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These Heels Step Heavenward - A Jade Beauty's Isekai Gone Wild

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Halt, Apr 11, 2021.

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  1. Traiden

    Traiden Making the rounds.

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    Yes, build that false narrative of an abusive household leading to a turn to drugs for an escape from the harsh reality. Such wonderful misunderstandings abound.
     
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  2. Pef

    Pef Versed in the lewd.

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    What I find funny is the whole 'arrogance is king' type of thinking (although the MC only thinks it, but doesn't act on it often).
    While it is true that many 'young masters' in wuxia do exhibit such syndromes, that's because they are poorly raised and socialized, turning them into sociopaths and narcissists. It is not an intended effect, especially as this arrogance is not founded in skill and value, thus becoming the leading cause of death for said young masters.

    Now, if instead of arrogance, one was to value competence and merit, plus other virtues like integrity, compassion and honor...we would have a completely different system.

    As for aphrodisiacs...lol. Again, while it is customary for at least one such scene in every wuxia novel, most often such things happen by lucky accident, instead of careful planning.
     
  3. ROTH963

    ROTH963 Versed in the lewd.

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    The jade beauties might find it suspicious how common those "accidents" are.
     
  4. Scopas

    Scopas Know what you're doing yet?

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    I think it could be argued that this is sort of a deconstruction of the Wuxia. I mean, Daphne is basically the logical conclusion of the Wuxia protagonist, right? With all of the stereotypical traits and ways of speaking cranked up to 11. The fact that she's aware of the genre tropes and deliberately tries to invoke them makes this feel like a deconstruction, at least.
     
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  5. Pef

    Pef Versed in the lewd.

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    Maybe? She does have a special 'boon', in this case memories of another life. Problem is not the memories though, but the strange personality shift that comes with it, one that completely replaces the original host, so much so that she doesn't has a clue who the people around her are, or even her own local past.
    It is in fact a possession of body, which curiously went undetected in a world with magic and manifested gods. For now.
     
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  6. Scopas

    Scopas Know what you're doing yet?

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    Well, it's that, but it's also how she's completely internalized all of the worse aspects of the wuxia genre as being both natural and right. For instance, the aphrodisiac thing - you mention that, for the most part, while aphrodisiac scenes are common, it's usually either an accident or a malicious act. Daphne has taken their use as a simple and inevitable fact of life, and has in fact concocted a whole schema about when it's socially acceptable to use aphrodisiacs and for what purposes. I think it could be argued that this is a deconstruction of the wuxia, by taking common tropes and asking the question of "what sort of person would be produced by a world where these are the common narrative tropes?"

    I also think that Daphne seriously is either a sociopath or deeply disturbed. The mention about her starting her training with drugs at age 4 and being inducted as a disciple of a militant cult at age 8 indicates exposure to mind altering substances and extreme violence from an early age. Coupled with her exaltation of arrogance and egotism as supreme goods, the way she thinks of everyone around her as tools rather then people, and her self-espoused willingness to use whatever means necessary to become a hero's flavor of the week are all troubling. I think the only redeemable thing so far about her is that, while she says and thinks some reprehensible things, so far her actions have been mostly beneficial and helpful. She's supporting and sponsoring "Tracey", she's teaching her cousin how to be like her (mixed bag, that), and she hasn't had Rian killed yet.

    Arguably, this represents a girl who thinks she believes all the things she claims to believe, but doesn't actually have the stomach to fully treat people the way her beliefs would demand. As a result, she creates justifications about why she doesn't have to treat them horribly - for example, Blaise is her cousin, so by family duty she must help him; Rian is her servant, so she will decide when and how he dies; and "Tracey" is her disciple and servant, so she'll look out for her and help her. I dunno, maybe she actually is a decent but incredibly warped person.
     
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  7. Threadmarks: 24: Courting
    Halt

    Halt Making the rounds.

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    Chapter 24: Courting

    Daphne admired herself in the mirror as one did. When a master craftsperson had devoted hours of their life to creating art, it was only proper to take a moment to appreciate its beauty.

    “Prince Hadrian will be left stunned,” Maid said, making small adjustments to the gold needles keeping her hair in a perfectly styled bun.

    Daphne let out a smull hum of satisfaction. She was dressed in resplendent golden silk from head to heel, looking as if molten gold was flowing down her body. A cloak of stormsilk fluttered behind her, kept perpetually floating aboveground by the object’s innate cultivation. As she understood it, the object was infused with such powerful wind qi that it required no prompting from her to fulfill its purpose.

    Just as well, for Daphne had never considered branching out from her training in water qi. Blaise was doing his best to teach her now, but she would not dare call herself adequate quite yet.

    This realm truly does have wonders and secrets, Daphne thought. To produce such artifacts who had no purpose beyond mere decoration... It showed how confident these people were that the cultivation path they walked could afford to invest so much time and effort on trivialities. For what else could it be called but arrogance to climb towards immortality, to step heavenward, yet still insist on these small vanities.

    It was an arrogance Daphne could respect, even if her old master would have been apoplectic at what he’d perceive as waste. What was the point of doing something if one could not look good while doing it?

    There was a knock on the door and Maid rushed over to open it, while Daphne turned around to look at the doors. With a look, she signalled to Maid to open them.

    “Your Excellency,” Daphne said, curtseying, as the people of this realm called their version of kowtowing.

    “There’s no need for that between us in private,” Hadrian said, a slight smile turning the corners of his lips as he stepped into the room. “We’re engaged now, aren’t we?”

    “I’ve been led to understand by my cousin that such an arrangement needs to be formalized,” Daphne said.

    Hadrian scoffed. “Formalities. My mother won’t object, of course, neither will my father. Do you see any complications arising from your end?”

    Daphne considered what she knew of her parents, before slowly shaking her head. “My house would be honored to be joined with yours.”

    “Then we’re as good as engaged, aren’t we?” Hadrian said, silvey eyes shining bright. For the briefest of moments, her qi sense honed in on that pair of stars. There was power behind them that did not belong to Hadrian himself. An imposition of will, a spell placed heedless of time by his ancestors. It was the lingering traces of legacy.

    His qi remained as she’d remembered, not being particularly noteworthy in itself, but she was surer now than ever that his bloodlines remained locked. Perhaps he wished to deepen his foundations first in the four elements? There were some bloodlines and clan techniques which could interact unfortunately with one’s foundations. If he were taking such a prudent path, Daphne could only commend him, for many rushed to the next breakthrough without consideration for the larger picture.

    Of course, she’d never ask him that until they were intimate! It was impolite to ask such things about someone’s cultivation even between path friends.

    “Lady Daphne?” Hadrian asked, taking a few steps towards her. “Are you feeling well?”

    “Perfectly fine,” Daphne replied.

    “You looked distracted by something,” he said.

    “Really, I’m fine,” Daphne said.

    Before he could take another step closer, something green and spiked fell from the ceiling. Alice landed between them, upright as if by magic and no worse for falling. Daphne had learned many things about her catcus, including her remarkable ability to climb walls using those thorns of hers. They’d learned that the first time Maid had tried giving catcus a bath.

    Hadrian stared at Alice. “A catcus? I wasn’t aware you kept one as a pet.”

    “Alice is my familiar as of yesterday,” Daphne said.

    Hadrian knelt and held out a hand to the catcus.

    “Be careful,” Daphne said. “She’s not fond of other people.”

    On cue, Alice let her spikes show, pricking Hadrian’s hand and poking his most outstretched finger. Daphne spotted a thin pool of blood forming as she strode forward. “Alice, no!” Daphne said, as her large eyes peered at Daphne, asking if she’d done well. “Prince Hadrian is a friend.”

    Alice slunk away, in search of the warmest corner in the room. Daphne rolled her eyes as Alice settled on where her favorite silk cushion lay, perfectly positioned so that the light of the morning sun hit it.

    “I’m sorry about that,” Daphne said. “I haven’t quite figured out how to get her to stop pricking anyone other than me.”

    Hadrian chuckled. “Don’t worry about it. I should have known better really. Uncle’s catcus is much the same and they like being touched as much as pineapple’s do.”

    “At least let me take care of this for you,” Daphne said, taking off her gloves and pressing her skin against his. He was warm to the touch. Water qi sprouted out of her fingers and covered his wound, willing it to knit itself shut. A unique application of water qi, to say the least, and one she’d quickly mastered upon learning of its existence. “I have to ask, what made you come visit me today of all days? It took me quite by surprise.”

    “I hadn’t seen you in a while,” Hadrian said. “And with the tournament coming up … well, I’d hate to distract you from your training, but also be deprived of your company. Now seemed like the best time to see you.” His eyes locked with hers. “I hope I didn’t cause any inconvenience?”

    “None at all,” Daphne said smoothly. They’d decided not to continue with today’s training anyway after speaking with the archystor. The old master who’d be supervising them from now on couldn’t make it today, but had promised to carve out time for them each day for the entirety of the coming week.

    He stood, and pulled her up with him, before leading them to the sofa.

    “Would you like anything to drink?” Daphne asked. It was a shame that she didn’t have any aphrodisiacs on hand, but that was no excuse to forget her manners. A small mercy that Tracey was not around though, or she might think Daphne a hypocrite for not following her own advice on courtship.

    “A glass of water would be lovely,” Hadrian said.

    Daphne nodded to Maid, and she left to see to it. His hands had never left hers, and Daphne couldn’t say she honestly minded.

    “Was it really so surprising that I’d visit you?” Hadrian asked.

    “We don’t know each other very well,” Daphne said. Not that that was a necessary basis for romance between jade beauties and heroes.

    “Then all the more reason that I do visit,” Hadrian said with a full smile that reached his eyes. “We’re only going to spend the rest of our lives together.”

    “Assuming the engagement is formalized,” Daphne said.

    His smile wilted. “Do you find the thought displeasing?” he asked. “I don’t mean to impose on you, despite how quickly things might seem moving.” His laugh was full of nervous energy. “I realize in hindsight it must be quite a shock that I’d ask you to marry me upon our second meeting.”

    Well, at least you asked, Daphne thought wryly. Some men never bothered even, and just took it for granted that any jade beauty would gladly dual cultivate with them. Such affairs were far more fun when both were willing. “I’ve no complaints about marrying you,” Daphne assured him. “Only…”

    “Only?”

    "A proper suitor would have brought me to a restaurant by now," Daphne said.

    “Oh?” Hadrian asked with furrowed brows, his ringed fingers intertwining with hers now. “I didn’t think you’d like dining in the city. I can make arrangements.”

    She wasn’t particularly fond of restaurants, but did you really know someone until you’d seen them smack down an arrogant young master? Where better to find them than a restaurant?

    “Maybe not today,” Daphne said. “After the tournament, when I win perhaps?”

    “After the tournament, whether you win or not,” Hadrian bargained.

    “Whether I win or not,” Daphne acquiesced. After all, she was confident of winning, so really meeting him halfway was just giving him some face and not real surrender.
     
  8. Scopas

    Scopas Know what you're doing yet?

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    Haha! Oh, man, the social misunderstandings will be bounteous! The fucking restaurant scene, battlefield of the ages! The food service workers in Daphne's original world must be more battle-hardened than your average soldier, considering the sheer amount of conflict that appears to occur at eateries.

    I'm not sure what I think about the Prince now. The first scene we saw him in, at the dance, made it seem like he's like Prince Schniezel, from Code Geass - Intelligent, refined, frozen inside and interested solely in power and control. This scene makes him seem... Like that was a front, seeing how the slightest push-back from Daphne made his facade crumble. Also, that magic behind his eyes... I wonder if Daphne's right, about it being a lingering spell from eons ago, or if it's something particular to him? Also, who cast that spell, and who's looking through his eyes? That sounds like a possible source for concern.

    Very interesting...
     
  9. Blundo

    Blundo Know what you're doing yet?

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    Given his behavior at the ball and his behavior here, Hadrian strikes me as the stereotypical "ambitious prince vying for the throne" otome game capture target. Generally at least somewhat of a Schneizel-type yes, but a surprisingly honest romantic when it comes to the heroine. Though 90% of the time the heroine will not realize this, because misunderstandings are necessary.

    Very funny fic in general. Nice collision of the villainess-reincarnation breed of stereotypical otome game world and a character from a borderline-parody stereotypical Xianxia world. Pretty refreshing too, given that as a Xianxia character Daphne is genuinely somewhat villainous, which is a very nice contrast from the villainess-reincarnation norm of 'generically nice girl with conveniently useful metaknowledge/hobby/career'. The misunderstandings feel reasonably natural, and it's fun to see the reborn character be the one from the more insane world for a change.

    The "to be fair, you need a very high IQ to understand Rick and Morty" meme passage during her qi awakening was a good signal of how seriously to take this story, and I don't mean that in a bad way. I will admit however that borderline-crack as this is, it's a little distracting seeing "Daphne, Tracey, and Blaise" floating around as a constant reference to questionable quality Harry Potter fanfic. Tracey especially stands out, it doesn't feel entirely natural as a name someone from a Xianxia world would assign someone, coming off as a bit shoehorned.

    Edit: Oh god, just realized the Prince's name is "Hadrian", dude you can't do this to me, I'm getting PTSD flashbacks to 2014 Haphne fanfic.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2021
  10. Autocorruptor

    Autocorruptor Corrupting Innocent Grammar

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    I would just like to point out that pineapples are real pets in this world. Pineapples.
    Hahahahaha! I have a feeling that Maid is working very hard to keep aphrodisiacs away from Daphne.
     
  11. Halt

    Halt Making the rounds.

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    Never forget one's foundation! But yeah, it's especially Tracey seems out of place as names for a xianxia setting. I justify it to myself as one of the rare instances she's drawing on original Daphne's instincts rather than her own, because I've basically wiped out any Chinese sounding names for the reason that I... don't really know how they name people.

    Also, I had a sidebet with someone wondering how long it would take for people to call out the HP refences. QQ did quite well at that comparative to other boards despite the smaller audience here lol
     
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  12. Blundo

    Blundo Know what you're doing yet?

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    For an expert such as myself, recognizing these references is as easy as lifting a hand. Her family name was revealed as Greenglade and in the time it takes to take a breath, I knew what was afoot!

    They're everywhere once you see one of them. The mention of being a Master of Death in her dream quest for instance, shortly before the "To be fair..." meme. Ordinarily your limbs and cultivation would be crippled, and your family subjected to the nine familial exterminations for this behavior. But though this would be as simple as crushing dry weeds and smashing rotten wood, you may rejoice. I, your grandfather, will magnanimously overlook it for as long as the fic remains entertaining.
     
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  13. Threadmarks: 25: Old Monsters
    Halt

    Halt Making the rounds.

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    Chapter 25: Old Monsters

    The day came at last for Daphne to meet the old monster assigned to watch over her cultivation. He was a middle-aged looking man with a clean-shaven face, and certainly did not fit the image of the old monsters of her old realm who liked to sport long, flowing beards. That did not matter to her though. Young men could be old monsters too, for age was just a number.

    “This one is honored to meet you, Polihystor Filip,” Daphne said.

    “Likewise, Lady Daphne,” Filip said, speaking with the gentle air of a scholar, but the gentlest facades were the most dangerous sort in Daphne’s experience. It would not stop them from killing several people. “Shall we see to the oaths?”

    “The sooner the better,” Blaise said from beside her.

    Daphne nodded. These people and their obsession with oaths and ceremonies and invoking deities. Would any of those truly bind a cultivator to their word? In the end, the only way of holding someone to their promise was to be strong, so that any betrayal could be met with overwhelming force!

    She would have preferred to stay in closed door cultivation instead of attending, but Blaise had somehow known her thoughts and broken into her room, demanding that she attend and preventing her from meditating. So here she was now, standing before the marble edifice of an ancient sect elder.

    “Bear witness to my oaths, gods great and small,” Filip began. “I, Polihystor Filip, do swear this of my own free will, in good faith and without deceit before the honorable stoneborn present. I swear this on the likeness of Sybil the Schoolmistress, and on my place in the Middle School. I shall keep the spell secrets that I might learn from Lady Daphne of House Greenglade, and never shall I pass on what I have learned from our time together. By the Great Gods Above and Divine Syngian, may this oath bind me to my dying day, or smite me with lightning if I forswear.”

    Daphne frowned. Inviting tribulation lightning hardly seemed like a punishment at all!

    “Let it be so,” Blaise said, nudging her in the side with the sharp of his elbow.

    “Let it be so,” Daphne grudgingly said.

    “It is done,” Filip said. “Now, let’s see to your training shall we? Is there anywhere in particular you prefer to train?”

    “My room usually,” Daphne said. “I would not cause the cultivation of my juniors to deviate by placing them in an environment filled with distractions.”

    Filip blinked at her, as if taking a moment to parse her words. “Are you not worried about the potential damage your residence might suffer if a spell should misfire?”

    “We’re not quite at that level yet according to Daphne,” Blaise grumbled. “She has us doing mental exercises.”

    “I see,” Filip said. “An odd approach to spells, but not unheard of. Lead the way then.”

    As they walked along the dirt paths of the Middle School, the sounds of steel on steel rang in the air. Students practiced in pairs with blunted steel, though occasionally there were a few outliers. One boy in particular held a thin curved sword in a two-handed grip, staring down at a block of wood too far to physically hit. Layer upon layer of wind qi was shaped into the edge of his blade, before he took a single step forward and released it against the wood.

    That it sliced through the wood was expected. That it had left behind a crude wooden figurine was not.

    “A wasteful technique,” Daphne said. The boy had expended a significant amount of qi with that one strike.

    “It’s not meant for actual combat,” Blaise said, after following her gaze. “That particular technique is an advanced training technique to help hone one’s control over wind.”

    “I’m surprised you’re not familiar with it considering who your mother is,” Filip said, raising a brow at her.

    “My cousin has only recently taken an interest in martial pursuits,” Blaise said.

    “Ah,” Filip said, as if that explained everything. “An understandable change, I suppose, considering recent events.”

    They passed by a few more sights—a girl kneeling by some rose bushes, whispering to the wilting flowers as if to coax them back to life. A boy seated next to a fountain had a book in hand, though was more watching than reading it. The air above the book rippled with heated qi, and an illusory battlefield viewed from the sky played out.

    When they reached Daphne’s room at last, Tracey was already in a meditative stance like a good disciple. A shame that there were no lotus trees to be had here to complete the picture, but perhaps Daphne could have one commissioned as a painting?

    Filip waited for the door to shut behind them before getting to business. “I must confess that I haven’t heard much about this spell of yours beyond requiring the use of some pills?”

    “That’s correct,” Daphne said.

    Maid brought out the pills, handing that and a glass of water to Blaise and Tracey each. Daphne sealed the pair of them in a dome of silence, surrounded by her wind qi. She could not keep it up long, but the first few minutes of meditation had an outstated effect on the quality of a cultivation session.

    “I suppose I don’t have to warn you of the dangers of relying on such substances?” Filip asked. “While I believe it isn’t addictive due to the body’s tolerance, any spell that requires it to be activated would have limited applications. You’ll need much higher doses after only a few days of repeated use, making it impractical.”

    Daphne nodded. Though she had never heard it phrased in such terms, the effectiveness of alchemical pills was known to bleed off with daily use. After all, if the qi was not properly integrated into one’s dantian core, ingesting more qi would just be like food at a restaurant scuffle—nothing but spillage. “Not to worry,” Daphne said. “It is a learning aid to help one sense what they need to, but is not needed for use of the technique.”

    “This must be some technique if you’re practicing this for the tournament,” Filip said.

    “I believe it is foundational,” Daphne said. Could she train Tracey in the taolu of martial arts? Certainly, but it was the work of months and years so that the flowing style of the Elegant Swan Sect became second nature. Teaching them that style would not help them in the tournament.

    “An unorthodox view,” Filip said. “So what is it exactly that your spell can do?”

    Daphne turned her head, looking into his green, almond-shaped eyes. “It will let you see the flow of magic.”

    His brows scrunched together. “Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”

    Daphne nodded.

    “That would have incredible synergy with the signature spell already in your family’s grimoire,” Filip said. “Did you design it with that in mind?”

    Daphne shrugged. “I can’t say I did.”

    “Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that you’ve tended towards this sort of spell,” Filip said.

    It was Daphne’s turn to scrunch her brows together. “What do you mean?”

    “When you did not wake last year, there were concerns raised by your family,” Filip said. “Fears which I cannot say are unfounded considering the history of the stoneborn. It was thought that someone had plotted to puppet your body. That was, after all, why we sent you home so quickly.”

    “I do not follow,” Daphne said.

    “There are few spells which will allow one to steal into your body, and almost all of them would have needed unfettered access to it. By hiding you away deep within your family’s keep, behind walls and wards, it would have been impossible for anyone intending that to succeed without notice,” Filip said.

    “You seem sure of that,” Daphne said. Was that not exactly what had happened? Her soul now resided in this body.

    “Magic has come a long way since the time of Empress Karah three hundred years ago,” Filip said. “We have means of detecting the residue left behind by such spellcraft.”

    “And such tests were conducted on me?” Daphne asked with a smile. It was always amusing to hear how a few hundred years was a long time to these people.

    Filip nodded. “So I’ve heard from the archystor. So have you done any testing with this spell of yours?”

    “What sort of tests?” Daphne replied as she pondered on his words. Perhaps she had become like those old monsters who could inhabit the bodies of others? Only she could not recall having struggled to take over this body, not even a little.

    “Can it see through illusions for example?” Filip asked. “Or detect runes with it?”

    “I don’t know,” Daphne said.

    “Something to cover the next time we meet then,” Filip said. “It’s important to understand the limits of your spells.”

    She nodded absently at his words.

    AN:

    Link to my Discord

    So yeah, I'm still alive. Sorry that updates have been becoming more sporadic, but I feel like the story is starting to run into the problem all satires do eventually. It starts becoming marginally less funny with each update (which is just par for the course for the genre, it's nearly impossible to keep up this sort of content for a very long period of time as jokes get old).

    On the other hand, trying to turn the story serious is where I've seen a lot of stories in the genre fail (it's fundamentally breaking the promise set out by the story).
     
  14. twinesper

    twinesper Getting some practice in, huh?

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    That is a difficult conundrum, but it is also natural progression in this case. I think so long as she is adapting within context of the new setting, even if the satire elements reduce the story should remain engaging.
     
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  15. Scopas

    Scopas Know what you're doing yet?

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    Well, that's a fair point. I'd say that the last couple of chapters have leaned more into serious plot development, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. While I enjoy the humor and the mockery of overused tropes, this story has managed to interest me enough that a turn towards a more serious plot line wouldn't reduce my interest.

    Either way, it's good to see another update of our favorite ivory sociopath's adventures!
     
  16. Mastigos2

    Mastigos2 I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    I'm honestly interested in the plot and setting now.
     
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  17. Priapus

    Priapus Engorged member

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    I think it would have been easier to transition the story to something serious if the MC was more of a character and less of a walking meme.

    That's jot to say that it wouldn't make the transition. Her having other characters that she meaningfully plays off is starting to make it interesting in its own right.
     
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