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In memory of Flyin' Black Jackson
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File 155347318796.png - (44.12KB , 800x700 , 134-titletwo.png )
927154 No. 927154 ID: 688dd6

>Previous thread: https://tgchan.org/kusaba/quest/res/530834.html
>Wiki page: https://tgchan.org/wiki/Age_of_Shadows
>Discussion thread: https://tgchan.org/kusaba/questdis/res/74609.html

In the East... er, wait... in the East Crescent, a being of great evil... uh, I mean, there was a great Empire, on the edge of the... no... where was I? Damn it. The empire was in the west, wasn't it? I could have sworn it said east... Wait, hold on...

*flip flllip flip*

Right. In the West, there was a great Empire which centuries ago wrested peace from the jaws of war. Its line of rulers was good and just, and that peace was maintained for centuries. That period of order came to an end when a being of terrible evil arrived, and wreaked havoc on the lands.
Expand all images
No. 927155 ID: 688dd6
File 155347320035.png - (10.74KB , 700x800 , 135-kiy.png )

No. 927156 ID: 688dd6
File 155347320657.png - (13.05KB , 700x800 , 136-juhrbuhl.png )

No. 927158 ID: 688dd6
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No. 927159 ID: 688dd6
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No. 927162 ID: ddcb66

Hey miner dude.
Get killed by the shadow behind you.
No. 927163 ID: 688dd6
File 155347457940.png - (22.07KB , 700x800 , 139-faag.png )

No. 927164 ID: 688dd6
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No. 927165 ID: ddcb66

This deep underground, there's nowhere you can really run! Is there?
No. 927167 ID: b1b4f3

Sup Dionaea. Playing with your food?
No. 927168 ID: 688dd6
File 155347650879.png - (13.05KB , 700x800 , 141-ziil.png )

No. 927169 ID: 688dd6
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No. 927170 ID: 688dd6
File 155347652530.png - (17.98KB , 700x800 , 143-daenyov.png )

No. 927172 ID: 094652

Quick, snuff the torch with a rock!
No. 927173 ID: 8c7df9

Just keep going, he's running away from the light too!
No. 927174 ID: 688dd6
File 155347774818.png - (38.91KB , 700x800 , 144-jiis.png )

No. 927175 ID: 688dd6
File 155347775420.png - (17.38KB , 700x800 , 145-mazii.png )

No. 927176 ID: 688dd6
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No. 927177 ID: 688dd6
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No. 927178 ID: 8c7df9

Oh no, he broke the crystal! That's probably bad for you.
No. 927179 ID: b1b4f3

Is this a dream?
No. 927180 ID: 094652

Surprisingly intelligent. Now all you can gain from this venture is soul exp.

Well actually can you just knock them out and torture them until they tell you where they keep the jewel warehouses?
No. 927182 ID: cbdfa8

what is with this guys eyes?
No. 927183 ID: 688dd6
File 155347995584.png - (22.38KB , 700x800 , 148-vat.png )

No. 927185 ID: 688dd6
File 155348009356.png - (12.35KB , 700x800 , 149-zjoked.png )

No. 927186 ID: 688dd6
File 155348009821.png - (13.06KB , 700x800 , 150-diilvoziedaht.png )

No. 927188 ID: 101c3c

Down a hand already. Odds aren't looking good.
No. 927189 ID: 8c7df9

The hand can come back. They can't. Watch out for light, and any cold iron. Be quick, dodge their attack and strike!
No. 927190 ID: b1b4f3

I'd suggest running, at this point.
No. 927193 ID: 91ee5f

Run away!
No. 927194 ID: 094652

Oh, we're following a different demon.

Throw the head to shake them up, then run!
No. 927195 ID: 688dd6
File 155348130615.png - (24.40KB , 700x800 , 151-duvuch.png )

No. 927196 ID: 688dd6
File 155348131038.png - (20.49KB , 700x800 , 152-dajuhrjixiid.png )

No. 927199 ID: 8c7df9

They aren't a match for you, but you're taking some bigger hits. You should find somewhere to hide and rest, now. A hand and a tail is a lot to lose.
No. 927203 ID: 91ee5f

Get away from the light. Go hide so that you can heal.
No. 927205 ID: 094652

Keep snuffing torches! With THEIR faces!
No. 927244 ID: 688dd6
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No. 927245 ID: 688dd6
File 155351354406.png - (22.03KB , 700x800 , 154-mazkahtaet.png )

No. 927246 ID: 688dd6
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No. 927247 ID: 688dd6
File 155351367269.png - (16.81KB , 700x800 , 156-aag.png )

No. 927248 ID: 101c3c

Well, that's just uncouth. You were busy healing! Demons are pretty tough, though. Give it a yank to clear it completely.
No. 927249 ID: 688dd6
File 155351701308.png - (18.18KB , 700x800 , 157-niijiis.png )

No. 927250 ID: 688dd6
File 155351701894.png - (16.23KB , 700x800 , 158-lodzat.png )

No. 927251 ID: 688dd6
File 155351702364.png - (1.71KB , 700x800 , 159-zjodaev.png )

No. 927252 ID: 688dd6
File 155351705119.png - (9.25KB , 700x800 , 160-select.png )

Dionaea's influence allows you to leave her for a short time to observe her allies.

Will you follow a SIDESTORY as Niklaus, or CONTINUE as Dionaea?

The side story will not affect Dionaea's story.
No. 927253 ID: 2202fb

Go with dio.

Lets take a cue from the title pic and look for gobbos.
No. 927256 ID: 91ee5f

Let’s go with Niklaus. I’d like to see what’s going on with him.
No. 927261 ID: 8c7df9

Well if it's a side story that won't affect dionaea, I guess there's no harm in doing a niklaus game.

I'm still picking Dionaea though.
No. 927270 ID: 094652

Dionaea as gnoll-mouse.
No. 927292 ID: 977456

Finding out more about Nikmaus would be helpful, but Dionaea is best demon!
No. 927295 ID: 101c3c

Let's learn more about Niklaus and use that info to further our main goals.
No. 927296 ID: cbdfa8

ehhhhhhhhhh. Imma go with Dionaea on this one
No. 927314 ID: f19b3c

No. 927444 ID: 688dd6
File 155364890580.png - (11.44KB , 700x800 , 161-peek.png )

>Niklaus: 3
>Dionaea: 5

Hnnnn... feels like night time. I can almost feel the stars reaching down to me. Time to get up.
No. 927445 ID: 688dd6
File 155364891671.png - (9.72KB , 700x800 , 162-excited.png )

Helloooo! What's up? Are you excited? We get to take on a whole big crime syndicate! Or maybe join it! I dunno! I'll leave that up to you! To be honest, I'm still kinda riding the high from that priest's soul! Whewww! Let's go do bad stuff!
No. 927453 ID: ad51b8

I say join first and either try to take it over from the inside or just tear it apart from inside. Depends how much you like it I guess.
No. 927454 ID: cbdfa8

caught me in the middle of dinner..... Lets DO THIS!

interesting plan. If we could somehow infiltrate the local gangs, we could possibly infiltrate the whole syndicate!
No. 927491 ID: 2202fb

Lets proceed to do a petty crime spree montage.

Then lets go find some gobbos.
No. 927492 ID: 8c7df9

It's a fine day, full of opportunity! Nothing like a good day's rest to make you feel great.

Somebody's going to die tonight.
No. 927493 ID: 094652

Well aren't you peppy.

Actually when was the last time I saw you peppy? You should check the house for any wards Nick's great-grandparents commissioned.
No. 927498 ID: 91ee5f

Yeah, let’s go!

Hey, quick question: Do you know someone named Niklaus? He looked kinda like you, only he had a more lizard like appearance. I only ask because I think we just had a vision of him while you were sleeping.
No. 927516 ID: 977456

If they really run the local crime, they should be keeping an eye open for competition. Maybe a random crime spree would get them to arrange a meeting. They'll probably settle for some sort of "tax" and you get to identify some of their low-rank enforcers. Then you can ditch the identity and come back fore-warned. Beating one of their enforcers in a drunken brawl might get you recruited, can you pull off a drunken brawl without your disguise failing?
No. 927557 ID: 688dd6
File 155372186421.png - (15.02KB , 700x800 , 163-belongings.png )

>Do you know someone named Niklaus?
Are you serious? That's the dude whose house I'm sleeping in, you oxygen thief. I literally just met him yesterday. You really needed me to solve that one for you?

All right. Everything's moved out of this cellar room now except for the box I was sleeping in. Even the cobwebs are dusted. Plus, there's a big chest in here now, with a key, so presumably I can store whatever I want in that securely. Oh, and the magic staff! That thing's still kind of more trouble than it's worth if you're a magical creature who doesn't benefit much from its effects. And Niklaus left a bundle of clothes down here... let me just change into something more inconspicuous.

[ Dionaea Impersonates a victim. ]
No. 927558 ID: 688dd6
File 155372187579.png - (14.15KB , 700x800 , 164-impersonate.png )

>Somebody's going to die tonight.
I'll diplomatically assume you mean that in the sense of 'someone somewhere dies every night,' 'cause Niklaus was pretty particular about me not killing any of his crime buddies. At least, not anyone important...

>Lets proceed to do a petty crime spree montage.
Nah, moonlight's burning. I've got a goal to work towards now. Can't be wasting time on petty crimes... I mean, unless they're right there and look fun.

>Maybe a random crime spree would get them to arrange a meeting.
>Then you can ditch the identity and come back fore-warned.
Maybe? I don't like maybe! Do better than maybe! Come on, I'm counting on you here, you can't be jerking me around with things that'll maybe help me. And I was actually kind of hoping to establish sort of an alter ego, here, not expend another appearance on information gathering... I could really use the black market connections here, and before I can get my foot in the door there I'm gonna need to establish myself as someone they know and trust.

Listen, how about some shorter-term plans? Oooh, this comes with a cloak... Why not just tell me who I should look for first tonight? Niklaus? That big gnoll guy? The overweight merchant rat? We can decide what to do when we get there.
No. 927559 ID: 688dd6
File 155372188933.png - (9.29KB , 700x800 , 165-cloak.png )

Check it out. Haha, this hood really conceals my face. I guess Niklaus wanted to give me something that could hide my nature since he didn't know I could Impersonate. It's a pretty sweet outfit, huh? Anyway, let's get going. Where to?
No. 927565 ID: b8d5aa

try to track down reinhold, the superstitious 'enforcer' thug. offer him your unique services in exchange for... possibly money, or maybe his soul. maybe someone else's soul.
No. 927572 ID: a9af05

Almost perfect. The only thing that throws off your Impersonate is the fact that when you're wearing that hood, it makes your eyes glow red, which I don't think is a normal thing people can do.

Yeah, go for the superstitious guy.

>offer him your unique services
I certainly hope you're talking about Dionaea's unique demon services and not her offering to have sex with him. Because Dionaea made it very clear that she's not going to do that.
No. 927605 ID: 977456

1. Pawn staff.
2. Buy soup fixings and bread.
3. ???
4. Reign as God-queen of the Hobos.
You look adorable in that outfit!
No. 927609 ID: 094652

Inconspicuous but bland. You need an eye-catcher.

Enhance knockers.
No. 927614 ID: cbdfa8

first we have to get money in this world in order to do crap besides eating souls. Mind if we direct our attention to the bar to get some info on jobs?
No. 927624 ID: 2202fb

Hey guys, check the image names for the intro bit. Idk what it means yet though.
No. 927703 ID: 688dd6
File 155381110730.png - (15.41KB , 700x800 , 166-setout.png )

>when you're wearing that hood, it makes your eyes glow red, which I don't think is a normal thing people can do.
That's because the hood casts a shadow, but it's only visible to you. Living mortals won't actually be able to see my eyes when I'm Impersonating someone.

>Pawn staff.
Nowhere to pawn it yet. All the normal stores are closed.

>You look adorable in that outfit!
Thank you, darling. Wish I was wearing it as myself.

>try to track down reinhold
Got it. I'll check out the bars, since you lot seemed to be keen on that. No idea where the brothels or mystics are, so hopefully he's not at one of those tonight.

While I'm looking, any ideas for what I should call myself while I'm mousequerading as a mortal? Something in keeping with the local naming traditions, preferably, and bear in mind the form I'm using is male.
No. 927705 ID: 101c3c

Matthias Swiftclaw.

Will the clothing be enough for light to not bother you? If so, going inside rather than loitering outside would be better for finding your mark.
No. 927756 ID: 8c7df9

You don't need to claim a last name, it might have a reputation behind it.
If you are asked for it... Lightfoot? Since we're being sneaky.
No. 927802 ID: b8d5aa

No. 927867 ID: 688dd6
File 155390953835.png - (23.66KB , 700x800 , 167-stroll.png )

>Bartholomew Swiftclaw
I like it.

>Will the clothing be enough for light to not bother you? If so, going inside rather than loitering outside would be better for finding your mark.
Not really. If I kept the hood up, it'd help me endure it, but nothing but completely covering every part of my body will be enough for strong light not to bother me. My hands are still exposed, for instance, and it'll still be like dipping them in scalding hot water. I'm just not meant to be walking around in the light.

I mean, I can still do it, if you think it'd be best. It just won't be very fun.
No. 927868 ID: 688dd6
File 155390955145.png - (25.04KB , 700x800 , 168-frustration.png )


[ Dionaea consumes a Soul. ]

Ugh. What was I thinking, sneaking out the door without the slightest idea what I was looking for? I've been at this for hours, and I haven't seen anything. I don't actually even know where the taverns are. I checked the one I went to last night and didn't see anything red when I poked my head in. I've just been walking the streets trying to find anything that looks like it's still open and getting weird looks from guards.

This is fucking dumb. For all I know, this guy's playing cards with his friends in some house I'd never even think to walk by. Unless you lot have any more bright ideas, I'm gonna go back to Irontail's manor. Ughhh, it's gonna take forever just to figure out how to get back there. Arrrghhh!

I thought killing this guy would make me feel better, but it didn't. I'm still mad. Stupid mortal civilization. Stupid organized society. Stupid Dionaea. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

No. 927871 ID: b1b4f3

Ask a guard for directions or for where you can find a map.
No. 927873 ID: 58ccd4

hey, its ok. happen to know where the library is? or, maybe ask the guy when you get back where everything is located?

when in doubt drink alchohol to wash your worries away. plus its a new experience for you right?
No. 927874 ID: 9faf26

You should deal with that corpse first. Practice your necromancy and have the skeleton minion dispose of the non-animated remains outside of town.
No. 927880 ID: 688dd6
File 155391801285.png - (18.19KB , 700x800 , 169-resigned.png )

>when in doubt drink alchohol to wash your worries away. plus its a new experience for you right?
What the fuck are you on about? I can't get drunk, moron. I don't have organs, much less a liver or a brain. As if I'd never tried before.

>maybe ask the guy when you get back where everything is located?
Fucking genius right here. Give this one a medal. Some kind of Hindsight Award. Ugghhhhhhhh!

>Ask a guard for directions or for where you can find a map.
Directions to what? Back to the manor? I can find that, it's up the hill somewhere, it's just going to take a while to get back there. By the way, the guards seem to be equipped with magic weapons and are explicitly tasked with keeping creatures like me out of the town, so I probably shouldn't get too chummy with them. I only trust my claws. Guards will never help me.

>You should deal with that corpse first.
>have the skeleton minion dispose of the non-animated remains outside of town.
It's fine, he's out of the way. Also, the town is surrounded by a barrier that prevents magical creatures, like reanimated skeletons, or myself, from coming and going freely, as I've pointed out many, many times. The only way he could dispose of his meat shell is by dragging it out on the main road past the guards.
No. 927883 ID: 101c3c

We're burning moonlight here. Seems you didn't have much trouble finding one person to feed on, let's find another one and ask for directions to the center of town, and its market. You've been around a few times already: smaller houses, then blocks of apartments surround it. It being the center of daytime activity has to mean someone will be there at night, Jakob is supposed to run his business from it.
No. 927894 ID: b1b4f3

Directions to the brothels and mystics?
If this guy really is that hard to find then I guess we'd have to start with the guy we KNOW the location of. The "merchant".
No. 927895 ID: 2cc14c

Well, if you've got zero leads, dig some up.
Go to an area with buildings in poor repair. It's a favorite of thugs. Go to alleys there 'til you get mugged. Terrorize and question said mugger. Even if they don't work for the local crimelord, they'll probably know what turf they're at to avoid mugging their thugs.
No. 927907 ID: 977456

If you can find and acquire some alcohol(did Soulbag have any cash?) then you could go to wherever looks less painted and more broken and the streets have more detritus on them, locate a hobo, and exchange booze for information. They should have some idea where's dangerous, where to find terrible jobs that get people killed or imprisoned, Which parts of town the guards actually patrol and kick hoboes out of... You can probably get a vague lay-of-the-land with basically no exposure. You might even get lucky and find out about someone who the guards look the other way for or some place that sells illegal medicines...
No. 928023 ID: 688dd6
File 155400690203.png - (13.39KB , 700x800 , 170-swoosh.png )

>Directions to the brothels and mystics?
Ah, yes. Let me just walk up to a guard and inquire for directions to the nearest illegal brothel.

>start with the guy we KNOW the location of. The "merchant".
>find another one and ask for directions
>go to wherever looks less painted and more broken
>Go to an area with buildings in poor repair.
>Go to alleys there 'til you get mugged. Terrorize and question said mugger.
All right, interrogating crooks it is. Give me half an hour or so.
No. 928024 ID: 688dd6
File 155400691659.png - (29.66KB , 700x800 , 171-aftermath.png )

[ Dionaea consumes 3 Lesser Souls. ]

Trip report:

It took basically no time at all walking down a shady street at night before someone took a look at the guy with fancy clothes and no weapon and tried to hustle me. Unfortunately, he brought a couple friends to the mugging, but none of them had magic or cold iron or anything, obviously, so I just had to make sure they didn't run before I could kill two of them and question the last one.

Anyway, keeping him alive long enough to question was a bit problematic because he got real screamy, but he did tell me what I want to know. They didn't work directly for Jakob, seems he doesn't pay actual thieves and muggers so much as use them as a recruitment pool for his enforcers and bouncers and such. Jakob works out of the second floor of a building on the outer ring of the market district, it's the only one with a light on through the window, and he saw Reinhold walking the streets on the other side of town a few hours ago and offered me the location of an alehouse he might have been headed to.

So, which one do I chase? Reinhold, or Jakob? I assume you'll want me to go after Reinhold because he's "superstitious," whatever that means.
No. 928026 ID: 094652

Yep, because he's out of his base and off guard. Find him, then prepare a trap on the way towards the alehouse. Maybe a skeleton or two.
No. 928028 ID: 8c7df9

I knew people were going to die tonight. I mean, they are sorta sucky souls. But still.

I'm thinking we could play some kind of angle against a superstitious guy. Get him to believe things have to go a certain way. Maybe we could say a curse will fall on him if he doesn't... I dunno. Bring us in on the criminal network or something. It's a work in progress. Probably something a little less blatantly manipulative.
No. 928037 ID: 91ee5f

>I assume you'll want me to go after Reinhold because he's "superstitious," whatever that means.
Yes, we would like to go after him.

And superstitious sorta means believing in something that’s irrational.

For example: Someone thinks that if they sneeze, something good will happen to them. Or they think they need to do a certain action a specific way otherwise something bad will happen to them.

We’re hoping that this Reinhold guy believes in something stupid like that, so that we can use it against him.
No. 928131 ID: 688dd6
File 155408013119.png - (31.83KB , 700x800 , 172-snoop.png )

>superstitious sorta means believing in something that’s irrational.
I was under the impression this was the case for all mortals -- I'd go so far as to say it's fundamental to the human condition.

>Or they think they need to do a certain action a specific way otherwise something bad will happen to them.
Okay, but that's not irrational at all. The only reason I exist is because mortals were afraid of something like me existing. In this world, belief is as good as reason if enough people believe it. That's how gods get their power, through the thoughts of tens of thousands to millions of worshippers.

>I knew people were going to die tonight.
Guess you were right.

>Find him, then prepare a trap on the way towards the alehouse. Maybe a skeleton or two.
Gonna pass on walking the streets with a skeleton since there's still guards around. I went to a lot of trouble not to get blood on my clothes while I was killing all those people, just so I wouldn't look suspicious.

It took some walking, but I'm here at the alehouse now. Lights are still on. I see red fur through the window. Should I go inside or wait for him to come out?
No. 928134 ID: 101c3c

It'll be a pain, just like last time. We know he's inside, let's tail him when he exits.

We don't wanna spook him too bad, because he'll do something stupid like try to kill us, which will end in him dying and Niklaus getting mad at us. But we are very efficient at killing, which someone in his line of work has to appreciate. Time for a business proposal!
No. 928137 ID: b1b4f3

Is it just me or is there someone on the roof a ways behind you?
No. 928218 ID: 2fb5cd

you're being followed a ways behind you by someone on a roof.
No. 928279 ID: 977456

Don't turn around, they always vanish when you look. Just listen for creaking roofs behind you.
No. 928319 ID: 688dd6
File 155416719531.png - (31.41KB , 700x800 , 173-aprilfools.png )

>Is it just me or is there someone on the roof a ways behind you?
>you're being followed a ways behind you by someone on a roof.
Not this shit again.

>Don't turn around, they always vanish when you look.
Oh, how convenient. There's someone behind you watching you and by the way don't look or they won't be there. Haha, good prank, you got me. Let's skip to the part where you totally fooled me and we all got a laugh out of it. So do I go in or not?
No. 928329 ID: b1b4f3

Well last time you went into a well lit tavern you had some issues maintaining the disguise. Maybe you should wait outside this time.
No. 928333 ID: a9af05

If you keep not believing us, then the one time he does stick around, is the time you get stabbed in the back. Because you didn't believe us.
No. 928444 ID: b8d5aa

hide outside the alehouse until our target leaves. be watchful for other targets of opportunity- and for movements in the shadows and on the rooftops.
No. 928447 ID: 101c3c

So we hide outside the alehouse, and ask him... if he's looking for muscle? He doesn't run the black market, obviously, and I doubt he'd be willing to give us any info unless we bluff about needing to make some purchases or prove we're not just gonna snitch on him.
No. 928457 ID: 688dd6
File 155424110785.png - (16.24KB , 700x800 , 174-shadow.png )

>If you keep not believing us, then the one time he does stick around, is the time you get stabbed in the back. Because you didn't believe us.
What do you want from me? I looked last time, there was no one there. Now you're telling me not to look. I'm supposed to be the ghost in these stories, not some... rooftop guy.

>let's tail him when he exits.
>Maybe you should wait outside this time.
>hide outside the alehouse
I'll just lean against the wall for a while...


Zzz... whuh! Someone's coming out. I think it's him!

Whoa-- he's huge! If this guy's a gnoll, he's the biggest gnoll I've ever seen! He looks like he could pick me up off the ground and hurl me halfway across the town. Never seen red fur on a gnoll, either.
No. 928458 ID: 688dd6
File 155424112627.png - (22.33KB , 700x800 , 175-loom.png )

"Whatcha starin' at, pipsqueak? You need somethin'?"

No. 928464 ID: c1212a

'Geez you're a big mean looking bastard'
No. 928466 ID: 719d94

Well, you're staring, so it's obvious you've got questions about him... just ask them like you're complimenting him to throw off the suspicion.
"You just look so big and strong and manly I was wondering what you were and what you're doing tonight."

Speaking of which, do you have, like, bugbears around? I think they're really big and furry and red.
No. 928468 ID: b1b4f3

Yeah. You want in.
No. 928470 ID: bcc41d

I've got a scam idea that may or may not be terrible. It's got moving parts that may have to be tweaked pending reactions, but it might get you a lot of the info you need, rather swiftly, and provide your mortal identity with a cover story to boot.

(You could also just, y'know, try to talk scoundrel shop and get recruited into his gang. You've got lots of abilities that'd make you be able to pretend to be an excellent cat burglar lookin' for local thugs to cooperate with.)

The scam:

A hell of a guy, looks like. He got a bloodline or somethin'?

Ask him that, add the emphasis. Play into your surprise - SOUND surprised. Clarify that you don't often see people of his heritage. When/if he asks you who dares / what you mean, this is the lie you sell:

Say, dead serious, that you used to apprentice a demon hunter, before you got the hell out of your life. You think he's got a speck of demon blood, which uh... hoo boy. While it's got some benefits, his blood makes him attractive to demons, who'd want to consume him for the fraction of the power left in the bloodline. Demon-mortal couplings ain't exactly normal, y'know?

And, sorry to say, you've sensed one prowling about town since you got here. While you could hole up, you've been thinking you'd better get a drop on it before it got the drop on you, but... now that you've seen him, he's probably why it's here. Offer your apologies, but if he doesn't have any non-charlatan anti-demon defense on him about, he's sausage on a stick to it. The only advice you can give is to make a 'demonic pact'. If he gets attacked, he should try offering it something worth more to it than the blood in his veins, whatever it wants. It'll be bound to accept, and it can't hurt him as long as he doesn't hurt it.

As for you... you'll keep hunting. Frankly, you don't want to, but as long as it's around it's gonna cause trouble and, uh, much as you'd want to drop this on the town, the circumstances of your leaving the 'prenticeship weren't exactly what you'd call great so you don't want to go to the authorities and offer proof. Recommend he stay out of sight so the demon can't easily find him.

Then follow him discreetly, in your demon shape, and arrange an ambush, preferably in a dark, quiet alley if he cuts through one. Drop on him from above, hang from his back and put some teeth on his throat to prevent yelling. Be all creepy and say his blood smells delicious and does he have any last words? Hopefully he'll try to 'pact' you, then you can act annoyed and start dickerin' over whatever you want out of him and pump him for information while he's pliant. You can leave him no worse for wear after that, and later on, after the pact 'worked', you could re-approach him as the ex-hunter apprentice and try to get a contact as he'd be grateful to you for offering a solution that 'saved' his life and may want to engage you to 'teach' him your 'anti-demon lore'. Wouldn't that be a laugh.

That said, pulling off a con like this isn't easy and if it fails you're stuck with an alerted, extra-suspicious Rhein (or, worse, a dead Rhein). Then again, you HAVE been killing and eating a lot of souls around these parts of late, so a demon rumour might be popping up any time now anyway.
No. 928471 ID: 101c3c

We don't know how well-known he is, but calling him by name might be our foot in the door. We're some out-of-town stranger who heard of him? That's mysterious.
No. 928601 ID: 688dd6
File 155433797278.png - (18.11KB , 700x800 , 176-slap.png )

>do you have, like, bugbears around? I think they're really big and furry and red.
Never heard of 'em.

>'Geez you're a big mean looking bastard'
>A hell of a guy, looks like.
"Jeez, you're a big, mean-lookin' cunt!"

That makes him laugh. It's no lie, he must be close to eight feet tall. "Yeah? What's it to ya?" he asks, clapping a massive hand on my shoulder.

>calling him by name might be our foot in the door.
>You want in.
>You've got lots of abilities that'd make you be able to pretend to be an excellent cat burglar lookin' for local thugs to cooperate with.
>you used to apprentice a demon hunter
"It's nothin' to me, mister," I attest. "The stories didn't do justice to the Reinhold, is all."

He raises an eyebrow and opens his mouth, but I cut him off before he can question it, spinning my yarn. "I'm here looking for a job, you see. Back in the day, I was apprentice to a demon hunter, but it... didn't work out. I decided to take my skills to a different enterprise.

>Play into your surprise - SOUND surprised.
>He got a bloodline or somethin'?
"And I was just taken aback, is all, seeing you -- you look like a man with a bloodline."

He interjects with a smirk. "That'd be the case, yeah. Why d'you bring it up?"
No. 928602 ID: 688dd6
File 155433800266.png - (26.63KB , 700x800 , 177-tap.png )

>you HAVE been killing and eating a lot of souls around these parts of late, so a demon rumour might be popping up any time now anyway.
>his blood makes him attractive to demons
>sorry to say, you've sensed one prowling about town since you got here
"Well, it's-- you heard about the deaths recently, right?"

"Aye. Grisly stuff. Why?"

"I wasn't sure before, but seeing you-- the red fur, the stature, the reputation-- you've got a little demon blood in you, don't you? There's power in a bloodline like that, my old master told me. The murders must have been the work of one of them. I thought it might be after me, but now, I'm sure it's after you; that power attracts them, you see. If you don't have a defense agai--"

He raises a meaty finger and interrupts me. "I'm gonna stop ya there, li'l guy. I know a fair bit 'bout demons myself. You don't gotta worry 'bout me. If it goes after me... it'll regret it." His hand lowers to his hip and knowingly taps the hilt of an ornate-looking rapier. "I can take care of myself."

Shit. Now what?
No. 928615 ID: bcc41d

Now you know he actually has demonic blood AND what he uses to defend himself with. So if it came to a confrontation, you'd want to remove the sword from the equation - or at least retreat fast to not get perforated by an eight-foot giant's magic steel pokepole. Rein's gonna have a hellofa reach compared to you.

Nod appreciatively, act impressed. A magic sword would help.

Say you thought that probable demon might be a way in with your background... but since he's got that handled you'll have to offer your... other services instead. Sketch a bow, introduce yourself as Nadio - or whatever you feel like. Something that sounds like a pseudonym is par for the course here. Mention you're spry, got a deft hand, can climb and move around sneaky-like, know something about fighting and have yet to get yourself killed or caught - which ain't nothing to scoff at. You're sure you can make yourself useful to someone like him.

All you want in exchange is coins and reliable contacts - the kind that'll ask few questions. You've learned to be an anonymous backroom deals kind of guy.

(Now, if he's not interested in you or your pitch, you can try doubling down to sell yourself harder, or just act disappointed and take your leave in order to double back and follow him in demon form to see where he goes after chatting with you.)

Also... what's the actual deal with demonic bloodlines? If you know. Will he, like, be able to sense you're a 'kindred spirit'? Can he punch you with his bare fists and it'll hurt? That's an actual concern there - after all, he did kind of... touch you. Huh. That may've been deliberate. Even if it wasn't, wearing a cloak prevented him from being able to tell your clothes were an illusion. Niklaus' ignorance really saved your butt there.)
No. 928666 ID: b8d5aa

>demon blood
we learned earlier that demons don't actually procreate with humans in the normal sense, so it's doubtful that he has actual demon heritage, isn't it? he is the superstitious sort, though, so if we are picking up on demonic energies coming from him, maybe it is because he participates in some sort of occultism. dionaea is essentially a manifestation of humans' fears, isn't she? is it reasonable to think that reinhold might have gotten some of the same power in the same way, by making people fear him and believe in him as sort of a 'boogeyman'?
No. 928686 ID: 688dd6
File 155442830945.png - (15.38KB , 700x800 , 178-suspicion.png )

>Also... what's the actual deal with demonic bloodlines? If you know. Will he, like, be able to sense you're a 'kindred spirit'? Can he punch you with his bare fists and it'll hurt?
>it's doubtful that he has actual demon heritage, isn't it?
Huh? Demonic bloodlines are a real thing? I thought you were bluffing. I was just going along with what you told me to say.

I sure as fuck can't interbreed with mortals. I don't know much at all about other demons. Maybe they can? I mean, I don't think there's a lot of limitations on what forms a demon can come in. If he actually has "demon blood" in him I have literally no idea what he could do with it, if anything. Those are questions for a scholar! I really only know about my own stuff.

>Even if it wasn't, wearing a cloak prevented him from being able to tell your clothes were an illusion.
My clothes aren't an illusion. I can only take on the form of my victims. Niklaus gave me everything I'm wearing. It's only if he touched my fur that he'd realize something's wrong... and also he might notice if he slaps my shoulder again that he feels his hand hit me a few moments sooner than his eyes see it happen. This mouse was shorter than my normal form. Doesn't seem like he caught on this time, though. He's probably a little drunk; he did just come out of an alehouse, after all.

>is it reasonable to think that reinhold might have gotten some of the same power in the same way, by making people fear him and believe in him as sort of a 'boogeyman'?
No. It takes the populations of entire civilizations to do stuff like that to a mortal, assuming mortals even know it works that way. It's like a wizard casting a spell, except the wizard is thousands of people collectively and none of them are trained in magic and they don't even know they're doing it. Also, as at least one king I know of has discovered, making your subjects believe wild stuff about you to try and give yourself magic powers through it is more likely to create a magic creature based on you than to actually affect you in any way.

Though to be fair, the magic doppleganger did assume the throne for several years after he killed the rightful king before anyone figured out what happened, so in a way it sort of worked?

>Nod appreciatively, act impressed.
"Ah, of course. You do know your stuff, then. My apologies."

He folds his arms and changes the subject. "So, you're lookin' for a job, eh? Why's that bring you knocking on my door? I don't recall advertisin' any. Don't know what you've heard about me, pipsqueak, but I spend my days workin' with my hands, not handin' out work. Dunno what would bring a demon hunter 'round my haunts, callin' me by name, askin' me for a job. I'm keen to find out."
No. 928707 ID: 719d94

You didn't want a job from him, but you'd heard of him, so when he talked to you first, you talked back. That's just polite, right? Though, of course... if he does know of work for someone like you, that'd be appreciated. If not, well I guess you'll just have to "go your separate ways." (By which I mean get back on the sneaking plan, probably.)
No. 928728 ID: b8d5aa

>So, you're lookin' for a job, eh? Why's that bring you knocking on my door?

you've knocked on a lot of other doors, first. you heard some things that made you think that he might be a better door to come knocking on, so to speak, given what you have to offer.

just give us a chance, man!
No. 928739 ID: 101c3c

Those runes remind you of anything, or is his word good enough to believe that thing is actually cold iron or some other sort of demon-slayer? It's not like he can test it on a demon, he might've gotten swindled on account of being superstitious. Spectral Senses would work to verify it, later on.

If he's not the one making the calls, we can just ask who's handing out his work. Claim you haven't heard much past what drunks and alley-rats say, other than there being a market for both your abilities and anything you might be trying to sell without questions being asked. And that they wouldn't give up any names besides his, poke at him being at the bottom of the hierarchy.
No. 929142 ID: 688dd6
File 155477557594.png - (21.73KB , 700x800 , 179-cheek.png )

>Those runes remind you of anything
I think you are overestimating my academic knowledge. It doesn't remind me of anything. They put me in the mind of some squiggly lines.

>who's handing out his work
"Well, who're you working for, then? Maybe they can help me out."

He shrugs. "Ah, you know, odd jobs. No offense, but you and me? We don't work the same kinds of jobs. Look at us. I got the muscles, you got the... ehhhh... I'm sure there's somethin' under that cloak."

>if he does know of work for someone like you, that'd be appreciated.
>you've knocked on a lot of other doors, first.
>poke at him being at the bottom of the hierarchy.
"I get it. You're at the foot of the ladder, I should be asking further up. It's fine. But put my name in the ring, will you? I could use some connections."

To his credit, his face barely twitches at the slight. "I dunno what connections you think I got, but I don't think I ever caught your name."

"Call me Tolly," I tell him.

"Right. Well, it was an experience meetin' you, Tolly. You have a safe night, huh?"

Well shit. I don't think I really got much out of that. He's starting to walk off now. Should I follow him, or go investigate Jakob, or maybe get a better look around Niklaus's manor before the sun comes up?
No. 929184 ID: 977456

I wouldn't follow unless I was *really* confident in my abilities. He is likely to be observant after you broke his monotony, has been warned of a demon in the area, and knows that you specifically might have an interest in him.

Go look around Niklaus' place, doesn't hurt to be cautious. Also check for magical trackers or marks, never know how paranoid Reinhold is.
No. 929185 ID: b1b4f3

Yeah let's try the other guy.
No. 929190 ID: bcc41d

Part amiably, with only a light reproachful touch of muttered grouch over not having been trusted or hired.

"Safer'n some. Here's hopin' SOMEONE gets my value soon."

Put this one on a slow burn. He's got no reason to trust a total - and masked - stranger outta nowhere talkin' about ghastly murder being the work of a demon - and we did kind of flub selling your sneaky stealthy awesome skillset to the big and brawny bravo. Admitting you didn't know who his boss was might've been a tactical mistake. That said... you did get some potential intel out of him - his 'bloodline' and the fact his sword might be magic and lethal to you. And he'll probably name drop 'Tolly' to Jacob now. That'll get the ball rolling - and if you build on that rep, sooner or later the criminal underworld here will contact you. Criminal bosses don't like people of the same ilk operating without license.

Wander off in a different direction, then head off to investigate Jacob's place. Should probably swap disguises for that. Make sure YOU'RE not followed or observed.

Oh, and here's something we could do instead or in addition to investigating Jacob's.

Go rob a burgher's house w/out murder and without getting seen (if the latter happens, see the former). Take some valuable small trinkets, coins and gems preferably. Close to daybreak go find an inn with its back to an alley - rent a back room for, say, a week with some of your stolen cash. Tell 'em to take messages for 'Tolly' - anyone you talk to from here on you can now direct here. Obviously you'll be sneaking out the back and staying at Niklaus' place, so it's mainly just for the point of contact.

Then do the same with another inn, but sign in under a different name, in case you want to use a different persona (or have Tolly act like one sneaky fuck).
No. 929191 ID: b1b4f3

What is a burgher?
No. 929200 ID: bcc41d

A member of the city's middle-class, typically on the wealthy end.
No. 929260 ID: 0ebfe7

Well, that's as much as we'll get out of him tonight, it seems like. But we do have some idea of where to find him now, and good info on where Jakob is. Let's see if we can get a word in, pitching our 'services' to both of them might make us look desperate for work. Someone out-of-town in need of coin is just the kind of scum they'd pick up for dirty work.
No. 929337 ID: bcc41d

Almost forgot we had the ability, but we could give that sword of his a peep with Spectral Senses. Very briefly, though. Ghost-guy said it brought attention to you and the priest noticing you using it proved it.

Ghost-guy also said there were other demons about, who could've sensed your arrival. Hm. Thinking of it, Reinholdt said he knew plenty about demons already.

... could there be a demon in town holding that's holding Rein's reins? Or he's had encounters with them before. Or spoken to someone who is or has.
No. 929430 ID: 688dd6
File 155501814126.png - (33.63KB , 700x800 , 180-light.png )

>Almost forgot we had the ability, but we could give that sword of his a peep with Spectral Senses. Very briefly, though
All right, I said it before but I guess you forgot so I'll say it again. Taking a "very brief" look with Spectral Senses is like holding your hand in front of your face and moving it away for a split second. It's like sitting in a pitch black room and someone lights a lamp and immediately extinguishes it. What useful information do you think you're gonna get out of that, exactly? I have to take time to process what I'm seeing, to pick things apart from their surroundings...

Look, I know you're nervous about me exposing myself with it, but if you want the information, you have to commit to it. You have to decide it's worth the risk. I can't eliminate its downside without also eliminating its upside.

>the priest noticing you using it
He didn't. Like I said then, he noticed me because he's attuned to his deity, and his deity's nature is opposed to mine, so... it's like basking in a warmth and suddenly feeling a chill run up your arm. You just sense it nearby, so my Shadowblend didn't work on him. That's all.

>Should probably swap disguises for that.
I only have the one, Niklaus gave it to me.

>Yeah let's try the other guy.
>head off to investigate Jacob's place
I follow the taller buildings back towards the center of town. The guy I killed wasn't super specific about where the "outer ring" of the market district was, but I meander about until light catches my eye. There it is. Second floor, light's on. This must be where he works.


Wait, the light's on. He's got a lamp lit in there or something. I didn't think about that before. If you didn't want me to go into the alehouse to meet Reinhold, I'm guessing you don't want me going in there to meet Jakob either?

[ Dionaea has the following abilities:

Feed: Dionaea can consume the soul of a victim and use it to grow in power. Dionaea must have physical contact with the victim when they die.
Shadowblend: Dionaea can turn invisible so long as the observer is not looking for anything out of the ordinary.
Permeable: Dionaea is a being of shadow, rather than flesh. Normal weaponry and attacks will sink into her harmlessly.
Impersonate: Dionaea can take the form of anyone whose soul she has consumed.
Feral Claws: Dionaea gains sharpened claws capable of injuring and maiming.
Spectral Senses: Dionaea can observe the traces of things beyond mortal senses.
Speed: Dionaea can move very quickly.
Animate Skeleton: Dionaea can animate the fragile skeleton of someone she has slain, causing it to climb out of its meaty shell and serve her.
Leap: Dionaea can jump high and far. ]
No. 929433 ID: b1b4f3

This is a different situation. Can't exactly wait out here for him this time.
Why don't we try the direct approach? Just jump up there and introduce yourself.
No. 929439 ID: 6e42dc

No, don't 'jump up there' wearing your shadowy, full body disguising cloak. They'd think you're there to kill them. In most other situations, that would be true.

Let's just go in through the front door, or knock, or something.
No. 929459 ID: bcc41d

>dumbass suggestions
Look, we really can't be expected to remember every last detail as if it was yesterday (wait...) - anyway, I phrased it badly, but what I wanted was for you to turn on your spectral sense, get the information, then turn it off as soon as you'd figured it out. However long that took. You can do that next time we ask.

Like now. Check what magics Jacob has goin' for him before we try approaching his home. Do a little light surveillance - he's liable to have guards, for one.

Also, it MIGHT be weird if we approached him as Tolly right after approaching Rein - if the two trade stories later they'll wonder why you went to Rein first, pretended not to know Jakob, and then immediately went to Jakob afterwards.

>No disguise
You've got any number of peasant schlubs you can imitate that are unlikely to be recognized in town. Were none of them roughly the height of the mouse? Well, nevermind then. Guess it doesn't matter that much if your current go-to-shape is recognized. We'll make up an excuse if it comes up.
No. 929554 ID: 977456

That house looks wooden so you might be able to work your claws into it quietly. If so, you can probably climb up the wall and listen at the wall near the window. Does Permeable allow one to stick an ear through a wall?
No. 929572 ID: 688dd6
File 155511405794.png - (259.77KB , 700x800 , 181-spectralsenses.png )

>what I wanted was for you to turn on your spectral sense, get the information, then turn it off as soon as you'd figured it out.
That's what I would do if you said, say, 'use Spectral Senses to find out if his sword is magic.' But you didn't say that. You said 'use it very briefly' for 'a peep.' Just admit you were trying to have your cake and eat it, too!

>Does Permeable allow one to stick an ear through a wall?
No. To be permeable means that things can go through me. Me going through things is the exact opposite of that. I am not amorphous. I have some degree of freedom over how I present myself, but it's purely cosmetic. I'm not a slime monster. What is it with you guys and wanting me to ooze my way through solid objects?

>You've got any number of peasant schlubs you can imitate that are unlikely to be recognized in town. Were none of them roughly the height of the mouse?
Just changing my form would be a shitty disguise. I'm still wearing the same damn clothes. They can't even see my face anyway, so what would be the point? I'd need new clothes, especially since these are pretty nice.

>Why don't we try the direct approach? Just jump up there and introduce yourself.
>Let's just go in through the front door, or knock, or something.
>you can probably climb up the wall and listen near the window.
>Check what magics Jacob has goin' for him before we try approaching his home. Do a little light surveillance - he's liable to have guards, for one.
[ Dionaea activates Spectral Senses. ]

Hmnnn... I'm seeing two or three living creatures up there. Probably Jakob and two guards. I don't see any overt magic on them. I think there's some little enchantments scattered around the room, no idea if they're harmful or not, though.

Which approach should I take? Jump through his window? Find the front door and knock? Climb up the wall and listen? Or something else?
No. 929575 ID: b1b4f3

>little enchantments
Those are probably his goods for sale. I suspect that the "superstitious" label on the gnoll was there because people think he's being silly for carrying around a magic weapon.

I think you'd be fine if you went up there directly, but if they hit you with their weapons it'll be obvious what you are. It's probably better if only a few people in the organization know you're a demon. Are you confident you can disarm the guards if they attack? Killing them will not endear you to the criminals.
How about this, you jump *almost* all the way up there, and just kindof hang mostly out of the window? I mean hanging at shoulder height, not just with your hands. They might draw weapons but so long as you're not fully in the room and your hands are empty and visible they won't see you as a serious threat, and you can escape really easily anyway. Also less of you will be exposed to the light, which is nice.

You can introduce yourself and ask to be hired as an enforcer. They can give you a super dangerous mission for your first job if they want.
No. 929576 ID: bcc41d


Anyway, I like the cake idea - I mean, climb surreptitiously up and watch/listen in idea - but check that there won't be any immediate witnesses to your deed.

Jumping and/or slamming your claws into the wall will probably make noise, so don't, unless it's to introduce yourself like suggested earlier. To go silent, spreading out your claws on both hands would help you get purchase with multiple sharp points and then you can just haul yourself carefully upwards. You'll likely be more silent if you take it slow. You don't tire easy, right?

The two people do look like guards standing around talking, so the guy that is close to the window is - I think - sitting is probably Jacob. The magic items could be trinkets, weapons, enchanted blades - I think I see one object at roughly hip height of all the people which would be just about right for a dagger or similar so don't think of these guys as easy prey. Can you tell if any of the auras are form active spells or from objects? Like, alarm spells, do those exist at the level where a fat merchant could comfortably afford them?

It also seems KIND of like Jacob's got magic on his feet? Boots of speed?
No. 929580 ID: a9af05

Damnit, now you've made me hungry! I want to eat some cake!
No. 929582 ID: 977456

>things can go through me. Me going through things is the exact opposite
Huh... What if you dodge into an attack you didn't see, then it would be pushing into you, but you would also be pushing into it?
What if someone put up a hidden trip-line and had a blade in front of it? Or if you just fell into a spiked pit?
What of shields? Can you attack through them? Can you be bashed with them?
There must be some form of guiding principals here. Maybe if we understood them we could find some useful loop-holes, or at least push that advantage to its limit...

But yes, hiding your presence and listening at their window would be... well they are probably just bragging about their conquests, but it might be useful.
No. 929643 ID: 0096ba

Get up to that window, try and eavesdrop, if they see you then you can easily twist that into just being an unnaturally good sneak-thief rather than a demon, which would be very valuable to them. And any sort of hazing would be good for sating the thread's need to kill, anyway.
No. 929679 ID: 688dd6
File 155522348376.png - (13.17KB , 700x800 , 182-window.png )

[ Dionaea deactivates Spectral Senses. ]

>There must be some form of guiding principals here. Maybe if we understood them we could find some useful loop-holes, or at least push that advantage to its limit...
Okaaaaaay... let me put it in very simple terms for you. Any mundane object that could pierce human flesh will pierce me, but it can't actually hurt me, because I am a purely magical being. I'll just return to my normal shape when it's removed. Got it? Good.

Gods above and below, you'd think after untold centuries of existence I'd know if I could squeeze through walls like a jelly.

>Damnit, now you've made me hungry! I want to eat some cake!
Focus, clod.

>Are you confident you can disarm the guards if they attack?
Yes, as long as I use my Speed.

Just to be clear, I do not have "claws" unless I use Feral Claws. I can make my fingers pointy, but to actually use them for anything that requires sharpness I have to activate the ability.

>jump *almost* all the way up there, and just kindof hang mostly out of the window?
>climb surreptitiously up and watch/listen in idea
>hiding your presence and listening at their window
>Get up to that window, try and eavesdrop
All right, that seems like general agreement to me.

[ Dionaea activates Leap. ]
No. 929680 ID: 688dd6
File 155522349692.png - (13.84KB , 700x800 , 183-peek.png )

No. 929681 ID: 688dd6
File 155522358214.png - (23.78KB , 700x800 , 184-jakobsoftpaw.png )

I don't hear any talking. Just some faint scratching noises. What now?
No. 929683 ID: 26624b

Sneak behind him and knock him out with a choking headbutt combo. Then barricade the door.
No. 929686 ID: b1b4f3

The guards aren't even in the room, that's convenient.
...strange I thought you said someone was talking in there. Alright nevermind about listening in. Now that we've got an eyeful of the area I think we can confidently say a lot of the magic readings are not magic items for sale, since they were scattered about and we can't see anything in here to match. Some were clustered at where I think his desk is, so he's got stuff in the drawers. Might be a weapon of some sort in there, are there wands that can shoot fire or something?
The other readings are either spying devices or other sorts of devices he can trigger from his desk. Security devices maybe.

I imagine you could activate Speed to get in there and on top of him before he can call for help or activate any devices, which would let you set the terms for the ensuing negotiations for your business relationship. It's either that or sit on the sill and try to get his attention without him trying to immediately kill you.
No. 929709 ID: b8d5aa

let's not forget: the ultimate goal here is not to go on a murderous rampage, although it would be fun, but to get irontail's creditors off his case. whether it be by intimidation, or convincing them to leave him alone for other reasons.

if you simply let yourself in through the window, do you think jakob will call for his guards? can you let yourself in stealthily, catch him unaware, and then propose a deal- just like you did with niklaus?

my vote is to enter stealthily, greet him as mister softpaw, and then take up negotiations. negotiations in which you offer your services in exchange for easing off on poor mister irontail for a while.

whether or not you reveal yourself to be demonic in order to prove you've got the stuff- that's up to you.
No. 929717 ID: 91ee5f

>easing off on poor mister irontail for a while.
I thought we weren’t supposed to let anyone know we were associated with him?
No. 929797 ID: 688dd6
File 155528756275.png - (21.91KB , 700x800 , 185-sit.png )

>I thought you said someone was talking in there.
I never said anything of the sort.

>sit on the sill and try to get his attention
>enter stealthily
The fat rat doesn't look up when I climb inside. Doesn't seem like he's noticed me. After a few awkward moments of wincing in agony waiting for him to raise his head, I give a faint cough.
No. 929798 ID: 688dd6
File 155528757741.png - (15.09KB , 700x800 , 186-writing.png )

Jakob glances at me for a moment, then looks back down at his parchments, dipping the quill in its well. "Ah, you must be the monster. Might I inquire your name?"
No. 929800 ID: b8d5aa

"dionaea, ser softpaw."

be very wary because if he was expecting you, he will be prepared. this may be a trap.
No. 929802 ID: 977456

Is there any name-based magic or a chronicle of demons that would give reason to not throw your real name around? I would avoid the name you gave Reinhold though. They might discuss new faces...

>mundane object will pierce me, but can't hurt
So... You could go through a keyhole? Provided that there was sufficient force pushing you through, and the keyhole was sturdy enough to survive, and wasn't magic. Is there any demon or item magic that could help with this? Maybe a crushing magic that can self-target and leave an opening to ooze out of? And an ability to coat something in a resilient but non-demon-harming shell? That way you could, for example, find yourself trapped in a warded box with a tiny sound-tube to be interrogated with, and then you could coat the tube to protect against its wards and then squirt yourself out from what was meant to be an inescapable prison. Or you could infiltrate fortresses using a tiny drill to make holes nobody will notice.
What happens if you put your arm into a box that seals completely using scissor-blades? Would the arm be connected by a tiny sliver, thinner even than the air itself? Or maybe the arm would just dissipate? Or would you still control it and could use it as a remote manipulator? Or maybe it would reform into a perfect copy of you, at 1/10th scale...
No. 929812 ID: 91ee5f

>”Ah, you must be the monster. Might I inquire your name?"
He already knows what you are? And he’s speaking to you in an extremely casual manner? That must mean he has something here to protect himself from you.

Try to deny that you’re a monster. If he insists on knowing what you are, then admit to being a monster.

As for giving him your name, if there’s some sort of demon law that gives someone power over you by giving them your name, don’t tell him your real name. Just give him the name Tolly, just like you did with Reinhold.

And when Jakob asks the obvious “What business do you have with me?” question, tell him that depends on what business he’s got available for you. Does he have anything you could do for him?
No. 929823 ID: b1b4f3

Isn't it a bad idea to give a mortal your name? How about you tell him he can call you "Dio". Or Tolly again I guess.

Also ask him how he knows of you. Did someone see you killing those muggers?
No. 929890 ID: b8d5aa

don't deny that you're "the monster". ignore his comment about it. any mortal, mundane person could be 'the monster' if they racked up enough fear and credibility.
No. 929914 ID: 719d94

"You don't call everyone a monster who comes in through the window rather than the door, do you? That just seems rude, particularly in this line of work."

+1 on not using your real name or Tolly. Call yourself something new, maybe Tina. If you want to be showy and mysterious, as appropriate for someone climbing in through the window, maybe add something like a "I go by many names, but you may call me" to your self-introduction.
No. 929916 ID: 0ebfe7

If our reputation precedes us, then we can use that. Let's be curious about the extent of that, use it as an icebreaker. What's he heard about us? Just killing the priest? He might have use for services like ours, we know we have use for his.
No. 929924 ID: a9af05

>Focus, clod.
I can't help it! You made me hungry when you mentioned cake!

He was expecting you, huh?

Well, just ask him if he's got any sort of job for you. You'll do them in exchange for knocking off some of Niklaus' debt.

That is what we told Niklaus we'd do, right?
No. 929929 ID: 688dd6
File 155537280809.png - (15.38KB , 700x800 , 187-demonlore.png )

>You could go through a keyhole? Provided that there was sufficient force pushing you through, and the keyhole was sturdy enough to survive, and wasn't magic.
Could human flesh go through a keyhole? No? Then you've already failed my very simple test. Stop wasting time on absurd hypotheticals. I would rather demonstrate practically by being smashed flat under a twenty-ton weight than entertain this inane logic any further. You lot are worse than the Brotherhood of Knowledge.

I don't know how many times I have to say this: I'm. Not. A. Slime. Monster. I'm a demon. I'm not made out of jelly. I'm made out of magic.

>Isn't it a bad idea to give a mortal your name?
>Is there any name-based magic or a chronicle of demons that would give reason to not throw your real name around?
Never heard of such a thing, but then again I'm not a mage. Dionaea isn't even my real name, though. You guys came up with it, remember?

>demon law
No. There's nothing universal binding demons, other than that they are evil magical creatures. I was created long before the concept of a law even existed. Demons are simply... created to fill the roles that mortals expect of them. Most of the time.

>I would avoid the name you gave Reinhold
>Just give him the name Tolly
>tell him he can call you "Dio". Or Tolly again I guess.
>Call yourself something new
"I have many names, but you may call me Bartholomew, sir Softpaw."

The rat cracks a wry smile. "No need to call me sir. I'm no knight. Just a tradesman, and... knower of things."
No. 929930 ID: 688dd6
File 155537282017.png - (15.57KB , 700x800 , 188-gaze.png )

>What's he heard about us?
>Also ask him how he knows of you.
>don't deny that you're "the monster". ignore his comment about it.
>He was expecting you, huh?
"You were expecting me, then? Why? What have you heard about me?" I ask.

"Well, let's see... where shall I start?" Jakob continues writing as he speaks, the dry shuffling of parchment punctuating his sentences, as he flips through pages and pushes away documents to retrieve others. "I know that a farming hamlet just a few miles away was abruptly wiped off the map a few days ago, its entire population slaughtered." Unrolled scrolls are lifted and rearranged. "I know that on the road between here and there several travellers were killed, their valuables left untouched." Susurrous swishes cut through the following pause. "I know that two nights ago a laborer was murdered in an alley near the town's walls, and the next night a senior priest was savagely executed, his body desecrated.

"I know that a creature capable of such fearsome violence could easily butcher me before I even knew my life was in danger, and I know that no hooded mousefolk would -- if they even could -- come climbing quiet through my second-story window in the dead of night." A few faint scratches of his pen later, his hand finally stops. "I know that whatever would climb through my window, capable of these deeds, only to sit on the sill, a creature which knows me by name, must want something from me -- something that only I can provide." He finally sets the quill down in its inkwell and folds his hands together, resting his elbows on the table and gazing at me. His tail swishes slowly just above the floor behind him. "These are the things I know, which you also know, and that you know how I would know them. I give you this knowledge as a token of my good will. Now, in return, Bartholomew, I ask you to inform me of something which, though I have my suspicions, I do not know:

"What can I do for you?"
No. 929933 ID: a9af05

Take a seat in the chair that's in front of his desk. Then begin doing business with him.
No. 929945 ID: b1b4f3

Well, he can give you targets. Experienced people that are nonetheless within your capability to kill. He can also ensure that the city will remain open to you, and that you can leave it if needed. That broken ward will be noticed eventually after all.
Also he can let you fence your ill gotten gains, and let you buy things more useful to you. Some caltrops would be useful. Nonlethal so they don't steal kills, harmless to you, and excellent for disabling enemies. Other nonlethal weaponry would be great, like shuriken (so long as you don't hit vitals) or poison darts/powder that can cause paralysis or sleep.

Also jeez louise you're leaving a trail of corpses. Anyone paying attention to that kind of thing would know there's a monster in town. I don't think we can stay here for all our murdering purposes. Might be a good idea to arrange for another corpse trail leading to another city, then reduce the frequency of killings, or actually start to travel for big targets while keeping this as a home base and using Niklaus to gather power.
Speaking of Nilaus I can't think of a way to get these guys off his back without also making it obvious you're aligned with him. This guy is obviously pretty smart, after all. That would be a risk because Jakob might eventually decide you're too dangerous and try to kill you in your sleep. ...maybe you can obfuscate things a bit by picking multiple people for him to forgive the debts of? Then he'd either have to spend resources to check out all of them, or try to have you followed.

Also you should express doubt that he would be expecting you yet not have some means of protecting himself. Does he not have a bunch of magic devices lining the room? Ask what they do, what sort of trap did he have prepared for you if you killed him?
No. 929964 ID: 91ee5f

Do this.

>what sort of trap did he have prepared for you if you killed him?
Or attempted to kill him, if the trap activates before we get close to him.
No. 930002 ID: 0ebfe7

> "I know that whatever would climb through my window, capable of these deeds, only to sit on the sill, a creature which knows me by name, must want something from me -- something that only I can provide."

Fuck he's good. Niklaus wasn't kidding.

We want work. He doesn't need to know why exactly, nor the details of our nature, but it should be enough for him to know he can get a trustworthy assassin and a trader for magical goods and other tools of the trade.

The trail of bodies does betray that our work isn't particularly clean, but if he needs someone dead, maybe he can leave that bit to us and get some other lackeys to do the clean-up. Or maybe he just needs something more boring, like valuables stolen or people scared shitless, which we're also good at given our mobility and demonic nature.

We need connections, and can give these guys another thing to worry about so they won't be bothering him as much, while we figure out how to get him off the hook without raising suspicion.
No. 930052 ID: b8d5aa

what he can do for you is ease off on niklaus, though you might not want to lead with that. niklaus is a safe harbor, for the moment, though you have no real allegiance to him.

he asks what he can do for you?

no. pull your mask off, get in real close, and ask what YOU can do for HIM.
No. 930084 ID: 688dd6
File 155547091485.png - (17.98KB , 700x800 , 189-hop.png )

>pull your mask off, get in real close, and ask what YOU can do for HIM.
I feel the need to remind you that mortals can't see my red eyes when I'm Impersonating someone, so while I presume you're going for me intimidating him with my demon form, I'd actually just be a weird mouse guy shoving my face in his.

>you should express doubt that he would be expecting you yet not have some means of protecting himself.
"I'll be honest, I'm skeptical." I say. "I expected you to try to kill me. You knew I was coming, but you don't have any trap set up? After all that about the trail of bodies I've left? What would you have done if I killed you?"

Jakob chuckles. "You guess in error, my friend. I had no idea you were coming. I simply put the pieces together when I looked up and saw you sitting there. What other explanation was there? Truth be told, I expected the guards to take care of you on their own time, and didn't think about you much at all. You coming to visit me is... a surprise, though not an unwelcome one.

"As I've already said, I'm sure you could have butchered me before I even knew I was in danger. I'm not a warrior, or a mage. I'm a merchant, and an opportunist. If you were here to kill me, you would have done it long ago, which means that you're here for something else. Tell me. I'm listening."
No. 930087 ID: 688dd6
File 155547097150.png - (18.61KB , 800x700 , 190-bargain.png )

>Take a seat in the chair that's in front of his desk.
>We want work.
>We need connections
The chair and the path I walk to it aren't trapped. I sit down in it, doing my best to ignore the lamplight biting every inch of my exposed form. "Well, then. You know what I'm capable of. You know I'm not a mindless brute for the same reasons you aren't currently dead. I'm here for work. Do you have any?"

It's the first time he seems fazed by the situation. "Work?" he asks, unable to completely stifle the bewilderment in his voice. "You want... a job? From me? Why?"

"You said it yourself. The guards will get to me eventually if I keep doing what I've been doing. I need connections and influence, and a reliable way in and out of town. And I know that you've put yourself in the position of providing those things for people who aren't upright citizens."

The confusion ebbs and that slight smile of his returns. "That's not something you know, which I also know, that I know how you would know it. But nevertheless, I may be able to help you. Assassination isn't something I have a great need for, but there is a task well-suited to your particular talents that I have been mulling over for a while. Complete it, and you'd be more than an employee to me; I'd consider you a business partner. Not only would I pay you handsomely, but you would need somewhere to spend that money, yes? I can provide you with easy access to the best black market in the empire, and smuggle you in and out of town any time you like. If that's not enough, I'd consider you favorably if you should ask me for anything else you might need. What do you say?"
No. 930090 ID: b1b4f3

>exposed form
Ah, I was wondering if wearing more clothing helped. Sounds like it does. What parts are exposed still that could be easily covered without interfering with your abilities?

Ask him what the job is. The reward does sound good.
If he's sending you to kill or otherwise hassle Niklaus, then you'll have to ask him why. You visited his manor and he didn't seem to have anything of worth.
No. 930182 ID: 0ebfe7

Sounds good, now get more details. With a reward like that this has to be something major, which'll be fun to tackle, or something with multiple steps which should keep us occupied for a while. Either way, he's got pen and paper right there so he could give us a map for future reference, ask about that. We're having so much trouble just getting around lately.

Also, point out that we can feel the magic energy near him. Does he keep arcane trinkets around? Does he trade them directly? They can be useful and dangerous to us, so any info is good to have.
No. 930200 ID: a9af05

Do this.
No. 930272 ID: 688dd6
File 155556425502.png - (12.22KB , 700x800 , 191-stare.png )

>Ah, I was wondering if wearing more clothing helped. Sounds like it does.
Sort of. Again, light doesn't actually injure me, it's a purely mental pain. It's like holding your hand in scalding hot water versus dunking your entire body in it. It doesn't hurt as much but it's not really a noticeable improvement. If I covered every other part of my body, I'd still be pouring scalding hot water onto my eyes. It literally can't not distract me.

>What parts are exposed still that could be easily covered without interfering with your abilities?
Technically all clothing interferes with my abilities. I need to be touching a victim when they die to Feed. I can be touching them with any part of my body, so covering any part of it makes that more difficult. My clothing also won't Shadowblend with me so that ability is essentially useless with it on; as soon as they noticed my clothing they'd notice the rest of me. It's really only useful to me for the impression it gives to mortals.

>Ask him what the job is.
>get more details.
"All right. What's the task? You have to tell me eventually."

"Something very simple for someone like you. Just another random death in your recent spate of killings. The town's wealthier residents reside on the hill overlooking it. I would like you to go to a specific one of these residences and murder its owner. That's it. It should not be very difficult for you, considering what you've already done before we met, and it should not draw much additional attention. You may cleave your way through the guards to get to him if necessary, but I must stridently insist that you do not harm the building's servants."

>If he's sending you to kill or otherwise hassle Niklaus, then you'll have to ask him why. You visited his manor and he didn't seem to have anything of worth.
>Do this.
It's pretty obvious he's talking about Niklaus. "That guy? Why? His manor didn't seem to have anything of worth in it."

Jakob's smile vanishes in an instant, and he stares at me.
No. 930273 ID: 688dd6
File 155556426454.png - (12.96KB , 700x800 , 192-busy.png )

An uncomfortably long time passes in silence. If it weren't for his eyes moving I'd think I had triggered some spell that turned him to stone. I don't understand what he's doing and it's weirding me out. When he finally speaks again, his face is expressionless.

"The 'why' is something I know, which you do not know. Such knowledge is not given freely. I opened our dealings by telling you things we both knew, and knew how the other would know them, as a gesture of good will, because it placed us on equal footing. To tell you more would put me at an unfair disadvantage. If you want my help, go and kill him. I will know when you have completed the task. It would seem to me that you require no further help from me in doing so. You may leave the way you came in."

He picks up his quill again and resumes writing.

>he could give us a map for future reference, ask about that
>Does he keep arcane trinkets around? Does he trade them directly?
It doesn't seem like he's going to give me anything else, now.
No. 930274 ID: b1b4f3

Alright, there's obviously something Niklaus didn't tell you. Let's go interrogate and maybe kill him.
No. 930277 ID: 91ee5f

>Let's go interrogate and maybe kill him.
Yeah, do this.

Sure, we agreed to help Niklaus and I feel kinda bad for him, but in the long run, the fat rat, er Jakob, he’ll provide better connections and resources than Niklaus can.

And let’s be honest, Dionaea isn’t some hero meant to save every person with a sob story, so if we need to kill Niklaus, she’s not gonna lose any sleep over it.
No. 930287 ID: 70131c

I agree that we should interrogate Niklaus, and be ready to kill him.

When the time comes, should it come, give him a clean death. That much he deserves.
No. 930294 ID: 977456

Well, that sounds like a deal with no benefit to you. The guy's offer is entirely dependent upon his reputation, which is only as good as his ability to quiet anyone he fails, which seems considerable. It also makes you dependent upon him. Granted, you don't have many other offers, but this would look like a desperate move on your part. At least haggle for some pay and contact up-front, or better yet, take your leave and look for better offers.
No. 930300 ID: 88fc59

What age is this? The Age of Shadows.
We'll make the shadows taller and longer.

Let's go kill Niklaus. Actually, leaving his servants be would probably do them a favor, too. He hardly pays them, right? They could find greener pastures without him.
No. 930316 ID: 0ebfe7

This is sketchy. We clearly got a reaction from him, so maybe we can push him about it some more. Maybe it's not his decision, but that of someone higher up the chain of command. That said, spouting off more names will only get us in trouble.

Either way, Niklaus was already in fear of assassins getting to him, but why? Corpses can't pay debts. If the house changes owners, that's it for the servants too, so it's curious he'd be worrying about us not killing them either.
No. 930317 ID: b8d5aa

while of course we wouldn't shed any tears over niklaus' demise, it really doesn't feel like the best option. for one, we've got a pretty cushy arrangement with the basement spot, and it's better to have niklaus under our thumb than to be jakob's servant.

i don't know about aggressively interrogating niklaus, either, because, really, how much do we really care? it's their business. we're just in it for ourselves.

couldn't hurt to ask, but it might be even more fun to try to figure out what's going on without killing your current patron, and might put us in a better position.

jakob says that you knowing the details of the situation between himself and niklaus would put him at "an unfair disadvantage". what did he mean by this?

"ah, i see. lovers' spat?"
No. 930318 ID: 094652

Yeah, no.

See, the criminal underworld KNOWS Niklaus is @#$%ed. He doesn't have any skill to carve out anything beyond leeching on the barons' corruption and stagnacy. He's the equivalent of a placeholder image on a game board; anyone wants to claim an empty safehouse, they just have to fight the guards, kill him, and make up a lie about Niklaus' illegitimacy. Hell, YOU claimed his house already. He has no friends or family to back up any of his claims, and the only reason he hasn't been kicked out of his mansion by a random... well, you, is because he still has a tiny army. If any of the big players want his land they can just pay the iron price and be done with it.

So why do they want HIM dead?

Because they know he's special. You can always kill Niklaus later, but whatever this guy knows is important enough to let a psycho mass-murdering demoness from hell loose just to end him, OR he's totally going to screw you over and tip the local army of your whereabouts.
No. 930322 ID: a9af05

Don't mention that you've already met with Niklaus. Telling Jakob that you've already met with Niklaus and saying you'd help clear his debt ain't gonna help.

And if you tell Jakob that you'll kill Niklaus because Jakob made a better offer, that'll just make Jakob not trust you because you can easily turn on him and kill him if someone else makes a better offer.
No. 930343 ID: 688dd6
File 155563894392.png - (30.86KB , 700x800 , 193-trek.png )

>Let's go interrogate and maybe kill him.
>Yeah, do this.
>I agree that we should interrogate Niklaus, and be ready to kill him.
>Let's go kill Niklaus.
What, really? Alright, I guess.

>take your leave and look for better offers.
>This is sketchy.
>it really doesn't feel like the best option.
>Yeah, no.
Or not, geez. Maybe you should discuss this amongst yourselves first? Not like I'm in a rush.

For what it's worth, I think I should be trying to start my own faction. I've learned over the centuries that the best way to expand my influence is with a dependable network of loyal allies, and the best strategy for recruitment is to find vulnerable, desperate people and position myself as someone who can solve their problems, improve their lives, and give them purpose. I may have been born as a monster, long ago, but mortals have taught me how to be so much more than that. I can be a general, a trickster, a priestess, a warrior, a diplomat, a leader -- an empress. Death is not the only thing that operates in shadows. Guile, persuasiveness, and secrecy are also my domain.

I grow in power from consuming souls, but I can gain just as much power from sparing them. I have to consider what they are worth to me alive, not just right now, but in the future. And there's no reason I can't make both of them happy, with a little tact and artistry.

>maybe we can push him about it some more.
>couldn't hurt to ask
I think it could hurt, actually. I don't want to antagonize him. I'm just going to head back to Niklaus's manor.
No. 930344 ID: 688dd6
File 155563895288.png - (36.19KB , 700x800 , 194-clamor.png )

Weirdly enough, I didn't even have to climb over the wall this time. The guard at the gate opened it for me when I walked by and let me in. Weird. I can just stroll in the front door.

...Wait. Am I in the wrong building? Why are there so many people here? It's dim, crowded, and noisy inside.

"Aha! I do not recognize this one!" A rat with a bright, syrupy accent bustles towards me immediately. "We welcome you, sire. My honor to make your acquaintance! Please, let your hood down. Will it be food or drink tonight?"
No. 930346 ID: 2cc14c

I don't buy any of this. An illusion, maybe?
Spectral senses. Now.
No. 930347 ID: b1b4f3

Tell her you're here to speak with Niklaus. He is expecting you.

Wander about and eavesdrop on people.
No. 930364 ID: a9af05

Does that occasionally include being a lover to someone?

Because sometimes a gentle and loving touch is all the motivation some people need to do what you want them to do.

No. 930366 ID: 094652

Order some fries, ask her to deliver them outside. Then approach the building from another entrance.
No. 930368 ID: 91ee5f

Ask for Niklaus. Tell her the name you’ve been giving everyone else. And let her know that if Niklaus claims he doesn’t know you, tell her to tell him that you met with him last night about forming a partnership with him. Hopefully that will let him know that you’re the demon that said that she’d help him last night.

You’re probably going to look suspicious if you just stand around doing nothing, so you might need to eat or drink something to kinda blend in.

>eavesdrop on people.
Also do this.

Oh, come on. Dionaea already said she’s not gonna do that, so don’t try to push her into doing that!
No. 930371 ID: b1b4f3

Oh, here's a possible reason why they want Niklaus dead and for all the servants to be unharmed: they have someone in position to claim ownership after he's dead. So if we're going to smooth things over for Niklaus we need to find out how the criminals are trying to take over after he's gone, and make that more difficult.
Obviously they won't be pleased about this, but so long as both of you are no longer worth the effort of killing they won't go after you. They might put some small bounty on your heads though. For you that's not too bad, as you have the opportunity to fight back and eat whoever tries to kill you, and the criminals will put that bounty out on your current disguise which you can easily change. For him that's not so great, it means he can't go out in public without trusted guards.

Obviously this would mean we lose any opportunity to work for the criminals but you just implied you're better off working with Niklaus in the long run.
No. 930372 ID: 977456

Well... this is... some sort of gathering. With specific "guests"? Presumably illegal? The property didn't seem to have space for an arena, performances seem likely. Then again, it could just be an exclusive club.

I can't see them harming you easily, so I would just go along with it and try to learn something. Try to stall. Act as though you have had a rough day and just want to relax for a while before choosing anything.
No. 930386 ID: b8d5aa

of course you do not need food or drink, but is it possible for you to eat or drink just to blend in? i hope the light isn't going to be too bothersome.

"neither, lady. what's the occasion for the festivities?"

followed by:

"i need to speak with ser irontail."
No. 930457 ID: 688dd6
File 155572819392.png - (19.22KB , 700x800 , 195-servant.png )

>Spectral senses. Now.
I can't. Used 'em back at Jakob's office. They aren't available again yet. But the kind of master illusionist it would take to create a scene like this over such a large area would almost certainly be able to fool my Spectral Senses with some fake life signatures, so it wouldn't be much help anyway if this were somehow a trick.

>Does that occasionally include being a lover to someone? Because sometimes a gentle and loving touch is all the motivation some people need to do what you want them to do.
Hahahahaha, get the fuck out of here. I'll gently caress your mother, before I rip her throat out.

>i hope the light isn't going to be too bothersome.
It's dim. A mere nibble compared to what I've put up with today.

>Act as though you have had a rough day and just want to relax
Done and done. I don't even have to act.

>Tell her you're here to speak with Niklaus. He is expecting you.
>Ask for Niklaus. Tell her the name you’ve been giving everyone else.
>i need to speak with ser irontail.
"Neither. I'm here to speak with Niklaus, he's expecting me. Why all the commotion?"

The servant giggles and covers her mouth. "Oooh, Master Irontail's friend, are we? What's the name?"


"Well, I'll go right up and fetch him then, sir Bartholomew. Give me a moment, I don't expect he'll be in a good mood. Make yourself at home in the meantime!"
No. 930458 ID: 688dd6
File 155572820722.png - (25.48KB , 700x800 , 196-goblin.png )

She disappears through one of the doors, and I'm left alone among the hubbub. No one else seems to be paying much attention to me. There's several dozen people here; flickering lanterns provide a low, moody light, and I can hear jaunty music over the bubbling voices, clattering mugs, clinking coins, and squealing stools. None of them seem like the kind of people Niklaus would host in his home, but apparently I didn't wander into the wrong house.

>Wander about and eavesdrop on people.
I shuffle around the place a little. There's a bunch of people scuttling around, serving fresh-cooked food and lots of wine and ale to the tables. I don't know how I didn't hear all this on my way out. I guess I did climb out a window on the other side of the building, since you seemed like you were in a rush to go meet Reinhold. All I hear is people talking about their lives, realm politics I don't understand, shit like that. There's--

Oooh! Is that a goblin? I love goblins!
No. 930459 ID: b1b4f3

Really? I suppose you should go make friends then.
No. 930496 ID: 977456

They're all alone, they might be an outlier. Just don't be surprised if there is some quirk that ruins the "goblin experience" for you.
No. 930497 ID: 094652

You mean in a "self-loathing minion" way or an "underrated long-term soul power cattle project" way?

Don't show your interest just yet. Make a note of anything that might act as a trace and focus on Bart.
No. 930516 ID: 33b450

>I love goblins!
I thought you said you didn't do all of that love stuff? Are goblins and exception to the rule?
No. 930519 ID: 91ee5f

That’s not what she’s talking about and you know it.
No. 930520 ID: 0ebfe7

That's a seat we can take, and we can make conversation while we wait for Niklaus, so it all works out. She said he wouldn't be in a good mood, something might've happened while we were away.

What's your thing with goblins, anyway? Are their souls really tasty or are they easy to sway into working for you, or something?
No. 930578 ID: 688dd6
File 155581872549.png - (11.97KB , 700x800 , 197-surprised.png )

Yes! They're my favorite kind of mortal.

>I thought you said you didn't do all of that love stuff?
Look out, everybody! We've discovered the new densest material known to man.

>go make friends then.
>make conversation while we wait for Niklaus
I take a seat across from the goblin. Sometimes it's hard to tell their genders; this is definitely one of those goblins. Between the emaciation, the hairlessness, and the baggy clothes, it could go either way. A moment passes before it realizes I'm sitting there.

"Hello," I say.

"H-hi," it stammers. "Do you need something?"

"Just making conversation. I'm waiting for somebody. What're you doing here?"

"I work here," the goblin mutters. Its voice does sound vaguely feminine.

"Why're you just sitting here, then? Shouldn't you be serving tables?"

"I'm... taking a break. It's a lot of work."
No. 930579 ID: 688dd6
File 155581873759.png - (10.74KB , 700x800 , 198-snarl.png )

"What's a goblin doing working here, anyway?" I continue prodding it with questions. "Seems like the rest of the staff is ratfolk."

The goblin gives me the best glare it can muster at that. "You don't believe me, do you?"

"Sure I do. I'm just curious."

It sighs. "It's a long story. Why does it matter? There's goblins everywhere."

"I know. I like to meet them. What's your name?"

"You do?" It gives me a skeptical look. "Why do you want to know, anyway? Are you trying to get me in trouble? Old master Irontail told me not to talk to strangers any more than I had to."

"I'm not trying to get you in trouble, I just wanna know," I press it. It sighs.

"I guess it doesn't really matter. I'm Sosatoush. Everyone calls me Sosa, though."

"You're a girl, right? That sounds like a girl's name."

"Yeah. I am. What's it to you?" she growls, like a dog that grew up being kicked and sees the foot pulling back again. This is why I love goblins. They're the most interesting mortals I've ever met. If I could ever call a race of flesh and blood creatures 'my people,' it would be them.

I do my best to reassure her. "Nothing. It's not obvious from looking at you. Just wanted to see how good I was at guessing." She turns her head back down to stare at the table without a response.
No. 930580 ID: 688dd6
File 155581874958.png - (11.73KB , 700x800 , 199-puzzling.png )

Taking some pleasure in poking her when she clearly doesn't want to talk, I ask her another innocent question. "Have you been here long?"

Despite her obvious reluctance, she keeps answering them. "A while. Years."

"What brought you to Kelorus?"

"It's not important." That answer doesn't really surprise me. Goblins almost never want to talk about their past, in my experience.

"Are you bound to serve Niklaus, or can you leave when you like?"

Sosa looks puzzled. "Do you know Master Irontail?"

"Yes. I'm his friend. He's the person I'm waiting for."

"Oh..." Her expression changes to one of worriment, and she doesn't answer the question.

I decide to mess with her a little, and dig up some of my old Ancient Dwarven. "I can be your friend, too. I've always been fond of xatraavi."

She blinks slowly and mouths out the word in confusion, trying to parse it into her race's charming creole. "Xa- xat- sotrav--"
No. 930581 ID: 688dd6
File 155581876070.png - (13.07KB , 700x800 , 200-moshvak-neelosh.png )

Suddenly her eyes widen, and her body shudders. Her pupils dilate, and angry blue fire surges into them. Her voice shifts and echoes, her normal voice overwhelmed by the booming diction of another being.

"Do not toy with my subjects, demon. This one is important to me. You will not tamper with her fate. Begone." she hisses.
No. 930582 ID: 688dd6
File 155581877707.gif - (16.69KB , 700x800 , 201-aback.gif )

A hand claps me on the shoulder. It's the ratfolk servant from before, her accent dripping just as much honey. "The master awaits you in his sitting room, sir Bartholomew. Shall I escort you there?"
No. 930583 ID: b1b4f3

Haha what the fuck was that? Some kind of deity?

Yeah how about we get the fuck out of here and talk to Niklaus for a bit. Maybe we can ask him about the goblin too, and find out what her deal is.
No. 930586 ID: 977456

You are right, goblins ARE fun! I would keep this to mild prodding though. As much a that sounded like a challenge, you already have a lot on your plate. That said... she DOES sound like someone who would be receptive to certain deals. She sounded like she didn't want Niklous to know she was off-script. Perhaps she is under his thumb? Or spends time under him? Or could even just be a loyal employee avoiding trouble for her master? Or maybe beholden to a third party and avoiding attention... so many possibilities!

Alas, there is no benefit to appearing to keep Niklous waiting, so off to work...
No. 930591 ID: 91ee5f

So, I think that’s enough “fun” with the goblin. Let’s go meet Niklaus.

Don’t make eye contact with the goblin as you walk away.
No. 930613 ID: c9c19d

aww but you were just getting to the fun part.
...you were expecting this, right?
No. 930616 ID: 094652

I'm going to address the elephant in the room - what the hell was that? You're the expert and apparently you just ^&*( your pants.

Time to discuss your contract with Niklaus. Prepare your spells, this might get soul-wrenching.
No. 930625 ID: f2320a

yeah goblins are fun
No. 930681 ID: 688dd6
File 155590022051.png - (16.25KB , 700x800 , 202-slumped.png )

>Yeah how about we get the fuck out of here and talk to Niklaus for a bit.
Uhhhhhh yeah let's do that!

>You are right, goblins ARE fun!
See? Never a dull moment with goblins.

>...you were expecting this, right?
No. That has never happened before.

>Some kind of deity?
>what the hell was that? You're the expert
If I had to guess, it was her patron deity. Goblins have a pantheon and each of them is claimed on birth by one of them, usually their mother's. That's about all I know. You'd have to ask a goblin for the specifics.

Maybe a different goblin.

>Don’t make eye contact with the goblin as you walk away.
Not an issue. By the time I look back, she's already back to normal and staring at the table again.
No. 930682 ID: 688dd6
File 155590023210.png - (26.57KB , 700x800 , 203-opening.png )

I follow the servant girl through one of the doors, and the din of the gathering instantly fades when it shuts behind us, muffled until it's entirely inaudible further down the hall.

"Master Irontail filled me in on the details, sire," she says, filling in the silence as we walk through darkened halls. "It's such a joy to hear that the two of you have reunited. Who would have thought he had a distant, long-lost cousin out there? I must say, mouse or no, I can see the blood running through your veins."

She stops at one of the doors and places her hand on the handle, cracking it open. "I do hope that your family can indeed help him restore glory to ours, sire. We all despaired that the Irontail name might ever mean anything again. Your arrival is the opportunity we have all prayed for."
No. 930685 ID: b1b4f3

Oh dear. He made up a cover story for you, but... if he dies and there's no other living relatives, your mouse disguise persona would inherit the manor, wouldn't it? If he told anyone else the same story and the information made its way to Jakob, then that could be why you were told to kill him. But this hinges on a few facts that we haven't confirmed yet, so I wouldn't really put much faith in that hypothesis.

Anyway, tell the servant thanks but it's going to be tough with the manor in its current state.
Go in, and ask Niklaus just how private this room is. Could anyone listen at the door?
We need to know what Jakob would gain from his death, because he seemed completely unwilling to discuss an alternative. Who would inherit the estate? Would Jakob be able to lay claim to the place just from the weight of outstanding debts? Maybe in order to protect Niklaus we'd have to start making him enough money to pay off Jakob, which would mean they'd have no interest in killing him anymore.
We could rob some other rich bastard to accomplish that.
No. 930691 ID: 91ee5f

Tell Niklaus that you met up with Jakob and he correctly guessed that you weren’t actually a mortal. You wanted to ask Jakob for a job and, upon completion, you ask the reward go towards getting rid of Niklaus’ debt.

Unfortunately, the job Jakob gave you was to come and kill Niklaus. So, now that a demon actually has been sent to kill him this time, maybe he’d like to tell you if this is really only for a debt that’s owed? Or is there something else going on?

Because if he wants this partnership with you to work out, he’s gotta start helping you out by coming up with ideas that’ll convince Jakob to not want him dead.
No. 930693 ID: 20b7eb

>if he dies and there's no other living relatives, your mouse disguise persona would inherit the manor, wouldn't it?
well, that and the debts
No. 930706 ID: 977456

Pasue for a moment as though thinking, then tell her that you would like it if she could just write down a small list of her own concerns and thoughts on the problems. That she reminds you of someone who once provided a valuable insight.

Another perspective on matters might help detangle some of these conspiracies.
No. 930707 ID: 094652

Tell him you are seriously considering a better offer; after all, you're a mass-murdering demon from hell. The smart one knows what you are, and wants you to kill him - but why? The house is comfy to hide in but it's not worth the hassle of sending a rampaging, soul devouring beast to destroy property values across the board. Someone wants his bloodline erased and they played the long game to ruin him completely.

He needs to fess up. Now. Or you'll just take the simple option.
No. 930768 ID: 0ebfe7

Why would Niklaus even need a cover story if we've been careful not to go through the front doors? And he's propping you up as someone who could potentially save him, too. We've got the threat of Jakob's hit on him to push him with, too, so let's get some answers.

Let's lock the door behind us and present ourselves in our true form, while we're at it.
No. 930799 ID: 688dd6
File 155598736145.png - (11.40KB , 700x800 , 204-nose.png )

>tell her that you would like it if she could just write down a small list of her own concerns and thoughts on the problems.
Rather optimistic to assume she can write. If you want me to ask her questions, I'll just hunt her down later. She seems easy to find.

>Let's lock the door behind us and present ourselves in our true form
I'm not sure this is a good idea, in case the servants are nosy, but... what the hell, it's been a while since I got to be myself. Pretty sure the door doesn't lock from either side without a key, though.

As I go through to close the door behind me, the servant pokes her nose around the edge of it and whispers sweetly, "Do be careful, sire. His kind likes ice and fire both."
No. 930800 ID: 688dd6
File 155598738039.png - (18.41KB , 700x800 , 205-pace.png )

"You look different," Niklaus comments as I enter.

[ Dionaea stops Impersonating a victim. ]

"You didn't tell me you could change shapes," he adds.

"It's an illusion, not shapeshifting. Why did you tell her I was your cousin? Why the need for a cover story if I've never gone through the front door? And you're casting me as your potential savior?"

He holds up his hands in a defensive gesture. "Whoa, now, why the hostility? First of all, how can you say that to me after you quite literally walked through the front door and up to one of my servants? I had to come up with something to tell her. That you were my distant cousin was the first thing that came to mind. And that's the truth, isn't it? You're someone who could potentially save me. It's fine; I told her not to get anyone's hopes up."

I pace around his seat, tail lashing. "Well, I spoke to Jakob. He figured out immediately that I was no mortal. I asked him for a job to win his trust and work towards freeing you of your debt, and he gave me one -- to kill you."

Niklaus gives a wan smile. "Now you know why I thought it so when we first met."

"But why, Irontail? It's a nice manor, but why would he threaten your life for it? Why would he play such a long game to bring you to utter ruin? Why is he so intent on erasing your bloodline?"

"I don't know!" he protests. "I have no idea why he's so ruthless. He was born a black-hearted bastard, isn't that enough? Don't tell me he sweet-talked you too. I told you he was a silver-tongued liar."

"He didn't lie to me," I point out. "He was very meticulous about laying out only facts."

His eyelid twitches in irritation. "Exactly like I told you he would!" he hisses. "Were my exact words not 'I've never met a man who used authenticity so duplicitously?' So he didn't lie to your face. Did he tell you anything useful? No. He sowed doubts in your head and turned you against your ally, and then walked you out the door so you could lie to yourself for him. Believe me, I've seen it all before."
No. 930801 ID: 688dd6
File 155598738923.png - (21.18KB , 700x800 , 206-argument.png )

"Who would inherit your estate if you died?" I demand.

He shrugs. "I'm the last of my name. My family's decline began before I was born; I merely accelerated it. If I died, I imagine the Emperor would reclaim possession of the land and the manor and bestow it to someone else. The servants would have to fend for themselves, and the new owner would do as they liked with what I left behind. But to position themselves next in line for it would require far too much political capital for too little reward. I swear to you there's nothing of significant worth left on the whole property. All the heirlooms, all the artifacts, all the trinkets -- I sold them long ago."

I jab a finger at him. "Now I know you're lying. The whole reason I came here is that I sensed a lot of magic in the place."

He throws his hands up. "God in Heaven! How should I know why you sensed it? I don't know magic and I didn't pay attention in my artificer studies. I swear to you I sold it all. I combed the whole place top to bottom myself. I had every damn fork and bowl appraised for enchantments. The only objects of value left are sentimental."

"What about Bartholomew? Wouldn't he be next in line to inherit? Does Jakob know that? Is that why he sent me to kill you?"

Niklaus scoffs. "He may be a clever piece of shit, but I know damn well he can't see through time. I made up that story twenty minutes ago, after you got here. And don't go getting your hopes up; some long-lost cousin from outside the Empire wouldn't have a stronger claim to the land than the Emperor."

"I just don't believe it. There's really nothing more to this than your debts? If you want my help, you'd better tell me."

"For the last time, that's all I know! Is it really so hard to believe that he's a sadistic, greedy fuck who'll gladly wring me of every last coin? For the love of God, if you'd rather make your bed with Duke Furthing, then just kill me. But you'll regret it just as my family did. I may not be a moral paragon, but I'm still a man of honor, and my word is my bond. I would never purposefully deceive you. He and all those who work for him are scum, and they'll stab you in the back before they let you climb on their heads."

"What should I do with you, then? Give me some ideas so I don't have to solve this the easy way."

"I don't know! Why the fuck do you think I asked you?! I don't know what to do! For the last few months I've been sleeping with a sword, just hoping to die fighting! I'm a cornered animal! You said you were a problem solver, so solve the problem! I'll do whatever I have to do, but I can't tell you what that is because I DON'T KNOW!"
No. 930803 ID: b1b4f3

Alright if he doesn't know anything, then I think Jakob knows something he doesn't know.
Use Spectral Senses again as soon as it's available so you can track down whatever's magical in here. That's what Jakob is after, for sure. If we can get it first, Jakob will likely back off since he can't get it anymore.

Also Jakob did tell you something useful- he wants all the servants alive but doesn't care about the guards. Are the servants special? Ask Niklaus about that "ice and fire" comment. Also, the blood thing. Is there anything special about his bloodline? She also implied it didn't have anything to do with being a mouse...
No. 930807 ID: 094652

"... Something tells me those 'sentimental' trinkets are at the very root of your problems.

Your goblin servant, for instance. I like her, she's cute. Her guardian spirit? Not so much. Now where would she even find an attunement artifact to link with a powerful spirit if she spends all her time in your empty house with its 'worthless' trinkets?

And of course, even if I could wring the locations out of you, they will work best in the hands of their bloodline owner. So you get to live. Until you live no longer."
No. 930811 ID: 2202fb

"You are either a lying, dishonorable bastard, or there is something game-changing here you dont know about."

Lets learn about the house history and if there is any interesting history about the land it is on.
No. 930818 ID: 91ee5f

Hey, I know this is a bad time, but now that you’re wearing this outfit as yourself, I’d just like to reiterate that you look adorable in it!

Anyways, back to the task at hand.....

Ask Niklaus why there’s a huge party going on? You’d think someone that’s got a huge debt wouldn’t be able to afford to throw a party like that.

This makes the most sense. There must be something special hidden in this house that Niklaus doesn’t know about, along with the servants themselves being special in their own way.

Then again, maybe Jakob doesn’t want the servants killed because he won’t have to waste money on replacing them when he takes this manor from Niklaus.

Once Spectral Senses are available, turn them on and let’s go on a treasure hunt with Niklaus. We’re bringing him with us because you don’t have access to certain places of the house and the guards will be suspicious of you walking around alone, but with Niklaus at your side, the guards will leave you alone so you guys can explore. You’ll also have to put on that same Impersonation you were using.
No. 930824 ID: 977456

Will the magic of whatever is here help to hide your use of Spectral Senses?
No. 930827 ID: 20b7eb

it appears there's magic hidden somewhere. maybe finding it would explain something.
personally i'd start with the basement, but really it could be anywhere.
use spectral senses?
No. 930870 ID: 64356b

Both of these.
No. 930919 ID: b8d5aa

let's think for a minute. if jakob knew there was some powerful magical artifact hidden in the manor, wouldn't he just demand it from niklaus like he's demanded everything else? i think there is something else going on.

let's change the topic for a moment and ask about the party, and his servants, and that strange 'fire and ice' comment. and let's definitely not go poking around in full-on demon form where all the guards can see, even if we do have niklaus' blessing.
No. 930921 ID: e715fe

I'm thinking Sosa is probably involved in the same sort of plots, whether she knows it or not. She probably doesn't work for Jakob, but it wouldn't surprise me if there were more than one with the agency to come looking for all this.

Which means if you can figure out what it is, and get it first, you'll simultaneously have this very much wanted thing, and also be targeted because of it.

Tell Niklaus that you're still going to solve his problem for him, and you'll try to make it be in a way that won't get him killed.
No. 930923 ID: b1b4f3

It's probably something Jakob doesn't want Niklaus to know about, for whatever reason. Maybe something powerful enough Niklaus could use it to stand up to his debtors directly? Or something that's worth way more than the debt, so they want to gain access to it directly?

Or maybe they want the servants alive to try to wring money out of them. Like "your master had the debt, it now transfers to you"
No. 930933 ID: 688dd6
File 155606437807.png - (12.23KB , 700x800 , 207-duress.png )

A silence hangs in the air for a long time after he screams at me. I watch while tremors run through his body, his shoulders flexing and heaving as he draws in shuddering breaths. I can see the frustration and desperate anguish in every knotted muscle along the back of his neck, his form hunched over in tearless grieving. When I look at him I see an animal not merely cornered but crippled gorily, somehow surviving its injuries, but only to spend every waking moment suffering, dreading every touch to its festering wounds.

Pity is alien to me, but I was born a huntress, and I can recognize someone else's prey. I find no joy in tormenting a quarry that was brought low by another, no pride in toying with a creature I did not lame. That is the domain of a scavenger, utterly beneath me, and the disgust the thought evokes in me might suffice as empathy. Perhaps it was the wrong approach to interrogate him so harshly, when plainly his heartstrings are wound so tight that they might snap.

I don't feel tired like mortals do, the dullness of mind and leadenness of body that screams at them to sleep or die, but I can feel exhaustion of the spirit. It's been a long night, and not long from now daylight will begin to creep its abhorrent way over the horizon. I want to rest. I can ask him more questions if you think it necessary, but I don't know how much good it will do. I feel like I have all the answers I need, anyway. I just don't know how to put them together. That's your job, I think. If you need me to play sleuth before you're satisfied doing so, I'll do it tomorrow.
No. 930937 ID: b1b4f3

Are you not gonna comment on any of our theories?
No. 930938 ID: e715fe

Let's all get some rest. You don't need to reassure him, but letting him vent probably helped a little anyway. Tell him he's going to live a good while longer if you have any say in it, and tomorrow night, you'll look around his manor more.
No. 930944 ID: 91ee5f

Just tell Niklaus that you think there’s something magic hidden somewhere in his house and that might be what Jakob wants. The sun’s almost up, so you’ll have to wait until tomorrow night to go treasure hunting with him.

Tell him not to die during the day while you’re asleep.
No. 930946 ID: 1e415e

Niklaus is a paragon of a broken man. At this point, I doubt suicide is far beyond him. Leave him with some semblance of a reassurance, even if a false one. At least make clear that he doesn't die by your hand, not today.

I personally think we should help him. He has nothing, making him prime material for an ally, yet is in a position to gain much, with a little help, making him valuable in the long run. On the other hand, Jakob is rather powerful in his own right, and doesn't actually need you; making you expendable to him, a tool, if you would. You will have a hard time gaining any control over Jakob, making him a liability, even if an ally in the short-term. Overall, I believe you stand to gain far more from Niklaus.
No. 930950 ID: 8d4593

I agree.

Tell him that you will solve his problem, but you need him to stay alive to do it.
No. 930971 ID: 977456

Ask if he has heard of people creeping around on rooftops.
Yes! This again! I am not clear on where our senses come from, and maybe they can be fooled, but Creepy Rooftop Stalker is as verified as we are able. You yourself are capable of some exotic stealth abilities with limited use, so don't be so quick to doubt that others are using their own brand of conventionally-impossible hiding.
No. 930989 ID: 91ee5f

>Creepy Rooftop Stalker
I’ve been thinking about that guy for a while and I might have a theory on why he keeps disappearing when we tell Dionaea to look behind her.

Hey, Dionaea, are you the only one that can hear us? Is it possible for someone else to hear the things we say to you? Because if it’s possible for us to be heard by someone other than you, that might explain how the guy on the rooftop keeps disappearing at the exact moment we tell you to look behind you. He hears us tell you, so he quickly hides before you can see him.
No. 931032 ID: a9af05

Yeah, if the sun is coming up, then you can go looking for magic things around the house tomorrow night.

Just let Niklaus know that you're gonna sleep and both of you can look around tomorrow night. And tell him to not throw a party tomorrow night, so that you guys have less people here to bother you.
No. 931037 ID: d63ea8


Niklaus strikes me as someone who would honour their debts with us once we have this sorted. Jakob might give us easy work now, but they would stab us in the back as soon as they had the chance.
No. 931071 ID: 688dd6
File 155615583694.png - (22.23KB , 700x800 , 208-confer.png )

>Are you not gonna comment on any of our theories?
What do you want me to say? They range from the plausible to the utterly oblivious. I've said what I think is important and I tire of repeating myself. Mortal affairs are not my forte. I listen to you because you ought to understand them better.

>Ask if he has heard of people creeping around on rooftops.
No. What kind of useful information could I possibly get from that?

>Hey, Dionaea, are you the only one that can hear us?
I dunno, probably.

>He hears us tell you, so he quickly hides before you can see him.
Did they do that when you told me earlier tonight? You told me not to look, so if they disappeared anyway, maybe it's plausible.

>Let's all get some rest.
>Leave him with some semblance of a reassurance
>Tell him that you will solve his problem
>Just let Niklaus know that you're gonna sleep and both of you can look around tomorrow night.
>And tell him to not throw a party tomorrow night, so that you guys have less people here to bother you.
I break the long silence. "I'm going to rest in the cellar until night falls again," I tell him. "I will do my best to help you, but when I said I was a skilled problem solver, I meant I was good at killing people who posed problems. It was innuendo. Since you've tied my hands on that, I have to find a less violent solution, which isn't my expertise, and will take time. Keep your head on until I can."

Niklaus lets out a rattling sigh. "I just don't see how killing them would make anything better. Not unless you killed your way right up to the Duke and freed me of my debt to him. Do you think you're capable of that?"

I consider the thought, and answer honestly. "No. I'm not that powerful yet."

"Even if you did," he continues, "you'd have the whole Empire after you. You'd be in more trouble than I am. And if I'm indebted to you for your help, that trouble is mine too. I'd go from one nightmare to another."

"What's with the party out there, by the way? I thought you said you were poor. Having all those people around is going to be bothersome."

He gives me a weary look. "Party? What? Oh. The servants run an alehouse and wine bar out there and rent the lower floor rooms out. Don't you remember? I told you I couldn't afford to pay them anymore. They have to get by somehow. I just let them run the place how they will."
No. 931073 ID: b1b4f3

Ah, so they have a source of income. Yeah it could very well be that Jakob (or the Duke?) is planning to offload the debt onto the servants. Hmm. Not sure how we can discourage or prevent that. Tempting to try to ask the goblin's patron for assistance since she's part of the staff here and thus potentially in danger of inheriting the debt. You're more familiar with gods than we are, how safe would it be to even talk to the goblin again?

Still, whatever's magical in here could be useful even if it's unrelated. Or, you know, we could just pawn it off.
...I wonder if we can work on our powerbase by killing off or otherwise sabotaging Niklaus's rivals? Seems like a slow method though. We could also, possibly get Niklaus's debt forgiven by gathering some extremely valuable information and delivering it to Jakob. We'd have to be sure they don't know about it already though.

Also no, the guy on the roof didn't move when we told you about him that time. It'd be embarrassing if it was a weird-looking chimney...
No. 931076 ID: 91ee5f

>Mortal affairs are not my forte. I listen to you because you ought to understand them better.
Well, with the way Niklaus is acting right now, usually what you’re supposed to do is either give him a hug or a pat on the back to help him feel better. But I know that’s not your kinda thing, so don’t do that.

>He gives me a weary look. "Party? What? Oh. The servants run an alehouse and wine bar out there and rent the lower floor rooms out. Don't you remember? I told you I couldn't afford to pay them anymore. They have to get by somehow. I just let them run the place how they will."
I really hope this doesn’t mean that the magic you sensed here before belonged to someone staying in one of the rooms the servants rented out. Because that would mean that there isn’t some special magical trinkets hidden here!

And holy shit, his weary face actually makes him look like he’s aged into an old man! He must be really fucking tired if he looks that bad!

I know that he’s afraid of getting killed in his sleep, but you’ve got to tell him to take better care of himself, otherwise he’ll literally kill himself from lack of sleep!
No. 931090 ID: c93db0

Well, I do believe that's all the questions we need pester him with for now. I think it's off to bed. Do remember to give a proper goodbye to Niklaus, demon or no, you must hold yourself to certain standards of class.
No. 931141 ID: a9af05

There's not much else to say. Let's head to your barrel and sleep.

>He needs to take better care of himself.
Yeah, he really does.
No. 931143 ID: b8d5aa

so is this a pretty straightforward case of jakob thinking he's squeezed as much as he can out of niklaus, and trying to finagle his way into possession of the manor (and its profitable ale-house) once niklaus is gone? i get the feeling it's more than that. back when you invited yourself in to visit jakob, he seemed to know a lot more about you than he should have in advance.

because of this, i think any further murders should be postponed for the moment, until the heat dies down. remember how the whole city's protected by a magical ward, and you snuck in through a hole? i bet now that it's known there's a monster in town, whoever's in charge of that will be going around the perimeter with a fine-toothed comb, making sure nothing else can get in- and that you can't get out.

you're going to be hunted. and when niklaus doesn't immediately end up dead within a day or two, jakob's going to be doubly suspicious.

the basement may not be safe much longer. you're going to need new hidey-holes, and start alternating between them. finding more places to stay can be one of your chores tomorrow night.
No. 931212 ID: 688dd6
File 155631821274.png - (15.99KB , 700x800 , 209-blanched.png )

[ Dionaea Impersonates a victim. ]

>I think it's off to bed.
>He needs to take better care of himself.
"Try to get some sleep, Irontail. You already look the part of a corpse," I tell him as I make my way out of the room. Outside, the servant girl is still standing there, blanched. I'm briefly concerned that she might have seen something she shouldn't have, but quickly realize she just heard angry shouting through the door.

"Sh-should I escort you back, sir Bartholomew?" she asks uncertainly.

"No, thank you. I have business to attend to. You may leave."
No. 931213 ID: 688dd6
File 155631822593.png - (11.33KB , 700x800 , 210-cellar.png )

Then I make my way back down to the cellar, where it's cool and dark and relaxing. Tonight has been as tiring as it was exasperating. I don't feel like I've done a very good job of reading into the situation. So much walking and talking, so little progress. I look forward to curling up in the shadows.

>the guy on the roof didn't move when we told you about him that time.
Probably can't hear you talk to me then. Why do you assume it's magic, anyway? Maybe they just see me turning around and move, or were already leaving before I looked.

>You're more familiar with gods than we are, how safe would it be to even talk to the goblin again?
I dunno. Never seen one do that before.

>I really hope this doesn’t mean that the magic you sensed here before belonged to someone staying in one of the rooms the servants rented out.
Me too.

It's a box.

>chores tomorrow night.
Ughhhhhhh. Can't I just kill everyone involved and skip town?
No. 931214 ID: 688dd6
File 155631823764.png - (8.87KB , 700x800 , 211-closing.png )

I discard the borrowed clothes in the trunk, climb back into my box, and get ready to sleep through the day.
No. 931215 ID: 688dd6
File 155631824540.png - (1.71KB , 700x800 , 212-slumber.png )

No. 931216 ID: 688dd6
File 155631825124.png - (19.80KB , 700x800 , 213-huxa.png )

No. 931217 ID: b1b4f3

Another dream?
No. 931280 ID: 977456

It occurs that the magic we sensed earlier might have been the goblin. It'd stink to go scanning the whole place in a great treasure hunt, just to find a protagonist goblin. Actually... protagoblanist is pretty sweet loot. We gotta tap that for sweet magical goodness. Any underling that can levitate and make their eyes glow is a good acquisition!
No. 931287 ID: 20b7eb

making an enemy out of a god might be a bad idea.
No. 931291 ID: bcc41d

Probably a memory.
No. 931296 ID: 0ebfe7

Get inside, dammit, it's snowing hard.

There's no way it was just the goblin, we sensed a good amount of magic here. Besides, maybe she only gives off magic when she's doing her glowy-eye trick, just like Dionaea gives off a stronger magic signature when using abilities.

Sosatoush knows we're here already, so we're probably good on using Spectral Senses to find whatever else is emanating magic in this manor. Impersonating has already proven to work for letting us walk around, and since we're Niklaus' cousin now, we should be free to go through the entire place without servants or guards bothering us.
No. 931311 ID: 688dd6
File 155639966704.png - (24.03KB , 700x800 , 214-sanuhk.png )

No. 931312 ID: 688dd6
File 155639967317.png - (16.17KB , 700x800 , 215-nadvahkun.png )

No. 931313 ID: 688dd6
File 155639967837.png - (25.84KB , 700x800 , 216-zjomazjang.png )

No. 931314 ID: 688dd6
File 155639968339.png - (21.94KB , 700x800 , 217-mataht.png )

No. 931315 ID: 20b7eb

No. 931318 ID: b1b4f3

Listening to a crystal?
No. 931321 ID: a9af05

Trying to summon something by attaching a magic crystal to a music box?
No. 931330 ID: 688dd6
File 155641061553.png - (14.48KB , 700x800 , 218-yahkul.png )

No. 931331 ID: 688dd6
File 155641062501.png - (17.36KB , 700x800 , 219-hiekaht.png )

No. 931332 ID: b1b4f3

I wonder if these image names mean anything? I'm gonna ask Dionaea for a translation when she wakes up.
No. 931333 ID: e715fe

Those trees are pretty far off. Hopefully they won't have anything nasty in them.
No. 931334 ID: 977456

All work and no play makes Dwarf something something.
No. 931338 ID: a9af05

Go crazy?
No. 931350 ID: 094652


Now do the beaver! You're going to need an acre of firewood for this ritual!
No. 931465 ID: 688dd6
File 155650281889.png - (23.76KB , 700x800 , 220-siytii.png )

No. 931466 ID: 688dd6
File 155650282537.png - (22.77KB , 700x800 , 221-laaj.png )

No. 931467 ID: 688dd6
File 155650283418.png - (21.77KB , 700x800 , 222-wul.png )

No. 931468 ID: 688dd6
File 155650285646.png - (22.49KB , 700x800 , 223-kuhm.png )

No. 931471 ID: 91ee5f

Ha! The tree fell on him! XD
No. 931475 ID: 977456

Dwarf uses cut!
Tree's defence fell...
Tree uses Timber!
It's super-effective!
No. 931477 ID: 094652

Yeah, this happens to beavers more often than it should. This is why you hack from the side and make sure you have the dexterity to dodge anyway.

And now, back to the murder show.
No. 931496 ID: b8d5aa

who are these people? what are these devices, and why are they being shown to us? obviously this is relevant somehow. is it a dream? an old memory?
No. 931498 ID: 0cfbce

consume corpse?
No. 931500 ID: 20b7eb

you had one job!
No. 931504 ID: a9af05

And he fucked it up!
No. 931508 ID: 977456

So... the demon of "if a tree falls in the forest, and nobody survives to tell the tale..."?
No. 931511 ID: 0ebfe7

Someone's pushing the tree.
No. 931527 ID: 688dd6
File 155659254273.png - (23.79KB , 700x800 , 224-liin.png )

No. 931528 ID: 688dd6
File 155659254865.png - (25.97KB , 700x800 , 225-ceqva.png )

No. 931531 ID: 977456

I mean, I would warn you, but that never works...
No. 931637 ID: 1e8b83
File 155672391511.png - (17.87KB , 700x800 , 1556718977397.png )

No. 931638 ID: 1e8b83
File 155672393180.png - (30.50KB , 700x800 , 1556722543292.png )

No. 931639 ID: 1e8b83
File 155672394108.png - (25.45KB , 700x800 , 1556723866469.png )

No. 931640 ID: 1e8b83
File 155672395191.png - (18.21KB , 700x800 , 1556723876646.png )

No. 931673 ID: a9af05

Looked like his face was slowly disintegrating.
No. 931682 ID: 977456

Way to be a pal! That guy had serious frostbite, and now he's got a warm meal.
No. 931693 ID: 017879

Looking at the ends of where his cloak is tied, and his hat, and it looks like a perfectly vertical segment of him was disappearing. Like he was trying to push past the 4th wall and simply didn't exist beyond it or something.

Possibly related to that straight-edged chasm of darkness he was working next to.
No. 931721 ID: 017879

On further examination, it looks like he was studying the blackness, then got pushed into it and it disappeared his hands and face. Also, earlier, the treefeller was held in place by the wrist before the tree fell on him.
No. 931740 ID: f1ee8b
File 155681020091.png - (17.27KB , 700x800 , 1556805157506.png )

No. 931741 ID: f1ee8b
File 155681021252.png - (18.71KB , 700x800 , 1556806289754.png )

No. 931742 ID: f1ee8b
File 155681022272.png - (25.67KB , 700x800 , 1556810169016.png )

No. 931747 ID: b1b4f3

Dionaea really can become a horror movie monster when she wants to be, can't she.
No. 931748 ID: 094652

An awnotha', an' awnotha', an' awnotha'...
No. 931764 ID: 977456

I am not convinced that this is D. She is more predatory and... "from the darkness is comes, we cannot escape"... sort-of. This, well, they don't seem to be scared enough? More like assassination and less like being hunted...

Still, they do seem to love physical contact at the moment of death, so probably a demon of some sort. Or an angel?
No. 931822 ID: 91ee5f

“Hey, buddy. Let me ax you a question.”

“That’s actually a hatchet, not an ax.”
No. 931830 ID: a9af05

You say that as a joke, but I can imagine that as a legit reason someone got killed. Being a smartass and ruining a joke.
No. 931845 ID: 977456

Yes, but they they could have gone with "you counted your eggs before they... hatcheted" or something. I mean, "let me axe you a question" doesn't work if you are gouging their eyes out with a rusty spoon, you can only stretch proper nomenclature so far and keep a joke, and these look like people who know their axes from their hatchets...
No. 932130 ID: 2cc9a8
File 155716338155.png - (33.88KB , 700x800 , 1557153091705.png )

No. 932131 ID: 2cc9a8
File 155716339217.png - (29.25KB , 700x800 , 1557162149138.png )

No. 932132 ID: 2cc9a8
File 155716340178.png - (21.33KB , 700x800 , 1557163353570.png )

No. 932141 ID: 2202fb

touch teh face

pet teh face
No. 932146 ID: 977456

You can pick your friends.
You can pick your nose.
But you can't pick your friend's nose.
This is no longer your friend!
No. 932230 ID: 0ebfe7

Can't have the axe deliver a killing blow, need to be holding them! And this is one of the better ways to make sure of that.
No. 942607 ID: 688dd6
File 156583216999.png - (89.68KB , 1984x2268 , 236-zjogahvaet.png )

No. 942609 ID: 688dd6
File 156583218902.png - (99.79KB , 1984x2268 , 237-kokaeva.png )

No. 942610 ID: 688dd6
File 156583219672.png - (111.35KB , 1984x2268 , 238-bieguzj.png )

No. 942631 ID: 6f9d46

Give them a stab with the stake to make sure and give them a burial in the snow.
No. 942632 ID: 0ebfe7

Inspect corpse. Is that a foot on the left side?
No. 942633 ID: b1b4f3

Check the earlier updates. Two dwarves have now died here.

Follow the tracks... (and get murdered because lol that's not a magical gun)
No. 942635 ID: 688dd6
File 156583957036.png - (27.89KB , 700x800 , 239-fahz.png )

No. 942636 ID: 688dd6
File 156583958928.png - (96.29KB , 1984x2268 , 240-dajuhrjixiid.png )

No. 942637 ID: 688dd6
File 156583960365.png - (87.43KB , 1984x2268 , 241-niivat.png )

No. 942638 ID: 6f9d46

Well, okay, don't shoot.
No. 942639 ID: e5e15e

talk it out.
No. 942640 ID: 0ebfe7

Both of you know what to do, rush him! It will definitely end well for everyone.
No. 942642 ID: 688dd6
File 156584159329.png - (96.05KB , 700x800 , 242-kopied.png )

No. 942643 ID: 688dd6
File 156584159815.png - (97.41KB , 700x800 , 243-chakaet.png )

No. 942644 ID: 0ebfe7

All of you should reflect on the decisions that led you to this moment.
No. 942646 ID: 094652

Keep walking. Reach your destination. Leap.
No. 942655 ID: 977456

Consume lethal volumes of alcohol.
No. 942714 ID: 0c9a8e

Done playing yet?
No. 942717 ID: 688dd6
File 156592198518.png - (108.46KB , 700x800 , 244-helzik.png )

No. 942718 ID: 688dd6
File 156592199310.png - (100.90KB , 700x800 , 245-niinyiin.png )

No. 942719 ID: 094652

row row row your boat row row row your boat row row row your boat row row row your boat row row row your boat
No. 942720 ID: 6f9d46

Board the ship. You're almost there.
No. 942721 ID: 0ebfe7

Change of plans? That bolt shouldn't have done anything.
No. 942725 ID: 91ee5f

Kill the guy that shot you.

Chase after the running guy before he rows too far away.

It didn’t do anything.

That’s a completely different person and he’s abandoning the crossbow guy that shot us.
No. 942729 ID: 688dd6
File 156592816491.png - (118.71KB , 700x800 , 246-iet.png )

No. 942730 ID: 688dd6
File 156592817092.png - (125.83KB , 700x800 , 247-zjovo.png )

No. 942731 ID: 688dd6
File 156592817726.png - (97.93KB , 700x800 , 248-fiykazjok.png )

No. 942732 ID: 688dd6
File 156592818344.png - (1.71KB , 700x800 , 249-zjodaev.png )

No. 942733 ID: 688dd6
File 156592818895.png - (42.14KB , 700x800 , 250-select.png )

Dionaea's influence allows you to leave her for a short time to observe her allies.

Will you follow a SIDESTORY as Niklaus, or CONTINUE as Dionaea?

The side story will not affect Dionaea's story.
No. 942734 ID: 0fae41

Stick with our little shadow monster.
No. 942735 ID: 6f9d46

Let's play as Nicklaus and then go fuck off in a circle. We'll fuck around.
No. 942737 ID: 094652

Dionaea is best murder puppy
No. 942738 ID: b8d5aa

follow the side story.
No. 942739 ID: 977456

Ugh, too difficult! Dionaea is best personified crime-against-civilisation, but... I kinda wanna see what she gets up to without us...
Ehh, we just came out of a different perspective, let's not do two in a row: Dionaea.
No. 942749 ID: a9af05

Let's try playing as Niklaus for a while.

>The side story will not affect Dionaea's story.
That's not true. If Niklaus gains something useful that Dionaea can use, then that would count as affecting Dionaea's story, since she would use whatever Niklaus gives her.

Same thing if we make poor decisions and something bad happens to Niklaus while we're playing as him. If Niklaus gets kidnapped, injured, or killed, that would affect Dionaea's story by removing an ally that can help her.
No. 942824 ID: b1b4f3

Let's go with Niklaus. I imagine it'll give us some backstory, which may help our decision making in the future.
No. 942843 ID: 0ebfe7

I'm still curious about Niklaus.
No. 951297 ID: ae948a

Is this coming back?
No. 974888 ID: 9c6850
File 159813706585.png - (133.40KB , 907x794 , 251-groggy.png )

>Dionaea: 3
>Niklaus: 5

[ Niklaus is an indirect player character, and cannot hear or speak to you. However, you can influence his mental state by making suggestions or simply by reacting, which will influence his reactions and thereby the decisions he makes. ]

The sun has risen outside Niklaus's bedroom window. After his midnight parley with the terrifying shadow-creature that has taken over his basement, he was left with little time for sleep. On the other hand, he probably wouldn't have used it well anyway. His head aches, and his eyelids feel like stiffened leather.
No. 974889 ID: 9c6850
File 159813708699.png - (162.13KB , 907x794 , 252-gracie.png )

As if on cue, a relentlessly cheery rat woman with a bright, syrupy accent knocks and enters the room with a plate of food. "Morning, my lord! I hope I am not bothering you, but it is ten-o-clock already, so I brought you some breakfast."

"Thank you, Gracie, you're too kind. I don't deserve you. How was the tavern last night?" Niklaus asks.

"Well enough, sire, well enough! We earn our keep downstairs." She pauses. "You could have told me you were having a visitor, you know. He riled up poor Sosa, I think, she said she wasn't feeling well and turned in early."

"I'm sorry. I didn't know sh-- he was visiting either. I don't know why you keep that goblin around, honestly. All she does is sit around and mope."
No. 974890 ID: 9c6850
File 159813709681.png - (125.59KB , 907x794 , 253-frown.png )

Gracie fixes him with a rare frown. "My lord! She is family to us as if she were our own kin. What if your father lived and heard you say such things? He welcomed her in and bid us take care of her." Niklaus winces, and she continues. "She does what she can, she is simply... different. I don't believe she is lazy. I won't hear of putting her out on the streets."

"All right, all right. Forget I said anything. I lost the right to tell you what to do a long time ago. I'm just trying to put the pieces back together and get us out of this mess." Niklaus sighs.
No. 974891 ID: 9c6850
File 159813711293.png - (114.38KB , 907x794 , 254-curiosity.png )

"Yesss...." Gracie chitters her teeth anxiously. "I would never presume to put my nose in your business, my lord, only--"

"Gracie," Niklaus groans.

"Only surely you are not meaning to keep us in the dark on this! The assassin the other night, and this strange mouse appears, and--"


"And you tell me he is some kind of far-flung cousin of yours, and he can help you with your debts," Gracie continues. "And you do not want to tell us who, or where, or why, or how. How are we to take that? Please, sire."


"Niklaus," Gracie pleads.

"No," Niklaus says firmly.

Gracie looks defeated. "As you wish, my lord. You have your world, and I have mine. I just... I worry."

"I know."
No. 974892 ID: 9c6850
File 159813712258.png - (159.55KB , 907x794 , 255-breakfast.png )

Gracie leaves, and Niklaus eats his breakfast. Tempting as it is to spend the rest of the day in bed, he should really get out of this armor and go downstairs. It is good, as a lord, to be seen. The least he can do is put on a brave face for his servants. Gods know there isn't much else he can do for them now.

Maybe, while he's down there... he could go peek in the demon's box? No, that would be stupid. She already distrusts him enough. He really is curious what she does down there all day, though. Maybe he'd open it and there wouldn't be anything inside at all. Nothing but shadows.

Right, time to get dressed.
No. 974895 ID: ee43ea

Let's talk to our subjects and learn more about them. And we know part of what 'our cousin' was up to: riling up Sosa. Dig into it.
No. 974899 ID: b1b4f3

Is there anyone you haven't spoken to in a while?
No. 974917 ID: 2aa5f0

Might as well talk to your servants and see how they're doing and what they know. After last night any more surprises might be nice to know about before they come bursting into your room in the middle of the night.
No. 974970 ID: 9c6850
File 159824167701.png - (128.42KB , 907x794 , 256-dressed.png )

Gracie's words stir some sympathy in Niklaus for his former servants. Truthfully, part of the reason he has left them to their own devices for so long is that he is ashamed to face them. Their lives are more difficult and uncertain now, and it is entirely his fault. He maintains a relationship with Gracie only because she is so unrelentingly cheerful that it is impossible to feel judged by her.

But perhaps that should not be so. Maybe it's time he really faced the consequences of his actions. After all, if the demon is able to somehow free him from his debts, he will presumably have to go back to go back to telling them what to do (even if it's just "keep doing what you're doing"). That will be easier if he has spoken to them within the last few years.

He changes out of his armor and into some regular clothing and heads downstairs.
No. 974971 ID: 9c6850
File 159824168958.png - (127.82KB , 907x794 , 257-stairs.png )

Normally, he likes to go for a walk in the afternoons, to clear his mind. But first, he can stop to talk to some of his servants. And maybe he should talk to Sosatoush.

That may be easier said than done, though. When he was a young master, he scorned the goblin, considering her weak and incompetent. He could not, and still does not, understand why his father took her in. It is not a common practice to open's one home to goblinfolk. From the stories he heard as a boy, it was a very risky move by old Master Irontail. Giving goblins a place in your home is a good way to wake up with your valuables missing, or your throat slit.

Obviously, that never happened, and the goblin proved to be nothing more than useless dead weight. So he also could not understand why his father continued to feed and clothe and shelter her year after year when she provided him nearly nothing in return. Being a child, he acted on this curiosity in the only way he knew how: by relentlessly bullying her.

So that bridge may be in need of some repairs.
No. 974972 ID: 9c6850
File 159824170606.png - (128.85KB , 907x794 , 258-servants.png )

"Ah, the Irontail lad graces us with his presence," says a servant when he enters the foyer.

"Watch your tongue, Arend," another, portlier rat admonishes him. Niklaus remembers that her name is Vera. "Have some respect for his father's memory." She seems to be cleaning the tables here, presumably in preparation for opening for business later tonight.

"Have you seen Sosatoush around, Vera?" Niklaus asks. "I'd like to speak to her."

Vera blinks hard in confusion, taken aback. "Why?" she asks, then catches herself. "Er, begging your pardon, sire."

Niklaus pauses, trying to figure that out himself. Gracie mentioned something about the demon harassing her. Maybe at least he ought to find out what she did so that it doesn't come back to haunt him. After all, Dionaea has not exactly exhibited a lot of subtlety in his opinion. Maybe the goblin knows more than she should.

He's about to answer when Arend interjects. "Well, she's not here, milord. Gracie sent her to the markets to pick a few things up." He pauses. "...So she could be anywhere, really."
No. 974976 ID: b1b4f3

Sigh I guess you can talk to her later, after your walk. Maybe these two can pass the message along that you're looking to talk to her.
No. 974978 ID: dc6ae9

Going to the market seems like a terrible idea, and we'd rather talk to the goblin here anyway. What is our daily routine, besides moping and waiting for death's sweet embrace? We didn't have a plan to pay off the debt before Dionaea showed up.
No. 974993 ID: 2aa5f0

...probably should clean the blood up at some point.

Anyways might as well ask your servants how things around here a going and if they've heard anything interesting recently. Might give an idea on how to plan your day.
No. 975033 ID: f18ee8

Maybe stick with your daily routine until Gracie gets back.
No. 975046 ID: 9c6850
File 159834568418.png - (90.65KB , 907x794 , 259-aggravated.png )

Niklaus's shoulders droop at this setback. Ugh, of course. He should have known nothing would ever be easy in this miserable town.

He doesn't feel like leaving the manor yet. Maybe there's a chance she hasn't left yet? He could take a look around for her. Maybe check the cellars...

Normally he doesn't like to spend much time here. The Irontail estate is nothing but bad memories for him. He likes to walk around the town, window shop, feel the fresh air, try and find new places to relax and unwind. Nothing takes his mind off his troubles like being alone in the breeze and sunlight. But now... he feels more connected to the place, the last few days.

Where was he? Might as well try to gather some information, he supposes. "Have you two heard of anything interesting going on lately?"
No. 975047 ID: 9c6850
File 159834569191.png - (115.21KB , 907x794 , 260-admonish.png )

"Wh... are you joking?! There's been bloody murders in town every night for the last three nights! A whole farming village nearby was wiped off the map!"

"Ah... I meant something less bleak..."

"Everyone's worried sick, sire! Try to be a little less oblivious!"

"All right, Arend, that's enough..." Vera murmurs.
No. 975050 ID: 2aa5f0

let them know that's part of the reason why you're kinda here. You were aware of some things happening last night although not the details and that's why you wanted to see everyone just to see how they're doing. Maybe see if there is something you can do to ease their minds, like I don't know, maybe ask if they'd prefer to take the day off with pay... or something. Tensions seem high, and for good reason, but maybe offering some small benefits if for no other reason to ease their minds might go a long ways.
No. 975056 ID: 44bfcc

Check the cellars, the manor can't be that big. You might bump into someone or make sure there's nothing to be done, so you can continue on with your day.

The murders all happen at night and so do any attempts on your life, so it'd be good to step out and find somewhere relaxing to go over your options. And figure out just how worried people are about recent events.
No. 975093 ID: 9c6850
File 159841814930.png - (67.38KB , 907x794 , 261-darkness.png )

Niklaus raises his hands to calm the servant-rat. "I had heard bad things were happening, that's why I came through to check on things."

Arend goes back to sweeping resentfully. "We can take care of ourselves, lord Irontail. We've had to."

Yeah... Niklaus doesn't like to hang around here much. But he still feels like he needs to talk to Sosatoush, so he decides to look around the building for her before he goes out.

He heads down to the cellars, where it's nice and quiet and dark. "Sosatoush?" he calls out. "Are you down here?"

The shadows have no response for him.
No. 975094 ID: 9c6850
File 159841816105.png - (89.82KB , 907x794 , 262-shadow.png )

There's a lot of storage rooms under the manor. They're pretty empty now, since he sold most everything of worth in the place, but the servants still keep things down here as a pantry, since the cool air preserves them well.

No. 975095 ID: bb9472

Inspect the box. Dionaea likes to sleep in those.

Alternatively, say "Cousin Bartholomew?"
No. 975097 ID: b1b4f3

Look at that aura... Yeah it's probably just gonna be a bunch of shadows in there.
Hey, remember that magic she said was somewhere in your manor? Maybe you can go rooting around in storage for anything that could potentially be the item. Then lay it aside for the demon to inspect later.
No. 975114 ID: 094652

Don't bug a sleeping demon. She's hungry.
No. 975116 ID: 7c1575

didn't dionaea SPECIFICALLY say not to disturb that one, specific, box? are you really going to do that?
No. 975131 ID: f18ee8

Try giving the nearest box a good thump.
No. 975140 ID: 9c6850
File 159850369168.png - (72.05KB , 907x794 , 263-approach.png )

Niklaus steps into the room he set aside for Dionaea's use. Did he imagine that dark aura? The deepened shadows spreading out from the box? It seems that way; when he blinked, they vanished.

He feels a heightened apprehension as he approaches the crate he saw her climb into two nights ago. She is definitely inside it this morning. He can feel his heart beat faster as he approaches it, until it's so loud in his chest that he's concerned the sound might wake her.
No. 975141 ID: 9c6850
File 159850370268.png - (83.30KB , 907x794 , 264-timid.png )

She never explicitly told him not to open it while she was hibernating, and yet a wordless murmur in the back of his head buzzes with disquiet at the possibility. What if he disturbs her? He has no idea how deeply she slumbers.

Perhaps, if he just opens it as slowly and quietly as possible, he can sate his curiosity without angering her? Would that be so wrong?
No. 975142 ID: 977456

Oh my, a genuine trunk, just like in the pirate fables that so overly romanticise a rather grisly business. Perhaps you can elicit some long lost excitement by imagining that it might contain more than some near-fossilised potatoes.

Oh, but leave the crate properly alone. You may have had your moments but you are not a complete idiot.
No. 975144 ID: b1b4f3

Maybe... just a peek wouldn't hurt.
No. 975164 ID: a9af05

If you disturb her and it's not an emergency, then your servants won't even find your body. You'd better leave her alone so that you don't piss how off and get yourself killed!
No. 975167 ID: bcda15

Let sleeping crates lie
No. 975184 ID: f18ee8

Maybe try knocking...
No. 975194 ID: 8b1eaf

You can just make something up if she wakes up and gets upset about it. Like asking what she did with Sosa that was bad enough it got around to your servants.
No. 975214 ID: 9c6850
File 159859232342.png - (54.79KB , 907x794 , 265-lid.png )

Niklaus wavers indecisively, resting his hand on the rough wood of the crate. Opening it would probably be very stupid. He doesn't want to disturb her sleep, not just because it would anger her, but also because it might affect how well she can help him tonight.

But his reservations are not enough to stave off his curiosity. He very carefully lifts the lid, as quietly as possible, and peeks inside.
No. 975215 ID: 9c6850
File 159859234899.png - (97.74KB , 907x794 , 266-dionaea.png )

The demon is curled up in a ball inside, her pure-black form barely visible in the deep shadows of the cellar. She lays still, occasionally shifting gently in her sleep. Niklaus is stricken by how vulnerable she seems. It's the first time he's seen her, even with her relatively short stature, look anything less than imposing and threatening.

He slowly lowers the lid and creeps out of the room. Sosatoush isn't down here, or he would have heard something. There are still some other rooms of the manor he can check. Maybe she's in the kitchen, or up in the tower. There are plenty of nooks and crannies a goblin could wedge herself if she didn't want to do her work. Or maybe she really did go out to the market.
No. 975217 ID: b1b4f3

Well, market is one of the places you usually wander to, right? May as well.
No. 975250 ID: f18ee8

No harm in going to the market now.
I think.
No. 975255 ID: b66d07

It might be worth the effort to give Dionaea a way to lock her room in the cellar if she's so vulnerable when resting, but if she didn't ask for it she's probably not too worried anyway.

Off to the market, we're just burning daylight here.
No. 975266 ID: 9c6850
File 159868565950.png - (324.17KB , 907x794 , 267-stroll.png )

Niklaus feels relieved when he climbs the stairs back into the light. Nothing bad happened, for once. Even so, after that nerve-wracking stunt, he definitely wants to go for his walk. If Sosatoush is still in the manor she's probably not going anywhere, and if not, he'll find her at the markets.

The sun feels good on his fur. As he walks, he listens to the birds chirping, the murmur of conversation around him, the clomping of footsteps and the rumbling of wagons. He enjoys the feeling of rough cobblestones under his bare feet, and the fact that no one gives him a second glance. He feels insignificant, worry-free.

He does not see any goblins on the way over, though.
No. 975267 ID: 9c6850
File 159868570289.png - (229.27KB , 907x794 , 268-market.png )

It occurs to him now that it would have been prudent to ask Arend exactly what Sosatoush had been sent out to get for Gracie. As it is, he doesn't really know where to look for her. He'd have to get pretty lucky walking around in the crowd to happen upon the same part of the market that she's in.

Maybe he can narrow it down a little somehow?
No. 975269 ID: b1b4f3

It's probably something related to what they serve in the tavern. Beer? Food?
No. 975282 ID: 1c1b7d

That's the masked assassin who was tailing Dionaea earlier. You know even less than she does about them, though...

Maybe just hang out wherever you can get the widest view of the market, then. You're not really in any hurry to talk so you're free to enjoy the day.
No. 975285 ID: bcda15

People watch for fun and profit
No. 975298 ID: f18ee8

Try considering what it is Gracie usually does and use that to narrow down what she could have needed.
No. 975299 ID: 977456

Considering that Goblins are not widely trusted, it may well be with a more familiar merchant.

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