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File 165558626790.png - (92.27KB , 500x500 , LF6 Title Card.png )
1035326 No. 1035326 ID: 8483cf

Lazy Wiki: https://questden.org/wiki/Lazy_Fairy

Previous Topic: https://questden.org/kusaba/questarch/res/1021044.html#1021044

Can I manage my finances, a fox spirit and my own stress levels without accidentally burning my bakery down… again?
Expand all images
>>
No. 1035327 ID: 8483cf
File 165558630737.png - (17.25KB , 500x500 , LF6-1.png )
1035327

I owe Lady Kensington lots of money.

She did give me a generous fee for flying everyone to Minga from my mom’s lair. And she did get the fairy actuaries to lower my fire insurance premiums. And I’m pretty sure mom didn’t ask her to repay 100% of my debt from bailing me out the first time I burned down my bakery.

But I still owe her lots of money.

I can’t afford to hire more than one assistant at a pittance, which means I’m stuck with Dotti. She’s eager to help, but I’ll need to train her on customer service, making simple things like coffee and tea, and making sure her math skills are good enough to run the register.

I look at my supplies and wring my hands. I don’t have the materials or staff to stay open all day. I’ll need to decide whether to focus on the breakfast crowd with easy-to-make things like waffles and pastries, or if I want to be creative and make beautiful, delicious sweets for the afternoon crowd like cakes, crème brûlée and sponge cake flambé.

The breakfast items are easiest to make, meaning I can teach Dotti how to help and will generally cause me the least stress, but… will I get a reputation as just a basic bakery with no real skills as a patissier?

My sign is ready: La Pâtisserie de Minga. It’s simple and the name won’t draw attention to the fact that I’m a half-dragon employing a fox spirit. I’ll bright and early tomorrow, but… am I really ready?

Choose what to focus on for your first few weeks of business.
1. Breakfast pastries, coffee and easy-to-make dishes
2. Artisan desserts: difficult to make, but high-profit if sold

Choose what to train Dotti on first.
A. Customer Service and waitressing
B. Making simple dishes and drinks
C. Running the register


KAYK STRESS: [33/100]
DOTTI STRESS: [10/100]

>>
No. 1035331 ID: 899c9f

How are you only a half-dragon if you can still turn into a fire breathing titan that can fly everyone around?
Focus on breakfast dishes and train Dotti on customer service.
>>
No. 1035333 ID: d98cb8

Well we need to make sure we're solvent first, and actually functional as a bakery. Reputation can be earned with time, but only if you HAVE that time.

To that goal, I say we should do:

1) Breakfast, to settle in as a local bakery the average people will want to go to and allow plenty of time to get Dotti up to speed

B) Teach Dotti the backend work first here. As much progress as she's made as a person, she's still Dotti. The last thing you need is her getting frustrated and overturning someone's coffee in their lap because they were a snotty asshole about the service.

This will put a little pressure on you to do more front of house work while teaching Dotti and keeping up with the bakery, but that's why you're taking on the relatively lower-stress breakfast crowd.
>>
No. 1035334 ID: 629f2e

2, While cakes are more difficult overall, going with the safe option may in fact be the riskier option. Think about it: How many bakeries in town sell simple breakfast pastries? Why would anyone come to yours when they could instead go to one that they already know they like? You need to offer something different if you want to compete, and I'd imagine there are fewer cake shops in Minga than there are general bakeries.

As for Dotti, B obviously isn't an option if we take this route. C is a little bit risky, but probably the safe bet since if she undercharges someone, you can easily just dock her pay to match.

Let's think about this in terms of Dotti's perspective though, as a stressed out Dotti won't make for a good employee. What would be best for her?

I have to think it'd be A. At the register she'll have to put up with customers and money, which will add extra stress onto her. Not sure how good her math is, but you don't want her having to deal with bargain hunters or complainers. Have her take orders and bring people their food instead. The stress there will at least be offset by any tips she gets, so it should be easier on her. She will have to interact with the customers more, but hopefully it'll be when they're eating and having their own conversations instead of trying to score a deal on their meals, so the interactions should generally be nicer.
>>
No. 1035335 ID: dee951

Let's keep it easy for now!

1
B

Give her simple tasks to do, that are not customer facing. You'll need to train her in *everything* for front-of-the-store if you want her to be the front of the store person, until you can hire someone else.
>>
No. 1035337 ID: 0838d6

1/B

Get dotti to understand how working works first, and help her learn a valuable skill, how to cook simple breakfast foods. Even she can see the value in knowing how to make her own tasty treats, which, to be a stable human who currently lacks money, means knowing how to make her own food. Expect to probably make a loss on the first day of any of these tasks though because she is learning after all
>>
No. 1035338 ID: 273c18

>what to make
Look at your competition. What are they making? Make something that isn't that. Fill a niche.

>how to train a fox
Starting simple is a good idea. B is the simplest option (and if she eats your cooking supplies you can dock her pay)
>>
No. 1035375 ID: e51896

1, A

Dotti is going to get fur all over our food if we have her cook (unless she wears like, a giant hairnet all over her body, which is problematic)
>>
No. 1035380 ID: e51896

But i will say this, if Dotti cooks, she can use fire magic to warm the food at least. Best tell her to use a little if she is going to cook.
>>
No. 1035383 ID: e5709d

1) Start with the core basics. Kensington isn't giving you high-quality customers from her contacts list, so focus on standard products.

C) Sadly, most people in this racist area are going to look at Dotti funny. But they can quickly learn you're backed by aristocracy, so they won't harass her without provocation, out of fear of being sued to death... unless she doesn't know how to resist bluff and intimidation checks.
>>
No. 1035447 ID: 8483cf
File 165566379416.png - (17.23KB , 500x500 , LF6-2.png )
1035447

I consider training Dotti on customer service. She’s very confident in her ability to be cute and charming, but… no. Customers are unpredictable, often temperamental, and sometimes rude. I don’t want to put Dotti under that kind of stress her first week, especially since she’d be tempted to put the worst customers in their place. She’s sworn to not harm anyone with magic in Minga, but I can’t have her telling off a rude customer no matter how much they deserve it. Customer service is all about smiling, waving, and getting jerks out the door without making them jerkier. A brand-new bakery can’t have a vengeful waitress or cashier.

As much as it pains me, I should probably stick with the basics for my first few weeks. I’m going to have enough difficulty managing Dotti; I can’t have my focus split between difficult pastries, cakes, and a fox spirit. The biggest advantage to breakfast service is that I can make the batter and most pastries, like croissants, before opening, so Dotti doesn’t have to do much other than pour and heat.

That frees me to handle the front of the house. I don’t really like having to talk too much and juggle difficult customers, but… I’ll survive. I trust Dotti to make waffles and heat pastries while I handle any chaos in front.

What I don’t trust Dotti to do is stay out of the trash.

Oh dear.

Sanitation is a big deal. If customers start getting sick because the fox spirit making their food has filthy paws and is coated in syrup from previous customers’ orders, that’s the end of me. Not to mention the fact that she’s covered in fur. I absolutely cannot allow a single strand of fox fur to end up on anything I serve. It’s a problem I’ve never had, and I realize how lucky I’ve been.

There’s no hairnet in the world big enough to cover 100% of a fox spirit. I could get Dotti to wear long sleeves and gloves, but she still has to cover her face. That’s the other thing: it gets really hot in back, and that’s yet another advantage I’ve had being a dragon. Dotti isn’t so lucky: she doesn’t have immunity to high temperatures, so she’d overheat very fast if I asked her to cover all her fur. Things would be so easier if she could shapeshift into a human…

I could look for a magical solution. Landi might have a spell to keep Dotti from shedding, but that would require (a) Landi waking up very, very early every morning, and (b) that she casts the spell well enough to last Dotti’s full shifts from morning until just after lunch. I don’t know how reliable Landi can be at either. Maybe I could get Dotti an outfit from Miss Venmiphi, the Gnelf, and have her enchant it to keep fur in and heat out, but… that would be really expensive.

How should I handle Dotti’s trashy habits?
1. Ban her from eating trash
2. Allow her to sample fully cooked food and hope she doesn’t eat trash
3. Let her eat trash, but only at the end of her shift
4. Other

How do I solve Dotti’s fur problem?
A. Hope Landi casts a spell every single morning and does it well enough to last
B. Cover Dotti up in hairnets, long sleeves and gloves
C. Buy Dotti a magical uniform and go even deeper into debt
D. Other
>>
No. 1035451 ID: e51896

2. Not only will it prevent her from eating trash and break her habit even in social situations off work, this can be good payment for a job well done!

1. We'll just make Landi something small as an incentive, like a free tasty donut each day whenever she casts magic on Dotti. I mean, at her size, a small donut should be more than enough. And also because if it's a donut, it ought to be perfect since the quest author is a donut. If she does a good job and the spell lasts all day, we'll put sprinkles and frosting on the donut. Otherwise, if the spell doesn't last, she gets no frosting or sprinkles. That should get her to be serious about casting the spell, and will make her magic stronger.
>>
No. 1035452 ID: 629f2e

3, At the end of her shift it doesn't matter how filthy she gets. Just make it very clear why she has to wait until the end, so that she doesn't try sneaking any during it.

Now, whether Serah allows her to consume trash is none of your business, but just make it clear that you won't be lying to Ms. Kensington if questioned about your trash habits. If Dotti isn't to eat from the trash cans, then Dotti needs to take responsibility for herself and stay away.

If she keeps herself in line, and stays out of the trash during her shift, Kayk may keep some leftovers off to the side, away from the gross cans, which Dotti may help herself to at shift's end.

B, Just for now though. I suspect Dotti won't be a fan. You should bring it up to the wealthy Ms. Kensington that Dotti's fur is an issue, and that your only means of handling it causes Dotti great discomfort, so if she has some means of solving the issue then that would make her charge far more comfortable.
>>
No. 1035456 ID: dee951

2
B

Essentially, allow Dotti to have her fill of cooked food when she isn't busy, but encourage her to keep track of it, by writing down what she eats so you can keep track of food costs. Also allow her to take bits home; you want to entirely remove the temptation to eat out of the trash, by getting her used to not having to worry about food being SCARCE, so she isn't anxious. Don't put any limits on the amount of food directly; instead, maybe limit when she can take a break to eat if it is busy, and limits by how much she can carry in a basket (that she OWNS; give her one if you have to!) to take home at a single time. Expect the amount to be high to start but to lower as she gets used to food not being scarce all the time.
>>
No. 1035458 ID: 273c18

3, B. See how she does. If she starts overheating you can switch to a different plan.
>>
No. 1035461 ID: 899c9f

She won't get better at it if she doesn't confront her problems. Speaking of, complete ban on canned food. if anyone sees your employee eating from the garbage on or off the job you're sunk.
Buy her a magical uniform, as it shows her how much you care about the job. The magic tailors have a very good reputation as well. Until it's finished, you'll have to supply her with hairnets anyway.
>>
No. 1036048 ID: 8483cf
File 165629541178.png - (54.66KB , 404x577 , LF6-3.png )
1036048

Part of me wants to take the path of least resistance and simply set food aside for Dotti that she can eat at the end of her shift. That gives her what she wants and saves me a few coins’ worth of fresh food that she won’t eat. However, the thought of anyone seeing her eating trash at all might be enough to sink my shop. I absolutely cannot have people assume Dotti eats trash and then comes in to prepare food.

To prevent disaster, I’ll need to minimize the chance Dotti will eat trash on or off her shift. That means letting her sample my wares as she pleases, and making sure she knows there will never be a shortage of food as long as she’s employed here. I’ll see what I can do to ensure customers don’t waste any food while they’re in the shop- that might set her off. I’ll see what I can do. Since she’s cooking, that leaves me in charge of taking orders, bussing tables and collecting payment. Which reminds me…

For the first few weeks I’m open, I don’t have to have sit-down service. I could serve to-go food while Dotti learns the tricks of the trade, and that means I can focus on working the register and making sure the food Dotti makes is top quality. However, that means I my shop won’t be, well, as atmospheric as it could be. It’d lack that personal touch.

If I do decide to allow sit-down service, I’d have to bus tables and take orders on top of handle payments and watching Dotti’s food. It would be more stressful, and I’d have to worry about maneuvering around the sitting area. If I’m too busy, there’s the risk I might knock into something with my tail. I’m… not exactly a small half-dragon.

And…

I’m not exactly a talkative person. I’d have to speak up and make people feel welcome, something I’m not terribly great at. I just want to make sweets and sell them. Small talk is hard.

And…

I’d have to consider my appearance. If I decide to offer seating, I should probably get an apron to carry a notepad for orders, but… this isn’t exactly professional attire. Maybe a skirt? It’s so hard to find something that won’t shred when it rubs against my scales…

Should I offer sit-down dining?
1. Yes
2. No

If I offer sit-down dining, what should I wear?
A. I like sweaters.
B. An apron will be useful.
C. Skirts are professional.
D. Leggings are cute.
E. A and B
F. A, B and C
G. A, B, C, and D
H. Other
>>
No. 1036049 ID: 899c9f

Nah. Continue to go pantsless behind the counter.
If you're going to buy any clothes though, C. Get two for when one breaks.
>>
No. 1036050 ID: 12b116

Skirt and apron
>>
No. 1036051 ID: 629f2e

Either E or A. You like sweaters. Preference E, because having a notepad would be helpful. Plus, it'd look cute on you.

Having a skirt or leggings would just be too much, and they don't do anything for you. Except make you look cute, which is nice, but you don't want people checking you out while running the store. That'll just add to your stress. Yep, bottomless is the way to go.
>>
No. 1036052 ID: 273c18

>>1036048
1, B

Count the days until someone "accidentally" asks for breast milk in their coffee.
>>
No. 1036053 ID: dee951

2

H

You want to cover up. Even if your scales are sanitary, people judge you by their OWN understanding of biology and propriety. You'll want clothing that covers up your torso, your waist, your feet and lower legs, and isn't likely to snag on things -- and prevents these from directly touching surfaces, whether you are sitting, leaning, working, crouching, lifting, etc. This DOES include an apron, of course, but isn't limited to that. You want to present the appearance of professionalism and safety -- look at what the local culture views as these things.
>>
No. 1036055 ID: 629f2e

>>1036051

Oh, and I'll say yes to sit down dining.
>>
No. 1036057 ID: afe7de

2 and get an apron regardless, but continue to not wear pants, who knows, maybe some customers will come back BECAUSE you dont wear pants. Also pants are icky.

Oh and I wasnt suggesting ONLY wearing an apron, but an apron and whatever top you want, you like sweaters so do that, though if you can get a sweater that only goes up to a little past your elbows so it's easier to work with the pastries and not have them get tangled in your long sleeves then I'd suggest that.
>>
No. 1036058 ID: 4eaeb1

2, E... or B
>>
No. 1036074 ID: 58dd24

No no no, a patisserie doesn't have somebody going around to tables taking orders like a fancy restaurant, you have a counter people come up to, and people can chose to take their food with them, or sit at one of the quaint tables provided indoors or out and enjoy their food here.
>>
No. 1036107 ID: dee951

>>1036074

THIS, TOTALLY THIS!!
>>
No. 1036108 ID: 8483cf
File 165630435826.png - (189.45KB , 987x804 , LF6-4.png )
1036108

What am I thinking? There’s no need for indoor service! A patisserie doesn’t normally have tables and chairs inside! I could probably do just fine with a simple glass display and a countertop, with maybe some tables and chairs on the cobblestones outside if I feel like letting people stick around and socialize without much stress. If I really want to expand into waitressed breakfast service later (if Dotti is up to it), it’s a bonus, not a requirement.

And that means I don’t need to bother overdressing. I feel ridiculous wearing too much. I don’t wear anything when I’m in my true form. Cadmus and dad don’t even wear shirts over their armored chest scales, and Tanwen just has her armored plates. It’s just weird and restrictive to wear too much, especially when the more I wear, the higher the odds it’ll get caught in my scales and rip.

I’ll just wear a sweater and apron. I mean, technically, I could also work wearing no clothes at all, just like a dragon. I’ve practiced this form enough times that I don’t have to worry about anything spilling out or showing when it shouldn’t. I just have to make sure everything is tucked away and decent.

Still, I don’t exactly know how Minga feels about people with scaly bodies, so if Serah makes it an issue, I’ll find a skirt. No one’s complained yet, so Minga must be familiar enough with lizardfolk that they’re okay with it.

However, an apron will be useful no matter what I do. It’ll keep my sweater clean!

I like this form a lot, and as my siblings can attest, I’m very good at handling myself like this. I’m so good, in fact, that I am the undefeated champion of tail tag. None of them have ever given my tail tip a flat tire! The fact that my heart-tip has faded to the same color as my body scales is proof of that. I, however, have gotten their tails several times. Tanwen’s not nearly as nimble as she says she is, and I’ve got one of her razor-sharp diamond tips to prove it!

So I’m very happy the way I am. I’m sure Dotti will want tips on shapeshifting, but unfortunately, I’m not really as skilled as Cadmus, so all I can do is tell her how I got comfortable with this form. It’s a bit difficult for me to try changing anything, so I hope she doesn’t ask me to demonstrate anything other than going back and forth between this and my true form. I’m happy to help her fit in with society, though!

Still… it has been a year or so since I’ve lived around humans, and even longer since I’ve been in a big city. I’ve gotten all my ingredients for opening up, so if I want to learn more about Minga and humans, I have time today. I might even have time to check in on Lady Kensington and her retinue.

What should I do with the rest of my day? It’s midafternoon.
1. Be a tourist around Minga. (Suggest a sweater!)
2. Go shopping for clothes and/or accessories; maybe it’s best to try and find a skirt just in case?
3. Try and be social (this will cause Stress)

Should I search for anyone specific in Lady Kensington’s retinue to bring along?
A. Lady Kensington
B. Landi
C. Dotti
D. Raelynn
E. Taranis
>>
No. 1036112 ID: e51896

3. yes it'll cause stress, but we'll need to practice being social if we want our business to run good and it'll help give us experience with offering friendly customer service. Plus, it'll be good to let them know about our new bakery.

B. Landi. She'll help you open up more. Plus, the thread is called LAZY FAIRY, so she's gotta make an impact once per thread.
>>
No. 1036113 ID: 899c9f

Go shopping with Landi!
>>
No. 1036114 ID: 629f2e

3B

Being social is hard af, but you need to get to know the people of Minga if you want them to buy your wares. It'll be worth a bit of stress. However, you can mitigate it somewhat by bringing a wingman, and Landi's your best bet. She's a social butterfly, she can help give you an in with others.
>>
No. 1036172 ID: 12b116

Go shopping with Dotti, who can tell you all about humans and what they wear
>>
No. 1036180 ID: 0838d6

3B, you're avoiding stress at work so you can handle the stress in other situations, plus, first impressions of just moving in are the best time to strike when finding friends or customers. You still have the "I'm new here" excuse.

And you know who is a social butterfly-err-fairy? That one fairy who shouted at your mom! That'll be fun and even more stressful but also you'll meet people faster and at least make an impression.

(the plus side is that if you dont vibe with any of them, then you know who the way-too-social people of the town are and can then spend some time later trying to find people more your vibe)
>>
No. 1036570 ID: 8483cf
File 165656375271.png - (77.30KB , 526x494 , LF6-5.png )
1036570

It’s stressful, but… I should probably learn what Mingavites like to talk about. I need to be friendly and personable if I’m going to be the face of the patisserie. Jekster and Hunny are so much better at this than I am. Oh, dear…

Well… Landi and Jekster got along fine, so maybe I should trust my little brother’s judgment. Maybe I’ll learn a thing or two about how to make fast friends. Jekster’s always been good at endearing himself to guests quickly, so maybe Landi will have a few tricks I can learn, too. And if that doesn’t work, I can trust her to draw attention away from me, so being social won’t be TOO stressful. I decide to check the adventurers’ guild for her.

As luck would have it, that’s exactly where she is. I find Landi and Genice, her ice djinn friend, conversing excitedly in the common room.

“Look, there’s nothing to worry about,” Landi says, “I know she’s really into climbing the fencing ladder right now, but Vivi’s gonna love Minga. I’m sure she’ll find someone that’ll show her a good time. She can’t be all training, all the time.”

“I dunno…” Genice says. “She’s just like she was in college. She still gets so sulky when she feels like she’s wasted the opportunity to train. I don’t want to invite her if she won’t have fun, you know? A fairy like Vivi just can’t sit still. She might cause trouble just to get a fight outta somebody strong.”

“Oooh, that’d be fun,” Landi says. “But I see what you mean. Maybe we invite Sage instead?”

“She’s too uptight,” Genice says. “Kind of a stick in the mud.”

“Don’t let her hear you say that. Earth djinn and all that. I think it’s offensive or something.”

“Oooooh,” Genice says. “I forgot. Oh! How about Ellie? She needs to get out more and let her hair down. All the work at the Greater Library is making her even more boring than Sage.”

“Ember would spice things up,” Landi giggles. “

“Oh! Hey, Kayk!” Landi says. “Hey, wanna come along to girls’ night?”

I nod. That was easy.

“Sweet! Now we gotta figure out who else to invite. Who sounds cool to bring along?”

Who should I recommend Landi summon to bring along for girls’ night? Select any combination.
1. Vivi, a fencing fairy
2. Sage, an earth djinn
3. Ellie, a librarian fairy
4. Ember, a fire djinn

Should I recommend we bring along anyone else from the party?
A. Lady Kensington
B. Dotti
C. Raelynn
D. Taranis
>>
No. 1036572 ID: 629f2e

A, B, 4

Dotti, so that you can get an idea of how she behaves in public. The people you'll be interacting with will be ones she'll eventually have to deal with on the job. You might get an idea of her hang-ups early, and be able to better correct them. That, and the basic fact that you'll be working together, so it'll be nice to hang out and get closer to her.

Serah, because you like her, Serah is nice. Plus, she'll either keep everyone under control, or get drunk herself and make an ass of herself. Either way, the night will be improved by her presence.

You will not invite Rae, because Rae would hate this. You will not invite Taranis, because his form of entertainment is not socially acceptable (and you're still a bit bitter with him over your fishnets).

Finally, bring Ember. No real reason, she's just the one I most want to hang out with. I will be happy with any of Landi's friends honestly.
>>
No. 1036573 ID: e51896

3 Ellie. If we have someone who isnt as social as you, it might make the experience more comforting, and you both will learn to be more social together.

I'd say dont bring anyone else. Serah will tey to keep too much order, Landi probably doesnt want to be near Dotti, Rae is a party pooper, and Taranis might steal clothing again.

But if we HAVE to pick a party member, Taranis
>>
No. 1036575 ID: 899c9f

Invite Vivi and Ellie! This should be fun.
>>
No. 1036576 ID: e5709d

A3
Nerds like Ellie get told so much more from their conspiratorial bosses than you'd expect, because they're socially inept enough to ignore societal opportunities.
And then we have a noble, who can easily coax out these opportunities from someone who doesn't realize what's in their brain.
>>
No. 1036617 ID: afe7de

3D, because it’s funny that this is a 2d world, but more seriously I think Ellie would be cool and Taranis is a prankster, maybe Landi says “oh he’s coming” instead of you bringing it up though
>>
No. 1036657 ID: d98cb8

4 B

Unless Momo is an option, in which case write-in answer of Momo alongside Dotti

:momotalk:
>>
No. 1036698 ID: 0838d6

>>1036617
This was me on my home PC, but what if I also upvoted
>>1036657
For a surprise momo (because I doubt itll happen but if it does I will chuckle)
>>
No. 1036808 ID: 8483cf
File 165678879728.png - (33.97KB , 660x500 , LF6-6.png )
1036808

“Ellie sounds nice,” I say softly.

“Yeah, we gotta get her out more. For her own sake. She’s gonna turn into a hermit if we don’t help her out,” Landi says. “Okay! Uh... I think I got one that’ll make her pick up.

“Ellie, Ellie, you’re so smart! You never call, you break my heart!”

A few seconds of uncomfortable silence pass, but soon enough a faint pink glow appears in front of Landi.

“Landi? Is that you?”

“You know it, girl! C’mon, accept the summon and let’s catch up!”

“Landi, I… I’m busy,” Ellie says. “You should just go have fun without me.”

“What, you already have plans? Are they hot? Please tell me they’re hot.”

“Um… No. I… Landi, I’m just really tired, okay? I was gonna take a nice evening to just relax and catch up on some books.”

“Ellie!” Genice pipes up. “It’s me, Genice! Come on, join us! It’s been forever. Omega Mu Gamma never lets a sister sit out!”

“Maybe next week. Sorry…”

The glow starts to fade.

“Wait, Ellie!” Landi objects. “Don’t you want to meet a dragon? I know you like cool magical people!”

Um. Half-dragon, but… okay. I shrink back a little.

“A dragon?” The light brightens up a bit. “That sounds scary. Look, I’m just going to-”

Landi flaps her wings decisively. “Fine. I didn’t want to do this, but… I’ll introduce you to a dragon AND a fox spirit!”

“W-what? A real fox spirit?”

“You’re making me pull out the big guns, girl, but anything to get you out of your cave. Accept the summon already!”

That did it. The outline becomes more solid, and soon there’s a very pink, very soft-looking fairy in front of me.

“Ooooh,” Ellie says. “Hi.”

I give a small wave.

Ellie looks to Genice. “Genice? Oh… I kind of expected to see you in person.”

“Genice” puts a hand to her mouth. “Uh. Yeah. Look, this is just easier.”

I tilt my head questioningly. Landi sees my confusion.

“Djinn don’t have to appear in person,” Landi says. “When I summon Genice, I’m, like, making her an avatar she can use borrowed mana to shape. It’s real safe for fighting and stuff, but… I guess if we start partying it up, she can’t really enjoy the drinks herself. Yeah, Genice, you should totally join us in person! I can drink a mana potion to get the extra juice.”

“Uh,” Genice says. “No, it’s fine! Really! I’m fine!”

Landi giggles. “Oh, I get it. You’re so used to remote piloting… You’re not wearing pants, aaaaaaare you?

“Kayk isn’t wearing any ei- I mean, that’s not important! Look, I just haven’t been summoned in person for so long. It’s kind of scary being able to get hurt, you know? I’d rather not.”

I’m kind of curious what Genice’s true form looks like, but… maybe we should give her some slack. It's perfectly reasonable for an Ice Djinn to be nervous about being around a fox spirit and a (half) dragon.

Should Landi summon Genice’s true form to enjoy the evening in person?
>>
No. 1036810 ID: e51896

You decide not to and ask Landi to let Genice do what is most comfortable...

But Landi on the other hand is so insistent, that she manages to convince Genice. Really, it wasn't Kayk's choice, but Landi's.
>>
No. 1036811 ID: 629f2e

Yeeeeeeesss. Do it! It'll be more fun.
>>
No. 1036815 ID: 899c9f

Yes! Girl's night out is good practice for going out and about.
>>
No. 1036816 ID: e51896

>>1036810
To clarify, Kayk will be the one to be all like "this doesn't seem like a good idea"
and then Landi would be like "Nonsense!" and use her charm to successfully convince Genice to be summoned in person.
>>
No. 1036817 ID: 273c18

Yeah, badger Genice to show herself, but she can take a bit of time to dress appropriately.
>>
No. 1036892 ID: 8483cf
File 165683317735.png - (234.94KB , 1156x930 , LF6-7.png )
1036892

Um… as the resident half-dragon, maybe I should just stay quiet when an ice djinn is deciding whether to show up in person.

“Genice, girl, we want to see you here!” Landi says. “Girls’ night is, like, the perfect time to take the plunge. You can see all the sights! Feel the fresh air! Touch grass! Drink wine! Live a little!”

“Um…” Genice’s avatar wrings her hands. “Are you sure it’s safe?”

That is a very good question. I really don’t want to sneeze extra hard and worry about getting her in the crossfire. Maybe this isn’t a great idea after all?

“It’s way safer here than any place we’ve been the last few months,” Landi says.

“Please, Genice?” Ellie says. “I wanna see my sorority sister again.”

“Oh, fine,” Genice sighs. “Just… give me a second to get decent.”

“Yay!”

Landi spends a few minutes bombarding Ellie with the details of her adventures, taking extra time to talk about how awesome summoning is and how she soloed my sister in single combat. I can’t help but smile at that.

“Hey, Landi, I’m ready,” Genice’s avatar says unenthusiastically.

“Great! Great! I can’t wait!” Landi squeals. She pops a mana potion out of her inventory and chugs it down. “Genice, Genice! Hear my call! I summon thee into this hall!”

There’s a cold blast of frigid air, and Genice’s avatar dissolves into a curtain of snowflakes. Through the barrier of snow steps a curvaceous girl about Landi’s size. She looks around nervously and tugs at her dress.

“Hi, guys,” Genice says. “It’s… been a while since I’ve gone out. How do I look?”

“Genice!!!” Landi cheers, giving Genice a big hug. “I’m so happy you came!”

“Me too,” Ellie says. “I like your dress, but... what happened to the cute one made out of pure ice? You know, the one you wore to the big social?”

“I don’t like the way it fits,” Genice says. “But, um, if you want me to change into something else, I can-“

“No way! You look great!” Landi says. “You’re the angel on top of the tree everyone wants to see.”

I nod.

“I guess,” Genice says. “Um… what did you have in mind for the evening?”

“I was gonna play it by ear,” Landi says. “Let’s get moving!”

“Wait!” Ellie says. “Where’s the fox spirit?”

“I was hoping you’d forget about her,” Landi sighs. “I’ll go grab her, if you insist. She’s the worst fox ever. Keep an eye on her tonight, there’s no telling what she’ll get up to.”

That’s a good point. Anything Dotti does tonight has the potential to affect my patisserie’s reputation, since she’ll be working there tomorrow.

What should we do for Girls’ Night?
1. A nice, quiet night in. Not very social, but safest for my reputation. Maybe we can chat with Serah?
2. Go to a pub and chat up the locals. Landi might help me make conversation.
3. Find some live music and go dancing. There has to be a good troupe somewhere in Minga tonight. I just hope no one makes me sing along.
4. Other
>>
No. 1036894 ID: 899c9f

Normally I'd say nothing ventured, nothing gained, but hanging out with Serah is a great time.
>>
No. 1036900 ID: e51896

2. Plz!! We gotta learn to be social, a pub is great for that! Plus we can let new people learn about our bakery and get new customers! Landi can help us out with that too with how social she is, this was the main reason why we chose to be social over going shopping or touring after all! Lets go!
>>
No. 1036903 ID: e51896

>>1036900
Actually a probable change to my vote, if possible what if both 2 and 3, with a heavy lean towards 2, maybe theres some music performance goin on in one of the pubs, and we can drink AND dance!
>>
No. 1036915 ID: 629f2e

2, let's go get some drinks! Not too many, you don't wanna go wild and risk accidentally destroying a bar, just enough to open up a little bit.
>>
No. 1036917 ID: e51896

Couple more reasons why to choose pub

>A nice, quiet night in. Not very social, but safest for my reputation. Maybe we can chat with Serah?

>nice, quiet night in

This totally defeats the purpose of girls night out! There's no way we can be social by doing this

Also, drinks can help us prevent our stress from going up too much. Plus, if we drink we'll have fun, and people love a fun dragon!
>>
No. 1036940 ID: 8483cf
File 165688441076.png - (91.10KB , 1027x742 , LF6-8.png )
1036940

I look down at Genice. She looks up at me.

She’s very small and doesn’t have wings. I saw her floating a few seconds ago, but but I’m not sure if it costs her any energy to do it.

I pat my shoulder. She looks at me nervously, but hops on board.

Trust-building, yay!

“I’m so excited to meet Dotti,” Ellie tells us. “From what I’ve read, fox spirits are always chaotic, impulsive and mischievous. Bad things always seem to happen around them, even if no one can prove it was their fault. I’ve never heard of a fox spirit that wants to fit in with society! Dotti must be a very wise and compassionate spirit. Oh! Here she comes now! Are my wings tucked in right? How’s my glow?”

I give Ellie a thumbs-up. Landi trails behind Dotti, who steps up to Ellie and gives her a curtsy.

“Hi! I’m Dotti. Are you my adoring fangirl?”

“Yes!” Ellie gushes. “Yes, I am!”

Landi groans. “Come on, girls. Let’s get moving before Ellie has a chance to inflate Dotti’s ego too much. There’s a great pub a few blocks east, lots of hot guys, maybe some music if we’re lucky.”

I nod and let Landi lead us. Ellie spends the whole time asking Dotti questions about what it’s like to be a fox. And a sprit. And a fox spirit. Dotti answers as best she can; she remembers enough of her time as a spirit to tell some good stories about wise old foxes and the fox wisdom they taught her.

“So time flows differently on the other side,” Ellie says. “That makes sense from what I’ve read. Have you ever tried to figure out how long you spent there, exactly? We might be able to figure out the dilation factor based on when you crossed over and came back.”

“I…” Dotti pauses. “I try not to think about it too much. It’s… kind of hard.”

“Oh, I don’t mean to press. If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine,” Ellie says. She goes silent for a bit, but can’t restrain herself from piping up again. “But… that means you don’t even know how old you are. The bouncers might care about that. Can you take your best guess? When did you die? Were there any big events that you remember?”

“What would a fox remember?” Genice asks, genuinely curious. “Oh! Maybe a big forest fire! Where there any big fires around when you died?”

“Yes,” Dotti says quietly. “A big one. In the forest just east of here.”

“Tutorial Forest?” Landi asks quizzically. “I mean, that’s my nickname for it, ‘cause it’s so calm usually. There hasn’t been a fire there in, like, forever. That’s why there’s no big or scary monsters. Except that spirit of bloodshed we ran into. Hmm.”

Dotti stops walking.

“Has it really been that long?” she asks, gripping her arm.

“Yeah. If I had to guess… the last time was, like… between thirty and fourty years ago. Hey, if you add up the number of winters you remember, we might be able to get an age for you to tell the bouncer!”

Dotti counts out a few numbers on her fingers. “Um… I can remember about fifteen or sixteen winters I spent waiting for… for a friend. That means it’s been…”

“Upper limit, it’s been just over forty years since you died,” Ellie says.

“Forty…” Dotti counts out some numbers in her head. “Humans can live… a lot longer than that, right? If someone was a teenager, then… now they’d be between fifty and sixty years old?”

“Yep!”

Dotti lets out a huge sigh of relief.

“So for the bouncer,” Ellie says, “If we count your original fox years… assuming you were about two years old when you died, you’ve spent probably eighteen years not dead. That’s enough to get you in the pub!”

“Petra…” Dotti whispers.

“Who’s…”

I wave my hand at Ellie, singaling not to press. She takes the hint.

“Dotti, c’mon,” Landi says. “I know just the sugary thing to get your mind off this. Serah’s letters are out. That’s all that matters.”

“Yeah,” Dotti says.

----

We take our seats at the bar. Dotti’s mood has brightened significantly since she determined Petra could reasonably still be alive. It’s big news worthy of big celebration, according to Landi. I agree, but I’m not sure I should join in so whole-heartedly.

I have to strike a balance between socializing and keeping an eye on Dotti. Landi’s already used up all her favors for Dotti’s contract for today, so she’s not able to use any of those in emergencies.

Landi orders some sugary drinks. It shouldn’t be very boozy, but since Landi ordered them, who knows?

“How does it taste?” Ellie asks Dotti.

“It’s great!” Dotti sticks out her tongue and licks her nose to get the salt from the glass rim. “Hey, Kayk! You should try it!”

Well, I’m half-dragon. It’ll take quite a powerful beverage to get me drunk. I just have to watch out for if Dotti decides to sneak behind the bar and rummage through the trash.

It’s kind of stressful worrying about all of this, and being surrounded by people I don’t know…

Should I order the same thing Dotti drank? Something weaker? Stronger?

Kayk has drunk ZERO drinks. Each drink will make her more social, but increases the odds of something EMBARRASSING happening.
>>
No. 1036942 ID: 899c9f

Stick to just a few drinks, so get something stronger to make sure they count. And can we get some ice with our drinks?
>>
No. 1036946 ID: c58093

Order the same thing Landi is getting. As a fairy, since she is small, she might order somwthing weaker that is enough to get a small fairy drunk, but not a regular sized lizard like us drunk

(However, Kayk doesnt realize Landi drinks some very powerful alcohol beverages despite her size and could get Kayk drunk. So im voting drink something stronger)
>>
No. 1036949 ID: 629f2e

>>1036946

Yeah, sugary drinks aren't very alcoholic, and you doubt a fairy could tolerate much, so you should ask for yours to be a lot stronger. After all, your constitution can definitely take it :wink:
>>
No. 1036966 ID: 9b127b

Drink something stronger than Dotti, look how small she is, your a big girl who needs a big drink
>>
No. 1036974 ID: 273c18

>>1036940
I seem to remember being told that sugary drinks are usually MORE alcoholic. But hey, being exactly as drunk as Dotti is probably fine. Order her drink!
>>
No. 1036986 ID: 8483cf
File 165691101898.png - (47.92KB , 500x500 , LF6-9.png )
1036986

I look at what Dotti and Landi are drinking. I remember that Landi drank just as much as Raelynn back at my parents’ lair, so she’s obviously not a lightweight. Still, Landi’s still a fairy, and Dotti’s so small, that I and my dragon blood (and, um, extra dragon-ness) probably won’t get as much of a kick as they will.

I wave the bartender down, point at Landi’s drink and motion for him to spice it up a little. He does a double-take.

“Are you sure, Miss?”

I nod. Of course I’m sure. If I drink too much, I can always shapeshift back into my true form. No hangovers that way! It’s a nice little trick, but it does tire me out.

The bartender shrugs and reaches for a fresh bottle of some clear liquid.

I turn to Landi and the rest of the girls. They’re giggling and catching up on each other’s lives, just like me and my eldest sibling, Min, used to when she’d come back from visiting her druidic circle. I miss Min…

“Hey, Kayk,” Landi flits up gives me a nudge on the cheek. “You okay? You homesick already?”

No! I shake my head. I’m not homesick. I’m just not used to talking in crowded places, that’s all. The bartender passes me my drink like it’s hissing at him (is it?) and I take a big pull on the straw.

It tastes… really delicious, actually. I take another sip and feel the warmth spread from my head down to the tip of my tail.

“Like it?” Landi says. I give her a nod. “Great! We’re so happy you could come along tonight. You’re so sweet.”

Awwwwwww she’s so sweet

I sip again on my drink and snuggle into my barstool. Ellie’s getting cozy with her own drink. She’s complaining about how she’s so tired all the time that her glow is getting so dull, not like Landi, who’s positively radiant.

Landi thanks her for the compliment and shifts the conversation to the classic subject of “that guy is totally checking you out.” Ellie flushes a little brighter and doesn’t bite at it, but she obviously appreciates Landi pulling for her.

Huh. What if she really did want to get introduced? I look at Ellie and wonder exactly how fairies, um, make flirting work, exactly. No, no. No need to find out what’s in that recipe.

“I like this a lot!” Dotti says. “Hey, Kayk, I see why you put so much sugar in stuff. It really works! There’s no sugar at all in the trash.”

I nod appreciatively. She is becoming a wise fox spirit.

Genice is just happy to be here.

Where did my drink go? Eh, doesn't matter. I’m feeling really good! My tail is wagging and everything, that's how you know how I'm feeling, which is good.

Drunk Kayk Mode activated! Kayk will act on between one and three (chosen randomly) suggestions (also chosen randomly).
>>
No. 1036987 ID: 899c9f

Tell Landi to show us how it's done with flirting.
>>
No. 1036988 ID: bf7d5b

Boogie down

Bust a move

GET DANCING
>>
No. 1036991 ID: e51896

Hey what doesh fairy dusht tashte liek?

ashk Lando -hic- landi to get anotsher cup of alcohol for her to bathe and lounge in, and you'll drink it with her in it as you mosey around the bar and talk to people. gotta advertise our bakery after all!

What, she doeshn't want her dressh ruined? lol, she can take it off, shilly, it's not like anyone can shee through that glow of hers
>>
No. 1036993 ID: 629f2e

Can you suck up fairy dust like your mom did? You probably haven't tried, there's no way of knowing until you do. Ellie is bursting with dust! Try sucking it off!
>>
No. 1036996 ID: 894419

>>1036988
Its definitely dance time, but not a dance you're actually good at. Some sort of embarassing attempt at a new dance style like break dancing is about to occur, I feel it in my bones.
>>
No. 1036997 ID: 273c18

>>1036986
Ask Dotti how she's feeling about her job.
>>
No. 1037080 ID: 8483cf

rolled 3 = 3

Rolling for number of suggestions!
>>
No. 1037082 ID: 8483cf

rolled 2 = 2

Rolling the suggestion to act on (d6). Second suggestion will be rolled with the first removed (d5) and third will be rolled with both removed (d4).
>>
No. 1037083 ID: 8483cf

rolled 4 = 4

First suggestion: >>1036988

Rolling second suggestion to act on (d5) with first removed.
>>
No. 1037084 ID: 8483cf

rolled 1 = 1

Second suggestion: >>1036996

Rolling for third suggestion with first two removed (d4).
>>
No. 1037085 ID: 8483cf

>>1036987
Third suggestion! Votes are now closed.
>>
No. 1037178 ID: f2320a

So dotty is on a diet of mostly pastries cant be long until she is fat like a chonkers house cat/dog
>>
No. 1037339 ID: 8483cf
File 165724585650.png - (96.11KB , 650x509 , LF6-10.png )
1037339

There’s lots of people here, all loud, all happy, all drinking. I hold my drink close to my chest and sip what’s left.

Landi catches me glancing around the pub. “See someone you like?”

I peek back at one human in the corner, but break away and shake my head. No, no, that’s not it. I’m just thinking, that’s all. I’m not here to flirt. Am I?

“Too bad,” Landi giggles. “ ‘Cause I bet you can grab any one of those guys or girls, and get ‘em to dance with ya. Maybe have a little fun later, too!” She gives me a conspiratorial nudge on the shoulder.

No, no, no need for that. I’m just here to be social with Landi. Am I supposed to be learning something right now? I shrink into my seat.

“Oh, still a little shy,” Landi says. “I got just the fix for that. Hey, girls! You wanna hit the dance floor?”

“Uh, sure, I guess,” Ellie says. “I’m not very good.”

“This isn’t college. No one’s judging your dancing,” Landi says. “Plus you’ve got way more experience than Dotti and Kayk here. We’re all gonna have fun!”

Dancing? Dancing doesn’t involve talking. I guess I can do a little of that…

“C’mon, Kayk!” Landi tugs on my turtleneck. “And, by the way, if you wanna dance with that guy over there… all you gotta do is look at him real pretty like. He’ll know what it means. But, uh, lotta guys are kinda stupid, so maybe do it two or three times. Just dance first, then try and catch his eye when you get into it!”

Just look at him? Is that it? I drop my gaze to the floor. That sounds a little aggressive, but… if that’s what it takes to be flirty, then I’ll do it!

I hop into the mix. Dancing is… kind of fun. I get all the excuses in the world to shake my arms and bob my head and wiggle around and it’s totally normal!

Dotti is doing some kind of feather duster twirl move with her tails. Tails! That’s it! I should shake my tail a lot. Will that? get the guy’s attention.

It does.

I glance over my shoulder, look at him and bat my eyes.

He looks around, surprised. His friends slap him on the shoulder and push him toward me.

Is it really that easy to flirt with words at all?

Apparently, yes.

The guy and I are dancing and we’re just kind of enjoying it, both trying a little fancier moves and soon we’re both wiggling our butts and smiling at each other.

Landi lets out a whoop. She’s carrying Genice and twirling her around midair and Genice is screeching, but it’s a good screech.
>>
No. 1037340 ID: 8483cf
File 165724587153.png - (22.56KB , 450x450 , LF6-11.png )
1037340

I decide to get a little bit more daring and do a real tail slapper. I hit the floor with the beat, and the guy is stomping his foot too, and we’re both really rocking along with the troupe and I do a real cute twirl like Dotti and-

CRACK

My tail is stuck under his foot. I stop and turn around.

Oh my gods he just stomped on my tail tip.

He jumps backward, horrified and confused, and picks my heart-tip off the ground for me. I can’t believe this just happened… my perfect record is RUINED and Jekster must NEVER KNOW.

I wave at him, indicating it’s fine, I’m not hurt, just… just give it back, please. He does, and I go to reattach it, but… it’s just not going to lock in. It’s totally busted. I hide my broken tail-tip under my sweater before anyone starts staring. I duck out of the dance floor hurriedly and return to my seat at the bar, absolutely mortified.

I bury my head in my arms. This is terrible. If I want to cover up my sensitive tail tip, I’ll need to reset myself and go all the way back to dragon form, then back to lizardfolk form. It’s difficult and takes a bit of time- I’m not nearly as great at shapeshifting as my brother Cadmus, or even as good as Tanwen. I know just enough to get by. The smartest thing to do would be to just shapeshift tomorrow morning when I have time to go out to an empty courtyard or something.

But… if I do that, then I’ll be spending the rest of the night with my tail tip out. And that spot is sensitive. I need to shapeshift a new armor piece RIGHT NOW OR ELSE.

Drunk Kayk mode is still active.
>>
No. 1037341 ID: 629f2e

Transform into a dragon and back really quickly. Novody will notice if you suddenly become the size of the room or totally wreck your sweater. We have a record at stake here!

Alternatively: Just stick your tail into your mouth, protecting it from any danger. Play it off super casual, maybe nobody will notice then.
>>
No. 1037345 ID: 899c9f

Help Genice break into the icebox and show us what she can do with all that ice!
>>
No. 1037352 ID: e51896

Support Himitsu's idea! Go to a spot where there is plenty of room so you dont break anything, and turn dragon. Then transform back


Wait, did we forget to remove our sweater beforehand? Whoops, it's torn to threads after transforming. Aw well, at least our nips isnt out like Gecko's eheheheh. Should be fine, you're still decent! And we'll get a tailor to fix our sweater later.

(if Himitsu idea is chosen along with this, then I say instead try to convince Landi to lounge in your beer as I suggested here: >>1036991 otherwise, ignore bathing Landi idea if himitsu's post isn't chosen)
>>
No. 1037408 ID: 15c72a

Try to shapeshift only your tail!
>>
No. 1037412 ID: 8688a1

Don't break the bar by shapeshifting in here! Go outside first!
>>
No. 1037443 ID: 894419

>>1037352

I agree, lets go himitsu!
>>
No. 1037459 ID: f2320a

>>1037408
Good idea
>>
No. 1037467 ID: 8483cf

rolled 2 = 2

Rolling for number of suggestions!
>>
No. 1037468 ID: 8483cf

rolled 6 = 6

Rolling the suggestion to act on (d7). Second suggestion will be rolled with the first removed (d6).
>>
No. 1037469 ID: 8483cf

rolled 6 = 6

First suggestion: >>1037443
Rolling second suggestion to act on (d6) with first removed.
>>
No. 1037471 ID: 8483cf

Second and final suggestion: >>1037459
Votes are now closed.
>>
No. 1037474 ID: 8483cf
File 165739189540.png - (50.93KB , 403x531 , LF6-12.png )
1037474

I can’t walk around with my tip out in public. There are just too many things that could happen (and I have the WORST tan line). This requires IMMEDIATE action.

Maybe I can do one of Cadmus’s tricks and just shapeshift my tail. It’s not THAT complicated, just gotta reach for just a teeny tiny bit of my bigger self and put it on my tail and oh no it’s starting to smoke please please please stop right now please stop… oh good. Is anyone looking? Double good. Yeah, that’s not going to work. I gotta do a full loop to big me and back again.

I wave to Landi and pretend I’m headed to the ladies’ room. I’m not sure she notices, ‘cause she’s pulling on Dotti’s ear and screaming something in it. Perfect. Just gotta slip outside and find a nice big spot like a park.

---

It takes a few minutes to find my way to the nearest open area. Okay, Kayk, you got this. Just work fast, big Kayk, then small Kayk, real quick like.

I stretch my sense of self larger, bigger, back to my most familiar body shape. The air simmers with heat, and for a second I’m afraid I’m going to catch on fire, but I keep it under control. There’s a lot of magic in the air right now, just keep it together and work FAST...

There’s a shredding sound as my sweater tears apart. Awwwww… I liked that sweater.

OH NO I SHREDDED MY SWEATER

Ugh! Well, can’t stop now. It’s too late. Time for the real Kayk to come out and play.
>>
No. 1037475 ID: 8483cf
File 165739190989.png - (158.48KB , 725x595 , LF6-13.png )
1037475

With a great sigh and whoosh of superheated air, it’s done.

“HOLY SHIT THAT WAS AWESOME!”

I had an audience?

“Dude, it’s a real live dragon! You’ve, like, always talked about riding one, here’s your chance! And check her OUT!”

“Oh my god shut the fuck up dude.”

OH NO I HAD AN AUDIENCE

AAHHHH

This is the last round of Drunk Kayk. Because dragon liver.
>>
No. 1037477 ID: 899c9f

The audience doesn't exist if you can't see them! Sit on him.
>>
No. 1037478 ID: e51896

Wait, we can use this to our advantage
They actually think you're cool! This might be good for your reputation!
Offer them a ride and fly around. When you're done, go to your bakery and shapeshift back, and tell them it's where you work and you'd love for them to shop there in return in the future. They'll be sure to tell their friends that a super cool dragon works at a bakery!

(Realize you shapeshifted back without your sweater after they leave. Awwww man. But hey, now word will spread about how cool we are, and our bakery!)
>>
No. 1037479 ID: a48f6d

Paw the ground like a cat and do a weird cat march.
>>
No. 1037481 ID: 629f2e

Transform back and deflect from the awkward situation with a flirt! "Everybody always wants to ride me, but I think I'd rather ride you~"

It'll be incredibly smooth, you're sure of it. Their brains will explode and lose all memories of seeing you in your true form in the middle of town.
>>
No. 1037482 ID: 9b127b

stay as dragon, stomp about, breath fire and hoard gold
>>
No. 1037491 ID: 15c72a

Do a cool pose for your admirers.
>>
No. 1037711 ID: 8483cf

rolled 3 = 3

Rolling for number of suggestions!
>>
No. 1037712 ID: 8483cf

rolled 4 = 4

Rolling the suggestion to act on (d6). Second suggestion will be rolled with the first removed (d5) and third will be rolled with both removed (d4).
>>
No. 1037713 ID: 8483cf

rolled 2 = 2

First suggestion: >>1037481

Rolling second suggestion to act on (d5) with first removed.
>>
No. 1037714 ID: 8483cf

rolled 4 = 4

Second suggestion: >>1037478

Rolling for third suggestion with first two removed (d4).
>>
No. 1037715 ID: 8483cf

Third suggestion: >>1037491
Votes are now closed.
>>
No. 1038425 ID: 8483cf
File 165809256901.png - (33.74KB , 750x450 , LF6-14.png )
1038425

“You can’t just ask to ride a dragon,” whispers the bold guy carrying a sword. He thinks I can’t hear, but I can.

“Says who?” replies his buddy. “Just ask!”

“Dude, we don’t know what might happen. Dragons do what they want.”

They’re staring at me. They’re totally staring and it’s really awkward and there’s no one to teach me how to be social. Why did I leave my group behind? I should have shapeshifted in the bar!

…Wait. No. No more property damage, Kayk. I’ve done everything right tonight. That means that whatever I do next will be right, too. So what would Landi tell me to do tonight? I’ll just pretend I’m back at the bar.

I turn around to face them, slowly so I don’t spook the tiny humans. The swordsman is spooked anyway. I give them a flutter of my eyelashes and smile softly.

“What happens if I ask to ride you?”

WOW that came out way flirtier than I expected.

Sword guy is speechless. Bold guy is giving him the biggest, smarmiest grin there is. I give them a wave of my tail and look away, very proud of my newfound socialness. Landi would be proud.

“He’d start by giving you his name,” bold guy says. “He’s Fritz the Ditz. I’m Jules. Nice to meet ya.”

I extend a claw to Fritz, who looks to Jules in exasperation. He quickly recovers shakes my claw with a nervous hand.

“Kayk,” I say.

“I-it’s a pleasure to meet you,” Fritz says. He forgets to let go of my claw, and I let him hold on until Jules claps him on the back and he remembers what he’s doing.

“Sorry about my friend,” Jules says. “It’s his first time seeing a dragon. Well, mine too, but as you can tell he’s a little starstruck. Not that you can blame him.”

I nod in understanding.

“Anyway, we were just headed out,” Jules says. “I dunno what brings you to the park when the night’s just getting started, but hey, obviously if there’s a dragon in the park, that’s where the real fun is, you know?”

I nod again. “I’m headed back to my bakery. I need a new sweater.”

“That’s a big sweater,” Fritz says. “Oh, no. I meant, ah, oops. Can we start over?”

“No,” Jules says. “This is the part where you offer to let her ride you.”

“Shit,” Fritz says. “I mean, ignore Jules. We’re just going to go now.”

“Really?” I smile. “You don’t want me to show you my bakery? It opens tomorrow. I can even give you a lift there, if you promise to spread the word…”

“Deal,” Fritz says without a moment’s hesitation. Jules gives him the thumbs-up.

I lower my tail and raise my wings. Fritz and Jules clamber up my back.

Hooray, socializing!
>>
No. 1038426 ID: 8483cf
File 165809259165.png - (37.12KB , 700x900 , LF6-15.png )
1038426

We arrive at La Pâtisserie de Minga with only minimal fuss. It’s a tight fit to stick the landing with my wingspan, but the street is wide enough for me flare and fold my wings to drop down for a just slightly rough landing. No property damage! This is great.

Jules slides down my back with ease, but Fritz catches a few of my scale edges that dig into his legs painfully. He takes it much slower after that.

“Nice place,” Jules says. “Great location.”

“Wow, that was fun. I mean, yeah!” Fritz hurriedly agrees. “I can’t wait to see you- I mean, it- in action.”

I wave them both a safe distance away. I can’t exactly go inside when I’m as big as I am right now. I take a deep breath, and the air around me heats up in a great whooshing rush. It takes longer than last time, and I’m pretty drained, but after it’s done I’m back to good old lizardfolk form, sans sweater. Oh, well. I can just grab another one from upstairs. I quickly check that I’m decent, then twirl around to give a showy pose.

Jules gives me a thumbs-up. “That’s so incredible.”

Fritz nods. He’s still a little startstruck, but hey, that was an impressive display.

“Fritz, you there? Hello?” Jules laughs. “I don’t think he expected to get a first-class ticket and a magic show tonight.”

It’s true. It’s not something I dwell on especially since I’ve spent so much time in the lair recently, but I am a dragon. Obviously. Normally it scares people, but… with these two, I think I can have a little fun. Especially Fritz.

“It could be dinner and and show,” I growl, and crouch down to all fours in my best huntress’s pose. Oh. Uh, it kind of works better when I’m in my true form, I guess.

Fritz stumbles back and falls on his butt. Jules laughs loudly as he scoots back a bit, and I can’t help but giggle too.

“She got you good,” Jules snickers. Fritz laughs too, a little half-heartedly.

That was a little mean, I guess. But it was fun, too. There’s a bit of an awkward silence.

“C’mon, Fritz,” Jules says. “We’ve got places to be. Hey, Kayk! Thanks for the lift. We’ll be sure to let everybody know about your place opening up.”

I give them a nod and a happy wag of my tail. “Please!”

They turn around and head out to meet their buddies. I, meanwhile, am dead tired after shapeshifting twice and socializing so much. I think I should probably go to bed, but Landi and Dotti and the crew don’t know where I am. There’s no easy way for me to contact them without walking all the way back, either.

Kayk has gained 2 STRESS for having some fun and socializing, but ruining a comfy sweater.

Should Kayk walk back to the bar and keep Landi in the loop, or trust that Landi and Dotti won’t freak out over Kayk leaving the bar early?

1. Walk back to the bar and fill Landi in. This will mean Kayk will start the day tomorrow TIRED.
2. Go to bed and get a good night’s sleep after shapeshifting twice in a row so close together. This is best for reducing tomorrow’s STRESS and Kayk will be WELL-RESTED.
3. Other
>>
No. 1038428 ID: e51896

B. You're an adult, AND part dragon. they know you can handle yourself. They won't worry too much about you. It's not like you're a member of their adventuring party or anything.

And if they do, daaaaaw, they really love you!
>>
No. 1038429 ID: 33e6ba

2, they'll be fine on their own, as will you. You're are responsible enough adults to be trusted eith making it home, so they'd probably at least check there first before getting panicked about what happened to you.
>>
No. 1038430 ID: 899c9f

Walk back to the bar, because Dotti and Landi alone will get into trouble.
>>
No. 1038431 ID: dee951

2. It's important to not be stressed! You're an adult, they know you can handle yourself.
>>
No. 1038432 ID: 15c72a

>>1038426
2
>>
No. 1038452 ID: 894419

>>1038426
2
>>
No. 1038972 ID: 8483cf
File 165855899750.png - (50.23KB , 504x463 , LF6-16.png )
1038972

I wake up before dawn, well rested just as planned. I carefully light the ovens with my dragonfire, securing a long, hot-burning blaze far more efficient than other bakers’ fuel sources (usually brushwood). Dotti should be able to use her own fire magic to manipulate the temperature of the waffle irons and other baking implements even within the oven, ensuring top-quality product if she pays attention.

Rev up those whisks, it’s time to make some batter!

I take a little extra time to lay out instructions in writing for Dotti to follow on what mixes to make and how much of each spice to use for special orders.

Hmm. I look at the clock outside my shop. It’s 6:15 AM, fifteen minutes later than Dotti should be arriving for her first day. That’s not good. If she doesn’t show up by 7:00 AM, I’ll have to run everything myself. It won’t be a big deal at first, but when the inevitable breakfast rush comes, I’ll be up to my armpits in orders.

In the meantime, I should get dressed. I’ve been wearing just an apron so far, but now I should stick to the plan: apron AND sweater.

What sweater should I pick?
A. A
B. B
C. C
D. D

Should I be worried about Dotti being late?
1. Yes, she is Dotti
2. No, she is Dotti
>>
No. 1038973 ID: 629f2e

B, I think brighter colors look better on your scales.

And no, don't be worried at all. You went out drinking last night, Dotti may just have had too much. You may be a bit understaffed without her, but you've run a bakery before. You know what you're doing, and lacking the new hire means she won't be having issues during the rush.
>>
No. 1038974 ID: 15c72a

>>1038972
B, 2. She probably overslept due to hangover.
>>
No. 1038975 ID: 899c9f

A2
>>
No. 1038976 ID: 18c052

B. Oddly enough, I've been thinking about how Kayk would look in a yellow sweater for a while, and here it is!

2. She's probably hungover and would probably make things worse than if she wasnt here.
Besides, you just opened your business. With the only advertising we gave out was those two locals through word of mouth. It's not like we're going to get a ton of customers on our first day.
>>
No. 1040536 ID: 8483cf
File 166018384740.png - (9.52KB , 500x550 , LF6-17.png )
1040536

Dotti is more likely than not hung over from last night. Maybe I shouldn’t have asked if she could come along…

Not a problem! I can run the shop by myself, especially on the first day when few people know it’s open. When things get busy, I’ll need help, but until then I’ll be fine.

I place my signs out, set up my menus on the glass display, and throw open the shutters to the street outside. La Pâtisserie de Minga is open for business! I wait eagerly for the morning crowds to fill the streets.

In the first hour from 7:00-8:00 I get lots of curious glances, but no customers. I guess they’ll have to adjust their routines to decide to get breakfast or coffee from me, instead of their regular favorites.

AT 8:10 I get my first customer! He’s a young man carrying a stack of books. He does a double-take.

“Whoa, a dragon…” he says, staring at my horns.

I nod.

“Do you, like, heat up the waffles in front of me with fire breath?” he asks.

I shake my head. I don’t want to have any accidents.

“Oh,” he says, disappointed. “Well… I’ll take a waffle with strawberries and cream, then.” He hands over the money.

I hop to it! I heat the waffle iron up hot with a quick, intense burst of fire breath and pour the batter in. It cooks much, much faster than a regular waffle iron, and because it’s my own fire, I’m sure he’ll be able to taste my burning passion for tasty pastries.

When it’s done less than a minute later, I serve it up to him. He’s set the books down on a nearby table and is shocked at how fast I was able to cook it up. I wave at him to get his attention.

“Whoa,” he says. “That was fast.” He takes a bite. “And good!”

I give him a smile.

Customer satisfied!

I serve a few coffees after that and a few breakfast pastries, but no waffles. My shop’s not very busy.

At 9:50 I spot Dotti making her way up the street. She looks an absolute wreck: her fur is disheveled and her eyes are sunken, and she’s worn down from her trip over.

“I’m sorry,” Dotti says, panting hard, as if she’s run the whole way. “I won’t be late again, I promise.”

What do I say to her?
>>
No. 1040537 ID: 899c9f

That's on us for taking her drinking all night before her first day. Tell her to go inside and clean up, and focus on making a good second impression.
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No. 1040538 ID: 629f2e

Make it completely clear that you don't blame her at all on this occasion. It was your choice to take her out, and she'd never gotten hammered before. Considering how strong those drinks Landi ordered for them were, that she still came in before noon is a miracle.

Gently remind her not to make a habit of going out drinking and then showing up late for work. Just this once though, she gets a complete pass.

Take a few minutes to catch your breath and brush your fur, and then come back to the kitchen and get started.
>>
No. 1040550 ID: e51896

Give her a pass since this was partly our fault for bringing her for a drink, let her know we'll consider this is a learning experience to not go out heavily drinking or party on a night before work.

Tell her to go ahead and catch her breath, take her time to clean herself up, and get started. Oh yeah, And let her there's no need to rush getting ready. It's slow right now.

Oh yeah, and get her some water. Hydrate the fox.
>>
No. 1040556 ID: 15c72a

>>1040536
Tell her you understand, she got drunk for the first time, and you brought her along in the first place. But she needs to clean herself up a bit. Appearances are important.
>>
No. 1041485 ID: 8483cf
File 166112270179.png - (107.60KB , 414x423 , LF6-18.png )
1041485

“I completely understand,” I say. “Just don’t make a habit of going out and drinking too much before work.”

Dotti nods, and some of the tension in her posture lets out. I give her a big glass of water and she eagerly drinks it down.

“Take a minute to get composed,” I say. “I’ll be back in a minute to introduce you to everything you’ll be doing to make the food.”

I let Dotti get herself together. It’s still very slow at the moment, so I can afford to leave the front unattended for a minute. I slip into the back and bring some extra-large hairnets.

“First things first,” I say. “Humans have very high standards for cleanliness. We have to keep your fur under control. If any customer sees a single strand of fur in their food, I’m out of business for good. Could you please put these on? I’ll help with your tails.”

Dotti doesn’t protest at the hairnets or gloves. I wonder how she’ll do in the back so close to the oven.

“Is it too hot?” I ask. Dotti shakes her head, but I have to wonder how truthful she’s being. “I don’t want you to overheat.”

“I’m fine,” Dotti says. “I’ll… uh… use my fire magic to make myself cooler.”

“You can do that?” I say, surprised.

“Yes,” Dotti says, but her voice is uncertain.

I make it clear that she shouldn’t try it if she can’t do it, but she tells me she’s certain she can cool herself safely. Fire magic is manipulation and conjuration of fire. I’ve never heard of fire magic being used to cool someone off, especially since fox-fire works best on actual flames (not the air itself), and ice magic is the subset of cooling and thermodynamics, not fire. But Cadmus would be the one to know the details, and Dotti is a fox spirit, so… maybe she can actually do what she’s saying.

“You can take off the hairnets and gloves if you get hungry or too hot,” I say, “But make sure you do it away from any food or ingredients. You can help yourself to extra food if you get hungry, too, but nothing that’s already been sampled or eaten. Absolutely no taking items from the trash or customers’ plates.”

Dotti nods.

I walk her through the basics of how to bake the batter for a few different breakfast foods before a customer shows up and asks for coffee.

The day goes by without event. I don’t get many customers, but I do get a large number of people glancing at me and pointing to their companions. I think they’re going to spread the word that I’m open. Great!

I take a little extra time at the end of the day to fill Dotti in on cooking more pastries. She should be able to help tomorrow morning.

-Dotti gained 30 STRESS last night for unknown reasons.
-Dotti has gained 15 STRESS this morning for being late to work and having a monstrous hangover.
-Dotti has gained 5 STRESS learning that Kayk is going to waste a lot of food.

KAYK STRESS: [37/100]
DOTTI STRESS: [60/100]



It’s midday, and we’re done closing up. Dotti is munching on an unsold pastry in the back alley but appears unhappy, visibly stressed, and I’m guessing she wants to go back to the adventurers’ guild as quickly as possible. Is there anything I can do to help her, or should I just let her go?
>>
No. 1041486 ID: 899c9f

Dotti is probably lying, to your benefit she thinks. Don't confront her on it, but do try and think of ways to help her cool off - a bucket of ice brought in every morning, for example.
Why don't we go for ice cream now to commemorate her first day on the job?
>>
No. 1041487 ID: e5709d

>>1041485
Wait.
Dotti is probably talking about convection of heat - an advanced technique which uses directional heat sources at targeted positions to drain heated matter away, thus making the average temperature cooler.

There's an opportunity for ice cream and air conditioning here.
Talk to Dotti, see if she can work on inventing some kind of vacuum refrigerant unit for storing cold pastries and cream treats. You'll give her more leeway the more stuff she invents.

Even if she can't figure it out, she can use her fire magic to keep the bakery warm during winter, which is a plus.
>>
No. 1041488 ID: e51896

ask if Dotti would like a ride home since she wants to go home asap. you can give her a ride as a dragon... just make sure she holds on to your sweater so that you don't ruin it again.

Or perhaps offer to walk her home if she wants someone to talk to on her way home. (that way, we can tell Serah that Dotti did a great job on her first day, Dotti might appreciate that)
>>
No. 1041489 ID: e51896

>>1041487
ooooh! that's also a good idea!
>>
No. 1041490 ID: 629f2e

Take her home, but do something special. Give her an advance on her first day's pay, so she has some money to call her own.
>>
No. 1041491 ID: dee951

Ask Dotti what you can do to make things easier for her. Something is very obviously bugging her, and you want to be proactive in smoothing things over before they become an issue!

And... has Dotti cracked using fire magic rather than ice for thermodynamic manipulation?? Dang. That's, uh. Kind of a big deal.
>>
No. 1041496 ID: 8483cf
File 166113041234.png - (9.17KB , 500x500 , LF6-19.png )
1041496

I really feel bad for Dotti. She’s had a hard life, and it doesn’t look like things are getting better for her. At least my mom isn’t threatening to eat her, so that’s something good, right?

I’m not one for motivational speeches. I wish Serah was here to cheer Dotti up. Um… maybe I can tell her the truth?

“You did well on your first day,” I tell Dotti. “You tried very hard to learn everything about breakfast prep. You’ll do very well tomorrow.”

Dotti doesn’t respond.

“Um… you can go home if you want,” I say. “Or… uh… I can help you cool down. Have you tried ice cream?”

“Iced cream?” Dotti’s ears perk up. “Is it cold cream?”

“With lots of sugar,” I nod.

“I like sugar,” Dotti says.

I take off my apron and smile. “Ice cream it is.”

We head a few blocks over and visit a small parlor. It’s expensive to keep ice cream cold, so it’s a relatively rare treat. Has actually figured out how to use fire magic to cool things down?

“This parlor would love to learn your idea about cooling with fire magic,” I say, making sure not to pin Dotti into a corner. “Even if it’s not perfect or doesn’t work as well as you thought, they might improve on it.”

“It works fine,” Dotti says quickly. “It, uh, only works for fox spirits. So they can’t have it. I’m fine, okay?”

I sigh. Dotti probably was lying about having come up with something, but she might have an actual idea if she puts effort into developing it. Fire magic is born of strong passion, which normally means it can only raise the temperature, but it still uses thermodynamics at some point in the fire creation process. Maybe someone smarter than me could figure out how to take that idea and turn it into something workable.

Dotti laps up her ice cream with gusto. She really likes it.

I take a moment to count out a few silver coins I took from the register and put them on the table. Dotti looks at me, confused.

“This is an advance on your pay,” I say. “You can use it on more ice cream, or new bows, or whatever you want. It’s yours.”

“Why?” Dotti looks at me, brow furrowed.

I’m a little shocked at Dotti’s suspicion. “Because… because work is hard, but in society, you get rewarded well if you try at it. You tried hard, and you earned it.”

Dotti takes the money and looks at the ice cream, then down at her dress. She glances to one side.

“I shouldn’t…” Dotti says, her illusory voice wavering. “I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t be getting useless money and eating ice cream. I should be out looking for Petra. I should be helping Serah.”

Oh. So that’s what this is about.

“You helped her write many, many letters,” I say. “You did all you could. Those letters will cover more ground in a month than you could travel in years.”

“You could help me,” Dotti says forcefully. “You could fly me all over the kingdom. We could find Petra in… in… a week if you and I really looked for her.”

I pause. She probably didn’t expect to sound so accusatory. Or did she?

What should I say?
>>
No. 1041498 ID: 899c9f

You'd love to, but other people have needs too. If you abandoned your bakery now, everything you'd worked so hard for would go down the drain.
>>
No. 1041499 ID: dee951

Do you know any other long distance fliers of any, uh, appropriately affable disposition, who can carry someone Dotti's size who don't have so many community ties preventing their aid? Or someone who is REALLY good at teleportation magic? Maybe you could put Dotti in touch with someone appropriate?
>>
No. 1041500 ID: e5709d

Explain that you aren't strong enough to barge into thousands of homes and hundreds of fortresses without dying. Some homes give out little gossips about what goes on in them, so that's how you need to search.
>>
No. 1041501 ID: 629f2e

That's true, we could do that. But are you willing to take the risks that come with it?

Say we go all around the kingdom, and don't find her. What then? Do we do it again? Maybe we just barely missed her in one of the cities, or perhaps she's living on the outskirts outside of the scope of our search. It's not impossible.

But will you be able to deal with the thoughts it'll bring. Your mind will happily supply the worst case scenarios to explain why we couldn't find her, and not seeing her on our trip will feel like evidence supporting it. Are you prepared to handle your worst fears gaining new legs to stand on?
>>
No. 1041502 ID: e51896

Let her know you owe Lady Kensington so much money, and this bakery is the only way you can repay her for everything she's done for you. If you leave the bakery now after starting it, you might not be able to afford to keep it if you miss out on paying your debts and get the place repossessed...

Plus, you're not an adventurer, and if you were, flying around to search for Petra might take longer than Dotti thinks, as Petra might not even be in this kingdom, but really anywhere in this ginormous world. and flying around the world would definitely take more than a week.

Basically, just like Dotti, you have your own dreams and passion to fulfill. But Dotti should know that while she is taking great priority and wants all her focus in searching for Petra, she owes it to herself to rest and take breaks, and reward herself like eating ice cream like she is now, and most importantly, appreciate the people who care and love her now, like Serah! Otherwise, she'd be too stressed to make rational decisions in her search for Petra.
>>
No. 1041509 ID: 15c72a

>>1041496
A week? I doubt it. Dotti probably doesn't know how big the world is. Maybe you can show her a map?
Let's take her idea seriously and consider the flight plan you'd need to take to help her go around asking for Petra, then give her an estimate, assuming you actually take breaks for meals and sleep and so on. Also, you'd need to take time at each town to ask around, so... about a day for each town? More for large cities? Then you'd also have to account for travel costs. Like, room and board, meals, etc. Dotti may be fine eating trash and living in the woods, but you aren't.

Also you'd be spending time away from your bakery, which is a loss. So it wouldn't just be a problem of time, but money-- you would need to be compensated for closing down your business, and for travel expenses. Once Dotti has enough money for that, you'd gladly do it, because at that point why not?
>>
No. 1041512 ID: 8483cf
File 166113731771.png - (86.36KB , 500x482 , LF6-20.png )
1041512

What Dotti’s asking for is unlimited rides all over the kingdom, and beyond. Who might have enough free time and the willpower to do all that?



I mean, ASIDE from my little brother, who isn’t even strong enough to carry Lady Kensington’s retinue.

I mean, I suppose I could ask my family to help. Cadmus would be curious enough, but he needs to go to university soon, and he would get distracted during the trips anyway. Hunny wouldn’t help, he’d just tell Dotii to stay put and wait for letters, since if a response comes in, she’d need to be in Minga to receive it. Tanwen would refuse for obvious reasons… or would she? I don’t think we can count on her. I could ask my eldest brother and eldest sister, either. They have their own commitments.

And I have my own commitments, too. How can I grow my bakery if I’m not running it?

Oh, this is going to be a difficult conversation…

“We… we could search the entire kingdom, but how long would it take?” I ask Dotti.

“Until I find her,” Dotti says. “It would go a lot faster if we were actually searching instead of writing.”

“Maybe,” I say. “But how long would searching one town take? Or a big city like Minga? How can you be sure you didn’t miss picking out Petra in an entire city?”

“Not long at all,” Dotti says. “We’ll show up, I’ll ask everyone for a lady Petra’s age, and then they’ll all have to tell me if they’ve seen her.”

I worry if the people Dotti questions would have any choice but to respond truthfully. Dotti has sworn not to harm anyone with magic while in Minga, but that doesn’t strictly apply outside the city.

“Assuming we could search all of a city in one day,” I say, “There are many, many cities. More than seven. Long enough to keep you and me away from the bakery, and for Minga to forget it was ever open.”

“So it would take longer than a week,” Dotti says. “A month. Two months! Still faster than doing nothing. I don’t want to work for you if it means not searching for Petra. What good is money, really? Nothing matters if I can’t find her!”

Dotti’s ice cream is melting.

You matter,” I say.

Dotti doesn’t respond.

“You can still do things that make you happy and search for Petra,” I say. “Like earn money and eat ice cream. I can’t fly you all over the kingdom, Dotti. I’m not strong enough or rich enough to feed myself and you the whole time. Serah has to send more letters and collect the ones that come back, too.”

More silence. And then…

“Please help me,” Dotti says softly. “Please.”

“I will,” I say. “I can fly you to wherever you think Petra is. But I can’t fly everywhere.”

“I don’t know where she is.”

“Then we have to be patient,” I say. “And have faith Serah’s letters will come back with good news. I promise I’ll fly you out as soon as one comes back with a good lead.”

“I don’t want to wait,” Dotti says. She lets out a deep sigh and begins lapping up her melting ice cream, which is all over her paw by now.

I decide not to remind her to clean the paw before tomorrow’s work.

Dotti has lost 15 STRESS.

KAYK STRESS: [37/100]
DOTTI STRESS: [45/100]


I walk Dotti back to the guild and see her inside.

Do I want to stop by and chat with anyone in there? It will be brief.

A. A member of Lady Kensington’s retinue
B. A member of the guild
C. One of Landi’s friends
D. No, it’s time to end the day’s errands
>>
No. 1041513 ID: 899c9f

Talk to Landi's friend!
>>
No. 1041514 ID: e51896

Either A to ask them to pass a message to Serah that Dotti did a good job
Or B, see if we can get someone to come to our bakery tomorrow.

Lean towards A
>>
No. 1041520 ID: 629f2e

Let's go with B, what does B hold for us?
>>
No. 1041672 ID: 8483cf
File 166131389607.png - (106.17KB , 400x500 , LF6-21.png )
1041672

We arrive back at the guild. Dotti runs inside, eager to hear if Serah has received any letters, despite having sent most of them out only a few days ago. She narrowly avoids bowling over a walking, talking beard.

“Pardon me,” says the beard. Dotti doesn’t notice him, but that only makes sense because he’s barely two and a half feet tall. Even for a half-gnome, half-halfling, he’s short. I’m know I’m jumping to conclusions, but there’s only one kind of person that has a beard, hat and shoes like that.

I scratch the back of my neck and bow my head.

“No need to apologize,” the beard says. “I’ve learned to keep out of punting range. Much safer.”

I look inside the guild. My mind wanders back to last night, and Fritz. Maybe he’s here? There’s a few adventurers there, but none I recognize. Someone brushes by me and I quickly jolt back to reality as I realize I’m blocking the door.

“Come in, come in,” says the half-gnome, half-halfling. “You look like you’ve had a full day. Are you the baker Dotti’s been so excited to work for?”

I nod, and follow the bearded, hatted, shoed fellow into the guild hall. He conjures up two crystal glasses of ice-cold water, clear and fresh as a glacier. He helps himself and offers the other to me, and I accept graciously. It’s just as fresh as the water at mom’s lair. Yep, he’s a wizard for sure.

“I’m happy your fox spirit friend has something to keep her occupied,” the wizard says. “It’s good to know she’ll be well-fed, too, and won’t be raiding the supply pantry. Have you seen her eating any jerky lately?”

I shake my head no.

“She’s learned to be patient on some level, then,” the wizard says to himself. I have no idea what he’s talking about, but it’s true that Dotti has learned to be at least somewhat patient, at least when it comes to searching for Petra.

“Are you here to see Lady Kensington?” the wizard asks. “She’s left for the City Hall an hour ago, I’m afraid. Of course, you’re welcome to stay here until she returns, but I imagine the Council meeting will run late tonight.”

I shake my head no. I’ll just run into her whenever I run into her, I suppose.

“In any case, make yourself at home,” the wizard says. “It's a small world. Your father helped my clan once before, and I’m happy to pay it forward. If there’s anything you need, or magical advice you’d like to seek, feel free to ask.”

Do I want to ask for any advice, favors or spells from the half-gnome half-halfling half-monk half-wizard?
>>
No. 1041673 ID: e51896

You're too shy to ask for magical favors and stuff (and I can't really think of anything)...

although... maybe we can ask him some advice on how to be a little less nervous, or less shy in a social setting? Advice on gaining confidence in talking to others, or like if you need to deal with a rude customer?

If not that, then maybe just ask him to come over to your bakery if he wants, since you're starting out.
>>
No. 1041694 ID: b7732e

We can ask him about his life and adventures!

Also spells that help with baking and finding long lost friends.
>>
No. 1041915 ID: 8483cf
File 166156285255.png - (24.79KB , 500x500 , LF6-22.png )
1041915

I’m too nervous to really make conversation with the beard wizard, but I do my best.

“Do you… um… know any spells to find long-lost friends?”

“One or two,” the wizard says, “Though the longer they’ve been lost, the harder it is to reach the friend. Is this about Dotti? She asked for my aid last night at the bar, and unfortunately the spell did not resolve in searching for her friend Petra. The result was very odd; normally, the locator spell would return a result of positive (meaning target found), negative (target not found), or null (unable to acquire target due to interference, insufficient specificity, or lack of focusing object) but in this case the spell did not complete, no matter how many times I cast it. It was as if the spell had never been cast at all.”

That’s extremely unsettling, and might explain why Dotti is so stressed. That, and whatever happened afterward.

It’s getting crowded in here and there’s no Landi to bail me out. I bow my head in thanks and leave the guild behind.

-----

Day 2

Dotti shows up right on time and we get to work splendidly.

The first customer shows up at 7:15 and orders coffee, and Dotti makes it with no issue. Success!

The second customer orders a waffle at 7:30 and sits at a table waiting. I don’t know what to talk about, so they just read their newspaper and wait for the waffle. I serve it once Dotti’s done baking the batter and they look pleased.

The customer is in a hurry, though, and they get up to leave their waffle half-eaten. They appeared to enjoy the waffle, though, so it’s not a big deal. I look back at Dotti. She’s just standing at the griddle and drumming her paws on the table. I decide not to tell her about the wasted food, and-

“Hey! Are you gonna eat that or not?!”

Dotti, in full hairnet gear, appears out of thin air in front of the customer who’s about to leave, and scares him so badly he drops his paper. The Dotti in the kitchen is still drumming her paws. It’s an illusion!

“I’m sorry, who- what- how-“

“You’re wasting food that could feed starving animals and people!” Dotti lets out a harsh gekker at him, and he goes white as sheet.

This is bad.

How should I deal with Angry Fox Spirit vs. Terrified Customer?
>>
No. 1041916 ID: 629f2e

Rush to the scene and pick Dotti up. Apologize to the customer and inform them that Dotti isn't meant to be dealing with customers yet. Then drag her off to the back to scold her.
>>
No. 1041917 ID: 12b116

Well she's right you know
>>
No. 1041918 ID: 899c9f

Scold Dotti for using illusion magic to shirk duties.
Do you offer to-go containers?
>>
No. 1041919 ID: dee951

You are going to have to offer this customer something complementary as an apology, of course.
>>
No. 1041940 ID: e51896

We're going to have to let Dotti know the rule that "the customer is always right".
...
unless they insult us or physically harm us, then we have a right to not provide service. But even then, let Dotti know if a customer's actions is bothering her in some way to not take action and instead come to you FIRST, and you'll deal with it.

Plus, remind Dotti how often she sees people waste food at the guild she goes to, this stuff just happens, people just can't gauge how much they can eat before feeling bloated and not be able to finish. But assure Dotti you will look into offering carry out containers for customers who don't finish their food next time.

yeah, we'll have to compensate the customer, either half-off or free meal for their next visit, or just give them their money back.
>>
No. 1041949 ID: 15c72a

>>1041915
>spell refused to give a result
Hmm. Sounds like it worked but the reality of the situation is very strange so the spell didn't work properly. I'm guessing it's a mixed result- Petra somehow exists but also doesn't at the same time. If Petra had been killed by the soul-eaters, the spell would say so. I suspect what happened is that Petra's soul was injured, and it somehow fused with something else nearby in order to recover. She's become something new, but the locator spell doesn't know how to communicate that. Target *partially* found.
Something to bring up with your family, perhaps?

>Dotti vs customer
Apologize to the customer, scold Dotti for using illusion magic to get past you and surprise him, and in private tell Dotti if she cares that much she can set aside leftover food in a clean container and then at the end of the day you and her can decide what to do with it instead of throwing it away. She can eat her fill, no doubt, and since it didn't get put in the garbage can it should be sanitary enough. Feeding wild animals is risky though since they can get aggressive.
Also teach her the basics of customer service while the store's empty, so she understands exactly how badly she screwed up just now. And also she's getting her first official warning for that.
>>
No. 1041952 ID: dee951

>>1041940

That rule is...very much problematic. Essentially, it's more, 'the customer is never assumed to be wrong', and it's about treating their complaints at face value and focusing on providing a high standard of service. Dotti is going to need some training on this, oof!

Anyway, figuring out a way to minimize food waste is obviously very important to Dotti. Maybe you could spend some time figuring out how to lower the amounts of food waste that the business produces, and make sure that scraps go to some sort of societal benefit? Donating marginal or not sellable product to those with food insecurity at the end of the day? Or how about doing an active composting or a worm farm for the product that's not even appropriate for that? Is that something Dotti can research and spearhead? Maybe she can get many of the kitchens and restaurants in town to coordinate such things at some point? It might be a good way for her to feel productive if she's waiting for news on her friend...
>>
No. 1041970 ID: 8877a2

>>1041915
Seems Dotty despises now food waste in general. Not surprising for someone that experienced malnutrition at some point in life. Perhaps we could find a way to dispose of the food differently from the rest. As pigfeed for example or put it in the woods. Old bread could even used like firewood, if dried out enough.
>>
No. 1042016 ID: 8483cf
File 166164441076.png - (7.96KB , 500x500 , LF6-23.png )
1042016

This poor customer is scared to death. I need to intervene IMMEDIATELY.

I grab Dotti under the armpits and drag her back inside. Thankfully, she doesn’t object, but she does stare daggers at the customer the whole way. Then I reach inside the register, grab the money the customer paid for their breakfast, and rush it back to him.

“….Sorry,” I say, head down. “It won’t happen again.”

The customer takes the money, but drops it on seeing Dotti staring at him through the shop window. With utter terror in his eyes, he seizes his breakfast plate, crams the half-eaten waffle into his mouth, and walks away as quickly as he can.

Short of Dotti actually attacking a customer, I don’t know how that could possibly have gone any worse. I pick the money back up and set it inside the register, and Dotti seems extremely proud of herself.

“That was absolutely unacceptable,” I say, and I’m tempted to take a page out of Tanwen’s book and seize Dotti by the ear, but I restrain myself. “If he tells anyone about this, I could lose my bakery, Dotti.”

Dotti grumbles a bit, but seems slightly worried.

“We are here to serve the customer, not order them around,” I say. “If you’re so concerned about food wastage, then I’ll make it clear that to-go boxes are not optional, or… or… something. But you can’t ever threaten or make customers uncomfortable again.”

“It worked, though,” Dotti says. “I mean, uh, yes, Miss Terrorscale.”

I can’t help but scowl. Did Landi tell her to call me that?

It’s time for drastic action. I pull out a piece of paper and write down Dotti’s first Official Warning.

“What’s that?” Dotti asks.

“It’s a warning,” I say. “If you do something that threatens to put me out of business, Dotti, I’m going to write it down. If you do it again…”

Um… what happens if Dotti gets too many warnings? I can’t exactly say I’ll tell Serah on her, because that implies I won’t tell Serah until she gets too many warnings.
>>
No. 1042019 ID: e51896

Too many warnings, and you WON'T fly her and help her to find Petra when Serah gets confirmation of her location.
>>
No. 1042020 ID: 899c9f

You'll have to do everything yourself, because this is not a jobs program. Dotti is supposed to make running the bakery easier, and if she is making it harder then you have no choice but to cut her loose and try to find someone else. (...You can fire her, right?)
>>
No. 1042021 ID: 629f2e

"I'll ask Landi to correct your behavior however she sees fit."
>>
No. 1042022 ID: 2ca3ce

You hired dotti to make running the store easier so you can make money, dotti is working ton understand the value of money and the work she needs to put in.

I dont think Kayk is the kind of person to hold work-performance over dotti's head for something that she's personally going for, because I feel like they're friends or at least positive leaning acquaintences.

So I don't think you should have it be the petra punishment, instead, I think it should be three strikes and then Landi will correct her behavior, because you know Landi would love an excuse to torture dotti, and that even if you are out of the picture, Landi and Dotti cant be seperated because landi is attached to serah.

if the behavior continues beyond that, then you should intervene with Serah, whom I assume Dotti sees as the ultimate authority, and if you reach the 6th strike, then Dotti will have to be fired. I think that minor infractions probably won't be warning worthy, like simple messes up or losing food, but things like this that count as major infractions would be the ones that count for this tracking list.
>>
No. 1042024 ID: e5709d

It's clear that Dotti's 'upbringing' as a Ruined Wild survivor means she has no idea what a 'diet' is and values food itself more than manners.

Threaten to make her watch the "Instructions For Plebians" theater, a decadent show about wasting food in ridiculous displays that hilariously fail at whatever the title of the episode is. She'll be exposed to the sight of literal tons of surplus produce mashed on the floor along with metal scraps, cow urine, and the troupe leader's obsession with pouring lard on everything.

tl;dr threaten exposure therapy with How to Basic - Fantasy Version.
>>
No. 1042030 ID: 15c72a

>>1042016
Normally if you get three writeups within a small enough time period you get fired.
Allowing Landi the opportunity to punish her would probably work better though, and you have more flexibility as to how many warnings she gets before the punishment.
Though obviously if she's enough of a menace then she becomes a liability and really can't work here anymore.
>>
No. 1042070 ID: dee951

>>1042020
>>1042030

Do not even MENTION firing her. This is *NOT* some horrible pseudo-free market corporate gig where employees are easily replaceable and there to be exploited! This is a small business that is built on interpersonal relationships and respect and reputation! Dotti is essentially, in many ways, a CHILD and should *not* be held to the 'urban jungle, everyone for themselves, sink or swim' standard!!!

Also do NOT threaten to not fly her to save a friend. This is a JOB, it is NOT the most important thing in the world!!! People and happiness and safety are by far, more important!

The Landi plan is a good one. Also, it's obvious you're going to have to educate her on systemic food waste in the business sector and WHY it is unavoidable, and what ways people have come up with to mitigate it.
>>
No. 1043022 ID: 8483cf
File 166241509569.png - (13.79KB , 500x500 , LF6-24.png )
1043022

Even if Dotti is endangering my livelihood, there are some lines I just won’t cross. I won’t threaten to refuse to search for Petra. Likewise, I won’t threaten to fire her unless there’s no other option.

“Dotti, if you do anything that makes me write three of these,” I say, “Then it’s obvious you’re not listening to what I tell you.”

“Because I’m right,” Dotti says. She rips off her hairnet and gloves and throws them on the ground. “I won’t help make food for customers that are just going to throw it away! I won’t!”

I can feel my temper rising. “I told you, Dotti,” I say, voice level, “There are options to reduce or eliminate food waste. If you won’t listen to me, then I’ll have to ask for help. From Landi.

Dotti takes a step back. “She won’t help you. She’s too lazy!”

“We both know she’d be happy to help.”

Dotti shrinks back. “You… you’re just like her. You’re going to let her zap me if I don’t follow your orders, aren’t you?”

Zap? Oh. The contract.

“I won’t let her zap you,” I say. “But I’m sure she can come up with suitable favors as punishments.”

The anger in Dotti’s eyes anger fizzles out. She drops her gaze to the cobblestones.

“I hate Landi,” Dotti says softly. “I hate her, and I hate the contract. She makes me do the worst things, like wear collars that say ‘worst fox’ and take baths. I hate it so much.”

From what I remember, Dotti’s contract is what prevents her from breaking laws, and guarantees her room and board.

Do I trust Dotti enough to offer to help end her contract?
>>
No. 1043024 ID: 5499f4

No, just this encounter alone has proved that if those restrictions weren't in place, she would do whatever she wants. If she wants to remove the contract she has to earn the right and prove she deserves it to them. It isn't your job to do this, and you're already going above and beyond for an employee/friend by offering to personally fly her to her friends location if she's discovered. going beyond that is pushing beyond your means and probably is antithetical to your desires.

Would she really stay with you if she broke the contract? She just said she'd run off to find petra if she could.
>>
No. 1043029 ID: 515982

Nope. See: Everything she just said!
>>
No. 1043033 ID: e51896

Seems Dotti still has a lot to learn about what it means to be human, so we can't help her break the contract just yet. Though I think it's time we have Landi stop abusing her powers.

Let Dotti knows that if she doesn't want Landi to treat her like an animal, she needs to stop acting like an animal and learn MANNERS and ETIQUETTE like good functioning humans do, especially if she's WANTS to be one. and if she learns to not threaten or hurt people for minor things like wasting food, or for other selfish reasons, then you'll see about getting Landi to stop abusing her powers on her and get her to stop treating her like a slave animal.

But if Dotti continues acting out, then yeah, you're going to have to ask Landi for her assistance.
>>
No. 1043036 ID: 15c72a

>>1043022
Tell her bathing is what civilized people do, to avoid being smelly and avoid spreading disease. Can't comment on the collar thing.
Also no, don't try to get the contract nullified, that's Serah's business.
>>
No. 1043037 ID: 629f2e

Big reply incoming.

Okay, let's get the obvious out of the way.

SHOULD YOU HELP BREAK DOTTI'S CONTRACT?

No, that's a terrible idea.

If you break the contract, then that also breaks the main agreement to provide Dotti with room and board. Serah could of course continue to offer such, but it would put her in a position where she could make as many requests as she wants in exchange for it since they wouldn't have a pre-made agreement. And while Serah isn't a jerk exactly, do you really want to give her that much power over Dotti? Dotti is just starting to become more independent, but damaging her main pillar of support at the moment could hinder that.

Also, pretty big provision that we'd be losing:

> Dotti shall comply with all applicable laws of all jurisdictions she is present within, unless Fairy or Serah waives this clause, or completion of a Favor requires noncompliance to achieve, or Dotti's Duty to Protect requires noncompliance to achieve.

Considering how mad she was with that last customer, this is the most important provision and it's in her best interest that she stays bound to it.

That doesn't mean we can't help her though, just that we need to change our tunes a little bit.

CAN YOU HELP ALTER DOTTI'S CONTRACT?

Let's quickly review the compensation section of Dotti's contract, going way outside of Kayk's sphere of knowledge:

> a. Fairy shall receive three (3) Favors from Dotti every day. Favors do not accrue. Favors cannot be requested when Dotti is unconscious.
> b. Serah shall receive three (3) Favors from Dotti every day. Favors do not accrue. Favors cannot be requested when Dotti is unconscious. In the event that Favors granted to Serah conflict with Favors granted to Fairy, Serah's favors shall control.
> c. Dotti will treat Fairy and Serah with courtesy and respect.
> d. Fairy may use Dotti as a bed. Upon Fairy's request, Dotti shall fluff herself to Fairy's satisfaction.

I think we can agree that "b" isn't an issue at this point in time. Serah is less likely to abuse her favors in ways Dotti will greatly dislike, and she's directly responsible for Dotti having a place to stay and good food to eat. Considering the fact that Serah needs to get SOMETHING for this contract to be valid, let's agree for now to leave this point unaltered.

Allow me to pose a simple question now. Beyond arbitrating this contract, what has Landi actually given to Dotti in return for getting 3 favors, a fluffy bed atop Dotti's body, and contractual courtesy/respect?

Because the short answer seems to be literally nothing.

Landi shouldn't have favors. Full stop. Dotti has already expressed how much she hates having to give into Landi's whims, so that provision needs to be fully scrubbed from this contract.

If Landi would like to continue to benefit from points C and D, then there should be an exchange on Landi's behalf. Mostly for D. Honestly it seems like the simplest solution for C would be to add a provision binding Landi to treat Dotti with the same courtesy/respect Dotti has to provide her if Landi wants to keep that up.

So in short, instead of ending the contract altogether, what Dotti REALLY needs is to take away all of the provisions that give Landi uncompensated benefits.

SHOULD YOU HELP ALTER IT?

You're actually thankful that Dotti is taking baths, but there's really no good way to explain away that "Worst Fox" collar thing. It's small, but Dotti brought it up very clearly as something she didn't like, while also mentioning that she'd get zapped if she didn't comply. That should raise enough red flags to get you to think "MAYBE she's made a bad arrangement and could use some assistance."

You may not be a lawyer, but you're at least capable of talking to Serah and bringing up Dotti's concerns to her. Serah is a reasonable woman, at the bare minimum she'll tell Landi to cool it with the shittier favors. If you push hard enough, you may get a full renegotiation.

All of this finally brings us right back to the present, and the fact that we just had to comp a customer's meal because Dotti, our employee, is acting like a little shit. Should we really be doing her favors under those circumstances?

Yes, but conditionally. Nothing major, just something that will give her a chance to consider her behavior and improve. Keep it really simple.

"If you can go just three days without receiving an official warning, it'll show me that you're trying your best. Do that, and I'll help you talk to Serah about your contract."
>>
No. 1043039 ID: 2a82d3

>Do I trust Dotti enough to offer to help end her contract?
Not sure you could look at her face right now and say no. Not without wondering if she been getting too little carrot, and too much stick. She might be acting on what's been done onto her. Maybe she doesn't need rewards, she needs empathy.

Think about it this way: You're both creatures of fire, right? Your parents raised you well, but you're probably used to growing up around high tempers. So consider Dotti like you would your little sister.

Imagine what it would take for a DRAGON to be bound to a contract similar to Dotti's.
>>
No. 1043044 ID: 24fd33

>>1043037
This sounds like a good idea. If dotti can go for a set amount of time with no warnings, and one warning is removed every morning
>>
No. 1043048 ID: ba93b2

>>1043022
Raise the question with Dotti that while she may be right that food waste is wrong, it's also inappropriate for her to go against her teachings on manners and propriety.

Also, she shouldn't judge people for not being able to or wanting to eat more. People get full, and you can't always judge when that'll happen. On that note, surely SHE would get full eventually too, if she were allowed to lick every plate clean, right? So it's not exactly a complete solution to let her eat all the scraps, and she shouldn't complain because someone else can't finish their food.
>>
No. 1043050 ID: 24fd33

>>1043048
Warn Dotti that her ass wil be even fatter than yours if she does that
>>
No. 1043055 ID: dee951

Discuss maybe amending the contract. It has good parts and bad parts. The good parts are very good, the bad ones VERY bad. She should NOT be subject to humiliation, so that's flat out something that could deal with some work. Still, the fact that there's a power abuse going on does not remove her from obligations to be a decent person; it just means that it's time to help her learn and successfully practice the civilized, social means of fixing these sorts of injustices.
>>
No. 1043071 ID: 15c72a

On the subject of removing warnings, one removed warning a day is way too fast. Like, even a terrible employee wouldn't get more than one warning a week, and in real life I don't think official warnings are EVER forgiven.
>>
No. 1043072 ID: e51896

>>1043071
Yeah, I agree that a removed warning a day is too quick. That just gives Dotti an opportunity to think she can get away with doing a certain amount of bad things until it resets again.
>>
No. 1043335 ID: e5709d

Dotti's mind is warped by her 'upbringing'.
Living on a wilderness diet hurt her more than Hell. Literally.
Gorging on food has never killed her, even when it should have.
This is her moral compass, and it is bent like a boomerang.

You need to re-condition her to understand that mindless impulse towards gluttony will get her killed; it has been the only thing keeping her alive until now, but everything in her life has changed and she hasn't.

Discuss with Landi on how to use her favors towards punishing indulgence.
tl;dr Dotti needs to learn dieting.
>>
No. 1043419 ID: 8483cf
File 166285204857.png - (85.25KB , 500x500 , Contract.png )
1043419

Do I trust Dotti? I’ve asked myself that question before, and the answer is always “it depends.” The real question here is: do I trust her so much that I’d expect good things to happen if her contract ended?

Nope. Not even close. Everything she’s just said and done is proof that she can’t be left to her own devices and expect my bakery (or society) to make it out in one piece. Plus, Dotti would be responsible for providing her own food and board, and I don’t need to have that hanging over both our heads. Serah is kind, but expecting three square meals a day and a bed for free, for months or longer, is a lot to ask. Odds are Dotti would scavenge for her own food, and I don’t need a trash-covered employee.

Still, Dotti clearly hates how she’s being treated by Landi. The closest thing I can imagine is if my younger sister Tanwen had the ability to order me around three times a day, with no repercussions from Mom. I’d go insane in a week.

I appreciate how Landi is making sure Dotti is clean (baths are good), but the “Worst Fox” collar sounds petty and even cruel. If Landi is abusing her rights under the contract, then she shouldn’t expect to keep abusing them.

“I’m sorry that Landi is treating you poorly,” I say.

Dotti grumbles.

“How about this?” I ask. “If you prove that you’re a reliable, responsible worker and don’t get any warnings for ten days straight, then I’ll ask Serah and Landi to give you some more freedom under the contract. It just makes sense, after all. Six favors a day, plus work? That’s a lot.”

“Ten days?” Dotti says. “How do I know you won’t give me a warning just so you can set it back to zero?”

“I’m not Landi. I don’t do things like that.”
>>
No. 1043422 ID: 8483cf
File 166285271998.png - (14.63KB , 500x500 , LF6-25.png )
1043422

“Oh,” Dotti sniffs. “Okay, then. Ten whole days, awesome worker, no warnings, easy. I can do that.”

“That means no getting angry at customers, no matter how much food they-"

Dotti lets out an ungodly fox shriek. “I KNOW!”

-------

The day passes without incident, and I sell slightly more coffee and pastries than the day before. Dotti and appears to be dealing with her hairnets fairly well, though she’s had to take a few breaks due to heat.

There are no complaints about the food, so Dotti’s waffles and simple pastries are great!

Just as I’m about to close up shop, a group of teenagers stop in front of my window and start gossiping loudly.

“Hey, is this the place?” one of them asks.

“Yeah, is it?”

I don’t know what they’re talking about. I shrug my shoulders nervously.

“What other place could it be?” another teen says, elbowing his friend in the side. “This is totally the place with the fox spirit.”

“Can we meet it?” a third boy asks. “We just want to see her in person.”

I shake my head. "She's... working."

"Well, then... we'd like to order six extra large fox-fired waffles, hand-delivered, and with strawberries and milk!"

Uh…

That would be some really good money. And I could use some help from Dotti to carry all that outside...

The teenagers look at me eagerly.

Uh...
>>
No. 1043423 ID: e51896

I feel they are going to bully poor dotti with the way they are gossiping and stuff.
Plus, we're supposed to be closed, and I'm sure Dotti wants to go home now.

money is good and all, but lets cut our losses here and tell them to come back tomorrow since we just closed. That way, we can see about getting one of those wheeled carts to bring food to customers before we start work tomorrow so we don't have to carry a whole lotta food to customers all the time.
>>
No. 1043424 ID: 629f2e

The request is innocent on the surface, so don't deny it outright, but play this safe.

"Alright. I'll ask her to help bring it out so that you may see her."

Put a lot of emphasis on that word: SEE. Because that will be all that happens.

Take their money, bring out the food, and keep an eye on them and Dotti the whole time. Do NOT give them the benefit of the doubt until the interaction is over. If they seem pleased in the end and leave without incident, great. But be ready to lay down the law quickly if that isn't how this goes.

You already have a bad feeling about this interaction, so keep in mind that you elected to take this risk if Dotti misbehaves in response to anything they do.
>>
No. 1043428 ID: e5709d

Let Dotti decide if losing a demerit is worth dealing with these spoiled brats.
She risks gaining another demerit if she sets them on fire or bites them, though.
>>
No. 1043437 ID: 15c72a

>>1043422
They're planning on dumping the waffles in front of her or something to provoke her. Warn them that if they're planning on being mean to your worker, they will be provoking the wrath of a dragon. Take their names, so that if something goes down, you can confront their parents about their poor behavior. Or maybe report them for harassment depending on what they do.

If they don't change the order then warn Dotti ahead of time that there's some teenagers interested in her and they might tease her or something.
>>
No. 1043442 ID: a758c7

wait what no fuck all that shit

we're about to close, cooking that much food right before close means at least another hour of work for everyone since you'll have to prep, cook, clean and sanitize, then count all the cash and clean the rest of the shop

and it would be totally unfair to dotti. even if these teens don't intentionally fuck with her, she has the entirely reasonable expectation that she'll get off on time, and it'll be entirely our fault if something happens. don't be a dick to our employee just for a quick buck, especially if something like this contract is on the line for her, it wouldn't be right to do that to her

politely but firmly tell the teens they'll need to order something significantly easier or come back tomorrow
>>
No. 1043443 ID: 515982

You take payment upfront, right? You do this time. Take their order, but do not bring Dotti out. That would be exploiting your worker on a whole other level. She's tired and taking a break after making these waffles, if they ask.
>>
No. 1043456 ID: 629f2e

>>1043428

Actually, I think that's a good point. Letting Dotti decide is the best approach.

Ask the teens to hold on for a moment, and go inside to Dotti if she's okay with the order knowing that there may be some poor intentions to it (they might just be curious, which is harmless). Make it clear that if she agrees, she will have to stay well-behaved, even if they act like jackasses. But let her know that you don't plan on letting them treat her badly for even a second. If they pull anything, you will make them leave. Immediately.
>>
No. 1043502 ID: 8688a1

If we are to do this, we should definitely tell Dotti what to expect ahead of time, something like "They're probably going to be shitlings about this, but if we deal with their annoyance gracefully, it could be good for the business long-term if the teens think we're cool."
>>
No. 1044035 ID: 8483cf
File 166346279250.png - (21.23KB , 500x300 , LF6-26.png )
1044035

This could be good, but only if BOTH the teenagers and Dotti behave. Which, frankly, isn’t likely.

I put up a claw to signal I’ll be back in a moment.

“Dotti?” I ask softly. She turns to me, pep in her step, eager to please and get my help to renegotiate her contract. “Good news. We have customers, and they’re hungry enough to eat all their food.”

Dotti beams.

“The bad news is,” I say, “The order is big, they’re not going to be very polite, and… they asked to see you specifically.”

Dotti shrinks back. “Am I in trouble?”

“No,” I say. “They just want to see a real live fox spirit. And they’re young enough that they might tease you.”

“Like Landi?” Dotti bares her teeth.

“Yes, like Landi. You don’t have to serve them if you don’t want,” I say. “I’ll stand up for you if they do. This is entirely up to you if you want to deal with them. I can help with the food if you do.”

Dotti peeks out of the kitchen and gets a glimpse of the teenagers. “You said they’d eat it all?”

I nod. She puts a paw to her mouth and mulls it over.

“I have lots of practice with Landi,” Dotti says slowly. “I can behave, even if they’re jerks.”

I give her a pat on the shoulder and smile. With that, I head back out front and give the teenagers a stern look.

“She’ll help serve the table,” I say firing myself up for what comes next. “You can see her. That’s it. If you bother her at all, you’ll have to deal with me.”

“Fox! Fox! Fox!” The teens whoop, completely oblivious to my threat.

Dotti and I heat the waffle irons up and mix in strawberries and froth a bit of milk to go with the table settings. It’s all fresh, and we’ve used our whole allotment. If I go through our supplies this regularly every day, I’d be able to pay Serah back in no time!

Soon the food is ready, and I lead the way outside, Dotti trailing behind. The teenagers crowd around the shop and follow Dotti and me to the sidewalk table.

“She’s real!”

“How has she not burned everything down?”

“The fox or the dragon?”

“I dunno, both?”

“So fluffy…”
>>
No. 1044036 ID: 8483cf
File 166346280565.png - (10.68KB , 500x400 , LF6-27.png )
1044036

One of the teens can’t control herself. She latches onto Dotti and nuzzles her. Hard.

“Who’s a fluffy fox? Yes, you are! Yesyouare!”

Dotti squirms and fights, but she’s caught tight. Thankfully she doesn’t shriek, burn or bite.

That’s my job.

I let out a deep-throated roar and spit fire above the table. Every one of them ducks for cover, including the one grabbing Dotti.

“YOU WERE WARNED!” I bellow. “NOW YOU PAY!”

The teens shriek and holler incoherently, even the boys. Dotti scrambles back inside.

“No! Don’t burn me!” one girl shouts. “It was Melody! She did it! Burn her!”

“You jerk!” Presumably, that was Melody.

There’s silence. One boy peeks his head out from under the table to see me holding out my claw for payment.

“Take it!” he says. “Take it all!”

I count out the price of the order and leave the rest on the table, then go back inside and find Dotti sulking in the kitchen.

“Are you okay?” I ask.

“I’m fine,” Dotti grumbles. “I hate them. They don’t deserve hugs.”

“Not a single one,” I agree. “You showed remarkable self-control. You’ve improved from this morning. I’m proud.”

Dotti gives me a smile. “You improved, too. You got to yell at a customer. It’s fun, isn’t it?”

“Fun doesn’t matter,” I say. “Only do that when it’s absolutely necessary. Never, ever lash out at a customer unless you feel threatened, okay?”

Dotti nods.
>>
No. 1044037 ID: 8483cf
File 166346284245.png - (11.19KB , 500x500 , LF6-28.png )
1044037

The teenagers finish their food and don’t leave a scrap. Dotti is satisfied.

Kayk has gained 20 STRESS from dealing with teenagers and Dotti.
Dotti has gained 20 STRESS from getting a warning and dealing with teenagers.
Dotti has lost 5 STRESS by seeing Kayk defend her.


KAYK STRESS: [57/100]
DOTTI STRESS: [60/100]


Dotti leaves the shop and I close up. It’s late afternoon.

I have time to do one of the following brief activities:

1. Go shopping for supplies and/or magical spells for Dotti’s uniform
2. Daydream over whether Fritz the Shy Swordsman will drop by tomorrow while organizing my stocking drawer
3. Go see the Kensington retinue
4. Other
>>
No. 1044040 ID: e51896

between Dotti threatening that customer, and Kayk scaring the teens, it's probably going to be bad for PR. We're going to have to be more careful with how we treat customers.

For now, lets do 4 OTHER: see if Dotti wants to spend time with you and lower both stress. A walk in the park, or watch her draw some pics, or even model for her!
>>
No. 1044041 ID: 629f2e

>>1044040

That sounds adorable, and I want to stoke the flames of Dotti/Kayk friendship. Support.
>>
No. 1044042 ID: 15c72a

>>1044037
1
>>
No. 1044051 ID: 515982

2, to reduce stress.
>>
No. 1044052 ID: e5709d

>>1044036
Get used to it, or learn to fast.

4 - Lesbian tension relief!
>>
No. 1044083 ID: dee951

4. You need to figure out something fun to do to reduce stress for both of you. It needn't be together, but both of you need to reduce stress! What is there to do to relax in this town??
>>
No. 1044267 ID: feebc0

Oh yeah, before you leave, put up a sign on your bakery door or window that says "please don't cuddle our employees without permission (we can't believe we have to write this)
>>
No. 1044284 ID: 4c75f0

>>1044267
Yeah, do this. Hopefully that'll stop anyone from doing any cuddling and/or petting without permission.
>>
No. 1045198 ID: 8483cf
File 166466712863.png - (113.89KB , 500x500 , LF6-29.png )
1045198

Just because someone is fluffy and cute doesn’t mean they want to be cuddled without permission. I can’t believe I have to make this rule, but by Mom I’m going to enforce it. I write up a note big and clear and post it where it’s very visible:

PLEASE DO NOT CUDDLE our employees without permission.
Signed, Your Friendly Neighborhood Dragon


Today’s been stressful for both Dotti and me. Going forward, it’d be nice if there was time we could spend off the clock, with no responsibilities or worries. I know Dotti has a hobby of sketching. I haven’t really developed any hobbies I’m proud of. Mostly cooking and playing card games with my siblings.

I invite Dotti out to the park where I met Jules and Fritz two days ago. She’s brought a sketchbook and is eager to draw the sights.

I think about offering to pose for her, but before I do, I spy two elderly humans, a man and a woman, playing cards on a park bench. My interest is immediately piqued. I think I recognize the layout of the game!

I shyly sneak over (followed by Dotti) and watch them play for a minute. The man scoops up a pile of cards and grumbles- he’s lost a significant card lead, and has to start over. I want to point out that he didn’t have to do that, there was another combination he could have taken to avoid it, but I keep moving in order to avoid drawing attention.

There are other games being played around the park, some by adventurers my age without any assigned jobs at the moment, some by soldiers off garrison duty, and some ball games by the local teenagers. Dotti and I just take a bench and relax.

I ask to see a page of her sketchbook, and she shrugs and shows some sketches. It’s not very complete, but she looks like she’s had fun making them.

We grab lemonades and enjoy our time together. I don’t see anyone familiar at the park, despite hoping for someone in particular.


Both Kayk and Dotti have lost 10 STRESS. This can be repeated daily, but it takes time away from other activities.
Kayk and Dotti can now visit the park to blow off stress after work, either together or separately! More stress can be relieved if something GOOD happens at the park.

KAYK STRESS: [47/100]
DOTTI STRESS: [50/100]


-----

Day 3

Dotti shows up on time. I can probably expect Dotti to be on her best behavior, as long as nothing stressful happens.

There aren’t many customers this morning. It’s slow, and I only sell a few pastries and drinks. A few people are crossing the street to get to the side opposite my shop. I get a dreadful feeling deep in my stomach.

There are very few customers today. Should I:
1. Train Dotti on customer service
2. Train Dotti on more advanced baking
3. Train Dotti on working the register
4. Design some advertisements and fliers for my shop
5. Other
>>
No. 1045203 ID: e51896

5. Ask Dotti what she wants to do most, customer service, working the register, or learn to make advanced food. It'll make Dotti happier if she does something she is passionate about.

if she doesn't want to choose, suggest 1. She can learn manners this way.
>>
No. 1045221 ID: 15c72a

>>1045198
4. Your rep is taking a hit, you need to compensate.
>>
No. 1045223 ID: dee951

>>1045221

Agreed!
>>
No. 1045896 ID: 8483cf
File 166527349473.png - (7.14KB , 500x500 , LF6-30.png )
1045896

I spend the rest of the working day designing some fliers. I've got to get more customers coming up to my window.

Dotti leaves work to go do favors for Serah, and I take the rest of the day to work on the fliers.

Kayk has gained 5 STRESS from worrying over the lack of customers.
Dotti has lost 2 STRESS by becoming more comfortable with baking basic recipes.


KAYK STRESS: [52/100]
DOTTI STRESS: [48/100]



-----

Day 4

I'm ready to send the fliers to a scribe's shop to copy them. Until they're posted, I can't expect more publicity.

I ask Dotti what she wants to learn more about, and she says she wants to prove she can handle customers face-to-face. I decide to spend the rest of today training her to handle customer service.

Kayk has gained 5 STRESS from worrying over the continued lack of customers.
Dotti has lost 2 STRESS by learning something she genuinely wants to be better at.


KAYK STRESS: [57/100]
DOTTI STRESS: [46/100]


-----

Day 5

I wonder why the swordsman and his friend haven't stopped by yet. Are they adventuring?

Well, the print shop is still working on my fliers. I take time to show Dotti more basics of customer service. She's still making slip-ups, like forgetting to move her mouth when she "talks" with illusion magic, but at least she's polite in her practice with me.

I have her deliver some coffee to a customer sitting at a streetside table (supervised from the window). She's slightly nervous seeing Dotti approach, but Dotti keeps her head low and tries to be as non-threatening a fox spirit as she can.

The customer seems at ease, and Dotti enjoyed the chance to escape the heat of her hairnet.

That's another thing: her hairnet. I definitely don't have the money to get her any enchanted uniform items to cool her off. If I have her on customer service duty and she doesn't lose her temper, I don't have to spend that money.

Should I bring Dotti out of the kitchen to handle customer service in addition to her light kitchen duty? There aren't many customers.

1. Yes
2. No
>>
No. 1045900 ID: e51896

she learned customer service, I'm sure she's wanting to put her skills to the test and prove herself to us!Tell her if she does good, she can switch her work from kitchen duty, to serving customers.

That should give her the incentive to show she's responsible.
>>
No. 1045901 ID: 629f2e

Give her a chance. She's been practicing, unlike her first bad encounter where she chased someone out. Even in her previous encounter with the teens, it was the customers who misbehaved, not her.

If you felt it was worth training her to do, then you have to admit that it's worth giving her a chance.
>>
No. 1045903 ID: 15c72a

>>1045896
1, yes. This is the perfect to train her on it. Heck, you could even delay putting out fliers until she's comfortable working customer service. That is assuming you can stay afloat for another week with this low customer base?
>>
No. 1045904 ID: 12b116

Yes, people need to learn to eat their food
>>
No. 1045907 ID: 855a5a

Yes, she’ll turn heads and learn in an environment with less pressure.
>>
No. 1045953 ID: 636a82

Yes, she should learn to interact with customers face to face!

Also, how to leverage her adorableness in exploiting human nurturing instincts.
>>
No. 1046003 ID: dee951

>>1045953

btw that adorableness and exploiting was sarcasm. But understanding aesthetics as a way to bring happiness and comfort and as a tool for her to have and express agency? There are more wholesome ways to handle things other than 'be cute -> get spoiled'.
>>
No. 1046066 ID: 8483cf
File 166545336278.png - (13.86KB , 500x500 , LF6-31.png )
1046066

Even if Dotti’s first two customer encounters didn’t go well, she has the drive and motivation to try again. It’s worth rewarding good behavior.

I direct her to serve a pair of elderly women taking a seat at the nearest table. She nods eagerly and promises to stick to the script. She approaches the table and politely asks to take their order.

It goes off without a hitch. The women don’t seem to care that she’s a fox spirit and are letting Dotti practice her lines with energy and enthusiasm, even as she stumbles through a few menu items. They might not have seen a fox spirit before, but they know a brand new waitress when they see one.

The grandmas give her a warm smile and tell her she’s a ray of sunshine. Dotti melts.

I wish everyone was as nice as these grandmas.

Dotti has lost 5 STRESS.

----

Dotti prances back happily to the adventurers’ guild.

I don’t have many more customers for the day. I’m not turning a profit. On the positive side, the fliers are done.

I can operate at a loss, but after that, I’ll have to cut back on fresh fruits or some other perishables. I don’t have much cash on hand, not after paying my required first two months’ rent up front. Plus if I internationally operate at a loss now, I don’t have any emergency fund for if something causes my customers to dry up in the future.

If I operate at a loss for three more days, I’ll get really STRESSED.

Should I post the flyers now, or give Dotti more time in a low-stress environment?
>>
No. 1046068 ID: e5709d

Flyers! Customers are the lifeblood and your business has anemia!
>>
No. 1046069 ID: d98cb8

Give Dotti at least one more day of low stress before you post the fliers. Consider it an investment, in that if Dotti can adjust to handling customers it'll be easier to run the place when it gets busier.
>>
No. 1046071 ID: 629f2e

Put up the flyers now. You can't afford to wait, and there's no guarantee they'll work immediately. It might put the idea in customers' heads that they should visit days from now.
>>
No. 1046074 ID: beb9a0

Can we ask Serah or any of her friends post the fliers instead, and offer a free meal in return? She should know the best places to put them.

Meanwhile, give dotti one more day of practice whether or not we can get help with the fliers. Gotta be prepared before the rush comes.
>>
No. 1046111 ID: a7a180

Post the flyers, don't intentionally starve yourself of business.
>>
No. 1046217 ID: 8483cf
File 166553741291.png - (12.45KB , 300x500 , LF6-32.png )
1046217

I decide to spend the rest of the day putting up fliers myself. I can’t afford to take chances with my business, and besides, it’ll take a few days for people to decide to stop by.

I briefly consider asking Lady Kensington’s retinue to help, but I’m not sure Landi would stay focused on the task at hand, and the Lady herself has better things to occupy her time with.




Kayk has gained 8 STRESS from worrying about finances and spending the whole day working.

KAYK STRESS: [65/100]
DOTTI STRESS: [41/100]


-----

Day 6

I handle the few customers in the morning, and decide to let Dotti have the post-brunch lull to practice her customer service.

When it’s Dotti’s turn to handle customer service, a disgruntled man comes up to the window and I can tell he’s going to be a problem. Sure enough, he immediately harrumphs at Dotti with suspicion.

“What’s this? A fox spirit?!” He crosses his arms and looks down at her. “I see how it is. You’re going to use your magic on me to make me buy overpriced pastries, aren’t you?”

Oh dear. Dotti has no script for this. Should I intervene?

“Why would I do that?” Dotti cocks her head sideways. “I don’t understand. Who comes up to a bakery without wanting to buy anything?”

The man sputters, at a loss for words. He grumbles and mutters for coffee and a croissant.

Dotti has defeated a customer! She’s lost 3 STRESS.

-----

The day goes slowly. I’ve lost money, but less than yesterday. I’m kind of upset that the swordsman and his friend haven’t visited. Am I really not worth even dropping by to see?

Kayk has gained 10 STRESS from financial losses and loneliness.

I should blow off some STRESS.

Should I:

1. Go to the adventurers’ guild and ask for Fritz and Jules. Might not go well.
2. Hang out with Dotti. Will lower both Dotti and my stress levels, but not a lot.
3. Indulge myself window shopping for new stockings and sweaters. Will lower STRESS a lot, but won’t do much socially.
4. Other
>>
No. 1046222 ID: 629f2e

1, When dealing with a Grade-A wuss sometimes the direct approach is necessary. That, or you'll figure out that there was some reason he didn't come that'll make you feel better about his absence. Recent family tragedy, emergency adventure, or maybe he has no sense of direction and just could not find your bakery.
>>
No. 1046225 ID: 15c72a

>>1046217
1. Otherwise you'll keep thinking about it.
>>
No. 1046266 ID: fed1e0

1
And if it doesnt work out, well it'd at least make for a dramatic story
>>
No. 1046296 ID: e51896

OH! idea! see if we can have Landi come help us with 1, for moral support. I'm sure she'll help us be social with Fritz and Jules and convince them to eat at our place if they changed their mind for some reason. She's usually hanging out with that one guy she likes around here, right? So it shouldn't be a problem and she likes socializing.
>>
No. 1046353 ID: 8483cf
File 166562441075.png - (8.54KB , 500x500 , LF6-33.png )
1046353

I’m worried about my finances, I’m concerned about Dotti interacting with customers, and I’m stressed about this whole idea of running a bakery. But more than that, I’m feeling rejected by those two guys who said they’d stop by and didn’t.

Dotti heads off on her own, leaving me to go to the Adventurers’ Guild by myself. I think Landi knows more about how to deal with rejection than I do, no offense, so I decide to get her help for this.

Luckily for me, she’s floating around a blond Verdant Knight’s head in the cafeteria. I think his name’s Flax.

“What’s up, Buttestcup?” Landi asks. Flax gives her a raised eyebrow and she flaps her wings a little harder than normal. “You know. Like Buttercup.”

“Funny,” I say. “Landi, I just… I just want some backup for a minute.”

“Oooh, backup for a dragon. I like the sound of that,” Landi says. “Sure sure! What’s the mission?”

“Fritz and Jules,” I say. I scuff my claws on the floor. “They… they stood me up.”

“No way!” Landi gasps. “You? I don’t believe it.”

“I don’t believe it either,” Flax says, trying to keep his eyes above waist level. “Hold on. Fritz is the swordsman, right?”

“Yes.”

“Oh. Oh, I know what’s happened.” Flax rubs his forehead. “He got hit with a bad ear worm his last mission, and he’s locked up trying to get better. It’s got a really nasty trigger phrase, too.”

“Ear worm?” Landi gasps. “That’s horrible! Terrible! What is it?”

“Didn’t you go to fairy college?”

“I must have been hung over that day.”

“Okay,” Flax says, clearly unimpressed. “It’s a spell that makes him violently ill every time he says, hears, or thinks of a certain phrase. Jules has been cleaning up the, uh, mess.”

I shudder.

“What’s the phrase?” Landi asks.

“It.”

“What’s it?”

“The phrase. That’s it.”

“What phrase is it?”

“Yes.”

“Yes, it is?”

“Please stop,” I say. “Landi, just don’t say the word ‘it’. I can’t imagine not even being able to think of… of ‘it.’ ”

“Neither can I,” Landi giggles.

Landi’s acting like a child. Now I’m more angry with her than I was at Fritz before I realized he’s out of action for a very good reason.

“Can’t he get it dispelled?” I ask.

“It’s a complicated curse,” Flax says. “The money it was going to take to pay a wizard or priest to undo it was way too high, so we just decided to wait until it wears off naturally. I don’t know when it’ll be, but it can’t be much longer.”

“How come you and he get to say it but I don’t?” Landi asks. I give her a glare.

I can’t believe that Fritz can’t even think of the word “it” without losing his lunch. He must have to be doing tremendous mental gymnastics to avoid i- I mean, thinking of that particular word.

Maybe I can help him feel better while he’s locked in his room?

Should I do something for Fritz?
1. Bring him free sweets and leave them outside his door
2. Visit him and distract him with things that aren’t “it”
3. Other
>>
No. 1046354 ID: 629f2e

1, NOT 2, you will make things worse with that. If you try to make him not think of something, he'll think of it. Not to mention how difficult of a word "it" is to avoid in conversation. Give him some time to get the curse dispelled, and support him from afar with baked goods until then.
>>
No. 1046359 ID: 15c72a

>>1046353
1, if anything. Leave a simple note like "get well soon -Kayk" and make sure there's no chocolate, because the "ate" at the end sounds like "it".
>>
No. 1046364 ID: 8f4c06

1. Bake him something with mint in or on the food. Mint will help his digestive system since the curse is making him vom- i mean puke.

No choco.
>>
No. 1046365 ID: dee951

Ya, 1!

Also, is there a local cultural gesture for, 'My lips are sealed and I am not speaking'?

Because if you find yourself in his presence via some unlikely circumstance, smile without showing teeth, and make that gesture. Maybe bow or whatever. But don't talk, and excuse yourself via body language and see yourself out.
>>
No. 1046367 ID: 15c72a

Oh no. Fritz has "it" in it. People can't even call him by name. Make sure that's not in the note either!
>>
No. 1046434 ID: a7a180

2. 'It' is rather easily replaced with 'that'. For instance, that ass!
>>
No. 1046487 ID: 8483cf
File 166571559293.png - (7.10KB , 450x450 , LF6-34.png )
1046487

I don’t want to cause Fritz any harm by messing with his head when he probably just wants to sleep it- uh, sleep the curse off. Still, I want him to know I’m thinking of him.

I’ll make him the best, rarest treat for nausea I know: mint ice cream. Ice cream way more common in Minga than at my mom’s lair, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

“Landi,” I say, “May I borrow Genice for a bit?”

“Sure,” Landi says. “I gotta tag along for whatever you have planned, though. The summon spell doesn’t go very far from me.”

“I’ll give you some ice cream.”

“Deal!”

I race back to my bakery with Landi and use what dairy products I have left over from today’s lack of customers and make a delicious batch of minty goodness, with no chocolate. Instead, I add leafy shavings of soothing herbs. While Genice cools the batch, I carefully write a get-well-soon letter and choose my words oh so carefully.

Genice helps keep the ice cream cold as we bring it back to the guild, and I knock on Fritz’s door and scamper away as quietly as I can.

As soon as I’m around the corner, Fritz’s door opens, so obviously I wasn’t that quiet.

Mission success!

Kayk has lost 15 STRESS through doing a good deed and learning she wasn’t actually stood up.

KAYK STRESS: [60/100]
DOTTI STRESS: [38/100]


-----

Day 7

I decide to let Dotti handle taking orders for breakfast customers while I work the register and prep the harder breakfast items. I still don’t have a sit-down area; all I have is sidewalk seating, so I don’t have to have Dotti clean up any messes or serve the customers constantly with refills and check-ins on their food. If we get a rush, it frees Dotti to help me with coffee and quick-heating food.

However…

Dotti is doing just fine with the few customers we have, and she’s enjoying the attention and customer interaction a lot more than kitchen work.

She’s also drawing stares from the morning passer-by as she serves the sidewalk. There’s more than a few fingers pointing her way, and I hear my patisserie’s name being mentioned a lot as they do.

I’m torn. Dotti is giving good advertising by going out on the sidewalk to serve customers, but that’s not very often; I still don’t have that many people visiting. Should I consider opening up interior seating? If I were to open up some of the inside of my shop to customers and chairs, Dotti would spend much more time with customers than she is now, and customer service would be a much larger part of my business.

I realize that Dotti has been working a week straight. She hasn’t complained about the early hours, but I feel like giving her a break for two days so she can have something resembling a weekend. I’ll keep my shop open because I can’t afford to take any days off, but maybe I should give her a break.

I ask her if she wants to take a break for a few days, and she pauses, but shakes her head no. As long as she’s not wearing a hairnet, she’ll skip the retail “weekend”.

Is interior seating a good idea?
1. Yes, open it tomorrow
2. No, wait another week for more Dotti practice
3. Other

Should I let Dotti skip her days off?
1. Yes, she volunteered to keep working as long as she’s not wearing a hairnet
2. No, I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to keep her out of a hairnet the whole time
>>
No. 1046488 ID: e51896

1. lets open it up tomorrow. Dotti is proving herself well enough.

and

2. While Dotti is offering to stay, Breaks are important for a clear mind than one might realize. Plus it'll give us an idea how interior seating will go while we're on our own so we can prepare Dotti for next week telling her stuff she should know about from our experience. Tell her it is partly a reward for doing a good job with customer service so far as incentive.
>>
No. 1046489 ID: 629f2e

Interior Seating: 2. It's a good idea, but let Dotti stick to the outdoor seating for now. Having her outside means people passing by, not just those who stop to eat there, will see her and remember your shop. It's better advertising for you, AND better practice for her. Don't toss her into the deep-end YET.

Skip days off: 3: TENTATIVE Yes. If it would not break any labor laws, then it is acceptable in this instance to let her continue working customer service for the moment. If it would be illegal, then force her to take time to herself whether she wants it or not.
>>
No. 1046492 ID: 15c72a

Checking labor laws is a good idea.

2, 1. Open up interior seating when you have more customers; any free advertising is good at this stage.
>>
No. 1046502 ID: 12b116

Let's tentatively wait another week, unless things get busy.
Explain to Dotti how it's important for her to have days off to relax and do things for herself
>>
No. 1046522 ID: a7a180

No, give Dotti more practice and only open it when you need the capacity.
No, Dotti gets her mandated break. She may not feel tired after just a week, but she will soon. Oh, she will.
>>
No. 1046526 ID: dee951

1, open indoor seating tomorrow!

1, but check both labor laws and local religious observances. There might be a legally, socially, or religiously mandated break for employees that are not also partial business owners! Heck there might be such a mandated break for YOU!
>>
No. 1046529 ID: e51896

I'll change my Dotti vote to 1 as long as it isn't breaking labor laws. Look into that before you decide.
>>
No. 1046592 ID: 8483cf
File 166580138645.png - (21.75KB , 450x500 , LF6-35.png )
1046592

I can’t rush Dotti, not if I want things to go as well as possible. There’s no reason to expect that extra seating will mean extra customers, after all. Just having her outside and visible is good enough for now. A fox spirit behaving herself? No one would believe it unless they saw it with their own two eyes.

Dotti has gained 3 STRESS from being stared at constantly.

With that in mind, I can’t afford to give Dotti a day off. I need every single advantage I can get right now, and I can’t be short-staffed if things do pick up. Plus, running the show is extra STRESSFUL on me on top of all the other stresses I have already.

As for labor laws, Dotti’s not a part of the Bakers’ Guild, so she doesn’t have any supervising regulatory authority at all. There simply isn’t anyone at the City to enforce any guidelines on the terms of her employment, even if they existed. I’m sure, somewhere in Minga’s books, there’s a law saying that Thou Shalt Not Make Employees Work More Than Ten Hours on Holy Days or something, but no one is paying attention to them unless the person affected is a part of a guild. It’s a powerful incentive to join a guild for a young worker, it saves the City money, and makes Guild Masters even more powerful. I’m not a member of any guild, so I don’t have to deal with their rules or politics, at least I hope not.

One of my customers is a priestess about Dotti’s height. Her eyes are glazed over at the sight of my strawberry strudels, and when she takes a bite, she positively glows.

“This is so good…” she says, careful not to spill any crumbs from her open mouth. “I’m so grateful I saved up to buy this.”

I don’t know how often someone like her can afford treats like this. Her praise fills me with pride.

Kayk has lost 2 STRESS.

The profitable part of the day is over. I’ve earned more than the previous few days, but it’s not enough to break even.

Kayk has gained 8 STRESS from three days straight of losses.

If Kayk doesn’t break even financially tomorrow, she’ll gain 20 STRESS. At 80 STRESS or above, Kayk’s attitude will turn sour and she’ll get a worse TEMPER. If she reaches 100 STRESS, very bad things will happen.


I really, really hope my fliers and Dotti being on her best behavior have helped draw attention to my shop. Maybe I could do even more for advertising tonight? Or I could take a mental health break and just relax, maybe bring Fritz more food. Or would that be weird? Am I obsessing over him? But… but I like bringing him food. This is so complicated…

Or I could just go out social again with Landi or Serah, but that would probably stress me even more if it goes badly.

KAYK STRESS: [66/100]
DOTTI STRESS: [41/100]


What should I do this afternoon and tonight?
1. Put up extra fliers and design signs to place at the end of my shop’s street to direct foot traffic. Won’t reduce stress, but I’ll have done all I can do to bring in customers.
2. Hang out with Dotti at the park, then take an evening to myself. Guaranteed -15 stress reduction, but nothing important will happen.
3. Bring Fritz more food. Will reduce STRESS as long as I don’t worry about being weird. I hope it’s not weird…
4. Go out and be social with Landi and/or Serah. Could go badly, but could also be relaxing.
5. Other (I don’t have time to do combinations of the above)
>>
No. 1046595 ID: a7a180

1. Give it all you've got to make this store succeed. And once you're profitable, hire more help so you can give your employees days off. You're going to give them days off.
>>
No. 1046596 ID: 629f2e

4, you need to go out. Maybe vent to someone who'll understand what you're going through. Landi would probably just get sloshed, so Serah's your best bet for a night buddy. She's a strong independent woman trying to do her own thing, so she might understand what you're going through.
>>
No. 1046606 ID: a39e1c

Waaaaait a minute

>I’m so grateful I saved up to buy this
>I don’t know how often someone like her can afford treats like this

How much IS Kayk charging her food? If she's charging too much, maybe that's why people aren't coming over. That'd explain everything

5 other. Do some market research, see how much you're charging and how much people can afford food, compare your prices of food to other places serving food, then adjust the prices to be more reasonable or affordable.

If 4 happens, Vent your frustrations and tell them your worries. Your friends might help you in their own ways. most importantly: ASK THEM IF YOU'RE CHARGING TOO MUCH FOR FOOD

Also, if 4 is chosen, tell them Dotti has been a real good help so far and has been on her best behavior. Could be a start to convince them to go easier on the favors on Dotti when we request it later.
>>
No. 1046608 ID: 12b116

>>1046592
Hang out with Dotti
>>
No. 1046623 ID: dee951

>>1046606

To add to this... it could be possible that your ingredient suppliers are maybe overcharging you, due to being a newcomer to the community or something like that? It's worth investigating if your costs are too high due to things in your supply chain!
>>
No. 1046629 ID: d98cb8

I suggest 4, since generally we've been pretty good at navigating the thorny social situations. Kayk needs a night with friends and fun.

>>1046606
I think the key in that sentence about affording it is that it's a priestess. Last holy person I remember seeing around had a vow of poverty and wasn't allowed nice things. Treat like this is probably something to scrimp for.
>>
No. 1046645 ID: 8483cf
File 166587245723.png - (23.79KB , 500x600 , LF6-36.png )
1046645

I have to manage my stress levels if I’m going to make this work long-term. Otherwise I might have just a moment of weakness and let some fire out indoors… I already know how that ends up. Instead of venting fire, maybe I could vent words?

I go to the adventurers’ guild and check for Serah. Fritz is still sick, unfortunately, not that I was asking about him too much, or anything. I find Serah sorting through a pile of letters and official-looking documents with fancy seals at the end.

I clear my throat and keep a respectful distance from the highly flammable parchments.

“Oh!” Serah rubs her eyes. “I’m sorry, Kayk, I didn’t see you. I’m a little distracted today. Is there something you’d like to discuss?”

Serah sounds busy. Really busy. I shake my head and turn around.

“Hey!” Landi says from around the corner. “Wait up, Dragoncakes. I know that face. That’s the I don’t want to be a bother face. Am I right?”

I glance to the side and give a small nod.

“Ser-bear, you’ve been reading those all day,” Landi says. “You’re gonna get eye strain and develop a case of terminally boring. C’mon, get up and be social!”

It’s insane to hear Landi talking that way to Lady Kensington, but apparently, she’s willing to take some lip from her fairy. She stretches her shoulders and sighs.

“Marquess Mallory isn’t going anywhere soon,” Serah says. “I’ll send a response tomorrow.”

“Attagirl,” Landi says. “So did you wanna go out and get wasted, Kayk? You really tanked those drinks last time. Let’s see how you stack up against the sequel!”

“We’re not getting wasted,” Serah declares. “Kayk, would you like to join us for a more calm evening than Landi may be expecting?”

That sounds heavenly. I give an eager nod.

We head to a small, intimate restaurant with a few patrons waiting in the foyer. I move to get in line, but the maître d' waves us in with a bow to Lady Kensington. They pull a table and chairs from absolutely nowhere and set it up before we can even reach the other end of the room.

For the first time in my life I feel underdressed.

Serah and Landi start the conversation light, but we soon move into the thing stressing me out: my business. A glass in, and I’m spilling my guts about how I’m afraid I’ve torpedoed my reputation by threatening those teenagers and scaring off customers.

“I understand how difficult it is to lay down the law,” Serah says, looking to Landi, “But it was necessary. I wholly support your actions, even if the dragonfire may have been a little much. Just be careful about that in the future.”

I stare into my wine and take a sip.

“Kayk, if you’re worried about finances, I understand,” Serah says. “I know how much you want your business to succeed. I do, to. But please, don’t think I’ll call your loans due any time soon. I fully expect your bakery to take some time to get started. If you need a line of credit to stay afloat, we can work that out too. I’m here for you, Kayk.”

“Serah’s a softie,” Landi says. “She’s got your back.”

Relief washes over me in a great rush. I’m a little embarrassed, though. It feels a lot like charity.

“Thank you,” I say. “I’ll repay your kindness in full.”

“It’s my pleasure to help out in any way I can,” Serah says. “We all want you to succeed. I’m certain I speak for everyone on this matter.”

“Yeah!” Landi cheers. “Anything that gets Dotti out of my hair half the day is great. But can you get her started later in the morning? I can’t use her as a pillow if she throws me off every morning at dark o’clock.”

I hide a smile and shake my head no. “Dotti is a reliable and energetic helper with the hours she has,” I say softly. “I’m sorry, Landi. You’re going to have to find a new pillow.”

“Stupid bakery hours,” Landi grumbles.

“Very good,” Serah beams. “I do miss having Dotti around to assist with the lab, but it’s a small price to pay knowing she’s conducting herself appropriately when out of my supervision.”

“I doubt it,” Landi says, but her doubt sounds doubtful.

Kayk has lost 18 STRESS.

With that out of the way, I talk a little bit more about my work with Dotti at my shop, and how grateful a short priestess was over one of my strudels. Serah rubs her chin at that and appears to be doing some mental math.

“Was she wearing a white robe and a green sash with symbols shaped like rounded triangles?”

I nod.

“I met her the other day,” Serah says. “Priscilla is priestess of Eirene. She doesn’t get many donations at all, and she’s had some unexpected expenses lately. I’m not surprised a strudel is a luxury purchase for her. Still… let’s take a moment in the future to discuss pricing. I have a sneaking suspicion that you’re paying higher than guild rates for your ingredients. I don’t know what you can do about it, but it’s worth negotiating over.”

I make a mental note to do some market research and reassess my pricing if I can get a better deal.

Is there anything else I want to ask or talk about with Serah or Landi over dinner?
>>
No. 1046647 ID: e843b1

Talk about Fritz and how you gave him mint ice cream to help make him feel better from his curse. Dont ask for help, they've already done so much.
>>
No. 1046648 ID: a7a180

She's an alchemist, right? Alchemy, bakery, these have some things in common. Perhaps you could license a few recipes to sell, with minor magical effects? Rainbow frosting, pop rock sprinkles, that sort of thing. If it's safe enough to ingest, it's safe enough to put on food!
>>
No. 1046650 ID: 15c72a

Oh hey yeah we could ask about alchemical food! And fairy food, for that matter.
>>
No. 1046660 ID: 629f2e

I know y'all mean alchemical food as in literally magical, but it's making me think about are molecular gastronomy desserts. Could be a neat gimmick to get some attention if Kayk has any chemistry knowledge.

Don't talk too much about work, give them a chance to tell you how things are going in their lives. What's going on with Serah and the Marquess? And what's Landi been up to lately?
>>
No. 1046672 ID: e51896

>>1046660
Yeah, agreed, we're done talking about ourself and our worries, so no more work talk.

I want to add, ask how Rae is doing and if she is keeping her bird well behaved ever since it stole your stockings?
>>
No. 1046680 ID: 8483cf
File 166591308865.png - (4.52KB , 300x300 , LF6-37.png )
1046680

I think about asking Serah for fun ways to spice up my treats using edible alchemical pizzazz pieces, like blinking sprinkles or swirling smoothie additives, but I’m not sure if I want to bust out the novelty pieces quite yet, and not when I haven’t even brought out my most complicated, most profitable dishes yet. I’ll consider the additives for when Serah has time to help make the first few batches. Most recipes need to be crafted in a sterile lab, though maybe I can borrow a few miniature crucibles if they’re portable and safe enough. There are lots of ways alchemy can go wrong. No need to bring up work again, not tonight.

Landi steers the conversation to boys, and I’m only too happy to let her talk about a fairy friend she’s met named Sunshine. He’s from out of the parish, apparently, and is thinking about immigrating to Alsace due to some troubles back home. Serah sympathizes with Landi- she won’t say any details, but she’s hinting that she has her eye on someone out of town as well. Maybe someone next in line to be a Count? Or maybe even a Viscount? I’m not sure, but definitely someone noble sounds like a safe bet for Serah. I don’t pry, and she appreciates the discretion.

“Kayk is lucky,” Landi says. “Her crush is right here in Minga, isn’t he? Don’t lie, I helped you make the ice cream!”

It’s true. I mumble something about Fritz and how nice he is. Serah beams, and the conversation devolves into conspiratorial shipping.

I’m okay with that.

The main course arrives, and we all dig in. I ask how Serah’s doing, just in general, and she slices her venison just a little too hard to be entirely calm.

“I’m dealing with a few… difficulties with Marquess Mallory at the moment,” Serah says. “It’s complicated.”

“How complicated can it really be? I’m good with drama,” Landi boasts.

“Oh, are you so sure?” Serah asks. “Very well, let us see if you can follow. The Marquess has summoned me to dinner at my earliest convenience, and I expect she intends to take the opportunity to bestow patronage upon me.”

“That sounds great! I love free stuff!” Landi says. “Why’s that bad?”

“It’s a trap,” Serah sighs. “If she bestows her official patronage upon me, I have an obligation to visit her annually, and she receives a standing invitation to visit House Kensington’s court in turn. It would bind me to accommodate her reasonable wishes and all it would cost her is, essentially, a small retainer. And because her house outranks mine in nobility, if not actual power and influence, it would be incredibly rude of me to refuse. She would have cause to exclude my family from her social circle and, in turn, her clients’ networks as well.”

“Can’t you get out of it?”

“I’ve been avoiding her for months,” Serah says, “But now that she’s actually come to Minga, I’m running out of excuses. It’s frustrating; I picked this city because it’s specifically run by a council-mayor system with no ruling noble houses since Minga became nominally self-governed a few centuries ago, which means I can avoid court functions. However, Marquess Mallory’s house is old enough that she retains property rights to her specific manor house that weren’t wiped away- and thus, she can hold her court there, and can do so as if it were her actual seat of power.”

“So if you visit, she’s got you,” Landi says. “How are you gonna get out of it?”

Serah looks around the restaurant before continuing in a hushed voice. “I’ve been digging into the chain of title on her manor house. Eight years ago, Marquess Mallory took possession of the manor house when her uncle died heirless. But nine years ago, Minga passed a law requiring all property owners with no direct line of succession to file a set of claims to avoid probate, with any land with no such records escheating to the City.”

“Gesundheit.”

“It means she doesn’t legally own the Manor,” Serah says with a sigh. “What did they teach you in fairy college?”

“Not real property, that’s for sure. Or if they did, I slept through it.”

“My point being,” Serah says, “I need to make sure laches isn’t imputable in this case, since Marquess Mallory has been maintaining the property and treating it as her own. And even if I’m right, I need to deal with the political fallout of revealing this, and do it in a way that doesn’t make it seem like I’m acting against the nobility, because I’m not supposed to like Minga’s City Council on principle. It would look very bad for House Kensington to give them such a windfall on purpose, so I can’t just spring this on her in open court, even if she’s about to patronize me.”

“My head hurts,” Landi says.

Mine does too.

“I did say it was complicated,” Serah says.

I’m glad I’m not a noble.

KAYK STRESS: [48/100]
DOTTI STRESS: [41/100]

----

Day 8


I wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day, no matter what might happen. Hopefully.

I send Dotti to handle customer service from the get-go to give her even more practice. We’re getting more customers than yesterday. Maybe I can actually make a profit today!

A young couple come up to the counter and pause before ordering. They see the sign: no cuddling the employees without permission.

“Um,” the woman asks, “What do we have to do to get permission to… uh…”

“She wants to pet the waitress’s tails,” the young man says with a roll of his eyes. “Honey, you probably have to buy extra for that.”

Um… that’s up to Dotti, obviously, but…

Do I even want to allow them to ask Dotti for tail pets at all?
>>
No. 1046682 ID: a7a180

You're a dragon. Claim the manor for your hoard!
Yes, they may ask. Worried about people copying the request ad nauseam? Add a new rule to your sign instead: Don't make me make more rules.
>>
No. 1046683 ID: e5709d

>Court Politics
You know the aristocracy sees commoners as less than human when their Great Game manages to overshadow official profits and public reputation.

>Tail Pets?
Eh, business and brushes. Ask Dotti but if they keep it indirect with hairbrushes, it should be fine. Only to customers who purchase above the moving average of sales.
>>
No. 1046685 ID: 15c72a

>>1046680
Yes. Dotti can just say no, and she's assertive enough to do so.
Don't suggest they have to pay for the privilege. Let Dotti bring that up on her own; she's ruthless enough it might occur to her.
>>
No. 1046686 ID: d98cb8

>>1046685

I agree with this one. If Dotti wants to she can absolutely say yes, just make sure she understands that her decision doesn't affect her employment at all. Saying "Nobody gets to touch me" will be absolutely respected as her own personal choice.
>>
No. 1046689 ID: dee951

>>1046686

Agreed. Don't suggest it be an economic decision or anything; Dotti may begin to feel obligated to allow it at a later point should circumstances become dire. But Dotti can certainly decide to allow various sorts of (hygienic, platonic) petting at work if she wishes if it doesn't interfere with work! It's her body, after all!
>>
No. 1046694 ID: e51896

I don't think we should let them ask Dotti and say no right here and now
but since a lot of people are voting for that, I'll add that we should make it clear to the customer before she asks Dotti that your employee wishes to be treated as a HUMAN, not as a fox and have been looking for a way to shapeshift into a human even and might get offended if she asks to pet her. But if she agrees, let them know to be gentle, the last customer was a bit rough on her.
>>
No. 1046695 ID: 629f2e

"You can ask, and she can say no. If you make my waitress uncomfortable though, I will have to ask you to leave."
>>
No. 1046696 ID: dee951

>>1046694

See, I think Dotti's relationship to human-ness and fox-ness and fox-shaped-person-ness is... nuanced and complex. I think she might not have the words to properly describe what she wants. Is there a multi-species, cosmopolitan civilization, culture, or even regional subculture that has a lexicon for how to treat people of all sorts of different shapes and minds and bodies with a very high standard of personal dignity?? That doesn't default to describing it like 'treat them like <insert species name here>??
>>
No. 1048491 ID: 8483cf
File 166762718984.png - (15.06KB , 411x566 , LF6-38.png )
1048491

I appreciate that these customers are polite enough to ask first. I wish there was some shorthand for “treat Dotti like a member of a mutually respectful society based on egalitarian principles for different bodies and minds,” but the closest analogue I can think of is how my parents treated me and my siblings, and I really don’t want my customers pretending they’re Mom.

“Ah…” I pause, choosing my words carefully. I want to stand up for Dotti, but this is her decision. But if I handle it right, this is a great opportunity for her to get tips, and for me to actually turn a profit.

“Please ask her politely,” I say, “And respect her answer.”

“I will!” the woman says with a broad smile. “Honey, this might be my once-in-a-lifetime chance. I’m going to ask her.”

“If you insist.” The man shrugs. “Just don’t make it weird.”

“Why would you think I’d make it weird?”

“You’re asking to pet the waitress.”

“It’s not weird when she’s a fox spirit.”

“If you says so, honey.” He orders food and drink for two and they pull up a seat. I prep the order and send Dotti over.

I peek out from the kitchen and see the woman building up the courage to ask. I take a moment to see if I need to step in.

It’s obvious when Dotti registers what’s being asked. She stares out into space, waves of conflicting emotions working across her face. She looks down at herself, then at the woman. Then she shakes her head in a firm no and walks straight back to the kitchen.

“Dotti?” I ask. “Is everything okay?”

“Yes,” she says.

Silence.

“But…” Dotti continues after a long moment, “I never thought I’d miss being a… being small. I know humans pet each other, but when she asked me if she could… it felt different than that.”

“I’ll change the sign,” I say. “No petting, and no asking to pet.”

“Y-you don’t have to do that!” Dotti says quickly. “Kayk, I miss being pet. It was good, and calming, and it got the burrs out of my fur, and-and-and I miss it so much. But now it’s complicated. Even more complicated than when humans pet each other, like that woman and her mate were doing.”

“Do you want to take a break?” I ask. Dotti nods. “Okay. You can come back on when you’re ready. I’ll be fine by myself.”

Dotti has gained 15 STRESS.

I finish serving the young couple. The woman is worried about Dotti, but I reassure them she’s just on break. I encourage them to come back again later, to prove Dotti’s not upset. They don’t buy it.

I start to worry when Dotti takes a long time to come back, but thankfully she reappears just before the lunch rush. Things are so busy that I don’t even notice the moment when I sell enough goods to turn the day profitable.

When the rush is finally over, I’ve done it. I’ve actually made money! I feel GREAT!

Kayk has lost 10 STRESS.

Dotti and I wind down for the day. She’s distracted, and I think she’s still upset from earlier.

“Do you want to take tomorrow off?” I ask. “It’s okay.”

Dotti shakes her head no.

“Do you need a hug?”

Dotti nods. We hug.

“I wish I was a human,” Dotti says. “Things would be so much easier.”

“Maybe,” I say. “Maybe not.”

We break the hug. Dotti turns to go, but stops at the door.

“Um,” she pauses. “Serah told me about that sword guy you like. Can I ask a question about him?”

Well. Um. Ah. “O-okay?”

“Does he treat you more like a dragon, or more like a lizardfolk?”

“I don’t… really know the answer to that question,” I say. “We haven’t gone on a real date. I flew him around a bit on my back, so… I guess he would think of me more as a dragon.”

“Oh.” Dotti wilts. “Okay.” She turns to leave.

I feel like I’ve just said something terrible.

What should I say to Dotti?
>>
No. 1048494 ID: dee951

Hmmm, how about something like:


Dotti. This is very important. It is okay to want to be more than one thing at once. Identity is complex! You can be fox and human and fox-girl and civilized townie and wild forest spirit all at once and swap between what you feel like most at any one time, and that's okay!

Also, you should know, there are groups of humans that enjoy non-sexual, non-romantic cuddling and scritching and petting and grooming behavior between each other. It's not common, or always done in mixed company, but it does exist! And it is okay to sometimes define some things for yourself; if you want to be pet, figure out a way to make that work, and your other friends and I will be there to help you deal with the complicated bits, okay?

As far as me and how others treat me... Sometimes I feel more dragon-y, sometimes I feel more lizardfolk-y, and sometimes people treat me more like one or the other, and both identities have their good and bad parts. I expect your many identities are like that too.
>>
No. 1048496 ID: e51896

>>1048494
This is good

And I will also add: "even if Fritz see's me more as a dragon or more as a lizardfolk, or even more as a baker, what matters more to me is that he views for who I am: as myself. As Kayk."

"no matter what form you take, whether it be a fox, a human, a hybrid, a spirit, or even something completely different like a dragon, and no matter how different you may act or feel... "

you are still you. You are still Dotti, and you're friends and I will support whatever form and identity you feel most comfortable with"

If things works out, ask if she wants to hang out with you at the park, maybe something GOOD will happen...

But you know what, if we have any leftovers, give her a treat before we head out, Tell her she deserves it for all the good work she's done so far.
>>
No. 1048505 ID: a7a180

Pat Dotti on the head.
>>
No. 1048528 ID: 53560f

When you first meet someone, the way you act will create a first impression, but it’s the way you act afterwards that will colour their real opinion of you as they learn to better understand you. His first impression of me was probably something like a powerful dragon doing whatever i wanted but you have spent enough time around me to know that’s not what I’m really like.

Similarly, a lot of people around here might think of you as a playful or mischievous fox spirit when they first meet you but everyone who spends time with you knows that there’s a lot more to you than that.

My point is, don’t overthink it. Over time, the people here will learn what you’re really like past the first impression and they will treat you accordingly. It’s up to you to decide what you want to be like and you’ve been doing a splendid job of it so far.
>>
No. 1048541 ID: 8483cf
File 166770460629.png - (7.86KB , 474x325 , LF6-39.png )
1048541

“Dotti?” I call after her. She stops.

I don’t want Dotti to get the wrong lesson from this, so I decide to get it all out at once. It’s hard to find the right words, but it gets easier as I go along.

>>1048528
I tell her that Fritz has only really known me for a bit, and that his first impression isn’t the only impression he’ll have of me.

>>1048494
Even if he sees me as a dragon first and a baker second, or vice versa, he’ll still see me for who I am, not what I appear to be. Not just a label, but as a full person, with many different facets to my identity.

>>1048494
I tell her that identity is complex. I can be many things. SHE can be many things. And if Dotti wants, she can carve out her own identity that involves letting people get burrs out of her tails. By the end of it, I’ve said a lot, but it needed to be said.

“And…” I lean down and think about giving her a headpat, but that might confuse her. “Don’t overthink it. You’re trying very hard to learn about society, and how you want to fit in. You’re doing great, Dotti. You truly are.”

Dotti doesn’t know what to say in return, but I can tell she’s feeling a little bit better. She thanks me and leaves before I have a chance to invite her anywhere.

Dotti has lost 5 STRESS.

I finish closing up for the day and lean out to get the shutters and OH MY GOODNESS IT’S FRITZ. I somehow manage to avoid falling out of the shop window and calmly collect myself before I do something silly.

“Hello,” Fritz says sheepishly. He clears his throat and straightens up and I get the feeling he’s remembering a certain someone’s advice as he does and it’s too cute. “Ah. I’ve missed the chance to buy your lunch, so… how about I buy you dinner instead?”

I just can’t hold it back. I dissolve into giggling that I only barely manage to stifle a second later. He’s definitely following a script. He wilts and I feel absolutely awful.

“Y-yes, of course you can!” I say hurriedly. “I’m sorry.”

“No, I’m sorry,” Fritz says. “I should have sent someone to let you know I was out sick. I’m fine now, though.”

“So I can say... the word?”

“Yes,” Fritz says, but he doesn’t say ‘it’ himself. Bad memories, I assume.

I invite him inside and show him around, and he’s very complimentary of how well I’ve done the interior of the bakery, even if I’m not using it at the moment. He asks when I might allow sit-down seating, and I say I’m training up my very professional wait staff to handle it at some point in the future.

For the first time in my life the conversation keeps going and going and we just kind of forget about dinner until the sun starts going down.

“Is it that late in the afternoon already?” Fritz scratches his neck. “I just remembered I didn’t ask when was best for you. Guess I was just too excited to finally be out of bed, I didn’t think if you had other plans tonight.”

Suddenly I realize I’m not exactly dressed for a dinner date. I’m all floury and caked and still in my dirty sweater and apron, but Fritz doesn’t seem to care about that- he just wants to know if I’m down for dinner and the answer of course is YES.

I toss the apron and we both head to a familiar tavern and have a wonderful time. When the evening starts winding down, I get a little nervous.

Would it be awkward if I gave him a ride back to the adventurers’ guild? Does he expect me to transform every time I drink? Would it excite him if I did?

Should I kiss him goodnight?

THESE ARE BIG QUESTIONS
>>
No. 1048542 ID: a7a180

Yes, no, yes, yes. You like it too, don’t you?
>>
No. 1048545 ID: e51896

Just ask him if he wants a ride back home! Worst he can say is no.

>Should I kiss him goodnight?
I think a hug is more reasonable at this time. It's a first date after all!
>>
No. 1048546 ID: 629f2e

> Would it be awkward if I gave him a ride back to the adventurers’ guild?

Only if you make it awkward. Live your best life, however you want it to be.

> Does he expect me to transform every time I drink?

Just make sure not to do it next time if you do it this time. Don't wanna set too strong an expectation.

> Would it excite him if I did?

Hell yeah it would :)

> Should I kiss him goodnight?

Hell yeah you should. If you feel comfortable doing so.
>>
No. 1049139 ID: 8483cf
File 166831794976.png - (38.67KB , 505x650 , LF6-40.png )
1049139

The evening is winding down, and I have to get up before dawn tomorrow. I’m tired, but it’s a good tired. Fritz is cute. He likes me. I like him.

This could go places. I’m kind of excited. No, I’m very excited!

We leave the bar. He offers to walk me back to my bakery and I can’t help it, I giggle at the suggestion. He shrugs his shoulders, aware of how silly the offer is.

Maybe it’d be awkward if I gave him a ride back. Maybe it wouldn’t be. I don’t know what kind of expectations I’m setting if I do it, but… I’m a baker, a lizardfolk, a boss, and a dragon. A big, strong, flaming-hot dragon. And I can choose what I want to be, when I want to be it. Fritz first saw me when I was transforming, and he wasn’t scared off. He was interested enough to see more.

It’d be fun to give it to him.

“That’s sweet,” I say. “But… wouldn’t it be more fun if I escorted you back?”

He doesn’t say anything, but his expression says it all. I point to the nearest open area, very similar to the same grassy park we met at, and we walk over. He’s smart enough to know where this is going, and now it’s his turn to get excited.

“Close your eyes,” I say once we arrive at a safe distance from buildings and prying eyes. He obliges, remembering the pyrotechnics from my last transformations. But THIS time, I actually take off my sweater beforehand (ha! I’m learning!) and toss it at him. He gives a tiny jolt of surprise, but keeps his eyes shut and doesn’t drop the sweater.

He is just the best.

I take a deep breath, draw on my inner fire, and dash forward, transforming as I run, far more gracefully than last time. My body erupts in white-hot flames and elongates, stretching and growing into my full size, and it feels just as refreshing as a big stretch after a long nap.

“You can open them now,” I say, reveling in Fritz’s wide-eyed stare and ear-to-ear grin.

I could get used to this.

I guide him onboard. He lets out a holler as I lift off, and I can’t help but take a few extra detours while I fly him back. But all good rides must come to an end. When I drop him off at the Guild, there’s a small group of people staring, but Fritz’s windswept hair and flush, red cheeks are all I see.

With great care, I give him a quick peck on the cheek and take flight.

I don’t care if it was awkward or not, that felt good.

Kayk has lost 10 STRESS.

KAYK STRESS: [28/100]
DOTTI STRESS: [51/100]

Day 9


I’ve got a pep in my step and everything is looking up!

The morning starts off well customer-wise, but Dotti is showing signs of distraction. She’s forgetting orders and having to go back to customers a second time to confirm them, and in between servings she’s staring into thin air. I ask her if everything is okay, or if she needs a break, and she says everything’s fine.

The day goes by quickly. I’ve made a profit once again! It’s not much, but it’s there! Dotti’s been helpful, but not as much as yesterday. She hasn’t snapped at anyone or acted up, though.

When we’re nearly done closing up, she asks me a question with downcast eyes.

“Am I doing good?”

I nod. “Of course you are.”

“Then…” Dotti wrings her paws. “Could you please help me with my contract? Today? It’s okay if you don’t.”

“Is there something happening soon?” I ask, concerned.

“No,” Dotti says. “I just... I just hate it.”

Is now the time to go to Serah about Dotti’s contract?
>>
No. 1049141 ID: 629f2e

It's not 10 days, but Dotti has gotten better. If you consider some of the unintended stressors she's dealt with, such as the teens and their lack of decency or customers asking to pet her, then it sort of adds up.

Maybe not exactly, but the contract is stupid and harmful. Forget the arbitrary 10 day limit and just help her out.
>>
No. 1049143 ID: 15c72a

>>1049139
Tell her you could, but you're not sure you can convince them without extended evidence of her good behavior on your side. You could probably get some concessions now, of course, but not everything she wants. Is that alright?
>>
No. 1049144 ID: e51896

Well, it hasn't been 10 days yet... she has three days left as part of the promise. As much as I want to, I think She needs to fulfill that obligation in order to learn patience.

BUT, since she has been doing a really good job so far, Tell Dotti that even though she still needs three more days, you'll talk to Serah today about how you promised Dotti you'd help her give her more freedom from her contract if she behaved herself for the ten days she worked for you and see if Serah will give her more freedom if she behaved for three more days. Let Dotti know we will also let Serah know that we find Landi's treatment of Dotti to be unfair with the favors she had been given Dotti, letting her know about the collar, and using her as a bed seems a bit too harsh to be treating her.

At least letting Dotti know you'll let Serah know about our deal with Dotti and seeing if she'll let Dotti be more free from her contract after three days should give Dotti insurance that we are indeed trying to help her so she knows for sure we won't back out of our promise.

You'll also ask Serah if Dotti can take these final few days away from Landi to sleep over at your place at least, since she's been stressed lately.

That is, if Dotti wants to sleep over at our place!
>>
No. 1049147 ID: a7a180

Talk to Serah now but present the altered contract in three days.
>>
No. 1049154 ID: 740803

>>1049139
Damn, she's thicc! You can tell Kayk runs a bakery because of all that cake right there!

>>1049141
I agree with this.
>>
No. 1049343 ID: 8483cf
File 166855043816.png - (9.21KB , 390x400 , LF6-41.png )
1049343

A deal is a deal, and it’s important to teach Dotti to respect hard and fast rules and learn the value of hard work over time. Ten days means ten days. Still, I can give her a bit of a boost during these last three days…

“You still have three days left to go without getting any warnings,” I remind Dotti, “But I think you’re doing very well so far. If you keep it up, Serah will definitely see how responsible and trustworthy you’re becoming.”

“Three more days?” Dotti’s ears droop.

“Three more days,” I agree, “But would you like to spend that time away from Landi? I can talk to Serah and propose you spend the nights at my place above the bakery. You can get up a little later because of that, too.”

Dotti immediately perks up. “Yes! Yes, please!”

I try to stay stoic, but I can’t stop my tail from wagging just a smidgen.

-------

Dotti and I make our way to the Adventurers’ Guild. I ask that Dotti leave the conversation with Serah to me, and she reluctantly agrees.

Serah is at the same table as she was a few days ago, except this time she’s looking even more run-down and stressed. I reconsider my idea. Is this going to make things worse?

“Kayk?” Serah asks. “Oh, excellent. I was hoping to speak with you. Please, have a seat. How is business?”

Too late. I pull up a spot on the bench opposite Serah and fiddle with my claws. “Business is good. I… I’m making a profit now. A small one.”

“That’s great news,” Serah says with warm smile. “I’m happy your bakery is doing well. I assume Dotti is helping, too.”

I nod. “She’s a great help.”

“That’s very good to hear. I was worried about her, but it seems like you’ve been a great influence on her.”

My tail starts wagging again.

“With that in mind,” Serah says, “I don’t mean to alarm you, but you may be attracting some attention from the City government. I believe they’ll be sending the Fire Marshal to visit you in the coming days.”

The Fire Marshal?! Bad, bad memories come rushing back. Memories full of bureaucracy and claims adjusters.

“It’s nothing to worry about,” Serah adds hurriedly, “As long as you’re taking proper precautions with your dragonfire oven, and haven’t had any negligent discharges yourself.”

“Um…” I drop my head to the table. “I may have threatened a few teenagers, and, um, blown off some hot air.”

“Oh dear.” Serah rubs her temples. “Well, the Fire Marshal won’t be asking about that. Just don’t bring it up and you should be fine. In fact, I’m fairly certain he won’t even be looking too closely at your oven. The City Council is more likely than not sending the Fire Marshal to look for your dragon hoard, not code violations.”

My hoard?! “I don’t have a hoard!”

“Well, the City thinks you might,” Serah sighs, “And they want to tax it. As long as you’re living in Minga, they’re going to be demanding taxes on any hoard you might be storing here. They don’t expect you to give it up willingly, so the Fire Marshal will be searching for it.”

“That’s not fair,” I say.

“It isn’t,” Serah agrees, “But as long as you’re a dragon, and employing a fox spirit, they’re going to be using the fire code as an excuse to keep a very close eye on what’s going on in your bakery. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bakers’ Guild is pushing for strict enforcement of the code on you, too. Even more so than their own bakeries.”

“That’s even more unfair.”

“You’re a dragon who’s made her home in a big city,” Serah says. “And people are taking notice, especially when you fly around in the evening. The guard’s received very concerned complaints about that.”

Oh dear. “Am I in trouble?”

“No, but you might get questions,” Serah says. “A few people are worried their city is about to be taken over by you and Dotti. They’re wrong, of course, but they’re not quiet about it.”

“Can’t I explain things? I just want to sell sweets.”

“Rumors are difficult to get rid of,” Serah says. “That’s when you look to someone with a strong reputation to counteract the narrative.”

“Could you help with that?” I ask.

Serah purses her lips. “I could, but it’d take an obvious connection between us to really push the story. For example, flying me personally to attend Marquess Mallory’s summons.”

This is all so stressful… all I wanted was to ask Serah permission to let Dotti sleep over at my place.

Do I want Serah’s help in handling all these confusing and difficult problems?
1. Yes, join up with Serah publicly and let her handle the rumor mill and push back on unfair searches by the Fire Marshal
2. No, don’t publicly link myself to Serah
>>
No. 1049349 ID: 5536ce

How about this, see this stressful situation as an OPPORTUNITY. ask Serah to invite the Marquess Mallory to your bakery, or perhaps have you serve food to her that you personally baked after flying Serah to the Marquess Mallory manor. If she finds our food delicious, word will spread and we'll be in the clear, it'd be easier for Serah to dispell the rumors, plus the most important reason we'll offer this idea: good advertisement! If someone as important as Marquess Mallory likes our food, people will definetly take notice!

Im not sure if this fits with 1 or 2. Maybe 1?

Oh yeah, and ask about going easy in Dotti's contract and her sleeping over, espeically if we do a good job impressing Mallory with our service and they see Dotti is responsible enough.
>>
No. 1049351 ID: a7a180

1. Serah's a good woman to support through thick and thin. If it's you and Serah versus the city council and Marquess Mallory, then it's hardly a fair fight... for the other team.
>>
No. 1049352 ID: 12b116

>>1049349

That sounds like a good idea, honestly.
>>
No. 1049353 ID: 15c72a

>>1049343
1. Though, that might make it look like the both of you are trying to take over...
>>
No. 1049363 ID: 629f2e

1, take Serah's help, and maybe make the suggestion other are supporting, but recognize that Serah is a lot more experienced than you here. If she doesn't think it's a good idea, it probably isn't.

And don't let this distract you from bringing up Dotti like you intended.
>>
No. 1049368 ID: 8483cf
File 166856192660.png - (7.68KB , 500x500 , LF6-42.png )
1049368

I’d appreciate Serah’s help, even if it gets me involved in the Nobility’s games. She’s a good person, and she’s worth helping.

I’m not good at playing politics, despite listening in on my Mom’s musings occasionally. However, something Serah said over dinner a few days ago tickles my interest… maybe I have a solution that benefits everyone?

“Um…” I poke my claws together delicately. “You said you were stressed about the Marquess inviting you to her property, right? And you were running out of excuses to avoid it.”

“Yes,” Serah nods. She looks around and makes sure no one is listening. “I’m still not certain if I want to use my secret weapon against her. It’s a difficult play to say that her property isn’t actually hers anymore, and even if I win, there’s the chance my reputation still takes a hit on account of siding against the nobility if it gets out I was the one to leak the information to the City.”

“What if…” I lean in. “What if you invite her to neutral ground? Like my bakery?”

Serah blinks. “That… that could work, but only if it’s up to her standards. She’s very, ah, frumpy about where she visits. I’m sure your bakery is very nice, but the work required to host a Marquess… it may not be economically viable, unless you’re intent on making the jump up to that level of service.”

“I have an indoor seating area,” I say, “And the neighborhood is well-traveled. It’s got history, too. So… the only thing I’d have to do is dress everything up. Oh… dress up… maybe I should get a dress.”

Serah nods. “I was just going to suggest that. But still, the reputational risk would shift from me to you. Kayk, there’s a very large difference between flying me somewhere, which is symbolic, versus actually hosting a meeting between myself and Marquess Mallory. You’d be judged on so many more things, and might even be treated as a political player to a small degree. At the very least, you’d have minor nobility coming to your dining hall to try and show status with similar meetings and luncheons. You’d have to keep up appearances, and Dotti would also be judged if she was serving them too.”

Aha! An opening!

“I won’t ask Dotti to do anything she isn’t comfortable with,” I say. “I’m grateful for her help, especially since she’s so busy doing favors for you and Landi. I’m… I’m a little worried it’s too big a load for her.”

“I’ll ease up on Dotti’s favors if it’s stressful for her,” Serah says. “I can’t speak for Landi, though. Perhaps I can talk with her. She can be unreasonable at times.”

“Would it be a violation of Dotti’s contract if she were to take a break from Landi for a few days?” I ask. “If I’m going to upgrade my bakery, I’d like to have Dotti’s help. She could even spend the nights at my flat.”

“I have no problem with that,” Serah says. “Landi may wonder where Dotti’s gone off to, but those two antagonize each other so much that it’ll probably do them both good. Are you looking to have her over tonight?”

I nod. “And a few days extra, if she wants to.”

“It sounds like you’ve thought it over. I’m curious,” Serah asks. “What do you have planned for the two of you at this sleepover? I won’t ask you to put yourself on the line to help me by upgrading your bakery’s seating area just for me. You’re welcome to just have her over to de-stress. As I said, you’re a good influence on her.”

1. Is it worth the expense and time to upgrade my seating area to try and host Marquess Mallory at my bakery? Or should I simply fly Serah over to the Marquess’s property and provide a luncheon?
2. What should I plan for Dotti’s sleepover? I don’t have to tell Serah everything…

>>
No. 1049384 ID: a7a180

Just provide a luncheon. I don't think you can afford to fake it til you make it yet, your profits haven't given you that margin for error. You would need more employees who can decorate, dote, deal with tough customers and don't start throwing around magic when mad.
>>
No. 1049389 ID: 15c72a

>>1049368
For 1, perhaps you shouldn't host the meeting yourself. You've only begun to make a profit. If you were more established, sure. Also, you'll be having the Fire Marshalls breathing down your neck at the same time... If your rival bakeries wanted to eliminate you as competition, they could interfere with your remodeling by putting more pressure on you via inspections. Flying Serah over and serving food seems like enough; if the Marquis likes your baked goods enough you can get some of a reputation boost out of it anyway.

for 2, don't spoil the fox. You are sheltering her from a bad situation, but you don't need to bend over backwards for her or anything. Basic amenities will be fine. Hey, you can get her some customer service books to read, and maybe some books about baking... or a book about human dating since she was asking questions about that?
>>
No. 1049391 ID: 2a3927

>>1049368
Do not let that meeting take place at your bakery! That's a terrible idea and is just asking for trouble! Because even if you do manage to impress Marquess Mallory, you'll have to deal with everything that comes afterwards.

You'll have given yourself a reputation and everyone will have high expectations of the bakery that impressed Marquess Mallory. And if you fail to meet those expectations, the critics will hit you hard, possibly saying that you and Sarah somehow bribed Marquess Mallory into praising your bakery.

Let's not forget the increase in business you'll have. Sure, that might sound good, but if both Sarah and Marquess Mallory have a meeting there, everyone will want to eat there. You'll have constant business, to the point that you and Dotti won't be able to keep up and get really stressed out, which increases the chance of you or Dotti lashing out and possibly blowing something up!

But even if you can manage your stress, the increase in business will mean that you'll always run out of ingredients on a daily basis and will be criticized for being unable to keep up with demand. And every time you go to buy more ingredients, everyone will unfairly charge you more than usual because "you're a dragon, you’ve got a hoard big enough to buy anything at any price we set". When things like that happen, it'll cut into your profits until you discover that you can't afford ingredients anymore and will have to close down!

So for 1. you should simply fly Serah over to the Marquess’s property and provide a luncheon.

And for 2. just provide basic things. No need to go overboard for Dotti.
>>
No. 1049447 ID: 53560f

Hosting your Bakery as a neutral ground between political players would certainly put you on the map, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you play your cards right.

The increase in noble business and those that would use your bakery as a neutral ground can be managed by offering custom orders in advance for high prices.
Sarah can set a precedent that purchasing one of these custom orders is how someone is how one gains permission to use your neutral ground and all the benefits of such.

The high cost of custom orders minimises how often it will happen as well as allowing you to obtain necessities for these events while otherwise operating on a fairly reasonable budget.

As long as you remain neutral and don’t get involved more than making sure two political players behave themselves and treat both you and your staff with respect, then your political presence isn’t likely to grow too much.
>>
No. 1049452 ID: e51896

Realize that you totally do have a hoard! Remember all those sweaters and fishnet stockings you have? you might want to throw out some old ones you don't wear anymore before moving forward tonight, no matter how hard it might be to part with them.

Aaaanyway, 1. even though I suggested inviting her to our bakery, I also suggested serving food at her place as another possbile idea in my previous suggestion, which I'm leaning more towards. We are just starting out and I don't think it's an appropriate place for a lady like her to eat at just yet. But hopefully if she likes our cooking, she'll ask about it and give good recommendations to others.

BUT we should ask Serah if we could bring Dotti along to be the one to serve the food we make, just to show she has indeed become responsible enough to have lesser restrictions from her contract. We have trust in Dotti. We just have to lower her stress levels first before the event.

2. Just basic things, yeah. If Dotti wants though, she can bring her drawing kit and we can model for her again to lower stress, or anything else that gives her comfort (like her dreamcatcher).

At most, we can give her some books to read and provide food to also help lower stress levels, but that's pretty much it. Anything more will spoil her. This is just to get her away from Landi for awhile.
>>
No. 1049474 ID: e5709d

>>1049343
>That's unfair
...pfft.
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
YOU'RE A DROP-DEAD GORGEOUS HALF-DRAGON WITH SHAPESHIFTING POWERS AND FLAME BREATH! YOUR MOTHER HAS ENOUGH GOLD TO FINANCE THREE SPACE STATIONS WITH MAGIC-MEDIEVAL-AGE TECHNOLOGY! What, did you expect the rest of these mere mortals to pretend the playing field is even when the influence of your mere existence is enough to create a social blackhole?!
People don't play fair when they see one person filthy lucky while others starve. The question is, do they want the starvation to stop, or does the suffering of others fill them with glee and greed?

>>1049368
1) Do it. You need to establish yourself as a power player - and not as a sleeper terrorist. As bad as it would be to make an enemy of the local nobility, they will grow paranoid if you have no 'real' stake in local politics. Especially since you could up and transform one day and burn half the town to the ground on the orders of your mother. Face it, there's so little they can aim at you.
2) Snuggle exposure therapy. That, and a wonderful introduction to the world of thrift shopping! A former scavenger like Dotti would love to learn how to buy used goods for pittances.
>>
No. 1049553 ID: 8483cf
File 166875077272.png - (13.00KB , 500x500 , LF6-43.png )
1049553

“I didn’t really plan on having her help upgrade the bakery,” I say. “I’m just looking to give her a place away from Landi, with maybe a few books to read and paper for sketching. Um… I’m glad it’s okay for me to not host the luncheon. Is flying you in and serving a course or two okay?”

“It’s plenty,” Serah smiles. “I’ll let you know what the Marquess likes in advance. Ordinarily she wouldn’t give any thought to food, but, well, it’s very rare for her to be visited by a dragon, much less a dragon baker.”

“Dotti has been practicing serving,” I say. “Perhaps she could be the one to present the food?”

“Are you sure?” Serah asks. “It might be stressful. There’s a good amount of gossip about her already. It would help my position, certainly. And it’s quite likely a once-in-a-lifetime visit for the Marquess if both you and Dotti attend her court function. You wouldn’t have to do much at all other than look pretty and avoid being goaded by her.”

“I’ll make sure she’s not stressed if I ask her to attend,” I say. “She’s made great progress sticking to customer service scripts, and can improvise well, within limits.”

“I’m glad to hear it.”

Serah and I chat a little longer, with the decision that Dotti will be able to sleep over at my flat for a few days. I’ve even got an opening to discuss Dotti’s workload (i.e. favors and her contract) later. All in all, a good day for Dotti.

Dotti leaps at the chance to pack up and spend time away from Landi. She grabs her sketchbook, a comb and some clothes and practically runs out the door. It’s close to dinner, so I invite her to help cook and she’s eager to assist. After dinner I tend to a few chores, and Dotti happily busies herself with her sketchbook. After she’s filled a few pages, she leafs through my bookshelf. I don’t think to stop her.

Sundown approaches. For sleeping arrangements, there’s only one bed, but it’s big enough for the two of us. Dotti has assured me she doesn’t mind sleeping in the same bed, but I line the center with a thick blanket so my tail doesn’t intrude on her sleeping space. The moment I turn my back, however, an orange blur shoots across the bedroom and snatches the blanket off the bed, twirling and whirling around her on the floor until she’s wrapped herself into a warm, cozy fox loaf.

“This is my blanket now,” Dotti declares, a supremely smug look on her face. “It was made for me.”

There’s no disagreeing with a fox loaf.

“Um.” Dotti blinks. “I have a problem. I just got this the way I want it, but, uh, I want to finish reading one or two of your books. Could you pleeeease grab them for me?”

I roll my eyes and humor her.

What books did Dotti grab off my shelf? Do I choose to add anything to her pile?
>>
No. 1049554 ID: a7a180

Fae Creatures and Magick Concoctions, by Siberius Wingpuller, and The Fox and the Hellhound by Jurisprudence Juniper. You should add a good bedtime story, like The Sisterhood of the Walking Eyes.
>>
No. 1049556 ID: e51896

A Plantimals comic. It's about these 4 heroes (a knight, a monk, a wizard, and their pet dog,) who has to defeat giant plant monsters with the help of their plantimals

Or whatever comic this was: https://questden.org/kusaba/questarch/res/1003639.html#1007062

What to add to the pile?
One motherly dragon of course! KAYK! We'll read with her
>>
No. 1049558 ID: 629f2e

What's a good sleepover without a spooky story session?

Continuity - A horror story that sees children unraveling a conspiracy theory upheld by their town's adults.
>>
No. 1049559 ID: 1757ea

>>1049553
>What books did Dotti grab off my shelf?
She somehow found that book with pornographic pictures of hot dragons and sexy dragonesses in it! You were sure you hid that, but apparently you didn't hide it good enough!
>>
No. 1049563 ID: 53560f

“Starbirds: and other creatures that don’t exist”
The book contains a bunch of made up creatures from the author’s imagination with descriptions of what they are like. There are no drawings of these creatures and the reader is encouraged to imagine what they think the creatures look like based on the author’s description as well as to come up with their own interesting creatures.
>>
No. 1049566 ID: ccea30

Dotti seems to have enjoyed "The Silver Willow", a fantasy adventure epic about a group of adventurers trying to find a cure for a mysterious magical disease by S. Gildebloom. She has also picked up and promptly discarded a booklet of safety guidelines for wizards specializing in steel golemancy titled "IEC 60204-1 - Safety of machinery – Electrical equipment of machines – Part 1: General requirements". You keep it around for its rare ability to inflict non-magical psychic damage.
>>
No. 1049569 ID: e51896

One other thing to add to the pile: some pillows!

Tease Dotti by saying since she claimed the warm blanket, you have claimed the comfy pillows! All of them!

Then tell her a blanket is not complete without its pillows and pillows are not complete without its blanket and then join the pile with the pillows to make everything complete and to share.
>>
No. 1049580 ID: 8483cf
File 166882149559.png - (10.23KB , 436x339 , LF6-44.png )
1049580

I grab the pile of books Dotti pulled off my shelves and set them next to the bundled blanket burrito.

“If you get the blanket,” I declare, “I get the pillows!” Because what’s a sleepover without some pillows?

I grab pillows, and add add more, and more, and more until I start wondering if this counts as a hoard or not. Dotti and I bond over books and our burrito and pillow hoards become an impenetrable fluff fort.

“You’re reading Continuity?

“I tried,” Dotti says. “It’s too spooky, though. I don’t like stories where characters disappear. It makes me feel lonely. That book on creatures that don’t exist is fun, though! It gave me lots of good ideas for drawing. Almost as many as that book full of dragon penises!”

“Oh no!” I gasp. Sure enough, to my absolute horror, there it is. It was supposed to be hidden! I grab it and bury it under me. I’m supposed to be a good influence!

“Too late,” Dotti smirks. “Now I know everything.

Oh noooooo

Kayk has gained 5 STRESS.

I shift the conversation to other books, and we end the night picking our favorite character out of The Sisterhood of the Walking Eyes.

Dotti has lost 20 STRESS.

KAYK STRESS: [33/100]
DOTTI STRESS: [31/100]

Day 10


Since Dotti doesn’t have to walk to work, she starts the day energized and ready for anything! That’s great, because oh my goodness we actually have a breakfast rush!

Dotti’s running back and forth and I’m baking as fast as I can and everything is going so fast and we actually have a line of people waiting to order AND eat and it’s great… right up until I see we have a problem.

More than a few of the customers aren’t actually interested in eating the food or drinking the coffee so much as watching Dotti and me work. They’re picking at the pastries, waffling over the waffles, and generally taking up space on the street, AND they’re leaving leftovers when they’re done, which Dotti is clearly rankled by. She’s piling the leftovers up in the back and it’s getting to be more than anyone can eat.

In a moment of relative peace, I tell her that there are livestock herders I know who will gladly take the extra food and I promise to dispose of it today, but Dotti is more upset that people are deliberately choosing to be wasteful.

“Is that all those people want?” Dotti asks. “Just to pay money to see me and you run around? I like it when they give me extra money just for being cute, but I feel like they don’t care about the food.”

She might have a point. What should I tell her?
>>
No. 1049581 ID: 15c72a

>>1049580
Hmm. Maybe it's time to open up the indoor dining. Lower Dotti's street presence and the lookie-loos will become less common. Plus, word of mouth is spreading, so you'll soon need the extra space.

It'll be hard to solve the problem completely though. Maybe only allow customers to make requests of Dotti if they've finished their food?
>>
No. 1049583 ID: e51896

Tell her maybe it's that, but it could also be partly because the customers are getting too full by the current serving sizes we are giving them.

in that case, Throw in the idea of making smaller portions and smaller versions of our food since people don't seem to want to eat a whole lot. Instead of giving just cakes, we'll offer cupcakes as well! offer different sizes of waffles/pancakes and make it from small, medium or large, or just offer a choice of a certain amount of pancakes or waffles (one waffle to three for example) Just a couple examples.

It should also be good for our supply and amount of money we make too since we can save some of the ingredients when making less amounts, or smaller sized versions of our food too!
>>
No. 1049584 ID: a7a180

Right now you're just glad to be getting their money. We should encourage them to actually try the food, though, it's really good!
>>
No. 1049591 ID: dee951

Well... You need more information. Maybe you can figure out a way to subtly and politely ask some of the people what brought them here or what they liked most about the bakery?

People just being here to ogle isn't optimal; you aren't running a circus where that's the whole point of what they are directly paying for, but maybe people are more craving entertainment in their afternoon times in general? That's not necessarily appropriate to a corner bakery sort of place, but, hmmm. There are restaurant types that focus on that, lots of dinner places have some sort of entertainment format. Curious...
>>
No. 1049592 ID: 36784c

>>1049580
>people are just idling.
Be careful on how you handle these people. There's a chance that they’ve been sent over by the The City Council or the Fire Marshal or the Bakers’ Guild  in order to mess with you!
>>
No. 1050153 ID: 8483cf
File 166935906735.png - (3.26KB , 300x300 , LF6-45.png )
1050153

I’m genuinely saddened that the main draw for customers is the spectacle of Dotti and me over the food, but… that’s what happens when I choose to focus on cheap, easy breakfast/lunch dishes and coffee over real artisanal pastries. Perhaps I can devote more time to making the pastries before I open, instead of just batter and coffee grounds for quick and easy money? That would stress me a little bit, and Dotti would need to do some heavier lifting in preparing food to help out, but it could work. I’ll reassess my business model once I can solve the looming problem of the fire marshal apparently coming to visit soon.

“For the moment, customers not caring about the food is a good problem,” I say to Dotti. “It’s important to make money to stay in business, and you’re doing very well helping me with that.”

Dotti beams.

“With that in mind,” I say, “It’s time for me to pay you your wages. At the end of today’s business hours, I’ll pay you for your first ten days of work.”

“Wait,” Dotti says. “I get paid more than just the money people leave for us? Um, the tips?”

“Of course,” I say. “Tips can be lucrative if you’re very good at customer service, but you get paid for helping out with the kitchen as well. And the register, too, if you want to learn that.”

“So much money…” Dotti puts a paw to her snout. “I’ve been thinking about what I want to spend it on, but now I have lots! Thank you!”

Dotti has lost 3 stress.

Thankfully, the day proceeds without incident, which is a minor miracle given how many onlookers were obviously there just to see, and not buy. I close the windows and lock the doors, and Dotti and I collect the leftovers for me to carry them to the livestock pens.

“Here’s your pay,” I say, and Dotti takes the coinpurse eagerly. What happened to the fox who dismissed money as useless?

“I’m gonna go spend it right now!” she declares. “Bye!”

“W-wait!” I call out. “Where are you going?”

“Everywhere!” Dotti says. “I have a big list of things I want to buy with my money! Don’t worry, I won’t let anyone steal it!”

I feel like I shouldn’t let Dotti loose on the city without an escort. I’m responsible for her, in a way, now that she’s spending a few nights here.

However, I still need to take time today to take the leftovers to the livestock pens; it’s too heavy for Dotti to carry. Plus I need to re-assess my fire code compliance and get extra ready for a “surprise” visit by the Fire Marshal, and that will take serious time.

I could also ask Dotti to go to get Landi, Serah or someone else to come along for the ride, but that also has problems. Landi would get on her nerves and probably mooch, and Serah is incredibly busy.

Should I:
1. Accompany Dotti on her shopping spree
2. Get all my work done today, in case the Fire Marshal comes tomorrow, saving myself from a possibly failed inspection
3. Other
>>
No. 1050154 ID: e51896

2

And have trust in Dotti, let her go on her own. She is showing remarkable improvement in responsibility, and I think showing that you trust her enough to be independent like this will make her feel like we respect her, and in turn, she'll respect us.

At most, just tell Dotti to be good, like a mother would.
>>
No. 1050155 ID: 15c72a

>>1050153
3, suggest she take one of Landi's fae friends with her, instead of Landi. That helps Landi foster good will with her summons, gives Dotti some protection and legitimacy, and keeps the two out of eachothers hair as well.
>>
No. 1050157 ID: 629f2e

>>1050155

Agreed. She probably won't accept talking to Landi without good reason though, so it might help to explain that some vendors won't hesitate to overcharge you if it's clear you lack a frame of reference for what a good deal is. Or more simply: Mean people will try to trick you into giving them more for less. That's why it's good to take someone with you with a clearer picture of what is and isn't a good deal.
>>
No. 1050159 ID: d402af

Get all your work done asap. Dotti should take Landi on Serah’s behalf. Favors might come in handy for reining in Landi?
>>
No. 1050172 ID: 8483cf
File 166941258137.png - (9.13KB , 473x438 , LF6-46.png )
1050172

In order to give Serah all the leverage she needs to play politics, I need to keep my business safe from fire code violations. Anything the Fire Marshal finds can and will be used against me (and maybe Serah). Work takes priority.

Still, Dotti shouldn’t be sent out alone to spend her pay in a big city without some kind of guide. She’s shown she can handle herself somewhat responsibly in customer service, but can she handle herself responsibly as a customer? I’m afraid of unleashing a fox in a chicken coop.

“I’m sure you’ll keep you money safe,” I say to Dotti, “But wouldn’t it be a good idea to bring someone good at making deals? How confident are you that you know how many shiny metal coins a chicken is worth?”

Dotti’s expression turns dour. “You want me to bring Landi.”

“Not Landi, if you don’t want to,” I say. “Maybe one of her friends?”

“That still means Landi can make me do favors when I talk to her,” Dotti huffs. “I want to stay away from her as long as I can.”

“You can’t avoid her forever,” I say. “Who knows? Maybe Landi will appreciate you asking for her friends’ help. Remember how Ellie said she was your, uh, ‘adoring fangirl?’ ”

“Fine,” Dotti grumbles. “But only so I can get as much chicken jerky as these shiny bits are worth.”

I stay quiet on the subject of chicken jerky and just settle for being happy she’s bringing aid. Dotti departs and leaves me to my tedious, boring work of checking and adjusting my oven, doors, windows, and everything in the fire code again and again and again…
>>
No. 1050175 ID: 8483cf
File 166941339257.png - (17.38KB , 450x787 , LF6-47.png )
1050175

By the time the sun is setting, my work is done. I hope. There’s a knock at the door.

I’m greeted by a handsome young man carrying an absurd amount of grocery bags, art supplies, and clothing. He’s followed by a flickering fire djinn and Dotti, who’s grinning ear to ear.

“Look at all this great stuff Ember helped me buy!” Dotti declares. “And look! An Otis to help carry it, too! Say hi, Otis!”

“Good evening,” the well-dressed boy says. “Ah, I hate to intrude, but may I set these down?”

I scuttle aside and let the party into the seating area, where Otis sets everything down gently. What’s going on? Dotti shouldn’t have had that much money. Maybe for the groceries and art supplies, sure, but not for the outfits, and especially not for the delivery.

“Dotti, where did you get all this?” I ask. “You and Ember must have some very good negotiating skills to bring all this with you.”

“Nah,” says the fire djinn. “She just used Lady Kensington’s line of credit at the same place Dotti got her first dress a few months ago. But who cares about that? We got a free afternoon with the tailor’s apprentice here!”

Otis gives a sheepish smile.

“How kind of him,” I say, and everything makes sense now. The tailor wants to keep Lady Kensington as a client, so he’s loaned his apprentice out for some manual labor.

“And that’s not even the best part!” Dotti says. “Tomorrow, Otis and I are going on a date! Right here, and right after we both finish work!”

My jaw drops.

Otis gives Dotti a polite smile.

“That’s wonderful,” I say, collecting myself as quickly as I can. “Well, Otis, I look forward to hosting you and Dotti tomorrow.”

“Thank you, Kayk!” Dotti says.

“You’re very kind,” Otis says with a small bow. “Miss Dorothea, I look forward to making your acquaintance.”

“I said to call me Dotti,” Dotti says. “Nobody calls me Dorothea. Dotti.”

“Of course, Miss Dotti. Until tomorrow, then.”

Dotti waves him goodbye and wags her tails happily. I catch a tired look in the boy’s eyes, but he covers it up quickly.

“Yeah, that was fun,” Ember says. “Hey, Miss Terrorscale, I’d love to say and chat. Really. Dragons like you are super spicy n’ all that, but I got a thing to get to. Mind if I give Landi the signal to send me back? We totally gotta catch up sometime, though. Fire fighters gotta stick together!”

I nod, and Ember poofs out of existence. She seems… more of a thrill-seeker than a supervisor.

Dotti, meanwhile, is tearing into a packet of marinated chicken strips, and the juices are spilling all over her dress. I sigh.

Dotti has a date tomorrow, and apparently I’m the venue.

1. Should I tell Serah?
2. What advice should I give Dotti about dating?
3. Am I being a good influence on Dotti? It doesn’t feel like it…

>>
No. 1050176 ID: 629f2e

Alright, let's address all of these questions in a mixed order.

> Am I being a good influence on Dotti?

Mostly yes. Your relationship with Dotti is a bit complicated, given that you're both her boss as well as her friend, but you've ultimately been very considerate of her and have made choices in her best interest while giving her room to grow. The quality of your influence is not determined by the quality of Dotti. You could do everything right for her, and she could still end up making bad choices in the end. That's just life.

Not every decision you've made has been a winner, but the approach you've taken towards Dotti has likely been very beneficial towards her growth. Moreso than Landi's antagonistic relationship with her, that's for sure. The fact that Dotti felt comfortable staying with you shows that she feels safe in your presence at least.

> Should I tell Serah?

About Otis? Nah, let Dotti decide whether that's something Serah needs to know about. She's allowed to have friends or date outside of Kensington's watch.

There was one other part to this story of her night out though:

"She just used Lady Kensington’s line of credit at the same place Dotti got her first dress a few months ago."

You paid Dotti for her work, asked her to take a chaperone to help her spend her money responsibly, and in the end Dotti ended up sticking Serah with a large bill, seemingly without permission from Serah herself.

Now, as much as your instinct may be to get upset with Dotti regarding this, there are a few factors to keep in mind. First of which being: Maybe Serah gave her permission to use her credit? And if she didn't, how confident are you that Dotti knew what she was doing when she used it?

For now, just ask Dotti if Serah gave her permission or not. If not, explain to her how credit works and that she shouldn't use it in the future without permission. Then, next chance you get, tell Serah what happened.

Honestly, if you're ratting anyone out here, it's Landi. Dotti followed your advice and requested a chaperone from her to keep her from getting swindled, and the chaperone she provided failed to prevent Dotti from buying more than she could afford. Dotti made the right choice, she brought someone who was supposed to know better, and they left her hanging.

(Of course, if fire djinn shoots back that she explained credit to Dotti and she STILL made the choice that she did, then we can nail down where exactly fault lies in this instance.)

Either way, telling Serah about the store credit is the right play, but that's all. Don't expose Dotti's personal life beyond what affects Serah.

> What advice should I give Dotti about dating?

...Kayk, have you ever dated? Outside of Fritz I mean. How confident are you really to give advice here? If not, bring up your own inexperience to connect with her on the same level.

For now, why don't you just ask about Otis? See what attracted Dotti to him, and ask what she's looking for in a relationship.
>>
No. 1050179 ID: 4c3192

>1. Should I tell Serah?

I think that's Dotti's business. We wont tell Serah, BUT we should instead encourage Dotti to tell Serah herself. Let Dotti know Serah will be proud of her.

>2. What advice should I give Dotti about dating?

Tell her that while it's good he was helping Dotti with her groceries, and he might give her gifts now and then, she should also consider giving her boyfriend a gift as well, and offer any help he needs. A relationship is also a condiment... I mean a commitment, and involves helping one another out of love. Let her know she should find him a gift, or perhaps draw a pic of him before the date. Tell her its just like how you gave Fritz ice cream to make him feel better

>3. Am I being a good influence on Dotti? It doesn’t feel like it

Serah says you are. And she is being a bit more responsible ever since you took her in as your worker. She at this point might be a bit naive and might need some work on that, but otherwise, she is being good.
>>
No. 1050181 ID: bc4cda

We should inform Serah, it’s her money and professional relationship being used. Give Dotti the advice that dates like it when you listen to them. You show Otis a good time, and he might want to go on more dates.
If you have to ask, you’re doing your best. You’re only one of many influences on Dotti.
>>
No. 1050331 ID: 8483cf
File 166958327730.png - (17.36KB , 750x744 , LF6-48.png )
1050331

Ember the fire djinn isn’t around anymore, so I have to rely on Dotti’s account of the shopping trip.

“Those are some very nice outfits,” I say, eyeing the bags of clothing. “Did Serah teach you about her line of credit, and what it means?”

“I figured it out myself!” Dotti says proudly. “Serah and Landi have to give me clothes as part of my contract, and I haven’t bought many clothes yet. If I gotta do favors every day, Serah has to hold up her end of the deal too.”

“While I can’t argue with that,” I say, “Just remember that you have to spend responsibly. If Serah doesn’t think you’re the most responsible fox spirit in Minga, it’s harder to convince her to ease up on your contract.”

Dotti seems nervous for a second, but then crosses her arms and huffs. “Yeah, well, I like these outfits, and I bet Serah will too! She can make her own shiny gold pieces, I bet she’d love to hear I spent her money on new clothes. I’ll show them to her soon and she’ll have to agree how cute I look in them.”

“That sounds like a good plan,” I say, “But be ready if she asks you to return anything.”

Dotti sticks out her tongue.

“That’s not very ladylike.”

“Serah’s the Lady,” Dotti says, but she stops making that face.

I feel like Dotti is making progress, but there’s only so much I can do to try and influence her. I worry that I give her too much free rein, but… she’s keeping herself under control, compared to her first few days on the job. I guess that’s progress?

And speaking of progress, I’m surprised at the idea of Dotti having a date. I have a sinking feeling about Otis’s tired look he tried to cover up. He didn’t seem very excited about the idea of seeing Dotti again. That’s not a good recipe for a successful relationship; even I, with my limited (and very awkward) experiences prior to going out with Fritz, know that much.

“Well, even so,” I say, “You’ve got a date tomorrow. Congratulations! Otis seems like a very nice boy.”

“Thank you!” Dotti beams. “He’s very fancy and handsome and treats me like everyone except Landi treats Serah. I want to bring Otis everywhere. Landi’s gonna be so jealous!”

“He’s being very polite, yes,” I say. “When I’m with Fritz, we’re able to really connect. The conversation is easy, and fun. And we both give each other gifts, too. You’ll know a date is going well when you lose track of time and just enjoy each other’s company.”

“I’m sure he’ll enjoy it!” Dotti says. She turns away and digs through her bags. “I’ll fluff myself up and be the best I can be, and he’ll have the best date of his life because it’s with me!”

I have to admire Dotti’s confidence.

Kayk has gained 3 stress.

KAYK STRESS: [36/100]
DOTTI STRESS: [28/100]

Day 11


Dotti is in peak form today, and even though we have the same amount of lookie-loos as yesterday (if not a few more), she ignores them until they actually buy something. She’s clearly excited for her first date.

I, meanwhile, am barely keeping up with the orders. Having to run the register and prep the food is taxing, and I also have to look out for the Fire Marshal. If he shows up during the lunch rush, I’m going to lose so much money if I have to show him around…

Thankfully, he doesn’t show up. Things wind down for the day. Perhaps he isn’t going to come today after all.

There’s a knock at the door. I open up, and Otis is standing there with a few flowers in hand. He gives a small bow.

“Miss Terrorscale,” he says. “It’s a pleasure to see you again.”

I wave him in to a pre-prepared seat and call out for Dotti. She scampers out excitedly. I pull out a small vase for their table and get ready to serve the duo some light refreshme-

There’s another knock at the door.

“Pardon me,” a man holding a clipboard says. “I presume you are Miss Terrorscale? I’m here to ask a few questions.”

Oh no no no no! Not now! I have to keep an eye on Dotti’s date! I give him a flustered look.

Kayk has gained 15 STRESS.

“Um… can this wait a little bit?”

“Unfortunately no,” he says, holding up a badge. “I’m the Fire Marshal of Minga, and I’m here to perform a check for compliance with the fire code. It’s for the safety of the community.”

Calm down, Kayk! You prepared for this. Everything is going to go fine. Just take mom’s advice for how to calm down in any situation involving humans: imagine them in naked. Humans always look silly when they’re naked.
>>
No. 1050333 ID: 8483cf
File 166958330332.png - (52.33KB , 750x744 , LF6-49.png )
1050333

Oh no, he’s hot!

I avert my eyes and let the Fire Marshal inside. I have a decision to make.

Dotti, meanwhile, is talking excitedly with Otis, who is completely unable to get a word in edgewise. They still don’t have their refreshments, not even a glass of water.

I can escort the Fire Marshal around myself, and answer his questions as best I can and study what he’s inspecting, or I can split my attention and try to keep an eye on Dotti’s date while serving them.

Should I:
1. Focus on the Fire Marshal 100%, and tell Dotti and Otis to help themselves to food and water
2. Split my attention between the Marshal and the date, and have the chance to offer Dotti advice on obvious social cues she’s definitely missing
>>
No. 1050335 ID: e51896

2. he understands that you have customers, and he's only going to do some inspections of the place, and you spent the time to prepare for his arrival. If we didn't prepare, I would say 1, but since everything was all set, You should be able to focus on two things at once with little issues.
>>
No. 1050337 ID: eec035

2. Time to go to work.
>>
No. 1050339 ID: e5709d

2 and make sure you re-dress in your ugly fire-resistant gear while covering your snout with the ugliest mask you have.
Fire safety over fire style.
>>
No. 1050345 ID: 629f2e

1, this isn't going to go well for Dotti whether you intervene or not, but if you give her advice and it doesn't work out then she might conclude that listening to you was a mistake. She'll be more receptive to your advice after the fact, so don't focus on her.

Give the Fire Marshall your full attention. There's a low but non-zero chance that he may try to create problems to interfere with your business. You don't know the scene here well enough to say for certain this guy isn't taking bribes from any of your competitors. The odds of him trying anything while you're breathing down his neck are far lower.
>>
No. 1050375 ID: 15c72a

>>1050333
1. Two reasons:
a, the Cafe is your first priority, and you already know this inspection isn't totally on the level.
b, Dotti needs to make her own mistakes, so she can learn from them.
>>
No. 1050432 ID: 87e33c

1, let dotti make mistakes, to err is to be human which is what she wants
>>
No. 1050433 ID: 168bd9

1. Dotti is clever and can handle her own social learning. You need this inspection to go off perfectly!
>>
No. 1050443 ID: a7a180

2. The marshal will take note of how you treat your guests, even if it's not part of his official business.
>>
No. 1050447 ID: 8483cf
File 166969173196.png - (3.62KB , 300x300 , LF6-50.png )
1050447

It’s an agonizing decision to make. Even though my shop has just closed for the day, I still don’t want to leave Dotti to handle serving her own date. I was supposed to help out myself and act as chaperone, but… I have to keep my doors open. I point to some leftover treats and coffee, and Dotti nods. She is very perceptive of when there’s free food for the taking.

I follow the Fire Marshal back into my kitchen and don’t let him out of my sight. The oven is cooling off, and it’s just about cool enough to work on. A part of me is worried the Marshal might try to sabotage the oven. Would he really do that? What if he was bribed?

“Tell me about your dragonfire containment,” he says, rolling up his sleeves. “I know the craftsman’s work for the hearth, but who’s the djinn responsible for the extinguisher?”

That’s a trick question. I point at the back of the oven, where there’s a label calling it out, and when the spells were last refreshed.

The Fire Marshal nods and checks a box on his clipboard. “Thanks. Can you help me with your evacuation plan?”

I point it out. It’s tacked to the wall. The exits are also labeled in glow-in-the-dark signage.

“Good. What are you using to store your flour? Can you show it to me?”

Flour is shockingly flammable. I escort him to the storage room.

“Got it. Let me measure the distance to the oven.” He checks his clipboard again, then pulls out a roll of polyester with markings on it. He goes to the other side of the wall and measures the distance from the storage wall to the oven, then comes back in and marks an X. Not a check.

Wait. Is he measuring the distance from the oven to the flour and ignoring there’s a thick wall of brick between them? That doesn’t seem right. I don’t call him on it. Not yet, at least. I don’t want him knowing I know, or knowing how close attention I’m paying to what he’s doing. Not right now. If he’s really being paid to fail me for something, better he fail me for something I know I can argue against and probably win.

The Fire Marshal makes several more checks and a few more X’s, which I have a decent idea of what he’s looking for. They’re the same thing: applying poorly written fire code, like measuring distance from flammable objects or trash bins, without accounting for natural blockages by fire-resistant materials. I suspect he’s going to try and argue that dragon fire is hot enough to burn even brick, but I don’t heat my oven that hot, and it’s designed to shut off if it does get out of control. I know I comply with the code, he’s just going to be muleheaded about it. I think. I’m suddenly very grateful I have Serah to help later with the actual arguing part, if it comes to it.

“That’s that,” the Fire Marshal says. “Now, could you go over your standard operating procedure for this oven? Ignition, extinguishing, cleaning, refueling, and everything else. I’d like to make sure you’re treating it properly.”

This is what I’ve trained for! I’m nervous at first, but the words come easier as I get into it, and by the end I’m forgetting it’s an inspection. The follow-up questions are easy, too, thanks to the prep I did the night before.

“I think that about covers it for part one of three,” the Marshal says.

There’s THREE PARTS?!

Kayk has gained 15 STRESS.

“Now, how about the flat above us? I have in my notes it’s due for an inspection. I’d like to follow the flues, too. Do you have a minute to let me in?”

And here it is. He’s asking to inspect my home. I’m kind of upset at the invasion of privacy, knowing what he’s really looking for.

Seeing my hesitation, the Fire Marshal sighs. “I know it’s not part of your inspection here. Technically, the second floor of this block is all up for inspection, and as they’re multi-family units being leased out, I’m required to inspect them every so often, and I’m just behind, is all. I’m not even assessing your business. In fact, it’s your landlord I’d be asking to make changes if I find anything. You’re completely fine.”

It’s a lame excuse (and he’s probably telling the truth). But it still stinks.

“If you let me cross that off my list, you’d be doing me a big help,” the Fire Marshal says.

Do I let him inspect my flat?
>>
No. 1050449 ID: 629f2e

No. His actions have made it clear that he does not have our best interests at heart here, so we have no requirement to make this easier on him. Especially not when it may potentially open yet more doors for him to shut you us down.

Call him out for his willfully malicious application of fire code to explain why he's not going anywhere near your flat today until he's resolved things here.
>>
No. 1050450 ID: a7a180

No. I think we only have one inspection in us today, we can't get too far from our shop while we still have customers.
>>
No. 1050451 ID: 15c72a

>>1050447
Yes. He's looking for your hoard, and a surprise inspection that you ALLOW will be a solid step towards convincing the city you don't have one.
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No. 1050452 ID: dee951

Let yourself be convinced; he's looking for your hoard, after all, and it would be improper to just cave on this... but you DO want them to know you don't have a hoard here. Though you could start treating your sweaters like a hoard, gushing about how much you love them and collect them and love showing them off, maybe? So he can tell the others that you're a crazy dragon that considers 'very comfy textiles, not even particularly rare or expensive ones' her hoard, so they can stop bugging you!
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No. 1050453 ID: e5709d

"Look, I'll just be up front: I don't keep my hoard anywhere near where I live. Greed can kill you, especially if it's the heavy kind of greed stuck on the top floor of a (relatively) fragile building. I've got security guarding my wealth far, far away from the city."
(Security is yer mum)
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No. 1050459 ID: 58dd24

asking your landlord to make major renovations that will shut down the whole place is within the realm of possibility here. And not leaving the shop while there are still members of the public present is a solid excuse for the hospitality industry.
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No. 1050460 ID: e51896

Yeah, we have nothing to hide. And i feel he is going to deduct more points if we refuse.

If he looks into our clothes closet or dresser tho for our fishnet stockings, and sweater, you have every right to call him a pervert
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No. 1050465 ID: 8483cf
File 166970008791.png - (11.87KB , 500x500 , LF6-51.png )
1050465

There are so many things riding on this Fire Marshal’s inspection: the Council wanting money, the Bakers’ Guild trying to mess with me, and public safety complaints about me and Dotti trying to take over the City or something.

I have the major advantage of knowing that the Fire Marshal has likely been ordered by the City Council to go looking for a dragon hoard. It’s an invasion of privacy, and he has the ability to mess with my Landlord if he doesn’t get what he wants, and he can come back again later with the proper paperwork to enter a residential unit. It’s in my best interest to make this particular problem go away quickly.

On the other hand, Dotti and Otis are here, and they’re technically customers, even if the bakery is closed at the moment. I don’t want to leave them alone.

Ahhh! What do I do?

What would Mom do?

That’s easy. Mom would be assertive. She’d go full Dragon Mom, call out what a jerk the Fire Marshal is being, point out how he’s willfully misapplying the fire code, and dare him to fail her inspection. Go on, fail me and see what happens!

…But Mom doesn’t have to live in a city full of people she’s threatening. And she doesn’t want to sell them pastries either.

Maybe I should try the Dad approach, and be assertively honest. I need to play up the angle of “innocent, but appropriately protective of my ‘hoard.’” It helps that this is, in fact, 100% true.

“I can’t leave my customers alone,” I tell the Fire Marshal. “And I don’t want to let a stranger into my home unsupervised. Um… no offense.”

“None taken,” the Fire Marshal says. “Though, isn’t the fox spirit an employee? You trust her to mind the shop, don’t you?”

“She’s on a date,” I say. “A date that’s been somewhat interrupted.”

“I’ll be quick,” the Fire Marshal says. “Look, between you and me, these residential inspections are routine. I just need to make sure there aren’t any candle mountings set directly underneath to a wooden support beam. Things that are blatantly obvious hazards. It’ll be a quick in-and-out, and we can get on with the real work.”

“You promise?” I ask warily, playing on my own uncertainty of if he’s about to screw over my landlord. “I really can’t leave Dotti and her date alone for very long. It’s terribly rude of me as their host.”

“I promise.”

I allow myself to be convinced to allow him upstairs. He checks the lighting in the entryway and gives it a cursory nod.

“Just the lighting fixtures and any stoves you have, and we can go back downstairs.”

This is going to be hard, but I believe in myself. Just pretend I’m Dad. You can do it, Kayk!

I show him around, making a point to guide him to the candle holders. I mention how nice my landlord is. She’s a wonderful old lady who takes good care of the building and has her sons work on the wood sidings all the time, and oh, here’s the stove, it’s very nice and modern and doesn’t spit smoke everywhere, no I don’t use dragon fire on it, and yes, there are some candles here, and in the bedroom too, I’m very proud of the flat and how I’ve organized it, and oh goodness is that a sweater on the floor? I’m so messy, let me put that away, so sorry you had to avoid it, it’s just so hard to keep things organized sometimes when it’s hard to choose my favorite one to wear, there are just so many options, especially when the weather gets colder like this, the changing seasons just allow for so many opportunities to show off different colors and patterns, winter is my favorite because you can have so many little doodads sewn into your outfit, like this one, see how fuzzy the tree is? I can’t wear it yet because there’s no snow on the ground, it’s a rule I have, but fortunately I have the pink one and it has stripes which are SO CUTE, it just doesn’t work in the spring, spring sweaters are good too but these shades of pink and purple are colder than green, this one is such a spring sweater and it is so COMFY, sometimes you just hate to choose so you gotta get EVERYTHING, you get it don’t you?

“I… think it would be best if we got back to business,” says the Fire Marshal, waving his hands. “I’ve seen everything I need to, ah, update my records. Let’s go back downstairs.”

Aha! Success! Thanks, Dad!

I somehow avoid fainting and head back downstairs with the Fire Marshal.

“That’s part two of three,” he says. “Now for the last one. Are all your employees trained on emergency management procedures, and how to shut down the oven if they need to?”

“I only have one employee,” I say, “and she’s on a date right now.”

“I see. Is she available afterwards? I need to confirm she’s appropriately trained and of the right temperament to handle a dragon fire oven.”

He’s going after Dotti. That bastard! “What does temperament have to do with the fire code?”

“Nothing,” he admits, “But it is part of your responsibility as an employer to ensure that employees handling hazardous materials, such as dragon fire, are trustworthy and even-handed in an emergency. If I can’t say with certainty that you, Kayk, are allowing only trained and responsible employees access to a highly dangerous fuel source, then I can’t allow you to keep operating.”

“I see,” I say. “Well, I can’t require Dotti to stay here past her shift. I recommend you come back when she’s scheduled.”

“And when might that be?”

I need to buy time to make sure Dotti is ready. Ah…

“She has the next two days off,” I say. “I recommend you drop by after the breakfast rush two days from now.”

“I’ll see her in two days, then.” the Fire Marshal flips his papers back and notches his pencil. “Thank you for your time, Miss Terrorscale.”

I show him the door. Once he’s gone, I give a massive sigh and turn around to see a horribly painful sight. Dotti is wearing a forlorn expression and grabbing at Otis’s hand as he’s in the middle of standing up from the table.

“Why are you leaving so soon? You said you were having a good time! Five times!”

“I did,” Otis says. “And I think you’re a wonderful fox spirit, with incredible passion for… your passions. I just… I think you may be happier with someone who shares them.”

“You…” Dotti’s eyes narrow into tiny slits and she grips his hand even harder. “You’re ruining the date!”

Should I intervene?
>>
No. 1050466 ID: a7a180

Yes. That's not what you say to a date, Dotti! Let Otis go home, he's not having a good time.
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No. 1050470 ID: e51896

No. Dotti needs to learn on her own that her actions have consequences. Let Otis dump her and let her learn from this experience.

BUT only intervene if she starts to hurt the guy.
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No. 1050473 ID: 2a82d3

Uh oh. Better first get the cupcakes and ice cream out. Whether or not you get him to leave gracefully, rejection's gonna hit her like a truck, and you gotta be ready.
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No. 1050474 ID: 15c72a

>>1050465
Intervene to make sure Dotti doesn't hurt the poor guy. And maybe tell Dotti that if a date wants to leave, then the right thing to do is to let them.
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No. 1050478 ID: 629f2e

This actually would be a fair time to intervene, if not for Dotti's sake than at least for Otis'.

Approach Dotti and gently separate them. Thank Otis for coming by, and let him leave. Then explain to Dotti what the problem was (the main one at least): That Otis simply didn't share her feelings. A relationship takes two to tango, and that means both parties have to be invested in it.

Otis wasn't ruining the date, he was simply ending it. He didn't feel a connection, and he was honest about his feelings. There was no ill will, he wasn't trying to hurt you. He just couldn't give you what you wanted.

Let her feel sad, it's natural. You can give her advice, answer any questions she has, but more than anything don't forget to address her feelings. This was her first date, and she didn't have any frame of reference to understand how poorly it went until her date suddenly tried to end it. That sucks for her.


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