957e3 No.17526[Last 50 Posts]
As a sort of "spin-off" on the main story of Impregnator Kings, I began work on Impregnated Princess, a 'what if Edward had been born female' story.
Impregnator Kings stars Sir Edward as he fulfills his life goal to become a King and impregnate as many women as he can along the way. The story as we know took the direction of him marrying Crown Princess Tharja and becoming King of Ruhemania already.
Impregnated Princess stars Edwys, a female version of Edward who has been raised to be a perfect wife and aspires to birth many, many children with her husband, chosen for her by her father.
The story began with Princess Edwys already in Ruhemania, married to her husband Crown Prince Tharja. It continued on bbw-chan for a while but I had not yet moved it back to pregchan because I had not updated it… until now.
Here are some basic premises of Impregnated Princess, relative to Impregnator Kings:
1. The main change is Edward in this story is born female and Tharja is born male. They've had different lives and experiences but they're still on some level similar to how they are in Impregnator Kings. It's appropriate to think of this story as 'light-TG' in this case. (That is, the characters were born different genders, there is no in-story transformation.)
2. In Impregnator Kings I try to put focus on images for the females Edward interacts with. In Impregnated Princess I try to give images exclusively of Edwys herself. However, this means that I have a set 'look' for Edwys and I just use random images from anywhere, so there may be little discrepancies picture to picture.
3. Besides Edward and Tharja, other characters may have been born with their genders-switched too. Others have not. I won't say exactly who.
4. In world is overall fundamentally the same. Interpret that as you will.
5. Impregnated Princess is only updated in 'downtime' between updates on Impregnator Kings. Impregnator Kings will always be the focus. Updates may be a little less frequent, and time may be skipped more between choices.
If you're intrigued, please read on. I will give updates for the entire story as was written up until now. If you still wish to read the original thread on bbw-chan, it is over here: http://bbw-chan.net/elite/res/1245.html
I have created a link to a chat thread too. It is here: http://pregchan.com/c/res/4467.html
"Mm… wake up, my love," you hear a voice.
You turn in its direction and blink back your blurred vision at Tharja's figure.
You feel a hand stroke your soft cheek.
"I thought I'd visit you first thing this morning… we need to have a child soon, don't we?"
You certainly do.
"Mm… if you don't hurry up and get pregnant for me… it might hurt the Kingdom," says Tharja.
Yes… that's right.
You certainly couldn't forget that.
You look up at your husband's smiling face.
He's freshly shaved and his young masculine features come together in a way that sends a tingle down between your legs.
He reaches down and brings your delicate hand to his lips, kissing you softly, gentlemanly.
"May I have the honor of joining you in bed, my wife?" he asks, voice suave.
… Of course he can.
You don't need to speak.
You simply lift up the covers, exposing your sheer night clothes and undergarments.
You watch Tharja's face ignite with lust, and he starts unbuttoning his tunic.
Knowing the sight of your body can excite him like this just makes you love him all the more.
You had traveled so far for him.
You'll never forget the day your father called you, telling you that you would finally be married.
You'd spent your entire life preparing for it. Knowing the day was finally arriving almost made you faint right there.
Father began to describe your husband.
He was a rough young Prince. Fond of hunting and fighting. He barely spent anytime in his castle, instead roaming the frontiers of his country.
You were going to be terribly lonely, you realized.
Furthermore, the country had strict succession laws. You would need to give yourself to him in the presence of a holy man to verify you had your innocence.
It sounded so unromantic. Not to mention insulting. You had taken great care to maintain your maidenhead. You'd avoided all physical exertion. The times you had ridden on a horse had been side-saddle. It was, after all, something that could be shattered with strong nerves and a few fingers.
Finally, he told you that you would likely only be asked to give birth to one child, depending on if the baby was male or female.
At this, you broke into tears.
You had dreamed of having a large family. You had never thought how many kids you would 'stop' at once you were married.
You had even prepared yourself for motherhood by playing 'babysitter' for the servants who had children. It didn't matter to you that they were commoners.
Were you really to lose that dream…?
For the first time in your life, you begged your father to reconsider his plans for you.
You knew your place.
You had been carefully groomed to be a perfect wife.
Every skill you practiced was feminine.
You were taught to knit and sew.
You were taught poise and manners.
You were taught how to keep yourself beautiful and fashionable.
Your long hair reached your lower back. It required long sessions of cleaning and brushing each day. Father said it was a symbol of you femininity and fecundity. He forbid you to cut it.
–Your few aristocrat friends openly asked you how you could stand it.
You never gave them anything less than a perfect polite answer:
It's what your father wished. He knew what was best for you.
Though secretly… you knew it was to help you find a good husband, eventually. You'd endure any hardship knowing that.
…But hearing what sort of man father was choosing for you…
It broke your heart.
You could feel it tearing into pieces, right in your chest.
Father understood it too.
He did something you never expected.
If it caused you such pain, he'd break it off his plan.
You wouldn't have to go to this 'Saintheim'. You wouldn't have to marry a man with no interest in paying attention to you.
There was no disguising your relief.
You felt your heart reshaping itself, the emotions choking you up inside.
But, he said.
You would have to marry this other man. From a distant faraway land.
You'd likely never see Virilia or anything that was familiar ever again.
So be it.
You accepted, showing your father your resolve.
Hopefully, this Crown Prince Tharja would be kind.
Hopefully, he would grow to love you.
You were put on a ship the next day.
The journey was long and the boat was full of seamen. You were kept sequestered away from them in a dark cabin. the days were long, boring, and upset your fragile stomach. Even at port, you weren't allowed out. Compounding the issue, you suffered your feminine 'curse' during the voyage and had no hot water to clean yourself with or soothe your cramping.
You finally arrived in some place called 'Elbania'. The mercenaries escorting you were ugly and frightening. The food was things no civilized person should eat. Your personal items were taken from you until you begged and pleaded for your hair brush, at least. Worst still, the walking gave your feet ugly calluses.
You soon arrived at Ruhemania. Or rather, Castle Valachia.
You met with the old King, who eyed you and asked you strange questions about if you were fond of reading. You were sure any answer you'd give him would be wrong, but he seemed satisfied when you told him 'not really'. But, that good impression was soon shattered. You cried uncontrollably when you were told there would be no wedding ceremony. You were ashamed for losing your composure in front of him, and he ordered you taken away.
A maid took pity on you. She drew you a bath and fed you sweet things. She clothed you and took you to her room and helped clean and brush your hair until it was finally free of tangles. She sympathized with you being denied a wedding ceremony. In consolation, she told you about your husband.
He was a dark, dashing man, fond of study, but not dull or passive. He was his father's only child. Whatever the old King said, he would be happy if you got along with Tharja and gave him grandchildren. He was much kinder than he looked. You nodded along and tried to will your heart to believe it.
You were allowed into Tharja's wing. Wearing your whitest lace dress in the dark corridor gave you a strange feeling, and then he appeared before you.
He romantically told you it was bad luck for a man to see a woman before the ceremony, so he held a candle in front of his own face, allowing you to hide in darkness.
He set you on his bed, but didn't take you. Instead, he traced his hands over your body, saying he wanted to learn every contour you had. He discovered your wide hips, and your generous rump.
You coquettishly played along all the while, your playful gasps and coos at his hands on you soon turned genuine, and you found yourself desiring him… The touches soon turned to petting. Your lips found each other. Then his hands undressed you.
You surrendered your maidenhead. It was indeed painful, but he made it as gentle as he could. You knew, as you lost the thing you guarded most, that you were entering a new stage of your life.
Your husband gave you the best gift any man could give a woman: his seed.
You had your first orgasm.
…It wasn't a ceremony, but it would do.
He helped you disrobe fully. Your garments obscenely thrown to the floor.
You saw he was now fully erect, and you asked him how he'd prefer to take you.
In response, he wrapped his hand in yours, your fingers intertwined.
Your valley was leaking unspeakable fluids.
Your cheek blushed fiercely as he grinded his erection up and down your puffy little vulva.
"I love this sweet, cute side of you, Edwys…"
He groped at a breast, and you let out another yelp.
"You are my light, Edwys…"
He gave a strong thrust, and then he was inside you.
You rocked your hips with him, savoring the feeling of being one with him.
This made you complete.
This made you worthy of being 'woman'.
It was enough to make your tight pussy start to constrict around his hard cock.
You wrapped your legs around him, eager.
At this rate, your tight little crevasse was going to positively gush with your arousal.
He stared into your eyes, intense.
He liked to do this, it always made you twinge with the power he had over you… and how truly fortunate you were that he was so considerate.
"…You belong to me, Edwys…"
"…I am the real darkness here, you know…"
"…I'm going to corrupt you, until there isn't one ounce of goodness in your body…"
…He was just scaring you.
You knew he'd never harm you.
But, his words had the same effect regardless.
Your eyes went wide with fright, mixed with arousal.
He wasn't wrong.
Your body learned more and more the pleasure of sex with each session.
Soon you'd be a lewd woman consumed with lust.
You squeezed tighter as his strong hips pounded yours.
His thrusts were getting quicker, and his proud dick was twitching inside you.
He was going to come.
You opened your mouth, inviting his, dangling you tongue, pink and naked.
He immediately wrapped his with yours.
Pulling him deeper inside you as he came.
His seed filling every deep inch of your honeyed center.
You shut your eyes and shake happily as your own peak overtakes you.
You couldn't help but remember the oldest story of the Church, about the first man and the first woman and Temptation.
In that case, who was corrupting whom?
Your lips finally separate, and you let out a satisfied 'ah'.
He collapses on top of you, panting away, out of breath.
You raised a delicate soft hand and rubbed his back, bucking your hips and encouraging any last drops of his seed from him.
He rolled to the side, sparing you his weight.
"I can't get enough of you, Edwys."
… You can't help but smile.
Full of his seed, you feel blissfully content.
Suddenly, you sit up shock straight in bed.
Tharja turns in surprise.
You don't have time to answer him.
You lean over the side of your bed, desperately searching for your chamber pot.
There it is…!
Thankfully it's been emptied.
You pull it closer and manage to get it in front of you as fluid spills from your throat, past the lips that had been kissing your husband just a moment ago.
Of course, since it's the morning there's no morsels to speak of, at least.
You finally turn back as the urge passes, leaving the shameful vessel on the floor.
Tharja looks at you with an awe-filled expression on his face.
Looks like your secret is finally out.
"Edwys… are you already pregnant?" he asks.
You nod. You tell him you'd missed your last period.
You're sure it's that.
You were pregnant. You think you were pregnant from the first time he took you.
He lets out a loud breath, face happy.
"…Why didn't you tell me?" he asks voice tinged with confusion.
You are thoroughly corrupt.
You wanted more attention.
You didn't want to stop taking his length inside you. To stop being held by him.
You were going to pretend… until you finally had a bump.
He traces a hand along your abdomen, making you shudder.
"I could never ignore you."
He presses his lips to just above your navel.
"I love you, Edwys," he says.
… Oh …
You… you're not sure if he's just telling you what you want to hear…
–But you cry just the same…
You love him, too.
You love him so much…!
You hold on to him, your body won't let you let go.
He responds by holding you, letting you cling. A free hand running his fingers through your soft curls.
… You felt bad for hiding it.
You feel even worse when he tells you his father was breathing down his neck, going so far as to question Tharja's sexuality because you hadn't announced you were pregnant.
…You definitely wish you had told him, now.
He laughs and says it's okay.
"It'll be a secret between the three of us… I should go let him know, though. Now."
R-right. This is urgent news.
… Did he want you to come with him?
He shakes his head.
"He'll be in his tower now. The stairs are dangerous, darling. You mustn't exert yourself."
You pout a little, but he's right.
"Just rest and take it easy. I'll send a maid by to bring you something to eat."
… That would be rather nice.
Maybe you should make a request, though.
>3 votes for option one, ask him to send Daniella.
Ask for Daniella to attend to you.
You call out to Tharja, asking him to send Daniella, if he could.
You'd built up a little bit of a relationship over the past few weeks. You liked her.
Tharja… makes a little bit of a face like he's sucking on a sour lemon.
"She's probably seeing to the King's needs, Edwys, so if another maid comes, please understand."
You will, you tell him.
… You didn't really understand why, but your husband always seemed nervous about Daniella.
She probably just didn't open up to him like she did to you.
It didn't matter.
You sigh contently on your bed. You can feel your husband's semen start to dribble from your opening…
Tharja finally finishes putting on his clothes, looks back, and blows you a kiss.
"You're going to look beautiful carrying my child, Edwys."
You smile and shudder with happiness as Tharja excuses himself.
As tempting it is to just lie there and bask in the afterglow, it wouldn't do for a maid to walk in on you naked and dribbling your husband''s essence so freely.
You put on your soft slippers over your feet. It took weeks and much soaking, but finally those horrible calluses had receded, leaving them soft and dainty.
You fold your underthings in a soft linen bag for the maid. You were a lady. You wouldn't have your dirty undergarments displayed so openly.
You take the moment to admire your form in the full length mirror you'd requested.
Were you already gaining a bump…?
…no, it was just your imagination.
But your breasts were certainly sore.
It wouldn't be too long before they started to swell…
You find yourself starting to get wrapped up in further thoughts of pregnancy and motherhood.
It's about when you start thinking of what names you should choose for your baby boy that you hear the door to your quarters opening.
Even without looking, you know it's Daniella.
You speak a soft greeting to her without turning arpund.
"…Pardon me, Princess. Would you have rather I knocked?" she asks.
You still weren't tired of being called 'Princess'. It really made you feel like you were in a fairy tale.
You tell Daniella you don't mind. You're both women, after all. You'd merely become distracted.
…Still, you slip on a white robe before turning around to her. The soft fabric framing your hips.
Daniella has brought a plate of figs and some roasted nuts glazed with honey.
She removes the soiled sheet from your bed and you sit down gently on it.
You start to eat the breakfast and ask Daniella to brush your hair.
She takes up the silver-handled brush with your crest on it you brought from Virilia and she has a seat next to you, tending to your flowing locks.
She was rather skilled at this. You wonder where she got the experience. Her own hair was feminine, but not nearly your length.
"Your hair is beautiful today as well, Your Highness," she says, tone reverent.
That's why you liked Daniella.
The other maids gladly attended to you, but they were so taciturn. They never talked to you or paid you compliments like Daniella.
Maybe it was a little vain, but that went a long way for you.
If the poor old King ever passed on, you dreamed of having Daniella to yourself as a handmaiden.
Maybe you should share the news with her?
>Don't tell Daniella.
Your lips turn in a wicked little grin.
You have a secret. A perfectly romantic secret.
Keeping it from Daniella was just too devilishly satisfying.
You smile playfully and keep the news of your pregnancy to yourself.
Instead you close your eyes and just concentrate on the brushing.
"…You really should braid your hair before you sleep, Your Highness. That, or wear a hair cap when you bed down for the night," suggests Daniella.
She is right. Going to bed with loose hair just invited tangles or worse.
You explain you were rather tired last night. So you were lazy and just went to bed without bothering. You thought it too late to call a servant to help you, and it was too difficult to do it yourself.
… It's a lie. You probably could handle your own hair if you really wanted to, but, you didn't want to.
Your hair had grown at least another inch since you left Virilia. It was only a matter of time before it reached your rump, then your knees, then the floor.
…You think when your child is born you'll finally have it cut. No one will question your fertility then, and you'd rather care for your baby than your hair.
"That's not right, Princess. You should feel comfortable calling on a servant's help at any time of the day or night, for any reason."
Including her, you ask, wittily?
"… My responsibility is to the King first, but otherwise I will always assist you."
… You felt a little bad for your attempt at wit, now.
Daniella really was nice. Other than Tharja, she was the closest thing you had to a friend.
If anything, you wished she were more talkative. She would always pay you compliments and ask you about your day, but she rarely talked about herself or anyone else in the castle. The time you first arrived and she told you about your husband was a rare exception.
"Why were you up late, Your Highness…?" she asks, curiously.
…You can't say 'because you felt sick because you're pregnant.'
You tell her you don't think the sheets were set well on your bed. You had to re-do them yourself and then you were too tired to think about your hair.
"… I understand. I'll tell the maid assigned to your room to be more careful and personally do your cleaning today, Your Highness."
You try to backtrack a little, saying it's not worth anyone being punished or even scolded.
"No, you are right to tell me. Thank you, Your Highness."
… Oh well.
You say a silent prayer asking God to forgive you for lying and for whichever poor maid Daniella rebukes.
You chatter about whatever comes to mind as the time passes, your plate of food dwindling to nothing. Daniella stops brushing your hair after removing the tangles and is careful to avoid your curls.
She offers to help you into your dress, and you agree.
You wince when she ties your bodice, and you have to tell her to loosen the chest area a little, which she does.
You don your dress, tunics, embroidery, and sunhat in case you go outside.
… You're not satisfied with how you look, really.
You're a princess. You shouldn't be wearing the same dress you brought to the castle.
… You shut your eyes, willing those bad thoughts away.
Modesty was a virtue. Vanity was a vice. You were married, with child. There was no need for fancy dresses or to make yourself too beautiful and tempt other men to sin with you.
… Not that there were any other men, anyway.
At least you had your wedding ring. A pretty little band of silver on your left ring finger.
You thank Daniella, exchanging your slippers for shoes, and depart, leaving her to clean up.
You think you could do with some fresh air. You decide to visit the stables.
You weren't overly fond of animals, but it was something to do.
You'd been working with the stableman since your arrival, and one horse now was acclimated enough to you to let you pet approach and pet him.
He tells you he thinks the animal will even let you ride it now.
You decide to pass on that. You'd rather not smell like a horse.
You walk along back inside the castle.
You couldn't help but feel a bit like a bird in a cage. More-so than usual.
You wished Tharja was there for you. You wonder if he was done talking to the King…
You're only vaguely paying attention to your surroundings when a maid caught your attention.
She told you that you were wanted in the throne room.
The King wanted to talk with you, personally.
You nod, but tell the maid you don't know where that is.
She tells you she will escort you there.
You step lightly, anxiety making your heart flutter.
How should you prepare yourself to act?
The maid excuses yourself outside the portal.
You screw up all your courage, and enter.
The throne room is an active place.
There's guards holding dangerous sharp weapons at the side.
You look and see him sitting on his throne, crown on his head.
The poor old King, you'd thought of him.
He seemed cursed to never die. He was small and withered from age, but it didn't soften his mind or his strictness, which rivaled your father's.
You take small steps toward him, trying to remember your manners.
Daniella is there too, standing at his side.
She must have worked fast to already have finished your room.
Your Royal Majesty, you say.
You start to kneel, but he raises a hand and stops you.
"No need for that, Princess. In respect for your condition of carrying my grandchild, you need not kneel."
…He's too kind, you say, smiling.
"Congratulations, Your Highness," says Daniella, tone neutral.
Well, that secret didn't last very long.
You thank Daniella as well.
The old King's eyes are still on you. You think he must be focusing so much of his willpower looking at you that he's lost track of the rest of the room.
"I thought it most prudent and right that you concealed your pregnancy for as long as you did, Princess. After all, it could have been a false sign."
You… honesty hadn't thought that way at all.
You just wanted Tharja to continue to have sex with you and have a little bit of fun knowing you had a secret baby growing in your womb.
…Of course you don't need to announce your lustful feelings in front of the entire room.
You thank His Majesty, but tell him your mind is not at all clever. You merely followed your instincts.
He makes a soft sound, his eyes rolling shut for a moment.
"Maternal instincts are correct. That is why I want to reward you."
…You can't accept.
You were merely doing the duty of a loyal wife.
He shakes his head.
"You surely wish to have better accommodations, do you not? You have done me great service in living and traveling so modestly."
His eyes open again.
"This is your chance to live as comfortably as you prefer while you develop. Speak and ask of me what you want, until I will grant no more."
… You think you understand.
He was rewarding you because you hadn't expected to be rewarded.
The King's reaction right now would have been vastly different if, at the first sign of your missed period, you had run to the King announcing your pregnancy and demanding more consideration.
… Honestly, if there was one thing you could ask, it'd be for the wedding ceremony you'd never get.
But that was impossible.
It had been weeks since you arrived. You were already pregnant.
You would not be allowed to wear white anymore, you suspect.
… You decide you'll start with something innocuous.
You ask the King for a small amount of coin to donate to the Church every two weeks, so you can show your piety, as many others did.
The King nods.
"Done. You'll be given an allowance every two weeks. Speak your next request."
… More? That easily? Hm… then you should ask for some necessities.
You want softer dresses, and a tailor to help you alter them as your pregnant form matures.
The King nods.
"Done. I will have the finest tailor summoned, as well as the finest fabric. Speak your next request."
… You swallow, mouth dry. You think you're already dealing with one demand of pregnancy.
You want tart things to eat. You're having cravings. It will help you to satisfy them and eat things your baby wants you to eat.
The King nods.
"Done. I'll have a staple of fruits imported and saved for you, prepared when you please, until the seasons no longer permit it. Speak your next request."
… You begin to wonder if you can push the boundary of strict necessity.
You want jewelry. You don't feel like a Princess. If you have nice things to wear, it will help your confidence.
The King nods.
"Done. You will be permitted access to the treasury and my master of coin will freely allow you to take any valuable piece of jewelry you want to wear, at any time, no restrictions. Return them or keep them as you wish. In addition, you may wear the circlet kept here in the throne room if you like. Speak your next request."
You're feeling downright excited now…!
Once that tailor arrives, he can embroider your new dresses with any jewel you want!!
You want cosmetics! You need to keep yourself attractive for your husband. If you grow ugly, he won't have any more children with you in the future.
The King nods.
"Done. You'll be brought the finest oils, lotions, paints, rouge, and wax. Speak your next request."
You want a garden full of pretty flowers! The castle was dreary. You wanted more of an excuse to go outside, breathe the fresh air, feel the sun, and walk, even when you're heavy with your baby.
The King… nods.
"Done. A garden will be built. That is the final material request I will grant you."
…Oh. Darn it.
You suppose your imagination was running out of things to request anyway.
You calm yourself and thank the King for his generosity.
He shakes his head.
"That's the final material request I'll grant. Will you not need servants of your own? Speak and request the type of servant you want."
He expected you to ask for a 'person' now, not a 'thing'.
You can't help but glance at Daniella.
This was your chance. You could ask the King to make Daniella your handmaiden.
She was kind. She was competent. You liked her already. She could be a little more chatty, but you could live with that.
–That, and you know Tharja is wary of her and doesn't find her attractive. If Daniella is your handmaiden, you'll never have to worry about being jealous of her.
You could ask him for two handmaidens your own age.
Two servants were probably worth one Daniella. It'd be less pressure on them, too.
But… you couldn't be sure you'd like them.
What if they had bad personalities? What if they were jealous of you? Or… what if they were so cute, you were jealous of them?
You'd had a Talk with Tharja.
He was reluctant. You suppose any man would be. He only told you two things.
He didn't share a mutual loss of virginity with you on the first night you spent together. He already had experience, but he wouldn't tell you how.
He swore he had not ever fathered a bastard. You'd never have to worry about a child in the castle looking 'a little like Tharja.'
But that was 'now'. What if he became enamored with a girl…? What if you found him with her…? You were glad to discover the maids were literally old maids, and that he considered Daniella unattractive, but…
… Tharja's fidelity might be at risk if you asked for servants your age, you think.
On the other hand, what you really missed was companionship.
You had no friends. There were no other female aristocrats in the castle. You really missed having peers. Not just servants to chat at as they nodded along, but real friends closer to your standing to gossip and share tea with.
Maybe you could ask for him to bring you a female aristocrat servant. Maybe a trained midwife to help you prepare for the birth? Surely that had to require some literacy and education.
Furthermore, even if he were enamored with her, Tharja would likely hesitate before taking another aristocrat to bed. It'd be a scandal for her.
You can't think of any other type of servant you may need.
>If option one is chosen, Daniella will become Edwys' handmaiden.
>If option two is chosen, Elizabeth and Margaret will be introduced.
>If option three is chosen, Beatrice will be introduced.
>Request a female aristocrat. [Beatrice]
… You really just want a friend.
You had given up everything you knew to come here.
Your husband was dashing, the servants were considerate, and assuming the King follows through granting your requests, life is going to become much more comfortable at the castle.
…But it still won't give you a friend.
This is your only chance.
You say you believe the current servants are more than adequate to serve your day-to-day needs, but you're worried about not receiving specialized help with your pregnancy.
You request a midwife. Not a commoner to help you give birth, but someone educated and literate who will recognize possible warning signs and help you deliver a healthy, energetic baby.
The King… hesitates.
"In other words, an aristocrat."
He mulls over your request.
"In other words, someone for you to talk to."
He saw through the point of you making that request.
You freeze, caught in your selfish request by the old King.
He… he thinks you some gossipy hen eager to have another woman to cluck with.
Was that so wrong?
Did you really need to be so lonely…? And humiliated, in front of Daniella, too?
You can feel the tears welling in your eyes.
It's all you can do to force yourself to be composed.
You just want to disappear…!
"She will arrive within two weeks," he says, tone soft.
You're so surprised, you audibly gasp. Your right hand rises to your right cheek.
"As for the rest, the order for you to enter the treasury will be drawn up and processed tomorrow. You may enter it then. You may also retrieve your allowance before any service. The garden will be built starting tomorrow. The tailor will arrive within a week, along with the softer fabric. The fruit will be held in the kitchen until you request it. The cosmetics will be delivered to you as they arrive."
Hearing all of the things you requested calms your heart and makes you forget your selfish sadness.
"I will grant no more," he finishes.
You were told not to kneel, so you curtsy deeply, thanking His Majesty.
"I hope the rewards please you, Princess. You are free to leave."
You curtsy again, out of nervousness, and start to back you way to the exit, so as not to show your back to the King.
It's not until you're out in the hallway you start to let yourself become excited again.
Finally, you were to have nice things!
You can barely contain your smiling face, so you decide to return to your room before you offend anyone with your displays of emotion.
You shut the door to your room behind you, realizing sadly that foregoing a handmaiden means you'll be required to open doors for yourself more often than not.
You find the place immaculate. You look around for any corners cut in the clean-up and can't find any. Daniella really was a good servant.
You should have asked for better furniture!
You got excited when the King appeared willing to grant you anything and let the heat of the moment lead you to request that flower garden.
… Maybe you can use the flowers for decorating?
Or ask the tailor to use the fabric to make you softer sheets.
–Suddenly your thought is interrupted.
You double over, falling to your hands and knees in sudden nausea. The taste of salt in your mouth.
You find your chamber pot (now empty, at least) and ready your face in front of it just in time.
You reel back, miserable…
It seems 'morning sickness' is not, strictly speaking, limited to the morning.
>No choice yet. Update soon.
You remain on the floor for a while.
You probably could will yourself to get up, but you don't want to have to fix your clothes or your hair.
You just let time pass.
Eventually, there's a knock on the door and you tell whoever it is to come inside.
It's one of the maids.
She starts to say something, then asks if you've fallen.
No, you haven't fallen, you're feeling ill, you tell her.
She backs away, asking if you think you're sick and if she should get help?
You reach the limit of your patience.
You're not diseased, you shout, you're pregnant! Doesn't she know?!
She apologizes, confesses her ignorance, then congratulates you.
… You feel bad for yelling at her.
You had only been summoned by the King. It didn't mean the whole castle knew.
You tell the maid you're sorry but you don't think you're good company right now. Leave you be.
She says she understands… but your husband is wondering why you're not at the sitting room for lunch.
Suddenly you find the strength to stand.
You ask the maid to wipe your lips, then check yourself in the mirror.
… You throw your hat on the bed and straighten your hair a little, picking up a comb to do it. Your dress looks well enough, at least.
You tell the maid you're going right away, and to please empty the chamber pot while you're gone. She bows and says she'll do so.
–You apologize again to the poor old maid. You claim it must be your child affecting your mood as an excuse.
She accepts your apology and tells you she understands.
Yes. She must have had many children of her own in her day.
You leave through the open door.
You're not anticipating the food so much as seeing Tharja.
Your husband wants to see you! He asked for you!
It's enough to add a gay spring to your step.
You knock atthe sitting room's door and Tharja opens it for you.
He greets you warmly. You'd like to kiss him, but you dare not until you eat something to hide the taste in your mouth.
He pulls out your chair like a gentleman and you have a seat.
… You could do that all yourself, but it really was a strain.
Muscles were ugly. You avoided exerting yourself. Especially your arms.
Your strength were in your hips anyway. With this strong feminine strength, you would bear many children.
Lunch is a harmless looking garlic soup.
You ignore it to talk with Tharja.
There was never any maid who stayed with you in the sitting room, so you could talk a little freely.
"I have some regretful news, dear…" he begins.
Oh, no. What?
"The King wants to start preparing me to become his heir a little more seriously… I'm going to have less leisure time and less time I can spend with you, I'm afraid."
You pout at hearing that.
No more mornings like today…?
He gives a little grin.
"I didn't say that."
Your heart fills a little eased.
He then goes on to explain he may miss meals, not be there in the morning or at night, or even go whole days without seeing you.
He may even have to leave the castle, occasionally.
You have to be brave. A good wife understands when her husband can't be with her.
…But you can't help but feel you were right in hiding your pregnancy and letting it slip was going to mean less sex with Tharja.
A tiny part of your mind thinks he may even seek it out from somewhere else.
That's his right, you tell yourself.
Hopefully you'd never see it.
You know you won't understand any of the responsibilities Tharja now has, so you don't ask.
You talk instead about how the King summoned you. To reward you.
"Truly? I suppose that is like father."
Mm. You noticed.
When Tharja was thinking about the King in a positive way, he said 'father' to refer to him.
When Tharja was thinking about the King in a way that was distasteful or had some obligation, he said 'the King'.
He must have two dueling ideas of his father in his mind.
"What did you ask for?" he asks.
Dresses. Jewelry. Make-up.
…You apologize for being a vain, shallow woman.
He laughs, and holds your hand.
"I'm sure he expected that… and I'm sure you'll look lovely in them."
You blush and thank him for the compliment.
You also mention the flower garden.
"Oh, a fertile, healthy patch of flowers for a fertile, happy girl?" he teases.
You can't wait to go walking there, you tell him.
He nods, and promises he'll walk with you sometime.
It makes you happy to her that. Though you did sort of force that promise from him.
He points out you're not eating your soup. You tell him you know, you're just… waiting for it to cool. Your tongue is sensitive.
It's not a very good lie, but he doesn't press you.
You finally pick up your spoon and eat.
To your surprise, you find it does actually taste a little different…
You don't think it was cooked differently. Maybe your lie wasn't such a lie.
You force yourself to eat.
Tharja finishes his own food, then says he must go.
"Since I won't have as much time to meet you… please, feel free to enter my wing any time, dear. If you want to go to my library, you can even do that."
Tharja had his own wing of the castle.
He didn't really keep anyone out, that you saw, but people just didn't seem to visit.
Even Daniella didn't go there.
That was fine for you both. It meant you could make love in privacy.
But, he also had a library.
He'd shown it to you once, just to show you, but you aren't much of a reader so you didn't give much thought to it.
If he was telling you that you could go there, it meant he was all right with you possibly seeing if he was in his room and didn't mind your companionship.
…Or that life was about to get so boring you might as well take up reading as a hobby.
You suppose there's no law that says you have to actually read the books there. You could take them to your room, or even outside.
Reading in the sun among the flowers in your garden sounds suddenly romantic.
He gives your hand a kiss, rubs your belly a little, then turns away to leave.
It only occurs to you after he goes that you didn't mention your new 'friend' the midwife.
You finish lunch, then get tired of walking the corridor. You return to your room to prepare yourself for the night.
You have a maid help braid your hair and ask her to wake you in the morning. She helps you out of your dress and into your night clothes as well.
You stand in front of the mirror and try pushing your belly out.
Still no bump. Maybe soon?
You wonder if the midwife will arrive before your tiny little boy makes himself plain to see.
Of course, you're having a son.
A woman just knows, you remember a tutor telling you.
…And if you 'knew' wrong, never, ever, admit it.
You giggle to yourself, then excuse the maid helping you.
She shuts the door behind her, and you climb into bed, pulling the canopy around you as the light from the approaching sunset streams in.
Daniella really did fold the sheets well.
She's a nice girl. She should be married.
She could teach her children to be good servants so you wouldn't have to worry about the needs of your own children.
Maybe you should tell her that next time you see her…
Thankfully your stomach gives you a break and you eventually sleep.
>Sneak to see Tharja.
… You want your husband.
You put on your robe and slippers.
You pick up the candle and creep to the door.
If you're fast, maybe you can see him and steal back to your room before the castle starts getting more active.
And if not… well… it was no crime to get attention from your husband.
You pull open the door, putting your hips into it to get it open with one hand, and sneak into the corridor.
You really don't know the castle well enough yet.
But, you manage to find your way to Tharja's wing.
You creep down the dark corridor to the passageway.
The library is to your right.
You go straight ahead.
You hope you won't cause him undue stress from entering like this.
He did give you permission to enter. It was his fault if it became a problem.
You push open the door to Tharja's room with a creak.
It's dark, the candle really doesn't afford you much light.
But, you see him.
There's no window in this room. His bed lacks a canopy.
You see him sleeping peacefully. You hear his gentle breathing.
He looks so handsome…
You see there is one part of him that is definitely not asleep!
His manhood is erect, creating a very pleasant tent in the sheets.
You step a little closer, letting the door swing shut behind you.
You set the candle down on his desk so that you won't possibly drip wax on him.
You almost want to pet it hello.
You start to reach out your hand to do just that, when Tharja's eyes open.
It happens so suddenly you can't help but gasp.
He heard you come in pretended to still be asleep!
You see him grin in the candlelight.
"Mm… like what you see, Edwys?" he asks.
…Yes, you say, tone demure.
You snuck into here, but being caught so red-handedly admiring your husband's stalk makes you blush.
He thrusts his hips a little, making himself twitch.
"Have you heard of this? Men get this way in the morning… it's called 'morning wood'."
…No, you hadn't heard that.
You're a little surprised to hear there's a name for it, that, and that it's so innocuous of one.
'Morning wood', you repeat.
"…will you satisfy me, my wife?"
You nod, vigorously.
He closes his eyes, grin plastered on his face.
"Use your mouth," he says.
… Use your… mouth?
You don't want that.
You wanted to feel him inside you, between your thighs and thrusting his hips.
You're not going to feel any pleasure just using your mouth.
Besides that, it definitely goes against what you were taught.
The Church says only sex with your husband to take his seed and make babies is permissible. Of course, your husband wasn't some chaste Saint and it was expected you would fulfill his needs, but some weird sex act that couldn't produce children was definitely a sin.
… Not to mention the training you'd received as a maiden taught you that you should never do that sort of thing with your husband, even once.
He'd like it, then he'd want you to do it again. And again. And again. Then, after you gave birth, he wouldn't properly come inside you when you were ready to bear your second child with him.
You definitely didn't want to risk that.
You watch his tented member bob again.
He hadn't asked you. He'd commanded you. Being obedient to your husband was certainly correct.
But, you wanted pleasure, too…!
You pout, but his eyes are shut. Looking forlorn and hoping he changes his mind isn't going to do it.
In that case…
>Raise your voice and ask to have proper sex with him instead, please.
It's… really a very hard thing to do.
You're about to disobey your husband. That's not right.
…But, it's in pursuit of a greater, more important propriety.
The kind that will let you be a good mother and encourage him to sire your future children when your womb is again empty.
That thought allows you to summon up the strength to speak.
You cough lightly.
You raise your voice and tell him… you won't do that.
His eyes flutter open.
"What–?" he asks, half-asleep still.
You tell him you want to be held and penetrated by him… please.
You want to say something about how that's the only proper thing to do, and that you really want to feel his arms around you and be close to him… but, the words just won't come.
Your heart already aches from saying this much.
Not just that you're refusing him, but that you even need to refuse him.
The situation itself is wrong.
"Edwys, I had a really long day yesterday… I'm tired…" he starts to say, letting the words hang there.
The emotions are too much.
It's not right…!
He shouldn't be asking this sort of thing from you!
You're his wife–!
This mouth… someday, you'll kiss your children with this mouth…
… He stirs further, attention on you, closer to being fully awake.
You're not yelling, your voice never rises above a hushed whisper.
–But you can't help the intensity of your tone.
Please. Don't ask you to do something so… wrong.
You want to be taken as a man takes his wife.
…You don't say that last part out loud.
It'd be an insult to him and yourself if you did.
Of course you had dignity. Sex with your husband was dignified. Him asking you to use your mouth hadn't been meant to rob you of any dignity.
…But, being your husband's sexual partner was far from your only role. Focusing too much on that may distract you from the others.
You had to remember that, always.
He sits up, lifting his sheets.
–Ah. He's not wearing night-clothes.
"Come closer, Edwys," he says, beckoning you.
… You nod, and step closer.
His hands reach out and start to undress you.
Fingers find the ties of your robe and let them loose.
You let it fall to the floor behind you, and he drinks in the sight of your nearly naked body.
Just being watched like this is enough to start to make your ladybits tingle.
"Will you do the rest for me, Edwys?"
You bare your breasts and expose your slit to the air for him, stepping out your feet from your slippers and fallen panties.
Tharja takes your arm and guides you to bed.
"I understand… I won't ask you to do something like that, ever again," he says.
… You murmur a grateful 'thank you'.
Despite being right, you feel a little guilty for being selfish enough to deny him to his face.
But… you shouldn't regret it.
Starting down that path was too much.
Tharja talked of 'corrupting' you… but you don't want that sort of corruption.
You're a good woman. You're a good wife. You'll be a good mother.
The old King will be satisfied. Tharja will be satisfied. You will be satisfied.
Your eyes fall to the outline of his lean, toned body and catch sight of his hard manhood, previously tented.
You can't help but smile.
You will be satisfied!
You roll onto your back on the bed.
He's thrown the covers off.
If anyone entered the room, they'd see you easily.
…But, no one will.
You're modest, but you don't need to be that modest.
He raises a hand to your cheek and strokes your flesh tenderly.
You close your eyes, letting him touch you.
His touch is soft, like he was appraising an apple's freshness before consuming it.
You feel the mattress move underneath you both as he shifts his weight.
Then, his lips are on yours.
He groans into you, licking your lips with his tongue.
You oblige him the kiss, parting your lips.
You barely have to open them at all before his tongue is inside your mouth.
Thrusting, licking, and coiling all over like an invader.
You can't help but arch your back.
You hold your breath as you raise your tongue up to meet his. Offering it to him.
He enthusiastically 'pounces' on it, wrapping around you until you can't help but let out a little muffled moan.
As quickly as it started, it's over.
Tharja separates, gasping for air, and you join him.
…But only for a moment.
His lips are soon on yours again.
He's showing you such passion…
You really were a selfish woman.
Sometimes you wished Tharja was a little stronger, a little taller, a little more muscular. He wasn't skinny, but his physique was subtle. The guards easily dwarfed him with their trained bodies and large figures.
…Of course, you never permitted yourself to fantasize about another man. That would be a disgusting sin of adultery in spirit.
But, there were times you wished his arms were a little stronger and his chest was a little thicker.
Now was not one of those times.
Submitting yourself to the strong muscle of his tongue was more than enough to drown those thoughts and chase them from your mind.
You're… definitely lubricating yourself for him, now.
… Unfortunately, pain suddenly intrudes on the moment.
… Tharja put his hands on your breasts and started kneading.
Before you knew what what happening you cried out in pain.
You whimper a bit as the jolt passes through your body.
Tharja's broken off your kiss, face concerned.
"Are you all right?" he asks.
Yes, but your breasts are sore.
They're sore… because they'll soon be filled with milk for your baby.
He gently reaches and strokes the underside of your left breast with one finger, flicking it up to the aerolae and your erect nipple.
Even that's too much!
He retracts it, grinning.
You fix him with a stare and pout, relentlessly.
He finally apologizes, and swears he'll be gentle.
He should be.
It's your baby's precious milk after all.
… This likely means he won't be able to hug you strongly anytime soon.
He mistakes your forlorn expression at that thought for further anguish and tries petting your midsection instead.
… That's a good substitute.
You gladly submit to the petting.
He traces his hands around your stomach in a circle, settling around your belly button.
That's his child's home.
That's where he'll spend the next eight or nine months.
He traces lower still.
His hands spill over your pubic hair into your slick center.
His fingers freely poke at your orifice. You can't help but quiver.
He brings his fingers to his mouth.
You can see they're stained with your aroused fluids.
You turn your head away.
You don't want to watch him lick his fingers.
He's done it before, and you tried to tell him that's… too obscene.
It's meant to guide his manhood.
But he laughed and denied actually tasting it. Saying he only acted as if to do it.
…You're not sure if he lied.
He laughs now too at seeing you fret, and says he was just making sure you were ready, again denying putting it to his mouth.
"How would you like it, Edwys?" he asks.
You want to be mounted.
You want to feel his hips between your thighs and grip your legs around his waist.
He gives you a hungry little smile.
"Well then…" he starts, prompting you.
He needn't say anything more.
You gladly spread your legs, feet flat against the mattress.
Tharja draws up and climbs on top of you, arms on both sides of you. You feel him settle into position, his upper body on yours.
You realize, with some sadness, you won't be able to have sex in this position much more soon.
Your belly will swell and prevent him from properly mounting you like this. You soon won't be able to know the feel of being under him.
But, it's a small price to pay for the sake of your children.
His manhood is between your legs.
It's probing along your lower lips in search of your opening.
You arch your back and bend your knees, trying to angle yourself to make it easier for him.
He grunts, and finds his mark.
You're being penetrated.
You can't hide your happiness.
He settles down on top of you, letting gravity pull himself inside you.
You shift with him, turning your hips from jutting outward to meet him to reclining back to envelope him.
Your vaginal muscles coax him further inside you.
His… penis… feels… so… good!
His pelvis meets yours as he reaches the full length of his manhood inside you.
The stroke stirring your womanhood and making you shudder.
You reach to wrap your arms around him. You can't pull him too close but…
You need to brace yourself with him to get your legs up.
You learned from sex with your husband that the actual act of getting your legs wrapped around his waist is rather difficult.
You couldn't shift your hips because he's penetrated you with his stalk like a flower with a pin.
You reach out with your legs and wrap for all you're worth.
You get your ankles crossed behind him. Nestled firmly on his rump.
You're so proud of yourself you almost don't realize Tharja's been patiently waiting for you to get settled.
You blink up at his face and see a wicked twinkle in his eye.
He starts thrusting his hips.
Of course, with you wrapped around him, he doesn't have much choice but to drag you along for the ride.
Your entire body ripples with the force of his slow movements.
Though the thrusts don't remain slow for long.
You struggle on keeping your legs wrapped tight as you savor the feeling of sex with your husband.
The rhythmic meeting of your crotches and the accompanying sounds of your folds squelching around his member.
The symphony of little moans, grunts, and gasps you share.
The feeling of being filled… of knowing you're whole… of fulfilling your role.
You were sheath to his sword.
His other half.
Mother to his future children.
You were born for this…!
…Your brain must have sent your happy thoughts to your love-canal.
Tharja suddenly lets out a moan that you suddenly feel tighter.
You're trying desperately to keep your legs bound, but you understand…
Tighter is better for him. You can't be a virgin for him anymore… but you can try to pleasure him with your body and mind.
You try to conjure up those happy feelings and focus on them as his thrusts get even more erratic and frenzied.
You think this would normally be the time he starts whispering arousing nothings to you…
…but he doesn't have the wits for that.
You've caught him off-guard in the early morning, after-all.
His body starts to twitch.
He's about to come, you realize.
You try to push your mind back to a time you hadn't realized you were pregnant.
When every ejaculation you took had the potential to fertilize you.
Oh, you loved those days!
You let your mind retreat to that happy place as your body starts moving on it's own.
Your legs exhaust themselves tightening around his waist. Your hands grope at his back.
…Yor pussy positively throbs with pleasure.
Constricting hard as you pass your peak and coo with the excitement of your orgasm.
Your back and chin arch desperately as Tharja hilts himself inside you and stops moving.
He's coming inside you.
His virile seed spilling forth into your wet, pulsating crevasse.
You'd give anything to know it could take root a second time, make it so you were carrying twins.
You wouldn't stop your sex with him then, even if you became swollen with a hundred babies.
The thought is enough to make you shudder even more as you surrender to the ecstasy.
Tharja remembers your chest is sore and sinks in a way to avoid putting pressure on it.
…You reluctantly let your legs fall apart.
Your legs feel so sore…
You don't doubt you'll be walking bowlegged all day.
The castle will be full of the rumors of the rutting you shared with Tharja. And when you're already known to be pregnant, at that.
"Ah… that was… worth waking up early for, my Edwys…" you hear him say.
… Let them talk, you think to yourself.
You tell Tharja hearing that makes you so happy…
You thank him profusely for his seed.
You always want to encourage him to sow it properly inside you.
You must thank him
You feel his hand trace along your face.
It's not the hand he touched your opening with.
You can tell by the masculine scent.
You shut your eyes and let him touch.
…He suddenly stops, then rolls to the side, off of you.
You open your head and turn your head to watch him.
He's letting himself fall back asleep.
You're sad, but you can't let yourself fall asleep with him.
He has his own responsibilities during the day. He's the prince and his heir is on the way.
You should feel thankful he made time for you, indulged your desire, and gave you pleasure.
Better still he thought you very pleasurable. He'd be likely to do it again.
You smile at that thought and gently roll to the side of the bed.
You move to put your underthings, robe, and slippers back on.
You… gingerly try to position yourself to hold as much of his seed as possible.
You don't want to wipe it out.
But neither can you drip it down the halls in a trail back to your room.
Hopefully it won't get farther than your thighs.
You start to stand yourself up… and nearly topple.
Your legs really are feeling sore. You'll have no choice but to walk with a wider gait.
You… discreetly move an arm up your sleeve, leaving it empty.
You move to hold your hand over your crevasse, clothed by a moistening stretch of fabric.
… You'll have to move while holding it inside you.
You start to shuffle toward the door and, as quietly as you can, let yourself out.
There's an old man in the treasury.
You vaguely remember him.
You think he was there when the mercenaries brought you to the castle gates.
But, there was some sort of disagreement about the coin and you were so scared out of your wits you ran into the castle until you were out of breath.
…Thankfully a maid gave you your things back from them later.
At any rate, he recognizes you.
He gives you a pleasant greeting and asks what he can do for you.
…He's the treasurer, right?
"Yes, Your Highness, I'm the master of coin."
You don't see any jewels.
You tell him the King said you could pick out some jewelry.
He nods, and directs you to a door to a back room.
…You're a little nervous at the thought of being alone with an older man.
You tell him you want the jewelry brought to you.
"Your Highness, the room is full of it. More than my brittle bones can carry."
Hearing him describe himself as feeble helps your courage, as does hearing the room is full of jewels for you to peruse.
…You glance at his left hand. You don't see a wedding ring.
Being alone with an old bachelor feels distasteful. Even if he is no threat to you.
He seems to have picked up on your reluctance.
"Your Highness, I swear. I am a simple servant of the Crown. No more, no less. You have nothing to fear from me."
… You suppose he means to say if he at all made to lay his hands on you, the King and Tharja would roast him alive.
You still hesitate.
Being alone in private with another man… it's just not done.
With the mercenaries you were in the wilderness away from civilization, but you have no excuse here.
"How about this, Your Highness? Go fetch a guard and tell him Ricardo needs his presence in the treasury. He will follow you. Then, you won't be alone. Is that acceptable?"
… You suppose it sounds so.
He nods back, and says he will arrange the back room a little more so you can select what you want and leave, quickly.
He rises from his chair, bows, and goes into the back room.
Once he's gone, you start to reconsider.
A soldier would be another man. You doubt you'll find a woman soldier. Wasn't that just as bad as being alone with one man?
Maybe you should bring a maid with you instead.
Daniella. She would be perfect, if you could find her.
Then again, maybe you are being silly.
It was by the King's order you were allowed down here. That must mean he trusted this old man to be alone with you.
Maybe telling someone about it would just draw more attention to it.
You'd really like to find Tharja to escort you, but you doubt you'd find him no matter how hard you looked, so you rule that out.
>Find Daniella to accompany you.
You decide to go searching for Daniella.
She'll understand. She'll surely help you.
You climb up the stairs to the treasury and look around.
A noblewoman does not run, but you do step a little quicker in the direction of the servants' quarters.
You find a maid who tells you where Daniella is.
You find her wiping a table in one of the sitting rooms.
She stops what she's doing and curtsys.
"Do you require something, Your Highness?"
You explain your situation to Daniella.
She heard the King give his promise to allow you in the treasury.
She's happy to assist you.
She puts her rag in her apron and invites you to follow her.
You feel better already.
There's a spring in your step as you return to the treasury.
Yes, you were a good wife. A proper wife who wouldn't allow herself to be alone with a man who wasn't a family member or her husband.
You deserved good things for being so dutiful.
That was why you were getting jewelry to wear.
Thoughts like that occupy you as you proceed back down the treasury steps, following Daniella.
You reach the bottom of the stairs.
The old man isn't here. He must still be in the back.
Daniella says she will knock on that door, and does so.
You watch the old man pull the door open.
You then witness a peculiar sight.
As the old man recognizes that he's facing Daniella, a maid, and not a guard, his face twists in… some sort of negative emotion.
It's not quite 'anger', but you're not sure you could name it.
You'd maybe call it a combination of 'disgust' and 'fear'.
… But that didn't make any sense.
How could someone fear Daniella?
Before you can think too much about it, his expression is replaced with a neutral one.
He turns to you.
"…You have a strange idea of what a guard looks like, Your Highness."
You don't need to explain yourself to him.
You'd like to please select what you're entitled to, you say.
His nostrils flare and he ushers you and Daniella inside.
He's careful to keep his hands nowhere near you or Daniella.
You see stacks of parchments in many numerous barrels.
…You then instantly disregard them when you spy the boxes full of bracelets, necklaces, precious gems, rings, pins, and more and more and more!!
You almost lose your composure at seeing all the beautiful things in front of you.
This… this is all yours to choose from??
The old man nods.
"…Yes, Your Highness. Take what you like, return it when you like," he says.
There's so much of it…
The room isn't very well lit. Only a few candles.
But the shiny metal is undeniably attractive.
Your eyes are drawn to a beautiful gold ring.
Why wasn't that your wedding ring??
That… that thought was sinful.
You take a deep breath, and push it from your mind. You're glad you recognized the sin before it took too strong a hold of you.
Your silver ring was your bond of matrimony. There would never be anything like it.
You let out your breath. The excitement you had was killed by that disgusting thought, and rightly so.
It was only jewelry.
You couldn't take the entire room with you. You'd look like some rich commoner's wife obsessed with opulence. You'd better limit what you take.
… Until you wanted more.
…but what to take now…
It all looks so nice.
You pick up some bracelets, then set them down.
You pick up some pins.
These look nice, but you're used to wearing your hair loose.
You set them back down.
You pick up some necklaces, then set them down.
It's hard because none of it is organized.
You're not seeing any cohesive style in them. They all look like they were made for a variety of different outfits and thrown together. Sloppy organization.
… You can't help but be conscious of that old man watching you.
Can't he leave?
… You don't phrase the question to him that way, of course.
You ask if he would please allow you to select what you want without watching you, in peace.
He bows his head, but refuses.
"I need to keep track of what you take for the records, Your Highness," he says.
Oh… then why can't you tell him after you pick it out?
He doesn't have an answer.
Daniella speaks up.
"The princess will gladly tell you what she removes afterward," she says.
There's a palpable pause before he turns and leaves the room, leaving you and Daniella alone.
That lets you pick out things easier.
In the end, you pick out a very nice silver necklace, bracelet, and an elegant fan, studded with emeralds.
You'll need it with the warm summer months coming soon.
"That's a very lovely set you've chosen, Your Highness," compliments Daniella.
That's why you like Daniella.
You step out with Daniella and show the old man what you're taking.
He doesn't even bother to look interested, he stays at his desk with his quill and parchment.
Still, you are polite, so you thank him for his help. You inform him you'll come back if you feel the need.
"Yes, Your Highness… any time," he says.
You depart with Daniella.
Before you let her go, you have her show you to the throne room.
You want to get a closer look at the royal circlet.
She does, retrieving it from its crystal case for you.
No, you think not.
It's gold. Even if it didn't clash with your silver things, it wouldn't look right with your hair color. That, and it looks uncomfortable.
Maybe a daughter of yours can one day wear it.
You thank Daniella for her help, dismissing her.
She returns the circlet to the case and wishes you a pleasant day.
You do feel confident and attractive in your new jewelry, but it doesn't last.
Tharja misses lunch.
It's enough to make you want to cry.
Worse still, the maids have no idea where he is.
You take two bites of your meal and then declare yourself full.
You go back to your room to reflect.
You sit yourself on your bed, staring at the ceiling.
You did feel more like a princess…
And dealing with your husband being away was just another part of being his wife.
You remind yourself that.
You turn upright in the bed, and see the chamber pot set out for you.
… You feel your stomach churn.
You immediately drop to the floor, overcome with 'any-time-of-the-day sickness'.
It's not pleasant; you've lost the little bit of the meal you ate.
You curse yourself and vow never to look at a chamber pot ever again.
You while away the rest of the day alternating between feeling sick, pining for your husband, and posing with your new jewelry in the mirror. You also say a few prayers asking forgiveness for the various wrongs you did recently.
You have a maid help remove your clothes and braid your hair and so you can bed down for the night.
Tharja never does visit you. You suppose that's too bad.
Tomorrow's another day though… another day you become closer to being a mother.
Despite it all, the thought excites you and cheers you up.
You wake up the next morning.
You startle yourself awake by rolling on to your chest.
You try to will yourself back to bed, but it;s not soon before a maid comes.
You have her fit you into your dress and let down your hair.
You'll be joining Tharja soon for breakfast.
You're eager to see him again.
But, you wonder what you should plan for the day.
Tharja will probably have his own things to do, after all.
You rule out picking out more jewelry, yet.
You think that old man was probably annoyed with your visit, and the things you have are very nice. You'll wait a week at least before possibly rotating it.
>Plan to explore Tharja's library.
You are curious about your husband's library…
You decide you'll focus on that today.
You leave your fan and hat behind, you won't need them if you're staying inside.
…But you do take your jewelry. You'll need that.
You depart for the sitting room.
To your delight, Tharja is there to answer the door when you knock.
You say hello, putting an almost flirtatious tone in your greeting.
He laughs, and asks if you're enjoying your new 'toys'.
You can't deny they do help you feel a little prettier.
You sit down and eat breakfast together. Tharja gets toast with egg, you get toast with delicious blackberries.
You talk about the old man in the treasury a little bit who gave you your jewelry and how nervous you were.
"Thst's Ricardo. You needn't worry about him, dear. –Was he rude to you?" Tharja asks.
…Well, no, not exactly.
He didn't say anything rude, technically.
He seemed a little impatient but that was it.
"Good. The King keeps him on a tight leash. …The King keeps everyone on a tight leash, in fact."
You can feel it, the bitterness in his voice.
You decide to just eat.
There's a pause before Tharja asks if you're feeling better.
…Your heart can't help but melt a little at him asking about you.
You tell him knowing you're carrying his child is more than enough to make you feel better.
He smiles happily.
"Me too. When I'm feeling run down, I just think of you, my wife, with my child growing in her belly."
He reaches across the table and takes your hand in his.
You almost feel like swooning.
The attention makes you feel prettier than any jewelry could.
It's too soon before he lets go.
Tharja encourages you to eat more, to maintain your strength.
You have been skimping on eating recently. You find a bit of an appetite enough to finish your fruit and toast.
You ask Tharja if he had any plans for the day.
You had given thought to exploring his library.
"It's always open to you, Edwys. But unfortunately I have something I need to do today."
That's that, then.
If he wanted you to know, he would've told you.
You dare not show any brashness by asking.
Tharja does, however, stay long enough to help you to your feet, and open the door for you.
Your husband is a true gentleman.
"I will hope to see you at lunch, Edwys," he says.
You smile, though inwardly you know he's just saying that. He could easily have something to do.
You'd best not get your hopes up.
You start to take short steps in the direction of Tharja's wing.
You have to stop and ask a maid on the way for a candle, but you manage finding it well enough after finding your way there in the early morning yesterday.
Tharja's wing truly is dark.
The corridor barely allows any light, and the second passage doesn't have any windows at all.
You pull open the door to the library and step inside.
Tharja's library is impressive… as far as libraries go.
There's a great many books here.
You're not much of a reader, but you do need more ways to pass the time.
You carefully guide yourself around by candle-light.
You know it's impossible, but you feel like one moment of clumsiness could burn the entire room.
You're not sure where you should look first.
You have no idea how the library is actually organized.
You could search for a specific type of book, or just take one randomly.
But what sort of subject might interest you…? You're not even sure where to start there.
You could look for something regarding maternity, you suppose.
But then, your friend the midwife would hopefully have lots to tell you about that.
Maybe you could find some book of etiquette to read.
You pride yourself on your manners and decorum, but perhaps there's some Ruhemanian custom you don't know about. It might impress the King if you were to know it.
>Leave it to random chance and take a random book to read until you find one that interests you.
>Look for a book that would have information on maternity.
>Look for a book that would have information on etiquette.
Honestly, option 3 is probably the most useful choice for the near term future. We have months before the maternity book is needs to be finished (assuming that it's there at all)
Option 3! I'm with the anon before me…
I will also vote for Option 3!
>2 votes for option two, look for a book that would have information on maternity.
>4 votes for option three, look for a book that would have information on etiquette.
Look for an etiquette book.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You decide to look for a book on propriety and etiquette.
You do want to impress the King. That, and your new friend will certainly be pleased if you know the proper manners for socializing with other aristocrats.
You trail along the book cases, looking for any peculiar books.
You do manage to find one book that catches your eye. 'How to select the best handmaiden.'
The other books look more like they're written for men on how to be proper servants to the King.
This was much more practical for you.
You gently pull it free from the shelf and take it with you.
You had passed on the opportunity to receive any personal servants, but…
Someday, Tharja would be King.
You could have as many servants as you liked then.
It would be imperative that you know how to select the best.
You have a seat at one of the desks in the library.
You flip open the pages and start reading.
It is rather fascinating.
It talks about how more than skill or technique, what matters most in selecting the best handmaiden is personality.
Skill could be learned. Technique would be acquired. Personality was innate.
You read over the various ones.
First there was the handmaiden who was dull of mind and slow of manner. Although unsuitable for complicated tasks, such a handmaiden could no doubt be trusted with the daily drudgery of work. Her simple mind would keep her loyal, her lack of imagination would keep her from becoming bored.
It's an interesting take on the subject. You were bored with the older, taciturn maids, but you can't deny the book's logic.
Second is the handmaiden who is excitable in manner and hasty in deed. This handmaiden will freely take any opportunity to talk, and talk, and talk. Although the babble may prove distracting, this was the sort of handmaiden well-suited for personal tasks that require her being close to the noblewoman. Such as brushing one's hair. The talk will make the time seem to pass quicker, and such handmaidens are usually very grateful for the ear.
You're not sure about that take on the subject. A servant who talked too much would just be irritating.
There is one type of handmaiden who is outright dangerous. This is the handmaiden who possesses a golden ear and a silver tongue. This handmaiden may or may not be dutiful, but she happily sits and listens to any and all manner of talk that the noblewoman may have to say, only speaking up to deliver a compliment to the lady's judgment, taste, or beauty. She rarely if ever initiates conversation, and could certainly never be called 'gabby', but is all-too-happy to be a good listener.
–That passage describes Daniella almost perfectly.
You blink, your breath catching in your throat.
How could that be dangerous…?
You read on.
This handmaiden hears, and remembers. She keeps a mental record of your every utterance for future reference. If she is not a spy reporting your secrets to someone else, she will someday become one.
Could it be true?
Compliments from a servant are like honey. Sweet, but too much leaves one sick. Beware any servant who seems too keen to listen to your daily troubles and provide a tender comment which puts you in a good mood. It may be comforting, and their words flattering, but a proper servant knows it is not their rightful place. A servant who acts too pleasant secretly believes herself to be your true master.
You shut the book.
Your head is spinning.
Was Daniella's kindness all a ruse?
–You can't help but think it would make some sort of sense that she were repeating things you said to the King.
He was her master, not you.
But Daniella had always been so sweet…
You don't want to think there was any purpose behind it other than kind consideration.
Besides… you were just some silly spoiled foreign princess.
What would anything from your lips tell the King?
You think you've lost track of the time.
You decide to leave the book at the desk.
It might have more interesting things to tell you, but you don't want to take it with you.
You'll decide later to come back and read it or not.
But more than that, you had to decide what to do.
Daniella isn't your servant, but you do encounter her a fair bit.
Should you take what you read to heart, or not?
>The book is wrong. She's the closest you have to a friend. Push it out of your mind and don't alter your interactions with Daniella.
>The book is right. She's obviously been spying. Avoid speaking with Daniella any more and shut your ears to her compliments.
>… You're not sure if the book is right or not, but you could stand not to speak so freely with Daniella, at least. Just in case.
Option 3. Metagaming, we could guess that this Daniella is making sure we're not a witch, but Edwys knows nothing of that.
Option one. We have no reason to suspect that Daniella is our or Tharja's enemy. And I for one hope that at least in this universe we get a sex scene with her.
Oh? What's this? My mortal enemy appears to have survived and is up to her old tricks. I see now that leaving you to rot at the bottom of that pit was too merciful a punishment for your fanaticism, witch-hunter.
And now you're seeking to terrorize yet another being simply because you assume she's already ascended? Let's hope you aren't foolish enough to make the same mistakes here in this universe, Ahahahahahahaha!
Well, so long, for now. We'll reunite sweet and soon. I promise, Ahaha!
Option 3. Let's take it with a grain of salt. We can watch and pay attention to see if there's anything that might seem suspicious.
Trying very hard not to metagame… it's probably unwise to be completely open with Daniella (or any non-royal).
Daniella's a friend but we can be friendly without being indiscreet about sensitive matters.
Guarding secrets is part of a queen's job, and we need to develop it, like any skill - Our Guile Level is definitely 0 right now. Edwys would surely be mortified if anything she said was later used against Tharja, so being more careful is a smart idea.
Option 4; ask Tharja. In the meanwhile, Option 3.
>1 vote for option one, ignore the book's advice and engage Daniella how you have been.
>7 votes for option three, be a little more guarded in your words to Daniella.
>1 vote for write-in, ask Tharja for his opinion.
Guard your words to Daniella a little more carefully.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You can't help but think it's a little presumptuous to judge a person by what you read in a book about their 'type'.
Even a servant like Daniella.
Even if she wasn't intentionally spying, things you say to her might be repeated somewhere else. At some future time.
You'll be a little more careful with your words to her.
Surely that couldn't hurt…
You depart the library feeling a little more burdened than when you entered it.
Over the next few days, you experiment with your plan regarding Daniella.
You hold back on being so chatty.
You still answer her direct questions and talk pleasantly about the day, but you stop yourself from babbling mindlessly about whatever pops into your head.
…It does take some effort on your part.
Tharja continues to miss meals and you don't have anyone else to talk to.
You try to tell yourself it's just practice for appearing more stately, like a princess.
Daniella for her part doesn't seem to notice, or so you think.
But one day…
Your tailor is coming soon. You definitely don't want to put greasy hair on new clothes. You want your hair to be clean and beautiful.
You decide to wash your hair and ask Daniella if she will help you, which she does.
It started out normally enough.
She prepared a room with a basin of water and gathered some linen and combs. A bit of oil and herbs too.
You slip out of your clothes and have a sit with your head back.
It does feel nice to let yourself into the water and let a little of the weight off of you.
You lie back and let Daniella do the hard work.
It's at some point after when you're alone and naked with Daniella that she asks, suddenly.
"Your Highness… did something happen?"
You chance to turn your head to glance at her.
What did she mean, you ask?
You do your best to feign innocence and ignorance.
Daniella's hands run through the water and your hair.
"Apologies, but your mood has taken a turn as of late. Have you been feeling any… unpleasantness?"
You can't help but hold your breath.
It was just a little question, but it had the potential to turn many different ways.
You can't just say you read a book and think Daniella might be a spy.
You can't bring yourself to get worked up and screech at her to mind her own business when you're so… naked.
You decide you'll tell her a half-truth, at least.
You owe Daniella that much.
>Well, you are pregnant, after all! Claim you're feeling sickness from your pregnancy as an excuse for not being talkative.
>You miss Tharja when he's not there. Claim being separated from your husband is affecting your mood.
>You're homesick. Claim being removed from your native Virilia for so long is making you sad.
Hey, this thing is still alive. Let's go with Option 2, though I wonder if maybe we were being paranoid before.
>2 votes for option one, claim the changes of pregnancy has affected your mood.
>2 votes for option two, claim being separated from Tharja has affected your mood.
We have a tie.
I will leave the vote up a little longer and come back to it later. If there is still a tie, I will flip a coin to decide the result.
Please do not feel any pressure to change your vote. Changing your vote will not make the update come faster.
Totally forgot to vote DX
>3 votes for option one, claim the changes of pregnancy has affected your mood.
>2 votes for option two, claim being separated from Tharja has affected your mood.
Claim the changes of pregnancy have altered your mood.
Tie broken. Poll closed. Update soon.
You don't need to fret.
You have the perfect excuse.
You feign letting out a sigh and confess to Daniella that it must be the toll of your pregnancy that is affecting your mood.
Daniella says nothing for a moment, and when she does, her voice is soft.
"I see. I apologize for speaking out of turn, Your Highness."
It was really the best excuse, wasn't it?
You slept too late? Pregnancy.
You slept too little? Pregnancy.
You wanted to eat too much? Pregnancy.
You wanted to eat too little? Pregnancy.
It could be used for anything. You wouldn't have to ever invent some other reason for your behavior.
Feeling very clever, you relax yourself and let Daniella wash your hair.
You can't help smiling at having maneuvered out of that dilemma.
If Daniella is a spy, the King won't hear anything of you from her other than your pregnancy is progressing.
Though it does leave the time you have to spend with her… rather boring.
You have nothing to do but to wait as Daniella works.
At least you won't have to be disappointed at not seeing Tharja today.
By the time you're done, sunset is approaching.
You can't help asking Daniella at least if she thinks your bump is developing yet.
"I'm sure your belly will develop into a spectacular bump, Your Highness."
It's so nice a comment you actually feel guilty for being so close-lipped.
You have your hair put in a cap and go to take your rest.
A week passes. The tailor does eventually arrive. He's an older man, and you're nervous at first meeting. You hardly want a repeat at the upheaval of emotion you felt when you had to spend time alone with the master of coin. The prospect of being touched by him when you're being fitted gives you an appropriate amount of nerves.
Fortunately, it's soon clear you don't have to be handled by him directly. Two older maids are present who actually do the measuring and fitting.
Having a person so dedicated to helping you look good does help you feel like a real princess.
Though you're disappointed when he explains making new clothes will take time.
Meanwhile, he asks what sort of alterations or additions you would like to the clothes you already have.
This was your chance to finally have any jewels you like embroidered.
Your chest… has been feeling sore lately.
You knew it was a sign your breasts were getting ready to be full of milk for your pregnancy. It filled you with pride and joy, but made your clothes feel constricting none-the-less.
You had solved the problem by not having your bodice laced quite so tight, but it provided little relief.
Maybe you should ask for that, first?
Of course you'll have him do both eventually, but you should pick one to bring up first.
>You want to look better first. Request the tailor to add more jewels to your clothes.
>You want to feel better first. Request the tailor to alter your dresses to accommodate your expanding bosom.
I vote for option 1. Great side story Aristo!
Option 1 because it's more in line with edwina's character so far.
Will see how tight the clothes are after she wears them~
Option 2. All the gems in the world won't be worth anything if she can't wear the clothes. Plus, let's be honest, King Vlad is going to get a report about all this, and I think he'd prefer to hear that Edwina is being sensible.
Option two. Just because I hope for much more growth to come :)
Option 2. And maybe it can show a little. XD
>4 votes for option one, ask the tailor to add jewels to your clothes.
>4 votes for option two, ask the tailor to loosen your clothes to account for your expanding chest.
We have a tie.
I will leave the vote up a little longer and come back to it later. If there is still a tie, I will flip a coin to decide the result.
Please do not feel any pressure to change your vote. Changing your vote will not make the update come faster.
I have flipped a coin. The result is:
>Option one, ask the tailor to add jewels to your clothes.
Poll closed. Update soon.
… You mustn't get ahead of yourself.
Your breasts weren't that swollen yet. It would be a waste for the tailor to alter your clothes every week.
That could be put off easily.
In the meantime…
…You want to look pretty.
The aristocrat summoned to be your midwife will be here in a week.
You're sure you'll make a good impression if you look the part of being a princess.
She'll be happier to serve you if you look like someone worth serving.
With that in mind…
… You still can't help hesitating.
You know the King gave you permission, but you hope you don't sound too greedy.
Anxiety wells in your chest until you finally find the inner strength to push it aside.
You tell the tailor you would like some jewels from the treasury embroidered to your clothes… please.
He nods, not at all acting like you've made an outlandish request.
He even suggests you both go to the treasury to pick what you would like out, immediately.
The two other maids are present, so you don't feel nearly as uncomfortable as you did on your first visit to the treasury.
The treasurer, however, seems uncomfortable with your presence.
Though he does allow you in to select what you want, he doesn't leave the room while you do the selecting.
It really is too bad Daniella isn't with you to chase him off.
You just want to look at all the jewelry in peace.
Finally you select some lovely little stones. Nothing quite too precious, but enough to make your dress be set apart.
No one, even from a distance, will doubt you are a princess once your clothes look like this.
You exchange pleasantries with the old man and leave him to his work.
You're so happy, you feel almost in a mind to sing.
Of course, it will take some time before the tailor's work is done.
You decide to go see how the construction on your garden is coming.
So you return to your room to get dressed in your outside clothes.
The weather is brisk, but warm.
It takes you a little direction to find out just where the plot of your future flower garden will be.
When you do see it, you can scarcely believe your eyes.
You imagined just a little plot… a bench to read, and perhaps some colorful little areas to look at. Perhaps enough to walk around and admire.
But what you see is a collection of peasants working on raising a large structure around the outside of the castle.
They have tools you recognize as being used for gardening, and digging.
This was going to be a grand project!
It's enough to make you tremble with nervousness and wonder if you made the right choice.
You don't doubt it will be beautiful, but… all for you?
You'd rather not try to approach the peasants.
You might distract them… or be overcome with weakness and become a burden to them.
Instead, you wish them a prayer of gratitude from the bottom of your heart.
This garden was going to be grand!
Unfortunately, the good mood that came from your interactions with the tailor and seeing the flower garden doesn't last long.
Tharja doesn't join you for lunch.
The maid however says he sends his message that he is thinking fondly of you while he fulfills his royal obligations.
…Ones that don't involve you, you can't help but think.
You feel rather melancholy.
When the maid reveals your lunch, you can't help but not feel hungry.
You force yourself to eat a few bites, and declare yourself full.
Hopefully he'll be the first to admire your new dress.
You want him to at least think of you as a suitable wife.
One who will stand by him when he is King and be regal.
Yes, that was your role. What you were always meant to be…
You sigh and go to bed early that night.
You wake up long after sunset.
After lying back on your bed with your eyes shut, you finally give in and sit up.
You're… not feeling satisfied.
You take out your tinderbox and light a candle by your bed.
You use the light to guide you while you put on your robe and slippers.
What were you hungry for, most?
>The lunch wasn't satisfying. Go to the kitchen and see if you can have something prepared for you to eat.
>Going so long without seeing Tharja wasn't satisfying. Find your way to his quarters and… visit.
Option two. I'm betting there is a secret to be revealed in this universe too :)
Feels like seeing tharja will help mc feel better, allowing her to eat normally
Option 2, because snooping can be very informative. Or we get lucky. XD
Option two, for sure.
>4 votes for option two, visit Tharja.
That's who you were missing.
You decide to dare a repeat of your previous adventure.
You pick up the candle and step out into the halls, your slippers muffling your steps.
You can hear your heart beating in your chest.
Perhaps Tharja will awaken and embrace you like you prefer to be held…
The idea makes tempts you to think very unchaste thoughts as you find your way to his wing.
You slowly creep toward his room.
You know at least he won't be upset with you visiting him like this.
At the very least… he'll perhaps tell you he's tired.
Even then, perhaps you could venture to sleep with him? Literally if not euphemistically.
You push open the door to his room…
The candle doesn't give much light, so you're forced to get closer to see him.
Your heart has moved on from your chest and practically wants to jump out of your mouth with how excited you are to see your husband again.
You blink your eyes.
Once, twice. But the picture doesn't change.
Tharja's bed is empty.
It's unmade, but…
You put your hand on the sheets.
Was it possible he just got up, perhaps to go to the pantry to snack?
If so, the bed would be warm.
The sheets are… cold.
Either he left the room some time ago, or…
He never came back to his room to sleep for the night.
But if that's the case, where is he?!
Was he even in the castle?
You can't help but sniff your nose, feeling so very disappointed… and lonely.
You had more than half-convinced yourself Tharja would be paying attention to you soon.
You can feel your ladybits still tingling from your naughty expectations.
Maybe… maybe he really had gotten up for some reason?
Maybe he would soon be back.
Would it be terrible to wait in his bed for him?
He'd be glad to see you.
At least… you'd like to think so.
Not to mention the idea of being able to relax where Tharja sleeps… it does sound romantic.
Though you may just end up wasting the night away. You wouldn't mind falling asleep in here, but…
…It'd be embarrassing if you were overcome with morning sickness while you were in Tharja's room.
You look back at the door, then back at the bed, making your decision.
>Lie down in Tharja's bed and wait for him.
>Return back to your room.
Option one. Only advantage I see to option 2 is that Edwys might run into him (or someone else) on the way back to her room. He'll probably have to come back at some point in the night.
Option 1. We either get to snuggle, or we find out that he's not in bed for some reason.
Let's go with option 1
>3 votes for option one, lie down in Tharja's bed and wait for him.
Wait for Tharja to come back and lie in his bed in 'preparation'.
Poll closed. Update soon.
It's too much for you to bear.
Your husband being so close, yet so far away is more than your little heart can bear.
You take off your robe, letting it fall to the floor.
You follow up by stepping out of your slippers, sliding gently into the bed.
His scent surrounds you, penetrating your senses with its masculine scent.
This is where he sleeps…
You can't help but make out a satisfied little mewl as you curl up on the bedding, wrapping the sheets around your naked body.
You lie there motionless for several minutes, but…
Your ladybits are still tingling.
They won't stop.
You contemplate your hand.
It was… a sin… to pleasure oneself…
Were to Tharja to come back, you would merely be preparing yourself to fulfill your wifely duties for him.
That would make it all right… wouldn't it?
You bite your lip in contemplation…
By now you're no longer still, but squirming your legs and hips under the covers.
Yes… you were preparing yourself for Tharja…
And if you end up sinning for that…
Well, you've already committed a sin by contemplating it.
You shut your eyes, focusing on the smell of Tharja's scent and the softness of the sheets.
Then, you slowly lower your hand to your crotch…
You let out a shudder as your fingers touch yourself.
You're already getting wet…
It is truly a shame Tharja isn't here.
You would be able to provide him a fine penetration.
You rock yourself in bed, holding your hand still as you move your hips.
Yes, that's how you'll do it. It'll train you to actively help Tharja release his seed.
Your fingers rub up and down your feminine slit, providing you some very desire friction.
If only it were Tharja's cock…
You reach your other hand down and use two fingers to spread your labial lips a little more.
To stroke more than the bare outer-side of your lips, to reach the more sensitive inner labia.
You curl your knees a little more as you slide your pussy against your hand.
You're definitely leaking now, you can feel it coating your hand.
You dare to press on, rubbing yourself harder, and you can feel the hood of your clitoris…
The center and symbol of your femininity.
The hood is retracted a bit, your clit poking itself out from its hiding place, just a little.
You chance to rub it against the edge of your fingertips and let out a moan.
Of course, it wouldn't do to penetrate your opening by yourself.
That was reserved for your husband.
But this was very pleasant… yes, in fact it's very pleasant.
Your soft thighs close around your hand as you find a perfect place to rub yourself against.
With your hips making little rocking motions, you stroke yourself to deeper and deeper depths of pleasure.
Until the sounds of you rubbing your skin would be clearly audible if anyone else was in the room.
Ah… you really are… sinful…
But you can't stop.
You're getting too close.
Your clit isn't just puffy, it's hard and erect.
Your lips aren't just moist, they're swollen and wet.
All you can do is hope for Tharja to come in right now… to offer to fill you with his essence and make you his.
Your breathing becomes panting, your rocking hips becomes a full-body dance of lust.
Your chest is heaving, rising and falling with the shallow breaths you take.
Tears cloud your eyes and your face burns hot and red, along with the warmth between your legs.
You're so close!!
You bite your lower lip until you feel your jaw muscles ache.
You stop holding your hand still and openly rub it against your clit as hard as you can without it being uncomfortable.
You're so close to be satisfied… you can't stop now.
You try to hold in your cries, but little whines still manage to slip out.
Finally you feel your orgasm approaching.
Your palm grinds your pubic mound as you desperately try to get more contact.
You can feel it… your clitoris igniting under the heat of your hand and fingers.
It's building to a spark that will give you the release you so desperately seek… and need.
Aah.. aah… aah… mmm!!
You remember at the last moment to muffle yourself as your mind goes blank. The pleasure from your rubbing reaching its peak.
You can feel your toes curl against the bedding as ecstasy spreads throughout your body, from your crotch to your thighs, chest, and all the rest.
You arch your back against the bed as the spasms take control of your body, making you flex and tighten your feminine little muscles…
Aah… hah… haaah…
Your pants fill the room as you lie on your back, hair somewhat tangled behind you, but that's fine.
You spread your legs out in victory as your pussy finishes contracting… as if to milk a cock for its seed that isn't there.
A few more seconds and the intensity of the pleasure fades.
Leaving you with… loneliness.
Tharja isn't here… and… you just pleasured yourself, knowing he wasn't here.
You're a… terrible girl.
You huddle yourself under the covers, regretful of indulging your lust.
You can only hope no one learns of this shame.
…Yes, you must confess this and take the penance the Priest gives you.
You'll feel embarrassed to the extreme admitting your deed to him, but… perhaps then you can salvage some redemption.
You continue to lie waiting for Tharja.
Even if you were to give up on him returning, you don't want to risk exerting your muscles standing up and walking back after all that… exercise.
It's not long before you're simply too comfortable and you fall asleep.
>No choice yet. Further update coming soon.
You lie there in the quiet darkness of Tharja's room.
The candle you brought has long burned itself out. Some time must have passed.
You actually are confused as to the time and whether it's appropriate to get up.
You wonder how Tharja manages to sleep with a room like this.
… But then, that means he never came back?
Or perhaps he saw you sleeping in his bed, and decided not to disturb you?
You're pondering over those possibilities in your mind when you hear footsteps from out in the hall.
Your heart pounds in your chest as excitement overtakes you.
Tharja was finally coming back!
No, there was definitely more than one pair of footsteps.
Before you can think of anything more, the door bursts open.
You shriek as you realize it's castle guards, carrying torches.
You aren't dressed, you yell!
There's a bit of awkwardness where the guards have to avert your eyes, but hand you your discarded robe.
They explain it's well past morning, and it was discovered you weren't in your bedroom.
The entire castle was locked down to search for you.
… Oh dear.
The entire castle?
You aren't sure if you should take them seriously, but then you're led outside the halls leading to Tharja's room into the regular castle and you get the impression it must be true.
There aren't nearly as many maids bustling around, and the castle feels queer because of the absence.
At least there's no one to see you looking borderline indecent as you're lead to…
The throne room?
Your stomach quivers.
Was the King waiting to punish you there?
The soldiers 'escorting' you exchange some sort of weird gesture and a few words about having located you.
You don't want to go in the throne room and face the King…
The emotions are simply too much. You start to cry.
It doesn't matter, the door is opened and you're ushered inside.
You take one glance and realize there's no one else there.
One of the guards tells you that you must wait there, do not try to leave.
The doors to the room shut, keeping you inside with no one to watch you.
Were they thinking up a punishment?
Time passes, in which you can do little more than stand, awkwardly.
It's beginning to hurt your feet to stand in one place, so you pace a little…
The only place to sit is on the King's throne, and you would never dare.
You feel rather miserable.
You almost want to knock on the door and beg for at least… a cushion.
Before you can gather up your nerve, the door opens.
It's Daniella, flanked by guards holding the door open.
They allow her inside and then shut the door behind her.
She gives you a straightforward bow, the kind a servant might use if they were in a hurry and needed to do something but still had to show their courtesies.
…She looks perfectly well-dressed, as always.
"Your Highness," she starts to say. Her tone is soft, and not the harsh, judgemental rebuke you were expecting.
"Your Highness, would you please explain what happened last night?" she asks.
You think you understand.
Daniella… was interrogating you.
No question about it. What you told her would definitely be repeated… if not directly to the King, then at least whatever soldiers had to organize whatever the castle went through to find you.
… Yes, they think you'll confess more easily to a feminine ear.
You break out into another sob.
Despite your noble background, and even that you're royalty, you feel less than Daniella at that moment.
You beg her pardon and ask for a moment to compose yourself.
She waits, and you finally start speaking.
You were lonely and couldn't sleep. You wanted the companionship of your husband… so you took your candle and sought it out.
Tharja wasn't in his bed, but…
It's… indecent to have to say out loud what your intentions were.
Even if Tharja is your husband, it reflected your lustful thoughts.
Daniella notices your hesitation.
She makes a little sound of a sigh.
You aren't sure if she's impatient, judging you, or possibly sympathetic.
"You were seeking… sexual… satisfaction?"
You can feel your face light up in a blush.
It's enough it must extend all the way to your toes.
You… you have to answer her.
You can't just leave it at that.
But what were you really wanting… and what would she believe?
She's not a Priest or even a nun. What you say is likely going to be repeated, but…
Perhaps she would understand, as a woman to a woman?
You realize you're holding your hands to your cheeks, and slowly let go, before speaking your answer.
>You wanted Tharja's attention. You just wanted to see him… Why wasn't he there?
>Confess to having a sexual… craving. Blame your pregnancy if you have to.
No need to admit to being lewd. Option one, we wanted Tharja's attention.
Option 1 feels more like what Edwys would say, especially since she doesn't know about Daniella being a witch hunter.
We're ladylike, so option 1 and they can take it as they will.
Edwys and Tharja are married. Even in a medieval setting, sexuality within a marriage is absolutely okay and nothing the be ashamed of. She doesn't need to admit to masturbating, but missing intimacy with her husband is surely nothing anyone can hold against her.
Option one is very much the only way to go here. Plus, when Tharja hears, he'll probably be more attentive and visit more, so Win-Win.
>6 votes for option one, you wanted to see Tharja.
>1 vote for option two, you wanted sexual satisfaction more than anything.
Emphasize your desire for your husband.
You… wanted Tharja…
More than anything.
If he had sent you back to your room without so much as a caress, you could have dealt with that.
Instead, he wasn't there, and you decided to keep his bed warm for him in hopes he'd return.
Then… yes, you became overwhelmed with his smell.
You, very quietly, confess the other details of last night to Daniella, including your… sin.
It shames you to think about, let alone speak out loud, but it's better than Daniella possibly thinking you were meeting some lover in your husband's bed, of all things.
She listens, not interrupting, then… you have nothing left to explain.
Why wasn't Tharja in his own bed?
Was he away?
… You know it's selfish, but your heart… wanted your husband.
Is that wrong, you ask?
Daniella flinches with the smallest hint of a sad frown.
"It's not wrong, Your Highness."
Her words help you calm down and your panic subsides.
…You were sorry for causing a fuss.
But you never thought it would turn in to this.
Daniella nods, eyes downcast.
"Thank you for explaining the situation to me, Your Highness."
Daniella starts to turn to leave.
What are you to do now? Are you to wait?
Daniella turns back.
"Not at all. You are free to return to your room."
You're tired of walking around undressed. It's long past an acceptable time to wear such things.
You thank Daniella… you thought you would be facing the King.
… You're careful to call him His Majesty in front of Daniella.
Daniella shakes her head.
"His Majesty, King Vlad, has more important matters to commit himself to, Your Highness."
You can't help but let out a startled little squeak.
It's a relief when the doors open and the soldiers allow you and Daniella to pass.
You can barely look at them before scurrying away.
You can only hope they'll forget about you, but you know better.
You'll be the object of their gossip for some time.
The thought is enough to almost make you start sobbing again.
Daniella isn't with you, she walks in a different direction leaving you alone.
You return to your room to find two maids waiting to help you get dressed.
You're still feeling mortified, but they don't mention anything about not finding you in your bed when you awoke.
Hopefully no one knows beyond the maids and the guards who were looking for you.
>No choice yet. Further update coming soon.
After getting dressed, it's time for your breakfast. The maids escort you to the room and you can't help but feel like you're being watched, now.
Of course you sit down alone to an empty table.
It's a tiresome affair and you poke and play with your food like a child.
You can't help feeling sorry for yourself. At the same time, you feel sorry that you're feeling sorry for yourself.
It's only when you remember you must take care of yourself for the child inside you as well that you finally find the strength to eat. It's a slow, cumbersome affair.
You're a few bites in to your plate of cooked eggs and berries when the hinges of the door squeak and it begins to push open.
You've eaten enough to know the maids never interrupt meals.
You actually feel a tinge of fear before you see…
…Tharja's face emerging behind the door.
He gives you a pleasant smile.
"Edwys, my dear… how are you holding up?"
You can't help but blush, recalling the events that started your day for you.
It's… been an interesting morning, you finally reply.
Tharja's not alone, a maid comes in behind him and carries a plate of food for him. She sets it down in front of him at the table before excusing herself, the door shutting behind her.
"Apologies for just arriving now, my dear wife. Were you missing me?"
It went without saying, so you just nod, demurely.
You watch him take up his fork and cut at a bit of egg. He nods back.
"Me as well… it's unfortunate the King has tasked me with… certain obligations recently."
This is too good to be true. You know Tharja must be here because of what happened today.
He finishes swallowing the bite of egg he took.
"I'm very sorry, Edwys. There would be times the King would require me to be away, day or even night… and I may have to leave the castle."
Yes, you say.
You remember him explaining that.
You leave out that you were suspicious it came so soon after you revealed you were pregnant.
But, you can't help but add, Tharja did give you permission to enter his quarters at any time.
His expression turns into a mischievous grin.
"I did appreciate you taking advantage of that."
… You should feel happier about Tharja's comment, but you can't.
He's being kind and not specifically raising the subject of your sin, but you know that's the purpose of this conversation.
You mustn't argue… you mustn't be contentious… you had to be a perfect wife, like your father had made sure you were raised to be.
But the question looms over your head… what sort of obligation from the King requires Tharja not sleep in his own bed at night?
… No, you won't think of Tharja as a liar. Neither will you ask and imply it.
There must be some reason. It is all right if you don't know.
–And if it was just an opportunity for Tharja to spread his seed…
You needed to accept that. It would be wrong, even as his wife, to confront him about his… urges. And you certainly don't want to ask about it and risk hearing an answer.
You hadn't realized it, but you'd screwed your eyes shut in your emotions.
You feign a light laugh and make an excuse that you were just… embarrassed at recalling being so selfish.
Tharja leans forward, reaching his hand across the table.
"You can be selfish, Edwys."
You look up into Tharja's eyes and see only kindness there.
You reach out and let him take your hand.
Your vision blurs as you blink away tears.
Thank you… thank you so much!
Your mood clears and you finally feel at peace with your emotions.
You want to just embrace him right now!
He gives your soft fingers a little rub, and then lets go.
His hands feel rougher than you remember…
Well, whatever. He was likely busy with some masculine activity.
You smile and finally point out your dress is newly embroidered with jewels to make you look more regal, and does he like it?
Before long you're talking and catching up and eating your meal together.
It doesn't end there, Tharja invites you for a walk around the castle. He wants to see the new garden being built. You happily agree.
Unfortunately, you don't end up admiring the garden so much as each other.
Tharja holds your hand and whispers you are the prettiest flower in the castle.
Your head is full of romantic little nothings by the time the sun reaches midday.
After you share another lunch, Tharja invite you back to his room saying he wants to spend time being even more intimate.
It's the perfect finish to your day together.
But it also reminds you of how you woke up this morning, which you'd been able to forget until then.
Twice in consecutive nights? You'll surely get a reputation of being some shameless sex-starved… beast.
…But you dare not turn him down.
You can only nod demurely as Tharja wraps his arms around your waist and places his hand on your rump.
Your heart is pounding and your ladybits are tingling as he leads you back to his wing.
You hope your dress is easy to iron. You don't have the nerve to tell Tharja you need to hang it up properly.
It's surely going to be left in a crumpled heap on his floor before too long.
>No choice yet, further update coming soon.
You step lightly down the hallway to Tharja's room. Tharja gallantly leads the way with a torch.
You're thankful he's here to carry it. You always become frightened when you must be around flame bigger than a candle.
You can't help but worry it will somehow catch your long hair alight and the fire would engulf you like lightning striking a tree. You aren't sure if that's a reasonable fear to have, but you can't deny the terror it makes you feel. The very thought makes you shiver from head to toe.
Tharja pushes open the door to his room, stepping inside with you.
He places the torch on its holder and immediately embraces you.
Strong arms wrap around your body, strong hands find your curves.
His warm lips press against yours as he claims what's his. Of course, you offer it freely. And after all the attention you've received from him today… you desire it. You need it so much.
Tharja teases your lips with his tongue and you part them for him, he wastes no time invading your mouth with his red muscle. It's all you can do to tilt your head back as you're overcome with the sensation. You do your best to coil your own around him.
You let out a gasp, breaking the kiss for air, as you feel Tharja's hand grope your sensitive breast. You murmur a soft protest, reminding him your breasts feel sore.
"Mm… my apologies, Edwys…"
He presses another kiss to your lips, then pulls back completely, his hands going to his undo his clothes, starting with his belt.
"I think we would do well to move this to the bed," he whispers, voice lustful and husky.
You nod, watching him reveal more of his lean masculine body in the torchlight, and you can feel your canal lubricating itself… your pussy ready to invite him inside you.
You say a silent prayer of apology to the poor tailor who made your dress so pretty as you start to undo the laces of your bodice and slip out of it. You pull it over your head and drop it in a mess on the floor, soft clinking of jewels striking stone heard as you do so.
Tharja has himself naked by that point and spares no time freeing you of your undergarments, until your flesh is completely exposed from head to toe.
You actually can't help but squeak in fear as Tharja settles his hands on your curves, forgetting you're exposed in a way that only Tharja will see. Yes– that only Tharja should see.
You let out an excited moan as Tharja's hands swirl over your belly.
"Have you developed a bump her yet, my dear Edwys…?" he asks, softly.
Your lips turn in a frown and you admit you haven't… just yet.
But you know his son is there, waiting to show himself.
"Hm… I understand." He smacks his lips. "In the meantime… there are other areas of you to touch…"
He curves his hands around your backside and grabs a healthy pinch of your ample ass in his hands, cupping both cheeks in his embrace.
You let out another little sound as he provokes a jump from you. You reach your hands up to wrap your soft arms around the back of his neck.
He's… intent on making you cry out, isn't he? You can't help but whisper the accusation to him.
He doesn't hide his grin.
"Maybe a little…"
The next instant, he's picking you up. He lets out a small grunt as he pulls you up. It has the desired effect of making you squeak in surprise again. His arms move, one to your thighs and the other up your back, just under your hair, as he suspends you completely in the air. One hand under your knees, the other supporting your back.
You blink up at him, speechless… and a little frightened. You're not terribly heavy, but was this too strenuous for him? You start to ask, but then think twice about it. You don't want to perhaps deliver some indirect insult by questioning his ability to lift you.
Tharja stares down at you, licking his lips.
"I hope you're ready, Edwys… I've been desiring you for some time."
–Oh. It hadn't occurred to you that Tharja may actually be needing an outlet as much as you have.
You arch your back in his embrace, doing your best to put your breasts on display for him.
You're feeling genuinely romantic as he steps over to his bed and sets you down.
You look up at him with excited, anxious eyes, arms sliding to your sides to let him get a full look at you.
You look at him, at least until…
You can't bear holding back, you turn your head to gaze at Tharja's member.
As you expect, it's hard and pointed directly at you, head beginning to poke through his foreskin.
It… looks so swollen…
Your thoughts are interrupted by Tharja putting a firm hand on your thigh.
He lowers his hand to your feet, ushering you to bend your legs.
"Turn over, Edwys. I desire to take you on your hands and knees."
You prefer to have sex with you both facing each other, but you won't deny his request. It gives you a shiver as you do as he says, turning yourself on your front and propping yourself up on your hands and knees. You feel like some beast presenting itself in hopes it will be mounted… impregnated… bred. Tharja has already done that, of course, but you can certainly dream.
Tharja wastes no time, he climbs up on the bed and positions himself behind you. You feel his hands grip your waist as he adjusts your position, forcing you to spread your knees a little wider and arch your back to his liking. Your breasts hang freely, your erect nipples pointing at the floor.
The suspense and not knowing when the penetration will come fills you with trepidation and fear. Tharja can set any pace he likes with you barely able to do more than moan and speak back at him…
You wait for his cock to touch your lips, but it doesn't come. You realize he must be teasing you… you can't help but let out a disappointed little moan.
You feel one of his hands lift up from your body, then–
You give a sudden surprised gasp as you feel your head pulled back. Your neck arching, thrusting your chin out. What's he… doing?
You realize after a split second of fear that he's reached down and grabbed your long hair, enough to pull back at your head.
"Heh… sorry, Edwys. I just realized… you've sort of grown the perfect set of reins to hold on to, with you posed this way."
…No. It's… it's the symbol of your femininity, your fecundity…
He continues on.
"So, let's do it… just like this."
You can feel your hair being brushed by his hands as he starts to rub his cock along your outer labia lips. You can feel the pressure on your scalp as he pulls it taut enough for you to be aware he's holding it.
Your long hair is your symbol of who you are… it annoyed you at times with how hard it was to maintain and care for, but letting Tharja pull it…
It felt wrong. It is wrong. You don't want that. He might damage it.
How can you stop him?
He's your husband. He has a right to use you as he wants. If… if he prefers to manipulate your body, you'd have to accept that… is hair-pulling not part of that? Perhaps… perhaps you'll grow to like the pain.
…Tharja continues to rub himself against you. You know if you're going to voice an objection it had better be before he penetrates you.
There's no stopping a man's lust once he's inside you. You know from personal experience.
Your heads feels dizzy as you consider what to do. Tharja was kind… he'd listen, surely…
But… do you have the right to speak up?
>Stay silent and let Tharja do whatever he wants.
>You don't like this, but you'll put up with it for the sake of his desire. Permit him to pull it but speak up and ask Tharja to at least be gentle.
>It's too much. Beg him to release your hair.
Option one. She should give it a try. Maybe she'll like it rough after a while.
>3 votes for option one, be a good wife and let Tharja do as he pleases.
Stay silent, submit to the hair pulling.
Poll closed. Update soon.
…You say nothing.
It's his right to use you. It's his right to manipulate you. Even break you.
So are your thoughts before Tharja thrusts his hips forward and spears your delicate feminine folds with his virile, manly cock.
You can't help but jerk your body, arching your back and letting out a surprised gasp.
The feeling of Tharja holding your hair, giving you less freedom of motion, makes you twist and turn and stretch your neck out.
It's… not pleasant. Bolts of terror course through your body as you struggle to breathe.
Your lungs fill with panicked breaths as you deal with the fear that Tharja will pull your hair too hard, that you will spend so many years growing it again.
You become aware of a deep, satisfied moan from Tharja.
His grip relaxes somewhat, and you sigh in relief as your hair goes slack enough to lower your head.
"Damn, Edwys… you were really… tight…"
…Oh, that's right.
Tharja's cock is inside you. The feeling of your hair being pulled made you focus on your panic and not your sex.
You hear Tharja let out a lusty little sigh. There's a layer of hunger there you haven't heard before. You're not sure you'd heard Tharja swear before either.
"It's because I pulled your hair, isn't it…? It really gets you off?"
Before you have time to think about it, Tharja gives another tug and you let out another surprised yelp as your head is pulled back again, your vulnerable white throat exposed as you have no choice but to arch your neck back.
You hold back more fear as Tharja places his lips beside your ear.
"Squeal for me, Edwys."
He follows it up with a savage thrust, so much your body is shoved forward from the impact.
True to Tharja's command, from your lips emerges a pitiful shocked squeal.
You want to tell him 'no'… you don't want to be treated like an outright beast…
But instead of words, your voice only emits more and more hurried squealing.
It echoes off the walls in Tharja's confined little room, the sounds burning in your ears.
Mixed with Tharja's moans as he continues to thrust his cock into you, striking your ample rump with each thrust, creating a hard slap each time that mingles with your cries, with Tharja's labored panting.
You can feel your eyes burning, wet with tears as he mercilessly pounds away.
You want to slump down on your forearms, or at least wipe your eyes free of their tears, but you cannot even manage that.
Your head is too taut with Tharja's pulling. You have no choice but to keep your poor arms ramrod straight.
You body shakes with dread and pain as Tharja satisfies himself.
You can feel it, you can hear it.
The hard desperate thrusts and the satisfied groans from behind you.
Tharja's going to cum…
Drool drips freely from your orifice as you continue squealing.
You can't help but hold your mouth open in an attempt to relieve pressure on your scalp.
Tharja's crotch slams into your ass once, twice, thrice…
You feel your hair pulled even harder as his muscles tense and he orgasms. A loud masculine groan resounding through the room.
Until you hear him panting hard, feel the heat of his chest over your bare back as he lies on top of you, and his cum flows inside you.
He finally lets go of your hair.
But not before giving your back a fond kiss.
"F-Fuck… Edwys… that was the best sex I've ever had… I can still feel myself cumming…"
He runs his hands up and down the front of your belly, trailing up to massage your delicate breasts.
You… didn't come close to enjoying it. Your pussy feels wet and raw.
But, you can take a certain satisfaction in your sex. Hadn't Tharja praised you? Hadn't you done what he wanted?
–Though you're not sure if you should feel proud or indignant that he slipped and said: 'The best sex I've ever had,' instead of 'The best sex we've ever had.'
Meanwhile, you can't help your nerves.
You quickly move your hair away so he can't touch it anymore, then turn back to examine his fingers.
Tharja raises no objections; he's curled up beside you, body still vibrating with pleasure.
You indeed find one or two hairs curled in his fingers. Their length is truly impressive.
Not enough to become a patch of missing hair on your head, but even that little bit makes your heart race.
You can't lose your hair… you just can't.
You're tempted to run from the room and find a maid to help you wash it and oil it.
You're being silly.
This amount hardly matched what hair you lost in a normal brushing. It's trivial.
…But how could you know for sure it'd always be like that?
Tharja is a man, after all. He could underestimate his strength.
You sit on Tharja's bed, fretting, his sperm slipping down your thighs as you ponder your hair.
Tharja seemed to genuinely enjoy it all…
The panicked thoughts you had made your groin constrict and milk his cock, hard. Harder, you suppose, than you normally manage in your sex. Though you always made an effort to do that.
No doubt he'll be expecting and looking forward to experiencing that again.
Though having your husband looking forward to sex with you was… good, it wasn't as good a sex for you.
Your own desires are unfulfilled, in terms of raw pleasure. You can take satisfaction from the result, but… was it enough?
You turn and look at Tharja's face.
He's dozing, a contented grin on his face as he sleeps. Looking utterly relaxed.
You have a choice to make.
Your lips turn into a tight frown as you ponder what to do…
Let this continue? Or possibly… ask Tharja to stop?
>Stay with Tharja until he awakes with more of his senses. Explain you really don't want your hair pulled. He can do anything else.
>Cuddle with Tharja and, later, confide your fears and ask him to help you find a solution.
>Masturbate yourself to orgasm and then lay with Tharja, accepting the hair pulling forever, if it's what THarja wants.
Option 2. Marriage is a partnership. We want to make Tharja happy, but we don't want to live in constant fear of our hair. The sexytimes should be enjoyable for both.
I too vote for option two.
BTW: aristo, do you still have the beginning of the story? The thread on bbw-chan is gone and it's not in the wayback machine as far as I can tell.
You mean of Impregnated Princess? This is it. This is the entire story. The only thing that's missing is the choice prompts and the votes. (What was chosen is listed at least.)
I think I may still have a version with those prompts and the votes still saved, but is there some part you're looking for?
Oh. Then misremembered that some piece of the beginning was missing.
You may be thinking of the post where I teased the possibility of this sex scene back in the bbw-chan thread. It's identical to what is here, though.
Can't believe I managed to miss this last week.
>3 votes for option two, cuddle, then confide your fears with Tharja.
Share your misgivings about having your hair pulled with Tharja.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You curl up to Tharja's side, settling in next to him.
You let your fingers curl around his chest, feeling his muscles. The smell of his scent fills your senses as you close your eyes and cuddle close.
Tharja lies there breathing, and you become aware of how exhausted he must be; your hand rising and falling along with his chest as air fills his lungs.
You rest your own eyes, unaware if sleep claims you or not.
It's all you can do to hold back from needling him with your concerns.
Eventually you do feel him stir, rolling over.
You turn your fingers around his skin, hoping to rouse him.
It takes a few minutes, but he finally turns back to you.
He lets out a deep groan.
"Just speak up if you want something."
…He sounds approaching the borderline of being annoyed. You decide you must follow his command.
You would… prefer not to feel such extremes of emotion during your sex.
That is… fear.
You can't help but draw out your words with awkward pauses, worried you won't find the right words.
Tharja reaches up and tangles his hand in your hair.
"Is this about the baby in your belly, Edwys?"
No, but now that he's suggested it, you can't help but feel your request is more selfish than it seemed.
It's your… hair.
It's precious to you. If you lose it, it won't grow back.
That's why you can't lose it. You fear if Tharja makes a habit of being rough, then you just may.
Tharja listens, then lets out another sigh.
"We'll talk later."
… All right.
You let it go without saying anything more.
You're not sure if you did any more than sour Tharja's mood. You'll have to wait and see.
You go back to your room walking stiffly and sorely for the next two weeks.
Tharja continues to show you attention, even if he must be gone in the morning and can't have you sleeping in his bed overnight.
Though, his motions in bed are not as… intense.
You never do end up talking about your hair pulling again. He simply stops doing it.
You decide that's enough of a solution and never bring it up again.
One morning, like any other, you're awakened by the morning light and warmth.
You blink yourself awake and stretch out with a long yawn…
Your pregnancy makes your sleep difficult. You wake up feeling as tired and worn out as when you lay yourself down. You've asked the maids to stop coming to wake you, at least not without cause.
Unfortunately, it didn't help matters.
You continue to lie for a period of time before you roll yourself upright and move to swing your legs over.
You wonder what you should do today…
The tailor may have your new clothes completed by now.
You wonder if the peasants have raised enough of your garden yet, enough for you to walk and admire the view.
You take off your night gown and throw it over your modesty partition, moving to take up your underwear.
Of course, you don't even bother with the partition. At least not in the morning.
You slide your lower underwear up your thighs and then work on your bodice when you see it. You blink. Then you blink again. You smooth out your hand and run it over your mid-section.
Could it be…?
A sudden rush of energy fills you and you forget your weariness and rush over to the mirror.
… You have a bump.
It's small, barely noticeable, but it's undeniably there once spotted.
You have a bump.
You have an honest-to-goodness bump!
You can feel your face become hot, your eyes becoming wet.
You're stuck between wanting to dance and cry in joy.
This was it… the next stage to your pregnancy. Your future child with Tharja letting you know he's there.
You continue stroking your belly as the emotions wash through you.
It's most marvelous feeling in the world… and the scariest.
You'll have to work on being the best mother you can be.
–But, for now, you're the picture of delight.
You have a bump!
Your excitement is spoiled by a knock on the door.
You turn your head and call out.
Who is it, you ask?
You hear an older woman's voice call back and you recognize it as one of the maids.
You're still full of emotions to the extent you can barely make out what she actually says, beyond that she's come to visit you.
Half of your breasts are spilled from your loose bodice. You could do with having her help you into it.
But, maybe you should show off?
You do wish you had someone to share in the moment.
It couldn't hurt to invite her in to see your newly-pregnant belly, could it?
>Tell her to wait while you (attempt) to lace up your bodice and finish dressing yourself.
>You're too emotional to hide it, you may as well be proud. Invite her in and show off your bump.
>You mustn't be too personal with the maids. Call her in to help with the bodice and your dress, but don't call particular attention to your bump. …Or at least, try not to.
Mm… Option 1. While Edwys doesn't strike me as being one to rub her belly in her maid's face (though that's an interesting mental image), and she might want to subtly show off to the maid, I think she might want to save the baby bump reveal for Tharja.
>3 votes for option one, lace up your bodice and finish dressing. Don't show off your bump.
Dress yourself and have the maid wait.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You mustn't let your excitement run away with you.
You ask the maid to please wait. You're not presentable.
Your hands go to work tying your underclothes together.
All the while, you can't stop smiling. You close your eyes and rock from side to side, feeling immensely pleased with yourself.
You finish putting on your dress and have almost forgotten the maid is waiting when you open the door.
Not just a maid, but a blonde-haired woman are waiting for you.
She's dressed in very fashionable traveling clothes. A shortened skirt on her dress.
Her long blonde hair looks as if it could rival yours in length.
Her clothes bear a brooch with an intricate design, and she carries a book in her arms.
There's no doubt that this woman could be anything but an aristocrat.
The maid speaks up, introducing you as Her Royal Highness, Edwys of Ruhemania.
The stranger curtsies before you.
Ah. The etiquette falls to you.
You know who this person must be.
The maid goes on to introduce her as Beatrice, lady from Elbania.
You exchange pleasantries, a soft mutual 'how do you do,' then you offer your hand for her to shake.
You're the princess, you can set the level of formality, and you're too emotional for a stiff meeting.
You tell Beatrice you're very glad to make her acquaintance. You know she'll make a fine midwife.
She responds to your gesture by taking your hand for a soft shake, not shying away from full-hand contact. Her face meets your smile with her own.
"My, my. Thank you very much for the vote of confidence, Your Highness."
You think you're going to like Beatrice.
You almost want to tell her to call you 'Edwys,' but perhaps that's too informal.
The maid speaks up at that point and tells you breakfast is waiting for you. It was planned for Beatrice to join you.
"If that's to your liking, Your Highness."
Of course! It'll be a perfect opportunity to get to know each other.
That was your plan, but…
Nature is making the experience into a misery. No sooner do you sit down with Beatrice and your meals are presented then you take one look at the food and lose your appetite.
You stare at the food for a good ten or twenty seconds before you realize Beatrice has not started to eat.
Ah. She's being polite. She's waiting for the Princess to take a bite before she does.
You apologize. The past few weeks or so, you just have times where you can't stand the thought of eating. No matter how good the food is.
Beatrice gives you a reassuring smile.
"That's completely normal," she nods. "It's just a sign your pregnancy is advancing healthily."
You perk up a little, hearing that. You knew it was something to be expected, but… the more healthy a baby you can carry, the better.
"Indeed." She gives a faint little laugh. "When you don't feel like eating, go ahead and don't eat. It'll be much better than trying to force yourself."
It's exactly what you want to hear.
You make a comment about feeling sorry for the poor cooks, but you won't feel guilty.
You bid Beatrice to please eat, and she finally takes up her spoon.
You reflect on how glad you are that you asked for a midwife. An educated, dedicated midwife.
No sooner has she arrived then she's put one of your silly little fears to rest and provided you with sound advice.
…It's a little boring and awkward to sit and watch someone else eat, but you have no choice.
You don't want to just get up. And you have nothing else planned. Maybe you'll start to feel hungry.
You note Beatrice has impeccable manners as well. You mentally remind yourself that even if you've become used to eating alone, you must continue to practice. Some day, surely, you'll be entertaining some other nobility.
The door suddenly opens. It's enough of a surprise that you almost recoil.
It's Daniella, with empty hands.
It's like Daniella not to knock, but somehow… it feels different.
She wears a stone-serious face.
Did something happen…?
"Miss," she begins, and it's clear she's addressing Beatrice, not you.
Beatrice… suppresses a frown.
You don't blame her. She breached etiquette by not addressing you first with a 'Your Highness.' But, you'll let it slide. Daniella has helped you in the past, after all.
"Miss. Your room is prepared."
Beatrice's eyebrows arch.
"Is that so? I thought I would have my choice."
"…That is not your decision. There are only a few rooms available."
That comment is outright strange.
You've stepped the halls too many times to know that there's unused rooms.
–Aren't there? The way Daniella says it makes you question your own assumptions. Maybe they were being used, and you just weren't aware.
"There is only the matter of your luggage. May I take your things for you, Miss?"
She steps closer, holding an outstretched hand.
It feels another breach of etiquette. A servant should wait until they are asked to take care of something, not take it upon themselves… at least not like this. Beatrice has barely arrived.
You realize now Beatrice still has her book. She'd transferred it from her arms to her lap.
Beatrice gives Daniella a close-lipped smile.
"Oh, this? I will keep it, thank you."
You almost want to take it upon yourself to lecture Daniella on forgetting her manners to an aristocrat, but you can't find the words.
The scene is too tense, and a chill runs up your back as you watch the two women interact. Daniella with her steely expression and eyes that don't seem to leave Beatrice.
Beatrice challenges her in her own way: sitting there without dismissing her or showing visible offense, as if daring Daniella to continue.
… You realize now these two have personalities that won't let them get along.
It's as if they were natural enemies; destined to dislike each other.
Beatrice sets down her spoon.
"I say," she starts, "I really should insist on having a selection for my living quarters. I'm here on His Majesty's request. The castle is certainly big enough."
There's a slight pause.
"…I suppose if you are willing to accept a delay, that would be possible," she offers.
Beatrice gives an annoyed little squint.
"A delay? In what? Having a simple place to rest my head?" she asks.
"…I will take what steps I can to accommodate your request, but I can't offer guarantees. His Majesty only gave orders for one room to be prepared."
"Ridiculous. No offense to His Majesty, but I refuse to believe you have naught but one room prepared for the arrival of an aristocrat."
"…Many of the rooms are in mothballs and used as storage. They are full of dust that will need to be cleaned, furniture that is unfit to be used."
Oh. That makes more sense.
Come to think of it, you weren't given a choice of where your room would be.
You watch the two women stare at each other.
…Perhaps you should intervene?
It feels like a conversation going nowhere, and you really should assert yourself.
"Well, I am here at the request of His Majesty to provide my services to Her Highness. Perhaps we should invite her to settle this."
Ah. You've lost your ability to hide in the corner, it seems.
"…Yes, it is fair that Her Highness decides."
They both look at you, expectantly.
What… what are you deciding?
At any rate, they're both waiting for you to talk.
You try to sum up the conflict.
–Beatrice wants her choice of room, you begin.
His Majesty has only one room prepared.
It will take time, perhaps overnight, for a different room to be prepared.
In that case…
Both women look at you with their full attention.
It feels less like you're trying to find a compromise. You're picking a side.
The thought makes you pause, which gives you one last second to consider what to offer as a solution.
>…Beatrice should just accept the room given. For now at least. If she truly hates it, she can request one later. You don't know if the King will allow it, but… it's the most straightforward solution.
>Beatrice is an aristocrat and deserves a say. She should have her pick. If the maids truly can't get it prepared… you'll offer that she can sleep in your quarters, for the night.
Give Beatrice her choice of room
Hmm… I'm so glad I didn't find the main series back in the early days. Living with Vlad was seriously dangerous, and extremely depressing.
Option 1, if only because I don't see Princess Edwys being particularly self-confident. Not enough to hold up against Daniella, at least.
Gonna go with Option 2 simply because we need Beatrice to like us.
I agree that Edwys does not seem assertive enough for option two.
The way I see it is that because Beatrice can make our life easier or harder depending on her whims (to a point), her comfort is as important as ours. So, I would say that now would be a time to be assertive and self-confident, even if it's just a front.
Perhaps, but Daniella's scary and creepy, and we know full well she has the king's ear, even in-character.
We might be carrying a potential heir to Ruhemania, but we're dealing with an aging and unstable tyrant. No one will be safe until he's dead, and this iteration of the main character doesn't have the position or the opportunity to make that work for them.
>2 votes for option one, encourage Beatrice to accept the room give to her.
>2 votes for option two, intervene on Beatrice's behalf for her choice of room, offer to let her stay with you overnight.
We have a tie.
I will come back to this later, and if there is still a tie, I will flip a coin to decide the result. Then I will write the next update.
Please feel no urge to change your vote. Changing your vote will not make the update happen sooner.
I vote option two
>2 votes for option one, encourage Beatrice to accept the room give to her.
>3 votes for option two, intervene on Beatrice's behalf for her choice of room, offer to let her stay with you overnight.
Poll closed. Update soon.
This is ridiculous.
Of course, there's only one solution.
Beatrice deserves consideration. She must have her choice of room.
She's going to be a midwife to you. She'll be intimately involved in your pregnancy and those after.
…And you hope she'll become a dear friend.
Furthermore, and you hate to do it like this–
But Daniella is acting much too cavalier.
She's been borderline rude to Beatrice. She deserves proper manners shown to her, even if she's from Elbania. No, perhaps more so because of it.
Beatrice has been very polite. She deserves the similar consideration.
And if there truly is no other room open tonight… you'll share your own.
Hospitality knows no bounds.
Daniella lets you speak your piece. She does a good job holding down any negativity if she's feeling it.
Then she hangs her head.
"…Apologies, Your Highness. You are right in this matter. And I will correct myself."
–Well, that's good.
You add on that it was Beatrice who was wronged. Her apology would be better suited for her ears.
Daniella turns toward Beatrice and bows her head.
"Apologies, Lady Beatrice. I meant no disrespect."
You glance over for Beatrice's reaction.
You watch sort of loll her head.
"Mm. Well, you were only following His Majesty's command, weren't you? You can hardly be blamed for that, even if your method was a tad… brusque. I shall overlook it."
Beatrice returns to eating, leaving you to dismiss Daniella.
She promises to make arrangements to temporarily move Beatrice's things into your room for the night. She then departs, shutting the door behind her and leaving you both alone.
You can't help but feel some lingering unease.
You tell her that was very out of character for Daniella. She's not exactly talkative but she's normally more sympathetic.
Were you right in assuming it was because she was from Elbania?
Beatrice gives a brisk shrug with her neck.
"I don't see why it would. It's hardly another world, Your Highness. But, it's no matter. I've put it out of my mind."
She finally gives you a pleased little smile.
"Thank you for engineering that solution. Spending the night together will give me a fine opportunity to judge how your pregnancy is affecting you."
You hadn't considered that.
Really, you ask?
You have had trouble sleeping lately, now that Beatrice mentions it.
She nods her head.
"It's another normal sign that you're healthy, Your Highness. It will become important for you now and later to have the correct posture, even in bed. Especially when you're gravid and truly heavy with child."
You can't help but smile at that thought.
This was good. You're eager to learn all the good habits you can from Beatrice.
You find yourself looking forward to a new set of studies you can take to prepare yourself to be the perfect mother for your many children.
Tharja will be no doubt pleased too with what skills Beatrice will impart on you.
>No choice yet, further update coming soon.
You spend the rest of the day with Beatrice. You take it upon yourself to show her around the castle. At least, what you see of it.
You take her to the garden. Most of the work seems to be done. There's rows of earth, cordoned off by wooden fences, and a path with an archway. Benches are placed along the path scattered here and there. It leads to one outdoor table for two. You could imagine sharing a meal or tea with someone there.
You don't doubt it'll truly look wonderful when it's finished. But as of now, it almost feels… strange.
Like looking at a mannequin without a dress.
You look to Beatrice.
–Would she join you for a sit?
You're feeling a mite tired from the walk.
"Yes, I think that's appropriate, Your Highness."
You both settle on each side of the table. Beatrice easily and elegantly gathers her dress as she sits, like a true lady.
You were more looking for an excuse to have a quiet moment alone with Beatrice than a real break, but you think she's aware of that.
The setting is open enough to know no one is nearby to overhear, but public enough it doesn't feel scandalous to talk.
You should have a real conversation with Beatrice.
The question was where to begin…?
You decide to start with the obvious.
Has Beatrice been a midwife for long?
"Mm. I became intimately trained with the role fairly recently."
Has Beatrice been pregnant, herself?
You blurt the question out before you think too much of it.
At your query, she simply smiles. Like she's suppressing some amusement.
"Your Highness, there is no ring on my finger. And I traveled with no one but myself."
You can't help blushing, mortified at the insult you implied, unintentionally.
Of course Beatrice wouldn't have left a husband of hers behind, nor had a child out of wedlock… nor abandoned them.
You peep a small apology, unable to meet her eyes.
She waves her hand.
"It's all right. It's a fair, logical curiosity. But, no… you see, I'm fond of study. I took to reading when I was very young. I know many things, and women's health during pregnancy is one of them."
But, then… why?
Beatrice smacks her lips, closing her eyes and recalling something.
"A dear friend… she was pregnant and wasn't aware of that fact until the baby asserted itself. In the form of an aggressive display of her water, bursting. In public."
You cannot hope to hide the shock on your face. How could that poor girl not know? You keep your curiosity quiet this time and let her continue, unabated.
"As such, there was no time to summon anyone else. Not even a commoner who would be more suitable to getting her hands dirty. I had no choice other than to put what I remembered to use and help her breathe and calm herself. After that, I became known as a midwife and had people seeking me out. Of course, I could not possibly turn down a request from a King."
You nod along with her story. It sounds like Beatrice didn't choose to be a midwife. She had the role thrust upon her.
The book Beatrice carries must be one about women's health. It stands to reason that she would want to keep it close to refer to it.
"Would you like to know anything else, Your Highness?" she asks.
You try to think of how to steer the conversation.
>You want to know more about the nearby Kingdom. What is Elbania like? Was the journey as difficult as yours?
>Your curiosity is satisfied for now. If Beatrice likes studying, maybe offering to show her the library will get on her good side? Ask if she'd like you to show her where it is.
>It's not right to monopolize the conversation and not let Beatrice have her turn. Prompt her to ask you whatever she likes about your own history. If she's interested.
Option 2. Let's keep things civil. And alright, I'm metahaming a little. But keeping Edwys in the dark sounds like fun right now.
Lets go with 3 into 2. Answer a couple questions, then show her the library.
I'd like to have at least three votes, but it seems I have no choice.
>2 votes for option two, invite Beatrice to the library.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You thank Beatrice for indulging your nosy little questions.
As repayment, of a sorts… why don't you show her the library? What would she say to that?
Beatrice's eyes light up and you know you've suggested the right thing.
"I'd say, I'd be very interested, Your Highness. Books are so very rare."
…Are they, you ask?
"Oh, of course, It can take a lifetime of dedication to copy even one. Let alone write and create one from scratch. A full library is a precious thing."
You suppose you had taken it for granted.
You think having Beatrice around will definitely open your mind.
There's no sense in wasting time, and your legs feel a bit better.
You stand up and walk with Beatrice to the castle.
You wonder if Tharja will be there or you'll find it unoccupied. It could be a good chance for them to be introduced.
You'd like to think they could interact amicably… without him being attracted to her, of course.
Though, that may be impossible. Even as another woman you have to admire Beatrice's beauty. In her face, and figure. Her proportions are very close to the ideal for pregnancy and childbirth, as your training to be a good wife has taught you.
She'd surely make a good wife for someone someday. Perhaps you would be mothers together?
It's an interesting little thought you have to occupy yourself with as you both walk.
>No choice yet, further update coming soon.
You reach the library.
Tharja isn't around, but you expected that.
Beatrice takes in the library with delight. Her steps bold and proud as she strides into the room.
"My, my… this is a sight."
She gives some restrained laughter. It only occurs to you how big the library is now that you've heard Beatrice's giggling echoing against the walls. You close the door behind you, for fear the sound may travel too far. You place the torch you're carrying at the holder so you have your hands freed.
"May I…?" she asks, looking back.
It's open to you, and you therefore have the right to open it to Beatrice.
She examines one of the bookcases, smacking her lips.
It's more to herself than to you, otherwise you think you might have the presence of mind to be offended on THarja's behalf.
It never seemed to you that dusty, but you don't suppose you've been around to make sure it's upkept.
Beatrice turns back toward you.
"Won't you join me, Your Highness?"
"Are you not interested? You'll need a way to pass the time, in a way that doesn't tire you. It may improve your spirit to take up the hobby."
She has a playful smile on her face.
"Besides.. reading opens worlds you never knew existed."
There's an odd sort of twinkle in her eye as she tells you that. It's not unsettling, but you have the feeling you've been told something beyond the scope of your personal knowledge.
If Beatrice says so, it may be worth doing.
If Beatrice could learn how to midwife from books, you may be able to refine your maternal skills a bit better as well.
>No choice yet, further update coming soon.
You spend the rest of the day with Beatrice in the library.
It definitely got you on her good side, but it doesn't leave much time else for conversation.
You suppose that's all right.
The book she picks for you is interesting. It tells about the various animals found in Ruhemania.
You feel fortunate your escorts did not happen upon one of the aggressive bears described in that book. With how the book describes their strength, you think it possible you may not have survived.
You were hoping being in the library would also mean you'd encounter Tharja…
But he never appears, even when it's clear sunset has rolled in.
Beatrice is confused with why you look crestfallen when it comes time for you to go back to your room.
"What's wrong, Your Highness?"
Ah. You didn't tell her Tharja's room is at the very end of this hallway.
Maybe you should…?
>Share with Beatrice that Tharja's room is over there, and you hoped to meet him.
>Tell her it's nothing and return to your room together. It's been a long enough day.
Option 1. Why not share?
Option 1, If she's going to be staying with us for the duration of our pregnancy, she should learn about Tharja.
>4 votes for option one, share with Beatrice you hoped to meet Tharja, whose room is over there.
Confess your disappointment over Tharja.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You have some anxious thoughts about Beatrice knowing where Tharja sleeps… it might encourage her to make herself available to him.
But, that's silly.
It's just your mind running away with you.
Beatrice will live here and it's better that she knows.
You tell Beatrice that's Tharja's room down there. He really is in charge of the library and he's graciously allowed you to use it.
–Which you extend to Beatrice of course.
She spares a glance back, but that's all.
…You confess, you hoped to meet him while you were wasting time in the library.
You laugh a little, nervously.
Beatrice's lips purse.
"Oh. I see. My sympathies, Your Highness."
She gives you an understanding nod, and that's really all you could hope for from Beatrice.
You leave Tharja's wing with her.
You still hope maybe you'll see him as you make your exit, but it's not to be.
>No choice yet. Further update coming soon.
Hospitality knows no bounds.
…Those were your words when you spoke at the first meal together, but…
It's honestly a little embarrassing to share the same room as her.
You're used to servants waking you and seeing you undressed, of course, but not another woman of your standing.
You have to take turns using the modesty screen while dressing for bed, and knowing she's naked makes your cheeks flush.
Or maybe it's pregnancy…?
Pregnancy, yes, certainly.
There's no reason for a woman to have feelings over another woman.
"I say, thank you for the opportunity to change first, Your Highness."
…Is she all done, you ask?
"Yes, all done."
You turn back to her, and…
Her eveningwear isn't as layered as yours is. It easily shows off the shape of her breasts, which are very prominent.
There's even a flash of bare skin from the neckline that curves from the straps around her shoulders.
It's… indecent. You actually shudder when you see it.
You stammer out a thank you, then make your way behind the screen.
Your fears are confirmed when you strip down.
Your ladyparts are… inappropriately engorged.
Slick even, which you really weren't expecting.
Why was sharing a room with Beatrice arousing?
–You decide to push the thought out of your mind and take the nightgown in your hands.
"Oh, Your Highness?"
Beatrice's sudden interjection stops you.
Yes, you ask? Unable to keep the startled tone out of your voice.
"Since we're alone and have the opportunity, may I examine your body?"
She explains there are signs a midwife knows to look for during pregnancy that indicate how well and fast the baby is developing. Of course, it's best if you're naked for it.
Ah, what should you do…
If you let Beatrice see you like this, she'll definitely notice your inappropriate arousal.
… Though, was that so bad?
It's just a part of your pregnancy. She's likely seen it before. She'll let it pass without comment.
–Is what you tell yourself. But…
You have to voice your reply. You take a breath and tell Beatrice…
>You want her opinion and she's been nothing but considerate. Acquiesce and step out so Beatrice may see you naked.
>You just can't right now, it's too embarrassing. Make up some excuse not to do it.
>You should be honest. Confess to Beatrice you can't show her your body… because you're aroused.
Hm. Tough choice, but I think Option 3 fits best here.
Option 1, there's no reason to be ashamed of a natural human reaction.
Option one. Beatrice is a classy sort, so odds are she'll handle everything with tact.
For me it's option 3 the best
Please do not vote twice. Every person gets one vote. Otherwise, it just wouldn't be fair.
The vote is currently:>3 votes for option one.>2 votes for option three.
The vote is still open.
Please continue to vote.
Option 1, I think Beatrice knows enough about the female body to handle the situation correctly.
>4 votes for option one, step out, let Beatrice see you naked.
>2 votes for option three, confess you're shy due to arousal.
Swallow the anxiety and submit to Beatrice.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You're still blushing as you gently set the nightgown back over the divider.
You mustn't be coy.
You place your hands on top of your breasts, without covering your nipples, and tell Beatrice you'll come out.
It's just like being in front of a maid, you tell yourself.
Surely it won't be nearly as embarrassing as when you were discovered by those guards.
You step out, clad only in your slippers.
Beatrice looks you over, then beckons you closer.
"I will need to touch you, Your Highness."
You understand, you say, meekly.
She steps around you. You can feel her eyes hugging your figure. It's different from how a maid views you. You feel like Beatrice is really… appraising you. Knowing she's doing it reminds you of Tharja. The thought of him does little to calm the tingling between your legs.
"Let's start with your breasts."
She gently reaches her hands up, to settle both of her hands on each of your mounds. You squeak in surprise at being fondled.
"Are you very sensitive here, Your Highness?" she asks.
Y-Yes. You have been. They were one of the first signs that gave you hope you were pregnant.
Sometimes it hurt when you slept if you turned. Or if you had too much activity.
"Of course, I don't need to tell you that this is your body preparing your breasts to carry milk." Her fingers trace around your areola in a way that makes you shiver. "You'll notice further changes soon. Likely your nipple pigment darkening first. Then tiny bumps forming. Try to avoid anything that upsets them too much."
T-Thank you, you stammer.
Beatrice finally retracts her hands, a gesture that gives you both relief and disappointment.
Her gaze falls on your belly, next. You're proud to show off your bump, and you can't help but arch your back, putting yourself on display and making it jut out.
Beatrice smiles and takes the opportunity to pat your stomach, rubbing her hand over your small, hard little bulge.
"Already showing, I see."
Just the lightest, when you're naked.
Though you look forward to the time you are bigger. Burgeoning with life… obvious to all around you.
Beatrice turns up her head to you, looking surprised.
"Really? Few women would feel that way, Your Highness."
…Is that so?
You don't understand. You're pregnant. It's the greatest thing in the world for a woman. Of course you want people to see you.
–You did keep your pregnancy a secret, but that was because you still wanted Tharja's attention. And because you were so early you didn't even have a bump.
You for one are looking forward to your belly swelling. Of growing heavier. Your body changing…
You're almost about to go on, but…
Beatrice's hand shifts from your belly to down even lower, until she has her hand above your pubic mound.
O-Oh. Will she be examining there, too, you ask?
Beatrice nods and tells you of course she will. You swallow as the nervousness comes back to you, then shift and spread your legs.
It may be the closest anyone has looked at you down there, other than Tharja, and that priest.
You hear Beatrice make a little sound.
"Your Highness, are you aroused?"
You stiffen up at being 'caught'. Aroused with lust…?
You're sorry, you apologize.
Beatrice shakes her head.
"No need for that. It's usual during pregnancy, but usually later."
Beatrice stares directly, intently, at your crotch. So close you have to wonder what she's looking for.
"Your Highness… does pregnancy arouse you?"
The question shoots through you like an arrow.
Does it… arouse you, you repeat?
"The thought of being pregnant. Of taking a man's essence inside you. Of him filling you with his life-giving fluid. Of it clinging to your walls, sticky and wet. Of the seed taking root inside you, knowing what it means in ten months time. As your belly grows bigger… and bigger… and bigger…"
You have to beg Beatrice to stop talking.
You're so aroused you're feeling weak in the knees.
There's no question your fluids have made you wet. You can feel how tight your clitoris has become. You don't need to touch it. The feeling is just that intense.
"Your Highness… you have it, bad. Perhaps the most extreme case I've ever seen."
Beatrice looks up at you from below.
"You're in love with the idea of being pregnant. …In lust with it, too."
You're blush gets so strong you have to turn away.
You simply never thought of it in those terms, but…
You can't deny how true it feels. How right it feels. How it was so easy to devote yourself to pregnancy… it went beyond 'duty' didn't it?
"It's all right, Your Highness. It's not a bad thing."
She goes on to say that if your feelings are this strong, this could easily become a form of 'addiction'.
You're not familiar with the concept, but Beatrice explains it in terms that you'll want to be pregnant, over and over.
You can't stop your hips from giving a little thrust, and Beatrice lets out a long little hiss of a sigh.
"No, you're already there. In that case, you may as well embrace it. Live your dream. Pop out as many babies as you can."
Oh, that's so crude a way to put it. Yet, the idea does satisfy you.
Yes. There's no need to be worried about a pregnancy… addiction.
Tharja and His Majesty will appreciate that you're so devoted to motherhood. You don't plan to just be pregnant, but to be a good mother as well.
"Mm.I'll help you every step of the way, Your Highness."
Beatrice is so sweet.
You really would like to hug her, you realize, at hearing her promise such to be by your side through it all.
"…But, one matter remains, Your Highness."
Beatrice tells you that if you're this enamored with pregnancy, you're going to be even more sensitive and craving attention when your pregnancy truly advances.
"A very active libido is something that ebbs and flows, but I think yours may become a tidal wave."
… You feel indescribably naughty, but you can't deny that will likely be the case.
You'll simply have to beg Tharja for his help.
Beatrice looks at you with an unsure expression.
"Not to dishearten you, Your Highness, but what if the Crown Prince is unavailable?'
Oh. You did talk about how you wished to meet him. You may well have left Beatrice for a chance to be with him.
… You want to preserve your virtue, of course. You'd never do anything with another man besides Tharja.
But your memories of the scene with the guards catching you in the throes of your masturbation come back to haunt you. Who's to say you won't be alone, in your room or in the bath, and decide you need some 'relief'?
The priest would likely think of you as a whore when you confessed it.
…No. This smile is different from how she's smiled at you up until now.
"Your Highness, may I suggest a remedy you may find… extreme?"
What sort of remedy, you ask? Something like a tonic or medicine?
Beatrice gives a short shake of her head.
"Something like… this…"
She holds her hand up, displaying her soft fingers held together. She spreads her forefinger and middle finger apart, making an open V shape.
You know what she's suggesting.
She's suggesting she… satisfy you.
Isn't that betraying your marriage vow, you ask?
Beatrice laughs, a bit of a throaty laugh.
"Would you come to prefer the act to a night with His Highness? I doubt. Furthermore, I am your midwife. Taking care of all of the complexities of your pregnancy is my duty."
Your stomach turns in a knot. Your wet ladyparts burn with need.
You want to say yes. Especially when you're so keyed up and expecting sex. But…
… Is it really cheating if it's another woman? You don't know.
You bite your lip, and consider which part of you to listen to.
>Think with your aching womanhood. Nod and have Beatrice attend to satisfying your sexual desires. It's not cheating if it's Beatrice.
>Think with your gut. No, it's too much. You will deny any help.
>Think with your head. You'll turn your head and become interested in something else… if you don't see Beatrice touch you, then it's not truly an act you've initiated.
Option 3, I'm interested to see where that would go
>3 votes for option one, think with your aching womanhood.
>1 vote for option 3, think with your head.
Have lesbian sex with Beatrice.
Poll closed. Update soon.
Lust conquers all.
Please, God, yes.
Surprising even yourself, you voice your desire to Beatrice. You need someone's touch.
Your voice is a soft whine. You're thankful Beatrice is a woman. She understands, and she won't make you break your marriage vow.
Beatrice stands up, taking your hands in hers.
"Poor, sweet princess. Follow me to your bed, Your Highness."
…You feel as though you're in a dream.
But, still naked and aroused, you start to take steps toward the bed.
Each one sends a chill through your body.
Beatrice is going to touch you.
It's only been a day, but Beatrice and you are going to be much more than princess and attendant. Or even friends.
This will make you lovers, doing an act that can't be spoken of.
You can feel Beatrice's hand on your waist, just above your rear end, as she guides you to sit on the bed.
–Which you do.
>No choice yet. Further update coming soon.
Part of you still can't believe you're doing this. You've never felt more vulnerable.
There was your journey at sea, and traveling among the wretched men who ferried you to the castle, and your first time with Tharja, but those were part of your marriage. You anticipated a long journey. That Tharja may do with you what he wanted. And now…
You're willing going to have sex with another woman.
You climb on top of bed. You move your long hair so it doesn't get in the way, then you scoot your bare rear end on the covers until you're sitting in the middle of the bed… so positioned, you spread your legs.
You can't even bear to try to hide your most private area out of shame.
You need this.
Beatrice climbs on the bed with you, she climbs over your leg and settles down between the open slot you've given to her.
Oh God. Oh God. Oh God.
Your heart is pounding and your clit is throbbing as she casually tosses her hair behind her shoulders and then slides her arms under your legs.
Her forearms curl under your thighs and your hips forced to arch. She places one leg over each of her shoulders until your calves are resting on her back.
You watch her smack her lips, you see how her large breasts are pressed together between her body and the mattress as she leans down to your naked slit.
You feel her tongue on you. A soft, undeniable lick. It's like rubbing a cupped hand over your shame, only more intense.
"Your Highness, do not cry out. Hold your hands over your mouth if necessary."
O-Oh no. She's right.
You squeak an apology and do exactly as she says. It'd be terrible if someone caught you like this.
They wouldn't understand. You need this. You need someone's touch, and if it's Beatrice's, so be it.
You say a short prayer asking God to forgive you this surrender to your body's impulse as Beatrice licks you again.
Indeed, it's necessary for you to clamp your hands over your face. You shut your eyes tight. Every muscle in your body is taut.
She licks you again, and again, and you can feel your hips bucking back against her. Your feet stick straight out behind her back.
You're completely at Beatrice's mercy, but there's trust there as well.
This is all… part of her duty as a midwife. That's what you tell yourself while you can still think.
Unfortunately, that's not for very long.
Her tongue finds your clit and you curl in ecstasy.
It simply feels too good.
Her hands come up to spread your vulva open to better navigate your lips, slick with arousal and Beatrice's saliva.
Her lips nudge against yours as she places her face closer. You can feel her breath tickling your skin.
Her lips nudge your hood and you can feel your back arch even more. It's not a hard press, but a gentle sort of pucker…
You realize you're breathing faster, much faster.
Your hands are curled up around your chin and you realize you could be stimulating yourself.
One hand goes to your breast, seeing how tender your nipples feel. Another goes to your bump.
…You can't deny stroking your own midsection gives you a sense of pleasure. It's its own sort of fantasy in the manner Beatrice described. You're… going to get bigger. And bigger.
Your lips curl in the thought as you feel Beatrice experimenting with sucking at your clit.
At that… you begin to become unglued.
Her touch, licks, and lips, combined with your own fantasy are simply too much.
You see white as you moan into your hands and arch your back against Beatrice's mouth. Your toes curling inward as you extend even more and all but hump against her face.
If someone had told you when you woke up you would have another woman's face in your crotch licking you to satisfaction, you would have been mortified.
Now? You're rejoicing at the feeling of heaven between your legs.
You come, hard. You can feel your legs shaking and sliding around Beatrice's back, and then slowly go numb…
You slowly dissolve into a soft mound of flesh, stimulated to satisfaction and needing a rest.
Beatrice slowly lifts and lowers your legs. You're aware of her setting you back down, softly, as if you were a doll that needed consideration.
"I hope that satisfies you well, Your Highness.," she says, tone soft. "Enjoy the night, I'll cover you up."
Oh, you remember. They arranged some of your furniture into a temporary bed for Beatrice. She's likely tired, too.
She's moving to extricate herself from you.
>Call out and invite Beatrice to share your bed. (Edwys will grow more fond and affectionate of Beatrice.)
>Let yourself drift off to sleep.
Tough call, but I'm going to go with Option 2.
>4 votes for option one, invite Beatrice to your bed.
>1 vote for option two, let Beatrice go and drift off to sleep.
Invite Beatrice to your bed. (Grow fonder of her.)
Poll closed. Update soon.
This thread has been active for 5 years?!
Yes it has. Though it's a bit older because it started on bbwchan when the Impregnator Kings story was temporarily held there due to pregchan being down. The longevity is more due to focusing on Impregnator Kings than this one.
You let out a soft whimper.
Beatrice looks back to you, surprised.
You bite your lip and try to think of words, but none will come. Partially because it'd sound silly, and partially because you don't know what to say.
Instead, you hold out your arms, as if you're waiting to be embraced.
You watch Beatrice blink her eyes. Then, she smiles.
She climbs on top of you, almost mounting you like a man would.
But instead, her hand comes up to caress your hair and brush it away from your face.
… You stare up into Beatrice's soft blue eyes and feel the warmth there. A feeling you had begun to crave.
Then, her face descends to softly plant a kiss to your lips.
…They're hot, and wet, but so are yours.
Moreover, her kisses feel… good.
Knowing you're crossing a line, you start to kiss back.
You kiss. Beatrice kisses. You kiss again, and then you find a rhythm of kissing each other at once.
Before you realize what's happening, you're shutting your eyes and accepting her tongue.
You're not even trying to imagine it's Tharja or any male lover. Beatrice's soft curvy body and her generous breasts pressed against yours would destroy such a fantasy.
…Even then you can't and won't ignore it's Beatrice making you feel this way.
You pause only to breathe as your sinful kissing session continues.
At some point, you feel Beatrice spread her legs and wrap around your thigh. Your legs embrace it and wrap around her from sheer instinct. You start thrusting your hips, as if wanting to be bred.
Beatrice meets the thrusting of your hips with her own, and keeping your mouths pressed against each other is the only way to suppress your mutual moans. Delectable pleasure comes from sliding your crotch in needy motions against her soft thighs.
Even the rubbing of her breasts against you is giving you stimulation, and you feel on the verge of coming again. It's at that moment when she slides against you in just the right way to coax another orgasm out of you.
Your bodies shudder together in ecstasy, and that's when you separate enough to breathe. Both of your breaths coming in hot panting.
You're hot and more than a little sweaty, but eventually you both succumb to drowsiness and fall asleep in each other's arms. Your mouth is burning, your tongue is hurting, but you don't care.
Your heart warms and burns in thanks for this mysterious and beautiful Beatrice.
>No choice yet. Further update coming soon.
It's a foregone conclusion. Beatrice chooses the room close to you for her own.
It allows her to come to your room easily to advise you how your pregnancy is developing. But more than that, it allows her to visit you at night when there's the least possible chance you'll be detected.
Your relationship soon goes beyond sexual. She spends much telling you how beautiful you look and how sweet you are. You eat up her compliments.
Tharja appears less at meals for you. When he asks for you at night, you're almost disappointed.
Then he lavishes attention on your belly and holds you in his arms and you feel much better.
Unfortunately, those times are very few compared to how eager Beatrice is to be with you.
It conflicts with your heart, but you know Tharja is your husband and Beatrice is your midwife.
A few months pass. Your belly is not large enough that your dresses must be sewn around it. You cannot hide your bump even when you go about your daily routine.
The garden is completed, and beautiful. It becomes a lovely activity to spend time there on sunny days. Though the bees give you some nerves.
Your belly button is still inward, but you know your body is growing. Beatrice assures you that soon you'll reach a point you simply know you're pregnant and everyday motions will be a strain.
But that's fine.
You anticipate such things. It's no different than growing your hair as long as it is.
One day, you decide you've put it off long enough and decide to wash your hair. You arrange for the maids to set up enough water, soap, and oils. You don't dare try to do it yourself.
It turns out to be Daniella who helps you. It's been some amount of time since you've been alone with her.
Unfortunately she's been rather distant since Beatrice arrived. Though you're not sure why. You hope she wasn't too offended by your intervention back then.
You recline naked in the water as Daniella tends to you. Her hands are dutiful and attentive.
You can't help showing off just a little bit.
Your body has changed, hasn't it? You ask rhetorically.
"It is a fine bump you've developed, Your Highness. May your firstborn be a healthy boy for you."
You nod. Honestly whether it's a boy or a girl only matters so much as Tharja and his obligations are concerned. You'll love whichever child you have with as much love as you can spare.
But you don't dare say that, knowing it may find its way to the King, so you simply nod.
"…Your Highness. May I speak?"
You can't help turning your head a little.
What is it, you ask?
Daniella carefully washes soap through your hair, gently stirring out dust.
"Lady Beatrice. She's fond of carrying that book with her."
You suppose so. You never really thought of it. She sets it down occasionally, but…
You can't remember. The only time you think she may not have it is when you spend the night with her.
You blush at the thought of telling Daniella that.
"I want it."
You can't turn your head anymore than you've already turned it without putting too much pressure on your hair.
Why does she want it, you ask?
"I can't explain. I think I've seen one like it. I want to check."
…Does Daniella know how to read, you ask?
"I do. It's a skill His Majesty demanded I acquire."
That gives you a little bit of a shock. For what purpose? –Searching out books, apparently.
"I only need a glimpse. Just when Lady Beatrice is not there to know what I'm doing. I swear, Your Highness, I have no ill intentions."
It still seems a very funny request.
She can't just ask Beatrice herself?
"No, I cannot, Your Highness. She will not allow it. But I need only a glimpse."
This is strange. You want to just run away from Daniella's request.
But you can't. You're nude and trapped in the tub, in the same room as her.
You feel a sudden chill over the parts of you that are above the warm water.
"Please, Your Highness. I beg you."
Her tone sounds sincere. For whatever reason, it seems she really does want to see that book.
…Maybe it wouldn't hurt? What Beatrice doesn't know won't hurt her. If Daniella really wants to see it, you can probably find a time Beatrice will be away from it.
Though the idea makes your blush deepen.
>Agree. You'll help Daniella see Beatrice's book.
>This is too creepy. Make an excuse that you can't because Beatrice will never let you see it, either. Then, secretly tell Beatrice what Daniella asked you. (Fondness for Beatrice will increase.)
>You simply have to know why. Push Daniella to answer why she must need to see her book that much. Not that you'll agree either way.
Pretending for a moment, the main story line doesn't exist, option three is the only reasonable answer to such a weird request.
Is this an actual vote, or just discussion of a vote? Please be clear with your votes, everyone.
Please continue to vote.
Sorry. Yes, I vote for option three.
Option 2, though I do NOT want to be caught out like this again…
Option three. Kinda feel like we were too hasty to go all in on Beatrice like that, but what's done is done and it sounds like Tharja isn't paying as much attention to us as we'd like anyway. Curiosity, at the very least, demands more information before we can make a further choice.
I don't want to end a vote after only three votes, but I know the side-story gets less attention than the main story. I will give it another day or so.
The current vote is:
>1 vote for option two, make an excuse that Beatrice would never allow you to see her book, then secretly tell Beatrice about Daniella's interest later. (Fondness for Beatrice increases.)
>2 votes for option three, push Daniella to explain why she must see Beatrice's book, though make no promise either way.
The vote is still open. If you have not used your one vote, you are free to do so.
>1 vote for option two, make an excuse why you can't and then tell Beatrice about Daniella's request later.
>3 votes for option three, push Daniella to explain why she needs Beatrice's book, without committing.
Ask for more information from Daniella.
Poll closed. Update soon.
Then, you feel the sunlight from the window suddenly shadowed over you. You look up and see Daniella looming over you.
"I am no longer asking," she says.
"You will get that book for me."
… Her tone is hard, flat, menacing.
You feel a rush of terror come over you.
No servant has dared ever talked this way to you, in your entire life.
You… you won't, you assert.
Daniella's eyes narrow at you.
"Yes, you will."
You're about to work yourself up to protest further.
But Daniella's next words cut your objection short.
"I know about your nightly visits with Lady Beatrice, Your Highness."
… Your eyes widen and you let out a helpless little gasp.
Daniella is merciless as she continues to speak:
"…I know what you do together. Your sex. The way you cry out…"
"…You are not nearly as stealthy as you believe you are…"
"…The only reason more do not know is because of my direct intervention…"
"…Believe me. Your 'dalliance' with Lady Beatrice is adultery…"
"…Grounds for annulment…"
"…The babe in your womb is not yet born. It will be illegitimate and have no claim to Ruhemania's throne…"
"…You will be sent home…"
"…will you have another husband in such a state…?"
"…agree to what I ask, or I will go to the King…"
"…And you will suffer, little princess!"
Daniella's eyes stare at you, intense.
Your mind recalls what you read about handmaidens back when you browsed the library on a whim. That a maid like Daniella secretly believes herself to be your master.
It was true! All of it was true!
You should have listened… if only you listened…
In the end, you can't do anything.
You break down and cry at what Daniella has threatened you with.
You do your best to muffle your sobs as you agree to do whatever she says.
You're aware of Daniella coming to kneel beside you, now offering soothing little sounds.
"There, there… Your Highness. This will be all I ever ask of you. When it's over, I will forget about what we've talked about, and it will be as if nothing ever happened."
Her words do nothing to calm your emotions, but they do at least give you hope.
Daniella instructs you.
She will give you time.
You are absolutely not to directly ask Beatrice for her book. Beatrice will never surrender her book, for even a moment.
However, she may leave it unattended.
You must find out exactly when and at what time, then tell Daniella. You are not allowed to fail.
You must distract Beatrice yourself if necessary.
"You already know how to do that," Daniella says, mockingly.
It makes your skin crawl to be used in such a way, but you truly have no choice.
Of course, breathing a word to Beatrice will be found out by Daniella. Daniella will immediately report your adultery with Beatrice to the King, in such a case.
Dishonor, annulment, and banishment will surely follow.
You can't avoid your daily routine. Which… involves Beatrice coming to your room. To satisfy you sexually.
She sometimes has her book, but not always.
You wait, and watch, and try to find a pattern… but it truly seems random.
You can't think of a way to tell Daniella once Beatrice arrives, either, if she weren't to have her book.
At any rate, you reach your 7th month of pregnancy.
Your belly is truly big. You're aware you're pregnant and people are even more considerate of you.
You wish you could share in the joy, but the demands of Daniella weigh on you.
The air is cooling and the seasons are turning to autumn.
Your garden will slowly die when winter comes.
You only hope you'll be there to see it bloom again.
You're walking along with Beatrice among the flowers.
"I say, Your Highness. Are you calm?"
…No, you confess. You're tired and weary most days.
She gives a delightful little giggle.
"That's completely normal. Just leave most other concerns behind and get better at walking. The babe inside you is growing much faster. You'll soon have a gait that won't make it easy to balance."
You've explained your moods as pregnancy-induced. To some extent, they are.
But Beatrice is so much of a friend. You hate to betray her over something so… stupid.
This garden… some of the leaves have withered. The flowers as well.
Thicker areas seem thinner. It'd be hard for anybody to hide among the plants.
You glance to and fro from where you both stand. There doesn't seem to be anyone around. Not a servant. Not anyone.
Perhaps… perhaps if you kept your voice down, you won't be overheard? You could tell Beatrice of the mess you're in. Maybe… maybe she'd allow Daniella to see her book, just for a moment.
You could confess the plot to Beatrice. All of it. Maybe… maybe she'd allow Daniella to see her book, just for a moment.
But anxiety gnaws at you. What if the wind carries your words to somewhere Daniella hears?
Or otherwise she sees you talking and assumes you broke down.
Your breathing becomes shallower as you face indecision.
Beatrice… has been a good friend. And a bit of something more. A sort-of lover.
But Daniella holds the keys to your marriage.
What do you do? What can you do?
>Lower your voice and as softly as possible, confess the entire plan to Beatrice.
>Say nothing. Find a pattern for when Beatrice leaves her book unattended. Report it to Daniella and fulfill your part of the deal to protect your marriage. (GAME OVER. Edwys will live, but it will be bittersweet.)
I really don't think Edwys is the type for covert ops in any form. And she knows that. Better doubling down on honesty.
Option 1. It seems time to kill this universe's Daniella as well.
To be honest, we should also consider ending the sexual aspect of our relationship with Beatrice anyway. If Daniella could figure it out, others can too, and we're two months away from not having the easy cover of pregnancy to explain why our midwife is spending so much time with us. It would be wise to protect ourselves, our children, and our relationship with Tharja.
>3 votes for option one, confess the scheme to Beatrice and sabotage Daniella.
Confess what Daniella is doing to Beatrice.
Poll closed. Update soon.
Pain wells inside your heart.
You're risking your marriage, your reputation, and your future children, all for Beatrice's sake. Not even Beatrice, but the sake of her possessions.
You can't lie to her. You can't let yourself become that sort of terrible, deceptive person.
Words tumble from your mouth.
You tell Beatrice that Daniella means to spy on her book.
She's looking for any time she will set it down and leave it unattended.
She knows of your shared relationship and is blackmailing you to help.
Despite your words…
Beatrice just continues smiling.
"Tell her you think she will find it tonight in my room."
You don't even nod. You're feeling stark terror.
Will your warning come to Daniella's ears? Moreover… is Beatrice really allowing it?
She… she's a true friend.
You want to cry. You want to cry with all your heart.
But you simply can't let yourself. You let your eyes burn and mist.
You instead turn and try to hide it by peering at the sun.
You separate from Beatrice and find Daniella.
You tell her you've been keeping track of when Beatrice has her book, and she shouldn't have it with her tonight.
When you're… meeting.
"That is good. I need only a glance. After this night, it will be as if nothing ever happened, Your Highness."
Your heart feels like it may burst in your chest, but you nod.
It seems Daniella doesn't know about your confession to Beatrice. Your deception to her.
You only hope everything works out.
You're still a mess of emotions when the arranged time comes.
Beatrice arrives in her usual clothes. No matter how often you met, you weren't so brazen that Beatrice arrive at your room wearing her nightgown.
You on the other hand, are.
Beatrice steps inside, shuts the door, and then looks at you.
"Not like that, Your Highness. Get dressed in your normal clothes. Quickly with all haste."
You don't understand why, but you decide not to question her. You put your nightgown aside and dress yourself again.
Your relationship with Beatrice is so personal you don't even bother with the modesty screen.
When you're done, you start to ask Beatrice what she wants to do…
But she raises a finger to her lips.
"Simply wait. Observe."
You both stand together for whole minutes.
It's not very good for your increasingly pregnant form. You at least would like to sit down.
But you're nervous, so you wait with her.
You hear a crashing from down the hall.
It's loud, like a door has been burst open.
It gives you a start and you cry out, but Beatrice touches your arm.
"Wait," she whispers.
There's about another minute before Beatrice speaks again.
She turns, and goes to your door, pulling it open.
You're not sure what is going on, but you have no choice but to follow her.
You don't go far.
Beatrice's room is broken into. The door is violated.
It appears something was set behind it to keep it from opening normally and easily.
But moreover… there's smoke coming from inside the room.
You're afraid, but Beatrice is strong, fearless, and stalks closer.
You all but waddle behind her like a duckling. What on Earth is playing out here??
In your wildest dreams, you never imagined something like this.
You both reach the doorframe and see…
It's Daniella, but as you've never seen her before.
She carries a torch, as well as a machete. There are sharp things attached to her belt. Her hair is tied back as if she were to go horseback riding.
Beatrice's book lies center in the room. Right upon the cold stone of the floor.
Daniella drops the machete, reaches in her pocket, and brings up some flask of… oil?
The book is doused in it in one move of her wrist.
You can only watch her face, eyes focused on Beatrice with a burning hatred.
Never will you forget the malevolence there.
She lowers the torch.
Beatrice's book ignites immediately.
And Beatrice… screams.
You join in. This is too much. You are pregnant, and hormonal, and moody, and tired, and why is this happening?!
You can vaguely see Daniella smile, the flame lighting up her features. She dips her torch into the book over and over.
"What on Earth do you think you're doing?!" Beatrice finally shouts.
There's a long moment where Daniella blinks, and then her disgusting smile turns to a look of complete and utter shock.
"You… but, you…"
Beatrice places her hands on her hips.
"What is the meaning of this?! That you break into my private room and burn my personal property? My book which I need to do the work your King summoned me to do??"
Daniella, who formerly looked possessed, now stands shocked to her toes.
Instead of dropping her things, she idly stirs the book even more. Ashes are jumping everywhere as more and more of it is consumed.
"Stop, you stupid maid! You're going to burn the entire room!"
Daniella stares, dumbfounded, still touching bits of Beatrice's book with her torch.
It's at that point that Beatrice turns, takes your hand, and leads you away.
"Guards!! Guards! Help!!"
You're confused, but you join in Beatrice's shouting.
You don't know what has happened to Daniella, you just want it to stop.
Fortunately for you both, it doesn't take long before you hear footsteps in the halls and guards arrive.
The guards take Daniella away. Where, you don't know.
Beatrice's entire room is burned, but the fire is extinguished.
Since your room is so close, you are allowed to move.
The maids prepare a new room far away from the shell of Beatrice's room, and you are both left to sleep in it.
Before rest, the guards inform you of the situation.
Both you and Beatrice will be placed before the King tomorrow.
The guards wish you both your best, and especially tell you they hope you are taking care due to your condition. They offer you anything they can provide.
…You ask them to please ask the maids for a second chamberpot. You feel nauseous from the smoke.
You are brought to the throne room the next day.
Beatrice is with you.
The King sits upon his throne. He is as old as ever. His crown sits upon his head.
There are many soldiers. Some have their weapons drawn. And the reason why…
…is Daniella. She's wearing a tattered white smock which barely covers her. Her hands are bound in chains behind her back. Another collar attached to her neck.
She's been forced on her knees in a position which simply can't be comfortable. As if being forced to prostrate.
You beg the guard if you can please have a chair. Your legs simply can't take it.
He looks to the King, who nods.
Beatrice is brought one too.
There's a hush from everyone. You know they're waiting for the King to speak.
"Daniella… my trusted maid who has served me personally since she's come of age… you are accused of a grave crime."
Violating the safety and privacy of an aristocrat.
Destroying an aristocrat's property.
Endangering the safety of the entire castle and its residents.
Disobeying direct orders from an aristocrat, made fairly and appropriately.
Departing from her assigned duties.
Misusing official castle tools.
"Furthermore, this is all compounded by the fact it was directed toward a guest in our country. It is as if you attacked Elbania itself, on my behalf. Such actions lead to conflict between nations."
Daniella says nothing.
The King's eyes turn to Beatrice.
"Lady Beatrice, from Elbania, please tell what you saw and experienced."
Beatrice gives her account of the events. As your midwife, she attended to you in a time leading up to your sleep. As she does every night, to ensure your sleeping posture is correct, that you are in good health, and that your pregnancy is developing smoothly.
"We heard a noise from the hall. We weren't sure what it was. We both came down the hall together. I was concerned about leaving Her Highness alone for even a moment and never expected to see what I saw."
She describes Daniella as she was last night. How she was burning a book she uses in reference regarding pregnancy.
The King interrupts.
"Why were you not carrying it with you?"
Beatrice does not hesitate.
"The information I use when I check on Her Highness is charted to the phases of the moon. As the moon is still in its current phase, I had no reason to reference it again."
Is that true? That's why she had it some nights and sometimes not?
You almost want to gasp at how silly a reason that is. That Daniella did all that for the sake of a book of charts about the stars in the sky.
Beatrice goes on to further explain it has to do with diet and restlessness.
The King nods his head.
Beatrice continues how she pulled you away, realizing she was armed and violent, and you both called for the guards.
"That is all."
All in all, Beatrice is rather straightforward. She doesn't describe the crazed look in Daniella's eyes. Or the way she said 'burn' with such… evil. Nor the shock when Beatrice started demanding she stop.
"Very well," says the old King. Then, his face shifts to turn toward you.
"Your Royal Highness, Princess Edwys, wife of my only son, carrier of my future grandchild… hope of my beloved Ruhemania… tell what you saw and experienced," he asks.
…Dare you mention the scheme?
… No. You dare not mention it.
You repeat it's as Beatrice says. You heard the noise. You went with her to investigate, you saw Daniella. There was no mistaking it as Daniella.
You try to think of something else to add, but instead you just start babbling about how tired you were and affected by the oil and flame.
The guards and maids were very kind, but you slept very poorly.
The King has no questions, neither does he stop you, even when your talk turns to emotional venting about just how tired you were. He lets you say all you wish, until you have no more to say.
"Is that all?" he asks.
Your voice is hoarse. That is all, you squeak.
"Very well," he echoes.
You watch his chest rise as he takes a breath.
"Daniella, do you deny any of these accounts?"
Daniella sits with her head bowed. You're not sure if it's respect, fear, or just because her collar is too heavy.
"No, Your Majesty."
The King smacks his lips.
"Do you have anything further to explain yourself or otherwise add that would add to my understanding before I make my Royal judgment? My word is final and will not be reconsidered."
Your eyes widen.
This is where Daniella talks about your infidelity. You know it is.
She'll escape somehow, she will.
The hairs on the back of your neck are standing up as you sweat.
"–No, Your Majesty."
The King looks out over you all. The guards still have lances pointed at Daniella, as if she were a collared animal.
"The crime is accused, witnessed, and the perpetrator admits to her guilt. There is no room for error. Daniella is guilty."
The King looks back to Beatrice again.
"Can any coin price be paid for the loss of your property?" he asks.
Beatrice all but scoffs.
"No coin could repay the loss of my book. A necessity in my trade. Unique."
The King nods.
"You judge fairly. It is therefore appropriate the price be paid in blood and flesh."
King Vlad looks down at Daniella again.
"Daniella… are you sorry?"
You're a bit shocked by the question.
Is she… sorry?
Is Daniella a simpleton? Why would the King talk so plainly to her?
Then, it occurs to you that this is Daniella's chance to say 'yes, of course I am.' A way for her to beg for mercy.
You let out a breath, wondering at your idiocy.
Daniella lifts her head. You hear her voice.
–It's the same tone as she used when she said 'burn'.
It makes your skin crawl.
This is… lunacy. Why would she say such a thing? To the King himself?
The King for his part, simply sighs.
"I must interpret Daniella's words as a lack of remorse. Though she stands guilty of a crime which cannot be undone. A grave crime that threatened this castle. I can only interpret her lack of remorse as a personal sign of disrespect and disobedience to myself, the Crown, King Vlad, of Ruhemania, and therefore all of Ruhemania. Its people. Its land. The very sun and sky. I can, therefore, only offer one punishment."
There's a stark silence as he stops talking. The entire room is fixated on him other than the guards attending Daniella.
You yourself are also staring at him. True awe has captivated and inspired you. Is this how a King must judge everything? His words command a respect you've never before witnessed. Despite his age, he seems the most powerful man in the world.
His eyes are…
If you didn't know better, you'd think he was about to cry.
"A stake will be sharpened," he says.
No sooner does he speak then the guards surrounding Daniella start to forcefully pull her away. They give her no opportunity to stand.
She makes no move. She only winces as strain is put on her body.
…What does that mean, you ask?
You try to lean over to a guard close to you.
What does that mean??
The guard stirs, uncomfortable. He simply must know.
Beatrice pats your hand.
"Your Highness. We should go."
>Ask the guard again, what does it mean?
>Listen to Beatrice and let it go.
Damnit. I wanted a sex scene with her…
Option one. Might as well rip the bandaid off.
Option 2. Good writing btw.
Option 2. Edwys has known enough horror for one day.
There will be time for learning later.
Also damn… Kinda wished that we could have done something different at some point regarding Daniella so that it wouldn’t end with her death again. But I understand why it had to be done.
Option 2. Edwys will find out soon enough what it means, no sense in causing a scene in the king's court.
As an aside, and I think I know the answer since he wasn't mentioned, but is Tharja present?
Tharja is not present at the described trial and judgement of Daniella. Only Beatrice, Edwys, and then Daniella and King Vlad themselves. Plus guards.
>1 vote for option one, ask the guard again and insist on hearing.>4 votes for option two, listen to Beatrice and leave without an answer.
Let it go, don't insist on knowing Daniella's fate.
Poll closed. Update soon.
Pity Vlad never got along with his Turkish neighbors. You'd think his skill with making shish kebabs would've made a great icebreaker, but…
Whatever it means, you know it must be bad.
You let it go. Daniella is off to a fate you don't want to be a part of.
You rely on Beatrice's support as you both rise to your feet.
The guards escort you back to your shared room.
You overhear later the maids talk about how hard it will be to replace Daniella.
That's all you hear about her, ever again.
Your rooms aren't repaired quickly. You now share a room together with Beatrice from sunrise to sunset.
You try to tell Beatrice that you both must end your… 'sessions'.
She gives you a kiss and traces your chin with her soft finger.
"It's all right, Edwys. I've kept track of the maids. I know exactly when they linger. They will never, ever, hear us."
You couldn't resist if you wanted to. There are days you need sexual gratification so much you can barely stand.
Beatrice's tongue is all that satisfies you. More than that, her kisses comfort you.
…Tharja does not comfort you.
You haven't so much as seen Tharja since before Daniella's trial. He's not at meals, he's not in his library, he's not in his room on the times you go with Beatrice to see if he's there.
A month passes.
You're even bigger, now.
Beatrice truly has her work cut out for her, but no matter how much she massages and adjusts you, you feel pain.
Pain from lying down. Standing up. Sitting.
Your breasts have inflated even larger. It's as if you're carrying two watermelon on top of a large pumpkin. Only all there are attached to your body.
And Beatrice tells you that you'll spend another month like this, perhaps two.
"Do you regret it, Your Highness? Does it taper your enthusiasm?" she asks.
You shake with mirth and merriment, then stroke your belly.
Never. Never in the entire world would you give it up.
You stroke your belly more and feel the babe inside give you a healthy, rowdy kick.
Surely it will be a boy. You hope so.
Tharja will be happy if it's a boy. You may see him more when he visits his son.
…Tharja hasn't been around to even feel your baby kick.
The idea makes you cry.
Fortunately, Beatrice is there to stroke your hair and give you the emotional support you need.
"…I'll try to find a way, Your Highness."
You blink as Beatrice speaks the words.
A way to what…?
She tells you never mind. To just trust her.
You can't do anything else.
Another month passes.
You're… huge. Any impatience you had about not developing a bump fast enough seems ridiculous by now.
The oils and lotions you requested from the King have spared your belly ugly stretch marks.
Though honestly, you're wondering if maybe you should have let your skin acquire them. Like a badge of honor.
…No, that's all right. You'll take your beautiful skin.
The tailor has had to design a whole new dress for you. You can't help requesting it hitch around your belly to show it off.
One perk is that people are acquiescing to whatever you want. You only need breathe the word and a maid or even a guard will fetch what you desire or help you.
It makes you feel truly like a Princess.
…Though Beatrice helps you most of all.
The autumn days are becoming shorter. You're only thankful you'll give birth before the full winter hits.
–Or so is your hope.
Your baby will come when it wants to.
One day, Beatrice tells you she'd like to see something. But it's in the library. As she's not personally been able to gain your husband's permission, will you extend it to her on his behalf?
She really wants to go to the library.
Of course, you agree.
"What I'd really love is if you'll accompany me, Your Highness," she says.
You nod. You really should get the exercise, even if it's to immediately sit down in the library.
You and Beatrice travel to the library.
Or rather, Beatrice walks and you shift awkwardly from leg to leg as you waddle.
Your belly is so big it practically shakes to the side with each step, to say nothing of your breasts.
You feel more like a bag with a baby in it than a woman, but that's all right.
It feels… right, to be pregnant like this.
You can only await the next one.
You enter the library. There's no sign Tharja is around.
Beatrice sets a torch she brought in a holder. Then…
…she takes a heavy desk, lifts it, and puts it in front of the door?
Beatrice moves two chairs out. One without hand-rests to accommodate your bloated body, and one normal for her.
You question about her barring the door must wait. You're too eager for the chance to rest your strained feet, aching legs, sore hips, tortured back and entire body. You plop down immediately.
You have no concern for decorum. Not anymore and not when it's just Beatrice. You splay your legs and let your arms hang as you just breathe.
"Apologies for the exertion, Edwys."
It's all right. You say.
You did need the exercise.
But you're not sure you have the capacity for any reading, you confess.
Beatrice may do as she likes, of course.
You fan yourself with a hand, suddenly hot.
Beatrice comes closer.
She puts a hand up and strokes your hair.
It's a tender gesture you normally only share in the bedroom.
"Your Highness… Edwys… Dear…"
Her tone is suddenly serious.
"Do you trust me?"
You blink at the question.
Do you trust… Beatrice?
You can't think too hard about the answer. You're just too tired.
So you give her your surface thoughts.
>Of course. Of course you trust Beatrice. Always.
>You do, but Beatrice has done some strange things… the meaning of which you didn't understand.
No write-ins for this choice, please.
Option 2. I trust her, but there's some weirdness going on that even Edwys must have caught on to- not least of which barricading us in the library like this.
>1 vote for option one, Edwys completely trusts Beatrice.
>2 votes for option two, Edwys trusts Beatrice, but doesn't understand why she's done certain actions.
Trust, tempered with confusion with her actions.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You do trust Beatrice, but…
Honestly, you've been confused by her actions at times.
She tilts her head.
"Oh? When did I do something strange?"
Thoughts swirl over the past few months.
You vaguely recall that Daniella… her entire demeanor as you knew it changed since Beatrice arrived.
Moreover, that book… the first thing Daniella asked for was that book, and Beatrice held on to it.
That's when Daniella eventually brought it up again.
You were in the bath with her. In a manner you couldn't leave. You were naked, pregnant, and she was bending right over you. There was no way you could escape the situation.
Neither did she explain why she wanted that book, besides 'a glance' at it, and that everything she was threatening you with would be forgotten.
…Why did Beatrice move the desk in front of the door just now?
And when you're so heavily pregnant…?
You can't move it back. Not easily.
"It's not to keep you here with me, Edwys. It is to keep others out. I assure you. Furthermore, I intend to explain everything to you."
She urges you on.
"Was there anything else?" she asks.
Before that terrible night, you blurted out what was happening to Beatrice in the garden.
She didn't get angry. She didn't get upset. She looked completely undisturbed by it.
She didn't ask any questions about why Daniella would want such a thing.
She simply said what line to feed Daniella. To have her make a move that night.
Beatrice listens to you with bated breath. She looks at you with… you're not sure what sort of emotion.
Happiness? She's pleased, but there's no actual joy in her smile.
"Yes, yes. Go on."
Then when Beatrice arrived, she had you dress in your usual clothes. Then you both waited beside the door. Then when the noise of Daniella breaking the door was heard, Beatrice had you wait a moment… and it was only then that you both left.
It would've made more sense if you both left right when the noise was heard. Or at least if you had been in your night clothes if you were planning on sleeping.
You almost forgot among the image of Daniella looking so violent and ghastly.
But there was an object behind the door in Beatrice's room.
It was holding the door shut.
Meaning Daniella would have had no choice but to break it to get inside the room, and the door too.
If you had gone right when the sound was heard, you would have caught her when the door was broken but she hadn't yet reached Beatrice's book.
If you had worn your night clothes, you may have hesitated at following Beatrice. Or at the very least, people may have asked questions about why you were dressed for bed when your midwife was servicing you.
In front of the King, Beatrice made no description of what Daniella looked like.
No mention of how shocked she looked that Beatrice yelled at her to stop. No mention of how she kept trying to burn her book.
No mention of the malevolent look on her face that screamed how much she hated Beatrice.
None of that.
There was no talk of 'why' Daniella did what she did in the entire judgement.
Beatrice didn't talk about it, and when it was your turn, you just went along with what she said, hormones and your sleeplessness making you ramble about your aching body instead of your shock about wondering why Daniella would do such a thing that… formerly didn't fit her personality as a dutiful maid.
You thought Daniella's unwillingness to defend herself would be a play for mercy. A way to say 'I have no excuse.' But then Daniella couldn't even say she was 'sorry'.
You look up at Beatrice.
Beatrice… she knew Daniella was after her book.
She knew Daniella wanted to burn her book.
She planned everything that happened that night. She orchestrated exactly how you both caught her in the act. Exactly how you both ran away. Exactly how the guards became involved.
…Everything was how Beatrice planned?
There's the slightest pause, and then Beatrice… claps.
"Well done, Edwys. You've solved it. That is a magnificent bit of intellect you've shown there. You are smarter than anyone in the castle takes you credit for."
… You don't feel like it, you say. You know it's not your role, so to speak.
Why, Beatrice, you ask?
You understood her punishment eventually. Daniella was executed.
You understand it was a just execution.
But, if Daniella was planning on doing that…
Couldn't it have been avoided?
Beatrice's nostrils flare a bit.
"Only with my death," she says.
She takes a step backward from you.
"It's time I reveal to you what is really going on in this castle, Edwys. It has been a deadly game of cat-and-mouse for months."
Beatrice's hands travel to behind her back.
She reaches under her clothes and takes out…
She holds it in front of her, and the book opens by itself, spreading apart in her hands like a great butterfly flapping its wings.
At the same time…
Beatrice's form shimmers.
You watch and yet cannot fully comprehend what is happening.
Her clothes and everything she's been wearing jump into a soft yellow light, which springs forth from Beatrice's body, before jumping back on her skin, reforming as… a very grandiose dress.
You, with your requests to the tailor, would never fit in a dress like Beatrice takes form in. You would take one step and it would fall off of you. Or you would trip on some ruffle and fall flat on your face.
Her hair has done the same, taking a perfect bun tied perfectly. The final piece to the puzzle… a burning pipe, elegant, but a bit too masculine for your tastes.
She spins the pipe in one hand, giving you a moment to look at her, but all you can do is gape.
"Edwys. This is me. I am not an aristocrat from Elbania trained to be a midwife. I am Beatrice, the Infinite Golden Witch."
The effort you spent on thinking about what happened that day has left you feeling suddenly stupefied. The display of a power that you've never before seen only adds to the confusion.
"I will explain everything to you, dear Edwys."
Beatrice uses magic to create another flash of light which brings her chair closer to yours, on which she has a seat.
Not willing to get up, both from physical reasons and a desire to know the truth about your friend, you sit and engage in conversation with Beatrice.
The witch reveals everything about magic and witches to you.
And it all makes complete sense.
She explains King Vlad united the country, killing almost all witches using witch-hunters.
What Beatrice has been doing has been a very risky attempt at putting an end to their persecution, forever.
Beatrice… no, the Infinite Golden witch…
She intercepted the orders for a midwife. She created false papers posing as an Elbanian aristocrat.
Daniella was a witch-hunter, the only witch-hunter in the castle.
She recognized who and what she was on her very first sight.
However… Beatrice outsmarted her.
"Witch-hunters have only one real weapon, Edwys. They see a witch, and they kill it. They do not hesitate, and they do not feel pity. They spare no mercy or last request."
Beatrice lets out a long sigh, blowing air from her pipe.
Surprisingly, the smoke doesn't cast a scent at all. It seems to dissipate immediately.
"I was most vulnerable when I first arrived at the castle. But the fact that I was posing as a mortal, in mortal society, Daniella had no choice but to interact with me as a mortal. She had no choice but to hesitate. She could not stab me and burn my book immediately. If she had, I would have died, and they would have had another dead witch."
She blinks, hanging her head.
"The reason she didn't was… you."
…Me? Me, you ask? Princess Edwys?
"The people here are slaves to King Vlad's will. Not literally, but they do not question him. He is truly a tyrant. You, however… you are an innocent. You believe that a King is just. The servants are happy to serve. The noblemen content in their role. The Church grants you a community together in shared belief toward your God. …He could not disillusion you. Not while you were carrying his grandchild."
… You're not that innocent, you say. You know noble politics can be ruthless.
"As I said. You're smarter than anyone in the castle gives you credit."
You bite your lip. King Vlad needed you happy. Presumably so you would happily breed with Tharja and give birth. –Yes, seeing Daniella murder Beatrice right in front of you would be a hard shock to stand.
"That is also why that theater played out in the throne room."
"I knew what Daniella wanted to do. I'm no fool. I was in absolutely no danger. I know tricks to camouflage and hide my book. I've been using them the entire time. Sometimes carrying my true book, other times hiding it, other times keeping it on my person and leaving decoys. Daniella would never have harmed me. The only time I was truly in danger was when I first arrived at the castle. If she had pounced on me and burned all of my belongings… I truly would've died. In that way, your hospitality toward me saved my life."
You feel your heart melt a little. That's why…
You start to cry. Beatrice summons a cloth to let you wipe your tears.
You thank her until you regain your composure.
"I knew she would try, but she had to try and fail in just the correct way. –You being present and witnessing it turned the tide."
If you hadn't personally witnessed Daniella doing exactly what she did, exactly when she did it, Beatrice posits that King Vlad would have had the entire incident hushed.
Daniella would have simply been trying to clean her room, tripped, and created an accidental fire. Oops. Daniella was just too well known a personality in the castle to do such a vengeful thing as purposely break into a room and destroy things. Everyone 'knows' that.
There would have been no judgement. Or even if there had been one, it would have turned into a 'Beatrice says, and Daniella says,' affair.
Daniella knew what she had to say. King Vlad knew what she would say. She knew she was to be executed. He knew he had to execute her.
It was all a series of events that neither could avoid.
"I hoped for maiming or infinite imprisonment, myself. Never did I think that King would order his only witch-hunter to the stake. It worked out much better than I could have ever thought.
…So, Beatrice manipulated you, you ask?
Beatrice shakes her head.
"I freed you. The threat of our relationship would have hung over you forever. It could only have ended with Daniella's death."
…Yes. You agree.
Beatrice already explained how she had been using her magic to hide your affair as much as possible. Especially after Daniella died.
But when you told her, she recognized there was only one escape.
"I suppose I could've told you everything I had planned… but we truly had no time. I prepared my own reaction, and I knew you simply being there and reacting genuinely was the best thing I could hope for."
…You nod. A gesture Beatrice returns.
You won't think anymore about it. Daniella was a cruel woman who terrified you. The kind maid with sweet words was a lie.
"At any rate…" Beatrice continues.
There are no more witch-hunters, she asserts.
King Vlad himself is not a witch-hunter. He doesn't have the ruthless fanaticism to pursue the death of a witch at all costs to himself, his sanity, and his pride.
He simply organized them and set their target.
The witch-hunters were the sword, King Vlad was the hand.
Now the hand is empty.
"I still do not know if he truly knows I'm a witch. Though either way, it does not matter. He cannot reveal magic exists openly. He cannot train a new witch-hunter. And a new witch-hunter cannot come to him. He is the equivalent of a bird with broken wings."
… Is this what Beatrice set out to do?
What will she do now, you ask?
Beatrice's eyes become maudlin.
"I have many options. That's what witches do. We look at the world, decide how we would like to change it, then enact the will to make it so."
She could simply kill King Vlad. Tharja will become King. It's likely Ruhemania will devolve into a civil war.
She could cleanse the entire castle, and let Ruhemania simply evaporate when people realize there's no more leadership and they can do as they like.
"My associate wanted that choice," she says.
Or, she could… leave. King Vlad's de-toothed. Let Ruhemania spin like a hollowed skull.
"But there's a reason I haven't done any of those things, yet."
Her hand comes out to touch yours. You can't help but return the gesture and hold her, fondly.
Your other hand bundles up in your dress.
Will any of those make her happy?
Beatrice lets out a nervous laugh.
"No, no they won't."
Won't she stay with you? in Castle Valachia?
You're going to give birth to many children. You'll need a midwife. And… you need Beatrice.
Life could continue to be happy for you both.
At your words, Beatrice… sighs.
"Edwys, I must be honest with you."
Beatrice has been investigating Tharja's activities.
He's being actively groomed by King Vlad to become King. He's being sent out of the castle. He spars. He learns military strategy. He learns to handle coin. He is even reading at the monastery to develop his knowledge of Church tradition and law. He will not come home often, and even if he does…
"He has several lovers. Both male and female."
… You hang your head.
You know that. You knew it in your heart.
You had a wonderful 'honeymoon,' and you adore that you're carrying his child, but… your relationship hasn't turned to one of devotion.
You simply can't expect anything else.
But, he has impregnated you. He will surely come back to do so again. And again.
You are a princess. Your children will be the heirs of the Kingdom.
Beatrice's frown somehow turns even deeper.
"Edwys. What I'm about to say will shatter your heart. But, you must know."
King Vlad is only going to allow you three children, Beatrice says. Tharja has agreed.
Moreover, if not one of them is a boy, your marriage will be annulled. He will not risk that you will only ever birth Tharja girls. Tharja will find a new wife.
King Vlad's word is law. Beatrice doesn't know honestly if King Vlad knows of your relationship with her, or what exactly he has in mind to use as a premise for the annulment, but it will be done. The Church will agree to it. The priest has already agreed to go along with it.
"Furthermore, your children will remain in the castle while you are sent back to Virilia," she states.
"Children born before an annulment are still legitimate. He will not allow potential heirs to leave his Kingdom."
You blink your eyes as you feel your vision tunnel and anxiety grips you.
Only three children. One of which had to be a boy, or you were to be thrown away. Discarded without another thought. Why? How could anyone be so cruel?
Beatrice strokes your hand.
"The man is a cruel fiend. He married Tharja below his stature because you were groomed to be the perfect fertile wife. He doesn't care about any relationship with Virilia, he wanted only your womb. And he certainly doesn't value you as a person with feelings."
You rub your belly, softly, huddling close.
What if… what if she's a girl? What if her sisters are girls? What if you raise her to reach five years of age, only to have her snatched from you after you birth your third girl?
The land is rotten in Ruhemania. That is why they needed to import a fertile woman like you.
"Edwys, you've been a pawn since you were born. You've never been able to make a choice. The choices were always made for you. You just didn't know," she says.
You nod. You've positively soaked Beatrice's handkerchief, but you have control of yourself for the moment.
"That's why I'm telling you this. Why I've appeared to you and confessed everything to you like this, at great personal risk to myself."
You hear her take a very deep breath.
"I want to give you the power to make a real choice, Edwys. Look up."
You turn your head to look at her.
Beatrice then walks a few feet, reaches into a shelf, and takes out a dusty book.
"Pardon, but I hid this in here. It was camouflaged and unnoticed."
There's another flash of yellow light, and the book is freed of dust.
She brings it over to you and sets it right in front of you.
…You want to tell her the last thing you want to do is read, but curiosity wins out.
It's a black tome with binding, perhaps leather.
You open it up to the first page.
You read the words:
"Hi there! My name's Maria! And you don't know it yet, but you're going to want to be just like me!
I'm a witch!
Witches do magic! Witches can do anything!
Witches have big houses and do fun things together and can play and laugh and have fun forever and ever.
Doesn't that sound like fun?
We can do it every day!
Be a witch!
I know by now you want to be a witch, so I'm going to teach you what you need to do.
Don't skip reading! Don't put down the book! Just keep reading and please do it.
I'm waiting to be your friend and so are all the other witches."
You look up at Beatrice. You're feeling a little unnerved.
What is this, you ask? It sounds like a child wrote it.
Beatrice gives a little laugh.
"A child? No, but Maria was very innocent… my poor Witch of Origins."
She has a look of absolute melancholy on her.
"This book… allows one to become a witch," she says.
Oh my God.
Beatrice wants to offer you the chance to become a witch??
"I believe it possible. I believe you deserve it. Both from your circumstances, and your own ability. You have your own interest which you pursue. You have your own will. You have a sharp intellect, which is subject to your hormones, but it's there. You've simply been forced to play a game where you have no real power."
Beatrice kneels down right beside you. She flashes you a considerable amount of her cleavage and you blush, but her words draw your attention.
"Edwys. You deserve this chance. You deserve more than being lonely in a castle. One where I know you'll be miserable, and even vulnerable if the stupid nobility start fighting."
… You bite your lip.
Witches are immortal. Could you embrace that?
"You'll never grow old. Unless you wish it. You'll never decay in intellect. Menopause need not bother you."
You'll never be part of human society again. You won't only be forsaking Tharja and your marriage commitment, you'll forsake the very concept of marriage and courtship. Something which you were raised your entire life to believe and participate in.
"Did it treat you well? Did it get you far? –Do you believe I lied about anything?"
…You really don't. You can't think Beatrice would have lied about anything. Even the parts that pained you. They simply made too much sense.
What Beatrice offers… makes too… much… sense!
Feelings grip your heart. Motherly feelings to protect your child.
Is there any downside, you ask?
"Well, you will have to deal with other witches, whether you want to or not. Not everyone is… friendly. Or as friendly as Maria's book offers."
"But magic can truly do anything. It can move the Earth. Block out the sun. –Change your body. If you wish to do it, you could dedicate yourself to fertility. Alter how fast you develop, how many children you birth."
Your eyes flash at that.
"I don't personally know spells like that, so you'd have to do your own research, but there's very few limits to how a witch can alter her own body."
Pregnancy while you're already pregnant.
Even normal pregnancy, just without so many aches and so many mood swings…
That all sounds perfect. Too good to be true.
And compared to the thought of only ever having three children, there's no choice at all to make.
What do you need to do, you ask?
What do you need to do to become a witch?
"Turn the page."
You turn the page of Maria's book with excitement. Your hands are burning with sweat.
You read the words and it's hard to keep your head focused.
"Here's how you become a witch! Most of it is super easy!"
It gives a list of items to collect… most of these are nothing. Even a woman like you could collect things like these.
"Last but not least! You need blood! Blood of a just-killed blood relative. Or just died will probably work too.
I know what you're going to think.
That sounds gross and dangerous!
I know, and I'm sorry, but that's sort of the only way.
Just close your eyes while you get it and think about how much fun it will be to become a witch.
I can't tell you how you get it. That's the only thing I can't do.
But once you got it, just follow this little ritual, and make sure you hold on to this book!"
You look back up at Beatrice feeling like you've had a cruel trick played on you.
Blood of a just-killed blood relative? Murder?
It's impossible. Besides the fact it's murder, it's just not possible.
You're a strange foreign princess in a distant land, far from your home and everyone you ever knew.
Your Father, your Brother… surely any cousins or other relatives you could think of. They're far beyond your reach.
Beatrice asks the question like she's trying to provoke you to think of some solution.
You just shrug your arms at her, pouting.
Did she bring someone from Virilia here with her? Is your Father about to pay a visit?
Beatrice shakes her head no.
You'll never be a witch.
You'll be… you don't know what you'll be. Hopefully being a neglected princess will be enough.
Beatrice finally sighs.
"Edwys… you are overlooking someone."
You blink your eyes up at her.
Overlooking someone? Someone you took with you to Ruhemania?
Beatrice leans closer.
Her hand comes up and settles on…
Oh God no.
No, no no no.
You see it now. You realize what Beatrice has said and immediately wish she hadn't. That you hadn't realized.
The blood relative that you could kill and use their blood to become a witch…
…it's inside you. He or she.
Beatrice is suggesting you sacrifice your baby to become a witch.
That's… that's inhuman.
"I know. But witches aren't human anymore, Edwys."
You look down at your belly and feel paralyzed.
"It's a gruesome part of the ritual all witches must do. I've killed a relative. Maria killed one. So has every witch. …But, only one."
Beatrice slips her hand to yours.
"I know the idea is terrible for you, Edwys. But think of what you will be. Think of what you can do. I didn't lie when I said you could alter your body. You can give yourself as many more pregnancies as you want, forever."
…But you needed to sacrifice your current child to do it. And you needed to become the type of woman who would do that to do it.
You have no place to hold the book, you shove it to Beatrice.
You don't know what's worse. That you heard the idea, or that you're honestly considering it.
Beatrice has shown you magic exists.
Beatrice has told you no lies.
And yet… the price.
The price is terrible.
Beatrice says nothing.
You start to hyperventilate.
Your own child, who you carried… a child who may be ripped from you… a child you may never even get to properly mother after a few years. With siblings who may never know your name.
A sacrifice… to escape your terrible situation.
Your mouth tumbles forth words.
Will Beatrice help you…? Will she make it so it wouldn't feel pain or cry?
There's the tiniest bit of hesitation, but she nods.
"I familiarized myself with all a midwife can do. I will make you my apprentice if you would accept. It would be appropriate to help."
Beatrice wanted to give you the power to make a real choice.
This is a choice.
Sacrifice your current pregnancy for power as a witch, and gain all that comes with it?
Or… resign yourself to life in Ruhemania, even knowing how you'll be treated and regarded. How little your role of 'mother' really means to them.
Less than it ever meant to you. And that's the problem.
>You'll do it. Sacrifice your child. Use its blood in the ritual. Become a witch. You simply can't bear the thought of being miserable in Ruhemania, or having your children taken from you.
>You just can't. Turn down Beatrice's offer and remain a human woman. Hopefully one child will be a boy, and you can find some joy in Ruhemania.
>…Is it really too late to go back to Virilia?! Beg Beatrice to find a way to get you back home! You'll murder anyone else for the sake of the ritual! With your own two hands!!
Note: No write ins for this choice, please.
Becoming a witch is really our only route to happiness, but I cannot see Edwys making the choice to kill her child. This isn't the course I saw the story taking, and I really thought we could actually have a relationship with Tharja- disappointing to see that was a pipe dream. Then again, as a witch we might be able to make that happen. Still, in a damned choice like this, trying to find anyone other than our own child to serve as the sacrifice is the only path I think Edwys would take.
Damn you, aristo. This is really hard!
I vote option one. It's the fetish choice and fittingly gruesome for the gruesome world Edwys lives in.
I think Edwys has - like any medieval mother - contemplated many times the overwhelming likelihood that some of her children will die, some very young, some maybe at birth. She herself may die during birth for all she knows. Hell, some cultures at that time didn't even name their children until they were a couple of years old because infant mortality was so high. It's probably too much to expect that she has reached any form of peace of mind regarding this gruesome reality, but a reality it is. At least it was until just a few minutes ago she didn't know anything about magic and what healing powers can do for her.
Having only three children is… I don't know. It feels like game over in a story focused on a pregnancy fetish. Especially with the threat of being forcefully separated from them if Edways has bad luck rolling her eight-sided die.
And murdering an adult relative… that feels even more wrong somehow. And how would that work in practice? Beatrice cannot teleport if I remember the encounter with Patchouli and Sakura correctly. Neither Vlad nor Tharja would never allow her to leave the castle for months on end. She cannot do it 9 months pregnant anyway and she wouldn't want to once she has an infant to care for.
I think option one is the only one that makes even remotely sense out of the three, brutal as it may be. Sacrifice one child and only one so that all future children can grow up healthy.
Man, this sucks…
Option 1. Agree with above
Option 1. It's horrible, it's brutal, it'll forever break something in our dear Edwys here… and it's the only path to freedom she has.
this is a very interesting overall foil for-and-to the "other half/main branch" of your setting and the chosen locale/story arc involving Ruhemania.
(out of curiosity and at risk of divulging too much the author may wish to play around with, does Beatrice's incarnation in Edward's story have any inklings of the goings on herein this sector? considering her original source material and the fact she's notably Infinite in epithet. if you'd prefer to remain mum on this front specifically that's quite alright as well…)
Edwys’s sudden disappearance from the castle and reappearance in Virilia will likely invite more problems than it will solve.
What inklings are you thinking of? Beatrice is certainly bisexual in the main story. We've had multiple threesomes with Beatrice participating. The openness to creating more witches? Mainstory Beatrice thought out loud about Elizabeth's potential as a witch.
Are you asking if Beatrice has access to some knowledge of a "multi-verse" in which she knows both her actions in the main story and Impregnated Princess?
If that is your question, the answer is no. Impregnated Princess wasn't a story meant to be a parallel universe. Nor was Impregnator Kings intended as a story with a parallel universe concept. To say it was would betray the nature of the setting, so I must say clearly it's not.
Impregnated Princess is a story with a world fundamentally the same as Impregnator Kings, except Edward and Tharja's genders are switched. Other characters may have had their genders switched too. I won't say which ones.
The current vote is this:>5 votes for option one, sacrifice your child for the sake of becoming a witch.>1 vote for option two, reject Beatrice's offer and try to find some joy in Ruhemania.>1 vote for option three, beg Beatrice to take you back to Virilia to kill one of your other relatives and keep your baby safe.
I will leave the vote up a little longer, but I will close it soon.
This being the case, where this quest is in the same world as the main quest aside from the gender-bending, I do have to ask: did we make choices that led to Tharja having such a fundamentally different approach to marriage, or was male Tharja always going to be like this?
When this story is completely and totally over, I will have a chat thread in which everyone will be open to asking questions like these, including what was possible, what wasn't, and what choices would have done what.
As long as it doesn't reveal too much or spoil the main story of Impregnator Kings, it will all be fair game.
But that time isn't yet. Please save this question.
correct, that was the general implication inferred towards. as if both versions of Beatrice would be technically "one and the same," in terms of being aware of one another/herself and the circumstances surrounding each instance.
thanks for taking the time to address this hypothetical quandary.
There's been no further votes, but the vote is so lop-sided in one direction I'm confident this represents the will of the audience. Especially when votes for this story tend to be scarce.
>5 votes for option one, sacrifice the baby in your belly for the sake of becoming a witch.
>1 vote for option two, decline Beatrice's offer and hope you can find joy in Ruhemania.
>1 vote for option three, you can't hurt your baby, but you'll hurt someone else! Sacrifice of another family member, all the way back in Virilia!
Become a witch.
You give one last stroke to your belly.
You curl your hands all around. The side, the top, your popped belly button… your breasts, swollen with milk that were both prepared to feed the baby inside.
You feel it kick against you, making you wince, as if it knows what you're thinking.
You'll do it.
Three isn't enough.
A life as a neglected woman in an old castle is not enough. Even if you're a princess.
The prospect of having all of your children taken from you and then you sent home in dishonor because of the King's will is definitely not enough!
You hate it. You hate that you're giving up your dream of being a mother, but…
…You'll be happy as a witch.
And you'll be a fine mother to all the many children that come once you are a witch.
You finally open your eyes, and still crying, tell Beatrice you've made up your mind.
You'll do the ritual.
You want to be a witch.
You just need help.
Please help, so you won't have to hear your baby cry.
Beatrice purses her lips, her hands held on the chair's hand rests.
"That I can do, but… traditionally, the new witch must commit the deed herself."
In other words, you must be the one to end its life. A witch's mentor will go so far as to restrain and tie up the sacrifice, but the actual killing must be performed by the witch.
Beatrice will induce the birth, then you must…
You've made up your mind.
Beatrice has used her magic to create a padding for you to lie on.
The contractions in your body have started.
Beatrice has fed you a medicine. It's relaxed you and taken away pain, but you still need to push it out of you.
True to Beatrice's word, you hear no cry.
The rest of the ritual is ready.
It's a rather simple sort of symbol drawn on the ground. A pointed sort of star. A different object lies on each point.
Except for you.
You stand in the center. With your book.
And you must have a handful of your sacrifice's blood, touching the book, while you recite certain words.
You're beyond sore. Your legs are wet with fluid. Sweat streaks your hair. Not even the umbilical cord is cut.
Your child lies on the stone floor, twitching its legs and arms.
…It's a boy.
You shouldn't have let yourself look.
But you did.
You let yourself look.
If you had declined, then you would have been guaranteed at least three children and a lifetime as a princess in Ruhemania.
Beatrice hands you a sharp piece of iron to act as a crude knife. You hold it in your hand.
You slowly kneel down.
'Close your eyes and think of how fun it'll be to become a witch?'
Closing your eyes instead fills you with images of all the times you've been taken advantage of.
Your Father, who made it seem he was doing you a favor by sending you off to a distant country, away from everyone you knew and loved. Who made you cry and beg and plead for even that.
Daniella, who plied you with sweet talk and compliments while spying on you. Keeping track of everything you said to use against you later.
And worse, so much worse, was that old, decrepit King.
… You see it now, the true extent of his evil.
When the castle is so empty?
You see his game now. You see the calculations that tyrant can make.
He's the one… the one who drove the wedge between you and Tharja.
The moment you were pregnant, that's when Tharja was suddenly no longer around.
Tharja had lovers? Did he always–? Would he have taken any? Not without the King's blessing!
Who was to say if your baby would survive… or if you would even survive? What sense did it make for him to wait year after year for results when he's so old?
He had his son creating bastards, 'just in case'!
You let out a shout in a mad rage, bringing the knife down.
God thank Beatrice's arrival, that she saved you from the horror of being a part of that man's legacy! Of continuing his bloodline! Of giving birth to his scion!
Your arms become frenzied; you stab over and over again. You don't even hit flesh most stabs. You strike stone, bringing a loud clash of metal to your ears. So much is emotion driving your arms to action that you can't even open your eyes to aim.
You don't stop.
Not until you collapse in a fit of tears and mournful rage. Feeling utterly, utterly spent.
Until you're still… as still as the babe.
Blood covers your hands.
You open the book.
Beatrice stands off to the side.
You're naked as the day you were born. There's something between your legs.
But you're committed to this. You have committed to this.
You ask Beatrice to please correct you if you do it wrong.
She makes no reply.
Surrounded by the elements of the world.
You cut yourself free of their control.
You are no longer a natural part of the world.
You are an outsider, to affect it as you please.
You will hold yourself to no standard other than that set by yourself and your peers who join you in your sisterhood.
You offer up the sacrificed blood of your own line as proof of your dedication to this goal and no other.
Forever and ever more.
You close the book.
You press your bloody hand to the cover.
Then, you close your eyes and wait.
Is something supposed to happen?
The book didn't say if there was any other part of the ritual.
Do you need to think about anything?
You can't… feel anything different.
You're still a naked girl with a dangling dead baby between her legs holding a book and with random objects around you.
You finally look at Beatrice.
What… is that it?
Are you a witch now?
"Take your hand off the cover."
You blink, then do so.
Your head is spinning. You want nothing more than to continue reading your book and master the limited spells inside.
But Beatrice makes very good points.
"Edwys, dear, you must clean yourself up."
Your magic is clumsy and unsure, so Beatrice does it for you.
Your body is cleaned, your clothes replaced.
A simple dress. Beatrice is insistent that you must determine your own style, when it suits you.
The… viscera that you excreted is burned away. It served you no purpose anymore.
…What happens now, you ask?
You can't go back to your room and go about your day.
"Now is when we meet with my associate."
You both leave the library, you follow behind Beatrice like a duckling. She hasn't changed back into her normal form.
She proceeds to Tharja's room fearlessly. She raises her book and rips off the iron lock.
The inside is illuminated, and Beatrice makes her book shudder with more magic, until the bed Tharja sleeps on moves out of the way.
Another bit of magic, and you see a stone twitch, then break, and fall away until a passage breaks open.
From that passage springs…
She's short, and has her hair in twintails at the side of her head.
"Hello~ Beatrice! How nice to see you again," she says, nodding to Beatrice.
Then her head turns to peer at you, a smile forming at her lips.
"I take it your offer was accepted?" she asks.
Beatrice… tenses. You can see her shoulders roll back.
"Edwys, this is Erika. The Witch of… Truth."
You turn to look at your new acquaintance.
How do you do, you say?
You're not sure if you're doing it correctly. How do witches greet each other?
Erika just smiles.
"Oh, you're very polite! So unlike Beatrice. Hehehehe. You'll need a new name, Edwys. What will you be the witch of?"
…Witch of what.
Your mind simmers with possibilities. Pregnancy? Fertility? Fecundity?
You raise a hand to your cheek in wonderment. The possibilities are endless. As is your new magic.
Beatrice smacks her lips in distaste.
"We'll have time for that later, Erika. She's just attuned herself. Measured in minutes."
Erika giggles to herself.
"Just asking! –Did she accept your apprenticeship?"
…Apprenticeship. You don't know. Beatrice could teach you much. She's accomplished so much, hasn't she? And she helped you with the ritual. But maybe you would be better off studying by yourself… or at least learning about Erika first.
You'll keep your options open.
You won't be taken advantage of again.
Erika gives a little shrug, still smiling.
"Just a question! But, you're right… to business."
Beatrice explains everything.
She could not have hoped to accomplish all she did alone.
Erika has been her accomplice.
The King had messengers sent to Elbania to verify if Beatrice was who she said she was. Erika had to intercept them each time.
It was Erika's idea to infiltrate the castle as well.
"Not just that, but who do you think taught Beatrice how to hide her book? Me, that's who! I'm a lot more powerful than she is, newbie. Remember that."
Beatrice flicks ash from her pipe, with a frown.
"Yes, well, someone needed to show some social skills and actually put their neck on the line, didn't they?"
"In that manner, you performed admirably, Infinite Golden Witch."
Erika replies, spattering her talk with giggling both before and after.
She turns her attention to you, she looks at your book.
…You instinctively cradle it to you. You don't want to show it off.
"It's all right! We're all witches here, Edwys."
She turns her head again.
"But to think the ritual actually worked with an unborn babe… we can work with that, can't we, Beatrice?"
…What? What's she talking about?
"That's a problem, Edwys. Even we witches don't know the full range of the ritual."
Technically speaking, everyone should be related to everyone.
They don't know exactly how many degrees of separation they can have before the ritual will refuse to turn a woman into a witch.
And when it came to a baby yet unborn in your very womb…
"It was a risk."
You shudder at the thought of it having been all for naught, but your concerns about your previous obligations are nil.
Beatrice waxes that it's possibly because the baby was ready to be born anyway that it worked. Or for all they know, it would've worked even if the babe became a miscarriage.
They just don't know.
You were their experiment.
"But it's better this way, Edwys. Wanna hear the horror stories? Hehehe."
Erika relates that there have been almost-witches who completed the ritual only to not become witches. The ritual ended with them learning that they were adopted instead.
"Wasn't fun for them after that," she adds.
Beatrice practically growls.
"Erika. Witch. Newborn."
Erika just grins.
"What? She can't take even a little bit of need-to-know knowledge?"
…You do want to know more things.
You tell Beatrice it's fine. You want to hear more. You don't want to be kept in the dark anymore.
You're sick of things happening behind the scenes where you couldn't affect any of it.
You want to be the actor, not the audience.
Both Beatrice and Erika are looking at you with happy expressions. Erika even claps.
"Yes! Perhaps you'd do well as my apprentice instead? You're certainly motivated. Heeeee hee hee."
Then… Erika's smile becomes razor sharp.
"…Speaking of acting and not spectating. We need to decide our next move."
Now that Edwys is a witch, there's no waiting.
They have to decide what they're going to do with Castle Valachia.
It's exactly as Beatrice explained earlier.
They can kill King Vlad, cleanse the entire castle, or simply leave.
…Won't leaving behind provoke a lot of questions, you ask?
"Prrrrrobably! But without any witch-hunters to come after us, it's not our problem. That said, I actually don't want to just up and leave. Where's the fun in that?"
Erika's eyes turn dark.
"We've suffered long enough. We watched enough. It's time to act and leave our own mark. Let's cleanse the entire castle."
Her breathing is stark and heavy.
"You know what I mean? I mean we hunt down every single last person here and give them a painful death. Then, we collapse the place into a giant sinkhole. No one left alive. No evidence. No more King. No more Castle. No more Ruhemania."
She punctuates her proposal with more manic giggling. It's actually unnerving. Erika is certainly an eccentric sort.
"Yes, as cathartic as it would be, there's a lot of people here who are just plain uninvolved. It's messy and unnecessary."
Now it's time for Beatrice's expression to twist and turn into an angry grimace.
"The King's crimes cannot be forgiven. He's powerless, but needs to suffer. We very calmly infiltrate his tower and eliminate him. We'll make it look like old age killed him off. There's nothing else worth doing here. Not anymore. Let it rot from the inside out."
"Ah, an impasse. We know how those are solved, aren't we?"
They look at each other, then turn to you.
"Hmm…" muses Erika.
"I'll be interested in hearing your opinion, Edwys. You're a witch, now. Have your vote as to what you think we should do."
…Your own vote.
That… sounds wonderful.
You can't help smiling, but you recover. Time is of the essence.
It's a difficult situation. You've… killed once already.
You turn to Erika.
Isn't it asking a lot to kill absolutely everyone?
Won't they fight back?
"You leave that to me. In fact, leave all of it to me! I'm more than capable of killing every single last person here by myself. Guard. Peasant. Servant. Man. Woman. Child…" she turns to Beatrice. "But I'll let you and Beatrice savor the death of that King. See? I consider everyone's wants. It's win-win for us all."
So that's Erika's logic…
Beatrice meanwhile shakes her head.
"Ruthless. Going so far as to murder unattached women and children is too much, Erika. The King, yes. Any guards who stand in the way, yes. But not more than that."
So that's Beatrice's logic…
And just leaving, you ask?
"…If that's your vote, that's your vote, Edwys," says Beatrice.
"I guess I can see a newborn witch wanting just to leave. Gives more time to concentrate on studying, doesn't it?"
"Mm. She hasn't had to deal with the shock of the loss of all of our friends, either."
It's all right, you tell your sisters.
You just want to consider every angle.
Though Beatrice has a point about depravity and excess.
Does Erika have a rebuttal? Does she have to go so far as to kill children?
Erika raises an eyebrow.
"Of course. Am I supposed to leave them behind? They'll grow up to become witch-hunters if I don't."
–Ah. So that's how it works.
…You're not one to judge about killing children, you suppose.
Beatrice is next.
Is it even possible to reach the King, right now? It's still daylight.
Furthermore… your body is still in a state.
"I've been watching the maid who now brings him his meals. I believe I can impersonate her. If I can get past the guards to the tower, I can enter unfettered."
"If that's the route we take, I'll just climb up the side of the tower. I can conceal my presence much easier than Beatrice."
Hm. It sounds in that case you wouldn't be able to help.
"You'll hide here and wait for our escape, Edwys."
… You suppose you really can't be seen now if they're taking a clandestine approach.
You look to the secret passage.
It leads out?
They both nod.
…Your thoughts go to Tharja. That he had a way out of the castle at any time.
How much do you blame him?
You don't know.
What sort of situation did you want him to come back to when he returns to the castle?
One where there's no home left for him, and he's king of nothing?
One where his Father's dead, he's King, and about to face a revolt?
Or let him have his life, with another wife, more children, and your shared moments together no more than a fleeting memory?
Erika raises her voice in an annoying little tone.
"Beatrice~. Perhaps you should tell your presumed apprentice what is the standard tradition for witch newborns, as you put it."
You turn your head in confusion.
What is it, you ask?
Beatrice rolls her tongue over her lips.
"It's traditional for a newborn witch to sever all ties to her previous life. Ideally by killing everyone involved with her who could remember her."
Beatrice didn't mention that!
"There's exceptions! It's within acceptance to simply run away."
"Yes. It's within acceptable behavior for, say, a peasant girl to just run away from her life of shoveling pig shit and disappear. People are going to notice the princess is gone. Perhaps maybe that prince…?"
Beatrice's nostrils flare.
"The King will hush it up."
"Even when he's dead? I thought we were going to kill him?"
You cough to get their attention.
You've heard their arguments, and their counter-arguments, and Erika's further enlightenment that as a new witch, you're expected to slaughter everyone you always knew.
Really, at this point, your disappearance is a non-issue. You're all three witches. There are no witch-hunters.
Erika seems motivated by an all-or-nothing approach, and she's rather take 'all' to satisfy her emotions and bloodlust. –There's a sliver of logic to killing absolutely everyone, you'll admit.
Beatrice meanwhile is motivated entirely by vengeance. She wants to murder King Vlad personally for the sake of her revenge. The fact that Ruhemania will crumble is a side-effect she simply sees as a metaphorical way to kill his legacy.
Are you correct?
Beatrice and Edwys both stare at you, entranced.
"See, Erika? Very smart."
"Yes. I concur with your reasoning, Witch of Whatever-you-want. Not bad. But, that still leaves the question."
"Your vote." "What will you say?"
Emotions eddy within you.
You feel free for the first time. You have no role other than what you choose.
And you've chosen to be a witch.
That leaves you with a vote to add.
In that case…
>Vote for Erika's proposal: cleanse Castle Valachia. Murder everyone. Collapse the castle into a sinkhole and never look back. Plunge Ruhemania into the darkness from whence it came.
>Vote for Beatrice's proposal: murder King Vlad. Ruhemania will become like a body without a head and eventually topple over. Leave it to spin and tear itself asunder.
>Vote to simply leave. King Vlad can't harm you. Tharja can live out his life as King of a stable Ruhemania.
Option 1. Making it look like you were a victim of the collapse will ensure a clean break.
If a write-in is acceptable …
Vlad would have kept us from everything we wanted in our life, ripped our babes from our breast. It was his hand that forced us to kill our very child. Simply killing him is too easy. We need to take his legacy from him. This is metaknowledge from the mainline verse, but by Daniella's words, thralls are things. We leave the castle, we find Tharja, we enthrall him, and we leave Ruhemania to rot. If we are concerned about bastards, well… I'm sure there's magic to help with that, too.
If this isn't an acceptable write-in, then option 2, off the king and leave.
Write-ins are acceptable.
However, I want to clarify your intention. You're saying to vote to kill King Vlad, then go to the new King Tharja, and reveal witchcraft to him to make him an ally? Or do you mean kidnap him and make him into some sort of manservant?
Apologies for the confusion. The write-in is basically option 3, but go kidnap Tharja. Leave Vlad with no heir, so he knows once his time is up that all he worked for will be lost.
That won't work. Vlad probably has bastard "just in case" as he did in the main story.
Fair point. Short of taking the time to ferret out any bastards and eliminate them, perhaps Aristo's other interpretation of the write-in (kill Vlad, influence Tharja) would be a better choice. Still stains Vlad's legacy too, not that Edwys knows why Vlad waged his war.
Edwys knows why. "The witch reveals everything about magic and witches to you. And it all makes complete sense. She explains King Vlad united the country, killing almost all witches using witch-hunters." It was meant to be a summation that "Edwys knows the history now" without the reader having to read it again.
Tharja's fate at this point is probably best addressed in a second vote to be held after this vote is completed. The notion of "make him a manservant," would be something Beatrice and Erika could comment on and potentially guide Edwys about.
Write-ins are still accepted, but please keep it limited to plans regarding Castle Valachia at the moment. I will address Tharja's fate in a second vote afterward.
Ah, I missed that. Mea culpa. In that case, after the discussion, I'm going to change my vote to
Option three. She's been through enough for one day.
Considering that we essentially already did option 2 in the other universe, lets mix it up a little. I’m excited at the potential of how the stories diverge.
Option two. Leave the innocents out of this, and once Vlad is dead, let Tharja go down in history as the King of Nothing.
>3 votes for option one, follow strict tradition and vote for Erika's plan. Cleanse Castle Valachia of all mortal life, then plunge the castle into a giant sinkhole. Ruhemania will dissolve immediately without a capital.
>2 votes for option two, favor Beatrice's plan. Kill King Vlad stealthily and leave. Let the resulting power struggle destroy the country and his legacy. Your disappearance will not matter.
>1 vote for option three, pursue the softer path. Simply leave the castle. Don't look back. King Vlad will live on and hush up your disappearance.
Cleanse Castle Valachia.
Poll closed. Update soon.
Why wouldn't they kill everyone in the castle to sever all of your ties with your old life, you ask Beatrice?
"…It's just a very large scale, Edwys. We've never had a princess become a witch. Never that I've heard about."
"Of course not that we heard about. Ruhemania never had a King."
Beatrice says it's a taboo to ask directly what a witch's past life as a mortal was. Though one can sometimes infer by their behavior and introduction to witch society.
She will generally state that most new witches are daughters of lower nobility, holders of some small land, or bergmeisters elected to lead small bergs.
Rarely peasants or other servants. Though more unique circumstances may exist.
…And you were one. A princess. Albeit one by marriage.
"At any rate, the amounts are radically different."
In other words, killing was usually measured in single digits. Perhaps dozens. Not however many people are living in Castle Valachia, which you're not even sure. Neither is Beatrice.
You want a clean break from your mortal life. Now and forever.
You don't care how many people die.
Erika can have her bloodlust. Beatrice can have her vengeance. You can have no regrets.
It is truly win-win-win.
Let Castle Valachia be cleansed, then plunge the ruins into a gigantic hole and never look back.
The country will soon follow.
That's what Ruhemania is worth, correct?
This will break Ruhemania into what it should be. A loose collection of independent holdings with witches able to lay claim to each one, if they choose.
"Holy shit. You're grabbing the nuances of being a witch and running away with them, fast!"
Erika exclaims, her eyes wide and excited.
"VERY GOOD, newbie! Let's make my offer official: be my apprentice when we're done! I've never had one, but I'll make an exception! Uweee hee hee hee hee!"
Beatrice meanwhile purses her lips, she's looking shocked, but it's a subtle, subdued sort of surprise.
Erika, emboldened, turns to Beatrice.
"Well, Beatrice?! Ready to change your vote? Not that it matters! You're already out-voted."
Beatrice closes her eyes… then solemnly nods her head.
"Yes. Edwys is right. I hesitate to indulge your excesses, Erika, but this is necessary. For her, and all witches."
Beatrice grits her teeth in a snarl.
"Burn the land, salt the Eaaaarth~!"
You can't help giggling. Despite your sisters' emotions, you only feel a sense of… calm.
There were so many people you knew.
The old man who lived in the treasury and looked uneasy when you took jewelry.
The tailor who eternally re-fashioned your dresses.
The unwashed peasants who built your garden.
The cooks who provided you with food to satisfy your cravings.
The stablemen who helped you ride.
The servants who congratulated you and saw to your needs.
The guards who dealt with you with soft, gloved hands…
…they all must die.
They never considered you a person. You were only the 'Princess'. Worth as much as you could carry that spawn. That disgusting spawn of that filthy King, when you were worthy of true perfect motherhood.
In order for your role as princess to die, they must die.
Erika and Beatrice explain that what you're about to do is very, very risky.
The most risky thing witches can do.
Use magic. Openly. In public. To kill.
Absolutely everyone must die. There must be no survivors.
A survivor will be a risk to spawn a witch-hunter. That's unacceptable.
Furthermore, you are the most vulnerable.
Your new spellbook includes a spell that can directly kill a mortal, but your concentration power to use it is not completely mastered, to put it mildly. You simply need more time to study.
Nevertheless, you're free to try. Your spell won't do more than stagger Beatrice or Erika.
Beatrice assures you that as long as your book exists, so will you. Just hold it tight.
You nod. Somehow you already 'knew' that.
You divide up your duties.
The biggest risk would be someone escaping the castle.
However, the drawbridge is up. Erika will attack the guards stationed there first so it stays up.
After that, it's a matter of making sure no other secret passages are used. But those are only for royalty, and only King Vlad knows them. The tower itself does not have such an escape route.
Since you're destroying the castle anyway and don't need a way to escape silently, Erika will destroy the passage she was hiding in.
After that, the only possible threat would be if someone did somehow manage to get the drawbridge open anyway, and escaped on horse. If need be, Erika will destroy the bridge and then the horses.
…You can't help but feel a pang of guilt for needing to kill horses. The beasts are guilty of no wrong. But, it can't be helped.
Beatrice meanwhile will focus on King Vlad.
As powerful as Beatrice is, she doesn't have a lot of magic for just outright killing mortals. Her magic is more indirect.
She needs to keep all of the guards at arm's length, but otherwise should have no problem.
"…Save me his skull?" Erika asks.
Beatrice makes a sound of disgust.
"I refuse," she says.
Erika considers it, making a 'hmmm' sound.
"His eyes?" she asks.
"His eyes I will bring you."
Erika brings her hands together in gratitude.
"Thank you, Infinite Golden Witch! I look forward to receiving them."
…You decide not to ask.
You're too busy preparing by focusing your will on the spell for direct projectile attacks.
It's akin to creating stone, but crystalline, and then hurling it at a foe…
You put your plan into motion.
It's midday by now. You must act.
Erika destroys the passage, softly stacking boulders in front of it. They will not be moved by mortal hands.
She departs to destroy the soldiers at the drawbridge. After that…
She will go to work on absolutely every last person in the castle. She will become death itself.
You allow Erika a head-start. A few minutes. You can't help but feel deja vu with Beatrice's plot to trap Daniella the witch-hunter.
It's after a few minutes pass that Beatrice finally speaks.
You stalk the corridors.
Beatrice creates traps which she places near each opening. They will shut around anyone who touches them. Kill them. It will hamper the guards and servants equally.
You reach a part of the castle you've never dared to go: toward the King's tower.
Beatrice glides along on her dress. You feel inadequate in needing to put one foot in front of the other. Especially when you've only just shed weight.
The guards see her, and her book flashes with golden butterflies.
They materialize into two iron stakes and launch each other forward, striking their necks at the exact vital point. Blood is sent spraying out and they crumble to the floor.
"Come," she says.
You ascend the stairs.
It's awkward for you, but you manage.
You must be prepared to help Beatrice… all of them must die.
You reach the top.
Unfortunately, you're not alone.
A fat maid is leaving what you can only assume must be King Vlad's room. She's carries a tray with dishes. She must have served him his meal.
She lets out a startled scream of surprise and Beatrice crushes her throat shut until she shudders and gasps.
She's flung out the window, her gurgling screams fade.
King Vlad lies behind the open portal you can both see in front of you.
He knows you're both there. He knows you're coming. He could not have missed her scream. Her fall.
Should you shut the door and destroy him from outside, you ask Beatrice?
She shakes her head.
"I promised his eyes to Erika."
On a whim, you sprint toward King Vlad's room.
You won't stand idle.
You will see him, cornered and afraid. Afraid of you, the princess he would have used and thrown away!
Beatrice lets out a shout, but you pay it no heed.
You rush into the room.
You don't know what you expected. It goes so much against your expectations you're taken aback.
A room of opulence, perhaps. Or a room full of tribute to his bloody reign, with plenty of trophies and weapons mounted. Certainly a map of his Kingdom or books to occupy his time, or… something. Your own Father had things like that.
Instead, you see a bed, a table, and an old man. There's no luxury to be had at all.
Your own room was better furnished.
He stares at you from his bed, his eyes focused and wary.
He sees your book, he sees your face, he sees your dress, so unlike that which you always wore. Your belly… empty.
"You will not take me."
His hand raises a knife.
…Then you see he doesn't point the blade at you. He points it at himself.
>Make no move but to protect your book. Watch what King Vlad does.
>He is evil. Destroy him. Attack him with your own magic, to kill.
>Beatrice must see him. Attack him with your own magic, to disarm.
Edwys started this. She should finish it.
One blink and suddenly Edwys is witch on a warpath to annihilation, damn. Been a while since I’ve checked this thread.
Option 1. Curious on what the old man is going to do.
He's most likely going to cut his throat if we let him, and I'm more than a little curious to see what Beatrice will have to say to him before exacting vengeance. Plus, if we do it ourselves it's gonna be over quickly. We don't know the magic to draw it out. Vlad is the real villain here, and Beatrice can give him a more fitting punishment than we can.
Option 3. To deny Beatrice her vengeance would be a cruelty we can ill afford right now.
>1 vote for option one, make no move, simply watch what he does.
>1 vote for option two, move to kill him outright.
>3 votes for option three, move to disarm him.
Attack with your magic to disarm King Vlad.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You won't let him kill himself. You won't let him have the pleasure of deciding how he leaves the world.
You bring up your book, knowing you must aim precisely.
Your entire focus is on calling forth your new magic.
It's like trying to aim and throw a dart with an arm that is asleep.
…You did it.
One of your darts hits his wrist, knocking him backward off the bed and onto the floor.
The knife makes a clinking sound as it bounces away.
You can't help but cackle.
He doesn't get to escape so easily, you say.
You can't keep the dark fervor out of your voice.
King Vlad the witch exterminator, now made helpless, by you! A witch newborn! No more than an hour attuned, if even that!
You're still laughing when Beatrice comes into the room.
She surveys the situation and takes away the knife.
Yes, he's still lying on the floor, clutching his arm in pain.
Unfortunately, you lost your concentration. The magic you penetrated him with vanished, leaving him only with a shattered arm and no projectile in it.
But it's enough to leave him cradling his ruined limb on the floor.
Beatrice's book flashes with magic, and a shack of golden butterflies settle over his legs. Immobilizing him.
"I see. You knew your fate, didn't you, King?"
He breathes deeply, gritting his teeth as he finally looks up at Beatrice.
"I knew… I knew you would come."
He turns to you.
"You know not what you did to yourself, Edwys."
… You were about to retort, but Beatrice's command makes you silent as well, so you let it go.
You tell her you couldn't help running in. You make no apology.
"Mm. I hold you to no judgment or condemnation, Edwys. A newborn witch is impulsive."
There's another flash from Beatrice's book, and golden butterflies jump off the pages to settle on King Vlad's body. All of King Vlad's body. Until he's wrapped as if in a cocoon.
…Then they slowly dissipate.
He's still alive. Beatrice's magic only removed his clothes.
–The octogenarian King Vlad's body is not something you wish to stare at.
"Hm. You really only had the knife? I'm surprised you would give up so easily. Wouldn't the King of the witch-hunters have a few more deadly weapons up his sleeve…?"
More butterflies come out, to bind and hold his hands.
"You know what I'm going to do to you, don't you?"
King Vlad… huffs.
"Don't…" he pleads.
Beatrice's eyes light up in delight.
"What's this?! The great King of Ruhemania, begging for mercy?? Let's give you as much mercy as you showed the other witches of Ruhemania!"
Beatrice takes her free hand, bends down, and…
…oh God, you can help but wince.
Her promise of 'I'll save you his eyes' she made to Erika was very literal.
King Vlad thrashes around in pain.
"There's one! Ready for the second?" she asks.
…the next joins its twin in Beatrice's grasp. Until his face is bloodied and his body shudders in pain.
"Well, now… I suppose that's all I need from you. Other than your miserable death, of course."
King Vlad's eyelids try to blink.
"Please… either of you… give me a proper death…"
He coughs as blood slips into his mouth.
…As much of a spectacle this is, you ask Beatrice what you're both going to do?
Just leave him to die of blood loss?
Beatrice gives a shrug, smiling, as if unconcerned.
"Yes, Edwys. We leave him here, alive."
King Vlad yells.
"Trade! Let's make a deal…"
You and Beatrice look back at him. You're still confused by this method of… execution.
You thought Beatrice would engage in torture, but this seems almost too simple.
Beatrice stalks back over to him, until she kneels beside him.
"Trade? What do you possibly think your life could be worth?" she asks.
There's a pause as King Vlad tries to get his breath.
"…promise a proper death for me, first."
"You get promised nothing."
"King Vlad does not alter deals…" He gives a wheeze. "Promise a proper death."
Beatrice rolls her eyes at him.
"Edwys, dear, it's time to go."
Beatrice starts to move up, but King Vlad kicks his feet, straining pathetically against Beatrice's binding.
"Mattress! Look… under it."
You and Beatrice exchange glances.
…It sounds like an obvious trap.
Beatrice licks her lips.
Her book flashes gold again, and the mattress of King Vlad's bed levitates a few inches.
You take the initiative to look under it, and you tell Beatrice there's something there.
You reach out with an arm and pull it out from under.
Nothing happens when you pick it up, though it sends a chill up your spine.
After which, Beatrice lets the mattress fall.
You look the object over and inspect it while Beatrice has King Vlad bound.
It's a… book? No, it's obviously a book. You can't imagine how this would be booby trapped.
You tell Beatrice it's a book.
You attempt one of your own clumsy spells, searching for magical objects. At which, the book reacts.
There's something magical about the book, you announce.
Beatrice turns all attention to you.
"…Open it. Slowly."
Your hands are sweating, but you do as Beatrice says.
My name's Maria!
And this sure is your lucky day!
I'm going to tell you how you can become a witch!
Just like me!
Being a witch is fun and the best thing in the whole wide world!
There's nothing better, we get to…'
The familiar sounding words jump off the pages.
You stop reading them, having seen enough. You flip through more pages.
…It's another unattuned spell book. It's not identical to the one Beatrice presented you with, but it's definitely one of those types of books. It definitely has that sort of magic in it. It describes the same ritual to attune.
It's a book written by Maria, the Witch of Origins, to turn an ordinary woman into a witch!
At hearing your announcement, Beatrice actually gets shocked out of maintaining her magic. The bindings on King Vlad disappear.
You watch him, but all he does is slump to the ground, still crying in pain.
You hand the book to Beatrice, who begins to flip through it.
"…This is real. This is written by her hand. This isn't a copy or anything else."
Beatrice turns back to King Vlad, still on the ground.
"Where did you get this–??" she screams.
King Vlad simply rocks in a fetal position.
"…Proper death…" he echoes.
Beatrice staggers back, anguished, then screams.
It's particularly loud, it even makes you jump.
She follows it up by pacing. Like a cat in a cage.
W-What's going on?
Why does he keep asking for a proper death??
Beatrice finally turns to you.
"His eyes! Erika asked for his eyes to keep him alive!"
Beatrice explains the full disgusting potential for magic.
Magic can be used to keep a mortal alive.
It can also be used to keep 'part' of a mortal alive.
That's why Erika asked for King Vlad's head, and then settled for his eyes.
She expects Beatrice to use magic to maintain the life in his eyes just enough that King Vlad's body will die but his eyes will live on.
"Then, I'll give it to Erika, who will… I don't know. Keep it as a trophy. Let him watch whatever shit she plans to do, for all eternity."
"Or she gets bored of it and lets him die, at least."
King Vlad is still in the corner, breathing.
"…Proper death… trade offered… you received it, Beatrice…"
"Don't you dare use my name!"
Beatrice starts to shake, then she holds up the knife for you to look at.
You notice the blade is curved inward. As if it was made to stab oneself.
"He was planning on slicing himself down the middle."
She explains that the more of a mortal that gets damaged, the harder it is to keep them alive.
If he tore through his heart, lungs, and more…
…He'd die beyond the point even the strongest magic could pull him back.
… It's a lot to take in, but your mind is working fast enough you can understand it all.
What do you do, then? What will Beatrice do?
Beatrice grimaces, truly conflicted.
"Technically speaking, letting King Vlad die now… it'd likely count as interfering with one of Erika's magical experiments."
Beatrice explains that there are taboo rules that witches are never, ever, supposed to cross. Stark lines punished by the entire society. They are absolute. They're called the Pax Bernkastel.
"I don't have time to fully explain, but these cannot be violated! Ever!"
King Vlad darkly laughs from the corner.
"You witches… you couldn't organize yourselves. That was your downfall."
"You shut up!"
…Well, so what, you say to Beatrice?
Take the book, take the eyes, don't give him another moment's thought!
"Maria was my apprentice! Moreover, she's dead! Has been since before his purge of all witches even started! There's only so many of these books left! I need to know how many more there are… for her sake!"
She stalks right up to King Vlad's body and throws her pipe at him. It explodes in a shard of clay pieces that pierce his body, sticking out from his skin and making him look like a porcupine. He contorts in yet more pain
"Why do you have this??"
He coughs, rolling… before speaking.
"…Cut me enough to die, properly…
…Let me see my family again…
…I'll explain to you as I breathe my last…
…I never alter deals I make. Even with witches."
He makes his final offer, then waits, breathing starkly.
Beatrice, meanwhile, turns and falls on the bed.
"I can't do it. I can't do it, Edwys. If I do it, it's inviting Erika to call down every witch in existence to end my life."
…She wants to know what King Vlad knows.
Could you do it, you ask?
Beatrice looks up, tears in her eyes.
"…No. I explained it to you. And you know the consequences. Erika would be justified in invoking the Pax Bernkastel on you as well."
She clarifies: violation of the Pax Bernkastel is an immediate and total death sentence. To be executed by every single witch who exists.
…Can you lie about it, you ask?
Beatrice turns her head.
"Erika is the Witch of Truth. She'll tease out any attempted deception. And don't you ever try that. Never. Not about the Pax."
You let out a sigh.
King Vlad is still moaning in the corner.
…He looks so pitiful. The man you once thought so powerful.
Yet, doesn't he still have power, even now? Enough to unnerve Beatrice and try to bargain for the way he dies, and death itself. You don't doubt if it wasn't for the Pax, Beatrice would've taken his deal.
There has to be a solution. Even if it's not the best one.
Beatrice is too emotional to see it.
Maybe you as a witch 'newborn' can find it.
>Appeal to King Vlad. Explain to him how he made you feel and how his actions made you become a witch. Perhaps sentiment will move him enough to speak freely about what he knows.
>Appeal to Erika. She's still out there. Keep King Vlad alive long enough that you can get her permission to, possibly, give King Vlad a proper death in exchange for his words. Perhaps the shock of finding another of Maria's books will move her.
>Appeal to Beatrice. It's time to let Maria go. Leave King Vlad alone and go to join Erika, as planned.
And we will have a talk to Beatrice after all of this. Did she offer Edwys Maria's book because she's still mourning for her former apprentice or because she has feelings for Edwys? Did she have have the same feelings for Maria? Does she still have?
In any case: If Maria is truly dead and Beatrice knows that, then she'll have to work on finding closure. Edwys will comfort her and support her and love her, but Beatrice needs to let go of the past.
I agree that we need to have a talk with Beatrice about what she's still carrying vis a vis Maria and how that might reflect on her relationship with us, but I get the feeling we might want to know what Vlad is hiding from us, and nothing in what we know of him suggests that he'd care about how we feel or why we became a witch. Erika's the only one that can let us get that information from Vlad and not risk breaking the Pax.
Option one. It's the hardest path, but I want him to know why he's suffering.
After further consideration, I agree with you. He should know why, and though we've thrown away much of our humanity already, Edwys deserves to hear it from his own lips. I'm changing my vote to
Option 3. I agree with oz on this one.
>3 votes for option one, appeal to King Vlad.
>3 votes for option three, persuade Beatrice it's time to let Maria go.
We have a tie.
I will come back in a few hours and check the vote again. If there is still a tie, I will flip a coin to decide the results. If you have not voted yet, I urge you to do so.
Please feel no pressure to change your vote. Changing your vote will not make the update come faster.
This probably belongs better in the chat thread, but I wanted to post it here so it's next to the vote count. To provide further context to why I think option 1 is our best choice here: we're going to have other chances to talk to Beatrice and possibly bring up the issues surrounding Maria. This is almost certainly our last time talking to Vlad. Further (and I'm probably going to step on some toes with this one), I'd like some sort of confirmation from anyone other than Beatrice that Vlad really did put the "three child maximum, if no son we're annulling the marriage and sending Edwys back to Virilia without her daughters" thing into effect. Edwys trusts Beatrice, but at this point I'm not 100% sure that I do. Hearing it from Vlad would put my mind at ease.
Look at it from Vlad’s perspective. He’s talking to two witches who just killed his maid, ripped out his eyes, murdered his unborn grandchild, and for all he knows on their way to massacre the castle. I don’t think he’s in a talkative mood without first guaranteeing his demands for death.
Option 1. As for Vlad, we can lie. Tell him we'll see it done, but only AFTER he speaks. Then spit at his feet and walk away. Lord knows he deserves it.
>5 votes for option one, appeal to King Vlad.
>3 votes for option three, persuade Beatrice it's time to let Maria go.
Try to persuade King Vlad to tell you freely.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You're going to talk to King Vlad, you say.
Beatrice's eyes light up in shock.
He's directly responsible for everything, and he has responsibility for you becoming a witch.
He may decide to speak freely.
You honestly can't see Erika being persuaded.
You've already deduced that despite their cooperation, Beatrice and Erika don't share the same values or are particularly friends. Beatrice's feelings will mean nothing to Erika.
And simply walking away won't give Beatrice closure.
That means persuading the man himself.
Beatrice takes your arm, lowering her voice to a whisper.
"Be very, very careful, Edwys. He is already using psychological warfare, even if he can't physically fight back."
She relates that she's aware of stories of newborn witches who commit suicide because they cannot handle what they've become. His first line to Edwys was to push her in that direction.
Even now, he may be just as dangerous, if not more so, than a witch-hunter.
"Witch-hunters do not allow themselves to truly learn about witches. They merely kill. This man? He lets himself learn."
You hear what sounds like laughter from the pile of skin and bones that is where King Vlad lies.
"I see. Even now, two witches tremble in fear of a cut-down, bleeding, dying old man."
You tell Beatrice, voice loud, that her warning won't be an issue.
You are a proud witch, forever now and ever more.
"…" Beatrice nods.
Your past fear of him is hard to shake off. As is your current fear of what he represents to you and all witch society.
There has truly been no other mortal like him, and you are going to talk to him. Appeal to him.
Greetings, Your Majesty, you begin.
King Vlad groans.
"Greetings to you, Your Royal Highness, Princess Edwys."
He knows that's not your name anymore. Not your title. Not your role.
"Mm. Yet I am still a King?"
–You want to know things. Things about being King.
Things that applied to the old you, Princess Edwys.
He's aware that what he did pushed you to become a witch, you ask?
King Vlad groans.
"So it wasn't from a promise of fun and happiness, every day?"
Beatrice shouts from the sideline.
You look back at her, eyes hard.
Beatrice quiets down. She won't cry out again.
It wasn't, you admit.
It was from a promise of misery and loneliness.
From him. To you.
Machinations behind the scenes of royal politics while the princess blissfully devoted herself to her pregnancy and motherhood.
King Vlad makes a sound like a cough.
"Everything I've done, I've done for my Kingdom," he says.
He lies still.
So you press on.
Did he really plan to annul your marriage with Tharja, after three children, if all were girls?
He answers immediately.
"Yes. I cannot risk not having a male heir. I cannot risk Tharja not being pragmatic enough to annul and remarry after I die."
…At least he's honest, you say.
And if you only produced daughters, you would then be sent back to your native Virilia, your daughters remaining in Ruhemania?
…He says no more, so you add on.
Does he not know how much that would hurt you? To not be able to become a mother? To be dishonored and likely unable to become pregnant, let alone marry, ever again?
King Vlad takes a breath.
"Do you know it would pain me to never see my granddaughters again?"
…And have female heirs not under his control.
"Mm. You are not wrong, but if they were in Virilia, that risk was low."
But a risk is still a risk.
You ask again, emotion creeping into your voice.
Would he not have stolen your children from you, 'for the sake of his Kingdom?'
King Vlad swallows. He obviously doesn't want to upset you, though he's failed in that regard.
"I would do anything for the good of my Kingdom, even that. To prevent any possible succession war."
Of course, you sneer.
And that brings you to the last point.
He planned to let you have only three children.
If you had any more than that, it would prompt another possible succession crisis with his offspring squabbling.
Is that not right??
King Vlad is still.
"Where did you hear that?"
He… honestly sounds surprised.
Is this surprise from you knowing it, or surprise that you're suggesting it?
You state it again, clearly:
He only planned to allow you to have three children!
"I said no such thing," he says.
You hear Beatrice gasp.
You look back at her, shock on your features.
"You did say that! You said it to Tharja when talking about his obligations! He would only need to give the Princess three children!"
King Vlad rolls, smacking his tongue.
"Ah. I did say that… but the full context is missing."
"What I meant was Edwys would only be allowed three children… until that suspicious midwife was gone."
"Assuming one was a boy, of course."
You lose your composure and shake him by the shoulders.
"I– do not lie!"
Still breathing deeply, you stop shaking him.
Is. He. Sure, you ask?
"Yes… though I did not mention the midwife to Tharja. What sense does it make? I suppose a witch does not see it…"
Calamities affect all Kingdoms.
Plagues. Famines. War.
It would make no sense to keep a small family. A trio of heirs, some of which may not even be men? It would be terribly unwise.
"I am not surprised Beatrice jumped to that conclusion. A witch protects their noble from all such things. They don't need a banquet hall full of heirs."
At the same time, Beatrice was too suspicious to ignore.
Every attempt to contact Elbania to verify her description ended in failure.
He could not rule out her being a witch, though he did not have full and complete proof.
With her so close to Edwys… the possibility of influence was high.
"That was why. After three babes, it would likely have been enough time to confirm and decide if she were a normal midwife."
You feel numb.
You don't think King Vlad is lying. What he says makes too much sense.
At the same time, you don't believe Beatrice manipulated you. At least knowingly.
That fact… that you were only to be allowed three children was the straw. The straw that caused you to break.
And it was a straw placed on your back by Beatrice.
"Edwys…" says Beatrice, slowly.
King Vlad interrupts her, and your thoughts, by coughing again.
"Tell me… was it a boy?" he asks.
It was, you reply.
He nods, rocking on the ground.
"Give me my proper death," he wheezes. "When I get to the other side, I will hold him. I will kiss him. I will whisper to him."
"…I will tell him I'm sorry."
"Sorry that a ruthless old man's political games resulted in his death at the hands of his mother. And that it wasn't her fault."
"This I will do for you."
"Because… it is something you will never, ever, be able to do yourself."
You stare at King Vlad's eyeless body in horror.
You feel as if your heart has been ripped in two all over again.
Your mind thinks of what could have been and you break down crying.
"Edwys, if you kill him, you will die. It will be the same as suicide!" interjects Beatrice.
As quickly as it started, your tears stop and you regain your composure.
You won't kill him. You won't give him his death.
However… you think you have found a way.
You lean over and slap King Vlad's face, staining your hand with blood once more.
You thank him for his honesty and indulging your questions. Even his offer.
Rather than give you closure, it will likely haunt you for the rest of your existence. He can take pride in that, can't he??
"Mm… I am not inclined to mirth… at the moment," he offers.
Neither are you.
That is why, you tell him, he will be around for that eternity, with you.
He will be attached to Erika's belt, or her hair ribbon, or wherever she wants him to be.
Is he listening? That is the name of a third witch, Erika.
THE ONE WHO IS KILLING EVERY SINGLE LAST INHABITANT OF THIS CURSED CASTLE, RIGHT NOW.
King Vlad lets out another groan.
"So much killing… you will only beget more witch-hunters… will the cycle ever end?"
As you said, you won't kill him. Neither will Beatrice. He was listening to you both talk about the Pax Bernkastel, is that right?
"I know all about your stupid Pax."
You hear Beatrice growl something in anger.
Right. No more dead witches.
After you take his eyes, you will talk to Erika.
You will try to persuade her not to follow through with her magic.
You and Beatrice both will 'vote' on it, and Erika will be in the minority.
If he starts talking about how he found Maria's Book, this is what you both will do.
You glance back at Beatrice.
Will that survive the Pax, you ask?
Beatrice hesitates, thinking.
"She will be under no obligation to listen to our 'vote'. But… I suppose as long as I fulfill my obligation to keep his eyes alive long enough to 'give' them to Erika to work her own magic, and we both merely passively ask her not to do it…"
She shuts her eyes, nodding.
"Yes, that should be acceptable. A simple request to not follow through will not be a violation of the Pax."
You turn back to King Vlad.
Well? What does he say?
This is the only offer you can make him. You'll admit freely that she still may not listen.
But this is all he will get. Take it or leave it.
A slim chance he will get his proper death, or a certain eternity as Erika's literal eyes.
King Vlad sighs.
"I suppose that's the most I, the great witch exterminator, can expect from a witch."
He coughs, smacking his lips as he tries to get the blood out of his mouth.
"Go on. Ask all you want to know. While I still have a tongue to say it."
You sigh in relief. Your emotions are finally dying down.
It wasn't exactly an appeal to his sentimentality, but you did find a way to get him to cooperate.
Hopefully this will give Beatrice the closure she needs. It's surely given you information.
…He still hasn't lied. At least that you don't think.
You can't help but feel a little fickle now that you have him cornered. It wouldn't hurt to ask him a few questions beyond Maria's Book, would it?
But, where to start?
>At the beginning. where did he get Maria's Book?
>What does King Vlad know? Did he know what he had in Maria's Book? Why did he keep it?
>Why did he execute Daniella?
>Why did he start his unification war and crusade against witches?
>How does he know about the Pax?
>Is being King fun?
>What did he really think of the Princess-you?
>What did Tharja think of you, really?
>…You'll let Beatrice take the lead. Prompt her to ask a question.
Much as I want to get to what Vlad and Tharja thought of Edwys, we should start with what's most important and work our way down-
Option 1, where did he get the book?
There's only two votes, but this is intended as one of those "Every choice will be available" segments that are also in Impregnator Kings from time to time.
>2 votes for option one. Where did he get Maria's Book?
Be direct and start with asking him where he got Maria's Book.
Poll closed. Update soon.
Best to get the business out of the way. Beatrice may grow antsy before you insert pleasure.
Where did he get Maria's Book, you ask?
"A guard brought it to me," he replies.
And where did this guard get it?
"From the dead body of my daughter, Lorenza, who he thought was an intruder."
… That's a surprise.
Tharja had a sister, you ask?
"Yes. An older sister."
He goes on to describe her.
She was restless. Liked to read. Uncontrollable.
She picked up strange habits.
Her favorite was becoming naked and going out to pick herbs at night.
But she couldn't get out of the impregnable Castle Valachia.
"She began sleeping with the guards in exchange for lowering the drawbridge."
Eventually King Vlad gave in.
He gave her the room Tharja now uses, and told her there was a secret passage she could use to take her outside.
"I wanted to spare her the humiliation of using her body, but it was too late."
She became pregnant at some point before he did that.
"Oh~? Or perhaps even after."
Beatrice finally interjects with a taunt. King Vlad merely groans.
He goes on to explain the circumstances of her demise:
One night, a guard heard skulking in the halls. He struck them down without any hesitance.
He then realized he had killed Lorenza. Naked under a black cloak. She carried powder with which to draw an image, a number of simple unrelated items, and…
The guard brought it all to King Vlad, expecting execution. He glanced through it, realized what the book was, kept it, and hushed up the rest of the incident.
"I'm thankful only the guard was illiterate."
Beatrice listens to King Vlad's explanation, lips pursed.
"Lorenza, pregnant, and with the tools and book needed to become a witch…"
It's identical to you.
She was planning to sacrifice her unborn child to become a witch.
"Mm. It seems she had no witch to help induce her pregnancy. She must have practiced it every night… waiting for the day."
King Vlad lets out a cough.
"If Daniella had found her, she would have burned the body, the tools, and the book. It was only by some miracle a guard found her first."
…No. You think you understand.
Daniella would have recognized the 'intruder' as Lorenza, and likely paid no mind.
Daniella knew everything that happened in the castle, it seemed. And King Vlad had given his blessing for Lorenza to come and go, even while doing such strange behavior. For that reason, she likely never considered Lorenza to be doing anything more than acting eccentric.
King Vlad breathes heavily, wheezing again.
"At any rate, I gave her a proper burial. The fact she was pregnant wasn't recorded. I then quietly instructed everyone that I never wanted to hear her name spoken, ever again."
–And they listened?"
Beatrice smacks her lips.
"You utterly ruthless tyrant," she chides.
"My word is law."
Your word is barbaric, you chime in. He didn't even punish his daughter's murderer?
King Vlad sighs.
"It was an honest mistake, without malice, done in the name of my protection."
And punishing him would've brought attention and made it impossible to keep 'hushed up'.
He says no more.
–Beatrice, you say. Isn't there a huge contradiction?
Between your own situation and Lorenza's?
"You saw it right away? You are impressive, Edwys."
You mustn't get distracted by Beatrice's little compliments.
The contradiction is that Lorenza had family members. Two of them. She could have used either of them for the ritual.
Unless King Vlad wants to say she's adopted.
He lets out a hard grunt. It seems he really doesn't like you suggesting that.
"She was my flesh and blood."
Yet, she didn't attempt violence on either him nor Tharja. …Or did she?
"Never. Not on Tharja either."
Beatrice takes a puff on her pipe.
"…It doesn't mean anything. It may have simply been the path of least resistance for her."
Right. Can't have King Vlad think his daughter was fond of him or anything.
King Vlad lies still, ignoring your provocation.
So you press on.
Doesn't it make sense his daughter would want to be a witch? A girl in such a miserable position… so utterly lonely.
That finally provokes him, and King Vlad practically snarls.
"She was not miserable!" He follows it up with a cough. "S-She had everything she wanted… even freedom."
Apparently not enough, you muse.
Beatrice speaks up.
"This doesn't solve the riddle entirely, but it's a good first step… the question is now, where did Lorenza get this book?"
King Vlad swears he has no idea.
"I find it unlikely it hid among the other books in the library."
Beatrice nods, slipping into thought as she puffs her pipe, thinking.
…Seems she's giving you free rein to ask more questions.
There might be something that gives you a better idea.
–Or at least is funny.
>Did he realize how rare Maria's Book truly was? That it would really work and wasn't fantasy?
>Why did he execute Daniella?
>Why did he start his unification war and crusade against witches?
>How does he know about the Pax?
>Is being King fun?
>What did he really think of the Princess-you?
>What did Tharja think of you, really?
>What was Lorenza like, besides some girl with loose morals who liked to get naked?
Option 7. It is a sorrowful thing we do today, and it is best to have as many plain answers as we can get.
Option 1. Let's get witch business sorted before we take on the potential whammies of what Vlad and Tharja think of us- or thought, I suppose.
>2 votes for option one, did he realize how rare Maria's Book truly was? That it would really work and wasn't fantasy?
>1 vote for option seven. What did Tharja think of you, really?
Ask about King Vlad's impression of the book.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You suppose it goes without saying.
But did King Vlad really understand what he had?
The key to a woman becoming a witch?
"Mm… I did."
It's common knowledge among witch-hunters, and him, that witches both do magic with, and can't survive without, their books.
But the question of 'where do those books come from?' was never answered. Until he found that one.
"How many like them have you seen?" asks Beatrice.
King Vlad sighs.
"Just the one. As I said, the witch-hunters would destroy all others."
He has no idea how many of Maria's books have been found by his witch-hunters.
Once a witch-hunter realizes they possess something that is magical, they burn it.
Or smash it. Or do whatever else they need to destroy the thing.
Afterward, King Vlad is told nothing, other than 'I encountered something belonging to a witch, I destroyed it, no trace remains.'
"I cannot even ask what it was."
Hm… so there's limits as to what King Vlad can ask and order his witch-hunters to do, you ask?
That seems unlikely.
"Yes, there are limits. Their devotion is to hunting witches… not me."
Even Beatrice is taken aback at that.
… So, he knew what he had.
"Yes. I thought it unlikely a woman's flight of fancy."
And that it was so precious and rare, he was even glad his own daughter died for the sake of him having it.
"…If her habits were to get her killed, then, yes, I'm glad she was killed by a guard rather than Daniella. –And especially glad she did not become a witch."
King Vlad turns his head toward Beatrice.
"This book… it was written by someone important to you?" he asks.
Beatrice hardens her face, watching him.
"It was." A long drag from her pipe. "My apprentice. Maria."
King Vlad sort of… smiles.
"What a happy book it is, is it not?" he asks.
It gets a knee-jerk reaction from Beatrice.
"Watch what you say, King," she bites out.
"Mm… merely remarking…"
He smacks his lips, smile fading.
"I did read it, that which could be read. The ritual was… interesting. Not what I expected at all. But… those beginning words. Where she talked about how witchcraft and magic was so very much fun. I began to wonder, 'is that how witches see it? Really?'"
You think you get the picture.
King Vlad never would've actually used the book in any capacity.
But he kept it as a vision into witch psychology and the mindset of a witch.
That in itself was worth more weight than gold.
King Vlad nods.
"There are more? Are they all like that?"
She explains that Maria was obsessed with creating books like that. And that she released them all throughout Ruhemania to be found, in hopes someone would be able to become a witch by themselves.
In actuality, those books take a long time to prepare. And witches personally reach out to women they think are deserving and can make the transition to becoming a witch, not just leave them with a book and hope for the best.
Certainly there's no pleasant introduction written like that.
"Interesting… very interesting…"
Beatrice rolls her eyes.
"Don't play sympathetic to me, King. You would have killed her, same as every other witch."
King Vlad coughs where he lies, throat strained.
"Oh, yes. I won't deny that. And yet… if only being a witch was as fun as this Maria wished it was."
He lets out a long sigh.
"We all know it isn't true, don't we?"
You're having fun, you assert.
You explained to him how much he hurt you. Vengeance is fun. Justice is fun. Severing all ties to your mortal life is fun.
And when it's over, you look forward to all the future happy days of fun you'll have, with Beatrice and Erika. And, yes, mourn not knowing the witches he's killed.
"…Mm. Apologies if I don't share the sentiment, Edwys."
You feel Beatrice come up behind you and touch your shoulder. Her lips at your ear.
"I look forward to them, too," she whispers.
You smile, leaning into her touch.
Your attention then focuses back on King Vlad.
That still doesn't explain why Lorenza had Maria's book. In fact, it makes it even more unlikely if your witch-hunters truly burn everything, you say.
King Vlad… twitches.
"…Sometimes, I am able to fool them."
He explains that he will occasionally send his witch-hunters out on errands.
Not during the Unification War, but after.
Things like 'This castle likely still has material in it. Bring it to me.'
"Weapons, books, gold, jewelry, things like that."
Once in a rare while, he will get something interesting that the witch-hunters do not realize is magic.
This perks Beatrice up.
"Oh~? Such as?"
"Letters, usually written in an incomprehensible language. A candle that never goes out. A book that has different contents whenever read to completion."
Beatrice's eyes widen.
"Dear Lord… where are they?!"
King Vlad… hesitates.
"Burned or otherwise destroyed. All of them."
… All so easily?
"I cannot secretly have a collection of magic artifacts while I organize witch-hunters. If I find one, I alert them they missed that it was magic, and leave it to them to destroy. Maria's Book has been the lone exception."
Beatrice is positively reeling.
"You should be thankful Knowledge is not here to tear you apart."
King Vlad sighs.
"Yet more concepts… how many are there, one must wonder."
You're getting bored.
It seems King Vlad's one and only saved magical artifact was Maria's Book.
Ironically, also the one that saved him by becoming a bargaining chip. For the moment.
…You take a look around the room.
He intentionally burns all magical artifacts, even if they might help him, purely to keep his witch-hunters from any sort of suspicion that he may not be as devoted to their cause as they think he is?
King Vlad lets out an indignant huff of air.
"I am so devoted. But you are right, more or less. They insist that all traces of witches are to be burned and forgotten, down to their clothes."
That's why this room is such a shell with such simple furnishing.
It's not humility, or eschewing any luxury.
The reason he has this room so empty is so his witch-hunters will think he doesn't use any magical artifacts in the privacy of his own room!
Are you correct??
King Vlad huddles his face close to his chest.
"Congratulations, Edwys. You figured it out… something I would never have dared spoke to anyone."
You can't help but grin, smugly.
Not at your display at intellect, but what you can lord over him.
He's not as powerful as he thinks he is. He's not as powerful as he acts, either.
"Trust is everything when it comes to the witch-hunters," he says. "And… it's for the greater good of our shared cause.
You sneer at him, hissing.
As he says.
You glance back at Beatrice.
She's still shaking her head.
"One of Knowledge's personal books… she would be horrified."
… You'll ask later.
>Why did he execute Daniella? Was she truly the last witch-hunter?
>Why did he start his unification war and crusade against witches?
>How does he know about the Pax?
>Is being King fun?
>What did he really think of the Princess-you?
>What did Tharja think of you, really?
>What was Lorenza like, besides some girl with loose morals who liked to get naked?
As before, I'm voting Option 6 (formerly Option 7). I don't know how many of these questions we'll get to ask, but I want Edwys to have the best answer she can get on this.
Voting Option 6, we need closure, then we can move on to the rest of the questions.
Option 6. Time to bite the bullet and find out if we really messed up.
>3 votes for option six, what did Tharja really think of you?
Ask King Vlad about Tharja's opinion of you.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You need a question just for you.
You tell King Vlad again. Every single last person in the Castle is being killed, right now.
Does he doubt, you ask?
"…No. Not when you're brazenly and openly throwing magic around."
This is happening because you're removing the last loose ends of your life. Princess Edwys will be remembered as just another death that must surely have happened when you finally collapse the castle.
There's one last loose end that isn't here, you say. Does he know who he is?
There's emotion creeping into your voice. You can't help it. You still haven't decided exactly what you're going to do with him, if anything.
This will help you decide.
You're going to ask King Vlad, and he's going to answer.
What did Tharja really think of you?
The Princess-you, Princess Edwys.
King Vlad's face tenses.
"Edwys… this is really a question for Tharja himself."
Tharja's not here, is he, you ask?
You don't care if this wasn't part of your deal. If he cares about his son, at all, he'll answer.
King Vlad hesitates, then nods.
"I don't live in his head. I'll tell you what I know from my interactions, but listen to me, Edwys…"
Tharja and him do not often discuss 'feelings'. They are men. Tharja is going to be King. He expects Tharja to play a role. It is not a role Tharja especially likes.
Their relationship is strained as a result.
You look back to Beatrice.
If she's observed or knows anything to contradict what he says, please speak up, you ask.
Beatrice nods. "Of course."
…You decide you'll start at the beginning.
How did Tharja react when King Vlad arranged their marriage?
King Vlad smacks his lips.
"He took it as another obligation he must resign himself to… until I told him you were coming from a distant land, far across the sea."
He was intrigued with you. He wanted to know more about you. He begged for a portrait to see what you looked like, which King Vlad didn't have.
King Vlad himself was pleased, but impressed upon him that he didn't need him to be romantic, he needed him to knock her up. Quickly.
–That he did, you reveal.
You recall Tharja mentioned King Vlad questioned Tharja's sexuality.
King Vlad goes silent.
"May I speak up, Edwys?" interjects Beatrice.
Beatrice knows Tharja has a lover who's a soldier in the castle. She observed them being amorous.
King Vlad sighs.
"Yes, I knew about that."
He explains he set Tharja on a schedule that included sparring with the guards, yet his muscles didn't develop. He could only conclude Tharja was not 'sparring'. At least not traditionally.
"That said, there's at least one female guard. He may have courted her as well."
He explains it's a tradition in which a woman 'renounces' her womanhood to serve as a soldier. Beatrice looks surprised at hearing that.
"Tharja may have found it romantic, I don't know," says King Vlad.
You recall Tharja did tell you in so many words that you weren't his first time.
Well, it seems your relationship wasn't destined to be one of true pure love between two virgins on their wedding day.
Still. He was a man. You didn't expect him to not have experience.
What about after that, you ask?
You specifically asked King Vlad for cosmetics and other things to entice Tharja and keep his attention. You were sincere.
You wanted his attention, but he seemed around much less often after it was discovered you were pregnant.
King Vlad… grumbles.
"Of course I needed to prepare him more to become heir once his role impregnating you was done. I make no apology for adding more tasks to his schedule."
Unlike the other cruelties King Vlad inflicted on you, you could forgive him that… if you were inclined to be forgiving.
There had to be a point… a specific point you stopped seeing him so much.
… It may have been around when Beatrice arrived?
King Vlad suddenly speaks up.
He recounts the time the entire castle was shut down, only to discover you masturbating in Tharja's bed.
Despite yourself, you can't help but go red in the face at hearing the naked old man talk about your sexuality.
"I heard the report from Daniella that you did it because you were missing your husband. You wanted Tharja. So, I gave you Tharja."
He specifically went and altered Tharja's schedule so that he would spend time with you.
So that you would be happy.
"Perhaps Tharja was not so happy with the arrangement," he ventures.
… Oh God.
That was it, that was when he started making love to you with less passion.
When you discovered he wasn't in his bed at night.
Yet he was suddenly there the next day, and pulled your hair during your sex.
You grit your teeth.
Tharja hated King Vlad setting a schedule for him. He hated the responsibility of needing to be his heir.
Therefore, when you complained to Daniella that you wanted Tharja, King Vlad altered his schedule so that he had to spend time with you.
In other words, you became an obligation.
A thing King Vlad needed him to do.
And he became bitter and resentful.
Moreover the novelty of your sex was wearing off with you pregnant and refusing to let him try new things in the bedroom.
That's it, isn't it??
King Vlad shudders.
"…I don't live inside his head, but…"
King Vlad confesses. He was trying to make you happy the only way he could see. He took the most direct action. That was his intention. Not to sour Tharja's relationship with you.
"Mm. And yet you didn't really care if they had a relationship, did you, King? You simply needed her womb and Tharja's seed."
King Vlad sighs.
"I wanted you both to be enthusiastic for each other. If it backfired… apologies."
Not for exterminating witches, but he does apologize for inadvertently making your relationship with Tharja distant and loveless.
…You have a few more questions.
Does Tharja know about witches?
King Vlad answers immediately.
"No. Daniella only trusted me to guide her. It was thought there were none left."
You have another question. This one for Beatrice.
Does she know about Tharja fathering any bastards??
"King Vlad sends him to bergs to represent him and introduce himself as heir. He gives Tharja an 'entertainment budget'. He also sends spies with him to see which brothels he visits and which prostitutes he lies with."
Before you can react, King Vlad convulses.
"How on Earth do you know that??"
Beatrice actually cackles.
"Ahahaha! I have an associate outside the castle, of course! We've been working together all along. It's scary what two mature witches can do, isn't it, King?"
King Vlad sputters, then lets himself sink back to the floor.
"God… damn you. I thought your god damned Pax would keep you isolated…"
You can't help melancholy from sweeping over you.
So, you were right. King Vlad expected Tharja to father a few bastards 'just in case', you say.
He rolls around, gritting his teeth.
"I knew it would happen. I know a man's urges. Better I see it and know than not."
So that's how it is.
You tilt your head back and realize there's… mist, around one of your eyes.
You dab it and wipe it away.
Probably just blood.
Where is Tharja, right now, you ask?
Don't lie. It'll make you mad, you add.
"…I sent him to the nearest monastery. I knew you were giving birth soon and wanted him to return with the priest to conduct the baptism."
Is that so…
Next question, you decide.
>Why did he execute Daniella? Was she truly the last witch-hunter?
>Why did he start his unification war and crusade against witches?
>How does he know about the seriousness of the Pax?
>Is being King fun? Does he like controlling people?
>While you're at it, what did he really think of the Princess-you?
>What was Lorenza like, what inspired her to be so eccentric?
>Well? How many prostitutes does Tharja see?
Damn. I was afraid we had done things that inadvertently drove Tharja away. I hadn't expected sleeping in his bed to be one of them, but refusing to let him experiment in the bedroom had occurred to me. Still… I don't think all doors are shut with Tharja. We'll have a chance there yet, if we want it and we play our cards right. We'll have to learn from our own mistakes, and Vlad's, but we might yet be able to make something happen. I think we need to hold on to that bit of humanity- blood my ass, you still have some very human feelings there, Edwys.
I should have thought of Sully sooner. I did think of her briefly when we were discussing whether or not to purge the whole castle.
Option 5, though I get the feeling I know what Vlad is going to say here. No way he thought of us as a daughter, but as a valuable tool and companion for his son? I can see that.
I have to disagree….. now that we have our closure, we need to look forward. We might be able to circle around to this, but the next most important topic has to be whether there are any witch hunters left.
Option 1. Threat assessment time.
>3 votes for option one, why did he execute Daniella? Was she truly the last witch-hunter?
>1 votes for option five, what did King Vlad think of the princess-you?
Talk about Daniella.
Poll closed. Update soon.
Enough about you, let's talk about how King Vlad is a de-toothed little snake, you say.
King Vlad sighs.
You continue, feeling much more at ease.
King Vlad had to know what was waiting for him outside his door, you ask.
Did he not hear his maid choking, then falling to her death?
If he wanted his 'proper death' so much, why did he hesitate to kill himself?
"I had to know. I suspected the midwife, but I had to know. …I didn't expect to see you."
Mm. Yet he did. A newborn little witch who cut off his only hope of escape.
"…Is there a point to this, Edwys? Yes, you crippled an elderly man in his bed."
And how did that old man become so defenseless?
He did it to himself, didn't he?
Daniella. He ordered her executed.
Why did he do that? It seems a little against common sense.
He had a 'suspicious midwife' in the castle. He had evidence his own daughter had been prepared to become a witch.
Why kill his only witch-hunter?
Either there's more witch-hunters out there than he's talking about, or he's incredibly stupid.
Somehow you don't think this old man reached such an old age by being stupid.
–And if you recall, he said he sends his witch-hunters out on 'errands'.
Before King Vlad replies, you hear some applause behind you.
"Splendid, Edwys. You found a possibility even I didn't consider."
You grin, awash with satisfaction. You are smart. You are talented.
This proved it.
You turn your attention back to King Vlad.
He's still rocking, you think he's trying to decide how to answer. Or at least how to phrae his response.
"There was one other."
Daniella was designated as a passive witch-hunter. She had a job that would keep her in the castle. She would protect King Vlad's life, serve him, and await a time there may be cause to pursue a witch.
There was another.
He was an active witch-hunter. He was sent out into the countryside to actively pursue any possible reports or accounts of witches.
Even when they thought they all were dead, you ask? In a time of no more witches?
King Vlad nods.
"It's what they do. They do not rest."
King Vlad had assigned Simon a seasonal task: patrol the country. No particular 'errand'.
He was given a specific time frame to return. This was absolute.
Encountered witches were to be reported to King Vlad, unless he had absolutely no choice but to fight.
King Vlad valued his witch-hunters, especially with only two of them left.
"He did not return within that window. That means he is dead."
But he could still come back.
… How does he know?
"He was not assigned to do anything but go into towns and ask if any suspicious persons were seen lately. If anyone hassled the peasantry."
He could still come back. A hold up due to injury or… something.
"It's been over a year."
…All right, fine. You're sick of arguing.
But that still means he was being tremendously stupid when he killed Daniella.
Beatrice manipulated a situation where he needed to pass judgment on Daniella.
Daniella could have said something to defend herself.
She could've showed remorse.
Or even if she couldn't have done either of those things, King Vlad could've handed her a lighter punishment. Maiming. The stocks. Whatever.
King Vlad groans, shaking his head.
"She was executed for disobeying me."
Before witch-hunters came to serve King Vlad, they were a disorganized sort. Very zealous, to various degrees.
"Some were terrible. They'd execute any woman for so much as carrying a book. Or even for seeming 'too unique'."
King Vlad changed that.
Witch-hunters are only to kill if they absolutely, certainly, beyond any shadow of a doubt, know that their target is a witch.
"I would not lead a pack of wild murderers. Of braying dogs."
"Yes, you did."
King Vlad sighs, turning over.
"There were still 'incidents'. When the Unification War was going on, the punishments were different. But, now…"
No killing, unless they are one-hundred percent sure the target is a witch.
"Is that right? And how would they prove all that when they burn every trace?"
"…The witch-hunters are honest to me. That is our trust."
Another long sigh from King Vlad.
"Daniella violated that trust."
He explains that Daniella is a second-generation witch-hunter.
She did not directly suffer from a witch. She did not live through a massacre or anything else. She was a child of witch-hunters who did. They raised her as they lived.
"To an extent, this was preferable. She grew up trusting me much more…"
But it also meant she was restless. She had not really ever 'hunted'. She was more sensitive to threats.
"When Beatrice arrived, Daniella would not sit still. Every meeting we had, she requested permission to kill the witch. Stab her, burn her book, and destroy her."
Beatrice makes an irritated little sound.
"I told her no. And I kept telling her no. I told her she must be genial with this suspicious woman. She must be obedient. Treat her as an honored guest. But, she must also keep her eyes and ears open in caution. Only when she had undeniable proof would I tolerate any killing."
Before you can think to ask anything, Beatrice stalks closer.
"Why? Because you're so 'moral'? What's another death to order people to stay silent about?" she asks.
A rueful sigh.
"It was also for the sake of the princess."
Beatrice breaks into a stark grin.
"Oh, so I was right. All of it was theater for the sake of the princess! So she would think you were fair and just."
King Vlad grumbles.
"Are you not listening? …I knew when I heard what happened that Daniella had overstepped her bounds. She disobeyed me. She took action into her own hands contrary to my order and burned Beatrice's book. And since she obviously hadn't died, there was no way she did any of it with 'undeniable proof'."
His eyelids scrunch on his face, bleeding hot streaks.
"When I asked her if she was 'sorry,' I wasn't asking for Beatrice… I was asking for me."
You blink at King Vlad as he relives that moment. It's so very similar. Finality in his words, but pain and anguish in his heart.
A master asked his dog if it was sorry for biting his hand, and the dog told him 'no'.
"Disobedience gets the stake. It's true with everyone in the Kingdom. Even… even one of my witch-hunters." He gasps out, voice tired.
Did he know she had threatened you, you ask?
She had blackmailed you.
You were neglected by Tharja and started a sexual relationship with Beatrice. Daniella found out about it. She threatened to take the information to him and have your marriage with Tharja annulled on the basis of adultery if you didn't cooperate.
The cooperation was to find when Beatrice left her book alone, and then Daniella would break in and burn it. –Though she hadn't told you what she intended to do with the book at the time. Just that she'd 'glance' at it.
King Vlad rolls on his back as he hears your words.
"I knew nothing of that. I would not have annulled your marriage, either. I would have punished Daniella severely for daring to make such a move without my express permission. –Perhaps not the stake, but something to humble her. Though if she was keeping information from me… she was betraying me more than I even thought."
…He would've kept the information in reserve though, right? It would be an easy thing to use to annul your marriage with Tharja, if you gave birth to only girls.
"No, I do not care. Tharja had his own 'dalliances,' why would I care about yours, as long as it is not with a man? As for if it reached the point you produced only girls, I would have used something else. Annulling it because of adultery on your part would imply Tharja was not an attentive partner, and I couldn't have that if I needed to try to matchmake him again."
…You sigh, your mind running over your memories and the emotions you felt at that time.
If you had the spine to balk and tell the King what Daniella had done…
No, if you had refused to help Daniella at all, Daniella would've been unable to do anything.
–No. Only for the old you. The weaker you. The you that had roles to play. Roles that didn't require she be strong and be able to make decisions for herself.
Beatrice taps King Vlad's side with a foot.
"Short-sighted of you, though, isn't it? Never considered that the princess would have an 'intimate' relationship with such a suspicious woman," taunts Beatrice.
"…I see. Is that what led you down this path, Edwys?"
Beatrice's face grimaces in anger.
"Shut up. No more commentary from you on our relationship."
Beatrice steps back, turning to you again.
"We're still no closer to finding out where Lorenza found one of Maria's Books. If this Simon was merely 'patrolling', then he was likely not searching for magical artifacts. Not to mention it sounds like the dates may be off when it comes to Simon and Lorenza's deaths."
King Vlad confirms Simon had already left the castle before Lorenza died. The time frame 'window' for when he would have returned had also already closed.
You're honestly not sure about this 'Simon,' but it sounds like grilling King Vlad won't get you more information.
Maybe there was something else…
>Why did he start his unification war and crusade against witches?
>How does he know about the Pax?
>Is being King fun?
>What did he really think of the Princess-you?
>What was Lorenza like, besides some girl with loose morals who liked to get naked?
Ask how he knew about the Pax. Option 2.
>1 vote for option two, ask how he knows about the Pax.
Poll closed. Update soon.
There's another thing you're curious about.
You know next to nothing about Witch society… but he really seems to know a lot.
Is it from old notes brought to him by unwary witch-hunters?
He already said they were written in code.
Somehow you doubt he was able to spy on any witch.
That leaves one option that you can see.
Torturing one for information, perhaps?
Beatrice makes a little noise of consideration.
"This is getting farther away from solving the mystery, but I want to hear the answer for this, too. This we need to know."
King Vlad… smiles.
"You were sloppy… witches tend to get sloppy and lazy… because you think you're invincible…"
He begins to explain.
At first in the Unification War, they were very, very cautious.
King Vlad led the army against the mortal noble foe. They tried to pursue open battles instead of long sieges, but it wasn't always possible.
While they did that, the witch-hunters were sent out to find where the witch lived.
Most of the time, the witch didn't live near the noble in question.
They preferred isolation.
"Their noble would live in a mansion or small holding, rarely a castle, and the witch would have their own residence more hidden away in a more inaccessible place… those I know little about because even then the witch-hunters would only tell me 'We found the lair of the witch, she has been killed, and all traces are destroyed.'"
You look back at Beatrice. She stands rigidly there with her lips puckered.
…She's pained. The talk of the war is clearly paining her.
You offer her a hand, and she gently takes it.
Eventually they encountered witches who all but lived with their noble. Who would live in a tower in the same castle, or a hole carved into a mountain, or some other place.
"When we found them, it meant my soldiers, and me, could reach the witch first, and the witch-hunters would need to masquerade as ordinary soldiers and wait."
It was then King Vlad was able to find information.
Written in human language.
Letters from one witch to another.
"The witch-hunters destroyed it all, but not before I could glance at it. The Pax was one of them. …A poor lonely witch begging her friend to invite her over to play. A desperate letter from one witch to another, telling her that there was something odd about the latest war and they needed to meet, right now, but she couldn't show up because of this 'Pax'…"
He laughs again.
–What's he talking about, you ask Beatrice?
She explains not interfering with another witch's magical experiments is only one part of the Pax. The other parts include 'Don't interfere with my pets,' and 'No unsolicited visits.'
No unsolicited visits…
So this man was killing every last witch, and no one did anything because showing up at another witch's door meant death?
But if they were going to die anyway…
Beatrice's face hardens.
"The Pax is absolute, Edwys."
Before you can say anything else, King Vlad chuckles.
"Once I realized you had some rule preventing you from uniting, everything became easier. I had more than enough titles to declare myself King. That's when I just demanded every other noble bend the knee or face war."
So that's when his Unification War truly began.
"Indeed. The tide was already in our favor. It just inspired more support."
The commoners now saw the war as within measurable distance of an end.
So did the witch-hunters.
Just knowledge of the Pax made him able to accomplish everything he wanted in his lifetime.
Create a stable, united Ruhemania, free from witches.
"But… I am curious. Why have such a rule in the first place?"
Beatrice goes silent.
"I see… questions for thee, but not for me," he muses.
Beatrice shakes her head.
"It's annoying to be in the midst of magical research and have some other witch show up, demanding to be entertained."
"…Hm, is that all," King Vlad grunts.
You mouth the words: Really?
Beatrice shakes her head.
You supposed you learned something, besides more about the Pax and your obligation to follow it. Mortals learning even a little about witch society is very, very dangerous.
On the other hand.
That told you nothing about Lorenza or Maria's Book.
"On the contrary, Edwys. I think I'm beginning to develop an idea… keep asking questions."
Where to go now…
>He sounded like he was having fun talking about it. Why did he start his unification war and crusade against witches?
>Is being King fun?
>What did he really think of the Princess-you?
>What was Lorenza like, besides some girl with loose morals who liked to get naked?
>Has he ever personally killed a witch? With his own hands?
Option 3, not least of which because I'm a little worried that Beatrice might cut things short if we get enough witch-related answers out of him to let her form a hypothesis.
I gotta say, I only see two possibilities at this point: one, Vlad is lying to us in an attempt to appeal to what humanity we have left and convince us to kill ourselves, and/or possibly try to take out Beatrice and Erika. Or two, Beatrice (perhaps intentionally, probably inadvertently) pulled a Palpatine on us.
Agreed, these two possibilities are the only ones I can see left, really.
As for the vote, I also agree, but for different reasons. Nonetheless, Option 3.
>3 votes for option three, what did he think of the princess-you?
Ask King Vlad what he thought of Princess Edwys.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You can't help but feel your head is swimming a bit. There's so many possibilities of things to ask, and only a little bit of time before either King Vlad dies of blood loss, Erika gets done cleansing the castle, or Beatrice puts together a good theory of where Maria's Book came from.
You need another one for you.
…What did King Vlad think of the Princess-you, you ask?
King Vlad's head turns to you in surprise.
But more than that, you feel Beatrice's hand squeeze yours.
"Edwys, that's…" she clears her throat, "…that's not exactly a question that's going to help."
You can hear the fear in her voice, her hand trembling, and you know what she must be thinking about.
You tell her it's fine.
You just need closure.
She needs to know about Maria's Book for closure, correct? You need it, too.
Beatrice goes silent, but she doesn't let go of your hand.
Well? You ask King Vlad.
You watch him shudder.
"I thought you beautiful." He starts, voice weak. "I thought you kind… Polite. A fine bride for Tharja."
He smacks his lips, trying to clear out more blood from around his lips that's dripped down from his useless eye sockets.
"I saw your long hair and knew I made the right decision. A woman who maintains such long hair, even through such a long journey overseas and through the swampland and marshes of Ruhemania, would be just as dutiful to being a mother. I was thankful that I had been able to reach an agreement with Virilia."
Ah, yes. Your long hair.
You weren't sure if you'd keep it as your 'look,' now. It definitely still emphasized fecundity…
He shifts on the floor.
"And, I was sorry my first act was to make you cry."
"When I denied you a wedding ceremony."
You had almost forgotten.
You had cried terribly. So much so, that he ordered you outright to be taken away. Then Daniella had to console you and tell you that you were actually a fair man. A good King.
He remains silent, so you press on.
Why were you denied a wedding ceremony, you ask?
It was rather cruel to do to a new bride. Who was going to be the mother of his grandchildren.
King Vlad… sighs.
"I knew it would bring you no happiness. There would be no one to be there for it."
Castle Valachia is completely empty.
No one would be there to attend, other than her, Tharja, himself, perhaps Ricardo from the treasury, and a handful of maids and guards.
"You would have realized right away how lonely you were to be. Given that your first request was to ask for a friend, I was right."
Tharja was a lovely husband. He was passionate. He beguiled you. He romanced you. But he wasn't always around. Neither was he a woman to talk about womanly things with.
So, you jumped at the opportunity to have a friend.
"…Furthermore, I knew I could trust you."
He had discovered Lorenza was trying to become a witch.
He knew a dead blood relative was part of the ritual.
As a woman from such a distant land, you would have no relatives nearby so worrying about you becoming a witch would be no problem… except for when you too became pregnant.
"That was why I made an arrangement with Virilia, from so far away."
His face tenses.
"…Also, I thought you an emotional woman. One who didn't fit what I knew a witch would act like."
So he trusted you not to be a witch.
Or become one, with you doubtless being 'advertised' as a devoted wife who wanted to be an enthusiastic mother.
Yet he would've taken your children from you if the first three were girls and thrown you aside.
"As I've said, yes. I will not deny."
…So he always thought of you as a tool. Never as a daughter.
He rolls his shoulders.
"I… need to think of my Kingdom first. It's my duty, as King."
You sigh and simply shake your head.
"…Daniella was fond of you," he says.
"Daniella, she liked you."
You let go of Beatrice's hand.
You reach forward and with your bare hands grasp clay shards from where Beatrice stuck him with her thrown pipe.
You twist the two you grab, hard, cutting into his flesh, until he yells in agony.
The Daniella who was his tool?? His dog?? The Daniella who manipulated your feelings for her own ends and did not care how much it pained you? How terrified you were?? To do whatever she said??
You hear a soft voice behind you.
Even Beatrice sounds shocked, but you don't care.
You twist again.
"S-She… she sympathized with you!"
King Vlad curls tighter into a ball, but still he won't obey.
"S-She and Simon were married!"
You pause, for the moment.
King Vlad catches his breath. He desperately speaks.
"S-Simon… he was her husband… she h-had to accept he was dead…"
"…I know she didn't want to, but she needed to…"
"When you told her how much you needed Tharja, that night…"
"She sympathized terribly…"
"S-She came to me, in tears, she begged for me to allow you to see Tharja more…"
"…I would've done it anyway, but I had never seen her so moved…"
"T-That's the truth."
Your cheeks are hot for some reason, but you let go of the shards.
You get the picture.
She saw your situation in hers. And the dog was moved to whimper.
Then, that suspicious woman came to the castle.
And you took her side.
And you shared your bed.
And you shared little moments of intimacy with her and bonded with her. More than friends.
And when push came to shove, you refused to help her kill the witch.
That's when she decided to throw her sympathy all away and use what she knew about you.
And disobey King Vlad at the same time.
King Vlad nods.
"L-Likely." Another sigh from him. "S-she was likely hypervigilant after Simon died as well… and after Lorenza died so mysteriously… and I refused to talk about it."
Yes. That's likely where the trust issues Daniella had with King Vlad really began.
You take a deep breath. Your body is shaking for some reason.
"…Does it matter, in the end?"
Beatrice's voice comes from behind you. You feel her hand on your shoulder.
You can't help but voice your next question.
Beatrice, you ask, was the story she told you about how she became a midwife true?
She was masquerading as an aristocrat, so it must have all been fantasy, right?
You hear Beatrice give a long sigh.
"P-Please Edwys… don't make me talk about who I was before I was a witch…"
She tells you it was a metaphor.
That Maria was not literally pregnant, but she was begging to become a witch. She was suffering.
–It makes sense, you say.
Quietly, you're thinking to yourself.
You decide to voice your thoughts.
Did Beatrice help you so much because she saw 'Maria' in you, or you for you?
"Maria is gone forever. You are here, Edwys. I saw a lonely, desperate girl, who needed help and deserved more, Edwys. I knew you wouldn't be happy with what this fiend of a King was doing to you. If I hadn't thought so, I would've left."
King Vlad turns his head toward Beatrice's voice, his mouth tense and teeth bared.
"Truly? I gave her the best life a princess could have," he asserts
Beatrice scoffs in reply.
"–With the best that I had, I did the best for her."
"You were going to take her children away!"
"Any King would do the same! A Kingdom simply needs heirs!"
"You're just trying to sugarcoat the poison you feed her!"
"And you aren't?!"
He turns back to you.
"Edwys, tell me. What sense does it make that I would only allow you three children? What sense does it make that this witch hears one incomplete truth I mutter to my son when it's something he wants to hear, and she treats it as complete gospel? Is it because she is a terrible spy, or was it because she knew she found something that would truly push you over the edge and twist you into something… something else?"
You hear Beatrice give a quiet gasp, her fingers on your shoulder squeeze.
"Edwys… this is when you should stop listening to him."
King Vlad shakes his head.
"No. Not anymore. I will speak, and I will be heard; she will hear about the depths of a witch's cruelty."
Beatrice's hand quivers.
King Vlad rolls his body as much as he can to face you, no longer flinching at the pain his wounds must be causing.
"Edwys, do you understand why the Pax kept the witches from uniting?"
Beatrice tries to interrupt him again, but he presses on.
"It's because witches never accept death."
And again, she tries to shut him up.
"They'd rather try to fight back an army of witch-hunters by themselves than accept they would definitely die."
The 'shut ups' are becoming louder, more desperate.
"Because when a witch dies, nothing is left!"
Beatrice outright snarls.
"Shut up, King!!"
King Vlad, yells back at Beatrice.
"There's only one way you can shut me up!!"
Beatrice stops, paralyzed.
"Edwys, you won't go to heaven or to hell. You've ripped out your soul, burned it away, and replaced it with a book."
"Will you birth many children now? Won't they be mortal? Will they accept their mother is a witch? Will they call her 'Mama' or 'Monster'?"
You physically recoil from King Vlad's words.
He presses on, blood practically frothing from his mouth in a grotesque display.
"You'll never grow old, but you'll have to watch them grow old."
"Or will you help the girls become witches by killing the boys?"
"And witch-hunters? What of the witch-hunters who will come when you need bodies for your magical experiments? Do you know the pain of losing your children to the struggle between witches and witch-hunters?"
"I do. I do! Tharja is my eleventh child, from my sixth wife!!"
He sucks in a pained breath through gritted teeth.
"…Realize you've made a mistake."
Realize all this 'magic' you've been promised is fueled by human misery."
Beatrice tries to yell over him.
"And your war wasn't?! Your slaughter?? Your 'stability'??"
King Vlad continues on.
"There's no 'fun' to be had in being a witch. No happiness."
"Realize it before you no longer care."
"I know part of you still cares, Edwys."
"The part of you that loved Tharja, and innocently wanted to be a good wife and a perfect mother."
"The Edwys I did my best to encourage and protect."
"…I'll keep my promise. In the afterlife. I will keep it. I swear."
He conjures up all the force he can, you think you can hear his bones cracking as he gathers the energy to shout.
"Destroy your book!"
He finishes his rant with a wheeze, and speaks no more.
"Edwys… please, no…" pleads Beatrice.
>Destroy your book. (GAME OVER. Bad end.)
>Rip out King Vlad's tongue.
>Kill King Vlad.
No write-ins, please.
Also, note that option 3 does not result in a GAME OVER. Only option 1 results in a GAME OVER.
Damn… getting way heavier than I expected from this story
My initial instinct is Op3, but that's a bad end….. If Op3 doesn't win, can we see the "ending" in chat-thread?
Anyways, I'm going with Option 2, with a write-in of a counter-rant of our own in response. Something along the lines of "The happiness I will gain will be from seeing myself heavy with child, and I will love them with all my heart whether they love me or hate me!"
Whoops, meant Option 1 for the first bit…. I really should read closer.
Option one. I'm conflicted, but he's right, every payoff lewd or otherwise from now on is tainted.
As much as I dislike the monstrosity that Edwys has become, as much as I wish we could have followed any other path, as much as I'm tempted to take the bad end here… All of those other choices were made. And destroying ourselves now gains us nothing. Vlad has done us a mercy by pointing out just what we've done to ourselves and discussing the truths of our life. It hurts, and he very well could be lying. But I don't think he is. I want to return the favor by killing him. As a mercy. Don't let Erika have him as a plaything. If there is an afterlife (and we're in a world of witches, why shouldn't there be?), send him there. Let him comfort the son we failed. To hell with Erika.
Option 2. Neither side can tell the full story. And even if they did… well, what's done is done, and denying Erika her prize would be the spark of another war, with you being the weakest party and most likely victim.
Nothing on this path brings me joy, but nothing could have after Daniella forced our hand.
Option 3. Edwys wasn't shown the TOS before cracking the seal.
>2 votes for option one destroy your own book. (bad end)
>5 votes for option two, rip out King Vlad's tongue.
>2 votes for option three, kill King Vlad.
Rip out King Vlad's tongue.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You bring up your hands and reach out with your fingers, still wet with blood.
One hand braces down, the other extends and grabs what it needs to grab.
Not the pages of your book to kill yourself, but…
King Vlad's tongue.
You pull so much you also end up yanking out a few loose teeth with it.
It's grotesque. Violent.
… You spend the next moment breathing, calming yourself.
King Vlad is rolling on the floor in yet more pain, but you're finally getting your emotions under control.
With King Vlad's voice gone, urging you to extremes of anger, regret, and despair… those bad emotions finally begin to drip away from you. Like wringing out a used rag.
…the quick wit and perfect memory you've been able to gain as a witch comes back.
You toss King Vlad's tongue away. Just holding it is repulsive.
Beatrice is still shock frozen off to the side. So you take the initiative.
…You know what he's trying to do, you say.
Beatrice warned you from the first word you announced you would talk with him.
Even now, he's the great witch exterminator, trying to kill one or two last witches with words alone. With emotional barbs. With guilt and promises of misery.
And… he's very good at what he does. Too good. You may have been persuaded.
He painted it as such a great gesture of redemption, after all.
You crawl forward until you're close enough you're sure he can hear what you have to tell him.
–Several problems with what King Vlad's said, you say.
You were so overwhelmed with emotions you couldn't see it. Not at first.
Likely Beatrice couldn't either. She was dealing with her own emotions about Maria. And… you.
You'll start with something simple.
There's no 'fun' in witchcraft?
No 'happiness'? Just murder and death and cruelty?
Yet King Vlad describes finding a very ordinary letter from one witch to another… merely begging her to invite her over to play? How can that be? Are there nothing but games of death?
Again, something interesting.
He somehow has mitigating circumstances or extra 'context' for anything and everything Beatrice has heard him say or do through her spying.
And yet, whenever they talk about something that happened before Beatrice arrived, King Vlad's motives are pure, his private actions kind, and even Daniella is crying, scraping, and pleading on your behalf?
That sounds awfully suspicious. The discrepancy.
…Here's the real clue, you say.
King Vlad doesn't lie, yet by his own admission, he admits to telling Tharja 'incomplete truths,' because they're what he wants to hear?
In other words, something to tell Tharja to placate him and make him do King Vlad's will.
King Vlad has curled up on the floor. It's clear he's trying to ignore you now. Or at least keep himself from reacting in any way to confirm your accusations.
Why not? You took away his only weapon.
Even a toothless snake still has a tongue.
But, not anymore.
…You have some more personal observations to make.
King Vlad didn't give you a ceremony because he knew you'd be lonely that no one would be there?
Then why did not King Vlad import a few more nobles to Castle Valachia? If not his own country, then from Elbania, like Beatrice was supposed to be from? The castle has enough rooms and servants for them. He didn't even commit to bringing her until you were confirmed as being pregnant; your 'reward' for dutifully getting pregnant. If he cared at all about your happiness and having friends, he would've acted much sooner. If he was trying to keep you happy in a gilded cage, it was a gilded cage built on the cheap.
King Vlad altered Tharja's schedule so that you would be happy?
Or was it because you had caused all the guards to shut down and search the castle?
–Something King Vlad obviously doesn't like. The guard who killed Lorenza immediately took Lorenza's body to him, rather than do the obvious thing of trying to hide it or even alert the other guards. You don't doubt the castle would've been locked down immediately if someone was missing or an intruder was found.
Why didn't that guard alert the other guards, King Vlad?
Was the killing done on his orders? Or was he just that much of a tyrant?
You're not getting any reaction from him.
He's not going to let you know where the truth ends and the lies begin. Or where the truth is half-truth, at best.
…Two more things.
'King Vlad does not alter deals he agrees to'? It does sound nice. The policy of a fair and just King.
You'll even play by the same rules.
As offered and accepted, you agreed to ask Erika to not complete her magical experiment to keep him alive if he solved the riddle of where Maria's Book came from.
It looks like he can't follow through. The riddle of Lorenza and Maria's Book wasn't solved.
Therefore, he hasn't held up his part of the bargain.
You're freed from any obligation to talk to Erika as a result.
You're not required to follow through with anything.
If Erika gets bored, and King Vlad indeed ever gets his 'proper death,' you don't need King Vlad to hold your baby and say anything to it.
He is obviously not going to go where it is under any circumstance, if the afterlife indeed does exist.
Neither will you believe he cares. If he cared at all about his unborn grandchild, why did he order Lorenza to be quietly buried without any record of her being pregnant? If he truly believed what he said, the child would have had its own, separate burial.
If he cared about any of his children, why did he continue to play the 'witch and witch-hunter' game? He could have stepped away.
That finally gets a reaction. In the form of his body shuddering.
There's so many more possibilities you can see.
But it all leads you toward one conclusion.
Maybe you and your children you'll have as a witch will have problems.
…But you will love them. You'll love carrying them. Birthing them. You'll be able to give them a life of love and happiness. You're immortal, so you will always be there for them.
Children you had with Tharja in King Vlad's castle, on the other hand…
Tharja didn't love you. You refuse to believe that a little pining and discomfort over having your hair pulled made him hate you.
And even if King Vlad was telling the truth and he would have allowed you more than three children… would they have had good lives?
As political pawns?
Daniella was a second-generation witch-hunter, bred to be loyal to King Vlad.
And where was the third-generation to come from, with Daniella and her mate dead? Tharja, with prostitutes? Or… you?
You know he can't reply.
But even if he wouldn't make them witch-hunters, and simply kept them as 'good heirs' to be used, their relationship with you would've been just as twisted as yours and Tharja's.
They'd see you as an emotional and needy woman who's useful only in terms of the role you play for them.
And you're done with playing roles. You're living for you.
You finally pick up your book, stand up, and step away from King Vlad.
He can't hurt you anymore.
He can't hurt anyone anymore.
He's tried to force you into the abyss, and you're taking a literal and metaphorical step back.
You turn around and see Beatrice.
She steps forward and hugs you, enveloping you in an embrace.
Why is she sorry, you ask?
She brushes your long hair with a soft hand. You can feel her crying.
"…I shouldn't have let either of us talk to King Vlad."
She knew from the beginning he'd do anything he could to push his worldview on them.
He had Beatrice herself half-convinced.
That's why she couldn't do more than yell at him to shut up.
"I didn't know where to begin…"
Of course being a witch is fun. Of course there's happiness in being a witch.
Maria knew it. Beatrice knows it.
Only women who were pushed so much into the depths of despair can know the heights of joy in being freed of it.
"You are turning out to be a little more blood-thirsty than I thought you would be, Edwys, but if that's the witch you want to be, that's fine. You've… suffered enough to earn it."
You hug Beatrice back and soothe her.
She really thought you would destroy your book?
Beatrice's body goes tense.
…Don't be scared, you say.
You're a witch, forever and ever more.
And… King Vlad's crusade can now truly end.
No more dead witches.
You gradually separate, pondering what to do next.
Is he going to die before you can give his eyes to Erika, you ask?
Beatrice shakes her head.
"I'm already using my magic to stop that. As long as his organs are still intact, he's fine."
–You feel a little guilty, you tell her. You didn't fully get an answer as to where Lorenza, and therefore King Vlad, got Maria's Book.
Beatrice gives a long sigh.
"We heard enough. I actually have a theory, Edwys… one I think we can prove rather quickly. Before we leave the castle."
Should you go out, or just wait for Erika?
Beatrice rubs her face with her free hand.
"As it is, let's just wait. Make sure he doesn't smash his head open, or something."
King Vlad lies in the corner. He ignores you.
Meanwhile, you both decide to check entirely if there's anything left in King Vlad's room that you may have overlooked.
Some magical artifact, or something else hidden in his bed. The walls, the floor.
You find nothing, but at least you can say you left no stone unturned.
If you had simply killed King Vlad or let him kill himself, it's likely you never would have even known about Maria's Book.
It doesn't take long before Erika joins you in the room, through the door.
Her appearance is repulsive. She's covered in blood as if she were swimming in it. Moreover, she smells like it as well.
"Hello? What's been taking you both so long? I was expecting you to… things… do!"
You tell Erika that you both were distracted.
King Vlad, even as a naked old man, has been very tenacious.
She sticks a pinky finger in her ear and cleans it with her fingernail.
"Figures. Maybe you both had the more dangerous job after all."
Erika reports she's thoroughly cleansed the castle.
Everyone is dead. All exits were blocked or destroyed.
Making sure no one fled the castle was easy because it's surrounded by an open field with only stakes, and no cover to escape into.
If anyone's hiding in a shelter or under the pile of bodies, it's irrelevant because you're going to collapse the entire castle, though she's positive that can't be the case.
Moreover, the animals were killed so no one could escape by horseback.
–You still feel guilty about that.
"Hey, I didn't enjoy it. Horses aren't my thing."
"Erika. I have a pertinent question for you."
Beatrice suddenly sounds very serious.
Distracted, Erika steps over, as if noticing King Vlad's body for the first time.
"So, this is it… the man himself."
She leans over King Vlad.
You finally hear another reaction from the man: a whimper.
"Still breathing I see! Got the eyes for me, Beatrice?"
Beatrice comes over and hands King Vlad's eyeballs to her, complete with dangling viscera.
…You're almost tempted to speak up in the end, but no.
King Vlad killed too many of you.
He tried to kill you and Beatrice. His words were a dagger aimed right at your heart, and hers.
In the end… you watch, silently.
Erika's face lights up in sadistic glee.
You watch her book open, burning with a dark, black ichor.
It shifts around like a mass of gross oil until it jumps over the eyes, covering them.
They shine with the aftereffects of the magic until it swirls to a stop.
She lets out a satisfied cackle.
Then, she turns back to you all.
"We don't need the rest of him anymore! Let's give it the send off it deserves."
King Vlad's throat makes one more moan.
Erika's face loses its sadistic mirth.
She looks at you both, not with a sadistic manic grimace, but a flat and serious face.
"You know… on behalf of all the witches who can't."
She looks at Beatrice. Then you.
She raises her book.
"Gertrude…" she begins.
Beatrice nods, raising her own book.
You open your own book, turning the pages…
You missed it in the excitement of your new power. There's a map of residences of other witches, along with names.
You notice some discrepancies… but you decide to join in, raising your book.
Ruby, you intone.
Hm, she's not on the list.
"Angie," adds Beatrice.
You hear King Vlad whimper again.
Your book runs out of names.
Neither say anything else.
Both of their books begin to burn with magical energy.
You add your own power, concentrating.
You turn to King Vlad.
Your combined power begins to converge, hotter than a furnace.
Even you aren't sure what's being cast.
There's a tremendous flash of magical energy. Beatrice's golden butterflies, Erika's black ichor, and your own burgeoning magical power, yet to develop its own shape and color.
It jumps from the pages and envelopes his body. You watch it wash over him like a wave.
Several seconds pass as it strips skin, flesh, sinew, organ, bones, and then…
A pile of ash is left, with no trace, save the eyes in Erika's hand, and the tongue you flung to the side.
It's… it's over.
You all three stare.
Even Erika doesn't celebrate. You just catch your breath.
The first one to break the silence is you. You can't help laughing. Not from vengeance but… relief.
The man tortured the mortal you and now has been destroyed by the witch you.
You're truly free.
Erika wipes blood off her face, and suddenly her entire body is shucked free of blood as well. There's no trace of blood or anything else on her body or clothes. Leaving her looking fresh as a daisy.
Until she puts King Vlad's eyes up in her flower headdress.
"Hey everyone! I've got King Vlad's eyes, on the brain!"
She balls her hands into fists and tucks them under her chin.
Beatrice shakes her head, hiding a mouth with her hand as she shudders. Possibly with laughter, or revulsion.
Yes, does Erika mind if she puts those away for a while?
You'd rather not think King Vlad's watching you, at the moment.
"Oh, Beatrice told you what these were for? Well, whatever."
She shrugs, then does so, shoving them into a pocket.
"Anyway, I wanted his entire head. Then he'd be able to hear and speak!"
–She should be grateful she won't hear him speak, you say.
"Erika. A moment please."
Beatrice holds up Maria's book.
"Do you recognize this, Erika?"
Erika squints her eyes.
"Does it start with 'This sure is your lucky day!'?"
Beatrice grits her teeth.
"So it was you, Erika!!"
"You gave this book to Lorenza!"
"…Who? Oh! That girl? Yeah, me! All me."
"Where did you get it??"
"Where do you think? Maria gave it to me."
Beatrice staggers, taken aback.
"Maria… gave it to you?"
"Uh… yeah? She gave it to me while she was alive?"
Beatrice hardens her face again.
Erika… gives a little faux-laugh.
"Beatrice, is that really any business of yours?"
"I asked her for one. She freely gave it."
Beatrice narrows her eyes.
You're starting to feel uncomfortable, but you're unsure how to affect the situation, so you stand back.
"…Say it in red."
Erika's eyes go wide and she outright gasps.
"Hold on– the high and mighty Beatrice, the Infinite Golden Witch, is asking me to use the red??" She sneers, mockingly. "Now, this is amazing! I never thought I'd see the day!"
Beatrice glares at her, hard, her book starting to burn gold in her hand.
"Do it, Erika!"
Erika sighs, and shrugs, effecting at being put-upon.
She speaks, literal red words of magical energy tumbling out of her mouth.
*Erika, commonly known as the Witch of Devastation, did ask Maria, the Witch of Origins, for one unattuned spellbook, with no provided reason given as to why. Witch Maria did freely and happily fulfill that request, giving one unattuned spellbook to Witch Erika. Witch Erika kept it in her possession before relinquishing it to some mortal. This book is the same one Witch Beatrice holds in her hands, right now.*
Beatrice lets out a long sigh, you can watch the tenseness leave her body.
"Thank you," she whispers.
Erika gives her a side-eyed glance.
"Yeah, you're welcome. Said Witch Erika would appreciate you giving that back."
You finally step in.
Erika relinquished it to a mortal, right? So, she forfeited all ownership of the book.
That book was then seized by King Vlad. And it was then reclaimed by Beatrice.
It wasn't stolen from Erika; she let it go.
And by principle of 'spoils of war,' it should now belong to Beatrice.
"…Are you serious?" asks Erika.
Erika sighs, shaking her head, effecting at being put-upon again.
"Well, if it's the newbie's reasoning, I suppose it's fine. I didn't have any mortals I particularly wanted to help attune anyway."
Beatrice clicks her tongue.
"Let me see if I understand this, Erika. You encountered Lorenza, and gave her Maria's book?"
Erika's response is immediate.
"Of course I did!"
"And you knew who she was?"
"Of course I knew!"
"Do you not know how dangerous that is??"
"Hey, sink or swim. It worked out, didn't it? I thought for sure when they killed her, they'd have burned it. You got it back. No harm, no foul."
It did give King Vlad a powerful weapon. For psychological warfare, and knowing what to look for in the creation of a new witch.
"Ah, yes… the man who's a smoking pile of ash. Given an ironic fate of the same death he gave every witch he killed." She smacks her lips. "Like I said, no harm, no foul."
You shake your head. You suppose you'll just have to accept this is the truth.
"…Besides, Beatrice. How do you not already know this? Who did you think that weird woman who went to your home with my message and told you exactly where to meet me was?"
Beatrice blinks, eyes wide.
"I… I don't know."
"It was her."
Come to think of it, the idea of the Pax's rule against unsolicited visits, and Beatrice and Erika's contrasting personalities, does conflict with the idea they were working together. Did it make sense either of them had any invitation to go to each other, wherever they were? So… Erika got around it by sending a messenger.
Erika met Lorenza outside the castle, seduced her, and used her to contact Beatrice. The book was given in exchange.
Unlike how Beatrice helped you, Erika just left Lorenza to take her chances.
Then… either King Vlad found out about it and had his guard kill her, or she honestly was mistaken for and killed as an intruder.
Looks like the mystery is solved, you say.
Beatrice can have her closure.
She nods, before taking Maria's book and tucking it away.
Erika coughs, clearing her throat.
"Who's ready to collapse the castle? There's nothing left for us here. Unless anyone needs a lot of dead bodies."
"Um, actually… Edwys…"
Beatrice has to confess to you.
The closest thing King Vlad said to the truth about magic is that magical experiments do require human bodies… sometimes.
"A lot," chimes in Erika.
"When it comes to restoring your physical body to a previous state, or making a cosmetic change, that magic is relatively easy."
But the results you were excited for with rapid, forced multiple, instant, or eternal pregnancy, will take time, and body parts, to study.
"Getting pregnant immediately again and taking away any aches, mood swings, or other symptoms you don't like will be simple, at least."
…You frown a little. So, there's the price to pay.
You suppose you realized it right away when you attuned. Your spellbook left you only wanting to study and absorb your newfound power more. You didn't blink and just suddenly become powerful.
Erika pipes in.
"There are plenty of ovaries to grab on the way out, if you want to get started right away."
You think for a moment.
Did you want anything at all from the castle?
This was your absolute last chance to take something with you. Even if it was just body parts to help kick-start your study.
>You do want to study. 'Harvest' from some bodies, a little.
>You want something practical. The library has a lot of books left. Take them with you.
>You want something sentimental. Go to your room and take a little… memento.
>No, take nothing.
>Take some combination of items. (Write-in.)
Option two, the books. There's bound to be medical texts among the collection, right?
Option 5, the combination. Definitely any medical texts, as Femanon suggested. I'd like to grab a memento of some sort from our room. And I'm not opposed to gathering some, ah, study materials.
combination of medical books and body parts. Theory and practice at the same time.
Books and bits, for sure….. Is there even anything in our room we would honestly want to keep? I don't know, maybe we can make a detour and take one last look at the place of our rebirth, since we're going to turn it into a sinkhole anyways.
Looking back at what we got from Vlad way back when… some trinket or piece of jewelry? A dress, perhaps? I'm guessing Edwys hasn't thought to take off her wedding ring. Just as soon we keep that.
Here's some possible trinkets:
Hair brush she brought from Virilia.
Wedding ring. (I'm gonna rule she took it off because her ring size changed during pregnancy.)
Anything with other jewelry. (Embroidered dress, hat, etc.)
Ah, thank you. Hairbrush and ring would be my preference.
Option one. A small selection of male and female reproductive organs.
We don't need trinkets. We have magic now, we can create what we need, at least after some practice. The books aren't likely to help, at least not any more than studying anatomy directly.
>1 vote for option one, harvest. (Ovaries, some testes)
>1 vote for option two, bring along the library books.
>4 votes for option five, harvest, and bring along books. (With one vote for including a trinket.)
Harvest mortals' bodies, and save the books from the library.
Poll closed. Update soon.
…You will harvest.
You're a witch. You have goals. You know what you want to pursue.
Being squeamish won't help you. Hopefully you will master it as quickly as possible. If not… you'll harvest more.
For now, 'waste not want not'.
The castle is truly disgusting.
The soldiers guarding King Vlad's tower have had the cleanest deaths, with the sharp stake to the neck.
Other traps Beatrice produced tore open bodies, leaving an awful mess.
And the entire outside…
You ask Beatrice and Erika time to concentrate on a spell in which you can alter your senses. You drastically need to plug your nose.
In all, you do find a few parts worth taking.
You find the female soldier. She has the best ovaries intact.
The maids were too old. The peasants were also torn up by Erika.
It's as if they were thrown into a machine.
Erika just… smiles.
"Preeetty much. Sometimes you just need an area cleansed as quickly as possible."
Beatrice makes a disapproving sound.
"This didn't leave much for Edwys, Erika."
Erika just sighs at Beatrice's words.
"Look, it's a big castle. Even if I wanted to save her a womb or two, I needed to do 'crowd control'."
Each bit will help you reach your goal.
You won't have to wait nine months, unless you want to.
Yes. Those thoughts make you thoroughly check each woman.
–Still, none are quite as good as the female soldier's. She had armor. She was in very good shape.
The guards to King Vlad's tower provide the best male parts for you.
"…You're going to take male organs too, Edwys?"
Beatrice has no reply.
Erika just laughs.
"She's got the right idea. Cut out the middle man!"
The prospect of taking a man and keeping him, or perhaps luring a man to where you live, is appealing.
You point out that the library has many books.
Books are truly a treasure, even if they're not magical. They may contain knowledge they should save.
You remember barely being able to retain information you read from the books when you were mortal. That shouldn't be a problem now.
Anatomy books may help aid your research as well.
Beatrice and Erika agree.
The area of your rebirth is the same as you left it.
The body you used to sacrifice is gone, but the symbol is there and so are the other random items used in the ritual.
"…This is kind of creepy."
Erika says the words with a shiver down her spine.
What's wrong, you ask?
It was… your rebirth. The moment you became a witch. The instant your being attuned itself to your book. When one of Maria's Books became your unique spellbook.
"That's what makes it creepy!"
"I understand Erika's feelings. She's never had the experience of talking with a mortal and helping them become a witch. Of guiding them through the ritual and telling them what they must do. –She just threw a book at Lorenza and told her to find her own way."
Erika makes an indignant little noise.
"It wasn't all like that! I told her one thing. I told her she'd be better off waiting for that baby in her belly. King Vlad was a killer, and her brother would probably be guarded, too."
Ah. So it really was the path of least resistance when it came to Lorenza's choice of sacrifice.
"–Anyway, it might not seem weird to you now, but you're going to think this moment is very awkward in a century or two, Edwys," Erika adds.
She reiterates what you know. Witches just don't talk about who they were before they became witches.
You suppose you can understand. You weren't exactly in a good place. King Vlad did everything he could to conjure up your negative feelings about your life and use them against you.
… And yet…
An idea seizes you.
Why not just ask them who they were?
They know who you were.
Beatrice and Erika both share a bond with you.
With Beatrice, you've shared many intimate moments. In bed and outside.
But, she couldn't have succeeded without Erika on the outside. In a way, Beatrice was with you in the light, Erika was with you in the shadows.
…This could be a special moment to bond in a way few witches can.
>Heartfully and innocently ask Beatrice and Erika… who were they? How did they become witches?
>Respect witch taboos.
Alas, poor Sully. Was halfway hoping she had escorted Tharja to the monastery, though at this point I'm not surprised she was here.
Option one. There's been some talk in the chat thread about the possibility of making some changes to the Pax, so as to prevent another purge like Vlad's. Putting a chink in witch tradition now may make that easier later.
Option 2. We've had a peek at what made Beatrice, and I don't want to imagine what created Erika. Let the past be, and let them extend the same courtesy to you.
Let's grab our hairbrush while we're here, and then GTFO.
As for the actual choice….. write in. Respect the taboos, while making it clear that SOME of them need to change, particularly the ones that made all this possible in the first place.
To phrase it a better way, make it clear that we will respect the taboos that make sense, but things like "no unannounced visits upon pain of death" need to be changed to prevent any more mass deaths of witches.
With the addition of explaining our reasoning that some aspects of the pax need to be changed.
Option two, and doesn't grabbing the hairbrush kind of go completely against the whole abandon the past train we've been on?
I'm sorry. There were not enough votes to include taking a trinket of any kind. Harvesting from bodies and taking books was the winner.
Also, I understand the enthusiasm to have Edwys talk about the Pax and the possibility of changing it, and I promise I will include an opportunity for that when appropriate, but this is not a vote to talk about the Pax.
Edwys is still barely a witch "newborn," she only knows Erika and Beatrice. She does not even know why the Pax exists, because they haven't told her about the Bernkastel-Lambdadelta conflict. No doubt she is already full of questions as to why it exists, but right now it is more about encouraging Beatrice and Erika to share with each other an increase their mutual bond then encourage them to flout taboos in general.
Please continue to vote.
To make it clear, I need clarification before I can count this. Is it a vote to encourage them to talk?
Feel like I owe you an apology for setting the conversation in the direction of the Pax with my vote. I was fully intending it just as a way to get them talking, not as a lead in for "Let's reform witch culture right here and right now".
If that is the case, then im changing my vote to option 2
No, if there will definitely be a point for bringing up changing the pax later, I'll vote Option 2 here.
>1 vote for option one, ask Beatrice and Erika about their pasts.
>4 votes for option two, don't ask Beatrice and Erika about their pasts. Respect the taboos here.
Remain in the dark about who Beatrice and Erika were as mortals.
Poll closed. Update soon.
As much as you are curious, and how it might make you closer… it could easily backfire. A taboo is a taboo.
And, Erika is probably right. In the distant future, you won't remember the mortal you.
You walk into the middle of the ritual symbol. Your ritual symbol.
It feels so long ago, you say.
It's been maybe two hours? It's not even close to sunset.
…But so much has happened.
"We did something no witch has done and lived, Edwys."
Erika tilts her head.
"What exactly happened in there?"
You decide to go ahead and tell her.
How King Vlad pleaded for his life, and then had Maria's Book to dangle in front of Beatrice. You explain how he managed to convince you it was in your interest to make him a deal to 'persuade' Erika not to keep his eyes.
"…Huh. You know, a few words to me and I would've been able to clear it all up."
"Well, we didn't know that. Besides… you were in the midst of it still."
In the end, King Vlad grabbed every emotional string in your heart and pulled. To try to convince you that you were too evil to live.
That all witches are too cruel to live.
Erika makes no response to the unstated assertion you're making. That everything you've seen of Erika tells you that she's very casually cruel. But, you press on anyway.
…What's Erika's response, you ask?
You can see several replies.
'Who cares? We're stronger.'
'Cruelty is relative.'
'Cruelty only matters when it's against things that matter.'
'Cruelty is necessary for us to live.'
You know Beatrice dislikes 'excesses,' so what about Erika?
"…You like to get deep, don't you, newbie?"
Erika gives you a scrutinizing expression.
"She's still finding herself, Erika."
She stalks over to you, until she disturbs your ritual circle and stands next to you. Right in your personal space. You almost take a step back.
"Newbie… lemme whisper something to you. Something so Beatrice won't scoff."
… You lean closer.
Erika's breath is hot on the shell of your ear.
"There's a truth that other people have, and there's a truth that you have… when you try to alter other people's truth, you're fighting an uphill battle. Not unwinnable, but difficult. …When you're relying on your truth, and that's all that matters, you have the initiative."
In other words, King Vlad had his truth. Trying to prove King Vlad wrong would… have meant killing yourself.
It's better to live and let the King Vlad's of the world try to prove you wrong.
Erika laughs, a small breathless giggle.
"You're smart. Seriously, consider becoming my apprentice."
Erika pulls back, giving you a little smile.
"Hey! Let's let King Vlad watch as we pilfer his library and collapse his castle. Why not?"
You think you understand Erika's viewpoint more.
She puts his eyes back in her headpiece as you three scoop out every book from the library.
Even the irrelevant books. Someone might want them, and it's always good to have resources that can't be made with magic.
You leave the library an empty shell by the time you're done.
That's the only place you return to.
Your bedroom, with any mementos you could take, you leave it behind.
You'd long since removed your wedding ring due to your aching fingers and set it with your other jewelry. But…
As your thoughts flit to what that band once represented, your fingers go to your ring finger, twist around a phantom ring that isn't there, pull it off… and let it drop away.
Collapsing the castle is going to cause an earthquake that will be heard for miles. There's no way to prevent this.
To avoid problems with you all possibly being sucked into it, Erika and Beatrice are going to use their magic to fly.
In other words, you're going to be held in Beatrice's arms.
It's an intimate embrace, but you're used to it with Beatrice.
Your eyes watch the impressive and foreboding stone structure you've known for the past nine-ten months. That you were to be kept forever inside.
It looks so different from up here. …Small.
Erika's magic is more severe, she's going to collapse the structure. The center.
Beatrice's magic is more subtle and will cause the field of stakes to split and crumble.
You don't have to concentrate on helping their spell, so instead you use your spellbook to enhance your senses.
You see it.
Daniella's stake. With her skeleton still there.
You have to change the direction of your magic and use it to shield your ears next. The destruction is happening.
You've both floated enough away that you won't get caught in the inevitable cloud of dust and stone.
It's a truly impressive sight that you decide to watch.
The history of Ruhemania truly collapses as the castle falls apart.
Ironically, the King's tower is the first structure to slip and fall. The rest slowly follow suit.
Erika's promise was apt. No one could survive it.
The sinkage falls deeper and deeper into the hill until it's completely buried with Earth and the refuse that was the moat.
The stakes collapse inward, splinter, and break.
Castle Valachia is no more.
No one will know what happened to it, save for you, Beatrice, Erika, and King Vlad's eyes.
You touch down into a tiny little patch of open land in a bit of forest.
Beatrice lets you slip from her grasp and you all three settle down.
…You take a deep breath.
You have no more ties. It's done.
"…Is it, Edwys?"
Beatrice gives you a knowing look.
There is one more link.
King Vlad said he was returning to the castle with a priest to conduct your baptism.
"We could kill him," says Erika.
…That is something you could do.
At the same time…
…You feel empty.
You want babies.
Erika and Beatrice both laugh at you.
You pout, then tell them you're serious.
"I get it… just… wow, newbie. You're anxious to get more inside you that quick? Before you know where you're going to sleep tonight?"
Yes, you say.
"Apologies, Edwys. Let's just… decide what you want to do, if anything, with the last link."
Is it too early to use him like a witch used to use nobles? In the time before King Vlad?
Beatrice lets out a surprised 'Hoh~?' sound while Erika turns her head.
"You act fast, newbie. But leeching off a noble kinda takes work…"
Unfortunately, there's some hard truths:
You both just destroyed Tharja's home. There's no land he can give you. The country is definitely going to plunge into a desperate political climate and they need to wait a few years to see who wins the power struggle.
Furthermore, mortals want luxury, usually. Not just food, but the finest tasting food there is. Not just gold, but great amounts of it they can carry and spend immediately. Your current 'basic' spell Maria puts in her books to give yourself some plain bread as a form of sustenance isn't going to cut it.
"You really should learn from one of us, Edwys. If not fully apprenticing yourself."
…You can't deny your sisters' logic.
All right. Letting Tharja stay in the mortal world as your noble with you as his 'witch' isn't possible. It may never be possible. And you're not even sure you want that. Even if you completely remake your appearance so that he never recognizes you.
You talk with Erika and Beatrice and narrow down your options.
You can outright kill him. Beatrice and Erika will help you hunt him down, intercept him, and tear him apart.
You can leave him alone, and just let him think he survived the 'earthquake' that destroyed Castle Valachia by sheer luck.
Erika has a dark smile on her features.
"Hey, Edwys… want to get started on some magical experimenting right away? With 'live' parts, as it is?"
Though, isn't that asking too much? You really don't know where you're going to spend the night.
"Don't worry! Beatrice still has her mansion. I'm sure she won't mind inviting us over now that things have gotten so desperate… right, Beatrice? As you promised?"
"…Yes, there's too much going on."
Beatrice explains that she survived King Vlad's war because she eschewed influencing mortals and simply lived in an inaccessible mansion in a swamp. It matches what you vaguely remember from the map.
Erika faked her death. She had to let her entire mansion and magical research be destroyed to do so.
As such, Beatrice promised Erika she could stay, temporarily, in Beatrice's mansion until she found or created her own, after their cooperation in destroying King Vlad as a threat was complete.
As the witch who played the largest part of your ascension into witchcraft, Beatrice must invite you too.
"…I'm really not sure about allowing a 'pet'. Especially a human mortal so intimately connected to you, Edwys."
"Easily solved!" pipes up Erika. "Just a little snip in the old brainbox area… leaves a mortal a drooling mess. He'll be lucky to remember his name."
"He'll still be able to get it up," she adds.
Beatrice rubs her face with a hand.
"Given it's the most direct source of sperm for Edwys to use for her dear magical experiments, I'll allow it."
A new thing to consider in how you will remove the absolute last trace to your previous life.
Killing Tharja is the most direct and permanent way. If you don't do it, there's a chance he could still be alive in a few years.
Is there a chance he could win the power struggle and maintain being King of Ruhemania, you ask?
Erika and Beatrice both consider and offer their opinions.
"We destroyed his capital. We destroyed his stronghold to hide in. We destroyed the gold in his treasury. He'll only have nearby bergs and mansions to live in. He won't have an army to raise or means to maintain it. He'll be utterly defenseless if he tries. I'd say the odds are very slim, Edwys."
Beatrice nods, taking a puff on her pipe.
"I'm not quite so pessimistic on Junior Vlad's chances! I mean, he's the only living son of King Vlad. The peasants loved him. I mean, they worship him like a savior. You both don't know because you don't get out, but as someone who had to hide in the dirt like a filthy peasant… it's pretty bad. If Tharja's the type to walk around and really, really play up that he's the one true legitimate heir because he's the only one with King Vlad's blood, he'll have a lot of peasants willing to lick the shit off his boots."
Erika punctuates her argument with a giggle.
Beatrice makes a distasteful expression.
"As stark an image as that is, Erika, peasants with sticks can't siege castles."
"The nobles that are left in Ruhemania don't really live in castles."
…You favor Beatrice's interpretation.
Tharja isn't the type of egotistical personality to define himself in terms of King Vlad and his heritage. He may quietly abdicate all responsibilities and just leave the country entirely.
–Though he could possibly meet someone who would influence him to come back and try to unite the country again.
You have to wonder if King Vlad was completely truthful when he said Tharja was ignorant of magic and witches.
"Up to you, newbie! What's it gonna be? Decide quick, sunlight won't last forever."
The fate of Tharja…
>He must die. Arrange with Beatrice and Erika a plan to ambush the priest's caravan and murder everyone traveling.
>He must live. Leave Tharja to his fate and just retire to Beatrice's mansion.
>He must become material for your experiments. Capture Tharja, let Erika make him 'docile,' take him back to Beatrice's mansion.
>He must become your 'pet'. Kidnap Tharja, take him to Beatrice's mansion.
I don't have a vote on this one yet. I'd like to ask a couple questions and make a few comments first.
Option 1's pretty damn final, and I'd rather avoid it if possible.
Option 2, is this to be read as leaving Tharja the chance to reestablish himself, or as Option 1 without the window dressing of murder? As in "Tharja gets to live, but his role in the story is done"? If it's the first option, this actually is probably the more intriguing option to me, since it means in a few years (once we've had a chance to get better at witchery) we might have a chance to make Vlad's failure complete by turning Tharja into one of the nobles that the Unification War worked so hard to stamp out. If it's just option 1 with extra steps, less interesting.
Option 3: I'm guessing from Erika's description of what she'd do to him that this is basically lobotomy as it's portrayed in popular culture. Leaves us with (effectively) a zombie with working parts. Not sure how wild I am about that.
I honestly like option 4, but between Beatrice's disapproval and the way these votes usually go, I doubt it has a chance to win.
Again, no vote from me yet. Aristo, if you can provide any insight on anything above, I'd appreciate it. If that's asking too much, just say the word and I'll make the best choice I can.
Option 3. We can use him mostly intact, then salvage him for parts when we know more of what we're about.
Would've liked to keep him alive and aware the way Erika did with his father, but I don't think we'd be allowed to do that, even if we actually could.
Option 2 leaves a wide-range of possibilities open which I already had the characters discuss and can't really add to outside of the story. All three are very aware that what they've done is going to drastically alter Ruhemania. Edwys herself said earlier that cleansing the castle was likely to result in Ruhemania dissolving from a Kingdom back into independent territories that could easier be manipulated by the witches. At the very least, some sort of mortal political power struggle is going to take place.
It is not a guarantee either way that Tharja will appear in the story again, in a relevant or irrelevant way, or even that he will remain alive and not killed by some other party. All characters offer their viewpoints on the possible outcomes of leaving Tharja alive and free after what they've just done. They may or may not be wrong.
Please continue to vote.
The more I think about it, the less comfortable I am with the idea of deliberately mentally handicapping someone and then keeping them around as a glorified turkey baster. I'm voting Option 2 as a roll of the dice on what may come in the future. I'd go for four, but we're kind of backed into a corner on needing Beatrice's approval at this point.
Option 3 of course
Option two. Like I said, let Tharja be the King of Nothing. Living in the aftermath could make him as much of a shell as being lobotomized.
Option 3. We can always kill him later, if we have regrets, but we can't bring him back.
>2 votes for option two, leave Tharja to his fate, whatever it is, now that Castle Valachia is gone.
>5 votes for option three, capture Tharja, make him 'docile', use him as experiment material.
Tharja must be made 'docile' and become your experiment material.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You decide to ask Erika for more details.
After Tharja is made… 'docile,' could he be made whole and regain his free will again?
Erika raises an eyebrow.
Erika explains this isn't magic she'd be using.
She's saved King Vlad's eyes and is keeping him 'alive' and 'seeing' despite the fact it shouldn't be possible. He no longer has a brain, or anything else. He can't even use his eye muscles. He's just staring, observing, at whatever Erika points him at, forever.
With Tharja, she's going to just puncture his head, pull it out, stop the bleeding, and call it a day.
"It's possible, possible, that maybe, if you really really wanted to, you could injure a mortal's brain, keep it in a state between 'health' and 'decay,' and then either drop the magic and let it fall apart, or further use magic and put it back together…"
But that'd require a lot of work, preparation, and precise action.
"Erika's right. Restoring a mortal's arm or other part of his body is one thing, but the organs are… more difficult. That would include the brain."
So in other words, Erika's plan will truly cripple Tharja, forever. Even magic that could heal a mortal won't restore the damage done.
You get experiment material. Tharja is permanently removed from mortal society.
His death can be an 'unknown.' Or it can be thought that he made it to the castle with the priest before the earthquake and is trapped in the ruins with everyone else.
"…I have no right to deny Edwys her first living body. Very well," says Beatrice. "But, we do need to create a perfect plan."
You spend the next few minutes assessing risks and making a plan of attack.
If he's traveling with a priest, he'll be part of a caravan.
Erika suggests extremes of caution because this is attacking the Church.
"The Church is… special."
Unlike a country with noble political struggles, the Church is different.
They don't directly rule land in the same way nobles do. They rule the people's hearts and minds. The King can't kick them out, yet neither can they fight and gain territory. Territory is irrelevant.
Killing every last priest and collapsing the seat of the Pope still wouldn't end the Church's influence.
Attacking the Church would therefore not provoke the sort of chaos and confusion that leveling Castle Valachia would do. The vacated power structure would be quietly replaced by the authority and then there'd be an organized investigation.
"…so, we can't let even one person escape. Neither can we leave evidence they were attacked. We need to just capture your future human-doll, then get it all cleaned up as soon as possible."
You nod. Of course you know all about the importance of the Church. Beatrice needed a little more guidance, however.
Would it be better to wait until dark so they don't know what's hitting them?
Use your magical senses to see through the darkness and prevent any one from running off.
"Hm… problem with that, though. If one of them does run away, they'll likely hurt themselves or run into an animal that's more active at night. More blood to clean up."
Erika stresses: the hard part isn't going to be the actual attack. It's going to be leaving no trace.
In other words, you will have to participate. With your basic attack spell.
Your plan is made. Beatrice will sabotage the road and collapse whatever wagon or carriage they're using.
You and Erika will then spring forth and kill as many guards and animals as you can.
Beatrice will use her magic to make sure no one escapes or runs off. You will aim for big targets. Especially the horses.
It's expected for them to be armed since they're carrying Tharja, the Crown Prince.
Erika will get to Tharja as quickly as possible, disarm him, then… cut him.
You don't need to stare him in the face and laugh as his mind fades.
He's going to be experiment material, nothing more.
There's no reason to think he won't be along a certain road. Erika knows it well since she's been stalking outside the castle.
You hope that the caravan is still coming. It'd be terrible if they heard the destruction of Castle Valachia and decided to turn around.
Fortunately, that's not the case.
As sunset is winding down, you spot them in the distance.
Erika masks her presence and approaches from behind. Beatrice sets up magic to prevent you and her from being seen. You must stand still, but it doesn't matter.
Beatrice is creating a trap.
You don't see Tharja at first glance, he must be inside the actual covered cart.
Indeed, there's men with swords on the horses. They seem to be more for intimidation than actual protection. Their demeanor is casual and almost bored. How little they know.
Your heart races as you prepare to use your new magic again.
At first, Beatrice's magic is subtle. An axle on the carriage gives away and it falls to the ground. Dirt shifts under the horses' hooves and they stumble.
That's when Erika unfurls a dark scythe of black ichor and pounces.
That's when you begin firing your magic at the bigger guards in front of the caravan and the startled horses too.
In a manner of seconds, the mood of the caravan goes from calm to utter chaos.
Your shots don't kill each one, but Erika is right behind them to finish the job.
Beatrice has come out of hiding and is floating and watching the area, but there's no need.
The damage is done.
Erika rips open the side of the carriage, and her scythe turns into sharp magical blades.
Tharja lies at your feet.
He's the only one breathing, but he's not excited or terrified. Just natural unhurried breathing, in and out.
Erika did what she needed to do.
You simply watch over him while Beatrice and Erika start cleaning up everything.
The bodies, the carriage, even the hoof-prints in the dirt.
…You kneel and stroke Tharja's hair, a bit.
You were always so happy to see him. You still are, in a way.
It's twilight by the time you're done.
You keep searching, but find nothing that could indicate the attack happened.
Hopefully if it's ever investigated, they'll assume the caravan reached Castle Valachia just in time for the 'earthquake'.
Unfortunately, Beatrice's mansion is truly remote. You need to trek through a swamp. It isn't pleasant. Especially when you need to take care of what you've collected and harvested.
Thankfully Beatrice and Erika handle the 'heavy-lifting' while you navigate.
You're even able to use your map to reach it.
…You're curious why Erika isn't on the map, but decide not to ask. It's probably too close to the idea of 'Don't ask a witch who they were before they became a witch.'
You eventually reach Beatrice's mansion.
Her goat-butlers are indeed impressive, and Beatrice instructs them to make sure your collection is properly handled.
As her guests, you'll be given your own rooms. These are private, but you're expected to take care of them.
Beatrice is only housing Erika temporarily, though exact dates are not set.
You however, are free to stay until you're ready to leave. Whether that's on your own or with Erika, either is fine.
"You should probably make your decision now what you want to do, Edwys."
…You know what you want to do.
You want babies.
Beatrice just smiles and shakes her head.
"As expected. We'll give you a while to practice your first experiments."
Erika laughs as well.
"We'll be here when you come out, newbie."
…You thank them both.
The books will be held in a common area, though you take books related to male and female health.
The harvest from Castle Valachia is also yours, as is Tharja.
Tharja needs to be fed and sustained, but Beatrice can handle that. She'll make him food he can still eat which you can take to him.
With that, you disappear into your… research.
Concerns about changing your name or learning more about witch society are pushed to the back of your mind.
You want knowledge. You want research. You want to make your will possible.
Your spellbook absorbs the magic. You lose track of how much time you spend.
You… have enough to change your body.
You've restored your body as it was before you were first pregnant. You've made yourself ovulate, constantly. You'll never suffer a menstruation again, or a pesky 'safe' day.
You have sperm from Tharja, you are able to increase its 'potency' by using your magic and what knowledge you gain from the testes you harvested.
–You can't bring yourself to extract it any way except through your hand. It's just too much.
You may someday choose to seduce an actual man and have proper sex. Not that.
You have just enough ovaries to experiment with to add one aspect to your body.
You consider your options, and make a decision of what you want to do before you make yourself pregnant again.
>You want multiples. Gain magic so that you can carry a multiple pregnancy on command. Every pregnancy will be at least twins.
>You want a rapid pregnancy. Gain magic so you lower your gestation period and give birth in six-to-seven months instead of nine-to-ten. The babies will develop faster and give you a bump faster.
>You want to go into labor when you decide. Gain magic so that you will carry your pregnancy until you like and choose to give birth. You can delay your labor and make yourself overdue for months, but it will take the same gestation time.
>Something else. (Write-in.)
Oho, seems Aristo is taking bit of inspiration from that newer CYOA back then. I like this twist!
Makes me wonder if we are capable of..experimenting with other females with the magic we amassed.
But in any case, Option 3 as that's quite a convenient ability that will be useful to us as this CYOA progresses.
From a game standpoint, Maxi is objectively correct. The ability to choose when we're vulnerable during childbirth would be invaluable. However, I feel like it flies in the face of what Edwys wants. She's brought up wanting to get to having babies multiple times. She wants kids yesterday. To me that means option one or option two- multiple kids in the regular time or one kid faster. Given my own preferences on that…
I want to clarify that these are not "always on" permanent changes. If Edwys chooses, she can become pregnant without activating them. She can take her chances on if she has multiples, she can have a normal gestation, she can let nature decide when she goes into labor, etc. However, once she researches the spell, she has it forever. Just noting this is not an "unremovable" status effect, so to speak.
They will stack the more research she does, and be enhanced. So she could have a rapid pregnancy and then decide when to birth it. She could speed up gestation even more with more research, etc. Other aspects of altering pregnancy can also be accomplished.
(Please also keep in mind I will write and depict fetishes up to what I'm personally comfortable with, as well as the audience.)
Please continue to vote.
Aww, I wanted to see Tharja’s reaction to who we’ve become before we turned him into a husk. Regardless, you’re doing a great job balancing both CYOAs Aristo.
Option 3. Practical and could lead to fun moments.
For later research I suggest super fetation: becoming pregnant while already pregnant. Seems like an advanced spell that will combine nicely with the others presented here once we've learned them.
Option 1 rapid pregnancy is not a real pregnancy thing
Option 3, this time. The others would be handy, but it's been noted already that this option's a life saver in emergencies. Plus it would let us… appreciate… more with less.
>>90596> You've restored your body as it was before you were first pregnant.
Btw… How comfortable are you with lactation content, aristo? Given that Edwys had just given birth the day the castle imploded, her body would have produced milk for the child for a while until it came to the conclusion that it wasn't necessary. Maybe Beatrice and Edwys enjoyed themselves during the weeks and months all the research took?
Lactation content to an extent is fine. But Edwys is a pregnancy fetishist first. There may be options to indulge manipulating her lactation and such later.
And it's a close vote, but…
>4 votes for option one, you want multiples.>5 votes for option three, you want to go into labor when you decide, and become overdue with no problems.
Choose to manipulate when you'll give birth.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You're a guest in this house.
You want to be pregnant. You want to carry children. You want to give birth. You want babies.
–But actually birthing, cutting the umbilical cord, and then raising the child may put a strain on Beatrice's hospitality. You have to decide how you will be a mother for your children while being a witch.
Being able to carry your child or children longer will do for now. You'll concentrate on a spell that will allow you to become overdue without problems. And choose exactly when you will go into labor and give birth.
You do it.
Not only that, but you're able to 'compartmentalize' the magic, a little. You can choose when you 'drop' before actually going into labor, if you wish.
Of course it goes without saying your baby or babies will be safe and in a position comfortable for birthing.
You can't help but feel excitement as you finish the spell and add it to your spellbook.
Your spellbook from Maria was a gift. An assortment of 'generic' spells that gave you enough tools to survive.
This… is your spell. Created by you.
It makes you unique.
You'll never forget it.
Before you actually make yourself pregnant, you decide to poke your head out and see how Beatrice and Erika are doing.
You… have absolutely no idea how much time has passed. You've done nothing but rise, eat, work, eat again, then sleep. With some attention to Tharja so he maintains himself.
It's entirely possible months have gone by.
You open the door to the common area.
You don't have to go far.
Erika and Beatrice are there, reading some books from King Vlad's library you three pilfered. Their actual books on their laps.
They look up and greet you.
"Oh, it's the newbie."
"Edwys. Welcome back."
You… thank them.
You tell them you're done. You've made a new addition to your spellbook.
You get two-sets of eyebrows raised at you.
"Your first spell? Completed? Not just 'made progress' with?"
You feel… amazing.
You feel like a proper witch.
They both laugh, setting down their books and giving you some sparse applause.
"Congratulations, Edwys." "Congrats, newbie."
You give a slight curtsy. You thank them both for their help. Beatrice's space, and Erika's 'material'.
"Right, right. So what sort of spell is it?"
You freely tell them. You've made it so you can become overdue and stay pregnant longer, and choose when to enter labor.
Erika and Beatrice both suddenly stare at you, jaws-agape.
"You're… altering your pattern? Entirely? Not just cosmetic appearance?"
"Holy shit. …Newbie, do you realize that's some heavy-lifting magic? Especially for your very first spell? Shit like that should take a witch like us months, at least, and probably three times the bodies you went down there with. Easily years for a newbie like you."
…You didn't realize any of that.
How long have you been down there? You lost track, you confess.
Beatrice looks even more astonished.
"Edwys, it's been a mere week."
Erika's face lights up in an amazed grin.
"Not just completing your first spell, but it's altering your pattern, and you're fugueing on top of it??"
Erika starts applauding, and Beatrice can't help but follow suit.
…You didn't realize it was that much of a big deal.
That's what you collected the ovaries for, isn't it?
"Of course, but to get an actual extreme result such as that… and really only with those barebones 'parts' as it were… we expected you to come out announcing your 'progress', not that you completed a spell."
Erika slaps her hand on the table.
"All right. That's it. Newbie, you need an actual witch name. Now."
"Yes, I agree. If Edwys is showing such affinity, it's a sign she simply must pick a name."
You blink, considering…
It should be.
You're not just some generic newborn witch anymore.
You've severed all of your ties. You've completed your first spell.
…What are the guidelines, you ask?
Erika just shrugs.
Beatrice clears her throat.
"Generally speaking, a concept you embodify or at least will attempt to embodify. Though choosing a specific thing that exists, such as 'beasts' is also acceptable."
…You look to Erika.
She looks back at you flatly, so you decide to ask.
You noticed some discrepancies.
Maria's Book lists Angie as the Witch of Truth. Beatrice hesitated to introduce Erika as the Witch of Truth. When Erika used 'the red', she referred to herself as 'commonly known as the Witch of Devastation'.
"So, Truth was taken. I wanted Truth. Angie gave her consent. If some witches wanted to create their own title for me… well I could only object so many times. With my scythe."
"She very much lives up to her 'alternate' title. My suggestion is simply don't choose one that's already taken, Edwys."
And… changing a title is all right? You noticed Beatrice was originally titled 'the Golden Witch'.
"That was after a specific event in my life which made me decide my title needed refining. Not me abandoning the concept all together. I'm not merely the Golden Witch, which implies I am rare and precious; I am the Infinite Golden Witch, a witch who is infinitely those things, for all time, with no worldly bounds."
Erika makes a show of digging her finger into her ear while Beatrice talks.
"Mm. Anyway, choose something good. We'll let you know if it's taken."
Beatrice's lip twitches, but she ignores the slight Erika gives her.
"…If you like, we'll gladly choose a name for you, Edwys."
You take a deep breath.
Your new name…
It will be associated with you forever.
You're tempted to just choose 'pregnancy'.
But is that enough?
You've come so far in your life…
Your beginning as a mortal was devoted entirely to what your Father wanted from you. It was by some miracle that you found joy in the idea of pregnancy and motherhood.
Then you had so much forced upon you until you broke.
You should include something that implies pregnancy or 'birth'. No question.
…One last question, you ask Beatrice and Erika.
Is there any precedent for a witch just not having a title?
Just calling yourself 'The Witch'?
"Well, you can." Beatrice admits.
Erika scoffs, shaking her head.
"Don't do that. Newbie, if you try to just call yourself 'The Witch,' that means one of two things. One: you're an idiot who everyone's going to laugh at. They'll shame you until you finally pick a real name, and then they'll make fun of you, forever."
–Forever is a long time.
"Two: you're one of the most powerful witches in the entire fucking world and you can get away with it because everyone knows who you are and what you can do if they laugh at you."
Beatrice lets out a long wistful sigh.
"One must wonder what Marisa is up to these days."
"I don't," Erika responds.
All right. You were just curious.
Your witch title will be…
>You want to emphasize your new freedom. Rebirth. It ties into pregnancy and new beginnings.
>You want to emphasize that you becoming a witch was unlikely. Miracles. Pregnancy is also a miracle.
>You want to be the witch of Pregnancy. You don't care if it seems too limiting.
>You want to be the witch of Fertility. You want to think your presence can inspire new life and fight stagnation.
>…Let Beatrice and Erika name you. Or at least offer one for your approval.
Heh. Be grateful Marisa is far away, yes.
Option 1, I think. I'm sure someone will have a decent write-in, but this is already better than the miserable stuff I was thinking of.
I want to see what Erika and Beatrice have to offer. Option 5. We can always just go back to the other suggestions, although I am leaning towards either rebirth or fertility, myself.
I’m leaning more towards not asking Beatrice or Erika to show them that we can be fully independent in our own decision making and not have to rely on them perpetually.
I agree that this is a choice we need to make ourselves, not just ask Beatrice and Erika. We're almost certainly going to end up apprenticed to one of them, but we're a witch in our own right, we've accomplished something they didn't think would be possible for us by this point, we need to stand on our own two legs.
I'm going to say Option 2, Miracles. Pregnancy and childbirth are miracles, Edwys herself thinks of her favoring it as a miracle, and we accomplished this spell quickly, cleanly, beyond our means- miraculously. It might be a bit egotistical, but it's true. Plus, it doesn't advertise to any less friendly witches what we're all about and leaves us room to grow in our domain.
That's a good point, I'll change my vote. Option 2. (>>90692
was me previously, I just forgot to throw my name in on my phone.)
>2 votes for option one, Witch of Rebirth.
>3 votes for option two, Witch of Miracles.
>1 vote for option five, let Erika and Beatrice offer a suggestion.
Declare yourself the Witch of Miracles.
Poll closed. Update soon.
…The Witch of Miracles.
No sooner do you make your declaration then both Beatrice and Erika go mutually into shock. Their faces twist in surprise and they start yelling.
"No, no no no no!"
"You cannot be the Witch of Miracles!"
"Anything but that!"
You're so startled you actually recoil, huddling your book in your arms as they continue to insist you can't be Miracles.
A-All right, you got it!
It was just an idea… you can't help saying in a half-whine.
Both Erika and Beatrice shudder, hard.
"What a name to choose; that one, out of all possibilities," murmurs Beatrice.
… It's taken, you presume?
Beatrice is the one who nods, though both of them are still trying to regain their composure.
"Yes… that was Witch Bernkastel's name."
You didn't understand the Pax 'Bernkastel' meant a witch named Bernkastel.
"Newbie, do not try to take 'Miracles.' You're gonna freak everyone out! And not in a fun way."
Was she evil, you ask?
That gets some very intense yet mixed stares from both witches.
Erika looks like she wants to kill something.
Beatrice looks so tense you think her skull might pop out from her skin.
You can simply stare, feeling true fear.
You've stepped on some bad memories.
It's Beatrice who breaks the tension. Her face softens apologetically.
"I'm sorry, Edwys. You didn't know."
Erika still looks angry, until Beatrice touches her shoulder.
"She didn't know, Erika."
Erika lets out a long sigh.
"All right. We'll explain later. …Separately. The last thing I want to do is discuss that while Beatrice is in the room."
You still don't understand.
But you'd better tuck your head down and not press the issue.
Beatrice grows close and makes soothing noises toward you, offering you a hug.
…You take it, feeling very vulnerable.
"It's all right, Edwys… we're sorry. Anything but Miracles. Please."
She moves her lips to your ear.
"Don't try to claim 'Certainty' either."
… You nod against her chest.
Erika sighs again, then sniffs in a sharp intake of breath through her nose, coughing.
"Right. This is supposed to be a… celebration. A true acknowledgement of your ascent as a unique witch, newbie."
Beatrice gives you one last squeeze, then lets you go, trailing her hands with yours.
"Give it another try, Edwys."
You nod, thanking your sisters for recognizing your ignorance.
They nod. You take it as a sign you shouldn't apologize again.
At any rate…
A true sign of who you are as a witch.
>You want to emphasize your new freedom. Rebirth. It ties into pregnancy and new beginnings.
>You want to be the witch of Pregnancy. You don't care if it seems too limiting.
>You want to be the witch of Fertility. You want to think your presence can inspire new life and fight stagnation.
>You're suddenly feeling closer to Beatrice. Make yourself the witch of Fecundity. It implies an endless, infinite potential for offspring, beyond fertility.
>…Let Beatrice and Erika name you. Or at least offer one for your approval.
Ooh, I like Fecundity. Option 4.
Yeah, let's go with option four.
I still wanna vote for option 1
I'm gonna go with Option 1, then. I don't think it should be too obvious what we're studying, and rebirth is appropriate for multiple reasons.
Option 1, though the other leading choice sounds appealing.
>3 votes for option one, Witch of Rebirth.
>1 vote for option three, Witch of Fertility.
>4 votes for option four, Witch of Fecundity.
You are the Witch of Fecundity.
Poll closed. Update soon.
The Witch of Fecundity.
Fecundity, abundance. Unending fertility.
The ability to sink your magic into everything and bring forth your offspring. Metaphorically.
And of course, literally with what you plan to do with your pregnancies.
Beatrice gives an intrigued smile, nodding.
"Oho~. An excellent name, Fecundity. I approve!"
Erika meanwhile… shrugs.
"'Unending,' huh… someone's sucking up."
Beatrice's voice goes stern.
"Erika, it's her choice."
"Sure, sure. I'm not saying it's taken."
A soft sigh, from Beatrice. Erika inclines her head.
"Personally, I'd have suggested 'Rebirth'."
That's not bad either. You did consider that, you say.
You are the Witch of Fecundity. Forever. –Unless you refine it.
Erika goes back to grinning.
"That brings you to a second question, Fecundity… Do you want to still be Edwys?"
You hadn't thought of that.
"You were very eager to get rid of your ties… all ties… to your previous life. Except for that sperm-on-demand doll you've got. And you've succeeded. Why not cut the entire string?"
"If you wish, it's appropriate to change your given name as well. …But if you'd rather keep Edwys, it is your right, Fecundity."
…Edwys is rather unique. You always thought it pretty.
And you'd need to think of something good.
Can Beatrice or Erika suggest a new name?
Beatrice hesitates, Erika shrugs.
"That really should be something for you, Fecundity."
"I agree. It's not a concept. It's for you."
Do you remain Edwys, or move on?
–Hopefully to something prettier.
>Something else. (Write-in.)
I've always been fond of Artemis. Option 2.
Personally, I like the idea of keeping one last tie to her mortal self. Edwys is a lovely name, if a bit unusual, no one in Ruhemania knows it anymore, and it'll help keep her ego in check as the years stretch into milennia.
Option one, agreed to keep her old name. Would be nice to hear if Beatrice and Erika changed their names, but it's cool if they don't want to say.
>3 votes for option one, remain Edwys.
>1 vote for option two, become Artemis.
Poll closed. Update soon.
The person you were born as was fine.
You'd like to think your mother named you, but you don't know.
You always wanted to be a mother. You always wanted babies… inside you.
It was when people like your Father and King Vlad started manipulating your want that it became intolerable. Told you that how many you had would have to be controlled. That they might be taken away.
…Not that you wanted to be a trollop, really.
But you became a witch so you could pursue your own goals and own dreams of pregnancy and motherhood. You don't need to do it within the role of the spoiled, lonely princess, who must be satisfied with being powerless. Who must be satisfied with the idea of a husband who might love you while the King himself gives him money for prostitutes.
That's why… Edwys is fine.
Who you were born as, Edwys, is fine.
Erika raises an eyebrow.
"That came up?"
"It definitely did. That vile King threw every thorn he could at Edwys's heart."
"It seemed like your sperm-doll was told 'You need to spend this money.' The spies did all but watch him in the same room."
You bid Erika to stop.
That's the part of you that doesn't matter anymore.
Erika backs off.
"Anyway, if that's how you want it, newbie."
…You're still going to be newbie, you ask?
"Whaaat? Are you saying you hate it?"
–Well, you suppose it is kind of endearing coming from Erika.
"At any rate, we understand. Edwys, Witch of Fecundity."
Beatrice explains witch modes of address.
Generally speaking, using either name is fine.
But Beatrice and Erika specifically have names that make it a little difficult, so they get called their non-concept names more than not.
'Infinite Golden Witch' is sort of awkward to say instead of 'Beatrice'.
And Erika does not like being called Devastation to her face. But depending on how people say it, she could take being called 'Truth' as an insult, too.
Then there are witches you're just supposed to know are very powerful embodiments of their concepts to such an extent that not using the concept is almost an insult.
"Knowledge is one," says Beatrice.
"You won't meet her."
If you wish to be polite, or completely sarcastic, adding 'Witch' like a title before the non-concept name is acceptable as well.
–How're you going to know if a witch is powerful, you ask?
"If you meet another witch, she's probably not that powerful, because the powerful ones are busy experimenting," says Erika.
"Not always." Beatrice bobs her pipe in her hand. "At the same time you don't want to allude that you're too much of a friend with another witch. She may take it as an offense that you think she's not researching enough."
"Unless you want to fight. Which is pretty fun!"
…Fighting is fun??
Beatrice and Erika both laugh.
"It can be! –But it can also be boring."
"Ripping apart the enemy is never boring."
"Ahahaha! Yes, grinding your opponent into the dirt like the insect she is doesn't get old."
Beatrice and Erika exchange tense looks.
… You're beginning to realize something.
This etiquette is deliberately obtuse and resistant to logic. It's almost like a puzzle you're not meant to solve. There's a mass of contradictions. 'If you're too friendly, that's insulting'?
Eventually you're going to offend someone.
You decide not to mention Maria and how she described witchcraft as fun for everyone. You'll ask Erika later, maybe. She could probably be objective.
Another question, you ask.
You want the Pax Bernkastel explained in better detail.
"That is important, Erika."
"All right. –But one caveat. Don't ask us what led up to the Pax Bernkastel. At least not now while we're both sitting here."
Beatrice closes her eyes looking almost… pained.
"The events that led up to the Pax Bernkastel being adopted were very serious, and every different witch that exists will tell you a different story."
Erika goes back to that expression where she's biting back rage.
"Yeah, some of us would like to tell sweet lies to ourselves and everyone else for all time!"
Beatrice keeps her eyes shut.
"Please Erika. Remember what we promised. No discussing it."
Erika lets out a tense breath.
"…Yeah, that's for the best. We never would've been able to cooperate without that little rule."
You can't help but fold your hands awkwardly around your book.
Whatever happened sounds serious. If it's so extreme, maybe the whole "No unsolicited visits," makes sense.
The fact that Beatrice and Erika were able to put aside their differences and work together, and keep working together, is feeling like some sort of Unholy Alliance between people who'd rather be enemies.
–Maybe you can be the glue that holds them together rather than shake them apart.
Beatrice sighs again.
"Go ahead, Fecundity. Ask us what you want to start with. We'll quiz you to make sure you understand exactly what it means."
Erika hits you with a little ambiguous sort of open-mouthed grin.
"Here's one thing to remember: the Pax Bernkastel is absolute."
… You'd better remember that.
You can easily recall it. Your memory remembers exactly what Beatrice says back then.
You'll save obvious questions of 'why?' until the very end. You don't want to step on any more toes.
>Start with the one that caused the most problems. 'No unsolicited visits.' It's what King Vlad used to kill so many witches.
>Start with the one Beatrice was so worried about. 'Don't interfere with my magical experiments.'
>Start with the one that sounds the most confusing. 'Don't interfere with my pets.'
>5 votes for option one, the one that caused the most problems. 'No unsolicited visits.' It's what King Vlad used to kill so many witches.
No unsolicited visits.
Poll closed. Update soon.
'No unsolicited visits'.
That means, no appearing at another witch's home, ever, without an explicit invitation?
"If you're being strict, it could mean Beatrice or I wouldn't even be able to go into your section of the house."
"Mm. A clever witch might use that to stay indefinitely, so let's not entertain that notion."
"Uwee hee hee. You talk like I'd want to stay forever."
Beatrice and Erika share a tense stare before letting it go.
"At any rate, it's straightforward. Don't show up at my home unless I invite you. Otherwise, I invoke the Pax, and you die!"
… Doesn't that sort of leave everyone isolated?
"Mm. There are ways to invite someone without going to their home, Edwys. There's a spell that will summon a witch to where you are, immediately."
Oh. That sounds like something that could've been useful.
Why didn't they use it, then?
Erika gives a shrug.
"First of all, it doesn't just yank them here like grabbing a cat by the neck. The witch being summoned has to respond to the summon by consenting. And they don't know who's doing the summoning. Furthermore, they might be in the middle of something, or any other reason to not want to come."
"There's also the spell components necessary. You need to be surrounded by something that will get the witch's attention. Knowledge would likely be interested in, say, Castle Valachia's library, for example. But…" Beatrice trails off.
"Well, newbie? What would 'attract' you? What attracts 'Fecundity'?"
…You're honestly not sure.
A large collection of wombs to experiment with? Maybe books about fertility. Or a horde of virile young men. Or even fertile young women. Or a girl who's full-term…
"See? You don't even know. And then there's the question of where will that summoning take you, and how do you get back to where you were? Who's watching your house while you're away?"
Beatrice coughs. "Let's just say it's not the most perfect solution, and you probably won't ever be summoned like that."
"That spell is the basis of the Pax Bernkastel invocation spell, though."
The Pax Invocation spell is special.
It will summon every witch in the world with the 'promise' of 'the Pax has been broken. Get here. Now.'
Everyone is supposed to respond to that summons under all circumstances. No exceptions.
"The Pax is absolute," echoes Erika.
All right. There's a summoning spell, but it's… clumsy. And apparently no one has tried to create a better one.
What about messengers?
"Messengers are an option. But… you have to be careful."
Sending an automaton or an experiment you personally have created will probably count as violating the Pax.
"If I had a home and Beatrice just had her goat-butlers show up, that's definitely violating the Pax."
"In other words… a mortal messenger."
Ah. Like Erika used.
"Exaaaaa~aactly. Of course, they could still ignore you, send the mortal away, or just kill the mortal. So make sure you write something that really gets their attention."
"You never said you had two of Maria's Books, Erika."
"You didn't ask."
Beatrice tells you why she responded to Erika's first message: she bribed her to a meeting by promising her one of Maria's Books.
The one that is currently your spellbook.
…That's why Beatrice met Erika? Not because of the crusade against witches, or anything else?
"She didn't have the messenger mention that."
"Like I was going to tell Lorenza: 'Oh, by the way, your daddy's killed a lot of us. Plot twist!'"
"Then you could've coded it."
"And how was I to know you wouldn't just continue to hide in your little perfectly isolated mansion?"
She doesn't answer.
Okay, a human or otherwise completely neutral messenger seems to be a solution. Possibly a witch who already has an invitation could beg for an invite for another witch on their behalf, as well.
But otherwise… nothing?
"I know what you're going to say, Edwys, but sometimes it's nice to know you're just not going to be bothered. Imagine if I wouldn't stop banging on the door and trying to drag you away from your experiment while you crafted your very difficult magic."
… Beatrice does have a point. But it's scary.
Beatrice adds in the future, if you both ever part ways, you are invited to return to Beatrice's home, at any time.
You thank her, blushing at the gesture.
… Isn't it a good idea to extend that invitation to Erika, too? Just in case, you offer?
You can't help but plead for her to do so.
Beatrice gets a shocked little look on her face, then grimaces.
Erika shoots her a goading little grin.
"Yeah, how about it, Beatrice? Why can't Erika come back to play?"
"I'll think about it."
Besides the fact this part of the Pax is what made it so easy for King Vlad to enact his crusade…
…and the fact that once he became aware of it, he was able to completely pursue his persecution without any reservations…
…isn't there another problem? A more subtle one?
Erika and Beatrice both look intrigued with what you might be about to say.
… You're a newborn witch.
You'll never be able to meet anyone, because of this Pax. If you showed up at someone's house, they could invoke the Pax on the spot. You'd never be invited by someone somewhere else, because no one would know who you are, and you hadn't given them permission to visit you.
They both stare at you, blinking.
"I… never thought of that."
They don't have an answer to your observation, other than when the Pax was made, they just didn't think of 'what happens to new witches?'
Why not, though?
"…It's pretty rare to get a new witch," says Erika.
"Yes. We spent many months together, didn't we, Edwys?"
Most Witches don't want to pose as mortals and interact in their society. Witches are used to giving themselves nice things that mortals don't have, researching as they like, and not concerning themselves with mortal politics.
"Witch politics is enough," Beatrice adds.
And of course, the consequences if the witch reveals herself and is rejected by the mortal.
In other words… your attunement was the perfect storm.
"I trusted you, Edwys. You had trusted me, so I trusted you. I knew you were suffering. I saw your potential."
"Oh please. Beatrice is over-selling it. A lot of witches will just show up and throw a book at whoever they think would make a good witch. None of this 'Oh, be my friend, I sympathize,' crap. The real difficulty is unattuned spellbooks."
Erika reiterates they take a long time to make. Time that could be spent doing other things.
"With the risk that I'm offending my associate: Maria was a witch obsessed. She cranked them out like a chicken lays its eggs."
"…" Beatrice doesn't deny it.
"There's a reason both the book you attuned with and the book I gave Lorenza were both Maria's Books. Why make one? That's also telling yourself 'Ah, shit, I'm going to have to be responsible for a new witch… do I want an apprentice?' etcetera. Not to mention if the girl you give it to fucks up or otherwise it's lost, you're out all that work."
You understand. It's not every day a witch ascends. For that reason, the notion of the Pax preventing new witches from entering society just wasn't considered. Or even if it was, possibly the witch who guided them through it would do the introducing.
Wait, why does Maria's Book have a map of nearby witches, then? If you showed up at one of their homes, then you'd violate the Pax. It's like Maria wanted you to violate it.
"Poor Maria died before the Pax Bernkastel became what it is," says Beatrice.
Beatrice sighs, wistfully.
"At any rate, Edwys… I'm sorry. We didn't have the foresight to ever see that there'd be a threat to us so severe that we'd need to cooperate to deal with it."
"Seriously. It's rare to meet 'a' witch-hunter. Before what happened with King What's-his-name, I can't think of one witch who actually got killed by one. Destroyed their home and magical research, yes, but not outright killed."
"Mm, that doesn't mean it's never happened, Erika."
A soft sigh from Beatrice.
"That there was a man like that King who organized them and, ostensibly, gave them some standards to follow so they wouldn't kill themselves… it's truly terrifying."
Hm. In other words, witch-hunters were more or less death-seekers. Not people who actually expected to 'win' and then think 'now, what?'
It explains why Daniella never pleaded for her life, or even struggled against her bindings. She just… sat there, and let herself be dragged away.
You suppose it also explains why King Vlad threw 'a witch never accepts death' at you… like that's an insult.
You'll think more about this.
Maybe you can suggest a way to organize a visit of all witches to a more neutral ground, once every few months or years.
That feels like it could survive the Pax, and it'd keep each witch informed and able to deal with threats.
You let out a breath you didn't realize you were holding and move on:
>Start with the one Beatrice was so worried about. 'Don't interfere with my magical experiments.'
>Start with the one that sounds the most confusing. 'Don't interfere with my pets.'
Option 2. Let's get some more deets on pets.
Since we're going to get these all answered for us, I don't see how order would matter.
Sometimes info told in an earlier prompt comes up, even if I intend to answer all of them. Since I don't write these out fully like a script but "as they come."
>3 votes for option two, ask about the pets one.
Ask for an explanation for "Don't interfere with my pets."
Poll closed, update soon.
You only heard one reference to 'pet'.
What's a pet, when it comes to 'don't interfere with my pets,' you ask?
Beatrice folds her hands, pipe held between her fingers.
"Defining a 'pet' is a little simpler."
A 'pet' is either a human or an animal that the witch is associated with and manipulates, usually with her magic.
It's not important as to 'how' she uses it, exactly. The important thing is that the witch considers herself the 'master' of the pet.
"Pets are not equals." "Definitely not!"
If a witch was serving a noble, the witch may consider the noble a pet, or may not.
If a noble allows the witch to experiment with a group of humans, those humans are definitely 'pets'.
"When it comes to animals, those are more for the sake of avoiding any potential interference with magical experiments."
Beatrice points out all the goat-butlers she has made. She uses goats as materials to make them. She does not make butlers from bears, or dogs, or anything else.
"In this way, goats are my 'pets,' and every other witch knows to not use goats in their magical experiments. As do I know not to use their claimed animal."
Erika giggles madly at that.
"Come on, Beatrice! You can't lay claim to every goat that ever existed!" she teases.
Beatrice gives a little annoyed sigh.
"No, I can't, but in Ruhemania, it was generally accepted I would be using the goats. At least to create constructs."
General 'experimenting' with animals is more forgivable. It's when they're being used to create servants it becomes a problem. That is, they become real 'pets'.
So… Tharja as he is now. Is he or isn't he a pet, you ask?
Erika raises an eyebrow.
"If you used parts from him and some animal to create a servant, he'd definitely be a pet. As he is now… he's 'alive,' but he's kind of just a warm corpse. A corpse isn't a 'pet,' it's just a resource."
She looks over at Beatrice. "You agree?"
Beatrice makes a show of going 'hmm.'
"It'd definitely be an intense rudeness to take some of your 'resources,' so to speak, but if he's not acting on your will, or something you are planning to use as you like that is currently walking around doing what it likes, then it's not really a pet."
You nod, then repeat it.
A 'pet' is either some sort of construct that is doing your will, or if it's a human, you're planning to use it as a magical experiment.
"Or just manipulate and make it serve your will. A human you never intend on experimenting with can still be a 'pet' as long as you consider it 'yours' to do with as you like," Beatrice adds on.
You look at Erika. Was Lorenza a pet?
Erika shakes her head. "No. She was a mortal I made a deal with and just cajoled a little. I mean, she wasn't exactly an 'equal,' but I wasn't planning on manipulating her anymore than I already had."
It seems what exactly is a 'pet' is more based on its relationship to the witch than what the thing actually is. In which case…
…it might be difficult to follow this rule exactly if you didn't know a witch very well personally.
Does Erika have a 'pet', in terms of what animals she experiments with?
Erika… smiles. With teeth.
"Good question! I sort of do, but that's not really public knowledge. I like to keep that secret."
Beatrice perks up, startled.
"That's the first I've heard of that. Since when did you choose a 'pet'?"
"Don't worry about it! I won't bite your head off, or invoke the Pax, if you happen to do an experiment with one."
That answer seems to have unnerved Beatrice. Is it because she's worried about the Pax? Or maybe… she doesn't want to think about what Erika's been experimenting with?
At any rate, you won't get anywhere by pushing it, you think.
That leaves one last rule in the Pax to learn.
>Last, but not least, 'Don't interfere with my magical experiments.'
Lay it on us. It may seem like an obvious answer, but maybe not.
I like how Aristo left us the last option or it can be seen as a segue.
There's only one left, isn't there? You go ahead and say it.
'Don't interfere with my magical experiments.'
It sounds straightforward.
"Actually, Fecundity, that might be the trickiest and vaguest of them all. It depends on what is an 'experiment' and what isn't."
They start with the most obvious, unambiguous, and gratuitous example.
Going into your private room where you're experimenting and analyzing body parts and just tearing it all apart would definitely be 'interfering with your magical experiment.'
"I mean, that's a given, right?"
"Your own personal space, where you're working. Even if you invited the guest in, they'd have little excuse."
"They'd have no excuse. Pax 'em right there."
But, suppose you are not in your private room. You are outside. Suppose you are experimenting with something you cannot bring inside. Like a tree.
Every day, you go outside and try to use magic to make the tree do something.
While you are sleeping, some other innocent witch comes along and just knocks the tree down without realizing what she was doing.
"Has she interfered with your magical experiment? Probably. But did you put your name on the tree where she could see it?"
"A tree is a terrible example, Erika."
"Hey, don't act like you haven't enchanted your trees."
Beatrice makes an exasperated noise.
"At any rate, there's also vague wording in what counts as 'interfering'."
Does it only mean making it so the experiment can't be completed? Possibly.
Does it mean examining the experiment and seeing what it does? Probably not.
"Let's suppose the mighty Infinite Golden Witch created an apple tree that was meant to give fruit for a thousand years. Then some other witch comes around and realizes it's magical. Has she violated the pax by picking one fruit and looking at it to see what was used, or possibly who did it? Probably not."
Another thing to consider is whether or not the thing is really an 'experiment'.
If it's a spell the witch knows by heart and has done millions of times and is not altering it, just doing it as she likes, then is it really an experiment?
–So, if Beatrice planted a hundred of these trees, they'd no longer be experiments, and any witch could just… do what they like?
Beatrice smacks her lips.
"That's the real vagueness. And a tree is not a construct, so you can't call it a 'pet'."
Then, she pauses, raising a hand to her chin.
"Actually, it could be. It's doing your 'will' by growing fruit, isn't it?" muses Beatrice.
Erika makes another irritated scoff.
"There's no way a tree is a pet! Unless it's like one of Velvet's trees that she had prowling her forest… those were pets."
…You just smile and nod.
This is becoming silly… Beatrice and Erika can't even agree on what these rules mean. The examples they give are so egregious they might as well not be considered. How are these considered 'absolute'? With the punishment of a death sentence?
You hesitate to ask.
Beatrice was intensely afraid of Erika invoking the Pax on her, or you when it came to King Vlad's eyes.
Her reasoning is Erika would see it as 'interfering with one of Erika's experiments.'
"Ah. Let's just say some witches have more reason to be hyper-sensitive to the Pax than otherwise."
"I knew it was something you didn't just 'do', Erika. And with this sort of target… it's not like you could find another King to use it on."
Erika… adopts a very ladylike tone.
"Yes. Beatrice isn't wrong. I would've been in a very bad mood if I hadn't gotten those eyes. I would have been pushed to extremes of rage and disappointment. I know I would've demanded a reason as for why my prize was denied… I'm sure Beatrice would have offered a good one, one which would have satisfied my need for vengeance after fighting the majority of that long, difficult, bloody, disgusting war. By myself. Hiding in the gutter. Naught to rely on but my shot nerves and dreams of revenge."
You get it.
The premise itself of the Pax Bernkastel being invoked over Beatrice's destruction of King Vlad's eyes may have been a little bit of a gray area, but Erika may have been so angry she'd have done it anyway. Especially if she had to explain it was to get King Vlad to talk about Maria's book. Something which Erika already knew about.
Erika goes back to grinning, then reaches up to her flower headpiece, yanks down King Vlad's eyes, and shoves them in her mouth, giving them a good bite.
…You can't help but turn away in revulsion, Beatrice too.
"Mm, still chewy!"
You feel your stomach becoming tight with nausea as you echo Beatrice's plea. You hear Erika pop them back out of her mouth.
"Eheheheehehe~! Tastes like… victory."
You turn back and she's thankfully put them back in her headpiece. She then smiles, with teeth, showing red stains, and you gag.
"All right, I'll stop."
She licks her lips and that's an end to that. Thankfully.
"Sooo… yes. Playing with that was probably an 'experiment' because of how unique it was. I could have used just any mortal's eyes… but I had it in mind for one specific mortal. At one specific time. That I knew Beatrice would be able to deduce, even if all I did was say 'Save me his eyes.'"
Beatrice stares at Erika, disgusted.
"If we'd agree to just murder him and leave, you wouldn't have had the chance to use it."
"But we didn't just assassinate him and make it look like an accident, did we?"
Beatrice sighs again.
"At any rate. It's a nuanced issue. Our solution of 'asking' Erika to perhaps not do it if the King would talk would not have been a violation. …Agreed, Erika?"
"–Oh, something like that? Nah. As long as you didn't actually stop me."
You're thankful for that.
Looking back, do you have any regrets?
You move your eyes up and stare at Vlad's.
No. No regrets.
You let your thoughts show in the hateful stare you give them.
"Hey, newbie, it's time for your quiz."
… You're shaken out of your feelings and brought back to the talk of the Pax.
"Well? Did you get it all, newbie?"
"We're here for any questions you may have, Fecundity."
Just one, you tell your sisters.
The Pax Bernkastel is absolute. Breaking it means another witch will use a special invocation magic that will summon every witch in the world to the exact spot, and then…
…the punishment is immediate execution, by all witches, against the one who broke the Pax?
Beatrice and Erika both nod.
And the Pax is absolute?
"The Pax is absolute."
"No exceptions, newbie. Remember that."
You have… one last concern to raise about the Pax Bernkastel. At least from what you've been told.
"We're all ears."
"Better ask us what you want now, while you can, newbie."
>The Pax Bernkastel is stupid! They're random rules that make no sense!
>The Pax Bernkastel is meaningless! They're so vague no one can say what's a violation or perfectly acceptable!
>The Pax Bernkastel is cruel! The punishment gives the violator no chance to make amends, for completely forgivable things!
Write-ins are acceptable, but only if they start with "The Pax Bernkastel is _____" negative-adjective.
Good one. All three are pretty accurate, I'd say. Barring someone coming up with a good write-in, I'm gonna go with Option Three, but would like it if shades of the second option are included in Edwys's reasoning too.
Write-in: The Pax is incomplete.
There’s a lot of unclear rules and standards that could be easily abused by other witches and having that area of cloudy interpretation might invite serious conflicts between activities of witches - conflicts that could have been avoidable. The Pax needs to be amended.
This is basically option 2 and will be counted as 2.
If you are trying to write-in with a more 'rational-sounding yet still negative' adjective, the implication of these choices (and the guide of the write-in) was meant to indicate that Edwys is entering an emotional state where she must be extremely negative with the criticism. Please therefore choose an equally emotional negative adjective if you try a write-in.
Please continue to vote.
Mmmmmm, I'm conflicted….. option 2 is more towards what I've been thinking as all this was explained, but also the fact that if you're pax'd you're dead is something else we need to address….
Eh, Option 2. We can always bring that up later.
Option 2. As it stands, a invocation of the Pax could ignite the very war it's meant to prevent, regardless of ruling. Plus the difficulty of finding acceptable workarounds makes any action or inaction a potential violation.
Option two. It's meaningless and needs a complete overhaul, especially if witches become the dominant power in Ruhemenia.
[Last 50 Posts]
>4 votes for option two, the pax is so vague as to be meaningless.
>1 vote for option three, the pax is punitive to the point of cruelty for violations that are small and forgivable.
The Pax Bernkastel is meaningless!!
Poll closed. Update soon.