PDA

View Full Version : [Quest] Lost Singularity - Fimbulwinter



Pages : [1] 2 3 4

Daneel Rush
March 31st, 2018, 10:49 PM
Atop the frozen city of death, the foundation of the world shatters…

Deviation. Distortion. Detachment.

Isolated from its origin timeline, divergent from its source, and from the common pathway of normality; the Human Order. A meaningless single frame, separated from the sequence we call "time", yet bound to its own, aberrant tempral axis, leading to nothing but self-destruction. An event that should not be, leading to the collapse of the proper route of history.

That is a Singularity.

Somewhere, at some point, detecting and correcting these irregularities became the purpose and duty of a certain security organization.However, Chaldea cannot reach everywhere. It cannot undo every tangle, unmake every snag, smooth every wrinkle. Its challenge is already titanic enough.

This, is a Lost Singularity. A rebellion against the current ways of man, far from the eyes of Chaldea. No rayshifting Master will arrive to resolve it. If this Singularity is to be corrected, it will be by the people of that broken timeline.

You are one of those unfortunate ones. If you wish to restore your world, if you wish a future for yourself and those around you, then you must face the city of frozen death, challenge the rising black sun, and shatter the throne of the gods.

https://i.imgur.com/mpouzKa.jpg

Welcome to Fimbulwinter.

The stage is Valparaiso, Chile, in the year 2015. The city will be captured by a sinister plot, and detached from the temporal axis, converting it into a Singularity in which our Protagonist is inexorably trapped. Only death awaits those trapped in the frozen city, so, should we want our PC to hold on to their puny existence, they must challenge those responsible for the Singularity, and restore the proper course for their world.

Before we can start writing the tale of the City of Death and the Black Sun, we must create a "player character" and complete the "setting".

Protagonist Creation (https://goo.gl/forms/nwFQzhJaUSDA009R2)
The survey linked above will be open for 72 hours as of the posting of this thread. The survey has six questions, and I will use the answers to create our Protagonist. Based on the information I then provide you, you may, if you so wish, decide together on a name and/or faceclaim for them.

Setting Creation (https://goo.gl/forms/dZURkWe0dOr6SmAI2)The survey linked above will be open for 72 hours as of the posting of this thread. The survey has five questions. I will use the answers to complete the setting for Fimbulwinter, and perhaps more importantly, decide on the Servants that will be drawn to the Singularity, for one reason or another.

Discord Server (https://discord.gg/zucwRgC)

ePUB Compilation (http://www.mediafire.com/folder/k7kdg0859emet/Quest-Lost-Singularity-Fimbulwinter) (Courtesy of rajvir)

*** ***



Fimbulwinter is an Adventure quest, with some influence from the Survival genre. However, given the circumstances of the setting, attrition from lack of food or water should rarely be a critical issue for our heroes.
Each “in-quest” day consists of five Phases: Morning, Midday, Afternoon, Evening, and Night.
Quest players get to decide on Javier’s and Maria’s Actions during the Morning, Afternoon, and Evening Phases through voting, as detailed below. If they have other allied NPCs in their Base, the players can also decide on those NPC’s Actions.
At the end of each Phase, the players will vote on Javier’s and Maria’s Actions to take in the next Phase, following the rules outlined below.
Javier and Maria can take either an Exploration Action or a Management Action on each Phase, or they may choose to Rest. Note that Javier’s and Maria’s actions are allotted separately, even if they are physically together. In other words, even if the two are, for example, traveling together to the same location, this counts as the available action for that Phase for the two of them.
In an Exploration Action, the character (Javier or Maria) leaves the relative safety of their Base to brave the perils of the frozen city, for whatever reason: exploring a certain area, looking for other survivors, meeting with distant allies, challenging enemy Servants, etcetera.

To do this, quest players will vote on the location to be visited by the character, among the locations unlocked in the Singularity Map.


A Management Action is one intended to further Javier and his allies’ survival in the frozen city. Examples of Management Actions are presented here, but they are not limited to these options—writing in a different course of action is still an option, within the boundaries of QM fiat.

Forage: The character leaves the base explicitly in search of necessary things like food, tools, materials, etcetera. It is especially important to ensure ready availability of water at Base. Do keep in mind that every Exploration Action is to a degree also a Forage Action—even if they leave Base with a different purpose in mind, our heroes are mindful enough to keep an eye for valuable resources wherever they go.
Prepare Meals: The character, which must be at Base to use this Action, prepares meals for everybody currently at the Base, if there is enough food and water. The Food and Water level of the Base will define the resulting Sustenance levels of those partaking of the meal. There is not a separate “Eat Meal” Action. It will be assumed that, when a Prepare Meals Action is taken, all allies at Base partake of the meal.
Repair: The character performs repair work on the Base, aiming to improve either the Warmth or Fortification level of the Base.
Change Base: When Javier performs this Management Action, the previous Base is abandoned, and his current location becomes the new Base. All allied characters (including Maria) must then take Change Base Actions to move into the new Base.
Instruction: The character studies magecraft or teaches magecraft to another character also taking the Instruction Management Action (as a student).


When a character is set to Rest, they rest at their current location for the entire Phase’s duration. This is an important choice for the restoration of Health and Stamina. Unless the players’ choices trigger a different outcome, all allied NPCs always take the Rest Action in every Night Phase.



Our Protagonist, Javier Lucero, has four status parameters of note, described further below.
Each status is attributed a value or level in the Status Scale: Critical – Poor – Stable – Good – Optimal – Superb.
Javier’s status parameters are updated at the beginning of each scene (story post).

Health is Javier’s overall physical and mental integrity—his hit points, in videogame terms. Health dropping below Critical would result in Javier’s death.
Sustenance represents the degree of food and water intake Javier has taken. Sustenance is updated on the Phase following a Prepare Meals Action from which Javier benefits. It is a critical status in that it acts as a hard, intrinsic limit on Javier’s physical and mental performance.
Warmth indicates how well Javier is currently protected from the harsh cold of the frozen Valparaiso. It is a critical status in that it acts as an external limitation to Javier’s physical and metal performance.
Stamina is an assessment of Javier’s current physical capabilities. Stamina also includes Javier’s capability for casting spells—his MP, if using videogame vernacular. Javier’s Stamina value can never be higher than his current Sustenance value without supernatural means.




Javier can claim a specific location as his Base. A Base also has four status parameters:
Food is the Base’s stock of edible sustenance. It determines the effectiveness of Prepare Meals Actions performed at the Base. If the Base’s Food status is insufficient to feed every person at Base, a vote must be performed to prioritize the rationing of the remaining food.
Water is the Base’s immediate access to the vital liquid. It determines the effectiveness of Prepare Meals Actions performed at the Base, and the restoration of Health through Rest Actions. Insufficient consumption of water every day has an immediate effect on a character’s Health and Stamina.
Warmth represents the Base’s degree of protection against the elements. It replaces a character’s Warmth status while at Base, if higher. Keep in mind that no amount of warm clothes will protect you for long in the middle of a blizzard, and that is not the worse Fimbulwinter will throw at you.
Defense represents the Base’s fortification level against physical assault. Of course, walls may stop bullets and blows, but only mystery can protect against mystery.

When exposing himself to the harsh cold of the supernatural Fimbulwinter without suitable protection, Javier risks succumbing to hypothermia. Whenever his Warmth level is Poor or lower, continuous exposure to the cold will erode his Stamina level. When his Stamina reaches Critical level, further exposure to cold weather will then decrease his Health level. As usual, Health dropping below Critical equals death. Hypothermia kills slowly. It is nonetheless dangerous in that a wound that would have otherwise dropped Javier to Critical Health can kill him because his Health has been lowered by the cold.

At certain points throughout the Quest, whenever the Main Characters discuss the issue of Servants, participants in the Quest can influence this discussion by presenting their own speculations on the identities of the Servants in Fimbulwinter.
Naturally, correctly deducing an unknown Servant’s identity is a boon to our protagonists, regardless of whether they wish to befriend the Servant, or defeat them, even if the nature of that boon is unclear at first glance.

Javier Lucero
https://i.imgur.com/C6Ns8oL.png?1

Gender: Male
Age: 26
Birthplace: Concepción, Chile

Elemental Alignment: Unknown (Fire?)

Regression Quantity: D
Regression Quality: D
Regression Composition: Induced Divine Spirit Metamorphosis – Villarica Ngen-füta-winkul Variant
Regression Level: 2

Regression Boons
Fire Immunity
When under the effect of Sthūla-Śarīra, Javier is immune immune to the harmful effects of natural fire and heat; namely, all fire and heat not born of supernatural spells and effects, as long as its temperature does not reach beyond what is achievable by the planet’s natural phenomena.

Regression Brands
Investiture of Divinity
Javier has reached a liminal state of divinity, not quite human, not quite Divine Spirit. He is affected by spells and effects that target mortals as if he were mortal, and by spells and effects that target Divine Spirits as if he were divine.

Minor Cosmetic Alteration
Javier has undergone minor physical alterations that, while noticeable, in no way affect his human physiology.

Moderate Magical Diminishment
Javier's capability to use orthodox magecraft is diminished as his body has partially changed into a form more suitable to manifest supernatural phenomena through different principles. Too bad there’s none of that True Ether around.

Regression Steps
Mana Burst (Flames) E-
A version of Mana Burst that infuses one’s body and weapons with Magical Energy that imparts a flame effect. At this rank, Javier can merely imbue his physical attacks with an effect equivalent to his Fireball spell, and only when under the effect of Sthūla-Śarīra.

Weather Adaptation—Optimal
While Sthūla-Śarīra is active, your Warmth parameter is fixed at Optimal no matter the weather conditions. It can still be increased or decreased by other magical effects.Character Notes
• Born in Concepción, but apparently spent a considerable portion of his childhood in the town of Villarica.
• Discovered his magical talent by accident during his childhood.
• Code Name "Child Zero". The meaning of the title conceived by the Church remains unexplained.
• Unable to connect with anything or anyone, he left home upon finishing high school, afflicted by inescapable wanderlust.
• At some point in his early travels he reached Valparaiso and met Father Ricardo Scherer, who helped Javier until the young man could truly stand on his own feet.
• Since then, Javier has traveled the world doing all sorts of odd jobs. During a short stay in Istambul, he got a hold of a theosophical text which granted him epiphany regarding his magical abilities.
• Highly dexterous, likes working with his hands, and is constantly teaching himself things thanks to the virtues of the Internet. Despite his lack of formal education, he is a skilled carpenter, and can draw decent sketches if needed. He is an avid reader, always downloading new stuff to read to his smartphone, whose loss with the arrival of Fimbulwinter wounds him deeply.
• Javier has seen a lot of the world, working odd jobs here and there, never having trouble finding a job in a cargo ship or train whenever he was ready to move on. He has been a construction worker, a fisherman, a car mechanic, and a tech support employee, among other things. Not a glamorous life, but it is his life, built on his own terms, and that is his pride.

Javier has found a center and a direction to his magical development after reading “The Key to Theosophy” by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. He found patterns and ideas in what he originally believed was pseudo-intellectual prattle, that he realized resonated with the as-of-yet unknown mechanism behind his magical powers. In other words, by directing his powers in ways inspired by the fundamental concepts of theosophy, he could expand the boundaries of his abilities far beyond his expectations. He is so impressed by his results that he concluded that “The Key to Theosophy” was purposely written as concealed magical instruction, which naturally implies that Madame Blavatsky possessed authentic occult knowledge and powers.As an orthodox theosophist, Javier follows the Seven Rays ideology as originally dictated by H. P. Blavatsky, in contrast to the original gnostic, Mithraic, Catholic, and Hindu formulations, as well as to later modifications presented by other theosophists who could not agree on (or plain figure out) Blavatsky’s ideas. Madame Blavatsky started from the idea that all existing religions are incomplete attempts by the Spiritual Hierarchy to push humanity towards transcendence. Therefore, all religious hold in their dogma a fragment of the absolute truth. This is the foundation of theosophy’s strong syncretistic approach to mysticism.

The seven rays, a symbolism observed across many different faiths, were Blavatsky’s go-to example. She then expanded on these seven rays, calling them “emanations from the macroscopic centre”, and the different light-substance components of the created universes. By these she does not only mean “physical components” like atoms or subatomic particles. Blavatsky stated that all things in existence are sevenfold. If everything can be arranged in sevenfold patterns, then magecraft is no exception. Theosophist magi classify magecraft into seven branches, and they tend to specialize on the branch with affinity to their own affinities. In the case of Javier Lucero, who does not know his Origin or his Element, he briefly went over all seven branches until one “clicked” with him. That’s how he concluded that he was more closely attuned to the Fifth Ray and the discipline of Alchemy.

As a Fire Theosophist, Javier is naturally more adept at syncretic magecraft that separates things, creates distinctions between things, and imposes definite forms.Quoting Paracelsus: “To grasp the invisible elements; to attract them by their material correspondences; to control, purify and transform them by the living power of the spirit—this is Alchemy.”

Blavatsky’s Terrestrial Alchemy is the physical discipline; the precursor of modern chemistry, seeking the transmutation of the baser metal into the noble one, and the completion of the magnum opus. Therefore, rather than spells, mastery of alchemy involves mastery of processes: calcination, ceration, cohobation, congelation, digestion, distillation, fermentation, filtration, fixation, multiplication, projection, solution, sublimation, etcetera. It is seen as “lesser alchemy” by theosophists, more of a “natural offshoot of the true alchemies”, than a worthy discipline of its own. However, Javier Lucero is pragmatic and simple-minded; he likes things with a concrete form and a concrete application, so he loves terrestrial alchemy. He’s always been good at following exact instructions and dexterous with his hands, so he quickly became fairly skilled at this. It is only the part where “magic” is put into the process that’s proven a bit tricky.It is the first step of truly “mystical” and “occult” alchemy. Madame Blavatsky defined it as “the transmutation of the baser quaternary into the divine upper trinity of man, which when finally blended, is one”. Human Alchemy aims at the transmutation of the lower nature of man into the pure gold of the Higher Trinity—Atma, Buddhi, and Manas. Madame Blavatsky would roll in her grave if she knew that Javier cares not for spiritual transcendence. He is too grounded on the material world to grasp those lofty ideas, or even care for them. To him, Human Alchemy is a tool he can wield to supplement and enhance the Terrestrial Alchemy he favors. As a wanderer, he cannot carry an alchemy lab everywhere he goes (also, it’s expensive), so he uses the principles of Human Alchemy to make up for this lack of instruments. Indeed, his ideal is to one day be able to ingest all components, perform all alchemical processes inside his body, and then throw up (or evacuate, whatever works) the completed result at the end. Therefore, aside for a few experiments in other directions, Javier’s magecraft has followed this rather bizarre paradigm.

In English, Alembic. A simple spell that transfers heat from one object he is touching to another. As per the spell’s namesake, Javier generally uses it for distillation: a container acting as the receiver is turned into a natural condenser for the vapors produced when heating a second container with the heat extracted from the first container. As a heat conductor, there are limits to how much heat his body can withstand to transfer. This is the reason he has not develop a spell to turn himself into a living alembic; there is only so much heat he can generate and withstand in his stomach without harming himself. In general, this is a very useless spell, as it rarely supplies enough heat of its own, so Javier almost always relies on “standard fire magecraft” to produce flame or just heat. In English, Athanor.

One of Javier Lucero’s original Human Alchemy spells. While the process of alchemical digestion is supposed to be slow and carefully controlled, Javier turned the idea upside down, reducing the spell to a “mere” enhancement of the digestive and metabolic processes of his body. Madam Blavatsky would probably smack him for his gall.

While this spell is in effect, Javier can digest anything that is remotely edible without fear of poisoning, and the extraction of nutrients and absorption into the bloodstream and body tissues takes minutes rather than hours—the effects of any Prepare Meals Action are received on the same Phase, rather than on the next Phase as normal. Unfortunately for Javier, there is a reason alchemical digestion is supposed to take weeks, and accelerating the process using his body has a detrimental effect on the quality of the result. Javier has no idea how to further improve of this spell’s performance; it might as well be impossible.The fundamental fire alchemy spell developed by Javier, using the syncretic foundation of theosophy, but centered around Neoplatonism and the Chaldean Oracles. It started as a simple spell to filter solid particles out of a liquid solvent, but by enriching it with further mystery, it has evolved and keeps evolving into a general, all-purpose “separation” spell. It currently works almost flawlessly to separate any and all components of a solution. The spell’s performance is strongly dependent on Javier’s knowledge of the solution’s individual components—it is much easier to extract the poison out of the wine if he is completely sure there is poison, and even easier if he knows exactly what poison it is. It must be emphasized that the spell currently only works on solutions and amalgams, not compounds; for example, it cannot separate water into hydrogen and oxygen. However, there is theoretically no reason for the spell to not be able to unravel atomic bonds. It could also be taken into a conceptual direction, separating tangible matter from intangible properties, or in a purging direction, separating an object from whatever mystery exerting influence upon it. To do such a thing, however, Javier would have to either expand his understanding of Chaldean Theurgy—impossible without the source materials he could not take out of Istambul—or find a different suitable foundation.A basic energy conversion spell with a foundation on the sevenfold nature of all things in Creation, as per the theosophist principles. It is also related to Rosicrucian philosophy. While something like a simple fireball is a trivial spell in most thaumaturgical systems, by drawing upon the aspectual separation of the simple concept of “fire”, the theosophist can achieve unparalleled efficiency in the conversion of magical energy into manifested flame. Furthermore, by tapping into different aspects, it can achieve different manifested effects (electricity, light, radiant heat, spontaneous combustion of matter) with basically the same spell.

On a side note, Javier uses the English word for the spell’s name. He just doesn’t think the words “Bola de Fuego” flow nearly as well out of the mouth.

"Why a fireball? Well, if you’re a wizard, you’ve gotta be able to shoot fireballs, right?”A simple, albeit somewhat strange magecraft, which Javier developed more as an experiment in spell design than anything else, as part of his developing understanding of what he could achieve after grasping the theosophical system. Unlike Ekhtros, which separates things that are already mixed together, this spell isolates an object, preventing it from mixing with anything else. Javier visualizes it as an invisible raiment of fire that wraps itself around the object, preventing it from interacting with anything else.

The effect of the spell is very limited. Javier can use it to protect himself from falling rain, but not from being washed away by a flood, or to make an incoming fist slip off his skin. It can protect him from accidentally burning himself by a stove or a bonfire, but it would not allow him to swim in lava. Its intended use, after all, is the preservation of the purity of an alchemical material. The true potential of this spell, however, remains unknown and indefinite, as it is currently limited mostly by Javier’s ignorance of magecraft.The theosophical denomination for the physical body, that which is perceived by the five senses; the first and lowest of the seven principles of the human existence. In the orthodox theosophical system of thaumaturgy, it is their advanced version of Reinforcement, originally developed by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. Javier’s merit lies in that he developed it independently, without instruction by another theosophist. It is, by far, the most advanced spell in his repertoire.

"Occultism tells us that every atom, like the monad of Leibnitz, is a little universe in itself; and that every organ and cell in the human body is endowed with a brain of its own, with memory, therefore, experience and discriminative powers. The idea of Universal Life composed of individual atomic lives is one of the oldest teachings of esoteric philosophy.”
—H. P. Blavatsky

It is not merely enhancing a body’s strength and durability; it is tapping into the body’s “cellular memory”, urging it to look back on everything it has done to that point, and correct any previous errors to optimize physical performance. It is grounding the body into observable reality, enhancing its “physicality”, bringing it closer to the World, and thus boosting its resistance to foreign magical effects. However, that same “enhancement of physicality” also pulls the magus away from the mystical. Unless the magus is a master of the orthodox theosophical system (which Javier is anything but), while using this spell the magus cannot use any other magecraft. On the other hand, its efficiency is nigh-unparalleled, especially if the magus focuses the spell on a specific part of the body’s anatomy or physiology. Conversely, the spell being so effective can be a double-bladed sword, to a degree that the magus has to be careful not to destroy their own muscles, bones or internal organs by making themselves too strong.

This might just be Javier’s closest approach to the true purpose of Human Alchemy. However, even here we can see his pragmatic, purpose-oriented approach to magecraft. The transcendental secrets of theosophy, magecraft, and Cosmic Alchemy will likely be forever beyond his grasp. Not that he particularly cares about the Root, Mahatma, or enlightenment, anyway. On another note, in the hands of a true master this spell can achieve even more, allowing for the enviable feat of defeating the passage of time and remaining an eternal loli (!?).Prologue
01 - Grandmother / Three Great Human Needs (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/7951-Quest-Lost-Singularity-Fimbulwinter?p=2831236&viewfull=1#post2831236)
02 - Father Scissors (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/7951-Quest-Lost-Singularity-Fimbulwinter?p=2832031&viewfull=1#post2832031)
03 - Woman At The Pinnacle / Woman At The Bottom (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/7951-Quest-Lost-Singularity-Fimbulwinter?p=2835628&viewfull=1#post2835628)
04 - Winter Has Come (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/7951-Quest-Lost-Singularity-Fimbulwinter?p=2837547&viewfull=1#post2837547)


Day 1
Afternoon 01 - Frozen Bedroom
Afternoon 02 - Frozen Hostel
Afternoon 03 - Frozen World
Afternoon 04 - VS Zombie
Afternoon 05 - The Pinnacle of Absurdity
Afternoon 06 - Lost But Not Alone
Evening 01 - When It Snows
Evening 02 - Girl und Panzer
Evening 03 - Just a Girl
Evening 04 - First Engagement at Errázuriz Avenue (VS Rider)
Night - First Night Reflections


Day 2
Morning 01 - Beyond Their Sight 01/The Atkinson Crossroads
Morning 02 - Zombies and PLOT/Into the Demon's Maw (VS ?????)
Morning 03 - Aura Slash? AURA SLASH/Sad Cherry in Snow
Morning 04 - VS Zombie II (feat. Sakura)/Beyond Their Sight 02
Morning 05 - Boundary of the Mundane and the Legendary (VS Archer)
Morning 06 - Death from Afar
Morning 07 - The Ones Who Are Lost (VS Archer END)
Midday - To Be Greater
Afternoon 01 - The Fairy I Saw That Day/Those Who Are Stranded I
Afternoon 02 - Reflections on the Ice
Afternoon 03 - "I Will Take Out the Fire of Your Heart"/Nemesis I
Evening 01 - A Way Forward
Evening 02 - Church At The Top of the Hill I
Evening 03 - Church At The Top of the Hill II
Evening 04 - The Dark Entangled
Evening 05 - The Fairy Whose Name I Forgot/Rising Stakes
Evening 06 - Encroaching Doom (VS Lancer)
Evening 07 - What Lies Within (Unlocking the Path)
Evening 08 - Nemesis II
Evening 09 - Regression (Path Unlocked - First Step)
Evening 10 - Wicked Divine Radiance (VS Lancer END)
Night 01 - Everything Lies in the Sheer Cold
Night 02 - Beyond Their Sight 03/Antarctic Man/Out of the Frying Pan...?
Night 03 - What the Maid Sees I/Lost But Not Alone, Again
Night 04 - Second Night Reflections/Woman at the Pinnacle II
Night 05 - The Maid's Guidance I
Night 06 - The Path of the Human God


Day 3
Morning 01 - Beyond Their Sight 04/Bedside Fellows
Morning 02 - Maria, Her Will
Morning 03 - Zombie Crossroads
Morning 04 - Girl Meets Girl
Morning 05 - From Two Different Worlds
Midday - The Name, Liria Colhuán
Afternoon 01 - Sonderverband Z
Afternoon 02 - Wirbelringkanone
Afternoon 03 - First Glimpse of the Sword Dance
Afternoon 04 - Deadly Omens
Afternoon 05 - Servant Versus Monster (x2)/Bloom Nobly, Cherry Blossom of Edelfelt
Afternoon 06 - Servant Versus Monsters/Wilting Cherry Blossom
Afternoon 07 - Gods of Strife (VS Avenger)/Fading Lives
Afternoon 08 - Let the Spirits Kindle Their Flame (DEAD END)
Fairy Dojo/Afternoon 01-B - Hexensoldaten I
Afternoon 02-B - Flawless Escape
Afternoon 03-B - Armored Truck Run
Afternoon 04-B - Partners Versus Monsters
Afternoon 05-B - Kindle the Divine Flame (Path Intensified - Regression Level 2)
Afternoon 06-B - Rising Flames, Growing Chaos
Afternoon 07-B - Interruption and Omen
Afternoon 08-B - Overwhelmed
Afternoon 09-B - A Normal Aftermath
Afternoon 10-B - Boy Meets Beast
Afternoon 11-B - Girl Meets PuppyGoddess
The Weight of the World
Afternoon 12-B - Demon Lord's Challenge (x2)
Afternoon 13-B - What It Means to Live (feat. Maria)
Beyond Their Sight 05
Evening 01 - Meeting of Mages (?)
????? - Vessel and Servant
Evening 02a - Battle of Concepción Hill - Preparations I
Evening 02b - Battle of Concepción Hill - The Trap
Evening 02c - Battle of Concepción Hill - Making a Stand/????? - Storm and Dance
Evening 02d - Battle of Concepción Hill - Hexensoldaten
Evening 02e - Battle of Concepción Hill - Flirting
Evening 03 - Battle of Concepción Hill - First Moves
Evening 04 - Battle of Concepción Hill - Seigi Nomikata Draws First Blood
Evening 05 - Battle of Concepción Hill - The Boldness of Gods and Men (and Sakura)
Evening 06a - Battle of Concepción Hill - Aerial Chariot of the Fourth Reich I
Evening 06b - Battle of Concepción Hill - In the Dark
????? - Servant and Vessel
Evening 07a - The Guessing Game
Evening 07b - The Trial of Fimbulwinter
Evening 08 - The Price of Inaction
Evening 09a - Star of Creation I
Evening 09b - Star of Creation II
Evening 10 - The Turning Point
Evening 11 - Howl of the End

Daneel Rush
March 31st, 2018, 11:10 PM
Saver (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1mwTm0u9ZDiST4mYXZ7Aua2svJ2kDCdDI6oKiyamgD60/edit?usp=sharing)

The Herald of Fimbulwinter (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Kcp5tXpBwHUHRpcRDCXwbNv3Vw0GmFnYzIg07KrwIs0/edit?usp=sharing)


Assassin of the Black Sun (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1afAKWeGLkgDhvUyg7vNPedhNEXulQYpDPrj7ugohm3k/edit?usp=sharing)

Avenger of the Black Sun (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1bcuFXBc385pnBtluU2kERxMHg8P5ZGyFmxp3oyUTzPU/edit?usp=sharing)

Caster of the Black Sun (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1U9lEvmi1byzcYkKU2TsBSX_-MPQdEzmeApdrwQfxWi0/edit?usp=sharing)

Lancer of the Black Sun (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1vbzxja_6R0SMN8ohArTExnGJkZtd_QhybK0RhJ_dkXs/edit?usp=sharing)

Rider of the Fourth Reich (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1VXdhbwpNaqMrniPoCv83Ri7YZUm0_iDBi2JaVsY-5qE/edit?usp=sharing)


Lancer Lily (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1UurRijNitz5cswc5abl2TyHw_GBAmz_Fuc4aGM8Nh94/edit?usp=sharing)

NPCs (https://docs.google.com/document/d/101oH4s-CsJb31aKacBPvSkQKjMn0PGIYxhgWalvRbF8/edit?usp=sharing)

NPC Extra File - Hexensoldaten (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1tvkTrgCBrenVP55lRDUgkxHQVt70CRE9c4yc2rl1Ais/edit?usp=sharing)

Bird of Hermes
April 1st, 2018, 05:09 AM
This gonna be GOOD!

Spartacus
April 1st, 2018, 07:14 AM
Yeah, for once, I'm hyped.

SleepMode
April 1st, 2018, 07:55 AM
Regarding the voting section:

So are you deciding the results from the most-picked choices, or the most-picked set of choices?

---

Nonetheless, I'm excited.

Daneel Rush
April 1st, 2018, 09:28 AM
Regarding the voting section:

So are you deciding the results from the most-picked choices, or the most-picked set of choices?

---

Nonetheless, I'm excited.

Each question is tallied individually, if that's what you are asking.

EDIT: Furthermore, every single "answer" has a value, not only the one with the most votes. You can assume that the surveys are merely a disguise for the true, secret tallying taking place, using your answers to those seemingly arbitrary questions. You can only trust me when I say all your answers have the same intrinsic value, and I apologize for not being able to offer further assurance.

Thanks to everyone who has shown interest by filling the surveys thus far. While we are certainly in the IC board, do not hesitate to comment or ask further questions in this thread. There's still some time before the story begins, after all.

SleepMode
April 1st, 2018, 09:51 AM
Each question is tallied individually, if that's what you are asking.

Yep, thanks for clarifying.

Zurvan
April 1st, 2018, 10:10 AM
This does look interesting, best of luck Daneel

Draconic
April 1st, 2018, 09:19 PM
Looks like fun. I did standard Shounen protagonist answers.
cept for the pen and notepad.

So will this be a post-Temple of Time thing with our MC being a newly recruited Master with our own new Servant?

Also, will Mashu and Ritsuka be around? Because I just want there to be that possibility of some weird chick coming on the male cast and igniting Mashu’s suppressed Tsun instincts. Okay fine, I’ll just confess I just ship it.

You
April 1st, 2018, 09:37 PM
i chose old hard boiled disillusioned detective

Ayr
April 2nd, 2018, 06:01 AM
Also, will Mashu and Ritsuka be around?

I think this has been rather clearly stated to not be the case, unless I'm misinterpreting something here.



However, Chaldea cannot reach everywhere. It cannot undo every tangle, unmake every snag, smooth every wrinkle. Its challenge is already titanic enough.

This, is a Lost Singularity. A rebellion against the current ways of man, far from the eyes of Chaldea. No rayshifting Master will arrive to resolve it. If this Singularity is to be corrected, it will be by the people of that broken timeline.

Bird of Hermes
April 2nd, 2018, 02:30 PM
Protagonist Creation (https://goo.gl/forms/nwFQzhJaUSDA009R2)
The survey linked above will be open for 72 hours as of the posting of this thread. The survey has six questions, and I will use the answers to create our Protagonist. Based on the information I then provide you, you may, if you so wish, decide together on a name and/or faceclaim for them.

Setting Creation (https://goo.gl/forms/dZURkWe0dOr6SmAI2)
The survey linked above will be open for 72 hours as of the posting of this thread. The survey has five questions. I will use the answers to complete the setting for Fimbulwinter, and perhaps more importantly, decide on the Servants that will be drawn to the Singularity, for one reason or another.
A better way of generating the MC's servant than I did also once we find the MC details I'll be dropping names and FC's

Daneel Rush
April 2nd, 2018, 10:06 PM
A better way of generating the MC's servant than I did also once we find the MC details I'll be dropping names and FC's

It is trivial to improve on what already exists. I still study your Quest of Fate on an almost daily basis in the hopes of building something just as interesting.

On another note, there are 24 hours left before I close the surveys. I must admit, most of the things that needed to be set seem pretty decided already. There are only thing or two that could still be swayed by additional votes.

Daneel Rush
April 3rd, 2018, 10:26 PM
Alright, the surveys are closed. Many thanks to the 29 submissions to the Character Creation and the 23 to the Setting Creation.

Look forward to the next step, in which I introduce you to our protagonist.

Daneel Rush
April 4th, 2018, 02:46 PM
Alright, next step. Naturally, we'll get to know our protagonist's true features and personality throughout the development of his story. The following statements are merely pointers aimed at helping you come up with his appearance and/or faceclaim.



26-years-old male.
Unable to connect with anything or anyone, he left home upon finishing high school, afflicted with inescapable wanderlust.
He is highly dexterous and likes working with his hands. Had he gone to college he would have probably studied something like architecture or engineering. Despite his lack of formal education, he is a skilled carpenter, and can draw decent maps and sketches if needed.
A down-to-earth kind of guy, constantly living in the present. He is also an avid reader of non-fiction, always downloading new stuff to read to his smartphone.
He is healthy, and gives the impression of a guy who would probably thrive in the military. However, he is at heart an introvert, and does not really possess a martial mindset.
In Association terminology, he is a "spellcaster", and he is entirely self-taught. He doesn't know anything about magecraft or the Association, or even the term "magecraft". It's all just "magic powers" to him. He doesn't know about magic circuits, either, but he is well aware he has to "switch on his powers" before he can do anything with them.
He doesn't know it, but his elemental affinity is "Fire".


Naturally, the choice of name and faceclaim would also decide his birthplace. Do keep this in mind when you present your suggestions. Anywhere works fine, although it would make more sense if he came from a place with a major port. Naturally, being a native Chilean would give him valuable knowledge of the location, but other birthplaces carry their own intrinsic advantages (cultural and historical knowledge, for example).

Let's allot at least another 72 hours for deciding on a name and faceclaim. Looking forward to your contributions.

SpoonyViking
April 4th, 2018, 02:54 PM
Do we know what exactly are his powers, or will they still be revealed to "the audience"?

Rafflesiac
April 4th, 2018, 05:18 PM
https://cdn.bulbagarden.net/upload/thumb/8/83/Diamond_Pearl_Volkner.png/307px-Diamond_Pearl_Volkner.png

Matthew Roscuro

Zurvan
April 4th, 2018, 05:28 PM
Mashu* Roscuro

RoydGolden
April 4th, 2018, 05:49 PM
https://i.imgur.com/CsewFAw.png

Ashter Cordillera

Daneel Rush
April 4th, 2018, 05:59 PM
Do we know what exactly are his powers, or will they still be revealed to "the audience"?

You will make the choices regarding his magecraft at the start of the story. For now, you can assume he will not have Mystic Eyes or any overt physical features derived from his magical qualities.

SleepMode
April 5th, 2018, 01:36 AM
​Faceclaim:
https://i.imgur.com/HnGpqQT.jpg?2

Name: Javier Lucero

zikari8
April 5th, 2018, 03:28 AM
https://i.imgur.com/HqPQKVFl.png

Name: Manuel Juan Pablo Fernández Piñera

Notes

Manuel Juan Pablo = Given names

Fernández = Paternal Surname

Piñera = Maternal Surname

P.S. Names are hard

Daneel Rush
April 5th, 2018, 08:41 AM
P.S. Names are hard

Damn it, somebody has discovered my evil plan.

But it's great to see so much input. Looking forward what you vote for. It hasn't even been 24 hours, so there's still plenty of time for either voting or proposing something else.

Bird of Hermes
April 6th, 2018, 08:18 AM
Damn it, somebody has discovered my evil plan.

But it's great to see so much input. Looking forward what you vote for. It hasn't even been 24 hours, so there's still plenty of time for either voting or proposing something else.
I know the feeling, I hit the jackpot when someone suggested ‘Seigi Nomikata’ as a name. The pun was too good to pass up. In the meantime, I second this one:


​Faceclaim:
https://i.imgur.com/HnGpqQT.jpg?2

Name: Javier Lucero

Rafflesiac
April 6th, 2018, 10:44 AM
yes, that was me, praise me more

Daneel Rush
April 6th, 2018, 09:53 PM
yes, that was me, praise me more

Truly, nothing will surpass the unbridled greatness of "Seigi Nomikata". All present and future quests will be diminished by this unsurpassable feat.

On less important matters, one day left and "Javier Lucero" is ahead with an astounding 2 votes. I'll be back tomorrow at around this time for the rundown.

Draconic
April 7th, 2018, 04:09 PM
I’ll vote Lucero, but I’d try to find a different FC… that one just looks a little too intimidating somehow. I think it’s his eyes.
*scurries off to find another character with black hair and larger eyes.*

update:

https://safebooru.org//images/1557/cb2fa0a41996af4d616b8752d6d9954dbd76a58b.png?16308 68
I pride myself for being able to find excellent FCs. There were others that were okay, but I figured this one was the best.

So, Javier Lucero but with this FC.

SpoonyViking
April 7th, 2018, 06:03 PM
Add my vote to SleepMode's proposed FC (the same one Hermes voted for), but I vote for Matthew Roscuro as the name.

Daneel Rush
April 7th, 2018, 11:08 PM
I'm too tired to work on the Quest at the moment, so I'll just stretch the name/faceclaim voting for at least another 12 or so hours. Good night everyone.

Bird of Hermes
April 8th, 2018, 02:26 PM
I'm too tired to work on the Quest at the moment, so I'll just stretch the name/faceclaim voting for at least another 12 or so hours. Good night everyone.
Dude it's fine, if things didn't get in the way with mine then I would be a lot further than day 4 or 5 after almost a year.

- - - Updated - - -

Oh god it's been over a year

Draconic
April 8th, 2018, 05:18 PM
Javier Lucero original FC is ded.
If it’s not reuploaded, I’m claiming my submitted FC as the name’s official FC.

SleepMode
April 8th, 2018, 05:21 PM
You sure? It’s fine for me on my phone.

Draconic
April 8th, 2018, 05:23 PM
Not on mine… maybe it’s my phone that’s the problem? Can anyone else see it?

SpoonyViking
April 8th, 2018, 05:28 PM
It's dead here too.

SleepMode
April 8th, 2018, 05:33 PM
I see, I look into it when I get back.

Bird of Hermes
April 8th, 2018, 05:57 PM
If ya can’t I’ll go with Draconic’s

SleepMode
April 8th, 2018, 10:35 PM
https://i.imgur.com/1TogyO8.png

Finally, recovered this.

---

Hopefully I made it on time.

Daneel Rush
April 8th, 2018, 11:16 PM
I never had any problem looking at the picture.

Anyway, there haven't been any new votes in the past 24 hours, so it seems we'll be going with SleepMode's suggestion. With that, we're pretty much ready to start telling the tale of Javier Lucero and the Valparaiso Singularity. Let's build a good story, everyone.

Look forward to the Prologue.

Daneel Rush
April 18th, 2018, 06:59 PM
I would like to explain why, after an apparent rush to get the preliminaries done, I took 10 days to start the Prologue. Two reasons:

1. I'm not in a hurry anymore. If anything, going full throttle at the start is the enthusiasm-killing malady that has slain countless fanfics. It's not like I have a due date to complete the quest, so I'm gonna take it slow. Unless F/GO releases content that somehow invalidates my setting, then FUUUUUUUU-

2. It turns out I have to go on a trip next month, so it is unlikely I'll be able to progress the Quest for a good part of May. So, really, no hurry at all. I'll be plenty satisfied if I finish the prologue before I go on my short hiatus.

Anyway, with that said, let's get started with Fimbulwinter.?????
Day -???
????? Phase – ??

Grandmother was dead.

The girl, alone in her room, clutched the small tin box with fingers bent like talons. Her eyes were squeezed shut, her mind still trapped in the moment her mother received the painfully small urn with the ashes.

Everybody said she died peacefully in her sleep, but the girl knew better: her pitiful grandma never knew peace.

The girl fondly remembered her pitiful, self-tortured grandma, the one the rest of the family treated with kid gloves. Gentle but irascible, quiet and somewhat eccentric. Her parents tolerated her with filial compassion, accepting the ravages of age taking their toll on grandma’s mind. But the girl knew better: there was not a person more lucid than grandmother.

Grandmother was not an eccentric. She was a magus, once a proud denizen of the Moonlit World.

Grandmother was humble. She always insisted she was a nobody, that her magecraft was pitiful, that the true, mighty magecraft was something that should have never fallen in the hands of men.

Grandmother was afraid of magecraft, and she was glad none of her children had inherited the talent. However, the talent was not gone; it merely skipped a generation. The girl discovered magecraft, and it begged her grandmother for instruction. The old, pitiful woman had complied, but her instruction was interspersed with warnings and complaints. All in all, grandmother was a terrible teacher.

Grandmother was gone, leaving only ashes and the small tin box, which her single-page will had granted to her “favorite” granddaughter.

It brought a smile to the girl’s face. If anything, she was the most hated grandchild; the one who wanted to learn all the things poor grandma would have given anything to forget.

The girl opened the box carefully, delicate fingers taking out familiar objects, things she had seen throughout the years of haphazard instruction: a brown notebook, a bundle of letters tied with a single silver ribbon, a Ziploc bag with old photos. Things that grandmother did not show anybody else. Things that nobody else would have wanted to see. Grandmother called it “her most terrible time”, and everybody else would have agreed but, when looking at those pictures, the girl thought her grandmother shone dazzlingly bright.

Setting aside the dog tag-like aluminum plate with cuneiform signs, the girl took into her hands the most valuable item in the box. Her fingers carefully ran over the rough bracelet, woven from the deceased’s very own hair. The girl’s fingers carefully, perhaps even purposefully, circled every single one of the bracelet’s eight knots. She decided right then and there that she would wear it to the grave.

Then, she went back to the photos. Grandmother was a bad teacher, but the girl was, admittedly, a bad granddaughter. Dominated by reckless curiosity, she all but forced the old woman to remember hateful, terrible things. So, her speech became words of caution; warnings against the things she had seen and done.

Swift hands flipped through the photos, all the way to the end. One was missing. The one her grandmother loathed most.

The girl, who would rather be addressed as a woman at her age just past adolescence, was generally considered attractive to the eyes of the world around her. However, the visage of her young grandmother in that photo showed a superior category of beauty: skin without marring, flawlessly white; murky blue eyes, her gaze mysterious, unwelcoming yet possessing of noble warmth; a small nose contrasting with full, alluring lips; fair hair, golden like wheat stalks. Were it not for her perfectly normal-sized ears, she could have passed for an elven princess.

Her grandmother was drop-dead gorgeous, to a degree that it was hard not to feel a measure of smugness at having inherited her genes.

Yet, there were two women in that photo.

It was impossible not to center one's attention on the second woman. It was an inescapable attraction. She was like an embodiment of mystery, her face mostly covered by the shadow of the dark veil cascading from the crown of her head almost to the floor. What could be caught of her face was luscious lips in a straight line, and a single, large eye, utterly lacking in expression.

“Red eyes. She had inhuman red eyes. The eyes of a monster.”

Grandmother trembled at the thought of that woman she refused to call by name. The girl would never forget her teacher’ words.

“That woman was the real thing. I didn’t believe her story for a second. I have no idea where they found her, but she was the real thing. She was no mere woman.”

“Her magecraft; nothing else I’ve ever seen could compare! How could anybody think that woman could be trusted, could be controlled? Our lives and fates were in the palm of her hand!”

By that point, grandmother was not really talking to her anymore. She was a shuddering wreck, bloodshot eyes fixated on the woman. It took the girl a while to figure out why her grandma never destroyed the photo: such was the extent of her terror that she did not dare harm even an image of that woman.

“If I destroy it, there will be retaliation.”

“If I destroy it, she will know.”

“If I destroy it, she will find me.”

The girl remembered asking whatever happened to that woman.

“I don’t know! She disappeared, just like I did. But she is still somewhere out there. She has to be. She’s not done yet.”

As if suddenly aware she was not alone in her bedroom, grandmother’s face jerked up, looking at the girl with murky eyes hollowed by fear. The veiled woman was her boogeyman, lurking in every shadow and in every unfamiliar face. Upon realizing that the person in front of her was in fact her granddaughter and disciple, the aged magus reached for her shoulders with feeble, trembling hands.

“My child, forget that woman. Don’t stand in her way. She’s a monster.”

That was five days earlier. The next day, she had been in the middle of researching the woman when she got the phone call from her mother.

Grandmother was dead.

And the photo was missing.

Everybody said she died peacefully in her sleep, but the girl knew better: her pitiful grandma never knew peace.

Murmuring apologies amidst a torrent of tears, the girl mourned her beloved teacher in the solitude of her bedroom. That day, she would lament.

There will be much to do afterwards.



*** ***


Puerto de Valparaíso
Day 0
Morning Phase – 01
Temperate (14 °C/57 °F)

Health: Optimal
?????: Stable
?????: Good
?????: Stablehttps://i.imgur.com/4Efn1Dz.jpg?1
Source: Photo by Mauricio Córdova for Radio Valparaíso (http://www.radiovalparaiso.cl/2017/09/20/region-valparaiso-alcanzo-5977-millones-dolares-exportaciones-julio/puerto-de-valparaiso/)I leave behind my home for the past few months, the cargo ship “Elysium”. I guess I am smiling—it feels good to settle on solid ground after months at sea.

“See you around, flacucho!”

I let my middle finger over my shoulder speak for itself as I leave the laughing seamen behind. Friends? Not really; even after months of living together in that steel can, I barely know those people, and they know me even less.

https://i.imgur.com/yup8VAy.pngSo, I’m back home. Well, not quite; my family’s residence, the place where I grew up, is further south in Concepción. But Valparaíso is a major port, so I am well acquainted with its narrow, sloped streets.

https://i.imgur.com/Ew6deQp.png
Source: Image from a DJI Phantom 4 drone, by ThinLineMedia (https://www.instagram.com/jevdrops/)Valparaíso, the city of hills. That’s really the first impression I always get when arriving via cargo ship. A carpet of manmade constructions spreading over more than twenty hills, Valparaíso has by this point all but merged with neighboring Viña del Mar. It seems not even the Great Fire of last year put a dent on the city’s seemingly incessant expansion. Its districts are like tentacles, growing ever uphill. I make it sound unsettling, but there is at least the effort to beautify Valparaíso…well, that is, if you like seeing graffiti every-fucking-where.

From vandalization, to visual pollution, to finally becoming an artform of its own. You’ve gotten far, graffiti.

The locals themselves divide the city into El Plano (The Flat) and Los Cerros (The Hills). It’s kind of an unnecessary division if you ask me; I mean, “The Flat” is just two or so blocks from the sea; it’s all uphill from there.

Alright, I might be exaggerating a little; some hills are a little further off the coast than others. Not by much, though. In any case, with the port behind me and a well-earned paycheck in my pocket, I stand in front of Errázuriz Avenue: the major thoroughfare running parallel to the coastline.

Of course, of all things, the first building welcoming those arriving from the sea…is a Subway. Thank you, but no thank you.

My attention thus returns to the weight other than my backpack. A thick stack of papers sealed in a Manila envelope. I was on my way out, so the captain asked me to run an errand for him. Might as well get that done and over with. The naval store is just a few blocks away, anyway.



*** ***

https://i.imgur.com/xJfqTt9.jpg?1
Source: Google Street View.Cochrane is not a pretty street. At least, not once you leave behind the big square, it’s just a narrow passage walled between rows of old buildings and aged paint. Block after block of doors and walls marred by graffiti. Not the cool graffiti, mind you; just the worthless scribbles of people with a can of spray paint and nothing better to do.

As for my errand, it was just a matter of delivering the envelope and signing a piece of paper. I’m done. As of this moment, I am officially unattached to the Elysium. On one hand, it means I am officially jobless (again). On the other hand, it also means I am officially on indefinite holiday.

So, what now?

The three great human needs are sustenance, clothing, and a ceiling over one’s head. Clothing is not an issue; the weather is perfect, aside the from the occasional chilly breeze.

Next comes food, then. I’ve got enough cash in my wallet to go straight to the supermarket and buy food for today and tomorrow, but I’ll have to go to the bank to cash in my paycheck at some point.

As for lodging…well, I still don’t know how long I’ll end up staying in Valparaíso this time, so something like renting an apartment might be a decent idea. Hostels are always an option, though, and I already know a few great ones. But let’s be honest: I’m the kind of guy who can pretty much sleep anywhere. Dropping on one of the city’s parks and just sleeping there doesn’t sound half bad. Hell, if it gets to that point, there’s always the church. Is Father Scissors still in charge?

The matter of lodging:


Find an apartment available for rent. (Time-consuming)
Pay a bed at a nearby youth hostel. (Quick-and-easy)
Walk the proud path of the hobo. (Free, but might get you in trouble)
Ask for sanctuary at the church.
Write-in?

The matter of sustenance (Warning! No write-ins allowed!):


Go get food at the supermarket straight away. Now that I think about it, I haven’t had breakfast yet.
Let’s go to the bank first. I don’t like standing around here with most of my money in a single piece of paper.

You
April 18th, 2018, 07:49 PM
I like how you use real pictures of the locations
kind of like tsukihime but without the filters

- - - Updated - - -

Church
Bank

Rafflesiac
April 18th, 2018, 09:00 PM
2,2

Spartacus
April 18th, 2018, 10:18 PM
3. Hobo
2. Bank

zikari8
April 18th, 2018, 10:22 PM
Apartment
Bank

SleepMode
April 18th, 2018, 10:24 PM
Apartment

Bank

Draconic
April 18th, 2018, 10:29 PM
2. Hostal
2. Bank

We don’t know how long we’re staying here. Are we really going to pay first and last month’s rent?

Bird of Hermes
April 19th, 2018, 02:11 AM
Hostel - It's the most flexible for our situation.
Bank - We need money before we can buy food.

Daneel Rush
April 19th, 2018, 06:27 PM
Well, it's pretty clear we don't particularly care about breakfast.

After the first 24 hours, the choice of lodging is currently at Hostel 3, Apartment 2, Hobo & Church 1 each.

Daneel Rush
April 21st, 2018, 03:33 PM
Hostel “Casa Volante”
Day 0
Morning Phase – 02
Temperate (12 °C/54 °F)

https://i.imgur.com/C6Ns8oL.pngHealth: Optimal
?????: Stable
?????: Good
?????: StableIn the end, I didn’t go to any of the hostels I was already acquainted with. Drawn by a leaflet I saw at Sotomayor Square, I decided to check out a recently opened hostel. The bank was on the way, but I would rather avoid unnecessary attention from the bank’s security officers, what with the big backpack I’m carrying, so I decided to deal with the lodging issue first.

https://i.imgur.com/cMs9YYQ.jpg
Source: HostelworldWhile I could rent a single room for myself, that would be an unnecessary indulgence, so a four-bed dorm room it is. Cheap and comfy enough, and if I were the kind of guy who was skittish about sleeping in the same room as three other strangers, I wouldn’t have spent the past few months in a cargo ship. It’s kind of a bother that I won’t have the privacy for some magic practice, but that might have been a bit too much of a risk, even in a single room.

Really, it’s been a long time since I did some serious magic practice. I could be getting rusty; it’s frustrating. But, well, privacy is a privilege I’m all too often not allowed. It’s the price of living a life all my own, I guess.

Looking at the dormitory, or more precisely, at the number of occupied lockers, it seems like there is only one other person in this room. I know I said I’m not skittish but, after all, less people are definitely better. Anyway, let’s leave the luggage here and get going with only the necessary basics. I’m not the kind of guy who wastes too much time in one place.


*** ***


Small synthetic backpack
Wallet (with ID, debit card and local cash)
Passport
Thermos with water (room temperature)
Smartphone (currently off)
Occult reference book
Paycheckhttps://i.imgur.com/FQ4BOvC.jpg
Source: Wikimedia CommonsThe Bank of Chile, formerly Bank of Valparaíso, is an elegant structure. Like the bank’s headquarters at the capital city, it is part of the city and the country’s historic and cultural patrimony. Stepping through its large double doors is like traveling back in time, to an era of tall roofs, golden chandeliers and columns fucking everywhere; a refreshingly pragmatic attempt at neoclassicism mixed with the predilections of the 19th century. Sure, there are lots more electronics involved nowadays, but to the client the banking experience is probably not much different than it was a hundred years ago.

And of course, no matter the age and time, humans will always have to stand in line.

“Dear, really, you didn’t have to—”

“Of course I had to. Would want my woman to be targeted by scum.”

“Geez, that’s an exaggeration...”

“Like hell it is. A beautiful woman walking alone out of a bank is just painting herself a target. No way I’m letting you out of my sight. Not today.”

The woman replied with a voiceless murmur, letting the side of her head fall on the welcoming chest of her man.

Ah, a new couple.

https://i.imgur.com/fRFyXBG.png?2 https://i.imgur.com/gsT4vgZ.jpg?2
Source: Art by Ini and Catcu.They are radiating that unmistakable “just married” aura. The time in their lives when they cannot take their eyes and hands away from each other. Even in the middle of a public space, they can phase out into a world of their own, while all the bitter people around them scowl and project their own “normies should die” auras.

It’s hard to tell who is the older of the man, but the man certainly acts rather protectively. His hold on her waist is not libidinous or intimate, but merely a claim of possession and a wordless warning to his surroundings.

Ah, our eyes met. It’s easier to just look away. We’re both rather tall, and I’ll be the first to admit my face can look threatening at times, but there’s no need for pointless male posturing right now.

Things like “pride” or “manliness” are just worthless attributes. Avoiding trouble is the best. Cheers to a peaceful life. When I want thrills, I go bungee jumping or paragliding.

Ah, now there’s a face I didn’t expect to see so soon.

Looking away from the couple pulled my sight to the nearby stairs, from which an all-too-familiar figure descends. I am not the only one who notices him, or perhaps his presence is merely that attention-grabbing.

https://i.imgur.com/IOT7cMP.jpg
Source: Art by Tomono Rui.Really, just like always, that man looks like he’s about to break somebody’s face. Yet he is the nicest, most selfless person I have had the privilege of meeting. I hate feeling indebted to others, but I cannot deny Father Ricardo Scherer was a man who helped me when I needed help the most.

Now that I think about it, I guess I wouldn’t have found him if I had chosen to ask for lodging at the church. Good to see I didn’t waste my time.

But really, father; you could not wait to leave the bank before stuffing you mouth with a lollipop? I’m fairly sure food is forbidden inside a bank; do you get away with it because you’re a man of the cloth?

If Father Scherer still remembers me, then he has already noticed my presence. Nothing escapes that man. People claim he has eyes on the back of his head. Indeed, upon reaching ground floor he walks in my direction, greeting people here and there with curt inclinations of the head. Of course, he is a local, well-known figure. Before greeting me, however, he first approaches the married couple. It is none of my business, but I catch enough of their conversation to learn that, as suspected, the couple was recently united in matrimony, and it was indeed Father Scherer who officiated that union.

A couple minutes later, the priest offers a blessing to the smiling couple and turns away from them, to look at me.

“Javier Lucero. It is good to see that neither sea nor man have claimed you.”

“Father.” I incline my head to none but this man. “It’s good to see you again.”

We smile, and our smiles are almost identically crooked.

Manly hug ensues. Okay, perhaps too manly—what the hell are this man’s muscles made of!? Is this some recent church policy I’m not aware of!? No, wait, the priest back at Concepción was affably pudgy.

“It’s been…almost three years?”

I wince inwardly, reminding myself not to confess that I stopped by Valparaíso less than a year ago, and just didn’t stop by the church.

“Ah, yeah. It’s been a while, but I’m back. On a holiday of sorts, for now.”

“Mmhmm,” he murmurs. “Well, make sure to stop by this time. Not like you did last November, you ungrateful child.”

Goddammit.

He smiles, seemingly satisfied after a moment or two of making me feel like I am half my actual age.

I tell him this and that about the places I’ve been, working all sorts of odd jobs and boarding a cargo ship whenever I felt like moving on. The details can wait, as he all but shames me into promising a proper visit in the near future, all but certain to result in me doing all sorts of handyman jobs for the church. Not that I’m complaining; easy money is easy money.

He doesn’t ask me about my current lodging, and I do not mention it either. I relied on his charity years ago, and the solidarity of the church should go to those who need it the most. Yeah, I already owe enough to this man.

Father Scherer leaves a few minutes later. He is a busy man, and I’m stuck in a line. We separate with the promise of a later meeting, and most definitely a beer or two. Our shared Teuton spirit beckons, I guess?



*** ***


The bank…took a lot more time than I expected. The check has been properly dealt with, and there won’t be issues with money for the near future. Now I can readily turn on the holiday switch. But the morning is all but gone. I might as well stop worrying about breakfast and start thinking about lunch.

I have to purchase supplies for the upcoming days at some point, but, well, it is my first time on land after a while. I can allow myself a bit of pampering before I force myself to cook my own meals, right?

The matter of sustenance (Redux):


We’ve dealt with the check. Now we can go buy food at the supermarket. Even a frugal style will be heaps better than the food at the ship.
The supermarket can wait. Let’s climb La Concepción Hill and enjoy the view while devouring greasy fast food.
It’s my first day of holidays. Let’s splurge at the nice restaurant atop La Concepción Hill.

Spartacus
April 21st, 2018, 06:32 PM
1

Draconic
April 21st, 2018, 08:07 PM
2. Again, we don't know how long we're staying here.

- - - Updated - - -

Actually, nvm

1. But not much. We haven't got anywhere to store groceries.

Rafflesiac
April 21st, 2018, 08:11 PM
3

SleepMode
April 21st, 2018, 08:17 PM
1

Let us see how horrible we fare in cooking

Ayr
April 21st, 2018, 08:38 PM
3

Bird of Hermes
April 22nd, 2018, 04:06 AM
Tempting as the last one is, best not to blow all our cash in one go, let’s be smart.

1

Xaodzilla
April 28th, 2018, 02:27 AM
1

Daneel Rush
April 29th, 2018, 08:50 PM
Unimarc Puerto
Day 0
Afternoon Phase – 01
Temperate (9 °C/48 °F)

https://i.imgur.com/C6Ns8oL.pngHealth: Optimal
?????: Stable
?????: Stable
?????: Stablehttps://i.imgur.com/30Tgf1e.jpg?2
Source: Photo by Mikael M. for Google Maps.I know I said I am looking forward to some time away from the sea, but nevertheless the scent of salt and the sounds of the port mere steps away from this supermarket bring a smile to my face.

The moment I set foot into the supermarket, I became aware of the difference in temperature. The couple walking past me in the opposite direction quickly brought their arms closer to their bodies, commenting about the sudden chill.

It is indeed getting chilly out there. I’ll have to go get my jacket at the hostel if I want to go out in the evening. It’s still comfortable indoors, so I will take my time pushing my little cart across the aisles.

So, stocking.

While there is a communal kitchen in the hostel, it would be ludicrous to assume I will have the whole fridge and cabinets for myself. So, let’s not go overboard, and focus on non-perishable items. Well, I’m the kind of guy who can subsist on canned tuna and crackers, so there’s really nothing to worry about. Heck, that would probably be my lunch today if I didn’t have to go to the hostel to store my purchases anyway. However, no matter that I intend to become an artist of the kitchen table this afternoon, I am also a practical man that keeps an eye on the near future. The first stop must be the canned foods aisle—


*** ***


There are things, intangible things, that cannot be explained with words. Or maybe they can, but it just takes too much effort by people much smarter than me.

It is perhaps my need to create a record in my head that drives to nonetheless attempt to explain what happened in that moment, right when I was making my Supermarket Assault Plan. What happened to me, and perhaps to every other person in that place.

It was an instinct. Perhaps a legacy of our cavern-dwelling ancestors, or perhaps something even more ancient; a remnant from a primitive life form extinct millions of years ago. Something primal yet taken for granted: the all-too familiar “instinct” that there is something behind you.

No.

That wasn’t quite it. It wasn’t something that mundane. If I had to put it in as few words as possible, it was a bursting feeling that shouted in my mind: “there is something incredible behind you, and you might as well die if you don’t turn around right now.”

Not merely the awareness of an unseen observer, or even an unseen threat. It was the feeling of a critical juncture. A life-defining moment. A decisive choice that would inexorably direct a person’s life towards a definite path.

However, given this kind of “choice”, the man named Javier Lucero could only pick one option. Or rather, the “choice” was never a choice to the man named Javier Lucero. Ten out of ten times, a hundred out of a hundred times, a billion out of a billion times, Javier Lucero would definitely pick “turn around”!

https://i.imgur.com/Xrz0Enz.jpg?2
Source: Artwork by Mafuyu (http://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?mode=medium&illust_id=29512383).It was a maid!

A maid?

Absolutely not.

When my sight caught her incandescent red eyes, the very fact she was wearing the kind of cosplay that really should only belong in fetish shops and the privacy of people’s bedrooms all but faded out of my mind. Her clothes were truly irrelevant—whether she wore a nurse outfit, a Nazi uniform or the papal robes, it would not have mattered.

“Who is this woman!?” Could it be possible for anybody to think anything else?

Standing perfectly upright, moving with the grace expected of one given the appellative of “maid”, the blonde bombshell walked past me and into the supermarket, her presence like a black hole that pulled all attention towards herself.

Our eyes only met by sheer coincidence. Even if all eyes were on her, she cared not. Her presence attracted all eyes, but nothing else. Her lack of concern for her attention-grabbing beauty and dress could only be described as “aristocratic”. She might as well be the only person in the world. Never has a human being given less fucks about anything. Uncaring of being the center of attention; a cold queen to whom all lesser mortals were unworthy of even being registered by her perception.

I didn’t even realize I was holding my breath until she put some distance between us. Heck, I hadn’t even noticed she was pushing a wheelchair in front of her.

It’s…an old man, wrapped in thick, rough sheets of linen. I can’t even joke about dirty old men paying women to dress in fetish clothes. There’s no way that decrepit person can enjoy his enviable company. Were it not for the lack of a smell, I would even question whether the man is even alive. It wasn’t just that the maid’s overwhelming presence smothered his.

The woman’s inescapable pull diminished by distance, I could only shake my head hoping to clear my thoughts. Shopping is gonna be awkward with that woman around. I’m not the kind of guy to go gaga over every good-looking person, but that maid is something else. It’s not even lust that’s been roused in me by the sight of that woman. It’s hard to explain, but now that she’s gone, it feels more bothersome than anything else.

I considered her following her for a moment, but then I looked at the idiotic faces of one who was doing exactly that, and quickly realized I did not want to be that guy.

Let’s…let’s just do what we came here to do.

This whole event was just weird.



*** ***


Hostel “Casa Volante”

https://i.imgur.com/QK3cq85.jpg?1
Source: Hostelworld (https://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Casa-Volante-Hostal/Valparaiso/82633).Cooking…is something done to produce sustenance. Some call it an art; some devote their lives to it. I could never be one of those people. I cook because I need to; because I have to eat and, at one point, because I got paid for it. If I didn’t need to, I’d never cook. I could spend my time doing much more interesting things.

Nonetheless, cooking must be done. And if I must cook, I’m not going to half-ass it.

“Behold!” I exclaim to nobody upon the sight of the finished meal served on the table.

https://i.imgur.com/HpMEg4Q.jpg
Source: Cuisine AZ (https://www.cuisineaz.com/recettes/chili-con-carne-a-la-viande-hachee-6373.aspx).“Chili con carne!”

“Ahaha, your lunch is a pun!”

“Indeed it is.” I admit it: it was completely on purpose.

“Looks pretty good!”

“It is pretty good.” Not to brag, but I don’t cook things I won’t enjoy eating.

“Gimme some.”

“Aren’t you a shameless little girl?”

“Hey! There’s nothing little about me, you prick! Is that how you hit on girls!?”

“You’re one rude little girl. Is that how you beg for food?”

“Ahaha~”

Turns out I met my dorm roommate. She’s currently seated across the table, resting her chin on her fists held together while assaulting me with puppy dog eyes.

It’s almost disgusting to watch. Call me gullible, but sometimes it’s easier to just give in.

“There’s more in the pot. Serve yourself.”

“Yay, free lunch for being cute!”

“Listen to yourself, goddammit.”

“Ahaha~”

“Is everything funny to you…?”

https://i.imgur.com/YtaP9A0.jpg?3
Source: Artwork by Yoshino Ryou (https://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?mode=medium&illust_id=60209096).My roommate is a self-proclaimed “100% nineteen-years-old American beauty” called Maria Westinghouse. In a word, she’s…well, hyper. The only reason she’s not prattling right now is because she’s assaulting her chili con carne like a soldier having his first meal out of the trenches. Holy shit, a woman—no, a human being shouldn’t eat like that.

“You’re eating too fast; you’ll end up full of gas.”

“You really have no idea how to talk to a woman,” she says between mouthfuls of food.

“We’re sharing a room; I don’t want it to stink.”

“We’re eating the same thing. We’ll be fart siblings.”

“I don’t want that to be a thing!”

She just laughs. Well, rather a bright roommate than a boring one if you ask me, even if she seems a little flimsy. I don’t even want to know about the bracelet made of hair around her right wrist.

“Alrigh—” Her words are interrupted by a brief belch. She doesn’t look a bit embarrassed even after I raise an eyebrow. “Pardon my French. Anyway, now that you’re my sugar daddy, we should get to know each other.”

“For a plate of chili con carne? Damn, you’re cheap.”

“I prefer the term ‘easily satisfied’. The only things a woman needs from a man are food on her plate and a roof over her head!” She pauses for a bit after that pointlessly proud sentence. “And being taken out to nice places from time to time.”

“You’re not a woman, you’re a goddamn golden retriever.”

Her reply only comes after a bout of laughter.

“Nah, not nearly that soft and fluffy. Now seriously, where ya travelin’?”

I take a few seconds to assemble the usual story in my head. That I chose not to go to a university, instead living on my own taking whatever job I could. That in the past eight years I’ve been a construction worker, a fisherman, a car mechanic and a tech support employee, among other things. That I am a trained seafarer, and I work in cargo ships to travel the world.

I don’t ask, but it seems Maria thinks she must repay my answer at least twofold, so she rants about herself. That she couldn’t decide what to do with her life after high school, so she’s taking a year to travel and “figure out how to be an adult”. That it’s the first time she’s completely on her own, and she’s having a blast. That she had a list of places she’s wanted to visit, and she’s gone through it one by one: London, Germany, Croatia, Rome, Argentina and now Chile.

I wonder about that strangely specific list, but I’m not curious enough to ask.

Then she asks the usual question I hate the most, in part because it reeks of can’t-think-of-anything-better-to-ask-ness. But mostly because it’s the question that forces me to lie the most.

The favorite place I’ve visited in my travels.

Of course, I’ve admired the aurora borealis off the coast of Norway, and I have been humbled by the stormy seas of the Drake Passage. I’ve marveled at the Pyramids and enjoyed a gelato on the beaches of Capri. All those things are cool and all, but the moment that really defined my travels was not something I can talk about with anybody.

It was the moment I found that text. The moment I found a direction for my magical powers.

This choice completes Javier Lucero’s character creation process, as it establishes the foundation of his magecraft. Needless to say, it cannot be changed afterwards, and the consequences of this choice will determine critical elements of Javier’s performance throughout the entire quest. Choose carefully. What magical text does Javier possess, and where did he acquire it?



The Lemegeton (Copenhagen) (The most balanced option. Moderate potency and proficiency, with a natural, steady path to further growth. However, it focuses entirely on spells affecting oneself.)
The Key to Theosophy (Istambul) (Strongest start, but further growth within the Singularity will be very difficult, if not impossible. The combination of Theosophic syncretism and the Seven Rays ideology would normally open the path to unparalleled versatility. However, Javier's personal mindset pushes him towards a focus on Alchemy.)
The Greek Magical Papyri (Alexandria) (Worst start, but greatest intrinsic potential. It can connect to truly ancient mysteries, but no amount of growth is possible without instruction. Javier's current prowess is limited to simple, practical alchemies.)

I answer with travel guide accolades about the city that changed my life, but I quickly divert the conversation away from me and back to the young woman. Fortunately, Maria Westinghouse certainly has no problem talking about herself. I mostly nod through some nonsense rant about how she’d love to see the polar bears at Antarctica (no, I’m not gonna correct her) when she suddenly catches herself and her mouth comes to a halt.

That look on her face, it’s not quite “shit, I’m rambling like a loon”, and more like “hey, I just thought of something”.

“Hey, hey, daddy—”

“Don’t call me that. I’ll seriously spank you.”

“Ahaha, no way, no way~” She waves her hand dismissingly. “We can’t fuck, they’ll kick us out.”

This person is amazing in a terrible way.

“Anyway, you from here right?” Reaching for her side bag, she takes out a map of the city and unfolds it on the table.

“Not quite, but I know my way around, yes.”

“Cool. This morning I tried walking around, see the sights, trying to get used to the city. But now that I’ve got a map I might as well ask ya. How do I get…here?” She points to a name in Spanish scribbled on the side. “My Spanish’s kinda crap, and I’m not confident in these narrow streets. But it should be close to here, right?”

Now that I think about it, her name’s Maria, but she’s obviously not Latina. But, rather, the place she’s asking about…

That’s Father Scherer’s church. Does she have some business with Me-fist-you-pheles?

Well, it’s none of my business, so I’ll just show her the way in the map. I don’t think she’s gonna give him trouble, unless the imaginary backstory I came up for Father Scissors turns out to be true, and his former life as a trained assassin has finally caught up to him.

Or she’s his illegitimate daughter.

Or maybe I should just stop it with the stupid ideas.

“Awesomeballs,” she, uh, celebrates when I’m done marking the way. “Thanks! Owe you one.”

“Two,” I correct, pointing at the empty plate in front of her.

“Eh? I thought this was your first attempt at scoring points with the cute me.”

“…”

My silence is eloquent.

“…compassion towards your poor, hungry roommate?”

“…”

“A bonding ritual for fart siblings!”

“Stop trying to make that a thing!”

SleepMode
April 29th, 2018, 09:25 PM
3

We're going Hard Mode bby

On a serious note, it certainly will be difficult for the moment, but this may save our asses should we play this long-term.

Bird of Hermes
April 30th, 2018, 08:37 AM
3 - Hard mode Engage!

Also it looks like we’ve found the main candidate for the heroine (well, so far anyways)

Draconic
April 30th, 2018, 08:56 AM
HAHAHAHA! Main heroine is Djeeta.

Sure, 3, why not.

Rafflesiac
April 30th, 2018, 09:30 AM
Oh hey, Maria's from the banner pic. Also she has an emergency battery, cool.

3 relies on finding and teaming up with whatever Association bigwig happens to be in the area. It has the most long-term progress, but as a man who's seen countless quests come and go I'll pick 2.

Spartacus
April 30th, 2018, 10:08 AM
2

Because versatility, sounds like very good choice for his supposed affinity and the chuuniest name out of the three.

Xaodzilla
May 1st, 2018, 08:51 PM
3

Without a doubt. It has the most potential for improvement and development, and like others have said before me...

Hard Mode EngageI was reading through the magecraft types again, and I change my answer to 2, mainly because I feel like versatility would be a good thing to have.

zikari8
May 1st, 2018, 08:56 PM
A strong start is always good

2

Ayr
May 2nd, 2018, 08:06 AM
Theosophy might be fun. 2

SpoonyViking
May 2nd, 2018, 05:06 PM
Call me a sucker, but I really liked Shirou's progression from fixing heaters to summoning an inner world made of swords. Option 3.

Daneel Rush
May 3rd, 2018, 03:06 PM
Alright, after this, as I mentioned before, the quest will go on break for at least 2 weeks due to travel. I'll leave the last poll (Javier's magecraft) open until I return. I guess I'll use the time thinking on how to make things more troublesome and awesome for you people. See you around.Hostel “Casa Volante” – Dormitory
Day 0
Afternoon Phase – 02
Temperate (5 °C/41 °F)

https://i.imgur.com/C6Ns8oL.pnghttps://i.imgur.com/M3a6Pt8.pngHealth: Optimal
?????: Optimal
?????: Stable
?????: OptimalWith a full stomach, the body slows down one gear. Really, the impulse to just lie down on the bed and take a long nap is fearsome. I understand how less disciplined, less active people just surrender to it. In my case, I will take a few slow minutes to organize my stuff before deciding what to do next. Is there a laundry machine somewhere around here? It will be useful to know that for the future.

Aside of the rustling of my hands in my large hiker’s backpack, the other sound in the room comes from Maria brushing her teeth. Ah, so she’s a roamer too. Mother is the type who brushes her teeth without moving a step from the sink.

I spare a glance at the American girl as she crosses the room and opens the window, allowing a chilly breeze to rush into the room and making my hairs stand on end.

“Holy crap that’s colder than I expected,” the girl complains as she hurriedly closes the window again. “My bad.”

I only grunt dismissively, but the girl does have a point: it is unusually cold, both for the time of the year and the time of the day. I didn’t hear anything in the weather reports aboard the Elysium. Anyway, gotta take out that jacket…

“Phew~” Maria exhales moments later after completing her mouth-cleaning ritual. “Hmm, hmm, guess I should get going,” she then declares before approaching me. Or rather, her bed.

There are two bunkbeds in this room, and I am pretty sure when I came here this morning I picked the one which didn’t have a bed already claimed. When did this girl move her things to claim the bed on top of mine? Is this her equivalent of the child who sleeps with a night light?

“Going to the church?”

“Um,” she nods while checking the contents of her side bag. “Shouldn’t dally…”

Her voice drops for a moment and I don’t quite catch the rest.

“Hmm?”

“Eh? Ah, nada, nada~” Back to loud it is, I guess. Might as well…

“You have business with Father Scherer?”

Never have I seen a head jerk so quickly. And now that I think about it, this might just be the first time she is not wearing a smile on her face. I’m seated on my bed, so the way she unblinkingly looks down at me makes my innards twist, and I’m the one who looks away first.

Sometimes, rarely, I hate this part of myself.

“You know the Father.” It is not a question. Maria’s serious voice is as intense as her easygoing one.

“Mah, everyone does around here,” I feel like clarifying for some reason. I finally finish reorganizing the contents of my backpack after taking out the jacket. Half of my brain trying to dispel the uncomfortable feeling by deftly working on the large backpack’s cords.

“But, yeah, Father Scherer is an, um, old…acquaintance. So don’t go and cause him any trouble.”

Maria chuckled at that, but it didn’t carry her usual mirth. It was…sardonic? Ironic? Dunno what’s the word I’m looking for.

“And if you cause him trouble, don’t tell him I showed you the way.”

At last, the cold atmosphere lightens as the girls laughs with her usual merriness.

“No way, no way! I must tell him all about the gentleman, Javier Lucero.”

She pronounces it “Xavier”. Oh well.

“Ugh…”

After laughing one last time, Maria hung the strap of her bag around her neck and made for the door.

“But really, thanks for lunch, Javier. When I’m done with everything I’ll make it up to you, um, somehow. Maybe.”

“That last word. Thank carefully about that last word.”

Her grin is bright. Very bright. Yes, this girl is sunny. That is probably the best word I can use to describe her…and the grin is gone, replaced with…is that, disbelief?

“What the fuck…?” she murmurs, suddenly changing plans and crossing the room again, back to the window. I follow her with my eyes, and inevitably see what caught her attention.

It’s snowing.

It’s fucking snowing.

It doesn’t snow in Valparaiso.

Moments later I am right by her side, watching the impossible. The street outside the window is not very busy, but the few people in my sight have also stopped to marvel at the white miracle.

Snow. Falling as far as the eye can see, and in growing amounts.

It is a beautiful scene, but…it’s surreal.

It’s so surreal, it is frightening.

I feel a hand grasping the hem of my jacket. Maria, too, gets it.

As the charming snowfall grows into an uncontrollable blizzard, the girl and I look up at the sun shining in the wrong place.


https://i.imgur.com/DzBDBjv.jpg

The real sun has been smothered by clouds. Whatever this thing is, it shines brightly above the sea, I’d guess less than a kilometer from the shore. It is large, a ball of white light ominous in its incongruence.

“What is…” Maria murmurs a pointless question.

My left hand accidentally brushes against her right, which she promptly pulls up by bending the arm. That brings her eyes away from the bizarre outdoors. I have not really paid attention to her, until I notice she is (and now I am as well) now staring at the creepy bracelet around her wrist.

She whispers something. It sounds like “grandma”, but what hits me is the unbridled fear in her voice.

I’m afraid. I’m afraid, and the most fearsome thing is that I don’t know what exactly I’m afraid of.

That’s the second time today I experience this annoying confusion.

The sky is flooded with light, a single all-encompassing pulse, and we wince and bring our hands up to our faces. Had we been staring at the false white sun, it might have burnt our retinas.

The window cracks, and Maria reacts faster than me.

“Get down—!” she manages to cry out before the glass shatters inwards, and an utterly gelid blows us across the room. My right side complains as I fall on it. Maria too falls with a muted grunt.

It’s cold.

It’s cold.

It’s cold!

Freezing wind howls through the broken window, the frame itself cracking as a layer of frost rapidly encroaches upon it.

It hurts. My skin hurts. My ears feel like they’re on fire, and I have to close my eyes; my eyes will freeze!

I vaguely catch the sounds: someone screaming, a distant car crash. The howling wind smothers everything else. A hand reaches for my own; it is inhumanly cold. Everything is cold.

A second pulse of light from the distant sky is like a hammer to my brain. I can’t think anymore.

I’m gonna die.

I’m dead.


*** ***


“Please, save this person too!”

“…very well. He shall act as our sustenance.”


*** ***


The city is wrapped in cold.

Mankind has been betrayed.

The Human Order has been rejected.

Your life has come to a halt.

If you do not wish for this to be the last page of your story,
Create a path to victory in this Fimbulwinter.


https://i.imgur.com/mY5MgrP.jpg

Prologue END


*** ***


Warning!

This is a Save Point.

If your quest reaches a Dead End, you may choose to resume it from this point.

Rafflesiac
May 3rd, 2018, 03:48 PM
I'm sure that's just a natural part of the heating and cooling cycles throughout history.

Spartacus
May 3rd, 2018, 09:36 PM
This is the point where we supposedly get our free quartz.

SleepMode
May 3rd, 2018, 09:43 PM
The Superstorm came earlier than usual.

So far, I'm excited for future developments; and two weeks of wait time is nothing.

Daneel Rush
May 3rd, 2018, 11:09 PM
This is the point where we supposedly get our free quartz.

Sorry, but I'm worse than DW.

No quartz, no friends, no apples, no Servants at the click of a button, Final Destination.

Spartacus
May 3rd, 2018, 11:20 PM
Sorry, but I'm worse than DW.

No quartz, no friends, no apples, no Servants at the click of a button, Final Destination.

Truly a hard mode.

Bird of Hermes
May 4th, 2018, 08:37 AM
Wasnt expecting it to all to kick off straight after the prologue but I ain’t complaining.


Sorry, but I'm worse than DW.

No quartz, no friends, no apples, no Servants at the click of a button, Final Destination.
Regardless I’m sticking with my choice of hard mode, I can’t think of many quests that have finished here (god knows I’m slow with mine) but if your CaS snippets are anything to go by, we’re in for a ride.

SpoonyViking
May 6th, 2018, 08:18 PM
...I loved it! More, more!

Daneel Rush
May 21st, 2018, 11:33 AM
Just to let you know, I am back. It'll still be a while until I post the next part. Needless to say, I got new ideas these past weeks, and I really gotta properly write the rules of the game before anything else.

The last poll will therefore remain open a while longer. Thus far it's Theosophy with a 5-4 lead.

Daneel Rush
May 25th, 2018, 08:42 AM
The magecraft poll is now closed. Looks like theosophy it is. I'll admit it's an unexpected result, but that's fun in its own way. Let's try to make Madam Blavatsky proud.

In any case, let's get the fun started.

FIMBULWINTER

https://i.imgur.com/vvRwJ0U.jpg


?????
Day ?
????? Phase – 01
???? (-?? °C/?? °F)

Health: Stable
Sustenance: Poor
Warmth: Optimal
Stamina: PoorConsciousness returns. It is not the grogginess following a long sleep, but an overall feeling of weakness that permeates my body. And it is precisely because the body is weak, that the mind kickstarts right into high gear; because my mind is filled with a simple impression.

It is dangerous.

If I don’t respond in any way, my life will be in danger.

My eyes are still blurry, but I have other senses. Before my hearing, there’s touch. Pressure, a significant, but not alerting weight on my body. A not-unfamiliar feeling envelops me.

A sleeping bag.

But, the weight is greater than the usual. Further somethings are on top.

Both mind and sight clear up further.

I’m hungry.

I hear, the whispers of wind rushing through narrow spaces. I also feel it, even through the layers of warmth covering me. A cold wind is filling this room.

Cold.

Cold…

A second sun.

A window breaking.

Unfathomable cold.

That…that was something that happened, right!?

At last, my mind is clear and sharp as ever. I remember. Indeed, it is cold; I can tell. Outside of the comfort of this refuge, it is cold. It sucks, but I can’t stay here forever.

Taking a deep breath, I push my way out of my cave and into the light.

Gods, it’s cold as fuck—


https://i.imgur.com/Rif1W7a.jpg?1
Source (https://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Casa-Volante-Hostal/Valparaiso/82633) (Edited with Adobe Photoshop)

Warmth: Optimal --> Poor…



The fuck.

The fuck is this!?

I grit my teeth, feeling blood rushing into my eyes. It’s not the impossible cold from before, but it is definitely below zero degrees; I’m not wearing clothes for this kind of weather.

No good.

No good no good no good.

I’m shivering and breathing heavily, standing in the middle of the frozen room. I consciously know I should get a hold of myself, regulate my breathing and conserve energy, but it’s no good. That does nothing for me.

This whole situation is too abnormal!

No.

No no nonono, no!

I’m massaging my temples.

The situation is not normal. Come to terms with that, Javier Lucero, and then we can move on. Don’t take too long, you’re fucking freezing in here.

The situation is not normal. But I can’t freak out here. I can accept this, because I know magic exists. Even if the situation is too unbelievable, even if I had never seen other magical phenomena, because I am capable of magic myself, I am open to the possibility of other manifestations of magic to exist in this world.

Yes, I had noticed hints, here and there; the very fact I could make sense of Blavatsky’s ranting was the biggest one. But this is the first time I see it with my own eyes; magic other than my own.

But isn’t the difference in scale a little too overwhelming, goddammit!

Ah, there. I’ve calmed down. Good. Now let’s deal with this.

Maria.

Looking down at the piles of thick blankets and the sleeping bag, it’s safe to assume Maria was the one who wrapped me in that cocoon of warmth. In this cold, without proper clothes, she might have just saved my life.

But that also means Maria is safe. That’s good. Right now, I hafta focus on myself.

My guts are complaining at the lack of sustenance. How long have I been out of it?

Before anything else, though, I need warmth. My backpack…still here, wrapped in thick frost.

Unfortunately, I didn’t plan to stay so long in Valparaiso as to wait for winter. Hell, winter in Valparaiso is not even that cold in the first place. The point is, I don’t carry winter clothes with me right now, because I was planning to stick to the southern hemisphere at least until the end of the year. Sucks, huh.

I could stack layers of clothing but, ridiculous appearance aside, can I afford to sacrifice mobility in this, completely unknown, situation?

For now, I should at least put on my hooded jacket—

—ah, but there’s another option, isn’t there?

I don’t really know a thing about how my magic actually works, but I know that, when I “turn on” my magic power, my body heats up. It seems that even when it comes to magic, there is not a perfectly efficient system; energy is wasted in the form of heat. I could take advantage of that right now, but it’s clearly been a while since I had that chili con carne. Magic while low on fuel is a little risky.


Should I switch on the magic before leaving the room?


Yes. No point in saving up fuel if the cold gets me before refilling the tank.
No. Let’s save on the magic for now.

Rafflesiac
May 25th, 2018, 11:18 AM
No is smarter but Yes means that someone of interest could find us, so I'll say Yes.

Bird of Hermes
May 25th, 2018, 12:15 PM
No is smarter but Yes means that someone of interest could find us, so I'll say Yes.
I'm down with this plan, mark me down as Yes.

SpoonyViking
May 25th, 2018, 12:20 PM
Let's play it smart for now. I'm going with "No".

SleepMode
May 25th, 2018, 01:26 PM
Nope.

Spartacus
May 25th, 2018, 02:19 PM
Yes.

It's a singularity about cold and freezing, and it's says below zero degrees. This shit can kill us faster than anything hypothermia can throw at us.

Rafflesiac
May 25th, 2018, 03:10 PM
Equip Blankets imo

Spartacus
May 25th, 2018, 03:12 PM
But even the bed is frozen!

Rafflesiac
May 25th, 2018, 04:02 PM
He had some on him from before, those'll do fine.

Spartacus
May 25th, 2018, 04:32 PM
What I mean is, if something as solid as a bed is frozen, it must be cold enough to penetrate a blanket.

But, eh, I probably read too much into the picture. Since Maria is fine and all with a blanket, I doubt she going to die because of ice, and that should apply to us too.

Daneel Rush
May 27th, 2018, 09:07 AM
Please do keep in mind that the content of the images is limited by the sources available in the Internet and my personal photo collection, and by my far-from-masterful Photoshop skills. Whenever you find a discrepance between an image and text, please go with the text.Hostel Casa Volante
Day ?
????? Phase – 02
Cold (-11 °C/12 °F)

Health: Stable
Sustenance: Poor
Warmth: Poor
Stamina: PoorIt is easy to ignore the lightheadedness in my head. Rather, it’s easier to concentrate on the many issues I have to deal with right now.

I look at my surroundings, at the dormitory that has become a frozen world like something out of a fantasy.


https://i.imgur.com/Rif1W7a.jpg?1
Source (https://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Casa-Volante-Hostal/Valparaiso/82633) (Edited with Photoshop)

Everything—almost everything—is covered in frost. The water in the air rapidly condensed and became small icicles latched to the metal frame of the bunk beds and the lockers. Just like the windows, the glass on the picture frames and the lightbulbs is completely shattered. Snowflakes drop almost shyly into the room from outside, where the ocean breeze has become a deathly gale that chills the bone.

It’s cold as fuck. But it’s not cold enough to create this scene.

The chill that knocked me out was something that could kill in an instant. A terrifying cold, that made on think the impossible words “absolute zero”. The pulse from that second sun, did it instantaneously drop the ambient temperature to an unfathomable degree, and it’s gotten warmer since then? Will it keep rising back to normal, or has it reached a steady state?

On the other hand, there’s the sleeping bag and blankets that covered me. Those also collected frost, but it flaked off effortlessly when I got out. Were these stored somewhere, and thus got spared the worst of the cold? No way to know, and I guess it’s not really that important.

Will that terrible chill happen again?

The second sun no longer shines out there, so that’s a good sign, I guess. In fact, you can barely catch a glimpse of the light of the sun, faintly leaking past a canopy of grey clouds.

The sea is frozen, as far as the horizon. I can see a ship, having just taken off, crushed by encroaching ice a few miles off the coast. And the horizon…

No. I’ll go mad if I keep at it. Focus on what matters right now, Javier.

Of course, I haven’t been idle. Multiple layers would be too cumbersome, and wrapping myself in blankets clumsy and unreliable, but I had to at least cover my unprotected face, especially my aching ears and lips. However, as long as I stay in this room, I can still rely on these thick and warm sheets, right?

So, like a mendicant monk wearing a veil to escape the harsh sun, I sit on the freezing cold bed with blankets draped over my head. Hands clasped on my lap, index fingers touching. My body shivers, it will be hard to concentrate. But I’ve done this dozens—no, hundreds of times—exactly for this purpose. I cannot allow a situation in which I cannot tap on my magic to exist.

Magic is not a convenient power. It is not like I can shoot fireballs at will or bend reality at a whim. Magic is clumsy and complicated; to be honest, it feels more trouble than it’s worth at times. But, damn it, it’s magic, and I’m never letting go of it.

“Come,” I whisper, as I flick the metaphysical switch. A familiar, awful feeling, yet strangely welcome this one time.

“Stop that! Stop doing that, unholy child!”

Boiling water sears my skin. My mind conjures a humming sound, as if I were a machine that was just turned on.

This is the feeling of magic. And it is mine.

Warmth: Poor --> Stable


Bonus! Fire elemental affinity increases efficiency of heat conservation. You have more time before Stamina or Health loss due to activation of magic circuits.


It doesn’t take long for the warming to take hold of my body. Yes, I’ll just let the energy circulate; no need to do anything else for now. Now I’m ready to get moving. Let’s take a look at the building beyond this single room. I leave, even as my body complains upon leaving the relative warmth of the blankets.

My stomach growls again. I’ll have to solve that one issue some time soon. I hear no sound but the howling wind, and my nose can’t catch the slightest scent in this weather. Stuffing my hands beneath my armpits, I challenge the hallway past the door.

It is easy to understand why being indoors provides no protection from the harsh cold. Just by walking down the hallway, I can see broken windows and doors blown off their hinges. The wind effortlessly rushes in, gaining speed in the narrow spaces—it might be even worse to stay indoors unless I do something about all the broken windows.

Everything is frozen, but there is not another soul—either the rooms were not occupied in the first place, or the deadly chill caught them someplace else. Well, it was the middle of the day; it’d make sense for backpackers and other young tourists to be outdoors at the time.

The moment I step out of the dorm room hallway and into the common area, my sense of values takes a new blow.


https://i.imgur.com/wZfb4SW.jpg?1

An ice block—no, an ice prison.

Right in the middle of the dining room where I had chili con carne with Maria, a person is encased in a block of ice. A single hand is raised defensively—this person had no time to react or respond in any way before she was trapped. She was encased in mere moments.

I shudder. For once, it’s not the cold’s fault. If I look a distance away, I can catch a glimpse of another such block where the receptionist would normally stand. A third block envelops a young man on a nearby couch, his hands still holding a local newspaper. They all hold looks of alarm, which didn’t even have time to become terror. In an instant, they became prisoners; trapped insects, in ice instead of amber. My eyes instinctively avoid the prisoner’s own. I don’t want to see; I don’t want to empathize with these poor people. The fear would disable me, and I need to keep moving forward.

Focus on what you have to do, and on what you can do. That’s how it’s always been, Javier.

Perhaps recklessly, I slide my trembling fingers down the smooth ice surface. The normal feeling and texture of ice; I dunno why I expected anything else.

As if I needed further proof: this is not a normal situation. No natural phenomenon would result in something like this. Something—some magical power—created this situation.

“Something”, my mind conjures. I know: it is too terrifying to use the other, more obvious word.

I exhale, and the vapor quickly condenses into a wispy mist. Turning on the magic can only do so much, and it is not a permanent solution. It is still annoyingly cold.

Why didn’t I end up like these people?

It’s hard to believe a sleeping bag and some blankets would make much of a difference.

I need to find Maria.

Walking past the kitchen and into the laundry room (where I find a woman encased in ice while bending over to empty the laundry machine), I catch sight of the back door. For a change, this one is closed; I can’t help but notice this when all the dorm room doors were flung open when the windows shattered and the freezing cold rushed in. This is a large building, and I’m far from checking all of it, but whatever people I’ve found are all trapped in prisons of ice.


Should I bother checking out the rest of the hostel building, or try my luck in the surrounding area?


Stay inside. It’s fucking cold out there, and there might still be something I’ve missed.
Go outside. If Maria were here, we’d have already found each other. I need a broader view.


Regardless of the choice above, there’s at least something I should do before doing either.


Check for food and water.
Try to break the ice prisons.
Write-in.

Rafflesiac
May 27th, 2018, 10:05 AM
Go outside, but check for food and water first.

Spartacus
May 27th, 2018, 10:40 AM
Yeah, sorry Daneel I'm such a noob.

SleepMode
May 27th, 2018, 10:45 AM
Check for Food and Resources, then Go Outside.

Draconic
May 27th, 2018, 11:07 AM
1. Go Outside.

- - - Updated - - -

3. Break some wooden furnature and start a fire (prefereably somewhere safe), then find Maria. This ice storm, or whatever it is, is clearly some sort of highly lateral attack. Any food and water that could be found easily is going to have been ruined somehow. Granted, there's water all around us, but I also get the impression that if we tried to eat any of that, we'd die the same way as a bunch of people from a certain novel by Kurt Vonnegut.

Bird of Hermes
May 27th, 2018, 11:37 AM
The human body can go a few weeks without food but water is another story, given this may be the nordic three year storm before ragnarok I don't think eating the ice is an option. so check for Food, Drink and Resources.

Afterwards we don't have anything else of worth here so Go Outside.

SpoonyViking
May 27th, 2018, 12:07 PM
Hmmm... Check for Food and Water, then Go Outside.

Daneel Rush
June 4th, 2018, 08:49 PM
Hostel Casa Volante
Day ?
????? Phase – 03
Cold (-12 °C/10 °F)

https://i.imgur.com/C6Ns8oL.png?1

Health: Stable
Sustenance: Poor
Warmth: Stable
Stamina: PoorI can afford a minute if only to check whether the food I bought is still there or not.

The refrigerator…huh. This will be tricky.

It takes some effort to force open the door through the layer of frost sealing it, and inside…well, well. Really.

It seems the refrigerator actually insulated the stuff inside from the worst of the chill. The food is still frozen, but normal frozen. It’s below zero degrees in here, after all.

Ah, well, there are lots of frozen shards of glass; as expected of young tourists, always keeping booze around .Needless to say, the refrigerator no longer works. I bet nothing works anymore.

Well, defrosting will be a hassle, but it’s doable. On the plus side, the storage life of perishables won’t be an issue in this weather.

As for the stuff in the cabinet—ah, the hinge. The cold did its job on the metal, and now the cabinet door lies by my feet. Of course, everything is sheathed in frost—sheesh, I can’t take those things with my bare fingers.

Some rudimentary hand wraps later, I can reach for—aaah, the energy bars feel like metal ingots. Can I just warm them back to chewable?

Should I try?
- Yes
- No
There’s also stuff besides my own; the supplies purchased by the other guests of this hostel. Everything is frozen solid, but most if not all this stuff should be recoverable if defrosted. Now that’s quite the if, though.

The next question is water. I immediately look at the freestanding dispenser at the corner—nope. The big plastic bottle just couldn’t take the deep freeze. No luck there.

Hmm, is all this ice around me safe to drink if melted? Uuuh, I don’t feel like testing that, but I hafta do something—

Wait.

This ice was likely created by magic. Magic is the problem, then perhaps magic could be the solution?

Let’s say I melt some of this ice. If there’s some weird, dangerous magic in it, can’t I just, dunno filter it out? That sounds like alchemy. But it’s not like magic is a physical thing I can remove with a sieve or a distillation sequence. That means looking beyond the Terrestrial framework…in that case, would it be more feasible to perform the filtering post-ingestion? As a foundation, the Black Sun. Yes, that might work.

An interesting challenge worth thinking about. Hell, my life may be at stake if I don’t solve this problem.

Casa Hostal Volante is your current Base.

Food: Optimal (actual value is Critical until safely defrosted)
Water: Superb (actual value is Critical until rendered drinkable)
Warmth: Poor
Defense: Poor
***** *****

Urriola Street is frozen—an adjective I’ll be using more and more often, it seems. Like so many of Valparaiso’s streets, it is made of cobblestone and sloped along its entire length. Uphill or towards the coast…is not a choice I need to make this time.

The walls of the buildings…the paint, it has flaked off? Did the paint layers freeze before the chill got to the bricks, and cracked off? That’s insane. Power lines have snapped off their posts but lie inert on the frost-covered street. Everything, everything is encased in frost and ice.

Even the people.

A mother struggling to push a baby trolley uphill.

A man in overalls stretching the hand holding to key to open the door of his delivery van.

A backpacker stepping out of a nearby restaurant while unfolding a map.

A pitiful, emaciated indigent seated against a wall with hand outstretched holding a cup with a few meager coins.

Like the people in the hostel, they are all entombed in cocoon-like blocks of ice, trapped and encased almost instantaneously, looks of alarm the only reaction allowed them before becoming unmoving prisoners.

Magic…my magic is nothing compared to this. How can something like this even happen?

I shudder. Thinking about this will lead me nowhere. I don’t know anything yet. That’s why…

Right across the street from the hostel begins the Apollo Passage: a big name for a plain staircase, wide enough for exactly three people side by side. The pedestrian walkway to one of Valparaiso’s forty-something hills from the southeastern side.

Looks like I’ll walk up Cerro Alegre today after all—

The abrupt, yet slow-building sound (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18069W2TbUI) halts my heartbeat for an instant.

The homeless man, he has broken out—no, rather, the ice around him broke on its own. Instinct pulls me two steps towards the man before I halt.

Stillness. Stiffness. A layer of frost. An impossible, unnatural pallor. Skin and bone.

That poor man cannot be anything but dead.

My heart is still beating painfully fast. That was…that was too much after getting used to no other sound but the wind and my own labored breathing. My heart is complaining, pumping as if I had just finished a 10K run. Now the warmth of the magic running throughout my body feels a little too much. At the same time, it’s a reminder: I can’t just keep the magic switch on forever.

I…am more nervous and skittish than I was aware of. Calm down, Javier Lucero. That’s energy wasted.

I close my eyes for a second, and the cold caresses my eyelids as if encouraging them to stay down forever. Come on, it’s not that cold. I’ve camped out in colder days in Norway. It’s definitely not cold enough to create this frozen landscape. I’m just underdressed.

A deep breath. Let my heart rate drop to an active, but not frantic pace. Good. Let’s try this again.

I open my eyes, and I catch the heartbreaking sight of the homeless man, already more of a living corpse before the freeze; his pitiable life finally snuffed out.

This…this may be happening everywhere in this city. All these frozen people will eventually…

My heart is constricted. This is too brutal. This is too unfair. These people didn’t deserve—

…stop it. Stop it already. I’m wasting my time.

I’m sorry. I’m not a religious man but, in respect to the very religious man that once saved me, I can at least offer a prayer for you.


***** *****

https://i.imgur.com/06zE9b4.jpg
Source: Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PALACIO_BABURIZZA.JPG) (edited with Adobe Photoshop).

On the eastern most edge of Cerro Alegre (Happy Hill) stands Barburizza Palace, also Valparaiso’s Museum of Fine Arts. It takes its name from its last private owner, one Pascual Barburizza of Yugoslavian ancestry, who not only remodeled the palace into its current form, but the surrounding promenade as well. It is in his honor that the easternmost edge of Happy Hill is known as the Yugoslavian Promenade.

Normally, the promenade would offer locals and tourists alike a privileged view of the nearby port and Sotomayor Square, and of the popular beaches all the way to the neighboring city of Viña del Mar. It is my favorite place to watch the city’s fantastic New Year’s fireworks show.

It is hard to remember the beauty of this city right now. Snow, ice and frost have covered everything, as far as the eye can see. The city is frozen, the sea is frozen, and the sky…the sky is a drab grey. The city’s colorful walls, the joy and the pride of the Valpos, have been washed away by the dire cold as if to humiliate them.

Valparaiso has truly become a frozen hell.

https://i.imgur.com/aBIOvBT.jpg
Source: Image from a DJI Phantom 4 drone, by ThinLineMedia (https://www.instagram.com/jevdrops/) (Edited with Adobe Photoshop).But this trip was not an entire waste of time and precious body heat. There are some things worth noting.

First, both the general freezing and the people-encasing phenomena are generalized. There are people in ice blocks here in the promenade. The nearby square just down the hill is dotted with the things. It looks like every single person in Valparaiso was trapped in an ice tomb.

Which brings the question: why not me?

Again, there was nothing magical in the blankets that kept me somewhat warm in the hostel dormitory…well, nothing I could tell at a glance.

And then there is the glow. Well, there are two of them.

The first and stronger one comes from further uphill in the southwest direction, away from the sea. No, not just uphill; at the very top of the hills outlining Valparaiso. A blue-gold radiance that ascends like tongues of flame leaping out of a massive bonfire.

There is nothing even remotely natural about that light, and it screams important. But it’s a long and arduous walk there; one I’m not ready to challenge right now.

The second light is a veil-like aurora, stretching throughout the horizon, as if marking the boundary of this messed-up world of ice.

Ideas fills my head: places to check, things to try, people to find. But I have to keep myself in order. First, I have to ensure my own survival. Only then I can think of anything else. I need food and water. There are both at the hostel. There is no point in something like raiding a supermarket just yet; everything will be frozen everywhere. I have to make sure I can eat what I have before I worry about getting more.

Let’s go back “home”.


***** *****


Even in any other circumstance, it would have been impossible not to notice. To a degree, I guess that is a fortunate thing.

It stands—no, it moves slowly, shambling rather than walking, stumbling his way up the Apollo Passage while I was on my way down.

At long last, I see another person. But…


https://i.imgur.com/BUjNFJU.jpg
Source: © AP (edited with Adobe Photoshop)

It’s a zombie.

It’s a fucking zombie.

I cannot perceive any smell; or rather, the cold renders my nose useless. It barely makes any sound, even if its open mouth reveals teeth already rotting in life. It is the mere bizarreness of its very existence that roots my feet to the ground.

Something incongruous. Something that defies my understanding of “what is normal”. Something whose mockery of humanity threatens my very own.

The true fear of the zombie, the thing so many Hollywood movies fail to grasp, is made explicit here, in this slippery stairway. That the zombie is utterly inhuman, yet one can relate to it. Of course something like this could make the sternest man shudder in fear…!

After all, this zombie…this zombie…!

Six or so meters away, I can finally hear a sound. Its jaw tightens, and its facial muscles stretch into a grin, even as its frozen cheeks literally crack apart. The strain seems to be too much for its jaw and it dislocates, its brutally open mouth becoming a loose maw.

It’s a zombie, an unliving creature, but there is malice in its eyes!

This thing…this zombie, is no longer that indigent whose ice tomb shattered. It’s a thing that preys on humanity!

Health: Stable
Sustenance: Poor
Warmth: Stable
Stamina: Poor


Magic circuits activated.

How to deal with the walking corpse?


Fight. This is an abomination that cannot be allowed to stand.


Beat it up with my fists and kicks of fury.

Beat it up with my magic-enhanced fists and kicks of fury.

Turn it into ashes with the always-reliable fireball.

Write-in.



Try to rush past its side and run all the way to the hostel.

Run back upstairs to the Yugoslavian Promenade and try to lose it there.

Write-in

Rafflesiac
June 4th, 2018, 09:09 PM
1C and pray for drops

- - - Updated - - -

Looks like an important thing will be finding the right people to thaw, assuming we can. It'd suck to have to face a Zombie Lord of Astrology or something.

Also Yes, defrost the Clif Bar.

34
June 4th, 2018, 10:31 PM
Try to defrost the bar

---

1C
Fireballs always work

SleepMode
June 4th, 2018, 11:04 PM
[A wild Gjenganger appeared! What will you do?]

>1C

---

And yes, Defrost the Energy Bar.

Spartacus
June 5th, 2018, 03:27 AM
1C

Bird of Hermes
June 5th, 2018, 08:42 AM
1C - Fireballs always work

Warm up the bar, we gotta eat something after all.

SpoonyViking
June 5th, 2018, 11:34 AM
Defrost the bar.
1C.

Xaodzilla
June 5th, 2018, 04:29 PM
1C) I mean, whatever works.
Defrost the bar) Eating is slightly important, and we don't want to keep going on an empty stomach.

Daneel Rush
June 8th, 2018, 07:54 PM
Apollo Passage
Day ?
????? Phase – 04
Cold (-12 °C/10 °F)

https://i.imgur.com/C6Ns8oL.png?1
Health: Stable
Sustenance: Poor
Warmth: Stable
Stamina: Poor

- Magic circuits activated.“Fire is divinity.”

When facing an aggressive wild animal in its natural habitat, fighting back would be the worst possible advice. Compared to most such beasts, the human body is weak and breaks easily.

“Fire is the source, the foundation, and the container of all energies.”

But this…thing in front of me, is no beast. It is no predator. I am not the best judge of people, but its small eyes and twisted, broken tell me that it wants my death.

“Fire is sevenfold.”

This is not a movie zombie hungry for brains. It merely kills.

“Fire is life. Ergo, prana.”

I feel its warmth, gathered around my raised left hand. My magical energy, my life, has ignited and become flame. It is not yet manifested physically, but it already exists. Magic is weird like that.

But the zombie does not attack. It does not close the distance to lunge at me.

The zombie stopped its ascent at some point.

Did it mirror my action? Did it stop in response to my chant? Was it merely a coincidence?

It is not particularly looking at my hand, so this is not some absurd, magic-sensing undead. But taking into account all these weird circumstances, let’s assume the worst case scenario and act accordingly. No matter what, the fact remains that I shouldn’t let this monster get too close.

There is a weird sound in the distance. Or rather, a sound my brain doesn’t want to understand.

I slowly raise my right leg. When the knee is about the same level as my navel, I quickly drop it back down, planting the sole of the foot and pushing my weight onto it. It is like the throwing motion of a baseball pitcher, and the blaze manifests in my hand right before I release the fastball—

It dodged!

With the speed of a martial artist, it jerked its body to the side and dodged the fireball. Now it rushes upstairs—this zombie’s speed is in no way inferior to a living human’s—, but I had planned for this possibility.

My body is already leaning forward from the throw motion; I just have to bend my knees and jerk my body aside to throw myself down as it lunges. I can hear myself wince as its nails scratch my back, but now I can turn to face his back even as I roughly slide down the slippery stairs. It is a dangerous position as I am sliding down head first, but the point is that I can get him with another fireball before he turns around—

“Shit, shit, shit!” No time to gape in disbelief, this is seriously fucking bad!

It dodged! The fucking thing took a step to the side right before the fireball could’ve struck its back!

It’s like it has eyes on the back of its head.

I don’t think; I just roll all the while tumbling down the stairs. My right wrist complains when I use it to push myself back to my feet. My brain still ignores the distant sound; priorities, Javier. Have a sense of priorities.

Anyway, I can’t fire a third fireball right away, so I gotta put some distance—

My vision goes blurry for an instant. Dizziness assaults me and my stomach grumbles for the nth time. Shit, I really was running on fumes until I defrosted that power bar. Good thing I thought of turning on the Athanor when I did that.

Atanor
In English, Athanor. One of Javier Lucero’s original spells, inspired by H. P. Blavatsky’s aspectual division of the alchemical discipline. To move beyond the “basic”, Terrestrial Alchemy, the magus theosophist turns their own body into an alchemical furnace. While the process of alchemical digestion is supposed to be slow and carefully controlled, Javier turned the idea upside down, reducing the spell to a “mere” enhancement of the digestive and metabolic processes of his body. Madam Blavatsky would probably smack him for his gall.

While this spell is in effect, Javier can digest anything that is remotely edible without fear of poisoning, and the extraction of nutrients and absorption into the bloodstream and body tissues takes minutes rather than hours—the effects of any Prepare Meals Action are received on the same Phase, rather than on the next Phase as normal.

Quest Master's Note: Don't think too much about that last sentence. The rules will be explained when necessary, not earlier.But it’s obvious I can’t go crazy on the magic until I eat a proper meal. Two more fireballs, tops.

I am lucky to not slip on my rush down the stairs, and I make it back to Urriola Street on my feet. The hostel is right across—


https://i.imgur.com/RCyfbL9.jpg
Source: Gene Page/AMC | Inquirer Entertainment (Edited with Adobe Photoshop).

“Fuck!”

I don’t even know what I’m cursing at: the two new zombies walking up the street, or the growing sound that I sure as hell can no longer ignore.

“Who the fuck is firing a fucking machine gun!?”

Things are quickly escalating. So, what to do now?


Run into the hostel and fight a protracted battle there.
Run uphill along Urriola Street, away from the zombies…but towards the unknown gunfire.
Turn back and either take down or run past the zombie in the stairway. Make it to the Promenade and away from everything.
Break through the new zombies by any means necessary and run downhill towards the port.
Write-in.

You
June 8th, 2018, 08:59 PM
oh cool
so how much do we need to level up until we can eat and metabolize concepts

- - - Updated - - -

also i'm actively reading this but that seriously every choice seems geez louise its going to kill javier so voting is hard

Rafflesiac
June 8th, 2018, 09:09 PM
5. Eat the zombi- No. No, that's a joke. Please don't eat the zombies.

2. Run uphill along Urriola Street, away from the zombies…but towards the unknown gunfire.

Xaodzilla
June 8th, 2018, 11:05 PM
2. Run uphill along Urriola Street, away from the zombies…but towards the unknown gunfire.

Even if the gunfire isn't friendly, it might help as some cover.

Bird of Hermes
June 9th, 2018, 05:21 AM
None of these seem ideal but... choice number 2 seems the least likely to get us killed. Maybe.

2. Run uphill along Urriola Street, away from the zombies…but towards the unknown gunfire.

SpoonyViking
June 9th, 2018, 06:47 AM
Yeah, I'll go with number 2 as well.

SleepMode
June 9th, 2018, 02:14 PM
​#2

Daneel Rush
June 12th, 2018, 05:59 PM
Urriola Street (In front of Casa Volante Hostel)
Day ?
????? Phase – 05
Cold (-13 °C/8.6 °F)

https://i.imgur.com/C6Ns8oL.png?1
Health: Stable
Sustenance: Poor
Warmth: Stable
Stamina: Poor
- Magic circuits activated.(BGM (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOE708XUIvI))

My head darts from one place to another in two seconds. From the undead that slipped and slowly stands up, to the pair of dead women clambering up the sloped street, to the single open direction, and the irregular staccato of automatic gunfire—rather, it’s more than one gun, isn’t it?

So, it’s a matter of the danger in front of me versus the unknown danger uphill…but the fact remains that I can’t take on three of these things on low fuel, especially if those two can dodge as well as the one on the stairs.

I’m running. It’s the choice that ensures I live a few seconds longer, 100%.

Calling it “running” is an understatement, though. The street is made of cobblestone, and it is wet and slippery in this hellish weather. Fortunately, the undead are clumsier than I, so I can confidently put some distance between us. Unfortunately, it’s all two-story buildings from the hostel to the crossing with Alvaro Besa; it’s all straight ahead, with nowhere else to run.

Valparaiso has some seriously long street blocks.

When I reach the Y-crossing in question, I instinctively stop. Alvaro Besa is to the right; if I go on that direction, it’s just the stupid long route to the Yugoslavian Promenade. To the left is the continuation of Urriola; the gunfire comes from that direction, as irregular but unceasing as before.

The Promenade…what if those zombies are actually smart enough to take the shorter route up the Apollo Stairway and ambush me?

It sounds ridiculous, but I’d rather put some more distance. Let’s keep going ahead.

The slope grows gradually steeper, along with the effort in my breathing. Normally, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but I feel the weakness of overexertion and hunger; a single “energy bar” from the supermarket does not fill an empty stomach nor supply the necessary calories. It feels like my body is burning from the inside out—a reminder that the only thing that keeps hypothermia at bay is my activated magic power. I have to assume night will come at some point; I don’t think I want to be out here when that happens.

All in all, the situation is actually pretty shitty.

Ah, there. Some ten meters ahead, there’s finally a crossing with another street—

Holy crap! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwcsNrQ3Ug4)

When did they get so close!?

Ignoring the frantic beating of my heart, I look to both sides of the street before darting to the house to my left, the only one with the door at the same level with the sidewalk.

One kick, two kicks—

A smashing sound stops my third kick, and I don’t even have the time to mentally kick myself for bothering to look behind me…and above?

There’s someone there. My heart stops for a moment.

The figure, half-kneeling on the rooftop of the building across the street, launches herself upwards in a superhuman leap. She is even more lightly dressed than I am, but it clearly does not seem to hamper her acrobatic agility.

Our eyes meet.

https://i.imgur.com/LP3zzWh.png

“…Maria?”

Her eyes widen in recognition…a moment before she crashes through the window of the building right next to where I stand.

“Aw, fucking shit!”

Yup, that’s Maria’s voice alright. I guess window-crashing was not part of the plan; sorry for distracting you in mid-jump.

And that’s when I hear the many footsteps just around the corner, and I remember I was kicking this house’s front door. Well I screwed up.


https://i.imgur.com/Wrhu9qn.jpg?1

What.

Seriously, what.

I know what’s happening here: my mind is focusing on the sheer absurdity of the whole thing because the alternative is to come into terms with the fact that those…soldiers are indeed standing right there at the end of the block, staring at me and packing some serious guns.

The corners of my lips are twitching into a smile even as my legs are trembling. Ah, see, they’re raising their guns to aim at me. In slow motion, even.

Oh crap, I’m gonna laugh. This is too absurd. I’m gonna die laughing while fucking Nazi commandos tear me apart with automatic gunfire.

Should’ve tried my luck with the zombies.



……

………

“No, you don’t! (https://youtu.be/TQUsnto_3pw?t=145)”

Again, the sound of a window breaking.

Why didn’t she just use the window she had already—oh whatever.

Seemingly acknowledging her as the greater threat, the soldiers raise their guns past me and further upwards.

Her weapon is a sword; an inelegant thing with pointlessly irregular edges, almost ornamental in its impracticality. Yet she swings it, and even I from a distance can feel the currents of chilling air parted by the slash. The soldiers, standing much closer as they were, are blown away like a house of cards in front of a fan.

I feel a bout of dizziness, and my hand reaches for the nearest wall for support. My head is spinning, but that’s not quite…

The soldiers, too, are fast to recover, using inertia to roll backwards and standing in a single fluid motion despite their bulky body armor.

But she’s already landed in that time, and she’s even faster.

No.

She is too fast.

Superhuman strength is followed by superhuman speed, and a single slice separates a soldier from his arms. A moment later she is in their midst, slicing and dicing with abandon, with ease that brings into question why she was fleeing from them before I found her.

There are no screams.

No sound escapes the wounded, but those who can still wield their firearms jump back and away from the dervish, seemingly discarding their wounded allies as they heartlessly open fire. But, again, the girl is faster, launching herself like a rocket, straight upwards, while those she had wounded are torn apart by their own companions.

This time she did not leap to a nearby rooftop. In the moment of stillness of the jump’s highest point, she raises her sword over her head, and the blade glows in a myriad dazzling colors. Is it light, or is it magical energy concentrated to a point it is visible to the naked eye? Whatever it is, it exacerbates my dizziness and makes my knees weak.

No.

It’s more than that.

My magic…my magic is trickling away.

“Get fucking lost!”

She shouts, and I don’t get to see what happens next. There’s just light that swallows everything, and a thunderous explosion that blows my body together with my consciousness.

“Aw crud, I overdid it!”

Oh, for fuck’s sake, Maria.


***** *****


(BGM (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOE708XUIvI))

When I open my eyes…ah, this is familiar.

I can’t stop myself from tightening my muscles and curling like a kitten. I’m back in the cocoon of blankets and sleeping bags, and it’s just too comfy in here. Aaah, how nice~

Then my stomach grumbles and brings me back to the real world.

I can still hear the chilling wind dancing in the room. I was never in denial, but it’s still somewhat disheartening to know what awaits me outside of this warmth.

But I can’t stay here forever. After all that walking and running, I’m very thirsty and my throat is dry. Zombies or nazis or whatever, I need sustenance.

I guess Maria brought me back here. With those absurd powers…really, what’s the deal with that?

What…kind of world have I been thrown into?

I’m out of the cocoon and shivering on the spot. Goddammit, gotta do something about the broken windows. There are probably tools around, but what to close those holes with? An issue for later.

Everything’s exactly where it was last time. My things are also still here. There are no frozen zombies roaming the street, though.

I’m so tired…what time is it, anyway?

My steps take me naturally to the common area; if I’m gonna try to feed myself, it’s the place to go—

This place is a mess! What the hell!? What’s this kitchen catastrophe!? Did the soldiers open fire in here? Did the zombies try to cook in here!? Why does that pot have a hole in the bottom!? How can that cupboard be on fire in this weather!?

And who do you think you are, seated so coolly in the midst of this mess!?


58346859
Haa…calm down, Javier Lucero. You’re low on fuel; reacting to everything is just a waste right now. Just…calm down.

Alright. Focus on the idiot sitting there like she’s a big shot.

“So,” I say. “What are you?”

https://i.imgur.com/lQeupdV.png

“Those are your first words? I guess I’ve been bound to a terrible Master.”

The girl in black gives an exaggerated shrug.

“Maybe I’m the most unlucky of all,” she adds.

…let it be stated right now.

This girl, Maria Westinghouse, is an idiot.

“Are you trying to act cool, Maria?”

Her faux-mocking expression switches to something annoying bright as she pulls back her hood and facemask in an instant.

“Is it working?”

“You told me you’re nineteen. Be an adult, Maria.”

“Pooh! I dun wanna be an adult like youuu!”

https://i.imgur.com/4cBrG8b.png

I walk past the grown-up child in overly unsuitable attire, towards what I assume is the result of this whole…disaster. The pot—not the one with the hole; another, bigger one—exudes warm vapor, and I can feel the heat of the soup as I stand in front of it.

“This…actually smells pretty good.”

“I can cook, ya know,” said the pouty girl. “It’s just, none of the appliances work so I had to make up for it with magecraft…it’s the first time I use it for something like this, and I’m still getting used to handling so much…it’s B rank, ya know? B rank!”

It became incomprehensible at some point, but she did use a certain word.

She said “magecraft”.

“So, you really are—”

“Aaah, but to think Javier was a magus!” continues the girl, washing over my attempt at leading the conversation. “Mah, that turned out to be helpful, so lucky me I gue—ooh? So maybe I’m not the unluckiest after all!”

https://i.imgur.com/GGll0Er.png

It’s like the floodgates are opened.

“Ahaha, this is the first time. Like, ‘surprise magus!’, or something. I wonder if this happens to other magi.”

What.

“Hey, hey, did you go to the Clock Tower? I didn’t go myself, so I’m kinda curious. How is it? Studying there, I mean. Is it sorta like Hogwarts?”

What.

“Naah, that doesn’t sound like the Mage’s Association grandma told me about. So, edgy Hogwarts? Isn’t that Durmstrang?”

What.

“No way, no way, Potterverse magic is way too ridiculous anyway, right? Ahaha…haha…haa…”

Something in my face seems to put an end to Maria’s rambling, as her eager smile changes into a grimace that doesn’t suit her youthful face.

“You…don’t understand a word I’m saying, do you?”

I shake my head.

A moment later, she is standing on the far corner of the common area, with her back to me and her hands clutching her head.

“Aw fuck, I just shattered the Masquerade! Grandma’s gonna kill me!”

I can hear you, you know.

“Wait, does that mean I hafta kill him?”

Please don’t kill me. Also, you left your sword over here.

“No, wait, he’s my—and if I think about it, this whole mess kind of bent over the Masquerade and fucked it in the ass, so I didn’t really mess up!”

You’re the one who’s messed up. Wait, are you acting like an umpire?

“Alright! Saaaafe!”

No, no, out. You’re totally out.

Seemingly having calmed down, the girl finally turns to face me properly again. Oh, a normal smile. That’s good I guess.

“So, um…”

So now you’re acting coy?

I point at the soup.

“We can talk as we eat.”

She winces upon realizing she had missed the obvious. But she is quick to compose herself, or rather, she has no shame.

“Right-o!”

“But first put that fire off,” I add, pointing at the cupboard.

“Ah…right, ahaha…”

You may ask up to three questions to Maria during your meal.



About “magecraft” and “magi” in general.
About her ridiculous powers.
About the frozen city.
About the zombies and the soldiers.
About the people trapped in ice.
About food and water supplies.
Write-in.

Rafflesiac
June 12th, 2018, 07:13 PM
3, 4, 5

Bird of Hermes
June 13th, 2018, 02:52 AM
1 - It'll boost our own knowledge and abilities3 - For obvious reasons6 - We're still in the survival genre so this is important

34
June 13th, 2018, 05:33 AM
3, 4, 6

SpoonyViking
June 13th, 2018, 09:00 AM
1, 2, 4

Shiki
June 13th, 2018, 10:35 AM
3, 4 ,6

SleepMode
June 13th, 2018, 11:39 AM
#1, 3 & 6

Draconic
June 13th, 2018, 03:00 PM
Chaos Ruler Maria. This is gonna be WHACKED!

3, 4, 5

Xaodzilla
June 14th, 2018, 05:28 PM
2, 3, 4

You
June 14th, 2018, 05:51 PM
3,4,6

Daneel Rush
June 18th, 2018, 10:41 PM
Casa Volante Hostel
Day ?
????? Phase – 06
Cold (-13 °C/8.6 °F)

https://i.imgur.com/C6Ns8oL.png?1https://i.imgur.com/R39G78K.png
Health: Stable
Sustenance: Poor
Warmth: Stable
Stamina: Poor

(BGM (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjYIjWAvOMo))

“So? What’s going on?” I ask the obvious, most immediate question, all the while the delicious warmth of the soup spreads from my mouth throughout my body.

“Hmm, who knows.”

Well, how’s that for a start.

“Wha—don’t look at me like that! What do I look like to you, the answer woman? I’m not fucking Merlin, I don’t know what I don’t know.”

She does have a point, but it still sounds kinda pathetic when she says it.

“I mean, I had a hunch something would happen, but who the hell could predict something like this? I mean, just look at the scale of this shit! How do you even pull this…ah, well, I guess the likes of a Servant could…”

At some point she began talking to herself. It doesn’t take her long to remember she is not alone, fortunately.

“Ah! Well, um, just to make things clear, I have no idea what’s going on, but I can swear I didn’t do it.”

“No problem. I’ve already figured no have neither the skill nor the will to pull off something like this.”

“Uwah, subtle sarcastic insult. When was the last time you had a girlfriend, Javier?”

Oof, low blow.

“Anyway, I guess you can tell the situation is pretty bad,” she continues. “It’s at least bad enough for the Counter Force to get involved.”

“There’s another new term.”

“Aah, Counter Force, huh…” She scratches her head for some reason. It is clear in her expression, however, that she’s rarely in the position of one who explains things. “Hmm, well, to put it simply, it’s kind of an immune system for the Human Order?”

That…kind of makes some sense, and kind of really, really doesn’t. At all.

“Aaah, um, let’s look at it this way: there’s a ‘way the world works’. The ‘common sense’, or ‘the laws of nature’ as defined by human perception and rationality.”

“Wait, wait, are we going into universal anthropocentrism here?”

This is starting to sound like the kind of talks I’d have on the evenings with Father Scherer. If anything, I learned from that weird priest all the philosophy I dozed through during high school.

“Um, no, not quite. I mean, it’s not that the universe is anthropocentric. It’s that Man, by standing above nature, has imposed an anthropocentric ‘system’ upon the World.”

“So you’re saying the laws of nature aren’t really universal.”

“They’re universal within the common rationality of man.”

Well now that explains everything.

“But we’re really digressing here.”

I…guess. It’s not like the complete overhaul of my understanding of the world is of any relevance to the matter at hand.

“The Counter Force…is a part of the ‘system’ governing the World, as defined by the current Human Order. You could say it’s the World’s survival instinct, constantly acting to ensure its own perpetuation.”

“And now you’re asking to give human attributes to an abstract…something.”

“Why not?” She shrugs. “It originates from man in the first place.”

It kinda sucks when she acts like she knows more than I do. Which she does, but that’s beside the point.

“So…this Counter Force, you say it has intervened. What does that even mean?”

“It means that what’s happening here is a significant threat to the Human Order,” explains Maria while patting her chest for some reason. “It makes sense if you look at me; the agent of the Counter Force could not manifest on its own precisely because this place has been isolated from the Human Order, so it had to improvise by possessing a suitable vessel.”

“Okay, I didn’t get that.”

“Figured as much,” admits the smiling girl. “So here’s the summary for dummies.”

Hey.

“Whatever’s happening in here, it’s really bad, so a ‘system’ called the Counter Force sent an ‘agent’ to deal with it. But the agent could not make it in here on its own, so it snuck in by possessing someone who was already inside.”

She shoves her thumb on her chest armor—really, stop drawing my gaze to your boobs.

“Right now, the ‘agent’ and ‘Maria Westinghouse’ are effectively one and the same. I already had a reason to investigate this situation, but now I have the power to actually stop it.”

“…huh,” is my reply. “So? Why haven’t you?”

“Uwaah. So Javier’s the type who doesn’t vote but complains about politicians all the time.”

What the hell kind of association is that? Rather, that was an insult, right?

https://i.imgur.com/4cBrG8b.png

“Well, mister demanding, if you really wanna know, I was taking care of you. You’re supplying me with magical energy, so I kinda need you alive.”

Wait.

“You’re the reason I passed out just now.”

“Eeeeh…”

She’s looking away. And making weird hand gestures like some overexcited marketer.

“Weeell, I wouldn’t have had to pump out more energy to save you if you hadn’t pushed yourself and gone outside. So, if we look at the whole, wide picture, it would be fair to say it’s your—”

“Be quiet, parasite.”

“Ugah! Zero gratitude!” She exclaims while recoiling as if she had taken physical blows. She’s such a kid.

“Well…so, you need my magical energy to use those powers—ah, I guess those powers come from this ’agent’ person.”

Maria nods. Now she looks like a small animal. Why are you acting like I’m going to hit you? Do I look like that kind…maybe I should stop there.

“And I guess you’re using those powers to put an end to this mess.”

She nods again.

“That…um, at least that’s the plan.”

My turn to nod.

“Well, that shouldn’t be a problem…it shouldn’t, right?” Now I’m not so sure. “I mean, you’re not gonna suck me to death or something, right?”

“Javier, that’s sexual harassment.”

Oh, why the fuck I even worry about you.

“Says the one wearing a chainmail bikini.”

“It’s chainmail shorts, you slanderer you—aah, my soup!”

See, that’s what you get for slamming the table like that.

“More importantly, Maria—”

“Why do those words make me feel rejected for some reason…?”

“Now that you brought it up: how long was I unconscious?”

“Ah.”

Instead of answering right away, she goes at the soup with gusto. Just like the chili con carne, she abandons all pretense of manners for the sake of fulfillment as fast as humanly possible. It’s just a little bit gross.

It really shows the difference between men and women in human mentality: if she were a guy, I’d probably think it’s disgusting as fuck.

“A bit over 24 hours,” Maria quietly replies. She’s looking away, like she’s not sure what to do or say next. “There’s no way to tell the exact time, but it’s afternoon right now.”

“And speaking of that,” she then says, jumping off her seat. “You’re eating warm soup and all, but you’re still freezing in here. Let’s go back to the room and get you wrapped up. We can keep talking there.”


*** ***


(BGM (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goPsnTrQvmU))

It’s a bit silly, but it is indeed very comfortable, this little bunker of blankets. Wrapped in a sleeping bag like a big caterpillar, I looked at Maria calmly seated on the other bunkbed in the room.

“The cold really doesn’t affect you, huh.”

“Hmm, yeah, I guess. I mean, it does feel cold, but it doesn’t really bother me. I mean, it’s nothing like that initial wave.”

She doesn’t need my cue.

“You were with me. You saw that sun that did not belong, and you felt the first blast of extreme cold. The temperature dropped rapidly to an absurd degree. Like, that probably was below minus three hundred or something.”

Minus three hundred…ah, right. Fahrenheit. She’s American alright.

“That’s why everything froze almost immediately. Then the temperature went back up just as quickly, but it’s stayed below freezing point. I survived thanks to Saver, and you…”

Hey.

What’s with the dramatic pause.

Why are you blushing like that.

Stop blushing like that.

“…I did my best.”

“What does that even mean.”

“I did my best,” she repeats, looking down at her clenched fist with unusual seriousness.

Why are you pumping your fist? Explain the pumping!

“I haven’t found other survivors, but I haven’t really looked that far…or that thoroughly,” she then declares. “I didn’t want to move around too much while you were still unconscious. Everyone is frozen like that, and…”

“When the ice breaks they rise as zombies.”

“Um.”

A heavy silence ensues.

Of course, magic or powers or whatever, neither of us is really used to death on this scale…or undeath, for that matter. I have to admit, the moment I realized my life was threatened, I forgot the monster I was attacking was just a homeless man in life. Humans do get used to anything, but, do I really want to accept that?

What can we do, though? Even if we can somehow take them out of the ice and bring them back to health, we’d still have to take care of them. Food and water are not as readily available, and the environment has become too hostile. We can’t just go and help everyone, so how do we decide who to help?

“I can run away from them easy, so I didn’t bother fighting them,” says Maria. “But that square on the other side of that hill across the street. The big square, with the statue.”

“Sotomayor?”

“Uh, maybe. Anyway, it was plagued with zombies when I was nearby. Maybe it’s a hint?”

Zombies? What I saw from the promenade was a lot of people encased in ice, which made sense: Sotomayor Square is a major public spot; there’s always plenty of people there. Does she mean all those ice blocks broke already? Isn’t that the worst?

“That…if there’s so many of them, then we’re not safe here.”

“You are not safe here,” Maria felt like she had to clarify. “But really, if the people of this city are being turned into zombies, then nowhere is safe. Before you ask, my bounded fields are the basic of the—aw man, you don’t know ‘bounded fields’. Forget I said anything.”

I’ll get over it. More importantly…

“An attack from behind, hmm?” Maria muses upon my narration of the short encounter with the zombie hobo. “Well, if you think in terms of mystery, there’s a bunch of ways it could pull that off, but until shown otherwise I’d go with the obvious one: there was a second pair of eyes that saw your attack and could direct the zombie to evade it.”

Well, yes, in a situation like that, before thinking of occult things like precognition or a mysterious sense, you’d assume the ‘trick’ was simply a second person. Is it really that simple in this case?

And there’s also…

“The soldiers? They’re Nazis, no?” Maria says placidly all the while admiring her weird-ass sword.

“Nazis, huh…”

“Yup. Nazis.”

“Right, right…”

…wait.

“Nonononono. Why’re we just accepting this like it’s normal?”

Maria shrugs while performing some halfhearted stretches on the bed.

“This is a Singularity, isolated from the Foundation of the Human Order. I don’t think there’s such a thing as ‘normal’ in here.”

“Oh, spare me the magibabble, Maria. Those were Nazis.”

“Yeah, I think we’ve already come to an agreement on that.”

“Why are there Nazis, Maria!?”

“Weeell, if I remember my history correctly, Nazism started in 1919 as the German Workers’ Party. But if we really want to look for the origins of National Socialism, we have to go further back to the rise of Voelkisch nationalism and Arianism in the 19th century—”

“Don’t make me go over there, Maria.”

“What, you can’t hear me? I can move closer—”

“The soldiers, Maria. Explain the soldiers.”

“Ahahaha, I kinda like how you say my name.”

This giiirrrl!

The way-too-easygoing girl pulls her left knee up, so she can rest her hands and head on it.

“Well, it’s not like they’re reaaally Nazis. They aren’t real people. Aah, I was so relieved; I mean, I was such a rack of nerves when I cut down the first one…”

“Maria.”

“Ah, right, right.” She doesn’t look apologetic at all, the brat. “You didn’t see it, what with the fainting and all, but they aren’t made of flesh and blood. I’d say they’re some sort of etheric construct, but you wouldn’t get that, so I won’t bother.”

Fucking cheeky brat. https://i.imgur.com/dZSfLew.png.

“Then again,” she continued, her facial muscles easing down into a neutral expression. “I’m far from an expert. Really, I’m not even a magus, I’ve just got a bunch of knowledge conveniently dumped in my head courtesy of the Counter Force.”

“Whatever. It still doesn’t explain why they are Nazis.”

I say that, but I know otherwise. There is a completely obvious explanation, I just don’t want to admit it.

“Isn’t it obviously because Nazis are behind this whole mess?”

Aaaarrrgh.

Yes, yes, where else can my head belong right now, other than buried in my palms?

“Ugh, so we’re really in the plot of a B-movie.”

“I’d go with third-rate fanfiction myself.”


*** ***


Maria at some point ended up on my bed.

Of course, I’m comfortably wrapped in my mound of warm softness, while she’s just sprawled across the bed’s width.

“I just thought about it.”

Maria dazedly turns her head my way. Wait, are you falling asleep?

“How did you even make soup?”

A frown.

“I’m sure you already know how to make soup.”

“That’s not what I—water. How did you get water?”

“Ah. I first thought I could find a spare bottle for the dispenser, but the cold broke the plastic, so that was no good.”

I can tell. She’s purposely delaying.

“So I just melted and boiled some of the snow and ice lying everywhere.”

Maybe I am underestimating this girl. Maybe not.

“I think my stomach hurts a bit…”

“That’s your mind being a pussy.”

Damn. If a woman says that to me, how am I supposed to respond?

“You sure it’s safe?”

“It’s the ice blocks trapping the people that’re weird. Everything else’s just normal frozen water. And you don’t look like you’re dying to me.”

Do you really have to go so far as to use the word “dying”? You sure are bad at reassuring people; not that I can claim the opposite about myself.

“Fair enough. How about food?”

“There’s still soup—well, I guess it’s frozen by now, but we can eat the rest of it later. Aside from that…I’d say we’ve got food for about two more days. More if we ration it, but you’re my battery and I’m the brawn, so I’d rather have us at top condition whenever possible.”

We stay here, in silence, for a while. There is no other sound but the chilling breeze. Occasionally, I hear the dire sound of breaking ice. But we remain here, as if trying to disconnect ourselves from this frozen hell. As if we were characters in an MMO and we wanted our players to log out.

Or maybe I’m just too comfortable in here.

“So? What now?” Wait, she’s the one asking me?

“Wait, aren’t you the one with some mysterious ‘agent’ giving you powers and shit? Go out there and fix things.”

Oh, so she can actually make a perfectly flat expression.

“Yeah, sure, I’ll just go out there and rampage until you’re out of magical energy and die, or some random zombie, soldier or Servant finds you and kills you. Fun times for everyone.”

There was an extra thing right after soldier, wasn’t there?

“I don’t know how much I can push you when you’re at full tank, so I’m taking it easy for now,” she declares before looking away. “I’m not being lazy. I want to put an end to this more than anyone.”

She says something else, but it comes out so quietly it eludes my ears. Looks like I touched a sensitive spot I was not aware of. For once, she actually sounds irritated.

And now I can’t stop myself from wondering.

Hey, me of ten years ago: in this situation, what would you have done? Would you have cared? In the first place, would you have allowed this girl to get this close? No, in the first place, I still barely know this person; it just so happens we’re the only ones in this mess as far as we know. Does that count as closeness?

I’m normally not one to think this hard about things like this. Rather, I gave up thinking about it. People—well, most people—are irrelevant. I have met meets a myriad other people throughout my life, but how many of those truly register in the mind? The countless faces on the street are immediately forgotten. So is the person I happened to chat with for a while in the doctor’s waiting room or the cashier line at the supermarket. The many sailors I’ve worked and lived with at sea; just how much did I get to know them in the end? The women I’ve been intimate with; one-night stands, never to meet each other again.

People are merely faces. Merely impressions. People are nothing but what they want to project to the world. It’s all superficial, so it’s worthless to think about it. Stick to that, Javier Lucero.

She needs my magical energy to end this. I need her power to outlive this.

Work with that, Javier Lucero. As you’ve always done.

“Well then, let’s think of our next move.”

There’s plenty to consider beyond “figuring out how to end this”: looking for other unfrozen people, securing this building and readying it as a base of operations, acquiring more suitable clothes for moving around in the chilly outdoors, and who knows how many other things.

I have made it on my own for almost ten years. I can think of it as a preparation for this. If anything, now I have a powerful tool at my disposal, and I don’t stop myself from looking at it, just as it looks at me pushing myself out of my comfy mound with doubtful eyes.

And powerful and rather fit tool, now that I look at it properly. Not a trace of fat on that stomach. You have my respect, Maria Westinghouse.

The light of the sun is dispersed by the carpet of grey clouds, so it is hard to tell the time, but I can tell it is getting darker. Evening approaches. Normally, it would be the time to ease down and rest for the new day.

But our challenge is just starting. Resting will have to wait a bit longer.

“Alright, my suggestion,” Maria suddenly declares as she too pushes her torso off the bed. “Well, more like a question.”

“I’m listening.”

“The sewage system must be frozen too, so, um, where you gonna go to take a dump? I need to know, ‘coz I don’t wanna be anywhere near there, like, ever.”

…oh, for fuck’s sake, Maria.



END OF AFTERNOON PHASE


*** ***


Warning!



This is a Save Point. It replaces the previous Save Point.

If your quest reaches a Dead End, you may choose to resume it from this point.

*** ***





Fimbulwinter is an Adventure quest, with some influence from the Survival genre. However, given the circumstances of the setting, attrition from lack of food or water should rarely be a critical issue for our heroes.
Each “in-quest” day consists of five Phases: Morning, Midday, Afternoon, Evening, and Night.
Quest players get to decide on Javier’s and Maria’s Actions during the Morning, Afternoon, and Evening Phases through voting, as detailed below. If they have other allied NPCs in their Base, the players can also decide on those NPC’s Actions.
At the end of each Phase, the players will vote on Javier’s and Maria’s Actions to take in the next Phase, following the rules outlined below.
Javier and Maria can take either an Exploration Action or a Management Action on each Phase, or they may choose to Rest. Note that Javier’s and Maria’s actions are allotted separately, even if they are physically together. In other words, even if the two are, for example, traveling together to the same location, this counts as the available action for that Phase for the two of them.
In an Exploration Action, the character (Javier or Maria) leaves the relative safety of their Base to brave the perils of the frozen city, for whatever reason: exploring a certain area, looking for other survivors, meeting with distant allies, challenging enemy Servants, etcetera.

To do this, quest players will vote on the location to be visited by the character, among the locations unlocked in the Singularity Map.


A Management Action is one intended to further Javier and his allies’ survival in the frozen city. Examples of Management Actions are presented here, but they are not limited to these options—writing in a different course of action is still an option, within the boundaries of QM fiat.

Forage: The character leaves the base explicitly in search of necessary things like food, tools, materials, etcetera. It is especially important to ensure ready availability of water at Base. Do keep in mind that every Exploration Action is to a degree also a Forage Action—even if they leave Base with a different purpose in mind, our heroes are mindful enough to keep an eye for valuable resources wherever they go.
Prepare Meals: The character, which must be at Base to use this Action, prepares meals for everybody currently at the Base, if there is enough food and water. The Food and Water level of the Base will define the resulting Sustenance levels of those partaking of the meal. There is not a separate “Eat Meal” Action. It will be assumed that, when a Prepare Meals Action is taken, all allies at Base partake of the meal.
Repair: The character performs repair work on the Base, aiming to improve either the Warmth or Fortification level of the Base.
Change Base: When Javier performs this Management Action, the previous Base is abandoned, and his current location becomes the new Base. All allied characters (including Maria) must then take Change Base Actions to move into the new Base.
Instruction: The character studies magecraft or teaches magecraft to another character also taking the Instruction Management Action (as a student).


When a character is set to Rest, they rest at their current location for the entire Phase’s duration. This is an important choice for the restoration of Health and Stamina. Unless the players’ choices trigger a different outcome, all allied NPCs always take the Rest Action in every Night Phase.




Our Protagonist, Javier Lucero, has four status parameters of note, described further below.
Each status is attributed a value or level in the Status Scale: Critical – Poor – Stable – Good – Optimal – Superb.
Javier’s status parameters are updated at the beginning of each scene (story post).

Health is Javier’s overall physical and mental integrity—his hit points, in videogame terms. Health dropping below Critical would result in Javier’s death.
Sustenance represents the degree of food and water intake Javier has taken. Sustenance is updated on the Phase following a Prepare Meals Action from which Javier benefits. It is a critical status in that it acts as a hard, intrinsic limit on Javier’s physical and mental performance.
Warmth indicates how well Javier is currently protected from the harsh cold of the frozen Valparaiso. It is a critical status in that it acts as an external limitation to Javier’s physical and metal performance.
Stamina is an assessment of Javier’s current physical capabilities. Stamina also includes Javier’s capability for casting spells—his MP, if using videogame vernacular. Javier’s Stamina value can never be higher than his current Sustenance value without supernatural means.





Javier can claim a specific location as his Base. A Base also has four status parameters:
Food is the Base’s stock of edible sustenance. It determines the effectiveness of Prepare Meals Actions performed at the Base. If the Base’s Food status is insufficient to feed every person at Base, a vote must be performed to prioritize the rationing of the remaining food.
Water is the Base’s immediate access to the vital liquid. It determines the effectiveness of Prepare Meals Actions performed at the Base, and the restoration of Health through Rest Actions. Insufficient consumption of water every day has an immediate effect on a character’s Health and Stamina.
Warmth represents the Base’s degree of protection against the elements. It replaces a character’s Warmth status while at Base, if higher. Keep in mind that no amount of warm clothes will protect you for long in the middle of a blizzard, and that is not the worse Fimbulwinter will throw at you.
Defense represents the Base’s fortification level against physical assault. Of course, walls may stop bullets and blows, but only mystery can protect against mystery.


Opening Post is also updated with this information.


*** ***


DAY 1 – EVENING PHASE SETUP

Health: Stable
Sustenance: Stable
Warmth: Stable
Stamina: Stable

Food: Good
Water: Optimal
Warmth: Poor
Defense: Poorhttps://i.imgur.com/7vCAo33.jpgJavier’s Evening Action (Remember, only one Action per Phase!):


Exploration Action

Port: Look for survivors among the port’s hardy people.
Sotomayor Square: Check on that hint about a zombie infestation in the city’s biggest square.
Unimarc: Go back to the nearby supermarket and mall to loot collect valuable resources, and hopefully find more suitable clothes for this hellish cold. No, I’m not secretly hoping to see that maid again.
Yugoslavian Promenade: Return to a higher spot to scout the surroundings. Also, I’m worried about Father Scherer. I’d like to find a safe route to the church uphill.


Management Action

Forage
Prepare Meals
Repair
Instruction
Write-in


Rest


Maria’s Evening Action (Remember, only one Action per Phase!):


Exploration Action

Port: Didn’t stop by there while Javier was out of business. Might as well check now.
Sotomayor Square: If I have to kick zombie butt, then zombie butt shall be kicked.
Unimarc: I don’t feel I need much food now that I’m half-Servant, but it’s easier to think and be awesome on a full stomach. And we can’t have his flat ass freezing on me now, so let’s find him some clothes. What’s his size again?
Yugoslavian Promenade: I’d like to have control a high, vantage point. Also, there’s something I wanna check out over there.


Management Action

Forage
Prepare Meals
Repair
Instruction
Write-in


Rest

Rafflesiac
June 18th, 2018, 11:06 PM
J: Repair windows
M: Raid Unimarc

SleepMode
June 18th, 2018, 11:21 PM
Javier:

Management Action - Repair

We may be staying in the hostel for the moment, so it's best to reinforce the place to make it warmer and slightly more livable.

Maria:

Exploration Action - Unimarc

In order to keep our supplies up, best to familiarize ourselves with the market in order to maintain the stream of food.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbXS3t4h8-o

We going Frostpunk bby

Bird of Hermes
June 19th, 2018, 08:38 AM
J: Repair windows
M: Raid Unimarc
Same here.

Shiki
June 19th, 2018, 08:49 AM
Javier - Repair (warmth security)

Maria - Yugoslavian Promenade (better to scout things for a while, info is needed)

SpoonyViking
June 19th, 2018, 11:47 AM
Hmmm... It would be much more sensible to secure the base first, but I want to know more about Father Scherer. I'd say both Javier and Maria should Explore the Promenade.

Daneel Rush
June 24th, 2018, 03:16 PM
Casa Volante Hostel
Day 01
Evening Phase – 01
Cold (-13 °C/8.6 °F)

https://i.imgur.com/C6Ns8oL.png?1

Health: Stable
Sustenance: Stable
Warmth: Stable
Stamina: Stable

Food: Good
Water: Optimal
Warmth: Poor
Defense: PoorI really wish I could complain, but I guess that would be petty of me.

Everything I do feels so sluggish in this cold, but it’s hard to be quick when shambling around covered in thick blankets like some shitty attempt at a ghost. The first thing I do is slowly, painstakingly pick up all of Maria’s belongings, which she haphazardly dumped on the floor to take the empty bag with herself. The point is to raid the portside mall and supermarket for food and more appropriate clothing for the two of us. Her “Counter Force” powers or whatever seem to give her superb resistance to this unholy chill, but it is not complete immunity. Her body is still that of a human.

For such a, well, ebullient young woman, her luggage is actually quite simple and sedate. I may even call it pragmatic. Then again, just what was I expecting? Silk pajamas and lace? She said she’s been backpacking for almost a year, so she’s gotta know what she’s doing by now.

Picking up Maria’s things and depositing them in the lockers takes far more time than it would have in any semblance of normal circumstances. Weather is truly a fearsome enemy—ah.


https://i.imgur.com/Qh4MeN8.jpg
Source: CCD Creative Commons (https://pixabay.com/en/snowfall-winter-snow-snowflakes-201496/)

It’s snowing. Thus far it was just ice everywhere and that insufferable wind, but now actual snow is falling from the sky, and it feels like the wind is picking up a little.

That does it. I gotta do something about the windows.

Broken by the onset of this frozen hell, the chilling breeze rushes in unimpeded. There’s no difference between lurking in here or exposing myself out there—if anything, the wind gains speed in these small spaces and narrow corridors. I have to change this situation, at the very least in this bedroom and in the kitchen and dining areas, where Maria and I will spend most, if not all of our time in here.

I’m pretty sure there are tools downstairs. The real issue are nails and the actual thing to cover the windows with. That’s how I end up lying on the bed, pondering the available options.

Plastic degrades in subzero temperatures, so garbage bags are out of the question. Cardboard can handle the cold better, but we’re at in a coastal city, so there will be constant wind and even snow like right now. Hell, the wind would just tear plastic and cardboard off whatever I use to hold it in place.

Unable to stay in place, I shift my weight on the bed to the side, and it creaks as if in agreement with my frustration.

Wood would be the most realistic option, but it’s not like I will find wooden planks lying around in a hostel…



…huh.


*** ***

https://i.imgur.com/dZSfLew.png
Nueva Estación Puerto
Severe Cold (-16 °C/3 °F)
Snowfall (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaSvFeV06Gc)

Ignorance is bliss.

So they say, but right about now, another person’s ignorance is pissing off one Maria Westinghouse.

“What the fuck, Javier!? There aren’t any clothes here!” shouts the pseudo-Servant while pulling her hair.

Indeed, the small shopping mall standing between the city port and the main coastal thoroughfare, Errázuriz Avenue, shines for its lack of large clothing shops.

“Aaah, fuck you Subway! Your sandwiches suck!”

Maria’s opinions in no way reflect those of the Quest Master.

With an empty camper’s backpack on tow, Maria walks to and fro across the small structure, confirming over and over that, indeed, she has not missed what was in fact never there. Her feet step on shards of frozen glass—the vast structure of the harbor shopping mall, framed in glass instead of concrete or brick from the second level upwards, has of course collapsed upon the advent of this supernatural winter. The mall looks like a skinned animal, its innards exposed to both sight and the elements.

“Aah, so many electronics shops, so many mobile accessories…so much useless crap.”

Maria Westinghouse, in spite of her last name, is not particularly adept at technology. A mobile phone was a thing to make phone calls with. She was just getting used to sending text messages when she was told she could surf the web on her phone. She had not taken a mobile phone with her on her long trip; she not want her family hounding her wherever she went, or maybe she just liked holding a paper map in her hands.

“And who the hell comes to a shopping mall for dental care—ooh, chocolate shop!”

And thus, Javier is promptly forgiven. Setting aside the appropriateness of a chocolate store within reach of a dental care office, the blissfully uncaring young woman sets aside her immediate objectives to add a new item to her raiding list.

“Unhealthy amounts of brick-hard chocolate” added to the inventory.

“Uuh, this stupid place keeps reminding me that I suck at energy transfer,” grumbles the girl to nobody but herself as she examines an unfathomably hard rectangle of 60% cocoa. “Um, can I reimagine it as flow of molecular movement? Ugh, it feels wrong somehow, using thermodynamics to form the image of a spell.”

She pauses for a moment.

“Speaking of that, I’d like some rope.”

In the end, she relies on A-rank (teeth) strength.

“So good~” squeals the girl as she but skips her way across the mall one last time. “But it’s way too hard. But it’s so good~”

Chocolate aside, the lack of a suitable store means her first objective ended in failure. That worries her. She has already noticed the snowfall, and closer that she was to the sea, she can also clearly feel the strengthening wind. Night is approaching, and she intuits that the temperature is going to drop, fast. She can somehow manage as a Servant, but she honestly worries for Javier, and hopes he can at least do something about the broken windows.

“Well, no point dwelling on it if I can’t do a thing about it,” she concludes, being the kind of girl who keeps her sight on the road ahead.

Fortunately, there is no doubt about there being a supermarket. The ingredients for the previous day’s delicious chili con carne came from that place, after all. After dropping back to ground level and checking the streets nearby for anything moving—or rather, the lack thereof—, she steps into Unimarc to look for anything she can stuff in her empty backpack.

The one convenient thing about this unnatural winter is that all foodstuffs are frozen, so they won’t go bad. Anything is rendered unusable solely because the packaging cannot withstand the cold and breaks, either spilling or damaging its contents. Thus, all things stored in plastic or glass containers are lost. Metals fare a little better, unless they were directly exposed to the initial pulse of extreme chill that converted Valparaiso into a frozen hell. With that in mind, Maria was aiming not for the food on the aisles, but for the stock held out of shoppers’ sights—

It takes her three steps to notice, and she only notices because accepting a Counter Guardian within herself boosted her base physical stats.

There is somebody else in this place. Somebody well hidden.

Her brain received a lot of information upon being possessed. She understands the concepts regarding Heroic Spirits, Servants, and the qualitative assessment of their abilities. She knows there is such a thing as an “Assassin-class Servant”, with the Skill “Presence Concealment”.

Maria quickly dismisses that knowledge. If this were in fact that Skill in effect, she would not be aware of a presence in the first place. If this were a Servant, it would register in her mind as an unmistakable “mark of mystery”.

She is just dealing with a mortal particularly skilled at skulking around.

So, what to do here? Should she just announce that she comes in peace? Who’d take that seriously? Right now, she looks like a creepy cosplayer with an unholy resistance to cold. There is no need to dispute the food; even if there were, she was the top dog in this building. Maria Westinghouse is a person who would rather get along with everyone, but can she one-sidedly make contact with this stranger?

No, even before that issue, why is this person not entombed in ice?

She walks slowly, and mentally kicks herself for that; her caution all but revealed she had noticed the other’s presence. Nevertheless, her objective has not changed, so she makes for the back of the supermarket—

The crashing sound from behind most definitely does not startle her. Her first reaction is to turn around and face the source, but she stops before actually doing so. This is perhaps the cue of the one Maria has offered her body to.

Someone has toppled down a shelf. That was not an act of clumsiness.

Maria then understands: this someone wishes her to turn her attention to themselves.

No, that’s not it.

This someone does not want Maria to go to the back of the store.

It is only with this awareness that Maria turns back. Indeed, there is a fallen shelf, but no sign of the one responsible—

“Shit…” Her escaped breath utters that word, which the chill transmutes into a cloud of condensed vapor.

She can see it, a small shape just across the street. A second later, she catches a second, and then a third one. One after the other, they shamble out of the narrow streets past Errázuriz.

It’s strange.

It’s too strange.

She had checked the vicinity. There was nothing nearby. Where did they come—no, how did they arrive so quickly?

When it snows, it pours.

Maria’s Choice of Action:



Find and confront the hidden person.
Keep an eye on the objective: fill that backpack.
Maria has nothing to fear from the undead. Go and deal with them quickly.
Write-in.

SpoonyViking
June 24th, 2018, 03:31 PM
1.

Rafflesiac
June 24th, 2018, 03:50 PM
“Aaah, fuck you Subway! Your sandwiches suck!”

Maria’s opinions in no way reflect those of the Quest Master.
That's a relief. I was worried that the quest master had shit taste for a moment.

Also 1.

Spartacus
June 24th, 2018, 04:19 PM
1

Bird of Hermes
June 24th, 2018, 04:58 PM
1).

My guess it's either Ricardo Scherer, (Church figures always provide something in the Fate series) Assassin (presence concealment was suggested) or a New enemy NPC (as the First boss/opposing master) or Seigi Nomikata making a 5 second cameo. Also Maria has strong opinions on Subway.

Draconic
June 24th, 2018, 07:36 PM
1. Find and confront the hidden person.
(Do we not get an action for Javier, or should we just assume that he's about to start disassembling beds?)

Anyway, those zombies can't hurt Maria as she is now, so there's no point bothering with them. We can let them come to her on their own time. We however, have to find this hiding spook.

- - - Updated - - -


“Aaah, fuck you Subway! Your sandwiches suck!”

Maria’s opinions in no way reflect those of the Quest Master.
I have to admit, I laughed out loud.



“And who the hell comes to a shopping mall for dental care—ooh, chocolate shop!”

And thus, Javier is promptly forgiven. Setting aside the appropriateness of a chocolate store within reach of a dental care office, the blissfully uncaring young woman sets aside her immediate objectives to add a new item to her raiding list.

“Unhealthy amounts of brick-hard chocolate” added to the inventory.
This whole section was hysterical.



“Uuh, this stupid place keeps reminding me that I suck at energy transfer,”
I can't be the only person thinking this, so I'm just gonna ask: Is she grumbling about thinking she's not good in bed?



That's a relief. I was worried that the quest master had shit taste for a moment.


…Also Maria has strong opinions on Subway.
I'm sorry to say that I share those opinions with her…

SleepMode
June 24th, 2018, 11:36 PM
1

Shiki
June 25th, 2018, 09:14 AM
1

You
June 25th, 2018, 07:18 PM
1 but also confront Maria about Subway and the realities of its former spokesperson
and then ask if she's watched the south park episode

Draconic
June 27th, 2018, 01:20 PM
^Seconded just for the humor value, not because I believe in it.

Daneel Rush
June 28th, 2018, 05:51 PM
Casa Volante Hostel
Day 01
Evening Phase – 02
Severe Cold (-18 °C/-0.5 °F)
Snowfall

https://i.imgur.com/C6Ns8oL.png?1


Health: Stable
Sustenance: Stable
Warmth: Poor
Stamina: Stable

Food: Good
Water: Optimal
Warmth: Poor
Defense: PoorIt’s getting colder. I can tell it’s getting colder, probably because I’m standing in front of the window, trying my darnedest to use a hammer with stiff, aching and (mostly) freezing hands. This is not good for a person’s health.

It’s not like I mind the job—I’ve done plenty of chores like this in the past ten years. But the wind stings the skin and pulls away my body’s warmth. The blankets that somewhat protect my body cannot afford the same protection to the laboring hands.

There are plenty of planks in the hostel’s many beds. There are barely enough nails to block the wind from rushing into this room. Hell, I’d use more nails if I had more available.

In any case, this will take me way longer that it would in ordinary, temperate weather, but it will help make this room a bit more survivable.

Until the hole that is the window frame is completely sealed, I will be pelted with snow as I struggle to hammer. The howl of the wind smothers the sound of my hammer, or so I hope; it would be annoying if my work attracted those zombies. But the snow itself may be even more dangerous, as it clings to my body it will bring down my body temperature, like wearing a wet t-shirt. I’ll have to change clothes after this, and I might have to consider switching on the magic again—

It’s like a scene out of some picturesque indie movie, or maybe The Twilight Zone.

In the midst of the frozen street, surrounded by frost, snow and ice, a girl walks alone. What would be an utterly ordinary event in an ordinary world becomes the epitome of absurdity precisely because of its normalcy. A plain girl, walking uphill along the street in plain clothes, unmindful of wind and snow. To be honest, the combination of white t-shirt, black jacket and baggy pants are the kind of stuff I’d wear. In a normal situation I’d even admire the sight and nod approvingly.

The girl walks past the hostel building, but then suddenly stops. She turns back and looks up.

At me.

My breath is taken away.

https://i.imgur.com/x6H8HwW.png

Her face…

She nods curtly, respectfully even, before turning back to the road and going on her way.

Hey.

Heyheyheyhey, hey!

Are you just gonna nod at me like meeting some random stranger on the street?

You can’t just pretend everything’s fine and dandy and go on your merry way, whoever you are!

As if mocking me, the world responds with a particularly strong gale that makes my bones shudder, further announcing that the snowfall is growing stronger.

Fuck you, winter.

What will Javier do?



Go after her!
I’m in the middle of something. Also, it’s kind of fucking cold out there.
Write-in (consider also supplementing the other choices with further detail)



*** ***


https://i.imgur.com/dZSfLew.png

Unimarc Puerto
Severe Cold (-18 °C/-0.5 °F)
Snowfall (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaSvFeV06Gc)

Maria Westinghouse is not an idiot.

She just does not like thinking much about things.

Her grandmother understood this, and in her lucid moments mocked her relentlessly for it.

Ignoring the mirthful voice in her head asking her how many walls she had run into that day, Maria followed her straightforward heart yet another time in her short life.

“Unlimited…poweeerrr!”

Maria Westinghouse is not an idiot.

But she is a proud and eager fool.

Showing off her superhuman athleticism, the girl jumps to the top of the nearest shelf from a standing position. From her new vantage position, she immediately catches sight of her target, and goes for it without hesitation while calling upon her long, jagged blade. The figure—a male in a trench coat, she notes—also notices her abrupt assault and does his absolute best to sneak away, but Maria has both the superior specs and the higher ground, jumping from shelf to shelf.

Less than ten seconds later, she stabs the tip of her sword in the wall, an inch from the man’s ear.

“Look, let’s not make this harder on us, okay? Just tell me what the deal is before you get swarmed by the undead.”

The man’s look of alarm disappears quickly, but Maria can tell it is being replaced by a cold resignation.

“Tch, you got me,” he says, his voice deep and cold like a tomb. “Just get it over with.”

“Eh? Nah, nah, why would I kill ya? Can’t speak for the zombies, tho’.”

“Won’t kill me?” The man oozes distrust. “Aren’t you one of them? The Nazi—”

The blade stabbing the wall sinks almost to the hilt when Maria kicks the pommel, startling the man and dispelling his cold aloofness. One leg still raised to rest on the sword’s hilt, she leans closer to the suddenly tense and wary male.

“Alright, a piece of advice: don’t make that misunderstanding ever again.”

The man is clearly at least fifteen years her elder, but he has stepped on the tiger’s tail.

“I fucking loathe Nazis.”

The sound of footsteps on broken shards of glass draws Maria’s attention to look from the corner of her eye. Her attention split this way, she only notices the man reaching into his coat when the dark luster of painted metal glints from his direction.

It is superhuman reflexes that save Maria Westinghouse.

The gunshot rings painfully in her head, even as she manages to move out of the way of the bullet. Her body acts, and right after that she perceives, thinks, and reprocesses the sudden change in the situation. Her eyes glance between the man already rolling aside before jumping to his feet, and the pair of undead already rushing in her direction. His right hand holds a small gun that elicits conflicting thoughts in her mind.


https://i.imgur.com/cwu9sO3.jpg?2
Source: Artwork by まつ (https://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?mode=medium&illust_id=60982038)

“Fuck! Are you trying to pull every zombie—”

He flings a small, cylindrical object over his shoulder, and she had watched enough movies to recognize a—

“Flashban—!?”

Her eyes are flooded with light, and for a few moments she could not hear her own cursing. She could not see or hear anything, and the next thing she feels is a heavy impact on her left side that sends her tumbling to the floor.

“Aah, fuck off!”

Maria only knows she has grabbed something and sent it flying. She quickly leaps back to her feet and relies on memory to find and reclaim her sword. It is at that point that her sight and hearing return, in less than half the time it would take an ordinary human.

Of course, the man is gone by this point. She could see the sway of the back door, snitching the man’s escape route. Maria concludes that he is either very confident about his chance to get away, or there is something extremely important in the back of the supermarket that he must safeguard at all costs.

The second zombie lunges, and Maria bitchslaps it away without even sparing it a glance. Four more zombies advance, already less than ten yards away.

At this point, Maria could insist on going after the man. If anything, it is sheer curiosity pushing her in that direction. But then there’s that sound. A new sound, one that only entered her audible range after the effect of the flashbang was brushed away by her superhuman sturdiness.

It is not a familiar sound, for she has only heard it in Youtube videos and military documentaries. But Maria Westinghouse would never mistake that sound for anything else.

Zombies are pushed and flung aside as Maria steps out of the supermarket into Valparaiso’s main avenue. She does notice that most of them purposely avoid her, aiming for the open door at the far end of the aisles. She cares little. Curiosity, empathy, worry or solidarity do not exist in her at this moment.

The snowfall, she notices, has grown stronger. The sky promised an honest-to-God blizzard in the near future. But Maria right now does not feel the cold. The one and only important thing approaches from her left, still about sixty or so yards away.


https://i.imgur.com/Wrhu9qn.jpg?1

https://i.imgur.com/qUFpFKH.jpg?1

The soldiers and their machineguns are annoying, but relatively easy to deal with.

The Panther? The Panther is a joke.

No, the only thing in Maria’s sights at the moment is the man in uniform standing atop the tank. With arms crossed and a cool stare, he projects calm, unpreoccupied confidence, like his current situation is just another day at the job. The red, white and black armband is an unsettling oasis of color in the cold monotony of the frozen city.

But his expression and his uniform are secondary to the unique signature his mere presence leaves on the world. Maria can feel it in her guts, and the sensation spreads to her accelerating heart, her tensing muscles and her incensed eyes.

This man is a Servant.


https://i.imgur.com/HYAUhTl.jpg?2
Source: Artwork by Sbraithwaite (https://www.deviantart.com/sbraithwaite/art/Super-Soldier-Nazi-General-422748431)

The zombies that were about to close in on the supermarket skulk away and back into the narrow streets past Errázuriz Avenue, seemingly aware enough not to get caught in the potential crossfire. The few zombies that remained inside the supermarket were no longer her business.

https://i.imgur.com/iqw60R6.png

“Get closer!” calls out the girl, resting her sword on her right shoulder. “I wanna hit you with my sword!”

The man says not a word. With a gesture of the hand, the masked soldiers deploy along the sidewalks, perhaps aiming for an encirclement.

Danger! Servant Battle!
VS Unknown

Maria is about to engage a Servant in battle. Unlike Javier, whose action in case of combat are handled in a manner identical to all other choices, Servant-versus-Servant battles involving our female protagonist are handled a little bit differently.

Servant battle scenes are divided in Exchanges, each corresponding to a written scene. Quest players get to decide Maria’s general tactics in every Exchange, from three possible choices:



Buster: Full offense relying on overwhelming physical might, with little regard for defense or actual tactics. Just hit the enemy hard until it drops.
Arts: Careful, tactical combat, prioritizing a solid defense while seeking tactical breakthroughs—either a gap in the enemy’s defense, or an environmental advantage.
Quick: Rapid offense relying on speed and precision—provides better defense than Buster, but offensive potential is comparatively inferior. Quick combat seeks to force the enemy to make mistakes and overextend, creating the opportunity to deal a critical hit.


The effectiveness of each tactics depends of course of the Servant’s own preference, the battle’s own circumstances, and any feasible external factors. There is also the obvious fourth option, but Maria’s Noble Phantasms are currently sealed.

The golden rule of this system is very simple: You cannot pick the same tactic twice in a row in the same battle.With all that said, how will Maria start this engagement?



Buster: Unlimited! POWEEERRR!
Arts: Let’s try to be smart for a change. I have no idea what this guy can do. Also, the soldiers.
Quick: Let’s try to surprise him. No way in hell this chump is faster than me. Also, the soldiers.


Quest Master’s Cheeky Breeki Note: If Maria were an FGO character, her attack deck would be BBBAQ, with a Buster NP. Nobody is surprised by this.

Rafflesiac
June 28th, 2018, 06:40 PM
Ordinarily I'd say Javier should go after the girl, but if Maria drains his battery while he's out and about he's more than toast. 3 - Shout and wave to get her attention. Even if it doesn't work at least we tried and can get back to fortifications.

but more importantly NAZI SERVANT NAZI ZOMBIES

I get the feeling Himmbbels here is a QAABB here, so let's go with Q for now.

Spartacus
June 28th, 2018, 06:53 PM
NAZI MEME SERVANT I don't expect

I go with Q also, so he didn't assume our true talent on brute forcing things with our natural triple B, then we can gather those crit stars for surprise Buster in the face next turn.

Javier: chase her

You
June 28th, 2018, 06:59 PM
chase girl
https://res.cloudinary.com/teepublic/image/private/s--8wl_IGDs--/t_Resized%20Artwork/c_crop,x_10,y_10/c_fit,w_470/c_crop,g_north_west,h_626,w_470,x_0,y_0/g_north_west,u_upload:v1462829022:production:blank s:beqtwr2j6utublaobvi0,x_-395,y_-325/b_rgb:eeeeee/c_limit,f_jpg,h_630,q_90,w_630/v1523113496/production/designs/2567438_0.jpg
Because no one starts with a Q until its QQQ

SpoonyViking
June 28th, 2018, 08:01 PM
I say we stay in-character:

Javier - Go after girl
Maria - Buster

Shiki
June 29th, 2018, 09:24 AM
Javier - go after the girl (go for harem route)
Maria - Quick

Draconic
June 29th, 2018, 04:29 PM
Javier:
3. Go after the girl, but only so far as the next few blocks: If she gets too far away from the hostel, it would be smarter to retreat and go back to fixing the window.
3. Lure her back with visual promises of food (go to the next room and hold the pot of soup on top of the windowsill).

Maria:
https://i.imgur.com/HUvdewS.png
https://i.imgur.com/DCNRPpa.pnghttps://i.imgur.com/QC3uC9Q.pnghttps://i.imgur.com/EJy7Oyl.pnghttps://i.imgur.com/EJy7Oyl.pnghttps://i.imgur.com/EJy7Oyl.png


https://i.imgur.com/LYP5r10.pnghttps://i.imgur.com/HUvdewS.pnghttps://i.imgur.com/546mOfW.pnghttps://i.imgur.com/546mOfW.pnghttps://i.imgur.com/546mOfW.png
Apologies for the poor quality.

Djeeta image sources are from

https://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?mode=medium&illust_id=64686917
and
https://twitter.com/emoshon_emotion/status/768818477293445120
(Do we not have the option to flee and go after the guy who hates Nazis?)

Bird of Hermes
June 29th, 2018, 04:38 PM
Javier:
Going after her in the growing cold without backup is bad. The fact that Maria is only gonna drain mana is worse. On the other hand ignoring her and focusing on building, although good now, may bite our boy in the ass later.

3 - Shout and wave to get her attention. Even if it doesn't work at least we tried and can get back to fortifications.

Maria:
Now while my experience tells me that NPBB Brave Chains never fail, we're outnumbered. Time to plan:

Q is worthless at the beginning of the chain unless it's QQQ, I'll go with Arts as defence is needed at the moment, once we get that break through we can waste him with a Buster Brave Chain.






Quest Master’s Cheeky Breeki Note: If Maria were an FGO character, her attack deck would be BBBAQ, with a Buster NP. Nobody is surprised by this.
Maria has never been more valid.

Draconic
June 29th, 2018, 04:42 PM
Changing my 3.
3. Lure her back with visual promises of food (go to the next room and hold the pot of soup on top of the windowsill).

Rafflesiac
June 29th, 2018, 06:53 PM
I like that 3 Bird, I'll second it

SleepMode
June 30th, 2018, 12:01 AM
Javier: Hermes’ 3. We need to secure warmth, but we can’t just leave the girl outside.

Maria: Arts. Play smart for now, then do the smashy when we’re confident on Reinhard(?)’s playstytle.

Daneel Rush
July 2nd, 2018, 07:34 PM
(Do we not have the option to flee and go after the guy who hates Nazis?)No, you don't.

Think carefully about what that implies.

But seriously, it's like you guys purposely go for the most difficult choices, without outright going for the Bad End. I just can't take it easy, can I. Anyway, here's what you get. Welcome to Hard Mode, damn it.Casa Volante Hostel
Day 01
Evening Phase – 03
Severe Cold (-18 °C/-0.5 °F)
Snowfall

https://i.imgur.com/C6Ns8oL.png?1

Health: Stable
Sustenance: Stable
Warmth: Poor
Stamina: Stable

Food: Good
Water: Optimal
Warmth: Poor
Defense: PoorRight, like hell I can just let that girl go.

I hurry downstairs, my muscles aching at exerting themselves in this insufferable cold. The difference between the partly-covered dorm room and the wider common area is obvious, especially with the front door completely blown open. Even if I fix the bedroom, the common area will remain exposed unless I do something about the front entrance. Nevertheless, it’s flung open right now, so I just dash outside—

Holy fuck it’s ungodly cold!

The hostel building is like a cave, and the passage connecting that front entrance to the street is a tunnel leading the onrushing wind inside this cave.

Ah, whatever! Magic, on!

Huh. That was easier than usual. Maybe it's got to do with the cold already feeling like it's burning my skin.

Magic circuits activated.

Health: Stable
Sustenance: Stable
Warmth: Poor --> Stable
Stamina: StableIn any case, this is a little better. Still cold, but it won’t kill me, I hope. Now, gotta hurry to the main street and catch up to—

Ah.

What…the hell.

​61461361

She is right there.

She is right there!

At the end of the passage, with her back to the main street. She is standing right there!

What the—

Aw, crap. I misunderstood.

She was not walking away. She was making her way to the entrance.

Her nod was not a greeting. She was nodding to herself upon making a decision.

It’s too late now. She’s taken the first step.

My heart, it hurts.

It’s pumping so hard it hurts.

Second step.

What the hell.

My face, it hurts.

Tears and snot freeze on my skin.

The thick blanket I was wearing like a mantle is blown away, as my arms hang limply to the sides.

Third step.

What the hell.

I feel…this feels…like I’m already dead.

https://i.imgur.com/kk5FFFX.png

Aaah, what do I do.

She’s gonna kill me.

Move. Move. Move! Run! Anywhere!

https://i.imgur.com/kk5FFFX.png

Aah.

I see.

My body already understands.

Running would be pointless.

And now she stands three steps away, and I fall to my knees.

There’s not even a fight. There was never a chance of survival.

What the hell, me? Wasn’t it obvious from the beginning? That she is not human?

I screwed up. Just because she was not a zombie or a Nazi soldier, just because she was a girl, I thought it would be safe—

Aah, Maria.

Maria, stay away from this thing.

She looks down at me. Aah, so this is a true monster. Devoid of arrogance, lacking in conceit. She does not mock my weakness or my tears. She cares not for the feelings of her prey.

And now, she reaches for her bag. For the instrument of my end.

Her weapon of choice…


https://i.imgur.com/FIdYDq0.jpg

…huh?

“Prepare this for me, human.”

…huuuh?



*** ***

I’m too old for this shit.

No. Rather, there is not a suitable age for any decent human being to deal with this shit.

I’m sweating. Fuck, this is only going to make me feel colder. I’m trembling, and for once this ungodly weather has nothing to do with it.

Nevertheless, here I am: standing in front of a frozen kitchen, to cook meat. New York cut, to be precise, definitely looted from some local supermarket. Good stuff.

I have no choice in the matter. The monster sits at the dining table. Her eyes are daggers stabbing my back with impatience.

What the hell’s with this situation!?

What the hell’s with this unbelievable pressure!?

Good God, how could I think this was just some girl for even a moment? How could I not feel this from the beginning? She’s like, some, insane clump of living, walking magical power.

This must be what it feels like to be chased by a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Or having to disarm a bomb in one minute.

Fuck. This is bad. I mean, there’s food here, but it’s not like I bought spices. Maria didn’t add spices to the soup for a reason. Do we have anything to prepare meat with?

Aah, clear your head, Javier Lucero!

…hmm. A little better. Push the fear back. Focus on what’s in front of you.

I check the drawers—the doors quickly gather frost, so it’s a struggle to open them each time—and take stock of exactly what we have aside from what I bought what it feels like ages ago.

…I can work with this. I’ve worked with less.

No matter what, I have to prepare a meal for this gi—this thing, whose name I don’t even know. Do monsters even have names?

Ah, whatever. Let’s just do this. My very life depends on my cooking skills.

Could be a lot worse, if you ask me.

Javier has been suddenly thrown into the ultimate challenge! Make your choice, and make it carefully.

How will he prepare the meat?


Well-done
Medium-rare

Rare

Just serve it raw as it is.

Throw it at her face and run away.


Accompaniments?


Soup.
Rice.

Salad.

All three.

Nothing.


Javier doesn’t need his mouth to cook. Should he try to make conversation with his sudden guest?


Sure (Pick only ONE among the following)

Ask her name.
Ask what the fuck she is, and if there are more like her around.
Ask how she can withstand the weather so easily. Actually, just ask about this ungodly weather.
Ask if she wants to help.
Ask to keep an eye on the outside.
Write-in.


Fuck no.

Rafflesiac
July 2nd, 2018, 07:46 PM
241A

- - - Updated - - -

full power airgetlam time let's go go gooooooo

Bird of Hermes
July 3rd, 2018, 02:37 AM
2 - Medium Rare is the only way to have steak, especially if we're being judged on our cooking.

4 - All out big display, variety is the spice of life after all. This way we can't screw up if she has a particular preference.

1a - Simple and minimal to begin with to try and start a rapport. Too much at the beginning may not go so well so let's start small and see what angle we can work.

Spartacus
July 3rd, 2018, 03:53 AM
We played FSN, the smart choice never been rewarded.

24

1a

SleepMode
July 3rd, 2018, 06:33 AM
24, 1A

Bird of Hermes
July 3rd, 2018, 01:39 PM
We played FSN, the smart choice never been rewarded.
Picking dumb things for the right reasons - the way of the protagonist.



But seriously, it's like you guys purposely go for the most difficult choices, without outright going for the Bad End. I just can't take it easy, can I. Anyway, here's what you get. Welcome to Hard Mode, damn it.
You'll get used to it (took me a while), you'll find something that works in the meantime till that first bad end is reached.

Draconic
July 3rd, 2018, 02:46 PM
2 - If she's a monster, the inside part will satisfy her.

4 - Always assume that the unfamiliar girl eats a lot.

1D - I'll have plenty of time to get to know her while she's boarding up the windows with me.

- - - Updated - - -


full power airgetlam time let's go go gooooooo
"Airgetlam?" Don't you mean "Lammy?"

SpoonyViking
July 3rd, 2018, 04:16 PM
She wants it prepared, so she doesn't want to eat the steaks raw, and the best way to bring out the flavour is to cook it medium-rare; and if we don't have many spices, the soup or the rice won't be so tasty, so better to stick to a simple salad.

My choices:

2, 3

1 - C

Daneel Rush
July 6th, 2018, 06:06 PM
Casa Volante Hostel
Day 01
Evening Phase – 04
Severe Cold (-19 °C/-2 °F)
Snowstorm

https://i.imgur.com/C6Ns8oL.png?1 https://i.imgur.com/kk5FFFX.png

Health: Stable
Sustenance: Stable
Warmth: Stable
Stamina: Stable
Magic circuits activated.

Food: Good
Water: Optimal
Warmth: Poor
Defense: PoorIt took me a while to realize something was wrong.

It took me too long.

Everything had to be done with magic. Fortunately, converting magical energy into heat and transferring it efficiently through my hands is trivial by this point. It is among the first things I figure out, even before my voice began to change. I went with some finely-chopped tomatoes and leeks to support the meat’s juiciness—medium-rare, the best of both worlds.

Soup was already made, courtesy of Maria. She won’t mind sharing in the current circumstances.

Rice only needed water, salt and heat. The weather did not help, but it would be a matter of time.

Everything went wrong when I started preparing the salad. A plain thing: lettuce, tomatoes and radishes with a dash of lemon juice in the absence of vinegar or any fancy sauce.

All this time, she stared at my back. Only her right foot moved impatiently, but it felt like a lion pacing in his cage. Piercing and smothering, incisive and crushing, like the tip of a dagger poking my back while I’m running from a tsunami.

It is not just a matter of cooking; achieving anything under this pressure is a little too unfair. A thing that is inhuman; a thing that seems to be pure, raw power in an unsuitable form was watching my every move.

So I tried talking to it, because I’m apparently suicidal.

“So, um, name’s Javier. Javier Lucero. Can I have yours?”

That was a mistake.

Drawing her attention was a mistake.

The second mistake was assuming I had the luxury of time.

And the third, and greatest, mistake was not taking into account who I was cooking for.

“What is that,” she said with her raspy voice that I now realize is her normal voice. A question, lacking the interrogative inflection. Before I could even think of the words, she had already jumped to her feet and crossed the distance to the kitchen counter, to reach for…

“Lettuce. I’m making a salad…?”

“Lettuce…” she murmured, and the word felt like a profanity out of her lips. “…lettuce?”

My legs became utterly stiff. A cold, numbing current traveled the whole way down my body, as I learned it was possible to feel utter terror at the sound of the word “lettuce”.

“Human, you…you intend for me to eat vegetables, like some…puny hare?”

She asked, but she waited for no answer.

Thus, here I am, curled against the wall all the way across the common area, feeling blood tickling out of my every orifice.

There is only pain.

I don’t know what she did, I just know pain.

“Uuu…aaah…” I can’t. Words are impossible. A plea for help…to who?

The back of my head pulsates like a beating heart. My lungs forget how to draw air. My sight is blurry and my tongue tastes blood. Everything is cold: inside, outside, my very life has become feeble and cold.

Health: Stable --> Critical
Magic circuits forcefully deactivated.“A waste of time…” murmurs the girl, reaching for the slab of steak—uncaring that it still sizzles on the pan—and bites off an impressive chunk of it before turning her back to me and taking a step away.

Ah, she’s leaving…leaving me to die…

…my blood…will freeze here…

…ah.

…she stopped.

She doesn’t move…no.

It moves.

Her jaw moves. Quite a lot.

She takes a second bite. And a third. And half a pound of steak disappears at comical speed. Then, her hands drop to the sides, completely lax. Her head also limps a bit.

“Ah…so good…”

You’re…welcome.

She turns to look at me again, and now she gasps, as if she has just realized she wrecked me.

“Ah…aaah!”

And now she’s panicking, scurrying to and fro, all around me. What the hell…

“Aaah, what should I do? What should I do? What would Father do—wait, what am I thinking!? Aaah!”

Why on your knees now—ah…poking me here and there…won’t help at all…

“Ah, are you—ah, you’re not okay at all, that’s obvious—aaah, no good, no good, no good…”

She’s…like a…ugh—!

What—what is this!? Warm, cold, at the same time—

Magic! My magic, it’s being—so suddenly! Aaargh!

Acute magical energy expenditure breached threshold.
Stamina: Stable --> PoorThis is…Maria…!?

Shit…shit…shit…! I can’t…I need…

“…help…”

The girl jerks back as if startled by my miserably weak voice.

“Help…help! A healer! Right!” She pauses. “Where do I find a healer…?”

Ugh…

Something else…gets her attention…something…what…

…sounds…

…gunshots…

…soldiers…

“Aaah, a healer! I’ll get one! Definitely!”

Not reliable at all…but her face…her words…

She is…an honest monster.

A fast one, too. She’s…already gone.

She will try. She will earnestly try.

But, I…


*** ***

https://i.imgur.com/LP3zzWh.png https://i.imgur.com/Kj05uiv.png
Errázuriz Avenue
Severe Cold (-19 °C/-2 °F)
Snowstorm

Maria Westinghouse is breathing heavily.

She is not tired, nor cold, nor afraid. It is an automatic response to her increased heart rate. Her metabolism is accelerating, and thus demands more oxygen. But it is above all her brain that is shifting it up a gear.

Her mind is filled with memories: voices, images, scents, tears, laughter, gripping pain.

She has traveled thousands of miles and endured many hardships for this moment. She has met countless people and followed many red herrings to reach this place.

She cares not about the Panther tank. She cares not about the masked soldiers. She cares not for the strange and suspicious gauntlet worn by the man—the Servant—in front of her. She has not even paid that much attention to his face.

What Maria sees, what she truly cares about, is the insignia on the collar of his black shirt. The Armanen runes.

SS.

Schutzstaffel.

Something dark creeps up in her heart. Something she has held for too long, too deep, and it finally demands release. It is a dark flame, and it makes her blood boil and her eyes see red. The one who has borrowed her body feeds on that flame and feeds it its own violent will. It is an unhealthy loop in which Maria’s hatred catalyzes the Guardian’s thirst for violence.

This man may have the answers Maria seeks. This man may lead her to the truth.

But, it’s not like he needs his limbs to talk, right?

https://i.imgur.com/jrBUzjC.png

“As long as he can still talk, it’s fine, right? Right!?”

Character condition has overridden player input!“AaaaAAAH!”

She yells. It is not a kiai nor a war cry. It is a roar of superhuman emotion and a cry for blood. Her body generates magical energy—it demands it and it will take it from every available source. Maria’s darkest desire overcomes her rational thoughts, and the being inside her thrives in violence and knows only violence.

Electricity crackles in and around the man’s bizarre gauntlet.

Maria takes a step.

The soldiers open fire, but the bullets pierce cold, empty air. She’s already closed the distance, leaping over the tank with sword poised to bisect the man at the waist—

“Just a rabid dog, huh…”

His words are smothered by the shrill cry of lightning—a bolt that pierces Maria’s belly and pulls her along down the street. She rolls half a dozen times on the snow before coming to a halt, lying face down on the white-blanketed pavement.

“You’re a fucking idiot.”

“Yup! Your granddaughter’s an idiot~”

Maria blinks. Whether it was the lightning bolt or the words that echoed in her mind in that moment of cold stillness on the snow, her beleaguered heart eases down, her eyes see something other than red, and the urge for violence is abated.

Character condition has stabilized.

Player input reestablished.“Thank you, grandma,” she mutters to the snow, and a moment later she’s standing atop the entrance to the Unimarc supermarket, avoiding the automatic burst fire that aimed to catch her while prone.

“A tough and quick dog, though,” muses the other Servant, all the while calmly attaching something shaped like an assault rifle’s magazine to his gauntlet.

The soldiers maintain their two lines on opposite sides of the avenue, firing regular burst fire that keeps Maria on the move. Evading them is almost trivial. On the other hand, she thinks twice before approaching the man atop the tank a second time. It is likely he can fire his lightning bolts faster than she can close in and swing her sword.

“Think, Maria,” she mutters to herself as she drops down and cleaves a soldier from shoulder to groin in the process. “Think of what just happened.”

Maria has noticed—perhaps it is the presence of the Servant, but these soldiers are acting differently. These do care about avoiding friendly fire accidents, which opens infinite defensive options to her. Really, they are barely a distraction.

Upon raising the non-gauntleted hand, the soldiers stop and retreat their lines until they are flanking the tank. Maria is standing mere steps away from where she had stood before she attacked.

“At least have the decency to present yourself,” taunts the SS officer. “I am Servant Rider. Rider of the Fourth Reich.”

Maria scoffs, smoothly concealing the small triumph she has achieved. Upon learning the Servant’s class and title, her mind has been flooded with valuable information.

Rider of the Fourth Reich

Parameters:
STR ?
END ?
AGI B
MGI C
LUK ?
Noble Phantasm ?

Height & Weight: 180 cm, 76 kg
Source: Historical fact
Region: Germany
Alignment: ?
Gender: Male
Attribute: ?


Class Skills:
Magic Resistance E
Riding A


Personal Skills:
Item Construction B


Quest Master’s Note: Opening post updated with detailed profile.Stabbing the snow with the tip of her blade, Maria tilts her head from side to side, taking her time and enjoying the growing irritation in the man’s otherwise stony face.

“Servant Saver,” she finally admits, and the man nods as if he had expected those exact words.

“Naturally, the Servant of the sword.”

“No, that’s not what I—” Maria catches herself upon realizing… “Whatever. This is gonna be a thing, huh.”

Probably.

His assumptions mean nothing to her. She knows she is the host of a hero who brought salvation to the world.

“It didn’t kick in, after all,” Maria then muses to herself, wearing a small grin on her face. She means her Class Skill, Counter Hero. She would have been quite pissed if the Servant system considered the man in front of her a “hero”.

On the other hand…

“That spark…actually hurt a little,” she says loudly enough. Indeed, despite a direct, point-blank impact, Maria did not seem any worse for wear. That does not mean she did not suffer damage, and that was precisely the problem.

That puny spark shouldn’t have hurt me.

Rider does not answer to the taunt, preferring to just raise the gauntlet, open fingers pointing at her. Those fingers then split and bend upwards, revealing hollow tubes—

“No—gun barrels—!”

The bullets are fired with the crackle of electricity, faster than any gun made by human hands. Maria dashes into an adjacent street (Almirante Señoret), and something like an “eeek!” escapes her lips when she hears further bullets blasting off chunks of building right behind her.

Rider does not need to chase. His gauntlet railgun pierces through everything. Upon this dilemma, Maria thinks in three dimensions and takes to the roof of the three-story building to her left, now ominously shuddering beneath her feet. Keeping her head low, she waits a moment to check if her position remains known. Instead, Rider either gives up or runs out of bullets, for he ends his barrage and makes a hand signal.

The tank begins its slow crawl forward, advancing only a few yards before making an equally slow turn, effortlessly crushing the metal fence dividing the avenue in halves. The soldiers make a half-circle behind the tank, covering its slow retreat.

“Oh, no fucking way you’re leaving,” Maria mutters, clenching the hand holding the sword. She is about to make the leap to the neighboring building when she catches—lip-reading more than hearing—a single word out of Rider’s mouth.

“…Archer.”

She can’t react quickly enough.

She can only scream and fall on her knees as the backside of her body is turned into a pincushion.

“Fuck! Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, FUCK!”

As if chastising her for her language, the building overburdened by railgun bullets and arrows the size of human arms decides it is a good time to collapse. The following seconds are an indecipherable confusion of sound and dust, and the only thing Maria can make out of the whole mess is the arrows disappearing for some reason and a lurching pull that takes control of her body.

Three levels of brick and metal pour down on the corner of Errázuriz and Almirante Señoret, but Maria finds herself held on somebody’s shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

“Um, are you a healer—”

Then the newcomer jerks her arms, and there are suddenly half a dozen arrows on the street.

https://i.imgur.com/MEgcOSW.jpg“A healer! I need to find a healer!” She says with obvious urgency, first at Maria and then at the Nazi squadron in the distance. Rider has not let the intromission disturb his intent; if anything, it is a reason to retreat even faster. Maria all but throws herself off the other girl’s shoulder, landing on hands and feet like a cat. She is about to take off after Rider—

“Wait! Please, I need help!” A hand on her shoulders jerks Maria to a complete halt.

What the—! This girl is crazy fucking strong!

Words have to wait, for Archer’s next barrage comes with even greater volume, but this time they are more than ready: Maria dodges and parries agilely, while the other girl seems to have a body of adamant, the arrows failing to pierce either clothes or skin. A hundred or so arrows thus fail to have any significant impact.

But this time the arrow barrage was the distraction, and Maria can only wince when the Panther finally shows its power, hurriedly moving the sword in front of her…

“Her teeeeeeth!” shouts the pseudo-Servant, her mind metaphorically blown, even dropping her sword to point at the absurd sight.

Indeed, like a dog catching a frisbee, the girl in dark clothes has stopped the 75 x 640 mm shell with her bare teeth. Flakes of metal fall off her corner of her mouth, the shell casing crushed by monstrous strength. Then she spits it in disgust.

“Blegh.”

It’s like the world has stopped for a moment, unable to process the absurdity of what has just happened. Neither Maria, nor Rider, nor the unseen, distant Archer can do or say a thing. But the absurdity of the scene gives way to a sudden, heavy feeling of trepidation. Maria is closest to the girl so she feels it more strongly, but the hand on her shoulder is firm and unmovable.

“A healer,” she insists. “Please.”

And it is only now that Maria truly looks at the girl.

https://i.imgur.com/1UrxKHc.png

“The human…the human’s going to die. I messed up, and now he’s going to die! Please, help me! He’s right over there!”

Maria’s desire to chase after Rider is still stronger until the girl points with her finger.

In that direction…the hostel is in that direction.

“Oh, don’t fuck with me.”

She glances in the direction of the tank…but Rider is no longer there. Only the Panther and a phalanx of soldiers cautiously retreating, their guns constantly on the two.

“Fuck,” she murmurs, but softly spoken words will not ease her frustration.

“Fuck!” stomping the ground until snow is parted and pavement cracks, Maria curses and rampages like a brat. It is Archer who interrupts, resuming their labor of covering Rider’s retreat with a major barrage. This time the other girl lets go, and Maria hurriedly seeks cover in a nearby building (Harbor Metro Station).

“You’re going the wrong way!” cries out the dark girl, still standing in the middle of the avenue.

“Oh shut up, I won’t take any more of those arrows!”

“But the human—”

“I know! But we can’t just go there; if that Archer sees where we’re going, he can just blast the whole place, human and all!”

Maria’s words only appear to make the other girl more anguished. The swordsgirl, however, needs to confirm her fears.

“Hey, girl! This human, tall, kind of lanky, messy hair, droopy eyes, name’s Javier?”

“Um! Javier Javier Lucero! It’s long, but repetitive, so I remembered it!”

“Oh fuck me in the ass…” Maria mutters darkly, wondering just what the hell her battery ended up doing this time.

“Please, go help him!” insists the girl. “I’ll ask Mister Archer to stop.”

“Wait, you’ll ask?” Maria retorts, but the girl has already dashed off in the direction of Sotomayor Square, and at about the same time the barrage does stop. Maria looks in the opposite direction; she can still see the tank, retreating along the avenue parallel to the coast to a destination unknown.

She wants to go after it.

She really wants to go after it.

But there’s no way Maria Westinghouse will place her own ambition over the life of Javier Lucero.

No matter how much she wants to.

“Aaah, damn it all!” She shouts her frustration one last time before taking off to the hostel.


*** ***

(BGM (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_CK9M-s4Vo))

“She won’t make it in time, you know.”

Wha…

I hear steps. Soft, delicate, shoeless steps on the cold floor.

Yes, it’s cold. My blood cannot pool; it just freezes, creating a dark stain on the floor beneath me. My eyes…no, it’s all blurry.

It hurts to think. I can’t move. The frost and the blood may have glued me to the floor by now.

It doesn’t…really hurt that much anymore. It’s all cold, and numb.

“I guess she’s a good kid, but, um, I’m just no good with her type.”

There’s somebody here. Somebody is leaning over me.

“It would be trivially easy. I mean, you’ll die even if I do nothing, but I could just end it like this.”

A new sound. The flick of a finger?

Ah.

Warmth.

Warmth breath on my ear.

“But, that would be boring.”

Warmth. Breath. Power.

This person…is another one of them monsters.

“I’m so tired. Of so many things. That’s why I’ll do this. Because I’m tired.”

The touch of a hand. It is the small hand of a girl, but it is unexpectedly rough.

A girl who has labored mightily, from a very young age.

“I want to have fun for a change,” she says. “And I think you can help me.”

Something. A jolt, traveling throughout my body, which cannot stiffen because it is already so. But, it is not really uncomfortable. If anything, I feel warmth returning to my body…

“Guh! Man, that girl really…what was the expression I heard? Ah, did a number on you, right.”

Health: Critical --> PoorWith the departure of the numbness and the return of warmth, pain also comes back. But this is no longer the pain of internal hemorrhaging.

“Agh, ow, ow, I…I can only do this because I’m Servant. Should I take this as a good thing?”

The person—no, the girl—is now talking to herself. Clarity slowly returns to my sight, but that only shows me the cold floor and bare feet that suddenly move away. I try to follow with my head, but all my muscles complain.

“No, no, too early for that.”

Wetness, but also warmth.

Ah, this is the blanket. The one I dropped when I met the other monster girl.

“This will have to do until your Servant comes back.”

Her footsteps are completely silent; it is only because my face rests on the floor that I feel the faintest vibration.

“Tonight.” Tonight? What about tonight—no, when did she get so close to whisper in my ear? “Muelle Prat. Go alone.”

In spite of the situation and my aching body, my heart does skip a beat at her velvet words. Whether it is arousal or fear, I do not know myself.

“I’m looking forward to talking with you, so don’t you dare leave me hanging, alright? I’ll be very cross with you if you don’t show up.”

Well, this feels like an issue. Not that I can complain to the person who just saved my life.

“Oh, she’s almost here. I’ll be seeing you soon, Javier.”

She actually ruffles my hair before disappearing. That’s kind of annoying. I don’t care what kind of powerful creature you are, respect your elders, damn it.

“Javier!”

Ah, hey there, Maria. I guess I don’t have to ask if you caught a glimpse of my savior on her way out.

“Aw shit, what’s with all this blood!? What the heck happened here? Eh, you were cooking? Come on, even I didn’t fuck up this bad!”

Oh, fuck you, Maria.



END OF EVENING PHASE


*** ***

The Night Phase follows special rules. No Management Actions are allowed during the Night Phase, but Javier and Maria can make an Exploration Action. The Night offers unique opportunities, but it is also uniquely dangerous…

DAY 1 – NIGHT PHASE SETUP


Health: Poor
Sustenance: Stable
Warmth: Stable
Stamina: Poor

Food: Good
Water: Optimal
Warmth: Poor
Defense: Poorhttps://i.imgur.com/7vCAo33.jpgJavier’s Night Action:


Exploration Action

Port: Sneak past Maria to meet your anonymous benefactor at Prat Harbor.
Sotomayor Square: So what was that about a zombie horde? Also, the port is just across the street, so maybe I can scout a little…
Unimarc: I can’t believe you left the backpack behind, Maria. And what was that you said about chocolate?
Yugoslavian Promenade: It’s the nearest vantage point to take a proper look at both the coast and the neighboring hills. And I’m still worried about the old man Scherer.


Rest

Bed Talk with Maria: I need to know. About magic. About monsters. About what the fuck is going on in this place.



Maria’s Night Action:


Exploration Action

Port: Still haven’t checked it out properly.
Sotomayor Square: You know what? Fuck zombies.
Unimarc: Aw fuck, I forgot my chocolate! Also, proper food. Right. Did that asshole guy get away safely, anyway?
Yugoslavian Promenade: I still feel like I should secure this spot. Also, that fucking Archer…gotta find his sniping spot.


Rest

Bed Talk with Javier: It will be fun! Like a school trip! Only, it’s fucking cold. And we’ll probably talk about our serious situation. Shit.

Rafflesiac
July 6th, 2018, 06:45 PM
On one hand, I knew that if any food choice would make Scarface obliterate Javier it'd be the salad.

On the more important hand, if you dislike salad you're a filthy stinking heathen unworthy of cuisine.

- - - Updated - - -

I wonder if Scarface is Berserker. She seems Berserkery.

Ordinarily I'd say to sneak out for the midnight date but I'll leave the womanizing votes to bolder readers. Dual resting.

SpoonyViking
July 6th, 2018, 09:06 PM
Javier: Exploration, Port.
Maria: Exploration, Unimarc. (Sorely tempted to say Promenade, though.)

Draconic
July 6th, 2018, 10:12 PM
Rafflesiac is a man of culture. You might be right about the scarred girl being Berserker, although I also think it might be possible (though not especially likely) that she might be a dead apostle.

The supermarket date is tempting because it looks like there’s bonding over chocolate, but I’m gonna have to go with pillow talk.

Javier: Rest/Pillow talk
Maria: Rest/Pillow talk

The scarred girl will probably return on her own, and we can go on a chocolate date tomorrow morning.

SleepMode
July 6th, 2018, 11:17 PM
Salad without dressing is the peak of a fresh-veggie experience.

That said,
Javier&Maria:​ Rest.

Bird of Hermes
July 7th, 2018, 04:47 AM
Now I although I understand preferring to opt out of salad if having more steak is an option but gurl you gotta have a balanced diet. My guess she's either Berserker or a Dead Apostle.

After getting our teeth kicked it we should take it easy, I opt for the bed talk.

Daneel Rush
July 12th, 2018, 10:29 PM
Casa Volante Hostel
Day 01
Night Phase – 01
Severe Cold (-23 °C/-9.5 °F)
Blizzard

https://i.imgur.com/C6Ns8oL.png?1 https://i.imgur.com/4cBrG8b.png

Health: Poor
Sustenance: Stable
Warmth: Stable
Stamina: Poor

Food: Good --> Stable
Water: Optimal
Warmth: Poor
Defense: Poor”Sooo, I don’t just have to run back because some weirdo Servant was crying murder, I also have to finish all the stuff you started and didn’t finish here.”

Maria’s words do not quite match the smile on her face. Could it be she actually enjoys housework? Or just using a hammer? Or maybe…

“This your first time holding a hammer, isn’t it?”

“Yes! If I think this nail is you, it’s almost therapeutic. You seriously have to reconsider your treatment of women, Javier Lucero,” she declares between the rhythmic sounds of hammering.

“I’m not the one who can prance around in this cold in a chainmail bikini.”

“It’s chainmail shorts!”

I am wrapped again in sleeping bags and buried under blankets. Regardless…

“God, it’s fucking cold!”

(BGM (https://youtu.be/sGkh1W5cbH4))

“I know, right!? I’m so glad I’m a Servant right now!”

“Hammer those boards faster!”

“I’m going as fast as I can, alright? Don’t push me! Men!”

“Don’t you ‘men’ me, Maria!”

Night has fallen, and the darkness brought a blizzard.

“There! Done!” Maria announces a few minutes later. “It’s closed!”

Indeed, at long last, the gaping hole that allowed the chilling winter wind into this dormitory room has finally been sealed.

Warmth: Poor (Stable only inside bedroom)”Aaah, it’s not windy anymore.” I can’t help but voice my relief. “But it’s still cold.”

“Let’s light a fire.”

“That really doesn’t sound like a good idea.”

“Um, here.”

The weight on my body increases, but so does the warmth.

“Ah, thanks.”

“Leave some blankets to meee!”

The third person in the room does not seem to pay particular attention to Maria’s whining.

https://i.imgur.com/kk5FFFX.png

“We never got your name,” I point out. In the darkness of the room, I can only perceive the girl’s fidgeting as she stands next to my bed.

“Ah, no, um…”

“Silly Javier, she won’t give you her name.” Maria has already switched gears to “pointlessly smug”, it seems. “Servants won’t reveal their true names willingly.”

“You know, you really have to explain the whole ‘Servant’ thing to me, ‘cause I’m not really feeling the service.”

“You’re one entitled son of a bitch,” growled Maria. “Who the hell do you think cleaned your body and changed your bloody clothes? I didn’t come all the way here to wash some asshole’s flabby dick!”

There was a completely unnecessary adjective just now. So, I’ll be petty and pretend there are only two people in this room.

“I take it you aren’t cold either.”

I barely catch the nameless monster girl shaking her head like a dog its tail.

“No. It kind of feels like home.”

“Where the hell do you come from?” grumbled Maria—wait, when did you get on my bed? I can hear the creaking—these beds are singles, woman.

The girl speaks after a long pause. She really won’t open up to us, after all. If anything, I’m surprised at myself for keeping a straight face in front of the girl who almost killed me, but it seems she helped Maria, and it’s really hard to see her as a threat right now.

“A cold, gray, but very gentle place.”

“Huh. Cool.”

Maria’s eloquence is an inspiration to us all.

“So, Servants,” Maria then declares, pushing herself back to a seated position—wait, were you lying down next to me?

“Javier, let’s start with getting you to read Servant stats. Can you Structural Analysis?”

“I’m pretty sure that’s not even a proper sentence.”

“Fuck, you’re so useless.”

“I’m gonna hit you.”

“Won’t even feel it. Alright, so apples and oranges it is. Help me out if I miss something important, girl.”

“Ah, I, I’m not really smart…”

What follows is a lengthy explanation that would make an ordinary person question Maria’s sanity: Servants are familiars of the highest rank (which elicited a short detour to explain familiars) able to be summoned by magi. Even then, a modern magus cannot summon a Servant on his own, and it is generally achievable only through major rituals.

Maria then describes that Servants are incomplete reproductions of the most powerful Spirits: those whose names have been permanently engraved in the world’s history, legends, folklore and mythologies.

“You can then distinguish between Heroic Spirits originating from humanity, like, um. Böðvarr Bjarki, and Spirits not of humanity, like, eh, emm…Fenrisúlfr. There are also Divine Spirits like—ah, uh, um.”

That is the beginning of the scarred girl’s somewhat broken contribution.

“Oh! And, yes, that is why many Servants will not reveal their names. After all, if you know the Servant in front of you is Sigurðr Fafnirsbane, then you know he gained invincibility from the dragon, except for a small weak spot.”

“Why are all your examples from Norse mythology?” Maria asks in a rather mirthful tone.

“Eh!?” A surprisingly shrilly exclamation leaves the girl’s mouth, followed by a trail of meaningless sounds.

“Ah, aaah, hau…”

What the hell is this pathetic thing that almost killed me.

“Anyway, from what I learned in Europe, magi have the terrible habit of summoning Servants and use them to compete among each other like fucking Pokémon,” Maria reclaims control of the lecture. “They compete for possession of the very system or artifact they used to summon the Servants in the first place. After all, anything potent enough to allow Servant summoning should allow any magus to do any sort of crazy magical bullshit. That’s why these artifacts are called ‘wish-granting devices’ or ‘Holy Grails’.”

Why does that sound both unfathomably stupid, mind-blowingly irresponsible, yet crazy awesome at the same time? Is this my hot-blooded teenager self being stirred back to life by the same masculine romanticism that kept me from giving up on magic in the first place?

“So, if I’m following you right, the fact there are Servants here means one of those magus contests is happening right now? But that doesn’t explain—”

“Nah, I think this is one of those cases of ‘somebody using a Grail for crazy magical bullshit’,” Maria counters. “I mean, there’s the insane weather, and the people being imprisoned in ice and turned into undead, and the fact the Counter Force wouldn’t dispatch an agent if it were some lame-ass third-world-country Grail War.”

Apologize to me and to all proud Chileans right now.

“This could be a Noble Phantasm,” then says the other girl, and I predict more than witness her glance at the boarded window and the howling wind outside.

“Don’t scare me like that, woman,” says Maria. “The issue here is that whoever started this crazy-ass situation has isolated this city from the Human Order. That’s a fucking big deal.”

“You’re losing me, Maria.”

The hooded girl groans.

“To be honest, this is all new to me as well; the Human Order…I didn’t really know that term until Saver came inside me—whoa. Wrong choice of words there, Maria.”

At least you saved me the effort of retorting.

“In any case!” Maria continues, stretching the initial vowel. “Our only choice is to stop the one with the Holy Grail and return the city to the proper history of Man. Which brings us to Miss Scarface here.”

The change in Maria’s tone preludes a change in the atmosphere. Something heavy has suddenly settled in the room, and I feel my body tensing as if readying itself to scamper away like a frightened rabbit.

“Which side are you on, girl.”

Maria is shining. She is literally emitting light, a dirty gold halo that envelops her and the sword now in her left hand, unflinchingly pointing at the space between the other girl’s eyes.

The girl in question does not move and inch. She acts as if there were no sword, her single working eye fixated on Maria. Well, if I had her monstrous strength, I would fear little as well.

She then gazes at her own lap, as if suddenly very interested in her hands that conceal unfathomable power.

“I…do not know why I appeared here. I am a Servant, but I answer to no Master.”

Maria seems honestly surprised.

“A spontaneous summoning…?”

“Perhaps…I was simply attracted to this strange place because it resembles home. Perhaps, if I do something here, she could also come…no.”

She shakes her head. It almost feels like she’s forgotten about us.

“I’m not smart, but I think that’s not what she would want. So, I have nothing to do here…no. There is one thing.”

Really, rather than answering Maria, she was just monologuing to herself. She walks towards the door, uncaring of Maria or the sword, and it is perhaps with a little embarrassment that Maria finally lowers it.

“If you are going to fight the people who did this, I will not get in your way. But your fight is not my fight. I…am not interested. In taking sides. I will…I would rather be on my own. I’d rather be left alone.”

Thanks to Maria’s halo, I can look at the girl, and recognize the myriad indications of a socially awkward person. Although, that might not be quite right. She might better resemble a person who has been pulled out of her comfort zone against her will.

Her hardened eyes attempting to project defiance yet contrasting with her defensive, shrinking posture.

In her, I see myself ten years ago: alone in a distant land, away from everything I’ve ever known.

Like the me of that time, she is lost.

She then notices I am looking at her from my little fortress of warmth.

“But…um, I, I would like to eat some of that meat again.”

With that, she opens the bedroom door to leave, but she stops halfway, standing before the open door—goddammit, the wind is leaking in from downstairs so fucking cold aaaa—

“My name…I cannot give it, but…if I was drawn to this place, then…’Herald’. I am the Herald.”

Herald of Fimbulwinter

Class: Unknown
True Name: Unknown

STR A+
END A
AGI C
MGI C
LCK E
NP EX

Height & Weight: 166 cm, 55 kg
Source: ?
Region: ?
Alignment: ?
Gender: Female
Attribute: Earth”Uwah, what’s with those stats!? What’s with that EX!? That’s scary! That’s fucking scary!”

Read the atmosphere, Maria. Please ignore her, Miss.

“But I still owe you, so…I will stand guard until the morning. Nothing will set foot inside this building. Nothing will come to harm you tonight. This I swear on my name.”

Defense: Poor --> Superb (Temporary)


*** ***

Severe Cold (-27 °C/-17 °F)
Blizzard

“I’m used to having small portions on the evening, so having a full meal with soup at this time is a little too heavy for me.”

It’s the same for me, although in my case it is more a matter of circumstances. I’m just used to making it through the day with two meals.

“In this weather it is healthier to eat as much as possible,” I say, and after a moment Maria nods her agreement.

“Yeah, yeah.”

We’re sharing the fortress of blankets. Maria and I sit on the bed while eating the stuff I started to prepare for the Herald girl, and Maria later finished so it wouldn’t be wasted.

“Sorry about going crazy on the mana back then,” Maria suddenly brings up. “Really, Saver wouldn’t normally need a backup like you, or a spare body like me, but in this place…”

“Hey, you said it; my alternative would’ve been dying to the cold. At least now I have a chance to do something to end this hellish cold.”

Maria looks up from her soup.

“So you’re really into fighting back?”

That’s a stupid question.

“When the alternative is to just lay down and die, I think anybody would choose to fight back.”

“Hmm…”

If this is Maria’s attempt at conversation, it is a silly one. So, I quickly empty my plate and show her how it’s done.

“So, when are you gonna tell me what happened out there?”

“Ah, well…in the hurry to take care of you I kinda forgot.”

Maria Westinghouse is a bad liar.

“I was weak—hell, I’m still aching everywhere and I don’t think I can walk three steps—, but my eyes still worked, Maria. You had holes in your back.”

“Oh, but those closed in no time,” she says dismissively, but there’s an unmistakable stiffness in her voice.

“Holes in your back, Maria.”

“Man, it’s really tricky to eat in the dark, don’t’cha think?”

“Maria.”

“Oh, you’re done. Okay, back to bed with ya, I’ll do the dishes,” she says while gathering the dirty tableware and hurriedly escaping out of the bedroom.

Silly girl.


*** ***

Enveloped in a cocoon of dark, in a completely dark room. In solitude, the darkness and the silence feel almost tangible. There is no other company but the cold and the sounds of the wind outside the walls. Sleep will not come easy.

Thus, it is some relief I feel when I hear the sound of the door being opened and then closed again. Maria has returned, but she seems to linger in front of the door for a moment before—

“Hey.”

“You don’t get to monopolize the warmth,” she says as she crawls into the pile. QED.

So that’s how end up sharing a bed not made to be shared. She is squeezed between my body and the wall, with her back turned towards me.

“She’s really doing it, that ‘Herald’,” she says after some worryingly awkward minutes. “She’s standing watch on the roof like a fucking gargoyle.”

“…that seems so unnecessary. Maybe we should’ve—”

“No, it’s fine like this,” Maria interrupts me emphatically. “If she ‘officially’ joined our side, the enemy might decide to attack in force. That would be bad.”

I…admit I didn’t think of that. But that’s not what I meant.

“No, I mean, she’s like you, right? The cold won’t kill you, but you still feel it. She doesn’t have to stay the whole night out there.”

“I don’t think we could convince her to come back in. I’m sure she can take this cold way better than both of us, anyway.”

“Now you talk like you know her.”

“Well, yeah,” Maria says, and her tone suddenly reminds me that she was, indeed, an American high school girl just a year ago.

“I mean, she’s not really trying hard to hide her identity. If you think cold places, Norse mythology, and then look at her face, there’s only one name that comes to mind, right?”

Yes, I know my Norse mythology well enough to know what she’s implying.

“I don’t remember her being famous for her physical strength, though. And isn’t she supposed to be more, well, like a hag?”

“I’ve seen her depicted both as a hag and as a young girl. And she is the daughter of a giant,” Maria retorts. “And look at her siblings, anyway. Maybe her strength was never in question, even if her appearance doesn’t match.”

Maria keeps talking with her back to me. It’s a bit rude, but I guess the circumstances allow it.

“So we’re going with that assumption?”

She shrugs. “We can just ask her tomorrow. And speaking of tomorrow, we really have to do something about this cold. I can manage somehow, but you really need better gear. And get thicker blankets and stuff like that for the cold.”

“Yeah, I know. I don’t think I can afford to stay cooped up in this room forever, either. I’ll see what I can do tomorrow.”

In all honesty, I think I know a place where I can definitely find winter gear. Valparaiso is not a particularly cold place, but the Andes are close, and plenty of people go up the mountains for winter sports. It’s not like mountain gear is some rare item in this country.

The problem is, that store is, like, two hills away from here. It would be a trivial trip on normal circumstances, but in this weird, magical winter…it could be tricky. It might be better to take it step by step, hill by hill, ascertaining which areas are safe and which aren’t.

You can now explore Atkinson Promenade.Silence ensues, but I am a patient man. Besides, like I said, it’s not easy to fall asleep; it’s like some sort of survival instinct that makes me feel like I’ll die if I fall asleep.

So, I can wait. Good things come to those who wait—I think I remember my mother saying that.

Eventually, patience does give fruit. Maria’s voice fills the room again, as she reports her encounter at the coast.

“I…it feels like I screwed up, but I still don’t think I screwed up,” Maria says somewhat childishly. “I could’ve beaten that Rider; I’m still sure of that. Even if his lightning somehow made it through my Magic Resistance, it felt like a scratch at most, and both the tank and the soldiers are chumps. I could’ve won that easy. I just…”

“You didn’t expect a second Servant.”

“Um.” The single sound projects her dampening mood. “I…not, that wasn’t luck. I only survived because Saver is tough. Saver is tough, so she’s made my body tough. The arrows didn’t manage to reach my heart and my other vitals.”

But now the Servant knows that.

“Next time those arrows will be able to pierce my heart.” Maria comes to the same conclusion, and shudders at the thought.

Yes, that’s the right reaction. Even with awesome powers, Maria is just a nineteen-years-young woman.

“If only I could…if I had all of Saver’s powers, I definitely could—!”

“Stop it.”

She does stop talking.

“Don’t push yourself. You have some great hero’s powers, but you’re not that hero. You need to cool down and take it a step at a time.”

“But—!”

“No buts. A step at a time.”

It has to be like this. She is the one with the power to put a stop to this frozen hell, but that doesn’t change the fact I am the elder. Even if it is only seven years, those are seven years full of the harsh life experiences of an adult.

Yes, even if it is kind of a hassle, it is the elder’s duty to be a guide to the younger. Just like I was once guided.

“Don’t try to be something you’re not. That only works for actors and professional scammers. We just have to think our moves carefully so that situation doesn’t repeat.”

The optimal way to overcome multiple enemies is to turn it into a sequence of one-versus-one fights. I’m not a fighter myself, but I can figure out that much.

“More importantly, teach me more about Servants. I really need to know what we’re dealing with here.”

“Fine, fine.” Ah, she’s sulking.

Thus the night is filled with explanations on Servant Classes, Skills, and Noble Phantasms. I appreciate the straight categorization, but isn’t this whole thing a little too game-like? I’m starting to feel magi really don’t take seriously.

Well, if there’s a plus to this is that, at some point, Maria deigned herself to stop showing me her back. Now we’re two fools staring at the boards supporting the top bunk, or we would if it weren’t so dark.

“So, what can you figure out about that Rider?”

“Hmm…he’s just a weirdo all around,” Maria says then and there. “Well, he wears the SS insignia, so it’s clear we’re not dealing with a Rommel or a Guderian, which I guess is good in its own way.”

Why does it feel so weird that a nineteen-year-old girl knows more about Nazi Germany than I do? I guess it’s some strange form of gender bias.

“Aside from that…I have something in the back of my mind, but I just can’t put it into words. But I’ll figure it out.”

After all, driving the conversation in this direction was the best for Maria’s mood.

“If I meet that Rider again, I’ll definitely figure him out.”

I said she’s not the legendary figure inside her, but she has a surprisingly aggressive spirit. In that regard, we are almost complete opposites. Or maybe it’s just my soul that’s older than my body.

“But that’s not really the issue,” Maria continues. “How is a Nazi officer a Servant? That’s just not supposed to happen.”

“Why not? I mean, what they did was terrible, but it sure left a mark in history.”

“That’s not how it works. People of the modern era can’t be summoned as Servants, or so I understand. Something about their ‘legends’ lacking the weight of Mystery.”

I sort of understand what she means by that. Legends are such because they are greater than the figures themselves. Ancient legends were shaped by oral and written transmission; they were like paintings, and every person that narrated or recorded the legend added a brush stroke to the canvas. Legends are windows into the cultures that developed them; they are open to variation, adaptation and interpretation.

The lives of modern day humans are too concrete, and the astounding progress of human technology in the last century has trivialized many things that would have been considered impossible in former times. In our modern, interconnected world, modern culture encompasses everything and is founded on recorded fact.

There have been plenty of great people, but this world can no longer create “legends” in the traditional meaning of the word.

“Looks like whoever is behind this whole mess keeps pulling off impossible things,” I can’t stop myself from commenting. It is sort of a joke, but it seems Maria does not take it as such.

“The power to make impossible possible…Holy Grail…”

“No, no, if we’re gonna use ‘Holy Grail’ as an explanation for everything, then there’s no point in thinking.”

“Huh…good point,” she says quietly.

“What about your Servant?” I bring up the question that kept lingering in my mind after this whole explaining. “I get it that you wouldn’t say it with the Herald around, but we’re alone now. So, who’s Saver?”

“No idea.”

Say wha’.

“Do-don’t give me that judgmental silence!” Maria sulks again. “I really don’t know. Like I said, this place gave her all sorts of problems, to the point she had to use my body, and even after that the connection is all kinds of wrong. I’m missing, like, half her Skills, and I don’t have a Noble Phantasm.”

“That’s kind of bad.”

“I know! But I gotta do what I gotta do. Even if the only reason I’m still alive is because her base stats are pretty high on their own.”

“But you do address Saver as a woman.”

“Hmm. Well, yeah, I guess. We did have sort of a conversation. Or at least I heard the voice of a woman. Besides, if Saver were a guy, wouldn’t he have possessed you instead?”

“Huh. Maybe.”

And that is it. Even I am not sure myself why we are ending the conversation here, except that sleepiness is finally getting to me, but Maria decided to turn her back to me again, which is as eloquent as outright saying we’re done for tonight.

However…a matter remains. Maria said it herself a while ago: she did not find wounds on my body matching the blood in my clothes and on the floor. I was no longer bleeding when she found me. Because I was saved by somebody else. The Herald did not say a thing about it, did she perhaps assume Maria healed me somehow?

Tell Maria about the person who healed me?


Yes
No

In any case, it appears the time to sleep has finally come. It is an unannounced agreement—we just shift a little on the bed and it becomes clear in our minds that chatting is over. But silence does not our little bunker of warmth just yet.

“How ya feelin’?”

“Everything hurts. And you?”

“My back hurts.”

“Then why did you lie on your back all this time?”

“So I don’t forget. This pain. Then I will do better tomorrow.”

Okay, there is something I am not getting about this girl. It’s hard to keep up when she says idiotic things at one time and then makes me worry with things like this at the other.

But, then again, why do I even care, really? Despite everything that’s happened, I haven’t known her for twenty-four hours.

Focus on the things that matter, Javier Lucero. Even if I end up dying here, I’m not giving away my life cheaply.

But, well, we can worry about that tomorrow.

“Javier.”

“Hmm?”

“If you snore, I’m shoving your bloody boxers in your mouth.”

Goddammit, Maria.

Character reference updated with ‘Herald’.

Saver character profile updated.

END OF DAY 1

*** ***

DAY 2 – MORNING PHASE SETUP


Health: Stable
Sustenance: Stable
Warmth: Stable
Stamina: Stable

Food: Stable
Water: Optimal
Warmth: Poor (Stable only inside bedroom)
Defense: Poorhttps://i.imgur.com/WPRpEbs.jpgJavier’s Morning Action:


Exploration Action

Atkinson Promenade: We’ve been looking north (towards the sea) this whole time. If we’re gonna look in a different direction, might as well try east. But there is a lot of east to go, so let’s start small and prudent.
Port: I was supposed to meet someone there. Now I wonder if it’s safe to go, or if there’s a point at all in going there.
Sotomayor Square: It is perhaps the city’s most important spot, so there might be something important there. Or someone.
Unimarc: Maria’s backpack is still there. Also, we can never have enough supplies.
Yugoslavian Promenade: It’s the nearest vantage point to take a proper look at both the coast and the neighboring hills. And I’m still worried about the old man Scherer.


Management Action

Forage
Prepare Meals
Repair
Instruction
Write-in


Rest



Maria’s Morning Action:


Exploration Action

Atkinson Promenade: Javier says he really knows where to get winter gear. But it looks like it’s pretty far, so we’re gonna take it step by step, hill by hill.
Port: Still haven’t checked it out properly.
Sotomayor Square: It looked important in the map. People gather in places like that. Maybe so do zombies.
Unimarc: CHOCOLATE. Also, foraging. Also, investigation.
Yugoslavian Promenade: At this point it’s more of a hunch than anything else. Maybe it’s my tourist’s soul calling me there?


Management Action

Forage
Prepare Meals
Repair
Instruction
Write-in


Rest

Rafflesiac
July 12th, 2018, 11:03 PM
Yes; Double up on exploring the Atkinson Promenade.

Rafflesiac
July 12th, 2018, 11:15 PM
(Additional Information Locked – Requires “Hero's Proof”)

boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Where the hell are we going to find a soldier? Waiiiit a second. Time to kill some Nazis, huh.

Bird of Hermes
July 13th, 2018, 07:53 AM
Yes; Double up on exploring the Atkinson Promenade.
Ditto, strength in numbers and it’s probably the best place to get gear at the moment. If we run into friendly NPC’s or soldiers to grind materials out of, all the better.

SleepMode
July 13th, 2018, 09:58 AM
Javier/Maria:​ Explore Atkinson Promenade.

And Yes to tell Maria of our unknown savior.

Spartacus
July 13th, 2018, 11:35 AM
Double explore Atkinson Lemonade too

Draconic
July 13th, 2018, 07:16 PM
I choose to tell Maria about the person who saved us. Make sure she knows to look out for someone.

Javier: Explore Atkinson Promenade.
(If Maria wakes us up by accident in her sleep before sunrise, would it be possible for us to talk to the Herald?)

CONDITIONAL: If she's still around when we wake up, can we try to make a bargain with the Herald on our way out the door? She likes meat, so if we tell her where to get a LOT of it, and more importantly, promise to cook it for her whenever she drops by with it (and not put salad anywhere near it), maybe she'll do us favors in exchange? Like maybe breaking an ice prison on her way out?

Maria: Explore Atkinson Promenade, except purple.


(Additional Information Locked – Requires “Hero's Proof”)

boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Where the hell are we going to find a soldier? Waiiiit a second. Time to kill some Nazis, huh.
I like how mats are being used here. It's interesting. And yes, I agree with your Nazicidal assessment. That sounds like a fun way to spend my Saturday.

Okay, so... Herald of Fimbulwinter... it's a girl. She's clearly from Nordic mythology... And she's not Fenrir because she brought his name up...

Hel?
Helvenger?

*sees her profile on the first page.*
Huh. I made a pretty good guess. (Watch her be Surtr...)

- - - Updated - - -

And I was so looking forward to chocolate bonding too... but winter clothes definitely come first.

You
July 15th, 2018, 03:45 PM
Time to kill some Nazis, huh.
Time to eat some nazi's

Draconic
July 15th, 2018, 04:41 PM
That sounds unhealthier than six kilograms of chocolate in three minutes.

- - - Updated - - -

But okay.

SpoonyViking
July 15th, 2018, 04:43 PM
Tell Maria about the person who healed me? Yes.
Morning Actions for Maria and Javier: Explore the Yugoslavian Promenade.

(If Father Scherer dies in this route, I'm going to blame all you other players. :-P)

Daneel Rush
July 16th, 2018, 08:31 PM
Thanks to all who have shown interest in Fimbulwinter and contributed to the story with your votes. My thanks as well to those who don't bother voting. I don't really care, I'm one of you people anyway. And many, many thanks to Draconic, who has contributed the cool LN-style Servant stat sheets.

Now, let's move on to Day 2. The end of Javier's world looms ever closer.Beyond Their Sight—01

Unknown Location
Day 02
Morning Phase
Cold (-10 °C/14 °F)

https://i.imgur.com/Kj05uiv.png

(BGM (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySqxIToP5wE))

He walks up the stairs to the palace without pause or hesitation. Even if he does not want to be there. Even if he loathes the person he is about to meet. His face is a mask of steel that is not allowed to betray the slightest emotion. He will not reveal anything, nor give anything freely.

He is unescorted. He understands the risk but will not defy the rules.

Of course, there are plenty of soldiers in the palace. All of them are masked figures without identity. They perform the actions, obey commands and fulfill their duties, but it does not change the fact they are not human beings. Mere replicas, effigies, imitations. Fake subjects of a fake kingdom.

A necessary evil, he understands. The true, perfect Fourth Reich will be inhabited by real human beings.

Unlike the soldiers scouring the streets of Valparaiso, these will not obey his commands. They follow only the lord of this building.


https://i.imgur.com/NVNKZZS.jpg

He awaits on his throne—merely a luxurious chair, but one commanding over the pointlessly large hall.

It might not be entirely fair; Rider does admire the audience hall. Its long red banners with the swastika and the majestic eagle emblem above the throne chair always uplift his tired soul.

Yet, it is a pointless chamber. It is made for audiences welcoming dozens, if not hundreds of people.

It will never happen. Thus, it is pointless.

However, there may be a point to this room for the man on the chair. Perhaps that man just wants to watch him walk the length of the room, his hawkish gaze closely following his every step, looking for the slightest hint of defiance.

So pointless.

It is when they are separated some five meters away that Rider stops. Without hesitation, Rider bends and prostrates himself on one knee.

“Rider.”

He can’t reply immediately. His soul won’t allow it. It takes him one second too long.

That is the extent of his insurrection.

“…Your Majesty.”


https://i.imgur.com/kWhGmbR.jpg
They are not alone. Two maids accompany the man on the chair. The one on the right pours him a sample of the local wine. The other one manicures the fingers of his left hand.

It’s the very picture of indulgence.

Pointless.

So pointless.

So pointless…!

Rider remains the perfect picture of stillness, staring at the Sovereign’s feet. That which smolders in his heart cannot be displayed.

“I have received the reports,” speaks the Sovereign. “There are rats crawling in my New Asgard.”

“There are two rogue Servants, sir. They are not among those who answered your call, and it seems at least one of them intends to defy us.”

“Don’t waste your breath repeating what I already know,” scolds the seated man, his harsh tone triggering an alarm in Rider’s mind. “Tell me about the chosen people.”

“They endure, sir, as they must. As per your instructions, our soldiers will not disturb them unless in self-defense. But, Your Majesty, if I may…”

“You may.”

“Their numbers, sir, they are pitifully low. Certainly not nearly enough to sustain—”

“That is irrelevant,” the same harsh voice interrupts Rider. “Eventually, my kingdom will encompass the entire world. There will be enough people.”

You are wrong.

The words in Rider’s heart will remain unsaid.

“I have not received a report from Assassin.”

Rider almost frowns.

“I spoke with Assassin before coming here, sir. Nothing of merit to report.”

The Sovereign does frown, and his narrow eyes become thin like blades from the Far East.

“That woman is filth incarnate. Her words are not to be trusted.”

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

“What about your Noble Phantasm?”

“It will be completed by tomorrow evening, Your Majesty. Once it is ready for deployment, I will eliminate all nuisances without fail.”

The Sovereign answers only after taking a long sip of his wine.

“I shall take your word on that, Rider.”

The light-haired man closes his eyes for several seconds.

“Look at me, Rider.”

The kneeling Servant bites the inside of his cheek. His next exhalation purges him of many dark thoughts, as he chooses to relax his taut muscles and raise his steeled face to meet the Sovereign’s own.

Rider’s heart skips a beat (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4feCMgjxc_s).

It is an illusion, he knows. It is his own mind that is creating the image. But the chair in his yes has become an actual throne of marble and gold. The columns, too, shine as if bathed in the most precious metal. The banners sway elegantly in an inexistent breeze.

And the man. Oh, what a man!

“You have your instructions, Rider. The frozen rabble are to become fuel for the Temple, and their bodies shall belong to the flies. The chosen people are to be left on their own, for this Fimbulwinter is their trial.”

His eyes are divine lightning, and his every word is like gold. His voice inflames Rider’s heart, it arouses his Germanic pride, as he is reminded that his King—yes, his King!—is the one true inheritor of this world. Everything rightfully belongs to him, for he is their foundation and their pinnacle.

“Any Servant that refuses my glory does not belong in my kingdom,” he continues, and Rider wishes he would never stop. “Filthy as she is, Assassin is useful, and I have given you the strongest Archer to command. Do not fail me, Rider: remove all obstacles. The Black Sun must rise again.”

“Yes, Your Majesty! Of course, Your Majesty!”

“Then leave and go fulfill your duty.”

“At once, Your Majesty!”

He turns and leaves with eager steps, minding not the maid’s giggles in the slightest. His heart is on fire, for his liege has commanded him, and as he leaves the golden halls of his Sovereign’s palace there is nothing else in his mind but the wholesome desire to act on his orders immediately: to crush the enemies of His Majesty, and act as his vanguard in the creation of the new kingdom.

Why would anybody wish otherwise? After all, that man is…that man is…

That man is…!


*** ***


(BGM (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySqxIToP5wE))

The sounds of heaving and retching echo from the top of the palace’s stairs, filling the stale air of New Asgard.

It is Rider who suffers on both hands and knees. He has noticed a pair of shapely legs, belong to one looking down at him, but it matters not. His pride is already tattered, and he can only throw up. He keeps at it for one more minute, but the other person merely watches him in silence. So, it matters not.

“…I loathe that buffoon of a man.”

He spoke to nobody and received no answer.

Rider cleans the corner of his mouth with a handkerchief before standing upright, his face again a mask of Superior German Steel. Unfeeling, unflinching, unrelenting.


https://i.imgur.com/Xrz0Enz.jpg?2

The Maid.

The ones who serve the Sovereign—and they seem to be different every time he visits the palace—are just “maids”. In Rider’s mind, however, this particular one is “The Maid”, and even he is not sure why himself.

The Maid comes and goes, seemingly without care, roaming New Asgard at her whim. Sometimes she also steps into the city of Valparaiso, unmindful of the cold. He does not know where she came from; neither do Archer nor Assassin—although the latter always goes into fits of giggling whenever he brings her up for some reason—, and he would not risk the Sovereign’s displease just to ask him about her. He can’t even tell if she is a magus, a Servant, or something else.

She is just The Maid.

And that bothers him to a degree he is not willing to admit.

“Madam,” he curtly says, lifting his headwear before starting the long walk down the stairs.

“Do not confront the scarred one on your own.”

Rider freezes mid-step, almost losing his balance in the most embarrassing manner.

It is the first time he hears The Maid speak.

“You will die.”

Naturally, he turns to face her again.

https://i.imgur.com/p3NJh28.png

Naturally, her unchanging, I-know-better-than-you smile is nothing but infuriating. It becomes obvious enough to him that she does not intend to speak any further, so turns yet again and proceeds down the stairs, allowing himself the pleasure of having the last word.

“Then Archer can take of her. I will crush Saber myself.”

He did not walk down enough steps to miss the woman’s sigh, nor the faint words that escaped her luscious lips afterwards.

“So this is all you amount to, Herr Doktor.”

His pride commands him to face her yet again, for he will not tolerate slander from some wanton—

But she is no longer there.


*** ***

Warning!

This is a Save Point.

If your quest reaches a Dead End, you may choose to resume it from this point.


*** ***

https://i.imgur.com/kkYMy6J.jpg

Personal Skill Unlocked!

Magic Resistance – A
Grants protection against magical effects. Differing from the Resistance effect that merely rejects Magical Energy, this ability cancels the spells altogether. At this rank, it cancels spells of A-Rank or below, no matter what High-Thaumaturgy it is. In practice, the Servant is untouchable to modern magi, so it would not be an exaggeration to title the Servant a “Magus Killer”.Casa Volante Hostel
Day 02
Morning Phase – 01
Severe Cold (-19 °C/-2 °F)
Snowstorm

https://i.imgur.com/C6Ns8oL.png?1 https://i.imgur.com/dZSfLew.png

Health: Stable
Sustenance: Stable
Warmth: Stable
Stamina: Stable
Magic circuits activated.

Food: Stable
Water: Optimal
Warmth: Poor (Stable only inside bedroom)
Defense: Poor“So, how ya feelin’?”

Maria does not wait until she has walked down the stairs to call out to me. I do not answer immediately, letting the effort of my stretching exercises spread warmth throughout my body, even if it shudders as the chilly air currents circulate across the hostel’s common area.

The hostel’s employees remain encased in ice, their frozen visages unchanging. Why do some break and release their prisoners as undead, then? An ominous question.

Snowfall persists. It may no longer be the brutal blizzard of last night, but it remains dire and challenging.

Sleep was also challenging. Maria is clingy. Her hold on me, however, was less “intimate embrace” and more “child with body pillow”. I cannot call it annoying, though. Sharing body warmth was valuable in this harsh cold.

As for the Herald, she appears to have left while we slept. There is no way to know whether she really stood guard the whole night, but it is true that nothing dangerous happened while Maria and I slept, so I wish I could’ve at least told her we’re even.

“I ate well and slept well. I still ache, but it won’t stop me. Thanks to your healing magic—um, magecraft.”

“Nah, my healing magecraft is pitiful. It can only heal stuff that will heal on its own no problem. When I found you, you didn’t have any wounds or internal bleeding to match the blood on the floor and your clothes.”

She talks without looking at me, taking instead to the kitchen, more precisely to the pot on the worthless stove, where she stored melted snow the evening before. Naturally, it is now ice, but that changes quickly with a pulse of magical energy. Some seconds later, she drinking cool water from an aluminum glass.

“A magus doesn’t pull off that level of thorough healing out of the goodness of her heart. Then again, you say it was a Servant…”

“I just had that feeling,” I say while realizing how lame it sounds.

A while later, we stand side by side, staring at the wide-open main entrance. The hinges having succumbed to the deep freeze that heralded the arrival of this terrible winter, rather than an entrance it has become merely a gaping hole from which the chilling wind rushes into the building.

“It’s cold,” Maria states the obvious.

“It’s early in the morning…I think.”

“Let’s hope it gets warmer in a couple hours, but, um, what’cha gonna do?”

“I already switched on the magic juice,” I admit, concluding my exercises by bending my knees fully before springing upwards and then landing on my toes. Settling down on a normal posture with a long exhalation, I enjoy the warmth of exertion and power and thus confront the violent cold.

“Hmm, no way around it.” She pats the back of my shoulder, and it takes some effort not to stumble forward. Damn Servant strength.

“But, you’re quite efficient at converting mana into heat. Are you sure you’re just turning on your circuits? You’re not casting a cold resistance spell?”

“If there’s such a thing, please teach me, Master Westinghouse.”

“Can’t teach what I don’t know,” she says as she approaches the exposed doorframe and the snow pouring inside.

“Now that you bring it up, what kind of magecraft do you use—”

“Bzzt, bzzt. Bad Javier. A magus doesn’t reveal her secrets.”

“What’s with that performer-like sentence.”

“I’m not joking,” she says while stabbing the snow with her sword. “Hmm, I’d say fourteen inches. Anyway, magecraft is transmitted from a single teacher to a single student, which generally are parent and child.”

The sword disappears, as if dissolved in thin air.

“The power of magecraft, or all supernatural manifestations, is founded on the weight of its mystery. You could even call it ‘the power of ambiguity’. The moment you reveal how a form of magecraft works, you give it a ‘concrete form’, and its potency is diminished forever. So don’t go around asking how other people’s magecraft works, it’s rude. And dangerous.”

Duly noted.

“But if you really wanna know, I mostly use knot magic.”

“Wait, didn’t you just say—!”

No, wait, she didn’t really reveal anything amazing. It’s like saying Madame Blavatsky was a theosophist.

“And I’d guess you’re an orthodox theosophist.”

She must have noticed the shock on my face, because she quickly explained her deduction.

“I saw your book when I was looking for a change of clothes. Don’t worry, I won’t say a word.” She shrugs. “Hell, not like I can do anything with that knowledge; I didn’t even know theosophy was a real system until I met you. No offense.”

None taken. Even I started reading that book as a skeptic.

“But really, walking all this snow is gonna be a hassle. For you, I mean.”

Indeed, the ground is completely covered in the thing. Fourteen inches of snow, she said?

“Well, it’s not like we’re in a hurry. We have to be careful anyway; we don’t want to draw unnecessary attention.”

“Yeah, yeah, we have to be careful,” Maria agrees. “I told you this place has been detached from the Human Order. That means all sorts of things that normally could not manifest in our world could pop in, not just Servants.”

“You mean beside zombies and Nazi soldiers?”

“I mean spirits, magical beasts, and the like. Things that departed our world when the ways of man overwrote the ways of gods.”

You just can’t give any good news, can you.

“Alright, alright, let’s do this,” replies Maria, reaching for her facemask.

“What’s with that?”

“When I put on this mask…”

https://i.imgur.com/LP3zzWh.png

“…I become a badass.”



“…”

“…you could at least pretend to be charmed by my awesomeness.”

“…no.”

“Tch.”

Don’t click your tongue. It’s rude.


*** ***


Severe Cold (-17 °C/1.5 °F)
Snowfall


https://i.imgur.com/awctjJx.jpg

(BGM (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaSvFeV06Gc))

Paseo Atkinson, or Atkinson Promenade in English, is a short walk running along the northernmost edge of Concepción Hill, overlooking Valparaiso’s harbor. What used to be a colorful lane has been painted in the depressing colors of this magical winter.

“Yeah, I can tell this place was pretty,” Maria comments as she glances at the vintage nineteenth-century buildings. “It feels kinda European. But what’s with the names? On the other side it’s the Yugoslavian Promenade, now it’s Atkinson. Who the hell’s Atkinson? Do you Chileans give Chilean names to anything?”

I spend a few moments telling her about Juan Atkinson, the nineteenth-century businessman who encouraged the construction of these houses in the English style. He is the reason all the houses share a small front garden, smooth facades, and wide guillotine windows.

“There was a lot of immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries; British and Germans mostly. Even I have a German grandfather.”

“Yeah, I know. Um, about the Germans, not your grandpa.”

Thanks for the clarification, I was getting weirded out.

“Because the locals’ houses were built by the shore, they started building on the hills. I guess this was the first ‘rich neighborhood’, but it was also a matter of safety. See that building at the very end? That’s Hotel Brighton, but in colonial times it was a fort. Francis Drake sacked this city during his round-the-world trip, you know.”

“Huh.”

Wow. I would fall into depression were I a lesser man. No, wait, rather, something else has caught her attention?

“Hey, Javier.” Indeed, she is pointing at a tower poking out behind the row of houses. “That’s a church tower, right? But I thought the church was further uphill…”

“There’s more than one church in this city, Maria. That’s the Lutheran Church, built by the German immigrants. Well, it was originally the Evangelische Kirchengemeinde zum Heiligen Kreuz. The mass was still preached in German in the nineties.”

Maria brings her hands to the back of her head as she begins a slow walk along the promenade. Really, it’s the she doesn’t feel the cold at all.

Lucky bitch.

“You know, with all the German-ness in this city, a sudden plague of Nazis doesn’t seem that weird.”

I know. I just didn’t want to think about it.

“But, fuck it’s cold.” Now here, this is a lame attempt at changing the topic, Javier Lucero.

Maria laughs.

“Come on, Javier! We’re fighting Nazis in harsh winter! Channel your inner Russian!”

I don’t have an inner Russian! I don’t want to have an inner Russian!

“Let’s sing Russian songs to keep ourselves warm!”

I don’t even—

“Ra, ra, Rasputin, lover of the Russian queen,
There was a cat that really was gone~”

“That’s not a Russian song! More like, how old are you!?”

“Ra, ra, Rasputin, Russia’s greatest love machine,
It was a shame how he carried on~”


*** ***


Maria Westinghouse is breaking into houses like a videogame hero.

I feel somewhat dirty.

Well, more than anything else, I’m a little nervous.

It’s just, the situation is weird. I noticed the moment I remember there used to be a fort instead of these houses.

If those Nazis are indeed a military organization, why aren’t they here? Atkinson Promenade, not this entire Concepción Hill, isn’t it a strategically advantageous position? I can look at the entire coastline of Valparaiso from here.

Indeed, the reason many tourists make the walk to this place is precisely its great view. Just like I am right now, they would walk to the railing and roam the scenery with their eyes. Unlike them, however, what I see is a frozen ocean, ships both anchored and unanchored crushed by ice, a collapsed building, abandoned cars, ice coffins standing here and there, countless buildings with shattered windows—

There.

There is something there in place of what should be there.

And it’s so frighteningly close.

“Check this out, Javier!” Maria prances out of one of the houses carrying a large backpack she definitely did not have before. “Now let’s fill this with stuff. Also, I found…ah, where did I put it again…?”

So we’re stealing from private residences now—no, wait, that’s not important.

“Maria, you said earlier more strange shit could show up, like magical beasts or whatever.”

“Yup. What, you saw a unicorn or somethin’?”

Why a unicorn of all things—wait, are you subtly calling me a virgin? Ah, whatever.

“What about places?”

At that she frowns. Will you get serious for a change?

“What’cha mean?”

“I mean,” pointing at the very base of this hill, just meters below our feet. “like replacing what should be a solid wall of rock and concrete with something like that.”


https://i.imgur.com/mzKwhwi.jpg
“So…I take there’s not supposed to be a cave down there?”

“Pretty much,” I mutter as I rub my arms in my constant struggle against the cold. At this point I’m pretty sure my magic is the only thing keeping my face from literally freezing.

But, a cave at the base of Concepción Hill…why does that ring a bell?

“Ah! Here it is! Come on.”

Without any cue or any modicum of self-awareness, Maria pulls me by the neck of my shirt. I’m about to jerk away when I feel something soft and fluffy caressing my cheeks.

https://i.imgur.com/nf77MKI.jpg…this is a woman’s garment, isn’t it? Is this some sort of lesson in humility, or are you just making fun of me?

“There ya go. Now you’re a little less likely to die—hey.”

Not waiting for my thanks or anything else, Maria walks past me and leans on the railing, her sight seemingly fixated on the streets between this hill and the coast.

“There. Javier, there’s someone over there.”

It was sheer coincidence that we found her. We just happen to stand on a privileged high position. The person—no, the woman, if her impressive long hair and overall body shape is to be taken at face value—is clearly watching her steps, sticking close to the buildings and seeking covered spots where snow does not reach to avoid leaving footprints. Like Maria, she too carries a backpack, but hers is clearly stuffed; probably the result of a raid to some nearby store or whatever. Like myself, she seems rather haphazardly prepared for the harsh weather: over her long dress she wears only a dark winter jacket clear a few sizes too big for her. She wears no head protection: no scarf, no hood, no face mask, head cap or balaclava.

She reaches a corner, carefully checks around, in front, behind her and across the street—

--and there, just by sheer coincidence as well, her eyes catch sight of the cliff standing a block away behind her, and of the two watching her from the top.

She stops, metaphorically frozen. The idiot by my side waves placidly.

The woman runs, darting away like the fox from the hunting hounds, because of course she does. She hurriedly crosses the street and her form disappears behind a two-story building. She is in fact moving towards us, but I can tell she is not eagerly hurrying to meet us.

I look to my side. Maria is already looking at me, expectantly.

What will our heroes do? (Note: You have two heroes under your control)


Catch the woman!
Check out the cave.
Keep pushing eastward to the next hill.
Return to the hostel.
Write-in

Rafflesiac
July 16th, 2018, 09:01 PM
Walk into the mysterious cave, what could possibly go wrong?

SleepMode
July 16th, 2018, 11:07 PM
Javier/Maria: Check out the cave.

At worst, the lair of a big baddie. At best, a potential base to fall back to.

SpoonyViking
July 16th, 2018, 11:23 PM
Javier and Maria: Catch the woman.

Also, Maria is silly - if she wants someone to channel their inner Russian, she has to sing this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvS351QKFV4.

Bird of Hermes
July 17th, 2018, 01:59 PM
https://memegenerator.net/img/instances/61579871.jpg

Javier: Chase

Maria: Cave

Daneel Rush
July 17th, 2018, 07:20 PM
Also, Maria is silly - if she wants someone to channel their inner Russian, she has to sing this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvS351QKFV4.

I don't see how a different song by a different German group is any better.

Anyway, after 23 hours, Javier is tied between chasing a woman and checking out a cave.

SpoonyViking
July 17th, 2018, 07:27 PM
I thought Turisas was Finnish? Oh, their version is just a cover, right?

Draconic
July 17th, 2018, 08:13 PM
...after 23 hours, Javier is tied between chasing a woman and checking out a cave.
I feel like the choice here is obvious. This isn't Seinfeld. We're not choosing a soupcave over a woman.

Javier: Catch the woman!
Maria: Check out the cave. Perhaps find some monsters. We can boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew! Though if they offer to be friends I'll take that option as well.

Because I've found that most choices in life come down to whether you make friends with something or eat them.

SpoonyViking
July 18th, 2018, 04:12 PM
I don't see how a different song by a different German group is any better.

Oh, yeah, and I was just being silly myself. :-) If I were to suggest a serious song to pump up someone's inner Russian-ness, I, a non-Russian, would suggest this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wps8Ndx-QqA.

Daneel Rush
July 20th, 2018, 08:51 PM
Day 02
Morning Phase – 02
Severe Cold (-19 °C/-2 °F)
Snowstorm

https://i.imgur.com/C6Ns8oL.png?1

Health: Stable
Sustenance: Stable
Warmth: Stable
Stamina: Stable
Magic circuits activated.“I’ll go after her. You go check out that cave.”

“Uwaaah…never has a choice been more obviously made with a dick.”

Alright, let’s get movi—whaaa.

“Not only you’re letting your dick pull you towards new pussy, you’re turning me—me!—into a metaphorical phallus to penetrate that dark and gaping—don’t just go and ignore me, Javier Lucero!”

I dunno, I didn’t hear a thing, so much wind out here, I’m on my way now.

Well I say that, but in the time it takes to hurry down the stairs to the base of the hill that woman could have gone anywhere, or hidden anywhere. I guess I hafta look for footprints in the vicinity…

I wonder why it is, however, that the moment I am alone, I feel the terrible cold all the more bluntly. Standing in the middle of the street, it’s like the wind rushes in from every direction to freeze me to the core. It is my legs, half-sunken in over a foot of snow, that ache the most, and I can’t use my magic to keep myself warm the whole day. It’s just not that convenient.

I think of calling out to the mysterious woman for a moment, but there are all sorts of awful things in this city right now, so it’s better to—ah, there are the footprints—


https://i.imgur.com/rPhjLic.jpg?1
Oh, fuck this shit. Were you waiting until I’m alone or what?

I complain, but my hand is beating faster. I know they are at least as fast as a living human, and I remember the way it predicted my…

…can I even afford to use fireball? Human Alchemy is stronger, but that would mean a close engagement…

Anyway, two zombies from uphill. They have the advantage of walking downslope, but we’re both equally hampered by all the snow. So, what do I do? How do I lose them? Yesterday I ran and they seemingly did not chase, or they did not want to cross paths with the soldiers or whatever. Upstairs back to Atkinson…Maria probably isn’t there anymore. That means my options are—

“Heeey! Um, the mister standing over there!”

…should I thank the zombies for this?

A woman about my age looks at me alarmedly from inside a nearby house, the bottom half of her body hidden past the doorframe. Just like Maria, she calls out to me in English.


https://i.imgur.com/4FefkyY.jpg?1
“Move already!” Her almost-desperate expression starkly contrasts with her demanding words.

Javier’s reaction to the zombie problem:



Run to the house with the woman.
Run north to the coast and away from the zombies.
Run west to the cave where I sent Maria.
Stand my ground and take on the zombies.

Try to get at least one of them with a fireball before they get close.
Use Human Alchemy on myself and prepare for a close engagement.


Write-in.




*** ***

https://i.imgur.com/LP3zzWh.png

“Oh he didn’t just walk away and leave me talkin’.”

Maria watches her spare battery struggle down the snow-covered stairs with a mock glare. It is only after he is about halfway down that she dumps him in the back of her mind and focuses on the task at hand.

“Alright, let’s do this. Ayup!”

She is a Servant, so she does not bother with stairs or roads. Maria just leaps off the edge of the cliff, pushing herself off the cliff wall to land superhero-style meters ahead of the cave’s entrance.

“God, I’m so fucking awesome.”

That sole sentence says a lot about Maria Westinghouse.

That outlandish attitude, however, cools down the moment she sets eyes on the cave. She feels it immediately; the powers of a Servant do not stop her from shuddering at the not entirely unfamiliar feeling. She does not even notice summoning her sword.

She is being watched. There is something there, in the deep darkness, watching her intently. She feels examined, appraised, and not just a little violated. This is not the feeling of being stalked by a predator.

Women are very sensitive to the roaming eyes of men. This is that particular feeling, amplified to a repulsive degree.

“Fuck, I’m glad Javier’s not here.”

Disgusted and wary, Maria takes a step forward. Whatever her mysterious watcher is, she is plenty sure it’s not just some creep.

There is already little light filtering through the canopy of grey clouds, and the north-facing position of the cave mouth further limits the amount of light making it inside. Even at several steps away, Maria can see how the maw quickly becomes utter, indecipherable darkness.

Not a problem.

With the next step, Maria lights herself up. It is the golden aura that envelops her body at will. Maria does not understand its nature, but light is light, and light is convenient.

However, her feet stop.

The aura makes no difference. Its light does not penetrate the darkness, which remains impenetrable and inchoate. She simply cannot see past three or so steps inside the cave. There, where something intently watches her.

“Alright, so it’s a magic cave,” she murmurs, her own voice reassuring somehow, even if the words are stupid.

To go in, or to not go in.

That is absolutely not in question.

Aura blazing like a ground-level sun, Maria Westinghouse walks unhesitant into the all-consuming dark.

Again, she feels it immediately. Something intangible, to vague to be liquid, too concrete to be mere wind, washes over her. It strikes her mind as well as her body: it is magical energy; surrounding her, enveloping her, aiming to trap her, until it crashes against her Magic Resistance.

However, it is not negated. It persists, like sharks surrounding the man in the underwater cage. Maria cannot perceive anything else, not even her golden aura, in the utter dark. Her ordinary five senses are sealed, so she can only rely on instinct, on the sensation of magic swirling menacingly around her, and in the wordless cues from the one who is granting her power.

The hostile magic relents on assaulting her, as the unseen caster understands that it will not afflict her. However, it persists in its presence, until Maria feels submerged in a sea of magical power.

“The fuck is this,” she murmurs, but she cannot hear her own words.

It is not her own instinct, but the Servant, Saver’s instinct, that tells her: even if this magic cannot affect her directly, it is still doing something.

Maria’s reaction to the mysterious magic in the dark:



Attack the darkness with my sword!
Shoot an aura slash at the darkness!
Retreat! Retreat!
Do nothing and wait to see what’s up.
Write-in.

Rafflesiac
July 20th, 2018, 10:20 PM
Keyhole sweaters are Good Civilization, so this ever so mysterious woman is also Good Civilization!



Run to the house with the woman.
Shoot
an aura slash
at the darkness!


- - - Updated - - -

well rip that formatting

- - - Updated - - -

Use Sacred Sword Maria, it never misses! Though the choice I picked is more of a Psycho Cut...

Bird of Hermes
July 21st, 2018, 08:43 AM
Javier - Leg it to the house

Maria - Aura Slash!

Spartacus
July 21st, 2018, 09:38 AM
Javier: There is a woman, protag advance to the house!
Maria: The choice is rigged when you have something called AURA SLASH, so AURA SLASH!

SleepMode
July 21st, 2018, 11:49 AM
Javier: Run into the house with the woman.

Maria: ​Aura... Slaaaaaassshhh!

Draconic
July 21st, 2018, 10:02 PM
Well, this is a surprise. Certainly not the first person I’d have expected.

Javier: Write in: Grab the woman, and book it back to the cave. Make sure not to be holding her hand once you find Maria.

Maria: Shoot a magic missile at the darkness!
Ohhhh flash movies. Good times… I can’t believe anyone still even remembers that. What was it called? 8-bit D&D or something?

SpoonyViking
July 22nd, 2018, 08:24 AM
Javier: Run to the house with the woman.
Maria: Aura Slash.

Daneel Rush
July 24th, 2018, 07:50 PM
??????
Day 02
Morning Phase – 03
Severe Cold (-19 °C/-2 °F)

https://i.imgur.com/LP3zzWh.png

Engulfed by darkness, surrounded by hostile magic and a musky, hypermasculine presence that makes her skin stand on end. This violating darkness is a repulsive mental assault that is making her seriously consider lesbianism as a life choice.

Maria trusts Saver’s superb Magic Resistance, but that Skill only protects her from effects directly affecting her. What then, about magic aiming to affect everything around but her?

In these circumstances, what would Saver do? What would Maria Westinghouse do?

Well of course, mow through everything in her way with ludicrous firepower!

The darkness seized her basic five senses—no, the magic does not affect her, so it is more that this magical darkness has erased all stimuli. However, it cannot take away the profound awareness of her borrowed powers in her heart.

She knows her aura is present, even if its manifestation as light is erased by the dark.

Far more than the purposeless bull crap preached at the church, even more than her grandmother’s tales of a distant, unknown Age of Gods; it is this mighty incandescence that makes her a believer. She now accepts with wonder and awe that at one point in the past divinities truly walked this Earth.

For what else could this golden radiance be but divine?

The day before when she first fought the Nazi soldiers, she struck them at range with a blast of air displaced by sheer physical power. She decides to take this a step further while gripping the sword in her right hand, whose weight is still reliable in its presence.

Maria wills the aura to stretch beyond her surroundings, into her sword, as if she had always known how to do this. It is not a Skill, nor is it a Noble Phantasm. To the legendary being that inhabits her body, this is as natural as existing.

“Creep on this, motherfucker!” She shouts even if she cannot hear her own voice.

She has all but forgotten about Javier. She demands power, turns it into radiance, and pumps it into her blade. Then she gives it a silly name…although perhaps she does it precisely because she can’t hear her own voice.

“Auraaa…”

She feels vindicated when a “pulsation” rushes across her mind. She then and there decides that is somebody’s approval, either Saver’s or the sword’s.

“SLAAAAAASH!”

She acts only on the weight of her sword, raising it above her head before slashing the dark in front of her.


https://i.imgur.com/TX5fYEF.jpg

The effect is instantaneous: the world around her rumbles, and a single point of light begins to expand ahead of her, replacing the utter dark with blinding white.

“Fuck yeah! I feel so American right now!”

The darkness is washed away and Maria winces as her senses receive stimulation again and a brief period of sensory overload assaults her brain. Nevertheless, she holds on to her sword, ready and eager to face whatever awaits her in the interior of the cave…

“…huh.”

As the clear image of what lies before her takes shape, she can’t stop herself from going lax and letting her sword rest to her side.

“…unexpected.”

Her exposed skin is singed by chilling wind. Snowflakes fall on her and gently wrap her in white.

She is outside, the uninviting cave entrance some meters in front of her.

“Uh, okay,” she utters while scratching the side of her face. “Kinda underwhelming after all that buildup?”

Yet, that unsettling, creepy presence was still there, watching her; violating her unseen. And it is the fact that it remains, that it has not left after Maria’s defiance, that reduces the possibilities in her mind and establishes a conclusion.

It makes her sigh, as if disappointed at being disappointed.

"I see, I see. So you’re just that kind of loser.”

Whatever this…entity in the cave is, Maria has concluded it will not face her directly.

“Or perhaps you’re just that weak and you can only pull off annoying shit like that?”

However, that left the issue of that strange magecraft. She closed her eyes for a moment, looking into herself, but her (admittedly very lacking) knowledge of the mystical arts could explain that phenomenon. Thus, she relied in the ever-reliable Servant who has borrowed her body.

What she received from Saver were two words.

“…Reality Marble…?”

Maria’s next action:


Chaaaaarge back inside!
Find Javier and report.
Back to the original mission: explore further eastward.
Return to the hostel.
Write-in.

Maria Westinghouse – Profile Updated.


*** ***


Unknown Office, 54 Almirante Montt
Day 02
Morning Phase – 03
Severe Cold (-19 °C/-2 °F)
Snowstorm


Health: Stable
Sustenance: Stable
Warmth: Stable
Stamina: Stable
Magic circuits activated.https://i.imgur.com/C6Ns8oL.png?1 https://i.imgur.com/MCREpkj.png

I am told to move, and moving sounds like a pretty good idea, so I move. As fast as I can, I trudge on the snow, out of the street and into the house, where the woman still watches me with a look of unchanging alarm.

“I, I didn’t mean to move here!” suddenly complains the woman and what I can now admit is a lovely voice.

Wait.

“Wha?”

“They already saw you! Now they’ll just—” She looks out the immense and utterly shattered front window. “They’re already coming here! Aw, fudgenuggets.”

Did she just say fudge—no, wait, wait, wait, wait. Wait.

“You do realize those are…were innocent people, right?” She is looking at me as I had just kicked a puppy.

“Well, yeah. Can’t we just sneak out through the back door?”

“There’s a cliff behind this house! There’s no back door!”

…right. I just came from the top of that cliff. My bad.

Looking around more carefully, we’re not really in a house. The uniformity of the frozen city is already messing with my memory of what this city used to be. These streets are mostly apartment buildings, with small family businesses on the ground floors. This one is no exception: I’m looking at the ruins of what might have been a stationery shop, or some sort of transcription or translation service. A pitiful man remains seated in front of a PC screen, his body encased in ice. A nearby door leads to a room further back, but it is likely the stair access to the upper floors is past one of the neighboring doors outside.

“Uuu…I don’t want to do this…this is all wrong…” whines the woman as she puts on the fingerless gloves with a single gem embedded on the back side of each. Those look like some damn expensive gems.

Well, it looks like we’ve gotta make a stand here, then. In a closed space with an ally; fireballs are out of the question.

The woman is taking point right next to the gaping doorframe. For all her whining, she looks quite ready to pounce on the zombies as they come in. I hafta do my part, so it’s good—

“Ah…”

“Are you alright?”

Well look at this. She was all pouty with me a moment ago, but now she’s all worried.

“It’s nothing. Just stumbled.”

Of course, she doesn’t fall for it, and her forlorn eyes do not leave me.

But this sudden bout of dizziness…Maria’s tapping into my magical power. Guess she’s having her share of trouble. But I don’t think I have a choice here; I, too, have to rely on magecraft. And when it comes to magecraft I can use unnoticed, then it’s gotta be the one spell; the one I’ve practiced the hardest, until I can invoke it with only two words.

The simple, plain magic I’m most confident in.

“Sthūla-Śarīra,” I murmur, as faint as possible to keep it out of the fair lady’s ears.

If spite of further diminishing my magic battery, the dizziness disappears. The lingering coldness that could not be dispelled by just turning on the magic also fades away in its entirety. My body is filled by an ambiguous, general feeling of betterness.

Indeed, it is as simple as that.

This body, this mass of flesh and blood that acts as the vehicle of my consciousness, has become better.

I stand upright, emboldened by the wellness bolstering my body, hoping a confident mien will convince the woman and ease her worry. And there is also…

“I don’t like this whole situation at all. First, I want to make it out of this alive, then I can think about giving the dead their proper rest.”

The woman’s sigh says she clearly doesn’t like it, but she is not insensate nor suicidal. In a ritual of sorts, she kisses the glove in her left hand.

“Anna minulle voimaa.”

And then she whispers in a language I don’t understand.

Wait. If we’re going to fight for our lives…

“Javier, by the way.”

Her tense smile carries a tinge of remorse, as if apologizing for not being able to smile more brightly.

“Sakura.”

Javier’s Positioning for this Encounter:


Stand behind the doorframe together with Sakura.
Stand behind the large window frame, across the room from Sakura.
Charge back outside and face the zombies outdoors.
Write-in.

Sthūla-Śarīra
The theosophical denomination for the physical body, that which is perceived by the five senses; the first and lowest of the seven principles of the human existence. In the orthodox theosophical system of thaumaturgy, it is their specific version of Reinforcement, originally developed by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. Javier’s merit lies in that he developed it independently, without instruction by another theosophist.

“Occultism tells us that every atom, like the monad of Leibnitz, is a little universe in itself; and that every organ and cell in the human body is endowed with a brain of its own, with memory, therefore, experience and discriminative powers. The idea of Universal Life composed of individual atomic lives is one of the oldest teachings of esoteric philosophy.”
—H. P. Blavatsky

It is not merely enhancing a body’s strength and durability; it is tapping into the body’s “cellular memory”, urging it to look back on everything it has done to that point, and correct any previous errors to optimize physical performance. It is grounding the body into observable reality, enhancing its “physicality”, bringing it closer to the World, and thus boosting its resistance to foreign magical effects. However, that same “enhancement of physicality” also pulls the magus way from the mystical. Unless the magus is a master of the orthodox theosophical system (which Javier is anything but), while using this spell the magus cannot use any other magecraft. However, its efficiency is nigh-unparalleled, especially if the magus focuses the spell on a specific part of the body’s anatomy or physiology. On the other hand, the spell being so effective can be a double-bladed sword, to a degree that the magus has to be careful not to destroy their own muscles, bones or internal organs by making themselves too strong.

On another note, in the hands of a true master this spell can achieve even more, allowing for the enviable feat of defeating the passage of time and remaining an eternal loli (!?).Javier Lucero – Profile Updated.

Rafflesiac
July 24th, 2018, 08:28 PM
Chaaaaarge back inside!
Stand behind the large window frame, across the room from Sakura.

SpoonyViking
July 24th, 2018, 09:48 PM
Maria: Find Javier and report.
Javier: Stand together with Sakura.

Spartacus
July 24th, 2018, 09:54 PM
Maria: Charge back inside
Javier: Stand together with Sakura

SleepMode
July 25th, 2018, 04:46 AM
Maria: Find Javier and report.
Javier: Stand together with Sakura.

Bird of Hermes
July 25th, 2018, 07:44 AM
Maria: I’m going to meta a little and have her report back because after all with Javier...
Javier: Stand together with Sakura! It’s the protagonist choice after all.

Draconic
July 26th, 2018, 04:12 PM
Maria’s next action:

Find Javier and report.


Javier’s Positioning for this Encounter:

Do our command seals recharge like in Grand Order, or do we only get 3? (Actually, did we even get command seals?) Anyway, if we did and they recharge:
Write-in: Call Maria to our position.
It'll save time, and we can head back to the cave immediately with minimal difficulty.

My alternative choice would be:
Stand behind the doorframe together with Sakura, however I'm really going to push for this one.

Daneel Rush
July 27th, 2018, 08:26 PM
Unknown Office, 54 Almirante Montt
Day 02
Morning Phase – 04
Severe Cold (-19 °C/-2 °F)
Snowstorm

Health: Stable
Sustenance: Stable
Warmth: Stable
Stamina: Stable
Magic circuits activated.

https://i.imgur.com/C6Ns8oL.png?1 https://i.imgur.com/MCREpkj.png

I briskly cross the width of the room, pushing my back against the wall while standing next to the woman—Sakura.

“Did you see them?” she asks in a whisper, and I can only shake my head. Out the window I only saw ceaselessly falling snow. However, they must be close.

We stay there, unmoving, regulating our breath. I’m a little embarrassed by how nervous this is making me feel, but things are the way they are: I am a peaceful man. I’ve never been in a fight.

There is no sound but the chilling wind. Where the hell are they?

Sakura looks at me. She’s probably thinking the same thing.

They are outside. They are waiting for us to step out.

They are doing the exact same thing we are.

Can we afford to stay here forever? Of course not. But, Maria will come look for me sooner or later; hopefully sooner. However, can I really—!

“Saku—!”

They were faster.

A single arm shot in like a viper lunging around the open doorframe, closing its fingers on the neck of Sakura’s clothes. She yelps, and with that single sound she is pulled out of the house and out of my sight.

What the fuck.

What the fuck!?

They weren’t only copying our plan; they were hiding just like us: behind the doorframe, but on the outside!

How did they know?

How did they know!?

I desperately look around me, but of course there isn’t anything like a camera, you fucking idiot.

“Sakur—oof!”

And of course, the moment I rush out to help Sakura I am tackled by the other one. I barely feel the fall, because adrenaline takes over.

I kick.

I kick, and lash, and fling my arms because right now I’m not thinking; there is a fucking zombie straddling me and it’s also flinging its arms and now it opens its mouth and reaches down to bite and fuck that shit!

I wince when my fist makes contact with the left side of its jaw; my hand palpitates as if swollen. Fuck, punching people sucks. But I’m zombie-free, so I better get up!

I’m up. For a moment there I forgot I used magi—magecraft. I am better. My punch was unskilled, but it was strong. Even the act of getting back on my feet was made faster and more efficient. The undead takes much longer to stand back up, making no sound, not even some cliché guttural zombie sound.

This thing probably doesn’t feel pain.

Wait, where’s Sakura—what the hell, Sakura!?

I’m not even into wrestling, but I know the name of that move. She’s seated on the zombie’s back, with its arms across her generous thighs, locked by the crooks of her knees, and she’s leaning back, hands interlocked under the zombie’s chin, pulling it along with her and applying pressure to his neck and back.

It’s a camel clutch.

Sakura’s gotten the zombie in a camel clutch. No, wait; she’s also hooked the zombie’s legs under her armpits. Does that get a special name?

The zombie makes no expression, but I can see Sakura’s face reddened by the exertion, blood vessels bulging, eyes reddened by blood, muscles taut by the powerful hold.

Yet, there is no desperation in her expression. This is no ridiculous last-ditch effort, or a spontaneous burst of madness. It is the focused concentration of a professional who knows exactly what she is doing and giving it her all at it.

…holy shit, she’s kind of cool.

And the zombie’s charging at me.

I’m faster. I sidestep it like a bullfighter, and the undead stumbles all the way into the house, crashing on a desk and all but smashing its face on the PC user’s ice coffin.

I’m faster, and the zombie can’t keep up or anticipate my moves.

My heart still pumps fast, and the awareness of the imminent danger makes my hairs stand on end, but my mind is calm now. This is it; the true blessing that came with studying magecraft.

Anyway, whatever ability that allowed yesterday’s zombie to dodge my fireball, either this zombie doesn’t have it, or it is not based on mindreading or precognition.

…hell, even my thoughts feel faster when I use Sthūla-Śarīra. I love this spell so much; it’s almost unfair.

Now, what do I do? Does punching or kicking even do anything to these walking dead? How do you kill a zombie?

No, this isn’t Hollywood. The way to stop these undead for good is obvious.

I have to break its body until it just stops moving.

My stomach twists in revulsion. It is the part of me that keeps whispering “this used to be an innocent citizen of Valparaiso.” It is a good part, a human part. It is the part that will allow me to move on with my life when this nightmare is over.

But there is no hope left for these monsters. There is no “dezombifying” them. Even if there is, the result would just be a dead body.

I won’t die here, feeling sorry about these poor souls.

I’m not a very religious man, but I promise to pray for each and every single one of you when this is over.

“Mi-Mister Javier!”

I don’t need to ask why Sakura’s is calling out to me. I can see them just as well.

Two more undead, approaching from downhill.

Fuck this shit.

Think. Fast.

Those two newcomers are trudging through the snow at a rather leisurely pace, so we’ve got some time. But I need to deal with these zombies right now.

How to deal with zombies:


Take the sturdiest object I can find and bash its head until it stops twitching. In case of lacking a sufficiently sturdy object, use fists.
Join Sakura and whale on her zombie together.
Try using fireball one more time. Third’s the charm or something. (Note: Be reminded that using another spell means ending Sthūla-Śarīra.)
Fight a defensive retreat until Maria finds us.
Write-in.






*** ***


Beyond Their Sight—02

https://i.imgur.com/LP3zzWh.png

Maria Westinghouse is seated on the white blanket covering Valparaiso. Uncaring of the chill caressing her legs, she rests an elbow on her knee and her head on that hand. Her lower jaw is jerked to one side, turning her face into a somewhat ugly grimace.

“Ugh…I give up.”

After several minutes of deep meditation (?), she has come to a conclusion.

“I have no idea!” she says with a smile, as if coming to an answer, any answer, were relieving enough. With a pointless grunt, she jumps back on her feet.

“You win this time, creepy-ass cave!” she declares. “But I shall return! And I will reveal all your secrets and loot all your treasures! So you damn better have some treasures for me!”

Of course, she receives no response. Only that lingering, libidinous presence roaming every inch of her body.

“Oh whatever. Adios!”

Like some fantasy ninja, she is gone, in the vague direction she assumes she will be able to find Javier.

The whole time Maria was there, she never noticed the Servant watching her every movement from a distance. She did not really need to be there, watching in person, but her curiosity got the better of her.

“An amusing girl,” she murmurs, in a voice that Javier Lucero would have recognized. “It must be nice, being able to live so freely and spontaneously. I’m almost murderously envious.”

Her words carry an unconcealable tinge of mockery that makes it hard to assess their honesty.

She then turns her attention to the deep darkness that is the mouth of the cave. To her good fortune, the being in that cave cannot perceive her presence.

“Nope,” she says, shaking her head for good measure. “Nope, nope, nope. Nope. I don’t need common sense to know that cave’s bad news. Not going there. Can’t make me.”

Planting a hand on her slim waist, the girl of fairest skin sighs and looks in the direction Maria departed with something like a fond smile.

“But, Javier keeps finding allies. Kinda unfair. I wanted to see a solo fight! Man versus zombie, mano a mano! So disappointing.”

Turning her back to the cave and to the road leading to Javier and Sakura, the youthful Servant placidly walks away and towards the frozen ocean. Anyone who looks at her would find her an odd sight: a clearly lovely girl, her lithe body of inestimable delicateness, pristine like an ideal pearl. Yet, what she wears to cover her body is a single rag; a filthy thing that ceased to be white ages ago. The contrast of the girl of immaculate skin and the deplorably dirty piece of linen cloth is too striking, too wrong somehow.

“Looks like they might hold on until Maria arrives to save them. But, my poor Javier, that will only make things harder for you.”

She continues talking to nobody in particular. Perhaps she very much likes the sound of her admittedly lovely voice. Perhaps she can’t stand the vast monotony of the city entrapped in ice and cold. Or perhaps she is just that lonely.

“After all, how long do you think you can keep your association with Maria a secret?”

Resting the back of her head in her hands, the Servant looked up at the grey skies. A lone zombie walked past her as if completely unaware of her presence. When a single snowflake fell on the tip of her nose, she giggled.

“Oh, what to do, what to do…keeping Javier a secret could get me in trouble with Master, and Master is scary. But if Javier and Maria get killed and everything goes the Boss’ way, well…that would be boring. Ah, decisions, decisions…”

She stopped suddenly, as if those last words had triggered a switch in her. Eyes widening in realization, her arms slowly dropped limp to her sides, even as her lips stretching into a broad smile.

“Ah, I see, I see…!”

Whatever realization brought laughter and delight. She jumped on the snow like an excited child and pirouette like a ballerina, merrily laughing the whole time. The zombie some meters away still did not pay her any heed.

“I see…! So this! This, is what it means to live!”

Her dainty steps became a merry trot upon reaching Errázuriz Avenue, with the hills to her left and the frozen sea to the right, as she crossed the very spot where Maria had engaged Rider the day before. Turning right towards her favorite place in that dead city, the lively Servant laughed her way across the harbor to its very edge, until there was nothing but frozen ocean in front of her. A lone cargo ship groaned in the distance, slowly crushed by encroaching ice.

“Let’s both do our best at living, Javier Lucero.”

You can now explore Chivato’s Cave.

Rafflesiac
July 27th, 2018, 08:54 PM
2. Join Sakura and whale on her zombie together.

Freeing up Sakura will help our odds in combat. Also the partially unwrapped Godiva is Assassin, I assume. And everyone is against Maria for some reason? The thot plickens...

Spartacus
July 27th, 2018, 09:10 PM
The first choice sounds like the cliched thing a zombie apocalypse movie will do, so:

1. Take the sturdiest object I can find and bash its head until it stops twitching. In case of lacking a sufficiently sturdy object, use fists.

Also, it's not isekai without harem

SpoonyViking
July 28th, 2018, 11:50 AM
2 - Help Sakura with her zombie.

Bird of Hermes
July 28th, 2018, 12:32 PM
Javier SMASH!

1). Take the sturdiest object I can find and bash its head until it stops twitching. In case of lacking a sufficiently sturdy object, use fists.

SleepMode
July 28th, 2018, 11:40 PM
Javier: 2) Join Sakura and perform a Team Attack.

Draconic
July 28th, 2018, 11:49 PM
1. Take the sturdiest object I can find and bash its head until it stops twitching. In case of lacking a sufficiently sturdy object, use fists.

Sakura probably won’t like it if we don’t show that we’re confident in her ability to fight her own battles. Also, Maria’s on her way back. There are merits to her finding Sakura on top of us, but they would take time that we don’t have.

Daneel Rush
July 31st, 2018, 07:23 PM
Just so you know, there is a tie. I'll wait another day before I turn to the good ol' coin toss.

34
July 31st, 2018, 11:59 PM
2 - Whale on her zombie together

Daneel Rush
August 2nd, 2018, 06:41 PM
Almirante Montt Street
Day 02
Morning Phase – 05
Severe Cold (-18 °C/-0.5 °F)
Snowfall

Health: Stable
Sustenance: Stable
Warmth: Stable
Stamina: Stable
Magic circuits activated.
Sthūla-Śarīra in effect.https://i.imgur.com/C6Ns8oL.png?1 https://i.imgur.com/MCREpkj.png

Sakura.

She’s got her zombie immobilized, so let’s whale on it until it drops, then take on this one together, hopefully faster than those two can make it here.

“Saku—!” I manage to voice as I turn towards her—

Crack.

It’s a chilling sound. Muted, blunt, so very fucking real.

Sakura shrieks and jumps backwards and away from the zombie, but that’s not a problem. It lies prone and face-down; only its head moves. And when its eyes find me and fixate on me, the bizarre image brings my mind to a halt for a moment.

It gasps and bites and the air, shaking its head as if trying to pull itself forward to attack me, but its body cannot respond.

Sakura broke its neck, and its entire body from the neck down has stopped working.

Whatever it is that allowed these dead people to keep functioning, it relies on a functional spine.

What the hell are these “zombies”?

“Mister Javier!”

My everything is better. That includes my response to dire warnings and my reaction time.

I do not think. I just throw myself into the snow to the side, and the second zombie again rushes past like a charging bull, barely missing my back. Again, whatever power allowed yesterday’s zombie to dodge my fireball did not help this zombie predict my own dodge. What is the difference? Was that zombie just special?

The undead has nothing to crash into this time, except Sakura. But this young woman, scared as she is, is a pro at this. A moment later, this one too is caught in Sakura’s grip, one of her arms wrapped around its head from behind while the other seizes its trunk almost like a bear hug.

“I’m terribly sorry,” she whispers before brutally twisting its neck like something out of an action movie. Holy fucking shit.

My feelings must be visible on my face, because the moment our eyes meet she releases something like a whimper, drops the broken body like a sack of potatoes and looks away.

“Ah, um, I…”

Dropped shoulders, hand fiddling—nope. No, no, no.

You don’t just break a zombie’s neck and then act all bashful about it. It doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t work like that!

Also, watch out, it’s still trying to bite your ankle.

Sakura shrieks again as she hops away from the zombie by her feet. As for me, I’m more worried about the two very mobile undead closing in on us. The thick layer of snow on the street slows their approach, but it would make our attempt to escape just as slow.

“Ah, my bag…”

Seriously?

“Wanna wait for them inside again?”

Sakura expectedly frowns.

“But, if we go inside, they…”

That’s right.

The first two somehow knew where we were standing inside, and prepared an ambush accordingly. A second attempt at ambushing might just result in a second counter-ambush.

So, it looks like we make our stand right where we are…even if Sakura’s groaning to herself.

A person who doesn’t like to fight, despite fighting like a boss.

Must be tough (sarcasm).

“Zombie says wha’!?”

“Eh? Wha-what?” Sakura’s startled by the sudden, new voice. I’ll just roll my eyes over here—what the fuck, Maria!?


https://i.imgur.com/TX5fYEF.jpg

Some fucking light…energy…thing just flew past the space between Sakura and I, right before smashing into one of the incoming undead. Whatever vocal complain I had in mind is smothered by the blinding whiteness that follows the impact. I can’t look down on Sakura for shrieking at this: it’s like staring at the fucking sun.

“So, wassup?” I hear Maria suddenly by my side. “Besides zombies, I mean.”

“I’m fucking blind, Maria. Is this what you’re using my magic power for?”

“Yup. Isn’t it the coolest thing?”

“Beat the other one the normal way, please.”

“I don’t wanna be a grownup like you.”

“You’re already a grownup!”

“Ehehe, I’m a grownup, he says—wait. Javier; have you been checking me out?”

“Maria!”

I must insist that this entire exchange takes place while I still am fucking blind. Ah, right, my sight has also been made better, so my sensitivity…goddammit, Maria.

A hand lands on my shoulder, and it is far more relieving than I could imagine.

“Thank you, Sakura.”

“Oh, come on!” Maria shouts from a distance ahead, hopefully while dealing with the last zombie. “How the fuck do you know it’s not me!? Are you saying my hands aren’t soft!?”

What the hell is that idiot rambling over there.

“Can you see already?” I ask of Sakura even as she seems to be trying to support me on her shoulder.

“Yes. It’s alright—”

Something explodes. It is deafening, and heart-clenching, and a blast of cold wind and snow sprays my body.

I no longer feel Sakura’s hand on me, and the lack of visual awareness brings my heartrate back up. My chest hurts from nervousness and exertion, far more than when I was fighting the undead.

The unknown is terrifying.

“What’s going on!?” I hear myself shouting, all the while blinking heavily. The first thing I see being white snow does in no way help my recovering vision.

“It’s fuckin’ Archer—ah-gaaah!” Maria’s voice is drowned in a staccato of explosions like a mortar barrage.

I can recognize pain.

“Maria!”

“Archer!?” Sakura’s turn to shout. “Like Servant Archer!?”

“You think—ugh, I’m just a lunatic with a sword, or wha—!?”

It’s like I have stepped blindfolded into a minefield, and I’m standing on the only safe spot while every single mine is blowing up around me. But is it really?

Am I really safe?

I feel myself being thrown to the side.

My ears then groan in agony as a sequence of explosions strikes them from way too close for comfort. I might have screamed, but it’s impossible to hear anything but explosions. Something sticks painfully into my back, perhaps a shard of brick or broken glass.

A second person and I roll two or three times…ah.

I can see again.

I see the ceiling of the small business where this whole mess started, the frozen PC user, and the crown of Sakura’s head as she is half-pressed against me. There is most certainly quite the amazing body beneath those thick clothes.

The explosions do not cease; one after the other, traveling down the street.

“Maria—”

“She is getting away,” Sakura interrupts, getting back on her feet faster than even myself.

Wait, it’s suddenly frigging cold…oh.

I did not even realize when my magic shut down. I lost focus back there. I think I can live without Sthūla-Śarīra now that the zombies are dealt with, but I’ve still gotta fight the weather. It’s bad enough that my clothes are wet from all the rolling in the snow and crap.

“If she stays here, we’ll be caught in the barrage.”

“Is she—” I look outside, but I can only see the irregular craters of at least a dozen impacts on the street we were just standing, as if Almirante Montt had been carpet-bombed by rather small ordnance. No, the front wall of the building we’re inside of is already ominously cracked. It might be dangerous to stay in here much longer.

Maria is fighting against the one doing this?

Bu-but, she’s just an idiot with a sword.

“Is she okay?”

Sakura averts her eyes. Why is she doing that?

“Sakura, is she okay?” My voice is more insistent this time. It no longer sounds like a plea, and the dark-haired girl takes a step backward. Now she is looking at me cautiously; really, do I look that scary?

I’m not threatening you, girl. I just need to know.

“She…has already taken several wounds.”

My feet manage to take exactly two steps before my mind catches up with them.

I have to…help her? Why?

Well, because I don’t like the idea of the only person I know who can possible end this mess dying.

How?

…I don’t know.

How can I help her? What can I do to help her against a legend brought into existence?

I’m sure she is aware of it. Probably more deeply than even myself. It is the one thing we didn’t talk about last night. The one question we both carefully avoided.

She has been gifted with awesome, supernatural prowess. Strength, speed, reflexes, agility, toughness; she’s got it all.

But, that’s it.

That’s everything she’s got.

Servants are heroes and monsters from history and myth.

She’s just a super-powerful girl with a sword.

Anybody can see the difference.

It’s not that I have to help her. It’s just that she needs help.

I don’t know what I can do about it. But I have to do something. Anything.

I could even screw up and doom us both. But, dammit, I have to at least try.

“I have to find her—”

“No.”

This time, I only get to take one step.

Sakura didn’t physically stop me. She just opened her mouth and said a single word. Yet, the word stopped me.

She’s no longer acting cowed by my demanding words, nor embarrassed by her badass wrestling moves. She is not quite the pillar of reliability that only shows up when she’s in action, but she is looking at me straight in the face.

“I must ask you to come with me,” she says, the firmness in her tone and uncharacteristically-hardened expression not matching the respectfulness of her words.

“If you are a Master in a Holy Grail War, then you know more about this situation than I do.”

A valid, albeit mistaken, assumption.

“So I must ask you to come with me and tell me everything.”

If I hadn’t seen her break the necks of two zombies with her bare hands, I might have even made fun of her for her tough act. But, things being the way they are, I can’t just ignore her and go after Maria.

After all, beating up zombies together does in no way make us friends.


Health: Stable
Sustenance: Stable
Warmth: Poor (wet clothes)
Stamina: Stable

Javier will reactivate his Magic circuits on the next scene to avoid Critical levels of Warmth.
Minor scratches.Javier’s next action:


Leave Sakura. Go after Maria.
Leave Sakura. Return to the Hostel.
Go along with Sakura. For now.
Try to convince Sakura to help Maria together.
Try to convince Sakura to go to the Hostel together.
Write-in (You may propose minor actions to complement any of the above choices as well).


There are two “official Nasuverse” characters in this Quest. You have found the first one.

Draconic
August 2nd, 2018, 08:05 PM
4. Try to convince Sakura to help Maria together.
+6. Also, ask TohsSakura what she knows about what's going on.

Rafflesiac
August 2nd, 2018, 08:09 PM
Leave Sakura to go after Maria, but tell her you can talk afterwards.

Also crud, I should've voted to bludgeon the zombie, we still don't have that Hero's Proof yet.

Draconic
August 3rd, 2018, 11:23 PM
Chances are we would have gotten a skill gem. Zombies drop those more often than proof of heros in my experience.

SpoonyViking
August 3rd, 2018, 11:32 PM
Leave Sakura to go after Maria, but tell her you can talk afterwards.

Agreed.

Bird of Hermes
August 4th, 2018, 11:25 AM
Leave Sakura to go after Maria, but tell her you can talk afterwards.

Also crud, I should've voted to bludgeon the zombie, we still don't have that Hero's Proof yet.
Seconded, anyways we can make time to smash stuff later.

SleepMode
August 4th, 2018, 11:32 AM
Leave Sakura to go after Maria, but tell her you can talk afterwards.

Also crud, I should've voted to bludgeon the zombie, we still don't have that Hero's Proof yet.

+1

34
August 4th, 2018, 12:35 PM
Leave Sakura to go after Maria, but tell her you can talk afterwards.
I have a bad feeling about this Tohsakura, but let's just go with this choice for now
+1

Draconic
August 4th, 2018, 01:12 PM
I have this weird feeling that we're aiming for a Tiger Dojo here?

Fortunately if anyone dies, we have a save point.

Daneel Rush
August 7th, 2018, 11:15 PM
54 Almirante Montt
Day 02
Morning Phase – 06
Severe Cold (-17 °C/1.5 °F)
Snowfall


Health: Stable
Sustenance: Stable
Warmth: Poor (Wet clothes) -> Critical

Stamina: Stablehttps://i.imgur.com/C6Ns8oL.png?1 https://i.imgur.com/MCREpkj.png

I, too, would like to talk at length with this Sakura. She knows about Servants and Holy Grails, so she might be able to add to Maria’s information. Anything else we can learn about this crazy situation could prove useful in the future.

The staccato of explosions has stopped, but it merely feels like a lull in the midst of madness; the eye of the storm. They call the Servant “Archer”, but are those really arrows he is firing? Every impact feels like a mortar explosion, and I don’t see arrows stuck on the ground, only craters.

Anyway, I have to go. To do exactly what? I don’t know, but I can’t leave Maria alone against this, this frightening thing.

It just, doesn’t feel right anymore.

So, this conversation will have to wait.

“We can talk later if you’d like, but now I have to help Maria.”

Sakura frowns, and I get the annoying feeling I am missing something. But there’s really no time; Archer’s attack has begun again; the sounds of bombardment smashing buildings and concrete can be heard towards the coast.

I turn away from Sakura; I hafta leave this building and find Maria.

“Um, thanks for the help out there. Let’s talk later—”

I’m not quite sure what happened next, but my body is suddenly lurching forward, face on a course collision towards the floor. My heart skips a beat, and my arms stretch forward to catch my fall, but it is a different arm that loops around my neck and catches my chin on the crook of the elbow. I don’t get to react: another hand pushes my neck and head against that crook; the elbows are pushed together, the pressure from both arms squeezing my neck and compressing the carotids; a pair of legs hooks around my own, limiting my movement even as my vision goes hazy and my mind becomes numb.

Fuck…she’s too good…can’t…

“My deepest apologies, Mister Javier,” she whispers in my ear. “But I was not precisely asking.”

Oh, fuck your manners…Saku…

Javier is unconscious.

*** ***

https://i.imgur.com/LP3zzWh.png

“FUUUUUUUUUUUUU—fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!”

It has to be pointed out at this point that Maria Westinghouse was not always so prone to swearing. It’s just that she’s the kind of girl who truly lets herself go upon leaving her parents’ nest.

That aside, right now she is in considerable pain. So, she curses and runs like a terrified dog, because the alternative would be to curl down and cry, and in Maria’s words, fuck that shit. She runs, even with arrows the size of swords piercing her left thigh, left buttock, spleen, right arm and right shoulder. She runs, because if she stops she’ll wonder how she’s still alive, and she fears that awareness will make her drop dead on the spot.

She runs away.

She flees.

The bombardment comes from behind. She cannot see the attacker, and even if she turned to face the barrage, she can’t keep up with it. So, she flees, running without thinking, until she sees nothing but frozen ocean ahead of her, and thus remembers that there are directions other than forward, leading to a newfound awareness of cover being a thing.

She puts a long three-story building between herself and the general direction of attack, hoping it will protect her, even while a part of her fears the arrows will just pierce through both brick and her heart unhindered.

Something washes off her body when the barrage comes to a halt. An infimal piece of her mind fears she just wet herself, but that is not the case. As she becomes aware that she is out of Archer’s sight, she just falls on hands and knees and cries.

As soon as the body stops moving, the mind starts working, and she hates it, for the mind only projects unwanted thoughts.

It hurts.

I’m afraid.

I can’t do this.

There is no golden radiance to make her feel almighty, and the facemask no longer feels badass, just stifling.

Her mouth twists and contorts as she flips between panting, sobbing, cursing and clenching her teeth.

There is pain, and fear, and frustration, and fathomless self-hatred, but in the midst of all that, a single voice speaks.

Move.

It might not have been her own voice. It matters not.

Maria Westinghouse stands up.

Then she stumbles.

Then she covers her face to mute her scream when her backside—or rather, the arrows jutting out of it—hit the façade of the Driving School Valparaiso.

Maria Westinghouse has discovered the feeling of metal grinding against bone.

She does not even remember pulling out the arrows; when her mind ceases to be all white she’s again on her hands and knees, looking at her blood taken in by the snow. The arrows that should have been discarded disappeared upon leaving her body, like products of Projection rejected by the World.

Maria feels feeble. She feels the fragility of her life, which could’ve been snuffed by a single of those arrows. It is not her skills that keep her alive, nor is it her luck, for she has neither of those things.

Again, in the midst of her pain, fear, and self-deprecation, a voice speaks.

Move.

Closing her hand around a fistful of blood-soaked snow, Maria grits her teeth and pulls herself up through the pain. There are holes in her body. Snow and wind seeps inside them and chill her from within. She stumbles again, but manages to rest her back on the wall a second time. There are no more arrows sticking to her, so it’s fine this time. Nonetheless, a quiet whine escapes her lips.

It feels like a struggle to just raise her head and look up at the grey sky. Her body, her very human body, pleads her to give up. It makes her question why she is even there, what pulled her away from the home that feels so distant now.

When she starts thinking she might never see her home and her family again, a different setting in her brain kicks into high gear. Demanding more blood and oxygen, both her heart rate and breathing pace rise, and the ache in her body is smothered by an acute headache.

It is better. Sharp pain also sharpens her mind.

It is perhaps for that reason that she catches the sound.

With an obstacle blocking line of sight, Archer has switched to blind-firing in an arc. What began as a rapid-fire barrage has now become carpet bombing.

There is no time to even curse: arrows fall like rain on the street, numbers reaching into the hundreds. Snow and concrete are torn apart and blasted away, and Maria watches this from inside the same building she used as cover, even as the sea-facing side of its structure is torn apart by the indiscriminate attack.

Watching the bombardment pricks her brain in a not-entirely-unfamiliar way. There is something about the overwhelming barrage of projectiles; a pattern she has not recognized even after experiencing it three times, probably because she has been busy getting her butt kicked by it.

But there is no time to dwell on that. Maria knows that, as soon as Archer realizes she has not darted out from either side, the obvious conclusion will be that she is either dead or inside the building.

However, there is another option. Her brain has already reviewed the entire sequence of events from the beginning of Archer’s attack. Even if she was running for her life, her brain captured the path she followed in her desperation. So, she remembers the unique layout of this building.


https://i.imgur.com/ItnQNPD.jpg

The wide three-story building is merely the base of a leaner, much taller tower. This was the obstacle that blocked Archer’s sight and forced the switch from targeted barrage to widespread bombardment. And the presence of this obstacle opens a few options to her.

Archer’s out to get Maria. Her life may depend on this next move:


Dash back the way I came. Return to Javier and devise a plan together.
Dash out in the direction opposite from whence I came. No idea what’s over there, but anywhere is better than here.
Hurry to the top of the building, and try to catch sight of Archer from a tall spot.
Avoid the streets. Make my way uphill by breaking through walls, buildings, and entire blocks, and climb if I have to. If Archer’s at the top of this hill, I could catch them off guard in this way.
Write-in.

SpoonyViking
August 7th, 2018, 11:31 PM
Hmmm... 3 feels like suicide, but maybe 1 is too cautious? Maybe we should be a bit more daring?
Frakk it, let's try 4.

Rafflesiac
August 7th, 2018, 11:35 PM
I suspected that Sakura would attack Javier. Wasn't expecting her to be so successful though, RIP. Also I foresee a Dead End coming up, oh joy. 4 is more rational, so I pick 3.

Hurry to the top of the building, and try to catch sight of Archer from a tall spot.

Rafflesiac
August 8th, 2018, 12:37 PM
Oh yeah, can Javier and Maria talk to each other telepathically (obviously not now)? Also no Command Spells come to think of it. Might be because of the botched summoning.

Bird of Hermes
August 8th, 2018, 04:02 PM
Might end up backfiring and getting a dead end. But that said,

3

SleepMode
August 8th, 2018, 05:42 PM
I'm going for the rational choice,

- 4

Daneel Rush
August 9th, 2018, 09:07 PM
We have a tie. I like ties. I like it more when ties are resolved.

SpoonyViking
August 9th, 2018, 09:30 PM
How do we do that? Thunderdome?

Spartacus
August 9th, 2018, 10:53 PM
If we talking about Archer class, aren't getting a sight of him means he get the sight of us too?

So, I go with 4

Daneel Rush
August 14th, 2018, 01:08 AM
Drivers’ School Valparaiso, Melgarejo 59
Day 02
Morning Phase – 07
Severe Cold (-15 °C/5 °F)
Snowfall

https://i.imgur.com/LP3zzWh.png

The bombardment comes to an end, and the orchestra of explosions gives way to an ominous silence. Snow dust glitters flimsily in the air, mocking in its silvery-white beauty.

Maria Westinghouse dodged this one by escaping into the nearest building, but that won’t work a second time. By placing herself in Archer’s shoes, she understands that this building is the obvious next target. She has to move.

She considers climbing the building, hoping to catch a glimpse of Archer’s sniping location from a tall spot. The Servant of the Bow’s ability to attack from out of sight makes for a good part of their intimidatory factor. The fact that she has no way to fight back is the most unsettling thing of all. However, she changes her mind. Even if her current position can be deduced, the fact remains that, at the moment, she too is out of Archer’s sight.

She has to make the most of it while it lasts.

So, she tears through the building in a straight line. Her sword slices through walls like they’re made of cobwebs, until she finds herself outside on the opposite side. She catches a glimpse of brass letters telling her the building she just tore through is called Nautilus, but by the time her mind has processed that information, she has already crossed the street and broken through the wall of the next building. Inside, she rips through metal shelves and reams of books and folders, as she crosses what she’d guess is some sort of public office.

She catches the sounds of explosions behind her; Archer is barraging the poor, innocent Nautilus building. She wants to smirk at the success of her plan, but her thoughts go to the people inside that building, trapped in coffins of ice and unable to escape the doom Archer is about to bestow upon them. It makes her grit her teeth and curse at her own fear.

She, Maria Westinghouse, is the only one who can oppose them. She is the only one who can stop them. She doesn’t get the privilege of surrendering to fear and pain.

She reminds herself that she has a reason not to give up.

The snow does not slow her. She is a single-person stampede. Maria breaks through and past the Internal Revenue Service and the regional government building in less than fifteen seconds; long before the first pieces of the Nautilus building hit the snowy ground and neighboring structures. If she turned to the right and advanced one block, she would reach the place where she found Javier and the big-boobed girl, but that’s not her plan. Instead, she crashes into the door of the next building before her eyes—a hotel this time—aware that on the other side she’ll find a vertical wall of rock.

Another ten seconds later, she is running upwards, defying all standards of human athleticism and the very force of gravity. Thus far, the very same buildings she has rampaged through have acted as cover from Archer’s hawk-like perception. The rock wall she is “climbing” also keeps her out of sight. However, she does not know what she will find at the top of this wall.

She reaches the top with a mighty leap, ready for anything.


https://i.imgur.com/kTnmeg9.jpg?1

The sudden change in scenery startles her for a second too long.

“Shit!”

A moment later, she throws herself under the roof of the nearest mausoleum.

“Shit!”

She is in a graveyard.

“Shit!”

She is lamenting the lack of tall structures.

“Shit!”

If Archer’s watching from an even higher spot, it will be hard to stay out of sight. However, at this point, she can only push forward. The rampage is over. The time has come for stealth.

She will hate every second of it.

Surrounded by dirty white, by Christian crosses and marble, she begins a slow, cautious slog through this cemetery on the hill. She has to keep herself hunched down, laying low, sometimes as far as fully prone, to exploit every single low wall, monument and tombstone.

The first thing she notices is the complete absence of, well, anything else. The one place where one would expect the undead suffers from a surprising lack of zombies. The other thing she does not see are humans encased in ice; not a single mourner visiting a grave, no grave keepers or anybody else. Trapped in the singularity of ice and snow, the whole city of Valparaiso was wrapped in a mantle of emptiness and cold stillness. Maria’s heart clenched in childish trepidation as this feeling was exacerbated in this garden of the dead.

Maria’s slow advance comes to a stop. She will expose herself too much if she stays in her current path. Carefully raising her head for a better look, she notices the many leafless branches of a great tree on the adjacent passage—an olive, perhaps? —and a mausoleum just before it. The elegant but aged structure has a low ceiling, suggesting that it houses only a single coffin, or that most of its volume extends below ground level. In either case, it makes for decent cover. Therefore, she crawls.

“I’d kill for a cardboard box right now,” she mutters. “then I would be unstoppable.”

It takes her about as much as it took her to reach the cemetery from the Nautilus building to crawl a mere five meters. She is slow, too slow, her heart accelerated at the thought of arrows raining on her prone form at any moment. But, she eventually reaches the corner, and slowly gets back on her feet. She is aware she will be exposed for a moment as she crosses the handful of meters to the mausoleum, but there is no better route. So, she takes the first step of the swiftest dash…until her eyes meet a second pair of eyes.

A still form stares at her own just as still.

Maria skips a beat, but it is only the suddenness of the meeting that startles her. Then, her mind begins to run a mile a second.

Is this meeting a good thing at this precise moment?

A familiar Servant still stares at her, seemingly brought out of her sleep at the base of the tree by Maria’s arrival.

https://i.imgur.com/kk5FFFX.png

Then she realizes her mistake.

She did not complete her dash.

She is still exposed.

Choice? There is no choice. Therefore, it is the easiest choice.

Maria Westinghouse makes the fastest decision of her lifetime.


https://i.imgur.com/QthKHSg.jpg?1

Mortar and brick are shattered and dispersed as worthless dust. Gravestones, mausoleums and monuments, some of them centuries old, are blown apart without care or mercy. Like divine punishment, as if a vengeful god had decided to settle an ancient hatred towards the people laid to rest there, the barrage of hundreds of arrows, each as long as a knight’s sword, strikes the cemetery with brutal power. What was once a somewhat abandoned garden of graves disappears in clouds of dust and snow, its solemn, quiet piece slain by countless explosions.

Not a single arrow harms Maria this time.

“Um, sorry ‘bout this,” she says, hoping she sounds apologetical enough. It is the least she can do; even if it was a decision born of sheer desperation, using the Herald as a living shield still leaves an unpleasant taste in her mouth.

It is a little humiliating: she is the one now curled up on the snow, making herself as small as possible while the Herald stands straight and not-quite-proud, more like uncaring of the madness around her. Maria does not quite know how to react at the sight of those large arrows striking and exploding on the Herald’s back without eliciting even a blink from her.

The attack then stops, and that catches Maria off guard, for the previous barrages of arrows had been somewhat longer lasting. The Herald cares not, instead leaning down and extending a hand towards her.

“Are you alright?”

Maria feels like biting her lip. This…monster of a Servant, is either too dense to notice, or just does not care. Maria used her as her shield, and to the Herald it apparently does not mean anything.

“I…I’m fine now,” says Maria in a lame voice while accepting the offered hand. The Herald’s smile is as mild as her voice and overall attitude.

Maria has a chance to think, which is in itself interesting. Standing like this, Archer must be able to see her. Is the Herald’s presence enough of a deterrent?

Well, Maria guesses she would be deterred too if her attacks had no effect.

The Herald turns her back to Maria seemingly to look at the sky.

“How annoying…” she murmurs. It makes Maria blink. Somehow, the words carry a unique weight when coming from the scarred girl.

Maria then, she looks at the base of the tree, where the Herald had been sleeping. Could it be that Archer could not see the Herald until she rose to her feet? Now that she thinks about it…

“Um, did you meet Archer yesterday?”

The words get the Herald’s attention, but the look on her face tells Maria she needs to expand on the question.

“When we met yesterday, remember? You said you were going to, uh, tell Archer to stop.”

Maria could almost see the metaphorical gears slowly turning in the Herald’s single lively eye.

“…uh, right. Right! No, wait!” She nods, but quickly pauses and switches to shaking her head like a child trying too hard. “Nope! Not at all!”

Maria is somewhat bothered that her stare is enough to make this veritable monster look uncomfortable.

Even when she is exclaiming, the Herald’s voice is softer than Maria’s normal voice. Maria would call it the voice of a wallflower-type girl, but she is hard-pressed to describe the Herald as a wallflower.

“Um, I mean! When, when I arrived, he was already gone. I waited for a while in case he tried to go back and attack again, but he did not, so…um.”

Maria nods at that, even if she is inwardly a little disappointed. However, it does seem like Archer is as wary of the Herald as she is, and with good reason, as the latest barrage already proved.

…wait.

“You called Archer a ‘he’. You sure Archer’s a dude?”

“He smells like a man,” says the Herald with strange confidence.

“Smells? What are you, a dog?”

The Herald giggles at Maria’s retort. Her smile also seems a little more honest, and that’s enough to bring a smile to Maria’s own face. Somehow, it’s like all the tension is gone.

As long as this Herald of Fimbulwinter is around, it appears Maria has little to fear from that powerful Archer.

“You’re wounded,” the Herald then points out, her voice carrying a tinge of worry. Her eye tracks every and every single hole left in Maria’s body by the terrible arrows.

“Um, I’m sorry, I can’t…I don’t know…” Maria only figures out the Herald’s thoughts when her words and body language grows even more flustered.

“Ah, ah, don’t worry, don’t worry!” Maria tries to be cheerful in her response. “Saver’s a tough Servant, so these will heal on their own in no time. Um, thanks for caring.”

The Herald looks honestly glad to know Maria does not need urgent healing. With that settled, she looks with disdain at their destroyed surroundings.

“Uuugh, I can’t even sleep peacefully. I haven’t even done anything to them, why’re they attacking me?”

Maria makes sure to stick close to the Herald as she set feet towards the non-destroyed part of the cemetery. Also, she ponders whether to tell the taller girl that Archer probably never intended to attack her.

“I’m not even interested in your fight.” The Herald’s ranting continues. “This isn’t even a Holy Grail War, so there’s no point in me fighting. Hmph, it’s not like I care for something like the Holy Grail in the first place.”

The sight of the Herald stuffing her hands in her pants’ pockets and kicking a piece of exploded mausoleum like a moody brat is quite something.

Of course, Maria did not fail to catch the bomb the other girl dropped just now.

“So, this really isn’t just another of those Grail Wars.”

The Herald, two steps ahead of Maria, shrugs plainly.

“Nobody’s competing for a Grail.”

She pauses for a second, then explains further.

“The Grail that created this frozen world and summoned that Archer is a Grail that already has an owner. This,” she says, her hand gesturing to the frozen Valparaiso around them. “is just a wish fulfilled.”

The Herald’s languid mien somehow grows deeper, as if an invisible burden had been placed on her shoulders.

“I…have no interest in your fighting. I said I wouldn’t take any sides, but…”

The dark-haired girl looks up at the gently falling snow. In the whole mess of that weird cave and Archer’s attack, Maria did not quite notice when the snowstorm eased down.

“What should I do…?” wonders the Herald in a forlorn voice, and Maria somehow can tell the question is not directed to her, but to a person in the Herald’s mind.

Somehow…somehow, Maria understands. The expression on the Herald’s face, the tone of her voice, they are both things she comprehends.

The Herald is lost, just like Maria felt lost that day more than a year before, when she was told of her grandmother’s death.

But they are both looking at the sky, so they see the projectile flying at great speed towards them.

“Watch ou—”

Of course, the arrow is much faster than Maria’s words. The swordswoman does not need to dodge, because the arrow is not aimed at her. The Herald stands unmoving, as uncaring of this arrow as she was of all the others before.

When the arrow impacts her body, the Herald takes a single step back, a high-pitched grunt escaping her lips. Standing two steps behind her and a little to the left, Maria cannot see much until the arrow is pulled out of the other girl’s body by its own weight. The arm-long missile falls on the snow, shattering into worthless motes of magic, and the Herald falls to her knees, whimpering like a wounded animal.

“Shi—you alright!?”

For the first time, Maria cannot read the Herald’s expression. The scarred girl is looking at her, but not really. Her wet eyes are meeting hers, her anguished face is facing hers, but the Herald’s mind is somewhere else. Did the shock of being wounded get to her? The way the dark girl lowers her head and leans further forward as if to hide her rictus of pain feels discouraging to Maria in their current situation.

A small hole on the Herald’s dark clothes marks the spot the arrow penetrated. Compared to the arrows that threatened to pierce her body from side to side, the Herald’s wound was infimal. Nevertheless, the girl shudders, both hands moving towards the wound as if to stop an inexistent blood loss.

The Herald whispers a single word, but Maria is not sure she caught it properly.

In any case, the fact remains Archer shot a single arrow, and proved he can wound the Herald. Whether it is magecraft, a Servant Skill, or even the effect of Noble Phantasm, there is no way to tell, but Maria knows a lot more arrows are soon to follow.

She has to do something, but it is surprisingly the Herald, no longer shuddering in soft-spoken agony, who acts first.

“Eh?” Maria’s lame response when the other girl’s hand closes firmly around her wrist. She looks at that hand, then back at the Herald’s face, whose expression has changed dramatically. The pain remains in her eyes, and the anguish lingers on her expression, but something greater, more powerful, has settled over all that.

“What should I do…?”

Those were her words just moments earlier.

Maria Westinghouse can tell.

That girl has found her answer.

Maria offers no resistance when the Herald pulls her over her shoulder, in a posture similar to a hammer throw. Rather, it happens so fast, and the Herald is so absurdly strong, that the thought of putting up resistance does not have time to cross her mind.

It is only for an instant that their eyes can meet for one last time.

The Herald is still in pain. She is still afraid. But she has found a direction, and to Maria’s eyes, she has never seemed mightier.

“Live.”

A single word is spoken. The Herald allows for no response before throwing Maria with all her strength, sending her flying westwards over the many hills of Valparaiso.

And Maria is not granted time to shout a response before the Herald, and the cemetery around her, disappear in a deluge of explosions.



END OF MORNING PHASE


Do you wish to create a Save Point here? (Note: This is a shitty game, so you only get to have one Save Point at a time.)


Yes.
No.

Rafflesiac
August 14th, 2018, 01:23 AM
No. I've no desire to commit to a split party, even if the current situation is fascinating.

Bird of Hermes
August 14th, 2018, 01:07 PM
You know what? Current situation is fascinating. Yes.

Spartacus
August 14th, 2018, 01:20 PM
No.

SleepMode
August 14th, 2018, 06:17 PM
Yes.

SpoonyViking
August 15th, 2018, 11:06 PM
Sorry, Raff, Spartacus. Yes.

Spartacus
August 15th, 2018, 11:12 PM
You destroy the Yes-No chain, I feel mad.

Daneel Rush
August 17th, 2018, 12:52 PM
The Midday Phase is a special phase. The content is decided and provided exclusively by the Quest Master (QM for short), based on Javier’s actions (and the players’ decisions) up to that point. The players do not decide what Javier or anybody else do in this Phase, but the QM may present choices for the players during the Midday Phase.Westinghouse Family Residence, Astoria, Queens
Four years before Fimbulwinter

BGM (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSHaEcFxeis)

“The fuck my door did to you?” were the words Maria’s grandmother used for a greeting that afternoon. As usual the words did not fit the elderly woman’s beautiful, melodious voice, with only the barest hint of a rasp.

Maria had thrown the door closed in a huff, unabashedly flung her schoolbag to the corner of the bedroom and dropped her butt on the bed. The old lady never lifted her face, and never took it off the glass of water standing full on the woman’s circular coffee table.

“Why so angry?” asked then the woman, to which Maria responded with a snort.

“What do you think?” The teenage girl’s sassy response, a single hand gesturing at the ceiling, where meters of copper wire had been laid out in several turns across the perimeter of the room.

“Of course mom figured out I bought you all this wire; who else would?” Letting herself fall on the old queen-sized bed, Maria followed the lines for a few seconds until swift boredom. “So whoop-dee-doo, I get the speech the moment I set foot home.”

“Ah, so that was all the ruckus Heike was making downstairs,” said grandma with a hint of a sardonic smile. “You rolled your eyes at’er.”

Maria rolled her eyes at that.

“Whatever. You didn’t tell me you were going to pull this…whatever it is.”

“The beginning of a new, stronger bounded field.” A shrug. “I hafta do it with whatever I have available. Can’t have them divining where I am.”

Maria rolled her eyes a second time (well, third).

“Right. Them. Ya know, if they’re so powerful as you always say they are, I dun’ think a few rolls of wire are gonna stop’em.”

Grandma’s eyes narrowed as if she wanted to boil the water in the glass with her mind…or just make the glass explode.

“…shut the fuck up, girl. And I also got my share of yelling from Heike, so suck it up until you get a brat of your own for stress relief.”

“Gross.”

The single-word comment was duly ignored by the old woman.

“So my magecraft makes my family think I’m insane; that’s nothing new.”

“Um, no, grandma. You are insane. It’s just you also happen to be a magus.”

“I should curse you until you learn some respect,” spat the old woman, her trembling hand stopping before reaching the glass of water.

“Grandma, you already taught me ‘bout curses. Using a curse just to chastise me would be, like, the shittiest, scariest, most exaggeratedly cruel idea.”

“Huh? Think I can’t do it? Think I can’t bind you and myself with a curse just so I’ll get some respect?”

“That’s the scariest part! I think you’re probably that petty!”

The old woman laughed. Unlike her beautiful voice, her laughter was most certainly an old person’s laughter.

Maria liked it when her grandma laughed, but this time she was pondering something that, admittedly, had intruded her thoughts more than once since she discovered magecraft.

“Grandma, correct me if I’m wrong, but, um, aren’t ya makin’ things too difficult on yourself?” She finally said, gesturing towards the ceiling and the many wires. “Couldn’t ya, you know, hypnotize mom and the others so they don’t mind this stuff? You have a special power, why don’t ya use it?”

The old woman, who had just closed her hand around the glass of water, finally glanced at her granddaughter and pulled away from the table, easing her back on the rocking chair.

“Come’ere, girl.”

The firm, stern tone reminded Maria that this was, indeed, her mother’s mother. After a gulp, Maria did as told and walked to her grandmother and magical mentor’s side, only to flinch away after a violent slap on her face.

“Ow! Grandma! What was that for!?” complained the teenager with tears in her eyes. How the hell did that woman’s feeble arms pull off that a mean blow?

“Correcting you when you are wrong, stupid girl.”

Clicking her tongue, the elderly woman tapped her right cheek with a single finger while looking out the window, even if there was nothing worth seeing out there.

“Get this clear in your head, girl: I am not special, and neither are you.”

The woman was still looking away, so Maria could only see her stern profile.

“There’s nothing special about magecraft; it’s just another way to do things, and just like every other way, some people can do it and some cannot. You’re a magus, so what? You still suck at math and will be forever remembered as the girl who broke the face of her first kiss.”

“He asked for it.” Maria gave her rote answer while still rubbing her cheek.

“And I’m a magus, but I still can’t stop my stupid hands from shaking all the time. I extended my life with magecraft, but it can’t help me not forget things.”

The old woman turned back to look at her pouting student. Her hard expression showed no remorse, only severity.

“I’ll say it as many times as I have to until it gets stuck in your head: magecraft is nothing special. It’s not some all-purpose tool to remove all obstacles and solve all problems. It can only do what can already be done with time and effort.”

A feeble, shaky finger pointed at the young Maria.

“Magecraft doesn’t make you special. The things that make a person truly special are more amazing, and simpler than that.”

With that, the old lady turns her efforts back into grasping the glass of water. Her lips took a dark grimace, as if her mouth were filled with a bitter taste.

“I don’t ‘hypnotize’ my family because that would turn me into what I hate the most. And because my mental interference sucks nearly as much as your math.”

Maria noticed the change because the hand reaching for the glass stopped again. Two wrinkled, feeble hands fell on two very small knees.

Her grandmother was small, and very, very thin; as if death had decided to start with her flesh, eroding at her muscle mass little by little. Most of the time, however, that feebleness was smothered by her mean words and strong personality.

When Maria’s grandmother migrated to America, she declared her age to be eighteen when she was in fact over three times older. She could pull it off because in her youth she was a magnificent beauty; an Aryan exemplar. The fake age in her ID became the reality she taught her husband and her children.

Only the teenage Maria Westinghouse was privy to the fact that her grandmother was close to 120 years old. But Maria did not like to be reminded of that; that her grandmother’s body no longer could match her powerful will. And she was no more reminded of it than in moments like this one, when her gran’s body closed in itself, and her old, tired mind drifted to a different time.

Maria knew that she no longer existed in her grandmother’s perception. She was trapped in the prison of her own making; in the memories of the past she shared with no one, not even her apprentice, for the act of reminiscence was as terrifying as it was inescapable.

“And because…”

When the old woman spoke softly, her beautiful voice seemingly having aged to match her actual age, Maria listened attentively, for this was one of the rare windows into the past that tortured her infuriating, beloved grandma so.

“…because I am the kind of woman who deals with problems by running away from them.”



*** ***


Unknown Location
Day 02
Midday Phase
Severe Cold (-15 °C/5 °F)

https://i.imgur.com/ulFTKYv.png

BGM (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goPsnTrQvmU)

Maria Westinghouse opens her eyes. She was never really unconscious. With the awareness that she was safe from Archer for the time being, all the adrenaline in her system lost its effect, and she drifted into a relaxed state like the moments leading to slumber.


https://i.imgur.com/H36BRJY.jpg?1

She had broken through the ceiling of some sort of derelict building. It had many shattered windows, and plenty of snow had seeped it to create a white carpet for her landing.

It is cold, just like everywhere else, but the chill kinda feels good on her aching wounds. She had not lied when she told the Herald they would heal, but it would certainly take more than a few minutes.

“Ah…” Maria utters when the thought of the Herald of Fimbulwinter reached her mind.

“Forgot to ask if she’s really Hel.”

There is something awkward in the thought of a goddess of death trying so hard to keep her alive. Maria is struck by a lukewarm feeling, so she thinks back on the scarred Servant and her fate.

“She’s alive,” she declares. “She’s gotta be alive. Because she’s way stronger than me.”

That is the issue. She is not strong enough to worry about the Herald right now.

“How…what do I have to do so I can use your full power, Saver?”

She refuses to believe she had only received superhuman prowess from the agent of the planet. Being super-strong or super-fast would not cut it against legendary warriors.

“That Archer…is the real thing.”

By that, she means Archer is not some absurd “Nazi Servant”—another thing she needs to figure out at some point—but a legendary figure of the more distant past, capable of feats greater than fiction.

She can declare that with confidence because she caught a glimpse of it.

When she was airborne, she caught a glimpse of Archer.

Still lying prone on the snow, surrounded by ruin, Maria quickly processes those few images, as if a dream she could quickly forget.

A very tall white building, way uphill; about halfway to the top, where that weird halo still wraps the outline of Valparaiso’s hills with its radiance. Even from the considerable distance, she caught a glimpse of a figure standing there, on the rooftop, and the hundreds of arrows were fired from that spot.

She saw that the figure did not fire the arrows one after the other in quick succession. Whole groups of them just appeared out of thin air around him, and they appeared already in motion. Archer did not conjure them and then fire them; they appeared already carrying momentum.

She saw Archer conjure-and-fire arrows in groups of variable size, but also in consecutive single shots, without apparent limitation to either method. Differences in shooting method were likely to adjust for his target’s actions. Without further information, Maria would have to assume Archer could theoretically fire all his available ammunition in a single volley if he so wanted. The area bombardment he pulled off earlier felt a like a single bunch of arrows fired all at once. As for the actual number, Maria could only tell it was in the several hundreds.

It makes her groan.

“How the fuck do I beat that?”

Stealth is the obvious idea, but she is not an Assassin, and Archer likely possesses superior perception capabilities, what with being able to fire arrows from a kilometer away.

She might be faster than him, which would allow her to catch up in a straight pursuit, but there was no way she would made it to close range before becoming a living pincushion.

Not with her current skill.

For all she knows, Saver was an ultra-badass swordswoman who could parry arrows with her blade. But Maria doesn’t have any concrete sword-fighting skill.

It all goes back to Saver’s Personal Skills and Noble Phantasm. It makes Maria feel like an amnesiac, desperately trying to remember the skills she used to earn a living.

But, there is another possibility, which had begun to materialize back there, in that graveyard.

Maria sighed. She could have stayed there the rest of the day, or at least until her wounds closed, but she has no such luxury, does she?

“Alright!” She whispers right before jumping to her feet— “Ow…”

Carefully, just in case her Luck is indeed so bad that Archer is already scanning in her direction with his hawk eyes, Maria approaches the nearest entrance to take a look at her surroundings. What she sees is an unfamiliar square, framed by dead palm trees. A small fountain stands on its center; naturally, it is frozen. But even if she does not know where she is, she knows in what direction she flew, and she remembers her flight gave her brief sights of the hostel, the Yugoslavian Promenade, and that big, main-looking square right after that.

She just has to go eastward until she finds one of those familiar sights.

“Alright,” she repeats to herself. “Let’s keep at it.”

She smiles, even if there are few reasons to do so. Like her teacher used to do, her mind briefly drips to a time that already feels too distant. But she acknowledges that it is not the time to lose herself in reminiscence, and shakes the warm thoughts away to place herself in the cold, hard present. She has stuff to do.

“Don’t worry, grandma,” she says quietly. “I don’t plan to die before I have avenged you.”

The incomplete pseudo-Servant steps back into the fray.




You can now explore Pantheon Hill (Graveyard No. 1).




END OF MIDDAY PHASE


Warning!

This is a Save Point.

If your quest reaches a Dead End, you may choose to resume it from this point.



*** ***



DAY 2 – AFTERNOON PHASE SETUP


Character Status Unknown.

Food: Stable
Water: Optimal
Warmth: Poor (Stable only inside bedroom)
Defense: Poor https://i.imgur.com/BMsKtUy.jpgYou cannot choose Javier’s Action in this Phase.

Maria’s Afternoon Action:


Exploration Action

Javier’s Location: Let’s try to find Javier. He’s not my Master, but we have a conduit for magical energy, so I should be able to track him with that.
Pantheon Hill: This might be borderline stupidity, going back into the warzone right away, but, damn it, she saved me.
Unimarc: Javier would appreciate the extra food. Also, my backpack’s still there. With CHOCOLATE.
Yugoslavian Promenade: Who knows, I could still get to see things I haven’t noticed before if I go there. Also, unfamiliar with this city as I am, I might find a safer route uphill from there.
Return to the Hostel: Maybe Javier already made it back on his own. Maybe I catch him getting funky with Miss Bazongas, and I get something to laugh at in this frozen hell.
Write-in.


Management Action (Note: You can only select a Management Action if you choose to Return to the Hostel.)

Forage
Prepare Meals
Repair
Instruction: Meditate into reaching communion with Saver, or something. Grasping at straws here.
Write-in


Rest: Screen goes dark, slow, sweet tune plays, HP/MP RESTORED!

Rafflesiac
August 17th, 2018, 01:52 PM
ARCHER CONFIRMED EMIYA AS SECOND CANON CAMEO

Running into Nazis would be the worst possible option since Maria doesn't run from Nazis, and Maria is also half-dead. Resting is appealing, but we can afford to be reckless since the Save Point's right behind us now. So I'll say try to find Javier.

- - - Updated - - -

Also reading this and many of your old sheets is a pleasure Daneel, if I haven't said that before.

SpoonyViking
August 17th, 2018, 02:33 PM
I had a feeling the Herald was actually Balder, but after she seemed to be hurt, I wasn't so sure anymore. The Archer made me think of Eric the Victorious, but probably not all the Servants will be Norse-themed, right?

Anyway, I vote for Maria to try to find Javier, too.

SleepMode
August 17th, 2018, 04:14 PM
The only safe(?) choice is to Find Javier, so...

Yeah.

Bird of Hermes
August 18th, 2018, 09:11 AM
Find Javier

Draconic
August 18th, 2018, 10:48 AM
This is stupid, but Return to Pantheon Hill and find the Herald.

Ayr
August 19th, 2018, 07:54 AM
I had a feeling the Herald was actually Balder, but after she seemed to be hurt, I wasn't so sure anymore. The Archer made me think of Eric the Victorious, but probably not all the Servants will be Norse-themed, right?.

I don't have much beyond a wikipedia-level grasp of Norse myth, but between her being called the Herald of Fimbulwinter, her profile quote (+ other references to some female master), and dog-like behaviour, I'm guessing Garmr, Hel's doggo. No clue who anyone else might be tho.

Jumping on the bandwagon of trying to find Javier. I mean, he's probably fine, but it would be good to get back together.

SpoonyViking
August 20th, 2018, 12:03 AM
I don't have much beyond a wikipedia-level grasp of Norse myth, but between her being called the Herald of Fimbulwinter, her profile quote (+ other references to some female master), and dog-like behaviour, I'm guessing Garmr, Hel's doggo.

Oh, nice catch! I was thinking Balder because at first I thought her high damage resistance might have been actual invulnerability, and Balder's death is supposed to be the final omen for Ragnarok, but Garm's howl is also noted as signaling the beginning of the battle. Yeah, I'm with you on the Garm theory.

Daneel Rush
August 27th, 2018, 04:20 PM
When I was ten years old, I met a fairy.

There are plenty of stories like that in the old romances: the traveling knight chances upon a beauty while she’s bathing in a pond or stream. She may be a princess, or a nymph, or some other manifestation of beauty. In those stories, the knight and the beauty either fall in love at first glance, or the knight gets the beauty through some form of trickery or outright bullying.

Of course, I was no wandering knight, and no such plots took place. I was just a young boy, enjoyably wandering through the peaceful, wild outdoors of my hometown, who happened to find a young girl, placidly bathing in one of the region’s countless small streams.


https://i.imgur.com/49NPM5J.jpg

I was at an age at which I had no qualms about getting naked and swimming with a naked girl my age. Really, such innocent times.

She was truly like a fairy, that girl. She never did say much—really, our “conversations” were completely one-sided—, but she listened to my childish ramblings in almost-laughable enrapture. She was not just being polite; she seemed utterly fascinated by whatever pointless things I told her. It was difficult to get her to smile, but her laughter…God, her laughter.

Her laughter was like the spring sun. Like the scent of grass in the morning. Like cotton candy and fireworks, like the fur of a milk cow and the thrill of scoring a goal in a soccer match.

On the rare times I think back on my childhood, the first thing that comes to mind is her beautiful laughter.

I was too young and stupid to understand back then, but I probably had a crush on her.

What happened to that girl? Why did I stop seeing her?

I…I wanted my other friends to meet her, and play together.

So, I took Diego and Magdalena to that place…



…what happened after that?


*** ***

Unknown Location
Day 02
Afternoon Phase - 01
Severe Cold (-15 °C/5 °F)


Health: Stable
Sustenance: Stable
Warmth: Stable
Stamina: Poorhttps://i.imgur.com/C6Ns8oL.png?1

I wake up slowly, not at all like when I wake up in the mornings. My head is groggy and my sight is blurry, but at least it’s somewhat comfortable.

I saw a dream. It’s hazy, but…it was, about…

…hmm, it’s been a while, since I thought of my childhood days.

I was born in Concepción, and my parents currently live there, but for the first eleven or so years of my life, we lived in a small city called Villarrica, at the base of the volcano with the same name. It’s one of those cities that were raised in the major German, Swiss and Austrian migration at the end of the 19th century. In the part of the city we lived in, there were so many people of European ancestry that it felt like we lived at the base of the Alps, not the Andes. My own grandfather arrived to this country after the Second World War, together with a whole group of Germans seeking a new life away from the ravaged Fatherland.

A small, lovely city at the shore of a lake, and surrounded by nature. My parents loathed it, and I…well, that’s no longer important. More importantly, where am I? Last I remember…

I remember, and adrenaline kicks in.

My sight clears in an instant, and it becomes obvious I am inside an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar bedroom. I hear nothing but the all-too-familiar howl of the chilling wind outside, and a quiet, dull, and regular striking sound from somewhere other than this room. My mouth feels dry, and I do feel thirsty.

Looking around, there is no clear hint of the owner of this bedroom; it is a very bare space, the only furniture other than the bed being a plain table and a standing closet with double doors. The boarded windows are fairly large stretching almost from floor to ceiling; a characteristic of houses in the “historical area” of the city. It is likely I was not taken very far.

I feel wobbly for a moment when I stand up. I’m very, very tired—I guess I kinda overdid it with the magic, keeping it turned on to keep warm, plus Sthūla-Śarīra…

…I’m…not wearing my clothes. These…are fairly warm and comfortable, but also one or two sizes too big.

Did…did Sakura change my wet clothes?

Huh.

There is only one way in and out of this bedroom, so any attempt at planning is pointless. The door to this bedroom rests against the wall next to it, the hinges probably broken by the deep freeze Maria mentioned, at the very beginning of this mess. Really, there’s no way to hide here, so I might as well step outside.

From this central location acting as a dining room, I can see the doorframes connecting to a second bedroom, what is probably a bathroom, and a staircase going downstairs. So, I am in the second floor of a two-story house.

Of course, I am not alone in here. There is the woman who knocked me out, placidly laboring at the kitchen with a sweet smile on her face. And there is an unexpected second person, most likely the owner of the clothes I’m wearing.

I…where have I seen this person before?

https://i.imgur.com/fRFyXBG.png?2“Ah, you’re awake, Mister Javier,” says Sakura without taking her eyes off her work. “Please, sit down. Lunch will be ready soon.”

I hate it that my stomach voices its approval of the idea. I was kidnapped, damn it.

The man has not even acknowledged my presence. He…looks like he’s had better days. Can’t blame him for a foul mood in this place; if anything, Sakura’s light-hearted tone is more unsettling.

All windows are boarded to keep the wind out. However, there is plenty of light, from something that looks like a paper lamp. However, even if a candle could be lit in this weather, there’s no way it could produce this much light. Just what is that thing?

Right now, nothing’s really stopping me from just dashing downstairs and running away. Sakura’s not even looking at me, and a low wall separates the kitchen from this dining room. Now, would she be able to catch me if I start running now…?

…probably. I don’t know where I am, but I know Valparaiso fairly well; I would be able to figure that out the moment I step outside. However, I’m feeling really tired, and running in all that snow is not easy.

For now, let’s just sit down. Indeed, the boarded house is being filled with the scents of cooking. She’s a tricky human, this Sakura.



*** ***

https://i.imgur.com/dZSfLew.png

Maria Westinghouse is back at Atkinson Promenade.

“The wind…is picking up.”

Indeed, tracking Javier through the connection between their magic circuits proved to be trivial. She wonders if that is because she is not a Servant. Would it have been as easy were she still an ordinary magic user? Then again, in that case there would have been no reason to make that connection.

Really, there is no point thinking about it. Perhaps she is just bored.

She could not make this trip the easy way, jumping for ceiling to ceiling; that would offer Archer a clear shot, if he is still sniping. That was why it has taken her so long to close the distance. She also hoped to catch a glimpse of the Herald, without luck. Noon has been left behind. The sun is hidden behind a canopy of grey clouds, but Maria knows it has begun its descent. And the wind is picking up.

This is a going to be a harsh afternoon, followed by an even colder evening.

It makes Maria worry about Javier’s health, and his lack of suitable winter wear.

Awareness of Archer’s sniping spot makes a gigantic difference. She is confident she has maintained cover throughout the whole trip, but she is conscious of the possibility that he has changed his spot. Certainly, that white building where she saw him earlier was not the same spot he used during the fight against Rider. The firing angle was completely different; if anything, yesterday’s sniping spot was probably close to the place where the Herald flung her.

Eventually, her search takes her to a rather non-descript house.

Like many such buildings in Valparaiso, it has a family business—a jewelry shop—on the ground floor, and the actual family residence upstairs. All windows are boarded, and the main entrance is partially barricaded with furniture.

“Isn’t this kind of bad?” Maria mutters. “I mean, it’s like, pretty much saying ‘we’re here’.”

She guesses it was a necessary measure to block the wind from outside. Unlike the large hostel building, this was a rather small house, even with two floors.

Unless her low Luck-rank kicks in right now and Assassin happens to be there, Maria has ascertained that there are no Servants in that house. At this point she might as well make her presence known.


*** ***

https://i.imgur.com/C6Ns8oL.png?1 https://i.imgur.com/MCREpkj.png https://i.imgur.com/bymM5Pj.png

We eat in silence. It is a standard Western meal: beef, salad and rice. But it is truly very well made, above the standards to be expected in this frozen city. Miss Sakura is quite talented.

However, there is no conversation. The other man in the room projects a powerful aura of rejection. He would rather not be here, but he eats because he must. Sakura does not insist, or even make the slightest attempt at a conversation. To be honest, I can’t quite get a grasp of the relationship between these two.

So, we eat in awkward, tense silence: kidnapper, kidnapped, and some gloomy guy. Or maybe I’m the only awkward one; Sakura carries herself with the same calm demeanor she showed in the kitchen, enjoying the results of her labor.

That…is the confidence of one who feels herself entirely in control of the situation.

This bitch. But my body’s asking for food, so I’ll first my stomach first.

However, I am not the first to act when lunchtime is over. The other man slams both hands on the table to push himself up. Leaving downstairs without saying a single word. Sakura, who was gathering the dishes to take them to the kitchen, only looks at his back with a sad expression.

“So? Are you ever gonna tell me why you knocked me out and carried me here?”

Attacking at a moment of weakness is just basic tactics.

Sakura doesn’t like being put on the spotlight, which is exactly what I hoped for. Her smile fades, now looking like her puppy just died.

“Um, yes, that was…a little reckless of me, wasn’t it?”

Well there’s one way to put it.

“I wonder if Luvia’s rubbed off on me a little too much.”

Now she’s mumbling to herself.

“But, there was no guarantee we could meet again if I let you run away, and you owe us an explanation of what’s going on, Mister Javier.”

Sakura pauses, looking down at the pile of dirty dishes long enough to gather her wits.

“Let us start properly this time.”

No, no, the kidnapper doesn’t get to say that.

“I am Sakura Edelfelt.” She pauses for a moment, considering her next words. “The person who just left is the owner of this house, Mister Oliver Drake. I know he’s not in his best mood right now, but, his wife…”

She says nothing more, but it’s easy to get the idea.

“And now, Mister Javier, please tell me about the Holy Grail War.”

Well, that’s kind of the problem. It’s not just that I’m not as familiar with the details as Maria. I’m not really competing for the Holy Grail, and I’m pretty sure Maria isn’t either. How do I begin explaining that—

“Heeeeeeeey! Princess Javier!”

An annoying, jolly, yet strangely-accented voice reaches us from outside. Is that supposed to be Italian?

“It’s a me, Maria!”

Oh, for fuck’s sake, woman.

And why are you looking at me like you expect me to decide what to do, Miss Kidnapper!?

Well, Maria’s here. How am I gonna handle this?


Ask Maria to save me from these evil kidnappers.
Ask Maria to explain shit to Sakura.
Do nothing and wait to see how they handle it on their own.
Write-in.

SpoonyViking
August 27th, 2018, 04:29 PM
2.

You
August 27th, 2018, 04:30 PM
2

SleepMode
August 27th, 2018, 04:47 PM
2

Rafflesiac
August 27th, 2018, 07:21 PM
Oh hey, it's the normie.

Also 3, since it's funny and not as actively detrimental as 1.

- - - Updated - - -

Sakura Edelfelt, huh? That's an interesting tidbit.

Bird of Hermes
August 28th, 2018, 05:34 PM
Sakura... Edelfelt? Interesting. Very interesting.

3 sounds good to me as 2 is expected and 1 will likely mean Sakura wrecks us.

Also I'm guessing that One Guy's wife either is missing, got nommed or turned into a zombie.

Rafflesiac
August 28th, 2018, 06:26 PM
I figure she's just frigid and waiting for Javier's heated touch.

Bird of Hermes
August 29th, 2018, 02:53 AM
I don't think we're going the route of the NTR doujin.

Spartacus
August 30th, 2018, 12:09 PM
3

Doesn't look like there is any major harm in this part, and I love dark jokes and this may be one.

Daneel Rush
August 30th, 2018, 12:40 PM
We have a tie, then.

The interesting thing would be to pick a representative from each side and have them settle things in the thunderdome, but that sounds like a hassle so figure out a way to break the tie by yourselves as soon as possible.

Just to be safe, voting ends after the very next vote.

Spartacus
August 30th, 2018, 12:42 PM
uh, a tie? I'm not really taking an attention when voting and since I'm very late voting this...
so I'll just change to 2 to ease your job, you might already write the continuation and that would fuck thing up.

Rafflesiac
August 30th, 2018, 12:54 PM
nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Spartacus
August 30th, 2018, 01:02 PM
Top 10 Anime Betrayals

Bird of Hermes
August 30th, 2018, 03:12 PM
I woulda been down with a thunderdome brawl...

Daneel Rush
August 30th, 2018, 09:08 PM
Drake Family Residence
Day 02
Afternoon Phase - 02
Severe Cold (-17 °C/1.5 °F)

Health: Stable
Sustenance: Stable
Warmth: Stable
Stamina: Poorhttps://i.imgur.com/C6Ns8oL.png?1https://i.imgur.com/dZSfLew.png https://i.imgur.com/MCREpkj.png

Well, Maria’s here. Might as well take advantage of that.

“Maria! This person here thinks we’re fighting a Holy Grail War! Can you please come here and convince her we are not fighting a Holy Grail War?”

My loud voice startled the girl in front of me, but I’m more interested in a reply from outside.

“Well of course it fucking ends up being like this! I trudge across all this fucking snow to find you and what do I get? ‘Chop, chop, woman, get to work’!? Well fuck that shit, and fuck you too, Javier!”

“Maria, you know I don’t any of that magecraft stuff! You’re the expert!”

“Then why the fuck did I bother explaining it to you last night!? And I’m no fuckin’ expert! Fuck, you’re so useless!”

“And you’re the only one who can fight those Servants! I’d help you if I could!”

“Then make yourself useful and figure out a way I can beat that goddamn Archer, damn it!”

Everyone is then startled by loud banging. Somebody is striking a hard surface in a repeated show of obvious irritation.

“The fuck is that!?” That somebody is clearly not Maria. I look at the embarrassed-looking Sakura.

“It seems…we are bothering Mister Drake,” she said weakly while stepping away from me, towards the stairs. “Let’s just…wait here a second, I…I’m a little confused right now.”

Just right now?


*** ***

“…and that’s the gist of it. Well, at least that’s what we understand.”

The three of us are now seated around the dining table. In the end, Maria did take over explanation duty.

“Just so you don’t end up saying something stupid and make Boobzer hate us,” she said.

As a side note, Sakura gave a long, hard stare at Maria when the latter arrived. Let’s be honest: with the way Maria’s dressed, who can blame her?

Maria did not hide anything as far as I know; not that we have reason to hide anything: The Servants, the Nazis, and her possession by another Servant; an agent that seeks to restore the Human Order.

Sakura…is showing a difficult expression.

“Your story…it’s a little…”

“Hard to believe, I know,” Maria admits in a dismissive tone. “Nazis in a secret base in South America unleash weather powers by wielding the Holy Grail!”

It does sound ridiculous.

“It’s like a B-movie plot. Besides, everybody knows the secret Nazi base is supposed to be in Neuschwabenland.”

What?

“But anyway, you already saw Archer’s attack, and you’ve seen the zombies.”

Sakura nodded.

“I…also saw the soldiers yesterday, from afar. I didn’t see the, um, swastikas. And I guess the noise I heard yesterday evening was your fight with, um, Rider?”

“Ah, yeah,” Maria said while looking away with a measure of embarrassment. “With all the gunfire, and the collapsing building, and the fuckin’ tank, I guess we were pretty noisy. But anyway!”

Maria drums on the table for no reason.

“That’s how it is. We guess somebody…or a bunch of somebodies, summoned those Servants and froze the goddamned city for whatever reason. And whoever did it is a Nazi or connected to Nazis.”

Wait, how did you reach that conclusion?

“I mean, who else do you think would summon a Nazi Servant and conjure magical Nazi soldier constructs on purpose?”

Sakura nods her agreement.

“If anything, the fact that Nazi figures shouldn’t be able to become Servants implies that Rider was purposely summoned, even if I can’t think of how.”

Maria shrugs.

“Well, to be honest, I just vaguely knew about Holy Grails being a thing until two days ago. All the actual knowledge I’ve got right now comes from Saver…I guess.”

“Saver…a non-conventional Servant outside the seven standard classes,” murmurs Sakura to herself, clearly lost in thought. “Extra class…”

“Oh, thank God, someone actually gets it right,” Maria murmurs as well, her voice strangely warm despite her obvious exasperation. Really, it’s like I’m not even here anymore. But how can I even contribute to this discussion?

“So, I take it Sakura is a magus, too,” I say, just for the sake of saying anything. But, really, I lived over fifteen years as the only person with special powers, and now it’s all magi and Servants and all sorts of bullshit.

“Ah, no, not really,” the easily-embarrassed Sakura refutes with wavy hand gestures. “I just…happen to know a few magi. They have…taught me a few things.”

She smiles as if she could end all wars with her smile.

“I am a professional wrestler by profession.”

I bet I have the exact same flat, wide-eyes look on my face as Maria’s right now. I mean, it does make sense and explains how she made quick work of the zombies and, well, me, but, um…really?

“I get that look every single time, ufufu~”


*** ***

With all misunderstandings clarified, and upon accepting that we’re all on the same side here, Sakura asks us to follow her downstairs, much to my chagrin. Even with boarded windows and the door blocked by a makeshift barricade, wind still manages to seep in and render the ground level noticeably colder than upstairs. A sweater and pants are not nearly enough for this chill; Mister Drake’s clothes are in no way better than what I was wearing, but at least they are not worse either.

Warmth: Stable -> Poor.What I see here are the shattered remains of many display cases. It seems Mister Drake ran a business in this ground level.

“I came to Valparaiso to do business with Mister Drake,” Sakura explains. “We had only spoken by phone before I came here, so…well, we’re not really well acquainted. However, with all that’s happened…I just, can’t leave Mister Drake alone.”

She stops before a closed door at the back and knocks three times.

“Mister Drake, we’re coming in.”

Warmth: Poor -> Good.It’s warm!

Holy crap, it’s so nice and warm here. A heater? They have a working heater here?

“Oh fuck, I want to hibernate here,” promptly says Maria.

I want to find the miraculous fountain of warmth ASAP, but it’s obvious Sakura did not bring us here for that.

I remember.

I guess I’m just another hot-blooded male, because I had forgotten that man until I saw the woman trapped in ice in the middle of this room.

The lovey-dovey couple in front of me at the bank line.

Fuck this frozen hell.

What was probably some sort of workshop has become an impromptu warehouse, stuffed almost to the last spot with boxes of different sizes. It takes me a second lock to realize that most of them are sturdy metal strongboxes. Machines I cannot identify stand abandoned on the worktable and floor, while the owner of the house sits on a corner of the room, his back turned to the frozen form of his young wife. In his right hand he holds a red gemstone, but he puts it down to glare at us. Light comes from the four corners of the room, from devices with the appearance of oil lamps without a shade or a chimney, with a single, glowing gem sticking out of what I would call the burner.

“Sorry for interrupting your work, Mister Drake.”

He clicks his tongue at Sakura’s words.

“…fine.”

After that single word, he turns his chair so as to face us properly, but he says nothing else, as if expecting us to do something.

“Mister Javier, Miss Maria. I would like your opinion on this,” says Sakura as she stands next to the ice tomb.

Wait, wait, are we really having this discussion in front of the husband?

“First thing first: what do ya know?” Maria takes to the problem wasting not a single second.

Really, am I the only person with tact here? Am I doing something wrong?

“Until I found you two, I thought everyone else in this city had been frozen like this,” admitted Sakura. “I also know what happens…when a trapped person dies in this ice.”

The man’s hand strongly gripping his knee speaks a thousand words. I haven’t forgotten, either. Father Scherer and everybody else at the church…I can only hope for their safety…

…wait.

Something…this whole situation…what Sakura just said…

Maria was spared from being frozen because she became a Servant, and she said Saver’s power also protected me from the uttercold. But what about these two, Sakura Edelfelt and Oliver Drake? And there’s Maria’s adventure at the supermarket last evening; what about that man Maria found there? Why was he not frozen as well?

Maria and Sakura have left me behind, already discussing a way to deal with the ice and release Mister Drake’s wife.

“Yeah, it’s obviously bad all these people are trapped, but…” Maria scratches the side of her head. “Even if we could just, go an’ break them all out, that would be another mess…”

Sakura nods, and I understand. Valparaiso right now isn’t in a “livable” state. If all its citizens still in ice were somehow released, that would just be opening the gates to another catastrophe.

“Yes,” Sakura adds. “But, if it was their frozen state that killed them, then most, if not all of the frozen people would have died by this point.”

And Valparaiso would be swarmed by hundreds of thousands of zombies, which clearly is not happening. Then again, we have no way to ascertain that “dying in an ice tomb = rising as zombie”, but then again, the streets of Valparaiso are littered with ice tombs, not corpses.

“I still want to help Madam Alicia. It’s the least I can do to answer her hospitality.”

Sakura’s small hands slide along the smooth ice. This room’s temperature is above zero, so it clearly takes more than that to melt it.

“I tried punching it—”

Hey.

“—but I couldn’t crack it, not even with reinforcement…hmm, not that I’m good at it.” She gestures towards the husband. “Mister Drake is much better at reinforcing, but…”

“Personal reinforcement is inefficient, anyway,” Maria points out. “Unless you’re a master at it, or you have a spell and system fine-tuned for that purpose.”

“Yes, it is as Miss Maria says. I don’t know about Mister Javier, but Miss Maria’s a Servant…”

“You seriously want me to try punching this?” Maria ponders, rapping the ice with her knuckles. “What about melting it?”

“I…I can’t use that kind of magecraft,” Sakura admits with her already-too-common bashful tone. Is she seriously a pro wrestler? “My Hand des Hölle releases fire too explosively; that wouldn’t be very safe. The best we can do here are Mister Drake’s Jade Lanterns, but…”

“Hmm…” Maria turns to the glowing gems, studiously looking at them as if her eyes could reveal their secrets. Then, just as quickly, she dismisses them to look at Sakura instead. So, what was the point of that?

“So, what can you do, anyway?”

“Maria!” I hiss before I can stop myself but Sakura dismisses the rude words with muffled laughter.

“Ahaha, like I said, I’m not really a magus. Mister To—my father, is quite disappointed with me…for various reasons.”

That smile on your face tells me you’re not bothered at all by that.

“And in these circumstances, I don’t feel I need to hide that my element is Hollow. Conventional magecraft is a little difficult for me.”

Apparently something of major importance has been said, because Maria and Mister Drake are staring at Sakura like she has declared she is actually a man.

My arm is suddenly gripped by Maria’s hand. It hurts.

“Javier, Javier,” she whispers too loudly for the whispering to achieve any purpose. “We found a rare Pokémon.”

What does that even—

“Let’s catch her and sell’er!”

“Do you ever take anything seriously?”

Maria reminds us that she is by a fair number the youngest person in the room, by revealing the broad smile of a child half her age. I guess I’ll ask about this “Hollow” some other time.

“Sure, let’s do serious,” the still-smiling Maria declares. “Javier, you’re pretty good at melting ice; it’s how we’re getting fresh water in our love nest—ow. Dick.”

The only love story here stars my fist and your head.

“Maria.”

“Fine, fine. Anyway, you seem to be decent at heat and energy transfer; wouldn’t be surprised if fire’s your elemental affinity.”

Wait, we have those videogame-like traits?

“So? Want to give it a try at the creepy magical ice?”

And I’m suddenly the center of attention, both Maria and Sakura stepping aside to clear my view of the bulky cocoon of ice in front of me.

At this point, you can propose a deduction for the following question, or you can choose to dismiss the issue for the time being.

Why were some people spared from being entombed in ice?


Write-in.
I don’t know (yet).

Who, if anybody, should try releasing Alicia Drake?


Javier should review his magecraft and try his best.
Aura Sla—no, wait! AURA FIST.
So what’s the deal with that "Hollow" thing anyway?
Do nothing for now.
Write-in.

Rafflesiac
August 30th, 2018, 10:03 PM
The way I see it, there are two reasons that someone wouldn't be frozen: either they're magical enough to resist it, or they're a Master/Master candidate. It's hard to judge the likeliness of the latter option since I'm not sure how many Servants there are, but it's already unlikely due to Sakura and Oliver not really having any reason to lie or hide that fact. Oliver especially, since it's in his best interest to end this shit and defrost his wife and kid. So I'll deduce it's because they were magical enough to resist it; Sakura may be a spellcaster instead of a magus, but girl's still Victini enough to matter.

Also 1) Ganbatte Javier! Worst case scenario Alicia dies, Oliver kicks him out and we all get to feel horrible, but hey it's worth a shot. Also morally speaking it's not like it's any better trying to defrost some rando on the street.

- - - Updated - - -

Or maybe being on a leyline nexus could've prevented being frozen? But that hasn't been mentioned at all, so that's just shooting in the dark, plus there's no indication of the hostel being that special, so I'll stick with my prior assumption.

Spartacus
August 31st, 2018, 04:40 AM
The spared people are most likely magically adapt, curiously besides Maria, they seems aren't a true mage. The baddies need them to be not a true mage somehow to perform some sort of ritual. I don't think we have enough information yet to determine anything though.

1. We might found our niche protagonist ability from this. Maria might be too powerful and kill the person inside, and I don't think knowing Sakura's magecraft will help us in this particular situation considering she didn't do anything about the frozen people until now.

Bird of Hermes
August 31st, 2018, 04:44 PM
I agree that those with magical potential seem to be safe from getting frozzed. Not necessarily a magus outright as apparently just having Magical Circuits seems to be enough. However I'd say we need more research to reaffirm this hypothesis.

I propose 1 & 3 as Fire seems a natural counter but Sakura can probably help out with this. I don't necessarily know how but it's a hunch.

Also I propose Maria doesn't use mega punch, she'll probably do some harm to the people inside.