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【MANTOU】

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Hello!

It's your local steamed bun. Nice to meet you! I go by Mantou or Mant-- whatever you want, really.

You can usually find me playing Casual, and sometimes I'll dabble in Advanced if I have the time. While I'm not the best at writing, I definitely enjoy learning as I go. It's a big reason I stick around.

As a student, I always try to find time to reply. With that said, time management can be difficult, so I don't sign up for over 4 RPs at a time. Other than fandoms (that I'm not a part of), I can generally enjoy any genre of roleplay. So far, I've played in fantasy, supernatural, slice of life, horror, and wuxia (discord) settings.

Additionally, I live in the Philippines, and so I follow the (GMT +8:00) timezone.

That should be about it for important details.

Feel free to message me if you'd like to talk or discuss RP concerns!
如果你出于某种原因需要用中文和我交谈,我们可以。但只有一点点。

Credits to owner:Mantou How-To
Bio photo credits to video creator above.

Most Recent Posts

W Y S T A N B L A C K M A N E
W Y S T A N B L A C K M A N E
W Y S T A N B L A C K M A N E

T H E W A T C H D O G ' S T R A I L
_________________
EVENING
INTERACTIONS: Princess Anastasia @princess, Prince Callum & Leo @Helo, Queen Alibeth @princess

KISOMAN GUARD ROBES




In the midst of the night, Wystan approached the warehouse with increased caution. Thanks to Clive’s thieves’ cant left along the way, the location of the warehouse was easily narrowed down to just the one before him. This could be the only time he would be grateful for the messenger’s barely readable signage, for he wouldn’t have to worry about being followed by any more tag-alongs. For the first time this evening, at least this part had been just as planned; he was alone and could feasibly carry out the second prince’s bidding.

After thoroughly scanning the perimeter, the watchdog deemed the docks as… quiet. Serene, almost. There were no signs of life around other than the lone bird overhead and a couple of rats or two. His mount, Dusk, had been safely parked in a location within the residential area a fair distance away, and so he was free to navigate as he pleased. However, in time he would soon come to regret this decision. Indeed, the docks were quiet… for all the reasons behind his worries he would soon find contained inside the seemingly lone storage unit.

As if floodgates had been opened, a line of unrecognizable individuals began to stumble out one after the other like shambling corpses. Based on their clothing and certain pieces of regalia, they seemed to be nobles or at least high-ranking officials. There were even those who looked to be from Alidasht; surely not something the visiting Sultan would be happy with. He sighed in his heart - this was a matter that unfortunately Auguste would need to get his hands dirty with once more.

Needless to say, all these people’s departure from this building meant that they did not look like a pretty sight. Some tripped over their own feet as if they weren’t theirs. Some gave it their best effort to crawl out on all fours as if their lives depended on it. Some seemed completely dazed and didn’t dare to move at all. And before any of them could notice just exactly who had been making these observations, the bodyguard had quietly slipped himself into a hiding place behind some cargo boxes. A high-pitched whistle would sound then, calling for Dusk to come.

Obscured behind the shipments, Wystan narrowed his eyes in concern as he continued to watch who all exited the warehouse. He… could not find the prince nor the princess. Clive was not present, which only meant that he had confirmed the Danroses’ presence tonight, and had already gone to inform Prince Auguste and Wulfric. Surely, this was the right container. The bodyguard’s eyes continued to dart back and forth from the beginning of the crowded line, quickly sweeping through the faces to find the ones he was looking for. They had to be here. Otherwise… had he been too late? Had something happened?

In time he would spot them. One with dark brunet hair, and another with platinum blonde. The watchdog let out a breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding until then, resting a hand on his heart as if to calm it for the second time that night. He shot out from between the cargo and swiftly made his way to find Callum and Anastasia while carefully moving aside the rest.

As he approached, he took notice of the man with the third Danrose prince hoisted nonchalantly over his shoulder. A sigh was given and not much else before the watchdog executed his retrieval plan. In a sentence or two, the bodyguard would collect the youngest prince of Caesonia and hoist him over his own shoulder. If the man would need credentials, then he would expertly flash his badge detailing his position as the Second Prince’s retainer before lifting the brunet onto Dusk. Wystan took the horse by the reigns and guided her around the crowded exit before stopping abruptly after honing in on a disgusting sight.

After a rough exchange and a bloody nose later, he took Anastasia into his arms and let the man who tried to slip her away fall to the floor. The poor fellow’s nose gushed a waterfall of crimson, bleeding all over himself as he deigned to cast an accusatory glance at Wystan, who simply looked back down at him, sparing not a single word. He rolled his neck and cracked both his gauntleted knuckles around the princess, his eyes giving a clear warning for a second approach (and probably a worse outcome) if the bloke stayed any longer, effectively convincing the man to scramble to his feet and excuse himself. With the rubbish thankfully showing itself out, he turned his attention back to the princess in concern.

”Your Highness, are you awake? Can you hear me?”

Anastasia’s eyes fluttered open slowly to the sound of a voice. For a moment or so, a thought could not proceed through her brain. Even the world around her was fuzzy as she stared forward above.. Her vision registered the stars twinkling above over time as well as the overwhelming feeling of illness. Her heart was still racing yet she was too exhausted to panic or to even move. She did not know where she was nor could she register much feeling to her skin. However, she could certainly feel awful in other ways. In fact, she felt so awful that she could only assume these were her final moments. She felt as if someone was banging her head with a bat over and over. Her stomach was so upset she felt if she had any energy she might cough up all her organs.

Then there was the strong urge to shut her eyes. Would she ever open them again if she did? Tears spilled from her eyes soundlessly. A thought crossed her mind that hurt worse than anything else she was feeling: no one would even remember her. If she hadn’t mattered in life, why would she matter in death? She supposed even that idea did not matter. Soon she would be gone. As she let her head tilt to the side, a face moved into her vision. A… beautiful one. At first, she thought it was an angel. The voice from before came into memory as the face started to take shape. Wystan. She suddenly felt a sense of comfort and … perhaps even happiness.

Maybe she was already gone.

She stared at him for a moment and then through the pain and exhaustion, she managed a weak smile. Anastasia weakly raised a hand to cup his cheek. Then darkness returned to consume her vision as her consciousness slipped back into the void. Her hand would fall limp from his cheek as she passed out once again.

”Your– Your Highness.” Wystan shook her very lightly, keeping a tight leash on his quickly increasing concern as best as he could so as to stay calm and in control. Still, there was no response. ”Your Royal Highness!" There needed to be a response. Now, he was alarmed because he needed her to stay conscious. Immediately, his hand shot up to hers to keep her palm resting on his cheek. ”Princess, stay with me.” Goosebumps spiked his skin, realizing her skin felt abnormally chilly. Nothing like the warmth he had known the princess so well for. Pressing it to his face, he tried desperately to warm the princess’ hand as he kept the rest of her steady. The circumstances were dire, and even though his heart began to race a hundred miles per minute, he could not let himself panic.

”Ana, if you can hear me... Everything will be okay.” He whispered gently to her, his thumb stroking the back of her hand slowly. Whether he knew he was speaking into the air or perhaps trying to comfort himself, nobody would know for sure. ”...Alright? You will be okay. You’re with me now, and nobody can hurt you. I will not allow it.” Some time would pass while he brought her to the cargo to lay her down to rest, carefully wrapping his cloak around her to allow her to stay warm. Dusk followed them in turn with Callum safely nestled atop her back, whinnying to get Wystan’s attention for something else that seemed to follow.

Expecting the worst, the watchdog clicked his tongue as he heard the sound of carriages drawing near. Perhaps news of there being nobles present spread fast. It would be no surprise to him that looters and mercenaries would come for such an opportunity ripe for the picking, especially when said nobles were inebriated as a result of drinking themselves to kingdom come.

However, when he turned around ready to unsheathe his weapons, the sight of the carriages in question brought him down to one knee almost several seconds after an unexpected realization.

These carriages were no mercenaries’ after all.

Adorned in yellow and blue, the Danrose banners flew viciously in the wind as the horses sped closer and closer to the warehouse’s location. The Royal family's crest grew clearer in sight, and with the regalia embossed on each knight's armor, the bodyguard had no more room left for doubt about who this could be. There was a sigh of relief in his heart. For tonight, it seemed retribution had come early.

On one bent knee, he would speak respectfully under his breath as he awaited her, while keeping the prince and princess safely by his side.

“Your Majesty.”

W Y S T A N B L A C K M A N E
W Y S T A N B L A C K M A N E
W Y S T A N B L A C K M A N E

T H E W A T C H D O G ' S T R A I L
_________________
EVENING
INTERACTIONS: Clive [Mantou's NPC Messenger]

KISOMAN GUARD ROBES



After completing his last round circling the estate, the tall figure quickly made haste to enter through the royal estate’s backside gates. He issued a careful scan around the perimeter before he pulled out a whistle and blew into it. To untrained ears, such a sound would mimic the cry of a lone black crow, flying high and scouting ahead of its flock to hunt. To a select few, however, this would be their call to summon. In less than ten seconds, a cloaked figure in a cap swiftly descended from the castle’s roofing, landing safely on the ground with a light thud.

“Clive.”

Wystan called for his messenger in an urgent yet hushed tone, his footsteps made silent by the effortless shifting of weight. Even the crunch of dried hay did nothing to threaten his effort of concealment. Across him, the other man tipped his hat in greeting, unable to hold his mischievous grin. At this specific time, the two men had made it just in time to meet right after the evening ball inside the royal estate’s private stables.

“Hoh hoh, well if it isn’t our little Woostan.” The dark-haired man in a cap cooed, placing a cigar in his mouth ready to be lit. “Ya know, think it’d been better to schedule our hot date maybe about… ten minutes earlier? We missed a whole entourage.” Clive gestured towards the heavy carriage tire marks etched into the stable grounds.

The watchdog clicked his tongue as he approached and narrowed his eyes at the capped man. A silent reminder that they would be leaving soon, and smoking while mounted was ill-advised. Clive rolled his eyes and stashed the roll away, satisfying Wystan before he bent down to feel the ground before him. Two things: Anastasia had left. Not only that– he could not find Callum in time before this meeting, meaning he had to have gone with her as well. Unfortunately, it seemed Clive was right in his assumption, and thus, they needed to formulate a new plan in consideration of the information at hand. If their information was correct, and more nobles were involved, then they needed to be as careful as possible. A situation like this meant that quite literally anything was possible-- titles be damned. The more he thought, the more his worry began to visibly grow. In complete silence, several long seconds passed as he glared concernedly at the ground.

“...”

“...”

“...”

“...”

“Are you… are you enjoying the view? Oh, no!” From behind Wystan’s shoulder, Clive’s head popped up, and as always, was determined to evaporate the last semblance of patience the bodyguard held for this evening. “How’s that floor looking? Heavy damage? D’you think she’ll she make it–”

“Are you…–”

“Am Iiii?”

“...capable of shutting up?”

“You didn’t even say hi!” Clive clicked his tongue and tossed his hands onto his hips. “Just ‘cus we saw each other this morning doesn’t mean you get to skip the ‘hi’, Woostan.”

“You could have followed them.”

“Well, sooooorry, I didn’t get that telepathic message from all the way across the royal estate.”

The bodyguard sighed in defeat.

“...And who the hell is Woostan?”

Clive burst into quiet laughter, his stomach taking the brunt of the yogic damage. The messenger needed to hold onto it as he tried to compose himself.

“Heard big daddy Edin call you that when I passed by the ballroom earlier.” He snorted. “Heh. Woostan. Cute name for their little watchpuppy.”

A heavily-gloved hand landed smack dab on the messenger’s face to shut him up.

“...The tracks are still fresh. Mount your steed, and then we ride towards the bay. We cannot lose any more time than we already have.”

“Lllla~” All of a sudden, Wystan felt his glove dampen slightly. In less than a second, he pulled it back only to grimace in response. His expression deepened into a frown as he looked at Clive, whose tongue stuck out of his face in a raspberry. Without another word, the watchdog slapped his hand onto the messenger’s back in an attempt to wipe it off. The newly-dried glove found itself balling up the back of the capped man’s shirt in no time, courtesy of a slightly peeved bodyguard.

“Get on your horse. Now, Clive.”

“Fine!” The messenger groaned quietly and hopped on a horse with blond hair. On the opposite side, Wystan mounted his own black steed, to which the dark mare quietly huffed in greeting.

“Be easy now, Dusk.” The watchdog reassured his horse in a gentle tone, communicating that all was right, except that he needed her to move quickly. A few boot taps on the back were enough to relay this message. If they were fast, perhaps they could arrive in time before anything could happen. No-- there could be no ifs. They needed to be fast. Nothing should happen before they arrive. Tonight and always, the Danroses' safety was a top priority.

“We ride. To. The residence. By the bay. Clear?” Wystan narrowed his eyes at the messenger while he repeated the mission’s instruction one last time.

At this, Clive tugged at his horse’s reigns and laughed, mimicking his friend’s frosty and uptight tone.

“Whatever you say, Woostan.





The Prince & The Watchdog
MENTIONS: Anastasia Danrose @princess, Ezra Turner @Potter, & Auguste Danrose @Inertia




While it was surely the bodyguard’s priority to keep the Danroses safe, these circumstances proved to be more difficult for him to apply his skills. As the situation soon escalated to become more of what looked like an issue to solve between the royal family, it was clear to Wystan that the function that came with his station was not required. A fact like this was quite easy to recognize, especially to someone who swore a vow never to cross the line– only to come when he was called. As such, the watchdog would of course know his place and adjust accordingly.

Wystan resigned himself to very seriously keeping an eye out for the crowds that began to surround them. Whether it was out of curiosity, malicious intent, or simply an attraction to Callum’s shenanigans, the watchdog paid attention to all sorts of mindsets and possibilities as he went on his way to shield the Danroses from being viewed like exhibits on display. His fairly considerable height and regularly-trained build were enough to deter many onlookers, causing them to cease their focus and pay their heed elsewhere. As for the more eager observers, he employed the classic raise-of-a-hand to signal his warning to keep their distance, interrupting many sheep in the process before causing them to disperse as well.

After the visitors were effectively turned away from the Danroses, Wystan would keep his attention at the ready, never allowing that sigh of relief to escape him just yet. Such a decision would prove useful even after Callum and Anastasia descend from the table, as he effortlessly spots the princess attempting to sneak away.

With Prince Wulfric, Auguste, and Callum reasonably occupied, the bodyguard quickly stepped out of the crowd to gently catch hold of the princess’ arm. After shifting himself closer to her side to manage a more comfortable grip for her sake, he fixed the princess with a stern gaze. Even still, the characteristic biting frost that accompanied his eyes could not disguise the unmistakable concern that they exuded.

“Your Royal Highness, this evening’s banquet is about to come to an end. May I ask where you are in a hurry to?”

Anastasia had stiffened, not expecting to have her arm caught. Her gaze moved over to his slowly and she smiled innocently as she said, ” Just the guest house. Wanted to check on Thea. I don’t see her here so I think she may have left early.”

“...Alright.” Wystan loosened his grip. There was assurance to be had in the fact that the guest house was not too far from the ballroom, and that he could make it there rather quickly if he took shortcuts. However, most of the insurance laid in the fact that he would be back on her trail in less than an hour. That was enough to let her go for now. “Be safe when you wade through the crowd, and take the front exit of the ballroom so that I can see you from here.”

“I will! … You stay safe too, kay?” Anastasia told him genuinely with a smile.

“As you wish, Your Highness.” The bodyguard nodded promptly, returning her smile with a small yet restrained one of his own. Aside from Prince Auguste, not many others would wish for his own safety– if any at all. It was wholly unnecessary for someone of his unit, in the end. However, if the prince and the princess thought it necessary, then he would simply do his best to comply. His safety meant he could keep watch over theirs, after all. Without another word, he proceeded to diligently keep his eyes trained on her as she then turned on her heels and continued toward the front exit as he had requested.

Being left alone returned the frosted and steel-cut exterior the watchdog was underhandedly known for. Even still, he carried himself with respect and dignity, keeping his chin leveled but not high in clear respect of his company with the Danroses. A dog such as he knew his place, and thus he would not stand to tarnish the name that took him in with willing arms - a name that he carried close to his chest, both figuratively and literally. Over his robe’s breast pocket, the brass metal of the insignia granted to him by the second prince shone brilliantly under the dimness of the ballroom lights. Overlining was the embossment of a wolf’s profile facing forward, looking stern, focused, and unyielding. In the name of loyalty and in complete honor of the royal family, this badge he carried encompassed his undying devotion to the line of high nobles he never once ever dreamed of speaking of in the past.

Soon, with most of the crowd dispersed from the food tables. An opportunity was found to place himself beside his employer– the man who granted him a home, and a new life to call his own. After giving the prince some time to gather himself and settle pleasantries with the nobles around him, Wystan finally spoke.

“Good evening, Your Royal Highness.”

“Ah~ a pleasant evening to yourself too, Wystan.” Auguste smiled, “I take it you enjoyed your leave?”

“Yes, I have.” Wystan nodded. Such was normal for the prince to lead their conversations. As of now, though, the bodyguard hoped that the prince was simply using small talk to disguise the goal of their conversation in the event of any… unsavory auditors. A thorough move, indeed. Especially with him knowing that the bodyguard would never start up pointless idle chatter during public events unless completely necessary. “It was by a stroke of luck that I managed to be back in time for this event.” And in time to witness first-hand a few certain persons of interest.

“Well done attempting to coral my siblings, not a simplistic task.”

“I did not lead much of a hand in that, but I appreciate it, Your Highness.” Wystan glanced at the prince, and then at his siblings. It was true that Auguste did his best– with Callum especially. “In any case, it was much more simple driving away the flock of sheep that came with.”

Auguste scanned the ballroom as the guests filtered out of the building. When only a few stragglers remained and were out of earshot he exhaled wearily and turned towards his dark-haired ward. “You have that look about you, dear Wystan.” He said, “Anything of import that you’ve to report?”

“A few.” Wystan lowered his voice to a reasonable pitch as he finished off his own scan of the perimeter. For now, it was safe.

“Morning report, merchant’s district, southwest of downtown. I’ve found that news of the most recent unaccounted murders is connected to a drug-smuggling ring, which ultimately leads us to unlicensed doctors engaging in medical malpractice. I’ve gathered evidence of my progress– it will be at the ready should you or Prince Wulfric need to present it at the council.” The watchdog reported in practiced eloquence. “I have plans to return to examine the thieves’ cant left behind by my informants, and also to seek further information on financial transactions and motives if any. The latter objectives are orders recently given by the crown prince.”

“Job well done as always.” Auguste’s pitch matched Wystan’s own. “The council will be unable to shoot it down this time. It appears we’re getting close to an arrest. It will be a pleasure to personally arrest those involved.

The watchdog responded with a nod. “It would be a pleasure to personally tend to those who resist your arrest.” He issued another glance at the exits, corners, and balcony area before continuing his intel report.

“Afternoon report. Strange news from my informants about a misused warehouse.” He shifted his position on the off-chance there may have been a listener nearby. “Those who were willing to divulge information leaked that the repository was used for practices considered scandalous. Heinous, even.” He frowned, before looking directly at the prince. “Your brother instructed me to follow Anastasia after this event.”

“Ah, so this warehouse has a probable connection to this… invitation-based event?” Auguste looked as if in thought, “The individuals handing out the invitations hid their presence well, but I’m certain you and I were able to trace their presence.”

“Had Wulfric not instructed you so, I would have.” His eyes were serious and sharper than usual. “Be on your guard for this event, Wystan, something's not quite right.”

“Drag both Anastasia and Callum out of this event if necessary. I will deal with their complaints later on.” The prince continued, “You, as well, exercise caution.” He knew from years of experience that Wystan was not the type to have a lax guard, but better safe than sorry. “But there is also no need for you to lay down your life.”

“Very well, my prince. I plan to ride as soon as possible.” Wystan heard everything Auguste had to say except for the very last bit. Whether it was by instinct or stubborn selectiveness, the watchdog’s devotion simply knew no bounds. If anything during this event called for such an extreme last resort, then he would deliver without another word. In this second life, nothing was too much for him if it was for the Danroses.

“Now, my last report is fairly recent,” Wystan spoke in a quieter tone this time, seemingly casting a glance to his side to browse the tables of food and those surrounding it. He stepped closer to the prince to shield his words further.

“It’s about Ezra Turner – the baker you may have met prior to the fiasco.”

“Ezra Turner?” Auguste enquired, “Hmm, go on.”

“It is regarding Anastasia, my prince. During our introductions earlier, something about him didn’t seem quite right,” Wystan stated, his eyebrows furrowed as he recalled the baker’s strange demeanor towards the princess. “While it is not rare for the princess to receive expressions of admiration, this baker seemed entirely fixated on her during our first meeting. It was to the extent that it seemed my presence was either… unwanted or wholly ignored.”

“In cases like this, your instincts tend to be accurate.” Auguste replied, “Keep an eye on this Ezra Turner. His apparent obsession with Anastasia is a worry.”

Auguste paused for a moment, waiting for any more clarification but Wystan stayed mum. “Alright, if that is all, make your preparations.” He continued, “I’ll be expecting your report tomorrow unless it is an emergency… I’ll have to go and get prepared for my meeting with mother and brother.”

Wystan nodded, then looked Auguste straight in the eye. “If there should be any trouble here at the estate, Harper has been stationed at the back gates.” The watchdog placed a hand on the prince’s shoulder. “Please send for me. I will be ready.”

“Perhaps I shall give Harper a greeting, see if she is doing well, it has been awhile since I’ve spoken to her.” Auguste said. “Trust me Wystan, should something warrant your attention I will call for you. I’m more worried about this party. I’ll say this once more, exercise due caution.”

The bodyguard simply nods in response, choosing not to say that Harper would indeed appreciate the gesture, even more so coming from Auguste himself. “Very well, Your Royal Highness. Have a safe evening– my regards to your brother and the Queen.” Wystan stepped back to give the prince his final bow for the evening before executing a swift departure.

From this point on, it seemed time was of the essence.
Female Calven, let's go

Not The Kids!

LOCATION: THE BASTION
"..."

The Protector was at a loss.

Damn it all-- in English even! Why did it have to come out from this side of the mansion? The exasperated suit of armor scratched the back of its helmet, a little bit frustrated that it made the decision to make this exit without having a halfway-decent plan about how to return to those kids. One thing was for sure - the garage door entrance they found was accessed through the underground... so, the subway was out of the question, being a good ten or fifteen kilometers into the city. It rushed here by bus, and so it really needed to take a moment to jog its memory back while it sprinted all the way around the mansion.

Once reaching a very rough above-ground estimate of where the garage heading into the wine cellar was, the Protector looked around. There were no obvious entrances into the inner workings of the underground labyrinth, but... there was a manhole.

It rushed to it, questioning if its strength would be enough to open the thing before it realized it was still in its esper form. Quickly, it held its shield over the cover, its gravitational pull lifting the manhole lid with surprising ease. Obstruction cleared, it secured its shield to its back and made its way down the ladder, hoping for the best.

It was dark, it was damp, and it was hella cramped. There was no way it would detransform, though. Not with all the muck and moisture. The esper couldn't have been more thankful for its suit of armor; clearly, its privileged upbringing didn't ever oversee its willing entrance into any city's underbelly. Yet, there it was. The things it'd do for children, after all.

So it sucked it up and just tried its damn best to move fast without slipping.



”Eat… Babies!?” Trixy raised an eyebrow. ”Is that something they accused us of before I showed up? Because that is a new one. Billy doesn’t spare monsters who can’t change their ways, and baby eating is something that would have to go!” Trixy sighed before hoisting her rocket launcher over her shoulders. ”I get why the Gems hate us. Monsters feed on our bad vibes, and some of them need to take it a bit further to survive. I mean take vampires for existence: They need human blood to survive. But they don’t need to kill the humans they feed on, and you could feed them donated blood in a pinch.” With a groan, she looked back at what was left of the wine cellar. ”Baby eating… Jez certainly never ate any babies. She was a nice girl, but she was always more Tetrad’s friend than mine. I don’t think she liked me too much. Heh, the feeling wasn’t mutual though.”

“Right,” Klava nodded. It more or less mapped with her own understanding of monsters, in they were more emotional vampires than actual cannibals, feeding off memories. Killing babies was one way to make parents sad but in terms of actual investments? It was like bankrupting a company in one sector in order to make a totally different company wealthier: you could just have both companies be wealthy instead. “Well, guess this Jez wasn’t big on baby carrots then.”

An awkward pause, followed by a swift redirect.

“Still, this actually alright in the long run? You sorta showed the way to Bastion to a buncha Freelancers who’re pretty ok with selling you out.”

”We’ll be fine. If there’s two things Billy does better than anyone else, it’s cause cave ins and build tunnels.” The corners of her lips twitched into a forced smile. ”Any monster can cause a cave in, and Bastion is nothing more than a complex cave system. The Gems would need to be suicidal to come fight us underground. Well, unless they had some way to protect themselves from cave ins as they chased us through Bastion’s long corridors. But Billy’s a little unique in that he’s really good at creating stuff too. In a few hours, he can create a brand new path if it’s not too far away from Bastion’s system.” She shrugged. ”It takes a bit longer to make it pretty, but survival is the goal right now.”

“Hmm.”

Klava could figure out a few unethical ways of dealing with perpetually subterranean enemies, but there was no great need for her to do so either. Her proverbial hat was with the Mavericks, after all, and that bit of creativity may not be so appreciated. “Well it’s good that you’ve figured things out on that front then. Must do wonders for your skin too if you can permanently dodge the sun.”

Though before any small talk could be had, they would soon realize they were not alone.

“Ah!”

A deep, metallic yelp echoed from just around the corner from where the group stood, accompanied by the heavy scampering of what sounded like a giant hunk of metal lumbering about in the darkness of the labyrinth. The creaks of metal grew closer the longer they waited. Billy and Trixy prepared their weapons before advancing toward the unfamiliar sound.

In time, they would find that the disembodied, tincanny voice would be none other than the Protector’s, who managed to haul enough ass in time to make it before they left. This presence would be made clear as a gauntleted hand gripped the wall for support, before pulling itself into view, clearly wary of its surroundings after seemingly having slipped somewhere on its way there.

”Oh, uhm… hello...”

The voice spoke with a low, gruff voice. Clearly, its vocals were more than enough to sound intimidating if it tried, but why did it sound as if it was about to start crying? Its spear and shield were secured safely to its back. It showed no signs of threat or ill-intentions as it approached the group slowly, rubbing its gauntleted hands together like a kid who’d done something wrong. Before it got too close, however, it slowly fell to the ground and mushed its head to the floor. With palms on the floor and helmet lowered in shame, it simply wanted to apologize.

”I’m really, very, truly sorry for leaving like that. I have no excuses other than… I was scared, and I didn’t want to risk anything else happening.” The Protector spoke earnestly, it's head still plastered to the ground. Its accent began to deviate from normal, almost sounding foreign. ”I’m sorry, it was so shameful of me. Please forgive me– I didn’t have enough guts.” If its esper form could cry, it would have done so right then and there. “Guts” was a word it learned just while watching a movie just the other day. Unfortunately, its mind was tired, anxious, and stressed all in one– its English vocabulary depleted itself as it spoke. Unfortunately, this was far from an appropriate moment to pull out a dictionary. Instead, it issued a silent prayer as it waited there on the floor.

”We lost one of our own over what happened back there.” Billy didn’t lower his sword, and Trixy looked like she was fighting just to keep herself from pulling the trigger.

”We saved you...” Trixy growled through her teeth.

”The hell are you even doin’ here?” Billy hugged the teenagers a bit tighter. ”Government didn’t put ya up to some shit already, did they?”

The Mavericks were right to be suspicious, but Klava was quicker on the uptake. She took a step closer to Protector, past the line of Billy’s sword. “You’re here for the kids, yeah?”

”En.” The Protector furiously shook its head when Billy suggested that it was collaborating with the GEMINI, and nodded into the ground when Klava spoke. It hadn’t moved from its prostrate position on the floor. I promised them that I’d come back for them... It raised its head to look at Klava before looking back down in guilt.

Trixy inhaled before lowering her rocket launcher. Her lips twitched. She turned to Billy, but before she could speak, the giant beat her to it.

”Wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute.” He was still holding onto his sword, but it was his outstretched finger he had pointed at Protector. ”So you’re sayin’ you came to pick up these kids here?” The teenagers remained silent, but it was clear they just wanted today to end. ”That ain’t somethin’ I can do.”

”Why not?” Trixy placed a hand on her hip. ”Not like the Bastion is the best environment for a bunch of teenagers.”

”That ain’t teenagers, they’re sorcerers: humans gifted with uncontrollable powers.” Billy squinted his eyes. ”They ain’t ever gunna have a normal life. Probably bounced from home to home before they wound up here.” He looked at the boy, who nodded before Billy continued. ”If GEMINI learns about their existence, they’re gunna get put down or experimented on in some lab. Ya already proved to me ya gunna turn coat once the chips are down. Faster than a hiccup!” He gave the kids a light shake. ”It ain’t personal, I also told these kids I wouldn’t abandon them. Which is why I can’t leave ‘em in yer hands.”

Klava looked at Protector, her expression carefully neutral. “It’s against the law to house two homeless teenagers. At worst, it’s abduction. At best, it’s aiding in delinquency. So leave it to people who are already criminals in the eyes of the law.” Her gaze turned towards Billy, a backwards glance at the monster and the children he held in his hands.

“Protector has wronged you, but they would return to you for the sake of those kids. Will you allow them to visit in the future?”

At this, the Protector raised its head from its lowered position to look at the kids.

”Mmmmm...” The giant sheathed his sword. ”If they really wanna…” His eyes rolled towards the teenagers. ”What do you guys think?”

”I don’t know!” The boy grunted. ”You’re not going to let us stay here, right?!”

”Justin fled, don’t think any of his servants stayed behind. Not to mention GEMINI is there. Wouldn’t recommend it.”

The girl placed a hand on the side of her head. ”I just want to sit down…”

”I’m gunna say it’s in the cards.” Billy looked to Klava. ”Can’t say I’d let them meet in the Bastion. Now ain’t exactly the best time to be talkin’ bout this anyway.”

”...Then, perhaps we can move somewhere else to discuss this.” The Protector rubbed the eyeholes of its helmet before it slowly rose. ”I wanted to provide them a place in my home. I have the money… so I thought I could take care of them well.” It shook its head. ”But Klava is right, and I don’t want them to stay here for long either.” The sentinel looked toward Billy and the children. ”All I can ask is that you let me know where you’ll be keeping them…”

”They’ll be stayin’ in the Bastion for a bit.” Billy took his fist and bumped it against an adjacent wall. The low, dull rumble of some machinery spurred to life. The giant continued to walk forward as a second collapse happened behind them. Concrete and rebar barred any access to the mansion. ”In a few days, I’ll get in touch with ya on Shimr. Kids need a break from this crap right now.” He stepped past Protector with Trixy following just behind him. He looked over his shoulder at Klava. ”Headin’ back to the surface?”

“Yeah, in a bit.” Klava’s lips quirked up. “But about the payment. I’m receiving the others’ share now, yeah?”

”Hah!” The only thing that made it evident Billy was smiling was that his cheeks were poking out from the top of his mask. ”Where the hell are ya hidin’ yer balls? Talkin’ like that I imagine they’re the size of texas!” He rolled his shoulders. ”Payin’ ya the wage of four espers for a botched operation is a little high. You’ll be gettin’ a good bonus though, just not that good.”

As Billy turned around to walk deeper into the Bastion, Trixy ran up beside him. ”Do I get a bonus?”

”Did you even do anythin’, Trixy?”

Their banter stopped as soon as they were out of sight.

Klava smirked. The smirk faded once the Mavericks were out of sight, and she rounded on Protector, her gaze ice-cold.

“So. Explain.”

The Protector raised its gauntlet to rub the back of its armored elbow. During that whole time, it could only manage to listen and stay quiet. ”I…” What could it say? How could it have the audacity to even try? ”...I really have no excuse. I was scared. I didn’t want to see anyone else get hurt if we stayed behind with the Mavericks, and I also didn’t want to see anything bad happen to the GEMINI…”

”I’m really sorry… I will admit, that my loyalty does not lie with either organization, but I have people I’d like to see safe on both sides. You are one of them.”

“No, not that. I meant this whole showing up to Bastion after you expressly left them for dead,” Klava replied, massaging the bridge of her nose. “Like, imagine the Fritz. Imagine busting back into GEMINI HQ after taking a deal with the monsters and leaving them to get eaten. What didja think would’ve happened, huh?”

”...” The Protector let out a sigh. ”It’s like I said– I made a promise to those kids. Gah, I didn’t even get to ask them for their names…”

”...But even then, this was a pretty dumb idea, huh? Eh heh…” The suit of armor let out a dry chuckle, and then another sigh, clearly more drained than anything else.

“A promise is something you keep, not something you kill yourself over!” Klava snapped. “And yes, that was pretty fucking stupid! You knew that I was literally there with the Mavericks. Could’ve shot me a SHIMR message or anything to confirm what the situation is, but no, you just went on by yourself to double-tap your own death!”

She flung her hands into the air.

“Like, what, did you forget the part where the Fritz also said the GEMs’d fuckin’ kill you if you consorted with monsters again? What do you think heading back into Bastion sounds like, huh? Think there wouldn’t be any footage of you skulking around and then disappearing underground? Christ alive, Aria! Don’t go and become Depraved this fast!”

”..." The Protector winced as it listened, but somehow managed to feel a little lighter in the end. It took a while, but eventually it responded. ”...Yeah, you're right, Klava. I really won't be able to help anyone if things reach that point." It lowered its head.

”I didn't think being a freelancer would be so difficult for me," The Protector said slowly. ”But I'll keep on trying my best. It was my decision to settle down like this, anyway. And, uhm…"

”Thank you for your concern. I felt like crying listening to your words. Not because I was being scolded, but because you cared enough to do so. For my safety…" A sniff resonated from the sentinel as it instinctively reached up to rub its helmet's nose.

God, Klava hated this. How can she even fucking sustain her anger when Protector’s like this? The dark-haired priestess drew in another deep breath of air, sucking up all the tension in her shoulders, before exhaling deeply.

“You don’t need to be a freelancer.” The words came out sharply. “If you don’t need the money, then you don’t need to work for it.” Her eyes bore into the holes of the giant’s helmet. “And if you don’t work for money, you don’t have any obligation to do what others think is right.”

Why be a freelancer, when you could just be free?

Klava walked past Protector briskly, the bells in her shoes clinking with every step.

“Think on it.”


Super looking forward to working with Doctor Nykannis
W Y S T A N B L A C K M A N E
W Y S T A N B L A C K M A N E
W Y S T A N B L A C K M A N E

T H E W A T C H D O G ' S A R R I V A L
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EARLY EVENING
INTERACTIONS: Princess Anastasia @princess

KISOMAN GUARD ROBES




Darting from the manicured treeline surrounding the Danrose' Royal Estate was a cloaked figure, covered in grime and leaves from his ventures earlier that day. With a dusty aroma and muddy trailing footsteps, he opted to avoid the royally-clogged front entrance of the castle altogether, rushing instead to his room located around the back. His heavy footfalls were drowned out in the chatter of the evening, while the wind zipped around him as he sprinted at full speed. It bellowed through his cloak and teased the already loosened tie that previously secured his long hair in a tight ponytail. Darkened by the shadows of the towering estate, he simply pushed to move faster. Of course, even after a long afternoon of subterfuge and scouting out the city, exerting himself a little more like this was nothing. In fact, exhaustion was a concern so diluted in his mind full of worry for the Second Prince of Caesonia, whose side he had dared to leave for most of midday light.

Finally, the man pulled himself up onto the panes of a bedroom window. With practiced familiarity, he eased the locks open and entered with a light swing. Sitting on the bed was a square box, and in front of his door, was a decorated envelope.


"𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓢𝓮𝓬𝓸𝓷𝓭 𝓟𝓻𝓲𝓷𝓬𝓮'𝓼 𝓦𝓪𝓽𝓬𝓱𝓭𝓸𝓰, 𝓦𝔂𝓼𝓽𝓪𝓷 𝓑𝓵𝓪𝓬𝓴𝓶𝓪𝓷𝓮." In eye-dizzying cursive, his name and title arrogantly gilded the back of a sealed letter slid beneath the gap of his door. A cordial invitation perhaps, but one he wouldn't need to open to understand its contents. He flicked the gaudy envelope away with careless precision. A confounding oxymoron that saw the weaponized paper whistle through the air and land perfectly on its destination. Had the desk he threw it at been a person, perhaps today would have been it's last.

The watchdog had long since turned his attention to the flat box on his bed, labeled with a certain type of penmanship he could have recognized from a mile away. Inside it was a robed compartmental suit, ordered from a vendor hailing from the faraway lands of Kisoma. The thought of which weighed rather heavily on his mind, because though he hadn't expected such a thoughtful gift, he had an idea of where he could have gone wrong. Wystan had once offhandedly expressed to the prince during an outing that he liked the pockets in this style of clothing, for it offered plenty of space to store his weapons and move around in. Little did he know that one day it would end up in his own humble possession. As someone who barely had anything to his name, oftentimes it was a pain to endure Prince Auguste's kindness and generosity. A grimace he had no time for formed on his face, begrudging as he inwardly accepted the gift into his modest inventory. He swallowed his guilty sigh, hurriedly opting to bathe and then dress for the day’s next task at hand.

The new suit felt warm. It came in layered components, each section offering a significant percentage of utility and weather resistance. Perhaps whatever the Kisomans did to their textile was a feat he could respect; along with their many pockets and securing options that Wystan contentedly took advantage of. Equipped with at least a dozen sharpened throwing knives, two stilettos, and an anelace, the watchdog was more than satisfied. Around his knuckles were thick, long strips of black cloth for padding, and finally, the attire was complete as he secured himself with an arming sword around his hip. Even when stocked like a peddling weapons merchant, all his tools were concealed excellently and declared no audible presence. After all, the ward would never be caught dead without a means to protect the second prince– or his siblings, should he so desire.

Which led him towards his next objective: fetching the princess. Perhaps this may be the hardest goal to reach tonight-– a thought Wystan didn't know whether to feel relieved about or as if he would age five more years within the span of the evening. Needless to say, Princess Anastasia was quite the troublemaker, oftentimes a handful. However, it was nothing that he couldn't handle without a little effort.

Wystan tied his hair into a neat bun before he made his way around the halls of the estate. A moment was taken to exercise caution and listen for any strange noises, before deeming it safe and placing a triad of firm knocks on Anastasia’s door. The strength of his knuckles lent itself well to ensure his survival in the ring. However, even in spite of its excellent ability to deliver resounding knocks that could have very well been heard throughout the hall– somehow, the owner of the room failed to answer. The watchdog raised his eyebrows, already aware that this was one of the probable outcomes, and did not spare a second to go unanswered.


Tok, tok, tok.

“Your Royal Highness, I'm here to fetch you for the ball. Are you ready to leave?” The watchdog could be patient, however, they were edging dangerously close to the opening of the banquet, and the last thing he wanted for Prince Auguste was to worry. He rested one arm on the doorframe as still, no response came. It was no matter. As he was put in charge of picking her up for the evening, he would not move from his spot without her. The ward loudly cleared his throat and effectively knocked thrice on the door again. It would take some persistence, but eventually, the princess would budge; Wystan knew this much after the many long years he’s been ordered to watch over her. And it was from those many long years that she would also know: the watchdog would not back down without a fight. After an allotted time of ten seconds with no answer, he spoke to the door: “Princess Anastasia, is everything alright?”
@mantou Decided to go with the big D 10% mana recoup huh? I'm more or less okay with that. But If you're going to take Aria's crush on Apollo to your character sheet, that can only trigger once for everyone her melody affected.


That sounds good to me! In that case, should I specify it like "can only trigger once per turn" ?
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