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File 154111794869.png - (10.24KB, 800x600, lake.png) [iqdb]
31363 No. 31363
She paced the edge of it, ruddy-red waves lapping gently over her ankles, painting the soil in full, dark wine: a crater-lake of blood, its heady scent filling her core with the gnawing hunger of centuries. Above her spun the stars of a sky of always night, the Moon, perhaps, crowning them high overhead.

Or perhaps it hung somewhere off the coast of Brazil. She couldn’t tell: there was no light from it, after all, not without the Sun to illuminate it. But it was one or it was the other, because it was high tide on the lake, which meant the greatest extent of freedom allowed to her by the terms of her sealing, if only by a few feet of damp backshore.

She paced it nonetheless.

[ ] Savouring it, for all that it was worth.
[ ] Hating every moment of it.
58posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
>> No. 31429
File 15419625807.png - (8.62KB, 800x600, scarlet.png) [iqdb]
31429
“Is it?” said Alice, wearing not-quite a smile as she nursed her bruised knuckles.

“Yes,” said the vampire.

“Kurumi.”

“Yes.”

“And Miss Elly is your aunt?”

Kurumi caught herself before the word slipped her tongue. “I think,” she said instead, turning to the Elly in question, “I’d remember if I knew someone like—”

“You don’t,” said Elly.

Kurumi blinked, and voiced—

“It was a joke,” said Elly, firmly.

Kurumi glanced to the magician—

“It was not her time,” said Elly.

“Don’t play at the cowl of Death with that ridiculous hat of yours,” Kurumi muttered. She was struck with an unjustifiable feeling, then: that the words had already been spoken, and she had only just acknowledged the fact.

“It’s not as if I wear it for your sake,” Elly murmured back, a hand coming faintly to her mouth as if to prevent the words from spilling out. She coughed then, quite deliberately, and pretended to compose herself, before sweeping her scythe round her back and sitting up on it. “I suppose I shall be brief about it.”

Vampire and magician each kept her silence.

“A wind of change blows our way,” said Elly, “and while I cannot help you brave it, I can provide you this piece of forearming.” She produced two envelopes, then, and distributed them. “These will tell you all that which you need to know.”

They were of aged flax paper, and signed with a flourish Kurumi couldn’t quite read, but left unsealed.

“Rest assured all this is or is to become public knowledge in short order. I do you only the courtesy of informing you.”

“You are a courier?” said Alice all of the sudden, a note of disappointment colouring her voice. She was taken offhand, then, when a spool of fine, silvery wire was thrown her way, and barely caught it in both hands.

“I,” said Elly, “am your dearest Aunt Elly.”

She turned to Kurumi next, and presented her with—

—a living wrist, attached to a living arm, and anything further disappeared behind Elly’s back through impossible angles. She held it out as if leading it in a dance, though its withered form seemed in no condition for such indulgences: living said the whole extent of it.

Kurumi heard the call of blood nevertheless.

[ ] She bit the arm.
[ ] She bit Elly.
>> No. 31430
Withered old arm that barely qualifies above the 'flying rat' in terms of dignity; or Elly. I'm usually not one to jump on the obvious trap 'what the fuck are you doing' choice, but on the other hand I really want to see what happens.

That, and Elly owes Kurumi after depriving her of premium maiden blood.

[x] She bit Elly.
>> No. 31431
[x] She bit Elly.

Threats are not the way to go with vampires.
>> No. 31432
File 154208641997.png - (6.64KB, 800x600, bite.png) [iqdb]
31432
She watched the arm; watched the pulsing ropes of its vein-apparatus plainly visible through the surface of its milkblue skin; watched its fifth finger twitch, and saw that it was shortened a knuckle. It carried the reek of tincture about it, and a hint of cloying poppyjuice that made her nose curl, and its blood—

Kurumi wrenched the awful thing aside, and wet her teeth in Elly’s wrist instead.


“Of course,” muttered Elly. “Good enough for her, but not enough for you.”

Then a hand fell on the vampire’s head, gently stroking through her canary hair and teasing it out of its flight-tossed state.

“I suppose it’s only natural. If I gave you a basket of fresh apples, you’d put a bite in each before you finished a single one.”

Kurumi scowled, and spat away the wrist, batting away the burgundy handkerchief that came to her mouth. Absent was the sate of seizing and taking; she was left only with the sense of having been fed out of palm, and the lingering bitterness of gallowsman’s blood.

In front of her stood Elly, folding away the handkerchief, none the worse for wear.

“That’ll be the last time for that,” she chided, and spun her scythe.

“Go away,” hissed Kurumi, scarlet pinpricks surfacing again as paper crumpled in her hand. “Away, away!”

Yet Elly had already gone.
>> No. 31435
File 154208767166.jpg - (934.23KB, 2000x2400, elly.jpg) [iqdb]
31435
“By the by, dear maid, if you would carry this message to your mistress,” said Elly, and produced a silver pocketwatch in her hand: “She is not the only one with an ear to the fates.”

Elly threw the timepiece into the air, where it disappeared without trace, and caught in return a stick of carved bone. She held it out between thumb and forefinger, as if it might bite at her, and pressed the switch on its side, whereupon a needlepoint blade snicked abruptly out the front.

“Tactless as always,” murmured Elly, though she nonetheless breathed a sigh of relief. She turned the knife about in her hands. “Now how does it close?”
>> No. 31436
File 15421372951.png - (5.41KB, 800x600, notice.png) [iqdb]
31436
Kurumi stared at the dead space where Elly had been a minute prior. The madwoman, she had to be a madwoman, figured Kurumi, had left an absence as audible as her presence, and the vampire in turn was left almost adrift in its wake. She exhaled a sigh, and set to picking at her teeth with her nails.

“Hum,” said Alice, and Kurumi narrowly avoided biting her own finger.

Why,” she began; then reined in the hissing, and said again: “Why are you still here?”

“For Orléans,” said the magician, “and Gravenhage.”

“Aureliana’s mine,” Kurumi said at once, though her cast showed sulkiness more than any conviction. She turned away to hide it. “Leave us be.”

“By what right!”

Right? muttered Kurumi. What right?—“You left her to drown,” she said, “and I but picked her up.”

“That is not what happened!”

Kurumi rounded on the magician. “Yet Gravenhage lies aground—”

“A duel, then!” declared Alice, pointing frivolously.

“Pass.” Kurumi crossed her arms. “Die somewhere else and don’t stink up my lake.”

“A named duel,” she clarified, and held up the paper in her hand.

Kurumi squinted at the blackletter print, before remembering the one she had on hand. She uncrumpled the envelope, smoothing out the paper inside, and held it up.

       Notice of Promulgation
     Bill for the Naming of Duels

She gave a sceptic glance at the magician, before reading on.

               • • •

The reverse carried only an official ‘authorisation’ from the ‘shrine maiden’ mentioned in the copy, like as not referring to Elly herself. Definitely a madwoman, Kurumi muttered, nose twitching.

“Well?” said Alice.

Kurumi folded the letter, looking back up to the sight of an expectant stare from the magician girl. Then her eyes slid down, to the grimoire which remained by her waist.

The one who had sealed her here had been a magician, too.

[ ] She accepted, and set terms.
[ ] She’d take what she wanted.
>> No. 31437
[x] She accepted, and set terms.

A change for petty revenge? I'm in.
>> No. 31438
>>31436
[X] She accepted, and set terms.
Oh brave Kurumi ~ duelling for the fair maiden Aureliana, cruelly discarded by her master! Also ???????????????? magicians. That too.

Hopefully our slightly-less-starving vampire can manage this.

I can't place why Elly received a bone folding knife. Something to think about/look out for.
>> No. 31439
File 154222519036.png - (5.87KB, 800x600, quills.png) [iqdb]
31439
Kurumi reined in her immediate urges: she was fed, for the moment; sober, for the moment. Instead she took another angle to the proposition, leaning toward Alice and closing an eye. True, the magician might be made useful, if fallen into the vampire’s hand—she had only to win.

There was just one thing Kurumi had to know first.

“What do you say?” she asked Aureliana, holding the doll to her ear. “Shall I?”

Aureliana nodded her assent, with a little help from her champion’s finger.

No further question to it, then. Kurumi lowered Aureliana, and called out: “Accept!”

“Very well!” called back the magician. “Choice of weapon?”

She cocked her head lakeward. “Fish up your doll.”

Alice made no such motion; simply twined her fingers with string, a smirk growing on her lips at the thought of assured satisfaction. Then she raised her hands, and six fresh dolls, orange-draped and red-haired all, fanned out in squadron around her: “Antwerp, Brussels, Flanders, Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht!”

Kurumi returned the smirk, and raised her hand in like, calling up a triplet of blooded crowquills from the surface of the lake. No objection came, and it was decided: the duel would be two of three.

[ ] She declared first.
[ ] She ceded the privilege.
>> No. 31440
[x] She declared first.
>> No. 31441
[x] She declared first

She's not brash, this is pure confidence.
>> No. 31442
File 154223572015.png - (121.18KB, 512x512, Crow-Quills.png) [iqdb]
31442
[X] She declared first.
The hero strikes first!! Who knows what underhanded tricks a magician might have if you let them scheme.

I wasn't aware crowquill was an actual descriptor for a weapon.
>> No. 31443
>>31442
By the way: congrats on making it halfway, mr writer.
>> No. 31444
>>31443
Thanks for comin' along, mister reader~
>> No. 31445
File 154225690190.png - (8.00KB, 800x600, first.png) [iqdb]
31445
The first crowquill crossed Kurumi’s palm, and she set blood to paper.

[ ] Pride Sign “Auspice Murder”
[ ] Wrath Sign “Alektor’s Crown”
>> No. 31446
>>31445
[X] Pride Sign “Auspice Murder”
Pride and Wrath - yep that sums her up well. Pride is the more fun of the two.

>alektor
'a cock, or male of any bird, a rooster'
Wrath Sign ~ 'cock crown aka: dickhead'
>> No. 31448
File 154230996233.png - (25.23KB, 1128x468, 11_1.png) [iqdb]
31448
>>31438
>I can't place why Elly received a bone folding knife.
Short answer: I fucked it up.
>>31432
>> No. 31449
[x] Wrath Sign “Alektor’s Crown”
I've never understood why people don't start all out
>> No. 31450
[X] Wrath Sign “Alektor’s Crown”
>> No. 31451
File 15424097736.png - (7.61KB, 800x600, fire.png) [iqdb]
31451
With a scatter of penstrokes, the first round was given name, and meaning. Kurumi tore away the scribed section, and held it out, declaring—

Alektor’s Crown!

—and they were duel-bound, the spell of the contract seizing its hold. At once they were surrounded by the walls of a priory cloister, lancet arches standing in rows all round them; and a warm wind blew in, shrouding the stars behind roiling plumes of black smoke.

So: the contract had some power to it, the vampire conceded. She had given it a recollection of her past, and the spell card had effected it here, in broadest strokes. Yet—one crucial detail had been left missing.

No matter. She’d rectify that in short order. Kurumi called up a gout of fire and flung it against the priory steeple, crowning it with a comb of flames that spread rapidly over the cloister till it licked up all round them like a flock of so many squabbling cockerels.

If the burning scene held any trepidation for Alice, she hid it well—from her face, at least. It yet bled through in the placement of her dolls, which rallied close around her in close defensive formation, and in the quickening of her pulse.

Kurumi next pursed her lips, and filled her hands with the symbol of her grudge.

[ ] The insurgent’s pike.
[ ] The iron bell-clapper.
>> No. 31452
[x] The insurgent’s pike.

I have a Vlad feeling about this
>> No. 31453
I still wish we went pride because this is an interesting way to shape the character. I know fuckall of history, but I'll try my best to piece this out.

>insurgent's pike
In this instance wouldn't Kurumi be the insurgent, if she's burning down a steeple? Church had massive sway on government back then, I thought.

>iron bell-clapper
An alarm of some kind. Possibly the church bell.

>>31452
>Vlad feeling
'The stories about Vlad's plundering raids in Transylvania were clearly based on an eyewitness account, because they contain accurate details (including the lists of the churches destroyed by Vlad and the dates of the raids)'
Could be related but I doubt it. Apparently he fought under the blessing of some churches too? Try your best, Wikipedia-kun.

I'll go with: [X] The iron bell-clapper.
Since it's the more mysterious.

Apologies for being late - I was busy yesterday. Why is my vote as long as the update.
>> No. 31454
[x] The insurgent’s pike.
It's only fitting, right?
>> No. 31455
File 154251325460.png - (8.49KB, 800x600, pike.png) [iqdb]
31455
She had pried it from the calloused hands of a dead peasant: a sixteenfoot length of solid ash wood, tipped with a curt steel spike. Both ends of it ran slick with blood—this would be the second time it had changed masters the night.

The vampire spun the pike round, menacing her quarry with its bodkin-point. Fires filled her sight; she remembered well the scene. It was here in the cloister that she’d cornered him: here, in the midst of the town as it burned, and it was here that she’d see him at long last dead.

“Trier,” she hissed.

It was a title, and one he had long since cast away; but the man’s true name was forgotten to her, ground away by the onward press of years. She cared not to remember it.

So—“Trier!” she cursed. “Trier!”

And Trier stood there before her: he, alone, absent all his electoral fineries, absent all his damned cannon. He had now only his forgery of a robe, and the bulk of a cuirass underneath it serving as tantamount admission of his own faithlessness; and though he had the practised voice of a cantor, tonight he was only stony-faced and silent.

The vampire, likewise, had not a word further to spare for him.
>> No. 31456
File 154259089827.png - (5.22KB, 800x600, vision1.png) [iqdb]
31456
She levelled the pike, fingers pressing round it ever tighter. In her hands it was as a lance, and the vampire braced it as one—bursting forth at her old enemy, carried on galloping wingbeats that would match any dextrarius for speed and fury.

Her first charge missed its mark, the elector loosing a scatter of curse-bullets as he scrambled to bring himself out of line. The vampire disengaged only just in time to keep from breaking her pike against a pillar, and she swung it round in a blind arc as she reoriented herself.

Finding her target keeping out of measure, she snarled and charged him again. Another, more focused stream of curses forced her to pull aside; but she was ready this time, her pike held at half-length, and she twisted round the shots to bring herself flying true again. Thrusting the pike out as she closed in, she gave point over and again, breaking the elector’s focus and driving him toward a corner.

Finding that he was running out of ground to give, her quarry instead slipped through a set of arches, thinking to seek cover in the arcade itself, even as it smouldered above him.

The vampire hissed in annoyance. She’d make him understand: there was no place left to him for to hide. Drawing back her pike, she flung out a tumbling salvo of culverin shot that punched into the pillars and showered the elector with spall. The next salvo smashed the pillars apart entire and collapsed the entire section, threatening to bury him beneath a heap of burning masonry.

Seemingly convinced by the vampire’s argument, Trier emerged from out the flaming wreckage. New resolve welled up in his eyes, and he armed himself likewise anew, three slender parrying blades held between the fingers of each hand.
>> No. 31457
File 154260024442.jpg - (58.37KB, 800x600, church boy.jpg) [iqdb]
31457
>>31456
>three slender parrying blades held between the fingers of each hand
This absolutely cannot be a coincidence.

On a less silly note, according to the all-seeing oracle Google, Trier is either a German/ancient European town, or a description of someone who does not give up. I can't conclude anything solid from this.
>> No. 31460
File 154265877571.png - (6.54KB, 800x600, vision2.png) [iqdb]
31460
She set upon him immediately, delivering a series of thrusts at the elector’s neck. He in turn kept forward in his defense, striking out with the daggers in hopes of binding the pike or knocking it aside. Realising this, the vampire pulled away and attempted to cut at joints and limbs with the spearhead; but again Trier covered himself well, displaying a coordination she had never before recognised in the man.

The task of keeping him outside the point soon grew to occupy the whole of her concentration, and it taxed the vampire’s endurance to a degree that would prove unsustainable if she allowed it to continue. She was forced to pull back, and they faced off catercorner in the burning square.

“Hell and sulphur to you,” she cursed him; “the gates of Hell to you!”

She raised her pike one final time. In another moment she’d send him there; spit him straight through and fly his corpse as a flag—let him decide now whether it would be front-to-back or bottom-through-top.

Trier said nothing; only dared her with steely eyes. He kept his ground, fanning out the blades in his hands and conjuring up a gossamer-thin barrier before him.


The vampire charged—

—and her vision filled up with the seven colours of light.
>> No. 31461
File 154267628968.png - (7.15KB, 800x600, defeat.png) [iqdb]
31461
She was above the lake again; in the present again. No fires blazed round her; no knocking of guns and no acrid stench of burning dead.

Only Alice.

The magician hovered in place, eyes pressed shut and palms thrust out in front of her. as if frozen in the moment of triumph—save for the coursing of her breath. Then, at length, she lowered her arms, her dolls following in suit and releasing their conjured weapons into thin air.

Kurumi hissed lowly to herself, trying to shake some measure of feeling back into her arm. The laser had struck her full on like a refulgent lance, leaving half her body numb and an irritating buzzing in her teeth. A couple of scintillating floaters remained in her eyes; she blinked them away as she glared sullenly in defeat.

Alice was sober in her victory, an uncharacteristic—so the vampire thought—apprehension taking the place of her usual excitability. She played absently with her fingers, sending her dolls adrift down meandering garden paths. The magician was at odds with herself over—something.

Kurumi had felt just about ready to snap at the magician, when finally the question came out of her:

“Who was Trier?”

The vampire groaned into her hand.

[ ] She lied.
[ ] She answered not.
>> No. 31462
>>31461
[X] She answered not
How to annoy a magician part 2: abuse their natural curiosity

That was an interesting flashback. I'm real curious for the 'bell clapper' scene now - though given opportunity I'll pick pride sign next time.
>> No. 31463
[x] She lied.

We have to answer, but not necessarily truthfully.

That's wrong, but she probably doesn't know that.
>> No. 31464
[X] She answered not.

She hasn't won yet.
>> No. 31465
Attempted a shill, though it does not seem to have worked. Ah, well, 3 guys is enough to not have infinite ties. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
>> No. 31466
File 154276133354.png - (5.20KB, 800x600, second.png) [iqdb]
31466
Trier, Trier, Trier. She was sick of him. Alice was no Trier: the simple fact had cost Kurumi the round. Even in death the elector had found a way to spite her one more time. Still, a loss was a loss, and she supposed the magician girl had earned herself some sort of reply.

But what was she to say?

Certainly not the truth of it—damn his memory. Then, Kurumi thought, maybe she would lie; satisfy the magician’s nosiness with some gory fable; of a simple prior, perhaps, beaten to death with the clapper of his own churchbell for having disturbed the sleep of a terrible, terrible vampire . . .

Kurumi bit back another groan at the puerility of it. Lucky her face was already buried in her hand.

“The memory dies with me,” she said finally, resignation weighing her voice down to a rasp.

Alice gave the vampire her blankest look yet. “You’d let it die?”

“That’s what I said.”

“But,” she half-said and half-asked, “it sounds like it’s something important to you?”

“It sounds to me like you’re a second hit short of getting to ask me questions like that,” said Kurumi, rolling her shoulders. “Call your card.”

Alice frowned, but acquiesced. The second crowquill was to the magician, and she hovered it searchingly over the palimpsest.
>> No. 31467
>>31465
Thanks for it anyway. Honestly, seeing someone throw in a good word about this was already beyond my best expectations.
>> No. 31468
>>31467
Dunno why you put your bar so low, but sure?
>> No. 31469
Heyo. Everything alright?
>> No. 31470
>>31469
Was out for a few days for Thanksgiving. Normal update schedule resuming shortly.
>> No. 31471
>>31470
Ah - thanksgiving ain't a thing in Australia, so I didn't consider it.
>> No. 31472
File 154307913074.png - (5.61KB, 800x600, order.png) [iqdb]
31472
Finally she committed a name, and announced it, the page flashing in her hand.

Dolls’ Crusade!

And Kurumi found herself now in the midst of far-flung plains, the roaring of rivers reaching her as echoes from a distant mountainside: not the rim of sloping hills that circled her caldera, but mountains, real, that reached toward the sky with misted peaks, and were cloaked with forests of glittering crystal lattice.

Well; as real as the magician’s imagination could provide, the vampire sighed.

Still—“Crusade,” she murmured, a smile crossing her face. She liked the sound of that. It elevated her to a faith unto herself; albeit a Saracen one. Perhaps she’d make the magician her first disciple?

Yet when Alice raised her hands again, the dolls took up no crusader’s arms. Instead they formed a miniature block of pike and shot: a Dutch formation of all of six strong, plus their pet magician for guns. It was no mobilisation for crusade, but for earthly war alone.

It was no matter, thought Kurumi; no matter. She’d accept the title of Nation just as well as of Faith. And for a Dolls’ War?

The vampire turned to Aureliana, frowning imperiously, and declared: “You’re to be my Chief of Staff!”

Aureliana received the appointment with a click of wooden heels; then seemed to ask her something in turn.

“As for myself?” Kurumi repeated the question. “Well.”

Something every war needed.

[ ] A general, of course.
[ ] A hero, of course.
>> No. 31473
[x] A hero, of course
>> No. 31474
[x] A hero, of course.

Vampires and heroes: name a more iconic duo.

I'll wait.
>> No. 31475
[X] A hero, of course.
>bunch of fairy dolls with glorified metal twigs
More like Children's Crusade, amirite.

A hero to liberate the children.

>>31474
See you at the end of time.
>> No. 31476
>>31475
Also Alice's card seems pretty bs compared to Kurumi's. Seems like Alice is just making stuff up/imagining it - when Kurumi went ahead and just manifested one of the shittiest moments of her life.
>> No. 31477
...a couple things have come up which together mean that I probably won't be able to keep up the previous update rate through the rest of November.

There is more to come, though I'll be moving on to less frequent, albeit hopefully more substantial updates from here on out.
>> No. 31478
>>31477
Understandable. As long as the story goes on at a decent pace I'm happy.
>> No. 31480
>>31478
By which I mean 'not completely grind to a halt.'
>> No. 31481
>>31480
I probably should've just said "I'll be busy until exams are over" since that's what it's chalking up to be.
>> No. 31482
>>31481
Understandable. Good luck.
>> No. 31494
This still going?
>> No. 31500
>>31494
Guess not. A shame. This was the last story I've taken interest to on the site.
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