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Thread: [Quest] Lostbelt Raising Project

  1. #561
    Your average angst/edge supplier BnEl15's Avatar
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    1. If anything, getting to know the other characters might be helpful in the long run, regardless whether they end up joining us or not.

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  3. #563
    The Great and Powerful Wizard's Avatar
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    Trying to get them on side might tip our hand to Bianca. I don't know how we'd get the others away from her and Tom, but it puts us on a time limit rather than risking a leak.

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    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Bird of Hermes's Avatar
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    There is strength in numbers after all, and also the characters are pretty interesting I'd like to see more of them.

  5. #565
    夜属 Nightkin
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    Saber's obviously out of the question. I'm not sure about rider, but seeing how admiratively she speaks of Bianca, she's probably brainwashed. Therefore, i think we should first try with caster (which obviously has nothing to do with me wanting to see more of her).

  6. #566
    死徒(下級)Lesser Dead Apostle Ayr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
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    Trying to get them on side might tip our hand to Bianca. I don't know how we'd get the others away from her and Tom, but it puts us on a time limit rather than risking a leak.
    I guess we could try trapping them in Berserker's territory, tho that still leaves Tom and I dunno how long she could keep them occupied by herself.

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  7. #567
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six SpoonyViking's Avatar
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  9. #569
    後継者 Successor zikari8's Avatar
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    Year:
    2018
    Location: Hallow Lake, Fairyland

    “I think we should try and get the other Servants on our side.”

    After some thought, I come to that conclusion and present it to Scylla uneasily.

    “Recruiting more allies, huh? Certainly, that’s the best way to improve our chances, but…” Scylla contemplates doubtfully.

    Indeed, she doesn’t even need to say anything for it be clear what the problem is. How on earth do I convince the other Servants to betray Bianca? Freaking Bianca “infinite charisma + mind control” Chrome. It was basically impossible. Getting Scylla on my side was already a miracle, but it’s unlikely I’ll get lucky again.

    Still, I can’t think of any other way to deal with this. Unless we even the playing field, I don’t stand a chance against Bianca.

    “I think it’s worth a shot. At the very least, we have to try. In our position, there isn’t much to lose anyways.” I argue.

    “I suppose that’s fair.” Scylla shrugs. “So, who specifically do you have in mind?”

    “Hmmm… Tom… is probably impossible.” I think out loud.

    Tom is Bianca’s steadfast knight and his made his absolute loyalty to Bianca completely clear. Even without Reading Rainbow in the picture, I can’t imagine him ever betraying her.

    “Which means, it has to be either Gwenllian or Caster.” I conclude. “If I can get even one to join us, that’ll even things at 2v2. If I somehow get both, then we’ll actually have the advantage.”

    “I suppose.” Scylla nods nonchalantly and making a pensive look. “Well, I’ll leave such details to you. These kinds of thinky-think strategy things aren’t my forte.”

    “What is your forte then?” I ask.

    “Being beautiful, of course.” She answers.

    Of course.

    “Well, even so, I could use your help. Could you tell me what you know about the other servants?” I request. “You’ve been here longer than me, so you surely know more about them. The more info I have, the better.”

    “I see… well, I can tell you what I know, but I’m sure you’ve noticed I’m not exactly the social type.” Scylla notes.

    “That’s fine. Anything helps.” I assure her.

    Scylla nods once more and folds her arms pensively to think.

    “Let’s see… as for Rider, I think she’s some sort of princess or something.” Scylla recalls, digging into her memory.

    “Right. Her True Name is Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd. She mentioned she was a welsh princess or something.” I affirm.

    Personally, I’m not too familiar with Gwenllian’s legend so I can’t say much more than that. Presumably, she must’ve done something impressive to become a Heroic Spirit, but the details are lost on me.

    “That’s right. I guess it’s because she’s a princess, but she’s rather beautiful. Her heart seems noble and her convictions strong. I can see why her nation followed her if she’s that beautiful.” Scylla declares.

    “I see. That does suit her image.” I nod along.

    “Yeah.” Scylla confirms.

    “…”

    “…”

    “Huh? Is that it?” I gasp after noticing that Scylla has gone silent.

    “Yes, that’s all I know about her.” Scylla affirms.

    “Oi, that’s basically nothing. All you said is whether she was beautiful or not!” I retort.

    “What else is there?” Scylla asks, without a hint of sarcasm.

    Oh my god, I should’ve known. This girl only ever has one thing on her mind. This won’t be any help at all.

    “Umm, isn’t there anything else? Like… what does she like to do every day? Even you should’ve noticed something like that, right?” I ask desperately.

    “Hmmm… I think I see her leave the house a lot. She usually leaves sometime in the morning after breakfast and doesn’t return until just before dinner. If I had to guess, I assume she’s going into the city.” Scylla recounts.

    “The city, huh? Now that you mention it, the first time I met she was just casually walking around town, doing some shopping. But surely, she’s not just shopping every day, is she?” I ponder.

    “Who knows. She does come home with bags often. But from the way she talks about them, it seems like they’re gifts from the townsfolk.” Scylla informs.

    “Gifts, huh. She must be pretty popular. No wonder since she’s so nice and friendly.” I affirm.

    She does seem like a very sociable type, someone who can just go up to a stranger and talk up a storm. It’s unfathomable for an introvert like me, but is she just going to the city every day and talking to people there?

    “Oh, that’s right. That reminds me of something she once said to me. She told me that ‘It’s impossible to know someone until you get to know them.’ It sounded like a word puzzle to me, so I got confused and didn’t really understand it. Do you know what she was talking about?” Scylla brings up.

    “Ah… yeah, actually, I think I get what she’s saying.”

    It’s impossible to know someone until you get to know them. In other words, you can’t truly understand a person unless you go and actually interact with them. Only by exchanging words and feelings does a person’s heart become revealed… something like that?

    Don’t tell me. Is she seriously going to the city every day to try and understand the people of this foreign world better by talking and getting along with everyone she meets?

    “Shit. She’s such a good person.” I frown.

    I knew this before, but Gwenllian really is a nice person. It makes me feel bad that I have to consider her an enemy.

    “Well, what about Caster?” I continue, moving on to the other Servant. “Oh yeah, I don’t even know her True Name yet. Could you tell me?”

    “No. I don’t know it either.” Scylla coolly answers.

    “Seriously? You’ve been here how long, and you still don’t know her True Name?” I gasp.

    “Hey, it’s not my fault. No one’s ever said it out loud and the little one’s always locked up in her room or the library. We’ve barely talked.” Scylla pouts.

    “I see… so she’s that reserved.” I contemplate.

    It doesn’t seem like her True Name’s a big secret or anything; it’s just that the girl herself is so shy there hasn’t been much chance for her to reveal it. In some ways, that’s even more troublesome than her True Name being some big weakness.

    “Don’t you have any clues? There must be some hint to her true identity, isn’t there? Any interaction you two had.” I press Scylla.

    “Hmm… well, she was the one who reversed my transformation. So she’s a pretty powerful witch.” Scylla thinks out loud. “Oh, that’s right. I’m not too well-versed in that kind of stuff, but the way she casts spells is similar to the manner I’m used to.”

    “Hmm? What, does that mean that her magecraft is the same as the type that was used when you were alive?” I question.

    “Yeah, yeah, that. What was it called again? Divine Words? The way she spoke when she uses her magic is kind of nostalgic to me.” Scylla confirms.

    Huh, that’s interesting. It seems that Caster’s magecraft may be similar to the type from Scylla’s region and era. That might be an important clue to figuring out who she is.

    In the end, the two of us continue talking and strategizing like that for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, no matter how much I probe her, Scylla isn’t able to give my any more useful information. She really doesn’t seem to pay much attention to other people after all.

    Just as the sun begins to set and we’re about to call it a day.

    “Oh, one more thing. I’m sorry but can I get you to prepare something for me, Scylla?” I bring up as we begin to paddle back to shore.

    “Huh? What is it? Don’t tell me you’re making me do chores for you now.” She glowers at the thought.

    “Nothing that trivial. It’s just a little fail-safe plan for in case we don’t manage to recruit Gwenllian or Caster to our side. It’s not guaranteed to work, and I’d rather not use it, but I figured we should have a back-up just in case.” I explain.

    I quickly tell her what I want her to do for me, and she seems to understand, even if she doesn’t get it.

    “I guess that’s fine. I don’t really get how that’ll help, though.” Scylla responds in a confused manner. “I just need to do what you say, right?”

    “Yeah. Don’t worry too much about the details. Just be ready to go with it once I tell you too. Before that, though, I’ll try to talk to the other Servants first.” I dictate to her.

    With that, we close our little mid-lake meeting and return to the mansion. We leave the boat and go back separately so that it isn’t discovered that we were together all day, me heading back first while Scylla stays back for a few extra minutes.

    When I return and enter the mansion, I’m immediately greeted with a friendly welcome from Gwenllian, sitting at the same table I saw her at this morning.



    “Welcome back! How was your day?” She beams at just the sight of me returning.

    It’s so bright and cheerful that it throws me off a little. My dark, spiteful nature really can’t handle her full-frontal friendliness.

    “Um, yeah, it was okay. Nothing much.” I awkwardly answer.

    “Well, you made it just in time. It’s almost dinner. Why don’t you freshen up a bit and join us afterwards? Today’s Saber’s special beef stew.” Gwenllian beams.

    “R-right… I guess I’ll join you then…” I nod and rigidly head for the stairs.

    Just before I do so, though, I come to a stop and decide to muster up a little courage. I need to hurry up and start of thinking of ways to move my plans forward. To do that, I should take some more proactive measures.

    “Oh, um, Gwenllian.” I abruptly call out, with one foot already on the staircase.

    “Hm? Did you need something?” She responds amicably.

    “Well, it’s about the offer you made this morning. About joining you for a ride. Would it be too late to take you up on that offer?” I ask her anxiously.

    To my surprise, Gwenllian’s eyes immediately brighten, and her mouth widens up greatly.

    “Oh! Really? You want to go with me on a joy ride?” She asks, her enthusiasm emanating with a fiery ferocity.

    “Y-yeah. If it wouldn’t be too much trouble.” I nod.

    “Oh, not at all! I’m so happy you agreed. Oh, it’ll be great, just you see. I’ll take you to all the best spots, I promise!” She beams as if it were her birthday. “Okay, let’s meet up tomorrow morning then. Don’t go skipping out on me now.”

    “Of course. Then I’ll look forward to tomorrow.” I agree readily and then continue my ascent to my room.

    Good, that’s one down. I’ll use the chance tomorrow when I’m alone with Gwenllian on the horse to approach her and see if there’s a possibility of her joining our side. Hopefully, it’ll go well, and we’ll be able to gain another ally.

    With that settled, I climb back up the stairs towards my room in order to freshen up before dinner. I’d been in a bad mood for the past few days, but now that things are looking a bit better, I’m actually looking forward to eating some good food. I guess one’s mood really does have an effect on their appetite.

    As I reach the top floor, I pass by Bianca’s door and immediately pause.

    Just thinking that Bianca is on the other side of the door causes me to freeze in my tracks and stare at it mindlessly for a few brief moments. At that moment, the only thing separating us was a single door and only a few meters. It wouldn’t be too hard to bust into that room right now and reduce that distance to zero. And yet, I know more than anything that I can’t lay a finger on her right now. She’s so close and yet she’s still so far. There’s still much I need to do before I can smash in her smug little face.

    “… I wonder what she’s doing right now.” I mindlessly think as I try to sense her presence behind the door but fail to pick up on any signs of life.

    Perhaps she was sleeping or just being really still, but there’s no sign of activity from within; the inside of that room remains a complete mystery to me.

    What I do notice, though, is the platter of food already laid out just in front of the door. Tom must’ve delivered her meal to her once again. On the platter is an assortment of side dishes surrounding the main dish, Tom’s special beef stew.

    Without any hesitation, I spit in the stew and walk away.

    Just you wait, Bianca. I’m coming for you.

    Soon, we’ll settle this once and for all.


  10. #570
    後継者 Successor zikari8's Avatar
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    Year:
    2018
    Location: ???

    GAME OVER

    “Come on! I’m not done yet!”

    GAME OVER

    “I’ll get it this time!”

    GAME OVER

    “One More Time!”

    GAME OVER

    “I’m not giving up!”

    GAME OVER

    “HAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!”

    GAME OVER
    Seriously, get rekt scrub

    “Haah… haah… dammit. I’ll get it… eventually…”

    Panting heavily, I collapse on the ground after yet another series of consecutive defeats.

    As always, I’m back in Merlin’s dreamscape, completing my training in Merlin Quest with all my strength. And just as always, I’m dying over and over against the devilish challenges that Merlin has set up for me. I swear that woman’s a super sadist.

    “Ara? Were you just thinking about me?” Merlin suddenly says from the sidelines.

    “Oi, when did you become a mind-reader too?” I retort, exhaustedly.

    “Ufufu, your emotions are easy to read. You don’t have much of a poker face, you know.” She giggles. “Looks like you’re having a lot of trouble with this one, huh? You’ve died over two dozen times to this part alone.”

    “I-it’s no big deal. I’ll figure it out eventually.” I mumble, acting tough despite my plainly pathetic performance.

    Despite my best efforts, I was hopelessly stuck on one of the quests in the game. An evil witch had kidnapped both a princess and a companion that had helped me out a lot earlier in the game, and she was holding them both hostage. Inside the witch’s castle, the two hostages were being held in separate cages, both of them suspended above a pit of lava. In order to reach one of the cages, one had to climb up a series of platforms that lead up to the cage door while being bombarded by enemy monsters. However, the moment one steps on the final platform before one of the cages, the other one is dropped down into the lava.

    I had tried many ways to bypass this mechanism and save both, but they all failed. But no matter how many times I tried or what methods I used, I couldn’t find a way to save both hostages.

    “Dammit… what am I doing wrong? There has to be something I’m missing…” I grumble while gritting my teeth in frustration.

    At times like this, it sure can feel like one is just bashing their head against a wall. Maybe, after so many attempts at this training, I’m starting to get mentally fatigued.

    “Hmmmm…” Merlin, for some reason, starts making a troubled face. “I don’t normally want to give any hints, but you sure seem stuck on this one.”

    “What? You have something to say?” I quip at her, letting my frustration show.

    “I think you’re making a basic misunderstanding here. If you paid attention to the story cutscenes for once, you should know the point of this quest is to choose one of the hostages to save.” Merlin announces cheerfully, as if revealing a surprise at a party.

    Hearing that, though, rubs me the wrong way.

    “I already know that…” I mutter beneath my breath.

    “Huh? What was that?” Merlin asks.

    “I said I already know that! I know what the point of this damn set-up is, you sadistic witch.” I raise my voice angrily. “But that doesn’t mean I have to accept it. I have no intention of letting either of them die!”

    “Ooooohh, how cool!” Merlin claps with stars in her eyes. “Now you’re talking like a hero. That’s certainly an admirable attitude to have.”

    “Praise from you just sounds like thinly-veiled mockery.” I comment on her nearly sarcastic tone.

    “Regardless, while I approve of your spirit, I must regretfully reveal that that’s just not an option this time.” She states. “You do need to pick one in order to progress.”

    “W-why? Who decided that?” I shout.

    “Well, um… me. I mean, I designed the game.” Merlin blankly answers.

    Shit, that’s a good point.

    “W-well, that means you can change it, right? Then add an option where you can save both.” I demand firmly.

    “Ehhh, no way. That defeats the whole purpose of the training and what I’m trying to teach you with this part of the game.” Merlin refuses.

    “Why you…” I mutter angrily.

    “This too is all part of becoming a hero. So, think long and hard about which one you want to save and which one will die.” She declares.

    “Tch. How can you talk like that about pick-and-choosing lives?” I grimace.

    “It’s just a game. They’re just NPC’s.” Merlin shrugs.

    Just hearing that line makes me want to vomit. The image of a certain blond demon girl flashes in my head and makes me sick and angry.

    “Fine then. I don’t need your help; I’ll figure it out on my own.” I declare while setting forth to continue the game. “I’m going to save both of them, like a true hero.”

    “Ehhhhh, you’re just going to waste your time though…” Merlin remarks, her voice showing a bit of strain, likely because she thinks I’m being stupid.

    “It’s not about efficiency. It’s about staying true to ideals!” I state boldly, before gritting my teeth and clenching my fist. “What else could I possibly do? There is no right choice, so there’s no way I can make that kind of choice…”

    “Ah.”

    At that moment, for some reason, Merlin’s face twitches. Her eyes turn blank, and she just stares at me motionlessly. It was as if she stumbled upon a massive epiphany— no, it’s more like she was suddenly recalculating something.

    And then, after that, she returns back to normal.

    She’s back to normal and yet her entire vibe is different. With an expressionless, almost bored face, she leans onto her own palm and watches me with dull eyes.

    “I see... In that case, why don’t you just go ahead and do your best?” She mouths uninterestedly.

    “Hmph, I intend to.” I pout and turn away.

    What’s her problem, all of a sudden?

    Though I’m curious, my mind quickly gets sucked into thinking about how to save both hostages again, and I commit everything to tackling the challenge once more.

    In the end, though, I fail to succeed even once and end up making no further progress in Merlin Quest for the rest of the night.







    Year: 2018
    Location: Viridian Plains, Fairyland

    The next morning, I get up extra early for the first time since arriving in Fairyland. Even before the crack of dawn, I found myself wide-awake and raring for the brand-new day.

    The reason, of course, is because of the arrangement I made with Gwenllian yesterday. We promised to go on a horse ride together or something first thing in the morning. I told Merlin this beforehand, so it seemed she kept track of time for me and let me go early. How nice.

    To be honest, when I woke up, I still felt a little frustrated from my continued failures in Merlin Quest, having lost a crazy amount of time to that catch-22 choice. Nevertheless, I forced myself to shake it off as I washed my face as I couldn’t afford to be distracted during my time with Gwenllian.

    This was my best and possibly last chance to try and recruit her to my side. I knew that every word, every pause in the conversation, every action may play an integral part to tipping the scales of the upcoming battle. I would likely have no choice but to use every bit of concentration I had to stay calm and carefully gauge the situation. There was no doubt that it would be a heart-racing battle of careful verbal sparring.

    At least, that’s what I expected to happen—

    “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!”

    —Instead, I soon found myself doing nothing but screaming at the top of my lungs. My heart was racing for all the wrong reasons.

    “Ahahahaha, isn’t this the best, Camille? Nothing beats the feel of the wind against your cheek first thing in the morning, right!?” Gwenllian cackles from in front of me.

    “AAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAaaaaggggGGHHHHHH!!!” was my only reply.

    As I scream at the top of my lungs, the two of us fly through the green hills on horseback at speeds that no human was meant to ever travel at.

    Cutting winds brush against me like fierce waves and I cling desperately to Gwenllian’s back with all my strength in order to avoid being blown off. All the while, the living beast beneath me kicks and bucks without any care for my safety, like some awful hellish combination of an iron bull and a jet coaster. If such an attraction were to be put in an amusement park, it would surely come with a “you’ll probably die” waiver.

    “G-G-Gwenllian, c-can we slow down a b-bit…?” I weakly murmur while trembling in fear.

    “Huh? What was that?” She asks, slightly cocking her head back, evidently unable to hear me over the roaring winds.

    “I-I-I said, c-can we slow—” I begin to answer.

    “Oh, wait, hold on. We’re coming to a jump. We can talk afterwards, or else you might bite your tongue.” She casually mentions, focusing back on the road.

    Mn, well, if that’s the case, I guess I have no choice but to hold my tongue for now… wait, did she just say jump?

    “A jump? What do you mean, a jump!?” I shout, before noticing the gorge that we were rapidly approaching.

    No, no, no, that can’t be it. There’s no way that’s what she means by a jump. That thing has to be like at least 100 feet. That’s not a distance any horse in the world can clear. We’ll die. We’ll definitely die if we try to jump that—

    “Yahoo, let’s go! Hold on tight!!”

    “Oh, come on!”

    Without the chance to brace myself, the horse takes the leap and all I can do is cry as I scream.

    Ah, these past few days, I’ve ended up experiencing Death a lot in my dreams, but I didn’t expect to experience it in the real world as well…




    “Bleeeuurrghh…”

    “Sorry, sorry. I keep forgetting that I’m a Servant now and that normal people aren’t as strong as me.”

    After we finally arrive at our destination, Gwenllian quickly apologizes to my nearly-unconscious body as I flop onto the grass without any strength left in me.

    “Ahhh, the earth… it’s so peaceful… and stable… I’m never leaving it ever again…” I mutter incoherently as I stroke the soft grass.

    “Y-you okay, buddy? Do you need some water or anything?” Gwenllian asks, crouching down to pat my back.

    “I’m fine… I just need to lie down for a bit…” I answer weakly.

    Ugghh… my heart’s still racing and my head’s still spinning. The nauseous desire to throw up still hasn’t washed over yet and I can hardly tell left from right.

    You know, when I asked to join Gwenllian for a horse ride, I was kind of expecting an elegant and leisurely trot through a flower field or something. Something princess-like that suited Gwenllian’s beauty.

    I should’ve known that superhuman beings have to take everything to the extreme.

    “… Servants aren’t to be underestimated…” I remind myself while smelling the dirt.

    After a few more minutes of rest, I manage to finally calm down and pick myself back up.

    When I do, I find Gwenllian, for some reason, placing things on top of a blanket spread across the grass.

    “Oh, Camille, you’re back.” She greets me with a smile.

    “Y-yeah. Um… what are you doing?” I ask as I stand up.

    “Setting up the picnic.” Gwenllian answers nonchalantly. “I know it’s a little early, but I thought it’d be waste to not enjoy this view with some tea and snacks.”

    So saying, she gestures lightly towards the edge of the hill we were on. I follow her motion, turning my head to the cleft and—

    “Woah.”

    My breath is briefly stolen away by the rising sun in the distant horizon. I hadn’t noticed it earlier due to my dizziness but now I was able to appreciate it in full.

    A beautiful gradient of colors going from blue to yellow as the sun slowly ascended over the verdant hills. As far as the eye could see, there was nothing to detract from it but pure nature. Pure beauty in its absolute essence.

    I’d seen similar views in picture and what not before, but there was something different about this moment. Perhaps the mere experience of actually being there, right in front of that massive, monolithic sun. No portrait or picture, no matter how large, could express the scale of wonder before me…

    “I found this place one day when I was just riding around.” Gwenllian suddenly breathes into my ear while I was enraptured by the view. “You’re the first person that I’ve shown it to, though. I thought it would be a good reward for agreeing to accompany me today.”

    “O-oh, I see!” I squeak panickedly as I snap back to reality.

    I quickly take a few steps back so that her face isn’t so close anymore. Not good, I just calmed down and yet my heart is racing again. That kind of sneak attack is unfair!

    “Hey, where are you going? Come on and sit down. We can enjoy the sunrise leisurely over some breakfast.” Gwenllian calls out, before plopping back onto the picnic blanket.

    “Oh, okay…” I hesitantly accept.

    I carefully sit down on the picnic blanket as well, maintaining a healthy distance between me and the princess. There, I find a small collection of finger sandwiches and other pastries arranged in the baskets that Gwenllian had brought with her. Two cups of iced tea accompanied the spread, covered by a lid to protect against the gentle breeze.

    “Y’know, I snuck these cakes out from the secret stash in the kitchen. Don’t tell Saber okay?” Gwenllian whispers to me with a wink. “It’ll be our little secret.”

    “R-right.” I reply.

    “Now come on. Just help yourself.” She invites me, before digging in herself.

    “R-right.” I stutter again.

    Geez, what’s up with me. I don’t know now if it’s the view that’s taking my breath away or if it’s Gwenllian.

    As always, I’m bad with dealing with super caring people. Whenever I talk to Gwenllian, I feel like I can hardly get a word in and I end up just getting caught up in her warm embrace. It’s troubling…

    In the end, the two of us end up enjoying the beauteous sunrise in relative silence, taking small bites of the food while mostly taking in the beautiful view. Perhaps we both knew that it would be unfitting to waste the view with regular chatter.

    But before I know it, the sun is fully risen, and I feel a slight tinge of melancholy that it’s over.

    “That was nice.” Gwenllian remarks cheerfully.

    “Yeah.” I nod, taking an extra deep breath to just let it finish soaking in.

    “I know I said this already, but I’m happy I was able to share this view with you. I’m really glad you agreed to join me today.” She says to me in a soft tone. “It hasn’t been too long since you started staying here, but I still feel like we haven’t had much chance to just talk one-on-one.”

    “I suppose that’s true…” I admit.

    Looking back on the past week, I mostly just moped around my room or hung out with Scylla. Though I have run into Gwenllian quite a bit, we haven’t exactly actually talked much.

    “And so, let’s take this chance to get to know each other better. Now that you’re staying here, we should start getting closer.” She declares boldly.

    “Eh? Uh, um, well…” I mumble, flustered.

    Immediately, a sense of awkwardness hints me. This time, though, it’s not just because of my general awkwardness, but also because of the implication of her words.

    Frankly, I have no intention of staying in this world any longer than I have to. So then, to act otherwise and to befriend and to connect with these people just feels… dishonest. I already reflected on this earlier, but is there really any meaning in getting to know Gwenllian any better? Is it really right to become friends with her when I plan to leave her as soon as possible?

    Even so, I can’t exactly say no. Despite my misgivings, I’ll just have to go along with her.

    “I don’t mind talking, but I’m not sure what to say… I don’t really have anything interesting to share. I’m a rather boring person.” I remark while my eyes shift around nervously.

    “Nonsense. There’s no such thing as an interesting or a boring person. There are only people. And all people are interesting.” Gwenllian declares. “Let’s see…”

    And so, on Gwenllian’s lead, the two of us begin talking about all sorts of meaningless topics. For the most part, Gwenllian carries the brunt of the conversation, drawing nods and answers out of me with an adept tongue. The topics mostly just revolve around me, talking about what I like and what I think about things and what not.

    For the most part, I don’t like talking about myself too much, since most things about me aren’t very interesting and everything else is generally stuff I don’t want anyone to know, but Gwenllian has a weird way of making me talk about even the most mundane things, like what type of erasers I like to use or where I cut my hair. Is this the power of a princess?

    Before I know it, quite a while has passed. I’m on my third glass of tea when I suddenly notice the time.

    “Oof.” I grimace as I snap myself back to focus. “Wait, what am I doing?”

    That’s right, I didn’t come here to have an enjoyable conversation with Gwenllian. Well, I partly did, but that was in service of my true goal. I’m supposed to be trying to recruit her to our team.

    “Is something the matter?” Gwenllian asks, noticing my shift in attitude.

    “Huh? Ah, no, it’s nothing.” I quickly lie, while the back of my mind starts thinking about what to do.

    All right, no more fooling around. Time to get serious.

    Now then, how do I do this? Let’s see… the best strategy is probably to just do the same thing I did for Scylla. Start by trying to understand Gwenllian’s perspective better. Figure out what her values are, where her loyalties lie, and just how badly Bianca’s claws have sunk into her. Once I do that, I can figure out whether or not I can trust her.

    So then, first off…

    “Umm, hey, Gwenllian. We’ve been only really talking about me so far, but I’m a little interested in you too.” I bring up as smoothly as I can.

    “Oya? Well, what do you want to know? I’ll answer anything.” Gwenllian giggles.

    “Well… I know your true name but, to be honest, I’m actually not too familiar with your legend. S-sorry.” I say, fidgeting anxiously.

    “Ah, I see. I guess that’s a pretty normal thing to ask a Servant.” Gwenllian nods understandingly.

    “Sorry. If it’s not too much of a trouble, I’d be interested in your past.” I state softly. “O-of course, if you don’t want to talk about it…”

    “Nah, it’s fine. I don’t mind at all.” She beams. “Just that, it probably won’t be too entertaining.”

    For a brief moment, she makes a light sigh and stretches her arms. In that moment, I sense just the slightest sense of melancholy as she readies to recount her heroic legend.

    “Well, there’s not much to say. This is just an ordinary tale of an ordinary girl. The kind of legend you could find anywhere in the world.”

    Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd, the warrior princess of Deheubarth.

    Born the youngest of eight children to a noble Welsh family in the middle ages, Gwenllian was a young woman known for her striking beauty. At a young age, she fell in love with the Prince and the two of them eloped, before marrying shortly after. Their loving relationship bore many children and many wonderful moments. But peace was not fated for their family.

    At that time, Wales was under fierce invasion by the Normans. Having already conquered England, the Normans encroached on Welsh land with gratuitous cruelty, establishing many footholds in the country. In light of these circumstances, Gwenllian and her husband fought back against the invaders with guerilla tactics, launching hit-and-run lightning raids on Norman positions. The two of them were like a pair of Robin Hoods, taking money and goods from the foreign invaders and then distributing them among their less fortunate people.

    Their retaliatory actions finally came to a head during the Great Revolt of 1136. Due to political complications, England had fallen into anarchy, creating the perfect chance for the Welsh to fight back reclaim their land. In the midst of the revolt, Gwenllian was left alone, without her husband, to lead her army in defense of their land. She roused her men with inspiring words and had set up a cunning strategy involving her signature hit-and-run guerilla tactics. But, in the eleventh hour, she was betrayed. One of her own men gave the enemy crucial information that led to her defeat. She was beheaded on the battlefield, a gruesome but quick death for such a beautiful woman.

    Even so, her fight for freedom didn’t end there. Even past her death, her spirit continued to live on in the Welshmen who continued to battle with fury. For centuries after her passing, her countrymen continued to cry “Revenge for Gwenllian!” as they ran into battle.

    “Well, that’s pretty much it.” Gwenllian concludes, immediately chugging down some tea after her long monologue. “Haha, not too crazy, I know, but I guess I did some pretty cool things.”

    “I see…” I utter in wonder, having listened to her whole story attentively.

    Most of the story had been told to me in a dry, almost detached manner, as if she had just been reading her own Wikipedia page. What differed, though, was when she took a small tangent from the story to talk about her experiences. Eloping with the prince, bearing her first child, seeing the smiles of her citizens as she showered them with the spoils of her battles, she spoke of such things quietly but warmly. It made it feel more real than any biography could ever be.

    Once again, I’m reminded that the person in front of me really is a legendary hero. The hero of Wales, Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd…

    “Ah.” I suddenly realize something when I repeat her name in my head. “Oh, wait, now I remember! I remember why your name felt familiar!”

    “Huh?” Gwenllian staggers, thrown off by my sudden enthusiasm.

    “The Mabinogion! You’re the one who wrote the Four Branches of the Mabinogi!” I exclaim excitedly.

    Or at least, that’s what some people theorize.

    “Ah. Oh, um, so you knew about that…” Gwenllian mutters gently, more or less confirming the theory. “I suppose that means you’ve read my works...”

    “Of course, I have. It’s a fundamental text for Welsh Mythology!” I proclaim, jumping up onto my knees. “No self-respecting scholar doesn’t know about the Mabinogion! I’ve personally must’ve read it like a dozen times!”

    I’m filled with a sudden excitement I hadn’t even expected from myself. Who would’ve known that I would end up meeting and talking to the writer of such a legendary story?

    In stark contrast, though, Gwenllian suddenly starts acting more reserved, as if our positions had been reversed.

    “G-gosh, I don’t know what to say. Well, I’m happy that you liked it but…” She mumbles, pressing a hand to her reddening cheek.

    “Huh? Is something the problem?” I ask her, concerned.

    “Well, it’s just that…” She seems to shiver for a few moments, before abruptly crying out. “It’s so embarrassing!!”

    Eh? To my utter surprise, Gwenllian buries her face in her hands and curls herself up.

    “I just wrote that stuff for fun! I never meant for so many people to read it!” She shouts into her hands.

    Ehhhhhhh!? No way, no way, how can she say that about such a popular and well-regarded story?

    “I mean, I’m happy that a lot of people like what I wrote, but at the same time, every time I think about someone intensely examining and judging my story, I get so anxious. It’s like all my deepest and inner feelings are being broadcasted to the entire world.” She laments, her shaking hands parting slightly to reveal her painful expression.

    “I-I see…” is all I can respond with, still completely taken aback.

    I guess it just goes to show you can never know who’s behind the book you read. I would’ve never guessed she would feel this way about her own legendary work.

    “U-umm, if it’s worth anything, I really liked your story… It’s very imaginative and intricate. It’s deceptively simple, easy to read, but with a lot of substance to bite into. You have real skill as an author.” I muster up, drawing a little closer to her.

    “Mnnn… thank you.” She mutters, slowly lifting her head and calming down, perhaps coming to terms with her inner cringe.

    Not sure how to comfort her, I decide to slightly shift the topic.

    “Uh, say, if you are the author of the Four Branches, after all, why didn’t you mention that when you were recounting your legend? I’d think that’d be worth talking about.” I ask her.

    “Mnn, well, like I said, it’s embarrassing.” She says sulkily. “Besides, writing is just my hobby. What I’m really proud of is fighting and dying for my people.”

    “I see… you must’ve really cared about your country, huh.” I remark. “No wonder, your people liked you so much. You must’ve been a really good leader.”

    “Well, it’s only natural.” She affirms, regaining a bit of her usual grace. “Though we may have been separated by blood and class, we were all children of Wales. We were all in the same boat. All I did was show them a path towards victory.”

    How noble. She really was virtuous and chivalrous princess.

    Because of that, I become a little curious.

    “Hey, Gwenllian. If you don’t mind me asking… why did you fight so hard, anyways? What led you to taking up the sword?” I ask her seriously.

    Based on what she told me, she was the only woman in Medieval Wales to ever lead an army. She was just a princess who could’ve lived her life another way. She could’ve devoted herself entirely to her writings. So, what made her become the exception and lead her troops into battle?

    “Hmm… that’s a difficult question.” She muses, tilting her head. “If I had to say… I guess I just did it for the people.”

    “The people?” I repeat.

    “Yeah, my people. Under the assault of the invasion, they were suffering, so I decided to fight for them. Whether it was distributing the treasures to them or reclaiming their land, I just wanted to fight for their sake. It didn’t matter whether it was against the Normans or the English or the Flemish. Against our enemies, I would show no fear or mercy.” She declares with a warm smile.

    “I see… so there wasn’t a specific goal. You just devoted yourself to your people.” I say, understandingly.

    “More or less. That’s all I could do.” She laughs lightly. “In this world, conflict and suffering are a constant. So, the best someone like me can do is give it her all to protect the people I love. Even if it means fighting against the rest of the world.”

    “Th-then… would you say that Bianca is someone you’re devoted to protecting?” I question her, anxiously.

    “Of course. Well, I was her enemy at first, but we’re on the same side now. She’s my friend and my Master. I’d give my life to protect her.” She declares with a giant smile.

    Then, out of a sudden, she places an arm around my shoulder and pulls me in, as if hugging me.

    “Of course, that means you too. You’re one of us now, so I’d do anything to protect you too.” She boldly states. “If there’s ever anything you need, don’t be afraid to ask me, okay, Camille?”

    “Y-yeah… thanks.” I nod timidly.

    I see now. I finally understand Gwenllian.

    She is someone who always looks forward. Or specifically, she’s the type of person who doesn’t watch her back. Rather than good or bad, she only cares about Us or Them. For those who are part of Us, she gives them her unconditional trust, care, and support. It doesn’t matter if you don’t see eye-to-eye on some things or maybe you don’t get along with her. Simply by being under the same banner as her, she will lay her life on the line for you. That is the power of Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd, a bond stronger than blood. It’s no wonder she’s such a charismatic leader.

    And, at the same time, it’s no wonder her demise came from betrayal. She simply trusted everyone on her side as being one with her and kept running forward, expecting them to follow her. She never once would’ve expected to be stabbed in the back.

    Even now, with that tragic experience, her caring and trusting nature has not diminished. She continues to only look forwards, towards where her enemies may lie, blind to the evils of those in her shadow. She would never turn on those behind her, for such an action would be no different from turning on herself.

    Honestly… what a shining hero.

    Wise-up! Fairyland Rider
    Affection up!
    You now understand Rider.

    And now that I understand her, I know what I have to do.

    I…

    Choice!
    In hope of recruiting another Servant to your side, you have gotten closer to Gwenllian and are now talking to her one-on-one. After what you have learned, only one question remains: can you trust her?

    1. Yes. Reveal everything and recruit Gwenllian to your team.
    2. No. Give up on recruiting Gwenllian.


  11. #571
    2. I think she's going to protect Bianca no matter what, which honestly sucks, but it be like that

  12. #572
    So Many Ideas, So Little Time SleepMode's Avatar
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    Be seeing you from the other side, Rider.
    The Act of dozing off in the afternoon is a luxury indeed.
    Coffee would be nice, though.

    [Collection of my Servant Sheets]
    Now Revamped!

  13. #573
    Your average angst/edge supplier BnEl15's Avatar
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    It's a hard decision, but 2 it is. Not looking forward to the upcoming angst.

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    不死 Undead Theadier's Avatar
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    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Bird of Hermes's Avatar
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    Really looking forward to the angst coming up.

    2.

  17. #577
    ​It's sad but the only option that makes sense is 2.

  18. #578
    I'm sure to be the lucky one Desdinova Incarnate's Avatar
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    Man.... part of me is curious what'd happen if we go with 1... but I feel like that would work better if we had more people on our side. 2

  19. #579
    後継者 Successor zikari8's Avatar
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    Year:
    2018
    Location: Viridian Plains, Fairyland

    No… I can’t do it.

    I can’t trust Gwenllian. No matter how good of a person she seems, or perhaps because she seems like such a good person, I can’t rely on her. It’s too likely that she’s on Bianca’s side, especially considering the effects of Reading Rainbow.

    If I mess up here, it will probably blow the whole jig up. So I have no choice but to refrain from revealing my true intentions to Gwenllian.

    Unfortunately, I think I have to give up on recruiting her. Which means… she really is my enemy from here on, I guess.

    That thought makes me a little sad.

    “Oh, look at the time.” Gwenllian remarks, noticing how high the sun has risen. “We should be heading back soon. I’m sure Saber’s wondering where we are.”

    “Oh, right.” I nod and get up on her cue.

    I guess that’s it then. My last chance to bond with her is over…

    With a little resignation, I help Gwenllian pack everything up and ready for our return to the mansion. At the same time, I politely ask her to not go so fast on our way back. If I were to go back on that hellcoaster after having just eaten, I guarantee I would end up vomiting chunks.

    “Oh yeah, by the way…” Gwenllian suddenly speaks up as we’re about to climb back on the horse.

    For some reason, she’s acting bashful and doesn’t continue speaking righting away.

    “What is it?” I ask.

    “Well… since you know my whole story now, I was wondering…” She says indirectly. “I’ve actually been doing some writing in my private free time. So, if you want to, maybe I could show you some of them some time...”

    “Ah.”

    My words catch in my throat as I comprehend what she’s suggesting, and I quickly force down the muddy feelings that try to break through my face.

    “Yeah, if the time ever comes, I’d be happy to…”

    I say such with a wry smile, knowing full well such an event will probably never occur…






    Year: 2018
    Location: Hallow Forest, Fairyland

    “So, how’d it go? Is Rider on board?” Scylla asks me, after I return to the area around the mansion.

    “Unfortunately, no dice. It doesn’t seem like she would be on our side, so I refrained from telling her.” I sigh regretfully.

    At the moment, the two of us were in the forest surrounding the lake, the same forest Bianca and I walked through the first time I arrived here. Far away from the prying ears of the other residents of Casa de Bianca, we were free to talk about our secret plans among the silent trees.

    “If Rider’s a no-go, then the only one left is Caster, huh.” Scylla notes, folding her arms and leaning onto a tree trunk.

    “Yeah… and she’s the one I have the hardest time talking to.” I groan, thinking about how grim the situation was.

    Between Gwenllian and Caster, I personally felt like my chances of recruiting the former were higher, due to the princess’s amiability. In comparison, Caster seems to shun me, and I don’t even know what her True Name is. How am I supposed to convince her to fight with me under those conditions?

    “Hmmm… I didn’t want to resort to this, but we may need to start considering our back-up plan…” I mutter while scratching my chin.

    “You mean what we talked about yesterday? You told me to wait for your signal, so I haven’t started yet.” Scylla explains.

    “Yeah, it might be time to go ahead with that. In the meantime, I’ll try to talk to Caster, however that might help. If that doesn’t work, we’ll have no choice left.” I tell her, furrowing my brow.

    Ideally, I’d be able take my time softening my relationship with Caster before going in for the kill, but there’s no time to waste. I can’t spend any more days on what’s already an unlikely prospect.

    “I don’t mind but… what happens if you fail to recruit her, and the back-up plan fails?” Scylla asks.

    “We’ll, uh… cross that bridge when it comes.” I reply uneasily, feeling the sweat drip down my brow.

    Frankly, my chances still weren’t looking very good. Caster’s likely not going to be recruitable and the back-up plan leaves too much to chance for me to be confident in it. Not getting Gwenllian was truly a major blow to us.

    “Good grief, how ungraceful.” Scylla sighs. “For someone with noble intentions, your strategies are hardly beautiful.”

    “S-sorry…” I apologize, biting my lip in regretful frustration at my powerlessness.

    No one wishes I was smarter and more competent than I do.

    “Hm? No, there’s no need to apologize. I wasn’t saying you did anything wrong or anything.” Scylla quickly corrects me. “Being in a tough situation is not inherently ugly. Sometimes an ugly backdrop only makes the foreground shine even brighter.”

    “Huh? Uhh… thanks?” I reply confused, not understanding her analogy.

    “Anyways, I’ve already agreed to help you, so you don’t need to start bowing to me. If you want to thank me, I prefer appreciation as a currency.” She continues, undeterred by anything as always. “For now, I’ll go along with the plan and do as you asked. I don’t know how it’ll help, but I’ll do what I can.”

    “R-right. Then, I’ll be counting on you.” I nod happily.

    It’s a small thing but having someone I can sincerely talk to about this stuff is more comforting than I expected. At first, her cold personality made her hard to get to know, but now I kind of appreciate how stable and calm she is. It’s like finding a steady rock to rest on in turbulent waters. I get the feeling I can trust Scylla with even more things from hereon.

    Wise-up! Fairyland Berserker
    Affection up!
    You are able to trust and rely on Berserker

    “Anyways, what are we doing out here in the forest?” Scylla asks, standing back up straight and looking around. “If you just wanted to talk, we could’ve done it on the lake. Is there any reason we’re here?”

    “Oh, right, yeah. There was something I wanted to do somewhere no one in the mansion could see.” I answer, refocusing myself onto the new topic.

    I begin to scan the forest without finishing my explanation. Not too long after, I find what I’m looking for near the base of one of the trees: an outgrowth of glowing green crystal, sprouting from the ground.

    “Hm? Mana crystals? What do you need that for?” Scylla questions, noticing me move towards it.

    “A little experiment. Just watch.” I tell her and reach out to the crystals.

    I had noticed them when I first came to Fairyland and Bianca gave me a brief explanation. Apparently, due to the high mana concentration in this world and its specific geological conditions, condensed mana often ends up crystallizing and growing from the ground, creating these Mana Crystals. Bianca said that they were effectively no different from weeds, but I kept their existence in the back of my mind, thinking they might be useful.

    “Let’s hope this works…”

    I snap off a chunk of the crystal and hold it in my hands. It’s glowing green and I can certainly sense a lot of magical energy inside this thing. So then, what happens if I try applying my own magical energy into it—

    “Woah!!”

    Immediately, the crystal shatters and a fierce wind bursts forth from my hand. The sudden gale lifts me off my feet and blows me back, throwing my back against a nearby tree trunk.

    I feel a heavy impact as I smash into the tree with a thud.

    “Ow!”

    “H-hey, are you okay?” Scylla quickly asks, a small tinge of concern in her voice.

    “Y-yeah… I don’t think I hit my head.” I groan in pain, weakly pushing myself back onto my feet. There’s a dull thumping pain around my upper back; frankly, I’m lucky it wasn’t worse.

    Once the immediate pain wears off, though, I crack a small smile. It was more than I expected, but my experiment was a success. Just by putting in my magical energy, the mana crystal caused a pretty powerful elemental reaction. I can definitely use this.

    “Hehehe…” I quietly cackle to myself, already thinking about all sorts of devious schemes.

    “… feel like sharing what you’re smiling about?” Scylla calls out sullenly.

    “Oh, uh… sorry, it’s nothing.” I awkwardly respond as I snap back into reality. “It’s just that I might’ve found a weapon I can use against Bianca.”

    With the enthusiasm of a guy showing off his cool new car, I walk Scylla through my thoughts.

    Frankly speaking, in a battle of power, I obviously don’t stand a chance against Bianca. I mean, I don’t even have a single offensive spell after all. But while contemplating this, I remembered the mana crystals that I spotted when I first came to this Lostbelt. Bianca said that one could use them like grenades, so I came up with the idea of making them into a weapon.

    In terms of efficacy, they’re probably not as good as an actual magus with spells, but these crystals should definitely help even out the playing field just a bit. If I use them well, it’s possible that I might be able to outmaneuver Bianca!

    “Huh. I suppose that makes sense.” Scylla nods after hearing me out. “I don’t know too much about fighting, so I’ll take your word for it, if you think that’s a good idea. So? Do you think you’ll be able to use those crystals?”

    “Well, they’ll definitely be a boon. As for how much, though… it’ll depend on how well I can use them.” I state, thinking hard about all the possibilities now in my hand.

    While these crystals do have quite the punch, they’re not exactly meant to be weapons. If I’m not careful, using them would be no different than detonating grenades in my hand.

    “I’ll need to experiment with them a bit more. The more practice I get in, the better.” I think to myself.

    How to use the elemental energy in the crystals without hurting myself, what different varieties of crystals there are, ways to wield that power effectively… there’s so much I need to learn in the limited time I have. Unlike the training I do in my dreams, I don’t have an extended period of time to work on this, so I need to make use of every second, I can.

    “And with that in mind, that’s sort of why I asked you to meet me here, Scylla…” I turn to the Berserker with a timid look. “So, um… could you help me out with my training?”

    “Huh?” Scylla raises her brow questioningly.

    “Ahh, sorry, sorry, you don’t have to if you don’t want to.” I quickly backtrack, flailing my arms in a panic. “I’m sorry, I’m already asking you for so much, I really shouldn’t be demanding anything more. I’ll just train by myself, it’s okay.”

    Idiot, what was I thinking? I can’t keep asking Scylla for so much. Ahh, I’m such an asshole. Someone gives me a little help and I just start relying on them entirely. I really can’t do anything on my own. Idiot, idiot, idiot.

    “Woah, hold on. Calm down, there. I never said I wouldn’t do it.” Scylla swiftly interjects. “I was just wondering if you really wanted my help for training, since I’m not really a fighter.”

    “Huh? Oh… R-really?” I question, snapping out of my usual self-loathing.

    “Sure. If you really do want my help. Why wouldn’t I?” Scylla shrugs.

    “Oh, uh… th-thank you!” I pause for a bit before bursting out in gratitude. “I’ll definitely return the favor one day!”

    “Like I said, the only payment I need is appreciation… well, whatever.” Scylla shrugs once more, twirling her hair around her finger.

    Appreciation, huh. If that’s what she wants, I’d be happy to give it to her, but I wonder how best to show it. I feel like no amount words can convey how grateful I am for her home. Perhaps I should do something for her to pay back the favor after all… but such thoughts can be left for after the dust has settled. For now, I guess I’ve gotta concentrate on my training.

    “Well, then, we don’t have all day. Shall we get started?” Scylla suggests while stretching her body out in a graceful manner.

    “Of course!

    And so, for the rest of the sunlit day, Scylla and I worked on getting me ready for my big fight against Bianca.






    Year: 2018
    Location: Bianca’s Mansion, Fairyland

    After a full day of training with Scylla’s help, we returned to the mansion a little tired, but feeling fulfilled. I was able to test out a lot of the crystals and find different ways to use them in combat. Hopefully, I’ll have mastered them by the time the final showdown comes around.

    As usual, dinner was served liberally, and it ended up being just Scylla and me at the dining table tonight. Once again, Bianca was nowhere to be seen, still holed up in her room like always. Soon enough, nightfall completely came, and the mansion went to sleep.

    For me, though, it was no time to rest. I needed to fulfill the final part of my plan.

    Lat at night, I discreetly snoop around the mansion, looking for my target, until I finally find her on the roof of all things. Climbing out of an open skylight I found, I pull myself onto the roof of the mansion to find Caster sitting there with a large book in her hands.

    “H-hey.” I greet her quietly, as to not startle her.

    “Huh? O-oh, uh… hi…” She squeaks a little, immediately shying away the moment she notices me. As always, she holds the book up to her face to hide the bottom of it from sight.

    “So… I was just walking around when I noticed the skylight window was open. I was wondering what you were doing up here.” I tell her, omitting the fact that I was deliberately looking for her.

    “Umm… star-gazing.” She admitted timidly.

    Huh, that does make sense. Now that she mentions it, the night sky does look wondrous tonight. I hadn’t really paid much attention to it before, but the sky is covered in glimmering lights. It’s a sight I’ve almost forgotten after all my time in Yao.

    “In that case… can I join you?” I ask her, glancing back and forth between her and the starry sky.

    “Eh? U-ummm…” She hesitates for a bit, seeming to consider it, before meekly nodding. “G-go ahead.”

    “Thanks.”

    Carefully crawling across the roof, I find a spot near Caster, but still distant enough to not intrude on her personal space and lie down. Once I’m there, I notice the muffled sounds of something below. There, just in front of the mansion as always, I find Tom and Scylla. It looks like Tom is doing his usual nightly training.

    When I look down, though, I somehow meet eyes with Scylla. She gives me a light wave and I nod back in response. Luckily, it doesn’t seem like they should be able to hear us this high up, so I can talk to Caster freely without worry.

    Speaking of which, what should I say now? It was silent again after Caster’s answer. I glance at her once more to find her fidgeting nervously and still hiding behind her book – a large tome on Astrology. She’s definitely being super conscious of my presence. What can I say to help ameliorate the atmosphere?

    “So, do you like stars?” I decide to ask.

    “Huh? Uh… yeah.” Caster responds, seeming a little surprised at my question. “Wh-what about you?”

    “Umm, I’m not sure. I guess I do find them pretty, but I’ve never really deliberately gone out of my way to go stargazing like this. I have done a little research on astronomy for my magecraft, but I wouldn’t go so far to call it an interest either.” I answer honestly. “But well, I’ve never really seen them this pretty before. I guess it’s thanks to the lack of light pollution. If they’re this nice, perhaps I should look at them more after all… though, I guess I can’t really do that in my lostbelt. Maybe I should just take them in now while I can.”

    While being as sincere as I can, I also try to raise the mood a bit to try and break down the walls between Caster and I. This is probably my last chance to really get to know her, so I can’t hold back any punches.

    Nevertheless, once I stop talking, silence immediately falls upon us once more. I was hoping she’d continue the conversation since it’s about something she likes, but there’s nothing and we’re both left just staring at the night sky in awkward silence.

    Ahhh, this is tough. I know I say that I have trouble with overbearing types like Gwenllian, but that type of personality is at least easy to get to know. I wouldn’t mind Caster’s shyness so much if my mission wasn’t hinging on me trying to recruit her.

    C’mon, what do I say, what do I say?

    “… hey, can I ask you something?”

    Abruptly, while I’m still busy racking my brain for a topic, Caster speaks up.

    “Huh? Oh, yeah, of course.” I answer as quickly as I can, propping myself up to face her.

    Despite being given permission, though, Caster doesn’t continue immediately. Once again, she hides a portion of her face as she seems to gather up some sort of courage. I patiently wait for her question, wondering what it could possibly be.

    After a while, she finally speaks up and asks something I never would’ve expected.

    “Why are you going to fight Bianca?”

    “… huh?”

    It comes so out of left field that I’m unable to process it for several long seconds.

    When I finally do, I feel something clog up in my chest as if I’m having a heart attack.

    “Wh-wh-what are you talking about?” I act dumb in an utter panic. “Me fighting Bianca? What a silly idea. Where on earth did you get that from?”

    Caster responds by simply pointing up at the sky.

    “The stars told me.” She declares bluntly. “With their help, I foresaw that you two would have a big conflict.”

    I’m left flabbergasted. I wasn’t expecting anything like this to happen.

    She foresaw it using the stars? Is that a thing!? Shit, it’s not impossible, especially for a Servant with legend-level magecraft. I can’t believe it, did she really divine the truth that I’ve been trying so hard to hide using magic I didn’t know about?

    “I-if that’s true, that would certainly be a convenient ability…” I remark, unable to think of anything else to say as my entire brain goes aflame.

    “Well, it’s not really omnipotent. I just know that you guys are probably going to fight, but I don’t know why.” Caster reveals a little sulkily. “Though, I do have some ideas of my own…”

    “Y-you do?” I gulp anxiously.

    “There are a few clues…” She affirms in a timid tone disproportional to how much pressure I was feeling from each and every one of her words.

    Then, one by one, she presents her observations quietly but calmly.

    “One, originally Bianca said that you’d just be visiting for a day, but then the next day, she said there was a change of plans and that you’d be staying here permanently. That alone isn’t too strange, but it becomes questionable when considering later points.”

    With each one, she raises a finger as if counting down to my death sentence.

    “Two, after that time you and Bianca spent the day together in your room, Bianca shut herself in her own room and hasn’t come out yet. It’s pretty obvious that something happened between the two of you that made her react so drastically.”

    As she speaks more, her voice gets gradually louder and more confident as if she were coming into her own. In contrast, I only grow more and more silent, unable to raise a single point of contention.

    “Three, just now, when you were talking about the stars, you said that there weren’t any in ‘my lostbelt’, which suggests you still don’t consider this place your home. Furthermore, you said you should take them in while you can, which indicates that you don’t intend to stay here forever.”

    Okay, that one’s on me…

    “Putting all of this together, I think it’s safe to conclude that maybe… you two got into a fight over whether or not you’d stay in this Lostbelt or go back to your previous one. Maybe.” She finishes in a tone of uncertainty despite how conclusive it is.

    She’s got me. She’s figured it out. I don’t know how to respond to that, she just did it using nothing but proper deduction – even if she had the help of her divination. I’m so taken aback that I don’t even have the presence of mind to continue playing dumb.

    “Well, honestly, it’s kind of obvious that something was up between the two of you. Though I guess I would be the only one to pick up on it, since Saber doesn’t think for himself, Rider’s too trusting, and Berserker doesn’t care.” Caster reasons.

    “Th-then what about you? Aren’t you being a little paranoid?” I squeeze out, figuring I need to put up at least some resistance.

    “Me? Well, of course I know when people are trying to hide the truth from me.” Caster states with a strained smile. “I am a witch, after all. Lying is my specialty.”

    “And you’ve been dishonest with me since day one.” Caster whispers to me in a quiet but deliberate manner.

    I suddenly find myself gulping. For the first time since coming to this lostbelt, I feel a sliver of chilling hostility poke at me.

    This girl… I underestimated her. She was so timid and mousey I didn’t realize how much of a threat she really was. I shouldn’t have forgotten that she was still a Servant at the end of the day. I should’ve known from the beginning that, of all the Servants, the Caster would have the highest chance of figuring me out.

    But now it’s too late. I just have to deal with it now. I have to tackle this with the utmost care or else everything may be screwed.

    Taking no heed – or perhaps taking special heed – of my regrets, Caster continues to question me, her cowering eyes now seeming sharper than knives.

    “So? What do you have to say? Am I right?”

    How the hell do I answer?

    Choice!
    After failing to recruit Rider, you try your luck with Caster only to discover that she has picked up there being something up between you and Bianca. She asks you if her suspicions are true. How do you respond?

    1. Admit to everything and tell her the whole truth
    2. Admit to having a disagreement with Bianca but hide the knowledge of Reading Rainbow
    3. Turn the tables and ask Caster why she wants to know
    4. Beg Caster not to tell Bianca or the others
    5. Deny everything and continue to play dumb
    6. Mind Break Caster
    7. Write-In


  20. #580
    Your average angst/edge supplier BnEl15's Avatar
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    1. She seems smart enough to put the pieces together.

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