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WALTZ FOR A BLISTERED FLOWER Diethelm, a Count of House Drac, is famed as the "Count of the Brilliant Flower." Upon this night, in his castle, a ball to celebrate the restoration of his domain has been decreed. For it has scarcely been a year since an Incinerator laid waste to that land, and after the beast was subjugated, it was through Diethelm's tireless efforts that the domain was swiftly restored to its former prosperity. He is the savior of the people, and indeed, the very land itself. The Head of House Drac herself, and many other eminent personages, have been invited to the ball. You yourself have been so invited. On the cusp of this glorious millenium, the curtain rises upon its final ball... * Drac One of the Six Princely Houses, their noble lineage alone privileged to bear the name of the Ancestor himself. * Incinerators Mighty monsters born of fragments of the dreaded Sun. Though the Ancestor destroyed the Sun, it seeks to resurrect itself, and its fragments are the most formidable foe of the knights. PRE-PLAY Dracul: Welcome, knights, to the glorious stage of the Everdark! Player A: Wow, you're already all fired up, game master. Player B: Come to think of it, we're supposed to call the game master 'Dracul' in this game, aren't we? Dracul: Thanks for remembering (laughs.) Yes, I'll be running the game this time around. Leave it to me. Everyone: You got it! * Dracul Our great Ancestor, who gazes down upon us from the red moon above, bearing witness to the legend of the knights. In other games known as the Game Master. Dracul: Since we're playing online, if anyone has questions about how to roll the dice or about anything else, don't hesitate to ask. Player C: Okay. I think I'll be fine, though. Dracul: To summarize it briefly, this game takes place in a fantasy world in which it is eternally night. It is the story of the adventures of the noble undead knights within this world. Player B: Are they vampires? Dracul: Indeed. However, as the player characters are knights, they are under a vow to control their dark impulses. Many of the enemies you will fight are those who lost control of themselves and transformed into monsters. Player A: So vampires who conduct themselves as humans would, in accordance with the laws of chivalry. Dracul: That's the general idea, but these vampires don't just think of themselves as glorious and noble, they are glorious and noble. Player C: I guess "glorious" and "noble" are the keywords of this game. Player B: Just like Takarazuka, huh. Player A: No, I'd say that's more like 'glamorous.' Dracul: Glamour is quite welcome as well. The knights possess glamour that mere humans could never equal. Player B: So a word from them is enough to make you swoon... Player A: And their gaze shall cause your heart to race... Dracul: Yes, like that (laughs.) Now, since they are vampires, they have two weaknesses. The first is the light of the sun, the same weakness as trolls and other undead have. Player C: That's kind of a pointless weakness in a world of eternal night, though... * Eternal Night The great ancestor Dracul destroyed the sun, and ever since the land has been illuminated only by the light of the moon. * Vampires The name by which knights were known when the Sun still existed. It had long since fallen out of common use, and is considered an old-fashioned insult that is rarely heard. * Trolls and undead Though they differ slightly from their portrayal in typical fantasy, these creatures exist in the Everdark as well. If Dracul wills it, you shall learn more during the course of your story. Player B: Oh, so there are monsters in this word as well. It really is fantasy. Dracul: It generally takes after Celtic and Northern European myth, as well as the legend of King Arthur. There are also fairies. Player C: Hmm, hmm. Player A: Definitely fantasy. But fairies and vampires, together... that's an uncommon combination, to be sure. Dracul: They're both mystical and beautiful, so don't they go together? Though there are exceptions (laughs.) Player B: So I might be jumping to conclusions here, but do knights not need to suck blood? Dracul: That's related to their other weakness. They suffer from Thirst, and require Warmth to assuage it, but they don't have to get it by sucking blood. It's an affliction of the spirit. Player C: An affliction of the spirit... you mean like an emotional dependency? Dracul: Yes. In keeping with their grace and nobility, they sate their thirst with the love and respect they receive from others. Player B: So working backwards from that, it's loneliness that causes thirst in the first place. Player A: When I think about it, I can see how that still makes them vampires. Even though they don't suck blood. They have a sort of gauge they need to keep full... Dracul: Yes. And they do that with a kiss. Player B: A kiss!!! Player C: What a reaction (laughs.) Dracul: Naturally, an elegant one. Much like how a knight might kneel and kiss the hand of a lady. Player A: Ah, that's certainly what a knight would do. * Sucking blood This is considered a barbaric deed performed only by the fallen. Knights do not engage in it. The kiss and the embrace provide enough warmth for them. * Thirst and Warmth These will be described in further detail during the course of the replay. * Kiss A sweet one. Dracul: Affection in this land is expressed with kisses and embraces. They convey spiritual warmth in a way as potent as flowing blood itself. Player B: So, no need to bite anyone's neck? Dracul: That goes beyond affection, so you certainly can't do it in front of others. I guess you'd call it passion... Player B: A kiss!!! Player A: You're really taken with this, huh. Dracul: As I mentioned before, kisses and embraces create a bond that infuses you with warmth. Within the game, this bond is known as a Rouge. Player C: French. How elegant. Dracul: When one fulfills a Rouge towards any target, it becomes warmth. The power of Warmth is that it can be spent to erase Thirst. Player A: It really is a gauge! Dracul: A fitting description, yes. Now, there are also bonds that infuse you with thirst, known as Noir. They occur when one hurts or dirsurbs you. Player B: It's all linked to emotions, huh. Dracul: Yes. Knights are undead, but as their Thirst builds, they run the risk of Falling and turning into monsters. Player C: A fall from grace... Player A: Now Mister C's taken with this. Dracul: That's one of the lose conditions for PCs, so please be careful (laughs.) * Rouge Just as the moist, red blood of life sated their thirst in a bygone dark age, knights cannot do without Rouge. By gaining five points of Rouge, they can transform it into a point of Warmth. * Noir Hatred is black, just as is Noir. Bearing such feelings within your heart is what gives rise to Thirst. Should one gain five points of Noir, it will transform into a point of Thirst. * Fall from Grace When a noble knight forgets their sense of justice and is lead down a dark path by their emotions. The tales of the Everdark tell of many such knights who have fallen, becoming twisted and unrecognizable. Player B: So anyway, Rouge and Noir can be thought of as Plus and Minus. Dracul: That's right. Now, since this is your first time playing, review the rules one more time and look at the handouts I gave you, then we'll get started. Dracurouge is played as follows. The beginning of the scenario is known as Pre-Play. This includes creating PCs, if necessary, and other preparation. The scenario proper, or Main Play, is divided into units known as Scenes. It begins with the Prologue, followed by a repeating series of Social Scenes and Combat Scenes which in combination compose the Main Act. The climax of play is the Final Act, and then an Epilogue concludes the story. The number of Scenes should be tailored to match the desired length of play. The Prologue consists of the PCs introducing themselves and Dracul explaining the premise of the story. Social Scenes and Combat Scenes make up the bulk of the scenario. They are 2 rounds in length, and during each round, the PCs all take Actions that the narrative is built around. Each type of Scene (Social and Combat, respectively) has Actions that can be performed only during that Scene. The Final Act generally involves the PCs facing a powerful foe that must be defeated in order to conclude the story. All Actions are available for use during this special Scene. All three types of scenes are followed by an Intermission, during which the PCs can strengthen their Bonds. Finally, the Epilogue tells of their ultimate fate. After Main Play is open, Post-Play begins. Having learned from their experience, the PCs can strengthen themselves or alter their tactics. Using this theatrical structure, everyone can have an enjoyable game together. (Skipped the notes here, they seem pretty pointless) HANDOUTS As all the players were unfamiliar with the setting, Dracul gave out handouts to serve as the foundation of their character ideas. It's up to your Dracul whether they want to do this or allow you to create characters from scratch. PC 1 Recommended Paths: Lord or Sage Lasting Bond: Trust of Diethelm You have long had a friendly relationship with Count Diethelm, the host of this ball. The root of this relationship is that your mother was one of the Count's attendants. She waited upon the Count since he was but a young boy... and now, he has governed this land of Reichenbachfall adeptly for over a thousand years. Soon it is time for the traditional change of the head of House Drac, and with his eye upon that lofty aim, the Count has arranged this grand ball to make his name known wide and far. Still, in all your years of acquaintance, you never knew the Count to have such ambition. But despite that, he has been your mentor since the days of your accolade, and you look forward to meeting him once again. PC 2 Recommended Paths: guard or Nightbeast Lasting Bond: Loyalty to Wahrheit You are a knight that serves PC 1. This is due to an arrangement with Princess Wahrheit, Head of House Drac. You think of her as a patron of yours - almost a second lord. That she has confidence in you as well is a source of great pride for you. At this ball, you shall be serving as a bodyguard for your lord, and thus you are invited as well. Amidst the chaos of the changing head of the House, you hope to repay your debt to the Princess. PC 3 Recommended Paths: Pilgrim or Hunter Lasting Bond: Friend of Paula You are one of the knights that met the Fragment of the Sun in battle upon the Brillian Flower's domain, and were victorious over it. Though it was a fierce battle that claimed many victims, you survived, and were honored as a great warrior. You were pulled from amidst the ash and rubble on that scorched plain of death by a commoner girl. She was invited to serve as an attendant of the Count's, and you have visited each other many time since. Her name is Paula, and you feel from the bottom of your heart that you owe your life to her. As one of the heroes who destroyed the dread Incinerator, you were naturally invited to this ball. Dracul: And that's how the flow of the session goes. Today we'll be keeping things relatively short. Player A: The prologue, the main story, the climax, the epilogue... those are the main divisions. I've got it. Dracul: Now, please choose the handout that you like best. If you choose one you like, it'll be easy to create a PC. Player B: I want to kneel and kiss the hand of the Princess, so I'll be PC 2! Player C: Still focused on that, are you (laughs.) Dracul: Now who's going to be the lord whose hand she kisses? Player C: Hmm, I'm not sure which I prefer... Player A: Which one would be more troublesome if they fell, I'll play them so you can't... hmm... probably the lord, so PC 1! Dracul: No, please leave the falling to the NPCs to do. (sweating) Player A: Heheh, either way, I'll be a lovely lady. Player B: That means I'll be kissing you as well. Dracul: You'll get to kiss plenty of people, so relax! Player C: I can relax, all right (laughs.) Then I guess I'll be the wandering hero, PC 3. Player A: This session feels like it's going to have a lot of Rouge in it! Dracul: Well, it is a fundamental aspect of the setting. Anyway, let's make your characters! Player B: Uh, so the first thing to do is choose our personal history. How we came by our knighthood and all that. Dracul: In medieval times, the ceremony of raising a commoner to a knight was called an accolade, and it's the same in the Everdark. Please look at the three tables and choose your PC's history. Player C: What happened before your first kiss, when the kiss happened, and what happened after the kiss. Dracul: Well, that's not entirely inaccurate. Player A: I hope I roll something fitting for a lady. The players roll the dice for the three personal history tables. Player A: I got "Adopted by a Knight" for Origin, "Asked for It" for Accolade, and "Conferred an Accolade" for Career. What a wild life! Player B: Wow, you got the knight who adopted you to make you a knight in turn. Dracul: Next, roll to find out the age at which you received your accolade. This is how old you appear to be, now and forever. Player A: (rolls)... I asked to be knighted at age 8! Player C: You must've been precocious! (laughs) Dracul: I'm sure her caretaker's love for her was pure when they bestowed upon her the gift of eternity. Next up, the Career table also contains a die roll which will tell you how many years you have served as a knight. * Making characters The PCs made by the three players here were included as the sample characters for their respective Houses. * Table During character creation, each player can roll on the personal history tables as shown in this replay. However, they are not bound by the results. If they dislike the outcome of their rolls, they can roll again or just choose entries they like from the tables. Use whatever method you find easiest. Player A: (rolls) I've been a knight for 180 years. Player B: Wow, that's long. You look like a child, but you're almost two centuries old. Player C: 200 years old, and adopted... now that's a proper Lolita character. Dracul: (ignoring Player C) Alright, B, you're next. Player B: Got it. (rolls) ...Hmm. "Orphan," "In my Bedroom at Night," and "The Joy of Bloodshed." That's kind of a creepy history. Player A: (fidgeting) Player B: Whew. I received my accolade at the perfectly safe age of 18. Dracul: You mean your first kiss!... Only a knight for 25, huh? Player C: She's no lolita, but she hasn't even lived half as long. Player B: So I'm an orphan... I guess I lost my family early and was raised without much affection. Player A: By distant relatives you were never really close to, maybe. Player B: Then, upon a certain night, I suddenly had a visitor, who gave me a great gift... Dracul: Are you telling us the story of your first kiss?! Player B: That's right (laughs.) As she's an orphan, she's not very good at interacting with people, but she's devoted. Player C: So that's how she ended up as a vassal... I can see how she impressed the Head of House Drac. Player B: I see her and PC1 as sort of patrons.* Player A: ...Come to think of it, I rolled "Conferred an Accolade." Perhaps the knight whom I conferred an accolade upon was lost, and because I was heartbroken, the Head asked PC 2 to enter my service. Player B: Oh, that sounds good. ...Somehow it feels like I'm your rebound, but I'm sure it's just my imagination. * Bedroom Nothing indecent is meant by this. Do not doubt the purity of the noble knights. * Hasn't even lived half as long Knights are immortal and do not age from the day they receive their accolade. As the months and years pass, they remain unchanging. * Upon a certain night Although technically the Everdark does not have 'nights', day and night are used as a measurement of time, their former meaning long forgotten. * Lost As Knights are immortal, when a knight is 'lost' it refers either to their destruction by a Fragment of the Sun, or that they fell and were permanently transformed into a monster. The next step is for the players to choose the mechanical details of their characters. Dracul: What kind of image do you have of "The Joy of Bloodshed?" Player B: Honestly, it makes me feel like an edgy teenager. Player C: I agree (laughs.) Dracul: Nothing wrong with that. It'll be easy to roleplay your Thirst that way. Player C: Well, I chose "Handsome" for my Origin, "Hero of Prophecy" for my Accolade, and "Incorrigible Flirt" for my Career. I received my accolade at age 20, and I've been a knight for 30 years. Player A: We're all beautiful! Player C: And just as was prophesied, you defeated the Fragment of the Sun. Player B: As for the "Incorrigible Flirt" part, I don't think that needs further explanation. (laughs) I thought it'd be fun to have a sharp contrast in my personality. Dracul: No one chose anything really dark, huh. Player C: Well, we always have you for that, Dracul. Player B: Next we'll be choosing our Houses, right? Player A: It seems like a pretty important aspect of your character. Dracul: It certainly is. Your House is not just your family; you are bound together by blood and history, a living history that exists not only within the tomes of Dustheim, but throughout the Land of the Everdark. Player A: Avaloma, the house that's close to the fairies, seems interesting... but a noble lady like me has to belong to House Drac! The Princess and the host of the ball are both of House Drac as well, after all. * Edgy teenager A good mindset to return to while you're playing this game. * Incorrigible Flirt There are many such as this amongst the knights. It is not considered unbecoming to spread your affections far and wive. * House The bloodlines started by the six Progenitors whom had accolades conferred upon them by Ancestor Dracul himself. Each of them possess unique powers. * Dustheim The oldest and wisest of the Six Princely Houses. * Avaloma The most graceful and fairy-touched of the Six Princely Houses. Player B: Since I see my PC as being unemotional, Hellsgarde's the perfect fit. She'll be kind of staid, and although she's normally cool and composed, her inner passion emerges when it's time to kiss... Player C: Is it a choice you can make just based on personality? Well, then, my PC seems like a Rosenburg. I like their backstory, too. Dracul: ...You guys sure solidified your image of your PCs fast (sweating.) Let's move on and choose your Paths. These express your role as a Knight. Player A: I'm a Lord. Player B: I'm a guard. Player C: I'm jealous of your ability to decide so quickly (laughs.) Well, I'll go with Pilgrim. I'm the wandering hero, after all. Dracul: Pretty much the same image you had when you first picked your handouts, huh? Well, the next step is to choose your Renown. This represents the deed or characteristic you are most known for. Player A: I want the Exemplum "The master must know what it is to serve," from the 'Grace' Renown. Player B: Did you choose that just because it lets you put on airs? Player A: Of course (without hesitation.) Player B: Just how noble do you want to be?! Ah, I'll go with "I shall protect my liege without concern for myself." Dracul: A model knight, aren't you? Player B: No, I'm going for a kuudere kind of attitude. Player C: I'll choose mine based on the handout and pick "I shall not retreat one step from the Fragments of the Sun." Dracul: The Fragments of the Sun, just like their name implies, are the pieces of the Sun after Dracul shattered it. They manifest as giant monsters composed of flame, and their light is one of the few things that can destroy Knights. * Hellsgarde The stalwart Princely House in charge of protecting Hell. * Rosenburg The newest of the Princely Houses, known for their love of beauty. * Path One's way of life as a Knight. Upholding this way will prevent them from succumbing to the Fall. * Renown One's greatest source of pride as a Knight. It is natural for every knight to possess an ideal. * "The master must know what it is like to serve" An Exemplum of the "Grace" Renown, expressing that you were once the personal attendant of one of the Princes themselves. Player C: Wow, I'm pretty awesome for not running away from them. Player A: That doesn't seem like such a great thing to take pride in (laughs.) Dracul: The next step is to choose a nickname. You can roll on the D66 table for them divided up by your Renown. But since it doesn't have any mechanical effects, it's fine if you just make up one on your own, too. Player B: Hmm. Player C: Then, since I'm a Rosenburg, and a knight withstanding the light of the sun feels kind of like a rose's bloom lasting into winter, I shall be the Knight of the Winter Rose. Player A: Wow, you came up with that fast! (laughs) Dracul: Sounds good to me. It's easy to come up with a name when you have a solid image of your character like that. Player B: Wise words from the creator! Um... can I decide later, though? Dracul: Sure. (laughs) Player A: I have a decent image of my character, but I feel like it might be better to choose when I know what I'm capable of. Dracul: Got it. Player C: Next up is our Actions, right? I guess they're what you would call "skills" in a lot of other games. Player B: This seems like the hardest choice in the character creation process. Dracul: You can choose any of the Branches of your House, or the Crests of your Path. If you don't have any skills you particularly want, just choose whatever sounds cool. Player C: Including the Basic Actions... we'll all have 12 actions in total. * "I shall protect my liege without concern for myself." An Exemplum of the "Loyalty" Renown, expressing that you are prepared to be a living shield for your liege. * "I shall not retreat one step from the Fragments of the Sun." An Exemplum of the "Courage" Renown, expressing that you have faced the terrifying Fragments of the Sun with bravery. * D66 * According to your image Two or three words describing your character, plus the word "Knight," will do nicely. * Actions Skills or abilities you can use during gameplay. These are divided into the Basic Actions that everyone possesses, as well as extra actions granted to you by your choice of Branch and Crest. While conversing excitedly, the players choose their abilities. They gradually decide what they want their characters to be capable of, with advice from Dracul. Making sure that everyone will find their characters fun to play is the besst way to ensure the session goes smoothly. Dracul: Alright, now let's put together your Arms. Player A: Wow, we have coats of arms? That's really knightly! Dracul: Use the three motifs supplied by your Branch, your Crest, and your Exemplum to assemble a coat of arms for yourself. Player B: Iron bars, lily, cup! Player C: Rose, a bird's wings, and the sun. I see, so a knight's arms repesent the type of knight they are. Player A: A dragon rampant, a stone wall, and an embroidered sash. That brings to mind a wall with a dragon tapestry on it, like in a medieval castle. Dracul: Write down the design when you settle on it. The colors can be anything you'd like. The players once again have fun chatting about their design. While there's no need to spend a lot of time on this, it's something that will once again help players get into their PCs. Though you can imagine any design you'd like, consider using the ones in this book for reference. Player C: Alright, the only thing left is the remaining personal data. Like hair and eye color, and personality quirks. Dracul: Like the rest of these tables, you can roll the dice or just choose something you like. Player A: There's a table for names too, huh. Dracul: Yep. By the way, your middle name will be the name of the knight who conferred upon you your accolade. And your proper full name ends with "von," then the name of your House. * Arms The emblem proving that you are a knight. It contains symbols emblematic of your House and your Actions. * Sun The most dreaded enemy of the knights. Despite this, it occasionally appears upon their crests, symbolic of the will to see it destroyed. * Embroidered sash This is not a symbol upon the emblem, but refers to the emblem's typical method of display. Player B: Can we come up with something on our own, like with the nicknames? Dracul: Sure, but only if I approve of it. Something like a Japanese name doesn't really work in this setting. Player C: Wow, and I was seriously considering the name "Hanako" here. Player A: How come that's the first Japanese name you thought of? (laughs) I think I'll roll on the table. Player C: Me too... and that settles it. Dracul: Alright. Let's start the Prologue! = PROLOGUE = Dracul: (looking at the notes) Let's start with self-introductions, then I'll give you your Lasting Bonds. After that, I'll answer any questions you have. Player C: I wonder if all the Lasting Bonds will be Rouge. Dracul: They usually are. But sometimes they're Noir, too. Player A: I'll introduce myself first! I am Imelda Martha Mordrake von Drac. Though I may look youthful, I am a venerable Lady. Player B: You'd better be wearing a frilly dress, then! * Martha Imelda's middle name, Martha, is the name of the knight who conferred her accolade upon her. This is typical of knights. Player A (henceforth Imelda): I shall be changing my manner of speech from now on. I am known as the Knight of the Dragon Banner. The Dragon Banner is the standard of the Princess of Drac. This is symbolic of both my arms and my Renown. Dracul: I see. So it demonstrates your lofty role in the court of House Drac. Imelda: My eyes are red, like the moon. My hair is ash-white, akin to the pallor of a corpse. And I look down upon others. I am a majestic lady, despite my appearance. Player C: You look down upon people? Dracul: Given her height, it has to be metaphorical. Imelda: Oh, I won't look down upon you in the typical manner. But when you kneel to kiss my hand, don't expect me to meet your eyes. Player B: Understood. The one whom my lady looks down upon so is... no, no. I am a lady knight of House Hellsgarde, Liselle Bergen von Hellsgarde. I shall be in your care. Dracul: A guard knight who was invited by Princess Wahrheit herself, and whom now has the trust of Lady Imelda. Is that right? * Banner Imelda: Do you have my trust, now? Player B (henceforth Liselle): Allow me to answer that with my body. Ah, my nickname is the Knight of the Iron Cage. My crest has iron bars upon it, and I also once saw myself as a bird within a cage, always alone. Dracul: And then, beneath the light of the red moon, she was at last freed from the cage of her loneliness. Imelda: What a lovely image. Ah, but you're mine right now, so I'll keep you in a cage if I want to. Player C: By the way, are you all right with being apart from the knight who conferred your accolade? Liselle: I am. I was not content to rely upon them forever, and knew I must rise to become a worthy knight in my own stead. Imelda: A worthy knight in my own bed. Liselle: In terms of aesthetics, I have violet eyes from which you can feel their magic, and hair that is a proud gold. Player C: Just be reading that the sentence is about aesthetics, you can feel its aesthetic sense. (laughs) Liselle: I have smooth white skin... and, apparently, brown skin as well. I'll change that to something befitting of a guard: a commanding, no-nonsense demeanor. Imelda: Until she sees an opportunity to kiss you. Liselle: Such is the love I bear towards my liege. Imelda: What a hopeless girl. ...Ah, I didn't finish introducing myself! My Lasting Bond is towards Count Diethelm, who is holding tonight's ball. Dracul: After all, your mother was his servant, so you have a deep connection. Imelda: Indeed, but since I was adopted by a knight, I never knew my mother directly. It was 180 years ago, after all... Liselle: Ah... that truly was the past. * Cage There are birds in the Land of the Everdark as well. The songs of nightbirds are beloved, and there are those who ply the trade of catching them. * I'll change that You can always change any roll you make upon a table during character creation, whether because you don't like it or because it seems to contradict other aspects of your character. Player C: Relationships between the mortal and the immortal must be a sad thing. How cruel the passage of time is. That aside, before you stands the wandering Knight of the Winter Rose, Florian Neurath von Rosenburg. Liselle: Wow, you sound like a fop from the very first word. Player C (henceforth Florian) Thank you for the compliment (laughs). My eyes are as blue as sapphires, and my hair is a noble silver. Imelda: All handsome men must have silver hair, after all. Dracul: Oh, I know that rule. (laughs) Florian: Well, I certainly am handsome. My visage looks as if it were designed by a genius sculptor, and none can tear their eyes away from my beauty. (laughs) Oh, but my voice is deep enough to make the heart tremble. Liselle: I'm not letting you have Imelda. Imelda: Fear not. You alone shall be my guard, Sir Liselle. Dracul: Ah, fealty is such a beautiful thing. What a pair you make. Imelda: She serves me in a lot more ways than just as my guard, though. Florian: Do we really need to know that? (laughs) In any case, I have quite enough fans as it is... Ah! Was Imelda's mother ever replaced? Dracul: Yes. The Count's attendant is now a certain girl by the name of Paula. Liselle: I wonder if there's something to that. Florian: Hmm... just because he saved them from that monster born of the Sun, he has rights to all the womenfolk? To protect the common people is the creed of the knights, but he's exploiting the favor earned by his deeds - no, his position as Count, really. (laughs) Liselle: Isn't it natural for someone to desire to get closer to the glorious Lord that delivered them from evil? Imelda: What airheads they are. ...Oops, I used a word Imelda wouldn't have there. "Knight of the Winter Rose" Florian Neurath von Rosenburg A pilgrim of House Rosenburg. A young and beautiful knight. Dracul: We haven't even really started and things are already a mess (laughs). Well, all knights are beautiful and splendid, so it's natural that the common folk yearn for them. Florian: We must not abuse their devotion. Even commoners have virtue that must be protected. A kiss to show their respect is all we can demand of them. * Replacement This does not mean a successor in the sense of a bloodline, but 'someone who serves in the same role.' * Airheads A fair accusation for anyone who falls in love with their liege so easily. However, keep in mind that in the Land of the Everdark, the beauty of the knights is beyond compare. It is typical that they captivate the common folk. Liselle: Wow, you're unexpectedly serious. Florian: Just what do you mean by that?! (laughs) Dracul: Well, that takes care of the self-introductions. Let's decide on our additional Lasting Bonds. Liselle: I'll take... hmm, a Rouge representing Trust towards Florian. And naturally, Loyalty towards Lady Imelda. Imelda: Ah, you don't really need to tell us "Trust" is a Rouge. It's implicit. Dracul: That's right. Just make sure you write it in the right place on your character sheet. Imelda: I feel Friendship towards Sir Liselle. And towards Florian... I Respect him for his martial deeds. Florian: I feel like I'm being idealized here. (laughs) Can I take a Noir? Dracul: Some people do start with those types of relationships. A Nightbeast already well towards their Fall, for instance... it's certainly a great source of drama. Liselle: Um, please don't plan on Falling right away. Imelda: Don't plan on falling ever! It's your duty to protect me as well! Florian: Wow, how haughty of you! Jokes aside, I feel Respect for Imelda, and Love for Liselle. Liselle: ...Love? Florian: When we first meet at this ball, I shall be smitten by your beauty. Dracul: I see, so you're using the bond to represent your first impression. Imelda: It's like a fated meeting. But don't forget Liselle belongs to me, okay? Dracul: A love triangle before we've even started Main Play... In any case, let me read the Prologue. * Implicit The nature of the emotion the Bond is based upon determines whether it is a Rouge or a Noir. * Nightbeast A Path indicative of a Knight upon the verge of falling, who already displays omens of their inner madness. = CHARACTER SHEETS = Not actually shown in the replay, but I'll insert them here. == Imelda Martha Mordrake von Drac == Arms: Sable masoned Argent, a dragon Gules segreant, a sash Gules in base. (A red dragon with wings spread on a field of black and a white wall, with a sash below.) Sex: Female Bloodline: House Drac Apparent Age: 8 Years of Service: 180 House: Drac / Branch: Dragon Segreant Path: Lord / Charge: Wall Renown: Grace / Exemplum: Embroidered Sash Hair color: The white of a corpse's pallor Eyes: As red as the moon above Features: Looks down upon people EXEMPLUM Embroided Sash / Schleife Your symbol is a sash to symbolize your close bond with one of the Princes. "The master must know what it is to serve." Gesegnet sei seine Ruhm! Er diente dem hoch geerhten Herzog persönlich! Effect: During every round of Social Scenes and the Final Act, you may reroll one die of Resistance. You can also invoke the Pips of Glory on Resistance Checks. COMBAT ACTIONS Knight's Chivalry The target gains one point of Noir. My Name Shall be Heard You gain one point of Noblesse Oblige. Merciless Crucifixion Area Realization: Until the end of your Turn, up to (Payment / 3) Stewards of your choice in the same area as the target become Wallflowers. For each Servant turned into a Wallflower by this Action, their Master gains one point of Noir. Listen To His Words The target gains one point of Rouge. The Endless Wall Border Realization: Characters of your choice that move through the target Area Border, until the end of the round, have the highest die roll of their Action Check reduced by 3. Stewards cannot move through the target Area Border. Eternal Devotion Steward Summon (4 Stewards): These stewards follow the normal rules. SOCIAL ACTIONS Rest in my Arms The target can remove one point from one of their Noir of their choice. What a Gentle Kiss You and the target both gain one point of Rouge. If you are in the Garden when you perform this Action, you and the target instead gain two points of Rouge. Unforgettable Sigh The target gains one point of Rouge. Dignified Appearance Remove one point from one of your Noir of your choice. Order of the Dragon Steward Summon (2 Stewards): At the time of their Action, you can have these Stewards inflict Rouge instead of Noir upon a target. Sweet Lingering You and the target both gain two points of Rouge. == Liselle Bergen von Hellsgarde == Arms: Gules, a lily Argent on a cup Argent, surrounded by iron bars Sable. (A white cup with a white lily in front, surrounded by black iron bars, on a red field.) Sex: Female Bloodline: House Hellsgarde Apparent Age: 18 Years of Service: 25 House: Hellsgarde / Branch: Iron Bars Path: guard / Charge: Lily Renown: Loyalty / Exemplum: Cup Hair color: A proud gold Eyes: Purple which betrays her magical nature Features: COMBAT ACTIONS Knight's Chivalry The target gains one point of Noir. My Name Shall be Heard You gain one point of Noblesse Oblige. Unfathomable Battle The target makes a Forced Move. They can choose the destination of this Move. Glorious Shield At the beginning of the next Round, you gain one extra point of Resistance. Like a Rose's Thorn The target takes 1 point of Noir. After this action has resolved, you may move to a neighboring area. The Gates of Hell Open Area Realization: Each time an Action is successfully activated in the target Area, you inflict 1 point of Rouge to a target of your choice on the stage. SOCIAL ACTIONS Rest in my Arms The target can remove one point from one of their Noir of their choice. What a Gentle Kiss You and the target both gain one point of Rouge. If you are in the Garden when you perform this Action, you and the target instead gain two points of Rouge. Words of Condemnation / Die Verdammung You and the target both gain one point of Noir. A Frozen Moment Seal Realization: The target cannot move. Noble Flower You and the target each gain one point of Rouge. On Behalf of my Master The target gains 3 Points of Rouge, and you gain one point of Noir. == Florian Neurath von Rosenburg == Arms: Argent, an eagle decapitate Gules, a rising sun radiant Gules in chief, a rose proper over all. (A rose below a red rising sun, both atop bird's wings on a silver field.) Sex: Male Bloodline: House Rosenburg Apparent Age: 20 Years of Service: 30 House: Rosenburg / Branch: Rose Path: Pilgrim / Charge: Bird's Wings Renown: Courage / Exemplum: Sun Hair color: The noblest silver Eyes: Blue, like precious sapphires Features: COMBAT ACTIONS Knight's Chivalry The target gains one point of Noir. My Name Shall be Heard You gain one point of Noblesse Oblige. SOCIAL ACTIONS Rest in my Arms The target can remove one point from one of their Noir of their choice. What a Gentle Kiss You and the target both gain one point of Rouge. If you are in the Garden when you perform this Action, you and the target instead gain two points of Rouge. Moonlight Invitation The target makes a Forced Move. After they have done so, you move to the same Area as them. = SOCIAL SCENE = Garden: Wahrheit (Presence 4) Court: Paula (Ally) Throne: Diethelm (Presence 5), guard (Ally) x 2 The ballroom is magnificent enough that it seems as if it reflects the glory of the Principality itself. And in the center, the dance has begun. As stately music plays, beautiful, elegantly dressed pairs glide across the floor. The tables that line the walls are clad in velvet. A light repast and fine wine are spread out upon them, and commoner servants wait respectfully to fulfill any request the guests may have. They gaze in rapt fascination at the knights, but that is only to be expected. Only one, the attendant Paula, seems not to be caught up into the festivities; her expression instead betrays anxiety. Perhaps she is still affected by the horror of the hateful Sun she once bore witness to. Many a bedazzling personage is in attendance at this elegant ball. Such as her. The head of House Drac, Princess Wahrheit, commands the enthralled gaze of all. And such as him. The noble Count Diethelm is the host of tonight's ball. But those no less beautiful than them are to be found among the common guests. That eternally youthful lady. Her loyal guard. And that handsome knight-errant. Like a canvas by a master painter, this occasion is filled with beauty that shall last forever. * Scene-setting As this replay is serving as an introduction to the setting of the game, it has a high amount of detail in the narration. You don't need to go to quite the same length in your own games, though you can if you wish. * Velvet The favored fabric of many a Lord of the Everdark. * Rapt fascination The common people cannot help but find themselves overcome by the beauty of the pure Knights. They are the living stuff of legend. * The hateful Sun As has been mentioned already, the Everdark is impinged upon by the Fragments of the Sun, who are the Knights' most dred enemy. They oft engender massive blazes which wreak havoc upon the common people. But blasphemy is afoot. The doors of the ballroom fly open, and a knight rushes in, prostrating himself at Princess Wahrheit's feet. As he rises to convey his missive, the hearts of the servants are set aflutter. The music has stopped. The Princess addresses the crowd. "I beg your forgiveness for interrupting this momentous occasion. There are reports of hostile maneuvers in the Dead Queen's Domain. I must respond to them personally. But none of you need be concerned. Please continue to enjoy this gathering." All those assembled breathe a sigh of relief. Only the head of the House herself had not allowed worry to despoil her countenance. Without hesitation, she had made a snap decision. Within that act lies the proof that Princess Wahrheit is worthy of her rank. Though there have been those who doubt her, the long peace which the Principality of Drac has enjoyed under her cannot be doubted. The music begins to play anew. With a twirl of her heel, the Princess herself leads the next dance. Dracul: And with that, the stage is set. Everyone: Amazing! * Dead Queen's Domain The former Principality of Nosferas, which became a cursed wasteland when its former Progenitor tragically fell. * Long peace For the hundred years of Princess Wahrheit's wise rule, few major incidents have occurred in the Principality of Drac. * Servant A character which does not take Actions, unlike PCs or NPCs. They have a Presence of 1. The most fundamental effect of a Servant is that when another character someone ends the round in the same area as that Servant, the character takes a point of Noir towards them. If the Servant has a Master, that point must instead be taken on their Noir towards the Master. Florian: So first, we need to decide whether to start in the Garden or the Court, right? Dracul: Correct. The Master, Count Diethelm, has Presence 5. Princess Wahrheit has Presence 4. And the count's guard and Paula are Allies. Liselle: If you end your turn in the same area as a Servant, and then try to leave, you take a point of Noir, don't you. Dracu: Yes. However, if it's an Ally, you take a point of Rouge instead. Imelda: That represents them doing something like complimenting you or dancing with you, I guess. Liselle: Mm. The Noir or Rouge you receive from a Servants is towards their Master, so that's Count Diethelm, right? Dracul: In the case of the guards, yes. Paula is not a Servant, though, so you'll take Rouge towards her. Florian: Hmm, hmm. I already have a Lasting Bond with her, so that should make it easy to fulfill. Dracul: If a character's Presence is decreased to 0, whether with Rouge or with Noir, they'll become a Wallflower - sort of like part of the scenery. Whenever a character other than a Steward becomes a Wallflower, you all gain one point of Warmth. Liselle: Ah, you can decrease Presence with Rouge too? Florian: Fan the flames of their desire for you so much that they can't do anything else. Dracul: Well, that's one way to view the outcome (laughs). Now, this is a normal Social Scene, so it will last two Rounds. However, due to the statement she made, Princess Wahrheit will be withdrawing at the end of the first round. Imelda: I rather wanted my reunion with Count Diethelm to be the main event, but it seems I'll have to get to the Princess in the first round if I want her. * Ally Servants not hostile to a character give them Rouge instead of Noir. * Dance * Presence Unlike PCs, NPCs do not have Rouge and Noir; whenever they would acquire a point of Rouge or Noir, their Presence instead decreases by 1. * The flames of their desire * Princess Liselle: I don't think so, but is Lady Imelda older than the Princess? Dracul: (checking the NPC list) No, not quite. The Princess both looks older and is older. She's a beautiful woman with dazzling black hair. Florian: Perhaps I'll make her acquaintance. I'll start in the Court, though, so when I move anywhere else I get a Rouge from Paula. Imelda: She's beautiful, but she looks like an ice queen. Liselle: I think she looks kind of sad, myself. Imelda: Ah, I'll start in the center of the ballroom. So I'm also in the Court. Liselle: I am Lady Imelda's guard, so I shall be at her side. Dracul: Got it. The first round is beginning, so now is the time for Noblesse Oblige. I shall award an Applause Point to each of you. Florian: Hmm, it's only natural that you, Dracul, would bestow your favor upon one as beautiful as I (laughs.) Liselle: I'm not so sure about your grasp of this setting... Imelda: We use these to increase the number of dice we roll on our Action Checks, right? Although we can also save them for later. Dracul: Noblesse Oblige expresses the expectation that you shall perform daring and valorous actions with it. That's why it's called Noblesse Oblige- Imelda: I don't need the lecture. I'm just gonna use it to do something cool. Liselle: The two of you are basically saying the same thing, anyway. Let's put them to good use. Florian: I think you're making Dracul uneasy with comments like that. (laughs) Dracul: A, anyway, the turn order is Pilgrim->Guard->Lord->NPC. So Sir Florian goes first. Florian: Okay. So I roll 4d6 for my Action Check, then move, then choose which Actions to perform. Right? * Applause Points Points awarded to the players in expectation of their splendid roleplay. They can be used to add a single die to the Action Check. * Setting * Noblesse Oblige * Turn Order Turn order is determined by one's Path. Dracul: You've got it. For each Action you want to perform, you need to have dice that equal or exceed its Cost. Imelda: So it's kind of like you get a certain amount of mana, then you spend it to act. Florian: (rolling) 4, 3, 3, 4! Not exactly what I was hoping for. Dracul: If you want to take a point of Noir towards yourself, you can reroll, up until you fulfill the Noir and gain Thirst. Liselle: I don't think you should suggest that to a guy who's eager to Fall as soon as he can. Florian: Fear not, I'm just fine with these rolls. I shall advance to the Count on the Throne, combine my two 4s into an 8 for <What a Gentle Kiss>, and combine my two 3s into a 6 for <Moonlight Invitation>. Liselle: A kiss already... Dracul: I see. So you started in the area with the Servant so you could get Rouge. Imelda: He'll go after everyone, huh. Liselle: So this is what Rosenbergs are like... Florian: I'd prefer you called me a gracious guest. (laughs) The beautiful face of the hero who withstood the fury of the Sun and lived is unforgettable. The crowd parts way for Sir Florian. Whispers surround him, as well as not a few sighs of yearning. "Ah..." * Reroll If they are unlucky with their die rolls, just as Dracul says, there are means of rerolling an Action Check. * What a Gentle Kiss A Basic Action, symbolizing a respectful kiss as proof of one's loyalty and devotion. It grants both parties Rouge, with an increased amount if they are in the Garden. * Moonlight Invitation An Action belonging to the Pilgrim Path. Symbolizing an impulsive invitation made with all your charm, it allows you to have your partner accompany you to an adjacent Area. * Getting Rouge When a Servant who is friendly towards you would inflict Noir upon you, they instead grant you the same amount of Rouge. Paula is slow to make way for him. She looks at him with the faintest of smiles, her cheeks flushing the color of roses, as she draws to the side. The attendant is noticeably different from her usual cheerful self. But though his heart may wish to stop and inquire about his friend, Florian's feet continue to stride forward. He kneels before Count Diethelm and presses his lips to the man's hand. It is a gesture of such sublime beauty that none could refuse it. "--Do you fare well, my Count? Do join me in a dance." The Count can scarce refuse. He accompanies Florian to the center of the ballroom. And a new dance begins once again, enthralling all who watch from the side lines. Diethelm: "I knew you to be a master of the dance of battle, but it seems you are most magnificent in other fashions of dance as well." Florian: "Only because you lead me so well, Count." Diethelm: "It is my duty as your host. Ah, but it has been quite some time since an occasion like this... perhaps they are not so frivolous as I thought." Florian: "As a libertine myself, your words pain me, Count," I reply, with a grin to show him that I jest. Imelda: Are they allowed to be this eloquent when they're two men dancing together? Dracul: Eloquence is the bedrock of this world. Florian: I gain one Rouge from having moved away from Paula, and one Rouge from moving back towards her. Imelda: "Look at that, Liselle. Is that not Sir Florian, whose heroism is without peer? Is he not splendid?" Liselle: You're dragging me into this?! (laughs) Then, I reply artlessly, "That's him. How I do admire his martial deeds." Florian: Somehow I feel like people are saying unkind things about me (laughs.) Um, so I kissed him, and moved out of the Throne where the guards are, so I take 2 Rouge towards him. I'll choose the emotion "Respect." Dracul: Man, you're exploiting these Stewards like crazy already... Liselle: Just watch me. As the guard, it's my turn next. Dracul: Then, make your Action Check. Liselle: (rolling) 6, 2, 5, 1. Hmm... right, I feel indebted to Princess Warhheit. Imelda: I, too, was introduced to you by her when I was grieving over the loss of my guard. Florian: Princess Wahrheit seems like quite the matchmaker. Liselle: Then let's try this. In order to receive Paula's adulation, I shall move to the Garden. Then, I shall use my 5 for <Noble Flower>, and my 8 for <What a Gentle Kiss>. Both upon the Princess. Imelda: You finally got your kiss, all right. (laughs) As Princess Wahrheit prefers to depart, the graceful lady night approaches her. Invaders from the Dead Queen's Domain... no doubt the Princess intends to meet them in battle. "If you feel it would be of use, my sword is yours, Your Highness. I have no doubt that Lady Imelda shall permit you to borrow me." Liselle earnestly presses her lips to the Princess's wrist, her clear, chilly voice seeming to resound through the hall. Florian: We all know saying that to her was just an excuse to kiss her. Liselle: Naturally. But it seems only appropriate to see my liege off with such a kiss. Imelda: A splendid guard I have indeed, always so mindful of fealty. But, in a voice that seems to cause the night air itself to quaver, the Princess replies thus. "I am truly gratified by your loyalty. But Lady Imelda is precious to me. It is my desire that you remain by her side." It is a surprising request. Coming from the Head of a House, all the more. But a loyal guard will no doubt understand the Princess's feelings. Liselle: "As you wish, Your Highness," I reply. Imelda: By the way, did you make that offer to her intending to drag the rest of us with you if she'd accepted? Liselle: ...Huh? No, I didn't really think of that. Florian: Really? (laughs) Imelda: Back then, I was probably thinking... "I've no choice but to stay behind." Dracul: ...When you lost your previous guard? Imelda: Yes. ...Well, that is, I'm sure I didn't want to be apart from them either. Florian: You fancied 'em! Dracul: Speaking of fanciness, it's Imelda's turn. Imelda: I didn't fancy them. (pouting) Ah, by the way, Liselle, how much Rouge do you have now? Liselle: I got 3 Rouge after the kiss in the Garden, so now I have 4. Also, I got a point from Paula, which will be Friendship. Florian: You've almost got Warmth already. Imelda: (rolling)... 4, 4, 6, 4! I move to the Garden, then I start by using one of the 4s to pay the cost of <Unforgettable Sigh> on... Liselle. Liselle: Huh, on me? Imelda: It's a sigh of relief. I'm glad you're not leaving me. Liselle: I, I see. ...I realize that I'm more important to you than I thought, so my emotion towards you will be Love. "Your Highness--" Her body clad in a beautiful dress, Lady Imelda appears at once both delicate and possessed of an unshakeable majesty. That is the mark of a Lord, mindful of her every action. That is the grace for which she is famed far and wide. With a kiss to both express her own love and wish upon the Princess fortune in war, she says, "At least allow my own retinue to accompany you. They shall serve you most valiantly as your outriders upon your journey." As her voice chimes like a bell, crimson mist gathers about her. It clears to reveal a brigade of spearmen clad in dark armor, where there was nothing before. A Lord of the Everdark needs no army or castle, for reality itself is theirs to command. Florian: Wow, what are you doing? Imelda: I'm using <Order of the Dragon> to summon soldiers to the Garden. Finally, I'll knock out the Princess with <What a Gentle Kiss>! Liselle: Make her a Wallflower, you mean (laughs). Wahrheit: "Lady Imelda, you are truly too compassionate to grant me so much of your own power. It would be most callous of me to refuse." Imelda: "I pray that you meet with fortune upon the battlefield." Liselle: Come to think of it, do knights have a god they pray to? Dracul: That would be me, the great Ancestor Dracul who created this eternal night. All knights have unshakeable faith in my divinity. Florian: It feels like some kind of cult you'd see in a gothic horror novel. Dracul: Ah, by the way, even when the Princess leaves, we'll pretend your summons are going to stick around and do their thing, Imelda. Imelda: I'm glad to hear that. It means more Rouge for me. Dracul: Anyway, Princess Wahrheit becomes a Wallflower, and everyone gains one point of Warmth! Liselle: Because we maxed out her love meter. Florian: Heh... will that love be enough to save us from the Fall? Imelda: Your eyes were sparkling when you said 'Fall' just there! Dracul: Next, it's the Lackeys' turn. Lackeys don't make Action Checks. Instead, they start with a fixed amount of Action Points among them which they can spend to perform Actions. Florian: So no matter how many Lackeys there are, they can only take a certain number of Actions among themselves. Dracul: Also, remember that you can choose to roll up to 2 dice of Resistance Checks at any time. Liselle: And if we beat what the enemies are paying with that roll, we cancel their Actions, right? Imelda: We'll also need to combine our dice with each other. Dracul: Correct. If anyone else uses Resistance, you can add your own Resistance to theirs to perform a stronger Resistance Check. Liselle: So basically it's a system best used to block the most damaging enemy actions. Dracul: Indeed. Now then, Princess Wahrheit shall depart along with her servants and the soldiers Realized by Imelda. Though the most lovely of its black flowers has been plucked from its garden, the festivities continue unabated. After he has seen the Princess off, the melody resumes and the Count joins the dashing young hero for another dance. Finally, with an affectionate hand upon his companion's back, he addresses the crowd. "My honorable guests, do lend me your ears. As host of this occasion, it is most unforgivable that I have not introduced to you all this hero beyond compare. It is none other than Florian, scion of Neurath, who stands before you. Yes, the handsome Knight of the Winter Rose, who withstood the flames of the Sun itself. Do remember that it was thanks to him that the ground you stand upon was delivered from the Sun's dreaded light--" Florian: Everyone really is puffing me up! <laughs> Dracul: First, the Count is using <Splendid Praise> upon Florian. He gains Rouge equal to the number of PCs in the same area. Imelda: A House Drac action, just like I have. Dracul: After the Count has finished his words of adulation, Paula and the others present applaud earnestly. Florian: I'm impressed by the Count for making Paula actually seem happy. (laughs) I'll take 'Respect' as my Rouge towards him. Dracul: He then uses <Order of the Dragon> upon the Court. I'm roleplaying this as representing the guests who gathered to applaud Florian. Imelda: And here I thought most people were just applauding as one of the obligations of polite society. Liselle: Lady Imelda... not everyone has lived long enough to grow as blasé as you are. "Yes, if not for the trusty blade of this beautiful pilgrim, my domain would be no more than a ruined waste. That is the degree of the calamity which he faced. The screams of those incinerated by the Sun's light... are something I shall never forget. That which was lost to those dread flames is beyond measure..." Deep grief is etched into the Count's face. For, like every Lord, the love he feels for his beautiful domain and its people is incomparable. Yet little of that survived the raging flames. Florian idly meets Paula's eyes, as she stands alone, only to witness a look of sorrowful loss in her eyes. Though it is appropriate to the situation... something feels amiss. Florian: "Hmm..." I think, but now is not the time to make inquiries. Liselle: Maybe she's brooding over something. Imelda: "Actually, I've... found another lover..." That kind of thing? Florian: No, I've never thought of her as a lover. (laughs) Someone to kiss, on the other hand... Dracul: Sounds like Liselle's way of thinking. Imelda: Heheh. Let her off her leash and she's an improper girl indeed. Liselle: You've hardly been chaste either, Lady Imelda! "It has taken time... but at long last, the scars that the flames of ruin left upon my domain have been ruined. Thanks to the knights that bear the honored name of Drac, and their valiant deeds, for which my praise can know no end. Upon this evening, join me in giving congratulations to these noble individuals!" Amid applause like the roar of the sea, the Count concludes his speech, and in short order the music begins again. Dracul: Next... Count Diethelm meets Imelda's eyes. Imelda: My eyes? Dracul: Indeed. He's using <The Game is Over> on you. Let's say it's because... the Count and you have known each other for a long time, so you can see through his little games. Imelda: "I understand you, so it's easier for me to manipulate you." That sort of thing? Dracul: Quite so. (laughs) Now, when the applause ends, the crowd begins to murmur. "Hasn't he declined quite a few invitations himself recently?" "Indeed. It's been quite some time since the Count has shown his face to anyone." "No doubt he's had a change of heart because thinks to become the next Prince." Imelda: ...Yet I know he isn't the sort of person who would be interested in being head of House Drac. Liselle: Hasn't he been working nonstop to help his land recover? It's natural he'd have no time for social occasions. Florian: A cunning excuse. Just like I'd expect from an acquaintance of Lady Imelda's. Imelda: How rude. Must I remind you I am known for my grace, not my cunning? Dracul: Now, then. The round is over, so it's time for Harmony. According to the situation of the scene, in order to keep the story moving along, everyone will get a point in a Bond. And that bond will be... Noir. Contempt for the Count. Imelda: Contempt? Dracul: It hasn't exactly been made clear, but... there is room for doubt whether the Count's sentimental speech was appropriate or if it truly celebrated the recovery of his domain. Florian: It's true that he focused a lot more on the tragedy than the topic of recovering from it. Liselle: Isn't it natural that you'd dwell on the terror of one of our few weaknesses? Imelda: Perhaps, but it's no topic for a party. I would have at least addressed it more eloquently. Dracul: As long as you get why you might have been put off by it, that'll do. Liselle: So now we move onto the next round, right? I think I understand the progression of the game, more or less. Dracul: Yes. I think we covered most of the basics in that round. Imelda: Let's start round 2, then. Dracul: Everyone gets a point of Noblesse Oblige. Continue to mesmerize me. Florian: I shall mesmerize you to my heart's content. Now then, it's my turn. Surrounding the dance floor are tables by the walls, and near one of these tables stands the attendant Paula. "Do you not wish to dance?" The girl nearly jumps as a voice addresses her, quite unexpectedly. She looks up to see before her the faint smile of Sir Florian. "I, I could never... presume a noble knight such as you would wish to dance with me..." Following her flustered words, the young girl rubs at her cheek awkwardly. But Paula finds her excuse interrupted. "I would not have asked if I did not want you to answer." The girl closes her eyes, visibly considering what to say. When she speaks next, she opens them again. "I would be ashamed to dance without a proper dress. Shall we wait for the next occasion?" Imelda: I overhear the conversation quite as a matter of happenstance. "Liselle, look over there. Shall we do that girl a favor?" Liselle: "Poor girl... is it your suggestion that we supply her with a dress, then?" I don't know much about such things myself, though. Florian: If the problem is the servant's dress she wears, I myself could simply provide her with something finer... Dracul: Ah, since the clothes and armor of the knights themselves are Realizations atop their bodies, anyone can do the same sort of thing to Paula. Liselle: I guess she'd have to strip first, though. ...What, is that a problem? Imelda: Liselle... the common folk find it embarrassing to be seen naked before the opposite sex. That's only a distant memory for me, of course. Florian: I guess when you're 180 years old, modesty isn't much of a concern any longer. Liselle: Be a gentleman and avert your eyes, okay? Anyway, are you roleplaying an Action? Florian: No, this isn't an Action. Although I think I deserve a lot of Rouge for what I'm doing, it's all just roleplay. Dracul: There's no limit to the conversation and roleplay you can do without having Actions involved, of course. It kind of feels like Imelda and Liselle are husband and wife, though. Imelda: My, dear, have you heard the rumours flying around about our neighbor Florian? Liselle: Oh, my, it seems he has his eyes on our daughter as well! Florian: Can't you put it a little more elegantly, at least?! Anyway, I'll move to them and use the action <A Tale of my Valor>. Then I'll use <Valorous Whisper> on the Count. Leaving the blushing servant girl with his smile, the young knight returns to the dance floor. There, numerous knights are joined in a dance, moving together with the beautiful melody that resounds through the hall. Florian holds out his hand, offering a dance to a certain lady... "...With me?" The lovely guard, at that moment, had been thinking that she'd much like to dance with Lady Imelda. But it would be rude of her to refuse the young knight's invitation. That is not to say she is swayed by his charm. "Dancing is not my forte... but I will try not to make a laughingstock of us..." Rather too forthcoming about her worries for her own good, the guard parts from her charge. Lady Imelda is trying to hold back a smirk of amusement. Liselle: Hmm. I don't have any Actions I can use for dancing, though. Florian: Hey, now, you have the basic Action <Knight's Chivalry>. Dracul: That's a Combat Action! (laughs) His partner's dress is not the equal of a Lord's. But its simplicity accentuates the beautiful smoothness of her pale skin. The body held in his arms is versed in a hundred different ways to protect her mistress. And that's not even unusual by knightly standards. Sir Florian has been a knight for scarcely three decades. He still remembers what it is to be mortal. How limited one's body is. A knight's worth is not in their physique. Their strength is not limited by their muscles. No knight needs to wear a suit of armor; when they do so, it is solely because they find it beautiful. "I must confess, I am astounded." The young knight murmurs this, as he considers the girl who claimed dancing was not her forte. She needs nothing more than her natural grace, and to memorize the steps. In short order, she is leading the dance herself, skipping across the floor as lightly and gracefully as a bird in flight. Even as she wonders what brought on her partner's remark. Imelda: ...The topic of physiques is a sore spot for me, you know. Dracul: What are you going to do while they're dancing? Florian: Hmm... Imelda: Very well. Let's put some attitude back in this. Liselle: My lady has gotten contrary... The music draws to an end, and the dancers exchange a bow. During the interval between songs, it is customary for the knights to regale others with tales of their noble deeds. It is for this reason that a crowd gathers around Sir Florian as he tells the story of his greatest foe. The unimaginable terror that every knight fears in the depths of their heart. The light that destroys all. Though it was but a fragment of the Sun, each fragment is nothing short of a calamity. The true Sun simply defies imagination. "Let us give praise to all knights who withstood that light!" shouts a knight. "For those among us who met the Sun in battle and survived possess the truest of valor!" The declaration is met with thunderous applause. Though Count Diethelm is along those applauding, a morose expression is upon his face as he does. Liselle: The Count really doesn't care to remember that time, does he. Imelda: Some kind of trauma, perhaps. Like he flashes back to the battle every time he's reminded of it. Florian: You know what flashes? The Sun. Imelda & Liselle: ... Dracul: (ignoring Florian) Then, after receiving the Rouge from <A Tale of my Valor>, the Count has 3 Presence. Liselle: (in a businesslike manner) I'll put the Rouge from <A Tale of my Valor> as "Respect." Imelda: Hmm... Can I change it to a Noir? "Pity." Florian: ...Paula, you alone are the oasis of my heart. Dracul: Ah, if you need a reaction, you should use the Reaction Table. It's a good way to come up with something if you can't think of it immediately. Imelda: I did think of it immediately, though. Liselle: Now you're just being a bully, my lady. Florian: Lady Imelda is unexpectedly sadistic... yet she still gives out Rouge. Is this what you call carrot and stick? Dracul: It's good roleplay, but this conversation is kind of nasty! (laughs) Liselle: Look, even if it's roleplay, it's a little embarrassing... most of all for me. The girl feels her noble heart waver. Though there have times when Lady Imelda has shown her affection, she is not given to intimacy with others. No, to be truthful, she avoids it. That is her duty. That is her pride. That is what it means to sacrifice herself to protect her liege. Liselle: That seemed like the kind of outlook someone would have as a guard. Imelda: My Liselle hasn't changed a bit, has she. Florian: She's immortal, after all. Liselle: Anyway, I think of myself as a shield against assassins. It's even my Exemplum. Florian: It's easy to imagine. Liselle lies covered in blood as Imelda embraces her, weeping... Imelda: "Don't die!" I'll say, having totally forgotten that neither of us can in my flustered state. Dracul: By the way, if you want, she can dissolve into flower petals instead of bleeding. It's more elegant that way, isn't it? Liselle: Anything but that! (laughs) It has been a long time since anyone but her liege touched her. But tonight, she has permitted another to take her hand. As Sir Florian naturally lead her in the dance, before she knew it, the dance had ended. This is different from the peaceful moments she spends together with her liege. Nostalgic, perhaps. She wonders if perhaps this could be the emotion that the common folk refer to as "fun." As Imelda mingles with the other guests, the guard returns to her liege's side with a faint, but content, smile on her face. Even though Imelda appears naught but content... Even though she spent naught but a moment apart... Liselle finds herself wanting to apologize, without knowing the reason. Is it merely that, however briefly, she allowed herself to be shared with anyone other than her precious liege? Liselle: I use <Rest in My Arms>, <What a Gentle Kiss> and <On Behalf of my Master> on my liege. Imelda: "How rare from you, Liselle. Has the occasion affected you somehow?" I say to her, but I don't resist. Florian: ...Even though all you did is list the names of your Actions, it's kind of moving. Dracul: Since you're in the Garden, you get an extra point of Rouge. Since you hit 5 ponts, you get Warmth, and unless it's a Lasting Bond, the bond disappears. Imelda: I use <Rest in My Arms> to take a point off... the only Noir I have is twards the Count. Even though he was putting me on edge earlier, somehow being in Liselle's arms makes me forget that. I'll take Rouge towards my Stewards instead. Liselle: As for the Noir I take from <On Behalf of my Master>... can I put that on you, Florian? I'm jealous of you for being able to be intimate with other people so naturally. Florian: Ah, the hearts of women are so sensitive. Of course it's okay. Dracul: Since it's rare that you unexpectedly take Noir from sources other than Lackeys, it's good to have an in-character reason like that. Liselle: Was that an in-character reason? Dracul: ... Florian: Now that you've spoiled our friendly atmosphere, let's move straight along to Lady Imelda. Imelda: C, certainly. Well then- The melodies and the dancing begin anew. The Count turns away from the dancers and gazes out a large window at the Everdarl. At the Ancestor's crimson eye eternally looking down upon from above. Behind him, a young yet dazzling voice reaches his ears. "Shall I be yours for a time?" A moment passes before he turns to face her. The thought occurs to Imelda that perhaps this pause is indicative of his feelings, but the truth is unclear to her. She and the Count have long been dear to each other. As much so as two nobles can be. Perhaps the Count sees something of Imelda's mother in her. Perhaps she realizes that. But when one becomes a knight, their spirit undergoes a change. Mortal attachments come to mean less, as they are fated not to last. Thus Imelda thinks rarely of her mother any longer. But is the same true of the Count? Liselle: So she was one of the Count's attendants just like Paula... nearly two hundred years ago, though. Dracul: Indeed. Given her favor in his eyes, perhaps Imelda has asked Diethelm about her. Imelda: I doubt I've even thought of doing so. When I let go of my mortal emotions, she was no more than another commoner to me. Florian: Wow, how coldblooded of you. Dracul: Imelda in particular probably lacks a sense of intimacy with her biological family, since she wasn't raised by them. Imelda: Let's see, with the effect of <The Game Ends Here>... (rolls) Good, this is enough to do it. I head to the Court and use <Sweet Lingering> and <Unforgettable Sigh> on the Count! Dracul: Splendidly done. Count Diethelm becomes a Wallflower and you all gain a point of Warmth! Also, all the Stewards whom he's the Master of vanish. When his name is spoken, a smile returns to the Count's face, as if it has been painted over. "If only I could accept, my dear Lady Imelda. But as the host of this occasion, it would be most unseemly of me to step away from it. Until the last cup has been drained, I must remain and engage in whatever pleasantries my other guests desire from me." The expression on the Count's elegant visage resembles that of a troubled young poet, though of course, his heart is anything but young. Doubtless the trauma of the land that he loved having been despoiled still weighs on him. "If it pleases you, I think that a sufficient pleasantry on my behalf." With a faint sigh, the Count gazes at her silently. " Then, shall we drain our cups? Paula, more wine for us all, if you would." お心のままになされば、それが相応しい挨拶なのだとおもうわ」 かすかな息と共に、そう保証する可憐な唇を、伯爵は黙然と見つめる。 Imelda: Hmm... Florian: What is it? Imelda: Somehow I have a bad feeling about this development. Dracul: (realizing what she means) Paula draws near, with a bottle of wine in her hand. However, when she stands by Imelda's side, it becomes apparent that she's trembling. Liselle: Could it be poison? But... does that kind of thing even work on knights? Florian: No, even if it does, what would the Count have to gain from it? Imelda: Maybe one of the other princely candidates has some sinister design upon us. Anyway, I'll try whispering to her. "What could be the matter?" Along with that gentle voice, a most sweet scent puts Paula's heart at ease. It is a scent at once mysterious and calming. A scent that reminds her of that night. When she reached out to pull that body from beneath the burning rubble, for a moment, the smoke and ash was replaced by the aroma of salvation. And now she has the opportunity to reach out that hand once again. A small flame of determination alights within the girl's heart. "You mustn't...!" Her voice, wrung out from the midst of her reverie, sends the ball into a stir. For such an outburst is the most boorish act a servant can perform. That alone would earn her punishment. "Don't drink it! That wine is mixed with my own blood!" Paula herself does not understand the meaning of that. But she is frightened by it. A dark look comes over the Count's eyes. In a commanding voice, he orders a toast. Dracul: The crowd fail to immediately understand Paula's words. Many seem to think it some kind of jest. Liselle: And the Count? Dracul: He gazes at Paula with a look of disbelief. No doubt astounded that a common girl would address the highest nobility. For a knight, such a turn of events is absurd. Florian: Almost as absurd as being made to serve wine mixed with your own blood. Dracul: That is certainly not a knightly act. Liselle: If we were to unknowingly drink blood, would we lose our minds and attack the people here or something? Dracul: If you just sip it, the taste is rather subtle. The crowd seems not to have noticed, but you all recognize the taste. Imelda: I believe Paula. The Count has been acting strange all this while. Liselle: I trust my liege, for she knows the Count better than I. Nor could I go against her. Florian: I am inclined to trust Paula, but why don't we start by simply asking the Count? "Answer me, Count. What is the meaning of your attendant's words?" A hushed silence falls upon the ballroom as the young hero asks his brash question. He cannot simply deny Paula's accusation. For those who would trust a servant girl over him will not so easily be swayed. And the fact is self-evident; even if she had not spoken, someone would have recognized the taste in time. The Count does not say a single word in reply. While continuing to gaze at Paula in astoundment, he merely makes a dismissive sound of contempt. "How far have you fallen, and how much further do you intend to fall? --Repent!"