5617/P:WtWM - Risk-Takers

From Multiverse Crisis MUSH
Jump to: navigation, search
P:WtWM - Risk-Takers
Date of Scene: 28 December 2017
Location: Alberichstadt <P:WTWM>
Synopsis: Die Reisende take their first steps into the Black Queen's Castle, and encounter a surprising interrogation.
Cast of Characters: Janine Liberi, 1141, William Pauwel, August Kohler, 1040, Atalanta, 1132, Kotone Yamakawa, 999, Sanary Rondel

Janine Liberi has posed:
    The Black Queen's Castle bears not a single trace of damage from the previous battle with the Standard-Bearer. The fallen tower is restored, as is the broken window. However, there is no one guarding the place this time. The front doors of stained glass go undefended, allowing Die Reisende and their allies full access.

    The inside is, unsurprisingly, full of glass. The walls reflect and refract light, rendering the place a bizarre hall of mirrors. Seeing yourself from all angles no matter where you look is a nauseating experience, and one would be forgiven for experiencing an intense vertigo just by standing still here.

    The entrance hall that surrounds them is large and dense with doors and passageways. In the centre is a towering spiral staircase, leading up to the floors above, as well as plunging to the depths below. The castle is a veritable maze, with no signposts or obvious path to follow to reach the Queen.

    And tending to it is a hulking figure, dressed in a fine suit. He turns and regards the party, his jacket writhing in a way that does not align with his movement.

    "Hm, so you've come," the figure intones, letting out a quiet sigh. "I have just finished cleaning this place, so I would hate to bloody it immediately. Rest assured, Die Reisende; that is the only reason you are not dead where you stand." He produces a handkerchief and begins wiping his wide palms clean. "So, for now, I shall interrogate you, and you me. Perhaps you would get lucky, and trick me into spilling important information. Perhaps I shall trick you, and get you to reveal something that will be your downfall."

    He takes a seat on the spiral stairs after delicately laying out a handkerchief to sit on, and regards everyone with dark eyes. "Ask me anything. But take care; I reserve the right to ask you something in return."

Robert Speedwagon (1141) has posed:
    Admittedly, Speedwagon and his companions were rather surprised upon seeing the castle seemingly restored. And maybe a little miffed, admittedly. But then again maybe that's why that ridiculous woman had no hesitation in chopping the place up -- because she knew it was just going to somehow be repaired.

    Anyway, there don't seem to be any guards this time, so no additional battling occurs getting in this time. But all these reflections are defnitely giving at least one of his companions trouble, as Tattoo seems to get turned around quite a bit, until Speedwagon has to threaten to put a leash on him.

    But what a surprise, they come across the butler, who wants to play Truth or Dare, apparently. Truth be told, Speedwagon doesn't really know much of what's going on, so for the time being, he's going to do that very rare thing he does when the planets align with elixir field of the Andromeda universe, when he has nothing to say. He stays quiet.

William Pauwel has posed:
"Boy howdy this is a fancy place," William Pauwel, folksy gunslinger extraordinaire drawls. "Look at all those big ol' glass walls! And the mirrors! And--" Will... Walks right into one of those big mirror-walls, only to stagger back into yet another mirror. "Dangit!" Will turns and wanders into a pane of crystalline glass which is, fortunately, durable enough to tolerate being accidentally shoulder-checked by a lone gunman.

"Augh! How does anyone get anywhere in this place! This is awful! I don't even know what would happen if I tried shootin' in here!"


Oh. That there is a butler.

Will glances over at the vaguely Will's-Cheek-Shaped-Smudges on at least two of the glass panes.

Aaaand promptly attempts to make himself less noticable than everyone else in the party. This is kind of hard when everything is glass and all of it is reflecting those terrible, awkward smudges from dozens of different angles all at once.

"Uhhh howdy there partner," Will says only once it's clear that there's no ignoring this encounter. Press on through the awkwardness! It'll be fine. "Well er, I think the main thing is... How do we beat your boss? That's an okay question to ask, ain't it?"

August Kohler has posed:
August is dressed in one of his hoodies, though the hood is down. There's a mirrored bracelet on his side, a gun holstered, and his eyes avertinf rom the walls as much as they can, even as he staggers briefly getting lost by the vertigo. Once inside, though, he's reaching for his gun as he spots the butler, though the fact that he's not immediately fighting them leads to August not drawing. Turning on his radio, the redhead discusses what they should ask...

And Will ends up asking it. Approaching Will's side, August follows up. "If you give a vague answer or refuse to give one, we'll do the same when you ask. Turnabout is fair play."

Ran Itoh (1040) has posed:
    Of course Ran had been nervous when this latest mission had been formulated, because it's THE Palace. She's never been here before, and the Queen's around here somewhere, and just the /idea/ of being here is nerve-wracking... but this needs to be done. They can't wait for her to come to them. And so she's here with the others, a bag of first-aid supplies at her hip and knives in her belt and an rabbit-shaped alien dancing from foot to foot in the back of her brain. "Ah-- be careful, Will," the nurse cautions, though thankfully he's unhurt.

    The problem now is that Ran isn't any kind of super genius, and she tends to get tripped up on things sometimes, and she is /absolutely not confident/ in her ability to ask intelligent questions that don't accidentally reveal any kind of secret!!

    She'd better be quiet for now. Looking at the mirrors just makes her want to look away, so Ran focuses instead on the backs of Die Reisende.

Atalanta has posed:
     Atalanta is around. Of course she is. A whole bunch of people jumping into something that's given her some of the best fights she's had lately that isn't against another servant - that and, Will's here, so she can tell on August. Yes, she's telling him that. Treat your housepet right, Kohler.

Atalanta doesn't draw her bow - she does'nt need too to let people know its' there, the thing is nearly as large as she is. She is standing on the opposite side of Will from August, but closer to Ran then the two men, who keep getting irritated cat looks. No questions from her... probably for the best.

Kyoko Takada (1132) has posed:
    "Allies" includes, as it did once or twice before, the mercenary known as Alpha-Three-Nine. Allegedly, that's even her full name. She's arrived loaded for close-in combat, and the only way she wouldn't be tracking dirt everywhere is if the exterior had cleaned it off of her. The dirt is probably not radioactive, but she makes no promises.
    She doesn't go in first, hanging back somewhere near the rear, a position of her preference anytime she isn't explicitly scouting ahead. When she does catch sight of the butler, she proceeds to take a look across the multitude of reflections, instantly suspicious of anything that appears to be in one place in a place as intentionally confusing as this one. Maybe getting some dirt in here would be good for navigational purposes.
    She's not quite up with the subtleties of the place, but likewise has no secrets worth telling. Asking anything would be low-risk, low-gain, but she's also just not that talkative a sort in her work, so she fingers a few tools of destruction stashed around her person and leaves the questioning to another.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
The Castle looks unharmed this troubles Kotone, she isn't sure what would be awaiting them she adjusts her shades which seem to be a new thing for her. She would listen for a moment at the figure but she does not move to make any action just yet, she will hear what they have to say and she then turns to the comm as the group figures out what to do next and what to ask. This could be a boss of wits rather than something they have to fight. She does at least give them greeting.


She seems to agree with August's statement, about if they play shady with them they play the same game right back. Kotones also looking a bit beat up too like something else happened and she didn't have time for repairs/medical aid.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    The being with yellow eyes lets out a throaty chuckle at August's declaration. "You are a wily one, August Kohler. Very well, as you like." He then looks to Will, and smirks crookedly. "If you are asking if there is some 'special trick' to her, there is not. If you wish to best my Queen, it would only be through a contest of martial might. Frankly, I doubt that you have what it takes."

    He then looks around at everyone, standing silently. "Well, if you are all going to be so cautious, then I shall spend my question to draw you all in. Please, what are your names?"

August Kohler has posed:
"August Kohler, but you knew that." August responds, having sufficiently gauged how the Majordomo is going to answer. It seems like he's going to be as honest as he can, so August takes a step forward and speaks up again, that same cold voice. "What members of the Black Queen's Court block our path further to the Queen?"

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa says "Kotone Yamakawa is my name. Now for my question? Why does the Queen wish to do all this and what is her goal should she succeed in toppling the natural order of things as they are now?" So it's two questions, sure. Still it might help to get the ball rolling.

William Pauwel has posed:
"Hmph! If it's just going to be a brawl, then don't y'all go underestimatin' us just yet. We'll just have to make up for what we lack with pluck and a bit of luck!" The cowpolk crosses his arms underneath what Will hopes looks like a fierce grin. Really it's more of a cheery smile because he does admittedly kind of have a baby face. Not quite August Kohler-tier, perhaps, but still.

"That's easy enough to answer though. The name is William Pauwel Jr. Good to meet you, person whose name I don't know." There's a beat. Will frowns and tilts his head. "So uh. What's your name exactly, pardner? You asked us, so it's only right for us to ask back. 'Sides, makes banterin' a little easier iff'n we know what to call ya."

Atalanta has posed:
     "I'm Archer." Archer says, stoutly.

     She asks, quietly: "Why?" It's a bit absurd, that, Archer... won't you try to narrow that done?

Kyoko Takada (1132) has posed:
    "Alpha-39," she says, and shrugs. "That's one answer from me, and zero questions. You can wait for it." If there's any downside to giving her name, at least she won't be alone in that mess. She starts walking, coming up to a mirror and giving it a good boot-kick. There are some things she can figure out for herself.

Ran Itoh (1040) has posed:
    For the record it's really difficult to not reach over and try to pet Atalanta's ears. Fox Sister allows it, but she's also the product of Ran's best friend's mind (also, not technically real). On the other hand, the Servant might not like it!

    "...Ran Itoh," she answers, ducking her head a scant inch. "School nurse."

    What does she want to know? What does Die Reisende /need/ to know? Isn't there anything she can ask? The first thing that comes to mind is less helpful, and yet she blurts it out anyway. "How long has this place existed?"

Robert Speedwagon (1141) has posed:
    So there it is, questions are being asked. The first being names. And he offers in reply to it, "The name's Robert, E.O. Speedwagon -- the meddler." Yup. There's a bit of information there, freely offered. "With me is Tattoo--" Here he indicates the man with the wild hair and the bluish-purple tattoo of what might be either a butterfly or an inksplotch on his face. "And Kempo." Here he indicates the Asian fellow dressed in 'typical' Chinese attire.

    And if they're asking questions? Speedwagon adjusts the sledgehammer across his shoulders, draping his arms over the haft of the weapon. "So... speakin' as somebody what don't got too much of a stake in all this... what exactly's all this about?" Speedwagon asks. "What's 'er game, this Queen 'a yours? Not the recruitment speech version, the real talk version."

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Those yellow eyes bore into August, causing another crooked smile. "Clever boy. Within this castle is myself, the Standard-Bearer - who is very upset with you all-and the Blacksmith. Not to mention myriad minor Shadows. Now, my question for you-when you suicide-rush the Queen, as you no-doubt will when you fail to harm her significantly, will you die feeling crushed knowing you died for nothing, or relieved knowing your friends will soon join you?"

    He next regards Kotone and Speedwagon and says, "My Queen desires dominion over the Mirror Forest, and your world. Rule that is absolute, and unopposed. Now, my question to you first;" He points to Kotone. "How does it feel to exist in a place generated by human minds when you are no longer human yourself, abomination?" Next, he look to Speedwagon and the Ogre Street crew. "Do you fancy yourselves heroes now, with all the blood and sin on your hands?

    He looks to Will, and smirks. "Finally, one with manners. I am the Majordomo of the Black Queen's Court. I take care of the trifling matters that she should not be bothered with, like yourselves. Now, my question to you; when you 'make your own luck' against the Queen, will you abandon your friends and flee? Surviving is a type of luck, after all."

    He then looks to Atalanta and chuckles. "Because the Queen wills it," is the answer she gets it. He then points to her and says, "How can you stand to take orders from a man? Is your pride something so flimsy?"

    He smirks at A-39 and looks to Ran. "The Forest, and this Castle, has existed as long as Man has." He takes a moment to think of a question for her. "How does it feel knowing that everyone who gets close to you becomes the subject of emotional torment? You're the common denominator, after all."

William Pauwel has posed:
"Hey, hey, hey, hold on now!" Will frowns particularly severely. "Wait a second there pardner. That's just not fair."

"I asked you what yer name was, not about yer title!"


"And my answer to that question is 'nope!' Pauwels ain't cowards. I'll go down shootin' and hope everythin' works out. Now lemme ask... How did y'all come into the service of the Black Queen?"

August Kohler has posed:
August considers the Majordomo's reply. He didn't mention the Pied Piper? It makes sense with what they know about him...but it's still interesting. But before August can follow up, he needs to reply to his own question. August twitches, but ends up...smiling. "If I do it right, they won't fall. And if they do, well, I'll be dead before them. So I'll be relieved with the thought that I've died with a purpose, whether or not that purpose comes to fruition."

"Next question. You didn't mention the Pied Piper. Why is that?"

Kyoko Takada (1132) has posed:
    A-39 is checking the walls, and the floor. It's not so much a question of "can it be broken" to her as it is "what will it take to break it." She has a limited quantity of explosives, but a lot of boot and sword.
    After getting that information with minimal destruction, she stops, half-turns, and asks a question. "Right. So, who else is in here?"

Atalanta has posed:
     No one has ever seen Atalanta properly... angry. The lion-archer is rather chill overall, and her nature means she shies away from people in general. This is a first situation for everyone, including August, and the noise of anger she makes might indeed startle people, her luminious green eyes focusing on this ... butler... 'not-person'... Her lips tighten her weight shifts.

     "My pride?" She spits. "What pride do you think I have, because in a war where my wish is not for myself, there is no pride involved. Just hope. Dedication ... and faith in my go--"


     She whirls on Will absurdly fast, Tauropolos in her hand in a unerring movement, her lean, muscular frame, all tight, tail lashing behind her dangerously. She doesn't say anything... probably doesn't need too.

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    "A barrage of questions unsurprising from a being so deeply steeped in the darkness of humanity's heart. You're very good at picking out insecurities, aren't you?"

    The steps are brisk but casual, a businesslike pace that comes so naturally and brings her right to the front of the group. Blue eyes bore straight into the Majordomo's own, a gaze matched with a gaze. A gloved hand reaches up to carfully adjust glasses just so, and the softest smile touches Emily Branford's lips. "But in the same vein, I'm rather disappointed. You've depressingly little class for someone serving royalty. I had another question to ask, but if this is how you intend to play, then I'll ask this of you first:"

    The smile tugs into a faint smirk. "How does it feel to live only in misery? To be doomed by your very nature to never know anything but the worst, harshest sides of existence?"

    There is a brief pause.

    And by the by, Mr. Pauwel, I am no less than a fine and proper English butler."

Ran Itoh (1040) has posed:
    With every word from the Majordomo's mouth, Ran's lips thin just a little more. So it's like this, then. He's not probing into their plans - as if they /had/ any - instead, he's poking at the tender spots. Trying to figure them out, find weaknesses.

    He asks her a question, and Ran becomes dizzy with sudden relief.

    ((It wasn't... wasn't just like that. I had it comin'. She - she said she was done havin' a Ko- a worthless kid, so... so I left. And she didn't want me back w-when I asked her 'bout it, so...))

    She's never been so thankful that Hikaru isn't by her side right now. This would have... He might have...

    Ran opens her mouth just enough to exhale, soft and slow, before looking the Shadow right in the eyes. There's little on her face but resignation, a chronic and tired sort of grief. "Honestly? I'm sad. Even if it wasn't anything I could have prevented, or if it's something I could have stopped if I'd just known about it... It makes me sad that people have to suffer." That's why they'd agreed, after all. To do whatever they could to ease suffering, wherever they found it.

    "But now I want to know... even if we kill the Queen, what happens to this place? Does someone else just, put on the crown and start it all over?"

William Pauwel has posed:
Sorry Emily, Will is a little distracted right now! He has a catte pointing the business end of her bow right at him! That's a very good thing to be distracted by, admittedly. "W-woah! Hold your horses!" Will yelps, his hand flying to his gun, "Sorry! Sorry! I just like givin' people I like names like that sometimes! Ask Milly! And uh. Not August, 'cause his name's pretty easy. I mean, I can stop! Just, put the bow down??"

"Even if 'Atty' is a super cute nickname," he tilts his hat down and mutters mororsely. Mostly to himself. It's barely audible, in fact! But Atalanta has those ears, so...

Robert Speedwagon (1141) has posed:
    Speedwagon just grins at the question, while Tattoo grits his teeth and Kempo narrows his eyes. "I'm no bloody hero," he states immediately. "That's a title reserved for people better than me. But thank ya for confirmin' what I thought before." He shifts the sledgehammer again, so that it's over one shoulder. "Shame, really. If yer hadda given me a straight answer an' not picked the route all those pampered nobles take an' try ter ask backhanded questions, ya might've been able ta pull me over t'your side."

    There's a wry look. "One thing I will say -- I've been seen the dark side of mankind's heart; I lived in it most 'f me life. Yer 'ave ta learn t'separate the good from the bad right fast there. An' I've trained me nose ta sniff out the worst sorts." A finger pointed at the Butler (no, not Emily). "You, mate, smell worse than a cesspit! There's not an ounce 'f good in ya; whatever origins yer 'ad, you've been foul since yer came ta be!"

    Though suddenly Emily is there, and Robert's eyes go wide. "Wha...? How'd you get 'ere?!" No, he doesn't know who she is, or what's going on. But she does seem to be doing some verbal stabbing of her own, so he's not inclined to interrupt her.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
She asked her question and got an honest answer and then comes the tac nuke reply to her. She looks at them for a moment tiling her head, she has long grappled with feeling over this she does look at the shadow for a long moment. How does she reply to this? What does she admit to herself on this? It's the truth she thought of herself as a thing and not a person for the longest time. If not for the likes of Rory, Maaka and Seft? Who knows what would have happened to her and she knows it.

"You think that due to my body being something other than flesh that is no longer human? I see how do I feel??"

It's clear Kotone is shaking possibly from anger over what was said and she's attempting to control himself.

"This is a strange an alien place but it's a mirror a reflection. You forget I still have my Ghost and that means I am still human, and as such? This place is unsettling and clearly been twisted by something. Your right though I did long consider myself to be what you said..."

Sanary Rondel has posed:
That'll teach Sanary to overnap. Getting to the castle was actually relatively easy, all things considered, but getting through the mirrors has been....

     Well, it's not like her luck can get any worse. Besides, it's not like she looked too long at any of them to see if she broke them or not. Maybe they were like that to begin with! Banging into just about every mirror with herself and her axe probably wouldn't help if that really was the case, but at least she's here!

     Finally. "Erk... Hey, everyone. I miss any-" And there's a Majordomo right there. Nobody's fighting yet, but the tension is easy enough even for Sanary to see. With all those questions flying around, too, she puts two and two together, and... "... Are you a lefty or a righty?"

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Will gets a long look. "I have been in her service for about... two years now. As for you; how does it feel knowing your father placed some impossible dream over his own kin, only to lead his wife and your mother to her death?"
    The Majordomo exhales through his nose sharply, clearly impressed a little with August. "The Piper is a wildcard. He comes and goes as he pleases. Due to his unique nature, he is afforded that much leniency. Perhaps you will run into him here, perhaps not. Now, another question; If you think Shadows are such monsters, what did that make Panzercat?"

    A-39, upon investigation, would realize the amount of explosives needed to collapse just the entrance hall is 'too much.' Let alone the whole castle, it's far more than she could carry. The place doesn't even seem to conform to architecture, and yet it holds up. Finding key points would be difficult. "There is myself and the other Shadows and Court members I mentioned, and the Queen Herself. And perhaps the Piper, should he deign to be here. Now, my question; you throw in your lot with children, criminals, and bizarre spirits. Do you really trust them to be sensible?"

    He next smirks at Atalanta. The fact that he has her on-tilt is evident. "You did not finish your question, but I shall answer it anyway. Your pride is evident in every aspect of you. This place mirrors all, and I can see it as clear as day. You are a prideful lion, and no matter how much you may wish it, you can never separate that from your wish. Now, my own question; a being of your nature is bound by a certain number of seals to obey their Master's wishes. Can you trust a man with such authority over you?"

    But then, Emily butts in to ruin the fun. He scowls at her for a moment, before his face cracks into a grin in response to her question. "I /revel/ in it. I was not merely chosen for my attire to be the Queen's Majordomo. I too, share her taste for misery. Now, my question to you, fellow servant; how does it feel to know that, no matter how much you try to protect her, your master will likely die in a few scant years?"

    He next looks to Ran again, and exhales through his nose. "The Queen is a... unique specimen. I doubt you have the means to slay her, but if you did, I could not say for certain if another like her would arise. That would be up to her. But, my question to you is; do you ever wonder if your mother would be better-suited for all this? She's better than you in every way, after all."

    Looking to Speedwagon, his accusations only make the Majordomo puff up with pride. "From scum such as you, I'll take that as a compliment. But, you've not asked a question, so I shan't ask you one."

    "I do think that," the Majordomo says with a smirk in response to Kotone. "And you were right to think that way. But, that was a question, so I shall ask you one as well. Your 'Ghost' is mere code, a sequence of 0s and 1s. It is tangible, malleable, it can be copied. You tell me, what is 'human' about that?"

    The Majordomo gives Sanary a long look, before answering. "I am a 'lefty' as you call it. My question to you is; what will you do when you are late again, too late to defend others, too late to heal them?"

August Kohler has posed:
August actually laughs. It's slightly hollow, because the mere subject of what the Majordomo answered hits him in the heart...but the question itself isn't painful. "Panzercat was a monster. I have never thought or argued otherwise. He was just a monster who was...temporarily on our side." There's a twinge. "Your turn. What are your capabilities?"

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    Oh, hello, now there's an accent the butler almost feels at home with. "I walked, of course," she replies to Speedwagon, before dipping into a formal bow. "Emily Branford, butler to Janine Liberi. Rather nice to run into someone from home, even if the times are a bit skewed."

    But the Majordomo has a question just for her, and Emily's reply begins with an arched eyebrow. "I have buried fine, upstanding men. I have watched good, healthy people give away an entire bright future in a dark, dreary place. I knew what I was choosing when I chose to stand at Janine Liberi's side. Let me offer you one in return." She folds her arms behind herself. "This place, all of you. It all stems from the dark side of humanity. But that's just it. It's only one /side/ of humanity. And it needs humanity to exist, much as humanity needs /it/ to exist. If your Queen succeeds in putting the outside world under her heel, what d'you think will happen to humans as a whole? And if humanity is so changed that it can no longer be called humanity, or if it feeds on so much of its own misery that it wipes itself out... what will happen to this place? To /you/? Are you prepared to find out?"

Atalanta has posed:
     August, as he answers questions about a cat, temporarily distracts Atalanta from her seething. Her bow drops to her side, but the gaze in her eyes is still full of fire as she turns to look at the ... thing asking questions. It's just another piece of prey, Atalanta. Another boar to set your bow too, when the time is right. She stares at him, her lips thinning as she considers the question. The question has a significant weight to it. "I can't trust anyone with much authority, man or woman." She says, picking her words carefully, then adding on calmly enough, her frame sort of releasing: "But that is why he understands that I work best with asks, not orders ... it helps me learn to trust him." She then asks on quietly: "... what are the Queen's capabilities?"

Kyoko Takada (1132) has posed:
    Emily wasn't here, and now she is. A-39 shoots her a suspicious look for that, but the Shadow is answering her question. She keys her radio to subvocalize a follow-up, then responds properly.
    A-39 does not look at the Shadow Butler like it's a crazy person, as that would require she be surprised at it saying something as crazy as asking a question with that obvious an answer. She merely responds, flatly, with "No." At best, she might trust the nonsensical actions of those around her to be balanced out in aggregate, but that detail wasn't asked of her. Atalanta receives a more pointed look.
    Bringing the whole place is down is out of the question, but breaking through ahead might be possible. Unfortunately, she doesn't know which way is through the maze, and how to phrase a question that would quite get that full, complicated answer sounds hazardously like a waste of time. On the other hand, charging ahead into all the mentioned Shadows waiting around sounds reckless. She doesn't sigh out loud, but she really wants to. Might as well ask another question. "What do you get out of knowing who we are, anyway?"

Sanary Rondel has posed:
Sanary's expression darkens somewhat as she listens to the Majordomo's questions to everyone else. There's a vague feeling that she probably shouldn't be hearing any of that, and she has enough sense not to say anything about the more personal ones, especially towards Will, Emily, and Ran. She does make a point of looking around anywhere except at them, though, and it's not all that subtle.

     And then Majordomo questions the healer herself. There's a brief twitch and clenching of her teeth when the words stirke home, and then she forces an obviously strained grin. "Ain't no way that'll happen again. But I'll play along. If it did?"

     She pauses, choosing her words carefully. "... I'd get pissed off at myself for a while, then I'd get even more pissed off at you or whoever for causin' it in the first place." She's cracking a fair amount herself, but her grin suddenly broadens as she points at the butlerman dramatically. "And you? What'll you do when you fail the Queen and she eats it?"

Ran Itoh (1040) has posed:
    If she had expected any question at all, it wasn't this one. Ran goes still. Her mother... Just how much does the Majordomo know about them all? How much has he been watching? Has she ever mentioned her mother anywhere near the Forest?

    She must have. She must have, because if not...

    "My mother..." Ran begins, but the right words are hard to find. What would her mother do?

    In her mind's eye, Anna Itoh walks through the halls of the palace and the glass cracks under her feet. The walls crackle and burst from the frames, but the spraying diamond dust doesn't even touch her. The Majordomo is cut down by a glance and a dismissive flick of the wrist. Barely bothering to frown, Anna proceeds deeper into the castle, to the heart of the queendom, to murder another Empress.

    "...Yes," Ran finishes, closing her eyes. "Mama would be much, much better at this." She knows this. And she knows the sound of grief when someone else makes it, too. Gently slipping through the crowd, Ran stands behind August and rests her hand on his shoulder for a brief moment. "But she's not here. We are."

Robert Speedwagon (1141) has posed:
    Speedwagon refuses to be drawn into a rage with the Butler's insult to him. Nothing this pampered Shadow can say is anything he hasn't heard, and from better people. Which says something. "No questions from me, mate," he agrees. "You've answered any I 'ad."

    He is, however, not about to just leap into this and start smacking with a hammer. Because he's listening to the other questions everyone else has, and they may just hold an answer that will make this easier. Like as not it'll be a thing he won't be able to take advantage of, but maybe someone else can. He's used to being support.

    And also there's Emily to talk to. As much as Robert Speedwagon makes much of not being 'just a stupid thug', distraction is a really good way to prevent him from smashing things with a hammer. "Pleased ter meetcha," he offers to Emily. "Wish it'd been under better circumstances."

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa says "As for that? Being of flesh run on A, C, G, T. When you down to it, natures programming code if you will. You also presume one there's nothing of that left in me, second you presume one a copy would be the same person. You also presume it can be successfully done, it generally destroys the original in most cases. Now I ask of you, what happened to the person you were cast off from?"

She attempts to turn things back upon the Shadow rather than herself here, but it's clear she's very stressed as he keeps hitting those trauma buttons with a hammer and does so with a smile on his face more or less. She now asks something she hopes to get an answer out of him for and maybe put him a bit off balance before she crumbles..."

William Pauwel has posed:
Will stares at the Majordomo for a very long time. He frowns tilting his hat downward. "Y'all have a misunderstandin' of me, friend. Prospectin's is a dangerous business. Death's always lurkin' not so far behind. They got unlucky, ran afoul of somethin' awful. That's normal. But y'all got that one thing wrong. Ma and pa loved each other, and they loved me. If he was chasin' an impossible dream, then she was chasin' it right alongside him."

"Ain't no regrets. I wish the story took happier turns, but that's what I'm here for. 'Til I can make the impossible possible and hammer out a good and decent endin', I ain't gonna let up."

"Dreams are only dreams 'til the dreamer makes 'em reality."

And then Will turns to August.

...And promptly smacks him, gently, upside the head.

"Don't lie 'bout that. He might've been a monster, but there ain't no rule sayin' we can't have a monster as a friend."

Will shakes his head slowly, then turns his eyes back towards the Majordomo. "A long time ago, we found a fortress inhabited by ravens with a courtyard of hanged men. What do you know about this place?"

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Another smirk from the Majordomo to August. "My coat is actually made of Shadows. I send them out to do battle. But do not think me harmless once I am bare-chested. I am stronger than I look." Considering he looks like a boulder with limbs, that's saying a lot. "Another for you; how do you think Panzercat would feel knowing you thought of him like that, even after he gave your life to save his?"

    He looks to Emily and shrugs. "I honestly do not know. It has never happened. But if the Queen wills it, I obey. Now, my question; you fight from the shadows, you know them well. What would you ever do if you were ultimately victorious? Could you ever really leave it behind?"

    He looks at Atalanta, and glowers. "I am proud to say that, in my time as her servant, I have never put the Queen i a situation where she had to wield her own might, so I could not tell you. My question to you; can you really trust Mister Kohler? He is a man after all, and all his comrades could tell you of his deficiencies. Even he himself could."

    He looks annoyed by the one-word answer from A-39, but answers her question. "I think you of all people would understand 'know thy enemy.' Now, my question to you; how long do you think you can keep your work and personal life separate?"

    He looks to Sanary and shakes his head. "I only fail if I die, so there is nothing I could do in that scenario. Now... suppose that the one who hurt them was you? What then?"

    He snorts at Ran and Speedwagon and looks to Kotone. "And you assume all Shadows are borne of those who die in the Forest. Oh no, I am a Pure Shadow, born of humanity as a whole, not a single person. My question to you; how can you be sure that these self-securing opinions are your own, and not programmed into this body to keep you from falling apart at what you've become?"

    Will's question actually takes the Majordomo aback. "I know nothing of that place. The Queen forbids us from going near it, and forbids mention of it in her presence. Now, a question to you; what if, in your adventures, you meet their fate? Sealed away, unable to escape, unable to inform anyone what has happened? How would that make your grandparents, your friends feel?"

    But before anyone can answer, these is a sound like a tinkling of a bell from far within the castle. The Majordomo rises. "My Queen summons me. I must take my leave, but feel free to ruminate on those questions until we meet again. I'll be sure to leave some parts of the Castle dirty so I might kill you there and fold the cleanup in with usual upkeep. Until then."

    And with that, he starts to stride away.

August Kohler has posed:
August moves to respond. He doesn't get the chance, as the Majordomo leaves. The question is rhetorical. It's not meant to do anything but set August off. But it works. He frowns sharply, reaching for his gun, but pulls himself back and suddenly juts out to leave the castle. What does it say that he says he feels that way? Even though he knows it's a lie?

Kyoko Takada (1132) has posed:
    A-39 frowns. Was that... a trick question? Is it speaking in code? If she thinks about it, she can sort of remember the meaning of the terms, but the memories are confusing, and her mind rebels from that avenue of inquiry. She shakes her head. "Whatever." She almost sounds like a normal teenager when she says that.

Ran Itoh (1040) has posed:
    At least he seems to be uninterested in her, now that she's run out of questions to ask. If nothing else comes of today, Ran can at least count the encounter as something of a win. August storms away, and the blonde nurse turns to look after the Majordomo as he leaves. Even if this gives them an opening to delve further into the castle, they've been demoralized. They'd make bad decisions.

    She makes sure everybody else is leaving before Ran follows after them.

Robert Speedwagon (1141) has posed:
    Doubt seems to be this fellow's specialty. So Speedwagon, being the support character he is, begins supporting it the hell up in here! "I'm sure those of you that's been 'ere long enough know it, so I don't 'ave ta say it. But I will, because sometimes yer jus' need ta hear it!" he begins. "I doubt any of us is perfect. I'm cert'nly not! And I don't know if anyone's got ALL the answers. But 'e was tryin' ta plant seeds 'f doubt in your 'earts. Seeds of doubt can only grow into weeds that choke the heart! It makes yer 'esitate, and he that hestitates is lost!"

    He raises a triumphant fist. "Whatever doubts yer 'ave, what's important is to do what ya feel is right! It doesn't matter if yer body an' heart are made 'f somethin' else but flesh an' blood--" Specifically one for Kotone there, it seems. "An' nobody can survive on 'is own." Pause. "...Or HER own." Yeah, Robert remembers there are ladies here on this adventure, as weird as that seems to his Victorian sensibilities. "As long as ya CAN question, means yer can still choose. An' as long as yer can CHOOSE ta do what ya think is right -- even if it turns out ta be wrong --" Pointing in the direction the Butler disappeared in, "Then nothin' 'e says means a bloody thing!"

    He smiles broadly, putting his pointing hand back down at his side. Almost sheepishly, he notes, "...I 'ope nobody really needed that ta be said, but... there t'is if anybody needed it." Yeah, even he realizes that his peptalks and 'advice' aren't often needed. But sometimes it's the only thing he can do, so begob he's gonna do it!

    He will indeed leave when the others start off, since it seems that the Butler's not up for a fight today. But hey, there will be a next time. And after this, Speedwagon's just going to be even MORE eager to introduce the Butler's face to the business end of a sledgehammer in close quarters!

Atalanta has posed:
     Atalanta stares at the prey. Soon, thing. Soon.

     She whips around and follows after August unblinkingly though, in a unheralded show of unbelievable faith in him.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa does not get a chance oty reply, she gets a chance to think about it but not a chance to reply on this latest comment. She sees August head off as he's set off shje's also pretty set off as there's no way to know if someone did mess with her during her cyberization. SHe's in a foul mood she does notice that Ran holds off but she's on her wayu out. She may thank Ran later when she cools off a bit, Robert does get her attention as she's on her way out.

"We should go...still thank you Robert."

William Pauwel has posed:
Will's gaze follows the Majordomo as he departs. It's only once the shadow is gone that the tension bleeds away from his clenched fists and strained shoulders. He takes in a long breath, and then slowly releases it as Speedwagon does... Speedwagonny... things.

"What he said. Everything he was asking was meant to poke at our weaknesses, the things we worry 'bout. Sure, you can worry 'bout 'em. But they ain't all you are. Remember that."

"Also, remember that there're things /they're/ afraid of too. I kind've wonder iff'n he was really called off for his queen, or iff'n she heard what I'd asked about. Hmn."

Sanary Rondel has posed:
"... Hm. Fair enough, I guess. Although..." The gears are already turning in Sanary's head even as she starts and trails off, peering at Majordomo as he levels his second question at her. She braces, she waits, and then...

     She actually looks a little more relaxed, if mildly confused. "If I did it? Er... I mean, if I did it on purpose, I'd be okay with it...? Unless you mean like an accident or something. Then..." Sanary raises a hand and waggles her fingers, forcing out a bit of healing energy. Just enough for the visual of showing off a faint green light cloud, but not enough to really put a strain on her.

     "Apologize, do that, and it's all good. Maybe bring 'em a snack or somethin' later... Wouldn't be the first time that's happened." Another chuckle, although Sanary actually looks a little more uncomfortable with that. Before she can finish her thought and get on to her next question, however, Majordomo moves to leave!

     And he's going to leave some parts dirty just to save energy? "At least do your job completely!" She calls out defiantly, then leans over to mutter to Emily. "... Is that a normal thing for you butler-y types?"

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    "No butler worth her salt leaves a job half-done," Emily replies to Sanary with a faint huff.