The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #91
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    Aurishalq straightens up. "That's unusually noble of you. I wouldn't have expected someone outside Keiko's cult to..." She really is impressed with Steven not leading people on like so many religions do.
    "All the same. Inari offers community and inner peace. We can do better! You can do better. And if all you need is some marketing help-"
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  2. - Top - End - #92
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    Default Re: Foxside: The Temple of Inari 56 - Rice, Wine, and Spell Slots

    [Sanctuary]

    Steven blinks.
    "To what, Ma'am?
    But, what do you think I should do? I preach for Tamamo and I have for a few years now, but you have been doing it for centuries more, I'm sure. What is it about to you, that you tell those of...where are you from again? What do you think I should market as?"
    Spako Highclaws by Ceika.

    [Sorry Boss, but as always, I get the last word.]

  3. - Top - End - #93
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    "Ah, I'd forgotten how young you still were." The priestess exclaims, though she looks a little sad.

    "The importance of making sure people know what they're getting. People can get in a lot of trouble joining a church for the wrong reasons."
    "Now, we come from -"


    "It's called Sentus when we go off-world, miss."
    "Right, right. We're from Sentus. And I don't suppose you know anything about what or where that is. Suffice to say we have some unusual advantages there. But just now, we came from the Nexus's shadow plane. And my point is, you need to focus on what makes your congregation different."
    Aurishalq waits for Steven to fill that in. His perspective should be interesting.
    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    Recaiden, stop using your mastery of the English language to confuse the issue.
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  4. - Top - End - #94
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    Default Re: Foxside: The Temple of Inari 56 - Rice, Wine, and Spell Slots

    [Sanctuary]

    Steven, sadly, doesn't have any meaningful information on that realm.

    "Our congregation is diverse. Right now we're almost entirely werefox, nogitsune, and shadow Vulpan, though that's more than some of our sister temples. The Nexus itself has its own charms, but I figure we're trying to appeal to the people already there. Well, we offer some more stability than the city as a whole. We're more loose in doctrine than Inari's, which happens when you have folk that are just a bit more wild and reclusive than others. And prank-happy, on some days. And we're rather unique in the frequency of the nine-tails' visits from what I understand." Steven tries to list things. It's difficult.
    Spako Highclaws by Ceika.

    [Sorry Boss, but as always, I get the last word.]

  5. - Top - End - #95
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    Aurishalq shakes her head. Maybe it should be difficult for him, seeing things from the Inside as he does.

    "Inari's might have the advantage of numbers, but in a place like this, your membership is still mostly the people who come in by default? That's no good. Not that I don't appreciate them each, but it's not encouraging, you know? Besides the red vulpans and the kitsune, Inari's has fenethi, pokemon, elves, humans, nameless-faceless-monsters, dragons and giant spiders... I see the problem; you don't know yourselves!"

    "But you're starting in the right direction. Here in the shadows, you're more accepting. Somehow, given that Inari accepts pretty much everything, we have a hard-earned reputation for being even more liberal... You have a different type of magic: the mysteries of the shadow. You have a closer connection to your goddess and her Messengers; The Mother of Foxes can be so busy, and the first foxes so overworked. You have the example of a heroine ascending to the heavens; that speaks to a lot of people. You have the endless grandeur of the night, a quiet restive perfect world full of possibilities, enigmas, comforts. You have a community of free associates and partners, devotion without obligation. And most of all-"


    The giantess reaches down to pick up Steven and toss him into the air before catching him again.
    "-you have a sense of humor! You do, don't you?"
    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    He takes normality and reason and turns them UP TO 11!
    ~Inner Circle~
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    Recaiden, stop using your mastery of the English language to confuse the issue.
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  6. - Top - End - #96
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    Default Re: Foxside: The Temple of Inari 56 - Rice, Wine, and Spell Slots

    [Sanctuary]

    Steven yelps in a most embarrassing manner as he's tossed into the air and finds himself in the giant's arms.
    "Um...yes, Ma'am. Although I admit Arlem has told me that I could try harder to think like Keiko in that regard. I haven't quite grasped the fine line of taking my job seriously and being as 'fun' as the nogitsune expect of me." he admits, trying to be entirely truthful while at the giant lady's mercy.
    Spako Highclaws by Ceika.

    [Sorry Boss, but as always, I get the last word.]

  7. - Top - End - #97
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    The giantess steps over and sets Steven down atop the altar, between the Inari-statue and the mirror, but stays looming over him.
    "That's too serious a way to think! Don't worry about the line. Blur it. Step over it! You're so responsible already: married, running a temple, studying and teaching. Have some fun while you still can!"
    "I don't actually have centuries on you. Merely decades. I'm just very good -thanks to Saint Katrina, I imagine- or very lucky."
    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    He takes normality and reason and turns them UP TO 11!
    ~Inner Circle~
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    Recaiden, stop using your mastery of the English language to confuse the issue.
    Echidna by Serpentine

  8. - Top - End - #98
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    Default Re: Foxside: The Temple of Inari 56 - Rice, Wine, and Spell Slots

    [Sanctuary]

    Steven blinks.
    "Wait, which Katrina? We have one in our gardener staff, very nice vixen. Is it a common name in your realm?
    And well, I don't know. I just can't be the mischievous vixen I think some people expect when they think of the leader of Tamamo's temple. I think they sometimes get let down that I'm a serious-faced fox. I'm afraid I'm just not good at loosening up sometimes."
    he admits.
    Spako Highclaws by Ceika.

    [Sorry Boss, but as always, I get the last word.]

  9. - Top - End - #99
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    "Oh, yes, it is-"
    Kantick visibly winces. "Miss..."
    "Ah, it is a common name, one of those that catches on, you know, on account of people naming children after people with the same name, you know, ah..." Aurishalq transitions lamely, barely not admitting that she does mean the same person.

    "Ah, look, Steven. You may never have had the chance to be the perfect head priestess. But that doesn't mean you can't try your best. That's all we can ask of you."

    "But perhaps you can learn to loosen up? People do change." suggests the sand-fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    He takes normality and reason and turns them UP TO 11!
    ~Inner Circle~
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    Recaiden, stop using your mastery of the English language to confuse the issue.
    Echidna by Serpentine

  10. - Top - End - #100
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    Default Re: Foxside: The Temple of Inari 56 - Rice, Wine, and Spell Slots

    [Sanctuary]

    Steven suspects he might be getting into some space/time oddity here and quickly drops the subject.
    "Well, I could easily swap to being head priestess but that wouldn't exactly make me any more qualified." he says, joking but seriously testing if Aurishalq is one of those people who thinks they'd be better off with a vixen in charge.
    "I could certainly try, but it's not exactly something that can be taught, is it? What do you normally do with your congregation, Ma'am?"
    Spako Highclaws by Ceika.

    [Sorry Boss, but as always, I get the last word.]

  11. - Top - End - #101
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    "Technically? Maybe not. Not every vixen is suitable to leadership, but, it would probably help."
    Aurishalq smiles and goes to tap the side of Steven's head.

    "Maybe it can be taught, maybe not, but you can certainly learn. As for the congregation, the first thing is to get to know them, as well as you can. So you can present them with suitable challenges, play matchmaker well, understand their troubles."
    "The second thing is to keep them on their toes. Hand out the proper nicknames, swap jobs and faces, go with them on their journeys. Rig contests, spread rumors, hide clues - not too subtle, now - and generally make sure that there's always something going on."
    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    He takes normality and reason and turns them UP TO 11!
    ~Inner Circle~
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    Recaiden, stop using your mastery of the English language to confuse the issue.
    Echidna by Serpentine

  12. - Top - End - #102
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    Default Re: Foxside: The Temple of Inari 56 - Rice, Wine, and Spell Slots

    [Sanctuary]

    Steven shifts into a vixen out of spite, taking on a shape similar to Katrina's since she was talked about, though he keeps his face resembling his own. Her robes don't fit her feminine shape overly well, but it's no problem if a little more 'skin' is showing.
    She looks at the giant expectantly, as if to illustrate how she isn't any more qualified at her position.

    "Playing matchmaker is mostly Katrina's thing. I don't disapprove of it, but it seems like an invasion of privacy for me to do so at my rank. I don't really know what kind of nicknames are proper...and do you mean to swap their jobs or mine?" it sounds an awful lot like Aurishalq wants Steven to be some sort of spymaster. She's just not conniving like that.
    Spako Highclaws by Ceika.

    [Sorry Boss, but as always, I get the last word.]

  13. - Top - End - #103
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    "At what rank is it no longer an invasion of privacy...?" Asks the fenethi, baffled by that particular objection.

    Aurishalq completely misses the point Steven wanted to make, instead nodding approvingly.
    "You certainly look the part more now. That's good. Stay that way."

    "Now, your temple is bigger, so I don't know that exactly the same things would work, but surely you see what I'm getting at, and can have ideas of your own. I mean their jobs, and don't worry about proper."

    Spys are highly associated with shadows. It's a very fitting role for a priestess like Steven.
    "You don't have to start with subtle stuff if that's not you. But make changes, get the pulse of the temple!"
    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    He takes normality and reason and turns them UP TO 11!
    ~Inner Circle~
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    Recaiden, stop using your mastery of the English language to confuse the issue.
    Echidna by Serpentine

  14. - Top - End - #104
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    Default Re: Foxside: The Temple of Inari 56 - Rice, Wine, and Spell Slots

    [Sanctuary]

    Steven doesn't look happy at Aurishalq's suggestion to stay that way, missing the point entirely.
    "Is that an order, ma'am?" she asks with some mild frustration. Though really it would be problematic because if it was she'd have to actually do it. At least until she could find out if Aurishalq is an actual rank 6 priestess, if she has juristiction to give Steven orders, or can get someone higher rank to belay it.

    "I can try to be more active and meddling if that's really what the other head priestesses do. I suppose I'll need some way to combine that with the marketing you suggest. What kind of recruitment methods do you use?" she asks.
    Spako Highclaws by Ceika.

    [Sorry Boss, but as always, I get the last word.]

  15. - Top - End - #105
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    "Yes. Is that a problem, miss? You doubt me?"
    Aurishalq's ears prick forward, concerned.
    Steven asks what she does and then complains about it when she hears the answer? How's that?
    "Oh, here."
    "These robes in grey and grey, are still quite nice.
    But now the fit is imprecise.
    For this new Steve
    Reweave
    "

    The robes should stretch and shrink in all the right places to fit the disguised Steven.

    "Be sure to ask your own marketing expert." begins the wolf-fox. "You want an obvious path to, well, convert people from visitors, to attendees, to part of the community. Once you help them, let them help you. Keep it personal. Then you've gotta know what's good about different positions, what kind of people would be happy there. And look into the broader community. There's sure to be fox social groups and shadow organizations that don't even know about you. Change that."
    "That's a start."
    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    He takes normality and reason and turns them UP TO 11!
    ~Inner Circle~
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    Recaiden, stop using your mastery of the English language to confuse the issue.
    Echidna by Serpentine

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    Default Re: Foxside: The Temple of Inari 56 - Rice, Wine, and Spell Slots

    [Sanctuary]

    Somewhere, there's a blip on a divine registry as "Head Priest Steven Primerra" is temporarily replaced with "Head Priestess Stephanie Primerra."

    Stephanie will have to experiment with what leeway she has with these orders, as she'd rather not be going around with one of the most recognizable bodies in the Temple, even if she does have her own face. What will Katrina herself think?
    "Thank you, Ma'am. I will take all your advice to heart. Was there anything else I can help you with, or did you simply want to speak to myself and Matthew and Arlem?" she asks, hoping she can get this giantess out of her shrine before she also tells her to take another spouse, grow some extra limbs, or anything equally crazy to insisting she simply flip her personality and appearance. Besides, she has to speak to Arlem about belaying Aurishalq's orders now.
    Spako Highclaws by Ceika.

    [Sorry Boss, but as always, I get the last word.]

  17. - Top - End - #107
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    Well, there's surely plenty she can do to hide that body. But even if not, there's plenty of precedent for temple leaders shamelessly stealing the appearance of others.

    "That's all for now, thank you Steven. I'll be going to see Matthew, but I'm sure I'll want to see you again before we leave. Good luck!" And the giantess flounces out into the arboretum, giving Steven an important chance!
    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    He takes normality and reason and turns them UP TO 11!
    ~Inner Circle~
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    Recaiden, stop using your mastery of the English language to confuse the issue.
    Echidna by Serpentine

  18. - Top - End - #108
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    Default Re: Foxside: The Temple of Inari 56 - Rice, Wine, and Spell Slots

    [Sanctuary]

    Steph goes to find Arlem, both to ask his advice and give him fair warning.
    Spako Highclaws by Ceika.

    [Sorry Boss, but as always, I get the last word.]

  19. - Top - End - #109
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    One can...eventually...find Arlem out in the serious gardens, preaching to the spiders of the field.
    Hello Steven. Wonderful day, isn't it? I see you're practicing your shapechanging, good, good. Hmm? A time-warped priestess of the ninetails? Well, I can see how that would be unsettling, wouldn't it?
    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    Recaiden, stop using your mastery of the English language to confuse the issue.
    Echidna by Serpentine

  20. - Top - End - #110
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    Default Re: Foxside: The Temple of Inari 56 - Rice, Wine, and Spell Slots

    [Sanctuary]

    "Yes, well, she's probably tearing into poor Matthew right now. Fair warning, she might be nicer to you if you settle on a female form while around her. She's already ordered me to 'stay this way' for the foreseeable future. As well as...other things."
    Other things which Arlem should probably know about instantly as they still flitter through Steph's head. There's also the obvious desire for Arlem to tell Steph she doesn't actually have to follow that order, since Arlem does outrank Aurishalq in his own grounds.
    "She has insisted that the Temple would be far better off if I was a meddling, mischievous vixen instead of my actual self. You don't think that, do you Arlem?" she asks, nervous because she's entertaining the idea that the giant vulpan might be right.
    Spako Highclaws by Ceika.

    [Sorry Boss, but as always, I get the last word.]

  21. - Top - End - #111
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    Given Stephanie's warning, Arlem turns from -whatever he was before- into a approximately an extra-feminine version of the visiting priestess. Unlike some people here, she has no wardrobe troubles along the way.

    Good to know. Wouldn't want to start off on the wrong foot. Hmm, you know, I think long-term shapeshifting practice could help you, honestly. As for meddling, well, it is more suitable for your office. But tell me, do you remember the last time your wife tried scheming and meddling?
    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
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    ~Inner Circle~
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    Recaiden, stop using your mastery of the English language to confuse the issue.
    Echidna by Serpentine

  22. - Top - End - #112
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    Default Re: Foxside: The Temple of Inari 56 - Rice, Wine, and Spell Slots

    [Gardens]

    "What, you mean actually stay like this? But how am I going to practice shifting if I'm locked into this shape?" Steph says, surprised and a little afraid of Arlem's implications. What will people think, suddenly doing a 180 and being a slightly plump, attractive vixen? She's not even sure if Caroline is bi or not!
    "I don't, honestly." Probably because Caroline is probably even worse than her husband, and it failed so badly that it's not even memorable.
    Spako Highclaws by Ceika.

    [Sorry Boss, but as always, I get the last word.]

  23. - Top - End - #113
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    "Steven...Stephanie? This is shifting practice. You know, I was once locked in a shape for almost a year? You'll be fine. Stick to small cosmetic changes. At least till the pilgrims have left." Surely that won't be too long.

    "Well, the details don't matter. My point is: we have traditions for a reason. Sometimes, admittedly, it's a bad reason. But usually not. Why wouldn't the temple be better off if you ran it in a more typically nogitsune way? Can you tell me?"
    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    He takes normality and reason and turns them UP TO 11!
    ~Inner Circle~
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    Recaiden, stop using your mastery of the English language to confuse the issue.
    Echidna by Serpentine

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    Default Re: Foxside: The Temple of Inari 56 - Rice, Wine, and Spell Slots

    [Gardens]

    Steph looks away, embarrassed. "No, I can't, Arlem." she admits. If she had counter-points to Aurishalq, Steph wouldn't be here, wondering if she was right, now would she?
    Spako Highclaws by Ceika.

    [Sorry Boss, but as always, I get the last word.]

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    Default [Gardens]

    Arlem doesn't tell Stephanie that this had been a test. Because turns out, she failed.

    "Well, I can't very well countermand Aurishalq's instructions then. It might be difficult to adjust, but I think she's right."
    She pauses a moment to gauge the shadow priestess's reaction.
    Last edited by Recaiden; 2018-04-05 at 09:27 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    He takes normality and reason and turns them UP TO 11!
    ~Inner Circle~
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    Recaiden, stop using your mastery of the English language to confuse the issue.
    Echidna by Serpentine

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    Default Re: Foxside: The Temple of Inari 56 - Rice, Wine, and Spell Slots

    [Gardens]

    "But Arlem, surely not all of it." Namely, Steph refuses to believe that Arlem would honestly think that her apparent gender would be a serious qualifying point. Especially since Arlem's changes hourly.
    "It's just not feasible for me to do these things. I'm..." too self-conscious to tease people, not arrogant enough to think she knows best for them, even well-meaning arrogant, too terrified of what people think. And too stuck in her self-image as a studious guy who stays out of trouble.
    "She assures me that it works for others, but I don't have any proof it'll work in the Nexus, and that's my only defense. I can't say that she's wrong, because the temple is having trouble, and I don't have any solutions myself."
    Spako Highclaws by Ceika.

    [Sorry Boss, but as always, I get the last word.]

  27. - Top - End - #117
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    "Obviously it doesn't actually matter whether you're a vixen or not - but it is good practice."

    Arlem shrinks down to Stephanie-size, though she remains a wolf-beast.
    "If you don't know it won't work, try it. Maybe I could help show you why, remember why, even though it never happened to you personally. If you wanted."
    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    Recaiden, stop using your mastery of the English language to confuse the issue.
    Echidna by Serpentine

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    Default Re: Foxside: The Temple of Inari 56 - Rice, Wine, and Spell Slots

    [Gardens]

    Steph considers it, then nods to Arlem.
    "My people need me, Arlem, and if that means that I have to change a little, that's the price that I have to pay. I'll do what it takes, and I trust you to do what you have to do. You have my blessing to help me at your discretion."

    Though a small part of her does have the sense of humor she did assure Aurishalq she had- she's glad at the very least she picked a reasonable feminine shape to be stuck in the rest of the day as opposed to the extra-feminine one Arlem has picked for herself, since she can't conjure herself a bra or anything. It's easier to notice when she's not huge.
    Spako Highclaws by Ceika.

    [Sorry Boss, but as always, I get the last word.]

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    Default [Gardens]

    Arlem sweeps around behind Steph and puts her hands to the shadow priestess's temples. She looks deep into the vixen's mind. And then starts making changes. Mostly additions.
    First, remember that you have no reason to be afraid of peoples' judgement. She impresses on Stephanie how the rest of the people in the temple compound feel about Steven. How much Caroline loves him, how much the werefoxes and other warriors respect him, how much junior priests, even Inari's look up to him. And yes, also how jealous some of them are, but not much of that. All of that is directly present not just to be suspected, but to be felt.
    Remember that you can't keep out of trouble. You have to rise and face it. Doesn't Steven remember the war, when she lost almost everything, and her people nearly wiped out - but they survived because of her? She does now. Don't all those concerns seem a little small in comparison to what she's been through already? She's a person who get into things, and gets out of them.
    Remember you're the best there is. That isn't even wrong. Strongest priest of his order, head of the temple, only new Messenger of Tamamo, Nexus's Wisest Fox TM. But more than that, Arlem bundles up a lot of that self-consciousness and doubt and seals it away. Doesn't Steph recall running through the night in chase, the wind in her fur, nothing and no one able to stop her? Of course she does.

    There will be a strangeness about these memories and sensations, important but surreal, like a vivid dream or vision. Arlem isn't perfect at weaving them in.
    "How do you feel?" She asks aloud. "I could do more, but I wouldn't want you to get lost."
    Last edited by Recaiden; 2018-04-05 at 10:38 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    He takes normality and reason and turns them UP TO 11!
    ~Inner Circle~
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    Recaiden, stop using your mastery of the English language to confuse the issue.
    Echidna by Serpentine

  30. - Top - End - #120
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    Default Re: Foxside: The Temple of Inari 56 - Rice, Wine, and Spell Slots

    [Gardens]

    Steph takes a long breath.
    I feel fine. Dont worry, Arlem. You would never lose me. I hold by what I said about discretion. she assures the priest with complete confidence. And a more relaxed, if tired body language, now that she has memories of being in a body like this. Even if that last set is making her robes feel stuffy...
    Spako Highclaws by Ceika.

    [Sorry Boss, but as always, I get the last word.]

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