7b151 No.90879[View All]
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Can you believe we've reached thread #12?
To summarize, this thread is a continuation of a CYOA game that has long been hosted on pregchan. King Edward of Ruhemania is the protagonist. Over the course of the story, which dates all the way back to December 2015, King Edward has arisen from unlanded nobility to a full-fledged King. He's faced many challenges along the way, and will face many more. He is a foreign King in a distant land, but he has many assets on his side. Most significant…
His ability to charm women, seduce them, and impregnate them.
If you're a new reader, previous threads will no doubt look daunting in their length, but I promise there is (what I hope) a worthwhile story to be found that both excites and intrigues, with plenty of sex. Everyone, old readers and new, are invited to vote in the latest poll for the choice they'd more like to see happen. I will then write the results until a new choice is available. You aren't merely voting in a game: you are writing the story with me. I hope it's enjoyable.
The only rule is that everyone has one vote. Please only vote once in each poll. Posting your reasons and persuasive arguments for why you made a choice and why it is the best choice is encouraged. It helps me understand more about reader expectations and what the audience wants to read. However, please do not post side-discussions or emotional reactions in the thread. For those, please use the latest chat thread, located here: https://pregchan.com/c/res/10693.html
This will help keep down on the posts that count toward the post limit (and when I will have to make a new thread). It will also keep the atmosphere of the thread genial. I want every reader to be comfortable voting however they like.
For clarity, please write your vote: "Option 1/2/3" or "Write in:". Please make this the first line, and then write whatever commentary you would like. This is for my sake and makes it much easier to tabulate and calculate which option has won. Of course, I will still count every vote regardless, but it makes it a little easier for me.
Please also write out your full vote. Do not reply to another vote and say "I agree with this reply and vote for what they voted for." Please don't do this because there have been issues where a person will hate made a mistake in which reply they meant to click. Please be unambiguous with your vote.
For the record, write-ins are encouraged. If they are impossible because of a conflict of some character motivation or established facts about the world, I will note this and explain why it's impossible to the best of my ability and give the reader a chance to select a new option.
One last thing to note is no non-consensual sex scenes will be depicted in the story. It was decided to exclude these to maintain a positive tone throughout the story and will not be violated. For the matter, every character depicted in a sex scene is "of age." This means over 18.
Previous threads can be read on the web archive:
Thread #1: https://web.archive.org/web/20170619163636/http://pregchan.com/d/res/12251.html
Thread #2: https://web.archive.org/web/20170619123902/http://pregchan.com/d/res/14131.html
Thread #3: https://web.archive.org/web/20170619104842/http://pregchan.com/d/res/15553.html
Thread #4: (warning, it was on bbw-chan and the link has a defunct connection to some pop-up ad. Just refresh and it should go away.) http://web.archive.org/web/20160412094726/http://bbw-chan.net/elite/res/536.html
Thread #5: https://web.archive.org/web/20170619134833/http://pregchan.com/d/res/16909.html
Thread #6: https://web.archive.org/web/20180307043453/https://pregchan.com/d/res/24119.html
Thread #7: https://web.archive.org/web/20180930122947/https://pregchan.com/d/res/33943.html
Thread #8: http://web.archive.org/web/20190601012420/https://pregchan.com/d/res/48104.html
Thread #9: https://web.archive.org/web/20201013192858/https://pregchan.com/d/res/57807.html
Thread #10: https://web.archive.org/web/20210303103506/https://pregchan.com/d/res/79111.html
Thread #11: https://web.archive.org/web/20210517073757/https://pregchan.com/d/res/86445.html
until it 404s)
>9 votes for option one, give Venti a permanent position as court bardess.
Assure Venti she won't ever be dismissed. But she mustn't become lazy.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You apologize. This is something she should have anyway. You just didn't say so explicitly.
Venti will have a permanent position as your court poetess.
She's proven herself–
"Then, let's fuck!"
…That was quick.
Her voice is practically a desperate squeak as she jumps off the bed and starts taking off her clothes.
Her hands go to her tie first, then unbuttoning her top.
It's a drawn out process. She has buttons everywhere. Along her arms, her cape, her corset, and more. You're beginning to think it's to facilitate her being a tease, as it would be near impossible to remove without outright ripping it off of her.
Indeed, it'd been difficult for you to feel her breasts through the layers.
But she finally gets enough undone to lift the shirt off.
Her breasts pop out and show themselves to you.
Oh, that's interesting. Inverted nipples.
She catches you staring and raises them up.
"Dost the sight offend, Majesty?"
Of course not. It's an uncommon sight, is all.
You reach a finger around and trace the aerola.
She gives a small coquettish laugh.
"How many miles of womanly flesh must you have seen to know what's common and uncommon, Sire?"
Many, you whisper.
There's no other answer you can give. Other than…
Curling your fingers around where the nipple lies hidden.
As you thought, the centers are sensitive.
She lets you play happily as she strips the rest of her clothes. Her skirt, her long stockings…
She's breathing harder. You can feel her nipples becoming erect and starting to protrude. It's a tremendous feeling of eroticism. The sensation of pink flesh emerging from sensitive skin.
She moans, stretching down and kissing you before turning and falling on her back onto the bed.
"Please, I really want it…"
She bats her eyelashes at you, face turned to the look of the shy maiden.
Your hands go to undo your leggings, eager to have your manhood exposed for fear she might change her mind. It's such a flip between the woman who's been teasing you and this new shy moaning beauty that you can't help but be anxious.
Not so anxious and eager however that you forget to take out your lotion.
It's something soft that will make the sex feel better, you tell her. Just keep her legs spread.
She brings her knees up and gives you access to her pussy. She's wet already. Glistening with lubricant. The lotion might be superfluous, but it's too nice a luxury not to have. You coat your own member as well.
She slowly parts her legs, and you draw up your body to settle between them.
She spies down between her legs and gasps at your length.
"You're too big!"
You can't help but feel your ego stroked at that.
Don't worry, you tell her… you'll go slow.
You slide your hips forward on the bed, cock aligned perfectly with her pussy, and slip inside.
You both cry out in mutual twin cries.
You ended up slipping farther than you meant to, and…
…you tore right through Venti's hymen.
You stare at her with a mixture of awe and disbelief.
"W-What? I was always saving myself for someone special…"
… Oh boy.
You hadn't really thought Venti was a virgin. You misjudged her.
You apologize and tell her it was truly an accident.
Careful not to push yourself in more and hurt her, you climb on top of her enough until you can kiss her lips.
Stroke her tongue with your own.
She reaches up and wraps her arms around your torso. Not stroking you, but holding you like she doesn't want to let go.
"I want your baby…"
Her tone is a soft high-pitched begging as she cries out for you to put a baby inside her.
The words get an immediate reaction from you. Your back stiffens, your eyes widen, you can feel your cock throb bigger. Venti can no doubt feel it too, as she moans around you.
"Please, Majesty, I want it so bad… I want your baby inside me…"
You start to thrust.
You start to thrust hard.
Harder than you should.
But Venti doesn't complain, she just holds you tighter, even bringing up her legs to press her knees against you.
"Please Majesty, I need this so bad. Come inside me and give me your baby…"
It's been a while since a girl actively begged you to knock her up like this. With such raw passion and… desire. Without any prompting or making it an afterthought.
Does she want that, you ask?
Does she really want it?
Her breasts are bouncing all over the place, making her wince, but you can't help it.
You're practically nailing this woman to the bed for how fast you're thrusting.
Enough you're practically flat on top of her. Your feet pointed straight out, your ass simply rising and falling as you thrust your length in and out. And barely move it out. For all means, you are just humping this woman.
But the harder you go, the more she responds in kind.
"Yes! Yes! Yes! Please come inside me!"
The bed is rocking and knocking so hard against the floor and wall it could reverberate throughout the castle, nevermind how loud Venti is being.
"I want your baby… please Majesty… make me pregnant… I need your baby! I'll carry it… raise it… I want to give birth to lots and lots of your children!"
"Get me pregnant!"
"Get me pregna~nt!"
You're not even capable of talking.
You clench your eyes shut, holding her with her body pressed beneath you, sheathing your member inside her fertile valley as far as you can go as you come, and come, and come.
Seed spurts out from you. You've been teased and stirred up for so long, and Venti is outright pleading for your babies so much… you cum perhaps harder than you ever have in your life.
At least in recent memory.
Your mind goes white as you feel your cock pulsate. One spurt fills Venti's vagina, then two, three, four, five, six… you're still convulsing, still coming, and still putting cum inside her. As much as you have in your balls that you can empty.
"M-More… more cum… need your baby…"
Your body shudders with one last thrust as you let out your tenth spurt. As requested, all inside Venti's supple, beautiful, voluptuous body.
You immediately collapse into a weak mass of loose limbs. Your muscles are just too worn out.
You openly groan and pant as Venti shudders and has her orgasm around you.
"…Thank you, my King…"
… You still can't talk, so you just nuzzle your head against her.
That was good. You need more of that.
You had to make a promise, and deal with Venti teasing you for hours before she finally spread her legs, but…
You knocked up your court poetess. Hopefully she gets the baby she's always been wanting.
… You stroke her soft body and rub her hair.
Her arms and legs are still holding you, but sensitivity soon drives you both to separate.
You apologize for the… forcefulness. You really wanted to take it slow.
She shakes her head.
"I enjoyed it so much, Majesty… thank you for giving me a baby."
She presses a kiss to your head, affectionate, and you can only shudder at how perfect the moment is.
By the time you separate, you push a pillow under her butt so she stays angled with your cum inside you. She wants to stay like that.
"Call on me anytime, Majesty!"
Your stomach is telling you that you missed your midday meal. In fact, it's sunset.
No regret, though. You depart Venti's room with aching muscles, from your legs, to your back, to your groin.
Ten times you came… was it that much, or were you overestimating it? At any rate… you hope Tharja will accept simply talking and cuddling.
>No choice yet, further update coming soon.
Tharja has prepared something for you.
Something in the form of Elizabeth, standing ramrod straight next to her bed.
"I thought it was time we gave your slave some attention, Edward!"
–Ah, right. The 'slave' thing.
She says it and you watch Elizabeth shudder. A subtle little trembling. She's fully clothed. The lace collar around her neck, but she seems to really like the idea of being called 'slave'.
…Well, you can't disappoint.
You suppose it's best you 'inspect' her, then…
You walk in front of Elizabeth, taking her chin in your hand. You turn her head from side to side, looking at each cheek, then press a light kiss to each one.
Her face is acceptable. Feels very clean.
You make a show of inspecting other mundane parts of her. Her neck, her arms, her back… you're saving the best two parts for last.
Finally, you give her a mischievous grin.
If Elizabeth would, please… she must lift her skirt for your inspection.
There was no hesitation. Just a quick bending at her knees as her hands went down to the hem of her skirt and she pulled it up, up, and to her midsection, putting her nethers on display.
…She's freshly shaved, you remark.
Tharja gives a sultry little smile.
"I wouldn't let her be unprepared."
You do take the moment to admire Elizabeth. Lifting her skirt as if it were nothing. You imagine you could likely do it in complete public and she would.
But that's not what you're most interested in.
You command her to lower her skirt and lift the top of her uniform.
She needs to expose her belly.
Elizabeth's bump has indeed grown.
Not by much. She's still at a state where it can be hidden under her clothes.
But how much longer? You don't know.
You step forward and cup your hand around it. It's hard and sticking out of her flat belly.
Elizabeth takes in a deep breath and shudders as you touch her. She's clearly pleased with the attention.
You lean closer and kiss her.
You can't forget Elizabeth. THe first woman to show a bump in Ruhemania.
You look forward to seeing her slight frame dominated by what's hopefully a big belly.
You're concerned. She should eat more.
Is she eating her meals properly each day? No problems?
She shakes her head.
"None, Sir. I know it's important."
Well, that's good. You'd hate to hear she was under any pressure.
At any rate… you're just too tired.
You apologize, but you're exhausted from earlier. Perhaps you can all three share some affection instead?
Tharja looks the most confused.
"You're not going to tie her up, husband?"
–You suppress a little laugh. You know Elizabeth enjoys that.
At the same thing, you don't want to announce you just got done drilling your new court bardess, who was literally begging for your baby. Tharja would appreciate it, but you don't want to inspire jealousy in Elizabeth.
You tell Elizabeth you promise, you'll bind her sometime and really satisfy her.
She gives a soft nod.
"I understand, Sir."
You cuddle on Tharja's bed with Elizabeth, appreciating her tiny bump, her swelling breasts. They're signs that might be passed over if one didn't know what to look for, but you can see them plainly.
Unfortunately it contrasts with Tharja, who still is sadly not showing.
You don't want to end your time with them on a sour note, so you dismiss Elizabeth and comfort Tharja.
You rub her flat stomach and tell her just to wait. Soon it will happen.
She whines, confessing she wakes up hoping every day for that. The first thing she does is rub her stomach.
You just stroke her more.
In an attempt to cheer her up, you tell her a bit about Venti…
>No choice yet, further update coming soon.
You pay a visit to the barracks the next morning.
You're not there to see Robin, you're there to see the medicus.
You tell him there's a pregnant woman who's living in a cart in the middle of the castle. She's close to delivery.
He's to see to her needs and keep her healthy. You don't want any dispute. You want him to visit her in the morning and before sunset. Starting tomorrow.
He swears there will be no argument. He'll do as you say. Good.
You have the opportunity to see Sully, too. She's getting to a point she can stand, but needs aid. It should be soon she makes a full recovery.
You go out to the Faire.
Indeed, with the end of the gathering, the nobles have no reason to stay. In fact, most are in a hurry to leave. The merchants realize their most affluent customers are leaving and are leaving as well.
But there's a certain group you hope hasn't left yet.
One you don't care if anyone sees, now.
You see the nomads' wagon in the distance.
You get closer and see they've set it up to make it mobile again.
Vano greets you like an honored guest.
The other nomads still regard you with curiosity, but it's far from the bewildered treatment you experienced when you first visited.
Vano wants to stress he's thankful for such hospitality.
"Never have we been treated so openly, Your Majesty."
You tell him you simply welcomed him based on his word as an honorable man. Furthermore, he's one of the nobler visitors the Faire has had.
He bids you to please wait for a moment.
"I know two women who would be glad to say their goodbyes."
You can't help smiling, and Vano goes into the wagon for a moment before exiting again.
Behind him are Mara, then Nara. They step into the sunlight and greet you.
Mara approaches you, her body on display under a sheer robe.
"It was a wonderful time with you, Your Majesty. I only wish it could've been more."
She gives you a wink, and you tell her you very much had the same sentiment.
Nara approaches next, shoulder bared by her otherwise conservative robe. Her face holds a shy expression.
"Ah… Your Majesty… please keep in mind your fortune."
…Yes. It's on your mind.
You thank her for the glimpse into the challenges that will come to you on your journey. Nara has informed you as best she can about what's to come.
…Your mind remembers the card of the man pushing the boat with one long stick. How Nara talked about how it symbolized stress, and tireless work. Work that was appreciated and rewarded.
Your mind falls to Ricardo and you can't help but be moved, reminded of his sacrifice.
But more than that, the fortune that you would soon meet a religious person who will offer their services to you.
…Is that Mania?
–You think not. Mania didn't offer her services, really, you had to seek them out. Moreover she's said her understanding of the Goddess can't be taught. It must be someone who is coming soon.
At any rate, you nod and tell her you wish Nara the best on her own personal journey.
She has a small blush as she smiles and you know she caught on to talking about how you impregnated her.
You're tempted to ask if you could make use of the wagon one more time with them both, but the fantasy must remain a fantasy. They're about to leave. You doubt the inside of the wagon is set up specifically for your arrival.
Instead, you thank Vano again for the introduction to his daughters, and…
… If they ever come back to this area, they have Royal permission to ask to stay inside the castle.
You're not sure you'll host another Faire soon, so there may be nothing for them to actually do, but the offer is open.
Vano tells you such an offer is unheard of, but he will remember it.
You're indirectly begging Mara and Nara to come back so you can see them swell. Or at least meet your children with them, but he understands.
At any rate, you say your farewells and depart.
You try to burn the image of Mara and Nara into your mind before you go. Such women are not found often.
You go back into the Faire.
Well, the remains of the Faire. The carts are either torn down and gone, or in the process of being. There's no activity anymore, other than some meat vendors cooking the last of their stock in anticipation of midday.
Though there's another exception.
You see the canopy is still hanging as you approach Mania's stand.
This time, there's no one underneath.
But, you don't panic. There's one cup still out.
Besides that, you can hear movement behind the counter behind the curtain.
You call out to her.
Her response is a moan.
Oh God, is it happening?
You rush around the other side and enter the back of Mania's stall.
You find Mania, sitting on her bucket. She's already fully naked, her dress cast off to the side.
She gives you a wave in a greeting, along with a smile you can see by straining your eyes in the dark.
You're respectful of Mania's space, so you don't just rush in. You step carefully over to her side.
Is she in labor, you ask?
"Hehehe. No, sir. Just phantom pains, and fatigue."
You're glad she's not going through such a stressful thing alone. You'll sit with her, just to be sure.
"…Hehehe. Is sir disappointed?"
You feel a little bit 'caught'. You've never actually seen a birth close-up.
You tell Mania you're more concerned for her. Her health.
You take a seat next to her and take her hand in yours.
It's dusty. Dirty. Your hand is a bit callused from the swordplay you do, but Mania's is like a peasant's. She must do a lot of wood carving, even now.
…Is she going to stay in her cart, until the birth, you ask?
"Mm… I leave at night… though walking at all becomes a burden."
You can understand. Her belly is so big you wonder how she can balance it on that bucket.
Your eyes take in the curve of it. The fullness of her breasts.
For some reason you find yourself salivating.
Mania leans back a little, pushing her belly out and lifting up a tit, prompting you to lie your head down on her belly.
You accept the unspoken invitation and put your head down, giving it a kiss and wrapping your arm around her torso to rub her back before setting your head to rest on the soft, hard, belly.
She gently moves her tit to your lips, and you go ahead and open your mouth.
Her milk is sweeter.
That's your impression as Mania cradles a hand around your head, stroking your hair.
"Hehe… sir trimmed his hair."
Indeed you did. It was getting too unkempt.
Though you wouldn't say that to Mania, who has let her hair grow wild.
A few minutes pass with you like that, before you hear her speak.
"…Thank you sir, for coming back."
"Even this hag gets lonely."
You can hear her breathe steadily as you continue to suck. Your belly is going to be full, but that's fine, the kitchen must be used to you skipping meals or eating too quickly in the midday.
She starts to sing again. Her soft voice sings a beautiful melody.
The lyrics sing out words of a mother with her little chick. Promises of love, nurturing, and safety.
"I'll be the one to cherish you…"
"Grow strong and sleep while I guard your dreams.."
"Sleep well, little chick…"
… It's too much.
You turn your head, pressing your face against Mania's body and hope you'll be able to suppress your emotion.
But you know it's a losing battle.
You shake and shudder against her. Her body muffling your sobbing. At least from your ears.
Tears flow from your eyes as your face contorts in pain. As well as your heart.
"Sir–? Sir, please…"
Mania's hands stroke your neck in an attempt to help you calm down. But the tender gesture exacerbates the emotions you're feeling.
"…Did I offend?"
You realize Mania's tone is pleading with you. A mixture of concern and fearful sympathy.
You force yourself to suck in air and grit your teeth.
No, you say.
You're sorry. You're sorry for this unmanly display.
She moves to stroke your skin again.
"Please sir, this.. this hag is sorry."
No, she needn't be sorry.
You finally find an emotional anchor to hold you steady. It's from the need to let Mania know she's done nothing wrong. The sweet pregnant woman has done nothing wrong.
… You let out a long breath.
You… decide to tell her.
Something you haven't even told Tharja.
You sit up and rub your eyes, having too much signity to wipe them on your sleeve.
She did nothing wrong.
Her lullaby is beautiful.
Her song is touching.
Her voice is sweet and gentle.
You confess the pain that you carry around with you.
You tell Mania about when you were young. How you had a mother. A beautiful, loving, caring mother.
She died in childbirth.
Not with you.
With your brother.
Mania listens to you with her full undivided attention. You can't bring yourself to look her in the face yet, but you're grateful all the same.
…You were still young. Much too young.
You think you can remember her face. Your father had portraits. You used to stare at them and try to remember. You would… torture yourself.
In time, the two blurred. Was your memory wrong, or were little details from the portraits? You can't remember.
…You'd give anything to be able to remember.
To really remember her face.
The kind things she'd say to you.
The gentle lullabies you're sure she sang.
And that's why… to hear Mania sing so beautifully…
Yes, that's it. It calls all those feelings up at once.
'Surely to hear my mother sing would be to hear something as beautiful as what Mania sings now.'
She reaches over and takes your hand, stroking it gently. You can hear your words have moved Mania. She's sniffling in empathy.
"I'm so sorry, sir." Another sniff. "I'm so sorry."
It's all right, you repeat.
You love her song. It just… conjures up so many emotions.
… Did her mother sing it to her, you ask? She surely must have.
Mania's mother must truly have been caring and splendid to teach her such a lovely, comforting song.
There's a long pause, as Mania stops stroking your hand.
"I didn't learn it from my mother, neither did she sing it to me," she says.
Her voice is dry and melancholy.
"I learned it from the handmaiden who raised me."
>No choice yet. Further update coming soon.
Your eyes go stark wide as you lift up your head and stare at the naked, dirty witch in her hovel. Who would rather accept the name 'hag' than go by her name. –No, she honestly had to try to remember her actual name when you first asked it. For her to say such a thing…
You're not sure what your expression is showing, but it's clearly communicating the unvoiced question:
She's an aristocrat?
She nods, as if not surprised by your reaction.
It's incredible. Too incredible.
…It takes you a moment to breathe.
You continue to hold her hand, still watching each other. Your own confusion and Mania's resolute affirmation.
You take your free hand, reach down, and pick up a nearby stick.
You trail it against the dirt, and slowly write words. In as clear a lettering as you can stand to write with a crude implement in the earth.
'I love you.'
Mania peers out, needing to bend over with her legs spread wide apart to actually manage it… and you hear her give a soft little huff of emotion.
She reaches back to take the stick, which you hand over.
She trails her own message right below yours:
'I adore you.'
… It brings out your own sigh as you feel the tension cut. She's… not lying.
You gently hug her, feeling her arms reaching back behind your body as well.
… You don't feel any particular shame or confliction for using 'love' with Mania. You're in love with Tharja, of course, and always shall be. But you have a big enough heart to share your love with those you make mothers. And now… someone special like Mania.
This… this actually makes sense.
How many commoners would know a complicated word like 'maiesiophile'?
She knew Castle Valachia is actually called 'Castle Valachia'. How many peasants wouldn't just call it 'the castle'?
Even Beatrice said there's something going on with her. Her talk of the Goddess and blessings are nonsense, but it's a nonsense with a logic behind it.
… What happened, you ask?
You're not sure what story to expect. Will the expectation not be met, after all? You could believe Mania was an orphan, taken in by a kindly Lord, and perhaps left without any means to inherit once he died.
Or perhaps King Vlad's war affected her family.
But words like that don't tumble from Mania's mouth.
"This hag… she was raised kindly. With many servants. She was to be the young lady who would be the jewel of the family. My brother would lead, I would marry, and all would be well, as it always is."
She starts to sway, lost in recall.
"Yes… those days were long ago."
She lets out a small 'hehehe'.
–You're not sure what story this is going to turn into. Is this a runaway story, or a calamity story, where a noble house is broken down and left for nothing?
Mania suddenly pushes back from you, your faces close.
"Sir. A question."
Her eyes are shining, her face grinning.
"Are witches made, or born?" she asks.
–Oh. She's quizzing you.
Beatrice would tell you witches are made. Literally, through their ritual. They then must mature. Learn. Join society.
Mania's own story would suggest she decided to become a witch.
And yet… the way she's staring at you, as if it'd be natural for you to know the answer…
…You know the answer. You know Mania's answer, at least. She just told you again. With her words.
You shove your prior conceptions to the side and answer confidently:
She takes a deep breath, letting it out, before picking it up and continuing.
"I started asking questions from as long as I can remember talking. Questions that I could never get a good answer for. Questions that made whoever I asked uncomfortable."
"Why did I have servants?"
"Did the servants have servants?"
"Where did this food we eat come from?"
"Why do the servants eat other food?"
"Can we thank the peasants for making us this food?"
… You can't help but feel a little uncomfortable yourself.
The answer is it's just how it is. The real discomfort is Mania's questions suggest it shouldn't be how it is.
Was she punished, you ask?
You wonder if perhaps it would turn into a situation like with Robin, with a family that never listens to her.
Mania shakes her head.
"No. They never had answers, but they told me I was very kind to ask and show concern. If I wanted to help the commoners, the peasants, then there was a time and place for it. It was called charity. Alms."
You nod. That sounds very reasonable. Encouraging.
Mania's face does not look encouraged. She stares out flatly. Tense. There's a fire in her eyes.
"I would hear the servants sing and dance at night when it was their private time. They sounded happier than they ever did during the day. I'd ask them privately if I could see, but they told me it wasn't my place. I could see the fear in their eyes, from me asking them a question."
"…The servants had taught me all I could know. I needed a new perspective."
"One day I went for a walk. I intentionally left my coat behind. It was when we were far away from the mansion. I asked the maid to retrieve it."
"I waited until she was far enough out of sight and then ran in the opposite direction. Toward the settlements where the peasants lived."
"Ah, I'd never exerted myself so much. I was an out of breath wreck when I finally stopped running. I thought I'd pass out right there."
"But, I had done it. I'd gotten to the fields and attracted the attention of the peasants."
She turns her head toward you.
"What do you think happened?" she asks.
If you had a daughter who was coming of age… you'd be very frightened if you heard she had run away from where you could protect her and entered a peasant settlement.
You'd hope they'd return her back safely or at least be kind to her.
Mania hears your words and shakes her head.
"… Not what you'd hope for some daughter, sir. What do you think happened? To me?"
… If she went to the peasants to start to ask them questions about why they didn't eat the same type of food as an aristocrat, why they struggled while aristocrats didn't, and how much she wanted to thank them for growing her food…
–You'd think the peasants would tell her to go to Hell. Give her no answers. Perhaps get the attention of the Lord.
She lets out a soft little laugh.
"Sir guesses… wrong."
The peasants were very kind.
They told her how hard they worked in the fields. That they worked the fields because their father's worked like that. And their father's before that. And that they really didn't know any other reason.
No, they were not happy.
They were miserable.
The aristocrats took the best yield. And when the yield was low, they were expected to go hungry. And how they hated it.
They did not have much time to raise families, much less have them at all. Their main motivation for children was to have extra hands to work with them for when they were old. There was always the worry of not being able to feed them if they had too little food.
Moreover they understood. They understood why Mania wanted to know. They did not begrudge her the questions or move to throw her out.
They invited her to ask as much as she liked and hear as much as she liked.
"They didn't even worry about being punished for interacting with an aristocrat's daughter," she says.
…Your reaction is that her family must have had very strange peasants.
At that, she turns on you.
"Have you gone out among them, sir? Have you asked them? Not for charity, but because you want to know?"
You recoil a little and then admit, you haven't. The circumstances would be completely different, but you don't need to argue the point.
"Yes… they didn't expect anything from me."
In the end, she left with an epiphany and a broken heart. She waited until sunset and then went back home.
She made up an excuse about going to pick flowers and losing track of time and then the wind took them anyway. She was scolded, but nothing else.
"The next day was when I decided to do something very naughty."
She feigned illness and told her servants to bring her food in her room.
She took the food, sneaked out of the house, then took it to the peasants.
"At first they were afraid, but then they took it. They offered their thanks and had a little more food to fill themselves with."
She continued like this. She even hid her breakfast to have more to take later. She did it every day without fail.
How did she get back in time by morning, you ask?
"Hehehe… at first, I ran fast. Then I lost my strength and tried other means."
She realized she wouldn't have the strength to get back to her mansion. She bribed a servant to lie that she was still resting when she really fell asleep with the peasants.
When the servant finally feared exposure and refused to help anymore, she left anyway. When she returned in the morning she made up a lie that she felt compelled to walk at night.
She was moved to a room that was on the top floor. She solved that problem by tying her sheets together.
When they tied her sheets to the bed so that she couldn't remove them, she just threw herself out the window.
"It was very rainy that day. Very easy to just sink into the mud. After that, I felt and found places along the ledging to catch my fall."
You pause Mania's story.
All this time… what was Mania eating?
She smacks her lips.
–That can't be true.
She had to be eating something.
"No," she echoes.
Everything was saved and taken to the peasants. Or offered as a bribe to the servants to help her hide her visits.
How did she manage that?
She grits her teeth.
"I wouldn't let it stop me. I thought of them going hungry instead. The sick feeling that gave me was satisfying enough."
But, of course, it didn't last.
After a month, she brought her usual meal to the peasants and collapsed. Her legs had gone out.
"Hehehe… they begged me to stop. To eat. I told them I wasn't hungry. But, finally they convinced me."
They told her they would eat the food she brought. But she must eat the food they cooked and would eat.
A watery-stew made of leeks, onions, and pig feet.
"It was delicious," she says.
…Anything would be after going so long without eating.
"Though it was also the thing that revealed me."
The Ruhemanian onions were too strong in scent. She did recover, but her mouth reeked when she returned.
The servants noticed it and so did her family.
"I was dragged in front of them by the ear like a naughty child. They asked what I had been doing and I confessed readily."
They didn't believe her. They thought her sickness was genuine and it was making her throw her food away. Never could she be taking food to the peasants, and the thought of them taking it was obscene.
She insisted she was taking it to the peasants. She did this because it meant there'd be more for them to eat. That it was right that they eat, even if it meant she went without anything at all.
"They still weren't convinced, but they started to scold me as if they believed."
That wasn't the right way to give charity. To give charity to the poor was to give your excess and remind yourself of how grateful you are for their virtues, and build virtue for yourself. To help the poor must be done as an aristocrat would help them with alms. Not help the poor in a way that amounted to slow suicide.
She had disrespected the servants by not eating their cooking.
She had disrespected God for not being thankful for her daily bread.
She had disrespected the Earth for rejecting a bountiful harvest.
And… she'd disrespected the peasants for not eating their food.
"… I don't remember much of what happened after that. Not the specifics of who was doing what."
She remembers raising her voice.
She'd been taught like a good lady to honor her family and follow their words, but she would never accept any of that. Not in a million years.
"I told them the obvious truth. The servants weren't happy to serve us, they were scared. The peasants weren't happy we ate for them, they were miserable. If this was the world God wanted, God had created Hell on Earth and forced us to live in it."
"That was when Father started shouting over me and my brother joined in. When Mother started crying 'She's possessed!' When the servants backed away because they knew I spoke the truth."
"I realized what I always was. Something 'other'."
"They realized it, too."
They seized on her Mother's words and Mania's obvious 'ill-constitution.' Some 'thing' had stolen her daughter's body.
"It had been all since that day I sneaked off alone. I'd been beguiled by some temptation and corrupted my soul. I'd brought it into the house."
"…They had to burn me."
"My soul was corrupt, my mind gone, it would be the only way to protect their honor."
"And– I realized I needed to leave."
She ran away from them as fast as she could.
Fortunately it was still raining and the terrain wasn't suitable for horses. Nor were they so enraged to personally chase her into the dirty wilderness.
"I ran, and ran, and ran… and then collapsed again."
She'd gone right into the dense forest. She was cold, wet, her body was full of scrapes and bruises, and her aristocrat clothes were torn all over.
Fear motivated her to keep going when she woke up. Hunger would not make her go back.
"Besides, I had just gone for a month without eating. I could do it again…"
Eventually she found a river to drink at and the rain stopped. She was safe, but had no idea where she was.
"I couldn't find my way back if I wanted to."
So, that's it…
Mania wasn't just concerned for charity to the poor, but why the peasants were poor.
Your first thought is that Mania's family sounded reasonable until they relied on trying to explain Mania's concerns as witchcraft.
Going that far was despicable.
…But you can't help but feel a sense of awe.
Mania starved herself for an entire month to bring food to peasants?
If this had been in a different context, the Church may have made her a literal Saint for her action.
You're not sure you could accomplish such a feat. Not while still exerting yourself, and not while still carrying around perfectly fine food just for the sake of giving it to someone else.
The closest you may have gotten was at your coronation, where you briefly entertained the notion of feeding your meal to the lowly peasants while you yourself ate nothing, but you dismissed it as too extreme.
Mania's eyes fixate on something distant.
"I stayed there by the river, not knowing what to do. I had no servants to bring me food. No pantry to raid. No kind peasants to share their meagre meals. I wondered what would happen if I truly remained out in the woods without anyone to find me."
"That was when 'she' appeared."
Mania's voice trails off into a hard shuddering.
"It was night. It was raining. By all means, I should have at least fled from the river and found shelter under a tree. But… I didn't."
She rolls herself to her feet.
"I felt… a compulsion."
She walks a few steps, giving you a chance to take in the sight of her naked ass.
It's hardly tight. You can see ripples of fat, but what else would you expect? Besides… on a generous form like Mania's, it's part of her charm.
"There was a rock in the middle of the river. Big enough to climb on to. Flat enough to stand."
"I had never swam a day in my life until that point."
"But my instincts were telling me to strip until I was as naked as the day I was born."
She turns toward you. She has her arms spread out wide as if expecting some great hug. It puts her belly and breasts on full display.
"I swam… and I swam… and though the water was cold, I felt no pain. I reached that rock and climbed up."
She did? With what muscle? Forget swimming, how did she manage that?
"…It was then I realized I had been drawn there."
"I needn't scorn or pity my family. They had brought me to that moment."
"Everywhere I looked, the spirits' eyes were on me. They were everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. Watching me curiously like they'd never seen something like me."
"The moon cast its light down and she appeared."
"And she was pleased."
Mania lets out another shudder, trailing into an open-mouthed grin.
"Oh, how she smiled. She laughed. She turned about in the water and sky."
"She showed me the way… that the concept of God was wrong… both a lie, and a tool used to preserve a terrible society. God guides no one. God shows itself to no one."
It's your own turn to shudder as the blasphemy really washes over you. You realize you're gripping the edge of your bucket too tight. Thoughts of ogling Mania's body are shoved aside. All of your focus is on her eyes.
"…But the Goddess… she had shown herself to me…"
"…She was kind. She knew only kindness…"
"…Why was I starving, when there was a bounty all around me?…"
"…There were plants, fish, meat… nature itself grew these things…"
"…She would teach me charms and spells to help myself, and others… a reward for my devotion… Did she require houses, or speeches, or anything else? No…"
"…All I had to do was give, and receive back. The spirits would be appeased and I would find what I needed…"
"…That was the mercy of the Goddess's favor for following my destiny."
She stares right ahead, as if she can't see you. She sways slightly.
…It's then you're reminded she's a full-term pregnant woman and you're watching her struggle to hold her balance.
You immediately move toward her and help her back to her seat.
Your arm wraps around her thick waist as she comes to her senses and gently waddles around.
"Hehehe… thank you, sir."
She confesses, talk about the Goddess's revelation always moves her.
She cannot put the Goddess's beauty into words.
"…That's why I cannot teach anything I learn, nor would she want me to."
She stayed on that rock, dancing with the Goddess until she could dance no more.
She was able to get back to shore. And that's when she fully knew what she was… and always was.
"I was a witch."
>No choice yet. Further update coming soon.
She keeps talking, her story entering mundane travels, sprinkled with talk about rituals she performed. Spirits she appeased. How the Goddess smiled on her.
She met an old man who lived alone in the woods and tried to drive her away. Less from her being a witch and more because he craved isolation. She gave him fresh fish she had managed to grab, along with handfuls of berries. He sighed and taught her if she wished to barter, she'd need something better than that. That was where she started to learn woodcarving and was gifted her own axe and knife. After that, things became much easier for her.
"The spirits in the trees carefully guide this witch's hand."
You listen, but you reflect on what Mania has told you and the implications.
One, she definitely believes in her Goddess. The spirits as well. It's not an act to disguise her true origins. She considers herself much more of a hag than ever an aristocrat.
Two, her capacity for self-sacrifice is higher than you thought. Much beyond forsaking any coin.
Third is a question you keep wondering but don't know how to voice.
What happened to her family?
Were they at your gathering?
It… could be.
She hasn't given you any references for how much time has passed. Or locations.
At the very least, if her family was here, and they saw her, they likely wouldn't recognize her. No, you're sure they wouldn't unless someone told them or she reached out herself.
There's absolutely nothing about her that says nobility. Her living conditions, the state of her body, her pregnancy… it all speaks to someone used to living in filth.
"That was when I heard about the Faire. That there would be many people. Many people who needed blessings that could come from this hag's cups and milk. It was destiny… and now destiny has brought sir here."
Her face slowly turns towards yours.
"And… this hag… couldn't be happier."
She looks at you with tears in her eyes.
Your eyes mist as well after hearing about all her hardships.
You share a gentle embrace with her, the woman whose compassion drove her to… this. Her belly rubs against your torso and you sigh in pleasure.
…You're still not sure if it's positive. She seems happy, and you're sure she has helped people, but… if the circumstances had changed just a little, she'd be a noble lady known for her piety and generosity. Not a lonely woman who's had her mind rationalize her ostracism as some Goddess's… blessing.
It's too late. She's clearly invested all of her identity into being a witch. It'd be cruel to take that away from her.
At any rate, you can't see any reason to think she's related to, say, Dimitrie or the Chrisania siblings.
You mentioned Oana by name and heard no recognition from Mania. Dimitrie reported his father was long dead.
And none of the Chrisania siblings never mentioned another sister, nor did Mania mention anyone besides a brother.
… No wonder she wasn't surprised when you told her about the political backstabbing.
You don't feel like leaving. Not now.
Where should you take the conversation…?
>Gently try to coax more details about Mania's family from her.
>She's told you her story and you've barely talked about yourself. Offer to let her hear about what brought you to Ruhemania.
Communication goes both ways.
Option two. A two way street, indeed. Though we might want to share of the things we've told her with Tharja before too long.
>5 votes for option two, open up about your own history.
Talk about what brought you to Ruhemania.
Poll closed. Update soon.
You decide not to push Mania about her family and their possible role in your gathering.
You'd rather not hear they're one of the families that had to be confined to the dungeon. You don't think it'd give Mania any sense of closure, either. She's happy thinking she wasn't really 'born' an aristocrat.
It'll be a mystery unless something happens or Mania decides to tell you more.
At any rate…
You tell her you're happy too. To be with her. That you're still adjusting to being King…
You begin to tell her about Virilia. How your country is distant and isolated. Your father who was shrewd, but honest. Your brother who was… a conniver.
You were raised to be your Father's successor, but your ambitions were to be a King.
You were given that chance through marriage, which brought you to Ruhemania.
Facilitated by… your dedication to impregnating women.
She listens attentively, not stopping you or judging you. She doesn't question your story about all the women you've known.
You tell her everything, except how witches influenced your life. The magic of Tharja and Beatrice. You leave out the secrets of internal politics and policies as well. No need for her to know about that.
In the end, you weren't sure what kind of Kingdom Ruhemania would be. You judged your choice to come to Ruhemania both on your attraction to Tharja and what you heard about the country… but it's clear Ruhemania needs leadership. Leadership that cares.
You admit you've never done any sacrifice like Mania… but you hope you can help the poor in your own way.
"…Hehehe. Sir is not a witch. There is no shame or scorn."
… You thank her for understanding.
She presses a finger to her cheek in thought, leaving an indent in the flesh.
"Sir, a question."
All right. If it's not about… affairs of state.
She shakes her head.
"It's something you said when you talked about growing up."
…Hm? Is she going to ask how many women you've made pregnant?
"Sir describes his relationship with his Father as tough, but fair. That he knows he expects the best from him. Sir describes his Mother with lament for her loss."
"…Sir describes his brother with nothing but scorn and hatred."
She points out that every interaction you've talked about having with Albert is negative.
He is either slighting you, jeering you, plotting against you, or trying to show you up.
"You only talk about him with a smile when you recall 'putting him in his place'."
Showing you can best him at swordplay and he should dare not challenge you when you were children.
How he vacated the library when you showed up, without one word from you. What was his motivation? Was it deceit, consideration, or fear?
His final words to you at the dinner, saying 'the castle won't be the same without you'… he'd drawn laughs, but had he meant to?
Of course he had.
She looks at you, and you're caught at a loss for words.
"Sir… I know you carry the pain of losing your Mother with you. Is it possible–"
No, no no.
You see what's getting at. She's simply wrong.
Albert is just a conniving little snake.
After all, he's…
You can feel yourself trembling as Mania continues to listen to you. As you catch yourself near-ranting about your brother to this kind woman.
… You look away.
You can't help but see a new perspective.
Of course you could best Albert in swordplay. He was younger than you. There was no challenge.
Of course he deferred to you. You'd regarded him with scorn and suspicion when you interacted.
Did he really want Father's title and hope to usurp you? You can't recall him ever saying as much to Father.
You hang your head and hold it with your hands. Your face burns with shame.
You've… you've been the bully in Albert's life.
Oh, God. It's obvious.
Moreover, he never fought back.
You took it as a sign he was plotting and conspiring against you, waiting for his opportunity, but…
…It's much simpler to assume he wanted a relationship with you. That he hoped to win your consideration. That he knew that you were, deep down, a person who took justice and fairness seriously.
She's right, you admit.
You blamed Albert for it. Your first thoughts about him were 'If he didn't exist, Mother would still be alive.'
She reaches out and strokes your knee.
"It's all right, sir."
No. You've realized this too late. Virilia is too far from here. You likely will never see him again. You owe him an apology and more.
Still Mania comforts you, she moves to take you in her arms, and you gladly accept the gesture.
"It's good you realize. That you can recognize it, sir. That in itself is a kindness, even if he never knows."
You sigh as you feel the regret pulse through you. You've had a blind-spot this entire time.
Hopefully you won't have any more.
>No choice yet. Further update coming soon.
At some point, we should see if Beatrice or Tharja can whisk us away to Virilia for a day….. there are definitely some loose ends there, from what I can tell.
You sit and embrace Mania a little longer.
She freely moans into your touchings of her belly. The stroking of her soft skin around the tight round middle.
You wish you could do more for her, you say.
You don't want her to be lonely. Especially now that the Faire is ending and there's even less reason for the peasants to come by.
"There is something you can do."
She had to turn over her carving axe and knife to the castle guards when she entered. She'd like those back.
"That, and if I could be allowed to leave the castle and then return, I could find wood to carve."
The peasants will treat her a little kinder once she has more of a presence for bartering with them. She can't let pregnancy or childbirth slow her down.
It'll be done, you swear.
You hate to personally run errands and be 'royal messenger,' but in this case you'll make an exception and retrieve Mania's things for her.
Mania looks up at you, her lips parted in surprise.
She shudders in a soft blush.
"Aha… sir really is too kind."
… You trail and stroke her belly from the sides and underneath.
No, it's as Mania says, isn't it? Kindness brings kindness.
And Mania is perhaps the kindest person in this castle, if not the country.
Mania's blush turns even deeper, mixing in with the hormonal mask of pregnancy on her face, and you hear her start to cry.
There's nothing more to say. Not with words.
So instead you just hold her, for a few more minutes.
You walk from Mania's cart to your castle walls.
–You make a decision.
You're not going to lament that Mania could have been a fine, proper noble woman.
It's an insult to her character. To her choices. To her courage, compassion, and determination.
She's a beautiful person, exactly as she is.
On a personal level on how you'll be relying on her, the revelation is also welcome.
Mania has education. Mania has perspective.
You're more confident that you can trust her advice on helping the lives of the commoners. That it will be sound suggestions based on good reasoning and not just spiritual babble from an insane woman.
…Ah, yes. 'An insane woman'. Beatrice's immediate and honest appraisal of Mania.
Oh well, you don't need Mania and Beatrice to get along. You'll just let that thought leave your head.
You reach the guards stationed at your drawbridge and find the one in charge of the collection of weapons.
It's not hard to collect Mania's things: they're meant to be used on wood, not on people. They stand out among the few weapons left.
"There's something else I should let you know, Your Majesty."
The free folk, also known as 'Varillo's Gang,' made their exit.
As instructed, they were all returned their machetes, as labeled and kept for each individual.
"He… had a message."
The guard is hesitant to repeat Varillo's exact words, but it was something to the effect of 'We spent money, had a good time. Have another Faire so we can spend more money and have a better time. Or hire us and give us money.'
Sounds like Varillo, you suppose.
You also inform the guard, and this can be passed throughout the entire watch. Inform General Robin as well:
There is a witch living in the castle. She has your permission to enter and leave the castle as she chooses. Open and close the drawbridge as necessary.
And don't anyone dare, don't anyone, even, dare… to try to close the drawbridge behind her after she leaves and not open it when she comes back.
If that happens, you will become very cross. Angry. Furious.
…According to the new law, witches are simply superstitious women and to be treated as any other traveler. This is a traveler you're allowing to enter and exit the castle as she asks.
"A-Aye, Your Majesty."
He swears he will follow your word and make sure everyone understands. You describe Mania… well, just as a dirty looking woman with long hair, grown wild. She'll gladly respond to 'hag'.
You also mention she's somewhere shy of 40 weeks pregnant, so he may see her with a newborn being carried with her.
You return to Mania with her tools.
She's sitting on her bucket, rolling back and forth on the edges, bouncing herself in the dirt a bit. You think she's trying to relieve some pressure on her back.
"Thank you, sir."
You put them aside. They're hers, she can decide what to do with them.
… It's getting to be midday.
You're not hungry, not after Mania's milk fed you.
Neither are you that eager to leave.
You tell Mania you've given instructions to the guards. They'll lower the drawbridge by your request, both to go out, and to come in.
And if you visit her cart and discover they've shut her out of the castle, you'll skin them alive.
You say it jokingly at least.
"…Hehehe. Sir will have to… visit often."
It's been worth it, you tell her.
–And not just to indulge your own tastes.
She raises her hands to you.
"Will you take the last cup? I hoped sir would finally take it."
In her hands she holds out the last cup with her milk from the counter.
>Take it, then pay her, as first agreed.
>Take it, and thank her.
>Take it, and drink from it.
>Refuse… not because you don't want it, but as an indirect promise that you'll come back.
Write in a combination of options 3 and 1: Drink her milk and provide payment. Just in case it helps her barter for something within the castle.
Option 4, Edward isn’t that hungry to take anymore as that’d be gluttony on his part and just taking it without consuming it in front of her means her gift isn’t that important to him(Edward always consumed Mania’s milk immediately)
Rather, considering how romantically attached they are right now, I think the concept of using the gift as an indirect promise to return matches the atmosphere of the situation quite nicely.
Also, didn't Mania say she was 8 months pregnant, not 40 weeks?
I think Edward's developing a "type," beyond just the pregnancy fetish. Slightly crazy and supernaturally-inclined?
Mania didn't say anything regarding how far along she was, but the narrative did say Edward's first meeting with her made him think "8-9 months, but hasn't dropped." He could have his own motivations for telling the guard "40 weeks."
Please continue to vote.
Option 4. We've indulged a bit too much already, no need to make ourselves sick doing so. :P And we'll be back anyway, because I know people are going to keep voting to see her until she's had her baby and is pregnant by us again.
>1 vote for option one, take it, then pay her, as originally agree.
>4 votes for option four, decline the cup as an indirect promise to come back.
>1 vote for write in, take the cup, pay her, and drink from it.
Refuse the cup.
Poll closed, update soon.
…Not just yet.
You can't take the cup, yet.
Because You have no place worthy of holding such a splendid cup.
Mania blinks up at you.
You tell Mania you've seen it.
The cup shines brighter each time you visit.
That's why… you need to come back.
And you'll keep coming back.
You're sure the cup will shine brighter each time… as well as her.
One of her hands goes to rub her face as emotions pass through her. You see her blushing, tears at the corners of her eyes, and eventually a smile.
"Aha… this hag will have to fill it with many more blessings for sir, until then."
You move closer and kiss her one last time. Sweet, to her lips. You remind her not to be alarmed if the medicus comes by, too. If he does something wrong, she can rely on you to fix it.
She gives a little nod.
"Then… until sir comes back…"
You return to the castle and eventually call on Beatrice to your tower. You have something you want to discuss.
Something you want.
Beatrice sits opposite you. Alone in your room. Her pipe between her fingers and her legs playfully crossed. A wicked grin on her face.
"Name it, King."
You want Beatrice to come with you.
Not now, but eventually.
You want to go around Ruhemania and actually see it. Not just burgs, but lowly peasant settlements.
You want to see their conditions and help them.
–Obviously dumping a pile of gold at their feet isn't going to help.
But Beatrice's magic…
You know she can create things. You've watched her produce delicious food and apples in her hand from nothing.
For those areas that need it, could she improve the peasants' land, even just a little bit?
Not something to make it otherworldly, but something to make the yield a little better. To ensure they have enough to eat after their Lord takes his fair share.
Improve the soil. Ensure enough seeds grow. That sort of thing.
You don't think you're asking for a lot. But, will she?
Beatrice looks at you with outright disgust.
… You wish she'd reconsider.
You hear her give a very tense exhale of breath, you see her face tight.
"I will never reconsider my refusal."
… Can you ask why?
You know she has the power for that.
Beatrice twists her face in a darkly grim expression. Baring teeth in her stretched grin.
"Whyyyyyy~? Because I am an evil, heartless, vicious witch, of course! I care nothing for the peasants! Less so on making their lives 'easier'! Weren't you paying attentiooo~on? Didn't Daniella say something like 'oh, the commoners suffered because of those evil, evil witches'?"
Her chest rises and falls with a sharp intake of breath.
"As a matter of fact, I'd like to remind you of your obligation to me, King! Eventually, I will have that tower. Eventually, I will pursue my magical experiments. And I will absolutely need bodies to work with. These are things you've allowed me to have, King. I never said I was willing to wait forever for people to die."
Beatrice is showing you a very stark side of herself, you say.
You thought your relationship was better than this. Better than that she has to frighten you with promises of bringing death to your peasants, who you, as King, must protect.
Her face softens.
"It is. And we are. But you're making it very difficult for me, King. It's already too much to ask me to limit my magical experiments. …I simply won't travel the countryside, resting my head on some gross rock as a pillow, all for the sake of trying to work such lowly magic. What you ask is the equivalent of asking the finest warrior to chop wood with his sword."
She takes a puff of smoke and exhales, casting a side glance at you, face considering something.
"I see… that woman in the cart is capable of some witchcraft, isn't she?"
Mania is making you hyper-aware of the needs of the peasants.
Beatrice makes a little sigh.
"King, rule your country as you like. But taking it upon yourself to visit and bestow a magical boon on every last peasant… even if I were willing to go along with this, don't you think it's a little foolhardy? Responsibility for every individual peasant truly is hubris. An impossible fool's errand to attempt. What will happen to the rest of the country, King?"
Now it's your turn to sigh. Beatrice is right.
And as King, you recognize she's right. The only way you could do anything else would be to start living like Mania. And that's not what a King needs to do to be King. But after all the talk with Mania… your heart weeps.
"King, my suggestion is to concentrate on what you can actually do within your own context of powers. You once asked me what I was capable of, and I told you I wouldn't tell you. What about you?"
… She has a point. It's not like you aren't King around here.
You could talk to Ricardo about taxation or some other thing, perhaps.
Another project after the tower is built…
Yes, you understand.
All right. It was a rather brutal way to make her point, but you thank Beatrice for the insight.
She gives you a healthy cackle, at that.
"Ahahaha~! –Boasts and bluster aside, King, I will eventually need material. When my tower is complete."
–Yes, yes, you understand, already.
It's a shame the dungeon needed to be cleared out, you suppose.
Though at this rate, there will likely be more rebellious subjects in them before too long.
You wonder if the priest is still here.
You could make one last visit and see.
Not that you're feeling pious, but…
If you were to send a message to Virilia, to your brother Albert, through the Church would be a worthy way of sending it.
Though you're not sure how Albert would take it after all this time. Should you save the apology? Maybe for some sort of visit, or for when Father died and you'd need to discuss the state of your new titles in Virilia…
At any rate, you make your decision as you decline the stairs with Beatrice.
>Visit the priest. Ask him if he'll pass on a message to Virilia addressed to your brother, Albert.
>The circumstances aren't right. He'll be suspicious of the sudden reversal, and you just got done coming back from the nomads again. Let it go, for now.
Option two, too early to be doing this now.
Option one. Though I don't think the priest is inclined on doing us any favors, I would hope he would help reconcile a pair of brothers. And we need to take opportunities when they present themselves.
Option 1. Mea culpa!
The add. text of the choice basically and flatly lays out why this very well could be a bad choice at the present moment.
Option 1. Presumably the message would be private, so why would the priest think anything of it? You're King, you've decided to contact home. I don't really see a lot of incinerated political points with the Church here.
>4 votes for option one, visit the priest, write the note apologizing to your brother.
>3 votes for option two, delay the letter for another time.
Write to Albert.
Poll closed. Update soon.
No, it's better to do it now.
While it's still fresh in your mind and you can still sympathize properly.
You depart from Beatrice, from the guard standing watch, and go to where the priest is staying.
You greet the Father and tell him you're sorry for the suddenness, but you have a request for him that the Church could perhaps fulfill.
You want a message passed on to your brother, in Virilia.
"Well, that's within our power, of course. Is it about the affairs of God?"
…In a way. It involves your soul, at least.
At that, the priest raises his eyebrows, surely piqued by your assertion. He arranges one of his attendants to fetch a parchment and quill to write with.
He asks if you mind dictating and the attendant will record it.
You tell him you don't mind. Any message sent through the Church would never be private.
Dearest Albert, my only brother on this Earth.
Please forgive the suddenness of this message.
I write to apologize.
Not for one specific action, but my entire relationship with you.
I've held you accountable for things that are not your fault. I've looked at you with scorn when you deserved kindness and the sort of encouragement a younger brother deserves of the elder.
I'll say it plainly: I held you guilty for the death of Mother. The grief of her loss tore at my heart and rather than find a way to cope with it, I inflicted that misery on you.
The priest and the attendants perk up, but what you're saying doesn't involve them. You continue:
I regret only in a state that untold miles separate us both that I've been led to an epiphany of how twisted and monstrous I've treated you. That I've been unjust. Unfair. Unkind.
I've been the bully, and you have every right to hate me.
I only hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I offer you my remorse for every single wrong I've committed. The beating I gave you when we both practiced swordplay. The dismissal I offered you when you merely wanted to show interest in what I was interested in. The humiliation I inflicted on you when you attempted to join my circle of friends.
That I squandered and spurned the opportunity to have a genuine relationship with you in our youth will fill me with sorrow for the rest of my days.
There's nothing I can do but regret and repent those sins.
God may forgive me, but I understand if you cannot.
You have all my best wishes and my hopes that the days without me present have been easier for you. I hope Father is treating you kindly. Please give him my regards as King Edward of Ruhemania.
Your brother, Edward.
There's a long silence before the attendant meekly tells you that he's recorded every word, as you've spoken. You give it a glance to confirm and nod.
The priest for his part looks at you perhaps with the most sympathy he's ever shown you.
"That was… a great display of humility, Your Majesty. I will pass this through the Church's network and do my best to ensure it reaches your dear brother in Virilia."
You're feeling more than a little emotional. Part of which is left over from the meeting with Mania and the confrontation with Beatrice.
… This was the right thing to do.
Hopefully Albert will do more than throw it in the fire.
The priest smacks his lips.
"If appropriate, I may also offer you some penance… in the name of God."
… You would appreciate it, you tell the priest.
You actually do feel some catharsis after saying the penance, but it's more from writing the letter and getting it off your chest than the actual motions and the thought that God has forgiven you for those sins.
Ah, it's sunset.
Perhaps the embrace of your wife will also help.
>No choice yet. Further update coming soon.
Tharja is in a mood to be sexy, but unfortunately you're still recovering emotionally.
You instead spend the time sharing your experiences with her.
She listens with a sympathetic ear, and a warm embrace to comfort you.
"I'm so sorry, Edward. About your mother… your brother. I never knew."
It's all right. You suppose you never really talked to Tharja about your family. You had to share and come to terms with your reputation. Then you became focused on learning the ins and outs of the castle and day-to-day living.
Then the revelation about magic overshadowed everything else. As well as you becoming King.
She kisses you, and you kiss back.
You urge her. Does she have any of her own regrets?
The last time she really spoke to King Vlad was to request your wedding ring. He listened, but he was most interested in hearing if you had both had already had sex, and it made the talk very awkward.
You nod. You remember that.
It's likely why he agreed, looking back. Especially when he gave you your own reward later. The promise of a horse that became the arrival of Eclipse and Malon.
She was never really taught to know anything about politics. She was encouraged to pursue silent little hobbies, which became reading.
Unfortunately, it brought her into conflict with Lorenzo, who similarly had his stake in the library.
"I suppose we were alike in a lot of ways, except…"
Lorenzo wanted more freedom. But Tharja was more content to do what King Vlad wanted.
So, he gave her a little more privilege. Like her room close to the library, which made it much easier to take advantage of it.
"And that passage inside it."
Right. The one behind her bed.
…Did she use it often?
Tharja… sort of twirls her hair.
"Well, no… not until I became a witch."
It was hard to light the way. And it smelled terrible. Becoming a witch solved those problems, and she was able to practice with the skeletons.
You suppose you owe him a debt of gratitude.
On the one hand, he was dastardly and an attempted murderer. On the other hand, if he hadn't died, Tharja wouldn't have become a witch. You never would have had her as an option for a bride. And you never would have had your curse lifted.
Tharja goes on to admit it's hard to reconcile the father she remembers with the King Vlad who killed so many witches.
"I can see him doing it, but at the same time… I want to blame people like Daniella. For serving him. Enabling him."
You hold her a little tighter. It seems there is a part of her that laments her relationship with King Vlad.
"…I know it's silly. But I want to think I could have talked him into reason. That if his daughter was a witch… maybe he could see they weren't all bad?"
That's a dangerous idea.
She nods and tells you she knows.
Daniella never would've agreed, or likely listened to King Vlad even if it had happened and he had been persuaded. And Beatrice's pain couldn't be ignored.
"It'll always be a 'what if'."
You really don't know what to say. It sounds like pure folly.
But if you remember Daniella's words: King Vlad refused to even consider the possibility that Tharja had become a witch. To the point he ordered her never to investigate.
–Though if he'd known how women become witches and remembered Lorenzo's death, he may have had less reservations.
Well, there's nothing you can say.
You don't want to betray Ricardo's confidence and tell her about how he was taken for granted. It's not your story to tell, and the circumstances are different, besides.
…The mood is much too sour.
You tell Tharja you don't want to end their time together with sorrow. Your time with Tharja is so precious it's a waste to fill it with maudlin thoughts.
So… tenderness instead.
You kiss, and more. A lot more. Until you're both satisfied.
Robin begs for your judgment next morning.
"This'll be the last time I bother you about prisoners, Your Majesty. God willing."
The very small number of nobles who outright told you to your face that you have no right to be King have cracked. They wish to swear fealty and beg forgiveness.
"This does not include Oana, of course."
What is the situation with Oana, you ask?
She's being held in chains and gagged, only for it to be taken off so she can eat and drink. She shows no signs of remorse, but she's not aggressively antagonizing the guards, saying, or doing much of anything.
"She seems resigned to her fate in the dungeon. My suggestion is to keep her there unless something calls for an execution."
Hm… Oana does, through Ricardo, know a bit about your finances, but she never wielded a literal weapon against you. You also feel a bit of distaste at executing an aging woman, even if she is treacherous and without remorse.
The Old Guard meanwhile was guilty of much greater crimes. They violated their oath to serve you and Ruhemania. They may well have taken up literal arms if it weren't for the quick thinking of Robin. Furthermore, releasing them would have created a potential threat to your security.
You can't think Oana is such a significant threat that she would warrant execution, at the moment. Her greatest threat would be indirectly on Dimitrie, and they will never again meet.
Oana can be left alone. Keeping her alive down in the dungeon is likely more of a punishment, as Robin has said before.
"But what about the other nobles, Your Majesty?"
Robin's suggestion there?
She gives a shrug.
"They're recanting because of the terrible conditions. You've confiscated their property they're holding. You could banish them. Their estate will go to their next of kin."
She does say holding them is an option, if you would rather just not hear about them again. With the Old Guard gone, there are more free cells.
You don't need to ask about pardoning them or executing them.
For those nobles who told you to your face that they opposed you because you're a foreigner…
>Execute them. They could continue to spread disgusting prejudice against you if they live.
>Banish them. They don't need to die, but they do need to leave.
>Pardon them, with an oath of fealty and loyalty and recognizing you are the one legitimate Monarch.
>Leave them in the dungeon. They insulted you personally. There's no need to do anything until you need room.
Write-in: "Banish" them and tell Beatrice that she can have them for research material. Maybe ask Beatrice how many bodies she needs.
This time, I don't think mercy is the way to go. They've had ample opportunity. They're only asking for it, because they can no longer take being imprisoned. Once we set them free in any shape or form, they will betray us again.
Their ultimate judgement is not hastened as we have not yet reached the point of having a full dungeon to warrant such an order if we're rolling for option 1. Options 2-3 might seem logical but we've already established banishing them is quite risky and giving them early pardons would damage our image of being firm. There will be plenty of time to tackle this again, but this is not the day.
If the objective is to make them research material for Beatrice, it should be option 4 to keep them in the dungeon until she's ready. She won't start experimenting with bodies until she has her private space in the tower.
Please continue to vote.
I also agree with either 'executing' or 'banishing' them if they are to be given to Beatrice. But if that is unfeasible, then just execution is my vote.
In that light, Option 4
In that case, I change my vote to option four.
They had their chance, they used it to spit in our faces. Let 'em rot.
Hmm… Option 4. 2 and 3 aren't effective, and Beatrice did remind us that she'll want subjects, so there we go.
>1 votes for option one, execute them.
>7 votes for option four, let them remain in the dungeon.
Let them rot in the dungeon. Perhaps Beatrice can use them some day.
Poll closed. Update soon.
[View All] (340 posts and 14 image replies omitted)
Their rebellion was egregious. You won't pardon or otherwise give freedom to nobles who personally disrespect you and the crown. That admitted to openly taking part in conspiracy because they honestly believed they were in the right.
They may stay in the dungeon. You'll only reconsider their fate if the dungeon becomes full and needs space. And even then… execution may await them. Or Beatrice.
"The dungeons aren't nearly as crowded as they were before the execution of the Old Guard. You're at less than even half capacity."
Still, you may want to consider remodeling.
"Not that I want to argue the dungeons aren't comfortable enough, but they do make passing in food complicated."
It's a small issue. One that will have to wait until after the tower is built. Not before.
Besides that, Robin reports that after some campaigning, a number of new recruits have come to swear to serve you. Including women.
You'll gladly hear their oaths, you tell her.
You come back to the armory with a bit of mixed feelings.
Some of the women were so slight they truly weren't in any shape to contribute to your army. Training would have ruined them.
After some gentle coaxing, they were dissuaded.
It was the compassionate thing to do. You don't want to have to deal with any woman having trouble because they can't handle the training. Even if it'd mean you'd be close to them.
Still, there are a few women who actually do look strong enough to train.
You have them say their oaths, and a few more men are added to your army.
Aside in the armory, Robin tells you that it will still take more recruiting to replenish the Old Guard's ranks, but for now there is a good base, and the newbies won't outnumber the 'veterans' as it is.
"I'm going to create a chain of command built on merit so that a situation akin to the Old Guard never happens again."
It sounds like Robin knows what she's doing.
…How is Robin getting along?
What does her day look like, you ask?
She sleeps in the room given to her as an aristocrat. It's simply too much to sleep in the actual barracks.
"That said, I make a point of going to the barracks to eat."
She waits in line and makes sure everyone gets a fair portion. –Noi's portion is much bigger than anyone else's.
You nod. It's good Robin recognizes the necessity of comradery.
Robin sort of looks guilty.
"I do, but it's also an easy way to avoid being poisoned."
After that, she's hearing reports. Assigning guard schedules. Inspecting the troops. Etc.
"I'm anxious to start examining the old battle plans that are mothballed and analyze the layout of the castle, but I haven't had time, yet."
She tells you she'll create multiple strategies to fit every situation so you, and Ruhemania, can be prepared.
"I'd like permission to create a survey of how many peasants of fighting age can be pressed into service if necessary from the surrounding territories, but that will have to wait."
You nod. You can't accuse Robin of being lazy.
You thank her for the update. Speaking of food, you have yet to eat yours, so you excuse yourself.
You meet with Ricardo, or really, Ricardo and Camilla.
Camilla is giving you an update on the treasury situation herself Ricardo simply sits by and lets her talk. You do your best to concentrate on her words and not her figure.
"The Faire has been a resounding success. At least, economically speaking. Commissions and fees from the merchants have helped us recover some of what was spent in holding it."
"Unfortunately we weren't able to recover all coin used in the sabotage of Oana's scheme. We'll have to be satisfied with a few more useless luxury items being placed in the backroom, which you're free to inspect at any time."
"The work on the tower is going to continue. The architect has reported there's been no problems other than the slight delay of schedule. Some of the workers abandoned the job and did not return. Since the decision was made to import labor, that was always a risk. Fortunately, it's not been enough to delay the project. He expects it to be completed before the start of winter. And 'completed' means that it's ready to be furnished and moved into."
The treasury is two-tenths full.
"At current taxation, and accounting for the contribution of Kervuva's burgmeister, it will be half-full by the time the year ends."
"That would be enough to sustain Castle Valachia until summer of next year if it was entirely run at a deficit without any further taxes."
"All in all, the policies of the Faire of strict regulation of the affairs of the merchants was a success. We regulated where they could set their stands, when they could sell, how much they could sell, and how much we would take as a form of commission. Though there were some merchants disappointed with the policy, it worked very well for us."
"The spending of the free folk also helped spur trade."
"We maximized profits by providing small amounts of money to those most likely to spend, and taxing those that weren't."
"However, this was the first Faire ever held."
"If you intend to hold these annually, it might be worthwhile to revisit this policy."
"Now that merchants know what to expect, they will likely take measures to circumvent the regulation."
You nod… you think you understand, but at the very least you'll act like you do.
What sort of measures, you ask?
"Bribery. Creating a black market. Deliberately creating a lack of supply to raise prices."
–Well, you'll keep that in mind.
What about the nomads, didn't they help spending too?
Camilla and Ricardo exchange glances.
"Actually, the opposite. They operated as performers, who were not charged commissions or taxed. Furthermore, reports are that they kept that coin to themselves. The net result is they took money from others that otherwise would've been spent in the Faire, negatively affecting spending and the resulting profit."
Well, you appreciated having them there. You're sure whoever spared coin for Mara and Nara enjoyed it as well. –Mara especially.
Overall, a success, and the treasury is in healthy shape.
Excellent. You thank them for the report.
It seems Camilla is getting used to her role quickly. The sooner the better. You don't know how long Ricardo will stick around.
He may have inherited King Vlad's longevity, but who knows for certain, you muse?
You go back to meet Mania.
You can tell from how she looks and how her belly hangs.
You ask her if the medicus treated her kindly.
"…Hehehe. As well as this hag can be treated."
He took one look at her, asked if she was in labor, and she told him no. He left and said he'd be by again.
…You were hoping for something more than that.
Mania only shrugs.
Her delivery date is ticking down.
You wonder if you should really attempt to see it.
You decide to spend more time with her. You gently stroke her belly as she holds your hand over it.
You realize the messages you both wrote in the dirt are still there, and you can't help but feel your cheeks burn a little red.
…Her babe truly knows how to kick, you muse.
"Mm… sometimes it's hard to sleep."
You'd think lying on the dirt, with a bag or not would be harder than anything else.
…You ask her the meaning of the sigils she's drawn around the inside of her cart.
At your question she perks up, showing enthusiasm.
"Ah, sir has grown interested in my wards… hehehe."
>No choice yet. Further update coming soon.