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/qst/ - Quests

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Thaelasan Yhazareen was fairly certain no one had ever gotten used to fighting those of the Outer Reaches.

For one, their bodies didn't follow the same rules of reality that mortals did. For another, they were entirely unpredictable, and voided in and out of existence as they tried to keep their hold in the world. Really, victory was only assured if they either seemingly died or were unable to keep their form in the world.

But for now, Thaelasan was just focused on stretching the fight out until Flora could arrive to assist. Much as he liked to believe he could beat Guraldamash on his own, there was no reason he would have to do so. But he also noticed something very annoying that Flora could help with.

The voices had returned, due to his distance away from her.

"I'm telling you, he can't hear us anymore."

"The girl is gone. He can hear us now. Champion! Champion, please. You are a noble hero. Heed my words of advice!"

Thaelasan really didn't feel like doing that at the moment as he began pulling strikes backward or using portals to dodge the attacks that were coming at him in a flurry. Sand and bones were kicked into the air by the beast's massive form and Thaelasan quietly kept apologizing to the dead with every disruption of their eternal slumber.


Flora was running at full speed now, heading towards Thaelasan's location as best she could. She knew he had to be going back to the graveyard. That would be the best choice of action. But she couldn't use her dragon form to get there. It seemed to take a lot out of her, and also just made her hungrier. It didn't help that she was already hungry to begin with.

She could see Thaelasan in her field of vision now, back where she had left him, with a lumbering being borne of chaos attacking him with all of its aggression. She smirked - he was obviously toying with the Old Lost One for her sake. She had seen him fight them before.


Another strike, and another.

"Champion! The creature's weakpoint lies within its maw! It's-"

"I KNOW WHAT IT IS!" Thaelasan yelled.

Flora heard him scream something from where she was. Confused, she walked a bit slower towards the fight, then narrowed her eyes.

"Well then why isn't it dead yet, boy?" the darker voice spoke this time.

"Because I'm waiting on someone important." Thaelasan said, a bit less aggressively. "You can see my thoughts or something, can't you?"

"Nada. That part of your brain is locked off to us." the darker part said.

"Lovely. Well at least I don't have to worry about being mind read." Thaelasan said.

Flora was still very confused. However, she didn't want to waste any further time. She finished her long run and jumped into the air, beginning her transformation into her alternate form.

Soon, she was behind the massive Old Lost One, and he had yet to notice her.

>Flora: Use your draconic breath! You know, the ones all dragons have!
>Flora: Charge the bastard and ram him with your horns. (Strength roll)
1/2. Don't vote.
>Thaelasan: Heed the voices and attack the beast's maw with all that you have. End this quickly.
>Thaelasan: Ignore the voices and focus on weakening the creature until Flora can finish it off. (Angelic.)
>Flora: Use your draconic breath! You know, the ones all dragons have!
>Thaelasan: Heed the voices and attack the beast's maw with all that you have. End this quickly.
There was a silent tension in the air as Thaelasan obeyed the voice. As he did so, his right arm began to shine with a yellow light and he felt an energy he had never felt before.

"Accept my gift, champion."

He barely heard the voice over the roar of the creature as it began to charge at him. Flora noticed Thaelasan motionless form and charged forward, opening her jaws and inhaling.
The sound of wind accompanied the sound of roaring, clashing thunder as a breath of nature's wrath poured from Flora's throat with a tumult of cracking thunder and rushing waves. Guraldamash actually found himself pushed aside and moved by the sheer might of the blast Flora had given - a blast emphasized by her desire to protect Thaelasan.

He had trusted her. He had protected her. And she would do the same to him.

As Guraldamash opened its mighty jaws and tried to get a grasp on the sand, Thaelasan reeled back his arm. There was a blast of light as his staff was enveloped by what could only be described as some form of angelic magic.

"Feed upon this, beast." Thaelasan stated firmly as he released the staff from his grip like a javelin. It entered the vulnerable flesh of Guraldamash' deadly maw and pierced through it, sending blackened, chaotic blood out of its back end along with what could only be described as eldritch organs.

It began to spasm almost with a sense of terror as it tried to again find purchase on the sand. Thaelasan relaxed his arm as the creature tried in vain to reach towards him, cursing him in an otherworldly tongue as explosions began to convulse its body.

Small eruptions formed all over its flesh, within its eyes, and within its mouth. As it exploded in random locations, a portal began to form behind it, its physical form breaking apart. It didn't have the power anymore to stay within the world of man.

"No. You don't escape. Not back to his side. Today marks the death of a member of the Thousand Hands." Thaelasan muttered, stepping forward. "His portals belong to me. Your death will be that mark."

Guraldamash made a sound that could only be described as a scream of fear as the portal his master formed for him to escape within began to close behind him. There was a shout of rage from beyond the gates as they sealed, and Thaelasan's blood curdled. Flora backed away slightly. They recognized that voice.

The voice of Van'Sogoth, the Terror of the Void, the Watcher Beyond the Gates, the Bringer of Insanity.

As the gate shut, Guraldamash began to fall apart even more ferociously, screeching in a frenzy, unable to understand the concept of what was happening to it. Though it had slain many before, it had never known what it meant to die. Truthfully, even Thaelasan had never seen the death of an old one. They were meant to return to the void. But he had made it unable to do that.

More explosions accompanied a final howl of death as the beast began to fall apart. No world awaited it now. Thaelasan's staff sat behind the desiccated remains.
Thaelasan stepped over to his staff but as Flora transformed back to her normal self, she moved to stand between him and the staff.

"...What did you just do?..." she asked, concerned. "Who were you yelling at so fiercely? I was not there."

He hadn't told her about the voices. He thought they weren't important. But every time he had made a decision, he felt they were judging him. He stared at her for a long moment as she stood there, between him and his weapon, on the corpse of an Old Lost One.

The moonlit sky illuminated her face, and he could see the sadness in it. She knew he hadn't told her everything. She wasn't a fool. She remembered. She absorbed information. And she remembered he had told her nothing was wrong.

"... Since the experiment... I've been hearing voices, dearest Flora... But they're silent when you're near." Thaelasan finally admitted, slightly reluctantly. "I didn't want to worry you. I thought they were just a side effect of the experimentation. Nothing more."

"Then the book?..."

"Me trying to discover ways to cure myself of it more quickly." Thaelasan said. "I feel terrible for deceiving you but please.. you have to know I would never have done it unless I thought-"

"You do not have to lie to me or spare my feelings, Thael." Flora said, stepping towards him. "But this is the first time you ever have. I... I know you would not have done it unless you thought it was the best option... but please never do it again. Your suffering... I want to share it like all other things. Because if you share it with me, it will be lessened. Did you not trust me to save you now, and with Thaniel? Why did you not trust me with this?"

"....I don't know." Thaelasan said after a moment. "A lapse of reason, I suppose. A panic. I'm still unsure as to what the voices are."

"Whatever they are, if they gave you such a beautiful power, maybe they are not so bad?" Flora cocked her head. "That seemed holy, beautiful, and pure. So long as you stay that way, it cannot be bad."

Thaelasan nodded, and felt this was vital information for the future. She walked over to his staff and picked it up for him, carrying it over to him and holding it out for him to accept.

"If you promised to be my wings, then I shall promise to also be yours." Flora said, placing the weapon in his hands. "But that means.. please... do not try to shoulder the burden of anything alone."

Thaelasan took the weapon in his hands and held it for a long moment, looking it over.

"As you request, my Queen."

She smiled warmly at his response and looked down at the dissolving corpse of Guraldamash. She began to busy herself within it and retrieved yet another magical looking stone, pleased. She handed this to him, patting his hand.

"We probably should not leave that lying about, correct?" she asked. "If that is settled, then I have another request."


"Food!" she nodded happily, jumping a bit. "Please, I beg of you. I wish to try more things in this world!"
"Such as?"

"Well you did tell me about something called meat!"

Thaelasan paused a moment. Was she certain? Had he not told her where beef, pork, or poultry came from?

"Er... Flora..."

"Yes?" Flora asked.

"Don't you remember that I told you-"

"Meat comes from dead animals."

He blinked for a moment.

"Flora, aren't you-"

"I may be a Fae but I must accept how this world is, right?" Flora replied, walking around him. "This is my home now, and I want to enjoy all that it has to offer. You. The scenery. The people. And the food, no matter what it is."

"...That is commendable." Thaelasan patted her shoulder with his free hand and began to walk back to the town. As he did so, he wiggled his fingers.

Behind them, small, magical hands began to busy themselves with burying the bodies of those Guraldamash had slain, laying their bones more properly, and allowing the dirt to take them. As the seawater began to rise, the bones began to sink, never to be disturbed again.

Thaelasan only hoped they, and their families, would find peace.


"So, how did it go?" Les asked, sitting across from them at the dinner table. Flora was giddy with excitement as meals of fish, potatoes, and other meat and vegetables were placed in front of her and Thaelasan by a kindly, old woman Thaelasan had found himself immediately hugged by only minutes before.


When they had knocked upon the door, she had burst outward and embraced him so strongly that Thaelasan found it hard to breath. He didn't think even Thaniel's binds had been that impossible to break. She had introduced herself as none other than Will's daughter, Sara, and Les' mother.

"Oh it is so amazing to finally meet ya!" Sara had said, releasing him. "You don't understan' how many stories and tales Pa told me about ya while I was growin' up here! He said ya were kinda crazy, but one of the greatest friends he'd ever had."

"I was the crazy one?!" Thaelasan had asked indignantly as she had forced him and Flora to the table. "Me?! Absurd. I was absolutely the sanest man of the pair."

"Are you sure, Thael?" Flora asked, leaning on her hand.

"Of course! I may be... eccentric, but I'm certainly no madman." Thaelasan replied, crossing his arms.


"It went quite well, Les. You should be bothered no longer by anything of that sort. There still remains the matter of the being in the temple, but Flora demanded we eat before anything else."

"Killing sons of Old Lost Ones can wait until I am happily fed." Flora said.

"Of course. However, Les, should two men come to a bar sooner or later complaining about suddenly being in another place than they thought.."

"Wasn't you, then? Not at all?" Les smirked.

"No. Nothing to do with it." Thaelasan shook his head.

"No lying, Thael." Flora poked him with her fork.

"Not even that!?"

"No." Flora said simply, eating.

"Fine, fine. I suppose I must leave it at that, then? Hm? No say in it?"

"If you think you get a say in anythin' with a woman involved,
then yer not used to the whole 'relationship thing' are ye?" Les laughed, grabbing his own utensils and beginning his own journey of culinary delights. Thaelasan silently accepted his fate and began to eat his own portion with a bit of thoughtfulness.

Then the thought began to occur to him - could he speak to the voices instead of them speaking to him? He began to try and think very hard...

>Speak to the one who granted you the spear power from before. He seemed pretty nice. (Angelic).
>Speak to the one who sounded very curt. You don't know much about him. (Demonic).
>Try to ask both of them some questions.
>Speak to the one who sounded very curt. You don't know much about him. (Demonic).
Deep in his mind, Thaelasan began to ponder on the darker of the two voices. Though the holy voice had been very audible, the dark one had only seemed to judge his actions and find him "soft". He had gotten the sense that the darker entity was not happy with his kind and generous ways, or his naive trust.

"I... don't know if I'm doing this right.." Thaelasan thought, "But... I wish to speak to the-"

"You are. Speak quickly."

There was a very noticeable tone to the voice. It was hard to hear tone in thoughts but it was definitely there, and he had noticed it before. A voice that hungered for things unholy and immoral.

"I wished to ask-"

"Who I am? What I am? Why I'm here? Why should I bother telling you, insect?" the voice replied. "You made your choice. All you've done thus far is be a good, little boy, follow the rules, and obey the dragon bitch with you. So why should I answer anything you ask of me?"

Thaelasan immediately narrowed his eyes and Flora noticed his emotions flare.

"You may call me what you wish but do not speak ill of Flora. She has done nothing-"

"You're right, she hasn't done anything remotely worth my appraisal. Neither of you have. You want my attention? Get away from the girl. Become your own man. Turn against the mold and seek the true power beyond law and righteousness. Order is a shackle, boy. And fate loves chains. I would know."

"....I don't think I can do that. But, I am concerned why you are so against me. It's obvious you don't want to be in my mind."

"It's not my choice, ingrate. It's the choice of that featherbrained godchild you chose to imprison with me, the one who seems to love you so much. Why don't you talk to him instead of me?"

With that, the voice went silent, and no amount of prodding could make it speak again. Thaelasan sighed, and then...

>Attempt to communicate with the one who granted you the spear power from before. Maybe he'll give you answers. (Angelic.)
>Stop this for now. It's obvious talking to voices in your head isn't worth it in the long run.
>Attempt to communicate with the one who granted you the spear power from before. Maybe he'll give you answers. (Angelic.)
There was a warmth from within Thaelasan's mind as he concentrated on the angelic voice from before, a voice of a guiding mentor, who seemed to speak only the truth.

"Champion... do you require me?"

Thaelasan could not see him, but he felt an embracing tone, one of acceptance.

"Yes... I wish to know more about you.. both of you, really-"

"Do not ask of the Dark One. Please... know he should be none of your concern - not one as righteous as you, a slayer of dark gods, a helper of the weak, a fighter of oppression, a lover of the innocent." the voice spoke. "He will only lead you into temptation. You have done well to resist him thus far, but did you try to speak to him?"

"I did..." Thaelasan admitted.

"Please.. refrain from that. I promise you, he will only try to lead you to ruin. He did the same for many of my brothers and sisters. He was my greatest enemy. Thanks to you, he is contained."

"I don't know if it was truly willing, but thanks?" Thaelasan said. "Then.. I suppose I could ask your name?"

"I am Miras."

With the word, Thaelasan felt his right arm shine a moment. Flora looked down at it from where she was eating, noticing something happening.

"I am the Guided Watcher, the Angelic Defender of Righteousness, the Protector of Heroes, and the Enlightened Blade... But these were titles bestowed upon me by those loyal to me. I only speak them to honor their name." the voice said slightly awkwardly, as though ashamed of the honor it had earned. "Surely you have earned titles as well."

"Some I'm not proud of." Thaelasan replied.

"Ah... how upsetting and unforgivable! If only they knew the glory of your soul, truly they would change their minds! Yes, it is only a matter of time, archmage. They will grow to see you as a champion. You must only be patient."

Thaelasan could have sworn he felt a hand on his shoulder, and as he looked up at the ceiling, he could see it... the vestige of an angelic guardian, clad in golden armor, with wings of silver and white.

"I will stand by you, so long as you continue to prove your worth as a paragon, and not a destroyer. I simply beg of you.. do not heed the words of Saglok, the Betrayer. He will entice you with the easier ways of victory, with destroying your enemies. He will give you much, some things I cannot give you... but it will all be for his own worth. I will do all I can for you but you must swear to me you shall try to be as you have been. You do not have to make the decision just yet, but I will give you something to prove my devotion to your cause. I just wish to hear your promise - that you shall try to do as your pagan goddess-"

"She's no pagan." Thaelasan said quickly.

"..My apologies. In my realm, we had a singular, devote god. We were taught all others were wicked and cruel. But... I suppose it would be wrong to call her pagan, considering her loyalty and kindness. It is a true god that protects its people, without oppression or control, just as a true king."
"Thaniel.. is no true king, archmage. He is a deceiver. His soul is as Saglok's was - twisted and desiring. Your ... goddess was right." Miras said, trying to get used to the word. "Yes. Your goddess was correct. Thaniel is not to be trusted. You made the right choice in turning against him."

"Then what should I do now?" Thaelasan asked, confused.

"You know what you may do." Miras moved back from him, crossing his arms. "After Shan'Gal is killed, Van'Sogoth shall come for you, if he isn't already. The elves and humans have turned against you. Only Flora is loyal to you, and those in this room. With your actions, you have earned their devotion. With your might, you have proven your worth to them. With your wisdom, you showed them you could be a leader. And they have accepted you within their hearts and homes. They have taken you in, just as William did."

"You're right.." Thaelasan said, rubbing his chin. Flora was still watching him. Les, however, was talking with his mother about something else.. and didn't seem to notice.

"These people of your world seem to be oppressed, whether by will or by a force beyond their control. Flora told you this herself - it is time for some one, or some ones, to rise up and free them from the shackles they have allowed upon their wrists. You have the power within you to do it and yet have chosen to exercise it with a firm hand. That is what makes you different from Thaniel."

Miras drifted within Thaelasan's field of vision, but his form looked weak and barely tangible. He had never heard stories of voices like this. Just what were Miras and Saglok? Why were they within his mind? He had so many questions, but he felt a headache coming on. Miras seemed to be expecting something...

>Promise him you will try to better the world, and in doing so, promise Flora as well. (True Angelic.)
>Tell him you need more time. You can't make this decision so hastily. You weren't ready for the weight of the world on your shoulders.
>Promise him you will try to better the world, and in doing so, promise Flora as well. (True Angelic.)
In that single moment, it was as if the world had suddenly borne witness to a grand choice, one that would impact the very future of Galron and it's surrounding areas.

"...You have my word, Miras. I shall do what I can to save this world." Thaelasan nodded to the vestige of the angel.

Suddenly, he felt his right arm begin to shine. Les covered his eyes and Sara stepped backward. Flora watched with amazement as Thaelasan's hand began to spasm with light, sparkling like a gem with multiple facets.

As he looked down at his hand, something began to materialize within his fingers, cylindrical and golden. He covered it in his palm, his grip tightening around it. Miras nodded approvingly as a blade found purchase within his grasp.

"Then, as with all my allies, I show you my alliance with this blade, a holy sword crafted from the light itself. So long as your morality never wavers in its goal, so long as you pursue the path of righteousness, the blade shall show ever stronger." Miras said, beginning to fade. "I expect good things from you, Champion."

Thaelasan found himself sitting within the chair , Miras' voice going quiet until it was no longer there. He appraised the sword within his hand with a steady eye, uncertain. Flora held out her hand, touching the hilt and tracing her fingers along his.

"...Another gift of the voice?" she asked, awestruck.

"It seems that way..." Thaelasan whispered. "..I promised him I would... help to save the world from itself."

Les and Sara were mouths agape as Flora embraced him, ecstatic. She held him tightly, avoiding the edge of the sword. Her embrace was warm and comforting.

"I knew you would! As we stood upon the airship, I knew your answer would be a good one, Thael! I... I love you!"

Thaelasan blinked for a long moment.

"Flora... I think... that was the first time... You've ever said that to me." Thaelasan said in disbelief. "I... don't know what to say."

"Then do not say anything. You do not have to." Flora said.

Les leaned forward against the table, still dumbfounded.

"...Sorry to interrupt yer little moment but what exactly are ya, Thael?" he asked, concerned. "This is some crazy mage shit yer conjurin'."

"I... don't know what I am anymore...." Thaelasan responded, confused. "...In but a single day, everything I had prepared for has changed..."

Sara smiled knowingly.

"It doesn't take but a day fer things to happen, for lives to change, fer people to grow. It's just how you spend it. I think ya spent it right. Hell, Ma said she fell in love with Will in a day."

"Aww not that story 'gin, Mum." Les said, waving her away. "Let the two of them have their moment."

"Hehe..." Sara chuckled, nodding. "I su'pose."

No matter what lay ahead of him, Thaelasan felt it deep within.

He had just made a very important choice.

There was a clear sky the next day as Thaelasan placed the sword he had received from Miras on his hip, in a sheath Sara had lovingly crafted for him.

"Won't do for a sword like that to have no home. Needs ta have somewhere to keep safe, when it ain't bitin' old gods er demons." she had said, stitching it to his belt. "I know it ain't the best, but I think I did a fine job."

"You did excellently, Miss Sara. It's perfect for my uses." Thaelasan had bowed. The sword had fit snugly in the leather-bound holster but it was perfect for quickly drawing it.

With that, Flora and Thaelasan had begun working on the next part of their plan. They still needed the key before they could face the Dread Old One within the sanctum, and Thaelasan had a few ideas on where to check. As Les pointed at some possible locations on the map of Lan hanging in the main room of the shack, Thaelasan rubbed his chin, and Flora put her arms behind her back.

>Interrogate Les' brother. If Les didn't know anything about it, the other grandchildren might.
>Interrogate the town Archivist. The Grandchase's kept some documented parts of their record catches and largest hauls. Will may have hidden clues among his own legacy.
>Interrogate Will's other fishing buddies. He wasn't very close with many people but he did have some good friends among those living on Lan.
>Interrogate Les' brother. If Les didn't know anything about it, the other grandchildren might.
"Well, maybe yer right.." Les said, rubbing his grizzly chin. "My brother might know, yeah. He's pretty smart. He's my older brother, ya know. But he don't like outsiders much."

"I wouldn't say I'm much of an outsider but... yes, I'm not a member of your family." Thaelasan admitted. "But I can try to talk to him."

"Yes. Especially with the town at stake. He cannot just push us aside, no matter who we are, if the town is in danger!" Flora said with certainty.

Les shrugged.

"You dunno Wes. He's pretty ornery."


"It's short for Wesley. He's not older than me by much, ya know. We were twins." Les said, looking at Sara. "And Ma wanted us to sound alike."

"It did cause a bit o' confusion when they were younger." Sara put a finger to her cheek.

"Right. Well, where does he live then?"

"On the edge of town, far away from everyone, o' course." Les said. "He got hit hard by granddad's death, really. He and Will were really close. I haven't seen him since he died."

"...I see.." Thaelasan said, slightly forlorn. "We'll try to be quick then. He's probably still grieving."

"And if ya want, ya can wait for Pa to get home from his fishin' trip. He's pretty close with Wes too. Might be able to ease the tension."

>No. We'll go alone.
>Sure, we'll wait for him.
>Sure, we'll wait for him
((Will be posting tomorrow. My responses really depend on my work schedule and I've been swamped all week with the holiday weekend.))
Several hours passed. As they did so, Flora and Thaelasan conversed while Les listened to their story. The man was actually pretty accepting of all the weirdness they conveyed, and Thaelasan began to realize in that instant that Miras had been right.

He had done something he'd never truly done before. He had made some form of friendship with Les. A bond. It was only a day old but it felt ... right. Browing and Grum had been his friends, sure, but they'd only ever discussed business or politics. But Les wanted to hear anything, even something as simple as their previous afternoon in the orchard.

Thaelasan told him some of the stories about Old Will. About how he would go out into the water and sit for hours, even if he didn't catch anything, just because he loved the water. About the time he thought he got a great catch and began yelling about how it would make him go down in history - only to find out he had gotten tied to an old anchor chain in the Sea of Madness. Really, Thaelasan didn't even know how that had happened.

But never once, not once, had Thaelasan seen Will SAD. The man got annoyed. Infuriated. Even upset. But never sad. He never gave in to that.

"You had a really good friend in him, Thael." Flora said, listening intently. "He must have been a good person to know. I am slightly sad I did not get the chance."

"He was... He really was." Thaelasan mused, leaning back in the chair. "I remember how many times he tried to get Maria's attention, only to fall flat. Goodness, he wouldn't give up. Did you know how your grandfather finally got your grandmother to say yes?"

He looked at Les a moment.

"You mean the story about the 'fished up ring?'" Les asked, grinning.

"Indeed." Thaelasan nodded. Flora prodded him.

"Tell me!" she insisted.

"Ah. It's quite short. He went and caught a fish which was large and worth a lot of money. But instead of spending the money on himself, he took it and piled it and spent it on a ring. But he was far too proud to tell that to Maria, so he instead promised her he had simply 'fished it up.'

Well, he had forgotten that Maria's mother helped with shipments from the jeweler's in the empire, and had seen the ring, and she knew it was a lie. But it was five years before Maria finally told Will she'd always known he was lying, but by that time, the two were inseparable." Thaelasan said, pausing.

"But why is a ring so important?" Flora asked, cocking her head.

Thaelasan blinked a moment.

He had never told her about marriage, or weddings, or anything related to that sort of bonding. He hadn't considered it as important as telling her about his world. It just wasn't one of the first things that came to mind.

But now as he sat there, with her staring at him with determination, he realized he would have to explain it to her.

"Well, when two individuals get very close together, they may choose to have their love announced to the world in the form of a wedding, Flora." Thaelasan began,
holding up a finger. "It's quite simple, really. Their assets are divided. Their houses are merged. Their families become bonded. And their love is viewed by all the world as sacred. In most cases, it is overseen by a representative of their religion, in order to have their lord witness it. In the case of elves, the gods are normally-"

"When can we do it?"

He paused again.

"Come again?" he asked.

"When can we do it?" Flora repeated. Les was leaning over the table now, interested.

"Er... I... Well I hadn't really thought about it, to be honest. I believed we were already fairly-"

"I wish to have a wedding, Thael. If that is what the people of this world do, then I wish to do it as well. I do not mind how simple it is. I just wish to enjoy it. Do you not like the idea?"

How could Thaelasan put into words how much he DID like the idea? How could he possibly convey to her that that had been his secret desire ever since he'd seen her? For the elves and humans to be forced to understand that not only had he successfully brought a Fae into the world, that she loved him, and was his Queen? He leaned closer to her and took her hand, quiet for a moment.

"There is nothing I would like more, my Queen." he finally said, unable to properly say it. "If you would have me, I'll do what I can to make you happy. I'll find us a ring, and then, I will properly propose to you."

"Oh yes. There must be a ring. It is apparently very important!" Flora said chidingly. "We cannot miss even a single part of this."

"My my!" Les said, crossing his arms. "You two really are something. Not even phased by the fact you killed some kinda god, now you're basically proposin'? You two are unique, ya know that?"

"I would hope so. Is your father here yet?"

"Should be."

As if on cue, the door slowly moved open. As Thael and Flora looked up, Sara ran to embrace a man at the door.

If Les was a hiker, the man at the door was a lumberjack. Far tougher, far larger, and with a far longer beard. Les' appearance was very visible in his face, but his hair was greying from black, not brown. On his back, he carried a large, dead fish with one hand holding the rope that was tied about it.

"Who are the newcomers, then, ey? Company over, and I didn't get to meet them yet? Well, I'm sorry about that." the man said, stepping into the room. He slammed the fish on the table, the carcass shaking the house a bit. Both Flora and Thaelasan jumped.

"Are you..?" Thaelasan began.

"Neil Grandcatch, at your service." Neil said, pointing a thumb at himself. "Who are you both?"

They introduced themselves. He nodded.

"Ah. Tourists then, huh?" Neil asked, taking a seat at the head of the table.

"I suppose, in a way." Thaelasan rubbed his chin.

"Dad, they figured out what killed those men on the beach, and what the nightmares were." Les said.

"Oh. Did they now? Well that's real nice of you!" Neil exclaimed merrily, checking the fish over. "So we can rest easy now?"
"You should be able to. Flora and I slew four brain leeches between ourselves. Les killed the one in this house." Thaelasan stated.

"...Brain leeches?" Neil began.

"They're real nasty to step on, Pa." Les winced in rememberance. "Like slime and paste."

"They're parasites that gather around the sites of Old Lost Ones and the Thousand Hands. Really, they gather around any source of insanity or thought." Thaelasan added. "Librarians are taught how to deal with the buggers."

"Ah.." Neil said thoughtfully. "So that's all settled then?"

"It should be."

"Then what are you two here for? Not that I don't mind guests, but you don't seem to have that on yer minds."

"We need to speak to Wes."

Neil looked up, his attention now fully focused on the pair.

"... you sure? He's kinda aggressive now. Doesn't even wanna come home to visit anymore." Neil said. "He was always real quiet but he's gone almost mute."

"We need his help finding Old Will's key." Thaelasan added.

"So we can fight ANOTHER Old Lost One!" Flora said.


"I'll tell you later, Pa." Les assured.

"Well, either way, I can take you to him if you really want, but only because Les seems to think yer a good pair of people. Person'ly, I just want to leave Wes alone." Neil said, cutting into the fish with expert precision. Blood leaked as he began deribbing the massive creature. "Lemme chop this up for drying and salting and I'll meet with you."

The two nodded in response to the man's request, and the work was swiftly completed. By this point, the sun was a bit lower than noon.

Pieces of the fish had been hung on strings to dry with the sun's heat. Other pieces were sitting in the coldbox to be used for grilling and cooking. Neil wiped his hands of fish blood and put his knife back into the holster on his side. He looked at Thaelasan and Flora and gestured for them to follow him. After they said their goodbyes to Les and Sara, the two walked with Neil for a long while.

They crossed the muddy marshes of the town where several people waved at Neil as he walked. He spoke to a few of them every now and then for a few moments before continuing his trek through the city. All in all, it was obvious he had a lot of sway in the city. Everyone seemed to know him.

It was roughly half and hour later that they arrived outside a very solitary looking shack located almost on the precise edge of town. It overlooked a small cliff face, where one could see the ocean tides as they rose and fell. A fishing pole had been left with its string suspended into the water, the pole itself sitting on a wooden platform rigged and connected to the house. It was obvious Wes still had a love for fishing.

Neil walked up to the door and pounded on it once.

"Wes! Wake up, boy. Are you sleeping in, again? That's no way for a Grandcatch to act! Fishing every moment you're awake and dreaming of fish while you sleep! Get out here!"

Silence. Not even a sigh. The door moved a bit under Neil's force.
"...Wes?" Neil asked, concerned. He knocked on the door again.

Yet again, there was no response. Thaelasan and Flora gave each other a look as Neil turned back to them, confused.

"Real sorry about that, normally he at least replies with a grunt." Neil stated, putting his hands on his hips. "He must be somewhere around here."

They explored around the house but to no avail. Nothing was out of order. Neil scratched his head, now baffled.

"Well,... I mean he has to be inside... " Neil said, frowning. "Wes! Are you in there?"

He knocked on the door again. No response. Something felt very wrong.

Thaelasan didn't know anything about Wes, but he did know that this situation didn't feel right. Flora seemed to share his sentiment. She took his hand in hers and squeezed it tightly, almost as if she was trying to reassure herself. But Van'Sogoth had had a presence on this island. What if...?

>Teleport inside the house. There was no time to waste. If he was in there, he could be in danger. Something felt wrong.
>Knock on the door yourself.
>Try to look inside one of the windows to see if you can make out anything inside.
>Try to look inside one of the windows to see if you can make out anything inside.
Thaelasan moved closer to the window but Flora was already there, wiping away dust and peering within. Neil seemed uncomfortable.

"I may be worried about 'im, but that ain't no reason to breach a man's priv'cy." Neil said, moving closer to the pair.

What they saw within was a bleak darkness but now they could hear a sound of scraping and muttering, almost in a trance. Thaelasan began to worry about the man inside more than perhaps even Neil did.

>Break down the door.
>Knock on the door yourself.
>Teleport inside the house.
>Break down the door

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