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/qst/ - Quests

It's been awhile! Updates are back, faster than before. I've got a more solid foundation for the rest of this chapter and the next, too. Quality of writing shouldn't suffer anymore.

Previous chapters: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=houseki

“Okay, be careful though.”

Jet has a certain look on his face. He's looking right at you. Really at you, at you. Not your body, not your sickly spotted violet hair, nor the face of a leader you've been pretending to wear. Jet, something about the way his eyes are gleaming, or his smile of gratitude, is seeing the parts of you that the others can't. This moment affirms it, you know for sure now.

"I want to--" But something stops you. It's an innate and guttural feeling, immune to your choices, a reluctance to get close. It's the kind of feeling that won't let you have your way unless you break it first.

Swinging his legs and torso over the edge, Jet’s hanging on with one hand, propping against the face of the cliff. “You coming down?”

“N-no. I want to stay up here. I think I’m already close to the limit my body can handle for pressure, I don’t want any hollow portions to collapse. I’ll stay here and check if they went one way or the other.”

“Alright. I’ll be back up in a jet.”

He pushes off the face and sinks down to the bottom. It becomes harder to distinguish him from the dark floor as he drops further down. It’s hard to tell exactly when he reaches the bottom, he’s hardly bigger than a speck from this distance. As soon as it's clear he's made it, your worry eases and you begin walking right. So long as you never got turned around, this way should be west, a fact you keep in mind should you need it. A solid walk's down the way, you notice the terrain becoming ever more populated by rocks and juttings, both above and below. Jet seems to have taken to following you, or whatever amount of you he can see. From the top, Jet's near invisible dot-ish appearance resembles a small beetle, chasing the smell of some flower that's been stuck to your shoe. Down there, though, no telling what he might be thinking. In and among the diversifying landscape, spots of algae and coral catch your gaze. It's sparse, nothing like the reef just off the island, but there are even some anemones and small fish, none of which you recognize. One urchin in particular, had you not been watching, would have been stepped on. Black, mostly, and only a few spines. The spines it does have are thick, it's not at all like what you'd thought of as a normal urchin, but there's not much else it could be.

Out of curiosity, you pick it up. Its central body is black and soft, the spines more rigid and white. It recoils slightly to your touch, pulsing, trying to protect itself.

"Oh," you say. Back to the sand it goes, "I don't see any others like you around, are you alone?"

It's silent and immobile. The only responses it gives are those you might imagine it to, and even those make it seem uninterested. That disinterest, though, is not shared by yourself. Keeping in mind its discomfort when you're close, something about the creature keeps your attention for minutes on end.
Without realizing, you spend a very long time simply staring at the urchin, immune to distraction from the tug of currents or the slowly dimming light, rather they are a kind of hypnotic. Lulled by the rhythmic pulse of water, and drained by the retreat of your energy source, you start falling into microsleeps. On waking up from one, the urchin is gone, and it's getting decently dark.

I need to get back!

Before returning in a sprint, a quick check over the ledge. The whole floor below is shrouded by pitch darkness reaching about halfway up the cliff, and you can't see Jet. Back where you first arrived he's still nowhere to be found, nor are there any signs that he's already returned to the island. Barring your cursory-at-best understanding of ocean behavior around home, these waters off the cliff may harbor dangerous currents, or highly variant pressure.

Letting him down there was stupid! I've gotta... No, but Jet would know, finding a way down just puts me in danger too.

Your gut feeling to rush down and find him before something could happen to his sleeping body, and the logical hesitation to wait at the precipice until you're sure of anything, the conflict of the two boils inside.
Consequently, the water around you begins to boil, too. It's a fire of panic, knowing that being indecisive or taking too long could cost you another someone dear so soon after you realized they were. Maybe it's a nudge from the piece of Lignite, still guiding you, but you remember a decision you made a long time ago, and that panic suddenly stops. It's replaced by a rational idea, and the water is cold again.

Jet's not stupid.

Jet's not young. He knew it must've been a naive decision, but if he had already returned he would've left a clear sign for me. No, he's still down there, and leaving him alone would be the worst thing to do.

There's no sign that pressure might be a problem until you're about three quarters the way down the cliff. There's no cracking, but you can feel straining against certain portions of your interior. It's also around here that the light from the surface can't reach any further, but in an epiphany you'd thought up a solution to both problems. While panicking just a moment earlier, and hot water vapor was rushing away from you after coming in contact, the pressure had been partly relieved. Not only that, but the small pockets of gas were much brighter than their surroundings, and slightly reflective. Like a tether, the column of bubbles grants a lifeline, enough sunlight to stay conscious and walk, and even partly see as you descend into the darkest leagues.

As you quickly discover, even with this small amount of light, it's impossible to tell what direction you're going unless you keep close to the cliff. Were there not a clear path, this would've been a much more dangerous situation for you.

Well aren't I lucky. You left me a trail of footprints.
They lead west, and so west you go, at a slightly slowed pace. Within a fair few minutes, you reach the area where more landscape features start appearing. The rocks are more numerous and large down here, and following Jet's path is much harder when it wraps over and around the protruding basalts. Soon protrusions give way to giants, and giants still to monoliths. In some way their arrangement might be said to be purposeful, that they both have no reason and every reason to be there. Some arch overhead, others are straight and tall, even more laid flat give the impression of a churning cycle, driven by a heart under the sandy bed. Caught in an instant of this cycle, that perhaps the oldest among you might have so far lived to see two instants of, you walk among it all as a discoverer, and face a light from the only other heart that walks atop this sandy bed.

Jet is leaned against one rock, illuminated by the dim pulsing white and yellow glow of a black bodied urchin.

He's not asleep, but looks close to it. A cursory glance acknowledges your presence, but he's silent, and returns to staring at the creature.

"Glad you're safe."


"You should've gone back up before it got dark. This was lucky."


"How come you stayed?"

"I--" He takes a moment to turn, placing his back against the rock. "Didn't want to go back yet."


"This place, it makes me feel something new. I wanted to see more of it, until it got hard not to. Then I thought, 'I'm like Citrine now.'"

"Citrine? You're not like Citrine, you--"

"No, not like that. It's more... You and I aren't allowed to be sad anymore. We have to be leaders, in a brand new kind of way. Citrine is so prideful, even though he isn't really a leader I'm sure he feels that same thing. After what you told me today, I know how insecure he is about his judgment. Knowing that he comes here to let out those feelings which he never shows to any of us, it makes it seem like this is the only place I can go to remember now."


"Mm, Lignite and Cryolite for you."

His gaze slowly teeters back to the urchin. Yours does too, and your tether of light thins as your body cools.

"How about this, we come here once a year, it'll be the day we get to be sad."


The light of your tether vanishes, and with it your protections against the pressure, leaving only what is visible from the faint structure of the Urchin: the closest members of this forest of giant stones, Jet, yourself, and the sand beneath you. The extra force of pressure is constricting, but it causes no breakage.

"We need to get back."

"I'm tired, Ant, can't we wait a bit longer?"

It is hard to resist the urge to sleep, but it will be mid day tomorrow before it's light enough down here to accomplish anything.

>Stay the night in this rocky forest
>Start the way back
>>Stay the night in this rocky forest
>Stay the night in this rocky forest
>Stay the night in this rocky forest

I never gave up hope that you'd come back, OP
Closed to rocks
"Fine. One night here, we'll go as soon as it's light again."

Pulse, pulse, pulse, hypnotic.

"Sorry, I know it was dangerous."

Slow, slow, slow, slower.

"It's... really nothing."

Wipe, tilt, close, black.




The next day you wake before Jet. The urchin is gone, and the area although not exactly bright is certainly not dark. Monstrous rocks tower overhead, some arch and some appear as if they are constantly falling. The ocean's surface is visible, a calm prancing sky. At some point after falling asleep, Jet had moved over, as he's now sat just to your right. Standing brings on an urge to stretch, and stretching brings on more. Last night's expedition seemingly put much stress on your body. Jet's must be the same.

"Hey, wake up. Time to get going." A gentle prodding with the tip of your foot pushes your message with a physical vehicle.

"Mn, hn?" His eyes peek open. Having spent most of the last twenty four hours beneath the saltwater has started to take its toll on his face. The resin in certain areas has worn too thin to protect the powder coating beneath it, and spots of jet's shiny black cheeks are showing. He looks at you through the confusion of someone who's just woken.

You squat beside him, looking to his eyes, then to the top of the ridge, visible beyond the tangled basalt around you. A thumbs up pumped twice tells him all he needs to know.

"Oh, right." He stands and stretches, "Yeah, let's go."

The trek home first took you back over the cliff. Although you could tell it was the same place, the resin left behind where Gyrolite and Citrine had sat along its edge since eroded. From there you were able to tell the time of day. Just before noon was when you had left the cliff and started back for the island. Second, the bare wasteland that are abyssal plains. The company of Jet was welcome, but this much higher than the bottom beyond the cliff the currents are stronger. Nothing stopped them from dragging flakes of resin and powder away, revealing Jet's dark image and your vibrant violet. Allowing anyone to see your colorful body was never an idea that was comfortable. They would always compliment it, but to yourself possessing such a kind of beauty was as if you were constantly telling a lie. Were someone drawn to your appearance they were met with an ugly truth of danger. As the coating, protective of the others from yourself, chipped away, it left a knot of embarrassment inside.

Third, the populous reef beyond the shore. Almost there.

Fourth, there it was. The final hill that punctured the water sky above. This looks to be a bit east of where you had intended to arrive.

"Not the Southern Coast, but not bad navigation for walking where I thought it would be."

"You didn't know for sure?" Jet asks.

"Doesn't matter now, anyway. Let's go."
Emerging onto the island, you’re first seen by Cuprite, who before you can realize already has you and jet in an enormous hug.

“I was so worried!”

No way you’ll dare to deny Cuprite his affection, instead you return it. Jet is a bit less eager, and groans as the combined forces of your hugging lift his unwilling feet from the ground. When finally released, Cuprite returns to the school with you, but the look on his face tells you good news might not be waiting.

“Cuprite, nothing happened while we were gone, did it?”

“No, nothing new, it’s just, the others want to show you.”

More walking and worried silence, then the school rears its head beyond the closest hill. Inside, home again, the world scrambles into action. You’re taken back to Opal’s ward, where he’s woken up by Natrolite and the others that have joined you after returning.

“What do you want?”

“Opal, Jet and Ant are back, are they ready?”

“I guess. They’re legs, not a trophy.” He stands up and retrieves a mid-sized wooden box from beneath the sill, the same place where Almandine’s head is being kept safe. He sets it on the table and opens the top, revealing two green and white feet, detached just below where the knee ought to be. They’re polished to a shine, and caressed by folded silk.

“There was a lot of splintering when the other search party brought them back. Real pain to get the little pieces back in there. I looked at the damage too, it doesn’t seem like an outward fracture like when I put your chest back together, so I don’t think he was hit by an arrow. These fractures,” he traces up the length of a particularly elongate shard that stands from the base of the breakage. “Are from stress, it was being hounded over and over, way harder than it’s used to. I don’t think anyone else wants to be the one to say it, but Gyro was running, too fast for his own body to handle.”

Opal reaches back for a bowl, covered by a cloth. “That’s not everything, they also brought me this.” He removes the cover, and inside are three decent sized shards, and hundreds of incredibly small bright orange shatterings.

“Citrine, and--”

“So then they’re both,” says Jet, taking charge of the conversation, “like Cryolite?”

Hearing his name still causes a flinch.

Siderite interjects. “We didn’t find any similar shards from Gyro, but if you ask me I think it’s because they didn’t need to break him when he already was.”

“But why leave his legs behind?”

“Why leave Almond’s head behind?”

There’s a shared sense of unease among the group, or even a fear of being disrespectful by speaking, lasting nearly a full minute. Jet breaks the silence and Opal begins putting the remaining fragments away.
“We need to be more careful. Four of us now have been taken in the last four months. How long do you think it will be before we’re all gone?”

“That’ll be two years, boss,” says Jasper, walking by with some hacked together contraption of twine and twig.
Ignoring him, Jet continues. “Yesterday, Citrine and Gyrolite, it could’ve been more… What happens when we’re gone, what about when there’s nobody left?”

The discomfort only seems to worsen, but it’s accomplice is realization. They’re seeing this situation from the outside for the first time, looking inward to see the full gravity.

“That will not become.”

Everyone’s heads turn, you look up from the floor. Kongo is standing there, next to him a figure half his height draped entirely in sheets. Only one portion of the figure is visible, a hand, so small in comparison to his, held in a delicate grip within Kongo’s.

“Jet, may I continue this discussion later? There is another matter stood beside me.”

Jet’s own hand clenches, but he releases with an acceptance. “Yes, I’m not sure what I was trying to say.”

“Your words are a hard truth we all must accept. I want to say the same things, perhaps I can help you to articulate them when we return to the topic. At least for now, please let me make you happy for awhile longer. The body will need time, but I have completed his head and given him eyes. I thought you would all want to see.”

Everyone gathers to his side, Jet takes the farthest back place, and you don’t move, just looking at the floor again. Kongo pulls back the sheet from his head, and evidently he leaves a good first impression.

A dazzling bright yellow face, ever so slightly round, very sleek, and the mineral, whatever he is, stunning. He blinks as his eyes adjust to the brightness again, and just stares forward, unknowing, as everyone oggles the sight. He is met by coos and awes, his sunlight eyes bouncing between onlookers, and finally up to Kongo. He grips his hand tighter, as in an instinct. As his head turns, a glimpse of his neck-length hair, perfectly straight and cut to horizontal lines draws more sounds from his audience.

“I wonder if you all still remember your crystallography and mineralogy lessons, who wants to guess his name?”

He is answered by a parade of potential answers, each becoming progressively less confident.


“Lemon Quartz!”


“Good attempts, but you all must be sure to observe the habit. I will give you a moment to deliberate.”
His youthful beauty cuts a disgusting thought into your gut. To fight against it and the sudden dizziness in your head you pull in your knees and sit.

“He will start picking up speech soon, if not already searching for meaning in our words, but as of yet I have not decided how to handle his lessons. Whether or not to include Antozonite’s methods had also weighed heavily on me. My decision was that he should begin as soon as he is able, for his own safety’s sake, but I will defer that final choice to--”

More than this nausea, as Kongo once described the effect you had on Lunarians, matching what you feel now, a fever is boiling over too. The surface of your body is getting hot.

“Antozonite, are you unwell?”

While everyone else is still fixated on the newcomer, Jet turns to give you his full focus.


As Jet starts approaching, you force through the sickly pursove and dash out of the ward. You barely make it out onto the grass before collapsing from a pain in your core. Heaving contractions force flammable gas from your mouth, instantly catalyzed by the strong heat. When the first wave passes, a burnt portion of grass marks where you had fallen. Another wave comes, weaker, after you’ve stood and are leant against the wall. Black streaks run down where the burning was most intense, and a charred handprint sits above it. When all is said and done you are left shaking and cooled sitting with your back against the wall, but the feelings that prompted the sick still haven't left.

Jet, who had witnessed at least a portion of what happened, cautiously gets closer.

“I-its’s okay, the temperature’s died down.”

He takes your word and sits next to you.

“What was that?”

“I felt sick, I guess this… this must be what that's like.”

“Sick, like the lunarians got when you were around. Any idea why?”

“It started right when I saw… Well, his face.”

“They’re still trying to guess, by the way. But why would seeing someone’s face for the first time make you react that way?”

“I think it was,” there's a pause as you try to understand your own feelings, “I think I just remembered seeing the same for everyone. I was there to see Gyro, Cryolite, and even Almond. I felt just now like I wouldn’t be able to protect him, since the others were…”

“Your fault? You think you're responsible for what happened, so you feel responsible for him too.”

“Yeah, that sums it up.”

Jet stands up and brushes himself off, and holds out his hand. Taking it, the welcome support keeps you steady on your weakened legs.

“That’s stupid. You’re not the kind to let it drag you this far when you know it isn't true. You can't be everywhere at once.”
He walks you back inside, where everyone is scratching their heads at what the bright yellow gem’s identity could be. He is currently delighting at the side of an annoyed Opal, moving an empty bowl around in his hands.

“Oh, Zircon?” Comes the voice of Jacinth.

Siderite beside him, who clearly already knows the answer, laughs. “No, but that was the closest guess so far. You've got the right structure.”

“I swear I’ve ticked the box on every possible configuration of mono and polysilicate, the only thing left he could even be is… Just Carbon. He’s a diamond!?”

“A hiddlebug ding and there it is! That’s my little pupil.”

That gets the attention of the full group. “Diamond?” is echoed a few times, along with a selage of “Oh”s and “that makes sense”s. Among the noise you can even hear an “I didn't know diamonds came in other pretty colors too…”

No wonder he was so fast.

Kongo picks up from where he left off. “Yes, he is a very rare form of diamond which experienced a change of conditions during metamorphosis. The refraction of light in his unusual variation of structure gives him his striking yellow appearance. As such, I think it appropriate he be named Yellow Diamond.”

This draws cheers and excitement from everyone around, and even Opal cracks a smile, although it may just be because Yellow sets down his stuff on being assailed by introductions.

“A material that hard and rare, that’s amazing.” Jet leans in close to you. “See, Ant, give it a few years and he’ll be stronger than any of us.” He leans back. “You fine to stand on your own now?”

“Yeah, I think I'm okay. You're right, he's going to be something different, I got worked up over nothing. We’ll do like you said, be more careful.”

Jet gives your arm a squeeze before letting go and hopping in the introduction line. After a short moment of hesitation, you do the same.

No reason to flood him with information he won’t understand, simple is best. However, standing close to Yellow, despite what Jet said being true, still puts knots in your cotthage. Worry is justified to your body, and it reflects as a fear on his behalf. Your fear defies your desire, and rather than simple as you had planned, your introduction is quiet and shaky. “Antozonite. Nothing’s going to happen to you.”

He doesn't understand, maybe for the better.

“Thank you for showing him such welcoming kindness,” says Kongo. “His body will be ready in two days if all goes well. Kyanite, will you accompany me today and tomorrow while I shape his figure, so you may design his uniform?”

“I’ve already got so many plans, his will be a testament of pure untainted make, an unmatched style!”
“Then I will take him back once more, and leave you. Jet, as I had asked earlier, I would like you to speak to me later tonight. We will discuss daily duties and organization. Antozonite, if you are well enough to join, please do. For now please allow Opal to examine you, I’m worried about your condition, and am not able now to help you myself.”

“Yes, I will.”

The group disperses, leaving only yourself, Jet, and Opal in the spring air.


“It makes it sound like it's happened before, but it's new. I had to run outside to... Vomit."

Opal blinks a few times, "Are you sure?"

"Yeah of course I'm sure!"

"Ack! Cripes, just keep it down, would ya'? If you're sure then hop on the table. That's probably not good."

He digs around a box of tools for awhile, and comes up for air with a sinister looking spring loaded contraption.

"W-what's that for?"

"Vomiting usually starts as an upset in the stomach of an animal. We don't have stomachs, but I gotta start somewhere you know. Take your shirt off."


With your shirt, a borrowed autumn uniform, almost all of the powder from your torso is peeled away.

"Easy to forget how pretty that color is with how much of a wack loner you are." Opal clamps the machine around your thin waist, and pulls back three hammers to load the spring. "Don't slouch. I need your abdoment straight." On the opposite side of the hammers, a metal plate is pushed against your side. He pulls a small bell attached by cord to the plate to his ear, and presses something on the device.

A loud ding rings out threefold as the hammers strike against your left. The impact drives waves of displeasure through every inch of you, not unlike the feeling you have when burning. When the vibration subsides, he removes the horrible beast from you.

"Where the hell did you two go?"


"Inside your torso, it's like the library after one of the Tourmas oversleeps, stress fractures everywhere, small fragments dislodged and moving around hollow portions. I'm surprised you didn't notice, if someone shook you you'd be an instrument. Rapid compression and decompression, expansion and contraction on the vertical axis, it's like you were actively trying to ruin your body. So where'd you even go to pull that off?"

"We... We went down a cliff, and it was really f-far away."

"Evi-damn-dently, look at this mess. And, 'we'? You went down there too?" He turns to Jet.

"Uh, yeah, it was, well--"

"G- Wha... Neither of you are allowed to do anything exerting until my say so, got it?"

"What, isn't there a way you can patch it up?"

"I would have to cut you in half just to find out."

"Point taken. You win, nothing exerting. How long?"

"We'll do this again next week to see how quickly your inclusions are handling the healing on their own." He hands you your clothes back. "Go wash that salt off."

"Yes sir, jeez."

"Jet, you're not free either. You're next."
Leaving Jet to the torture of Opal's doctoring, you make a non-exerting run for the freshwater pond, and jump in, scrubbing away the salt that's started to harden and crystallize. New thoughts arise while the clean water clears your head.

If it's hurting me to exert myself, then there's a big question that needs answering. Who's going to train everyone? I can't spar with them, or demonstrate for them, and there's limited time between attacks. Relying on my skills exclusively, that way of thinking is self destructive. No doubt Yellow will be formidable, but it will be twenty years before he's even ready to start. I need a solution in two days. It's not like everyone's completely incapable, after all two of the three attacks yesterday were handled and I wasn't there for any, but sixty six percent isn't a stunning success rate. Well, still.

Yellow... I didn't really think about it, but I need to have a way to keep you safe. 'Nothing's going to happen to you,' after all. That's not a promise I'll break.

Somebody who's inexperienced, or without a partner, who can have a dedicated role as your caretaker. That's what I need. Jacinth? Maybe, I know he looks up to Siderite and wants to partner with him. It's sad to say it, but Goshe is out a potential partner now, with Gyro gone. Maybe.

Satisfied that the salt is all dissolved away, you climb from the pool. Standing there, surprised to see you emerge completely uncovered and without any powder remaining, is Goshenite.

"Oh, uh, hi, didn't realize you were there, wasn't watching you bathe or anything, I was just looking at my reflection, so yeah."

>Talk to Goshenite about Yellow Diamond
>Avoid the subject, this needs more thought
>Talk to Goshenite about Yellow Diamond
I really want to find out how there managed to be three Goshes and Morgas
I mean, a repeat of Heliodor is fine, but AT LEAST three Goshes and Morgas? This I want to see
>Talk to Goshenite about Yellow Diamond
Kyaah! You saw it, didn't you?
Closed to talk
You snatch your folded outfit to offer some cover. "The perfect way to convince someone you weren't watching them bathe. Anyway, Goshe I'm glad you're here, I have a favor to ask."

"Y-yeah sure! What is it?"

"Since Gyrolite's gone I want you to look after Yellow."

"What? Ant that's, I mean I'd like to, I just thought that you would want to do that, since you're the strongest and everything."

"As it turns out, well at least for awhile I'm not going to be that anymore. The strongest."

"How's that?"

"Opal just told me. I've been overexerting since Winter, and it's been slowly breaking me apart from the inside. Earlier..."

"You're okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. Just have to take it easy for awhile. And if you don't mind, could you keep this under wraps? I want to find the right way to tell everyone, maybe if it heals quick enough I won't even have to."

"I don't mind. But about Yellow, are you sure you want me to? There are others who are better suited than me."

"They've also got partners. You, on the other hand,"

"Gyro, you already said."

"You seemed closer to him than to anyone else."

"I guess that's true."

Water drips from your hair. Goshenite seems uncomfortable.

"Sorry to drop that responsibility on you so soon."

"Huh? Oh, no it's fine really. I'm just... I was already here kind of lost in thought."


"I just have to wonder, what's happening up there? Almond came back, so--"

"Best case they're just being kept there. Worst case, the Lunarian who spoke to me was telling the truth."

His eyes stay stuck to the pool. "Mm."

"Want me to leave you alone?"


"Okay. Thank you for taking care of Yellow."

As you're walking away, Goshenite calls out one last thing. "Do you think... No, nevermind."

Later in the day, you join Jet in a report to Kongo. He doesn't appear to realize that either of you have entered, as he is entirely focused on carving Yellow. Jet starts.

"Sensei, we're here."

"Good, I'm glad." A small yellow piece drops to the floor. "Regarding what you said earlier,"

"I-- yes I was overly harsh."

"Maybe, but it was true nonetheless. Antozonite, how are you doing?"

"Opal told me I have very serious fracturing throughout my chest and abdomen."

"Yes, unfortunately when we are under emotional stress, we are more vulnerable to physical stresses. I take it then that you also have some form of this same fracturing, Jet?"

"I do, just not as severe as Ant's."

"So neither of you will be able to offer protection in the form of fighting. It may be selfish, but in a way I'm happy. It was unfair for either of you to be placed in a position of sole responsibility like that, and now you are entitled to rest."

"But what about the others? Who's going to train them if we can't?" Jet asks.

"Nobody said you couldn't train, the only thing you will be unable to do is intervene. That much I can handle. I have a way of my own to ward off Lunarians."
Strong words surge behind your filter, through which only the nicest escape. "If you can fight them too, how come you haven't?"

"I understand that may have brought on frustration." Another piece falls. "I know it's born of care for the ones you've lost. I will give you the answer to that, however, you mustn't share this information. In order to send them away, I must use my body as a resource, and as a resource it is not renewable. I cannot protect forever by doing so, eventually I would be lost, and you would have no protection at all. It was my naive hope that should a danger like this arise, you would be able to give them all the gift of self defense." It seems he's moved to carving a different area of Yellow's body, as he twitches and laughs at the touch. "Ticklish just beneath the left shoulder blade, I must remember that for later."

"It sounds like you've changed your mind about that."

"Indeed. I have a proposal, that I believe will prevent anyone else from being taken. Continue to train them through periodic exercises, but only as a supervisor. We will accompany a single patrol group every day that the Lunarians may come. When they do, we will give the group reign to fight, and I will intervene the moment I sense danger. As I'm sure you've noticed, the school is not in pristine condition. We've strayed from our normal way of life, and neglected our home. It is my hope that doing this will give us time to return to the way things were, as much as they can. If it would make you all happier again, it is worth whatever portion of my body I lose."

It did, and it was. The first months were a little rough, but once everyone had gotten past some initial hurdles with fighting they progressed quickly, seeing as they were learning through experience. The intensity of the Lunarian attacks died down as well. There were almost never more than one platform in a day, and none were of the kind that carried unique weapons or small armies. Things became routine quickly. Every third sunny day would be a different patrol. There would be a sunspot, and whoever was around at the time would stay and watch the scheduled patrol group. Yourself, Jet, and Kongo-sensei would always be there to observe, and if the partners made a mistake that put them in danger, he would destroy the platform. After every fight you would offer your criticisms and observations. In addition, you built the maintenance of the school into training. The first step of this was something that had caught your attention many times.

"Okay, the first person who can climb up there and clean that mildew gets to not have to do it next time."

"How? Only Almond and Citrine were able to get up there."

"Use your imagination. Use objects around you. Everything you need is right here. I'll also have you remember that when performing initial carvings, Sensei makes note of every ticklish spot you have. Sensei, prepare the feather."


Yellow Diamond's first introduction to everyone took place two days later. He had been fully shaped, and his summer uniform completed. He was powdered and his hair cut and styled. It was perfectly straight, forehead length in the front and neck length everywhere else.


"Everyone, this is Yellow Diamond as you will continue to know him. Please give him the love you have shown for each other as he grows."

"And please turn your attention to the hem of his uniform. Here, along the rim of the shorts, I've extended the length in the back and shortened the circumference to compliment his hair. Similar such adjustments can be found here, here--"


The reactions were staggeringly weighted in favor of his appearance and general existence, rather than Kyanite's workmanship.

As for your condition, five more days passed until as asked you returned to Opal.

"Can't you make that thing any more bearable!?"

"No. Stop squirmin' you fidgety bast- er, just stop moving, I need to listen. Mm."

"Good news?"

"No. Sounds about the same as last time. Maybe a millimeter of the boundary's been healed up, but even that's a stretch and not around the full volume. There must be microfractures that split the bonds between inclusions and antozonite."

"But I haven't felt sick since."

"You haven't gone off an underwater cliff and come back up since. That's probably what pushed it over the edge. Maybe you were just down there too long, I can't say, but you need to keep everything cool. With this, I don't know it might speed up as more inclusions re-form their bonds, but I might even avoid walking around when it's not absolutely necessary."

"How long will I have to be this way?"

"Supposing it speeds up exponentially, around a year. If not, could be fifty. I've got an idea, though. Before that, Jet, you're up."


The idea which Opal spoke about turned out to be very helpful. He had Kyanite design harnesses that held your backs straight. It was very restrictive at first, but without too much time it became normal, and it let you freely move around without stressing your core. Before too long, Summer had passed. Autumn crept in with its dark clouds and rainy weather, and seeing Goshenite try to keep track of the crazed Yellow in his first thunderstorm was unforgettable. Still, Autumn was as short as the Summer, and winter is just a few days away.





"Okay, try 'snow.'"




"You know, let's just get back to words with 'n' in them."


"No, no we're done for now, okay?"


On your way to Kongo-sensei, you've walked in on Goshe during Yellow's diction practice.

"Having trouble?"


"'w' and 'n' seem to be the only problems."

"Well if you need me I'll be wandering my way up these winding stairs to the wonderful... Wongo's chamber."

"I hope you get knocked over by the wind!"


Inside the room, he is sat in meditation in his normal place.

"Clear headed yet?"

"My head is opaque."

"What will we do about winter?"

"What will we do? I wonder too. How does Opal feel?"

"It would delay the healing process, but not horribly as long as I don't overdo it, since it's coming along well."

"And how does Jet feel?"

"He thinks it would be a good idea for one of us to stay awake with someone who's willing to train for Winter Duties."

"And how do you feel?"

"I'm not sure."

The last vestiges of Autumn breeze run its fingers through your hair, wrapping its grip tightly around your newly made uniform which incorporates a redesigned harness. While resource collecting was driving most everyone's daily chores, you had asked Kyanite to create a better version, one which wasn't as intrusive, that didn't look like you were constantly wearing a brace. He obliged and went a bit overboard, it's hardly distinguishable from the normal uniform, but just as strong. He made one for Jet as well. Beyond the wide window, a shooting star draws your eyes to the horizon. The shore is absent of its dancing colors, but the lack of light makes the stars bright as the moons. Then there was the moon. The pendulum of the cruelest clock, never ceasing to swing, day, night, day, night, day, night, attack, terror, sadness, friends, hope. The machine.

>"I want to stay awake this winter."
>"I want to rest."
Let's see... the last time we worked with someone for winter, everything went horribly wrong. Also, we're injured, so the logical decision is...
>"I want to stay awake this winter."
Closed for stay awake.
Aiming for another three updates by the end of today.
"I think, the Winter was always where I was home, I don't want to give that up."

"And I think you're making the best decision. You would not be happy confined to that new cave of yours, sleeping. Your dreams would have been sad ones. The thought of you remaining sad is too much. I will offer whatever assistance I can to ensure your recovery is not hampered. And for Winter, Jet's suggestion?"

The stairs either side peer down. The sound of Yellow's youthful laughter rises from beneath them, and chatter, and conversation, shouting about a card game. Jet's voice is not among any of them, he retired to sleep early tonight.

"It's smart. Who though... Someone with the tenacity to stay awake and the agility to handle the floes. Natrolite, would it be unfair to ask him? Maybe Morganite and Heliodore. Goshenite is always busy with Yellow, Uvarovite and Malaya are strongest otherwise. It needs deliberation."

"Mm. You may find the choice easier to make than you might believe. If you'll excuse me, I must now return to my meditation."

The next morning you were woken by Natrolite himself. He offered to stay awake without even realizing you yourself intended to. And so, two days after, just as a year before, you watch as the huge door closes, hiding the light from your tired friends. Yellow Diamond's first winter and first hibernation, he stands in the middle of everyone, watching out. Just before the door is shut, his eyes and face light up.


He tugs Goshe's gown and points past you as the doors seal tight against the weather.

Natrolite turns to face behind, Jet and yourself do as well.

"It's been a long time since I've seen the island like this."

"My favorite part."

"You say that every year." Replies Sensei.

"Someone else would always say that, too."

Snow comes down in fat flakes, quickly building its icy ground above the grass. The last Lunarian attack was two weeks ago, and there's only been one sunny day since.

"Natrolite, I'm going to start prepping the halls to keep too much snow from drifting in, if you want to join me." Says Jet.

"Yes, definitely. Ant, are you..."

"Give me a bit. I'll be there, I just need to go somewhere first."

"Okay. Don't be too long."

The two leave, and you, after glancing once more to the south, start walking deeper into the building.

"Antozonite," comes Sensei's voice. "Would you like me to accompany you?"

"I'll be fine, but thank you."

"Very well."
One turn, then another, each bringing you closer to that hallway. The echo of your own steps act to remind you what it was like to walk here with another. A bowl of water atop a stand sits halfway down this hall. Reaching in, you grab two small shards, stowed away here where, should Lunarians enter inside the school again, the transparency of the crystal in water will keep them from being found.

"Sorry, you know... Not coming around anymore. It's Winter again, already been an entire year. We haven't lost anyone else since Spring."

Drift floats down from the windows, a few flakes land in your hands with the shards.

"That was some of the first snow."

You hold him for a few more minutes, and return the pieces to the bowl when you remember that you should be helping Jet and Natrolite. They're on the floor beneath you, spreading a thin powder beneath the windows.

"Where were you off too?"

"Just had some catching up to do."

Jet tosses you a broom. "I wanted to try something different this time. We're sweeping this down both of these side hallways, we'll hit the back beneath the woodwork too."

Together the three of you coat the floors fairly quickly, the gentle pushing of the bristles among an otherwise silent atmosphere giving an eerie sense of being alone. When even that has stopped, the silence holds the whole school still. Natrolite finds himself a place to sit in the commons, and remains there unphased, rather embracing that stillness.

"So where did you go?" asks Jet. "Unless you don't want to talk about it."

"It's not that, just a little embarrassing. There are a few pieces left of Cryolite that the Lunarian never found. I was..."

"Talking to him? It's not embarrassing, I talk to Almond. It's only weird if they talk back. Hasn't happened yet for me, so."

"I guess. Do you still get those dreams?"

"I didn't for a long time, but just the other night--"

"When you went to bed early?"

"Yeah, I was starting to fall asleep and kept seeing heads again."

"Probably just because it's Winter now."

"Probably. I'll just keep my mind off it with work. Is there any more that needs to be done today?"

"Normally I'd flush out the cave, but I hardly spent any time there this year, so I doubt it really needs it at all."

"Do you want to do it? I can help."

>Flush the cave
>Avoid it this year
>Flush the cave
If there's nothing else to do.
>Avoid it this year
W-we're out socializing with everyone, we don't need to hide in a NEETcave anymore!
In the interest of time I'm going to close in 15 minutes, coin flip if necessary.
Rolled 2 (1d2)

1 for >>2680839
2 for >>2680863
Closed to Avoid.
"I'm not bothered. For the next while I think I'll continue to be around a lot, so I'm not sure I'll need to clean it as often. Besides, Imagine the fit Opal would throw if he knew we were cliff diving off the cape."

"Fair enough, the less times that mechanical death crab has to be strapped to me the better."

Overnight, snow piled up a solid six inches or so, but the first signs of Ice floes didn't show up until a few days later. In the middle of the first week there was another sunny day, keeping the water just warm enough to delay them for awhile. That doesn't stop their awakening from being rude, however, as a screeching pulverizes any notion of a pleasant morning.

"They're louder than I remember!" Shouts Natrolite, as you're all running southeast.

"Did you ever break them?"

"No, come to think of it you're the first I remember ever doing it."

In the bay just east of the Chord Shore, a mountainous group of floes are competing for the space.

I hope this isn't too intense... "Just watch closely. It takes a lot of practice." Running up the ridge is no different than it has been. Nailing the jump was a bit hard, but otherwise no worse than ordinary. The largest floe splits down the middle, the crashing and waves and crashing waves drown out any other noise around. The "You gotta make sure your heel puts enough pressure to crack all the way through to the next one, otherwise it'll just kind of sit there with a scar running up it and nothing will happen."

"Do I need to do the backflip?"

"No, but it'll help to use this instead of yours." The icebreaker trades hands between you and Natrolite.

He runs out to a smaller floe and instantly slips on the ice. "Sorry!" Standing and regaining his balance, he goes for it, up the side, and losing it again, sliding down to the bottom. He carefully steps back to the start of his line, but rather than timidly, the sword is pushed into the floe all the way to the hilt.


The extra force can't entirely make up for the weak punctures, but it serves to run the fracture at least partly upward.

“You've never done that before?” You ask, jogging onto the floe to finish the job.

“I don't think so, but as you know I’m a little old.”

A few more prods at weak points are all it needs for the cracks to start spreading.

Jet preemptively drags Natrolite to safety as the floe breaks apart. Jet, having only a week or so of ice floe practice with you present last year, is still only about as experienced with them as Natrolite is, or at least thinks he is. They trade off taking down the smaller floes going back up and down until they can’t get it to break any further. You step in, showing them where the fractures should have started, how much pressure they should have used, how they could have judged that.
This goes on until the day's end, and repeats itself every time that a new batch of floes creeps in. Slowly but surely Jet regains some feel that he garnered the previous year, and Natrolite shows off more hidden talent that, to be fair, he's probably more just forgotten about.

Natrolite has been keeping an eye on the weather, since the next sunny day is due for another attack. Sure enough, although the temperature has steadily been dropping toward the solstice, there's always bound to be some meteorological quirk, and he notices it a few days in advance.

"Look over there," he says, pointing southeast. "See the arc direction on the bottom of that cumulonimbus?"


"There's another pressure system moving in, it usually only goes that direction if the system is going to lift the cover."

"Is this good or bad?"

"It's going to be sunny again, probably a few days in a row."

"Starting when, today?"

"No, not for another couple. Expect it the day after tomorrow to be safe, but my gut says it might even be a day later."

A knot begins forming in your own gut, and it worsens as the days pass. Jet notices that your mood has soured, but he's not without his own reservations. Everyday tasks, the shoveling, dusting, sweeping, they become indistinguishable. Monotonous hand motions taken on muscle memory, leaving only more time to stew over the coming attack. Moreover, interactions lose an intimacy, that intangible sense of connection, as if you were like before. Oiled and slick, that machine is ticking away again.

Two days later, and Natrolite's gut seems to have been right, as it usually is with anything weather related.

"You okay?" Jet asks while the two of you are organizing Opal's shelves according to his inventory note.

"Hn? Yeah, I'm okay. Last time, this is when everything went wrong."

"You are sour. Get off that ladder for a second, I want to try something." You climb down and he digs around beneath the sill, and pulls out a box. Inside, a unique silk you recognize to wrap around Almandine's head.

"Oh-- Come on that's... Let's get this done--" Jet grabs your arm as you are walking back to the stepladder.

"Just try. Please, you're driving me crazy with all this sulking."

"F-fine, but, I don't want to look, it's weird."
"Coming from you... Just lean against my back, you don't have to see him that way." He unwraps the head and you sit back to back with him, dreading being awake. "Hi Almond. Ant needed some help, so I brought him." Through closed eyes you can feel Jet's weight shift as he turns his head back. "Now you say something."

"Uh, Almandine... You look nice. Agh, this is--!"

"I think Ant's been feeling really alone lately. Even though his friends are here with him, he's sad about his other friends, the ones up there with the rest of you. He's worried that he'll mess up, and either me or Natrolite will get brought up there too."

Jet's words hit with that invisible thing. There's a thing in your chest too, inside it are certain things, a reluctance to get close. The snow coming down over you both weakens it.

"Yeah, I have."

"It's really nice that he worries about me... But I'm worried about him too. What if something does happen, and he's never happy again?"


There's a sound, a drop hitting the ground.

"The last year I've seen an Ant that I've never seen before, because he was happy for real. I don't want that to stop, I want him to be happy no matter what happens, even when he's sad it should be short, because he'll always have something else to be happy."


"And if he's like this... What if instead of that he stays like this? I don't know what to do to make him happy."


"Almond what should I do!?"

"At the cliff, I wanted to tell you that... That I wanted to be partners, like how the others have. A real best friend."

All at once, Jet drops the head back in the box and spins around, pulling you into a tight hug. Oil is running from his eyes, and you return the embrace. He laughs, but doesn't say any words. He doesn't really have to, and you happily keep it that way for awhile.

"Hey, all that stuff you said, you were right... I need to go take a walk to clear my head. If you need me I'll probably be around the Yellow Forest."

"Sure, Natrolite and I can handle the rest of this, don't worry about it."

"Thanks. Not just for the chores."

In the woods, snow covers tree branches and has frozen whatever leaves still remain below its unbroken white surface. Something about being the first to trod down that smooth, even, texture is incredibly satisfying. The matte grain of bright white, the small mountains it builds at the base of trees and above shrubs. It's not unlike the ocean, the blinding spots of sunlight glinting from the small bumps and ridges.


The sky is a foreboding blue, and in it, to the north, what is at first a black speck grows to a nine pointed sunspot. No time to think, luckily you already had the icebreaker on you.

Attack, terror, friends, hope.

Jet, Natrolite.

Tunnel vision.

The music comes blaring as the sunspot expands outward, the point of no return. Now or never,

>Fight alone
>Run away
Let's rock.
>Run Away
The proper strategy is to fuck off and let Sensei blast it
What are you, chicken?
>Run Away
Seems no use fighting alone if we're certain to bust ourself when there's a chance we can get help or senseihax
Remember, Sensei and Opal told us not to fight earlier, and we are injured. I think listening to them is a good idea
>Run away
Going for Sensei is the safest option, but hopefully they won't shoot as he runs.
Closed to run.

Turn heel and run, keep them behind you, keep your guard up, watch for arrows. The instructions you feed your body are quick and calculated. Left, right, spin to deflect an incoming volley.

It won't be like last time, because I'm not alone anymore.

Turn, run, faster, get away, get home.

I'm not afraid of being helped, so follow me, I don't care!

Spin again, defend. Turn, almost to the edge of the woods, something in the corner of your vision. Doesn't matter, keep running. More arrows are coming, hit them away, turn, surprise, collide.

An instant of lost focus, you pull yourself up from the snow.

That was...

Standing stalwart above you is Citrine, strange white clothes drape from his shoulders. His face is stern. Everything goes blank the next moment as something hits you from behind, shattering your body.

Perhaps it was only your head which was shattered, as there is still sensation without perception. Your body is feeling things, but there is no thought to perceive it. Your self returns in what is to you only a moment later, to remember and understand those sensations. Being dragged, lifted, carried, hundreds of clinks and vibrations as you were reassembled, but you're not ready to wake up yet. First your mind is taken to another place. It's dreamlike, less solid than it was before, but the same cool grey rock extends forever.

"Back again, you just can't seem to keep out of trouble."

"Where are you?"

There's a tap on your shoulder, but when you turn around, he's still not there.

"Sorry, this is the best I can do. You'll just have to deal with my disembodied voice for a bit."

"Did I get taken?"

"I can't tell you anything you don't know."

"Then what about Citrine, was that--"

"Real? As real as you thought he was, that's what I felt too. But, if I recall correctly, you've seen me before too."

"If I did get taken, then what? If I'm on the moon, there must be something I should do."

"What do you want to do?"

"Destroy them."

"What do you think you ought to do?"

"Find out why I'm not a bunch of necklaces."

"Maybe the more reasoned approach."

"And then destroy them."

His laugh echoes over the infinite valley of stone, and it fades away.

"Are you still there?"

There's a long silence before you receive an answer.

"Yes. I was just thinking. It's strange, but I've got this sense that he was there once."

"The moon?"

"Yes, maybe one or two of his inclusions hold the memories. All I can get from them are feelings. Pale, Bleak. Sad. That, and every time I try to probe them I get one word. Her. It feels... Spiteful."

"Not a lot of information to go on."

"Sadly there's nothing else. Pale, bleak, sad, her, hate."

"Thanks, I'll try to keep it in mind."

"Don't thank me, you're the one who remembers."

"Ick, don't say weird stuff like that, it's confusing."

He laughs again, and the place fades away.
I'm conscious again... I think.

You press your finger against your thigh to be sure.


Footsteps are getting closer. Soon they're right beside the table you've been laid on, and you spring into action.

"Surprise attack! I've got you now you Lun... Lunarian... Scum."

Kongo-Sensei stands with his hands up.

"I surrender."

"H-how long was I out," you ask, sitting down from your stance.

"A few days, the breakage was nothing extreme. You were also quite fortunate, your torso was spared from additional harm, I do not believe your recovery will be delayed by this significantly, aside perhaps from emotional trauma. All things considered however, you seem in high spirits."

"Well, I expected to wake up on the moon so, small victories."

"Had you not informed of your whereabouts, we may not have been able to make it in time."

"I tried to run back, I didn't want to fight alone but I saw something which caught me off guard."

"What would that be?"

"I saw Citrine, dressed in white. I ran into him, he was trying to stop me."

He furrows his brow. "Neither Jet nor Natrolite nor I saw anything aside from the usual platform. Was it perhaps a trick of the light?"

"I felt myself collide with him, I saw him looking down at me."

"If you are sure, then I trust that what you saw was the truth. That being so, then there is the worrying possibility that he was co-opted. Perhaps that is their fate when one is taken to the moon. Join, or..."

"A bunch of necklaces."


As predicted, the sunny weather had lasted another two days beyond the first. You woke up the day after the solstice, and soon returned to duties. The next sunny day, nearly a month later, you did not make the mistake of venturing out alone, but when the Lunarians did arrive there was no Citrine to be seen. The remainder of Winter housed three more attacks with the same results. When it was time to open the doors for spring, there was already someone waiting behind them, quite literally bouncing with energy. A groggy Goshenite, standing beside him, clutches a pillow.

"Goshe, snow!"

He drags Goshenite out of the chamber, rushing to see the last remaining snow that hasn't melted away.

"Good morning," he says, while being pulled by the arm.

Everyone slowly emerges one by one until Epidote takes the role of straggler. They're subject to a briefing of the winter, and soon it's back to the regular. Days become weeks, and every subsequent one leads to more good news from Opal.

"You're almost fully healed. Hell as long as you're not planning any week long runs or hundred foot drops you don't even need that brace anymore."

"Does it as a hundred feet if it's underwater?"

"You're kidding, you wanna go back there?"

"We said we would, once a year," Jet says, interjecting.

"You're both idiots! But still, you technically could. You'd be stuck in that suit longer, though. Extra month roundabout."

>Don't go
Closed to go.
"Okay thanks!" You blurt, putting your shirt back on, swiping the resin bowl, and running out of the ward. Jet follows you.

"Wait, Jet I haven't done you yet!"

It's too late for his diagnoses to cloud your heads about it. Just an hour out and you're both ready to leave. The bowl is handed off to Cuprite, who happened to be walking by at the time.

"You're leaving again?"

"We'll be back later today or tomorrow."

Cuprite's face is a constant source of heartbreak. "Okay, but be safe, I don't want either of you to get hurt again."

"You stay safe too."

"Mm," he nods his head and waves as you depart to the sea.

The Jellyfish grant you their own farewell in the form of annoyingly clinging to your hair. This time of year, most days are sunny with interspersed rain showers, but the climate is not your strong suit on the island let alone above the ocean. Today is heavy rainfall, but far away from the shore it clears up. By the time you reach the cliff, a few hours into the afternoon, the bright columns of light all around are nothing if not impressive. Down below, the forest of stones, exactly as it was, chews the seafloor. You duck between and climb over stones to reach the outcropping you slept at last year. Jet takes the rock next to you and leans back.

"Apparently Lignite went to the moon at some point."

"Really? Did Sensei tell you?"

"No actually, I guess I did. It's hard to explain. Apparently it's not nice, though. The way he thought about the moon, he saw it as a very bad place."

"It must be. Something's gotta be wrong to make the Lunarians into monsters."

"There was also someone there he hated."

"Just one? Who was it, the prince?"

"I'm not sure. A 'her.'"

Jet digs into the sand and pulls up a handful. "Here's what I'm confused about, when Lignite was around, the Lunarians weren't enemies. Firstly, why was he going up there, and secondly why was he so disdainful?"

"He was the smartest any of us have ever been, maybe he could tell they were no good."

"Maybe when he came back he convinced Sensei to keep any of us from going there too. It would explain the feelings he had."

"Maybe. No way to really know unless I see the moon for myself, and given how unlikely my surprise attack strategy is to work, I'd rather not try."

Jet empties his hand and pulls his knees in close. "It was almost me. Maybe I'd know all that now."

"It shouldn't have happened to either of you."

The sun's set beyond some point, and the light starts vanishing from the depth rapidly.

"I think I'm going to sleep. Funny, I was just thinking, last year we said this would be the day we could be sad, and I wasn't sad at all. Now look."

He falls asleep not moments afterward.


Your voice cuts out as you see Citrine standing aside the rock opposite the clearing. He bears the same expression of contempt, staring. The light fades until the water is ink, and you fall into a dreamless sleep.
"Ant, wake up! No time to waste, we told Yellow we'd be back earlier than usual."

Three years ago, Citrine became a regular appearance during your yearly excursions to the forest of stones. He never said a word, not for lack of you trying to talk to him, and was only ever around when Jet was asleep. There's still nothing to prove that he was even really there, but last night he wore a different face. Rather than his angry look, it was softer. Neither Jet nor yourself wear any special clothing now, you've both long since fully healed, as Opal assumed was because of your avoidance of harsh physical activity during that Winter. This year, Yellow is set to begin his lessons. He's become quite good with speech and his coordination has improved. He's not quite ready for taking on a sword, you've been delaying thinking about when the best time for that might even be, but it's not now; maybe after his burnout. As of yet, you've convinced Goshenite to keep him free of viewing any battles. As far as you know, the only one he's witnessed is the battle which took Citrine and Gyrolite.

"Yeah, I'm up." A quick look around, no Citrine in sight. If he does really come, he's got an incredible hiding place or at least some incredible discipline to wake up and sneak away in such low light.

At home, after washing the saltwater away, Yellow is prancing around the library.

"I wanna read this... This book! And, that book. And that one!"

"Yellow please," "You're knocking everything over." "We have to re-" "organize all of that--"

"This one, what is this name!?"

"An observational journal of island" "insect habitual patterns part one through six" "and some drawings of more important things I did while bored and was supposed to be watching them," "by Jasper. That might be a little bit too--"

"I am gonna know what all that means!?"

"I don't know what most of that means," you say.

"Ant you are back! Where is Jet?"

"His turn in the pool. Deciding which books you want to read?"

"They are these. Maybe more too."

"Those are just all the biggest we have."

"Yes, I wanna be smart."

"Okay well small steps. You couldn't walk in a... Bad example, you couldn't talk in a day. Maybe try this one," you say, reaching for a much thinner book. The title is hastily scrawled on, "'I wrote this book for chumps and your' no E 'a chump for reading it.' By Citrine. Alright nevermind I guess."
"Citrine writed a book!?" Yellow drops the stack of encyclopedia sized manuscripts to the chagrin of Tourmaline and Paraiba, and clutches the small poorly bound book close to his chest. "I just want this one. Small steps." He's aware of the story of how Citrine and Gyrolite sacrificed themselves for his sake, and cherishes any chance he has to learn about either of them.

Goshenite enters the library. "I'm here, sorry it took longer than I thought. Had to talk to Natrolite about something."

"Goshe, this one." He practically shoves the book to Goshenite's hands. "I wrote this book for... Alright which one of you--"

"It is Citrine's. I wanna read it."

Taken aback by Yellow's change from energetic to a melancholic tone, he drops the aggression. "Okay."

Very quickly Yellow took the opposite stance to his 'I wanna be smart,' but as with everyone he made steady progress toward it anyway. Yet more years passed, Citrine continued to visit you in the night beyond the cliff, Yellow became a quick reader and developed a good friendship with Jacinth around Study and was becoming less dependent on Goshenite. Eventually came the first losses since his arrival. Anatase and Epidote were taken one day, when they had tried to handle a platform on their own. The day before Anatase had to be put back together from a fall while cleaning mildew. When Opal was away after finishing, the two schemed to sneak out early the next morning when everything had set. By some quirk of bad luck, they arrived early that day, and it was a larger platform. The larger came sporadically, which wasn't ordinarily a problem when Sensei was around to intervene. The two were more than capable of fighting against small platforms, but some of their shards were found scattered along the white hills around mid day.

Yellow was without a doubt the fastest of everyone, but when he hit his burnout around twenty three years, his legs became weak and uncoordinated. He was quite clumsy due to this. The burnout is worst when it takes away your ability to control something you did have control over. Your body doesn't know how that part of you works anymore, but you've already become ingrained in the habits and ways of controlling it that worked. Burnouts which force you to unlearn something so fundamental take the longest to recover from, and he drew the short end of the stick.

Goshenite was walking with him in the Yellow Forest in autumn, when the colors are at their most vibrant. It was raining, and all of a sudden Yellow's legs gave out. Goshe carried him home. Nobody was surprised at the fact that he did burn out, not even himself as he'd been told that it happens, but many were sympathetic to its severity. However, despite asking Goshenite's advice, he wasn't happy with the answer he got, whatever it was. Lost as to what might help, Goshenite asked you to talk to him as well.
Yellow props himself up on Opal's table with his arms. "I want you to train me."

"I-- I haven't really..."

"Goshe said he wasn't the one who should make the decision, that he was deferring to you. He said the only way to get my legs to how they were was to use them, so I want you to train me. You've thinking about when the best time is, right?"

The rain is still coming down, water drips down the side of the windows and onto the sill. It's dark, and the light of a jelly puts faint dancing colored clouds in the air as mist rebounds up from the striking of droplets.

"For a very long time."

"Then start now, I want to re-learn from the beginning, the way that you use your body. Everything perfect, every movement is maximized for efficiency. Your full control over every unit cell, it's jawdropping, and nobody else comes close to your expertise."

Natrolite walks through the ward looking a bit surprised to see you here and Yellow awake. You wait for him to leave before giving your answer, the thought of handing a sword to him this young, knowing what danger immaturity brings is not one that sits well.

>Train Yellow
>Yellow is still too young
>train Yellow
I need to work today and would like to get an update out before then, so I will close this vote in about 30 minutes.
Closed to train.
"Fine, I'll do it."

Looking content, he drops his weight off his shoulders and stares upward. "Thanks."

The mist begins to subside, as the rain is getting stolen away. Outside there is a light shower, nothing stronger. The jellyfish around the shores tend to wander away from the shallower waters when the cold rain is strongest, so for at least the time being the view outside is like that of Winter's. The light from the moon is reflected by a thousand dots along the ground to the west to the White Hills, rain still clinging to the tips of grass, a parade in time with the breeze.

"Don't celebrate. You're not fighting until Goshe gives the go ahead."

"I don't want to fight," he says, pulling a sheet over top of him, and rolling to his side. "I just want to keep up."

"Okay. Tomorrow we'll start. If you're walking again in seven days I'll take you somewhere special to me. Goodnight."

The next morning, very early, you come to the ward and wake him.

It's not a long walk to the pool from there, but He's heavy for a hardness four with weakened structure from small hollow portions to carry.

"So explain to me how this is gonna work in a wee--"

His words are stopped by the splash as you chuck him in.

"The idea is," you say, floating to the bottom of the pool after him, "that you're not gonna be so darn heavy down here. We can focus on learning how to move them, and they won't have to support your full weight yet."

"I see," he says face down at the bottom. You help him up, supporting beneath his arms.

"One thing that hasn't changed, you still have control over the inclusions, you're just not telling them something that makes sense anymore. You keep trying to walk, which is a motion that you've memorized, and they try to tap an energy source that just isn't there anymore. But if you tried a motion that wasn't ordinary, thinking about it step by step, it would be new and they wouldn't rely on memory. What I mean is, say you wanted to tap your foot. That's normal, but say you wanted to contract the area just above the foot beneath your shin, forcing it to pull upward on it, directly controlling the motion step by step..."

The tip of his foot twitches.

"I'm... Ugh, come on you little... It's just this weird click feeling."

"The hard part is keeping a constant focus on it. We could sit here all day twitching bits, but that's only the first step. Try somewhere else."

His knee pops forward catching you in the gut, and sending you onto your back.

"Ah, sorry! Oh-- help, I'm leaning."
The mainstay of these seven days is spent in this way, holding the leg in some position as long as possible, and moving it to another one. By the end of the second day, he could stand straight for ten seconds. By the fourth, so long as nothing was pushing him, he could stand there indefinitely. Walking was another story, he had to have his hand held for balance, the motions were slow and mechanical, they had very little flow between them. The sixth day was the first time he could keep his balance while walking on his own. On the seventh day, you were ready to fulfill your promise.

Yellow is already sat upright and cross legged in the ward, where he'd been sleeping to avoid use of the stairs.

"I don't think I can carry you all the way, you'll have to walk some."

"That's okay, I tried standing earlier with my hand against the table. Hold me steady and I'll be alright. Do we need resin?"

"A lot."

Another rainy day, lots of those recently. With Yellow's awkward pace and holding him upright it takes a long time to reach the shore, what would normally take five minutes takes twenty. Once buoyancy becomes a factor, the pace quickens, but there's only so fast he can move. There's a soft roar as rain impacts and cools the ocean water overhead.

"I had no idea you and Jet came out this far." He's getting more comfortable walking by virtue of the time he's spending doing it, the main purpose of bringing him.

"Still a long way to go."

"What's out here anyway?"

"You'll see. Just focus on walking."

Despite the various challenges, he arrives in one piece. The total trip took about twice its normal time, made boring by the fact that he actually did what you asked and focused on walking. Usually it's just after mid day when you would arrive, but it's already early evening, and the base of the cliff is completely blanketed.

Yellow looks out over the edge.

"How far down does it go?"

"Right where the light cuts off, that's about three quarters down." A downward current sweeps by, spooking him and making him lose his balance, but you catch him before he falls.

"Woah, thanks. I'm gonna sit down." He does, not being so daring as to get his feet near the edge. "How come you didn't want to train me before?"

"'Didn't want' is strong, I just didn't know when we should. You're the first one of us who was born after the attacks started, and Sensei wasn't much help in the decision."

"Goshe told me it was because of Cryolite."

Hearing his name now, from Yellow of all people is a bit of a shock.

"Should I not have said that?"

"No, you just caught me off guard is all. I guess it's partly true, I wanted to protect you from that, but being overprotective is what caused..."

"S-sorry, nevermind. I shouldn't have--"

"It's fine."

"Well I just wanted to ask if I could stay awake this winter. For Natrolite's sake too."

>Agree to train him for winter duties
>Insist he focus on recovery from his burnout
>Insist he focus on recovery from his burnout
>Insist he focus on recovery from his burnout
>Insist he focus on recovery from his burnout
Way too soon. Yellow honey you can't even properly run yet
Back from work
closed to insist
"Yellow, I don't think it's time yet. Maybe winter duties will be good for you at some point, but before that you need to be back on your feet. I know you're progressing quickly now but it's going to plateau and you'll need to have patience. It will take years before you're ready to do something on that scale."

Downtrodden but understanding, he lowers his head into crossed arms.

"Hey, stay cheerful though. Walking practice isn't the only reason we're here. I mean, it would be a waste to come out here just for that."

He turns his head over, looking at you from the side.

"I don't know if you noticed, but this," you say, untying the ribbons which hold the sheathe to your belt, "is not the icebreaker." Finally released. "This belonged to Gyrolite."

The veil on that side of the cliff, although whether it truly is or isn't is not the most reliable judgement, must be hiding some strange unseen and unheard things. The world on that side of it extends much too far for it to be empty. With a click, the first inch of the sword pops from the sheathe. Being early evening, the light is not at its strongest. In all likelihood, unless by some breakthrough of physical and mental ability Yellow is able to completely recoup every ounce of lost ability, and carry you back, you'll be sleeping at some point along the way. Not close enough to the cliff to be pulled by invisible hands, not far enough to lose your bearings. Falling down from the watery sky are not the conniving creatures themselves, but the distant musings of rain droplets not yet ready to hound the top of someone's head, carefully planning their attack for just the right moment to make one of your friends' days worse. The blade, no worse for wear than when it was first made is pushed out, grasping again and again between index and thumb, inside it creepily enough housing some of Jasper's memories. Probably a story best held for a better time.

"I also brought you out here because it's quiet, and private. We're about as alone as we can get. Grab the hilt."

"Ant, you're not..."

"I am."

"I thought you didn't want me to fight yet."

"Having a sword doesn't mean you'll be fighting. You wanted to learn to move perfect. Perfect with that on you and without it would be two different things. We'll train with it."

Tentatively he reaches for it, pulling his fingers back just before they touch.

"Is it okay that it's Gyrolite's?"

"I don't hear him complaining."

He takes it in his hand, turning it and feeling the weight.

"It's lighter than I thought it'd be."

"You are a diamond."

"Nn, I guess." He stops turning it, and stares at the broad face. "By the way, I thought you said we were alone." He turns around. "Who's that?"
Citrine stands patiently, his long curly hair slowly pulled every which way by the current.

"He's... You can see him?"

"Yeah, if I didn't know better--"

"What do you want!? You've been real the whole time, why haven't you talked to me? Why are you here now, how would you even know we were here?"

He drops his arms and closes his eyes. He looks frustrated, or sad, and takes a step toward you.

"Are you working with them, did they do something to you?"

Another step.

"Just talk!"

Pale attack, bleak terror.

He takes a final step, standing now with his face inches from yours.

Sad friends.

"Citrine, just--"

He shoves you back into the abyss. As you fall, you can see above the water the distinct shape of a Lunarian platform. Three quarters down, the light vanishes.

Her hope.

You awake not at the bottom of the cliff, but still at its precipice. Beside you, a black bodied urchin with thick spines lay impaled by a Lunarian arrow.

"Y-Yellow!? Citrine!"

No shards, nobody, also no time. You sprint home, forcing through the claustrophobic pressure, the slowed rate, the constricting anxiety. Back at the island, there is no time between your stepping onto the shore and being greeted by a very large and very relieved group.

"You're okay!" Yellow shouts as he, albeit with his awkward mechanical stride, runs up to you, pulling you into a strong hug.

"Yellow told us what happened." Says Goshenite.

"You only got back about an hour after he did, I was about to come looking. We were." Jet says.

"What... did happen?"

"After he pushed you, he turned to me, pointed the direction of the island, and just said 'go.' He looked really sad, but also really angry, I didn't want to say anything, so I left."

"Antozonite!" Sensei's voice booms over the gathering. "Come speak with me. Alone!"

Worried eyes crawl across you as you walk with him back to the school.

"You neglected to tell me of your continued sightings! It endangered Yellow Diamond, and yourself. You mustn't return to that place, it is unsafe."

"I'm just glad he was alright, I don't understand why Citrine did it. He tried to break me, and spared Yellow--"

"Or perhaps he spared both."

"Sensei, if that's true, I don't know. There's something I need to ask you, I need to understand their motives, his too."

>Ask about when the Lunarians first came here
>Ask about when Lignite first went to the moon
Fuck, everyone's too scared to vote, so I guess I will
>Ask about when Lignite first went to the moon
inb4 Sensei goes "I can say no more"
Vote closed to Lignite
"Lignite went to the moon, didn't he?"

"Yes, he did." Kongo answers without a second thought, but does invite you to sit, sensing it may be a long conversation.


"Before you were born."

"Before Natrolite was born?"


"But when he came back, he wasn't like..."

"No, he wasn't."

"Was it just because they weren't attackers then?"

"No, I believe their full intent was to commit him to their plans, what would become the situation we now struggle against."

"So it didn't work, but they still just let him go?"

"Lignite was offered freedom. He was told that he could go on living there, he could stay on the moon, that was where real freedom was."

"But that freedom was a lie, so he came back." You say preemptively.

"That freedom was not a lie, and he did not come back, not for a long time. Natrolite did."

"Natrolite went too?"

"Yes, although as you know he remembers almost none of the first eight thousand years of his life."

"Why did Lignite stay, and what made him come back?"

"In his words, he believed in a friendship with many. Understand that he was young at the time, and had met someone who he thought made him happier than he could be in this place. As time went on, he found himself to be manipulated, that although he was free in new ways, had new things to experience and new people to meet, there was something fundamentally wrong. All around him, with time, all the new and exciting colors had faded to--"


"--that the landscape of experiences became--"


"--and that all those new people were--"


A strong gust of wind blows a sheet of rain near horizontal through the woodwork, wetting the floor and Sensei's back, although you fall in his shadow and remain dry. The water against cold stone sends a wave of sharp cracks through the air, an electric sound.

"And finally, having become accustomed to the Lunarian's use of language, 'she wasn't my friend because of who I was, but who I reminded her of. She hated it when I acted like myself.' Lignite was no longer happy, after living their way for a thousand years. His total freedom stole his meaning, which he hoped to find again in limitation. He was also afraid, that if he stayed there devoid of meaning, his endless search would drive him to become a slave to any who promised it, like some he had seen."

"I never knew he had done things like that. He always seemed content here."

"That's because this is where he was able to find it."

"Then the reason the Lunarians are attacking us is because they're like that? They can't find their own meaning anymore... Are they jealous? Do they want to take ours simply because they're unhappy?"

He stands, his height over you as the school's to the beetle.

"I suppose it is like that. Should you see Citrine again, please tell me. If he is continuing to make appearances, we ought to take the opportunity."
Yellow continued to improve up to and after the winter, but once the plateau hit he could still only be said to be slow and clumsy compared to how he was. At that point, in order to see the same level of improvement that had been seen in a week before could take a year. Your trips to the cliff with Jet were put in limbo, to avoid any unwanted encounters. Winters kept as they had been for a while now, but it became less training and more of a collaboration as Natrolite and Jet both became able to break ice floes on their own. An odd occurrence, after several years a new weather pattern became a staple of the winters. Natrolite's vast knowledge of meteorology gave light to it's cause. The summers had apparently been getting warmer and winters colder over the last few hundred years, and it just happened to reach a critical point in temperature. A cloud of floating ice crystals engulfed the island, making the air shimmer in every direction.

When Yellow was forty, Goshenite told you that unless you thought otherwise, he could start joining him on patrol. You agreed, and Goshenite took on a larger portion of Yellow's training. Finding things to occupy that extra time was difficult, and often led to helping whoever needed it with the odd task. Jasper once had you use your hand as a hot plate for a flask. That same year was a bit of a strange one, it remained cloudy throughout almost the whole of it including summer. There had only been three attacks by Autumn. It was such an outlandish thing, Natrolite sequestered himself inside the study for every waking moment that he wasn't taking arduous notes of every inch of the sky from the roof. It had actually gotten so bad that Opal practically dragged him to the ward once a week, where Natrolite assured him that he was fine and only making sure he understood exactly what was happening. Goshenite often visited him in both the study and ward. That is, until he disappeared.

It happened on another cloudy day, not a sunny one.

"Has anyone seen Natrolite?" asks Goshe, as he enters the commons.

Glances exchanged, nobody has an answer.

"He's not in the study?"

"No, not the ward, not the roof. I couldn't see him anywhere from up there either."

Jet sends you a worried look. After a quick sweep of the school, he's not inside, so you split up across the island, still nothing.

"Sensei," says Yellow, after everyone has regrouped to the ward following a small accident involving himself, an unseen rock, and an unexpecting Jacinth. "There's another place Natrolite might've gone."

Lightning strikes off to the north, four seconds pass before the thunder arrives.

"I do not believe any of you should go there."

At that moment, you remember a forty year old half truth.

"Can't say I've met anyone who likes you the most, but that isn't so much a bad thing if you think about it. I mean, nobody wants to wear stinkrock."

>Offer to search offshore alone
>Respect his request to never return to the cliff.
>Offer to search offshore alone
Nothin' personel, Kongo-Sensei
>>Offer to search offshore alone
>Offer to search offshore alone
Might as well make it 3 votes
I usually wait until I can actually begin writing to close a vote but it seems pretty unlikely to move so I'll close it now and see if I can't get some stuff done in a google doc while I'm in bed.
"I can go alone."

"That is not better."

"It is. They've broken me twice and I was never taken. I make them sick, they don't want me."

He deliberates for a short moment, an uncomfortable clink rings out from Jacinth's right shoulder as his arm is reattached.

"In the interest of finding Natrolite, I will allow it. Be careful."

For the final time you departed for the cliff and the forest of stones. Seeing it again is somewhat nostalgic, if not a bit ominous given the circumstance. It's already late enough for the bottom to be shrouded. There are no footprints, papers, swords, or quirky old meteorology nerds to be found. A downward current sweeps past as you stare off to the endless black.


"Antozonite," his voice comes from behind.

You stand and face him. "Finally talking?"

"Might as well. 'S the last shot I got."

"Last shot at what?"

"Recruitin' ya. You didn't come here for that, though."

"No, I didn't. It's not happening either."

"We'll see. You're here about Natrolite, right?"

"Yes. Since you know, then, he's up there."

"That he is. Exactly where though we don't know. Soon as he got off, he went straight for some place nobody'd heard of."

"How did you take him?"

"Take? Nah, he asked us to come and pick him up. Don't bother askin' how, all that's above my head." He winks and smiles. "I don't really know why either, didn't get a chance to ask him."

"I thought he hated the moon..."

"Not sure. Whole thing's weird all round, I guess you start to get that way when you're that old." He walks to the ledge and sits down, patting the ground to his left, inviting you to take the space.

"You gonna push me off again?"

"Ah that, yeah my bad. I wasn't actually supposed to do that, was just mad."


"Seein' that kid was real emotional for me, y'know since I sacrificed myself for him and Gyro. That was the first time I'd seen him, full and dressed and with a proper face. He's pretty." He pulls out a white sword, like the one which Almandine had, and holds it broad face toward him, staring at the reflection. "Even though I'm workin' with the Loonies, I still care."

"Forgive me my skepticism."

"You wanna know what he said? Right before I told him to go home... 'I read your book.' That was it. Man, I'd forgotten I'd even written it, but that hit hard."
Something about his nonchalant attitude strikes a match in your chest. "Stop playing me for sympathy."

"I--" He stares down to the shadow sea. "I didn't want to do this so soon." Another few seconds to the heart of the earth, then he stands and clears his head, brushing himself off. "You should come with me."

"You're still going to try this? I told you, it's not going to--"

"Cryolite's there. Every time I would come he would get excited that maybe you'd come back too."

That catches you, but nonetheless you hold your conviction. "Citrine, I'm not listening to this."

"Your 'invisible poison', we know what it is. We can cure you, you won't make anyone forget again, you never have to go back to your cave. You won't have to protect Jet from yourself."

"Citrine..." It's hard to deny the power that those words have on you, that scourge which took away your friend, your years that could have been happy, but you stay your ground. "I don't need that. I'm happy already, we all are."

"No more lies, or hiding information. You get everything back and more. You get freedom."

"Citrine please, just-- I can't hear this."

"So please come with me."

Two ladders, dragged through the water by huge pearls acting as anchors, fall from above. A Lunarian platform's silhouette hangs over the water, distorted by waves. Citrine holds out a hand for you, and smiles.

>だ が 断 る
If Citrine is free, why is it his "last shot"? Why is he being all shady like this?
I don't want to abandon Jet and Sensei...

I have an idea on what the moonies might do to "cure" our F2 gas problem:
"When irradiated fluorite is heated, the structure can readjust itself to the more stable state, eliminating defects, gaps, and areas of strain, and the coloration is destroyed...When heated the samples pass through various shades of reddish purple and lavender until they become nearly colorless...The process is of course irreversible."
Does anyone have other ideas?
Closed to decline.
"Citrine, I'm not going."

He pulls his hand back, but his smile doesn't fade. In fact, he seems almost relieved. He rests his hand in his hair. "Ah, there goes. I tried." The ladders start surfacing as well, detaching from the pearls. "Well then, I guess..."


"Well then, I guess this is good--"


"...this is good--"

You shove Citrine out of the way, drawing your sword and breaking an arrow that was bound for him. Grabbing his arm, you sprint for home.

"What are you doing!?"

"Taking you back!"

"Ant, let go, y-you don't--"

"Shut up and keep running!"

He tugs on his arm, trying to free it, struggling to keep from tripping as you flash heat the water behind you.

"Really, you don't understand!"

"Shut up, or I'll break you myself and carry you back!"

Knowing full well that you have the skill to pull it off, he doesn't challenge you, becoming quiet for the rest of the journey home. The Lunarians don't pursue, so you slow down a bit, enough to keep Citrine from stumbling, but not so slow that You'll have to stop for the night.

The light of jellies fills your view overhead, it's nice to be better lit, the walk was getting tiring. Before climbing out from the water, Citrine plants his feet. "Wait, Ant. Before we go, please, just let me go back."

"Why? They tried to break you!"

"Yeah but, you don't get it! It woulda' been... I mean, I can't say, but--"

"What are you afraid of?"

The colors dive through his large canopy of hair, refracting every direction, into every other color. The frills of that white Lunarian clothing float with the push and pull of the waves just a few feet above. One thing can be said of it, even if it represents something you hate with a fire, it is strikingly beautiful.

"If I step foot on that island, they won't take me back. I already betrayed the home I had here, up there's the only one I got left."

"Citrine, do you think they'll even come back now? Besides, you're too old to be this much of an idiot. I have a feeling I know exactly what's going to happen when you walk out there." One last pull, you bring him in front of you and walk him forward, up over the runoff sand and onto the beach. There, Sensei and the others wait for your return, bowls have been stood across the sand to give more light to your tired friends, some of which are asleep regardless.

"You have returned."

Citrine says nothing, looking around, only to find himself stumbling forward as you shove him in the direction of Sensei's open arms. He falls into the tight hug, only moving after a few moments to bury his face further in the robe.
Citrine was not open to speaking his mind anymore. Even when he did describe an aspect of the moon, he would often stop a sentence before the conversation took on any revealing details. He slowly gave out his feelings and motives for wanting to return, which was not an attitude he gave up completely. As time went on, his general manner and mood seemed to remain fixed in a state of quiet reservedness, never venturing far from inside. His brash confidence had been either broken down or lost some time during his stay on the moon, or lost when he was denied the return to it. He was at first hounded with questions of who was or was not on the moon, but he always dodged them, never venturing to discuss the actual happenings on its surface. With Natrolite no longer around for winter, you approached Yellow, offering him the position. He did accept, but was not quite as eager as he had been when he was younger. He was more than excited to have winter to train, but it was clear that the repetitive training for minimal gain was becoming a drain on his stamina. To combat this he spent more time with Jacinth.

Life went back to its ways, a day would only herald the next if the previous was sufficiently boring and calm. There was no forward motion that was not accompanied by an equaled sense of moving slowly, no developments, no excitement, but no loss or sorrow beyond the occasional blue mood from Citrine, which luckily happened less often as he readjusted. As anyone at the school might have grown to expect, no excitement is not a state that lasts long. In the summer of the tenth year after Citrine's return, Jet and yourself are on a patrol after an unusual hiatus from attacks. Typically, the Lunarians might skip one or two third sunny days, but they haven't attacked in a month of what has been a clear summer.

"Iolite and Aquamarine made up their own language."

"I heard, not excited that they can start talking bad about me and I won't be able to tell."

"Have you heard it in action? It's weird--"


"Lots of 'Vwuhs's and 'Zhuh's."

"Jet, there's a much more pressing 'vwuh' right now." Your sheath hits the grass behind you, alerting him.

He draws his own sword, staring up. "Sunspot...s?"

"Eighteen points, like two stacked up."

"Should we back out?"

"Let's wait. So long as we're here we'll know where it's focused."


It opens up, a melting chitin of the strangest beetle, but the normal music is nowhere to be heard. It just hangs there, as if it's stalled. Jet loosens his stance, but you raise a hand to him as something makes an appearance past its black cloak. A large pale hand, wrinkled and thick, reaches into the world through the spot, but it starts to close on the hand, eventually leaving it stuck by the wrist.

You tentatively drop your guard, approaching closer. A nod to Jet signals your intent, and with his sword he boosts you up toward it.

>Attack the hand
>Land on and inspect the hand
>Land on and inspect the hand
I don't really like the idea of getting up close to the thing, but I suppose inspecting it first is better than going in all guns blazing, if what I think might happen does
Closed to land.
Different ID, posting at work. Also combat(?) Quick and choice based rather than dice rolls.

Touching down on the back of the huge hand, there's some malleability, but it's not the same kind of squishy weak body that Lunarians usually have. The skin of it is tough. It starts shifting around as you pinch some of it with a full palm, faster than it looks like it should be able to move. In a quick instant you've been caught in its grip, and the sunspot's opening widens again, revealing the tusked face of the beast. Four total eyes along the front of the head, in their fore a long trunk. Large ears fall flat against its head, and keeping you held tightly it uses another hand to pull itself free from the sunspot, dropping to the ground.


The thing cries out at the sound, a loud trumpeting easily rival to the screech of ice floes. At least that should get the attention of everyone back at the school. It swipes at the ground near Jet with its free arm and constricting you further.

“Whoow, okay, no more squeezing,” you say, building heat against its palm. “Jet, try and…”

>”...Loosen its grip!”
>”...Keep its focus on the ground!”
>”...Keep its focus on the ground!”
apologies if I'm dominating the replies
Vote closed, had a busy kick
“Right! Uh, hey, down here!”

It moves its head wildly as if trying to find the source, but it rears back and nonetheless strikes down with some accuracy, Jet having only just enough time to dodge, and being stumbled by the force of impact. The heat is starting to burn its hand, but its skin is extremely thick and it might take another moment to cause a reaction.

Jet continues running it in circles, shouting and keeping it occupied when there’s another sound, a similar trumpeting, much quieter. Knowing the full volume that this one’s cry was, the other must be on the complete opposite side of the island.

“Another one?”

“Jet, the grip is starting to loosen, it’s about to let go. When it does, I’ll…”

>”...Break off toward the other!”
>”...Try and climb on its back!”
>”...Try and climb on its back!”
Another 10 minutes on this one then I'll set it to fixed voting intervals of 15~20min per
Closed to climb.

Jet dives out of the way of another swipe. Just as he does, it lets out another cry, throwing open its fist and grabbing the base of that hand with the other. You push off the scorched skin and swing from the decoratives dangled over its tusks. Up over the side of the face you can see the eyes have scarring above and below them, and some damages on one ear.

At the base of its head now, the full body is completely visible for the first time. Intricate weaves of sparkling cloth are draped over its back and scalp, covered in the same thick wrinkly skin. The hind legs are shorter, and not like your own, ending in flat cylindrical feet. A thin tail about a quarter the length of the body is tipped with a tuft of hair.

"Now what!?"

It rears back, ready to try and attack him again. To avoid getting thrown off you grab its right ear, which it doesn't like. Stopping midway and shaking, it starts stampeding clockwise, completely ignoring Jet.

"Uh, not sure!"

"Wait, I think you're controlling it! Grab the other ear!"

There's a foot of distance between your arm and its left ear, it's a jump that almost sends you flying, but it digs its feet and two arms into the ground and starts turning the other way.

"Not comfortably," you groan, "but you're right! I'll..."

>"...Steer it toward the water!"
>"...Steer it toward the school!"
>"...Keep it in control here, you get some help!"
>"...Steer it toward the water!"
>"...Steer it toward the school!"
Sensei pls
Rolled 2 (1d2)

1 for >>2695097
2 for >>2695136
Closed to school.
"Good idea!" Jet runs up while you've got it running in circles, grabbing the tuft at the end of the tail and climbing up to the head. "Mind if I help?"


It's not always completely obedient, often taking moments to try and shake you off or knock you off with its hand. It looks like most everyone has gathered outside.

"Watch out!"

Jacinth finds himself so absorbed in conversation that he falls unwilling victim to the stampede. The massive creature cries out again, and falls to the side. You both jump from it, so as to hit the ground on your own terms.

"Yellow, where's Sensei?"

"He went east with Malaya and Uvaro."

The ground shakes as the fists of it push down, trying to lift its body. It stumbles to its feet, and runs into the school.

"Kyanite!" Shouts Cuprite as he runs inside after it.

"Agh, wait!"

He ignores you, disappearing into the halls.

>Follow him in
>Go help with the other one
>Follow him in
I have a suspicion on what this is, but hopefully Sensei can take care of the other one
Closed to follow.
"I'm going in too."

"Mm, then I'm going." Jet turns to the crowd. "Can you all try to gather up Jacinth?"

It's surprisingly easy to lose a huge monster inside the school. It's making sounds, but tracing their origins in the echo filled walls is nigh impossible. It's too large to maneuver up the stairs, it's undoubtedly still somewhere on the first floor. By chance you spot its tail pass some columns up ahead.

The clack of heel against stone alerts it as you're getting close. It trumpets and begins dashing forward, but crashes into pillars over and over, unable to navigate the dense space despite the distance between pillars being wide enough for it to fit through.

"Is it...?"

"I thought so earlier, I noticed its eyes had scars. I think it's blind."

"Oh, well now I-- Watch out!" The tail comes swinging past, hitting the column just to your right. "Now I kind of feel bad."

"Don't lose focus, it's still dangerous. Let's just hope Cuprite and Kyanite stay upstairs."

"Okay, so what now?"


>"...Herd it to the back beneath the woodwork."
>"...Use the columns to our advantage."
>"...Use the columns to our advantage."
Closed to use.
Jet nods, and bounds up a pillar, taking hold against its side. You do the same, and are now both well above its head.

"What exactly did you mean by 'to our advantage'? I mean, sure, we're up here now, but it doesn't solve the bigger problem."

"I don't think I'd be able to damage it, but since we've got it cornered and it can't see, I don't think we have to. Let's have it handle the hardest part. Hey, over here!"

It trumpets and runs toward your pillar, and hits its head against it, staggering backward. You jump to another and shout again, "You missed!" Calling it to and from each of the four pillars surrounding it. It starts to smarten up though. It shakes off its dizziness and starts approaching more cautiously, feeling for the columns with its hands. Rather than blindly attack in that direction, it starts repeatedly punching the pillar you're on, and cracks begin running up its side.

"This isn't gonna work anymore, Ant. It's already dizzied, we need to try something different to knock it out for good!"

I'm starting to slip, and I don't want it breaking any of the supports.

"Jet, with me, jump down and..."

>"...Drop on its head!"
>"...Slice it!"
>"...Slice it!"
I don't think this will make me have a different ID. Not sure. Anyway, closed to slice
Wew, family came unexpectedly and I burnt the shit out of my arm on an iron, should be back on track now. Sorry for delay. Let's speedrun this and get as many votes and updates as possible tonight to try and catch up.

Dropping on the unsuspecting monster, your swords impact its tough skin. It does break through, but not by any significant amount. The wound amounts to a scratch, and it emits a few puffs of pale yellow smoke. The blade doesn't come out unscathed either, the cutting edge looking chewed and mangled.

This only serves to anger it, letting go of the pillar and pounding the ground. It calls out again and drags its arm across the ground, catching Jet in the crook of its elbow. Without knowing quite where the pillar is, it can't push Jet directly into it, but his right leg gets stuck between it and the arm, and snapped about halfway up the thigh. Momentum carries him rolling, and he hits back first against another pillar. With a better idea of the environment it's in, the beast trumpets and runs away, feeling for columns.

>Chase it down
>See to Jet
Above is me, forgot my trip don't worry about it
>See to Jet
That family I mentioned got taken to the hospital last night. Everything's fine and we're back now so hopefully it should be smooth sailing.
Closed to See.

You rush over to him, stopping to grab as much of his leg as you can.

"You still awake?"

He opens his eyes through a split that runs down his forehead. "Yeah."

"Here, sit up."

Taking hold of his shoulders, he lets you lift him and lean him back. "Shouldn't you be trying to get that thing?"

"We're partners."

"Quit tryin' to lecture me."

"I will if you stop pushing yourself so hard," come the words, fighting against the grinding sound as you slide the leg back into place.

"Oh come on, it's only a little breakage."

"True, but we got overconfident."

"How were we supposed to know this one would be different?"

"That's kind of the point, that we assumed it wouldn't be. I've got most everything where it needs to be, you stay here until Opal can fix the rest."

"Go, go, jeez!"

"Alright, I'm gone!"

Over your playful shouting match, Cuprite's distinctive 'eep!' reverberates through the maze of quartz, and you run off toward the...

>...West side of the building
>...East side of the building
>...Back of the building
>...East side of the building
East Side, nigga
Closed to east.
Opposite the ward, the eastern edge of the school is the closest.

I'll pass the stairs closer to the rooms this way. If Cuprite hasn't been back down for long, he'll be somewhere near there.

Neither him nor it are by the stairs, so you move further to the hall, where there are many good hiding places. Up at the far end of the hall, you see Cuprite turn the corner, sprinting toward you. The monster emerges soon after, following his voice. You jump in a divot leading down to the door of Jasper's lab, and wait for him to get close.

"No thank you, no thank you, no thank you!" He continuously shouts as he runs. When he's just a few steps ahead of passing you, you reach out and pull him into the small entryway with you, and place a finger over his mouth. It runs by, but slows down when the noise it was following has disappeared. Kyanite is chasing it, but you pull him in too.

"Ant, what's--"

You interrupt him with an aggressive shush, but it already has perked its head and turned around, slowly feeling its way back up the hall toward you. "It's blind, it's following our voices," you whisper. "Listen, I need you both to..."

>"...Help me out."
>"...Hide in the lab."
>"...Help me out."
If either of us gets broken inside the school it should only be a matter of time before our pieces are all found, nothing to lose, right?
Closed to help/
"...I'm going to go bait it toward me, you two hop on its back. You can steer it with its ears."

It creeps up, stalking its unseen enemy. You raise a hand to your lips. With its muscular arms and thick hands it feels the floor, and its trunk sways back and forth. As soon as it's passed by, back up the direction it had originally come, you lower your finger and Kyanite whispers back.

"Okay, but where would we take it? It's not safe to bring it outside."

"Somewhere we can keep it under lockdown, where we can stay out of its range easily. That, or since attacking it doesn't seem to work well, somewhere less cramped. It might be more aggressive because of the tight space."

"So that's... Maybe Opal's ward?"

"Or for the other one, to the back, that's nice and open." Says Cuprite.

>The ward
>The Back
>The Back
Don't want to break Opal's stuff
Closed to back.
"Cuprite, I think that's best. It got Jet earlier, we got caught off guard. We ought to avoid provoking it anymore."

The two partners nod, then you rush out behind the creature. "Guess who!?"

It springs into action, shouting its noise and turning heel with a great speed, hurtling toward you full force. When it passes the nook, Cuprite and Kyanite leap onto it and climb to its head. They grab an ear each and quickly figure out how best to control its movements, then begin taking it toward the back while you follow behind.

They jump off on arrival, and clear out from its reach. It pounds against the ground with its burnt hand, and takes care not to with its other. The duo are cautious not to make any sound, as it spins around listening and getting a feel for the environment.

"It's not charging now, it's unsure," you whisper. The wooden lattice hangs over it, letting in sunlight. "Kyanite, Cuprite, we've got an opportunity to try a different approach."

"Different how?"

"Let's try to..."

>"...Give it space to cool down."
>"...Trap its arms in the lattice."
>>"...Trap its arms in the lattice."
Closed to trap.
With affirmation from the other two, you split off toward its right side, aiming to get behind it. It notices the rain of clacks against the floor rebounding up and down the tall vaulting. The beast spins its head, trying to pin down the source, but since there are three it only manages to realize that they're all moving behind it. You climb up through the crossing diamonds of wood, as do Cuprite and Kyanite. Hanging from the beams, you offer it more provocation, in hopes of it attempting to grab you.

"I'm wide open, aren't you going to try it?"

It hesitates, probably unsure of what it's facing. It reaches in front to feel for any prospective forehead height obstacles, but in feeling none it cautiously approaches.

"Come on, I'm right here!"

All at once, it lunges forward and reaches toward your voice. You swing backward to the next highest open square just as its hand pushes through the opening. Its hand is caught at the wrist in the sturdy wood. It cries out, opening and closing its palm and trying to pull back through, and you notice that stuck in its palm are several pieces of Jacinth.

"It worked, it's stuck," says Kyanite. "Finally I get a chance to look at that decorative weave."

"Are you sure it won't get out again?" Cuprite slowly steps between the beams toward the hand.

"No, I'm not."

Cuprite stops at your response and goes backward along the same steps he just took.

"We need to have someone watch it until Sensei gets back to make sure, it's caused more than enough trouble."

"What about the shards in its hand? I'd like to pull them out, maybe it would calm it down, too. Could you help?"

"Jacinth isn't the only one who got hurt. Jet's around nearby too."

"Oh, well I understand, you can't be in two places at once."

>Help Cuprite
>Go help Jet

This is the last update of this "combat(?)" type. When I'm back from work, supposing there are votes waiting, we'll go back to the longer update format to finish off the chapter.
>Go help Jet
Cuprite can handle this, r-right
>Help Cuprite
Jet's a big rock, he'll manage where he is for a while longer, I say we keep our numbers up and try to keep this thing calm
Fine, switching to this
Closed to Cuprite.
I've had writer's block for this last bit of the chapter here and it's lasted for a couple days. When I left for work earlier I was in the 9th spot from archive and by the time I was back it was 3rd, so I had way less time than I thought I did. I've been trying to push through the final update for ch4 but there's no way I'll have it out before the thread falls off the board, so what I think I'll do is in a week start up a thread to post the final updates for ch4 and also post that interlude chapter I was talking about at the start of ch3 part 2 which I've been working on for awhile. Look for it next sunday.

Sorry about that, I know it's a bullshit place to pause but I promise the ending is worth the wait.

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