Pascal Game 6 – Let All Who Build Beware

Since coming back to Luisant I’ve tried to dedicate my life to progress – towards learning new disciplines, towards inventing new devices, and towards enlightening others of the ideals and practices of a modern era. I’ve had my setbacks here and there – trying to rebuild my life here has slowed me down immensely – boarding with my uncle helps, but it comes at the cost of privacy. My community also tends to look down upon my inventions – a practice that I’m trying my damndest to remedy, but I feel like I’ll be fighting uphill the whole way. At least a few in my community have started to see the merits of my work, I just hope I’ll be able to convince them all in my lifetime.

That said, while it’s been hard for me to come to grips with – Granny Jo and the others are right – there may need to be a line drawn somewhere on these innovations.

For me, the line was drawn at the last market. The line starts innocently enough – humorous even – I was out gathering with Marinette and a few others when we happened upon Henri. As usual, he was busy sticking his arm down mama snapjaw’s mouth, when he managed to pull out a gun that presumably belonged to a guard. He handed it off to me, still dripping in whatever snapjaw had had for breakfast, knowing that I could fix it up. The day passes on – it seems like the guard who lost it isn’t currently looking for it, so I fixed it back up in the meantime, and left it in my backpack, where I quickly forgot about it after the fun of the blind mason’s trial, the spring sovereign contests, a rather intimate conversation with Ellie, and the maypole dancing.

I may have forgotten about it for a lot longer had it not been for the crisis of the grove that night. Fear reminded me to bring the gun, but it was madness that caused me to draw it forth, level it against the man who had given it to me to begin with, and to pull the trigger.

I will forever be grateful for the distractions of that day – had the spring sovereign festival not occurred, I may have had time to find powder and shot to actually load into the infernal device, and the event of the grove may have gone… differently.

I’ve always thought of firearms as just impractical weapons – their high metallurgical demands, their neigh-impossible to craft fuel source, and needing to collaborate with a noble to acquire and supply them always had them feeling like their applications and usage were too niche and limited to be as useful as a bow or sword. After that ordeal in the grove though – they’re not just impractical, they’re too dangerous for their own good.

And so I’ve drawn a line – a line across my life’s work of ceaseless innovation in the name of improving our lives at Luisant, with the hope that this line will prevent us losing the lives of Luisant. I need to get rid of this gun.

I Just Wish This Was Easier

“Why am I talking about him?” I said in bewilderment to my younger sister, Sev. I had not expected her to come to forum, but I guess she had been cooped up in the house for a while now. She did take after her mother a lot, or so it seems. She’s nothing like Dad. She’s more head-in-the-clouds, eccentric, and rambunctious. Many things dad would never allow. God, why am I thinking of him so much. He was so horrible to all of us, Sev probably more than the others. Despite all that, though, I guess he taught us some useful things. Why did I have to inherit his work. It’s just a burning nail of a reminder for me whose trying to live the life he wish he could. It’s so similar to what others saw of him that they see it as the same. It’s not. It absolutely was not. He dealt with coin. He spoke honeyed words to those who would give him money, but saw his own children as cattle, slaves, property. He deceived, or paid off, anyone who would have a second mind about him. He deserves all that came to him. Despite all his going-on about hard work, preparation, vigilance, and all the other bullshit virtues that he hammered into us, he was a bastard. I mean some of those are good things to have. There’s some in town that could use a good lesson or two about hard work. He didn’t even let us be kids, though. From when I could talk, I had a hammer in my hand, or at least a pair of pliers. When all the other kids were out in the mines or out enjoying themselves I was at the smith with him. For good or for ill, he taught me everything I know, and I despise that. I’m an adult now, and only know what he taught me. I don’t know what -I- like, what -I- want to do, only what feels like what he’s worked my mind to like and want.

Fabron takes a big sigh

I can’t let him control me anymore. -I- live for what -I- value and care about. If that’s smithing, that’s not because of him. If that’s caring for -my- family, that sure as hell is not because of him. I-…

I hate him so much, and the only way I see to truly get rid of him is to stop worrying about him.

I just wish it was easier though.

“Hey can I go out into the forest?” Sev asks, snapping me back to reality. How long was I just staring?

“No” Came my practiced response, grimacing at how familiar it sounded.

“Pleeeeease? I’ll be safe” Sev begged.

I glared at her, again in a rather practiced way. Maybe she’d see the pain behind it, or maybe tell from the time it was taking for me to respond that I didn’t want to say no, but only knew this way of taking care of her.

God, I just wish this was easier.

Grief and its musings

“Bad things happen to good people” was what Valentin Marveille had said to him, Pascal remembered that while telling the other man about his wife he could feel his chest tightening. He had no idea how he had kept his grief to himself for so long, regardless it felt good to finally release it onto someone who understood.

Lord knows he couldn’t do it with Teles, everytime he brought up his wife was in a delusional happy tone and Pascal wanted to shake him until he saw reality. Part of him felt jealous of Teles, living in such a blissful delusion that he sometimes wished for himself. Part of him felt sadness that the man has to relive the news that his wife has passed. It filled him with anger and sadness. Teles was a good man, Valentin was a good man…why were they given such grief to cope with?

“Bad things happen to good people” repeated like a mantra in his brain, he was still trying to understand. He had always been such a devout man to the one true god, he did everything a good Benalian would do and so the idea that the dreadful Vecatra had taken his wife and baby from him made sense to him. Valentin had told him it was likely not Vecatra that had made him lose his wife, Pascal still wasn’t convinced.

But why hadn’t god stopped this from happening to one of their devout children?

Was Vecatra stronger than God? Not possible, he was sure of it. Maybe it was a test. He still feels slightly irritated that during the forum the priests all seemed busy, he wanted to speak of faith but he also felt like there were bigger matters going on in their important lives. It felt selfish for Pascal to want a priest to pat his back and tell him it was going to be okay, but sadly the more he thought about it the more he realized that is what he needed at the time.

His faith had been wavering lately because of his loss, and was searching for a hand to guide him towards the righteous path again.

Pascal’s father had always expressed to him the importance of knowing his place, and he knew that his issues weren’t the issues of the town. There were bigger things at hand that needed to be taken care of, like an ancient being and a terrifying stag walking into a grove where he had found a girl flayed alive a few days before. In the grand scheme of things, the voice of his father would say sternly, a gravedigger wanting to be comforted is not anything of importance.

Pascal agrees with this thought.

Valentin had said something about living on to be able to resolve his grief, he was willing to try it if that made the knot in his chest a little less tight.

With a sigh he snapped out of his thoughts and continued attending to the graveyard. There was work to be done, maybe that was enough to keep his dreadful thoughts away for now.

Dig my grave

“forever never really felt so right, but it feels so safe when you dig my grave”

Everyone was alive and well. As she worked the oil into the wood Lysenna kept telling herself that. If she stopped, if she started thinking about what could have happened, how everything could have become even more wrong…
She couldn’t stop thinking about it.

“I know you know we both see the end of us”

Sanding the wood, she kept seeing all the ways everyone she loved being taken from her. The stricken faces of the ones who trusted her, who looked to her. She saw the blood splashing out onto the dark earth as it spilled from the man the elf had murdered.
Had sacrificed.

The twisting growth of the heartseed and Chropolar’s apprentice enterwined. Pallid light pulsing, a bright green but wrong somehow in a sickly imitation of life. The chalky dust of the remainder as it fell through Henri’s clenched fist.

“follow my lead, take my hand, things don’t always go to plan”

She kept seeing the fear and agony in Isabel’s face. As she pushed against the presence that had worked to alter her.

The rage and disgust in Granny Jo’s voice as she order Hugo to take action against Alphonse.

The despair in Marinette’s pleas to everyone to think things through.

“close your eyes, let’s misbehave, while you dig my grave”

The strange dreams with their dullness and emptiness were nothing now compared to the reality of the gathering. The luminous colors and exuberant music of the maypole dance all seemed so far away now. As far removed from the bloody shadows of the night before as the Throne was from their meager village.

“tell me why I tried so hard to hold you so it wouldn’t come, can’t keep pushing all the weight of everything that came undone”

She couldn’t undo the past. Or do the impossible. But she could do everything in her power to keep those she loved from harm. She could continue to stand up. To speak up. To shout. To scream. To fight. To bleed. To live. To die.

“I’m no hero, babe, but I can take a punch”

If all she could do was live and die, she could at least make it count.

One Foot Already In

“Hey mom… its been a while. Winter has finally thawed and snows no longer covering your grave… Its nice out today, light rain, flowers in bloom. You always liked this time of year, when the mornings still cling to your bones with a chill, but burns away midday to where a coat isn’t needed.” Alex would say, taking his hat off and holding it in front of him. Fidgeting and scrunching it up, he’d stammer out, “I.. I… I talked to Lenore recently… She’s doing well it seems. Jan has grown up like a weed, he seems set to be a big as dad…” He’d glance down to the ring on his thumb, sniffling then cough to try and compose himself.

“She told me part of what happened.. How you died shortly after I left. How the man you set her up with turned out to be an alcoholic that got violent with them… How she blamed me for leaving…..” He’d let the words hang out in the air, trying to keep his thoughts from crashing in. “She says she forgives me, I don’t fully believe her. In all honesty though, I don’t blame them if they do. They’ve been living out in the forests for the past couple of years it sounded like and the first time I get to talk to them, Jan is off running into the woods and Lenore has their leg busted open by a bee hive person. Benalus that was awkward… Especially since the reason that Jan left was trying to become a bandit out in the woods, just like their Uncle. I swear I am looking at a mirror set years in the past with how set on adventures he was, though his stubbornness definitely comes from his mother.”

“I do think some of the damage is getting repaired though, the trust I broke. Lenore showed up to church for my re-baptism, going by Alexandre now.. We talked a little about that last time, needing a fresh start. It went nice.” His hands would relax on his hat as he looked at the marker for her, trying to crack a small smile. “I set them up with House Dubois, Granny Jo offered to help us out for the time being, with the hope we’ll fix up a house for them. Honestly with how much I’ve been doing for the town, a house to put up my feet instead of out in the woods sounds real nice. They should be safe there for now, much better than how things were. Especially now since the woods are even more unsafe for those who can’t defend themselves.” He’d say, sighing as his thoughts began to wander.

“I.. I had the intention to promising you I’d take better care of them now.. Of being there for them. But I can’t lie to myself, nor to you mom.. I know you’d be proud of me getting re-baptized, trying to start a new life, but even after the ceremony I still feel this… this weight on my shoulders. When I shot Emile in the street, I thought this was it.. Everyone will know about who I am and they’ll condemn me. But then it didn’t. The town decided they wanted to keep me around and have my penance be working with Cadence to keep the town safe and explore the Mouth. And ever since then I’ve had this feeling that I’m the next tooo…” “Doesn’t matter..” Alex would shuffle in place, his eye drifting to the bare ground next to the plot.

“The town’s different from when we grew up. So many people died from the plague, those that are left are trying to keep the pieces together and yet.. Someone is going to get hurt. They make plans and plans on top of it and then last minute, they shift without telling everyone. And they ask me to keep everyone alive, everyone safe. So honestly.. its gonna be me there, taking hits for others when their plans blow up and living with the consequences afterwards… Well.. that’s if I even..” His face would slump slightly, trying to push out thoughts he was having. He’d run his hands through his hair, setting his hat back on and slipping the sling for his rifle over his shoulder, taking a final look at the marker. “Goodbye mom.. I love and miss you. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you then… I’ll see you later, maybe sooner than we both expected..”

On the Way Home From the Forum

Severin left the tavern to head back to his home with his arms full of gathered items. They kept slipping out and he kept having to reshuffle them in his arms. It wasn’t till he was almost there that he looked up and saw the figure shuffling down the road towards the village.

He squinted and saw the disheveled hair and the dead white skin of a corpse wandering into town. “Oh, that’s not good”, he said out loud.

Feeling he needed to defend himself, he kept shuffling items between his arms, trying to get them all under one arm, so he could draw his sword. He looked up as the figure shuffled closer towards him. Finally getting everything in one arm, he struggled to pull his sword which was stuck in the scabbard. It was always hard to pull out with just one hand and nothing holding the scabbard in place.

The creature came closer with its relentless shuffle, dead face, and claw like hands. He thought about calling for help, but didn’t know if anybody would hear him back in the tavern, let alone be able to make it in time. He continued to struggle with his sword, hoping to get it out before he was torn limb from limb by the lifeless monstrosity. He shut his eyes so he wouldn’t see his end coming.

“Well, hello there.”

“I’m going to the tavern.”

Severin opened an eye to see, “Oh, hello Bernard Bernard.” Severin quit struggling with his sword, reshuffled his items between his arms and continued to his home.

What to do? There are plans to set up an orphanage. Those kids need training in the ways of being proper citizens in Luisant. Severin’s kids need training in Luisant. The two had gotten together and jumped in a blud pool. Then the family dog has been attacked and almost killed by trolls. Something needs to be done to help the kids. Help them from killing us all most likely.

What they need is a good mother. Severin thought about how he was always at the tavern while they were at home getting sick, kidnapped, or into trouble on the wrong side of the river. He remembers when he used to just have them sleep in the back of the tavern under the tables. It was easier to keep track of them then. Now, they actually do have chores to do as well as things they want to be doing. Severin himself has his own obligations to bringing in food and cooking for the community. Everybody in Luisant does. Even if he was to marry again, the mother would have their own responsibilities to do instead of just looking after the children.

Perhaps there is something that can be worked out. He’ll have to think on that.

Journal Entry – Dead Wives

As much as I want to think that Camille is now at peace, I am almost certain she is not. Julienne sought me out during Market on Saturday evening. She has continued to have dreams about her Mother. I would like to dismiss this as lingering trauma from her kidnapping by Camille’s ghost, but that would be no better than lying to myself. Julienne is deeply afraid for me, worried that I will get myself killed and make her an orphan. I reassured her as best I could, telling her I take every precaution possible. What risks I take are for the good of Luisant and as minimal as they can be. I did not lie to her, but I certainly misled her. She must never know how close it has come in our continued explorations of the old laboratories. She certainly does not need to know about the time I was shot and healed in the gravity laboratory. Or about the fact that we went out mere hours later to confront an elf. She would just worry, when nothing she can do will change the circumstances. As much as I don’t want to risk her being orphaned, what I do must be done for the good of Luisant.

But the question remains, what do I do about Camille’s ghost. This shard of my wife that is so filled with spitefulness and twisted love. This shadow of the woman I loved with all my heart, whose appearance twists the knife every time I see her. It is clear that Friar Henri finding and burying her body did not resolve the problem. I cannot just ignore this problem and hope for the best. I need to find a solution. I need to protect Julienne.

So, what do I know? Her essence as a ghost indicates that her becoming Malefic is tied to something of a spiritual or mental nature. If it was simply her death or desecration of her body, her form would be something more corporeal. Second, her appearances have all centered around Julienne. Warning me about the danger presented by Truth. Kidnapping my daughter when she was sick. Julienne’s persistent dreams about her mother. Third, in each major encounter with her, the spirit Truth has made an appearance. Fourth, Truth appears to have some linkage to the Veneaux family and by extension to my wife and daughter.

So what can I do about any of this? In short, I need more information. I need to understand the nature of Truth and how it ties into the Veneaux family. I need to learn how Camille died, and what involvement she personally had with Truth. I also should figure out what is motivating her now, what she wants as a ghost. If I can put the pieces together I might just be able to fix all of this.

Of course it is not enough that I need to solve my own problem. Pascal Rocheaux shows every sign of being similarly haunted by his dead wife. Pascal is encountering early signs very similar to what I encountered with Camille. Objects being left places, glimpses out of the corner of his eyes. He believes it might be some sort of sick joke, but I have seen too much to believe the easy explanation. Given the circumstances of his wife’s death, she is almost a ghost and not some more corporeal form. Which means that we must work together to understand her state of mind and decisions before her death. I will not let Pascal down.

The Malefic are a puzzle to be solved, and if there is one thing I am good at, it is puzzles. With the right help I can solve this. Or at least I pray that I can before something tragic happens.

Treading Water

There comes a point where you stop treading water and you just resolve yourself to sinking. The weight of the sword on your hip and the thousand squabbles pull you below the surface. For the briefest moment you hesitate, you consider just not anymore. Your head slowly slips below the water and the noise stops.
In actuality the noise continues it’s just muffled and this is all just some shitty metaphor I’ve attempted to spin myself while laying listening to Alphonse snore.

I don’t have any answers for any of our problems and I have reached the point where, if I am being honest, I don’t want to have the answers to these problems. I don’t want anyone to say the words, ‘Cadence what do I do?’ Because in the words of Isabel, there are no good solutions. Would you like blue shit or purple shit? It’s still shit but I can certainly choose the color for you.

No! The sword doesn’t have answers either! I don’t just march step to some dead person in a talking sword. Has it led me astray so far? No. But you never really know who’s voice is in your head and I wasn’t born yesterday. And that hunk of metal has zero answers, it literally said, I don’t know what you should do.

I drew my lines in the sand and passed the torch to Isabel… and I feel immense guilt. I know she doesn’t have answers either but I just can’t anymore. I am not a priest, I’m not a spiritual leader, I am the sword hand of the church and for the briefest moment I resigned myself to only that. I do not have a solution that isn’t death. Ours, theirs, hers, its. And everything but my own death doesn’t feel righteous. It feels… I don’t know… fucking awful?

I am filled with anger and frustration. I’m tired of broken promises and compromises. I am tired of being the better person.

I am so, tired. And I’ve realized, when I am tired, the façade falls away and all that’s left is immense hatred.

So I sit and imagine my head sinking beneath the water. Letting the water fill my lungs with nothing left to worry about… until I see Isabel’s tears. Feel Marinette’s head on my shoulder.

I kick and gasp for air above the water.

Apart Together [Marinette, Game 6]

[They lied. They wouldn’t even apologize.]

Marinette reminded herself that this market went well, over and over again, as her hands shook. The community stood together, they worked together, and even though all the compromise seemed one-sided, it was still good. Nobody broke apart.

She shuddered to think about all the things that had happened.


That elf had walked up beside her, taunted everyone in the clearing, and then he had killed the human following him.. Right in front of her. Nobody had moved fast enough–even her scream did nothing to persuade it.

If she had known all the details. Why didn’t they tell her he was going to be here with ‘food’; why didn’t they tell her what this would look like? She would have tried to stop it. She would have been faster to interfere.

Granny Jo had promised not to offer it honey, not to make a deal with it. That’s exactly what Etienne did, when the danger presented itself. He told him that they would praise him. Hold a feast in its honor.

And when Marinette had told them they had hurt her when they went back on their promises, neither Etienne nor Granny Jo apologized–only Isabel.


[They’ll take advantage. They lie. They don’t care.]

Her faith was.. Shaken. Not in God, but in people. She had asked them to close the distance so many times, and they still kept secrets. They still mistrusted one another. They still ignored one another.


‘You can sway everyone with your tears, but you shouldn’t.’

Those words from Cole made Marinette raise her voice. “She’s not crying to sway people!”

She shouldn’t have done that. Isabel calmed her immediately, tried to talk to Cole–and then Henri came over. At first, Marinette thought this would bring the tensions down, but Cole began to growl at him. She raised her voice and got more and more angry, and Henri… and Henri wasn’t helping. Not like Marinette expected of him–not the way she knew he always did. He snapped back at Cole. She stormed away.

Theo approached, and asked for an apology. Henri wouldn’t budge. Marinette thought it was reasonable–acknowledging pain and apologizing for pain–but nobody budged. Nobody moved.

They just got.. angrier.


These tiny stories and snippets ran through her head.


“Hello. Have we met?”

“Hugo! Take him out!”

“This city would burn if your mists came down.”


Marinette shuddered at the thought of all of the bad she had seen. All of the mistakes she had witnessed. All of the callous, self-righteous actions… but there were other things, too.


She was sitting in a room–with a bunch of her community. With Granny Jo, and Isabel, and Etienne, and Lysenna, and they were talking. They were making plans, and arrangements, and including one another.

When Isabel came to Etienne for understanding, he had agreed immediately. He had sought to protect her, to acknowledge her–he’d taken her seriously. There was no malice.

When Granny Jo had thought we had compromised too much, in that back room–even if she changed her mind–she’d said that she’d stand with us.


Everyone was trying their best.

Henri was scared.

Cole was coming from a place of protection for her community.

Granny Jo was trying to balance faith and trust.

Etienne had acted out of a need to save the people around him–to rescue his community. All of them.

That thing had killed someone, casually, in front of all of us. Was there a way to make everyone agree? No. That would be impossible.

[But people aren’t safe, you know. That bandit woman killed her brother. Her own flesh and blood–cut down for her survival.]

Marinette wished time would slow down. She was so… scared. Pierre would never. She would never. Cadence and Henri and Isabel and Lysenna would never. Tiphaine…

Tiphaine cleared her thoughts.

Tiphaine is scared always. Tiphaine will run from anything. But when Marinette volunteered again to walk to the slaughterhouse for her community, Tiphaine had volunteered to take her place.

Tiphaine, shaking and afraid. Not brave. Not stalwart. She knew not what would happen, but she… volunteered anyway.

My community would not cut me down to save themselves.

If I am slow, they will pick me up. If I stumble, they will grab me. If I scream, they will run to me. Gerard would stand in front of me. Bretta would shield me. Isabel would wrap herself around me. Lysenna would pull me up and tell them nobody was allowed to touch me.

Even Alphonse would not let his community be harmed. Even Theo would stand. Etienne and Hugo and Granny Jo–all of them would do their best.

… No, my community would not cut me down.

They would not cut any of us down.

… And anyone who thought otherwise was a fool.

Snippets from a former bandit

Milo steps backwards as the werewolves claws swing downard. It cuts the hem of their cloak. Just a bit, nothing that can’t be repaired. Better than it hitting their chest. As their backfoot lands they spring forward, lashing out with their knives. It’s the wolfs turn to back away now, leaping away as Milo advances. It’s learned not to let them close, choosing instead to draw them away from their group and let the other two werewolves flank. It’s too dark for Milo to see clearly but they can hear the sounds of paws in the grass to their left. They cease their attack and begin backing away, daggers at their sides. The would be flankers advance on them now, but Milo is well out of their reach.

Henri pleads with Milo to pull back, but they can’t until the others are back in town. Henri won’t fight, but won’t be attacked. Alphonse hasn’t studied his grimoire yet, so he’s casting at a disadvantage while his book is out.

Milo leaps away from another claw, tumbling across the grass. Their breath returns to them as they stand, daggers ready, “I’ll cover their retreat if it kills me.”


Dinner is being served and the town is eating happily. Milo has just filled them in on their strategy for killing werewolves. Cadence says they shouldn’t kill the werewolves. That they used to be people. Milo frowns. “I don’t care. If a human was trying to hurt me or my family I’d kill them. Hell, if Roger, or Hugo, or anyone else in town tried to kill my family, I’d kill them. Nobody hurts my family. Least of all some shitty dog-people.”


Milo clutches their overgrown rat to their chest, the smell of soap on her fur. Maizy breathes softly, her nose tickling at their hand. This is the first market that Milo has brought her to since they found her almost a year ago now, and they’re glad they did. Henri was threatened by an elf. Apparently the elf wants to destroy humanity. Cadence is real mad now. They’re not good at reading expressions but they can tell that much. Cadence doesn’t threaten to kill as lightly as them, but she’s doing it now. Milo shivers and pulls Maizy closer.


Milo hears a call for help and they’re running before they realize it. Their gloves are on their hands, their knives are out. Hive Zombies. They pull their collar up over their nose and pull their hood down to their brow. The bodies aren’t dangerous, but the bees piloting them are. They sprint forward, knife at their side to cut the body as they pass under it’s wide swing. A small swarm spills out and pursues them in retaliation and they show it their back. As the bees begin to land on them they roll forward and squash them, or at least most of them. The body is still up, but Roger’s spear pierces it and it falls down. As more bees spill out there’s a call from deeper in the woods. Milo locks eyes with Roger through the swarm. They both rush into the woods.


Milo stands next to Leo as his nephew prattles on. The child seems to think that bandits are cool. They feel their heart race with anger. Stupid kid. Their mind flashes back to their first few months with their bandit crew, to all the cuts and scrapes and beatings and stab wounds and hardship and abuse and-

“Could you show him for me?” Leo’s voice interrupts. Milo looks at him in confusion and then at his nephew, holding Leo’s sword. Leo leans in and whispers, “Just knock it out of his hands.” Milo draws a knife and steps forward. They feel their hands aiming for his hip, something that will hurt but be easy enough to bandage. Probably put the kid off of his feet for the rest of the day so he has time to think about whether being a bandit is worth being stabbed or not. But they know Cadence wouldn’t approve. Cadence adopts children, she doesn’t stab them.

With a flash they knock the knife from the childs hand.

“Were you a bandit like my uncle?”

“Yeah, I was. But then I stopped and came here.”

“What do you do now?”

“I kill bandits.”


Milo withdraws their knife from some bandit’s ribcage. These ones are all crazy. They don’t speak, they don’t really listen, they just look for vulnerable targets to kill. Milo tried to give this one a chance like Cadence said, but the moment he saw Marinettes back he charged her. So now he was laying on the ground, bleeding out, while Milo stood over him. Bless her heart, Marinette was kneeling next to him and applying pressure to his wound. Milo began looking around, checking to see if Cadence needed any help with the one she was fighting, but of course she was fine. It was nice to have family that could take care of themse-

There’s a bloody scream near him as the bloody bandit catches his second wind. He starts swinging his weapons (why hadn’t milo thought to take those away from him?) at the girl trying to save his life. Milo kneels, traps the weapons with their first knife, and thrusts their other into his chest. One in the gut. One in the heart. Marinette gasps.

“Milo…. You killed him.” Her eyes are wide. Is that shock? Disgust? Fear? Milo was never good at reading expressions.

“If anyone tries to hurt me or my family, I’ll kill them.” They respond, “He tried, so I killed him… I’m sorry.”


Milo is sitting just outside their cabin relaxing with Maizy in their hood when they hear someone say Marinette is being attacked. They’re off like a shot, slipping their gloves on and drawing their knives as they cross the bridge. Two big green things with huge weapons. Are these trolls? Marinette stands behind one, trying to back away without going too far. Milo can hear footfalls on the bridge behind them and Roger’s voice say “You get Marinette, I’ll distract the monster.” Milo chafes at being told what to do for only a moment before sprinting at the troll and tumbling past it. Roger engages the toll with his spear as Milo checks up on Marinette. No injuries, thankfully.

Marinette manages to make it back to town and Milo and Roger together are able to take down the troll, though it’s a tough fight. Luckily other people had arrived to deal with the other one, because fighting two at once would’ve been a hassle. Milo notes the swords it was wielding. One looked like sharp trash, but the other seemed pretty nice. Fabron would probably like those. Milo lifts them and hands them off to Hadrien as they hear soft squeaking come from their hood.

“Maizy! Oh no, I forgot you were there!” they exclaim, reaching a hand behind their head to feel her tucked into his hood. Her claws are dug into their mantle, but she managed to hang on throughout all their tumbles and cartwheels. Milo smiles, purse lipped and worried. There’s another troll in the woods, and the others will probably need Milo’s help. “We’ll have to make this work. Hold on, okay?”


Milo curls up on the forest floor, thankful for their cloak that blends into the night around them. They can still feel the last whisps of Magic as it adjusts their thoughts, rewiring their beliefs. Alphonse has explained this spell to them before, they think. It binds the recipient to a promise. In this case one that Milo is angry at themself for making. Could they keep it? Are they willing to accept the magically encouraged mental anguish that would come with breaking it? They wish tears would come, but they don’t. The shock doesn’t fade to despair, but to a stark resolution. Milo sits up and takes a breath.

“I’ll kill anyone who threatens my family. Even myself.”


Milo sits against a wall, surrounded by rats and spiders in the depths of what they’re quickly beginning to suspect is one of Chiropolers body cavities. The multicolored lights have faded. Only the dull glow of ghostly light remains. A voice comes to them. It’s their father. The one they didn’t get to choose. Milo can’t bear to listen, but sits quietly while he lists off their sins and ridicules their worst traits. They wish they could deny them, but they can’t. Instead they do what they know. They stand, they cuss, but for some reason they don’t joke. Perhaps the jokes have been beaten out of them.

“Fuck off, old man. That old bitch killed herself. I’m learning how to fix my mistakes. S’More than you ever did.”

The light fades. They’re alone again. Until the fucking bone spider shows up.


Milo walks back into the woods as the Market comes to an end. They have so much studying to do, their head was already starting to hurt. Their report on the Leshen is finished finally, but now they have even more to work on. Bog Ghasts to start. Then those Bee Corpses. They also want to get a report on that Rocheaux ghost, but they’ll need to collect more information on it first. A large sigh escapes them as the weight of it settles. A year ago they were a dirt poor, near naked, shit-headed bandit wandering into town. Now they are considerably less poor, and much more clothed… But they still feel like a shit-head bandit. One that was way out of their depth.

Maybe that’s okay, though. Maybe part of growing is just looking at things way above your head and reaching until you get there, then finding the next thing. Maybe you’re supposed to always feel a little out of your depth. A little weary, a little battered. Maybe sometimes it’s more than a little. Maybe so long as Milo has the family they chose for themself, they can ascend to the station required of them. And maybe they can help their family do the same.