The next thing you know, you are falling through an endless sea of pale blue light.
As you fall, further and further into the endless abyss, memories of your earliest childhood come to mind. You recall the tales you were told as a boy; that those children who disobeyed their parents and made mischief would be snatched up by witches and fed to the Outsider.
Looking back at your life and what you had made of it, you suppose you shouldn’t be all that surprised that you find yourself in the Void… though it has been many years since you were frightened by a bedtime story.
As if the Void itself has heard your thoughts, you finally slam against the ground seconds later. The landing is rather anticlimactic—you felt that the impact should have killed you all over again. Another surprise is the fact that you have the strength to stand.
After all, the last thing you remember was the fact that your life was slipping away between your fingers.
After steeling your nerves, you manage to stumble upwards without making too much of a fool of yourself. You then find yourself face-to-face an impossibility, something that could only be described as a fragment of the recent past:
[ ] Dunwall Tower.
You were hand-picked to be part of the vanguard of an act of such audacity that none—especially not you, little more than a neophyte in this band of knives in the dark—could believe that it was real or that it could be done.
You were proud, yes, but your thoughts had been tinged with an underlying sense of disbelief. This doubt left you when you breached the Tower’s defenses and put her guards to the sword. What little remained died in your heart when you and your brothers threw yourselves at the Lord Protector himself. Unfortunately he matched your daring with his own skill, and left you on the marble floor, clutching your torn throat.
[ ] Brigmore Manor.
Vengeance had driven you and yours to this forgotten, half-drowned mansion. Among the crumbling walls and rotten woodwork, you and your brothers fell upon the witches, armed with steel and spellcraft of your own.
You had been told to leave none alive, and had been assigned a quartet of men to command. When the task was done and your blades drenched in blood, you followed your master into a wound in the world. For all your strength and skill among the Whalers, it only earned you several seconds before you were cast out into the howling abyss of the Void.
[ ] The Flooded District.
It all came apart faster than you could have ever imagined. Wet iron and burnt whale oil filled your nostrils as your entire world was dismantled before you. You lay in a pool of your own blood, surrounded by what had once been the men you had called brothers.
Their bodies formed a ring around the room, creating a private arena for the last two fighters—a man in red and a man in black. Their blades sang as they clashed—one last song played on steel. As you clutched the meaty ropes of your intestines, you vowed to watch your master if you could not aid him. You failed even at that—the pain drove you insensate moments later, the Void taking you soon after.
A moment passes then you realize that nothing is moving—the scene before you is frozen in time, like a painting. Your last moments have been preserved in the Void, for the baleful spirits to remember for the rest of time.
It is disconcerting, to say the least.
You take one step forward, then another, your eyes transfixed upon yourself—lying off to the side, on the floor, desperately clinging on to a life that’s slipping away between your fingers. Something compels you to reach out and touch your Void-self, lying on the floor. You extend your gloved hand towards him—you?—and slowly, slowly close the gap.
“I like to preserve moments like these, here in the Void." The voice is young, male, and too close for comfort. "They come about so rarely... and are wont to slip from your fingers as quickly as they arrive. You’d think that such momentous occasions would make a bigger impact on the waking world, no?”
You glance up to confront the speaker. When you see him, standing at the other edge of the tableau, you recoil as if bitten by a viper.
Before you stands the Outsider—for who else would walk through the Void without the faintest trace of fear?
He stands among the chaos, wearing the skin of a young man in a fine brown coat. His eyes glitter like black pearls set into an ivory mask of sheer indifference. The Outsider’s gaze—those otherworldly eyes that men curse by and the Abbey wards themselves against—bores into you and it is all you can do to return it.
It is hard to tell how long he stares you down; neither seconds nor centuries seem to be able to describe the time that goes by. Then, it is over, and the Outsider’s black gaze turns from you to the tableau before him.
“You should count yourself lucky, bearing witness to such a pivotal moment in time. Though I suppose it is hard to appreciate such things when you’re choking on your own blood.”
Though his gaze has now turned to the frozen image of your master, his tone is that of a bored nobleman spoiling for a fight. When you do not answer, something in his expression flickers. You would have called it a sneer. Whatever it is, it quickly vanishes beneath an expression of apathy.
“You weren’t much more than a mudlark when you first caught Daud’s eye; when others would have seen a child trying to cut his purse, he saw a cold-eyed killer waiting for a teacher. Most men would have taken your life, one way or the other, but instead he plucked you from the streets and gave you meaning when the world would crush you beneath its heel. He put steel in your hand, a roof over your head and purpose in your heart. And for your part, you swore yourself to him.”
He walks towards you as he speaks, punctuating his words with the sounds of his footsteps.
“To think this is where it led you, those long years toiling away, those nights drenched in blood and fear.” The Outsider gestures lazily towards the howling Void. “You knew too well that those who lived by the sword often died upon it, but it's another thing to experience it altogether. Such a shame, really. If you were a painter or a natural philosopher, your mourners would say that your star was a bright one, put out too soon… but your only mourners will commend you to the deep with little ceremony and less compassion. But you don't mind; that's how it always went among Daud's men... and you wouldn't think of your death in that way, would you?”
No reply comes to mind, but it does not seem to faze your host.
“As you lay there, all you could think about was how you had failed him.” He wasn’t lying, but that brings no comfort to you. “Such loyalty is to be applauded, I suppose, but is that all you were capable of?” He smiles. “Now we’re here, asking exactly that. And to that end, you may find this useful.”
The Outsider gestures towards you with one hand. At the same moment, pain lances up your spine. Rather than receding, it intensifies and begins to spread through your body.
Throughout your life you have been stabbed, beaten, poisoned, and shot. You had resisted torture and come close to death a dozen times, but there is something about this pain that makes all others pale in comparison. A sound you barely recognize as human escapes your lips as you curl up into yourself.
“Strange shores and stranger times await you, so it would be remiss of me to not give you a little parting gift.” The Outsider either does not notice your distress, or has elected to ignore it altogether. Maybe he's even enjoying the sight of your agony. You just don't know.
The pain has reached your head now. If you had to describe it, you would have compared it to a swarm of plague rats gnawing through your skull to get at your brain. You fall to your knees, your gloved hands scrabbling at the loop that secures the industrial mask to your face, desperately trying to pry it off.
“In life, you swore yourself to Daud in exchange for power, power that I bestowed upon him in turn.”
At some point in time the Outsider has moved to stand before you. A small part of your mind—the sole part that isn’t concerned with escaping the pain—realizes that he wasn’t standing anymore, no: his feet dangled and he hovered above the ground as if he was hanging from the gallows.
“Though you shall be very far from your master, I shall let you keep the fruit of that vow. But no longer shall you be beholden to his command—your destiny is your own now.”
You desperately fill your lungs with air but still they burn as if you’re at the bottom of the Wrenhaven River. Darkness begins to creep in at the edge of your vision with each passing second, slowly collapsing the world into a tunnel. There is nothing in your mind now save pure animal instinct, a maddening desire to escape the pain that is wracking your body.
“I wonder how the coming days will change you... or how you will change them. Make no mistake, Whaler; you and your actions shall be the balancing point upon which the coming days will be decided. How you use this opportunity falls upon you, as it has to the others before you. And now, I return you to the world, but know that I shall be watching.”
With that, darkness consumes you entirely, body and spirit.
The next thing you know, you’re waking up…
[ ] In a water-laden field full of strange plants.
[ ] In the middle of a forest choked with reed-like trees.
[ ] At the edge of a great lake.
The death you pick will inform what kind of person you were before you died—your martial prowess and arcane gifts, your rank among Daud’s Whalers, and even your personality, though that last one is going to still be up in the air for these first few updates, and be decided by how you act and interact. Your entrance point into Gensokyo will decide who you're likely to meet off the bat, or any potential threats you'll have to deal with.
So, yes, this is a Dishonored quest where we’re one of the assassin Whalers who serve Daud.
If you recall someone writing a story like this long ago... then that makes two of us. I was the OP back then and I’m the OP now. Let’s hope that I can actually do it this time, and I beg the forgiveness of those I disappointed the last time around by vanishing so early on.
[x] The Flooded District.
[x] At the edge of a great lake.
I'm really happy to see this come back. Reading that first Dishonored story is what made me pick up the game in the first place and I'm glad I did. So thanks for that and for coming back.
I imagine that only the most skilled Whalers would have survived to see the climax of the Flooded District battle, plus being a bodyguard for Daud probably means a lot too. As for the lake, something tells me that the Scarlets might have need for someone with our particular skill set.
Would you care to expand a bit on what the background options entail. I am probably overthinking it, but I have convinced myself of multiple interpretations for each option. For instance I can't tell if the Brigmore Manor option or The Flooded District indicated greater skill. I am reading the Dunwall Tower option as being a rising prodigy, but I could be completely off.
Hm, should have made it clearer. My apologies. The combat experience of your character is, in ascending order, Dunwall Tower -> Brigmore Manor -> Flooded District.
You're also right to think that the first option implies a rising prodigy within the ranks of the Whalers.
Your Whaler's starting situation also determines his equipment (including wealth and bone charms), opinion regarding Daud and how things were going (though of course the nitty gritty will be up to you guys when the appropriate moments come around) and magical prowess. Remember that Daud's gifts were not given equally to his men; while I won't give an option where you have no powers, some might be better than others with certain arcane techniques. I'll keep mum on that bit for now though.
[x] The Flooded District.
[x] In a water-laden field full of strange plants.
With consciousness comes a sudden influx of water that seeps through your mask and into your mouth and nose.
It cuts off your breath and blinds you without warning. Before you know it, you’re drowning.
You lungs begin to burn as you flail about helplessly, trying to breach the surface. Somehow you find the strength and manage to raise your head above the water.
Your mask isn’t draining water fast enough so you fumble at the straps and, after what seems like an eon, manage to pry it from your face. Flinging away the mask—you hear it splash somewhere nearby, but you can’t find it in you to care at the moment—you somehow manage to pull yourself up onto your knees.
You remain kneeling for what feels like hours, gulping great lungfuls of cold air. Only when the fog clouding your mind fades do you pause to examine your surroundings.
You’re currently in the middle of a field that has been flooded with water. Judging by the neat arrangement of the grass-like plants surrounding you, you have arrived in the middle of someone's crops, though you've never seen plants quite like these.
After a few moments of observation, you realize, with only a little embarrassment, that the water you were just laying in is only a few inches deep, rather than whatever you were imagining it to be. Even if if was stagnant and tinged with the taste of ox-shit, it was a far cry from the treacherous canals of the Flooded District.
You are rather thankful for that. Even if you were already immune to the rat plague thanks to your covenant with Daud, there was no shortage of noxious waste to be found in the depths of the canals surrounding your hideout.
To be reminded of your master is rather unpleasant, so you turn your gaze outwards.
The afternoon sun hangs low in the distance, illuminating the landscape with its soft orange glow. On both sides risea up a valley of uncommon beauty; despite being knee deep in tilled land, the surrounding area seems untamed by the hands of men.
In the distance, you see a small group of figures clustered outside a small wooden hut. A winding dirt path leads away from the hut and bisects the nearby fields, all of which are full of more of those strange grass-like plants.
The edge of a forest looms beyond the edge of the waterlogged fields. The nearby foliage is thick and foreboding, even from this distance. It is plain to see that it would be easy to lose yourself (or any possible pursuers) in there.
From there your attention turns to the people. At this distance, all you can tell is that the group composes of half a dozen men dressed in what look like... bathrobes stained with mud. They are huddled around a small fire, and have yet to notice you in spite of your flailing about.
As you try to rise to your feet, pain rips across your stomach. You quietly groan and press your hand to the spot where—minutes or lifetimes ago—a man’s blade split you open like an over-stuffed sausage.
Your hands comes away bloody, which is never a good thing in your experience...though there is something to be said about the fact that your intestines aren’t currently spilling out from a gaping hole in your gut.
You wonder if you have to thank the Outsider for that.
You probably do.
The pain—combined with the sight of your blood dripping down the thick leather of your glove—has a way of clearing the haze that is currently flooding your mind.
It would be foolish to remain kneeling in the mud, that much is clear. The question is… what should you do?
[ ] Move towards the group and...
[ ] approach them directly and ask for directions.
[ ] eavesdrop on their conversation.
[ ] Avoid the men and…
[ ] follow the path leading away from the hut.
[ ] cross the field towards the forest.
[x] Move towards the group and...
- [x] eavesdrop on their conversation.
I know next to nothing about Dishonored, so I didn't feel like voting on the first one (like, where we came from and such), but now that we're in a more familiar territory I'm gonna jump right in. The other story was pretty cool, as far as I remember.
[X] Move towards the group and...
[X] approach them directly and ask for directions.
I'm voting this. I suspect a dirty, unfamiliar bloodied man may be more suspicious if he's caught eavesdropping. However since we're injured, simply asking them for directions somewhere would be less suspicious.
Uh are we still sort of injured? I remember in the previous version of the story, we had to heal ourself up some before going anywhere.
[x] Move towards the group and...
- [x] eavesdrop on their conversation.
You literally grew up in the dark places of the world. As a street rat, you darted from shadow to shadow in search of your next mark. As a Whaler, you did the same thing, though you often did a lot more than pickpocket your victims.
With that said, it’s child’s play to sneak up on this lot, even with the wound stretching across your stomach.
You ease into place behind the wooden shack—noting that the rough-shod door has no lock to speak of—and take a peek around the corner.
Several yards away are half a dozen men squatting around a small fire, passing around flasks of what can only be alcohol. They all wear mud-stained robes of rough cloth and odd-looking wooden slippers. The color of their hair and the hue of their skin is as alien to you as their fashion, which makes you wonder exactly where the Outsider has sent you. You push that unsettling thought away and continue your observation.
They are speaking animatedly about everything and nothing—for a while, they speak of a crawfish infestation in a nearby farm and how it was just the latest piece of bad luck for its owner. Then, it turns to one man’s overbearing wife, a topic that elicits many jokes at the expense of one rather weedy-looking fellow.
It would be refreshingly idyllic if not for the fact that, while you understand everything they’re saying, the farmers are undoubtedly speaking a language that is unknown to you.
You would compare the sensation to having an itch you cannot scratch, except the itch is in your brain and in your ears at the same time.
If you were to blame anyone for this, it would be the Outsider.
“I’m gonna ask her to dance this year, I swear it!” One of the younger men, an audible slur in his voice, cuts through the conversation—and your thoughts—with inebriated bravado. You note that he seems to have drunk the most out of all the farmers.
It is an observation that is shared by several of his peers, judging by the way they roll their eyes at him.
“Kamishirasawa!” He punctuates his exclamation with a raised fist.
“You’ve been saying that since we were kids, Yuichiro… and besides, the harvest festival is still weeks away from now.”
“So?! You… I… I’m telling you all now so that you’ll mark this as the day that I—”
The oldest man in the group stands up abruptly, interrupting the drunk man with a glare.
“We can continue this talk in the tavern—but not you, Yuichiro. You’re going straight home to your mother, and I’ll be sure to tell her that you’ve been drinking too much. Again.” He jabs a muddy finger into the drunkard’s chest, to the laughter of everyone present.
The old man does not smile. Instead, he takes a glance at the horizon, where the sun is rapidly descending. “We should be getting back. It’ll be dark soon.”
There is something in his last sentence that kills the mood instantly.
The farmers become silent as they stand up from their places around the fire, quickly taking up bundles of this or that to take with them. You take that as your cue to slip inside the shack—which is full of wooden farming implements and a strange metal device that reminds you of a butcher’s saw.
You catch a few last snatches of conversation as the men pass by your hiding spot.
“It’s been how many years since he’s darkened the schoolhouse’s door, and he still hasn’t given up on her? I’d call that dedication, but…”
“Well, she ages a lot slower than normal humans, so I don’t see why he’d give up on a childhood crush.”
“It’s not that. Even Yuichiro has to know that he’s got as much a chance to get with her as I do in a spell card battle against the Hakurei girl.”
“You can’t even use spell cards.”
“My point exactly.”
The rest of their conversation quickly grows inaudible. Soon, you are left alone with your thoughts. You ignore the strangeness of these men and their clothing for the more important details that you’ve gathered.
First of all, you are very far from home—so far that the Outsider saw fit to gift you with an understanding of the native tongue.
Secondly, this land is home to people who practice witchcraft openly… and some who aren’t even human.
And lastly… these people fear the dark and what it will bring.
It is hard to stomach all this at once, but you’d rather process your discoveries in safety. With that in mind, what do you then decide to do?
[ ] Follow the path and the men travelling upon it. You must reach civilization, no matter how alien it will undoubtedly be.
[ ] Head into the forest. You can probably get some rest nestled in the boughs of one of the taller trees before making your next move.
[ ] Stay in the shack for the night and treat your wounds. You don’t think you can make very far it in your current state, and the building seems sturdy enough to keep most conceivable threats at bay.
[x] Stay in the shack for the night and treat your wounds. You don’t think you can make very far it in your current state, and the building seems sturdy enough to keep most conceivable threats at bay.
I'm not entirely sure how severe the wound is, but it's better to take care of it now rather than later.
Also don't forget the whaler mask still in the water back there. It's an iconic part of the outfit, after all.
[X] Stay in the shack for the night and treat your wounds. You don’t think you can make very far it in your current state, and the building seems sturdy enough to keep most conceivable threats at bay.
You give it a few more minutes before you exit the shack. Upon exiting, you take a glance at the dirt path winding through the flooded fields. It’s tempting to just go and follow the farmers home, but you decide otherwise.
You have no idea how far away their home is, or if you would even receive a warm welcome from its inhabitants.
That you can speak their language is an obvious boon, but you know next to nothing about them or their ways.
It would be better to rest, even for a few hours, and seek their aid then. If through some cruel twist of fate you manage to offend them, it would be easier to run—or fight—than if you went there now.
The fact that you don’t have any food or water on you isn’t that troubling. Considering how much water they need to keep their fields drenched, there has to be a well somewhere nearby.
And as for food… well, you’ve gone to bed hungry more times than you care to remember.
Before you forget, you walk over to the field and retrieve your mask from where you’d thrown it. When you’re satisfied that your mask hasn’t been destroyed in your fit of panic, you return to the shack and hang your mask up to dry.
Then you peel your coat and undershirt off, and study your torso.
The first wound that catches your attention is the cut that killed you. It stretches across your stomach, from one hip to the other. Thankfully, it isn’t as deep as it was when Corvo Attano attacked your hideout in the Flooded District.
Whether that’s by direct intervention on part of the Outsider or by virtue of his gifts is unknown to you. But as the saying went, you’re not about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
You thank your stars that Daud had gone the way of the Morley rebels and instructed you and your comrades to carry a small aid kit on your person at all times. It was small and woefully under-equipped for the situation, but it was better than nothing. The alcohol you apply to your wound stings terribly, but pales before the memory of the blow that Corvo Attano dealt you.
You would have stitched yourself up, but since you lack the necessary materials you make do with unstopping a bottle of Sokolov’s famous health elixir.
While there weren’t any signs of the rat plague here, this witch’s brew of the Royal Physician’s is quite useful. Doubly so for those who had been touched by the Outsider.
There were quite a few theories as to why its effects were magnified by those who wielded magic shared by your brothers during off hours. Most of them revolved around his apparent interest in the occult; one of the novices claimed that the elixir was derived from a ritual said to curry the Outsider’s favor.
Whatever the truth was, none of it makes the elixir taste any better, that much was for sure.
A proper drink would not be amiss right now. A cold Morley ale, yes, that would be perfect to wash away the disgusting aftertaste in your mouth. Served with a plate of fried hagfish and frittered potatoes… maybe even a bosomy barmaid who’d laugh at your dirty jokes...
You grunt in annoyance as you dismiss the mental image. Daydreaming can come later… and the farmers mentioned a tavern, so this land is not bereft of alcohol.
With nothing else to do, you lean back against the wall of the shack. A sudden weariness takes you, but it’s not alone...
As you go to sleep, what emotion are you nursing in your heart?
[ ] Anger.
The bastard killed the only brothers you ever had… and worse, you were helpless to stop him. All you could do was lie there in a pool of blood—both yours and of your fallen comrades—and watch stupidly as your master faced him alone. You aren’t sure who you’re angrier at; yourself or Corvo Attano.
[ ] Awe.
The fighters danced around each other, sometimes flitting in and out of reality as one or the other employed their Outsider-given gifts. Each bled from a dozen cuts but neither seemed to notice. Even though your life was slipping away from between your fingers, there had been something captivating about the duel you had watched. A part of you wishes that you could have seen it come to its conclusion.
[ ] Emptiness.
You’ve seen many corpses throughout your life, even before you joined the Whalers. But seeing your comrades—the only men you could ever call brothers—cut down like so much wheat before a scythe has hollowed you out. Now that the truth of it is beginning to set in, you are feeling an emotional numbness that rivals the pain stretching across your stomach.
A peal of thunder dredges you up from a dreamless slumber. What drowsiness remains is washed away by water leaking through the thatched roof of the shack and onto your face. You sit up and listen to the sound of water tap-tap-tapping against the roof above.
But before you can return to your slumber, you hear something sloshing about in the fields outside your shack.
All thought of sleep leaves you as you press your face against the wall of the shack and gaze outwards through a slit in the woodwork.
There’s someone standing out there, standing ankle-deep in the water. It’s vaguely person-shaped but that is all you can make out at this distance.
As if in response to your gaze, the figure flinches. Before you can get a better look at it, a lightning strike momentarily blinds you.
When your vision returns, the figure has disappeared from view.
But they’re not gone.
Decades of hiding and rooting out those who are hiding are telling you that much.
Whoever was out there wanted you to see them.
The question is, what do you do now?
[ ] Hide.
[ ] Confront.
[ ] Evade.
[ ] Call out (write-in what you want to say.)
Forgive your foolish QM for the tardiness… we Unkindled must put our duties first.
Bandwagoning, yes, but it's an interesting motivation. We watched two of the most deadly experts of blade and magic in our world, two paragons who had caught the gaze of the Outsider himself, going head to head. It was a match the likes of which happens once in an age, and to watch from the sidelines of something like that can change you.
Again, bandwagon, but right now all we know is that we have no idea where we are. The world is full of things we can't handle, and we're not even at our best. All sign point to a confrontation going badly for us, so let's avoid it as est we can.
I am sorry for the delay, friends. Writer’s block and several new games coming out made for a near-deadly combination. I also apologize for the lack of quality in this update… also, the image for this update is hidden because... spoilers.
When you drift off to sleep, you dream of the time you crept into the Hound Pits as a boy.
It had been a fiercely cold night during the Month of Songs, and you were desperate enough to risk bringing the City Watch down on your head if it meant you had a chance at filling your stomach. You’d gone into the pub with a shiv up your sleeve and an aching hunger settled comfortably into your gut.
Despite what you and your fellow urchins believed, the men and women in the crowded back room cared not that a filthy mudlark had somehow made through the door. The most anyone would give you was a few muttered curses and a filthy glare, so you wasted no time in finding a pocket to pick before you ran into someone who took greater offense at your presence.
It did not take very long to find an easy mark. You relieved a drunkard of his coin purse—taking advantage of the fact that he was too busy negotiating the affections of a dockside strumpet to notice you. But then, as you made for the other side of the room, you found yourself drawn to the steel cage that was providing the night’s entertainment.
A part of you knows that this dream is merely that, a dream… and at the same time you’re constantly keeping an eye out from the man you just stole from; experience and the words of your elders told you to keep one eye on your mark as you plot your escape route.
Even with their reminders ringing in your ears, you can’t help but pause to watch the fight.
The older hound—a stout bitch with a ruddy coat—is nearly twice as large as its foe, and almost all of that difference made by pure muscle. Even at this distance you can see the muscles bulge beneath its skin as it snaps at its opponent.
But where the red has size, the black has feverish speed. It skirts around the other hound, dancing around only to dart in, nip at the red’s heels and back away as soon as the red manages to get a bead on it.
You watch, awestruck, as the black—still moving at breakneck speed while the red appears visibly tired—sinks its teeth into the red’s haunch.
Blood falls to the wooden floor and half the room explodes in cheers to the hound’s yelps of pain.
Then, as the black hound tears out the throat of the red, the basement is gone.
In its place is the nameless depths of Deep Ocean, so far down that the waters are pitch black.
Before you, suspended in this inky abyss, are two leviathans writhing in the frigid abyss.
One is a massive whale, an entirely different beast from the pathetic slabs of meat hauled in by the great ships. It writhes and roars with a rage you can only describe as elemental.
Its attacker is a beast that you—or any other human being, you’d wager—have never seen before; it’s a nameless, fish-like monstrosity with a score of rubbery tentacles and a maw full of teeth, each as long as your arm. It matches the whale’s ferocity with its own speed; every time the beast comes close to biting down on its rubbery flesh, the monster slips away, opening another red-hot wound across the whale’s flank.
Somehow, in the fashion of dreams, it is obvious to you that the tentacled beast is hunting the whale, even if its would-be prey was triple its size. If it was not successful here, it would die of starvation in short order.
You watch as the beast carves bloody furrows in the side with its huge maw. Then, one of the whale’s eyes is put out by a jagged tentacle. Whitish vitreous fluids leak from the ruined eye, muddying the surrounding waters.
Despite this grievous injury, the great whale only seems to be infuriated, and begins to fight all the harder. The tentacled beast thrashes one of its longer tentacles towards you, and your vision fails you.
Then the scene changes again.
You are back in the Flooded District, lying in a pool of your own blood. Again you are clutching the ropy lengths of your intestines as they threaten to spill out from your gut. Before you, their criss-crossing blades glinting in the murky light, the two greatest killers of your time do battle.
They are no farther than a few meters away and yet you’re painfully aware of the gap between you and them. Even if you were able to stand and fight, you know that you would be put down without a second thought.
Past the pain festering in your gut, there’s a hunger.
For what, exactly, you don’t know, but with every second that the fight progresses, it only intensifies.
When the Lord Protector rips your master’s back open with a blow that should have cut him in half, there’s no concern in your heart, only a lasting sensation of awe.
But you wake and forget the dream in short order—save for something you can only call longing.
You can’t stay here, and you would have to be drunk and stupid to go out and pick a fight with whatever night-terror had decided to knock on your (borrowed) doorstep. With that—grabbing your industrial mask from its place upon the wall of the shack beforehand, of course—you decide to call upon your Outsider-given gifts.
As you close your eyes and focus, that familiar tingling begins to run down your spine.
You recall the words of your master; transversal was magic fueled by the mind’s eye. Desire and imagination were as important to this magic as was determination. You take a deep breath and picture the edge of the forest.
One of the taller trees would suffice, one with a good view of the shack and thick branches for solid footing… Your stomach lurches as the spell takes effect.
With a singularly curious sensation, the magic reduces your body to a cloud of rapidly dissipating smoke.
Moments later you are deposited upon a branch that is about as thick as your torso. The sudden addition of your weight makes it sway a little, but you are confident that any sounds you made were masked by the torrential downpour.
Your new perch gives you the perfect view of the shack below. Even if the rain is pouring down like the spirits themselves wish to wash the world away, you have a decent enough view of the proceedings below thanks to the strange magic that has warped your body.
It’s a girl in a black dress, standing ankle deep in the flooded fields. By the looks of it, she can’t be more than ten years old.
For some reason, she was dragging a sack behind her, though its apparent weight did not seem to bother her in the slightest.
Before you can tell yourself that you were a fool for fleeing so hastily, a flash of lightning reveals that the sack she’s dragging is, in fact, not a sack at all.
The interloper is dragging the arm of what was once a man, though it is hard to tell anything past the fact that the poor bastard had been torn in half at the waist.
The girl steps forward—dropping her grisly trophy in the water—and, after a moment of thought, drives one hand into the door of the shack. Seconds later, the other follows. Then, after a moment of thought, she tears the door from its hinges.
The child—can you call her that still? You are not entirely sure—quickly loses interest in her prize and tosses the door over her shoulder. It flies a good distance away and lands somewhere in the watery field.
Your gaze returns to your would-be pursuer, who is standing before the empty doorway. The girl tucks her hands behind her back and peeks into the shed within.
Whatever she sees does not please the girl; she leaps forward, and in seconds, tears the shed apart. When it’s reduced to a sizable pile of wet firewood, she begins to wander about the fields, her gaze tilted upwards.
It takes you a few seconds to realize that she’s trying to catch a scent upon the wind. Like an Overseer’s hound on a witch-hunt. The sight of it is enough to send a chill up your spine.
Before you can make to move (to flee? To fight?), she stops dead in her tracks and looks directly at you.
Her eyes seem to shine in the darkness, twin rubies glittering with a hungry light.
It can’t be possible, a part of your mind whispers. No human being could do the things that she has done.
But then again, she had just demonstrated very clearly that whatever this girl was, anything but human.
A smile stretches across her round face. You suppose it would have been an endearing gesture if not for the fact that parting her lips revealed a mouthful of jagged, knife-like teeth.
The sight forces you to action; but what?
[ ] Fight
[ ] Tether and blade.
[ ] Wristbow. (specify ammunition used; see next post)
[ ] Run
[ ] Specify method: Foot, Transversal
[ ] Specify direction: Into the forest, down the footpath, write-in?
Vitality: You are more resilient than the average human being, and have low-level regeneration capabilities—small cuts and bruises heal in minutes and moderate injuries can be completely healed by a good night’s rest.
Agility: You are swifter than most, and can make jumps that would otherwise be impossible for normal human beings. You can also drop down from certain heights without suffering injuries from the impact.
Transversal: By invoking the energies of the Void you can cross great gulfs of space in the blink of an eye. Direct line of sight actually hampers the spell’s abilities: its true potential is realized when the caster focuses their willpower and imagination to visualize their destination.
Long-distance transversals (those spanning hundreds of meters to even a few kilometers) are possible, but is a taxing process for the caster that also requires an intimate familiarity or some other strong bond with the desired destination.
Tethering: This spell allows the user to lift objects and creatures and transfix them in the open air before the caster. The range of the spell extends 5 meters in all directions from the caster’s location. The caster can only pull one item/creature at a time and must release the spell’s effects if they wish to tether another target.
Arcane Assassin: A series of minor but potent changes made to your body over the course of your time serving Daud loyally.
- Low-light vision
- Decreased need for sleep
- Increased stamina
- Resilience against many drugs, toxins and poisons
The Bone Charms will be specified in a later update.
[X] Run (Foot) down the footpath. Traversal if this doesn't work well enough.
[X] Wristbow (Bolts)
If the pursuer was human, I'd say tether then tranq, but we have no idea if the tranqilizer will work on whatever this is. So instead I vote for fleeing the same way the farmers left (presumably towards a town) while shooting bolts to slow her down, then traversal to open more distance if she's still keeping up.
The way I see it, if we get close, we'll be swallowed by darkness and eaten, so we should keep our distance. I also don't see normal bolts doing squat against a youkai, whereas I think it's highly possible that we can put Rumia to sleep and then make our escape once that happens.
Time flies like arrows, fruit flies like bananas, and those fearsome flies that I call ‘Life’s Many Problems’ absolutely love to feast upon my flesh. Here’s an update, sorry for the delay. Also, how’s about that Dishonored 2 news, eh? Looks like Ms. Copperspoon’s making a comeback...
[X] Run, covering your retreat with wristbow shots.
You drop down from your roost and hit the ground running.
The fact that you’re running away from a little wisp of a girl crosses your mind for a moment, but when you consider that hours ago, you were face to face with the Outsider in all his glory, it becomes a little easier to swallow your current situation.
The rain doesn’t let up—no, it intensifies, quickly drowning out every other sound save that of your own heartbeat. It’s also doing nothing to help visibility; it seems like a miracle that you don’t trip over something and break your neck.
Maybe it’s due to spending your entire life in the cities of the Empire, but you find that the forest is more treacherous than any alleyway or rooftop you’ve had to run through—the roots are particularly treacherous. They feel like they’re reaching up from the soil in an attempt to drag you down to join them.
Even so, either through sheer luck or over a decade of experience, your steps remain unhindered, save a few close scrapes.
Your luck runs out seconds later.
Before you can even begin to gauge whether or not she is giving chase, the girl leaps out from beneath a bush and directly into your path.
She appears so suddenly that it’s all you can do to not run into her—and in moving out of the way your momentum leads you to slam your shoulder into the trunk of a gnarled tree.
You quickly regain your footing and face her with your blade drawn and wristbow loaded.
Behind your mask, your mind is racing furiously. You would have estimated that the average City Watch patrol would have closed the gap between your tree-top perch and the ruined shack in a minute, if they weren’t total idiots. Thinking yourself cautious, you had given yourself half that time for this girl to catch up to you.
But here she is, with you more the fool for it.
She’s floating meters above the ground, like a vengeful spirit. A tiny part of you searches desperately for a harness and wire—for anything to explain away this new impossibility into something you could understand, but it seems the girl kept herself afloat with nothing more than sheer force of will.
You see the dried blood on her hands and around her mouth—stark against her pale skin—and feel your dread grow deeper.
When you add it all up, it’s clear that you are painfully out of your depth. With that in mind, it’s not at all difficult to turn about and begin to run in the opposite direction.
As you run headlong into the forest, you turn your mind’s eye inwards and begin another transversal, picturing the flooded fields. But before you could muster the strength to execute the spell, the girl emerges from the shadows once more.
She greets you with a snaggle-toothed smile and a cheeky wave. Thanks to her proximity, you can see bits of what can only be decaying flesh stuck between her teeth.
“You’re fast, Mister!” Her voice is as giggly and high-pitched. It is exactly the sort of voice you would have expected to come from a girl her age. Or at least a girl who did not have teeth like broken glass and an exemplary control over magic. “A lot faster than most humans who make it this far.”
You reply by raising your left arm and firing your wristbow. The first bolt flies wide, disappearing somewhere into the darkness.
She doesn’t bat an eyelash as she knocks the second one aside with her bare fist.
The third bolt, however, comes a second earlier, catching the girl off guard.
It’s a trick your master used on every Whaler-in-training to test your reflexes. It was something you and your comrades would joke about years later over drinks, reminiscing how so many of you ended up taking a blunted wristbow bolt to the chest—or in a story retold so many times you could repeat it in your sleep, one unfortunate bastard’s crotch.
But to use it in actual combat, rather than in a dare provoked by the foolish bravery of inebriation? You have never considered it, not in all your years as an assassin.
Then again, you’ve never fought against someone who could bat away a crossbow bolt with their bare hands.
Call it a spur of the moment decision, but it seems it was the right one as she’s just too slow to deflect it. The bolt lodges itself in the girl’s eye, so deeply that the kingsparrow feathers used to fletch the bolt brush against her cheek.
Her head is knocked backwards, blood and vitreous fluid flowing down her cheek like tears. For a moment you watch her wobble from her place in mid-air, then lift her hand to her destroyed eye.
With a single movement she tears the wristbow bolt from her eye, taking with it a good part of her face—you remember that the bolt’s head was hooked, so as to maximize damage.
Not that your foe seems to care, or notice.
“That hurt, Mister, that hurt a whole lot.” She sounds surprisingly chipper, considering that she should be dead right about now.
You watch as the torn flesh bubbles over like a pot of hagfish soup, forming a thin layer of translucent skin over the gaping wound.
It expands violently, and for a moment half her face bulges out like an oversized blister, and you wait for it to explode in a spray of pus.
Instead, it violently recedes, and moments later her face is whole and unmarred once more.
“But that isn’t magic, is it? It didn’t look like it, Mister. It didn’t smell like it either.” Now the girl’s waggling her finger at you as if she had just witnessed some act of high mischief. Despite her chastising tone, there’s a bloody smile on her face. “I bet it wouldn’t taste like it, but that’d hurt lots too!”
She clenches her fist, snapping the bloodied bolt in two.
“Now I get to eat you!”
In reply, raise your arm and let a tranquilizer bolt fly.
The girl makes no move to dodge it, and the bolt lodges itself in her neck. You watch as the dart unleashes its potent payload into her body, and continue to watch as she ignores it utterly.
There’s nothing for it, you decide at that very moment. You step forward to meet her and bring your blade down to separate her head from her shoulders but she intercepts with contemptible ease.
Your sword—made of tempered Tyvian steel and hammered into shape by one of Gristol’s premier weaponsmiths—shatters into a dozen shards as she crushes it in one of her dainty-looking hands.
That very same hand, balled up into a tiny fist, crams itself into your stomach, and the wind is driven forcibly from your lungs.
As you’re driven back by blow after blow you take the time to appreciate the fact that it must be a terribly unique experience to be overpowered by a wisp of a girl who, judging by her appearance, couldn’t harm a fly.
She punches you again, and as you are flung onto your back by the sheer force of the blow, you feel something inside you break.
One of your ribs, perhaps. That thought is reinforced when the girl, closing the distance she created in no time at all, clambers up onto your torso and uses your stomach as a seat.
Her fingers slide into your flesh with only the slightest hint of resistance.
It’s a unique sort of pain, being torn apart with someone’s bare hands. It bears some similarities to being shot or stabbed—Outsider knew you’ve suffered enough of both—and yet it is entirely different.
You would compare it to being a parcel unwrapped by its excited recipient, or a beast worrying at a carcass.
Time passes as you are butchered by your diminutive attacker, and it is hard to tell whether you’re lying there for seconds, minutes or hours.
“Tasty, tasty… fill your tummy and stop the rumbly…” Her singing—which was tinged with the sort of uneasy cadence you’d reserve for someone who’d been drinking or smoking habber weed—would have been terrible in an endearing way if not for the fact that she was rummaging through your guts at the same time.
Mercifully, your consciousness fails you moments later.
Cool hands on your body, muffled voices in the distance—You’re no longer where you were, but where here is… is a mystery.
Something cool and damp is rubbed against your body, and the relief it brings makes you realize that you were uncomfortably warm. Feverish, even.
Had you gotten sick?
Had you taken a fall?
You don’t know, and as the coolness soothes your burning flesh, you decide that you don’t really care about finding out.
The sensation recedes too quickly and in its place, something hot and sharp slides into your flesh.
It sparks a ceaseless wave of agony, flooding over and into and through you. Every heartbeat only intensifies it. You scream and try to move away, but something—a dozen somethings, pressure on your knees and arms and shoulders—keeps you down.
There’s so much pain that you could drown a man in it, drown you in it, but something keeps you afloat.
You almost want it to let go.
Someone above you, breathing upon your face. You can’t tell if they’re a hand’s breadth or a fathom away, but either way they loom over you like the gallows.
Your right hand slips free reach out at the blurry figure, mumble something that’s either a threat or a plea, but your captor grabs your arm, forces it down, and holds it there.
The voices grow more desperate, but you pay little attention to it as your intent begins to fade away along with your consciousness.
When you wake, you’re greeted by...
[ ] The sound of children playing and yelling.
You lie on the ground, lying in a bedroll made of thick but comfortable fabric. The walls that surround you are bare… and seem to be made of paper. Aside from your bedroll, and a metal basin in one corner, the strange room is empty. The morning air wafting in through the open window smells like cooked meat. As you look up at the ceiling, you hear wood creak in the distance.
[ ] Warmth radiating from a pot-bellied stove.
Stacks of books hover around you, pressing in with an air that seems expectant. If not for the squashy bed and roaring fire you would have pegged this room as a spare that someone’s turned into a closet—there is hardly an inch of space that isn’t obscured by wobbly-looking towers of books. Upon one of these towers is a tiny porcelain doll—no, marionette—that has been posed in such a way that it is staring directly at you.
For a few moments you lie there, staring blankly at the unfamiliar ceiling as the dawn forces its way through the blinds of your room’s sole window.
Considering what has happened to you recently, it would be tempting to write it all off as a particularly odd nightmare—one that you’re still experiencing.
However, calling this all a dream would do you no good.
The most productive thing you can do is assume that you aren’t dreaming and work from there.
As much as you’d like to go back to sleep in this rather comfortable bed—as you haven’t slept on anything fancier than a damp mattress in what has felt like years—you slowly sit up and begin to take stock of your injuries.
Surprisingly, you are in a much better state than you expected, even if you felt like one of Bundry Rothwild’s butchers had a go at you with one of their motorized saws.
Someone has wrapped your chest and stomach in bandages, and as you cautiously pat yourself down, you do not feel the presence of any stitches upon your flesh.
Then there’s the fact that you’d be bedridden for weeks after taking that sort of beating; as of right now you’re fairly certain you could get up from the bed and hobble about for a bit.
Finally, you are fairly certain that your supernatural healing is in full effect, compounding whatever methods your saviors had used to keep you alive. As long as you take it easy and avoid fighting any more man-eating spirits, you should be back to normal in a few days or so.
You conclude your assessment with a nod, and wonder at how exactly you survived your attacker in the first place. Even if the girl did succumb to the tranquilizer eventually, you should have died in minutes, supernatural healing or no.
It’s obvious that someone rescued you and saw to your wounds, and that someone had skills that were far beyond anything you’ve ever seen before.
If you had to bet on it, you’d say magic was responsible. No, you wouldn’t have to bet on it; any fool with a lick of sense could see magic, or some other abilities beyond mortal ken, was responsible for your current survival.
How does that make you feel?
[ ] Cautious.
[ ] Relieved.
[ ] Disappointed.
Your thoughts are interrupted when you see movement out of the corner of your eye.
The puppet you had seen before—a dainty little thing that had been crafted to depict a blonde girl wearing a maid’s uniform and a pink headbow—has stood up, and is pointing at another, shorter, stack of books standing near the door. It does not move any further as you continue to stare at it.
For a few moments you consider trying and talking to the doll—or maybe touching it—but you relent; it would not do to needlessly antagonize your savior so early on.
Your attention then turns to the tower of books the doll was pointing at. Atop it was a tarnished silver tray bearing a porcelain jug, a matching cup and what appears to be a bundle of clothing.
To your mild satisfaction, your head spins only a little bit when you stand up from the bed and walk across the room.
The jug, a well-loved specimen with a chipped rim and a faded flower print, is full of cold water. A part of you wishes it was something a little stronger, but in any case, you feel it’s a good sign that your savior was willing to provide for you.
As you fill up the cup and begin to drink, you realize just how thirsty you are. You refill your cup as soon as you finish, repeating the process until empty the jug in no time at all. With your thirst sated, your attention then shifts to the bundle of clothing.
As you inspect each piece of clothing in turn, you find no immediate evidence that it is anything but what it appears to be.
The shirt is of surprisingly good quality; while not exactly the sort of thing one would wear to a nobleman’s dinner party, it is certainly a cut above the rough fabric you are used to. The trousers are of a similar quality.
You find yourself releasing a breath that you didn’t know you were holding when you learn that, yes, your savior has seen fit to include a fresh pair of underwear for you.
And yes, the underwear is a cut above what you’re used to wearing.
After dressing yourself, you stumble out of your room and into what can only be described as a living room attempting to be a library and a storeroom at the same time.
You would have called the room big if not for the fact that most of the space was occupied by book-towers, many of which threatened to brush against the ceiling. Upon closer inspection, the clutter is more varied: while the majority of it consists of books of all shapes and sizes you also see the miscellaneous debris of life, including empty bottles of wine, jars of unidentifiable organic material floating in greenish fluid and parcels wrapped in brown paper.
One of the more outlandish things you see include the stuffed head of a wolfish animal that stares at you from a perch of moldering tomes… and the pair of pink bloomers someone’s placed upon the creature’s head. The improvised headpiece had a strangely solemn effect upon the already morose-looking thing.
In stark contrast to the rest of the barely-restrained chaos, the middle of the room presents a small island of order. A solid-looking dining table fashioned of dark wood proudly carries a used tea set and several dirty plates. Several mismatched chairs—all of which appear well-used, bearing scuff marks and other signs of age—circle around the table.
Your stomach grumbles loudly at the sight of the food stains on the plates, but before you can mount an expedition for the kitchen, a door opens. A blonde woman in a blue dress walks through it… and stops as she spots you. Following behind her, floating above her shoulder, was another doll. This one is almost identical to its sister, even wearing a similar uniform, though this doll’s bow is a shade of dark red.
To her credit, the newcomer doesn’t appear all that surprised at your appearance. She instead gives you a quick once-over, her expression remarkably placid.
No, not placid… if anything, she’s looking at you—or more specifically, where your bandages would be—with a sort of detached interest.
“Hm… awake already, I see. A much more positive outcome than what Yagokoro suggested...” She blinks, then shakes her head as if scaring off a fly. “Ah, forgive me. My name is Alice Margatroid.” She bows, a gesture you find as overly formal for the setting you’re both in.
You note, with a mixture of amusement and curiosity, that the doll—which has floated over to stand on the table—mimics her perfectly.
“The owner of the house is still asleep… as usual.” She mutters that last bit in a volume that was too quiet for a normal person to hear. “I do hope you will not hold it against her.”
Alice indicates the table with one hand.
“I know you must have no shortage of questions, but please, sit down. I shall prepare breakfast… you are undoubtedly famished.”
You have no reason to refuse her offer so you do as she says and take a seat at the table.
Alice withdraws promptly, exiting the room through another door. Her absence gives you a few moments to collect yourself.
When she returns, what sort of a man greets her?
[ ] A polite one. You were taught that manners maketh man, or at least they build up him up to be a respectable one in the eyes of others. Besides, you would be representing your master and his teachings here. Joining the Whalers meant carrying yourself with a little more… gravitas.
[ ] A brusque one. You could take the mudlark from the slums, but you couldn’t take the slums from the mudlark. Not that any of your fellow Whalers tried to do anything about it. What use did an assassin have for courtly manners, after all?
[x] A brusque one. You could take the mudlark from the slums, but you couldn’t take the slums from the mudlark. Not that any of your fellow Whalers tried to do anything about it. What use did an assassin have for courtly manners, after all?
[x] A polite one. You were taught that manners maketh man, or at least they build up him up to be a respectable one in the eyes of others. Besides, you would be representing your master and his teachings here. Joining the Whalers meant carrying yourself with a little more… gravitas.
We've just been almost killed by a supernaturally strong opponent. We better be fucking cautious as hell. As for politeness, this goes well with "awe" that we've chosen earlier.
[x] A polite one. You were taught that manners maketh man, or at least they build up him up to be a respectable one in the eyes of others. Besides, you would be representing your master and his teachings here. Joining the Whalers meant carrying yourself with a little more… gravitas.
[x] A polite one. You were taught that manners maketh man, or at least they build up him up to be a respectable one in the eyes of others. Besides, you would be representing your master and his teachings here. Joining the Whalers meant carrying yourself with a little more… gravitas.
>>189879 [X] Disappointed.
We messed up bad, and need to get our shit together and git gud asap. The men from our dream wouldn't have gone down like that!
[X] A polite one. You were taught that manners maketh man, or at least they build up him up to be a respectable one in the eyes of others. Besides, you would be representing your master and his teachings here. Joining the Whalers meant carrying yourself with a little more… gravitas.
>>189926 RE: enjoyment - this story is good; murderous Rumia is a bit of an ye oldie classic, but there's still plenty of cool stuff, like having the transversal/ZOOM ability from the start. Keep it up!
Obviously that went better than the death you were expecting. Your rescuer's use of magic means they shouldn't be too surprised if they suspect your own.
(yes, I know it's too late to count, but it's still my response)
Trying not to make enemies before you even know who they are is basic common sense. You always found manners useful for accomplishing this.
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, the update is late because i hate myself.png
You exhale loudly, then wince as the pain in your ribs flare up in response.
It would be unfair to say that some part of you was not thankful for being rescued from certain death—as well as sparing you a lengthy period of convalescence, if your hypothesis proved correct. It’s painfully clear that you owe your savior a massive debt, one that you’re all too happy to pay considering that the alternative was being dead.
Even so, it’s not your primary concern.
The strongest emotion you feel right now, beyond relief and more than a little uncertainty, is disappointment.
You were a Whaler. That was a name that inspired fear throughout the social strata of Dunwall, a name that made even the Royal Spymaster himself hesitate.
It was a name given by fearful sheep to the wolves that lurked at the edges of the firelight. It was a name that meant something, and it was a name that you have shamed through your failures.
At least that is what you tell yourself.
Only in your heart of hearts are you willing to think otherwise.
Your dissatisfaction had a more personal source. You’d gone from one disastrous defeat to another, in a matter of hours. The worst part was that you could not have done anything, despite how much you wanted to.
You hated being at the mercy of others; you might as well have been a mudlark again, cowering before every swaggering thug or City Watchman—not that there had been a practical difference between the two, during your boyhood—you crossed paths with.
When you’d caught Daud’s eye, the days of cowering in the shadows had been over. Or so you thought.
Thinking of your weakness leaves a taste like ashes in the mouth.
You decided that it was decidedly unpleasant.
A few minutes later, the mistress of the house appears, dressed in a white nightgown.
Like Alice, she is fair-skinned and blonde, though she’s a good deal shorter.
She barely spares you a glance, only stopping to mutter something you think is supposed to be a ‘good morning’, before taking a seat and promptly resting her head upon the table, her mussed hair falling over her face and concealing her features.
You are spared from any further awkwardness as Alice returns from the kitchen moments later, bearing a tray in both hands. A flock of marionettes—all of them small, dainty, and blonde—floats behind and above her, all of them carrying food or plates or utensils.
Instinctively, you make to stand up and offer to set the table—despite knowing that you would probably only get in the way—but Alice raises one hand.
“No, no, please sit down.” Despite her refusal of your help, Alice appears visibly pleased at your offer—and at your expression of muted awe at her naked display of magic. Her expression sours a little bit as she regards the newcomer, but she returns her attention to the food.
And what food it is.
Flapjacks and fried eggs and rashers of bacon glistening with melted fat… scones and fresh fruit, even tea and coffee with all the necessary condiments… it’s the type of meal you’d expect at a nobleman’s house.
A part of you realizes that your opinion of your impending meal is significantly heightened due to the fact that you’ve been eaten canned whale meat and hardtack for what feels like the past decade or so, but it’s hard to care about that.
“The doctor said you would be quite hungry when you awoke,” Alice said matter-of-factly, as she handed you your utensils, which you took with a muttered ‘thank you’. “So I took the liberty to setting a full table… and in any case, it’s been a while since Marisa’s had guests.”
You watch in barely-concealed fascination as the half-dozen dolls march around the table. You would compare them to laborers toiling over a construction site, if not for the fact that all their movements seem to be perfectly choreographed for maximum efficiency. The constructs are remarkably strong for their size; it only takes two of them to carry a platter that is absolutely laden with freshly-cooked hotcakes.
You note, with more than a little amusement, that the dolls take great pains to avoid the girl’s sleeping form as they set the table. Their caution seemed to be somewhat unwarranted; Marisa moved every now and then in order to let the dolls move freely.
So this wasn't anything new to the younger girl. Interesting.
The largest of the assembled dolls—you recognize it as the one following Alice when you first met her by its large red bow—is the last to finish its work, gently arranging your plate and utensils before you.
“Thank you, Hourai.”
The little doll bowed before floating off through the open door, its unadorned comrades hot on its heels.
The sound of the door closing behind the swarm of marionettes is enough to rouse Marisa from her slumber, for she has begun to mutter and moan.
“Aaaaaaalice…” Marisa whines. “Coffeeeeeeeeeee…”
“If you looked up, Marisa, there’s a fresh pot waiting for you. And do sit up—you have a guest.” When Marisa does not respond, Alice sighs gustily. But rather than continue chastising her, she pours out a cup.
Marisa reaches out and latches onto the cup like a tippler to his tankard. She moves so quickly that she nearly snatches it from Alice, who manages to retract her hands just in time.
“Please forgive her. She’s not much of a morning person.” Alice says, a mildly irritated expression on her face.
“It’s fine, really.” You smile, though it does nothing to mollify Alice, who only sighs once more.
It takes a little time, but as soon as Marisa’s cup is emptied, she manages to right herself. With Marisa (somewhat) revitalized by her morning coffee comes a better opportunity to study the owner of the house—discreetly, of course.
At first, you think that she is Alice’s younger sister, but on closer inspection you realize that despite Marisa’s fair hair and complexion, her features still have a mildly foreign cast to them. You are reminded of the men you first saw upon arriving in this land. Was she of mixed parentage?
“Thanks...” Marisa’s voice is noticeably subdued, and maybe even a little embarrassed as she pours herself another cup of coffee. “I really needed that.”
“You’re welcome, Marisa. Now that we’re all here,” Marisa has the grace to look embarrassed at Alice’s words, but otherwise remains silent. “Let’s eat.”
There are no disagreements there.
Nobody speaks during the meal, except when one of you asks the others to pass this or that, which in your opinion shouldn’t count as conversation.
Even then, you can tell that both your hosts prefer to ask each other rather than you whenever they need something passed to them.
You suppose they’re only being polite.
As no one is particularly talkative, the meal goes by quickly, with Alice finishing first. You come in second, despite taking the most food out of all three of you. Marisa is still fiddling with a scone by the time you and Alice have finished.
“Thank you, Miss Margatroid. Breakfast was delicious.” You give her a small, polite smile.
“You are most welcome, sir.” She does not respond in kind, but her expression is pleasantly neutral, at the very least. “It’s the least that I could do.”
“I, uh, thought Yagokoro said he'd...” Marisa trailed off as Alice quirked an eyebrow upwards—a gesture so subtle that you would have missed it, if the younger girl had not pointed it out with her hesitation. “Er, that he’d be bedridden. Until further notice.”
“So did I.” In contrast, Alice’s tone remains utterly businesslike. “It seems even she can be wrong, every now and then.”
Something about that surprises Marisa, more than a little bit, causing her to stop halfway as she’s pouring what you think is her fourth cup of coffee.
“Don’t let her hear you say that.”
“I’ll keep it in mind.” Her attention then turns to you. “Once, I was a stranger to this land, as you are now. Though I think it would be fair to say that I did not have nearly as hard a time as you did upon my arrival.”
“I know you have no shortage of questions… and we both have more than a little time to spare.”
Any complaints that Marisa had was silenced with a look. Alice then looks back to you, a mildly expectant expression on her face.
“It'd be a waste of all our collective efforts if you went and died because you stumbled into a youkai's den and got yourself eaten, after all. So, please, ask away.”
What do you ask your hosts? List as many questions as you want, but pick three of the questions you want answered most, as the answers may take too much of your hosts’ time to answer all your questions.
QM’s Note: While I won’t ask you to make the decision now, do you prefer giving your protagonist a name or not? I find it’s a little easier to write dialogue if there are names to use—but I want to know what you think about it. If you do want a name for your protagonist, why not give a suggestion?
[x] What attacked me?
[x] Where am I?
[x] How did you find me?
[x] Who is the doctor?
[x] How can I combat such things?
I'm a bit torn about asking for combat training. I guess it wouldn't hurt but the Dishonored player in me would much prefer using that time to double down on stealth to get it up to par. But better to have it and hopefully rarely need it, I suppose.
Figuring out who the local miracle working doctor is and where they live is just good sense. I'm sure we'll need Eirin's services again in the future and getting on good terms is probably a good idea. Failing that we should find someone else who can patch us back together when we fuck up again. And I'm sure we will, judging by how things have gone so far.
[x] What attacked me... What was it? A human turned monster or a monster that looked like a human?
[x] Where am I?
[x] How did you find me?
[x] Who is the doctor?
It’s hard to marshal your thoughts into a coherent sequence of queries. You decide to pick one of the bigger questions you feel can be answered without needing too many explanations. Though you’re already fairly certain you’re destined for more than a few speeches on the land’s local politics—and quite possibly its metaphysics as well—you want to get this out of the way first.
“What attacked me? She… It looked human, but…”
“Her name’s Rumia.” It’s Marisa who answers. “She’s not human, yeah. She's a youkai.”
The word is unfamiliar to you, and for a moment you wonder if your Outsider-given ability to translate their language is failing you.
“Youkai? I apologize but I'm not familiar with the term. I’m a stranger to these lands—if you haven’t realized as much already.”
“Eh, it’s okay. I was gonna get to that anyways.”
Marisa waves her hand airily, nearly knocking over one of the dolls skittering across the table. She ignores it as straightens itself and brushes its dress with indignation. Its tiny features screw up into a scowl and it raises one of its hands to make a rude gesture, which the young woman is completely oblivious to its ire.
“A lot of people stumble over the border not knowing which way’s up... and a lot of them get eaten before they learn how things work here. Guess you’re one of the lucky ones.”
“You’re going off topic, Marisa.” Alice takes a positively dainty bite from her buttered roll.
“It’s important context, okay?” Marisa huffs in annoyance at having her flow interrupted.
You manage to catch the faintest huff coming from Alice’s direction, but it seems Marisa failed to hear it—or elected to ignore it altogether—as she continues as if nothing had happened.
“The word ‘youkai’ is a bit of a catch-all term. Spirits, monsters, oni… they’re all youkai.” She pauses, her brow furrowed in thought.
“Basically, we use it to refer to supernatural beings of all stripes and forms. I mean, you can be more specific, but generally it’s really a waste of time, and it’s not like anyone has time to create a whole taxonomy for magical creatures.”
“Well, I’m sure some youkai have more than enough time for something like that… but ones I've met don’t really seem the type. Too self-centered... or too stupid.”
“Spirits and magic, you say?” You chuckle dryly. “Normally, I'd say you were playing me for a fool, but considering my… encounter with this Rumia, I suppose I have no choice but to believe you.”
In truth, you’re overplaying your disbelief a little bit. While you’ve never been attacked by a man eating spirit, you’ve seen magic before—and wielded no small amount of it either.
“That is admirable of you, and in my opinion, the wisest course of action. You wouldn’t believe how many outsiders refuse to acknowledge the youkai that’s trying to gnaw their arm off. It’s quite sad, really.” Alice smiles in a way that is almost amused.
On that cheery note, they begin to describe Gensokyo for you. Alice and Marisa take turns illustrating this ‘Land of Fantasy’ to you—a refuge frozen in time, made to save the last few oddities and things-that-go-bump-in-the-night fleeing a world where the perpetual march of rationality and natural philosophy have literally erased magic from the world.
It’s a lot to take in, and not just for the reasons they’d assume. Even if both your hosts aren’t knowledgeable on it, it is hard not to ask questions about the world you have supposedly left.
You do not wish to reveal your otherworldly nature to these two—even if they have shown you nothing but plain hospitality, you’ve only known them for less than an hour.
The possibility of them having some magical one-way ticket back home was there, yes, but it was foolish to act on that admittedly far-fetched hope without knowing them better.
It’s better to be safe rather than sorry, after all.
In any case, there’s a lot to absorb in a short period of time, though it’s clear that what they’re giving you is by no means an exhaustive summary. Whenever they describe some local landmark, one of them shoots a glance at the other and says that it’s not a good idea for an outsider to go there unattended, or something to that effect.
You have always been bad at following such advice, but you go through the motions—you nod and make noises of agreement and pose the occasional question.
All the while, Alice’s constructs clean up the remains of breakfast. The dolls march about like an army breaking camp, albeit an army that moves with perfectly synchronized movements. Most of the dishes are removed by the time you've begun to properly process this new information.
By the time the table is once again spotless, Marisa has already begun to recount her first meeting with you.
“I found you in the Forest of Magic. You were, well. I thought you were dead, to be honest.” Marisa shrugs off-handedly, though you can tell that the memory isn’t exactly a pleasant one for her. “Rumia was there, and it looked like she was gonna eat you—was being the operative term, here, ‘cause she’d fallen asleep, right on top of you. It would’ve been adorable, if… well, if it was anyone aside from Rumia. I, uh, suppose you had something to do with that?”
“Yes.” You don’t see any reason to try and deceive them. They must’ve gone through your things anyways, so trying to lie would be rude at best. “I carried a powerful sedative, contained within a dart. I shot her with it… when she didn’t react, I assumed that it was simply my time.”
“That’s not the weirdest weapon I’ve seen, to be honest.”
“It must be quite the drug, if it could render her insensate.” Alice is looking at you now with a fraction more interest than before. You are unsure how to feel about that.
“Mmm. It’s just a shame it took so long to start working.”
“Yeah, but you're lucky. It’s been a long time since a know-nothing outsider’s crossed paths with Rumia and lived.” Marisa’s eyes widen when she realizes what she just said. “No offense.”
“It’s not an insult if it’s true. That’s why I’m talking to you, isn’t it? To relieve myself of ignorance?”
“Yeah, haha. Anyways, ah, after seeing you, I got Rumia off of you—yeah, that woke her up right away, but I managed to convince her that you weren’t worth the trouble of getting her ass kicked thrice over...” Marisa smiles a little bit. “Well, yeah, I kicked her ass and managed to drag you back here before you bled to death. Alice was in the neighborhood and thankfully we managed to keep you alive long enough to get Yagokoro—one of Gensokyo's best... if not the best doctor here—over to patch you up. And... here we are.”
“I am indebted to this Yagokoro, then.” You are fairly certain that you butchered the pronunciation of the name, but neither of your guests seem to mind. “Where does she live?”
“She lives deep within the Forest of the Lost, but she has an assistant who sells her medicine in the Human Village.”
“I suppose that’s where she gets most of her patients rather than her home in this forest.”
“Yes. As the name implies, there are only a few who can travel through the forest without, well, getting lost.” Marisa shrugs. “On top of that, only a handful of people are willing to serve as guides. People don’t mind, though—hauling the sick and elderly to a youkai-infested forest isn’t exactly a good idea. It’s just more convenient to have the medicine where it’s needed most, isn’t it?”
“I see. Would you happen to know one of these guides?”
Marisa blinks in surprise.
“Oh, yeah, I know one of them. Not very well, but I do know her. You, uh, wanna go visit Eientei, do you?”
“Yes. I owe Yagokoro, and am not in the habit of leaving debts unpaid.”
“That’s an admirable sentiment,” Alice leans in a little, waving a finger in the air. “But you need not worry. Yagokoro is a very understanding woman; if she were here she'd tell you that you should focus on regaining your strength before thinking about the payment.”
“Her bedside manner is terrible, though.” Alice rolls her eyes at Marisa’s comment.
“I see.” You sigh softly. “Thank you for the advice, Miss Margatroid.”
After that, the conversation tapers off quickly. Marisa, seemingly unable to stand the silence, is first to leave. She ambles off, muttering something about a bath. Alice follows her, offering the young woman with a few muted words you assume are chastisements.
She returns later to find you fiddling with your half-finished cup of tea.
“I would have said that you're in no state to travel, but that would be wrong, wouldn't it?” Alice gives you a small smile. “If you so wish I can accompany you to the village as soon as you are ready. When we get there, I can introduce you to some people who can hopefully see you home… though I would not hold it against you if you wished to rest some more. Marisa would not begrudge you staying here for another night or so.”
What do you do?
[ ] Stay and rest.
[ ] Go with Alice.
QM’s Note: Forgive me for the delay and the relatively short update—university has begun for me. I should try to make shorter updates so I can put them out faster and have something remotely resembling a schedule… but yeah, that’s on me to do. So, my bad. I’m very, very embarrassed about this once-a-month-updates thing. So yeah. Feel the need to apologize. Yeah.
Please note that this would probably be a surname or given name—you may suggest a whole name, if you would prefer one on the character sheet... and if you dislike this selection, you can pick something from this link (http://dishonored.wikia.com/wiki/Summon_Assassin/Names) or suggest an entirely different name altogether.