You step out into the crisp morning air and take a moment to relish it. It looks like it’s roughly eight in the morning, and after taking a moment to stretch a final time, you head out to explore the town. Despite its convoluted layout, the town isn’t that big, so you should be able to find your way back to the main square with relative ease.
There aren’t as many mamono walking around town as there were yesterday evening, so you assume they’re out tilling the fields or some such thing. You see a few men cleaning, weaving or curing hides, though still not as many as yesterday. Some of them are carrying babies in slings as they work, occasionally calling out to the children old enough to run around, telling them to be careful or to play nice.
There isn’t a single person who doesn’t pause to look at you when you pass them, but everyone mostly seems curious. While the men are satisfied with cursory glances before getting back to work, you notice that the children are absolutely riveted by your appearance. Soon there’s a small group of various young mamono, with a smattering of human boys, following you.
Ignoring the children and continuing on, you make it to the square and look around for any buildings of interest. The mayor’s (Mira’s) house is to your right, on the east side of the square. There are three main streets leading from the square, heading north, west and south. You came from the west one, the one to your left, yesterday and you’re currently standing at the mouth of the southern one.
A building on the northern street ahead of you catches your eye. It has a sign with a bull’s horn engraved on it hanging above the door, it appears to be some sort of tavern. As good a place to gather intel as any to gather intel. Since you have nothing better to do, you decide to go check it out. But now there’s a group of children, consisting of a lizard-girl, a lamia, a bear-girl, a bear-girl and twin wolf-girls blocking your way. They seem a little nervous, but the lizard-girl steps forward and puffs out her chest, crossing her arms. “You’re a boy, right? Where’s your wife, and why are you dressed funny?”
Huh, now that you’ve been seeing so many of these “mamono”, you’re starting to remember some of the stuff you read about them on the image boards. Shifting your rifle, you look down at the lizard-girl, who’s waiting expectantly. You crouch down to her eye-level, and even though she’s trying to keep a brave front, she can’t help but gulp and back away a little bit.
“A good soldier is married to his kountry, little one, and I am a ‘’very’’ good soldier.” At this, the little lizard-girl gasps and starts bouncing in place, all traces of trepidation gone. “A soldier? That means you’re a warrior, right? I knew it, what you’re wearing is armor! Just kinda weird armor!” You nod in response, a bit taken aback by the sudden enthusiasm, then grin to yourself as you get an idea.
You rise to your full height and loom over them, slowly looking them over. “Now a kvestion for you: vere I am from vee eat naughty little children… vould any of you happen to be naughty children?” Wide-eyed, all of the kids vigorously shake their heads. Their expressions are so comical that you can’t help but chuckle “Zat is good zen! I also happen to be very good at hide und seek, so maybe vee kan play later.” This seems to dispel any doubts the children have about you, and they swarm you, giggling.
Caught off guard, you quickly try to explain that you currently have business and need to leave. They seem a little disappointed, but they stop clinging to your legs and trying to climb you and leave, running back down the road you came from. They all wave goodbye with calls of “Bye Mr. soldier-man!” and “see you later soldier-man!”
You wave back at them and turn to head to the tavern. As you come closer you see that the sign above the door says “Þe Bull’s Horn”. The style of the letters is a bit odd, so it would seem that people here don’t use the modern English alphabet at least. Stepping in through the large door, you take a look around. The interior is a large common area, with several fireplaces and torches lining the wall. They’re all currently unlit as this building has windows, which currently provide sufficient lighting.
Off in the right corner, you see a bar located in front of a currently open door, giving you a view of what appears to be a kitchen. In the left corner, a flight of stairs leads up to the second floor. The common room is largely empty, except for a few older-looking mamono who are busy playing some sort of board game with carved figurines, and a familiar figure with bat-like wings and a strange-looking tail with a barbed bulb on its end. She’s resting face-first on the table with a mug clenched in her paw.
One of the older mamono notices you and nudges the others. They all turn to look at you, before returning to their game. Occasionally they glance at you and whisper or chuckle to each other. You can’t help but note that even as gray-haired as they are, they still look quite fetching. Or “milfy”, if you’re going to be blunt about it. Fucking mamono man, how do they work?
Being the only manticore you’ve seen in this town, you assume that the girl on the table is Tabitha. Recalling how upset she was about having her crotch peppered by makeshift shrapnel, you decide to go over and apologize. You gently grab her shoulder and give her a light shake. She grunts a little and bats at your hand, but you continue, and she eventually pulls her head up with a rather unladylike groan and looks at you.
She blearily focuses, and slits her eyes, slowly pushing her way to a standing position when she sees it’s you, her tail flicking back and forth behind her. “You.” She steps forward, face-to-chin with you. Despite being noticeably intoxicated and several inches shorter than you, she still manages to come across as threatening. And pissed. Very pissed. “You musht’ve thought it waz shoooo funny, using magic to shoot grav-*hic* gravel at my cunt.”
Her tail writhes behind her agitatedly. “Dya have ANY idea how shenshitive manticorez are down there?” She pauses and takes a swig from her mug of ale before looking back at you expectantly. You hazard a guess “Really sensitive?” She slams her mug back down on the table. “EXACTLY, like really ”really” shenshitive. I waz sho embarrashed too. I-I have half a mind-” She swings her tail forward and manages to grab it after a couple attempts. “to take my tail pusshy and rape the magic right outta you”.” She brandishes the bulb at you while pointing at it. “Whashu think bout THAT whizzard? Tail. Pusshy.” She tips back her mug and drains it while waiting for your response.
Well, you can see where she’s coming from: having detritus blasted at your genitalia hardly sounds fun. Still, you have to think of your safety here. There’s just too many unknown factors with these “mamono” and their world, so you subtly square your feet and get into a more battle-ready stance, in case things get violent.
Though… seeing how drunk Tabitha is, you hardly think she’s a threat and you can’t help but feel a little bad for the sore, drunken manticore. The twitching of her fluffy, cat-like ears catches your attention and you idly wonder if she’d enjoy having them petted as much as cats do. Before you really think it over, you find your fingers scratching at her fluffy ears where they connect with her head.
Tabitha reacts immediately, her whole body stiffening as her eyes go wide, slowly shifting to you. Unable to read much from her face apart from shock, you decide to apologize and try to explain your actions by the portal, though you don’t stop scratching. “My apologies miss, I vas merely trying to startle your group. I had not foreseen zat you vould be going ah, “kommando”, as I believe ze term is.”
While you’ve been speaking, her ears started to flick incessantly beneath your hand. As you finish talking, she bats your hand away and glares at the older mamono who are now watching you two with quite a bit of interest and giggling. Looking back to you, you notice she seems rather flushed. She attempts to say something, but her voice cracks and she clears her throat before continuing.
“Ah, whatever, sh’fine I guess. My pride’sh more bruized than my lady partsh, nothin’ a night of drinking didn’t fix. Beshidez, the girlz know better than to dishreshpect me, even after thish.” Upon hearing that she’s been drinking all night, you can’t help but tsk at her. A drink is one thing but what self-respecting officer drinks through the night and for a whole morning?
Briskly holding up a finger, you say “From personal experience, I sink you will be quite sick later if you keep drinking like zis. So I have a proposal: vat if I help take you home to sleep zis off, as part of my apology?” Tabitha considers your offer for a while before she seems to realize something and playfully punches your shoulder, giving you a downright predatory grin. “Riiiiight, I gotcha! Taking me home, now that’sh my kind of apology. You really know how to make it up to a lady!” She giggles and wraps an arm around your waist, using her other paw to place your arm across her shoulders. “C’mon, we gotsha get to the weshtern shtreet. Lead the way~”
Tabitha is leaning rather heavily on you, and you’re forced to use the hand she placed across your shoulders to hold her steady. Luckily, she doesn’t weigh much, so the most difficult part is just making sure she stays on her feet. Gently guiding her, you both head towards the door. The older mamono cheer at her and one of them hoots “About time Tabitha! I was starting to think ye’d never find a guy willing to deal wit’ yer drunken arse!”
Flicking the V at them in response, Tabitha giggles while they laugh uproariously before she slams the door open and drags you onto the street with her. You note with some unease that she possesses the kind of strength that you wouldn’t really expect from someone with her frame and size. You still surmise that she’s probably more of a threat to herself than anyone else at this point as she stumbles, almost faceplanting before you catch her.
You both unsteadily make your way towards the village square while you consider trying to pump her for information. As an officer in the local militia, she must be aware of information that the other villagers aren’t aware of, and as drunk as she is it shouldn’t be too hard get her to spill it. You decide to stick to your former line of questioning: where are other artifacts, where can you find a map and what does she know about the Vardic Empire?
But before you can even ask, a familiar voice calls out. “Oh, ”there” you are! I’ve been looking all over for you!” You see Aoi approach from the southern street, waving as she shouts. Tabitha looks less than pleased by the interruption, pulling you closer to her as you both stop. Aoi walks over, eyeing the way you and Tabitha hold each other with concern and a touch of… jealousy?
She stops, crossing her arms and fixing you with a disapproving look. “I don’t really mind waking up with a pile of blankets and pillows on me, and I was slightly confused by the carving in my door, but what I’m really displeased about is having my guest wander off on their own.” She turns her head to look pointedly at the manticore currently clinging to you. “Speaking of which, what exactly ”have” you been getting up to on your own?”
Still clinging to you, Tabitha smirks and draws herself to her full (but still unimpressive) height. “He’sh a big boy Aoi, I’m sure he doeshn’t need you clucking over him. And to anshwer your queshtion,” she says with a sudden, devilish grin “he came to ‘pologize to me. He even offered to go back to my placshe with me.” She punctuates this last part with a wink and a squeeze of your ass. Welp, so much for personal space. Aoi’s jaw tightens at this and she narrow’s her eyes at Tabitha while they stare at each other.
Whoo boy, this is getting tense. Do you want to do anything?
You catch Aoi’s attention with a wave of your hand. “Ah, but feel how brisk zis morning air is! I vas of kourse tempted to take a valk, but it vas razer early and you vere sleeping so komfortably. I did not have zee heart to vake you up, so I vent out for a stroll myself.” You gesture to Tabitha “I happened upon a tavern and took a look inside, only to find miss Tabisa here qvite drunk. Konsidering my previous transgressions against her, I felt zat it vas zee least I kould do to make sure she gets home safe. But now zat you are here, how about zat tour of zee town after? Und vhen do vee meet vis zee mayor?”
Aoi nibbles her lip as she absorbs what you’re saying, before sighing and running a hand through her hair. “Yes, I suppose that makes sense, I’m sorry for my outburst. How about I help you take Tabitha home, and then we can have a walk around the town and go see what Mira has found out about those artifacts?”
Tabitha opens her mouth to protest but shuts it again with a scowl when you nod. As Aoi circles around to Tabitha’s other side to help you guide her, you notice that she’s carrying a basket in her other arm. However, the situation is too awkward for you to ask about it, so the three of you continue your walk (or stumbling) in silence, with Tabitha stewing as you travel. She seems to have lost her good mood, though now her ire seems to be focused on Aoi at least.
Eventually, you reach the end of the street, facing the gate where you came in. Aoi seems to know where Tabitha needs to go, guiding you along a large street heading to the right (north) along the wall to a large single-story building. As you get closer, you make out a sign above the door saying “ᵹuardhouſe”.
Tabitha lets go of your waist as you reach the door, shoving Aoi off her. She produces a key ring with several keys on it and opens the door, before turning back to shoot Aoi a sour look. “I’dve been happy to share y’know, if you weren’t shuch a clamjammer…” and before either of you can answer, she’s already slammed the door shut.
You turn to look at Aoi, who awkwardly stares back for a bit, before clearing her throat. “Well, that was… something. Tabitha’s actually pretty nice, she just gets like this sometimes when she drinks.” She looks up at the sign above the doorway and backs away, spreading her arms with a grand gesture while giggling. “But I suppose this is as good a place as any to start our tour. In case you didn’t notice, this is the guardhouse.”
Playing along, you ooh and aah appropriately at her introduction, which earns you another giggle. She crosses her arms and puts a finger to her chin, thinking. “But let’s see, you’ve seen the mayor’s house, the town square and I assume you must have seen the Bull’s Horn if you found Tabitha drunk… unfortunately, that’s pretty much everything as far as important buildings go but I suppose I can show you the rest before we go meet Mira.”
You spend the rest of the day walking around with Aoi as she takes you to various buildings and introduces you to the mamono working there. First, she introduces you to the resident blacksmith (a lizardgirl), who’s intensely interested in your armor. After spending a while listening to her babble questions about it and doing your best to dodge them, Aoi rescues you by stepping in and continuing the tour.
Next, she leads you to a clothing shop, which has a surprisingly large selection of outfits of impressive quality for sale. A man wearing a collar is cleaning the store while the owner, an arachne, greets both of you. This time, you only stay briefly, and Aoi uncomfortably glances at the collared man the whole time before quickly excusing the both of you.
Having covered the city’s highlights, Aoi decides to give you a tour of the defenses and farmland. While walking, you find out a bit about her, learning that a shortage of men combined with wanderlust drove her to leave Zipangu to look for adventure. You also notice that she seems to be well-liked by everyone, as she occasionally stops to chat with people or play with children.
The palisade completely encircles the town, with the gate that you used being the only entrance. There’s also scaffolding along the inside of the wall that provides a crude but sturdy walkway along the top. It’s interspersed with the occasional watch-house, containing bored mamono standing watch. Aoi waves at one of them, who you recognize as the elf you saw by the portal. The elf waves back before noticing you, eyeing you warily until Aoi introduces you, and she hesitantly gives you a little wave too.
Aoi leads you out of the city and you see farmland stretching along the whole northern side of the wall, extending out for several kilometers. You notice that most of the people tending the fields are mamono, but there’s also a few men helping out here and there, all working together to plow the fields with horses, bulls or the occasional centaur. In the distance, you also spot animals being herded away into the fields.
She then guides you to the top of an outcropping a small distance away from the fields. As you reach the top, she bashfully reveals that the basket she brought is a picnic basket. By the time Aoi decides to lead you back to Mira’s house, it’s already dusk. You aren’t the only ones who are thinking of heading back to town either, as most of the people working the fields begin to head back as well.
Soon you find yourself back at Mira’s door. Kiki guides the both of you inside, and you notice that she’s wearing more decent attire this time. She leads you to Mira’s office, where Mira is poring over some battered journals. As you and Aoi enter, she looks up and rubs her eyes with a sigh. “Welp sugar, you’re in luck. I looked through some of my books and old journals, and found a few locations where there’re definitely artifacts.”
She pulls out a worn-looking map and points to an area far to the south. “Alrighty, I’m almost certain that I’ve seen one here in Amara, the capital of Akhentar. It was built into the House of Merchants, as the doorway.” She drags her finger almost directly up to a new mark. “I also recall seeing one here, in the center of Rymgrand’s Bone Market.” She grimaces as she says this and mutters something about the undead and puns.
Sighing, Mira continues. “This is where things get a little more vague. According to this text about Zipangunese history, there should be a portal in the courtyard of the royal palace. There’s just one problem with that: the Zipangunese royal family is basically deified by their subjects, and no one apart from them, their guards and their servants are allowed in the palace.”
She then taps her finger on a mark almost all the way to the south, past even Akhentar. “This piece of info is even less useful. A book about archeology, artifacts, and curios in the Realm briefly alludes to a “mysterious arch in the room of the Monster Lady herself”. Needless to say, the veracity of that claim is somewhat dubious and even if it was true, well… it’d be in the bedroom of the most powerful person in the world.”
Mira rolls up the map and stares at it morosely before slowly extending it towards you with a pained expression. “I don’t really travel anymore, now that my days as a merchant are done, so I suppose I might as well give it to you, f-free of charge.” She chokes a little bit on the last words. Awyiss, now you can cross that off your list! Looking exhausted, Mira stands up and stretches, her joints audibly popping.
[Monster Realm map obtained!]
“Still, I’m gonna at least insist that you guys join me for a drink in exchange. Let’s head to the Bull’s Horn, I’m parched.” Since you don’t want to appear churlish after receiving free stuff, you oblige her. Kiki then sees everyone out, bowing to you all before closing the door. As you head towards the tavern, you note that you’re not the only ones thinking of ye olde alcoholic beverages. Several mamono, who look like they came straight from the fields, enter the tavern ahead of you after quickly washing off the day’s filth in a large basin outside.
Once inside, you see that the tavern is far more full than this morning. The common room gives off a pleasant atmosphere, with people happily chatting as servers weave through the packed tables, delivering food and drink as well as taking orders for more. Mira leads your group towards the bar, where a smiling holstaur is busy handing out drinks and plates of food.
She notices Mira approaching and greets her with a broad grin. “Mira darling! Should I getcha some of that Ennsyl Red you like so much? As for you Aoi, I’ll sortcha out a glass of milk as usual. As for you…” she says, giving you an appraising look and a grin. “You must be the lad that had Tabitha in her cups all night.” She bellows with laughter and she slaps you on the shoulder “Hearing the chase ya led the girls on had me fit ta burst from laughter! And I’d wager that anyone who has the tits ta pelt a manticore in her lady parts will need a drink with some kick ta it!”
However, you immediately decline, not thrilled with the idea of showing your face. However, Mira will have none of it, even when Aoi explains the “warrior tradition” **:^)** you told her about yesterday. “Oh c’mon boy, the info I gave you wasn’t easy to find y’know and I spent all day digging that stuff up. Let’s not forget the map either, do you have any idea how hard, and expensive, it is to get those? I have no idea how they do things where you’re from, but you’re in the Monster Realm now… and here it’s rude, not to mention strange, to hide your face all the time.”
When she pauses to take a breath before continuing her tirade, you decide to just give in and order something. Since alcohol is strongly frowned upon in the Neue Wehrmacht Special Forces, you follow Aoi’s example and ask for a glass of milk. The holstaur grins and gives you a wink in response. “Good choice lad! Y’all can go take a table, yer vittles will be along momentarily.”
Mira trots over to an open table and plonks down into a seat, crossing her arms and smirking at you as you and Aoi join her. “There, that wasn’t so bad now, was it? Besides, you’d be missing out if you passed on the stuff this place serves.” Aoi frowns as she sits down to join you, wagging her finger at Mira “Mira! You shouldn’t harangue people to do things and furthermore-” Ugh, mein got. You decide to tune them out.
Fortunately, the drinks arrive rather quickly. The server carefully places them on the table, but Mira and Aoi are too busy arguing to notice. You notice that the server have some unusual features, even for a mamono. They appear to be some form of… demon(?), with a small pair of bat-like wings, a dark, spaded tail and a pair of horns curving forward on the sides of their head. Like all the other mamono you’ve seen, this one is pretty, but her face strikes you as a little androgynous.
“E-ehm, is there anything else I can get for everyone?” she timidly asks. Aoi and Mira don’t even seem to hear her and you sigh before thanking the server and telling her to return later. She leaves, and you press the latches on either side of your mask, unlocking and removing it. Placing your mask on the table, you take a sip from the tankard of milk and can’t help but lick your lips. It’s delicious but lukewarm for some reason.
You take another sip, letting the milk rest in your mouth as you savor it. It’s unlike anything back in the Vaterland: rich and smooth, with a hint of sweetness. You finally swallow the milk in your mouth with some relish, and can’t help but sigh with contentment. However, you soon notice that Aoi and Mira’s spat seems to have stopped, and look up to see that they’re both staring at your face.
Aoi just stares, wide-eyed and slightly slack-jawed, while Mira stares at you with a frown, as though she’s trying to remember something. She leans forward, propping her head on her hands while scrutinizing your face. “Golden hair and icy-blue eyes… y’know, I think I’ve heard of men like you in my travels, from the far north of the Empire. Either way, features like yours are highly sought after on the Bone Market.”
Before you even get a chance to respond, you hear the door of the inn slam open. You curiously look to see what the commotion is about, and see a dark-skinned elf swagger in, with others like her following. All the conversation in the tavern immediately stops, replaced by pensive whispers as the leader of the dark elves struts up to the holstaur’s bar.
The holstaur greets the dark elf with a neutral smile while polishing a tankard. The dark elf slaps her hand down onto the bar counter and barks her order. “Innkeeper drinks for me and my whole crew! We’ve been traveling hard and deserve to cut loose for a little while. We got a good haul this time: eleven men!” The other dark elves cheer at this, laughing and nudging each other.
The leader pauses. “Oh, and I’d appreciate any kitchen scraps you might have. We were traveling light, so we haven’t really been able to feed them.” She then claps the innkeeper on the shoulder and heads towards some tables near the door, chasing away the patrons sitting there while the holstaur carefully maintains her neutral mask and slowly turns to fill some tankards.
Wheee, slavers! **it’s almost like some kind of higher power is trying to make things difficult, isn’t it?**
So what do you want to do?
Not wishing to draw attention to yourself, you turn away from the slavers and quietly snap your mask back in place, before hunching over your drink as unobtrusively as possible. The tension exuding from Aoi and Mira is palpable as they keep a wary eye on the dark elves. Fortunately, the slavers seem to be busy celebrating, and you resolve to wait for an opportunity to escape without being detected.
As you wait, you notice the androgynous demon who served your drinks earlier nervously trying to make her way from the kitchen to the stairs, darting from one table of patrons to another. It seems that she’s trying to be inconspicuous, and you’re almost impressed by how spectacularly she’s failing. The pièce de résistance is when her tail knocks over a tankard while trying to scurry from cover.
Every eye turns to the server, and a deathly hush falls over the room. Freezing like a deer in caught in the headlights, she looks towards the group of dark elves, blood draining from her face. You hear a chair scrape against the floor behind you, and the leader of the slavers walks past with measured steps, approaching the server with a rapacious grin.
“Well~ what do we have here? I never would’ve thought there’d be an alp in this little backwater…” she turns to look at Mira, narrowing her eyes. “But you’re aware that there was a royal edict ordering that all alps be delivered to the capitol, right?” A sardonic smile slowly spreads across her face. “Ah, but what am I saying, of course, you’d know! Being the mayor and all. In fact, I bet you’ve been trying to send her there, but couldn’t arrange transport! Good thing my merry band of girls and I were passing through, now ”we” can escort her for you!”
Mira balls her hands into fists and glares at the dark elf, before reluctantly averting her eyes. “That’s right… we’re law-abiding citizens of Ennsyl after all, we just wanted her to be escorted safely.” The alp stares at Mira in shock, and Mira avoids her gaze, the shame of what she’s doing clear upon her face. The leader of the slavers nods with satisfaction and grabs the alp by the arm, dragging her to her feet.
The alp frantically looks around at her fellow villagers, but no one meets her eyes, looking away instead or simply staring into their cups. The dark elf starts leading her back, and as they near your table you see the alp look at you, a flicker or hope in her eyes. As they pass you, she drops to her knees and desperately clings to your leg. “Please, sir! I-I heard how the militia weren’t nothing to you, even though they was all trying to getcha! Help me, please!”
Scheiße. Groaning internally, you look up and see that you have the slaver’s full attention. Running her eyes across your gear, she releases the alp and slowly places her hand on the hilt of her dirk. “A man, eh? I don’t know where you got all that fancy equipment sugardick, but you should know that it’s a capital offense for men to have armor or weaponry in their possession.”
Using her free hand, the dark elf produces a pair of manacles, while giving you a cold, threatening stare. “That means you’re coming with us, cumpump. The only question is if you’re going to comply and walk out of here in one piece, or resist and have us hurt you first.” You pretend to consider her words while you take a closer look at the slavers.
The rest of the dark elves are still sitting, but they’re watching attentively and look prepared for trouble. There’s 8 of them in total if you include the leader. It would seem that they’re equipped for stealth rather than open confrontation: armed with an assortment of knives, dirks, and shortswords, except for one wielding a spear. They have light leather armor, which you note as being fairly revealing for protective gear.
You’d totally give the alp a death stare if your mask wasn’t hiding your face. Still, this situation might possibly be salvageable… but how? Your mind starts racing, and you remember a scene from a classic American movie. Add a diplomatic twist and… mein gott, it’s so crazy that it just might work! Maybe you should’ve joined the diplomatic corps instead of the military, there’s no way this can fail.
Making slow and deliberate movements in order to avoid provoking the slaver, you stand up. Although the leader is only a couple inches shorter than you, your heavier build makes you loom over her. As you stand, the dark elf slowly draws her dirk but makes no aggressive moves. Feeling the comforting weight of a ration bar in your pocket, you take a deep breath and begin.
“Negative, zis unit is a kombat-designed konstrukt vis diplomatik functions and is property of zee Deutsch military. Any perceived veaponry or armor are a part of its function. As a diplomatik unit, diplomatik immunity is expekted to be extended to it. Any hostile actions may be perceived as a deklaration of var, vis a high probability of loss for your kingdom, and vill be met vis appropriate force. Rekonsideration of your kurrent kourse of action is advised.”
The slaver stares at you blankly while she processes your words. After a moment, she glances over at her crew, before looking back to you. “What in the Lady’s name are you going on about, freecock? Is your armor making your brain overheat or something? Now stop wasting my time and put these on.” Shaking her head, she sheathes her dirk and starts moving to put the manacles on you.
W-what…? Your master plan failed? How is that even possible? And what do you even do now? As the manacles loom closer to your wrists, you can swear that you feel the ration bar in your pocket shift. It’s almost like it’s whispering to you, and everything becomes clear. Yes… yes, there’s only one logical course of action at this point.
You roar out in fury, throwing an uppercut. “Was zum Teufel hast du gerade verdammt über mich sagen, du kleine Schlampe?!” Though you take the dark elf by surprise, she dodges it by reflex, stumbling back and narrowly avoiding your blow. This does nothing to prevent the crushing hook you slam into her liver, however. She doubles over with a strangled gasp and before she can do anything, you grab her hair and slam her head into your table with a crack.
Still screaming copyschnitzel, you release the slavers hair, allowing her to fall limply to the ground. You spin around to face the rest of her squad, only to narrowly dodge a spear thrust. While the spear-wielding dark elf engages you, the others spread out in order to attack your flanks and back. At this point, the inn’s other patrons are scrambling to escape the fighting and huddle in the back, watching the fight with morbid fascination.
The spear-wielding slaver continues her relentless barrage of thrusts, forcing you to remain on the defensive, dodging or deflecting her attacks. You grab her spear in an attempt to immobilize her, but she releases it without a second thought and charges you as she draws a wicked-looking dagger.
Releasing the spear, you throw an elbow towards her face, but she ducks under it and lunges with her blade. As she ducks, however, you move closer, which causes her thrust to narrowly miss your right side. Taking the opportunity, you clamp your arm down over hers. As she struggles to escape your grasp, you hug her against you and crouch, sliding your arms further down. Then, with a massive heave, you swing her up and back with you as you fall… in a German Suplex. She slams into the floor, with your full weight behind her. Apart from some twitching, she’s completely still after that.
As you try to roll to your feet, two of the other dark elves see a chance and attack together. Thinking fast, you leap towards one, grabbing her arm and turning while pulling it over in the hopes of shoulder throwing her into her companion. The other slaver easily dodges, but the one you’re throwing gets the full brunt of the throw, slamming into the ground. She’s still conscious, though barely, and judging from experience (and the way she’s quietly gasping as tears run down her face) there’s no way she’s getting up after that.
The dark elf who dodged your throw withdraws, rejoining the circle they’ve formed around you. You’ve incapacitated three of them in the course of roughly thirty seconds, but now the rest seem far more cautious. From what you’ve seen, their reflexes and speed are superior to a human’s, and it’ll be far more difficult catching them now that they’ve stopped their foolhardy attacks.
Scheiße. You keep a wary eye on the slavers while you consider your options, as they slowly circle you at a safe distance. Using your rifle is tempting, but what if you hurt villagers in the crossfire? Then again… it looks like that’s a chance you’ll just have to take for the sake your mission. You grasp your rifle, strapped to your back, and swing it forward. Glancing at the fire selector, you notice that there’re four settings: [Saftey], [Stun laser], [Lethal laser] and [Railgun]. Hmm… maybe this decision isn’t so hard after all…
Civilians have always been a high priority in the Neue Wermacht, a big factor being the global pressure and scrutiny the Vaterland has always been under after the new order took control. That said, these dark elves are trained soldiers, attacking with the intent to harm you. Regardless of the difference in your equipment or training, they are a threat, and Neue Wermacht soldiers are instructed to prioritize their safety first, next to following orders.
Drawing a deep breath and releasing it, you feel a familiar sense of focus wash over you as you switch the selector to [Lethal laser]. The slavers freeze, seeming to detect the change in your demeanor and steel themselves for confrontation. You raise your rifle to your shoulder in a smooth, almost mechanical movement as you take aim.
[Perspective change to dark elf]
Shit, just what in Hanali’s sacred tits ”is” he?! Saying crazy shit with some weird accent before wiping out almost half our crew in the blink of an eye while screaming in his barbaric… language? I don’t even fucking know. Fucking shit, I-I’m ”scared”, aren’t I? All I wanted to do was make my family proud, earn some money and get a husband. Hanali, I swear if you let me get out of th- wait, what’s he doing now? He’s pointing something at Alysha-
[Perspective change back to Jawholanon]
Releasing your breath, you pull the trigger. There’s a whine and a slight click from the gun, and though you can’t see it project anything, the effect is immediate. A small explosion detonates, with a flicker of plasma, on the chest of the slaver you’re aiming at. It has enough force to knock her down, and she immediately begins spasming, blood leaking from her nose and ears as a small puddle of urine spreads underneath her.
Gott have mercy… old, suppressed memories come flooding back: you’ve seen this before, in the war with Russia. The Neue Wermacht had deployed many types of ground-breaking military technology, including a new type of vehicle, equipped with massive PEP guns, officially called “pulsed energy projectile” weapons. As you’d understood it, they make a target’s nerve system overload, and even non-lethal applications were unimaginably excruciating.
But as you recall, they’d been so huge that they’d had to be vehicle-mounted and needed dedicated power supplies or massive batteries to function, yet here you had one that was not only portable, but it never needed to be recharged. As impressive a feat of Deutsch engineering as that is… you just can’t feel proud, the expression of absolute agony and horror on the dark elf’s face etched into your mind’s eye.
Still, you don’t hesitate as you immediately aim at the next slaver, but you pause just as you’re about to pull the trigger. She’s dropped her weapon and begins weeping as she glances between your gun and her fallen comrade. You notice the other dark elves hesitate, before slowly following suit. The one you’re aiming at falls to her knees, tears streaming down her face as she begs. “We surrender! P-please… don’t kill me. I swear by Hanali, I’ll give up slaving and treat everyone well. Just, please… I have a little sister, please…”
Aoi steps forward from the crowd, giving you a pleading look. “[Jawholanon], I… I think they’ve had enough. I know you’re defending yourself and they’re bad people, but they’re surrendering. Just having this happen here might warrant our town being razed and besides, you’re already in enough trouble with the elves as it is, no need to get into more trouble.”