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Thread: [Quest] Lost Singularity - Fimbulwinter

  1. #1481
    後継者 Successor zikari8's Avatar
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  2. #1482
    Evil of Humanity Half-Blood Master's Avatar
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    4: Javier Lucero will take responsibility for showing these women a world kinder than the darkness of the Fourth Reich. He will walk with them, as their friend, for as long as they want him by their side. If anything more should come from that, that's for the future.

    1: He’ll do it, but he'll do it because of their feelings and his own.

    Sorry for the lateness, I really didn't have the presence of mind to look back at this till these week.

    I was gonna post a whole shonen speech here but it went away with my ability to breathe with my nose and hasn't come back with it, but to sum up: this is the only choice that is centered around what I consider to be the golden ending for the girls; to be shown the world, to be shown happiness and good experiences. Humans should not own each other, they should touch. For women who have been as hurt as this girls, to be able to decide and enjoy the touch offered is the greatest gift

    And yes, this is centered around Javier's inadequacy, which is ultimately the source of his inflated desire and thus a whole host of problems of which his dehumanization is only the most flashy. But hey, he doesn't get to choose how others value him, and he wouldn't be just walking along side them: they are walking with him.

    Okay that is all, and it is what I choose. And even if we end up the losing option, I will be glad to die besides a dwarf and a... wait, a Brit? what have I done...
    Quote Originally Posted by Faux, July 20th 2019
    We gave HBM, of all people, access to a morals loosening field
    Quote Originally Posted by Faux, December 25th 2019
    Senta deserves the right to a life where she gets to choose if she's actually a Nazi
    True Rider
    A wise and beautiful woman who exudes an aura of grace. She is a sly, cunning, manipulative person who always gets what she wants, whether through trickery or ruthlessness. Her own fighting abilities are low, but she should not be trifled with. What does she ride? Men, of course!

  3. #1483
    wwwww Spartacus's Avatar
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    As long it's not the second choice I can vote, I suppose.

    First choice is 4.

  4. #1484
    Time to burn some dread Daneel Rush's Avatar
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    The world above is…bright. Her unaccustomed eyes complain at the contrast with the gloomy depths of Irkalla. This lasts only an instant, for her senses are not those of a mortal.

    Looking up, Utu shines powerfully, no trace of mercy in its bathing the lands with harsh, parching light. The mortals have no choice but to labor under the blazing radiance, powerless against the blatant and meaningless display of divine presence and might. The demon finds it laughable—if he is so powerful, why isn’t he down there, dealing with the problem for which she was created? If he cannot chastise his own sister, why should she hold anything but contempt for this so-called great god?

    She also wonders why she stands where she stands. Why did the Queen of Irkalla not just lead her to her target? All building foundations belong to Ereškigal; couldn’t she just drop her in the basement closest to the rampaging goddess? Are all the gods just plain useless?

    Regardless, complaining fulfills no purpose. She is a divine creation, bound to their commands. She was created for a single purpose, and her existence moves in a straight path towards performing that purpose. There is nothing else.

    She is nothing else.

    Reaching the goddess’ city is not a problem. Even if she has never set foot on this world, she knows the way. It pulls her, her fate an invisible tether. She is conflict; not even the god who gave her a body could even dare to change that, or give her a purpose other than to create and engage in conflict. If she is meant to fight the Queen of Heaven, then that is what will happen. She does not—cannot—lament it. Why would she? It is what she is. What she is meant to be.

    The city bears the signs of the goddess’ passing. Houses many are draped in the colors of mourning. Women cry the loss of their men, claimed by the goddess either by battle or by intercourse. The White Temple of the Heavenly Father is almost a ruin, shattered, trampled and ravaged by the goddess’ dance. The streets are painted in blood, the walls of mudbrick and stone scarred by a storm of blade, spear, arrow and mace.

    This is a tragedy. Even the demon recognizes this. This cannot even be called “conflict”, merely the goddess one-sidedly trampling over mortals for no reason but her own indulgence. While the demon cares not for the causes and consequences of conflict, she can recognize that this is a net loss to the World. These are mortal lives lost, and therefore denied the opportunity to engage in real conflicts. That is enough reason for the demon to side with the cowardly, powerless gods.

    They are loathsome. The goddess, too, is loathsome. The demon cares not for how loathsome they are, but she does care about mortals being denied a life of conflict.

    The mortals that see her walk down the street flee in sheer terror, and those are the brave ones who dared look in her direction in the first place. The streets become devoid of life, freeing the way for the demon to walk alone and unperturbed in a city empty except for the fear of its citizens, palpable like a carpet of fog laid on the empty streets for the goddess’ melam.

    The demon feels it, of course. She has felt it from the moment she set foot on the goddess’ territory; the city she claims as her own. Uruk is Ishtar’s city, and her presence fills it contentedly, her existence spread across it like heavenly butter. She claims everything and denies the people of Uruk any semblance of peace. Even huddled inside their homes, they have no choice but to feel the presence divine as if she stood right by their side. They must feel her and fear her at all times; there is no alternative.

    It is…disconcerting, to stand in this city of Ishtar. The closer she gets to her enemy, the stronger the certainty, the sheer…correctness entering her awareness. As if a constellation missing a star this whole time is now complete.

    This is Fate. This is as it is meant to be. What is the demon to make of that?

    The presence of the one she is supposed to loathe, reject and oppose embraces her like a king meeting a dear friend. Her immensity, her intensity, her warmth, her bloodlust, her greed, her desire, her selfishness, her arrogance—all that and more the demon feels through her melam, and not a single part of it feels wrong. Everything fits. Everything is right where it needs to be, and in the right amount. Everything is correct and proper and righteous.

    It is baffling. The very existence called ‘Ishtar’ defies comprehension.

    The demon steps into the goddess’ chambers and stops—rather, she is stopped, as if the very idea of movement had been erased from the universe.


    It smells of meat and sweat and sex, of burnt offerings and charred flesh, of milk and beer and semen, of scented oils and human blood. Goblets and drapes spilled on the floor amidst the carpet of human bodies build a scene of disorder, of carelessness and rambunctiousness that is like prayer to Ishtar. Like death, she too is the great equalizer: priests and nobles, prostitutes and commoners are all equally broken before her insatiable depredation. She picks and she plucks without thought or care, for she claims all as the blossoms of her garden of love and violence.

    Her throne is the luxurious bed the temple prepared for its goddess: an impressive block of limestone on which rests a feather mattress—an inconceivable luxury only the wealthiest kings could hope to match. Bronze poles rise from the corners of the stone block, each of them carefully sculpted to depict the goddess herself and her feats of sex and bloodlust; a permanent depiction of what likely happened in this very chamber the previous night.

    She is gold, milky white, lapis lazuli and carmine. Her nudity is both vulgarity and transcendence. Her voluptuousness obscene and artistic. Her smile a curse and a privilege. Her eyes a promise of unimaginable pleasure and soul-shattering agonies. Her entire existence is the best and worst of absolutely everything. She stands at both ends of every imaginable spectrum, for that is the very essence of her divinity.

    She is the living contradiction. The violence for the sake of peace. The effort for the sake of rest. The death for the sake of life. The madness for the sake of art. The crudeness for the sake of greatness. She is the virtuous child born of rape and the lowly servant that rises to mighty kingship. She is the prized whore gilded in the finest jewelry, and the queen that only knows orgasms from her slaves. She is the most beloved priestess despite having been born a man, and the woman who found his calling as a furious sword dancer.

    She is the good in every tragedy, and the hypocrisy in every act of virtue. She is the eternal, undying reminder that the world is not black and white. She is the exaltation of twistedness, the glorification of human imperfection. The most despised and most beloved, for she is the exaggerated reflection of every single human being.

    That is Ishtar of radiance without equal.

    “You do not kneel, stranger,” the goddess speaks at last. This is a good thing, for the demon was stunned, frozen by the immensity, the supremacy of the Queen of Heaven. Reclined on her mattress, resting on a cushion of weakly squirming men and women, her libidinous presence is glorious. Every single tantalizing motion of her incomparably perfect body is a voiceless command demanding adoration.

    Hers is the presence of one who owns the universe, and knows it. Rather than her beauty or her melam, it is her fathomless ego and self-affirmation that knocks the demon into stillness like a physical force.

    She is beautiful. Incomparably beautiful and perfect. And that is precisely why the demon must punish her.

    This World does not guarantee anything to anybody, not even the gods. Nobody is entitled to anything. Ishtar has claimed everything and taken it with her own two hands; that is to be commended. However, by doing so, she has taken much from many others, who now long to get those things back. The demon cares not for the weak gods’ need for validation or balance. She only wants to restore conflict in this world in which fear of Ishtar has created the darkest, most perfect peace.

    “Why does anybody kneel to an ignorant child who thinks she can get away with anything? It baffles me.”

    The goddess’ melam lashes out like a whip, a storm and the weight of a mountain. The entire front side of the temple chambers and the inner wall separating it from the rest of the city both scatter away like sand blown off the palm of a child’s hand, but the demon stands unbothered, safeguarded by her own divine radiance. The mortals still alive inside the bedchamber do not move, fear of death only second to fear of drawing the goddess’ attention once more.

    “Hmph. My vizier did mention it; that Enki had made a warrior to challenge me,” the goddess brings up, utterly uncaring of the destruction she has unleashed upon her city.

    “Your vizier spoke ignorantly. I am not here to challenge; I am here to castigate.”

    Is the goddess so blinded by her hubris that she knows not what stands in front of her?

    Ishtar finds no humor in the demon’s words. This is only natural; the demon knows nothing of humor.

    Parroquia San Luis Gonzaga, Valparaíso
    Uttercold (-46°C/-50.8°F)


    This is weird. Bizarre, even. I didn’t even know this was possible.

    Never before, in my entire life, has sex made me feel like this: like I need to sit down somewhere quiet and think about what I’ve done. And that’s why I’m here, on a rooftop that’s become way too familiar recently, to think by myself. I guess Garmr went back to Senta now that morning’s come.

    How the hell did I end up like this, questioning the correctness of having…well, not really a threesome?

    …ah, what am I thinking? Why does it matter?

    I made my choice. I’ll stay with them because I want to give them the life they deserve, and the chance to make up for their deeds under the yoke of the Fourth Reich. I might not be able to do any of that, but I’m still gonna try. I don’t know where that will take us, but there’s no point in lamenting disappointments yet to come.

    I just…I just want to be with them. That’s enough of a reason to work hard from now on. I don’t know how long this feeling will last. I don’t know who among the three of us will be the first to lose this feeling. None of that matters. What matters is that we’re a team now. We’re together now, for good or ill. And if we die today, we die as a team. As friends. As something real.

    But we’re not gonna die today. We’re going to win, and we’re going to live, and we’ll look forward to the uncertain tomorrow. But we will have to earn that.

    We’re not entitled to anything. If we want something, we have to grasp it with our own hands. We have to deserve it.

    …sounds like something Lily would say.

    It is not snowing, but the ocean wind does not let go. There does not seem to have been further snowfall throughout the night, so the streets “cleaned” by the events of battle remain clean. Those that simply had the old snow stirred now have piles of very compact white pressed against the buildings. A good part of the blocks closest to the sea have been utterly razed; it looks like the aftermath of a week of air strikes. This city is thoroughly broken, and that’s only the parts that I can see. According to Ortrud, the aqueduct and drainage systems are both ruined beyond hope, and I doubt the power lines will work after the temperature goes back to normal, and that’s the ones tied to posts still standing.

    It…is probably very cold out here. It looks cold. I do not feel it; the divine flame keeps me nice and warm. I feel refreshed and full of energy; it makes no sense, considering yesterday’s ordeals and the fact I didn’t get that many hours of sleep—I don’t think anybody did last night.

    Character Status
    Health: Stable
    Sustenance: Stable
    Warmth: Optimal
    Stamina: Optimal
    Regression Level 3

    Magic circuits active.
    Ortrud’s ritual…might have just ruined sex for me forever. I mean, it’s literally regaining energy by fucking. That’s amazing; revolutionary, even. The world would be a better place if every couple could do that. I don’t know how I didn’t reopen my wounds in that…that frenzy. I guess because they were closed with magecraft?

    Anyway, I have so much energy I don’t know what to do with it, but I guess that’s precisely what I need right now. I can keep my circuits running to keep myself warm, and…

    The flame…I guess ‘at ease’ is the best word I can use right now. I feel like we have reached some sort of peace with each other. An agreement. I know what the flame really wants, and the flame knows I intend to do that. Why wouldn’t I? It’s not like I can keep this flame to myself—if this whole mess ends and I don’t give it what it wants, it will just leave, maybe even destroying me in the process.

    Every flame is supposed to stop burning at some point. No volcano spews lava forever. When it fulfills its intended purpose, it will fade out. If not allowed to do that, it will rampage. The choice is obvious.

    The flame has already changed me, reforged me into something not quite human. This is also the consequence of my own choices and actions, and therefore I must live with it for the rest of my days.

    I stand up. I feel like being daring and try a little experiment…God, if this is the post-coital endorphins filling me with baseless confidence, then I really need to grow up.


    For a moment, an electric jolt travels throughout my body, heating it up to a degree that should be uncomfortable but isn’t. It feels like liquid fire swirling in my marrow, but it is soothing, almost pleasurable. My spell does its job and fills me with strength, but a power not my own also responds to it, ready to support me as well. This is good. The flame has entrusted itself to me, believes in me.

    I can fight without fear. The flame won’t go out of control unless…unless I reach the end of the road, I guess. The ngen won’t accept defeat.



    She looks…no, I shouldn’t jump to conclusions. She looks worried, though; that I can’t question.

    “You look…okay,” says the girl with sword in hand. It disappears in a scattering of magical radiance. “I felt the divinity flaring, so…”

    “It’s fine,” is my simplistic answer that really doesn’t clarify anything. “I got it under control…I think. I was just testing if I can use my magecraft today.”

    “Huh. Alright…”


    There is a half-heartedness to her voice that tells me she is not entirely here. I wonder if it is conscious choice that pushes her to stand next to me, because she is definitely not looking at anything in the distance. Sorry to the Valpos who are proud of their city, but there’s really nothing to look at out there. It’s all frozen and broken.

    “You alright, Maria?”

    She looks and sounds surprised by the question.

    “Eh? Ah, no, I, I just…” She crosses her arms; I don’t need to be a psychologist to tell such an obvious defensive gesture. “…I had a weird dream last night.”

    “Define weird.”

    Maria just shakes her head, and I know she won’t speak of it. We stay silent together for a while, looking at nothing. I can only let Maria lose herself in her thoughts and look down on myself for being unable to do better.



    “…do you think I can beat her?”

    So that’s what this is all about. I can only do and say what I believe is right. If I screw up, I’ll face my mistakes. That’s…that’s the best a simple person like me can do.

    “I don’t think it matters.”

    Of course, I can almost hear the strain on her neck muscles when she turns to stare at me.

    “I mean, she’s basically a goddess, right? Who the fuck would blame you for losing? I know I wouldn’t.”

    Yeah, it’s as simple as that. My…appreciation for Maria and the person she is will not be swayed by her success or failure at fighting a fucking god. I would not care for the asshole who looked down on Liria and me had we lost against Mummu.

    “If you win, awesome; we’ll raise you on our shoulders and I’ll make you that chili con carne you seem to like so much. If you lose, that’s also fine. We’ll do our best to survive in Ishtar’s world until we get another chance to take her down.”

    “Nah, nah, if I lose today, we’re losing Saver, you know? It’s now or never, Javier.”

    “Not really,” I counter. “If you lose today, then we’ll just have to figure out a way to beat her without Saver in the future.”

    Maria scoffs.

    “What’s with the absurd positivism?”

    “Nah, even I know I sound ridiculous.”

    Yeah, no point in denying it. Was it really that long since I last got laid? I’m all bubbly here, it’s disgusting.

    “But it’s the truth, you know. I won’t speak for everybody else, but I don’t care if you win or lose, Maria. I just want you to live. Even if it means groveling and begging Ishtar for your life.”

    Even if we win, is it really worth a world without Maria Westinghouse?

    Yeah, fuck that shit.

    “Just live, Maria—”

    I have nothing else to say, and there’s no need to comment on the weight of Maria’s body on my flank, or her arms around my waist. She’s just a girl, damn it. She should be in college, learning to cram overnight and get wasted, not necessarily in that order. Out of all the idiots who ended up stuck in this frozen hellhole, she is the youngest one. Why would anybody in this situation place the burden of the fate of the world on her? I want to meet that person so I can wreck their face.

    The only thing I can do with squeeze her shoulder the way Father Scissors used to do to a younger, even stupider me.

    “Just live. That’s the best thing you can do for all of us.”

    When I make to sit back down, Maria wordlessly follows suit. She no longer hugs me, but her head still rests on my shoulder. She just…wants to rest, and I will not deny her that. I kind of get how hard it is to feel you have to be strong all the fucking time.

    She chuckles. That’s always a good sign, right.

    “Getting all full of yourself now that you had your epic victory and won the girl, huh,” she says, her usual teasing tone not as strong this time. Wait, who’s the girl she’s talking about? Senta?

    Oh, whatever.

    “Yeah, yeah, fuck you, Maria,” I curse lackadaisically.

    “Sorry, I’m allergic to shrimp.”

    “Oh, fuck off!” I insist amidst the girl’s restored laughter. “Bet you’re not even allergic.”

    “Of course not; just mocking your tiny dick.”

    “Like you’ve even seen a dick, you virgin brat.”

    “Yeah, I’ve yet to lose my virginity, ‘cause I’ve never lost.” She laughs, and I couldn’t be happier. “Gotta make sure that doesn’t change today!”

    It is strange how we can have this kind of easygoing talk at…hell, I don’t even know how cold it is right now. It’s insane. These past days have been thoroughly insane.

    “Do you have a plan?” I regret asking the moment the words leave my mouth. To my good fortune, Maria does not seem to mind.

    “…rather than a plan, it’s more of an idea. Something I noticed while hearing you guys all ranted and conjectured about that moron in the fetish dress. The dream also helped a bit.”

    “…a penny for your thoughts, like you Americans say?”

    “I’ve never met a single American who says that,” Maria retorts without mercy. “And no, that woman is my problem, anyway. You guys will have your own business to deal with.”


    “Javier, blondie.” A very familiar voice from the church tower’s stairs. “I can’t believe they made me come all the way here to get you two nutjobs; it’s murderously cold out here.”


    “Whassup, Nazi tits,” Maria greets the newcomer with a nickname that makes me groan.

    “Nazi or whatever, your friend over there loves them.”

    I groan louder.

    “Figures,” says a Maria surprisingly blasé about everything Ortrud is implying. I pray to all gods I am wrong, but could it be that she already knows? “This guy here is as average straight male as it gets.”

    “You say that like it’s some sort of defect,” I grumble.

    “Nah, just average. Normal. Generic. Rote. Predictable,” details a Maria who seems to be having way too much fun at my expense (?). “If anything, makes it extra impressive you ended up scoring the two Nazi girls for yourself.”

    I’ll just go with rolling my eyes. Also, please don’t put it like that. Also, when the hell did you find out?

    “Garmr has stupid super-dog senses,” Ortrud, who apparently can just read my thoughts now, explains. “His first words to Senta this morning were, and I quote: ‘you mated a lot last night, master, master’s sister. Good for you.’ She has yet to recover from that, and I strongly recommend not looking at her in the face for a while.”

    It becomes Ortrud’s turn to chuckle.

    “Who’d have thought that gloomy necromancer would turn out such a maiden?”

    “Uwaah…” Maria makes a sound of mock-disgust as she inches away from me. “What am I doing? If I stick around, I’ll end up another mark in your tally.”

    Now that’s just low, little girl.

    “And you!” She points at the grinning Ortrud. “Seriously! Spreading your legs for a guy you met hours earlier?”

    “Says the girl from the country of freedom,” counters the Hexensoldat, as amusedly as the blondie next to me. “Let me tell you, girl: theosophists have the best sex ever.”

    A bizarre thing to say, considering Blavatsky was a very well-known prude. Worst part is that I cannot disagree. There is not a woman in this world, no matter how beautiful or skilled, who can compete against that ritual. It makes me feel bad for Senta, who is just the type to compare her ‘performance’ to Ortrud’s as if that made any sort of sense, but it is how it is. The only thing Ortrud and I can do is make sure she knows she is loved.

    “I…really don’t need to know, thank you very much,” Maria realizes, her horror dawning even faster as she notices Ortrud’s equally growing smirk.

    “Really? And here I was just revving up to tell you all the juicy details of our hot, sweaty, raunchy—”

    “Ew, ew, eww!” Maria hastily recoils like my mother at the sight of a particularly large grub. I’m probably not making a particularly agreeable face myself.

    “Come on, think of it as a valuable reference—”

    “Like I care! Shut up!”

    Ortrud walks over to claim my right side, plopping herself down with no elegance whatsoever. We exchange glances for a moment before settling back on staring at the distant nothing that is the ruined Valparaíso.

    “Uwaaah, even the whole ‘speaking with a glance’ thing! What the actual fuck!?”

    Ortrud snorts rather crudely and loudly before outright exploding into laughter. I can only shake my head. Forget Senta, this young girl here is the real maiden.

    “It’s nothing like that, you idiot. Besides, everything that needed to be said, we said last night.”

    “Yeah,” Ortrud lazily agrees, smiling as if recalling a good memory. “By the way, Javier, they want your flame downstairs to help with breakfast.”

    “Oh? Huh, didn’t even know we had break—ah, the dinner’s leftovers.”


    The advantage of this ungodly weather is that everything that can be preserved is preserved.

    “Alright then, let’s get that done and eat while we still can,” I tell them as I get back up yet again. “You guys staying here?”

    “Fuck no,” Ortrud declares despite having sat down just a moment ago. “I’m not a monster like you two. I’ll already have to come out here to fight for my life and that’s enough for me, thank you very much.”

    “You could have just stayed in the tower and called out to us from there.”

    “Don’t be stupid, Javier; you’re not in the tower, you’re out here.”

    Even Maria, who was still mock-gagging a few steps away, has to stop to look straight at Ortrud, her face making it extremely clear she doesn’t have a retort. And I…well, damn. I’ve completely lost, and I didn’t even know we were competing in any way or form.

    “I want to be with you.”

    This is the last time I underestimate the effect those words can have on a person.

    *** ***


    This is a Locked Save Point.

    If your quest reaches a Dead End, it may only resume from this point.

    *** ***

    First Choice of the Day
    Javier will have time for one brief chat before it’s time to gather and make plans. Please choose one from the options below.

    1. How is Father Scherer doing? Even if he’s not going to fight, he is a pillar of moral support, at least to Javier.
    2. Let’s check on Seigi Nomikata. Last night’s treatment seems to have worked out, but he was wrecked pretty badly, so it’s too early to relax on that regard.
    3. Oliver Drake is probably with his convalescent wife. If I want to check on them at any point, this might be the one and only chance.
    4. It’s probably not a bad idea to check on Elisabeth and Isolde. That one seems the type to pull off shit the moment we drop our guard.

    Last edited by Daneel Rush; May 10th, 2023 at 12:48 PM.

  5. #1485
    So Many Ideas, So Little Time SleepMode's Avatar
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    Guy's the most physically vulnerable of the lot so far. He's in good hands under Fiore, but wiser to be there just in case.
    The Act of dozing off in the afternoon is a luxury indeed.
    Coffee would be nice, though.

    [Collection of my Servant Sheets]
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  6. #1486
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six SpoonyViking's Avatar
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    2. I'm always up for more Father Scherer, but we've had a good scene with him; let's see if we can get some proper bonding between Javier and Seigi.

  7. #1487
    Persona rajvir's Avatar
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    I'm voting solely because I've loved every scene with Father Scherer, and would love to see him get the chance to tease Javier as well, especially if he keeps up his boundless positivity.

  8. #1488
    wwwww Spartacus's Avatar
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  9. #1489
    後継者 Successor zikari8's Avatar
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  10. #1490
    Time to burn some dread Daneel Rush's Avatar
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    Parroquia San Luis Gonzaga, Valparaíso
    Uttercold (-46°C/-50.8°F)

    Character Status
    Health: Stable
    Sustenance: Stable
    Warmth: Optimal
    Stamina: Optimal
    Regression Level 3

    Magic circuits active.
    After a quick and nondescript breakfast—Enheduanna’s dinner was delicious, but it’s not the same eating the just-cooked meal in a fancy, thermally-regulated room, and eating the leftovers at a drab parish house dining table…hmm?

    My feet stop mere steps away from the door to the room where Seigi Nomikata currently rests. Ortrud and Maria are caught by surprise and almost crash on my back.

    “Javier?” Ortrud voices her worry.

    “Nah, it’s just, I saw…”

    The two just walking around the corner and out of sight were Elisabeth and Isolde. Did they come out of this room?

    Not bothering to reply to Ortrud, I walk the final steps and knock on the door.

    “It’s me,” I call out, not quite sure of who I’m expecting to answer.

    “Javier? Do come in, it’s alright.”


    The other side of the door reveals the warmth of Oliver Drake’s jewel lamps, improving the comfort level just a little bit above the frozen hellhole that is the current Valparaíso. The people in this room need it, that’s for sure.

    Seigi Nomikata sits on the bed, his body mostly wrapped in thick wool blankets while trying to eat some sort of porridge (puree?) out the wooden spoon in Fiore’s hand (metal spoons get too cold). Naturally, Fiore, too, is protecting herself from the cold with a thick blanket over thick clothes.

    Nomikata…is a sorry sight. In my former job, I heard a lot of tales of sailors rescued after being a stranded at sea for weeks, or even months. That’s the image I get from the man on the bed: thoroughly famished, pretty much skin and bones. That’s why he gets the gemstone lamps—he probably lacks the nutrients to self-regulate his temperature.

    “Mr. Seigi? Look, we have visitors.”

    I’m…not sure he is even aware of us—oh, no, he is raising his head to look at us.

    “…yes. Sorry, I…”

    “No, you don’t need to push yourself if it’s too hard to talk,” Fiore tells the man who seems to have become deathly still after speaking a single sentence fragment. Then, he shakes his head, the motion slow, almost machine-like.

    “There is…a lag between my mind…and my body. It’s hard…to do things.”

    I see. He’ll need some time to get used to that. Well, hopefully it won’t stay like that forever, but…

    Fiore seems to read my expression, because she takes the word next.

    “Mr. Seigi took metaphysical damage—damage to his soul, which is also projected onto his body. This is completely beyond my expertise.”

    Yeah, it would be too much asking of Fiore to just have all the answers. However…

    “Wasn’t Isolde just here?”

    “Uh, no? I haven’t seen them this morning.”

    I can’t keep the frown off my forehead at that answer. So…Isolde and Elisabeth were standing at the door, and slipped away when they heard us approaching? What are those two up to?

    “Hmm…” It is Ortrud who knees by the bed, intently studying Nomikata’s appearance. “Is there anything else you feel? Any specific discomfort somewhere in your body?”

    Nomikata needs a while to turn his head from me just past the door to Ortrud now by his bed in front of Fiore. The way he stares at her makes it unclear whether it’s the delay keeping him from answering right away, or just sheer reluctance to do so, and Ortrud seems to think the same.

    “…right, I get it, the uniform. But I’m not ditching it before the weather goes back to normal,” Ortrud poutingly declares, crossing her arms in front of—or rather, underneath her bust.

    “She’s with me,” I say, not quite happy with how that sounds. Heck, Ortrud herself chuckles at the words.

    Stop smirking, Maria. Little brat.

    An indecipherable grunt escapes Nomikata’s lips. Some seconds later, he turns to look down at his own hands on his lap. It is strange and annoying how every single thing he does happens just past the point I would normally expect, in just the right way to test my patience. I wonder if the others feel similarly.

    “Mr. Seigi, would you like to continue eating?”

    Nomikata does not turn towards Fiore; not now, and not a while later. He does reply, though.


    Fiore seems to have gotten a read of Nomikata’s “delay” even before the man himself. She brings the spoon to his mouth at right about the same time he opens his mouth.

    It is…a disquieting scene. We don’t even know what that Mummu’s endgame was. Obviously, he wanted to use the Grail, but then when that failed, he used Nomikata’s alchemy to create that egg thing that felt like a Grail, and it was doing something to the sky. Could he have done the same if he had possessed me instead? Was Nomikata simply a target of opportunity, and I the lucky one who was spared? It gives me the chills.

    Maria, who has been quiet the whole time, walks over to the small, very-much-boarded window and leans on the wall next to it, also crossing her arms in a more impatient than defensive gesture this time.

    “Fiore, I can tell you’ve been busy, but have you put some thought into what we talked about…?”

    The former mage shakes her head with the graceful slowness with which she seems to do everything.

    “Well, I would lie if I said I haven’t, but the only idea I came up with seems a little…”

    Maria seems to not mind the obvious hesitation and doubt in Fiore’s voice and expression.

    “Hey, it’s better than nothing.”

    “I would appreciate having an idea of what you two are talking about,” Ortrud points out. I have to say I agree.

    “Last night, while you were having fun with the Nazi girls, Fiore here was getting me up to date with everything you talked at dinner with Enheduanna.”

    She just had to go and put it like that. I’d rather not look at Fiore right now. I don’t know how Ortrud can let the words just flow past her like water; I’ll have to ask me to teach me her ways.

    “The more we know about her, the more we understand about her, the better to figure out how to beat her. Right now, there are two big questions I still haven’t been able to answer. The first is why she has the pen. We already talked about that last night. The second is Nazi tits right here.”

    “Huh?” The ‘Nazi tits’ in question very naturally utters.

    “You and your damn siblings, yes. Senta asked her, didn’t she? Why did she make you? The Fourth Reich didn’t really need you, and she’s not really the type to go through that effort just to give fucktoys to Wiligut and Kammler.”

    “Maria and I couldn’t reach a conclusion last night, so we decided to sleep on it, but, really, the only answer I can think of…”

    “Is…?” Maria encourages the ex-mage.

    “…motherhood. She just wanted to be a mother—no, listen to me for a moment,” Fiore quickly requests upon seeing very much the same look plastered on everyone’s faces. “I didn’t say a good mother. The thing is, while she is connected to life and fertility, Ishtar is not particularly what modern scholarship calls a ‘mother goddess’. Creation is not a notable element of her mythos, nor is it her giving birth to other gods.”

    She presents her hands like scales.

    “Same goes for Enheduanna: as far as we know, she did not have children. She may have followed a vow of chastity her entire life, devoting her body to the gods. That is why I can conceive the possibility that she merely wanted to exercise her life-making prerogative, both as a god and as a woman.”

    Nomikata mumbles something I don’t quite catch and, by the looks on the others, I’d say nobody did. If I had to hazard a guess, it kinda sounded like ‘Nina’.

    “But, it’s not like she gave birth to us,” Ortrud counters. “We’re homunculi. We were literally born in a big glass tube.”

    “Perhaps what mattered to her was the act of ‘creating life’,” Fiore conjectures. “Perhaps she is not even capable of authentic motherhood. Perhaps the very fact she is not connected to motherhood either as goddess or priestess means that, as a Servant, she completely lacks any maternal instinct.”

    She shrugs almost dismissively, as if giving up on explaining a bad joke.

    “Or perhaps we’ll never know.”

    In the end, a lot was said, but nothing was concluded. Even after discovering The Maid’s True Name, she remains unfathomable.

    Maria groans at the apparent futility of the whole discussion.

    “So, in the end we don’t really know anything new…well, I guess I’ll have to figure something out myself somehow.”

    I don’t like the sound of that.



    Nomikata speaks again, his head hung low looking at his lap, or perhaps not really at anything.

    “She wields…both the Dance…and the Word…” He says, his voice flat like an old, damaged record. “Even if you can match her Dance…you can’t defeat…her Unconquerable Sword…unless you overcome…her Divine Name…”

    The redhead’s body sways dangerously on the bed, as if the muscle movements necessary to speak were enough to threaten his balance.

    “Not a battle of magic, or power…a battle…of conviction…”

    We all remain silent for a while, as if expecting Nomikata to say anything else. When it becomes clear that nothing more is to come, Fiore is the first to move. Together with Ortrud, they grab Nomikata’s body before it hits the nearby wall.

    “What the hell was that?” I sound like a dumbass, I know.

    “I do not know, but Mr. Seigi needs to lie down,” Fiore states. “He cannot control his body properly. He has to lie down before he hurts himself. Miss Ortrud, if you would be so kind.”

    “Yeah, yeah, I got this.”

    Maria has remained silent this whole time, her brow furrowed as she pushes the entire world away to dive into her own thoughts. They still spill out of her mouth, however, as if she needed to voice them so that they won’t fade into oblivion.

    “Her Divine Name…? If it’s ‘Ishtar’ then it’s obvious, but he said ‘Enheduanna’…” She shakes her head. “But, she doesn’t have a divine name; it doesn’t have the—well, she does have the dingir sign, but not at the beginning.”

    “What are you mumbling, Maria?”

    The girl has the gall to make a shooing gesture, like I’m some bug pestering her.

    “It’s hard to explain without writing the cuneiform,” she nonetheless explains, albeit never really looking at me. “Divine names always start with the dingir sign. It is a specific definer sign that indicates the name belongs to a divine being; it looks like an asterisk, kinda. Enheduanna’s ‘an’ is written with the same sign, but that doesn’t count; it has to be the first sign, which is not actually read.”

    “An asterisk? I remember an asterisk.” This gets Maria’s attention. Actually, Fiore and Ortrud are also listening. “When I was trying to destroy Mummu’s magic in the sky, Enheduanna contacted me, and a bunch of symbols showed up in her stead. Same when she was restoring Nomikata’s body, the same symbols appeared—well, I think it was the same symbols. And I definitely remember the asterisks, because they’re the only ones I could figure out in all that nonsense.”

    “The dingir sign? Really? At the start of the word?”

    “Yeah. Well, at the start from the left, if that’s what you mean.”

    Maria is still frowning, slowly shaking her head.

    “No, but, giving herself the dingir wouldn’t do shit by itself…”

    It seems something clicks in Maria’s head.

    “Come with me.”

    I don’t really have a choice—Maria pulls me away from the room, her insane Servant strength making it trivial for her to literally manhandle me with a single one of her small hands. Fiore and Ortrud look a little taken aback by the sudden act, although that doesn’t stop Ortrud from hurrying after us.

    Soon enough, we’re back on the rooftop, the reason becoming obvious when Maria kneels in front of a patch of snow to draw cuneiform.

    “Here!” Maria exclaims when finished. “Javier, were these the signs she showed you?”

    “Uhh…” I scratch my head at the indecipherable nonsense on the snow. “Look, Maria, you cannot expect me to remember those symbols. I…I honestly don’t know. They look the same, but…there could be something different, I’m not sure myself.”

    Maria clicks her tongue. She looks like she is about to say something, but stops herself with her mouth half-open. Instead, she closes it, and takes a deep breath. Ortrud is not coy about inching closer to me for the warmth my divine flame provides.

    Maria, for whatever reason, looks up at the sky. The aurora that painted it with all sorts of cold tones is gone, leaving only a drab grey canopy. There are no stars, no sun to be seen in this frozen realm.

    “The sky…”

    She all but freezes again on the top. By now, I already know to associate that stillness with her inner communication with Saver.

    “Javier, let’s try one last thing,” Maria then proposes as she hastily wipes off the cuneiform on both edges, leaving only the middle part.

    “Focus on the triangle at the end. Was it—”

    “Was it really there…?” I find myself saying even before Maria can ask her question. “I might be remembering wrong, but…wasn’t it more to the center? I think I remember that, because it was a big triangle, or she at least drew hers bigger, I dunno.”

    “No…” Maria is shaking her head, her exorbitated eyes seemingly shuddering as her mind runs laps outside of my comprehension. She is talking to Saver inside her head even more now, until she nods to herself, seemingly having reached a shared conclusion with the ancient demon.

    “It was a different sign. It was a different sign!”

    The girl jumps to her feet, excited for whatever reason.

    “She changed her name! She changed her fucking name, and engraved it on the World as a divine name! That’s her trick! That’s how she—fuck, that’s so dumb! It only works because that’s how her magic works; literal ‘Divine Words’!”

    Maria then realizes we are not partaking of her excitement, and this apparently makes her ruffle her own head in frustration.

    “Look, it’s not hard to get—you, Nazi tits; your name’s Ortrud, right? Like the evil bitch from Lohengrin. Imagine if every single woman named Ortrud had that witch’s powers, just because they had the same name.”

    “Fuck no, that would be horrible,” Ortrud jokingly comments.

    “Well, that’s how Enheduanna’s Age of Gods magic works: to us, language is just a convenient tool we use to describe the world around us, but to the people of her era, language was something greater than reality itself, because it was the tool the gods used to create the world,” Maria explains in an effusive voice, far more like the girl I met at the hostel before the world froze. “And just like her gods, she defines everything in reality by how she writes it! And that includes herself!”

    She is clenching her fists like she is about to jump in utter joy and celebration.

    “She rewrote the name ‘Enheduanna’ with different signs that gave it a new meaning! A far more powerful meaning that just ‘ornament of heaven’!”

    “And because the World already recognized her as divine through her Goddess Metamorphosis…” Ortrud, who is obviously less lost than me by now, adds her own musings to Maria’s frantic explanation of a sort. “…that’s just cheating. She could use her Divine Words to declare exactly what kind of god she wants to be.”

    “It has nothing to do with her being ‘also Ishtar’,” Maria adds, nodding eagerly at Ortrud’s input. “I’m sure it’s easier for her to get away with shit if she sticks to ‘being Ishtar’—that’s probably what she did in life, so that’s her ‘legend’. But, she could probably convince the World to let her reproduce any god of her pantheon! That’s how she got the pen!”

    “And she’s doing it with just magecraft!” Ortrud trembles. It’s probably not the cold. “Age of Gods magecraft, sure, but still…!”

    “Exactly,” Maria retorts, the word sounding almost vicious to my ears. “It’s just magecraft. You realize what that means?”

    There it is. It hasn’t been that long, but it still feels like forever since I last saw it: that fire in her eyes.

    “I can win. I can win!”

    Well, would you look at that. Anybody can see it: there is light in her eyes, there is a blaze there. I might not get the details, but she has found a path, a light at the end of the tunnel. She has found hope, and that’s everything I need to know.

    “Well, I don’t really get it, but I don’t need to get it, either,” I admit. Does the fact that I can say this without feeling bad about myself mean I’ve grown up a little? “I’m just glad you’ve got your confidence game in order.”

    For whatever reason, this makes Maria’s face alight with the brightest of smiles, almost like a little sun in this frozen hellscape. She looks even younger than her real age, like a child who got herself stuffed with her favorite candy. Really, this girl should be fighting anybody.

    “Anyway, no need to stay out here longer than necessary. Let’s go back inside and explain to Fiore why we ran off on her and Nomikata like—”

    We are interrupted, frozen in place by the most unexpected of sounds. There is an additional bizarreness on how well it fits this stage, yet it nevertheless comes out a complete surprise, and all the more unsettling for it.


    Wolves. It is perhaps the last sound you want to hear when walking alone on the snowy wilderness.

    “Was that…the Herald?” No, even I know that’s a stupid question. There is more than one animal, and the sounds, potent as they are, nonetheless come from very far away. It is unfortunate, but Maria’s smile is gone, replaced with the intense stare of a soldier expecting imminent violence. Her hand clenches a sword that is not there (yet). And Ortrud…


    She looks…immensely sad.

    “Remember what I said about staying away from Senta?” She speaks quietly, as if fearing being heard by the distant predators. “Forget that. We need to talk to Senta, now.”

    She doesn’t waste a moment and starts walking back to the church’s bell tower ahead of us.

    Werwolf was her project, after all.”

    *** ***


    Saying that everybody is gathered for our strategy meeting would be lie. Naturally, the Drakes are not involved, and Father Scherer has taken over Nomikata nursing duties so that Fiore and Marco Ahrens can be here. However, another person shines by their absence.

    “Where’s Liria?”

    Of course, I’m not the only one who’s noticed. The others share glances and frowns, trying to figure out when anybody last saw her.

    “I haven’t felt her presence around for a while,” Maria admits. “But she’s an Assassin, so that doesn’t really say a lot.”

    “Ah, the corpse demon left with the water girl a while ago.”

    We all turn to the Herald with varying degrees of confusion and exasperation. Most of us then turn to Senta, his Master, hoping we don’t need to tell her what we need.

    “Uhh…” The homunculus girl does not seem quite comfortable being the center of attention right now. She’s really avoiding my eyes, like wow. “Shielder, can you give us more details? Who is this ‘water girl’?”

    The scarred Servant shrugs.

    “Dunno. We noticed her coming this way, but Assassin said she would handle it. I didn’t think it was a problem; that girl didn’t seem very strong. Even her scent of divinity was very faint.”

    A ‘water girl’ with a scent of divinity…

    “Magda, huh…”

    Maria Magdalena Vyhmeister came here on her own? Without Diego? That…maybe it’s just the tension of everything that’s going on, but that seems mighty suspicious. And why did Liria decide to go with her? I mean, Liria is a Servant, so I don’t think she has anything to fear from Magda, but…

    “I’m sorry to say this, but I don’t think we have the time to dwell on this,” the Japanese mage/wrestler says in a firm, steeled tone. “We can only trust Liria knows what she’s doing.”

    “Yeah, we have our own problems to deal with. Senta?”

    Again, Senta hunches her shoulders and tries to make herself smaller when all the eyes fall on her. There is more than embarrassment there. If I have to make a guess…it’s guilt.

    Werwolf was not really my idea. Ahnenerbe developed the formula for induced lycanthropy in the last year of the war based on the Japanese Unit 731’s experimentation on the Ainu peoples to activate the ‘Lupine Factor’.”

    Maria groans with utmost disgust.

    “Look, we don’t need the gross details of the Nazis’ fucked-up experiments. Senta, you’re telling me the Fourth Reich has actual werewolves?”

    The bespectacled girl nods slowly.

    “Skorzeny’s werewolves could only be produced from people of the right bloodlines: the descendants of the Benandanti, the Neurian Scythians, and the wolf-men of the Icelandic sagas. My job was to develop a formula that would work on anyone…or at least anyone who would survive it.”

    “How many.” A question that doesn’t sound like a question. Right now, Senta is like a criminal in the interrogation booth. It feels like there should be a one-way mirror between the kitchen and the dining room.

    “…a dozen. But, Ortrud said New Asgard was flooded with magma, so I don’t know if they all survived that…”

    “Don’t do that, Senta.”

    Yes, the shitty Isolde is out for whatever reason.

    “You’re trying to downgrade the threat so that the monkeys will hate you less. Don’t do that; you know the Werwolf lab was one of the most secured and sturdiest chambers down there. I’d bet not a single drop of magma got even close to them—ow!”

    Ortrud clears her throat after slapping the back of her sibling’s head.

    “The way they put it aside, Isolde’s right this time. We have to assume the worst-case scenario: we’re dealing with the entire squad here. Including their leader.”

    “Leader?” Sakura wonders. “You don’t mean Berserker, do you?”

    “No, the werewolf leader,” Senta explains. “Or rather, the ‘alpha’. He took better to the formula than the others, and came out all the stronger for it. And they were…” Whatever it is Senta is trying to say, it obvious makes her very uncomfortable. Unfortunately for all of us, Isolde has no such qualms.

    “They were all local criminals ‘extracted’ from jail for Senta’s experiments, so they already followed a hierarchy of sorts to begin with.”

    Maria groans again, while the others remain wrapped in an uncomfortable silence. At no point in my life, I ever expected to be part of a discussion on human experimentation. Certainly not at the hands of a woman I…

    “So, what can we expect from these ‘werewolves’?” Sakura inquires, perhaps trying to keep the conversation moving to avoid overthinking things.

    “What you would expect.” Surprisingly, it is Marco who answers. “Superlative physical prowess, a predatory mindset and hunting pack tactics. They’re also surprisingly stealthy for their size. At least if they’re like the werwölfe of Skorzeny’s ‘Division Lüneburg´.”

    Senta confirms Marco’s presumptions with a single nod.

    “They can’t use magecraft?” Sakura continues.

    “No.” This time, Senta provides the answer. “There was no time for that. Besides…”

    “You have to be at least smart enough to wonder why we didn’t use them in the previous days,” Isolde interjects. “They’re not reliable. They can’t be trusted to follow orders, and almost impossible to teach. That’s why they were held in suspended animation…until now, I guess.”

    “There’s no need for reliability if their only command is to hunt and kill,” Ortrud points out.

    Again, silence ensues for a bit. I mean, what are you supposed to feel when you learn that Nazi werewolves are out to kill you?

    “So, I take it the question is whether to meet them out on the streets, or ready ourselves for a siege?”

    “No,” Marco promptly refutes. “A siege is not an option. There are civilians here, and we can’t forget the Werwölfe are not the main threat.”

    He grunts, glancing at Maria and me for whatever reason before resuming his speech.

    “The main enemies are four: Enheduanna, Archer, Wiligut, and Hexensoldat I.”

    “Based on his words last night, we can kind of group the first two together,” Sakura notes. “Archer will try to prevent anybody from reaching Enheduanna.”

    “You don’t need to think about that,” Maria declares, again crossing her arms as she leans on the nearest wall. “I have to fight Enheduanna, so I guess I have to beat Archer first.”

    (BGM STOP)

    Again, a tense, heavy silence. It’s not just one, but two Servants Maria has to overcome today. It is the epitome of shame that drops its burdensome weight on the rest of us, who can only dump that unbelievable duty on her.

    “Maybe…Shielder should go with you?” Senta proposes, but Maria shakes her head.

    “That guy seems to have an advantage against beasts. I don’t think the puppy can win against him.”

    “I can kill him.”


    Garmr’s voice is quiet and serene. It is not even conviction that fuels those words. It is a statement of fact, as natural as saying that one plus one equals two.

    “If it’s just that Archer, then I can kill him,” he says, and it really sounds like it’s a result already decided. Nevertheless, Maria still shakes her head.

    “Yeah, that’s fine and all, but without you, there’s no Servant to fight Wiligut. And no, Javier definitely doesn’t count.”

    Yeah, it sucks, but I have to agree. I don’t think I’ll be able to repeat the kind of stunts I pulled off yesterday. I really pushed it back there. If I tried the recreate the pseudo-Linga, the flame might just leap out of my body for good while I still need it. That thing has a will and a drive to do one specific thing. I’m holding it within myself with the promise that I’ll let it do it once everything is over.

    Unleashing the full flame before Enheduanna is defeated…would be counterproductive, I feel.

    “We’d still have Liria,” Sakura points out.

    “She’s not here, though,” Maria retorts. And therein lies the problem: can we count on Liria for whatever strategy we come up with? Why did she choose this of all times to slip away, and with Magda, even?

    “That Nomikata monkey hard-cancels Wiligut’s nigredo, but I guess you can’t count on him right now,” Isolde states in their insufferable voice that makes it clear they enjoy our tribulations.

    “Javier can also negate the black flame,” Senta reminds. “But Wiligut has more than that…”

    “He hasn’t even shown his Noble Phantasm,” Ortrud also brings up.

    “What would that piece of shit’s Noble Phantasm even be?” Maria then ponders. “The Gotenstock?”

    Marco chuckles. “You even know about that, huh.”

    “Like I said, I’ve read a lot.”

    “I…don’t know,” answers the youngest Hexensoldat. “He does have it; we’ve all seen it in his hand, but we don’t know if it’s his Noble Phantasm.”

    Noticing the ignorance on mine and others’ faces, Maria takes the duty of explaining things.

    “It’s a carved, wooden cane with a golden, head-shaped pommel Wiligut was known to carry with him all the time. Supposedly, it was inherited from his grandfather by way of his father, and it wasn’t a support for walking, but a magical wand.”

    “He didn’t have any cane when we fought him,” I comment, and Maria snorts.

    “Maybe he thought he didn’t need it.”

    “He was not Wiligut at the time, remember?” Ortrud brings up. “He was ‘Isolde’.”

    “Don’t ask me,” retorts the afore-mentioned Hexensoldat. “That was Mummu, not me. But from what he told me, it seems the Berserker’s Mad Enhancement really got in the way.”

    “In any case, Noble Phantasm or not, Wiligut is a Servant, and you need Servants to defeat other Servants,” Maria declares. “Even if it’s a piece-of-shit Nazi lunatic.”

    Maria shoots a rather accusatory look at Senta, who already looks miserable enough.

    “Actually, just what else does Wiligut have in store down there? Should we expect another fuckin’ Haunebu?”

    Senta shakes her head, her head hung low to look at nothing but the floor. She is already flanked by Ortrud and myself, and when I notice her pathetic hesitation to take my hand, I just take hers myself. Damn it, Senta, if you need to hold my hand for moral support, just do it. If only on this regard, I want you to learn from your sister.

    “Ortrud said New Asgard was flooded with magma, so it’s hard to tell how much still remains.”

    She squeezes my hand, probably more for herself than for me. Do whatever you want, just don’t break any bones. I think I’ll need those today.

    “Isolde is right: the Werwölfe are probably all unharmed, so expect all twelve, including the alpha. The soldier generator, on the other hand, must be down. It was too large to have been spared. Any etheric soldiers remaining must be ones already made that survived the magma. Wiligut won’t make any new ones. As for any more Wunderwaffen…”

    At this point she turns to Ortrud, who grimaces at becoming the target of Maria and Marco’s inquisitorial stares.

    “Yeah, yeah; Senta handled the human experimentation, I was Kammler’s assistant on weapons development.”

    “And we were everyone’s nurse and Wiligut’s fucktoy.”

    “Nobody asked, Isolde.”

    “And Elisabeth here was just a doll that only looked pretty and did nothing,” continues the bitter homunculus, centering their spite on their youngest ‘sibling’. “You know, I always wondered: why did Wiligut and Kammler never fuck you? I guess Enheduanna messed with their heads or whatever.”

    “My job was to ensure the obedience of the other Hexensoldaten through the threat of their unmaking by my eye.”

    “I fucking knew it!” Isolde’s triumphant exclamation is laced with vitriol. “Fuck Wiligut, and fuck that so-called ‘mother’ of ours! Pair of shit-eating hypocrites! Wiligut should’ve raped her instead; bet my ass she’d give birth to the reincarnation of Hitler.”

    “And here I was bothered by Maria’s potty mouth…” Fiore murmurs when she thinks nobody can hear her. Sakura is trying to maintain an attitude fitting the gravitas of the morning’s situation, but Fiore’s words made her lips quiver a little bit.

    “By this point, I don’t think your ass has any value, Isolde.”

    The blonde Hexensoldat gapes at Elisabeth like she has grown a new head. Even Senta and Ortrud, who had been busy wincing and leaning on each other after Elisabeth’s callous declaration, find the strength—or rather the shock—to look at her after that roast.

    “What Ortrud was trying to say, until crudely interrupted by Isolde here,” the one-eyed brunette calmly continues, as she hadn’t just incapacitated our annoying prisoner with only a few words. “Is that there probably remains enough equipment worth mentioning. The Werwölfe should be equipped with the same firearms wielded by the etheric soldiers, with bullets that can harm spiritual entities. There should also be an additional Siegfried power suit, though I don’t know if Wiligut is even capable of operating it.”

    Elisabeth looks at Ortrud for confirmation, and the latter nods.

    “Yeah, that’s about it.”

    Isolde clears their throat, apparently having recovered from the unexpected verbal attack. Or perhaps it was a chuckle; it could really be either.

    “You have never explained to us how the Fourth Reich could dig such an extensive network of tunnels under these hills,” Fiore brings up. “Their size makes it very hard to believe they could have escaped discovering, but then again, this is Enheduanna we’re talking about…”

    “It’s not like she had to ‘dig’ then, though,” Ortrud corrects. “To my understanding, she just used her Divine Words to materialize a specific mystery. I mean, she has territorial authority over this entire nation as the Goddess of Venus.”


    “Territorial authority…?” Fiore repeats, sounding both surprised and mystified. “How…?”

    “The flag,” Elisabeth answers instead of Ortrud. “The star on the flag of Chile is Venus.”

    This…is true. The five-pointed star in the Chilean flag is inspired by the guñelve, the Star of Arauco, a Mapuche symbol in the shape of an eight-pointed star representing Venus as the morning star.

    “It is a symbol recognized, respected, and honored by the people of this land,” Elisabeth continues. “As the goddess of Venus, Enheduanna, as Ishtar, has rendered herself ‘goddess of Chile’.”

    “Yes, but that does not explain why specifically here, in Valparaíso,” Fiore insists. At this, Ortrud chuckles.

    “Are you familiar with the work of Jean Robin?”

    Maria makes a face of utter, undiluted repugnance. Marco has the quintessential ‘you can’t be serious’ face right now.

    “God! No! Seriously! You can’t be—Operation Orth!? Seriously!? You have to be—ugh…!” Maria turns away from us to bonk her forehead on the wall again and again.

    “How…” She whines between hits. “Just, how…”

    “Jean Robin is a French writer—”

    “Apologize to real writers, Nazi tits.”

    Ortrud ignores Maria’s comment and continues her explanation for the ignorant ones in the room—Fiore, Sakura, and yours truly.

    “He’s a conspiracy theorist, mixing aliens, Nazi occultism, mythology and pseudo-history to create outrageous stories he claims are real. Operation Orth is a book he released in 1989—again, claiming it is a narration of real events, as narrated to him by their protagonist. Among all the bizarre things that happen in that story, the protagonist ‘Pierre’ is captured by a ‘Black Order’, apparently to recruit him. They take him from his native France to Valparaíso aboard a flying saucer, and there—or rather, here—they show him that they have built a tunnel network that stretches under the Andes and perhaps across the entire globe.”

    “Yeah, yeah, and they built a mausoleum in Tierra del Fuego with the mummies of Hitler and goddamn Raoul Wallenberg, because those two were best buddies and the Holocaust didn’t fucking happen!” Maria interjects with something that is just a step away from murderous rage. “I know the stupid fuckin’ story, Ortrud! How does it—”

    “Caster,” Elisabeth interrupts. “She had the power to grant written stories that nebulous quality we call ‘mystery’.”

    “And Enheduanna’s Divine Words can turn mystery into reality,” Ortrud finishes. “There. Q. E. D. Can we move on to things that matter now?”

    “Like Hilde…” Elisabeth proposes, and the tension shared among the Hexensoldaten is so palpable and real that the rest of us cannot argue with them. Even Maria chooses to just click her tongue, curse under her breath, and shove her anti-Nazi sentiments aside to refocus on the challenge ahead.

    “…fine.” Maria raises her hands in a pacifying gesture. “Sorry ‘bout that…”

    “No,” Marco interjects firmly. “Never apologize for rejecting those ideas, Maria. It is people like you who will ensure those tragedies won’t be forgotten after those who lived them are dead and gone.”

    Marco, if only in part, is speaking for himself. He was both a silent accomplice and eventually a victim as well.

    “Yeah,” Ortrud then says, unusually quiet for her. “Look, we do…well, I guess we can’t really say we understand, but…I don’t know ‘bout The Great Isolde here, but I think at least Senta and I recognize the facts. We’re not endorsing Jean Robin, or Savitri Devi or the Landig Group or any of those other fools.”

    “Or Serrano,” I mutter for no real reason. Now that I think of it, Miguel Serrano, my great nation’s most famous neo-Nazi, was part of a pro-Nazi occult order that practiced kundalini yoga. If Serrano was a mage, he’d have used magecraft very similar to Ortrud’s.

    I…am not sure what to think about that.

    “Yeah, yeah, I know,” Maria acknowledges, her words partially drowning Isolde’s ‘harrumph’.


    Fiore, who has wisely remained detached from a discussion in which she has no place, finally chooses to intervene.

    “We really should resume our original topic. I believe we were going to hear about the first of the Hexensoldaten?”


    Of all the artificial ‘siblings’, it is the rotten one who takes the word.

    “If you look down on that one, she’ll crush the whole lot of you,” Isolde declares in a wicked, taunting voice that shows they revel in the turbulent emotions bubbling in this room. “She was designed to be a modern-day Valkyrie, using that crazy runic reinforcement to boost herself to stupid levels.”

    “Rather than a Valkyrie, she’s just a mage killer,” Ortrud adds, apprehension clear in her voice. “Out of the whole bunch of us, she’s the one who was truly made to fight, and kill.”

    “And that’s why I have to intercept her.”

    We all turn to Senta, who looks like a dry leaf that could be blown away by the slightest gust. She’s looking at Maria.

    “If left to her devices, she’ll go straight after you. I’m sure you can beat her, but you already have enough problems as it is; you don’t need another obstacle to tire you out before you reach Enheduanna.” Senta nods to herself. “Hilde already hates me for messing with her when we fought yesterday. If I show up in front of her, she’ll set her plans aside to try and kill me.”

    “And we’ll take her out,” Ortrud then adds. “We already have a plan…sorta kinda.”

    “We have to do this,” Senta continues. “The Hexensoldaten…we were never really a ‘team’, but we’re disbanding today nevertheless. And we’ll resolve our affairs by ourselves.”

    I…am not entirely comfortable with this. We’ll basically have to split: there’s Maria going to the top of the hills, Ortrud and Senta looking for their eldest sister, and the group going after Wiligut. We don’t know if the werewolves will come straight here, or intercept any or all of those groups. We have to protect Ricardo and the Drakes here. And there’s still Diego and Magda out there, unless Liria intends to…get them out of the way.

    “Is everybody here in fighting shape, even?” Elisabeth ponders, and Isolde snorts.

    “Says the useless one who can’t do shit.”

    “Not like you intend to help us, either,” Ortrud chides in.

    “Of course we’re not helping, why would we? We’re getting the fuck away from here as soon as we can. No matter which side wins, we also win as long as we stay alive. You go get yourselves killed fighting impossible odds, for all we give a shit.”

    That’s right. This person is not our friend. They won’t even be our prisoner for much longer, without the means to keep them from slipping away.

    “Isolde, I do have a question,” Fiore suddenly intervenes. “Why did you not flee last night, when Elisabeth was the only one guarding you?”

    Isolde’s reaction is…strange. They become tense, flinching away just slightly as if put on the spot. They glance at Elisabeth who…is also a little bit rigid, and not quite looking at anybody with her sole exposed eye.

    “L-Like we could flee with that mutt and the whore keeping watch!” Isolde then whines, turning away from Elisabeth and gesturing towards Shielder. I cannot be the only one who can tell they’re hiding something, both Isolde and Elisabeth. There’s also their behavior just earlier, when I went to Nomikata’s room.

    “You two, just what are you two—”


    We all feel it. Nothing really changes, at least inside this room, but every single one of us feels it and tenses on the spot. Something invisible, intangible, appears to have filled the world all of a sudden. There is something in the air; something heavy, dense, thick, yet completely detached from our senses. I don’t even know what to call it; it’s an energy, a force, or a vibration…no, it’s…it’s just change. The unexplainable knowledge that something is different. It’s like replacing a single lightbulb in a ship’s deck. The ship remains identical, but I know something has changed.

    And I know everybody else feels it. My natural distrust of them makes me look at Isolde, but they look as confused and surprises as everybody else. If anybody has a different expression, it’s Maria.

    “She’s started.”

    When Maria darts out of the dining room, we all follow her, even after she opens the parish house’s small entrance door, forcing us to bear with an onrushing torrent of subzero winds. I instinctively summon the flame, which envelops me like a second skin, emitting relieving warm for the people around me. Unfortunately, it means I have to let go of Senta’s hand.

    “Knock it off, imbecile!” Isolde complains, much to my surprise.

    “You think you have energy to spare? Save it for what really matters…”

    Their voice trails off when their eyes settle on the sky, and I completely understand after I do the same. I’m sure we all make for a dumb scene, dumbfoundedly gazing up at the new sky that now covers frozen Valparaíso.

    “What now…” Sakura mutters, sounded already tired before the final battle has even started. As if the sigh of this new, vivid aurora had completely sapped her energy. A sky frozen in unending night. We see stars for the first time in days, but the sight is neither relieving or comforting.

    “This is just a message,” Maria states, her voice as steeled as the look on her face. “She doesn’t need any of this flashiness. This is just a message: ‘If you want to stop me, you better get moving’.”

    Yeah. We have never played on our terms. We don’t get to decide when the bell announcing the final battle rings, she does.

    “That doesn’t look like a message to me,” Fiore comments, pointing at the brightest point in this surreal vista rich in colors mocking the boring uniformity of frozen Valparaíso, as if the colors of all its graffiti and all its old houses and rooftops had found a new place in this unending night. Yet the aurora pales before the pristine star that outshines all others, despite not being a star.

    “Venus…” Marco murmurs, as if the word itself were a curse.

    Perhaps it is instinct, but my eyes seek not Senta or Ortrud. They meet Maria’s. I don’t know what my face looks like right now, but she looks…no, serene is not the word. Her face may look calm, but her inner tension and the encroaching pressure of what she must face is betrayed by her body and her posture. But, what can I say to her? Good luck? Break a leg? That’s just…


    “I know, I know. ‘Just live’, right?”

    When she extends her closed fist at me, the only right and proper thing to do is to bump it with my own.

    “Right back at ya, brother.”

    It feels…weird to be called that by Maria—wait a goddamn second.

    “Knock it off with the ‘fart siblings’ thing already.”

    Maria just grins, like the free-spirited child she should’ve always been.

    Perhaps things will be alright, after all.

    If I haven’t completely lost track of time, today should be the 28th of July, 2015.

    *** ***


    This is a Locked Save Point.

    If your quest reaches a Dead End, it may only resume from this point.

    *** ***


    Final Day Map
    There are four fronts for your consideration in this decisive challenge.

    1. Maria will follow Alemania Avenue to reach the top of Valparaíso’s hills and Enheduanna’s temple, well aware that Archer will stand on her way. This is the one front of which there is no doubt as to what will be found there.
    2. Senta and Ortrud will separate from Maria halfway up the hills to attempt to intercept Brünnhilde, who they expect will go after Maria.
    3. This front consists of those who go on the offensive to confront the simulacrum Servant Karl Maria Wiligut before he and his minions reach the church.
    4. This is not really a combat front, but instead those appointed to look for Liria and/or the Vyhmeister siblings.

    For each character, state the number of the “battle front” to which you wish to deploy them. Of course, you may also choose to have a character stay at the church by declaring as much. Maria Westinghouse, Senta, and Ortrud have their positions predefined as noted above.

    The characters you can deploy are:

    • Javier Lucero.
    • Sakura Edelfelt.
    • Fiore Forvedge.
    • Marco Ahrens.
    • Servant Shielder (Garmr).
    • Elisabeth.

    This author wishes you wisdom and success.
    Last edited by Daneel Rush; May 20th, 2023 at 11:07 AM.

  11. #1491
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six SpoonyViking's Avatar
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    Nov 2015
    Rio de Janeiro, RJ - Brasil
    Front 1: Deploy Shielder together with Maria.
    Front 2: Trust Senta and Ortrud to take care of Brünnhilde.
    Front 3: Deploy Javier, Marco, and Elisabeth to intercept Willigut.
    Front 4: Trust Liria and Magda to take care of Diego.

    Leave Sakura and Fiore to defend the church.

  12. #1492
    Flying Fairy Sunny's Avatar
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    Jan 2012
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    Hmm… I’ll +1 Spoony’s, I think. I can’t think of any other division I’d make, after dwelling on it for awhile.

    My only hesitation is whether Elisabeth should go there or with the other sisters, honestly. I feel like it’s more meaningful for them to stay together for that and I’m not sure what she adds to going with Javier and Marco. But for now +1.
    Last edited by Sunny; June 1st, 2023 at 07:44 PM.

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  13. #1493
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six SpoonyViking's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Rio de Janeiro, RJ - Brasil
    If it helps, I'm not 100% confident in my proposal, either - as usual, we're working with limited resources against overpowered enemies. XD At this point, I'm kind of hoping Elisabeth's nature might be hiding some kind of trump card we could use; plus, Javier needs the presence of a woman to have at least low-level Servant stats.

    Plus [2], while others would probably be more appropriate for that, I do think at least one of the sisters should be present when confronting Willigut, their abuser.

  14. #1494
    +1 to Spoony. I am a bit hesitant about leaving people behind since it doesn't seem the moment to keep reserves when everybody is heading into the final battleground anyways, but I suppose a werewolf assault on the civilians isn't out of the field so maybe better be ready for that?

  15. #1495
    So Many Ideas, So Little Time SleepMode's Avatar
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    ...I forgot.
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    +1 to Spoony's vote.

    Slightly concerning that Sakura's the only viable defender as Fiore as she is now can only play support, but hopefully the Werewolves aren't as much a problem.
    The Act of dozing off in the afternoon is a luxury indeed.
    Coffee would be nice, though.

    [Collection of my Servant Sheets]
    Now Revamped!

  16. #1496
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six SpoonyViking's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Rio de Janeiro, RJ - Brasil
    We could switch Elizabeth with Sakura - the latter's magic is useful against Servants.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Though I still suspect (hope) Elizabeth may have another trump card now that she's lost the pen.
    Last edited by SpoonyViking; June 15th, 2023 at 10:13 AM.

  17. #1497
    Time to burn some dread Daneel Rush's Avatar
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    Jan 2012
    Chaldea Naval Base
    Blog Entries
    Parroquia San Luis Gonzaga, Valparaíso
    Uttercold (-46°C/-50.8°F)


    “How is he?” Sakura asks the Jesuit priest the moment he sets foot in the church’s main chamber where she has been pacing idly since the others left, fighting the urge to climb to the roof to stand guard and force herself to fight the utter cold. This very man is the reason she does not need to do so.

    “Sleeping,” Ricardo Scherer says plainly, his face a perpetual mask of gruffness. “It’s what he needs right now.”

    After taking a good look at Sakura’s caged lion mien, Ricardo continues the dialogue.

    “But you could check that by yourself, Sakura. You haven’t visited Nomikata yet, have you?”

    “We’re not that close,” she declares in a somewhat tired-sounding voice. “We really wouldn’t have anything to talk about…if he’s even able to talk.”

    “That is not really it…is it?” Before Sakura can speak her thoughts, the priest offers her relief by a dismissive gesture. “But I’m not here to talk about your feelings; don’t worry.”

    Sakura looks unusually small, averting her gaze from the man clad in the power of a lifetime of experience. A man who has made a living out of watching people, understanding people, and supporting people.

    “I take it there’s nothing in your radar if you’re this calm,” Sakura offhandedly tries to change the topic. Father Scherer is considerate enough to play along.

    “It doesn’t work anything like radar,” he idly comments. “And no, there’s nothing outside…other than Fiore Forvedge, of course.”

    It takes Sakura a moment to process those words.

    “Fiore’s outside?”

    “She didn’t tell you?” The priest looks surprised, but not enough to lose his calm. “I think she’s looking for silver. Rumors about the church’s opulence aside, this place doesn’t have a lot of silver lying around, so she’s taking a look in the nearby buildings. At least she’s sticking to the range of my tremorsense.”

    The priest shrugs.

    “Though I’d say we still have time before any of those werewolves make it here, and that’s if Javier and the others let them slip through.”

    Sakura glances at the shattered stained glass, the openings now boarded with whatever they could find. She is tense and ramrod straight, looking very much like she is about to set off running. That doesn’t last long, however. Quickly enough, she sighs and relaxes, her stance becoming more natural. It brings a smile to the priest’s face.

    “Let’s hope those werewolves can’t fly, then,” Sakura declares. “And that Fiore knows what’s she’s doing. I still don’t have an answer to guns, you know.”

    “She’s has not been a mage for almost a decade, and she is still the most skilled and talented mage in this frozen city,” he points out. “It does you well to remember that, Sakura.”

    *** ***

    Ruins of Plaza Sotomayor, Valparaíso
    Uttercold (-46°C/-50.8°F)


    There is a certain…solemnity in their air when the two young women step into what once was perhaps Valparaíso’s most iconic location. The vast square surrounded by some of the city’s most important buildings is now a ravaged battlefield, scarred by countless slash marks on the ground and the structures. These are the remains of Saver’s and Lancer’s final battle.

    Liria Colhuán follows her fellow Villarrican in complacent silence. She has already listened to Maria Magdalena’s eager plea to help her deal with her sickening brother. Now, they want in silence, because they are very much not friends. Rather, Liria Colhuán has no intention to be friends with the other woman.

    Magdalena inches close to the grand building of the Commander in Chief of the First Naval Zone of the Chilean Navy; a spectacular, eclectic design, so blatantly European. It is now just as scarred as the vast square in front of it, its main façade much wounded by Lancer’s Noble Phantasm’s decaying melam. As Magda guides her sole companion towards Serrano Street, Liria deems it about the right time to open her mouth.

    “I’m more surprised you didn’t insist on having Javier come with you.”

    “Hmm?” Magda keeps her head low, not really needing to look around to guide herself. “I…a part of me wanted to, but…I guess, I just don’t want my brother to meet him, after all. I’m…afraid of what would happen.”

    “Hmm…” An unconvinced-sounding Liria murmurs. “Well, for one reason or the other, it is probably a good thing.”

    Liria might be enjoying herself a little too much in the current circumstances.

    “Did you know that your father and Javier’s were friends before you guys were born?” Liria doesn’t wait for an answer. “I mean, as much as Alfons Vyhmeister could be friends with a non-mage. It was probably more of an amusement to him, and somebody with whom he could have…you know, normal conversations, instead of magecraft all the goddamn time.”

    “I’m sure you can guess why they drifted apart; I mean, your brother is almost a carbon copy of your father. Like Diego, ol’ Vyhmeister liked being the top dog. He was the top mage of the other families looked up to, but to the Luceros, all those mages were just a bunch of eccentric rich guys. Without the hierarchy of magecraft, Alfons couldn’t bind Javier’s dad.”

    “The Luceros didn’t attend your parents’ wedding because they were off on their own honeymoon. Alfons never forgave that.”

    “Why are you telling me all this, Miss Liria?” Maria’s voice comes out flat.

    “Hmm, good question,” the blonde replies matter-of-factly. “You already know this, after all.”

    The taller Magdalena looks rigid and small compared to the waif Liria, who nonetheless seems to devour the scene with her viperine smile.

    “Diego was content with his little kingdom, but you’re the type to ask questions, right? To ponder and question things. Why was Javier the only non-mage kid in your oh-so-special classroom? There were other non-mage families in the Community, so why was that particular kid assigned to your group as the challenge to teach the Children of Villarrica to hide the secrets of your families? Was it really random?”

    “That…didn’t really matter, Miss Liria?”

    Liria chuckles. “Yeah, it really didn’t matter who the non-mage student was. It didn’t matter to Diego and the other kids, but it definitely mattered to your father. And I guess it mattered to you; I mean, you liked Javier a lot when you were children.”

    “…you’re making it sound like I don’t like Javier anymore.”

    “Well, do you?”

    “That is…” She says no more, and Liria chuckles at that.

    “Haha, smart girl…”

    Magdalena guides Liria to a hotel named “Garden”, occupying the two top levels of a vast three-story building shared with an eatery, a tavern, and a hardware store. In contrast with the size of the hotel, its accessway is a very narrow and dark stairway leading to the building’s upper levels, rendered especially ominous by the general lack of indoors illumination. There is only the awesome aurora far above in the sky painting the world in its vast iridescence.

    “So…Diego’s in there?” Liria asks, all the while more interested in her vermin familiars already sneaking into the building without Maria Magdalena noticing. The two girls stand before the stairway entrance.

    “…yes.” Magda nods. “I…he has replenished his power, but…”

    “Nah, not a big deal. Nothing I can’t handle.”

    Maria Magdalena says nothing about that, and makes it a point of not letting Liria look at her face. The younger-looking girl has to hold back from chuckling.

    “…alright, that…sounds very reliable. So, I would only get in the way, so I would rather stay here, if that is alright with you—”

    Liria groans and whines like a lazy child who has been told to do her homework.

    “Alright, alright, that’s enough of that,” she calls out, waving her hand in obvious dismissal.

    (BGM STOP)

    “We’ve been fooling around long enough, and we don’t really have all the time in the world.”

    The tense, rigidly standing Magdalena slowly turns to show her profile to the other woman.

    “…excuse me?”

    “Nah, I don’t excuse you,” the humor in Liria’s voice does not hide its acridity. “Look, I’m gonna say this only once, and I’m gonna make it this clear enough for anybody to understand.”

    “I’m still pretty young, but I’d say I already have a lot of life experience. Certainly, more than some rich brat who’s been coddled and pampered her entire life. And I’ve met a lot of people. And I mean a lot.”

    All the while she plays around, Liria feeds her mind with the sensory input from her familiars.

    “What I’m trying to say, girl, is that I know scum when I see it.”


    “You haven’t changed at all, girl,” Liria declares, all traces of humor gone from both face and voice. “Pulling off your little wallflower shtick, conveniently hidden behind your daddy and your brother while secretly looking down on everybody. Maybe all those mages so full of themselves couldn’t see past their own shadows, but I sure as hell could tell.”

    “…what in tarnation are you talking about, Miss Liria—”

    “Oh, spare me the proper speech. Calling me ‘Miss Liria’ of all things; you’re breaking my heart, little sister!”

    Liria’s lips curve into the smile of one who has seen exactly what she wanted to see on the other girl’s face.

    “Yes, of course you knew, Magdalena. Your—no, our brother is too full of himself to even bother putting some thought into the world around him, but you definitely wondered, didn’t you?”

    “You met my mother; that woman was rotten to the core. Every single part of her was ugly, body and soul. So, why allow such a horrendous person in their presence? Why keep such a terrible person around as a housemaid?”

    Liria chuckles as her mind yet again verifies the position of her familiars and what they’re seeing.

    “A bachelor party. A drunken dare. An irreparable mistake,” Liria declares. “They had to keep her close; my mother was not really a mage, but she knew how the world of mages works. If our father had tried to deny anything, she’d have gone straight to the church. Rosa Colhuán was a wily one; if the community had killed her, I assure you the whole world would’ve learned every single skeleton in Villarrica’s closet.”



    The environment, their surroundings are unchanged, yet darkness has fallen upon this scene, this encounter. Like an invisible blanket of chill gently blanketing the world.

    “What do you want?” Maria Magdalena Vyhmeister inquires, the coldness in her voice in no way outmatched by Liria’s. “Money? Your ‘rightful inheritance’ as a Vyhmeister?”

    “Oof, low blow,” quips the smirking Liria. “Don’t give me that; I couldn’t care less for any money you could possibly give me. I’m getting what I wanted right now!”

    Magda’s jaw and lips twitch and tremble, perhaps trying to force herself into a different facial expression, yet unable to show Liria anything different.

    “Yes, that face. The truth. The fucked-up joy of being the one who makes you show your true colors. I wanted to see how utterly sickening it’s been for you all. These. Years.”

    Liria closes the distance, looking up at the taller woman with a mocking smirk, reveling in Magda’s nostrils twitching as she takes in Druj Nasu’s stench of death and decay.

    “Having to live as the demure, obedient daughter of that man. The sister of that other man. The daughter of the idiot woman who enabled the former and raised the latter. Pretending to get along with classmates you beheld with nothing but contempt.”

    It is not the crippling cold the makes Magdalena shudder when Liria leans to speak straight into her ear.

    “Pretending you give a fuck.”

    Assassin laughs when the other girl pushes her away, and laughs a second time when Magda proceeds to rub her gloved hands against her thick winter garments despite the lack of direct skin contact.

    “Yes, yes, you’re disgusted. I am disgusting. Everything is disgusting to you, right?”

    “…should I presume you’re not going to help me with my brother, then?”

    Liria eloquently rolls her eyes.

    “Come on, girl, knock it off already!” Her inviting posture with arms outstretched does not match the condescension on her face. “You don’t need to pretend in front of your big sis! If only in front of me, you’re allowed to be your true, twisted self.”

    Liria’s expression appears to soften, but none of that “softness” touches her eyes.

    “There’s only corpses in that building.”

    Magda takes a step back, wide eyes above trembling lips.


    “Come on, you’re a great Vyhmeister mage. You can figure it out. So, what’s the plan now? I’m all for catching up and speaking our feelings for a change, but if you have nothing to say…I think I might be better off killing you right no—”

    (BGM STOP)

    Magdalena disappears in an instant, no trace of her very presence detectable by any of Liria’s senses.

    “…well fuck.”

    *** ***

    A Building to the East of the Parish, Valparaíso
    Uttercold (-46°C/-50.8°F)

    Character Status
    Health: Stable
    Sustenance: Stable
    Warmth: Optimal
    Stamina: Optimal
    Regression Level 3

    Magic circuits active.

    Isolde fucking disappeared.

    Rather, the moment we all split, Isolde, who was supposed to come with us under Elisabeth’s watch, darted off on their own in a different direction from everybody else. Right now, we don’t have the time or the resources to go after them. We have to stick to the plan, even if I know in my gut that this will come back to bite us in the ass. Isolde is both determined and spiteful; a particularly bothersome type of person.

    From the balcony of what used to be a family apartment, I can get a complete vista of the ruin that used to be Valparaíso’s central cemetery, now pock-marked by Archer’s absurd bombardment. Further uphill, the vast open plaza in front of the cultural center—the place where we fought Berserker, or rather Isolde I guess. Its formerly flat, uniform expanse is now marred by craters, some of which I probably made myself.

    Far beyond the great freezing, the city is riddled with countless scars of an absurd war nobody asked for.

    Marco and I retreat back into the apartment where it is slightly warmer and less windy. There is no need for us to look for the enemy and meet them in an open field. However, and I’m sure Marco is thinking the same, there is no guarantee any of our enemies will pass through this part. If they choose to take the coast roads, we’re fucked. If they stick to the top of the hills, we’re…well, our two powerhouses are over there, so we’re probably less fucked in that case. Right now, however, there’s nothing in sight. The city remains frozen and still. No sign of Nazi Servants or equally Nazi werewolves.

    The trip all the way here happened in almost complete silence, as if fearing something would leap at us if we made too much noise. Marco proposed settling on a spot with a good view, and here we are. This is out chance to actually talk, and plan.

    “Javier, I don’t think I have to tell you this, but there isn’t much we can do against a Servant,” Marco brings up. “I do have bullets that might work, but it’s a very limited number.”

    Yeah…basically, with our limited numbers, I’m the only one who can fight Wiligut. A Servant. A Servant whose full abilities we don’t really know, because the last time we fought him he was under somebody else’s control.

    “I’ll have to hit hard, and fast, before he can pull off any surprises.”

    Marco nods.

    “Then there’s the werewolves. Those things are tough, so I wholly expect to run out of bullets before they’re down. Fortunately, they’re as weak to fire as anything else.”

    “I guess I’ll just do my best.”

    “Yeah, you do that,” Marco retorts with a wry smile. “The bigger problem is that they also have guns. That’s why our only chance is a surprise attack. Either we take them out before they can do anything, or we at least get them to drop their guns. Hell, I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on one of those auto-rifles.”

    “Yeah, I’ll stick to fireballs.”

    I’m not trained to use firearms. Placing a rifle on my hands would be inviting a disaster.

    With that said, I think there’s another problem in need of address. I mean the other person in this apartment, who has planted herself on the opposite side of the living room across from Marco and me. Almost as if ensuring she can run away at any time.

    “Is everything okay, Elisabeth?”

    “Ah…y-yes.” Her voice soft like velvet and fragile like cobwebs.

    It’s not just her current position. The whole way here, Elisabeth has kept a distance, a few steps behind us, like a faithful servant from a long-gone era. If anything, thinking back, hasn’t it been like this the whole time? Admittedly, we don’t have many interactions, and it makes sense for her to stick to her siblings.

    “Elisabeth, there is obviously a problem here.”

    The girl makes a visibly pained expression. I’m making her obviously uncomfortable, but it’s hard to be nice when I don’t know what the problem is.

    “I…really don’t want to talk about it,” she says. “I’m sorry.”

    “Will it get in the way when things get rough?” Marco then inquires, and he has a point of course. Elisabeth quickly shakes her head.

    “Of course not…I think.”

    That doesn’t sound or look promising at all. Marco sighs and walks over to the girl. Before anybody can do or say anything, he reaches into his trench coat and reveals a handgun that doesn’t look quite right, if only because it is a little larger than I remember.

    “You should be able to use mystic codes,” Marco points out as he offers the firearm. After that, he reaches for his coat again, this time to bring out a spare magazine. “These bullets carry the powerful curse of the Estang Mal. I have another magazine I hope to unload on Wiligut. Use these when and however you see fit.”

    “‘Stangmal’?” Elisabeth repeats somewhat differently. “I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with…”

    At this, Marco shows an unusually good-humored smile.

    “…it’s fine. The only thing you need to know is that however takes one of those bullets will have a very bad time.”

    After that, Marco comes back to my side of the room, granting Elisabeth the space she seemingly prefers. The girl with the eyepatch does look rather contrite and apologetic, like the quiet kid at school who really wants to try hanging out with others but ends up crippled by their own anxiety. Her gaze shifts between looking down and gazing at us, looking very much like she’s desperately wracking her mind for something to say to make whatever this situation is less awkward.

    While Marco keeps a determined, watchful eye over the frozen cityscape, Elisabeth does come up with something to say.


    “Mr. Javier, I…wish to apologize.”

    And it comes out of nowhere.

    “Huh?” I don’t remember this particular woman owing me any apologies.

    “When you first met Senta, I could have done something. I could’ve stopped it. There shouldn’t have been a fight, and then you would have become friends even faster…”

    “Hnn, I wonder about that.”

    How much of my bond with Senta developed precisely because I defeated her giant zombie? How would things have worked out if Elisabeth had turned tails on that moment and stopped the fight before it started?

    “Um, Mr. Javier, this might be inappropriate, but, if I may ask…”

    Elisabeth still wants something, and I’m not sure I’m gonna like this…

    “Do you love Senta?”

    Good Lord. And way to pretend you’re not listening, Mr. Ahrens. Sure, sure, you’re watching out for enemies.

    “Girl, we haven’t known each other for a week. Love at first sight might be a thing, but it’s not my thing. It’s not how I do things, and I’d say Senta feels the same.”

    I know, I haven’t answered the question. I also know I’m not so much of a brat that I would be embarrassed by my own feelings.

    “I want to be part of her life. I want her to live a long, fruitful, and happy life. Maybe I will become one of the things that makes her life happy and fruitful, I don’t know. Time will tell. For now…we will be there for each other.”

    Honestly, a part of me wishes I could be there with them right now. I’m afraid of what could happen to them, of whatever plan they’re working out, of Brünnhilde taken them from me. Gods, I just really want them to live. But, for now, I just have to trust them.

    “I don’t know if that answers your question.”

    Based on the look on Elisabeth’s face, she doesn’t know either. But perhaps her real question is not the one she asked me—

    “Elisabeth? Are you okay!?”

    My voice grabs Marco’s attention, and he too gets to see Elisabeth’s pained expression, and the way she clutches her chest and bends forward into a smaller shape. Needless to say, we’re on our feet to—

    “P-Please don’t move!” She gasps, stopping us on our tracks. “You, you’ll make it worse, so, please…stay away…”

    When she raises her head, she…doesn’t really look sick. There’s no paleness nor excessive rubor; there’s no cold sweat, nor any noticeable change in her sole visible eye. She looks perfectly find; it is only her body language that suggests she is suffering.

    “So that I can help you in your fight…I have to fight this fight within myself…”

    Marco narrows his gaze, now serious and dissecting.

    “How much of that was your idea, and how much was Isolde’s?”

    Somehow, the silence that follows feels painfully heavy.

    “Elisabeth,” I call out again, holding myself from taking another step forward. “What’s going on!? What did Isolde make you do!?”

    *** ***

    Ruins of Plaza Bismarck, Valparaíso
    Uttercold (-46°C/-50.8°F)


    Three women and a dog stop their march on the ruins of the place where Maria first met and faced Lancer in combat. The renewals it underwent in 2012 are regrettably shattered—the seven pillars flanking the small amphitheater, adorned with 21 colorful designs, were shattered either by Servant strikes or by Archer’s barrage.

    Senta and Ortrud allow Maria a moment, very much understanding the lost, distant look on her face. For a moment, she is not really among them. For good or ill, however, the moment does not last long, as the brimming aurora above them is too stark a reminder of the morning’s reality.

    “Well, this is where we split, I guess,” Maria declares. Senta assents at this. Ortrud is a little more vocal.

    “Yup, wouldn’t want to get any close to that Archer. Leave Hilde to us; we’re not letting her get in your way.”


    The Hexensoldaten see it clearly on Maria’s face—she still does not think much of their eldest sister as an obstacle. Senta and Ortrud themselves would bet on Maria ten out of ten times, but they have a more pessimistic assessment of just how much of a problem Brünnhilde can be, even to a Servant.

    “So, what is in the case, anyway?” Maria then asks, referring to the sturdy military-grade suitcase Ortrud has brought with her.

    “My very special guns.” Anybody could taste the pride in Ortrud’s voice.

    “If there’s somebody who can take on Hilde one-on-one, it’s Ortrud,” Senta explains. Ortrud makes an odd look at that. “They’re the only two of us who were actually designed for combat, based on our magecraft. Isolde’s the healer, Kundry was for infiltration, and Elisabeth to keep the rest of us in line.”

    “And based on that logic, your purpose was…?”

    “Terrorism,” Senta easily answers her sister’s inquiry. Then, as if to make it clear that this line of conversation is not to be expanded upon, she turns to her Servant, the Hound of Hel.

    “Shielder, take good care of this idiot, okay?”

    “Yes, master,” the eager hound nods firmly, bristling with confidence. “I’ll kill Archer if Saver can’t.”

    “It’s kinda amazing how you people utterly fail at giving me any confidence…” Maria mutters before turning to the uniformed girls. “You two also take care. Getting killed the morning right after getting laid is just too sad. And clichéd.”

    “Mind you own goddamn business,” Senta retorts while her elder sister barks in laughter. “We know what we’re doing, and you don’t have the luxury to worry about others.”

    “Sure, sure, just…do your thing and get back to Javier and the others asap, okay? Strength in numbers and all that.”

    “That’s the plan.”

    “Shielder…” Senta turns back to her contracted Ghost Liner. “I…know you don’t like it, but…”

    “You’re going to use your horrible magecraft that defiles the rest of the dead.”

    In that moment, Senta looks absolutely minuscule compared to her Servant, making all too clear a fact everyone who knew them probably held in their minds: Senta has no control whatsoever over Shielder. She has never been anything but a battery. The only thing that keeps Garmr obedient is his natural, innate spirit of loyalty.

    “I don’t like it…but I want Senta to live.” The hound shrugs. “And Master is not here to tell me to punish you.”

    Of course, the dog speaks not to make Senta feel better. It can only speak the truth, without nuance nor kindness.

    No more needs to be said. Senta and Ortrud turn away from the Servants and take a smaller street losing themselves in the narrow network of pavement crisscrossing the hills of Valparaíso. They feel Maria and Garmr’s eyes on them for long enough before they split in an instant, their speed no longer held back by the two homunculi.

    The two sisters walk together, surrounded only by silence and stillness. There is no snowfall this morning to adorn the scene or beautify the tragedy of this frozen, broken city. They are like explorers of an ancient ruined city, or scavengers of a post-apocalyptic landscape.



    Ortrud is not deterred.

    “You can turn back if you want—”

    “No means no, Ortrud. I’m the one who pissed her off, anyway, so I make for the better bait.”

    “Senta, that mad dog hates everyone. I bet we don’t even need a bait.”

    “Yeah, but you wouldn’t be able to snipe her if she’s right in front of you trying to stomp on your face!”

    “That’s why I have multiple plans! I thought you were the smart one!”

    “Oh, spaaare me the faux humility, Miss Holstein! You’re the superior homunculus; that’s why I have to be the bait, and you have to be the attacker!”

    “Is that a bad joke!? You’re the later model! That’s why you can use more complex, larger-scale magecraft! All my spells are single-target!”

    “No like you have to think that hard when you can just fuck her targets until they lower their guard!”

    “Oooo, you just had to go there, you insecure little twat,” Ortrud hisses, rolling her entire head along with her eyes. “Forget me, any bitch with a spine could steal your man!”

    “Oh, so he’s ‘my man’ now? If we go by last night, I guess that makes you ‘his bitch’!”

    “T-That was just the ritual being too effective! And you’re fucking welcome, by the way!”

    Silence. The wind slips across the narrow street, whistling soft mockery. The two girls’ faces remain tense, their bodies stiff in an almost military manner. They glance around, their eyes almost too expressive for a world so quiet and still.


    “…nothing,” Senta murmurs.

    “Nothing indeed,” the other woman confirms. “No Hilde, no werewolves.”


    “Awfully so, yes,” Ortrud agrees, relaxing just a little bit. “Good job keeping up the improv there. ‘The superior homunculus’, was it? What are we, computers?”

    The girls trade guilty looks, well aware that such a line of thought was their reality at one point. It defined their mindsets and rendered them even more vulnerable to Wiligut’s supernatural charisma. They were not created in a scaling ramp of ever-increasing progress. They were not Enheduanna’s pursuit of human-engineering perfection. Just like every other human, their strengths and weaknesses are a product of many components, including genetics and the intrinsic qualities of their souls.

    “Yeah, yeah, I tried my best,” Senta replies dismissively. “But really, not a single reaction to all that noise we just made. Which means…”

    “Either all the enemies are too far from here, or they have a battle plan beyond ‘search and destroy’.”

    The two girls look at each other, grimacing at the possibility of this being a lot more complicated than the enemies just charging at them for a decisive battle. There is something sobering in the thought of Karl Maria Wiligut being actually capable of strategy.

    “Do we go back?” Senta proposes, but Ortrud shakes her head, instead silently forcing the nearest door open and inviting Senta inside, if only to escape the direct exposure to the dire temperature. They crouch together to share the heat produced by their mystic code uniforms and to keep their voices low.

    “We’re not playing ‘capture the flag’ here,” the elder sister points out. “We don’t have to take out the enemy base, and as far as we know, the other side doesn’t know the exact location of our base. The only one who got to the church was that bull-monster Shielder took out, and that was a creature summoned by Mummu. We protect the people in the church by staying away from them.”

    “I…yes, I didn’t think of that. I’m not sure Javier did, either, when he came up with the teams.”

    “It was a good distribution,” Ortrud declares. “Sakura and Fiore may be able to use their circuits to keep themselves warm, but they’re still the ones most susceptible to this ungodly cold in our team. It’s better they stay in the church, near those jewel heaters.”

    “Now,” the elder homunculus continues. “The first stage of this battle is finding the enemy before it finds us. On that regard, we have the clear advantage in Liria and her sneaky zombies, but she had to go and wander off somewhere.”

    “She’s not an idiot, Ortrud; she knows everybody’s counting on her,” Senta refutes. “I’m sure she has her familiars on the job, even if she went to deal with her own business.”

    “Hnn…the problem is that the enemy side knows we have that advantage. The werewolves have enhanced senses, of course, but they’re only a dozen at most compared to who-knows-how-many corpses Liria has by now. So, if they really want to find us…”

    They hear it in the distance: the artificial sound of small rotating propellers in the sky, powered by equally small engines.

    Feuerbälle,” Senta finishes. “Hadn’t seen those in a while. How are there even any left?”

    “Kammler always kept a few spares in Dora’s hangar. I’d bet my circuits those are the ones. Now, we know what to do, right?”

    Senta’s smile is that of a hardened soldier who trusts her battle plan.

    “Javier and the others should know to stay away and try to shoot them down, but we want them to find me.”

    Ortrud only manages a half nod before her own confidence slips a little.

    “Senta…I wasn’t exactly lying back then.”

    This, the bespectacled sister did not expect.


    “You can go back to Javier if you want. I’ll take on Hilde by myself—”

    “When did you of all people decide to become a martyr?” Senta hisses in restrained outrage.

    “When I decided to become your sister.”

    Senta doesn’t know how to react to that. She might not even know she has the muscles for the proper facial expression.

    “Senta, I don’t want to use you as bait for Hilde. I don’t want to—”

    “I’m not going to sacrifice you by sending you alone against that psycho!” Senta hisses back. Her knuckles white from clenching her fists too hard remain white after she chooses to grip her knees instead. “I…I don’t want to be ‘that Senta’ anymore…”

    Ortrud’s eyes show only consternation, and the stunning awareness that she has just heard something of fundamental importance.

    “Senta, what—”

    “I don’t even know the names of those werewolves. The names of the people I sacrificed for the Reich.”

    “For fuck’s sake, Senta…”

    Ortrud takes her sister in her arms, letting Senta rest her ample forehead on her left shoulder.

    “Ortrud, I have to do this. I have to earn my future, however long or short it turns out to be.”

    “Senta, that’s…”

    She cannot say it. Ortrud cannot tell Senta that is not the right way to face life, because she is not sure of that herself. That is why, even if it bothers her; even if she thinks it is not the right thing to do, Ortrud forces herself to rely on Javier Lucero for this.

    “Senta, you have someone waiting for you. Please don’t forget that…”

    Ortrud holds her little sister tightly, reluctant to let go, all too aware that there might not be a next time. All too aware of their short lives, and the even shorter time they’ve been properly looking at each other. All too aware of the time lost and wasted. It makes her grit her teeth. It makes her want to lash out and scream at the world and blame somebody.

    All too aware of how pointless that would be.

    *** ***

    Av. Aquiles Ramírez, Cerro Florida, Valparaíso
    Uttercold (-46°C/-50.8°F)


    The higher reaches of Valparaíso’s hills, originally monopolized by industries large and small, have been gradually encroached by population growth. Call them slums, shantytowns, ghettos or whatever; these are the residential areas of low-income families, of those who live day by day, of the struggling and the destitute. Maria and Garmr have reached the place where the paved road ends, becoming a sandy path flanked by single-story homes planted on the hillside without concern for ideas of urban planning or safety. They bear witness to the whole spectrum of building materials, from brick to wooden planks to PVC to metal sheets. This part of the city has thus far been spared from the battles, but many of these homes have nevertheless been brought down by the harshness of a winter they were not built to withstand.

    The two Servant stand there, tense and silent, for they have found the strongest obstacle.

    His austere, powerful presence looks out of place in this realm of the humble. He leaves no doubt as to his intention, a tremendously large bow already ready and aiming straight at the two, string taut and strained, demanding release. The message is clear: they are not to move any further forward.

    That is, of course, a problem, because Maria can see her final destination from there: the summit of a towering ziggurat peeks out from behind the bumpy line of Valparaíso’s hills, over a kilometer south-southeast. Maria has no way to know this, but it stands atop the place known by the locals as Cerro Colorado.

    Maria grits her teeth. Her battles have already battered and ravaged the cultural and touristic center of the city; its plenty of beautiful buildings, chockfull of history and tradition. Yet, for some reason, it bothers her that this aesthetically-barren suburb will now inevitably become collateral damage. She knows it is a pointless thought—the city is broken beyond hope. It will need a major, through rebuilding effort, no matter what. However, reasonable lines of thought cannot pierce through the miasma of emotion that governs Maria’s thoughts. Human God Enheduanna restored the vital energy all of those not yet killed by the ice prisons, meaning there are probably people still alive in this neighborhood. People who will likely die if three Servants go all out.

    Nevertheless, the situation has not changed. There will be a fight.

    Grinding her teeth together, Maria steps forward.

    It is nigh instantaneous. Not one, but at least two dozen arrows cross the space between Archer and his targets at barely subsonic speed. Maria would consider parrying a single one, but an entire barrage? Unthinkable.

    Saver and Shielder jump back and away, arrows streaking past them to crash into the ground behind them with thunderous explosions.

    “Shit…!” The sword girl looks behind her in anguish. The street looks like the aftermath of an air raid, pocked with holes and the wreckage of a bike. The low temperatures already destroyed any windows that could’ve been blown away by the explosions, but the same could not be said of flimsy doors and walls built out of cheap materials. Archer’s first attack exposed a few icy prisons as the houses that contained them fall apart around them, but others are likely now buried under rubble.

    “Damn it…”

    They are in a city. There are no safe places to fight. There is no avoiding collateral damage. This was true in every single fight before, but the sheer destructive power of every single one of Archer’s missiles is on another level. His arrows, each as large as a longsword, strike with tremendous destructive power before disappearing as the mere magical projections they are.

    The only way to minimize the damage is to make the battle a short as possible. But, is that even an option against this opponent?


    The hound is calm, because Maria’s worries are not his.

    “The one you have to fight is not this one, right? Rush past him and leave him to me.”

    It is an entirely sensible offer, but…

    “Puppy, you know he’s got anti-beast attacks! He destroyed you once before! Do you really think you can beat him!?”

    “I can definitely kill him.”

    The sentence is stunning in its confidence, its certainty. Garmr is declaring a fact of life, as obvious and undeniable as gravity.

    Archer does not continue the attack; he has no need to. He only needs to buy the time for Enheduanna to finish whatever she is up to in her ziggurat. The less he has to fight, the better. The pressure is entirely on the attacking party.

    “Damn it…”

    (BGM STOP)

    Decision Time
    What is Maria to do?

    1. Leave it to Shielder.
    2. Fight together.
    3. Write-in.

    *** ***

    Archer’s first attack resounds throughout the frozen city.

    Closer to the frozen ocean, Liria Colhuán does not have the time to spare acknowledging the beginning of the Servants’ battle. Her familiars are working fulltime, spreading throughout the city to locate their enemies and feeding multiple sensory inputs to her brain. María Magdalena Vyhmeister’s magecraft of a divine foundation, however, allows her to elude all sensory perception to degree that surprises even the Servant of stealth and assassination.

    “Damn it, why couldn’t she be a dumbass hothead like her brother!?” She hisses, mentally kicking herself for counting on Magdalena to fall for her provocations and make herself an easy target.

    In a building overlooking both Cerro Panteón and Cerro Cárcel, Javier, Marco, and Elisabeth go deathly still, all thoughts of interrogating the Hexensoldatput aside as the distant sounds of explosive impacts reach their ears. Part of them fears the stray shots will somehow reach them despite the distance, but they mostly worry for the two Servants on which their hopes rest.

    Further eastward, Senta does not let the sounds distract her. Her intent is to draw the enemy’s attention to herself, so she rubs her arms and endures the cold as she roams the streets of fallen Valpo. Meanwhile, Ortrud sticks to stealth and shadows, ready to get into a sniping position the moment the enemy shows up to threaten his sister.

    In the house next to the parish dedicated to Saint Aloysius de Gonzaga, Fiore Forvedge furrows her brow, but does not look away from her gathered supplies as she assembles them with unforgotten dexterity into a makeshift ritual setup. She cannot deny it bothers her, but her magecraft is needed right now, so she will have to walk that path she once abandoned, one last time.

    And in the aforementioned parish, a wrestler and a Jesuit priest turn their gazes slightly upward until the distant tremors pass.

    “…it started,” Sakura muses, to which the priest responds with a vague grunt.

    “Yes, that seems to be the case. Anyway, I’ll go check on the couple—”

    “You mean Oliver and Alicia, right?”

    The man who had already turned his back to Sakura stops, his broad back tense as his head barely turns in her direction.


    “To think of it, you have been calling me ‘Sakura’ this whole time.”


    The silence that ensues is the prelude to imminent motion. It is the silence of one standing on the edge. The silence of concentration, focus, and shifting fates.


    There is no way the man can outrun Sakura Edelfelt. Expertise overcomes greater size and weight—the professional wrestler tackles her target and captures him in a merciless hold before he can reach the church’s back door.

    “What’re you up to now, Isolde!?” Sakura all but screams her demand in the priest’s ear.

    “W-wait, please, Miss Edelfelt!” The man manages to blurt out while pinned against the cold floor of his church. “It’s me, Ricardo Scherer!”

    “I will not fall for that!”

    “It’s—I do not lie!” Ricardo pleads. “I—I don’t know how I ended up here! What is going on, Miss Edelfelt!?”

    This does stop Sakura’s aggression, relenting on the painful hold.

    “…Father Scherer…?”

    “Y-Yes…” The priest grunts, his body complaining after the undesired strain. “I, I don’t know how it happened—I went back to my room to pray after the others left, but then I detected the blonde lady who left with Javier coming back, so I went to check on her, and now suddenly—”

    “My apologies, sir!” Sakura machineguns the words out as she hurries past the prone priest and into the parish house. There are only three places to check, one of them being the building’s small exit on the opposite side of the structure.

    Sakura stomps through the hallways, paying no heed to the curious Oliver Drake, likely drawn by her loud footsteps. There’s always the possibility that he is Isolde, but Sakura deems it unlikely. Isolde’s possession is both physical and mental interference, meaning that it would be difficult to take control of an average, healthy mage. If Isolde had targeted Alicia, they would have had to take out her husband first, which obviously has not happened.

    Which means there is only one other feasible target: an above-average, extremely unhealthy mage.

    And one of Isolde’s “halves” is a prodigious healer.

    The door is already open. Sakura is welcomed by the sight of a perfectly-healthy-looking Seigi Nomikata standing next to the vision of demureness called Isolde like they’re best of friends. Seigi’s hand rests on the opposite wall, albeit not to support himself.

    “No…” Sakura half-commands, half-pleads.



    The rumbling of the parish house’s wall collapsing can be heard throughout the frozen Valparaíso. The one most startled by it is the former (?) mage digging into the cutlery of a restaurant behind the church, still looking for silver.

    Enheduanna Lily was right, of course. Seigi Nomikata choosing to follow her to this city of ice was a most regrettable idea.
    Last edited by Daneel Rush; July 20th, 2023 at 12:42 PM.

  18. #1498
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six SpoonyViking's Avatar
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  19. #1499
    Persona rajvir's Avatar
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    This is the final battle, and I suspect we'll need to get Maria there as soon as possible.

  20. #1500
    Flying Fairy Sunny's Avatar
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    Jan 2012
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    Saaaa.... I really, really, really want to pick 2, despite (and because of) Shielder's certainty...

    But respecting their choice means 1 does feel necessary, given the situation they're in.

    It's not the time for half-measures. ;.;

    Signature byakasaka asa
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