"Come on!" I pull at Amalia's arm, "We need to hurry to Sunday School! Kerstin said today's lesson will be about the other countries in the New World!"
No response. She just keeps sitting there, staring at her hand. So strange! I don't remember her ever having trouble getting up in the morning! Maybe she didn't sleep well after all? Or maybe it's that puberthing! I hope not because Kerstin says it'll happen to me too any day now and I don't want to be a lazy sleeper!
"Hey! Amalia!" I try again, gently poking her with my foot while simultaneously putting my dress on. Then a little harder.
"Amaliaaa- OW!" Maybe a little too hard, I admit as I lose balance and fall right down on my butt. And even then, she still won't stop staring at her stupid hand. This has to stop! I push myself back onto my feet, pick my pillow back up from the floor and start the countdown.
"This is for your own good! Three!" Draw.
"Two!" Take aim.
"...two more minutes." She finally mumbles lazily. Two more minutes, though? We're already late!
"Fine, but I'm going on ahead so hurry!"
The only response is a muffled "'kay" as I leave the room, prepared to make a run to the church. That is, until I catch a particularly rare scent, one that hasn't found its way into our house for so long. So unmistakable, I'm not sure how I didn't detect it earlier.
Sure enough, I find Papa already seated with a basket of delicious fresh bread and the table set for three. Though it looks like he started without us. He casts a single glance at the table as he responds.
"Well, it seemed fitting that we would celebrate a little now that Amalia is back home. Little did I know you'd both decide to oversleep and miss the entire thing. I guess the two of you had a lot to talk about last night, huh?"
Hrm, I wish! We barely talked at all! And now I'm going to miss the fresh and warm bread! It looks so good, too! Although...
>I'll just bring a slice with me!
>No time, have to hurry!
Moons damn her, why does she keep doing this! Is she trying to mock me? Tease me? Or does she seriously not see what she's doing to me, how she's making me feel?
Damn it all!
I wish I could just turn this stupid feeling off, put it out like any ordinary fire. Instead it just keeps growing, keeps spreading into every part of my body, even the parts I'm not meant to have. And it keeps. Tingling. Everywhere!
I try to take my eyes away, I really try, but I just can't stop looking. It's so sparkly, as if someone had dipped my hand into a bucket full of fairy dust. Is this really normal? Is it really meant to feel like this? Am I meant to feel...
No, probably not. Nothing about me is normal. Never will be.
Okay now, deep breath. I'm stronger than this, I can fight this, I can keep ignoring it. For her. Just look away!
...No good. It just keeps pulling me in, swirling, twinkling, entrancing. I wonder how it...
>Whichever you choose, please roll d100 for Amalia's Willpower.
I need you to vote in both of the above, please.
>Mistress' current opinion: 15/100
>Lily's current opinion: 05/100
> Herbalism: Fledgling
> Penmanship: Uninitiated
> Infusion: Unitiatated
> Twitter: https://twitter.com/FriendQM
> 4plebs (RIP .moe): http://archive.4plebs.org/tg/search/subject/Witch%20Apprentice%20Quest/order/asc/
> Suptg archive: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive.html?tags=Witch%20apprentice%20quest
> Nadja's Notebook: http://pastebin.com/k9cMVURJ (updated 03-10-2015)
>The 'Additional Pages' section of the notebook is open to you as players to add your notes about anything in the quest that you feel is worth noting. Weird things, notes about characters, anything. My hope is that this will help the notebook to serve not just as a witchy "cookbook" but also as a means for you to communicate to each other and to me what you sense to be important.
>If you want something added to the notebook, just say so here in the thread! Try to make the note as visible to me as possible, and to the extent that you're able try to use Nadja's voice as you perceive it. If you don't feel confident, just write something and I'll edit it before adding it to the notebook!
I understand that issue and am trying to make sure the text contains reminders to jerk your memory about any current decisions, but if something is still unclear you can always ask! Hopefully either I or a fellow player has answers.
"I'll just bring a slice with me!" is the clear winner of first vote.
Highest roll: 63 (It could have been worse!)
"Lick it" is leading the second vote.
"I'll just bring a slice with me! With delicious raspberry jam!"
Papa chuckles softly as he finishes the last of his slice. "Better hurry or you'll be late."
Yes! Hurry mode activated! Bread, knife, jam, spread, woops spilt a bit, clean, finish. "Done! Have a great day, Papa! And tell Amalia to hurry!"
I only hear him laughing at something as I hurry on my way, my prize firm in my left hand, ready for on-the-run consumption. As I exit the front door however, I can't help but feel as if something is strange today, but I can't quite place. I stop and look up, but the sun is shining again like it should be. I look around, but the market is busy again like it should be. And the birds are singing again, like they should be. So what is it that-
Ah! That's it! It's warmer outside than inside! That's what's different! Papa must not have started the forge yet! He usually works even on Sunday. Must be because he made that special breakfast instead. He must really like Amalia a lot to make a big deal out of it like that. But then who wouldn't like her? She's so cool and awesome and- oh no! I forgot I'm supposed to be running! And eating!
I leap into a sprint, and come to an immediate halt as I bump into something soft and black. Or rather, my breakfast. Raspberry jam first.
"Oh no! I'm so sorry Miss I wasn't looking and I'm in a really big hurry and I'm very sorry and uhm please go just go inside and tell Papa it was my fault and he'll help very sorry have to hurry bye bye!"
I feel super bad leaving her like that, it's so rude, but I really do have to hurry today.
At least there's still a bit of jam on my bread.
>Please wait patiently, returning to Amalia's world. Multi-track questing is a bit above my league.
It's only been 3 months? Then why do I feel like I haven't run for 6? Either way, I've been all sorts of busy! But that's good because it's better than being idle, even if being idle means more questing!
It's a conspiracy.
This is so stupid, I'm just imagining things, that's all. There's nothing on my hand. Still, I just have to know. A quick scan of Nadja's room confirms that she has already left. I am all alone. Nobody is watching. I bring my hand to my mouth and give it a quick li-
>Rolled 63 (1d100)
Colors! Colors everywhere, in my eyes, in my lips, in my- So good! Tingles so good! More! Lick it more, lick it all up! All...
Gone? So soon? But it was so good, so sweet, so right. And all the colors, so pretty, now they're gone. Come back, colors!
Just for a little... bit?
Damn it. I just made it all worse, didn't I? Stupid, stupid, stupid! And now my hand is all sticky too. Pathetic. Get it in your freakish head, Amalia! You can't have her!
There's nothing more to do her. I'm supposed to go to church today, right? Sunday school? Not much of a church or school with the real priest absent, but Nadja seems to think Kerstin is actually competent. She's nice, sure, but a teacher?
I should just run away. Right now, not go to school and see her again, not wake up tomorrow and see her again, not risk ruining everything all the time. But I can't even do that, every time I try I imagine her face in tears. So we'll do it all again today. And again tomorrow. For her.
Damn it all.
No sooner have I taken a step out of her room before the old man's voice calls me out.
"Amalia, come sit and talk for a moment."
"I'll be late for s-"
"We both know you don't really care about that, Amalia. And we need to talk."
Her old man has always been good to me. More than good, really. Almost as if he was my real father. He ain't, but still...
>I owe it to him, hear him out.
>I really can't handle more of this now, think of an excuse.
>Other? (Write-in option)
Might as well not even have asked, it seems. Deeper into Amalia's world we go!
I owe it to him, might as well hear him out. I turn about, only now feeling a rumble in my stomach at the sight of the breakfast table. Skipping the seat with crumbs and jam sprinkled all over the table, I sit down opposite of the old man and make a move for the bread basket. For a moment, he seems content to simply watch. Unfortunately it is only a moment.
"Your father came by last night."
Great, it's gonna be that kind of talk. I'll need an extra layer of jam for this.
"Gilbert ain't my-"
"Don't start that." He huffs, visibly annoyed.
I bite down, making sure to take an extra large bite before replying through a mouth full of bread. "'s fe troof."
He looks away, trying to hide his amused smile. He takes a deep breath, then pauses for a long time, glancing back and forth between myself and his workshop. Still cold.
"He told me what happened. All of it."
Always had a big mouth, Gilbert. Or maybe he's just a coward. Probably both. "Do me a favor 'n keep it to yerself then, hm?"
"Are you sure that's what you want?"
I take another bite, chewing it very slowly as I keep him waiting. "Very. We done?"
He shrugs, defeated. "It ain't healthy keeping secrets like that, you know. But I'll respect your wish."
I grab what's left of my meal and turn to the door. "Thanks. For a whole lot."
With an understanding nod, he stands up as well, no doubt eager to begin another day of work. I brace myself for another day listening to Kerstin babble, only to find yet another interruption enter the storefront, doorbell ringing to announce her arrival. What's worse, it's a distraction of the freakishly tall variety.
Immediately, Andreas is ready to greet the potential customer. "Welcome, welcome, how may I assist you... ah."
And with that, he has noticed the hag's latest scheme. Or the bait anyway. She laughs in a manner so exaggeratedly flirtatious you'd think she hadn't left her hut for years. Maybe she hasn't. "Hmhm, the young lady who left a moment ago said you could help me with this."
She points to the mess of jam conveninently left on her stomach, all the while blatantly trying to draw attention to a different part of her outfit.
The old smith replies with an awkward laugh, desperate to keep the mood humorous. "I suppose I did tell her to hurry today. Just a moment, I'll fetch a cloth for you."
"Make sure it's a wet one!" She shouts after him, softly laughing to herself.
And that's about as much of that scene as I can take without vomiting. Though it would be fun to make a mess of her shoes as well, I decide to keep my breakfast to myself and hurry on out of there.
Now, judging by the position of the sun the time is... Yep, I'm late alright!
>Might as well take it slow, make sure the lesson is as short as it can be.
>Just walk like a normal person, I'm already late anyway. What's a few extra minutes?
>Hurry, maybe I can save myself another chewing out from Kerstin. Take the "shortcut."
>And i don't mean adoption.
Neither did I.
Despite historically having been looked down on pretty much everywhere in our world, in this world it is actually perfectly legal in certain countries.
The Empire isn't one of them.
>Despite historically having been looked down on pretty much everywhere in our world
Not really true. In renaissance France the church even legal recognized de facto "enbrotherment" marriages.
>Are we in the Empire?
Don't worry, you're going to school today, hopefully you'll have a bit of an impression of where in the world you are after that. Depending on how good a teacher Kerstin is, of course!
The annoying thing about Hinde is that it's so vertical. Getting from one end to the other involves a lot of zigzagging up or down various sets of stairs. Even though the church is practically right next to Nadja's house, walking there would take almost fifteen minutes. That is, if you're a normal person.
Mentally shutting out the sultry laughs coming from inside the house, I leap at the wall of old Weiss' house. Between it and the smith's house, they make for the perfect emergency stairs and with just three quick leaps from wall to wall I find myself on the old Weiss' roof. He won't mind, the man has been deaf for years. There, halfway already!
Next up, the alley between the tailor and the other smith has always been kind to me. A brief minute of pushing my way through the market crowd, another four leaps and there! All ready for school!
Remembering to take a moment to brace myself, I push open the heavy door to be bombarded by the sound of Moons know how many brats convenient dumped on the local religious institution in favor of actual parenting. Fortunately, their attentions seem entirely focused on poor Klemens, desperately trying to calm the little goblins as he apparently is tries to read to them from a book. Guess his sister bullied him into taking over for the day.
At the far end of the church, I see Kerstin calmly motioning for me to follow as well as Nadja cheerfully waving to me. This can't possibly be a good sign.
"Almost on time today, Amalia." Kerstin remarks, not quite scolding but certainly condescending. "Perhaps next week, hm? Anyway, I've prepared a very special session just for the two of you today. The Young Lady's Guide to the New World!"
Definitely not good.
Why is Amalia being so glum? This lesson sounds super fun! I bet it'll be about all the pretty dresses they wear in other countries! Oh right, she doesn't like pretty dresses. Oh well, at least she got up after all! I hope Papa didn't have to yell or anything to wake her up.
"We'll take this up to my room so we can have some quiet." Kerstin says as she leads us into the back of the church and up a narrow flight of stairs, every step creaking beneath us. I don't think I've ever been in this part of the church, actually! So this is where she and Klemens live?
Swinging left after the stairs, we arrive in a room that is. Just. Adorable! A pink fluffy bed in the corner, a pink carpet in the middle, frilly pink drapes on the walls, and a cute little table with a teaset at the side.
"Woah! Your room is amazing, Kerstin!"
Kerstin giggles in response. "Thank you! I'm glad at least somebody likes it!"
"Huh? Who wouldn't like this?"
"Never mind that, please sit down and let us begin!"
We do so, though Amalia lets out a dissatisfied grunt. She doesn't like this, either? Kerstin remains standing, putting on a worryingly large smile.
"Now, Amalia, Nadja... What would you say your ideal man is like?"
Amalia lets out a loud groan at the question, and Kerstin instead turns her attention on me.
"My uhm... I, uh..."
Kerstin just keeps grinning. "Don't be shy now, you're a big girl! Surely you've thought about this! Should he be rich? Or strong? Or maybe something completely else?"
What kind of lesson is this? I don't know the answer to that question! "Uhm... If I have to say something, I guess..."
Now Amalia is staring at me too!
>Something else? (Write-in!)
Strong AND brave.
Guess she'll have to up her game before someone steals him away!
"...strong? Strong and brave like Papa!"
Kerstin just laughs at that while Amalia tilts her head at me in confusion.
"Uhm, was that the wrong answer?"
She laughs even harder, not settling down until Amalia gives her an angry look.
"Sorry, sorry! It's just... There's no wrong answer, you silly little girl! I'm asking what you would like, and that's your decision only! I guess you really haven't thought about it yet."
Finally taking a seat herself, she clears her throat. "Well then, I'm sure you'll find out eventually. And hopefully with this lesson, you'll know exactly where to look for Mr. Right!"
"Wait!" I interrupt. "Amalia didn't answer yet!"
Kerstin answers with a soft smile in Amalia's direction. "I would need a highly trained inquisitor to force her to answer a question she's clearly unwilling to answer. Let's save that for another day, shall we?"
"But!" Not fair!
"Now then, the Empire you should know well enough, seeing as you've lived here all your life. So let's start with the Republic."
She clears her throat once more, before beginning her lesson.
1 / I lost count
"+The Republic of Tullia+
The second largest power in the New World, the Republic values one thing above all else: Wealth. Coins of gold, vast ranges of fertile land, military conquests, as long as it brings wealth to your Family and the Republic it is the highest goal of any man. It is the one measure by which he is judged and determines his position in society, from the highest patricians in the Senate to the lowly plebeian making a living in the streets of Tullia. Wits, strength or charisma, any means towards the goal are justified. That is, all but one.
Second in the heart of the Republican is duty and obedience to the family. The Patriarch guides his family to security and prosperity and they, in turn, heed his counsel. The man with a large and healthy family is wealthy in the eyes of the gods and blessed with eternal life through the legacy he passes to his children and the children of his children.
As you may have guessed, the Republic does not adhere to the Imperial faith and instead worships an immense pantheon of pagan gods, each representing a single concept such as Courage, Trade, or Patience. So many are there, each family could claim one as their personal deity and not have to share with others. I say could, for the gods are not loved equally and many receive worship only in desperate times.
But hey, if you can put that aside, I bet a pair of cuties like you could easily land yourselves a rich and loyal husband!"
With a roll of her eyes, Amalia decides to interject. "Just stick to teachin', please."
Kerstin grunts, insulted. "I am teaching! Teaching you the actually important stuff! Anyway, next up..."
The place to be if you want a life full of wonders! The Alliance is the result of a handful of rich but not particularly righteous city states joining forces to remain independent of both the Empire and the Republic and is about as lawless as a place can be and still be called an actual country. It's not all bad of course, as the unrestrained lifestyle means the great cities of the North are home to all of the greatest artists of the New World and with them, wonders not even the Imperial Capital could hope to match!
But it's also a dangerous place where robbers, pirates, and all other sorts of roguish types make their living. But perhaps a bad boy is just the right thing for you, hmm?
Anyway, traditions, religion, all of that you can forget about there! Nobody cares what you think and you make your own rules. Only the really extreme things like murder are illegal, and even then the law is barely enforced. Freedom or Death is the motto of the North."
Amalia begins to sink deep into her chair, not even bothering to protest anymore as Kerstin moves on with the program. Does she already know this?
"+The Western Reaches+
Where adventure happens! The lands west of the Empire are still mostly unexplored and untamed. Really, we don't even know yet how far the continent stretches, nobody has reached the end yet. Or if they have, they didn't come back! There are cities and towns, sure, but most attempts at forging these into actual kingdoms fall apart within years. I could tell you of some of the ones that exist right now, but in a few years they might not, so what's the point? Sadly, the only example of a lasting realm to have sprung up is the dreaded Kingdom of Lent. But let's save that for last!
As you might expect, the men of the Western Reaches are a tough bunch. From scorching deserts in the Northwest to the swamplands in the Southwest, carving a living out of those lands is a daily struggle, and that's before even mentioning the monsters that run rampant, far more so than the sightings here in the Empire. For this reason, Westerners are famed for their hospitality. After all, you never know when you're the one whose farm was torched by a dragon.
But more importantly, the men are built! Imagine snuggling up next to a hunk with arms as wide your chest after a hard day of labor. Mmh...
No? No reaction at all? Ah well, you girls just don't know what you like yet. Moving on, then! Last one on my list, so we're almost done for the day."
"+The Kingdom of Lent+
The big no-no. Lent is just across the border near here but you should never, ever, go there. Truthfully, we're not really certain what goes on in that kingdom, but they frequently launch raids on nearby countries, and have even tried to invade the Empire several times. In fact, Lent is the reason the Baroness decided to join the Empire so that we would be safe from them! They say it's ruled by an wicked witch-queen, but really, we don't even know that. Just don't ever go there, okay? It's a very bad place!"
"And that concludes the les-"
A loud crash from downstairs interrupts Kerstin, her eyes going wide in shock. "Ah! I uh, should go see what's going on! Be right back!"
The moment she slams the door behind her, Amalia stands up and moves... for the closet?
"What are you doing? That's not the way out!"
"Exploring." She retorts bluntly, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"B-b-but this is Kerstin's room! She wouldn't like that!"
"So don't tell her."
"That's not the point! It's not right!"
She turns her head and locks her eyes on mine, giving me a serious look even as she continues to feel around the shelves, searching for something. "Exactly. Something's up here. I feel it."
"But Kerstin will be-"
"Then come help. Find it faster that way."
>Give in, help Amalia look for...something?
>It's not right, refuse to help!
>Go tell Kerstin!
>too scared to break the rules
>also too scared to actually go tell
Yep, that seems like the Nadja I remember.
>Mistress and Papa will be abducted by the Witch Queen, obviously.
I'll go ahead and spoil that exact scenario will never happen. No villain with half a brain would ever lay a hand on your sister's family. But I don't blame you if you forgot she exists, she's only been mentioned like once, maybe twice, and never made an actual appearance
"No! It's not right to look around in people's rooms without their permission!"
Amalia snorts nonchalantly. "Whatever."
Hah, that'll show her- wait, she was supposed to stop too! "Hey! You should really stop now, you'll be in a lot of trouble!"
"Aha!" She exclaims proudly, pulling at something beneath Kerstin's clothes and presenting a... key? "Found it!"
"But... it's just a key? What are you going to do with it?"
With a wink and a sly smile, she answers. "Watch!"
She turns, instead moving for Kerstin's bookshelf at the end of the wall and, somehow, begins dragging it to the side, very slowly. It looks so heavy, I'm amazed she's even moving it at all.
"This is crazy, Amalia! What are you doing!"
She doesn't answer, just huffing for air as she continues to drag at the bookshelf. This is so bad, Kerstin is going to- wait.
"Is that... a door?"
Amalia let's go and walks to the other end to inspect her discovery. "Good enough. Come on, let's open it!"
But... I don't understand! Why is this here! Kerstin is a good girl, she doesn't need secret doors! Right? Though, SOMETHING, is definitely behind there. I don't know why, I just know it's something important.
>"No! Stop this now or I'll get Kerstin!"
>"We shouldn't do this, but... I want to see too!"
Last chance to change your minds!
This is too strange! I have to know why this is in Kerstin's room! "We shouldn't do this, but... I want to see too!"
Smiling smugly, Amalia slides the key into the hole, slowly sliding the door open to reveal a small room, barely half the size of Kerstin's and, mmuch more importantly, containing in the center a large cauldron, though smaller than the one in Mistress' house. The floor is covered in open books all along the walls, and several writing implements lie scattered about as well.
A simple "Huh" is the only response Amalia can muster. I give none.
A small window, currently shut tight, is placed into the left wall. The others are all scribbled over with strange symbols I don't recognize. Still, it's obvious that this is all witchcraft. But Kerstin can't be a witch... can she?
Amalia begins to step inside the room, then stops as a bright blue flash is emitted from the ground under her, an invisible force scattering the surface of books away. A strange circle, lined with more symbols all along the lines is revealed where the books had lain, flashing briefly once more before becoming quiet and Amalia falls to the ground.
"No!" I cry, rushing to her side, hugging her tightly. Her eyes are closed and she doesn't move!
"Wake up, Amalia!" I plead, but she doesn't respond at all. I feel tears begin to well in my eyes when a voice from behind appears.
"You know what they say about curiosity and cats, don't you?"
THREAD TEN END
Thank you very much for playing! I'm so happy to see there's still interest in this little project despite how badly I've been neglecting it.
Hoping to run the next thread very soon and hopefully actually run somewhat regularly again, so please look forward to it!
Oh and since this is a totally-scary-dramatic-super-intense cliffhanger ending and I'm not actually tired yet, if you have questions I'll be around to answer.
He's currently trying to think of a polite way to ask this bothersome customer to leave him to his work. He's not very with polite talk, to him it's just a kind of lying. He's also not very good at sensing hidden intentions.