass up.
>>
>>5977067
>>5976972
>>5976933
>>5976911
>>5976807
You’d initially considered using the <Belt for Binding>, that exceptional magical implement which you and Nicolette had together devised to imprison the Prince Consort of Hawksong (also so-called ‘Dragon King’ of Bloodrise) in his true form. It would be suitable for purpose, keeping the elfman in his current form even if ‘moon-madness’ were to seize him. But then, you’d had second thoughts: ‘keeping’ and ‘imprisoning’ this ally—this friend—seemed fundamentally the wrong approach, even if it was the easier one. You also couldn’t bring yourself to just let him wander away to potentially savage some innocent, and to consign himself to savage solitude.

Besides, it would have broken Logan Pearce’s heart. This, more than anything else, you could not abide.

Pearce was eager to assist, as you expected he would be. The plan was simple: with his sword-cane staff at the ready, your big blonde brother-in-arms would stand by your side while you attempted to first soothe the savage beast within Oncyth, and then to uncover the mechanism by which the moon so maddened him. You bound him—loosely, with simple rope, as day died away and a full moon made ready to rise. It wouldn’t last long, and wasn’t designed to, but it would buy precious time.

“You don’t need to do this,” Oncyth had said, confused but obviously moved. “Our debt is squared. Neither of you owes me anything.”

“We know,” you said with a smile.

“Don’t make it weird,” Pearce had added, leaning on his cane. “Tips is just the kind of guy who likes to help, if you hadn’t realized.”

“Then why are you here?” Oncyth had asked, bluntly.

Pearce had coughed, looking away—and ceasing his subtle admiration the way the muscular elfman’s physique strained instinctively against his bindings, which you at least had picked up on, with some amusement.
“Well, you know,” Pearce had said. “I don’t want anyone getting hurt.”

“I fear that may be unavoidable,” the wolf-elf had said with a sour defeatism.

You and Pearce had exchanged a look, you recall, but neither of you had relented nor retreated. Pearce had been there for you, in your pursuit of Izirina and otherwise. This was the least you could do for him.

“Why don’t you tell us how you ended up like this?” you’d asked, to bide the time until the moon replaced the sun.
>>
>>5976786
>You’d let him leave, and he hadn’t returned in the months since
>>
File: level 2,1 (updated).png (293 KB, 1500x624)
293 KB
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Rolled 8, 5, 3, 15 = 31 (4d20)

>>5977114
“Born this way,” Oncyth had replied.

“Then your whole family is… Like you?” you’d asked, surprised.

“Don’t know,” he’d replied, and when pressed added: “I don’t really remember them much. I think the first time the full moon rose, I must have…”

(Must have WHAT/ Run away? Been cast out? Slaughtered them all in a lupine fugue state? Oncyth wouldn’t elaborate beyond that, not on THAT subject.)

“Eventually met others like me—cursed ones, those who the moon transforms. Met an old one, once—older than most of us live, oldest one I’ve met… Besides myself, now, I guess. He said it’s an old curse—a curse in the blood, a curse that spreads like a disease. He says that those who first carried it were soldiers.”

“Soldiers?” you ask, fascinated in spite of the dire circumstances. “Soldiers in what war?”

“One of the old ones, between Light and Dark, Elf and Dragon,” he’d replied. “Those ones. They were servants of the gods, sort of like your ‘Paladins’ here… But I guess they failed, and in a major way.”

“And the Fairy Gods CURSED them and all their descendants, and anyone they bite… For failing centuries ago?” Pearce had asked, outraged.

“That can’t be right,” you’d agreed, because for all your disputes with the Bonum Chaoticum—the creators and honoured ancestors of your mother’s folk—you had NEVER Seen signs of such cruelty in them.

Oncyth had shrugged as best he could, simply replying: “That’s what he said. All I know is when the moon rises…”

He’d trailed off, as darkness settled in, the last rays of the sun disappearing through the branches of the grove where the three of you stood. It was the same one where you’d prepared to ambush Izirina’s ‘Nothic’ tutor a week before that night, now ironically repurposed for this new endeavour.

“I guess you’ll see,” Ocnyth had said, with a sigh that became a snarl.

Already-impressive musculature, lean in the elven way, ballooned out against the tightening bindings, forming the physique of a canid of ursine proportions—a black-furred wolf, thrashing, disoriented and agitated—almost rabid in its ravenous snapping and howling. Oncyth, in all his lycanthropic fury, would not long forget that he still had thumbs, though… or even if he did, you knew the rope wouldn’t hold him if his fury grew as his body had. The bright light of Holy Luna shone down, illuminating the mass of hairy muscle and directionless rage, for once bringing anything but purification and peace.

“Here goes nothing?” Pearce had quipped, rotating the head of his staff with a click and readying the sword within for a quick draw.

“Not nothing,” you’d replied, with all the confidence you could muster.

[Natural Philosophy roll to prevent Oncyth attacking anyone in his maddened state with magic and animal-handling skills; +1 DC for Arcana; DC 15 to <Calm>, DC 17 to <Free Senses>]
>>
Rolled 20, 7, 15, 17, 13 = 72 (5d20)

>>5977116
>>5977115

You’d begun moving your hands and feet, drawing upon your inner well of arcane energies to cast a spell to free your friend’s addled mind. <Free Senses> would have been ideal, of course, but the fairy-spell was not as speedy a cast as a basic <Calm> spell—one fo the first you’d ever learned, and a personal favourite for defusing such situations. When Oncyth ahd burst his bonds—as you knew he would—it was this expedient measure which you ahd opted for…

>15

…And which, luckily, you had managed to cast. You’d narrowly dodged those snapping jaws the breadth of your torso, pinching your nose against the foul miasma which his ‘dire werewolf’ emitted with each huff and puff of his hellhound-hot breath. Your gentle touch had ended up more of a frantic slap, but it had sufficed to deliver the magical payload, and to briefly stun the slavering beast which, alas, had overtaken fair Oncyth. Indeed, you’d never before seen him so mad-dog as he was then—not under his own transformative power, not under Unseelie dominion.

“Tips!” Pearce had shouted, and had tackled the lycanthrope from the side, shoving him away and grappling his head. “Thank the Tower for <Bull’s Strength>, h-huh?”

You’d nodded, but even in that moment, it had been apparent that Pearce’s upcasted strength-spell could not match Oncyth’s primal wrath indefinitely. You had to work fast…

[Arcana + Feycraft + Natural Philosophy bonus die: 6d20. DC 15/18]
>>
Rolled 9 (1d20)

>>5977124
Well, already a crit, but I forgot a d20...
>>
>>5977124
WE'RE INVINCIBLE
>>
>>5977124
>>5977125
>>5977141
In the past, you’d used spells such as the <Rite of Attunement> to transform a person—to dilute their physical-spiritual traits among a group, to alleviate affliction by imbuing health and wellness. As a side effect, you had been able to change the nature of a spirit—almost CRAETE one, in Zith-Zi’s case—and to separate out and embody a mote of Hellish essence to create Carazzi. You had also, in the case of yourself, Izzy, and Costella, forged an attachment to another plane thanks to <Elemental Infusion>. On Holy Luna, you had added <Wildshape> to this repertoire, the fairy discipline by which you strongly suspected the elven warriors in Oncyth’s story had attained this wolf-shape which was now their descendant’s curse.

On that night, you’d combined each of these spells into one, singular masterwork.

You levelled your staff, the <Archmage’s Gift>, and let the electric energies to which it was naturally attuned give way to the healing intentions and holy lunar energies which were your own affinity. Oncyth has roared in fury, but Pearce had wrestled his mouth shut before a torrent of sickening wind could knock you off your feet and strip you of your strength.

“Take your time,” Pearce had grunted. “I can wrestle this big bastard all night, honest!”

Well, if this all went well, you supposed Pearce would have many a night to prove that sarcastic braggadocio true or false, under more pleasurable circumstances… That was what you were thinking, but it wasn’t what you’d said. The jokes could wait for later. Instead, aloud, you had spoken very different words:

“Cousin, child of the Sun and of the Moon, Adopted of the Woods, Heir to Freedom…”

Speaking aloud from the heart, in your native elventongue, you let your elven poet’s soul guide your tongue, as you rested the splayed, stubby branches of your lightning-struck staff to the black beast’s broad brow.

“…I release you from this burden, this curse, which was never yours to bear. Your grandmother’s house has become bane to you. Your freedom has become a brutal, corrupted thing—a violent nature, red in tooth and claw. Freedom has become a prison—a chaos which defies even the gentle guidance of a thinking mind, a noble heart. The body with which you were born has become prison to your mind and soul… And I now free you.”

You tapped his left shoulder.

“I free you from your ancestral obligations, and your bloodline’s history, and your own.”

You felt it then: the snapping of an unseen string, a binding cord broken. The moonlight of the clearing shimmered, sparkled, flickered. The snarling savage before you settled somewhat, staring with uncomprehending confusion.

You took a breath, and moved your staff to the right shoulder now, and spoke again:

“I free you from your curse, and your madness, and your guilt.”
>>
>>5977159
You pulled the staff back from him then, evading snapping jaws that sprung loose from Pearce’s grasp. You jumped back as your burlier battle-mage companion stepped in to shield you, but…

“It’s okay,” you said.

>20

Oncyth had wailed, whined, and eventually howled in despair, and pain, and eventually in an ecstatic relief. The werewolf reared up on his hind legs, swatting and grasping at some invisible, intangible thing that had always been ether, and was no longer. Eventually, fur and fury and finally that fell form melted away, revealing a familiar, still rather impressively-built elfman, who fell to his hands and knees, gasping, and sobbing…

And finally, laughing. It was the first time you’d ever heard Oncyth laugh.

“Are… Are you alright?” Pearce had asked, taking off his robe and offering it to Oncyth, who simply nodded and accepted it, and your human friend’s gentle hands upon his shoulders.

“I’m free,” he’d replied. “I’m… I’m me.

Oncyth had looked to you then, in undisguised awe and gratitude.

“I just thought back to something the Nothic said,” you admit, cringing a little. “It had said that part of making the Unseelie’s star work would be severing their connection to the Celestial Gods, and then connecting them to something new. So, since you were obviously connected to the moon…”

“…You broke my connection to it,” Oncyth finished. “To them… The Goddesses of the Moon.”

You nodded, a little frightened by what you’d done, but also hopeful. After all, that experience—observing that transformation with a mage’s eyes, and a disciple’s sensibilities—was a breakthrough not just for Oncyth, but for YOU. Delving into the matrix of magic surrounding it, breaking some connections and establishing others… Freeing his senses, imbuing him with a connection not to Holy Luna or Holy Sol but to Old Maple Hill and the ambient energies here, it had weakened Oncyth…

But it would also serve as the blueprint for the Unseelie Star, and the uncertain future it heralded.

>UNLOCKED: The Rite of Attunement can be used to break a connection between a being and their 'native' plane or deities, and connect them to a new power-source

...

...
>>
>>5977162
"...So," you conclude your story to a plainly-riveted Nicolette Testa, "last I saw him, Pearce was doing quite well. He's been coming by Old Maple Hill to see Oncyth every few days... And from what I hear, Oncyth might be going to visit the family farm soon."

"Oooh?" Testa asked. "Moving pretty fast, then, are they?"

"Well, as far as the Pearces know, Oncyth's just... A friend."

"Right. A 'roommate' soon, do you figure?" Testa asked wryly, finishing her tea.

"One step at a time," you said with a smile, taking the small kettle set betwixt the two of your and pouring your own.


What spell did you add to your standard repertoire that night?
>Greater Disjunction: You can sever a mage or magical creature, even a divinely-empowered one, from the source of its energies, instantly ending or preventing transformations and illusions, or otherwise dramatically weakening a foe
>Remove Curse: You can immediately end magical or physical afflictions, or even a divine geas, with your magic, curing even divine afflictions with a healing touch and granting true free will
>Imbue Wildshape: You can freely, and almost instantly, transfer characteristics from one being to another, allowing you or nearby individuals to shapeshift into a wide variety of animal forms... Including that of a powerful lupine humanoid

Also, choose one stat to increase:
>Arcana
>Natural Philosophy
>Courage
>Religion
>>
>>5977163
>Greater Disjunction: You can sever a mage or magical creature, even a divinely-empowered one, from the source of its energies, instantly ending or preventing transformations and illusions, or otherwise dramatically weakening a foe
In an age of high magic the ability to shut down magic seems pretty handy

>Arcana
>>
>>5977163
Remove curse and disjunction are both good… ah, man. This is tough.

>Greater Disjunction: You can sever a mage or magical creature, even a divinely-empowered one, from the source of its energies, instantly ending or preventing transformations and illusions, or otherwise dramatically weakening a foe

It covers more ground. We might need it in a fight.

>Arcana
>>
>>5977163
>Imbue Wildshape: You can freely, and almost instantly, transfer characteristics from one being to another, allowing you or nearby individuals to shapeshift into a wide variety of animal forms... Including that of a powerful lupine humanoid

This spell is more inline with our long term research. And tip's theorizes that a version of this spell is what the fey used to create lycanthropes.

We could turn veloz into a weredragon or else cool like that. And i don't we are going to being fighting any more mages or people who draw on extra-planar energy any time soon.
>>
>>5977163
>Greater Disjunction: You can sever a mage or magical creature, even a divinely-empowered one, from the source of its energies, instantly ending or preventing transformations and illusions, or otherwise dramatically weakening a foe

>Arcana
>>
>>5977163
Abandon your futile quest and visit Witch Queen Mazela for her blessings
>>
>>5977349
[Wrong quest, anon.]
>>
Bait used to be believable.
>>
>>5977163
>>Greater Disjunction: You can sever a mage or magical creature, even a divinely-empowered one, from the source of its energies, instantly ending or preventing transformations and illusions, or otherwise dramatically weakening a foe
In case we need to fight the dark gods' servants
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>>5977465
>>5977319
>>5977275
>>5977254
>>5977221
>+1 Arcana
>Learned: Greater Disjunction

“…Anyway, as a former ‘elven roommate’ of Pearce’s, I resent the implication.”

“Well I don’t know hat you DIDN’T ever do anything.”

“I did NOT—”

“Suuure, Tips.”

“Testa, I swear on all that’s holy and natural hat I will—”

“…Um, hey!”

Both you and Testa look up for your traditional friendly squabbling at the sound of another voice from the doorway. You gasp a little to see Costella there, beautiful as ever, but now clad in a stylishly sleeveless dress, dark cyan and white and with white elbow-length gloves. In one hand she clutches what looks to be a purse of the same hue, albeit covered in some sort of soft fur, while in the other she holds a detachable cowl or capelet of the same material in white—too hot for desert daytime temperatures, but no doubt useful for a Hawksong or Old maple Hill winter. The halfling assistants, working under Testa’s instructions, have produced a something at once elegant and, well, rather SEXY—cinched up beneath Costella’s not-unimpressive bosom, with the skirt of the dress flaring out and cascading won beneath it, it accentuates her figure incredibly well, and the colour brings out her eyes and suits her freckles, which fleck her cleavage, neck, and face like seafoam from the faint oceanic dress. Lace accents only add to the effect, so it becomes easy to imagine this woman as some sort of sea-born oceanid fey.

“Wow!” you simply say.

“Good work, girls!~” Testa hails the little women peaking out from behind Costella.

You go to your fiancé and, a little swept up in the moment despite yourself, your hands find her hips as you look her up and down.

“So, like, you liiike it?” Costella asks, cheeks a little rosy at the public display of affection.

“You’re stunning,” you tell her.

“It’s not exactly, like, a WEDDING dress, though, like you said,” Costella notes.

“It’s not exactly a wedding you say,” and then add: “Yet.”

Costella’s flush deepens, and she giggles, and you exchange a quick peck on the lips before turning to Nicolette Testa and the halfling women who have assembled to discuss their craft with her.

“We’ll have to hire this fine establishment's services again someday in the future, when we’re ready for an actual ceremony,” you say, loudly enough to be heard over the excited chatter of the half-dozen little women.

Testa takes a bow, and grins, adding: “We’re not done here yet, though. Your turn, now! Girls, strip him!”

“H-hey,” you blurt out, “wait a minute!”
>>
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>>5977617
But there is no waiting. Many small but determined hands push you along, pinching or poking you whenever you object or push back. Soon enough they’ve ripped away your outer attire to reveal your blood-stained undershirt and trousers, both of that pristine and somewhat-reflective Lunar white. They coo and pull gently at the fabric, admiring the material and clucking their tongues at the rips and stains, speaking quickly in a patois-common that is difficult for you to follow.

“W-what was that, again? Slower, please?”

"You spoil up dis outfit nasty, man. Yuh want we fuh change um straight, or keep some ah um?"

“Oh, uh… Keep the shirt, maybe?”

"Yeah, man,” the halfling woman replies skeptically. “You is de boss."

"De customa always right,” agrees another.

The bloodstains will be covered up, based on the designs Testa had been doodling, but the shirt itself has a great deal of sentimental value to you—as a gift from Nym and Devi, the Lunar Eladrin who had been your attendants and friends for a year, as a reminder to yourself and others of your journey to Holy Luna and your time as a student of the Sacrae Scholae Lunae, and even the red-blown flecks and splotches serve as a reminder of your struggles for (and against) the Sylvan Realms. Hidden and kept close to your breast, the fine glossy shirt brings you a strange sense of comfort and continuity, even as a very different, much more ‘fashionable’ sleeveless tunic-robe is constructed around you and your pants replaced with a patterned pair.

"You wan some symbol?” asks one of the halfling girls.

“Uh?”

She puts her hands on her hips and frowns, attempting to clarify: “Coat of arms, or a company stamp, or suh?"

“Well…”
>You request the stoat symbol of your father, Rudolfo, which he wore upon his adventuring outfit
>You request the New Moon symbol of Princess Miannie, your mother’s patron deity
>You request a symbol of the Hawksong Mages’ Tower, the so-called spire-and-star
>You take a symbol of your own—perhaps a maple leaf and cluster of berries, to represent the Hill?
>No need—your words and actions will speak for themselves
>Write-in

[C]
>>
>>5977621
With you and Costella both festooned in fine fabric once more, and both looking quite good in your estimation, you pay up and bid your friend Testa a fond farewell.

“What, no friends-and-family discount?” you ask.

“I ought to add a ‘shrunk me two inches shorter without asking’ tax, really,” Testa replies, taking your jingle coin-purse with a smile and wink.

“Yeah, yeah,” you sigh.

“Don’t be a stranger, okay?” Costella adds. “Iz can, like, totally whip up a portal and bring you over any time you feel like it!”

“It WAS nice catching up,” Testa admits, and looks wistful.

“I’m sure Zith-Zi and Carazzi would be happy to see you, too.”

Testa shoots you a half-hearted glare.

“Huh?” Costella asks, leaning in to whisper into your ear: “What’s THAT about?”

“I’ll fill you in n the way home,” you tell her, and shortly thereafter you make your leave and do so.

Is there anything else you discuss with Testa before you leave?
>Yes [write-in]
>No

Do you have anything else to discuss with Costella before the meeting with her parents?
>So, what’s this ‘Carlos’ guy like? Should you expect any trouble?
>What did she mean her parents MOSTLY like you?
>Maybe Costella has some thoughts about how to cheer Izzy up?
>It might be a good idea to temper expectations a LITTLE—you aren’t so sure about setting a date for any weddings until this ‘plural marriage’ matter is sorted, for instance
>No need—let’s just get this ‘engagement’ sorted out and get back to work
>Write-in
>>
>>5977621
>No need—your words and actions will speak for themselves
>>5977626
>No
>What did she mean her parents MOSTLY like you?
>Maybe Costella has some thoughts about how to cheer Izzy up?
>It might be a good idea to temper expectations a LITTLE—you aren’t so sure about setting a date for any weddings until this ‘plural marriage’ matter is sorted, for instance
>>
>>5977621
>You request the New Moon symbol of Princess Miannie, your mother’s patron deity
I’m still interested in that Moon magic, damnit!

>>5977626
>Yes [Shirin]
Vision quest! Besides, a callback to the Infiltrator days would be nice.

>So, what’s this ‘Carlos’ guy like? Should you expect any trouble?
>What did she mean her parents MOSTLY like you?
>Maybe Costella has some thoughts about how to cheer Izzy up?
>It might be a good idea to temper expectations a LITTLE—you aren’t so sure about setting a date for any weddings until this ‘plural marriage’ matter is sorted, for instance
The first two are for comedic value, the second two are more serious.
>>
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>>5977621
Symbol breakdown:

Central spike represents the archmage’s tower and the pursuit of the stars
Circle represents the moon
Right side (field of spikes) represents the old maple hill - large spike in the middle is the elderly tree spirit
Left side (open palm hand) represents our commitment to pacifism and preservation of life

any similarities to the Dishonored symbol is completely intentional.

>>5977626
>So, what’s this ‘Carlos’ guy like? Should you expect any trouble?
>What did she mean her parents MOSTLY like you?
>It might be a good idea to temper expectations a LITTLE—you aren’t so sure about setting a date for any weddings until this ‘plural marriage’ matter is sorted, for instance
Tell them straightway our relatives live in the syvlan realms; they will not be able to attend any events in hawksong for the foreseeable future.
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>>5977621
>>You take a symbol of your own—perhaps a maple leaf and cluster of berries, to represent the Hill?
>>
>>5977729

am >>5977254
>>
>Maybe Costella has some thoughts about how to cheer Izzy up?
>It might be a good idea to temper expectations a LITTLE—you aren’t so sure about setting a date for any weddings until this ‘plural marriage’ matter is sorted, for instance
>>
>>5977621
>You request the New Moon symbol of Princess Miannie, your mother’s patron deity
Symbolic olive branch

>No
>Maybe Costella has some thoughts about how to cheer Izzy up?
>It might be a good idea to temper expectations a LITTLE—you aren’t so sure about setting a date for any weddings until this ‘plural marriage’ matter is sorted, for instance
These are related, and I'm sure Costella wants Izzy to be happy too
>>
>>5977736
>>5977732
>>5977730
>>5977729
>>5977715
>>5977656
Before you activate the enchanted envelope which Izirina left in your care, you take a moment to gaze down upon the symbol sewn onto the breast of your new robes—a last-minute addition, spurred on by the halfling seamstress’ heraldic inquiries. Neither the Miouses nor the Houtzmans really have any symbol of that nature, not being nobles or founders of any royally-recognized guild or Sylvan holy order. As much as you've come to love your father, the 'Van Houtzmann Weasel' isn't really an adequate substitute, and will only draw more attention to your unimpressive pedigree and lack of wealthy family backing if it gets brought up. In lieu of this, you invented your own--a representation of your journey, your accomplishments, and the status you DO have: a central circular shape to represent Holy Luna—still sacred to you, even now—with a spire attesting to your status as Archmage’s Apprentice. To either side, you styled smaller protrusions represent Old Maple Hill (not YOUR land exactly, but certainly emblematic of your importance to Hawksong) and the open palm of greeting and peace.

“What’s it mean?” Costella asks, unexpectedly close to you and staring down at the same symbol.

“Just something I came up with, to show that you’re not engaged to some vagrant,” you say modestly, and not just because you feel a little self-conscious explaining every influence aloud.

“Well DUH,” Costella says with a smile, pulling you into a hug and looking down into your eyes. “I’m only engaged to a HERO who goes around, like, saving lives and stopping WARS all day!”

“Well, maybe not EVERY day,” you say, though you can’t help but smile.

“Thanks for bringing me along, Ez, really.” Costella says. “And for the dress, but mostly… It was, like, really nice to have just some ‘us’ time. I know I’m not really any help on all those magicky projects you and Iz get up to…”

“Hey, none of that,” you scold her gently. “We’ve talked about this. You’re the one who keeps the Hill GOING while we’re busy with ‘magicky’ stuff.”

“W-well, either way, it was nice to have a ‘date day’, just the two of us… And Nicky… And a bunch of halflings.”

She squeezes your hand.

“Time to go?”

You nod, and turn to wave to the Margot’s Tower. Testa and her helpers all wave back from the window of the strange little boutique’s third floor. Then, you produce the envelope from your pocket, place your fingers upon the lilac seal, and will a small portion of your magic into the sigil to active the enchantment within. A moment later, the two of you are reunited with Izirina just outside your familiar tent.

“Oh!” Izzy says, looking at the two of your in your fanciful new attire. “…You both look nice.”
>>
>>5977780
“Thanks, Iz!” Costella says, giving her a big squeeze. “We should like, TOTALLY get Testa to do up an outfit for you.”

“I already have two sets of robes and one pair of sleep-clothes,” Izirina notes neutrally, but with a hint of hope adds: “I DO have quite a bit of gold in my personal account, though…”

She looks at you, and her brow furrows for just a second.

“Another time, maybe. After things are sorted out in regards to this… Engagement.”

Izirina retires unusually early, leaving you and Costella alone again. Of course, it’s a shared tent, but the shift in her tone and body language gives you pause.

“Do you think taking her to get a dress might cheer her up?” you ask Costella in hushed tone, for you can see our OTHER significant is concerned as well.

“Well shopping always makes ME feel better!” Costella’s easy smile turns back to a frown as she looks towards the tent. “But, like… I think Iz is a little different than me that way.”

“Testa thought this whole ‘engagement’ thing might be making her feel… Insecure.”

Costella’s frown turns to an expression of outright dismay.

“Oh gosh, she probably feels like it’s just you and me getting married and, like, leaving her out! I knew it, I, like, messed everything up!”

“Hey, hey,” you say, taking her hand in yours and forcing her to meet your gaze and NOT to charge into the tent. “It’s fine. After all… Any marriage is a long ways off, right? This is just to make your parents feel more comfortable… Right?”

“R-right,” Costella mumbles, a little crestfallen.

“We’re all committed to one another,” you press on, trying to resuscitate her spirits. “TOGETHER, we’ll make this work.”

“Well, like… Maybe then what we ought to do is some sort of… Together-thing? Like… Like a little trip, the three of us, once, like, everything’s cleared up with Mama and Papa!”

You smile and nod. It sounds like a good idea to you! Though, well, it depends on how things progress on the Hill, and with the Unseelie Star…

(You love your ‘job’, such as it is, but it really doesn’t afford you much free time these days.)

“Speaking of Mister and Missues Fanucci… What did you mean when you said they MOSTLY liked me?” you can’t help but ask, now that the spectre of your ‘in-laws’ has been raised.

“Well, you know…” she says, fidgeting and avoiding your eyes. “It’s just that Papa is kind of traditional about, like, boy stuff and girl stuff, and what makes a man, like, GOOD enough for his daughter.”

You wait expectantly, and eventually Costella just blurts it out:

“Well, like, you’re kind of, like… Short, and skinny, and you don’t really do a physical job or anything involving, like… Buying or selling or making stuff, I guess?”
>>
>>5977781
“I earn a steady income from the Tower now,” you remind her. “I just bought us enchanted clothing from a boutique that outfits nobility!”

“I know, I know!” Costella assures you, patting at your hair and cheeks urgently. “But, like… You don’t own a HOUSE, you know? Or have a business… Or anything else like that. And even then, I think Papa just sort of thinks certain jobs are, like... lazy, or not 'real' work?"

Well, that hardly strikes you as fair. It's not as if your 'work' hasn't involved strenuous physical exertion. If MOST of it is scholarly research or memorization and implementation of arcane theory, the OTHER portion has involved life-and-death battles and travels half-way across the continent! Though you suppose even those examples are quite far from the day-to-day life of a man like Mister Fanucci, who owns a sort of tool-and-furniture store and carves much of his merchandise himself...

“But Missus Fanucci is fine with the idea, right?”

Costella chews her lip, and you groan.

“But I thought she loved me!” you say.

“She does! She, like, TOTALLY does, Ez!” she says. “But, like… She’s pretty religious.”

“So am I!” you protest.

“Yeah, but it’s a totally different religion,” Costella points out, fairly. “Mama’s the type of lady who geos to holy festival days, and says her prayers of thanks every night and morning, and stops by the temples with donations whenever something good OR something bad happens, and asks clerics for advice.”
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>>5977789
It’s true that day-to-day human faith—primarily worship of the Bonum Legale or Lawful Good Gods—is outside of your usual wheelhouse. You’re actually surprised by how little you really KNOW about the faith of your father’s folk, despite living in or around Hawksong most of your life. You know the basics, of course—that Moroth and Marese are mother and father at the head of an expansive pantheon composed of their children, to whom they have delegated aspects of worldly life. Each of those Gods of Order then provides teachings, blessings, and advice to Mankind and those other races which adhere to the faith, by way of temples and clerics, who in turn inform a great deal of the law and policy throughout the domains loyal to Hawksong’s Crown. Those temples serve as centres of charity, sanctuary, dispute-resolution, and education in secular and religious matters alike, provide healing, and help sponsor and organize community festivals and events to celebrate the gods and heroes who built and protect the civilization in which you all live.

There are similarities to your practice as a Disciple of the True Fey, but the relationships and structures within the Law Gods’ faith is rather more hierarchical, legalistic, and officious than what you are familiar with, their ceremonies less uninhibited and their deities more distant and impersonal. For you, meeting a ‘lesser god’ or ‘demigod’ from among the immortal pantheon of the Bonum Chaoticum is as easy as trekking up a hill with some cookies and an open mind and heart (and elven eyes to see them). For a follower of the Bonum Legale, a visitation by one of their angel emissaries is an incredibly rare and auspicious occasion, demanding reverence, penitence, and total humility.
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>>5977791
"I'm sure it'll be fine!' Costella is quick to reiterate. "They know your'e a good guy! And important, and cute, and a really thoughtful lover--"

"I HOPE they don't know the last one," you mutter.

"Well, like, okay, that's just me and Iz who know that," Costella admits. But Mama and Papa don't have, like, a PROBLEM with you. You're just, like... Maybe not exactly who they pictured me MARRYING, I guess?"

Will you undertake any efforts to change the Fanuccis’ opinion of you as a man, before you meet with them for this formal family sit-down?
>Maybe you could help organize the production of goods around Old Maple Hill into something more like a guild, and see about selling some of what you produce in Hawksong?
>You’ve been living in a tent for a while… maybe it’s time you started construction of a house, the first permanent domicile in the Hill?
>You could approach Izzy’s adoptive mother, your Master, about a formal residence in the Hawksong Mages’ Tower?
>Perhaps you should asks your philandering and swashbuckling father, Rudolfo Van Houtzmann, about the ways of charm and machismo?
>A visit to the religious quarter and consultation with a cleric—maybe even a paying-of-alms and a prayer for guidance and aid from one of the Gods of Order could be in order…
>No need—you’ve got this, and you don’t want to stress yourself, or overthink things, or put on some phony act
>Write-in

>>5977729
We had a tie between a custom symbol and a moon symbol, so I made an executive decision to reward this high-effort post.
>>
>>5977626
>What did she mean her parents MOSTLY like you?
>It might be a good idea to temper expectations a LITTLE—you aren’t so sure about setting a date for any weddings until this ‘plural marriage’ matter is sorted, for instance

supporting >>5977729 for the symbol
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>>5977797
[Bit late, anon, but it's okay -- your choices were selected!]
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>>5977792
>Maybe you could help organize the production of goods around Old Maple Hill into something more like a guild, and see about selling some of what you produce in Hawksong?
leaning towards this since it'll help our community gain some income. also I should've doot before voting.
>>
>>5977792
>A visit to the religious quarter and consultation with a cleric—maybe even a paying-of-alms and a prayer for guidance and aid from one of the Gods of Order could be in order…
>>
>>5977792
>Regarding the unilateral decision of QM
How dared you favorise the thing I was too lazy to add a +1 because I also didn't want to clutter the thread with 3 vote message back to back?

>You’ve been living in a tent for a while… maybe it’s time you started construction of a house, the first permanent domicile in the Hill?
>>
>>5977792
>A visit to the religious quarter and consultation with a cleric—maybe even a paying-of-alms and a prayer for guidance and aid from one of the Gods of Order could be in order…

Rather not build a house in our fey commune where we're in touch with nature

Also what would we sell, the goodberries? Kinda worried about doing that.
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>>5977856
[The Old Maple Hill commune also produces a few more mundane goods... Not in quantity or quality sufficient to make Tips and company rich, but slightly more than they technically need.]
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>>5977860
Alright I can get behind selling those as well, it's just for appearances anyway really
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>>5977792
>Maybe you could help organize the production of goods around Old Maple Hill into something more like a guild, and see about selling some of what you produce in Hawksong?

We’re not changing your faith or anything of the sorts. An additional source of income is good for the people here - a little more self-sufficiency won’t hurt.

appreciate it.

>>5977821
Don’t be. It’s not that long.
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>>5977974
>>5977856
>>5977821
>>5977807
>>5977803
Old Mapel Hill’s little community ahs grown in productivity since you returned and started taking and active hand in day-to-day affairs. Part of that is the use of your own magic, of course—your specialty IS in healing and improving upon the conditions of biological life, which has increased yields of eggs, milk, wool, and more. Another part is your parley with the local fairy court—when fey spirits descend from the hill and dance with the bees and butterflies, plants grow faster and endure hardship more readily. Another part is simply that Costella has been around more, really only traveling into town every other week.

This time, you decide to go with her. You recruit your human cousin (by marriage, at least) Adolf, and a few others. Together, you gather up some of your surplus, to bring it to the ‘main street market’ as it is often called. Together with them, and with Costella, you erect a small stall to hock your various plant and animal products.

“Are you sure about this, Ezreal?” Adolf asks, furtive eyes flickering rom one passerby to another. “If things get ‘difficult’ wkith the city, we won’t be able to spend the coin we make, but storing this surplus would make us self-suffciient.”

“You’re too paranoid, Addy,” you tell him. “Queen Ekaterine is an ally… And even that ‘Prince Consort’ of hers owes us one.”

“As if a snake like that knows the first thing about gratitude!” Adolf scoffs. “And everyone knows the Queen does whatever he says.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” you say, recalling Hawksong’s young queen and her aura of authority—sufficient, you suspect, to even cow the so-called ‘Dragon King of Bloodrise’, known locally by his cover-identity ‘Prince Consort Long Wang, the Eastern Exorcist’.

You’re no merchant, sadly, and neither is Cousin Addy. Your goods are also, admittedly nothing special. They are fairly good quality, by your estimation—full, ripe, delicious vegetables, and good quality animal products as well—but none of this is anything that a ‘shining city’ like Hawksong hasn’t seen before, in greater quantity and quality.

“Should we lower the prices?” you worry aloud.

“What?” Costella asks. “No way! Like, if you do THAT, people will walk all over you! In Hawksong, it’s all about making sure people know what you’ve got is worthwhile. If you drop the price down to the floor, they’ll, like, think your GOODS are low quality, too!”
>>
>>5978031
As it turns out, Costella Fanucci is not just a merchant’s daughter, but a shrewd saleswoman herself. You can’t help but wonder—privately, internally—if the boost in mental acuity which accompanied her transformation into a feminine ‘paragon’ is partly responsible, too. Her enthusiasm and allure can’t be understated in its effect, as she bounds up and down the section of the market you’ve staked out. Her ‘marketing strategy’ pays off, too: after the first couple days fail to meet her expectations, she helps your companions to construct and paint a sign depicting a pixie, holding a folded-over leaf like a platter full of merchandise, and starts referring to your stall as “The Old Maple Hill Fairy Market” with “All-Natural Elven Products”, which is all… SORT of accurate, and certainly garners more attention.

“When the animals are raised by elves, their milk and eggs just taste better,” one patron says.

“Is that so?” you ask, loathe to contradict them. “Well, I try to keep them happy and healthy…”

“This wool is so much softer than human-raised sheep!”

“Haha, yeah…”

“It’s, like, all about PERCEPTION,” Costella says sagely, arms crossed beneath her chest and a proud expression on her face. “You’re, like, the ULTIMATE quality-assurance mascot, Tips! Especially for people that know you helped cure the pox!”

“Hm,” you reply, a little morally ambivalent about the whole thing.

But these ARE quality products, after all… And the animals ARE happy and healthy… And it supports the Old Maple Hill community…

(And your image as a savvy businessman, maybe?)

Soon enough, the fateful day approaches. Wearing your new Testa-designed attire, you and Costella each kiss Izirina goodbye, promising to return soon.

“…Right,” Izzy says.

You exchange a look with Costella, whose own expression mirrors your own.

“Say, Izzy, we’ve been thinking…” you begin.

“Like, would you like to maybe take some kind of trip with me and Ez, when we’re done with this?”

“A trip?” Izzy asks, perking up a little bit. “To where?”
>>
>>5978032
Izzy has always been fond of travel, especially to mystical and fantastical places. Your current plans for the Unseelie Star—the centre of your research lately, and thus your life—call for ‘ingredients’ from two such communities. You were advised by the dark spirit called ‘The Nothic’ to sue than elixir composed primarily of the juices of the <Goodberries> which you brought home from Holy Luna, empowered by the energies of the Elemental Planes and kept stable by storing it in peculiar crystals found in the subterranean realm of the ‘Drow’ dark elves. While you’ve decided to deviate from that formula and limit the amount of power provided to the Unseelie Fey, you’ve found no suitable alternative to the Drow crystals, and even your alternative to the extraplanar energies involves a trip into the Goblin Wastes, to visit the ‘sand elves’ of the Neme-Ashurati and the elemental fey who comprised their guiding court. Either could be a worthy destination for someone with interests like Izzy’s.

Where do you propose the of you travel together?
>Wevenore, the ‘Oasis of Crystal and Silk’ of the dark elven race
>The hidden sanctuaries of the Neme-Ashurati sand elves
>Somewhere else, to seek ingredients and diversions of another sort… [Where?]
>Actually, nevermind [Opt out of this travel plotline]

[Pick one, please.]
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>>5978033
I thought theral was supposed to get the crystals for us?

And I faintly recall our recipe was

Goodberry elixir + fire from hell planes / elemental / holy luna moon + crystal + sever old ties + rite
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>>5978055
>I thought theral was supposed to get the crystals for us?
[He promised to get you an 'in', and he could probably see about fetching you some, but if Tips and Costella are interested in taking a trip with Izzy and/or investigating the nature and origin of these unusual mineral formations which defy current understandings of magical theory... Well, it's an option for a reason!]

>Goodberry elixir + fire from hell planes / elemental / holy luna moon + crystal + sever old ties + rite
[At the end of last thread the vote was to modify it to Queen Banelight's blood elixir + native elemental energies of the sort the Neme-Ashurati's patrons channel + Drow crystals + sever old ties + rite, with the objective of not following the Nothic's advice if at all possible.]
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>>5978057
Ah. I remember now.

I recall Tips saying he can’t go on such a trip right now because of commitments to the archmage. On that note, how much does she know about the unseelie star project?
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>>5978065
>I recall Tips saying he can’t go on such a trip right now because of commitments to the archmage
[More his commitments to the Hill and the people and fairies there, and to his girlfriends and family. And there HAS been a timeskip during which he spent a fair amount of time there, slept in the camp every night, and devoted his time and energy towards teaching the 'locals' Feycraft philosophy, and helped them become self-sufficient enough to sell off surplus goods.]

>On that note, how much does she know about the unseelie star project?
[The Archmage? Nothing, unless Izzy has told her, or she's learned by some other means. By default, I write Tips as keeping any new magical project anons have voted to tell Archmage Henzler secret, since the general approach to her tends to be mistrust and people have repeatedly voted not to involve her.]
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>>5978033
>Wevenore, the ‘Oasis of Crystal and Silk’ of the dark elven race
>>5978065
nothing, since we haven't told her.
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>>5978070
+1

I’d rather deal with the elves last. They might not be the same people as the ones in sylvan realms but the things we’ve done probably didn’t go unnoticed.

am>>5977974
>>
>>5978033
>Wevenore, the ‘Oasis of Crystal and Silk’ of the dark elven race
Best place to take Izzy, very foreign and she can teleport us out if things go poorly
Though Theral guaranteed our safety so things shouldn't go poorly.
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>>5978033
>Somewhere else, to seek ingredients and diversions of another sort… [Where? A wealthy eastern city.]

The dark elves are racist, their AMBASSADOR used a racail slur against when we were in hawksong. And they along with the dark fey were planning to spark a war and attack our homeland. we shouldn't go there they might take us hostage our lynch tips which would be a bad vacation.
>>
>>5978033
>>The hidden sanctuaries of the Neme-Ashurati sand elves

I still want to find an external shell alternative.
>>
>>5978033
>The hidden sanctuaries of the Neme-Ashurati sand elves
Honestly I'm afraid the drow would offer Izzy some dark knowledge for their nefarious ends, once they realise how much of a sucker for it she is, and we will have double the Nothic problem.
>>
>>5978033
>>5978170
>The hidden sanctuaries of the Neme-Ashurati sand elves.

Going anywhere is better than going to wevenore.
>>
[I' may take one of my rare days off, I think. I may post later tonight if I'm feeling it, but I got some demoralizing news at work and am feeling pretty down-in-the-dumps.]
>>
>>5978730
I’m sorry to hear that RQM, I hope everything works out for you. And remember, you’re awesome :^)
>>
>>5978730
Take your time.
>>
>>5978730
dang bro
hope all is well
>>
>>5978730
take your time bro, we'll be waiting
>>
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>>5978777
>>5978764
>>5978740
>>5978805

[Thanks anons. An episode of Frieren and generous pour of proper Canadian rye whiskey went a good, long way to improving my mood and getting the creative juices flowing again.]

>>5978515
>>5978340
>>5978194
>>5978170
>>5978109
>>5978086
>>5978070
“The Neme-Ashurati?”

“Well, technically either ‘the Neme’ or ‘The Ashurati’… And I’ve heard of it being pronounced ‘ASHERati’, too.”

“Oh, are those the elves you told me about that can, like, swim throughs and stuff?” Costella asks.

“Technically more of a ‘genasi’ than an elf,” you correct Costella. “It’s like an elementally-attuned fairy descendant, but—”

“Wow! I’ve never meta sand-elf before!” Costella gushes.

“They’re not ‘sand-elves’, Costella,” you sigh.

“…Elemental fairies?”

You both look to Izzy who, while she is still sulking, is unable to hide the curiosity in her voice, and whose shaded gasses are woefully-insufficient to hide the flashes of fiery light which tend to flare up when her eyes are wide and her interest piqued. Costella grins, giving you an utterly-unsubtle thumbs up and wink, and you stifle a small laugh.

“I thought it might be useful to discuss our ‘Unseelie Star’ problem with them, given their affinities,” you say, “but you never DID get to see the Goblin Wastes last time I encountered them, so if you’d be interested—”

“Yes,” Izzy says quickly.

You don’t bother hiding the laugh this time, and you nod.

“Well, we’ll make plans as soon as this whole, ah, SITUATION Is sorted out, then. How about that?”

Izirina frowns, as if trying to figure out whether this is some sort of trick or manipulation. The battle is already won, though, and you both know it. Izirina has NEVER been able to hide her interest in fey magic or the cultures of the East; if the Goblin Wastes are bit less exotic than the distant Oriental lands, the Neme are far more exotic than some Easterling human city… At least, to a human like Izzy.

“I’ll pack my things,” Izzy says.

“Well, we’re not going yet, but…”

You trail off, because Izirina Henzler is already off like a bullet rom a dwarven hand-cannon.

“Good thinking,” Costella whispers, watching as the third member of your triumvirate bustles about, popping in and out of the tent and grabbing various tools and reagents from her scattered ‘field laboratories’ around the area.

In truth, you’re a little excited yourself. It’s been a while since you last visited these distant cousins or the strange, harsh clime in which they dwell. You recall fondly your training there, and the strange sand-filled sanctuary in which you learned the <Daylight> spell. You wonder if you’ll see your old acquaintance Nemenmo, who taught it to you, and what else you might learn…

But one thing at a time.

“Uh, Izzy? We still nee that <Dimension Door>!”

“Huh? Oh, right!”
>>
>>5978807
One of the many wonders brought about by izirina Henzler’s mastery of advanced conjuration is that you very rarely need to make the journey between Old Maple Hill and Hawksong by foot anymore, nor pass through the city’s many guarded checkpoints. It’s actually quite the security risk… Or would be, you suppose, if anyone else had access to the same degree of spellcraft as your rival-turned-lover. Luckily (?) few if ANY other mages have such capabilities…

“For now.”

“What was that, Ez?”

“Oh, uh, nothing,” you reply.

Costella doesn’t look convinced, but drops the matter. For now, <Dimension Door> and Izirina’s other derivative spells are simply a great convenience. For instance, it allows Costella and yourself to arrive in Hawksong instantly, albeit a little ways away from Costella’s family home, with your formal attire unruffled.

“Not that I’m complaining,” you complain as the two of you trek the remainder of the journey, ‘but why didn’t she teleport us all the way there?”

“Well, like… It only Izzy send someone somewhere she’s been, or knows about, right?” Costella muses. “I guess she could have done that whole ‘spiritual communion’ thingy, but she was pretty excited, so she probably just didn’t, like, think about it?”

“She’s never visited you at home?” you ask, a little surprised, given how close the girls have grown and how long their own relationship has been developing.

“Well, like… She’s busy all the time, so I get it,” Costella says, suddenly self-conscious. “And I’ve never met HER mom, either, you know?”

“Yeah, but YOUR parents are actually pleasant people,” you say sourly, grimacing at the thought of how your master, the Archmage, would react to someone like Costella.

It’s true, too: you’ve spent a fair amount of time with Costella, especially after the ‘incident’ which transformed the three of you and the awkwardness with Izirina thereafter. It was then that you first began to fall in love with her, you suspect , though Costella realized the depth and nature of the feelings faster than you did. Your first kiss was in the same home which you now stand at the entrance of, over two years ago. During your time there, you had ample opportunity to get to know Edmondo and Ines Fanucci, and her younger siblings Rosella and Gabriele. You were never CLOSE in the same way you grew close with the extended Houtzman clan during your stay with your father’s family, but they seemed nice, and your relationship was more than cordial, in large part due to the gratitude they obviously felt for your restoration of their eldest daughter to health, wellness, and beauty.

When you knock on the door, and Edmondo opens it, things are… A bit different.
>>
>>5978808
“Papa!”

“Hello, Mister Fanucci,” you greet him.

“Hm?” Mister Fanucci grunts, glancing your way with a squint, and then beaming at his daughter. “Costella! Oh, you look beautiful. What a fine dress!”

“Thank you, Papa! Ez bought it for me.”

The older man—well, not THAT much older you suppose, but at least 50-something, and aged in the manner of Men rather than Elves—looks at you again. He has a slight hunch, and is balding, and his moustache—the same shade as Costella’s hair—offers him still great maturity in his bearing. He is still strongly-built, though, in the manner of labourers, and his well-worn hands are steady and steely, just as his gaze now is.

“The Archmage considers dresses business expenses now?”

“Uh,” you say, a little thrown by the question.

“Actually, Papa, Ez and I have been, like, selling some of the stuff folks have been growing and making at Old Maple Hill!”

“Oh? So you’ve got my princess doing farmhand’s work? And running a stall for you to buy her own dresses?”

“Well, that’s not really—”

“Papa…” Costella demurs quietly.

“Well, come in, come in!” the man says, beckoning you both. “Don’t just stand there. My home is your home…”

He scrunches his nose a little as he realizes what he’s said, and the newfound dimensions to the statement.

“After all, I hear we’re to be family.”

You follow them in, and are immediately hit by familiar scents. First is the smell of wood-shavings and glue, from Mister Fanucci’s workshop, which take sup most of the initial living-space. Beneath and behind that lays the subtle, savoury spiciness of Missus Ines Fanucci’s home-cooking, which you’ve had cause to enjoy in the past. You haven’t actually eaten any MEAT in a few months now—part of your teaching upon the Hill has been how to coexist with domestic and wild animals without doing unnecessary harm—but it smells like you’ll be having some tonight. Your stomach growls at the guilty pleasure of the thought.

“You’ll find the first few years of business mean a lot more of that growling,” Mister Fanucci says, giving your stomach a light slap with the back of his hand. “I expect that will only be YOU feeling that hunger, though, huh? Not my Costa?”

“We have enough food at the Hill, actually,” you say. “In fact, well, one of our projects is going to quite possibly revolutionize agriculture altogether.”

“Bah, rabbit food!” Mister Fanucci sniffs, and waves you towards the kitchen. “Tonight we’ll remind you how men eat.”

(…)
>>
>>5978811
Costella has already gone ahead, and its excitedly chattering with her mother, a shorter, auburn-haired woman who, if a bit older than you, is at least a decade younger than her husband: Ines Fanucci, her mother. She has her daughters curves, which you pointedly do NOT notice at all actually, and in truth you think she's only a few years older than you.

“Costella, you’re so DARK,” she gasps. “That’s no good! You were always so pretty and fair.”

“Mama, I’m FINE, really,” she says. “It’s just a bit of a tan.”

“A FARMER'S tan,” Mister Fanucci adds, drawing a wide-eyed look from his wife, who then glares at you, waving a spoon.

“You have people for this sort of thing, I thought, Ezreal? Why is my daughter out in the fields, getting a tan like some… Some drifter or labourer?”

“Mama, it’s NICE working out in the sun! And I, like… Don’t think I can really GET sunburnt anymore?"

Costella and her mother both look to you for confirmation, and you can only shrug.

“Haven’t got around to researching THAT yet, then?” Mister Fanucci asks. “Maybe on your next year away—”

“Papa!”

“—When you leave my daughter all alone and worried and probably PREGNANT—”

“Edmondo!”

You blink a couple times, processing all the implications and formulating a response to all this.
>Remind the Fanuccis that their daughter was quite likely incapable of having children at ALL, before you cured her dragon-pox affliction
[Stand your ground, risk rudeness or argument]

>Reassure them that there’s not going to be any surprise pregnancies and, if the time does come for that, your days of leaving on extended ‘work trips’ is in the past
[Take a responsible posture, play the part of the reliable son-in-law]

>Laugh it off and settle in for dinner
[Stay quiet, keep your head down, let Costella lead]

>Change the subject...But to what?
[Evade questioning, attempt to steer conversation; write-in a subject if you have one in mind]

>Write-in
>>
>>5978813
>Change the subject...But to what ?
"Speaking of year-long trips, now that Prince Longwang returned from his I think people might calm themselves a little after that uncertain time."
I'd pick option one, but it's kinda risky. Option 2 we basically eat it for free and 3 is basically cucking out so awkward conversation it is.
>>
>>5978813
>Reassure them that there’s not going to be any surprise pregnancies and, if the time does come for that, your days of leaving on extended ‘work trips’ is in the past

>>5978837
I don't know what social war you're trying to fight here but I assure you #2 is a normal and acceptable response.
>>
>>5978813
>>Remind the Fanuccis that their daughter was quite likely incapable of having children at ALL, before you cured her dragon-pox affliction

Reminds me of my first meeting with my Mother In Law where I had to pull up my sleeves to show I hadn't needle marks (because of my long hair)

She dropped the subject but I later learned she wasn't convinced because "all addicts use needles in between their toes"
>>
>>5978813
I understand his concerns - but I will stand my ground.

“Mister Fanucci. Our business - is - a collaborative effort. She has been of great help to us - especially marketing and sale. I will not push her to do anything she does not want to - but equally I will not forbid her, within reason. I want us both to stand as equals in marriage.”

“And on the matter of blackness. You mustn’t worry about it; folks may say she looks poor, or judge each and every one of us for it, it matters little. Their seething won’t bring them money or happiness. Don’t give their kind any attention and they will go away. But if they don’t - if their actions really affect you - summon me. I will see to it.”

And for pregnancy
>Reassure them that there’s not going to be any surprise pregnancies — their daughter was quite likely incapable of having children at ALL, before you cured her dragon-pox affliction and you have your own measures

Frame it in such a way that it does not involve abortion - I don’t trust them to understand that option.

am >>5978086

Welp. Here we are again on this topic. I might as well ask it now.

What contraceptive methods does Tips know and use?
Sterilization and abortion, are those on the table? Can he do them, or know of people who can do them?
>>
>>5978954
>What contraceptive methods does Tips know and use?
[Tips and his friends primarily use the methods of locak Hawksong society: timing, pulling oit, and outercourse. Sheathing methdos such as primitive condoms are primarily used in sex-work and casual flings, and are generally seen as trashy. Clerics of the appropriate Gods of Light generally have blessings to encourage or discourage conception, and there are many herbs which can be consumed before or after the act, or mixed into a spermicidal mixture to be applied with a lubricant.]

>Sterilization and abortion, are those on the table? Can he do them, or know of people who can do them?
[Tips could probably find a way to sterlize himself or another quite readily using life magic, though it's never been his field of focus. Given his voted-upon determination to have a kid with Izzy, though, he probably wouldn't want to do that if he wasn't sure he could reverse it easily. Costella's opinion on kids is as-yet undiscussed.]

[The 'Reptilian Master Race' use biological magic to permanently-disable the reproductive capabilities of their 'undesirables' such as hybrids unless they intend to use them to breed more; others (especially among household slaves of the Serpent Priests) just castrate them.]
>>
>>5978954
>What contraceptive methods does Tips know and use?
>Sterilization and abortion, are those on the table? Can he do them, or know of people who can do them?
Narrator, calm yourself or I'm aborting you
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>>5978837
>>5978900
>>5978933
>>5978954
[Alright, locked and writing!]
>>
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Rolled 12, 18, 1, 17 = 48 (4d20)

>>5979407
“W-well, we haven’t really talked about that,” you admit, exchanging a glance with Costella, whose flush faced indicates her discomfort at being put on the spot—and by her parents, no less. “But we’re not, ah, irresponsible. There aren’t going to be any ‘surprises’.”

“That’s what they all say,” Mister Fanucci points out, albeit without any real malice in his tone—just skepticism.

“Sir, I’m reasonably well-versed in herbalism, and rather expert in Living Alchemy,” you remind him “If I wasn’t, we wouldn’t even be talking about this. It’s quite probable pregnancy—accidental or intentional—wouldn’t be a possibility.”

Costella’s mother gasps, and her husband’s eyes narrow. Costella herself seems to shrink, eyes flitting between her parents as she awaits their reaction.

(...Too much?)
>>
>>5979325
I can’t see him go out like this.
>>
>>5979411
>>5979423
>1
“What,” Costella’s father asks, a bit of growl in his voice now, “you think I don’t remember what you did for us, boy?”

“Ezreal, if you please,” you say, asserting yourself.

“It doesn’t entitle you to take what you want!” he says. “Just because you saved my daughter’s life, you think you’re allowed to marry her without even asking me or my wife about it? To take her away from her family business to start working in yours, on the queer fairy hill of yours far from town, so we hardly even see her? And all without making an honest woman out of her!”

“P-papa, please,” Costella blurt out.

“Of course not,” you reply, taking your wizard’s cap off and holding it in both hands with a small bow. “I’m here, aren’t I? And if there weren’t such a pressing matter at hand, maybe we could have approached it—all of this—more gracefully.”

You regard him and his wife in turn, and take a deep breath.

“Mister Fanucci. Our business—OUR business, mine AND Costella’s—is a collaborative effort. I’d be lost without the business savvy which, I’m certain, she learned from YOU. I haven’t pushed her to do anything, but have been the beneficiary of the delightful, helpful woman you and your lovely wife raised.”

You turn then to Missus Fanucci, bowing again.

“On the matter of her tan... I wouldn’t worry about it, ma’am, honestly. Some people may say she looks poor, but amount the children of the nobility and well-to-do, ‘adventuring’ is the big craze, after all. If some people seethe over it, well, that just shows they’re out-of-touch.”

“Take it from the adventurer, huh?” Mister Fanucci interjects critically, though you notice some of the tension leaving his tone.

“No more of that, I’m afraid,” you say with what you hope is a reassuring smile. “I might not look it, sir, but I’m not as young as I was—I’m in my thirties now. If anything happens—a pregnancy, illness, scandal, ANYTHING, I’ll be there for Costella. If either of YOU need anything, you need only let me know. I’ll see to it.”

The elder Fanuccis exchange a look, while you take a moment to look to Costella. She meets your eyes , a little tearful, and smiles, flashing you a thumbs-up. You’re worried again to see those tears, though you know her well enough to know that she isn’t SAD, and you hope it’s a good sign…

>18

…And a moment later, when Mister Fanucci’s hands clap down upon your shoulders, and you look back to him, you’re sure it is.

“Well, you’re not so tall or handsome as Carlos De Gori, but I think you’ll do,” he says ruefully. “More backbone than I remember you having. Maybe it’s just the ponytail tricking me, huh?”

“Thank you?” you say, for it feels a LITTLE like damning you with faint praise.

“No dowry, though?” Mister Fanucci inquires.

“Uh, well—”
>>
>>5979433
“Oh shush yourself, you old miser!” Missus Fanucci snaps at her husband, giving him a quick rap on the head with her spoon, before wiping it on her apron.

“I’m only saying—”

“No more saying!” Ines Fanucci says, and smiles at you. “Come now, it’s time for eating. Sit down, sit down! But don’t eat just yet—we have to say our prayer to Atheme, for the ingredients… And for your fruitful harvest over by the Hill, too!”

Mister Fanucci grunts quietly, but settles it, and bows his head with hands clasped. A little self-consciously, Costella joins in. Her mother, of course, it already murmuring her prayers to the Harvest Goddess, one of the many daughters of the Northwestern pantheon’s chief male and female deities and a favourite in the farmlands. Pearce’s parents are adherents, as well, as you recall…

Do you join in the prayer?
>Yes
>No
>Utter a prayer of thanks to your own gods when this prayer is done

Do you make conversation over the meal? If so, about what?
>No, let the Fanuccis talk if you will—you’ve made your point and have nothing to add
>Talk about the royals—what are their opinions on the Queen and her Prince Consort?
>Chat business—maybe there’s some sort of ‘synergy’ between what a woodcarver does and what you produce, or need to purchase?
>Ask about their faith—it might lead to a lecture, but you know it’s a subject Missus Fanucci feels strongly about and is interested in
>So, what’s the deal with this ‘Carlos De Gori’ fellow, anyway? How did that near-engagement come about?
>Write-in
>>
>>5979434
>Yes
>Talk about the royals—what are their opinions on the Queen and her Prince Consort?
Do they know that Long Wang had sex with a giant bug?
>>
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>>5979434
>Utter a prayer of thanks to your own gods when this prayer is done

>Chat business—maybe there’s some sort of ‘synergy’ between what a woodcarver does and what you produce, or need to purchase?
They are her parents. They ought to know a thing or two about it.

I don’t see much use out of the other options. I guess we could talk about Queen Eka & Theral and maybe gauge their feelings towards out-of-the-norm relationships, maybe, but aside from that I don’t really see the benefit of bring it up. Same goes for religion. We already pacified her father, but I’m not so sure how he’d react if we pushed for carlos. We speak too much, give too much away, and they might believe we and Costella are not on the same page. Better to let the topic rest and let them think we know (somewhat) about him.

Also captcha:
>>
>>5979434
>Utter a prayer of thanks to your own gods when this prayer is done

>Talk about the royals—what are their opinions on the Queen and her Prince Consort?
>>
>>5979444
No one in Hawksong should have any knowledge of the Wyrms outside of Ez and gang, and even then thats a secret we want to keep close, LW is a cool dude but if any reptilian spies hears rumors of bug fucking I promise you it would come back to us easy as fuck, he is literally a king and has 1 basically a dragon, and 9 Wyrm kids who love him deeply, the backing of 2 dieties 1 of which he paladins for granting him magic normally used by "good guys" being his radiant aura and voice of kings/dragons abilities, Tips is strong but this dude has literally been possesed by a demigod who he is related too and fucked a goddess before Eka, hes not the one
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>>5979494
Typically when something is in spoilers it's because it's not intended to be said aloud

However in this case I absolutely want to say it aloud
Fuck that loser, we can take him blindfolded and with both arms tied behind our back
>>
>>5979434
>Utter a prayer of thanks to your own gods when this prayer is done
>No, let the Fanuccis talk if you will—you’ve made your point and have nothing to add
>>
>>5979434
>Yes
>Chat business—maybe there’s some sort of ‘synergy’ between what a woodcarver does and what you produce, or need to purchase?
>>
>>5979434
>Utter a prayer of thanks to your own gods when this prayer is done

>Talk about the royals—what are their opinions on the Queen and her Prince Consort?
>>
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>>5980016
>>5979786
>>5979646
>>5979469
>>5979449
>>5979444
[Locked and writing!]
>>
>>5980207
“Blessed Atheme, Lady of Abundant Bounty,
We are humbled by thy table's plenty,
Through the gifts borne from your golden froth,
Sustained by the rain of your brother, Elsoth.”

You sit awkwardly for a moment, not sure exactly what to do. The Tower, while an institution of human learning and not AVERSE to the local faiths, never really emphasized or educated you upon them outside of a few electives on divine magic in application, which—to your chagrin now—you never took great interest in. Costella, bless her, seems to pick up on this, and with an expression indicates to you: ‘follow my lead’, lowering her head and mumbling along. You do likewise, fumbling your way through the words of the second (thankfully final) verse.

Grateful, we relish in this feast,
From the highest bird to the humblest beast,
Oh, Marese, and mighty Moroth we implore,
Shield us from hunger and harm evermore.”

“Amen,” says Costella brightly.

“Amen,” her parents each say, and immediately Mister Fanucci reaches out to scoop some food…

Only to stop when, to everyone’s surprise, you keep going, continuing the prayer.

"Abbilen lu'fuma, n'nehrur yah d'berrkig,
Bel'la dos whol nindol zlabak belbol,
L'ke'hl'ash d'l'har'dro,
L'sunel d'chath wun mue'hal,
L'ssinssrigg d'phraktos phor…”
One thing about the elventongue, especially in its most poetic form and ESPECIALLY in prayer, is that it is almost more difficult NOT to sing it. Without realizing, your lilt takes on a musical inflection, such that by the time you look up, all three of the Fanuccis present are staring at you in confusion and almost alarm.

“Oh, uh…”

“What are you saying?” Missus Fanucci asks.

“Pretty much the same as you,” you explain, trying to keep the wave of self-consciousness from your voice and the blush from your cheeks. “Just in thanks to the Bonum Chaoticum.”

“Who whodum whaticum?” Mister Fanucci asks.

“The fairy gods,” Costella supplies.

“O-oh,” her mother says, recoiling a little. “Well… I guess that’s not… I mean, it’s just a little unexpected. Are you religious, Ezreal?”

“I’m a Disciple of the True Fey,” you say—not ADMIT, mind you, for you feel no shame in it, even if you don’t always agree with your highest-most deities about every detail.

“I thought that you Tower-types didn’t worship anything but ‘progress’,” Costella’s father says. “But, hey, better than that Queen of ours…”

“Edmondo!” Ines chastises her husband, then looks to you apologetically and a little skeptically. “Though, it’s just… This food came from human fields, tended under Atheme’s Law and blessed by her clerics, so I don’t know…”
>>
>>5980251
“Mama,” Costella speaks up, voice gentle but firm, “the fairies on Old Maple Hill have been doing quite a lot of caring for me and Ez… Keeping us and everyone there healthy and fed, helping us with our chores and our gardens. I’ve eaten a lot of meals with them, too, and they’ve always made me feel welcome there. There’s no harm in making them feel welcome here, too, right? And Ezreal, too?”

Costella meets your eyes again and nods, decisively, taking your hands in hers. You look at her in silent gratitude as—with better-than-passable Sylvan-speech—she finishes the prayer:

“Lu'skoftenlk d'har'dro harl,
Lu'gre'as'antar kahzet tu'fyr jal l'tresk'ri's dalharen,
Ul'naus wun jialar lu'ssussun, xuil mem retlah."

“A-amen,” her mother appends, unsure what else to say.

“Since when are YOU religious, too?” her father asks.

“Maybe Ezreal’s a good influence on me?” Costella suggests, throwing you a (not especially subtle) wink.

“Hm,” her father says. “Anyway, let’s eat, before it gets cold for all this poetry, huh?”

You all dig into a delicious, hardy meal of orange-red sauce—meat-fat and finely-diced squash, well-seasoned—in which larger lumps of beef and pork have been marinated. The concoction is well-seasoned and fitting, with fairly-fresh bread to mop up when remains from the inside of the bowl, and glasses of a weak, sweet wine-juice to wash it down. It isn’t fancy, but it’s filling, and you lean back satisfied after the meal is done.

“Thank you, Missus Fanucci,” you say. “It was amazing.”

“Oh, no need for that,” Ines says, preening a little, and leaning in to whisper to you: “Though if you like it, you should make sure to say so to Costa. She never applies herself in the kitchen like a woman should.”

“Mama…” Costella groans, for the mother is about as good at subterfuge as her daughter—which is to say, not at all.

To spare her (and yourself) the argument, and to sate your curiosity, you hurriedly address her father:

“You mentioned Queen Ekaterine earlier… I take it you’re not a fan?”

“Oh no,” his wife groans, and Costella cringes a little too and gestures to you, but it’s too late.
>>
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>>5980252
“A fan of that girl? As PRINCESS, of course. But as QUEEN? No, no I can’t say I am,” Edmondo Fanucci grouses. “I’m a loyal subject, don’t get me wrong, but she’s FAR far too young and soft to be sovereign, I think. Her family’s of course been good for all of us—”

“And are CHOSEN of Moroth and Marese, who know what They are doing,” Ines Fanucci quickly interjects.

“—but her father, King Archos, knew how to keep the PEACE, I’ll tell you. With SWORD and SHIELD, and gryphons on patrol! No orc or goblin or DRAGON dared threaten us then!”

“You don’t think Queen Ekaterine has done a good job following up on that?” you ask. “She WAS the one who helped enable me to cure the dragon-pox…”

“After her foreign ADVENTURER husband and that dilettante Lord Yosef let lizards into the city to spread it, and dragons scorch our fields!” Costella’s father asserts. “And where was he when the worst of the plague came? Where was SHE? Holed up in her palace, her husband off cavorting in the Far East or wherever, and LORD YOSEF took off and ran away to wherever he came from. So much for all that talk about ‘equality’ and ‘dignity for all’, huh? She pawned off all THAT responsibility on you—”

“Dear, there isn’t much should could do,” Ines Fanucci tries to temper her husband’s mounting frustration.

“Paladin Prince ALEXOS wouldn’t have let it get that far,” Mister Fanucci asserts.

“Gods rest his soul,” Missus Fanucci sighs, bowing her head and clasping her hands again. “If only those nasty Southmen hadn’t cut the poor man down… And when HE went to negotiate PEACE!”

“Not that those black bastards ever ADMITTED it,” Mister Fanucci snorts. “Like we don’t know. But I guess it could be worse—it could have been Prince Rufos on the throne, locking us down every time anything happened rather than punching BACK at our enemies like a strong ruler ought to.”

“Not especially pious, he or his sister,” Missus Fanucci admits in a whisper, wincing at the impropriety of the criticism even as it leaves her mouth.

“Right! The way I see it, what we NEED,” Mister Fanucci asserts, “is a PALADIN KING, a PROPER one, like Archos and his father and HIS father. THAT would make Hawksong great again.”

You hold your tongue throughout this tirade. Partly, you’re just interested in the perspective. Another part of you is afraid to interrupt or contradict the narrative, lest the focus turn upon YOU again. The biggest part of your silence, though, shares a source with yours and Costella’s mutual awkwardness. The two of you are among the very few people in or around Hawksong who know the full truth of the Queen and her ‘adventurer husband’ Prince Long Wang.
>>
>>5980253
You, and Costella, and a select few others know that ‘Long Wang’ is really the false face of the ‘dragonborn antipaladin’ and Dragon King of Bloodrise, called ‘Theral’ by his own monstrous subjects… And that Queen Ekaterine’s heir, her young child, is the son of that strange lizardman, who proudly worships the Gods of Darkness. You also know it’s rather more complicated than even THAT, for Long Wang apparently represents a ‘moderate’ contingent of his fell race, who warred against their brethren in defence of Hawksong from dragons and disease (at least, if Ekaterine or Long Wang are to be believed). You even worked with him and his ‘Reptilian infiltrator’ agents to rescue his son by secret, second, and insidiously-insectoid wife, in pursuit of peace between your peoples, and the impression he left WAS less than wholly negative, at least.

As for Ekaterine… Well, she seems to you a reasonable woman, and a well-meaning one. Approximately Costella’s age, she is educated, erudite, and possessed of a strange will of charismatic presence which cowed even her husband and his eerie entourage, and she has been your tireless partner for peace… Even if she was rather stubborn about denying your tentative request for a legal, plural marriage to both your beloveds.

Do you speak up in defence of Ekaterine? Of Long Wang?
>Yes, you believe in both of them
>Long Wang is a duplicitous danger, MAYBE, but Ekaterine is a good woman
>You don’t really trust either, yourself…
>Intimate to the Fanuccis the truth of the royals and their relationship—the full truth
>Write-in

[C]
>>
>>5980254
“And anyway,” Mister Fanucci continues as you consider what to say and what to keep to yourself, “I think we all KNOW where that ‘Prince Consort’ is, huh?”

“…we do?” you ask, exchanging a confused look with Costella, who shrugs.

“Off CONSORTING,” Costella’s father says, with an emphasis in his voice and fingers forming air quotes.

“Ugh, scandalous,” his wife tuts. “Easterlings and their HAREMS.”

“Everyone knows adventurers are a bunch of libertines,” Costella’s father says with a scowl.

“Debauchery, and irresponsibility,” Costella’s mother confirms, shaking her head sorrowfully. “The young people are being seduced by gold and thrill-seeking at the expense of responsibility, community, and good family values…. Though we don’t know for SURE about the Prince Consort, dear, and you REALLY ought to stop SAYING things like that!”

“The Queen ought to throw the blackguard out and slam the gates behind him, if he isn’t going to stick it out here with the people whose taxes pay for his galivanting! Instead, INSTEAD, our Queen is a KEKQ—”

“EDMONDO.”

“I’m only saying,” Mister Fanucci demurs, then smiles and slaps you on the shoulder. “It’s good you stopped with all that nonsense before it corrupted an obvious good boy like you, Ezreal. That lifestyle attracts the worst sorts.”

“I’m sure that a religious young man like Ezreal understands the holiness of matrimony,” Ines Fanucci sighs, and looks to you with a gentle smile, and a hopeful one as well. “Isn’t that right, Ezreal? The elves don’t ‘dabble’, do they?”

Well, polygamy certainly isn’t common… Or forbidden, for that matter. Marriage is actually relatively uncommon among the elves of the Sylvan Relam—respected, but a matter of a couple’s personal preference more than anything else, meant to signal and celebrate a lasting and fruitful union rather than a prerequisite for starting a family. And as for you, and Costella…

And Izirina…

You look to Costella, helpless. Her own eyes are wide with worry, wide as the bowls you ate from, and her face scarlet with embarrassment.

>Lie, and assure Costella’s parents that your mother’s people are very monogamous, and so are you
>Avoid any direct admissions of your own relationship or history, but admit that marriage among elves is a rather more casual affair
>Well, you can’t LIE to your future parents-in-law… So maybe it’s time you broached the subject of yours and Costella’s OTHER ‘fiancé’
>Write-in
>>
>>5980254
>Long Wang is a duplicitous danger, MAYBE, but Ekaterine is a good woman
Wang will be harder to defend, but the queen is a different matter,
>>5980256
>KEKQ—
just making sure since typos are your trademark, 'kekq' was really the start of the slur he's gonna say ?

>Avoid any direct admissions of your own relationship or history, but admit that marriage among elves is a rather more casual affair
throw in their long lifespan as an excuse for them taking more time to tie the knot.
>>
>>5980254
>Long Wang is a duplicitous danger, MAYBE, but Ekaterine is a good woman
Honestly now that Alexos is brought back up Therals bugfuckery is hardly the most damaging secret that could leak.

>Avoid any direct admissions of your own relationship or history, but admit that marriage among elves is a rather more casual affair
Oh god
Maybe uh
We can say we broke up
and then Costella can say she started dating Izzy
and then she can say she started dating us again
>>
>>5980301
>and then Costella can say she started dating Izzy
if and when we do bring our 3 way relationship, we probably won't be able to also talk about izzi and cos being more than good wife-friends
>>
>>5980254
>Yes, you believe in both of them

>>5980256
>Avoid any direct admissions of your own relationship or history, but admit that marriage among elves is a rather more casual affair

I just realized, did Costella invite Izzy over to meet her parents as her ‘girlfriend’? Because if Izzy can lay on the charm, it would help ease their misgivings, somewhat.
>>
>>5980292
>just making sure since typos are your trademark, 'kekq' was really the start of the slur he's gonna say
[Damnit, word-filter. Yes, he was about to insinuate that the Prince Consort was making a
>c u c k q u e a n
of the queen]
>>
>>5980318
>I just realized, did Costella invite Izzy over to meet her parents as her ‘girlfriend’?
not that we know of
>>5980328
>c u c k q u e a n
now that makes sense. thanks.
>>
>>5980301
>on Alexos
[Tips doesn't actually know that Long Wang killed Alexos, mind.]

>>5980304
>>5980318
>>5980301
>on homosexual relationships
[it's not strictly illegal in Hawksong, though there are anti-SODOMY laws which more affect someone like Pearce than someone like Costella. It IS highly frowned-upon, though. Tips would know, without being told, that revealing their daughter is into other women would be a huge shock and probably upset them.]
>>
>>5980331
expected, but thanks for the input as always.
>>
>>5980254
>>Yes, you believe in both of them
I can't say too much - state security - but her weak leader image is a carefully controlled representation for the public. Trust me, she have the soul of a Paladin-Queen.

And Long Wang? I don't know the full detail of truth and falsehood about this Harem thing. What I know about him are his adventures. The stunts he pulled, their political weight... As far as I know, they avoided at least two full-out blown wars.

>Avoid any direct admissions of your own relationship or history, but admit that marriage among elves is a rather more casual affair
>>
>>5980357
+1

As for the
>Avoid any direct admissions of your own relationship or history, but admit that marriage among elves is a rather more casual affair

It happens. Sometimes. Marriage itself as well.
>>
>>5980254
>You don’t really trust either, yourself…
>>5980256
>Avoid any direct admissions of your own relationship or history, but admit that marriage among elves is a rather more casual affair
>>
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>>5980859
>>5980586
>>5980357
>>5980318
>>5980301
>>5980292
[Writing!]
>>
>>5980974
You honestly share many of Mister and Missus Fanucci’s misgivings… or, at least, similar misgivings. They’re both far more right than they know, too. You initial instinct is to defend the Queen of Hawksong, but to acquiesce to their astute assessment for her sinister spouse… But something stops you.

You remember the Queen and her Prince Consort, embracing, talking quietly. Thebobvious mutual respect and love there.

You remember the Prince Consort—or Dragon King, maybe—and the words he spoke to you, under the effects of alcohol and evidence anxiety. They were words which resonated you. They spoke to you as an (elf)man of mixed heritage, about being torn between two worlds at times, and as a male with two females whose emotional needs you need balance.

>“Do you ever... Regret it? Trying to make it work with more than one of them?”

>“Never.”

Knowing now that he is Izirina’s cousin—Zith-Zi’s own half-brother, and having met with the Nothic, that fell being’s dark intimations also yet linger. In your mind, and return to you now:

>“The Yosefs are never satisfied, you see. They always fear, always desire, always seek to know more, have more, BE more…”

You’d taken that at the time as a condemnation, a warning, a part of the evil spirit’s dark prophesising. Maybe it WAS all that. But you also remember the Prince Consort butting his head gently a against that of his great, terrible son, and humming a gentle song to him. Whatever evil he serves… There is good in that man—or lizardman—also.

“I believe in the Queen, and in the Prince Consort.,” you say aloud. “I believe in them both.”

Edmondo and Ines exchange a look, and Costella looks a little worried. You smile at her, though, and your fiancé steels herself, and nods. You can tell she doesn’t know where you’re going with this—what your play is—but she’ll back you all the same. You have her support, in this as in your prayer… As in so much.

“I’ve met them both,” you explain. “I know more about them than most. And I can't say everything I know—not without treason—but I’ll say this: Queen Ekaterine’s ‘weakness’ is not al that there is to her. She has a true strength beneath it.”

“Then she should SHOW it!” Mister Fanucci protests.

“There are advantages to being seen as ‘soft’,” you say.

“People underestimate Ez all the time, Papa,” Costella says, and you cringe a little before she adds: “And they regret it. EVERY time.”

Mister Fanucci looks skeptical, but you press on, saying with absolute certainty:

“Trust me, Queen Ekaterine has the soul of a Paladin Queen.”
>>
Rolled 15, 1, 17, 17 = 50 (4d20)

>>5981001
You turn to Costella’s mother next, though you continue to address them both as you speak—both their concerns, and both subjects.

“As for Prince Long Wang? I don’t know him AS well, but here’s what I DO know, about him and his adventuring: the stunts he’s pulled, they had purpose. Political weight. He’s no capricious creature. He’s prevented at least one outright war, maybe two… Maybe more.”

Mister Fanucci grumbles a little, but it’s Missus Fanucci who speaks up this time, saying: “But don’t you agree that a man’s place is at home, with his wife, when she’s with child? That he ought to be with his family, caring for his children?”

The interrogation in her tone, however gentle, is rather obvious. This isn’t about The Dragon King, not really.

“I don’t pretend to know the truth about any, ah, ‘harem’ situation he might be involved in,” you half-lie. “I know these things can be… Complicated. Among my mother’s people, the Sylvan Elves, their long lifespan means that marriages tend to be more… Casual. It can take them a while to, you know… To ‘tie-the-knot’.”

“Is that why you waited until it was almost too late to let us know your intentions for our Costa?” Mister Fanucci interjects, pointedly. “You almost had to be forced into it, didn’t you?”

Miss Fanucci adds onto this before you can respond, saying: “The way Costella had always talked, well… She’d always seemed so certain you and the Archmage’s daughter were going to be wed. I never even REALZIED that the two of YOU were… Well, we wouldn’t have let you spend so much time aloe without talking to you if we’d known!”

Costella cups her face in her hands, stopping just short of resting her elbows on the table to cradle her head when her mother shoots her a look, and she remembers her etiquette. Of course, you can’t just openly admit the truth: that you’re seeing both women, that you mean to someday, somehow MARRY both women… Let alone that the two of them are just as entangled as you are with either of THEM, spiritually AND intimately. Izirina has never so much as been to Costella’s home—never met her parents—but you can’t imagine there would be much of a rapport there. Even if there was… Well, relationships between women might not be as taboo as those between men, but such same-sex couplings are hardly the norm, or widely accepted. Perhaps the only thing more controversial than a plural marriage is a HOMOSEXUAL one—and such a union just as unlawful, even if simple acts of physical affection are merely frowned upon.
>>
>>5981003

Instead of saying all THAT, though, you explain: “I wouldn’t have committed to her if I wasn’t certain. That’s what I learned from my mother’s people, because that’s what marriage means there: it’s more of an ‘option’ than it is here, but when two people who can live CENTURIES are sure that they love each other, and mean a lot to each other, and want the world to know that their bond is REAL, and TRUE….”

You meet Costella’s eyes, and she’s tearful again, but smiling wide. You take her hands in yours.

“THAT’S when you get married.”


The afternoon passes into evening, and the wine—weak though it is, begins to get to everyone who imbibes it in any quantity—which is to say, you and ESPECIALLY Mister Fanucci, who at one point—when the women are cleaning up, as is the customer—places his arm around your shoulders, and speaks plainly and frankly:

“I’m not going to mince words, Ezreal,” he tells you. “I never would have let you spend so much time with my daughter a you did, either, like my wife said. It wasn’t because I thought you were with that Henzler girl, though. It was because I thought you were a faggot.”

You almost choke, and your eyes widen, but you stay your tongue and keep your cool.

“When Costella told me she was engaged, I knew she meant to YOU, but I thought this was all….”

He waves a hand vaguely, rotating the wrist.

“Like, a trick, huh? To get out of marrying Carlos.”

“Oh?” you say, jaw locked and shoulders squared.

Edmondo Fanucci’s sly smile spreads into a wide grin, and he slaps you on the back again.

>17

“I’m glad I was wrong,” he tells you. “I don’t understand everything you say or do, boy, but you have the makings of a proper man to you… And a proper elf, too, for what little I know foe levs! You stood your ground, you were respectful, and if you’re a little prissy for my tastes… Well, You obvious make my Costa happy, and you have my permission.”

“…Thank you,” you say, with a small smile of your own.

“So,” he asks, leaning close and whispering—properly whispering now, clearly not wanting the others to overhear. “I’m a man, and I know that there’s no way you and my Costa have been up on that hill with all those fairies and weirdos—no offence, of course—and you’ve not DONE anything.”

“Sir, I—”

Mister Fanucci holds up a well-worn woodworker’s hand and gives you the knowing look of a working-class human male from a city which, though you’ve never had cause to experience it, you know to have a thriving ‘red lantern district’.

“I trust you to take responsibility, if anything happens,” he says. “You’ve proven you have a god heart, and a good head on your shoulders. You’ve got magic, and we all know about herbs and creams and all that.”

Your face is burning bright by now, and you don’t’ trust yourself to speak, so you just nod.
>>
>>5981010
“But in coming here, in Costella calling off the marriage we planned for her to marry you instead, there are obligations,” Mister Fanucci says gravely. “I don’t want it getting around that my Costella is the sort of girl who would… You know… ‘geta round’ without being married. And her mother, Gods love her like she loves them, she wants grandchildren.”

“…”

“So?” he asks, leaning it, no longer smiling. “You have a plan, right? A timeline?”

“Uh,” you say, and look up to see Costella, bringing you each a cup of water, staring wide-eyed.

>You tell him you don’t have a date set, and children are a long ways off
>You tell him you’re going to marry Costella soon, and children are something you’ve been thinking a lot about
>You avoid the question entirely, and hope he’s tipsy enough to not notice if you get hi talking politics or something again
>Write-in
>>
>>5981011
>You tell him you’re going to marry Costella soon — but children are a long ways off

Right now we have a project; it consist of five parts - two which require us to travel to two different countries. Once we return, I should be able to stay at Hawksong for most of the time - that’s when the marriage preparations should begin.

( >>5978057 just for reference - don’t tell him that.)

So we pacified the old cunt - for now. Good. I suppose he is marginally useful so let’s make sure we don’t burn any bridges, but give us some time to work with.
>>
>>5981011
>You tell him you don’t have a date set, but children are something you've been thinking for some time now.
Including the project argument >>5981031 said. the only incognita would be our timetable, but children isn't something we're shy of.
>>
>inb4 narrator's daily post about removing our balls and abortificients.
>>
I like Tips. I’d hate to see him or Costella or Izzy saddled with a responsibility so grand because of a single night’s mistake. I want them to happy.
>>
>>5981039
don't we all ?
>>
>>5981049
Well, if it comes down to Tips, Costella, and Izzy, and an unborn child created by accident… I know what my choice is. But I’d rather not - it’s a last resort, so, the whole sterilization thing.
>>
>>5981011
>You tell him you don’t have a date set, but children are something you've been thinking for some time now.
Technically true, which is the best kind
We're half elf, so hopefully he'll understand the lack of hurry with the date.
>>
>>5981066
[I mean, Tips has already created a problematic 'child' by accident once...]

>>5981010
>And a proper elf, too, for what little I know foe levs!
*I know of elves
>>
>>5981066
I thought you were talking about Carazzi until the last sentence. Glad to see you again, narrator.
>>5981121
that's what I thought he'd refering to early on
>>
>>5981101
I'll support this
>>
>>5981011
>You tell him you don’t have a date set, but children are something you've been thinking for some time now.
I want the day and time to be special- I bet Costella’s big on astrology, and we do know that magical dates coincide with each other at times and places. Hell, an eclipse marriage could be kino- the New Moon hiding the Sun, in a great ironic reversal of the norms.
>>
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>>5981354
>>5981329
>>5981101
>>5981033
>>5981031
“W-well,” you begin, then clear your throat and start again. “Sir, we have a fairly massive undertaking ongoing at the moment… Actually, a FEW, if I’m being honest.”

“This new business of yours?” Mister Fanucci asks.

“’Business’ involving the Queen, and Prince Consort, and the Gods,” you say, “but yes—the business at Old Maple Hill and in town here is important, too. There’s going to be a lot to do-for me AND for Costella.”

“Business for a man to attend to,” Edmondo Fanucci says pointedly, tapping your chest. “A woman’s business, once she’s married, is caring for the home and for children., first and foremost.”

Costella frowns a little, but you see something else in her posture and body language as you glance over her father’s shoulder: consideration, and an ambivalence that is not wholly ne-sided. She’s considering it. She’s… Interested in the idea. And by the way she hovers back, rather than interrupting to rescue you, you infer something else: she is interested, too, in what YOU have to say on the subject.

“I… Ah… Well, I mean, there’s not really a RUSH, exactly. As a half-elf, my age is… That is to say, both myself AND Costella have a long life ahead of us, with lots of opportunity. Right now… Well, it’s like I told Missus Fanucci: I want to be there to care for any children we have, and set up a firm foundation and—”

“And, and and,” Mister Fanucci sighs. “Ezreal, I appreciate you taking your time to plan, and not being reckless with the decisions which affect you and my daughter, but at a certain point a man’s got to ACT. You almost lost Costella to Carlos, putting off this engagement! Who knows what you’ll miss if you dilly-dally on this forever, huh?”

You… Wouldn’t exactly characterize it that way, but again you simply frown and listen, neither nodding along nor arguing the pint. Not yet.

“Costella’s mother was two years younger than she is now, when Costella was born. Women who put off having their children too late never have them, or they’re more likely to have a difficult pregnancy.”

“Again, we’re both quite young and with my magic—”

“Magic doesn’t change anything, Ezreal. I don’t want my daughter living alone with someone like this, so people will talk about her, and to have her putting off her life until there’s no more ‘business’ to attend to. Take it from someone who knows, boy: business never sleeps, and it never stops. There’s ALWAYS more ‘business’, one way or another.”
>>
>>5981780
You consider Edmondo’s words thoughtfully, and realize that however much he’s had to drink—and whatever his peculiar hang-ups—he has something of a point. With how your life is going—with an Era of High Magic fast approaching!—you are unlikely to see much respite. There will always be demands upon you, and with ever passing year your myriad obligations multiply. Can you postpone your own life—and put the life of Costella Fanucci—on hold indefinitely?

“I can’t set a date yet,” you assert, brooking no argument. “It would be silly. Irresponsible, even. But there WILL be a wedding, sir.”

“Yeah?” Mister Fanucci laughs. “After all this, there’d BETETR be!”

“And as for children… I understand what you’re saying. And it’s honestly been on my mind a lot, lately, too.”

(For reasons other than this, and involving another woman as well, but EDMONDO doesn’t need to know that.)

“I’d like to have children,” you say, and you realize you mean it. “I’d like that a lot. And I don’t want to wait forever.”

“OR until me and the missus are old and grey, huh?” Mister Fanucci presses.

“Sooner,” you agree, “rather than later.”

“Atta boy!” the older human slaps you on the shoulder, laughing again, and then adds seriously: “But wedding first. And it had better be at a temple to Love Goddess Tristyllea, huh? Ines will have a coronary if it’s not…”

“Papa! Ezreal!” Costella inetrrupts, before you’re force to answer THAT question at least, and hands you each a cup. “I think it’s, like, time for some water, huh?”

You look to her gratefully, and she smiles. It’s beautiful, happy, and grateful smile you receive in return. It’s clear that at least SOMETHING of what Costella overheard pleased her.

Not long after, you and your fiancé make your excuses to excuse yourselves, and depart into the lantern-lit half-darkness of Hawksong’s nighttime streets.

“Well, that, uh…” Costella trails off at first, chewing her lip, then looks to you with hope in her eyes and a question in her tone. “I think it went pretty well?”

>You agree—and her parents have a certain charm to them even now
>You had a pretty awful time, honestly, and you’re not afraid to say so
>Write-in

[C]
>>
>>5981782
Before you can do more than open your mouth, Costella is rushing to fill that brief void following her first implicit question with another. Poking her fingertips together and staring down at them, she adds:

“Thanks again for doing this for me. I know it was, like, totally awkward… And I get that, like… Yous aid some stuff you didn’t mean, and DIDN’T say some stuff you COULDN’T say, because… Well, yeah.”

You slow your footfalls and wait for her to finish—to reach the point she’s building towards.

“But, like… Even if it’s not a REAL engagement, if we’re not… Going to get married or, um, have CHIDLREN or anything, like, SOON…”

She flushes a little, and then looks at you, surprisingly shyly.

“I really liked having this as, like, a just-us night?”

“…Costella, I—”

“I know, I know!” she hurries to interject, waving her hands. “And I love Iz, too, like, a LOT! But sometimes, it’s nice to have you to myself for a bit, too?”

She pauses, and bites her lower lip.

“And since we’re here anyway… I was sort of thinking maybe we could, like… get a room at an inn, before we head back? And I could maybe, like… have you to myself a little bit longer? Just for, you know…”

She bats her eyelashes a little.

“…Tonight?”

>You ought to return to the hill, before Izzy worries about you
>…Well, when she asks like THAT, what’s one night?
>Write-in
>>
>>5981782
>You agree—and her parents have a certain charm to them even now
considering what we knew about them, it went better than I expected
>>5981784
>…Well, when she asks like THAT, what’s one night ?
naughty girl. we had some lone time with izzy before knowing Cossy, so why not give her one "us" night ? Time to experience the famous Fanucci leglock
>>
>>5981782
>You feel ambivalent
Mama Costella is nice.
Pa is not.

>>5981784
All the previous talk about creams and herbs and what not - do we currently have with us right now contraceptives? If not,

>You ought to return to the hill, before Izzy worries about you

Potentially making her fall pregnant now complicates things. And while oral sex nice, I suspect she (and Tips) wants more than that alone. Get back to that hill, get all the shit you need and - then - cum inside her and Izzy as well if she wishes.

>>5981031
>>
>>5981782
>It went well, yes, at the cost of not bringing up Izzy. Do we just hide that part forever?

>…Well, when she asks like THAT, what’s one night?
>>
>>5981782
>Ambivalent
Ma is nice but what the french call a "Baptismal frog"
Pa have a solid head on his shoulder but is bigoted.

So yeah, difficulties with the whole "society won't accept" part of our socially unacceptable thingy.

>…Well, when she asks like THAT, what’s one night?

I feel Ezreal deserve a bit of love - Izzy does love a bit like an autistic person; she's not as good as Costella to make us feel loved.
>>
>>5981887
>Potentially making her fall pregnant now complicates things.
anon do you really think that'd be our first time creampying her ?
>>
>>5981782
>You had a pretty awful time, honestly, and you’re not afraid to say so
>>5981784
>You ought to return to the hill, before Izzy worries about you
This is a trap. Izzy already is worrying that we'll neglect her in favor if Costella. Mark my words, if we falter here she'll do something unwise.
>>
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>>5982038
>Baptismal frog
[Huh, that's a new one. I think I intuited the meaning though.]

>>5981815
>>5981887
>>5981948
>>5982038
>>5982146
[Making coffee, then writing!]

>>5982042
...
>>
>>5982247
>…
We are double teamed a lot, so that’s kinda given it happened some times, with either of them of course.
>>
Rolled 4 (1d4)

>>5982253
You'd be surprised

>>5982247
With Costella looking at you like THAT, you simply stand no chance. You’d both told Izzy to expect you back tonight, but there’s something about the look in Costella’s eyes that is just as potent—and far more pleasant—than the artificial aura of lust which Carazzi had once inflicted upon you.

“Well, what’s one night?”

Costella walks close with you, her hand in yours. You look over at each other periodically as you make your way to the inn in question. You bypass a few small family homes which offer single rooms for single individuals. Wordlessly you pass by still others, knowing their thin walls and creaky beds are not what you seek.

As you travel, your glances grow more frequently. Your fingers play with one another, rubbing each other’s knuckles and wrists, and then stroking and squeezing one another’s arms. Costella playfully bumps her hips against you, and you pinch her in turn and make her squeal. The girlish laughter makes you look in her direction at just the right time to catch the torchlight flickering in her beautiful blue eyes; you kiss her, because in that moment you must. She cups your face, then slips her hands under your robes to clutch at your shirt, to rub your chest. Stumbling into an alley your own hands find hers: big, soft, save for nipples hard enough o poke through her dress. You remain there a while, kissing, caressing, silent except for soft gasps and moans.

Eventually, you find a room above a tavern which rents their loft above by the night, but also by the hour; you pay the stern-looking half-orc woman at the bar some extra coin to cover you until morning, and giddily hurry to the room.

25% chance of pregnancy scare
>>
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>ask if we have contraceptives or not, if not, vote as return to hill
>vote counted as 3:2, with the two being
>>5981887
>>5982146
>>
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>>5982270
You aren’t irresponsible about it, of course. You hadn’t come to Hawksong expecting to stay the night, and so aren’t armed with your usual selection of contraceptive measures, but this is the sort of establishments which sells at least some of them, albeit primarily the rather uncouth and unappealing option of an animal-intestine barrier. Even as you both opt to forgo that, you aren’t without options...

Though in the passion of the moment, some things slip your mind until it's very nearly too late.

>4
>You manage to pull out, breaking Costella Fanucci’s powerful leg-lock in a burst of endorphins and adrenaline, before it’s too late.
>see pic related for further detail (warning, LEWD, nsfw)

You flop down beside her a moment later, finally—after several such sessions—spent. Costella clings to you, nuzzling against you, hands still roaming your body—not in search of sex, but simply in naked appreciation of your form.

“I think tonight’s been a good one,” you say eventually.

“Yeah?” Costella asks, smirking a little slyly and stroking your hair. “I’d hope so, after THAT.”

“I meant the WHOLE night,” you say, flicking her nose and making her yelp. “Including the bit with your parents.”

“O-oh?” she says. “Sorry Papa was a little, um…”

“I get it,” you sigh, frowning a little. “They were both a little ‘intense’ compared to when I used to come see you, but we DID call off the engagement they planned and surprise them with our own. I think… Well, I hope they aren’t like that EVERY time we have dinner, but if it’s just the once…”

“They’ll get used to the idea!” Costella pledges, looking determined. “I’ll get through to them, Ez! I promise. You’re just, like… probably not who they saw me marrying, exactly. Or who -I- pictured, honestly?”

“…Oh?”

“B-but I’m glad! I’m REALLY happy that, like… We met, and found each other.”

“You and me,” you reply, “and Izirina?”

“Y-yeah…”

“How long are we going to keep that last part secret?” you ask pointedly. “Forever? The one thing I noticed is how TRADITIONAL your parents are. If you have to warm them up to the idea of ME… What do we do about Izzy? Just keep her secret forever? You know that will make her feel…”

“Not great.”

“No,” you agree grimly. “She won’t feel ‘great’ about being a secret, while you and I get married.”

“and I don’t WANT to hurt her,” Costella almost wails. “I love her too! I love BOTH of you, and US the THREE of us, together. But, like… I’ve always wanted a wedding, and… And children. And if this is something that takes a long time to, like, sort out legally or whatever... I still want to, you know... Do those things.”

Your mind flickers back to earlier that night, when the two of you were entangled, and her legs were all but entrapping you within her desire.
>>
>>5982295
“Costella… That was pretty close, before.”

“Sorry,” she says sheepishly.

“It almost seemed like you WANTED me to… You know…”

Costella’s face reddens, and she avoids eye contact.

“Costella?”

“I… I just got carried away is all. All that t-talk about, like, you know, having children was… And tonight’s just been so ROMANTIC, just like something out of , l-like, a romance novel, and I’ve never felt you, like… Do THAT inside, and…”

Costella looks up at you with big eyes.

“It wasn’t on purpose, honest! But I mean… Would it be bad if it WAS? I-if you, you know, HADN’T, um, ‘pulled out’, and we had… You know…”

>Chastise Costella for her recklessness
>Admit that the idea has some appeal
>Just cuddle in silence until morning, and deal with this later
>Activate your teleportation envelope and leave her there; you're MAD
>Write-in

Are there any other things you'd like to discuss with Costella, while you have her here alone?
>The whole matter of the prophecy and your efforts to avoid it
>This Carlos De Gori fellow
>This love goddess her father mentioned, and Costella's own faith
>Izzy and Costella, and the natrue fo their own love
>Nothing
>Write-in

>>5982272
[There's no 100% effective contraceptive measures, anyway, side from abstinence, avoiding penetrative intercourse altogether, or abortion. This vote was always going to have a pregnancy chance roll, especially in light of the above.]
>>
>>5982299
>Chastise Costella for her recklessness
I love the feeling too, but right now pregnancy is not something we can allow to happen. Next time we - will - use contraceptives. Actual ones. This will never happen again.

>Izzy and Costella, and the nature of their own love

>[There's no 100% effective contraceptive measures, anyway, side from abstinence, avoiding penetrative intercourse altogether, or abortion. This vote was always going to have a pregnancy chance roll, especially in light of the above.]
I know, but having multiple methods certainly tips the odds in our favor. Or at least one.

And you three.
I told you all about this shit. The reason I keep mentioning sterilization, abortion, and all that is precisely for this situation. Had things went the other way, I expect each and every one of you who chose that path to support abortion. If you don’t got the guts for that, you can go fuck yourself - I will not see Tips and Costella forced into a shitty marriage because we decided to be retarded one night.

We had it. We played our cards well at the meeting with the parents and then we decided to do the one thing that fucked it all up.

>>5981887
>>
>>5982299
>Chastise Costella for her recklessness
This is not a thing to decide on in the throes of passion.
>The whole matter of the prophecy and your efforts to avoid it
>This Carlos De Gori fellow
>This love goddess her father mentioned, and Costella's own faith
>Izzy and Costella, and the natrue fo their own love
>>
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>>5982299
Fuck, seems like she's not that much more sane than Izzy.
>Chastise Costella for her recklessness
I get it, Cossy, but that's not something for you to decide on your own without telling us. That's irresponsible and we're already risking it with this "us" time without Izzy.

>Izzy and Costella, and the natrue fo their own love
How deep is it and if it's more than just sexual gratification between them both.
>>5982310
now's your time to shine, narrator.
>>
>>5982427
>>5982396
>>5982310

“And what?” you demand. “If we had gotten you pregnant, before we’re married, before we’ve talked to IZZY about it, and RIGHT before we’re about to embark on an expedition into the GODS DAMNED GOBLIN WASTES??”

Costella’s hopeful, doe-eyed expression turns shocked, then fearful. In that first instant, you’re honestly sort of pleased—she SHOULD feel bad, after pulling a stunt like that! That satisfaction doesn’t last, though, obviously. You’ve been accused of having a soft heart, and even if that isn’t EXACTLY true, you reserve your real anger and disdain for those who TRULY deserve it. Costella, whatever madness and folly possessed her, doesn’t number among them.

“I wasn’t… Like, of COURSE we’d talk about it before we… I just, you know, thought it m-might be…”

You lay back down—having sat up in your angry outburst, and you place your arms around your lover. Costella sniffles a little, and murmurs:

“I’m Sorry, Ez. I wasn’t thinking… And I’d never try to, to force you to…”

“I get it,” you sigh, , pulling her head to your shoulder and stroking her hair, fingers sliding down and through the strands to rub her bare back. “I mean, it felt really good, so I’m not COMPLAINING about, uh, THAT.”

“It DID, right?” Costella chirps, sighing happily at the recent memory, thighs squirming together. “You know, fi you want, we could—"

“COSTELLA.”

“R-right, sorry,” she whispers.

You proper yourself up on one elbow, enough that you can properly see Costella’s face… Well, insofar as it isn’t buried in her sex-mussed hair. Yous weep some of it away so you can make eye-contact—so you can make sure she gets it.

“This isn’t the kind of thing we decide on in the throes of passion, at random… or one your own, without telling me, AND Izzy.”

Izirina Henzler’s face flashes before your eyes, and you wince a little. This little liaison… it’s already going to require explanation, and the smoothing over of ruffled feathers, you’re certain of it. At the time, charging in here and ripping your clothes off to dispel the tension, you’d set such concerns aside. Now, shocked out of passion’s afterglow and back into sanity and clarity by Costella’s words, you’re forced to face that reality head-on. You look back down at Costella’s face, still pressed into the inn’s thin and threadbare pillow in glum contemplation, and you wonder if she’s thinking the same thing.

“What exactly is the relationship between you and Izirina, anyway?” you ask.
>>
>>5982626
“…Um?” Costella replies, looking confused by the question. “Ez, you KNOW that we, uh… I mean, you’ve SEEN us, doing things.”

“I know THAT,” you say hurriedly, and a bit more testily than you intended. “I just mean… Is it… When you say you LOVE her, what do you, uh, MEAN by that?”

Costella’s face flushes a little, which seems almost laughable in light of all that the two of you have shared with one another—not LEAST of which your recent hour-long escapade.

“Well, I loved you FIRST before I really KNEW Iz, but, like… I know we’re both GIRLS and it’s DIFFERENT, and that, the, like, Gods don’t support or belss t-that sort of thing, and we can’t get married, but it’s just kind of likeidontknowsortofawarmfeelingwhenshelooksatmeandtellsmeimdoingwellandidontknowijust—”

“Costella,” you say, giving her a gentle squeeze, “slow down.”

She titters nervously, face redder than ever, and says:

“Well I just… I love her, you know? Like, I love her like I love YOU. And…”

Costella’s face falls a little, and she finally scoots up into a sitting position and cradles her knees, looking away.

“…She isn’t… Like that.”

You blink.

“But I’ve seen her uh…”

(Damn, this IS curiously awkward to talk about, even now, with this third party in your ‘throuple’)

“She’s, you know… Used her hands and mouth on you. And kissed you. And…” You clear your throat. “Things.”

“It’s more than THAT,” Costella blurts out. “Ez…”

Costella looks at you with trepidation in her gaze.

“You know she does that stuff more for US, right?”

“…Wait, what?”

Costella leans towards you now on both arms, and the words pour forth:

“I don’t think Iz exactly, like, ‘likes’ sex, with boys OR girls, the way, like, you or me do. She just kind of… Well, I think she ENJOYS it, but it’s more like a way to be close with someone, maybe? Like, the way you make me feel, or SHE makes me feel, it leave my whole body shaking, and my heart pounding, and I just feel so GOOD, like it’s the BEST having sex with someone you love!”

Costella smiles brightly, squeezing her cheeks as she gushes, but then abruptly frowns, forehead furrowing.

“But Iz just looks like she’s thinking the whole time, and when she’s done, she looks like she does when she’s figured out a tough alchemical formula or, like, learned a new spell or something, you know? And wh-when I offer to, you know… R-return the favour, she always says no.”

Costella’s face falls a little further, and you see the beginnings of tears at the corner of her eyes.

“…And she never says ‘I love you’.”
>>
>>5982628
You want to comfort and reassure Costella, of course. However, you hesitate. First, you consider Costella’s words, and compare them to your own experiences. Izirina Henzler has certainly initiated intimacy with you before—even sort of ‘initiated’ your whole relationship, even if it took you well over a year to properly define it. However, you realize with a start that you don’t think she’s ever even said ‘I love you’ to YOU. She’s demonstrated it—at least, that’s how you’ve interpreted certain acts, gestures, commitments—but she’s never (or scarcely-if-ever) really said as much.

“I think she ‘does it’ with people to keep them around, and make them feel good,” Costella muses sadly. “And with you, I know it’s because, like, she DOES love you, and wants to be with you. But with me, it’s always… ‘it’s fine if it’s Costella’, you know? Not… ‘Ooo, I really want Costella right now’ or anything, just… “it’s fine’. A-and I know that I don’t have the history and bond that you two do, and that our relationship is DIFFERENT, but I something..."

You wait as she assembles her thoughts.

"I sort of think she, like... Does stuff with me because YOU want us both, and it's more f-for, like... Your sake?"

You aren't sure how to respond to that. Before you can formulate a reply, Costella presses on.

"B-but I know YOU love me, so meeting my parents, a-and talking about marriage, and children, and a-all of that was just…”

Costella sniffles again, and rubs her eyes and nose with the back of her arm, gracelessly.

“It was really nice, and made me feel really good, and I guess part of me thought maybe it was something where, i-if we had a baby, then that bond would sort of be, like... Oh, I don't know!"

“Costella…”

“I’m sorry!” Costella blurts. “I know your first child should be with Iz, especially with, like, her ‘condition’ and everything making you two wait to do it.”

“It’s not that,” you say. “Costella, we… If me and Izzy have a child…”

Costella looks confused, but you can’t bring yourself to say any more—not here and now.

“It’s complicated, and it’s a ways off, ‘condition’ or no condition,” you say. “we’ve talked about it—because it IS important to talk about these things first…”

Costella looks suitably chastened, and nods.

“…But it’s not happening yet, and we’ll talk about it with YOU, too. I told you once, and I meant it: the three of us are going to make this work, ALL of us, TOGETHER. That’s a promise, Costella.”

You smile, and reach out to hold her. She melts into it, her chest pressed to yours.

“I love you, Costella Fanucci.”

“I l-love you too, Ezreal…”
>>
>>5982629
Morning comes too quickly. Between the exuberant start to the night and the lengthy discussion which followed, you got scarcely any sleep. In spite of your natural elven attunement to cycles of sun and moon, you genuinely consider casting <Calm> on yourself with enough aura behind the spell to put you back to sleep for another few hours. However, before you can properly consider this extraordinary measure—

“Don’t give me that!” roars a voice from below, muffled by the timbers but loud enough to make it through whatever thick, wadded insulation afford these hourly rooms their modicum of privacy. “I know they’re here! What room are they in?!”

“Oh no!” Costella gasps, waking at once and sitting up with a start.

You look to her questioningly, and she cringes, and explains:

“That’s, uh, Carlos De Gori’s voice.”

“Oh,” you reply.

“COSTELLA!” bellows the same voice, as footfalls—more than those of just a single man—thump and clatter through the hallway outside. “Come out here right now, or I’ll let everyone know exactly what kind of inn you and your so-called fiancé are staying in!”

What will you do?
>Tell Costella to wait here, and step out to confront this asshole
>Go meet him together, and try to reason with him
>Hurriedly gather your clothes and what possessions you brought, including the envelope to teleport the two of you back home to Old Maple Hill
>Maybe a spell can solve this? [which one?]
>Write-in

Sorry for words-words-words, anons. I think I got carried away!
>>
>>5982630
I intended to vote that the idea has some appeal, but I keep coming in mid update and something distracts me until the next mid-update =P

>Continue the affair loudly while you send a wildshaped clone to deal with him
Dunno if this’ll work, but I do have the urge to fuck with this guy unknowingly while shaming him to keep it down, there are others here trying to have a good time ;)
>>
>>5982640
[Not be be the fun police, but Tips has never cloned himself and, without ensouling a clone, its initiative and ability to act and operate independently seems limited based on early experimentation with lizards and other organisms. Just thought I should include a reminder.]
>>
fuck, we can teleport back but it'd probably be throwing on the face of Izzy what we did the night before. A fight doesn't seem too good, even with an advantage, he's with more people and calming won't be enough. Even a win won't do good since it'd confirm we were here and not only that, we brawled with the guy. what do, what do...
>>5982640
funny idea anon, but no
>>
wait a minute, I know, we can use our wildshape to fly outta here.
>>5982630
>Maybe a spell can solve this ? [wildshape]
>>
>>5982299
>Admit that the idea has some appeal

>Izzy and Costella, and the natrue fo their own love

Idea - we marry her in front of her parents in Hawksong, we marry Izzy in front of our parents in the Sylvan realms when all the dark stuff blows over, and uh she marries Izzy in uh somewhere Bloodrise? ha
Everyone gets official ceremonies and her parents NEVER find out.

agh I missed the vote, what a quick update

>>5982630
>Tell Costella to wait here, and step out to confront this asshole
Once he sees we're half elf he'll give up, he knows he can't compete
>>
>>5982695
>Once he sees we're half elf he'll give up, he knows he can't compete
nigga, he's with some people, he's gonna try beat the shit outta us
>>
>>5982630
>Hurriedly gather your clothes and what possessions you brought, including the envelope to teleport the two of you back home to Old Maple Hill

Carlos is a cunt - the kind who thinks beating up Costella’s new lover would make her love him again. Somehow. Against someone that retarded, even attempting to talk is a misplay. The only winning move is to not play - even if we win, win unscathed, getting into a fight with someone like that is not a good look.
>>
>>5982707
Yes and? It's a chance to add mass calm to our list of spells. Seriously doubt any of them have the magic to hit our Aetherial Form.
>>
>>5982695
>Idea - we marry her in front of her parents in Hawksong, we marry Izzy in front of our parents in the Sylvan realms when all the dark stuff blows over
The only problem is getting welcomed into the syvlan realms again. I don’t know what we could do. As far as they’re concerned, we fled with a very valuable prisoner in hand.

>>5982640
It gets me thinking about using monstrous growth again. It would be pretty funny if we did that on Carlos’ penis. Good luck having sex again.

But no. Fighting him at all isn’t worth it.
>>5982707
Yeah, he probably has his friends ready to jump us.
>>
>>5982741
>The only problem is getting welcomed into the syvlan realms again. I don’t know what we could do. As far as they’re concerned, we fled with a very valuable prisoner in hand.
Perhaps a peace treaty and offers of trade agreements from Theral?
>>
>>5982738
Dude, showing up isn’t worth it at all because of the repercussions. We gotta get outta here.
>>5982741
Good plan, anon
>>
>>5982630

>Tell Costella to wait here, and step out to confront this asshole.
+
>Maybe a spell can solve this? [wildshape, combat form.]

If him and his fodder goons try to jump us, we can just toss a magma or lightning elemental at them.
>>
>>5982918
>>5980016
>>5978170
>>5975334
This is me.
>>
>>5982918
anon, do you think that fighting in the inn is a good idea ? specially when he can't prove we're here to others as it is ?
>>
>>5982669
Wouldn’t using the teleport letter be easier? Less likely to be spotted too.
>>
>>5982933
Yes? This bum Carolus and some thugs he wrangled came here to harass Costella and us

It's in our befit to trash them with our magic and brutalize and humiliate him and his lackeys. Running away like a worthless bitch will have carlous try this again when we are not nearby.
>>
>>5982961
I’d rather jump him later. Right now we only got Costella with us.
>>
>>5982954
Yes, but the problem is that Izzy will know why we took so long to return thanks to how we are
>>5982961
Dude, you’re forgetting that even if we win, word will get out that we were shagging costella here and she’ll get a bad reputation. We can dunk this guy on another occasion.
>>
>>5982299
>Chastise Costella for her recklessness
More like voice our disagreement in a
At least it wasn't on purpose. But this is a big and grave decision that should not be taken on the... ahem... heat of the moment.

>This love goddess her father mentioned, and Costella's own faith
>>
>>5982630
Oh, I'm late.
>Hurriedly gather your clothes and what possessions you brought, including the envelope to teleport the two of you back home to Old Maple Hill

Power Word : Smell Ya Later.
Best for our sweet Costella's reputation. He looks like an idiot. We then confront him on our terms.
>>
>>5982968
We can sumon advanced elementals, regenerate, become intangible, infuse ourselves with elemental power and wild shape into a beast form. we don't need back up to deal with fodder goons.

>>5982976
He can't do anything to anyone's reputation, sleeping with your fiancé is regularly behaviour. Carlous is just saying whatever he can to make costella come outside. Because the inn staff is stonewalling him.

And what do you "if" we win? Tips is a dangerous sorcerer who killed dozens of evil fey back at his homeland. Carlous and his lackeys are as far as we have been told normal people.
>>
>>5982630
>Go intangible, escape through the wall, approach Carlos from the other side, pretend we heard him bellowing Costella's name, and deal with him and his goons. Retrieve Costella later, give the innkeeper hush money.
This should save Costella's reputation.
The teleport option is tempting, but what will happen is he will break into a roon where someone obviously had sex, decide we escaped and go on to slander us.
I wonder how he found out we were here in the first place.
>>
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>>5983063
>i
>>5983005
>>5982918
>>5982726
>>5982695
>>5982669
>>5982640
Your first instinct is to abscond in some way, by means of Izirina’s <Teleport Object> or otherwise. Maybe in <Improved Aethereal Form>, or via a winged <Wildshape>? Neither of the latter options can bring Costella with you, though, while the first…

…Well, it will mean meeting Izzy, right now, still stinking of sex and with adrenaline high. Not necessarily the best way to begin the inevitable conversation about your delayed arrival.

Besides, you need to know how much this Carlos knows, and if he can prove any of it or intends to do anything else with that information. He might intend on ruining Costella’s reputation, for instance, or be planning to spring some similar trap another time, another day… Maybe when YOU aren’t around to stand between he and Costella Fanucci.

(Who can say how IDIOTS like this man think, after all?)

No, you’re a powerful and dangerous mage, with nothing to fear from a single man (in both senses of the word) and his hireling gaggle of goon, or whomever might be accompanying him. What you DO have to fear is consequences for Costella if you don’t settle this here and now.

“Stay put,” you whisper to Costella.

“What? Ez, no, we should just—Mm!”

You silence Costella with a kiss, which leaves her breathless and as little starstruck. You smile at this, and then turn your back. Pulling on your striped trousers and fancy new Testa-made tunic would entail more struggle and delay than you can afford, and risk being caught half-clad and tangled in your attire—humiliating, and less than combat-optimal if it comes down to that.

“Then I guess I’ll wear fur,” you murmur to yourself, “or scales, or feathers…”

You step to the door and push it open. As you do so, you speak:

“<Wildshape>”

…and animal integument covers your nakedness, as your body warps and shifts into something more akin to:
>Veloz—a mobile, aerial form akin to your lunar hummingbird companion
>Hershy—or Hirschel—the feathered, dragonblooded drake, with his gold feathers and fire breath
>Some aspect of Muffins—that of a fearsome grappling lion, a tough, stubbornly-defensive goat, or a keenly-sensitive, venomous viper [specify which one—you cannot manage all three aspects at once]
>Write-in (must be an animal you’ve had some experience with)
>>
>>5983155
>Hershy—or Hirschel—the feathered, dragonblooded drake, with his gold feathers and fire breath

I don’t like the snake - too frail and if there’s too many people we can’t offend everyone at once. Goat could be decent, but I’d rather have fire breath. Veloz doesn’t have that much offense. Lion is okay I guess but I’d rather not grapple with multiple people present.
>>
>>5983155
>Lion
Call me paranoid, but I think the drake could tie us to the Reptilians in the witnesses' eyes
>>
>>5983165
My line of thinking is that the lion or any aspect of muffins would be more able to traced back to us. A drake wouldn’t. I don’t believe Tips has that in his possession. So we could have some deniability in the matter. Tips wasn’t “here” - his “pet” was.
>>
>>5983155
>Muffin lion style
>>
>>5983155
WEREWOLF
>>
>>5983231
[You won't be as combat-capable as Oncyth even if you opt for a wolf-form, just a heads up. Voters didn't choose to upgrade the Wildshape spell, taking Greater Disjunction instead.]
>>
>>5983013
>And what do you "if" we win?
I was kinda eepy and for some reason thought that there being a mage was a possibility. but still, the major problem was cossy's reputation, but not much to do now.
>>5983155
>Some aspect of Muffins—that of a fearsome grappling lion
while the dragon sounds awesome, I don't wanna use fire breath in an enclosed space. Goat sounds good, but I think lion would be better to finish goons off due to the initiative.
>>
My plan is to wrestle him into submission, then CALM him.
>>
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>>5983324
>>5983231
>>5983174
>>5983165
>>5983161
These men are not here for peaceable purposes. They mean to intimidate Costella at best, and to attack one or both of you at worst. You know next to nothing about Carlos De Gori, except for his designs upon Costella, and that he is wealthy enough to offer a bride-dowry and stupidly belligerent enough to assemble a small crew of fellow fools to try to win back a lost lady love by force of arms. As such, a formidable form seems most appropriate, and the first such form that comes to mind is that of your pet chimera, Muffins; more specifically, his most fearsome, leonine aspect.

Your hair grows long and thick, splitting the thin band which you use to hold your ponytail in place as it spread out to encompass your neck and shoulders. You feel your skin ripple as fur follicles multiply and rapidly produce golden-brown hair in rolling waves across your body, like a sudden crop of wheat across barren earth. Beneath your skin, bones and muscles pop and crackle as they rearrange into something more muscular—albeit not quite so mighty as Muffins himself, who has grown larger than you have heard of true lions in the Southlands growing. It becomes rather cumbersome to stand on two legs rather than four, but you grip the wall to hold yourself up as you turn to face the forces of this ‘Carlos’: four burly-looking male, three humans and one with at least some orcish admixture by his underbite, thick brown, and the porcine lilt to his nose.

It the last one, the half-orc, who first notices you. He scents the air like an animal, seeming to notice the shift in your body by smell, and turns to face you with some startlement. He taps one of his fully-human companions with a quick knuckle-rap upon the shoulder, and this man, too, takes in your fierce, beastman-like appearance with evident shock. For your part, you notice both of them are armed—they have shortswords upon their belt, and the cheap leather armour of casual adventurers or corporate private guards. So, too, the other two men, who are still knocking upon other doors, ignorant of you: armed, armoured, ready for trouble.

“Hey, Herman! Jackson! What’s the hold-up, ey? I don’t hear you two knocking!”

This voice doesn’t come from any of the four you’ve spotted already, but from behind them. Emerging from a room he’d seemingly barged his way into comes a swarthy, handsome man, taller than the others. Even in his loose silk shirt and breeches, you can tell his body is more trained and better built than the others in an instant: it’s in his posture, his movement. He doesn’t wear armor, but he alone has drawn his sword: a proper longsword, ill-suited to the close confines of the inn’s narrow halls, but with a decorated handguard and a peculiar sheen when attest to it being both the weapon of an aristocratic family AND it having been enchanted in some fashion.
>>
>>5983551
“You’re their ringleader, I presume,” you growl, the rumble coming naturally to your voice in this form and lending you a bit of menace.

“And what the fuck are you supposed to be?” Carlos De Gori laughs, looking you up and down. “I thought you beastmen knew better than to come to a place like this, for humans and demihumans.”

So he doesn’t recognize you? Well, between your current shapeshifted state and your never having MET the man, you suppose that makes sense…

“Some of us are trying to sleep in,” you say.

“Scram, catman—leave, or go back to your room,” De Gori arrogantly shoos you. “We’re looking for a human girl, and a half-elf man. We have no business with you.”

You assume that Costella’s parents likely told him something of her new fiancé when breaking the bad news to him, which explain his knowing your race. But how did he know to look for you here? Was he or one of these goons of his watching the Fanucci home to catch sight of her suitor, so he could spring this little ‘surprise’?

What will you do?
>Introduce yourself—you are that ‘half-elf man’, Ezreal Mious Van Houtzmann, Apprentice to the Archmage, fiancé of Costella Fanucci. Now, what does he want? [Intimidate attempt, Courage roll to menace]
>Ask what he wants with this human and half-elf couple, and why he’s so sure they’re here [Sociability roll to gather info]
>Strike while their guard is relatively lowered—take down or injure a couple of these goons with your leonine strength [initiates combat; you can spend additional MP to amp up your form; 4/5 left]
>Wish them luck, and return to your room to hunker down until they leave [problem remains unresolved, but you can avoid the altercation]
>Write-in
>>
>>5983552
>Write-in: Summon an ice elemental next to you to back you up.
+
>Introduce yourself—you are that ‘half-elf man’, Ezreal Mious Van Houtzmann, Apprentice to the Archmage, fiancé of Costella Fanucci. Now, what does he want? [Intimidate attempt, Courage roll to menace]

We should summon an elemental, incase he tries to rush us with his squad in this hallway. A display of magic could also help us in intimidating him.
>>
>>5983616
this>>5982918 is me.
>>
>>5983552
Backing >>5983616
>>
File: Angry Wolf.gif (1.46 MB, 498x278)
1.46 MB
1.46 MB GIF
>>5983552
man, it'd be so funny to just return to our room and leave this to future EZ, but we gotta nip this in the bud.

>Introduce yourself—you are that ‘half-elf man’, Ezreal Mious Van Houtzmann, Apprentice to the Archmage, fiancé of Costella Fanucci. Now, what does he want? [Intimidate attempt, Courage roll to menace]
mogging time
>>
>>5983552
>Strike while their guard is relatively lowered—take down or injure a couple of these goons with your leonine strength [initiates combat; you can spend additional MP to amp up your form; 4/5 left]

You treat me like a stray dog - and you’ll be bitten by one
>>
>>5983552
>Ask what he wants with this human and half-elf couple, and why he’s so sure they’re here [Sociability roll to gather info]
I want the intel
>>
>>5983616
I'll support that course of action.
>>
Rolled 10, 18, 9 = 37 (3d20)

“Oh?” you ask tersely. “And I suppose you’ve been spying on this couple, to learn that they were here?”

“What’s it to you?” De Gori demands.

“Hey, boss, this guy smells—” begins the half-orc.

“Worse than he looks,” De Gori says, with a sneer, “and that’s saying something.”

“I think what your lackey was about to say was that I smelled ‘off’,” you say. “Maybe like a half-elf. Or like alchemical reagents and the elemental planes. Or maybe like Costella Fanucci.”

De Gori’s eyes go wide with shock and outrage, and then narrow as he seems to process what you just said.

“Who in the Hells are you, lion-man?”

“I’m sorry,” you say, “I’ve been RUDE, haven’t I?”

Casting a spell in <Wildshape> is a difficult thing, with your normally-mobile digits half-fused into paws and your half-transformed posture making the footwork necessary for the other aspects of the arcane arts equally awkward. Instead, you release your grip on the doorframe, dropping down into a stance more natural to your current form, and you allow the current to complete its process, turning you from something akin to a strange felid beastman to a true king of the jungle.

“My name is Ezreal Mious Van Houtzmann, Apprentice to the Archmage, Disciple of the True Fey,” you say, your voice deepening and slurring some of the syllables as deadly carnivoran dentition replaces your human-elven teeth, and your jaw extends outwards to accommodate, “but you probably know me better as the half-elf who’s gong to marry Costella.”

“You!”

“Yes, ME,” you growl.

De Gori’s goons gasp and shout minced oaths to the Gods of order, taking a step back as they watch your transformation with confusion and horror. To his credit, the leader of this ill-conceived endeavour at least holds his ground, raising his sword in a defensive posture and adjusting his footwork.

(Hm… A warrior? At least, he’s someone with training…)

“Now tell me: what’s it to YOU, Carlos? What do you think someone like YOU can do to the likes of ME?”

You still somehow doubt that he can best you, but your sincere hope is that, having seen a sample of what you can do, De Gori will wise up and it won’t come to that. After all, he’s have to be pretty confident or pretty FOOLISH to fight a magical jungle cat in a confined space, right?

[3d20 courage. DC -3 for your fearsome appearance and higher power-level and social status. DC +2 for being outnumbered and unarmed--your staff and wand are with your clothes]
DC 14 for the goons, 16 for Carlos
>>
>>5984469
“What, you think we’re scared of magic tricks?” Carlos barks back. “This is a magic sword, and I know how to use it! All you can do is turn into an even BIGGER pussy than I already heard you were.”

“Your think you know about me by reputation?” you ask. “You won’t be the first person to think they do… And if it came to it, you wouldn’t be the first to DIE shortly afterwards, either, Carlos. Not even the first to die screaming, beneath tooth and claw.”

(Usually Muffins’ or Oncyth’s, mind you, but HE doesn’t need to know that)

You lower your head and take a few paw-pads forwards, snapping and growling. Carlos De Gori, for all his bravado, takes a step back, but then steels himself.

“Wh-whatever,” he huffs. “You’re still outnumbered, asshole!”

You laugh, the sound coming out as a thrumming purr, and you nod your head in a gesture that sends your mane flying.

“Look again, Carlos.”

De Gori gulps, clearly afraid to take his saucer-wide eyes off of you, and asks: “Guys?”

No answer comes, though, because his four minions—to a man—have abandoned him, fleeing down the stairs and quite possibly out of the inn altogether. De Gori finally allows his eyes t flit away from you, just for a moment, JUST long enough to fully understand the situation he’s in.

“Is Costella in there?” he demands, and then shouts: “COSTELLA!”

“That’s none of your business,” you reply. “Show some courtesy: people are here to enjoy themselves, Carlos, and one another. Someone like YOU has no place here. Not anymore.”

“You—!”

“Yes?”

“You… You won’t get away with this!” Carlos snaps. “She was my girl first, damnit! You’re not even her TYPE! You think you can just wave your stupid wand, brainwash her into loving you, and geta way with it?!”

You stare at him, your feline face hiding your confusion at this interpretation of events. Carlos De Gori must take the silence as you stonewalling him, though, for after a few heaving breaths, he steps back and points his sword at you, declaring:

“This isn’t over! I’ll be back for her, you bastard!”

“You should reconsider,” you reaffirm, “for YOUR sake.”

Carlos De Gori looks like he might want to argue the argue further, but he bites back whatever reply he was formulating when you lunge forward, and he very nearly tumbles down the stairs in his hurry to escape you. By now, of course, others are peeking out of their room, only to gasp or shriek and slam the doors shut when the ‘lion’ in the hallway turns to regard them. You finally release a sigh you’ve been holding—of relief, of exasperation—and return to your room.

“Costella, do you mind?” you ask. “I don’t have thumbs right now…”

“R-right, I’m on it, Ez!" Costella says, and hurries to shut the door behind you so you can shed your fur.
>>
>>5984492
Less than an hour later, the two of you both bipedal and clothed once more. The half-orc woman at the bar simply nods as the two of you depart, regarding you with wary respect no doubt borne of your having chased off five armed men.

Costella, for her part, is silent. Between your chastising of her for her sexual irresponsibility, her revelations of emotional vulnerability, and her spurned suitor (possibly ex-boyfriend?) attempting to attack you, this whole ‘private night of fun’ situation has presumably not gone the way she’d hoped it would. You have to admit some exasperation yourself…

(But last night WAS really good)

“Time to go home?” Costella asks sheepishly, when she catches you staring.

>Yes, return to Old Maple Hill… To talk with Izzy, and to plan your trip to the Wastes
>No, there’s something you have to do in Hawksong first [what?]

>>5983740
>>5983729
>>5984033
>>5983670
>>5983616

[Woops, forgot to tag you anons! The reason for not summoning an ice elemental were addressed in the post, but one of the downsides of Wildshape is that it interferes with the somatic components necessary for spellcasting... At least, in the way you use Wildshape and the sorts of spellcasting you do right now.]
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>>5984494
>No, there’s something you have to do in Hawksong first [what?]
>Clean up
>Talk to Costella’s parents about Carlos’ attempt on our lives

He’s a rotten son of a bitch, too focused on winning that he doesn’t even know what the stakes could’ve been.

Clean ourselves. Make ourselves a bit more presentable. They probably figured we did have sex but we did assure them, so there’s that. Still, don’t make it that blatant.

As for the talk with her parents - get our stories straight. We were staying at an inn. Heard shouting from a bunch of people, going from room to room, threatening us. When Tips left the room to confront who was, we saw Carlos standing with his sword brandished, with a couple of his friends. Tips chased them off.

Ask the parents to sever any ties to Carlos and his families for good. We defended ourselves.

>The reason for not summoning an ice elemental were addressed in the post
You could’ve replied before you posted the update. Just tag >>5983616 right away as soon as you are free as a FYI.

am >>5983161
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>>5984494
>Yes, return to Old Maple Hill… To talk with Izzy, and to plan your trip to the Wastes
Thankfully we mogged the guy. But what was that talk about brainwashing ? wizards trully are the most oppressed class.
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>>5984514
>You could’ve replied before you posted the update
[Maybe, but the majority of votes and the general trajectory of the scene were for a confrontation, so it didn't seem worth delaying the update until tomorrow over.]

>>5984520
> But what was that talk about brainwashing ?
[Hmm...]
>>
>>5984537
>[Hmm...]
If it's just basic wizard prejudice 'coz his salty, cope better. Now if he thinks that we did something else while we healed Cossy, than I'll be salty.
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>>5984494
>Yes, return to Old Maple Hill… To talk with Izzy, and to plan your trip to the Wastes
Let's not talk to Costella's parents about this
>>
>>5984556
can you give your reasoning, If I may ask?

I feel letting this go would set her and her family up for more trouble later on.
>>5984492
>“This isn’t over! I’ll be back for her, you bastard!”
>>
>>5984562
They're gonna hear about it anyways, he made a pretty big scene. I feel like they'd react better hearing it through the vine than if we went to bother them right after it happened.
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>>5984604
I don’t know about that. I’d rather have our side told straightway before we go on an expedition to the goblin wastes. We leave it to others, Carlos might be able to downplay a few things, change the details so it would seem we were the aggressor or exaggerated what we did.

>By now, of course, others are peeking out of their room, only to gasp or shriek and slam the doors shut when the ‘lion’ in the hallway turns to regard them. You finally release a sigh you’ve been holding—of relief, of exasperation—and return to your room.
>>
>>5984604
>>5984609
[Minor point of order: very few people actually saw you and Costella enter the inn, most of those who saw you ONLY saw you and not Costella, and you were in the form of a lion when most people peeked out at what was happening. This being a low-rent love hotel near the 'red lantern district' ie. the seedy part of town where brothels and drug dens are permitted, few people around here are likely to know who you are. De Gori also can't just go around telling people what happened: what he just did wasn't a formal, legal duel, but an illegal assault and a breach of public order.]

That doesn't mean there's no risk, though.
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>>5984615
Interesting. I’ll still go-ahead with my original plan here >>5984514 but adjust a few things - tell the parents to keep quiet about this incident, but be aware of any future interactions. They might try to slander us.
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>>5984641
dude, telling her parents we were ambushed in an inn right after talking with them and her father asking us to not taint her reputation isn't smart. at best, I could see you telling them that he tried to ambush us, but them it'd propably lead to them learning it was in an inn sooner or later.
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>>5984662
Hm. Yeah, I suppose that would be too inconvenient as well. I guess we’ll have to take the risk, then. I’ll back your >>5984520

We should still clean up before seeing Izzy, though.
>>
>>5984514
>>5984520
>>5984556
>>5984693
Luckily, you had both the foresight and the aura remaining to <summon> some elemental water from the appropriate plane for a quick rinse-down of yourself and of Costella, and a second casting to summon a fire elemental to the temperature tolerable and to dry you both off. After all, you reasoned, Izirina was going to be upset ENOUGH about your absence and late arrival without you both stinking of sex.

“Should we, like… Tell mama and papa about this?” Costella asks worriedly, still shaken up by the recent altercation even as you fumble through your unfamiliar attire’s pockets for your enchanted envelope.

“Absolutely NOT,” you reply. “Costella, this place isn’t exactly reputable, and I PROMSIED Mister Fanucci not to drag your name through the dirt.”

“I mean, I don’t mind a BIT of dirtiness with you,” she jokes with a forced smile and nervous laugh, but then asks anxiously: “What if Carlos does, though?”

“Does what?” you ask. “Admits to assaulting the Archmage’s apprentice in a public place? Prince Rufos’ old security measures might be relaxed somewhat, but we KNOW the Queen, remember? Or, well… I know her, and you know me.”

“And the Prince Consort,” Costella adds.

You frown, and add: “Yes, and you know HIM. Anyway, it’ll be a bad look for us if De Gori goes around telling people he saw us here, IF they even believe him, but it will be far WORSE if he admits to committing a crime against people like us.”

It strikes you just how important you’ve become, suddenly—how well-connected, how established. With all your traveling, and then the simple living in the ancestral manner of the Sylvanfolk in which you proudly partake at Old Maple Hill, it is easy to forget it. Few people around Hawksong know you by appearance, but those who do are in credibly highly-placed people, often invested in (or indebted to) you and your associates… And that’s not counting the eyes of multiple GODS upon you!

Your fingers find the envelope bearing Izirina’s signature tower seal in purple wax. Your eyes linger upon the symbol, and you muse over just how far you’ve come.

You feel…
>More confident [+1 Courage, but ego also increases, and may have effects]
>Like the same old ‘Tips’ as ever [No stat changes, remain humble]

[C]
>>
>>5985454
You take Costella’s hand in yours, meeting her eyes with what you hope is a reassuring smile and giving the extremity a squeeze. With hardly any effort at all, you channel a bit more of your magical energy into the envelope, triggering the spell placed upon and within it: that of a majorly-upcasted <Teleport Object> spell, locked onto the location of your mutual lover: Izirina Henzler.

There is a soft ‘pop’ upon your appearance, and a momentary feeling of disorientation. Costella helps you keep your feet, for which you quietly thank her. You both then look up, quickly taking in your surrounds: your tent beneath the Hill, with the simple comforts of your life together moved about, in some cases scattered haphazardly, while others have been crammed into a wooden trunk you haven’t seen before. Or, well… Maybe crammed is the wrong word, for when Costella opens it to peer inside, it seems as if much of what you, she, and izirina own has been pushed into it, and many more things besides, and yet it STILL has room for more.

“Folded space,” you whisper to Costella, to assuage her curiosity.

You look around and, spotting a familiar black, pointy hat, you clear your throat and greet the source of your miraculous translocation, and no doubt of the trunks peculiar storage capacity.

“Izzy, we’re back.”

You’d been expecting an immediate demand for an explanation, maybe some accusations. What you hadn’t expected, at all, is… Nothing. The mage prodigy looks up from where she is laying upon the ground, head laid back upon a slumbering, rumbling Muffins-pillow. Izirina regards you only momentarily, spares Costella an even briefer glance, and then simply says:

“Oh? I thought you’d have been longer.”

“Longer?” you ask.

“S-so youa ren’t, like, mad?” Costella asks.

“Angry? Upset?” Izzy asks, maybe a little too quickly. “No. Why should I be?”

You exchange a glance with Costella.

“I’m just about done packing,” Izirina goes on to say, “but then I got engrossed in this book.”

You and Costella each turn your heads sideways to read the spine of the volume in question, which is titled: ‘On the Hiftorief of the Goblin Brigandef and of Orcifh Hordef: Thofe Vileft and Mofte Favage of Racef Which Beleagure Thofe More Noble’.

“I think I got… Some of those words?” Costella mumurs, after sounding her way through the title with silent mouth-movements.

“The ‘f’ is an ‘s’,” you explain. “Old printing presses were… Tricky.”

“There was a shift in the alphabet and in pronunciation and spelling as well,” Izirina adds, correcting you as she snaps the book shut with a loud clap that makes Costella jump.

“Um,” Costella squeaks.
>>
>>5985457
“Anyway, I hardly even noticed you were gone,” Izzy says simply, “but now that you’re back, I assume you have your own preparations to make? Your return DID deplete some of my magic to accomplish, of course, so I’ll need a few hours before I can transport us half-way across the continent…”

What will you do?
>Let matters lie
>Address your delayed return and what happened
>Write-in

Are there any other preparations you need to make before departing from Old Maple Hill?
>Purchase and pack some supplies [like what?]
>You’d actually like to bring along some friends or allies [who?]
>Write-in
>No, you’re ready

And how do you plan to make the trip to the Goblin Wastes?
>Teleportation seems a sound idea—straight to the last place where you encountered the Ashurati, better to expedite your mission there
>A carriage would give you all more time to take in the sights, enjoy one another’s company, and make a proper vacation of it… Plus it would be more comfortable for staying there
>Write-in
>>
>>5985454
>More confident [+1 Courage, but ego also increases, and may have effects]

Courage is a powerful stat.

>Let matters lie
If izzy doesn't care one way or another, and is more focused on the trip. I don't see why we should bring it up.


>Purchase and pack some supplies [Some shirin and offerings to bring to the Ashurati.]

The shirin cam in clutch the last time we went there, the goblins love buying it.

>You’d actually like to bring along some friends or allies [Zith-Zi,Efron and Carazzi]
they know the area in goblin wastes better and they can speak goblin.

>A carriage would give you all more time to take in the sights, enjoy one another’s company, and make a proper vacation of it… Plus it would be more comfortable for staying there

The Ashurati are nomadic, if we teleport to where we saw them last they could be in a different place. And we should save izzy's spells.
>>
>>5985454
>More confident [+1 Courage, but ego also increases, and may have effects]
We should feel proud. We did a lot of things, not just for others, but for our own sake as well. We helped ZithZi. Helped Costella and Izzy, got the relationship to this point, and we helped Oncyth.

>>5985458
>Address your delayed return and what happened
We stayed at an inn. Carlos and his folk tried to kill us. Tips scared him off.

>Purchase and pack some supplies [like what?]
Bring a few bundles of goodberries - emergency rations
Contraceptives of all kinds, assuming they haven’t already prepared that. I don’t recall abortifacients being an area he studies in, so, look into that as an additional reading material. Bring it along if we could find it.

( >>5979192 )

By the way, Muffins is currently at the Old Maple Hill, right? I remember him going through the same passage as us when we left the sylvan realms. I think we can bring him along.
>Teleportation seems a sound idea—straight to the last place where you encountered the Ashurati, better to expedite your mission there
It’s not the safest place out there.

>>5984514
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>>5985480
oh, yeah, bringing along ZithZi would be good. I’m not sure about Carazzi, though.
>>
>>5985485
>By the way, Muffins is currently at the Old Maple Hill, right?
[Not only at the Hill, but in the tent, Izzy having been suing him as a pillow when you came back.]
>>
>>5985491
oh, I thought that was like a pillow that had muffins as a pattern lol
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>>5985454
>More confident [+1 Courage, but ego also increases, and may have effects]
tbf this is better, even with some hidden drawbacks
>>5985458
>Let matters lie
so she was expecting it to take a long time. either because of Cossy's family or she was expecting us to get too "happy" with the whole marriage thing, and she doesn't care either way. I don't really like this, but since she's indifferent I don't see why we should ruffle her feathers.

>Purchase and pack some supplies [Some shirin and offerings to bring to the Ashurati.]

>You’d actually like to bring along some friends or allies [Zith-Zi,Efron and Carazzi]

>A carriage would give you all more time to take in the sights, enjoy one another’s company, and make a proper vacation of it… Plus it would be more comfortable for staying there
We're making this the "us" time for the trouple, so carriage it is
>>
>>5985454
>More confident [+1 Courage, but ego also increases, and may have effects]
yea boiiiii

>Let matters lie
It seems she understands? We'll pamper her on this trip just in case.

>Purchase and pack some supplies [like what?]
Shirin, and lots of it

>>You’d actually like to bring along some friends or allies [who?]
Just Carazzi

>Teleportation seems a sound idea—straight to the last place where you encountered the Ashurati, better to expedite your mission there
>>
>>5985454
>Like the same old ‘Tips’ as ever [No stat changes, remain humble]

>>5985458
>Address your delayed return and what happened
Got held up dealing with an old flame

>Purchase and pack some supplies [Shirin like we’re Breaking Bad]
>You’d actually like to bring along some friends or allies [Zith-Zi and Carazzi for some bonding time, ask Testa if she’d like to come as well]
Maybe we can help them bond.

>A carriage would give you all more time to take in the sights, enjoy one another’s company, and make a proper vacation of it… Plus it would be more comfortable for staying there
Road-trip!
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>>5985454
>Like the same old ‘Tips’ as ever [No stat changes, remain humble]
Overconfidence is a slow and insidious killer.
>>5985458
>Address your delayed return and what happened
Izzy sounded passive-aggressive. Don't be more autistic than her, anons.
>No, you’re ready
We can't bring Carazzi to meet the fey, she's a demon. And Zi will have to stay to babysit her.
>A carriage would give you all more time to take in the sights, enjoy one another’s company, and make a proper vacation of it… Plus it would be more comfortable for staying there
More time to talk and bond
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>>5985480
This is me>>5983616
>>5982927
>>
>>5985905
>>5985724
>>5985660
>>5985637
>>5985517
>>5985487
>>5985485
>>5985480
[Locked and writing!]
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>>5986218
I had to double check when I saw the condom vote and was looking who voted for it, until I saw the usual suspect. I'm surprised there wasn't also a vote for abortificents.
>>
>>5986226

You asked.

>>5982427
>>
File: level 3.png (361 KB, 1376x572)
361 KB
361 KB PNG
Rolled 11, 7, 2, 19, 14, 13 = 66 (6d20)

>>5986218
>>5986226
>>5986229

>>5986218
Maybe it’s the swell of confidence you’re still feeling from taking stock of your accomplishments, but you decide not to let this matter lie. You might not be quite the social butterfly that Costella Fanucci is, but you’re not quite so awkward as Izirina Henzler, and that means you clearly recognize exactly what she’s doing… Maybe even before SHE does, in fact.

“Izzy,” you say, “you’re being a little passive aggressive.”

Your tone is gentle, but Izirina still recoils as if slapped. Costella gasps softly, and raises her hands to her mouth. You bristle a little, realizing that in some ways the relationship dynamic between the three of you has become a little unhealthy... No, it’s ALWAYS been like this.

Well, maybe not always; when you were younger, you weren’t afraid to butt heads with Izzy—‘Henzler’, as you more often called her—and you were NEVER afraid to call her out. Sometimes you were even a little unfair about it, you realize with hindsight and in light of newer, fonder feelings. As you got to know about her history, her adoptive stepmother, and her chimeric ‘condition’, and as your envy turned to fascinating and then to love, that all shifted. You began to walk on eggshells around her, to keep things from her to spare her feelings or avoid confrontation. Well, no longer.

“I am not,” Izirina says stiffly. “I’m just focused on the trip which the two of you both promised me as a way of making up for—”

“For nothing, Izirina,” you say. “this trip isn’t to ‘make up’ for anything. It’s because we love you, and want to spend time together, with you, doing something we all enjoy.”

“So you don’t even think you’ve doing anything WRONG?” Izzy demands, voice low and cold.

(There it is.)

“Iz, we just—” Costella begins.

“We ended up in town later than expected,” you interrupt, shooting Costella an apologetic look but not yet willing to relinquish the reins of the conversation, or to cede to her more conciliatory instincts. “We stayed at an inn. We were attacked by Costella’s ‘other suitor, if you can call him that. It was a bit of a debacle, but we got it sorted out.”

Izzy’s eyebrow raise slightly at the mention of the attack, and you think you see a flicker of concern pass across her otherwise rigid features, but then she simply turns away again.

“Of course,” she says. “You have nothing to fear from any layperson, Tips. We both know that. I was never worried about you.”

“Not about our well-being, maybe,” you say.

Izirina reaches into one of her robe’s many hidden pockets, withdrawing her shaded glasses. She flips open the arms and raises them to her face.

“What else is there to worry about?” she asks coldly.
>>
>>5986233

“Izzy,” you say softly, and take a step towards her. “Come on.”

You take Costella’s other hand in yours, and approach her together. Izirina takes a wary step back before catching herself, briefly looking rather vulnerable, even frightened—an expression you don’t often see on her face these days.

“We’re in this together,” you say. “That’s what this trip is about. I understand you’re worried about Costella and I on some level—”

“Of course I’m not—!”

“—and that’s okay,” you say. “There will be times like that, but we’re GOING to get through this together. That’s what we all committed to, right? No matter what, there’s no ‘first wife’. We’re all partners in this… This ‘throuple’ thing, or whatever you want to call it.”

“But only one of us is going to… To get a wedding for sure, isn’t that right?” Izzy asks, voice breaking with such a subtle crack that you doubt anyone but you—or Costella—would notice.

“Oh!” Costella gasps. “No, Iz, you can totally—”

“NO,” Izzy snaps, then takes a sharp breath through her nose and wraps her arms around her midsection. “I can’t. You need to… Your situation takes priority. And when it comes to children, you’re… It’s simpler with you, too. Everything is always EASIER for you, Costella! And you, Ezreal… You can both just… Just DO things! GO places! There’s not all these complications, and all this history, and dead houses, and secret names, and ruined or cursed uteruses, and evil spirits, and… AND…!”

“…And?” Costella coaxes.

Izirina looks to you, as if uncertain if she should say more—should tell Costella about the dark prophecy which Nenaias uttered and the Nothic compounded… About why you’re taking a trip into the Wastes to retrieve second-choice ingredients for the Unseelie Star, why you’re delaying having children.

>19

“…I just want things to be easy,” she concludes. “Easy like they are for everyone else.”

Costella and yourself beckon Izzy in, and hesitatingly, awkwardly, she allows you to embrace her.

"Hey, hey, it's okay," Costella soothes her, taking off her head and stroking her hair. "Maybe, like... You and ME can get married? I bet that freaky Bloodrise kingdom has legal, uh, girl-girl weddings?"

Izirina laughs at that, and nods, though she's still sniffling a little.

“This trip will be good for all of us,” you decide.
>>
>>5986252
Unfortunately, it still isn’t the sort of trip the three of you can just take alone, or embark upon instantly. You’re confident, but not cocksure to the point of foolishness.

First, there are the material preparations: rations to carry with you when forage is scarce, should the journey go long. You secure these readily enough at the Hill, though the one thing you DON’T bring is ‘moonberries’. The <Goodberry> bushes which you have planted and tended so carefully have only just begun to flower, and while one has produced the beginnings of a single, small fruiting body, it’s far too soon to pluck it. Even if it weren’t, Muffins has taken an increasingly carnivorous approach to his meals as he's grown older, even the goat-head of your three-headed pet chewing fat and bones with gusto—if the berries can fill an individual up and restore their energies, it might still not meet all his needs.

After these practical concerns comes the matter of traveling-companions. Even if you and izirina—and Muffins and Veloz, who OBVIOUSLY are coming with you—are all fairly adept at self-defence, Costella isn’t, and neither you nor Izirina have the physical might to follow- up when your magical energies fail or falter… Or to wield reliably against the magic-resistant adversaries you might encounter. Furthermore, none of you speak Goblintongue—or, well, Izirina and yourself speak only a smattering, while Costella knows only a few choice profanities courtesy of Zith-Zi, so you have no means among the three of you to defuse a situation before it TURNS violent.

Luckily, you know a goblin. Or two. Or, well… Two SORT of goblins?

“I’m still a goblin where it counts, just ask Jimmy” Zith-Zi says defensively, and adds with a hint of pride: “Nie yik wane vie kien po det kat mei ahn!”

“So things are going well with you and Efron?” you ask, while trying to parse out the latter sentence in your head.

“…Well enough, I guess,” Zith-Zi says, after some thought and with a shrug, though she can’t hide the grin which spreads out as she adds: “Threw his folks for a loop when I told his folks what you told ME, about my grandpa being a human bigwig or whatever-the-fuck. Can’t say shit about me bein’ some wasteland rat anymore! And being able to stand my ground without STABBIN’ anyone, well, that’s kidna’ nice. Honestly I’ve been findin’ it a lot easier ta’ be, like, calm ‘n shit in general, ya’ know? Makes conversations with the ball-‘n-chain easier, too.”

“Yeah,” you sigh, “conversations with a significant other can be tricky, huh?”

“Girl troubles again?” Zith-Zi teases. “Well, more women, more hassle, amirite? Still, some nights it might be worth it for TWO Jimmies… Ha!”
>>
>>5986287
The raunchy commentary, coupled with the reminders about how she’s changed, all serve to remind you of Zith-Zi’s OTHER ‘other half’, whom you left in her care.

“And how’s Carazzi?” you ask. “How have you two been getting along?”

Zith-Zi grimaces a little, and your heart falls. Youd’ hope the ‘former goblin’ in front of you and the demonic entity which had emerged from her when you transformed her into her current state could strike a balance, and thus bring some stability to the green-skinned, appetite-addled demogoblin.

“Hey, hey, don’t get yer panties all bunched-up in those fancy new pants a’ yours!” Zith-Zi says, catching your crestfallen expression. “It’s—she’—doin’ fine, I guess. Takes well to combat training, anyhow. Prob’ly ‘cause she got to crib off all MY hard-won lessons when ‘we’ were growing’ up together, with her ridin’ along playin’ tapeworm or whatever.”

“I’m not sure it’s that simple,” you say.

“I SAAAIID ‘or whatever’, didn’t I? Sheesh, Tips, not everyone’s a magic-nerd like you.”

You roll your eyes. Yep, some things NEVER change.

“Anyway, it seems good for her. She likes it, too. Only… I think the real problem is that when she gets worked up, or her sparring partner does, or she gets roughed up a little, the dick-bitch throws a regular ol’ SHITFIT.”

“She gets angry?” you ask, a little surprised.

Zith-Zi laughs biiterly.

“ANGRY would be easier,” she says. “she gets PSYCHO, and HORNY. It’s a fuckin’ mess. had ta’ stop her killin’ your old man after practice just last week.”

“Rudlfo?” you ask worried. “is he okay?”

“Well he’s got the mother of all fuckin’ hickeys, I’ll tell ya’ that,” Zith-Zi says. “Stopped her guttin’ him or breakin’ his pelvis, though. Dirty old geezer didn’t even seem that bothered, ya’ ask me.”

You’re relieved (you think), but Zith-Zi looks troubled.

“An’ then she CRIED about it. Imagine that! I never woulda’ fuckin’ bawled like a baby, even when I was one. Bene thinking, with her skills—MY skills, but whatever, fine—and that, uh, ‘killer instinct’, maybe what she needs is some proper fieldwork.”

“Well,” you say, finally broaching the subject which you arranged this meeting for, “about that… I might have just the thing.”

“Ugh,” Zith-Zi groans. “You’ve got that look in your eye. Adventure time again, ey?”

“Something like hat,” you admit.

“Well, where to this time?” she asks.

“How do you feel about a bit of a homecoming?”

Zith-Zi downs her drink and listens.

>+1 Courage!
>+1 Ego…
>Zith-Zi and Carazzi join the party!
>>
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>>5986288
Before you leave the city , there’s one more matter to attend to. You intend to pay a visit to your old ‘connection’ on campus for some of the green-tinted, mind-expanding ‘shirin’ stimulant. You haven’t taken the substance in years, but aside from its rather invigorating effects and the potential for inducing intellectual epiphany, it was ALSO quite useful as a bargaining-chip in your negotiations with the goblinfolk last time you visited the Wastes. You have one packet tucked into your lunar attire back at your encampment, but it is old, and you’re honestly not sure if it’s ‘good’ anymore, or has become inert (or toxic?) with the years. It is at its source—a rather egregious establishment called ‘The Pretty Kitty’—you hope to secure more.

(Though he never seems to have much on him hat he hasn’t already taken, and it’s rather pricey with him playing ‘middle man’…)

In the end, you secure…
>A smaller amount, quickly but likely expensively, from the middling mage Harrison Murray
>A larger quantity, possibly for a better bargain straight from the source: ‘The Pretty Kitty’ brothel
>Write-in

[Corrected the shirin amount. Realized I was jumping the gun giving you a set amount when we could have a fun scene or two. Also stopped me from just going on FOREVER AND EVER without a vote. Pardon the slow writing, too.]
>>
>>5986288
>Zith-Zi laughs biiterly.
>“ANGRY would be easier,” [...] “she gets PSYCHO, and HORNY. [...] Had ta’ stop her killin’ your old man after practice just last week.”
>“Rudlfo?” you ask worried. “is he okay?”
>“Well he’s got the mother of all fuckin’ hickeys, I’ll tell ya’ that,” Zith-Zi says. “Stopped her guttin’ him or breakin’ his pelvis, though. Dirty old geezer didn’t even seem that bothered, ya’ ask me.”
Troubling, but thankfully it's our dad so he gets a hornyness buff to help in combat as well. Hopefully we can help her control it with our mission.
>>5986290
>A larger quantity, possibly for a better bargain straight from the source: ‘The Pretty Kitty’ brothel
if we're gonna pay a pricey amount anyway, might as well go to the source and use it as trading coin for the ashurati.
>>
>>5986290
>A larger quantity, possibly for a better bargain straight from the source: ‘The Pretty Kitty’ brothel
We need all the cards on our side.

>>5986288
>Rudolfo as Carazzi’s instructor / fuckbuddy
I suppose it is better than being imprisoned in the sylvan realms.

>Pardon the slow writing
I get it.

>>5986226
I might as well say this now. I am getting sick of your shit.

I don’t wake up thinking about abortion, have my breakfast with the remains of the unborn as flavoring on my toast while fantasizing about how to best sterilize pajeet or niggers. I don’t joke about that matter. Especially here of all places.

It is a heavy topic, but a necessary one, when the quest veers into it. I brought up the matter of abortion / sterilization / contraception only when

1) Carazzi demonstrating a willingness to rape and ability to breed
2) Meeting Costella’s family, where the matter of pregnancy came up

I asked RQM about the matter of contraception ( >>5979192 ) and because of this, I (and only I, it seems >>5982042) knew we need more reliable means of contraception other than “pulling out” or outercourse, which I suspect Costella and Tips will not follow when the three of you voted to stay at an inn with her - I’m not opposed to it, mind, only unprotected sex, as my vote ( >>5981887 ) can attest.

And I was proven correct - only through luck did Costella was not pregnant. A coinflip (25 - 75%, but still) we did not need to take. A coinflip I was so insistent on avoiding all this time.

( >>5982427 ) You even agreed with me once. What happened?

I want to see everyone happy. And one very important way is to not thrust the burden of pregnancy and childrearing onto an unready Tips and Costella, so that is why I do as I did.

Shut the fuck up - if you don’t have anything useful to say - and let me do my thing.

am >>5985485
>>
>>5986290
>A larger quantity, possibly for a better bargain straight from the source: ‘The Pretty Kitty’ brothel
>>
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>>5986328
>>5986338
>did Carazzi have sex with Ruldofo Van Houtzmann
[Just to clarify, no, she just jumped him during a 'post-training wrap-up', ended up making out with him, and drained some of his energy before Zith-Zi pulled her off and she seemed to feel remorseful.]

>contraceptives and abortifacents
[Izzy has some herbs and creams in her trunk.]
>>
>>5986338
>I might as well say this now. I am getting sick of your shit.
>I don’t wake up thinking about abortion, have my breakfast with the remains of the unborn as flavoring on my toast while fantasizing about how to best sterilize pajeet or niggers. I don’t joke about that matter. Especially here of all places.
Look, I just thought it's funny that you were the one bringing abortion from time to time so it seemed like a shtick. It wasn't my intention to make you seem like some edgelord, it's just funny it's something that got repeated a lot.

>You even agreed with me once. What happened?
continuing what I said, I don't have a problem with you talking about preventive methods, even a harsh one, and that situation was one where preventive methods were needed. Again, the repetition made it seem kinda like a shtick to me, specially since abortion was mentioned and you also suggested looking into surgery or magical alternatives to make tips and the girls infertile while we deal with stuff and possibly restoring it later on.
Might be my broken humor taking it to far, but I'm sorry if it seemed like I was making you look like some edgelord or else.
>>5986385
>[Just to clarify, no, she just jumped him during a 'post-training wrap-up', ended up making out with him, and drained some of his energy
alright, that's better. still nasty, but way better if it's just "uncalled" kissing.
>>
>>5986400
>the repetition made it seem kinda like a shtick to me
Three times. Twice during this thread and once when discussing Carazzi in the last one. I take no pleasure in mentioning it.

>specially since abortion was mentioned and you also suggested looking into surgery or magical alternatives to make tips and the girls infertile while we deal with stuff and possibly restoring it later on.
Because they are more efficient compared to other forms of contraception. By having both partners sterilized, you reduce the chance by quite a lot, compared to only using one form of contraception (condoms / herbs). That is why I want that option so much.

>Might be my broken humor taking it to far, but I'm sorry if it seemed like I was making you look like some edgelord or else.
I’ll willing to let the matter rest if you do the same. I don’t want to talk about pregnancy until that is relevant again.
>>
>>5986290
>A larger quantity, possibly for a better bargain straight from the source: ‘The Pretty Kitty’ brothel
It’s been years… it brings back memories. A shame, how it all went down.

>>5986385
So it wasn’t too bad and she knows it’s wrong- that’s fantastic. All we have to do is work on self-control now. Hell, maybe Izzy would enjoy mothering Carazzi- it might improve her mood :^)

>>5986338
>>5986400
>>5986456
Ahhh, this also brings me back! =P
>>
>>5986635
>>5986328
>>5986338
>>5986342
If you’re going to be spending the same amount of coin either way, you decide it would be better to get more product. Three are times when coin CAN’T buy access, after all, and at such times shirin—something with intrinsic value to anyone willing to partake—could provide useful… And potentially fun, if you’re being honest to yourself. Of course, that means delving into the seedier area of Hawksong; where your little misadventure at the inn with Costella had only touched upon, you now will be diving deep. You decide it best to bring Zith-Zi, if deference to this—if she can be your ‘muscle in the wastes, she can do so here as well—but that in turn means bringing Carazzi.

And in this part of town…

“Hoooo~,” Carazzi coos, the sound turning into a low whistle as her head twists this way and that to take in the ‘sights’ of the red lantern district. “You sure you that we can’t just take that vacation here?”

“I’m sure,” you say, in a tone that stifles any objection. “Carazzi, you need to learn to control yourself.”

“I’m workin’ on it!” the demogoblin protests. “Honest!”

You regard her critically. Even now, she looks a little thin, if not as emaciated as she was when you retrieved her (at great peril) from the Tower’s basement. That does at least indicate that she’s not been overindulging her ‘appetite’ for emotionally-charged spiritual energy, and also goes a long way towards explaining her lapses: she’s still ‘hungry’, no doubt. The source of the demonic ectoplasm which forms the cloned goblin’s ‘soul’ is apparently a succubus—a demon of desire. She only has so many ways to feed that Hellish hunger within: fear and lust principally.

“What happened with my father, then?” you ask.

“So, ah, ‘big sis’ told you about that, huh?”

“Ain’t your sister!” Zith-Zi snaps, from where she’s marching a few paces ahead, studiously making a show of ignoring the interaction—if not very convincingly.
“L-look, Tips, it was just a little snogging, you know?” she says evasively, avoiding your eyes and rubbing her arm. “We just got to sparring, and he was teachin’ me so many tricks, an’ I got distracted and he got a good slice in… An’ then he offered to clean the wound, and havin’ a big, sweaty, VIRILE guy with his hands all over me after all that, and with where his EYES kept driftin’… I could FEEL it, you know? He WANTED it, at least a little, an’ I was so worked up an’ I just… Gave him a little peck!”

“I hear Zith-Zi fund you straddling her and sucking on his throat like some sort of vampire,” you say, grimacing at the mental image it evokes.
>>
>>5986917
“Well he wasn’t COMPLAININ’ or nothin’!” Carazzi protests, throwing her hands up in the air, then pouts and looks down at her deformed, talon-hoof feet, twisting her ankle back and forth. “A-and I didn’t drawblood… Just a bit a’ juice, ya’ know?”

Your disgust deepens, as much with your father as anything else. You WISH you could say that was out of character.

“Not THAT kinda’ juice!”

“Only ‘cause I stepped in,” Zith-Zi shouts back.

“Well, that’s a relief,” you say, at least glad to not have to think about your horndog father being ‘ridden’ by a hermaphroditic hell-creature, and one you feel vaguely familial towards at that. “Still, this trip is to get you AWAY from those sorts of influences, and out where you can exercise your urges in a more… Appropriate fashion.”

“R-right, yeah, got it,” Carazzi says. “I’ll make ya’ proud!”

You smile a little at that, but the emotion is short-lived, because—

“Before THAT,” Zith-Zi chimes in, “we’re here, at the whorehouse.”

The three of you gaze up at the large, purple-and-pink marquee, displaying what looks to be a rather over-anthropomorphized catfolk female drinking a saucer of milk in a rather inefeficient manner, involving the pouring of it from above into her mouth, down her chin and.. Welll.

“…F-fuck, there’s a LOTTA’ juice circulatin’ in THERE,” Carazzi comments in a low whisper, lowering her gaze to the patrons entering and exiting the establishment-and, of course, the numerous scantily-clad human (and halfling) women vying for their attention or seeing them off with kisses, full coin purses clutched tight behind their backs.

“Down, boygirl,” Zith-Zi snarls, obviously embarrassed that a creature so resembling herself is openly drooling over the ‘selection’.

This is it: the so-called ‘Pretty Kitty Club’, where your old acquaintance Harrison Murray’s feline shirin-supplier can allegedly be found.

You decide…
>Carazzi should stay outside
>Zith-Zi and Zarazzi should come along
>To go in alone, and leave Zith-Zi to supervise Carazzi

You also reflect that shirin, being an untaxed import brought in surreptitiously by beastfolk, isn't 'illegal' per se, but it's not exactly being imported and sold 'over-the-counter'. Furthermore, you've never been to a place like this, and you feel a little out-of-place, but you recognize a moneytrap when you see one: these might be 'wholesalers' with more supply and better bargains available to them, but they're likely to try to take you for all you're worth... And they have the brutish human (and dwarven) muscle around to make it an issue.

How will you approach this?
>Brazenly and gregariously, with your newfound confidence on full display
>Get in, get out, don't be spotted or recognized, don't make a scene
>Slyly and smoothly, and with an eye for angles
>Write-in
>>
>>5986920
>Zith-Zi and Carazzi should come along
Stay as a group - less likely to be picked off that way
>Get in, get out, don't be spotted or recognized, don't make a scene
Why the fuck would we snitch on ourselves. Hell no. As for looking at the prostitutes, whatever, we already have sex on the regular.
>>
>>5986920
>“A-and I didn’t drawblood… Just a bit a’ juice, ya’ know?”
>Your disgust deepens, as much with your father as anything else. You WISH you could say that was out of character.
>“Not THAT kinda’ juice!”
is she talking about sweat here or the energy she absorbs from emotions ?

>Zith-Zi and Zarazzi should come along

>Get in, get out, don't be spotted or recognized, don't make a scene
"I go inside, grab my shirin and return quietly."
>>
>>5986964
>is she talking about sweat here or the energy she absorbs from emotions ?
[The latter, though I suppose there's probably a paraphilic correlation for her.]
>>
>>5986920
>Zith-Zi and Zarazzi should come along
We need ZZ, and Car can't be unsupervised

>Slyly and smoothly, and with an eye for angles
>>
>>5986920
>Slyly and smoothly, and with an eye for angles

As the saying goes,
"Fuck it we bawl"
>>
>>5987074
what about the other votes my dude ?
>>
>>5987087
>To go in alone, and leave Zith-Zi to supervise Carazzi
>>
>>5986920
>Zith-Zi and Carazzi should come along
This is gonna be a good test in restraint for Carazzi, and make sure she knows it.
>Slyly and smoothly, and with an eye for angles
or
>Slyly and smoothly, and with an eye for angles
I wanna see who’s still around- wonder if Mina is still running the joint. I wonder if Edwin even remembers us ;_;
>>
>>5986920
Meant for >>5987178 to be
How will you approach this?
>Brazenly and gregariously, with your newfound confidence on full display
or
>Slyly and smoothly, and with an eye for angles
cause I wanna see our galpals again whoever remains, at least ;_;
>>
>>5986920
>>To go in alone, and leave Zith-Zi to supervise Carazzi

>Brazenly and gregariously, with your newfound confidence on full display
>>
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>>5987536
>>5987180
>>5987178
>>5987120
>>5987074
>>5986972
>>5986964
>>5986934
[Writing!]
>>
>>5987570

“Come on, “you say after only a moment’s delay. “Both of you.”

“OH??”

Zith-Zi grimaces at Carazzi’s overenthusiastic exclamation, and then looks skeptically to you.

“Well we can’t leave her alone, and if we’re going to make the most of this opportunity and avoid DIFFICULTIES, I’ll need someone, ah…”

“Seedy? Crooked? Kinda’ low?” Zith-Zi presses, eyes narrowing.

“Well, I don’t mean to—”

Zi snorts, and gives your ass a slap that makes you blush as she brushes past you.

“Just yanking your chain, Tips. You’re greener than that fuckin’ powder a’ yours. ‘Course you need someone seasoned. You’re not exactly the ‘smooth criminal’ type.”

“Wouldn’t be my first time talking my way out of trouble,” you counter, rubbing your stinging rear.

(Or your first time talking your way INTO it, admittedly. It IS good to have her along.)

Speaking of trouble, as you lead Carazzi into the den of sin and iniquity, you can’t help but notice a thin sheen across Carazzi’s bumpy, toad-like green skin, reflecting the pink light of cat-themed lanterns. Her breathing is heavy, sizeable chest heaving and eyes wildly darting hither and tither.

“This is a test in restraint,” you caution the demigoblin.

“What, like ropes an’ chains an’ shit? ‘Cause that sounds—”

You snap your fingers a few times, and meet Carazzi’s guilty expression with a stern one of your own.

“Control,” you say. “Focus.”

“R-right, yeah, I get it…” Carazzis mumbles, casting her gaze down at the floor and balling her talon-like hands at her side, as if to resist the urge to grab handfuls of the goods on display.

Within The Pretty Kitty are myriad examples of feminine beauty—albeit often caked in make-up and aided by the lighting, and sometimes with an unmistakable weariness in their eyes and falsity to their smiles. As you enter, some of the male employees—that is to say, the muscle—note your presence with nudges to one another and nods of heir chin. You at least had the good sense to remove your hat before coming here, but it’s tough not to draw attention with your companions, Carazzi especially—women-of-the-night and their patrons gaze down from the balcony above into the foyer-like entrance, or whisper to one another. By the time you’ve reached the lone desk which you assume to be the check-in location for clientele, the woman minding it is ready for you.

“Well hi there, handsome~” she greets, with a practiced huskiness to her voice. “I’m Felia. What can I do you for? Or rather… What are you here to DO?”

This Felia woman is at least fifty, you’d wager, with crow’s feet and streaks of grey through her hair, and her corset and bustier are doing a great deal of ‘heavy lifting’ for her bosom. The notion of her as a ‘working girl’ strikes you as faintly sad, though you suppose perhaps she manages the establishment.
>>
>>5987638
“We’re not here for business ,” you say simply, and then lean in. “Well, not the usual sort.”

“Oh?” she asks, leaning on her elbows and looking the three of you over, while her breasts squish to the podium before her such that you fear they’ll pop out of her top. “Freelancers? You’re real cute, kid, but we don’t do ‘man’s man’ stuff. Or…”

She gestures to Carazzi.

“Goblins have a bit of a rep, after all. Not exactly, ah, known for cleanly habits in this line of work.”

“I’m not really a—”

Zith-Zi reaches out and claps a hand over the mouth of her ‘evil twin’ before she can spill her proverbial guts. In the process, she catches Felia’s attention.

“Now YOU, precious, YOU have potential,” she purrs, sashaying around the podium and circling the wary ex-goblin. “Tres exotique, which is a little outside our ‘usual these days—new management, you understand, and the ‘market’ for demihumans dried up a little anyway. But YOU… You look BUILT for—”

“—for knocking in your teeth if you call my ‘precious’ again.”

You stare bug-eyes at Zith-Zi, who shrugs as if to say ‘what, what ELSE do you say to someone accusing you of being a prostitute?’ You begin to question whether she might not be the ‘smooth’s ort of criminal herself—she WAS a wasteland bandit, more famous for extortion by the sword and drinking male goblins under the table than for subtlety or guile.

Luckily, once she recovers from the verbal slap, Felia merely laughs. The smile doesn’t quite reach her eyes, but she says: “Well, if you ever change your mind, a lot of men like someone little and feisty. ‘Tamable, not tamed’. We could make a whole gimmick out of THAT…”

Carazzi whines needily beneath the hand-muzzle, but calms herself when Zith-Zi kicks her in the shin and shoots her a deadly glare.

You interject, keeping your cool and explaining: “We’re not here for that—not buying, and not selling.”

“Just a night on the town, then?” Felia asks, switching her attention to you and quickly reprising the demeanour of an eager and attentive merchant. “Our kitchen has been recertified by the city, and our selection of ales, wines, and spirits has expanded thanks to some partnerships with—”

“We had some, ah, OTHER refreshments in mind.”
>>
>>5987639
Felia’s smile remains, but her expression hardens, eyes sharpen.

“We-ell… I’m sure I don’t know what you mean, constable.”

“I’m not with the guard,” you say lowly. “I’m here because I know Harrison.”

Who?” Felia asks, and you assess her confusion as genuine.

“…The password is ‘Kamunu’.”

Immediately, the brothel-manager’s expression shifts through a few expressions, and then she sighs and rubs her temples.

“We have got to change that password one of these days,” she sighs, then squints. “Wait, didn’t we?”

“But it is -A- password, right?” Zith-Zi interjects. “One my knife-eared pal here wouldn’t know if weren’t in the know?”

“Hey,” you say, touching your pointed ear.

Felia looks thoughtful, then nods, and signals one of the bouncers—a dwarf—to guide the three of you not to the rooms upstairs, nor to the darkened and smoky room below, but to an adjoining wing of the old building. There, you find yourself face with the first actual catman you’ve seen since arriving—a feline-faced, fully-furred biped, a true beastman, holding court cross-legged upon a gaily-patterned, thickly-padded rug. He’s not alone, either: besides the bouncer blocking you from the back, a couple of burly-looking Easterlings—human ones, EastMEN—are there also, with thin moustache, shaved heads, and passing an ornate pipe between them as they gaze imapssievly upon you with their almond eyes.

“So you know Harrison Murray?” the catman asks, his voice lilting with an unfamiliar accent, and rumbling with a tiger-like reverb. “How?”

“School,” you say simply, “and a shared enthusiasm for your… product.”

“Mage,” he says, yawning expansively and scrunching up his face in what you take for distaste, but which could just as easily be some unfamiliar inhuman expression. “Where’s your hat?”

“I’m not here for the Tower,” you say meaningfully.

“Why are you here, then, half-elf?” he asks. “You talk like you read a lot. Carry yourself like you can sneak, though. And these two things with you—”

“These ‘things’ have ears,” Zith-Zi snarls. “And a sabre, if it comes to it.”

Both of the Eastmen shift their stances, showing off sheathed, curved swords of their own—each easily the height of Carazzi.

“Mine are bigger,” the catman purrs. “But Felia knew my father, and my aunt, and she tells me you are now with the guards, or the Queen’s other dogs. I believe Felia, who was so trusted by my ancestors, and serves Aunt Mina beyond the veil of Death’s Domain. So it is that I, Udarji, welcome you to my humble bazaar.”
>>
>>5987641
“…Thank you,” you say after a moment, and sit as he gesture you to do. The goblin-girls behind you both do likewise, though Carazzis seems to be struggling with the effort to cross her legs in the meditative style in which Udarji is sitting, and which you mimic. Zith-Zi doesn’t even try, simply popping a squat and keeping her hand on her blade’s sheathe.

“Shoulda’ brought Hershy,” she mutters.

“I understand from your words, your posture, and your eyes that you are not like Harrison Murray, half-elf sir,” Udarji says. “I will pour us tea, and you will tell me why you are here.”

And so he does, and so you do.

“Shirin, yes… The ‘spice of life’, it is called where I call home,” Udarji sighs happily. “You know its pleasures, yes?”

“Yes,” you admit.

“And it’s potentialities?” the catman asks.

“Yes,” you agree.

“And dangers?”

You hesitate.

“Do not be coy,” Udarji insists. “Which have you had? What do you seek? The white? The blue? The pink? The green?”

“There are… Different sorts?” you ask.

Udarji goes on to freely explain that, yes, there are. The white shirin is its pure form, a mix of two plants from the east, a root and a leaf. It is a pure stimulant, only minorly hallucinogenic fi at all, but potent for keeping warriors alert and awake.

“What we sell here is often… Adulterated, stretched-put, with local herbs.” Udarji sticks out is tongue in evident displeasure, and his tail repeatedly thumps the carpet beside him. “But not so much as the others.”

The green, with which you are familiar, contains a hallucinogenic compound of some potency.

“To expand perceptions,” the catman says, “or confuse the. It links one to Dreamland, to the realm of Unconsciousness. One must navigate carefully, or be led astray.”

“And the others?” you ask.

“The blue is… Sedative. It encourages a sleep, a dreamless one. Even in waking, it calms the passions even as it keeps one awake. It dulls one… But dullness, subdual, this can be a useful thing in some liens of work. The guards here are fond of it—it dims the bright lances of pain, helps to focus upon simple, boring tasks.”

“What’s the pink shit do, then?” Zith-Zi asks.

Udarji holds up a hand, then flicks up a finger.

“Makes a man rigid. Makes a woman moist. Melds a mind, renders one… Pliable. Suggestible. Not only sexually. But yes, also sexually… It is a favourite here, of course.”

He looks again to you, expression unreadable, green eyes unblinking.

“What do you seek?”
>>
>>5987642
What are you going to buy?

>White shirin
>Blue shrin
>Green shirin
>Pink shirin
>A mix [which ones]

And how much?

>You desire enough for personal use
>You desire enough for you and your party—and maybe a few others—to indulge, to smooth negotiations
>You seek a bulk quantity to trade in your travels—perhaps you can get a deal? Though he may expect to be looped in somehow…
>You wish to set up a steady supply moving forwards, to Old Maple Hill
>Write-in
>>
>>5987644
>Green shirin
>You desire enough for you and your party—and maybe a few others—to indulge, to smooth negotiations
advanced drug dealing
rip mina
>>
>>5987644
>A mix [3/4 green, 1/4 blue]
I wanna try some of the other ones.

>You desire enough for you and your party—and maybe a few others—to indulge, to smooth negotiations
For now just that, but the possibility of making deals for the Hill will be kept in mind.
>>
>>5987661
>rip mina
who was she again ? I forgo
>>
>>5987644
>A mix [White, Green.]

White shrin sounds like a good combat drug.

>You seek a bulk quantity to trade in your travels—perhaps you can get a deal? Though he may expect to be looped in somehow…
>>
>>5987683
She was a cat lady brothel owner. Seems like she died of old age and the place has come under new management.
>>
>>5987644
>A mix [which ones]
White + Green
(Half each)
>You desire enough for you and your party—and maybe a few others—to indulge, to smooth negotiations

>>5987682
I don’t like the idea of the old maple hill involved - we don’t really need the money, and we already have a legitimate business there anyways. That’s unnecessary risk.

Am >>5986934
>>
>>5987719
like I said, it's food for thought. I don't wanna make it a den of addicts, of course.
>>
>>5987731
I was thinking more of old maple hill as a forward operating base rather than selling it there. Distribute it to the hill, the agents in that hill go sell it somewhere, that sort of thing. It could work, but I’m not so sure if even thats worth the risk.
>>
>>5987644
>Mix :
>Green
>You desire enough for you and your party—and maybe a few others—to indulge, to smooth negotiations

>Pink
>You desire enough to have a hell of a night with the two girls of your life.
>>
Why are you anons so obsessed with drugs? I've noticed it before too.
>>
>>5987956
Shirin has observable results, its literally magic not just make you high woowoo bullshit magic, with analysis its actually a useful divination tool but for goblins as they are antimagic they use it to trip balls
>>
>>5987644
>>5987644
>A mix [All]

>You seek a bulk quantity to trade in your travels—perhaps you can get a deal? Though he may expect to be looped in somehow…
>You wish to set up a steady supply moving forwards, to Old Maple Hill
WOODSTOCK BABY!

Mina… ;_;

>>5987956
It’s not really the drugs for me, but the callback to the OG.
>>
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>>5987988
>>5987904
>>5987719
>>5987699
>>5987682
>>5987661
The green shirin is, of course, what you are here for. That it offers a tangible connection to the dimension of dreaming makes a lot of sense, given the epiphany it once granted you. ‘The Dreamlands’, this term is unfamiliar to you, but know it by others: ‘the Mindscape’ in older documents, or ‘The Collective Unconscious’, as more modern arcane and alchemical texts refer to it. Beings with a mind to speak of brush up against it in their sleep. More advanced mages can go wandering there, though they risk demons escaped from The Hellish Realms, and the Unseelie Fey, and still other dangers. Many who learn to send their spirit away and plumb the depths of that dimension never return, their bodies becoming catatonic, vegetative. But there are other avenues to glean knowledge from that space, too: on the moon, you heard of an ‘Akashic Record’ kept there, accessible tot hose properly attuned; stories told in documents old attest to the ability to pull revelation from the void of sleep through lucid dreaming; it is even said to be the medium through which prophecy is predicted, and such information flows!

“The green,” you say quickly, and then clear your throat. “And the white.”

White shirin is a straight stimulant, a drug for wakefulness and energy. Goblins are not a cerebral race, by and large—that’s what people say, but it’s also your impression of the breed, present company included. You care for Zith-Zi and even for her demoniac, intersex shadow-self, and they have their clever moments, but you wouldn’t characterize either of them as the sort of go searching the so-called Dreamlands for esoteric information. Rather, what they might desire most—or Zi’s fellow wasteland bandits—is a means to march longer, travel further and fight harder. White shirin could likely do that… For them, or for you and your friends, in a pinch.

“And how much?” Udarji asks, leaning forwards, the rumble in his voice deepening and eyes flashing. “You have brought coin, yes?”

“Down boy,” Zith-Zi growls, playing your body-guard. “You ain’t his kinda’ pussy.”

To you, she says: “Tips, don’t take that shit out here. Price’ll be whatever you got on you, as soon as they know what that is.”
“You wound me, little halfling,” Udarji says, not sounding particularly wounded.

“Ain’t a halfling,” Zi grunts, sounding more aggrieved.

“I only need enough for me and these two, and perhaps two or three others, to experience the effects,” you say, doing some quick calculations. “Four pouches of each? The little paper pouches, such as you provided Murray.”
>>
>>5988051

Udarji scratches at his fluffy cheek for a moment, squinting his eyes and looking thoughtful. He opens his mouth, and names his price, and it’s better than what Murray would have charged, but just barely. It would use up two-thirds your coin currently on-hand. Your stipend from the Tower is steady, but not overly generous in the absence of research grants, which you haven’t exactly been chasing.

Do you haggle?
>Yes [Courage roll, boosted by your allies’ presence; failure could led to being denied, charged more, or accosted]
>No [Lose your gold, gain eight pouches of shirin, green and white]
>>
>>5988052
>Yes [Courage roll, boosted by your allies’ presence; failure could led to being denied, charged more, or accosted]
>>
>>5988052
>Yes [Courage roll, boosted by your allies’ presence; failure could led to being denied, charged more, or accosted]
>>
>>5988052
>Yes [Courage roll, boosted by your allies’ presence; failure could led to being denied, charged more, or accosted]

Gamba
>>
>>5988132

am >>5987719
>>
>>5987956
I need to be able to relate to the protagonist

>>5988052
>No [Lose your gold, gain eight pouches of shirin, green and white]
>>
>>5988052
>No [Lose your gold, gain eight pouches of shirin, green and white]
>>
>>5988052
>Yes [Courage roll, boosted by your allies’ presence; failure could led to being denied, charged more, or accosted]

We did up our courage recently, also
>and it’s better than what Murray would have charged, but just barely.

It seems like we are getting partially riped off, usually reseller's charge significantly more than their source. If the udarji can only beat murray's price by a hair then he must be up charging us.
>>
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>>5988456
>>5988411
>>5988359
>>5988132
>>5988125
>>5988054
[Locked and writing!]
>>
Rolled 12, 13, 14, 16 = 55 (4d20)

>>5988533
“…This isn’t much better than what Murray was offering.”

Udarji doesn’t react right away, apart from a single flit of his tail, then says:

“His business is not my business. He must not be making any coin, to do such a thing.”

“That’s one explanation,” you say.

“The other’s that you’re rippin’ us off, čalkun,” says Zith-Zi.

You don’t recognize the last word, but by the way Udarji’s ears swivel backward and fold, you gather it’s not the politest form of address. You frown at Zith-Zi, but then turn back to him and add:

“She isn’t wrong, Mister Udarji. I’m buying in quantity, compared to Murray. You know this, and I know this… And I also know that to be making a profit, you must be charging small-time purchasers like him, who buy a couple baggies at a time, much more than cost.”

“You accurse me of being ungenerous with him?” Udarji asks pointedly. “And with you?”

“I accuse you only of good business, but I’m putting to you that it would be BETTER business if you didn’t overcharge you.”

“My prices ae fair,” Udarji insists.

“Uh, Tips? Other-ZZ?”

“Only ZZ,” Zith-Zi snaps at Carazzi, speaking up for the first time in this meeting. “What?”


The demogoblin gestures at the two guards besides Udarji, who haven’t moved or changed expressions, but who have tamped the pipe to stop the smoke, and are watching you with eerie stillness.

“Those guys are getting mad,” she says. “The ca’s getting even angrier.”

“I am not ‘catman’ or ‘čalkun’,” Udarji hisses. “I am TABAXI, and I am Udarji al-Rwzit, and I will not be insulted in my own den!”

“I mean no insult,” you say, swallowing your fear and meeting those green, slit-pupiled eyes just as you might have met those of the Dragon King, or Izirina Henzler before him. “I am just asking for a fair deal.”

[Rolling; DC 13]
>>
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>>5988543
The tension in the room is thick, thicker than the smoke around you or the carpet beneath you—somehow more tangible than anything else. The thing is: there is tension, but not fear. You’re not ARROGANT—you don’t’ think of this feline fellow as BENEATH you—but you’re also simply not afraid of him. You can transform into a more fearsome feline than he on a whim. You have been in too many tense negotiations, for higher stakes, with more powerful and dangerous opponents on the opposite side. This ‘tabaxi’ cannot command a dire werewolf or a treant. He is not a Dragon King or Ranger Commander. He cannot transfix you with his gaze or trap you on a distant satellite, far from Earth.

>16

“…You are strong, half-elf.”

“I am, sir,” you agree. “Stronger than anyone else in this room.”

“Hey now,” Zith-Zi says. “let’s not get carried away, ya’ little—”

“I’m bigger than you,” you interrupt her.

Zith-Zi pouts a little, and a moment later, Udarji laughs and slaps he knees.

“Fine, fine, you may have your victory,” he says, “and your shirin. But I will have my coin. AT least, I will have some.”

“Yes,” you agree, and put forth your offer.

When you leave, your coinpurse is lighter, but not so light as it might have been. Rather than parting with ALL your coin—or nearly all of it—you spend half of it, keeping a respectable amount for more traditional purchases wherever silver and copper are accepted—and even a single gold coin.

>+4 White Shrin, +4 Green Shirin
>-Some wealth

“You know,” Zith-Zi muses aloud, hands on hips and a thoughtful expression on her face, “you’ve changed, you know that?”

“Have I?” you ask, then smile. “You know, actually, yes. I do know that. I have.”

“It’s a good look on ya’,” she says.

“Oh. Uh, thank you,” you say, still a little flustered by such an earnest complement from the lieks fo Zith-Zi.

“Kinda’ sexy,” Carazzi adds, 'innocently'.

Both you and Zith-Zi give you a look, and then Zith-Zi looks to you, stabbing a finger at her doppelganger.

“That one’s NOT from me, got it?” she says. “that thought? NOT mine.”

You remember what Carazzi once shared with you—that Zith-Zi had once harbour an affection more than friendly for you, and simply smirk.

“Come on,” you say. “We have what we came for, and our carriage awaits.”

“Hopefully not LITERALLY, huh?” Carazzi says. “It’s gonna’ be a bit of a walk…”

One of the downsides of bringing a magic-resistant entity is the lack of teleportation to take you home. That means no instant transport to the Hill, but then again, the carriage isn’t waiting quite THAT far out.
>>
>>5988580
It still takes you the better part of the evening to reach the area near Hawksong’s main gate where Izzy and Costella await. Costella leans out of the carriage and waves cheerfully to you, a lantern held in her other hand to illuminate her position and aid her less-well-adapted eyes in spotting you; neither you nor the ‘sisters’ required light to see, and traveled in darkness.

“I hope you weren’t waiting too long?”

“We just got here, actually,” Costello says brightly. “Iz had us, like, wait until you were on your way.”

(Divination, right. So she was keeping an eye on you when you went into… OH!)

“Uh, well, we had to run a-an errand,” you stammer, peering past Costella to where Izirina—wearing her shaded glasses even at night, regards you neutrally. “It was, that is to say—”

Your cheeks heat. Your confidence cracks.

“Did you get what you needed?” Izzy asks.

You nod.

“Good,” she says, and smiles ever so slightly. “I trusted you would.”

You parse the double meaning, and breathe a sigh of relief.

“Besides, you take longer than that,” she adds thoughtfully.

Costella, confused, scrunches your forehead and looks between the two of you, and asks: “What do you mean by—”

“ANYWAY,” you say, ignoring Zith-Zi’s sniggering. “Time to go. I’m exhausted, but I can sleep on the road.”

And so you roll out. The carriage-driver whom Izirina has evidently hired is a half-orc, and with low-light vision of his own—and queer, gaunt horses with great, wide white eyes to pull the cart—raveling by night is no issue.

“Daytime will be trickier,” Izirina admits, “but we’ll all be alert and awake during the day. Less chance of ambush this way.”

“How did you afford it?” you ask, having so eaisly depleted your own stipend.

Izirina looks at you strangely, and says: “I turned in my research. You know they pay us more for that, right?”
>>
>>5988582
You frown a little, knowing that any research which Izzy is turning in is—necessarily—magical and alchemical knowledge accessible to the Archmage—her adoptive mother, your master, and a rather unsettling and upsetting figure. You have MISGIVINGS about Theresa Henzler… About her methods, her intentions, and the way she treats people. You reflect on how she spoke even of Izirina herself, the last time you and she were alone: as a bargaining chip, a means to control you, as well as a source of power and knowledge, but not at all as you would expect one to speak their child. You remember the way she starved Carazzi of affection and attention to the point of becoming truly ravenous.

You and Izirina have never spoken of your lingering ill-will towards her adoptive mother, nor the shift in their relationship after the ritual which transformed you, Izzy, and Costella. Before it, Izirina would be reprimanded for calling her ‘Mother’; since then, she has done so freely, and proudly. A part of you wonders what the price was, for that familiarity…

Do you broach the subject during your travels? If so, how?
>Write-in

Do you have any other subjects to discuss with the others?
>Write-in if so

What is your first destination on this journey?
>You will return to where you last encountered the Ashurati—the rocky, mountainous region amidst sand and steppe, where one of their sacred spaces is maintained and their fey ancestors commune
>You will seek out the eponymous goblins of the waste, and have Zith-Zi and Carazzi speak with them—or negotiate with shirin or coin—to have them gudie you to where they have seen the Ashurati
>You will travel to a trading output of more civilized Wastelanders—for such waystations DO exist—and gather information while you shop and explore, in a more relaxed fashion
>you will find a space which feels right, intuitively, and take some green shirin to trigger a vision, which you can hopefully sue to navigate
>Write-in
>>
>>5988582
>(Divination, right. So she was keeping an eye on you when you went into… OH!)
so not only she knew what we did, she could watch it. zam. upfront anons were right on this one. now, did izzy have a guilty goon shesh ? we may never know
>>5988584
>Speaking of the tower, how has been your relantion with the archmage during the time I was away ?

>Ask Cazzy what she's feeling about the travel

>You will seek out the eponymous goblins of the waste, and have Zith-Zi and Carazzi speak with them—or negotiate with shirin or coin—to have them gudie you to where they have seen the Ashurati
>>
>>5988584
>Do you broach the subject during your travels? If so, how?
Yeah I'd turn in my research too, if your mom wasn't a huge bitch

>You will return to where you last encountered the Ashurati—the rocky, mountainous region amidst sand and steppe, where one of their sacred spaces is maintained and their fey ancestors commune
>>
>>5988584

>“Before it, Izirina would be reprimanded for calling her ‘Mother’
>A part of you wonders what the price was, for that familiarity…”
Eh. Studying under the Nothic probably got results. That’s what the archmage cares a lot about.

>ask about (>>5988582) what research she has turned in, the information she has given

>Tell ZithZi about the doings of yesterday. Ask ZithZi about Carlos attacking us - what should our response be
She knows more about shady things than we do.

>You will return to where you last encountered the Ashurati—the rocky, mountainous region amidst sand and steppe, where one of their sacred spaces is maintained and their fey ancestors commune

am>>5988132
>>
>>5988991
>Eh. Studying under the Nothic probably got results. That’s what the archmage cares a lot about.
I think even her would be wary of the nothic, considering her experience with dark beings.
>>
>>5988991
Supporting this
>>
>>5988584
>>You will return to where you last encountered the Ashurati—the rocky, mountainous region amidst sand and steppe, where one of their sacred spaces is maintained and their fey ancestors commune
>>
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>>5989047
>>5989044
>>5988991
>>5988918
>>5988828
[Writing!]
>>
>>5989217
The matter of Izzy and the Archmage troubles you as you sleep that night, nagging at you to such an extent that, were it not for your elven physiology and attunement to the sun-moon cycle, you’re not sure you’d have slept at all. Sleep you do, though, and you awake with your head in Costella’s plush lap, with her fingers in your hair. You blink blearily in those first few disorienting moments of wakefulness, and see…

“You’re wearing my hat.”

Carazzi is, indeed, wearing your hat. It’s tilted back and somewhat askew to accommodate her horns, but her smaller head helps to facilitate this. She looks somewhat guilty, giggling and removing it right away to offer it back.

“Sorry, Tip. Just a, you know… Like a whim?”

You look down at the hat, and up at the strange, dark-green creature holding it. She blinks back at you, and then fidgets as she tries and fails to suppress a wide smile, looking away and fidgeting. It was a cute sight, undoubtably; you had thought it, and she had evidently picked up on the thought with her empathic sense.

“You can hold onto it for a bit longer,” you say, and the demogoblin immediately dons it again before you even finish the sentence.

“Uuuugh,” Zith-Zi groans, leaning against the window. “Too fuckin’ twee. Wouldn’t catch me wearin’ one of those dorky hats.”

You look at the ‘nilbog’—to use Testa’s term for the transformed goblin—and at her attire: leather armour resembling a corset and spiked brassiere, with a single oversized pauldron upon which Hershy—the golden-feathered chimeric drake which has long been Zith-Zi’s companion is seated, while accepting dried crickets from Izirina. You don’t consider this LESS eccentric than your hat, which is of course a part of the rich and storied history of a centuries-old magical tradition predating even HAWKSONG… But you’re self-assured enough to not feel the need to argue the point. Instead, you ask Carazzi:

“How are you feeling about the travel?”

“It’s weird,” she muses, looking out the window to the other side as she speaks. “I sorta’ recognize the place… Like, it FEELS like I should remember. The details are all fuzzy, but sometimes we see a landmark—like that big rock there, see it?—and I, like… Remember other goblins and me, and drinking, and other stuff.”

“That’s ‘cause this is MY old stompin’ grounds,” Zith-Zi interjects. “Those are MY memories you’re rememberin’!”

Carazzi frowns, staring out the window with greater intensity, but says nothing. Her expression is thoughtful, troubled.

Do you offer her any advice and comfort?
>She should think of those as her memories, too—she and ZIth-Zi were one and the same back then, and she has a right to them
>She should let those memories go, and create new ones—forge a new identity, a true self not reliant upon the shadows of her past ‘self’ as a spiritual parasite
>Let her puzzle it out herself
>Write-in
>>
>>5989274
As for Zith-Zi, when you next make camp near that same rock outcropping—and it’s a rather strange phenomenon, making camp in the middle of the day, just as you’re waking up, rather than to sleep!—you take a moment after you’ve eaten with the others and discussed your plans, and have a little aside with her. It’s not about Carazzi, though, or her old memories of the Wastes, but about something else…

“So this De Gori asshole tried ta’ jump ya for jumpin’ Costa’s bones, huh?” Zith-Zi summarizes what you’ve shared. “Want me ‘n the boys ta’ fuck him up?”

“Who are ‘the boys’?” yu ask, confused.

“You know, THE BOYS. Me, Efron, Pearce… Maybe Carazzi, I GUESS… The Boys!”

“Do you think that’s wise?” you ask. “I don’t want to escalate the situation. I just… I’m not sued to situations this, well, SHADY.”

“Which is why you asked me, huh?” Zith-Zi teases, poking you in the stomach and side with a series of little jabs to make you flinch and fidget. “What, you can negotiate a drug-buy in a seedy whorehouse with some black-market Orientals, but ya’ aren’t sure how ta’ handle a love-triangle?”

“I just wanted to get your advice!” you protest, squirming away.

“Aren’t you always talkin’ shit about how you’re OLDER than me? More EXPERIENCED?”

“Zi, if you’re not going to help, and are just going to make fun of me…”

“I didn’t say THAT,’ Zith-Zi says. “Look, you asked if retaliating is wise. And you said HE said—Carlos, that is—that he said some shit about you ;brainwashing’ Costella. Maybe she might know what that’s all about, or her folks? Seems like there’s more to this. But the MAIN thing there is to this, is this Carlos De Gori shithead still thinks he’s got a shot. You have ta’ make it clear to him he doesn’t, ‘cause he obviously ahs fuck-all going on in his life and is gonna’ follow-up on this. That’s my instinct.”

“And how do I do THAT?” you ask.

“Could get hitched,” she suggests. “If you two are married, he’ll know it’s too late ta’ shoot his shot.”

Your gaze flits to Izzy and Costella, currently talking while gigglingly playing with Hershy—or Hirschel, as Izirina calls him. Zith-Zi follows your eyes but, with surprising tact for her, doesn’t make a smarmy comment about it.

“If you can’t do that,” she says instead, “you gotta’ send him a message. That might be ‘fuck off or my boys will break your kneecaps’ or ‘here’s some evidence me and Costa are for real, this isn’t some khoblis magic scam ornothin’… now fuck off or my boys will break your kneecaps’.”

You frown, but nod, and consider the nilbog woman’s words.
>>
>>5989275
You and the others commence traveling again as the sun begins to set. It’s a really unusual rhythm, and it takes some getting used to even for you. As you settle in to sleep, you find Costella has already drifted off, swaddled in a blanket against the surprising nighttime chill in the Goblin Wastes, more evident this visit than during your last, though the days are nearly as hot. Zith-Zi and carazzi are both fast asleep as well, utterly unbothered by the bumping and rattling of the cart. You smile at their peacefully-sleeping faces for a moment. When you look up, you see Izirina doing much the same with YOU, though her own expression is inscrutable… Almost as inscrutable as the deceptively-youthful mask her adoptive mother wears.

The Archmage… Yes, you suppose it’s time to talk about that.

“So, you’ve been submitting research for grants?” you ask.

Izirina nods, and smile a little.

“Mother has been very pleased, and has paid us quite well. It’s why we can afford all the aspects of day-to-day life at Old Maple Hill… And the material components for the teleportation envelopes.”

“That spell takes material components besides the paper and wax?” you ask.

Izirina nods, and then frowns and shakes her head.

“Well, not BESIDES the wax, but the wax itself is actually impregnated with an alchemically-cultured and magically-enriched resin that allows it to hold an enchantment. It’s like the chalk a mage would use for setting runic enchantments like wards or <Explosive Runes>, if they wanted to keep them stable in the long-term. It’s… Not inexpensive.”

“I didn’t know,” you admit. “Uh, thank you.”

Izzy smiles a tiny, but obviously proud, smile at your praise and appreciation, and dips her head in a small nod.

“So these transportation spells.. Are those what you’ve been sharing? Or is there more?”

“Well, I’ve been working on Divination as well, but that’s more recent… And since the incident in the woods, with the Noth—with my teacher, that is, I’ve not been making as much progress.”

She scowls a little at that, though you can’t tell if she’s frustrated with you, or with herself. It reminds you of something that had been troubling you about tat arrangement, between her, the Nothic, and the Archmage.

“I’m surprised Archmage Henzler was okay with you receiving, you know… That sort of tutelage, given her history.”

(Being possessed and manipulated like a meat-puppet by a demon by an agent of the Dark Gods will do that, you suppose)

Izzy chews her lip, and looks out the window. After a moment, your eyes widen.

“She doesn’t know?!”

“I… Maybe didn’t say where I discovered those spells?” Izirina admits, voice lilting up as if to say: ‘Is that so bad?’

“Izzy…”
>>
>>5989277
“It wasn’t DARK MAGIC,” she protests. “Just REGULAR magic I learned from a… From a particular source.”

“Still-“

“I’m not learning from it anymore,” Izzy interrupts, with a desperate plea to change the subject embedded in her voice. “Can’t we just… Not talk about that?”

“Where does the Archmage THINK you’ve been learning this stuff, then?” you ask.

“Well, <Plane Shift> was my own spell,” Izzy says, with a hint of pride. “She knows about THAT, of course. I couldn’t hide what had happened to me, when we… When I… Well, you recall. I had to explain it. And that spell was my own invention, so…”

“So Archmage Henzler assumes you invented these other spells yourself,” you note.

“And I mostly DID, you know,” Izzy retorts. “The No—my teacher taught me to teleport objects from one place to another, but NOT how to anchor them to a point. I was taught the <Contingency> spell to trigger their activation, but NOT the means to automatically pull them back to me. I worked out how to maintain that connection indefinitely, though—how to fuel them from my own reserves of qi, or spirit-power—from YOU.”

“ME?” you ask, startled. “But I cant… Oh.”

Izirina nods, as you realize what she means. The spell that entangles’ the magical envelopes and their holders with their creator—with Izirina Henzler—is a derivative of your ancestors’ and gods’ own sacred <Rite of Attunement>.

“Izzy!” you shout, before quickly stopping yourself.

You look to the carriage’s other occupants—all still asleep. You lower your voice.

“Izzy, that sort of knowledge isn’t for… For someone like the Archmage!”

“I didn’t share that with her,” she says. “I just told her it was to do with how you, I, and Costella had changed… That it wasn’t something just anyone could do. Which isn’t wholly true, actually—I don’t understand all the particulars of ‘Feycraft’, or that ritual, but anyone wit sufficient skill COULD achieve similar effects by creating a magical matrix with the right—"

Izirina looks at you, and seems to register the expression on your face.

“What’s wrong?”

You struggle to think of how to broach the subject, but to your surprise, Izzy seems to figure out the problem before you give voice to it.

“Tips… Ezreal… Why don’t you want my mother to know how to use these spells?” you ask. “Is this why you haven’t submitted the detailed casting-scroll for <Clone>? I’d assumed you were being so secretive about the other magic because of your religion, and because they were fairy-magic… But there’s more to it, isn’t there?”

How do you respond?
>The Archmage shouldn’t be trusted—she isn’t an altruist
>The Archmage is manipulating Izzy—she doesn’t really love her
>The Archmage is a bitch, and doesn’t deserve to have this knowledge
>…it’s fine
>Write-in

[Don't forget to vote in both votes!]
>>
>>5989274
>She should think of those as her memories, too—she and ZIth-Zi were one and the same back then, and she has a right to them
Think of it as two people having seen them together.
>>
>>5989283
[Don't forget >>5989280 !]
>>
>>5989274
>Bear hug both Zis
Now they can remember this instead of quibbling over old memories :V

>>5989280
>The Archmage shouldn’t be trusted—she isn’t an altruist
Least bad reason
>>
>>5989274
>>She should let those memories go, and create new ones—forge a new identity, a true self not reliant upon the shadows of her past ‘self’ as a spiritual parasite
You were a passenger on the backseat, not an actor. You know that place, you can feel solace, but you have to build new memories.

>The Archmage shouldn’t be trusted. She have her own Agenda and endgoals, which we don't know in detail.
We just know she's generally up to no good. No bad, but no good.
>>
>>5989274
>Let her puzzle it out herself
Make of it what you will

>>5989280
>I can’t trust the Archmage — she would be too hasty with it
She is wise, but she isn’t infallible. The way she contained Carazzi made more much more volatile than she could’ve been. It worked, but only in that condition alone. Had she escaped… things could’ve gone to shit.
>>
>>5989274
>She should think of those as her memories, too—she and ZIth-Zi were one and the same back then, and she has a right to them
>>5989280
>The Archmage shouldn’t be trusted—she isn’t an altruist

Really all of the above but this one sounds the best
Not an altruist is putting it lightly - she tortured Carazzi!
>>
>>5989280
>We can't trust her not to use these spells in unethical ways, or enable others to do so.
>>
>>5989274
>Let her puzzle it out herself. Give a comforting hug.

>>5989280
>The Archmage shouldn’t be trusted—she isn’t an altruist and doesn't shy away from using spells in unethical ways.
>>
>>5989441
>>5989432
>>5989410
>>5989333
>>5989323
>>5989292
>>5989283
[I have time for an update, but we have a draw as to Carazzi. Normally I'd default this to no advice, and letting her sort it out herself... But with your EGO +1 which came with your Courage increase, I will disqualify that and roll between the two other options, PLUS include the hug, if we don't get a clear plurality within the next hour. Tips' inherent confidence is such that, in a draw or ambiguous vote, he will go for bolder and less timid options, and action over inaction.]

[Vote is still open for now, though.]
>>
File: rolling.png (9 KB, 540x175)
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Rolled 2 (1d2)

>>5989492
[Locked]
>>
Rolled 16, 18, 7, 6, 15, 7 = 69 (6d20)

>>5989544
“Izirina, the Archmage… Your mother… I don’t trust her.”

Izirina’s frown returns, but you don’t’ give her time to object—you press on.

“She doesn’t share my priorities, or yours. She’s not driven by altruism, or th wll-being of others.”

“She’s not a monster Tips.”

“I didn’t say she was,” you’re quick to point out.

This has the effect of mollifying Izirina somewhat—for you can see outright accusations of immortality would be a nonstarter. There’s a bond there, an attachment, as one might expect between a child and the one who raised them. You understand it well enough—your own parental relationships have been fraught at times, strained and distant, but you found yourself forgiving your mother her flaws and missteps as you grew older. She and your father were both absent for much of your life, whereas the Archmage stuck by Izirina, whatever her reasons, and raised her even after the demonic possession which initially compelled her to do so had abated. She’s granted Izzy status, resources, prestige, and power. This carriage, with its eerie steeds and dozing coachman, are gifts of the Archmage, like your precious lightning-struck staff. You UNDERSTAND why Izzy would care for her, and wish to trust her…

“But we can’t just assume she has the same interests as us,” you continue. “Izzy… I’ve read a lot about the Archmage. I’ve spoken with her privately, as her apprentice. I know she’s wise, and experienced, but I also know she’s… Ruthless, at times, in pursuit of her goals. She isn’t empathetic.”

“Mother is just… Just different,” Izirina protests. “She wants what’s best for the people of Hawksong, but not everyone can express it the way you do… Or sees things the same WAY you do.”

“She wants the best for the people of Hawksong? Does that icnlude demihumans? And beastmen?” you ask. “What about fair folk, like me and my mother, outside of Hawksong? What about goblins… Or a creature like Carazzi?”

Izirina’s face scrunches up in distaste for tehq uestion, ro perhaps her inability to adequately answer it.
>>
>>5989554
“You’re calling her a racist? Tips—”

“I’m not,” you quickly correct her. “I know she doesn’t like Carazzi—I KNOW that much. And I understand why, just like I understand and even share some of your misgivings with the Reptilians. But that’s the thing—I don’t know WHAT else she wants, HOW she feels about any of those other people. Do YOU? And when she says she’s prioritizing Hawksong’s interests… Izzy, she’s OLD. Older than I think you know. Are you really sure your mother’s idea of ‘the interests of Hawksong’ is the same as mine, or yours, or Costella’s, or Pearce’s? That it isn’t ultimately the interests of herself, and a select few others? That she isn’t willing to use people as pawns to advance that goal?”

“She’s not… It’s not like that,” Izirina murmurs, quiet now, looking down at the gravel and sand and gripping her robes.

“I’m not saying she’s evil, or unethical,” you say, though it is a half-truth, padding for your true point to spare Izzy’s feelings the sharpness of your actual opinion while still getting it across. “I’m only saying that we don’t’ KNOW what she’d do with this knowledge—the ability to duplicate people to create experimental materials, the ability to change the nature of a being’s soul, the ability to harness all that POWER. And until we know… We should be careful.”

>18

Izzy is quiet for a long time, but you can see it has sunk in. She understands and, logical woman that she (usually) is, her inability to refute or eliminate your concerns must be upsetting.

“She’s trying,” she croaks out.

Your heart falls a little bit, because you can see this criticism of a woman who Izzy has always desperately longed to please, and to live up to, has hurt her. You step forward, and beckon her towards you. Izzy slumps forward, silent, shaking slightly, and you hold her until you both fall asleep.

When dawn comes and your coachman is once more asleep, the rest of your wake, and stretch, and ‘enjoy’ your meals of dried, nutrient-rich trail rations and weak tea as best you can. It’s the downside of such travels, one that—perhaps, someday—the moonberry bushes at Old Maple Hill can make a thing of the past. Or perhaps logistics could be dramatically improved, if a less knowledge-and-energy intensive means of casting <Teleport Object> could be devised? In truth, yours and Izirina’s researches COULD make a huge difference in the world, rather than just at and around the Hill, if you had influence and status akin to that of the Archmage…

That’s in the future, though. Right now, you have more immediate matters: those with the ‘sand elves’ of the Neme-Ashurati and, even MORE immediately, those with Carazzi, who is staring down into her tea with the troubled expression she’s worn since Zith-Zi snapped at her ‘younger sister’ for ‘stealing’ her memories.
>>
>>5989571
“You didn’t do anything wrong,” you tell the demogoblin.

“H-huh?” she says, snapping out of her reverie and looking at you quizzically, as you take a seat beside her, upon the large rock which she ahs made a stool of.

“You were just a passenger,” you elaborate. “When Zith-Zi was making those memories… You weren’t stealing them. Youw ere just along for the ride.”

“But the emotion, the feelings, the… Like, I dunno’, connections or whatever… None of THAT’S mine either!”

Carazzi grimaces, her twisted visage truly ghoulish in that moment, before the anger cracks and gives way to despair.

“I was just feelin’ it ‘cause I was inside of her… But iw asn’t really HER, was I? An’ if I wasn’t Zith-Zi, and those feelings weren’t mine, have I ever felt ANYTHING/ or is it all just a bunch’ve bullshit? Am I even feelin’ real feelings NOW, or just… Just imitating you guys? Feeling whatever comes off of you and…”

Carazzis lets out a yelp of surprise as you pull her to you in a long, tight embrace. You stroke her (admittedly somewhat greasy) hair, and rub her back. Her weak struggles subside, and she melts into you.

“What are you feeling now?” you ask.

“…Cared for.”

“And that makes you…?”

“…Happy.”

“And are you going to remember this trip? This hug? That happiness?”

Carazzi is quiet, contemplatively so.

“Will anyone else remember what you’re experiencing right now, or feel the same way about it?”

“…”

Two small-but-strong arms wrap around your midsection.

“This moment is yours,” you tell her. “Every moment, every memory you make from now on, that’s yours too. You’re not a shadow, or an echo, or an imitation. You’re Carazzi.”

You release the hug and gently extricate yourself from Carazzi’s clinging. When you look back at the demogoblin—at your strange, not-so-monstrous creation, you see something new there: something like awe, or wonder, or…

“I love ya’, Tips. Just so you know. I know you made me an whatever, but… Even if ya’ didn’t, I’d love ya’.”

>You love her too [truth, specify how you would characterize your feelings about the demogoblin Carazzi]
>You… Aren’t quite comfortable saying that

[C]
>>
>>5989582
After your important conversation with Izzy and Carazzi are out of the way, and with your direction and some helpful <Guidance> from Izirina, you finally arrive at the familiar, rocky hill where you once ate, drank, and trained with Nemenmo and her people. You see no sign of them when you arrive in the evening—no <Daylight> glow, or <Faerie Fire> either. However, you know that doesn’t necessarily mean anything… Their people are nomadic in the manner of the Sylvan folk and most other elf-kin, but this is a holy site to them where they may well return to.. If they aren’t already here, hiding in plain sight amongst the sands, through which they can swim like a fish through water. Perhaps they’re watching you and your friends even now. You feel a pang of concern when you realize that they might be actively avoiding you—after all, you’re here with a goblin bandit (sort of) a demon )kind of) and two human outsiders (inarguable),a s well as a Northwestern carriage manned by a half-orc (unavoidable).

What will you do?
>Announce your presence and beseech any Neme or True Fey to reveal themselves and speak with you
>Climb the hill to visit the sacred sand-bowl amidst the finger-like pillars, which you know to be hidden amongst the peaks [specify if you bring anyone with you]
>Assume your <Improved Aethereal Form> and attempt to sneak closer, to spy upon anyone present
>Leave—nobody is here, and so you must search elsewhere
>Write-in

[Don't forget to vote in both votes!]

[Also, a couple typographical/editing corrections...]

>>5989554
>*day-dozing coachman
[He wasn't asleep at that moment, of course. Someone's driving the coach, don't worry!]

>>5989280
*“Tips… Ezreal… Why don’t you want my mother to know how to use these spells?” Izzy asks
[Woopsie. I gather most or all of you parsed who was talking from context even with my misattribution.]
>>
>>5989582
>You love her too [truth, specify how you would characterize your feelings about the demogoblin Carazzi]
Like a child
We already got 2 chicks and they're hard to juggle

>Announce your presence and beseech any Neme or True Fey to reveal themselves and speak with you
>>
>>5989582
>You love her too [like a daughter]

>>5989587
>Climb the hill to visit the sacred sand-bowl amidst the finger-like pillars, which you know to be hidden amongst the peaks [bring Izzy]
since she was with us last time.

>[Also, a couple typographical/editing corrections...]
we kinda got used to the minor ones and sometimes we don't even notice, kek
>>5989615
>We already got 2 chicks and they're hard to juggle
>>5989615
I don't doubt there being some anon wanting to haremmaxx
>>
>>5989582
>You love her too [truth, specify how you would characterize your feelings about the demogoblin Carazzi]
Like a cousin or sister of ours.

>>5989587
>Climb the hill to visit the sacred sand-bowl amidst the finger-like pillars, which you know to be hidden amongst the peaks [specify if you bring anyone with you]
Izzy
>>
>>5989630
>since she was with us last time.
[Have I forgotten a meeting with Nemenmo? I don't recall writing one where Izzy was also present...]
>>
>>5989850
My mistake, I meant to write zizi
>>
>>5989582
>>You love her too [truth, specify how you would characterize your feelings about the demogoblin Carazzi]
Cousin/little Sister

>>5989587
>Climb the hill to visit the sacred sand-bowl amidst the finger-like pillars, which you know to be hidden amongst the peaks [specify if you bring anyone with you]
Izzy + Costella
>>
>>5989630
>like a daughter
I wonder if Carazzi would count as our child for the prophecy. She's kinda of the Yosef line too.
>>
>>5989936
Isn’t she more of a ZithZi creation than ours? We were involved in the rite but it came out of her.
>>
>>5989936
It’d be funny if it did, but I dunno.
>>
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>>5989965
[One could argue (as my family tree I posted suggests) that an arcane meta-genealogist would regard her as a child of two parents (Zith-Zi and Tips) or four (Ismena the Infiltrator, Yen-Zi the Goblin, Irinnile the Succubus, and Tips). Or as simply a parentless artificial creature! It's really a matter of perspective.]

>>5989936
[Forgot a vote, anon...]

>>5989891
>>5989884
>>5989718
>>5989630
>>5989615
[Locked and writing, though!]
>>
>>5990400
>One could argue (as my family tree I posted suggests) that an arcane meta-genealogist would regard her as a child of two parents (Zith-Zi and Tips) or four (Ismena the Infiltrator, Yen-Zi the Goblin, Irinnile the Succubus, and Tips).
I was gonna ask how the fuck 4 could parent her then I remembered that the lizard was fused with the succubus when she was piping momzi. Man, now I'm curious as to how she got into that.
>>
>>5990400
You decide it best to investigate. The Neme are a shy people—or a xenophobic one, put less charitably. In this harsh environment, it makes sense to be, so you can’t necessarily hold it against them, but you wouldn’t be surprised to discover they are here, only hiding. Announcing yourself could risk scaring them off—especially if they geta close look at some of your companions-and so you decide to climb the mountain.

…But then again, that would involve CLIMBING.

“Izirina?”

“On it. <Summon Elemental!>”

Almost immediately, you feel yourself lifted up from above, buoyed by the swirling sand beneath you as an upcasted elemental from the Plane of Air picks you up. Beside you, Izirina is similarly aloft. You look down upon the others, and tell them:

“We’ll be back soon. Costella…”

Costella smiles understandingly, and nods. She needs no explanation for why she’s being left back at basecamp: she isn’t a magical specialist as Izirina is and, with the bad mood Izzy ahs been in, a special ‘together’ trip, with just the two of you bonding over your mutual magical interests, could be quite beneficia. She loves Izzy too, and wants that for her just as much as you do.

And as for the others…

“Zith-Zi, keep watch, if you would?

“Literally what you’re paying me for,” Zith-Zi quips, then comes to a sudden, startling realization. “Wait, shit, ARE you paying me?”

“No,” you say, and ignoring the cacophony of goblin profanity which results, knowing by now that she doesn’t really mean it.

“Carazzi?”

The other ‘goblin present looks away from Zith-Zi’s tantrum to regard you curiously.

“Be good,” you tell her.

Carazzi nods, eager-to-please as ever—desperate for approval, for recognition, for positive emotion. You can’t help but find it as endearing as it is sad, and honestly kind of cute. For all her upsetting and unsettling attempts at physical intimacy, you still can’t help but regard this strange being in an almost paternal light. It’s something about the way she looks to you for guidance, for approval. You’ve never really HAD a child of your won, obviously, but this must be what it feels like… Right? To make and shape a life?

(Not that you’d say as much aloud… A simple 'I love you, too' would suffice, and DID suffice, and was far less embarrassing.)

You look to the stagecoach driver, but the half-orc has already checked out, tipping his wide-brimmed hat low and kicking his feet up, and—with honestly enviable efficiency—has begun to sleep. He’s been driving his strange, nocturnal horses hard, without complaint or even questioning. You suppose you can’t begrudge the silent stranger his rest…
>>
>>5990447
Izirina and yourself ascend the mountain, soaring rather than climbing. You could do this yourself with a Wildshape>, but the truth of the matter is that Izirina is simply a stronger caster than you are. Especially since returning from the Elemental planes, her reserves of raw power dwarf yours—it’s the only reason she can so often serve as a teleportation hub in the way she does. Even now, controlling two elementals, she looks utterly unbothered. If she hadn’t been so quickly contained by Nenaias the elven sage, when you battled him in Iternagreyn, capital f the Sylvan Realms—you strongly suspect she could have summoned something strong enough to burn his treant to ash…

“You’re amazing, you know that?”

Izirina turns to you, startled by the compliment, and even with her tinted lenses you can tell her lightning-bright green eyes have gone wide; her tanned complexion is certainly not enough to hide her blush.

“Y-you too,” she mutters, and turns away, rising higher and bringing you with her.

You both alight upon the mountain. Something almost instinctual tells you not to beeline straight for the dish where the Ashurati keep their sacred sands, amidst pillar-like fingers carved with murals and glyphs. That sort of sacred space should be entered in a correct, respectful manner, if one does not wish to anger the spirits who dwell there, with the permission of their priests or shamans…

And yet there are no priests. No shamans. No Neme, or Ashurati, or anyone else.

“Hello?” you call out, after stumbling around in uncertainty ahs achieved naught but the kicking-up of wasteland dust.

“You said they were nomadic,” Izirina recalls. “Maybe they’re not here, this time of year?”

“It’s possible, but there should still be spirits… True Fey. Remember how the spriggan is bound to the tree upon Old maple Hill? That’s how fairy courts normally work… Well, apart from the Unseelie, but they’re not a REAL fairy court.”

“And their lack of a focus is the problem we’re trying to solve,” Izirina notes, then reflects upon this and asks: “Why CAN’T we just bind them to a tree, or mountain, or something else?”
>>
>>5990448
“Legend says they’re cursed, for their evil deeds,” you explain. “They were denied to the light of the moon, which was once their right. The sun was made into a weapon against them, as with demons and devils, and other creatures of the Hellish Realms and servants of the Dark Gods. They were left with nothing, and denied even the fruits of the Earth.”

“What did they do?” Izirina asks. “I understand that they torment, enslave, and kill people, but… Originally, I mean? What was their first transgression?”

You open your mouth to answer… But then realize that you don’t actually KNOW. Given what they became, you assume it must have been bad… But you’ve never asked. You didn’t ask the Goddesses of the Moon, the Lunar Eladrin, or the Unseelie themselves. You strongly suspect they’d give different answers, to…

Before you can contemplate this further, you hear a noise—a clattering of stones, as something jostles the gravel and rocks of the cliffs. You turn to face the sound with excitement at first, but then it occurs to you: would the Neme-Ashurati, who had been so carefully hidden all this time, make such a careless mistake? Despite their typical fair-folk’s grace? Your fears are realized when you catch sight of the wolfish, yellow eyes of a goblin, peering over the edge of a cliff.

“Tips…”

“I see it too,” you whisper.

At dusk your vision is clearer than your human lover’s… Perhaps even better than that of the goblin, for their race are creatures of deeper darkness than yours: their ‘darkvision’ works best with little or no light, where your ‘low-light vision’ functions best in these conditions, like that of a crepuscular animal. Chances are, the goblin has spotted you, but doesn’t know who or what you are, aside from a bipedal being. They might not even know you’ve spotted them.

What will you do?
>Greet the goblin
>Intimidate the goblin into surrendering
>Capture the goblin [specify a tactic or spell, if you have one in mind]
>Kill the goblin [specify a tactic or spell, if you have one in mind]
>Flee back to your basecamp
>Assume <Improved Aethereal Form>--which, to a goblin’s painfully unmagical eyes, would be essentially invisibility
>Write-in

>>5990441
[See https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?searchall=reptilian+infiltrator if you'd like. it's not required reading, though.]

The long and short is that a bisexual incel Reptilian Infiltrator treated her mission to Hawksong like Rumspringa, fucked around a LOT, and binding herself emotionally and spiritually to a sex demon just made her libido worse; after her messy breakup with her human husbando, her casual goblin side-piece became her ONLY regular lover, and she never expected her succubus' kinky "modifications" were capable of actually impregnating someone.
>>
>>5990451
>Greet the goblin
Ask if he knows anything about the location.

am >>5989718
>>
>>5990448
>You could do this yourself with a Wildshape>, but the truth of the matter is that Izirina is simply a stronger caster than you are. Especially since returning from the Elemental planes, her reserves of raw power dwarf yours—it’s the only reason she can so often serve as a teleportation hub in the way she does. Even now, controlling two elementals, she looks utterly unbothered. If she hadn’t been so quickly contained by Nenaias the elven sage, when you battled him in Iternagreyn, capital f the Sylvan Realms—you strongly suspect she could have summoned something strong enough to burn his treant to ash…
sometimes I forget she was the "true" mc of this quest.
>>5990451
>Greet the goblin
we're in a position where he can't really try anything dumb so why not.
>>
>>5990451
>Greet the goblin
sup bro.
>>
>>5990451
>Greet the goblin
>>
>>5990451
>spoiler
damn, Reptoid inovating with an actual femcel gooner representation
>>
>>5989936
I thought the prophecy specified our and Izzy's child, not just one of ours alone. Izzy wasn't involved in the creation of Carazzi so we're safe there.

Also she's not really a child.
>>
Rolled 20, 5, 16, 4, 3, 8 = 56 (6d20)

>>5990455
>>5990507
>>5990555
>>5990575
You aren’t sure exactly what to make of the goblin’s presence, but you’ve had success negotiating with their kind in the past—it’s how you met and befriended Zith-Zi, after all! Moreover, you really aren’t inclined to start a fight—THAT instinct is how you ended up experiencing the horrors of bloody combat once before, and how Muffins developed his somewhat-upsetting penchant for goblin-flesh. It took you quite a while to train it out of him, enough that you can leave him unsupervised around your ‘nilbog’ friend.

(At least Carzzzi seems to not register as edible to the chimera, you’ve noticed… Thoguh conversely, he seems rather frightened by her at times.)

At any rate, with Zith-Zi at the mountain’s base, you struggle to remember what little goblintongue you recall. It isn’t a lot, but linguistics IS one of your specialties. You approach the goblin, who only realizes they (he, you think?) have been spotted when you are within spitting distance. Then, startled, they leap up. You raise your hands in supplicating gesture and try your luck, while simultaneously testing your memory…

[Linguistics roll, bonus for sociability, 4d20; 2d20 Sense Motive.]
>>
Eh. Not bad first contact.
>>
>>5991136
we're so social
but not very sensitive
>>
>>5991136
>>5991140
>>5991151
“Hello friend,” you begin, the scratchy and choppy language tingling your throat and dragging up phlegm you didn’t know you had, “we have booty enough to gamble it, and our knives are in the open where you can see them.”

Izirina looks confused, her mouth moving slightly as she tries to work out what you’ve just said.

“Old goblin greeting,” you whisper to her in Common. “It’s not meant to be literal.”

>20

“Howza’ knife-ears khoblis know Gob?” the goblin asks, still have-hidden by cover but now, at least, peeking out enough for you to indeed identify him as a male of the species. He also, apparently speaks Common… Which isn’t entirely a surprise. It’s broken, but useful for traders and raiders like the wasteland goblins to at least know a smattering of the human tarde-tongues.

“I learned it from a friend,” you say with what you hope is a disarming smile. “My name is Ezreal Mious Van Houtzmann, and I—”

“Too many blood name,” the goblin notes.

You’re momentarily disoriented, but you start up again: “Well, ‘Ezreal’ will do. But Actually, I’m here with Izirina—that’s the human woman—and a few other friends, looking for someone. Well, a few someones. They lvie here—”

“The djinn!”

“Well, they’re affiliated with the djinni—those are the elementally-attuned Treu Fey I mentioned, Izirina—but I was actually looking for the flesh-and-blood inhabitants of—”

“I don’t understand,” the goblin admits, twiddling about with one bony pinkie-finger in his oversized, bat-like ear. “Explain slow, or switch to gob-lang.”

Feeling more confident in your goblin-speech after this first contact, you do as he asks:

“I was wondering what you were doing here?” you ask. “It seems like you know who lives here… Do you know where they went.”

“They left,” the goblin says sourly. “Been looking, nothing here anymore…”

The pulls his finger out of his ear, and his posture shifts slightly.

“Well, until you two showed up.”

“What’s he saying?” Izzy whispers.

“We’re the only ones here,” you translate, then turn back to the goblin. “Tell me, you say there’s nothing here ANYMORE… Do you know WHEN they left? The ones who lived here?”

“Scattered when the Amaršoubim came calling,” the goblin says. “Who wouldn’t?”

“Amaršoubim…” you sound out the unfamiliar word. “Meaning… God, or big? No, ‘great’. And šoubim… That’s a word for ‘people’, isn’t it? Great people? Giants?”

The goblin scoffs, then thinks on it, then shrugs.

“Giant for šoubim. Your size, I guess.”

“So… Humans?”

“Ha!” comes a voice from behind you. “Better than THAT!”

>8 and 3 for Sense Motive

Before you can react, something hits you from behind, hard enough to pitch you forward into the stones of the small mountain.
>>
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>>5991158
forgot pic
>>
>>5991160
There’s no sharp pain, at least, so your immediate fear that you’ve been fired upon quickly abates, but it’s replaced swiftly with confusion and disorientation of a different sort, for your arms are bound to your sides. You look down and see that you have been tangled in some sort of contraption of string and stone. A cry of alarm to your left informs you that Izirna has been likewise surprised and incapacitated. You struggle and swear, attempting to squirm your way to freeing a hand so you can at least cast a spell, but al you manage to do is roll over… Just in time for a footfall to slam down on your sternum, knocking the wind from your lungs. It isn’t the goblin you were speaking with, but another, missing an eye and wearing the usual Wastelander roughshod hodgepodge of metal and leather. He snarls down at you, a wordless threat.

“Good job, Gih-Di!” the voice you heard before says. “Looks like this return trip’s not a total loss after all.”

“Y-yeah!” you hear the goblin you were negotiating with say, not entirely convincingly. “That’s right! Distracted them, totally on purpose, just for you, Elak-Rak!”

“That’s ‘BOSS Elak-Rak, maggot.”

“Y-yeah! Right on, Boss!”

You look up at source of the voice which preceded this attack—this ‘Boss Elak-Rak’. Descending from the sacred space where you once practiced your <Daylight> spell with Nemenmo the Ashurati, comes a goblin… But a taller one, more humanoid. His hair is tied back in a short, bundled bun, his skin-tone almost akin to that of the Eastmen who you encountered in the backrooms of The Pretty Kitty, or to the human disguise of Hawksong’s Reptilian Prince Consort. When you squint, though, you can make out that rather than a yellowish-beige, tough, the underlying hue is more of a subtle orange… And even without that, the wide yellow eyes and backwards-sept, ragged-edged ears would give the ‘Boss’ of these brigands away as other-than-human.

“Amaršoubim,” you groan in realization. “Not ‘great person’. ‘Greater goblin’. HOBgblin.”
>>
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>>5991162
“That’s right,” Elak-Rak says with a jagged grin, flecked with gold and silver where some of his teeth have been replaced.

He hefts a club over one shoulder, a long lump of wood wrapped with bands of metal, and studded with spikes. He wears the tanned pelt of some striped beast, with antelope antlers jutting out above his shoulders, lending him a distinctive silhouette. This is aided somewhat by his leanly-muscled physique, attesting to his ability to wield the ungainly weapon… But moreso by the appearance of several more goblins, with sacks, nets, crude spears and cudgels, and more of the curious throwing weapons. Among them, and given wide berth by their smaller, greener cousins, are two more hobgoblins. It’s tough to gauge their full strength from your awkward position, but you’d guess there are somewhere between seven and a dozen goblins of varying sizes and breeds here.

“And what are YOU TWO s’posed ta’ be, I can’t help but speculate?” he asks.

What will you do?
>Flex your reputation and status, and demand to be let free this instant
>Try to use your vulnerable position to get the hobgoblin to tell you what happened to the Ashurati
>Call out for help, and hope your friends can get here in time to aid you
>Signal Izirina to sick the Air Elementals upon these goblins and hobgoblins
>Attempt to cast a spell while bound [which spell? How much MP do you spend on it?]
>Write-in
>>
>>5991164
>Flex your reputation and status, and demand to be let free this instant
um we're a big important person how dare u
>>
>>5991164
I presume we don’t have the lightning staff with us? If no, then

>Signal Izirina to sick the Air Elementals upon these goblins and hobgoblins

If yes then lightning 1 MP

We need to kill this hob immediately.

am >>5990455
>>
>>5991179
[Your lightning staff is on the ground beside you. You could reach it and attempt to cast, but it would have similar penalties to casting with gestures right now... Though -1 DC IF you can reach it.]
>>
>>5991164
Kinda funny how we got weak rolls for the "most" important one
>Signal Izirina to sick the Air Elementals upon these goblins and hobgoblins
I don't think reputation will work that much with bandits and I'm don't wanna lie down with a lot of gobbos surrounding us.
>>
>>5991187
>Kinda funny how we got weak rolls for the "most" important one
[I didn't make it clear in retrospect, but your crit success on Linguistics is the only reason you can understand the hobgoblin, Elak-Rak, and negotiate with him -- the 'normal' goblins speak Common, but he doesn't.]
>>
>>5991203
Alright, that’s better. Since I always assume hobgoblins to be smarter than regular ones, I didn’t think about it.
>>
>>5991164
>Attempt to cast a spell while bound [which spell? How much MP do you spend on it?]
>aethiral form 1mp.

We can use Aethrail form to slip the bolas's binding and untie izzy. We shouldn't have izzy elementals attack, they might throw their spears at us if we do that.
>>
>>5991304
And you think they won’t try this with ethereal form ?
>>
>>5991164
>Write-in
>.Free-movement out of the situation
It is not a spell, it's our inner nature, right? If we had trouble with tangibility during intercourse with that elven chick, what could prevent us to phase through the fucker?

On that line of thought... How hard would it be to pull a heart squeeze partial tangibility power-terror kill?
>>
>>5991182
Got it.

I’ll back >>5991304
Aetherial form then

>>5991324
I’m not sure if our flesh and bones would be tough enough to withstand his flesh and bones if we were to partially tangible it. Partial tangible + weapon, or even an object would be insane, though.

(Teleports table into your spine)
>>
>>5991324
Supporting this.
>>
>>5991324
Honestly, a liver crush or lung crush would be way quicker if you’re gonna go that route. Liver for pain compliance. Lung for kill.
>>
I can't believe it took like 3 threads for us to weaponize that thing.
>>
>>5991324
From what I remember we can't phase through living things.
>>
>>5991316
Unless their spears are magic, they won't be able to harm us, and since goblins are nature are unmagical they won't even be able to see us clearly.
>>
>>5991798
almost forgot that, so it's just izzy on the ropes.
>>
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>>5991417
>>5991329
>>5991324
>>5991304
>>5991187
>>5991179
>>5991167
[Locked!]
>>
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>>5991969
You don’t bother to reply to the hobgoblin. It’s a mixture of outrage and focus which stills your tongue, for you are focused on formulating an escape attempt, but this ‘Elak-Rak’ seems to take it otherwise.

“Translate it!” he barks in his gravelly goblin dialect, kicking one of his smaller, greener subordinates in the rear with a heavy boot. “I want to know who these fuckin’ assholes think they are, and what they’re doing here!”

It seems he only caught your interjections in the ‘Common Tongue’, the trade-language of the Northwest. That he doesn’t ask you himself implies he doesn’t speak the dialect himself… Which is rather curious. You aren’t well-versed I the lore of the scattered goblin tribes and bands, with their shifting territories and allegiance, but you’d always been given to think that the hobgoblins were not merely taller, or stronger, but generally considered WISER as well. Certainly, they’re considered more dangerous…

But no more magical, and that is your edge. While Elak-Rak's subordinate is repeating his question to you in your father-tongue, you are work still and silent spellcraft--FEYCRAFT, rather--to affect an escape.

Most of your spells require somatic components. Even <Improved Aethereal Form> typically utilizes gestures and spoken syllables of ancient elventongue to control the wavelength upon which you vibrate, and the form and frequency which your matter and energy assume. However, ever since the incident which first rendered you intangible, you have always had an easier time returning to that ‘default’ than the reverse. In the sylvan Realms in particular. You discovered that sufficient… Distraction… Could cause you to slip out of corporeality involuntarily. You’ve evolved far beyond that difficulty now, but it should still be relatively simple thing to simply let your mind wander, and your body dissipate, and…

>HP: 3/3
>MP: 3/4 (+1 if you can reclaim your staff)
>Attempted cast: <Improved Aetheral Form>

Autosuccess, but rolling feycraft + Arcana to see how subtle you are about it..
>>
Rolled 15, 1, 12, 10, 9, 10 = 57 (6d20)

>>5991986
weird, it ate my dice
>>
>>5991986
>Autosuccess, but rolling feycraft + Arcana to see how subtle you are about it..
nice roll
>>
>>5991986
>>5991988
>>5991989
You feel the twined rope of your bindings simply slip through you, the way you might feel a breeze pass you by. As in the past, you are unable to simply sink into the earth, just as you cannot long occupy the space of a living being. As before, this makes you wonder just what this means for the Earth—why it should seem to react to this magic as if a living thing—but you have no time to speculate in depth today.

>1

“Hey!” Elak-Rak bellows, casting his gaze this way and that. “Where in the HELLS did he fuckin’ GO?!”

The hobgoblin swings his greatclub in tandem with his frantic scanning of the surrounding stones, causing the smaller goblinfolk to yelp and flatten themselves to avoid being pulverized or decapitated by his negligence. However, even when they look directly at you, these fundamentally-unmagical beings are INCAPABLE of seeing you…

>15

…And if they noticed your disappearing act, the startled search is a distraction from Izirina.

“Find him, you festering, rancid little snot-bags!” the lead hobgoblin roars to his shorter subordinates. “Don’t let him get away!”

You stand up, and meet Izzy’s eyes. She had been sizing up Elak-Rak, you think—it’s tough to see where she’s looking with those shaded lenses, but you can hear her murmuring to herself, and you think she’s plotting… A trajectory? With a start, you realize she means to call down her lesser air elementals to buffet him from one side, and shove the ‘greater goblin’ off the cliff altogether, to splatter upon the ground below! Seeing you have begun your own gambit, though, she quiets, and looks expectantly to you.

(Well, you can’t say you blame her, but even so, rather gruesome…)

“You two!” Elak-Rak shouts at his fellow hogoblins. “Get the rod, and the chest! The bastard’s probably hiding like those genie shits were…”

Your head snaps around, and you star at Elak-Rak. A rod, and a chest? You aren’t sure what he means, but if they allowed him to find and combat genies—or djinni or, more accurately still, TRUE FEY… Well, that sounds simultaneously dangerous and deeply intriguing.

What will you do?
>Signal Izirina to initiate her own escape—and Elak-Rak’s lethal launch from the mountaintop
>Wait—an signal Izzy to wait—to see what strange magical items these hobgoblins possess
>Use your relative weightlessness in this form to quickly descend the mountain and fetch your friends
>Retrieve your staff and send forth a bolt of lightning, to show you mean business
>Write-in
>>
>>5992001
>Retrieve your staff and send forth a bolt of lightning, to show you mean business
"I didn't have to miss."
>>
>>5992001
>Retrieve your staff and send forth a bolt of lightning, to show you mean business
Kill the gobs going for the rod and chest. Izzy can take care of the big guy.

>>5991329
>>
>>5992001
>Retrieve your staff and send forth a bolt of lightning, to show you mean business
The chest either can capture magical beings or do something else, but a rod ? intriguing
>>
>>5992001
>>Retrieve your staff and send forth a bolt of lightning, to show you mean business
Kill da boss.
Maim subordonate, enough to neutralize them, and get them to sing.
>>
>>5992001
>Signal Izirina to initiate her own escape—and Elak-Rak’s lethal launch from the mountaintop
>>
Rolled 10, 7 = 17 (2d20)

>>5992121
>>5992078
>>5992035
>>5992010
>>5992003
[Just a quick mystery roll]
>>
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Rolled 13, 15, 11, 19 = 58 (4d20)

>>5992632
>>5992121
>>5992078
>>5992035
>>5992010
>>5992003
Before you mastered your <Improved Aethereal Form>, your <free Movement> state came with many disadvantages. Chiefmost among them—aside from falling through floor and out of your clothes and the, ah, sex stuff—was that you couldn’t reliably hold onto a weapon. Well, it seems even NOW you can’t, since the impact of the bolo caused you to drop your staff. However, with that athereal form being, well, IMPROVED, it is a simple thing to retrieve it. You hardly need to shift your frequency at all , nd only for half a moment, without so much as dropping your inbuilt invisibility to do so. And so you do—

“There he is!”

--or so you’d thought, anyway.

>10, 7 for the enemies

You are able to ‘dematerialize’ again, and to dive back before one of Elak-Rak’s lieutenants hurls a spear at where your staff just was, a mere moment ago. Luckily, you are able to retrieve the <Archmage’s Gift> ahead of this, but it gives you an important reminder—to not get cocky, even now. It seems that thought you are utterly invisible to the goblinodis in your current form, any interaction with a physical object is enough for the leadership—or at least Elak-Rak, who seems unusually acute in his perception—to launch an attack. At first you’d thought to startle the hobgoblins and their jade-skinned flunkies with a show of force without inflicting any harm…

“Get the girl! Knife-ears won’t leave without his pet humie, mark my fuckin’ words.”

…But in light of this revelation and that LAST remark, you rethink your strategy. You’re loathe to shed blood or end lives unnecessarily… But the keyword there, as ever, has been ‘unnecessarily’. Sometimes, as you have been forced to reckon with repeatedly, the time comes when it is you or them.

You raise your staff high, and flickering in and out of corporeality, you cry:

“<LIGHTNING BOLT!>”

DC 15, -1 for the staff, +2 versus magic-resistant races.
>>
Rolled 15, 20, 13 = 48 (3d20)

>>5992639
>19
You take no pleasure in the screams which result from your spellcasting, nor the smell of burnt hair and fabric, of scorched flesh and ozone. You close your eyes in fact, and look away. Even as you knew the tall spears with their metal tips would serve as perfect lightning rods to target the two lieutenants before they could retrieve this mysterious ‘rod’ and ‘chest’, you regretted what would become of them. They still twitch, but you strongly suspect that this is a relic of an overelectrified nervous system, and not in fact a sign of life.

“Ibihg!” Elak-Rak shouts, jumping back and releasing his own club, narrowly avoid a shock himself.

He looks around frantically, backing up another step.

“Well, one of you little mossy-green fuckers, get me the gods-damned rod and chest! Hurry!”

[Morale check, DC 17 due to you nuking two hobs]
>>
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>>5992643
The goblins exchange furtive glances. You recognize in their stances, in their eyes, the silent calculus of cowardice—or perhaps of wisdom and prudence, if you are being more charitable. There seems to be little fondness between Elak-Rak and the ‘lesser’ goblins he bosses about, and with his lieutenants felled, the balance of power has changed. Theya re reconsidering their allegiances.

>20

“NOW!” Elak-Rak roars, and kicks a loose stone the size of your head at once of the goblins, with enough force to send the caterwauling wretch careening down the cliffside. That should at least be enough to alert your allies… But it’s also more than sufficient to mobilize the goblins through fear to serve the so-called amaršoubim. Elak-Rak himself reaches for Izirina in the chaos. You raise your staff and point its smoking, splintered head at him, crackling with energy, but he is too fast—to fire at him risks firing upon Izzy as well.

Luckily, she has defences of her own…

[2d20 for lesser (1MP) air elementals]
>>
Rolled 14, 16 = 30 (2d20)

>>5992648
trying again
>>
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>>5992649
>>5992649
“Grab him!”

The air elementals had become half-visible whisps, hovering aimless and directionlessly about, after Izirina summoned them. This is the manner of all elementals, after all—they perform a task mindlessly, then do nothing or simply cease to be, unless they go ‘wild’ and instead begin to berserk about with equal imprecision. They had not been dismissed, though, and there is no need for Izirina to free her limbs or so much as say a word-of-power to set them upon a new mission.

>16

“Wha—huh?!”

In truth, the simply animate gales which Izirina had <summoned> forth to lift you up were not produced with combat in mind, and each was drawn forth and given ‘form’ with only the minimum of her power. Caught off-guard however, Elak-Rak the Hobgoblin is easy prey: they simply lift him up and juggle him about, disorient ting him. He hurtles profanity like divine lightning, but can do little else but bob helplessly, comically, in place.

“Leave,” Izzy says, rising now and finally struggling free of her bindings, and removes her shaded glasses so that her eyes can flash a fearsome emphasis. “Leave and live, or be destroyed.”

There is a coldness in her voice, a violence without anger. You recognize it: it is her mother, the Archmage Henzler, speaking through her. Not literally—thank the Gods!—but in spirit, in the way she was raised. She means it: if these pitiful thieves do not retreat, you know well what she will do: annihilate everyone else upon this mountain.

The goblins hesitate…

“When I get down from here, I’ll skin every last fuckin’ traitor that runs and hides! I’ll find you, and fuckin’ make a CLAOK out of your FUCKIN’ scummy goblin fuckin’ SKINS!”

>critical success to mobilize the goblins lingers

The goblins brandish knives, and clubs, and crude polearms made of knives-on-sticks. They advance, or ready to throw their missiles—those that have missiles to throw. A hail of such weaponry could fell Izirina easily, of course—she IS still only human, inner energies aside. The far MORE likely outcome, though, is the brutal death of every goblin here—especially if you assist.

What will you do?
>Aid in eliminating this goblin band in its entirety
>Manifest visibly, and attempt to aid Izzy’s intimidation efforts
>Try to defuse the situation—plead leniency for the goblins, and offer them protection
>Leave them to it… And go seek this rod and chest, in the meantime
>Write-in
>>
>>5992653
>Aid in eliminating this goblin band in its entirety

He made his choice.

am >>5992010
>>
>>5992653
>Kill Elak and try one last time to get the rest to stand down
>>
>>5992653
>Aid in eliminating this goblin band in its entirety
Elak has the dawg in him, gotta give him that.
>>
>>5992702
Not really. He didn’t do shit. Just let his lackeys jump us and only when we’re bound does he come out to talk. His own troops are only kept in line by fear. A rotten cunt to the end. Might as well kill him before he keeps on talking.
>>
>>5992704
>His own troops are only kept in line by fear.
If you recognize this why do you want to kill them all instead of just him? He's the only thing keeping them going.
>>
>>5992719
Because right now they - are - fearing him, so much so they’re willing to kill us for him. They already have missile weapons readied. Izzy is on the line.

If we kill a bunch of them, and the rest flee, sure, we won’t pursue, but right now, no.
>>
>>5992733
Actually, nevermind that. Those gobs were the ones who made and threw the bolo. (>>5991160)

We let them go now they could ambush us later and they won’t be taking any chances then. Wipe them all out.

They live their lives ambushing travelers. This is the cost of playing that game.
>>
>>5992696
That. +1
>>
>>5992848
>>5992702
>>5992696
>>5992666
[We seem to have a tie. Anyone (who isn't a 1post ID) care to break it?]
>>
Rolled 2, 4, 16, 4 = 26 (4d20)

>>5993495
[Alright, intention-blending it is… Targeting Elak-Rak, with subsequent lethal strikes upon the goblins depending upon what happens next.]

>>5992848
>>5992702
>>5992696
>>5992666
You sigh deeply. These goblins… They’ve made terrible choices, which have n doubt negatively—likely lethally—affected a great many travellers. They playa dangerous game, and if death is to be their prize… Well, so be it.






“Ah, fuck,” you grunt through gritted teeth.

“Tips?” Izzy asks, distracted from your enemies’ impending doom by your relatively-uncommon profanity.

You can’t do it. Even now, you can’t just unleash a storm upon hapless little thugs like this—not without giving them every possible chance to turn over a new leaf, or at least to turn tail and run. Not if you don’t absolutely HAVE to.

By Elak-Rak—the fiend forcing them through fear to fight you? Well, he’s another matter.

You allow yourself to flicker into corporeality long enough to summon forth another <Lightning Bolt>, aimed squarely at the airborne, largely-immobilized hobgoblin ringleader. His eyes bug out and her bears his snaggle-teeth in a furious—but also transparently fearFUL—grimace.

“Don’t you fuckin’—”

You speak the words. The lightning flies…

[DC 14, given his combined disadvantages and resistances.]
>>
Rolled 6, 17, 17 = 40 (3d20)

>>5993556

>16

Elak-Rak screams. He screams, and screams, and screams. You will the lightning to fry him faster, to finish him, but it doesn’t—his magic resistance and physical constitution is too great. It was wise to take him out early, to focus your fire and end him in this way. In a straight fight, this buffoonish barbarian would present quite the martial threat. No wonder his subordinates are so terrified.

And speaking of those subordinates…

Morale check, DC 18 given their leader's state.
>>
>>5993560
>DC 18
>2 17s
WHEW
>>
>>5993560
>>5993560
The goblins watch with horror upon their warped, wizened faces. It isn’t empathy, at least not much of it, but a realization of exactly what they’re messing with… And how little they have to gain from continued conflict with mages of your ilk. Those with throwing weapons look down upon them, and at your flickering, half visible form and Izirina’s fiercely-flashing eyes,… And drop them, hands raised in surrender. Still others don’t even bother to do that—they simply bolt, half-sprinting and half-tumbling down the hillside. Izirina, with a shrill victory scream, hurls Elak-Rak after them. His still-twitching body jerks and spasms down the slope, bouncing and breaking upon the rocks.

Izirina trembles, silently shaking. You realize with a start that, as much as you HATE killing… izirina never HAS killed. Not like this, certainly—not a n intelligent being, capable of speech, almost human in form, and in such a brutal fashion.

“Are you—”

“I’m fine,” she says quickly, and quietly. “I just… I need a moment.”

You allow yourself to materialize and, alone upon the mountain, you embrace her. Izirina doesn’t return the gesture, nor does she even turn to face you… But nor does she cry. She just looks upon her works—upon Elak-Rak’s ruined body, in contemplation. You carefully AVODI looking at his fellows-the two other hogoblins, whom you slew so swiftly.

>3/3 HP
>3/5 MP

Before long, Muffins’ roaring and bleating signals the approach of your friends. Hearing the screams and cracks of artificial-elemental thunder, they must have known something was amiss. They come warlike in posture and attitude, bearing weapons… Well, except for your half-orc carriage-man, who has apparently seen fit to guard his horses and his livelihood. Costella’s façade of violence quickly crumbels when she sees her two loevrs are safe, rushing to embrace you.

“Oh thank the Gods Above, you’re safe!” she cries out, squeezing you both tight against her larger body.

“That’s right,” you say. “We’re fine. It’s all going to be okay.”

A moment later, you feel small, sharp-nailed hands grabbing at your tunic, and look down to see Carazzi’s nub-horned head pressed against your hip. You pat her hair soothingly, and she calms. Veloz flits around you, this way and that, hovering about the dead bodies and glaring out not the Goblin Wastes below, while Muffins graces your growing assembly of affection with a single rub of his flank before the snake-head scents the air, and tugs the other two aspects of his tripartite being towards the corpses to… Ah, DISPOSE of them.

“Ssst!’ you hiss, and he stops. “None of that. We have food for you!”

Muffins groans, and flops down upon the stone, before rolling over onto his side and staring, forlorn, at the flash-fried goblinoids he has been forbidden to devour.
>>
>>5993579
Zith-Zi alone does not join your gaggle, instead staring down through squinted eyes at the goblins—her (former?) kinfolk.

“Little shits have been massed inta’ a warband by some hobbos, huh?” she asks, and cucks disapprovingly. “never woulda’ happened if I was keeping ‘em in line.”

Hershy, her feathered chimera-drake, yawns and makes a squawk of general agreement—or, at least, you interpret it that way.

“What are we gonna’ do about ‘em?” the ex-goblin ex-bandit asks.

>Hunt them down and destroy them—they acted under duress THIS time, but also without remorse in the past
>Follow them, but to attempt parley—you want to know what happened here, and what they know of the Ashurati
>Let them scatter—you will meditate here, and search for clues as to what occurred and where the denizens of this place went

It also occurs to you how little you really know about Zith-Zi’s life before you met her. She was a bandit, wasn’t she? Maybe something akin tobroken Elak-Rak, smouldering below? Did she ever do as these goblins did—capturing and killing innocent travellers for profit? Does she empathize with them?
>Ask Zith-Zi about her past, and her sympathies
>Let the past remain in the past—Zi can keep her secrets
>Write-in

>>5993575
There would have been a 4d20 attack on Izzy if that had gone otherwise, and Elak-Rak would actually have had 1 HP left if she hadn't killed him
>>
>>5993580
>Follow them, but to attempt parley—you want to know what happened here, and what they know of the Ashurati

>Ask Zith-Zi about her past, and her sympathies

Good to know that while Izzy may be the foremost expert on magic dimensional travel in the world she's still a squishy headcase.
>>
>>5993580
>Follow them, but to attempt parley—you want to know what happened here, and what they know of the Ashurati
We let them go now and they’ll come back again. Find them. Give them a shot at peace one more time. Any more missteps and they’ll be dead for good.

>Ask Zith-Zi about her past, and her sympathies
She lived this long. She must’ve done something right. Or smart.

>>5992666
>>
>>5993580
>she asks, and cucks disapprovingly
I think this one was a freudian slip by qm

>Follow them, but to attempt parley—you want to know what happened here, and what they know of the Ashurati

>Ask Zith-Zi about her past, and her sympathies

>spoiler
makes sense. as much as I've wanted the guy alive for questions, the focus vote winning was ok.
>>
>>5993612
>>5993580
>freudian slip
*clucks
[I don't think I've ever done cuckoldry, have I? I guess Izzy the Infiltrator lost Edwin to another woman, but she also introduced them... And also was fucking around, actually. I guess I have, actually!
>>
>>5993621
>I don't think I've ever done cuckoldry, have I ?
I hope not, but then again I haven't read your other works, kek
>>
>>5993580
>>Follow them, but to attempt parley—you want to know what happened here, and what they know of the Ashurati
>Let the past remain in the past—Zi can keep her secrets
>>
>>5993580
>Let them scatter—you will meditate here, and search for clues as to what occurred and where the denizens of this place went

>Ask Zith-Zi about her past, and her sympathies
>Commiserate over lost former friends and allies over some alcohol
Maybe she’ll get a good cry in, if she cares enough about them. With any luck, Carazzi could sympathize and lend a shoulder to cry on.
>>
>>5993580
>Let them scatter—you will meditate here, and search for clues as to what occurred and where the denizens of this place went
>Let the past remain in the past—Zi can keep her secrets
>>
[Tonight's update will be late or absent, because I'm hanging with friends! it's an unexpectedly busy weekend in general, so there may be irregular update sin general until Tuesday.]
>>
>>5994629
Ok, no worries OP
>>
>>5994629
See you soon.
>>
>>5993585
>>5993610
>>5993612
>>5993713
>>5993746
>>5993802
“We can’t just let them leave,” you reason. “They might know where the Ashurati and the Trye Fey of this place have gone… Or been taken.”

“I thought that goblins couldn’t, like… Even SEE fairies” Costella, asks, looking between you and ZIth-Zi for confirmation.

“The Neme aint’t ‘True Fey’,” Ziy-Zi explains, beating even you to the punch. “They’re flesh ‘n blood, same as your or me. Or, more like Tips, I guess. They can dive down inta’ sand same as water, but apart from that, a net’ll catch ‘em just like anyone else.”

“...Oh.”

Costella obvious catches the implication in those words, just as you do: an implication of EXPERIENCE.

You nod, and add: “Elak-Rak… The hobgoblin, ah, down THERE… He mentioned something about a rod and a chest. It sounded as if he thought they’d be able to combat my <Improved Aethereal Form> with them. Zi, do you—”

“Nope.”

You shut your mouth. Zith-Zi isn’t looking at you, instead staring down at the retreating goblins.

‘I know where they’ll be ayin’ low,” she sighs, rolling her shoulder such that Hershy must flutter up and wait for her limbering-up to conclude before he settles once more. “There’s a ‘goblin market’—a big communal gathering place for us, or THEM I guess… They’ll be looking for safety in numbers. No need to rush—they’ll scatter, but goblins are small. Weak. It’s not their nature ta’ stay solo for long.”

“Apart from you, you mean?” you ask.

Zith-Zi looks at you with a sharp turn of her head. You sense that she wishes to makes some snappy comment in reply… But she can’t. Instead, she puts her hands on her hips, and looks back down at the Wastelands—where she was born where she grew up.

“Yeah,” she says. “I guess, apart from me.”

As you descend the cliffs of the forsaken and abandoned Ashurati enclave, you steal several glances at Zith-Zi. She is uncharacteristically contemplative, strangely silent. Hershy seems worried for her, poking his snout at her cheek repeatedly. She responds only by batting him away with (gentle) swats. Eventually, your party reaches the bottom, loading in preparation to pursue the pack of retreating raiders. As the others set about their tasks, you finally get her alone.

“Zi…”

“Oh?” she snaps. “You finally gonna’ spit out whatever-the-fuck you been stewin’ on, Tips?!”
>>
>>5994902
When you were younger, you might have stammered or flinched. When you weren’t as close with the pink-skinned little ‘nilbog’ rogue, you might have backed off, or taken offence and gone on the offensive. Now, as the two of you stand, you do neither. She glares at you. You meet her gaze. Eventually, Hershy croaks and breaks the silence, and Zith-Zi sighs. She breaks the staring contest first, staring down at the sandy scrub-brush scramble beneath your feet and kicking rocks with her stompy little boots.

“Did you sell my cousins into slavery?” you ask, quietly but directly.

Zith-Zi looks up at you with a manufactured defiance, which quickly crumbles.

“You don’t know what it’s like,” she says simply.

It isn’t an accusation: it’s a statement of fact, as she sees it.

“That’s a yes,” you intuit.

“DUH,” she replies, throwing her hands up. “Neme are fuckin’ RARE, and MAGIC, and BEAUTIFUL. You know how little exists in this big wide-open fuckin’ geological SHITHOLE they call the ‘Goblin’ Wastes that sells like those fuckers?! Either back to their own people, or to Eastmen, or to Southmen for their harems or whatever?!”

“You… You sold SEX-SLAVES?!”

Zith-Zi opens her mouth, then shuts it, then shrugs.

“Didn’t ask,” she admits. “Dark brown humie comes askin’ for a lithe piece a ‘ ass fro his boss down South, a girl makes assumptions.”

“So you aren’t even sure, but you THINK you were selling sex-slaves?” you ask, incredulous. “What ELSE did you do?”

“Oh, shall count the WAYS, my master?” Zi asks, sarcastic, and holds up a hand to count upon her digits. “I lied, and cheated, and stole, and swindled, and KILELD FOR MONEY, like I STILL fuckin’ do for the record but now the humies y it’s okay ‘cause I don’t kill anyone they KNOW, an’ I did all KINDS a’ shit! You wanna’ talk ‘sex-slavery’? What you think -I- never earned any coin on my fuckin’ knees, or on my back?!”

You are startled by this exclamation, and by the sheer venom and pain in it… And perhaps even more, but how quickly Zith-Zi shoves that all aside, and crosses her arm, grinning a mean, mirthless grin.

“You just don’t get it, Tips. I love ya’, I do, but you really fuckin’ DON’T get it. You CAN’T. You grew up, what, in some forest where the animals don’t even eat each -other without sayin’ please ‘n thank you 'n sorry-for-botherin'-ya'? Then you grew up in a LITERAL ivory-fuckin’-tower in the biggest, richest city in th’ world? Shacked up with the ARCHMAGE’S DAUGHTER? Made friend with a QUEEN? You're practically fuckin' ROYALTY!”
>>
>>5994904
“I’ve endured hardships as well,” you point out.

“Not like me,” the ex-goblin says. “I did what I had to. How do you think I know where they ran off to? I’ve been there, fleein’ Paladins, or Jihadis, or Wushi. Or other goblins! It’s life out here. You do what you gotta’. And no mater what you turn me into, or what colour my skin is, or if I’m ‘pretty’ or whatever…”

Her gaze drifts past you, and you follow it as she trails off. Both of you settle upon Carazzi: the embodiment of all teat Zith-ZI was, of all her darkness and ugliness, now so ignorantly innocent, and yet still savage, and deadly, and dangerous.

“A gob is a gob is a gob,” Zith-Zi mutters. "But what else are we s'posed to be, livin' in a place like this?"

Zith-Zi doesn’t meet your eyes. Perhaps she can’t.

Has your opinion of ZIth-Zi changed?
>Yes—you can’t view her the same way, knowing she’s killed, enslaved, and abused your fellow fair-folk for coin
>No—she’s still the same ZIth-Zi as ever, still your friend, and nothing will change that
>Write-in

Does it change your view towards the likes of Elak-rak and his minions?
>Your sympathy is increased
>your sympathy is decreased
>your sympathy is unchanged

>>5994904
>typo correction
*KILLED
*humies say it's okay
>>
>>5994908
>No—she’s still the same ZIth-Zi as ever, still your friend, and nothing will change that
When we met her, we already knew that theft, slavery and murder were things she most likely had done, althought the chance that she may have sold some to sex slavery is a little different. If I read that comment correctly, it implies she also had to sell her body a couple times as well, so she really was in a desperate situation.

>your sympathy is decreased
>>
>>5994908
>>No—she’s still the same ZIth-Zi as ever, still your friend, and nothing will change that
Well... relatively speaking, she's not that bad compared to the ones still here. She moved on.

>your sympathy is decreased
Rape and murder and slavery is business as usual in these parts. If we can't enforce our will through diplomacy, through mercy, then force it is.

am >>5993610
>>
>>5994908
>No—she’s still the same ZIth-Zi as ever, still your friend, and nothing will change that
>Hug her and apologize for bringing up her painful past- and let her know that this doesn’t change how much we care for her.
Maybe we can promote a redemption arc- have her free the fair-folk instead of enslaving them.
>your sympathy is decreased
A shitty situation- but how much of that is being contributed by them. Stirring the pot of a shit situation isn’t a solution, but continues the problem.
>>
>>5994908
>>No—she’s still the same ZIth-Zi as ever, still your friend, and nothing will change that
>your sympathy is unchanged
>>
>>5994908
>Yes—you can’t view her the same way, knowing she’s killed, enslaved, and abused your fellow fair-folk for coin
yo slavery is kinda messed up

>your sympathy is unchanged
>>
>>5994925
>>5994931
>>5994934
>>5995203
>>5995302

You reach out to hug Zith-Zi, but she takes a step back, looking genuinely confused.

“uh?”

“You… looked like you could sue it?” you suggest.

Zi stares at you for a seconds, then cracks up laughing. She keeps on laughing, and laughing, until everyone is staring at the two of you, and the nilbog is nearly doble over, actually crying with laughter. Hershy, annoyed at being s jostled, flutters away to alight upon a nearby spire-like stone protrusion. It’s now YORU turn to be confused.

“I’m sorry, Tips, it’s just… Holy shit!” Zith-Zi gasps for breath, wiping her eyes. “You really, REALLY don’t belong in this place.”

“I know,” you agree, frowning. “I don’t think anyone does. Rape, murder, slavery… A place where this is all just ‘normal’, that’s awful. And it makes awful people.”

Zith-Zi’s smile fades in her eyes and turns down at the edges.

“What?” she asks. “Like me?”

You shake your head, and smile.

“You, and Carazzi for that matter, you’ve grown beyond this place. You’ve made yourselves into something else.”

“YOU made us into something else, you mean,” Zi points out. “Kinda’ fuckin’ literally, in her case, huh?”

You shake your head, and point at her.

“You made tough choices to deal with a tough existence, but when you had the chance to get out of there, you did. And you didn’t go back to being like you were. That was all before I did anything with magic. Before you and Carazzi were separated, and when you were still 'together'.”

“Then what about all those gobs that are still here?” Zi asks. “What are we gonna’ do when we catch up with ‘em? Hug it out? You're cute, but you ain't THAT cute.”

You sigh and look in the general direction they fled. The terrain is not so flat and your position not so elevated that you could watch them scurry forever, all the way back to whatever hole they’re hiding in… But you’ll find them. You have many means to do so, after all, even if ZIth-Zi’s hunch is wrong. And when you get there…

“You made your choices, and they made theirs,” you say, with finality. “I’m not saying that life is fair out here, or that they had the same opportunities I’ve had, or even that YOU’VE now had… But they wouldn’t treat us gently. We can’t afford to do so with them. We’ll talk, but it’s on OUR terms, not theirs.”
>>
>>5995329
You gather your allies and discuss your plan. You’ll rest here, long enough to eat some of the food you brought and to recuperate your energies. You move down to the base of the small mountain, though, leaving the hobgoblin corpses where they lie, unburied. Eventually, you see buzzards swooping in to gather upon the peak. Even as his two mammalian heads each take their respective sustenance, Muffins watches them enviously as they feats upon the bounty you’ve provided.

“Hopefully not the first of many meals for them…”

“Huh?” Costella asks from beside you.

You fore a smile, and shake your head.

“It’s nothing.”

Once everyone is ready and packed up, you leave this once-hallowed place, which hopefully will be sacred against soon—if you can find those who lived and worshiped here, and save them from the cruel fate their captors might otherwise have in mind.

How will you track the goblins? What will you do when you get there?
>Let Zith-Zi be your group’s face—she knows how goblin raiders in this region operate, and how to haggle with them to buy the information (or people) you need
>You’ll go in loud, and make a statement—cast Daylight, Summon Elementals with Izzy, and assume Aetheral Form, and DEMAND the information or captives
>Stage a surprise atatck—only killing those who you ABSOLUTELY have to, but not shying away from the language of force which people here seem to understand best
>Under cover of night, with you in Aethereal form and Carazzi’s natural demonic abilities, you could probably evade even goblin darkvision and infiltrate the goblin market to liberate any prisoners…
>Write-in
>>
>>5995333
>Under cover of night, with you in Aethereal form and Carazzi’s natural demonic abilities, you could probably evade even goblin darkvision and infiltrate the goblin market to liberate any prisoners…
>>
>>5995333
>Under cover of night, with you in Aethereal form and Carazzi’s natural demonic abilities, you could probably evade even goblin darkvision and infiltrate the goblin market to liberate any prisoners…
>>
>>5995333
>Under cover of night, with you in Aethereal form and Carazzi’s natural demonic abilities, you could probably evade even goblin darkvision and infiltrate the goblin market to liberate any prisoners…
Neat plan and Cazzi's booty is only average anyway.
>>
>>5995333
>Let Zith-Zi be your group’s face—she knows how goblin raiders in this region operate, and how to haggle with them to buy the information (or people) you need
I’d rather not spend mana unnecessarily
>>
>>5995333
>You’ll go in loud, and make a statement—cast Daylight, Summon Elementals with Izzy, and assume Aetheral Form, and DEMAND the information or captives
>>
>>5995350
>>5995351
>>5995401
>>5995529
>>5995744
You discuss your plan with Carazzi along the way: that the two of you should slip in to scout the situation and, if possible, resolve it stealthily under cloak of night. Normally, the goblins’ darkvision would eliminate any advantage which night might provide, but the two of you are magical beings, with the means to elaborate upon simple stealth. You’ve already demonstrated that <Improved Aethereal Form> affords you a measure of invisibility from the goblinoid races, and as for Carazzi…

“I haven’t, uh, done anything like that before, ya’ know?” she laughs nervously.

“It should be part of the suite of abilities which a succubus possesses,” Izirina notes. “Mother’s private tomes on the subject mention that most demons have the ability to hide under cover of darkness to some degree, with succubi being among the most effective at suing that skill.”

Carazzi stares in half-comprehension, nodding along nervously as Izirina explains the general principles of magical darkness, and how it differs form the mundane sort: how it blocks light and negates it, rather than simply being its absence. You can tell very little of this is getting through to the demogoblin, and eventually a frustrated Zith-Zi interjects:

“Ya’ use your demon-magic automatically in practice. Can’t you just do that here, with this?”

Carazzi seems startled to be so directly addressed by her ‘sister’, who even now you’ve noticed rarely speaks to her except to give instructions or critique. Perhaps it’s a good sign for their relationship, that Zi’s taking an interest in how her ‘other half’ operates.

“That’s kinda’ just me going off of, uh… Feelings ‘n shit?” Carazzi says, sounding rather unsure of her ow explanation. “Like, someone starts feeling a certain way, or I start to feel a certain way, and then things just sort of…. Build up, and accelerate, and a kind of… Uhhh…”

“It’s intuitive,” you conclude. “Not conscious spellcraft on your part, but an automatic response. Like a reflex.”

“Y-yeah!” she says nodding along in relief. “That’s right.”

“Well, then try feelin’ like you don’t want to be seen,” Zith-Zi says confidently, crossing her arms beneath her chest and nodding sagely. “Simple as.”

“We can practice on the way there,” you say gently.
>>
>>5996044
Carazzi’s nerves seem to ease up a little, out of happiness to spend time with you if nothing else. It slows your progress somewhat, but with ZIth-Zi’s knowledge of the area and Muffins’ ability to scent tracks, slowing a few hours so that you and Carazzi can travel on foot and practice her stealth is no impediment you your mission. It DOES mean remaining awake all through the night and sleeping during the day, though. It’s a rhythm which doesn’t come naturally to you, and the <Daylight> spell is out-of-the-question if your purpose is to practice nocturnal infiltration, and at first it seems to be in vain.

“I can still see you,” you note.

“S-sorry!” she says. “I just… I can feel your eyes on me, an’… You know, you’re TIPS, and I LIKE when you’re payin’ attention ta’ me, so tryin to make it so I don’t WANNA” be seen or whatever is kinda’, I dunno’… Tough?”

Zith-Zi groans, running her fingers down her face and rolling her eyes up in exasperation.

“You’re embarrassing th’ hell out of us both with that shit, you know that?” the nilbog tells her demonic double. “I know -I- sure as fuck was never THAT fuckin’ needy. What the hell is wrong with—Hey, where’d she go?”

“…I’m, uh, right here,” Carazzi mumbles.

Though you can’t help but find Zith-Zi’s criticism over-harsh, it actually proves most useful: it is in Carazzi’s desire to avoid a tongue-lashing by her purified counterpart that she finally sinks into shadow, erecting a barrier of magical darkness that even succeeds in distorting your mage’s sense.

“All according to vrevohg,” Zith-Zzi brazenly lies, then clarifies: “’Vrevohg’ means ‘plan.’”

“Sure,” you reply, rolling your eyes.

You spend the day trying to force yourself to sleep, which you do in stops and starts, head resting upon Costella’s lap as she strokes your hair, attempting to soothe you into slumber in spite of the sun and your natural elven instincts. You DO appreciate the sensation, but you have to admit you’re not as well-rested as you could be when night again falls, and the so-called ‘goblin market’ approaches.
>>
Rolled 15, 17, 8 = 40 (3d20)

>>5996047
The markets in question is more like a moving fair: a great caravan, which roams hither and tither, rather than a fixed place upon the map.

“It’s always around this valley here, Zith-Zi explains, inscribing a crude map into the soft sand with her knife-tip. Different bands’ll set up shop at different areas of the valley, though ‘n depending what people are buyin’ and sellin’, and who the biggest buyers ARE, gobs’ll gather more ta’ one side or the other and everything’ll kinda’ gravitate to one corner.”

“So, like… Where would they be tonight?” Costella asks.

Zith-Zi frowns at her map, hands on hips, then throws them up into the air.

“Well, fuck, I’e been gone years now! How should I know? But, well, if I had ta’ guess..”

She stabs her knife down into the dirt, so that it stands up in place, and nods to it.

“Since trade between north ‘n south humies stopped, Southmen’ve been makin’ up the difference buyin’ shit off us. And if they took any Neme as slaves…”

“T…Then the Southmen will be eager to buy them,” you finish.

Zith-Zi nods, and you turn to Crazzi.

“Ready?”

“Uh, yeah!” she says. “Ready as I’ll ever be!”

“You’ll do fine,” Zith-Zi tells her. “You’d better. You’re reppin’ us both out there, after all.”

Carazzi gulps.

“Be careful, both of you!” Costella add, giving you a long squeeze.

Izirina shoves a seal-stamped envelope into your hand, just in case, which you stow in a pocket for a quick magical avenue of escape. After a quick pat of Muffins and convincing Veloz to stay put rather than following, you and your demogoblin creation descend into the valley.

In <Improved Aethereal Form>, you move somewhat faster, and without physical exhaustion—or, at least, with much less. You are not so swift or mobile as under the moon’s low gravity, though, and you are further forced to slow by Carazzi’s own pace: she IS short, after all, and hr little legs do not carry her as quickly over long distances as even your slight and unathletic frame. It is almost an hour before you catch sight of dim lights in the distance, though, and together you silently slip through the dusty, rocky plain towards them. Eventually, you come upon the goblin caravans of the market.

The goblin market lit up not for the vendors’ benefit but to better highlight their wares, and to provide a beacon for buyers. In keeping with Zith-Zi’s prediction, you do indeed see Southmen there—brownish human men, and ONLY males, in varying hues ranging from not much darker than Izzy to nearly as black as the Drow of the Dragon King’s entourage. The loom tall over the short, hunger-panged frames of the goblin-folk, who make up the majority of the bustling night-market, and who shriek and squawk in a patois of goblin-tongue and Southern trade-dialects, to advertise their offerings.

[Linguistics roll...]
>>
>>5996049

Carazzi (luckily for you) retained her knowledge of the goblin language from when she and ZIth-Zi were one. For your part, you and Izirina used to occasionally read annotated books of poetry and half-fanciful travelogues of the Southlands, in your time together between classes. She was always more fond of the Orientalist accounts, admittedly… But you remember enough to get by.

>17
“Fine fabrics! Come here, under the light—see the colour, the craft? Barely any sun damage, 10% off if you can find a blemish!”

“Weapons! Armour! Lightly-used weapons and armour! Too big for gobs, and their old owners are too dead to miss ‘em! All weapons must go!”

“Exotic animals, alive and dead! Beasts of burden! Livestock! Weird and wonderful curiosities, perfect for a pet with only a bit of discipline! Deals on whips and cages!”

You frown at that last one, momentarily distracted by the thought of mistreated animals in need of liberation, but Crazzi tugs upon your sleeve to regain your attention, and points towards one array of parked, planted caravans from which you hear the crier shout:

“Get yourself a girl! Humies, gobs, and sundry others! Buy yourself a boy! Strapping slaves of all sorts! Good workers with strong backs! Hidden gems of the desert, rough-but-beautiful!”

That grim sales-pitch sounds like a promising place to start, and so the two of you skirt around the outskirts of the market, hidden amidst the shadows cast by moon above and the goblins’ own torchlight. Unfortunately, as you draw near, two complications arise and become apparent in short order:
>>
>>5996058
Firstly, though some human and goblin slaves are displaying, tied to one-another in a row by rope, none are Neme-Ashurati, but rather an assortment of Northern and Eastern men and women in varying states of defeated fatigue, as well as some (generally female, and to your admittedly-untrained eye distressingly youthful) goblins. There is a tent erected behind then, though—or rather, several tents assembled into a single great complex. Their entrance and exit flaps part and flutter closed as buyers and sellers enter and exit, sometimes accompanied by bound and bowed—or browbeaten and bullied—slaves, including beastmen and other more exotic affair than those outside. If any Ashurati are here, it is inside of that panoply of tents, hidden from view, where you would need to risk close proximity to the slavecatchers and their weapons to retrieve them.

Which brings you to the second complication: there are not only the common green-skinned goblins here, but more of their hobgoblin masters. At first you took them for more human buyers, but as you draw nearer and see them by the dim torchlight, you recognize their orange-tinted skin, large ears, and reflective, predatory eyes gleaming greedily. They are well-equipped than their shorter subordinates, as Elak-Rak and his fellows were, and you can tell they are on high-alert. You see scurrying amongst the (non-enslaved) labourers several faintly-familiar green faces, bruised and battered purple, and realize that some of those whom you pursued to this place arrived ahead of you, and must have alerted their ‘bosses’ to be on alert in case you came calling.

What will you do?
>Stay at the outskirts and wait until the market breaks apart and moves on—it will require a prolonged stake-out, but make for an easier target if you wish to free specific slaves and quickly escape
>You cannot wait, and risk detection or complication—you are not yet seen, and together you should be able to sneak into the collection of tents and find where they keep the more peculiar ‘product’, such as beastmen and (perhaps) fairies
>You are incensed by this abominable practice, and resolved to free ALL the slaves… If you can only arrange some chaos to enable their mass liberation and escape into the wastes…
>Write-in
>>
>>5996059
>You are incensed by this abominable practice, and resolved to free ALL the slaves… If you can only arrange some chaos to enable their mass liberation and escape into the wastes
>>
>>5996059
>You see scurrying amongst the (non-enslaved) labourers several faintly-familiar green faces, bruised and battered purple, and realize that some of those whom you pursued to this place arrived ahead of you, and must have alerted their ‘bosses’ to be on alert in case you came calling.
They really threw away goodwill before we even extended it to them. Oh well. Total Gob Death it is.

>You cannot wait, and risk detection or complication—you are not yet seen, and together you should be able to sneak into the collection of tents and find where they keep the more peculiar ‘product’, such as beastmen and (perhaps) fairies
We’re not really equipped to deal with an entire market. Izzy might be. Get in, find the fairies, get out - preferably without needing Izzy’s teleportation letter. We can call in more firepower later.
>>
>>5996059
>You cannot wait, and risk detection or complication—you are not yet seen, and together you should be able to sneak into the collection of tents and find where they keep the more peculiar ‘product’, such as beastmen and (perhaps) fairies.

There are too many people here to be starting a ruckus, and they might bring to bear ,magical equipment (like "the rod, and the chest") to counter us if we wait.
>>
>>5996059
>You cannot wait, and risk detection or complication—you are not yet seen, and together you should be able to sneak into the collection of tents and find where they keep the more peculiar ‘product’, such as beastmen and (perhaps) fairies
as much as I wanted, freeing the slaves now wouldn't amount to much and we still haven't seen what we wanted, so searching it is.
>>
>>5996047
If I had a nickel each time I saw this meme in this board this week, I'd have 2 nickels.
Which isn't a lot, but it's weird that it happened twice.
>>
>>5996059
>>You cannot wait, and risk detection or complication—you are not yet seen, and together you should be able to sneak into the collection of tents and find where they keep the more peculiar ‘product’, such as beastmen and (perhaps) fairies

Am >>5995203
>>
>>5996305
>>5996077
>>5996099
>>5996107
>>5996218
You deeply despise what you see and hear of this place, and if your sympathies for the goblins here were not already utterly depleted, this would have served to do so. It is difficult to reconcile any notion of these beings as victims of circumstance with the atrocity of slavery—perhaps especially of their own kind. In spite of this though—and with a heavy heart—you must leave these people to their fate.

“We ain’t freein’ ‘em?” Crazzi whispers.

You shake your head, and signal for the demogoblin to cover your approach. Unique among the goblinfolk (well, semi-uniquely, if ‘the other Zi’ or Testa count), Carazzi can see you in this form, being partly a product of your own fairy ritual-magic. Now she shrouds you in a cloak of deep darkness, as together you wait for just the right moment to creep closer, and to slip beneath the cloak of canvas to peer into the inner-workings of the slave operation.

Once inside, you find it surprisingly difficult to navigate. The tents have been aligned so that you must progress through a haphazard network of entrances and exits, sometimes catching glimpses of moonlight and starlight where a gap exists between them. Many are empty—perhaps most. You wonder if these are meant to serve as ‘viewing rooms’, or perhaps (as you speculate without joy or titillation) a place to ‘sample’ the merchandise, as sexual slavery is clearly still a part of this deplorable business-model. Once or twice, you are force to press close together against the interior wall of a tent, holding your breaths, as goblins pass you, en route to the outside or to another tented chamber. Eventually, though, you make your way to an ‘inner core’ of tents.

Here, the noise of voices and scent of unwashed, sweaty bodies tip you off to a concentrated presence of captives and attendants. You press your finger to your lips, a reminder for Carazzi to stay silent. Within her magical darkness, you cannot tell if she has nodded, and so you must simply trust in her ability to follow instruction… And enter.

Here, the majority of capital investment in the enterprise is concentrated as well: cages to hold larger numbers of captive, and proper chains to bind them. As before, the majority of those held here are humans (and halflings or gnomes, you note) of both sexes, though primarily female as well. From their physical condition, you gather these to be most likely ‘prized specimen’s, for they are largely comely of feature. They are left with water dishes, like something one might leave for a dog, and a few have small wooden trays upon which a paucity of food has been provided. Of particular interest, however, are those who are neither human nor goblin, but OTHER.
>>
>>5996321
You see a minotaur—the only one who you have ever seen in-person, though you have heard they are more common in the Southlands. He is large, broad of chest, with a wide span of horn crowning his bovine head, and deep, sad eyes. So too you see some spotted creature, bipedal but presently pacing in ape-like loping posture, breathing heavily and drooling ravenously, back hunched and—occasionally—chuckling unhappily at some private gallow’s humour. Each of these strong specimens is well-secured with chains in their bespoke cages. Another cage holds three smallish, feathered women with wings upon their backs and wide, staring eyes—blank of apparent intelligence to your quick inspection, and without any apparent drive to escape; their feet are clawed and bound together, and, apparently lacking hands, they have no means to remove the gags placed in their mouths.

…And there, near to them, is a single Neme, or Ashurati, clad in the tight-fitting and sparse clothing which allows them to ‘swim’ throughs and earth. The sand elf’s confines are accordingly unique—rather than standing upon bare earth, this captive’s cage has a metal bottom, forbidding them egress from below. You take this to be a male, though the Neme are lithe even for fair folk and this one is young. He glares out of his pale eyes, silently fuming and furious, and fidgeting as if in physical discomfort to be so isolated form the earth, and stepping gingerly as if too much contact with the metal might burn him.

Carazzi cannot take the two of you too close, not without risking discovery. The space is dark, but not pitch-black, as torches have been ensconced atop poles to provide fire-light for visitors to see by. None are currently within, though. There are no dark-skinned humans in sight, only the ‘staff’ of this abhorrent enterprise, the goblins cleaning cages with brooms, providing food and retrieving dishes, (rarely) responding to some enslaved individual’s complaint, or (more commonly) threatening one of them or jabbing at them with blunted spear to silence them. Overseeing these half-dozen small goblins are a pair of hobgoblins—a male and a female.
>>
>>5996322
The male wearing fairly fine silk swathes and turbans in the style of the Southeast, and the female clad in leather jacket and patched of metal-studded black, leather armour that resemble the attire of that ‘Elak-Rak’ whom you and Izirina slew. The male holds in his hands a rather peculiar thing—a magical device, you quickly ascertain—in the shape of, well, a glyph-marked, colour-ringed brass rod. This is THE rod, you assume, which Elak-Rak had hoped to fetch, and is seated upon what you speculate to be ‘the chest’. This chest appears to be a squarish construction of metal-rimmed wood, painted a red-purple hue; to your mage’s sense, it is almost VOID of magic, blacker than Carazzi’s magical darkness.

The female hobgoblin, for her part, seems unarmed, and yet is easily on higher-alert of the two, eyes constantly scanning the two entrances in to this largest of tents. Her eyes pass over two of you, and you hear Carazzi gasp as they linger for a moment… Before moving on. Carazzi sighs in relief, and you’d be lying if you claimed you did not do likewise; you sense something formidable in that one.

You haven’t been noticed yet, but a patch of moving darkness will draw much more attention here than a still one, which can easily be passed off to the magically-dull senses of the goblinfolk as a trick of the light if nothing tips them off. Your <Improved Aethereal Form> does not REQUIRE darkens sot hide itself, though interaction with physical objects could momentarily expose you, and you aren’t sure what the rod and chest might mean for you.

What will you do?
>Separate from Carazzi and creep closer to the Ashurati captive, to quietly converse with him and learn more, and break loose of the beastman captives [which one?], as a distraction and possibly ally in combat
>Stage an attack upon the hobgoblins and these smaller, greener kin, to liberate all within this tent [specify if you have an opening spell or target in mind]
>Leave for now—you have what info you need to plan an attack with your other allies
>Write-in
>>
>>5996047
>“All according to vrevohg,” Zith-Zzi brazenly lies, then clarifies: “’Vrevohg’ means ‘plan.’”
well memed zz

>>Separate from Carazzi and creep closer to the Ashurati captive, to quietly converse with him and learn more, and break loose of the beastman captives [which one?], as a distraction and possibly ally in combat
Get what info we can, watch the hob with the items - if he ever puts the rod down steal that shit
>>
>>5996323
>Separate from Carazzi and creep closer to the Ashurati captive, to quietly converse with him and learn more
Don't liberate anyone until we have more info
>>
>>5996323
>Separate from Carazzi and creep closer to the Ashurati captive, to quietly converse with him and learn more, and break loose the beastman captives Minotaur, as a distraction and possibly ally in combat
he's the only one who could do something to them. the spotted creature is a mystery box and the harpies are useless in this case.
>>5996341
remember to vote for a beastman, anon
>>
also I'm surprised we got another doot soon. I assume is to make up for the missing one yesterday.
>>
>>5996356
I wanted to talk to the Ashurati before making my choice
>>
>>5996356
+1

Make a deal with the minotaur. He helps us get the neme out, deal with those gobs, we will get him out.

>>5996099
>>
Rolled 1 (1d20)

>>5996538
>>5996356
>>5996346
>>5996341
“Stay here,” you whisper to Carazzi.

The shadows shifts lightly as you leave her side, as if she wants to follow you… But she stays put, a you request. You advance, alone. Hidden from mundane sight, and treading gingerly even so, you size up the minotaur. The massive beastman is a rime candidate to free, to create the chaotic conditions necessary for liberation. So, too, does your gaze linger upon the rod which the male hobgoblin clutches covetously, and which you in turn desire. Your curiosity and moral impulsivity do not get the better of you, though. Your wandering eyes eventually settle on the prize—or, at least, the first of many objectives here.

As you advance, the captive Ashurati seems to recognize you—or, at least, to recognize you as his kin, and a trespasser her. Delight and relief wash across his foreign features, but he is wise enough—even in his youth—to celebrate silently, so as not to draw undue attention.

“Do you understand the Sylvantongue?” you ask hopefully.

“Well enough,” he answers, whispering in the strangely-accented local dialect of elven-speech. “How do youc oem to be here? Are you of the spirits, the True Fey?”

(Ah, yes, your form…)

“Something like that,” you answer. “Not quiet, but it isn’t important right now. How did you come to be here?”

“Is it not obvious?” the young Ashurati asks, despairingly, gazing down at the cage, and then glaring at the hobgoblins.

“Yes, you admit. “What I meant, though, was HOW? How did you get captured? And what happened to the others—the other Neme, or the spirits upon your mountain?”

“You have been to the Westmost Basin of the Sacred Sands?” he asks.

“Twice, technically,” you say. “I’m a friend of Nemenmo, if you know her?”

The young Neme shrugs, and explains: “Nemenmo is a very common name, for women of the Neme. It means ‘beloved of the Neme’.”

(Well, that checks out, etymologically…)

“The others fought, and killed or fled when the battle was lost,” the young Neme admits, cringing at the shame of it. “And the spirits, our True Fey ancestors and kin…”

You follow the subtle tilt of his chin to the male hobgoblin again.

“The rod and the chest?”

He nods.

“What are they?” you ask.

“The rod is a weapon, which allowed them to pull into this world that which exists between worlds,” he says. “And the chest… the chest is where they are kept, which have been bound.”

Stealth, untrained, of this sneaky little conversation. DC 10, so your subtlety and aethereality.
>>
>>5996636
Your eyes widen. Those sound like powerful artefacts—doubly-so if a painfully unmagical being like a hobgoblin can use them! It also makes the hobgoblins a grave risk, even to the likes of you, in this form. You have more questions, of course—how it can be aimed without being able to see the spirits, the mechanisms by which it works and how many it may target at once, and more…

>1

…But before you can ask them, you are answered rather more directly than you would like. Which is to say, you feel a bolt of splitting agonizing pain, and fall upon the ground.

“You’re right,” you hear the male hobgoblin say to his female companion, as startled goblin screech in alarm and scatter from where you have suddenly appeared before them. “He WASN’T just talking to himself.”

“Fucking told you, didn’t I?” his female companion says, producing her blade—which shines red with an activated magic, faintly unwholesome in its nature—even now, you think you recognize it as a demonic enchantment of some sort. “You never fucking listen, Graz-Gab.”

“Alright, alright, I’m hearing you now,” he replies, as he approaches you, the now-glowing rod levelled at you, and its glyphs alight, while the coloured bands pulsate in a repetitive rhythm, radiating from base to tip as he gives you a prod with a sandaled, gnarly-nailed foot. “What have we here? Some pale elf?”

“Looks like a Northern mercenary, if you ask me,” the female sneer, finally switching from the gobbling language to a broken Common. “You, pretty little boy, you some adventurer boy? Gone a bit too far away from home, have you? Mama Skekz-Gab will take good care of you…”

“You get the FUCK away from him!”

Both the hobgoblins’ attention—and that of their freshly re-panciked entourage of green goblins—turns to the corner, where the magical darkness flares out in a strange pulse of un-light and reveals Carazzi, misshapen and jagged teeth bared in a monstrous sneer, yellow eyes aglow and trimmed with red, chest heaving with fear and fury and hands extended into truly wicked talons worthy of a fiend from The Seven Hells Below.

“Shit, there’s two of them?” the male hobgoblin—Grz-Gab—yelps, taking a step back, eyes darting between you and Carazzi.

“Really?” the female, Skekz-Gab, asks. “You think they’re together? Seems like an odd couple to me.”

The momentary distraction of Carazzi’s appearance and the pointless debate which follows offers you just enough time to croak out a single word—albeit not to do much else. You feel frozen in place, paralyzed utterly and completely by whatever power the rod holds.

What will you say?
>”Help!”
>”Run!”
>”Minotaur!”
>Something else [one word only]
>>
>>5996650
>”rod.”
I’m not sure if Carazzi can free the minotaur in time.

>>5996538
>>
>>5996636
>Rolled 1 (1d20)
Aiiie mercy slaver sama

>>5996650
>”Minotaur!”
Guess we gotta gamble
>>
>>5996650
>”Minotaur!”
gambiling time. kinda funny that we got our crit fail in the lowest dc in this thing. I assume a regular failure would just be getting wounded and not barely incapacitated.
>>
>>5996707
[The rod just works that way when [REDACTED], regardless of degree of success. On a regular failure, you would have been spotted but had a chance to react before the rod was activated.]
>>
>>5996716
I see, so touching us would be the same result regardless of his degree of success. What a nasty thing for gobs and hobbos to have.
>>
>>5996650
>”Minotaur!”
>>
Rolled 11, 14, 3, 10 = 38 (4d20)

>>5996676
>>5996699
>>5996707
>>5997330
“Minotaur!”

“Huh?” Carazzi replies. “The fuck is a—Oh!”

You’re grateful that the demogoblin has the good sense to follow your gaze, even in her current state, because explaining any further is beyond you. Even croaking out those few syllables was almost more than you could manage. This rod is truly a nasty thing for hobgoblins to have, so potent as it seems to be. The sheer totality of your paralysis, and your uncertainty as to how it works, is exactly why you did not direct Carazzi to snatch the rod instead of freeing the bull-man—if it is turned on her, you don’t know what effect it might have! Now, you can only hope she succeeds in the mission you have assigned her instead.

You desperately try to crane your neck as the split ‘hooves’ of your demonic goblin companion strike the sand, propelling her forwards. Up close like this, with your face in the dirt and gravel, they really only superficially resemble hooves—really, they are more like two-pronged paws with large, black nails, like a spider’s paw warped grown huge. Soon, they are gone again from your sight, and you hear chaotic cries, signalling frantic action just outside your line of sight:

“No you don’t, you little bitch!”

“Stop her! If I take the rod off of him—”

“She’s going for the fucking minotaur! That must be the word he said, in the north-speak!”

“Well stop her, then! What do I pay you for?!”

“I pay you, you—augh!”

The two voices of the argumentative hobgoblins are quickly drowned out by the cries of slaves, and of the other goblins, until you cannot make out particulars, except…

2d20 for Carazzi's effort, DC 12 due to the element of surprise and the chaos

2d20 for the female hobgoblin's attack against her
>>
>>5997720
>14 for Carazzi

…A deep, booming bellow, almost absurdly like the booming ‘moo’ of a cow but for the savage rumble underlying it, and the way its shapes itself into what you perceive as a WORD, albeit not one you know.

“Oh fuck. Well don’t just stand there you little green shits, restrain him!”

You see a few goblins scamper past you, launching themselves into battle with whatever crude armaments they can muster. A moment later, several of them as send flying, flailing in panic or limp in their unconsciousness, as another bovine groan shakes the tent.

But where is Carazzi? You find yourself earing for her, having not so much as heard a peep from the little green woman. She clearly succeeded in freeing the minotaur, but could she have been hurt in the process?

>10 for Skeks-Gab

“Oof!”

You hear the male hobgoblin let out a grunt of pain, and abruptly the pain flooding through you abates. The stiffness in your limbs lets up in that same instance, your locked joints so limb that you actually struggle to rise even now, as if your whole body is too loose, your bones rubbery and flesh fluid. It’s like being drunk, or overdosed on shirin, or both—normally an experience you actually sort of enjoy, but not one you can afford to indulge in right now.

Luckily, Carazzi is right there, with uncanny strength in her small frame to help lift you up and support your weight.

“Eeeasy does it, Tips,” she says. “You okay? What happened? No offence, but you went down faster than I’d go down on a… Well, anyway, real quick!”

“The rod,” you croak out. “Did you get the rod? It… It stunned me. I was helpless.”

“I tripped the hobbo fucker holdin’ it, but things are getting’ a bit hectic up in this shit, so I didn’t, like… No, I didn’t grab it. I’m sorry!”

Carazzi is right, after all: the tent has developed into a melee, with the liberated minotaur, swinging a goblin by the ankle like a flail to smack about others. The female hobgoblin, Skekz-Gab, is occupied attempting to strike at his limbs, clearly still hoping to hobble him for future sale rather than to kill him outright. The other prisoners of these slavers are banging upon their bars now, crying for freedom,… Including the Neme male who you had been speaking with when you were struck down by the rod’s power.

And speaking of the rod, its owner is clambering even know to his hands and feet, and scrambling to retrieve the item. He is seconds away from retrieving the mysterious magical device and turning it upon you again… But he is also no longer guarding the chest which had served as a seat for him before the fracas broke out ,and which apparently contains the ensnared elemental fey allies of the Neme-Ashurati, captured upon their holy hill.