Pathfinding: An Adult Choose Your Own Adventure, Eighty-seventh Entry

Story by Gideon Kalve Jarvis on SoFurry

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#88 of Pathfinding-CYOA

Once more, we charge forward to try tackling two things at once. Or perhaps three, if you count rallying both humans and halflings to our side as separate activities. If all goes well, the land and its people will be ours to command!

(Let's not talk about what happens if we fail)

Pathfinding: An Adult Choose Your Own Adventure

Eighty-seventh Entry

By Gideon Kalve Jarvis

Vote Tallies

1 - Diplomacy -

2 - Surgical Strike - 1

3 - Attack! -

4 - Claim the Land - 6

5 - Rally the Levies - 18

  • humans - 1

  • halflings - 8

Additional Votes

Feel free to make additional scene suggestions within the context of the present line of the plot. Also, if you think of a strategy that hasn't been included in the voting options, feel free to suggest it, so others can vote on its use.

Vote Options in progress

* More Hanaro sex scenes (Rufus and Urtan primarily)

* Rael/Erlend romance, Erlend character development

Author Notes

Overwhelming support for getting the locals on our side. Which makes good sense, when you think about it: they actually live here, while we're just passing through. Who better to give us a hand?

Pathfinding Eighty-seventh Entry

"I heard that halflings were shy," remarked Adel as she looked around the hilly meadowland where she and her scant companions walked, "but I had no idea they were quite _this_shy."

"Shy and secretive," agreed Spark with a bright smile, his bushy tail wagging. "I wouldn't worry too much, though: they're here, and if they feel like approaching us, they will."

Picking Adel for this job had been the most obvious choice. Not only was she a skilled diplomat, a talented strategist, and excellent at negotiations, she was also quite small of stature. When you were talking to a people roughly half the size of an average human, height could make all the difference.

With Adel were only a very few others, the group small so as to keep the chances of spooking away the little people to a minimum. Spark had been selected for his pleasant demeanor: no matter how tall a foxling might be, very few of them were especially intimidating. Also along were Imogen, and where the young unicorn went so went her best friend, Wisselfleur, even though the hippogryph girl's sharp beak did look a bit intimidating. Finally, trailing along at the rear of the party, was Ryg, resting her hand on the unicorn girl's shoulder, making it quite clear that she was blind. Playing up Ryg's disability was a calculated move, of course, since Ryg was perfectly capable of sensing the world around her through the help of her air and earth spirits. Since she was a wolfen, however, it was important that she portray herself as less capable than she actually was; halflings were well-known for being suspicious of the carnivorous beastfolk, even more than they suspected other Big Folk (as they called anyone taller than a dwarf). While Cassidy would have made a good addition to the party, he needed sleep after his mission of the night before, and was presently sacked out in his tent.

"I'm sure the halflings are around here," said Imogen as she looked around, her horn glowing faintly. "I'd heard tell of their presence in these parts, and," she closed her eyes, "I can sense life very close by..."

"Closer than you think, one-horn," said a gruff voice to Adel's side. She only started to turn before she saw the glint of bright arrows thrust out from the tall grass of the meadows and scant underbrush, could see the camouflage-painted faces of the halfling warriors all around them, their loose clothes bedecked in tufts of grass and moss, making them blend into their surroundings with near perfection. Perhaps Cassidy could have noticed them before they'd snuck up on Adel's party, and maybe Rufus could have had a chance as well, but they were the only two who'd have even had that chance, however slim.

"What's your business in our land, missy?" came the gruff voice again, and now Adel saw a slightly taller halfling man step out of the underbrush, sporting heavy sideburns that thrust out from beneath his broad-brimmed, weed-bedecked hat. "Speak fast: I'm not a patient man."

"We're here to get your help fighting the Warlord," Adel replied immediately, seeing no point in anything but total honesty with these obviously plainspoken folk. "You're the best experts on knowing the land in these parts, and without you, we'd almost certainly have a much harder time of it. After all, having command of the terrain is a key to victory."

"What you say is true," the dour-faced halfling male admitted, allowing a little pride to creep into his voice. "But what makes you think we'd be inclined to help you? After all, the Warlord's done nothing against us as yet. Personally, I'm inclined to think she'll simply pass us by if we don't aggravate her."

"That's what Two-Hills thought," said Ryg, stepping forward, the halflings momentarily tensing, their bows and spears ready, until they saw the milk-whites of Ryg's eyes, and relaxed, realizing she was blind. "And Varius. And Treesight. The Warlord crushed them all."

"Yes, I suppose you've got a point there," the halfling man said with a slight shrug. "But then, those were human villages, weren't they? Hardly fit for hiding themselves and waiting out the storm. Not like we halflings. No, not by far."

"For how long?" asked Adel, taking the offensive, no longer addressing the halfling squad leader alone, but his followers as well. "How long can you hide yourselves from sight, from sound, from scent? How long are you willing to live in terror of the patrols of the Warlord's monstrous forces? How long must you keep your children indoors, not allowing them to ever play in the sun, for fear that they'll bring doom down on an entire village? Because if the Warlord wins, that's exactly what you'll have to do. For years, perhaps, or even decades."

"We're a long-lived folk," said the halfling leader, though even his dour face showed doubt now. "We've weathered worse, surely."

"But do you have to weather this trial?" Adel pressed. "Why should you, when you can help to stop the Warlord from taking power in the first place? Besides, our army will be doing the bulk of the fighting. Your people, the stour," and here she used one of the local names by which the halflings called themselves, a term that immediate made several of the camouflaged warriors nod, impressed at Adel's knowledge of their people, "are the key to making this land hospitable to our army, and inhospitable to the Warlord's."

"They're doughty fighters, Cleb," another male halfling spoke up, stepping out from the grass to stand beside his squad leader. "My sons saw her and the big wolf she was with fighting trolls. They handled those wart-faced buggers right handily. I recognize her from their description...though they made her out to be taller, which is why I didn't recognize her at the start."

"You're the ones what saved me daughter?" the squad leader said with a blink, looking to Adel with an expression of newfound admiration. "She's been me pride and joy since her mother died." His sour-faced expression wavered, then cracked, and he heaved a long sigh. "All right, come with me: I'm taking you back to our village. The elders have been all in an uproar over what to do since these orcs and goblins and worse have been tromping all over our land. Maybe they'll listen to you. Provided you've got a pretty enough speech for 'em, that is."

Adel smiled and gave the lead halfling a polite curtsy, before falling into step behind him, her four friends only moments after. She did, indeed, have a speech ready.

[80% chance to convince the halflings to help us - rolled 24 - success!]


"Why couldn't we have left the imp back at camp?" Lesage grumbled in Rufus' ear. The grey-furred wolfen just grinned at the angelgirl's complaint, before he stepped forward into the middle of the circle of high tables ringing the room. Normally it would have taken at least a week, and more likely a month, in order to gather so many important personages into a single room...well, important in their own minds, at least, for they were the mayors and burgomasters of a few dozen scattered townships, hamlets, and villages for miles around. But while they had little clout in the grand political scheme, or even in the daily lives of the farmers and craftfolk under their ostensible rule, all the same, they were the leaders of their people in times of violence, and they demanded respect. Right now was a time of extreme crisis, and the people were panicking, so where normally these minor officials would have dithered endlessly before allowing themselves to be drawn together in a united counsel, the sheer weight of their peoples' anxieties had forced them together with astonishing speed.

"Would you care to tell us," began a paunchy fellow with a neatly-groomed beard that had once been red in days long past, but was now a bleached-looking yellow that was rapidly turning white, "why we should bother listening to the entreaties of a...person such as yourself?" There was a murmur of assent around the high tables at the man's words, for beastfolk like Rufus were hardly well-liked by the humans who possessed much of the local land. "We are citizens of the great and ever-independent Coutraman Confederacy, and I assure you, our ancestors have been through far worse challenges than a mere Warlord. We would hardly be able to face them in the afterlife if we couldn't do as well as they."

"Your ancestors were also wise enough to accept aid when it was offered, and needed," answered Rufus smoothly, while casually - so very, very casually - opening a small bag hanging from his waist. Of course, it only seemed to rustle with movement: after all, there wasn't anything to be seen either inside of it or crawling out. "And it is needed right now, I promise you, as my companions will attest."

The tall wolf stepped to the side, opening his hand, allowing two hooded figures to walk past him, while Lesage came up behind the figures, keeping her wings tucked close to her body, so as not to brush them against anyone. When the first of the cloaked figures pulled back her hood, the council gasped in astonishment: it was the young second-in-command of the knights who'd sallied forth to battle the Warlord, and not been heard from since. Now, however, she wore the insignia of a captain, rather than a lieutenant.

"Gentleladies and gentlemen," the dark-skinned woman addressed the assembled lordlings, "our situation is most dire indeed." And soon she told what had happened to her forces, how her captain had been taken prisoner by the Warlord, how the forces arrayed against them were massive, and she doubted if the forces available from Avalon City, or even the chief cities of the Coutraman Confederacy itself, could provide the help they needed in time.

"But...but if this is so," blustered the pale-whiskered man, at first obviously deeply concerned, even frightened as he started to rise, at the words spoken by the young knight, though his expression started to change rather abruptly to one of confusion as he seated himself once more, "then how can your army hope to change things, Mister Rufus Redeye?"

Rufus let a very slight smirk play across his face as he heard the soft rustling of silk pantaloons being subtly undone beneath a table, and then motioned to the other cloaked figure with me.

"Dear leaders of the human lands, General Wintersteel."

All the officials there gasped at hearing the name of such a legendary military leader as the elven general. All, that is, except for the pale-whiskered mayor who'd made himself their chief through sheer weight of personality as well as blackmail and wealth. He remained where he was, his face growing steadily more red in the cheeks, little trickles of sweat running down his brow. General Wintersteel let the hood fall back from his fine-boned face, his long, white hair flowing out behind him, reaching nearly to his waist, and surveyed the room, before he began to speak.

The words that General Wintersteel used were hard for anyone there to really ever recall in times to come. There was something mystical about them, something strange and fey and powerful. They were less words, and more an impression painted with words, words spoken not to the ears, but to the soul. It was General Wintersteel who spoke of hope, of the possibility of victory, of the need for the human villages to unite and aid his army in overcoming the threat of the Overlord. Their own knight captain had sunk them into deeper despair, almost enough for them to surrender. General Wintersteel fired their souls, and inspired their hearts.

Even so, the leader of the table might have resisted even General Wintersteel, for his position as leader of the council would have surely been compromised. But when it came to a vote to give the great elven general their support, the pale whiskered council leader simply raised his own hand in perfunctory fashion, hardly seeming to have heard a thing.

As Rufus strode out of the council hall, he glanced down into the bag. There, he could see a tiny, red-skinned figure, beautiful in her nudity, her belly quite swollen. She burped, then covered her mouth.

"Excuse me," said the succubus imp, wiping away a light "milk" moustache. "He was a lot more productive than most men his age I've known."

"The humans in these parts are healthy sorts," agreed Rufus with a smirk, mostly ignoring the glare Lesage gave him at even speaking to the little demonette. "You did well, imp."

[60% chance to get the humans on our side - rolled 8 - success!]


The Warlord stood at the foot of her tent, frowning up at the glowering skies. Her own magic had predicted a bight day, filled with sunshine and light winds. Perfect for her armies to advance. Now, however, she could already feel the first drops of rain, could taste the ozone of coming lightning in the air.

"Tell the troops to buckle down for the storm," she commanded a nearby peon, before glaring once more up at the traitor sky. "There's something amiss here, something I hadn't expected," she added under her breath, before returning to her tent.

Little could the Warlord have known, but it wasn't just the weather than had suddenly turned sour on her. All across the meadows and hills and vales of the fertile lands on the road to Avalon City, traps and deadfalls and ambushes were being set, ready to doom her unwary troops. Had she known of this development, however, she would have been even more livid to know that, unlike her own camp, no rain fell on the defenders as they did their work.

Sometimes life just wasn't fair to conquering hordes.

[70% chance to prepare the land - rolled 13 - success!]

Path Choices

Remember: we need a total of three (3) successes with either Diplomacy or Attack! In order to overcome the Warlord. These successes do not have to be of one or the other - we can mix the two.

1) Diplomacy - Our chances are now up to 40% if we want to talk things over with the Warlord. Successful attacks will surely encourage this number higher, once she sees the danger of possible loss.

2) Surgical Strike - 65% is our new chance of success - we own the land and its people, now! Well, probably, anyway.

3) Attack! - With so much in readiness for our use, we have a 50% chance of winning any direct conflict.

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