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953982 No. 953982 ID: 5fc3a0

Previous Threads/Wiki: http://tgchan.org/wiki/Fen_Quest
Inventory and Other Info: http://tgchan.org/wiki/Fen_Quest_Statistics
Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/Lagotrope

>"It's time to go, Valsano." I don't know that person, but he must be one of Valsano's current team that's going back down into the mausoleum.
>"Yeah yeah, I just wanted to see how my main squad is doing, living it up."
>"Oh, yeah, it's great!" says Firzel. "I'll tell all my grandkids about the good old days, in which every single day was spent having Zall beat the shit out of us."

We all listen to Valsano, who will make a typical quip back to Firzel.

It doesn't come. He loses his expression and marches off.
Expand all images
No. 953983 ID: 5fc3a0
File 157962523948.png - (26.58KB , 800x800 , 1292.png )

We've had less time with the wizards, so the bruises and cuts that Zall gives us are left to pile up faster than they can naturally heal. There's only one reason we've even gotten a break at Holly's place now.

>"Mail!" Holly comes in where Valsano just left. She's collected the mail for us that came throughout the day after yesterday's warp, so that we could collect it all together. "Packages and letters for Dame Frais, Sir Mopp, and letters for Sirs Firzel, Fen and Orjin."
No. 953984 ID: 5fc3a0
File 157962528421.png - (139.17KB , 800x800 , 1293.png )

I get my usual three from Zizi, Cheese, and Moss. I notice that Cheese's letter has a different stamp imprinted on the paper as Holly hands it to me.

>"I just got this one, otherwise I would've handed it off to you sooner, Fen." Holly explains. "It's from a different mail service, so that's unusual."

>"Hi! It's a little weird for me writing this letter because you just left, but I'm speeding this one along to the warp because I'm going to try out a new mailing service and I want to confirm it works asap! So tell me if it arrived safely. You can keep sending me mail through the usual means."

That's all she says in it. I move onto Moss's.

>"Hello again, I hope this letter finds you while you're still making steady progress. On one hand, the army's campaigns may let you gain a lot of prestige, but if they ever hit a slog, then it's not good for anyone. Except the enemy, ha, but if you care about them, then you've got problems. I won't bore you with my work stories. It's got a bad blend of being tough, and also not worth writing about. Or at least nothing I'd bother putting in a letter. Keep in touch, remember to visit if you get the chance."

And finally, Zizi.

>"Hey bro! You know, ever since you crossed the border, I've been more interested in the going ons with the empire, so I've had the mailmen fill me in on some details. I heard you ran into Butterknife! She's a tough puddle to cross, but if you can beat her, you'll know you've improved a ton in such a short time, so try to get in a fight with her. When you can handle it."

.... 'When I can handle it,' he says. There's something I don't like about the addition of that sentence, and it's because I don't ever remember him advising caution, before.

Kiki also says hello, mostly by way of calling both myself and Zizi idiots.

>"Can I see your envelopes?" says Holly. "The one from Moss, I mean. I want to double check something."
No. 953985 ID: 5fc3a0
File 157962530131.png - (25.38KB , 800x800 , 1294.png )

She takes the envelope that had Moss's letter and glares it down.

>"... yeaaah. The wax seal here was broken and replaced."
No. 953986 ID: 465a14

Well, it was going to happen eventually. Ask how she can tell- does the methodology say anything about the person doing it?
No. 953988 ID: 86eb65

Have her check the Cheese letter. Just on the off hand chance this new mail service is a trick and someone else is intercepting your mail and pretending to be cheese. Find out more info about it.

Valsano quip missing could be stress or other drama so make sure to keep a eye out for that.

As for Moss we are assuming everyone is reading our mails anyways so having proof is expected.

Finally we knew Butterknife was nasty with her super speed. So until you make a break thru and can match it be wary. Ideally stay on her good side so you can get a friendly duel someday.

So chat with Holly about messages and send back some generic replies. Just publicly available info and nothing you would want anyone else knowing.
No. 953989 ID: c6b4c6

I think it's likely that Cheese using a new mail service is related to Moss's letter being tampered with.
No. 953995 ID: 10c408

Ask her how long she's suspected your mail has been tampered with and if there's even anything to do about it.
No. 953996 ID: 5669ef

In the letter to Cheese, make references to her letter's contents, just to make sure.
No. 953998 ID: 015bf2

>A Necromancer stole Valsano's funny bone
That, or something has him down. Maybe he's feeling left out of the group? That, or the war he's returning to is real bad down there.

>Seal broken and replaced
Unsurprised, if a little worried for Moss' sake. Not much you can do about it at this point. How can she tell, by the way? Would be useful for you to know, so you could check other letters later. (Perhaps if Cheese's letter service proves reliable, we can route more secure letters through that.)

Anyway, do you have time to write return letters?

>Letter to Cheese
Write a return letter verifying that you got her most recent letter and read its contents. Ask whether the services mentioned there will ever be available to you. (It's probably mutant mail, which is supposedly secure even from the empire.)

>Letter to Zizi
Give him (and Kiki and the fam) the usual salutations and updates on how your life's been going. What does he know about Butterknife, though? Did she wake up early and smell mountain air with him at some point?

>Letter to Moss
Tell him not to worry about you hitting a slog, because it looks like you'll soon get thrown in at the deep end after Zall's reforms. Try to weave in a hint that the seal was broken.

>Wot Next
Back to paining - I mean, training.
No. 954009 ID: ef2ac9

Moss's letter has been open? Hmm, although not surprising, it is a problem. Someone must suspect of him already, we need to do something about that. Ask Holly if she has a solution about that. We should also ask Cheese for help about that, she might also know what to do about that, or help Moss directly.

I wouldn't bother asking Zizi for detals. But the fact that he told us to fight Butterknife is interesting. Even more to warn us to be careful with her. Maybe he does have something to tell us about her this time around. She is our next step to become stronger.
No. 954011 ID: b1b4f3

Moss's letter sounds very different from last time. Either it's forged or he decided he was being watched too closely to put anything suspicious in it. Feel vaguely regretful you didn't visit him while you were in town, but that could've aroused suspicion anyway.
...the phrasing in Moss's letter sounds strange too, like there might be a hidden message in it(if it's not forged). Is there anyone around that specializes in that sort of thing, can we get them to take a look at it? Might want to do that before replying.
Reply to Cheese's letter, telling her that her letter arrived safely.
Tell Zizi you're hoping for some sort of breakthrough so you can stand a chance against Butterknife, but you've also heard that there's no advice anyone can give that would help. It's frustrating knowing that there's a power like that within your grasp but no clues as how to grab it.
No. 954022 ID: 10c408

He probably suspected it would be intercepted and read.

That said, I believe asking for a cryptography expert is going to be a fruitless endeavor.

We're unlikely to find one we can trust unless we take it up with Zall, who will undoubtedly have an issue or three with trying to get him involved in our own problems.
No. 954055 ID: afdebc

Holly's place is looking kinda fancy, for underground army-base standards. Poofy carpets and everything!

"I'm not surprised, given who he works for. I've been assuming the empire reads all my mail it wants to."

That the other letters appear untampered with either means they didn't bother, or that more skilled spies opened them, or that Krix's spies didn't bother to do a good job because he doesn't care if you know, or he's making a deliberate statement by letting you see it.

Would you recognize Moss' handwriting, though? People reading your letters might be less of a concern (that just means you can't share sensitive information) than forgeries or deliberate misinformation pretending to be from someone you know.
No. 954083 ID: 015bf2

I don’t think the tavern’s underground anymore, for one. Sir Zall set her up a big topside tavern full o’ spies working for him. She gets to be the boss by pretending she was the one to invest and set it up herself. It’s supposed to be very hush hush.

It’s topside because Zall booted the regular army from underground action after their (many) miserable failures at maintaining quarantine. /end recap
No. 954101 ID: 7a8469

> Damaged Letter
Yeah, I think that's been expected for some time now.
Almost certainly; maybe get Holly to help you ask about it?
> Valsano
Yeeahh something's not right there. Have you noticed anything different about him since he got back? Has Firzel?
No. 954105 ID: 10c408

I'm pretty sure that he's getting a bit resentful of everyone still training and not helping as much with the campaign, which is likely wearing away at his morale.
No. 954140 ID: c2f1f6

Huh, good eye Holly. I'm guessing the Empire doesn't need to resort to such crude or easily detectable methods, meaning it's almost certainly Krix's doing. Sounds like Moss may even be trying to mention as such in as roundabout a way as he can to avoid detection... Replace 'care about them' with 'worry about them' and 'not worth writing about' with 'not able to write about' and the slog-like way he describes his job makes his request you visit sound urgent.

You're going to need help drafting a reply to that one, you're kind of got a weak grasp in the nuance and subtlety department.
No. 954143 ID: 4f51b2

Thanks Holly for noticing someone open the card.
No. 954227 ID: 5fc3a0
File 157980448402.png - (18.03KB , 800x800 , 1295.png )

"How can you tell this was opened, anyway?"

Holly holds up the paper to me.

>"If you melt wax onto other wax, it creates an obvious seam. This person grinded down the wax to the paper, but it's not a perfect process, you can kind of see how it kind of bleeds into the paper a bit, so the wax can't be totally removed without grinding away the paper itself, so there's still going to be new wax on top of the old."
"Thank you for telling me. I've been assuming that all of my letters have been getting read."
>"I'm glad you've all been writing your letters like it was, but I'm really surprised by it! Breaking into the imperial mail system isn't something that even mithril nobles take lightly, because it's a network made at the emperor's level. Of course, it does happen anyway, but nobles only mess with the mail when they really feel a need to. Whoever opened this mail was probably disappointed by the lack of contents for the risk it involves."
"Moss sounded different, in the letter. It was his handwriting, still."
>"Yeah... maybe you can point that out? It might mean something, but it might not. Think of if you tried to write a letter without my help - it would suddenly sound very different, wouldn't it?"
No. 954228 ID: 5fc3a0
File 157980449226.png - (22.58KB , 1000x800 , 1296.png )

That's true.

"What about my other mail? It's probably being read too, right?"
>"Best to assume so, but it's not likely. Cheese should have a good idea of what mail services she can use safely, and Zizi, well, it probably never even entered the Turtle's Hideaway. And because of how serious a crime it is to break into it, I think Lord Krix only intercepted Moss's since it was so conveniently put out through his home region."
"Who enforces the imperial mail system? Themselves? The dragon knights?" asks Aira, with a light tone of scoffing when she mentions the knights.
>"Well... there's not a whole lot we can do about it." Holly answers. "Just keep writing vaguely. If you need something to say privately, I should be able to find a good private mail runner. Cheese should have one too. They're hard to come by though, they're easily corrupted and not reliable, but..."

She waves the broken envelope. "Maybe I've had too much faith in the mail after all."
No. 954229 ID: 5fc3a0
File 157980450061.png - (22.34KB , 800x800 , 1297.png )

I get to writing. Holly helps me as usual, since I'm still only mostly literate. To Cheese, I mostly just tell her I did get the letter. To Zizi, I give publically available updates, but I also ask specifically about if he knows anything about Butterknife or her nickname, Butter Knight. If so, I want him to explain every detail no matter how bad he is about details. I add in that I feel that I need some kind of breakthrough in both physical and mental fighting ability, to take on someone like Butterknife.

To Moss, I tell him not to worry about me hitting a slog, as I expect to be thrown deep into the mausoleum after Zall's reforms.

"Should I tell him the seal was broken?" I ask Holly.
>"No, not since he's been saying anything he shouldn't be saying. Best to not tell our interceptors we know we're being intercepted, I think."
"What about a hint?"
>"Eheh, with apologies to Moss, I think that any hint he can pick up on is a hint our interceptor can, unless you guys have made up some secret phrases or similar things beforehand."

I let her read Moss's letter for any hidden meaning, but she can't find any.
No. 954230 ID: 5fc3a0
File 157980450956.png - (33.07KB , 800x800 , 1298.png )

Holly helps the others write and send out any letters they want to, as well.

"We should head back up to Sir Zall's." says Frais. "He didn't tell us to, so obviously he wants us to without being told."
>"Ah, about that." says Holly. "Now that we're all done with mail, he asked me to address all of you with this letter he passed on to me."

She pulls out a note, and begins reading after making sure we're all alone and the doors are shut.

>"Hello. Learning how to fight is good, but the lower sections of the mausoleum are more populated than we thought. You'll all need to be able to sneak through areas, so you're all going through assassin training as well as knight training. Before I personally train you any longer, you will need to touch my spine. Upon doing so, you will pass, and we will continue your training as usual."
"What if we just touch his spine without managing to sneak up on him?" asks Frais.
>"He didn't say, but if I had to guess, it means he'll think you don't need assassin training after all. Hold on, there's more."
>"If you want to practice normally, go find the right mentors in the training hall." Holly contemplates the next words, and sighs them out. "Ask Holly if you are interested in a shortcut. Right." She says, putting the letter down. "First of all, I don't agree with Sir Zall's use of the word 'shortcut', because it doesn't guarantee you the ability to hide your mana, it just shows you the example of what it's like. I won't be the one to explain it, I would just point you to the instructor who can perform the method, and I do not recommend it. It's nothing more than keeping you on the brink of death for a moment, close enough that it's extremely dangerous. And once again, it does not guarantee you'll suddenly be a master at mana hiding, it only grants you a better idea of what you're trying to do. For something this dangerous, I'm honestly surprised Sir Zall didn't suggest the option of dunking yourselves in tar pits for the chance to become some all powerful abomination."
>"I'm sure Sir Zall assumes that we already know that's an option." says Dame Frais. "This one is new to me, and I'll still pass, thanks."
>"Same, no way." says Firzel.
"How does staying on the brink of death show us the way?"
>"Eh..." Holly thinks on her words. "I could try and give you the lecture on how souls, bodies and lands interact, but it isn't anything that'll change your mind one way or the other. If you accept, I'll point you to the special instructor who I'm sure would be willing to explain it all. If not, there's plenty of other normal instructors in Sir Zall's training hall. Also, I'll remind you that Sir Zall isn't requiring you to succeed at mana hiding to be sent on missions, or even to train your swordsmanship in his halls. He just won't personally train you face to face until then."
No. 954234 ID: 465a14

we risk death enough that it's not a big deal to do it again when there might be an actual payoff to it
No. 954237 ID: e2f5cc

I agree with >>954234, but even if we don't do it for some reason we should probably push Aira to do this for pretty much the same reason, and she's explicitly stated she isn't afraid of getting hurt.
No. 954240 ID: ce39da

"I'll keep my options open, so I'd like to know at least where I can meet this instructor of yours."

I anticipate that there will be a bit less uncertainty if we choose the unique option here, and Fen tends to think more like Zall than Holly anyway. Plus, we might also get an epiphany about Butterknife's mojo.
No. 954242 ID: 10c408

We can always try going for the normal route and then try the super dangerous shortcut approach if we're not making any progress.
No. 954243 ID: 86eb65

Tell her that you are fine with risks but if your life is going to be in someones hands you would like assurances that they are not on a enemies payroll.

Still its worth a look if normal training does not help after a few days.

Also get the lecture on how souls and magic and the land works anyways.

I am guessing being on the edge of death allows your soul to loosen up (cause its going to leave your body shortly) and this experience allows you to get a glimpse of the mana that binds your soul and body and the land together.
No. 954244 ID: 1d7c77

Piling on risks of death on risks of death isn't great, but Fen is pretty much committed to maximum shortcuts. Besides, getting some kind of more visceral sense of how souls and the land relate to each other might be a step to learning other things.

However, it sounds like something that could very easily leave us open to an opportunistic assassin, so while I recommend going for the option, some sort of security in that regard would be important to go with it.
No. 954250 ID: 015bf2

Hm. As I thought - it's getting grim down there and they need elite warriors to counter the Necromancers' elite creatures.

What's been staring us in the face since the Butterknife debacle and Cheese's admission of Butter's fear of 'easily getting caught' by someone suddenly catching up to that strength is that there appears to be a way - or ways - to 'cheat' in becoming more powerful, suddenly. Zizi may also have had it happen to him, for that matter. There might exist some kind of deep epiphany - or something - that just shifts one's perspective and ability to another level entirely... although Butterknife's way of achieving badass nirvana was so intensely undesirable that Cheese and her family swore a blood oath to just forget about it!

Regardless, this particular method of training mana suppression might be a shortcut along the same line - not to that kind of a power up, but something similar. And since Holly knows about it, there are clearly established principles at work here - she just doesn't seem to approve of the method. And we know Zall wouldn't suggest it if he didn't think it would have a chance of working, despite the risks.

It's a surprisingly big choice - do you train as hard as you can with the others to maybe succeed, or do you accept high risk at the mere potential for a much-needed skill that will enable your further training?

Look at Aira. Ask what she'd like to do. If she says yes to this deal, go through with it with her. Nearly dying can't be fun to do alone. On the other hand, if even she isn't keen, you should probably heed the wisdom of declining. Getting your mana training there is a fundamental thing, it's eminently trainable, and not the kind of power leap you'd need to get to Butterknife's level. It'd suck to lose Zall's training if you fail to train your mana suppression, mind you, since that's not an opportunity that would often come by, and you'd also lose out on some potential Assassin gigs.

All that said it's worth pointing out that getting mana suppression down pat would be real useful, if not essential, when it comes time to infiltrate Lord Krix's household, retrieve your dragoncloth and pour some Tomato soup in his tomato soup (who am I kidding, Gold nobles probably lace their every meal with antidote).

Oh! Did you get the old poison vial refreshed by a wizard, by the way?
No. 954252 ID: 88927d

I don't mind learning new tricks. We won't necessary use them, but it is always useful to have. And if it helps us to understand how to properly hide your presence, the better.

How have you been doing in your formal training, Fen? You think you need to focus on that still, or we could go with the sneaking training?
No. 954256 ID: c2f1f6

Well if you're going to risk death, better do it OUTSIDE the mausoleum. I think you should talk with this instructor before making a decision. Maybe mention to him you've been poisoned recently and if flirting with death again so soon is a bad idea.
No. 954260 ID: b1b4f3

Hmm... Butterknife seemed really good at hiding her mana, didn't she? Also there was something about increased mana circulation right before some people "get serious" in a fight... I think the breakthrough has something to do with mana somehow, but it must be something that almost nobody ever thinks of trying.
We should try everything we can, have as many different experiences as possible. Try the shortcut, experience the brink of death. I wonder if the secret of the breakthrough involves going further than that and dying, but then coming back afterwards? Like possessing your own body to keep it in a living state while having increased control over it? That would be why it's such a closely guarded secret- one, people would wind up killing themselves trying to attain it for power, and two, it would cause despair amongst those not willing to risk death over it(like Cheese's family). It could also have some kind of drawback when it's used...
No. 954264 ID: 8d23f0

go big or go not Lily. take the death training
No. 954277 ID: bb78f2

Going on the brink of death sounds interesting.
Yeah I'll do it for extra credit.
No. 954279 ID: 014729

Back in Shroomleaf, did you ever hear of other Kobolds able to do something like that before? We know from when you were searching for Zall's Knights back in the catacombs of Dragon's Fall that you do have *some* experience with stealth, so it would be best for you to go ahead and try to pick up a new talent.
Also, if Aira does come with you to learn this "shortcut", be prepared for crude jokes about you two sneaking off all the time. Most likely from Firzel, but maybe from Frais as well
No. 954280 ID: 10c408

Normal stealth is something Fen is very familiar with.

Mana stealth is entirely new.
No. 954291 ID: 5fc3a0
File 157987394674.png - (23.16KB , 800x800 , 1299.png )

"I'm interested." I look at Aira.
>"I will do it, too."
>"Really?" Holly asks, incredulously. Frais and Firzel look at us in ways that ask the same question.
"Yes. I am familiar with stealth, but I have never seen anything like mana stealth in the shroomleaf forest. I risk death often enough for less gain."
>"That's, true, but... at least if you died down there, you'd die fighting the enemy or something more... rather, less awkward to tell people how you died. Oh, god, would I have to be the one to tell Zizi? That you died because I told you about some stupid shortcut?"
"No, Sir Zall can inform him. Death is death, and it was all in pursuit of my own goals, so I don't see how the exact method of death would matter."
>".... hm, alright, alright. I'll go make sure the instructor is ready. You're going to be indisposed for at least a couple of days, once you start. One doesn't just go from the brink of death to full fighting condition in a few minutes, after all. After that, if you live, you hopefully can get the hang of mana stealth faster. Is there anything you two need to take care of?"
>"I'll leave my belongings with Mopp." says Aira. "It goes to Fen if I die, Mopp can distribute it if we both die."
"My written will is still up to date, with Holly. Otherwise, I would like to refresh all of my relevant possessions with anti-rot mana. Holly, do you trust whoever is doing this?"
>"I do. Is there anything else to take care of? If not, I'll go get the instructor since I'm sure you'll want to start as soon as possible."
>"I'm going to write a letter," says Aira, "But only send it out if I die."
>"Understood. Fen?"
No. 954293 ID: e2f5cc

"See you all in... How long is this supposed to take, Holly?"
No. 954295 ID: ce39da

"I'm not one to write like it's my last. I trust that someone will inform all relevant parties in time, should I pass, but it shouldn't come to that. See you all in a few days."
No. 954296 ID: 10c408

"I'll do the same." Though it may take a bit longer since you have multiple people to write to.
No. 954300 ID: 1d7c77

A few contingency death letters seem sensible enough, yeah, though really there should be a couple of those in storage already. The main thing is to be as sure as possible Fen's not going to get stabbed by someone after the bounty while incapacitated.
No. 954310 ID: 88927d

Let's get those letters done right away.
No. 954322 ID: 86eb65

We have spent the past few months with death possible at every moment. Our friends knows our wishes already and will continue on without us if we fall.

Write a quick note thanking everyone for there help and only get it sent if you die.

Also make sure you have a safe place to recover after. Dying to some assassin while you are weak after you do the training is a distinct possibility.

And do not be afraid to back out if you get a bad feeling from the trainer or there methods. Trust your instincts.
No. 954327 ID: 83bf07

Let's get this over with. Wish the others luck.
No. 954337 ID: b1b4f3

Okay, write a letter. "Sorry, I fucked up my training and died." should be sent to everyone if you die.
No. 954338 ID: 015bf2

There are many things you could say in a contingency letter.

You could thank Holly, Frais, Firzel, Sir Zall, Sir Orjin and all your other imperial acquaintances for their friendship, support and/or training.

You could attempt humor, sending a letter to Valsano stating that he should stop slacking off. Making non-stop fun of Death Carrot is a deadly serious mission and he is the best man for the job.

You could tell Moss that you admire his will to stay true to himself and to insist on staying friends, despite circumstance dictating that this would be anything but a good idea.

You could tell your family that you didn't regret pursuing your dream of a life with Lily for a second.

You could tell Cheese that she was a good friend.

You could write Lily and tell that if there was any way for your memories to persist beyond this life... you hope to meet again, somehow, someday.

Ultimately, most of these things do not have to be said. The ones who know you will know your feelings, and the ones who do not know, may be better off not feeling greater loss from your abrupt passing, or your terrible attempts at humor or seriousness.

"I'm ready."
No. 954350 ID: f133dc

This is why we went out of our way to save Aira. Pain and death don't scare her or stop her.

We don't need any prep, no final goodbyes. Time to go meet death.
No. 954352 ID: bb78f2

I'm fine. Could do with a real good meal before the training though, if possible. Might give me the edge I need.
No. 954354 ID: 88927d

If it doesn't get in the way of the training.
No. 954363 ID: 3674e7

I wonder if we can do both magic stealth training and magic perception trading at the same time. Magic stealth training is probably about sealing his magic flow within himself while magic perception training is probably about pulling in the magic around you to perceive changes. So if we did both at the same time wouldn’t it pull in the magic around him and then instead of leaking out again like normal seal it within him causing a buildup of magical energy. If he learns how to control this energy and incorporate/harness it shouldn’t it become easier to become a mage.
No. 954422 ID: 5fc3a0
File 157997768709.png - (91.29KB , 1200x731 , 1300.png )

I decide to write some letters, but there isn't much to be said. I just write what everyone already knows, and that I died to pursuing my ambition.

"I think that's it."

Holly leads us into another one of the side rooms that was made so we can talk privately.

>"Okay... good luck, you two. If something goes wrong, well, it was a pleasure. Goodbye."
"Goodbye, Holly."
No. 954423 ID: 5fc3a0
File 157997770148.png - (45.33KB , 800x800 , 1301.png )

Soon, a wheeled cart with more food than we could eat is pushed in. Although we've been treated well with our meals, this batch looks like it was supposed to be delivered to a noble's table. It's pushed in by Kylia.

>"Hi, you two. I'm your waitress, as always, but today I'm also going to be - " the door shuts while she continually speaks - "your surgeon, and that's a fact to keep to yourselves."
>"Surgeon?" asks Aira.
>"Yes, Holly told me you're taking the near death experience. The best way I know for that is by poking a little hole in an organ in your gut. Not your stomach, some other sac off to the side that has a purpose that eludes the empire's knowledge. It must be important, because making a hole too big in it will kill you. It's shaped a bit differently and in a different spot between draconics and fields, but the draconic version is consistent for all draconics, and ditto for fields. A small hole in it will do a good - on second thought, how about you two enjoy this meal before I get into the nasty physical details? I'm sure you have questions. At least you should, if you want me to think you're both taking this seriously."
No. 954424 ID: 695467

Is it wise to be having a meal before having surgery done on your gut? Presumably there's a reason why if Kylia is bringing food in & going to be operating on you.
No. 954425 ID: 465a14

What happens if the organ is removed entirely? Or transplanted?
No. 954426 ID: e2f5cc

How exactly will we be healed? There don't seem to be any wizards around, unless Kylia has even more secret talents.

Will there be anything to dull the presumably immense pain? And what exactly happens when this sac is hit that puts us to near death almost immediately?

What exactly will happen beyond almost dying? And how will doing this help with our mana sense?

Also, for something a little less important, Where is this sac normally located on fields and draconics? It'd be good to know another vital spot to protect/aim for.

And of course, test the food for anything that's not supposed to be there, because this would be the opportune time to get poisoned.

After that though, enjoy the meal. Unless of course eating could mess with this procedure even a tiny bit.
No. 954427 ID: 91ee5f

>Soon, a wheeled cart with more food than we could eat is pushed in.
Is there a reason there’s too much food being brought to us? Did you put something in it to make us fall asleep so that you can cut this organ more easily?

>how about you two enjoy this meal before I get into the nasty physical details?
If you’re supposed to do something in our gut, wouldn’t the food just get in the way? Or is the food supposed to help somehow?
No. 954428 ID: bb78f2

How did kobolds come across this shortcut if it meant cutting into a kobold and poking a weird organ for no reason at all?
No. 954429 ID: 83bf07

Is eating required? Or is that more of a courtesy for someone who could die soon? Also compliment her eyes. They're real pretty.
No. 954430 ID: 86eb65

Does eating help the process? If we can not trust Holly's girls to not poison us we can not trust anyone probably.

So enjoy your possibly last meal.

As for questions.

1. How do you get to the organ and how many times have you done this?

2. What rates of success vs death are we talking here?

3. We are in a active crypt with necromancers who will interfere if possible. Should this even be done down here at all? (remember that Fen is actively being targeted so even if others have done this down here we might not be able to.)

4. Side effects and healing rates once its done?

5. What tools do you use?

6. What sort of experience is it?

7. Could this sort of thing be related to what Butterknife did? She got herself beaten half to death somehow and that's why Cheese refused to tell us?
No. 954431 ID: 014729

Bored Nobles
I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to eat anything before a procedure, or something like that. Unless there's some form of anesthetic built-in with the meal. Be sure to ask Kylia about either before either you or Aira begin.
No. 954433 ID: ce39da

"Do they even have a name for this organ? I'll pass on the meal until after unless it improves our odds."
No. 954434 ID: 1d7c77

"Have you experienced this yourself, how often have you done this before, what's your survival rate, is there any advice based on what those survivors have said afterwards, is whatever you'll be stabbing us with clean, and does the room we'll be in have a lock on the door" all seem like good questions.
No. 954435 ID: 1d7c77

Also possibly you should mention to her that time Aira got seriously injured, in case she ends up having some sort of internal scar tissue that misaligned things for her. She was magically healed, so that shouldn't be the case, but it was sort of not the best healing and the same should have been able to be said for her eye, so. It might be important.
No. 954437 ID: a9af05

If the food is important, then would be helpful if we ate more food or less food?

>Mention Aira's injury
That's a good point. We should tell Kylia about that, since it might be important.
No. 954439 ID: 015bf2

Why the luxurious meal?
What is the survival rate like?
Why does nearly dying in this oddly specific way aid learning mana stealth?
Are there any known long-term effects to damaging this organ? Will it affect your lifespan?
How does one best stay alive through - and recover from - the process?

Does Aira have any questions?

At some point someone probably noticed that kobolds with a certain battlefield wound learned mana hiding better than others.

>Bored nobles.
Or that.

Don't mention Cheese's family secrets. Though, presumably, had it been this 'easy', Cheese and her family wouldn't have been so horrified by Butterknife's secret and sworn to forget about it. Remember, these are mutants who willingly submerged themselves in Erja Nokol's tar just for the odd chance they'd get stronger or useful. Getting an organ poked and maybe dying for a very useful benefit doesn't seem that much more extreme.
No. 954441 ID: 88927d

Well i am going to gues that is okay to eat.
I would like to know about Kobolds anatomy and how this operations affects it. I doubt that Fen knows more that be basic of body anatomy.
No. 954455 ID: bb78f2

Oh hey, Fen, Brah, one more thing, what is the most delicious looking thing on that cart? Can you describe it? What place is the recipe from? What's it taste like?
No. 954457 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158000115481.png - (28.50KB , 800x800 , 1302.png )

There are many kinds of food on the cart, some more familiar than others, but right now my mind is elsewhere.

"Is it wise to eat a meal before having a gut wound?"
>"No, which is why it's not happening now."
"Why not? I will skip this meal if it means getting this done sooner."
>"... That's some hurry, but no. It's late, and the procedure takes awhile, and you're going to want me to be wide awake and well rested for all of it."
"That is a good point. Then why this meal?"
>"Because Holly is good to you two, that's why, and that's why it would be rude if you skipped out on it anyway. It has nothing to do with the surgery or its the chances of success, but just a little comfort food for the risk this involves. With that said... mind if I eat some, too?"
"Aira and I could not eat all of it. Help yourself." I say, and Aira makes the smallest nod. "Thank Holly for me, I did not realize it was a gift from her."
>"Thanks." She eats some of the food right off the cart, which serves as a taste test against poison anyway.

Aira and I eat, and I keep asking questions.

"Does this sac have a name?"
>"Side-stomach is a popular one. Orvard's Lung is another popular one, even though it's definitely not a lung, no matter who Orvard was."
"What happens if this sac is removed?"
>"You die."
"Swapped between two different bodies?"
>"Both die."
"How will we be healed?"
>"I have healing clothes and salves. The salve is applied to a needle first, just in case there's a mistake while I find it, then healing clothes if things and salves if things either go bad. After a satisfactory experience, there'll be a wizard to come assist and help."
"A trustworthy one?"
>"One of Sir Zall's personal wizard batch, I believe."
"What is a 'satisfactory' experience?"
>"Satisfactory as in you get close enough to the cliff of death that your toes overlook it. Not satisfactory as in pleasant, because this will hurt."
"Will there be much to dull the pain?"
>"No. There could be, but you want to be as awake as you can be to feel your soul try and get grabbed. That part is the 'experience' I'm referring to, by the way, it just happens to be an experience that happens when almost dying."
"I now have more questions, but first, where is this sac located?"
>"On you? Right about here," She pokes her midriff to the side, "About this deep down." She uses her other hand to show a distance. I was thinking it might have been a spot I wanted to protect, but it's so deep down that it would be odd to protect that particular spot of my internal flesh.
No. 954458 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158000117108.png - (32.26KB , 1000x800 , 1303.png )

Aira asks one of my own questions.

>"How was this shortcut found?"
>"The experience itself was found by anyone who was on the brink of death and awake to experience it, and given how much war happens in the empire, it's happened on accident plenty of times. Various wizards experimented with ways to do so on purpose, and more safely than simply maiming people haphazardly. Other ways involve a tiny, tiny needle through your head, drowning, or blood loss. The first one is way too unreliable, the second one usually causes passing out before death comes, and the third one takes a long, long time both to do accurately and to recover from. This one takes awhile to do right - technically a single poke to do right, but to get it perfect, I need to poke slightly, then more, then more, and slowly bring you to the brink. Just doing a single poke on the first try is sure to either be too little or too much, but on the plus side, once it's done, the actual damage is so little that the body can heal from it fast. All you need to do to recover quick is some bedrest."
"Is the tool just a needle?"
>"And the healing cloths and salve and other medical tools, that's right."
"What are the chances of the success?"
>"Surviving? Without magic healing, about 8 out of 10 survive, but since we have the best supplies that at our disposal, you two should be looking at a 9 out of 10 chance of survival."
"Any advice on how to survive?"
>"Just do your best not to fall asleep or lose consciousness. If you do, the situation becomes much more dangerous, but I'll immediately start applying healing magic in that case."
No. 954460 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158000133847.png - (23.98KB , 800x800 , 1304.png )

Kylia looks at us more pointedly than usual.

>"Just to make sure you understand the most important point, I'm going to repeat it. It's just an estimate, but the best estimate is that there is a one out of ten chance you will die. That's each for both of you. If you have to process only a single thing I've said tonight, let it be that."
"I understand. Tell me about this 'experience.'"

She takes a deep breath.

>"Okay. See, your body keeps your soul from drifting off into the land's own pool of mana. When your body dies, your soul gets let out to either mix with the land, or to run back to its native homeland and get absorbed there. Here's a popular metaphor - imagine your body is a boat, and on that boat, your soul is a puddle of water with its own shape and sense of identity. Your body - the boat - stays afloat and lets your soul, this puddle of water, stay out of the ocean. A dead body, then, is like a sinking ship, where the ocean floods in and mixes with your water, and your water is dispersed into the rest of the ocean as you lose your sense of shape and self.
>"What this procedure is doing is dragging your boat down just far enough so that the top of the boat is exactly level with the water. When it's like that, the ocean can rush in, but only at knee level, and your soul can keep itself from beind totally absorbed while using the boat's railing to keep itself from behind pulled out completely off the boat. Any deeper and the boat will just completely sink, and any less and the ocean can't rush in. That feeling of your water being touched by the ocean is the 'experience' I'm talking about, having your soul mingle with the ocean of the dead, because in a way, that's what mana stealth is. It's letting go of the 'shape' of your soul for a moment so that it resembles the ocean, or removing the metaphor, it makes your detectable mana indistinguishable from the air around it. Remember that even though people call it 'hiding' your mana, you're camoflauging your soul. Let's say you're trying to blend into this wall. Mana stealth would be looking exactly like this wall, but if you were to literally hide your mana, people would see a kobold shaped hole in the wall.
>"Anyways, experiencing this won't show you how to let go of your shape at will, but it will show you what it's like so that you have a sensation to chase rather than just stumbling around blindly hoping you figure it out. That's why it should be done here in Erja Nokol, so you can figure out exactly what this ocean is like, as mana stealthing here is a bit different than mana stealthing in other lands. We can do it in another land if you like, since figuring out how to do here is still easier after you learn how to do it elsewhere, but this is the direct route, and I'd question why you're doing an operation like this if you didn't want to take the most direct route as possible."
"Because our souls are supposed to be trapped here if we die?"
>"If you care about that. It's not like your scattered soul will have a consciousness to care, so it's more if you care about where the remnants of your soul is. It's true that it does take longer for your soul to scatter away in Erja Nokol's ocean, but it still happens." She finishes her lecture.
"And during this experience, could enemy necromancers yank my soul away?"
>"The experience happens so fast that even if they had a soul wizard looking at the right spot at the right ocean, they'd only see your soul poke its feet in for a couple of seconds, and that's it. A southern wizard would have to have been spending weeks to prepare a spell like that, and be able to find your soul poke inside in the span of a few seconds, and it's just too many ifs. It's possible, I understand your concern, but seeing that happen would easily be the wildest disaster I've seen in my entire life, and that's saying a lot."
No. 954461 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158000139926.png - (27.84KB , 800x800 , 1305.png )

>"Why," asks Aira almost in the middle of swallowing some food, "weren't we told to 'lose our shape' while meditating normally?"
>"Because it's just a metaphor. If they're told in terms like that, a lot of people get hung up on literally losing their shape or something like that, and end up taking longer to naturally learn it than they would if they weren't told anything. You can't truly understand what you're after here by just having people explain it in words. So I hope you understand why Holly spat out the word 'shorcut', because even with a perfect operation, you won't technically be any closer to mana stealthing like a pro than you were before, you'll just be given a better idea of how to do it. The good news is, though, is that people who do have those tools are able to attain mana stealth much faster, so in a way it is like an indirect shortcut. But once again, you have to survive, and have the experience, though having the experience just means being awake during the brink so that you can actually remember what it felt like, and that's why this hurts by design. Some boats also don't let themselves get to the water line until they're so waterlogged that there's no coming back - that is, you won't be at the brink until your body has inevitably fatal wounds even with healing magic."
"So this doesn't give a sudden power boost?"
>"... no, at least not physically, and not directly. It does make you harder to read, and can be a good stepping stone for your own mana control, so few survivors say that this operation wasn't worth it."

She looks to the side.

>"Just remember that we only have the survivor's opinions on that."
"Have you experienced it, yourself?"
>"I have, with being drowned to near-death."
"Was that safe?"
>"My instructor did a good job at not killing me, and it's one of the safer methods technically, but it took three weeks of being constantly drowned before I was able to stay awake for it. I'm not sure I ever fully recovered, either, but that's too personal and too irrelevant to bother talking about."
"And how many times have you done this before?"
>"This specifically I've done about 50 times, but I've also done hundreds of surgeries involving guts in the same area, so I know the internals very well."
"And how many died of those 50?"
>"...18." She says, after a second's hesitation but with some force behind her voice.
"Does that not mean the chances of dying are 18 out of 50?"
>"Given the circumstances, I'm proud more than half of them survived. Almost all of those 50 were not valuable knights, they were people who were on their final chances of being useful, and it was on par with pawns being thrown into Erja Nokol tar pits for the chance at becoming abominations. They weren't given healing tools or even clean medical supplies, and the stipulation given to me was that they were either going to learn how to mana sense quickly, or die trying, and I couldn't spend much time with any of them, so I just had to poke them quickly as best as I could without going slowly about it. The only reason why I did it was because any official surgeon would've just used the opportunity to experiment wildly on them instead of seriously try to maximize success. You two, on the other hand, will have just about the best available circumstances this side of the shroomleaf forest. I'm confident that if you're going to do this, you'll have a difficult time finding anyone better than me for it."
No. 954462 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158000146475.png - (21.83KB , 800x800 , 1306.png )

I mention Aira's past wound and other concerns, but they either get waved off or I'm assured my concern is noted and addressed.

>"Any other questions?" she asks. We remain silent. "Comments?"
"You have nice eyes."
>"Thank you, but I mean regarding the procedure. Any dumb questions?"
>"You're not an official surgeon with the empire?" asks Aira.
>"Oh, no, if I were, then this is where I'd ask for a hefty tip to 'ensure' a successful operation."
"Registered surgeons can guarantee a successful operation?" I ask, incredulous.
>"Anyone can," says Kylia. "And conveniently for them, the dead usually don't get the opportunity to ask for a refund. Oh, Fen, I had a question for you! Specifically, if the worst comes to pass, some might lay the blame at least partially on me."
"I would not blame you."
>"And since I'll do my best and I'm being upfront about the risks, I wouldn't blame myself either, but I'm not concerned about whether or not you or I feel that way. I'm concerned about your brother. If you die, am I going to have Sir Zizi come after me?"
"Hmm... I cannot promise that he won't feel ill will, but he isn't the sort to seek revenge or even harbor grudges. You do not need to fear retribution from him."
>"That's good enough for me, I'll assume you know your brother well enough."

That's a dangerous assumption, but I feel confident enough in that part of Zizi at the least.
No. 954464 ID: e2f5cc

Hmm, a one in ten chance of death is honestly a lot better than I expected.

I can't think of much else to do other than rest up though, with the exception of asking this knowledge fountain of a woman about Zizi and why people are so scared of him, other than the obvious.
No. 954465 ID: 88927d

Have you EVER seen your brother piss off or upset? We are talking about someone that can kill a Dragon Knight. If he seeks revenge, there is no stopping him.

Do Kylia/your foes a favor and ask him next time you can, i am also curious.
No. 954467 ID: b1b4f3

She said it'll be painful. Just how much pain are we talking here? This procedure kinda sounds better suited to Aira than Fen when you take into account you have to keep from passing out, since as we've seen she is very resistant to being knocked out.

Also, Fen: reflect on how far you've come, and how much you've learned. How much stronger and faster are you? Have you learned any good techniques?
No. 954469 ID: a9af05

>Any other questions?
How does Kylia know when to stop cutting? Do she just guess or is there a way that she can tell?

Will we need to be strapped down and/or muzzled? If this is going to be painful, we might end up flailing around and screaming, which might make things harder for Kylia to do what she needs to do.

Can Kylia show us what the mana stealth looks like? I want to see if we can sense her.

"Are there any non-alcoholic drinks on the cart? The first time I tried an alcoholic drink, someone had put something in it to knock me out, so I no longer trust any alcoholic drinks."

Will we be guarded during the procedure? I wouldn't be surprised if someone sees this as a good opportunity to try and attack Fen!
No. 954470 ID: 015bf2

>Zizi won't be a problem.
Kiki, on the other hand... think she'd go so far as to leave the shroomleaf forest?

Thank Kylia for her frank instructions, 1 in 10 is closer odds than you'd prefer, but you will still take the chance. Is there anything else you've forgotten to consider?

Ask Aira if there is anything she'd like to ask of you, in case you survive and she doesn't. You have no particular requests of her, but you felt like it would be fair to ask.

Anything else to consider? If not, then just enjoy the meal. It is pretty nice, isn't it?
No. 954471 ID: 91ee5f

Why don’t you ask about what stories Kylia has heard about your brother? No matter how many times you’ve asked, Zizi never told you anything when he returned home.

>How does Kylia know when to stop cutting? Does she just guess or is there a way that she can tell?
That’s actually a good question.
No. 954477 ID: bb78f2

You know, I don't think Zizi could seek vengence on anyone as pretty as she is. Still a dangerous assumption though. I wonder, does she know Zizi personally? I know he's a legend, but I can't help but think everyone would underestimate a legend. She's treating him like a real threat.

Even if she's never met him, that must means she's gotten close to where he's done some damage, or knows someone who has.

Strangely enough, you might learn something about your brother from HER. You might want to ask her as your stupid question.
No. 954481 ID: 1d7c77

Well, a caveat to add on to that might be that at least he'd probably come visiting. Your family would want your body and Zizi would be the one to get sent to do it. He might take a little convincing, since he hasn't met any of your friends himself, to trust them? But you're sure he'd give a chance for an explanation, and he would believe you died trying to get strong fast.

So, if it's important to stay awake, would it actually be good to take some sort of stimulant? Some equivalent of tea or coffee? Maybe arrange some sort of adrenaline rush? Also, if being generally healthy is likely to help stay awake and maybe make dying a slight less of a risk, would it be a waste to get some healing before the procedure, since it improves general healthiness?
No. 954482 ID: c2f1f6

Sometimes I feel I know less about him than I think. He didn't exactly talk about his time in the empire much. It's understandable, but very often turns out to be frustrating.

Ehh, it's not important. Look, It sounds like this process from our end will be difficult, but uncomplicated. Is there anything we can do to help for your end?
No. 954483 ID: 10c408

Who said anything about cutting. She knows exactly where the organ in question is, and how deep it is.

I hope Fen isn't afraid of giant needles.
No. 954486 ID: 1d7c77

Thinking on it, a theoretical best option seems like it would be to get someone hopped up on some alertness drug so that they can't pass out, or have a wizard use some similar magic effect since we've seen stamina restoration from them, or both, and then try the drowning option while under those effects. Might be worth a mention just for curiosity as to if that's plausible, though it seems like it would have been thought of.

Follow-up to the Erja thing, though, is there a chance that, going by the ocean metaphor, Erja might be more "turbulent" than the other oceans? Back in the mausoleum pawn days, we saw the dead stirring up ashes with no necromancer directing them. Any manifestations like that have been unnoticeable compared to what the necromancers are doing, here, but you'd imagine the local souls aren't happy. So, what if the ocean here has more waves, as it were? If it rejects you harder, or conversely, pulls more eagerly?
No. 954488 ID: feecd8

>How does Kylia know when to stop cutting? Does she just guess or is there a way that she can tell?
She doesn't cut, she uses a needle to poke at the organ.

I think what you meant to ask was, "How does Kylia know when to stop inserting the needle?"

Because if she pokes too much, it causes death, and if she doesn't poke enough, the procedure won't work. So asking Kylia if she knows when she needs to stop or keep going would be the correct thing to ask.
No. 954494 ID: afdebc

>Breaking into the imperial mail system isn't something that even mithril nobles take lightly, because it's a network made at the emperor's level.
It's not something that has to be taken lightly or heavily for whoever already controls the mail service. If the nobles have to break in, that's because the emperor isn't letting them trivially compete with his own intelligence service's existing monopoly.

So Kylia is a secret surgeon. How long until it's confirmed Holy is a secret ninja?

>If you die, am I going to have Sir Zizi come after me?
At that point, he might as well come after himself, for encouraging Fen to take all the risks he has.

There don't really seem to be any useful questions left to ask- she explained the procedure, and asking further details about exactly how she will do it don't change the odds of success. It just comes down to if we trust her to perform the operation, and if we actually think the operation is worth the risk.

And it's Fen, so of course we're doing this.
No. 954519 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158007072886.png - (22.17KB , 800x800 , 1307.png )

Then again, I've never seen Zizi upset. He was never quick to anger before he left for the empire, but when he returned, he seemed more like nothing could get to him. He's never had siblings die, though. Kiki might be truly angry, but... even though she's not a bad fighter, she does not have the level of danger that Zizi does.

"Do you know much about my brother? He never talked about his empire career. I sometimes think I don't know my brother as well as many in the empire."
>"Should I be worried if you're wrong about him seeking vengeance?"

I look at Kylia, again.

"Even if I am wrong about his want of revenge, I cannot imagine him exacting revenge on someone who looks the way you look."
>"Oh? I'll be sure to dress accordingly then, if he does. I've met with people who talked about Zizi, but I should be the one asking you to verify some of the odd tales I've heard about him. Is it true that Zizi is always dirty as though he never bathes?"
"Yes. He does bathe, but I somehow have no memories of him ever being completely clean. Who told you that?"
>"Best I not say."
"Neither I nor Zizi would be offended by whoever said what is true."
>"No, it's not out of fear of offending." Kylia says, with a very clear tone of finality, so I move on.
"What makes my brother so scary, besides the obvious?"
>"The obvious being that he can kill a dragon knight?"
>"Nothing I know of."
"That was my dumb question, then."

She laughs. Not strongly, and she cuts it off short as she sees the face I put on while pondering my next question.
No. 954520 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158007074378.png - (30.51KB , 800x800 , 1309.png )

"You said it's painful. How painful?"
>"Very. It's not the worst pain that's out there, it won't even compare to real torture, but it's still enough that you should be strapped down in case you get squirmy and make the wound worse. You can always have me stop at any time, and I'll be talking you through it as we do it. I'll be paying attention to your body to see when it can handle more poking, or when I need to back off to let it heal a bit so I don't go too far."
"I understand. Can you show me mana stealth?"

She disappears from my own sense of mana, as expected. I can't sense her, but it isn't as though my own sense of mana is truly honed as of yet.

I drink some of the non-alcoholic drinks. It was food chosen by Holly, so any alcoholic drinks are few and clearly marked.
No. 954521 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158007081773.png - (30.51KB , 800x800 , 1309.png )

"Will we be guarded?"
>"Yes, by a couple and myself. The fewer that know about it, the better."
"Would Erja Nokol's 'ocean' be more turbulent? That is, following the metaphor, would the ocean more aggressively tear me away from the boat?"

Kylia ponders that for a long moment.

>"There's reasons why that would be a concern, and why it wouldn't be a concern. I don't think it'll change the outcome, either way."

We talk for a moment about the drowning option, and about ways to stay awake, but Kylia seems strong minded against that option. Finally, Kylia turns to Aira.

>"Ask me something, Aira! You've had almost no questions."
>"Is that a problem?"
>"Being poorly informed is always a problem."


>"That was my question." Aira states.
>"Okay, okay, I get it.
>"Fen asked every other question I thought of. Are any of the rooms reserved for nobles available?"
>"Sure." Kylia leans in to whisper to Aira. "Just remember what this tavern was made for, so even though the rooms are plenty safe physically, they're not safe to go talking openly in."
>"Why would I talk?"
>"Because I assume Fen's joining you."
No. 954523 ID: 86eb65

No. 954524 ID: 4f51b2

I thought you had two brothers who die while they were in the empire. Where they anything like you or Zizi?
No. 954525 ID: afdebc

>>Why would I talk
>>"Because I assume Fen's joining you."
"That's okay, we're less talkative without someone to ask questions of."

Just completely ignore the awkward subject of sharing bedrooms, Fen and Aira have already had that talk. If they share a room here, it's because they're both still paranoid.
No. 954527 ID: b97d8a

Oh really? That means we can hold hands during?
No. 954528 ID: e2f5cc

Well, why wouldn't we share a room? Since they're mainly for nobles the beds are surely more than enough for two people. Plus, it's still cold here ain't it?

I do wonder why Kylia thought you and Aira would sleep together though, since I don't think she's seen you two go to bed in the same private room.
No. 954531 ID: 8d23f0

"wouldn't Holly or Kylia here be better for keeping warm in the night, I am fairly hard and scaly, while they are soft and nicer to touch."
No. 954532 ID: 015bf2

>Assume Fen is joining you.
"Only if she wants me to. Are cold rooms an issue here?"
No. 954542 ID: 1ed92d

Wait a minute.... She said she was proud more than half survived and compared the dangerous version of the operation to be like jumping in the tar pits.

Does that mean the tarpits have a survival rate on par with the dangerous version? Man, no wonder so many people jump in there.

Also, Fen likes joining people in their rooms, but is a dedicated Lily-sexual so... Eh, let the doctor fantasize.
No. 954551 ID: 88927d

... We are besties.
No. 954558 ID: ce39da

"I think we'd feel safer together, and we won't have much to talk about in there. What's the issue?" Act like she's speaking a foreign language if she makes overt references or allusions.
No. 954561 ID: baec18

No. 954564 ID: ac8352

Tell Kylia that she and holly are welcome to join you and aria.
No. 954618 ID: a9af05

>The fewer that know about it, the better.
Then would we need to be muzzled, in case we scream in pain? That way we don't have a bunch of soldiers rushing to our location thinking that there's been an attack of some kind.
No. 954629 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158017539175.png - (24.09KB , 800x800 , 1310.png )

I keep thinking about Zizi, and I realize I've completely forgotten about Ren and Len. They were my two siblings who died in this empire's conscripted army, but I often forget this fact, because it was from before I was born. Zizi never spoke of avenging them, and I can't imagine him making any particular effort to do so, although he was very young when Ren and Len died.

I focus back on the topic at hand.

"We're safer in numbers. Is there an issue?"
>"Oh, no, the rumors just seem true, is all."
>"Is that any of your business?" asks Aira.
>"Hm? Hmmmm. If that's your attitude, I can see why the rumors were getting spread like juicy gossip. Normally no one cares at all if a guy and a girl obviously get alone in a room and..." She makes some kind of gesture with her hands.
"Hold hands." I joke.

There's a pause, and then Kylia makes a long whistling exhale. She laughed normally earlier, but now she's doing some kind of stange, alternate laugh that I assume is a northern trait.

>"Okay, okay, I didn't want to make a big deal of it, I just had to indulge myself for a moment there and give you two a hard time."
No. 954630 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158017540183.png - (71.69KB , 1200x800 , 1311.png )

We're shown to the room. It's expensive looking, although the walls aren't laden with novelty items. I still have a couple questions for Kylia, but they're smaller questions that can be dealt with tomorrow.

"You are welcome to join us, Kylia." I say, with faith that Aira will voice complaints if she has any.
>"Oh, no thank you, I don't like to be seen in a room with anyone else for more than a couple of moments."
"Why not?"
>"I don't want to give customers any reasons to get the wrong idea about what I do, here. If you need anything... well, you're in Holly's tavern. You can find help, but I should go get some sleep fast. It's a long day tomorrow, and you two should try your best to sleep as well. Goodnight, Fen, Aira."
"Goodnight, Kylia."
>"'night." says Aira.
No. 954631 ID: 465a14

initiate handholding protocol
No. 954632 ID: 695467

I'm curious as to why Aira decided to go along with this as well, since it seemed like she was waiting for you to decided first. Ask if she's worried maybe?

Otherwise just get some rest, the decision's been made, no sense brooding over it.
No. 954633 ID: e2f5cc

Seems like Aira has something on her mind. More than the whole going to have a needle poke a vital organ thing I mean. Go see whats up with your friend.
No. 954634 ID: 86eb65

Inspect room for traps, assassins, ghouls, specters, and wraiths.

Then idly poke at the bed ceiling and ponder why it exists.
No. 954635 ID: 1d7c77

How comfy! Check closet and drawers for assassins. We already know things can be overheard through here, better safe than sorry. Can't really talk about what exactly you're doing to be doing tomorrow, considering that, but you could have a more vague conversation with Aira about how much and why exactly she's driven to chase along with you on your high-risk pursuits of strength. She is her own kobold, of course, and you think she has good judgement I'm sure, but it might be something considerate to ask about.
No. 954636 ID: 4f51b2

Aira looks beutiful.
No. 954637 ID: 3ce8ff

WHOA handholding is so LEWD!
No. 954638 ID: afdebc

Man, this place is really a lot more luxurious than you've gotten used to.

>"I don't want to give customers any reasons to get the wrong idea about what I do, here.

"So do we have any secrets that need discussing for listening ears?"
No. 954640 ID: e7848c

Aria has been a hell of a friend during your career. Thank her for that. You don't have to hold hands if she doesn't want to, but a soft bed and the warm friend should rarely be declined. Especially in a war.
No. 954641 ID: ce39da

Get properly undressed and lie down next to her. (Don't forget to keep a sword just shy of in your hand.)
"G'night, Aira."
No. 954642 ID: 62654e

Ask Aria what she thinks about this ordeal, any remarks? If not, time to restb we are going to need it.
No. 954643 ID: a9af05

I highly doubt any of those things can get in here when the walls have a bunch of highly trained spies crawling around in them.
No. 954644 ID: 015bf2

Make a quick check through the room, see if you can spot the hidden hidey holes and such. Then make brief small talk with Aira while spending a short while trying to detect whoever is inevitably spying on you.

Both of these actions might be useful practice for later, if you're ever in a place you don't trust.

Other than that, rest will be important, so do catch up on it while you can.
No. 954646 ID: f09f50

Okay, so something's definitely up with Aira. However, she's always been the sort to keep to herself. You both have made your decision, its best not to bother each other with pointless discussion. That said, do check the room a bit, and pull down the blanket above the bed for additional warmth. Why someone hung it above the bed will forever be a mystery.
No. 954649 ID: b1b4f3

Wow, that's a lot of storage space.
Well, bedtime is business as usual I suppose. Though now you have real places to put your stuff, and a comfier bed. Maybe you won't even need to cuddle up for warmth with those covers?
No. 954653 ID: c2f1f6

...We forgot to decide who goes first. Eh, we can draw straws or something...

Remember to check the closet and under the bed for assassins. No they aren't there, but the fewer unknowns in the back of your head the better you'll sleep. Try to get comfortable, find the bed is too soft for what you're used to and curl up on a blanket on the floor.

I also want to ask that question, but I also don't want to imply her decision is anything but her own or act overly protective, especially since we've made the same decision she has.
No. 954654 ID: 12ef8b

You already complemented Kylia, may as well do the same with Aira.
No. 954658 ID: 91ee5f

Don’t talk about anything that you want to remain private. Especially with Zall’s spies in the walls listening all the time.
No. 954685 ID: 0cd962

"Do you think we are making the right choice? We could probably learn stealth just fine on our own after a few weeks."

Check the room for the usual threats as you chat.
No. 954692 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158023298183.png - (19.95KB , 800x800 , 1312.png )

I look inside of this large container I could fit in. There's lockboxes on the side of the bed, too, with complimentary keys. I do it all out of curiosity as much as to check for any secret people, but the room is safe.

Aira's flops backwards into the pillow.
No. 954693 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158023311133.png - (14.92KB , 800x800 , 1313.png )

I inspect the bed for any spies inside, undress, and put my sword nearby. Once I get on the bed, Aira is under the covers. I notice they are heavy. The blanket at the top of the bed seems very light, I'm unsure why it is there, but it doesn't seem to be meant to be taken down. I follow Aira under the heavy blanket to speak in hushed whispers.

"Thanks, Aira, for being a reliable friend."
"May I ask why you chose to do this with me?"
>"Because it's smart."
"I'm glad you think so, but why do you think so?"
>"... I forget that you aren't as experienced at being a pawn as most of the rest of us. There have been many situations where we had to hide, but failed to do so. Most of the pawns around me died. By comparison, what we're going to do is safe, and will turn those dangerous situations into safer ones. In other words, choosing to do this increases our chances of survival, not harms it. I thought that's why you chose to do it."
"I am in a hurry to get stronger, and will take the chance even if there was also a chance we could learn mana stealth on our own in a few weeks."
>"It's too big of a chance that we'll be in danger before we learned on our own."
"When you put it like you did, I wonder if the others should have joined, too."
>"No, most soldiers assume they are going to die, and they try to control how they die. That's why most of us avoid any risk of dying like how we might. That, or they disagree that the chances of survival increase."
"Why do they assume they will die?"
>"Because if they think they might live, then every moment down here becomes terrifying. You appear to be in it to survive, so I have no idea how you are able to follow the orders we get reliably."

There's a moment of silence as I contemplate if or how to reply to that, before she holds my hand. I'd like to compliment her look like I did Kylia, but I don't think Aira cares about compliments like that.
No. 954694 ID: 83bf07

You're right. She's not that type of girl. Rest then, you two will need it. Wonder where her shirt went.

...she makes an excellent spoon.
No. 954695 ID: 1d7c77

"I'm not sure I do think I might live. I just think I need to. If that makes sense."
No. 954696 ID: ce39da

"I sometimes wonder if I'm even capable of feeling fear - if there's something wrong with me because of it. My nightmare made incarnate hardly stirred anything in me. Then again, that apparition wasn't exactly dangerous. That what it was trying to personify was only made clear after its true nature and purpose were already known might have blunted the effect a bit as well. What do you think?"
No. 954698 ID: e2f5cc

Y'know, this is the second time you and Aira have slept together in seclusion the night before something highly dangerous, you think she has a confession to make like last time?

Because she does. People who are just friends don't hold hands, Fen.
No. 954699 ID: 86eb65

"Do they worry about how people will view them after they are gone? That dying from a needle lessens there life somehow?"
No. 954702 ID: 91ee5f

I think it’s time to sleep. Don’t keep each other awake all night, since both of you are going to need your rest for what’s going to happen tomorrow.

>People who are just friends don't hold hands, Fen.
I think Aira is just playing along with that joke Fen told Kylia earlier. A guy and a girl obviously get alone in a room and hold hands.
No. 954704 ID: 0cd962

"Let's make a pact. If anything goes wrong the survivor will go beat up a necromancer and force them to bring us back. So if your soul ends up lost and confused in the crypt stay strong so I can find you."

"Of course I will be waiting for you to save me as well."
No. 954705 ID: 91ee5f

>go beat up a necromancer and force them to bring us back.
That is a terrible idea.
No. 954706 ID: 721c60

"Maybe I'm not scared of fighting because I grew up with it and it's what I do best. Or maybe it's because of the dream I'm fighting for, which I will fail if I fail the army. I pursue my dream and help my friends along the way, it's a simpler life than it looks."
No. 954712 ID: a9af05

Time to sleep.

I wouldn't be surprised if Fen doesn't understand that and asks what an eating utinsel has to do with sleeping next to someone?

Fen already told Aira that he has his heart set on Lily, so I'd be surprised if Aira developed an feelings for him at all.

That's not funny. Don't even joke about something like that. Nobody would want to be brought back by a necromancer.
No. 954718 ID: b1b4f3

"Let's continue to not die, then."
No. 954724 ID: f133dc

Y'know, considering the way her life has changed thanks to him, it's be a little weird of Aira WASN'T into Fen.

Of course if she was she'd never ever admit that to anyone.
No. 954730 ID: 015bf2

Close your eyes.

"I don't have time to fall behind or fail, so I try not to let useless fears get in the way. If I die, I die, but I aim to live. I want to have a chance at..."

Picture Lily in your mind. Recall your last parting hug. Squeeze the hand, almost involuntarily.
No. 954733 ID: bb78f2

Massage her hand a little bit brah. Gently. This is either moment for silence, or suggest that fighting for survival gives you an edge in momentum.

So long as it carries forward, so do you. You're riding the waves of life, not death. You're hoping fortune truly does favor the bold. The KObold.
No. 954741 ID: ba3283

She has previously identified as ace, and hasn't yet done anything to indicate otherwise. Fen isn't ignoring signals, he's respecting her stated position.
No. 954742 ID: 094652

Well, it sounds like the rank and file take a form of insanity that allows them to cope with the constant conflict between their military doctrine, code of nobility, and survival instinct.

You? Love drove you insane a long time ago. You're working for the chance to savor it.
No. 954746 ID: 4f51b2

"I see it all as an obstacle that I have to overcome, honestly I don't know how I'd endure all this if I thought I'd die here. You can praise her for her bravery.
No. 954750 ID: afdebc

>You appear to be in it to survive, so I have no idea how you are able to follow the orders we get reliably.
>There's a moment of silence as I contemplate if or how to reply to that
"I suppose with something to live for, I'm not afraid of risking death. Maybe that doesn't make much sense, but wanting something changed my outlook a lot."
No. 954753 ID: 22da8c

"I don't think i fear death as much as i fear failure. You could say that failure and death are the same thing. But i gues i would rader die than fail in my goal. I don't what will i do if i don't succed. So dying isn' do bad, is just another obstacule."
No. 954771 ID: e2f5cc

You probably should give Aira at least a little compliment about her looks, maybe something about how her eye patch looks great on her?
No. 954787 ID: 03e95a

Bad idea to mention "eyepatch" and "look" in the same sentence.
No. 954792 ID: b1b4f3

This is not the time for compliments, she'll get the wrong idea.
No. 954800 ID: 91ee5f

I agree
No. 954809 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158032352131.png - (10.57KB , 800x800 , 1314.png )

"It's not that I don't think there's a chance I will die, but surviving here and advancing in rank is the only way I will live, not just survive. The fear I feel little compared to the thought of giving up and abandoning everything."
>"Sorry, I had forgotten about you and L." She takes her hand back.
"I don't mind the hand, but..." I don't know how to approach the topic about how affectionate it felt, even if it was just a simple grab.
>"I remembered the joke, but..." Even though she trails off, she's breathing in a way like she's trying to formulate other words. She, too, does not appear to have any idea how to approach this topic, and simply grabs my hand again."
>"Your hands are cold, but just remove them from mine if you find it inappropriate. On the previous topic, you do fear, then? You hide it well."
"All barbarians learn to hide it well, but lately, I have been able to do it so well that it may as well not be there."

I squeeze Aira's hand back. Aira may not make me feel the same way that Lily did, but I like and appreciate Aira enough that it still would feel wrong to push her away at all.

It's a very small hand.
No. 954810 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158032357451.png - (53.31KB , 1200x800 , 1315.png )

We sleep, get up, and skip breakfast all without event.

Kylia comes to meet us in our bedroom, and guides us through a tunnel under the tavern. I believe we're going underneath Zall's building, and soon we end up in a dark place that looks like one of those fabled dungeons I've heard stories about. There are no prisoners in the cells, anyway, but Kylia guides us past the area and into a cleaner looking room that's been set up for this ritual. I set my weapons in a box that Kylia gestures towards.

>"Sorry about the interior." says Kylia. She sounds more somber than usual, but it isn't hard to guess why. "I'll get some more candles, and this place is private. Each of you just lie on either of those two beds over there, since I'll be doing both of you at the same time."
"The beds are at a steep incline." I note.
>"The straps will keep you up and on them. If they were flat, it'd be even easier to fall asleep on."
"Will we have to be muzzled, to prevent screaming and getting attention?"
>"No. Sound doesn't travel far here, but moreso, I want you two to be capable of deciding to cancel the procedure at any point before or during. Gags and muzzles make that hard. Although..."
No. 954811 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158032365105.png - (41.11KB , 800x800 , 1316.png )

Kylia walks to a box, and from it, she pulls out a long needle.

>"There aren't many more chances to back out before the needle goes in. Any cold feet?"

I say 'no', and Aira gets herself onto one of the beds. I join her.
No. 954812 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158032370759.png - (68.19KB , 1000x800 , 1317.png )

rolled 85 = 85

Fen's survival roll is 1d200. A higher result is better.

>"Gippiks told me you didn't share your lunch with him."
"Huh? Is that guy still going on about that?"
>"Naw, I just remembered, but I never realized how much you ate. Did you have that much lunch when you didn't share?"
"Yeah, what of it?"
>"Heh, just seems a little mean now that I see how much you kept to yourself."
"That'll teach him to forget his own lunch. It's not like he starved, Nawm, he just had to survive 6 more hours till getting to go up to eat a dinner at the palace! I'm sure he complained the entire time to all the starving prisoners."
>"And us, yes. I guess nothing came of it, but be careful not sharing food like that, Moss. Your fellow guards might think you don't care about them."
"'Course I care." I lie, for the most part. This one's alright, mostly. "But I get the good food for lunch, so if I start giving it away to hungry guards, before long the whole floor is going to suddenly start 'forgetting' their lunch."
>"Damn, you really do think low of us, huh?"
"Am I wrong?"
>"Didn't say that. Just sayin', sometimes some people forget things perfectly innocent, and could use a little help for it."
"... you forgot your lunch, didn't you."
No. 954813 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158032374916.png - (18.12KB , 800x800 , 1318.png )

>"How dare you accuse me, Moss. I accept food as an apology."
No. 954814 ID: 86eb65

Silently chop a hunk off the second sandwich and pass it over.
No. 954815 ID: 5fc3a0

The roll was meant to be 1d100, to be clear. The previous spoiler text describing it as a 1d200 was incorrect, but the roll itself was correctly done.
No. 954816 ID: 465a14

Give him part of one sando.
No. 954817 ID: 0cd962

Give her a taste of your meat.
No. 954818 ID: 1d7c77

"An apology, right. Not the same thing as sharing, at all. So long as I'm not gonna suddenly be surrounded by people getting offended at lunchtime, either."
No. 954819 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158032810895.png - (29.79KB , 800x800 , 1319.png )

I tear off a piece of my untouched sandwich and hand it to Nawm.

"As long as I don't start start 'offending' everyone right around lunchtime."
>"Oh, I won't be sharing this knowledge with anyone, haha."
"Why me, anyway? Am I the only one who remembered to pack a lunch?"
>"First off, you're a big softy and actually gave me something. Second, you bring in the best food. Third, I got told to tell you that a mail runner's waiting in the fourth study room. You have an important priority letter or something. Fourth, I'll pay you back and I trust you to not overprice your own food."
No. 954820 ID: 465a14

Yeah, alright. Keep it in mind for later, time to go get the important letter and see what shenanigans are afoot.
No. 954821 ID: e2f5cc

Lets go meet this mysterious mail man while you finish the half of the sandwich you're currently eating and just the other half, as a test to see what Nawm does with it.

And of course bring your sword in case they're here to merk you for whatever reason.
No. 954822 ID: b1b4f3

Important priority letter? That's weird. Fen's letters aren't priority, it must be from someone else. Better go check it out. Pack your lunch back up and go see what it is.
Are you in a good position to help Fen when he comes to get the scarf?
No. 954824 ID: 8c4eb9

Damn they have you pegged to a T. Take your food and eat on the way.
No. 954825 ID: 86eb65

"If by pay me back you mean deliver me a handcrafted lunch you made yourself we have a deal."

Then head off to meet the mail guy. Make sure you properly hand over your shift and follow procedures of course.
No. 954828 ID: 0cd962


Yes make her repay the favor in kind.
No. 954833 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158033491148.png - (25.46KB , 800x800 , 1320.png )

"I expect to be paid back in the form of your own handmade lunch, Nawm. Get someone to cover for me in case this mail takes longer than it should."

I grab my sword, dodge prisoner's hands, and head over to the study hall. Maybe it's a promotion so that I can actually get in a better position to help Fen when he comes over to get his scarf back. Or at least to a spot where I don't have to dodge prisoner hands.

The 'mail' runner looks to be wearing a year's worth of mail runner wages in cloth.

"Hello. I'm told I have urgent mail."
>"That's correct."
No. 954834 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158033502343.png - (14.28KB , 800x800 , 1321.png )

He hands me a few letters. One is Fen's. There's nothing unusual about the letter itself, it's just an update on how he's still alive and working on the Erja Nokol campaign, trying to get into Sir Zall's elite to be sent down in the mausoleum.

The other is from my ex-wife.

>"Hi, Moss. I hope your new job is better than you made it sound. I did mean it when I said I still cared for you, so I'm glad I met someone who knew your address so I could mail you. Please write back to me. I understand if you don't want to talk at great length with me, but I want to know if you're doing alright."

Then the other is from Gahn, a name I haven't seen since Fen stopped at that break town. He wrote in his usual, barely legible handwriting.

>"Hy Moss! I got on with some one at the Fins!" The Fence, I'm sure he means. "He told me allabowt ya! Bin buzy here but you beter beleve Im gonna nab ya when I'm in Graskin nekst! Sed you bin living that hi guard life, so your paying!" He ran out of room on the letter, here.

"That's all the mail?" I say to the overly well dressed 'mail runner'.
>"Haha, well, I was down here anyway, I thought I'd do the job even though I'm no mail runner. I'm here for an assignment for you."
"That is?"
>"My name is Lord Sayanos of Pocktown, and I'd like Fen the Red Maw to die. You may stop making eye contact with me, now."
No. 954836 ID: 721c60

Tell him you're not allowed to accept such claim without proof.
No. 954837 ID: 721c60

And if he properly authenticates, ask if he first convened of this with your lord and master, for Warlord Krix is the one who decides if you leave town.
No. 954838 ID: e2f5cc

You've nothing to lose by asking some questions here, but you should definitely drop eye contact.

Some questions you could ask are:
Why? Wouldn't Fen murdering Raysan (or whatever his name was) be good for him, since one can can assume he's now the gold noble of that area?

Why me? Since Moss doesn't know about his letter(s?) getting intercepted, Moss probably believes that the last time Sayanos knows he was in contact with Fen was back at the trial.

What's in it for me? Gotta at least know how important this is to him, at least beyond coming here in person.

But no matter what you say (excluding "why me") you have no reason to be deceitful because, lets be honest here, you're not a great liar Moss, and a gold noble wouldn't appear in person if he didn't have all the cards he needed, so lying will only piss him off.
No. 954840 ID: 721c60

>Why? Wouldn't Fen murdering Raysan (or whatever his name was) be good for him, since one can can assume he's now the gold noble of that area?
Following Rasyan's death, Pocktown (which was an enclave in Krix's jurisdiction) was reintegrated into it (which means this guy can't be higher than Stone). Everyone in Pocktown is pissed at this because, well, Krix.
No. 954841 ID: b1b4f3

Alright time to treat this guy as a noble. Bow and ask how you may serve. It's not like you're an assassin or anything, so there must be some other angle he wants your help with.

Also, the timing of those other letters is suspicious. I'd bet this guy told them about you and gave them money to buddy up to you and try to get information from you. Well, that or they were told where you were so that they would get back into your life and then make better hostages to ensure you do the job he's asking you to do. Or both!
No. 954843 ID: b1b4f3

Hmm... wouldn't Fen killing Krix be a good thing then?
No. 954844 ID: ed9875

Agree, but under the condition that you get moved out of guard duty.

By all means abuse this guy's pull to go wherever you want. You don't actually have to do anything if you get to leave in persuit.
No. 954845 ID: 721c60

Yes, but it's assumed Pocktown residents don't know Fen plans to kill Krix, and being caught informing this guy of that fact would be grounds for summary execution. And if this guy is actually a Krix loyalist in disguise sent to "test" Moss, Krix would definitely know he should have Moss killed.
No. 954847 ID: 721c60

>this guy's pull
If this guy really is from Pocktown, then he doesn't have any pull: Krix outranks him.
No. 954848 ID: 721c60

Hm, I'm wondering if Moss could try and inform the guy with plausible deniability, such as "I'm sure my master will be pleased, and reward me handsomely if I kill the barbarian who has vowed to murder him."
No. 954849 ID: bb78f2

Do you have proof of your identity?
Why are you involving me of all people? There are more talented killers associated with the Red Maw over me, not to mention the distance between us.
Is this some elaborate double, triple, or quadruple plot where you say you want to kill the Red Maw, but mean something else entirely that won't really end up in his death?
No. 954850 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158033798507.png - (18.28KB , 800x800 , 1322.png )

"Do you have proof?" I drop eye contact, and he peels back his cloth to show a stone coin of identification. I stand up straight and forward, other than my head. Between his coin and him coming down here, where the public isn't normally allowed, I'd have to be an idiot with a deathwish to press it further. I already need to start picking my words carefully.

"Why do you want Fen dead?"
>"Do you think we would just sit back and let the person who killed a gold noble go free? Do you know how bad of a message that sends, that murderers of nobles can get away freely? Or the message that those who benefited from Lord Rasyan's passing welcome such a murderer? It's a stupid question, Moss."
"Why did you come to me, for that?"
>"I don't have patience for stupid questions, Moss."
"I'm no assassin, so I assume there's another angle you want my help with."
>"The only 'angle' here is that unlike everyone else in town, Fen doesn't see you as an enemy. So I'm telling you to walk up to him, give him a big pat on the back, and put a dagger through it, or whatever implement you want. You don't need to be an assassin to kill someone, you know."
No. 954851 ID: e2f5cc

"... He's paranoid. Really, really paranoid. He said in one of his letters that wears his plate mail pretty much whenever he isn't sleeping, which would definitely include being in an presumably hostile town. Plus, for all he knows, something like, well, this happened, so I'm not sure if he'll even trust me enough to slip a knife in his... Whatevers not armored."

I actually do really like the idea of Moss turning against Fen, but this current "plan" is just suicide.
No. 954852 ID: 721c60

"There's a reason Fen doesn't see me as an enemy. How much do you price personal betrayal?"
No. 954853 ID: 86eb65

"Fair enough. So assuming I agree how would this work?"

They are either going to bribe you with gold or threaten you with horrible blackmail/family murder. For the moment your best bet is to not assume anything and stay interested but non committal.

Your best bet is to make him think that you are friends with Fen because you are following his rising star. That you follow/like Fen because of the benefits that he could bring you.

We want him to think that you would backstab Fen if larger and more immediate benefits were dangled in front of you.

Now of course if they have a truth mage welp what you going to do.

So stay curious and see where he is going with this.
No. 954854 ID: 3ce8ff

What are the expected consequences of
A not wanting to be stuck in Erja Nokol
B not stabbing a friend in the back
No. 954855 ID: b1b4f3

>Do you think we would just sit back and let the person who killed a gold noble go free?
Don't say this, but isn't that kind of thinking a bit treasonous? The court decided his punishment. He's been punished, and to imply otherwise is to disrespect the authority of the court, which is (apparently) the HIGHEST authority. I wonder if you can do something with this information...

Anyway, ask him if you can turn this down, because you don't think your chances of success are very high. If this is being forced upon you, ask what happens if you fail but Fen doesn't kill you for some reason.
...that gives me an idea. You could accept this job, make an obvious attempt but fail, and then Fen takes something from your (hopefully still alive)body that helps him get to Krix.
No. 954857 ID: 695467

Ok, well unless they want to offer you the choice of a deathwish, disagreeing or going to Erja Nokol, you'll be waiting here for Fen to claim his dragon cloth and when he does he's not gonna be here with peaceful intentions. So there's no need to actually follow through with agreeing.

You're going to have to show a degree of reluctance / feign being convinced before agreeing, since he is asking you to betrayal both a friend and a very dangerous person.

So maybe >>954852 but add "of someone who could easily kill me."

Or just "Why should I betray a friend who could easily kill me if I tried to kill them?" Not mentioning price keeps it from being a matter of sufficient payment, and more a matter of motivation e.g. if they think you're too fearful of being killed by Fen to try.

Don't give the enemy information
No. 954860 ID: bb78f2

Hmm, guess we have to ask the polite way
Does he have means to both get us in and out of Erja Nokol, while Fen's in the middle of a mission for an army of our Kingdom, whilst being surrounded by talented assassin's that are his compatriots?

Do you have any intel for me about those compatriots? Fen has been smartly sparse with the details in his letters, and I don't see that changing anytime soon, especially if I start prying in them.

What of leave for my current station? Do I have it?
No. 954861 ID: 10c408

"No, but you do have to be one to just slip past the security measures and armed forces to get close enough to grand knight Zall's subordinates, let alone start stabbing them."

I don't think this guy is who he says he is. If he is, then he's likely to try and kill you if you keep playing dumb.
No. 954862 ID: afdebc

Lord Rasyan (of Pocktown) held dominion over the eastern district of Turtle's Hideaway, as a gold noble. Warlord Krix is the gold currently in control of the Western district.

Unclear from context if Lord Sayanos is Lord Raysan's successor (and their house got downgraded from gold to stone after the loss of status / perceived weakness from Raysan's ignoble death) or if Lord Sayanos is the stone noble who managed Pocktown under Rasyan.

>what do
Well, I'd like to say something glibe, like "My lord, I'm neither a good assassin to kill a man nobles and actual assassins have failed to kill, nor a good enough liar to play the game where I pretend to agree with your request."

But he's a noble, there's no repercussions for him if he just kills Moss for refusing him, and Moss likely can't deal with the consequences of killing a noble, even assuming this one loses.

So grit your teeth and agree. "I obey, my Lord. So long as Warlord Krix does not order otherwise."

Add one guy to the list of people Fen has to kill. If he makes it back here, kills Krix and reclaims his dragocloth, he'll be a bigger bear than this guy anyways and you won't have to care what Sayanos thinks.
No. 954863 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158034220354.png - (18.28KB , 800x800 , 1322.png )

"He's a paranoid barbarian. I don't think he'll let me get as close to him as one might think. How would this even work, assuming I agree to this?"
>"You get an escort to Erja Nokol through whatever quarantine is still there by the time you arrive, where you'll find Fen and invite him to drinks, or whatever it is that would make him lower his guard."
"And on success, of personal betrayal of a highly danger draconian?"
>"Then you get paid well enough that you won't need to work for a long time. And if you like work, I can put you in just about any job you could dream of."
"You can pull me out of this job?"
>"I already talked to your captain about pulling you for this assignment. He's agreed. All these questions are making it sound like you're hesitating."
"... I don't think as highly of my chances as you might."
>"You'll have my resources to use. People, spies, money, whatever you need to enact an assassination plan. And that plan can be of your own choosing, so long as I hear of it. You know him and what will get his guard down better than I. I'd suggest you try to succeed, because now it sounds like you're trying to decline."

I'm not seeing a whole lot of ways this can end other than either me tossing out the words "I obey, my Lord," or my corpse getting tossed out.

That is, other than me successfully, somehow convincing this guy that I'm sure one of the worst people he could choose to drag me into hidden assassination schemes.
No. 954865 ID: afdebc

Okay, so if you stay here: you have to survive until Fen comes for Krix, help him, hope he wins, then you're free. And you have to survive this noble's displeasure (more assassins) at the same time too.

If you say yes: you get sent to the warzone, defect to join Fen and enlist in the army as soon as you meet up. Then not get killed in a warzone, and survive if this noble sends assassins after you for betraying him.

If you actually try to kill Fen: even if Fen doesn't kill you (he totally will, and then he'll feel bad about it) you have to not get killed by Fen's army buddies, his mutant buddies, his brother, or the warzone.

...you've got assassins after you no matter which answer you give. Saying no to Lord Sayanos gets the least scary assassins sent after you.

"I'm sorry, my Lord. I don't believe I could succeed, and even if I did, the war or his brother would kill me."
No. 954866 ID: 10c408

Honestly, you are going to have to lie to this noble to get him off your back.

And that means bluffing, which I've got two ideas about.

1: lie about the sham trial that lady apanya put on, probably something to do with standing orders you've got from someone who is so far up the foodchain that this guy pulling weight to have you removed is a Bad Idea for him.

2: make up a lie involving the correspondence you've had with Fen. There's hopefully a lot of opportune creativity you can use for your bluff, like saying that Fen's actually going crazy or that Zall has threatened to start chasing down leads to figure out who's head he can actually cut off to stopp all the assassination attempts on Fen even though that's not actually his job.
No. 954867 ID: 465a14

This isn't a secret you let people walk away from. Sayanos has the situation under his control. Moss has no support. We've given about as much resistance as he probably expects and tolerates, so time to play along. Figure out what's up, leech resources off him, and go to the warzone, since them approaching you instead of someone already close to Fen means they don't have enough influence in the warzone to keep the situation entirely under their control there. If you can get a logistics job in the warzone, it's safer than trying to deal with a noble conspiracy that wants you dead.

So, we need to fabricate a complicated plan to deal with Fen's paranoia and justify taking some resources from them and get a relatively secure job in the army. Gather some information while we're at it and it should be our best bet of getting out of this.
No. 954868 ID: 86eb65

Well agreeing would get you close to Fen. Close to Fen with money and men and resources. You could use those to secretly help him or openly help him for a bit.

That and its probably safer near Fen now that Fen's enemies know about you. If you stay here you will likely end up a hostage to discourage Fen.

(But you would be in undead territory.)

This guy does not seem horribly bright. Fen is a blood knight now right? That is minor noble territory and this guy is just a stone noble. And the idea that you will waltz into a army base and kill a knight and get away with it?

"So how cushy of a job are we talking about? Guard captain with a little house in town maybe?"

Unless you have a strong reason for staying here I think hanging out with Fen and helping him might be best.
No. 954869 ID: c2f1f6

How do you feel about faking your own death? He mentioned resources, you'll have an opportunity to learn who and what is opposing Fen. You get 'caught' or 'killed' in your attempt, spill the beans, and lay low far FAR from this shitty job.

Make some demands that are less then reasonable, it may reveal he doesn't plan on letting you live at all.
No. 954874 ID: 1d7c77

"No one of my station would rightfully deny one of yours, my lord, except under one condition: that it would go against the wishes of one who is yet higher still. Lady Apanya was the one who suggested my reassignment here, and in truth, if it were not for that then I would not have come here. Perhaps she cares and perhaps not, but for one such as myself the merest off-hand remark of a mithril noble should be as a command, should it not?"
No. 954876 ID: 015bf2

Okay. Refuge in audacity. It's about the only hope you have to maintain your position here, where you could potentially be useful to Fen in giving Krix his bloody what-for. Mainly because what you're about to say could even be so damn true.

"Fine, I wasn't sure where you wanted to go with this beyond some nebulous assassination plan, but if that is all... I will have to decline. Lord Krix would have more than my hide if I let you spoil his own plans. Heh. I'm sure he'd laugh, and then some, if he knew rivals in influence would pay out of pocket for his benefit, but I suspect it would behoove me not to mention any of this ever took place."

Smile stiffly.

"Did you honestly think, my lord, someone with a connection to Red Maw was not already wrapped up in schemes? Forgive me, Lord Sayanos, but you are simply too late for the recruitment drive."

Sigh, and then shrug.

"If you do not believe me, ask yourself this. What would I gain from maintaining connections with Fen at this point? Why would I go out of my way, serving in this place - serving under Lord Krix - being friends with the very Red Maw whose bounty Krix has raised and raised again? It would be dangerous. Risky. Frankly speaking, suicide. Unless... it was sanctioned. Tolerated. In short, whether as bait or blade, Krix intends to use me."

Fold your arms.

"As the only one of his tools, as you surmised, with the prior friendly relationship, Lord Krix already seeks to use me to kill Fen. And if you ruin that opportunity, Lord Sayanos, with your own plot, I am certain Krix will be... displeased. With you - and Pocktown - no longer having a Gold's support, is that ire something you really want to risk?"


"That must be your choice to make. I'm just surprised you wouldn't have waited until Red Maw took first crack at Lord Krix, or the bounty hunters succeeded, making your mission moot. You'd either save money, or one of your rivals would fall, after which you can then try to take advantage."
No. 954877 ID: bb78f2

My best play is to depress him so hard that he does nothing.

In all honesty, despite the gains I can make, I really don't want to do it. But I will, because a Lord demands it of me. The reality is that I hope I fail and Fen kills me, as that's the best way this can turn out for me now that you've asked.

I won't betray your plot as I know the risks, I have an ex-wife I somewhat still care about you can hurt if I do midway through. If you threaten to kill her her merely for my failure and death due to my lack of passion towards this goal, then that is a wasted gesture, as one cannot even gain a passion for success from that. I'm already a dead man walking, now that you've asked this of me. Whether I kill him and physically live, or he or one of his friends kills me physically, I am already dead. He may spare me, I suppose, but then I think that will only get me sent here as a prisoner, so I may as way take my life in the medbay upon failure.

If this is the sword you choose to wield my lord, it will swing, but it WILL break, for it is brittle and cheap.
No. 954880 ID: 39e3f1

If Lord Krix himself felt that he should take Lady Apanya's suggestion to accept you into service without objection, your being nervous at even the slightest hint of going against her desires is quite justifiable. Would you willingly take responsibility for even the slight chance of displeasing her, Lord Sayanos? I will be nothing if not honest if a mithril noble should ever ask me questions.
No. 954881 ID: c2f1f6

Ask him to assure you this isn't some test of loyalty from Lady Apanya. If he asks why, tell him if that's the case saying 'no' to his request is the only way you can see yourself surviving this.
No. 954883 ID: e2f5cc

You know what? Do it. Legitimately try and kill Fen.

Think about it. What has he honestly done for you Moss? He's been a decent friend in the, what, day you spend time with him? But other than that, he's solely been a negative on your life.

First getting you involved with the dragoncloth debacle in general, and you could've reasonably been pinned as an accomplice to him by that girl who saw you, Gahn and Fen when he was asking around for Raysan shortly before murdering him in an area you could bet would be argued as in your jurisdiction.

After that you got to chill for a solid week or two before you had to run for what was it, eight hours for the trial about Raysans death, which you were probably only spared the wrath of due to Lady Apyana using it for her own gain. Who also, of course, put you working under the person who seems to be one of the few people you truly despise, being surrounded on one side by those loyal to him and on the other by people deranged enough to call you "chicken fatty".

And for what? A chance he might kill Krix? One man against an army led by someone as strong as Fen is... Aren't exactly good odds. And if he fails, and you're found out? You'll be thrown to the prisoners if you lucky, and will likely become well acquainted with the limits of healing magic, if you get me.

But if you go along with this? You'll no doubt have the resources to deal with one man, and to be protected from the aftermath, be it a legendarily dangerous but fortunately unsubtle brother or vengeful squadmates that wont be able to shirk their duties forever. And in the end you'll be rewarded with the only thing you wanted out of this: A quiet life, perhaps with Nawm or the ocean of women you'll be able to meet.

But if you try to play hero, and use what'll get here to help Fen? There's no end game to that, only suffering. Fen won't care enough to kill Sayanos, but those under both him and Krix certainly will care enough to hunt you for the rest of your days, and who would protect you? Fen wouldn't be able to budget people well enough to save you forever, So how could this end except with you dead? At the very least, remember where not killing Fen when you had the chance got you.
No. 954885 ID: b1b4f3

Heh, neither character here knows that the army is running an extremely tight ship right now. This mission has zero chance of success because they probably won't even let Moss in.

Tell him you'll obey of course. Then ask him how you're going to escape after Fen is dead. I don't think the army will appreciate you assassinating one of their knights.
No. 954890 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158035264947.png - (28.11KB , 800x800 , 1324.png )

I can't spend more than a few seconds thinking to myself, and I'm just starting to get idea about how to fake my own death, or make up speeches I couldn't hope to replicate convincingly.

"You're a stone noble, right?"
"I'd need a lot of resources to kill Fen. Even when I met him, there wasn't a single point when he wasn't on guard, and now he has an entire squad around him. A cushy job, you said? Guard captain, in town, maybe with a little house?"
>"Here? I'm sure I could pull strings. In Pocktown? You could have your own room in the palace itself."
"And you say you've cleared it with my guard, but have you also cleared it with Lady Apanya? She made an offhand remark about -
>"I have read the records, and I assure you that Lady Apanya does not give the slightest care about what you do, it was merely a kind gesture to get you to be more useful than some lazy guard in a breaktown."

... I don't know if I agree, but that's a thought to keep to myself.

It's not like Fen is the greatest friend I've ever had, certainly not much compared to all the people this noble can threaten, but all the same this assassination business is beyond me.

"I'm a dead man, then. I'll accept because I'm in no station or position to decline. I'll be your sword, but you should know it's a brittle one."
>"Moss." He puts his hand on my shoulder. "Have a little more faith in yourself."
No. 954891 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158035266070.png - (35.61KB , 800x800 , 1325.png )

No. 954892 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158035272030.png - (22.38KB , 800x800 , 1326.png )

He really just kneed my crotch?!

>"Because if you fail, your ex wife will die, your friend Gahn will die, any other friend you've had will die, all until you either doom every dirt trodding peasant you ever speak to until you kill yourself so you don't have to see it all happen, even though you know it will. And you can bet that at some point during that, someone else will succeed in killing Fen, if not you or another agent of mine, then one of my rivals, Lord Krix himself, or just the war he's in. I'll be sending your escort in a couple of days. Don't try anything stupid until then, like your bad tone I've been trying to look past this whole time. Or, really, anything that isn't saying 'understood, my lord'."
No. 954894 ID: 1d7c77

Well, it'll probably be handy for Fen to fake his death at some point anyway, so that's one idea. Think you could contrive to visit the Fence on your way down? I know you don't like her, but Cheese is one of the few people who would and could help you about this.
No. 954895 ID: 86eb65

"Understood my Lord."

All in all that went well. You could have much worse than a knee in the balls and some empty threats to your friends and family. Cause this guy can rant a bit but a Stone noble backed by a nervous warlord is not as scary as crossing a Mythril and getting all your relatives turned into abominations or something.

Only two options really. Side with Fen and help him fuck up your enemies or side with your enemies and probably die faster via backstabbing.
No. 954896 ID: 10c408

Well then, we're going to have wait to dick over Krix until after making damned sure THIS fucker and his syndicate are eliminated.
No. 954897 ID: c2f1f6

Yeah, it's bad, but you could have worse enemies than a guy who's so used to getting what he wants he doesn't recognize a bad idea when he sees it.

Tell Nawm to keep his money, you need him to send some letters for you.
No. 954898 ID: baec18

This, first of all.

Secondly, we need to get the support of some powerful people in short order, preferably before mister nobility here loses his patience in a few months or whatever. The people i can think of who are both scary enough to help and have even a small chance of actually helping:
Lady Apanya, Zizi, Fen's superiors. Zizi I think will probably help for sure, but I have no idea HOW he'd help, or how you'd even get a message to him. The other two are crapshoots, but all our buds and ourselves are facing death here, so might as well feel it out once you get to Erja.
No. 954899 ID: 10c408

It doesn't have to be Nawn, who is literally the first person we've been introduced to in this thread. I'm sure Moss knows far more trustworthy people to send letters.
No. 954900 ID: b1b4f3

Well, say the thing.

Once he's gone, inspect your letters again. Check the seals. Were they tampered with? The mail has some protections, maybe you can use that to get rid of this fucker.
No. 954901 ID: e2f5cc

"Understood, my Lord."

Isn't that last exchange a good summary of your life recently?
Trying in vain to convince people you aren't better than you look, getting kicked in the dick (this time literally) then being told to do something no sane man should think you could do, but since literally everyone you know is on the line, you have no choice but to soldier on until the next thing finally kills you.

So once again, I say you legitimately try and kill Fen with all the heart you can muster, since you know that anything less is death.

Oh, and go see if the other half of your sandwich is still there.
No. 954902 ID: afdebc

"Understood my Lord."

He was absolutely going to make that threat about killing everyone you cared about before you made any decision. This was always a "you don't have a choice" choice, he was always going to offer you both the carrot and a stick (to the balls).

Not really much you can do to save anyone, short of getting Sayanos killed before you fail to kill Fen (because, be honest, you're not that kind of person, and even if you were, Fen could take you in a fight). Which will be tricky, with your only noble killing buddy stuck in an underground tower for the moment.
No. 954903 ID: 1d7c77

Oh, if there was anything you wanted to do that you couldn't because it would catch up with you eventually, you could try doing it before you leave. Best of a bad situation and all that.
No. 954905 ID: 10c408

There are other things methods that that Moss can pursue than doing as this asswipe commands, damn you. This is not the hill that Moss should willingly choose to die on.
No. 954907 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158035608099.png - (24.27KB , 800x800 , 1327.png )

"Understood, my lord." I cough it out and I'm not proud of it.

Hours later...

>"Seriously. What happened?"
"Don't want to talk about it, Nawm."
>"Okay, fine, it's easy enough to assume. You pissed someone off enough to send a mail order knee to the balls, and they had to pay such a steep fee that the mail runner bought some fancy looking robes. I saw 'em on the way out, and that was some prime cloth."

I didn't make it back onto my feet until Nawm found me in that room.

I could try to kill Fen. Maybe he would see me. The hardest part would be to keep a calm exterior without him catching on that something's wrong. It's not like Fen means the world to me. The chances of him killing Krix aren't good. I still don't want to.

I don't just 'despise' Krix. I'd happily give Sayanos a heartfelt kiss sooner than I'd give an unenthused nod towards Krix. As bad as Fen's chances are, they're too good to just throw away. Even if I did kill Fen and got away with it, I don't know if I could live with myself, knowing that I went back to 'relaxing' in break towns because I did as this asshole noble commanded, playing their asshole noble games of setting friends killing friends.

In fact come to think of it, I want to be here. I've been too lazy here! I want to work myself into a good position to help Fen raise hell, and make my shitty time as a guard worth it. At this point I want to do it myself if that's what has to be done, and someone has to do it. Krix has to die. Every day, the prison is reminding me of that. I'm not going to Erja Nokol without a plan, and I'm not going to go back to living in a break town.

But I can't deal with this one by myself. I doubt that ass was right about Lady Apanya, but what of it? I can't just go knocking through the mithril palace, walk up to Lady Apanya and demand clarification about it. Did Fen have other superiors? Erja Nokol army leaders are too busy with the war to deal with turtle politics. All they could do is better protect Fen while he's there.

... Zizi? I have no idea where I'd find him. It'd take me so long that Sayanos would figure I'm running away, and start killing.

I can't trust the mail. The seals on my letters were broken already, I eventually noticed. There's supposed to be protections on the mail, but I can't just go telling on them. I'd have to go through layers of people who would kill me for asking the wrong questions first, before I could get to the people who care about the integrity of the mail.


I could run to the Fence and find Cheese. The fence isn't even that far, I could make it tonight and back here tomorrow morning. Someone in the guards might notice, but if I'm quick enough, maybe not. Overthrowing nobles is practically Cheese's job. At least I could get some advice from her. I might not like her, but I'd marry her before giving Sayanos that kiss.

>"That serious, huh." Nawm snaps me out of my thought. "Go ahead and fall asleep on the counter like usual, I'll carry you back this time, promise."
No. 954908 ID: 86eb65

Cheese is your best bet I think.

Nawm seems decent. Want to loop her in? The whole getting tortured to death deal the noble gave you might motivate her. If they are going to target your friends and family why not run away with them.

Anyways see if Nawm can cover for you when you run to cheese. Slow down the drinking so you can make the run.
No. 954909 ID: e2f5cc

Yeah, gotta agree with this. Trusting Nawm is a risk but this whole plan is a risk, so whats one more?
No. 954911 ID: b1b4f3

Sounds like Cheese is your only hope. Bring the broken seal letters, she might be able to do something with them.
Except... you need to be able to get there without Sayano finding out. Is that possible? Can you use this guy? Or is it too suspicious that he showed up to rub elbows with you the same day Sayano paid a visit?
No. 954912 ID: bb78f2

Nawm, could you cover for me tonight? I need to get out of this place and let loose some steam. This town is getting to me.
No. 954913 ID: afdebc

>I could try to kill Fen.
Even if you succeeded, do you think his army buddies would let you live? As much as Fen is good at making enemies, he also seems oddly good at making loyal friends.

Plus then you'd have to survive the actual war down there, which would be no joke.

That's honestly your best plan if you don't want to just lay back and get sent on the mission. Problem is, of course, Sayanos has the people and resources to watch you, and it won't do much good if you're seen or noticed. You'd need someone you can send to her, or someone to help you cover.
No. 954914 ID: 1d7c77

Easy enough to cover for being absent with your fellow guards, just let them believe you're going to spend the night drowning your sorrows in something harder. Or softer, though I feel like I remember some mention of you having better options than going out into town for that. So long as you turn up in the morning and don't look like you're unable to do your job, probably no-one will care.

I noticed that Sayanos only mentioned people in your letters, which he had on him, suggesting he just looked at them and hasn't actually bothered finding out anything much else about you. He clearly doesn't give a shit about you beyond your potential usefulness. It's possible that in the case that, say, you were able to convincingly fake your death, he wouldn't bother following through on his threats. That's one suggestion. Cheese could help you with that, or with other things like convincingly faking a message from Apanya to knock it off. You need someone who can get some things done, though, either way, and Cheese is the one.
No. 954917 ID: 1d7c77

Things are a bit odd, though. Let's think on it. First of all, Sayonos presented himself as a stone noble, right? Isn't that weird? He should be in favor of gold nobles getting killed, because it opens up promotion possibilities for him - and it's not like nobles getting killed is that weird in the empire, from the impression I've gotten. Second, he came himself. Nobles don't hoof around the place on their own just to deliver ultimatums like this, do they? They'd get someone else to do it. The only reason he wouldn't is because he can't trust any underling to do it, probably because they might be spies for someone else. And if he had to do it himself, something or someone has to be making him do it, because why would he want Fen dead?

My read is, Sayonos is being pressured by his superior to find some avenue to killing Fen, but has had the details left to him. As part of this Sayonos has been intercepting Fen's mail - a big crime, explaining why he has to take care of implementing anything he finds out from it himself - and discovers him sending friendly-sounding messages to you. Great, he thinks, I'll bully this guy into killing Fen.

I don't think he's as deep into this as he pretends to be. He probably doesn't have much in the way of spies around, and he might be relatively easy to convince you're not worth expending a lot of resources on. You might even be able to turn things back on him if you can find some evidence of him tampering with the mail and get it through a shortcut to someone who cares. Again, Cheese could help you, and if you come to her with "hey we might have a chance to get a noble in the blackmail pocket" she'll be more happy than if you just come asking for help.
No. 954918 ID: 1d7c77

So bring Cheese your letters, in case she can find evidence of tampering.
No. 954919 ID: 10c408

Cheese is your best bet, though the trick is getting initial contact with her without anyone under Krix or Sayanos' payroll noticing.

And while I'm sure you can actually make the trek and back again to her, you'll likely be spotted by someone. Your best option is send mail in an irregular manner that no one would be paying attention to.

A merchant heading to the Fence could probably be trusted enough to drop off a letter for her if paid enough.
No. 954920 ID: c2f1f6

If you're going to kill Fen, it won't be because that cocksucker ordered you to. Go to cheese. You'll reduce suspicion by being isolated from whatever she does, that way you can focus entirely on planning your assassination or stalling.

Tell Nawm that won't be necessary, but if anybody asks, you want him to say that he did.
No. 954921 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158035860865.png - (17.35KB , 800x800 , 1328.png )

If I don't run, I send mail, but if they can see me leave town in the dead of night, they can see me send mail. By the time the letters even reach their destination, I may be whisked away to Erja Nokol already.

I'm going to run.

Nawm could cover. She's worked with me awhile. She might not be instantly trustworthy with the biggest secrets I have, but I have no one else here. I wouldn't even need to tell her in the best case, but a run to the fence and back will be cutting it too close, and that's assuming I can find Cheese and tell her everything quick.

"Nawm. I need to go somewhere, tonight. Can you cover for me? I might be late to guard duty, tomorrow."
>"What am I supposed to tell them?"
"... I don't know."

She looks at me strangely.

>"I didn't tell you this, but the fuckin' captain of the guard, upon hearing that a mail runner kicked a guard in the balls before nonchalantly walking off, shrugged and told me to drop and forget about it, because you're a tough guy. Here's the thing, Moss. I don't need or want to hear the details, but you've got to at least warn me if I'm going to be making some enemies by being your accomplice in whatever it is you're doing."
No. 954922 ID: c2f1f6

I don't think they care whether you are or not.
No. 954923 ID: 1d7c77

"I hate to say it, Nawm, but whatever you choose to do now probably isn't going to make a difference there. Aside from the kick to the balls I just got the old "hey nice friends and family you have" bit thrown at me. I don't know if they think you count but if you don't then they don't care about you and if you do then you're going to want me to get to work making this thing go away. I'll promise you nothing I'm going to do involves any of the local problems."
No. 954925 ID: baec18

She'll probably be fine.
In retrospect the only people important or relevant to us the blueblood mentioned were the names contained in the letters he swiped. He might not even actually... know all that much?
Or at the very least underestimates the strange friends Fen has made. The fact that he showed up in person, and did the whole intimidation thing in person, as a *noble* just seems shady to me.

And even if she won't be fine, don't tell her that. She's lookin' nervous. The "i will rat you out if you say the wrong thing" kind of nervous.
No. 954926 ID: 3ce8ff

well unfortunately you have already talked to me and that was all the provocation they required for retribution
No. 954927 ID: 86eb65

"I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it might be to late for a warning. You might have chosen the worst guy to become friends with Nawm. So here is your warning. I might be getting transferred really quick like to the warfront. I need to leave some messages before I go and I can't do that here."

"Certain mailworkers might already have a nasty package waiting for you if I do not play along actually."
No. 954928 ID: 10c408

If there's no one else in the room, you may as well be frank with her.

"Okay. Then if you want to be extra safe you'll have to kill me right now and disappear from existence, because just by talking to you right now I've doomed you."
No. 954929 ID: b1b4f3

Tell her she can just say you passed out from drinking and she carried you to bed, like usual. Tomorrow you're late to guard duty because of the hangover, obviously. It's a good cover story.
As for enemies... well, how about this: you pretend to pass out, she carries you to bed, then you sneak out. She has plausible deniability in that case. Also yeah you may as well warn her she might get in some trouble if what you're about to do goes south, but you won't tell her any more than that.
No. 954930 ID: afdebc

I'm warning you, then. You think I wouldn't be in this state, and in need of a chance to duck out for a day, if something wasn't wrong? Yeah, you help me, there's the chance that gets back to who's making trouble for me.

>"What am I supposed to tell them?"
Tell em... I'm laid up because I'm a pussy who can't take a hit to the balls?
No. 954931 ID: bb78f2

To answer your question fully Nawm, you're going to need details. If you don't want details, then I'll give you the simplest answer I can give you. Covering for me won't be what puts you in the cross hairs. I'm afraid it's already too late to change that.
No. 954938 ID: 7e4313

Hm, is fog back in season? Because if yes, that would enable contacting Cheese via the crows.
No. 954939 ID: 10c408

Also easy cover story for Nawn to use. She can just tell the guard captain you got sloshed at the end of your shift again. Only even moreso this time and she can't for the life of her figure out why.
No. 954946 ID: 1ed92d

Nawm might also be on that noble asshole's payroll, but hey, they do deserve a warning.

Tell them that some asshole told you to SUCCESSFULLY try and murder Fen, and that if you don't do ACTUALLY DO IT, he'll kill everyone you've ever spoken to.

Nod at her in regards to this.

Then say you're fucking off to go meet with a spook so you can become a spook as well and kill that asshole noble. And also Krix, maybe.

If she stabs you, then you weren't getting out of this alive anyway, whereas if she doesn't, at least she got warning before a million assassins came out of the woodwork.

....Also why would your presence in Erja Nokol NOT immediately trigger Fen to raise his guard as high as it can go? You're a random guard, why in heaven's name would you be in Erja Nokol?!
No. 954953 ID: 10c408

Because a certain set of arrogant vengeful assholes just don't care enough to wait for a better opportunity.
No. 954956 ID: f133dc

Not an answer to the question, but Moss should recognize the only result he can live with is killing lord Sayanos.
No. 954958 ID: dbd72b

"There's a decent chance you're already implicated, because we hang out and they've threatened to kill all my friends. I'm gonna talk with someone who knows some shady shit to deal with it, but it's a long shot. Now, do you want details? It probably won't help."
Don't give her more than she wants, but let her know it's bad. And if she has a conceivable way to lie low, to maybe get it ready. But this conspiracy is big enough to fuck with mail, and is fucking with (Moss's) mail, so good luck with that.
No. 954963 ID: ce39da

"You're already on the chopping block if I can't contact 'that person' to put a stop to this. It's one of those 'everyone you even remotely like' kinds of threats."

If she's still on the fence: "... And I'll share my lunch with you for a month for nothing in return, assuming they put me back here afterward."
No. 954967 ID: 1d7c77

Cheese can probably provide you some dash of hard booze you can splash on yourself a little to help sell the "went out to get really smashed and sleep face down in a gutter" story, if that's what you want to go with.
No. 954972 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158041631265.png - (25.70KB , 800x800 , 1329.png )

"... you're already talking to me."
"I've been threatened with anyone I've ever spoken to being killed."
>"Must be a strain on their resources, finding out every correspondence."
"Do you take nothing seriously?"
>"You're not the first person to get snagged up in weird politics, Moss, but unless it was a message from Lord Krix or a mithril noble who came down, they'll have trouble touching me. Even if Lord Krix doesn't directly see us, we're palace workers. People don't fuck with us that easy, not without consequences. I have faith things would've been different if we found you in a dead position instead of a fetal position. You got family out of the palace?"
"And friends."
>"They'll have a tougher time, but you don't need to worry about me. Most of us don't have people outside the palace we care about, because they end up in dumb shit like Alpuna. And now you. Stop caring about people outside, and you'll find you're safe as hell as long as you mind the prisoner hands."
>"Then I'll go ahead and tell them you couldn't handle the nut pain, and sloshed yourself way too hard last night."
"Thanks, Nawm."

She carries me out anyway, just in case there are spies looking at my movements.

"You can drop me here."
>"Oh, wow, you actually didn't fall asleep. That's good because I was about to drop you anyway. Stop eating so much, chicken fatty."
"I'm all muscle, Nawm."
>"Then next time someone kicks you in the balls, just remember to flex their foot right back off your crotch, chicken muscle."
No. 954973 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158041632141.png - (37.52KB , 1200x800 , 1330.png )

I say farewell and get some of my belongings.

There are a handful of tunnels under the palace that nobles from Pocktown should have no idea exist, even if Pocktown is part of Krix's territory now. Normally they creep me the hell out and I think some ancient prisoner is going to leap out and attack me. Right now, I'd welcome it.
No. 954974 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158041641670.png - (59.24KB , 1200x800 , 1331.png )

It doesn't happen, so I take an exit to a small farm building where its inhabitant wisely keeps his eyes pointed elsewhere while I run out.

It feels like I run for several hours, and I have to stop at every fork to relight my torch to read the signs and make sure I'm going in the direction. The wind rustles the crops, and it's hard to tell if bandits are going to poke their head out. I'm not afraid of local bandits, as they're only dangerous if they get the drop on me. So I keep my wits and sword about me so that it doesn't happen.
No. 954975 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158041656078.png - (63.43KB , 1200x800 , 1332.png )

I keep running until I'm pretty sure the Fence is close. I never approach that town if I can help it, so me willingly run at it like this is a good sign of the times.

But before I reach it, I hear someone move through the crops out in the bend in front of me. I keep my sword out, since it looks like I'm bandit hunting after all.

I turn the bend and find Cheese staring back at me. She looks at me like I might not exist, but I must look the same back at her, because I was not expecting her out here.

>"Wow. You actually were out here."
"You sound like you knew."
>"I did."

She points up.

>"It's a nice night for flying, if you get me, and you're on the hot list of people who I get told about if they make any weird movements. I thought I'd come out to meet you, since, uh... once you were in the Fence, how were you gonna find me?"

I didn't even think about that.

>"So what're you doing out here?"
"I was trying to find you."
>"I could take a guess why, but maybe it's better if you just told me."
No. 954977 ID: 86eb65

"I got mail delivered from a stone noble today. He ordered me to go sneak up to Fen and kill him or everyone I knew would get killed. So here I am. I hope you can figure out a plan because I would rather not get stuck with Fen fighting undead while dreaming about the fate of my soon to be dead ex wife."
No. 954978 ID: 437fa8

Paranoia check first. Go poke that giant butt and make sure its Cheese first.

Then tell her your story quietly and quickly. We have a little extra time to spare with her coming out here to meet us. But assume you have unfriendly folks in the crops and need to keep a secret.

No need to hide anything but keep terms vague on the off hand chance other people have birds on the payroll.
No. 954979 ID: 10c408

put your light out, it's making you visible like a star in the middle of the road.

Ask her something only cheese would know, then just stick to the relevant facts.

After that inquire about how safe you are in the middle of the road like this.
No. 954980 ID: 91ee5f

“A Stone Noble calling himself Lord Sayanos of Pocktown, personally delivered a message to me saying he wants me to go kill Fen because I’m supposed to be a friendly face that can get him to let his guard down.”

“I tried telling Sayanos it wouldn’t work but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. When I finally said yes, he fucking shoved his knee into my nuts and threatened to kill anyone I’ve ever spoken to!”

“So, yeah, is there anything you can do to help?”
No. 954981 ID: afdebc

Be careful- you threatened Cheese the last time you were together, and she knew you were coming. She may not be as alone as she appears to be, or may have something prepared in case you were coming for her, rather than coming to her for help.

Well, hopefully. Because if she doesn't have her shit together after the mess she was last time, she's not really gonna be much help, here. Moss did not think kindly of Cheese by the end of thread 3.

Tell Cheese you got noble problems, and she's the only one anywhere near who might be able to do something about it. Lord Sayonos wants to ship you off to Erja Nokol, where you're going to fail at killing Fen either way, at which point you'll be no good helping screw over Krix, and no matter what happens there, Sayonos is gonna end up killing people you care about.
No. 954983 ID: c2f1f6

Lord Sayanos of Pocktown, or a noble claiming to be him, ordered me to kill Fen. He seems to think Fen trusts me enough to get close to him and wouldn't be convinced otherwise. He's threatened to kill anyone I've talked to if I don't go through with it, naming my ex-wife and Gahn in particular, likely because he's been going through my mail and those people sent me letters. I need my friends protected and Sayanos dealt with, else I'll be a useless asset or a dead one.

Sayanos says he doesn't like the message that Fen being allowed to live sends, implied he has co-conspirators and assets including People, spies and money. I dunno how much of that is true, he's got that detachment from reality entitled people sometimes have.
No. 954985 ID: a9af05

Honestly, the best thing you can hope for is that Cheese can help you, you can go back to your job, and you don't have to go to Erja Nokol.
No. 954987 ID: b1b4f3

Tell her some stone noble is trying to get you sent to Fen as an assassin. He's threatening your friends and family to force you to do it. Also he's been opening your mail. You need her help to either get rid of him or otherwise keep him from forcing you to do it, which would probably involve moving your friends and family to a safer location like for instance the palace, and making sure you can't get moved out of your job there.
No. 954988 ID: bb78f2

You know, good thing you went to Cheese after all, if you didn't, she would've warned Fen and it would be over the minute you stepped foot into his eyesight, then your loved ones would have practically been killed by Cheese's own hands without her knowing the extent of what she did.

We know you and us don't like each other, but we both like Fen (maybe Cheese more than us, to be frank, he's been a knight to her and he's really only been an affable citizen to us), but thanks to him, stone nobles of Pocktown have cornered me into assassinating him. Could... could you come up with a plan so a few extra innocent people don't have to die? I would like to live, but like, it's not necessary if you dislike me that much or if it's too hard to spare both me and my friends and family.

It would be really satisfying if this plan involved killing that stone noble in the balls at one point.

Be really great.
No. 954989 ID: 015bf2

Pretty much this.
No. 954990 ID: 75ea94

It's too convenient that she just popped out of nowhere, It could be her but most likely isn't.
Before you tell her anything you got to make sure it's actually her. Then communicate it in written notes, making sure to burn them with your torch after she reads them.
No. 954991 ID: 1d7c77

"Ok, first, you're sure we're alone? Ok. I know you don't have much reason to like me, so let me start by saying we might be able to catch a stone noble out in tampering with the mail, and he's one who's against Fen. Ok? Right, now-" And then explain everything to her.

Turning it around on him with blackmail sounds like a good first plan. Second best plan would be Apanya finding out about it and caring enough to deal with him. That's unlikely so third plan is to maybe somehow fake Apanya telling him to knock it off. Fourth plan is you fake your own death and hopefully he doesn't care enough to follow through on the threat. Fifth plan is helping Fen fake his death so he can surprise Krix better later.

Sixth plan is uuuh you actually dying, maybe, don't mention that one to Cheese but she might think of it herself.
No. 954992 ID: 1d7c77

Oh and for your confirmations that it's actually Cheese ask her something only the two of you would know like what happened to your tent the second to last time you spoke.
No. 954993 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158042784711.png - (84.19KB , 800x800 , 1333.png )

"How safe are we in the middle of the road?"
>"Very safe, trust me. I got someone in the crops. I'd introduce you, but you'd probably gawk and I don't wanna have him deal with gawks, sorry. We're safe with him around, just don't shout your story and you'll be fine. Er, catch your breath if you need first."

I do need to, I can barely see right. In fact I need to make sure it's Cheese.

"It's odd that you came out to see me."
>"Okay let me speak clearer. I got word you were coming, and I realized you didn't have a way to find me when you were in town. So I came to find you, because I don't like to be seen in town."
"Can you tell me something only Cheese would know?"
>"We parted ways with you telling me how much you hate my guts! Oh my gods Moss this isn't the mausoleum, they can't make fake Cheeses."
>"Sorry, sorry. Er um also I don't feel bad about you saying how much you hated me. I don't like me either! But I like you! Er not like - I mean you're decent - look I didn't mean to make the conversation bad, but our last conversation made me even more surprised you came here to see me now. It must be bad."
"You're the only one who can help this. A noble delivered my mail today, telling me to go kill Fen, because I'm a friendly face and apparently that's good enough."
>"Yeahhh... thought so."
"You knew?"
>"Well not knew, but... did you meet a 'Gahn', tonight? Large field kobold, looks like he's from Poluputus, kind of fuschia colored?"
>"Wait really? He was... was in the fence, last morning, talking in a place he shouldn't have been talking. He also got the ol 'do what I say or we kill everyone you know' tactic, but for him, he was going to go to you and make sure you actually went to Erja Nokol without running off. He didn't say way too much past that or who put him up to it, but he said he was going to meet up with you that evening, which would've been several hours ago."
"I got a letter from him, saying he would 'nab me when he's in Graskin next'."
>"... Graskin? Why Graskin?"
"Because that's... er, wait."

Tunna. I work in Tunna, Graskin is where the mithril palace is, and where the gold of that region works, but not Krix.

>"Moss is that alcohol I smell are you drunk?! You work in Tunna!"
"Not drunk enough! I may have wrote to Gahn while drunk, saying I worked in the Graskin palace."
>"Well that's a mistake turned relief! Geez, okay, well he looked like he was actually going to do it. Follow orders, I mean."
"... really."
>"Yeah. I'm sorry, but the guy's got a full on family. He sounded like you wouldn't like it, but that Fen was worth everyone else the two of you were friends with."
No. 954994 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158042786686.png - (80.80KB , 800x800 , 1334.png )

I sit down and put the light out.

"... Can you prove he said all of this?"
>"No, but if you go back to Tunna, Gahn should eventually show up once he figures out you're actually there. Unless he's the fastest giver-upper in the empire."

I may not like Cheese much, but that isn't impossible. Gahn could've legitimately tried to convince me to try killing Fen. If Sayanos tried the same tactic, then Gahn would have to succeed or else see all his loved ones die. If I refused him...

It's fortunate that I missed him.

>"So uh, did the mailman say he was with Lord Krix?"
"No. The mailman was the noble, as it turns out."
"It was a stone noble himself, delivering my mail."
>"Lord Krix was sending out nobles to do messenger work now?"
"Is he? As far as I can tell, 'Lord' Krix has nothing to do with this."
>"Really. Then... whooo sent the message?"
"Sir Sayanos."
>"... Sir who? Hold on, I think I'm remembering. Sayanyyyyy Pocktown. Pocktown?!"
"Yes, Sir Sayanos of Pocktown."
>"Him?! Oh. Oh my god. No no no no."
No. 954995 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158042799126.png - (110.61KB , 800x800 , 1335.png )

Cheese stares at me, then looks away and starts making a noise. Giggling? She's giggling?

"Is something funny?"
>"Sorry, sorry. That's just... that's too good! No way, that's just too good! He's a stupid idiot who's power tripping. I can't believe he's still alive! He's harmless, Moss!"
"He kicked me in the groin."

She breathes in.

>"I'm sorry, sorry! I mean, for a stone noble, he's... destitute. He can order people around, but it's borrowed resources! This is so much better than if it was Lord Krix. You see... you remember Lord Rasyan of Pocktown? Sir Sayanos is his nephew or half brother or something I don't care, no one cares anymore. But Sir Sayanos is just holding onto the title of Pocktown mayor while Lord Krix's council figures out who they actually want to have the title. If you want my guess, Sir Sayanos is being given a chance to prove himself to keep the title."

Cheese looks at me again.

>"He kicked you, as in he showed up in person? That means that either his messenger network is spread so thin that he had to be his own messenger, or he couldn't get even get approval to send his messengers into your work area! He's so weak! I can intentionally go noble poaching for once! Wait no, we can do something. Moss, want to come poach with me?"
"What? Poach?"
>"A soft way of saying cold blooded murder. Let's get breakfast, Moss! There's a good place in the fence you can show your face in without being seen with me, if you catch my drift."
No. 954996 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158042805792.png - (57.49KB , 800x800 , 1336.png )

I stare at Cheese for a moment. Maybe it's the leftover booze in my gut, or the run I just did, but I'm not sure I'm hearing her right.

"My job is expecting me."
>"Your job? Moss, Lord Krix just had some upstart noble kick one of his palace guards! You - I hate to say this, but you could've killed him. It would've been a stink, and you had no idea you could've done it, so you played it smart, but... you could've killed him!"
"When my coworker brought it up with my captain, she was told to forget about it. That doesn't tell me that this noble was out of his league. He's still a noble."
>"I've been watching people around you too, Moss. Your captain is a tool. He just does what he's told by anyone with rank. The warden would've given you a slap on the wrist, your captain would sweat a bit. It would've been bad if Lord Krix got news of it, because then he would've given you a pat on the back! Except that we do want that, if you can stomach the endorsement from Lord Krix himself."

A pat on the back by him does sound bad, but apparently I'm just doing better in life when I do dumb shit like confuse which town I work in and think about killing a noble. I'm starting to think I missed out by not killing Lord Rasyan with Fen. Except...

"You're telling me Lord Krix would approve of me killing a noble that's trying to kill Fen?"

Cheese gives me a look and a slow nod.

>"I"m in a way better position then I was when I was at Lady Apanya's hearing. I've learned a lot about a lot of people. And you know who hates nobles as much as us? Lord Krix. He openly despises every noble he has to work with. He doesn't even want to be a noble, he just wants to go to war. Still trying to figure out why he doesn't throw his title in the trash, but anyone who knows him and wants to get on his good side refers to him as Warlord Krix, not Lord Krix."

There's a chirp in the crops. I don't know what it is, but it's no crow I've ever heard, so it must be that person Cheese talked about.

>"Well, we definitely gotta wait for incoming travellers to pass by before we can talk more freely, that's for sure. Breakfast? I recommend it. I know what I'm saying is weird, but I could use your help, too."
"You sound like you have a lot of help already."
>"Yes but almost all of that help is in the form of crows, mutants, and children."
No. 954998 ID: b1b4f3

Wow. Okay that's a lot of good news. Go get some breakfast with Cheese so you can get to tracking down this fuckhead and wreck his face.
One pressing question is, just how far does your status as palace guard get you? You're at least on par with a stone noble, what about the next rank up? What is that anyway, iron?
No. 955000 ID: 86eb65

"Fuck it you know how this stuff works best. Let's get food and you can tell me all about how I get to kill a noble and impress a warlord."
No. 955001 ID: 75ea94

welp, that's some good news I guess. Time to find a place to safely rest your head before you enjoy a hardy breakfast, and cold-blooded killing of a noble.
No. 955002 ID: b0c69b

Ironically, getting on Krix's good side allows you to do exactly what Sayanos proposes; getting close to someone with intention of stabbing that person in the back. So your options seem to be:

Get sent to a literal warzone full of mutants and zombies to murder a friend and ally


Work with an experienced noble-killer to dispose of someone threatening your friends and (ex)family in way that furthers your own goals, provided you're willing to be thanked by your nemesis.

Just make sure you have a good sentence ready for when you stab that ball-kicking bastard off his high horse.
No. 955003 ID: a9af05

Go get breakfast with Cheese and work out a plan with her for you to get revenge against the asshole that kicked you in the nuts!

>One pressing question is, just how far does your status as palace guard get you? You're at least on par with a stone noble, what about the next rank up? What is that anyway, iron?
Yeah, shouldn't someone have told Moss all of this? We'd better ask now so that Moss will know in the future.
No. 955004 ID: 509e5e

Yeah, let's totally do a murder. 100% on board.
No. 955006 ID: ce39da

If Cheese is that sure about it: "Yeah, sure."

Question for later: "Okay, so I missed the golden opportunity then. Apparently. Can we really get him outside home-turf when the 'crime scene' is cold, without evidence, and just... get away with it?"

Also... huh. I guess Krix wasn't quite as two-faced as we thought.
No. 955008 ID: afdebc

>I got someone in the crops.
Hmm. Cheese has some way not to trigger the giant murder dogs, that's useful.

>but you could've killed him
Considered it, honestly. But I had no idea how good he was, and if I'd succeeded, didn't have good options to run.

>breakfast / noble hunt
What kind of timeframe are we talking? I got someone to cover for me, and i don't really want to hang them out to dry by not coming for too long. Saved a lot of time not having to make it all the way to fence at least...

>>"Yes but almost all of that help is in the form of crows, mutants, and children."
Am I gonna have to give you a hard time about using child soldiers?
No. 955009 ID: 10c408

"Cheese, if you haven't pieced it together yet. I am a decent person and downright AWFUL at all this skulduggery that keeps happening around me."
No. 955011 ID: c2f1f6

Yeah, you could stand to settle your stomach. And not because of the alchohol. And yeah, you're down for some poaching. You owe someone a swift kick in the balls at least.
No. 955016 ID: bb78f2

Oh thank GOD, yes, lets kill a noble.
You know, since we cowarded down yesterday, I regretted not killing him all day today. Like, it would have been the RIGHT answer, I felt it in my bones.

We should just adopt a stupid noble killing policy at this point.
No. 955023 ID: 10c408

I don't think you fully grasp how little opportunity there is to execute the nobility and get off scot free.
No. 955030 ID: a9af05

Don't forget to tell blurt out, "Cheese, you have no idea how happy hearing all of that has made me! I'm so happy, I could just kiss you!"

Moss is slightly buzzed, so I might as well try and see if his tongue will slip and have him say this!
No. 955031 ID: e2f5cc

Moss would have to be drunk enough to pass out for him to say that, though maybe he's just drunk/tired/tired of this shit enough to intentionally say this to fuck with Cheese.
No. 955042 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158043927298.png - (140.81KB , 800x800 , 1337.png )

This still seems a little too good that Krix would actually like me doing that.

"That's a lot of good news, Cheese. I'm almost happy I came to you to hear that."
>"Haha, well, out of all the people who hate me, there's no one else I'd rather work with than you!"

We walk back, and just as Cheese mentioned, a group of travellers crosses us by. They just seem to be farmers out delivering a bundle of tools to someplace that will want them before they wake up. Once they pass, I ask Cheese another question.

"How far exactly does my status as palace guard get me? Because kill a noble, no matter how ill respected he is, was never something I thought was excusable."
>"Hmmm... I'm trying to think of a good way to put it but I can't. Imagine you were Krix's doorway. And doorways could talk. Well, you're property of Krix, so you can't just go barking orders at people and expect anyone to follow the orders of Krix's door, but this is like if Sayanos snuck behind Krix's back and kicked his door in the - kicked it down. If that door then falls over on Sayanos and kills him, no one's going to think that door is a danger to nobles that has to be trashed, it's a doorway that served up justice! It'll be Krix's favorite doorway. Full of fond memories of that time Sayanos got himself killed on it. Here, we're going to move through crops for a second, grab this."

She pulls a necklace out of her robe for me to hang onto. This is what can be used to avoid the dogs.

I hear growls.

>"Don't worry, Moss. They're growling at my buddy, not us. Somewhere around... here we go."

We get to a small door that Cheese unlocks. I look back as she closes it, but I never see this 'buddy' of Cheese's.
No. 955044 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158043932247.png - (119.92KB , 1200x800 , 1338.png )

There's many stairwells out of the tunnel, and Cheese has me wait as she enters one. A few minutes later, she comes out with a bag, then leads me to another. We brush ourselves off and head up, straight into a private booth that smells like a restaurant. That and rotting wood, which... I haven't smelled in what feels like years. I didn't think I'd miss it, but I do.

A waiter comes and we order as though we were plain customers.

>"It's on the house. Order whatever you want, Moss."
"Your treat?"
>"Haha that'd be a nice gesture of me but no, this is out of Sir Gauche's pocket. The local stone noble, but a much better one trust me."
No. 955045 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158043938812.png - (188.52KB , 1200x800 , 1339.png )

I order, and we wait.

"We can talk here?"
>"Eh, not too loudly. But I'm really hungry." She pulls out a book from the bag she got on the way here.

>"Hmmmm... Turtle's Hideaway... Western... Pocktown... Stone... That's him! Seal approved the 29th of spring, right after the Lady Apanya hearings."
"What's today?"
>"84 - wait 85th now. Of Spring, of course."
"Right. How are we going to go about... you know? We can't just burst down his door and go through. Right?"
>"Right. I mean I could arrange to try that if you wanted to but I don't think you do, which is why instead we're gonna take advantage of how he's incredibly manipulatable. Manipulable? Whatever, we can get him out of his home turf. We can give you a rematch - wait a second. How good are you at fighting?"
"... I was confident when I had to guard against local bandits and farmers, but lately I've felt out of my league."
>"Eh, we can sort out how exactly we do the deed later and if you even wanna personally do it, but that doesn't change how we start. Our first order of business, hitting his agents!"
>"Because once he figures out you're not playing along with him, he's going to start attacking your friends, and he's probably gonna find out before we can get him where we want him. We need to give your significant others some guardians. This guy probably won't be subtle and try to go for who you care for most, first. It's apparently not going to be Gahn, so... who?"
"My ex-wife, I think."
>"Any other friends?"
"Nawm, a fellow guard. There's a few more from the breaktown, but I don't care much about them. Come to think of it, I haven't made a whole lot of friends lately."
>"Your guard buddy should be fine, but I'll look into that. It sounds like your ex-wife is gonna be attacked."

I wince at the thought.

>"Don't worry, this guy won't just do something simple like kill her. He'll make sure you know he means business, so it's probably going to be a kidnapping, first. Okay, give me her address." I hand her the envelope, which contains the information. "Nice. I'll send an agent to intercept and identify any would-be kidnappers once I can, and there's a good chance we can use that agent to our own ends. There's a lot of fog in Graskin, so I'll send a crow over right away to at least get some immediate eyes on the target. Questions? Ideas?"
No. 955048 ID: bb78f2

There's a part of me thinking she may have set this up, she's a little too prepared.
Don't blurt that out loud, just mentally prepare the possibility on your mind. It's a little too late for backsies and if this isn't a set up your ex wife is definitely in danger, so ehh, I'll give it a 50-50 split she's manipulated us into a plot to kill a stone noble in her way.

Honestly, maybe we should get Gawm on the way too? He's already in Graskin right about now, so tough to say how he might get himself involved, one way or the other. He might just get a new mission to kill me and/or you if a message can get to him in time.

What relatives does Sayanos have that may retaliate? Who's going to inherit Pocktown after him?

Can I get a ride back to my post?

Frankly, I almost want to play the part like I'm going along with the original plan a bit, do a double play, if that's possible. Sayanos may be more vulnerable and easier for you to get then. You can get me and Gawm arrested preemptively, upon which we can let our plan go full in force. Not to mention we'll be able to partially use his own assets he's sending us against him.
No. 955049 ID: 91ee5f

>this is out of Sir Gauche's pocket. The local stone noble, but a much better one trust me.
“How did you managed to get Sir Gauche to agree to pay for our food? Is that the only benefit he’s is giving you? Why do you think he’s a better Stone Noble?”

“If we pull this off, it means I don’t have to go to Erja Nokol, right?”

Also, you should consider apologizing for what you said to her during your last interaction. After all, she’s helping you despite what you said. Perhaps you could change your opinion of her from “hating her guts” to “she’s an ok person”?
No. 955051 ID: b1b4f3

She's Cheese, she's either done this before or has thought deeply about doing it before and came up with plans on how to do it.

Hmm, ask if she can find out exactly how tough this guy is and how good his gear is, then get a sparring buddy to freshen up on and give Cheese an idea of how tough YOU are. Then you can have a good idea of your chances in a 1v1 fight.

>apologize to Cheese
Nah. She's kinda scummy, even if she's mostly resorted to scummy tactics in the interest of survival.
No. 955052 ID: 1d7c77

You know, it kind of sounds like, if it weren't for the dragoncloth, Krix would actually like Fen. Why does he want the dragoncloth, anyway, if he's not interested in being a noble? It's nice to touch and all, but if he's not into being a noble it seems like he wouldn't be into the old "sacred artifact of the emperor" thing, either. That's weird. Are you really sure about all this, Cheese? Moss is betting his life and a couple of others, here.

Also, are you sure you want this guy dead? If he's that weak, it might be possible to pressure him instead. Blackmail, et cetera. Probably not, or it would involve something really distasteful like blackmailing him and then killing him when he's outlived his usefulness, which I'm pretty sure isn't something you're going to want to associate yourself with, even if you hate the guy.

Also, how you going to play Gahn into this? Do you know the guy after him is the same guy? Are we sure of who the higher-up behind Sayanos is and what their reaction will be?
No. 955053 ID: 10c408

Do not forget to mention the few details of the so-called 'plan' to kill Fen that Sayanos bothered to share. It'd be an excellent bonus if Sayanos's contact is also eliminated/arrested upon making contact with you.

Ask her if she thinks any of Fen's superior officers, particularly the grand knight, have the legal clout necessary to dismantle a conspiracy plot to kill one of their subordinates and arrest/execute all involved parties.
No. 955054 ID: 10c408

If I've got Krix pegged right, his only interest in the dragoncloth is the gargantuan pricetag that comes with it. Armies aren't free, after all.
No. 955055 ID: ddb4c1

This will help Fen as well? You son of a bitch, count me in. You are paying the booz right?
No. 955056 ID: c2f1f6

I might regret asking this, but since he is so easily manipulated, is there any value or possibility in keeping him alive so you can hold his strings instead? Or is he too stupid to be useful?
No. 955058 ID: 3ce8ff

naw Cheese is cool, I would be very sad if Cheese screwed over one of fen's friends
No. 955061 ID: 91ee5f

Does Moss have to fight him? Cheese did say she could just arrange for Sayanos to be killed. Which might be for the best, since even Moss said he felt he was out of his league.

>even if she's mostly resorted to scummy tactics in the interest of Fen’s survival.
Fixed that for you.
No. 955063 ID: b1b4f3

If Moss doesn't get to kill this guy personally, then the door metaphor breaks and instead it's Cheese doing the killing at Moss's behest. I doubt Krix will appreciate that.
Moss should do as much of this on his own as he can.
No. 955066 ID: 3674e7

Could you make or edit a fake letter from fen that complicates his plans bring it up to him so he has to personally come talk to you. For example saying that he has been moved to the front lines or a secure location and won’t be able to leave or communicate with others for a certain amount of time
No. 955068 ID: 10c408

From the looks of things, Sayano has only been a stone noble for 60 days now. He got the position after the big shake up involving Fen's dragoncloth and yet in absolutely no time whatsoever he has already assumed he can go around kicking the non-nobles in the balls and ordering them on suicide missions after greasing a couple of palms.

The best use we can make of him when all is said and done is fertilizer.
No. 955072 ID: 7db7d2

Tell Cheese she should also send someone to help Gahn's family.
No. 955073 ID: 91ee5f

Alright, if you say so.

But I prefer doing it Cheese’s way: cold blooded murder. Don’t bother setting up a 1v1 fight, let’s just kill the asshole and be done with it.
No. 955078 ID: dbd72b

Think about your bout with the noble. Did he catch you off guard? Was he too fast for you? Did you see it in time to stop it, but had to fall back on submission?

It's not the best way to gauge, but anything obvious could stand out.

If you can take him, it'd be best to do it yourself. Krix might get more antsy if his guards are using cat's paws, and he seems the type to respect personal power more anyway.

If the chances aren't good, you can't afford to die doing this. Either get someone else to do it, or get yourself a distinct advantage. Poison, traps, reinforcements, be better armed.

Welcome to the big leagues. There are no rules, and everyone plays for keeps.
No. 955102 ID: 721c60

Speaking of, is Sayanos really a "Sir" (as in, a knight) or did Moss just assume? He introduced himself as Lord Sayanos and doesn't seem to have mentioned knighthood in the conversation.
No. 955108 ID: 10c408

I don't believe you fully understand the current situation. At the initial meeting, Moss could have killed sayanos right then and there but since he was unaware of this, Sayanos got away with his life.

NOW that he's away from Krix's area, Moss lacks the legal protection afforded to him by his position to kill an affronting noble and get away with it.

So it's time for the cloak and dagger approach.
No. 955109 ID: 721c60

Krix's area isn't limited to his city. And since Rasyan's death, it even includes Pocktown itself.
No. 955111 ID: 10c408

...Well, I'm still voting for the cloak and dagger approach. Even if Moss could walk right into pocktown and kick Sayanos in the junk before stabbing him, there'd have to be prep work involved. like talking to Krix and ensuring that Sayanos's guards are out of the picture.

And even if this results in his death we'd still have to eliminate the assassins under his employee.
No. 955112 ID: 721c60

I was under the impression the option proposed by Cheese was "use cloak&dagger to lure him in a vulnerable position, then Moss can confront him 1-on-1 and stab him in the groin and face, and Sayonara lord Sayanos."
No. 955113 ID: 10c408

As Cheese herself put it
"Eh, we can sort out how exactly we do the deed later and if you even wanna personally do it, but that doesn't change how we start. Our first order of business, hitting his agents!"
No. 955117 ID: 721c60

We are in agreement on that.
No. 955261 ID: 15a025

>Who's going to inherit Pocktown after him?
Probably a good question to ask. What do you think the aftermath of all this is going to be like Cheese?
No. 955262 ID: a9af05

>Cheese's method
>No 1v1
I agree. If Moss feels like he's out of his league here, then a 1 on 1 fight might not work out in our favor.
No. 955278 ID: 86eb65

Well a few.

1. Regardless of how this works out I need to get my fighting form back. Help with trainers and workouts would be nice.

2. If I do kill this idiot and Krix suddenly likes me more how can we use that to help our goals?

3. Are we a thing now? Like us and Fen? If he becomes a big shot you are his spymaster and I am his guard captain? Or are we just some friends trying to avoid getting stepped on?

4. Should I try to make more friends in the palace guards? How much leeway do I get?

5. Tell her about the prisoners breakout/bribery/stuff from earlier if she somehow missed it. Find out if you did good or if she has advice for if it happens again.

6. How can you protect your ex long term? A guy laying around watching for thugs all day is not 100%. We might be estranged but I want to protect her.
No. 955297 ID: 015bf2

>Don't care about them.
Wait, you don't care about Gahn? Sounded like he was a decent enough fellow if you spent evenings worth of talking shit together.

You're not very plotty by nature. How do you best 'fall' on this guy, to elaborate on the door metaphor from earlier?

Also, if you fall on him directly, won't that just make Krix aware of what this guy tried to use you for? If you've avoided Krix's attention on your continued relations with Fen thus far, you may want to keep that up. Then again, if some idiot like Sayanos can figure it out, perhaps it's just out there in the open anyway?
No. 955304 ID: 10c408

While Sayanos is the occam's razor choice for whoever has been rifling through Moss's correspondence with Fen, it might not actually be him doing it.
No. 955328 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158075090860.png - (107.96KB , 800x800 , 1340.png )

We get our food.

>"Er, just to be clear, do you care about Gahn? You said you didn't care about others from the breaktown, so - "
"Other than Gahn. I wasn't clear, I thought my care for him as a friend went without saying."
>"Eheh no problem."
"Should I make more friends? In the guard station, I mean."
>"If you don't want to, maybe you shouldn't force yourself. But for like, overall benefit of one's goals? Absolutely."
"Maybe I'll try, then. How'd you manage to get Sir Gauche to pay for this food?"
>"I'm his spymaster, and this is just part of the pay."
"And he's a better stone noble?"
>"I don't think you heard much about what happened here, right? Maybe I'll weave you the tale later, but right now I'll just say that Fen worked closely with him and parted on good terms. Or at least not bad ones."
"Hm." I eat for awhile before continuing. "You seem to be well prepared to deal with the problem I came to you for."
>"Yeah? Moss this guy we're dealing with, he's like... a textbook example of a single-day noble. New noble, gets power right up to his head, suddenly is dumb and think he owns the world, called 'single day nobles' because they die real fast. And I have a long list in my head about ways that has, and can, happen, so it's not like I'm well prepared for your specific target, I'm just well experienced for that kind of target in general."
"Ah. What if I fake accepted his task? That might draw him out, right?"
>"Ohhh. Yeah, if you did accept, that might work out well. Er, if he has reason to show up in person any more, but it sounds like if you just have a disrespectful tone to your acceptance, that'll be enough maybe."
No. 955330 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158075098274.png - (157.43KB , 800x800 , 1341.png )

The rest of the breakfast is silent, so I can think. If I were a manipulative string puller, maybe I'd want to have Sayanos live. But I'm not. He should be killed, or at least in prison.

Cheese spends the rest of breakfast writing letters. Afterwards, she leads me to some tunnels.

"For hating nobles, Lord Krix wanted that dragoncloth."
>"Well, yeah! It's not like a deed to nobility. It's a symbol of status and power, you don't have to be a noble to own one. Uh... well, it helps a lot, but remember Fen was denied it because there was doubt he was strong enough to justify owning it, not because he wasn't a noble."
"Right... say, how do we know Gahn was approached by the same person I was? What if it was someone else?"
>"Oh that's just one of several assumptions and best bets I'm making at this early stage, but believe me I'm sending out feelers to verify all the assumptions like that that I'm making, since I don't want to have badly timed surprises! Uh Moss questions are welcome but you sound kinda suspicious."
"I'm betting my life and all those I care about on your competency."
>"Oh haha good point no pressure right."
"Lots of pressure."
>"Right that's what I meant it was sarcasm!"
"What happens to Pocktown, anyway?"
>"Hm? Oh, remember this guy's just a figurehead, and there's plenty of other people to hold onto the title. Killing him won't change anything."

I might've been hard on Cheese at the end of Apanya's meetings, but she's way too happy to go murdering a noble and I don't feel bad for what I said. At most, I'll thank her for her help here.
No. 955331 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158075100059.png - (104.59KB , 1200x800 , 1342.png )

She guides me into a small, half-built room. There's boxes stacked in one corner, and a fully constructed map behind her desk with a lot of pin marks pushed into it.

There's a child, here. He looks away from me.

>"Three people left messages." he says. "Two of them want to see you."
>"Okay, here, take these, each one to a different crow." Cheese says, slipping her letters into an envelope for each, along with coins into them. She turns to me. "Haha can you believe they remodelled my place but still can't be bothered to give me actual walls? It's okay because it'll be easier to make bigger later if I need to. Anywaysss I'm sending our crow to watch your ex, as well as getting other information. You'll just have to wait here for a bit, you can nap over there if you want some sleep."
"Where do you normally sleep?"
>"There's a nice dirt spot I found nearby but it's mine sorry. This is a good place to hide in for you, very few people know about it! And I won't be meeting anyone in here today and if I do I'll warn you. You get an invite in here because you're Fen's friend! Which must still be true because you didn't work with Sir Sayanos at all. Then again maybe that's because he kicked you...?"
"And because Fen would kill me if I tried to kill him. I'm no assassin. But I still consider Fen a friend, in case that's in doubt."
>"Haha good, well... even aside from that, I still like you. So I'm okay with you being here."
"Who's that kid?"
>"A kid who's going to pretend you never came to see me. And I want to be fair to him, too, so I don't want to introduce him to you, sorry. Kid go tell the first person I'll be with them soon!"
"Speaking of my secret life..." I wait for the kid to leave. "I'm afraid just how open my friendly relationship with Fen is, if Sir Sayanos could figure it out."
>"Yeah, um... I think we'll be able to figure out that as we go along with what we're doing. Hey, what's your ex's name, anyway?"

I sit on the box and wonder about myself fighting Sayanos. Of course I can win easily in my own head, but if in reality I can't handle some shitty stone noble, then so be it. I'll find a sparring partner later and try to see where I stand in general. I don't get enjoyment out of serious martial training, but I may just have to suck it up for awhile.

My head's all over the place with other thoughts, but I put them in the back of my head for later and take Cheese's offer to sleep.
No. 955333 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158075109906.png - (93.01KB , 1200x800 , 1343.png )

It doesn't feel like I get much before I hear Cheese whisper-shouting to a crow.

>"Whattaya mean you can't watch her or Sayanos?!"

I sit up, and I can't see clear yet but I see Cheese looking at a crow sitting on her desk. The crow makes some low chirping noises.

>The no watch list?!" More chirps. "A secret?!" She gasps a little and takes a deep breath, before noticing me. I'm wide awake now. "Um, hi, Moss, apparently Sayanos and your ex is on the no-watch list."
"A no watch list?"
>"People or places the crows won't watch."
"Does that mean he's in good with the crows?"
>"Crow? Is Sayanos part of the crow network?"

The crow just shakes its head now. Cheese freezes.

"So he's off limits, but isn't part of this crow network?"
>"That's right. Which means, um... someone else... or the crows decided on their own..."

She looks at the crow, which doesn't make a move or a peep.

>"I've never had this happen before. Not like this." She says.
No. 955335 ID: 86eb65

Ask the Crow politely if it would explain why your wife of all people would be on a no watch list.

Also ask yourself if she has any friends or family that might be the cause. Or if she hooked up with some noble after you?

Because if the Crows are not watching them they have a good reason. Either they are being watched by someone else the crows do not want to deal with or the situation has become to dangerous for them to continue.
No. 955336 ID: ce39da

"Even before that, it doesn't take a genius spymaster to suspect Sayanos could have just been a middle-man set up to this by someone else. Who is he generally in contact with, among other nobles? We might have to go after them, too - even just finding out who is and isn't on the 'no watch' list should be telling enough. Also, I doubt crows are your only resource for people-watching."
No. 955337 ID: 83bf07

I'm willing to bet this guy's being bankrolled by someone bigger.
No. 955338 ID: 015bf2

Unless Moss’ wife is in some other deep shit there shouldn’t be any reason other than someone wanting to prevent easy surveillance of Moss’ closest loved one. The no-list seems like something the crows have to protect themselves from retribution.

Someone with the power and influence has dropped crow intervention dead. It’s deeply suspicious that a Soldier’s ex-wife and a one-day noble are both on this list, too, so it seems likely to be in relation to Moss, and the reason Moss is targeted is, of course, Fen.

A Mithril, like Lady Apanya or Lord Shup could probably swing it, and both have reasons for moderate interest. Is this sabotage or some kind of test, and we’re being told to resolve it without an easy out of using the crows?

If it’s not a mithril, who else has the capability to hurt the crows so much and the interest in hiding their intervention into Moss’ circumstances? Could Krix, as a local Gold, put that much pressure on the crows? Could the Necromancers be fucking with things from afar to get to Fen’s allies (unlikely, but technically possible)?
No. 955339 ID: 2e1db2

Not sure about Sayanos but could Val be protected by Moss's position?

Like say Warlord Krix decided that Moss might get threatened due to Fen and he was not going to let one of his palace guards get fucked with so he already has someone watching her?

Ask if you wife is in good with the crows.
No. 955340 ID: b1b4f3

Sounds like we need to get the ex to safety rather than keep watch on her. Bring her to the palace and it'll be fine. Same with your friend, or anyone else you believe is in danger.
Speaking of which, is Gahn on the no-watch list?

Hmm. The idea you had about imprisoning Sayanos has merit. Grab him, bring him to your prison, put him in your best empty cell. See if you can get some information out of him in exchange for keeping him safe from the other inmates (which will probably mean keeping him isolated)
Wait, CAN you do that though? Killing him is forgivable apparently but can you imprison him without someone busting him out? Or maybe that'd be productive too. If someone arranges to get him released, then it'd be pretty easy to trace that back to whoever's bankrolling him.
No. 955342 ID: 5656e4

If Val is watched by some other faction, could the crows send a warning of danger to that faction? Along with, if necessary, a bribe request protection?
No. 955343 ID: 015bf2

Also worth pointing out: What are the implications of someone not wanting Sayanos and Val being observed by the crows?

It may be because the crows could spot who they're associating with and what kind of watch they're being kept under!

So, in a way, while they are being limited in what they can do, the crows have already helped out big time, because now you know this isn't just some dead-end noble tossing their weight around. It's someone with crow-intimidating influence supervising or observing a dead-end noble tossing their weight around.

You also know you need to be real careful and have a plan and eyes on the ground if you make a move against poaching Sayanos and securing Val. Same might go for Gahn. You might as well make a no-watch list overview of who's who of Moss' remaining associates that they're willing to watch or not.
No. 955344 ID: 10c408

Before this, I'd have ask who it could possibly have been but now...

Good grief, this is getting complicated.

Ask the crow if it can even answer questions about the no watch list that'd you like to ask.

If the answer is yes, then...

1: are Val and Sayanos on the no watch list for the same reason?
2: is the reason because someone is holding something of importance over the crows collective heads?
3: Is the person in question Lady Apanya?
No. 955348 ID: 1d7c77

Ok, but like... Fen is on the crows' good list, right? Do they know Sayanos is after him? I'd bet they do, even if he's on the no-watch list. So, there must be some pressure on them from another direction. Or something. Well, first, better ask what time it is now, Moss, you need to know how long until you need to get back.

Right, so the crows can't watch him. Can they relay secure messages to people who can? Like, in a way that they conceivably say they had no idea what the messages were? I get the crows are very hand, but Cheese must be smart enough to have diversified her contacts.

... Huh. I kind of wonder if whoever's behind this is actually... sort of on Fen's side? Like, they want to teach him a lesson about trusting friends too much or something? Or they want to further humiliate Krix by sending failed assassins that everyone would assume came from him? We can't forget that Shup has reasons to keep an eye on Fen, too, and both he and Apanya may or may not be interested in grooming Fen into a nicely powerful but subservient noble for themselves. I mean, Fen is Zizi's brother, clearly rising fast, and equally clearly not ambitious beyond meeting his personal goal. Even if he's a long shot bet, the potential payoff - your very own pet Dragon Knight killer! - is a big one.

Making him kill one of his friends doesn't really fit with that well, so it's probably not the case this time, but it's something to keep in mind?
No. 955349 ID: 757475

Is it because he is under someone's service who is in good terms with the crows? What about Moss's ex? Why would she be in the no watch list?
No. 955354 ID: bb78f2

Can you ask the crow for a roundabout way of letting us know what's up, something that's at least helpful?

Like say, ok, if Val and Sayanos are part of the same list, does that imply she would be safe from Sayanos harming her, at least? Do we actually need to watch her at all? Or do we definitely need to keep an eye on her, just without the crow network?

If we kill Sayanos, will the crow network blacklist us?

Can I get on the no-watch list somehow please, if someone ELSE besides you is using the network on me?
No. 955357 ID: a9af05

Try to find a loophole.

If the crows can't watch Sayanos and Val directly, then what about watching them indirectly? Could they watch people that coincidentally happen to be near Sayanos and Val so that we can still know what they're up to?

Otherwise, the only thing i can think of is to get someone to rush in, nab Val, and hide her somewhere.
No. 955364 ID: b3dd3f

Cheese you said everything sayanos has is borrowed. Who from?
No. 955369 ID: c2f1f6

Uh, did we mention that Sayanos was talking like he was working with noble co-conspirators? we did mention that, right?
No. 955376 ID: afdebc

>but she's way too happy to go murdering a noble
In fairness, a not-insignificant number of the empire's nobles seem like people who would do the world better if they got themselves murdered.

>"I've never had this happen before. Not like this." She says.
"Sounds like maybe some bigger, scarier noble is pulling the idiot's stings, then?
That or the new idiot came prepared for crows."

Moss, can you think of any reason Val might be on the crow's list, for reasons other than this mess? Did she ever do a favor for a bird, or something?

Long shot, but "Hey Crow, on the off chance you're refusing to spy on Val out of respect or a favor or something to her, I figure I should say we're only trying to protect her. I fucked up hard, Sayanos promised he'd hurt her if I didn't do something for him, and even if I wanted to, there's no way I can succeed at what he wants, so she's in trouble."
No. 955377 ID: b1b4f3

Well, good thing is, even if there is someone pulling the strings, we can still kill Sayanos and get away with it. It just means it'll piss off someone who doesn't want to act out in the open.
It's possible of course that someone *isn't* pulling the strings, and the Crows are blocked because someone's testing Moss and doesn't want Cheese to help. Like for instance, Krix could know full well what Sayanos is doing, doesn't approve, but wants Moss to handle it mostly on his own.
No. 955380 ID: 10c408

If Krix was aware that of Sayanos's scheme and approved it, Sayanos wouldn't have had to pay off the warden in charge of Moss. Of course if he was aware, why send a noble?

Krix has no shortage of underlings given that he has a literal army at his beck and call, any one of them could have walked up to Moss and screwed Moss over even more than Sayanos could have by making the commands in Krix's name rather than Sayanos' own (which doesn't have as much weight as Moss initially believed)
No. 955382 ID: b1b4f3

I said
>doesn't approve
No. 955394 ID: dbd72b

Simplest assumption is big friends, but we don't know yet. The ex-wife bit is weird. If you know anything strange about her, time to spill, Moss.

At the end of the day, Sayanos himself was still rough and clumsy as fuck. Not a competent string puller. Go with traditional spies, and be extra careful for surprises.

Right out of left field warning: this may be a 4d chess ploy at Cheese, but it's kinda early to assume that. Just move forward cautiously until you can get more on him.
No. 955400 ID: 10c408

Last time something happened that Krix didn't approve of he sacked an entire town!
No. 955401 ID: b1b4f3

So how would he expect Moss to handle it, hmm?
No. 955407 ID: 10c408

Thing is, he did something. He didn't suddenly have all the initiative of a garden gnome statue about something he was aware of or actively hamper his own forces about. Krix doesn't like nobles, from what we've been told. And yet, you argue that Krix is aware of an uppity noble like sayanos assaulting one of krix's guards and then krix doing whatever he can to make the victim's current problem exponentially harder instead of putting sayanos's head on a stick because he decides to forgo motive, means and legal opportunity to knock off a noble?

I don't believe that, it doesn't make any sense whatsoever. There are easier things Krix could do to hamper Moss then to blackmail the crows like this and doing those things would have tipped off Cheese's spy network as well since they all involve locating Moss.

i find it far more likely to believe that Sayanos has someone higher up on the foodchain than Krix helping him with getting Fen assassinated.
No. 955408 ID: b1b4f3

You're still missing my point so how about you just drop it instead of writing paragraphs to try to convince me your point of view is correct? You don't need to be correct, and I don't need to convince you that I'm correct either. People can have different suggestions.
No. 955413 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158086388362.png - (111.36KB , 800x800 , 1344.png )

Val kept to herself, and she didn't seem like she'd want to get with a noble. She doesn't have any family attachments, either. She was lonely, even, and that's why she needed someone around. I truly have no reason to believe she's in any sort of position of power or influence regarding this or anything.

"Are crows the only way you have to watch people?"
>"Oh, no! Even besides putting all the eggs in one basket, I'd be totally blind in any unfoggy areas. Like I said I have agents, just, you know, they have to do things like walk! On the paths! We're still doing that it's just slower."
"Okay. About Sir Sayanos, I already figured there was a good chance he wasn't doing this on his own, and he might be getting pushed to do it by someone else."
>"Oh yeah for sure, I'm still sure this isn't some crap about revenge for killing Rasyan. I thought that it might've just been the council at most! But whoever's behind this is important enough to the crows, but isn't good enough to make Sayanos do this competently."
"Is the no watch list made out of a fear of retribution, or because of someone important."
>"I don't... the only person capable of retribution is Lady Apanya or above. And Lady Apanya and the crows have their own understanding, and crow, there's been no fallout like that, right?" She asks, and the crow chirps, and Cheese nods. "Right."
"Hold on, just to be sure. Crow, is my ex-wife with the crows?"

There's no response.

>Yeah crows only answer people on the good list like me, sorry! Crow, is Moss's ex-wife with the crows?" Chirps. "Nope, she is not. Not on the good or bad list, just the no watch."
"Is she safe, then, if she's on the no-watch list?"
>"No, Moss." says Cheese. "I mean it's safe to assume that she's on the no-watch list for Sir Sayanos's benefit, not hers."
"If it is for her sake, I hope the crows understand we're trying to keep her safe. But I have no reason to believe the crows would give her special treatment."
No. 955414 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158086389832.png - (127.11KB , 800x800 , 1345.png )

"What about Gahn?"
>"Gahn's on the nowatch list. Probably the same reason. Okay okay okay."
"Can't we watch people who are, I don't know, around my exwife? She probably is at least looking at - "
>"No, no, that kind of... indirect thing is very frowned upon and that's a good way to get on the bad list. None of that! Crow.

She asks the crow some questions and she relays what she learns to me. Sayanos, Val, Gahn, as well as a few relatives of Sayanos that Cheese knows about are all on the no watch list. The crow won't say if they're on there for the same reason, but Cheese assumes so.
No. 955416 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158086398265.png - (101.54KB , 800x800 , 1346.png )

>"And finally." Cheese continues, "This crow is assuring me that this isn't done out of fear of retaliation, from Lady Apanya or otherwise. Ugh, need to figure out who's behind this, but that's not easy because it's not like even I know how the crows are run, as a group. Who knows? Some inner council of crows? A secret underground ring of crow nobles? Who knows! Whoever runs things down there sure likes Sir Sayanos! And that's kind of a conflict of interest since Fen's in good with the crows, and Sir Sayanos sure wants him dead!"
"Fen is on the good list?"
>"Yeah, he showed a lot of good will to the crows, and they took a liking to Fen. I mean it's kind of weird that they're no-watching Sir Sayanos when - "

Cheese looks at the crow.

>"Fen is still on the good list, right?"

The crow is silent.
No. 955420 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158086424222.png - (90.32KB , 800x800 , 1347.png )



The crow shakes its head and chirps.

>"What?! Why wasn't I - Why wasn't that the first thing you said? Why haven't 10 crows already flown in here chirping about this?!"

There's some squawking, now.

>"You're saying... Fen isn't on the bad list. He's not on the good list, either. And neither is Sir Sayanos, but Sayanos are on the no-watch list, but Fen is just... a complete neutral party now?!"

The crow nods.

"Were crows even helping Fen in Erja Nokol?"
>"Y-you don't understand, Moss, taking someone off the good list - that's only supposed to happen unless they really mess up! I don't think Fen would do that! He's not on the bad list but that's still a really bad sign! Come on, crow, tell me who can do that?!"

There's no response.

>"Tell me!"
No. 955421 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158086429209.png - (139.85KB , 800x800 , 1348.png )

The crow flies up out of the hatch.

>"... I must still be on the good list so there's that. But... what do I do about the rest?! We need to figure out who. Er, I do. Fen does. I need to figure out for Fen's sake!"
"Some noble, if not Lady Apanya?"
>"It's not a noble!"
"Don't hiss at me, Cheese."
>"... I'm sorry. I mean it, I'm sorry." She takes a deep breath. "I can't even say that for certain, but it's probably not a noble. This is just a conspiracy I wasn't ready for, is all. Oh, hell, I hope it's just a noble."
"I can still kill Sir Sayanos, right? I'll just piss someone off, whos with the crows."
>"Moss as much as I want to see you kick him right back in the dick, I kind of think we should care about who that someone is!"
"Maybe I should, but I don't. I'm already in well over my head, so I may as well piss some more people off if I can't even get to stop Sayanos."
>"Haha, maybe I'm over mine too! Maybe we should just... do something more direct about Sir Sayanos, after all, and I can try to figure out what the fallout's gonna be. I mean they can't be that competent if they're choosing Sir Sayanos of all people to protect. If you keep him alive, maybe we can figure something out from him. I mean the alternative is... " Cheese makes a desperate laugh. "Going straight to the Crow Zone and demanding to see who's in charge!"

This isn't the kind of composure I expect from a spymaster. I can gather why this is a big deal, but I don't know enough to know why she's panicking so hard about it.
No. 955424 ID: 695467

Ask Cheese if there's any factions like the Crows in Erja Nokol, because I remember Fen ran into some Frogs that were acting weird. Could they have relations with the Crows?
No. 955426 ID: c6c0de

Sayanos is dying regardless of Moss' actions. This is somebody tying up loose ends. If Moss doesn't do the killing himself, he'll be framed for it. Under no circumstances should Moss return to his station.
No. 955428 ID: e2f5cc

It's the Dragon Knights. The Dragon Knights are doing this. Who else has the power to strong arm the crows while also hating Fen, A.K.A. Brother to to the only(?) person to have ever killed one of their own and seems to be rapidly approaching similar levels of power to him while also having demonstrated he's willing to do whatever it takes to get what he wants, and his ultimate goals may even to a mystery to them.

There is no winning move here if my assumption is right, so the best thing to do is what Cheese suggested and try to talk to the crows yourself while praying to anything that'll listen things aren't as I think.
No. 955430 ID: 10c408

But you do know she's panicking about it. She can't help either of you if she keeps working herself up into a tizzy about this really ominous string of bad news from the crows.

So try and get her to be calm and breathing. One disaster at a time. Unless you can come up with something else, there's always crying foul about Sayanos to Krix on the chance that he'll take umbrage with the noble and the warden than the guard who got assaulted and ordered to do wasteful shit.

And let's be honest if he takes umbrage with YOU it still might be a far more merciful fate than whatever the army will do to you for trying to stab one of their soldiers in the back.
No. 955431 ID: bb78f2

I already made a mistake once not killing Sayanos on the spot. I'm not letting it happen again.

We're dealing with him direct. Doing the SMART thing lately seems to be the stupidest thing, so clearly the brash route must be right lately. It worked for Fen, why the fuck won't it work for me? I'm not Fen, but goddamn if he didn't set a good example of how fortune goes to the bold.

I can't play these goddamn noble or crow head games, I'm a commoner dammit. It's time for a commoner solution.

I'm going to Graskin and going to protect my goddamn ex-wife, and I'll kill any fool who comes near me. I'll live in the barbarian lands and become one if I have to. Fuck this society.
No. 955432 ID: afdebc

Hey Cheese, remember when Fen ran into a Frog, and took a shot at it, and wrote you about it? (Back in thread 5). You brought up Frog's Pond, and Zall wasn't concerned at all about Fen's report, suggesting the frogs were a known entity to him, and not another sorcerous or necromantic anomaly whipped up by the crazies at the bottom of the tower.

>Fen losing goodwill
Any chance that's just a result of Apanya sending her goons to forcibly retrieve the 3 mithril coins and the dragoncloth Fen had stored in the Crow Zone? Banks generally don't like it when customers bring the feds down on them, and make them look like less of a secure or safe place to store things.

>I can gather why this is a big deal, but I don't know enough to know why she's panicking so hard about it.
Well, what things are scarier than nobles? That list can't be very long. And Cheese is afraid one of those is involved.

>just do it, figure out the fallout later
>This isn't the kind of composure I expect from a spymaster.
Damage control, right? Gotta balance what can be found out with the window to act. I don't have the time to completely unravel a conspiracy, but we also can't be stupid in snuffing out the threat. Gotta do the best we can at both with what we have, right?

If going to the Crows is the fastest way to fix that, that's one thing, but even if we hike over to Crowtown and get past who's on what list quick, that doesn't fix the actual obstacles.
No. 955433 ID: 2202fb

It may make the most sense for Moss to follow through with killing Fen for now since it would at least buy some time till bodies start piling up. Although with how thorough our mystery adversary is, it seems like we are kind of in between a rock and a hard place.
No. 955434 ID: bb78f2

Cheese, if you can, ask to put me on the no-watch list.
If you or the crows need a favor for that kind of pull, and letting me disappear, fine, name it, I'll get it done on the way. Just make it possible for me to do, please.

I just want out.
No. 955436 ID: 86eb65

Maybe Sir idiot is a test?

The mystery people push him out in front and see what happens to him. They have spies all over and whatever happens it lets them get a glimpse of Cheese and Fen's abilities and temperament?

Fen has stirred up a lot of waves lately. The brother of Zizi the dragon slayer wanders out of the woods and promptly befriends Cheese the spymaster and the Crows in a week. And then personally ends up killing several nobles and starts a minor war before he manages to walk out unharmed.

And now he is getting accolades and training from grand army knights. All the big kids on the block are going to be watching now.

So here is my theory. This idiot has a friend who told him "Man people are whispering about how weak you are for letting Fen live." And so he goes off half cocked and starts making a mess. The "Friend" then sits back and watches the show and gets to see how you will respond.
No. 955437 ID: c2f1f6

Breathe dammit, come on cheese, deduce this. You're the one who knows about these corridors of power I've never even heard of, get your head on straight. We've got a plan B; bag Sayanos, now let's work on a plan A.

What if this is some kind of test for me? It's known I'm a friend of Fen's, maybe this is some kind of loyalty trap to see how I act with my back to the wall, or to ferret out you or your non-crow resources or something. I mean, we've established there are much better ways to go about trying to kill someone, this person clearly has the resources to do that.

Who else is even on this good list? What does that even entail?
No. 955440 ID: 015bf2

Cheese is just having one of her preparatory panic attacks, she’ll find her game face again soon enough.

>go to crow boss, ask for answers
Sounds like something Fen’d do.

>wot dis mean
Look. If the crows are neither for nor against Fen that means at some level they’ve decided he’s neither of help nor an obstacle to them, right? On an average, at least. That he was in their good graces but is no longer can be the work of someone who Fen has come to oppose that the crows like more, and them not putting him on the bad list could be a nod to the fact he did them good. And if it’s not some noble, the person who has that kind of sway...

Well, you’re sweating buckets, so you must have some idea of who that could be, don’t you? But you’re not sure. And you’re not off the crow good guy list either, so either they forgot you, they didn’t know about you, they didn’t want to target you as well or they didn’t have the influence to swing unfriending both you and Fen.

Now, we can be sure the two issues are related, can’t we? Fen falling off the good list and my associates coming under no-watch? If so, knowing about my friendship with Fen means they SHOULD know about yours as well, and if they didn’t get you unfriended, just tried to keep you in the dark...

Are associates of yours trying to get me to kill Fen under your nose, Cheese?

Alright, fuck it, Sayanos is just a head of the hydra here and can be dealt with ASAP once whoever protects him is off our backs. I’ll go to the crow zone. Give me some leverage, something I can use to get them to talk. I’ll say I threatened you over it, if it’s an issue. I’m a desperate man up shit creek anyway, and since I’m supposed to hate you it shouldn’t be a stretch.

Huh. I guess whoever schemed this up didn’t think we’d get in touch.
No. 955442 ID: b1b4f3

...wait a minute. I just put 2 and 2 together. Whoever's manipulating Sayanos is either incompetent or has limited resources and has to deal with his shittiness. Fen is proving to be a person of interest in Erja Nokol. Some of the mutants want the necromancers to win. The mutants have very few connections among the nobles, but Sayanos is new and thus could be easy to manipulate. I imagine they also work with the Crows, so maybe the necromancer-friendly mutants are more well liked by the Crows since the Crows don't like the empire? The timing is also good, since Cheese just recently got a visit from a relative.
Unfortunately Moss doesn't know this, but it would explain why Cheese is panicking- she thinks she might have to start acting directly against her extended family.

Anyway, let's see if we can capture Sayanos to find out who he's working for. After that we can decide if we need to kill him or negotiate with his boss.
>walk into the Crow Zone and ask who's in charge
Is there a reason not to do that?
No. 955445 ID: 91ee5f

Ask Cheese if this means that you have to go to Erja Nokol to get killed by Fen now? Because you really don’t want to go to Erja Nokol to get killed by Fen.
No. 955446 ID: 833c22

All i can think of is necromancers. I am not a good spy, not my thing. I am a man of the moment, like Fen and Moss.
No. 955448 ID: 10c408

Sayanos isn't just "protected" by whoever is manipulating the crows, he's got imperial law on his side as well by virtue of his current position. If we are to eliminate Sayanos, we have to change that on top of sorting out this new development with the crows.
No. 955450 ID: ce39da

"I see two plausible theories here:
"1: A dragon knight (or worse/equivalent) is behind this. The amount of resources they have at their disposal means lowly Sayanos getting me to try and kill Fen is just Layer One of their schemes. We don't have time to think about what Layers Two Through Whatever are, but killing Sayanos would at least force them to show more of their hand. If they could afford to wage open war, they wouldn't bother with the pretense, so there's probably a point where they can't pursue this anymore.
"2: An associate of yours is trying to get around you, through me, to kill Fen because he's in the way. They have enough influence to sway the crows in ways no noble could, and get at the odd noble themselves, but that's it. However, I assume you're not comfortable with renouncing these hypothetical guys in this scenario. The solution is obvious; I kill him personally, in a way that looks like I didn't have any large-scale help, and you deny all part in it.
"This approach can work in the first scenario, too. I'll need a 'when' and 'where' if I'm going to do this, though. Meanwhile, to make sure a connection can't be made between us, I think you should figure out how to put me on the No-Watch List - with the 'Anonymous Implementer' clause, of course.
"I mean... So how was that? This is the first time I've done sleuthing and skullduggery like this, but I feel pretty sure. How would you grade that surmising?"
No. 955451 ID: 015bf2

Or, as Cheese pointed out, use imperial law to our advantage, as we work for a Gold and Sayanos is a hopped-up Stone, and the servants of one stepping on the other in the line of duty, especially when the Gold doesn't care for other nobles, is valid enough excuse for the empire for Moss to not be prosecuted.
No. 955452 ID: 10c408

"If we are to eliminate Sayanos, we have to change that on top of sorting out this new development with the crows."

We can't just walk up to and stab Sayanos, we need an excuse. Though I wouldn't be surprised if the excuse is as simple as a letter from Krix saying "You kicked Moss in the balls so I'm letting him kill you"
No. 955457 ID: 30e062

Cheese, gather your relatives and head to the crow zone. You need to get some serious answers and protect Fen.
No. 955459 ID: a2216d

Ok, let's think. How could Fen have done anything to get off the bad list? He's been in Erja ever since the trial, basically, unless he somehow screwed up during basic training and travel which is very unlikely. So, something he did in Erja must have done it. But the only things he's done in Erja is 1) kill people who tried to kill him, which I'd assume the crows wouldn't blame him for and 2) fight the necromancers.

Does that mean the crows are in cahoots with the necromancers? Scary thought, but probably not, since then that would probably dunk him straight into the bad list, and probably get Cheese off the good list, too. So maybe it's more indirect? They're allies of allies of allies (etc) of the necromancers? Or... hm. I'd have said the crows can't blame people for doing things against their interests if that person doesn't know what the crows' interests are, but it's possible that they recognize that and just being taken off the good list was the more lenient option. Hm. What things do you know the crows don't like, Cheese? And what do you know they do like?

Ok, next time you send a letter to Fen, Cheese, try tell him about this crow situation. But apart from that, forget the crows. Sayanos might be on the no-watch list but that crow was pretty clear that Sayanos isn't on their good list either. So let's dial it back to some other plan. Can we get Sayanos to come out himself again somehow? Maybe forge a letter from Apanya or Krix telling him to knock it off? The latter would be risky since a stone noble could conceivably just ask Krix to confirm, but a letter straight from Apanya might be more unbelievable. Maybe Cheese knows what agent of Apanya would send those sorts of messages for her? Or something else. Uncover or fake evidence of him tampering with the mail and blackmail him?
No. 955460 ID: bdd7f8

Hmm. Truth wizards are a thing. We could just send him an anonymous message saying someone is witness to his mail tampering - make it sound like someone who noticed his trip to visit Moss, rather than it coming from Moss himself, if possible - and go "come to [place] and we'll discuss keeping things quiet", then murder him. Like, maybe even make it sound like it comes from a truth wizard who the mystery witness went to? There has to have been incidents of truth wizards using their powers to blackmail people. Question is if they'd bother with a stone noble. Maybe make it sound like they want to invest in his future as a pawn for them? Something like that? It's a risky plan, especially if we can't make a good guess at the circumstances he read the mail. But, the letter could be written in such a way as to be vague, like the writer is avoiding any incriminating evidence themselves and just alluding to it. It might work?
No. 955464 ID: 5e08d5

Hm, have the crows been engaging in diplomatic talks with the frogs? Since the latter are hostile to the mausoleum campaign, downfradinf Fen could be a gesture of good will towards them.

Also, before speculating about dragon knights, aren't we forgetting Shup? Maybe learning about nightmare Lily got him to finally peg Fen as dangerous rival...
No. 955470 ID: 5e08d5

Maybe we should keep track of which objectives are more urgent. I'd say protecting Val is one of them, and by the time we figure out who's pulling the strings it might be too late.
Which means, on her side, we should skip the crows and send an armed kobold to intercept hostiles. Meanwhile we'll figure out this mess.
No. 955484 ID: 10c408

If by dangerous rival you mean "oh snap, he's actually going for the long shot bet, that lunatic barbarian." then yes.
No. 955485 ID: 864e49

While everybody has some theory about the Crows all I know is that they better have a damn good reason cause Fen/Cheese will remember this.

>downfradinf Fen
Weird flex but okay.
No. 955486 ID: b1b4f3

>frogs in erja nokol may be negotiating with Crows
Heyyy, good thinking. The two groups might have a non-aggression pact or something, which means the frogs were angry about a friend of the crows being there. The crows taking him off the good list would be a way of honoring the pact.
Also Fen kindof shot at one of the frogs, so...
No. 955488 ID: 10c408

if it was because of the frogs, then I doubt it's because we almost hit one of them when there's more impressive feats/actions Fen has done that have drastically stymied the necromancers

1: He survived making contact with the ice worm anomaly, and returned with a bit of forest kobold bone
2: this lead to the operation where said anomaly was successfully neutralized
3: during said operation he set one of the necromancer's southern kobold's allies *on fire*
4: and speaking of, the whole fake-lily business? I'm counting that as well.
No. 955490 ID: b1b4f3

Stop that.
No. 955511 ID: dbd72b

Honestly, Sayanos is the weak link, here. Someone needed to talk to him to pressure him into this, or better yet, he made some really big deals trying to get vengeance, and it'll end with him. Either way, he's your best contact. We'll have to see if we can get him to gloat, or force it out of him. Still have to kill him, of course. Nobles get really pissy about that sort of thing, and we have absolutely no way to bribe him.

Fen's downgrade is the biggest issue. Especially since Cheese wasn't jeopardized? Investigating frogs via "are crows in Erja Nokol/what are the crows of Erja Nokol?" line is all we got, so let's try it.
Otherwise, prepare to kick Sayanos's ass. Maybe ask Cheese if she has any contacts that can help win the fight, clean or dirty. We're talking training, but also poison/any other way to fix a fight.
No. 955512 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158092136238.png - (146.66KB , 800x800 , 1349.png )

"If I can't get on the no watch list and wash my hands of this whole business, then I've got to wait on you, because you're the one with hidden corridors of power."
>"Let me... let me think. Because you're definitely not getting on the no watch list in any way I could think of."
"Not even on the good list?"
>"I mean that's more realistic but that doesn't mean a no watch."
"What does the good list mean then?"
>"It means they acknowledge your existence and that you can do business with them. So if Fen lost that... from his perspective it just means he can't ask them for anything, but the crows won't actively hassle him, and will only be watched if someone pays up."
"Apanya took back the money back that Fen banked with the crows, didn't she?"
>"Yeah but they didn't blame him for that, if they did he would've been off the good list then, but Fen was definitely on the good list just a few weeks ago at the latest!"

I sit back, and at least she starts doing something, or at least looks busy as she filters through papers and consults her map with a level of paper records that could only exist in the Turtle, save for wizards casting anti-rot on it all.

I have half a mind to run back to Graskin and protect my ex-wife, but she wouldn't want it. I'll have to rely on Cheese's underhanded methods for now.

Maybe some dragon knight is behind this, and that's why she's panicking and I'm not. I don't fear dragon knights any more than nobles, because they can't harm me any more than most nobles can.
No. 955513 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158092151086.png - (150.08KB , 800x800 , 1350.png )

Then again, Dragon Knights don't have much of a reputation for subterfuge. Maybe that's exactly how they like it, but as far as I know, when they take action, they do so bluntly and forcibly.

Finally, Cheese looks at me.

>"Okay. I've come up with something. You go back to Tunna, and get approached by Gahn, and fake your acceptance of this mission. That'll at least buy time for my foot agents to do some digging."
"I hope you don't expect me to go to Erja Nokol to get killed by Fen."
>"Don't joke Moss you know I don't. The warp is in 5 days so you won't get to Erja Nokol before then. That's long enough for me to get things in place, and mayyybe even send Sir Sayanos over to you alone, and if that happens you can do what you wanna do, if you're not as worried about what'll happen after. I'll definitely send you word before you go warping to Erja Nokol if nothing else!"

I pause.

>"Is something wrong with that?"
"No, but there's a thought nagging me."
No. 955514 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158092152728.png - (122.12KB , 800x800 , 1351.png )

"The crows are a subterfuge network of spies, but for the most part, they don't work with nobles."
>"Er, sometimes..."
"Us guards have always been ordered to report and kill any crows that are seen outside of the crow zone. They're not a skullduggery faction that have ever willingly worked with nobles. The people they work with are people like bandits, spies, dissidents, mutants. Fen was doing well with them. Then, in the recent past, he started fighting a dissident faction in the mutant homeland, and without any apparent reason, the crows suddenly pulled their support for him. Do you see where I'm going with this?"
>"Wha... what happened to the lazy breaktown guard who fell asleep on duty?"

I stare her down.

>"... Yes, Moss, I see where you're going with that, and the literal answer is the Crow Zone. That's where I at least have to go to figure out if the crows have necromantic uprising ties... well, there's a lot of possibilities here, and I hope my extended family has nothing to do with this, but there's a chance, I know. You can come with me if you want. I figured you'd have more reason to go back to your post in Tunna, and if you do I'll do what I can for you right away before leaving. If you come with me to the crows, then I'll tie off any business here and we'll go within the hour."
"Come to think of it, are there crows in Erja Nokol?"
>"No. Only frogs, and they're spread out across the region. The crows have their centralized network out of, obviously, Crow Zone."
No. 955516 ID: 3ce8ff

our excuse for leaving will not last super long (or have we already overstayed it) so we should probably head back if we want to keep that plan open. Or if it is too late for that we go with cheese to the Crow Zone.
No. 955518 ID: bdd7f8

Much as it sounds like an adventure, I don't think Moss would actually have much to contribute to a visit to the Crow Zone. Not enough to justify the risks, anyway. He should go back to his post.
No. 955521 ID: c2f1f6

Has cheese got her own security she can use for personal protection? If so, you'll have to... you will trust her with following through on her own. Unless she needs your sword arm, best you can do is try to keep up appearances in Tunna.
No. 955522 ID: e2f5cc

The only reason I can think of to go with cheese is to prevent her from getting merked by crows/their protectors for asking too many questions, but if they want her dead they can probably just kill you too, so not much to do other than go back and hope you can get off of this with just a slap on the wrist.
No. 955524 ID: 86eb65

As fun as watching you talk to a bunch of Crows would be I should try to keep up my cover story.

With my mail being watched how do I get a hold of you if things change quickly?
No. 955525 ID: 5e7ac9

Wait, what are the odds of Lord Sayonara having Moss run to Erja Nokol at swordpoint, or otherwise not waiting for the warp? Cheese should send a fast letter to Fen just in case.

(Hopefully I didn't neumono it up this time)
No. 955527 ID: 10c408

Don't go to the crow zone, your cover story won't last forever.

Do at least mention that someone has also been breaking into your mail and that you and Cheese need something more trustworthy and tamper proof since even the imperial mail system isn't reliable if anyone puts their mind to it apparently.
No. 955530 ID: ce39da

"Cheese, I brought this up because if the likely turns out to be the truth here, then it's doubly important that I kill Sayanos personally, so hopefully, you can deny all part in it if certain acquaintances start asking around. I only need some time alone with the bastard so I can 'provoke' him into 'provoking' me into killing him. I'll be the one flipping their table here, so you can wash your hands of it and look into the full conspiracy in peace. I need to be getting back in the meantime. I'm putting all my trust in you delivering him."
No. 955531 ID: b1b4f3

Go meet Gahn. It's possible you can get more information out of him, and I can't imagine Cheese needing your help in Crow Zone.
No. 955533 ID: 91ee5f

“Just to make absolutely sure I’m understanding this correctly, if I kill Sir Sayanos, that means I don’t have to go to Erja Nokol, right?”
No. 955542 ID: bb78f2

Fine, I'll go meet Gahn.
In the event I am able to kill Sayanos, what should I say to the closest authorities, Warlord Krix, or hell Gahn once I'm balls deep in Sayanos, probably right in front of him? Should I just let Gahn know he's a nobody noble with no power? If I talk to Krix, should I let him know I talked to you to verify Sayanos's nobody status? I imagine I'll be asked once or twice after he's dead.

Perhaps you have a credible and believable spymaster friend willing to accept responsibility if you want to stay out of the limelight, Cheese? Perhaps one close to Krix? They may be able to gain favor as well with him, which gains you favor indirectly.
No. 955559 ID: 833c22

I am split between going to the crow zone and going back to Tuna. But since Moss can't do both things at the same time, so he should go back while Cheese goes with the crows to find out what happened. Cheese should warn Fen of this mess as well, both about Moss and the crows.
No. 955573 ID: 015bf2

Yeah, head back to Tunna. You want to remain under Krix for now, sucky as that may be.

But before you go:

Stupid long shot thought. Can Gahn kill Sayanos and get away with it? Say, get arrested by Moss and be forgiven his crime by Krix (maybe even get employed alongside Moss), or at least put in jail where Moss can keep an eye on him until Fen goes for Krix. Then it’s just a botched plot on the dissidents’ side, pawns underestimating pawns, which may buy time. Sucks for Gahn, but at least his family’s safer with Sayanos dead and him out of the picture as a pawn.

Will the crows tell their contacts about Moss being with Cheese? If so they’ll know Moss is not willing to be up and up about killing Fen, and may take steps to secure Val, so saving her may be s priority. In the letter she sent, it sounded like she’d gotten in contact with someone who knew where Moss lived. That person is likely a catspaw who manipulated her to send a letter to Moss. It’s no accident both Gahn and Val’s letters were delivered by Sayanos. So, uh, that’s someone to look for. A new friend in Val’s life. Unless she’s already being overtly kept hostage, but it didn’t sound like the opponents have a ton of assets to work with and keeping a hostage is a full-time job. Easier to just have someone keep in touch and keep watch.
No. 955579 ID: 10c408

Pretty sure the only thing awaiting Gahn if he manages to bump off Sayanos is a quick and messy execution either by sayanos' guards, the axeman assigned to his case after he's found guilty of noble slaying or a rather brutal death by the prisoners for not being one of them.
No. 955580 ID: 10c408

Pretty sure the only thing awaiting Gahn if he manages to bump off Sayanos is a quick and messy execution either by sayanos' guards, the axeman assigned to his case after he's found guilty of noble slaying or a rather brutal death by the prisoners for not being one of them.
No. 955603 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158102151047.png - (129.34KB , 800x800 , 1352.png )

"There's more for me to do in Tunna. If I kill Sir Sayanos, I won't need to go to Erja Nokol, right?"

She throws up her hands.

>"I don't think so but who knows anything anymore! Okay, listen, there's a building in Tunna, with a basement, with a little trash bin, and a little chest under that trash bin. If you leave a letter in there, someone checks it twice a day and delivers it to me. Fold the paper exactly three times if you need it delivered fast. Don't use the regular mail anymore."
"Okay. Wait, Cheese, the crows. They know I came to you! Sir Sayanos will know I've come to you for help."
>"And that might've been a problem, but I thought about that already! And that actually doesn't change as much as you might think. Sir Sayanos is still a dumb bag of bricks, and you still have to use your head and avoid doing anything dumb like meeting him on his terms. Just say I was too unreliable to help, and you had no choice but to accept, if he brings me up."

Cheese shows me on a sketch where the building is. She also spends a little time telling me of some secret body codes. Things like scratching the back of my left hand to request help and so on, along with various confirmation motions to confirm that the thing I just did was a secret message and not just because the back of my hand itched.

I learn 'yes', 'no', 'I need help', 'use your judgement', 'all clear', 'meet me later'. I don't know if I'll remember any of it, since I'm in a hurry to get back. Nawm must be in some hot water covering for me this much.

I tell Cheese to try her best to keep Val safe, and try to watch out for any new 'friends' she has. I also consider the thought that I'll be forced to travel on foot to Erja Nokol, but Cheese says I'll be even easier to find if that's the case. Plus, it'll take even longer to get to Erja Nokol than if I took the warp unless I'm really forced to run myself ragged. At least I'd get a break from the dungeon.
No. 955604 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158102156313.png - (46.82KB , 1200x800 , 1353.png )

I travel the same route back.
No. 955605 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158102169790.png - (82.91KB , 800x800 , 1354.png )

And before lunchtime, I'm uniformed up and in the dungeon.

>"There you are!" says Nawm, running up to me. "Where have you been?!"
"... what's going on?"
>"Everything is going on Moss! I can't believe you chose today of all days to be late! I'm gonna need you to give me - "
No. 955606 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158102180046.png - (22.54KB , 800x800 , 1355.png )

She tilts her head back and chokes back a laugh.

>"Three lunches to make up for the captain shruggings his shoulders at me for telling him you were totally incapacitated by drinking your pain away."

I envy Nawm's ability to take nothing seriously.

"Nawm. Really."
>"Haha no nothing happened, I don't even think he said he'd dock your pay. Now hurry up and stand at your post."
No. 955607 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158102182908.png - (40.82KB , 800x800 , 1356.png )

I do, and nothing comes of the rest of the day, so I clean off my feet and go back to the palace to try and get some much needed rest. I'm so out of sorts that I'm almost surprised to see Gahn looking around.

>"Hey, buddy! Canya believe they let a dirtball like me in the palace?!"
No. 955609 ID: b0044f

"You lazy fuck! Is that a messenger pouch I see holding all that fat in? What kind of cushy desk job did you end up with!"

"At least I have palace food as a excuse!"

Go give him a hug and catch up on old times. He might be getting blackmailed but if he is a old friend treat him as such.

As for Nawm when you see her again make sure to let her know she will only get 3 lunches after you get one from her. (got to see how her cooking skills are in case you need a second wife.)
No. 955610 ID: b1b4f3

Be all buddy-buddy with him until you can talk in private. Then you can find out how he's been forced into this, and if there's any way you can KEEP him in the palace so he won't get offed.
You should tell him (just in case he's 100% spy at this point) that you're worried about failing the task.
No. 955611 ID: 465a14

Tell Nawm there are easier ways to ask you on a date next time she demands meals.
No. 955616 ID: bb78f2

Oh shit, Gahn, did you get arrested? Nawm, sound the alarm, I think we have an escaped prisoner here.
No. 955617 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158103174272.png - (19.88KB , 800x800 , 1357.png )

"They let anyone in, as long as you can get arrested."
>"I still got the clothes on my back, so I figure I ain't going there yet!"

We hug. It's the usual greeting, and this time it feels weird. Except for the part where it feels like he's trying to break my back. That feeling is normal.

"Is that a messenger pouch? Did you end up with a cushy desk job or something?"
>"Nah I wish, but I'm a hired escort so I sit my fat ass on wagons all day. Downside is I gotta bathe."
"You don't smell like you do."
>"That's just the natural smell of nature, Moss, somethin' you probly forgot about in your gilded dungeon job!"

Can't even laugh at that one.

>"Alright enough smalltalk let's go get drunk."
No. 955619 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158103181847.png - (27.71KB , 800x800 , 1358.png )

We go sit ourselves at a palace bar, and we've caught up with each other by the time I'm reasonably sloshed for this. We sit in silence for a little while.

>"Look at all these posh pen pushers."
"I was wondering why you were silent, took awhile to come up with that one, huh."
>"Worth the wait, wasn't it?
"Almost got another, there."
>"... shit, I'm a natural. Must be this booze, it's clean and expensive as fuck. Don't worry I can pay for myself. Working for Lord Krix going well for you?"

I waver in his general direction. That's a stupid question and I know he's not asking that cause he's stupid.

>"Ya know, there's a way to get out of it. I might have a job for you that you ain't gonna like, exactly, but do it once and you'll be able to take it easy again. Remember that barbarian, Finn?"
"... Yeah, Gahn, I remember him."
>"How attached to his life are you?"
No. 955621 ID: 465a14

You know Fen enough to understand you're not going to be able to deal with his paranoia and murdering.
No. 955622 ID: 10c408

"As much as certain individuals expected, which is how I am now expected to risk my own skin for fear of what could happen to everyone I know.

Including you."
No. 955623 ID: 229363

"You really want to talk about this out here, buddy?" Try get him somewhere more private. Walls have ears, here. If you can manage that, or even if not, comment next about how you wish he'd gotten here faster so that you could have done this without a noble coming down to abuse your balls personally. There's a possibility he's been hired by someone other than Sayanos - maybe watch for a reaction that would confirm that one way or another?
No. 955624 ID: 833c22

Gods be damn, him too?
Why don't you ask him to help you kill Sayanos so everybody can leave you the fuck alone. Because there is no fucking way you can kill Fen and everybody should know that.
No. 955625 ID: e2f5cc

"Less than I am to yours and everyone else's, but here isn't the best place to discuss this."
No. 955626 ID: 10c408

We knew this already. Cheese and Moss discussed this bit a few update.

but tl;dr Gahn here got the same crap deal but unlike Moss he bungled keeping quiet about it, which is how Cheese found out.
No. 955628 ID: bb78f2

What I'm attached to is my own damn life, Gahn. You going for that Maw Bounty? It ain't worth it, it's that high for a reason. If it ain't him that'll kill us, it'll be the assassin army that does.

Brother Zizi killed a Dragon Knight, you know. Apples fall closer together than they do from the tree, you know. Think YOU can take on a Dragon Knight yourself, Gahn? If you can't, double think that thought for a moment. I've SEEN one in action, in Fen's trial. I didn't actually get to see anything, because the nobles heads flopped to the ground in an instant. That means Zizi moves as fast as that, which means Fen has to potential to react that fast as well. I'll tell you what, we go for that bounty, we'll just be heads floppin' on the ground.
No. 955629 ID: c2f1f6

I know the score, Gahn. Should we go somewhere we can speak more openly?

...Look, some noble already put me on the case after he kneed me in the crotch and threatened both you and my ex-wife when I didn't accept the job enthusiastically enough. The problem is I can't do it. It's not that I'm unwilling, I'm unable. I don't even think I could get him before the entire fuckin' army gets me in a rush. And then the point is moot, I've failed and Sayano goes through with his threats.

Now there's two options. One, I try, fail, you make it count. Hide somewhere far from the influence of this conspiracy. Two, tell me who came to threaten you and we try to do something about this.
No. 955633 ID: 86eb65

"Pretty attached when I think about what his brother will do to me if I was to ever consider it."

"Also the local mythril has granted him her protection. And he has a few abomination friends. Not to mention how Fen himself is dangerous as can be."

"Why you ask?"
No. 955634 ID: 015bf2

Give Gahn a weird smile, half friendly, half... something.

"Couldn't keep it to shit-talking any longer, eh? Well, in my opinion..."

Sigh and take a swig of your drink. Tell him what you think - that it doesn't matter.

"...you cottoned on to that Fen was the Kingslayer's brother, right? It doesn't matter how nice I feel about him or not. Success or fail, we're probably dead men walking. Just when I'd started getting used to the soul hell of the dungeons, too. And getting called Chicken Muscle, which I'm considering changing my name officially to, on account of..."

Pause, look annoyed with yourself. Be honest with Gahn, somewhat.

"You're a good friend and if push comes to shove I'd rather not be the death of your line - or Val, for that matter. But I've asked a friend of a friend on how to avoid this political drama shit and so far I have it on good authority Sayanos is a fucking paper tiger. For a stone he barely has the influence of a wood. Had to kick me in the nuts just to get me to say sir. Oh, no, wait, he did that for fun. He's a great new boss, to go with my other, greater new boss."

Take a swig and shrug.

"Anyway, turns out I could've shanked him for getting in the way of my line of duty and the Warlord wouldn't even have batted an eye. Palace guard privilege goes pretty far against trash nobles, turns out. Wish I'd known. Now I have to contrive an excuse to put him in a position where that can happen again. Any ideas? Or did your recruiter say you were working for, oh, I don't know, the necromancers of Erja Nokol? That'd just about make my day complete."

Lay your head down on the counter, sideways. Gauge his reaction. Try not to fall asleep. Fail.
No. 955635 ID: 015bf2

Actually, trying to find a private spot before unloading this might be wise. Gahn himself might pass it on, but you're not revealing anything other than that you have a doubt and that you've been in touch with someone who has political understanding, which could be people in the palace.
No. 955638 ID: b1b4f3

A fair amount, enough to consider killing him, but Sayano's assassination contract seems pretty impossible to pull off and survive. Yeah, Sayano got impatient and showed up in person. You're currently trying to come up with a plan for getting out of this alive. Speaking of which does Gahn know he dies if you fail? He might want to stay in the palace for a while.
No. 955640 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158104256433.png - (22.16KB , 800x800 , 1359.png )

"Less than I am to others, and about as much as people apparently expect. This really the place to discuss it?"
>"Why the hell not?"
"Palace walls come with ears."
>"Well they can listen to those tonedeaf assholes over there sing their songs."

I didn't even notice, but those 'posh pen pushers' did break out in a loud folk song about something or other. They're so off with their timing that I can't even make out which song it is.

"So you're going after that Maw bounty?"
>"Well, uh... yeah, I guess I am! Thing is, I got a noble's backing, so it won't just be us charging in like some random assassins. We got a pretty fantastic set of resources."
"You know Fen's dangerous. He's a paranoid guy. Might've had a chance to surprise him when I first met him, but past that... naw."
>"Don't give up so easy. Hell, you don't even need to be the one to do it if you don't wanna, just pull him to some bar where we can fill it with our own guys, so even if he's fully armored up with his squad, we'll outnumber him 10 to 1."
"You know he's Zizi's brother, right? Maybe he isn't Zizi, but he could be. You weren't there for the hearing, right? I saw a Dragon Knight fight. Well, not fight. More of an execution, but it was supposed to be a fight."
>"The difference between us and the dragon king is that we're not gonna stand on top of a tower yelling 'come fight us, Zizi!'. We're gonna disappear and lie low, and Zizi can go seek revenge on the noble that's making me do this. Look at you, buddy. You're getting ran ragged by this job, you look like hell."
"Maybe you shoulda shown up sooner so that noble wouldn't come down here personally to kick me in my balls."
>"Huh? Sir Sayanos saw you already?"
"That's the guy. He came to you personally, too?"
>"Yeah. Har, I shoulda known he'd see you. Well I woulda come sooner, Moss, but your dumbass lied to me about where you were stationed. Why'd ya say Graskin?"
"Musta wrote to you while in a drunken stupor."

He laughs, then sighs out a breath, and takes a long moment to continue.
No. 955641 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158104257405.png - (23.89KB , 800x800 , 1360.png )

>"If he came to you, then... you know why I need to convince you to this with me."
"I know, Gahn."
>"So why th'hell'm I still doing it, hell you should be convincing me to do it just as much!"
"Why would I want to convince you?"
>"'Cause... wait a second. I was told I had to convince you to go help me kill Fen, or suffer the consequences. What'd he tell you?"
"Just to kill Fen."
>"Shit, I had to convince you on top of the killin'."
"Should just kill the damn noble, Gahn."
>"Awgh, fuck, Moss, if you're gonna say shit like that out loud, maybe we should just get a room. You don't think he's got some measures in place? Some kinda orders to his soldiers saying that if we go kill him, go slaughter everyone we ever had relations with?"
"I talked with a friend of a friend. That stone's a figurehead. He's hardly got the power of wood. I should've killed him when I had the chance."
>"Aw, shit, you fuckin' dumbass, you... you'd kill everyone we know. I hope you're not serious. Why'd I let you get drunk?"
"Because I had a feeling you'd bring up killing Fen."
>"Fuck's sake, Moss..."
No. 955643 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158104264215.png - (19.58KB , 800x800 , 1361.png )

>"You know I don't wanna kill the savage. He's a dangerous, paranoid fucker who's shit at conversation, but he's alright. And I know he's probably gonna stab us if we try to stab him, and goddamn if we wouldn't deserve it for trying, but we've gotta try. Even a figurehead noble can back up his threats. Or I dunno, maybe you don't have anyone special in your life anymore, but I... I know what I'm asking you to do Moss, but I got a family. Wife, brothers, hell even my mother's still kicking. My fuckin' kids, too goddamn good and honest for their own good, 'cause they sure have no fuckin idea how to run away and hide from wrathful stones. Please. Please, help me."

... Until now, I forgot that I was supposed to fake accepting this. Not that I want to.
No. 955646 ID: 86eb65

"I know man I know. Its just the booze talking. We don't have any choice do we? Guess I am in."

(Where we supposed to just accept or make it look hard? Regardless go along with it and don't let him know you have Cheese doing stuff. Less people that know the better.)
No. 955647 ID: 86eb65

Oh but do make sure to get a note off to Cheese as soon as you can to make sure she gets his family watched.
No. 955648 ID: b1b4f3

What chance is there this guy is lying? Any chance in hell? I don't think he's lying.
Tell him you got this under control. You very recently found out that if you HAD killed Sayanos when he came here, it would've been fine. Your status as palace guard is enough for Krix to push that under the rug, and nobody actually cares about Sayanos; they'll just replace him with someone more well behaved.
Right now, all he needs to do is to say he accomplished his mission. We've got four days to figure out either a way to get Sayanos off your backs or an ambush good enough to kill Fen. Now does he want to go talk in private? We need to know exactly how he was approached and what was said in that meeting. Also, does he have any friends with resources?
No. 955651 ID: 015bf2

...Alright, calm down buddy. ‘Lord’ Sayanos is a fuckhead and I’m venting, not throwing everyone’s lives to the dogs. What I really wanted was to make real clear that a) this will likely not end well so I hope you said lots if nice things to your fam before you left and b) give you the headsup Sayanos isn’t the bigshot he made himself out to be, with all that implies. Whatever resources are gonna be scrounged are probably gonna be slapdash, borrowed or random. Those ten to one odds waiting in ambush? Probably gonna be just mid-range fighters or sentimental idiots like the pair of us, with one or two surprise inclusions at best.

Fill in Gahn about Fen’s vague reports from Erja Nokol. Might help put him back at ease that you’re actively ‘helping’. Point out that the bar plan Gahn suggested is... definitely a no go. Since it already sounds like it happened, apparently. With undead. And they failed.
No. 955653 ID: 094652

Tell him Sayanos screwed up a long time ago. The only reason the higher nobles haven't killed him is because the only thing his death would do is help the commoners, and they don't do anything solely to help the commoners.

Why does Krix need Fen dead, anyway? For a bundle of dragoncloth Fen has dedicated himself to paying every copper piece for? The kind of self-imbued debt that lasts ten lifetimes of constant warfare?
No. 955655 ID: c2f1f6

Alright, look, this guy doesn't have the resources he says he has. If he did, he wouldn't be visiting the likes of the two of us in person. That means he doesn't- and by extension, we don't- have the resources to make this anything but a suicide mission. Don't go on it. I'll go along with it, you go to your family and make it count. Unless you hear elsewise, when I leave for Erja Nokol, you leave for somewhere far away from his influence. Do me a favor, make sure my ex-wife is safe too. Don't just throw your life away after mine.
No. 955656 ID: c0ac66

"Gahn... look, I know we don't have a choice but to play along. You don't need to rub it in. I just wanted to complain about it, and maybe stretch my brain trying to think of some way out. I mean, come on, if half what I hear from Erja's true, they won't even let us near the place, and our best shot will be to get killed trying anyway and then hope Sayanos doesn't feel bothered enough following through on his threat to a couple of dead guys. If he has to hike out to kick a guy in the balls himself he probably doesn't have resources to waste on that kind of thing. So, there's plan... Z, because while I'll do it I hope to hell we can come up with something better. But I gotta know you'll be with me on the lookout for something better, just on the insane long-odds chance there might be something. That you're not just going to let some... hopped-up punk who's had a rock tossed at him scare you into doing anything he says without using your brain. I had a mithril put me here, Gahn. We could be pissing off a noble no matter what we do. We have to keep our eyes open if we want to know which one, how mad we're making them and how big they are. There's stuff going on around this we're not seeing yet, I'm sure of it."
No. 955657 ID: bb78f2

Yeah, listen, we're gonna go, but I didn't want to surprise you too much about what we're actually undertaking, and to inform you of how much of a shit noble that bastard really is. Our odds of success are insanely low, so our loved ones are right fucked already if the threat is real, sorry to say. Now I know we gotta try for now, but keep lookin' for a real way out of this mess we're in.

Stupid Noble's game we're playing is all. Doubt they even really want Fen dead, they just want a damn distraction in the zombie swamp, I swear. Thing is that stone noble's came up with this stupid plan to get it done, so they had to go and involve us. I doubt we'll even have the resources the noble said we'd get, since he can't afford a damn messenger himself. Dude's a fucking stooge doing his own damn work. I bet you we see his ass again, wielding a fucking toy sword and says he's our only backup we're getting. Then he'll say "Leave it to me, I got this, I'll kill Fen myself," then get his own ass killed by the Red Maw in front of us.
No. 955662 ID: c0ac66

You know, this whole "get a guy's friends to betray him" seems like a tactic the empire wouldn't approve of. Like, regular assassination, sure, just superior strength or skill or strategy or something, but this dirty backstabbing blackmail stuff seems like it'd be at least a social embarrassment for nobles to indulge in. Maybe not, but it could be something Sayanos would want to keep quiet. Maybe another reason he did things himself? Ask Gahn if he dealt with Sayanos personally too, and if he had anything with him.

Aside that... tt just occurred to me, the argument of Zizi looking for revenge - escape is plausible for common folk, but nobles are public figures. They'd have to either give up their position or just accept being visible targets if they wanted to escape that sort of thing. I know Zizi has this sort of "it's Fen's life he can die if he does it doing what he really wants" thing, but would that extend to things like "Fen can't even make friends because of asshole nobles"? That's just a dick move, and seems like something Zizi would disapprove of. Either way, Sayanos doesn't know Zizi's attitudes. A "hey don't threaten my brother's friends just to get a cheap shot on him, or else" threat quote "from Zizi" unquote might persuade him to call this stuff off. Fen probably wouldn't choose to lean on his brother's name that way, but, well, Fen's not the one making the decision, right?

Cheese would be the one to pull that sort of thing off, though. Maybe you can leave her a message with that suggestion. You'll probably end up with a few things to say to her, Moss.
No. 955667 ID: c82ba6

Tell him you two are going to fake acceptance while your contact outmaneuvers Sayanos. Start making visible preparations to leave for Erja Nokol and head to Graskin for the warp.
No. 955668 ID: 10c408

Um. First of all I can count the number of nobles that we know are friendly to Fen on one hand. (Lily and Gauche) None of them are in a position to deal with Sayanos. I can do the same for the numbers we know that are in a position to effectively end Sayanos and his scheme with quick orders but only of them is even available and may not actually care about it whatsoever. (Krix and Apanya)

Secondly... The shroomleaf barbarians don't have a mail system. And threatening Sayanos with telling Zizi is a laughable idea and still doesn't stop Sayanos' agents (which is most of the problem) or whoever is backing him.
No. 955672 ID: 1ed92d

Accept, begrudgingly.

"Alright, we can go try. Miracle of miracles, we might actually kill him. Then all we need to do is escape Erja Nokol and everyone in there who might want to kill us, without a guide, during the lockdown."

Be quite sour about it, but go along with it for the time being.
No. 955676 ID: 3674e7

What’s stopping this noble from having already killed all your loved ones then removing all access to finding out before the mission starts to remove all lose ends. If he has done this all he needs to do is have an assassin waiting instead of your loved ones when you finish then he can kill you and no one is the wiser about his plot.
No. 955681 ID: 10c408

I'm sorry but

what? Sayanos is just a jumpstart stone noble (only one rank above the lowest) who's only had the title for 60 days and hasn't realized that trying to punch things above his weight class will only ensure that he comes down with a serious case of the shivs.

And so far, the only thing major character trait is his ego and not general insanity. If not for whoever is backing him and mucking things up with the crows, he wouldn't even be part of this major problem for Cheese who has far more personal power, agents and experience than he does.
No. 955682 ID: 91ee5f

>The shroomleaf barbarians don't have a mail system.
Yes they do. How else do you think Fen and Zizi have been sending letters to each other?
No. 955684 ID: dbd72b

Cheese is putting eyes on all your friends, Moss, so offer it to Gahn, too. Dunno if he can fight, or if he's clever enough, but he's your friend. Those are gonna get real precious in the work you'll have to do pretty soon.
Sayanos is irrational, and very prone to anger if that kick and those threats are anything to go by. The family's as good as dead if you try and fail to kill Fen, for spite if nothing else.
So it's Cheese's agents and Killing Sayanos, or killing Fen. Which is harder to kill, a war hero who's survived real assassination attempts? or the spare of the man he killed, who can't even afford to have a message delivered? Keep in mind that Sayanos can be lured out, while Fen will almost certainly have an army around him, who will protect him out of duty if nothing else.
Let Gahn know you have loved ones to lose, too. And it'll be hard to pull this off. But you've got a professional string puller who's dragged down bigger prey before, and you're the palace guard of a much bigger noble, who has no respect for guys like Sayanos.
You've got this. He just has to trust you.
No. 955694 ID: e2f5cc

"...Yeah. Not exactly how I wanted to spend my Sunday either. But we don't really have have much of a choice in the matter, so lets just focus on what we have to do and who we're protecting by doing it."

Say nothing about your ulterior motives/knowledge to Gahn. While he seems like a stand up guy, he also seems to be as good a liar as Fen is a talker.
No. 955695 ID: 833c22

We are going to have to play along for now, the first chance we get to kill Sayanos, we yank him and get the hell out of dodge.
No. 955698 ID: ce39da

"I know it's pretty hopeless, but you gotta understand, it's not just Fen. That barbarian has dangerous friends, too. I heard there was a moratorium on his bounty backed up by none other than Sir Zall himself, and also... fuck, can you imagine Cheese on the warpath, if she actually got serious? We also speculated that allies to the Necromancers we're fighting down there are the ones behind this; that launches our mission into high treason territory, and that's when Dragon Knights get involved... I can't help but wonder if our loved ones have a worse chance of surviving this if we do go through with it, especially if our own boss wants to tie up loose ends after we're too dead to care... But yeah, I see where you're coming from. I... I'll agree to do it, for now, and we can try to figure something out along the way. Let's try to talk about something else now."
No. 955699 ID: a9af05

We already told him that we wanted to kill Sayanos, let's make sure that we don't tell him anything else.

Don't mention anything about Cheese or her friends that're supposed to be helping you.

If he believes his family's saftey is being threatened, he will not hesitate to tell Sayanos and his men what you and Cheese are planning!
No. 955705 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158110598542.png - (28.12KB , 800x800 , 1362.png )

I wish the big sap was lying, but he's not. He does have a family and he does care for them.

"Let's get a room."

There's an inn attached to the palace, and by the time I grab us a room, Gahn's recollected his composure.

"Gahn, I might've been more easily convinced more if Sayanos said all we had to do was try, but succeed? We'd have better luck hunting and killing him and every soldier he had."

He starts to protest, but I cut him off.

"I've kept contact with Fen. I have his letters. He hasn't kept me up to date on specifics, but the guy's probably got more resources than Sayanos. His squadmate runs a tavern that he only leaves to go train with a grand knight!"
>"The hell's a grand knight?! I don't keep up with military ranks!"
"Campaign leader! The only way I'm agreeing to this idiot mission is faking it to buy us time."
>"Time to do what?!"
"Move our families, get people to protect them, and all that. I'm not going to let Sayanos kill our friends and family, because as it happens, I do somehow still have people I care about.."
>"Oh, well consider me relieved then! I didn't know that all this time, Sir Sayanos needed your permission!"
No. 955706 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158110599174.png - (16.59KB , 800x800 , 1363.png )

Gahn flops down on the bed.

>"You're serious aren't you." He mumbles into the pillow.
"I am."

Gahn remains silent. I think he's fallen asleep.

>"Fine." He proves me wrong. "We'll fake it. If you can promise me you're not just blowing hot air outta desperation. How're you gonna protect my family?"
"I've got help."
>"What help?"
"The kind of help I don't want your loud mouth to know about."
>"... whatever. I don't gotta choice. I'll tell Sir Sayanos you accepted. Now lemme sleep this off and pretend tomorrow's gonna be better."
No. 955707 ID: 86eb65

Give him a pat on the back and then we need to get Cheese a very carefully worded update letter so that if it does get found no one can get much info off it.

Anything else Cheese wanted us to do? Cause if we got it all done you need to go train. Only personal power will see you thru this if things go wrong.
No. 955708 ID: e71e16

Ask him if he blabbed about the operation to anyone.
No. 955709 ID: e2f5cc

Well, not much to do now other than follow Gahn's lead, unless you have to go back and do your job, since going to the drop off point now would just be suspicious.

Tomorrow though you'll probably be forgotten enough again to disappear for a little bit. Also, don't forget to tease Nawm about basically asking you out (and maybe take her up on it?) so you have something to look forward to.
No. 955711 ID: 83bf07

Let's get some rest. We might want to try to aim to be awake before him.
No. 955714 ID: c2f1f6

I'll find a way Gahn. I'll never ask you to trust me again, just this one time.

Two more things I can think of; one- write to your wife. Something brief like "I don't know what to tell you. You know about the threats of this job, I'm doing my best to manage it. no sign off, -Moss"

Two- Try to contact lord Krix or one of his subordinates directly. Go over your captain or warden's head or whatever, because you're Moss the upstanding guard, not Moss the plant with friends in low places. If this is some kind of test, you want to act predictably, and Cheese said getting into Krix's good graces would be beneficial.
No. 955715 ID: afdebc

I'm not gonna hang you out to dry. You know that right, Gahn? This whole thing sucks, but we're gonna do what we can to get the people we care about through this.
No. 955717 ID: 10c408

He did. It's how Cheese found out about this whole thing. And then told Moss when they talked, who has just actually called him a loudmouth about it!

If he loses his nerve and starts babbling again then we've got an even bigger problem.

Moss isn't married at the moment, he has an ex-wife that he hasn't talked to in forever for reasons we're not aware of.

As for what to do... Reassure Gahn that as palace guard to warlord krix, an individual holding a gold noble title, you have more political power than a stone noble who's only had the the title for a mere two months.

if he presses you on details, just sandbag him.
No. 955722 ID: e71e16

Gahn blabbed to Cheese, but he doesn't know Cheese told Moss. I think Moss could pile on a little more defeatism with a "You blabbed to Cheese of all people? As in 'obvious crush on Fen' Cheese?"
No. 955724 ID: b1b4f3

Yes, this. Because:
1, it's best to feign ignorance about information we got from Cheese
2, we need to know who he was talking to that got his mouth flapping.
No. 955727 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158111724451.png - (14.02KB , 800x800 , 1364.png )

"I'm not going to leave you to Sayanos' plans either, Gahn. You know that? I may not be a noble, but I've got some clout under Lord Krix."

He makes some muffled grunt through the pillow.

"Did you blabber to people about this anyway?"
>"Feck off."

I won't push him farther, so I'm left to my own thoughts. I'm starting to think I should've kept up on my martial skills. Figured I'd get killed for slacking off one day, but I thought I was done with getting others killed for my lack of skill.

I should've wrote a letter to my ex wife to send to her through Cheese. I don't have a reliable way now that my mail's apparently getting tampered with. There are lots of things I should've done, and I'm trying to think of what I should be doing right now, but my head...
No. 955728 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158111725635.png - (19.29KB , 1000x800 , 1365.png )

Damn it I fell asleep. It's already daybreak, but only just so, so I'm not late for work.

... is that a dagger next to me?

"Gahn - "

He's gone.
No. 955729 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158111726581.png - (29.06KB , 1000x800 , 1366.png )

I look around some to figure out what happened, but all I can tell is that Gahn is gone and a dagger was put by my head. I'm not figuring anything out, so I pocket the knife, check out of the inn, leave a good tip, and go to work.

Nawm, true to her word, gives me some food.

>"Made it myself."
"This is... overcooked."
>"Should've just had me pay for a cook like I said I would! And like I did for myself, so you can have this failure of a sandwich."
"Cooking's not hard, Nawm! How did you overcook the bread but undercook the meat? Is this even safe to eat?"
>"You can teach me how to do it someday if you care so bad."
"As long as you don't tell everyone else I'm 'good' at cooking."
>"Yeah, you'd be made to cook for everyone."

She lets me eat.

"You can just ask me on a date if you want, Nawm."
>"Well I'm not asking, am I? Besides, you got a date already. That 'mail man' is back to see you again."
>"Yeah. Same room as before. Do your best not to get your nuts kicked in, this time."
No. 955730 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158111733775.png - (23.79KB , 800x800 , 1367.png )

I stuff the sandwich in my mouth and go meet him. Sure enough, Sir Sayanos is waiting.

>"I've been told you've accepted. Good. However, your lack of self confidence and not knowing exactly what resources you have at your disposal is a concern. Since I wish to know what is planned anyway, and because of the importance of what we are doing, it was advised I come personally to visit you. Somehow, I doubt your concerns have vanished, so shut the door and we will begin talk."

He's alone.

Cheese has hardly had a day since I came to her for help. This seems too fast.
No. 955731 ID: 465a14

Okay, I don't want to figure out however many layers of intrigue are going on here. Just kill him and keep stabbing until we make a new problem that eclipses whatever was going on before. Should make things simpler to keep track of.
No. 955736 ID: 3ce8ff

Cheese works fast. Even if this WASN'T Cheese I'm not sure you are likely to get a better opportunity. You do still have that dagger right?
No. 955738 ID: afdebc

Is Ghan prone to dramatic gestures? Could he be sending you some kind of message? ...does the knife look like one Ghan had on him, or could have had on him, or is it too nice for that?

>How did you overcook the bread but undercook the meat?
Either she started frying / toasting the bread before making the sandwich, or the meat started out frozen. And she didn't thaw it before throwing it in the sandwich and cooking the whole thing. Assuming lowly guards probably don't get nice iceboxes or magic devices for keeping food cool, probably the former.

Honestly she's probably happy to give it to you bad if that encourages you to make better stuff for the two of you, or to show her how to make good stuff.

...did someone leave you the dagger for this?

Maybe try to feel this out, string him along. Ask questions to stall for time while we try to figure out if this is a trap or if you can kill him, or just to maneuver into a better position to get the jump on him / get him to let his guard down.

"Didn't realize I merited so much of a noble's attention. All right, so what resources are you offering?"
No. 955739 ID: b1b4f3

I think Gahn may have had orders to kill you if you didn't accept... but he didn't go through with it. If that was a threat by Sayanos it would've been easier to understand, I think.

Shut the door, begin talk. Find out as much as you can while feigning cooperation, then press him for more details past that point. Like who told him to come here personally, and who else he's working with. Draw sword and disarm him once he stops cooperating- wait a minute he's not even ARMED this time?! Maybe you can just beat the shit out of him, but keeping a sword to his throat might be best. DO kick him in the nuts as soon as you get the chance. Make sure he knows nobody do anything to you if he dies by your hand, and that whoever put him here wants that to happen.
No. 955741 ID: 10c408

Shut the door behind you without turning your back to him. If he asks why you are so twitchy remind him he attacked you for your inadvertent disrespect.

Try and see if you can spot anything in his left hand he's obscuring intentionally by moving elsewhere in the room and keeping your gaze low to the ground towards his feet so you can look between his legs as well.

If he's got nothing on him, let him talk but if you see anything metallic then he's going to kill you the first chance he gets with the blade he's probably hiding.
No. 955742 ID: 833c22

Let him talk, lets make him tell us all taht we should need to know. Then we decide if we can kill him or not. Should have check the rest of the building to see if he came with company.
No. 955744 ID: 1ed92d

Try to get him to look somewhere else, then knife him.

Sure, it might be a trap, but fuck it. Killing this idiot might reveal the actual threat.
No. 955745 ID: bb78f2

It's... its been advised?
Bullshit, you're working for somebody, necromancers or whatever, and they just want a distraction. I know what you are, noble. You're a trash stooge with no clout. The real threat is the man behind you, and you pointed ME to him, you're my inconvenience.

What kind of noble delivers his own messages? You're pathetic.

Goad that motherfucker into a fight first, make him go for that kick again, or something, and chop his leg off. Don't let him think.
No. 955747 ID: c0ac66

Might as well try to lull him, and get some information out of him for a moment before you kill him. Knowing what resources he has to put at your disposal would give you clues as to what he's got backing him. And "It was advised", huh? Make a show of checking for eavesdroppers as you close the door.

Ok, I assume you've been paying attention to the Erja situation, so you know they've quarantined the place, right? Only established, experienced army members get in, and they can't leave without being expressly permitted by their commanders. Ask him if he has pull to get Fen that permission from someone. Also ask what kind of guys he's sending with you, find out if they're skilled enough for you to train with a bit along the way there since you're rusty, and if the conversation turns to the idea of sneaking in, ask him to draw you a general layout of the place in the dust on that ledge or something, see what he knows. That could also get his back turned, conveniently.
No. 955751 ID: c0ac66

... You know, it'd sure be convenient if he "accidentally" got too close to the prisoners somehow.
No. 955752 ID: e2f5cc

Moss, man, you were oh so conveniently gifted a nice, concealable murder weapon when waking up and are also mysteriously deprived of the only ally it would be reasonable to bring, one shown to be not at all cut out for this and loving his family above all else, including you, that you told to just kill the guy threatening his family.

And now, Sayanos just happens to to take a personal interest in your success, yet also not care about the fact you're looking right at him, topping it all off by asking you to close the door, something you'd presumably have to turn your back to him to perform.

The jig's up, and you gotta get the hell outta dodge, preferably when you're "closing the door". As much as I'd love to kill him, this both goes much deeper than him and it's been established in the bar that Sayanos has allies here, and I don't think it much of a stretch to say he likes safety in numbers. The good thing is though is when you get to your fellow guards saying that Krix will reward the killing of those who disrespect his guards should be enough to turn things in your favor, and then cover enough for the day, but after that you'll need to run again from his aforementioned allies, as evidenced by the dagger you woke up next to. Maybe see if Nawm feels like doing something dumb and come with you, with the promise you'll make her lunches for as long as she wants.
No. 955754 ID: 86eb65

He is going to stab you if you turn your back to close the door.

Just kill him now. You have a fresh mystery knife to throw on the body (wait would that implicate your friend?) and your hand on your sword. Just do it now and let this be done with.
No. 955755 ID: c2f1f6

Close the door as he said, don't turn your back while you do it.

You can stab him whenever, just let him talk first. What does he mean 'been advised'?
No. 955756 ID: 30e062

Divest this gentleman of his ability to bother you or the people you know.
No. 955757 ID: 91ee5f

>Cheese has hardly had a day since I came to her for help. This seems too fast.
Let’s be honest, you don’t know Cheese all that well. For all you know, she could’ve gotten this done yesterday, but the lack of crows pushed it back to today.

Just close the door without turning your back to him. Then kill him after you kick him in the nuts.

Also, he’s always been described as a mailman. If anyone asks, you can just pass it off as that, you killed the messenger for bringing you some news you didn’t like.
No. 955758 ID: e7848c

Say goodbye to your peace.
No. 955759 ID: 75ea94

Fuckit well worry about the repercussions later, but first, let's get some payback for your sack!
Close the door and start talking with him, when you get close enough, Kick him in his coin purse, then proceed by furiously stabbing him tell there are more holes in him than a block of swiss cheese.
No. 955760 ID: c2f1f6

Actually wait up before you do anything, ask why he sent Gahn at all if you already agreed to go through with it.
No. 955764 ID: 015bf2

Pity the fool, but pump him for information before you stab his ghoulies. Don't turn your back to him.

"Arright, Lord. As you know, I've got a several concerns. Red Maw is in a quarantine zone last I heard, and he's surrounded by military allies. He's paranoid enough to watch out for himself, and just asking to meet him somewhere private for a chat probably isn't gonna cut it unless it's done at very favorable terms for him. I suppose we could try poison, but there's wizards around who might cure that.

Not to mention, Erja Nokol's not your home turf and I don't recall Lord Rasyan being big there either. What kind of assets can you even pull out there?"

Could Sayanos be being set up for a stabbin' by whoever's manipulating him? He's being *way* too accessible for you.

If he does attack you, confront him with the fact (or idea) this is a setup and that he's been played. See if you can pump him for information still. But obviously, defend yourself with everything you've got and if he gives you the excuse and the opportunity, shank him dead.

Hm. Actually, if he's a shit fighter you can shank him so he's so wounded you can interrogate him.
No. 955765 ID: 5a2e34

Prepare for the possibility Gahn snitched and now this guy is about to try and kill you, but don't tip your hand until you are absolutely sure.
No. 955767 ID: 91ee5f

As fun as that would be, we’re not in the correct section of the building to do that.
No. 955768 ID: ce39da

After you get any other lingering questions out of the way:
"Remind me what the plan was supposed to be?" Motion for him to stand up like you're about to give a demonstration. "I walk up to him like 'ey, you can trust me,' and..." Kick him in the nuts, then stick him in the back with the knife while grabbing his snout shut with your other hand to keep him from yelling. (If you can free up the knife hand after that, wrap it around in a bear hug so he can't move to grab a weapon off himself.) "Stick him in the back like this? Shit, it's no wonder you thought that would work; you were using yourself as reference."
No. 955792 ID: e71e16

If he actually tries to stab you and you successfully counter him, just before he expires, ask him if he really thought he could kill the guy whom he thought could kill Fen.
No. 955814 ID: dbd72b

Don't think it was Cheese, but looks like you have an opportunity. Shut door, insult a bit so he actually tries to punish you again, insert knife.

Whatever happens, it needs to actually be self defense, or close enough to it (truth wizards). He needs you too much, so he won't really hurt you until he sees you go for it. He doesn't need to hit, but he needs to be swinging. Getting wounded during this would actually help your case, but try not to, for obvious reasons.
No. 955843 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158122926949.png - (27.12KB , 800x800 , 1368.png )

I can feel the dagger where I placed it under my robe. If it was left for me... first of all, the grip is for people with Gahn sized fists, I have a guard sword which I have on me, and whoever left it for me didn't need to stab the bed about it.

No, the only idea I can think of is that Gahn thought, or was told, that he could get out of this if he killed me. If that's right, the poor sap didn't tell me about it, but couldn't go through with it either. He sure as hell must of thought of it if he stabbed the bed.

I sure sleep like a damn log, but I don't need to be dense while awake, so I keep facing Sayanos as I shut the door.

"You were advised?"
>"Hm? Yes, advised by my advisors, we nobles have those. You look nervous. If this is about how our last meeting ended, it need not end that way again. Just mind your tone, and your eyes."

Great, I forgot to lose the eye contact, but that gives me the perfect excuse to look down now. He doesn't have his walking stick or whatever that was with him. He has nothing in his hands I can see, but his robes are loose enough to conceal daggers. His crotch is especially obscured by his robe. For all I know he thinks I'm going to return the favor and prepared himself with a codpiece, and I'd just knee a solid chunk of iron. Hell, for all I know that codpiece would have a spike pointed where a blow would come from.

... I just got the mental image of myself kicking my own foot through a spike, falling over from it, and having him beat the hell out of me for it.

If this is what having paranoid thoughts is like, no wonder that poor barbarian savage never smiled.
No. 955844 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158122934178.png - (20.56KB , 800x800 , 1369.png )

I talk to him, first. I look at layers of intrigue hardly any better than Gahn does, but it may not hurt to see if he doesn't explain any more. He doesn't seem to give specifics.

"How many men, how much money?"
>"Over 200 men, 10 of which are highly skilled. More than 400 silver is doable, but by that point, I'd highly suspect how such funds would be used."
"And you know Erja Nokol is under quarantine?"
>"That quarantine has been called into question of late. There are ways around it. Sir Zall's rule is not uncontested."
"Contested enough, Sayanos." The words are unintentionally spat to him. He noticed that.
No. 955845 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158122936224.png - (21.37KB , 800x800 , 1370.png )

... He noticed the lack of 'Sir', I think. That or how I spat the words out.

Stay calm.

He puts my hand on my shoulder.

>"You don't learn, do you?"
No. 955846 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158122938837.png - (19.85KB , 800x800 , 1371.png )

No. 955847 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158122940643.png - (36.32KB , 800x800 , 1372.png )


He's loud! Should've just stabbed him instead of letting him get close in the first place, but the idiot didn't even look down before putting his knee through the knife!
No. 955848 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158122944023.png - (32.50KB , 800x800 , 1373.png )

I grab his ear to make the following cut through his throat sufficiently deep. This isn't how I thought it was going to happen, but it's happening.

Stay calm.
No. 955850 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158122949402.png - (32.84KB , 1000x800 , 1374.png )

The ramifications of what I've are going to happen, and the worst is that I die in a trap right now. And then everyone I care about dies later. At least I'll see them again in some sense, but right now I'd better look at them face on. No use in a panic now!

Stay calm.

I hear footsteps running over here. The ramifications must already be starting.

>"What's going on in - " The captain himself comes running in. "What... Moss, what've you done?!"
"Bastard attacked me."
>"... You killed - because - No. Drop your weapons and walk yourself into a cell. Now!"
No. 955851 ID: afdebc

Do what the Captain says. You're not Fen, you're not equipped to fight your way out of an entire fortress the hard way. Only way you have to hopefully survive is to hope that Cheese is right, and play within the rules.
No. 955852 ID: b1b4f3

Well I mean he also threatened to kill my friends and family and every casual acquaintance I ever had if I didn't go on a suicide mission.
But yeah sure, you're the boss.
Just pick an empty cell. No need to hand yourself over to the prisoners. Remember, they will find out the truth of the matter.

>200 men, 10 highly skilled
Hmm that might have actually worked, if they were let into the camp at all. They wouldn't have been let in, of course. "hardly uncontested" is one thing, sneaking 200 people past him is another.
No. 955853 ID: 0fb3be

Yeahh, do what he says.
No. 955854 ID: 86eb65

Wipe your dagger and put it away. Don't drop your weapons. You have more power here than you think. Just be polite and reasonable and defend yourself if you have to. After all it would be better to die on your own terms than get near those prisoners.

"I will hand myself in to Nawm and be in the guardhouse. Let me know when Lord Krix wants to see me."

Then go "surrender" to Nawm.
No. 955855 ID: 789ce3

Don't disarm yourself and don't get near cells with prisoners.

Just tell him you will go report to Krix personally to explain.
No. 955856 ID: 10c408

"No. I will go and face Warlord krix's judgement for my actions and no one else's. Especially yours."

If this statement is enough to provoke him into drawing his blade, get yours out as well and defend yourself WITHOUT killing him.
No. 955857 ID: 10c408

Goodness sake no. Sayanos had to bribe this schmuck to get around Krix's chain of command since Krix is Moss's boss's boss. And the penultimate authority of the region above Sayanos and below lady apanya.

The prisoners WILL rip Moss asunder in a heartbeat and dispose of the evidence for the warden here.
No. 955858 ID: bb78f2

He's nobody Captain, we can't have shits like this coming into Warlord Krix's palace and starting shit.

This kind of subterfuge is uncalled for in these lands, and this man was trash.
No. 955859 ID: 91ee5f

Remember what Cheese told you: As a palace guard, you’re allowed to kill Sayanos.

Your captain is a tool that just does what he's told by anyone with rank. The warden will give you a slap on the wrist, your captain will sweat a bit. If Lord Krix gets news of this, he’ll give you a pat on the back! And you do want that, if you can stomach the endorsement from Lord Krix himself.

And if you want to get on his good side, refer to him as Warlord Krix.

>Well I mean he also threatened to kill my friends and family and every casual acquaintance I ever had if I didn't go on a suicide mission.
I think saying, “Including you.” to the captain would let him know that he was also being threatened.

I doubt that would make a difference, but I’d like to say that to him.
No. 955863 ID: b1b4f3

I'd suggest not calling Krix Warlord Krix until Moss finds out from someone other than Cheese that it's a good idea.
He could actively try to find out how to get on Lord Krix's good side, though. After this, he kindof has a reason to!
No. 955864 ID: 015bf2

Stay cool as fucking ice. It’s no accident the captain was so close. You might be able to use that.

Sir. Can you explain to me why the mayor of Pocktown would make the mistaken presumption that he could come in here and start ordering around, then attacking, palace personell he clearly has no authority over?

Because it seems to me that is somewhat out of line. And that there should ideally exist an explanation that does not involve you accepting any incentives to let him do so.

I’d suggest you share this reason with me, so I can inform anyone who asks precisely why Pocktown is in the market for a new, less dumbass noble, seeing as their current one just tragically walked himself into a knife.

Unless you’d like the credit for setting him up to do so. In which case, well done, sir.
No. 955865 ID: 91ee5f

I’d like to run this by everyone to see if it would be good to say.

“Who would Lord Krix look at favorably in this situation? You, the guy that took a bribe and let this trash in the palace? Or me, the guy that took out the trash before he could make a bigger mess?”

What do you guys think?

You’re probably right. Let’s just stick to calling him Lord Krix.

I’m not sure. That might work.
No. 955868 ID: e71e16

Moss may have had ample time to find that out before Cheese mentioned it, though.
No. 955872 ID: b1b4f3

If we're complaining about all the shitty things he did, let's not forget how he was reading your mail.
No. 955873 ID: 10c408

If we say that to him he's going to try and kill us, then shove the corpse against the bars and let the prisoners dispose of the body.

Our best play here is to either somehow escape and take refuge with cheese long enough to get to Krix OR if escape is off the table entirely be as loud and defensive as possibly so that Moss's crimes take him directly to Krix and away from this stooge.
No. 955878 ID: e71e16

>If we say that to him he's going to try and kill us, then shove the corpse against the bars and let the prisoners dispose of the body.
How about we veil the threat a bit more then? "He's nobody, or he wouldn't have needed to bribe you to poach me from his liege. Or maybe he didn't bribe you because he actually never came down here?"
No. 955880 ID: 567477

Confidence is your key, here. Krix is the one in charge here, you're one of his guys, and a stone noble coming in out of nowhere paying no respect is not in his rights. The Empire respects chain of command, and chain of command means you do not bypass someone to give orders to their men directly. The proper way would have been for Sayanos to humbly petition Krix to request your services. Not doing that is an insult to Krix, which you graciously let him off of once because he was new.

That's your story. And to go along with that, you need to be obedient to Krix's authorities. Ok?
No. 955885 ID: 10c408

Okay. Telling him the corpse we're standing over, while also still holding the bloody murder weapon (literally dripping, even!), is not going to fly unless the warden gets hammered during his shifts without anyone knowing.

Secondly, he got here extremely quickly and has been bribed once before, if not twice. Threatening him is not going to work since he's already clearly stated that even the highly abuse-able imperial law doesn't mean shit to him and we should go park ourselves in a cell since he's both judge and jury all of a sudden.
No. 955886 ID: 864e49

"okay but you're gonna have to get someone to cover my shift. Here hold this."
Then casually toss the knife to him and either walk into an empty single room cell without closing the door or if you think you can get away with it tell him you'll go turn yourself into Lord Krix personally.
No. 955895 ID: 1ed92d

Drop your weapons and make sure to step on Sayanos's neck as you leave. Don't want someone bringing him back from the brink of death.
No. 955897 ID: a9af05

"Last time I checked, we're supposed to be palace guards that only take orders from Lord Krix, not this guy's personal errands boys. He was trying to order me around and wouldn't tell me if the orders came from Lord Krix, so I refused to do what he said."
No. 955898 ID: c2f1f6

Promise me you'll get someone higher up the hierarchy on this immediately. I have to explain my actions.

Drop the knife and hope Cheese better have been right.
No. 955902 ID: afdebc

>Don't call Krix a Warlord
It's not an affectation, Warlord is literally his title. There's nothing wrong with using it, and everyone who works for him would know his title.

Lord or Lady are the most common title we've seen, but we've also seen several Sirs (Gauche, Tawns, and of course Zall), and Krix as the only Warlord so far. Title doesn't seem to correspond to mithril/gold/stone/wood rank, as those run the gamut. We've also seen the rare case of a wizard stone noble (Hunstine) who didn't seem to bother with a title at all (and it doesn't seem to just be a rule that wizards don't use titles, since Cassa is a Lady).

Tl;dr we don't know the full context or significance of the titles the northern kobold peerage use.
No. 955906 ID: e71e16

>Tl;dr we don't know the full context or significance of the titles the northern kobold peerage use.
+1, and Moss probably knows more than us.
No. 955910 ID: 465a14

We've been explicitly told that Krix prefers Warlord to Lord, so on that front Moss knows as much as we do.
No. 955925 ID: 60d648

“Like hell i will, if you want to be the one to tell lord krix that you’re just letting any old dumbass do what they want to his guards then be my guest but i’m not going to deal with this kind of bullshit on top of my job.”
No. 956031 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158148070242.png - (27.03KB , 800x800 , 1375.png )

"He's nobody. Why would Pocktown's mayor think he could come in here, order us around, and attack us?"
>"Because I told him he could do as he wanted, down here. I don't know why he attacked you, and I don't care."
"Bring Warlord Krix to me, then."

The captain walks deeper into the room and starts pulling his blade out, leaving just enough room so that I would be walking out in while in his sword's range. He stops just as the tip of the sword rests at the opening of his scabbard.

>"Either get in a cell and make your case to the warden, or fight us and make your case to the prisoners."

If he was forcing me to join the public prisoner cells, then I'd fight tooth and nail just to die by the sword as soon as thinking I could make it out. But since he's giving me the choice of cell, he's not sentencing me to death. At least not immediately. He also said the warden, so it isn't a decision the captain will make on his own.
No. 956033 ID: e2f5cc

Seems like the sensible thing to do right now is head to a cell, preferably one in sprinting distance to other guards in case someone tries to gak you, but also far away enough from the prisoners that you can at least tune out them yelling about the things they'll supposedly do to your mother.
No. 956034 ID: 86eb65

Fair point. You are not strong enough to even consider fighting your way out of here. Getting locked up alone was inevitable.

As long as you get a cell away from the rabble its the best we can hope for.

"Just making sure you were not sending me to them first. The Warden is preferable."

Then disarm and get into the best cell you know of. And make sure to wave a bloody paw at Nawm and Gahn if you see them.
No. 956038 ID: 015bf2

Sir, with all due respect, we would not be in this situation if you were not so careless as to let some nobody noble wander unsupervised into the dungeons under false pretense and give him the mistaken impression that the guards are his to use and abuse.

And if he did have that authority, I question why I wasn’t informed. Just as much as I question why you were hanging about nearby, as if you’d escorted them down here and was conveniently waiting out of earshot so you could say you weren’t involved.

Don’t pretend these are favors done lightly. If you didn’t want the pain in the neck you should have reacted way earlier and taken any number of reasonable steps; denied Sayanos entrance, given him escorts, given me exact orders.

Instead you were either a coward or complicit to this mess. Am I wrong?

(Be ready to defend yourself.)
No. 956044 ID: b1b4f3

Go in the cell and stop disobeying your captain. You got him to say that he gave Sayanos permission to do whatever he wanted, which was stupid and he's gonna get fired for it. That's enough.
No. 956048 ID: 10c408

Do you honestly believe that this corrupt asshole won't just kill us after admitting his laundry list of crimes to our face?

Play along with this schmo, but be prepared to fight or flee at a moment's notice.
No. 956049 ID: 91ee5f

“You probably want to get this over with as soon as possible, right? So instead of walking me to a cell, why don’t we both go see the warden right now?”

I think it’s funny that you think he’s only going to be fired.

He’s probably going to get something worse than that.
No. 956051 ID: b1b4f3

He can't. A truth wizard will most likely be involved here.
No. 956053 ID: 51fd91

Go in the cell, but don't disarm yourself.
No. 956056 ID: 10c408

Your absolute faith in the empire's legal system is most disturbing to me.

It'd be an absolutely open and shut case for the courts if Moss is dead and the captain here sticks to his story. YES a wizard COULD prove he's a lying sack of shit but even if it was established that he killed Moss in cold blood? Oh no, he killed someone that killed a noble whatever shall we dooo.

And that's assuming a wizard even gets assigned to proving the truth of his statements in the first place.
No. 956066 ID: dbd72b

Play along. but do not disarm without being ordered. We knew going into this that the captain was a jackass about this, so we'll have to hope the warden gets it.

Is Sayanos still moving? If so you might delay for a few seconds, if you can safely. This goes much worse for you if he isn't fully dead. But absolutely don't do any coup de grace. It'll start a fight, and attacking the captain right now isn't an option.
No. 956069 ID: 48ce40

Play along, don't turn your back.
No. 956073 ID: d8722f

Here? This empire? Might makes right. Kill him, toss both bodies to the cells.
No. 956106 ID: 47f581

I think that's too much, would get the other guards on Moss's ass.
No. 956119 ID: 2f91b6

The choices? The deadly legal system which favors royals (which also risks immediate death by sword), or kill him. The "people" of the cells will dispose of the bodies to cover. You have a better idea?
No. 956122 ID: b1b4f3

Okay first, there are a ton of witnesses right now.
Second, it favors nobles proportional to how much influence they have. Sayanos had no real power, Krix has a fuckton of power. Krix is so powerful that his servants are supposed to be treated with respect by the lower nobles; that's why Moss should be able to get away with killing Sayanos.

The captain may be corrupt but he can't get away with immediately killing Moss, and Moss sure as fuck can't get away with killing his captain out of paranoia.
No. 956123 ID: bb78f2

Well, you're a fellow palace guard, I know the code, at least. I'll follow orders then.

I'll be honest, if you wanted me to do what he wanted, you should have just told me what he wanted me to do yourself instead of having him doing it directly. Maybe I would've actually done it and been a good little boy then, or refused and simply accepted the consequence of dis-subordination. It would have been an order from a fellow guard, an official order from Warlord Krix by proxy, rather than from a Pocktown noble.

Or were you too afraid to use chain of command to involve Krix in this scum's personal plot for glory?
No. 956124 ID: f133dc

Tell him to cut the petulant bullshit and go get the Warden NOW. Tell him you'll wait here, with the body.
No. 956127 ID: 10c408

Yes. He can damn well get away with killing Moss right now in the next... well however long he has until someone else who ALSO heard sayanos's bloody murder turns up.

That's the exact point in which he can't get away with killing Moss and not one second before.
No. 956128 ID: b1b4f3

No. 956129 ID: 996d42

I would say that you shouldn't antagonize him. He already fuck it up by letting Sayanos do what ever he wanted. He will get what he deserves.
No. 956130 ID: a9af05

Don't give up your weapons. He only said to get in the cell, he never said anything about disarming yourself.

Get this over with as soon as possible.
Might as well suggest that to him.

If you're going to continue arguing, please take it to the disthread.
No. 956137 ID: 8d23f0

get in the cell but take the body with you and don't disarm.
No. 956138 ID: b1b4f3

The captain DID in fact order Moss to drop his weapons, in the previous update.
No. 956151 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158157498881.png - (29.54KB , 800x800 , 1376.png )

For all the concern the captain's expressing, he hasn't bothered to save Sayanos at all, but maybe he sees how much blood there is. I made sure to cut deep enough that not even a healing cloth is going to fix him. He's already still.

I step forward -


- and drop my dagger. The captain barely fails to hide a sigh of relief on his part.

>"The badge and sword as well."

I'm deciding to disarm, and the badge is the easiest thing to drop. It's out of my hands now, but my hands are still shaking, damnit. At least I don't have to pass by the prisoners at all, they'd have an easy time sniffing out how unsettled I am!
No. 956152 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158157499786.png - (26.49KB , 800x800 , 1377.png )

There's not much point in facing the captain as I walk. To do so means turning my back to one of the escorting guards, and if the captain wanted to kill me, he just has to give a signal.
No. 956153 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158157503499.png - (27.13KB , 800x800 , 1378.png )

I walk into an open cell, and they turn it into a closed cell. I don't like how quiet the prisoners are. They might've heard some of the commotion, and if so, they're trying to eavesdrop on what's going on. The sound sometimes carries too well in this dungeon.
No. 956154 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158157504601.png - (31.51KB , 800x800 , 1379.png )

And sure enough, they must've overheard someone talking too much, because once the captain and his crew heads back to their posts, the noise starts. I'm not even close by, but they're screaming their jokes about chickens in coops and whatever other mockeries they can think of.

It's not a long wait until the warden comes.

>"Hello, Moss."
"Hello, Sir." I don't think I've spoken to him since I was hired.
>"I've put in a request to Lord Krix. Normally we would send word to Sir Sayanos' heir or immediate family and hear cases and so on and so forth to best decide on what to do with you, but as Lord Krix personally recommended that I hire you, it would be a crass act to not include him in our decisions. And as he is the highest rank, he then gets first choice in deciding what to do. You can consider yourself informed that there's no guarantee he cares about this enough, and he may simply pass on the decision of judgement back to us."
"And what do you see fit?"
>"As of now? I see nothing, because I have not heard your case."

I open my mouth to speak, but I stumble for what to say exactly. I stay silent, but he cuts me off as if I started speaking.

>"No, no. Wait, Moss. You have been gifted time to think of your case, and make a prepared speech. Use your time well, as if you do, you may fare far better than blurting out everything out in a desperate breath of hot air."
"How long until Lord Krix sends word?"
>"Who can say? My messenger, I should hope, but not us. You see, Lord Krix is out of town at the moment, and he can be a very difficult noble to find. It could be days before we get word. Weeks, if you're unlucky. It still doesn't matter how long, as you'll have to wait out however much time it takes. The captain informed me that you obeyed orders 'well enough', so until Lord Krix returns word, we have no plans to treat you poorly. No meals of gruel or slop, or excessive manacles, or... well, you won't turn into... them." He gestures to the public prisons. "A proper bedroll is on its way. You may request personal belongings or anything else to help you pass the time, within reason."
No. 956156 ID: 10c408

Make a request for whatever creature comforts you happen to have, you may end up being here for a very long time.

Politely tell the warden that you'll make two copies of the note you plan on giving to warlord krix and that you'll be hiding the other in the cell somewhere because you do not trust the captain.
No. 956157 ID: b1b4f3

Well we already know some bullet points to bring up:
1, first the most damning thing in the eyes of the court- he opened and read your mail.
2, he kicked you in the crotch the first time you met, for merely the tone of your voice. He then attempted the same thing this time, but you didn't let him.
3, he tried to send you on a suicide mission seemingly without consulting your boss. The mission was to kill Fen, who you believe at this point has more resources than Sayanos had, though perhaps not in raw coin.
4, he threatened to kill your family and friends and the family of one of your friends if you did not accept and COMPLETE this impossible task.
So this really just felt like self-defense in multiple ways, against someone who shouldn't have been a noble to begin with. I mean what kind of idiot comes alone, unarmed, TWICE, to assault an armed soldier and threaten everyone he cares about? Noble or not, if you hadn't killed him, someone else would've.

As for what stuff to have to pass the time... I don't suppose they'll let you send a letter? You could tell Fen how you joined him in the noble-killing club!
Also art supplies, deck of cards, some books... you'd like to talk to Nawm every now and then. Ask them to let Gahn visit you if he wants, but he can't enter the cell and they have to make sure he's not hiding a crossbow or something. He was already instructed to kill you once, it could happen again.
No. 956162 ID: a00b9f

Nice but personally I'd leave out #2 (or at least put it later). It's the kind of petty stuff nobles always get away with because the law is on their side (at least at Stone level, see end of thread 4).

May also mention that outright orders to kill Fen seem to overstep a line Warlord Krix has so far been very careful not to cross, so he likely won't want to look like he condones it.
No. 956167 ID: 10c408

Nawn'll probably show up, we don't and probably shouldn't specifically mention her on the paranoid off-chance that the captain (or someone else) decides that our one prison guard buddy needs to suffer/die to spite us.

And I'd be very surprised if Gahn is even in town after stabbing Moss's pillow while he slept.

And lastly, some other bulletpoints to spitball

5: conspiracy to commit murder/manslaughter

Actually you know what? Treason against Krix. That should be a bullet point. And for the simple reason that this dumb moron told you enough that if you hadn't panicked and killed him while he was assaulting you *again*, you could have very well walked to Erja nokol, surrendered and given the army commander over there everything he'd need to have Krix put on trial for conspiracy to assassinate an imperial soldier.
No. 956168 ID: 884f69

Hm, make a case? I'd go with loyalism. Make Sayanos seem mad or a fraud at best, a traitor at worst.
-Offered a large sum of empire resources for a grudge with a soldier
-Made threats of mass murder over said grudge
-Attempted sabotage of the empire's military
No. 956169 ID: bfdaf0

Now is as good a time as any to request protection for Val and for Gahn's family, if fearful that Sayanos may have ordered his thugs to kill them if he doesn't return. But now that I think of it, he may have been too arrogant to conceive that a lowly soldier could kill him.
No. 956172 ID: bfdaf0

In short, the report shall say that this upstart attempted to poach one of Warlord Krix's soldiers for an obvious suicide mission -- a mission Krix wouldn't want associated with his name, at that -- and his means of doing so involved threatening to execute honest imperial civilians for the sole crime of being people Moss cares about.

Then we sprinkle the details: Sayanos knew Warlord Krix wouldn't approve, since he resorted to bribery to come down there. Sayanos violated the secrecy of imperial mail. Sayanos got physically violent. Sayanos got dead.
No. 956175 ID: 1ed92d

Sayanos threatened to kill your ex-wife and your coworkers if you didn't help him sabotage the army at Erja Nokol.

It's absolutely a fact. Yes.
No. 956177 ID: baec18

Ask if you can't get like, a bucket of water and a rag or something to clean up.

At this point your fate is ultimately out of your hands, but your behavior here can nudge things in one direction or the other. Be polite, don't seem like you enjoyed killing the noble, etc...

Hopefully whatever plays cheese is making work out. Or maybe Krix will just be OK with you killing Sayanos? Guy seemed like he'd be annoying.
No. 956179 ID: 91ee5f

We might not need to mention Nawm. She’ll probably show up on her own to live up to her name and nom on the lunches that she said Moss owes her.

Which will be a disappointment to her, since Moss won’t be able to make his usual good food while in a cell.

No. 956180 ID: 996d42

I like these.
No. 956186 ID: a0dfd2


May as well offer our thanks, and perhaps ask to speak with Nawm, once we've gotten some means to write a letter.

... and have Nawm, whom I PRESUME we trust enough, to deliver said letter to that little chest beneath the rubbish bin in that place Cheese told us about.

If only to let her know that a certain unruly pebble won't be such a pain in our proverbial foot, any longer.
No. 956187 ID: 91ee5f

Nawm is nice and all that, but I don’t think we should tell her about Cheese’s secret mail drop.

Also, I don’t think Cheese would like us to go telling other people about it.
No. 956188 ID: a0dfd2


That last one is perhaps the only thing that would potentially be looked down upon, given what we know of nobles insofar.

Stating that Sayanos' actions would have been a direct detriment both to the safety of the mausoleum (hey, if a random guard could infiltrate and pull this off, then just wow -- worse still if we were just someone expendable to distract the target from *real* assassins) and the efforts of Grand Knight Zall's campaign against the necromancers, let alone the attempted coercion to murder one of his prized knights.

It was in learning that a compatriot of ours, Gahn, was similarly approached and threatened that we had no reason to believe that Sayanos would cease his efforts even if we failed; we were merely the easiest pieces to move, so to speak (and the least likely to go missed), nevermind that such actions would go against the will of Warlord Krix, whom we serve at the palace (a very important distinction here, further painting Sayanos as working against his superiors).

Setting up our argument that we are a hapless and lowly guard with ties to the target, and had no reason *not* to believe the coercion against us, and pressing that Sayanos' efforts could have harmed the Empire's own efforts against the undead threat would thus put him in line with Lady Cati and Lord Bardo, for having failed to uphold their oaths to the Emperor.

A fact which I'm sure we haven't forgotten, after the trial Lady Apanya presided over.

As such, our actions were not self-defense, but an effort to protect the interests of Krix and uphold the will of the Emperor.

Above all, remember that our words need not be completely truthful; only damning enough of the opposition, who, mind you, is already dead and, like a certain noble before him, will decidedly *not* have an opportunity to defend himself.
No. 956191 ID: a9af05

I agree. Don't tell Nawm about the secret mail drop.
No. 956192 ID: 48ce40

Nawm is probably at least a little mad at you, since you promised not to do anything that could earn enemies, so no getting much from her for a little while. Probably can't trust anyone else, either, though. Best chance is to try subtly flash Cheese's signals at people bringing you things and see if any of them are secret agents.

You could ask for a pair of earplugs or similar to help you with the prisoners' screaming. Besides that, perhaps a book? If there are any secret agents around, they could slip you a note in it.

As for your defense, you should probably focus on Sayanos repeatedly disrespecting Krix by sneakysnooping around and being bossy to his underlings without permission, before other points. In conflict with a noble your best appeal is to the rights of a bigger noble, not your own.
No. 956195 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158162811845.png - (27.82KB , 800x800 , 1380.png )

"Some pen and paper. A book to pass the time, and a bucket and cloth to clean myself up. Will I be allowed visitors and mail?"
>"Both will be allowed under the rule that we'll read your outgoing mail and be present during your visits." The warden says while giving a nod to a guard to the side and soon returns with the items.

"I'd like a friend named Gahn to come visit me." I give him the details I can, but he may not be easy to find.
>"We'll do what we can. Oh, and your personal items will be stored in a private locker for the time being."

Using the pen and paper, I make my case. When I read it over, it looks more like a report of what happened from one event to the next, rather than a plead of innocence. I think I like it like that, but maybe I should play it up with thoughts of loyalty, or how I'm protecting Krix's interests, or whatever. I need more time to collect my thoughts to make sure it doesn't just sound desperate from me, but I think I have a lot of material to give to a fair court. If the court's not fair, then I'm screwed no matter my defense.

The prisoners slowly go back to their normal noises, and only the most persistent of prisoners keeps yelling at me despite no indication I hear them.
No. 956196 ID: 5fc3a0
File 158162815255.png - (21.19KB , 800x800 , 1381.png )

Some guards begin walking by, as their shift ends and the night crew takes their places. I'm glad I was right to think Nawm would visit on her own. She stops by on her way out.

>"When I said try not to get kicked in the crotch again, I didn't mean stab the guy."
"It worked, didn't it?"

She coughs out a little 'pf'.

>"You can still joke, huh?"
"I guess I can, even if I shouldn't."
>"I brought you a training sword and a straw rod."
"You were allowed?"
>"Yeah. I talked it over with the captain and the other guards, and we know how bad it can be locked up for a long time. I mean, I hope it isn't a long time, but if it is, it's best to be able to beat the hell out of some inanimate objects."
No. 956197 ID: 10c408

Honestly, I think Krix would appreciate integrity more than ass-kissing or flattery.

Add on an apology for having killed Sayanos, you woke up with a knife in your pillow right next to your head and during your shift you find out he's returned to assault you again.
No. 956199 ID: 48ce40

"Thanks, Nawm. You know I actually held my knife out in front of my crotch and he kicked it himself?"

I wonder if you should include that in the report, actually. It emphasizes how arrogant and foolish Sayanos was that he didn't even keep an eye on your weapon while alone with you (nobles seem to be quite open to stories of other nobles being idiots, from what we experienced with the trial), and might amuse Krix. It is the truth, too, matching up with the wounds on his corpse if they take a look at it.
No. 956200 ID: c2f1f6

Add on a couple points-
-You'll accept any judgement they render, but in any case you'd like the court to protect Gahn and your ex from Sayanos' henchmen, co-conspirators or string-pullers, as the case may be.
-make the point that you answer to Warlord Krix and not Sayanos. Maybe Krix will appreciate that, maybe leave it out if it looks like he's in no mood for suckups.

Tell Nawm that at current interest rates, if or when you get out of here you'll owe her a lot of lunches.
No. 956201 ID: a0dfd2


Nice of her.

(Now why do I get the feeling that rod isn't what we think it is ...?)
No. 956202 ID: 86eb65

Krix is a warlord so he probably would prefer a honest military style report. Be polite and respectful but don't try to suck up.

Honestly if Krix shows up to find you training hard in your cell with a nice easy to read report on the table it will probably do more for you than any amount of false flattery.

Also a apology for making him come all this way to have to deal with your mess.

"Nawm you are the best. Thank you for everything."

"Oh and if you bring me ingredients I will make you lunches while I am locked up."
No. 956203 ID: a8720f

You're correct that the last is the key, the first two were support the case that he'd become crazy, or was a traitor.
No. 956204 ID: a9af05

Thank Nawm for what she brought to you.

Unless she's able to bring a source of fire to use for cooking, I doubt she'll be able to bring ingredients for cooking.
No. 956205 ID: bb78f2

Thanks a lot, Nawm.
No. 956234 ID: fa2754

Apologize on not being able to make her any meals.
No. 956236 ID: 91ee5f

Tell Nawm that you’re sorry that you can’t make any meals for her to nom on.

Yeah, a military style report and seeing us training in our cell sounds like a good plan.
No. 956239 ID: b1b4f3

Maybe you can ask for exercise equipment too. GET SWOLE.
No. 956248 ID: dbd72b

Nawm's cool. Let her know. Also? Ask if she can put a note in Cheese's place. But don't mention Cheese, or any other details. Let Cheese know the spot is compromised, and give a status report. Your factual, by the books testimony is good enough for this (and won't compromise your testimony if anyone extra reads it). Three folds, this is important.
Agreeing with general sentiment to train, because what else are you going to do? Sorry, revenge isn't fun.
As far as I can see, your job is to keep people from fucking with Krix. So if someone less than Krix fucks with you, they're fucking with Krix's security system, and therefore Krix himself. Simple reason why Cheese knows what you did is ok, and something he'd want to encourage.These are good details to add to your testimony. But maybe said nicer?
No. 956250 ID: 015bf2

Take the stuff.

"Damn, you're all being way too nice. You told them I make good lunches, didn't ya?"

Don't mention Cheese's drop off point to Nawm. If you get out of this, you could use it as replacement drop-off for Fen mail. That, and getting your one friendly face in this dump involved with all this cloak and dagger stuff doesn't quite seem worth it.

Your report seems fine, but you're going to get questioned and if a truth wizard's there, so you need to consider carefully not just the facts of the report, but how you express yourself. Leaving yourself open to questions like 'did you plan to kill Sayanos' may fluster you, so you ready answers like 'I'd rather not have had to kill him right then, but I can't deny I wanted him dead for threatening me and my friends.' You can, and should, honestly present yourself as a victim of circumstance and idiot noble overreach.
No. 956255 ID: 1047cb

>noble overreach
Bad idea. The empire's system is set up to harm people who disobey authority, regardless of how stupid the authority is, to keep the system's power. Moss must seem loyal. His victim must seem disloyal.
No. 956256 ID: 015bf2

Noble overreach can be considered traitorous.

See also: the two dead golds at Fen’s trial.

By presuming to give orders to Moss without asking for permission to give said orders, Sayanos placed himself above Warlord Krix in rank. Moss is no dragon knight, but if Sayanos did not have the strength to resist even s lowly dungeon guard, he has clearly proved himself unworthy of contesting Krix’d power.
No. 956257 ID: 48ce40

Getting swole might actually be a good strategy. The Empire values strength. Sayanos was a scrawny fella, and wasn't a mage to excuse it, so if a big buff upstanding warrior guy is held up in comparison to him, there'll be a predisposition to favor the guy who fits the cultural ideal better. It's shitty, but might as well work in our favor.
No. 956262 ID: a9af05

>Don't mention Cheese's drop off point to Nawm. If you get out of this, you could use it as replacement drop-off for Fen mail. That, and getting your one friendly face in this dump involved with all this cloak and dagger stuff doesn't quite seem worth it.
I agree with all of this.
No. 956274 ID: ce39da

Make sure not to make any claims based on stuff you learned from Cheese and no-one else. Even if the court discovers your info to be accurate, it might raise some awkward questions about how you knew.
No. 956285 ID: 6325da

Much better, though I'd be highly cautious with that. The trial was partially (or mostly) a power play. Moss's judge will have a lot of leeway, too.
No. 956290 ID: 10c408

Moss's judge will probably be Krix for all the right reasons.

If the judge isn't Krix then we're up the creek without a paddle.
No. 956405 ID: 15a025

Well, earlier you did mention how you should pick up training again. Seems like Nawm's brought you the perfect chance, and maybe more.
Feel the training sword a little more closely later and see if there's something hiding in it?
No. 956593 ID: f133dc

I just had a nasty thought.

What Cheese said about him not getting in too much trouble for killing Sayanos, that would likely be true for any old kobold working there right now, except where Moss is a known accomplice of Fen, and just killed a noble for telling him to kill Fen, this might just be seen as him declaring himself Fen's ally.

Which Krix probably wouldn't look to mercifully on.
No. 956597 ID: 13059a

Murder Krix?
Murder Krix...
No. 956599 ID: 10c408

Okay, for real. If Krix was even aware of the connection between Moss and Fen, there's a thousand other ways for Sayanos to screw over Moss, let alone Krix who is Boss to the both of them.

Instead, Sayanos shows up unannounced, with no fanfare nor guards, has to bribe one of Krix's OTHER subordinates and then makes it perfectly clear he doesn't give a shit about the chain of command because noble title.

These are not the actions of someone who has not only rifled through Moss's mail to discover the fen-moss connection, but also got Krix's blessing. Sayanos would not have had to go around Krix's back like this if Krix approved of the machinations to get Moss to die semi-pointlessly.
No. 956622 ID: a5320c

Plus, Krix doesn't want to kill Fen without plausible deniability (he wants to remove an enemy without making an enemy of someone much more dangerous), and sending one of his own soldiers with direct orders to kill Fen is counterproductive to that.