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426019 No. 426019 ID: c44286

Chapter IX

Queen of Hearts

This is the story of Tiffany Kinsley.

Tiffany suffered some unexpected consequences from binding the Cimmerian to herself. A seed of daemonic essence made it's nest in her soul, and began devouring her. With a little help from her tutor, she bested the beast within and made it her own. Only time will tell how it has changed her.

Tiffany is still without a master. Her lack of knowledge and training leaves her vulnerable, and without a master her standing in the clan is precarious at best. It is hard to tell which is more dangerous.

It's time to begin.
Expand all images
No. 426020 ID: c44286
File 134067202787.png - (385.22KB , 800x600 , 629.png )


Gareth grinned behind his mask.

>Gareth: "Royal flush baby!"


>Gareth: "You wound me, dear lady."

"You know what we do to cheaters in America?"

>Gareth: "Did you see me cheat?"

"Well, no-"

>Gareth: "So I didn't cheat."

>Mulder: "I got'ya beat!"

The bird drops a handful of cards into a heap on the table.

>Gareth: "That's not a winning hand, mate."

>Mulder: "Whatcha mean? An ace is higher than king, so I win right?"

Tiffany let out a sigh as Gareth and Mulder started to bicker about the rules. She looked out of the window across the rainy landscape.

They'd come back from the hospital late last night. Dad was doing better today, to hear him tell it. It might have something to do with the "tasty meds" he was on, but at least he's not hurting. She'd promised to call him every day, and Owen had promised to take her for a visit whenever she wanted to. It was comforting, but there was a lot to be done.

It's dangerous to be without a master. Every day I waste without training is putting me and everyone around me at risk. And I need someone to teach me how to behave here, I don't think I can rock the boat any more for a while.

What kind of a master should I try to get, though? And how to go about getting one?
No. 426025 ID: b85f8c

One you can confide in. Someone lax about the rules and willing to teach you how to fight and do magic on the fly. Flexibility should be important for you, because you've got ALL of the power.

Also ask if Gareth knows about interacting with your own hufashwatsit while meditating. Is that something mages do?
No. 426032 ID: c3c502


Wouldn't it be easier to look at things from the other way? How many potential masters are available? I imagine not many since we're past the usual selection point. Make a list, and then we weed out one with qualities we like.

But yeah, flexibility seems important. We don't need reckless, but rigid orthodoxy would be a problem for you at this point.
No. 426067 ID: a2fa74

You've got great talent with rituals and runes, so find somebody who can help you develop that.
Plus you can ask Joyce to teach you stuff on the side.
No. 426124 ID: a3b384

Which masters would help us make the most of our top tier understanding and over the top spark?

I sorta want to say Balian, if he were offering. Nice enough guy, and with some authority. Maybe not one I'd trust with that Book of ours, but none of them really are.
No. 426126 ID: 431fa8

Honestly, I'd say go right for Joyce. The fact is, we need to learn how to fight things and she's great for that; we need to get the hell away from the politics of this island and the vultures of a council and she's good for that; and we need someone who we can play for sympathy, and we've seen evidence already that she's good for that too. Perhaps not ideal for learning advanced magical theory or reading ancient languages, but there's more to life than that and hopefully we can make up the difference in power.
No. 426131 ID: a3b384

Oh and another thing, back when we dealt with the bit of demon in Tiffs head:
>The Cimmerian: "If you do, you would absorb it's power. This is a rare opportunity. You would be able to see magic as we do, and in time learn to use it like we do. You could wield power others can only dream about.."
What field goes well with that?
No. 426239 ID: 223190

kick everyone's ass at poker to show 'em how it's done.
No. 426288 ID: c44286

Now that I'm caught up. . .

I'm not so sure Joyce is the best answer for a Master, though it'd certainly be good to have her on our side, maybe have her teach a few tips.

I think looking into learning some of the ancient languages would be, in the long term, the most helpful thing. Then you could read on your own, and could even read The Book of the Dead, which could prove to be a great asset.

Of course, there is the chance of trying to get a blessing from Hakuman the Dreamer, perhaps the ability to read the languages without all that pesky studying, but it would probably have another cost.

I agree on that point. We've only really been shown two potential Masters: Hakun and Joyce. I'd prefer to see all the options first. As for more info about the other potential Masters - how many, what kinds of skills and the like.
No. 426386 ID: c44286
File 134075029497.png - (99.53KB , 800x600 , 630.png )

So... What makes a good master?
Someone I can trust, who doesn't want me dead, someone who can teach me stuff I need.

A good master wouldn't be too strict about rules and things, I got a feeling that could be trouble. I need someone more... flexible. Yeah, flexible.

And I should probably play my strengths, try to get a master who can teach me how to use my best talents.

Hmm. I should probably make a list of some kind.


Well that's pretty much all older wizards I know who might do.

Well, she's trustworthy, probably not too strict. Could teach me how to fight and hunt monsters and things, probably impromptu magic too. Not too heavy on the books, which could be an issue.

Again, trustworthy. He could probably teach me all about history and ancient magic and languages and things. Ritual casting, too. I'd have to stay on Bardsey though, and I'm not too happy about that.

Dunno if he'd take me. He could teach me how to make my own weapons and equipment, and probably how to use em better. And I hear he's also monstrously strong. Is that a word? Monstrously? Well he might know how to make the best use of my spark.

He's a bit of a mystery so far. I suppose being able to summon spirits and daemons to do my bidding might be useful, but I dunno. I think I've got my share of daemons for a while.

Dunno. I think he might have taken a liking to me, but somehow I doubt he'd take someone like me as an apprentice. Appearances, you know. First speaker, half-Rothwald runt. Doubt it. He'd probably be an excellent master otherwise.

Again, dunno. I don't really know her either. She'd probably do fine if she would take me, but she didn't sound too keen on the idea.

Did I leave anyone out?

If I don't go for Joyce, maybe she'd teach me to fight on the side?
No. I mean, she probably would, but she's away from Bardsey a lot. Training to fight requires a lot of work, doesn't it?

Ugh, who to choose, who to choose...

Oh, maybe I should ask Gareth if it's normal for mages to visualize their Haftsusha while medita-

>Gareth: "Give that back you wanker!"

>Mulder: "ACK! MURDER!"

Yeah maybe not.
No. 426394 ID: a3b384

It isn't much of a list, really. Let's see Balian about this first, even if the answer is no he may have other, more informed suggestions for who to meet. People worthy of our trust, perhaps even a respectable non-conformist. He can understand us wanting to stay clear of certain kinds of close minded folk.
No. 426400 ID: b85f8c

You left out someone.

The Cimmerian. He knows magic, is available, and is trustworthy in that he will not fuck you over. He'll probably fuck WITH you but he knows he has to work with you too.

He wouldn't be an official Master, of course, but he could fill you in on things your current master is lacking. Like bookishness.

I say Joyce/Cimmerian, despite that potentially being a massive powderkeg.
No. 426407 ID: a3b384

Somehow I don't think the clan is going to approve of that one. Not that it matters, we have the benefit of his teaching no matter what else we do. I get the feeling Joyce is going to be around as well, probably be assigned to keep an eye on Cimmy.
No. 426437 ID: 431fa8

The Cimmerian is going to act as an add-on to whatever master we have as our Kinsley teacher. He can't be our primary teacher because if our demon magic is stronger than our Kinsley magic it will devour our soul, and he has to be our secondary teacher because if we totally neglect it then it'll probably devour our soul too. The fact that we need that is part of what makes it essential that we get a master willing to bend the rules.

I hadn't even considered him, but since he's been brought up I'd try for this guy first. He'll probably turn us down, based on his attitudes when we met him before, but it's worth a shot because we could almost certainly learn an incredible amount from him. He's extremely powerful and respected, seems like enough of a crotchety bastard that he should be able to get anyone else messing with you to piss off if you get on his good side, and he's in a position to give us a very good grounding in both artifice and more general magic. Knowledge of certain ancient languages that we'd need to read our book would almost certainly be involved.

Joyce would almost certainly accept us and could give us an excellent educational grounding in everything practical that we need to know, which is great. The lack of book learning is unfortunate but not a flaw critical enough to drop her from second place... particularly since I think out of all these people, she'd have the best odds in the long term of letting us grow up sort of happy.

Trustworthy and a great guy; we'd learn a hell of a lot from him, and probably learn enough ancient languages that we could study a certain tome on our own time and actually get a good handle on advanced necromancy. Staying on the island isn't great, but it does mean easy access to the clan archives- a potentially priceless asset during our education. I'd look to him if the first two fall through, and he won't let us down. If we get apprenticed to either of the others we should be able to maintain a good relationship with Duncan each time we come back to visit the island, at least.

He's a possible, but I'm not a fan based on what we've seen of him so far.

>Balian, Imanye
Those politico schemers? Hell no. They would never prioritize our education and future over the good of the clan and would be more than willing to treat us as a disposable tool to achieve their goals. We need to stay away from them, not get closer. I'd take Balian over Imanye if it comes down to it, though.
No. 426477 ID: c3c502


I support this analysis. Cain, Joyce or Duncan.

It would be really great if any of them were actually interest in studying (with) and learning from the Cimmerian. It would be nice to have another human mage involved in project demon magic understanding- and not someone we'd have to hide it from.

Er, he's sort of got a rapport with Joyce? At the least, they're both fighters, and he'd be of use if we go hunting with her.
No. 426701 ID: 223190

considering how dangerous this all can be, I suggest you take on someone who does know a bit about the booky stuff. probably Duncan.
No. 426779 ID: 89fdbb

Caine, Joyce, and Duncan are all good choices. Regardless of which we pick, it would be good to stay on good terms with the other two in the hopes of learning from them. Going with Joyce would probably be the most fun, and apart from issues with library access, I think spending a lot of time away would be wise. On the other hand, what we could learn from her is less valuable than what we could learn from the other two. A solid grounding in languages would exponentially increase what we could research on our own (although we might be able to get a grounding with any of them) and magical artifacts could be made for those sudden cases for which impromptu magic would be good, and it has additional utility as well.

For now, I think we should try to meet with Cain, to get a better idea of how willing he is, and of whether there are upsides or downsides to him with which we are unfamiliar.
No. 428384 ID: c44286
File 134127948491.png - (236.15KB , 600x800 , 631.png )

I'm guess I'll cross out the politicos. I'm already up to my neck in that stuff.

Hakun I don't really know, plus I'm not really interested in learning summoning.

That leaves Cain, Joyce and Duncan.

Joyce and Duncan I might be able to talk into it. Cain is a mystery.

I better go and scout him out a bit, see if he's open to the idea at all.

"Hey guys, I'm going out for a bit, don't kill each other or burn down the house while I'm gone."

>Gareth: "I promise nothing!"

"Don't make the evening news, at least."

Tiffany had some time to make up a plan as she trod through the rain-soaked island. How should she approach Cain?
No. 428387 ID: 72d49b

If he's working, maybe try asking if she can watch? If not, maybe asking an innocuous question or two.
No. 428420 ID: c3c502

Hrm. I kind of got the impression he's the kind of guy who hates to be interrupted when's he's working. But then again, he seemed the kind of driven person who would probably stay in his workshop, toiling late into the night. So that may be hard to avoid.

Possibly a good angle of approach is to ask about the repairs on the glow-stick you broke. Take an interest in responsibility for your own mistake, and paying proper respect to your tools. He'll probably still be annoyed that you broke it, and bothered him, but he might appreciate your attitude. You might even get an impromptu lesson out of it, if he feels like explaining more technically what you did wrong, or how the repairs are progressing.
No. 428458 ID: 431fa8

Let's recap what we know about Cain. We have encountered him on two occasions.

On the first occasion (>>/questarch/193054), he expressed unwillingness to take an apprentice, describing prospectives as "snot-faced morons". It would be unwise to bring the topic up with him before we've talked to him long enough that we think we've earned a bit of his respect on our own merits, so that we are no longer tarred with that brush. Likewise, it would be unwise to grow emotional and cry around him- that might make us snot-faced, and anyway as a hard-bitten type himself he would probably respect our attempts, however childish, to act tough ourselves.

He seemed to respond better to us when Thomas was mentioned, and when we said that we fought off a wraith with the lance he seemed to forgive our having damaged it- or at least stop blaming us for it. He was also willing to answer a couple questions about the lance, perhaps because the artifact "liked" us. I wouldn't want to bank all our hopes on any one of those, but combined they do seem to imply that he got a generally positive impression of us.

This is reinforced by the second occasion (>>/questarch/279841), when he came to our rescue when we were being threatened by Inquisitor Kenric. That's quite a thing to ask of anyone- Owen warned us against confronting Inquisitors shortly thereafter- and we didn't even solicit his help; it was given freely. His relationship with Kinric as observed there, by the way, implied to me that as Cain's apprentice very few people would be willing to fuck with us just because Cain is so essential to their operations- anyone with an artifact needs to stay on the master artificer's good side.

The second meeting gives us our initial angle of approach: We owe Master Cain our very sincere thanks for coming to our assistance when Kenric was trying to have us interrogated. Regardless of whether the apprenticeship thing goes through or not, we do owe him that. At a guess he'll brush off our thanks, but it's important that we offer them anyway.

From there, we have two fairly neutral topics that we can neutrally segue into: First, expressing concern about Thomas' lance and hopes that he was able to repair it fully. Second, asking him about Benez├ęt's Shackles, since the council told him to modify them so that they can murder us instantly if necessary.

Hopefully once we've gotten through that we'll have a better feel for how we can get to our pitch for taking us as an apprentice.
No. 429164 ID: c44286
File 134146404597.png - (117.16KB , 600x800 , 632.png )

>Guard: "Halt! Who goes there?"

"Tiffany of Bardsey."

>Guard: "You may enter. Bloody awful day for it."

"Is it always like this?"

>Guard: "Oh we have some nice days. I recall one back in eighty-two."

>The other guard: "Honestly, if you don't stop chatting while on duty I'll report you."

>Guard: "Give it a rest, mate. It's not doing any harm."

>The other guard: "You don't know that, she could be a decoy."

>Guard: "Don't mind him. Poor weather makes him cranky. (He doesn't coat his robe cuz it's against regulations.)"

>The other guard: "Move along."

>Guard: "She's moving, don't get yer knickers in a twist."

Tiffany left the two bickering guards outside. The interior of the castle was cold and damp, and there was barely a soul in sight. It took Tiffany a while to find her way back to Cain's laboratory, but she managed it in the end.

She gave the door a nervous knock. No response.

She gave it another.

>Cain: "Either come in or stop making that bloody racket!"

Tiffany pulled open the door and stepped inside.

>Cain: "Oh it's you. What do you want?"

"I wanted to thank you for what you did earlier. With Kenric."

>Cain: "I didn't do it for you. I hate that little shit."

"Well, it helped me. So, thanks."

>Cain: "Harrumph."

"I also wanted to ask if you needed me for fitting the Shackles on the Cimmerian."

>Cain: "I will. Not yet. I've got a stack of work orders. Your daemon-business will wait."

... Should I argue that?
No. 429184 ID: 252e1b

>... Should I argue that?
Not directly, no.

Ask "Which of your work orders is the most interesting?"

We've got to figure out what he wants, beyond being left alone and having chances to irritate Kenric. He obviously is dedicated to his work, but some jobs must be much more fun for him than others. So, let's try to get him to talk about what he thinks is fun. Try to infer what he is talking about if he uses unfamiliar terminology before you ask for explanations of terms. Try to ask an insightful question or two.

If he hasn't chased you out of the room yet, ask what are the routine and least interesting tasks he needs to do. Get a feel for what they take. If it takes a lot of personal energy, mention your test results.

The goal is to make him see that an apprentice like you could pick up some of the slack for him, and that you won't drive him nuts in the process with stupid questions.
No. 429192 ID: a3b384

...Sorta? Let's not be pushy, and anyway it isn't like we're looking forward to getting our magical shackle bomb put on us. Tell him that we aren't in a rush to get it put on us, but you are a little worried that someone or something could make the matter more urgent. Regardless, you interested in knowing and seeing something about this thing before that happens. If doesn't seem to mind us being around take a while and chat with him as he works. If he seems irritated at us being around then be more straightforward and blunt about things.

Good ideas mostly and I'll second them, however...
Let's not refer to his work that way. At most we can ask what he enjoys doing with his craft, and why. If we can get him talking about his job then we can work from there into the whole choosing a master subject.
No. 429197 ID: 431fa8

Okay. One thing of note here is that he hasn't actually told us to leave yet, which is good. If we segue into idle chatter it's a risk, because preferably we would get to the point of making our apprenticeship pitch before he tells us to shove off. So let's stick to topics which are relatively safe before wandering afield.

First item: Don't argue his delays. He's perfectly capable of judging priorities on his own. A comment like "All right; I'm in no rush to have a killswitch set on me anyway" might work and fish for a bit of a response to our situation on his part.

Don't dwell on that for long, however. Our only other relatively safe topic- that is, one which he probably won't tell us to leave over- is Thomas' lance. Cain's habit in our first meeting of calling the spear "she" and referencing it as having its own will is telling here; it's likely that he will respond positively to someone who displays concern for the damage they've done to them. To that end, we should ask if he was able to repair Thomas' lance, and express regret over damaging it. It might even be worth pushing that a little further- we could ask to see it again if possible, to reassure ourselves that it's okay. We believe Cain's assessment, of course, but there's nothing quite like seeing a something yourself. If Cain continues to refer to the lance as a person, we might ask if there's a spirit in it, or something else that makes it alive in some very real sense, which would probably be a better way to segue into discussion of artifice than asking him cold about his work.

Hopefully by the time we get done with that we'll have him softened up a little and we'll be able to ask about apprenticeship directly.
No. 429203 ID: a3b384

Oh right, almost forgotten about the lance. Lets do that after the "not in a rush for the bomb" and before the rest.
No. 429212 ID: 72d49b

No, don't respond to that. Be silent for a while.
No. 429231 ID: a2fa74

"Is Thomas's lance before or after that in the stack?"

I don't think this guy would be a good master; too caustic, and I get the feeling he values his solitude.

That leaves Duncan and Joyce, and since ritual magic is probably the only way you could defeat Alexander and save mom you basically have to choose Duncan.

Actually, I wonder if they would be open to time-sharing? One or two weeks with one, one or two weeks with the other. They could each give you homework to do while you're with the other, and your studies could be broader and more aggressive for it.
No. 431046 ID: c44286
File 134196899756.png - (83.10KB , 600x600 , 633.png )

"That's ok. I'm not too thrilled about having a killswitch installed."

>Cain: "I suppose."

"What else are you working on? Anything interesting?"

>Cain: "All of my work is interesting."

"I didn't mean-"

>Cain: "Cut the bollocks. What do you want?"

"... I wanted to ask about Thomas' lance. Is it, or she, ok?"

>Cain: "She's all right. The old lady has been through a lot, this isn't her first new shaft. I've got the head here, and I've placed the order for new materials. It'll take a few days though."

"What's a shaft like that made of anyway?"

>Cain: "The old one was oak. I was thinking of making one of rowan this time. Good, solid wood, rowan. She'll like it I'm sure."

"You keep calling the lance she. I take it there's a spirit inside?"

>Cain: "Uh, yes, obviously. Sometimes I forget you're new. Yes, there's a spirit inside. A very venerable one we call the White Lady. She's very powerful in the right hands."

"Like Thomas?"

>Cain: "Like Thomas, yes. Now, if you've got nothing more-"
No. 431047 ID: c44286
File 134196902019.png - (41.63KB , 600x600 , 634.png )

>Kenric: "Oh, but what is this?"

>Cain: "Oh. It's you."

>Kenric: "Yes, me. I placed an order for a new sword some time ago, and I came to see how it's coming along."

>Cain: "It'll be sent to you when it's finished."

>Kenric: "A little bird told me it's already finished."

>Cain: "Your little bird is full of shit."

>Kenric: "Oh? Perhaps you have too many distractions. I'll be happy to take her off your hands..."

Kenric's gaze falls upon Tiffany.

>Cain: "Oh, she's no distraction."

>Kenric: "What is she doing here then?"

>Cain: "I asked for her. She felt bad after breaking this thing-"

Cain motioned at the broken lance head.

>Cain: "- that she offered to help me around. So I hit her up. This place could certainly do with a bit of dusting. You'll find the brooms over there, Tiffany."

Tiffany took the hint, and skedaddled.

>Kenric: "I see. And the sword?"

>Cain: "The blade is done. I haven't had time for a scabbard yet."

>Kenric: "Nevermind the scabbard. Just get me the blade."

Cain gives Kenric a hard stare, then turns to his workshop.
No. 431049 ID: c44286
File 134196904641.png - (39.91KB , 347x468 , 635.png )

Tiffany had found herself a broom, and was sweeping under Kenric's cold stare.

>Cain: "Here, catch."

Cain haphazardly tossed the bared sword at Kenric, who was caught off guard. There was the smooth, quiet sound of fabric being cut as Kenric tried to catch the blade, and a sudden cry of pain.

>Cain: "You shouldn't handle those things without a scabbard. You could cut yourself."

>Kenric: "You'll pay for this!"

>Cain: "Pay for what? I gave you your sword, as requested. Now beat it before I throw you out."

Murder gleamed in Kenric's eye for a short moment, before he turned and left.

There was an uncomfortable silence.

>Cain: "Look, you seem like a nice kid. I'm sorry you had to see that."

"Oh it's all right. Seen worse."

>Cain: "Heh, sure. I meant Kenric's gonna want to take a shot at you, because you saw that. And for that I'm sorry. Didn't mean to land you in the sh- in trouble like that."

"Well he already did, so no worries there. Thanks for the broom, though."

>Cain: "Don't mention it. ... Look, if you need a place to lay low once in a while, you're welcome to come sweep my floors as often as you like. I know what it's like to be an outcast in this family. Now finish up, I've got work to do."

Is this the man I want as my master?
No. 431051 ID: e3f578

Can do weapons, he's knowledgeable, a little patriarchal, sounds like grounds for a good master.
No. 431052 ID: b85f8c

Absolutely. A no-nonsense hardass who acknowledges that you're a novice and also has some compassion for the fact that you're a bit of an outcast? Perfect match.
No. 431053 ID: 886a4d

I think he's perfect. Broach the topic with him. Be fairly straight forward and say something like if I asked would you let me apprentice under you? If he flat out denies you ask if there is any way to change his mind. If he continues to deny you nod.

Then the next day come back to sweep his floor and neaten up his office. He gave you the perfect excuse to pester him until he gives in.
No. 431054 ID: a2fa74

No, but keep in touch with him, and take him up on his offer.
No. 431058 ID: d8f016

Dude, he actually opened up to you, and he dealt masterfully with the one-eyed prick. It's worth pressing further. He extended you an invitation- ask if this could be a place you laid low at on a regular basis.

Only real drawback I see is that he's got a work schedule he wants to keep, and he's not too good at remembering what beginners don't know yet (always an annoying problem with professors). These factors could slow down your education or make it harder for you.
No. 431059 ID: 735f4f

He could be a good master but might want to take a look at the others before we decide.
No. 431077 ID: 72d49b

He does seem like he would be a very good master, he seems to be in a social situation similar to our own and he does just fine in it. He does seem to dislike being disturbed, but I reckon he's not really as averse to our presence as he acts; he sure had our back when Kenric turned up. His standoffishness could benefit us too, since it means we'd also probably have plenty time to pursue other things, be that our own projects, library study, or perhaps unofficial lessons from other people, in order to round out our knowledgebase.
At any rate, it might be better to let him warm up to us a bit more before asking him to be our master. Or maybe not? For now perhaps we should thank him, mentioning the master thing as we do. Like, "thanks. I know I'm supposed to get a master who would help with stuff like that but I don't think anyone really wants me." Which is true, even though Joyce and Duncan have been nice to us they've shown no desire to be in charge of us and doing so would be politically unwise for Duncan and a logistical hassle for Joyce.

>he's not too good at remembering what beginners don't know yet
He answers questions fine, though.

We've looked at the others enough to have a pretty decent idea in earlier threads, although they were a long time ago in real time. People summed them up pretty well earlier in this thread, if you don't care to reread the quest.
No. 431078 ID: d8f016

Actually- I can think of one remaining point of interest. Can we gauge his feelings on the Cimmerian? He's no demonologist or summoner, but he does work with bound spirits, and weapons (C's a little of both, kinda) and I was hoping we'd get someone who might be open to helping us explore the whole demon magic thing.

Obviously we don't want to let our demonic overflow secret slip just yet, but I'd kind of like to slip the big C into the conversation and see how he reacts.
No. 431100 ID: a2fa74

We haven't spoken to Duncan or Joyce since we got him. We need to know what they feel about it before we make a decision.
No. 431118 ID: a3b384

You might. Beyond the power he offers and your ability to exploit it (that immense spark we invested in), besides the items that will help protect you and those you care for in the upcoming battles there is another significant advantage: political. Joyce and Duncan may not be the schemers the others are, but they are still under their sway. Cain is not. In fact my guess is that the clan is dependent on him and they are eager if not desperate for him to take an apprentice so that those skills can be carried on. He has a kind of political immunity because of that, and you would share in its benefit.

The only one major problem I see with going this way is that you may be worked so hard in this path that learning other kinds of spellcasting may suffer. The kinds we need to fully make use of that book, to say nothing of ancient languages it would require. But who knows, that might be a major part of what Cain is about too.

In any case, if you're going to bring the subject up now is the time. And you absolutely should. Ask him if he would consider it, if you would be any good at it, what that would mean for you and the clan, and even if does he refuse if he might teach you a bit on the side. Gaining just some of his insights on how to use, repair and craft minor items may be invaluable. He may also have another option in mind for us, an apolitical and trustworthy spellcasting master that we hadn't considered.

So buckle up and ask him if the work he has to do is the kind you might be suited to.
No. 431141 ID: 431fa8

>Is this the man I want as my master?
Yes. There are other options, but Cain is a great one and there's no benefit to dithering; it's time to ask now.

Thank him for his offer, and say there's one other thing that we were hoping to ask him: Would he reconsider taking us as an apprentice? There aren't many people in the clan who think at well of us, and while our position is a little awkward and inconvenient, what with the Cimmerian, Alexander, our heritage, and all of that, we can guarantee that we will give our all to learning from and assisting him and do everything we can to ensure that he doesn't regret taking us on.
No. 431218 ID: 68852c

it isn't Kenric, that's for sure. check out the others before you make the decision.
No. 431295 ID: b85f8c

Joyce's feelings about the Cimmerian are obvious- she's already gotten in conflict with him.
No. 431322 ID: c44286

I think we should talk to Duncan at least, and see how he sizes up for the position of Master. We don't know what he thinks of the Cimmerian. Cain seems like a good enough candidate, but I think Duncan might be a bit more attentive. We really shouldn't rush the decision.
No. 431345 ID: d8f016


I think he's grown on her, slightly, actually. And he obviously enjoys jerking her around. I wouldn't expect the two of them to ever stop fighting, but I think we could make it work if we went that way. They're both straightforward warrior types without much respect for all the political bullshitting and lies on this island.
No. 431513 ID: 2b7879
File 134210372380.jpg - (46.12KB , 467x343 , asshole_o_113078.jpg )

Kenric is such an asshole
No. 431514 ID: 252e1b

We've dicked around for two threads now with looking for a master. We already know the other two master-candidates would be amicable toward the idea. We wanted to sound out Cain first specifically because we were not sure if we could swing talking him into it or not.

As far as I can tell, this is the very best chance we have had for getting Cain to agree to be Tiffany's master. We have to take it, right now, because if we go off and talk to the others the sense of urgency that Kenric (inadvertently) created will dissipate.

No more pussyfooting around, ask Cain right now.
No. 431516 ID: cf49fc

Yep, Cain seems pretty damn badass, and honestly Kenric will probably murder us if we go outside right now. We may as well ask Cain if he's open to the idea of being our master.
No. 449169 ID: c44286
File 134626171360.png - (23.08KB , 244x207 , 636.png )

"Hey, mister Cain?"

>Cain: "Mmhm?"

"What would you say if I asked you to be my master?"

Cain paused what he was doing and gave Tiffany a slow, piercing look. After a good while he spoke:

>Cain: "I'd tell you to forget about it. What I do is not easy."

"I'm not looking for easy."

>Cain: "I don't think you quite understand. I don't do half-measures. I got to where I am by working my goddamn ass off. I worked until my fingers bled, until I could feel the bones in my arms creaking. I've hammered iron, chiseled stone and carved wood until my hands were numb. I've poured over countless tomes until my eyes were damn near bleeding but I kept at it. I never backed down. If I were to take you as an apprentice I would work you to the bone. I'd hammer you until you were harder than steel, tougher than gnarled oak."

>Cain: "A little girl like you, you need a softer master. Under me, you wouldn't last a week."
No. 449179 ID: bdb3f8

If I only last a week, then I will be a week stronger for it. I think you are underestimating my determination though. I NEED to be tougher than oak.
No. 449181 ID: 533c7a

"give me a test then, i WILL do it"
No. 449182 ID: 886a4d

I was a soft little girl... and a week ago I... look where that got me. A demon, a necromancer possessing mother. I need to be tough. I need to survive whatever is thrown at me and having a master like that, a master like you will either give me the strength to push through... or break me. And if I break then so be it. Maybe someone can make something of the the pieces.
No. 449186 ID: 710329

You're maybe right. Although I don't think i'm too soft or too young to get wasted, boned and... whatever. It takes its toll. I can find a more distinguished master. Although I'm not alien to pain, I've already had my cup for the last few months. Oh, and I don't see that your craft is in any way inferior... It's just not for me. On the other hand I don't think it is easy to find a more distinguished master to share his bits of hard work with me, I just have to try. I believe there are more painless and refined ways to mastery.
No. 449187 ID: ecfcdc

"I want to be tough as steel and hard as oak. I need to be the way everybody thinks I'm no good. And I want to work hard anyway."
No. 449200 ID: d6c330

If weren't strong, I would not have survived the last week; and at times I barley did at that. You know what I face. If I'm to survive what is to come I will need to become stronger- harder than steel, tougher than oak. Bluntly, I cannot afford to be soft. If I cannot whether this, I'll be dead or worse before long anyways.
No. 449201 ID: 34d817

All right, Tiffany, put some steel in your voice here. He might think we're too weak- but he hasn't turned us down, just recommended against it. Build up some fire and determination in your heart, and let him see it.

"Maybe you're right, and it doesn't look like I'll last. Maybe every indication is that I'll fail.

"But every indication is that I'll fail at restraining the Cimmerian. At not pissing off the Inquisitors so much that they tear my brain out or something. At stopping Alexander from causing some kind of apocalypse. At saving my mother... and getting her to forgive me. But I won't fail at those. Any of them. I can't.

"Everyone says your work is the absolute best. If you're going to build your apprentice the same way do your artifacts, then I know that if I make it, I'll come out as the best- and I can't afford to be anything less."
No. 449224 ID: 0c2247

I disagree with choosing him in the first place; don't expect me to help you convince him.
No. 449246 ID: a3b384

I'm uncertain about him being our master, I think there are many benefits to it. What we would learn could be everything we would need, but on the other hand he make work us so hard that we never get to take part in the extra curricular activities involving a certain forbidden text. Unless he was involved in that too, and that is an even riskier idea.

But I do want this man as an ally, I want his respect and I want his advice going forward. We must make clear our purpose determination and ability. We will need his help because he's the only one who can really go over the heads of these politicos. And maybe if we hang out with him we can learn some tricks of his trade on the side.
No. 449664 ID: c44286
File 134635833701.png - (62.30KB , 700x600 , 637.png )


>Cain: "What?"

"That's not what I need. And I haven't been a little girl since my brother died."

>Cain: "Now look here-"

"No, you look here. Maybe you're right, and I don't have what it takes. But if that's the case I don't have what it takes to contain the Cimmerian, or to beat Alexander. I can't afford that. I can't. I have to be tougher than oak, have to be harder than steel. So I'll take that bet. I'll last a week. Then you'll take me as your apprentice."
No. 449665 ID: c44286
File 134635835520.png - (138.54KB , 700x600 , 638.png )

Cain was silent for a moment.

>Cain: "Very well."

Cain extended his sinewy hand.

>Cain: "You got yourself a deal."

Tiffany grasped the offered hand.

"Although, maybe I can get a better offer in a week."

Cain looked stunned for a second, then broke off into exuberant laughter.

>Cain: "You got some guts, kid. You start tomorrow, five ay-em. Now scram."

And so Tiffany was ushered in to the corridor with no ceremony.

She breathed out.

Hell yes.

Five am? Can do.

I guess that means this is my last free day. What should I do with it?
No. 449673 ID: ecfcdc

Might be a good idea to let Dad know the lowdown.
No. 449691 ID: 0c2247

Get Joyce to teach you what she can today.
No. 449754 ID: 34d817

Tell the people who matter to you about your arrangement. Dad, Mulder, Duncan, Gareth, Joyce. The Cimmerian too, I suppose.

And be sure to eat enough and get to sleep early. It's going to be a long week.
No. 449869 ID: 2cc3ac

Try asking someone about that whole introspection thing you did. It's probably not heresy, but we should try talking to a friend anyway. Joyce, I'd wager.
No. 450096 ID: c44286
File 134644346330.png - (66.26KB , 700x600 , 639.png )

Tiffany dug around for her cell phone as she walked through the castle's corridors. Dad should be told.


>Dad: "Hey sweetie. How are you? Sorry if I'm a bit groggy."

"Oh it's ok. I'm doing okay. I got plenty of company. How are you?"

>Dad: "Sleep a lot. It's probly the meds. They brought a radio up to my room. Can't wait to get back home, listen to some decent records."

"Dad, you burned the house. The records are gone."

>Dad: "Oh, right. I did didn't I? Sorry, I'm a bit-"

"Groggy, I know. Try to rest Dad."

>Dad: "I am. Not much else to do here except listen to daytime british radio. This surely is hell."

"... I'm really sorry, dad."

>Dad: "Oh shit I didn't mean- look, I'm fine. Really."

"Ok. I called to tell you that I have a shot at becoming Cain's apprentice. He's something of a big shot."

>Dad: "That's great, sweetie!"

"Though it does mean I'll be really busy for a while at least. I don't know when I can come visit next time."

>Dad: "Don't sweat it. I'll be out of here in no time at all."

"Ok. I'll call you again tomorrow when I know more about my schedule, ok?"

>Dad: "That's ok. Go get em."

"Ok! Bye!"

>Dad: "Bye."

As Tiffany ended the call, she felt something brush against her legs. A black and white cat was rubbing against her leg. Tiffany had a feeling she'd seen the cat around the castle before. She moved to pet it, but it slinked down the corrider as she reached down. Cats. She shrugged it off.

There were so many things that needed to be looked into, but her introspective trance in the hospital was at the forefront of Tiffany's mind. She'd just have to ask someone about it. Someone who knew more of the intuitive side of magic. Someone who she could trust. Joyce seemed like the best candidate.

Joyce's room was dark when Tiffany opened the door. The dull gray of a rainy day filtered in from the window. At first she thought she was alone in the room, until a tall shadow moved near the window.

>Joyce: "Tiffany. We need to talk."
No. 450105 ID: 0c2247

Sigh dejectedly
"You're breaking up with me?"
Shake your head when she doesn't laugh
"Sorry; I suppose it must be more soul-crushing bad news. What did I do wrong this ti- wait, I've been with master mages all day, I couldn't have screwed up or they would ha- OH GOD! IS IT MOM? WHAT HAPPENED?"
Panic seems a good choice to start this conversation.
No. 450110 ID: ecfcdc

Okay, just be like "hey", see what she wants to bring up.
No. 450150 ID: 34d817

"Sure. I came up here to talk to you, actually... well, kind of obviously really, because otherwise why would I be here?"

We really don't need to fuck with Joyce that badly.
No. 450152 ID: d6c330

>"Tiffany. We need to talk."
...she figured out the demon magic thing already, didn't she.

Well, whatever dire thing she has to talk about, let her lead. Don't offer suggestions.
No. 450298 ID: c44286
File 134649642642.png - (41.48KB , 700x600 , 640.png )

"Umm, all right.

>Joyce: "Shut the door and come over here."

>Joyce: "Tiffany, I- How are you feeling?"

"All right I guess. Worried about my dad."

>Joyce: "Right, right. Look, there's something I'm really worried about, and I don't know how to tell you."

"Is it about mom?"

>Joyce: "No. It's about the daemon. And- and you."


>Joyce: "Yes. Daemons are incredibly dangerous. Not only can they kill you with magic and sheer physical strength, but they're- shit I don't know. Toxic? Even a little bit of daemon stuff is enough to infect you."

Tiffany decided to keep her information to herself and feight ignorance. Or maybe it was the other Tiffany.

"Huh? What do you mean, infect?"

>Joyce: "A bit of daemonic essence can slowly turn you into something like a daemon. It's- it's transmitted by- shit this is hard. You may have been infected when you bound the daemon to yourself. Nobody knows for sure. Too early to tell."

"What happens if I am infected?"

>Joyce: "You- you would be put down. I'm sorry. There's no going back if you do get infected. Tiffany, please, promise me something."


>Joyce: "If you start feeling like... like you wanted to hurt someone. Hurt them real bad. I want you to run away from here. To somewhere where there's no people. Just... I can get you plane tickets to somewhere far away. Don't tell anyone, ok? Can you promise me that sweetie?"
No. 450303 ID: 295e41

"You're saying my response to becoming an inhuman avatar of destruction should be to run away from the only people who could possibly contain me? Sorry, no can do."
No. 450305 ID: 0c2247

Joyce is in dire need of a hug. Give her one.
"I promise. Err... Alexander doesn't count, right?"

Optionally? Also say "Thomas was right. About the clans having a common root, about me, about everything. There's so much I want to talk about, but everybody who could help would rather sweep things under the carpet than consider that some of their base assumptions are flawed. They've said as much, if not in so many words.
What you said, that it's too early to tell if I'm infected? That's wrong. That there's no going back if you're infected? That's wrong too. The damage an infection does might not be reversible, and I'm not sure of that yet, but the infection can be stopped. I inspected myself earlier; there was a demon seed mucking up my soul. I killed it.
I'm telling you this because I think I might be able to teach you how to do it. Then you could see for yourself how it works, and even if nobody will listen to you either, at least you'll be safer. Maybe you'd even be able to save somebody."
No. 450307 ID: 9718f3

It isn't a practical plan anyway. Anywhere she can go on a plane, she can be followed to. It wouldn't take them long to figure out who helped her run away either. Then they would tear the knowledge from Joyce's mind and all that would have been accomplished is that more people that Tiffany cares about would have been hurt before she was executed.

Does Joyce know about the magical kill-switch Tiffany agreed to have put on her? Tiffany has already come to terms with facing death if the demon ever goes out of control. This is just a slightly different way of it happening.
No. 450312 ID: 00fd65

No need to tell all the details, certainly. But it would be good to tell her just a bit. I think what it is definitely important to avoid is any implication of us eating it.

"...I already know about it. Don't worry, it's dead. It was making me angry, not like myself. It lasted only a moment. I circled it off in my own mind and destroyed it. Just another thing I've survived, I guess. Don't tell the others, I don't want them poking around in my head. They'll be waiting to see if I to fall into madness and there is no chance of it."
No. 450315 ID: 0c2247

Damn, you're right.

Hug Joyce; she needs it more than I thought.
"Thank you, that means a lot to me... But that would have a monster escaping people who could stop it.
Besides, they're fitting me with a remote bomb, and even if they couldn't just kill me on a whim they'd rip where I went from your mind and punish you.
I promise I'd tell you."


"Joyce, it's ok, you can relax. I already found and killed the daemon seed. There's a little damage, but my personality seems to be ok so far.
I'd like to teach you how to do the same, if you'd be willing."
No. 450322 ID: e3f578

"I wanted to hurt my Grandpa real from before the Cimmerian. You're going to have to give me more detail than that. By the way, is the reverse infectious? Is the Cimmarian more human now?"
No. 450354 ID: a0c115

My vote is on the "I wanted to kill Alexander before I met the Cimmerian" response. But Joyce certainly does need a hug.
No. 450397 ID: 902bfb

>I'd like to teach you how to do the same, if you'd be willing."
Eh? I'm not sure we need to do that as she isn't about to be binding any demons. Let's just say something about visualizing runes internally and leave it at that.

Also, hugs.
No. 450423 ID: 0c2247

I'd expect there are other ways to be infected, but that's not really the point.
If Tiffany can teach her then she can use that as leverage to get people to stop patronizing Tiffany.

"I'd like to get scores re-tested to see if anything has changed there. Can you give those tests, or would you like to come watch?"
No. 450449 ID: c44286
File 134653725677.png - (75.28KB , 700x600 , 641.png )

Tiffany reached out and hugged Joyce. Joyce choked back a sniffle. Neither spoke for a moment.

"I can't do that. If I was going to turn into a monster, I can't run away and put people in danger. You're probably the only people who could stop me, and I'd want you to."

Joyce voice broke when she tried to speak. She tried again:

>Joyce: "I just hunt monsters. Big bad wreaking havoc, I put it down. That's that. I didn't sign up for this."

"I don't think you have to worry though. I'm not infected. Not anymore."

Joyce tensed up, but Tiffany kept talking before she could interrupt.

"I think I was, at first. I had a brief moment when I felt this overwhelming anger and bloodthirst, but I figured it out. I trapped and killed it before it could do any harm."

>Joyce: "I- I didn't even know that was possible. Do you feel ok?"

"I still want to hurt Alexander real bad, does that count?"

>Joyce: "No, I guess not. Look, we have to be sure it's all gone, ok?"

"I agree. Do you think taking another of Duncan's tests would help?"

>Joyce: "I don't know. Maybe? We'll try that, as soon as possible. Tell no-one, understand? No-one. If you're clean, nobody needs to know. If you're not... We'll figure something out."

"All right."

>Joyce: "I really hope you're ok. I- I can't say I like how the clan is handling this whole thing. We should be helping you, not- You know that guy Owen? I heard the Lady and your daemon talking. He's an inquisitor. Under orders to kill you if you let the daemon loose."
No. 450456 ID: d6c330

I believe this is the third time we've been informed Owen is an inquisitor. Not a well kept secret. :V

*Sigh* Yeah, he passed that along. Thanks for the warning.

Look, maybe the clan isn't handling this so great. But I've got friends here. We'll find a way to make things work.
No. 450468 ID: 2cc3ac

Tell her you know he's an inquisitor. The Cimmerian told you. He's been looking out for you, oddly enough, but you have no plans to let him do whatever he wants. He's your responsibility. You've known this since you bound him.

Anyway, now's a good time to maybe change the subject and ask her about meditation and interacting with your own Haftsusha.
No. 450477 ID: 0c2247

"I know. Don't think ill of Owen for it though; he's at least acted kindly towards me.
I can't even blame the stubborn old fools in charge; this is some ancient daemon from a place stricken from the records before their earliest records. If it decided to cause trouble it would be terrible.

Everything else is just them being huge buttheads though. When this is over I'm going to make a huge statue of Thomas with the words 'I told you so' on it in huge glowing letters."
No. 450484 ID: 902bfb

"I've already been informed. Thanks though. By the way, I've been accepted to a trial apprenticeship. By Cain."

And now is a good time to communicate with your demon: "I can hide the presence of the Maw, right? If and when I need to prove that I'm not infected."

And on that theme, ask if Joyce is going keep watch over our demon. It seems wise, since we're going to be real busy and it's a bad idea to let him get too bored. Also ask if anyone has a black and white cat as a familiar.
No. 450507 ID: ecfcdc

May as well tell her we know that. Owen's okay though, and it's a pretty reasonable step to take really.

If she doesn't know about killing the demon taint she probably doesn't know about interacting directly with the haftsusha. Doesn't hurt to ask though.
No. 451314 ID: c44286
File 134670421039.png - (82.48KB , 700x600 , 642.png )

"I know. The Cimmerian told me."

>Joyce: "Wait, what? How? The daemon's been locked up since it arrived. How could it possibly have told you anything?"

Oh. Shit.
No. 451325 ID: dab1e7

"It's been locked up since the others got to it. If it had been locked up since it showed up my dad wouldn't be in the hospital."
No. 451348 ID: d6c330

Uh... we can do a talking at a distance thing, the same way I can with Mulder. I mean, we're kind of tied together the same way.
No. 451399 ID: f2c20c

Go with that explanation.
No. 451409 ID: bf54a8

"it's magic"
No. 451411 ID: 56994b

You just had to go with the most troublesome bit of those suggestions, didn't you?[/i]

Oh well. Nothing wrong with a bit of honesty between friends. A bit late not to be, anyway.

"We share telepathy. He's bound like a familiar, remember? It was the first thing he said to me like that actually, quite the surprise. He sorta warned me about the possible infection right then too, not that he helped to actually deal with it. He's a bit of a dick."

We can't go with that, it makes no sense.
No. 451415 ID: 886a4d

Sounds good.
No. 451422 ID: ecfcdc

Except Owen wasn't assigned to us then. If we're gonna lie we need to be a whole lot less obvious about it.

Probably best to just say this. It's essentially the truth, and it's something that won't surprise anyone with a deep enough understanding of magic, since it's actually the result of stuff that's publicly known. There's not really any reason to keep it secret here; it might make Joyce more worried about the infection thing and she'll probably tell us not to listen to the Cimmerian, but honestly this is nothing compared to having told her we were infected in the first place.
Besides, we're trusting her and so far she's shown herself to be entirely deserving of our trust. We may as well be honest when there's no reason not to, considering we've already been honest about things that would be better off as secrets.
No. 451432 ID: f2c20c

Okay, you've convinced me.
No. 451648 ID: c44286
File 134677753765.png - (216.88KB , 700x600 , 643.png )

"We can talk over distances. Like I do with Mulder. Isn't that normal for familiars?"

>Joyce: "Well, yes. But- Well. To be honest, we don't know much about binding daemons to people. For all I know, that could be normal. We need Duncan for this."

"... Does he need to know?"

>Joyce: "YES. I mean, I at least would feel a lot better if he knew. He'd know more about this sort of thing. But for now, you need to stop talking with the daemon. Can you block him out?"

"I think so."

>Joyce: "Do that then. You can't trust anything it says."

Like hell.

"All right. I wasn't just taking his word for it, by the way. Me and Owen ran across someone at the hospital, and I figured out he was one from how they talked. Besides, it wasn't such a stretch."

>Joyce: "Look, really, I know you think you can trust him, but you can't. Seriously."

"I don't trust people easily these days."

>Joyce: "... All right."

"We'll go and see Duncan. If he think's I'm ok, will you keep all this to yourself? I really don't need anything else to make me stick out. I don't want to put the clan in danger by withholding information, but I don't really want to be put down either."

>Joyce: "I- All right. If he clears you, and you go in for a checkup once a week or so for a while, I'll pretend I know nothing about this."

"Thank you. Really. It means a lot to have someone I can count on."

>Joyce: "Yeah. I haven't really spent a lot of time here. I always heard stories there was a lot of scheming on this island. I guess I never just believed it. I- I don't know what to think about all this. C'mon, let's get to Duncan."

Joyce lit a candle and led the way into the gloomy corridors.

"Cain accepted me as his apprentice. We'll, on a trial basis anyway."

>Joyce: "Seriously?"


>Joyce: "That's amazing! I don't think he's ever taken anyone as an apprentice. How'd you do it?"

"Not sure. Guts, maybe?"

>Joyce: "Nice. SO what's the trial like?"

"Last a week."

>Joyce: "Well, I hope you do. Becoming his apprentice would take a lot of pressure off you. And I he's a master artificier, you could learn loads off him. If there's anything I can help you with, lemme know all right?"

"I think I'm supposed to do it by myself."

>Joyce: "Well, it's your call."

"So... When I was in the hospital I went into this trance-meditationy thing. I was able to visualize my haftsusha, among other things."

>Joyce: "Oh? Who taught you how to do that?"

"Nobody. I just kinda did it."

>Joyce: "That's actually kinda impressive. I've only managed that a few times."

"So it's normal?"

>Joyce: "Yeah. Well, possible at least. It was all kinda vague for me. Supposedly, mastering the soul trance is a path into clearer communication between different parts of your soul."

"Can it actually show you stuff?"

>Joyce: "So the story goes. The haftsusha doesn't see things like us, though. It sees things in broader strokes, I suppose. What's important to us might be completely inconsequential to us, and vice versa. Communication is always a bit sketchy."
No. 451669 ID: f2c20c

Nice. Alright, tell her that it wanted to bring you in close but it was really hot and you weren't sure if it was safe so you got it to back off by showing it runes. Is it safe? If it is, we're totally gonna do it again, and see what it has to say.
No. 451918 ID: 0c2247

"You've gotten the test before too, right? How did you do?"
No. 452111 ID: 34d817

We could ask how she knows Duncan. We know him basically because he was friends with Thomas, but I didn't know he was prominent enough as a scholar to be the go-to man on this sort of issue. Or does Joyce know him from somewhere else?

Who did Joyce apprentice under, anyway? She seems young... how long has she been a full-fledged hunter on her own?
No. 452147 ID: ecfcdc

What does communication between the parts of the soul mean? It seems like better communication with the haftsusha would boost all the stuff Duncan measures, but what about the hanku?
It would be good to know about increased unity with the Maw too, but don't ask Joyce about that, telling her we have it will only freak her out.
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