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File 166701436198.png - (112.47KB , 1000x1000 , LF6c Title.png )
1047747 No. 1047747 ID: 8483cf

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

Takes Place Immediately After POV 6(b): https://questden.org/kusaba/questarch/res/1037510.html#1037510
Expand all images
>>
No. 1047749 ID: 8483cf
File 166701447880.png - (114.15KB , 775x600 , LF6c_1.png )
1047749

At first I didn’t recognize it. It was disorienting. Unnatural. Dizzying, almost.

There’s a pep in my step.

I have enough money to go where I want. Learn what I want. Be who I want. I even have a companion to do it with; someone to watch my back. Someone who maybe, just maybe, understands a small part of me.

There’s nothing stopping me from getting that enchantment on my bow I’d considered a luxury. Or splurging on a new set of casual clothes. Taking that trip and not having to scavenge for provisions on the way. Buying a whole shelf of books. Just locking myself in my room for a week, turning a page and and enjoying the fruits of my-

There’s a knocking at my door.

Oh.

“Come out, ranger,” a woman calls. “We need to talk. Now.”

No, we don’t.

The knocking continues, this time more urgently. “I know you’re in there. I can see the light under the door.” She knocks again, even louder. “I’m not going anywhere, so you had better come out now, if you know what’s good for your bird!”

Taranis? What’s he gotten into? Is she threatening him? Faster than I’d admit, the door is open and I’m staring at a glowering witch.

“I thought that might work,” the witch says. “I’m here to get reclaim some stolen property. Your bird stole some powerful… artifacts a few minutes ago from my friends and me.”

“He’s not my bird,” I say.

“Don’t play dumb,” the witch hisses. “I’ve seen that crow on your shoulder, coming and going from this room.”

“And you think this gives me… authority over him?” I raise my eyebrow. “If you have a problem with Taranis, take it up with him yourself.”

“Oh, I will,” she says. “And you’re going to help me find him. Right now.”

I fail to see how this is my problem.

I close the door on her.

“Hey!” the witch shouts. “I’m going to assume you’re getting dressed to come help me find your bird! Or else!”

1. Get dressed
2. Else

>>
No. 1047751 ID: a7a180

Else. You have undergarments on and she does not. This gives you authority over her, per the witch code.
>>
No. 1047752 ID: 629f2e

Get dressed, but not because she told you to. You don't gotta help her if you don't want to, though admittedly you probably should.
>>
No. 1047753 ID: 33319b

2. Just yell through the door that she is being impatient which isn't nice, and explain that there's no point or sense in running around town looking for him when he'll come find you eventually at some point since he's our companion, so why waste our energy playing hide and seek?
>>
No. 1047783 ID: 5499f4

>>1047753
2, supporting this
>>
No. 1047833 ID: 8483cf
File 166708486901.png - (7.24KB , 500x400 , LF6c_2.png )
1047833

This witch is obviously not thinking clearly. Why would I waste my time looking for Taranis when I know he’ll just be back here later?

“He’ll be back later,” I tell her through the door. “There. I’ve helped you find him.”

The witch gives positively catlike hiss and stomps away. Good riddance. I’ll have to have a talk with Taranis later to get his side of the story.

In the meantime, I’ve got the afternoon all to myself. I’ve finished my workout, topped off my Go Bag, and thanks to my work getting everyone to and from the Terrorscale Lair safely, I’ve got more money than I’ve ever had in my life. I toss myself back on my bed and enjoy the smell of freshly washed sheets.

I feel pret-t-t-y good.

I let my thoughts wander aimlessly until they settle on the book on my nightstand. I reach out and thumb through the pages of Applied Alchemy. It used to rub me the wrong way to incorporate items I couldn’t make or fix in the field into my arsenal, but ever since Serah gave me that Feline Grace mutagen, I’ve taken a new approach to mixing things up.

Well, that and staring down a life-size dragon may have forced me to reconsider how far my purist approach will get me.

With my new practice making traps, I could ask Serah to coach me on how to safely store, carry and prime freezing and/or explosive traps. Or I could ask for some rudimentary bombs I can fit to special arrowshafts for precision warheads. Maybe I could even ask for her to improve my mutagen to the next level, or even try something entirely new.

The sky’s the limit.

Maybe cat ears?

No. No cat ears.

Should I:
1. Focus on incorporating alchemical bombs and acids into my traps and arrows;
2. Offer to let Serah test out improving her mutagens on me (suggest improvements/specific upgrades); or
3. Other (Refer to Serah’s schools of alchemy here: https://questden.org/kusaba/questarch/res/984338.html#986206)
>>
No. 1047835 ID: d98cb8

YES CAT EARS

But also B) why not something to enhance your vision if you're not gonna give in to the cat ears?
>>
No. 1047838 ID: e51896

CAT EARS! BECOME CAT ELF

Nah, no cat ears as fun as it sounds. She's fine the way she is.

A. Serah has gotten experienced at making these bombs, and her confidence probably got better. I think she's ready to make a GRAVITY BOMB now. I want to see if she'll succeed in making one after all her fears of failing of making one
>>
No. 1047839 ID: a7a180

2! Test out mutagens, those don't need specialist upkeep in the field! Something that allows temporary form shifting, or upgrades to your catlike grace. is there anything that helps her iterate on her patented jotund juice that would have benefits for you too? Potions to make you a longer, more graceful elf that can leap to amazing heights?
>>
No. 1047849 ID: 5499f4

Do you really want to be spending your days in a lab for 1? Really? Even if you come up with dumbed down versions that's still money, and you only just now solved your money problems. Your value is in the utility you have access to and are able to respond with. I think

2

Would be a good choice, though if you do not prefer the ears of a cat, maybe something more on the eyes, or something shifting related that will add to your flexibility.

OR, if you wanted a good in between, Oils. Oils are less high maintenance to make, can be done with resources gathered in the fields, stored for a long time, and are less volatile and can be used to augment weapons and more importantly *arrows*

So, to clarify, my vote is 2 unless other people agree that 3 is a better option (imo it is), in which case my vote will be to back up 3-oils
>>
No. 1047857 ID: e5709d

Yes to cat tail. With the right setup, you could effectively have a third limb for balance and holding your spare arrows.
Plus they feels good.
>>
No. 1047861 ID: dee951

Cat tail AND cat ears.

But only if you end up with only two ears, not four!

And also, claws, but ONLY the type that can be retracted when not in use!

And fur, but only on tail/ears.

And the ability to purr (not roar), but only if it doesn't interfere with your existing speech!
>>
No. 1047862 ID: ffae58

>>1047861
This, but also most importantly, add beans!

And have her have fur everywhere instead of just ears and tail!
>>
No. 1047863 ID: 894419

>>1047833
I'm gonna put an anti-vote on being a cat-girl here, you're more original than that!

Go for 2 though, ask for mutagens that can increase the density of your muscles and their tensile strength! You could be bounding and leaping your way across city rooftops with your super legs!
>>
No. 1047864 ID: e51896

>>1047863
I'm going to support this one if 1 loses (though we really need to make sure Serah is confident enough to make gravity bombs at some point at a later date if we don't do it now)

I prefer Rae's current design over becoming a cat.
>>
No. 1047866 ID: dee951

>>1047863

Ahhh, muscle density. The old standby of transhuman (and elf and dwarf or whatever) augmentation.

See, there's a thing with this. If you are going to want to increase muscle density, then you're going to want to adjust the composition of your bones to be sturdier while still being light. Then you're going to want to adjust the muscles to also be faster at moving, not just stronger. Then you'll want to adjust the connective tissues so that they can handle the extra stresses. Then you're going to want to adjust your blood's ability to handle oxygen, and the efficiency of your lungs to go with it. Then the nerve rate of signal propagation so you can handle the extra capacity for speed and reflexes and such. Then you'll want to tweak your nutrient intake, what sorts of food you can digest (and where in your body/by what mechanism that digestion happens), your metabolic rate, to balance all these extra calorie-intensive tweaks so that you don't have to spend literally all your time eating, and also to manage your sleep cycle AND by the way, your longevity as well. THEN you start looking into disease and cancer and poison resistance, because a lot of this stuff probably does negatively impact your propensity for cancer later in life... Really if you are going to start down the path of 'just be stronger!', you really, REALLY need a plan. Transspeciesism is NOT for the feint of the heart, the un-dedicated, OR those incapable of pre-planning!

So... for an example, what would a 'basic' comprehensive mutagenic enhancement plan that tweaks a little bit of everything look like, from where you stand?
>>
No. 1047868 ID: dee951

>>1047864

The thing with being a catgirl, you either keep the changes very minor (ears, tail, fur on those), IE, stuff that might go with whatever you look like, OR you go all in (facial structure, fur everywhere, whiskers, cat eyes of some sort, tail, handpaws/footpaws, claws, sense improvements to smell hearing and night sight, balance and proprioception improvement, ability to purr or roar, extra suppleness and flexibility, etc. etc. etc.). You DON'T want to end up in kind of a halfway 'that just looks off' kind of look. You want your look --and capabilities-- to be cohesive and coherent and make sense!
>>
No. 1047967 ID: 629f2e

2, Mutagens

I'm against cat ears on Rae. Rae has a great aesthetic as is, we don't need to fuck it up by introducing traits that don't fit with it.

Muscle density sounds a bit like Jotund's Might, which may give Serah war flashbacks if you suggest it. Maybe she can brew up some Greater Dragon Armor instead? Inspiration from being around Kayk.
>>
No. 1048004 ID: cfd316

Mutagen.

Have you considered squid (or perhaps even kraken?). Hard to break bendy bones. Squeeze through all sorts of places. Chamelon skin! Stretch your limbs out to be the tallest whenever desired.
>>
No. 1048015 ID: dca947

>>1048004
+1 woomy to catsquid.
>>
No. 1048016 ID: 629f2e

>>1048004

You're a kid! You're a squid!

Squid mutagen. Yes.
>>
No. 1048038 ID: 15c72a

Extra arms could increase the firing rate of a bow...
>>
No. 1048101 ID: dee951

>>1048038

So could those fancy repeating longbow device thingies. She should get one of those, they're great fun.
>>
No. 1048294 ID: 8483cf
File 166743710214.png - (27.55KB , 600x600 , LF6c_3.png )
1048294

I am conflicted. Frankly, I didn’t expect this question to be so difficult to answer.

I’m proud of my body and how well I’ve trained myself. I have a good forty-three years of experience with it, and my muscle memory is very, very good. I can draw and fire an arrow in less than a second completely flat-footed, and if I’m prepared, that only gets faster. I’m not concerned about my rate of fire or my accuracy.

What does concern me are my reflexes and senses. In a fight, the first shot usually wins. Strength is great, but the strongest warrior will still (usually) die to an arrow through the eye socket, barring enchantments, and those can be bypassed with the right counterspells on your arrowheads.

My right eye is fine. I’ve trained it well enough that I have my depth perception back.

My left eye… it should be so, so much more than it is.

The necrotic rot from the bear’s claws should have killed me. My family would have probably preferred that. If I hadn’t been cut down before I was ready, I’d be unstoppable. I’d be able to see my opponents’ moves before they knew what they’d do themselves.

Now? I’m lucky to see their silhouette. Granted, I can see it through solid objects, but it’s still a far cry from what I fucking should be able to do.

I grip my knees tight. Let it go, Rae. No sense being upset over the things you can’t change. No priest or priestess has been able to heal my wound; I’m not surprised, since my rival Druidic Circle prides themselves on that kind of handiwork. I can say many things about how far my people have fallen culturally, I can’t say elves have lost touch with the fine art of battle.

Refocusing on the issue at hand, bomb-arrows are a good idea in theory, but I’m not sure I’d appreciate the time and money sink in practice. Perhaps they could be useful if I had a patron or master-at-arms providing them free of charge, but I really don’t want to join up with anyone long-term. I like my freedom to do, and be, who I want.

I can’t change what’s been done to me. But I could change other things about myself. Just to try it. Just a few weeks of cat ears, maybe a tail? For the sensory boost and extra limb, of course.

No. I already covered this. I’m not the cute one, Taranis has that covered. I have my dignity. My very, very important dignity.

Mutagens that strengthen my strengths are a good idea, I think. I want to be fast, balanced, and maintain my muscle memory. I keep finding myself drawn to the cat mutagens that enhance reflexes and twitch muscles. I think I may be able to train my scarred left eye to be not as horrible, and maybe regain a little more use of it, but it always causes me a bit of pain to remember what I could have been.

I don’t like the idea of softening my body or skeleton with squid mutagens. I need power and precision, not the ability to take a hit. Same goes for dragon armor. Though it is tempting to imagine what Serah could do with a real, live dragon like Kayk to take samples from… hmm.

I like the idea of asking Serah to improve my Feline Grace mutagen to improve my reflexes and regular, allowing me to synergize with my seersight. Feline Grace also already provides perfect balance and increased precision in melee attacks with my ancestral blade. Perhaps she could also improve my tensile strength as well, if she’s confident enough to test her skills on me.

Rae has voiced her opinions on mutagens. This is an additional chance to influence her ultimate decision.
>>
No. 1048297 ID: 15c72a

>>1048294
Cat reflexes it is. Also, perhaps more of a focus on learning to use your damaged eye could restore some of the precognition it had.
...maybe the problem is not the flesh, but the magic? Have you tried seeing a wizard about it, instead of a priest?
>>
No. 1048298 ID: a7a180

Pushing the boundaries of her craft? Samples from Kayk? Go for it!
>>
No. 1048305 ID: 492cd0

Well I guess squids are almost entirely muscle too? Especially krakens if Serah can get a sample. And have an interesting level of bodily awareness give their cameoflague and mimicry.

Also planning around never getting hit means you'll crumble when you do get hit.
>>
No. 1048335 ID: 894419

>>1048305
oh squid/octopus skin mimicry could be REALLY useful, if you feel like that's achievable
>>
No. 1048347 ID: e5709d

The only thing worse than losing something forever is realizing you could never have had it in the first place. Think about it.

... For now, why not take from that which has stolen from you?
Bear Wrists Mutagen - Your grip can shatter bones. Aimed attacks at your arms and wrists will not disarm your bow or arrows. You'll never lose your clawing when hanging on for dear life.

The druids stole your future. Steal theirs.
>>
No. 1048422 ID: dee951

Agree on improving the Feline Grace stuff with associated skills and aptitudes!
>>
No. 1048520 ID: 8483cf
File 166768031475.png - (18.92KB , 500x500 , LF6c_4.png )
1048520

I definitely want to improve my reflexes, and see what Serah can do with Kayk to improve her mutagens. The squid mutagen idea seems terrible, but then I remember that they can make their skin blend in with their surroundings. If I was able to do that myself, I’d eliminate the need for my Camouflage spell (assuming the mutagen somehow worked on my hair, too).

Wait. Could the squid mutagen let me change my hair color without magic, whenever I want?

This demands further investigation.

I roll out of bed and get dressed into my supremely comfortable outfit Miss Venmiphi made me a few months ago. I’m tempted to visit her again, but even flush with money as I am, she’s expensive enough to put me off the idea. I’ll find something cheap and casual… but still, that was what got me stuck in that miniskirt and too-small blouse for months. Maybe I can use the fact that her assistant, Patches, burned my old outfit to get another discount? No, still too expensive.

I have other things to occupy my attention, like finding Serah. Despite what I’ve said about my eye, it’s still very, very useful for stealth and searching. Thanks to my training on the trip to the Terrorscale lair, if I focus, my ruined eye can see through most anything, and focus in on shapes from a distance. It’s saved me so much time in searching for Taranis, Dotti and Landi whenever they wander off.

I don’t see Serah anywhere in the guild, not even in the Alchemist’s Lab (there seems to be some minor chaos being cleaned up in there; perhaps the witch wasn’t exaggerating). However, I do find a familiar fluttering fairy’s form in the Adventurers’ Guild lounge. Perhaps she’ll know what Serah is up to. I let my x-ray vision fade into the background and make my way over to Landi.

Landi is even more hyperactive than usual. She’s harassing any adventurer that passes her by, and they’re all fleeing for some reason. This is a red flag, but in Landi’s case, I’m so used to those I could make a quilt out of those.

“Landi,” I say, announcing myself behind her.

“Gah! Stealth elf!” she jolts. “You almost gave me a fucking heart attack!”

It’s pretty nice being able to sneak up on a fairy.

“I need to speak with Lady Kensington,” I say.

“She’s out,” Landi says. “Helping my sorority sister Rocio move house. Won’t be back for a bit.”

“Shouldn’t you be helping? You’re her companion.”

“She’ll be fine,” Landi says. “It’s just moving some heavy boxes in a place famous for its highly caloric food. What’s the worst that could happen?”

“I see. Well, when she returns, tell her I’d like to talk to her about-“

“Sure, sure,” Landi interrupts. “But first, can you help a girl out? Pleeeeeeeease?”

“No.”

“Come on, don’t be like that,” Landi says. “Look, I’ve got a kind of… uh… performance review tomorrow with Big Sodium, and I need to prove I’ve been doing stuff that makes her happy. And you’re PERFECT for that. Just hang around me tomorrow for a bit in some nice makeup and let me pizzazz your outfit a bit, and everything will be great!”

“No.”

“Agh!” Landi spins crazily in midair as she tugs on her own wings in distress, the physics of which I can’t begin to comprehend. “Rae, please! You gotta help me look good for the Dandruff Djinn! I’ll do anything within reason.”

“No.”

“You’re killing me, Rae! Please!”

“You said you’d do anything?”

“Yes!”

Everything about this is suspicious. I seriously doubt Landi would be able to make it worth my while for… whatever this is.

Can she? Should I take the deal?
>>
No. 1048524 ID: a7a180

Take the deal. Now, what was Nasty Clarice fond of again? Ah right, change or halting it. The latter is harder without her help, so agree to a chance to dress up in exchange for a chance to change up Landi's outfit too. How'd she look in a leather jacket and tightpants?
>>
No. 1048525 ID: 629f2e

Absolutely take this deal. Putting aside what she can do for you, Salt isn't the kind of entity you fuck around with. Do your part to keep her happy, so that Serah continues to have a fairy companion at all.

Plus, it never hurts to have a favor you can call in from a magical creature.
>>
No. 1048526 ID: 15c72a

>>1048520
Hmmmm... ok, take the deal, but instead of the outfit thing, tell her about your witch problem. Throwing a monkey wrench into her plans should be good.
>>
No. 1048617 ID: 8483cf
File 166777811692.png - (9.72KB , 500x500 , LF6c_5.png )
1048617

I’m not sure why I’m suddenly the go-to for trouble with tiny winged creatures. Somehow it feels vaguely offensive. Plus, procrastination on Landi’s part doesn’t mean I should reward her by bailing her out with clown makeup and frilly dresses, which for some reason she sees as essential to winning her patron Djinn’s favor.

Still, Landi needs my help, and she’s offered to pay for it. I’ve definitely taken worse jobs.

“Deal,” I say. “You provide the makeup and dress tomorrow, as long as it’s not that gaudy abomination from Girls’ Night at the library.”

“YES!” Landi shrieks. “You saved my butt, Rae. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

“Don’t mention it. Seriously.”

I leave a very relieved fairy behind and head to the park to clear my head.

---------

Things have changed over the past few months. I’ve changed.

As it turns out, I am worthy of an animal companion. A divine one, at that, if a troublesome one.

I have money and respect from Lady Kensington, and potentially future employment if she ventures out again. I have a favor from a manic fairy who has more social connections than common sense. And Dotti isn’t scared out of her wits when she sees me, at least when I don’t look like I’m about to take her out to go jogging.

I hear a familiar chirrup. The skunk is back, fluffier than before. Fall is just a few days away.

“Hello,” I reply. The skunk scoots up to me.

“You look well,” I say, giving it a pet. “I take it that means you’ve been successfully competing for trash with Dotti.”

The skunk chirrups again. It’s a very perceptive animal. I stop petting it, and it looks up at me in displeasure.

“No pets until you answer me honestly,” I say. “You’re not some druid shapeshifting to mess with me, are you?”

The skunk growls indignantly.

“Not a druid, then,” I say. “Are you secretly the Mastermind of Minga, deciding who lives and who dies?”

The skunk sticks out its tongue.

“I knew it,” I say, and resume petting.

I feel very good today.

Rae has FREE TIME today. She has already worked out, studied traps, read a tawdry book, and pondered mutagens.

Suggest an activity.

>>
No. 1048619 ID: a7a180

Archery practice! Can she beat her high score?
>>
No. 1048626 ID: e51896

After accomplishing so much, doing a bunch of training, and having enough money to live a relatively good life, and since we're in this moment of peace...

Do you want to see about giving dating a try and see if it works for you?

You said you weren't looking for a relationship, but that was when you were busy trying to get by. Now that your living comfortably, maybe you're free to look now?

Go into a bar, or the heroes guild cafeteria, find if any adventurers are willing to mingle, just talk and share stories of yours and their adventures. Maybe something will sprout from that.
>>
No. 1048655 ID: e51896

>>1048626
And even if Rae doesn't want to find a suitor, she can still share stories from adventurers. Who knows, she might hear some interesting information for the future. (and love tends to strike when you're not actually actually looking, so who knows, she might unintentionally find a potential date)
>>
No. 1048726 ID: 8483cf
File 166787156451.png - (3.25KB , 300x299 , LF6c_6.png )
1048726

I continue to pet the skunk. The skunk continues to enjoy it. This has to be some form of meditation, because it’s easy to lose track of time.

Time. There are only so many hours in the day, and now that I don’t have to worry about so many different things, I’m not sure how to spend it. My first thought is to do what I’ve always done: keep my skills sharp. Maybe I could try out a different style of bow, mix a few things up to get just a little more piercing power? It’s tempting, and I wouldn’t have the pressure of needing a 100% reliable setup to pay for my guild dues.

Or maybe, just maybe, I could go prowling.

It’s been a while since I bothered to let anyone catch my eye… maybe we could shake the bedposts a bit.

It could be fun. It could also be a disappointment, a waste of time, or even worse. I don’t need anybody chasing after something I’m not interested in giving.

No, it’s not worth the hassle. I’m not feeling up to seeing the look of yet another clod when they lean in for a kiss and pull back my bangs.

Archery practice it is.
>>
No. 1048727 ID: 8483cf
File 166787160081.png - (90.59KB , 1000x634 , LF6c_7.png )
1048727

No high scores today, but I did get more familiar with several different strings and bows. The best part is that they’re all maintainable in the field- it’s the extra boost of freedom that makes my heart pound.

I make my way back from the bowmaker and spy a familiar silver-streaked crow in the marketplace. He’s perched on a woodlark-kin’s shoulder next to a glowing orange fairy.

Hold on a moment- she’s a ranger from the guild, too. Have I been replaced? I quicken my stride and-

No, that’s ridiculous. I slow back down. He’s probably just flirting with the fairy. Somehow.

A few seconds later, Taranis sees me out of the corner of his eye and flaps his wings excitedly. The ranger girl and her fairy companion turn to greet me.

“Oh! Hi!” the wing-kin says. “You must be Raelynn! I’m Apricot, and this is Autumn.”

“Hello,” says the fairy.

“Taranis invited us to hang out with you tonight,” Apricot says, “And how could we say no?”

“Taranis has very good taste in friends.” Autumn gives a tiny flutter of her wings. “I love your happy hair.”

Oh. Oh, no. It’s so much worse than it seemed.

Taranis has minions.

Choose one or more:
1. Decline the invitation to hang out
2. Tell Taranis he’s in deep trouble with some witches
3. Assert dominance
4. Other
>>
No. 1048728 ID: a7a180

3. Stretch your wings wide and boop all the snoots, the fairy's included. If Taranis is going to gather minions you are going to drill them into birds of one feather!
>>
No. 1048730 ID: e51896

3. Let them know that you were harassed by a witch, and you're going to need their protection if she starts bothering you again, said something about panties stealing or whatever, and you're not sure if she'll have friends to help her against you, so you need Taranis, Autumn, and Apricot on your side to make things even just in case. (pay attention as to how Taranis reacts to your "request")

(You're not REALLY going to fight the witches, rather, you're just playing along to to mess with Taranis a little. If Apricot and Autumn is unsure about this, just whisper to them out of Taranis' earshot that you're mainly doing this to mess with Taranis for stealing. See if he feels guilty for getting you into this mess)

Yes, I'm turning this into the Witch who lost their panties, but this time from the villains perspective.
>>
No. 1048743 ID: 87e33c

>>1048728
Assert dominance playfully, you may not be in a romantic mood, but you were in a good mood, so playing with Taranis in this way when you know that shit's going to come down for *whatever* he did is fair play since you obveously wont throw him under a bus for her to like kill or imprison him.
>>
No. 1048744 ID: f06dc5

So... why does he want panties? Is he amorously unfulfilled and lusting after biped peole? Has he figured out some sort of weird magic involving items obtained by trickery? Or just... some kind of clothing based magic? Why panties in particular, rather than the traditional corvid shiny things? Does he need a supply of powerful magic for self improvement? This might be a bird after your own heart! You have a duty to investigate, and then, as long as it isn't something horrible, *do right by your familiar"!
>>
No. 1048745 ID: 47f46a

2. Tell him about the witches. Ruin his day!
>>
No. 1048793 ID: 8483cf
File 166797020012.png - (14.43KB , 500x402 , LF6c_8.png )
1048793

It’s time to establish the pecking order. I hold out my arm and Taranis lands atop it.

“Thank you for the compliment,” I tell Apricot, and give her a quick boop on the beak with the arm opposite Taranis. She lets out a high-pitched chirp of surprise. “It’s good of you to keep Taranis safe.”

“Safe?” Autumn asks. “Is he in danger?”

I nod. “Yes. He’s being hunted. By a coven of witches, in fact.”

“Oooh!” Apricot flaps her wings wide. “Why would want to hunt him? Lemme at ‘em!”

“Why indeed?” I look at Taranis. “The witch I spoke to was very vague about the whole thing. She didn’t give very many details.”

Taranis flutters his wings nervously. Everyone looks at him.

I’m not going to throw Taranis under the figurative wagon by saying my suspicions. That’s up to him if he wants to come clean to his new minions.

Does Taranis confess his crimes?
>>
No. 1048795 ID: 629f2e

Confess? He fucking boasts about it.
>>
No. 1048796 ID: a7a180

To one of his marks? No.
>>
No. 1048797 ID: e51896

He does not, because this is the more silly choice.
>>
No. 1048803 ID: 894419

>>1048793
What ever could you mean Taranis commits no crimes, Taranis only engages in daring resuces and good deeds, all else is slander!
>>
No. 1048807 ID: dee951

Taranis doesn't confess per se. But he boasts about things... and inadvertently lets on precisely what he was ACTUALLY doing, since he IS actually proud of what he did! It's too much to resist, how horrible would it be if no one knew of his genius?!
>>
No. 1048812 ID: e5709d

Taranis takes the shrewd option and short-sells the truth! He chants a lewd song about his newfound powers manifested from the servants of the gods and the wealth they'll bring and the many undergarments he had to steal as ritual components for these boons!
>>
No. 1048891 ID: 8483cf
File 166805397652.png - (14.61KB , 391x500 , LF6c_9.png )
1048891

Taranis shrugs his wings. He has absolutely no idea why some witches would be hunting such a helpful and noble bird like him who only does good deeds and performs daring wardrobe-related rescues.

“Yeah!” Apricot says. “A witch hunt doesn’t make sense. What could a cute lil’ bird like Taranis do to a whole bunch of powerful witches with big spells and stuff?”

“Maybe there’s another black bird or familiar who stole something from them,” Autumn says, “and they’re blaming Taranis for it. Clearly, any bird who stole something from a coven of witches would have to be exceptionally clever and quick-clawed to avoid being roasted, especially if that crow had stolen something exceptionally powerful from them.”

Taranis bobs his head in vigorous agreement.

“I heard some witches have magical undergarments,” I say nonchalantly. “Maybe the bird stole it right off them?”

“No way,” Apricot says. “That’s ridiculous. I don’t care how clever some birds might be, they can’t steal the panties right off somebody.”

Taranis ruffles his feathers indignantly. Of course it’s possible!

“It’s silly,” Apricot scoffs. “I think it’s very unfair of those witches to blame you for something you obviously didn’t do. Don’t worry, we’ll defend you.”

“I’m glad you’re on his side,” I say. “What would he do without you?”

Taranis glares at me and makes a long, drawn-out squawk.

“It might not be safe for Taranis at the adventurers’ guild until the witches realize they have the wrong bird,” Autumn says. “Maybe we could go camping for a bit? There’s a reward for information on malevolent spirits in the woods outside Minga, we might even get paid for it.”

“I’m not in my adventuring gear,” Apricot complains. “And I hate getting into it. Plus I left it at the guild.”

“Don’t worry, I have it in my inventory!”

Apricot groans.

“The woods shouldn’t be too dangerous,” Autumn continues, “Except for that Spirit of Bloodshed that got reported a few months ago, and those other ones we haven’t identified yet,” Autumn says. “And gear wouldn’t be very useful against them anyway, unless you have an enchanted weapon. We would just keep an eye out and report back what we see.”

As a matter of fact, I do have a sword that can harm spirits. Samhain is my go-to against… well, everything that gets close, but doubly so against spirits that can’t be affected by normal arrows. I’ve got it and my archery gear with me at the moment.

I don’t like the idea of camping with these two newbie adventurers, but there’s no separating them from Taranis at the moment. And I won’t leave Taranis to deal with either the witches or spirits alone.

What should I suggest?
1. Forget camping; insist we solve the situation with the witches right now
2. Go straight out to camping, and let Apricot go casual
3. Go camping, but insist Apricot gear up first
>>
No. 1048893 ID: a7a180

3.
>>
No. 1048896 ID: 629f2e

3. I'd say 1, but the newbies might follow. Taranis is probably totally guilty. Let's not out him in front of his minions.
>>
No. 1048897 ID: 894419

>>1048891
3 I think
>>
No. 1048898 ID: e51896

kinda 2, kinda 3 (but lean towards 2) Let her decide while giving her a simple warning

Let Apricot know If she doesn't want to gear up, she doesn't have to as you understand it might be less restrictive on a bird that needs their entire wings to fly, and that gear would hold her down... but also warn her that while it might be safe in the forest, she should know that as an adventurer, she should always be prepared for the unexpected and stay protected with gear to protect herself from wardrobe malfunctions or injuries that could happen during a surprise fight.

it's up to her to listen to that warning, as It'll be a learning experience if something does happens to her that required her to gear up, and if she doesn't gear up, you're strong enough to make sure things to get worse for her and she'll learn her lesson. Experience is the greatest teacher after all, and she could use it. And if she complains, just say "i tried to warn you"
>>
No. 1048899 ID: 15c72a

>>1048891
3. Give advice for her to make the gear more comfortable.
>>
No. 1048998 ID: 8483cf
File 166814110113.png - (63.04KB , 1059x1112 , LF6c_10.png )
1048998

“A quick foray into the woods is a good plan to make money and buy time,” I say, “But not without protection.”

“Awww,” Apricot whines. “I hate getting into my gear. It’s such a hassle.”

“Even with my help?” Autumn asks, a little downcast.

“I know you’re trying your best,” Apricot says. “Sorry.”

“We could get a few extra accessories, if that would make things more exciting,” Autumn adds. “You have a little money left over from your first mission.”

“Yeah!”

I follow the duo to a nearby armorer’s shop. They disappear into the changing stall, and I ask them what kind of gear might help her combat style.

Apricot is a dive-bombing melee fighter who relies on Autumn to provide armor and spell resistance, as well as buffs to strength so she can lift magic casters up and drop them from high in the air. With Autumn’s inventory magic adding aerial bombardment capabilities, she also has an (expensive) option for safer assaults if she can buy alchemist’s bombs.

Paperdoll! Edit in an outfit for Apricot to wear.
>>
No. 1049002 ID: fb2164
File 166815379569.png - (80.68KB , 1059x1112 , x-tremetactical.png )
1049002

Tactical.
Maneuverability.

Belt (with room for any consumables to hook in) and Goggles.

Nothing else :V
>>
No. 1049014 ID: dee951

Okay, I'm no artist, but artist people... those talons are going to need some metal bits for extra damage and to protect her primary means of attack! And maybe some cloth armor, something lightweight? But focused on protecting the legs and groin, often from attacks from below! And a leather helmet of some sort! And goggles!
>>
No. 1049026 ID: 481e64
File 166819859536.png - (185.21KB , 1059x1112 , Illustration3.png )
1049026

My suggestion is for an outfit which allows the swift delivery of payloads upon all your foes
>>
No. 1049028 ID: 481e64
File 166819866922.png - (214.56KB , 1059x1112 , Illustration4.png )
1049028

Here is another featuring some of the suggestions from >>1049014
>>
No. 1049032 ID: 694c7b

>>1049028
That is one badass aviatrix!
>>
No. 1049052 ID: 9b127b
File 166821343220.png - (166.71KB , 1059x1112 , PaperDoll1.png )
1049052

A perfectly practical outfit...
>>
No. 1049071 ID: 5499f4
File 166822741870.png - (72.86KB , 1059x1112 , DonutApricotPaperDoll.png )
1049071

She doesen't like it because it's hard to get the belts on and the shoulder armor. The leg strap for the knife is also annoying but very neccesary to grasp with her other leg!

Crotches out! Bird crotch power!
>>
No. 1049073 ID: dee951

>>1049028

Out of curiosity, what would cloth armor that is less 'khaki-wearing explorer kit' and more 'actual gambeson or linothorax or something, I dunno!' look like? Most of those tend to be very much torso armor, so I don't know if there's a viable way to do that in a 'you expect attack to come from below' means, hmmm! Still, it's pretty awesome!

As far as the other suggested options... it doesn't LOOK like those claws on the wings can grab things especially well; what sorts of bags and satchels and bandoliers would synergize most with the actual available inventory magic? Maybe something that lets the inventory magic throw alchemical bombs OR metal aerial flechettes equally well??
>>
No. 1049097 ID: a7a180
File 166826596290.png - (93.46KB , 1059x1112 , death from above.png )
1049097

Don't need to fuss about your top half when you're flying above your enemies. Save that weight for an armored underside and steel talons. Steel talons rule!
>>
No. 1049099 ID: dee951

>>1049097

Needs more foot and thigh armor! Getting your foot cut off would be horrible! Also lots of important arteries on the thighs!
>>
No. 1049102 ID: f46656

>>1049071
Wings need to move a lot to fly so the pauldrons would probable be more trouble than help. Excluding that belts and pouches seem function.

>>1049097
The skirt may restrict how far apart she can move the legs.
Would this claw accessories be glued in place? They would need to be attached to a custom glove with buckles to stay in place.

>>1049028
For the most part this seem very functional. If votes count my is for this.
The belts doesn't seem to serve any function as they are, but they could be support for pouches.
The sleeves got to go, they interfere with the feathers.
>>
No. 1049103 ID: e27f22
File 166827854190.png - (84.57KB , 1059x1112 , Illustration.png )
1049103

>>
No. 1049647 ID: 8483cf
File 166889670516.png - (42.30KB , 579x500 , LF6c_11.png )
1049647

>>1049002
Apricot thinks goggles are cool. She has at least three pairs.

>>1049026
I ask what she’s used to wearing, and Apricot mentions her first part-time job was a mail carrier. She’s used to flying long distances with a payload, despite her small stature.

>>1049028
Apricot’s current scouting and ground attack outfit has buckles for payload release as well as places for Apricot to grab on to, but it’s relatively unarmored.

>>1049052
Autumn insists Apricot try on a nightie to kill time while the shopkeep works on a few adjustments to her armor. It’s a huge hit with the Murder members, but I don’t see the big deal. At least it doesn’t take up much space in Autumn’s inventory.

>>1049071
This outfit is a solid choice for defending attacks from above and maintaining light weight. However, Apricot refuses to wear her aerial dogfighting armor without pants.

“I’m a big city bird with big city fashion sense. The pantsless look is so backwater bird,” Apricot declares with utter finality.

>>1049097
Likewise, Apricot also refuses to skimp on her top. The dressed-down look is so provincial.

“Wait,” Autumn says. “Didn’t you come from a small little-“

“SHHH!”

>>1049103
Apricot can put on tee shirts, but taking them off is an adventure all by itself. Plus the sleeves get in the way of her feathers.

Apricot is mixing and matching among different sets of armor. I agree that she should likely armor her talons and/or thighs, but as we’ll be on a reconnaissance mission, this is a preventative measure against unexpected enemies more than anything else. If we actually run into a spirit, there’s very little Apricot can do other than point out its location and relay it to me to finish off with my blade, Samhain.

It would be a terrific help if any of Taranis’s Murder could communicate with me over long distance. I ask if they know any spells that would make communication easier and clearer than using the coded bird calls I normally do. Apricot and Autumn don’t have anything like that. Taranis hesitates, but eventually shakes his head. He’s hiding something, I can tell, but I won’t press him over something so minor.

What genuinely concerns me is that we’ll be searching the area adjacent to where I saw the uncleansed circle of ritual druidic combat. If my old Circle is using that place to fight against other Circles, they’ll likely have a presence in the area. They won’t want to make it known, of course, and Autumn isn’t well-trained enough to spot my Circle’s warriors, scouts or pick out their thralled wildlife. I’ll have to do that myself.

I sincerely do not want to encounter any Circle members, even Uí Liatháin. If they make their presence known, it’s because they have issues with someone. Usually brought up at point of blade, claw or arrow. And that’s assuming we- they- don’t just kill their target without giving it a chance to fight.

Circle members will ignore Apricot, Autumn and Taranis; the Murder is utterly beneath their notice. For me… well, I’ve operated out of neutral territory for years and haven’t run into them yet. But that was before the fights started. My one advantage is that no Circle expects my ruined eye to be working again. I’m the only one of the group who stands a chance at spotting the signs of an elven ambush and surviving. I’m also the only one worth ambushing from their point of view. Again, that’s assuming any of the Circles have an active presence in the area.

With all that said…

Do I give Apricot any advice on whether to armor specific parts of her body? Which armor set/s should she choose?
>>
No. 1049652 ID: e51896

Knee armor and skirt of >>1049097
Shoulder armor, top, of >>1049071
metal talon claw shoes of >>1049028
bag to carry stuff in of >>1049026
goggles of >>1049002
pajamas for night time camping of >>1049052
And finally, this symbol somewhere on her top >>1049103

A little bit of one thing from each of the costumes
>>
No. 1049656 ID: e51896
File 166890108884.png - (356.24KB , 1059x2224 , gear.png )
1049656

>>1049652
pictured is what I'm talking about

One with scarf, one without. (scarf might be a little much since it covers the shoulder armor, but I'll leave it up to Donut and other suggestions)
>>
No. 1049660 ID: b4571d

>>1049656
this is a really good get-up, I personally would go for further the look of hoplites, if its armor she needs leave her arms bare, give her greaves and a muscle cuirass!
>>
No. 1049661 ID: b4571d

NO PANTS THOUGH! Just a birdly skirt...
>>
No. 1049662 ID: dee951

>>1049661

If it's not some kind of leather armor skirt thing with strips of armor hanging down, you definitely want it to have pleats and not be so tight, so your legs have the most freedom of movement!
>>
No. 1049666 ID: dee951

I also REALLY don't like those poorly designed pauldrons (they REALLY restrict wing movement), nor do I like the memetic design.

Honestly, this:

>>1049028

With only the short sleeves removed so as not to impact wing movement, is perfectly fine.
>>
No. 1049677 ID: 629f2e

>>1049097

Honestly, this is my favorite of the lot. It's got my vote.

Wouldn't mind adding the top from >>1049071 if she feels this is a bit too lacking in shirt. Leave off the shoulder bits though, they're a bit much.
>>
No. 1050075 ID: 8483cf
File 166926150262.png - (63.19KB , 855x1094 , LF6c_12.png )
1050075

Apricot’s basic combat gear is lightweight and protects her upper thighs; armoring her lower legs isn’t as necessary, since she can tuck her legs in if she needs to protect herself from enemy fire. I point out that a trained fighter is going to try swinging at her as she attacks, and I recommend she protect against glancing strikes by wrapping her talons and legs in tight, rigid bandages and leather boots that allow maximum mobility without adding too much weight.

The end result is fairly decent protection against anyone that’s not an elf.

Autumn is very proud of her adventurer. Taranis gives a head bob of approval.

With that, we head out to the woods outside Minga. Autumn’s inventory has enough supplies for a one-night trip for two, and I’m more than comfortable roughing it. The only disadvantage is that I’m not able to change into my ghille gear I created specifically for woodland stealth; I’m stuck in my cloak, but it’ll do just fine with a simple camouflage spell. Anything to avoid going back to the adventurers’ guild and dealing with angry witches. Speaking of which, I’ll have to ask Taranis more about that later if we have time away from his minions.

It takes a few hours for us to hike to the edge of the area that malevolent spirits are suspected to be haunting. Autumn hops inside the pouch on the small of Apricot’s back (perfect for dropping things out of mid-flight, and keeping her safe at high speeds) and they fly high into the air. Taranis heads in a different direction to cover more area. We’ve gone over the bird calls we’re to use if we find trouble, and agree to meet up at a designated point in a few hours.

I stick to the ground, and begin my search for things out of the ordinary.

I find nothing.

No signs of ritual combat. No blood or carcasses from spirits of bloodshed. No signs of desperate overhunting or prey starvation, either. Interestingly, the insect population is far below what it should be, and there’s even fewer as I progress inward. It’s almost as if the woodland creatures have just… abandoned the area. The silence is unnerving.

I slow my search after an hour. My senses are on high alert for any signs of movement, sounds of life, or traces of covered tracks. Still nothing.

Something is terribly wrong.

I find a peculiarly shaped rocky outcropping on a slope. It’s a convenient landmark, one I remember from decades ago, and plot my position relative to my Druidic Circle. It’s about a day and a half’s trek from the edge of our territory, and it’s a straight shot from this landmark to the nearest rival Circle as the crow flies.

I peer between the rocks, to the center, where the largest formation is. There’s a straight, narrow slice on the biggest one, cut impossibly deep.

I pull out Samhain and place its blade inside the cut. It slides cleanly through the groove. A perfect match.

My brother was here, and he wants everyone to know it.

-----

I meet up with Apricot, Autumn and Taranis as planned. We pick a spot to camp at, thankfully far from my brother’s mark.

Taranis met up with a flock of starlings passing through. They didn’t spare him much time, but they did tell him this specific area was no longer good to find food in. There are no insects, and the berries and nuts have all gone dry and husky, lacking any nutrients. They told him that it’s safe to spend the night here, but no birds are comfortable spending any time longer than necessary.

Autumn and Apricot haven’t been able to find any signs of spirits or paranormal activity. Theoretically, there might be a spirit that leeches nutrients out of the soil and scares off the wildlife, but I don’t believe a single spirit could affect the area we searched today without leaving any marks, or setting off Autumn’s attunement to magical disturbances. What we’re dealing with is something that’s scared off everything and left nothing.

The sun is setting, and we’ve found no hard evidence of what might be causing the depopulation.

Apricot wants to make camp. Autumn asks if she wants to try on her new nightie, and Taranis cheers the idea. Apricot looks to me with those big bird eyes and asks if I want to call it a night.

I think Apricot’s confused an expedition for a sleepover. She’s far too cavalier.

On the other hand, this is my home turf, and I know the signs of danger and what to watch out for, even from my Circle. It used to be a well-traveled area for adventurers, until the word got out about sprits. My Circle’s eyes may be elsewhere at the moment, and even if they do somehow know I’m here and send a scout to ask what I’m doing, they won’t know I’ve got my ruined eye working again.

It’s a calculated risk, especially considering I don’t know what’s going on. But on the other hand, a little bait might draw out answers.

Should we call it a night?
1. Yes, and tell Apricot, Autumn and Taranis to relax and have fun. Apricot will probably put on her new nightie.
2. Yes, but tell Apricot and the team to stay armored and ready for anything.
3. No, return to Minga and report back now. We’ll still be paid for the day’s scouting work.
>>
No. 1050076 ID: a7a180

2.
>>
No. 1050082 ID: e51896

I originally went with 2, but I think I'll go with 1 instead.
>>
No. 1050111 ID: dee951

2, at least those types of armor that isn't unreasonable to sleep in -- there is a set of armor where you can reasonably do that, yes?
>>
No. 1050112 ID: 629f2e

2, Some precautions are necessary. 3 sounds safer, but you could be ambushed on the way back while you're exhausted. Better to get some rest and try in the morning, while being ready in case of a late night attack.
>>
No. 1050227 ID: 8483cf
File 166945790212.png - (128.66KB , 501x500 , LF6c_13.png )
1050227

I tell Autumn and Apricot to stay armored and ready. Apricot’s armor is lightweight for flying, so she can sleep in it comfortably.

I volunteer to take second watch, since I could probably just stay up all night anyway. It gives Apricot, Autumn and Taranis time to wind down after their day. I lie back against a tree and let my thoughts wander, keeping a half-conscious ear to the woods, and letting my ruined eye keep watch for suspicious movements through the shadows of the trees. Soon enough it’s my turn to take watch, and when I do, I hear a distinct, high-pitched single-tone whistle, barely more than a breeze through the branches. It’s almost impossible to distinguish from the wind, but if you know to listen for it, it’s there.

My Circle is calling me. I surrepetitiously scan the surroundings, and find a single hunched figure a few dozen meters away. There aren’t any others- it’s a note meant to summon me specifically.

I nudge Taranis into wakefulness and whisper to him to keep back and be ready to rouse Autumn and Apricot if I give the signal. He nods and takes flight, and I send the reply whistle back. Three quick clicks come back: we’re to meet at the midpoint of where those clicks came from.

I make my way forward and spy a familiar face.

“Ailín,” I say quietly.

“Ráichéalín,” he responds. “I am happy to see you well.”

“And you,” I say. “Did you receive my messages about the Spirit of Bloodshed?”

“We were already aware of the situation,” he says. “I am here on another matter. There is no time for pleasantries, I’m afraid. Your brother wishes to warn you of an impending conflict, likely greater than any you have seen before. He recommends you seek shelter elsewhere. It would be a tragedy for you to be caught up in it without knowledge, and if you were to be captured by another Circle, it would force Ciarán to respond.”

“How sentimental.” I say, crossing my arms. “You can already guess my response. My family’s made it clear they wished I’d died instead of getting these scars. Why would Ciarán care if a failure like me got captured?”

“You are still his sister,” Ailín says. “A slight to a member of the Circle cannot go unanswered.”

“Of course.” The unspoken implication is that it’s not my honor my brother would need to defend, but his. “I take it he’s been answering other slights to his honor in ritual combat. He’s getting sloppy. Skipping steps in the ritual, letting spirits congregate. Leaving obvious marks where he’s been.”

“Ciarán’s name echoes in the forest,” Ailín nods. “He has become mighty since you left. He has risen to take up your mantle, and done so admirably.”

“Well, good for him,” I say, turning my head aside. “But he’s reckless. The humans are noticing the side effects of the Circle’s work. Just how much blood has my brother spilled in these rituals? How many challengers to his authority has he put down?”

“Many, and he has done so in pursuit of a greater goal. We are no longer binding animals to our will. Instead, Ciarán has found more powerful thralls. Ones we have not seen since twoscore years ago.”

Forty years. That was the time of the great fire. I can’t remember the details- I was too young. But everyone in the Circle knows what horrors the fire banished.

“He’s trying to summon them?” My throat is almost too dry to say it. “The Airceacháin. Father would have beat him bloody for even saying the name. Does my mother know about this madness?”

“No,” Ailín says softly. “She has lain down her arms forever.”

The air chills. My legs go weak.

“M-Mom?” A hand goes to my good eye unbidden, and despite everything, I can’t keep the tears from coming. “She’s gone?”

“It was a good death,” Ailín says. “A great battle. She killed many Clann an lasair before falling. It’s been more than a year, and they still haven’t dared challenge us.”

“A year?” An icy hand wraps around my gut and squeezes tight, filling my throat with sick, acrid bile. “Ciarán didn’t even… not even a single… he… he really does wish me dead, doesn’t he?”

“I’m sorry, Ráichéalín.”

“Fuck you.” I spit at his feet, tears threatening to spill down my cheek. “You didn’t tell me, either. How hard could have been? Just a simple fucking letter.”

“It would have changed nothing. We were far from home, deep within what was once Iasair land. You wouldn’t have been able to-”

“I know! I know that. But she’s my… was my mother. Once the battle was over, Ciarán could have invited me to Mom’s pyre. He couldn’t even let me say goodbye to her, could he?!”

“You know as well as I that our rites are closely kept,” Ailín says, his voice as empty as his heart. “You are not a warrior of the Uí Liatháin. Not anymore.”

“And I’m better off for it.”

Ailín doesn’t respond.

I take a deep, shuddering breath. I can barely hold myself back. I want to murder the elf I thought was my friend since we were children.

“So that’s it?” I ask. “You’ve come here to… to tell me there’s nothing left for me? That I’m not wanted? That I’m free to go? Well, I don’t fucking think so. I’ve got a place here, now.”

“With the humans?” Ailín gestures toward Minga. “You are selling scraps for coin. You could be so much more. And what will you do now? Will you tell the humans that the elves are warring once again? Scurrying in their backyard, growing in power? What will you do, Ráichéalín? Share our secrets with outsiders? Lead them to our beds, as a traitor to your kin?”

“How dare you?!” My voice cracks. “Is that what you really think of me? That I’d stoop so low? Slit my own people’s throats? Fuck you, Ailín. I thought you knew me better, but I’m obviously wrong. Wrong about so many things, and people, that… that are… important, and… and… I…”

A sob bursts out of my throat and I clap a hand to my mouth, finding it wet with tears. My shoulders hitch, and I feel a great, dull emptiness inside my chest that’s growing with every breath.

There’s a soft flutter of wings, and a gentle caress of feathers. When did Taranis land on my shoulder? He’s supposed to be hanging back, and… I don’t care. I just don’t care anymore. I cry into Taranis’s wings until I don’t have any tears left.

Ailín is gone.

I walk back to camp. Apricot and Autumn are still sleeping.

Taranis takes watch and I fall into a deep, deep sleep.

------

When I wake, I find Apricot and Autumn preparing breakfast. Taranis is gone, probably on patrol.

“Oh! You’re up!” Apricot says. “How are you feeling? Taranis said to let you sleep in. Are you okay?”

Okay? Why would I not be-

Oh.

“Leave me alone,” I say, and wrap my cloak tight around me.

I thought I was cast out before, but now, I truly am alone. Alone in every way that matters.

No more adventuring. No more exploring. I just want to curl up and wither away.

I’m done.
>>
No. 1050232 ID: 15c72a

>>1050227
Your brother is out of control. Let me guess- this barren land is like this because of what your brother is trying to summon? Don't you have a duty to protect nature, and stop him? You don't have to betray any secrets... maybe all you have to do is beat him. How did his skill compare to yours? Does he have the eye? Perhaps even a half-working seer's eye will be enough to counteract his, and his overconfidence will be his undoing. You could beat him in ritual combat, then use your position to force the druids to heal the land they've been abusing...

Or maybe the solution lies in the very land itself. Surely the forest must realize what is happening, and that the druids no longer serve nature? Turn the force of the very world against them, and teach them the lesson they have forgotten-- that all live by the mercy of life itself.
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No. 1050237 ID: bc4cda

Has he given you a single reason not to report them to relevant authorities? That they're family? Not according to them they aren't. Take that spite and throw it on the pyre for fuel.
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No. 1050253 ID: e51896

Think about why Serah, Landi, and Dotti wanted you on their team in the first place, why you were hired, and how well you've protected them this whole time. think about why Taranis chose you to be your companion. If you can't figure out why, ask them. Realize in a way, you have a circle of your own with them.

In fact, here's an idea, while your asking Landi, remember that she has that review coming up with Salt. Maybe if Salt sees that Landi can get Rae out of that slump she is in regarding her circle, it might be a big enough change to help Landi pass. In any case, maybe go talk to Landi about helping you get through your issues.

Alternatively, Maybe you should search out where your mother's grave is at and pay your respects for some closure at least. I'm not sure where it might be, but maybe it could be where your Circle used to hang out a lot in.

But really, don't be an adventurer for yourself and for anyone's approval, become an adventurer to help people who needs it, like Taranis and his witch problem. He trusts you to have his back, just like you trusted him to have yours.
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No. 1050258 ID: 629f2e

What a jerk.

"He has become mighty since you left. He has risen to take up your mantle, and done so admirably."

Dude could have just said "He has become mighty" and left it there. Instead he went out of his way to emphasize your failure in his phrasing, contrasting it with how your bro has taken to it well in the way you should have.

"You are selling scraps for coin. You could be so much more."

What the fuck is he talking about? What part of "My family’s made it clear they wished I’d died instead of getting these scars" is he not comprehending here. You aren't wanted there, so you have effectively been FORCED to find your own life outside of it. Why the hell is he shitting on what you've made for yourself and acting like you should just come back to the circle, when it was the circle that seemed to decide it didn't want you? Like, you deciding you still want to be part of the circle doesn't change the fact that nobody there has even the minimum quantity of affection you would need to dedicate yourself to them. Not one fucking letter about mom.

For the record, Ailín didn't deny that your brother wants you dead. He only said "I'm sorry" when you suggested it. So why is he trying to push you into coming back in the same conversation?

Look, my point is that Ailín went out of his way to not simply give you the information he needed to, but to try to guilt you into going back to a place where you aren't welcome. And the fact that you aren't welcome isn't because you're not good enough, it's because they aren't.

You've met people with the capacity to care about people who've made mistakes. Serah kept Landi around in the face of all her screw-ups and bad habits; you had to go on an entire quest to the Terrorscale caves because Dotti amnestied someone, and she's still a member of the party you're all watching out for; and speaking of your failures to the others hasn't seemed to degrade their opinions of you any.

You don't ignore the bad shit, you just accept it. Try to do better next time. If the people of your circle can't accept you because of one screw up that they basically set you up for by tossing you to the wolves before you were ready, then you shouldn't go back to them. They're the ones who need to change, not you. And judging by this conversation with Ailín, they aren't ready yet.

Let's talk about what you should do.

Cuddle with Taranis. It'll make you feel better.

Go back and talk to Serah. You don't want to betray the circle, but the fact is that they've been getting sloppy, and it's putting innocent people in danger. They cannot just be leaving Spirits of Bloodshed behind for others to stumble upon. Something needs to be done, and if you don't have all the answers on the best way to handle it then Serah will. This isn't you being a traitor, it's about protecting others from being caught in the crossfire.

Spend some time with your friends. You could use the distraction.
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No. 1050259 ID: e5709d

...You know what? Your brother doesn't deserve a fair fight. The little psychopath is on the verge of starting a war. And for what? To help a demon lord covertly transport an entire army, all because he can't even tell chaos from order anymore?

Screw your secrets. He needs to be stopped, by any means necessary. The province, for all its flaws, doesn't deserve a fucking horde to rape it raw. This could even ruin the continent. Warn the entire country. Rally every human, dwarf, and dragon you can scream to. Stop your family from going down in history as The Hellbringers.

If he wants to slaughter families just to provoke a fight, you'll dump the whole Royal Army on his ass.

And as for Ailín? It's clear that he's simply a tool. His loyalty to your family is used for the purposes of bigotry and genocide. He's been groomed to believe that the more humans he stomps on, the more honor and respect he brings you and your family. His delusions are not worth the lives of your friends. You may need to neutralize him as well, if only to bring the potential body count down by a few hundred.
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No. 1050287 ID: 15c72a

Maybe we're focusing too much on what your family is doing. You need to find another purpose? Commune with nature, center yourself, maybe find out if it wants you to do something.
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No. 1050347 ID: 8483cf
File 166959073779.png - (37.29KB , 540x329 , LF6c_14.png )
1050347

There’s food in front of me, but I’d just vomit it back up if I ate any.

There’s whispering around me, but I don’t listen. I curl up tight into my cloak and smother myself in darkness.

I’m not sure when it happens, but at some point I feel Taranis nestled against me.

He’s got a life to live. Having fun. Stealing stuff. Migrating around. Living it up. All things I don’t want to do.

I poke my head out of my cloak. Taranis hops in front of me, beady little eyes glimmering. Apricot and Autumn are sitting in a tree, keeping watch for… I’m not sure what. The camp is packed up. My food is gone.

“Go with them,” I say.

Taranis shakes his head.

“You don’t get it,” I say, voice hoarse. “I quit. We’re through.”

Taranis squawks loudly and hops down to my hands holding my cloak tight. He pecks and nips them. Hard. When I pull them away and let go of the cloak, he places himself right in my palms.

“He’s not leaving you,” Autumn says softly. “Neither are we.”

“We’re all going back to Minga,” Apricot insists. “And, fair warning, I’ve carried heavier loads than you with Autumn’s strength spells. So you’re coming back with us one way or another.”

I don’t respond. Taranis is warm and fluffy. It’s kind of nice to cuddle him. Just a little.

At some point I find myself walking again, on the road back Minga.

-------

There’s a knock at my door.

“Rae? Are you in there?”

It’s Serah.

I don’t care.

“Rae, I’m leaving some food outside,” Serah says. “Taranis and his friends told us what happened. I’m sorry, and… if you want to talk, I’m here.”

I go back to sleep.

-------
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No. 1050348 ID: 8483cf
File 166959075141.png - (50.14KB , 450x352 , LF6c_15.png )
1050348

There’s fluttering and flapping, and my window blows open to admit Taranis and Landi.

“Room service!” Landi says. A sparkle of inventory magic grows into a glimmer, and a platter of sandwiches and vegetables appear on my desk. “Can’t let good food go to waste. Seriously, you should see some people’s reactions to it. Eat up!”

Taranis lands next to me and nudges my hand. I don’t bother to reply.

“Wow,” Landi says. “You should see the look on Taranis’s face right now, girl. He’s, like, super worried about you. And it’s making me worried too. You sure you don’t want to eat anything?”

“No,” I say.

“Well, it’s here for you when you want it. Can I get you anything else? I know you like books, right? Yeah, I’ll grab some books for ya. Any book you want. Seriously, any. I’ve got a friend who works for literally the biggest library ever. We’ve got myths and fables and stories you barely remember.”

“Just leave me alone.”

“Sure, sure,” Landi says. “But I don’t have anything to do today. I put off my performance review with Big Sodium, so all I have on my calendar is to hang out with you. Guess you and Taranis are gonna have to live with it.”

That’s enough to get me to roll over. “You what? Your performance review?” I remember I agreed to let Landi dress me up for some reason. Was that supposed to be earlier today? Oh, shit...

I let her down. I let Landi down like the complete fucking failure I am.

“I’m sorry,” I mumble into the blankets. “I’m so sorry.”

“No! Nonono!” Landi says. “Don’t worry about it. I’m sure Nancy Clarice will be happy if I, like, turn Dotti’s fur green or something. It’s not a big deal at all. We’ve got bigger issues here, like a sad elf. I’m here for you.”

“Landi,” I say, voice rising, “You need to go talk with your djinn. Now. Please.”

“Too late,” Landi says. “I already told her I’ve got an emergency on my hands, so that meeting is kaput. I’ll find something that’ll make it up to her, and that’s my problem, not yours.”

I’m too stupid, forgetful and slow to help Landi. I can’t help anyone.

I push Taranis aside and roll over, facing away from them both.

What do Landi and Taranis do?
>>
No. 1050349 ID: e5709d

Use your combined magic to pull Raelynn straight out of bed and up to Salt.
>>
No. 1050353 ID: e51896

Landi realizes that getting Rae out of her depression might actually help her succeed in her performance review with Salt. She decides to do what Rae said and summons salt right now, and tell her the performance review is back on, and that she is going to attempt to make a depressed elf find a reason to keep on living. That should be a big enough change to succeed in the performance review.

Now to figure out HOW to make Rae feel better. Will figure something out in a future post.
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No. 1050366 ID: 5499f4

Remember when Landi dusted people at a party and it enhanced the mood? Do that here Landi! Goooo fairy drugs.

In all seriousness just using a light spritz of dust on her to get her into a lightly more active state to have her like vent or talk or act and then you can go "So I didn't actually use that much dust on you" And get Rae all emberassed and in a somewhat functional mood. It won't resolve it all, but this isn't an immediately resolvable thing, getting her to not wallow is the first step.
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No. 1050373 ID: 15c72a

>>1050348
Landi wants extra credit for her performance review, and shaking Rae out of her funk is indeed a big change. So she is very motivated to do it.

Hmmm... the witches might be able to help as well. Perhaps Landi can arrange a trade? The panties, in exchange for their expertise in bringing someone out of depression.
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No. 1050638 ID: e51896

I just thought of something, but in order for it to work, Taranis is going to have to sacrifice one of his beloved trophies. But it is for the greater good, to save Rae's life... AND it might also help a certain priestess out.

So right now, Rae have lost all faith, in herself, and in everyone, in life. So what we might need to do is bring her to somebody who is an expert on faith in order to learn how to have faith in herself again, and that person is: Priscilla, the Priestess of Peace!

We need to take Rae to The Church of Eirene to see Priscilla so that she can give some Rae some advice from her sermons on the goddess Eirene, and learn to have faith in herself again.

Now, I'm not expecting Rae will convert to this religion, but I think at least hearing stories from Priscilla about the religion may have some lessons Rae could learn from.

Also, this could help Priscilla out too, her church has been pretty low on attendance. Maybe Rae being there will make Priscilla a little happier that there is someone willing to listen to her preach.

Now, in order to actually GET Rae over there, we'll need to make the ultimate sacrifice, and give Rae Priscilla's panties. the panties have the religion of the goddess Eirene's logo on it, so that might give Rae some incentive to at least go there to return them to Priscilla. From there, perhaps Priscilla will see how depressed Rae is, and invite her in for one of her sermons.


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