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File 168551133453.png - (51.72KB , 1000x1000 , LF7 Title.png )
1064862 No. 1064862 ID: 18001e

I am Lady Serah Kensington, Heir Countess of Kensington, and I sincerely hope our search leads us to something good.

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

Begins one month after the conclusion of POV 6: https://questden.org/kusaba/questarch/res/1035326.html#1035326
Expand all images
No. 1064863 ID: 18001e
File 168551137102.png - (50.04KB , 1000x1000 , LF7 1.png )

It’s difficult to find something the Church of Censorship doesn’t want to be found.

Petra’s community has been shuffled from noble estate to noble estate, Church parish to Church parish, all the while unrecorded in any of the annual tithes or taxes I’ve seen so far. There are some marriage records with familiar names, the occasional scrap of news that matches with documents Landi has borrowed from the Greater Library, and reports of traveling settlers over the last few decades that have given me just enough to track their path from Dotti’s grave on the other side of the great forest outside Minga.

With Kayk’s business starting to turn a profit (if only barely), she’s found time to fly me, Landi and Dotti out to Church parishes and universities to follow leads on Petra. I’m not one of the faithful, but the clergy do take time to meet with me and discuss matters of import, plus their alchemists like to talk shop. That’s quite fun when it happens.

Raelynn has also been joining me on some of the trips. Landi told me Rae’s been having a rough time due to a death in the family. I haven’t seen much of Rae at the Guild. When I have, she’s been obsessively training with the most skilled warriors in Minga; she’s also accompanied me on my missions with Dotti and seeking out the strongest challengers in the Parishes we visit. I’ve tried to find out more about this sudden need to push her limits, but she’s brushed me aside every time. I guess everyone has their own way of coping with loss.

The Church of Censorship has always been the keeper of registries of births, deaths, and marriages; that’s where it gets its name. It’s the largest landowner except for royalty (even surpassing some lesser Kings and Queens) and is the only institution that provides hospitals and education in some duchies. It’s grown more concerned with public morality since its founding, and I have to make sure my outfit doesn’t show any cleavage when I visit them. I doubt they’d try and discipline a noble for perceived immodesty, but I’d really rather not test some of those nuns...

“Archibeard,” I call out, “When is the closest red circle on my personal calendar? Kayk should be free then to fly us out.”

“Again, Lady Kensington?” My floating skull attendant tut-tuts, but does as he’s bidden and checks the marks on my bedroom calendar. “Two days from now. Surely you don’t intend to disappear into the countryside again, chasing ghosts of fox fancy. You could be attending court instead of frittering away your precious time at universities and church archives! There are several eligible bachelors who I’m sure would share your love of alchemy and adventuring, much more desirable than the buffoons you’ve seen at your door of late.”

“How I spend my time is not your decision to make,” I remind him forcefully. “And for your information, this next parish is referenced more than once in these records I’m holding. It has enough arable farmland owned wholly by the Church of Censorship to take in Petra’s community without trouble. This time, I’m sure we’ll find the woman Dotti came back to life for.”

“Even if you are correct,” Archibeard asks, “What will you do if the Church resists your inquiry forcefully? All signs point to the Church wishing to keep this group of settlers out of public knowledge for some reason. Are you sure you wish to turn this rock over, not knowing what secrets may scuttle out, and how poisonous their claws may be?”

“I’m fully prepared,” I say. “I made a gravity bomb last month. I can handle anything.”

“A gravity bomb that was confiscated by Marquess Mallory,” Archibeard reminds me. “It’s not coming back, and your alchemical adventures are hardly relevant to political intrigue.”

I grimace. Landi’s little episode set me back quite a bit in the weapons department. I still need to remake my most complex bombs, but at least the potions and elixirs made it back safely thanks to Kayk. I also need to have the talk with Landi about that incident and or relationship going forward, though. She’s been making restitution under Dotti’s watch, but I’m not sure she’s learning the right lessons… and if we’re the best fit for each other.

What should I do?
1. Hop into the lab and work on some bombs, potions and/or mutagens. Plus I have a SECRET PROJECT that will be ready soon. The fun option!
2. Have THE TALK with Landi. The most delicate option, and one I’ve been putting off.
3. Talk with Archibeard about what Daddy’s been up to and if there are any political factors I should consider when visiting this specific parish. The good-girl option.
4. Visit Kayk’s bakery, I’ve earned a sweet treat! Clearly the best option.
5. Work out for the first time in a while. This is the worst option.
No. 1064865 ID: b6ec4d

2, Get the annoying responsible option out of the way first, so that it isn't hanging over your head while you're doing the fun options later. Plus, it'd be good to check in on Landi early, just in case Dotti is driving her mad. Might stave off some future trouble if you can nip that in the bud.
No. 1064867 ID: a7a180

1. Pull the lever, Archibeard!
No. 1064868 ID: e51896

Nevermind, just realized Serah made a gravity bomb.
2 then. Lets give Landi the talk. bring her in a quiet empty room so she doesn't get distracted
No. 1064869 ID: 273c18

She made one last month.

1. Gotta restock.
No. 1064878 ID: e5709d

2) Talk to your employee. We don't know what's wrong with her, but it's only going to result in negative investments if you keep putting it off.
No. 1064885 ID: e4ba2b

You need to work out more, put those strength elixirs to good use!
No. 1065022 ID: e51896

Idea: to show how serious you are with Landi and if she doesn't get the point, call her by her real name, Moonshine.
No. 1065025 ID: dac950

Please, pay attention to your servoskull, he can be pushy but he genuinely has good advice.

And yes, as fun as making more bombs now would be, we have to talk to Absinthe, I mean Moonshine.
No. 1065084 ID: c3a039
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“Speaking of politics,” I sigh, “I should probably check in on the status of my fairy companion’s restitution. I won’t have Marquess Mallory holding that over me, not after we spent so much time dancing around her last trap she laid for House Kensington.”

“A prudent decision,” Archibeard says. “Would you prefer I attend your meeting, or shall I continue reviewing your latest batch of letters from home?”

“Keep reading, and let me know if there’s any news I should be concerned about,” I reply. “It hasn’t even been a year yet, but I’m worried everyone’s forgotten about me.”

“My Lady,” Archibeard laughs, “You have no need to concern yourself with that. The tales of your visit to the Terrorscale lair are growing with each telling at your father’s court, and he is quite happy to allow the embellishments and embroidery to continue. I shall summarize the newest ‘details’ of your exploits, so you may not be taken by surprise on your return.”

Well. That’s one less thing I need to worry about. I can’t stay away from home forever, but there is a certain mystique to the traveling Lady adventurer. Archibeard and I split up and I head to the comfiest couch in the Guild common room. Autumn is upon us, and the chill of the season is beginning to set in, but the fires won’t be lit during the day for another month. Not like home, where I can cozy up at my convenience.

Ah, I really am getting homesick, aren’t I? Best not to dwell on it.

It’s late morning, meaning I’m most likely to bump into Landi as she flutters downstairs for breakfast-that-should-be-brunch-by-civilized-standards. I grab a plate of fruit before it disappears as an excuse to have THE TALK. Sure enough, I don’t have to wait more than quarter-past eleven to see that familiar glowing blue ball coming down the stairwell.

“Landi?” I call out. “Have you had breakfast?”

“Gimme a minute,” she grumbles. “Ah, fuck. All the fruit’s gone.”

“I have a plate of raspberries here,” I say. “Would you like some?”

“Don’t mind if I do!” She seizes a handful of the berries and digs in, and I’m grateful her glow spares me from having to see the bloody berry massacre.

We make idle small talk. She asks if I’ve gotten a new boy toy since I stopped seeing Franklin, the guy from poker night, and I tell her I’m not really looking for anyone right now. I ask her how her paramour Sunshine is doing, and apparently he’s doing great and treating Landi well, but he has eyes that wander all over the bar, not that Landi would mind an extra pair of hands to help carry her home, wink wink.

I do not wink back. “Has he been helping with your restitution?”

“Uh.” Landi gulps. “Yeah. He’s got lots of ideas. But you gotta spend money to make money, you know? Oh! There’s people who will pay LOTS of money for embarrassing photos of the nobility and celebrities to put in newspapers, you know? Sunshine had this idea for me to make money by being small and fast and being a total paparazzi girl with a nice crystal image-taker. But I gotta buy the high-quality kind, and since you aren’t letting me use your gold these last few weeks, I can’t do it, so I GOTTA ask if you can make an exception to this and I’ll pay you back I swear, it’s foolproof!”

Ah. The latest in Landi’s get-rich-quick-schemes. This one has more effort and skill involved, as she’d actually have to go out and get good newspaper-quality photos… but I don’t trust her with expensive crystalline photo-taking equipment that’s small enough and lens-flare-proof enough for a fairy to use it. And, of course, I would much rather not be associated with paparazzi. I get the feeling that if Landi learns how hard it is to get photos of people who very much like their privacy, she might try to find an easier subject and have me as the subject of “newsworthy” photos.

“You know the rules, Landi,” I say sternly. “I’m not to use my money in helping you pay the restitution. It has to be your sweat and work.”

“It would be!” Landi protests. “I just need a little money to even get off the ground!”

“It’s been a month,” I say. “You’ve had opportunities, surely.”

“Yeah, well,” Landi says, “Dotti’s making life REAL HARD for me. She makes me get up before dawn EVERY MORNING she has work and makes me fluff her tails and comb her hair and make her all pretty and put perfume on her, and before she goes out and does fancy fox stuff too.”

“She’s only supposed to be supervising.”

“That’s when she supervises! She wakes me up and demands I go out and get a job in the morning and makes me tell her my plans for the day. And then she does the same thing in the evenings. Do you have any idea how hard it is for a girl my size to fluff AN ENTIRE FOX SPIRIT?”
No. 1065085 ID: c3a039
File 168581418883.png - (58.46KB , 500x500 , LF7 3.png )

So that’s why Dotti’s been so fluffy lately…

“Wait,” I say. “You’ve been getting up before I do? With Dotti?”

“Yeah. And then I’m so tired I go back to bed.”

“I mean… have you considered staying up that early?”

“Sunshine says foxes are crap-pooscular, this isn’t fair.”

“You mean crepuscular.”

“Whatever. I’m a night owl! Dotti’s being completely unreasonable. And I have to keep her happy or else she threatens to tell the Marquess I’m slacking!”

“Are you slacking?”

“NO! Whose side are you on, anyway? We’re a team, Serah! Gal pals in adventuring, never go it alone. You gotta help me out here, without money I’m totally done for and Dotti is NOT helping!”

“It has been a while since we’ve gone adventuring,” I sigh. “Were you counting on some booty to kick-start your restitution?”

“Yeah,” Landi says. “I thought we’d be going out and collecting stuff for your alchemy, like when we first got together, or maybe we might even go with Rae to get wolf pelts, or stuff. But Rae’s training, and you’re just in the lab or writing letters all the time or flying around and talking to boring Church dudes and Dotti is working, no one’s actually adventuring!”

Hmm. I’m really not doing much adventuring, not since I went to the Terrorscale lair… and I’m okay with that. So is Dotti. Rae is the only one who actually relies on adventuring to make her money.

“Maybe it’s time we reconsidered our adventuring contract,” I say. “If it’s getting in the way of you making money, then perhaps we should re-evaluate it? I don’t want to be a bother.”

“Ah! No! Nonono!” Landi flutters wildly. “Uh, I didn’t mean it that way! I just wanted to go out and do stuff, you know? Can we?”

On one hand, Landi raises a valid point that I’m letting my combat and adventuring skills go cold by spending all this time in the lab and playing politics and not working out. But on the other hand, I’m not particularly eager to risk my life just for money, when I have plenty of it already. Still… there are potentially situations where I might actually have to defend myself.

I have my SECRET PROJECT that'll create the ultimate defense for me, but am I relying too much on my lab skills and money to do the hard work for me?

Am I an adventurer, or am I just playing? Is Landi right that I need to get out and take more risks to stay in practice?
No. 1065099 ID: e51896

hmmm, well, it's been awhile so i might be remembering wrong, but wasn't the reason why Serah was adventuring in the first place was because she was being rebellious against her father and escape her responsibilities? It seems however that after experiencing her first huge adventure, and running Minga afterwards, she seems to have accepted her responsibilities and is working more in politics like her father, and is actually content with it. The only real times she goes out adventuring seems to be when it is political related or helping someone like Dotti over stuff like returning Jek to Mai, and that future adventure we'll be having to search for Petra (though that's probably not really an adventure, just flying to the censors to ask about Petra) though now, if she needs to go out, she can just hire a bodyguard adventurer like Rachael to protect her. The thing is, goals and ambitions change. Sometimes you might want to achieve a career in life, try it out, and find out it just isn't suitable for you, and then switch course to another line of work that makes you happier. People change like that.

I think maybe Serah should use this next (and possibly last) adventure to find the Censors and Petra to really determine how she feels about adventuring in comparison to playing politics, and which path in life she wants to go down. we can be brutally honest with Landi and tell her that your passion in adventuring is sort of fading, and you're finding yourself being more content with what you are doing now. But let her know that after you get the church stuff settled on this next adventure, you will see how you truly feel about adventuring.

But let her know you WILL help her find a new adventurer to hire her if your adventuring contract isn't helping Landi being productive to make up for the damage she caused, and if your goals and ambitions changed from adventuring to the responsibilities of politics. Landi is still Serah's friend after all.
No. 1065100 ID: a7a180

Yes, you should be out adventuring more. Your true accomplishments could be even more fantastic than the ones your father makes up to tell his house guests.
Why sit here getting a headache thinking about politics when you could be out in the world doing practical work? You don't need to adventure for the money - that means you can afford to adventure for its own sake, or the sake of others! They're called noble causes for a reason.
You've surrounded yourself with powerful magical allies who will protect you when there is risk to your life, powerful elixirs that can increase your strength and do all sorts of others. There is a risk, but you've stacked the odds pretty high in your favor. One day when you're old and tired, you can pass these advantages on to others who will do the heavy lifting, but get out there while you can to do it for yourself!
No. 1065115 ID: 273c18

You can keep your combat skills sharp by sparring and/or training with professionals. If you just want to be able to defend yourself, you don't have to go adventuring. That said, what about your friends? If they decided to become adventurers, would you want to join them?
No. 1065120 ID: f2cf5a

I think you might need to accept that you're not REALLY one for the adventuring life if the wanderlust bug hasn't bit you again. What you needed (and got) was a break from the persistent stress of your life. And now you're much more refreshed with a new view on things, and now you're mostly content. But that also means that the things that you got while you were out there just...aren't as vital or important. It's fine. It happens. But it'll also affect people if they're operating on outdated information of you.

You technically CAN do the adventuring thing, sure. But if you don't really care to, and you're more content in ballrooms and offices than dirt roads and fights, then your question kinda answers itself, doesn't it? Be honest with yourself- then be honest with Landi. Reckless fairy she might be, she seems to be sincere about this effort (even if it might be in a manner you don't particularly like) and at least deserves you being square with her.
No. 1065140 ID: 629f2e

I think Serah is someone who finds happiness in doing what she wants and doing it well. At first her goal was adventuring, because she needed to get away from the world of politics. But then she put a greater focus on her alchemy and lab skills, which she took too well. There was a brief return to politics thanks to the Marquess, but I think Serah would agree that it wasn't a fun time for her. She was stressed and tired for much of the time she spent dealing with it.

As a political figure, Serah can't quite get away from her roots, unfortunately. As she uses her title as a Kensington, she naturally cannot fully divorce herself from that world in the political space. Committing to that would mean doing what dad wants, which means political marriage. Serah obviously wouldn't be happy with that, and that's why it isn't an option for her.

But that doesn't discount her liking of lab work. She has a good head on her shoulders, and unlike her body, keeping that in shape isn't too exhausting. It's something Serah can handle comfortably.

With all of this in mind: Serah should ABSOLUTELY be adventuring more, and especially training her body.

Serah may like lab work, but adventuring is what has lead her to meeting all of the people who are currently in her life. Landi, Dotti, Rae, Kayk, all connections that were made during adventures. With each new companion, Serah's independence from her father grows ever stronger.

The thing about these connections is: All of them are REALLY strong in their own ways. Serah has surrounded herself with a powerful group people, and she needs to be able to keep up. Powerful people can make powerful enemies after all. Serah may not know about Rae's brother yet, but that's a perfect example of the kind of conflicts Serah might get involved with due to her friends.

Adventuring also helps Serah expand her own sphere of influence. Local jobs help build her reputation, and traveling lets her form new connections. All of this gives her power as Serah, instead of simply "Lady Kensington". Also worth noting that she's met so many of her friends through it. Connections can be beneficial for both professional and simply personal reasons.

Serah is good in the lab, and she should never give up her talents. They're worth honing too, but she doesn't need money. Selling her bombs, potions, and mutagens isn't necessary, because she can make gold. Learning to make new tools is rewarding of course, but otherwise Serah is basically just... playing around. Adventuring gives purpose to her creations.

She's an adventurer. Not because she loves fighting, but because she loves the adventure itself.
No. 1065143 ID: b57fea

You may be playing but adventure as a hobby is important to expanding your horizons and meeting new people!
No. 1065181 ID: ea3d98
File 168592805511.png - (259.67KB , 912x800 , LF7 4.png )

“Landi, we’ve been through a lot together, haven’t we?”


“I’ve met some very exceptional people, and you were the first among them.”


“But most of my work these days is behind the desk, which you’ve kindly pointed out.”


“Would you have a better chance of paying off your restitution with an active adventurer? I’m sure your friends from Fairy College would have plenty of potential candidates. And you wouldn’t have to deal with Dotti, I’d make sure of it.”

“No more Dotti?” Landi pauses. “Uh. I’d like to stay with you, and keep doing what we were doing, you know? Maybe if we go out and get some herbs that only grow in shipwrecks, we’ll find some big ancient treasure chest or something. We just gotta go out and look! You’re a great adventurer, Serah, and I wanna help you get out there and be that awesome warhammer-swinging Lady of War you were a few months ago.”

Thinking back on everything I’ve done since I left home, I don’t feel like an adventurer. My first few expeditions were all glorified shopping trips to get alchemical ingredients to make gold, and it was more of an unhappy accident that I ran into a fox spirit, defeated an incredibly dangerous Spirit of Bloodshed, and stared down a dragon. There’s no thrill in risk or in battle for me, and I don’t have a sense of wanderlust. Quite the opposite; I’m feeling a bit homesick.

On the other hand, that doesn’t make me any less capable of going out and adventuring. It definitely puts me head and shoulders above my noble peerage. Not counting the petty nobility, I can count on one hand the number of adventurers with titles. In theory, we’re supposed to be leaders on and off the battlefield, but ever since humanity’s war with the elves ended, we’ve been content to coast on our success. It wasn’t hard to feel upset about our collective shirking and take it as an easy excuse to uphold tradition while also thumbing my nose at Daddy.

I’ve had success adventuring, and my reputation is growing on my own merits, independent of my father’s influence. With my allies behind me, I could accomplish even more daring feats, no doubt to be exaggerated in the telling, but still impressive. I have finances, resources, and provisions aplenty. I even have martial counsel from Raelynn. I have a fox spirit for raw magical might and devilish tricks. I have a dragon for grand entrances. I also have a fairy for dubious counsel, inventory magic, access to an unstable Djinn patron and a few spells.

Putting all that together, perhaps the real reason I don’t feel like an adventurer is because I’m in a far, far better position to succeed than most. The risks of doing typical adventurer tasks, such as bringing bandits to justice, defending villages against magical beasts, and hunting rogue wizards and spirits, are much lower for me than most. The odds are in my favor, as long as I or my allies don’t do anything foolish.

“Hey, Serah?” Landi asks. “Uh, you’re real quiet all of a sudden.”


I really don’t want to say this to Landi, but I can’t help but feel that she may- just may- do something foolish to put us at risk. Such as, for example, disobeying orders and putting my reputation at risk at Marquess Mallory’s social event. And when I compare Landi to a few other fairies I’ve met, she’s a high-risk fae indeed. Rocio the fitness instructor is a pile of energy and motivation. Ellie the librarian is a skilled wordsmith. Autumn is a doting and mindful caretaker for her own adventurer Apricot. And Vivi, who I haven’t met, is a cunning fencing fairy and a dangerous combatant in her own right.

How do I tell Landi that she makes me nervous? Should I look for a different fairy companion?
No. 1065183 ID: e51896

I wouldn't go as far as look for a new fairy companion just yet, but is IS important to talk about your feelings about her high risk and heavy partying lifestyle interfering with our and others personal life to the point of not not following orders.

While she is your fairy companion and has done things that got you in trouble like the Marquess Mallory incident, and the vanishing dress incident, she did help Dotti tell the truth about how she mind whammied Jek and save her from Mai, played a part in trying to get Rae to feel better, and more importantly, helped you come out of your shell a bit, and got you to live life a little and take breaks when you were overworking yourself. In that respect, she is a friend of yours

She's helped a lot of your companions become better people in her own ways, I think now, she needs us to help her better herself. Talking to her about how we feel about her is an important first step.

(I just gotta think about how to tell her about how we feel about her though)
No. 1065186 ID: 629f2e

Okay, I have to make one correction there: You're giving Rocio waaaaay too much credit there, she's fine at best. Probably not much of a step up from Landi.

That said, you're just gonna have to be honest. Not harsh, but not downplaying your feelings. Landi is a good friend, and somebody who you value your relationship with; however, as a member of your party, she's volatile. Sometimes it's good, but oftentimes she ends up putting the rest of you at risk, because she won't follow orders or keep her mouth shut.

You explained why she couldn't go to the Marquess' party, and were told to stay outside with Kayk. Not only did she completely ignore the command, she went on to steal from the Marquess, someone who you were in the middle of trying to appease. That didn't make you look good when you had to claim responsibility for her behavior. All of the stress you went through leading up to that event could have been for nothing, if the Marquess was feeling a bit less reasonable that night.

This isn't a new problem for her, this has been a constant throughout your relationship. You can't really trust her, because even if fairies don't like to lie, Landi will ignore you when she wants to. That isn't okay, and she needs to come to terms with that VERY quickly if this partnership is going to continue.

We don't want another fairy, but if Landi isn't willing to play ball, we can find one. If she doesn't want that, then she needs to make it clear right away. Consider renegotiating your contract to formalize some of Landi's responsibilities if you think it'll help her.
No. 1065192 ID: a7a180

Ellie seems helpful behind a desk, less so in a fight. She's useful to you in her current position.
Rocio's a good partner but she's a little... unobservant. Autumn is busy, and Vivi, well, are you sure you want to deal with a fey who is renowned for cunning amongst her own kind? Better the little shoulder devil you know.
Tell Landi that her on the spot plans have a pattern of disastrous consequences, which have been to your detriment. What happened at the ball just now was the direct result of Landi's decisions and the actions she took, and that nobody else was responsible for it - in fact, everyone warned her against it. And when Landi compares this to the dragon's lair, which had positive effects, you can remind her how she drew a dragon's ire. She faced dire consequences both times, and someone had to pull her out of them. Do you think they enjoyed having to reach in and pull Landi out of trouble, any more than she liked being in it?
You might have to threaten to add to her contract a line that will curtail 'silly' behavior.
No. 1065199 ID: 273c18

Tell her you'll agree to go back into adventuring with her, on a probationary basis. She has to learn how to behave herself, at in regards to whatever shenanigans she gets into could reflect badly on you.

In fact, you need to bring up her attempted heist. Why did she do it? What was her motivation? Is she that addicted to alcohol? Was it for the thrills? What self-destructive mindset was the cause? You need to get to the root of the problem.
No. 1065342 ID: f2a3fa

I had a thought, since Landi doesnt like lying to a point of finding doing it disgusting and beneath her, but is willing to disobey important orders, what if going forward, if we want or dont want Landi to do something, we could Have her repeat the order we tell her to do so that if she disobeyes, she'll be lying, which she doesn't want to. for example when we order her to not go to a party, we'll also have her say "I, Landi, will not go to that party.". This system can stay in effect until we trust her enough to have her stop doing that, and gives us a better idea of what she is willing to do and not do. and we can ask why she wont repeat our orders if she refuses to repeat and see how we can settle an agreement.

Of course, if she lies after repeating your order, thats pretty much it with Serah's contract with Landi.
No. 1065785 ID: 58c6b8
File 168670678065.png - (85.25KB , 500x500 , LF7 5.png )

“Ser-bear? You okay?”

“I’m thinking,” I respond.

“Uh-oh,” Landi says. “Nobody ever says that when they’re happy.”

“I’m not,” I say. “I’m a little worried, actually. About adventuring. It’s been a while, and I’m not exactly in shape. There’s a lot that could go wrong.”

“It’ll be fine,” Landi says. “Listen, it’ll be easy. We just gotta go follow some leads Vivi gave me for bandit stashes, knock down a few false walls with your big strong hammer, and bam! All in a day’s work. We might even find some artwork that’s been lost for, like, years. Your fancy-schmancy pals would give you all the credit for finding a lost masterpiece. Maybe you keep it for your bedroom if it’s spicy? Huh? Huh? Doesn’t that sound nice?”

“And what if that ‘lead’ Vivi got is actually a trap?” I ask. “What if those bandits are actually using that rumor to trap adventurers and steal their gear, and ransom silly noble girls back to their families for even more money?”

“Well, then we fight ‘em and kick their butts. C’mon, it’ll be a breeze even if it’s a trap. We’ll get to bring some bad guys to justice!”

“Landi,” I press, “Any time we get into a fight, it’s a huge risk.”

“We can bring Rae, it’ll be fine. Did you forget we have a dragon, too? We’ve got this!”

“Did you forget about the time you almost died fighting that Spirit of Bloodshed? All it takes is one lucky shot we’re not ready for.”

“That was one time,” Landi says. “What’re you worried about? You’re a big badass babe!”

“You, Moonshine,” I say softly. “I’m worried about you.”

“N-not so loud,” Landi stammers at hearing her true name, suddenly off-balance. “Uh… Hey, I’ve got the contract, remember? I can top off my dust easy peasy and other stuff. You don’t need to worry at all.”

“That’s not why I’m worried,” I say. “Landi, if we’re going to be fighting alongside each other, we need to trust each other with our lives. How can I trust you that deeply if I can’t even trust that you’ll stay away from the Marquess’s party?”

“I said I was sorry about that!” Landi huffs. “Dotti’s already giving me crap for that, are you gonna get on that bandwagon too? If you don’t trust me, then trust that I NEVER want to deal with Dotti the Prison Warden EVER AGAIN.”

“It’s more than that, Landi. I’ve been angry at you before, when you messed up my mutagen advice and didn’t tell me your godmother spell would wear off. Those are ‘me’ things. I’m worried about when you do things like spout off to a dragon, or steal from a Marquess. We’ve had to save you both times.”

“It wasn’t stealing!” Landi objects. “Those wines were free!”

“For guests.”

“And I was a guest!” Landi insists. “Anything you get invited to, I get invited to too. That’s how being a fairy companion works! It’s, like, in the contract!”

“Are you sure?” I ask. “Have you read it?”

“Of course I have! I went to Fairy College, you know!”

“Have you read all of it? This specific one?”



“Landi,” I say, holding out my hand, “Let’s have a look at it.”

“T-there’s no need for that,” Landi says, knowing she’s in trouble. It’s in Fae, so you can’t read it. So there’s no point. Just take my word for it, okay?”
No. 1065786 ID: 58c6b8
File 168670682567.png - (17.54KB , 333x418 , LF7 6.png )

Take a fairy’s word for it? I’m not feeling like it at the moment. As for the language barrier…

“Archibeard!” I call out. “I need a translator!”

“Uh!” Landi jolts midair as she’s joined by a spiffy floating skull zipping through the door.

“At once, my Lady,” Archibeard says. “What shall I assist with today?”

“Landi will provide.”

“Um, um, um…” Landi stammers. “There’s gonna be some really technical stuff in there, and it’s a contract of adhesion, so, like, don’t be upset at me if some of it sounds weird, I didn’t write it, okay? So you’re not allowed to get mad at me! Promise!”

“I will make no such promises,” I say.

Landi gulps but does as she’s asked. She summons the same glowing scroll I signed in the forest when we first met. I’ve been putting this conversation off too long, I know, but reading a fae contract is probably literally designed to give humans headaches.

Sure enough, the wording is in Fae, and Archibeard begins to read.

Always On Unless Disabled:
- The Fate Clause, which makes my future immune to meddling from Gods and Goddesses. The most important clause of all Fae contracts, and the reason adventurers started bringing fairies along in the first place.
- I gain resistance (but not immunity) to most of Landi’s spells, including most Djinn summon spells.
- Landi has authority to sign legal documents on my behalf except for ones involving my immortal soul and any and all birthrights. Landi has been using this to draw on my lines of credit.
- Landi is entitled to 50% of all loot I gain from adventuring, but she’s really bad at math.
- My personal effects are, legally, also Landi’s unless she doesn’t want them. This gives her the right to, among other things, eat off my dinner plate.
- Landi can draw on my core mana to replenish her Dust, as demonstrated at the Terrorscale Lair.
- All harmful spells targeting Landi are defaulted to targeting me instead, unless Landi decides to take the hit. This does not activate if Landi is too far away from me.
- Landi is entitled to attend any and all functions I am and has the right to go where I go. This is worded to grant her complete immunity to anti-fairy defenses, and spells or non-trained guards will see Landi as an extension of me if she stays on my person.
- I waive any and all rights to personal space regarding Landi.

Must be consciously activated:
- If we focus, we can determine what direction the other is and how far they are.
- Low-level empathic communication; e.g. if one of us in distress or very happy, the other will know.
- Landi can act as an anchor point for my own spells and projectiles without being harmed by them (even bomb blasts). Will use Landi’s Dust in proportion to the amount of harm she is saved from.
- ...

“Archibeard,” I say, “How much more is in this contract?”

“A fair amount, including some choice benefits and odd… ah… boons for your companion. There is also a great deal of boilerplate,” he says.

Landi is twiddling her wings innocently.

What else is in the contract? Can be benefits, boons, responsibilities, anything.
No. 1065788 ID: a7a180

Enhanced knockers when Landi is on your person, so she has somewhere comfy to rest.
Serah is entitled to a complete inventory of Landi's pocket space, so she can be aware if her items are sharing a dimensional pocket with anything hazardous.
Serah is required to speak of Landi with the highest of praise when she is showing her off to her fairy friends.
Every other Tuesday is Taco Tuesday. This is a subsection of the clause where Serah is required to buy Landi dinner at an interval to be worked out at a more convenient time before full spellcasting services commence.
Landi cannot be legally coerced into putting on underwear.
Landi may choose how Serah carries her. (Onward, noble steed!)
Landi accepts the task of locating alchemy reagents for Serah and assisting in their acquisition.
No. 1065820 ID: f2cf5a

At the very very bottom:

>Serah will not abandon Landi for any reason. At least, without telling her in person first.
No. 1065824 ID: e5709d

* Landi has permission to use Serah as a surrogate mother
* Serah can order Landi to grow to the size of a dwarf
* Landi may collect up to one gallon of fluid from Serah each year (non-cumulative)
* Serah may collect up to one gallon of fluid from Landi each month (cumulative)
* I heart boobies
* Serah is permitted to alter Landi's personality when playing Grand Theft Auto
No. 1065828 ID: e51896

There's a tiny lip stain on the contract, like Landi kissed it at one point

- Serah will magically feel compelled to help Landi's sorority sisters when Landi doesn't feel like helping them (Now that you think about it, Landi COULD have easily helped Rocio with her inventory magic to move the items, but had YOU do it instead??? You could have avoided that moving day incident!)
No. 1065846 ID: 9a2966

Huh. Well. Okay.

Point one. If she's perma-invited to all parties alongside you, that would've been useful to know and it would've been nice to have been told. A bit of trust would be nice from your mischievous little friend.

You would've... prepared better, probably. Perhaps told her to try being on her best behavior, or do her best avoiding the attention of certain nobles. Or, yeah, offered her a decent distraction doing something else, or planned something to make up for it. Because at SOME parties like these there are things someone like Landi can get probably get away with, and things she can get away with with your help (at cost), and things she absolteuly can't get away with at all. You worry if she recognizes the difference between all of these.

There are other problems with bringing her along besides the trouble she puts herself in.

To give some context. Nobles are rich and powerful. To remain so they scheme, do stuff and get together. Politics, blah blah, yeah? Being known as the noble who brings a mischievous party-upsetting faerie along isn't going to endear you to (most) hosts, who want parties generally to be predictable events taking place for their prestige and gain. They'd HATE losing prestige due to a Fae prompting scandals and such. So Landi's very presence may get you un-invited to really important get-togethers from here on. Which may undermine your ability to make contacts and friends in the pursuit of maintaining your status, the status that enables you to do many things you want and need to since, yeah, you're more than just an adventuress.

And that status does include letting Landi get away with things she otherwise wouldn't. You spent a bit of grace and influence lowering her punishment by the Marquess Mallory already, you're pretty sure. You... appreciate Landi for what she is, and you're really not aiming for 'oppressively boring companion' here. But you would like a little more understanding from Landi as to what sort of person she's gotten herself wrapped up with.

Explain this patiently, then raise eyebrows at what's coming up next on the reading list.

Must be consciously activated:

- Serah must allow Landi to fully explain herself before making judgement calls on her actions (Oh hey, I'd forgotten about this one. Filibuster, whoo!)
- Serah shall work earnestly to free Landi from any kind of truly unjust imprisonment (Take that, JAIL!)
- Serah shall assist with doing Landi's Fae taxes at end of the fiscal year (Oooooooh. Right. I've... definitely been keeping up with those.)
- Serah shall, in the event of Landi's passing, inform her closest living relatives and/or friends. The focus sense granting direction and distance towards Landi will shift to them. (Bleh, no reason to ever activate this one, I'd never die!)
- Serah, if unmarried, must consider seriously any marriage proposal from Landi (It's a boon companions always get first dibs thing, ehee.)
- Landi may invite her friends over to any of Serah's domiciles or establishments (Yuuup. Your house is my house 'n all that.)
- Serah may join war on behalf of the Fae should circumstances allow, with associated benefits (Veeeeerrry specific circumstances. Don't worry about it!)

- Landi may recharge Serah's core mana at the cost of Dust (Urgh, that's a thing yeah. Don't pester me too much for it!)
- Landi may spend Dust to give Serah temporary powers of levitation or flight depending on the amount (The Tinker B special!)
- Serah may make use of Fae banking services. Includes free mentorship on standard Fae banking lessons, such as 'How to avoid my companion bankrupting me 101' (Look... LOOK, maybe just skip those, huh? It's fine. It's fiiiine.)
- Serah may ask each of Landi's fae friends and superiors for a max of 1 (one) favor as if they were Landi. Favor must be repaid. Once repaid the opportunity resets (Friend-o my friend-o clause.)
- Serah may visit Landi's Fae home address for a max of 1 week each year. Up to 3 trusted friends cleared by Landi may be invited along to the Fae lands. (Aw, my house your house thing strikes back.)
- Serah has license to shop at Fae markets when visiting Fae lands (Whaddye think I'm siphoning funds from you for? It's not juuuust frivolous expenses! Some of these places are wyld! Was hoping I could find some cool alchemy ingredients so you could make more cooler stuff for me, er, yourself. As a gift!)
No. 1065849 ID: 629f2e

Lots of good stuff here already, so I'll just toss in a few more.

Always On Unless Disabled:
- Landi is always correct, even when she isn't.
- Serah understands that faries are awesome and way better than non-fairies.

Must be consciously activated:

- Landi may request Serah to disrobe for merchants during times of financial crisis (As defined by: Any time during which Landi doesn't have enough to purchase a full bottle of booze on her person or in her inventory.) The request may be denied on the grounds of particularly embarrassing undergarments.
- Landi may dye Serah's hair and skin via magic to match Landi's colors.
- Serah must refer to herself as Landi, and create a cover story for her supposed "growth spurt" if requested.
- Serah must show up to any non-fae court dates in Landi's name if requested. Any judgments given to "Landi" will be carried out by Serah.
- Landi gets to name any pets Serah adopts. (I'm sure Dorothea doesn't mind of course)
No. 1065957 ID: eb0d9e
File 168688958111.png - (17.96KB , 500x485 , LF7 7.png )

>Landi accepts the task of locating alchemy reagents for Serah and assisting in their acquisition.
>Serah is entitled to a complete inventory of Landi's pocket space, so she can be aware if her items are sharing a dimensional pocket with anything hazardous.
>Serah has license to shop at Fae markets when visiting Fae lands
>Landi may recharge Serah's core mana at the cost of Dust
>Landi may spend Dust to give Serah temporary powers of levitation or flight depending on the amount
>Serah may make use of Fae banking services. Includes free mentorship on standard Fae banking lessons, such as 'How to avoid my companion bankrupting me 101'
>Serah may visit Landi's Fae home address for a max of 1 week each year. Up to 3 trusted friends cleared by Landi may be invited along to the Fae lands.
Oh! These are actually very useful. I’m quite happy with these. Perhaps I can relax.

>Enhanced knockers when Landi is on your person, so she has somewhere comfy to rest.
>I heart boobies
So that’s why my tops don’t fit sometimes! I’m not crazy after all.

>- Serah may join war on behalf of the Fae should circumstances allow, with associated benefits
“Archibeard, does this affect House Kensington’s political alliances at all?”

“No, my Lady. In fact, it’s not an uncommon clause, similar to a conscription your noble peers use. It is highly unlikely you will to be summoned to war on behalf of the Fae.”

Oh. Well. Hm.

>Landi is always correct, even when she isn't.
>Serah understands that fairies are awesome and way better than non-fairies.
“Archibeard, are these enforceable?”

“No. Not even by Fae standards.”


>Serah is required to speak of Landi with the highest of praise when she is showing her off to her fairy friends.
>Landi cannot be legally coerced into putting on underwear.
>Landi may choose how Serah carries her.
>Serah must allow Landi to fully explain herself before making judgement calls on her actions.
>Serah shall work earnestly to free Landi from any kind of truly unjust imprisonment.
>Every other Tuesday is Taco Tuesday. This is a subsection of the clause where Serah is required to buy Landi dinner at an interval to be worked out at a more convenient time before full spellcasting services commence.
Can’t say I’m surprised by these, and it explains why she’s been so confident demanding Taco Tuesdays…

>Serah shall assist with doing Landi's Fae taxes at end of the fiscal year.
>Serah must show up to any non-fae court dates in Landi's name if requested. Any judgments given to "Landi" will be carried out by Serah.
“Landi, have you committed massive tax fraud?”

“I have no idea.”

>Serah shall, in the event of Landi's passing, inform her closest living relatives and/or friends. The focus sense granting direction and distance towards Landi will shift to them.
>Serah will not abandon Landi for any reason. At least, without telling her in person first.

These are… actually kind of sweet. And tiny bit sad. Maybe I’m being too hasty in judging Landi’s contract?

>Serah will magically feel compelled to help Landi's sorority sisters when Landi doesn't feel like helping them

>Serah, if unmarried, must consider seriously any marriage proposal from Landi

>Landi may request Serah to disrobe for merchants during times of financial crisis (As defined by: Any time during which Landi doesn't have enough to purchase a full bottle of booze on her person or in her inventory.) The request may be denied on the grounds of particularly embarrassing undergarments.

“Landi!” I shout. “A-Archibeard! She can’t actually make me do any of this, can she?”

“She can draw on the powers of the Greater Library,” Archibeard says. “It is essentially a massive magical construct built from the energies of all Fae contracts, and can be used in many subtle ways to enforce the terms. Some of the terms simply seem like good ideas at the time, and its victims may be unaware of the compulsion. Other times… well. The compulsion is quite strong.”


“Hey!” Landi darts behind a vase. “Don’t get mad, okay? It was for emergencies only, and I didn’t know you were rich when I picked it from the drop-in clauses, so it doesn’t even matter!”


“I can’t!” Landi winces. “I need a notary and… and someone who knows what they’re doing, okay? Adventurer contracts are hard to change for lots of really good reasons I can’t think of right now!”

“Summon Ellie! Do it! She can fix this!”

“Ellie’s at work, she can’t leave!”

This is unacceptable.
1. Demand Landi summon Ellie RIGHT NOW OR ELSE
2. Send Landi to Box Jail
3. Choose Violence
4. Other
No. 1065958 ID: a7a180

Choose violence. Potion violence.
No. 1065960 ID: 273c18

No. 1065964 ID: e51896

4, a little change to 1:

you're going to FLY to the library where Ellie works by grabbing Landi by the wings and spanking the dust out of her onto you, just like Miss Venmiphi the gnelf said could happen.

You deserve to have some fun doing this out of Landi's expense, and we've been waiting so long for this to happen when Venmiphi spoke of this.
No. 1065965 ID: e5709d

This but use Landi as a powder ball and bat her everywhere on your body.
No. 1065968 ID: 629f2e

4, Calm down. Landi isn't being unreasonable right now, and you can talk to Ellie when she's off work. The compulsion is... problematic, but so long as it isn't taken advantage of, it isn't of immediate concern.
No. 1065969 ID: b57fea

Remember if Violence is not the solution to your problem you have simply not used ENOUGH violence!
No. 1066044 ID: c9abf8
File 168697307078.png - (122.16KB , 378x501 , LF7 8.png )

“I can’t believe you put that in our contract!” I seethe. “You are such an immature, self-centered, rude, lewd, crass little devil!”

“Yeep!” Landi flees at top speed.

I don’t bother to follow her out in a rush. Instead, I take the opportunity to try out that Landi-sensing feature of the contract, and to my surprise, the instinctive sense of direction toward her lights right up as I focus on a mental image of a compass with Landi as true north. I should have read that contract far earlier.

I find Landi hiding in a sack of potatoes in the kitchen and pluck the squealing, shocked fairy out with deft fingers that are pinching perhaps too tightly than I need to.

“YIEE! Ser-bear, it’s not a big deal, we can talk about this! You gotta let me fully explain myself, it’s in the contract!”

“True,” I say. “But you can explain yourself from inside THE POUCH!”

“Not the pouch!” Landi cries out. “Archibeard was stuck in there forever! You can’t do this to me!”

“I can and I will,” stashing her inside my ultra-sturdy pouch with just enough of a gap to let her speak (and breathe). “Now you can explain all you want while we wait for Ellie to finish her work, hmm?”

What should I do while we wait for Ellie to get off work?
1. Hop into the lab and work on some bombs, potions and/or mutagens.
2. Talk with Archibeard about daddy’s political goals at the moment. Should I be a good girl?
3. Visit Kayk’s bakery, I’ve earned a sweet treat! Maybe I should stay away from merchants, though…
4. Work out. Maybe now that I’m more willing to go out adventuring again, it’s a better decision… but it’ll still feel horrible.
5. Other
No. 1066047 ID: b4111a

One. Make You deserve some fun after all that.
No. 1066048 ID: a7a180

One. Potion time!
No. 1066050 ID: 273c18

1. Stock up. Also put some thought into what transformation you can force Landi to drink to make her most useful during adventuring.
No. 1066058 ID: 629f2e

4, Anger is better channeled through physical labor than technically challenging tasks such as alchemy. And you really should work out, it's good for your health.
No. 1066059 ID: 58dd24

a solid point. Work that anger out. Kick a training dummy.
No. 1066063 ID: e5709d

4 Work out your frustration, it's good for you.
No. 1066065 ID: 12b116

4, then maybe 1. you should probably get in better shape before you look like Kayk
No. 1066159 ID: ba93b2

While we may want to go adventuring, sorting things out with Landi one way or the other would be wise before we seriously commit to it. Landi, as much as she's a chaos factor, is also a source of useful magic. We'd need to plan accordingly if this contract issue doesn't work itself out.

On that same train of thought, perhaps it would be good to plan accordingly regardless. Landi is in a tough spot right now, demonstrating to her that you don't need to beg her to contribute to the success of an adventuring party would really deal a needed blow to her ego. It would be a good way to apply pressure on her to do more and be better if she's going to justify sticking around with you. Maybe that line of thinking is a little cruel, but it's good politicking. That's that thing Archibeard is always harping on you to practice more of, right?

That said, how imminently are we going to want to step out into the world of adventuring again? If we have time, working out (4) is probably the best path forward. If we're going to appease Landi's pleading to seek treasure and booty very soon, we can't go anywhere without all of our bombs and potions resupplied (1). Especially not with how many of the best bombs we're still missing. Working on a few extra utility potions and elixirs to do the above stated putting-in-place would be a good idea too.
No. 1066563 ID: e9229a
File 168771546379.png - (14.61KB , 528x550 , LF7 9.png )

I’m upset. What makes me feel better when I’m upset? Staring at soothing, bubbling flasks, that’s what.

But do I trust Landi enough to not distract me when I’m measuring components for bombs?


No, I do not. So as much as I hate to do it, there’s only one other way to blow off steam, and that’s by visiting Kayk’s bakery and having some delicious sweets. It’s for my peace of mind!

But do I trust Landi’s contract magic not to mess with my head when I’m passing by a shop and convince me to something horrible?


No, I do not.

That means I should probably I catch up on the latest news from Kensington and the latest love letters from my hopeless suitors which is… something… I could do when I’m upset and dealing with the fact that I don’t have a boyfriend to gush over anymore.

No, that would just make me more upset. So that leaves…


“Archibeard, is my workout wear still in the back of my boudoir?”

“You mean your dresser at the back of your tiny guild-rented room?” Archibeard asks. “You haven’t had a boudoir since you left home, my Lady.”

“Don’t ruin my fantasies, Archibeard.”

“Of course not, my Lady. Ah. Your workout wear is still safely stored underneath a pile of hosiery, from whence it shall never escape.”

“We’re going to grant it clemency,” I sigh. “I’m going to borrow the guild’s weights for a while and swing the training hammers.”

“That means you’re letting me out of this pouch, right?” Landi asks. “I can be your cheerleader!”

“You are staying right there until evening, when Ellie can help us,” I hiss. “You may, however, motivate me for my workout by explaining, in detail, why you thought making a ‘Serah-must-striptease’ clause was a good idea.”

“Well… I mean… you’re hot!” Landi says. “And if I don’t have any money, then there’s LOTS of merchants who’d give us free stuff in exchange for a peek or two, right? Right! It’s totally logical! You like logic, right?”

I can’t even begin to answer that in words, so it’s time to satisfy my deep desire to swing a hammer at something.


I’m exhausted, and it’s only partially because Landi wouldn’t stop trying to explain herself during my workout.

At last, it’s done. I’ve lost more strength than I’d care to admit, and I’m down to just the benefits of my improved mutagen. I should have kept up with my workouts if I had intended to go adventuring again. Still, I don’t plan to head out to risk my life any time soon, at least not until after we take Dotti to the latest Church of Censorship parish, and Kayk has time to fly us out in two days. I have a good feeling about this latest lead.

In the meantime, it’s the afternoon, I’m a sweaty mess and my limbs are all shaky. I don’t trust myself to handle delicate measuring for lab work until tomorrow. Shower time!

“Archibeard, keep an eye on Landi while I clean up,” I say.

“Certainly,” Archibeard says, and I can detect a little satisfaction in that he’s the one outside the pouch.


I take my time in the shower, enjoying every minute of the hot, running water. It’s my own personal sanctuary from the chaos around me. Halfway through, I realize I’m out of the special enchanted soap I got from a gift exchange. I’m left with just regular soap now. Maybe I should go and buy some…

Oh. Landi’s little merchant clause makes that a risky endeavor if she’s accompanying me. I don’t want her subtle fae magic influencing my decisions. Perhaps it would be not-so-subtle, if she sees something she really wants. I could leave Landi behind, but I don’t want her contacting Ellie without my knowing and trying to “fix” things without my knowing.

Should I:

1. Go shopping for something that will make an immediate, noticeable improvement in something I really enjoy (shower supplies)
2. Visit Kayk and Dotti and reward myself for the workout
3. Take no chances and stay at the Adventurers’ Guild, and maybe run into Raelynn
4. Both 1 and 2 (Highest risk of Landi somehow embarrassing me)
No. 1066564 ID: db64ca

3. Talk with rae about your trust issues and feelings about Landi, and try and get her to talk about how she is feeling. You both might have advice for each other.
No. 1066565 ID: 629f2e

3, You haven't really gotten to interact with Rae much during her recent troubles. Might be worth checking in.
No. 1066566 ID: a7a180

Well, people may be curious how those two are doing, so 4.
No. 1066579 ID: 4e1a2a
File 168773079740.png - (14.91KB , 500x500 , LF7 10.png )

I’m not giving Landi any opportunities to use that striptease clause on me. Absolutely not!

I get dressed and rejoin Archibeard and Imprisoned-in-the-Pouch Landi in the Guild common room.

“Has Landi behaved herself while I was gone?” I ask.

“By her standards, yes,” Archibeard replies.

Landi huffs. “This is overkill. We’ve been partners for months and I haven’t used that clause once. You can trust me, Ser-bear! Just let me out. Please?”

“I am taking absolutely no chances,” I say. “There’s not a single merchant here in the Adventurers’ Guild, and we are going to stay here all day if that’s what it takes to avoid invoking that horrid clause.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I spot a fluttering blue figure. I recognize that cloak, but not the hairstyle. Oh! Rae must have dyed her hair again. Her old colors were fairly loud for a ranger, even if she could camouflage it with some magic.

“Raelynn?” I call out. “I like what you’ve done with your hair.”

“Serah,” Rae says with a nod. “Thank you. It took some time to find someone who knew a spell to remove the dye.”

I pause for a moment. Then… this is her natural hair color?

Sweet savior she’s so cute and I want to tell her but she might not like that

“Rae-bae’s all-natural now?” Landi shouts from inside the bag. “Lemme out! I wanna see!”

“You’re staying inside until Ellie is off work!” I remind her. Rae raises her eyebrow. “It’s so I can trust her to behave.”

“Good,” Rae says. “Trust should only be given when enforced.”

“That’s… one way of putting it,” I say.

“It’s the only way,” Rae says. “Regardless. I’m taking you up on your offer to improve my Feline Grace mutagen. I’m confident in my muscle memory and my training now, so it’s time to push it to the next level.”

I immediately brighten up. “Did you decide on whether you’d like those cat ears?”

“CAT EARS! DO IT!” Landi squeals.

“No cat ears,” Rae says, but I can detect the slightest hint of hesitation in her voice. “No tail, either. I don’t want to look like I’m an outsider when I…” Rae clears her throat. “I mean, I don’t want to look like even more of an outsider in Minga. Between my ears and my scar, I’m already too easy to pick out in a crowd.”

“If you insist,” I say. “But you’d still look fantastic, Rae.”

Rae shrugs. I don’t think she cares.

“I can improve on your mutagen tomorrow in the lab,” I say. “I’d just like you to spend some time in the lab so I can make sure I’m getting things right. Does 9 o’clock in the morning work for you?”

Rae nods.

“What about me?” Landi asks. “Do I get an upgrade?”

Oh. That. Yes, Landi could use an upgrade to her, um, interesting mutagen. “Yes,” I sigh. “We’ll figure something out tomorrow, okay? Just be aware it might mess with the pattern on your wings.”

“Not the dots!” Landi wails. “I like those a lot!”

“Fine,” I sigh. “I’ll try and keep the dots as they are. Just give me some extra time.”


Rae rolls her eyes. “I’ll see all three of you tomorrow, then. Good afternoon, Lady Kensington. And you, Malazar,” she says, looking up at Archibeard beside me.

“You don’t want to stay and chat?” I ask. “We haven’t had much time to catch up these last few weeks. I was going to offer to bring you along on a visit to a Church of Censorship parish two days from now. There might be some skilled fighters there, who knows?”

“I’d be getting used to my mutagen by then,” Rae says. “I might not be ready for a real fight. I won’t charge you for protection, Serah. Are you sure you want me along?”

“Of course,” I say wholeheartedly.

“And Taranis, too?”

“Why?” I ask. “Is there something the matter with him? Does he have a schedule conflict?”

“No,” Rae says. “It’s nothing. He’ll be on his best behavior, I’m sure. If you’ll excuse me, I’d like to check my traps and equipment.”

Rae turns to leave again. Surely she has time tomorrow to do that.

This might be the only time for a while that I have a good excuse to talk with the antisocial Rae.

1. Let Rae check her equipment when she’s not hung over with the mutagen (maybe a good idea?)
2. Invite Rae to spend time with me until Ellie is off work
2a. Tell Rae she’s cute
2b. Ask more about Taranis
2c. Suggest other conversation topics

3. Other
No. 1066582 ID: e51896

2b. Just like Serah having issues with Landi, Rae seems to be having issues with Taranis. Ask for advice how she handles him and how she is able to maintain trust with Taranis if he does stuff that are bad.
No. 1066585 ID: 629f2e

2, 2A, 2B, and 2C! As an additional topic, why not ask about what other colors she's dyed her hair in the past?
No. 1066589 ID: a7a180

2a, and what if: a partial shapeshift aspect to the mutagen. No more hair dye, toggle ears and whiskers on and off.
No. 1066613 ID: b57fea

2a! She is absolutely very cute. Also she's acting very suspiciously and doing that whole "super-loner" thing again. Make sure your friend is okay!
No. 1066614 ID: a2cc8d
File 168775644528.png - (28.26KB , 500x500 , LF7 11.png )

Rae is trying to avoid talking to me. I thought we knew each other well enough that she’d be comfortable just spending time with me, but I guess she still needs a little encouragement.

“Actually, do you have a minute?” I ask Rae, patting the comfy seat next to me. “If it’s urgent, I won’t stop you, of course. I’d just like to ask for some advice.”

Rae is halfway to the stairwell by the time I finish my sentence, but she slows her pace and her shoulders slump in resignation. Try as I might to make it easy, even a simple conversation is draining on her. There has to be something weighing on her mind to make her so flightly.

“I’m not sure what I can help with, aside from safekeeping and survival,” Rae sighs, but she takes the comfy chair. “Sure. What do you need?”

I’m working on a hunch here, but I suspect that Rae is having some kind of issues with Taranis. She’s defensive about him, and I suspect it has something to do with the four witches that were asking after him and staking out Rae’s door last month.

“I have a companion,” I say with a gesture toward my alchemical pouch. “A companion with certain proclivities.”

“Oh! That’s me!” Landi pipes up.

“Yes,” I nod. “And Landi, that’s not something to be proud of. You worry me, and you act out in ways that cause me problems. Rae, I wanted to know if you’ve ever had any… similar issues, and how you’ve dealt with them.”

Rae clenches her teeth. “I’m not in the habit of airing my companion’s dirty laundry.”

“You don’t have to,” I say. “I’m just looking for some advice.”

“Laundry…” Landi mutters from inside the pouch. “Oh! Is this like when he stole Kayk’s fishnets back at the Terrorscale lair and was super proud of it, and you called Taranis a total perv bird?”

“Something like that,” Rae mutters. “Look, I’m only going to say this to help you. If you’re missing any underwear, I think I know where it might be.”

“I KNEW IT!” Landi giggles.

“Regardless,” I say, “How are you feeling about you companion’s certain unsavory activities?”

“I don’t like it, obviously,” Rae sighs. “He’s causing problems for me and drawing attention, and it’s hurting my ability to work some things out with a priestess. I’ve made it clear that if he doesn’t pay his penance and stay out of trouble, he’s going to have trouble being around me in Minga. He could just go do his own thing, but for some reason he’s insistent on staying by me, so he’s behaving. For now.”

“It sounds like he values your company enough to change his behavior,” I say, directing my voice toward the pouch. “Is he showing progress?”

“I suppose,” Rae says. “I don’t think his magpie girlfriend is a good influence on him, but he’s not being chased by angry witches anymore, so there’s that.”

“I myself was known for piracy most foul,” Archibeard says. “Malazar the Mad, I was. I do think I’ve channeled my energies toward something more productive than piracy, wouldn’t you say, my Lady?”

“Please don’t hold yourself up as an example of levelheadedness, Archibeard. I haven’t forgotten your advice about killing Dotti.”

“It was the prudent course of action at the time,” Archibeard says, floating down toward Rae. “I maintain my assessment that Lady Kensington sees Dotti more as a cute and cuddly fox than a selfish, malicious fox spirit.”

“She can be both!” Landi says. “Being cute doesn’t stop her from being evil.”

“People can be cute and dangerous at the same time,” I admit. “Like you, Rae. I didn’t mention it earlier, but your natural hair color is quite pretty.”

Rae looks down at the floor. “You’re just saying that.”

“I’m not,” I say. “You looked quite good with your hair dyed, but this color compliments your skin and eyes. I’m curious, what other colors have you tried?”

“Well,” Rae squirms, “I tried being a blonde the first time I dyed it, right after… when I first showed up in Minga.”

“Eeeee!” Landi squeals. “I bet you were so pretty!”

“I looked sad and pathetic. Like a lost little girl. I changed it as soon as I had the money to.”

“When did you try purple?” I ask, forcing a change of subject. I can tell she’d rather not talk about that time in her life.

“About a year in,” Rae says. “I like lilacs, and I heard girls talking about how you should choose color coordination based on your favorite flowers.”

“My favorites are roses, but tulips are nice too,” I say.

“Hydrangeas, hell yeah!” Landi cheers.

I make more small talk for a few minutes, and Rae is just barely comfortable enough to stay. Again, I notice she’s got something heavy on her mind, but she probably isn’t going to be comfortable talking about it in front of Landi and Archibeard.

What should I do?

1. Keep the conversation light, and try to cheer Rae up somehow. Suggest something to lift her spirits!
2. Send Archibeard away with Landi’s pouch, and ask what’s on Rae’s mind. Might not go well.
3. Let Rae go be by herself and tune up her traps and equipment for the upcoming trip to the Church parish. The safest option. She’ll be tired and strung out over the next few days with the mutagen working its way through her system, but maybe after she sleeps it off at the Parish I’ll have time to talk to her about it.
No. 1066615 ID: 629f2e

3, Give her some space. There will be time later to talk with her about it, but right now she has work to do.
No. 1066616 ID: a7a180

Let her tune up her stuff, there's a lot of it.
No. 1066617 ID: e51896

3. let introverts be introverts. she'll apreciate it. But let her know if she ever has anything she wants to talk to you about, or any concerns whether it is something personal, or an issue with somebody, you'll always be there to listen and help the best you can as a good friend and ally.
No. 1066618 ID: e51896

Oh yeah, more importantly, thank her for taking the time to listen to your own concerns and for the advice.
No. 1066666 ID: 4b4fac
File 168782690187.png - (38.54KB , 333x418 , LF7 12.png )

If Rae doesn’t want to share with me, that’s okay. I just have to be supportive of her when she needs me, and make it clear that I’m there for her.

“Rae, thank you for all your help,” I say softly. “I value your advice, and all your help these last few months.”

Rae gets up from her seat. “Don’t mention it.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow in the lab?”

Rae nods. “Do I need to fast before taking the mutagen?”

“Only if you were nauseous after you took the last one,” I say. “You did fine last time, so you should be fine, just a little tired and perhaps achy, with a bit of a fever.”

“Cat scratch fever?” Landi asks. I don’t dignify it with a response.

Rae takes that as her cue to leave, and she actually gives a bit of a wave as she heads upstairs. Progress!

I spend a bit more time in the common room with Landi and Archibeard discussing the “finer” points of my contract and what might be worth keeping, as well as a few ideas for actual improvements. Landi can’t remember half of the standard drop-in clauses, which are like picking terms from a menu and adding them in a giant potpourri of fae wording. If she was better at wordsmithing, we might be able to think of something even more powerful that could link the two of us together or potentially alter her portal and/or inventory magic to use me as an anchor in some way, or to let Landi’s Djinni summons benefit me as well, but neither of us is certain how to draft language that wouldn’t backfire on me via a one certain white-skinned Djinn in a pink bikini. We check the time and it’s late enough in the afternoon that Ellie can receive Landi’s summons without irking her bosses.

I carefully let Landi out of the pouch with a dour glare and let her cast the summon.

“Ellie, Ellie! Drafting’s tough! I gotta notarize this stuff!” It takes a minute, but a dull pink ball materializes in the center of the common room. “You made it! Yay!”

“Are you amending Dotti’s contract again?” Ellie asks nervously. “I don’t want to have my name on two of those, my boss might notice.”

“Nah,” Landi says. “This one’s with Serah and me. Don’t worry, I just used drop-in language!”

“That’s a relief,” Ellie says. “Then why was this summon marked ‘urgent’?”

“Because of this!” I say, pointing at the striptease clause. “Please, please help us fix it.”

“Oh,” Ellie sighs. “I see. Um, I need to cast a few spells to get my notarial seal ready and check the latest versions of these clauses, they’re always updating. I can make the language a bit better if you want. It’ll take some effort.”

“I love you,” Landi says, giving her sorority sister a hug. “Hey, you want a mana potion? You look kind of low-energy right now.”

“Those always make my head spin,” Ellie says. “I’ll have plenty of Dust as long as I don’t use my contract-searching spell too much I’ve never had to connect to the central archives this far from the library…”

“You can do it!” Landi cheers. “Hey, Serah, Ellie says she can search for good ideas for your contract, and she’s super smart so you know it’ll work out great!”

Ellie is willing to amend Landi’s and my contract! Suggest clauses I should add or adjust. More complicated clauses will drain Ellie’s Dust as she searches for the right language.
No. 1066676 ID: 4481aa

Let's maintain our original categories for suggestions:

Always On Unless Disabled:

- Landi may assume permission to USE Serah's affects, unless expressly forbidden. She does not share legal ownership over any of them unless specifically given.
- Landi must show basic courtesy and respect to Serah, as well as other members of their party. (Stealing this bit from Dotti's contract, and applying it to the whole party to at least try and prevent future incident.)
- Landi may request that Serah take adventuring jobs. As party leader, Serah ultimately gets to decide what jobs she takes on, but for each period of one month in which Serah does not take on adventuring work, Landi will be allotted a small income for the opportunity cost.
- Landi will avoid taking actions that could easily get Serah or her fellow party members in legal trouble.
- In the event that Landi fucks up again, she will listen to any explanation Serah offers on what she did wrong and explain herself, and then both parties will try to reach an agreement to prevent future incident.
- Salt is terrifying, and Serah and Landi will cooperate to appease her if there is ever concern that she is dissatisfied.
- Future contract negotiation will be mediated by Ellie, as she is lovely. Put exactly that in the contract. No, I don't care if it's proper legalese, write exactly what I said. No, you shouldn't include the explanation that followed.

Must be consciously activated:

- Serah may enforce her orders as the party leader. If Landi consents to the order, she will be compelled to follow it barring what either of them perceive to be an emergency, or the order's verbal or written annulment.
- Serah may request that Landi learn specific spells. Both parties will discuss fair terms for the request, and the agreement will be contractually enforced if a deal is reached.
- If Serah and fellow party members set up an intervention, Landi must concede that she has a drinking problem and seek help.
No. 1066677 ID: 273c18

Maybe add some way of empowering Sarah that Landi forgot but Ellie remembers?
No. 1066678 ID: e5709d

Always On Unless Disabled:
Whenever Landi consciously decides to perform an action which she believes runs against her personal moral code, or the legal and spiritual laws of a place she chooses to live in (when she is in said place), she will develop a compulsion to inform Serah and receive permission from Serah and/or the party before she performs the action.
Serah may request simulated sexual stimulation from Landi.
Serah will share some of her physical vitality with Landi, while Landi will share some of her magical vitality with Serah. If either cannot perform this function beyond two standard deviations' worth of above-average efficiency, this rule is disabled.
Landi will become the godmother of Serah's firstborn non-male-gendered child. The child must first choose to identify as a non-male gender of their own free will. (This one's because the first son will hog all the inheritance.)

Must Be Consciously Activated:
Landi must show basic courtesy, an indoor voice, and deference to Serah, as well as other members of their party. This rule may only be activated during a social-priority mission and will be deactivated otherwise.
Serah may send a telepathic signal to Landi's chest.
Landi may send a telepathic signal to Serah's chest.
No. 1066679 ID: f2cf5a


>>1066676 plus:

Always On Unless Disabled:

-Should it be determined that an action of Landi's was made in genuine good faith to benefit Serah or the party but resulted in negative consequences through no major fault of her own, Serah will hold Landi harmless of any personal punishment that results thereof and seek best possible recourse to relieve Landi of all punishments sought by outside parties.

-In addition to prior allowance given, Landi is permitted one (1) 'Girls' Night Out' out per fourteen (14) calendar days. This 'Girls' Night Out' will be attended with Serah for a minimum of two (2) hours after sunset, shall not involve any actions involving pre-assigned work or duty unless critical to an individual's continued existence and wellbeing, and permits Landi temporary relief of all other 'Always On' Clauses until midnight of the day the 'Girls' Night goes into effect. All punishments and consequences, be they from outside sources or not, that would be inflicted onto Landi otherwise still go into effect once this relief expires.

Must be consciously activated:

-Landi is permitted one 'Piss Off' excuse per day while engaged in non-punishment duties or actions involving the party. If Landi exercises her right to tell someone to 'Piss Off', she is permitted to disregard that individual entirely for the next six [6] hours, and is excused from the normal damages and punishments such behaviors may normally cause unless they are a physical or economic danger to herself, or the party. In exchange, she cannot tell someone to 'Piss Off' more than twice in a twenty-four (24) hour period. However, this clause, if invoked on Serah when both are in a sound state of mind, indicates the request of the annulation of the contract entirely.

-Landi is permitted twelve (12) Perverted Actions per seven (7) day week upon Serah's body. These must be reversible within a 24 hour timespan and cannot detract from her formal diplomatic duties or adventuring capability.

-Should Serah gain the attention of a potential suitor, Landi retains the right to engage in personal inspection of said suitor to the best of her abilities to determine suitability, provided the inspection does not involve breaking and entering or other illegal actions. This does not preclude any punishment she may acquire from the attempt by the targeted party, but Serah will hold harmless the attempt on her part.
No. 1066681 ID: e51896

Every other Friday is Pizza day, the best day of the week. (not a serious contract suggestion, but hey, I won't complain if you add it in)
No. 1066682 ID: a7a180

Danger sense clause: Whenever Landi thinks the words 'I have a great idea', the hair on Serah's neck stands up.
No. 1066684 ID: 7cf2dc
File 168784876323.png - (26.75KB , 913x889 , LF7 13.png )

Landi and I start slowly at first, but soon the floodgates open wide and Ellie is scrambling to keep up with us. She’s trying as best she can to pull actual, good language from the Greater Library’s records, but my very well-thought-out, well-reasoned revisions collide with Landi’s counter-offers and additions. Poor Ellie is overwhelmed, but she’s such a hard worker that she powers through it, searching at lightning speed and revising as needed, and then…

Poof. The connection disappears as Ellie’s Dust runs out.

“Oh, no!” Ellie gasps. “Oh, no, no, no! Ahh! This is horrible! I can’t notarize your contract without my link to the Library! I’m so sorry, I’m just so tired, and work today was so stressful, and I’m letting you down so much right now and I feel so heavy…”

“Easy, Ells,” Landi says. “Shhh. I gotcha. Take it easy, let’s get you some herbal tea, yeah? Just like college. You did good! Take a breather. And get you outta the common room before somebody sees ya like this.”

Landi motions to me to pick Ellie up. Her wings are far too heavy and unwieldly for her to fly without Dust. I give her a hand and we move to our bedroom to give Ellie some privacy while she calms down.

I quickly glance over the contract language and see what’s made it in so far.

- The “avoid” legal trouble is weak, but it’s the best I can get Landi to agree to.
- Landi and I both agree that Salt is scary and Ellie is a great mediator.
- The rest is included with revisions to language that Ellie made before she ran out of dust. I have to wonder what “basic courtesy” means to a fae like Landi…

- The indemnification clause is an obligation to do something I would be bound by honor to do anyway (defend Landi if she genuinely acted in a way that she thought was in the right), so this is good.

- The “Piss Off” clause needs a bit of work since she would inevitably use it on Dotti every day, and I’d like them to at least try to get along. But this section is an excellent idea to allow Landi to mouth off without consequence.

- I’ve rejected the Perverted Actions clause and Suitor Clause because I think Landi was just messing with Ellie at that point and seeing what other fairies have actually gotten people to agree to.

-Girls’ Night Out, Taco Tuesday and Pizza Friday are in the contract now, mainly to bribe Landi. Also pizza is pretty tasty.

I never knew I needed something so badly. Yes.

- Ellie was unable to find a way for Landi to empower me before she ran out of Dust, unfortunately.

We haven’t finished amending the contract yet, so I can still propose ideas on what would make a better contract. Ellie will still have to finish the language and notarize the final version it to make it official. However, she can’t do it right now. She’s drained.

Ellie is overwhelmed and out of Dust, and mana potions make her head spin. Choose one or more.
1. Prepare a guest fairy bed and let Ellie go to sleep right now. She might appreciate it.
2. Send Ellie back via Landi’s summon spell and let Ellie go home and sleep in her own bed, and she has the option to wake up tomorrow for work as usual.
3. Encourage Ellie to take a day off work tomorrow.
4. Give Ellie some time to catch her breath, then spend the rest of the evening with her and the party.
5. Other

What do we do with the rest of the evening? Kayk’s bakery is closed, unfortunately.
A. Nothing. Stay right here and don’t go near any merchants!
B. Leave the guild to either run errands or get fancy food and/or wine. Today’s guild food was terrible.
C. If Ellie isn’t sleeping, take her out on the town once she gets a bit of glow back.
D. Other
No. 1066685 ID: a7a180

No. 1066691 ID: b6ec4d

No. 1066693 ID: e51896

1, 5 (give her some moneys for a meal. recommend she eat at Kayks place tomorrow. that way of we decide to see eat at kayk's tomorrow, we might just bump into Ellie! And will help kayk make money too.

No. 1066695 ID: 12b116

No. 1066701 ID: 22c360

She should take tomorrow off. Let’s go buy stuff! Like some tiny fuzzy handcuffs for Landi.
No. 1066849 ID: d6dd91
File 168810238881.png - (28.24KB , 621x843 , LF7 15.png )

“You look like you’ve had a difficult day,” I say to Ellie. “You can spend the night here if you like. I’m sure we can make room.”

“I’m sorry,” Ellie says. “If you give me a mana potion, maybe I can power through the dizziness. It’ll be fine. I have to get this done tonight if I’m going to stay on schedule. My boss is counting on me.”

“Hey, Ells?” Landi says. “I love you, but you’re crazy. C’mon. At least take a quick nap, huh?”

“I guess,” Ellie groans. “Just a quick nap…”

It’s a heavy lift, but Landi carries her friend upstairs and comes back down a few minutes later.

“She fell asleep the second she hit the pillow,” Landi says. “I had to give her yours since my bed is too small for her, uh, wingspan.”

“I’ll find another,” I say. “In the meantime, we’re stuck here until that contract gets amended.”

“What?!” Landi jolts. “You’re not gonna put me back in that pouch again, are you? I’m a real person with real needs, like a real dinner that isn’t burnt toast dipped in gravy prepared by some idiot barbarian! And air! Air is important! I’m not some floating skull you can just ignore for months at a time! No offense, skullsy.”

“None taken,” Archibeard says.

“Well, you are not coming along with me to get better food,” I say. “No merchants for you. That clause is still in effect, don’t think I’ve forgotten.”

“Then let me come along. I’ve behaved so far, right? C’mon!”

I very much do not want to bring Landi along when that clause is in effect, but I can tell Landi isn’t going to back down. This might be difficult… but then, just as I’m about to say something diplomatic yet firm, Dotti comes through the door, all smiles.

“Serah!” she says, all smiles, giving a curtsy and smiling deeply. “And the wine thief, too!”

“Your slip is showing,” Landi says.

Dotti hastily drops her skirts and gives a nasty gekker.

“Can we not fight tonight?” I sigh. “Dotti, Ellie is visiting. She’s asleep in our room, so if you’re going to bed, please be quiet.”

“Ellie!” Dotti’s mood brightens. “She’s great. I like her.”

“Everyone likes Ellie,” Landi says, and she actually gets a nod from Dotti. At least that’s one thing they agree on.

“I’ll be quiet if I go to bed early,” Dotti says. “Kayk and I are going to get up in the morning and try to sell all our unsold stuff tomorrow so we can go find Petra two days from now. This time for sure! And you know what that means, right, Landi?”

“Oh, no,” Landi groans. “Do we have to do this every time?”

“Oh, yes,” Dotti insists. “This could be the time we find Petra, and I have to make sure I’m ready!”

“Do you really need my help for all this?”

“You’re the one with the inventory magic and the tail floofer,” Dotti says. “And I’ll put in a good word for you with Marquess Mallory ONLY if you help me out again.”

“This is gonna take all evening,” Landi sighs. “Serah, can you get me some take-out?”

I nod. This saves me from Landi tagging along, thankfully.

What is Dotti doing tonight and tomorrow to prepare for the trip to the Church of Censorship in case we finally find Petra?
No. 1066850 ID: a7a180

Using Landi for firebolt target practice.
No. 1066856 ID: e51896

Tonight, she is practicing her shapeshifting. Ever since she found out the real possibility of finding Petra, she felt inspired to try to shapeshift into a human again, so she's practicing hard to do that so that she can be a human like Petra, and be human friends instead of just a fox and human friend (though she won't complain if she can't get it right by the time they meet Petra, just being with Petra is enough for Dotti. The human transformation is a bonus, even if she's trying hard)
Dotti has also been having Landi help out with shapeshifting with her own magic, and giving pointers, even if she isn't as enthused.

Tomorrow, she is going to try to find the perfect gift for Petra! Something expensive and meaningful to her. Either that, or she is going to draw the perfect picture for Petra by drawing a picture of her! Maybe both? (how much has Dotti's drawing skills improved since we last saw her?) Landi is gonna help Dotti carry whatever she buys, and/or model for Dotti for the drawings she'll make
No. 1066862 ID: f33aee


Perhaps she's managed a kitsunemimi transformation by this point, but a full human eludes her?
No. 1066865 ID: e5709d

Dotti will come up with a whole speech about how she's missed Petra and gone through so many years of waiting and practicing.
And maybe consider fluffing her chest for extra hugs.

But seriously she'll practice spirit arts to fight off the soul-eating abominations, in case Rae's crazy brother manages to summon one.
No. 1066875 ID: 9b127b

she'll practice her fire magic so she can show off for Petra
No. 1066886 ID: b57fea

Prepare to administer hugs... and train fire practice (BUT NOT ON LANDI! She's a total sleaze but not that bad!)
No. 1066994 ID: 1d6d7c
File 168836120317.png - (4.18KB , 300x300 , LF7 16.png )

“First,” Dotti says to Landi, “You’re going to help me practice fire magic. I’m gonna try it on you, and-”

“Serah!” Landi shrieks. “Help! This is EXACTLY what I was afraid of when we redid Dotti’s contract!”

“Hey! I wasn’t finished!” Dotti objects. “This isn’t hurty fire magic, it’s good fire magic. The kind I used when Serah, Jek, Rae and I were camping out on the way up to the Terrorscale lair. It makes you warm and happy inside, and I need to know if I can do it for Petra, too.”

“And if you accidentally set me on fire?”

“That won’t happen,” Dotti says. “Not unless I accidentally get angry at you. I think. I’m getting better at controlling my magic, and I haven’t had any accidents with Kayk, so you have nothing to be afraid of. And then, we’re gonna do some regular old warm-up campfire magic, so I can make Petra a nice campfire like she used to do for me when she shared her food. I want her to remember the good times we had.”

“I guess,” Landi says. “Dotti, you promise not to hurt me by accident?”

“I promise,” Dotti says emphatically. “You’re good at sensing magic, Landi. You always have been. I want your help on this.”

Landi’s caught off-guard at the unexpected praise, and she goes quiet for a moment before responding in a soft voice. “You really care that much about Petra, huh?”

“I do.”

I, meanwhile, am gathering up my things from the common room and am about to leave. Dotti waves at me before I head out to grab some take-out. “Oh! Serah?”

“Yes, Dotti?”

“Could you help me after Landi’s done?” Dotti asks. She rushes up to me and pulls out some sketches of human faces. “I… I’d like you to help me try and transform into these. You don’t have to do anything other than tell me how it looks. You’re a human, you know if I’m doing it right.”

“Of course,” I say. “I’d like to answer some letters first, if that’s all right.”

“How long will it take?”

“An hour or two so once I’m back. They need to go out tomorrow in order to make the post before we fly to the Church parish.”

“Oh,” Dotti says, crestfallen. “That’s okay. Um. I can wait until tomorrow.”

“Uh,” Landi flutters closer to Dotti and clears her throat. “I can help with that. It’s no big deal.”

“H-hey!” Dotti shrinks back and holds the sketches to her chest. “You’d just make fun of me for failing at shapeshifting. No thank you!”

“It means a lot to you, and Serah’s busy,” Landi says. “Look. You promised not to hurt me, so… what if for tonight, I promise I won’t make fun of you for messing up shapeshifting?”

Dotti looks at Landi, eyes full of suspicion, but she nods in agreement. “I might ask for help with hands and feet too. Those are hard.”

“Anything shapeshifting-related tonight, I won’t try to make you feel bad about it,” Landi says.



Do I detect a hint of, dare I say it, respect?


I head to grab the take-out and a small indulgence of shower soaps and lathers. Because I’m worth it.


The evening comes to a close. Everyone is tired: me from my workout and letter-writing, Dotti from magic practice, Landi from using her innate magic sense to try and help Dotti troubleshoot magical issues, and Ellie is already out cold; her nap has turned into a deep sleep.

Dotti’s proud of her progress in her “warmth” magic, but shapeshifting still eludes her. Landi seems a bit shaken from having to see a furless fox face shifting back and forth into… things, but she’s taking it in her stride (and a glass or two of wine).

We all crash into our beds, except for Landi, who’s given hers up to Ellie. I go to offer her mine, but before I can, Dotti’s patting her tails and nodding to Landi. She’s earned the right to a fluffy fox pillow, if only for tonight.

I’m proud of them.


I wake up the next day after Dotti, but before Landi and Ellie. Dotti’s left for her job with Kayk, and it looks like she’s placed Landi on her own pillow and pulled up the sheets just enough to keep her warm, though she probably didn’t need to do that, if I understand fairy force fields correctly. The gesture is still kind.

I quietly grab my shower supplies and hit the ladies’ washroom to indulge in what makes life worth living: fresh, piping-hot water that never runs out no matter how long I use it. I miss it so, so much when I’m out adventuring, and I’ll never take it for granted.

One long, slow, relaxing shower later, I’m freshened up and ready to start the day. I wrap myself up in a tower and open the stall door- and nearly run into the next person waiting for a turn.

Who is next in line for the shower?
1. Raelynn
2. Landi
3. Ellie
4. Apricot
5. Autumn
No. 1066995 ID: a7a180

No. 1066997 ID: e5709d

4. Apricot
No. 1067003 ID: 30b9f6

A for-once-a-blue-moon-rested and reviewing-her-life-decisions Ellie.
No. 1067004 ID: d94ecb

No. 1067005 ID: 4e5ce3

No. 1067009 ID: ba93b2

Ellie or Autumn
No. 1067010 ID: 12261a

No. 1067028 ID: c793d5
File 168843197772.png - (94.73KB , 857x1136 , LF7 17.png )

I hear voices on the other side of the stall door. Ellie, Autumn and Apricot are chatting outside my shower stall. Oh, dear. Did I take too long? Is there a line? Are the other stalls broken? I should apologize for taking so long.

Easy, Serah. They’re just talking about Fairy College and adventuring. You’re fine. Chin up. Nothing’s wrong, they’re just being social.

“You’re a sorority girl?” Autumn asks. “I never thought I’d have a chance to get in, but you were probably a slam dunk with your huge… uh… brain.” Autumn clears her throat. “Anyway, I bet you had way more fun in college than I did.”

“I didn’t party very much, at least not compared to Landi,” Ellie says. “College was a lot of hard work and stress, but my sorority sisters made it easier to handle. I wouldn’t have made it through my Pre-Law and Library Sciences double major without their help.”

“Wow! You’re so smart!” Apricot exclaims. “You get to use your big brain all day at the Greater Library. Not many parties over there! Are you here at the Guild to ask us to deliver a super-secret letter? Don’t worry, Autumn and I are on the job!”

“No, but thank you for the kind offer,” Ellie giggles. “I’m taking a vacation day today to help Landi for a bit. Just cleaning up a few issues in her contract, that’s all.”

“That doesn’t sound like a vacation.”

“It’s nothing,” Ellie says. “Waking up this morning, I just couldn’t bring myself to go in to work. I didn’t realize how awful I had been feeling until I got a good night’s sleep.”

I finish toweling myself off and wrap one tight around my body, and one around my hair. I open the stall door carefully; I feel twice as tall as Apricot and don’t want to bowl her over.

“Excuse me,” I say. “Pardon me.”

“Oh! Lady Kensington!” Apricot chirps, making zero effort to scoot out of my way. “I’d recognize you no matter how many tiny towels you wrap yourself in.”

“Apricot,” Autumn says, giving her a gentle nudge.

“Ah. Whoops.” Apricot complies and hops a little out of the way. “I just keep assuming humans can fly over me, you know? Hehe.”

“It’s no trouble. I’ll get out of you three’s way.” I grab the handle on the hallway door, but before I can open it, Autumn is fluttering toward me for some reason, flapping her tiny wings nervously.

“Um, actually, before you go…” the orange-tinted fairy says, “I just wanted you to know that, um, Taranis recommended that Apricot and I, um, volunteer to help. You know. If you ever need high-flying assistance.”

“Yeah” Apricot says. “I’m ready for whatever Lady Serah says I’m ready for. I’m practicing my aerials, just like Raelynn said I should. I’ll follow all your and Taranis’s orders!”

I blink. I’ve been proposed to in awkward situations by suitors, but never by adventuring party job-seekers, and especially not in the showers. This is all a little disorienting. My political instincts are telling me that Autumn and Apricot both want something from me, and that’s why they ambushed me like this, even if it’s fairly innocent.

Now that I think about it, by most accounts I’m an experienced adventurer, and I could protect and organize a fairly competent party, especially if Rae and Taranis are in it, if Dotti can pull off her more complex illusions and doesn’t run out of mana, and if Landi behaves herself. And of course there’s Kayk. But adding Autumn and Apricot is an unknown quantity, and I don’t have time to vet their credentials before I head to the Church parish. I need to spend the day with Rae and my bombs/potions in the alchemy lab, and also amend my contract with Landi with Ellie’s help.

What do I tell Autumn and Apricot? Do I bring them along on the search for Petra tomorrow?
No. 1067029 ID: a7a180

They come recommended by Rae, and this shouldn’t be too dangerous, so let them know you’ll talk to your party first but you could use another set of wings.
No. 1067031 ID: 4481aa

Regarding the Petra mission, don't ask her to come with you for that. It's kind of a personal journey, and as much as I like Autumn and Apricot they aren't really part of the team yet. They can be someday, but they aren't there yet.

Plus, Taranis still has his atonement to deal with, and forcing him to do so with his posse around might make things rougher on him. Don't forget that they're victims of his too. Not that they're aware.

As for what to tell them, say something nice that makes it clear you're open to them adventuring with you in the future. If they ask specifically about the current mission, just explain why you'd rather not bring them there. They'll probably understand.
No. 1067054 ID: e51896

Autumn and Apricot wants to go on an adventure, but I think with this particular journey, it might be a bit too personal for them to come along. so no on bringing them along. Too much of an unknown risk.

BUT, remember what Landi wanted to do yesterday? she wanted to go out adventuring to collect materials for our alchemy. How about today before our trip, and after we got the contract stuff done with Ellie, we send Apricot and Autumn on a little simple adventure to collect some alchemy materials, or wolf pelts with Landi (if she's not busy). Nothing too fantastic, just something for the rookies to do, and we'll pay them for whatever they bring back (including Landi since she wants money). sending Landi with them will also get Landi out there and doing stuff that isn't just lazing around. Might even get to know Autumn more. Though if she doesn't want to go, it just means Apricot and Autumn will get Landi's share of the money.

not sure if we'll have time to do alchemy stuff with the materials when they get back, but hey, we can do it later after the petra trip, and it gives them something to do at least. Just let them know you'll want whatever materials the come back with by the evening, or night.
No. 1067056 ID: e51896

Of course, if Landi doesn't want to go, we can send Apricot and Autumn on their adventure before we work on the contract with Ellie and Landi instead of after since Landi won't be needed for their adventure. might be able to get the materials earlier that way.
No. 1067059 ID: eb97c2
File 168845332368.png - (15.19KB , 548x672 , LF7 18.png )

I appreciate help, especially when it’s recommended by a trusted source.

Autumn and Apricot were recommended by Taranis.

I am circumspect in this matter.

“I thank you for your offer of aid,” I say. “I believe Ellie already brought up my previous engagement. But when I am not so busy, please bring it to my attention then. Perhaps a few days from now? I have a few ideas we could discuss, if you’re open to them.”

“Oh,” Apricot says, slightly crestfallen. “You don’t want me to come along on the trip tomorrow. Okay. Is it because Rae thinks I’m not good enough?”

“Taranis told us,” Autumn sighs. “Apricot, don’t be upset. Lady Kensington is being very kind.”

I don’t know Rae’s reservations about these two, but it’s hard to imagine anyone measuring up to her standards. I don’t even think I do, to be honest, especially with the way I’ve been slacking off on working out. But Apricot and Autumn don’t need to know that. What I can do, however, is measure their abilities against my own metrics, as well as solve a few ingredient shortages since Landi got all of my most powerful bombs confiscated.

“If you’re interested in proving yourself to Raelynn,” I say, “Then I do have a mission that would put your talents to good use. I need some specific reagents for my alchemical work today. It’s further into the woods than I can make on a day trip, but for you it’ll be much faster. Are you interested in demonstrating to Rae that you have a keen eye for specific minerals, plants and fungi on a tight schedule?”

“Yes!” Apricot says. “Which ones?”

“The list is on a sheet of red paper at the very top of the alchemical lab’s bulletin board, titled ‘Biocatalysts and heterogeneous catalysts of Minga’s forests.’ Please hunt for at least the quantities specified next to the circled items. I’ll pay a premium over market rate for the items correlated with the expediency of your delivery.”

“You got it!” Apricot says. “Autumn won’t forget!” Sure enough, Autumn has already pulled a sheet of note paper out of her inventory and written down the instructions. “Anything else?”

I pause. Months ago, a Spirit of Bloodshed nearly killed Landi while we were on a similar mission. The Guild has been paid to patrol for similar threats, and we’re fairly confident that there’s nothing so dangerous in the area I’m sending Autumn and Apricot to, but still… I’d feel slightly better if I had some kind of supervisor, or security policy, to watch over these two and report back how well they did, and save them from danger in case something goes wrong.

Do I take steps to supervise Apricot and Autumn and/or keep them safe somehow? I can’t send Rae, as she’s going to be in the lab with me, and Dotti has work to do with Kayk, then preparations for the trip once she’s done with that.

1. No, it’s a reasonable risk to send them by themselves.
2. Send Taranis. Keen eyes and distract enemies and use lightning in case of danger. Downside: he seems busy at the moment. What might I be keeping him from? I’m not sure.
3. Send Landi. Will teach her a little bit of responsibility, and she can call on her most powerful Djinn summon (“Nancy Clarice”) if things are truly dire. Downside: I’ll have to wait for her to come back in order to amend the contract.
4. Other: Suggest an alternative idea.
No. 1067060 ID: a7a180

Send Taranis. Business before pleasure, if he recommended them then he should be willing to back up that endorsement.
No. 1067061 ID: 6a3dec


A couple other upsides to this: it has the benefits to have serah practice some patience. The contract fixing can wait, serah had this contract as it was for a long time anyways, whats a few hours more? It also give Ellie a bit of time to relax and enjoy her day off until Landi comes back later.
No. 1067063 ID: 273c18

3. The contract isn't time sensitive, since you only really have to worry about it when Landi comes with you on a shopping trip.
Landi almost died from the last spirit; is she confident she can avoid getting caught again and/or detect one before it's too late? Or if she gets caught, can she call a djinn while being grabbed?
No. 1067068 ID: 12b116

send Taranis, he's probably getting into trouble anyway
No. 1067086 ID: b6ec4d

Send Landi. You may not be able to get the contract sorted until later, but the worst parts of it aren't an issue if Landi isn't with you. Let Taranis keep his privacy about his atonement for now, and give Landi a chance to go on a small little quest. Possibly one that she could be compensated for, so that she can start sending cash to the Marquess?
No. 1067087 ID: cd282a

Taranis, we need landi for our own purposes and we can trust the bird more to do his job. It also gives us a reason to return to that discussion with Rae about partner problems and keeping them under control.
No. 1067092 ID: 40d9d7

This mission is for the birds. Taranis!
No. 1067094 ID: 4ec27b
File 168851024790.png - (9.33KB , 311x431 , LF7 19.png )

I have difficulty picking my preferred supervisor (and security policy) for Apricot and Autumn. Taranis is the one who recommended they ask me for help, so he should be expecting to vouch for them. Plus, Raelynn seems worried about what he’s been up to. Idle wings are the devil’s workshop, and keeping him occupied with this could ease Rae’s mind. On the other hand, I already know he can get along with the Wing-kin Apricot and fairy Autumn, so as far as a trial run for new party members goes, it wouldn’t do much good there.

The alternative is to send Landi. She’s small enough to ride along with Autumn however Apricot carries her, so that’s a bonus. She would also get a much better sense of what kind of people those two are, and would be a good way to figure out how serious they are at adventuring and if they can get along with her. If their plant-and-reagent mission is delayed or slowed down thanks to Landi talking all the time, then maybe they wouldn’t be a good fit for the more serious Raelynn. Party dynamics are important. I’d also be willing to pay Landi for the trouble, since she’s not working within the Party on this mission. However, the deciding factor is going to have to be whether Ellie is willing to wait around for Landi to come back later today. I don’t want to keep Ellie waiting.

“Ellie,” I ask, “Landi has been meaning to go out adventuring. I think this is a good opportunity for Autumn, Apricot and her. However, we have someone else who can help in her stead if you need to be somewhere today.”

“It’s no trouble,” Ellie says. “I can relax. Do you know where there is any good rooibos tea?”

“I do,” I say, “There’s a cat café that Raelynn enjoys with a nice selection.”

“Cat… café?” Ellie asks.

“You drink stuff and pet cats for as long as you want!” Apricot chirps.

“They play nice with fairies too. They’re very calm,” Autumn adds. “I can say from personal experience.”

Ellie is sold. With that, I tell Apricot and Autumn to meet up with Landi once they’re prepared to head out, and finally head back to get dressed. Landi is stirring, and once she wakes, I fill her in on the mission. She’s all over it, especially when she hears I’ll pay toward her restitution. Overall, a good start to the morning.

After breakfast with Archibeard reading the morning’s news and letters, I join Raelynn in the Alchemist’s Lab. I tell Archibeard to leave the lab to just the two of us, since Rae will need to be relaxed and I don’t want her strung out over the floating skull. Plus, I can tell she appreciates the privacy. We’ll need to draw some blood and take a few baseline measurements to get the mutagen dosage right, so I can tell she appreciates the privacy. I get everything set up while Rae tries her best to relax.

“Have you worked on any mutagens lately?” Rae asks.

“Yes, actually,” I say. “With Kayk’s help, I developed a Concoction… uh, a mixture of mutagens with my Jotund’s Might and a modification of Dragon Armor. I keep the strength, frost resistance and endurance of my Jotund mutagen, but my blood now has a degree of rapid healing and self-cauterization of wounds. If Landi were to try drawing on my core mana, she could do so at a modest speed theoretically indefinitely.”
“Infinite mana for Landi and quick healing for you? Useful,” Rae says. “But wouldn’t you want some dragonscale armor from the mutagen?”

“I could,” I say, “I have another project to help with that. And, um, just like you don’t want cat ears, I like my silky smooth skin the way it is.”

“And being tall,” Rae says, and I think I can detect the barest a hint of a playful note in her voice.

“And being tall,” I giggle. “I’ve gotten used to it. It’s fun to see the looks on my suitors’ faces; they never know how to handle tall girls.”

“Harder to hide like that. I’ll stick with this Greater Feline Grace you promised me.” Rae rolls up her sleeve and presents her arm. “When do we start?”

“Not for a bit,” I say. “You can have a seat over there, by the armoire.”

“Armoire?” Rae pauses. “Why is there…”

“Have a look!”

Rae opens the doors and sees my SECRET PROJECT. I clap my hands in delight. “Isn’t it wonderful? It’s a set of full plate armor forged using Kayk’s dragonfire!”

“Really?” Rae takes a moment to admire the sheen. “This is high-quality metal. Have you tested it?”

“Not yet,” I say. “Um, I actually wanted to get your opinion on something. I have the option to keep the armor as it is, or I can improve it even further. Right now, it’s strong enough to deflect all mortal-forged steel, is resistant to magic, and even some divine-blessed weapons. However…”

Rae raises her eyebrow.

“If we were to do another round of tempering, use Kayk’s fire one more time, and then quench it in a special liquid, it would be quite possibly the best defense in centuries. It would even let me stand up to dragonfire.”

“There’s only one thing I know of that resists dragonfire, and that’s other dragons,” Rae says. “Serah, are you thinking of quenching your armor in dragon blood?”

“I haven’t brought up the idea to her,” I say, slightly ashamed. “We’d need quite a lot of it. She’d need to transform into her full size, and the process wouldn’t be pleasant for her. But the results…”

“I see,” Rae says. “Serah, this is your life we’re talking about. Don’t make any compromises.”

I’m not sure I agree with her. The armor is very, very good as it is, and I don’t want to make this request of Kayk. Odds are it’s going to be painful.

Is Rae right? Should I ask Kayk to be my blood donor, or is this going too far?
No. 1067096 ID: e51896

hold up, I don't think there is a need to do that. There hasn't been much dragon attacks for a long while, and I don't think Mai would appreciate us making armor against dragons, plus you're going a bit overboard overworking yourself with minor details, it's no wonder why you've been so stressed. You already have really good armor right here, and you got a lot of other stuff to do. It's good enough the way it is now.
It's not like Rae's bro is going to form a pact with a dragon or anything.

Plus we already asked a lot from Kayk, and she is stressed out with other things like her bakery. Let's just leave her alone for now. we can work on it another time when she is more financially stable, and we got other priorities done.
No. 1067097 ID: 08771b

I thought Taranis won the vote
No. 1067098 ID: 156aa1

Almost too far. You’d have to owe Kayk a massive favor - or many many smaller ones. Backrubs. Gold. Something. This is beyond calling on just the aid of a friend. A nearly priceless service, no? As her friend you -should- hesitate to ask. But you can mention it, and prepare some initial offers.

Not to mention to get Kayk on board you’d want an explanation for why you’d be worthy of such a favor, given such a potent defense could always later fall into the wrong hands and be used against her or her kind. Saving your life is good, but it may be arrogant to presume that’s good enough a reason for a person who may last long beyond your ability to wear this armor and may one day come to have to face it themselves. Hopefully not, but it seems like something to think of.

Hah, maybe say beyond the added safety you might get drafted into a (fae) war someday and you wanna be extra prepared. Iot if you really want the added protection, even st a cost, you could offer that she’ll own it - you’re just renting it for the rest of your career.
No. 1067099 ID: d983ee

You know, I think that’s a bit overkill on defense. However, out of curiosity, what’s the value of her loan from you versus the estimated value of the blood you’d need?
No. 1067100 ID: 273c18

Going too far, I think. The armor would become a threat to her family, if it fell into the wrong hands.
No. 1067116 ID: 724c3e

Little point in paying for second-rate defense because dying would render the money saved useless. Still, this is the sort of stuff people would kill you while you sleep just to steal. Perhaps investing in safeguards for the armor *might* be enough to get Kayk's approval.
No. 1067117 ID: 4481aa

It would be perfectly appropriate to ask, so long as you would be fine compensating her appropriately, and make it totally clear that she can deny your request, and that it's fine if she does.

The Terrorscales aren't the only dragons out there. Having a set of armor that can resist dragonflame is not an outright insult to their species, just as having armor that can resist a punch isn't an insult to any race with hands.

Rae has the ultimate point here though: This is your life. You have the capability to craft armor that can protect you from yet more threats, and all it would take is the cooperation of someone you are close with. Would you seriously leave yourself more vulnerable than necessary just to avoid seeming impolite? If Kayk rejects your request, then fine. That's different, that is a matter of respecting her wishes, and you have no moral ground to reject those against such a hypothetical threat as some dragon someday in the future you might fight.

You have the ability to make it, you have the means to compensate Kayk for her contribution, and it wouldn't even really be that hard or take up so much of your time as to be unworth it. You should ask Kayk, end of story. If she finds it unreasonable to even ask, then apologize and promise not to bring it up again.
No. 1067147 ID: 106bc5

Asking a dragon to donate a pool of their own blood is a big ask. In a sense, it’s an extremely intimate ask of Kayk.

How much loyalty do dragons have to one another? Is there a racial bond in the way that elves are culturally very tight knit? Would asking Kayk to contribute to this land her branded as a sort of race traitor?

There is another question of what alternatives could there be? Is it possible to leave the armor as it is and somehow temporarily imbue it with heightened protection against dragons as may be needed? Why the focus on dragons, anyway? There are myriad monsters out there. How much good would Kayak’s contribution offer as a means of standing up to a troll witch doctor, or a lich’s death magic, or the digestive acid of a massive burrowing worm, or really anything that isn’t a fire breathing dragon? We can’t allow the earlier scare to create a fixation in specializing our defenses!

There is a wisdom in realizing that something is good enough. Over-investment means something is going to be lacking, somewhere. We can plug holes by other means, built-ins and passive defenses can only carry us so far.
No. 1067151 ID: 630fc7

How flexible is your armor fit in case of your jotund getting mightier?
No. 1067152 ID: e5709d

Worst-case scenario, you're going to go up against soul-devouring demons and an elven battlelord who is as skilled as he is insane. You need to ask yourself if this overpowered heavy armor is really the right equipment for the mission, but if it is, then go for it.
No. 1067155 ID: 8f9bc4

Perhaps ask Kayk if she thinks the armor is strong enough to against soul-devouring demons and an elven battlelord who is as skilled as he is insane. Then let her decide to use her blood or not. It might also be wise to promise her the armor, after said battlelord is dealt with, so she can arm her own allies with it in the future.

Or foolish. Just a thought.
No. 1067177 ID: b57fea

I mean... as long as you're not FORCING or COERCING her into a blood donation I don't see a problem with asking or paying her for her blood.
No. 1067193 ID: dd3fe0


See, this is why I will always maintain thst armors like gambeson (the type that's armor in it's own right, not the underarmor kind), and brigandine, are some of the best adventuring armor. You want something that's cloth and bendable and flexible and not overly heavy or pinchy. Then it's just a matter of keeping the stuff clean and cool.
No. 1067415 ID: 7e54c6
File 168884332825.png - (47.17KB , 258x239 , LF7 20.png )

I have to consider all the effects of what might actually happen if Kayk and I (and the skilled blacksmith I’ve sworn to secrecy). Though if I want to be entirely secure in my secrecy, I would also probably need to pay the blacksmith to accept being mind-wiped by Dotti. Hmm.

Then there’s the matter of what I could realistically expect to compensate Kayk for. The fire-tempered armor she’s already helped me with was out of gratitude for helping her get through her first few months on the job, but blood-quenched armor would be another matter entirely. If it were able to be valued (which it can’t), it would be worth a real, honest ransom. Not a king’s ransom, but a high-ranking noble’s. Something that would really, truly strain the amount of gold they would have on hand. Even that wouldn’t be enough to compensate Kayk for it, since this isn’t honestly something that can be assigned a value. Any amount I would offer her could just be matched by someone with more resources than me. Needless to say, her loan is a pittance compared to this. It would behoove me have to grant Kayk not one boon, but several, if we were to do this.

Practically speaking, if I make blood-quenched armor, it will probably outlive me. Even when I’m alive, it’ll be a massive boost to my reputation if the secret gets out that I have a set. No one has gotten a dragon to agree to make this kind of armor in… I want to say five or six hundred years? I’m not sure exactly how long it’s been, but there’s a very good reason dragons don’t volunteer: it hurts. A lot.

Additionally, the dragon donating the blood has to be the one breathing the flame, otherwise the blood and metal won’t bond properly; the blood would burn into acrid smoke instead of bond with the armor. A dragon’s own fire and blood don’t burn each other.

As the armor is specifically known to aid in killing dragons, it’s a difficult subject to bring up to one. Dragons as a larger society don’t have much loyalty to one another, but the very existence of blood-quenched armor might disturb and/or disgust them, just as armor soaked in human blood might do for us.

The benefits of such armor, though… I don’t even know all the properties that dragon blood-quenched armor has. Granting its wearer incredible resistance against dragonfire is just the most obvious. Would arcane spells rebound against my attackers? Would a bolt of lightning empower me? I don’t know. No one alive knows, except for the most long-lived elves. Perhaps a gods or goddess knows, but they’re not in the habit of giving direct answers, especially not to nosy alchemists like me.

There are some responsibilities worth taking on, and some not. I’m not sure I have the resources to even defend a treasure this valuable; Perhaps at Kensington Keep it might be safe for a time, but this is the kind of treasure that thieves plot in the dark and form crews to steal. I have to be realistic in how long I could keep it in a vault without it disappearing. I’m not optimistic, even if I were to devote significant resources to keeping it guarded. Some thieves are incredibly resourceful.

If I give the armor to Kayk, it would be effectively giving her a real, valuable hoard, not just lacy stockings and sweaters. Only her mom, Mai, would be able to reliably keep the armor safe, and I’m not sure she would want something literally coated in her daughter’s blood. Or maybe Mai would want the armor in her hoard, but not for reasons I’d like. Given her personality and protectiveness, it’s more than likely she’d fly into a rage if she learned about its existence, and come to take it from me herself.

Do I expect to face up against dragons, divine champions and enemies that could only be stopped by armor of this quality? Is the step up from dragon fire-tempered metal to dragon blood-tempered metal worth the attention and risk? More importantly, is it worth the pain it is guaranteed to cause Kayk?

No. I won’t raise the question with Kayk. Not now, at least. The armor is excellent defense as-is, and Kayk’s dragonfire has already tempered it once. I can always ask her to repeat the process with potentially blood-quenching if I need a defense that hasn’t been seen in centuries. There’s no time limit, and the armor is flexible and modular enough that if I get stronger muscles or grow slightly taller I can adjust it. Even if I were to shrink down to my original size, I could remove a few plates and connectors, tighten some straps and still have it work.

I realize I’ve been deep in thought for almost a minute. Rae hasn’t said a word. Sometimes I forget how accommodating she is of contemplation.

“I’ll consider upgrading the armor, but it’s very, very good as-is,” I say, noncommittal.

“If you say so,” Rae shrugs, and her hand brushes over the short sword on her hip absentmindedly. “You might be surprised what some weapons can cut through. Be careful.”

Rae thinks she’s being subtle. It’s kind of cute how cocky she gets sometimes without knowing it.

“I will,” I say. “Now, let’s get you acclimated to the new mutagen. I have a few flasks brewing items you’ll need to imbibe that set your essentia at a certain baseline so we don’t change anything that doesn’t need changing. When this is ready, drink it, then this, then wait thirty minutes or so and tell me how you’re feeling. Did you bring a book?”

Rae holds up the just-released volume of My Prideful Protector.

“Very nice,” I giggle. “Is it getting good yet?”

Rae nods.

While Rae’s mutagen is brewing, I can also work on some bombs. Most of my good ones were confiscated.

Which bombs do I work on today, that I can bring along on my trip tomorrow? I have time to make four.

- Gravity Bomb
- Greater Flashbang Bomb
- Greater Elemental Bomb
- Smoke Bomb (I can make three of these in the time it takes for me to make one of the others)
- AoE Sticky Bomb (Makes things sticky; worked on Gecko)
- AoE Solvent Bomb (Doesn’t require direct hit to work)
- Experimental Bomb (Suggest a bomb to have fun with!)
No. 1067416 ID: be9ad1

Gravity Bomb (a must)
AoE Solvent bomb (also a must)

Im fine with anything else as long those are made. But here are a couple more i want

Greater Flashbang Bomb
Experimental Bomb (got two ideas for this:
one idea: a tickle bomb, kinda like a smoke bomb, but when it explodes smoke, the smoke tickes whoever is in radius making them laugh
Second idea: night-night bomb, puts anyone in radius of the bomb into an 8 hour sleep. Makes them well rested when they awaken.)
No. 1067418 ID: 4481aa

-Gravity Bomb (Too cool to not have at least one of)
-AoE Sticky Bomb (Very effective, very worth having)
-AoE Solvent Bomb (Effective against well-armored opponents)

And then for an Experimental Bomb idea, I'll go with a simple one: How about a Smoke Bomb that's also a Flashbang? Blind the enemy with the flash, and the smoke'll make it harder for them to recover and find where you went. The ultimate weapon in terms of visual impairment mid-battle.
No. 1067424 ID: a7a180

-Sticky bomb
-gravity bomb
And some experimental bombs. Something with Landi's dust, and one that shrinks enemies too tiny to use their equipment. A mini-nuke, if you will.
No. 1067428 ID: 9a2966

Shrink Bomb idea sounds intriguing, actually. Make two.

Might even have practical applications if you ever travel to the Fae realm to visit Landi's place and the duration is good. Something tells me fae housing is going to be appropriately mini-sized. Then again, if you are owed a visit, the shrink spell might be on the house, so to speak.
No. 1069801 ID: 7cf2dc
File 169127566846.png - (3.80KB , 246x380 , LF7 21.png )

I decide to spend some time replenishing my bomb stock. At the Terrorscale lair, Landi proved in her fight with Gecko that sticky bombs are fantastically effective against unprepared foes. Dotti also proved that a solvent bomb can be great at de-escalating a fight… also against Gecko. I should thank her for such willingness to volunteer as a test subject.

Upon further consideration, the bombs appear to have their greatest effect are ones that defuse confrontations, pun intended. Those two bombs would be excellent if improved to take multiple combatants out of a fight via are of effect. If I can guarantee their effects will be used on all enemy combatants at once, that single bomb could swing the fight in my favor, sticky or solvent. Maybe I could come up with a third bomb that would also end a fight in a single blast… maybe something to shrink my enemies down so they’d have no chance to fight back. I’d need some specialized ingredients for that. Something that doesn’t entirely follow the laws of alchemy and instead reacts depending on the user’s intent, like Landi’s dust. I’ll have to ask her about that when she gets back from her trip with Autumn and Apricot.

With all that, I’d have an impressive arsenal of bombs. To maximize their effects on as many targets as possible, I’d like to have some way of making sure there are a high concentration of foes in range of the blast. Now, what do I know of that can draw all enemy combatants toward the center of an area?

A gravity bomb. The most difficult of all bombs I know.

Rae is looking at me over the top of her book. Is she judging me? What if I fail? What if I blow myself up in front of her? What if I blow both of us up?

I’ve done it once before, in the weeks after I came back from facing down a full-sized mommy dragon. The most dangerous kind! I can make a simple gravity bomb again. I know it!

A few hours and many careful measurements and combinations later I’ve set everything up. The crucible is set. Readings are stable. The essences are coalescing into something stable enough to carry in a hardened projectile flask. Everything is stable. Where did the time go?

Did I do it? Not yet. But the hard part is over.

I take a step back and give a big sigh of relief. Rae doesn’t say anything. That’s a good thing. Silence is approval from her. It means everything is normal. I look over to her mutagen, and it’s also stabilized in the meantime. I pull out a syringe to administer the dose. Basic mutagens can be drunk, but I’m taking no chances here with Rae’s stomach acids. We’re going to make sure this goes right into her bloodstream to have the desired effects.

“Do you feel ready?” I ask Rae. “If you’re feeling queasy from any of the things I gave you or at the sight of needles, we can wait a bit.”

“I’m ready,” Rae says. “But why is it green? The mutagen started out clear. Cats aren’t green.”

“Would you feel better if I was injecting you with something cat-colored? Like brown with spots?”

“Point taken.”

I draw out the mutagen and have Rae lay out her arm for a quick, tight bandage and bind to make the injection go smoothly. I give it a quick disinfecting swab.

“On three. One, two…”


Rae doesn’t even flinch.

It’s done. I draw out the syringe and put pressure on her arm, and tie off the wrap.

“It tingles,” Rae says. “Is it supposed to do that? My first mutagen didn’t.”

“Yes, it’s fine,” I say. “You’ll feel feverish for about two days as the mutagen helps add a few connections in your nervous system, enhance some balance, build up a few twitch muscles, enhance-“

“Whoa,” Rae says, and her face is already flush. “Okay, I’m feeling it now. This is a little stressful.”

“Go ahead and lie back. I’ll check your vitals and see to it that everything is within the expected range. It won’t be fun, but we both expected that. If you don’t have anything serious happen in the next twenty minutes, you can go upstairs and start to sleep it off.”

Rae nods. She lies down on the padded blankets we prepared and dabs her forehead with a wet cloth.

As if on cue, there’s a knock on the lab door. I crack it open and see Landi, Autumn and Apricot proudly perched on the other side.

“Express delivery!” Apricot chirps. “Right on schedule!”

“I showed them where I almost died,” Landi says proudly.

“We appreciate the tips on, um, not dying,” Autumn says. “I didn’t know healing potions don’t always work on us fairies. Thank you for the tip.”

“I know lots of things that don’t work!” Landi proclaims. “Learn from me, grasshopper, and you’ll go far. Experience is the best teacher, which makes me your professor.”

“It does, I guess,” Autumn says.

I roll my eyes and motion for the fairies to place the fresh reagents on a table inside the lab, asking that they keep their voices down so Rae can relax. Landi nods and agrees to keep quiet for as long as she can.

“Here ya go!” she announces, piling the reagens out of her portal, with Autumn doing the same. She looks at Autumn’s portal to her inventory magic and sticks her head inside. “Ha! Mine’s bigger.”

“Ah!” Autumn gasps. “P-please don’t stick living material inside my portal.”

“Lewd!” Landi giggles, pulling her head out. “I’m fine. It just drains your Dust faster, is all.”

“Speaking of dust,” I ask Landi, “Could I ask for your assistance with a special type of bomb I’m making?”
No. 1069802 ID: 7cf2dc
File 169127569179.png - (18.59KB , 500x600 , LF7 22.png )

“What’cha got in mind? My Dust is high-grade, top-of-the-line stuff. I don’t just give it to any project, you know.”

“It’s a shrink bomb, and it-“

“YOU GOT A DEAL!” Landi screams. “Ha! Justice for big people! Welcome to MY world!”

Rae groans from the corner of the room, plugging her ears.

I shush Landi, and she agrees to let me collect as much dust as I can for the Shrink Bomb, and we get to work. I try not to think too hard on how Landi presented herself to let me collect her Dust. It’s not dignified.

Autumn averts her eyes. Apricot does not.

“Shoo!” Landi says. “What are you still doing here? Go on, get out! Give a girl some privacy.”

I hand Autumn and Apricot their payment and they politely leave. Landi gets a cut of the pay, too, and I set that aside for her restitution to Marquess Mallory. Now, we get to work.

Landi has become dustbusted.

I remind Landi that I have a low-grade continuous healing effect because of my enhanced mutagen, and she can replenish her dust at a fair rate if she doesn’t draw too much of my core mana to overcome my healing factor. She agrees to test it out over the next few minutes, and I can already feel the contract sapping a bit of my strength. Despite Landi’s willingness to pitch in, it’s clear she hates running out of Dust.

I tend to Rae for the next twenty minutes and give her the all-clear to sleep it off. I expect the ride on Kayk’s back tomorrow will be miserable for her, but… well… she’s a tough girl.

Once we’re done setting up the reagents for the Shrink Bomb and using Apricot and Autumn’s fungi and reagents to make some basic potions and elixirs so simple I could do it in my sleep. While those are brewing, I even sneak in a distillation of Magic Missile Barrage with my fresh reagents. Before I know it, the afternoon is well underway. Landi is topped off on Dust again, and she’s more comfortable with knowing how much of my core mana she can draw on without overcoming my healing factor. It’s a small rate of replenishment, but infinite for her purposes as long as she takes it slow.

Landi is glowy again. Hooray!

With that, I finally step out of the lab. All I’ve had today is breakfast and some light snacks. I’m hungry, and it’s far past lunch. I’ve forgotten to eat again.

Landi and I decide to grab a quick bite from the Guild cafeteria, and we bump into Ellie and Dotti. Dotti exclaims that she’s been showing Ellie around Minga, and Ellie is positively radiant. She’s had an exceptionally good day. Landi, however, is dour.

“Ellie looks like she’s had a lot of fun,” Landi sighs. “Without me.”

“Well, you and worked hard together,” I remind Landi. “I’m thankful for all your help, Landi.”

“I missed the chance to hang out with one of my sorority sisters. My little sister, practically. We never do that anymore, and now Dotti’s the one who swoops in and gets it. I miss Ellie, Serah. I miss her and she’s right in front of me.”

Despite all the progress we’ve made today, Landi really does prioritize having fun with her friends over the actual, hard work she’s helped me with today. No matter how smug and satisfied she was helping Apricot and Autumn, no matter how hyped she was to help make a shrink bomb, she’s more upset over losing out on time to hang out with her sorority sister.

I feel like I understand her a little more, now.

“We still get to have dinner with Ellie, and maybe she’ll spend the night again,” I say. “She’s a hard worker. Think of how proud she’ll be knowing you’re a hard worker now, too.”


“Ah… perhaps Ellie will want to come visit you more often now that she knows Dotti’s working hours, and that taking a day off her own job isn’t the end of the world?”


Landi is dealing with real issues right now, and I’m not sure I can solve them for her. I can, however, make her look better in front of her straight-laced friend, no matter how Landi feels about her use of time today.

Should I stroke Landi’s ego in front of Ellie and Dotti? This will have consequences.
1. Yes. Rate on a scale of one to three how strongly.
2. No, let Landi handle herself.
No. 1069804 ID: b8c59f

Yes, rank 2, we need to reward her enough for doing something productive, so she is more motivated in the future
No. 1069805 ID: c37138

A one should suffice.
Remember to test your concoctions before throwing them willy nilly! If Gecko’s not available, perhaps someone closer.
No. 1069807 ID: 273c18

No. 1069809 ID: 4481aa

Compliment her, and let's go with 2
No. 1069826 ID: 23d3b5
File 169134658484.png - (78.70KB , 759x405 , LF7 23.png )

If Landi’s biggest motivator is to have fun with her friends, then I’ll happily reward her for taking time off from that to help me. She’s earned some praise.

“Welcome back! You look like you’ve had a great day off,” I say to Ellie. “I apologize for not being able to join you and Dotti on the tour around Minga. Landi has been helping me with some very difficult work in the lab, and I couldn’t have done it without her.”

Dotti gapes.

“Really?” Ellie asks.

“Really,” I respond. “She went out and helped find most of the reagent I’m using to help keep us safe. It was a high-risk job.”

“No risk, no reward!” Landi beams. “All in a day’s work!”

“Wow,” Ellie breathes. “Are you tired? We can wait on amending your contract if you’re exhausted.”

“I am a fountain of hype and health!” Landi declares. “Let’s do it, Ells!”

Landi’s ego has recovered from its beaten-down, deflated state.

Over a late lunch/dinner (lunner?) Ellie, Landi and I amend the contract as we discussed, and put pen to paper. No more striptease clause! Thank goodness that sword hanging over my head is gone.

Ellie says she’ll hang around for the rest of the evening, but she wants to get back to work in the morning. I have to get back to the lab and finish my bombs, potions and elixirs, and I should check on Rae too, plus I need to pack for the trip tomorrow.

Have we planned the right outfits for our arrival at the Church of Censorship’s parish? I could wear my full armor, but I don’t expect a fight. I don’t want to ride in on a dragon while dressed for war. I also have to consider that the parish isn’t a university; the university Censors are more open-minded than the self-sufficient farming parish we’re about to visit. Maybe I should avoid cleavage?

Suggest any other outfits we should bring, and what to wear on arrival.

*Outfits marked by an asterisk are currently worn.

- Adventuring Corset & Skirt*
- Warhammer sling*
- Dragon-Tempered Armor (In Landi’s inventory)
- Formal Dress

- Is a Dragon*
- Sweater
- Skirt
- Formal Dress
- Stockings

- Polka-Dotted Pink Dress*

- Napkin Dress*
- Sewn Dress (The one I helped improve!)
- Party Dress

- Traveling Cloak & Winter Gear*
- Samhain*
- Bow & Quiver*
- Woodland Leaf Ghillie Armor
- Cake Dress (Kayk has smuggled this back into Landi’s inventory for some reason)
No. 1069828 ID: e51896


Remember this thing I made a few years back for paperdoll? https://questden.org/kusaba/questarch/res/974331.html#981287

lets wear that. It's going to get cold as we fly high in the sky on a dragon. It doesn't show cleavage and most of our body is covered to not show much skin to appease the censors, and we can unhood ourself to not look intimidating.

hmmm... should we ask Rae the idea of having some casual clothes to not intimidate anyone in the censors' territory? she probably doesn't want to wear the cake dress, but she might have to if they get too intimidated and threatened by Rae's armor... Maybe Priscilla has something Rae could wear?
No. 1069832 ID: e51896

Oh wait, I read it wrong. Rae's traveling cloak should be fine. I thought her traveling cloak was traveling armor, lol. no need to worry about asking her about wearing something else or asking Priscilla for some clothes

She just has to have Landi hold her weapons when we arrive.
No. 1069834 ID: ae227c

Serah: wear the warhammer sling and nothing but while riding Kayk.
No. 1069865 ID: a7a180

Serah in her formal dress, her weapons away.
Kayk: sweater, skirt & stockings. Cover up and keep a low profile.
Landi: Sewn dress, even if you think people can't see you, the clergy might.
Raelynn: Stay armed as is necessary for you to pull your duties, but wear something warm as winter clothes but as formal as a dress. Go goth Raelynn.
No. 1069950 ID: e5709d

Bikinis. Duh.
No. 1069957 ID: dd3fe0


This works
No. 1069961 ID: 4481aa


Mostly this, but Rae can stick to her winter gear and weapons I think.
No. 1070288 ID: 048f0e
File 169216035132.png - (25.27KB , 652x981 , LF7 24.png )

I could certainly wear my adventuring gear, but my plan tomorrow will be to put my most formal, most noble foot forward. I'll need to be cordial and charming, and I have just the dress for that. With my upgrade Jotund's Might, I'm immune to cold as well, so I don't have to worry about freezing on the ride over. Raelynn, however, will be suffering from a horrid case of Cat Mutagen, and she'll need all the warmth she can get. She'll bring her winter gear and any weapons she needs to feel comfortable and competent.

Landi and Kayk should dress their best as well. I'll ask Kayk to shapeshift out of dragon form and into something that will put the Censors at ease.

I don't feel the need to have my warhammer around my back when we arrive tomorrow. There shouldn't be a fight; the Censors may be hiding something, but they've operated this farming parish for decades without incident. And if there is, we have my own raw strength, Dotti's magic, Landi's summons and inventory (plus my bombs) and Rae's training to fall back on, even if Rae will largely be out of action. Kayk can shapeshift as long as she isn't indoors; getting squeezed could get painful for her if the building is sturdy.

I don't plan on sending word in advance that I'll be visiting the parish, but the Censors already know Kayk's silhouette. Ever since I started visiting their univiersities and other parishes, word's gotten around. I shouldn't cause a panic or incite a military response, so long as I don't ask Kayk to fly over any crowded markets or barracks.

Do I have any changes to make to my outfit and/or arrival plans for our trip tomorrow?
No. 1070289 ID: a7a180

Wear spats in case of wind.
Do a nice long flyover to scout the land beneath you.
No. 1070290 ID: e51896

For the outfit, wear a corset to please the censors, to compress the breasts.

or even better: maybe Landi has a bra that could portal your breasts to make you look a little flatter... a bra of holding if you will.
No. 1070317 ID: e5709d

Wear shorts and a sturdy bra underneath all that. And get a mask with breathing apparatus.

Barge in and draw a crowd on entry.
No. 1070318 ID: 4481aa


I'll add onto these outfit notes that you should pick a bra that won't have visible straps when paired with your dress' transparency.

As for the entrance, you'll be riding in on Kayk of course. Showing up on a dragon mount is already pretty cool, but you can make it even cooler if you stay modest about it. Cool things are cooler when they seem effortless.
No. 1070362 ID: 1446bc
File 169233530363.png - (48.14KB , 480x687 , LF7 25.png )

A sturdy bra is always a good idea. The Censors aren’t very fond of ladies who are proud of their figures. Maybe I should have Landi help bring me down a size or two with a trick she’s learned with her space-time godmother enchantments? No, the Bra of Holding Landi made for me would show through the transparent section of my dress. I’ll stick with a heavy-duty strapless bra underneath.

As for other undergarments, I don’t like pants. I am a Lady, and I know how to keep my skirts decent. Shorts are unstylish, overheating and unbecoming, plus a pain during bathroom breaks. Still, I am about to fly in on a dragon, to visit rural Censors, who are doubtless going to be paying a lot of attention as I make my grand entrance… perhaps a bit of over-preparedness in that department may pay off. Just in case I need to be a little more flexible in dismounting Kayk than expected. Reluctantly, I add a pair of tight spats under my dress. Well, at least they’ll hopefully prevent Landi from swapping out my panties to make me “luckier.” I did not appreciate her taking the initiative like that at Marquess Mallory’s social.

Landi, Dotti and I say goodbye to Ellie, and Landi sends her back home with a hug and reversal of her summoning. We all head to bed early to be well-rested for the trip tomorrow.


The next morning, I hop out of bed, shower up and put on my dress. It’s a little tighter around the bust and waist than I expected, but otherwise suitable. I really need to get back on track with my workout regimen, but at least I look great and the cleavage cover-up is both tasteful and allowable by rural Censor standards. It’s a nod to their sense of modesty while also reminding them that I’m not afraid to push those Censors out of their comfort zone. Let them stare; I’ll take any advantage I can get when trying to wring information out of them.

I head down for breakfast to find Dotti is already in the common area. Landi is lagging behind, and Rae joins us, looking ghastly. I fetch her some herbal tea, and she holds out a large cylindrical flask-like thing that will keep it warm during the trip. I fill the whole thing.

“Are you sure you want to come along?” I ask.

Rae nods.

I won’t turn her down, but she’s going to be absolutely miserable. Poor girl. I’ll have her ride Kayk with her arms around my waist, and Dotti behind, for maximum protection from wind in front and fox fluff behind. Thin air hasn’t been a problem in our rides before, not even when leaving the Terrorscale lair at high altitude; to be honest, I’m not sure Kayk has the strength to fly high enough where oxygen deprivation would be an issue. Not that I’d tell her that to her face.

Dotti is excited to get going. We’ve made several trips searching for Petra before, but this one has the highest chance of success so far. All the signs point to this Censor-run community. It’s remote, insular, and the refugees’ paths from the depopulation of the forest around where Dotti died has sent multiple waves of settlers in this direction after being passed on like hot potatoes.

However… it has been, at most, forty years since Dotti died. There’s a chance that Petra, if she survived the attack and her wounds (spiritual or physical) didn’t kill her then, Petra could still have passed away and now of old age, sickness, childbirth. If Petra was a teenager when she met Dotti, then she might even be a grandmother.

“Dotti?” I call out, and she scampers over to me. “Are you ready?”

“Yes!” she responds, pumping her arms. “This is it, isn’t it? Today’s the day! We’re going to find Petra, aren’t we?”

What do I say in response?
No. 1070364 ID: a7a180

I sure hope so.
No. 1070365 ID: b57fea

Well, its our best shot to find out about her, hopefully we find her at the same time but I can't promise that.
No. 1070366 ID: e51896

Don't lie to her and say "yes" since the disappointment will be very bad if it turns out she isn't there, and Dotti might not like us lying. But do tell her that the chances of her being here are the highest out of the previous places we checked, and very hopeful that we will see Petra there.

Let Dotti know that you've been really proud of her behavior, and you trust her that no matter what the Censors say or do that might make her angry, she will stay calm, and put her trust in you as you handle all the talking and possible arguments, like if they don't let you in initially for whatever reason or talk down at us for how we dress for whatever reason, or discriminate against her. You will handle everything as you have experience with negotiating.

What else... oh yeah! ask if she has her sketch book ready to show Petra her drawings!

I'd ask how her shapeshifting is going, but I wouldn't want to sour the mood if she didn't improve much since last time.
No. 1070370 ID: e5709d

"Make sure you decide what bust size you want to greet her with."
No. 1070417 ID: c49846
File 169247094469.png - (3.96KB , 300x242 , LF7 26.png )

I have to be careful how I respond to Dotti’s question. Today might end up being the best or worst day of Dotti’s afterlife. Or we might find nothing at all, and just keep searching for months more.

“Dotti,” I say, squatting down to look her in the eye. “On this trip, I don’t know who or what we’ll find. We’re going to meet with the Church of Censorship again, and this time they might not be so nice and open as they were at those universities. If we’re lucky, the Censors will know more about where those refugees might have gone after the fire. But no matter what we learn or what they say, we’re a step closer to finding Petra.”

Dotti’s excitement dims a bit. Was I too much of a downer? I’d better change the conversation.

“Are you bringing a sketchbook?” I ask. “You can show off your drawings when we get there.” Dotti smiles and whips out a bound pad filled with stills from her life: food, friends and even a few fairies. One even has Landi’s wing pattern. I’m proud of her. “Looks like you’re all set.”

I stand up and go to Raelynn. Landi flutters down the stairs groggily, bringing our party up to four. We’ll all walk to the park near Kayk’s bakery, where there’s enough space to meet Kayk and have her shapeshift without risk of damaging anyone’s livelihoods.

“Will Taranis be joining us?” I ask Rae.

“Yes. He’s doing penance.” Rae says, voice hoarse. She takes a sip of tea. “Sorry. Throat hurts.”

Rae’s throat hurts? I’m slightly concerned. The mutagen should have targeted her nervous system and musculature. What kind of side effects of a cat mutagen would affect her vocal cords?

Oh no. She’s not going to start purring, is she? How could I let that slip by my design? I’m a horrible alchemist.

No! Don’t think like that. Easy, Serah. It could be nothing. A common immune system reaction. Nothing bad. Nothing that would reflect poorly on me or make Rae hate me. Nothing at all.

“Penance?” I ask. “I didn’t know he was religious. Is he making amends for something he stole from the church you two have been visiting? Eirene’s? You don’t have to talk, just nod for yes, shake for no.”

Rae nods.

“What’s his penance? I haven’t seen him doing anything lately.”

“Spirits,” Rae says, adding honey to her tea. Given how much she hates sugar, she must really be hurting. Poor girl. “Resisting them. Something about parrots.”


Taranis’s arrival is announced by the fluttering of wings from an open guild window. He doesn’t look any more colorful than normal. What’s this about parrots?

Taranis is staring at me for some reason. I look down at my chest. Everything’s in place there, just as expected, so… Is it because of the gold in my new outfit?

Taranis’s penance is to resist and antagonize the SPIRITS who encouraged his bad behavior by only taking PARROTGON actions when you are around, which includes protecting the modesty of people nearby. What would you like to say to Taranis?
No. 1070419 ID: a7a180

Nothing would protect Rae's modesty more right now than to nestle under her arm and comforting her as she deals with the hangover from rewriting her genetic code.
No. 1070420 ID: 59962b

Thanks for the help, Taranis. We'll need someone to help protect everyone's modesty when we talk to the censors, who is ALL ABOUT modesty.
No. 1070421 ID: e5709d

You are a horrible person, Taranis. But this isn't a path you took by yourself. You followed your questionable duties and molded yourself after questionable parental figures. You are already a Parrotgon - of faithfully serving assholes.

Your penance is not just about making yourself a better person. It's about learning to let go from bad people you are legally incapable of making better.

And I say these things because this is also Raelynn's penance. She will need you now more than ever. She doesn't believe she can let go of her &!+(# of an 'All-Mother'.

Show her da wae.
No. 1070423 ID: 273c18

Hey Taranis you should inform Serah that her cleavage is too visible for a trip to a church.

Hey Serah would it really be so bad if Rae could purr? She won't be doing it very often that's for sure. Stand up to your fear and bring up the unlikely possibility in private.
No. 1070424 ID: 8f9bc4

Ohh if only they knew how little the SPIRITS encouraged his bad behavior... right well, for now Taranis gets to be a chaste, proper, unsuspected chest inspector.
No. 1070426 ID: dd3fe0


So. No more Wrengade actions, just Parrotgon ones. I believe that, long term, you can do a lot of the things you enjoyed, even from a Parrotgon context. Let me tell you a story about a great folk hero, one named Shepard, who is sometimes portrayed as male, sometimes as female, sometimes portrayed as a noble Parrotgon, sometimes as an independent Wrengade. They were a hero who traveled with many companions, and had many great adventures. But the exact adventures aren't important right now. What is important is, regardless of whether they were portrayed as a male, female, Parrotgon, or Wrengade, one thing is constant: they absolutely ended up having some VERY steamy romances with one or more of their companions! You can follow the path they blazed! But to do steamy stuff or mischievous stuff as a Parrotgon, you are going to have to learn to do something any intelligent Corvid worth their salt should know how to do, and do well:

You are going to need to learn to talk!

With speech, you can have both romance and deeper friendships with more types of beings! You can obtain that vital informed consent for lewd and sexual or even just mischievous activities! You can brainstorm a way to min-max and turn your skill tree magic thing into a positive sum game for all participants, so that the other participant would WANT to get in a mischief/prank/strip/etc. competition with you, because even if they lose, you both will still win at the end. And yes, even if the penance NOW is maintaining modesty, you can absolutely figure out a way to do this in a Parrotgon way -- to metaphorically BOTH have a collection of shiny edible delicious candies and also to eat a collection of shiny edible delicious candies!
No. 1070427 ID: 48d801

Hey Taranis, no hard feelings with us getting you in trouble... right?
No. 1070429 ID: c3a039
File 169248731448.png - (10.36KB , 500x500 , LF7 27.png )

Taranis looks at me for a moment, opens his beak as if he’s about to caw something to me. He stops short, though, instead choosing to flap over to Rae and nestle under her arm as a soft, feathered reassurance to the suffering elf.

Did he just give me a… salute?

What a weird bird.

Anyway… if my highly scientific calculations are right, we’ll need to spend two bathroom breaks’ worth of time flying on Kayk’s back. Always measure dragon trips in this unit of distance. It’s worth it. If I wasn’t prepared, it’d be murder on my hairstyle and muss up my dress something fierce. Fortunately, Kayk’s long neck is an excellent wind breaker and I have a fairy to cast a minor godmothering spell to keep my hair pretty and my dress from picking up burrs and from getting caught in Kayk’s dragon scales on my way down. Not that I’d ever slide down a dragon the wrong way. My riding poise and positioning is very Ladylike, and I’ll have no issues whatsoever making my dignified entrance.

I also have spats. Just in case. Even though they’re horrid.

“Everyone’s here,” I announce. “On to adventure!”

“Adventure!” Landi cheers.

“Adventure!” Dotti echoes.

Taranis gives a soft caw.

Rae nods.


Two bathroom breaks later…

I give Kayk’s neck scales a good three-fingernail tap, indicating we should fly slow our speed. We’re almost to our destination of Giornico, and I want to get a circling view.

“Are we there yet?” Dotti asks.

“That’s the valley,” I call back. “Between those mountains, it’s nestled in there. We’ll follow it to the narrowest point, where the river runs through.”

Kayk is a comfortable height above the ground, and a blessed benefit of the mountainous terrain is that the clouds form even lower than usual here. We can dance between them and avoid being spotted until we’re comfortable descending, and Kayk’s warm scales thankfully divert and repel the condensation when we do pass through the occasional cloud. Water doesn’t like dragons.

“Wait a minute. The fields,” I say as we get a glimpse of the farmland.

“What?” Landi asks. “Fantasizing about your dreamy Farm Boi?”

“No, I am NOT!” I shout back. “Can you see those square patterns of crops, hay and livestock? They’re using the antiquated open-field system, when they should be using the enclosure system. Enclosure dramatically increases crop yields, reduces fallow periods, and allows for greater control over what crops end up being produced, instead of dedicating so much land to common grazing areas. Unless… ah, I think I understand.”

“I take it back,” Landi says. “You’re fantasizing about and entire community of Farm Bois.”

“Hush, you! There are benefits to the open field system for small farmers, so long as there’s no exceptionally bad harvest years. If the Church subsidizes the parish during bad years and using it as subsistence farming during the good years… the might just be using this land to keep the people busy. This manor isn’t being run to make a profit. They’re doing it for other reasons.”

If the Church doesn’t care about money, then these farms are an excellent place to keep a lot of displaced refugees busy and fed for a long, long time.

But why?

We get a look at the center of the community. It’s a small village, but well-maintained.

“Hmm. Good. Not a cathedral, so there’s no bishop here,” I say. “So far, so good. A community this small will be presided over by a single priest. Maybe a decon to assist. But here… I’m not sure. There may be more to this valley than meets the eye.”

Choose our landing site.

1. Manor House: Lay administration of the parish. It’s a short, squat stone building, two stories high and made of stone. Large multipurpose rooms that function as courthouse, communal festive halls, and has no pretensions of nobility. If I were a Censor, this would be where I’d expect a noble to land their dragon.
2. Church: This is where the money went. A beautiful, multi-building campus of stone, with a recently-built belltower. If we land here, we’ll be doing the Censors a favor and acknowledging that they’re the ones in charge of the village.
3. Market: The mill, blacksmith and granary are centrally located between the fields nearest the river for convenience. I think I can see a freshwater well, too. This seems to function as the de facto town square, where there are no Censors or bureaucrats immediately at hand. There are a few children playing in the dirt, with their families chatting and eating lunch. If we want to make an impression with the locals, we’d land here.
4. Garrison: Far from the Manor House and Church complex, it’s situated at the top of the valley, with a clear view down. Anyone looking to enter or exit the valley must pass through the gatehouse on the only narrow road. If we want to follow proper protocol, we should technically get permission from the captain of the guard if I’m about to fly a dragon into the center of town. It would save them a headache and a spirited ride down the canyon, that’s for sure.
No. 1070431 ID: 4481aa

4, let's do things properly, as that might make the locals more willing to help us find the people we're looking for.
No. 1070432 ID: e51896

4. the Garrison. We are only guests here despite being a noble. It will be important to go through the proper procedures to show that you respect their rules and ways of life and doing things like everyone else.

plus they'll be able to do the proper security check to see if we're dressed appropriately, hold any weapons, and assure we aren't a danger. They might be able to help us get any issues situated if there's any problems. Better to be prepared than show up without understanding what they would want from guests.
No. 1070435 ID: a7a180

3. This is an excellent place to make a splash. The guards are expected to rush down to town, better to meet the people first before the soldiers.
No. 1070487 ID: e5709d

Always remember that at their most shallow, people will stoop to any low and use anyone for the sole purpose of obtaining these two things, in this specific order:
1) What They Love
2) Money

If the crops aren't turning a profit, then perhaps the product is the farmers. Keeping the poor at subsistence level for years tends to... ferment their minds. Perfect for communion conversion.
Or maybe some assdick who controls this branch of the church gets a kick out of watching farmers suffer, go insane, and turn into murderous hillbillies.

4. Show that you have authority and the rest of the populace will calm down at the sight of a giant F-3i with dual flamethrowers.
No. 1071223 ID: b4cdf8
File 169336696049.png - (44.79KB , 500x453 , LF7 28.png )

I tell Kayk to take us down toward the garrison and approach from the entry point. To make a good first impression, it helps to follow the rules.

Kayk flies low and slow, as gracefully as she can, swooping gently to alight on the hilly road leading up to the garrison. Two soldiers on the rooftop start shouting the moment we crest the hill. One of them dashes inside, hollering at the top of his lungs. The other just stares slack-jawed over the parapet.

“Is this a bad sign?” Kayk asks, worried.

“Let me slide down and do the talking. I’ll handle it.”

I make sure to slide down Kayk’s thigh at the correct angle to avoid getting my dress caught in her scales, and deftly land on my feet just as the garrison door bursts open.

“I don’t care if there’s a bloody dragon out there or not, you give it a wave with the Spirit-o-Meter before you say another word ta me!” roars a deep, angry voice from inside. “Father Forthill, Pastor Pryce and Mother Mabel will each take turns tannin’ your ruddy hide if you don’t use that gnome-tech we all paid through the nose for with all our stinkin’ tithes!”

A quivering soldier, knees knocking, stumbles out from the door holding a box and clearly wishing he hadn’t drawn the short straw.

“H-h-hail,” the soldier stammers. “Ah. I got ‘ta follow Sarge’s orders n’ see if your Ladyship’s ladies are hot or not.”

“Pardon?” I raise an eyebrow.

The guard waves a beeping box at Kayk. The needle twitches for a moment, but doesn’t go past the second marker, and settles down around the first.

“Dragon’s cool,” he says, moving on to Rae and Taranis, who also apparently pass his test.

He moves in front of me, and the beeping slightly picks up in intensity.

“Got a warm one,” he says. “Might be some spirits floatin’ around ya. Can’t let ya in if the meter says y’r too hot.”

“Hm,” I say. The meter will obviously go wild if he points it at Dotti, who is hiding on Kayk’s back, under her wing. “Are you sure this is necessary? I’m here on a diplomatic visit. We’re searching for refugees, and I have urgent business with the local Pastor.”

“M’orders are clear, your Ladyship. If anyone’s too hot, we’d have t’wait for the Pastor to come all the way up here t’get a good look at ya ‘fore he makes the final call on whether he’ll let y’in. Could take all day; he’s a busy man.”

“All day, you say?” It’s obviously a delay tactic.

“Them’s the rules.”

“Surely you can escort someone that’s ‘hot’ to meet Pastor Pryce, so he doesn’t have to come all the way up here.”

“Um… them’s the rules. ‘Specially if’n yer super duper hot.”

Should I smuggle Dotti in? If not, can I hope to convince the guards to allow Dotti in without waiting all day up here?

The longer your suggestion, the hotter it makes Serah.
No. 1071225 ID: e5709d

Ask why any of this is necessary. If he continues to say 'orders', hide Dotti.
There's a distinction between 'because this will harm people and their livelihoods' and 'because it will harm our control over others'. Choose law for the former and chaos for the latter.
No. 1071226 ID: 4481aa

Openly declare intent to bring a spirit inside with you, and ask why they it isn't allowed. Don't show them Dotti, that way smuggling is easier if necessary.
No. 1071227 ID: b57fea

No. 1071231 ID: a7a180

Smuggle. But why use delay tactics?
No. 1071232 ID: c5802f

Taranis, can you somehow lower Dotti's level?
No. 1071233 ID: 71143c


Smuggle her in!

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.
No. 1071234 ID: c5802f

Actually, can you ward us away for a bit to keep Serah unhot, Taranis?
No. 1071258 ID: 33d4a1

Taranis can sneak in on his own, that should drop the hotness a little. Dotti, if she assumes fox form, could possibly skip past the garrison. If that’s implausible, perhaps you could use her as a boa/scarf and insist that you’ve already been scanned so there really isn’t a reason to do it again.

It seems like this guy can’t really be appealed to with emotions. He’s cowed into doing this by his superior officer. However, we got a little hint of their emotional state with the officer’s outburst as they came out to get you. Maybe Kayk, who is evidently completely clean of hotness, can play up being intimidating to make the guards afraid to spend any more time around you all than they need to? Don’t do anything outwardly threatening, but some huffs and rumbles, maybe a little snort of smoke. Flexing of powerful thighs, claws digging into the dirt a bit. Stuff to remind them that Kayk is no pushover. That ought to make them want to dismiss some concerns without digging too deep in order to be out of her way that much faster, eh?
No. 1071274 ID: 273c18

They have increased security about spirits. Dotti is a fox spirit. Dotti might be the REASON they have increased security. You said there was something more to this place? Maybe it has something to do with this.

Smuggle or not, the next person you talk to better be the Pastor.
No. 1071343 ID: 86974f
File 169345495922.png - (17.54KB , 511x423 , LF7 29.png )


“I don’t understand,” I ask the soldier as he approaches. “How are visitors supposed to know how ‘hot’ they are before entering the Parish? Why is this necessary for travelers who’ve gone far out of their way to visit?”

“Gotta test for spirits followin’ y’round. Invisible n’stuff,” the soldier says. “Can’t let big’uns latch on’t anyone on their way in, or trick’n us w’th human shapes.”

No spirits allowed? My eyes flick to Dotti’s hiding spot underneath Kayk’s wing. I won’t let them bar her from visiting, regardless of their reasons. There must be a way to get her inside.


“Now if’n it please ya, stand still, y’Ladyship,” the soldier gulps. “Uh… needle’s jumpin’ somethin’ fierce. Hey, Sarge! Wazzit it mean if it goes pas’ half?”

“Let me have take a look!” the deep voice calls out from inside the barracks.

Oh, no. It must be picking up on Dotti’s signal. I shuffle to one side so the box points away from Kayk and focuses on me and me alone.


“Hm.” The burly sergeant stomps outside and stares over his subordinate’s shoulder. “Just under a quarter now.”

“It jump’d f’r a minute.”

“Give ‘em all a wave again. Make sure the dragon gets it too. Did you miss any dragon parts?”

“Th’s a lot of dragon…”

“Then you’d better get to it, and don’t be shy!”

They’re going to find Dotti! I look at Kayk and raise my arms to the side as if I’m stretching. Please, please let this work…

Kayk gives a long, deep rumble as the soldier approaches, scratching the ground in front of him. Her wings rustle and droop to each side like curtains, increasing her profile even more than it already is. The soldier nearly drops the meter and stumbles back to his sergeant.

“Pah!” the sergeant barks. “Your dragon’s gonna have to put up with this if she wants in.”

“Perhaps my scaled companion isn’t fond of the idea of being kept here while you check and re-check us, waiting for a Pastor who could take all day… and this search is hardly dignified for such an esteemed Terrorscale like herself,” I say. “To be frank, Sergeant, I don’t blame her for her disposition.”

The sergeant looks Kayk in the eye. Kayk looks right back and gives a long, deep yawn, stretching her legs, unfurling wings so wide they reach a forest glen nearby.

“Bloody dragon.” The sergeant crosses his arms. “Fine. Give ‘em all one more once-over, and if the readings say you’re clear, I’ll send the signal to prepare for arrival.”

This time, blessedly, we all pass. For some reason I show up as the highest. I’ll have to look into that later. Are those spirits Dotti mentioned still following me around? If so, it’s quite rude of them to pry into a Lady’s affairs. For shame!

“You’re clear to enter,” the sergeant says. “As soon as I blow the horn and get the horses saddled up and blow the horn and let the soldiers in the valley know we’re coming in all peaceful like. This’ll be the first time we’ve escorted a dragon. Can she keep up on foot?”

Kayk snorts.

“Are you asking if a dragoness will gallop alongside your horses like a common mare?” I ask.

“Forget I asked,” the sergeant says. “Just fly slow and let us follow.”

“I’m sure Kayk will try, but she must fly at a certain speed to stay airborne. It’s my turn to ask you if you are up to the task of keeping up.”

“We’ll be fine.” The sergeant spins on his heel and motions to the other guards to saddle some horses.
No. 1071345 ID: 86974f
File 169345516527.png - (18.22KB , 686x500 , LF7 30.png )

This has gone well so far, but I need to figure out how to get Dotti in. Where is she? I need an excuse to go into the woods.

“Pardon,” I ask the soldier we’d been dealing with before. “Is there a ladies’ room in your barracks? I need to freshen up for my visit with the Pastor.”

“Ladies’ room?” The soldier looks at me like I’ve grown a second head. “We’ve got a latrine if’n y’need ta sh- uh, freshen.”

“Your accommodations are most horrid,” I say, putting on my best noble air. “I shan’t avail myself of that! No, I will have my companions guard my modesty for a moment. Kayk, Landi, Raelynn, if you would?”

Kayk throws up her wings and shields me from view, and I head into the woods where I saw Dotti head. Raelynn follows me, ostensibly (and actually) for my safety.

“Dotti’s naked!” Landi giggles.

Oh, dear.

Rae takes a knee by the discarded clothes. “Fox prints. Regular ones. Headed to the Parish at a sprint.” Rae rubs her head. “Taranis and I can track her.”

Dotti’s taken it upon herself to get into the valley. I’m sure Rae can find Dotti normally, but she’s sweating so badly that it’s clear she has terrible side effects from her mutagen at the moment, not that she’ll admit it.

Do I ask Raelynn and Taranis to track Dotti down? If I don’t, there’s no guarantee we’ll meet at the same place when we get to town, if at all.
No. 1071346 ID: 2f7f6e

Send Taranis, but let Raelynn rest. Also, much easier for the guards to not notice a missing bird rather than a missing person.
No. 1071347 ID: 5c8d6e

Send Taranis, not Rae, let her rest. Taranis is on spirit duty, and Dotti is one of them. So i think this counts, right Taranis?

We dont want Rae's side effects making her sick when we might need her help later.
No. 1071348 ID: 273c18

Yeah. Believe in Rae. Side effects won't stop her from doing what needs to be done.
No. 1071349 ID: b6ec4d

Rae isn't in top form, but she should know her limits. Have her track Dotti. If you're really worried, you could ask Landi to accompany them for added support.
No. 1071350 ID: a7a180

Yes, Dotti needs her ASAP.
No. 1071379 ID: 773609

Not altering my vote, but if we decide to send Rae out, tell Taranis to find you if she passes out
Also tell the guys that Rae went out hunting if they ask where she asked. Hopefully that will work.
No. 1071468 ID: 86974f
File 169369411892.png - (7.16KB , 577x447 , LF7 31.png )

It’s critical that we keep track of Dotti. If we can’t find her soon, she might run afoul of anti-spirit wards or other defenses we haven’t yet figured out the reason for. I need Rae and Taranis to help find Dotti as soon as possible. Part of me wants to tell Raelynn not to push herself, but more of me appreciates her understanding of her own limits. Still…

“If the side effects worsen, don’t hesitate to send Taranis after me,” I say, putting my hand on Rae’s shoulder. She nods, then turns on her heel and sets off into the woods toward Dotti’s trail, completely silent and instantly blending in with a camouflage spell. It’s a little creepy knowing she can do that, but it’s even more reassuring to have her on our side.

I wait for Landi to finish gathering up Dotti’s clothes into her inventory, then we rejoin Kayk at the garrison. A few more soldiers have come out of the building to gawk at her. The sergeant soon comes around the other side, mounted atop a very nervous horse and leading two behind him.

“You ever seen a dragon before, Sarge?” one of them asks. “Sure the horses won’t spook?”

“ ‘Course I have. Battle of Châlons. Cooked half the other side’s regiment, she did. Funny, that one had close to the same shade of red as this big girl here.”

“I-is she the same dragon?”

“Nah,” says the sergeant. “Not ‘nless she spent all the time between then and now raiding livestock.”

Kayk snorts in irritation. She stands up and flaps her wings, drawing them to her full length, wind whipping around us. The horses let out a panicked whinny and turn tail, sending the mounted sergeant all the back to the stables, heedless of his commands.

Kayk smiles.

I climb back atop Kayk from the opposite side of the soldiers, keeping my skirts decent. I knew I didn’t need spats.

“Why aren’t you saying anything?” Landi whispers in Kayk’s ear. “You totally could have talked back at ‘em. They deserve it.”

Kayk rolls her eyes.

“Perhaps she wants them to underestimate her intelligence,” I offer. “Did your mother advise that in hostile areas?”

Kayk nods.

“Smart dragon,” Landi says.

“The smartest,” I agree.

The sergeant eventually gets his horses back under control, waving at two other soldiers to mount up and follow. “All right! Let’s go!” he booms. “Ride out! I’m sure our guest wants to introduce herself to our esteemed Mayor. To the Manor House!”

I don’t bother to inform him of our actual intentions. He blows his warhorn to announce incoming guests without confirming if Rae is still with us. It’s an oversight by the soldiers, but they have their hands full with the horses and Kayk is large enough that we’re able to pretend that Rae is still with us. Not to mention that Rae herself never said a word in the few moments she’d actually been visible to the guards in joining me for protection in the woods.

Kayk launches herself into the air, and we head down the valley entryway, outstripping the horses almost immediately. We’re going to arrive before them without even trying.

Where do Kayk, Landi and I decide to land?

1. The Manor House. It’s where the Mayor is, and it’s where nobility would be expected to introduce themselves in comfort and elegance, with perhaps some socializing and good food.
2. The Church. The real power in the parish, and presumably where we’ll find the Pastor responsible for the anti-spirit defenses.
3. The Market. This is the de facto town square. If I want to meet the people instead of the authorities, this is the place to make a splash. The sergeant’s horn has let them know to expect company, so hopefully they’ll make the connection that Kayk is here with permission and isn’t going to burn any of their thatched-roof cottages.
No. 1071470 ID: a7a180

The market. You've already met the authorities, let's meet the rest.
No. 1071473 ID: 273c18

2. Find out why they're warding against spirits.
No. 1071480 ID: e5709d

2) If anyone's going to be the aggressor in this town, it's them. You need to secure tensions with them before Dotti aggros the church militant.
No. 1071483 ID: 4481aa

I would have said the Manor House before, but Dotti's situation makes me say Church takes priority. We gotta figure out whether or not she can come in, and why or why not.
No. 1071488 ID: 1e6247

No. 1071626 ID: 86974f
File 169386382576.png - (172.42KB , 1042x995 , LF7 32.png )

The Church of Censorship has been the common thread in all my work searching for Dotti’s friend Petra. If I’m going to make real progress in answering the big questions of why the settlers-turned-refugees from Dotti’s forest are being hidden, and why this particular valley is concerned enough about spirits to have defenses against them, the Church is going to have the answers.

I guide Kayk to the church, and we circle for a graceful landing on the west end of the building, near the narthex. In some of the churches I’ve visited, I’ve been restricted to that specific area of the church, since I’m not a member of the faithful. This specific congregation has a church larger than most rural parishes, and its walls are thick, dirtied stone meant for function over form. There are no gaudy stained glass windows here; instead there are thick, reinforced shutters in each sill.

The clergy and faithful on the church grounds rush inside when they see Kayk circling, and when we touch down, there’s only one young man remaining, scribbling in a notebook. His skin, eyes and hair are all shades of pale grey, and he seems unperturbed by the fact that a dragon has just set down in front of him. He wears the black robes and holy symbol of the Censors but not the collar of the priesthood, so he’s not Father Forthill or Pastor Pryce. From what I know of the Church structure, he’s likely a member of the clergy that helps in other ways than delivering sacraments and blessings, but still bound by oaths of celibacy and obedience to the Veiled Goddess.

I slide off Kayk’s back, Landi fluttering beside me as I stride toward the Censor. He’s younger than me by a few years; by the looks of things, he’s new to his vows, probably taking them as soon as he was allowed.

“Good afternoon,” I say. “I am Lady Kensington, Heir Countess of Kensington. This is my fairy companion, Landi, and my good friend Kayk Terrorscale.”

The young man glances up at Kayk, then continues scribbling in his notebook, not saying a word. Hm. Whatever I was expecting, it wasn’t this.

“We humbly request an audience with Pastor Pryce,” I continue. “We have traveled far, and the soldiers at your border helpfully informed me that he would have information of great import to me and mine.”

The Censor bites his lip, glances at Kayk again and scratches more things into his notebook. What is he doing? Is he an artist like Dotti?

“Pardon me, but… should I find someone else to speak to?” I ask.

The Censor underlines a few things on his pad, then looks at Kayk with a small smile. “Would two cows per week satisfy Your Magnificence?”

Kayk tilts her head to one side. The Censor flips his book around to show a long string of equations.

“Assuming I’ve estimated your bone density correctly and that you maintain activity levels similar to migratory avians, and adding in a healthy dose of extra calories spent to generate fire,” he says, “And to keep you fully fed, I estimate two cows per week. If you’d like to check, should be sixty-seven percent accurate within one standard deviation of the average consumption by body mass of our population of Giornico. I admit it is not entirely applicable to one of your greatness, and my estimate of your needs is an approximation, but I am confident that I erred on the side of generosity.”

“Yes, that’s… wow. You did all that math while watching me fly in?” Kayk asks, completely forgetting she was trying to hide the fact that she could speak. “Um. I mean… rawr?”

“Brother Pierre!” a voice cracks like a whip from the church. I turn to see it belongs to a scowling nun practically stomping toward us. “Did you not hear the command to seek sanctuary?”

“The horn blew. These are guests,” he says. “It is our sacred duty to provide hospitality to all, is it not, Mother Mabel?”

“Do not lecture me, Pierre,” the nun hisses. “You still have much to learn about our duties. Now go inside and await further instructions. Sister Edith will escort you.”

Hiding behind Mother Mabel is a shy nun a little younger than Pierre, watching him intently.

I have a strong feeling that Brother Pierre will be far more open about what the Church is doing here than Mother Mabel. Should I try to diplomatically ask him to be Kayk’s liaison? I’d have to deal with Sister Edith, who might be his minder. Why would he need that?

1. Yes, try to keep Pierre around. This will make my conversations with the Church complicated, since the #2 or #3 authority in the Church (Mother Mabel) clearly wants him out of my sight.
2. No, allow Mother Mabel to send Pierre away. This would be polite and keep tensions low.
No. 1071636 ID: a7a180

Let them send him away for now, you can seek him out later.
No. 1071638 ID: e5709d

2) "Excuse me?! A proper gentleman does not make detailed assumptions about a lady's diet! Did... did you study advanced calculus and military logistics just to subtly deride women without being overtly sexist?! Wow. Just... wow."
No. 1071639 ID: 4481aa

Holy shit, keep Pierre around, he is amazing. Dude sees a dragon and instead of hiding decides to do the math to figure out how much they'll need to feed her. This isn't about practicality, this is solely about not wanting to remove Pierre from the story.

Play it off as taking great humor in Pierre's unconventional response, and feeling appreciative of his hospitality.
No. 1071655 ID: b4cdf8

No. 1071718 ID: 681cb5

No. 1071719 ID: 21becd

No. 1071727 ID: 8f9bc4

2) but make it clear that you and the Lady Kayk both find Pierre to be endearing, if a little enthusiastic about his duties.

He didn't even wait for Kayk to issue the formal threat to their community's virgins before he started offering cows!
No. 1071771 ID: dd3fe0

1. Try and be polite about it, maybe invite Pierre to interact later or something? He's amazing!

Was he using (whatever the locals call) Bayes Theorem? What else was he using as his priors? WE MUST KNOW!
No. 1071790 ID: 86974f
File 169397410630.png - (15.75KB , 500x500 , LF7 33.png )

While it would be very helpful for us to have what appears to be a forthcoming and helpful Censor to ask questions of, I decide not to ask for Brother Pierre’s continued company. Mother Mabel is on edge with him around, and with his apparent lack of consideration for her authority, I don’t blame her. Sister Edith takes him by the arm and tugs him toward the reinforced doors of the church entryway.

“It was a pleasure to meet you, Brother Pierre,” I say with a wide smile. “Her Magnificence Kayk appreciates your hospitality and wishes you well.”

Kayk gives an equally wide smile to the young man with exceptional good sense. He bows and takes his leave, allowing himself to be led away.

“Nooooooo,” Landi moans. “I liked him too.”

“Perhaps Brother Pierre will be free to rejoin us later?” I ask Mother Mabel.

“Unfortunately, he is otherwise occupied,” she replies with a firm tone.

“Aww. Oh! We haven’t been introduced,” Landi says. “This is Lady Serah Kensington, I’m Serah’s fairy companion, and she’s The Magnificent Kayk Terrorscale.” I give a curtsy, Landi bobs, and Kayk does absolutely nothing.

“I am Mabel, Mother Superior of the nuns of Giornico,” she says with a quick bow. “Your Ladyship, please forgive our unpreparedness. Our holy sanctuary is not accustomed to hosting such esteemed guests. We have neither food nor drink to suit your tastes; Mayor Dumas would surely welcome your arrival with much grander offerings than could be scavenged from our humble cellars.”

Ah, flattery. The dance begins.

“Your holiness’s presence is all succor worth seeking,” I say. “While I cannot count myself among the faithful, House Kensington has ever had the greatest respect for the Veiled Goddess and her works upon this earth. Her ministry is a beacon upon a hill, beckoning us all to a higher calling, no matter our creed.”

“Yeah!” Landi adds. “What she said. We won’t judge your cellars, Super-Mother.”

“Landi, may I lead?” I beckon her to my shoulder. “I apologize on behalf of my companion. I’m sure you can understand how, for some, formality can be difficult.”

“I do.” The corners of Mother Mabel’s lips turn upward. “We welcome you and yours with open arms as best we can. I would like to invite you to the nunnery, but alas, the nave of our church is consecrated ground. Only the faithful may pass beyond the narthex.”

“Of course. I would not wish to leave Her Magnificence too far behind,” I say, gesturing toward Kayk. I decide not to mention that she is willing to transform into a small form; at least, not without Raelynn at my side. I feel safe at the moment, but I feel safer with someone very big and very noticeable watching my back.

We go into the narthex, Kayk watching through the doors. I nod to her and she curls up outside, one eye watching closely. As Mother Mabel steps inside, she touches her hands to her shoulders and chest in a gesture of faith.

“Ooh, tingly,” Landi whispers in my ear. Her ‘impropriety’ was a perfect excuse for her to seat herself on my shoulder- just where I need her to feed me information surreptitiously. “She cast a divine spell. Testing if you’re a shapeshifter or wearing illusions.”

If there was any doubt in my mind before, it’s gone now. The Church is taking measures to protect against Dotti. It’s hardly a secret that I’ve taken a fox spirit into my entourage; I’ve brought Dotti along to visit Church universities before, so the clergy already know about her and haven’t had a problem before. But then, Church universities do tend to lean on the liberal side of acceptance and study of new things. I shouldn’t assume all clergy will tolerate spirits historically known to cause chaos and harm.

Mother Mabel gestures to a bench, and I take a seat beside her. “What brings you to us today?”

“The soldiers at the garrison told me that Pastor Pryce would want to see me,” I say. “Their device was making noises and saying I had spiritual activity. Should I be worried? Will the Pastor be able to help me?”

“Be at peace,” Mabel says. “There is no cause for alarm, and no need for Pastor Pryce’s attention. Sometimes the spirits take a brief interest in the living, especially one as exceptional as yourself. It is normal. My question, however, was meant for something else. Why have you decided to grace Giornico with your noble personage? We lead simple lives, and our land is governed by the Church, not the nobility. Are you seeking trade? We cannot hope to entice the ports of Kensington with goods to fill your ships; our produce is just enough to feed ourselves.”

“I am searching for a community of refugees who may have passed through or settled here,” I say plainly. There is no sense hiding something I’ve made public and sent letters to the mayor and told other members of the Church. I don’t know how much this particular Censor knows, though. “A dear friend of mine knew a girl by the name of Petra between thirty and forty years ago. Petra could be a grandmother by now.”

“We take in many refugees,” Mother Mabel says softly. “And with them, their burdens. As sympathetic as I am to long-lost friendships, this risks reopening old wounds, through which come… horrors.”

I have a very, very bad feeling about this.

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“Please,” Mother Mabel says. “Turn back while you still can. For Dorothea’s sake.”

What do I tell Mother Mabel? Do I tell her that Dotti and/or Raelynn are in Giornico?
No. 1071791 ID: a7a180

Dotti? We have never heard of this Dotti. For no particular reason, you should pay particular attention to your surroundings and take mental notes of them. Just so you know what's going on around you.

We hope Pastor Pryce can make an exception this once, we have traveled far for peace of mind and understand he is an... expert on the subject. We cannot turn back now, as the lid has already been opened on this.
No. 1071794 ID: 4481aa

"Unfortunately, as I told you only minutes ago, I am not particularly devout. You believe that I will accept such a request without justification, presumably because I have faith in your judgment. Personally, I prefer to make my decisions based on information. Is there something you would like to tell me?"

"If not, then I don't see any reason to change my current course of actions."
No. 1071796 ID: e5709d

"Are you saying Petra... became something?"
Hoist your warhammer.
"Dorothea desires closure, and possibly justice. The only reason she survived was because she couldn't abandon her closest friend to something worse than death. We came along because we found evidence that it may have been intentional. If Petra is gone or turned or even worse, then we'll deal with it and say a prayer. But if we gave up without trying, I worry... I fear that Dorothea might give up on everything."
No. 1071802 ID: 273c18

Tell her that you can't just turn around and act like you came here for nothing. Dotti won't back down now that she knows Petra was here. The only thing you and she can hope to do is control what happens next. You can talk to Petra yourself, at least?

This should be a happy meeting, even if Petra is old. She needs to explain how this could go wrong. Does Petra have PTSD? Something worse? Is she worried they just won't get along? That'd be fine. Dotti has matured greatly.
No. 1071803 ID: 273c18

Like, you don't even have to spill the beans about Dotti being here and possibly unattended. Just telling her that Dotti knows this is where Petra is/was will be enough to gain further information about what the worst case scenario is.
No. 1071822 ID: 106bc5

Inform her that no matter what she feels she is protecting Dotti from, it is not her decision to make. Opening up old wounds and creating new ones may be painful, but Petra has been Dotti’s life up until this point. Asking us to deny Dotti an opportunity to see Petra would be in itself torturous.

We have braced Dotti to accept that the end result of this may not be a happy outcome. Perhaps nothing can truly prepare someone for the kind of emotional hurt this will inflict on her, but the pain will lead to closure. Without seeing Petra, Dotti will never be able to move on. She has put Petra on a pedestal and idolized her. She’s made such strident efforts to become something more because of Petra. This is her final hang up. She’ll never learn to be her own woman without having the opportunity to see her heroine face to face and learn what there is to learn about her. Even if it all comes crashing down around her, at least she’ll have gotten what she needed. The debt of gratitude will come to its abrupt conclusion and Dotti will be able to live the life she wants to lead, rather than the one she feels she owes. Don’t you see how empowering that is for her?

Besides, and no offense to her holiness, she’s no soothsayer. She doesn’t know the future. She knows secrets but does she truly know who Dotti is? Can she speak to Dotti’s life experiences between when she and Petra separated and now? Dotti’s ability to handle complex emotional situations has vastly improved. I don’t think anyone can truly say with certainty what lies ahead. We are all working with incomplete information, and that’s why it’s in no one’s justified power to prevent this from going forward.
No. 1071832 ID: e51896

Tell her that Dotti has been suffering from her own trauma over losing Petra to the point of having nightmares every night. It got so bad that you had to give her a artifact to suppress those nightmares, and while that helped, you feel that her mental anguish is only going to worsen if she doesn't receive some kind of closure, as every day, she worries more and more that she may never see Petra again, and that stress can really effect someone into depression and/or anxiety.
No. 1072030 ID: fb8a42
File 169428097946.png - (5.32KB , 437x404 , LF7 34.png )

That sinking feeling in my stomach tells me I should be on high alert for what’s happening around me. There are frightened clergy huddling in the nave of the church, staring over the pews at Kayk, who’s watching through the open door. If they close that door, could it stop an emergency rescue? Is this church that well-warded? I don’t want to find out. Still, I have to take this opportunity to find out all I can, even if (and because) there are so many unknowns about what’s happening in Giornico.

“Respectfully… as I said, I am not a member of the faithful. I respect your judgment as Mother Superior, but I must rely on my own,” I say. “I am here on behalf of a good friend, who you already know is Dorothea; I call her Dotti. I cannot turn back for Dotti’s sake, because it is for her sake I am here. Dotti passed through fire and death to repay a debt of gratitude to Petra that transcends lifetimes, Mother. She will never stop seeking Petra until she has closure. To deny her would condemn her to anguish, fear and loss all over again. Would you wish that on anyone, let alone a fox spirit? What might that create?”

“Please,” I conclude. “Let me bring Dotti to Petra. Let it be a happy reunion, a triumph over trauma for them both. The Church has the grace to grant Dotti her peace. If you are hesitant, then please grant me an audience with Pastor Pryce. I will say the same, and let him decide.”

Mother Mabel closes her eyes and sighs.

“You know the Church’s duty is to shepherd souls, but also to track and account many things, including secrets,” she says. “I ask that you respect my judgment not as a matter of faith, but as professional courtesy. I would not ask you to disclose your House’s secrets. Do not ask me to give up the Veiled Goddess’s. Not for a fox.”

“I ask only what is necessary,” I say. “Dotti is no longer merely a fox. Her life experiences and trials, the difficult lessons she’s learned, they have all prepared her for this moment. She can withstand whatever news you can share of Petra’s fate.”

“It is more than emotions,” Mother Mabel says. “If I tell you this, I will need you both to swear to utmost secrecy. Both Landi and yourself.”

I swear. So does Landi.

Mother Mabel accepts both our oaths and grits her teeth.

“The refugees who fled the Dorothea’s forest all those years ago… Petra was not the only victim, but she was the last, and the one bearing the worst scars. You doubtlessly noticed how nobles would refuse to keep the refugees for long. The horrors of that forest that Dorothea destroyed- the survivors are missing pieces of their very souls. They have many afflictions, and can be possessed by spirits far too easily. They cannot defend themselves without a spiritual shield, which we assist. Even after they die, the wounded require special aid to pass on. Without help on the other side, or preparation beforehand… their souls are not safe.

“If a particularly wounded person lets down their guard to let spirits into their soul, they could be easily overcome. We must take precautions against this, and keep the walls of the other side guarded. We of the faithful have the ability to shut out the spiritual realm nearly completely, should it be necessary. Extreme emotions raise the risk of possession.”

“Soldiers coming,” Landi whispers in my ear. “Behind Kayk.”

“What would that do to a fox spirit that has manifested a body here?” I ask.

“Normally, Dorothea’s physical body would be put into a comatose state, disincorporate into mana and dissolve, or, if she is particularly intent on remaining here, potentially it may act as an anchor for her spirit. Her consciousness would then remain here in the physical world, but her connection to the spiritual would be sealed. She would lose access to magic, and if the severance was violent enough, it could be very traumatizing. She could lose a significant amount of her power, and ability to access the spiritual realm. Perhaps the damage could be permanent, if she is half on this side, half on the other. Worse-case, slamming the metaphorical gate down on her as she’s standing in it could cause a bifurcation of her soul.”

“Only if you need to isolate the spiritual realm to prevent possession, if there are extreme emotions from a wounded individual,” I say. “You said Petra had been most affected.”

“Serah,” Landi says, more urgently. “They’re coming in.”

“Is Petra here in Giornico?”


“Lady Kensignton,” the sergeant from earlier booms. “Mayor Dumas extends his invitation.”

Just as the sergeant calls out to me, a magically conjured image and a few words pop up in my mind. It’s from Taranis, and it’s the Tweet spell he got permission to use to communicate with me. It’s a view of the marketplace, with Rae sitting in a few trees a half-mile away.

Fox tracks to market, the spell says.

Do I accept the soldier’s invitation and go to the Manor House?
No. 1072031 ID: a7a180

No. Go to the market. Excuse yourself and say you need time to ponder what the mother superior has told you.

So they're worried about spirit possession of the refugees. Can Petra be quarantined and brought somewhere it is safe for Dotti to see her? Her loyalty for Petra and her capacity for magic would make her a dutiful guard fox for as long as the suppression need be lifted. Rae may also know a thing or two about spiritual combat.
No. 1072032 ID: 4481aa

Hell no. Go to the market and help find Dotti. This cannot wait, you do not have time to play the polite and friendly noble rn.

"Another time. I am here on personal business, and I'm afraid that I cannot spare a visit at this particular moment."
No. 1072034 ID: 17262a

What if we send Landi over to Rae while we see the mayor? She should be able to help Rae out with magic, and she got the same info we just got from the sister about petra and the risks
No. 1072035 ID: 273c18

Okay, so she's saying the clergy here pose a threat to Dotti. That doesn't explain why Petra meeting Dotti would be bad. Like, the clergy could just... not shut the gate while Dotti is there? It just means we need a controlled meeting, doesn't it? One with the clergy's permission? Tripping that protection would destroy us as well, wouldn't it...
Hmm, I wonder if Dotti could be convinced to not meet Petra in person. Long-distance communication like uh, through a magic mirror would be pretty good! And they can write letters.

Anyway, we have to keep Dotti under control so yeah, to the Market. It's rude but Kayk's presence should keep the soldiers from forcing the issue.
No. 1072036 ID: 8f9bc4

You would be delighted to accept the mayor's invitation, and you'll be right over there as soon as you take care of some business like stopping certain foxes from making terrible mistakes.

The hardest part about this is Dotti is going to have to learn that things cannot go back to what they were. Even if they could, the way things were is not what she remembers. Her memories of Petra are a nostalgia clouded fantasy of what Dotti wishes had been. If Dotti can come to terms with that, then they might even be able to have a tearful reunion, and she can finally rest easy knowing that she did her job and saved Petra from the soul reavers. If not, then Dotti's going to get resentful, someone's going to get hurt, and she's going to be stuck with the guilt and stigma that she isn't trustworthy, again.
No. 1072039 ID: fb8a42
File 169429911714.png - (8.46KB , 330x344 , LF7 35.png )

Something tells me I haven’t learned all of Giornico’s secrets, but I only care about the ones that affect Dotti. I’m just happy I’ve gotten this information without incident.

“It appears I am wanted elsewhere,” I tell Mother Mabel. I get up and give a small curtsy, which she returns with a nod. “Thank you for everything you have done for Giornico.”

“And for Petra,” Landi adds softly.

I breathe a sigh of relief as I walk out of the church doors, much more comfortable now that Kayk is within distance of an easy getaway. Speaking of which…

“The Manor House is this way, Your Ladyship. Follow us,” says the sergeant.

“I shall,” I say, placing my hand on Kayk’s side, “As soon as I attend to a personal matter. Please inform Mayor Dumas that I shall join him later today, and appreciate his polite invitation.”

“You’re wanted now,” the sergeant says, stepping toward me. “Ma’am, I don’t advise keeping him waiting. I can’t let you run around without an honor guard, and my orders are to bring you to him right now.”

“And so you have,” I say. I place a hand on Kayk’s thigh, preparing to climb aboard. “There is no guard more honorable than Kayk, and I shall be with your Mayor soon. You have carried out your order ‘right now.’ ”

“Yeah! Tell him that it’s good enough for a graduate of fairy college!” Landi says.

Kayk cranes her head down and stares the sergeant right in the eye. I feel like I can see the flames dancing in his eyes as he remembers the Battle of Châlons.

“Bloody hell,” mutters the sergeant. “I can buy you three no more than two hours, you hear? Any longer, and the Mayor will take it personal and send you packing, no matter how far you’ve come.”

“Two hours will do,” I say, climbing aboard Kayk with prim and proper poise. We take off and leave the soldiers with Mother Mabel, who quickly engages them in conversation.

By this point, word has gotten out amongst the laity that a dragon has decided to visit Giornico. The market is starting to fill up with people, so we decide to land a fair distance away, near the treeline of the valley’s edge, as close to where I can guess Taranis’s mental image was. Fortunately, Taranis himself is flying above Rae to guide us in, so I don’t have to do much guesswork to find Rae, who hops aboard Kayk. She’s sweating and shivering, but climbs aboard like nothing is wrong. Still, I gesture her to wrap her arms around my waist as tight as she can for the short flight.

“We’re going to go find Dotti in the market,” I say as Kayk prepares to launch again. “Can Taranis contact Dotti with the spell to let her know we’re coming?”

“He already tried,” Rae croaks, “But we can’t tell if she’s not responding because she doesn’t notice, doesn’t know how, or doesn’t care.”

“I thought anyone who gets a tweet could respond with a mental image,” I say.

“You can’t do that unless you’re a follower of Odin,” Rae says. “You’re limited to five words or less to respond. Unless you make a donation in Odin’s name, then you get more. And can send images.”

“There’s a subscription fee to use a spell?” Landi asks.

“I’m not sure it’s money. I think it’s… a gift of knowledge, or… something secret and valuable.”

The flight over to the market is so short that we don’t even get to finish the conversation. Taranis swoops over the market stalls to start searching for Dotti, and I guide Kayk in a fair distance from the market center so we don’t cause a disturbance, and so I don’t have to dismount in the middle of a crowd. The crowd, thankfully, doesn’t come too far out of the market, but there are a few eager children rushing to meet us. There’s not much I can do but call out a warm welcome and put on my best gladhanding face as Rae slides down Kayk’s tail to conduct her own search.

“Landi,” I say, “Can you be the social butterfly and try to be the center of attention with Kayk? I’d rather have the attention on her, just in case we find Dotti. I’m hardly inconspicuous in this dress.”

“You got it! Easy peasy. But, uh, want me to Godmother you into something less noble?”

“No,” I say firmly. “Just be friendly and make sure people are comfortable around Kayk.”

Landi takes to the task with aplomb. I wave and smile with the crowd, and I get some stares, but by far the most attention is on Kayk, leaving me free to wander the market. It doesn’t take long for Rae to slip beside me and point out a fox nestled between crates of produce.

“She’s looking at the crowd and sniffing the air a lot. I think she’s picking up on Petra’s scent.

“She said she could smell ‘good people,’ ” I say. “I’ve always suspected she associated Petra’s scent with that. Maybe she’s picking up on Petra?”

Rae nods. She opens her mouth and gives something that sounds like a raspy, animalistic yip.

“What was that?”

Rae grimaces. “Sorry. Was supposed to be a gekker. This mutagen is messing with my vocal cords.”

“Couldn’t you just call out Dotti’s name?”

Rae blushes.

“Don’t bother,” a magically conjured voice giggles behind us. “C’mere! C’mere! Petra’s in Giornico, I know it! She’s been here! I can smell it! It’s different, but it’s her!”

Somehow, I in my dress and Rae with her scar manage to surreptitiously sneak behind the crates and join Dotti. It’s much easier when there’s a dragon on the other end of the market and a fairy living her best life.

Dotti knows Petra is in Giornico, but I haven't told her that Petra may need special care and be watched or defended by the Church. What is our plan?
No. 1072040 ID: e5709d

Play the "That's Classified" game. See if you can get Dotti to realize what happened on her own.

Mabel needs to explain the situation to Dotti directly. If she can't, then her position is more tangled than she cares to admit. You also need to investigate why those soul raiders were there in the first place - whether or not Rae's family was involved. I expect her mother to be extra involved.
No. 1072041 ID: a7a180

The plan is to find Petra and move her somewhere where the spirit wards can be lifted safely. Dotti needs to be alerted that there are other spirits hunting the refugees and that the church does not discriminate between good spirits and bad. Approaching the church’s wards could harm her permanently and we are working g on a solution to that.
No. 1072043 ID: 4481aa

Express very quickly how glad you are to have found her, informing her that if she'd made it to Petra first, she would have been caught in several spirit wards and had her soul split. Hopefully that will be enough to get her to stop and listen, while you explain the situation. Don't make it sound hopeless, like there's no way she can meet Petra. Just make it clear that there's a problem that you need to overcome to make it happen.

Emphasize one thing above all else though: Petra is alive, and she is here. Dotti did save her.
No. 1072048 ID: e51896

Pretty much this. but in a slightly different direction. First, lets tell her about how impressed you were that Dotti got this far here, and the spirit wards that could have hurt Dotti like Himitsu said, but let her know that you thought that maybe we can prepare a bit longer so that they can protect us from the spirit wards and so that her friends like you, Rae, Landi, Taranis, and Kayk could meet her together. If she is still deadset in finding Petra NOW, then ask her "wouldn't you want to introduce Petra to Kayk?" Kayk is like, Dotti's second favorite person, and I think she'd be convinced to wait a tiny bit longer for her sake.

I say we should only tell Dotti about Petra's condition when we are in the air riding Kayk so she doesn't get emotional amd escape again after hearing the bad news, that way we can be emotional support for her and keep her emotions under control. But let Dotti know that in the end, she WILL meet Petra while we are here and to not worry. She has to trust her friends that worked hard to help her get her this far. That is why we came here after all, and you'll see to it that she'll reunite with Petra.
No. 1072050 ID: 8f9bc4

Don't forget to praise Dotti for sniffing out that Petra is here. Praise goes a long way with people like her and Landi. Let her know about the wards here, which destroy her body, cut her off from her magic again, or uh, slice her soul in half, depending on how mortal she's feeling today.

When she's upset at that, tell her what you found, that the wounds inflicted by soul raiders can leave people with torn souls, even if they survive. They might never be the same, and the slightest spiritual activity can damage them worse. So the church made those wards because these people are in great danger if not protected from spirits at large.

Once she's figured that out, you'll need Dotti's help because something's not right here. They're hiding their own members from you, and the local mayor is sending soldiers to take you to his lair, or drive you out of town. You haven't seen any of these so-called victims, and the mayor is interrupting your search for Petra, probably unintentionally. You need Dotti to sniff out any funny business going on here while you visit with the mayor. But under no circumstances should she invade that church; it's extremely dangerous with lots and lots of hurting.
No. 1072071 ID: 273c18

Tell Dotti she is in terrible danger. If she tries to meet Petra here BOTH of them could die, for reasons you have been sworn to secrecy about. Yes, she will be able to talk to Petra, and soon, but it might not be in person. You'll get a pair of scrying spheres or something for long distance communication. Also she needs to stay with you, and not use illusions to wander unattended, for her own safety. Actually it would be safest if she waited in the forest. Out of town. It is extremely dangerous for her here. Or, we could ask the clergy (or the Mayor?) for a safe location for her to wait, that wouldn't get her warded to death. Basically, our choices are for her to either leave town or become openly known so she doesn't get accidentally blasted.

...actually, how far can she project an illusion? Taranis can send her images via the Tweet spell so she can know how to control the illusion from a distance. Then she could be "present" when Sarah meets Petra.

WE, the spirits, will definitely not go anywhere near Petra. We could die too.
No. 1072072 ID: 8f9bc4


Oh right don't forget your oath of secrecy, because I completely and totally did.
No. 1072096 ID: e51896

most definetly this
No. 1072118 ID: fb8a42
File 169437383223.png - (12.31KB , 500x500 , LF7 36.png )

Kneeling behind the crates and taking care not to dirty my dress, I give Dotti the best direction I can, while keeping my oath of secrecy. I’m not allowed to share what Mother Mabel told me after I swore it, but I’m freely able to share my own deductions prior to that, and encourage Dotti in figuring things out for herself.

“I’m impressed,” I tell Dotti. “It’s incredible how quickly you found Petra’s scent. You must be tired from running all the way here from the garrison.”

“I’ll run as far and as fast as it takes to find Petra,” Dotti beams. “She’s here, somewhere. I’ll find her! I just need to follow the person with the strongest Petra smell.”

“Trust your instincts,” I say, “But be very, very careful. You remember the spirit detector at the garrison? No one sets up just one trap for spirits, not when it’s that expensive. I’m relieved that you haven’t set any off yet.”

“Nothing will stop me from finding Petra,” Dotti says. “She’s alive! Serah, she’s alive! It was all worth it. Everything was worth it. Being with Landi was worth it. You helped me. Kayk helped me. We’re here now, and we’ll be together again, and we’ll both be safe and fed for the rest of our lives.”

Rae looks at me, eye narrowed. I can hardly blame Dotti for being overwhelmed, but I have to try and calm her down so she doesn’t charge straight into a spirit ward that could send her straight back to the other side- or worse.

“You’ve done so much for Petra, Dotti, and it’s all paid off,” I agree, intentionally not saying that I know for a fact that Petra is here thanks to Mother Mabel, but encouraging Dotti nonetheless. “Rae, Taranis, Kayk, me and Landi; we’ll all help you track Petra down. We’re your friends. We’re here for you, and to keep you safe. Not even I know exactly what kind of spiritual defenses Giornico has set up, and I just got done talking with the third highest-ranked Censor who lives here. There could be some extremely nasty traps for spirits like you if you charge in headfirst.”

“Nobody knows I’m here,” Dotti says. “I’ll sneak around the wards. I snuck back through death’s door, I can sneak past some Censors.”

“Censors might keep a better eye on their, um, doorways than death does,” I say. “I’m worried that censors who don’t know you’re with me might decide to take matters into their own hands. What if Petra is living next door to a Censor? You’d run into them eventually, especially if you want to gekker and laugh along with Petra, and introduce her to Kayk outside.”

“Oh.” Dotti’s smile fades slightly. “You can get permission for me to be here, right, Serah? I snuck in, but… you’re smart. And… Landi can sense magic and how people are doing, right? Can Landi help me sneak past wards?”

“We’d have to ask her, but she probably can,” I say. “That particular skill of hers doesn’t seem to need much training, thankfully. It’s like your instincts.”

“Dotti.” Rae puts a hand to her short sword. “If it comes to it, Taranis and I will keep you from being banished. If you stay close to us, no Censor will surprise you.”

“I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to that,” I say. “Dotti, we have a choice to make. We can bring you along and make your presence known, or we can keep you hidden, and Taranis can send short spells to keep you informed about where we are. Once we know if it’s safe, it’s easier to smuggle you in if you’re a fox. And, if you don’t mind, Dotti, may I ask a personal question?”


“Would you prefer to see Petra again as you are now, or in a different form?”

“Um.” Dotti blinks. “I’ve worried… what if she doesn’t recognize me in my halfway form? Or what if she thinks I’m a freak? She knows me as a friendly fox.”

“People change,” I say. “Foxes change. You’ve become very comfortable at Kayk’s bakery as your three-tailed self. You don’t need to change who you are to try and be who you were so many years ago. You may have to accept that Petra has changed, too.”

“I’m not sure,” Dotti says. “Can… can I decide later?”

“Take all the time you need,” I say. “First, though, let’s decide on if you want to join me meeting the Mayor. I will protect you, and so will Rae and Kayk. Or you can stay safe in the woods and let us gather more information. You could stay in the market, but if a Censor spots you, I don’t know what would happen.”

Does Dotti decide to break stealth and join me in visiting the Mayor?
No. 1072121 ID: e5709d

I think we should show Dotti. There's not much they can do to keep you away from Petra, especially since they can't risk moving Petra in her injured state. Laying our cards on the table will let us discuss a secure means of communication.
No. 1072123 ID: e51896

Let Dotti continue being stealthy with Taranis. Just like how we get more information, Dotti can sneak around and find information on her own too. I think we can trust Dotti to not run in to meet Petra without us with her stealth, and Taranis can help with the abilities he had gotten while "treasure" hunting to keep Dotti hidden

Plus, if the mayor gives us some bad news about Petra, it might get Dotti emotional, and he might say stuff that he wouldn't want dotti to hear if she isn't with us.
No. 1072124 ID: eb0c4a

Don’t break stealth, the censors haven’t agreed to anything yet. Easier to ask forgiveness than permission.
No. 1072125 ID: 4481aa


I think showing Dotti is the play. While there are benefits to stealth, this meeting with Petra is likely only to happen if we can get the Censors to play along. On her own, Dotti could be discovered, or possibly even get into trouble herself due to being overexcited. Considering the potential consequences for being in the wrong place right now, we shouldn't take that risk.
No. 1072130 ID: 273c18

>Does Dotti decide to break stealth and join me in visiting the Mayor?
Yes. The clergy know that Dotti killed the soul-eating spirits. They are grateful, they *like* her. Coming out of stealth will prevent accidents, and they might approach Dotti directly to tell her the details about their warding which we can't say right now.
No. 1072164 ID: b57fea

This kome post is worryingly cogent, I agree with him
No. 1073151 ID: fb8a42
File 169561318117.png - (33.46KB , 500x550 , LF7 37.png )

Rae, Dotti and I discuss strategy. The Censors know Dotti’s name. They know she’s extremely motivated to find Petra. Since they’ve told me that Petra is here in Giornico, they likely know Dotti was the one to kill the soul-eating abominations that attacked Petra. They’re also heavily invested in unknown types of anti-spirit defenses that don’t appear to be specifically targeting Dotti, but can potentially catch her by surprise if she barrels right into them… which is exactly what will happen if she zeros in on Petra’s scent.

Revealing that Dotti is here wouldn’t be a surprise to the Censors, but it would let Dotti stay close to me. Keeping Dotti close lets Landi feel around for wards and Censor magic that might harm Dotti, and makes it clear Dotti is under my (and Kayk’s, and Rae’s) protection. I’ve already gotten the biggest benefit of sneaking Dotti in, which is not being kept at the guardpost for hours and hours, and perhaps even being denied entry. It’s time to put all our cards on the table.

“Dotti,” I say, “I’m not sure what kind of defenses this valley has, so until we know, are you okay not using too much of your magic, if you don’t have to? If you want to transform, we might need to make sure nothing bad happens when you draw your power from the other side.”

Dotti nods. “I’ve been talking to you with my illusion magic and it hasn’t made anything nasty happen, but I’ll be careful until you say it’s safe.”

Rae is still sweating, so her fever hasn’t broken yet. “Rae, I trust that you know your limits,” I say. “If the Censors or anyone else move to banish Dotti, I trust that you won’t push yourself too far.”

Rae nods. She’s prideful, but not so prideful to object to a sensible request.

We come out from behind the crates and head back to Kayk and Landi’s sideshow. Dotti scampers along beside me, and for the second time in an hour I’m thankful Kayk is so terrifically good at being a distraction that no one cares about a Lady in a fancy dress escorting an elf and a dolled-up fox. We climb aboard Kayk, and suddenly I’m very grateful for the fact that I wore spats under the dress. In this scenario, better safe than sorry.

Landi says her goodbyes to what I presume are dozens of new friends and acquaintances. The crowd pulls back, disappointed that they have to say goodbye so soon, but Landi assures them she’ll drop by again.

“You’re all beautiful! Mwah! Mwah!” Landi says, giving exaggerated goodbye bows and blowing kisses with her wings. “We love you, Giornico!”

“Landi,” I whisper as the crowd backs up, “This is important. I need you to feel out as far as your senses can go, and see if Kayk is about to plow into any kind of anti-spirit magic or wards. Can you do that?”

“If she flies really, really slow,” Landi says. “Yeah. There’s something weird about this whole valley, like somebody put a blanket over all the background birds chirping and bees buzzing, but… yeah I should be able to do that. I gotcha.”

Kayk takes off in a low, looping flight path that gives us a moment to collect our bearings as we circle around to the Manor House, flying as close to a stall as she can. It drains her stamina to flap her wings just to stay aloft, but she gives Landi as much lead time as possible to try and pick up any nasty defenses. Once Landi is sure there isn’t an aerial defense around the Manor that might hurt Dotti, Kayk charts a course to set down on the dirt path outside the manor’s entrance, where the Mayor and his entourage are waiting. That’s nice; Kayk’s slow, obvious flight path gave the Mayor enough time to set up and make it clear he’s supposed to wait for us is a delightful, if accidental, power move on my part. If anyone asks, it was all part of the plan.

“Are you ready, Dotti?” I ask. “These people are the ones who know where everyone in town is.”

“Petra!” Dotti’s tail wags back and forth faster than I’ve ever seen it go. “They know where she is! I can’t wait! I can’t!”

“Please let me introduce you,” I say. “Once that’s done, if they ask you questions, of course you can answer them.”


At last, we set down. I spy a Censor wearing the white collar of authority- that must be the number one or number two in ecclesiastic command of Giornico. Mayor Dumas, recognizable with his elected official’s sash, waits for us to dismount and walk around Kayk before approaching. I hold Dotti tight, placing her in the position of honor of being carried. How many people can say they’ve been carried by a Lady while she’s acting in her official capacity as an ambassador?

“Welcome to our humble manor, Lady Kensington, and to your most brilliant fairy companion and elven honor guard. Kayk Terrorscale, your presence here warms us all.” Mayor Dumas says. He is a middle-aged man with impressively combed hair and a wide, warm smile. “However… the sergeant at the gatehouse did not have the pleasure of meeting your fashionably furred companion. I find myself at a loss, my Lady.”

“No dangerous magic here. Not even from priesty dude,” Landi whispers, so soft I can barely hear.


I hold Dotti up proudly, both of us smiling.

I’ve always wanted to introduce a small, furry companion like this!

How do I introduce Dotti to the most important people in Giornico, the ones who hold the key to finding Petra?
No. 1073153 ID: e51896

Let Dotti introduce herself. She's had enough training from Kayk on cutsomer service to introduce herself properly.

Just make sure Dotti doesn't transform into humanoid, she's naked right now after all.

At most, just say "I'd like to introduce you to Dotti. Say hello, Dotti!"
No. 1073154 ID: 4481aa

Go big or go home.

"This is my daughter, Dotti."
No. 1073156 ID: a7a180

Behold Dotti, master of illusions, slayer of wraiths! Isn't she the most precious fox you've ever seen? Then wave her paw hello.
No. 1073157 ID: 273c18

>There’s something weird about this whole valley, like somebody put a blanket over all the background birds chirping and bees buzzing
Hmmm, that's odd. There might be a large-scale ward in place. Maybe that's what was foiling the scrying attempt?

"Presenting Dorothea, slayer of soul-eaters, waitress at a dragon's bakery, and generally well-behaved fox spirit."
No. 1073162 ID: e5709d

No. 1073586 ID: fb8a42
File 169604902389.png - (13.27KB , 500x500 , LF7 38.png )

I have the strongest desire to introduce dotti as my little fuzzy fox daughter, but I shove the intrusive thoughts aside. This is Dotti’s moment. She is cute and fluffy and deserves the highest of honors, nothing less, and I won’t mess it up for anything.

“This is Dorothea, slayer of soul-eaters, master of illusions, waitress of La Pâtisserie de Minga, and the world’s first socialite fox spirit. Say hello, Dotti!”

I can’t help it. I wave her little paw and she is so adorable and oh no I messed it up aahhhhhh

“Hello, Mayor Dumas! I am all of these wonderful things. You may put me down now, Lady Kensington,” Dotti says with her illusion magic, allowing herself to be placed on the ground to escape my paw-waving with her dignity intact. She saunters up to the Mayor, tail held high. “I would like to see Petra, please. You may know her as the sweetest and most generous and best and kindest person in Giornico. Also the world.”

“My goodness! Our Petra must be quite the woman,” the Mayor laughs. “I am honored to meet one of your talents, Dotti. And may I say, your coat is radiant, Miss Dotti. ”

Dotti accepts this praise with supreme grace.

“I know two women named Petra in our humble parish,” says the Mayor, “But you’ve made it clear, Miss Dotti, that only one fits your description. Pastor Pryce, which woman would you say our guest would like to meet?”

The Censor steps forward, joining the mayor. “Lady Kensington,” he says, acknowledging me before joining the mayor and Dotti. “My colleagues at the Church’s universities have let us know you may be visiting, Dorothea, and your companions. On behalf of the Church, please accept my apologies for their inability to aid you more directly than they have. They are sworn to secrecy on these matters, and I am sure you would agree that knowledge of the soul-devouring horrors should remain so.”

A hand brushes my elbow softly. Raelynn is beside me. When did that happen?

“We named them the Horrors,” Pastor Pryce looks to Raelynn. “But your elven companion would know them as the Airceacháin, I think.”

Raelynn narrows her eyes, which is as big a tell as I’ve seen her give anywhere else.

“We owe you a great debt, Dorothea,” Pastor Pryce says. “Your love, light, and life saved many here from a terrible fate. It was your bond with Petra, and your willingness to sacrifice yourself for her, that allowed you to slay the Horrors and for Petra to persevere. I am sure you would like nothing more than to see her again.”

“Yes!” Dotti lets out an excited squeal, and Sweet Savior, Landi does a small one too.

“Unfortunately, it is not so simple,” the Pastor says. “There are complications. Uncomfortable ones.”

“I don’t care,” Dotti says. “Take me to Petra right now! Please!”

The priest steeples his hands and whispers a soft prayer, and Rae immediately tenses up. Landi swoops beside Rae, whispering in her ear quickly, and Rae relaxes slightly, but not entirely. I raise my eyebrow at Landi, and she flutters over to me.

“Anti-mind-control,” she whispers. “He doesn’t trust her.”

“For both your safety and Petra’s,” Pastor Pryce says, “I will need to seal your power for a time before you see her. You will be unable to use spells, shapeshift, or do anything a normal fox would not be able to.”

“Hey!” Landi says. “Kayk can shapeshift too! Are you gonna try and bind a friggin’ dragon too? Or me! I glow! I’m super magical! What’s your angle?”

“It is more complicated than simply bringing Dotti to Petra. By even speaking, Dotti is drawing power from the spiritual realm. It would cause her pain, attract attention from the other side, were Dotti to do so in her presence. We have precautions against this pain, but they would not be kind to spirits like Dotti.”

“No shapeshifting at all?” Landi asks again. “You’d really make her run around as a fox? She’s, like, a multi-formed cutie, you should see her waitress form. Would she be able to change forms now, if she wanted to?”

“I would very much prefer she didn’t,” says the Pastor. “Anything that draws too much energy from the spiritual realm in this place causes ripples we don’t need reverberating outward.”

“I have mana potions,” I offer. “Surely she could use localized energy instead.”

“Only if it is absolutely necessary, and done in an isolating circle,” the Pastor says begrudgingly. “Still, I will insist on binding her use of magic outside of such circles. This holy symbol will ensure it, and only I or Father Forthill may remove it.”

He kneels down to Dotti and offers her the holy symbol. Dotti is suspicious, but she’ll do anything to see Petra.

Should I allow this to happen?
No. 1073587 ID: b57fea

is the fact that only you two will be able to remove a legal requirement or because its cursed and literally cannot be removed by others? Because one of these things is acceptable, the other is an obvious attempt to permanently disable and possibly kidnap a close friend and ally of mine.
No. 1073588 ID: e51896

Ask if you can test it real quick, and wear it, for Dotti's sake. If he asks why, mention how you had that spirit meter go off on you earlier, and you as someone of science and alchemy, want to see how it works.

My main reason tho: I kinda wanna see what effect it has on us suggestors, who are also spirits and see if it is safe for Dotti. And we can have Taranis verify if anything bad happens to us, and in which case, whether we can have Dotti wear it or not.

Taranis, you can hear us. if something bad happens to us, please immediately warn the others.
No. 1073589 ID: e5709d

I say let Kayk test it out. If it's designed for regulation and not enslavement, it shouldn't explode trying to restrict every last trace of magic in a dragon.
No. 1073601 ID: 273c18

It's probably not required, since Dotti is good at following directions now, but will get people to trust Dotti more for sure. You can tell her as much. They don't trust her, and we don't have time to prove she can behave, so she'll just have to wear it for now.

Although, this means she won't be able to talk outside of a circle. Inconvenient. And if something happens, like a sudden attack, she won't be able to help. Well, hold on. Tell them you're concerned about what might happen if there was an attack while she's wearing the symbol. Insist he stays close while Dotti is wearing it, so it can be taken off in case of an emergency.
No. 1073603 ID: 4481aa


This is a good idea, mainly in that if it wouldn't be safe for us to wear, then you question if Dotti is truly safe with it.

Get Landi's counsel on this, as her understanding of magic would be helpful here. The main concerns Serah should address are: Putting a binding on Dotti that only two people with the same allegiances can remove seems suspect, would Dotti find a meeting under the laid out circumstances as satisfactory, and let's not ignore the fact that too different members of this parish have responded to Dotti in different ways.

Mother Mabel and the Pastor should have a similar information-base, and Mabel warned us that we should leave. She didn't recommend binding Dotti's magic, she just told us to turn back. For someone who seemed sympathetic to Dotti's plight, why would she ignore that option?

We may be in a dangerous situation in which one representative of the church wants what is best for us, while the other wants what is best for them. Perhaps Mabel wanted us to leave, because it's much safer for their parish than allowing the visit even with precautions. Or perhaps the binding that this pastor wishes to place on Dotti is a bit less generous than described. There may be side-effects we're not being told about.
No. 1073607 ID: 273c18

Erm, before putting it on to test it, can Landi or Rae tell what it does by examining it?
No. 1073622 ID: a7a180

Hold on. If Dotti is to be restrained, even for her safety, the key should be held by someone she trusts, who trusts her in return. Unless you'd like to engage in trust building exercises immediately, father, Raelynn should be able to undo the bindings as well. She understands the gravity of the subject.
No. 1073683 ID: fb8a42
File 169613291682.png - (16.17KB , 396x500 , LF7 39.png )

“Dotti, please wait a moment. This is quite novel,” I say, my instincts kicking in as well as my curiosity. “From a scientific perspective, I haven’t the faintest idea of how that binding might affect a fox spirit, even one as comfortable and well-grounded in the physical realm as you. As much as a great show of trust that would be, Dotti, I think we all would benefit from a quick explanation.”

“I warned you, Pastor,” the mayor says, his smile broadening to impossible levels, and at this point, I get the feeling he’s not speaking for my benefit- he’s enjoying the chance to talk back to the Church. “Lady Kensington has earned her reputation as quite the alchemist. As if the dragon wasn’t enough to convince you.”

“Hmf.” Pastor Pryce shoots Mayor Dumas a sharp glance. He stands up and hefts the holy symbol. “Very well. This has been blessed by the Church to ensure that its wearer shall neither draw upon spiritual energies from the beyond, nor shall its wearer expel or manipulate the same in this realm. It would have no effect on mages, dragons, or fae that do not cast divine spells or otherwise utilize spiritual energies. I doubt any of you are among the faithful, but it would take exceptional devotion to overcome its seal if you were.”

“That sounds pretty friggin’ bad to a fox spirit, Pastor,” Landi says. She flits over to him and examines the holy symbol closely, and the Pastor does not object. She flies over to me and grumbles. “Thing gives off an aura like a wad of boa constrictors. Not comfy. Doesn’t feel like it’s meant to control, but it’s a tight wad of binding. I’d feel suffocated wearing that thing even if I wasn’t Dotti.”

I know very little about what would happen if Dotti were to be cut off from the spiritual realm. It can’t be anything good.

“Dotti is a spirit,” I say. “If you cut her off from her source of power, it is easy to imagine that she would suffer harm. Will she, in any way, shape or form?”

“If she does not reconnect to the spiritual realm within a few days, it would be similar to a human’s starvation, for lack of a better analogy,” Pastor Pryce says. “Her mind would be unaffected by the removal of the connection; she will not suffer cognitive decay, if that is your concern. The metaphysical details are quite complicated, but analogizing it to hunger is accurate enough. Do you plan on staying that long?”

Dotti’s eyes go wide. She races back to me and hides under my skirts.

“I refuse to allow my companion to be placed under threat of starvation, with only you and Father Forthill the ones to remove the binding,” I say. “Not only that, I’d like to test its safety. Hand me the symbol, if you please.” I say. “Hand me the symbol, if you please."

Pastor Pryce hands it to me and
No. 1073684 ID: fb8a42
File 169613293741.png - (30.26KB , 400x400 , LF7 40.png )






No. 1073685 ID: e97e9c

I choose Taranis. Since hes in charge of spirits, lets help him.
No. 1073686 ID: a7a180

No. 1073687 ID: 4481aa

Taranis can't influence the conversation, Rae is sick, and Dotti's very being is enough of a deterrent to meeting with Petra, so having us following her won't improve things.

The choice then is really between Kayk and Landi. I love Kayk, but I think Landi is the much more obvious choice between them right now.
No. 1073692 ID: 12b116

Landi, she's right here and can speak freely. We really need more specifics here. Landi should ask Serah for some details on this thing and if she can figure out if it'll hurt Dotti
No. 1073693 ID: e5709d

Taranis. If anyone can filch a small fail-deadly artifact off the entity it's cursing, it's him.
No. 1073696 ID: 273c18


So as not to waste the update, this is a suggestion:
We need to amend the agreement so that Dotti doesn't feel at risk. Landi should be able to use her skill at writing contracts to arbitrate, maybe even write up a binding agreement so that, for starters, Dotti will be released from the symbol's power if she leaves the city limits. That way if something dreadful happens to the people that can take it off, or Dotti in some other way can't reach them, there is an option to simply escape. Optimally the symbol would also lose its power if Dotti is inside one of those fancy magic circles that were mentioned. It's safe for her to use her power in those anyway!
No. 1073756 ID: fb8a42
File 169619929399.png - (60.41KB , 500x500 , LF7 41.png )

You get the weirdest feeling for a moment, like somebody’s watching from behind your wings, but it passes. That was odd.

What’s odder is how FUCKING secretive these Church dudes are. Like, really? Swearing Serah to secrecy for something that Dotti already knew, that Petra was here? And that she’s apparently soul-damaged and that’s, like, super secret and requires really dangerous wards for Dotti’s protection? Like, let’s be real, your crew of Fae are pretty cagey too, ‘specially ‘bout true names, but, like, these guys are about to give you a run for your money here.

Serah’s wearing the souped-up spirit-magic-sealing holy symbol and it’s thrumming with divine power, so much so that your wingtips are tingling. When the thing activated, the aura was so strong it was like a giant gate slammed down in front of you, dazing you for a moment and deadening the echoes of Serah’s empathic connection. The connection is there, and it recovers swiftly, but the sheer force of that amulet activating was enough to slow down the stream of power between you and her. Maybe it’s because of the clause that allows you to siphon her core mana? Like, that and her soul are different things; core mana is generated from her soul, and her soul is unaffected by the contract, except for the Fate is My Bitch clause, which shields Serah from divine predestination and meddling affairs of the Gods and Goddesses, but even that doesn’t, like, DO anything to her soul, it’s more like electing to opt-out of the gods’ marketing mailer, or so your professor explained to your that one day in ways you could understand. As long as the contract is active, Serah’s continued to opt-out, and the amulet hasn’t (and can’t) affect THAT, you can still sense it and the rest of the contract’s magic being active.

All this thinking is hard, and it’s taking a toll on your socializing. Mayor Dumas seems like a pretty chill guy. Can you vote for him? He’s earned it. He’s not the real one in charge, though, that’s Pastor Pryce (and Father Forthill above him). The Churchy Guys are NOT worth voting for, they have sticks up their butts even bigger than Jekesson’s was, and he was a friggin’ paladin.

“Are you well, Lady Kensington?” Mayor Dumas asks.

“This symbols feels… stifling.” Serah takes a breath to steady herself. The holy symbol’s string of beads has shrunken and constricted around her neck. “The world feels smaller. Like I’m about to bump into something at any moment, even when there’s nothing beside me.”

“Spiritual containment,” Pastor Pryce says. “You, and Dotti, will acclimate.”

“Landi?” Serah whispers. “Can you tell how this is affecting me?”

You close your eyes and reach out with your senses. There are fairies out there who know how to put these feelings into words a lot beter, and ones way better at picking out fine details too. You’re just you, unfortunately. But Serah is your companion, and she needs you so you’ll try your fucking best ‘cause she needs the best you got.

“You’re not being mind-controlled or dominated,” you say. “That’s for sure. It’s like they put your soul in a straightjacket and then sealed you up in a coffin lined with lead and buried you ten feet under. Nothing spiritual goes in, nothing spiritual comes out. Except… except for the tunnel we have through all the lead and dirt and coffin with the adventuring contract. I can feel your aura through that snorkel we poked all the way down there.”

“How morbid,” Serah says, shivering. “Why did you phrase it like that?”

“It’s the first thing that came to mind. It felt right.”

“Give me a moment to acclimate,” Serah says to Pastor Pryce. “Please. I’d like to know what Dotti would be feeling.”

“By all means,” the Pastor says.

“Pastor, what do you say to inviting our guests in for a meal?” says the Mayor. “They’ve traveled far.”

“In a moment,” the Pastor says, brushing the Mayor’s proposal aside. “This is important.”

You flit onto Serah’s shoulder and lean into her neck. You reach out through the connection and think happy, warm thoughts. It seems to work as the tension in Serah’s neck relaxes a bit. You flit down to the hem of Serah’s skirts and lift up the edge where there’s a snout-shaped indentation.

“Hey, there, Dotster. You doing okay?”

“He said he wanted to starve me,” Dotti says.

“I won’t let that happen,” you say forcefully. “No way. You’re dumb and rude and deserve to be punished sometimes, but fuck, I will pluck out that dude’s eyelashes one by one if he stops you from eating. You got that?”

“That thing is scary,” Dotti whimpers.

“Hey,” you say. “We’ve been through a lot. We’re contract buddies. That means no matter what happens, we’re connected. It’s not spiritual magic. It’s even better than that, it’s fae magic. My people’s magic. So these jerks can’t break it. I’ll figure out a way to keep you fed using my awesome fairy skills, okay? And if that doesn’t work, I’ll call my friends. And you-know-who.”

You’re really not sure you can bootstrap a way to keep a fox spirit spiritually infused using a contract for services, but dammit, you’ll try if that’s what it comes to.

“Pastor,” Serah says, “This whole experience is quite unsettling.” She attepmpts to take off the holy symbol, but its shrunken string of beads tightens around her neck even further. “Only you and Father Forthill may remove this? I would be much more comfortable if you would trust my judgment and allow me to remove it from Dotti’s neck in an emergency.”

“I’m sorry, but the restriction is necessary as long as Dorothea is considering visiting Petra, to prevent her from causing disturbances in the spiritual realm. This symbol will ensure the safety of Petra, but also Giornico. That is all I am at liberty to say.”

“But surely,” Serah says, “You can agree that it would be wise to include a safeguard to allow removal. For example, if Dotti leaves Giornico before being able to see you or Father Forthill.”

“I agree that there are some situations where it would be wise to remove the seal without my help, but I cannot risk authorizing it. Still, if you must know, other Censors of enough skill and faith should be able to remove the seal.”

“Such as Brother Pierre?”

“While Pierre has taken some vows, he is not an ordained member of the Clergy, and cannot deliver sacraments. He may not remove this seal.”

Wait, what?

May not?

Years of fae exact-words reflexes kick in like a shot of adrenaline. That was NOT what Serah asked. Serah asked if Pierre was ABLE to remove the seal, not whether he had the PERMISSIVE AUTHORITY.

Brother Pierre is special for some reason. Between that and how nervous Mother Mabel acted when you were around him, it’s dead certain.

At the same time, something tickles in the back of your mind. An old lecture from Fairy College. All this talking is jogging your memory you buried under years of partying, refreshed by the absolute shame of being outdone by Ellie every single time you tried to be actually fucking helpful.

“I have an idea!” you tell the group. “An aleatory contract! It only kicks in if certain conditions are met, but I can whip something up that’ll keep you from taking the seal off unless it’s a real emergency.”

“Would that satisfy your concerns?” Serah asks.

With great reluctance, Pastor Pryce nods.

1. Who has emergency powers to take off the holy symbol?
2. Under what conditions do you propose allowing others (or Dotti) to take off the symbol?
3. Do you tell Serah about Brother Pierre RIGHT NOW? It will make you feel VERY SMART.

No. 1073760 ID: e51896

I'll consider stuff for 1 and 2 later, or let other suggesters decide for me

but for 3. talking about Brother Pierre could wait until after we manage to get the censors out of listening range... unless we can figure out a way to talk to Serah alone right now.
No. 1073766 ID: 8f9bc4

1. I'd grant Serah those emergency powers, but anyone who does get them can be (in theory) restrained from reaching Dotti, either by imprisoning Dotti or Serah, which you know they're gonna try to do. Kayk won't tolerate much, but given a hostage situation there's not much even she can do.

So give Kayk the emergency powers. I'd like to see them try to take her hostage!

2. The conditions could be that Dotti is a mile or more away from the city limits, which again doesn't address the getting foxnapped issue, but if Dotti's trapped in a cage next to Petra, removing the symbol could hurt Petra which none of us want to happen. Anyone have any ideas how to account for a hostage fox?

3. Pff as if you don't already know you are very smart. Right now the aleatory contract is most important. Serah will totally be impressed when you tell her in secret.
No. 1073772 ID: e5709d

1) If the Horrors arrive, then the ward immediately breaks. Dotti has the most experience killing these psychos.
2) If Petra demands that Dotti merge with her, and Dotti agrees, then it breaks.
3) The ward can be removed if Dotti is at least 5 miles away from Petra.
No. 1073776 ID: 273c18

1: Serah and Rae. Or maybe just Rae. Rae and Dotti work fairly well together since they're both ranged, so in combat they'll be nearby. Serah will be close by Dotti at most times so she has the most opportunity outside of a fight, but in a fight she'll be busy. Maybe you as well since you're not directly useful in a fight and you can get close to Dotti fairly quickly by flying?
2: Active combat situation, or when Dotti is in danger of being permanently harmed from the symbol's effects. Let's say within 12 hours of there being risk of permanent damage, in case there's a curfew or something ridiculous like that preventing her from getting to someone.

3: don't tell her immediately. Do it after the contract is done; you might piss off the Pastor by spilling the secret and it needs to be set in stone so he can't make it worse while he's angry.
No. 1073880 ID: a7a180

1. Emergency powers: Rae, Archibeard, Giornico censors, or other censors if a member of the Giornico clergy is not available. Serah needs to leave the final judgment call to parties either well versed in spiritual matters or without an overwhelming emotional attachment to Dotti, but who still can be utterly trusted.
2. When harm (injury to Dotti from starvation, magics, physical or mental trauma) is imminent to Dotti. Near the end of the projected starvation period, Dotti may remove it herself.
3. No, then they'll be extra sure to keep him away from you. He has the skill, but not the authority to break the seal.
No. 1074156 ID: b6ec4d

Alright, let's break this down.

> 1. Who has emergency powers to take off the holy symbol?

Barring "Anyone, under the right circumstances", here are the big ones:

-Serah (Obvious reasons)
-Landi (She may sense threats before anyone else, due to her magic)
-Kayk (In the event of any unprecedented disasters, Kayk has the highest probability of survival. Plus, as an employer of Dotti, she naturally deserves to be trusted with Dotti's well-being)

I would also pitch for Dotti as much as you can, but I have a feeling that this may be a tough sell for them. If nothing else, you may need to set her removing it under alternative conditions.

I don't see an issue with Pastor Pryce and Father Forthill being able to take it off either, as originally was intended.

> 2. Under what conditions do you propose allowing others (or Dotti) to take off the symbol?

Preferably, something broad would be best. Something like: "If the safety and/or well-being of Dotti and/or others is being compromised by this symbol."

Frankly, I think it is fine to assume nobody will abuse this, but I'll make two concessions to appease the pushback we may get:

"So long as 4 of the individuals permitted to remove this symbol, while of sound mind and body, disagree with removing the symbol, it may not be removed."

Assuming Pastor Pryce and Father Forthill are always opposed, any other pairing could veto removing the symbol. Serah and Landi, Kayk and Dotti, etc. Additionally, you could add:

"The symbol may not be removed by anyone under the belief that doing so would cause a greater amount of harm than would be experienced by the symbol remaining on."

I'm not a big fan of this one, but I think the pastors would be. Basically, it rules out the possibility that anyone will remove the collar because Dotti is in pain, at a time where they understand that Petra would be placed under a greater amount of pain if Dotti's was alleviated. Basically, if the precautions fail, and bad stuff starts happening, we can't throw Petra under the bus to make sure that Dotti is fine.

> 3. Do you tell Serah about Brother Pierre RIGHT NOW? It will make you feel VERY SMART.

Yes, but whisper it to Serah. Don't just blurt it out in front of everyone. Serah can do with that information what she feels is right, and negotiate the contract differently as a result.
No. 1074223 ID: fb8a42
File 169670406812.png - (85.25KB , 500x500 , LF7 42.png )

“One contract, comin’ up!”

You whip out your trusty auto-writing quill and fae-grade parchment, guaranteed to resist coffee spills and never smear ink no matter how determined the parties are to mess up a beautifully drafted agreement. You lean in toward Serah and let her see the basic template for an Aleatory contract the quill is dutifully scribbling. These terms won’t change; it’s the triggers for the contract to activate that will matter, and what happens when it does.

While Serah’s next to you, you have the PERFECT chance to show how SMART you are. You probably shouldn’t blab about Brother Pierre, not yet. There’s time to tell Serah later about your awesome deduction that Pierre has the ability to remove Dotti’s seal, but not the authority to do so. Which is pretty friggin’ weird since he’s not an ordained priesty dude, just one of their… assistants? It’s not clear what exactly he does other than math and statistics and have superb common sense about how to treat dragons.

But UGHHHHHHHH this is so JUICY and Serah was totally about to DITCH YOU, this is IMPORTANT! Dotti needs to know Serah knows you’re SMART and WORTH KEEPING AROUND! You have to tell Serah NOW because it’s IMPORTANT to STAY WITH SERAH AND…

Serah already knows you’re helpful. She DID stroke your ego in front of Dotti after you helped make that shrink bomb…

You resist blurting out the secret in excitement, but just barely. Barely. Instead, you whisper it to Serah.

“Brother Pierre is special,” you whisper ever so softly into Serah’s ear. “He can remove the seal, somehow.”

Serah raises an eyebrow and gives a subtle nod. Rae’s ear twitches even though she’s like four meters away and suffering from cat scratch fever. Damn, she’s spooky sometimes.

“So, like,” you say, louder for everyone now, “Nobody wants Dotti to, like, starve. That’s bad. So we gotta have language allowing Dotti to take off the seal if she’s running low on spirit juice.”

“I agree that this seal should be removable if Dorothea is suffering from the effects of starvation, but I disagree that she should be the one to remove the seal,” Pastor Pryce says. “The only reason I am agreeing to a conditional release of the seal is if there are objective standards under which it will be removed by someone other than me Father Forthill. Dorothea’s own subjective standards are flexible.”

“I trust Dotti to know when she is starving,” Serah says. “Do you?”

“I do,” Pastor Pryce nods, “But ‘starving’ can mean many things, and one person can convince themselves that they are feeling the effects of physical or spiritual ailments without actually doing so. I do not want to induce psychosomatic symptoms in Dorothea simply because she unconsciously realizes that doing so will allow her to take off the seal. That would be cruel.”

Dotti gekkers in anger from under Serah’s skirts.

“Dotti, don’t worry,” Serah says. “Even if you disagree with Dotti having the ability to remove the seal, Surely Pastor Pryce agrees that my judgment would not be so affected. And as your employer in a high-stress environment, Kayk knows your physical and mental limits and habits. Landi is also attuned to many forms of magic and quite familiar with you and your spirit. Raelynn and her animal companion, Taranis, know the signs of a distressed fox. All of us should have the ability to remove the seal if Dotti is adversely affected by it.”

“I cannot delegate my solemn duty to protect the spiritual well-being of Giornico to any but those with authority and responsibility to respect such duty,” Pastor Pryce says firmly. “Lady Kensington, you are the only such person I would trust to understand the solemnity and importance of it.”

“Pastor.” Kayk’s voice rumbles. The mayor’s crowd and even Pastor Pryce stumble backward, not expecting her to speak; they might not even know she could. Kayk cranes her neck forward. “Are you questioning my intelligence?”

“No,” Pastor Pryce says, but only after clearing his throat. “I would never. I only ask, respectfully, that you consider the limits of what I am allowed to delegate.”

“You will not take my waitress from me,” Kayk booms.

Mayor Dumas shoots a what-the-fuck-are-you-doing-sir look at Pastor Pryce. Pryce shuffles his feet and grits his teeth.

“Very well. Your Magnificence shall also have the authority to remove Dorothea’s seal, if certain conditions are met.”

You and Serah try your best to convince the Pastor that anyone should be able to remove Dotti’s seal if she’s, you know, fucking starving, but he doesn’t budge; he can’t delegate his authority so broadly.

As such, the conditions Serah is able to negotiate from Pastor Pryce are:

1. Serah or Kayk have may remove Dotti’s seal if any of the conditions of subsection 2 are met. If there is dispute over whether the conditions have been met, then the interpretation shall be provided in the context of a reasonable observer skilled in the art of determining spiritual well-being.
2(a): The presence of the Airceacháin is detected;
2(b): Dorothea has been removed from the physical lands within Giornico’s jurisdiction, including airspace above, for more than twenty-four hours, and Dorothea does not intend to return to Giornico for more than one calendar month;
2(c): Dorothea is both (i) currently suffering from spiritual deprivation to the degree where she is at risk of permanent spiritual or cognitive harm, and (ii) such harm cannot be avoid except by removing Dorothea’s seal; or
2(d): The physical safety of a Giornico resident is in clear and present danger of severe harm, and such severe harm cannot be prevented unless Dorothea’s seal is removed.

“Why physical?” you ask. “Couldn’t Dotti use her mind powers or illusion powers to stop somebody from, like, having their soul gobbled?”

“Using spiritual powers in Giornico to save a wounded soul would be the equivalent of fighting fire with fire,” Pastor Pryce says. “It would be a grave mistake.”

Before you ask Pastor Pryce, Kayk and Serah to sign the contract, you flit up to Serah’s ear and ask her how she’s feeling wearing the seal. She says she’s feeling similarly to how she was a few minutes ago, but it’s always good to ask.

Are these contract conditions acceptable?
1. Yes
2. No
No. 1074224 ID: a7a180

2a would be easier for Rae to detect. Add her to the list and that will be acceptable.
No. 1074225 ID: 273c18

1, with a minor change to 2c. "at risk" should be "will be at risk within the next hour". We need a little wiggle room.
No. 1074227 ID: dd3fe0

Ugh, this guy actually believes in the 'don't ever fight fire with fire' statement? In both the literal meaning, like with backburns and wildfires, and the implied meaning of 'don't ever meet aggression with aggression', like with aggressive medical treatments or sociopolitical movements in which aggression is necessary for meaningful positive change, it's not always true. These damn black and white fanatics can't see any nuance in the world! Though antagonizing this Pastor Pryce further might have to wait for another time...
No. 1074242 ID: b6ec4d

> ...then the interpretation shall be provided in the context of a reasonable observer skilled in the art of determining spiritual well-being.

I'd like to clarify this point a bit to determine if anybody in our party might qualify for this. If any dispute over a condition being met can only be accepted or rejected by a member of the church, then we return to the original matter of not being able to remove the symbol without their approval.

If Landi does not qualify, then might I suggest as a bit of an out there option: Salt. Landi has sworn an oath to her, and as a Great Djinn I would assert that she has more punditry here than any member of Pryce's church. Could appeals to her wisdom be added into the contract as a safeguard?

Also, on point 2d, doesn't specifying "Giornico resident" rule out the possibility of removing the collar because a member of the party is in danger? The exclusion doesn't sound so bad, until you remember that Dotti is also a member of the party, meaning she could be clearly threatened with physical harm without triggering any conditions for the symbol to be removed, given that 2c only specifies spiritual exhaustion.

As currently written out, the contract is mostly fine; however, you desperately need to specify acceptable observers to ensure the contract is doing its job, and it would be really nice to broaden the terminology of 2d slightly.
No. 1074268 ID: fb8a42
File 169671885892.png - (14.33KB , 512x420 , LF7 43.png )

“I have a few questions and changes,” Serah says. “First, I would like clarification of if the Church’s intent is for only Church members to resolve disputes. A ‘reasonable observer skilled in the art of determining spiritual well-being’ sounds like a member of the clergy, but what about others? Who fits that criterion?”

“If they’re reasonable, and have enough familiarity with spirits and spiritual health to determine what a healthy spirit is when compared with an afflicted one, then they should be able to resolve a dispute,” Pastor Pryce says.

“I hang around healthy spirits all day. Like, right now,” you say. “I can feel when somebody’s not quite right, you know? I helped with a lizard dude whose mind got wiped, and I could tell he was, uh, afflicted. It was a mind problem, but if I twitch my wings the other way, I can pick up on spirits like Dotti too.”

“Landi should be able to resolve disputes, then,” Serah says.

“I hardly think knowing which way to tilt a pair of wings qualifies,” Pastor Pryce says. “Are you trained, Landi?”

“I went to Fairy College!”

Pastor Pryce sighs. “That is hardly reassuring.”

“Well, I’ve got someone super smart and knows lots,” you say. “My patron Djinn is the Lady of Brine and Blood. I can call on her to sort things out!”

“Ah,” Pastor Pryce rubs his neck. “She’s… not exactly who I had in mind. Would you say she’s, ah, reasonable?”

“Reasonable enough to tell when Dotti’s starving,” you say. “She’s not technically a spirit, that’s a common misconception, she’s a manifestation of elemental forces held together by stuff left over from when some gods boinked a few thousand years ago. You wanna see if she’s game to referee our contract? I can call her up and she’ll be right over.“

“There’s no need for that,” Pastor Pryce says. “If there is a dispute over whether Dotti is starving or in pain, I have no quarrel with your expertise overruling lesser-trained clergy who are not familiar with Dorothea.”

Serah shrugs. Guess that’s as good as we get? You can still threaten to call Big Sodium over this no matter what happens. You’re feeling pretty confident about your relationship with her after getting Rae, a badass warrior elf, to start seeing a priestess of peace. That tickled her pinker n’ her bikini.

“As for the physical safety clause,” Serah says, “Why is it only Giornico residents? Dotti should be able to defend herself if she’s attacked.”

“I will not budge on this issue,” Pastor Pryce says. “My priority is the safety of my flock. Dorothea has your honor guard and a dragon to defend herself. Father Forthill will have my frock if I tell him I’ve allowed a fae to manipulate a contract’s wording to, somehow, allow an inter-party fight between a fox spirit and a fairy to somehow spiral into a reason to remove Dorothea’s bindings.”

“We don’t fight! Uh, physically,” you declare, but your big mouth has lost you that one and you know it.

“Very well,” Serah sighs. “Finally, I don’t want Dotti to be suffering in order to invoke the starvation clause. I’d like it to be certain to happen soon, perhaps an hour in advance.”

“Accepted,” Pastor Pryce says. “I, too, would like to avoid Dorothea reaching that point. One hour is sufficient, and no one need calculate it down to that point. An estimate is fine.”

Serah, Pastor Pryce, Kayk (via claw) and Dotti (via pawprint) sign the contract. Pastor Pryce undoes the seal from Serah, and Dotti whimpers as he knees down to hold it to her.

“We’ll bring you to Petra as soon as we can. Just a little more patience,” Pastor Pryce says. “If you’re hurting at any point while wearing this, please let me or any of us know. We’ll help, I promise. I know it won’t be easy without your magic to communicate, but we’ll do our best. We’ll treat you with the best food and shelter we have.”

“I don’t care,” Dotti says. “I can scratch words on paper or dirt with my claws if I have to. And just so you know, every time I bat my paw at you, I’ll be telling you to take me to Petra!”

Serah puts her hand on Dotti’s back. Dotti nods and allows the Pastor to place the seal on her, locking away her powers and connection to the spiritual realm. She shivers and lets out a high, shrill whine, but bears the shock with a stiff expression. Pastor Pryce can’t help but wipe his brow after that, visibly relaxing.

“Now that we’ve covered the formalities,” Mayor Dumas says, distaste in his voice, “Our Manor is at your disposal, Miss Dotti. It’s quite humble by Kensington standards, but if you’ve been living as adventurers, our luxuries can certainly do better than that. I’ve asked a few of my attendants to propose things you might enjoy while you wait to meet with Petra. Please nod, shake your head or make whatever gestures you think appropriate to let them know if you’d like to partake.”

What activities do Mayor Dumas’ servants propose to pamper Dotti with?
No. 1074271 ID: a7a180

Baths and grooming, pheasant hunting, and courtly music.
No. 1074272 ID: b6ec4d

Meat. Lots of meat.
No. 1074274 ID: e51896

Dress Dotti up in some unnecessary clothing made for dogs.
No. 1074275 ID: 0b594e

Brush that floof!
Also the best snacks and the plushest pillow.
No. 1074276 ID: 273c18

Lots of pets and belly rubs. Delicious foods of various types. A careful grooming.
No. 1074281 ID: b57fea

Obviously we're offering diced and honeyed meats from the larder! Lamb, Steak, and Pork! An appropriate fox sized portion of fine sparkling wine is of course also to be offered.
No. 1074287 ID: 12b116

she clearly needs toebean massage and her nails did.
No. 1074309 ID: dd3fe0

Music! Of various varieties, but all pleasant to listen to!

Engaging scents, with a very wide variety of methods of distribution: incense (both the burned and the merely heated types), perfumes, essential oils, potpourri, even modern scented candles of all varieties for her to choose from and enjoy!

And less 'pets and belly rubs', but more 'specialized grooming, with dedicated tools', and 'a massage by someone trained to do so who is familiar with canid anatomy' (granted, it is for keeping hunting hounds from limping or injury, but the skills transfer).
No. 1074331 ID: fb8a42
File 169680493983.png - (27.89KB , 500x571 , LF7 44.png )

“Lady Kensington. Miss Dorothea,” a serving boy says. “We offer our services, such as they are. My sister works with the huntmaster. She’s brought her brushes, clippers and nail files. I can see you have some branches and burrs in your fur, Miss Dotti; she’d be happy to help you freshen up.”

Dotti sniffs the air and points her paw around the back of the manor.

“Ah,” the serving boy nods. “We also have food prepared in back, if you’d like.”

Dotti cocks her head to one side and taps the ground twice. The serving boy doesn’t quite understand what that means, but you immediately get it.

“She wants both at once,” you declare, and Dotti nods. “Pamper and prim at the same time!”

You, Dotti, Serah, Rae and Kayk make the trek to the Manor’s grassy reception, with lawn furniture and tables already set up to accommodate enough space for a dragon. More importantly, there are tiny staircases made of stools of increasing height next to every table, making them all fox-accessible.

These guys have thought ahead.

A string quartet is set up and playing chamber music. The acoustics aren’t really the greatest for outdoors, but the mere fact that Giornico has musicians at all is pretty cool.

Dotti’s strained expression melts away as she spies the meats laid out for everyone to choose from. On one end, there are fox-sized portions of shimmering, honey-glazed ham alongside a variety of seasoned game hens and candied pork belly. Wineglasses are set up and waiting to be filled. On the far end, closest to the field, there are entire sides of beef being kept warm over a low fire. There is no chocolate in sight.

Now this is a party!

The serving boy gestures to the seat of honor at the end of the long table: an unadorned blue pillow. He apologizes, saying they had to choose between the most comfortable pillow and the fanciest pillow, and he’s happy to swap them out if she pleases.

Dotti shakes her head in the negative. She looks at the table, and then at the plates, and does some mental math. She mimes eating, sweeps the ground with her tail, and points at the table with her paw.

“Oh! I know this one!” you declare. “Dotti’s a food service professional, you know. She’s not gonna get fox fur all over the table while she’s being brushed and nails trimmed. Can you take the pillow and set it to the side, you know, on a smaller table so she has her own station?”

The serving boy rushes to get a side table, slightly embarrassed to not have seen that issue already. Wow, it would really suck to have a party and not be able to talk during it…

“Want me to be your interpreter?” you offer. Dotti looks up at you and gives a thankful nod. “Awesome!”


When the serving boy’s sister is done primping Dotti up, she looks so fuckin’ floofy it’s unbearable. Dotti hesitantly allows a pedicure and paw massage, with a tiny bow tied to each leg once it’s all over. Any bits of food she drops on her coat just slide right off, it’s practically a force field it’s so clean.

Serah is talking with Mayor Dumas about some stuff that probably doesn’t matter because it’s not pampering Dotti. Kayk is keeping a close eye on Pastor Pryce while chowing down. Rae is hardly touching her food but forcing herself to eat, looking a little queasy. You think you spy Taranis perching atop the Manor’s spire, but it’s hard to see from here.

Pastor Pryce is staying as far from Dotti as he can. Every time he wanders near Dotti’s end of the table, she bats her paw at him; as Dotti has already established what this means, you dutifully command him to take Dotti to Petra. Pastor Pryce is forced to apologize and say he’s not quite ready yet, but he will take Dotti and the team once he confirms with Father Forthill that things are set. The cycle of wandering and paw-batting and demanding continues, and it’s kind of fun to watch him squirm.

In between cycles of Dotti paw-batting, sampling new and tasty food, and some more light pampering and foot massaging, you remember Dotti’s preparations for today. She was practicing so hard to get her human transformation right, and now this stupid seal blocks her powers from trying it. The Pastor said he would be willing to set up a special containment circle for Dotti to take off the holy symbol and try transforming using only mana potions instead of her own mana source from the spiritual realm, so it’s an option you can bring up to Dotti if you want.

“Hey, Dotster,” you whisper. “You look great. Just let me know if you want to try the sealy-circle thing for transforming. Dunno how many mana potions it’ll take, but I’ve got an okay amount in my inventory.”

Dotti pauses, considers, and shakes her head in the negative.

“Okay,” you say. “Lemme know if you want to try. Petra knows you as a fox, and you look really good, so that’s probably smart. I’ve got your clothes in my inventory if you want to try it. Hey, did you bring any gifts for Petra?”

Dotti’s eyes go wide. She leaps up off her pillow and the serving girl gets nervous for a second, but Dotti doesn’t care. She looks at you and points at the serving girl’s smock, then points at you.

“You want your smock out of my inventory?”

Dotti nods.

You carefully take out the smock and place it on the ground. Dotti frantically sniffs the smock, digging through it and gets a look of relief on her face when she pulls out…

A stick of jerky?

“Uh,” you say, “There’s lots of better food here, you know.”

Dotti shakes her head and puts the jerky back into the pocket, giving you a look of grave solemnity.

“Okay, then. Jerky is important for some reason. I’ll make sure I keep your smock and the jerky in my inventory.”

Dotti nods, and you place both back inside. You glance at your wine glass, and it’s mostly empty. For some reason you haven’t been drinking as much as you’d like to, but maybe that’s okay. This isn’t really your party. It’s Dotti’s.

As the party winds down and sundown approaches, Pastor Pryce disappears into the Manor for a few minutes and comes back out.

“She’s ready,” the Pastor says. “She knows you’ll be coming, Dorothea. We didn’t want to surprise her. Please, if you could convince Kayk to follow behind the wagons instead of flying, it would be appreciated.”

Dotti, vibrating with excitement, leaps off her pillow and bounds toward the Pastor. He gestures to two horse-drawn wagons with benches and hanging lanterns. It’s no carriage, but it’ll do.

You flit over to Serah, who whispers that she tried to learn more about Petra and what exactly we’re getting ourselves into here and where we’re going, but the Mayor said he’d like to respect Petra’s privacy and the Church’s jurisdiction over her security, so he declined to say anything but “she lives in a cottage far from other plots of land, but in Giornico.”

You have a few minutes before the party sets out to meet Petra.

Suggest any preparations you like, including whether you attempt to switch POVs. This will require a 75% supermajority.

No. 1074332 ID: b6ec4d

Might suggest more preparations later, but I want to get in early to suggest swapping back to Serah's POV.
No. 1074333 ID: a7a180

No magical preparations seem appropriate given the spiritual containment zone. Have any items that you need ready access to, including the smock and a smoke bomb or something, outside of magic inventory and on somebody's person.
Let's switch back to Serah now.
No. 1074346 ID: e51896

I might be over thinking things, but...

Preperations: thinking ahead, considering how cautious the censors are with spirits being near Petra. I have a feeling they are going to use the spirit detector again on the adventuring party one more time, as It could be that they don't want us suggestors as spirits to be anywhere near Petra as we might somehow mess with her just by being near her and suggesting, and whoever we are with might not be able to go in with everyone if it goes off even a little. I say to prepare for that, lets switch over to Taranis. That way, if something happens, he can stand gaurd outside, and we can even suggest to our crow buddy to fetch Pierre if we find out things are going wrong for Dotti and we need to remove the necklace.
No. 1074447 ID: b0f0f5

Switch back to Serah
No. 1074702 ID: fb8a42
File 169725249376.png - (14.96KB , 628x436 , LF7 45.png )

Mayor Dumas won’t be joining us; instead, it’s just Pastor Pryce and four other members of the clergy, each carrying holy symbols. One of them looks to be Mother Mabel, but she isn’t in a mood to chat.

You don’t know what kinds of protections are around Petra’s home, so it’s better safe than sorry. You pull Dotti’s smock from your inventory, her jerky, and a some health and mana potions just in case. No bombs or spell distillations- that would be awkward to explain. Serah’s warhammer and armor will have to stay in your inventory for the same reasons.

The ride is long and slow and boring, but Dotti doesn’t care. She’s quivering on her pillowed wagon seat and sniffing the air excitedly as you all trudge along the dirt path through the farmlands of Giornico. The sun begins to dip below the valley crest; the farmhands are all headed home.

“Hey Serah,” you whisper. “Were you thinking of going out tomorrow and finding some Farm Bois? Maybe live out your fantasy and roll around in the hay? Huh? Huh? Grab a big hunky man and his big hunk of-


“Landi!” I hiss. “There are censors five feet away!”

She must never know I was daydreaming about just that. It’s a long cart ride, I can think what I want!

We near the a gladed grove, nestled between a rocky intersection of two valley walls. It’s a naturally defensible location, with a view down into the valley, while also being well-shaded and camouflaged by trees along the path upwards.

A two-story house and a small cottage are at the end of the path, both with windows dancing of candle-light. Shadowed silhouettes peek out from behind the curtains of the house, but there’s no movement from the cottage. The symbol of the censors is engraved on the door.

Dotti is squirming and whining, staring right at the cottage. She looks at me and we both know.

This is it.

“She should be done with dinner by now,” Pastor Pryce says. “Petra knows we’re coming, but I’m not sure if she’s fully prepared. Dotti, would you mind if we heck with her family?”

Dotti looks up at Pastor Pryce and whines in protest.

“Her family?” I ask.

I look at the house again. Now that I think about it, the silhouettes are short. Like children, or teenagers at best. They’re peeping through the windows, staring at Kayk.

I have two decisions to make.

1. Do I recommend that Dotti meet Petra’s family first, or let her complete her quest right now?
2. Do I ask Kayk to remain in full-size dragon form, or transform to her lizardfolk form and join us inside?

No. 1074704 ID: b6ec4d

1: Meet the family. It'll give you an idea of what you're in for, and it'll let Dotti see the impact she's had on those closest to Petra by saving her.

2: Have Kayk transform, so that she can be right there for Dotti if this doesn't go as happily as you'd like.
No. 1074705 ID: 97b61e

If kayk transforms, be sure she hides somewhere first for privacy to get properly dressed for the censors (make sure her top and bottoms are covered. Formal dress is the safest option)
No. 1074724 ID: a7a180

Meet with the family first.
Kayk, remain in dragon form. There are windows, the threat level is unknown, and this place is in an unusually secure area for a typical family home. Also, the kids will think it's cool.
No. 1074726 ID: 273c18

1, follow his advice. Maybe it'll lower Dotti's energy level so she won't be 150% excited when Petra shows up and only 100% excited.
2, kayk can stay outside, and keep watch. If things go REALLY tits-up she can use her large form to smash whatever needs to be smashed (like for instance, dismantling part of a house to create an extra exit) and her dragonfire should be more useful outdoors too.
No. 1074759 ID: fb8a42
File 169732340198.png - (43.38KB , 800x500 , LF7 46.png )

“It’s good manners to introduce ourselves to the household,” I say to Dotti. “Petra would probably love it if you met her family.”

Dotti whines again, staring at the cottage, but relents and allows herself to be torn away to the front door of the house.

Rae hops off the cart, glancing into the air where I assume Taranis is still circling. He and Rae can communicate with their spell, and he will let us know if we were followed up or are having any additional guests. She wobbles a bit unsteadily, and I realize she’s been powering through almost the entire day with no rest beyond a feast/party, which is hardly a break for an elf as introverted as her.

Pastor Pryce knocks on the front door and receives a series of shouts and squeals from inside. Kayk looks down to me.

“Stay as you are and don’t do anything drastic,” I say quietly. “I doubt anything will happen around Petra’s family, but when we meet with Petra... there are five censors here, and who knows what defenses. I’ll give you a signal if something goes wrong enough that we need you to intervene from the outside. Screaming doesn’t count, but screaming your name specifically does. If any of my bombs go off, you can also assume we want your and Taranis’s help.”

The door opens. Warm air wafts out of the entryway, heavy with scent of hearty stew. A middle-aged man with brown hair and spectacles stands in the doorway; five children behind him stare back with wide eyes that dart back and forth between Pastor Pryce, Kayk, and Dotti, who’s dancing a tippy-tap dance beside me. The eldest looks to be in her mid teens, and the youngest about six. Each one of them has the same shade of pure grey hair.

“Pastor,” the man says with a small smile. “I’m glad you showed up when you did. The kids would have stayed up all night waiting if you hadn’t.”

“Is that the fox?” the smallest girl asks. “The one that saved Mom?”

“ ‘Course it is,” a boy scoffs. “D’ya think they dressed up a random fox in a bow and ribbons and trained it to run around in circles like that? That’s a smart fox. A fox spirit!”

“Can I ride your dragon? Dad said we could!” another girl says. “Pretty please?”

“The dragon’s name is Kayk,” Pastor Pryce says. “And she’s not a-“

“Of course you can,” Kayk gushes, and three of the kids cheer so loud Rae flinches. The other two kids, a boy and the eldest girl, both kneel down and introduce themselves to Dotti.

“She can’t talk right now,” Landi says, “But I’ll try and translate. Her name is Dotti!”

Dotti sniffs their hands, looks up at them, and I think I see a glimmer of tears in her eyes. Her tail wags faster than I’ve ever seen before, her chin held high, as Landi tells the kids all about Dotti’s adventures that led her here.

The dad steps outside the archway and gives a small bow. “Elias,” he says. “Welcome to our home, Lady Kensington. Pastor Pryce stopped by earlier today and told us we should expect you. He didn’t say how tall you were, though. I can see why you’d need a dragon to take you around.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Elias,” I say, returning his bow with a tiny curtsy. “Are you Petra’s husband?”

“I am,” he says. “She’s waiting for you in the shelter, there. I think she’ll be ready for visitors soon. She’s having a good day.”

Before I can ask what Elias means, he looks over to where Rae is standing, sweaty and pale. “Miss, pardon my rudeness, but you look like death warmed over. We have stew and a hearth, with blankets and sheets.”

Rae shakes her head. “I’m fine.”

I bite my lip. If things go south in Petra’s cottage, I would very much like to have Rae by my side. It’s unlikely she’d sit still if things went badly, but she’d be in another building entirely, and wouldn’t be able to help using whatever soft skills she has other than her combat abilities. I think I’ve actually seen her focusing with her damaged eye recently. Maybe. I could be wrong.

If there really are no threats or surprises where Petra is, it would do Rae a world of good to lie down and warm up. She knows her limits, but I suspect she’d rather suffer than let me or Dotti wander into a trap without her.

Do I order Rae to lie down and rest while we visit Petra?
No. 1074760 ID: b6ec4d

Have Rae lie down. You've set plenty of contingencies already, so you can afford to let her rest.
No. 1074771 ID: e5709d

Have her 'taste-test' the food. She needs a good meal, and getting to see what a normal family feels like can put her whole life into perspective.
No. 1074772 ID: b57fea

I think we can take the risk of having rae rest. Just make sure you got a good lungful of air in ya for an emergency scream for help.
No. 1074773 ID: a7a180

I think Rae should stay with the children. Get comfortable. Rest up, she'll need it to be back in action sooner.
No. 1074780 ID: e51896

Assure Rae we have a dragon, and crow in case anything happens. Remind her that she needs her rest to get used to the mutagen she took.
No. 1074781 ID: 2a82d3

You good with kids? Take a good look at the them. Check on their health, and look for any signs of mutagenic or magical tampering on their bodies. If they're clear, you should be fine without Rae (homesick maybe?). If they're not, that is indeed a reg flag she might be picking up on.
No. 1074809 ID: fb8a42
File 169740399918.png - (46.84KB , 500x478 , LF7 47.png )

Looking around at the simple joys of Dotti, Landi and Kayk playing with Petra’s children, it’s temptingly easy to set Mother Mabel’s warning aside. I’m an only child, so I’m not the best at guessing how ‘normal’ the kids are as the youngest boy, kicking a leathered ball, is pursued Dotti and Landi, eager to swipe it out from his control while his older brother guards a goal between two trees.

They all seem normal, except for their eyes, hair and pale skin. Is it the result of a mutagen? It’s hard to tell without testing; more subtle mutagens are devilishly difficult to detect with certainty, but none of them are displaying skills, strength, senses or dexterity outside their normal age group. Except for the boy with the ball. He’s really good at keeping it away from Dotti, but I think that’s just practice and Dotti taking it easy on him. If she really wanted that ball, she wouldn’t be wagging her tail so much and yapping as happily as she is.

There’s a tugging on my skirts. I look down and see Petra’s youngest looking back.

“Are you a princess?” she asks.

I try not to melt.

“No, sweetie,” I say, kneeling down. “I’m just a Lady. But I do live in a castle.”

“Wow…” she stares at me, eyes wide as dinner plate. “Can I come visit?”

“If your parents say it’s okay. Sure.”

“Dad! Dad! Dad!” she calls out, rushing over to her father’s side. “Dad, can we go to the Big Lady’s castle?”

“Ask your mother,” he says. “You know she doesn’t like the idea of leaving Giornico.”

Pastor Pryce is staring at me for some reason. Did I say something wrong? I suppose I might be causing some trouble by offering visits to Kensington Keep to little kids. Kids are difficult to manage at the best of times, and now I’ve gone and put ideas in her head. Did I just plan their next family vacation? Do they take vacations at all? Probably not, given what Petra’s husband Elias just said. That, and vacations are for people with the means to do so.

I may not be as good with kids as I’d like to be.

With that settled, I go to Rae’s side and ask her to join me for a moment. She knows what’s coming, given the frustration narrowing her good eye.

“Thank you for finding Dotti so quickly today,” I say to her. “You saved her from stumbling headfirst into a trap that could have hurt her terribly. You can let the mutagen do its work, now. I won’t tell you to take a break, because your body is still changing. It can’t be easy.”

Rae says nothing.

“I’ve taken precautions,” I say. “Taranis will be watching, and Kayk. You’ll know if there’s trouble.”

“I can prevent trouble,” Rae says. “I’ll spot it.”

“If there’s anything that’s willing to take on a dragon,” I say, “Without rest, I doubt you’ll be able to stop it even if you do see it coming. Rae, I’m willing to order you if I have to. I don’t want to split my attention if worst comes to worst. Don’t you want the element of surprise, anyway?”

Rae grips Samhain’s hilt for a moment, but lets go and sighs. “Okay.”

“Thank you.”

It took a few minutes, but Rae graciously accepts Elias’s offer of hospitality and makes her way inside to lie down. Having so many kids running around just make things happen more slowly while making them seem happen quickly. Petra’s been busy.

Dotti and Landi have bounced over to the teenage girl, who’s giving Dotti serene ear scritches and telling her what a magnificent and selfless spirit she is. I take advantage of the moment of peace to take Pastor Pryce aside.
No. 1074810 ID: fb8a42
File 169740401475.png - (44.60KB , 500x500 , LF7 48.png )

“Pastor, I understand you can’t tell me everything,” I say, “But I need to know if Dotti will be safe from whatever wards and defenses your order has put up around Petra. I have it on good authority that this isn’t a small risk for her.”

“I see.” Pastor Pryce rubs the back of his neck. “With the seal on, she should not activate any wards around Petra’s cottage. The defenses… they have a mind of their own, sometimes. Always protective of Petra. Sometimes overly so.”

“I need more details than that.”

“The specifics of Petra’s defenses are far beyond what I’m allowed to share,” the pastor says. “I can say that if your party does not use divine magic, spiritual magic, or try and do anything that might affect Petra’s spiritual well-being negatively, then you will be safe. Petra’s sense of self at times is far weaker than most, so her defenses also repel spirits who focus their attentions on her, try to communicate directly with her, or otherwise affect her. The defenses will also protect themselves, though I’m not sure how you would even try to interact with them. Again, Dotti should be safe, as her spirit is wholly contained, for the moment, by her mana-constructed body.”

“Thank you,” I say. “This is helpful.” I try not to think about what might happen to Dotti’s soul if something were to happen to her while she’s wearing that symbol, or if the symbol came off while she’s in the middle of Petra’s wards. It doesn’t sound like Landi’s inventory magic will set off the nastiest wards, but I’m still not sure if it’s wise to use it when we’re visiting her. Landi’s been asking me to keep an eye on Dotti’s smock and make sure there’s still a stick of jerky in it when we visit, so… I guess Dotti brought a gift. Or a snack. Probably both. I gather up the smock and confirm that the precious jerky is still there.

I check in with a softly purring Dotti, far more content than she was a few hours ago at the pamper party. I give her a few more minutes of just… taking it all in.

She did this. Petra’s family, each and every child here, is alive and having the time of their lives sliding down Kayk’s tail thanks to her.

Dotti and I share a glance.

“Are you ready?”

Dotti nods.

We walk over to the five Censors, who are chatting amongst themselves. Mother Mabel is looking to Pastor Pryce, as are the three others.

“Petra is well enough to receive visitors,” the Pastor says. “The cottage has four rooms: an entryway, a den, a bedroom and a kitchen. The den has a second layer of spiritual wards for Petra, a sort of isolation bubble around her chair. You’ll see the lines of scripture inscribed into the floor when you enter. She can leave it, and Dotti can enter if Petra gives permission, but she’s most comfortable around visitors when she’s inside the bubble.”

Dotti gives a small yap of affirmation.

We allow ourselves to be led into the entryway of Petra’s cottage. There are hooks for coats and spaces for boots, of all sizes; her children must keep their things here during winter. I feel a tingle rush down my spine.

Landi pauses midair after passing the entryway, hovering, uncertain.

“Did you feel that too?” I ask.

“Sorry,” she says softly. “I… it’s… it’s hard describe. I don’t understand, it’s… there’s this unbelievable pressure, and… heat, and… it’s dangerous. I feel like if I look at it… it’ll… it’s… Serah, I’m scared. I’m really, really scared.”

Mother Mabel gives Pastor Pryce a concerned look, and he gives her the same look back.

“Please be calm,” Pastor Pryce says nervously. “The feeling will pass soon enough. You have nothing to worry about. This is just a… decontamination. If things go well.”

“Please don’t focus too hard though,” Mother Mabel adds. “That would be bad. Whatever you do, do not focus your senses on it.”




No. 1074812 ID: 273c18

please forgive us. we merely wish to witness this event. we wish no harm, rather the opposite-- we want it to go as smoothly as possible.
No. 1074814 ID: b57fea


No. 1074816 ID: e51896

No. 1074818 ID: 2a82d3

Whether or not this voice is yours, O Veiled Goddess, I ask a request from you: summon your most curious follower to the Lady's side. Do you not know who I speak of? Your church was very, very clever to use their customs, practices, rituals to distract us from him; I'll admit we almost missed a stunning display of Fae tactics. Still, the Lady had a good look at them and is very intelligent. She will pick up on the resemblance soon enough. The pack should should be united for this event, should they not?

You cannot keep the truth from them ever. We can be amicable to your demands, but we cannot repent from merely observing. If you disallow even that, by Fate itself, we have but only one response to that.

No. 1074819 ID: b6ec4d

Serah should get her mind off the feeling by thinking of random bullshit instead. Like Rae's mutagen. She isn't going to look too catlike, as per her preferences, but do you think she'll take on a couple mannerisms? Cats eat birds, so what if she starts to think that Taranis looks tasty? What if Taranis starts to dislike her presence? That'd suck, but you could probably fix it with another mutagen if it came up. What about subtle physical changes, do you think there'll be a few? Maybe she'll grow whiskers instead of stache or beard from now on (wait, do elves grow facial hair at all?), or maybe her hair will get fluffier or something. There's so much to think about!

To Usiel: We repent. Sorry for the improper entry, we're bad at recognizing territory, and usually need to be informed where the lines are.
No. 1074824 ID: e5709d



Who are you?
Unknown term and/or title. Requesting Clarification. Who. Are. You?

No. 1074825 ID: 12b116

Just ignore it, it'll be fine.

No. 1074854 ID: 3ea497

I regret my ill descisions and wish to make amends.
No. 1074879 ID: 3a02c7

I feel perhaps a great deal of stress, worry and effort could have been bypassed with a bit of trust and the taking up long-distance lettersending. But Dotti would have wished to verify Petra’s state at least once, so here we are. May it be as joyous an occasion as it can be.

In the future, though? Letters.

To the world at large, pardon our presence and any disrespect, of ill intent there is none. Ours is merely to witness and advice.

Serah, pray forgive. It should hopefully be fine, but since we’re riding you, if need be pull back and trust in the precautions already made. If Petra has a lovely family like she does, she’s clearly not poorly off, whatever her circumstances, and Dotti’s meeting should go well. Just tell her to be on her best behaviour. Landi should also know the score now, but tell her to relax and say she’s sorry and that she just wants to be a witness and that may work for her. Or she could go join Rae. How is Kayk feeling? She may have to swallow some pride to be able to meekly attend here. But if she can put up with city bureaucracies she should be able to with celestial mandates as well.
No. 1074884 ID: dd3fe0

I repent and am ashamed for the unintentional trespass! Please, have mercy on this humble penitent! A boon, Lord -- please, tell me what's going on and what will happen to me?
No. 1074960 ID: e51896

Forgive us Usiel, for we have sinned, and we would like to repent and confess the sins we had influenced upon the mortals we guided.


-We helped encouraged Landi's idea to sign a contract with Serah just so she can mooch off her

-We refused to give back the Lucky Panties to the Dervish's mistress after Landi stole them in her drunken state.

-We sacrificed Serah's belt to the Dervish to get a peek at her panties.

-We killed the Dervish in order to keep the Lucky Panties when all it wanted was to get it back for its mistress.

-We encouraged Serah to take more jotun mutagen to get her clothing damaged, and then encouraged Landi to take some mutagen, harming her in a mutagen caused flame.

-We encouraged Serah to run to Miss Venmiphi clothing shop instead of having the clothing delivered and playing it safe, despite the risk that Landi's weak fairy godmothering skills would run out and her clothing would fade away in public, and encouraged Landi to catch up with Serah, causing her to catch on fire again.

-We influenced Landi to write up some terms in Dotti's contract that would harm her for Landi's benefit


-We saw Serah and Rae underdressed during bathtime

-We influenced Serah to make a solvent bomb on multiple occassions in hopes of seeing clothing damaged, and pushed her to try and make a gravity bomb when she was clearly not ready.

-we stuffed archibeard in a bag, and forgot about him to not have to deal with Serah's father, and not honor her father

-We had Serah remove her corset during a girls night out when she got drunk, and encouraged her to do something daring like streaking (even though she didn't)


-We let Dotti eat trash to encourage her bad behavior

-We encouraged Dotti to use a sign stating her affiliation with Serah to manipulate people to give her free treats

-We had Dotti try to “terminate” a baker, making her push a basket of bread at him, influencing anger

https://questden.org/kusaba/questarch/res/1003639.html & https://questden.org/kusaba/questarch/res/994099.html

-We let Dotti eat trash to encourage her bad behavior…again

-We made Raelynn uncomfortable by having Dotti vote to have the cake dress, even if it does look good on her.

-We encouraged Landi to read dirty magazines at a library, and Dotti a comedic comic that encourages violence when she was still impressionable.

-We encouraged Serah and Landi to play strip poker, get drunk, and engage in dares that are inappropriate and lustful, and take other people’s belongings as prizes, such as clothing and a dreamcatcher, and have makeouts.


-We had Landi make a glorious tiara just to see Landi dustbusted, which is considered taboo in fairy culture

-We peeped on Serah, Landi, and Rae in a hot springs

-We had them play truth or dare to do sinful things like try and get Serah to French kiss Taranis, learn Rae’s secret kink, have Landi remain naked for the remainder of her stay at Mai Terrorscale’s lair, have Taranis steal Dotti’s bow, Jekster’s hat, and Kayk’s stockings,

-We allowed Dotti to use the stolen lucky panties that didn’t belong to Landi in the first place

-We knowingly put Dotti’s life in danger to try to get Tanwen’s apology

-We used a solvent bomb on Tanwen and got her naked

-We encouraged Landi to Encourage Dotti to enhance her breast size


-We cause a series of “accidents” to slowly ruin Serah’s clothing while helping Rocio move until she was naked during her visit to another world, and didn’t influence her to go back home when she had the chance.

-We had Kayk turn into her dragon form, causing property damage to Rocio’s gym, and also put Kayk in workout poses for the purpose of seeing her in lewd poses.


-We decided to have Kayk not wear pants or skirts during work

-We had Kayk get drunk, and had her destroy her sweater by turning into a dragon, and flirt with someone inappropriately, and showed off her naked body to him and his friend after transforming back into her lizard form

-We had Kayk initiate her dragon’s wrath to threaten some teenagers lives when they were too rough on Dotti during work

-we had Dotti discover Kayk’s pornography

-We had Kayk claim a bunch of items that didn’t belong to her after Marquess Mallory’s guards captured Landi and confiscated her stuff (even though we gave it back to their rightful owners)


-We had Taranis knock over some books

- we had Taranis destroy Priscilla’s priestess robe to get a view at her nudity while having him pose as what Priscila thought were evil spirits… wait, I now realize she meant us this whole time, not Taranis

-We had Taranis steal Priscilla’s bra and panties

-We snipped Apricot’s strings off her shirt, and got a view of her breasts later

-We caused a series of situations to cause Autumn to get dustbusted

-Even though Taranis was given the Broken Halter Top Laces from Apricot as a gift for helping her, it was our fault she was put in that situation in the first place and the gift wasn’t deserved.

-We peeked got a look at Gloria’s breasts

-We got Taranis to steal Anita’s Panties, Gloria’s panties and bra, and Lily’s ribbon


-We had Raelynn avoid responsibility for Taranis’ actions we had him do after being confronted by the witch

-We had Taranis lie about stealing the witches’ undergarments

-we refused to return the witches their undergarments, or Priscilla’s panties and bra when given the chance, and instead have him steal Priscilla’s sash to get her help to get her to make Rae feel better.

-We put Rae under the influence of Fairy Dust when she was depressed, which probably wasn’t a healthy way with dealing with her problems


-We had Serah’s contract with Landi include bad stuff like having Landi always be correct, fairies being awesome, having her help her sorority sisters when Landi doesn’t want to, and disrobe for merchants during financial crisis like when Landi doesn't have enough to purchase booze.

-we altered Serah’s contract to the point where Ellie got dustbusted

-we saw Apricot and Autumn underdressed during bathtime (probably, Autumn had her fairydust covering her to know for sure)

-We saw Serah underdressed during bathtime

For these sins, I'd like to ask to be forgiven for please, so that we may witness the adventurers we've guided for so long up to this point be able to complete this long mission, and so that Dotti can finally reunite with Petra after being seperated from her for several decades.
No. 1075026 ID: 106bc5

I have naught to repent for, oh guardian. We are not a singular entity, as you have acknowledged by addressing us in plural.

The sins of some among us should have no bearing on the entirety of us. Each of us is but one twitch of the muscles that play upon the controller, which has connected to it the strings of fate that cause the marionette we’ve been given oversight of to dance. No one of us is responsible for any other, and it is only the sum of the mass that creates anything you regard as sin. I can only speak for myself when I say I believe I have acted with due wisdom and consideration for the beings we have been given influence over. It is up to you, oh guardian, to determine whom among the cacophony is worthy of judgement. Surely you would not consider it acceptable to smite an innocent in the name of purging the guilty?

We also have little influence in our own presence. We are bound by forces beyond us to these material beings. We merely guide them as best we can toward success in their personal goals. We were brought here by the body we are currently bound to. We have no capacity to independently retreat, and so your entreaty needs must be ignored. Do with us what you will.

No. 1075078 ID: 0b594e

I must repent, not for what I have done, but for what I failed to do. For staying silent all this time, never trying to help, I ask forgiveness.
No. 1075210 ID: fb8a42
File 169792381092.png - (44.60KB , 500x500 , LF7 49.png )

I try and think about anything but that horrid tingling on the back of my neck. Is Rae okay? Did I screw up the mutagen? Is she going to grow cat ears despite everything I’ve done to make sure that doesn’t happen? That would be horrible, right?






No. 1075211 ID: fb8a42
File 169792383682.png - (13.89KB , 500x500 , LF7 50.png )

I feel like someone’s plucked a few strands of my hair, but I’m mostly relieved now that the pressure is lessening. There’s still something in the back of my mind, but it’s receding to almost nothing.

“Are you okay, Landi? Dotti?” I ask.

Dotti cocks her head to the side, curious. She seems completely unaffected by whatever that was.

Landi alights on my shoulder and nestles against my neck. “That was horrible... but yeah. I’m okay.”

“Good,” Pastor Pryce says, his shoulders slumping. “Very good. Fantastic, even. You all are cleared to see Petra, then. Please be polite. She’s quite prone to bouts of tiredness.”

Mother Mabel gestures to the door on the other side of the cottage entryway. Dotti pushes to the front of the group, sniffing the door frame, tail wagging eagerly. Mabel opens the door and Dotti somehow manages to not shove herself through the opening, keeping some measure of self-control, but just barely.

On the other side of the door is a cozy hearth-room, crackling with a freshly added log. A woman in her late forties sits on a chair, surrounded by a wall adorned with childish artworks framed with pride. Her seat is surrounded by inscriptions elegantly carved into the floor.

“Hello again, little one,” the woman says, her voice remarkably similar to Dotti’s conjured voice, but heavier, more worn by the passing of time. She holds out her hands. “It’s so good see you again, Foxie.”

Dotti lets out a high-pitched wail and darts toward Petra, completely heedless of the inscriptions in the ground. I almost let out a warning, but Landi taps my neck and interrupts me.

I needn’t have worried. Dotti passes over the inscriptions freely and leaps into Petra’s lap, continuing her long, high-pitched whine punctuated by a squeals of pure, unbridled joy.
No. 1075212 ID: fb8a42
File 169792389586.png - (64.82KB , 500x476 , LF7 51.png )

“You’ve been on quite the adventure, haven’t you?” Petra says, giving Dotti a tender hug. “I’m sorry I couldn’t come to you. You must have been so lonely all these years. Can you ever forgive me?”

Dotti rubs her head against Petra and gives a quiet bark.

Petra smiles a wonderful, warm smile that warms the whole room. I can sense all that stress Dotti has been carrying for years, that worry in the back of her mind, melt away.

I think I’m gonna cry.

This is Dotti’s moment between her and Petra, and I won’t interrupt it.

Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry…

Okay, maybe I’ll cry a little.
No. 1075213 ID: fb8a42
File 169792391727.png - (9.54KB , 363x278 , LF7 52.png )

The Censors quietly follow me and Landi as we move into the room once Dotti is settled in.

“Foxie?” Landi whispers. “Is that what Petra called Dotti before I named her? Why didn’t she tell me she already had a name? I’m perfectly okay being called ‘Serah’s Fairy.’ ”

“Yes, but just ‘Fairy-ie’?” I point out.

“Good point.”

Petra looks up from petting Dotti and gestures to the sofas and chairs around her. We sit down.

Dotti purrs softly.

“Thank you both,” Petra says. “I can’t begin to describe how grateful I am. I never thought I’d get to see Foxie again.”

“We’re just happy to help,” I say. “Dotti has felt the same way about you.”

“Ah,” Petra says. “I forgot. You go by Dotti now, don’t you? Would you like me to call you that?”

Dotti twitches her ears in complete indifference.

“I’ll try to remember,” Petra says. “About your other adventures, too. Pastor Pryce told me you’ve become a wonderful hostess, and made good friends along the way. Is that right?”

Dotti purrs.

If you have not been banned, suggest things to talk about with Petra, and any questions Serah has for her. Dotti is just happy to be here.
No. 1075215 ID: e51896

>surrounded by a wall adorned with childish artworks framed with pride

I'm assuming those are her kids' drawings. Hey, maybe we can ask Dotti and Petra if they would want one of Dotti's drawings on the wall too!
No. 1075227 ID: 273c18

Try not to ask too much about her past. Judging by the age of her children though, maybe it would be okay to ask how she met her husband? Maybe she can tell us stories about her family!
No. 1075233 ID: b57fea

Oh I love this idea! Do that!

Ask Petra all about her family and kids and the time away from dotti.

Maybe once the ice is broken ask how she ended up here of all places and why do the censors have like a small army in-between her and the outside world?
No. 1075255 ID: b6ec4d

You can lightly prod for a date, as that's been the big question since the beginning. How long has it been since Dotti saved Petra? Drop the topic immediately if it seems like it'll only upset things though.

Do you have any images of Dotti in her anthro form? Maybe a drawing she did? You could show it to her to let her see what Dotti looks like when using her powers.
No. 1075267 ID: dd3fe0

Just... what has she been up to, from her perspective? What are her opinions on all... this...
No. 1075270 ID: 273c18

Oh ask if you can set up some regular visits or get some kind of long range communication device. Letters are nice too.
No. 1075369 ID: 273c18

I just realized Brother Pierre has hair and eyes the same color as her children. Ask if there's any relation.
No. 1075413 ID: fb8a42
File 169811828878.png - (12.11KB , 500x438 , LF7 53.png )

We make small talk about Petra’s family. Her kids each have their own hobbies, but she encourages them to try all kinds of things, especially if they aren’t that great at it. It takes time to get good at anything, and she’s happy to celebrate each step of the way. She’s delighted to hear that Dotti is learning to draw, and even points to a spot on the wall she’d like to hang some of Dotti’s art.

“Can I share one of your a self-portraits?” Landi asks Dotti, who pauses for a moment before nodding. Landi looks to the Censors and gets the approval to open up her inventory to produce a pink polka-dotted sketchbook. “See? Look at how cute Dotti is!”

“You’ve learned so much since we parted,” Petra says, giving Dotti a soft stroke down her neck and earning a vivacious purr in return. “It’s been so long since…”

Dotti nuzzles up in Petra’s lap. Everyone’s quiet.

“I was bedridden for nearly a year. Feverish. Seeing horrible things, hearing whispers. Things I’ve forgotten, and better to remain so. In my lucid moments, as I dreamed, I prayed that you’d survived, Fo- ah, Dotti. I was in a coma for so long… When I woke up, my father told me he’d buried you in a place you’d like. Someplace familiar. He carried me there, and we did our best to make a memorial. It may have been lost to time after I stopped being able to visit it those first few years, but I see you still have the bow I left. I’m happy it’s held up so well.”

Dotti’s ears perk up. She brushes her paw to her head, scraping at the bow.

“Oh! No, there’s no need for that. It’s yours, now,” Petra smiles. “It’s a lovely accessory for a beautiful soul like you.”

Dotti’s tail-wagging cannot be stopped.

“Thirty-two years,” Petra says softly. “How long were you searching for me, little one?”

Dotti looks over to Landi.

“Me?!” Landi asks, shocked. “Uh. I mean. We covered this at that horrible ladies’ night where you… never mind. Uh, Dotti, you said you spent a lot of time in the spirit realm, right? And you first came back like fifteen or years ago.”

Petra sighs. “I should have returned. Just in case.”

“You had no way of knowing,” Mother Mabel says. “And even if you had returned then, Dotti might not even have been visible to your senses. How long did it take you to learn how to make a physical body from mana, Dotti?”

Dotti gives a shrug of her tiny fox shoulders.

“It takes time for returned spirits to learn to use their powers,” Mother Mabel says. “I’ve heard some describe the time they spend on this side as dreamlike, almost hibernation, until they become acclimated. Please don’t trouble yourself, Petra. You had a family to raise by then.”

Dotti sneezes in agreement.

“I did,” Petra says, letting the worry fade from her features. “I’ve been blessed with six beautiful children, a loving husband, and an old friend come back to me. When I was twenty, I never thought I’d have any of those things. Now I think I’m the luckiest woman in the world.”

“How did you meet your husband?” I ask. “From the look on your face, it sounds like a lovely story.”

“You’ll have to bear with me at the beginning,” Petra smiles. “I was twenty-one and… in a bad way. I could hear things. It was worse around people. I made… bad decisions when the voices came, and sometimes they were so strong,. The locals called me horrible things, and I deserved it, from their point of view. My family… they could only help me for so long. It hurt to be around people, even them. But animals were different.

“Elias cared for the local lord’s horses. I kept letting them out of their stables. I was good at it. They tried to keep me out, but I was such a menace. I just had to let them be free. He stayed out one night to try and catch me. I was talking with my favorite mare, her hair a brilliant black. He called out to me, and… he wasn’t upset. I didn’t feel the suspicion coming from him like other people. He understood.”

“D’aww,” Landi gushes.

“I ran away with him,” Petra smiles. “We kept moving from town to town, getting pushed by the local guards who didn’t want to deal with the Possessed Girl. I was cursed. Broken. Made dogs howl with my presence, who couldn’t bear being around people. Barren of soul, according to the priests who’d try and exorcise me. They’d push the evil spirits away, but I was too weak to push their influence away, or even notice their control. And then, while we were on the run, a miracle happened. I learned I was due for a baby boy.”

Boy? Petra’s eldest is a girl of fifteen or so. Something tingles in the back of my mind…

“I think I’ve met him,” I say. “Did you name him Pierre, by any chance?”

“I did,” Petra says. “He was, and is, such a wonderful boy. When I learned I was pregnant, I was terrified of what might happen to him because of me. I knew there was one church that could keep a secret better than anyone.”

Mother Mabel chuckles. “We do more than that, you know.”

“That you do, Pastor. The Church of Censorship was kind enough to take us in and help me raise him, as well as keep us safe. We’re not quite sure how, or if, my condition has passed on to my children, but I know for certain that I don’t feel the strain around them that I do around people. When I am weak, they support me, and I them. My family is truly blessed.”

This is a lot to take in. Pastor Pryce is staring at me intently. I feel like I’m treading around something dangerous. Best to move on.

“I’m not sure how long Dotti is safe to wear her holy symbol,” I say, “But she’d like to stay here for a while, if you’d have her as a guest.”

“You are all welcome to stay here,” Petra says. “I saw your elven friend wobbling outside. Please, stay until she’s recovered. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough to feed a dragon. Pastor?”

“No one has enough to feed a dragon,” he says.

“Actually, Brother Pierre did the math!” Landi chirps. “It takes two cows a week!”

“That’s my boy,” Petra laughs.

Petra has invited us to stay in the house with her family.

1. Do I ask anything else, or do I go out of the cottage and spend the night with Rae? This will make me pass through the creepy doorway.
2. Do I ask Kayk to shrink down to Lizardfolk form?
3. Do I leave Dotti here with Petra overnight? Is it wise, with the Censors here, and that creepy feeling at the doorway?

No. 1075414 ID: e51896

1. Of course! Dotti's prized Jerky that she wanted to bring with her to Petra for some reason. We were so happy by the reunion we totally forgot about it, even Dotti. Ask Dotti if she's ready for us to give that to her before we leave.
Otherwise, i have no other questions, might change my mind if i thini of one. But really, We cant ask about what happened in her past when Dotti died as it seems too touchy a subject, so yeah.

2. Thats up to Kayk, but if she wants to eat a big cow, why would we deprive her from it as thanks for helping us.

3. As long as Dotti is okay with wearing the necklace all night, she can stay with Petra tonight. Seriously, she's been seperated from her friend for so long, she deserves to stay with Petra overnight. She also got behavior training from Kayk, so I trust her.
No. 1075415 ID: a25322


I agree with all of this, although I do have a note on the final point. It would probably be wise to have someone monitor Dotti while she's here, just in case something starts to happen. Specifically Landi, since she can sense spiritual jazz, and has the experience to respond in appropriate ways to whatever may happen. Plus, if Dotti needs to say something important, she's a decent translator.

If Landi is upset at the prospect, promise her a small bonus in her payment when this is all over for her trouble.
No. 1075420 ID: 273c18

1: Talk about how you and Dotti met. Apologize to her for destroying Dotti's grave/den. Though I guess if you hadn't, Dotti would probably still be there waiting. Oh, ask how the two of them met!
2: it's up to her. It seems rather safe here, but everyone might feel yet safer if she's in full dragon form until Rae is recovered.
3: Dotti is perfectly safe here. Nothing happened to her when she went through the doorway, nothing happened when she passed through the ward. That symbol is doing its work, it seems (and also we have an Angel's word she will be safe). She will definitely be fine for a single night, we have a LOT of wiggle room before she gets hungry.
No. 1075425 ID: 2b6425

If it’s a choice between staying with Rae or the fox, one of you needs to remain with the fox. Stay here with Dotti.
Inform Kayk she may use either form at her discretion.
No. 1075430 ID: b57fea

all seconded
No. 1075433 ID: c75e0b

It'll probably be alright to let Foxie spend the night in the cabina. She and Petra have a lot to talk about and they are bound to want to talk alone at some point or another.

Kayk should probably shift to lizar form if we are going to spend any length of time here. Cattle is expensive.

Maybe we should leave the cabin for the moment and spend some time chatting with Rae, Mabel and Pierre. Maybe we could ask Mother Mabel about rumours of any relic that can mend a shattered soul. She'll probably say chasing such legends is far fetched, but there is nothing conventional about any of us, so why not try?

On that note:
Archangel Usiel, are you aware of any items or powers that could possibly heal survivors of a soul-eater attack?
No. 1075778 ID: fb8a42
File 169852410850.png - (4.56KB , 300x300 , LF7 54.png )

“Um,” I scratch the back of my neck. “I may have… finished the work that time started on that memorial. I’m sorry.”

Dotti directs a dismissive snorf at me. Petra gives me a mildly confused look.

“Well, ah. Um. Do you remember the first time you two met?” I ask, desperate to change the subject.

Dotti nods, but Petra has to think for a moment.

“I remember walking through the woods quite a lot when I was a child,” Petra says, “And I used to be able to see a fox every week or so. Then, they started disappearing. The forest seemed too quiet, then. The birds fell silent. Everything seemed to fade. Even the trees started to brown. My family used to hunt rabbits, but they’d all left for greener pastures, or were hunted down.

“We had food from the communal animals and crops, but it was sad to see everything start disappearing. We’d killed more and more wolves trying to poach our livestock, and it upset me that the forest was starving. I was so upset, I started carrying dried meats and fruits for… well, it sounds silly now, but I was hoping I could somehow bring back the lively animals I’d seen before by feeding them. That was when I met you, Foxie. I mean, Dotti. I was so happy I could help feed you, even if just a little that first time.”

Dotti lets out a long, low purr, but then her eyes go wide. She bounds over to me and wags her tail excitedly.

“What is it?” I ask. “Do you want something?”

She opens her mouth.

“Ah!” I put a hand to my mouth in embarrassment for not remembering her gift, pulling out the dried meat. “I nearly forgot. Here you go.”

“Wait!” Pastor Pryce says, stepping over to us quickly. “Is that food a gift from the fox spirit? Please, let me examine it for safety.”

Dotti bares her teeth and I look at the Pastor quizzically. Is he really insinuating Dotti might try to poison Petra? No, it has to be something else. That, or he’s been instructed not to take any chances with Petra’s well-being. I give Dotti a reassuring glance and allow Pastor Pryce to examine Dotti’s jerky gift. He mumbles a few prayers under his breath, looking closely at it, befuddled. He hands it to Mother Mabel, who does the same. The three other Censors also take turns looking and praying over the jerky. Nothing happens.

“Paranoid much?” Landi mutters.

Finallly, Pastor Pryce looks up to the ceiling and whispers something to the ceiling. Landi jolts a bit, and I feel a tingle down my spine.


“My sincerest apologies for the delay,” Pastor Pryce says, handing the jerky to Dotti, who directs him to place it behind her bow. She leaps back atop Petra’s lap and presents the gift, eyes glimmering.
Pryce is sweating. I wonder what that was about?

“Is this for me?” Petra smiles. “Has this jerky traveled far to get here?”

“It went all the way to a dragon’s lair and back,” Landi proclaims.

Dotti nods, pressing the jerky to Petra’s hand. She accepts the gift and takes a bite, heedless of all sanitary concerns. That’s some incredibly strong mom energy.

“You must have been hungry on your journeys,” Petra says, “But you saved it for me. You were thinking of me the whole time, weren’t you? Dotti, this is the most wonderful gift you could have given. It fills me with joy to know you’ve become so selfless.”

Pastor Pryce frowns. Mother Mabel surreptitiously points at the ceiling and he drops the look instantly.

“It’s getting late,” Mother Mabel says. “Madam Petra, we would not impose longer.”

“You, Foxie and her companions may stay as long as you like,” Petra says. “My family will make space to give you the beds you need.”

“Thank you, but we will sleep upon the floor. Humility before divinity is our way,” Pastor Pryce says, glancing to the ceiling. “Lady Kensington’s party may have our beds.”

“I’ll feed the horses,” one Censor says, a man a little older than me.

“We’re also gonna make everybody’s breakfast tomorrow!” the youngest Censor, a young nun, says extra loudly and pumps her fist in the air.

Mother Mabel elbows her in the ribs. “You don’t need to announce your good deeds so pridefully when you know you’re being watched, Sister Kiki.”

“One room is plenty for us,” I say, realizing that we’ve probably caused untold amounts of sibling drama by asking them to give up their beds. Rae really needs one, and, well, I’m not eager to sleep on the floor in this dress. I’m also tall enough that I probably need to make extra space on the mattresses… I’ll figure it out.

Dotti looks up at me, then at Petra.

“Of course you can stay,” Petra says to Dotti. I nod, and Pastor Pryce grits his teeth, but glances upward and says nothing.
No. 1075779 ID: fb8a42
File 169852412255.png - (44.60KB , 500x500 , LF7 55.png )






No. 1075785 ID: fb8a42
File 169852550754.png - (28.19KB , 400x400 , LF7 56.png )

Kayk looks down on us as we exit the cottage, and I sum up the visit and our arrangements. She volunteers to sleep outside tonight in order to save bed space, plus there’s a giant pile of leaves she can scrape into a bed for herself on the edge of the clearing. I feel slightly bad about leaving Kayk outside in the cold, but then I remember that she is a dragon and it’s her decision. Cold is probably the last thing on her mind, especially if coming indoors means taking a bed from one of Petra’s kids. I see Taranis circling above, and he’s likely to join Kayk outside.

In the house, Rae is sitting in a comfy chair next to the hearth, refusing to sleep until she’s seen us come back. She immediately asks where Dotti is, and I confirm she’s safe and with Petra, and that everything went well.

Petra’s husband Elias is wrangling the goblins and settling arguments over who sleeps where, who’s gross, and who’s being mean. Poor man.

Rae, Landi and I eventually get the two-and-a-half beds we need in the same room. The Censors take the furniture in the living room and keep the hearth going.

It’s been a long day, but a good one. We all fall asleep as soon as our faces hit the pillows.


For the first time in my life, I wake up before Raelynn.

I know I shouldn’t feel like that’s an accomplishment but I feel so proud!

There’s no running water in Petra’s house, so I have to skip my shower and go straight to my skin and hair care routine. Aww. But wait! I could ask Landi to fill up a partition of her inventory with water and ask Dotti to heat it up in a bath with her fire magic, but… oh. Dotti’s powers are sealed.

Oh, no! Dotti’s powers are sealed! How long until she has to reconnect with the spiritual realm before she starves? Pastor Pryce said a few days, so she’s probably fine for now, but I’ll have to check in with Dotti later today to see if she’s feeling strained or irritable or weak and needs to take off the symbol. We’ll need Pastor Pryce’s permission, so I should keep an eye on him.

It takes me a while to get my hair the way I like it without water or any of my usual beauty supplies. By the time I’m done, Landi is stirring on her throw pillow that’s been repurposed to a fairy-sized bed.

“Whoa,” Landi whispers. “I woke up before Rae!”

“I know, right?” I giggle softly. “It’s the end of the world.”

“Is she doing okay?” Landi floats over and checks Rae’s forehead. “Fever’s broke. She’s out like a log.”

“Let her rest,” I say. I give my fancy red dress a look. I could wear it today, but it’s kind of fancy for a family breakfast, and really, do I want to wear the same dress two days in a row? The only other outfits I packed are my adventuring gear and my armor. My adventurer outfit is very casual-looking and has cleavage if I don’t tie the strings extra-tight, but the armor is only meant to be worn for combat. Landi can Godmother it onto me with almost no warning, and I want to keep that trump card in case of emergencies. I consider asking Landi to Godmother my fancy dress into a new outfit, but ultimately decide on keeping it as it is. I don’t want to set off any Censor traps with shapeshifted clothes like they tested for at the Church nave yesterday, and with my luck they might find an excuse to try and confiscate them.

I put on my dress and head downstairs with Landi to find a few of Petra’s kids already up and staring out the window at Kayk the Magnificent, who’s just beginning to wake up. Petra and Dotti are nowhere to be seen, but it still is fairly early.

Who do Landi and I spend time with? CHOOSE TWO.

1. Play with Petra’s children and talk with Elias, Petra’s husband.
2. Talk with the Censors. Most are helping with chores and make breakfast, but Pastor Pryce is reading scripture and some other books on spirits.
3. Go outside to talk with Kayk and Taranis. They are the only members of the party who can get to central Giornico and back in a reasonable amount of time, so if we want to send any messages to the Mayor or Brother Pierre, they’ll be the ones to do it.

No. 1075787 ID: e51896

1. Tell the kids the story of the fox, and the giant dragon. A tale about a naughty fox who wants to redeem herself after doing a bad thing, and learns about being honest, relying on friendship, and about redemption and forgiveness and how sometimes, forgiveness can be hard to achieve, but being true to yourself and learning from your mistakes and having friends can help make you a better person...

It's basically a story about your travel and visit to Mai Terrorscale, but with Dotti as the main character so that the kids can learn about what Dotti was like, how she's grown, and learn to appreciate Dotti for who she is, and not just because she's a cute fox.

2. Maybe we can learn more about spirits (ourselves) and about Petra. I know that they can't reveal secrets, but who knows, maybe they'll be more willing.
No. 1075811 ID: e5709d

1) In the long run, you and some of those kids are going to become lifelong friends. Maybe even more. You also need to ask, very seriously, if they wish for Dotti to become their family's kitsune godmother - or if they want Landi instead.
3) Maybe get Kayk to do a few rounds, look for any spies or invaders.

Query("../Commandments/Culture/Marriage.json", "allow/deny", "homosexual");
Query("../Pantheon", "cat");
Query("../History/Crimes/Corruption/Nobility.json", "SELECT Name FROM * WHERE Crime LIKE Rape");
No. 1075856 ID: 2a82d3

1. Those kids really are an angel's blessing, aren't they? No seriously, we won't judge, are they? Do they have issues going around the house, especially the doorway? Do they leave her side? If so, how well do they handle the town, if not the outside world?

3. Not to seek a message to the town per se, but their response to your visit so far. Does the Mayor have a favor to ask of you? Would Pierre have a response about her condition, if informed his mother is doing well?
No. 1075907 ID: b6ec4d


We don't really need anything from the pastors rn, so they're the easy choice to skip. Entertain the children, and chat with Kayk and Taranis so that they're not bored.
No. 1075927 ID: b57fea

We are definitely hanging with the kids.
No. 1076306 ID: 3c2dff
File 169898379861.png - (35.46KB , 358x372 , LF7 57.png )

“Did you learn the names of Petra’s kids?” I ask Landi.

“Yeah,” she says. “You’re not gonna believe it. Or maybe you are, if you picked on that she names foxes ‘Foxie.’ ”


Petra’s children’s names are, from youngest (1) to oldest (6):

1. Patrice
2. Piter
3. Perrine
4. Pietro
5. Nel
6. Pierre

“Nel?” I ask.

“It’s short for Petronel.”


“Yeah. I had the same reaction.”

I sit down next to Perrine, Petra’s middle daughter. She’s staring out the window next to Piter and Patrice.

“When’s miss dragon gonna wake up? We wanna play with her,” Patrice, the youngest, says. “Can she take us to the town? Mom and Dad only let us go when we’re all together so we don’t get tired.”

“I want to go see Riri,” Piter says. “I miss him. We haven’t seen him in forever. Oh! Can you bring him here?”

“Kayk will be up in a few minutes,” I say. “She flew a long way yesterday. As for Pierre, um, I’m sure he has things to do for the Church. Do you want to do something to pass the time?”

“Pastor Pryce says you’re an alchemist,” Perrine, the middle daugter, says to me. “Can you make gold?”

“Yes! I was the youngest in my parish to-“

“Can I have some?”

“Hey, I want gold too!” Piter cries out. “No fair if Perrine gets some and I don’t!”

“I don’t have any extra gold,” I say truthfully. “But if you want to see alchemy in action, I can make soap float!”

The kids look at me, wide-eyed. I’ve got them now! Time for a little alchemical experiment my tutor used to get me interested, way back when I was a little kid. I take some dish soap and a little sugar and mix it together. Then slide out a section of flexible underwire from my bodice and bend it into a bubble-blower.

“Ta-da!” I dip the bubble blower into the solution. “Have your own fairy bubbles!”

The kids ooh and aah and look from the bubbles to Landi. Patrice tries to pop the bubble, but can’t reach, so she tries to pop Landi instead.

“Ha!” Landi dodges nimbly. “Can’t catch me!”

Patrice leaps off her seat and dances around, trying to catch Landi, and she obliges. Soon she allows herself to be “popped” with a series of giggles, but Landi’s giggling dies off after a moment. I give her a look, and for some reason her glow seems dimmer. Patrice runs off to her siblings for a turn at the bubble blower, but Landi is hovering in midair.


“Serah,” she mumbles, flying up to my shoulder. “Uh. That was weird.”


“I felt something draining my dust, there,” Landi whispers. “When Patrice touched me, it was… it was like my dust was being sucked into her, somehow. I haven’t felt anything like it ever.”

“That is weird,” I whisper back. “Is it because, you know… of Petra? Do you think all her kids can do that, without meaning to?”

“If I had to guess? They all feel… kind of odd. Lighter. When I fly by them, their auras feel like they don’t react to the world around them. Like how air passes through banners that have little slits cut in them, you know? Their souls just… hang there, and things pass through them. Like my dust. Somehow.”

This is very, very weird. At least the kids seem okay, except for the fact that they get tired in markets? Or maybe that’s just because the trip to town takes so long?

I take Landi out to see Kayk and Taranis, and we catch up on what we’ve seen so far. Neither of them have heard of anyone having the ability to steal Dust or mana before, but it is indeed spooky.

“I feel like we’re on the verge of something,” I say. “Pierre, the church, Petra, that weird ward…”

“Pierre would know,” Landi says. “He’s cool and smart and Petra’s oldest kid. Anything the other siblings can do, he’s probably figured out.”

“Is that… why the church was so worried about us running into him earlier? It is, isn’t it?”

“Oh! You’re right!” Landi bobs. “Yeah, they were so upset we met him!”

Do I:

1. Fly to visit Pierre and leave Dotti and Rae behind;
2. Deliver a message to Pierre, or
3. Do something else?

No. 1076316 ID: 273c18

Oh my god her kids are *antimagic*, or at the very least magic-ignoring or magic-siphoning. That's why Pierre is able to take off Dotti's amulet. Getting tired in markets... their unique souls must not react well to the presence of too many other nearby souls. I bet they're all immune to scrying spells, as well as magic in general... the church wants to take advantage of this for sure.
We could test this. Landi could try casting a harmless spell on one of the kids.

I feel like we should attract as little attention to ourselves as possible at the moment. Sending a message to Pierre seems good. Ask him if the kids can potentially use their weirdness to hurt Landi or Kayk without realizing it. Landi should keep her distance for now to avoid getting dustbusted at least.
2. Can Taranis deliver a piece of paper? And get a response?
No. 1076317 ID: 8f9bc4

(and will that response be panties, or will he be good?)
No. 1076319 ID: eb0a9c

Also, notice how their genders are in exact order. With a literal angel micromanaging their lives as Seneshal, I don't think it's a coincidence.

3) Offer your hand in marriage to Petronel.
No. 1076324 ID: 273c18

Judging by the image we got of the five kids other than Pierre, Petronel is a child.
No. 1076334 ID: 9640d4

they go TOGETHER so they don't get tired. Are they like, parts of a whole? Or they feed off eachother somehow? Or is it that the protections meant to stay around Petra also help them?
No. 1076441 ID: 3c2dff
File 169913201871.png - (31.52KB , 500x500 , LF7 58.png )

There’s so much I don’t know about Petra’s children, and the information is valuable enough that the Church would go to great lengths to protect it. If Landi hadn’t played with Patrice, they might even have kept it a total secret. I should keep this quiet for now.

Still, I need to know more information. I ask Landi for some parchment and my official seal, which carries the threat of diplomatic and economic sanctions from Kensington if it is broken by anyone but the intended recipient. That might not mean much to the Church if they truly want to break it, but Mayor Dumas would have to deal with the fallout if I decide to make life difficult for the political side of things in Giornico.

I seal up my quick letter to Brother Pierre and hand it to Taranis.

“You’re not going to come back with a stolen pair of Censor panties, are you?” Landi asks.

Taranis seems to ponder the idea for a moment, then thankfully shakes his head. He alights and takes off for the church we visited, with instructions to find Brother Pierre and give him the letter, then contact me via a Tweet spell with Pierre’s response, and once he’s far enough away from Pierre that whatever weird anti-magic he might have doesn’t affect the spell.

Once that’s done, I head back inside, feeling that same creepy tingle down my spine from yesterday as I do. Petra herself has come out of her cottage and is eating breakfast with her family, with Dotti seated at the table, dignifiedly nibbling at some scrambled eggs and sliced bacon cut to fox-sized bites. There are two Censors seated near her staring at Dotti, and a third hovering for food and clean-up, but Petra doesn’t seem to mind.

“Dotti, are you feeling well?” I ask, referring to her holy symbol.

Dotti nods, and she seems cheery enough that I’m not concerned about her well-being for the moment. I’ll check in at the end of the day. We spend the rest of the meal talking about Dotti’s adventures, and the kids are very curious what she looks like as a half-fox, half-human.

After breakfast, I make an excuse to step away from the family for the moment and go visit Kayk again. As soon as I’m next to Kayk again, which is a fair distance away from the kids, the Tweet spell comes through. I get the feeling Taranis has been trying to send it for a little while now.

Lady Kensington,

My siblings may not mean harm, but:

- Dotti: Severe harm likely if she is not spiritually sealed
- Landi: Some harm possible, not permanent
- Kayk: Extremely unlikely to be harmed

Please come to the market at high noon to meet me. It is important.

I will be alone. Fewer attendees draw less Censor attention.

I very much want to meet with Pierre, and agree with him that I should probably not bring my entire retinue.

1. What is my excuse for leaving Petra’s homestead and going to the Market?

2. Who do I bring with me aside from Taranis, if anyone? If I don’t bring Kayk, I will ride to market sidesaddle on a horse.

(Free, Stealthy Attendee: Taranis)
A. Landi
B. Dotti
C. Raelynn
D. Kayk
E. Two or more of the above
No. 1076442 ID: a7a180

Bring Landi and excuse yourself to buy ingredients for a special dish you want to bake.
No. 1076448 ID: e51896

1. Souvenir shopping is your excuse of course. You want something from your visit to the market to remember this place by. And you better buy something cool, because I don't wanna sin and be a lying spirit
if they only have food at the market and not any cool holy souvenir or censor based accesories, I suppose we buy a cow for Kayk to eat over there if the censors didn't provide one yet. But you better buy the cow. Maybe a Supreme Butter Cow

2. Go alone. As Pierre said, less attendees attract less attention. Kayk defends the place as usual since Rae can't, and Landi will watch entertain the kids since Rae won't. Plus she can ask the censors and the pastor some questions while we're gone about spirits
No. 1076458 ID: 0b594e

Would Kayk needing supplies for treats for the kids be a plausible excuse? If you bring Kayk, her presence would distract from yours if you split up.
No. 1076467 ID: 273c18

1: you wanna do some shopping. I'm sure there's something you can think of that you want to buy. Be vague about "feminine supplies" or makeup as a last resort. Ask the family if there's anything they want you to pick up while you're there.

2: take Landi, I think? She spotted Pierre's ability before, she's the closest thing you have to a magic expert at the moment. Might be more suspicious if you went without her tbh.

Lastly, Pierre didn't mention Taranis. Are Stormcrows not inherently magical? Maybe Pierre thinks he's a normal bird. ...oh my god I just realized if the family drains Kayk while she's shapeshifted she might revert. Pierre probably doesn't even know she has that ability. You should warn her not to shapeshift.
No. 1076475 ID: 8f9bc4

>> I will be alone. Fewer attendees draw less Censor attention.

> If I don’t bring Kayk,
> If I bring Kayk,

No. 1076476 ID: eb0a9c

Oh, that's just sad. Dotti can't be the cool auntie to Petra's kids in her sexy form or their passive magic absorption will literally kill her.

Bring Rae and Landi. Rae might need to know more (and is stealthy), and Landi will pick up on magic academia. A little.
No. 1076482 ID: dd3fe0

Hmmm. It's possible they could SEE Dotti. From a distance. Maybe with some spyglasses. Dotti should maybe work on upsizing her forms a bit to be able to look 'normal-ish' from a distance? Just a brainstorm, really. You can ask about minimum safe distance later, perhaps.
No. 1076523 ID: 3c2dff
File 169921652543.png - (11.65KB , 424x500 , LF7 59.png )

All of Petra’s kids have finished breakfast, and they’re beginning to line up to go outdoors and play with Kayk again. I don’t see Raelynn; she’s still sleeping soundly. Yesterday must have taken a lot out of her.

I need an excuse to get out of Petra’s homestead. What would be natural, nay, necessary, for a well-dressed, well-heeled Lady like myself to occupy her time with?

“I shall go shopping!” I declare. “Madam Petra, would you say your stores are sufficiently stocked for snacking?”

Dotti snorfs from her spot at the table.

“Not well enough for a dragon, five Censors, a sickly elf, and a fox,” Petra says. “Elias, how low are we on the emergency cookies?”

“It’s dire,” Elias declares with mostly mock-solemnly. “I’d also ask for some fruits to help Miss Raelynn pep up. If her fever yesterday is like Piter’s a few weeks ago, she’ll be on the mend today if we give her some vitamins, fluids and rest.”

“Please,” Mother Mabel offers, “Allow the Church to assist you. Lady Kensington, you have no need to scrounge with us to serve our honored guests.”

I consider objecting, but no. That would be unLadylike. A noblewoman always lets others assist when they volunteer their manual labor!

“That is very gracious of the Church,” I say. “As my honor guard Raelynn is ill, and my fairy’s inventory is not infinite, I would of course accept your protection and offer to carry my bags. Will Pastor Pryce be watching over the children, Raelynn, Dotti and Kayk while I am out? I would be much relieved to know he will be attending to their needs and making sure nothing happens while I am away.”

“Pardon?” Pastor Pryce looks up from his scripture and writings. “Mabel, we only have you, me and the three. I don’t want any complications with dragons and spirits and a sick elf. We have responsibilities, and… who’s going to make lunch if we send Sister Nia away? The road is safe enough for Lady Kensington. She’s an adventurer.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to take your dragon with you to market?” Mabel asks me, frowning. “It would be much easier for us to spare a hand to assist you if Kayk is away from here.”

I look out the window and see Kayk having the time of her life with the kids. “I wouldn’t keep this from her for the world.”

“Very well,” Mabel grumbles. “Lady Kensington, we are, unfortunately, lacking the help to escort you to market and assist with your shopping. Your fairy’s inventory will have to do. I assure you, we will look after your retinue while you are out.”

“Understandable, if unfortunate,” I say.



Landi and I enjoy our shopping trip, loading up on fox-friendly sweet supplies as well as a few souvenirs and rights for Kayk to have one cow of her choosing once she swoops by. I’m sure she’ll appreciate the meal and the chance to have it away from the kids, who might not like her full-size table manners.

Taranis mentally alerts me to a hooded figure tending to the market’s livestock, and I make an excuse that I want to see if the cows are up to dragon standards. The farmer at the booth shrugs, warns me not to step in cow pies, and waves for me to check ‘em out while he sees to another customer, a butcher who’s upset at the price of his last week’s delivery. A beefy butcher arguing with a rugged herder? That’ll draw attention away from me, especially if I duck down next to these cows- and Brother Pierre.

“You are an adventurer,” Pierre says. “No Lady afraid of getting her hands dirty would seek me out here. Good.”

“No need for formalities in a cow pen,” I say. I don’t appreciate being tested, but I’ll put up with it for now. “Your siblings are doing well. They say they miss you.”

Pierre sighs. “Tell them I’m sorry, and it may be quite a while before I have the chance to see them again.”

“I don’t understand,” Landi says. “Can’t you just go visit them?”

“The Church keeps a close eye on my movements. It’s only with Pastor Pryce and Mother Mabel’s absence, along with their three followers, that I could sneak out. Thank you for not drawing attention to yourself as you came to visit.”

“Pierre,” I say, “This is all very suspicious. Why are we meeting in such secrecy? Is the Church that protective of your abilities? Are the effects that hazardous to me and mine?”

“The Church is very protective, yes,” Pierre says, frustration bleeding into his words. “As for danger, your companions are mostly safe from my brothers’ and sisters’ untrained, unpracticed abilities, and I am happy to explain the details later. But now that I know that Dorothea has successfully completed her journey and has not, in fact, been banished or imprisoned by Pastor Pryce, and now that I know you are not entirely reliant on Pryce or Forthill removing Dotti’s seal, I have something to ask of you.”

“And what exactly is that, Brother Pierre?”

“My Lady,” Pierre says solemnly, “I formally request asylum with House Kensington.”
No. 1076524 ID: 3c2dff
File 169921654982.png - (55.99KB , 500x500 , LF7 60.png )

Oh, sweet savior.

He’s put me in a very, very difficult spot.

“I-I-I’m not certain I can accept your request,” I stammer. “The Church has jurisdiction over the clergy. House Kensington can’t deny their request to turn you over. Why do you need asylum? Are you in danger?”

“I am not a member of the clergy,” Pierre says. “I am not ordained, and never can be. I’ve taken vows of celibacy and obedience, but those vows apply only so long as my association with the Church continues. I can, in theory, leave any time I wish. The problem with that is that no one in Giornico will allow me to leave. Ever.”

“Wait,” Landi says. “If you can just resign and give up your oaths, then why do those oaths matter at all?”

“Normally,” Pierre says, “Brothers and Sisters are on track to become ordained. It’s kind of an ‘up or out’ situation,” Pierre says. “However, I can neither be ordained nor deliver sacraments, for obvious reasons. I’m an exception to the rule: they need me to stay here and stay bound, but watch to make sure I don’t show any signs of wanting to resign my position or, for lack of a better word, escape. Once I resign my post, which can be right this moment, you would be able to legally offer me asylum, and I would no longer be subject to Church canon law.

“My Lady, I need your help if I ever want to be more than an imprisoned test subject. If you can, I would be forever in your debt if you are also able to secure some form of Kensington protection for my siblings, too, so my resignation does not lead to one of them taking my place.”

“Fuck,” Landi whispers.

“This could mean a diplomatic crisis for my city,” I say. “The Church… they have friends in high places.”

My house serves two monarchs. We’ve played them off each other for centuries and maintained a sort of quasi-city-state arrangement, but with this… the Church could apply pressure from both angles, and be the excuse either of them needs to try and seize my house’s rights and titles. This could be horrible.

But if I play this wisely…

This could position my house as more than a city-state with outsized economic influence. With this, we could be a true regional power, and potentially shake up centuries of established order. It’s very, very tempting.

A thought occurs to me.

“Will the church fight to keep you here?” I ask. “Will they deploy those soldiers garrisoned at the top of the valley? Will they use violence and spells against you?”

Pierre nods. “They may even fight you, too. They don’t take my situation lightly.”

I thought so. I’d probably be an enemy of Giornico if I grant Pierre my protection. Would they try to arrest me? That would be novel.

Another thing, and even worse… if I become an enemy of Giornico, that might mean Dotti would be forbidden from entry. Worst-case, she might never see Petra again.

This is all extremely complicated. I need to think carefully.

Should I grant Pierre asylum?
No. 1076525 ID: e51896

oh my, this is a tough one.

Alright, I'm thinking as of now, no. I really want to help Pierre, but there's too many risks and factors that can lead to dire consequences if we do this... at least as things are now

BUT, I don't want to give up on trying to help Pierre. I think one thing we need to do is try to reach some sort of deal and agreement with the church and leaders of Giornico that would make them WANT or NEED to allow Pierre asylum and his siblings protection.

Thankfully, we got the angel Usiel on our side, with her being in charge of protecting Petra and her happiness. Ergo, I think how Petra feels is going to play a big part on getting her children, including Pierre the protection they want without the church intervening too much. If they won't allow Pierre asylum, and protection for his brothers and sisters, it'll make Petra very sad which is very unhealthy for her. If I had to guess, the church most likely they haven't told Petra all about Pierre.

I think if we want to grant him asylum and protection for his siblings, we should first start by talking to Petra about Pierre and how he has been feeling, and what he wants. Petra and Usiel I think will play a key part in helping us grant Pierre asylum before we try to work out a deal with the church pastor and mayor.
No. 1076526 ID: a7a180

Yes. However, he must understand, he'll still be a pawn in their game. He'll just be on the other side of the board. His escape will not be the last political maneuver required to keep his family safe.
Ask that he give Dotti time to complete her visit, and you will pick him up as you leave. There are more mysteries about his condition to be discovered, and to hell with the Censors keeping them all to themselves.
No. 1076530 ID: 273c18

Yes. I think we can fight our way out well enough, we have a dragon. Though, the actual escape will have to wait until Rae is back on her feet, and ideally we'd just fly him out on Kayk's back. How are they gonna stop that?

Getting permission to visit Petra again is a problem though. I'm not sure how we'll manage that. Maybe we can blackmail the Church? If we keep Pierre's abilities secret while he's in asylum, we can use that as leverage. On the other hand, maybe Dotti will be content with this. She finally found Petra, and knows she is safe. Giving up visiting rights in order to protect Petra's son seems like something Dotti might actually DO, at this point, considering how much Petra praised her for her selfless safekeeping of the bacon. On the other other hand maybe we should talk to Dotti about this before agreeing to anything?
No. 1076531 ID: eb0a9c

... You came here for Dotti's sake.
And she's loyal to Petra, first and foremost.

On the one hand, if Petra and her family really are being held captive against their will, then it's imperative you act against the church. This whole situation reeks of a breeding cult, and if the religious faction hell-bent on erasing the truth develops a monopoly on spiritually-invisible magic-resistant agents, the whole world is screwed.

But here's an important factor: Pierre passively drains spirit power from the surrounding environment. That means Landi and Dotti would need to stay away from him, which makes politically protecting him in person significantly harder. And... we're not sure he'll be himself once he's outside the biometric regulations of Usiel and whatever the Censors have cooked up.

Ultimately, you'd like to get Petra's opinion on the subject, followed by Dotti's. Either way, you still need to get deeply involved. This is too big an opportunity for your House and too great a threat for the world.
No. 1076548 ID: b6ec4d

The most important factor for Serah to consider here is Dotti. If she helps Pierre, then she may interfere with Dotti's ability to see Petra again. That might make not helping seem like the Dotti-approved option, but that could be a problem as well. Would Petra really be happy with you just turning down Pierre? This may be his only chance to ever escape from the Church's clutches, so if she supports him, then she may not agree with your call. Now, she probably wouldn't mind Dotti visiting in that scenario, but it might strain the relationship.

Ideally, you would put the decision off until you can consult Petra and Dotti. It isn't entirely clear if that's an option however. If you HAVE to make a choice right now, based solely on the information presented, then you should help Pierre. Your party owes Petra a lot for taking care of Dotti in her early years. It's only right that you repay her family the favor.
No. 1076578 ID: f2cf5a

Haven't chimed in in a while, but this is too big to not. After thinking this all through for a bit...I don't like this situation. I can't say the risks outWEIGH the rewards, in a fashion, but it feels like too much effort nonetheless. It's not a one-time thing if we say yes to Pierre, it's not like we fool the church a single time and all's well. This is permanent, and if the church clues in too early, or hell, just decides 'fuck it' and gets suspicious, Serah's out on her ass and all but a fugitive at the worst.

If I'm understanding this correctly, anywho.

There's too many points of failure, too many mouths to keep it quiet, too many ways for the Church to screw over everyone five ways from Sunday. That said.

Despite my VERY MANY MISGIVINGS. Yes. Do it. There's a shitton to be gained here and the Church needs to be at least shown they can't control all this horseshit.

HOWEVER. Break The Fellowship first. Everyone needs to scatter. Even if there's some method of magic to keep in touch, I can't say it'd be a good idea to give the church multiple outside vectors to attack Serah and her family. It's a matter of safety's sake and plausible deniability, while still potentially leaving escape avenues open if the worst DOES come to pass.
No. 1076581 ID: 0b594e

This decision needs to be made now, it would raise too much suspicion if Serah returned to consult her party.
I think Dotti would want to help Petra's family, even if it makes it difficult to visit again.
The benefits of having Pierre on our side and the threat of what the church might do with him make this too good of an opportunity to turn down.
No. 1076593 ID: 931cdf

I mean, he asked for help. The only questions now are whether you will be helping him as a noble or as an adventurer, and what consequences will follow after that.
No. 1076598 ID: 2a82d3

I have my doubts about how much the angel will go along with this. If Pierre can't be ordained, that means the nature of his power is ethereal rather than divine. I also doubt Petra will be happy with anyone starting a feud with the home she found after her trials, but I will say there is an easy shortcut to making Petra a happy mother, as well having legitimate interest in moving his family to your estate. The catch is it's dependent on your honest answer to this question:

Sarah, how cute do you find this man right now?

To be clear, it's ok if your answer is not at all. There are another workarounds, and you'd be hard pressed to call these circumstances romantic. If he was the one in your fantasy earlier, though, that could've been a premonition.
No. 1076603 ID: 8f9bc4

Uh, yeah? Duh!

OK let's describe a situation in which some lovely people able to put on a nice smile while entrapping and imprisonning someone to perform experiments on them. Let's say those experiments bear fruit. Now these lovely people have some incredibly powerful weapon that they can use to destroy any obstacles to their power (i.e. you). Even if Pierre were just a very ugly bobble head doll, you do not want people like this to get access to something that can destroy your magic, or your soul, just by pointing and shooting. Remember Petra's original situation, so these children's unique properties are very closely related to that which rends souls.

I repeat this is not about Pierre. This is about nascent tyranny currently in the process of being born, through manipulation of people's good intentions. Heck even if you yourself imprison Pierre in your sex dungeon and experiment on him, that'd still be more of a balance of power than sitting idly by and letting this church have a monopoly over it.
No. 1076681 ID: 3c2dff
File 169933548630.png - (7.54KB , 500x385 , LF7 61.png )

I want to help Pierre for so many reasons. I really do. But this is so difficult- how can I possibly be expected to solve everything right now, with no preparation? Is this what it means to be a leader? To have the power to change the course of lives on my single rushed decision?

I think about toning down the stakes. What if I don’t use my status as a noble to solve this? What if I just smuggle Pierre out and don’t grant him asylum? Ahhhhh, that would just leave him open to kidnapping by the Church’s agents and all sorts of nasty plots. Without a House backing him, the Church would be free to use every tool in their arsenal to bring him in, and I’d have to pretend I never helped him or else terrible things would happen to Kensington.

Think, Serah! Think! Don’t panic… don’t panic… There has to be a way out of this that leaves everybody happy, no one hurt, and Dotti still able to see Petra again. What’s an easy way to grab a cute guy and leave with him that no one will question?

Marriage! Of course!

I’ll load up my betrothed’s family on Kayk’s back right away and my House’s mercenaries will be ready the moment Pierre and I fly into Kensington Keep, the ceremony will be right then and there, and that’s that!


Pierre won’t be my husband until I marry him! Gah! How could I forget that? I don’t have an excuse to claim his family as mine until he’s upgraded from betrothed to husband. If nobles were allowed to do that, then politics would devolve into a game of declaring no-tag-backs and stealing each others’ family trees. Well, we still do that, but that would just make things silly.

I have to pause a moment and appreciate the fact that I’ve actually seriously considered marrying a man I’ve just met, just to make the politics of this situation easier and gain a bunch of power.

Daddy would be proud of me and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

“Serah?” Landi whispers in my ear. “Are we gonna help Pierre? He’s cool, but, like, this is some serious shit here. Is being cool worth risking us getting speared?”

I nod and speak up to both Landi and Pierre. “I want to help you, Pierre. I do. The problem is that this doesn’t affect just me. It affects my House, my friends, and the lives of those who call me their Lady. I need time to consult with Kayk and Dotti, and see if my honor guard is ready for a potential fight. If I’m not careful, Kayk’s mother, Mai Terrorscale, might even get dragged into this.”

“I understand, Lady Kensington,” Pierre says, “But right now is the single best time to offer me asylum. If you turn me away or delay your decision, it would mean I would have to resign at our next meeting, not now. The Church could forbid me from leaving the monastery until you depart, and I’m certain Pastor Pryce or Mother Mabel will do so once they return from my family’s homestead. They were rushed earlier, and their heads will be clearer on their likely return tomorrow.”

“Why not resign right now regardless of what happens?” I ask, “Will it alert the Church if you do? I thought you had anti-magic.”

“They would not know immediately,” he nods, “But I would no longer be among the faithful, and I would not be able to enter consecrated ground, which is where I’m expected to eat, sleep and do anything, really. Actually, I could probably use my abilities to enter consecrated ground, but it would be difficult for me to constantly keep my soul invisible to the consecration field, and I would not be able to do so while asleep. At least, not without practice. Please also know that I cannot resign in the presence of another member of the Church without filing paperwork, and that takes time for them to review and process it. I have to be out of sight and earshot of another Censor if I want to resign without it. It’s Canon Law, and I can’t break it without inviting disaster.”

“Fuck Canon Law,” Landi says. “They can’t really stop you from quitting, can they?”

“They can slow it down as long as I quit in their presence. It could take weeks, which is time enough for them to build an actual prison for me. They’d be nice about it, of course. But a prison it would be.”

“Could you wait to resign until I speak to my party members?” I ask. “This is important to me.”

“Lady Kensington, you have the power to make this decision without consulting anyone else,” Pierre presses. “One might even argue that it’s expected of you where quick action is necessary. My mother will understand. I can’t speak for Dorothea, but I would think a fox spirit that escaped death could find a way back to my mother if she set her mind to it and tread carefully enough. Though…”

Pierre grimaces.

“I don’t think you should tell my mother about this,” he sighs. “She is watched over by a guardian angel by the name of Usiel. Anything you say to my mother, Usiel will also hear.”

Landi gasps. “Are you saying we’re gonna have to fight an ANGEL? Was THAT what I felt back there? Holy FUCK.”

“Very holy,” Pierre agrees. “I don’t think Usiel is charged with doing anything but protecting my mother from spirits, and possibly some physical threats, but I don’t know the full details. I’m not allowed to know. Despite everything, they treat me as an outsider.”

“Pierre,” I say, “I want to help you, but again, I don’t understand why I shouldn’t at least talk to Dotti about this. I’ll need to go back to your family’s house get Kayk anyway. If I send Taranis to get my party, it’ll be suspicious that they suddenly decided to leave for no reason. The Censors might give chase.”

“I’ve planned this out. I’ve had plenty of time,” Pierre says. “Father Forthill, Pastor Pryce and Mother Mabel are the only other ones who keep track of me minute-by-minute and know my schedule for the day. Father Forthill is preoccupied for at least a few hours with a project of his that I suspect I won’t like once it’s done. I’ll stay here at the market running errands, and I won’t be missed at the monastery for most of the afternoon. You go back to my family’s homestead with your supplies, then say you need to take Dorothea outside of the city limits for her health. If Dorothea is a good actress, all the better. I will hide in the mill here at the market- it has a water wheel you can see from the air. If the Censors have discovered I’m missing, I can slip into the water and swim downriver, where Kayk can pick me up with her mouth or claws. I won’t object. Otherwise, we can say you wanted another souvenir and meet me here. The sooner you come back on Kayk to the market, the less likely I’ll be missed at the monastery, and by the time they discover I’m gone this will be a fait accompli.”

It’s a good plan, and one that requires quick action. I’d also get to confer with Dotti before I do so, and Raelynn too. But not Petra- I don’t want to go anywhere near an actual angel. Can Usiel see into my soul? I don’t want to find out.

Do I go forward with Pierre’s plan and grant him asylum immediately, make adjustments to it, or do something else entirely?
No. 1076682 ID: a7a180

Yes. Snap decisions are your responsibility as team leader - his plan is sound, And Dotti will have time to say her goodbyes.
You can ponder the political marriage plan later, but... definitely don't dismiss it out of hand. Surely Petra's family would have an invite to the wedding.
No. 1076684 ID: b6ec4d

Petra cares for her children and wants what is best for them, and Dotti's main goal was ensuring that Petra was alive and well. Dotti may be sad that she won't get to visit easily afterwards, but she's made greater sacrifices for Petra in the past.

Do it.
No. 1076685 ID: f2cf5a

My suggestion remains the same. Do it, and be prepared to split everyone up for safety's sake. The Church is gonna be Pissed with a capital P, and they're gonna try everything to take vengance. No reason to give them easy targets.
No. 1076686 ID: 273c18

>marriage won't work
Correction: it won't work in the short term. You might be able to marry Pierre to save your House from being brutalized by the Clergy? Or you could consider marrying into Mai's family, that could work as well.

Tell him you'll agree to grant him asylum. However, let me propose an alternate plan: does he think it likely he'll be able to get permission to stay at Petra's house for the night?
Really what I'm concerned about now is Rae, is she well enough to participate in the battle we will undoubtedly have to fight on the way out? We won't likely be able to use Dotti's help until we're outside of city limits as well; we don't know what other areas of danger there are... and... oh I guess the Clergy won't directly attack us so they can't threaten to close the gates on Dotti to severely injure her. So I guess all we have to worry about are any spiritual traps.

WE know that the Angel's priority is Petra and only Petra, but I don't know of any way to communicate that without doing something risky like trying to talk to Pierre directly. If we could do that, we could tell him that the Angel is protecting us from being banished, which means we could potentially be sent out to cause a distraction among the clergy. Oh wait, Pierre has no reason to believe anything we say. We probably shouldn't try to talk to him.
No. 1076687 ID: eb0a9c

I think... I think we should ask Usiel if Pierre is a good person. Just a passing question to Petra. It's as close to honesty as we can get on this smash-and-grab.
No. 1076688 ID: 93792e

Pierre has a good plan, well thought out, and I think you should go with it.

As for the rest of his family, you DID bring up the husband thing just now. Marriage might not solve this short term but it might in the long term allow you to require the Censors to relinquish their claim on Pierre's family.

While the hope from your father was likely to marry a nobleman for the sake of political power, I doubt he would have any complaint when you explain that your future husband and children would be immune to hostile magic. That's a boon to any bloodline.

Plus Pierre's cute.
No. 1076703 ID: 5b771e

Go for it! You're a leader! There's tons of sayings that apply here: "Fortune favors the bold", "Seize the day", "To dare is to do", and "He who dares, wins"!
No. 1076716 ID: b6ec4d

Since enough people are talking about it, I'd like to specifically toss in a vote against political marriage. Let's go along eith Pierre's plan and skip the whole idea of marriage.
No. 1076726 ID: 3ea497

Maybe... maybe there is something we can also do to avoid a serious enmisty with the Censors.

It's risky, very very risky. But there is a chance it will allow Pierre to leave unimpeded.

Let us ask Uriel for aid.

I know, I know, we do not know the full array of his responsibilities, but we DO know that he truly feels for Petra and for her family and, whatever obligations he may have beyond protecting her, he is not mandated to keep people confined as part of the clergy against their will.

Best case scenario, he can intersede in order to convince the clergy to let Pierre go, same as his siblings when they are old enough. Worst case, he will deny us and tell Mother Mabel and Father Forthill of the plan, in which case we will have to resort to Plan B: appeal to common sense, appeal to conscience, and a whole lot of boot-licking.

If no one is convince of this, then going along with the plan as presented, with no marriage, sounds like a good Plan C.
No. 1076742 ID: f2cf5a

And yeah, voting no political marriage if we DO do this.
No. 1076748 ID: bb08fd

I want to suggest one thing, considering what we're doing is going to be very risky: ask Landi somewhere privately to fairy godmother you the lucky panties. It helped out Dotti against Gecko and Mai Terrorscale, and it helped you not make a total fool of yourself at the Marquess Mallory dinner party. I think this is something we need for this situation.

Hopefully we can wear it under the spats, but if not, just be careful dismounting and mounting Kayk.
No. 1076751 ID: 273c18

At some point Serah is going to have to figure out a plan to endure the fallout from this... If not marriage, what? What groups are large and powerful enough to defend her family from the Church? Could we just straight up make a deal with Mai for her direct intervention?
No. 1076771 ID: b6ec4d


Y'know, Usiel's seems cool, I don't mind talking to her about the plan. Getting her blessing is probably smart anyway, lest Dotti show up again in the future and get smited by her.
No. 1076772 ID: a7a180

Usiel is a literal tool of the censors and talking to her about the plan is a terrible idea. Don't snitch.
No. 1076776 ID: 273c18

No talking to the Angel. We got away clean last time, but there's no way she'd forgive us so easily for conspiring to defy the Church. This isn't a rebel faction of clergy, they have the support of the Goddess in how they're handling Petra's family. I'm not sure if Usiel will remove our blessing or not once the escape plan happens; does this count as staying true to our goals?
No. 1076909 ID: 3c2dff
File 169959031709.png - (13.77KB , 550x369 , LF7 62.png )

When I started out on my own, I was a nervous, naïve neophyte who had to beg for help just to get her potion bag back. Since then I’ve faced beasts, spirits, and a very angry dragon.

I’ve also made not one, but two gravity bombs. I can handle a difficult decision if it’s for a good cause.

When I explain this to Dotti, I hope she understands that Petra cares about her children just as much, if not more, than Dotti cares about Petra. Dotti’s also come a long way since we met, and I believe in her willingness to try and see things from other people’s points of view.

I’ll do it. I’ll help Pierre. And once he’s safely away, I’ll help his family, too. There’s probably a messy solution to protect his family and my House doesn’t involve marriage; I’ll figure something out.

“I shall accept your plea for asylum,” I tell Pierre, “Once you resign your fellowship with the Church of Censorship.”

Pierre blinks in shock, the reality of the situation settling in. He shakes his head, closes his eyes and steels himself, then whispers a few words.

“It is done,” Pierre says, opening his eyes. He looks up at me, then to Landi, then back to me. He clears his throat uncertainly, then immediately drops to one knee. “Lady Kensington, I beseech thy aid.”

“You, Pierre, are now under the protection of House Kensington,” I declare. “I claim thee as my subject, free of your bonds to this land. Your serfdom is hereby terminated, and you may pass with me from these lands. A harm done to you is unto me.”

“My Lady,” Pierre says, his voice trembling. “I’m… free to leave?”

“You are,” I say. “I agree with your plan. Please wait in the mill until I return with Kayk.”

“Thank you.” He gets to his feet and I see that his eyes are shimmering. “This means… everything.”

“Please do not thank me until we are far, far from here,” I say. “Landi, I’d like you to be ready to cast every protective spell you know on everyone in the party, including Pierre. You may use my core mana to do so. My mutagen’s regenerative properties will balance out my health if you stagger your spells out over a few minutes.”

“You wanna use, the, uh, other buff I got?” Landi asks. “You know. The lucky one?”

I consider.

The Lucky Panties have done well for us so far. Very, very well. Thankfully, no one has suffered too many strokes of bad luck from the debuff after taking them off. If we use them today, we’ll get only the benefits, so long as we don’t remove them when we’re in danger.

“Can you godmother them onto me under my spats?” I whisper, considerate of the fact that Pierre is here and I don’t want to make things awkward.

“Sure,” Landi says, “But it’ll be uncomfortable. And the side-tie knots might get loosened by the spats if you’re moving around a lot.”

“So tie them tight,” I say, exasperated. “We’ll be trying to avoid suspicion from the Church and an angel if things go poorly. I want you to put them on me as soon as-“

I pause.

Am I really the best choice for the Lucky Panties?

Dotti can’t transform out of her fox form until she removes the holy symbol, so she’s out for now. Landi is too small to wear them.

Raelynn, if she fights, will still be getting used to her vastly improved Feline Grace mutagen. I don’t want her to have to recalibrate her reflexes and sense of stability in the middle of an incredibly dangerous conflict.

There’s also someone else: Pierre. What would be unlucky is if he’s discovered to be missing between now and when I return with Kayk, and the Censors raise the alarm at the monastery. He could use a boost of good luck to avoid troubles… but do I really want to offer him something really, really awkward?

Who should Landi godmother the Lucky Panties onto?

1. Serah
2. Raelynn
3. Pierre
4. No one

No. 1076914 ID: a7a180

Serah, these are yours now, so use 'em! You don't have to take off the spats right here.
No. 1076915 ID: a25322

Please give Pierre the panties.

I won't even try to provide a logical argument, I just think it'd be funny.
No. 1076922 ID: de5cb4

Awkward, yes, but Pierre seems to be the one who will be most relying on luck on this endeavor.
No. 1076926 ID: 12b116

Pierre might actually be a good choice, and not just because it would be funny to do that without telling him beforehand. Rae would be the first choice if we actually get in a fight. Hopefully we can sneak him out without that happening
No. 1076928 ID: 8f9bc4

No. 1076931 ID: eb0a9c

Give 'em to Petronel.
Pierre should not be alone.
No. 1076936 ID: 273c18

3. It just makes sense, I'm afraid. We want to avoid a fight, and him having the panties makes that much more likely. Optimally, he could get SO lucky he stumbles across a long-term solution for us.
As for the awkwardness, tell him he is an adventurer now, and wearing strange or embarrassing magical items is just part of the job.

My second choice is Rae, because she will be our second most powerful fighter and the Church will have some kind of anti-Dragon defenses prepared if they choose to fight us.
No. 1076962 ID: 9a7f08

Put them on, Serah!
No. 1076999 ID: 3c2dff
File 169967740111.png - (11.04KB , 300x246 , LF7 63.png )

I’d very much like things to go my way once I get back to Petra’s homestead, but Pierre is the one who’s relying on luck the most. If someone back at the monastery notices he’s missing, that could complicate things.

That means I need him to gird his loins with the Lucky Panties.

“Pierre?” I ask sweetly. “You knew I was an adventurer when you asked for my aid, yes?”

Pierre nods.

“Adventuring gear comes in many shapes and sizes,” I say. “Flexibility is key. Even if I’d like to wear something comfortable when I’m fighting, comfort has to go by the wayside to get the job done. Do you understand?”

“I think so,” Pierre says. “I’m not exactly equipped with adventurer-level gear. Does Landi have something for me?”

“I’m so glad you asked,” I say. “That makes this so much easier. Landi?”

“You bet I do!” Landi says. “Hey, why don’t I just Godmother you the gear. Makes things easier for me to swap out your stuff on the fly, too. I just gotta get your permission to use my Godmother clothes-swapping and clothes-adjusting and clothes-removing spells on you. So whattya say? Do you agree?”

“Yes,” Pierre says, and I grimace inwardly. He’s about to get his first initiation to why you should never accept fairy deals when they’re too good to be true. Sorry, Pierre, but that was my first lesson too.

Landi swirls around Pierre’s waist, sparkles fly, and…

Landi has swapped PIERRE’S BRIEFS for LUCKY PANTIES!

“Aaah!” Pierre yelps. “What was THAT?! What happened?! What am I wearing?!”

“It’s nothing to worry about,” I say nervously. “They’re just a lucky pair of underwear. Very lucky! Just don’t take them off, or else you’ll be unlucky for a while. Don’t worry, I’ve tested it.”

I groan inwardly. That could have been phrased better…

“You’ve what?!

“Please trust me,” I urge. “This strategy helped Dotti fight off a dragon!”

“Dotti’s worn these too?!”

“They’re very clean!” I say, blushing furiously. “I take good care of my panties!”

“I’m wearing used panties,” Pierre reels. “The Church told me this would happen! The moral depravity, the destruction of decency, the dire consequences, the warnings were all true!”

“The Church warned you that if you left, you’d have to wear women’s underwear?” I gape. “Really?”

“Yes!” Pierre wails. “They said I’d be thrust into a world brimming with fetishes and no respect for traditional gender roles!”

“Damn, they got us there,” Landi says.

“Landi, you’re not helping!”

“You got this, Serah! Emotional support fairy is helping!”

“Fine,” I seethe. “Pierre, I’m serious. Please suffer through this until we’re safely away. I’m going to go get Kayk, Dotti and Raelynn now.”

“Yes, my Lady,” Pierre whimpers.

I rush out of the pen, beet-red and feeling much less like a Lady than I did going in. I hop back onto the horse I borrowed and begin the sidesaddle ride back to Petra’s homestead, with baking supplies and souvenirs enough to avoid suspicion.

I really, really don’t want to deal with Usiel.

When I arrive back at Petra’s homestead, how strongly do I avoid Petra?

1. Very strongly: Don’t even get near her, and make any excuse to avoid doing so. Zero chance Usiel will see my soul and into my intrusive thoughts, if that’s even possible.
2. Strongly: Try and avoid her unless there’s no other option.
3. Play it Casual: Avoid her, but make it natural.
4. Don’t avoid her: risky, and I’ll be nervous, but raises the least suspicion with the mortal Censors.
No. 1077001 ID: a7a180

Don't avoid her. You have no shame, so what's there to detect?
No. 1077002 ID: e51896

4. I dont know, maybe my faith is blind, but I get the feeling that we can get Usiel on our side on this, even if the angel is working with the censors. We got on Usiel's good side after confessing, and our wish for Pierre, Petra, and the rest of petra's family to be happy is a common goal. It might take some convincing though, but I think we can work something out, like a deal. We aren't even sure what Usiel thinks about the censors holding Pierre hostage like this is.

we as spirits could talk to Usiel if Serah cant, or if she gets in trouble.
No. 1077005 ID: 8f9bc4

1. Because Usiel is an angel, not a reasoning being. They have their purpose, and their demands, and I know that Sarah might be fine, but one of us spirits tagging along with her is going to trip over their own spiritual foot and trigger Usiel like a nuclear detonation.

More importantly though, tell Pierre the story about Taranis, how evil spirits totally corrupted his innocent chaste crow thoughts and forced him to steal panties he totally didn't want to as the avatar and disciple of the great pervert Odin Himself.

Then tell him that this "world brimming with fetishes and no respect for traditional gender roles" took the spirits away from Taranis, forced them to swear to be chaste and pure, (not Taranis of course because he was just a victim here), restored everyone's undergarments to their rightful owner, and ended all panty related shenanigans. That lucky underwear he's wearing is literally the only sexy thing that exists in your world. He's got nothing to fear. Besides they're very soft, and comfortable!
No. 1077006 ID: 932a49

3. "Keep your distance, but don't look like you're trying to keep your distance. Fly casual."
No. 1077007 ID: b6ec4d

4, If anything I think you should try to find a moment to tell Petra what's going on if you can get even a moment away from the censors. Usiel may approve, or she may not. Given how she spoke of Petra, I think she would approve of Pierre's decisions, given that they were his own.

No matter the case, I wouldn't be so bold as to suggest that she wouldn't find out what we're up to. Respect her power and authority, and be direct with our intentions: We intend to help Pierre in the manner he has requested from us.
No. 1077018 ID: 273c18

3. Give Petra some space. That's what you're supposed to be doing anyway! She's only supposed to take visitors in her warded area.
I don't think Usiel is going to confront us again (unless we go into the warded area again, which we shouldn't) but it's probably better if we don't give any of our more naive spirits a chance to confess and blow our chances of rescuing Pierre. There is a very very low chance of Usiel approving of the plan-- she is a servant of the Goddess who is in charge of Keeping Secrets. Pierre is a big secret.

Oh, don't forget to warn Rae about the Angel. Her senses could allow her to see Usiel, which is probably a bad thing.
No. 1077034 ID: 3c2dff
File 169973674513.png - (28.82KB , 700x400 , LF7 64.png )

As much as I’d like to explain myself (and the panties) to Pierre further, I can’t be seen with him publicly in the market. He’ll have to surreptitiously make his way to the mill from the cow pen and hope his panties are lucky enough to protect him.

Sweet Savior, I want today to be over and it’s barely past noon.

When I near Petra’s homestead, I spot Kayk flying in lazy, low circles above the trees. The whoops of excited children echo around the valley once I near, and I can’t help but smile. This’ll be a day the kids never forget.

I arrive back at the homestead to find Petra and Elias, along with Mother Mabel and another Censor, watching and calling out to Kayk, telling her to be careful, and generally being parents. I give them a smile and a wave and try to ignore the terrible tingle down my spine as I look at Petra.

Don’t focus too hard, don’t focus too hard, don’t focus too hard…

“Where are Dotti and Rae?” I ask Elias. “Are they doing well?”

“Rae is awake and doing some kind of stretching exercises in the backyard. Dotti is with Nel,” Elias says. “They’re making some kind of word board that Dotti can point to and communicate with.”

“Oooh, I don’t have to be a Dotti Translator anymore?” Landi says, but she’s missing a lot of the pep she had earlier. I guess Usiel is making her nervous too. “I got tired of asking for food, pets and Petra. As long as it has those three I can take it easy.”

“We’ll go say hi to Rae and Dotti now,” I say, clearing my throat and hoping I’m not sweating. “Dotti’s been locked away from the spiritual realm for a while now, and I want to make sure she’s not suffocating, or starving, or whatever happens when she’s sealed for too long.”

Thankfully, Petra, Elias and Mother Mabel with the Censors are too focused on Kayk and the kids’ misadventures to notice my nervousness, since they’re worried too. Maybe they assume I’m nervous about their kids. That’s also an excuse to be on edge. Hooray, everyone’s stressed!

I quickly make a trip over to Rae, who’s doing a one-handed handstand. She’s looking much better than she did yesterday.

“Rae,” I say, careful to keep my voice down. “How do you feel?”

“Odd,” Rae says, shifting from one hand to the other, still upside-down. “Gravity seems… less important, somehow. Almost an afterthought.”

“And the fever?”

“Gone,” she says. “I feel stronger. Faster. Sleeker. It’ll take some time to get used to my new twitch muscles and how fast I can react at full speed. Once my mind catches up to my body, I’ll be able to do things straight out of tall tales, I think.”

“Do you think you’ll be ready if things take a turn for the worse today?” I ask, kneeling down next to her. “I’ve made some decisions the Church won’t like. We may need to make a fighting retreat.”

Rae bends her elbow and launches upward, landing on her feet. “Lethal or nonlethal?”

“Nonlethal, for now,” I say. “Don’t escalate unless they do first. Once I tell you we’re leaving, you need to keep a close eye out for pursuers. We’ll have one extra to watch out for, and he’s under my protection. The Church will want him back. He’s the priority.”

“We can’t take off Dotti’s holy symbol until 24 after we leave Giornico,” Rae says. “She’ll be vulnerable if she’s hurt.”

“We have a way to take it off. That’s all I can say for now. And…” I pause. “Have you met Petra yet?”

“No,” Rae says. “I just woke up.”

“She has a guardian angel,” I say. “Don’t focus your senses on her. You might be blinded, or worse.”

“Definitely worse,” Landi shudders.

“An angel?” Rae crosses her arms over her chest. “Serah, I can’t win against one of those. I’m not even sure I can pull off a fighting retreat, even on a dragon. Do you know how fast they are?”

“I’ve read my scripture,” I sigh. “Yes, I’m aware. Please, just be ready for anything, okay?”

Rae nods. It’s as strong a response from her as I’ll ever get.
No. 1077036 ID: 3c2dff
File 169973687310.png - (17.60KB , 700x490 , LF7 65.png )

Next up is Dotti. She’s patting her little paws on a piece of paper tacked over a board, which I soon see is the height of fox communication technology. There’s also a second board with the letters of the alphabet and numbers spread over it, but Dotti is using the first board much more.

“Hello, Nel,” I say. “Dotti. How are you today?”


“Yes, actually.” I pull out a satchel of baking supplies for Kayk, though I know I’ll never get to use them if things go according to plan. “Nel, if you could help me set these up in the kitchen, I would much appreciate it.”

“Okay.” Nel spies the flour and sugar and smiles. “Thank you, Lady Kensington.”

Nel brings the supplies over to Sister Nia, who’s cleaning up the supplies from lunch. I grabbed a snack at the market, so I pass on the offer of food to get a chance to talk to Dotti.

“Dotti,” I say, keeping my voice down, “We may need to leave sooner than planned. I know you wanted to spend more time before you started getting hungry for spirit energy, but there’s something very important that came up.”

I glance around and make sure there aren’t any Censors nearby. Landi also confirms and keeps watch, and I explain to Dotti the situation: Pierre, who he is, why he’s important and that he’s been essentially imprisoned by the Church, and that I’ve offered him asylum.

PIERRE GOOD? Dotti asks.

“I don’t know,” I say. “I just met him, but yes, he seems to be a good person.”


“There’s one thing,” I say. “The Church isn’t going to like this at all. Whoever helps Pierre get away, they’ll hate. They might not let you come back to visit Petra for a long, long time, if ever.”

Dotti’s eyes go wide. Her ears droop and she lets out a long, low whine.

“I’m sorry, Dotti,” Landi says. “It fucking sucks, I know.”

“I can disavow you,” I say. “You never swore to be part of my House, or serve me. We’re only contracted. If we break the contract, you can have plausible deniability that you weren’t involved.”

Dotti looks to me, to Landi, to Petra outside, then and back again.


“Thank you, Dotti,” I say. “I know how much this means to you.”


“Maybe you will,” I smile. “Wouldn’t that be wonderful?”


“Yeah,” Landi says.

I explain the plan. Dotti will play up her spirit hunger, and get a chance to say her goodbyes to Petra and the family. Kayk will be heartbroken she can’t bake for the kids, but she’ll understand once I explain things in the air.

And now, the real question.

Do I explain to Petra what we’re doing, and why? I really don’t want to risk Usiel’s wrath, but I feel like Petra kind of deserves to know what’s happening.
No. 1077038 ID: e51896

Yes, why? because as a parent, Petra will be supportive of whatever Pierre will want if it makes her son happy. And if her son is happy, Petra will be happy as a mother, and Usiel I believe will want Petra to stay happy by having her son be happy and letting him go with us to live his life and will support our decision and help ensure her and the res of her children will continue living a peaceful life. Usiel might probably support us enough to have the censors give us the okay to do this if they try to fight back.

have faith.
No. 1077039 ID: e51896

Also, plz give Dotti a hug.
No. 1077047 ID: b6ec4d

Yes. Make sure you frame it correctly: Pierre made this request of us, and we are helping him do what he wants. I'm sure Petra will understand either way, but it'd be good to confirm for Usiel that this isn't us spirits messing with things we shouldn't, but something Pierre independently decided and specifically reached out to Serah about.


Agreed, very important.
No. 1077049 ID: b57fea

Let her know, but try not to frame it as something likely to spark a war, more as just him expanding his horizons.
No. 1077050 ID: a7a180

Yes. State the facts: Her kids are unique and the Church has their own plans for when they grow up. She wants what's best for them and she's encouraged to come to her own conclusions what that might be.
No. 1077056 ID: 273c18

>Do I explain to Petra what we’re doing, and why?
No. Leave her a note, that she will find after you are gone. I reiterate, Usiel WILL NOT LIKE THIS. We just found out angels are incredibly fast, which means if we alert her, she can go alert the main church and be back here... uh... actually I suspect she can't leave Petra's side at all, nevermind. She could still alert any clergy that are at the house though, and could certainly smite the hell out of us and maybe any of our party members near Petra.
No. 1077058 ID: eb0a9c

Casually state that Pierre accidentally requested that he wanted to get into your panties - the kind of stuff that gets nobles married. And that you 'proposed' such an insinuation on the spot for a laugh.

Write a letter that she is to read in the evening:
"And he said yes."
She'll get the point without having enough evidence to alert the clergy.
No. 1077063 ID: f2cf5a

Leave a note. It's foolish to risk Usiel's wrath. Even if she agrees in principle, she may just bring the hurt because her duty demands it regardless. She strikes me as that sort.
No. 1077064 ID: 273c18

Uh... no...
No. 1077074 ID: de5cb4

Please don't let the angel know that we are going against its church. Leave Petra a heartfelt letter, letting her know that our house will be there for her and her children.
No. 1077078 ID: 3c2dff
File 169976476374.png - (105.43KB , 702x681 , LF7 66.png )

I give Dotti a hug tight. No matter what happens today, I'll never doubt Dotti's empathy again.

With that done...

If I tell Petra about Pierre's plan and why she won't be able to see her son for quite a while (if ever again), she might thank me for reassuring her myself. She might take comfort in the fact that I'd risk everything to ensure she has a chance to deliver a message to her son as he sets out on his greatest adventure.

On the other hand...

I'd be informing Usiel about my plan to take Pierre away. I don't know Usiel's relationship with the Church, but would an angel for a secret-keeping goddess really do nothing when I'm threatening to expose a secret that could threaten its Church, if not the continent? Would there be a benefit to doing something Pierre specifically warned me not to do?

I don't know. I have a bad, bad feeling about taking that risk.

Am I sure I want to tell Petra to her face about Pierre's request to leave and give her a chance to say parting words to her son, or should I leave Petra a letter for her to read later?
No. 1077080 ID: eb0a9c

Give her a letter (use what Nel just created as a sort of cipher). She'll figure it out.

Remember: Usiel is an angel of confidentiality. Keeping secrets is part of their duty. Keeping your own secrets (instead of blabbing them all over and getting Petra worried) is something they'll understand.
No. 1077081 ID: f2cf5a

...Okay, so please listen to the QM asking 'ARE YOU SURE?' That's literally never a good sign, and don't presume this is some stupid double-bluff.

No, don't tell her.
No. 1077083 ID: b6ec4d

So this is the moment in the quest where we do a strong about face and change our minds. We have told the dungeon master what we want to do, and he made a face. He has leaned in and asked "Are you sure?", and the answer to that question should not be an affirmative. Nevermind those silly thoughts from before. Let's not say a word about this plan to Petra actually.
No. 1077084 ID: e51896

Alright, lets not. I was banking on hoping being honest will get on Usiel's good side, and help us, since we managed to confess and show we mean no harm, but it's probably not in the cards. If the church of the censors decide to break their relationships with our house in the future, we can always try to promote Priscilla church and religion for their support for peace instead, and build relationships with them
No. 1077085 ID: dd3fe0

Leave a letter
No. 1077086 ID: 8f9bc4

Petra has already had to deal with the Censors keeping her from seeing Pierre, since he's their latest guinea pig. She'd be glad to have a letter knowing that he's made it out. It would also give her warning in case they target another of her children, without risking the Censors learning that Petra has been warned.

I am of the opinion that Usiel is very scary and we should avoid saying anything that might incur her wrath, displeasure, slight contempt, or mild disapproval.
No. 1077087 ID: a7a180

Usiel does not have a good side. Remember that. She has one side she's on and that's the Church's.
A letter will let you be more direct in your words while being indirect in delivery.
No. 1077088 ID: f1ce95

All angels are evil, irredeemable and should not be trusted. Do not directly tell Petra.
No. 1077100 ID: b57fea

I'm sold, lets just write a letter to be delivered at a later date; its the best of both worlds
No. 1077104 ID: 273c18

Leave her the letter.
No. 1077128 ID: 3ea497

Err....I retract my previous suggestion.
No. 1077378 ID: 3c2dff
File 170010558775.png - (7.88KB , 500x330 , LF7 67.png )

Telling an angel of the Veiled Goddess about a plot we’re in the middle of completing against the Church of Censorship seems like a very bad idea. Writing a letter explaining why we did it, that will be delivered after Petra’s son is safely away, is far, far less risky. Anything I do to keep Pierre’s escape as uneventful as possible is probably something Petra will understand. After all, Dotti’s my fox daughter and I’d understand if someone did something rude to avoid Dotti Disaster.

Maybe I should avoid thinking like that.

I set Dotti on the ground and get Landi to give me some of her parchment and a quill, then I speed-write a letter to Petra. I’ll address it to her and give it to a carrier at the market, where the earliest it’ll show up is later today; more likely it’ll show up tomorrow or the day after. Plenty of time for Pierre and us to make our escape.

“Are you ready, Dotti?” I ask.

Dotti nods. She’s practicing her hungry-fox-spirit act by bristling her fur and putting on a hangry attitude. She points at the spirit communication boards, and Rae grabs them for what might be her last in-person communication to Petra for a long while.

We meet up with right-side-up-Rae and make our way to Petra’s house’s den, finding Pastor Pryce talking with Mother Mabel. They hush as we approach.

“Is everything well?” Pastor Pryce asks.

“I think Dotti’s getting hungry,” I say. “Either that, or the seal on her is beginning to chafe.”

Dotti snorfs and glares at Pastor Pryce.

“I’m sorry,” Pastor Pryce says, “But there’s very little I can do about that. We can’t risk her connecting to the spiritual realm inside Giornico.”

“I thought as much,” I say. “In that case, me and mine will take our leave. I know Kayk will be disappointed, but I’d rather not risk Dotti’s well-being. We can always come back later.”

“I’d rather not make a habit of dragons coming and going from Giornico,” Pastor Pryce says. “You understand that we want to keep Petra’s condition a secret, among other things.”

“I do,” I say.

Dotti hops from my arms and gestures for Rae to put the boards on the ground. For those words that aren’t on the quick-reference board, she has to spell out on the second.


“There are mailboxes at the mayor’s office, as well as at the market,” Mother Mabel says. “Yes, of course you can write letters to Petra.”

I suspect the Church will be reading them, but that’s a price we’ll have to pay. I open my mouth to finish asking to take our leave, but I’m interrupted by that dreadful sensation of Usiel’s presence as Petra enters the den.

“Are you leaving so soon, little one?” Petra asks. Dotti whips around and her angry expression disappears, replaced with longing and utter sadness.


“I’m so sorry about all this,” Petra sighs. “Pastor, surely we can arrange something in the future to solve these issues. I don’t want to starve Dotti just so she isn’t caught up in our arrangements.

“We’ll figure something out,” Pryce says, though he doesn’t sound certain of it. “For now, letters will suffice, I think.”

“I hope to see you again soon, Dotti,” Petra smiles. “I will always welcome you here. Please, don’t forget that no matter where you are, you are loved.”


Dotti scampers over to Petra and whines softly, accepting the last pets she’ll get from her for a long while.

No one says anything for a moment.

Too soon, Pastor Pryce clears his throat. “Well. If you’re leaving, Mother Mabel and I will accompany you to the guardpost at the edge of town. We can remove Dotti’s seal there.”

“Thank you for the kind offer,” I say, “But there’s no need for that. We can remove Dotti’s seal ourselves, and we’d like to stop by the Market before we leave. Landi and I have letters to send, and this mailpost is closer to their destination than Minga. It’s quite convenient.”

“We’d like to see you out,” Pastor Pryce says. “With me along, you don’t have to wait the twenty-four hours before removing Dotti’s seal.”

“Isn’t it safer to wait the twenty-four hours before we do that ourselves, as far from Giornico as possible?” I point out.

“I would have thought Dotti would want the seal off as soon as possible,” Pastor Pryce says. “Why wait?”

Why indeed…

I need a good excuse to give Pastor Pryce to dispel his suspicion that also lets us visit the market and grab Pierre without him coming along. Think, Serah, think!

Everything the spirits say to Serah will be overheard by Usiel.
No. 1077382 ID: de5cb4

We need to pick up that cow we bought for Kayk. Serah, Dotti and Rae plus a cow will be quite a weight, even for a dragon. It would simply be too much to bring any extra passengers. We should get something nice at the market for Dotti to make up for it. An accessory to match her bow, perhaps?
No. 1077385 ID: eb0a9c

Serah, don't hold back. Express how 'fatigued' you are.

"Pastor, I appreciate every step of sacred hospitality you've shown us, but... We. Are. 'Peopled. Out'. I have gone too long without resting my social muscles, as have my party in their... special... ways. To put it simply, there's going to be a combination of vulgarity and impulsivity radiating from us, and in the interests of censoring all this detoxification from good and innocent eyes... and ears... and other senses... we don't want to contact anyone else on our way out for any reason whatsoever. It's taking all of my willpower not to order Kayk to transform right here and zip out now."
No. 1077388 ID: a7a180

We want the practice of lifting it ourselves in a contingency, we'll return to the clergy if we run into an issue. Suggest that he performs a ceremonial inspection of the household's wards as an official Church gesture of their commitment to Petra's wellbeing.

And since you're listening, screw you Usiel. Your actions do your order more harm than good.
No. 1077390 ID: b6ec4d

They probably just want to make sure you all leave town, as you intend to. You do still want some time away from the holy folk, so why not propose a compromise? Like meeting them at the church before you go? You could bring up wanting to see Pierre again before you leave, reminding them that they haven't checked in on him while they've been attending to you here. Given how they reacted the first time you met him, that might be a good distraction.

If you must force the point, you can just be honest and say that you need a moment with just your party. You appreciate the hospitality, but you'd like to keep sensitive topics to as few ears as possible. It's strictly a family matter, and while you appreciate the hospitality, you'd rather not share Kensington affairs with the church.
No. 1077391 ID: 273c18

Tell him her safety is more important than her comfort.
No. 1077415 ID: 273c18

>Your actions do your order more harm than good.
I don't agree with that. Usiel is doing a good job of protecting Petra, after all she let the bacon through despite the clergy's disapproval.
No. 1077416 ID: f2cf5a

All I'm gonna say is this.

None of y'all know how to just shut the fuck up and let things be, and that's the problem here.

At any rate, do as you will.
No. 1077417 ID: f2cf5a

And I'm not talking about the Angel and church and whatnot when I say that.
No. 1077540 ID: 273c18

Oh I'm an idiot. He isn't interested in YOUR reasons to go outside town before releasing Dotti. He's interested in HER reasons. So just go over and have Dotti tell him she doesn't want his help. Because he's a jerk. You won't have to avoid saying that to his face! Let Dotti be the rude on here.
No. 1077551 ID: 932a49

Well, we didn't want to reveal this, but... isn't the truth that House Kensington has an emergency we need to be responding to?

Ahem... one that necessitates our immediate departure, stopping only at the marketplace to pick up some supplies before quickly departing? One that, unfortunately, means the Pastor can't come along because he would be privy to the politically-sensitive strategy session that will take place as soon as the party is out of earshot? One that, unfortunately, means the comfort of removing Dotti's seal immediately will have to take a back seat to the expedience of beginning the next leg of the journey?
No. 1077564 ID: 3c2dff
File 170034064061.png - (44.60KB , 500x500 , LF7 68.png )

What do I argue? The practical? The political? What does the Pastor suspect of me? What will let me pull this off? Everything is riding on how well I do here. I can handle this! I know it! Can’t I? I don’t want to say the word ‘Pierre’ and clue him in I’m even thinking of that. Agh!

I decide to go practical.

“I’m not sure Kayk can carry the cow we bought for her at the market as well as everyone else,” I say. “What if she tires herself out before we’ve even left?”

“We could ask her if it’s too much,” Pastor Pryce says. “She’s carried plenty of weight before, while you were at the market. It’s just a quick flight to market and the garrison.”

He’s questioning my explanation. He’s willing to push back- I can’t back down, that’ll be evidence I’m deceitful. I can’t backtrack and go political now.

Or can I?

“She may have the energy to make the trip,” I say, “But… I’d ask for some privacy. I’d like to discuss some matters with my honor guard now that she’s awake, as well as with Dotti and Kayk. You surely understand that some matters must remain private within my House.”

It’s a weak argument, especially since I can just discuss them with my party after we leave Giornico. Pastor Pryce looks up and assesses me carefully. He whispers something, and motions with his arms over his chest and shoulders. Is he seriously casting a spell right in front of me? The nerve.







Pastor Pryce looks up at me again, assessing.

“I would very much appreciate being brought to the market with you,” he says. “I have some errands to run, myself. Without the cow, Kayk should have no difficulty in carrying us. It will be a short trip, so I am sure you can speak in confidence when I am gone.”

Damn it! I have to convince him that… that…
No. 1077565 ID: 3c2dff
File 170034066575.png - (10.36KB , 500x500 , LF7 69.png )

There’s no way I’m getting out of this. He’s suspicious of me, and there’s nothing I can say that will talk him out of that.

Dotti jumps from Petra’ toward Pastor Pryce and gekkers at him. Loudly.

“What on earth?” Petra asks. “Dotti, what’s wrong?”

Dotti slams her paw on the ground, and Landi flits over to Petra’s feet as fast as she can and drags the Dotti Communication Board over.


“Dotti!” I gasp. “Pastor, I’m so sorry. I don’t know what’s gotten into her.”

“Pastor,” Petra says, her voice stern, “Perhaps you should reconsider whether you ought to go with Dotti.”

Pastor Pryce looks to Petra, then Dotti, then to me, and something appears to click for him. He nods.

“Very well,” he says. “I’m sorry your visit went so poorly, Dorothea. Please understand that it was for your safety.”

“We’ll talk about this later, Pastor,” Petra says firmly. “Dotti, please don’t let him rain on your parade. I’ll write you letters, and you can write back. You’ve done so many incredible things and I want to hear all about them.”

Dotti wags her tail and whines. She fumbles with her board for a moment, trying to find the right word, but gives up and rushes toward Petra for one final hug.

I try hard not to cry. I take a moment to compose myself next to Rae, who thankfully has enough composure for all of us.

We all mount Kayk, waving Petra’s family goodbye for what might be a long, long time.

The ride is in silence, except for the wind blowing around Kayk’s neck.
No. 1077566 ID: 3c2dff
File 170034086076.png - (38.70KB , 400x500 , LF7 70.png )

We arrive in the Market with minor spectacle, and thankfully there’s no Censors to be found. Kayk lands next to the water mill and Pierre sneaks out of it, climbing aboard Kayk under the cover of her wing. I offer him the spot on Kayk’s back behind me so he has the biggest person to hold on to- he’s the least experienced dragon rider. He seems uncertain where to put his arms, so I wrap them around my waist.

Just like that, we’re airborne. We go up, up, and up, then glide away from the valley. There are clouds on the horizon- there’s a storm coming, but there are no pursuers.

I pinch myself twice to make sure I’m not dreaming.

We’re free.

“Which direction?” Kayk asks. “Minga?”

I have two options. There are no Churches of Censorship in Minga city limits, but they could send riders out from nearby parishes and be there in a week or less. Kensington Keep is the safest for Pierre; Daddy has mercenaries and can shut the gates on the Church if we have to. Technically, the Church doesn’t know I offered Pierre asylum until Petra gives over the letter, and I’d need to be next to Pierre to confirm that yes, indeed, he is under my protection.

Should I:

1. Head to Minga, where I have my personal network of allies, alchemical supplies, and adventurers to call on, but far, far less political, monetary and military assets than Daddy can call on; or
2. Head to Kensington Keep, where Pierre will be safest from both physical and political subterfuge, but I will have my personal autonomy limited, as Daddy will have superior authority to me and be able to force me to attend meetings and social events; or
3. Seek shelter from the storm in a cave or very small village nearby (about 90 minutes’ flight from Giornico). This will allow any pursuers time to catch up once they discover Pierre is gone. Maybe Hunny or Gecko could have flown above the storm, but not Kayk.

No. 1077567 ID: 8f9bc4

Well this is a historic first. The fox spirit is the only one being honest with the Censors. Uriel must be very, very confused.
No. 1077568 ID: a7a180

3, and head for Minga afterward. Blowout soon, a fellow stalker.
No. 1077575 ID: e51896

2. We'll finally get to meet Serah's father this way.
No. 1077576 ID: 1f1b8f

Also, ask Pierre how things went, i want to know how helpful the lucky panties were for him.
No. 1077580 ID: 273c18

Oh god. The storm is the djinn coming for the panties. Maybe she can detect when it's being worn by a male? Landi needs to swap them back off of Pierre as the first priority. After that, Landi needs to figure out how to negotiate their return without too much backlash.

3. trying to go anywhere else will result in us being intercepted by the storm and forced to land out in the open, meaning we'd be much more vulnerable to wind magics. I dunno how strong Pierre is but he's probably not strong enough to protect everyone at once.
No. 1077588 ID: 8f9bc4


That's not lucky! That's not lucky at all! D:
No. 1077591 ID: b6ec4d

1 or 3. Minga's the ultimate goal, but if we're genuinely worried about the storm (or potentially a wind djinn coming back for her panties), then we could rest up and complete the trek later.
No. 1077593 ID: e51896

changing my vote and showing support to 1 because I really don't think we should be risking the censors catching up with us. just because theres a storm doesn't mean it'll be the wind djinn.
No. 1077606 ID: de5cb4

1. Lets keep this low key for now, try to keep Pierre hidden and maybe this will all blow over. No need to involve dad yet.
No. 1077633 ID: eb0a9c

1) You promised him freedom, and your father won't give that.
Don't stop until you reach a safe zone that can't be wiped off the map by the censors' inquisitors!
No. 1077641 ID: 932a49

2. We just risked your family's entire political position (and tanked its reputation with the Church) for whatever advantage Pierre might provide. Your father needs to be made aware of that, and this allows him to find out why you did it directly from you rather than via second- or third-hand reports. This also allows you to make sure that you don't lose Pierre; losing him now would mean you sacrificed something for nothing.

Pierre's freedom to explore can wait until the granting of asylum is more common knowledge. Unless your father has a better idea, Pierre can join the adventuring party once he's less of a magnet for Church agents (mercenaries, angels, or whatever they use). Your own freedom will unfortunately be limited as well, but only for a little while - hopefully the party can get back to Minga soon enough.
No. 1077642 ID: dd3fe0


2. This. Politics has to happen, plans have to be made, fallout has to be managed, advantage has to be gained. Family matters.
No. 1077669 ID: b57fea

mm, Minga I say, with an eye towards evacuating to the stronghold if need be. We can always change our mind from minga to the stronghold, but not the other way around.
No. 1077672 ID: f2cf5a

1. While having the massive network of allies and dad's connections are good, you can use this opportunity to strengthen your own unique resources if you play your cards well, while still keeping out of everyone else's hands. You can still keep your pops as a fallback, but for the time being, I'd say go it yourself for now, and work to build up not the Kensington Network, but the SERAH Network.
No. 1077674 ID: 2d933a

I think one of the first things Serah should do when she returns is start a strong relationship between her network, and the Church of Eirene. Its likely the censors are going to cut ties from us after they find out what we did, so having a new religious ties with a church that could support us when the censors drop their support could be beneficial.
No. 1077676 ID: 273c18

Alright fine 2.
No. 1077917 ID: 3c2dff
File 170086072304.png - (3.97KB , 350x300 , LF7 71.png )

The storm before us, the Church behind.

Taking shelter will keep my party safe from the elements, but give the Church time to catch up. I don’t want to test my strength against theirs. Even with a dragon, fox spirit and elven ranger on my side, any fight I engage in against them will be used in a smear campaign against me. Heavens forbid Kayk accidentally kill a Censor with her dragonfire; at that point, she’d be seen not as a mere conspirator, but a full perpetrator. Even with her mother’s influence, that’s not something easily forgiven.

I can’t hesitate. I’ve committed myself and my House to providing Pierre asylum, and I need to get him as far away from Giornico as possible, even if it means flying through some nasty weather. The destination, though… where would Pierre be safe?

Kensington Keep is the dutiful, safe choice. My House needs to be aware of what I’ve just done, and Daddy can’t be caught flat-footed by this. He needs to take time to prepare for the ramifications of what I’ve just done: ruined our standing with the Church of Censorship and endangered centuries of careful balancing our loyalties between two monarchs. We’ve always had one foot in each camp, but those days may be coming to an end. This could turn bloody if mercenaries get involved. I’ve avoided family politics for now, but this situation is far more than I could ever be expected to handle independently. I think I need Daddy’s help.

At the same time, if I head to Kensington Keep, I’d be putting myself under my father’s thumb once again. It’s the reason I left in the first place: to build my own network, my own reputation, my own wealth and skills. I wanted to ride back into Kensington Keep with my own accomplishments, to stand tall in front of Daddy and make my own choices. I know the first thing he’ll do is assume I’ve planned to enter into a political marriage with Pierre, and the worst part is that it might actually work.

“Serah?” Kayk asks again. “Where are we going?”

“Keep flying!” I tell her.

“But… which direction?”

“Just keep flying, please!”

Pierre grips me tighter, sensing my nervousness. Between riding a dragon for the first time, making his escape, and wearing ladies’ underwear, he’s not doing well. While I’d have liked to have Pierre remove Dotti’s seal during the flight, he’s just not in a position to do it, either physically or mentally. I don’t want to consider what might happen if he loses control of his abilities when removing Dotti’s seal.

My stomach bottoms out. I’m a terrible leader, letting him hear my indecisiveness and not putting up a strong front. I’m a…

No, Serah. You are a good leader. You just haven’t found the right course of action yet. Don’t blame yourself for struggling with a difficult problem. Just think harder! You can do it!

I have to prioritize Pierre’s welfare. That will be my north star. If I’ve risked everything but failed in my quest, then that is the true worst-case scenario. He’ll be safest at Kensington Keep.

If I head to Kensington Keep, Pierre will be safest, but I’ll be making a spectacle of Kayk landing directly in my family’s compound. Ignoring the ramifications of that, it would place my House into a position of needing to take immediate action. Daddy would have no political flexibility; he would have to take my side immediately and take Pierre into my House’s network, and place me under his control to ensure I don’t tip his delicately balanced scales.

My alternative is to fly to Minga, where Kayk’s bakery is based, and remove her from the situation as best I can. That would leave Pierre to be guarded by an entire guild of adventurers. I would hold nothing back: I’d hire everyone available, draining my gold and platinum reserves if I have to. I will need to make more wealth in a few weeks or be as broke as when I first arrived in Minga, but spending it all on an adventurer honor guard will buy me precious time. The question then becomes: will it jeopardize my House’s standing if Daddy doesn’t learn about this right away?

I consider.


It might actually be better if I didn’t make a show of bringing Pierre to my House’s seat of power.

Bringing Pierre to Minga would allow Daddy to have plausible deniability that he knows nothing of this- because he really doesn’t. Any Church messengers would have to deal with his insistence that he communicate with me via Archibeard (the only truly trustworthy messenger between the two of us, even more so than a religious Order’s instant messaging service). That would buy him a great deal of time. If there’s one thing every politician knows, it’s how to buy time.

Daddy is smart enough to intuit that I’ve found something that can alter the continental balance of power. I trust him to preserve our House. I don’t trust him to preserve my individual agency.

“Kayk!” I shout over the wind. “Fly directly to Minga!”

Kayk adjusts her course easterly.

Ālea iacta est.
No. 1077919 ID: 3c2dff
File 170086182059.png - (4.01KB , 300x300 , LF7 72.png )

The storm grows in intensity. Winds howl, buffeting Kayk’s wings and forcing her to work to stay stable. Pierre almost slips from his seat for a moment, but luckily grabs ahold of me just tight enough to stay firmly in place.

“Serah!” Landi yells in my ear. “Serah, this isn’t a normal storm! I know the these winds, they’re Ventura’s! The Spirit of Western Winds!”

“Is she a spirit?”

“No, she’s a Djinn and she’s probably REALLY angry at me ‘cause I took her lucky panties at a party!”

I groan. I should have known this would come back to bite me for not dealing with Landi’s issues sooner. “Will she leave us alone if we drop her panties?”

“Maybe?” Landi says. “I could godmother them off Pierre and throw them off the edge, but then Pierre would be really unlucky for a while!”

“Pierre,” I call back, “Can you neutralize a bad luck effect on yourself?”

“Maybe?” Pierre asks. “I’d need to focus!”

The wind howls. Kayk is tiring. We need to land soon to rest. Focusing doesn’t sound like something that would be easy to do while flying on Kayk’s back in the middle of a storm.

“Will the Spirit of Western Winds try and make us crash?” I ask.

“Maybe? I don’t think so. She’s trying to wear Kayk out right now. I can feel it.”

“Get ready to Godmother my armor on,” I tell her. “We could be in for a fight,” I warn Pierre. “Try and stay under cover, no matter what.”

There are lots of moving parts for what might be an upcoming battle. Pierre can only focus on one thing at a time.

Kayk is tired and needs to land. I have several choices I need to make in the few moments I have before the Spirit of Western Winds, Ventura, appears. What preparations do I take?

1. Pierre’s Focus: CAN ONLY PICK ONE
- A: Neutralizing the Bad Luck effect of removing the Lucky Panties
- B: Neutralizing the magical forces guiding the wind around Kayk, allowing her to recover and land without too much trouble
- C: Remove Dotti’s seal. Could cause severe pain to Dotti (or worse) if Pierre is unlucky or distracted during the removal.

2. Landi: Lucky Panties
- A: Leave them on Pierre.
- B: Have Landi godmother them off and keep them in her inventory.
- C: Have Landi godmother them off and throw them overboard.

3. Landi: My Armor
- A: Have Landi Godmother it on right now. Pierre might lose his grip on me if he’s not lucky.
- B: Have Landi Godmother it on when we land. If we crash, I might get hurt badly.
- C: Don’t Godmother it on at all. Maybe Ventura is just here to negotiate?

4. Raelynn and Taranis
- A: Play Defensive and guard Pierre
- B: Play Defensive and guard Dotti
- C: Go on the Offensive and try to ambush Ventura with Samhain and Taranis’s magic when she manifests

5. Kayk
- A: Rest on landing; no combat
- B: Ask her to be ready to use her dragonfire; her posture will indicate to Ventura that Kayk is a combatant
No. 1077922 ID: a7a180

Panties: keep them on.
Armor: godmother it on.
Rae/Taranis: Play defensive, guard Dotti.
Kayk: Rest.

As for Pierre's focus...
>merge with Dotti
Have him try this, but fuse with Landi. Together, they can channel her powers, control her impulses and confront the wind spirit. If Ventura wants the panties back? She can negotiate their return.
No. 1077924 ID: c7ef3c

1. Pierre’s Focus:
C: Remove Dotti’s seal.. it will help keep Dotti still too

2. Landi: Lucky Panties
- A: Leave them on Pierre. Keeps him from hurting dotti on accident

3. Landi: My Armor
- C: Don’t Godmother it on at all. Need to show we are not agressive

4. Raelynn and Taranis
- A: Play Defensive and guard Pierre (if Pierre is focused on Dotti, in a way, shes also protected)

5. Kayk
- A: Rest on landing; no combat. Dont want to threaten if we can negotiate.
No. 1077929 ID: 273c18

Yeah, called it.

This seems fine. Honestly, the Djinn could've killed all of us aside from Kayk by blowing everyone off.
No. 1077933 ID: b6ec4d


Polt summarized my thoughts entirely. Support.
No. 1077941 ID: eb0a9c

Remove Dotti's seal.
Panties stay on.
Don't godmother it on. Yet. Right now, your biggest threat is fall damage, which extra armor will increase rather than mitigate.
Raelynn, defend Pierre. Taranis, defend Dotti.
Kayk, stay noncombatant.
No. 1077947 ID: 3c2dff
File 170093916793.png - (27.57KB , 700x700 , LF7 73.png )

“Pierre, as soon as you can focus, try and get Dotti’s seal off,” I say. “I don’t want to find out what happens if she’s hurt while it’s on.”

“Yes, my Lady!” Pierre confirms.

Dotti, nestled between Pierre and Raelynn, lets out a war gekker.

I instruct Kayk to comes in for a landing as safely as she can. The longer we fly against these winds, the weaker she’ll be in a fight. If worst comes to worst, I want Kayk as strong as she can be. Rae and Taranis are to guard Pierre.

“Want me to Godmother your armor on right now?” Landi asks. “And, uh, maybe be ready to ‘help’ Pierre?”

“No to both,” I tell her. “If Ventura wanted to kill us… she could have. Sweet Savior, I never considered a wind Djinn trying to blow us off Kayk. I need combat-grade harnesses. The slowfall spells in my jewelry won’t save me from being dashed on the rocks by a determined Djinn.

“I could have dusted you up to slow you down even more,” Landi says, but we both know that would only realistically worked on me. Dotti, Rae and Pierre would be too far for Landi to catch up. Once knocked off Kayk, even with their slowfall bracelets they’d be at the mercy a Djinn completely in her element.

The moment we’re on the ground, the winds fall silent. There’s a soft crackle of electricity, a rush of air forms a vortex in front of us, then a whirlwind of blue coalesces into the form of a smirking woman. Pierre does his best to ignore it as he focuses on Dotti, who remains dutifully seated on the ground.

“He-llo again, Landi dearest!” the Djinn booms. Her voice is a thunderclap of grandiosity and excitement fused together. “It has been far too long. I haven’t had the chance to catch up with you someplace private. All those times you’ve been using my panties have been so busy. A dragon’s lair, a Marquess’s ball? Ah, but now we can talk! How have you been? Quite well, I imagine, with the company you’re keeping these days. A wealthy Lady, a lovely baker, a fluffy fox bed? You’d want for nothing with them at your side.”

“Ventura? You’re… not angry at me?” Landi asks, uncertain.

“Anger is such a horrid emotion. It dulls the senses, narrows the sight. No, I am not angry with you,” Ventura says, her eyes wild, teeth glimmering. “It would be so ill-mannered of me to be upset over your little prank. It was a tad unsporting of me to wear buff spells to a strip poker game, wasn’t it? Well, I merely expected you to return my lucky panties in due time. Here I am to collect!”

There’s a clacking of beads behind me and a relieved sigh from Dotti. Pierre immediately steps back from her and shrinks behind Raelynn, trying to be as small as possible. Dotti, released from her shackles, is bristling with energy so strong even I can feel it pressing against me. Behind her physical tail, I think I even see the faint outline of two ethereal tails. Or is it three?

“Uh, Serah?” Landi asks. “We can give Ventura her panties back, right?”

I nod. “Give their, ah, wielder a moment to try and focus on preparing for the bad luck, and get some more distance from Dotti. Then you can godmother them off.”

“You’re aware of the bad-luck hangover, I see,” Ventura giggles. “Very nasty, isn’t it, Lady Kensington?”

“Quite,” I say. “Ah, forgive me, but you appear to have me at a disadvantage. You appear to know my title, but I am not as familiar with yours.”

“Landi doesn’t talk of me? For shame!” Ventura tut-tuts. “I am Ventura, Spirit of Western Winds, bringer of wealth and good fortune. My gifts sail ships, water crops, and turn seasons. I must apologize for delaying you, but those panties are quite helpful at parties. Even the best of us need a little help getting lucky with the men. They can be so obtuse when we flirt, yes?”

“I suppose,” I say. “If this is all you needed, then why not send a messenger?”

“I did,” Ventura says. “You stomped on him.”

“You did?” I blink. “Oh! Oh, dear! I’m so sorry!”

“Don’t be,” Ventura laughs. “You cannot hurt the wind. It merely changes its direction for a brief time. Clearly, this matter needed to be dealt with personally. I would have come sooner, but you, Lady Kensington, intrigued me. I decided to wait and see if my hunch about you was correct.”

“Your hunch?” I ask.

“I suspected you were destined for good fortune,” she says. “You attract the most interesting people to your side. The first socialized fox spirit? A dragon? A member of the warring druidic circles, and one of Odin’s flock? Quite the entourage. And your enemies are shaping up to be very intriguing as well. I sense no fewer than seven celestial griffons carrying Censors toward us from two different directions.”

“Thank you for the compliment, and the warning,” I say. “Ah. We should be going, then.”

“Now, now give your panty-wearing companion a chance to gird himself for the hangover. No, no, don’t stand next to the trees, they might fall on you if you’re not careful,” Ventura giggles. “I can help you take them off if you want.”

Pierre lets out a small meep.

“Landi will assist,” I say, nodding to her.

“Hm. Are you sure that’s wise?” Ventura asks. “She is somewhat… volatile. Do you trust her to keep him safe? For that matter, do you trust her to keep you safe?”

“I trust her,” I say, matter-of-factly. “We are adventuring companions, and have seen each other through thick and thin.”

“You have done quite well with Landi,” Ventura says. “It’s quite impressive. But what could you accomplish with someone more worthy by your side?”

“Hey!” Landi flits next to me. “Serah and I are happy just the way we are!”

“Are you?” Ventura says. “Lady Kensington, you have impressed me. I will make an offer not seen in centuries: I will give you my aid for one full year. I will be your best friend, even. I will manifest at your convenience, and aid your House with favorable trade winds. I will protect you and aid you in your adventures, and be by your side. There will be no need for an Oath. You would have my full attention and devotion.”

“That’s very generous,” I say, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

“Indeed,” Ventura says. “I think we both have much to learn from each other. However… I would not want to work alongside Landi. It would just not do. If you accept my offer, I would condition it upon you not seeing, speaking, writing, or communicating with Landi in any way for that full year. After that, we may both reconsider.”

“Wha…” Landi sputters. “V-Ventura, what the fuck?!”

“I’m sorry,” Ventura smiles, clearly not sorry at all. “I just don’t see us working well together. Don’t worry, Lady Kensington, your fairy knows how to undo your adventuring contract with minimal fuss, if you both agree.”

“Serah, you can’t do this!” Landi says. “Don’t take the offer! I have Big Sodium as a patron Djinn, she’s just as powerful as Ventura! She likes me!”

“Do not be so confident,” Ventura says. “You say Salt likes you, yes? Has she been giving you ‘performance reviews’?”

“Yeah! And I’ve changed lots of stuff she likes!”

“Those aren’t reviews of your deeds,” Ventura says, expression droll. “They’re reviews of you, Landi. Salt is evaluating how much you have changed. She won’t favor you forever. How much have you changed, truly? Or are you still the same indolent party-goer I remember?”

Landi goes silent.

“And if I don’t take the deal?” I ask Ventura. “If I continue on with Landi as my adventuring companion? Do you try and make us crash into the mountainside?”

“Why in the sky would I do that?” Ventura asks. “You would be making a foolish decision, but it would be yours to make. No, I would simply take my panties and depart. The storm I rode here would remain, of course, and your dragon would likely be exhausted trying to fly through it. I will not deprive these lands of the water they so need simply because you wish it, Lady Kensington. If you wish to travel through the storm unhindered, you will need my help. But rejecting it is your choice.”

I want to reject the deal, but… this is everything I ever wanted, honestly. Ventura seems impressed with what I’ve accomplished, and seems like she genuinely wants to partner with me. Compared with Landi, who’s humiliated me more times than I’d prefer to remember, who’s volatile and with subpar adventuring skills… I have an obligation to do right by my House and my people. At minimum, I would get favorable trade winds for a year, and even have a Djinn who could escort me back to Minga and avoid the Censors’ summoned griffons that are chasing me from two different directions.

All I have to do is break up with a certain lazy fairy. It wouldn’t even be forever: just a year.

I should take the deal. In fact, my duties almost demand it.

It's everything I ever wanted. Power and wealth, enough to stand up to the Church and protect Pierre. Enough to even... stand up to Daddy.

Do I accept?
No. 1077952 ID: a7a180

The literal definition of a fairweather friend. Pass!
No. 1077954 ID: d98cb8

Putting aside everything else, all the pros and cons, this is a decision about who you are.

It's everything you ever wanted.

In return you just have to turn your back on a friend, even temporarily.

Are you someone who would?

You're more loyal than that.

Turn her down gracefully, stick with Landi. You'll make it through.
No. 1077957 ID: e51896

Power of friendship triumphs over wealth, and strength. You didn't accomplish all these on your own, you accomplished them all with your friends, including Landi. Plus, what would your friends think of you if you just abandoned Landi for power? Landi helped Rae get her out of her depression with Taranis, and even helped save Dotti's life from the giant Mai terrorscale, and would probably leave a bad impression on Dotti if she see's us abandon a friend for power. plus, she might not realize it and acts like Landi is a bad person to her, but Dotti does has some feelings for Landi. And if it weren't for Landi, you wouldn't be out adventuring in the first place.

Also consider this: if you can stand up together with your friends to a giant dragon, the marquess, and a wind djinn, you can definitely stand up to this storm, the censors and your daddy.

No need to be graceful. be stern and let her know that theres no deal. Make it a point that they weren't just your accomplishments, but your adventuring party's accomplishments. If it weren't for them, you wouldn't have achieved so much, and without them, you won't be able to make new accomplishes. She can take her panties and shove off.

Now with Dotti's seal broken, maybe she can use her fire power to negate the storm in some way with her stronger fire power if she is gaining new tails? if anything, she can probably keep everyone warm in the storm, including Kayk. Maybe enough to evaporate the rain water around us.
No. 1077958 ID: b57fea

As a spirit I tell you only to be true to your nature. At the end of the day what do you want to be, the noble who did the right moves to get the best outcome or the adventurer who did the right thing?

There isn't a wrong answer in the eyes of the world, only a wrong answer in regards to who you are.
No. 1077959 ID: a25322

“Anger is such a horrid emotion. It dulls the senses, narrows the sight. No, I am not angry with you,”

Two seconds later:

"Hey Serah, wouldn't it be neat if you kicked Landi out of your party and left her to fend for herself? Just imagine how hard it would be for her to pay back the Marquess without a job. Hilarious!"

I think she might be mad.

This one's a no-brainer, you're sticking by Landi. This isn't even a compelling case for a trade, because you sure as hell don't want to deal with Ventura for a year, regardless of what benefits she may offer. She's a petty bitch. Landi may be irresponsible, but when the chips are down you know that she's a trustworthy companion who will try to help however she can. And she HAS been helpful many times past and present.

Besides, you've got plenty of power and wealth of your own. Your party, your adventuring connections, and your skills are all yours. If you just wanted power, you could have stayed home and played politics. Standing up to daddy was important to you because more than anything, you craved independence.

Ventura can offer you power, but if it it's only through her terms, have you really kept your independence? You didn't want daddy forcing you to get married, but you'll let this authority have a say in your relationships? At that point, haven't you just traded staying under one thumb for another?

Yeah, no shot. It's a shitty thing for Ventura to offer in the first place, it's shittier of her to try and force your hand with the storm and your current pursuit, and frankly she just seems like a bitch. Frankly, the less of her you have to see, the better.
No. 1077960 ID: f2cf5a

You'll get what you wanted...but you'll lose what you had.

Is it really worth it? I'm not so sure.
No. 1077961 ID: 07c99e

We would NEVER betray a friend!

So yeah, we accept the trade.
No. 1077962 ID: 12b116

Is there anything we can do for a minor favor? Like maybe helping us get through the storm while leaving it there to stall the Censors?
No. 1077963 ID: eb0a9c

Okay, notice how Ventura didn't mention "and to top it off, a spiri-tit-ually-sociopathic spy scion? Oooh, that's [i]double[/s] the 'S'!"
She doesn't know. Forget loyalty or power, you have a trade secret that can forge empires and making this contract would spill it!
Of course, the bad luck side-effect comes into play as well. Worst-case scenario, Ventura finds out and manages a legal means of kidnapping Pierre right in front of you. The moment the panties come off, casually put yourself in harm's way. Quite unlucky for a man of the cloth to endure such... debauchery.
No. 1077965 ID: 8f9bc4

It was terribly foolish of you to accept that contract with Landi, in ignorance of her careless, lazy and manipulative nature, just because you were in trouble at the time. She's been a lot of trouble, and you're incredibly lucky that she was genuinely trying to help you, not malicious or exploitive. You've slowly gained her trust and respect, and she yours, as she fought alongside you and saved your life more than once. Landi might not be the most powerful, but she's given everything she has to protect her friends, and that means something. It was a mistake to contract with her without knowing anything about her, and it probably hasn't been worth it to fight your way through the difficult relationship and reach some sort of mutually beneficial accord, but you did. It's done.

And you don't intend to make that mistake again.
No. 1077967 ID: 273c18

This isn't a decision you can make yourself. Party vote time.
No. 1077968 ID: de5cb4

Ventura seems very manipulative, like she would be constantly pushing you to make decisions for her interests, or amusement. Having her around you would need to be always on guard, while Landi, for all her faults, is trustworthy. Usually.
No. 1077983 ID: a7a180

Yes it is. That's a leader's job.
No. 1077985 ID: 3c2dff
File 170095822728.png - (17.92KB , 500x481 , LF7 74.png )

Ventura’s offer is everything I want, but what do I have to give up to get it?


I’d lose Landi’s loyalty, both mine to her and hers to me. It’s obvious, but it’s important. Landi doesn’t sound even close to receptive of the idea; Ventura’s no-contact condition is especially cruel when targeted at a girl so upset over losing contact with her sorority sisters.

I might even lose what hard-earned loyalty I’ve won from Raelynn. She says she’s in this for the money, but she’s risked far more than a normal adventurer would. Finally, there’s Dotti, too. I don’t want to plant seeds of doubt in her mind that might sprout later, with terrible consequences for humanity in general. As a leader, I cannot let anyone question the bonds with my party members. That means this is a decision I must make myself.

Ventura doesn’t seem like she’s being entirely honest with me, or even with herself. She says she’s not angry, but the entire reason she’s doing this is (I suspect) to take revenge on Landi. Then of course there’s her promise that I would have her full attention for the year. Has she really not bestowed long-term patronage on anyone? If not, then she’s a flighty, whimsical, untethered djinn without care for long-term commitments. Maybe this deal isn’t as good as it seems at first glance…. or maybe I’m just the first girl that’s caught her eye to try something like this. She is a wind Djinn. It wouldn’t be out of character for her to bestow her favor for fun and whimsy until now.

Ultimately, I have to turn her down. Landi isn’t the best, but she’s trying to be better. She’s trustworthy within her own limits, and we’re both getting an idea of what those limits are. I can’t say the same for Ventura.

“I thank you for your offer,” I say to Ventura, “and hope that we can work together in the future. However, I will not abandon any of my companions, least not the first one to join me when I set out as an adventurer.”

“Are you serious?” Ventura asks, befuddled. “You’d really pick her over me?”

“Yes,” I say. “So long as you demand I break the bonds of fellowship with one sworn to me, I cannot accept your offer.”

Dotti lets out a tiny fox snorf behind me. “I bet that blue lady doesn’t know how to be a Dotti interpreter,” she says, using her magically conjured voice. “It’s a very rare but very handy skill to have. Oh, and thank you, Pierre!”

Pierre looks at Dotti as if she’s grown a second head. Oh. I suppose he would think it quite odd to hear a teenaged version of his mother’s voice coming from a fox. I wonder how that’ll work going forward.

“Fine. Have it your way,” Ventura huffs. “See how you avoid those celestial griffons without me. You’ll be sorry!”

“Thank you for the reminder,” I say to Ventura. I turn to Landi. “Landi, could you please keep giving Kayk health potions from your inventory until she feels battle-ready? It might take most or all of them, but we’ll need to push hard.”

“Inventory magic.” Ventura narrows her eyes at Landi. “That’s how she got out of the party with my panties, you know. She’s nothing but trouble.”

“I’ll return your panties as soon as we’re ready to bear the brunt of the bad luck,” I say. “My robed companion has worn them for about four hours, so we expect approximately four hours of bad luck. We’ll need to be ready.” Of course, I don’t feel like telling Ventura we can avoid the brunt of it as long as Pierre is focused on neutralizing the effect.

“You’re going to fly into a storm, being chased by seven summon steeds and their riders, all battle-ready Church of Censorship clergy, on a dragon that’s as aerodynamic as a barn with wings?” Ventura shakes her head. “I feel lucky you turned down my offer. I’d have hated to be bound to assist someone with such poor judgment.”

“It is regretful that I do not have a guide through the storm,” I say. “Why, with the knowledge of which two directions the griffons are coming from, I could simply choose a course to avoid them.”

“You refused my offer,” Ventura says, “And I won’t work with Landi. I refuse to do anything that benefits her in the slightest, even indirectly. She is undeserving.”

Hmm. I decide not to call her out on her ‘I’m not angry’ childish attitude, not when I’m making progress. This is an opening. She’s clearly put out that Landi is being more helpful than a great Djinn of ‘good fortune.’

I sense an opening to let Ventura find an excuse to flatter herself by favoring me, but only if it has no benefit to Landi whatsoever. What do I propose? I need to be very clever about how I phrase it, too.
No. 1077986 ID: 273c18

Something that doesn't benefit Landi... Oh, you could split up? Landi should be able to get back to town on her own, or with Taranis' help, and the Clergy won't notice that you've split up-- they're following Kayk and Landi is smol. If Taranis is carrying her, she could further reduce visibility by quenching her glow. ...is it even possible for Taranis to fly in these winds? He does have some wind control...
No. 1077987 ID: 9b38ba

Why, let us remind her of how our chubby dragon lizard friend's mom turned Landi into a dust dispencer when she decided to be impudent to her face. It would geniunely be a pity if Maia heard that her daughter got hurt because of she had to fight nuns riding bird-cats in the middle of a storm.
Let us not forget Landi's mess at the high born party, that was funny as well, or the time she drank mutagens just to see what happened, among other things.

Yes, Landi is a mess, but there is so much room to see her step on her own foot again and again while she is along.
And we can always change our mind later and have Dotti eat her, lol.
No. 1077989 ID: e51896

can Ventura use Landi's fairy dust in some way to give her some kind of boost in power?

and by Landi's fairy dust, I mean ALL of her fairy dust for today. A dustless fairy is like being naked to them, and letting Ventura get some kind of boost in magic with all of Landi's dust at Landi's expense might work out for her since she'll be stronger, while putting Landi in a humiliating position too.

continue to flatter her by saying "It's a shame too. It would have been great to see the great wind djinn working beyond her max power with all of Landi's fairy dust buffing her against any enemies that come our way, like using Godmother’s Blessing to not get distracted by any attempts to attack her and see her at her full power... But since you're not interested, I guess on the bright side it would would mean Landi won't have to use all her fairy dust and lose her dignity from being dustbusted after all.
No. 1077990 ID: eb0a9c

Serah: "Oh come on, aren't you curious just how badly Landi could have screwed up-"
Landi: "HEY!"
Serah: "To get an entire army of secretive monks raging for her ass? Even I'm not sure, because she has a drinking problem! You'll have to get the full scoop from them if you want to post the scandal all over the magical super-connected information network that you fairies are always talking about."
No. 1077992 ID: de5cb4

Is she really going to let Landi off with just returning the panties? Wouldn't she rather get a heartfelt apology in exacting detail on just how wrong and dumb Landi is? In front of the whole town and adventure guild and not alone out here in the woods?
No. 1077997 ID: 8f9bc4

Huh. How do two different groups of Censors know your exact location right now? They lost visual range long before they realized Pierre was gone. There must be some sort of tracking device on you, because it's not like anyone here would just lead your enemies to you purely out of spite, pretending she was offering you aid while secretly stabbing you in the back to force you to accept her contract.

That would be somewhat... legally questionable.
No. 1077998 ID: eb0a9c

Okay I got it
Party A: Serah, Raelynn, Taranis, Pierre
Party B: Landi, Dotti, Kayk
Optional Guest Character: Ventura
Pierre can use his Antimagic talent to block the scrying on his party to take the slow path, while the other party composed of magical immortals darts straight to Minga with as many self-imposed magical buffs as they can muster, speeding at rates that would break the necks of even magically-augmented mortals, and acts as a general decoy.
Ventura can also help if she wants to.
No. 1077999 ID: a7a180

Instead of splitting up to leave Landi behind with Raelynn, you could instead give fair winds and fleet foot to other allies to meet you here? Like an envoy of your father, or even the man himself.
No. 1078001 ID: 273c18

That could work, maybe? Raelynn would have her work cut out for her keeping the side party hidden from fliers though.

Here's a counter-proposal: Pierre, Kayk, Serah in one party. Raelynn, Dotti, Landi, Taranis in the other. Dotti can use her illusions to hide Landi and Taranis, while Raelynn can be her usual stealthy self during the trip.

So long as Kayk manages to get through the storm without being spotted directly by the fliers, or the Djinn agrees to help the group that doesn't contain Landi, we'll be golden.
No. 1078002 ID: 8f9bc4


Uh, why would Serah want to hide Landi and Taranis? The only thing she needs to hide is Pierre.
No. 1078003 ID: 8f9bc4


I like this plan because it puts Landi in danger as she has to brave the storm, and the two Censor pursuit parties of celestial gryphons homing in on their location, not realizing Pierre secretly split off to take a slower route. It puts her in awesome danger that involves riding a fire breathing dragon at breakneck speeds through a terrifying storm, so Landi would be cool with it. And whether she helps or not, Ventura would have to admit this plan is not in any way advantageous to Landi. (it's just fucking awesome)

It's also a great way for Landi and Dotti to bond. I'm sure Kayk would be a very considerate mediator.
No. 1078005 ID: b6ec4d


That's not a terrible idea, but it's a bit risky. I don't know that I can support it.

For starters, Ventura isn't going to help Landi at all, so their group will be flying into the full weight of the storm. Heck, with Landi making up a larger fraction of the group, Ventura would likely slow them down intentionally. That could give the church time to catch up and see that Pierre isn't with them. This causes issues for Serah and Pierre, who even with Rae don't have the strength to fight against a full church army without their magic users. If they get caught, Pierre will be taken back.

That said, I'm not entirely sure what to go with myself. I'll think on it some more.
No. 1078006 ID: 273c18

Because they're co-conspirators?
No. 1078040 ID: f2cf5a

I strongly think that splitting the party is a horrible idea. Whatever we do, we need to do as a united front. No one here by themselves or even with only one or two people has the power to resist the Censors.
No. 1078089 ID: 273c18

Without splitting the party then I suppose we'll have to find some other leverage. A favor in the future, perhaps? Landi could make it up to her, as well? Surely there's something she can do to be deserving of indirect assistance.
No. 1078139 ID: b6ec4d

Why don't you offer Ventura Landi's cut of profits for this mission in exchange for her services? Landi's main incentive to be here is profit after all (she certainly won't ADMIT that she cares about Dotti and wants to ensure she's safe), so coming home with an empty wallet is theoretically the worst possible outcome for Landi. It would mean all the time and effort she put in had been a waste. Not only would Landi not benefit, Ventura accepting this job would directly harm Landi.

Emphasize that you will not have Landi see a cent of profit for this job in exchange for the djinn's aid. There won't be any shenanigans of taking pay from others, this mission WILL be a net loss for Landi.

Now, if you give Landi small missions for a higher rate than usual afterwards, that is a completely separate matter, and not one Ventura should concern herself with. Landi simply has every right to negotiate a higher fee for her services, given the recent unreliability of your paying her.
No. 1078164 ID: 609d1f

Support. I dont like splitting the party.
No. 1078446 ID: 3c2dff
File 170150352093.png - (43.32KB , 555x526 , LF7 75.png )

The Censors have access to plenty of mid-tier divine magic, and from what Pierre hinted at regarding Father Forthill, potentially some high-tier spells as well. If he is, he’ll be flying directly from Giornico on a faster-than-normal summoned mount, though he may want to stay grouped with his other Censors. Ventura said we were only being chased by celestial griffons and not anything scarier or faster, so perhaps the Father isn’t joining the chase personally. Regardless, any extended buff spells he blessed the Giornico Censors with will still be in effect.

I can’t waste time. Every moment I spend on the ground is time for the Giornico censors to catch up. The other group of Censors that Ventura told us about is coming from an unknown direction, and I’m not sure if they’ll intercept us if we go straight to Minga, or if they assumed I’d go to Kensington Keep. Either way, they have divination spells that can hone in on me, Landi, and Kayk. They might assume Dotti is still sealed, and Rae has previously told me that it would be exceptionally difficult to scry on her, if it’s even possible without a having a lock of her hair. The Church doesn’t even know Taranis is with us, and he’s got divine magic of his own, or so I hear.

The most likely way to tempt Ventura into helping me is to send Landi and Dotti forward, riding on Kayk, and using Dotti’s illusory magic to make it seem like Pierre, Raelynn and I are still riding. Pierre could then extend an anti-magic bubble around me and him, hopefully while counteracting the bad luck buff from removing Ventura’s lucky panties. The Censors would probably assume that any lack of a hit on their divination from me and Rae would be from riding so close to Pierre, and would likely fall for our deception. The problem would be that Landi, Dotti and Kayk would be facing the Censors alone. Kayk could rush for Minga, but from here it’s an hour and a half at full speed, worse if Ventura messes with them.

I refuse to leave Landi, Dotti and Kayk to fight the Censors alone. Even with Landi’s summons and Dotti’s full might with four tails, the Censors have had time to prepare for this fight. They’ll be armed and buffed to the teeth, and without me to provide Landi the benefits of our contract, she might be seriously hurt. Not to mention how little the Censors will hold back assuming that they’re facing a full party… even Kayk might be in danger.

I’ll have to try another tactic if I want Ventura’s help. It’s a long shot, but it’s all I’ve got.

“Great Ventura,” I say, “By offering me your aid, you would be harming Landi, not helping.”

“Really,” Ventura says, pursing her lips. “Do go on.”

“I offer you Landi’s pay for this mission. All her efforts spent in aiding me would be wasted, and to arrive back at Minga would leave her with nothing to repay the Marquess, with a new payment due soon. I will not circumvent this deal by allowing her to receive renumeration from other sources; she will have no money when she arrives and her repayment is due. Her share would be given to you.”

“Hey!” Landi says. “Serah, I worked hard here!”

“So focused on money,” Ventura sighs. “So transactional. Serah Kensington, I do what I do out of altruism and goodwill. A good deed done is its own reward, and I would not accept payment.”

“There are other ways to help us without payment that would solely harm Landi,” I say. “You could allow her to use up all her Dust and-“

“You don’t get it, do you, blondie?” Ventura sighs a great gust of wind. “I won’t help Landi by gifting her favorable winds or hindering those chasing her. She accepted these risks and consequences by joining you, and I will not mitigate them, even if you think removing her compensation balances the scales. A deed is a deed, and two actions do not somehow cancel each other out. They are separate.”

I don’t have time to continue arguing, and the one path that might have success- separating Landi from us- is something I won’t do. We ride together or not at all.

“Very well,” I say to Ventura. “As you say, Landi accepted the risks upon setting out. So do I. If you will not aid Landi, then regretfully, we must part ways.”

“Fine! I’ll just take my panties and go. You’re making a mistake,” Ventura warns. “You’ll be sorry! You’ll all rue the day you scorned me!”

“We mean you no disrespect,” I say. “I am bound to aid my companions, Ventura. Perhaps someday you will see the value in commitments. Perhaps not.”
No. 1078448 ID: 3c2dff
File 170150402102.png - (12.63KB , 400x382 , LF7 76.png )

Ventura dissipates into a whirlwind and swirls around Pierre’s legs. He lets out a yelp and covers his crotch. The winds die down for a moment but then resurge, twice as strong as before, then a howling, shrieking wind whips the untied Lucky Panties down Pierre’s legs and they fly away into the sky, never to be seen again.

Pierre isn’t looking very good.

“Bad luck!” I remind him gently. He nods, then closes his eyes and focuses inward before he his back luck has time to catch up with him.

I look over to Landi and Kayk. They’re about halfway through my potion stock, and Kayk is looking replenished. I could tell Landi to keep going and supercharge Kayk’s vitaility to allow her to push as hard as she can to go full-speed toward Minga. It would put us ahead of the super-buffed Censors from Giornico, but we wouldn’t have many health potions for a fight with the other group.

A cold, icy hand grips my insides. This could be a very nasty fight, and even if we win, I’ll have fought against the Chruch’s agents. Their healing magic is strong, but if I kill one of them by accident, or if something goes wrong otherwise, the consequences could be much worse than if I could simply escape with Pierre. A fight would be difficult, and I’d want to maximize the odds in my favor. Whether that’s making sure I have extra health potions, or if I get Taranis to somehow contact the adventurers’ guild with his Tweet spell even with its limited range… maybe there’s a religious priest he can reach out to that would hear him from a longer range?

Rae sees me thinking and takes me aside.

“Serah,” Rae says softly. “We’re headed to straight to Minga, but we don’t have to. There’s a place I know. It’s… in my people’s territory. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s unoccupied.”

“Is it safe for us? For Kayk, Pierre and Dotti?”

“I don’t know,” Rae says, looking downcast. “If I’m with you, my people will give you the benefit of the doubt. We could get taken prisoner. Kayk… if she transforms into her lizardfolk form to hide from the Censors, I could get us into a safe shelter. My people would be far less likely to ambush her if they know she’s not as big of a threat as she is in her true form.”

“And the Censors?”

“They know better,” Rae says simply, and her dead-eyed expression tells me all I need to know.

What path do I choose?

1. Rush to Minga. Spend almost all of my health potions to allow Kayk to race to Minga and outpace the Giornico Censors. Taranis might be able to get a message to the Guild if he’s on good terms with a priest or priestess, and we might be able to meet some adventurers halfway to reinforce us.

2. Prepare for Battle. Save the remaining half of our potions and prepare ourselves for a fight. Kayk will take three hours to reach Minga, and we will have plenty of time to buff up and prepare as best we can.

3. Head to Raelynn’s Druidic Shelter. Will avoid a conflict with the Church, but poses other risks.
No. 1078449 ID: eb0a9c

I think the answer is obvious.
These @#$%s were going to breed an entire army of superpowered spies so they could alter the contents of every piece of scripture they could get their paws on, burying the truths of the world so they could take over. A world at peace... but a world drenched in madness and misinformation.
We. Will. Not. @#$%ing. Accept. This.

Goad the Church. Let them think they've overtaken you. And then weaponize Pierre's bad luck;
Start a war between Elves and Censors. Let his suffering catalyze your victory.
No. 1078450 ID: c572c5

3. It's time for a thread for Rae's character development. Plus, from the sound of things, it looks like she is ready to face her past. This might mean more to her than just escaping the censors.
No. 1078454 ID: a25322

1 or 3 seem like the best answers. I'm leaning 3, as it gives us a natural lead-in to Rae's quest, finally lets us see elven society from the inside, and will keep our party and Minga friends from potential death.
No. 1078456 ID: 273c18

3. Rae has other motives for doing this, ones we should support.