You are hurting all over, and you are guessing that it's only going to get worse as the night goes on. It probably wouldn't look too good if you ended up collapsing when you first arrived on location for the job, not to mention the fact that you're clothes are in pretty sloppy shape at this point. The job will most likely still be there tomorrow night, and even if it isn't it's not like you don't have other options to follow after what you just went through. Better to bring yourself back and let your body rest, then head on over tomorrow night.
As you walk on back to your apartment, you begin to realize the soundness of your decision. With every step you take your body begins to protest more and more. You didn't think that you had battered yourself up this much; maybe that the last trick you pulled off in that test chamber put more strain on your body than you first thought. Still, it's not like anything's broken, and you get the feeling that you should be fine if you can get some rest.
After what feels like hours, your apartment building finally comes into sight. With a small sigh of relief, you use your key to open the front door and walk inside. A quick check of your mailbox reveals nothing, and a few seconds later you're past the entry and walking towards the sweet, sweet relief of your bed.
"Oy, Conner, there you are!"
Oh crap, you forgot about this particular pitfall. It probably would have been wiser to crash over at Suke's tonight, because right now you've got a tall, grinning landlady bearing down upon you. And if the bottle in her hand is any indication, she isn't here to chat.
"Hey there, Old hag," You say with a weak grin, "Did you get the-"
"Rent money? You betcha! Good work getting it in on time this month, though it probably wouldn't hurt ya? to trust Suika a bit more." By this point the tall landlady has caught up to you, and with a firm grip on your shoulder she turns you around to fact her. "I think you might have hurt her feelings a bit when you didn't give her the money." She says in a slight whisper, causing you to smell the alcohol on her breath. Yup, she's drunk alright.
"Weren't you the one who scolded me a few months back when I actually did give it to her, and told me that I need to be more responsible when it comes to how I get the money to you?"
Yuugi seems to ponder this for a moment before letting out a loud laugh. "Yeah, I guess I did tell you that, huh? Well in that case, good work! You should come and join us for a drink to celebrate."
"To celebrate the fact that I did something the way you told me to?" You say with a small sigh, "Can I assume that you're going to drag me back to your room no matter what I say or do?"
"Pretty much, yeah." Yuugi says. At this point she's already dragging you over to her door by your shirt, and you can only sign in slight resignation. "Kisume wouldn't let us pick up Yamame tonight, saying something about how she needs her rest, so we need some more company. It looks like you could use a drink to calm your nerves in any case; you kinda look like you've been to hell and back."
"Not nearly that bad?" you say, but at the same time you realize that she might have a point. As long as you're already back you might as well have a nightcap to see if it can't ease the pain a little bit. Hopefully you'll be able to drag yourself off to bed before your inevitable collapse, but so long as you can't avoid having a small drink you might as well try to enjoy it.
"Well come on in and tell us about it, then!" Yuugi throws her door open and drags you in behind her. A quick glance tells you that there would be no huge party tonight; only Suika and Parsee are hanging around right now, with no evidence of any of the others that you saw this evening. On one hand, this means that there won't probably be any loud noise to keep you awake tonight. On the other, your chances of escaping in a state less than completely smashed tonight have more or less gone down the drain, since you'll probably be the center of attention.
"Tell us about what?" Suika is sitting up, and even though you can tell she is at least as drunk as Yuugi (if not more) she seems to be having no problems sitting up and downing one drink after another. "You run into some trouble again, Conner? You've really got to learn to apply some force when something like that happens."
"At least he can apply some force. Some of us don't exactly have that option." Ugh, and there goes Parsee again. No matter what the topic is, this green-eyed sulker always seems to bring the conversation back to the things that she seems to think other people have over her. You honestly have no idea what Yuugi sees in her; from your perspective dating someone like that would only drive you crazy.
"C'mon now, Parsee," Yuugi says as she takes a seat next to her girlfriend. "You don't need any force if you've already got me, right?" Before the green-eyed monster can retort Yuugi has already swooped down to kiss her on the cheek. With a huge blush, Parsee brings her drink to her lips, mumbling something that you can't hear into it.
"alright, maybe you can kinda see what Yuugi might see in her.
"So yeah, Conner, pull up a drink and tell us what happened, alright?" Yuugi says with a sweep of her arm and a grin. With another small sigh, you grab a bottle and open it up as you tell them what happened to you today.
"Geez, an offer to work with Nitori? I'm so jealous!" Parsee says as she leans forward, interrupting you near the end of your tale. By this point you are already on your third drink, and can really feel the alcohol coursing through your system. "You accepted the position, of course? I mean, you'd be crazy not to."
"AAAUUUGGHHH!" Parsee says as she facepalms back into a sitting position, crashing her back against Yuugi's arm. Yuugi doesn't move an inch, instead choosing to keep on drinking her sake from her dish without spilling a drop due to Parsee's impact. "This is why idiots can't have nice things! When someone offers you a job at a major company like that, you take it!"
"I dunno, Parsee," Suika says as she downs another cup, "I don't think that kinda job is what I'd wanna do. Forced to do the same kind of thing at a desk day in and day out? Not my kinda thing."
"That's because you're just a lazy moocher who has no concept of doing anything for anyone other than themselves!" Parsee says, sending a glare at Suika. The small horned girl just waves the insult off, choosing instead to down another can of beer.
"Well I, for one, think Conner made the right decision regardless." Setting her dish down, Yuugi draws Parsee into a one-armed hug, effectively silencing her as the green-eyed blushes in embarrassment at the contact. "A decision like that takes some time, and shouldn't be made rashly. You still got the paperwork they gave you, then?"
With a nod, you pull the packet out at Yuugi's beckoning and hand it to her. You are amazed that she can read at all at this point, but you aren't going to turn down hearing some of her advice. The old hag is pretty worldly, amazingly enough, and tends to give out good advice even if she is twelve drinks in. Yuugi flips through the package, glancing over the pages quickly before flipping it back to the first page and returning it to you.
"I don't think they were lying to you, in any case." Yuugi says as she picks up a bottle to refill her dish with. "The paperwork looks legitimate, and the description is for an ?advanced tester?, who would mainly come in and test out things as needed."
"So what's the catch?" you say as you flip through the packet yourself, taking a swig every now and again as you do.
"If I had to guess?" Yuugi says as she pours the rest of the bottle out into her dish, "The first thing that jumps out is the fact that they don't tell you whom you'll be working under. it's not really something that you'd normally expect in a job description, but I just can't shake the feeling that the paperwork is set up to put you under someone important. Also, it's a bit strange that they didn't specify exactly how they will pay you for your work. At the very least I would expect them to clarify whether they will pay you by the hour or on a salary, but they seemed to have left it out entirely. Watch yourself when it comes time to discuss your compensation."
"Alright," You say as you jot a few notes in the margins of the offer. "Anything else?"
"I'm not sure?" Yuugi says as she stares at her drink in thought, mindlessly pulling Parsee's head into her lap as she does. (Parsee's surprise at this is plastered all over her face, though she does nothing to resist) ?How did they present the offer to you? Was it the Hina chick who actually gave it to you?" You nod. "What were the exact words that she said when she put this packet in front of you?"
"Um?" you scrunch your forehead as you try to remember what was said. Your mind wasn't exactly at full capacity at the time, but you think you still remember the gist of what Hina said. "I don't recall the exact words, but she said I should call after I had come to a decision, and that they were willing to renegotiate, I think?"
"Ha!" Yuugi says as she draws her dish up to her lips. "That means that you really must have impressed someone over there, Conner! A corporation isn't usually going to give someone a job offer that's renegotiable, it's almost always a take it or leave it kind of situation. They must want you pretty bad, huh?"
"Really?" You try to think back to your conversations with Hina. "They didn't seem that eager to me."
"Trust me on this Conner; you've got the court advantage here. it's probably in your best interest to head back there regardless of your decision and try to wrangle a better deal for yourself. I can more or less guarantee that you'll be able to push this to your advantage."
"If you say so, Old Hag." you say with a shrug as you re-bag the offer. "Thanks for the advice regardless, I really appreciate it."
Yuugi just grins as she takes another swig. By this point Parsee has closed her eyes as Yuugi strokes her hair and you can swear that it almost seems like she's purring. Suika seems like she's going toward trying to break her drinking record from last night, and with a roll of your eyes you pick your drink back up as well and take a swig. The advice Yuugi just gave you is most certainly of the solid variety, but you can tell that in return for it she's going to want you to stick around and drink for a while. Kicking back the last of your bottle, you can tell that you have another long night ahead of you.
"dammit, you aren't dreaming.
You crack your eyes open, and as your brain attempts to reboot itself you realize that even after the horrendous amount of alcohol that you put into your body last night you still managed to crawl your way back into your room and into bed. Go you.
"Conner! Hey, Conner, you there?"
After relieving yourself in the bathroom, and chugging down half a cup of water to try and make the pain coming from your entire body stop, you stumble your way back towards the bed. A glance at the clock shows that it's around 1:00 PM, meaning that you still have plenty of time to sleep in before you have to leave for that babysitting job.
"C'mon, Conner! You can't just leave me out here like this!"
Geez, what is that racket? You move to the window to see who is shouting outside. This ends up being a mistake, since the moment that Aya spots you her face turns into one giant grin and she begins to wave in your direction.
"There you are! Geez, I thought I might have missed you or something. Go ahead and buzz me in, ok?"
Aw man, why did you ever let her learn where you live? You really don't want to deal with Aya right now, what with your head and body aching all over, both from the excursion from yesterday as well as from the alcohol. What to do, what to do?
[INTMDT] You should probably convince her to come back later, but you're mind isn't exactly awake right now. The only way you can think of doing that at the moment is by yelling at her until she leaves. [ ] Just close the shades and go back to bed. Not like she can do anything if you don't buzz her in. [ ] "she isn't going to leave that easily, and you know it. Might as well bite the bullet and let her in.
[X] "she isn't going to leave that easily, and you know it. Might as well bite the bullet and let her in. -[PRSD:FAIL] "I feel terrible right now, Aya. Would you mind making it quick and/or come back another time?"
Even if you ignored her, you know Aya isn't the type to just go away when you tell her to. And even if you didn't let her in, she'd probably be able to convince Yuugi that she needs to get into your room somehow. The last thing you want is for Aya to be snooping around your room while you doze?
With a groan, you walk over to your door and grope around for the button that will buzz the front door. After you press it, you head to your bathroom and start chugging some water from the sink, hoping that it will help with your pounding headache. (It doesn't) As you put your cup back in its place, you can hear some very enthusiastic knocking coming from your door. Wincing at the noise, you make your way back over to the door. As you open it, Aya pushes her way into the room, her face glowing with that huge grin of hers. If it were any other time you might have found it somewhat infectious, but right now all that it's doing is putting you off as you try to keep your head from splitting apart.
"Eesh, you look like someone put you through the printing press." Aya says, her grin not toning tone in the slightest as she says that. It looks like she's dressed in her standard fieldwork outfit consisting of a white button-down shirt that's open at the top and a black skirt that flirts above her knees, below which a pair of knee-high socks sit within a pair of black walking shoes. Atop her short black hair lays that weird red-tasseled hat that she won't tell you about in respect to both why she wears it and how the heck she keeps it up there. "Got dragged through another alcohol filled night, huh?"
"I don't want to talk about it." You say as you sit down on your mattress, placing your head in your hands in order to try and block out some of the light. "Look Aya, as you can tell I feel pretty terrible right now. Would you mind making this quick?"
"Sure thing!" Aya says as she plops down next to you. (You really should think about investing in a folding chair for times like these) Rummaging around in her bag, Aya soon pulls out a copy of the notice that you saw yesterday. "Long story short, I need your help."
"I kind of figured," you say with a groan, "I saw that posting on the board yesterday. Mind telling me what you need my help with?"
"Wait, you already saw the notice?" Aya says with confusion forming on her face, "Then why haven't I heard from you until now?"
"I was busy with something else." You say, trying to make your response as curt as possible. "So what is it that you actually want me to do?"
"You know, we wouldn't have this kind of communication problem if you would just give me your cell phone number. That way when I have something for you to do we wouldn't-"
"Alright, alright!" Aya says as she waves her hands in front of herself, "I've sniffed out a new lead, and I'd like your help in the investigation. Nothing big, I swear."
"Exactly what was this ?lead? that you heard of?" You ask as you turn to face Aya. "I'm hoping that it's actually something that could be considered somewhat important."
"It is important!" Aya says as she digs out some notes from her bag. "From what I've heard, there have been some mysterious sightings near the Lost Forest!"
"Oh?" You ask in an uninterested manner, "That's not exactly something uncommon, Aya. People see odd stuff near the forest all the time."
"Yeah, but check this out," Aya says, bouncing up and down with some barely contained enthusiasm, "From what I've heard, some people have said that they have seen an honest-to-glob NINJA near the outskirts of the forest! What do you think of that.
You can only stare at Aya for a few moments, before you realize that she's being serious. Groaning, you let yourself fall back onto your mattress, covering your eyes with your hands once you do. "Look Aya, this isn't really a good time. I've got a splitting headache from the ?alcohol filled night? as you put it, and I already have plans set up for tonight. Can we put off this investigation for another day?"
"No Conner, c'mon!" Aya says, her grin finally cracking to show a frown, "I have no idea what I might actually find out there, and I know that you're good at getting out of sticky situations. I need you for backup, just in case!"
"But seriously, a ninja? Even if it were the case that someone like that even existed, don't you think that they would probably, I don't know, keep to themselves or something? It doesn't really sound that dangerous to me."
"I don't want to take that chance!" Aya jumps up in order to lean over you with a stern look on her face. "You know as well as I do that weird stuff live in that forest, and I don't want to head over there unprotected. Now are you going to come along, or am I going to have to drag you there myself?"
"Dragging sounds pretty good to me?" you mutter as you close your eyes. You lay on the matress for a few seconds until you can hear Aya let out a sigh of disappointment.
"Fine, if that's the way you want to do this, I'm not going to force you. I'll just head out to the dangerous woods all on my own, with no protection whatsoever. I'm sure that I can always just run away from something that wants to kill me dead, no need to worry about me, the girl who is always throwing herself headfirst into danger." She lets out another sigh, and you can hear her opening your door. "I'll be leaving now; see you later, Conner. Or, you know, maybe not." With a click, you can hear the door close behind her.
"well good! This girl needs to learn that you won't always be there to watch her back for her! I mean, talk about selfish! All you want is to sleep the day away, and yet she has the gall to offer you a paying job to protect her from getting hurt in a forest that's known for exotic and dangerous wildlife, which she is going to throw herself headfirst into?
You push yourself off of your mattress, wincing at the pain that results from it, and rush over to the doorway, throwing it open so that you can try and chase after-
"Oh hey, Conner! Changed your mind?"
"the evil little wench who is sitting across from your door, holding her knees and grinning up at you. You do your best to come up with a retort, but ultimately all you can do it sigh, leaning over as you grab the door to your room.
"Give me ten minutes to shower and change, alright?"
>>48180 It kind of shows with the post. You may want to look into having someone else start looking over your posts: this sort of thing seems to be consistent over a lot of what your story has. Allow me to point out some specifics in the most recent post:
>with your pounding headache. (It doesn't) As you put your cup back in its place,
Just because something's in parentheses doesn't mean it doesn't need punctuation.
>?Eesh, you look like someone put you through the printing press." Aya says, her grin not toning tone in the slightest as she says that.
Two things: If you end a line of dialogue, and then transition to "<name> says", the period needs to be replaced with a comma. Also, "tone toned".
>?I don't want to talk about it." You say as you sit down on your mattress,
Same thing here, except you would not capitalize "you".
>?I kind of figured," you say with a groan,
A good use of it, though I get the feeling it was unintentional. Intending to end a dialogue with a period or a comma, regardless of whether or not you'll pick up after the "they said" break, requires a comma in both instances.
>plops down next to you. (You really should think about investing in a folding chair for times like these) Rummaging
> something else." You say,
This happens quite a bit, and I've said my piece. I can pick out the rest if you want, but I don't think it's really that necessary.
> "From what I've heard, some people have said that they have seen an honest-to-glob NINJA near the outskirts of the forest! What do you think of that.
Needs closing quotes.
> "Dragging sounds pretty good to me?" you mutter as you close your eyes.
The ellipsis. Now, this isn't an actual grammatical rule, but you need to tone down the ellipses: this would be a great place to start. Replace the ellipsis here with a comma, and it looks more professional.
>?You know as well as I do that weird stuff live in that forest
Lives. Conjugational stuff, I guess.
>but ultimately all you can do it sigh,
Now, like I said, I'm just nitpicking, and these things, one or two won't break a story. But the fact that these errors are so consistent breaks my immersion in the story, and makes it much harder to enjoy.
I don't want to come off like a jackass and saying that 'oh god your story is terrible die in a fire'. It's not. It just is in need of polishing to keep it from being in the same mechanical category as a lot of FF.net crap.
I have two questions for you: first, is English your native language, and second, would you be willing to have someone look at your posts and help with this? Because I'd be willing to.
Anyhoo, to answer your questions from your previous post, English is in fact my native language. That said, I'm usually pretty brain-dead when I start writing in the evening, so by the time I begin proofreading my mind is completely out of it, and little mistakes like the ones you pointed out tend to slip by easily. I wouldn't mind asking someone to read my work before I post it, but... well let's just say that my personal life is complicated, so asking someone close to me is right out. If you can think of a way for me to send this to you before I post it, I wouldn't mind having you proofread my work. Otherwise, I could just put off posting what I've written until I've had a chance to go over it with a clear head.
Nope. Unlike the previous story, where inventory was key to your actions, I'm not going to be holding your hand when it comes to your items. I'll keep track of what's in your bag and on your person, but other than that what goes in and out of your inventory is up to you.
[X] Leave the laptop on our table -[X] Take your trusty boomerang -[X] Text Hina, casually ask if Nitori has any experimental Technology that might be useful in dealing with a ninja who may or may not be hidden in a forest.
I didn't notice any of those mistakes until the ancient and most venerable grammar Sensei up there pointed them out.
You can't leave your wallet! That's where you keep your money, credit cards, driver's license, social security card, passport, mental imprint, the key to your soul, the key to your heart, your tax return, your tripcodes, every single computer and online password that is attributed to you, and your Wendy's discount card!
Or to put it another way, the wallet will always be on your person because I don't want to have to deal with multiple money management options.
Anyways, I think that I see a basic consensus in the votes, so I'm going to try and get started with the writing as soon as I can.
>>48294 >Boomerang is on the list of available weapons. No. Boomerang was an option at the very beginning when we were selecting a preferred weapon. It wasn't "you own all of these, pick which one you're currently carrying".
It's no problem. On another note, as soon as I can seems to not be coming up as quickly as I first thought. Not saying that there will be a major delay yet, but at the same time I have to finish up a few things before I can get back to writing, which may take a couple more days. I'll keep you posted if something big comes up, but hopefully this won't take too long.
Alright, here we go again! Thanks to BackupWeasel for the proofreading help!
[X] Leave the laptop behind, and put the job offer somewhere safe.
After taking a quick rinse in the shower and throwing on some new clothes, you feel? well not great, but at least good enough to deal with Aya and her shenanigans. You grab your bag and head to the door, but end up pausing before you pass through. Opening your bag, you grab your laptop and toss in onto your mattress. You aren't really sure why you took it with you yesterday in the first place. it's not really that useful to you unless you need to access the internet - while you can usually find a Wi-Fi signal to bum off of while you are in the city, you rarely find the opportunity to actually sit down and do so unless you are puttering around in your room. The mobility is nice as an option, but all in all you tend to find that bringing it with you doesn't really amount to much.
Another thought pops into your head and you pull out the job offer. There is no real reason for this to come with you either, although you do copy down the number Hina gave you onto your phone before hiding the offer inside of your pillow. You trust Yuugi completely when it comes to your privacy, but at the same time it's more or less been proven to you that no door can really hold Suika back when she is searching for alcohol. You're pretty sure that the paper stack will be safe there as long as it doesn't look or feel like the pillow is hiding a drink.
You cross the threshold of your room, finding Aya leaning against the wall waiting for you. With a bright smile she gestures for you to follow. "Looking good, Conner," she says as she marches you out of the building. "Now let's get going, we've wasted enough time already!"
You let out a small sigh as you follow her out. Crossing the street, you come upon Aya's preferred method of transportation, a blue scooter with a seat that can barely fit two people. Aya hops on and tosses on the helmet that was lying across the handles. She turns to you and pats the seat behind her with a smile. A part of you wants to argue that getting on that thing is not only uncomfortable and emasculating, but also makes it appear like you're spooning her from behind as she drives. it's an argument that you've already lost at least three times though, and you just don't have it in you today to bring it up a fourth time.
The Lost Forest. Despite the immense advances in technology and knowledge that have occurred since this place was first discovered, no one has ever been able to successfully create a map for it. The topography of the place always seems to be in a state of constant flux, and at times it feels like the forest itself goes out of its way to make sure that no method of tracking will ever be effective on it. Ironically, it's actually very difficult to get lost in there, as anyone who begins to wander in it for too long will find themselves walking out the same way they came in. Most experts will agree on the fact that some ancient enchantment is the cause, but aside from that the place still has some of the greatest minds in the world baffled.
As such, the place has naturally become something of a tourist attraction, leading to some clever entrepreneurs to set up a couple of ?tour? facilities and gift shops around the forest. Aya pulls into the parking lot of one of these self-proclaimed mystery spots, and you notice that even for an attraction like this there seems to be more people than you would have expected.
"Drat. Guess I'm not the only one who thought of going ninja hunting today," Aya says with a sour look on her face. Indeed, the general vibe you seem to be getting here is one of finding some evidence of this mysterious figure. The shop nearby even seems to be selling disposable cameras next to a sign that says ?Will you be the one to capture the ninja? on film?"
"This is getting silly, Aya," you say with a huff. "This whole thing smells like a ploy to trap more tourists, not a conspiracy to hide a secret ninja faction."
Aya taps her lips with her finger before shaking her head no and gesturing for you to follow her. "Maybe so, but since we're already here we should probably take a look around anyways. My reporter's intuition is telling me that we'll find something here, and it's never led me wrong yet."
You give a small shudder as you follow her. It may have never led her wrong, but at the same time you know for a fact that it most certainly means inconvenience for your near future. As you try to shake the impending sense of doom, you see something that perks your interest.
Near the entrance path to the forest, you see a woman who stands out among the crowd. Her long, light-blue hair is tied in a ponytail behind her, and she is dressed in a simple red dress with a white blouse. However, there are a couple of things that stand out to you. Her posture seems to suggest that she is a person who holds herself in high regard, and her piercing glare suggests that she is the kind of person who doesn't usually look too highly upon others. Additionally she is carrying a sheathed sword at her side, and appears to be escorted by a group of? rabbit? people. Well that aside, you get the impression that she isn't really someone to be messed with, which is unfortunate as it seems like she is seemingly interrogating everyone who is attempting to pass through the entrance to the forest.
"Hold up," you say as you tug on Aya's sleeve. She pauses and turns to you with a grin on her face, but it melts off once she sees the serious look on your face. "What's up?" She asks.
"See that woman by the entrance? The one who is standing with those odd rabbit people?" You actively avoid gesturing at her, as you are sure that it would get the woman's attention. You aren't sure if she's someone you want to officially encounter just yet.
Aya glances over at the woman and lets out a small gasp. "Oh man, that's Yorihime!"
You give a small nod in agreement before turning to ask Aya the next vital question that you have. "Who?"
"Geez Conner, you can't be that out of it! That's Watatsuki no Yorihime, one of the princesses from the lunar capital! She's basically a celebrity, how can you not know who she is?"
"Wait, she's that Yorihime?" Your mind tries its best to recall everything you can about the lunarians. You really don't know too much, as they tend to keep to themselves. The last you had heard of them was when they had set up their embassy around 5 years ago, which had in turn caused a huge stir among the city's populace. The people of the moon tended to keep out of the affairs of the earth, and everyone was trying to figure out what would cause them to set up an embassy here, of all places. The city was big, but it wasn't a major political center point of the world, so to most people it made little sense for them to set up such a place here. The lunarians didn't really try to explain any further than ?we just want to put this embassy here?, and in the end the city saw no reason to deny them their request. Ever since then, you really haven't heard anything about them aside from the occasional rumor.
"It seems kind of odd that a celebrity would be in a place like this," you muse as you begin to lose yourself in thought. You quickly snap out of it as you see Aya bouncing up and down on her toes in excitement.
"Oh man, one of the princesses of the moon is here! This is a chance like no other, Conner! If I can score an exclusive interview my paper will be set." She moves to intercept the princess, but you don't let go of her sleeve. "Conner, c'mon! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me!"
On one hand, that might very well be true. More to the point, if Aya gets an exclusive with the princess, she'll probably forget all about this ninja business. On the other hand? something is bugging you about the fact that the princess is here in the first place. Someone of her caliber wouldn't normally be here unless there was something important going on. You have no real reason for all of this suspicion, but at the same time something about her suggests that you shouldn't let your guard down.
[ ] Let Aya approach, and go with her. Even if the circumstances are odd, Aya is correct in the fact that it isn't every day that you get to meet a princess. [ ] Let Aya approach, but don't go with her. You've got no reason to draw attention to yourself. -[ ] Although, you might be able to listen in on what they are talking about if you are sneaky enough? -[ ] You've got no interest in any of this, just stick around until Aya is ready to go. [ ] Let Aya approach, but sneak off while she confronts the princess. Something about this whole situation seems fishy to you, and you aren't sure if letting the princess meet you is the wisest course of action here. [ ] Don't let Aya approach. Something is off here, and you don't want to be at the center of things when something goes down.
Note that almost all of these options have an attribute attached to them, but I'm keeping said attributes hidden in order not to bias your judgment towards stat grinding. Just pick the one that feels right to you.
[X] Let Aya approach, and go with her. Even if the circumstances are odd, Aya is correct in the fact that it isn't every day that you get to meet a princess. -[X] Try to appear unimportant, just in case.
[X] Let Aya approach, but don't go with her. You've got no reason to draw attention to yourself. -[X] While she's talking quickly go buy a disposable camera and sneak into the forest through another way.
Aya may decide that we need to meet these people, and my gut is saying that's the last thing we want. This way we can find Aya her ninja and avoid meeting them.
[X] Let Aya approach, and go with her. Even if the circumstances are odd, Aya is correct in the fact that it isn't every day that you get to meet a princess.
Despite your misgivings, you can't help but let Aya's enthusiasm infect you a little bit. A Lunarian princess is still a Lunarian princess, even if she seems a bit out of place. And despite wracking your brain, you can't find any reason that she would be looking for trouble from the general populace, especially in a place like this.
The moment you let go of Aya's sleeve she races off to intercept Yorihime near the forest's entrance, waiting nearby as Yorihime continues to grill the last unlucky fellow she managed to pull over. You follow behind at a slower pace, keeping an eye on the rabbit crew that you just noticed is armed like a standard military squad. Each girl has what looks to be an assault rifle slung over her soldier, and while none of the rabbit girls are actually holding them at the ready they seem to be on alert, ready to engage any threat that might show up. You wonder what's got them on edge.
"Excuse me, Ms. Yorihime?" Aya jumps in the moment Yorihime ends her previous conversation. "Aya Shameimaru, Bunbunmaru Newspaper. Mind if I ask you a few questions on your activities here?"
Yorihime's eyes narrow as she shifts her focus on Aya. "I will only answer your questions after you answer mine, understand?" The tone of her voice indicates that she was in no mood for idle chit-chat. Aya seems to hesitate for a second, but then gives a short nod, prompting Yorihime to begin. "What is your intention in coming to this area today?"
"Um, well, there have been rumors of a mysterious figure in the area, and I was hoping that-"
"You are searching for this figure, then?" Yorihime says as she cuts Aya off. Aya blinks in surprise at the interruption, but then gives a small nod. "Have you ever come in contact with this person in the past?" Yorihime continues. Aya looks somewhat confused as she shakes her head no, after which Yorihime's attention shifts onto you. "And who is this person accompanying you?"
"Just the hired muscle, ma?am," you say, trying to look as unobtrusive as possible. A second later you flinch internally, regretting your choice of words.
"Hired muscle?" Yorihime asks, "Why would a small time reporter need a bodyguard like you?"
"Poor choice of words, ma?am," you say as you frantically wave your hands in front of you, "I'm just a concerned friend that was asked to help out." it's not the entire truth, but you hope that it's good enough to convince the princess. Yorihime still seems somewhat suspicious, but she drops the issue in the end.
"Listen well," Yorihime says, "If either of you encounters a suspicious-looking or unusual figure during your search today, you will immediately return here to report the encounter to me, understand?"
"Is there a reward?" you ask on reflex. Yorihime only glares at you for a moment, but then seems to reconsider. "I suppose that something can be arraigned, provided that the information you give us is actually useful."
"Is that why you are here today?" Aya asks as she jumps back into reporter mode, "Just who is this person you are looking for."
"That isn't something you need to know," Yorihime says curtly. "Now if you don't have any other important questions to ask, I would ask you to leave me be." Aya moves forward to ask something else, and in response the princess places her hand on the sword by her side. You can feel tension surge into the air as she does, and it's enough to stop Aya in her tracks. For a few moments Aya just stands there, caught between her desire for an exclusive and the sense of danger that is radiating from the princess until you grab her by the arm.
"Alrighty then," you say as you plaster a grin on your face as best as you can, "We'll make sure to let you know if we see anything, so thanks for your time." As you drag Aya away from Yorihime's little group you can feel the tension in the air dissipate, and taking a quick glance behind you shows that Yorihime has already started interrogating another victim.
"Conner?" Aya says, her face showing a mixture of both annoyance and relief.
"I didn't want to chance it, sorry." You say as you let go of your friend's arm. "I had no idea whether or not she was bluffing, and it was pretty obvious that you weren't going to get much more from her in any case."
Aya contemplates this for a few moments before she gives a small nod in resignation. "I suppose you're right, she didn't really seem like she was going to talk was she." Aya gives a small humph as she leads you into the forest. "Still, a part of me doesn't forgive you for making me give up on a scoop like that, so you'd better hope that we find this ninja or else you're not getting paid!"
"What!?" You exclaim as you chase after Aya, "Hey come on now, that just isn't fair!"
Ten minutes later and the two of you are good and lost in the forest, with nary a ninja in sight. You know that you really shouldn't be worried about the fact that you've lost your way, but a part of you just doesn't like not knowing your surroundings. You have no idea what might jump out at you, and it's putting you on edge.
"Find anything, Conner?" Aya drops down from the tree that she had climbed up, landing and recovering with little difficulty.
"Nothing that I can see from down here, no," You say as you continue to scan your surroundings. "I'm truly starting to believe that this whole ninja thing might have been a hoax."
"it's too early to give up yet," Aya says matter-of-factly. "We've barely begun our search, so we can't let ourselves get discouraged this early in the game! For all we know, the person that we are looking might be right around the bend!"
"There you are."
Almost as if on cue, a voice rings out from a few feet away. Turning, you see what appears to be a teenager approaching you. Her hair is an extremely pale violet (almost to the point of being white) which falls to her ankles. She is dressed in a simple white shirt that looks somewhat dirty and a pair of red overalls with matching red shoes. She seems to be carrying some sort of bundle, but you can't tell what might be inside of it.
"Um, do I know you?" Aya asks with a confused look on her face, "I don't think we've ever met before."
"Nah," the girl says, a half-neutral, half bored look on her face. "I just have something to hand over to him, that's all."
"To me?" You ask. You can't for the life of you remember ever seeing this girl before, so the question then becomes what is she going to try to give you, and who put her up to it. Before you can act on either of those points, the girl tosses the bundle under her arms towards you, and without even thinking you catch it on reflex.
"There, my part's done. Good luck, I guess." With that, the girl starts walking off into the trees, and neither Aya nor you know how to react.
[ ] "She must be the ninja! After her, Aya!" -[ ] Chase after her, That reward won't earn itself! -[ ] Let Aya have her fun; in the meantime, you can check out what's in the bundle. [ ] "Someone's looking for you, you know." - [PRSD] Let's see if we can't get her to answer a few questions on her own accord by giving her a warning in return. - [ ] It doesn't look like this girl knows that much, so let's just give her the warning and be on our way. [ ] Let the girl leave, and? -[ ] Focus on the bundle for now; if someone wanted to get this to you via someone you don't know, it must either be something really dangerous, important, or both. -[ ] Head back towards the entrance to tell Yorihime about what just happened here. (And, you know, check out the bundle along the way.)
My new job starts Monday, so there's probably going to be another long lull until I'll post something new. Nothing you aren't used to, I know, but I figured I would just give you a heads up.
[X] "Someone's looking for you, you know.." - [PRSD] Let's see if we can't get her to answer a few questions on her own accord by giving her a warning in return. [X] Check what's in the bundle after the questions.
[X] "Someone's looking for you, you know." - [PRSD] Let's see if we can't get her to answer a few questions on her own accord by giving her a warning in return. [X] Check what's in the bundle after the questions.
[X] "Someone's looking for you, you know.." - [PRSD] Let's see if we can't get her to answer a few questions on her own accord by giving her a warning in return. [X] Check what's in the bundle after the questions.
[X] "Someone's looking for you, you know." - [PRSD] Let's see if we can't get her to answer a few questions on her own accord by giving her a warning in return. [X] Check what's in the bundle after the questions.
Updates will probably be non-existent until the end of the month, and probably somewhat sporadic after that until I get past my probationary period at my job. I've started writing the next part, but I keep having to put it aside as other things come up. I'll keep you posted.
Sorry for the delay, everyone. I'm still getting used to the new job, so updates will probably be fairly sporadic for a little while longer until things settle in.
Anywho, thanks again to BackupWeasel for the proofread, and off we go again!
[X] "Someone's looking for you, you know.." - [PRSD:FAIL] Let's see if we can't get her to answer a few questions on her own accord by giving her a warning in return. [X] Check what's in the bundle after the questions.
The girl pauses in her stride, taking a second to glance back at you in boredom. "Yeah, I noticed," she says, sarcasm dripping from her voice. "I seems like the whole forest is alive with idiots trying to find ?the mysterious ninja? or whatever. it's annoying, but-"
"Specifically," you interrupt, "There is a woman by the name of Yorihime who seems to be searching for people of a suspicious nature near one of the forest's entrances."
The girl pauses again, this time choosing to turn around completely to let you catch up to her. "Damn it, already? I didn't think that a few rumors would be enough to get them to come out of their hole." You can see a clear look of annoyance on her face as she processes this new information. Her eyes narrow in suspicion as she turns towards you. "Why are you telling me this, anyways?"
"Let's just say that the ?Princess? is not very good at first impressions," you reply. "As it stands, I tend to look poorly upon those who use the threat of violence against my friends."
"Sounds about right," the girl says with a nod, the suspicion in her eyes clearing up. She turns and begins walking away once more. "Thanks for the heads up, then."
"Wait, hang on," you say as you try to intercept her. "Mind telling me who sent you? I'm not really privy to accepting gifts from complete strangers."
"Nah," she says, doing her best to wave you off. "This and that are two different things. I was told to not do anything more than drop that off to you, so I won't."
"Come on, you can't expect me to accept something if I don't know who it's from, do you," you ask as you grab her shoulder, "For all I know this bundle contains something dangerous and-"
"Not my problem," the girl says as her gaze becomes more annoyed, "My only job was to make sure that thing got into your hands, what you actually do with it doesn't concern me. Now are you going to let go, or am I going to have to make you."
For a moment you consider forcing her hand, but the area around her shoulder is growing hotter at a rapid pace, and something tells you that the intensity is going to only grow in proportion with the girl's glare. You quickly let go, upon which the girl seems to lose most of her interest in you once again and begins walking into the forest once again.
"Hey?" You jump slightly at the sound of Aya's voice, having forgotten that she was more or less standing nearby the whole time. "Hey, wait a second, you can't just leave! I've got some questions that I need to ask you!" As the girl slips behind a tree, Aya dashes after her in pursuit, forcing you aside in order to better pursue her journalistic prey. Upon reaching the tree that the girl slipped behind, however, a wave of confusion falls over your friend. "She's not here!" Aya says as she searches nearby for any hiding spots or secret paths that she might have overlooked, determined to figure out where her ?ninja? has vanished to.
With Aya distracted, you decide that now would probably be an optimal time to search the bundle that was thrown at you. While you are still somewhat suspicious of both the contents of the bundle and the identity of its provider, your curiosity on what's inside is proving to be somewhat overwhelming. The outer layer of the bundle consists of a large piece of cloth, which you begin to pull apart in an attempt to see what's inside. Soon enough, something large and metallic gleams in the light and you remove the cloth entirely in order to get a better look.
Turning the object around, you examine what appears to be some sort of gauntlet. For the most part, it looks like something pulled straight out of the middle ages, consisting of layered metal on the outside with a padded interior. The material seems to give off some sort of silvery sheen, although you don't know what it might actually be made of. The only decoration of note on it seems to be a symbol on the back of the hand, which looks to be a sigil of the sun if you are making it out correctly.
"Is that from the bundle that she threw at you, Conner?" Aya asks as she walks towards you. The frown on her face tells you that she had no luck finding the gauntlet's donor, but her mood seems to pick up as she starts looking over the gauntlet. "Any idea why someone might want to give this to you?"
"No idea," you say with a shake of your head, "I've met a couple of crazy folks in my life, but this is the first time someone just up and gave me a gift like this." You turn the piece of armor over in your hands a few times noting that it looks like it might be about right size to fit over your right hand. Without thinking, you maneuver the gauntlet and slip in on to see how it fits. As you do, Aya's frown deepens ever so slightly. "Hey Conner, I don't think-"
A bright flash of light interrupts whatever Aya was going to say, and the two of you are momentarily blinded. For a moment your hand feels like it's being constricted by a huge amount of pressure, but a second later the sensation vanishes. As your eyes attempt to adjust themselves back to normal, the first thing that you notice is that the gauntlet is gone.
"Damn it," you say as you look around your immediate area to see if you just dropped it. After determining that you can't find it on the ground anywhere, you check your hand for any damage. To your chagrin, you see that the sigil that was on the gauntlet is not emblazoned on the back of your hand. The hand itself feels fine, and after a few tests you can't find anything wrong with it, but the fact that you were stupid enough to put it on without testing it first is really striking home at this point.
"Are you alright, Conner?" Aya asks as she rubs her eyes. As she sees the sigil on your hand she lets out a small gasp and grabs your hand to inspect this. "I was worried about something like this happening," she says as she traces the lines on your hand, "You can't just put on something that a stranger threw at you, Conner! Who knows what this thing might do to you?"
"It doesn't feel like it's doing anything at all, really." You say as you clench your hand a few times just to double check, "My hand feels completely normal, aside from the new decoration."
"Even if that is the case, we have no idea what else it might do to you! For all we know, it could be corrupting you every second you wear it, with you none the wiser!"
You let out a small sigh. "Well even if that is the case, I don't think there is anything we can do about it now unless you have any ideas on how to get this thing off." Aya shakes her head no, at which point you head over to the cloth that you dropped and pick it up. "Alright, in that case we should probably leave the forest and find someone who might know about the gauntlet or this sigil. I know at least one person who might be able to help with that, so unless you want to look around some more we should probably make to leave."
Aya hesitates for a moment, but in the end her concern for your hand seems to take precedence, and she follows as you start walking in a random direction, figuring it will take you back just as well as any other direction in this forest. As you do, Aya starts flicking through the pictures on her digital camera, muttering to herself about the best way to compose an article with what she managed to take so far. Surprisingly, you note that she managed to get some shots of both Yorihime and the mysterious girl, although the shots of the latter are both very few in number and out of focus. You find that to be somewhat odd, but as Aya goes back to the shots of Yorihime a concerning thought springs into your mind. The princess will most likely still be guarding the entrance you came from when you get back, and you aren't sure if you want to chance a confrontation with her after everything that has happened. Then again, you now have a strange sigil on the back of your hand, and there is the possibility that the princess might know something about it. You could also try to hide parts of your story, but you'll have to word things carefully to avoid rousing her suspicion...
[DEX] Do your best to sneak past Yorihime and her entourage without getting noticed. [PRSD] Tell Yorihime that you didn't encounter anything in the forest. [PRSD] Tell Yorihime about the gauntlet, but do your best not to mention the strange girl. [PRSD] Tell Yorihime about your encounter with the girl without mentioning the gauntlet. [ ] Tell Yorihime everything that happened in the forest. Who knows; that offer for a reward might still be good.
[X] Request to speak with Yorihime privately, away from the company of her moon thugs. -[SDCT] Tell Yorihime that your innocence was stolen by a mysterious woman in the forest, and now only the embrace of a beautiful moon goddess can soothe your wounded soul. -[x] Tell Yorihime everything that happened in the forest. Who knows; that offer for a reward might still be good.
[X] Request to speak with Yorihime privately, away from the company of her moon thugs. -[SDCT] Tell Yorihime that your innocence was stolen by a mysterious woman in the forest, and now only the embrace of a beautiful moon goddess can soothe your wounded soul. -[x] Tell Yorihime everything that happened in the forest. Who knows; that offer for a reward might still be good.
[PRSD:FAIL] Tell Yorihime that you didn't encounter anything in the forest. -[X] Try to avoid revealing the sigil on your hand.
You mull the options over in your mind. Even if you were to sneak past the princess as you exited the forest, the fact that you would have to head back to Aya's scooter in plain view of the princess? line of sight would mean that you would probably be spotted regardless. Not only that, but were she to catch you sneaking past, Yorihime's suspicion of you would probably triple, and you aren't exactly fond of the idea of either suffering through another interrogation or else fleeing as fast as Aya's scooter can carry you.
Unfortunately, the only other (reasonable) option that leaves is to actively pass by Yorihime as you exit, and considering that she was interrogating everyone who simply entered the forest you are pretty sure that her full attention will fall upon you as you exit. The question becomes exactly how much of your little walk you actually want to reveal to her, and unfortunately you and Aya seem to have differing opinions on the answer.
"What do you mean, "keep quiet about this to the Princess??!" Aya says in a voice that is much louder than you would like, "She might know something about how to get that gauntlet off, or who that person was, or? something to shed light on this situation!"
"Maybe, but I still don't like the idea of letting her into the loop," you counter, "She ended up threatening us with violence before we even entered the forest, and that was before we even encountered anything that she could potentially be interested in. I don't want to know what she will do if she realizes that we actually encountered one of those ?anythings?."
Aya considers this for a moment before shaking her head in disagreement. "So what you're basically telling me is that you're not going to let Yorihime help you just because you don't like her?"
"No, I'm not going to let her help me because I don't trust her."
"Oh, so you'll trust a mysterious girl who not only wouldn't tell you who she was, but who also gave you a mysterious gauntlet that bound itself to you in who knows what way, but you won't trust the publically identified moon princess who seems to be searching for said person?"
"I'm saying that I don't trust either of them!" You snap, causing Aya to jump. You take a deep breath to calm your nerves before you continue your train of thought. "Look, that whole thing with the gauntlet had more to do with my curiosity getting the better of me rather than any sort of trust I had in the girl. If I had been acting with more caution we could have probably just handed the gauntlet over to the Princess and have been done with it, but that isn't exactly an option right now. As it stands, we have no actual idea of what the Princess actually wants, who she might be looking for, or what she would be willing to do in order to get either of those things. The only thing that I have to judge her by is the fact that she threatened to hurt you when she saw you as more of an annoyance than something she could use, and while I don't know if she would have actually followed up on that threat it doesn't exactly place her as a shining beacon of justice in my mind."
"But she's our best current lead on how to get that thing off of you, and this might be our only chance to ask her!" Aya pleads, "Who knows if she'll come down from the embassy again, and even if she does what are the chances of you meeting up with her again?"
"I've got at least one contact who might be able to help with this regardless, and if it ends up that the Princess really is the only option I have? well I'll think of something if that happens, but for now I just don't want to bring this to her attention. Please Aya, can you just trust me on this one?"
You can see the conflict in Aya's head going back and forth as her face rapidly changes from one emotion to the next. She goes on like this for nearly a minute, but in the end she groans and hangs her head. "Alright Conner, we can do this your way. it's your hand in peril after all, and it's not like I'm just worried about what it might be doing to you or anything..."
"Good to hear," you say before Aya can continue her guilt tirade. "When we encounter the Princess let me do the talking, alright? You aren't exactly the best liar in the world."
Aya just stares as you walk past, and it takes her a few moments to realize that you about to leave her behind. With a small squawk she rushes to catch up to you. "FINE, we'll do things your way," she says with a glare as she pick up your stride, "but if things do end up going south with the princess I'm stepping in and telling her the truth, alright?"
You stay silent, which Aya takes as a sign of agreement. As you watch her smirk in self-congratulation of a successful compromise you decide that it wouldn't be worth pointing out that if things do go south, telling the Princess the truth would probably become the least of your concerns.
In short order, you and Aya find yourselves walking out of the forest from the same spot that you entered. As you suspected, the Princess is interrogating everyone who comes out of the forest, grilling them on anything they might have found. Considering that her demeanor seems to be much rougher than when you first walked in, you're guessing that she hasn't had much luck in finding her mystery person.
"You there, halt." The moment she lays eyes on you and Aya she marches over, placing herself between you and the parking lot where Aya's scooter is sitting. "Report, did you encounter anything unusual in the forest?"
You do your best not to let yourself get overwhelmed by the waves of aggression that seem to be boiling off of the Princess. It feels like she's looking for any excuse to take action, even if said excuse is simply someone not being cooperative. You do your best to look as if she is making you cower under her pressure, slumping your shoulders forward to make yourself look smaller and doing your best to avoid direct eye contact. As a side though, you place both of your hands into your pockets, not only emphasizing your meekness, but also hiding the sigil from Yorihime's sight.
"Sorry, ma?am, but we didn't encounter anything when we were in there." You say as you do your best to keep your face scrunched up in fear, "We ended up walking around in circles, and in the end we decided that we weren't actually going to find anything, so we made our way back here."
Yorihime glares at you for a few moments, rolling your words around in her head. Please buy it, please buy it?
In a sudden movement, Yorihime grabs you by the shirt and draws her sword, placing it against your neck. "I will only ask you one more time," she growls, "What did you encounter while you were in the forest?"
Ok, you don't have to pretend to be somewhat terrified anymore. If you are going to take any sort of action you'd better do it now, otherwise Aya is probably going to interpret this turn of events as ?things going south?.
[STR] Break her hold on you and make a run for it! [PRSD] If she's resorting to violence then she's probably bluffing! Stick with your story and she'll (probably) back off! [CHRM] You need something to derail her current train of thought! Unfortunately, a direct approach is likely to backfire horrifically, but there is someone who might be able to assist with this nearby? [ ] Time to come clean? -[ ] Tell Yorihime about the girl -[ ] Tell Yorihime about the gauntlet -[ ] Tell Yorihime everything [ ] Let Aya take over, her honesty will probably win the day here.
[CHRM] You need something to derail her current train of thought! Unfortunately, a direct approach is likely to backfire horrifically, but there is someone who might be able to assist with this nearby?
A part of me to add something like "Shotgun Swordpoint marriage already, Princess? P-please be gentle...". My serious side won over.
[CHRM] You need something to derail her current train of thought! Unfortunately, a direct approach is likely to backfire horrifically, but there is someone who might be able to assist with this nearby?
[CHRM] You need something to derail her current train of thought! Unfortunately, a direct approach is likely to backfire horrifically, but there is someone who might be able to assist with this nearby?
[CHRM:SUCCESS] You need something to derail her current train of thought! Unfortunately, a direct approach is likely to backfire horrifically, but there is someone who might be able to assist with this nearby?
Your mind immediately jumps to the way you managed to distract Luna the Fairy a few days ago, but you reject the idea just as quickly. Your neck is still pressed against her sword, so bringing the Princess in close for a kiss isn't exactly a feasible option. (Not to mention the fact that in her current mood, she would probably kill you just for attempting that) And by this point you're not willing to trust your ability to persuade her since it's hard to tell exactly what information she is looking to carve out of you. What you need to do is distract her from the topic at hand, but right now her focus on you is too strong to even think about attempting to ?Fumble? her mind a bit. Unfortunately, this doesn't really leave you with any good options to fall back on other than fighting your way out, and you can't shake the feeling that the Princess outclasses you in all aspects on that front.
"No, wait, please stop!"
As Aya approaches you in an attempt to diffuse the situation, however, a new idea suddenly pops into your head. it's not something you would normally go with since it relies on both the force of your personality and your ability to keep Aya from messing everything up, both of which are things that you don't usually have much confidence in, but it's the best plan that you can think of in the span of a few seconds, and your gut is telling you that it's probably the best option you have right now.
"Please, let him go! I can tell you what happened in the forest!"
Of course, there are parts of this plan that don't really appeal to you either. For example, step one involves waiting for Aya to intervene by attempting to tell the Princess the whole truth. Not that you mind the fact that she is trying to stop Yorihime from cutting you in half, but you have no idea whether or not Aya will start her story in the way that you need her to. You're also not sure how she will react to what you are about to do, but you'll worry about that bridge later if you need to.
Fortunately, the Princess? actions end up unwittingly helping you, at least in regards to your first concern. As Aya tells the Princess that she is willing to talk, Yorihime releases her grip on you and hoists the collar of Aya's shirt toward herself. (Her sword, unfortunately, doesn't waver from its position on your neck.) ?From the beginning then," Yorihime demands, "Tell me everything that occurred, starting from the moment you left my sight."
The sheer force of Yorihime's ire causes Aya to freeze up for a second, but soon enough she starts to regale the Princess on what happened. "W-well, Conner and I entered the forest, and I was taking a few pictures while trying to get something to show up, but nothing was showing up, and-"
"Cut to the part that I care about!" Yorihime yells as she pulls away from you to grab Aya with both hands, bringing your scared companion's face right next to her own, "TELL ME WHAT YOU ENCOUNTERED IN THE FOREST!"
Aya can only stutter at this point, her mind being overwhelmed by fear of what the Princess will do to her. "I?" She takes half a second to shoot a glance at you before a shake from Yorihime forces her gaze back. "I?"
"I confessed to her."
The Princess blinks as she slowly lowers Aya to turn back to you. "What," she asks in a near perfect monotone. Whatever answer she was expecting, yours was the furthest possibility from her mind. Aya seems to be caught in complete shock as well, her mouth hanging open as she openly stares at you. And if you were being observant you might have noticed that the bunny soldiers, the tourists, and even one of the merchants who decided to get closer to eavesdrop all have similar expressions as they all stare in your direction.
Not that you notice any of that, as you are putting all of your focus into your act. Your eyes are narrowed as you keep your head lowered, away from Yorihime's gaze. Your arms are bunched up at your sides with your hands balled up in (what you hope looks like) fury. You do your best to channel all of your annoyance at this so called ?Princess? into anger, something that surprisingly comes fairly easy to you. At the sound of the Princess? "What?, you lift your head up and glare straight at her. She doesn't flinch, but at the same time you notice a twinge of hesitation, the first that you have been able to get from her all day.
"I confessed to her. I've known Aya for quite a long time now, but I could never find a good time to confess my feelings. Always too many people around, y?know?" You slowly step towards Yorihime as you talk, allowing yourself to fall into the illusion that you have created in your mind. Yorihime still hasn't given any ground, but you can tell that her attitude has shifted from ?finish the mission? to ?stop causing a scene?. It looks like she can't take it as well as she can dish it out.
"So today, Aya hears a rumor about some sort of ninja running around these woods and asks me to come along. I could normally care less about something like that, but then I realized that it would give me a perfect opportunity to be alone with her, so I agreed to tag along. Things went pretty smoothly up until the point where we first met you. You remember, don't you, the point where you suspected us of doing who knows what even though we didn't actually DO ANYTHING WRONG?!??
You lunge toward Yorihime as you say those last three words, and this time she actually does flinch back. Technically, she didn't actually accuse you of doing anything during that time, but you're not about to give her a chance to remember that. "But anyways, Aya and I started our little walk in the woods after our little encounter, and a few minutes in I decided that there was no reason to wait until the last second to let Aya know how I feel. So right then and there I confessed my feelings to her, and do you know what ended up happening?"
By this point you are right next to Yorihime, almost breathing down her neck as you give her the best glare of righteous fury that you can muster. She is petrified in place by this point, and you can feel the tension in the air as everyone around you seemingly gathers in to hear the words that you will say next.
"I got rejected."
You hear a few moans of sympathy from the crowd, but do your best to tune them out, keeping your focus on Yorihime, whose face seems to be a mixture of humiliation, confusion and shame by this point. it's time to bring this sucker on home.
"So yeah, we decided to cut our little walk a bit shorter than what we had planned on, for reasons that I hope are now obvious. So here I am walking out of the forest, trying to figure out how to handle the awkward ride back home, when little miss princess decides that since I was trying to keep my problems to myself, I obviously must know about this mysterious person that she is looking for, which oh-by-the-way SHE DIDn't ACTUALLY TELL ME ANYTHING ABOUT! And how does she decide to ask me? Not with a polite inquiry, of course, but by sticking a freaking sword against my neck!" You storm past Yorihime, intentionally bumping into her as you pass her by. Yorihime only stands there and watches as you go on by. "So excuuuuuuuse me, Princess if I don't exactly feel up to sticking around so that you can wave that piece of metal in front of me any longer!"
You storm off, marching with footsteps exaggerated by anger as you head towards Aya's scooter in the parking lot. A few moments later, you can hear an ?I'm Sorry!" coming from behind you, quickly followed up by running footsteps. Soon enough, Aya has caught up to you, and is reaching out to touch your arm.
You lash out at Aya's touch, partially to make it look like you're still furious at her, but also partially due to the fact that you're still running on a large amount of adrenalin. To put the finishing touches on your little farce, when you reach Aya's scooter you march past it, making it look like you refuse to even ride alongside her. Soon enough, you can hear the scooter's engine revving up behind you, and a few moments later Aya is drifting her scooter next to you at your walking pace.
"Keep an eye on the Princess," you say to her, figuring that you're far enough out of earshot by this point. "I'll hop on when we break line of sight with her."
Aya keeps glancing back at the Princess as you asked her to do, a mixture of humiliation and guilt covering her face. You make sure to stay facing forward, egging on the last dredges of your adrenaline to keep you going until you leave the Princess behind. After you round a bend on the road, Aya gives you a small nod and you climb on board, dreading what's coming next. You may have escaped from the Princess? gaze, but that doesn't mean that you have avoided the retribution for your deeds.
Aya drives out a few miles out from the forest and back into the city, quickly finding an out-of-the-way place where she can park. Once her scooter is secured from falling over, she wastes no time in letting you have it with a well-timed punch to your gut.
?THAT was your plan?!" To not only make me look like the villain, but to also insult foreign royalty to her face?! What on earth were you thinking?! How could you think something like that could even be appropriate in the slightest?!" Do you know how Yorihime looked after you marched off? She looked like she was ready to commit murder over what you did! it's amazing that she had the decency to restrain herself and focus on the next group to come out of the forest instead, because I know I would have murdered you on the spot! And why didn't you let me know you were going to do all that in the first place? At least I could have been somewhat more prepared when you let loose on her like that!"
"To be fair," you croak as you do your best to recover from Aya's punch, "My original plan to look as unobtrusive as possible sorta fell apart when she drew her sword on me, so I kind of had to improvise on the spot. Besides, none of those other people knew who we were, so it's not like this is going to affect your reputation in the end."
"You don't know that!" Aya nearly screeches as she lunges at you again for another strike, which you do your best to dodge, "Almost everyone there had a camera, and it's not like you were paying attention to what everyone was saying during your little stunt! Hell, those bunny soldiers alone were gossiping like crazy as you marched off, and you should have heard some of the things the creepier looking guys were saying on how horrible I was for rejecting you! Of all the stories you could have made up, why in the world did you choose that one?!?"
"I needed something both credible and shocking enough to distract the princess with, and I only had a few seconds to think of something! For what it's worth, I think my story did the job pretty well!"
By this point, Aya has stopped trying to hurt you, instead choosing to cover her face with her hands as she leans against her scooter. Rubbing her hands down her cheeks, you can see that she's worked most of the anger out of her system, though a good amount of exasperation still remains. "Damn it Conner," she says with a sigh as she turns to you, "You'd better hope that nothing identifying me in this incident ends up on the net after all this, or I'll be the one coming after your neck next!"
You give a small chuckle as you walk around to the other side of the scooter, leaning against it so that your back is touching Aya?s. As you do, a somewhat horrifying thought occurs to you. "So, uh, I don't suppose that you'll still be paying me for all this, will you?"
"Well let's see," Aya replies in a sarcastic tone as she starts counting on her fingers, "You let a mysterious scoop get away, put on the probably-cursed glove that said scoop threw at you, embarrassed me in front of a huge crowd of camera-wielding gossipers, and oh yeah insulted a Lunarian Princess to her face. I don't know, Conner; do you think that sounds like the kind of work that deserves payment?"
"Alright, alright, I was just asking." You say, cursing your past self for his lack of foresight. If only you had known that the actions you would take would lead to no payout in the end! Letting out a sigh, you lean back slightly, enjoying the feel of Aya's back against yours as you look up towards the sky. Despite the loss of your paycheck, you find it kind of funny that for once Aya seems to have come out worse for the wear from one of her little adventures than you have.
The two of you spend a few more moments in this comfortable position, cooling off from the events that just occurred. But soon enough, Aya shifts away, turning herself around to face you. "Alright, so putting that all behind us, what are we going to do about your hand?"
"Yeah, we should probably see if we can't do something about this, shouldn't we?" You reply as you hold out your inscribed appendage against the sun. You still have a couple of hours until sunset, which gives you a bit of time to look into the gauntlet before heading out for the babysitting job. "You up to driving me around town for a little bit longer?" you ask.
"I've got something that I need to take care of in a little while, but I don't mind letting you catch a ride until then." You can see that her smirk has returned somewhat by this point, though she still has a bit of concern and anger showing here and there as well. "For your sake, I hope this lead of yours is a good one Conner."
"So do I, Aya?" you say as you look back to your hand. In all honesty, you aren't really that worried about the gauntlet at this point. It didn't kill you outright when you put it on, and you really don't feel any different from how you normally do. The inscription on your hand doesn't even itch. Still, Aya has a valid concern, and you have to admit it would be nice to know if this gauntlet is going to blow your arm off if you make a rude gesture or something.
There are two people you can think of offhand who might be able to help you with this. Suke is the first person that comes to mind, although you aren't sure if he will be able to properly analyze the glove in its current state. You also have another source that could get you the info you need, though admittedly he's somewhat shady in his dealings, and he hangs out in an area of town that could only be called a wretched hive of scum and villainy. The info he gives you is reliable, however, and you haven't done anything recently to put you on his black list. Of course, you're somewhat hesitant to take Aya with you into that part of town. The girl can take care of herself, but at the same time she has a tendency to get in over her head when you aren't watching, and you've already had more than enough excitement for one day. Convincing her to actually stay behind might be an issue, though.
Of course, you might have better luck just doing a little bit of research on your own. The local library probably has some books that could give you some insight on the glove's sigil, and you can probably find a hint or two on the net if you know where to look. it's been a while since you've done any real research like that though, so you might be a bit rusty at finding what you need in such a short amount of time. The thought of research also brings the Nitori Corporation to the forefront of your mind, but you figure that asking for their help right now would probably end with you being bullied into accepting their job offer, and you just aren't willing to go that far at this point.
You can also ask Aya to take your back to your place to catch up on your sleep before your night job begins. Even if you are curious, it's not like the gauntlet is going anywhere at this point. (You think) But you doubt that you'll be able to get to more than one of these choices before sunset arrives, so you'd better make your choice count.
[ ] "Let's go and see Suke, he'll be able to help us identify this thing." [ ] "I do know a guy that could help us with this, but?" -[PRSD] ??you probably should just drop me off and keep moving." -[ ] ??but nothing, let's get going." [INT] "Let's head to the library, we'll probably have better luck finding some clues in the stacks." [ ] "I've actually got something I need to get ready for tonight as well; mind taking me back to my place for now and leaving the mystery of the gauntlet for another time?" <Slight temporary bonus for all attributes - will last until sunrise>
Man, this was one of those posts that I was at first dreading to write, but then when inspiration struck I just couldn't stop. Of course, in order to make this work I had to expand the CHRM attribute a bit, changing it from "fun sexy-times generator" to "overwhelming others with the sheer force of your emotions and personality alone", but I don't really see that as a bad thing whatsoever. It makes things more interesting, and it certainly fleshes out the option to something that I can actually work with. And it's not like the sexy-fun-times part has actually been removed, it's just that you can do a whole lot more with CHRM as well now. See? Everybody wins!
Haha poor Aya. I wonder if she'd really reject us.
[x] "I've actually got something I need to get ready for tonight as well; mind taking me back to my place for now and leaving the mystery of the gauntlet for another time?" <Slight temporary bonus for all attributes - will last until sunrise>
If we're going to deal with who I think we're going to deal with, we're going to need the stat boosts.
This isn't a check to see if going to the library to find more information is a good idea, it's a check to see if your researching skills are good enough to track down any hint of what either the gauntlet or the sigil on your hand might be within the span of a few hours. And before you ask I do realize that most people would ask a librarian to see if they could find a lead first, but this isn't a choose-the-librarian's-adventure, now is it?
...you know what? Fine. I'll go ahead, turn the other cheek and stop using the stats system from here on out. I just don't have it in me to argue about something that's not really worth it in the end, and since you guys seem to hate it I'm not going to shove it down your throats.
Aaaaand you went ahead and took it persoanlly, even though I asked you not to. Listen broski, I like stat roll stories. I'm just having a hard time understanding yours. WHY do the stat rolls fail sometimes? Because from our point of view, it looks like you simply choose when you want them to fail.
In contrast: in the fairy maid quest that had stat rolls, the author used a random number generator to decide if we succeed/fail, which I found very fair and entertaining.
I'm not sure where i'm going with this, but the bottom line is; at least keep us in the loop with what goes into a roll success/failure, so we can better strategize the next time that particular stat comes up.
Also, both >>49541 and >>49535 are me, so don't go switchin up everything because of my opinion.
Eh, I end up taking most criticism personally on some level these days. It's mostly from working at jobs where my jobs usually ends up being to tell people how to make their computers run correctly, and then they immediately assume that my advice is incorrect and end up blowing their systems up when they don't do what I said. I probably shouldn't take it too personally, and I DEFINITELY shouldn't let it affect my life outside my job, but the trickle down is there regardless.
In any case, don't think that just because 5% of my last post was me taking your criticism personally means that I didn't actually agree with you in the other 95%. I more or less decided to get rid of the system in any case. As >>49543 put it, it was more or less a gimmick by this point, and it really didn't look like it was going to accomplish anything significant. It was time to put it out to the curb, one way or the other.
...as one final side note, I was probably a bit more snippy than usual when I posted that response. This might have to do something with the fact that I had spent the entire day up until that point planting trees while it was raining, which didn't exactly help the head cold I was carrying at the time. So yeah, not exactly the finest day for me to accept criticism there.
Aaaaand I'm back! Sorry for the delay folks, real life has a tendency of getting in the way of things. Regardless, it's time to start this thing back up again.
As a conclusion to the posts above yes, I am getting rid of attributes in the story. You guys made your point, and it will give me more freedom to write in any case. I'll still be keeping track of your on-hand inventory and your ever growing special ability though, so make sure to go back and refresh yourself on those if you need to.
Alright, let's go ahead and jump back in, shall we?
[X] "Let's head to the library, we'll probably have better luck finding some clues in the stacks."
You close the book's cover with a sigh as you let yourself stretch out from the table you are currently seated at. A few moments later you hear a similar noise come from next to you as Aya closes her book as well.
"No luck?" you ask, to which Aya shakes her head, her eyes moving to stare at the lines that cover the back of your hand. Considering that you've only been at this for a couple of hours you suppose that you shouldn't be too bummed out at your lack of success. At the same time, the fact that you have a gauntlet that does who-knows-what essentially grafted to your hand seems to be finally sinking in. Not that it has actually done anything other than give you what is essentially a nice looking tattoo, but you can't help but imagine what might happen if it turns out to be a walking time bomb.
"You two haven't found anything, huh?" Turning around, you see the local librarian quietly walking towards your table as she pushes a book cart, her red hair clashing horribly with the checkered jacket she is wearing. You got a few odd looks from her when you first walked in and asked her what the sigil on your own hand might be, but soon enough she was willing to help you uncover the symbol's meaning. Unfortunately, she didn't recognize the symbol on sight, and while she thought the information might be in the library somewhere, she wasn't able to do much more than direct you to a couple of books on symbology. An internet search on one of the public terminals also yielded no results; no matter what you tried you couldn't find a combination of keywords that actually brought you anything relevant. You get the feeling that if you had the sigil's name you would probably get more precise results, but for right now it seems you're more or less stuck.
"Afraid not," you reply with a small smile, "but thank you for your help in any case."
"No problem. Let me know if you need anything, alright?.? With a cute smile the girl turns away from you, walking towards the stacks with her cart in tow. You know, she doesn't look too bad from behind either. Maybe if you stuck around here for a little while longer, you could-
WHACK. The sudden blow to your head knocks you out of your daze, and you almost fall out of your chair from the surprise. "That's not why you're here, Conner." Aya says with a roll of her eyes. "At least try to keep the right head in the game here."
"There's no crime in just looking, Aya." You say as you rub the spot where she smacked you. "And it's not like we're getting anything more interesting from these books, either."
"That's true?" Aya says as she crosses her arms in thought. "It doesn't seem like we'll be able to find anything about your hand without a better lead. Maybe we should have checked out your sources first?"
"it's a bit late for that now," you say as you bring up your hand to stare at it once more, "By this time Suke has probably closed up shop, and as for the other guy? well let's just say that I don't like the idea of searching for him after dark."
"Wait, after dark?" Aya says in surprise as she glances at a nearby clock. "Ah geez, I didn't realize that it was getting this late. I've gotta get going in a little while, Conner." She's obviously still worried about your hand, but you know for a fact that Aya isn't the kind of person to be late for anything if she can help it.
"Same here, actually," you say as you start gathering up the books that you took out. "Let's put these books back first, and then if I could ask you for one more ride to the outskirts?"
"Taking advantage of my wheels today, are you?" Aya says with a small smile. "You know, you really should get a set of your own one of these days, you know."
"Getting around the city's not that hard, you know." You say, trying to place a subtle bit of hurt in your voice. "I can always take the bus if you're not up to it."
"Hey, c'mon now," she says with a small giggle, "You know that a simple ride is fine, just don't complain when I come looking for you next time, alright?"
You can't help but falter a bit when she says that, but even so her favor isn't enough to get you to back away from a free ride. "Alright, alright, I'll do my best not to complain the next time you try to drag me along on one of your silly scoop searches."
"That's the best I'm going to get, huh?" By this point the two of you have re-shelved what you took out and have begun heading to the exit. The cute librarian gives you a smile and a wave as the two of you walk out, causing Aya to roll her eyes once more. "Fine, where do you need to go?"
"Well if I remember correctly, I need to head to? hang on a sec." You reach into your pack and pull out the flyer that you got from the shrine. "Here we go. To start, you'll want to head towards the Lake of Mist."
Right at the peak of sunset, the two pull off of the road circumventing the lake in order to come up to a large set of gates. They stand at least five times your height, curving up and around the road with large spikes sitting near the top. Behind the gates you can see what appears to be a garden of sorts, although you use that term fairly loosely. Dead plants litter the grounds, and those that are still alive are wild and unmaintained. The only area that seems to have been cleared out is a path heading towards the building sitting in the distance. You can't really make out too much detail on the building from here, but there are two things that do catch your attention. One, the mansion is huge, taking up the entirety of the hill upon which it sits. And two, the entire mansion looks to be colored a deep, dark shade of scarlet, which you are hoping is only an illusion caused by the light coming from the sunset.
"Hello?" You yell out as you double check the address on your flyer. Naturally, the numbers on the gate match the ones on the piece of paper you are carrying. "Is anyone there?" You walk up to the gates, doing your best to peer around them. You can see what looks like a guard's shack, but the place effectively looks abandoned. Walking over to the pedestrian entrance you try to open it, and you can't help but feel somewhat disappointed when the smaller gate opens without any resistance.
"Geez, this place is giving me the creeps, Conner," Aya says as she eyes the mansion warily. Coming from someone like Aya, who jumps into danger without a second thought, the fact that she is showing caution right now really says something. "I don't know about you, but I think that I will be going now, and that you should go on inside.
Aya gives a sagely nod at what she said, before blinking once or twice in surprise. "Wait, that's [i]exactly what I meant to say. I should be going towards my appointment now, you should be heading on inside."
Before you can even thing of saying anything, Aya revs up the engine on her scooter and takes off down the road without even looking back. You can only stand there and blink as you watch her leave, before you turn back around to look at the gates once more.
[ ] Go inside. [ ] Despite her? odd behavior, Aya is right, you should probably head on inside. [ ] You've got a job to look into, and you aren't going to get any further on it by just standing out here. [ ] No, screw this. Something is definitely up here, and you aren't going to have any part in it. There is no way that you are going to be heading on in there, even if it means heading back home on foot.
>>50607 >Why are there three options for what could be made into one? I would assume it's a way of deciding Conner's reaction - and, possibly, suspicion - of Aya's odd behavior.
From the way I read them it seems the reactions are: >[ ] Go inside. Eh, whatever. Just Aya being Aya. >[ ] Despite her? odd behavior, Aya is right, you should probably head on inside. That was weird. I'll have to keep my eyes open. >[ ] You've got a job to look into, and you aren't going to get any further on it by just standing out here. Something's probably going on here but I'll just soldier on through. >[ ] No, screw this. Something is definitely up here, and you aren't going to have any part in it. There is no way that you are going to be heading on in there, even if it means heading back home on foot. This place is 2spooky4me.
I didn't actually think you all would be willing to just jump in there like that, so I gave you three options that no sane(ish) person would take, and one option that I thought everyone would take, and...
and I thought you all would rage against the railroad and try to leave, and then stuff would happen, and you didn't even notice what happened to Aya and...
>>50612 >I thought you all would rage against the railroad and try to leave, and then stuff would happen It must suck knowing your readers trust you enough to be fine with just going along on some things huh?
>and you didn't even notice what happened to Aya and... Personally? I figured she'd pretty much been told/commanded/fateded to bugger off.
>and... >... >... >Uuuuuuuuuuuu~! Heh. This is a new one.
Sorry about that. Real life has the unfortunate tendency to take up all your time in the blink of an eye. Blah blah blah work blah blah blah too many distracting video games blah blah blah you know the deal by now.
Writing the next part as I type this, since I needed to come back to remember where I left off. Hopefully will post soon, so sit tight for a bit.
"well that was a bit weird, but you guess Aya did say she was in a bit of a hurry, and it's not like this is the first time she's ever taken off without so much as a goodbye. You put her odd behavior out of your mind as you walk over to the gate's pedestrian entrance, push it open and walk onto the mansion's grounds.
You take a moment to double check that there is no one stationed at the guard's booth, just in case someone is quietly sleeping on the job when they shouldn't be. Finding only a huge amount of dust inside the small shack, you continue on your way, taking in the sights of the ground as you move along the road leading to the mansion.
What you see doesn't really impress you. While you think you can make out something of a pattern in the various shrubbery and plants that are lit up by the sunset, the grounds look like they haven't had any real maintenance in years, if not longer. Half the plants you see died off ages ago and haven't been cleared out, while a good number of the others have grown out of control, splaying themselves out on the grounds in complete chaos. The path to the mansion itself seems to be at least somewhat well maintained, but you can tell that aside from the occasional sweeping and trimming whoever is in charge of the road's maintenance isn't either willing or able to put their all into keeping the route nice and trim. The various cobblestones that make up the path have numerous cracks in them, and in some cases you can see where the path is eroding down near its edges. Still, it's pretty clear that someone uses this path at least somewhat regularly, meaning that the chance of all this being a prank is at least somewhat diminished.
Soon enough, the road branches off, with one path leading towards the back of the mansion and the second making a loop in front of the mansion itself. As you approach the large building you can't help but take in the fact that yes, the entire place seems to have been painted a deep, bloody red. While the craftsmanship itself seems to be fairly sturdy and of a classical design, the building itself looks fairly old, and much like the grounds you can see that it's been a while since the mansion has had a fresh coat of paint. You can't help but wonder what kind of eccentric would consider painting their manor in such a manner, though the quality of the paint job would probably suggest that either the one who gave the initial order for the color either quickly lost interest in what they had done or had passed the ownership of the mansion to someone who wasn't interested in what color the mansion was. In other words, the current owner is probably either a loon or a cheapskate, neither of which is an encouraging thought.
Still, you're already standing near the front door, so you might as well get this sure-to-be a train wreck started. Walking up to the large, imposing doors, you grab what looks to be a knocker in the shape of a gargoyle's head and knock it against the wood it rests against. It only takes a few moments before you hear the movement of locks on the other side of the door, and soon enough the doors open to reveal what appears to be a very maid-like maid.
The tall girl standing in front of you seems slightly confused at the sight of you standing on her doorstep. Her silver-grey hair is highlighted slightly by the last of the sunset, framing a face that looks much too youthful to be associated with such a hair color. She is wearing a blue maid's outfit with a white apron and matching white shirt and frills, with her blue skirt stopping just above her knees, with matching blue and white socks and a pair of black high-heel shoes completing the outfit.
It seems takes a moment for her to puzzle through why you are there, but soon enough she seems to come to a conclusion and gives you a polite, clean smile. "Sorry, no solicitors," she says as she begins to close the doors.
"If anyone is the solicitor here ma?am, it's you." You say as you rummage through your bag. This causes the woman to pause as the look of confusion crawls back onto her face. Before she can resume, you pull out the flyer and hand it over to her. A look of comprehension comes upon her face, and her confusion melts into a warm smile.
"You're here about the advertisement we put up! Oh, that's very good to hear, I was worried that it might have already been thrown away to make room for another!" The maid claps her hands together and bounces on the balls of her feet, startling you somewhat before she continues. "Please, wait here a moment while I alert the mistress to your presence."
The moment the girl finishes her sentence, she promptly disappears from existence. You leap back in surprise and yell out in surprise, almost tripping over the steps that lead up to the doorway. You try to catch your breath as your brain catches up to what just happened. A maid, just up and vanished in front of your eyes, leaving behind no trace of her actually being there in the first place. Ok, sure, maids and butlers do that all the time, don't they? In fact, that might actually explain a few things in regards to-
Your thoughts are interrupted by the just-as-sudden reappearance of the maid in question, which only causes you to flinch slightly. "The mistress is going to need a bit of time before she is ready to meet with you, but if you would follow me in the meantime it would be my pleasure to escort you in and make you comfortable while you wait." She gives you a professional-grade smile, acting as though she didn't just bend the rules of space-time to her whim.
A teleporting maid. A TELEPORTING MAID. This is really the part where you should just tell yourself ?no? and walk away, but at the same time, despite all of your misgivings, you can't help but think that so far this is actually going better than you first expected. Putting the implications of that thought out of your mind, you straighten yourself up and give a small nod. The maid closes her eyes for a moment, amping up the cuteness of her smile by at least twofold before she turns around and walks inside. "This way, please."
You step inside and give the foyer a quick glance as the girl closes the doors behind you. The area is a large circle, with a fairly high ceiling and walls painted, what else, blood red. The wooden floor seems to be fairly normal, although you can't help but notice what appears to be a faint purple design etched into it, too faded for you to make out as it is right now. There are multiple doorways scattered about the walls, and you can't help but feel a little intrigued by the fact that they all have the exact same design with the exception of the large front doors you just entered.
The maid opens a set of these doors and leads you down a long hallway, passing by many doors as her steps are muffled by the bright red carpet. As you walk, she attempts to start up a conversation. "I can't tell you how happy I am that you found my flier! I put so much work into it, and I really was worried that it might go to waste."
"I?suppose that it did stand out a bit for a babysitting poster, yeah." You say as you think back to its initial design. "I will admit that the penmanship on it was very nice, and it carried over well even after you photocopied it."
"Oh, I didn't photocopy it, but I'm glad you liked it! I was worried that it wouldn't get enough attention without a picture, but the mistress said that pasting one on there would make it look too unprofessional, and that it wouldn't be needed in any case. I was a bit disappointed, but I suppose that it fulfilled its purpose regardless, wouldn't you?"
Something about her last sentence jumps out at you. "Wait, are you telling me that you didn't use a photocopier? I'll admit that's a bit surprising. Did you have to make the other copies by hand?"
The maid looks back at you, her blank look of confusion reappearing on her face. "Other copies? What do you mean?"
You mind pauses a moment before you can answer. "You know, the other copies that you made to hang up around the city? To advertise for the job request?"
The blank look continues for a few more moments before the maid gives a small giggle and continues down the hall. "Why would I make more than one flier?" She asks, "The mistress only told me to make the one you handed to me and hang it up at that shrine at the edge of the city. There was no need to hang up any more of them, was there?"
THAT sets off some of the bigger warning bells in your head. "Didn't you think that it was odd that she only told you to hang up a single flyer throughout the entire city? What would have happened if the flyer got lost or torn down without having been looked at?"
"Huh. That's a good question." The maid puts a finger to her lips in thought for a moment, before once again turning to you again with her calm, happy smile. "But you're here now, aren't you? So things turned out alright in the end." With that, once again continues down the hallway, seemingly avoiding the implications of what she just said. A few moments later, she leads you into a small parlor room, host to a couple of chairs and a medium sized circular table, and a window showing you the grounds as the last of the twilight dies off. She has you take a seat and promptly vanishes, leaving you with both a promise of tea and cookies as well as the prompt arrival of her mistress.
You don't pay too much attention to that though, since your mind is still reeling somewhat from what she said. The fact that her employer only required a single flier to be put up suggests that she is either extremely naïve on how the cutthroat world of marketing actually works, or else that there is something going on here behind the scenes of this whole ?job? that you aren't seeing yet. Considering the fact that the maid was told to put the flier up in a very specific location, you are inclined to lean your opinion towards the latter. Does this mean that this ?mistress? was looking for you specifically though? Probably not, since if that were the case a simple letter would have probably been more effective. Still, you can't help but try and sort through the implications of the act might actually mean. Unfortunately, by the time the doors to the room open next you haven't managed to figure things out, and are forced to divert your attention to the woman entering the room ahead of the now familiar maid.
She is of medium height and has a thin build, standing about a head shorter than her maid. Her dress and matching hat are light pink, with a large red ribbon behind her waist, complemented by a matching one attached to her hat. Her light blue hair stands out against a youthful face that somehow seems to be carrying the weight of many ages against it. The maid holds out a chair for her across from where you are sitting, and the new woman sits down in it, giving a slight nod as she picks up the teacup in front of her. "Thank you, Sakuya," she says in a smooth voice as she takes a sip of the liquid in the cup. It takes you a moment to realize that the aforementioned tea and cookies have somehow materialized in front of you without you noticing, so either the maid can teleport other things besides herself, or else you were really out of it for the last few minutes.
Putting her cup down, the blue haired woman looks up at you, and suddenly you find your gaze held by her scarlet eyes. "It is a pleasure to finally meet you, Mr. Conner," she says in a high, silky voice. "My name is Remilia Scarlet, and I have a job that I would like you to take."
[X] It is a pleasure to finally meet you as well Mrs. Scarlet. Though I must say; my wildest dreams truly did to justice to how beautiful you are in person. [X] So what can this everyday handyman do for you this evening?
Remi has always seemed like the type to enjoy verbal sparring.
[X] It is a pleasure to meet you as well Mrs. Scarlet. [X] I'm sorry Mrs. Scarlet, have you heard of me before? I don't recall introducing myself...
For a moment, you can only stare into the eyes of the girl sitting across from you. it's like you are staring into two portals made of crystal clear blood, beckoning you to throw yourself into them and lose yourself for all time?
You break eye contact with Remilia, forcing yourself not to dwell on the allegory your mind just presented you with, and trying to keep yourself composed in front of your potential employer. "It is a pleasure to meet you as well, Ms. Scarlet," you say in an attempt to be polite. But even with the distraction her eyes threw upon you, you still manage to catch the oddity from her introduction. "I'm sorry Mrs. Scarlet, but have you heard of me before? I don't recall introducing myself..."
In response, Remilia takes another sip of her tea. She gives the maid (who you suppose is named Sakuya) a compliment on its quality before turning back to you. "That is certainly a reasonable question to ask, Mr. Conner. Tell me, do you believe in fate?"
"Well, I?" you begin to answer before you catch yourself to rephrase your response in a way that doesn't completely avoid the question. "I'm not sure, but what does fate have to do with you knowing who I am?"
Remilia blinks in surprise at your response, but recovers somewhat quickly. "You can do better than that, Mr. Conner. Come now, do you believe in fate or not?"
So she isn't going to let you move forward without playing her little game, is she? You give a small huff of annoyance, but decide to indulge her none the less. "Like I just said, I'm not sure whether or not I believe in fate. it's certainly a possibility, but at the same time it's never been something that I've needed to think about. I get to where I need to go one way or the other, and whether it is by my own actions or by the hand of something else doesn't matter to me one way or the other."
Remilia gives a small smile in response, as if to say what a poor, ignorant fool you are for thinking such a thing. "How naïve; fate is something that guides us every day, every second of our lives. It is the dictation of how a living being will progress in the world, and for those who know how to feel it out fate can grant a great insight on what will happen next." Taking a final sip, Remilia sets her tea cup onto the table before folding her hands over her lap. "But what most people don't realize, Mr. Conner, is that fate is nowhere near immutable. It can bend, change, and at times even snap as the fates of different people clash day in and day out. Fate is no more than a guideline in our lives, for even if there is a good chance that something might happen, there is never any true indication that it will happen."
You take a few moments to nod in appreciation to Remilia's wisdom before giving her your carefully prepared retort. "So in other words, how you came to learn about me isn't any of my business, and even if it was you aren't actually going to tell me regardless, so I should probably stop asking while I'm ahead. Did I more or less get the gist of it, Ms. Scarlet?"
Once again, you seem to catch Remilia off guard, but this time she seems to let the surprise carry her somewhere else entirely. Her polite demeanor melts away, and while not a single part of her changes physically in either her appearance or her posture you can't help but feel the difference. Her polite smirk shifts to a slightly annoyed frown, the aura around her seems to darken, and you could swear that the shadows around her eyes give off the impression of many a sleepless night, though after a moment you begin to wonder if that last one wasn't just a trick of the eye. Suddenly, the decision to give a snarky retort in response doesn't seem like such a clever idea anymore.
"Well, it would seem that you enjoy cutting straight to the heart of things, don't you Mr. Conner?" The smooth voice of your hostess seems to have taken a somewhat darker tone, one tinged with subtle annoyance. She stands up, motioning for you to follow as she makes her way into the hallway. "If that's the case, why don't we cut past the pretenses and go straight to what I need you to do, hm?" You take the cue and follow in response, hoping that you didn't just make a mistake that you will regret.
Remilia leads you through mansion, the maid remaining close by her side while you take up the rear a few paces back. After passing through the main foyer once again, your little party comes upon a large set of doors that are open slightly ajar. You jump as you notice that someone seems to be staring at you through that gap, but before you can get a closer look the doors slam shut, barring you from entry.
"The librarian," Remilia says without missing a beat in her step, "You don't have to worry about her, just focus on what I need you to do."
"Aside from the fact that I haven't actually agreed to anything yet, you have yet to actually tell me exactly what it is that you want me to do."
"What you are going to do." Remilia says with steel in her voice as the three of you start descending a set of stairs leading to what appears to be a basement. She leads you on as Sakuya fiddles with a light switch, eventually illuminating the passage you are walking down. Soon enough, the hallway comes to an end at another large set of heavy wooden doors, which you are hoping don't contain something that will jump out and attack you at Remilia's bequest.
As you approach the door, Remilia moves to block your path. "Let me explain first," she says in a now clearly annoyed tone. Raising your hands in front of you, you back off slightly to give her some room. Remilia clears her throat and faces you in a business-like manner. "The occupant of the room behind me is my little sister, Flandre. She has shut herself in for a long time now, and I believe that it is time for her to come out. Your job is to help rehabilitate her from her current state, and assist her in transitioning to-"
"Woah woah woah!" You interrupt, your hands waving in front of you, "Rehabilitation? Transitioning? I thought that this was supposed to be a babysitting job! The flyer said nothing about rehab!"
Remilia blinks, and then turns to Sakuya with a scowl. "Sakuya, did you write up that flyer exactly as I specified you to?"
Sakuya puts a finger to her lips and muddles over her mistresses? riddle. "I'm not sure? I remember that I couldn't remember exactly what you wanted me to put on it as I was writing it up? but I think I managed to get the gist of what you wanted on there." The maid turns back to her mistress with a ditzy smile, leaving the blue-haired woman somewhat flabbergasted and you trying to suppress a smirk.
Shaking her head a bit, Remilia recovers. "Regardless, your job is to assist my sister in becoming a functioning member of society once more, and-"
"I'm not a therapist, you know," you cut in. "I'm not really qualified to handle someone's psychological problems, and I think you would probably be better off finding-"
"THAT DOESn't MATTER." Remilia says through now grit teeth. "We have already tried that route to no success, and now the task falls to you. You will be paid-"
"Woah, hold on a second," you interrupt a third time as you pinch the bridge of your nose in concentration. "Before we can talk on whether or not I will actually take this job, or even (though I loathe to say it) potential compensation, I think it would be prudent to actually, I don't know, meet the person I'm supposed to watch over here?"
Remilia's mouth clenches in anger over being interrupted by you once more, and you would swear that a vein is popping out on her forehead. Before you can apologize for going too far, however, Remilia grabs the doors and throws them into the walls, surprising you with the amount of strength her small body seems to hold. Before you can take the time to be shocked by her performance, Remilia half-walks half-marches into the room, stopping in front of a large sized bed that is currently holding a single occupant. The girl on the bed continues to hold her knees in front of her as her face slowly tilts to acknowledge Remilia.
"Flandre, this is Conner. He is going to be you overseer going forward."
The girl sitting on the bed slowly turns her head to face you. She is wearing a simple red dress, with a white, frilly shirt and matching white socks. Part of her blonde hair is tied up in a single ponytail on her left side, emphasizing how messy the rest of her looks. But just like her sister, the thing that you are drawn to first and foremost is the girl's gaze.
Her scarlet, broken gaze.
She stares at you for a few moments, before drifting her eyes back into the position that they were in originally, not taking in anything around her. Sakuya seems to take it upon herself to make the room a little neater, but Remilia?
Remilia can only stare at the girl you take to be her sister. Her gaze contains nothing but sadness, and you could swear that the blue haired girl is going to burst into tears if she stays like that any longer. The weakness only lasts a second, however, and as a look of resolves replaces it she drags you out of the room and into the hallway, not bothering to close the doors behind her.
"I have tried nearly everything, Mr. Conner." Remilia says as she pulls you out of earshot from the bedroom. "I have already brought in anyone I thought might help, and have tried every method I could think of to bring Flandre out of her shell, but nothing I do is working." The girl faces you once more, and this time the lines under her eyes are showing prominently, making her look tired beyond measure. "I want my sister back, Conner, and I believe that you are my last hope in making that happen. No matter what I have to do to convince you, you will help her."
Choice Set 1: [ ] "alright, I'm in. -[ ] ? but I'm going to need some more information first. <Write in any questions you might have>
>The Extra Boss. Also the Mistress's younger sister.
>She is a vampiric magical girl and has been the Scarlet Devil's younger sister for about 495 years. She's kind of nuts so she isn't usually taken out of the mansion. She also doesn't try going out.
>She really respects her older sister Remilia, but her raw destructive power far exceeds that of her sister's. Although she is usually docile, her insanity makes it difficult for others to understand her.
>more stuff I won't bother quoting
Copied and posted from one of Flander's posts because I'm too tired to do it manually.
"kind of nuts" doesn't translate to the full blown sociopath people like to portray he as. She has some quirks, of course, but from her conversations both in-game and in primary source material, she seems perfectly sane and coherent.
Since her official profile claims she's insane, and we don't really see anything contrary to that, while the above article supports it... Well, crazy is a logical conclusion.
It's important to realise that "crazy" doesn't necessarily mean psychotic. It's entirely possible to be insane and live an almost perfectly normal life. I mean, I did it for almost a decade before anyone realised I was, and even then it was only because I told them.
Besides, I was responding to the idea that Flandre being crazy is a misconception, not that Flandre is psychotic. Canonically, Flandre is crazy, but a mostly harmless kind of crazy.
Apologies if I seem a little incoherent, but I probably should have been in bed an hour ago.
It's not about how it doesn't make sense to Aya, so much as Flandre can't explain why she blew up the meteorite . Flandre starts rambling about spears, rain and how a japanese confectionary is not scary. The closest she come to answering Aya's question is claiming that shooting stars are pushovers to her and that meteorites are meaningless to her, which... really doesn't answer Aya's question at all. That is not the hallmark of a stable mind. If she were sane (or at least coherent), she would have answered "Remilia told me to" or something to that effect. Unless of course, Remilia didn't, and she just blew it up on whim, which would only prove my point anyway. Instead she goes off on a tangent, seemingly unable to grasp what Aya is asking.
If you're still confused, I'll try explaining it to you in the morning when I'm not so exhausted. Good night!
This whole argument stems from the fact that Aya, and you it seems, are the ones not understanding Flandre, not me.
I think its perfectly reasonable that someone would consider a spear to be a more tangible threat to their safety than a dang meteorite. or that a vampire would fear the rain, one of their natural weakness, more than a meteorite which can easily be destroyed.
Also, the comment about manjuu was an allegorical pun that was lost in translation.
Get some rest and try rereading it. I promise it makes sense.
>I think its perfectly reasonable that someone would consider a spear to be a more tangible threat to their safety than a dang meteorite. or that a vampire would fear the rain, one of their natural weakness, more than a meteorite which can easily be destroyed.
Yes, but if someone asks why you blew up a meteorite, a sane person generally wouldn't respond with "I'm more scared of falling spears". Great, you're scared of falling spears and rain, but what does that have to do with why you blew up the meteorite?. Aya asks one simple question, and gets an answer that has nothing to do with what she's asking.
Basically Flandre's response comes down to either a meaningless answer or she did it because she could. Neither is exactly "sane".
>This whole argument stems from the fact that Aya, and you it seems, are the ones not understanding Flandre, not me.
Oh no, on the contrary, I understand Flandre quite well here. Sometimes someone will ask me a question and I'll start rambling about something only tangentially related and get blank stares from everyone around me. It's only then that I realise that I didn't actually answer them.
But you're right. I'll get some sleep and see if I can express myself better in the morning.
>"Look, something on the level of a shooting star is a pushover to me. All I have to do is squeeze it a bit. Really, who cares about one little meteorite? Can't you understand that something like meteorites are meaningless to me? I'd be more scared of falling spears. Actually, I'm more afraid of rain. Ah, and manjuu aren't scary at all."
Sure, this makes sense to us. Nobody is trying to say it doesn't make sense. I can read it and understand it fine. The thing is, it's not a "normal" thought process. You don't go from meteorites to falling spears and rain, especially in an interview, even if they're vaguely related. You don't list off random things that are unrelated to the question.
Even if it's not a psychosis, that would definitely constitute as "kind of nuts."
>Although she is usually docile, her insanity makes it difficult for others to understand her.
Again from her profile. She clearly has some sort of insanity in her, but ZUN never confirmed of what nature. From her few canon interactions we can conclude she is off. Just, again, not a full-blown psychopath. Unless she has a multiple-personality disorder, one of which is the ever-popular crazy creepy Flandre. Frankly, we don't know how far the rabbit hole goes, which leaves it up to the writefag's imagination.
I meant exactly what I said. Aya never asked why Flandre blew up the meteorite. She could have asked literally anything of a similar nature, which prompted Flandre's response. Since we don't know how she worded her question, we don't know if Flandre's response was perfectly on-topic or not.
Whoo boy, nothing like coming back from work and seeing that your last post raised up a storm. I'm not sure whether to be proud or ashamed...
>>55252 "Crazy" does not necessarily mean the same thing as "Broken".
>The whole argument over whether Flandre should be classified as crazy canonically
One of the things that I have always loved about the Touhou series is that a large amount of the things that happen canonically tend to be vague in their interpretations, and Flandre as a whole seems to be one of the characters that is the vaguest of all. The only pieces of true information we have about her come from a few snippets of dialog in the games and Aya's article, as well as a few facts given to us by character's whose reliability and bias on the subject are unclear at best. There are a good number of ways to interpret how Flandre might actually act in different circumstances, and unless ZUN decides to either give us more insight via one of the spinoff projects (which I find unlikely) or to give her a role in one of the future games (which I find even more unlikely) we probably aren't going to learn too much more about her then what we know now, and that's just the way I like it since it means that many different interpretations of her can be made plausible.
...all that said, it's probably best if you guys moved this discussion somewhere else, as it doesn't really have that much to do with the story at hand. Sorry for any hard feelings, but if you could break the discussion up here and move it to a more relevant thread it would be very much appreciated.
Alright, I'm probably going to see if one more vote pops up tonight/tomorrow, and then I'll start writing the next post. No promises on when you'll see it next, but I'm going to be hopeful here and say "soonish".
>Since we don't know how she worded her question, we don't know if Flandre's response was perfectly on-topic or not.
Judging by Aya's following comment "Though her words were mostly incoherent, I was able to understand that she stated destroying the shooting star was simple", I'm going to go out on a limb and say it wasn't.
>Whoo boy, nothing like coming back from work and seeing that your last post raised up a storm. I'm not sure whether to be proud or ashamed...
A storm is good; A shitstorm is bad. This clearly falls into the former. So feel proud, it means your story was able to generate genuine discussion. That's rare enough these days.
>but if you could break the discussion up here and move it to a more relevant thread it would be very much appreciated.
No problem. You heard the author everyone, do you want to take this over to blue and have a nice discussion or just drop it and call it a day? If you want to keep going, go make a thread on /blue/ and I'll meet you there.
[x] "alright, I'm in. -[X] What are the terms of employment?
"-alright, I'm in."
"I'm serious Mr. Conner, I won't be taking no for an-" Remilia stops as she realizes what your response was, and the look of exhaustion on her face turns into one of surprise. ??Just like that?" she asks.
"Just like that," you respond.
Remilia blinks, but soon enough the polite smirk from before ends up crawling back onto her face. "You know," she says, "I was expecting negotiations to be a little more difficult than that. Are you sure that you don't want to try and pry a little bit more out of me before giving your consent?"
"it's tempting," you admit, "But I get the feeling that things will go your way one way or another." You spare a glance back towards the bedroom. "Besides - I'm not one to look away when I see someone suffering like that."
"Oho?" Remilia asks, her smirk broadening even wider as she slowly steps around you. "Claiming to have a chivalrous nature, are we?"
Now there?s a line you've heard before. "Hey, if you think that I'm going to be doing any of this for no pay-"
Remilia cuts you off. "Do not worry, Mr. Conner," Remilia says in a more serious tone. "You will be compensated for your troubles, and up front as well."
"-up front, you say?" You know from experience that the only people who pay up front are those who are either completely sure that a job will be successful, those who are not expecting to meet you again, or those who have an ulterior motive behind their backs. While the second option doesn't seem likely in this case, you figure it would probably be prudent to cut to the chase. "Maybe it's time for you to go into a bit more detail on exactly what the terms of employment are here."
Remilia nods as she turns back towards the bedroom. "Sakuya!" she calls out, and within milliseconds the maid materializes next to her mistress. "Go and fetch the envelope that is sitting on my desk, will you?" With a smile and a nod the maid stays in exactly the same place, although within the one second that it takes for you to blink an envelope materializes in her hands. You can't help but wonder who in the world this mysterious maid could be before Remilia takes the envelope from her and hands it to you.
"This envelope contains what I hope is enough money to complete your task." You open up the envelope and HOLY GEEZ that's a lot of cash. You look over to Remilia in complete shock as she continues, albeit with a firm frown on her face. "Consider this a stipend for any expenses that you may need to finance while watching over my sister, and not your own personal hedge fund if you would. My expectation is that you will devote this money first and foremost to such expenses, and not to whatever strikes your fancy at the time. After the job is finished, whatever amount that remains is yours to keep. My hope is that you are able to keep any - impulses you might have under control and not use it unless you have to while you are under my employ." Remilia says with a slight scowl? "I hope that we have an understanding on this, Mr. Conner."
So in other words business first, fun times later. You nod as you pocket the envelope for now, though you resolve to count through the exact amount in short order. "As long as we're on the topic, do you mind telling me what you expect me to do or achieve here?" You ask.
At this Remilia hesitates another moment. "I'm - not entirely sure," She admits. "All I want is? for Flan to be happy, but no matter what I try I cannot get her to come out of her shell. Something happened a long time ago and?" She stops mid-sentence, a glazed look of recollection on her face. With a jolt she notices you staring before shaking herself out of it. "it's not important."
"From the way you acted, I would say that it's probably very important, especially if you say that it's what triggered her current state in the first place."
Remilia's frown deepens for a moment, but then she seems to reconsider. ??it isn't a pleasant memory, so I would prefer not to talk about it if I don't have to. I would much rather look to the future rather than the past. However, I will discuss it with you if you truly believe it will help."
You consider this for a moment. "Maybe later, if it comes down to it? you decide, "If it feels like I'm getting absolutely nowhere at all I'll come and ask you about it, alright?"
Remilia nods. "That sounds fair. Regardless, I will be judging your progress as time passes. Should it seem like Flandre is making good progress towards recovery after a sufficient amount of time has passed then I will release you from your duties and the stipend is yours to keep. Otherwise?" She lets the word hang in the air as she gives you a sharp glance, sending shivers down your spine. "Well, we'll deal with that bridge if we come to it, hm?" You get the feeling that you don't particularly want to ever even see that bridge in the first place, and your mind reels as it tries to figure out what Remilia could actually do to you. You draw a bit of a blank, but the implications are there nonetheless.
"Now then, any questions?" Remilia asks.
Shaking off your bad feelings, you ask the one thing that's been pressing on your mind. "Do I need to worry about Flandre running off if she doesn't like me? Just how much of a ?problem child? is she?"
?SHE IS NOT A PROBLEM CHILD!? Remilia snaps, causing you to flinch back at from outburst. "If anything, she's obedient to a fault, especially when it comes to what I tell her to do." You can't help but notice a small sigh escape from Remilia as she says that. "I will have a few words with her before I leave, so rest assured that unless you request something unreasonable or illicit she will not run away. Anything else?"
You think for a moment, but nothing else comes to mind. "Any advice?" you ask with a small shrug. Surprisingly, Remilia shakes her head. "That's kind of odd; I would think that if anyone knew this girl best, it would probably be her sister."
"As I have said, I have not had any success on any of my previous attempts, and I wouldn't want to bias you from taking any action that you may deem necessary, Mr. Conner. You may keep her in the mansion, or take her outside if you deem it necessary, though I would ask that you talk to me if that is something that you choose to do. For the most part I am sure that Flandre can take care of herself, and that there isn't much out there that might pose an actual threat to her. That said," and with a rush of air Remilia pins you against the wall in a single move of her arm, somehow preventing you from moving at all, "if any harm comes to my sister while she is under your care, if she suffers even a single scratch, I will be holding you responsible." Her face contorts into a mess of shadow, and you could swear that you can see fangs elongating out from her mouth as she talks. "Do you understand?"
You've seen some crazy stuff in your life, but you are having a hard time remembering when the last time you felt this intimidated was. Taking a slow gulp of air, you give a small nod as Remilia releases you. "That's good to hear." She says will a cheerful looking smile. "Please call for Sakuya if you need to find me or if you need any assistance; she will attempt to support you within reason." Remilia quickly turns away and walks into the bedroom. After a few moments she walks out, that cheerful smile still plastered on her face.
"And with that, I believe I will leave the rest to you, Mr. Conner. Good Luck!" With that, the young, blue haired woman begins walking back up the hallway, and Sakuya gives you a quick bow before following suit.
"well, that was something that happened. You consider your next move from here, and while you find it very tempting to start counting the money this very moment, a part of you insists that you try at least a modicum of interaction with Remilia's sister before anything else. You walk back into the darkened room and take a seat on the bed next to Flandre. The girl shrinks up as your weight hits the mattress, and can't help but flinch as she quickly does her best to scoot away from you. You can tell that this won't be an easy task, and that one wrong move can probably put you on her bad side for a very long time. Still, that's no reason for you to give up now! You begin to wrack you brain on the best way to approach the girl sitting across from you and?
"you have come to a very startling realization. You have absolutely no idea how to interact with kids.
"well you were paid up front, so it would probably be a good idea to at least try to wing it before giving up.
[ ] Giving her an introduction might be a good place to start? [ ] Maybe we should try some gentle reassurances? We don't want her to perceive you as a threat? [ ] Just play it cool for now and take it easy, let her initiate first contact at her own pace. [ ] Let's see if there are any games you can play with her stashed around here? [ ] "yeah, you aren't prepared for this at all. Probably best to come back later when you have a plan of action in mind. [ ] You already have the money; there's no reason for you to stick to this job any longer. Let's get out of here while we have the chance.
Blah, hate writing exposition chapters like this, but hopefully this was the last post like this for a while. Here's hoping that the next few are easier to write!
Not dead, just have a lot to deal with. Just lost my current job, so there were a bunch of things that needed to get settled. The good news is, I should have plenty of time to write in the near future, so just hang tight for a bit longer.
Still sorting through a bunch of stuff in real life, but have a short update in the meantime.
[X] Giving her an introduction might be a good place to start?
Well at the very least, introducing yourself is probably a good place to start. You turn towards Flandre and give what you hope is a friendly looking smile. "So we should probably start at the beginning, shouldn't we? My name's Conner, and I'll be looking after you for a little while."
Flandre only stares at you as if you were some sort of demon that has come to claim her soul. You kind of figured that this wasn't going to be easy to get her to open up right from the start, but why would she be so scared of you right from the get go? All you've done is sit down on her bed? with her already on it? after her sister told her to follow your instructions? when it's only the two of you around?
You quickly slide off from where you are sitting on the bed onto the floor, using the mattress as a back support. "Sorry about that, I tend to do things like that without thinking." You say. Flandre keeps her stare up, though it feels like she at least turned the intensity down a notch. Looks like earning her trust is probably going to be an uphill battle, but you can hopefully get her to respond to your introduction. "Your sister already told me your name, Flandre, but is there any particular name you would like me to call you by?"
The girl blinks, and quickly stops looking at you in order to look back at her knees. For a moment you wonder if she's going to say anything to you at all, let alone her name, but you suddenly hear a quite murmur coming from her direction.
"Flandre is fine."
Hahah! Words! That means progress! (Probably!) You give a quick nod, and turn back towards her. "Then Flandre it is! it's good to meet you, Flandre!" You suddenly halt your movement as you notice she's flinching away from you again. "Come on Flandre, give me a chance? I'm not going to bite?"
Flandre noticeably flinches as those words come out of your mouth, and amazingly she ends up turning towards you fully, her eyes focused on you fully as she mouths her response.
"That's not what I'm afraid of."
The two of you just stand there for a moment staring at each other before Flandre breaks off eye contact and hunkers back down into her fetal position. You follow suit in the hopes that Flandre will continue, but five whole minutes pass without a single word being passed between the two of you. it's pretty clear that Flandre isn't going to say anything else unless prompted, and you wonder whether or not it would even be worth it to try and engage her in conversation again considering how awkward your last attempt just ended.
You're honestly drawing a bit of a blank on how to proceed here. it's pretty obvious that this girl is shutting herself in, but you really don't have any clue on why that might be. You'd press Remilia for more information, but you get the feeling that she's said all that she's going to for now. Well regardless, now that you've gotten the basic introduction out of the way you're probably going to have to figure out how to proceed from here.
[ ] No need to rush things here; let's ask her about her hobbies/interests, and see if there are any games that she might like to play. [ ] A change of environment might be good; let's go out for a stroll and see if that helps break the ice. -[ ] Let's keep things simple and just walk around the mansion's grounds. -[ ] Take Flandre downtown, let her take in some of the sights. -[ ] Take Flandre to bug Naz and Suke; at the very least you'll be able to get some fun out of it. [ ] Maybe something else? <Write-in option> [ ] We're going to have to take some time to think things out here; let's come back later when we're more prepared.
Maybe, maybe not. Certainly would make this arc a lot easier though if we knew it was impossible to fail.
[X] Let's write a story together, one paragraph at a time. That way we don't have to talk or even been in the same room together if you don't want to. [X] Buy Flandre a cute cell phone, promise to text her pictures of interesting people/sights. Tell her she doesn't have to reply, but at least read them.
[X] No need to rush things here; let's ask her about her hobbies/interests, and see if there are any games that she might like to play.
You've only just met the girl, so it's probably best if you do something to break the ice first. Finding out what her interests are might be a good place to start. "So, Flandre, is there anything in particular that you like to do, or anything in specific that you might be interested in?"
She shakes her head no. "I just want to be left alone, ok?"
"I'm pretty sure that your sister would be pretty miffed with me if I just left you here, kiddo." You say in return as you survey the dimly lit room you are sitting in. There isn't much to see; aside from her bed there is only a simple desk with a few items scattered around it, a dresser of somewhat ornate design and a matching set of drawers. There are no posters on the walls, no drawings of any sort, nothing at all to indicate what this girl might like. From all appearances, this girl doesn't have any discernible interests or hobbies at all, making you wonder what on earth could cause a person to shut themselves in so far.
You put that thought on the backburner as you wrack your mind on what else you can go with here. If she has no outright discernible interests, then maybe something she ?Are there any games that you enjoy playing, then?" Flandre just shakes her head. "Nothing at all? Come on, there has to be something. I'm sure that you can spare the time for at least a single game."
For a moment you don't think that your request got through, but suddenly Flandre slides off the bed and walks over to dresser. Opening it up, she picks something up from inside of it and returns to the bed, where she begins to lay out a board and set up some pieces. Alright, now we're getting somewhere!
"You're not very good at this game, are you?" Flandre says as she takes your rook with her queen. You can only stare at the chessboard in response, you sense of dread growing with each turn you take. Of all the games that this little girl could have chosen, why did it have to be chess?
With a sigh, you take your remaining bishop and move it to collect on of Flandre's pawns. "Not really, no." You frown as Flandre follows up in taking your bishop with her rook. "I'm really more of an ?action, reaction? type of person, and games like these aren't really suited for that kind of mindset, you know?"
Looking up, you see Flandre shaking her head in confusion. "Alright, let me put it this way. Chess is the kind of game that changes based on how skilled the players are. After a person gets the basics down, they can play another person of the same skill level based mostly on spot intuition, figuring things out one move at a time, right? That's the style of gameplay that I'm best at, but?" You wave your hand over the chessboard. "The nature of this game is really more biased towards those who can think three steps ahead and know what kind of game they are playing ahead of time."
"Strategists," Flandre says, to which you nod.
"Right," You say with a nod of your head, "In other words, the kinds of people who are good at playing chess are those who are prepared to play chess well, and who can figure out what their opponents are going to do next." You move one of your pawns down the board as you continue. "Like I said, I'm the kind of guy who will always think more in the moment then on what could happen next, so I'm not usually thinking any further out than your next turn. But even if I were the kind of person to look to the future before I move in the present, I just don't like games that constrain you to their rule set.
Flandre tilts her head. "Constrain?"
"Well for one thing, when you play a game of chess you know that each player will stand on more or less equal footing at the start, right?" Flander nods, and you continue. "Both sides will have the same number of pieces which can do the same things, and both sides will know the other's capabilities. The capabilities of a single piece will not change throughout the game with perhaps a pawn being the only exception, but even then both sides know and have access to that upgrade potential. The only real variable that can arguably change is the amount of skill a player has at playing chess; the rules are the rules, and there is nothing that you can do about it."
"Isn't that a large part of the appeal, though?" Flandre asks as she takes another of your pieces. "The rules provide the game with structure, and allow people to test their skills against one another on even ground. If it were more chaotic in its nature than people probably wouldn't like to play it as often."
"Of course, but remember that my original argument wasn't that the game is wrong or bad, just that I'm not really that good at it." You let out a sigh as you behold the inevitable downfall of your pieces. "Well with that I'm more or less left with a rook, a king and a few pawns, while you still have most of your pieces still on the board. I'm pretty sure that you more or less have a checkmate coming up, so how about we call this one in your favor?"
Flandre nods and begins to clear the chessboard. For a moment the two of you sit there as she puts the pieces away, but then in a surprise move Flandre breaks the silence. "Why did you learn to play the game if you don't like playing it?"
You let out a snort as you tilt your head up to look at the ceiling. "My siblings and I didn't have much when we were growing up, so we had to make our own fun. We managed to pick up a copy of the rules of chess up from somewhere or someone, and while we could never get a proper set in those days we were able to make our own pieces, so to speak. It was something to do to pass the time." You tilt your head back down to look back at Flandre. "What about you? You seem to be pretty good at this game. Is it something you like to play a lot?"
"Not really," Flandre says with a shake of her head. "Sister likes to play this game a lot, and she taught me the rules so that we could play together. She's a lot better than I am."
"Yeah, I bet. She seems like she considers herself to be the chess master type, at the very least. But it sounds like you like this game because it's something your sister likes, right?" Flandre nods. "So what kinds of things do you like? It would be much better if I knew that for next time we meet."
"I don't like anything." Flandre says as her form tightens up, regressing back to the fetal position that you first saw her in. "I don't deserve to like anything."
Hoo boy, it looks like we might be getting closer to the root of the issue here. "Why would you say that? I'm pretty sure most people to have at least something to focus their time on, and you're not an exception."
"Yes I am." Flandre says in a quiet voice. "I'm a monster, not a person, so it doesn't matter what I do or don't like, it just matters that I don't hurt anyone."
You have to pause to take in what you just heard. This little girl thinks she's a monster? ?I'm pretty sure that neither your sister nor I think that you're a monster, Flandre."
"It doesn't matter," she says in return, "It doesn't matter what anyone else tells me or what anyone else says, even if it's Sister. I'm a monster, and I deserve to be locked up."
Alright, so she seems to have a real bad case of self-depression going on here. There has to be a reason, though; people don't just label themselves as monsters for no good reason. "Why do you deserve to be locked up Flandre?"
"Because I did something unforgivable."
"And what was that?"
The moment you ask that question, Flandre starts trembling. Her eyes seem to empty themselves out even more, and you can see the grip she has on her legs tighten. "I - don't remember."
"I SAID I DOn't REMEMBER!"
The world around starts to rumble. Everything in the room shakes along with Flandre's voice, and you feel like you are being pulled in multiple directions at once. "it's alright! You don't have to remember, you don't have to remember, just calm down!"
A few moments later you can see Flandre relax a bit, and the world around you stops shaking. You let out a breath that you didn't even know you were holding in. So, that just happened. Note to self, it's probably not a good idea to upset this girl if at all possible.
"You see?" Flandre asks, "You shouldn't be around me. No one should. I'm not safe to be around, so you should just leave me alone, alright?"
You take in her words and think them over. it's true that you weren't expecting? whatever that was to happen but at the same time you know that she didn't do it on purpose. With that in mind you walk over to Flandre and stand over her. She flinches away in fear as you reach out for her, closing her eyes as she prepares to be hit, or worse. When she realizes that all you are doing is giving her hair an affectionate ruffling, all she can do is look at you in surprise.
"You're going to have to do a lot worse than that to make me think you're a monster kiddo." Those words seem to drain the surprise right out of Flandre, returning her to her melancholy moodiness. You can't help but feel a little sad at seeing that. Whatever this thing she did is, it must really be bringing her down. Still, you don't want to go after the truth of the matter until you know what the heck that rumbling was, and whether or not it will be an obstacle in getting the information you need.
You ponder over what to do next. Despite the fact that Flandre is clearly suppressing something in her memory, and the fact that whatever that memory is seems to cause some really weird stuff to happen if she tries to remember it, you can't help but feel like you made at least a little bit of progress here. You managed to get her to open up a little towards you, and you think that letting her beat you at chess was a good stepping stone to her recovery. (Although to be fair you didn't so much let her win as she just beat the pants off you outright) The question is, where do you go from here? Asking Remilia would probably be the best way to get some new information on what's going on with Flandre. You remember that there was something that she was very reluctant to talk about, and it might be time to press her on that.
Then again, there is merit to waiting until you're a little bit more familiar with the people here before you jump headfirst into their private lives. Even if it's important for the job, it feels like you would be drudging up some dark secrets, so it might be worth it to try and earn their trust a bit more before you ask anything else.
Speaking of which, it might behoove you to get a little bit more familiar with the premises if you are going to be coming in and out of here on a regular basis. You're pretty sure that Sakuya would give you a tour if you were to ask, but there is always merit in finding things out via your own methods. You're pretty sure no one would object to you walking around the grounds of the mansion, so long as you could find your way back out of this place. And didn't you pass a library earlier? Might be worth it to retrace your steps and see what that's all about.
Of course, you don't have to stick around here any longer than you have to at this point now that you've gotten to know Flandre. You do have at least one other issue, the job offer from Nitori, hanging over your head, and it might be better to divert your attention back to that for the time being.
[ ] Let's go confront Remilia and ask her what she knows now. [ ] Let's just give Remilia a status update, no need to confront her just yet. [ ] Let's see if Sakuya can't give us a tour of this place. -[ ] Hold up, better idea; let's see if we can't get Flandre to give us a tour. <Requires Flandre Accompaniment> [ ] Let's take a walk around the mansion grounds. [ ] Let's sneak into the library, see if we can't find anything interesting in there. [ ] We've probably spent enough time around here for now. Let's head off for the night and come back another time
And regardless of what you choose, you need to decide whether or not Flandre should accompany you during this time. She'll obviously need to come with you if she decides it's alright to give you a tour, and it's probably not wise to leave the mansion with her in tow without at least letting Remilia know where you're going, but aside from that?
[ ] Bring Flandre with you [ ] Leave her be for now
Not quite sure how to word it and fit in with what Conner has seen, but I'd think something in the vein of 'That power, when I pressed you on [the incident], you did something terrible with that?' then, 'Even if you did, it seems like you didn't mean to. So, this power is something to be very careful with. But in the end, you don't want to hurt people - and that, more then anything, means you're not a monster.'
The key part here is the end providing a simple path that she can believe that shows she's not a monster along with the reassurance to allow her to reach that conclusion despite her self-loathing. There will be plenty more baggage to overcome, but something like this would be the most direct way to get her to stop beating herself up over it.
The downside if this succeeds, is that Flandre is likely to wind up more or less emotionally dependent on Conner. Reducing that dependence, without breaking her again is the hard part, and is a problem for down the road.
So, [x] Let's take a walk around the mansion grounds. --[x] Bring Flandre with you and give the speech during the walk, once she's had some time to calm down.
[X] Hold up, better idea; let's see if we can't get Flandre to give us a tour.
You get the feeling that you are going to be spending a good amount of time in this mansion, so figuring out your way around this place is probably a high priority. You're pretty sure that you can get Sakuya to show you around, so you get up from your position to leave and-
Wait? maybe we can go a step further with this line of action. You turn back to Flandre as the idea forms on your mind. "So anyways, I think that learning what this place is all about is our next step of action here. Would you mind showing me around your home, Flandre?"
The young girl blinks. "Sakuya would probably be a better choice for that than me, I don't usually leave my room that often?"
"Your sister wants us to spend time together, and I want to learn the layout of the mansion. It seems to me like we could be accomplishing both of these things at once."
Flandre considers this for a moment, then slowly gets up and walks towards her bedroom door. You follow silently behind as she make her way out into the hall. Soon enough, the two of you are walking back up the stairs which you had descended earlier, and a few moments later you emerge to find yourself back in the indistinguishable hallways. Something seems a bit off to you, though.
"This doesn't feel right. I could have sworn that the area around the stairs looked different than this."
Flandre gives a small shrug. "There's some sort of magic in place that allows the mansion to change its shape and size or something. Finding your way around here is more a matter of knowing where you want to go, rather than knowing how to get your way around."
This is news to you. "Wait, are you telling me that the mansion is reading my thoughts right now?"
Flandre gives you another small shrug. "I don't really know; the explanation I was given was really complicated. You should ask Sakuya-" Flandre pauses for a moment to reconsider, "You should ask Patchouli if you want a better explanation."
"Patchouli? Who's that?" You ask.
"She's the mansion's librarian and tutor. She's laid down a number of spells to help Sister out around here, so she probably knows the answer on how the mansion knows where you want to go."
The idea that the building around you might be recording your every thought is somewhat disconcerting to you, so you decide that it might be prudent to seek this ?Patchouli? person out first and foremost. "I'm guessing that a librarian would probably be found in the library, right?" Flandre responds with a small nod. "Mind making that our first stop, then?"
A few minutes of walking later and the two of you are standing in front of the large library doors you saw before. Flandre walks up and gives the doors a simple knock, which seems to trigger some sort of commotion on the other side. After a few moments the door opens a crack to let someone pop their head out. Specifically, it's a cute looking girl with long red hair and batwings sticking out of the temples on her head. "May I help you?" She asks.
Flandre turns to look at you expectantly, and for once you decide to just go ahead and outright ignore the oddity that's standing right in front of you. (Your landlady has a horn sticking out of her head, so it's not that difficult) ?Hey there, can I assume that you're Ms. Patchouli, the librarian? Would it be alright if Flandre and I took a look around the library?"
The redhead gives a small giggle. "Apologies, but I'm just Lady Patchouli's assistant, and I must insist that the two of you come back another time, as the actual Patchouli is in the middle of a delicate procedure, and does not wish to be interrupted right now." Giving a small bow to the two of you, the girl pops back into the library and closes the door behind her.
Flandre just gives a small shrug and starts walking down the hallway again. "So much for that," you mutter as you follow along. "What kind of live in tutor/librarian has an assistant, anyways?" Part of you is considering going with your original plan and sneaking inside out of curiosity, but right now Flandre is your priority, and she doesn't seem that interested in the library. (Or anything, really) You decide that following her lead is probably what you need to do right now, so you put the library out of your mind and continue along without protest.
For the most part, the rest of the tour is pretty low key. The mansion is large, but there isn't really too much of note that you hadn't already seen. The kitchen, for example, looks to be fairly large and equipped to provide food for a number of people. Flandre notes that this is the place where you can usually find Sakuya milling around if she isn't attending to Remilia, although you don't manage to catch her while the two of you are in there.
The dining room is enormous, and more or less what you would expect to see in a mansion like this. it's a large room whose tall, crimson walls grant it a grim atmosphere. The table is large enough to seat a whole party, though you can tell that only the far side of it has seen any wear of use as of late, making you wonder if a table like that is even worth whatever upkeep it might have.
Flandre points down one hallway, noting that it's where her sister tends to reside most of the time. You recognize that it contains the sitting room you were in earlier, and Flandre says that Remilia's office and bedroom are in that vicinity as well. The tour doesn't actually head in that direction, however, since neither Flandre nor you are quite in the mood to encounter Remilia at this point.
After mentioning that the rest of the mansion more or less consists of guest rooms and storage space, the two of you make your way outside to take a small walk around the grounds, with Flandre finding a flashlight for you to carry beforehand. it's pitch black outside, yet Flandre doesn't seem to have any trouble finding her way around. Despite the darkness of your surroundings, you once again notice the sad state of the shrubbery and plant life surrounding the mansion, which you point out to Flandre.
"We used to have a groundskeeper on staff," Flandre tells you with a hint of sadness as she looks at a couple of long-dead flowers. "She was really good at taking care of everything in the gardens, and she was? nice."
"Nice?" you ask.
"Well? she was always so full of energy, and would always try to play with me and talk to me, things like that. Sister wasn't too fond of her, but Sakuya seemed to like her a lot." The blonde girl lets out a small sigh. "I wish she was still around sometimes."
"What happened to her?" You ask.
Flandre shrugs. "One day she just left, saying that there was something that she needed to look into. Sister says that the gardener still owes her a debt and that she'll be back when she's done, but one way or another it's been years since we've seen her. Sakuya tries to spruce things up now and then but she's not very good at that kind of stuff."
"Sounds like you miss this gardner girl, huh?"
Another small smile appears on Flandre's lips. "Yeah, she was never afraid to talk to a monster like me."
Alright, this is starting to get a bit old, and you've only known this girl for an hour or so. "Flandre, you're not a monster." Flandre just shrugs in return, and you rub your face while you try to collect your thoughts. "Look, I don't know what you did, or even what you think you did, but unless you were actually trying to hurt someone when you did it you can't think of yourself too poorly, y?know? As long as you are careful, then-"
"Please stop," Flandre says as she turns back towards you, the broken look reappearing in her eyes. "You don't know anything about what happened, so I don't want to hear any of your interpretations. What I did was unforgivable, and even if that wasn't the case I'm just not safe to be around. I know you're just trying to help, but there is nothing you can do."
"Gah!" you exclaim as you throw your hands in the air. "You're giving up before you even try! I know you don't want to bring yourself down like this, and I know that you don't want to be a burden on your sister either, but we aren't going to get anywhere if you aren't willing to even try!"
To her credit, Flandre doesn't even flinch at your outburst. "That's why I'm out here with you, Mr. Conner. Sis thinks there is something you can do to help me, and I believe in her." She begins walking back towards the doors to the mansion, and you follow as best as you can. "I've heard a lot of words from a lot of people, and I no matter what they say it doesn't seem to change my outlook, or the control I have over what happened long ago."
As the two of you walk inside, Flandre turns to you with a small smile. "I want you to be able to help me more than anything in the world, Mr. Conner, but after seeing everything Sister has thrown at me fail I just don't have any hope left." Her gaze shifts to the floor as her smile disappears. "I'm sorry, but I don't think that there is anything you can do for me. You should just go and forget that you ever came here in the first place."
You don't even hesitate a second. You walk over to that little girl, kneel down next to her and lift her chin up so that her surprised eyes are gazing at you once again. "If you had really had no hope left at all," you say, "you wouldn't have cooperated with me in the first place. I can promise you this; as long as you don't give up, I won't either, even if things seem like they are falling apart all around us. That is my promise to you, Lady Flandre."
The girl just stares at you, processing over your words as you wonder whether or not you went a bit over the top there. For less than a second, you think you can see that some of your words managed to get through to her, but just as quickly she seems to revert to her normal state. "If you say so," Flandre says as she breaks the gaze and starts walking away. "But I think that I'm done for the night if it's alright with you. I'm going to head back to my room for now, alright?"
You consider whether or not this is the best place to end things for now, but a look from Flandre tells you that she's probably at her limit for conversation at this point. "I suppose that's enough for one night then. I'll see you later, alright?" Flandre gives you a small nod before walking further into the mansion on her own.
That leaves you standing in the mansion's foyer by your lonesome. You get the feeling that you're more or less done here for now, at least in regards to Flandre. Your mind wanders back to the library, but you honestly don't have any real reason to go there right now outside of curiosity. (Interrupting the librarian's ?delicate procedures? doesn't sound like a good way to make a first impression, either) At this point, the question is whether or not you want to try to interrogate Remilia for more information or if you should just call it a night and head back home for now.
[ ] Let's go talk with Remilia and see if we can't get some answers. [ ] Let's just call it a night and head on out.
>> 56637 Empty praise is the best kind of praise, since it means that I get to fill in what it was that you were actually praising me about. Hooray!
[x] Let's just call it a night and head on out.
You just met these people, so pushing them for personal information probably isn't going to get you very far right until you've earned more of their trust. For now it's probably best if just hold onto your questions and see if you can't make it back home at a reasonable hour, and maybe put together some sort of ?battle plan? together before your next visit.
You turn around towards the main doors and HOLY CRAP find that Sakuya seems to have snuck up behind you when you weren't paying attention. "Are you leaving the mansion, Mr. Conner?" She asks with her calm smile as you recover from the shock. You give her a nod, and she seems to perk up even more, if that's even possible. "Then please follow me," she asks, and promptly begins walking down one of the many hallways surrounding you. Deciding that it couldn't hurt to play along, you quickly catch up to the maid and begin following along behind her.
Soon enough, Sakuya leads you into a large garage, and directs you towards a modest looking black car. "The mistress has instructed me to give you rides to and from the mansion, so long as you do not abuse the privilege. Please, step inside."
You have to take a moment to let this sink in. You're being offered a free shuttle service, just to watch over someone's little sister? Granted, it will make coming to and from the mansion a heck of a lot easier, but who in the world sets up a shuttle service for a glorified babysitter? Still, you aren't one to look gift horses in the mouth, so while you puzzle this over you get into the front passenger seat. Sakuya climbs into the driver's seat, and after asking for directions the two of you are off.
It takes around twenty minutes to get to your apartment, and it probably would have taken longer if there were any traffic out this late. The trip was more or less uneventful; you spent most of the ride mulling over what happened today. Sakuya didn't seem to mind, and let you think in silence as she drove you back.
As the car pulls up next to your apartment, you signal for Sakuya to stop. After getting out of the car, you thank Sakuya for the ride and make your way towards the apartment door. Naturally, Sakuya blinks into existence in front of you before you can make any headway on that front.
"Please wait a moment, Mr. Conner," Sakuya says as she fishes out a cell phone and begins pressing buttons on it. After a few moments, she hands the device that looks very similar to your own cell phone over to you. Actually?
"Sakuya, is this my cell phone?" You ask as you fish around in your pockets just to double check. Sure enough, your phone seems to be missing from your pockets. "Did you frisk me when I wasn't paying attention?!?"
Sakuya just beams at you. "I've taken the liberty of adding both my own and the mistress? phone numbers to your contacts. If you need a ride back to the mansion, please let me know and I will do my best to accommodate you."
"-ok, I should really press you more on how you managed to take this off me without my noticing, but why didn't you include Flandre's number on here as well? It seems like that would be a bit more useful to me that Remilia's number right now."
"Lady Flandre does not have a phone, so I was unable to provide you with a number by which you can contact her by."
"That's probably something we're going to have to fix then. Now that I've asked that, do you mind telling me how you managed to take this off my without my noticing!?!"
Unfortunately, Sakuya isn't standing in front of you anymore, and is in fact back in the car's driver seat. "Goodbye Mr. Conner! Have a lovely night!" Without waiting for a response the car screeches forward and before you can think of anything to yell back the car is gone.
Standing there outside your building, you have half a mind to use the number Sakuya just gave you to give her a piece of your mind, but in the end you figure that probably won't accomplish anything. Throwing your arms in the air, you decide to head back inside for the night.
As you enter your apartment you let your sidebag drop to the floor and open up the envelope that Remilia gave to you earlier. A thorough count shows that the envelope contains $2,500, more than you would have expected for a job like this. You put the envelope back in the wallet and toss the whole thing inside your pillowcase along with the job offer. Uncomfortable though it might be, it's the best way to keep Suika from getting at it during the night. At the very least, she's learned that trying to get under there is a surefire way to wake you up, so she usually doesn't try for it unless she's desperate.
Leaning back on your mattress, you ponder over the events that occurred today. You managed to insult a foreign dignitary who then tried to cause you bodily harm, had a gauntlet of some sort seemingly grafted to your hand, caused Aya no measure of distress and ended up getting pulled into a babysitting job that is most certainly more complicated than it appears on the surface. Not bad for a single day's work. You fall onto your mattress and close your eyes, letting sleep come over you as the day's events mesh together in your mind.
Waking up late the next morning, you feel something lying on your chest, making it a bit hard to breath. As you become more alert, a sense of dread falls upon you as you realize what this weight on your chest probably means. As you open your eyes, you can't help but groan as you notice that not only is Suika the one who is lying in a drunken mess on top of you, but that at some point during the night she seemingly broke your door off its hinges to get inside. Not only that, but she seems to have trashed the place in what was no doubt a search for more alcohol. (How she managed to do that without waking you up you'll never know)
Groaning, you get out of bed, causing Suika to fall to the floor. You check to see whether or not she managed to get into your pillowcase stash, noting with relief that it's secure; Suika must have passed out over you before she actually managed to reach your hiding spot. (Though you do note that it's probably time to find another place to hide your things if she was determined to get this far) Like usual, Suika just keeps on snoring as you drag her across the floor, open your window, and toss her out by her horns. Your aim is spot on, and she hits the trash piled outside, causing a cat that was investigating the trash to let out a yowl of surprise. (Sorry for that, kitty) Suika doesn't seem to notice in the least and just keeps on snoring away. Well at the very least, the Yuugi patented method of Suika removal seems to be as effective as ever. Now if only she could devise a way to keep the girl from invading your place in the first place.
Shaking your head, you take a look around your room. You don't have much stuff, so cleanup probably won't take too long, but something will have to be done about that door one way or another.
Current Inventory: [X] Sidebag (7/10 slots occupied) -[X] Ball of Fever (1 slot) -[X] Wand of shock (1 slot) -[X] Notepad and pens (1 slot) -[X] Rope (1 slot) -[X] Rope hook (2 slots) -[x] Screwdriver kit <1 slot>
[X] Utility Knife (holstered) [X] Wallet (Pocketed, $480 + $2,500 for the Flandre job) [X] Cell phone (Pocketed) [X] Key Ring <Key to your apartment> (Pocketed)
Contacts: Rinnosuke Nazrin Remilia Sakuya Hina <Business>
To begin with, you should probably clean up from Suika's rampage a little bit. [ ] Add or remove items from your bag and holster as you see fit.
After that, you need to figure out what to do with the door.
[ ] We should probably let Ms. Kurodani know what happened before taking any action. At the very least, she'd probably want to know of any damages before you try and fix them. [ ] Ms. Kurodani is probably still feeling under the weather, so it's probably best if we just try to fix the door ourselves.
And finally, what's our plan of action for the day?
[ ] Let's go look into what that gauntlet might be. -[ ] Maybe we missed something at the library. -[ ] Maybe Rinnosuke can give us a lead. -[ ] Loathe that you might be to go to him, there is that information merchant? [ ] Let's respond the job offer. We don't want to keep them waiting. [ ] Let's see if we can't find any more job offerings at the Hakurai shrine. [ ] Let's spend the day making a plan of action for visiting Flandre tonight. [ ] Let's just take the day off. No reason we have to work ourselves to death every day.
[x] We should probably let Ms. Kurodani know what happened before taking any action. At the very least, she'd probably want to know of any damages before you try and fix them. [x] Let's go look into what that gauntlet might be. -[x] Loathe that you might be to go to him, there is that information merchant?
[x] Replace screwdriver kit and rope hook with laptop and laptop charger. [x] Ms. Kurodani is probably still feeling under the weather, so it's probably best if we just try to fix the door ourselves. [x] Let's go look into what that gauntlet might be. -[x] Maybe Rinnosuke can give us a lead.
Maybe Flandre will like laptop? It's more useful for our current plans, anyway.
[X] Ms. Kurodani is probably still feeling under the weather, so it's probably best if we just try to fix the door ourselves. [X] Let's go look into what that gauntlet might be. -[X] Loathe that you might be to go to him, there is that information merchant?
Considering Suika hangs out around here quite often, broken doors must be business as usual.
[x] We should probably let Ms. Kurodani know what happened before taking any action. At the very least, she'd probably want to know of any damages before you try and fix them. [x] Let's respond the job offer. We don't want to keep them waiting.
[x] We should probably let Ms. Kurodani know what happened before taking any action. At the very least, she'd probably want to know of any damages before you try and fix them. [x] Let's respond the job offer. We don't want to keep them waiting.
I'm calling the vote for not switching any inventory, reporting the damages first and foremost, and for looking into the gauntlet via shady information dealer. Update will hopefully post within the next day or two.
[x] We should probably let Ms. Kurodani know what happened before taking any action. At the very least, she'd probably want to know of any damages before you try and fix them. [x] Let's go look into what that gauntlet might be. -[x] Loathe that you might be to go to him, there is that information merchant?
As you do your best to get what little possessions you have in order, you try to figure out what your plans for the day should be. In the end, Aya's worry from the previous day comes back to haunt you a bit, and you decide that you should probably see if you can figure out anything about the gauntlet that you put on. The only problem is that you really don't have any sort of leads on where to start on that. You could always head back to the library, but since you don't have any clue what the symbol might mean it seems unlikely that you would be able to parse through the stacks with any sort of efficiency. Suke comes to mind as another alternative, but his ability only works in regards to inanimate items, and since the gauntlet has seemingly fused itself to you it's somewhat doubtful that he would be able to get a clear reading on it, or anything at all for that matter.
Of course, when it comes to information there is one source that you know to be reliable, but? ugh, is it really worth it to go and see that guy? You rack your brain for any alternative options, but in the end you can't think of anywhere else to go that would be able to get you what you need, so you resign yourself to paying that man a visit.
Still, that's something that you'll have to get to in a bit, since your first and foremost priority is getting the door to your room fixed, and that means going to see Ms. Kurodani. In all honesty you're a little bit hesitant about putting her through the trouble since she's got more than enough problems to deal with on a day to day basis as it is, but you know that she would be very upset if you took it upon yourself to fix one of her doors without even letting her know.
Leaning the broken door against one of the walls in your apartment, you make your way towards the apartment Kisume and her mother share. As you approach, you can hear a racking cough coming from down the hall, making you feel like a horrible person for bringing this poor woman even more work. You can't think of a single time that you've encountered Ms. Kurodani where she wasn't afflicted with some sort of terrible disease. It never proves to be anything too debilitating, but considering that she's a single mother trying to raise her daughter in a city this chaotic you can only wonder where she gets the strength to get up each morning. Kisume certainly tries her best to lend as much support as she can, but there's only so much a single middle school student can do. it's because of all this that you've never felt jealous about the fact that Yuugi lets the pair live here rent free, only asking that Ms. Kurodani perform repairs and maintenance to the building in exchange for living here. (You leave those kinds of feelings to Parsee, since she seems to have more than enough envy to go around)
Speaking of the old hag, rounding the corner you see your tall landlady standing in front of Ms. Kurodani's apartment, smirking as if there was nothing wrong with the world. Hearing you approach, the two of them turn to face you. Yuugi is dressed in her usual slacker attire, while Ms. Kurodani is wearing her usual brown dress that poofs up near her knees with a matching black shirt and pair of shoes. A yellow ribbon decorates the dress, giving you a distinct impression of fall. The weak looking mother gives you a smile as you approach. "it's been a while since I've seen you last, Conner. How have things been with you?"
"I've been alright," you answer, trying to put off your request for just a bit longer. "You're looking? alright, though I'm hoping that cough I just heard isn't indicative of your actual state of health."
"Oh now don't you start this up again!" Ms. Kurodani says as she puffs up her cheeks, "it's bad enough that I have Kisume fussing over me all day, I don't need you to start as well!"
"Yeah Conner, back off a bit will ya?" Yuugi says with a grin plastered over her face, "A little alcohol and that cold will clear right up, isn't that right?"
"Er, maybe later Yuugi." Ms. Kurodani says hesitantly. "In any case, don't worry about me Conner, I'm doing fine."
You give a small shrug. "If you say so, Ms. Kurodani."
"How many times do I have to tell you not to call me that, Conner?" Ms. Kurodani asks with disapproval. "I'm only a few years older than you after all! Please, just call me Yamame!"
"Ah, sorry," you say with a slightly apologetic bow. "it's just that, y?know, it feels like your so much more above me in terms of experience, and well?"
"None of that, now," she says with a wave of her hand, "you don't want me feeling any older than I actually am, now do you?"
"Tsk tsk, Conner," Yuugi grins as she downs another shot from her bottle, "You should know better than to make a woman think about her age."
"Yeah, I'm a real villain alright," you say with a sarcastic roll of your eyes, but it only takes a moment for you to feel like an actual bad guy for what you're about to say. "Speaking of which, I have something you two aren't going to like to hear?"
The two women freeze, look at each other, and then turn back to you with apprehension on their faces. "Suika?" Yamame asks, trepidation riding in her voice. When you give a nod in response Yamame only groans while Yuugi's grin transition's into a scowl.
"That little shit." Yuugi says as she hands Yamame her bottle. "What did she do this time?"
"Tore my door clean off its hinges it looks like," you say, turning back towards your apartment. "She ended up passed out on top of me when I woke up, so I took the standard action and threw her into the trash pile outside."
"When I get done with her she's going to wish that waking up in the trash is the worst thing that happens to her today." Yuugi says as she marches down the hall, smacking a balled up fist into her open hand. "I'm going to beat the value of my tenant's privacy into every inch of her fucking little body, and after that-"
You turn your attention away from the unsurprising rampage your landlady is creating and back to Ms. Kurodani, who is surprisingly taking a shot out of the bottle she was handed. As she sets the bottle down with a small hiccup, she turns to you with resolve in her eyes. "Alright, why don't we go ahead and see what we can do about that door, hm?" Before you can respond she steps into her room, grabs her toolbox and heads towards your apartment. You can only shake your head and follow as you hope this won't be too taxing on the poor woman.
The good news is that you needn't have worried. Suika must have been feeling a bit lazy last night, due to the fact that your door was actually still in one piece and not a pile of splinters on the floor. While it probably won't hold more than a few more days against Suika in its current condition, Yamame's skill as an expert carpenter were more than enough to let the two of you get it standing up and attached to your doorframe once more.
"That girl," Yamame says with a sigh as she tests the lock once more, "I will never understand why Yuugi lets her have so much free reign around here."
The two of you feel a slight rumbling coming from outside, and you shake your head. "I don't think it's so much Yuugi giving her free reign as it is Yuugi being drunk out of her mind half the time, which tends to impair her judgment somewhat."
"And it doesn't help that she now has Parsee to distract her all the time these days either, does it?" Yamame says with a small giggle, "Though I suppose that I can't fault her on that." Satisfied with her work, Yamame steps back with a look of pride on her face. "Alright, I think that should more or less do it! I'll have to talk with Yuugi about installing a new door if possible, but *COUGH*COUGH*HACK*?
You run over and give Yamame some support as she breaks down into another coughing fit. With a sigh, you lead her back to her apartment, hoping that she'll at least try to take it easy until Kisume can get back. As you walk past the window, you can't help but glance outside. Suika seems to have woken up, and is now retaliating against Yuugi as hard as she can, seemingly enjoying every time she both manages to land a blow and every time she gets hit. You can also tell that while Yuugi might still be royally pissed, she's beginning to warm up to the fight as well. A crater has formed under the now-grappling women, and you can see a few pedestrians are fleeing the scene as quickly as they can.
You can only shake your head as you continue on towards the Kurodani's apartment. "And some people wonder why the rent here is so cheap," you can't help but mutter as you make your way down the hall.
After you escort Yamame back to her apartment and listen to her say that she's fine at least ten times, you get cleaned up, throw on some clothes, make your way past the warzone outside (a feat in and of itself) and get on your way. Your destination for today is in the slummier parts of town, and while you wouldn't exactly call the area a wretched hive of scum and villainy you'd still do best to watch your back as you move around. Fortunately, it doesn't take you too long to reach your destination, and soon enough you find yourself walking towards the door of the only watering hole worth mentioning on the darker side of the City's streets.
Standing outside, you wonder if it's actually worth it to be going to this man. In a way, you consider him to be something similar to a filibuster; everyone hates it when the other side uses his services, but he's too valuable of a tool to get rid of in case they find themselves in the same position. Still, if you weren't able to think of a lead on the way here, then you've probably got nothing left to loose. Steeling yourself, you push the wooden door open and walk inside the Cantina.
You can only shudder as you hear the music playing in the background. You have nothing against it personally, but does the owner have to play it on a loop every hour of every day? It gets a little grating.
As your eyes adjust to the gloomy, dim atmosphere, you take a look around. The bar itself is as dingy as you would expect, with smoky-yellow colored walls, a few run down pool tables and shadows at every turn. There are also a number of musclebound men lounging around the place, and when you enter every eye turns to you. After a few moments they seem to lose interest and go back to what they are doing. But you know that you're still being watched. Still, so long as you don't try to cause any trouble for them, they probably won't try to cause any for you. Probably.
You walk with purpose towards the back corner of the den, and note with relief that your intended target is not currently occupied; you won't have to spend a moment more in this place than you need to. You take a seat across from him in the booth he is occupying, waiting patiently as he finished writing something down. After taking a sip from his beer, the man turns to face you.
Despite the fact that you need what this man can give you, you have always felt a little creeped out by this man's appearance. His face is long and thin, and his black eyes are huge, much larger than you would think could ever thing possible. His ears are like plates attached to each side of his head, and his mouth looks more like a snout than a pair of lips. And you could never prove this but here in the shade of the bar you could swear that the man's skin has a sickly green taint. Even his clothes weird you out, consisting of a brown vest over a one-piece green jumpsuit. If you didn't know better, you could swear to yourself that this person is an alien.
"What can I do for you today?" Greedo says in that weird voice of his, making you feel like a synthesizer is supplementing what he is saying. You repress a shudder as you hold up your right hand, showing the information broker the symbol emblazoned on there. "A little while ago, this showed up. I have no idea what it is, and I'm hoping that you might have a lead."
Greedo only takes a glance at it before shaking his head. "Sorry kid, I can't say that I've ever seen that symbol before; any idea on how it got there in the first place?"
You hesitate to give out information just like that, but decide that in this case there probably isn't too much to lose in letting Greedo know if it can get you answers. "I ended up putting on some sort of glove, and it kinda maybe merged with my hand."
Greedo lets out a screechy laugh which causes you to flinch. "Still doing stupid things to this day, eh kid?" he says with a grin as he leans forward on the table. "You wouldn't have happened to find that glove while you were wondering around in the Lost Woods, eh?"
You can't help but flinch again. "Heard about that already, huh?"
"Half the local net is up in arms about the weirdo who insulted the Lunarian Princess!" Greedo laughs, "I'm pretty sure nobody there actually recognized you enough to spread your name around, but you certainly know how to cause a scene."
You can feel your cheeks growing hotter as this strange man laughs at your misfortune. "Look, can you just keep an eye out for what this symbol might mean? I'm kind of paranoid that it's going to try to shock me to death or something."
"Heh," Greedo laughs, but you can't help but notice that he's now watching your right hand somewhat nervously. "Sure, let me just get a quick picture." Quick as a flash, Greedo takes out a camera and snaps a picture of the emblem on your hand. "I'll have the boys keep an eye and ear out; if I hear anything I'll make sure to contact you." Satisfied with how the image came out, he just as quickly puts it back from wherever he got it in the first place. (You don't want to know)
You lean back as you take a moment to collect your thoughts. You're a bit disappointed that Greedo didn't have any information on hand, but at the very least you've got a good information network looking into this for you. Also, as shady as he might be, Greedo does hold himself to a code of honor of sorts; he won't charge you a cent unless he actually finds out some information about the emblem, and at this point any lead would be a good one. Still, you had better be able to pay up once he has the information ready. If Greedo has to make an effort to get you some information you had better believe he'll be expecting payment, even if it's something you already know.
Still, that's a bridge to cross another day, so you consider whether or not you are ready to leave at this point. While you may have finished looking into the gauntlet, there are still some other things that you might want to look into?
******************************** GREEDO's INFORMATION EMPORIUM! ********************************
Greedo knows a lot of things, but every piece of information he can give you comes with a price. However, despite the? questionable means that he uses in obtaining said information, you can be sure that the price he is asking for most likely correlates to how "good? or ?detailed? the information might be. (Results not guaranteed)
Before we start transacting, however, why don't I go ahead and let you in on a few things that Conner already knows, just so that you can be in the loop. Infodump incoming!
--- THE CITY - As you have probably guessed, the city is situated on a very large island (around the size of Rhode Island, maybe?) that has a single gargantuan mountain as its center. The city itself is situated on the south end of the island along with the port, and while pretty much the entire island has been explored there are a lot of places that people tend not to frequent, such as the Lost Forest. The island is situated moderately north of the equator, meaning that the seasons tend to follow a temperate cycle, with vegetation to match.
GOVERNMENT - While the citizens of the city will always say that they live in an independent city-state, the truth is that there is no formal government on the island. The three families and various business interests hold most of the power, and while the downtown and resort areas tend to be at least somewhat civilized you can never know what might happen as you take a walk around town. Outside governments often try to intervene in the inner workings of the island, but so far no major power has attempted to control the area, mainly due to the lack of perceived risk and the convenience to settle shadier matters there.
THE THREE FAMILIES - There are three major clans that control pretty much everything on the island: The Tengu clan, the Kitsune clan, and the Tanuki clan. Conner has had dealings and/or run-ins with each of these groups, but so far none of them have perceived him as anything more than an annoyance as far as he knows. ---
Now that we've covered all that, what would you like to know? If there is nothing you are willing to pay to know, you can always [ ] Opt Out.
Current Cash on Hand: $480 + $2,500 that's reserved for the Flandre job
Topics of Interest
[ ] The State of the City - $20 [ ] The Three Families, General Information - $30 [ ] The Tengu Clan - $50 [ ] The Kitsune Clan - $50 [ ] The Tanuki Clan - $50 [ ] The Lunarians - $35 [ ] The Fairies - $10 [ ] Remilia Scarlet - $30 [ ] The Nitori Corporation - $40 [ ] <Other Topics> ? Varied
(Note that Greedo also pays for good information; if you let him in on some info that's hard to find, rare, or else very valuable there is a good chance that he will reward you very well. He will not, however, pay on the promise that you will be able to dig some information up for him; o information on hand means no money in your pocket. He also won't pay you if he already knows the information you're providing him with, although there are rumors that he can play a mean bluffing game.)
[X] The Three Families, General Information - $30 [X] The Fairies - $10 [X] Remilia Scarlet - $30 [X] The Nitori Corporation - $40
You tap your fingers on the table in front of you, sorting through the things you want to ask. "Alright, I have a few more things that I'd like to ask."
"Shoot." Greedo says as he takes another sip of his beer.
"For starters, I'd like the basics on what the families are up to. Nothing specific, mind you, but basic information like where they are keeping to these days, what their ?public? operations seem to be, and whether or not I've stepped on any toes that I don't know about."
Greedo nods, and after a few moments of contemplation he give you an answer. "Let's start with the last one first. As far as I know, you haven't caught any significant attention from any of the three families at this point in time, at least as far as I know. So long as you haven't made any personal enemies in any of the families, you're more or less off their radar."
You nod as Greedo continues. "In terms of location, the Tengu seem to be keeping to themselves somewhere up in the mountains, so it's unlikely that you'll encounter any of them unless they are specifically looking for you. The Kitsune are situating themselves in the downtown areas, and the Tanuki are mostly milling around here in the slums. In terms of operations, the Tengu don't seem to be up to anything in particular, the Tanuki are trying to expand their territory into the residential areas, and the Kitsune are focused on what I would call ?Public Works? projects, which at this point mainly seem to be keeping the Tanuki influence from expanding too much.
You are tempted to ask about what Greedo means when he says ?Public Works?, but you don't really feel that it's consequential to you, and you REALLY don't want to pay the premiums he charges for direct information about the family, so you decide to move on. "All right, I think that's enough information on the families; can you tell me what you know about the Nitori Corporation?"
"Are you looking for the basics on them, or should I go into a bit more detail?"
You think about it for a moment before answering. "I think I already know most of the basics on them already; they're an engineering company that was more or less revolutionized when the kid genius Nitori appeared and more or less took the company by storm. Since then, they've done really well for themselves, and have more or less revolutionized the field of? whatever it is they research."
"Their research tends to revolve around whatever the head engineer herself ends up working on at the time? Greedo says with another sip of beer, "and from what I've heard the current topic of the day seems to be energy related devices over there."
"Energy related? What does that mean?" You ask.
"I'm not sure," Greedo says as he pulls out a small folder, giving you glimpses of a few schematics, blueprints and other complicated looking figures. "Getting my hands on information is one thing, but being able to understand any of it is a whole ?nother story. Still, I'm guessing that you aren't really that interested in pilfering any of these, are you?" Greedo gives the folder a wave before he puts it away.
You give your head a shake. "Spot on there. What I need to know is whether or not the people there are trustworthy enough to work with, and whether or not there is anything I should look out for if I take a job from them."
Greedo lets out a laugh. "You mean besides the high chance of losing a limb? Word is that the head of engineering over there has been looking for someone tough enough to test some of her more radical inventions, and as luck would have it someone fitting the bill ended up coming in for an interview out of nowhere the day before yesterday. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that now, would you Conner?"
You let out a sigh, trying to conceal your surprise at the fact that Greedo knew that, as well as the sinking feeling you're getting about the position you were offered. So much for hoping for some simple work on that front. "You didn't actually answer my question, you know."
"Heh, I'm just joking around with you Conner." Greedo says, his grin not fading. "The thing you have to know about the company is that there are basically two halves to it. One the one hand, you have the engineers and the researchers, who are more or less caught up in their own little world of science. There is a chance that one of their inventions might maim you, of course, but for the most part they are as naïve and helpful as you might expect them to be. As long as the corporation doesn't cut off their funding, they aren't liable to cause any trouble for you."
"Lovely," you say with a small nod, "and the other half?"
"it's more or less what you would expect from a corporation that large; Greed, Corruption and Marketing," Greedo says redundantly," Right now they are still riding the wave of success that Nitori has brought them, so they are pushing everything they have into her research in the hopes that she'll keep churning out new designs. Of course, since they are more or less putting their eggs in one basket, you can be sure that they are keeping a very close eye on that girl to make sure that she stays on the right path. That Ms. Hina that you met the last time you were there are their eyes and ears on what Nitori actually does, so try not to step on her toes if you aren't trying to cause a scene."
Ms. Hina? She seemed like the kind of person to be all business when you first met her, but you wouldn't have expected her to be that high up the food chain. Then again she did manage to wrangle up a position for you in next to no time flat, so the information is probably reliable. You nod, ready to move on, but Greedo holds up a hand to stop you. "One last thing; I've heard some rumors that a good portion of the corporation's profits are being diverted to a third party."
"Wait, you mean someone is channeling money out of the company for their own ends?" You ask with a bit of surprise.
"That's what I just said." Greedo says, slightly annoyed. "Anyways, I haven't been able to figure out who is doing this channeling, or where the money is being diverted to, and I'm hoping that you can help me with that."
It takes a moment for what he's asking you to sink in. "I haven't actually decided whether or not I've taken the job yet, you know."
"And I'm not saying you have to," Greedo says, waving his hands in front of them in apology, "But if you do just so happen to take that job, and you are able to find out who is transferring that money where, I can assure you that you'll be well rewarded if you bring that information back to me, especially if you can bring me some physical proof."
"I'll keep that in mind," you say as you try and transition away from the topic. "Let's move on. Do you know anything about a woman named Remilia Scarlet?"
Greedo thinks for a moment, and then gestures over to one of the men lounging around the area. After he walks over, Greedo whispers into his ear, and the man walks into the back, soon returning with another folder which he hands to Greedo. The information merchant flips through a few of the pages before handing the file over to you. Opening it up, you see a few photos of both the young woman, as well as her mansion.
"Remilia Scarlet, owner of the Scarlet Devil Mansion. Age is unknown, but is generally thought to be at least a few centuries old. Her main occupation is-"
"Wait wait wait, centuries!?!" You exclaim, "From what I saw she looked no more than 20, 21 tops!"
"Ah, I suppose that would be the part that most people would focus on first." Greedo says with a small nod. "Go ahead and look at page three, will you?"
You flip through the folder and start reading the indicated page. "Appearance is that of a young woman, blue hair, blah blah blah? WAIT, WHAT!?!"
Greedo smirks. "Found what you're looking for?"
You put the folder down and glare at the man sitting across from you trying your best to keep your voice down. "Are you trying to tell me that this woman is a freaking vampire?"
"I'm not trying to tell you, I am telling you, all the information that I have on hand points to the fact that she's a vampire."
"A vampire," You reiterate, shaking your head, "I'm sorry, but I'm not sure if I can believe that."
"I don't really care if you believe it or not, but that's what my information tells me, so that's what I'm going to tell you."
You try to stare the man across from you down, but if there's one thing those eyes of his are good at it's staring contests. In the end, you let out a small scoff and back down. Even if his information is incorrect, this is probably just Greedo's best guess based on the information he has on hand. You can get to the bottom of this whole vampire business yourself later if you need to. You open the chart again and start flipping through it at random. "Fine, she's a vampire; I'll figure that one out later. Go on, if you would."
"Occupation is mostly that of your typical blueblood," Greedo continues with a small nod, "She's got a lot of money stored up from various investments she's made over the years, and she's a shareholder in a few companies that are currently doing pretty well. Her staff currently only consists of one woman, although she has had a second employee in the past that left. Aside from that, there are two other people that live with her.
You pause for a moment, wondering if you should correct him. If your night at the mansion was any indication, there should be at least three other people living in the mansion; Flandre, the Librarian, and that red-headed girl who claimed that she wasn't the librarian. You decide not to say anything after a moment; it's not like you owe it to Greedo to update his records for him.
"So aside from the whole ?vampire? thing, she's more or less your normal rich heiress, huh?"
"Pretty much," Greedo affirms, "I can't say that I have too much on her, since she and her housemates tend to keep to themselves and away from most of society. Most of what I have is actually a bit dated; would you want me to look into her some more for you?"
"That's alright; I think you've told me more than enough for now," you say as you hand the folder back to Greedo. Seriously, you've heard of some pretty weird magical stuff, but you're not going to just jump to conclusions and say she's a vampire without any solid evidence. Shaking your head, you sort through the rest of the topics you could ask Greedo about and decide that there isn't anything else that you really need to get from him at this point. However, before you decide to say your farewells and get up from the table a stray thought occurs to you. "One last thing before I go; do you know anything about the group calling themselves the fairies?"
"The fairies," Greedo snorts, "you mean that pack of rambunctious orphan girls who have been going around causing minor mayhem?"
"That's the group," you say, "although I wasn't aware that they were orphans."
"What they are is a nuisance," Greedo says, the annoyance on his face apparent, "They've been forcing themselves into places, taking small amounts of money and goods to help ?support the orphanage?. At first it was a bit cute, but lately they seem to be getting bolder and bolder."
"I'll say," you say in response, "Any idea if the families are going to do anything about this?"
"Not very likely," Greedo says, "Unless they start directly interfering with family business I doubt that anyone is going to take a hand against them because, y?know, orphans. And to be frank, I'm pretty sure that the orphanage itself is receiving support from one of the families, so chances are things will calm down once they put pressure on changing the orphanage's management, whenever that happens."
"Alright," you say with a sigh of annoyance, "Might be a good idea just to ignore them if I can then."
"Most likely," Greedo agrees. "Now then, is there anything else you need?" As you shake your head, that weird grin comes back to Greedo's face. "Well then, how about we talk payment, Mr. Conner?"
Eesh, $110 for a few pieces of information. Granted, you're feeling that it was money well spent, but if you don't get some more cash soon you'll have to start cutting into Flandre's fund if you want to eat, and you're pretty sure that Remilia would frown at that.
Speaking of eating, you can't remember the last time you had a bite to eat. it's time to go grab some lunch, and after that?
[ ] Let's continue looking into the gauntlet at the library. [ ] Let's head over to Suke's and see what him and Naz are up to. [ ] Let's go respond to Nitori's job offer. [ ] Let's rest up during the afternoon, and head back to see Flandre in the evening.
All right, it's time to bring this to a resolution, to make a decision that will affect you going forward for who knows how long, and that is surely going to be on your mind even after your choice has been set in stone. Gripping the paper that is the harbinger of your decisions, you raise your head and utter the words that will move your fate forward.
"I'll just have the burger and fries, with a soda on the side."
"About time you decided," Shizuha grumbles as she writes your order down and scuffles away towards the kitchen. You can only shake your head and wonder what on earth is keeping that girl down before settling back in your chair. As you look outside, your mind wanders to what's next on your schedule, and you decide that at this point it's probably high time to give Nitori an answer to their job offer.
Pulling out your cell phone, you dial up the number that Hina gave you. After a few rings, you hear a familiar voice on the other end.
"Hello?" Hina asks in an impassive voice.
"Ms. Hina, its Conner. I'm calling about the job offer, and-"
"Ah, good to hear from you Mr. Conner," Hina interrupts, her tone picking up a bit. "If this is about the job offer, then do you mind coming down to the campus when you next have the chance? I believe it would be better if we discussed it in person."
"Sure, that shouldn't be a problem," you say, "I'm in the middle of lunch right now, but I can probably head over to the campus in about an hour or so."
"Excellent. I'll get things settled for your arrival, then." With a click the line goes dead. Slightly bemused, you put your phone away and contemplate which way you should go on this offer. Before you know it, Shizuha has dropped the plate with your food on it right in front of you. Literally, the whole meal nearly fell off the plate, and it was only Minoriko threatening to cut Shizuha's pay that saved your drink from following suit.
--- (-$10 for lunch) ---
After a (mostly) uneventful lunch, you catch a ride towards the Nitori campus. You head back to the entrance you first entered though the last time you were here, but the receptionist re-directs you to the main building once you tell her who you are. While you wouldn't call it a skyscraper, the main building is at least 10 stories high, and the floors seem to alternate between mirrored windows and blocked-off concrete. it's an odd design that gives the building an almost eclectic look, but since you aren't here to comment on the architecture you just go on inside.
You let the receptionist know that you've arrived and take a seat. A few minutes later you can see Ms. Hina emerge from the elevator, dressed in a crimson business suite with a white pressed shirt underneath. (You note that she is still wearing those boots, however) Upon seeing you a smile appears on her face and she walks over to where you are sitting. "A pleasure to see you again, Mr. Conner," she says as she shakes your hand. "Would you mind coming up to my office? There is someone who wants to meet you in person."
"Of course," you say as you get up to follow the business woman to the elevator. Stepping inside, Hina presses the button for the top floor, and a few minutes later the two of you are walking into a sparsely decorated office containing a large desk, a cushy manager's chair and a few other chairs for the convenience of visitors.
Sitting in one of those is what appears to be a teenage girl. Her bright blue hair clashes against the green hat that she is wearing, and her blue dress is covered in various pockets, some of which look to be bulging against their seams. The dress itself is made of a rough-looking material, and it has what appears to be a couple of scorch marks burned onto it. Completing the ensemble is a white lab coat that is more or less in the same condition as the dress, and a pair of blue boots that are somewhat scuffed. The girl teeters back and forth in her chair, and a look of boredom dominates her face right up until you walk in with Ms. Hina. As soon as you do, the girl makes a quick jump and rotates the chair beneath her, landing her knees on the cushion with a look of excitement.
"Finally," She exclaims, "it's about time you got here! There's so much that we need to get to, and there's not enough time to get to it, so let's get going already!" The girl makes for the doorway, but is stopped in her place by Hina.
"Patience, Nitori, there are still a few things that we need to take care of before you can have him." Wait, Nitori? As in, THE Nitori? You knew that she was young, but you didn't think that she would look and act like a freaking high schooler!
"Aw come on, hurry it up!" Nitori says with a sulk as she marches back to her chair and sits with a huff. "The experiments aren't going to test themselves!"
"Quiet." Hina says as she takes a seat in the manager's chair, gesturing for you to follow suit. As you take a seat, Hina lays out a few official looking papers next to you. "I just need Mr. Conner here to sign a few documents in order to officiate his position here at the company, and once that's taken care of-"
"Hold on hold on hold on," you say, waving your hands in front of you, "I never said that I was going to take the position, did I?"
Both women look at you with surprise, and Nitori begins to glare at Hina imploringly. Hina clears her throat before she continues. "Mr. Conner, is there something about the position that's bothering you?"
Yuugi's advice rings in your head. If a normal person were to make a scene like this it would normally mean that they would be shown the door on the spot, but for some reason these women really seem to want you to sign on with them, with Nitori being the one who seems to be exerting the most pressure. "Look, I'm just not sure if I'm the kind of guy for a job like this. I tend to have a pretty busy schedule, and settling down in a 9-5 position just doesn't seem right to me."
"That won't be of any concern, Mr. Conner," Hina says without missing a beat, "The job has no strictly defined hours; you will instead be referring to Ms. Nitori here for your instructions, and your performance will be evaluated based on her recommendations. So long as she is satisfied with your work there will be no overt restrictions set on how you need to perform your job."
Now Greedo's words are echoing in your head. "So I will be working directly under Ms. Nitori here, then? What kind of things can I expect when I'm on the job?"
"Oh you know," Nitori says, trying her best not to look directly at you, "A little bit of rudimentary experimentation here, a bit of field-testing there, a couple of explosions to-" she cuts herself off as she realize what she just said. "Well, maybe not that many explosions." She says with a sheepish grin. When she see that your frown isn't fading she gives a small cough and tries to make herself shrink in her seat.
You just shake your head and turn back to Hina. "Alright, so the job is probably going to be a little difficult from time to time, which raises the matter of how you will be paying me for my troubles. I looked through the documentation you gave me, and I couldn't figure out how you would be actually compensating me for my services. Care to clue me in?"
"You will be paid on a case-by-case basis," Hina replies, "As you complete cases for Ms. Nitori, you will submit a report on what it was you did for her, and how difficult it was to accomplish the tasks she set before you. So long as she approves these reports, the company will pay you based on how difficult each task was, as well as reimburse you for any significant expenses you may have occurred on the job."
You can't help but wonder if that would be the best way to go. "Wouldn't it be easier to just put me on an hourly rate instead of having a system like that in place?"
Hina purses her lips. "Perhaps, but we believe a more commission based schedule will influence you to perform to your best, and would better reflect the action reimbursement that you actually deserve. If your work is top notch, then you will be compensated much more that if you were placed on an hourly basis. On the flip side, if your work is subpar then you will receive less than you usually would, which would motivate you to work harder on your next case."
So you'll be rewarded strictly based on how well you do, huh? it's not a bad system for someone like you, but you can't help but feel that it could be a bit risky as well. As you contemplate this, Hina sets the paperwork in front of you once more. "I believe that we have made our case, Mr. Conner. Now if you wouldn't mind??"
You look down at the paperwork in front of you once more. This is it; it's time to either sign these papers and take the job or turn them down and walk out of here. Thinking over their offer, you believe that they are being fairly generous in terms the hours, and that the actual nature of what you'll be doing isn't something that can be changed. The only thing you could probably haggle over is the means by which you will be paid. Doing so would probably put you on Hina's bad side, which according to Greedo is something that is best avoided, but at the same time you feel like having a little stability in your paycheck might be worth having her a bit disgruntled at you.
it's time to decide. What do you choose?
[ ] Accept the job offer. [ ] Accept the job offer, but only on the condition that you are paid at an hourly rate. [ ] Reject the job offer.
You received double votes this round for being stereotypically British! Good show!
[x] Accept the job offer.
You slap yourself internally. These nice ladies are offering you everything you could want in a job, and you're thinking of changing the terms? You must have been more affected by that talk with Naz and Suke then you thought. Picking up a pen on Hina's desk, you begin to fill out the various documents that Hina laid out in front of you. You should probably be reading through these as you read them, but as long as you don't see the word ?soul? printed anywhere you figure that you're probably ok.
As you begin signing a look of relief comes over Nitori, and Hina gives a slight smile. As you flip past each page, Hina gives you a brief description about what each one is about. Aside from the standard hiring paperwork, there is also a statement of nondisclosure which says that you aren't allowed to share any company secrets with anyone from outside the company. You can't help but wonder how well these are actually upheld, considering that you know for a fact that Greedo had at least a few of those secrets when you saw him earlier today, but you put it out of mind for now. There is also a paper that states that your pay may be cut if any significant damage occurs to Nitori equipment while it is under your care, which sounds reasonable to you. The only other statement that makes you raise an eyebrow is the notice of non-liability. According to Hina, the nature of the work that you will be performing has a potentially high liability rate, and while the company will do its best to reimburse you for any injuries you might sustain you won't be able to sue them in the case that they happen. You seriously consider not signing this document, but in the end Hina's cold glare convinces you that it's probably in your best interest. (Even though it isn't)
By the time you have finished the last of the paperwork Nitori is visibly bouncing in her seat. "About time!" she shouts as you hand over the last signed sheet. "C'mon, we need to get back and-"
"Not quite yet, Nitori," Hina says. Nitori looks like she is about to protest, but another cold glare from Hina causes her to flinch back down. "There are a few items that I need to hand to our new employee here before I can hand him over to you, after all." From underneath her desk Hina retrieves a small box. Opening it, she begins handing you its contents. "To begin with, here is your security badge." You take it and begin turning it over in your hands, wondering when on earth they managed to take a profile picture of you without you noticing. "Aside from letting security know who you are, that badge will give you access to most of the buildings on the campus. Since you are working directly under Ms. Nitori here, it will also give you access to free food at the cafeteria, the medical facilities, and the dormitories should you find yourself here after hours." Next, she hands you a map of the campus, opened to what looks to be a locker room. "As you will most likely be performing significant fieldwork as opposed to deskwork, you have been assigned a locker under your name rather than a desk. Feel free to store any belongings that you wish in there, but please take note that the Nitori Corporation does not take responsibility for any lost goods. When you have the chance, please feel free to check it out, along with the rest of the amenities on the campus." Hina then hands you a booklet, which appears to be full of a whole lot of complicated, small words. "Finally, here is a copy of the employee handbook. We ask that you read it when you next get the chance, as it contains all of the companies? policies, as well as a detailed description of the amenities available to you on campus." You flip through a few pages, and then place the handbook and the map in your bag, promising to look at them later.
As you clip the badge to your shirt, Hina gives you a professional smile. "I believe that more or less covers the bare essentials, Mr. Conner. Ms. Nitori here can educate you on anything else you may need to know, as well as instruct you on what is expected from you on a day to day basis. it's a pleasure to have you join our team, and I look forward to seeing good results come from your actions here with us." She turns towards Nitori, her smile warming considerably. "he's all yours."
"YESSSSS!" Nitori jumps up and grabs you by the arm, pulling yourself out of Hina's office as quickly as she can. "Come on, we're behind schedule as it is, so we're going to have to pull double time to get any of the really good experiments off the ground. Oh man, I've wanted to pulls some of these off for so long it's-" The rest of what the young engineer is saying is cut off by an ear-splitting squee, and as you are dragged out of Hina's office you can't help but feel a sense of dread. The last thing you see as you exit the room is Hina's smiling face, and what you can't help but feel is a glimmer of mischief in her eye.
Safehouse Unlocked: Nitori Campus You can now utilize the facilities at the Nitori Campus to store your items, get minor healing, get free food, and take a quick snooze. Note that there is no magical means of retrieving your stuff from across town; if you leave something at the Nitori Campus, you are going to have to go back to the Nitori Campus to get it. ---
Nitori drags you out of the building and pulls your towards a smaller one nearby. This building, while large, seems to be built more like a warehouse than an office, and you can't help but notice that it seems very patchwork in its composition, almost as if several parts of it had to be rebuilt over several occasions. As you are pushed inside, you see that the building does consist of one giant room, but instead of boxes or other storage the entire floor is littered with various machines and contraptions. Some of them are only half as tall as you are, while at least one of them seems to be nearly as wide as the warehouse itself, and at least half of them seem to currently be in operation, doing? well you have no honest idea, but it looks pretty neat.
"Alright, let's jump right to it, shall we?" Nitori says as she bounces on the balls of her feet. She grabs a lab coat and goggles from next to the door and throws them at you. "Safety first and all that," she says. You shoulder on the lab coat and put on the goggles, noting that they seem to fit you perfectly. (You are beginning to suspect that these people might have done more than just treat your wounds when you blacked out after the test) Afterwards, Nitori leads you over to the long, building wide machine that you noted earlier.
"Alright," Nitori says, "so the idea here is that I'm trying to compartmentalize light energy into a more stable condition, which could potentially revolutionize the way we can utilize it! The magitechnical theories I've built up so far seem to be sound, but more testing is required in order to figure out which way I need to move my efforts. This large bertha here is supposed to help with that, since I am able to switch out the stabilizing components at whim, and by doing so I can pinpoint the frequency of light that will help stabilize my equation!"
You nod sagely. "I understood almost none of that. Mine explaining it in terms that will give me more context on what I'm actually expected to do?"
Nitori sighs and gives the bridge of her nose a little pinch. "Right, luddite's terms?" The blue-haired girl walks over to around the middle of the device, and indicates a black cube that's sitting on a raised platform. The box has a lens attached to opposite ends, which seem to feed in and out of the machine ?The basic idea is that I'm going to be shooting lasers into boxed like this one here." She indicates a nearby pile of similar looking boxes, next to which lie what appear to be a pair of tongs. "The problem is that these boxes have proven to be a bit? unstable when they are tested upon, so I need you to keep an eye on whichever one is being tested at the moment and make sure that it doesn't blow up and damage any of the other equipment."
"And myself as well?" you ask.
"If you do a good job, sure!" Nitori says with a grin that you don't find encouraging.
"Alright?how will I know if a box is about to come apart?" you ask.
"It should be pretty obvious if it's going to blow, and even if it isn't I'll be monitoring it the whole time, so I'll let you know if you need to dispose of it."
"And how do I do that?" you ask. In response, Nitori points to a table sitting near the box, with what appears to be an extendable shaft that extends through the ceiling. "Toss the box in there with the tongs, and slam that shaft down on it!" Nitori says, "That will contain the explosion and keep any of my precious equipment from being damaged."
"Is there a reason that it extends into the ceiling?" you ask.
"To vent anything harmful to the outside, duh." Nitori says, looking at you like that should be obvious. "Don't? want to die from any noxious fumes that may occur, now do we? Now if you just stay here, we can get started!"
With that, Nitori runs over to the other end of the machine. The very heavily fortified other end of the machine. The very heavily fortified other end of the machine which you realize you are not currently standing behind. You begin to wonder if it's too late to turn this position down.
With a large hum that makes you jump, the machine next to you begins to come to life. Deciding that Nitori probably wouldn't put you in mortal danger as your first assignment, you grab the tongs laying nearby and stand at the ready.
"Alright," you hear Nitori say over some sort of intercom. "Let's see what this baby can take!" With that, a bright shaft of light erupts from Nitori's end of the machine and hits the black box. At first it's too bright for you to look at, but your goggles seem to transition themselves into a darker state, letting you observe the box with no irritation. Nifty!
The niftiness soon dissipates as the box begins acting odd, however. You could probably handle the entire surface glowing red-hot, but that coupled with the fact that the entire box is slowly starting to shake back and forth is starting to make you nervous. After a few more seconds the shaking only increases in its intensity and you begin to wonder if this is normal. When you see that the shaking has gotten to the point where the box is jumping around on its platform you decide that enough is enough and attempt to maneuver the tongs to pick it up.
"Not yet, Conner," You hear Nitori say over the intercom, "Just a little longer, I'm getting some great data here! Just keep the darned thing stable, will ya?"
You grab onto the box with the tongs and attempt to keep it in place. For a few moments you succeed, but soon the sporadic movements of the box are taking a toll on your arms. The box itself is glowing blindingly white, even against your goggles, and you can swear that you can hear some sort of cracking sound coming from it. Nitori isn't saying anything, but you think you might need to make a judgment call on this one!
[ ] She can't take any more, Cap?n! FIRE IN THE HOLE! [ ] STAY ON COURSE! The Cap?n surely knows what she is doing!
[X] STAY ON COURSE! The Cap?n surely knows what she is doing!
You do your best to dig your feet into the ground, and brace yourself as steadily as you can. If Nitori says that all you need to do is keep this thing stable, then you will keep this box stable, damn it! You hope that it isn't going to take much longer though, because you're not sure how much longer you're going to last.
"Almost there Conner, just hang in there!" you hear Nitori's voice ring out. "Just a few more seconds and?YES!" All at once the beam of light cuts off and the box's shaking begins to slow. After a few moments the movement has been quelled to the point where you are able to release the box.
"Good work!" Nitori says as she comes out from behind her protective cover and walks over to you. I was able to get some great data from that piece, and it didn't even combust this time around!" With a smile on her face, Nitori takes a few steps over to the pile of boxes and starts going over them. "Now let's see, which one should I use next??"
You are barely paying attention to what Nitori is saying, though, as the box that just went through testing still has your attention. You can't help but notice that even though the shaking had slowed right after the test ended, it never truly subsided. The box's glow didn't diminish either, and you could swear that the amount of creaking coming from the cube is actually increasing.
--- Force Dodge ---
Something inside of you feels like it's screaming at you, and before you can even think about what you are doing you're dashing over to Nitori. You only get half a second to see the surprise in her eyes before you grab her in a bear hug and jump as hard as you can away from the staging area. Before she can let out a single noise of protest against your actions, the box explodes.
The two of you make a rough landing, and you do your best to shield Nitori from any shrapnel from the explosion. You can feel a couple of heavy blows land against your back, but surprisingly whatever hit you didn't shred through your clothing. It still hurts like a bitch, but at the very least you won't have to worry about treating any cuts or removing small pieces of metal from your injuries.
You head, unfortunately, doesn't have much in terms of protection. While there are a few close calls that only manage to buzz your hair a bit, you can't help but hiss as you feel something scratch against the right side of your head. It doesn't feel deep, but you can't really know the true extent of the damage unless you check, and right now protecting the girl under you takes priority.
Or it would, if the majority of the incident weren't more or less over by this point. You chance a glance over your shoulder, and can't help but cringe. Most of the staging area has been hit pretty hard, and while the testing machine itself is still standing it's obvious even to your eyes that a good number of parts are going to need to be replaced before anyone can use it again. Numerous pipes running through the structure have been ruptured, and the fact that you can even see this much circuitry is probably a bad sign. You really, really hope you aren't the one who's going to need to put this thing back together.
But first thing's first. "You alright?" you ask Nitori as you move off her and help her stand back up.
"Y-yeah, I'm fine," she stutters, clearly still a bit shell-shocked from what just happened. "Can't say that I saw that one coming; they usually only blow up during the test, not after it. Thanks for the save, by the way."
You give a one-shoulder shrug. "Just doing my job, though I will admit that I almost didn't catch that explosion either. Any idea why it went off like that?"
"Nope, but I know how to find out!" Nitori says, her normal cheer and energy back in full force. The young woman drags you back over to the staging area, doing her best to wave away the smoke that's still coming from the wreckage. "Help me looks for a small, black cube, OK?" With that, she begins crawling along on the floor, indicating that you should assist her in her task.
After a few minutes of searching you find what looks to be a smaller version of the cube that just blew up. "Is this it?" you ask, to which Nitori runs over.
"That's it!" she exclaims, and picks up the box after making sure that it isn't too hot to handle. "I do my best to install black boxes like these in all of my test devices. They are able to take quite a beating, do an excellent job of capturing data, and as long as I can recover this one piece I'm usually able to tell where things went wrong, as well as what I might need to change in future prototypes." She brings you behind the covered area, where you find a large computer rig setup. Nitori slide a panel off the black box, revealing a jack that she is able to plug into the rig. "This is something you'll need to remember Conner, so make sure that if anything happens to something you're testing for me, at the very least retrieve the black box from the device's wreckage, alright?"
"Sure thing," you say with a nod. As Nitori goes over the information populating her console you try and check the wound you sustained in the explosion. The good news is that you don't think anything managed to embed itself in your skull, but you aren't going to be able to tell how bad the damage is unless you can find a mirror. The fact that there is blood on your fingers when you pull them back isn't a good sign, though.
"Alright, I think I understand now," Nitori says as she leans back from the console. "It looks like the energy inside the box built up too much, and since I didn't include a way for the energy to actually get out it created its own path. The energy ended up condensing on itself for a bit right after I cut off the beam, but it didn't take long for a subsequent expansion to occur. It looks like I'm going to have to address the issue of venting and HOLY CRAP You're BLEEDING!"
"Yeah, I noticed," you say, "Would you happen to have some cloth or something that I could use to cover this up?"
Nitori grabs a rag (which you can only hope is clean), presses it against your head and begins to shove you towards the door. "If you're bleeding, you SAY something about it, you idiot! Let's get you over to medical, stat!"
"I have to admit, it seems kind of lucky that I managed to get out of an explosion like that with only a single cut to the head." You are sitting back in the medical office where you woke up the last time you blacked out on campus. The blue-haired nurse you met last time is currently fussing over you, making sure that nothing seems out of place. It turns out you got lucky and only suffered a single shallow cut to the head; after applying a wet cloth to the wound for a few minutes the bleeding started to trickle off, and soon enough stopped altogether. You also were more or less forced to strip off your lab coat and shirt after you mentioned being hit in the back. There was apparently a little bit of bruising, but like you thought before no shrapnel actually managed to pierce your skin.
Nitori snorts in response to your question. "it's not so much about luck as it is about my awesome preparation skills. Here, take a look." With that, she tosses over the lab coat you were wearing during the experiment. Turning it over, you are amazed to see little bits of metal stuck in the coat, and in one case there is a tear in the fabric large enough to show a layer of metal lying beneath.
"Developed by yours truly, of course," Nitori boasts. "After one too many um, incidents in the lab, Hina more or less told me that I couldn't do any sort of work without the appropriate protection. Long story short, the stuff they tried to give me was WAAAY too restricting, so I ended up designing this instead! The underlying metallic mesh won't keep you from being bludgeoned to death, but as you can see it works wonders in keeping most scientific elements away from one's being!"
You have to admit, you're impressed. Something like this couldn't have been easy to make. "it's a shame that it doesn't cover the head, though."
"Tell me about it," Nitori groans, "Hina is going to have a field day once she hears how you got hurt, and you can bet that by this time tomorrow there will be a new headgear regulation in place. Although if I could fulfill those terms using some sort of cyber-helmet?" Nitori gets herself lost in thought for a few moments before she snaps out of it and turns back to you.
"Regardless, we aren't going to be able to make any more progress with that experiment until I can grab a few of the girls and make some repairs," Nitori says with a sigh. "Not like it matters that much with you being injured and all. How are you doing, by the way?"
"Me?" you ask. "I feel more or less fine. A little woozy from the blood loss, but I'm sure that will pass."
"You sure?" Nitori asks, concern appearing on her face. "I was going to ask you to try a few more things, but if you don't feel up to it you can rest up a little bit, or even head out for the day. I want to make sure that you're ready and at your best after an explosion like that."
To be honest, you're feeling perfectly fine, but if you wanted to take a break, or even duck out of work for right now to go and do something else, this would probably be a good opportunity.
[ ] "Actually, heading home sounds like a good idea." Of course, there may be some detours on the way back? [ ] "I'll be fine after a quick break." It'll give us the chance to check out the campus a bit more. [ ] "Nah, I'm good to go." Let's see what Nitori has planned for us next.
[x] "Actually, heading home sounds like a good idea." Of course, there may be some detours on the way back?
I wanna plan some for Frandle. We are visiting her tonight, yes? I don't know what the arrangements for that job are, and in any case it would be terribly unsightly to show up at Remilia's place worn out from experimenting all day.
[x] "I'll be fine after a quick break." It'll give us the chance to check out the campus a bit more.
"Well when you put it like that, maybe a quick break wouldn't hurt," you say. "What if I take a quick walk around the campus to make sure that I'm still in good shape?"
"Good idea," Nitori says with a small nod. "In the meantime I'll head back to the lab to see if I can't speed up the repairs a bit. Head on back when you're ready, and we'll see if I can't find something else for you to try out in the meantime." Getting up from where she is sitting, Nitori walks towards the clinic's entrance with a grin on her face. "Then again, maybe I can push up some of the better stuff now that I've seen you can seemingly detect and dodge explosions! Let's see?"
You and the blue-haired nurse just stare as your boss walks out the door. The nurse turns to you, a sad look in her eyes. "I'm going to go ahead and keep this cot reserved for you from now on, alright?"
You can only stare at the door your boss just walked out of. "That's probably a good idea, yeah."
The Nitori campus is around a block or two in size, with no exact rhyme or rhythm to how its buildings are placed. For the most part, a good portion of the campus is open air, allowing one to take a quick stroll outside as you go from one building to another.
You end up heading towards your locker first and foremost, just so that you can get a good idea of where it is. As it turns out, the locker room is located near a large pool, your handbook tells you that it is alternatively used for underwater-based experiments and pool based recreational activities, depending on the schedule. Stepping into the men's locker room, you notice that almost none of the lockers in here seem to be claimed with a small plastic plaque like yours is. You figure that this either means that there aren't many guys here who have claimed a locker, or else that this company has a primarily female base. You make sure that you can get into your locker before heading out, trying not to think about what a nearly entirely female populated company would consider pool based recreational activities might be. (And failing)
The dormitories are a set of two buildings where the apparent goal was to stuff as many bunk beds together as possible. The idea was that since engineers tended to get caught up in their work it would probably be better to give them a place to crash for a few hours when they deprived themselves of sleep rather than have them walk into certain disaster on the way home. While there are a few rooms containing single beds, you learn that you don't qualify to use one, and are required to use one of the bunk beds if you need a quick rest. Said beds aren't very comfortable, and give you basically no privacy whatsoever, but at the very least it's a place to rest if you need it.
The cafeteria seems to offer decent food, but since you just had lunch you decide that it's probably best to wait before getting a bite to eat, even if the food is free for you. (You have to admit, working directly under the head engineer does have some nice perks. In the end, you settle for picking up a cookie as you walk around the campus a bit more.
As you walk along, your cell phone rings. Pulling it out of your pocket, you're a bit surprised to note that the caller ID is showing the number for Suke's shop. he's not really one to call you unless it's something important, so you pick up hoping that nothing is wrong.
"Conner, there you are." Suke is on the other line, sounding somewhat concerned. "Are you alright?"
"Not in any trouble or anything, are you?"
"-no?" You're starting to get a bit confused here.
"See, I told you he would be fine." It sounds like Suke is talking to someone on the other end of the phone. You can't place the other voice, but it sounds really familiar. "Sorry about that, Conner. This crazy lady just burst into my shop, asking if I knew how to contact you. Yes, he sounds alright to me!"
Crazy lady? Who in the world could that? wait a minute. "Do me a favor and ask this crazy lady her name for me, would you?"
You hear some more murmuring on the other end of the line. "She says that her name is Aya."
"That's what I thought," you mutter, "Go ahead and put her on."
You hear a slight clamor on the other end of the line. "Conner, is that you? Are you alright? Are you still at that mansion? Have you been brainwashed?!?" With each question Aya's tone gets slightly more hysterical.
"Yes, yes, no, and no," you reply back, "though it's a bit hard to tell if you've been brainwashed after the fact. Regardless, I'm doing fine Aya, why are you so concerned? And more importantly, how did you know that Suke would know how to contact me? Heck, how did you know that I knew Suke in the first place? Have you been stalking me, Aya?"
"I'm concerned because I mind controlled to leave you at the front gates at that place, Conner! One second I'm trying to convince you not to go in there, the next I find myself compelled to get out of there as fast as I can, leaving you standing there like an idiot!"
Wait, you mean that wasn't just quirky Aya behavior? Eesh, add another thing on the list of weirdness for that household. "Well that's not comforting to hear."
"I know! But it's good to hear that you managed to escape from there, at the very least."
You decide not to comment on that for now. "In any case, you didn't answer my other questions, Aya. Have you been stalking me or not?"
"Why on earth would I need to stalk you?" Aya scoffs, "You've had me drop you off at this place from time to time, so I figured that you must know someone in here pretty well. It was a bit of a gamble, but it worked out in the end, didn't it?"
"I suppose," you say as you check the time. "Look, I'm kind of on the clock here, so I should probably get going."
"Conner, wait! Can we meet up later today? I want to make sure that you're really ok and that you aren't just trying to pull one over on me again."
Geez, this girl can be annoying sometimes.
[ ] Fine, we can meet up after I'm done here. -[ ] I'm at the Nitori campus; head on over and we can talk when I'm finished. -[ ] I'll head over to Suke's when I'm finished, so just sit tight for a bit, alright? -[ ] I'll head over to your office when I'm done; meet me there, ok? -[ ] I'll be heading over to the spooky house when I'm done here, so meet me there alright? [ ] Sorry, I've got other plans.
Aya does seem worried about Connor, but a lot of it is probably her wanting her usual lackey for excursions. She may wind up coaxing the details out of him later, but there is no reason to give it away right off the bat. Furthermore, this Aya seems really excitable, which could annoy the NitoriCo staff, making Connor look bad. Also, observation - Aya does NOT know Connor's number - she would not have needed Rinnosuke to call him if she did (and he should keep it that way).
Therefore, [ ] Fine, we can meet up after I'm done here. -[ ] I'll head over to your office when I'm done; meet me there, ok?
[x] Fine, we can meet up after I'm done here. -[x] I'm at the Nitori campus; head on over and we can talk when I'm finished.
If there's one thing you know about Aya, it's that once she's got her mind set on doing something it's generally impossible to dissuade her from doing it. Even if you told her that you're too busy to meet up with her, you get the feeling that she would somehow track you down regardless, just to make sure that you weren't really brainwashed.
"Alright, we can meet up when I'm done working over here. Head on over towards the Nitori campus and we can talk when I'm finished with my work here."
"Wait, what? Why are you at the Nitori campus, Conner?" You can hear genuine surprise in Aya's voice as she says this.
"Didn't I just say that I'm working here? I'm in the middle of a job, but I hoping that it won't take too much longer after this. Just head on over to the main building on Campus and wait in front of it, I'll hopefully will be able to meet you the next time I get a break."
You can't really blame Aya for being surprised. After all, the Nitori Corporation is a big player when it comes to engineering, and for a reporter like her it probably sounds like the jackpot hearing that she has one of her friends on the inside. Any second now and you are sure that she will be demanding that you get her the juiciest pieces of information that you can get for her paper, and for you to do your best in setting an interview up between her and the head engineer. (Granted, that's an actual possibility, considering you work directly under her.)
"Oh. Um, would it be alright if we didn't meet up there? There's a nice caf? a few blocks away from the campus, it would be a much nicer place to meet, don't you think?"
"you're never going to understand this girl, are you? "That seems like a bit of a hassle, especially since you have that scooter of yours and I'll be on foot. It'll be quicker if you just met me here directly, wouldn't it?"
"Please Conner, I'd really rather not be anywhere near that campus if I don't have to be. Let's just meet up at the caf?, alright?"
She's hiding something and you know it. Either Aya's somehow already gotten herself banned from the campus (which you honestly wouldn't find surprising) or else there is something else that she's not telling you. Still, everyone has their secrets, and if Aya doesn't want to specify why she doesn't want to set foot on the campus you aren't going to push her on it right now. "That's fine, where can I find this caf? of yours?"
After exchanging plans with Aya (and making sure that Suke wasn't about to give her your number) you make your way back to Nitori's lab. As you put on a new set of safety gear, you see a few engineers already at work on that laser ensemble you and Nitori were at earlier, supervised by the blue haired girl herself. She seems to be somewhat unsatisfied with the progress being made, but her smile returns as she sees you approach.
"Hey Conner, it looks like this is going to take at least a day or two to fix up, so I don't think there's much more we can do with this today. Why don't you come with me and I'll give you some homework to do in the meantime, alright?"
"Homework?" you ask. "I wasn't aware that this was a class."
"Everyday life is a class if you're willing to learn the lessons it can teach you," Nitori says, her sagely words clashing horribly with her wild smile. "And I've got a few things that I want to ask life personally, if you know what I mean."
"Really?" She asks, looking slightly put off. "You didn't get the connections between that and science at all?" You can only give a shrug in return. "Bah, you're no fun." The two of you have walked up to a workbench of sorts, on which sit various pieces of machinery, most of which appears broken to you. As Nitori begins sorting through the items, you do your best not to touch anything. A few things on here are mighty tempting, however, and you can't help but twitch your greedy little fingers as your eyes pass over some nifty looking gadgets. In particular, a couple of what appear to be capsules capture your eyes. "What are those?" you ask.
"Eh, those are just some flashbangers that I ended up assembling as a byproduct of one of my experiments. Pretty powerful stuff, but nothing too exciting. Go ahead and take ?em if you want."
You've pocketed the lot before she even finished speaking. Holding one in the palm of your hand, you try to figure out what might be on the inside. "How do they work?"
"Just give one a firm toss, but make sure to look away first if you don't want to be blinded." Nitori gets up from her workbench and yells out, "FIRE IN THE HOLE!" before turning back to you. "Go ahead; give one a toss for the sake of science."
You reel your arm back, doing your best to throw the capsule as far as you can before turning your face away. You notice that the other engineers have more or less taken cover as well, and before you know it you can see a huge flash of light originating from behind you. It only lasts a second, but you can imagine that anyone who might look at that would be blinded for at least a few minutes, if not permanently.
"Not bad for a byproduct, huh?" Nitori asks. "That said, let's move on to the good stuff, shall we?" The girl hands you what appears to be a black plastic square. You turn it around in your hands a few times before sending an inquisitive looks back towards Nitori. "What is this supposed to be again?" you ask.
"it's a Portable Light Cannon!" Nitori exclaims with a small hop of excitement. "With this baby, you should be able to create a beam of intense, burning light whenever and wherever!" Nitori does a small dance of glee as you give the black plastic square another short examination.
"So what could you actually use something like this for?" you ask.
"Eh, I'm sure that someone could come up with a practical use for this thing." Nitori says as she takes the square from your hands. As she presses an indentation on the square's surface, the entire thing seems to expand out into what appears to be a blocky black bazooka. A handle set and a shoulder rest pop up as well, and you can see an open end which you assume the ?intense light? comes out of. "Right now I'm more concerned with getting some good results with this thing, and figuring out how to stabilize the beam it emits."
"Stabilize? What do you mean by that?"
"Don't sweat the small stuff, Conner, it should work just fine!" Nitori says as she drags you over to an open area that's set up like a test range. Two solid looking walls are set up on both sides, and a good few meters out there appears to be a dummy of sorts sitting in front of a third wall that closes the area off. The dummy appears to be constructed out of scrap metal, and you can't help but notice the various burn marks that cover most of the floor and walls of this area. "Go ahead and give it a test shot, you'll see what I mean!"
You give Nitori a skeptical glance, but you mount the cannon on your shoulder regardless. A sight pops up, and you do your best to line it up with the dummy. Taking a deep breath, you steady yourself before pulling the trigger.
--- Force Dodge ---
You then chuck the cannon as hard away from yourself as you can before once again tackling Nitori away from the resulting explosion. You thankfully don't feel anything pierce your skin this time around, but as you pick yourself up from the ground you can't help but glare at the sheepish looking engineer lying on the floor. "It should work just fine, huh?"
"Um," Nitori says with that sheepish grin of hers, "don't sweat the small stuff?"
--- Item Gained: Flashbangers (1 slot) ---
In the end, Nitori grudgingly admitted that the field cannon probably wasn't ready for field testing quite just yet, mainly due to the fact that she was unable to put the thing back together. Unfortunately for her, that also meant she had nothing else that she could get you to test out for her in the meantime, as the majority of the day was supposed to go to the black-box experiment which was now under repair. Because of this, Nitori essentially placed you on call until she had something that she needed your help with. You ended up exchanging your cell phone number with Nitori, and getting hers in return so that she could contact you when she managed to pull something together. While she told you that she would do her best not to give you a call during the wee hours of the night, you noticed that she also made no promises not to. Still, your just glad that you won't have to make Aya wait for too long, and that you might have time to do some other things during the evening.
As you make your way to the caf? that Aya told you about, you can't help but pause as you see a very interesting sight. Cirno, in all her blue Fairy glory, appears to be having a very loud argument with a lavender haired woman. You notice that a green haired girl is standing nearby, wavering back and forth in an extremely nervous state. You're pretty sure that's one of Cirno's companions, though you are a bit surprised that there aren't any others hanging around in the obvious vicinity.
it's really none of your business as to what those two might be arguing about, but you can't help but feel a little curious all the same?
[ ] You've got an appointment, and you really shouldn't be eavesdropping on private conversations. [ ] Aya can wait, and it's not like the two of them are actually trying to keep this private, now are they?
Pic is not really related to the current scene, but since the characters match up I couldn't resist. Hope that you all enjoyed your holidays, and a Happy New Year to you all!
[x] Aya can wait, and it's not like the two of them are actually trying to keep this private, now are they?
You're a bit ahead of schedule anyways, and it's not like anyone could really consider listening to two people shouting in the street ?eavesdropping?, now could they? Spotting an empty bench nearby, you take a seat and do your best not to look like you're paying attention to the scrap that's going on.
"Would you just listen to me? I'm trying to help you here!" the lavender haired lady is saying. You didn't get a good look at her until this point, but she's wearing quite the unique ensemble. Her dress of alternating blue and white is normal enough, but the apron she is wearing on top of that tends to stick out a bit. A gold pin is stuck onto her top, and she is wearing a white cap that looks as though it will come apart any second. The thing that catches your eye the most, however, is the cape attached to her back. You almost didn't notice it, considering how transparent it is. You can't help but wonder what kind of occupation someone dressed like that has.
"You and I have very different definitions of help, then!" Cirno shouts in retaliation. Her green haired friend is attempting to calm her down, but to little avail. "If I've told you once, I've told you a hundred times that I'm not going to abandon my family!"
"But you're wasting your talent by staying with them!" the woman shouts, "Out of everyone I have ever met, you are the only one who has even come close to performing some of my simplest techniques, never mind excelling with them! If you were to come with me and hone your talent, I can guarantee that you would be the greatest ice mage that the world has ever seen!"
You notice a slight moment of hesitation coming from Cirno, but it's gone in a flash. "It doesn't matter. Right now my family needs my help. I'm not going to leave them so long as they do and that's final!"
"NO BUTS!" Cirno yells. The street around Cirno seems to flash freeze as she shouts, forcing the woman to take a step back. "I'm not leaving and that's that! C'mon Dai, let's go see if we can't figure out where the others went." With that Cirno storms out of the plaza with the green haired girl following hesitantly behind. You get the feeling the later had something she wanted to say as well, but she never seemed to get a chance to in all the commotion.
Well, that was certainly something. It looks like Cirno is getting some unwanted solicitation of sorts, and is turning it down consistently in order to stay with the Fairies. Still, it's not like this really affects you at all. Better just file this piece of information away for now and-
"Augh, can you believe that girl!" The lavender haired woman sits down on the bench next to you, clearly still upset at what just occurred. "I'm offering her the chance of a lifetime and she won't take it! How stupid can you get?"
You can't help but feel startled as this woman just suddenly starts talking to you. "Are you asking me that?"
"Humor me for a bit, I just need to vent to someone over this, alright?" she asks, "I mean you saw all that, right? Was it something in the way that I asked her, or do you think that she's just that stubborn?"
You don't really know what this woman is after, or why she suddenly decided to ask these things of a random stranger. "Why do you think I would know these things? I'm just someone who was resting nearby when the two of you were arguing."
"Uh huh," the woman says, a deadpan look on her face, "Tell me, is that why it only took one look at Cirno for you to take a seat nearby and begin listening in on us? Spill it, who are you and how are you related to that girl."
Geez, this woman is a lot more observant than you would have given her credit for. You consider just leaving since you really don't have anything to do with this, but on that same note humoring this woman probably wouldn't do any harm either. In the end, you figure that you have nothing to lose, especially since she seems like the kind of person who would track you down later.
"Saying that I'm ?related? to that girl is probably stretching things a bit," you say as you lean back against the bench. "I've had a few run-ins with both her and that ?gang? of hers within the past few months, and frankly its started to become a bit annoying how often our paths seem to cross these days. Ordinarily I'd probably just label them as precocious and ignore them, but?" you trail off for a moment, lost in thought.
"But?" the lady asks.
"I don't know; it feels like there is something more going on with that group behind the scenes, and I've got a feeling that it's not something that should be left alone."
The woman shakes her head. "While you might find your stalker activities to be amusing, the only one out of that group that I personally care about is Cirno. Do you have any idea on how I might be able to convince her to come with me?"
You can't help but narrow your eyes at her request, but in the end you just shrug and answer honestly. "I can't really say that I've heard much about Cirno that might help you in that regard, sorry."
"Nothing at all?" The woman asks as she leans in towards you slightly, "You must have some idea as to why she won't leave that ?family? of hers." She says, placing the word family in finger quotes.
"I hate to break it to you, but this whole ?family? thing is probably a lot more important to that girl then you might realize." This woman is starting to irk you a bit. Her comparisons to Cirno and her group are making you think of how others in the past have tried to separate you, Suke and Naz in the past. "Bonds like that are not easily broken, even if they aren't made of blood. As long as she feels like her family needs her I doubt that you have any real chance to pull her away."
The woman ponders this for a moment. "So what you're basically saying is that in order to get Cirno to come with me, I need to fix the problems that the orphanage is having, right?" You give her a shrug, and in return she exhales in annoyance. "It would probably be easier to just kidnap the girl, but I don't really want to be on bad terms with her." The woman thinks to herself for a moment, and then nods. "Alright, tell me what you know about the situation at the orphanage, then."
Even though you really don't anything more substantial than rumors at this point, you're not sure if you should really give her any more information. Aside from the fact that none of this is really any of your business anyways, you don't really know anything about this woman other than the fact that she seems to want to make Cirno her apprentice or something. For all you know her definition of ?taking care of the orphanage's problems? could involve a secret assassination plot. On the other hand, you aren't actually involved with Cirno's group in any meaningful way, and you doubt that she will have that much trouble to learn anything you already know through alternate means.
You also keep in mind that chatting with this woman some more probably means that you'll be a bit late to your meeting with Aya, which isn't something that you would really prefer not to happen again. (You swear, that woman treats tardiness as if it were some sort of cardinal sin or something?)
[ ] "Alright, here's what I know." [ ] "Walk with me for a bit, I'll tell you what I know on the way to my next appointment." [ ] "This isn't really any of my business, and I don't want to stick my nose in this mess any further than I already have, sorry." [ ] "Sorry, but I really need to be going. Right now."
Why am I envisioning my Letty as having a somewhat snooty British accent? There is no good reason for me to give her one, and yet she's somehow managed to end up with it in my mind regardless.
[x] "Walk with me for a bit, I'll tell you what I know on the way to my next appointment."
You don't trust this woman. You have no idea who she is, and you have no idea what her actual intentions with Cirno might actually be. The right thing to do here would probably be to just walk away and pretend that you never said anything to her in the first place.
Still, you aren't getting any truly bad vibes from her, and you consider yourself a pretty good judge of character. While you don't think she's trying to help Cirno so much as she is trying to help herself, at the same time you don't feel like she would do anything too drastic to change Cirno's mind (or relative position on the planet for that manner). Besides, you really don't know too much about this situation yourself. You highly doubt that sharing the information you already have will impact things in any significant way, and to be completely honest you really aren't invested in this situation enough to care that much either way.
"Walk with me," you say as you get up from the bench, "I have another appointment that I can't be late for, but I don't mind sharing what I know along the way."
The woman looks a bit surprised as you take off, but a few moments later she has fallen in pace beside you. "Excellent, I glad you can see-"
"Hold it." The woman stops in place for a moment, but then realizes what you meant and catches up to listen. "I really don't have much in terms of information on this subject, so I don't think it will hurt anything to tell you what I know. However, I don't know who you are, and after hearing that bit about what you think of Cirno's ?family? I can't really say that I trust you either."
"This from the stalker," you can hear the woman mutter.
"The point is that I don't know what your intentions are, and if I don't know your intentions I don't know how much information I can really share with you, understand? I can't say that I particularly like Cirno one way or another, but I don't want to be the one responsible for having her life shatter around her."
"So what do you want from me?" the woman asks.
"An introduction would be nice, for starters."
The woman thinks about it for a second, before producing a card from her sleeves and handing it to you.
"Letty Whiterock, Professor of Thermal Magic at the University of Mages."
"Can't say that I've heard of it," you say as you examine the card. You have to admit, you're a bit impressed; the card itself seems to be made of a thin plastic that's cold to the touch, with white letters emblazoned on the front. The words on the card match Letty's description to a T, although you do note a phone number and email address that have been included as well.
Letty looks at you in disbelief. "You have never heard of the most prestigious school of magic known on the planet? What kind of rock have you been living under?"
"Ok, you're starting to sound like the person I'm heading over to meet, so why don't we stay on topic, alright? Why are you so interested in Cirno? From what I got from your little argument, it sounds like you want her to be your apprentice or something."
"Prot?g?," Letty says in a superior tone, "although I suppose the idea is the same. That girl is a genius when it comes to ice magic, and she doesn't even know it! When I said she was wasting her talent on this island, I meant it. Under my tutelage, she could become the greatest ice mage that this world has ever seen!"
"Alright, if that's the case, then how-"
"Ah ah ah," Letty says with a wag of her finger, "If we're going to be playing 20 questions then we should play fairly, shouldn't we? I introduced myself and answered one of your questions, so it's only fair that you do the same in turn, isn't it?"
You're really not in the mood to argue. "My name is Conner," you say as you offer your hand. Surprisingly she gives it a shake, but her expectant look doesn't fade. "I'm something of an odd-jobs guy, pulling work where I can find it."
"A bum, then," Letty says with a smile.
"That's a horrible way of putting it considering that I actually manage to make rent every month, but sure, why not?" You are starting to get the feeling that Letty isn't so much mean as she is upper crust, but at the same time you wonder if that's a good enough reason not to start hating her. "Anyways, go ahead and ask your question."
Letty thinks it over for a moment. "Tell me why you believe Cirno is so reluctant to leave the orphanage."
"I have two main suspicions on that. The first is that she probably considers the other girls living there to be an actual family."
"But they aren't even related by blood!" Letty exclaims, confusion evident on her face. "How can anyone consider just living together enough to constitute as actual family?"
You can't stop yourself from stopping in your tracks and grabbing Letty by the shoulders. "Take this from someone who had to grow up on the streets himself," you growl, "but when one is poor and without parents when growing up one tends to stick to those who stay by your side through thick and thin. I'm guessing that growing up in an orphanage isn't exactly easy, and that being able to rely on those close to you is one of the few comforts that girl has." Letting go, you storm off towards your destination, with Letty hesitantly following behind you.
"Alriiiiight," she says as she matches your pace once more, "I obviously hit some sort of nerve there, and I apologize for that. I know those girls are important to Cirno, but that's all the more reason why she should study under me! If she were to become my prot?g? I can guarantee that she will be a great success later on in life! I just know that with a little tutelage that girl could bring the study of thermal magic to new heights, and the money she could bring in could easily help support everyone at her orphanage!"
"I doubt that Cirno thinks that far ahead," you answer back, "If I had to guess, she probably won't be willing to leave the other girls behind unless she feels that the situation with the group as a whole is stable enough to survive without her."
Letty thinks this over. "So unless she feels that the others are being provided for appropriately, she won't be willing to leave them behind?"
"Exactly," you say, "and while I don't normally ask this, you aren't planning on doing anything to those girls in order to sway Cirno over to your side, are you?"
Letty's face morphs into one of disgust. "Mr Conner! I know that I may not have given you the best first impression, but I why would you think I would stoop to such lows? I might feel that Cirno deserves a better life than what she currently has, but I can't believe you would consider even for a second that I might hurt a group of orphans to get what I want! I would have to be some sort of heartless monster to even consider something like that!"
"If that's the case then why did you say it would be easier to kidnap Cirno than to convince her?" you ask.
"It was a joke!" Letty exclaims, "I wasn't actually considering it as an option! Can you blame me for being a little stressed out at that girl's stubbornness? Some of us actually try to use humor as an outlet when the world around us doesn't go the way we want, you know?"
While the possibility that she might be lying still technically exists you are beginning to believe that Letty is probably not as much of a danger to Cirno and her group as you might have first thought. You definitely don't like her that much, but it's sounding less and less likely that she will actually do anything bad against the Fairies. "Alright, I have one more question before I tell you the rest of what I know," you say.
"I think that you owe me a few questions at this point, but go ahead."
"What prompted you to go after Cirno like this in the first place? Sure she's got some skills, but how do you know that she's the prot?g? that you're looking for?"
As you ask your question Letty begins to looks a little sheepish, and even turns away from you before she answers. "Weeelllll, that's something of a funny little story. You see, I was going through some of my research notes a few months back when some of the pages accidently got away from me. Naturally I was a bit remiss, as those pages contained a few ice techniques that I had been perfecting over the last few years or so, and it would be very difficult to retrace the steps I took in my research, so to speak. But imagine my surprise when a certain blue haired girl approached me a few days later and not only handed me my notes, but also told me how fun she thought performing the techniques were?"
"Considering that it took you years, I'm guessing you didn't believe her?"
"Right up until she showed me what she could do, yes," Letty says with a joyous smile, "She was able to perform my techniques with greater precision that I could ever manage, but even more impressive was the fact that she could utilize them in ways that I couldn't even imagine!"
"Really? As far as I can see she can only make ice and throw it at people."
"Do you even know how hard of a task that is, Mr. Conner?" Letty nearly spits out as she grabs your shoulders. "Can you imagine how much effort it takes to not only lower the temperature in a specifically defined area, but to also create ice from nothing but the water vapor surrounding oneself ? Unless you have actually attempted to perform these tasks yourself I would ask that you not make any assumptions!"
Yeesh, it looks like you're the one that hit a nerve this time around. "You're right, I shouldn't make any assumptions like that, and for that I apologize." Letty composes herself a bit as she lets go of your shoulders. "But with all that said I'm a bit surprised that you aren't jealous of Cirno's abilities; it sounds like she's outclassing you in almost every way."
"I will admit, I do feel a bit jealous of Cirno's natural talent," Letty admits with a small sigh, "She was able to perform techniques that took me years to research, learn and compile within a matter of days. But at the same time I can't help but be overjoyed when I think of how far she could potentially go under my tutelage! She is like a raw gemstone, Mr. Conner, and I just know that if I could convince her to study under me that she could completely revolutionize the field of thermal magic!"
You digest what you have heard so far, thinking things over before you give a small nod. "Alright, I think that fills in most of the gaps that I had, so let me tell you what I know." Letty looks at you expectantly, and you decide that a disclaimer would probably be a good thing to provide before you truly begin. "I should note that most of this is based mostly on rumors and conjecture, and there are still pieces that I am missing in this puzzle."
"Any information is better than no information, Mr. Conner."
"Alright, just giving you fair warning. Remember how I said that I have two suspicions on why Cirno might be reluctant to leave?" Letty nods. "I already told you how she probably won't leave her family in an unstable situation, but from what I have heard there have been some specific troubles at the orphanage she lives at that might be influencing her to stay even further."
"Go on," Letty says, waving her hand impatiently.
You glare at her for a moment, but continue. "To begin with, the fact that a bunch of girl from an orphanage are running around committing petty crimes is suspicious in and of itself. I understand that things are probably tough at the orphanage, but I know for a fact that there are places that would give them some honest jobs if they knew that the girls had to resort to stealing to get the things they need."
"WHAT!?" Letty yells out. "Are you telling me that these girls are so poorly off that they have been forced into a life of crime? Who in the world is taking care of them?"
"And THAT is what I believe is the heart of the issue." You say, "I ended up overhearing a few of the Fairies talk about how someone they look up to is acting ?weird?, and from what I've discovered the people who sponsor the orphanage don't seem pleased by how these girls are acting either.? (You do your best to ignore Letty's glare and her muttering of the words ?creepy stalker? as you say all of this) ?Now this is only a guess on my part, but it's starting to sound like that whoever's in charge of the orphanage-"
"-might be the one who is causing the pressure that Cirno is under." Letty nods as she finishes your sentence. "Do you have any proof of this?"
"I don't even know if I'm right," you say, "I told you, this is all more or less conjecture on my part."
"Conner! Over here!"
You look up to see Aya waving at you from a nearby caf?. You move to join her, and much to your chagrin Letty moves along with you. Aya looks surprised as both of you end up taking seats next to her, but being Aya she recovers quickly. "New girlfriend?" she asks.
"If that were the case, I would probably find my interactions with this woman twice as painful as I do now," you say as you attempt to hide your face within your hands, "Let's both be glad that she's just a stranger I managed to pick off the street instead, alright?"
"You really aren't a nice person, are you?" Letty asks with a bittersweet smile on his face.
"Don't let him get to you," Aya says, "Conner's really a nice guy once you get to know him, he just does things that would most people raise an eyebrow when they first meet him."
"I'll say?, Letty scoffs.
"Conner, aren't you going to introduce us?" Aya asks.
"Aya, Letty. Letty, Aya." You say, waving one of your hands around without moving the other away from your face.
"Letty Whiterock, Professor of Thermal Magic at the University of Mages. Here's my card."
"Woah, the University of Mages!?! That's huge!" you hear Aya exclaim.
"Glad to see that you've heard of it."
"Of course I've heard of it! Who hasn't heard of the most prestigious mage's school in the entire world?"
"This person, apparently." You don't even have to look up to know that Letty is pointing at you.
Aya gives a small laugh. "That's not a surprise. Would you believe that this doofus didn't even know who Princess Yorihime was until I pointed out the fact that she was standing right in front of him?"
"No way!" Letty exclaims, "I mean it is certainly believable but how could anyone who has lived on this island for more than a few months not know of her?"
"I know, right! Oh my goodness, is this card made of ice? That's really impressive!"
Oh dear goddesses, they're bonding. "Is there anything else you want to ask about the orphanage, or should I just leave you ladies you your chit chat?" you ask. Wait; did Aya just say something about ice?
"Orphanage?" Aya asks. You groan as Letty fills her in on what the two of you have been talking about.
"That sounds like a scoop!" Aya says, bouncing up and down with glee. "Conner, we should totally help her investigate what's going down at the orphanage, don't you think?"
Hm. On the positive side, it looks like Aya has put all this nonsense of brainwashing out of mind. On the negative side, it's pretty clear that she's getting along with a woman that you don't really like, and that she's gunning to get you to join the two of them at spying on the orphanage. Considering that the last Fairies who encountered you ended up labeling you as a pervert, you aren't really sure that going to spy on them would go over that well. Not to mention the fact that you were kind of planning on heading back to the mansion to help Flandre out some more, and to see if you can't get some more answers out of Remilia.
On the other hand, you could probably goad Aya into paying you for your trouble.
--- Item Acquired: Letty's Business Card (0 slots) (Also holy geez, it is made out of ice!) ---
[ ] "Fine, but I'm not doing this for free? [ ] "I'm actually planning to head to the mansion after this, sorry."
Letty being an Academic explains EVERYTHING. I like her quite a bit now.
I wonder if there's someone studying Conner's brand of bullshit? And someone there would probably be able to explain that mysterious gauntlet, too. Truly, Letty is a valuable contact and one we should exploit to the fullest.
[x] "I'm actually planning to head to the mansion after this, sorry."
"You girls have fun with that," you say as you make to get up from the table, "As for me, I already had plans to head back to the mansion tonight, so if you'll excuse me..."
"WHAT!" NO!" Aya yells out as she pulls you back down into your seat. "That's why I wanted you to come and see me in the first place! I can't believe that I nearly forgot about that."
"Mansion?" Letty asks as she sips her tea. (Wait, when did she get that?)
"I ended up driving Conner to this weird mansion yesterday," Aya says, "The short version is that I had this weird compulsion to leave when I didn't really want to, and I'm afraid that place might have done something to his mind!"
Letty blinks, and then takes another sip before setting her tea cup down. "That sounds a bit ludicrous to me dear, but then I again I wasn't there. Conner, did you notice anything abnormal last night when Aya dropped you off?"
You try and think back to what happened. "I did find it a little weird that she seemed a bit confused about knowing exactly what she was doing, but at the same time I never really know what this girl is thinking, so I just let it go."
"Interesting," Letty says as she pulls out what looks like a wand of some sort. She begins waving it over you, and you feel some sort of tingling run over your skin. "Well if I can help get take some weight off you mind, I can't feel any sort of active magic running through him right now."
"Really?" Aya asks, looking slightly confused, "I thought you were a Professor of the Thermal Arts, so how can you do something like that?"
Letty lets out a small, gentle laugh. "Aya my dear, if I couldn't perform at least the basics of the other arts there is no way the University would have made me a Professor. We're the best of the best, and all that! What I'm doing now is only a simple scan over Mr. Conner here to see if I can detect any sort of ?active magic? running through him. Granted there are ways to get around it, and it wouldn't detect anything if the spell had already done its job, but since a single night isn't really enough for most basic spells to alter a mind in any significant way I think that we're probably safe on the ?magical mind control? front."
Aya lets out a sigh of relief. "Well I have to admit that is a bit of a load off my shoulders, but he could still be controlled through other means, like chemicals, or nanobots!"
"Or money," you say in a tone as deadpan as you can muster.
"Right, or? money?" Aya asks before turning towards you. "What do you mean, "money??"
"I mean that the people in that mansion are paying me very well to do my job. So yes, in a way they are ?controlling? me, but the fact that they are doing so like normal people means that I'm not exactly concerned about being brainwashed."
"That's just what someone who's brainwashed would say," Aya mutters, and you can't help but roll your eyes. "How do you know that this money is even real, Conner? They could have been manipulating your mind so that you only thought they were paying you!"
There are at least three clever things that you could say to that, but you decide that you've already had more than enough of this whole brainwashing nonsense. You pull out the envelope that Remilia gave you last night and toss it over to Aya's side of the table, her eyes widening as she opens it. "Conner, how much is in here?! What on earth are those people paying you to do?"
"Babysit a young girl for about a month," you answer, "and before you ask I'm not actually entitled to keep most of that until the job is over; a good portion of that is supposed to go to job-related expenses first and foremost."
"Even so, all of this just for a babysitting job?" Aya slumps back in her seat. "I guess that mind control seems less likely if they are actually paying you this much, but now I think I have even more questions."
"You're not the only one," you say as you ponder over the events of the previous night, "All this mind control nonsense aside I have a large number of things that I want to ask the owner of the mansion the next chance I get."
"Sounds like a scoop!" Aya says with that little excited bounce of hers. "Oh, but we already told Letty that I would help her didn't I? What to do??"
"Don't worry about me dear," Letty says with a small smile, "I can more than take care of myself, and I wouldn't want to get in the way of a date between the two of you."
"First off, she's not my girlfriend," you interrupt, "And second off I think that you should probably go with Letty for now." You hold up your hand to interrupt Aya's protests. "You just told me yourself that mind control is probably something that's not likely, and I get the feeling that I'll be able to get more out of the mansion's owner if I don't have a reporter on my arm when I ask her personal questions."
Aya moves to speak up again, but falters. "Fine, I guess you have a point," she says with a small pout. "But you have to promise me that you'll fill me in on this later, alright? And are you sure that you don't want to come investigate the Fairies with Letty and me instead? I just know there's a scoop just waiting to be discovered there!"
"Let me give you girls a little spoiler," you say as you get back on your feet, "There is probably a good chance that those girls think I'm even more of a stalker than Letty there. Please don't ask me why."
You do your best not to pay attention to the concerned look on Letty's face as you walk away, listening instead to Aya assuring her that you really aren't that bad, just idiotic most of the time. Turning most of your attention away from the table, you attempt to construct a plan of action for what to do upon your arrival at the mansion.
"By the way, what do you suspect that energy around Mr. Conner's arm could have been?"
Three seconds later and you are grasping the table to help you come out of your sprint.
"Energy?" you ask.
"Arm?" Aya says.
"Well yes," Letty says, surprise and shock covering her face, "When I performed my scan I didn't notice any sort of active spell on Conner, but there was an aura of holy energy around his right arm. Do either of you have idea where that might be coming from?"
"Holy energy?" you say, slightly confused, "You mean the same kind of stuff that comes from heaven and all that?"
"I can assure you that it's more in depth than that, Mr. Conner, but you've essentially got the gist, yes."
You and Aya give each other a quick glance before you sit back down and Aya pulls out her notebook. "Alright, it looks like we might have another lead here," Aya says. "By the way, did you happen to get in contact with that other lead of yours?"
"Yeah, and no dice on that front, unfortunately," You say with a shake of your head, "He said he would keep an eye out for the symbol, but the fact that he didn't know what it meant offhand is not a promising sign."
"Alright," Aya says as she makes a few scribbles in her notebook, "But that doesn't change the fact that we have a new lead." Aya quickly turns to face Letty. "Is holy generally known for causing harm to its user?"
"Not generally, no," Letty says in a cautious manner, "I couldn't rule it out entirely, but in most cases holy energy tends to be only beneficial to a person unless they happen to be a demon or have a particularly corrupt soul." Noticing Aya heaving another sigh of relief a concerned look comes upon Letty's face. "Might I ask why you seem to be so worked up about this energy?"
You and Aya share another small glance, and this time you can't help but feel a bit sheepish. "Well, see, I may have accidentally put on this gauntlet that a stranger threw at me, and it maaay have ended up fusing to my skin, and I kinda maybe did all this without checking whether or not the gauntlet was safe to put on first."
Letty only stares at you for a bit before picking up her tea for another sip. Putting down the cup, she turns to face you once more. "You really aren't all that bright, are you?"
After a small argument where Aya took Letty's side way more than she should have, you attempted to figure out whether or not Letty could determine anything else about the gauntlet. Unfortunately she wasn't able to recognize the symbol on your hand, and according to her she couldn't perform any additional kind of analysis without equipment that she didn't currently own or have access to. Still, it was good to know that the gauntlet was less likely than not to hurt you. (A guarantee would have been better, but you'll take what you can get.)
Soon after that Aya and Letty left to go spy on the Fairies and hopefully not get you any more incriminated with that group more than you already are. (Unlikely, but you can hope) In the meantime you began to make your way towards the mansion. For a moment you thought about calling Sakuya for a ride, but there is still plenty of daytime left so you figured it couldn't hurt to take the long way. It takes around an hour to get to the bus stop near the mansion from the caf?, as well as an additional half an hour of walking to make it to the mansion proper. By the time you arrive at the gates you more or less have a plan of action ready to go in your mind.
[ ] Let's confront Remilia first; we have too many questions that we need to get answered. -[ ] <What will you ask?> [ ] Let's go see Flandre first; we did end up taking this job one way or another, and she is our primary responsibility. -[ ] <Any suggestions on what to do?>
I don't feel like rereading the relevant story bits to remember what questions to ask, so I'll just say that it might be a good idea to ask Remilia if she recognizes the holy symbol if we haven't already.
yay holy gauntlet, Letty and Aya a helpful pair going to help fairies
[X] Talk to Remilia, there are questions that need to be answered. -[X] "So. I hear you're a vampire. Were you ever going to tell me that?" -[X] "I did something stupid and got branded with this holy mark. It's not going to be a problem, is it?"
It still feels a bit too early to press Remilia for serious information. I also doubt that Conner needs to know the details of the incident until Flandre is significantly more stable than she is now. He can take a decent guess on the main points of the incident based on the following information:
> vampire > C:"I won't bite." F:"That's not what I'm afraid of." > considers herself a monster > in a permanent dwelling, so has a reliable blood supply (no insanity due to starvation)
Flandre suffered from some sort of mental break during her time as a vampire, and she lost control of her power, which is not necessarily tied to vampirism. This instability is not just vampiric blood-lust, as shown by the minor outburst on our previous visit. If the incident occurred close to her turning into a vampire it could cause Flandre to be unable to come to terms with her nature as a vampire, cementing her belief that she is a monster.
Really though, this speculation isn't particularly useful, except that Conner needs to realize that Flandre is certainly dangerous and that "monster" is not an entirely inaccurate description.
And before I accidentally start a shitstorm here, let me say that I do not consider this Flandre a monster; she both needs and deserves Conner's help.
>>57437 Well, I presume one would have to accept that there's always bad things they can do but instead they do good. For example, she liked that "gardener" and missed her, so maybe we could teach her gardening? Growing new life instead of looming around with the idea of taking lives?
[X] Talk to Remilia, there are questions that need to be answered. -[X] "So. I hear you're a vampire. Were you ever going to tell me that?" -[X] "I did something stupid and got branded with this holy mark. It's not going to be a problem, is it?"
First and foremost, you want some answers. While you are tempted to ask a few things about Flandre, you ultimately decide that it's still too early to be delving that deep into the Scarlet Family's privacy. On the flip side of the coin, what Greedo said about Remilia being a vampire is weighing more heavily on your mind then it really should be. You know what he said has to be nonsense, so at this point it's probably best to just ask her a silly question and get it out of your system.
You pass through the gates and walk up the path towards the mansion. As you reach the entrance one of the doors opens and Sakuya makes her presence known. "Welcome back Mr. Conner," she says with a small bow, "are you here to see Lady Flandre?"
"Actually, I'd like to talk to Remilia first if she's available."
"Of course," Sakuya says with that even smile of hers, "Please wait here a moment while I go and ask if she is taking visitors."
Sakuya vanishes, and you end up waiting around half a minute before she reappears in front of you. (it's only been one day and for some reason you're already getting used to that) ?She will see you Mr. Conner. This way, please." Sakuya leads you to the parlor room where you first met Remilia and beckons for you to take a seat as she excuses herself to prepare some tea. It only takes a few minutes for Remilia to walk in as well and take the seat across the table from you.
"You wished to speak with me, Mr. Conner?"
You nod. "I have something that I'd like to ask you, if that's all right."
Remilia looks hesitant, but ultimately gives you a nod of consent. "Ask what you will, then."
You give a nod of your own as you try to figure out the best way to format what you want to ask her. Deciding that it's probably best to get it out as quickly as possible, you take a deep breath and prepare to ask what you know is a stupid question. "So. I hear you're a vampire. Were you ever going to tell me that?"
Remilia only stares at you in complete shock. Her face makes it apparent that out of all the things you could have asked her, this was the one thing she was not expecting. Damn it, you should have known better than to ask her directly about this. Now she's going to think you're a weirdo for at least the next week or so for even considering that such nonsense might be true.
Or, alternatively, she might throw the entire table aside, lunge at your neck and throw you against the ground, pinning your throat down with more than enough force to keep you from breathing as she straddles you across your chest and pins your arms down at the biceps with her legs. Honestly, with a reaction like that you probably would have preferred if she thought of you as a weirdo for a week.
"Who told you?" Remilia growls as she pounds your neck against the floor.
You can barely choke out a response. "W-wait, you mean it's true?!"
"WHO TOLD YOU!?!" Remilia screams as she slams you against the ground once more.
"I-i-information merchant," you wheeze out. Remilia lets up on your throat slightly and indicates you should elaborate further. "An information merchant named Greedo told me when I was looking into your background. He didn't have any definitive proof so I didn't believe him at the time, I swear!"
Remilia glowers at you. "You were looking into my background? Why?"
"I know next to nothing about you!" you respond, "I figured it wouldn't hurt to get some information from an outside source."
Remilia thinks for a moment, though her grip on your throat does not lessen. "What else did he know of me outside of my nature?"
"He told me about how you get most of your income, the number of people you employ, and how many people currently live in your mansion although I think he might have gotten that one wrong. He said that he didn't have that much more information than that, I promise!"
Remilia's eyes bore into you as if they are digging into your mind to see if you are telling the truth, but ultimately the young woman releases your windpipe and moves off of you, allowing you to gasp for some glorious air. As you recover Remilia begins to pace around the small room. "This Greedo of yours, can he be bought off?"
"Do you mean, "Can he be silenced with money??" you ask as you massage your throat back into working condition. Remilia nods in agreement, to which you can't help but snort in reply. "it's pretty much the only way to keep him quiet, really. If you pay him enough money he'll make sure that your secret stays safe so long as nobody else is willing to beat the amount you put down as insurance."
Remilia nods once more. "Where can I find this information merchant of yours?"
"He usually hangs out at the bar called ?The Cantina? down in the slums, but he tends to find out if you are looking for him relatively quickly, so if you can't catch him there don't be surprised if you get an invitation to see him one way or another."
"Very well," Remilia says as she picks up the table she threw with one hand and puts it back into its original position. "Can I assume that you will not be spreading any more information about my nature around?"
"My lips are sealed," you promise. You aren't about to argue with a woman who only needs one hand to easily right an entire table.
"Then I believe that I need to find this ?Greedo? as soon as I can. If there is nothing else, then I-"
"Actually, there is one other thing if you have a moment." You interrupt.
"Fine," Remilia says with clear annoyance, "but make it quick."
You're about to ask her if she recognizes the mark on your hand when you come upon a realization. If this girl is actually a vampire and if the mark on your hand is actually holy in nature then it might not be the wisest of decisions to bring it to her attention. On the other hand if she is in fact centuries old then there might be a good chance that she has seen it before. If you are going to ask her about this, you'll need to make sure that you phrase it carefully.
"So I may have done something stupid and got myself branded with a holy mark. It's not something that's going to be a problem, is it?"
Once again, Remilia can only stare at you in shock, and you cringe back as you brace yourself for another lunge attack from the blue haired girl. This time around, however, Remilia only slaps her hand against her forehead, a pained expression apparent on her face. "There is no way you can actually be this idiotic, is there? I cannot for the life of me tell if you are just joking around with me or if you are actually serious right now. Either way, did you really think it would be a good idea to tell someone who you just found out was actually a vampire that you just so happened to get recently branded with a holy mark?"
Nailed it. "Well to be honest I don't actually know what the mark means, but an? acquaintance of mine determined that there was some sort of holy aura surrounding my arm, so I figured it was something that was best brought to your attention sooner than later."
"Show me," Remilia says as she beckons you closer. As you brandish your right hand she lets out a small hiss. "Celestials."
"Celestials?" You ask.
"A race whose defining characteristics are more or less completely the opposite of the vampire race. Whereas my people are defined by darkness, they are beings who are embraced by light." Remilia rests a finger on your hand, but is forced to draw it away with a hiss as it begins to smoke slightly. "Even as this construct of theirs sits dormant I can feel it attempt to strike against me. Where did you find the device that has bonded to you, and what caused the bond to be created in the first place?"
"The ?device? was more or less thrown at me when I was exploring the Lost Forest with a friend. This weird girl appeared out of nowhere and tossed a bundle at me, after which she more or less vanished soon after. The bundle contained a gauntlet that I may have accidently put on and, well? yeah."
Remilia stares at you with a deadpan look. "You're an idiot."
"Why does everyone who hears that story tell me that?" You moan.
"I would hope that the reason would be apparent to you be now," Remilia huffs, "Regardless, describe this woman for me if you would."
You do your best to recall the girl who threw the gauntlet at you. Upon hearing her description, Remilia sounds surprised. "Are you sure that her clothing and appearance were as shabby as you describe?"
"I don't know about the girl herself, but at the very least I can say that her clothes definitely looked like they had seen better days."
"Strange," Remilia says, "Most Celestials are vain by their very nature, and would rather be slain outright than be forced to go about in rags. That said I cannot discount this girl's nature as a Celestial until I know more about her."
You give a small shrug. "Good luck with that. The girl vanished before my friend and I could interrogate her any further."
"If my suspicions are correct, she will more likely than not be coming after me sooner or later," Remilia says grimly, gripping the table to the point where it begins to crack. "I don't know why she gave you that gauntlet, or what her intentions are, but I am sure that you receiving that mark the day after you came here is no coincidence."
"Um," you interrupt, "I actually received this mark before I ever set foot on your property, not after."
"What?" For the third time a look of complete and total shock is plastered on Remilia's face. "But that makes no sense! How could they know to give you that gauntlet before you ever knew of my existence?" When you give her a shrug to show your ignorance Remilia begins her pacing once more. "Either the Celestials have found a means to see into the future, which I find unlikely, or else there is something else that is going on here entirely. The pieces aren't lining up in a way that makes any sort of sense!"
"I can't really help you with that," you say, "but in the meantime would you be able to help me get this glove off my hand?"
Remilia shakes her head. "I have only had such devices used against me and know nothing on how they might operate. The librarian might have an idea on how such a thing might work, but more than that I cannot tell you."
"That's alright," you say," You've given me more than enough of a lead regardless, so hopefully it won't be long before I can get this thing off once and for all."
"Agreed, but in the meantime make sure that your branded hand avoids contact with Flandre, as it will most likely react in much the same way to her as it did to me."
Hang on; is she saying what you think she is saying? "Are you telling me that your Flandre is a vampire as well?"
"I would not think that should be much of a surprise, Mr. Conner." Remilia says. "She is my sister, after all. Regardless, thank you for making me aware of your condition. If you will excuse me, I am going to see if I can't plug the information hole that you have discovered. Sakuya!"
The maid appears with a fully laden tea tray. "Mistress?"
"Leave the tray with Mr. Conner; I have some business in the city that needs to be taken care of immediately, so go and prepare the car."
"At once," Sakuya says as she hands the laden tray over to you before vanishing. Remilia turns to you and gives a nod of her head. "Take the tea to Flandre; I'm sure that she will enjoy it in my stead. If you'll excuse me, I will be heading off." Before you get the chance to say anything Remilia exits the room, leaving you alone with nothing but the tea set to keep you company.
Well, that went much differently than you expected. You never considered that Remilia might actually be a vampire, but it looks like Greedo's information was right on the money. You think over whether or not this actually changes anything in the business arrangement between you and the occupants of the mansion, but in the end decide that so long as they are paying you and are not actively trying to suck your blood that you are more or less ok with how things currently stand. (Note to self: Talk to Remilia about keeping your blood off the menu the next chance you get.)
You stand up and do your best to balance the tea tray in your hands as you make your way out of the room. Deciding that following Remilia's instructions is probably the most prudent course of action right now, you do your best to make your way towards Flandre's room. Despite not knowing where you are going you find yourself descending a familiar looking staircase, and soon enough the portal to the young vampire's room stands before you. Deciding to give politeness a chance first and foremost you knock on the door while balancing the tray in your other hand.
A few moments after you knock the door creaks open and Flandre is standing before you. "You shouldn't have come back," she says, her face devoid of emotion.
"it's going to take more than a few choice words to get rid of me, kiddo," you say to the girl(?) standing before you. "May I come in?"
Flandre eyes both you and the tray you are carrying before giving a slight nod and moving out of your path. As you set the tea tray down and begin pouring out some tea you ponder over what you should suggest doing tonight.
[ ] The same thing we do every night, Flandre; TRY TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD! [ ] We already have some tea, so we might as well just chat for a while. [ ] Perhaps Flandre can show you the library, assuming that it isn't closed again. [ ] The garden outside is in shambles, and working outside will do this girl some good. [ ] Flandre needs to meet other people outside of the mansion; a night on the town might do wonders for a vampire like her.
Damn, this one was way harder to write then it should have been.
[X] The garden outside is in shambles, and working outside will do this girl some good.
You're slightly tempted to ask Flandre to give you a tour of the library, especially since it would give you the opportunity to ask the librarian about your gauntlet, but you realize that in doing so you'd be thinking more about your own needs rather than those of the girl in front of you. You're on the job after all, and that means putting your personal desires away for the time being. Besides, after everything you've learned about the gauntlet today you aren't as worried that it might devour your arm or whatnot, so the priority for getting it off has been somewhat lowered.
That still begs the question as to what the two of you should do, though. For some reason, the idea of going out and fixing up the garden outside comes to mind. It isn't exactly an idea that you would normally think of, but the first step in getting this girl to start opening up would be to attempt to get her to be more social. Throwing her at random strangers up front is probably a bad idea, so a good first step would probably be to focus on activities that take her out of her room, and ideally outside the mansion.
With that in mind you suggest the activity as you and Flandre finish with tea time. Flandre doesn't seem to care one way or the other, so after setting the tray aside for Sakuya to retrieve later the two of you head towards the mansion grounds, specifically towards the small shack near the mansion's gate.
The sun is just starting to set as the two of you step outside, but you can't help but notice that Flandre flinches a bit regardless and does her best to avoid direct contact with any of the sunbeams still present. You are about to ask her whether or not she's ok with going out before the sun goes down, but she steps outside before you get the chance. From what you can see she looks fine as long as she stays out of direct contact with sunlight, so you decide not to press the issue for now and continue towards the gate.
As you open the door to the small shack you note that there isn't particularly much inside aside from a simple chair and some gardening equipment covered in dust. You can't help but wonder when the last time this place was used, and as you pick up some of the equipment you notice that it hasn't been maintained very well over the years. Still, it should serve your purposes, so you pull out two rakes and a hoe before shutting the door.
The entire yard surrounding the mansion is a mess, so there isn't really a good place to start. Not that it really matters since neither you nor Flandre have any seeds to plant at this point. Deciding that you might as well start near the mansion's entrance, you lead Flandre over towards the front doors and begin attacking the ground nearby.
The two of you progress fairly slowly. While Flandre seems to be able to tear out dead plants and turn over the ground with no discernable effort, it's pretty clear that she isn't really putting her heart in her work. And while you have done things similar to this in the past, you don't have nearly the strength that Flandre seems to possess. Still, clearing the garden really isn't the end goal here, so you aren't exactly worried that the two of you might not get anywhere tonight.
Speaking of tonight, it dawns on you that you might not have though this activity through as the sunset begins to wane and the remaining light begins to disappear. Flandre doesn't seem to have any issue seeing in the dark, but you don't exactly possess any sort of dark vision of your own. Fortunately, it only takes a quick trip to the shed again for you to find a lantern, and after a few tries you manage to light the oil that's still inside. You don't think it will last too long, but at least seeing the area around you shouldn't prove to be an issue for a little while longer.
As the two of you continue to work, your curiosity starts to get the better of you. "This garden has definitely seen better days," you say, "but at the same time I can still see signs of past maintenance here and there. Do you have any idea who might have cared for this garden in the past?"
"We used to have a groundkeeper some years ago," Flandre says, and you can swear that you can hear her mood pick up as she speaks on this subject. "She was always full of energy whenever I talked to her, even though sister though she was a slacker. She always tried to keep herself moving when she was awake, whether it was from working in the gardens or practicing those weird movements of hers."
"Weird movements?" you ask.
Flandre shrugs. "She did this thing every day where she would make believe she was fighting someone. I didn't really get it, but it seemed to satisfy her need to move around. She tried to get me to do the movements with her, or to help out in the garden if she could find me awake at sunrise or sunset."
"Sounds like you really liked her," you say as you rake up some more plant debris. "What exactly happened to cause her to leave? I can't imagine that Remilia would fire someone who made such a good impression on you."
Flandre lets out a small sigh. "I don't know. About a year or two after Sakuya came to the mansion she just up and left, saying that there was something or someone she had to find. She said she would be back one day, but it's been years since I've seen her." You can hear Flandre's movements stop, and as you glance over you see her slumped over her rake, her face a mess of depression. "it's probably for the best, it's not like getting closer to me would have been any good for her."
"There you go again," you say as you walk over towards where Flandre is standing, "You can't keep on beating yourself up like this, Flandre. it's only going to make you more depressed for no reason."
"She used to say stuff like that too," Flandre says with a sad smile, before she turns towards you. "Sister told you that the two of us are vampires, correct?"
You can't help but flinch back. "N-not exactly, but at the very least she did confirm it."
"Then why are you still here?" You try to think of something clever to say in response, but before you can get a word out something flies past you, missing your head by mere inches before hitting the ground somewhere far beyond your range of sight.
Flandre moves to pick up the hoe lying next to her, gripping it as if it were a javelin. "If you know what we are then you should have at least some inclination of how dangerous it is to continue down this path. If you don't want to lose your head, you should get away NOW!" She throws the hoe, forcing you to dodge out of the way into some dead shrubbery.
As you attempt to get back up Flandre zooms in from nowhere and tosses you like a ragdoll. You attempt to right yourself mid-air, but end up plowing into the dirt face down regardless. Before you can right yourself a tremendous force slams you against the ground, causing some unpleasant cracking sounds to emerge from your chest before a hand shoves your neck against the ground. For the second time tonight you find yourself pinned to the ground by a vampire girl, and you don't think this one is holding back her strength.
"I'm going to be clear about this Conner," Flandre says as she moves the hand not pinning you down over your face, positioning it into a position where she can spear it down into your eye, "If you keep trying to ?help? me you are going to get hurt one way or another, so either you promise me that you are going to leave and never come back right this instant, or I will teach you this lesson by force."
"Flandre, please, just listen to-"
"Three seconds, Conner." Flandre says as she pulls her hand back.
"Hang on, just-!"
"Two." She groups her fingernails together as she tenses up her fingers.
Dammit, you need to react to this, but how?!"
[ ] "Alright, alright, I'll leave!" [ ] Dodge! [ ] Dodge and Counter! [ ] She's bluffing! Stand your ground!
As Flandre's hand starts coming down, the world around you seems to slow as your mind begins to race through all of the options you have. A part of you is attempting to flinch away from the attack out of self-preservation instinct, but you do your best to ignore it as you try to focus solely on the girl attacking you. Normally when somebody is threatening you with bodily harm they tend to radiate some sort of malice or bloodlust that you can pick up on, but the only thing that you can feel coming from Flandre is fear. You can't tell what the source of the fear might be or what it might be focused on, but it's coming off her in huge waves, enough to make you realize in a split second that she is attempting to bluff you. As her hand gets closer you will your body to not move an inch, hoping that this girl has really good hand/eye coordination.
Her hand ends up freezing in place just before it makes contact with your eyeball, and she begins to tremble in place as the anger in her face turns to horror. "W-What, what am I doing? I?no, No, NonononNONONONONO-"
Whoops, can't have her going into a panic. Before she goes any further you put your left index finger on her lips, which ends up shushing her out of her trance before the ground around the two of you could start shaking. "None of that please," you say as you gently move her hand away from your face with your non-holy hand, after which you pull the girl off of you and position yourself into a sitting position. "Don't want you getting into a tizzy over something that you weren't even going to do."
"What do you mean? I was going to stab you right in the eye and give you a permanent injury just to prove my point! There's no helping me, I'm going to hurt everyone I come in contact with, no matter what I do!"
You give a sagely nod in response. "You're a terrible liar, you know that?" Flandre looks completely shocked at your accusation, and you can feel the panic in her screech to a halt. "In fact, I'd say that you're so good at it that you're even able to lie to yourself."
"Lie to myself?" She asks, confusion and incredulity in her voice, "I'm not lying to myself. I know for a fact that I'm a danger to everyone around me!"
"Bullshit," you say, "If that was the case, why were you so scared as you threatened to stab my eye out?"
"Scared?" By this point, all of Flandre's panic seems to have converted itself into shock, which suits you just fine.
"If you really were the monster you claim you are then you would have taken pleasure in the fact that you were attacking me, or at least given off a little bloodlust. But the only thing that I could feel radiate from you during that entire time was fear. So much of it was coming off of you that I knew that you would never willingly hurt someone." You give her shoulder a little pat. "I put my faith in that part of you, and in the end it paid off, so maybe you should cut yourself a little slack."
The horror has returned to Flandre's face. "I would never want to hurt anyone! Never, never, never!"
"I figured as much," you say, "but if that's the case why are you so worried about me getting hurt?"
Flandre blinks, and then slowly starts pulling her knees against her chest, trying to diminish her presence as much as possible. "Even if I don't want you to get hurt, it'll happen anyways. Everyone who has tried to help me other than sister has either gotten hurt or left. If you don't leave, you're going to get hurt. That's just the way it is."
"I don't know," you say with a grin, "I tend to be a pretty resilient guy, you know?" When Flandre doesn't acknowledge your statement you press on. "Look, I know there has to be a reason why you feel like you're going to destroy everything that comes in contact with you. Maybe it was something that someone said to you or something that happened in your past?"
You cut yourself off as you notice Flandre has begun to tremble again. "You really don't want to talk about it, huh?" She vigorously shakes her head no, and you let out a sigh. "Fair enough, I won't press any further until you're ready. This is something that needs to be done at your own pace, and I know better than to stick my nose somewhere that it doesn't belong." You scooch a little closer to Flandre, trying to get her attention. "But I get the feeling that whatever this thing is, it's something you'll have to confront at some point. I can help you get through the rough spots, but I can't do anything if you won't let me help you."
Flandre curls herself back into her ball. "If you knew what I did, you'd hate me for the rest of your life."
"Probably not," you say with a smile, "But even if that were the case, I get the feeling that this is something that I'm going to need to know if I'm going to help you. If you don't want to talk about it, can I at least have permission to ask your sister?"
Flandre hesitates for a few moments, but ultimately nods her head. "If she thinks you really, really need to know. But only if you feel like you really have to, ok?"
"Ok," you say with a small nod. The two of you sit in the silence of the night for a minute or two before your stomach lets out a loud grumble. You suddenly realize that you haven't had anything to eat since lunch, and that was hours ago. As you decide if you should address this issue or not, you hear a small giggle coming from Flandre's direction. Turning to face her, you can't help but feel a bit happier over everything that happened tonight. After all, if it managed to put even the smallest of smiles on this girl's face then it was probably worth it.
"Well I don't know about you, but I'm feeling a little bit hungry right now," you say as you stand up off the ground. "It might be a bit rude of me to ask, but do you think we can make a quick trip to the kitchen before we continue out here?"
Flandre gives you a small nod, and lets you help her up before the two pick up the tools that were thrown earlier, put them back in the shed for safekeeping, and head inside to raid the kitchen.
[ ] TIMESKIP, GO!!!!!
Alright guys, I'll be moving the clock ahead about two weeks in story at this point, so coming up next will be a recap of what has happened so far, and then a small summary of any significant events that occur during the time skip. Since we've hit the autosage limit, I'll be posting the next part in a new threadbut I'm not sure when that will be. Things are getting busy for me again jobwise, and I have to put priority on that before my writing. I'll try to keep this going as best I can, but real life gets in the way and all that.
Anyways, let me give some replies to some of your most recent discussion points to hopefully quell your unending rage at the potential delay.
>>57706 >>57716 For the most part this ability will activate itself automatically as it represents a subconscious action on Conner's part. He doesn't really think about dodging so much as the force just moves his body instinctively. That said it's not a perfect technique, and since Conner is basically a force newbie at this point he can still get overwhelmed. His reflexes are super sharp, but until he learns to really put the force behind his movements his body may not be able to keep up. In this situation, Flandre was actively pinning Conner down with supernatural strength, so while Conner could have tried to dodge through a conscience action Force Dodge won't activate. The fact that she didn't really want to actually hurt him also came into play here, but for the most part it was mostly due to the fact that he wouldn't have been able to move out of the way without some sort of conscious action on his part.
>>57717 If it really comes down to it yeah, I might do something like that. But in all honesty I tend not to really plan DEAD ENDS out in advance, so unless you guys make a really stupid choice through some sort of write in, death is pretty unlikely to happen overall. (Please note that any write-ins to do something obviously suicidal will be immediately vetoed by me unless I think that I can make a hilarious situation out of it) That said, it should be noted that I'm not going to move the story back just because you ended up making a poor decision. If things go badly as a direct result of your actions and you end up surviving there is no going back.
Case in point, if you had taken >>57725 as a write in option you would not have ended up in a BAD END as >>57726 had suggested. Remilia would have been pissed off if you went through with it, however, and that it would have put you on bad terms with the mansion. Not enough to get Remilia to take you off the job, but at the very least she would definitely trust you a whole lot less, and would probably put some severe restrictions on how you could look after her sister.
That's all from me for now. Hopefully I'll be able to post the next part relatively soon, but thank you all for following my story and being patient in the meantime!