You are Irue Valen, blood heir to House Valen, and you're a little apprehensive about saying that things have been looking up a little recently. Two people you had thought to be have died turned out to have been significantly more alive than previously assumed, and another who had seemingly vanished off the face of the country had just shown back up with information on where your also missing Maid-Secretary had gotten to. That's pulled you back up from three lost Testaments and a missing (m)aid, to only one missing testament - Whom you were already planning to go rescue soon.
Of course not everything was sunshine and daisies.
Ari, one of the people you had worried was dead, was currently commanding a monstrous wooden juggernaut capable of laying siege to your cousin's estate with intent to turn Carona to ruins in order to get back to you. Asche had somehow gotten trapped in order to protect the Tier family, if Kara was to be believed. Kara herself was actually with you now, but evidently she had just finished incapacitating the few Knights of yours who had managed to sneak into the city... You had been planning on them being able to help you, so that was troubling. You'd need to check on them shortly to make sure they weren't too hurt, and maybe salvage a few of their numbers to continue the original plan.
And then there was your last Testament, Rinnier. As part of a family of particularly famous Salamander favoured individuals, her presence here had become practically an ace in the hole for the town mayor's plot to pin an act of mass murder and arson perpetrated out of some stupid notion of independence onto someone else.
Then there was Jill, the local pub girl who had stubbornly gotten herself involved, and subsequently captured...
Still, things were looking up! You had the Shrine's approval to work with you, had regained Kara as an asset in your coming plans, and may have even successfully discounted Roderick entirely by pinning the blame of working with the Mayor on him.
That was... What, two out of three goals accomplished? You take a moment to recount your goals from a few days ago...
Contact knights... Check.
Intercept Roderick's invitation... Check.
Find Asche and Kara... Mostly Check.
...you still had a full day left on your schedule, and you were done already? Granted, Kara had come to you, and Ari had smuggled in the knights of her own accord, so technically it wasn't that you specifically had done it, but everything was done. You take a moment to let that sink in as Jack's panicked commotion continued to come out of Jill's mostly empty apartment. There's this strange feeling you're trying to deal with, but you're not really sure how to explain or approach it. Without even ordering them, two of your Testament had come through for you.
>Get to work; Check on your knights
>Distract Jack while Kara gets your knights out, no need to involve him too.
>May as well bring Jack in on this too.
Where things are said:
Where things are asked:
Current Abilities - http://pastebin.com/PchcdWpw
Basics of Mana - http://pastebin.com/V9b1DMrS
A List of Forgotten Things - http://pastebin.com/kPEscJ3h
Kara's Day Out - http://pastebin.com/8ZbiSKLs
Adventures with Asche - http://pastebin.com/RNviCBJu
The Reclaimed Doll - http://pastebin.com/n6miP1qT
In Your Shadow - http://pastebin.com/EfeeHFAE
The Carona Arc is drawing to a close. Is it nice seeing the results of the relations you built up until now? ...There's still more to come.
You sigh, breathing in the cool night air as you put your complicated feelings to the side for now. Jack's alarm was growing more pressing, and you'd rather he not attract the attention of the neighbours in this. "Already got one involved, may as well get the other one..." You mutter to yourself as you shift your weight a little. "After we check on my knights, I want to hear more about what's happened to Asche."
Kara's tail swishes back and forth nervously, but she nods regardless as the two of you wander back towards Jill's apartment to find Jack frantically pulling out body after body of unconscious guards from Jill's bedroom and laying them out in the floor. "There you are!" He nearly drops the guard he's dragging as he noticed you at the doorway, "Where did you go- No, look, I need you to call the guards, something's happened to Jill, I found these guys in her room and the place was trashed-" You raise a brow inquisitive as his body seems to go stiff as a board, and trace his line of sight to just over your shoulder. "Get down!"
You have all of two seconds to process that frantic mixture of commands before Jack slipped a small knife out from his belt and sent it flashing past your ear with the kind of practised ease and accuracy you honestly hadn't expected from someone who worked as a pub server. The tell-tale 'thunk' of a knife being embedded into something resounded from behind you as you felt Kara's presence shift to the other side of your shoulder. Jack is already digging for another knife as you open your mouth to respond, but...
A small lock of your hair fell to the ground.
"'Rue?" Kara's questioning whisper seems a little further away than it should have been.
"There's a demihu-" Jack's exclamation is cut off by an abrupt wheeze as he hunches over.
"Kara, don't hurt him. He's a friend!"
You blink, turning back to the open doorway where Kara had plucked the thrown knife out of the wall casually. It took you a moment to reconcile the inconsistency with the world until you realized that the person who had slammed their fist into Jack's gut was you.
You take a moment to inspect your still tightly balled fist in curiosity, then shake your head. Seems like you've adopted some of Irue's twitch reactions more intrinsically than others. "At any rate, don't bother Kara, she's a friend of mine."
"What the hell was that for? And you call that thing a friend?!" Jack rounds on you angrily, his second knife still tightly gripped in his fingers and ready to be thrown. "It's a demihuman! They're monsters, they don't even understand what a friend is!" This isn't the first time you've heard this, and you're starting to get the feeling there's some important information about Demihumans that you've just not really understood, but for the time being...
"If I say she's a friend, then she's a friend." You reiterate in a tone brokering no room for negotiation, "She's with me, regardless. If you keep attacking her, I'll do much worse than just smack you." You catch Jack's eyes as you talk, staring him down with as much intensity as someone of your relative stature can manage. It takes a few seconds of tense conflict before you manage to cow Jack into a reluctant state of peace.
"Fine, your choice. It's not my problem, but go get the guards - Something's happened to Jill-"
"I'm aware of that, it's my fault." You cut him off again, inspecting the knights he had dragged out. As Kara had said, they were thankfully only injured; An assortment of nasty looking bruises, and the occasional broken bone stood out immediately, but given who their opponent had been, it could have been so much worse. There were probably a few of them still capable of working with you.
"What do you mean it's your fault...?"
"Jill was looking into something for me, and she... Got in deeper than she could handle, even though I told her not to." You sigh, "Kara's here because of that. I'm already planning to get her back."
"Kara... You named that thing?" The incredulity in Jack's voice was a little disconcerting. He didn't even sound venomous, just baffled. "She already had the name?" You correct him absently, "And stop calling her a thing, she's going to help us get Jill back."
"...I have no idea what you're on about, but you're saying you've got a pet demihuman and Jill's in trouble because of you?" You give Jack a deadpan as he looked you and your Testament over, signs of aggression shimmering through his posture. "What the fuck have you gotten my sister into? Who are you?!"
This was going to be a long night.
>Give him a vague summary, he doesn't need to know everything.
>Tell him all the details, like Jill heard.
>Just strong arm him into helping you, he can't really say 'no'.
You will be taking care of your knights as this happens, so this is something of a gloss-over.
Also, roll a 1d12! Aiming for best of 3.
Rolled 10 (1d12)
>>Tell him all the details, like Jill heard.
We need to impress him with the fact that these people kill the witnesses and go back on deals. Also that Jill also knew all this and chose to help us.
To avoid blogging much, I've been depressed for non-/tg/ related reasons, so I'm disregarding my initial plans to drop Valen after the Rite ends so I don't make any depression-influenced decisions. It's still a possibility, depending on thoughts from the players, but I'm more likely to put it on hiatus for a bit as I look over what I've learned so far and decide how to make some adjustments going forward. The second Act of Valen was planned to pick up after the Rite ends, so I feel like it's a good place for me to take a small time skip and reset some of the pacing of the quest. We'd be picking up as a continuation of the story from the end of Act I, but it'd be a little more of a blank slate for any new readers, as most of our Act I problems and intricacies are left behind, with only the more important plot related ones carried over.
Just some possible plans going forward, though. I'd be happy to hear any thoughts you guys have on it, either during the voting periods, or when the thread ends (if anyone is around by then).
Gonna start writing now.
Over the next few hours, you decide to give Jack the same information and introduction to the mess of problems your life had become as Jill got. The explanation of the truth behind the fire at the Tier family estate, as well as what you had learned regarding the Mayor's plans, the origin of the new guards, and, finally, your actual identity. More specifically, your last name.
"So you're a bastard child?"
You ignore Kara's snickering as the depressingly familiar question was fielded and dealt with using as much grace as you could manage. By the end of it all, you had accomplished a few things. One of which was finishing your little informational session with Jack, which left him brooding as you worked. The other, arguably more important to you, was the inspection and care of your knights.
Almost miraculously, ten of the twelve knights who had managed to get into Carona were still able to walk on their own after their encounter with Kara. You're not sure if this is a testament to their own hardiness, or a result of Kara going easy on them like she claimed... Regardless, even if they could walk, you doubt they were in the best of shapes. The kind bruising they suffered wasn't something you just bounced back from, by any means.
Lucky for them, you were ahead of schedule. You could afford to give them a day to rest and recooperate, while you... Did something.
You bid Jack good night by the end of it all, impressing on him that the people you were planning on getting Jill back from were not the type to negotiate. It took little convincing of that, given that the first thing you told him they had done was established to be the Tier estate arson. What DID take a little convincing however was that Kara would be trust worthy; In the end you don't think you actually convinced him of that, so much as forced him to agree to disagree.
His distrust of Kara ran far deeper than the casual racism you come to expect, but despite your own misgivings, his urgings to reconsider your relationship with her was met with complete rejection. She was your Testament after all, and she had come back to you when you needed it most. The warnings Mim had left you regarding the dubiousness of where Kara's loyalties actually lay were still firmly in mind, flickering stubborn shadows around your thoughts as you considered Kara's involvements in your plans going forward, but...
>It'd be better to not rely on her too much. The less she knows, the better.
>Cautiously involving her would be helpful, but nothing important.
>You'll use any tool you have, and she's very powerful.
>She is your Testament, even if it might be a mistake, you trust her.
>>She is your Testament, even if it might be a mistake, you trust her.
The best way to gain trust is to give it.
I would like to know more about what happened while we were gone though, who helped her and why.
>She is your Testament, even if it might be a mistake, you trust her.
Her failings are our failings, right?
I don't think we should be considering her a "tool" either even objectively. Otherwise, what makes us any different than her previous owners?
Also, we should probably simply just talk to her about what loyalty means. If they're more controlled by their instincts, then people may have just been looking for the wrong type of loyalty.
I mean, does it go by credo she holds to, does she want a "pack", is it based on a personal sense of honour, or is it based around notions of debt? That sort of thing.
...But in the end, Kara was your Testament. A failing in her was a failing in you, and if you couldn't trust one of your own Testament, then it stood to reason you couldn't trust yourself, right?
No, that was stupid logic. Anyone who said that with a straight face was beyond mad. Perhaps if you had more time, then eventually one's Testament could be trusted like that, but with how little you've actually been around her, the relationship between Kara and you was acquaintances at best, even if she was - by law - your Testament. Try as you might, that feeling of implicit trust, of complete assurance you could rely on her, simply wasn't there. You felt uncomfortable even considering that.
What was there, however, was that complicated feeling from before. One you didn't know how to address or describe, which had blossomed inside of you when she had shown back up, and you had learned Ari was alive and trying to get back to you. You couldn't be sure if that was what trust was meant to feel like it, but you couldn't say you... Disliked it. You'd put your faith in that feeling, and through it, take a chance to put your trust in Kara.
To that end, once your knights were taken care of the best you could manage, you decided now was as good a time as any to have a talk with Kara. The night was still relatively young, especially considering you didn't really sleep anyway, and there was a lot of questions you still had for the demihuman.
The night streets of Carona were as deserted as ever. While it was still quite a few, long, hours until dawn, most normal people had already packed themselves up and tucked themselves back into their houses by now. It almost felt like a ghost town as you and Kara's footsteps filled the empty night air. In a way it reminded you of the brigand camp during the Nightgaunt's raid... But that comparison was quickly dispelled, a shudder running down your spine as you chase the unwelcome memory away.
The trip had been silent so far, with Kara just meandering along behind you.
You should probably decide what to ask first.
>What happened while I was gone?
>What are demihumans?
>Ask about her loyalties
>>What happened while I was gone?
>>What are demihumans?
Because other than having extra ears, being obscenely strong and having better senses, you don't seem much different from average people, certainly not enough to warrant this racism.
"So what happened while I was gone?" This was what was primarily on your mind. You wanted - needed - to know, directly from Kara's mouth, what had happened that kept her and Asche in Carona for so long. What had happened that had left Asche in the position she was in, what had happened with the surving Tier family members? You had plenty of other questions, some more personal than others, but they would have to wait until you heard this.
"What happened?" Kara parroted back uncertainly, "Whaddya mean?"
"Asche is being kept prisoner along with the survivors of the Tier family, right?" You turn back towards Kara, "How did they get taken in? I doubt they could have brought anything that could beat you, so something must have happened."
"Ah..." You barely notice two tufts of shaggy hair droop at the topic of conversation, even as her casually swishing tail slowly came to a limp stop. "It was dangerous for them, not me." she began after a moment, "I couldn't really go against 'em when they showed up, y'know? 'Fore we knew it, they had some important people. Asche said t'just go along with it."
"..." You frown at that, trying to conjure the image in your head. Asche taking the path of least resistance didn't seem quite right. She was the type who always did what she thought necessary, no matter how difficult... If she had gone along with it, hadn't she judged it necessary at the time?
"I could have fought 'em, but it prolly woulda done more harm than good."
"...So where did they go? You said they're being held, right?" You'd strangle someone if they were being held in the jail all this time and you just never-
"I'm sorry, what?"
"They took 'em underground. S'where Asche and the Tiers are bein' held till they can decide how to handle something." Son of a BITCH, there were more things under Carona. Why couldn't they have just made Carona into a tower, so any decent person could see the multitudes of complete -bullshit- that made up this town's foundations? No, it all had to be underground. "You okay, 'Rue?" Kara pulls you out of comforting thoughts of Double Fire as she looks at you inquisitively.
"Yeah. Just thinking." You wave off the demihuman's concerns with a frown, inadvertently finding yourself glaring at the street beneath your feet, as if attempting to will it to reveal it's multitude of enraging secrets to you. "So you couldn't do anything to save them?" You turn back to Kara, "How'd you manage to escape if the rest of them got caught?"
"Ah... I didn't." Kara admitted as she glanced away awkwardly, "I went with 'em, but... Well, y'know." She raises her arms with a half-hearted smile, but still refuses to meet your eyes. "They can't really stop me from goin' places. They put me in a few cages, but I'd jus' leave when I got bored."
"...And nothing happens when you just walk out?"
"I can't stay gone long." Kara shakes her head, one hand going to the collar around her neck. "If I don't come back, they'll get hurt. Y'can't see it, but I'm on a leash, still."
...Which explains why she never came and got you at Caylen's.
>Ask something else about what happened. (what?)
>What are demihumans
Just how I feel. I go to grab food and miss a vote.
Really, we've talked to her about Demihumans before. Loyalties and what that collar is should be our next discussion since really vague info isn't helpful at the moment.
The two of you continue your walk, letting the more serious topic fall away as you wandered the streets together. It was quiet, but it wasn't particularly uncomfortable... Even still, you had more questions to eventually ask. One of them you had actually asked her before, but recent experiences were starting to make you feel like you were missing something important.
"What is a demihuman?" You finally voice your question as you watched Kara slowly sniff her way through the 2 AM market street. It was as empty as any other street, but you recognized the abandoned stalls and carts all the same. While they didn't hold enough remnants for you to make any heads or tails of it, you knew for a fact that Kara could still vividly smell everything that had once been here.
"Me, I guess?" Kara answered with a hint of confusion, her tail twitching in contemplation. "We're not really human... Y'knew that, though." You did. From having been around Kara, you had learned a lot about Demihumans. Memories of her single handedly breaking an Oakenbear's neck sprang to mind immediately to vouch for the kind of insane strength they held, and Kara's own sense of scent and speed marked her so far above the physical capabilities of a normal human that it's almost insulting to even call her half-human.
What the hell was the other half, to give her those kind of specs?
"I dunno." Kara shrugged, "I'm the strongest o' my kind I've met, though." here she smirked, her tail's wagging picking up confidently as it started to emit the familiar 'paft paft' rhythm as it brushed against her pants and cut through the air back and forth. "If it's dumb muscle, I'm the best there is, y'know? It's all I'm good for!"
That was another thing you had learned from Kara. You weren't sure if it was an individual thing, or a racial trait, but she didn't like to think much. If you recall, she had even told you that most demihumans did things but never really knew why.
"Ah, yeah." Kara's confidence flickered and snuffed out like a pitifully dying candle as her body slackened and she turned away to resume her sniffing about. It was far less... Genuine, this time. You didn't have much experience in reading the cues of a demihuman, but you got the feeling that this was simply an excuse to seem distracted. "Yeah... That's us."
"Then why does everyone treat you like wild animals?" You press on, thinking back to the nearly perpetual volatility you had observed in regards to demihumans. "You're a little different, but I don't understand why people hate demihumans without even knowing them."
"You met any other demihumans?" Kara muttered distantly, "I'm more than a lil' different, 'rue."
"...?" Your lips purse, feeling as if you'd just touched on something delicate. Luckily for you, Kara seems to be in a talkative mood tonight, as she eventually continues without you needing to decide whether it was worth it to pry further or not. "Y'know not all humans are the same, yeah? Some are dumber than others. Sometimes y'meet people who just get stuff, and y'got no idea why? Or how they can do it?"
"I am one of those people." You point out blandly, one brow raising as Kara snorts in amusement, a mirth that doesn't meet her cast down eyes, before replying. "I'm not."
"Humans think I'm really smart, but, if it's just us demis... I guess you could say I'm an idiot? Or..." Her face twists a little as she tries to find the word, "Somethin's wrong with me. With my head. I don't think right." Her hands are waving, as if trying to catch some idea, or draw a picture for you, "I guess what I'm tryin' t'say is... I'm broken."
"...Broken?" Sure Kara wasn't the smartest person you knew by any means, but it was a stretch to call her broken. "So people hate demihumans because they're better than humans in every way? Is that it?" You roll the idea around in your head. If a race was just uniformly better, then of course there would be resentment on one side... And if the other side became condescending, then tension would-
"Nah, not like that. I told ya that we're... We do things, but we don't really know why we're doin it?" She finally comes to a stop and turns back to you properly. "Demihumans... Think different. We think like... You." You blink at that, not sure whether to feel insulted or not. "We... Read people, I guess? We just look at someone, and we know. We know how that person's feelin', we know what to say to that person. How to say it. What to do. We can smile, an' laugh, an' cry', an all sorts o' stuff, but we don't really understand it. We do it on purpose, even if it's not true, because we know it's what someone wants t'see."
"It's kinda like that. Y'can't trust a us. The smart ones, they learn t'talk, but they don't really care about what they say. They'll... Tell you things to get you t'do things, even if it's not true. They talk like they act. It's usually all an act, really." She scowls, but still won't meet your eyes, "It's just how we are."
That would explain it. The ridiculous racism and distrust that was near universal.
They weren't just inhuman.
Demihumans were naturally born sociopaths.
>Ask about loyalties
>Ask how she's broken
>Ask something else about demihumans (what?)
You had unexpectedly touched on something you could generously describe as a landmine. This was the information you had been missing, this was what explained why everyone you met had immediately reacted either incredulously or with outright hostility upon meeting Kara. If you had known this back when you were choosing your Testament... No, they had known that you were ignorant. Kara had been chosen specifically with that in mind.
"...How are you broken?" You cut straight to the quick as you watch your Testament. You weren't sure how far you could push this talkative mood of hers, but this concerned her personally, which meant it was of great concern to you. If the demihumans as a race were born sociopaths, then what did it even mean to be 'broken'?
"I can't figure it out." Kara admits quietly. "I don't really know how t'talk t'people. I don't know what they want from me. Everyone else can just do it, even you can do it, but I... I don't know what I'm even lookin' for, 'Rue." She raises her head to look at you, golden amber eyes gleaming in the soft moonlight as she studiously avoids your own eyes as she looks you over. "I look at you, and I don't see anything. I don't see anything in anyone. I'm so stupid I need t'be told what to do, because I can't figure it out on my own."
Words keep tumbling out of the demihuman's mouth as her fingers twitch, curling rhythmically into fists and relaxing again in synch with her steadily deepending breaths. The frustration rising at the back of her throat was enough to set your skin on edge as a more primal instinct started trying to warn you that something dangerous was very close, and very aggravated.
"I don't understand anything that's going on, 'Rue. Everything is confusing. I don't want t'think about any of it, I just... It's not just that I need to be told, I want to be told. I don't want to try and figure all of this out on my own. Nothing makes sense, and everytime I think I figured somethin' out, it just hurts worse when I'm wrong, and I don't want to keep doin' that."
You swallow back saliva, left at a loss as to what to say. You didn't fully understand what she was saying, no small part because Kara herself was never someone you would consider effective at abstract communication, but also because it didn't seem like Kara herself even knew what was wrong with her.
"Then... Following orders." You start after a moment of silence, "That's why you were so willing to do whatever we asked?" A part of you wanted to tell her that was wrong, wanted to outright reject the notion of someone willingly just shutting down their own thoughts and mindlessly doing what they're told, but... What could you even say in this case? This wasn't the first time Kara had told you that she preferred simple work. Familiar stuff. Things she didn't need to think about.
Granted, it painted her previous admissions in a disturbingly different light.
Seeing her nod in confirmation, you breathe out. Mim's warning still whispering damningly in your ear. Even if you were the one with the leash, you weren't the one who trained her. Kara had a life long before she met you... "How..." You pause, trying to think of how to word this. You could come right out and question her loyalties to you, but she already seemed unsteady.
"How does... Loyalty work with demihumans?" You edge into it cautiously, watching her for a reaction as you proceed. "I remember the slave master had said that it wasn't unusual for demihumans to be feral... Is it some kind of pack mentality? Do they typically follow an Alpha?"
"Some of us." Kara let out a single, shakingly deep breathe as she finally crossed her arms and turned away, wandering away without even the pretence of following a scent. You follow along behind her, listening to the absent minded explanations from your Testament as the streets begin to lazily pass around you. "Told ya that most of us can't talk... They're little more than animals. We look th'same, but they're different. All they can understand is the things ya do. The things they see an' smell."
"Others... Others are loners. Too stubborn to jus' follow someone, they're always out for themselves." You see her tail bristle as she speaks, "They use anyone they can find to get what they want... 'Course, the Alphas do it too, so I guess they're not too different. Just if they're messin' with humans, or other demis."
"So, the Alphas command loyalty, then?"
"Of the ferals, usually." Kara sniffs disapprovingly, "There's... There's not a lot of 'loyalty' in us, 'Rue. M'sure people have told you by now not to trust a demihuman, but-" She finally stops, her tail swishing to one side to curl around her waist as he turned back to face you - Actually look at you for the first time since she came back. "They're not wrong. We use people and throw them away. If you ever encounter a demihuman, don't trust them. Anything they do for you, anything they say, it's just to get something they want."
>You're a demihuman.
>I guess it's not surprising you betrayed me, then.
>I'll keep it in mind.
>Why are you telling me this?
>I'll keep it in mind.
>Why are you telling me this?
>>Why are you telling me this?
> Well, just because you're different doesn't mean you're broken. There's something to be said for having other people help you with the choices. The only question you really have to ask is whether you trust the person making the choices for you then.
> Tell me, Kara, do you trust these people to make good choices? Do you trust me to do it?
I' m drunk enough to say this right now.
Just want to be her decision maker because we want to do her right for our testament. And because we ain't jerks. And she's done her best by us so far.
And we ain't never put her in a cage. That ain't right.
"Why are you telling me this?"
The question visibly catches Kara offguard as her mouth opens to answer, but nothing issues forth. You cross your own arms and take advantage of Kara's eye contact to stare back at her, demanding an answer that she evidently hadn't been prepared to give. "I..." A precious few moments drift past as Kara begins to regain her ground, "You asked, didn't you? This is the answer, that's all."
"Fine, then let me rephrase." You don't break eye contact, letting her explanation roll off you as you pointedly step towards the demihuman. "What do you want?" Her eyes narrow, lips rising into a half-snarl. "It's got nothing to do with me, I'm just answering your question!"
"Everything a demihuman says is to get something." You spit back, "Sound familiar? I asked, but what do YOU want out of telling me this? We've had this conversation before, Kara, don't you remember?" Panic. You can see it flash briefly through her eyes, alongside uncertainty. She hadn't remembered. You feel a sadistic sense of satisfaction at having finally been able to watch someone else struggle to remember something for once, but that wasn't important right now. "I asked this same question, only this time I got a different answer. You could have told me all of this before, but you didn't. You didn't want to-"
"Bullshit you forgot!" You cut her off viciously, advancing once more, "You don't just forget about something like that, you didn't want to tell me then, but tonight you went out of your way to lay it all out. What did you want out of this? What could you possibly gain by all but telling me not to trust you?" Aggressively approaching a demihuman in most other circumstances was probably not the most brilliant of ideas, but you didn't feel yourself crossing a threshold as you stepped up.
Just like the night that the two of you had met, when you had outright refused to back down, you stepped forward and watched Kara take a half-step back.
"How about this? How about we talk about what I want?" You switch tracks verbally as you crane your neck back to meet her glare. "You want it spelled out for you? I want to trust you." That's a full step back, and with those words you realize something you've gone too far to try and approach from a different direction - Whatever indignation she had held had just been flushed away in favour of confusion. "What? You didn't think I'd notice?" No matter how you looked at it, there wasn't anything Kara could possibly have gained from telling you about demihumans now. While there was the possibility she had just told you because you asked, you had asked once before.
No, there was one thing she could gain. One goal she could have accomplished, even if you didn't understand why she would.
"I've been warned time and time again to not trust you, Luna knows I've got plenty of reasons to doubt you already." Literally, in this case. Mim had specifically given you reasons to doubt her, but you had stubbornly refused, and for what? For Kara herself to try and tell you off for it? "Do you even know what trust is? Have you trusted anyone in your life?" Growing up as a demihuman, the fact that she knew what her own kind was like, you feel like you already know the answer. Between demihumans and slaves, who could she have believed in?
"I didn't need to!" But something in Kara snapped as she put her foot down and bit back, her retreat halting in place as she doubled back on you with a frightening expression. "I'm strong enough to take care of myself, what do I need to trust anyone else for? They can't do anything to me, and they can't get anything I can't get myself!"
"Then what? You just let anyone boss you around and make decisions without caring why?!" You were really craning your neck back now, as Kara literally towered over you, her heaving breath coming out in hot puffs of steam thanks to the Relic chilling the night air.
"It's easier that way! I don't have to worry about who-"
"Who you can trust? Who you can't?!" You hiss back, "You've gone this long making excuses to not have to deal with it, and here I am straight telling you that I want to trust you, and you're trying to run away!"
"I'm not running from anything!"
"Then why don't you trust me?!"
...Oh. Your crusade kind of stopped there. Unluckily, Kara's... Didn't.
"You kept treating me like... Like I was normal! You got me things, you kept tryin' t'get me food even when I told you I didn't need it! You fucking carried me! You picked a Mana damned fight with the guards when you could have just turned me over and been done with it!" Your mind is frantically back-pedalling as Kara proves to be so much better at advancing angrily than you are, and you worriedly note that she's actually lifted you clean off the ground to yell at you closer.
It's probably good you did this at like three or four in the morning, instead of.... Any other time.
"M'trying to help you! I made this decision, me! I thought about it, I hated thinking about it, but here I am, and you're throwing it back in m'face! Guess I fucked up again, didn't I!?"
"And how does not trusting you help me?" You grab Kara's arms to get some control of your own movement as you dangle off the ground, because there wasn't any going back now. "What's so important that you're trying to run away if you actually do trust me?!"
"I'm not running, I'm the trap!"
Her expression freezes immediately as her mind finally catches up to what her mouth had just spit out. You can feel her body go rigid, but all you can do is frown at the accidental confession. After a moment, the demihuman gently lowered you back to the ground, stepping back numbly as you staggered to get your own weight under you once more.
She didn't say anything else. Neither of you did. Not until you became painfully aware of how quiet it was at night.
"...Whose trap?" You finally break the silence after finding your voice again, though it seemed terribly small after the heat it had carried not a moment ago. You feel mildly mollified that Kara's own response was in a similar state as she tells you that she didn't really know. She didn't fully understand what was going on down there, or anything like who was really in charge. People gave orders, and other people listened - The most she knew was that this trap came from someone higher up than she had ever been around.
That was enough for you to make some guesses, though. These people were behind the Tier arson, which meant that you knew exactly who was on the top of that food chain. You felt something begin to stir in the back of your mind, and it wasn't a pleasant sensation. A hazarded glance back to your own shadow confirmed that it was starting to... Simmer. The shape which had typically held Irue's silhouette was slowly beginning to lose it's cohesion. Luckily, the phenomena was veiled under the cover of night, but you couldn't shake the feeling of molten led that had started to spread through your veins from the oppressive phantom weight on your left wrist.
To say that you weren't happy with the Mayor was an understatement.
To say that Irue wasn't happy with the Mayor was... A potentially fatal miscommunication.
You dedicated a portion of your attention to trying to calm both yourself and your shadow as you let Kara's explanation sink in. She didn't know much about the trap, as her only role was to lure you in. She was going to tell you where Asche was being held to make sure you came there on their terms, and would turn on you at the end.
But if she was going to go through all of the trouble to try and warn you away from it in the first place, why not just tell you?
"I didn't think it'd matter." Kara admitted despondently, "Your not like me, 'Rue. You're weak, y'can't take care of yourself if y'get in trouble."
You stare flatly at Kara, mind whirling with so many retorts you can't even pick one out to use. Everything you had been through these past months and... Well, no, Kara hadn't been there for any of that. The last memories Kara really had of you was having to carry you to town after you got injured Making A Sandwich. And then subsequently having to carry you back home after you got into a fight with Roderick.
...Okay, in hindsight you kind of understood where she was coming from.
"Well... Thanks. For telling me in the end, I mean." You sigh, "...But I've got more riding on this than just Asche. Rinnier's gotten involved, as well as a girl named Jill. If my hunch is right, then I'd have had to go anyway."
"So it was useless, huh?" Kara's tired laugh made you reflexively want to deny it, but there wasn't much you could say. "I really was wrong again... Figures."
"When was the trap supposed to be set up?"
"As soon as I could get you there." Kara shrugged one shoulder, "Coulda been tonight. Tomorrow. Whenever I found you, really."
"Then the timing is up to you...?"
"F'the most part, yeah. I guess so."
You let out a breath, feeling the shadow and your own nerves begin to calm as a familiar puzzle was put in front of your minds once more. You knew the trap was coming, you knew the bait, you knew the trick, and you knew who was going to spring it. With Kara, you might even know when it would come. For once, you had all of the information before hand.
...Now you just needed to make use of it.
>Send Kara back to them, you can use her to trigger the trap after you save Rinnier.
>Meet with the Shrine tomorrow. If you trigger the trap early, with back up, you might be able to move your agenda up a day.
>Screw the trap, bring Kara with you on the raid to get Rinnier.
>You're not so weak anymore. If they want to cast a web, they'll regret catching a spider.
>Meet with the Shrine tomorrow. If you trigger the trap early, with back up, you might be able to move your agenda up a day.
> Bring Kara in to see if she recognizes any of the priests/if they recognize her
Now, I'm not saying I'm paranoid about the shrine being compromised, just that I am paranoid about the shrine being compromised. I say we spring Kara on them as a surprise and to shock them into moving out right away.
> Hug the Awoo
Like she said, they run more on instinct than anything else and she's shitty at words. So non-verbal comforting it is.
>>Meet with the Shrine tomorrow. If you trigger the trap early, with back up, you might be able to move your agenda up a day.
The question is, would bringing the shrine's backup be enough of a wrench in their plan?
We need details on what the trap was going to be, even if all Kara knows is her role in it.
I mean, why not. Goodness knows we don't always do the right thing. Hell, we're technically probably some sort of abomination taking Irues place, who are we to throw stones at a non-sociopath Demihuman. Maybe we can learn to not fuck shit up so hard together.
"How long can you stay gone before they start to get suspicious?" Pieces of a plan started to fit together in your head. You had a free day tomorrow before you needed to rescue to Rinnier... You could have spent the day preparing, or perhaps relaxing, but... When had you ever actually done that? No, you had an opportunity now to drive yet another nail into the coffin of this god awful town, and if you did it right, you'd not only be getting Asche and Jill back, but also the last bit of damning dirt you need to bury the Mayor of this place.
"A few days, at most. They think I'm looking for you." Kara admits, "Why?"
"Because I've got a plan." A feeling of confidence starts to spread back through you as you raise your lips in a smirk towards your demihuman Testament. "And you're coming with me."
"Y'know I can't walk around during the day, 'Rue. People'll get mad, like last time." You shrug, plainly expresisng just what you thought of the people of Carona. Besides, where you were going, they didn't have much say in the matter. "What if someone sees me with you? They my start getting suspicious-"
"Don't worry." You interrupt her calmly, closing the small gap between you to wrap your arms around the much taller demihuman. You took the risk of this being just as awkward as the headpat had been earlier, but... You could feel the tension in her muscles start to soften as Kara gingerly draped her arms over you, and you nearly stumbled when a portion of her unusual weight was suddenly eased onto you for support. "Trust me, all right? I'll think of everything, and make sure nothing happens."
"Everything will be fine, I promise."
You moderately began to regret your course of action when Kara actually started to hug you back. With the kind of strength she was capable of, you appreciated not being snapped in two, but you could feel the bones starting to creak as she tightened her grip around you in what you could only assume to be a soft manner.
"I trust you."
You lay your cheek against her torso and struggle to continue breathing until she had gotten enough hugging.
You hoped she got enough hugging soon.
And we are archived.
I'll lurk the thread for a bit to try and answer some questions if I can.
Apologies to all anons who participated in Valen Quest but died at their keyboards wondering when QM would finally stop.
To those who did not make it to the end, we will never forget your sacrifice.
So . . . . tired . . . .
It can't be THAT hard to disguise a Demi-Human. And we have access to (fake) guardsmen. Whom we might need to get healed quick. . . .
And we can see if Kara has any interest in Salamander, which should freak the priests right out.
>Has any interest in Salamander
She likes fire, and Priat's actually met her the last time she went to the Shrine to poke/pray to fire.
It would freak out most everyone once they realize what she is though, yes.
You also have the option of outright using your Relic on Kara. It's not bound specifically to you by any means... Though that might make things complicated if you want to reveal her identity.
How would it make things complicated? I mean, we could just pop off the image, yes? Hell, it would be even better if we could just have her see if she recognizes anyone from scent, sight, or sound from the Governors secret group and get her to tell us quietly after.
Then we can make sure there aren't any leaks! Since he already compromised the Gnome dude.
And hey, Salamander seemed to accept her after a little bit. Somewhat.
You could drop the image, yes. It would require using the Diary of Reflections again to do so, which would then raise the question of where you got a Relic, and then begin to cast suspicion on who you are given it can change identities. Or, even if it's really Kara, and not just another mask.
The trouble can expand from there and become even more... Involved. Suffice to say, showing it off casually may invite trouble if not carefully handled.