At first, Escort stood back, crossed her arms, and listened to Suzume. She nodded along as though she understood the instructions and brought out her notepad, either for the purpose of taking notes or to scrawl out a journal, as she sometimes did. However, on the second, and especially by the third, she was raising an eyebrow as though she were a bit skeptical. She looked as though she wanted to question Suzume directly, but she didn't want to seem like she was raising a stink either. "The first one was a cat, was it not? Were the others... also cats?" she asked, tapping her pen up and down upon her paper like she was waiting to see if she needed to scratch out one of her notes. "Oh-" she muttered, noticing Nightshade; the height difference was so great that her breasts were resting atop his head like a shelf. She looked to both sides for a moment, then patted the cat / shark / boy on the back with practiced gentleness.
At any rate, Yumi had followed along with the poses, Keep had taken her pictures, and presumably from their employer's lack of complaints, she figured they would work. Yumi wanted to try one more, though; Keep complied as Yumi hit one, taking her snapshot. She gave a warm smile. "Yes, I believe Nightshade's advice was on point. If the patrons see you enjoying yourself, I'm sure they will enjoy themselves too," she praised Yumi. "Now please, enjoy yourselves while I put the finishing touches on our merchandise. Hopefully it will be done before my mother pokes in there... I am certain she will take a keen interest in that aspect," Keep sighed, seeming as though she wasn't relishing the idea of her castle and its wares being judged from a commercial standpoint.
Watchtower hadn't been planning to encounter the Neo-Shogun Empire any further than they'd been planning to encounter her. When a dagger embedded itself onto the bridge next to her, she jumped backward and clenched her teeth, beginning to glow. A stone wall began to rise briefly, before the other lady clapped the end of her hammer against the wood twice, signalling for her to stop. "If you bring your tower out here, young one, you are going to collapse your sister's lovely bridge. Behave, Watch," she insisted. On that note, the bridge seemed to be creaking plenty just from the weight of her armor, hammer, and tremendous body.
DragonierMan intervened to stop his SP from cutting down the approaching ROT member and gave her a harsh reprimand, sending her across the bridge. Watchtower didn't look any more pleased at this; the violence had set her more on edge, if anything, and she was clearly having a very hard time avoiding summoning that same tower she'd started to bring up earlier. She opened her mouth to speak, but whatever she was going to say caught in her throat. She looked a little as though she just wanted to leave or otherwise disappear.
Before anything could come out, Castille spoke up again. "I hadn't expected such a scene... Normally, I'd say that reflects very poorly upon the kind of people my dear daughter has chosen to employee, however, I believe I understand your motivations. From what I've heard, the black sheep of my family has made quite a nuisance of herself, using her particular gift. I apologize on her behalf," the mother continued with a brief bow. "I do hope your subordinate isn't hurt too badly. Her actions were unseemly, but also, entirely justified."
"Mother-" Watchtower began.
Castille turned her head slightly, as much as her armor would allow, and gave an unsettling smile. She began to wind her hammer up, hoisting it with just one hand near the tip of the handle, where it ought to have been particularly difficult to lift, making quite a spectacle. "If we really want to make it up to Aya, I think this is only fair," she chuckled. "Don't bring your tower up, Watch... not unless you want to ruin my dress with the moat water. That would be quite shameful," she suggested, as if she really expected her daughter not to flinch while being menaced by the giant warhammer.
Watchtower instead turned, running to get out of the hammer's reach. If DragonierMan was going to intervene, the range would make it a little difficult to do so, and the speed, even with access to his teleport; in the blink of an eye, the hammer was swung. It stopped just short of Watchtower's head, approaching from the other side. The long-nosed lady collapsed onto her knees and scurried further away across the ground.
Castille turned back around, then returned her hammer to her shoulder. "Oh dear... my daughter has wet herself. You'll have to excuse her, at least for a little while," she sighed. "Now, let's venture on inside. I do hope my other daughter is making use of her talents to better effect." The bridge continued to groan with every step she took; Watchtower just watched in the distance, staying on her hands and knees, until DragonierMan and Castille had disappeared inside.
The older woman walked alongside DragonierMan, looking this way and that with a smile that showed she was pleased with the renovations, even if Keep had drastically altered the castle's original purposes. She turned her smile back to DragonierMan. "That Watchtower... she was always a bit of a craven. My gift to her was the watchtower; I thought she would appreciate the defense it afforded. That was coddling of me and bad for her... she squandered it and, in her paranoia, fell in with those awful templars. The errors of youth... well, hers were particularly erroneous. I don't expect you can forgive her for what she's done, but perhaps you can trust me to punish her as a good mother should this time?" she asked, tapping her hammer up and down upon her shoulder meaningfully. "That girl... I wonder if there is any salvaging her now. She looks down upon everyone. She stays shut up. She won't socialize. She won't speak to me. She is... a disappointment." The fact that Castille could remain smiling even while speaking that way about her daughter might do something to explain Watchtower's troubled upbringing.
"As for Keep," she continued, not losing that sense of judgment in her tone. "Well, I won't say she is wholly misguided. She seeks my approval; that puts her a rung above Watchtower, at least. My gift to her was this keep and castle... I intended that she develop the land and either find someone worthy to serve and sustain herself that way, or else, find some other use for the property. She is not a lost cause... she knows obedience, perseverance. She is a bit silly and a bit dull, however. The answer she's decided upon is truly... amusing," she chuckled, pausing to run her fingers along a poster, describing rules such as "DON'T RUN AT POOLSIDE."
She turned her unsettling judgment upon DragonierMan, a wide smile fixed upon her face; she cupped her jaw with one hand. "You'd have made a fine owner of this castle, I think. If you bested my daughter's watchtower, indeed... you may even have made a fine son... or husband," she offered. The smile lingered on her face for a moment, before splitting into a teasing grin. "For one of my daughters, that is. Or my son, Donjon; you are to his preference as well," she shrugged. At last, the uncomfortable conversation drew to its close; the two were approaching the group they'd left a moment ago.
First impressions were important; DragonierMan would want to make sure he responded to Castille in the right way. If he wanted to stay the course, he'd have to act the model employee and he would need Nightshade, Yumi, and Suzume to follow suit.
As Aya skulked away, Guillotine found her. Two soldiers were following her, but she dismissed them, indicating for them to go another direction. "That was Watchtower out there, wasn't it? A pebblewit, for certain; as bright as a cobblestone. As a member of the ROT, she barely attended our meetings and had little usefulness on assignments. We knew she had strong defensive capabilities, but what use was that to an organization like ours? When she led her assault in that massive tower, I was a bit frightened, to be certain, because I knew the damned thing was invincible... but thanks to the plan, we didn't even have to battle against it. As you met just now, you must have seen the fear in her eyes, first when she saw him, then when she saw you. I watched from the ramparts. Truly, she is broken," Guillotine mused, crossing her arms with a jingle of her axe-blades. "She knows that stupid tower isn't enough to make her 'strong.'"
She raised one narrow eyebrow and turned her chin up, continuing to watch Aya. "I understand your sentiment... but I also sympathize with her, somewhat. If I'd been just a moment slower abandoning the ROT and joining the empire- and my only motivation was revenge, at the time, not an alignment of ideals- then I'd have been in her same place now," she suggested. "And I'd deserve whatever fate came to me. I feel like if it were Rack or Domm out there, I'd want them murdered on the spot. They are threats as well as insufferable, lewd mongrels. I'd have come down to join you in doing the deed. Watchtower, however, isn't worth the trouble; furthermore, she could be a boon to us, if she would lend us that tower of hers. Something to think about..." Guillotine offered. "But the sight of her now also offends me somewhat. She is dreadfully craven," the prideful lady scoffed, looking newly disgusted.
Sensing that Aya was still sullen, Guillotine crossed her arms behind her back and stared toward the digital clouds. "Aya, in the ROT, there is a class below all others we called 'The Worst Ones.' These ones were given the worst tasks, ridiculed at every turn, all to motivate them to become stronger... because all the ROT valued was strength. When I left, Watchtower was extremely close to falling into that tier. However, the ROT were... crazed in their motivation through punishment. I myself was degraded in ways I don't care to speak of. If such debauchery was levied upon me, who, not to brag, was herself one of the highest performing officers, then what must have been done to a scatterbrain like Watchtower? I do not know if she deserves sympathy, but she certainly must warrant pity."
"I'll leave you to think. If you feel like acting out your original intentions, I believe your master will be quite tied up for the foreseeable future and Watchtower is quite vulnerable. If you'd like to extend the olive branch to that sad sack, that is also an option. Or if you'd like to slide down a waterslide, there are plenty of those here as well," she sniffed, turning with a clap of her heels and heading back towards the stairs down.