The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5

The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5
RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5
>Ixies: But if you leave and investigate the bell, all of your bets will be invalidated! How long it takes Burnside to wake up, haw many times Adler will humiliate himself in how short a time, not to mention the high-stakes snail racetrack you've been working on.
>Vernier: How dare they put their own vices above the needs of their lord! How can they call themselves loyal vanguards when they take him so lightly!
>Adler: Normally you'd just tell Vernier it's not worth it, but now... Your amazing, heightened sense of brilliant focus is allowing you to cut through the complacency and irritation clouding your mind. You can feel an idea starting to form. You begin massaging your temples as your let your concentration hammer and shape the idea in the forge of focus that is your mind. Hey, Forge of Focus is pretty good, you should write that dow- NO! Focus, Adler! You have something good here...
>Adler: Eureka! You have the solution. It is blatantly obvious that the ixies replaced their sugar addiction with a gambling addiction. This really only replaces one problem with another, but you can work on that later. To avoid their betting getting in the way of work, they should make their work and the missions you send them on part of the bet. Every time you give them a job to do or send them on a mission, they can take a few moments to wager on the aspects of the mission and collect their winnings after they have reported back to you and been debriefed. As an example: You want them to stealthily go out into the forest and find what caused the ringing sound Vernier heard. They can place bets on what caused the ringing, who will find it, and how quickly. If it's something innocuous like a lost bit of livestock, they can leave it be. However, if it is a person, you want a full description and some ixies to silently tail him so you can decide what to do. It's not a perfect solution, but at least some work will get done.
>Ixies:... You immediately begin placing bets on how this mission will turn out as Adler suggested.
>Vernier: Wow. You are actually impressed.
>Adler: Swoon over the fact you impressed Vernier. In a focused way, of course.
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RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5
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Quote:>Ixies: But if you leave and investigate the bell, all of your bets will be invalidated! How long it takes Burnside to wake up, haw many times Adler will humiliate himself in how short a time, not to mention the high-stakes snail racetrack you've been working on.
>Vernier: How dare they put their own vices above the needs of their lord! How can they call themselves loyal vanguards when they take him so lightly!

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"If we leave to investigate yon bell," an Ixie explained, "then all our outstanding bets will be off! Someone must watch Burnside to see when she waketh, and someone must watch the watcher to make sure she cheateth not, and so on. We also have a running score for how often Adler humiliateth himself in how short a time. We can't afford to miss a moment. And we're working on a snail racetrack which would have to be set aside if we were to go investigating mysterious bells."

"Then set it aside!" Vernier snapped. "I can't believe you would put your petty entertainment and blatant vices ahead of your duty to your lord and sire! How can you call yourselves a loyal retinue when you treat him with such disrespect?"

Ordinarily I would have just told Vernier it wasn't worth haranguing the Ixies, but now... My heightened sense of brilliant focus was allowing me to cut through the complacency and irritation clouding my mind. I could feel an idea starting to form.

Quote:You begin massaging your temples as your let your concentration hammer and shape the idea in the forge of focus that is your mind.

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"By Fuma!" I exclaimed after a few minutes of intense cogitation. "I have the solution! It is blatantly obvious that the Ixies have merely substituted a gambling addiction for their former sugar addiction. This really only replaces one problem with another, but we can work on solving that later. For now, to prevent their betting getting in the way of work, they should make their work part of the bet. Every time I give them a job to do or send them on a mission, they can take a few moments to wager on the aspects of the mission. After they have reported back to me and been debriefed, they can collect their winnings. It's not a perfect solution, but at least some work will get done. For example: I want you to go out into the forest - stealthily! - and find what caused the ringing sound Vernier heard. You can place bets on what caused the ringing, who will find it, and how quickly. If it's something innocuous like a lost farm animal, you can leave it be. However, if it is a person, I want a full description and some Ixies to silently tail him to see what he's up to and where he goes."

Quote:>Ixies:... You immediately begin placing bets on how this mission will turn out as Adler suggested.

"Three aphids it's a lost baby ant," one Ixie declared.

"Bet I find it first!" another called.

"How much? How much?" several more answered in chorus.

Quote:>Vernier: Wow. You are actually impressed.
>Adler: Swoon over the fact you impressed Vernier. In a focused way, of course.

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"Well!" Vernier exclaimed. "I am impressed! That was very clever, sir."

I turned away so she would not see me struggling to maintain my tightly-focused composure. I shouted some vague words of encouragement to the Ixies but I'm not sure what I said.
The Ballad of Adler Young: Silly furry elf adventure. Read the RECAP: http://adleryoung.tumblr.com
Steampup: Surreal dog-headed Victorian adventure.  Winterbough Saga Wiki:  Everything we know about Faerie, its history & inhabitants.
See an edited recap of Zandar's Saga, and new pages at my Patreon.  Peruse original music at Bandcamp.
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RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5
>Adler: It is an intense struggle to wipe  the look of stupefied glee off your face and return to your super serious, concentrated demeanor, but you eventually settle somewhere between the two. As your ixies flutter off on the mission you gave them, you turn back to vernier.
>Vernier: *Snrk* Quickly cover your mouth to stop yourself from laughing. The expression on Adler's face is ridiculous.
>Adler: What? is there something on your face?
>Vernier: Immediately shake your head "no".
>Adler: . . .  Alright then. Back to what you where saying... Yes. You where pretty sure you heard that Oak had moved away.
>Vernier: She's still on the island, and the distance would't really be an issue considering most of Adler's retinue can fly. She would probably be willing to make the journey back if she was compensated. Adler doesn't really have to summon Oak if he doesn't see a need, but she was one of his most enthusiastic followers, and it seems unkind to not at least reach out to the Marten family considering how much they lost in his service. Adler could send out an ixie to ask Oak if she was at least interested in a meeting.
>Adler: Vernier's words tug at your heartstrings, but that is brushed aside by a darker thought. You remember the things Ash told you. How he bragged about murdering all of Oak's uncles and one of her brothers all in the name of cultivating undeserved gratitude for helping them out of the grief he himself had caused. You need to warn them not to trust Ash. He implied that he was constantly spying on you. How to do this without him knowing...

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RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5
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Quote:>Adler: It is an intense struggle to wipe the look of stupefied glee off your face and return to your super serious, concentrated demeanor, but you eventually settle somewhere between the two. As your ixies flutter off on the mission you gave them, you turn back to vernier.
>Vernier: *Snrk* Quickly cover your mouth to stop yourself from laughing. The expression on Adler's face is ridiculous.
>Adler: What? is there something on your face?

As my Ixies flew away on their new mission, I struggled for a few seconds to regain my composure and wipe the silly grin off my face. Eventually I bit my lip and turned around with what I hoped was a serious and businesslike glower.

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"What's so funny?" I asked as Vernier tried unsuccessfully to stifle a giggle.

"Nothing, sir," she chuckled.

"Very well then," I stated decisively. This would be so much easier if I still had that false mustache! "Let's get back to what we were discussing before we were distracted by this mysterious bell. You recommended that I talk to Oak Marten, but I'm pretty sure I heard that the entire family had moved away, including Oak."

"That is true," Vernier admitted. "But she's still in Eire, and the distance wouldn't really be an issue considering most of your retinue can fly. Oak would probably be willing to make the journey back if she was adequately compensated. I suppose you don't really have to summon Oak if you don't think it is necessary, but remember: She was one of your most enthusiastic followers, and it seems unkind to not at least reach out to the Marten family, considering how much they lost serving you. It wouldn't hurt to send out an Ixie to ask Oak if she is interested in meeting."

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Vernier's words made sense on a basic level, but that was overshadowed by a darker thought. I remembered the things Ash had told me. He bragged about murdering all of Oak's uncles and one of her brothers, as a way of cultivating undeserved gratitude for helping them out of the grief he himself had caused. Smoothing over the mess the Martens landed in by supporting me was one thing, but more importantly I needed to warn them not to trust Ash.

The Vulpitanian scoundrel had implied that he was constantly spying on me, so I had to figure out a way to do this without him knowing. It only took a moment to realize I had to do it without the trees knowing, since the Voice of the Forest was undoubtedly Ash's primary source of information. Could the trees detect Elfmind? I would have to find out ... but first ...

"Pardon me a moment," I muttered thoughtfully. "Let me go check on Rebecca."

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I walked past a still-dozing Burnside to where my student was sitting, pondering the Foxspell of Saint Reynard.

"What's the last part you were able to read?" I asked.

"It was an assorted collection of wise and witty sayings," Rebecca explained. She was already getting near the end, then. "Then there was a very detailed set of instructions for digging a hole to bury things in for safekeeping, and after it, more of the secret text."

I glanced at the book and saw that the next section was a step-by-step guide to performing several classic japes and pranks.
The Ballad of Adler Young: Silly furry elf adventure. Read the RECAP: http://adleryoung.tumblr.com
Steampup: Surreal dog-headed Victorian adventure.  Winterbough Saga Wiki:  Everything we know about Faerie, its history & inhabitants.
See an edited recap of Zandar's Saga, and new pages at my Patreon.  Peruse original music at Bandcamp.
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RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5
>Adler: You are impressed with Rebecca's progress. She's almost finished with the book.
>Rebecca: *Proudly* You're a speed reader. The trick is to look at the entire line of text and not go word by word.
>Adler: Uh, sure. Explain to her the nature of Reynard's wisdom. Also point out that there is no deeper meaning to the pointers on burying things, he's just talking about practicality. Now for the fun part. Explain why Reynard was such a jokester and why his fun and harmless japes are important.
>Adler: As Rebecca is reading and occasionally laughing, head back to Vernier.
>Adler: Yes, you agree that you should send an Ixie to contact Oak. Hopefully she is willing and able to make the journey. Now then, it is time to put your plans for the immediate future in action. You will compensate Vernier with some gold coins to support herself while she spreads stories of your deeds so that "Randal the White Elf" will be on everyone's minds. Vernier will also make periodic trips back to you with food, supplies, and news (which will also give you an excuse to spend more time with her and win her heart)-
>Vernier: Uh, Adler's making that face again.
>Adler: *Ahem* Continue onward and ignore that happened. Anyway, since Vernier is still in your employ you will continue to pay her for her labors. She also need not worry about her safety since you shall see to it that she is guarded and protected by ixies, and the trees will also protect her in the forest. You will also see to it that there is an easy path she may take to shorten her journey. Now, about Rebecca. She is open to elfly things and she is making good progress, but she has needed your help to guide her and keep her on track. It may be a good idea to have her stay here with you for the time being under your tutelage until she can pursue her studies on her own. If anyone asks where she went, Vernier can tell people that Rebecca took on an apprenticeship, which is true. You yourself will also be practicing these new abilities you've discovered. If you can master how to conjure things from nothing, You won't need to have food delivered to you anymore. (Though that would also mean Vernier would visit you less.)
>Vernier: Before you can comment that Adler is making another face, you are interrupted by Angela clumsily fluttering into veiw.
>Angela: You've finally stopped convulsing and you're ready to continue your debriefing! However, before you can continue, another ixie flies into the clearing announcing they have discovered the source of the ringing. Like, so totally lame!
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RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5

"You have made incredible progress," I remarked. "You're already almost finished with the Foxspell."

Quote:>Rebecca: *Proudly* You're a speed reader. The trick is to look at the entire line of text and not go word by word.
>Adler: Uh, sure. Explain to her the nature of Reynard's wisdom. Also point out that there is no deeper meaning to the pointers on burying things, he's just talking about practicality. Now for the fun part. Explain why Reynard was such a jokester and why his fun and harmless japes are important.

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"I was always the fastest reader in my coven," Rebecca replied proudly. "Fastest reader in Bunkirk too, which caused me to be viewed with some suspicion. It's a gift."

"Impressive," I stated. "This section of the book is mainly just practical advice. It doesn't seem to have any spiritual significance. The part about digging holes is just that. No deeper meaning. Now, the passage that's obscured consists of a number of lessons on pranking and playing tricks, because merry mischief is part of being an elf - or so Saint Reynard believed. Most of this stuff is harmless, and I'm not sure why it would be hidden, unless ... some of those pranks are ones we customarily play on lowfolk, and a few of them, if I recall, contain simple magicks."

"Ooh!" Rebecca exclaimed, grabbing the book and peering into it eagerly.

"I would suggest paging through this until you find a paragraph you can read, and then working from there."

Quote:>Adler: As Rebecca is reading and occasionally laughing, head back to Vernier.

I left her flipping pages and giggling, and walked back over to Vernier.

"Yes," I said thoughtfully as I approached. "I agree that I should send an Ixie to contact Oak, and I hope that she will be willing and able to make the journey back to visit me. Now then, it is getting late. I've no objection to you spending the night here, but I assume you would rather sleep at home in your own bed. Before we adjourn, let's agree on the best way to put our plans for the immediate future into action. I will compensate you with some gold coins to support yourself while you spread marvelous stories of 'Randall the White Elf' so my legend will be on everyone's minds. You will also make periodic trips back here with food, supplies, and news."

These supply visits would also be an opportunity to spend more time with Vernier and gradually win her heart!

Quote:>Vernier: Uh, Adler's making that face again.

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"Sir?" she asked after a lengthy pause. "Are you all right? You've got that faraway look in your eyes."

"Ahem," I coughed, regaining my composure. "Since you are still in my employ, I will of course continue to pay you for your labor. You also need not worry about your safety. I shall see to it that you are guarded and protected by Ixies, and here in the forest the trees themselves will also protect you. I will make sure there is an easy path which you may take to shorten your journey to and from this stone circle."

"Sounds good so far," Vernier admitted.

"Now then, about Rebecca," I continued. "She is open to elfly things and she is making good progress, but she has needed my help to guide her and keep her on track. I believe it is necessary to have her stay here with me, under my tutelage, until she is advanced enough to pursue her studies on her own."

"My neighbors are going to ask where she went," Vernier protested. Did I detect a note of jealousy?

"You may tell them that Rebecca took on an apprenticeship, which is true. Meanwhile I will also be practicing these new abilities I've discovered. If I can master how to conjure things from nothing, then it won't be necessary to have food delivered as often."

As I said it, I realized that success in this endeavor would mean less need for Vernier to visit. What a dilemma!

Quote:>Vernier: Before you can comment that Adler is making another face, you are interrupted by Angela clumsily fluttering into veiw.
>Angela: You've finally stopped convulsing and you're ready to continue your debriefing!

"Sir, you're doing it again," Vernier sighed.

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Before I could respond, Angela Weakflit fluttered up and saluted.

"Reporting 4 my debriefing, Your Dreaminess," she giggled.

"Ah," I replied. "Have you discovered the source of the bell sound?"

"LOL wut R U talking about?" Angela laughed. "Ive been recuperating N teh infirmary & only just now recovered from a bad case of teh Vapors. Everybody's gone! But I remember I need 2 C U 4 debriefing, so hear I am."
The Ballad of Adler Young: Silly furry elf adventure. Read the RECAP: http://adleryoung.tumblr.com
Steampup: Surreal dog-headed Victorian adventure.  Winterbough Saga Wiki:  Everything we know about Faerie, its history & inhabitants.
See an edited recap of Zandar's Saga, and new pages at my Patreon.  Peruse original music at Bandcamp.
*Adorable plum-munching Mavis avatar by the incomparable Tronn.
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RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5
>Angela: Explain in excruciating detail about all the ways Ash is a total bad-boy dreamboat. He may be bad, but he has a tortured past so it's okay. The world treated him rough and now he gets to treat the world rough back! *Swoon*
>Adler: As interesting as hearing about Ash's favorite foods and clothing, maybe focus on things you can actually use against him. You remember Angela mentioned a collection of soggy old books. Are these books magical or elf-related? Did he get them from the Duchess's abandoned estate?
>Angela: *Squee* He did! He did! It's not just books from the Duchess. He takes any books about elves that he can find. He absolutely HATES the idea of lowfolk knowing about actual elf lore. He's even killed a few lowfolk for "knowing too much." From what you've heard, he just about blew a gasket when Percy's book was published, but there are so many of them, he can't do much about it. You're not sure why he keeps the other books he's taken instead of destroying them if he doesn't want the lowfolk to read them. You think it's because he's homesick. *sigh* He is such a tortured soul.
>Vernier: Is she going to be alright? She's gasping like she can't breathe.
>Adler: Quickly, before she starts foaming at the mouth again, grill Angela for any more useful information. Does Ash have any exploitable weaknesses? What kind of organization does he run? Is it a crime syndicate? Is he just a broker? How much influence does he actually have? Is he really as dangerous as he wants you to believe?
>Angela: It's just too much to bear! It's like you are the star of your own epic love story. Already the members of your love trapezium are waging war for your heart! Oh what is a fair and fragile ixie maiden like you to do?!
>Adler: Angela collapses into your open palms and begins violently convulsing and foaming at the mouth. You're going to need to do a psyche evaluation on this one. The transmogrification you did on her might have scrambled her brain.
>Vernier: You had no idea someone could get the vapors this bad... Goodness! If she keeps thrashing like that she's going to break her spine!
>Adler: You're pretty sure she doesn't have one anymore, exoskeleton and all that, but just in case, work some magic to calm her down. You're going to need to ask the other ixies if she was like this before she was transformed. Speaking of which where are they?
>Ixies: A group of ixies fly into the clearing while exchanging aphids. "Sire! Sire! we found the source of the ringing!"
>Adler: Speak of the devil...
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RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5
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"Ah, excellent," I beamed. "Tell me what you were able to learn about the elf currently going by the name of Ash Marten."

"Oh hes such a total bad-boi dreamboat," Angela sighed. "Did I tell U he likes wry toast with eggs and -"

"You did," I interrupted.

"Well he also has a different cravat -"

"For every day of the week, you told us that too."

"Hes got alot of dapper hats & teh tweed suit, totes handsome," Angela grinned. "He may be bad, but he has a since of style sew its ok. Also he has a tortured past. Teh world treated him rough & now he treats the world rough back! Sooo elfly!"

"Didn't you mention him having a collection of soggy old books?" I inquired, trying to steer her toward information that might be useful to me. "Are those books magical or elf-related? Did he get them from the Duchess's abandoned estate?"

"Squee!" Angela squealed. "He did! He did! Its knot just books from the Duchess tho. He takes any books about elves that he can find. He absolutely HATES teh idea of lowfolk knowing about elf lore. Hes even killed a few lowfolk for knowing 2 much. From what Ive herd, he just about blue a gasket win Percy's book was published, but after he actually red it, he calmed down alot. Im not sure Y he keeps teh other books hes taken instead of destroying them if he doesnt want teh lowfolk to read them. I think its Bcause hes homesick. He is such a tortured sole. OMG, so hawt!"

"Does Ash have any exploitable weaknesses?" I demanded, desperately trying to get information before Angela passed out from hyperventilating again. "What kind of organization does he run? Is it a crime syndicate? Is he just a broker? How much influence does he actually have? Is he really as dangerous as he wants me to believe?"

"Ohh Fuma!" Angela moaned. "Teh corners of my love trapezium R waging war 4 my heart! Oh what is a fare & fragile Ixie maiden 2 due?!"

Angela collapsed into my open hands and began violently convulsing and foaming at the mouth. Did the transmogrification I did on her to correct her deformity somehow scramble her brain? I would have to study her more closely sometime soon.

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"I had no idea someone could get the Vapors this bad," Vernier stated with concern. "Goodness! If she keeps thrashing like that she's going to break her spine!"

"I'm pretty sure she doesn't have one," I reassured her. "Ixies have exoskeletons. I think." Just in case I was wrong about that, I whispered a Gramarye to calm Angela down. She fell asleep almost instantly, and I placed her carefully in a tuft of grass on the side of the central dolmen. I made a mental note to ask the other Ixies if Angela had been like this before she was transformed.

Speaking of which, where were they? It was getting late, and I wanted Vernier to be home before dark. The stone circle was eerily quiet without the noise of bets being called out.

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"Get up," I said, as I poked Burnside with my toe. "Since the Ixies haven't returned, I need you to escort Vernier home. Make sure she arrives SAFE and UNHURT, then come back here."

"That's no fun," Burnside muttered drowsily.

"You are free to harm any Bunkirk rabbits who cross your path."

"Now yer talkin!" she exclaimed, jumping to her feet. "Come on, gal. Let's get you home."

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As Burnside and Vernier rustled away through the undergrowth, I knelt beside Rebecca to offer her further mentoring about the Foxspell.

"We're all alone now, my lord," she grinned. "Is it time to teach me about Honoring the Lady?"

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"GUH," she added, before I could respond. A tiny bell tinkled somewhere nearby.

ELFSHOT!

It took me but a split second to realize that somebody had elfshot my student. Rebecca slumped, drooling, onto the grass as I bounded to my feet and whipped my bow out of Elfintory in one single instantaneous motion.

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"WHO'S THERE?" I demanded. "SHOW YOURSELF!!"
The Ballad of Adler Young: Silly furry elf adventure. Read the RECAP: http://adleryoung.tumblr.com
Steampup: Surreal dog-headed Victorian adventure.  Winterbough Saga Wiki:  Everything we know about Faerie, its history & inhabitants.
See an edited recap of Zandar's Saga, and new pages at my Patreon.  Peruse original music at Bandcamp.
*Adorable plum-munching Mavis avatar by the incomparable Tronn.
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RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5
>Mysterious Voice: Demand that Adler show himself first.
>Adler: But you are.
>Mysterious Voice: Exactly. You fire another elfshot at Adler.
>Adler: Yipes! You dodge and duck into cover.
>Mysterious Voice: You are disappointing to see Adler is still associating with that antglade-trash raccoon, but your former colleague is nowhere to be found. Perhaps Adler got tired of her and sent her away, no that can't be it. If Adler is still keeping Burnside around and now hanging out with lowfolk, then his taste in company still leaves much to be desired. Most likely, that twice-failed two-bit floozy failed yet again and died horribly in the battle. Dying a traitor's death, it's a shame you didn't see it.
>Adler: That voice. It sounds so familiar. Is that the woman that gave the tainted bread to your troops? Didn't she turn out to be a sisterhood agent? Yes, Ms. Thomson informed you she was and this was corroborated by Estvan when he read her dreams. What's she doing here? You dodge another arrow. Yikes!
>Miss Thompson: How can Adler really be this obtuse? It's not hard to figure out! You're here to complete the mission Thomson abandoned when she turned traitor! When Adler asked the Sisterhood to find info on Ash, he let them know exactly where he was! Of course the Sisterhood was going to send someone out to get him! This is exactly why the so-called "Scion of Iraneous" can't be left to his own devices. It's like watching a brain-dead infant wander through a minefield. You fire a volley of arrows at Adler.
>Adler: You duck and weave to different cover. Where is she firing from? How was she able to get past your defenses? Tell the trees to stop her!
>Trees: You can't. She knows the secret phrase that forces you to stand down.
>Adler: How! If it's so Fuma-damned secret, how does she know!?
>Miss Thompson: Ash told you.
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RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5
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"Here I am," someone said as she grabbed me from behind and held a knife to my throat. A bell tinkled very close by.

Quote:How was she able to get past your defenses? Tell the trees to stop her!
>Trees: You can't. She knows the secret phrase that forces you to stand down.
>Adler: How! If it's so Fuma-damned secret, how does she know!?
>Miss Thompson: Ash told you.

"Minister Lynne?" I gulped. With that woolly smell, the deceptively soft voice, the tantalizing curves pressed against me, and of course the little bell, it had to be her. I should have known! "How did you get here?"

"It's just Lana now, thanks to you," she snarled. "As to how I got here, obviously I crept. The mushroom stealth technique you developed is surprisingly effective."

"I can see how that would work on me and my Ixies," I admitted. "But the trees? They should have stopped you." I had to keep her talking while I figured out what to do!

"I know secret phrases to command the forest," Lana gloated.

"How do you know that??" I spluttered. It seemed my arboreal defenses could be penetrated by pretty much ANYBODY. "Did Ash tell you?"

"Your Doctor Cesawonki?" Lana laughed. "Please. The Sisterhood has made bargains reaching back long before his time. The trees bear an obligation to us that supersedes any instructions you or he may have given them."

"Okay then, why are you here?" I asked, playing for time.

"Surely you can guess," Lana snorted. "It shouldn't be hard even for you to figure out! I am here to complete the mission Ms. Thomson abandoned when she turned traitor! Asking the Sisterhood to find info on 'Ash' was a tactical error on your part. After letting us know that you were still alive, and exactly where you were, did you not think we would send someone out to get you? This is exactly why the so-called 'Scion of Irenaeus' can't be left to his own devices. It's like watching a brain-dead infant wander through a field strewn with traps. After all the time and energy we invested in you, I have to say you've been a big disappointment."

"It will be impossible to restore the Empire if you assassinate me," I pointed out. "I'm the only one left ... unless you count Bodb and Matholwch, but surely ..."

"The Duchess will be difficult to negotiate with, it's true," Lana admitted thoughtfully. "Speaking of Antgladers, I see you are still associating with that trashy raccoon, but interestingly there is no sign of Thomson. I was at first tempted to think you got tired of her and sent her away, but no. You are still keeping Burnside around, which shows that your taste in company has not improved. And now I see you're also hanging out with lowfolk, of all things."

"They are useful to me," I replied, trying to make it sound Unseelie.

"Indeed," Lana sneered. "So where is Thomson anyway?"

"I have no idea," I shrugged. Was Lana's grip around me relaxing? "Frankly I'm amazed that Burnside survived. They were both on the field when I ACCIDENTALLY released the Plague of Battles."

"The best thing you ever did, and it wasn't even on purpose," Lana sighed. "Ah well, most likely that twice-failed two-bit floozy failed yet again and was gruesomely slain in battle. Dying a traitor's death; it's a shame I didn't get to see it."

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This was my chance! As Lana's attention wavered, I used a move Adoyret Sam had taught me to twist free of her grip. As I spun, I swiped at her with the arrow in my hand, but it glanced harmlessly off her horns. However, she was so startled that she dropped her dagger. I immediately apported it away to a random location and stepped back, nocking my arrow and aiming directly at her heart.

0713crack.gif

"Impressive," Lana chuckled as she cracked her hooves. "I heard that the Adoyret had taught you a few things, and I see his efforts were not wasted. This might even be fun. Think you can take me on, little princeling? See if you can ring my bell."

She lunged at me and I shot my bow, but she somehow deflected the arrow aside and tackled me to the ground.

0713tussle.gif

We wrestled for what seemed like a long time, although probably it was just a few minutes. She seemed to be everywhere at once. I scratched and kicked and bit, using all of Sam's training. I managed to ring Lana's little bell several times, but alas, I could not land a decisive blow. She was just too slippery!

0713drag.gif

"Pretty good," she said when it was over, as she dragged me by my ear towards the dolmen. "Could be better, but honestly not bad. I'll have to re-evaluate you. We'll talk in the antechamber, away from any eavesdroppers ... because unlike some people, I take care not to have my plans overheard."
The Ballad of Adler Young: Silly furry elf adventure. Read the RECAP: http://adleryoung.tumblr.com
Steampup: Surreal dog-headed Victorian adventure.  Winterbough Saga Wiki:  Everything we know about Faerie, its history & inhabitants.
See an edited recap of Zandar's Saga, and new pages at my Patreon.  Peruse original music at Bandcamp.
*Adorable plum-munching Mavis avatar by the incomparable Tronn.
Quote
RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5
>Adler: After she drags you through the portal, you demand to know what she intends to do to you.
>Lana: You just told him! Wasn't he listening? She is going to complete the mission Thomson gave up on when she abandoned everything the Sisterhood has been working toward. Adler does remember what that is right, or has he forgotten already? Thomson told Adler word for word what that entailed.
>Adler: well, a lot of things happened between then and now. You were kinda busy dealing with being banished and having an existential crisis over your role as a pawn FOR EVERYONE YOU HAVE EVER MET!
>Lana: Really now? Adler is going to play the victim here? Intentional or not, Adler's actions resulted in the horrific deaths of countless people, and he is lamenting over his lot in life? For someone who claims to be seelie, he has a habit of only thinking about himself. But, to remind him: the mission you have picked up is to take some of Adler's vital essence to ensure he is able to leave heirs in case he needs to be disposed of and to make a poppet to directly control him since he has proven time and time again he is incapable of making decisions for himself.
>Adler: How can the Sisterhood do this to you?! You are the Scion of Irenaeus, it is your destiny as laid out by Fuma herself to save Faerie. Taking away you autonomy is borderline blasphemy.
>Lana: You scoff at this. Yes he is destined for this, but the prophecy, like all prophecies, was vague on what circumstances he would accomplish this. As long as it happens and he is involved, the prophesy will be fulfilled. Also, you didn't finish before you were so rudely interrupted. A prince should have better manners. Once you have Adler's essence, you are to remove his ability to use wiles which as a side effect would also drastically reduce Adler's prowess at venery.
>Adler: That's cruel and unusual! Why would they subject anyone to that?
>Lana: To make sure Adler can never go against his masters (mistresses?). You have no idea what was going through his mother's head, but all teaching him wiles accomplished was turning him into a wild card. How much Adler cooperates will determine how comfortable or how agonizing the procedure will be. But, the Sisterhood gave you some leeway in how you complete your mission. Maybe Adler can convince you it isn't necessary to do something so drastic. Whatever Fuma has planned, the Sisterhood fully intends to have a secure place in it. Can Adler prove his undying loyalty and obedience? Hm?
Quote
RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5

Quote:Quick, twist her pinkie.. uh... nail? hoof? thing? So the pain will let her drop you and if you can also use your other hand to grab her wrist so you can control at least that hand do not do the mistake of grabbing both hands as one hand free means she will instinctively use that one hand to attack you and that's what you want, grabbing both hands and getting hoof-kicked in the chest would be painful.

Ha! My pathetic squealing and writhing in pain had lulled Lana into a false sense of security! She had made a grave tactical error by assuming I was defeated and leaving my hands free. Once again using Adoyret Sam's combat training, I grabbed her hoof and her wrist and began to twist. Ideally the pain would make her let go, and she would instinctively try to attack with her free arm. That was what I wanted. If she started kicking, I was done for.

0720kick.gif

"Knock it off!" Lana grumbled, awkwardly kicking and stomping on me. "I don't intend to hurt you any more - at least not til after we've talked - but I will if you keep misbehaving."

"Don't take me in there!" I pleaded as she dragged me toward the Gate. "I can't afford a time skip right now!"

"I've already explained why our conference must take place in the tower anteroom," she growled.

"At least let me do a stabilizing ritual! PLEASE!!"

With an unladylike grunt, Lana heaved me through the Gate.

0720waah.gif

"MY PLANS!!" I sobbed. "YOU'VE RUINED EVERYTHING!!!" What was going to happen to Vernier and Rebecca if I was absent for several days? Or weeks? Or MONTHS?

"Get a hold of yourself," Lana snapped. "Be an elf. Stop this disgraceful behavior. Your plans are no good for two reasons: Number one, they are yours. Number two, they involve lowfolk."

"Those lowfolk serve me," I insisted.

"Hmph," Lana snorted. "Who is serving whom? You're teaching one of them magick, and fawning over the other like a love-besotted fool. Lowfolk femmes are an elf mel's greatest weakness. They will surely be your undoing."

0720parley.gif

"Well, what do you want?" I sighed, as Lana perched daintily on the bottom step of the staircase, and I sat on the floor beside her. "What do you intend to do?"

"I already told you," she stated haughtily. "Weren't you listening? I intend to complete the mission Thomson abandoned when she betrayed the Sisterhood. Don't you remember? Thomson spilled the beans in complete detail."

"A lot of things have happened since then," I protested. "I was kinda busy dealing with my banishment and imprisonment, not to mention having an existential crisis over constantly being used as a pawn by EVERYONE!"

"Oh please," Lana scoffed. "Don't try to play the victim. Your destiny was all laid out for you, and the only reason it turned sour was because of your own stubborn resistance! For someone who claims to be Seelie, you have a pesky habit of only thinking about yourself. Fine, I'll remind you: My mission is to take some of your vital essence, or 'mojo' to use the vernacular. I am to leave you just enough so you'll be able to produce heirs, but not enough that you'll be able to rebel. The Sisterhood wants you obedient. You have proven incapable of making decisions for yourself."

"I am the Scion of Irenaeus!" I declared indignantly. "It is my destiny, declared by Fuma herself, to save Faerie! Taking away my autonomy is tantamount to blasphemy against the Lady herself!"

"On the contrary," Lana retorted. "The prophecy, like all prophecies, is vague regarding circumstances. As long as it happens and you are a crucial part of it, the prophecy will be fulfilled. We are actually going to HELP you realize your destiny."

"Well then why are you trying to foil my plans?" I demanded. "Believe it or not, I am headed in that direction!"

"We remain skeptical," Lana sniffed. "The Sisterhood has concluded that your plans are too slow at best, and counterproductive at worst. It would be preferable if we take charge. But, I am allowed some leeway in how I conduct my mission. A king who's a completely mindless puppet isn't much fun. I reviewed the transcript of your conversation with Ash -"

"Have I no privacy at all?" I blurted, outraged.

"You would if you took steps to secure it," she replied. "Stop interrupting. I reviewed the transcript, and you made a compelling point about being worthy of the crown by earning it through your own efforts, instead of letting someone else do the work for you. We agree, this would be best. But we aren't sure you are capable, and we are getting extremely impatient with the pace you are taking."

"Well why don't you help me instead of impeding me?" I implored. "Just by dragging me in here, you've set back my plans by weeks - perhaps longer."

0720proposition.gif

"Whatever Fuma has decreed for you, the Sisterhood fully intends to have a secure place in it," Lana stated smugly. "Demonstrate your competence, and you shall have our support. Here is the bargain I am authorized to make: You and I shall have venery in a no-holds-barred contest of wills and Wiles. I shall try to steal your mojo, as I explained earlier. If I succeed, the Sisterhood takes over and we achieve your destiny our way. If you can prevent me, then I must bow to your superiority and shall thenceforth serve as your loyal Prime Minister."
The Ballad of Adler Young: Silly furry elf adventure. Read the RECAP: http://adleryoung.tumblr.com
Steampup: Surreal dog-headed Victorian adventure.  Winterbough Saga Wiki:  Everything we know about Faerie, its history & inhabitants.
See an edited recap of Zandar's Saga, and new pages at my Patreon.  Peruse original music at Bandcamp.
*Adorable plum-munching Mavis avatar by the incomparable Tronn.
Quote
RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5
>Adler: How dare she! She barges into your life, attacks your student, puts a knife to your throat, mocks and berates you, threatens to turn you into a mindless puppet, and now she intends to blackmail you into having venery with her? Has she no shame or self-awareness? And the very fact that she is trying to give herself a high seat of power in you plans rather than the sisterhood's shows that despite her words your plan does have a good chance of succeeding! She would be your "loyal" Prime Minister? Like how she was loyal to your brother? You still haven't forgotten that the sisterhood MURDERED YOUR BROTHER.
>Lana: What's this? The pampered little princeling is finally acting like  he cares about someone other than himself? Color yourself impressed. He's finally discovered another basic emotion, you'd give him a gold star if you had one. Adler should know damn well why he had to die. Even if he could be convinced to abdicate the  throne peacefully, there can be no loose ends. Even so, not only was he a terrible emperor, he was just a terrible person in general. The sisterhood would have killed him on principal.
>Adler: You silently glare at Lana as you grit your grit your teeth and your blood begins to boil.
>Lana: And yes, you are blackmailing Adler. You need to make sure that he completes his destiny even if he abandons the sisterhood, and should you happen to greatly benefit in the process, well, that's just a perk. And on the topic of blackmail, you could just beat Adler unconscious and take what you need, and maybe enjoy it in the process, but that would spoil his looks and that would be a tragedy since his looks are all he has going for him. Well, since Adler is such a big grown-up prince now that's learned to care about other people, maybe he would be more inclined to take your offer if you tied him up and stepped out and had a word with that stupid rabbit you left drooling in the clearing. You just so happen to know the technique "Ash" taught Adler. It would be easy. Perhaps you could slit her throat or break her neck. Although, all of Adler's whining has put you in a bad mood. Maybe you'll carry her out in the woods, hide her in a place she'll never be found, and break all her limbs so she slowly dies of agonizing starvation.
>Adler: Don't you dare!
>Lana: Oh, he doesn't like that? Maybe then he should just shut up and take what you're offering him. Maybe you'll even pay that little skunk lady he's been fawning over a visit. This is the difference between Adler and the sisterhood. Adler claims he wants autonomy, but he lacks planning and follow-through. The sisterhood has been planning this for longer than he'll ever understand. The only reason Adler was born is because the sisterhood willed it. He BELONGS to the sisterhood. And the sisterhood knows well enough to leave no loose ends. That girl is a loose end. What was her name? "Vernier"? Adler made her a loose end. You could just kill her and be done with it, but that would be to simple an end. Maybe you'll ruin her reputation and have her driven out of town, ostracized from society. Dying in an alleyway somewhere in a puddle of her own tears while cursing Adler's name. Dying as a toothless harlot that would sell herself to anyone for a scrap of food.
>Adler: Something in you snaps as white-hot rage takes over. You feel the warrior fury of Irenaeus pulsing through you as you lunge forward and your fist connects with Lana's face with more strength or force than you've ever had before. Pain shoots up your arm as you hear a loud crunching sound, not from your fist but from Lana's nose. As she is knocked backwards you stumble away and check to make sure you didn't break anything. When you look back at her she is nursing her crumpled, bleeding nose and spits out a handful of her own teeth. She shoots you a murderous glare.
Quote
RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5

Quote:>Adler: How dare she!

0727asif.gif

"Not a chance," I snarled. Engaging in venery with a Sisterhood Floozy would be like walking into a trap! If I was going to prevail, I had to fight her on MY terms. "You barged in, attacked my student, put a knife to my throat, mocked and berated me, threatened to turn me into a mindless puppet, and now you intend to blackmail me into having venery with you? Have you no shame? Don't bother answering; I know you don't. And the very fact that you are trying to give yourself a high seat of power in my future government shows that despite your words, my plan does have a good chance of succeeding!"

"With my help, it certainly would," Lana quipped smugly.

"You would be my loyal Prime Minister, eh?" I sneered. "The same way you were loyal to Estmere? I haven't forgotten that the Sisterhood MURDERED MY BROTHER."

0727youlose.gif

"I heard that YOU killed him," Lana stated drily. "Nobody else seems to know that Estmere died of his own folly. He chose to sit on the Coronation Throne despite being told not to. Anyway, you should understand full well why he had to die. Even if he could have been convinced to abdicate the throne peacefully, there can be no loose ends. Not only was he a terrible Emperor, he was just a terrible person in general."

"He was a cool dude," I insisted angrily.

"Whatever," Lana sighed. "It's a bit late to start caring about him now. And yes, by the way, I am blackmailing you. I need to make sure that you fulfill your destiny. Even if you can do it without the Sisterhood, I still intend to benefit. Think about it: I could just beat you unconscious and take what I need, but where's the fun in that? Plus, it would spoil your looks and that would be a tragedy since your looks are all you have going for you."

"That's ironic coming from you," I scoffed.

"You're interrupting again," Lana scolded. "Since you're such a big grown-up prince now who's learned to care about other people, maybe you would be more inclined to take my offer if I tied you up and stepped out to have a word with that stupid rabbit I left drooling in the clearing. She will still be there. I know how to handle the time-slips. Perhaps I could slit her throat or break her neck. But you know what? After all of your whining, I think I'm in the mood to carry her out in the woods, hide her in a place she'll never be found, and break all her limbs so she slowly dies of agonizing starvation."

"Don't you dare!" I exclaimed.

"Oh, you don't like that? Maybe then you should shut up and take what I'm offering you. Or perhaps I need to pay your little skunk femme a visit. The Sisterhood has been planning this for longer than you can comprehend. We have too much invested to let you screw it up. The only reason you were born is because the Sisterhood willed it. You BELONG to the Sisterhood, and the Sisterhood knows well enough to leave no loose ends. That lowfolk femme is a loose end. What was her name? Vernier? It's a pity; she could have lived out her life in peace, but you made her into a loose end which somebody - probably me - will have to deal with. I could just garrote her and be done with it, but that wouldn't be very satisfying. Maybe I'll ruin her reputation and have her driven out of town. She does seem to have an unlucky streak, which will make this much easier to pull off. Just imagine her dying in an alleyway somewhere in a puddle of her own tears while cursing your name. Before the end comes she'll have to lower herself to doing shadow puppets for a scrap of food..."

Quote:>Adler: Something in you snaps as white-hot rage takes over. You feel the warrior fury of Irenaeus pulsing through you as you lunge forward

0727enough.gif

At that point I must have had a brief flash of Irenaeid Battle Fury, because I don't remember lunging at Lana and grabbing her. The next thing I knew, I had her in a headlock through the stair railing and was twisting one of her arms behind her back.

"ENOUGH, FLOOZY," I growled. I was still furious but somehow aware of what I was doing. "I HAVE BORNE ALL THE ABUSE I WILL TAKE FROM YOU."

0727wecool.gif

"There's the old Irenaeus fighting spirit," Lana chuckled. "That's what I was hoping to see. Adler, buddy, baby, ol' prince, ol' pal, Your Highness, you and me, we're going places. Keep your mojo and share it with me. You'll be Emperor and I'll be your right-hand ewe."

"YOU WOULD BETRAY THE SISTERHOOD?" I demanded.

"Well, sort of," she wheezed. "Not so tight on the windpipe! We have contingency plans to cover just about every possibility. I'll just have to explain it to them. I might wait until after we succeed and you are on the throne; that will certainly strengthen my case. But in the meantime you can consider me your henchfemme. It's customary in these situations to seal the deal with a bit of venery -"

0727knife.gif

"FOUL FLOOZY, EVER FULL OF TRICKS AND DECEIT," I declared as I apported one of Burnside's blades from the heap where I had tossed them on the porch overhead. "WHERE WILL YOUR POWER BE IF YOU ARE NO LONGER BEAUTIFUL?"
The Ballad of Adler Young: Silly furry elf adventure. Read the RECAP: http://adleryoung.tumblr.com
Steampup: Surreal dog-headed Victorian adventure.  Winterbough Saga Wiki:  Everything we know about Faerie, its history & inhabitants.
See an edited recap of Zandar's Saga, and new pages at my Patreon.  Peruse original music at Bandcamp.
*Adorable plum-munching Mavis avatar by the incomparable Tronn.
Quote
RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5
>Lana: You try and struggle out of Adler's grip, but it's like a steel ribbon. You try elbowing him, but you can't get through the railing, and when you grab at Adler's wrist you are unable to move it. It's like a supernatural force is giving him unnatural, for him, strength. While struggling, you resort to threats, because that's worked so well so far. Adler can't do this to you! You are one of the sisterhood's top agents. Adler should know who he's dealing with! You were doing Adler a favor by only roughing him up a little earlier, normally you are much less friendly. He should thank you for going easy on him. He should really think this through! Does he have any idea what the sisterhood will do to him if he hurts you in any way?!
>Scary Adler: . . .
>Lana: You stop struggling an freeze up when you feel the tip of the knife prick your skin and a single drop of blood runs down your cheek.
>Scary Adler: What else can the sisterhood do to you? Lana is expendable, you aren't.
>Lana: It slowly begins to dawn on you that you have lost control of the situation. You try to swallow your rising fear and bargain your way out of this. Maybe you were being a bit presumptuous when you said "Prime Minister". You could be his adviser, a tactician, ambassador, assassin, a spy, you're very good at sneaking up on people. You have a great many skills Adler could put to use, you could do anything, ANYTHING! You would be an astronomical benefit to have on Adler's team, no venery required!
>Scary Adler: . . .
>Lana: Panic begins to rise in your gullet as Adler slowly and gently moves the tip of the blade down your cheek creating a shallow cut. If this is about the lowfolk, you admit that you went too far! Adler has a right to be angry, you would too. But it's not your fault! You were ordered to secure Adler's cooperation "by any means necessary"! It's not like you would have actually followed through on those threats! You don't deserve this! Adler wants to do his own thing? That's fine, you'll help him. He's spreading tales of his greatness? You can help! You are really good at getting people to listen! You can speed things up by years! You can help him find that Skonk woman! You are excellent at tracking people. Not good enough? What else does he want? The sisterhood! You can spill all kinds of secrets! You don't know everything, but you know enough. All kinds of dirty laundry that would be invaluable. Still need more? You can be a double agent! Adler's ears and eyes in the sisterhood's ranks. You can tell him when they are going to make a move and warn him if he's in danger! Pure terrified tears stream from your eyes as you begin to panic and thrash around. You're sorry, by Fuma you are so sorry and you swear you'll never do it again! What does he want? You'll do it! You'll do everything he wants you to. You'll do anything! "For the love of Fuma, just don't hurt me!"
Quote
RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5

Quote:>Lana: You try and struggle out of Adler's grip, but it's like a steel ribbon. You try elbowing him, but you can't get through the railing, and when you grab at Adler's wrist you are unable to move it.

With both hands free, Lana predictably tried to grapple with me, but she could not reach through the railing. Her frantic thrashing and headbutting had no effect, and she could not loosen my arm from around her neck. All she could manage to do was push the knife away.

0803choke.gif

"STOP THAT OR I'LL BREAK YOUR DAMN NECK," I snarled, tightening my grip and pulling her hard against the railing.

"ACK," she croaked. "Killing me would be a mistake."

Quote:This one issssss not a kind-hearted person who will receive abuse and still think you can be redeemed. Maim her instead of killing her and all you have is a disabled person laser-focused on making your life hell. Kill her and she will be unable to hurt you.

"LEAVING YOU ALIVE WOULD BE A BIGGER MISTAKE," I growled. "NO LOOSE ENDS; YOU SAID SO YOURSELF."

Quote:He should really think this through! Does he have any idea what the sisterhood will do to him if he hurts you in any way?!
>Scary Adler: What else can the sisterhood do to you? Lana is expendable, you aren't.

"Do you have any idea," Lana wheezed, "what the Sisterhood will do to you if you murder me? I am one of their top agents."

"WHAT CAN THEY DO?" I chuckled menacingly. "YOU ARE A TOP AGENT, AND I BESTED YOU HANDILY. FURTHERMORE, YOU ARE EXPENDABLE BUT I AM NOT."

"You're not thinking this through," she insisted. "They won't come alone and they won't come unprepared. Mine was an exploratory mission. What I tried to do will seem like 'gentle persuasion' compared with what they'll do if you kill me. They will keep coming and they will not stop until you are destroyed. You'll never be able to sleep again. You will be in constant danger."

"IT IS THEIR CHOICE IF THEY WISH FOR THEIR ARMY OF FLOOZIES TO PERISH BY MY HAND."

"They won't just come for you," Lana continued. "Don't forget, you are trapped in Albric Tor. All of those helpful little followers that you rely on? The Sisterhood will make sure they never reach you. No more food drop-offs. You'll have to eat bugs and weeds. Your lowfolk friends? You'll be signing their death warrant. I was bluffing when I said I'd go after her, but the Sisterhood knows where Vernier lives, and you have no way to warn her or protect her. Rebecca and Lysander and all the members of your little hair cult are also closely watched. If anything happens to me, they all die. 'Ash Marten' we can deal with at our leisure. Your swarm of Ixies will be difficult to exterminate, but given time we will get rid of them too. You'll be all alone, with no-one to help you, and a cabal of unseen enemies making sure that every one of your plans ends in failure. Kill me and, to use a Frontgammon analogy, you put your game into an unwinnable state."

Blast it, she was right. I couldn't afford to start a war with the Sisterhood.

I apported the knife away so Lana wouldn't be able to recover it and use it against me.

"I'm glad you are deciding to be reasonable," she sighed with obvious relief. "Now release me and let's negotiate."

"AND GIVE UP MY ADVANTAGEOUS POSITION?" I exclaimed. "YOU HAVE YET TO LEARN WHO YOU ARE TRIFLING WITH. IT WAS A CONTEST OF WILES YOU WANTED, WASN'T IT?"

0803whammy.gif

I maintained the headlock and began to apply my Orgasmic Touch to Lana's back.

She resisted for an impressively long time, but after a few minutes her body convulsed and, with a long shuddering moan, she went limp.

0803ugotme.gif

"I have never met a mel who could do that," she sighed languidly from the step where she had collapsed. "Sheila taught you too well, methinks. At any rate, you have conquered fair and square, and I acknowledge you as my lord and master. Just as soon as I can move again, I will start serving you."

"Like you served my brother?" I snapped. "No thanks."

"Estmere was a tool. You are a true Emperor. Perhaps I was being a bit presumptuous when I said I would be Prime Minister. I could be your adviser, tactician, ambassador, assassin, spy ... I'm very good at sneaking up on people. I have a great many skills which you could put to use. I would be of astronomical benefit to your team."

"I think I'd prefer if you and the Sisterhood left me alone."

"That's disappointing, but okay. You want to do your own thing? I'll help you. I know you are trying to spread tales of your greatness. I am really good at getting people to listen. I can speed up your progress by years! I can help you find that Skönk femme you are supposed to be betrothed to. I am excellent at tracking people. I can be your liaison with the Sisterhood. We can co-ordinate our efforts and help you achieve your destiny with all of the most powerful Floozies working FOR you instead of against you! I'll do anything you want me to, and I do mean anything!"
The Ballad of Adler Young: Silly furry elf adventure. Read the RECAP: http://adleryoung.tumblr.com
Steampup: Surreal dog-headed Victorian adventure.  Winterbough Saga Wiki:  Everything we know about Faerie, its history & inhabitants.
See an edited recap of Zandar's Saga, and new pages at my Patreon.  Peruse original music at Bandcamp.
*Adorable plum-munching Mavis avatar by the incomparable Tronn.
Quote
RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5
>Adler: Yeah sure, you'll try to keep that in mind. So, are things going to escalate again or can you get back to piecing your life back together and at least pretend that your fate isn't being micromanaged by a bunch of power-hungry, self-aggrandizing old maids that think they deserve the world on a platter because they have pretty faces.
>Lana: You know, Adler should really stifle that kind of talk. If another agent besides you heard that, well it would be bad. That's not a threat, honest! That's just good advice. Plus, is it really so terrible? The Sisterhood can't be all that bad, beauty is the standard symbol for goodness, after all.
>Adler: A pretty face can hide an evil mind, and don't forget the devil was the most beautiful of all angels before he fell. But enough debating philosophy. You've had far too much of that today. So, Lana says she'll serve you. She'll go out and spread tales of your deeds, help you find this Skonk woman, and be your direct line of communication with the Sisterhood? Is that right? Will she stab you in the back like every other unseelie "ally" you've had?
>Lana: You weren't planning on stabbing him in the back.
>Adler: If the Sisterhood ordered her to, would she choose them or you.
>Lana: . . . You'd have to think about it. . .
>Adler: Yeah, that's what you thought. Well, she said she knew how to handle the time skips, so if she'd be so kind as to escort you back to the clearing WITHOUT launching you into the future, you'd very much appreciate it.
>Adler: What a roller-coaster this day has been. A lot of heavy, scary, and emotional stuff happened. You could really use something light-hearted and goofy to brighten things up.
>Rebecca: Oh, he's back! Just in time too! You had a brilliant idea to set a new trend in witchy fashion. Wearing boots on your hands and gloves on your feet! It's so edgy and subversive! You're still a bit loopy from the elfshot.
>Adler: Yeah, that'll do.

>Well, it seems with everything in place, all plans being laid, and everyone with an understanding of their roles and duties, things can fast-forward for a while and stopping at points of interest. It takes a while to organically build a following and once you master the technique to control the time-slips, it'll be even easier.

_ _ _

>Audience Member: Wait, how did Adler know what a roller-coaster was when they didn't exist back then?
>Present Adler: Because, "Shut-up." That's why.
Quote
RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5

0810confound.gif

"So," I said, irritably, "are you done? Can I get back to piecing my life together while pretending that my fate isn't being manipulated by a bunch of power-hungry, self-aggrandizing old crones who think they deserve the world on a platter just because they once had pretty faces?"

"Careful with that kind of talk," Lana murmured smugly. "Most of the Sisterhood's high council are still smoking hot. If another agent besides me heard you saying such things, well, it would be bad. That's not a threat. It's just good advice. Plus, what's wrong with beauty? Your insinuation is out of place. The Sisterhood can't be all that bad, because beauty is the standard symbol for goodness everywhere."

"A pretty face can hide an evil mind," I pointed out, quoting the Proverbs of Cellini. "But I'm not interested in debating philosophy with you. You said you would serve me. So am I to understand that you'll go out and spread tales of my deeds, help me find this Skönk femme, and be my direct line of communication with the Sisterhood? Is that right? Or will you stab me in the back like every other Unseelie ally I've had?"

"I was not planning on stabbing you in the back," Lana declared.

"If the Sisterhood ordered you to, would you?"

"Hmm," she mused. "That's a tricky one ... I think it would depend ..."

"That's what I thought," I sighed. "I need a promise from you that you will never harm me."

"You have my word," Lana smiled. "Elves don't lie, you know."

"Not good enough," I said with a scowl. "I need you to solemnly swear."

"That's not very Seelie," she smirked.

"Neither are you," I retorted. "Now swear, or you'll never leave this room. I can keep you in perpetual orgone paralysis. Is that how you want your story to end?"

"That doesn't sound so bad," Lana mused. "But no, my mission is too important. Very well, I swear before Fuma, by oak and by thorn, that I will never harm you, Adler Young. How's that?"

"It'll do. Now then, you said you knew how to handle the time skips, so your first duty is to escort me back to the clearing WITHOUT launching me into the future."

"Sorry, can't do that."

"Why not?" I demanded.

"First, I'm still paralyzed," she explained. "Second, we've moved around and a lot has changed since we came in here. This makes the calculation much more complex. And third, just no."

"You said you'd do anything I wanted!" I exclaimed.

"Yes, but I didn't say I would do EVERYTHING you wanted," Lana grinned. "Anything and everything are very different concepts. Plus you only made me swear I wouldn't hurt you. Getting rid of your pathetic lowfolk parasites certainly will not hurt you."

"CONFOUND YOU!!" I bellowed. "Fine, so I guess you want to stay paralyzed here until you starve to death then."

"I've already explained how killing me would be a bad move," she chuckled with obvious relish. "Plus you would have to stay in here and starve with me. You can't manipulate the Gate well enough to know how long you've been gone. Do you even know how much time it would take for me to recover? For all you know, I might actually be able to get up now. Can you afford to leave me in here unsupervised? I wonder if I can get into the scrying tower? I wonder how easy it would be to break its delicate scrying mechanism? Just because I can't hurt you doesn't mean I can't cause you an endless amount of trouble."

Damn it! She had outmaneuvered me again! Was there no way to escape the Sisterhood's control?

0810heaveho.gif

"Fine then," I snapped. "Out we go. I hope you're happy with the mess you've made."

"I'm quite satisfied with it so far," Lana cackled as I dragged her through the Gate.

0810forlorn.gif

On the ground just outside the dolmen were a couple of baskets and bags of rotten food, swarming with flies. I could barely hold back a tear as I thought of Vernier dutifully bringing them according to our agreed schedule, seeing the previous baskets sitting there untouched, wondering where I was and what had happened to me. It looked like three weeks' worth of food sitting there, but I could have been gone longer than that. Vernier might have simply given up and stopped coming after three weeks of seeing her deliveries going to waste.

"Good," Lana smirked as she pulled herself into a seated position against the side of the dolmen. "You must learn not to rely on lowfolk. You're an elf! Rely on yourself! And on us! Let the Sisterhood supply your needs. We just want to help you achieve your destiny."
The Ballad of Adler Young: Silly furry elf adventure. Read the RECAP: http://adleryoung.tumblr.com
Steampup: Surreal dog-headed Victorian adventure.  Winterbough Saga Wiki:  Everything we know about Faerie, its history & inhabitants.
See an edited recap of Zandar's Saga, and new pages at my Patreon.  Peruse original music at Bandcamp.
*Adorable plum-munching Mavis avatar by the incomparable Tronn.
Quote
RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5
>Adler: Fuma's sake. Please shut this smug lamb up. If you can, knock her out with your magic touch again. You could transmogrify her to be a hideous and decrepit old crone. Maybe put a geas on her so she turns into the old crone when she disobeys you and changes back to normal when she obeys you. If she bails on you to tattle to the sisterhood, her creaky old bones would make the journey a lot more treacherous and if she doesn't make it, that's her fault. If magic doesn't work, some basic plastic surgery with a dagger is a lot quicker and easier than an elaborate spell. She talks a big game about the Sisterhood bringing the hammer down on you if you harm her, but all you'd have to do to get them to back off is hold a knife to your own throat. All their plans fail without you. Plus, if the sisterhood is really as ruthless as Lana claims, if she fails her mission and she technically hasn't succeeded, it'll probably be her head on a chopping block. It is clear that she means to derail all your plans in favor of her own, so you need to find a way to get her to back off and understand that you're in charge of your destiny, not her. Otherwise, you could always put on a leash and submit to her will like a trained animal.
Quote
RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5

Quote:>Adler: Fuma's sake. Please shut this smug lamb up.

0817whyyou.gif

"Y-YOU SHUT UP!!" I screeched tearfully as I straddled Lana, pinned her wrists down with my knees, and grabbed her by the horns. "I was already working toward my destiny until you showed up and ruined everything!!"

She just scowled and blinked at me, so I shook her head and bellowed "You swore you wouldn't hurt me, and already -"

"I swore I would not harm you," she interrupted coolly. "And hurt feelings are not real harm. Show me where you're wounded. Show me how in all of Fuma's creation this so-called injury can be healed. There's no bandage, no splint, no plaster - and even if there was, where would you put it? Hate to be the one to break it to you, kiddo. You think you're the only one whose heart has ever been broken? The Sisterhood took everything from me. After I was done crying, I realized the only way to go was forward. You get over it. You grow up. You make a new future with what you have, and you don't get hurt again. Sentimentality is nothing but a weakness to be used against you."

I let go and backed away, suddenly horrified by the cold, distant look in the Floozy's eyes.

Quote:Maybe put a geas on her so she turns into the old crone when she disobeys you and changes back to normal when she obeys you. If she bails on you to tattle to the sisterhood, her creaky old bones would make the journey a lot more treacherous and if she doesn't make it, that's her fault.

"I should do something to make you as ugly on the outside as you are on the inside," I muttered. "Then people would know to be careful around you."

"Anyone with sense knows that already," she stated dully.

"I could place a geas on you so you'll turn into a hideous old crone if you disobey me," I threatened.

"Go for it," she sighed. "That geas will be difficult to construct, and 'disobedience' can be construed in so many ways, I'm sure my beauty will never be in danger. They teach sophistry at the Academy, and I got top marks."

Quote:All their plans fail without you. Plus, if the sisterhood is really as ruthless as Lana claims, if she fails her mission and she technically hasn't succeeded, it'll probably be her head on a chopping block.

"My mental health should be your highest priority," I insisted. "Without me, all of the Sisterhood's plans will fail. Since you're my contact, they will certainly hold you responsible if I give in to despair."

"If you just want to be happy and have an easy time of it," Lana explained irritably, "you should have let me use my Wiles to take your mojo. Trust me, you could wallow in constant pleasure and not have to worry about a thing. The Sisterhood was fully prepared to handle every detail for you. But NOOO, you have to have it all YOUR way."

Quote:get her to back off and understand that you're in charge of your destiny, not her.

"That's right," I snapped. "I am the destined Emperor and I - not you - I alone am in charge of my fate."

"Fine. Give me some orders so I can start obeying them."

"You're a menace," I snarled. "I don't want you anywhere near me. Your orders are to go and locate Zandar Skönk. Do NOT contact her. Do not let anyone in the Sisterhood contact her. Just find out where she is. Return here only when you have that information, and at that time the ONLY thing you will do in my presence is tell me where Zandar is."

0817saunter.gif

"Okay, Your Highness," she said cheerily, suddenly springing up from the ground and sauntering off toward the trees. "Consider it done."

0817psst.gif

"Pssst," somebody whispered as the sound of Lana's little bell receded into the distance. I turned to see Burnside peeking out from behind a menhir. "You want me to go after her?"
The Ballad of Adler Young: Silly furry elf adventure. Read the RECAP: http://adleryoung.tumblr.com
Steampup: Surreal dog-headed Victorian adventure.  Winterbough Saga Wiki:  Everything we know about Faerie, its history & inhabitants.
See an edited recap of Zandar's Saga, and new pages at my Patreon.  Peruse original music at Bandcamp.
*Adorable plum-munching Mavis avatar by the incomparable Tronn.
Quote
RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5
>Adler: As tempting as that is, it's best if Burnside doesn't go after her. Lana would probably turn Burnside inside out and brag about it.
>Burnside: Whoa, really? She can do that? Wow, she sounds like your kind of unseelie-
>Adler: You give her a look.
>Burnside: Uh, never mind. You can tell Adler's had a bad day(s?). You don't actually know how long it's been for him. What did she do to upset him so much? Besides the kidnapping, of coarse. Oh, but first you should probably bring Adler up to speed on what's going on over here.
>Adler: "Oh, let me guess." With how your life seems to work, the most likely scenario is you've been gone for hundreds and hundreds of years and the world as become a post-apocalyptic wasteland overrun by mutant peach-spiders and hordes of bandit tribes, and it's all your fault somehow because you are incapable of bringing any good to the world and your task will now be a thousand times more difficult.
>Burnside: As awesome as all that would be, no. Adler could tell the entire world wasn't a wasteland if he looked to see the Tulgey Wood is all still here. As for what actually happened and is happening: Exposition!
Quote
RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5

"I'll make lamb chops outta her," Burnside proposed when I didn't immediately say anything. "Uh, if that's what you want. Make up your mind quick. She's gettin' away."

Quote:>Adler: As tempting as that is, it's best if Burnside doesn't go after her. Lana would probably turn Burnside inside out and brag about it.
>Burnside: Whoa, really? She can do that? Wow, she sounds like your kind of unseelie-
>Adler: You give her a look.

"It's tempting," I admitted. "But no, better not. She said she would serve me, and she swore not to harm me. I gave her some orders and she might actually follow them. I'm not expecting much though."

"Pain's always a good motivator," Burnside pointed out.

"Lana Lynne would probably skin you alive and then come back here to laugh about it," I theorized. "I would prefer that she go away and stay there."

"Really? Fancy fluffy gal like that is a cold-blooded killer?"

"She's ruthless," I stated. "Pure Unseelie."

"Gosh," Burnside exclaimed. "Reckon maybe I oughta go after her so we can compare notes an' swap stories. She sounds like my kinda -"

0824erthatis.gif

"Uh, never mind," Burnside added as I gave her a warning look. "You wanna let her get away, you're the boss."

"Where did you get that blade?" I asked.

"Took it offa some rabbits. Purty nice, ain't it? They got a good blacksmith in their village."

"You've been to the rabbit village?" I asked with some surprise.

"Nope. Just guessin' from the quality o' this here machete, they must have a smith who knows his stuff."

Quote:>Adler: "Oh, let me guess." With how your life seems to work, the most likely scenario is you've been gone for hundreds and hundreds of years and the world as become a post-apocalyptic wasteland overrun by mutant peach-spiders and hordes of bandit tribes, and it's all your fault somehow because you are incapable of bringing any good to the world and your task will now be a thousand times more difficult.

"All right," I sighed. "I'm ready to hear it. How long was I gone? Let me guess. It's been centuries and the land is overrun with giant peach spiders and roaming robber bands. The rabbits have turned Bunkirk into a fort and are making weapons to defend themselves against a world that is falling apart, and all of this is somehow my fault because, well, it always is."

Quote:>Burnside: As awesome as all that would be, no. Adler could tell the entire world wasn't a wasteland if he looked to see the Tulgey Wood is all still here. As for what actually happened and is happening: Exposition!

"You sure can tell some wonderful stories," Burnside sighed. "Nice as all that sounds, unfortunately it ain't what happened. That sheep gal showed up, near as I can figure, twenty-five days ago."

"So it's only been a little over three weeks?" I asked excitedly.

"Yep."

"So Vernier has been bringing food baskets for just three weeks?"

"Yep, and she'll be by in three days time unless you want us to fetch her sooner. You see, what happened was -"

0824hurrah.gif

"OH BURNSIDE!" I giggled, picking her up and spinning happily around the stone circle. "THIS IS WONDERFUL! GOOD WORK! GREAT JOB! YOU'RE THE BEST!"

"Gosh," she gasped. "All I done was -"

0824goodwork.gif

"Win teh raccoon monster came back, I told her wat was goin on!!1!" Angela Weakflit exclaimed as she buzzed up amid a swarm of Ixies. "U C, I was crashed out in teh grass on teh side of teh dolmen & I saw wat happened."

"Good job, Angela!" I exclaimed.

"We are all proud of her for once," Typantronn declared. "It turneth out that she not only found the bell-ringing intruder, but provided the intel needed to handle the situation."

"Yep, that lil critter told me that there had been a awful fight, and a Floozy had drug you into the Gate," Burnside explained woozily. "Don't set me down yet; I reckon I'll keel over if you do. Anyways: Dangerous or not, I was fixin' to go in after you, but they pointed out I'd be lost in the time-slip too, an' our group'd be short two entire elves for however long. So I tried usin' elfmind to see if you was okay."

"You did?" I asked with some surprise.

"Don't worry darlin, I ain't good enough at it to read your thoughts. But I was able to sense that you was still alive in there. Meanwhile, Rebecca was in a awful state, so I told the Ixies to hold down the fort an' not let the crazy rabbit wander off an' get hurt, while I run back to fetch Miz Vernier."

"This is amazing," I gushed, giving Burnside a squeeze.

"You do that again, sweetie, an' I won't be finishin' this here story," she gasped. "We all agreed, considerin' as she's the one with the most sense, Vernier was de facto leader in your absence. She looked over the situation an' decided we'd continue the routine so as to make it look like we had no idea what had happened, so when that Floozy (a obvious enemy) come back out the gate, she'd be none the wiser an' go on thinkin' that she had put one over on us. We packed Rebecca on home, where Vernier's been nursin' her back to health. Me an' the Ixies've been sorta stakin' out the circle, watchin' for you to emerge, an' reportin' to Vernier every few days."

"WONDERFUL!" I exclaimed, squeezing Burnside again and kissing her.

She let out a long, shuddering sigh and went limp in my arms.

"Do I get 1??" Angela squeaked eagerly.
The Ballad of Adler Young: Silly furry elf adventure. Read the RECAP: http://adleryoung.tumblr.com
Steampup: Surreal dog-headed Victorian adventure.  Winterbough Saga Wiki:  Everything we know about Faerie, its history & inhabitants.
See an edited recap of Zandar's Saga, and new pages at my Patreon.  Peruse original music at Bandcamp.
*Adorable plum-munching Mavis avatar by the incomparable Tronn.
Quote
RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5
>Adler: Considering how Angela gets such sever attacks of the vapors at the mere thought of such things, a peck on the cheek might actually cause her head to explode. A gentle and platonic pat on the head with a hearty "good job" should be alright.
>Angela: Eeeeeeeee! Physical contact! The two of you are practically lovers now! So romantic! It's like all your hopes and dreams are coming true!
>Ixies: Quickly! Use the sedative to knock her out before she has another episode!
>Adler: . . . Yeah, you definitely need to find a way to fix this before she gives herself a brain aneurysm or something.
>Burnside: You are out cold.
>Typantronn: Well, now that Adler is back safe and sound, what are his orders?
>Adler: You have to admit that you are pleasantly surprised that the ixies weren't exchanging bet winnings when you got back. Did they not bet on your capture at all.
>Typantronn: You were all too concerned about Adler's well being to exchange bets. But now that he mentions it... Since he's back and no worse for wear, you'll all need to make up for lost time.
>Adler: Guh, you shouldn't have said anything. Ahem. Yes, your orders. You would like to speak to Vernier at her earliest convenience to congratulate her for handling the situation so expertly, to check up on Rebecca's condition, establish that your plans have not changed, and to compensate her for the resources she used to keep up the ruse. Also, privately, you wouldn't mind any excuse to speak to her whenever possible.
>Typantronn: He's getting the goo-goo eyes again. Darn, that would have made a good bet.
Quote
RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5

Quote:>Adler: Considering how Angela gets such sever attacks of the vapors at the mere thought of such things, a peck on the cheek might actually cause her head to explode. A gentle and platonic pat on the head with a hearty "good job" should be alright.
>Angela: Eeeeeeeee! Physical contact! The two of you are practically lovers now! So romantic! It's like all your hopes and dreams are coming true!

"Er, I'm a little concerned about protocol," I demurred. "Not to mention our extreme size difference. Hold still." I extended my finger and gently patted Angela on the head, with a heartfelt "Good job."

0831patpat.gif

"OMGGGGG!!1!!!" she squealed. "Hes touching me! Were practically lovers now!"

Quote:>Ixies: Quickly! Use the sedative to knock her out before she has another episode!
>Adler: . . . Yeah, you definitely need to find a way to fix this before she gives herself a brain aneurysm or something.
>Burnside: You are out cold.

"Time to go lie down," several Ixies said as Angela began to giggle and convulse. They gently grabbed her and escorted her away.

0831zonked.gif

I turned to make a comment to Burnside but saw that she was crumpled on the ground in some sort of daze. I hadn't even used the Orgasmic Touch on her. Was my Mojo really that powerful? Maybe I should tone it down somehow ... but then again, Vernier didn't react that way to me, and neither had Lana Lynne.

Quote:>Typantronn: Well, now that Adler is back safe and sound, what are his orders?
>Adler: You have to admit that you are pleasantly surprised that the ixies weren't exchanging bet winnings when you got back. Did they not bet on your capture at all.
>Typantronn: You were all too concerned about Adler's well being to exchange bets. But now that he mentions it... Since he's back and no worse for wear, you'll all need to make up for lost time.
>Adler: Guh, you shouldn't have said anything. Ahem. Yes, your orders. You would like to speak to Vernier at her earliest convenience to congratulate her for handling the situation so expertly, to check up on Rebecca's condition, establish that your plans have not changed, and to compensate her for the resources she used to keep up the ruse. Also, privately, you wouldn't mind any excuse to speak to her whenever possible.

"What are thy orders, Sire?" Typantronn inquired, interrupting my reverie.

"At ease, Commander," I said, holding up my hand for her to land on. "All of that hovering must be exhausting."

"We are used to it," she grunted as she alighted in my palm.

0831typantalk.gif

"I'm pleasantly surprised that I didn't see you all frantically collecting your winnings when I emerged from the gate. Did you not bet on my capture and how soon I would escape?"

"We were too worried to place wagers, but now that thou mentionest it ... verily we missed a lot of opportunities. We shall have to make up for lost time now that thou art back and safe."

"There's no hurry on that," I stated, regretting that I had brought up the subject at all. "Right now I would like to speak to Vernier as soon as possible, so that I can commend her on her excellent handling of the situation. I also want a full report on Rebecca's condition. Furthermore, I want to discuss our plans and make sure we are all co-ordinated and on the right track. Additionally I need to compensate her for the resources she spent maintaining this ruse."

Plus it will be wonderful to see her, I thought.

"He hath the goo-goo eyes again," an Ixie observed. "Two aphids sayeth he -"

"We were instructed to bet only on mission-related matters," Typantronn barked, with a warning look at the other Ixie.
The Ballad of Adler Young: Silly furry elf adventure. Read the RECAP: http://adleryoung.tumblr.com
Steampup: Surreal dog-headed Victorian adventure.  Winterbough Saga Wiki:  Everything we know about Faerie, its history & inhabitants.
See an edited recap of Zandar's Saga, and new pages at my Patreon.  Peruse original music at Bandcamp.
*Adorable plum-munching Mavis avatar by the incomparable Tronn.
Quote
RE: The Ballad of Adler Young, Canto 2.5
>Adler: You wait patiently as a detachment of ixies go to fetch Vernier. The ixies that stayed to guard you bemoan that they cannot place bets on how long it takes Burnside to wake up. They claim those were always the most exciting. You vaguely remember hearing that it takes 21 days to break a bad habit. And since you were gone about 3 weeks that's close to the mark. Obviously their gambling addiction goes deeper if they are still going through withdrawals. Or was it that it takes 21 days to start a good habit. Hmmm... Maybe you could test your powers by magicking up a book on the subject.
>Adler: Some time passes as you try to conjure up a book on how to deal with addictions, either from nothing or without knowing where one is. You are not having much luck, until...
>Vernier: You push your way through the overgrowth into the clearing, upon seeing Adler you call out to him, ecstatic to see that he is alive and well.
>Adler: You are immediately excited to see Vernier so excited to see you. So excited, in fact, that you summon a massive pile of books. Directly above you.
>Vernier: You rush over to help dig Adler out from under a giant pile of books.
Quote