A white void stretches from the horizon. Concrete curls under the unseen pressure, crushed into fine dust. You stand in the middle of a crumbling road. Staring into the pale face of imminent death. The earth cries out. Chasms erupt before you, the gray ground falling away beyond your perception. A shrill, rhythmic screech, almost a laugh, fills your ears. A cacophony of bending steel sounds as buildings collapse into ruin. Deep down, you knew. There was no getting away. No matter how far you ran, how fast, it would eventually catch you. The scent of coming rain. You’re shaking, being ripped apart at the seams. The very core of your being thrust into the epicenter of the voracious devastation. An incomprehensible voice calls out. Less a call, more a laugh, a chiding. It was as if the world itself was mocking you. What for? Why? No answer comes to mind. There was no point in trying. You closed your eyes, accepting the end before you.---Your nose itches, but you can’t seem to scratch it. You try to thrust your arm up, but nothing happens. What was going on? Try as though you might, even with all your strength, you don’t move a muscle.Simply gritting your teeth was a struggle. After a minute, you finally register your surroundings.A cold, cave floor. Patches of grassing reaching out just beyond your downed body. Leading to a small lake with rays of light illuminating scattered dust. A second wind invigorates your body as you hoist yourself up using the damp cavern wall. However, after two steps, you trip forward, catching yourself before plummeting into the lake.You stare at the clear reflection for a moment. What stares back is…>A short, red-headed girl.>A tall, red-headed man.
>>5311845>>A short, red-headed girl.
>>5311845>>A tall, red-headed man.
>>5311845>A short, red-headed girl.
>>5311845… a short, red-headed girl. That’s definitely you. At least, that’s what rummaging through what remains of your memory confirms. “Ugh…” You collapse backward, onto a soft patch of grass. Soreness and pain overtake what’s left of your senses. Outside of some specs of dirt and mild discomfort, you seem to be in one piece. Try as you might to prescribe meaning to that dream, nothing comes to mind. It may have just been that, a dream.“Where am I?” You stand up, walking around the lake’s edge. Small ripples radiate from the center of the pond. That must mean there’s fish, right? The temptation to devour wildlife rises as your stomach growls. “I think I can--”“Hail, stranger! It seems my treatment has worked.” “Ah!” You jump. “What the hell?” A pivot on your heel and you're face-to-face with a scraggly gentleman. Gnatted, blue-hair tied up in a ponytail. “I didn’t think a simple Soft would do the trick, but… life’s full of surprises, I suppose.” He shrugs nonchalantly, moving around your body as if observing a specimen. “It seemed being petrified may have given you a few inches.”Is he insulting you? “Tell me, how do you feel?”“Uh…” “I’ve never dealt with a full-body petrification case before. Do you know how long you were in this cavern? I’d estimate at least over a century or two.” The stranger nods to himself, affirming his own statement. “I’m… hungry and stiff.”“Ah,” he says, brandishing a notebook. “I see. Anything else?”“No?” You tilt your head.“Good, good! Now, what’s your name?”“Ah, I’m…”>Write-in (Custom)>Look for something that identifies you (Pre-name)
>>5311891>>Look for something that identifies you (Pre-name)
>>5311891>>Write-in (Custom)Kelman Aritan
>Write-in (Custom) "Sara Sneed"
>>5311891>Look for something that identifies you (Pre-name)
>>5311891“I’m… uh…” You pause. That’s peculiar. Don’t you know your own name? You pat yourself down, searching for something, anything that could identify you. Your coat pockets, your cloak, your undershirt. Ah, there it is. A plastic square, an I.D. card, with your name printed in bold, black letters.Student ID:Lorelai LufaineAge: 21Iphigenia University“Lorelai Lufaine.” The name felt comforting, but at the same time, hollow. Why did you forget your own name? What in the hell happened to you? You cradle the card in hand, eyes half-closed. Anxiety set in. “Lorelai Lufaine, hm?” The man repeated the name once, twice, and then three times. “Noted. Ah, sorry. I think I should’ve introduced myself first. My name is Bucklin Durancap.” He threw his arm up and then down in an exaggerated bow. “Bucklin?” That name, however, wasn’t comforting. It sort of left a bitter taste in your mouth. Not particularly sure why. Might just be because your mouth is dry and you’ve got an empty stomach. “So, how did you end up down here, Lorelai?”“I dunno.”“You don’t know, or you don’t know?”“I’m not sure I follow.”“Hm… never mind, I doubt you’ve got reason to hide anything from me.” This man, Bucklin, felt like he was looking through you rather than at you. You take a step back and keep your distance. “Oh, no, sorry, sorry.” Bucklin laughed nervously. “I just get excited with these sorts of discoveries, you understand.”>”There’s a time and a place for being a creep.”>”It’s no big deal. It’s fine. I forgive you.”>”Can we get out of here? I’m starving.”>Write-in
>>5312076>You've asked your question, so now it's my turn. Do you how to get to Iphigenia University?Why do I get the feeling that we've been in stone for quite some time.
>>5312105>"Do you know how long you were in this cavern? I’d estimate at least over a century or two.”Oh I can't read. Eh, sticking with my write in, universities can stand for centuries sometimes, look at Oxbridge and the Ivy Leagues
>>5312076>>”There’s a time and a place for being a creep.”
>”Can we get out of here? I’m starving.”
>>5312076>"Do you know how long you were in this cavern? I’d estimate at least over a century or two.”
>>5312076>"Do you have something for me drink?"
>>5312076>You've asked your question, so now it's my turn. Do you how to get to Iphigenia University?
>>5312076Questions>Check if he knows what plastic is
>>5312076You want to continue the conversation, to know more about your situation, but you’re still thirsty. “Do you have something I can drink?” You massage your dry throat. “I do, yes,” Bucklin says, browsing through his shoulder-strapped bag. “It’s nothing extravagant, but here you are.” He brandishes a leather waterskin. You waste no time swiping it from him. The cool water soothes your throat. You tilt it back, emptying the waterskin til it looks like a shriveled raisin.“Better?”“Yes, thank you.” You steal a glance at Bucklin as he packs the waterskin back in his bag. “Now that you’ve asked your questions, now it’s my turn.”“Oh, by all means.”“Do you know how to get to Iphigenia University?”“The… name doesn’t particularly ring a bell,” Bucklin says, scrunching his eyes. “Do you know any other details? Perhaps the name has changed in the past century or so.”“I…” The question stumps you. Outside of the strange dream, and the name of the school, you had nothing to go on. You search desperately through the confines of your brilliant mind for a question. A question that would tell you all that you needed to know about your current predicament. And, finally, it hits you. “Do you know what plastic is?”Bucklin quirks a brow, pondering the question with a hand to his chin. “Can you describe it to me?”“It’s a synthetic material. Err, I mean…” There had to be a better way to describe it. “It’s a man-made material. Not as hard as metal, but not as soft as clay. You can sculpt into whatever shape you like.” “Ah, you speak of elysium.” Elysium? That wasn’t a name you were too familiar with. Definitely not a plastic you’ve ever heard of. “A material from the far north.” Bucklin walks toward the far side of the cave. You follow him shortly after. “It never rusts and never dulls. It’s as hardy now as it was when it was made centuries ago.” Whether this was a lead or not, you couldn’t really tell. There had to be more to this than just being petrified in a cave. A reason why you were left here for so long. “So, I can find it--”Bucklin cups his hand over your mouth. “Shh.” He throws out a hand, barring your entry to the exit. “Quiet.” His eyes dart back and forth. “We’re not alone.”“Kehehehe!” Shrill laughter echoes through the dimly lit cavern. “We found some, we found some!”
>>5313041“Kehehehe!” Shrill laughter echoes through the dimly lit cavern. “We found some, we found some!”Metal screeches on stone. “Get’em! Get’em!” Green blurs leap out from the sky. Brown, pointed hats swing too and fro. Tiny humanoid creatures stand around you, three in total, with blades drawn. “We got you surrounded! Surrounded!”You huddle up close to Bucklin. “What are these things?”“Goblins. Never seen them before?” He smiles, unfazed by your unwelcome guests. “N-no.”“Here.” A clasp opens, and Bucklin hands you a small sword. “You’re going to need this.”“What?” You grasp the blade’s hilt in both hands. “I am? Wait, we’re going to fight?!” This was all moving way too fast. How were you going to fight these tiny things? Just looking at them sent a chill down your spine.“Look alive!”INITIATING COMBAT MODE…!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7AnGivXMWQInitiative:BucklinLorelaiGoblin AGoblin BGoblin C____________________StatusLorelai (Back Row):HP: 100%MP: 100%Bucklin (Front Row):HP: 100%MP: 100%____________________Special: Bucklin will act on his own during this encounter!>Attack: Try to attack with the weapon that Bucklin just handed you. It’s better than sitting around doing nothing.>Defend: Stay on the defensive to reduce incoming damage. Might be better to let Bucklin handle everything on his own.>Run: Attempt to get out of dodge. The exit is right there, after all.>Examine: Look around the room, see if there’s anything that can give you leverage in this fight.
>>5313046>>Examine: Look around the room, see if there’s anything that can give you leverage in this fight.
>>5313046>Examine: Look around the room, see if there’s anything that can give you leverage in this fight.
>>5313046>Defend and try to push them into the lake
>>5312076Supporting >>5312105 >>5312692 and >>5312786>>5312353Uh...anon...the other anon was just noting something the blue haired guy said in an earlier post, which may mean our university may not be around anymore.
>>5313046>Examine: Look around the room, see if there’s anything that can give you leverage in this fight.>>5313109Whoops, not sure how I didn't notice there was new posts.
>>5313046>Attack: Try to attack with the weapon that ucklin just handed you. It’s better than sitting around doing nothing.
>>5313046>>Defend: Stay on the defensive to reduce incoming damage. Might be better to let Bucklin handle everything on his own.
Even with little time to contemplate, your mind moves at an erratic pace. What advantages can you gain from the environment? The lake, of course, but the space within the cavern was pretty open. There didn’t seem to be any obvious advantages just based on your current predicament. The only idea that comes to mind is shoving one of the goblins into the lake. As you’re preoccupied with your own thoughts, a strange, blue glow radiates from your partner. Bucklin twirled a staff before throwing it into the air. He cupped his hands over his mouth and screamed. (Bucklin used Whistle!) Strangely, you didn’t really seem to hear anything abnormal as the odd maneuver seemed to suggest. It seemed supernatural, almost like magic. Two of the goblins hold their heads, their attention fixed solely on Bucklin. (Goblin A & B are provoked to attack Bucklin! Goblin C resists the effect.) The unaffected goblin was small, and distracted just for the moment. Your stature and strength should afford you the advantage. This was your chance to push him into the lake! Leaping forward with sword in hand, you push your entire weight against the green creature. “Gawgh!” it cries, arms flailing about as it splashes straight into the water. (Goblin C is doused with water. It’ll have to spend a round to get out of the lake. [Inflicted with Delayed, Drenched]) “Get’em! Get’em! Kill! KILL!” The two goblins move in unison, daggers drawn, toward Bucklin. He tries to track their frantic dance of death. Weaving and leaping through their attacks to find an opening. He can’t.“Tch!” The mage raises his staff to defend himself. One strikes true, nicking him in the side. Before he has time to recover, another slashes him in the leg. “Agh!” He cries out, rolling to create more distance.(Goblin A & B damage Bucklin, he loses 25% of his HP from both attacks, leaving him at 50% total.)_____________Initiative:BucklinLorelai[x]Goblin A[x] (Delayed for a turn, Drenched)Goblin B (Provoked to attack Bucklin)Goblin C (Provoked to attack Bucklin)____________________StatusLorelai (Back Row):HP: 100%MP: 100%Bucklin (Front Row):HP: 50%MP: 75%____________________>Attack>>(What target? You only have a sword, so you're only real option is single target.)>Defend >>(Put yourself in front of Bucklin, or raise up your blade to protect yourself. Placing yourself in front of Bucklin to protect him would switch your row, and you'd eat heavier damage.)>Run >>(You can grab Bucklin and attempt to escape.)>Maneuver >>(Attempting the same thing like you did before, with pushing the goblin into the lake. Just list out what you want to do following the vote. As long as it's plausible, it can happen.)
>>5314136>Make one big slash at goblin B>Don't bother bringing the sword back up, drop it and wrestle the dagger off goblin C
>>5314136>Attack Goblin BJust a heads up QM, but in the post you have Goblin C as being the drenched and delayed one, but in the data readout you have it as Goblin A that is delayed and drenched.Best kill the ones actively engaged in combat before they take out our new found acquaintance.
>>5314136>Attack>>(What target? You only have a sword, so you're only real option is single target.)Goblin A
>>5314211>>5314136Ah shit, you're right.Will fix that in next post. Actually, I'll fix it here.NEW INITIATIVE[\b]Initiative:BucklinLorelaiGoblin A (Provoked to attack Bucklin)Goblin B (Provoked to attack Bucklin)[x]Goblin C[x] (Delayed for a turn, Drenched)
>>5314136>>Attack Goblin B
>>5314136>Attack Goblin B
>>5314136One goblin was out of the way, which meant you could aid Bucklin against the other two. With sword raised, you sprint to his aid. Inexperience and a lofty hand as your guide, you swing the longsword down, almost tripping over your own feet. Luckily, your target was mid-dash toward your wayward ally. The sloppy slash finds its mark, cleaving into the goblin’s half-armored flesh. It heaves forward, screaming in pain as it stumbles toward Bucklin.. It staggered in place, trying desperately to turn its attention toward you. Whatever supernatural force pinned its attention to Bucklin didn’t waver.(Goblin B took a big hit, losing 30% HP.)“Thanks, friend!” Bucklin seems to have gained enough ground to pull out a strange, green liquid. He douses it onto his wounds, seemingly soothing the pain from the fresh cuts. (Bucklin used a Potion, regaining 30% of his HP.) Afterward, he circles around the open cavern’s space, placing himself closer to you. (Bucklin swaps from ‘Front’ to ‘Back’, reducing incoming physical damage.) “Agh! AAAHHHH!” In a bloodrage, the two goblins throw themselves forward, wildly swinging their daggers. With the increased distance between the daggers and Bucklin’s body, they have a hard time finding their mark. Their edges knick and prod Bucklin’s body, but fail to make any deep gashes. (Goblin A & B damage Bucklin, he loses 12% of his HP from both attacks, leaving him at 56% HP total.)The submerged goblin finally makes it back to land, shaking the water off like a dog. It coughs, unsheathing its dagger as it begins its approach. (Goblin C is no longer delayed. It is still inflicted with Drench.)
>>5314364Against the three of them, you’re not sure how you’re going to be able to get out of here. Running is an option, but the chance of failure is still present. That may mean running into even more if you get out of the cavern. Bucklin used magic, didn’t he? Was that something he learned to do? Even back home, or what memories you have of it, people couldn’t do things like that. There were stage tricks and the like, yes, but nothing like that. Raw, primal, powerful.If you were going to get out of here, then it’d be only natural to want more. Lightning crackles. It surges through your mind like rushing river rapids against a dam. It rises, swells within, almost on command. Your fingertips spasm, nearly losing grip on the sword.“What’s this?” Bucklin side-eyes you. “That’s… new.”“You’re telling me!” You grasp the blade with both hands, your knuckles turning white. ______________Initiative:BucklinLorelaiGoblin A (Provoked to attack Bucklin [Ends after round])Goblin B (Provoked to attack Bucklin [Ends after round])>HP: 70/100%Goblin C (Drenched)____________________StatusLorelai (Front Row):HP: 100%MP: 100%Bucklin (Back Row):HP: 56%MP: 75%____________________Actions>Attack >Spellblade (New ability. Imbue your sword with elemental magic and strike. The only available element right now is lightning. Deals less damage than the spell, but converts attack damage into damage of the desired type.)>Black Magic>>Thunder (Cost: 25% of your MP, deals low lightning elemental damage.)>Defend>Run>Maneuver (Perform a separate action not defined by listed options. Example: Disarming a foe, pushing them into the lake, etc.)
>>5314365>>Attack>>Spellblade (New ability. Imbue your sword with elemental magic and strike. The only available element right now is lightning. Deals less damage than the spell, but converts attack damage into damage of the desired type.)Attack Goblin C
>>5314365>>Maneuver>Tell Bucklin to lead the goblins aggroed on him to the lakePush them all in and have Lorelai chuck a thunder at them, that should fry the lot of them.
>>5314366Changing to >Black Magic>>Thunder (Cost: 25% of your MP, deals low lightning elemental damage.)Click R
>>5314365Cast Lightning on goblin BFocus one down and hope we can scare them off.I hope there's nothing in the lake that we'll wake up with this
>>5314365>>Attack >>Spellblade (New ability. Imbue your sword with elemental magic and strike. The only available element right now is lightning. Deals less damage than the spell, but converts attack damage into damage of the desired type.)
>>5314365Supporting >>5314372Say, QM, you wouldn't happened to have run a quest in the recent past that took inspiration from Dark Souls but then died off from lack of players, would you?
>>5314558Nope, I've never run a quest on /qst/ before. This is the first.
>>5314365Lightning at your beck and call? Your eyes drift between the lake and the two enraged goblins. “Bucklin. Can you use that spell again?”“Yes, I can. What are--” Bucklin follows your gaze to the lake. “Oh ho, I see. Yes, leave it to me.” He understands what you want to do at a glance. He may be a bit weird, but he’s definitely sharp. The blue mage sprints toward the lake, staff tucked at his back. The enrapturing spell blasts out with a resounding scream. (Bucklin used Whistle!) The two goblins already under the effect of the spell had it strengthened. The straggler, however, remains unaffected somehow. (Goblin A & B are provoked to attack Bucklin! Goblin C resists the effect.) You watch Bucklin run toward the lake, but there’s no effort made to jump in. He begins walking on the surface, as if the air beneath him were solid. The goblins trail after him, desperately trying to resist the effect once more. The first falls into the water, then the second. (Goblin A & B fail to resist again. Both are drenched and delayed.) You keep your distance from the last goblin trying to strike you. Lightning courses through your body once again. You raise one hand into the air to channel a strange, unseen energy. This was a thing of fancy. This wasn’t something that wasn’t actually supposed to exist, but here it is, at your fingertips. “Strike, Thunder!” You swing your hand down as if tearing down the heaven’s themselves. Heat builds up in the air before barreling straight down onto the two unfortunate goblins.Lightning rips through their bodies, charring their armor and burning their skin. They screech and cry, slapping at the water in defiance. Once the lightning storm ends, they float in the water, unmoving. (Goblin A and B get fried, losing 60% HP due to the double damage from being in the lake.)“A-ah… urgh, um,” The third goblin stands there, his eyes locked on your crackling fingers. “AH! AAAaah! Retreat! Retreat!” Whatever killing intent he had vanished. He drops his dagger and dashes toward the exit. (Goblin C runs away. Goblin A and B seem to be out of commission.)Victory!Lorelai Lv.1: XP 25%/100%Bucklin Lv.3: XP 25%/100%+200 Gil________________Commentary:[b/]:These guys have a 10% chance to avoid the provoke effect. Goblins A and B have failed both times, but C rolled an 8 and a 1 respectively both times for this effect. This boy is lucky.
>>5315292Tension leaves your body as the battle finally ends. Bucklin leaps back onto dry land, prompting you to follow him toward the exit. You nod, taking one last look at the two charred goblins before leaving. A part of you felt bad. They were sapient creatures, but they forfeit their right to mercy by attacking you. It made sense to you, but it did nothing to quell your guilty conscience.Lightning sparks from your fingertips. I don’t understand this at all. Awakening from stone, fighting creatures of fantasy, succeeding by the skin of your teeth.Where am I? What was that? Adrenaline is replaced with anxiety. Questions barrage what remains of your middling psyche. What were you going to do? How were you going to get home? Was there even a home to return to? Your breaths become erratic.“Hey. Hey!” Bucklin places a solid hand on your shoulder. He pats you on the back. “Deep breaths. In, out. Okay? I’ll do it with you.”You do as Bucklin suggests. In, out, in rhythm. After a moment, the fear that threatened to overtake you subsided. You ground yourself back in what you once thought was reality. Fear had its place, but not here, not now. Anything that clouded your reasoning would be detrimental to both you and your new compatriot. “Thanks,” you say, smiling at Bucklin.“No problem. Had my fair sure of panic attacks in the past. I know how it is.” He grins, patting you one last time on the back before moving ahead. ________________Location: Blueshawl Cavern - EntranceA blue sky greets you as you exit through the cavern’s maw. A dirt pathway cuts through the grassy plain, snaking its way toward the far off horizon. Trees sprout off the trail, dotting the rest of the landscape. You stare. It felt as though you were looking at a painting, or a monitor. The heat of the sun and gentle breeze weren’t enough to assure you it was real. It was an idyllic image only seen in your wildest dreams. How could something like this exist? Last you remembered, plant life was a commodity rather than a necessity.
>>5315294“Lorelai. Hello?”Nudge.“Ah,” you mumble, shaking your head. “I’m here.”“I’m not so sure about that.” Bucklin grins.“I am, I am,” you say, trying to convince yourself more than Bucklin. “Where are we?”“Blueshawl Cavern.” He points back at the cave’s entrance. “Suppose you could call it your humble abode, if you’d like.”“No. I’ve no interest in sleeping in a cave.”“Old habits die hard, hm?” He laughs to himself.You ignore the poor attempt at a joke. “That elysium you spoke about. That material. Where can I find it?”“Up in Elysia, the Boreal Lands.”“How do I get there?”“A good crew, an airship, and a lot of patience.” So, you definitely weren’t going to be able to walk. Good to know. “Where can I get an airship?”“A normal airship? Anywhere there’s a port,” Bucklin says, taking a seat on a tree stump nearby. “An airship willing to take you that far north? Good luck.” He leans down, pulling out a map and setting it to the ground. “We’re here, in the Kingdom of Highwind.” He points near a town by the name of Trausburg. It’s a little far from what you can tell is the capital of Highwind, aptly named Highwind. “And Elysia is overrrr…” His hand floats an inch off the page, guiding your vision past Salamand Horde, to a patch of grass, to your knee, then up to your nose. “Around there.” “Jokes aside.” You sigh. “I’m SOL.”“Pardon?”“Shit out of luck.”“That’s a new one.”The map isn't something you were familiar with. The landmass was vaguely similar, but that was recalled through your faulty memory. It’s not something you could trust. “Hmm…” You struggle for answers.“Remember, if you’ve got any questions, I can probably answer them.” Bucklin pauses, then reaffirms. “Yeah, probably.”“I don’t know where to start, honestly. Too much is happening too fast.”Your stomach growls. Your face heats up. Yeah, you were blushing.“Still hungry, are we?”“Y-yes.”“Well, never fear, I brought a snack with me.” “Really?”“Yes, indeed. Here, have a taste.” Bucklin shuffles through his bag again, brandishing a stick that looks like a candybar. “Uh…” You stare at it. Something tells you it’s a bad idea, but then again, what other options do you have?>Partake in the strange stick snack.>Politely refuse.>Write-in
>>5315297>>Partake in the strange stick snack.
>>5315297>Scrutinize his face if he's taking you for a ride>Break off a piece and try. Be concerned if your hands can't bend it>Try it. Better to make a fool of yourself here than in a city
>>5315297>Partake in the strange stick snack.
>>5315297Actually, I'll switch to support >>5315365
>>5315297Bucklin smiles expectantly. What was with that look? Is he expecting you to trip, or does he make it a habit of watching people eat? You slowly grip a piece between your fingers. Bucklin’s grin widens as you strip the piece. You put some pressure on the middle, bending it with ease. Satisfied, you nod, and make an effort to ingest it. Bucklin’s cheeks perk up, threatening to displace his ears. “Oh.” It wasn’t awful? It actually wasn’t bad. It tastes something like dressed celery. There’s the distinct flavor of pepper in there, too. It’s a weird mix, but it’s definitely edible. “What is this?”“I call it a Marlboro seed stick.”“Really? It feels like a vegetable.”“You… could say that, yes.” He hesitates. Why did he hesitate? That’s not good. That’s not good at all.“U-uh…” You open your mouth.“No, no! It’s entirely edible. See?” He takes a piece off for himself and joins you for lunch. You sigh in relief as a smile of your own tugs at your lips. “Thanks.”“No need to thank me,” Bucklin says, handing you a second helping. “It’s just … scary.”“I can imagine.”“I don’t really know anything, honestly.” You stare at the ground as you take a seat. “Where I am, or even who. I have my name, but what else am I forgetting?”“I don’t think anyone can answer that.”The response was curt, but it was the truth. The person most qualified to answer that question, you, can’t. It doesn’t matter, anyway, pondering the unknown will get you nowhere. The only lead you had was this Elysia that Bucklin spoke about. A land far to the north, beyond the white wastes, is where you would find your answers. Now, that’s another question, were they the answers you actually want? What happens if there’s no way back home? What then?You hug your knees closely. It finally hit you. It was something the battle put off, but that was it.You were scared.“I want to go home… wherever that is.”“Ah, not to worry.” Bucklin walks over, crouching down at your side. A firm hand clasps your shoulder. “I’ll get you there.”“Thanks.”
>>5316215“Now here’s the hard part.”“What?”“Where do we go from here?”“Wait, the way you talked… I thought you had somewhere in mind.”“Oh, not at all. I play things by ear.” He stands up, stretching his arms high into the air. “If I had all of this planned out, then the adventure wouldn’t be any fun.”The confidence his gesture instilled wavers, but only just a little bit. This man was someone you could depend on. A bit eccentric, and weird, but definitely friendly. You turn your attention back to the map he laid out. There were a few locales to consider. At least, that’s what it seemed like up until closer inspection. ‘Trausburg’ was only a few miles away from Blueshawl. It was to the north, too. It’s hardly legible on the map. There’s strange smudging on most of the borders. “Can we go to Trausburg?”“Trausburg? I… don’t know about that.”“Why not?”“Business.”“What kind of business?”“I may or may not have … angered a local lord.”“A local lord? Like, a noble?”“Yes, precisely.”“What did you do?”“Hit on his sister.”“Why?”"Because unlike most sheltered aristocrats, she actually has an appreciation for learning... also, she's very cute.”That was fair. Even so, that does limit your options. Unless you want to trek for an entire day to get to Nestad which is to the east.>Drag Bucklin into Trausburg and get him to apologize.>Go to Trausburg while making Bucklin sit outside.>Take the trek to Nestad with Bucklin. Probably won’t be any problems. Emphasis on the ‘probably’.>Write-in
>>5316218>>Take the trek to Nestad with Bucklin. Probably won’t be any problems. Emphasis on the ‘probably’.
>>5316218>Take the trek to Nestad with Bucklin. Probably won’t be any problems. Emphasis on the ‘probably’.
>>5316218>Nestad's fine>But really, you're just going to help me out for the long run? I'm hardly going to be able to pay you back, and judging from your reaction this lightning stuff is good but nothing uniquely special.
>>5316218>>5316305Support. What was he even doing poking around in that cave anyway?
>>5316218>>Drag Bucklin into Trausburg and get him to apologize.
>>5316218>>5316305Looks good, supporting
>>5316218Supporting >>5316305 plus asking what he was doing in that cave.
>>5316218Why was he willing to help you out so much? The two of you just met. There’s no obligation tying him to you. Unless there’s some kind of ulterior motive behind it, it just didn’t make sense. “Hey, Bucklin.” You walk side by side with your new friend as you move down the small hillside. “I appreciate your help, but you’re really just going to help me out in the long run?”He stops.You continue, “I’m hardly going to be able to pay you back.”Bucklin contemplates with a furrowed brow. “You’ve already repaid me in full, I think.”“What do you mean?”“Confirming my treatment works, being a good conversational partner, as well as the fine display of Black Magic.” He walks ahead of you, hitting the end of the slope. Black Magic? So that did have a name after all. “Black Magic? So, that lightning stuff I did wasn’t anything special?”“That entirely depends on the context. For instance,” he says, moving closer to you. “That sword doesn’t have any colored rocks in it, correct?”You unsheathe the blade and, sure enough, it’s just a metal sword. No colored rocks to speak of. “No, none.”“There you have it. That magic was all you!” “Then, what was the magic that you used?”“Ah ha. I’m glad you asked!” His wide grin returns. “Most refer to it as Blue Magic, but scholars, like myself, call it Azuramancy. The manipulation of the body, through magic, to replicate the natural wonders of the world.”You follow along for as long as you can, then you’re just lost. “I… see.” So, colored rocks allow people that can’t naturally use magic to use magic. That much is easy to understand. Actually, that does bring something else to mind. “When you were walking on the water earlier. Was that another spell?”“Ah, my Float materia.” Bucklin pulls out his staff, showing you a blue gem shoved into an open groove. “I lack the ability to cast more conventional magic, I’m afraid. So I make due with what I’ve got.”Why something like ‘Float’ though? You can deduce its function from just watching Bucklin walk on the lake’s surface. If such a materia existed, then why not something like ‘Flight’? “Why Float?”“Ah…”“If magic like that exists, then surely you could find one that could let you fly.” “It’s not that I want to fly, Lorelai. I just… ah, right, yes, enough about that. Let’s talk about your magic. I imagine you have a lot of questions.”
>>5316618“I just asked one.”“You’re really not going to let this go, are you?”“I did have another question.”“And what would that be?”“Why were you in the cave? I doubt you were looking for company.” “I came from Trausburg. A friend told me to come and check out a strange statue unearthed within the cave.” He says, his hands behind his head. “Our meeting was just a consequence of my wanderlust and curiosity. Nothing more than that.”“Really?” A part of you is disappointed, despite not really having any expectations. The meeting between the two of you was happenstance and nothing more. Part of it is comforting, too, in a strange way. There was no pretense to rescue you outside of the promise of more knowledge. To understand if his treatment would work. He’s making an effort to understand this new, mysterious stranger he had just met. It’s more of a mutually beneficial relationship than you initially thought. “Actually, where did you want to go again?”“Nestad.”“Oh! If our intention is to walk to Nestad, it’s going to take well over a day on foot.”“I… understand as much.” The prospect of walking on a dirt trail for more than twelve hours wasn’t an attractive one. “What do you propose?”“We could hitchhike.”That was something you hadn’t thought of. Mostly because it seemed like a dangerous idea. If Bucklin is here, it might not be such a bad idea. Then again, after only knowing him for a bit, it’s possible that things might go wrong.>Walking is the safer bet, even if monsters attack. It’d be possible to fight them off.>Go with the hitchhiking idea. It might be worth the trouble in the end.>It might be better to just go to Trausburg. It’s closer.>Write-in
>>5316619>>Go with the hitchhiking idea. It might be worth the trouble in the end.
>>5316619>Go with the hitchhiking idea. It might be worth the trouble in the end.
>>5316619>Go with the hitchhiking idea. It might be worth the trouble in the end.Gets us there quicker, and the two of us can probably deal with any creeps.
>>5316619>>Walking is the safer bet, even if monsters attack. It’d be possible to fight them off.
>>5316619>Walking is the safer bet, even if monsters attack. It’d be possible to fight them off.
>>5316619>Hitchhikinga faster option, no reason to go on foot if you don't need to. We may not even need to worry about getting lodging in the wilderness
>>5316619>>It might be better to just go to Trausburg. It’s closer.
>>5316630>>5316636>>5316637>>5316749>>5316759>>5316768We're gonna be underleveled by the time shit hits the fan.
>>5316858Actually, I'm going to take this opportunity to actually discuss the mechanical side of things, because I imagine you're all wondering what's going on. I'm using something called Super Console as a resolution mechanic, but pretty much everything beyond that is made specifically for the game. Here's a pastebin for character sheets, inventory, and gil: https://pastebin.com/U8bfFY1QIf you have any questions on the mechanics side of things, I can answer those as well.
>>5316923How does element typing work, something like record keeper with multiple elements?
>>5317041Elemental typing is as follows:Fire (beats Ice)Ice (beats Fire)Earth (beats Air)Air (beats Earth)Lightning (beats Water)Holy (beats Dark) Darkness (Beats Holy)Water (beats Lightning) For the core elements, then you have sub elements like:Acid (Poison) for spells like Bio, Sonic for spells like Bucklin's Screwdriver, Gravity for Demi, and Nature for certain Geomancer abilities, which don't have corresponding weaknesses, at least in this quest.
>>5316619Hitchhiking seems to be the best bet. Sticking around Trausburg with Bucklin is just asking for trouble. It still would have been nice to see the city sooner rather than later, honestly. “Alright,” you say, nodding to Bucklin. “We’ll hitchhike. Not like we have any other options.”“Ah, perfect. Trausburg is a big stop before Nestad, so we shouldn’t have to wait too long.”You trust Bucklin’s word as you follow him down to the beaten path just beyond the hills. You begin your long walk toward Nestad.…Bucklin waves passing carriages down. The sun sets a little lower over the horizon.…Two hours pass, and you’re hungry again. At least, you’re sure two hours have passed. You don’t have a watch. Realistically, it was closer to something like thirty minutes. You didn’t pass the time really doing anything except stare into empty space and walk. Too many thoughts dancing around in your head to make sense of today.“Ah ha!” Bucklin threw a hand up into the air. What was he excited about? You turn your head over and there’s a big, yellow bird. Two, in fact, in front of a carriage. They came to a stop just a few feet away from you. “Kweh!” The big bird chirps. “How can I help ya, stranger?” The coachman tips his hat to Bucklin. “You’re heading to Nestad, are you not?”“Sure am.”“Can we hitch a ride? We’ve business in the city.”“Don’t see why not. Be careful with the goods back there, though.” “Ah, of course.” Bucklin nods, rounding to the back of the carriage. Is it his natural charms that land him free rides, or is it something you were missing? “Lorelai, get on.”You snap out of your trance. “Uh, right.”“Kweh!” The horse bird coos, and lightly pecks your red lockes. You could walk past and be gentle, but that’d be more trouble than it’s worth. “Sir?” You plea for help.“She’s just playin’. Ain’tcha girl?” The man, instead of aiding you, pets the strange thing’s head. You’re fairly sure that’s just going to reward its bothersome behavior.“Ugh.” You were on your own. You breathe deep, grip your hair and tug. It hurt.A lot.
>>5317283“Aaahhh…” You grumble, massaging your scalp. You stare down the bird as you pass by. Bucklin assists you up into the rear of the carriage. “We’re all good back here, sir!”“Got it! We’re goin’!” With a lash of the whip, the carriage shakes as the wooden wheels grind into the dirt. “I think that went well.” Bucklin says, peering out the back.“For you, yes.” You straighten out your hair. “You didn’t get bit by a bird.”“Why do you think I keep my hair tied up?”“Because you think you’re making a fashion statement?”“Not particularly, no. An Azuramancer's last concern is their appearance. It’s all about practicality.” Taking another look at Bucklin’s hair, it does seem rather greasy. Back home, bathing was a fairly common practice. Was it the same here? “Does that include bathing?”“What? No, not at all. For a Blue Mage, the body is as unto a temple.” He smiles proudly. “It’s the primary medium of our magic, so we take great care of it.”“Your hair is still greasy though.”“You’re really stubborn.” Bucklin rests a hand on his nose. “Fine, fine. I’ll take a shower first thing when we get to an inn. Is that better?”“I mean, I’m not telling you to do that. If you want to, go ahead.”“You have a gift for this, don’t you?”“Gift for what?”“You’re doing this on purpose.” He leans back against the caravan’s tarp. “You have to be.”You can’t help but laugh. This felt nostalgic. It felt like you’ve done this before. You think back, back to whatever vestige of memory remains of your life before. The search rings hollow, and nothing else comes to mind but a tinge of loneliness and regret. “I suppose I am.”“Hey now,” Bucklin says curtly, leaning forward. “That’s not what I meant.”“I know.” You match his posture, eyes downcast. “It’s been a hard day.”“I can imagine.”A silence stirs between the two of you. The carriage rocks back and forth. The only sounds you hear are the yellow birds chirping from the front. It was just the two of you as the sun sat on the reddened horizon. >Try to get some sleep>Ask Bucklin a question: What?>Speak to the coachmen>Write-in
>>5317286>>Try to get some sleep
>>5317286>Pull out whatever else you have in your pockets. Make sure to call the card plastic and nothing else, no need to freak the coachman out>Do NOT experiment with more magic in a wagon full of merchandise>Check your currencies and quality of life technologies. Paper bills? Toilet flushing? Air conditioning?
>>5317286>Speak to the coachmen
>>5317286>>Ask Bucklin a question: What?Ask about himself
>>5317392>Supporting+>Speak to the coachmen
>>5317286Supporting >>5317392 and >>5317612
>>5317286Actual downtime. You weren't expecting it so soon, what with the panic of waking up and all. You could actually relax for a second. You sigh, reaching into your coat pockets to find anything else of note. Lint, a pen, the student I.D. before. A wallet. Wait, you still have your wallet! One paper bill worth 10$ and some change. Seeing that affirms the fact that you were, infact, a college student. Another I.D. card that had general information like a picture, height, weight, age. Oh, and apparently you were an organ donor. Neat trivia to have, and knowing Bucklin, might end up being a conversation in the future. Bucklin yawns before speaking, "What are you doing?""Checking what I have on me." You take your coat off and shake it. Nothing new falls out. You frown."I doubt you have anything of note, considering the petrification." Bucklin crosses his arms. "I'm surprised you have what you got, in all honesty.""I see." Disappointing. You fold your coat and lay it over your knees. As you glance over your hand again, that tingle moves through your body like a current. The sensation of magic. You close your hand and unfurl your fingers. A temptation set in to practice it. That’s a bad idea, given your current location. You didn’t want to be at fault for burning an innocent man’s cargo. This world seems to be, at the very least, in the medieval era. Carriages drawn by strange, overgrown birds. The lack of plastic is already quite telling. Your suspicions wouldn’t really be confirmed until you and Bucklin arrive in Nestad. ____After about thirty minutes, you realize how much you took technology for granted. An air conditioner would be fantastic right now. You fan yourself with your hand in hopes of quelling the sweltering heat.Not a second later, your wish seems to be granted. Cold air drifts from your fingertips. You stare at your hand. It was convenient, like before, so it really wasn’t worth questioning. Not right now. You continue fanning yourself, feeling the cool breeze wash over you. “Is that Blizzard?” Bucklin perks up from his book, wiping some snow off of his knee. “Oh, sorry!” You jump up. New snowflakes melt as they make contact with the floor. “I didn’t realize I was bothering you.”“No, you weren’t. I just find it fascinating. Were you trying to cast this?”“Not necessarily.”“Well, either way, I’d be careful. Casting spells like that can be deceptively exhausting.”“Right.” You cease casting the aptly named’ Blizzard’. That begs the question, how much did he know about this? He utilizes his own magic, but from how he talks, there’s a strict difference between Blue Magic and Black Magic. The only real difference you can tell is that Blue Magic ‘uses his body’. What makes Black Magic different? It seems like the energy is coming from inside of you. “Hey, Bucklin.”“Yes?” The book clasps shut.
>>5319508“What’s the difference between Blue and Black Magic? I mean, aside from the ‘conduit’ thing you mentioned earlier.”“Well, if you want an easy answer… Black Magic, and White Magic, to an extent, is akin to loading a crossbow and firing it. That is, if you consider your ‘mana’ to the bolt. Blue Magic is like throwing the bolt with your bare hands. It’s not going to go very far, so the body has to be trained to handle that strain.” The analogy made some sense, but without full context, it still went over your head. “So… what you’re saying is Blue Magic is better than Black?”“Not really. It’s more that Blue Magic requires different steps to achieve the same results."To go a bit more in depth, everytime I use Blue Magic, I'm changing an aspect of my body in some respect. I'm emulating monsters, after all, so that's a given." Bucklin smirks. "Most other magics only require a focus. Be it a staff, a piece of materia, or a person. In actuality, I would consider Black and White Magic far more convenient than Blue." “So, using magic is safe, at least for me?”“Yes, the only thing you really need to be scared of is exhaustion.”“What about you?”“I’ve heard stories of Azuramancer’s transforming into monsters, or worse.”“Oh.” “Ah, no!” Bucklin panics, waving his arms. “That’s after gross misuse, mind you. That’ll never happen to me.”You sigh, “That’s a relief.” You were worried, but you could only take him at his word. “You seem to know a lot about magic.”“Yes, well, I spent a lot of my formative years studying.”“You said that Black Magic was more convenient. Can you use it?”“Not at all.”
>>5319509That was interesting. Does that imply that people can be born with an affinity for one type of magic, but not others? “Why’s that?”“Not quite sure myself. It’s not that I never tried. A lot of my childhood was spent experimenting. White Magic, Black Magic, Green, you name it, I tried it.” “You only found success with Blue?”“Yes. Much to my friends’ chagrin.” He chuckles, his eyes drifting to the setting sun. “Really?” That was a surprise to you. “It seems really useful. You saved my life, after all.”“That was your endeavor as much as it was mine, Lorelai.” You shake your head. “No. I’m grateful to you. I’d still be stone if it wasn’t for you.”“Ah.” He hesitates and places a hand over his eyes.“Are you okay?” You place a hand on his shoulder.“Y-yes.” His hand shakes as he turns away. He turns back, cheeks wide with a radiant smile. “It’s nothing, really! I imagine you would’ve thawed yourself out in no time.” It was hard to tell if that was genuine, or if he was hiding something. Prying now probably wasn’t the best idea, either way. “Well, thank you, all the same.” “No problem.” He laughs. “I’d do it again, preferably without the goblins this time.”____Location - Nestad, City of StoneWooden fences gave way to cobblestone walls. The wayward dirt trail blends into the main roads of Nestad’s elevated suburbs. A city of rock and ivory spreads out before you. Spires lit with flame rising and falling with the turbulent hillside. Caravans pull in and out, stopped by a checkpoint just before the city’s entrance. Guards wearing ornate plate armor wave the merchants in one by one. Far more hectic than you thought, given it was the middle of the night. It feels a bit extraneous, even if you weren't familiar with how things were run here. What was even going on? “They’ve got a checkpoint set-up?” Bucklin mumbles. “Dammit.”“What’s wrong?” You match his whisper. “This is my fault. Trausbrug would have been easier, but we can work with this.” “Hmmm…” >Suggest hiding in the caravan, perhaps the soldiers won’t search it.>Ditch the caravan and try to find another way into the city.>Just act normal, don’t raise suspicion, deal with the consequences as they come.>Write-in
>>5319511>>Just act normal, don’t raise suspicion, deal with the consequences as they come.
>>5319511>Just act normalAlso, see if we can't find less conspicuous clothes before the guards arrive
>>5319511>Just act normal, don’t raise suspicion, deal with the consequences as they come.It's not like they plan to execute Bucklin, right? Is there even a law against banging someone's sister, enforceable in another city?
>>5319511>Suggest hiding in the caravan, perhaps the soldiers won’t search it.
>>5319511>>Suggest hiding in the caravan, perhaps the soldiers won’t search it.We look odd, Bucklin does not. Hide inside the caravan and have him bullshit our way out if we run into trouble.
>>5319511>Just act normal, don’t raise suspicion, deal with the consequences as they come.
>>5319511Acting suspicious is just going to draw even more attention to you. It might be best to ride it out and see what happens. “We shouldn’t do anything. Let’s let the coachmen handle it.”Bucklin looks out the front of the carriage. “That might be for the best. It’s not like you’re a criminal, at any rate.”“Are you saying you are?”“Shhh.” He brings up a finger to his lips.“Alright.” Best to drop the topic. You’re still going to ask him about it later though. The wheels stop jittering as the big birds come to a stop. You were at the entrance to the checkpoint. Guards, or rather, knights, approach the driver. The driver hands the guard a missive. You held your breath and remained in your seat. Bucklin did the same. The opportunity to do anything shifty had already passed. The clank of metal echoes in your ears. It gets closer, then rounds the back of the wagon. “Hey, can you two step out here for a moment?” There it was.This was sort of what you expected. You weren’t exactly in a hurry to get into the city. As long as you had a roof over your head by night’s end, you could deal with it. You sit up and move toward the back. The knight helps you step out the back of the carriage. “Excuse me, Sir Knight, I am in need of assistance.” Your friend waves for the guard.“... Okay.” The guard, nonplussed, does the same for Bucklin.“Thank you.” “What was that?” You whisper.“A bit of good fun. Might as well since we’re about to be questioned.”“Ah.” The realization hit you. You probably weren’t going to see the coachman again.“Sir.” The knight pats the side of the carriage. “Get a move on.”The coachman shoots you an apologetic look as he vanishes beyond the city wall. “So where are we headed?” Bucklin breaks the tension with relative ease. The two guards escort you into a tower to the right of the road.
>>5319956“Miss.” The guard points to your sheathed sword. “Oh, sorry.” You hand him your weapon, as well as your cloak for good measure. “Is that good?” He nods and you step inside.In the center of the room there’s a wooden table and three chairs. One next to where you’re standing, and two on the opposite side. An imposing man stands across the room. A long, purple cape flows down to the floor. He turns toward you, showing a furrowed brow and a deep frown. “Uh…” You freeze. You’re not quite sure where to go from here. “Have a seat.” The armored man offers the chair with an open hand. It was in our best interest to take it. You sit down, locking your gaze with his. “What’s your name?”“Lorelai Lufaine.”“Miss Lufaine, then. The name’s Garland. Jack Garland. I’m a knight commander in service of his Majesty.” He offers a cordial bow. “I’ll be asking you a few questions, then you’ll be on your way into Nestad.”“A-alright.” You slowly nod. “Now then, Miss Lufaine. Where are you coming from?”“Trausburg.”“Trausburg?” He considers your words, smiles, then nods. “I stopped by to see a friend on the way to Nestad myself.” He walks forward, the torch light overhead refracting off his silver mane. “How long were you there?”“Not even an hour.” It was best not to lie. Even if you did, something tells you this man would know. “We left pretty quickly.”“I see. Were you in a hurry to get to Nestad?”“Not necessarily.” You shake your head.“I see,” Garland says, noting down your responses. “So, what are you doing here?”That’s the clincher. The reason you’re here is because you couldn’t go to Trausburg. That’s literally it. “Miss Lufaine?” He leans forward.It was time to respond.>Tell him the truth of the situation. Maybe he can help, considering his station.>It’s best to avoid prying eyes, as Bucklin might put it. Tell him only what he needs to know.>It might be better to remain silent. Just sit and watch for now.>Write-in
>>5319957>Leave out some details to give Bucklin an out.>Traveling around to figure out her amnesia problem. Only lead so far is way up north, so you'd much rather wander around safer lands first to see if you recognize anything around these parts.
>>5319957>Tell him the truth of the situation. Maybe he can help, considering his station.
>>5319956>It's best to avoid prying eyes, as Bucklin might put it. Tell him only what he needs to know.
>>5319957>It’s best to avoid prying eyes, as Bucklin might put it. Tell him only what he needs to know.
>>5319957>Write-inGainful employment with my Black Magic.
>>5319957>>5319968SupportI'm fully expecting that criminal scum Bucklin to have dishonored this guy's sister or something, given our luck so far, but in case this dude is a magical lie detector might as well give the truth.
>>5319957>>Tell him the truth of the situation. Maybe he can help, considering his station.
>>5319957Garland was being as respectful as he could be. It was best to show him the same. Though, leaving out a few details certainly couldn't hurt. Especially if it was to give Bucklin an easier out. "I'm traveling around to try and remember.""Remember?" His eyes widen in surprise. "Yes. I don't really remember a lot about what I was doing, or where I'm even from. I woke up in a cave not too far from Trausburg.""Blueshawl." He murmurs, taking more notes."The only lead I have is up north. And, from the sounds of it, going up there is extremely dangerous.""The Boreal Lands." Garland pianos his hand on the table. “I heard reports of an odd looking statue unearthed in Blueshawl from one of my men.”Oh. You weren’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Would he believe that the statue came to life and walked out on its own? You frown.“Thank you for your cooperation, Miss Lorelai.” He stands up. The pent up stress washes off your body. Was that the end?“But, I’d like to place you under observation, at least for the night, to confirm your story.”That was asking too much, apparently. “Can I ask why?” “Of course.” He places a hand to his chin. “The people of Nestad are going missing.” “Wait, like, kidnappings?”“We don’t know.” Garland frowns. “There’s nothing. All we can do is confirm the missing people reports. It’s gotten so bad that Nestad’s acting governor sent for aid in the capital.”“That’s why you’re here. But, when did this start happening?”“A month ago. There were only a few people at first. Some thought the suspects to be monsters, others think it’s slave traffickers from Canaan or Paloom.” He clenches his fist. “We’re doing what we can.”“Is there anything that I can do?”“Remain under observation until tomorrow morning. Once I’ve heard back from my man in Trausburg, you’re free to go.” “Am I that suspicious?”“To be frank? Yes.”“I see.” That was a bit disheartening. “Well, where do I go now?” Your shoulders sag in exhaustion. How you manage to remain standing is even beyond you.Garland waves a knight over. He takes you out a door in the back of the room. You turn to look toward the entrance. Bucklin was sitting outside, waiting for his turn. You pray that he says the right thing.
>>5320594Interlude: Azure & IvoryBucklin steps into the room. Lorelai was already gone. More than likely detained, just from the look of it. He frowns. It would have been nice to have an audience for the talk, but that’s neither here nor there. “Have a seat.”“But of course.” Bucklin does as the man requested. “So, to what do I owe this pleasure, Sir Garland?” He says, a wide grin pulling at his cheeks. “No need for introductions, then.” Garland sighs. He could feel it. This was going to be stressful. It was the posture, the grin, and the honeyed words that cast doubt. “I already questioned your compatriot.”“Where is she?”“Being held under observation for tonight. After that, she’s free to go.”“Wonderful!” He claps his hands together. “So, what would you have of me? Anything I can do to help?”“You can answer my questions.”“Oh, gladly.” “What’s your name?”“Bucklin Durancap, my good sir.”“Sir Bucklin, then.” For some reason, this felt familiar. He wasn’t quite sure why, though. “I’m lead to believe that you were in Trausburg.”“Yes. Doing as adventurer’s do. Exploring the sights, rummaging through--”“Sir Bucklin.” Garland cuts him off. “Yes or no. That’s the only answer I need. Anyway, why were you in Trausburg?”“Ah, a killjoy. I see.” He sighs, regaining his composure. “Well, I was there to see a friend, of course.”“A friend? Would that be Miss Lorelai?”“Well, we ended up becoming friends.”“So you weren’t there to see her?”“No, not at all. I was there to see a lady friend, if you catch my meaning.” Bucklin winks.Garland groans. “Alright,” he says, taking down another set of notes. “If you’re to ask why, then it was for our relationship to flourish. I’m a sensitive man, privy to the whims and desires of women everywhere. Especially to the one I fancy.”
Garland writes down ‘lunatic’ in his notes, but scratches it out. “So you’re single?”“Ack.” Bucklin coughs into his hand. “Well, it’s a work in progress. My job as an explorer comes first, after all.”“Uh huh.” There was something about this ‘Bucklin’ that was rubbing him the wrong way. It just wasn’t his verbosity or his personality. “So, you hitched a ride on a merchant’s caravan and came to Nestad. What then?”“You know the answer to that as well as I do, Sir Garland.” Bucklin places an elbow on the table, and rests his chin on his open hand. “I’m here.”“Let’s move onto another topic.” Garland remains composed, despite Bucklin’s demeanor. “Do you practice magic, Sir Bucklin?”“Of course. Was it my apparel that gave it away?”He ignores the question. “What kind of magic do you practice?”Bucklin opens his mouth to speak, but he relents. “I practice …”“Yes?”“Parlor tricks.”“Parlor tricks?”“Why, yes. Parlor tricks! I lack the gift for actual magic. In fact, my former compatriots loathed me as a companion in combat. They’d rather a gambler than a magician of my lacking calibur.” “I can see that.”“You wound me, Sir Garland!” Bucklin leans back in his chair as if he was just struck a mortal blow. The eerie feeling kept resurging. Garland tried fighting it off but to not avail. “Sir Bucklin.”“Yes?”“Do you know anyone by the name of Stratos Delmasca?” “I’ve heard of him, yes. It’s hard not to, considering the current lord of Trausburg.” “That’s not what I asked.” Garland leans forward. “Do you know him?”Bucklin frowns. He had the choice of keeping this up, but that may place himself in danger before getting to Lorelai. “Yes, yes,” he says with a heavy sigh. “We’re acquaintances, nothing more than than that.”Everything fell into place. Garland heard constant mention of a ‘mischief maker’ and ‘Blue Mage lout’ from Stratos. Then there’s Cecilia who mentioned… wait, that’s why the name was familiar. “I take it you know a woman by the name of Cecilia Windsong?”“Of course.” Bucklin places his hands together in prayer. “She’s a wonderful woman.”There was nothing else to say. This guy was a trouble-maker, a bit of a creep, but Garland could easily confirm his alibi. “Alright. We’re done here.”Bucklin stands up, smiling. “If you don’t mind, can you show me to my friend’s cell?”“You’ll see her tomorrow.” A guard walks in from behind Bucklin, placing a hand on his shoulder. “For now, you’ve got a nice, comfortable holding cell with your name on it.”Interlude End
>>5320599Location -Nestad, City Watch’s BarracksYou sat in a room dimly lit by candle light. No handcuffs, no restraints, you were given the freedom just to move around. Across from you, near the door, is a tall, long man with rabbit ears poking out from the top of his head. His eyes were closed and his posture slouched. It looks like he’s asleep.…It was taking a while. You resolved yourself to wait until Bucklin came back, but he was taking way too long. There had to be something you could do.>Try to get some sleep. No point in causing a fuss.>Try to finagle your way out of the window without waking the guard.>Speak to the guard. Even if you wake him up, you’d be able to understand more about your situation.>Write-in
>>5320600>>Speak to the guard. Even if you wake him up, you’d be able to understand more about your situation.
>>5320600>Speak to the guard. Even if you wake him up, you’d be able to understand more about your situation.
>>5320600>>Try to get some sleep. No point in causing a fuss.
>>5320600>You're a student, right? Time to figure out what exactly you studied.>Was it architecture? You've got living history around you. Materials Science? Probably not. Psychology or Veterinary? You've got a rabbit guy right there to observe
>>5320600He had rabbit ears. That either suggests he’s not a human or his interests lie in something that you’d rather not pursue. The only people you’ve seen so far fit within your understanding of ‘humans’. Two arms, two legs, a head. This man fits that as well, but he’s tall, lanky, and has two protruding rabbit ears.This definitely wasn’t within your field of expertise. Well, and neither was swordplay or magic. Even then, given the architecture around you, it didn’t really resemble anything you’ve read about. At least, not from whatever your foggy memory tells you. Actually, come to think of it, what ‘was’ your field? You draw more blanks.Well, there were more pressing matters at hand, like the guard himself. Trying to escape with no weapon was the equivalent of suicide. It’s true that you had magic, but with hardly any real control, you might as well have fought with your bare hands. You hug your knees close, peering over at the guard. The shuffling of the bed covers causes one of their ears to twitch. “Hello?”No response.“Hello, are you awake?”“No.”Well, he responded. Now what? You’re not really quite sure how to approach the conversation. “What’s your name?”“Sarasiel.”“Oh, Sarasiel.” You rest your head between your knees. “That’s a cool name.”“What’s yours?”“Lorelai. Lorelai Lufaine, at least that’s… what I think.”“Forget your name? How’d you manage that?” He says, his eyes opening halfway.“I don’t know.”“Well, if you don’t know, then why’s your name Lorelai?”“I had something on me that told me as much.”“That’s pretty convenient.” He chuckles. “Well, I did hear some of what was going on downstairs.” He straightens up in his chair. The man would definitely tower over you if he stood. “For what it’s worth, I don’t think you were lying.” He rolls his shoulders and cracks his neck.“Thank you.” There was nothing else to say to that. Support from a stranger in an even stranger world was all you could ask for. It’s all you could rely on. Bucklin was your only real lifeline. And, because of you, the two of you are in this predicament. No. Dwelling on that wouldn’t do any good. It was best to focus on the matter at hand. If there was something you could do, you should do it. “Do you know anything about the missing people in the city?”“Only what the bossman told you down there.” “Are you a local?”“Nope. From up north.”“Oh!” Up north? If that was the case, then Sarasiel was bound to know something. “Does the name ‘Elysia’ mean anything to you?”“You speak of the White Death.” “White Death?” That’s a new one. “I heard it was called the Boreal Lands, but that’s a new one.””It’s what my people often refer to it as.” Sarasiel looks at the flickering candlelight. “I’ve never heard of a single soul returning from there alive. Though, I’ve been tempted to try it myself. But, I’ll leave that for the bucket list.”
>>5320856“What? Why?”“I mean, it can’t just be the weather, right?” He smirks. “Something else has gotta be doing the job.” That’s something you never actually thought of. Goblins were one thing, but what else did this world have to offer? What else was hiding in the shadows? In a world of magic, what as the limit? A chill runs down your spine. Sarasiel’s fluffy ears droop slightly. “Ah, sorry.”“No. It’s not your fault.” You turn to look outside the window. Caravans pass by underneath you, the road lit by flickering torchlight. “I’m just realizing how… scary everything is.”“It’s only as scary as you let it be.”“Huh?”“If you’re scared, you’re scared. If you know you’re going to be afraid, then you can do something about it.”“I don’t think it’s that easy…” “Being scared is fine. Good, even. But living your life in constant fear? I’d hesitate to even call that living.” “You’re right…” You knew he was right. Given your current affairs, no one would blame you for being afraid. Who could? You wake up after who knows how long, fighting monsters, and then you’re in a city for one second and you’re being detained the next. How long would this keep going? Could you sit down for just a second and think? Well. You had a roof over your head, a warm room to protect against the cold of night. It wasn’t ideal, but it was close enough.So, what did you lose? What have you lost? You didn’t know, and who says you ever will. One day was hard enough, but what about the second? The third? After a week, what then? A month? A year? There was no guarantee you would ever find a way home. There’s no guarantee your home even exists. There’s no guarantee you’ll even live to see it if it does. The only thing you can count on is uncertainty. Is your anxiety.Your nails dig into your knees. It hurt, but not nearly as much as not knowing.You tuck your head further in, trying to hide away from the world, in search of your missing memory. Nothing is there.
>>5320864Your shoulders shake as tears stream down your face.Wood creaks. You move your head up. Sarasiel stands over you, his shadow casting you in darkness.“If you think I’m right,” He says, holding out your sheathed sword. “Then you’ll need this. It’ll pave your way to answers and safety better than any coin.”What? Wasn’t he supposed to keep your weapon from you? This didn’t make any sense. “Uh, why? Won’t you get in trouble?” You sniffle. “I could break out… and…”"Not without some practice, you can't." He steps away, back to the seat in front of the door. "Get some sleep and straighten your head back out. I get the feeling you'll be missing the idea of rest soon."He was right. This was going to be a long, daunting journey, whether you succeed or not. The slackens in your grip as you set it at your bedside. You lay down and wipe your tears. The flickers of flame reflect off the window. Stars sprinkle the sky with a large, blue moon hanging overhead. You wanted to get a better look, but the lure of exhaustion was much too great. Your eyes close and eventually the darkness of sleep falls over you. __________Nestad, City Watch’s Tower -- 1st FloorIt was hard to get out of bed. So much so that Sarasiel nudged you awake. If it wasn’t for him, you wouldn’t have even got down here so early. You stand with your hair absolutely disheveled and your white dress-shirt falling slightly off the shoulder. It wasn’t really your fault, given the lack of toiletries and a conventional bath. It feels like karma, given the comment about Bucklin’s bathing habits yesterday.“Miss Lore- I mean Lufaine.”“Lorelai is fine, sir.”“You’re good to go.” “Wait, I am?”“Yes.”“Oh! What about Bucklin?”“About that… he’s being detained for further questioning.”“Wait, why? I thought you questioned him last night?”“My lieutenant has some business with him.” “I see.” Nothing to be done about that. Wait, what? “Lieutenant? From where?”“Trausburg.”You knew where this was going. You had a feeling, but now this confirms it. “Oh no.”“No harm will befall him, I assure you, Lorelai.” He tilts his head. “Ah, actually, the lieutenant was interested in speaking to you as well.”“Really?” You blink.“He’s curious about the walking, talking statue.” Garland laughs.“Well, who wouldn’t be, I suppose.” You shrug.“Better to use your time doing something rather than nothing,” Sarasiel interjects, arms crossed. “You can trust the bossman.”“Ah, that’s right. Sarasiel, could you show the girl around? Arrange some lodgings, if you can.”While you appreciate the offer, at some point, you’re going to have to do these things yourself. But then again…>Accept the offer. It’d be safer moving around the city with company.>Moving alone would allow you more freedom. Might not be a bad experience, as long as you know where you’re going.>Might be better to stay and wait here until Bucklin gets released.>Write-in
>>5320866>Accept the offer. It’d be safer moving around the city with company.>Lodgings, a place to eat, and a place to practice dem magics safely>And a library, if there is one
>>5320866>>Accept the offer. It’d be safer moving around the city with company.
>>5320866Cid, you broke immersion here.>“He’s curious about the walking, talking statue.” Garland laughs.You made it seem like Garland was there the whole time with Lorelai and Sarasiel, when he popped out of nowhere, since the way you wrote the scene Sarasiel escorted Lorelai from the City Watch’s Barracks bed to the City Watch’s Tower talking between themselves. You may want to work a bit more on your transitions and introducing characters to a conversation/area, since Lorelai and Sarasiel don't give a reaction or acknowledgement to Garlend prior to his comment.>Accept the offer. It’d be safer moving around the city with company.
>>5320999I see what you mean. I didn't label things correctly. Here's the corrected version.__________Nestad, City Watch’s Tower -- 1st FloorIt was hard to get out of bed. So much so that Sarasiel nudged you awake. If it wasn’t for him, you wouldn’t have even got down here so early. You stand with your hair absolutely disheveled and your white dress-shirt falling slightly off the shoulder. It wasn’t really your fault, given the lack of toiletries and a conventional bath. It feels like karma, given the comment about Bucklin’s bathing habits yesterday.“Miss Lore- I mean Lufaine.” Garland says, his hands behind his back.“Lorelai is fine, sir.”“You’re good to go.” He nods.“Wait, I am?”“Yes.”“Oh! What about Bucklin?” He was probably still in the holding cell, wasn’t he? “About that… he’s being detained for further questioning.” “Wait, why? I thought you questioned him last night?”“My lieutenant has some business with him.” “I see.” Nothing to be done about that. Wait, what? “Lieutenant? From where?”“Trausburg.”You knew where this was going. You had a feeling, but now this confirms it. “Oh no.”“No harm will befall him, I assure you, Lorelai.” He tilts his head. “Ah, actually, the lieutenant was interested in speaking to you as well.”“Really?” You blink.“He’s curious about the walking, talking statue.” Garland laughs.“Well, who wouldn’t be, I suppose.” You shrug.“Better to use your time doing something rather than nothing,” Sarasiel interjects, arms crossed. “You can trust the bossman.”“Ah, that’s right. Sarasiel, could you show the girl around? Arrange some lodgings, if you can.”While you appreciate the offer, at some point, you’re going to have to do these things yourself. But then again…
>>5320866>Accept the offer. It’d be safer moving around the city with company.
>>5320866There were no real options for you. The only thing that you could do was accept the charity. "Thank you, Garland." You felt you were thanking people a little too much, but it was better than constantly apologizing. Your main priority right now was to make sure that Bucklin was safe. After that, it was securing lodgings, food, then a place to practice your magic. Actually, a library might not be a bad idea. It would be good to see if you could actually read in this world. You could speak the language well enough, but would that translate to the written word? You muse, turning toward Garland. “Can I see Bucklin?”“Of course.” Garland steps toward Sarasiel. “Can you escort her?”“Yeah, not a problem.” Sarasiel walks past you and to the door. It opens with a loud creak. “After you.”You bid Garland farewell and head down a large hallway linking to the main tower. You look left and right, seeing guards cleaning their weapons or making smalltalk. It makes you realize just how big this checkpoint actually is. The walk comes to an end in front of a large wooden door. Sarasiel pries it open with one hand, waving for you to enter. You walk inside and with each step, you’re made aware of Bucklin’s circumstances. Moss lines the stone wall, growing thicker with each step. A strange, pungent scent fills your nose. “Bucklin slept down here.” You mumble, pulling your hand off of the wall.Sarasiel rubs some of the moss between his fingers. “This dungeon hasn’t seen much use in recent years. That much is evident.”“So I’d ask why they would put Bucklin down here to begin with.”“Practicality. The rest of the barracks are being actively used.”“How many holding cells are there?” You ask the question just as the answer comes into view. Twelve holding cells with only three occupants. One was asleep, the other was grasping at the bars, a maddening look in his eyes.“Get me out! Get me out!” The unnamed prisoner flails about, reaching for you.“Ah!” You leap back to avoid his grasp. Sarasiel grips the man's hand and tosses him back. The man yelps as he retreats to the corner of his cell. Your new bodyguard positions himself between you and the crazed prisoner. “I apologize for my conversation partner. He’s not what you would call lucid.” Bucklin sat on his cot, sighing. “Good morning, Lorelai. I’m glad you’re unharmed.” He stands up, stepping toward the bars. “Oh, you didn’t come alone! I’m sorry, if I’d known I was having another guest, I would have tidied the place up.”Your gaze drifts between Sarasiel and Bucklin. “It’ll be fine.” Bucklin reaches through the bars, a hand on your shoulder.
>>5321472You had to fight the urge to thank him. You simply nod. It was best to refocus. “So, what happened? You never came up, so I got a little worried.”“Nothing you need to worry about.” “Then, what’s going on with him?” You look at your assailant’s cell. “Strange behavior, even considering the possibility of mind-altering magic.” He leans against the wall. “The man’s obviously seen something. He keeps mumbling ‘I need to save him.’ I imagine he’s here because Garland didn’t get results.” That was hard to imagine, given your own experience with the man. “I don’t think Sir Garland would throw someone in here for such a petty reason.”“I don’t think that’s it.” Bucklin shakes his head. “You can’t necessarily question someone who’s out of their mind.” “That’s true,” you say, glancing over at the other cell. The prisoner hides his face, his back turned to you. His body twitches and writhes erratically. It was unsettling. Eerie.“Lorelai?”“O-oh!” You snap to attention. “Yes?” Bucklin quirks a brow. “Were you able to glean anything from your talk with him?”“Yes,” you breathe deep, regaining your composure. “We spoke about people going missing. That’s why they had the checkpoint out there.””That thought had crossed my mind too. I thought maybe our buddy over there lost his son.” Bucklin points with his thumb. “If that was the case, I think that would’ve been some kind of lead for the knights.” He clicks his tongue. “But if that were the case, I doubt Garland would still be at Nestad’s primary checkpoint.”“Hmmm…”“What are you thinking?”This case wasn’t really any of your business. You had a lot on your plate as it was. Just becoming accustomed to this world was taking every ounce of energy you had. But, then again, you didn’t just want to turn your back on this either. Whatever decision you made, Bucklin would more than likely support you.>It might be better to get involved. If you can find a way to help, it might be for the best.>It’d be best to focus on how you can achieve your own goals. >Write-in
>>5321475>>It might be better to get involved. If you can find a way to help, it might be for the best.Maybe it has something to do with our own disappearance
>>5321475>It might be better to get involved. If you can find a way to help, it might be for the best.
>>5321475>>It’d be best to focus on how you can achieve your own goals.
>>5321475>>It’d be best to focus on how you can achieve your own goalsBucklin is capable of handling himself, I think.
>>5321475>>It might be better to get involved. If you can find a way to help, it might be for the best.
>>5321475>It’d be best to focus on how you can achieve your own goals.
>>5321475>>It might be better to get involved. If you can find a way to help, it might be for the best
>>5321475It might be better to get involved. This didn’t sit well with you. If there was anything you could do to help, you were definitely going to find it. Though, in order to help out the people of Nestad, you had to be able to help yourself first. That meant lodgings, a place to read, and an open area to practice magic. “Let’s do what we can.”“Are you sure?” Bucklin quirks a brow. “I admit, I’m curious about what’s going on too, but you need to consider yourself, Lorelai. What do you gain out of this?”You didn’t know. You couldn’t tell the future, you didn’t know what was going to happen. All you could do was act. “I’m not sure,” you say, peering over at Sarasiel. “But I’d rather do something than nothing at all.” Bucklin scoffs. “You’re starting to sound like a…” “A what?” You didn’t like the sound of his voice.“... a fool.” “What?” That wasn’t what you expected to hear. “Do as you like.” Bucklin turns around, throwing his hands up into the air. “Bucklin?” What’s gotten into him? You reach through the bars. He lightly brushes your hand off. “I’ve got to prepare myself for the meeting.” He shrugs. “If I find out anything new from our friend, you’ll be the first to know.” Was it something you said? Outside of answering his question, what did you do? “Um…” You didn’t want to just leave the conversation like this.“Lorelai.” Sarasiel says, heading toward the stairs. “Let’s get going.”‘What about…” You point to the cell.“Give him time.” It didn’t do you any good to force the matter. The more time you spent trying to talk to Bucklin was time better spent looking for a hotel. With a heavy heart, you follow after Sarasiel, but not before shooting one last glance toward Bucklin’s cell.
>>5322437___________________________Location: Nestad, City of StoneGarland gave you a cloak to wear so you wouldn’t draw any prying eyes. It was larger than your old one, and did more to hide your appearance. Even if it did little, it offered some peace of mind. You venture out into the city with Sarasiel as your guide. The two of you exit out the back of the barracks and head into the heart of Nestad. Stalls line the streets. People of all shapes and sizes rummaging through the open bizaar. Carriages pulled by big birds and reptiles alike. The hustle and bustle of the city wasn’t enough to assuage your worries. This city was under some sort of attack. People were going missing by the day. Given all of the chaos, it’s not hard to imagine why Garland and his men were having so much trouble. The street splits off into multiple directions with people rushing every which way. There didn’t seem to be any traffic laws. It was a free-for-all to decide who ended up arriving early and who ended up late. The challenge for you was even finding where you were supposed to be going. Garland had given your guide directions. He was your only saving grace in this torrent of commerce. “Sarasiel?” You say his name, trying to speak over the cacophony of voices. “Can you hear me?” HIs mouth moves. You couldn’t make it out. Best just to assume that he did. “Where are we going?”He points toward a nearby stone spire with unlit torches lining its base. “I can’t get through!” You yell, throwing your hands out. “I’m not sure how to--” A hand grasps yours. You’re thrust forward through the crowd of people. It’s like trying to swim upstream. And much like treading water, once it’s over, you start gasping for air. “This is the place.” Sarasiel says, patting you on the back. It was a relief to hear his voice again. You turn back to the roiling crowd behind you. “I don’t want to do that again.”“We could go by rooftop if you’d like.”“I think I’d rather walk.” You part the curtains that marked the inn’s entrance. “Hello?” The room is large, decorated with a spacious red carpet lined with gold trim. The walls were made of uniform stone. Shelves sat lined with knick knacks and souvenirs, no doubt to bring in tourists.
>>5322442“Ah, hello, kupo!” Wait, where was that coming from? It sounds cute, but where was it coming from? “Where are you?” You scan the room.“Over here!” Another squeak. A fuzzy, red ball bounces up and down behind the desk. “Hi there, Miss! What can I do for you today, kupo?” The furry creature stands up from behind the desk. A small, button nose. Big ears, larger than even Sarasiel’s, poke out from the top of its head. You stare at the bouncing red ball.Sarasiel nudges you with his elbow.“Ah, right.” It was best not to make a scene. “How much money would it cost to stay the night?”“Just 10 gil per night per person.”You weren’t sure if that was a lot or too little. “That is fine.” Sarasiel walks forward, placing a small pouch on the desk. You wanted to object, but Sarasiel wasn’t going to take no for an answer. The fuzzy creature counts out the coin from the pouch. “100 gil. Alright, you’re all set, kupo. Let me get the keys for your room.” “Um, Sarasiel.” “Yes?”“What’s that creature called?”“A moogle.” He tilts his head toward you. “And, creature?”“Oh, person. Sorry.”He shrugs.The moogle returns with the keys. “Follow me, kupo. I’ll show you to your room.” You follow the innkeeper up a winding set of wooden stairs. He stops just before an auburn door. “Here you are.” He reaches up and unlocks the door. The moogle stood just about a little above your waist, not counting the ears. It was building up inside. It was hard to resist. You had to…>Touch fluffy ball.>Supress the urge. Thank the innkeeper and head inside.>Write-in
>>5322444>>Supress the urge. Thank the innkeeper and head inside.
>>5322444>Touch fluffy ball.
>>5322444>>Supress the urge. Thank the innkeeper and head inside.Don't dehumanize the person who owns your rented room. No matter how fluffy
>>5322444>AskAlways get consent, boys and girls
>>5322444>Suppress the urge. Thank the innkeeper and head inside.
>>5322444>Supress the urge. Thank the innkeeper and head inside.
>>5322444>Supress the urge. Thank the innkeeper and head insideNever touch a fluff that you don't know, that's no good.
>>5322444Don’t give in, as tempting as it is. Mooglehandling the inn’s proprietor seems like a good way to get kicked out. “Thank you.”“No problem!” The moogle hands you the keys before making his descent down stairs. “If you need anything, don’t hesitate to call, kupo!” Securing the lodgings was a lot easier than you thought. One night you’re hitchhiking in a caravan, the next you have a hotel room. It was all thanks to Garland’s charity and Sarasiel’s guidance. Light shines through the open window, splitting the room down the middle. On the left sits a desk, a bed with floral sheets and a fluffed pillow. The bed on the opposite side seems to be in the process of being cleaned. It’s stripped bare with folded sheets and a pillowcase sitting at the foot of the mattress. You collapse onto the bed, arms and legs out. You close your eyes for just a moment. The sunlight kisses your face. The warm sheets, the freshly cleaned pillow. Stress leaves your body as you sink further into bliss. “Seems a little better than the watchmen’s barracks.” Sarasiel looks over the room.“A little better?” You turn to Sarasiel, sighing. His tastes were something that were beyond you.“I prefer practicality over comfort.” He crosses his arms. “But, this isn’t about me. Where to next?” “A library.” Sarasiel’s question pulls you back to reality. You wanted to take a look at some books to see if you could actually read the text. The signs displayed through the bazaar were completely illegible. It was a little disheartening, to be sure, but that didn’t mean you shouldn’t give it another try. If you could understand speech, there’s nothing saying that you wouldn’t be able to read it. Well, that’s the working theory, anyway. You’re not even sure of the mechanism that’s even allowing you to understand spoken language. Definitely something to think about for later. Regretfully, you sit up from the bed. Next stop was the library.
>>5323700__________Location: Nestad, East District LibraryEverywhere you stepped, large, thin shadows lined the city streets. The mounting spires were ever present, peering down on the citizenry of Nestad. They made you feel small, but for the people of Nestad, they may be a welcome sight. It’s certainly a strange choice in architecture. It’s not something that you could even fathom, given your lack of knowledge of this world. You mull over the possibilities as Sarasiel steps ahead of you. He navigates Nestad’s winding corridors as if it were second nature. You weren’t given the chance to fall behind. He pulls you onward through crowded roads and alleyways. You wanted to protest, but before you even had a chance to, the library sat in front of you. Large columns of rust colored stone hoist up the massive building. It had to be at least four to five stories tall. It was hard to tell, given the unconventional structure. A large plaque sits outside with garbled text adorning it. Yeah, you couldn’t decipher it. Expected, but still disappointing all the same. You ascend the stairs with Sarasiel following just a few feet behind you. Massive shelves stand as tall as the rock spires outside. They loom over you, illuminated by an artificial light overhead. You step forward, taking it all in. For the first time since you’ve come here, you feel at home. Sarasiel waves you over to the front desk. A girl with cat ears peers up at you. “Can I help you with anything?”You were already going to ask about Elysia, that much was certain. But there was another topic that came to mind.>Learning about magic.>Learning more about the country you’re in.>Learn about the sorts of monsters you might run into.>Learn about the various races in this world.>Write-in
>>5323703>Learn about the various races in this world.
>>5323703>>Learning more about the country you’re in.
>>5323703>>Learn about the various races in this world.>Languages of the world, including "ancient" or "mystical" languages
>>5323703>Learning about magic.
>>5323703>Learn about the sorts of monsters you might run into.
>>5323703>>Learning about magic
>>5323703It would pay to inform yourself about the various races you’ve already encountered. Being ignorant is only permissible for so long. “Can you guide me to any archives you have on the Boreal Lands?” “Oh, certainly.” The clerk sits up and walks you down an aisle of books. Your eyes wander speculating what these otherworldly tomes might actually contain. It hurt that you couldn’t read them yourself. It might be better that way, considering you’d lose hours, maybe even days, trying to understand everything. “Here we are.” She presents you with a small shelf with a half dozen books. It’s as almost destitute as the subject matter. “Is this it?” Your shoulders sag.“Yes, that’s all.” The cat girl pushes up her glasses.This didn’t really add up. A mysterious continent far in the north, untouched by man, is a goldmine of speculation and study. You refuse to believe that just because people can’t visit it directly, that there aren't more written works about it. You click your tongue. There was no point in getting frustrated about it. Elysia was, as you knew, far up north. Judging based on the map that Bucklin showed you, that was a couple thousand miles away. Communication certainly wasn’t as convenient as it was for you back home. You bury your regrets, and frown. You grab two books from the shelf. Afterward, the clerk shows you what you could define as the ‘anthropology’ section. After thanking her and requesting the equivalent of pen and paper, you take a seat at an empty desk with Sarasiel. It still surprised you how tall he was, even sitting down. “I’m going to need you to read these to me.” Sarasiel wordlessly takes one of the books about Elysia in hand. He opens it, splaying it out onto the desk. “Are you ready?” “As I’ll ever be.” You begin taking notes as Sarasiel begins reading.__________
>>5324633__________Notes on Elysia:“It’s said to be a paradise of gold and coin, a prosperous paradise. Those who don’t see that are fools. Our final frontier! I promise you, endless riches await just beyond the unweathered storm!” - Captain Cid Stronoff of the S.S. HedgepieAn unknown region with many different secrets hidden beyond an endless storm. What materials have been recovered from it have been sparse, to say the least. The strange, plastic-like substance that Bucklin mentioned, elysium, is the only named material. Other materials listed sound more like synthetic fibers. This gives me a good idea of what level of technology is available in the wider world. Elysia sounds as close to ‘modern’ as one can get in this strange world.Expeditions into the Boreal Lands are always unsuccessful. The cited reason is due to the hazardous weather. After diving more into the books, I now understand why there’s so little literature about Elysia. Expeditions have to show some kind of profit, and sailing or flying into the Boreal Lands is a death sentence. No one wins there. Sarasiel believes there’s something else at play there, and I’m inclined to agree. If it was just weather then, statistically, at some point, someone would’ve had to have succeeded. But no one has. Every single named attempt has ended in failure.”I saw it. I shouted ‘land-ho’, I raised my voice. No one heard me. When I turned around, everyone and everything was gone.” Anonymous, survivor of the SirensongThere’s a single anecdote for an anonymous man who claims to have seen Elysia himself. And, fortunately enough, he lived to tell the tale. He speaks of plains of white stretching as far as the eye can see. You don’t have to set foot onto the landmass to know that it’s covered in snow. A city of ivory stretching off into the distance. Roads made of sterling silver and gold. A lot of what he says can easily be attributed to hallucinations. The text doesn’t give much credence to the story outside of the fact that he is a survivor of an Elysian expedition. The man washed up on the shores of Saronia, a country on the northern half of the Eastern Continent.That then leads into the fact that most expeditions into Elsyia are made from Saronia, or the Saronian Protectorate, a country under the Doman Divine Empire’s protection. Almost all of the failed expeditions were funded by Doma. Not explicitly by the government, but smaller nobles and lords hoping to hit it big. There are a few named expeditions given explicitly money by the crown, but the records on those are debated.What isn’t debated is that while the ventures into Elysia itself end in failure, the Elysian Circle, or the islands that make up the parameter of the continent, tell a different story. Those excursions into the island prompted further investigation from Saronia and Doma. This seems to be how elysium came to be known to the wider populace. __________
>>5324640Your quill pen stops. A thought nags at the back of your mind. If Saronia is so far north, then could these expeditions launch from elsewhere? “Actually, Sarasiel. You said you’re from up North.” You point to a map in the journal. “Are you from the Salamond Horde?”“Yes, I am. Why do you ask?”“Could the expeditions leave from Salamond’s shores?”He shakes his head. “Sailing any further north than the stillwaters of the Dalhurst invites trouble. Most fishermen hesitate to go further than just a few miles out.” “It’s not the weather, is it?”“No, creatures of the deep.”“I see your point.” That was something else you had to do research into. What kind of monsters that dwell within the ocean, and the rest of the world. “Onto the next book?” Sarasiel smiles, grabbing an anthropology text. It honestly seems like he’s enjoying the reading. You nod, flipping over to the next page of your notebook._________Races of Gaia: The Western Continent and Beyond:Races, or species if you want to use the proper term, come in a lot of of different shapes and sizes. The rabbitfolk, or the Viera, trade their origins to Salamond Horde. They’re reclusive, akin to a country-wide tribe than any traditional body of government one would be familiar with. They live amidst the temperate wetlands and forests, away from prying eyes. Viera, moogles, hume, and mithra call the realm their home. Hume are essentially humans, for the most part. So now I know if someone says ‘hume’, they may be referring to me. Next up is moogles, like the innkeeper. They seem to be all over the place. There’s no single, discernible origin for them. They’re small, they’re fluffy, and their culture is as varied as the hume. Lalafell, or Taru as they’re called in some regions, are primarily found in Canaan or Paloom. They’re easy to discern given their small height. They are gifted in the arcane arts with some of the most prestigious mages in history being among their race. One noted by name is Shantotto, a folk hero amongst the Lalafell of the Canaanite Empire. The Lindwyrm are a race commonly associated with dragons. They bare horns and tails, and sometimes wings upon their backs. They primarily dwell within the Kashuanese Theocracy and the Eastern Continent. Other races, classified as ‘beastfolk’, such as kobolds and sahuagin, are classified as ‘monsters’ in the writings despite showing intelligence and the ability to communicate. Will have to look more into this later._________
>>5324649You finish taking another page of notes. “Alright, I think that’s enough for now.” You sigh, leaning back in your chair.It had to have been at least an hour or two since Sarasiel started reading. You stand up, stretching your arms. It felt right, being back in your element. The library has certainly been more of a help than you initially thought. “Thanks, Sarasiel. I wouldn’t have even been able to do any research if it weren’t for you.”“Think nothing of it.” He says, clasping the book shut. “It seems like heading into Elysia is out of the question, but the islands seem feasible enough.”“Feasible as in ‘possible’, yes, but for you.” He pauses, a hand to his chin. “I think that may be another question entirely.”“What do you mean?”“Transportation, supplies, food, manpower, just to name a few.”“That’s what you meant.” You thought he was commenting about your innate abilities. “Well, I was getting to that…”“Preparing for the journey is just as important as the journey itself.” “Well, planning for these sorts of things is--” You start muttering. It felt like you were getting reprimanded by a professor. “A question, Lorelai.”“Yeah?”“How do you intend on getting to the Elysian Circle, as you call it?”>”Leaving from Saronia makes the most sense. It’d be the safest, just from what we know.”>”It might be difficult, but sailing from the Salamond Horde into one of the outer islands could be possible.”>"Too little information to go off of. I'd like to make a more informed decision." >Write-in
>>5324652>"Too little information to go off of. I'd like to make a more informed decision."
>>5324652>>”Leaving from Saronia makes the most sense. It’d be the safest, just from what we know.”
>>5324652>Making any of the materials or devices from Elysium myself. Once the profits have a stronger basis in reality, someone will come with their own offer eventually.
>>5324652>>”It might be difficult, but sailing from the Salamond Horde into one of the outer islands could be possible.”
>>5324652>Too little information to go off of. I'd like to make a more informed decision."
>>5324652>>"Too little information to go off of. I'd like to make a more informed decision."
>>5324652There was too much you didn’t know in order to make that kind of choice. Just reading a few dusty books isn’t enough to make a decision as important as this. “Too little information to go off of.” You sit up from the table. “I’d like to know more before deciding on anything.” Sarasiel nods. “It’s something you still need to consider before making the journey.” It was a choice you would eventually have to make. Sitting in Nestad for the next week mulling it over wouldn’t do any good. You had more pressing matters to attend to. Namely the missing people of Nestad. You weren’t sure how, exactly, you were going to help, but you were going to try. Afterward, you gather the books up in a pile before sitting up from the chair. “Let’s put these back.” You say as Sarasiel reaches out to relieve the literary burden. “No, you read them to me. The least I can do is return them.”“Hm,” Sarasiel says, watching you pass by. “You have good balance.”He was right. Handling a weight like these seemed to be second nature. Perhaps you spent too much time in the library back home? Regardless, you move through each aisle, placing books back into their rightful place. Putting the books back did little for your temptation to keep reading..There were a lot of mysteries yet to solve. You shake your head. Knowledge is important, but so is acting on it. If you wanted to study again, you knew where to go.“Now a place to practice my magic.” You walk with Sarasiel to the frontdesk. “Nestad’s outskirts.”“Oh, just outside the city? Wouldn’t that get us in trouble?”“Not at all.” He smirks. “I know a spot about half a malm out from the city wall.”“Malm?” You tilt your head.“Yes, malm.”That’s what that was called? You couldn’t actually read the map legend and were just assuming ‘mile’ the entire time. “Malm, okay.” You mumble. Given the similarity, it might just be best to assume that they’re the same length of measurement. “Lead the way.” __________
Location: Nestad’s Outskirts, Luria Plains - WoodsA warm breeze brushes through your hair as you venture forth. Trees billow in the wind, leaves rustling overhead. The plains smell of a fine spring morning. It was a different experience than riding in the carriage. Especially because you could actually take in the majesty of nature. The big bird, or to use the proper term, Chocobo, reeked of farm fowl and sounded like it too. Not exactly what you would call majestic. “Here you are.” Sarasiel takes a seat on a large stump near a thicket of trees. “What are you going to do, Sarasiel?”“Observe.” That made you a little nervous. “A-alright.” You step into the center of the clearing. You try to remember it. The sensation of power. The image coalesces into your mind. A spark of lighting splitting the sky. You raise your arm heavensward. Blue streaks arc from one finger to another. Your arm shakes, but there’s no pain. It crackles and sparks. Particles unseen to the eye freed from their orbit by force of will alone. Electricity runs through an open circuit. You grasp at the clouds, at the sun, at the moon that lies beyond the obscuring blue veil. With one last push, you complete the circuit. “Thunder!” A brief crackle, and an almost painful flash fill the air, smoke rising from a scorched spot of earth a few feet in front of you.“That confirms your affinity for Black Magic.” Sarasiel tilts his head. “I think you’re straining too much.”“Huh?”“You were forcing the aether out,” he says, raising an open hand. The same ‘energy’ courses in his palm. “All you have to do is let it flow.” “You can use magic too, Sarasiel?” He shakes his head. “Not exactly. What I practice gives similar results, but it’s a different discipline altogether.”“I see.” You wanted to ask him, but it was better to focus on your own training for now. You repeat the process in your mind. You let it flow freely. You clench your palm, gathering your ‘aether’. The circuit reappears in your mind. You don’t force it, you simply let it flow as instructed. Your hand fidgets and shakes. You grasp your wrist to keep it steady. “Well done.” Sarasiel congratulates you. You open your eyes to see a small, flickering ball of lightning. Was it that easy? “I was trying too hard?” “Yes.” “So---” You stop short.“Shh.” Sarasiel’s ears twitch. He stands up, gripping his quarterstaff. “We have company.”A shadow leaps out from behind the tree. “Rao! RAO!” A big wolf with orange fur and an armored scalp. Its hair stands on end. What drew it here? Your eyes drift over to the smoldering dirt a few feet away. “On your guard, Lorelai.”“R-right!” You unsheathe the sword at your waist and ready yourself for combat.__________
>>5325819__________Party Information and Character Sheets: https://pastebin.com/U8bfFY1QINITIATING COMBAT MODE…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AjXgK0NYToInitiative: SarasielLorelaiBloodfang_________Status:Lorelai (Front Row):HP: 100%MP: 100%Sarasiel (Front Row):HP: 100%Chakra: 0/3_________Lorelai Commands:>Attack>Spellblade (Which spell? Thunder, Blizzard?)>Black Magic (Thunder, Blizzard)>Maneuver>Item>Run_________Sarasiel Commands:>Attack (Sarasiel generates Chakra by attacking or performing physical maneuvers. Chakra is then used for Enfusion, which is Sarasiel's own brand of magic.)>Enfusion (Cost: 1 Chakra) [Enthunder/Enstone/Enwater]>Ensorcelled Strike (Ensorc strike gains different properties based on what Enfusion’s are used.)>Maneuver>Item>Run
>>5325828>Attack (Sarasiel generates Chakra by attacking or performing physical maneuvers. Chakra is then used for Enfusion, which is Sarasiel's own brand of magic.)>Enfusion (Cost: 1 Chakra) [Enthunder/Enstone/Enwater]>Ensorcelled Strike (Ensorc strike gains different properties based on what Enfusion’s are used.)That is damn coolLorelai Commands:>Spellblade (Which spell? Thunder)On us.Sarasiel Commands:>Attack
>>5325948>>5325960uhhh you're not voting to stab self with thunder.....right?
>>5325828Lorelai>Defend, catch the beast's mouth with your sword, and freeze the whole thing together next round.Sarasiel>Attack
>>5325828Lorelai Commands:>Black Magic (Thunder) >Sarasiel Commands:>Attack
>>5325828Sarasiel runs forward in a blur, conjuring a violent gust in his wake. You had trouble following the burst of speed. His arm reels back as he closes the distance to the wolf. His fist snaps forward like a striking snake. One punch to the wolf’s snout, another to the side of the head. The beast leaps back to gain some distance, spit and blood dripping from its mouth. (Bloodfang -25% HP.)You run in to flank the retreating beast. Energy flows through your body and into the blade. It crackles to life with a spark of lightning. You swing the sword straight down. It carves a blue arc, heating the air as it passes by. (Lorelai -25% MP on cast. Lorelai gains Lightning affinity! Takes half damage from lightning attacks/spells. Inversely, she gains a weakness to the opposite element.)“Rao!” The wolf squeals as heated steel carves into the side of its body. (Bloodfang -30% HP.) No blood drips from the cauterized wound. The beast’s eyes refocus. It finds its target. It dashes forward, mouth open.You brace yourself with sword held high. Fangs clamp down onto steel rather than flesh. “Back off!” You swing your leg, kicking the monster back. It skids to a stop a few feet away. Recovering from the recoil, it stands, ready to fight again. (Lorelai braces herself against the attack, causing the beast to miss!) Sarasiel stands at the ready, energy flowing off his body like steam. (Sarasiel gathers Chakra from the strike. +1 Chakra)_________Initiative:Sarasiel (Spellblade (Thunder): 3 rounds remain) LorelaiBloodfang>HP 45%/100%_________Status:Lorelai (Front Row):HP: 100%MP: 75%Sarasiel (Front Row):HP: 100%Chakra: 1/3_________Lorelai Commands:>Attack>Defend>Spellblade (Which spell? Thunder, Blizzard?)>Black Magic (Thunder, Blizzard)>Maneuver>Item>Run_________Sarasiel Commands:>Attack (Generates 1 Chakra)>Defend>Enfusion (Cost: 1 Chakra) [Enthunder/Enstone/Enwater]>Ensorcelled Strike >Maneuver>Item>RunI whipped up some shorthand inforgraphics for future encounters with basic stats as well as ability descriptions, power, cost, etc. for your convenience. Let me know what you think or what could be added going forward into the future.
>>5327185That look great. Thanks for putting in the effort and running.Lorelai Commands:>AttackSarasiel Commands:>Enfusion (Cost: 1 Chakra) [Enwater]
>>5327185Is Sarasiel supposed to be the one with the Spellblade effect on the initiative block? Lorelai - >ThunderSarasiel - >Enstone
>>5327230Nope, I'm dumb. Will correct it next post.
>>5327185Lorelai >AttackSarasiel>Enfusion Enstone
>>5327185Stones rise up from the ground, attracted to Sarasiel’s glowing fist. The rocks harden into a dulled bludgeon. He steps forward, aiming his punch to the side of the beast’s head. If it wasn’t enough to kill, it was definitely enough to incapacitate. The improvised bludgeon shatters, dust scattering in the wind from the impact of the blow. The wolf doesn’t howl in pain, nor does it run. It fixes its gaze on Sarasiel. Blood drips from its slacking jaw. It breathes heavily. (-30% Bloodfang HP. It stands there, unmoving, yet aware. It seems disinterested in continuing the fight.)Sarasiel’s lower his stance “This is no mere beast.”“Ryke! RYKE! Where are you!?” A voice calls out from the woods behind the wolf. Sarasiel was right. It wasn’t a wild animal. It was someone’s pet.Your sword drops with a clang. “There you a-” The boy walks out from the brush. “Ryke! Are you okay?” He sprints to his pet, kicking up rolling clouds of dirt. His eyes glance between the beast, you, then to Sarasiel. “Are you two okay? Did he hurt you?”“No.” Sarasiel lowers his quarterstaff. “Not at all.”“N-no.” You shake your head fervently. “I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.” _____Victory?>Gil: +250>XP: 25%>Rested XP Bonus: +50% (Lorelai)Lv. 3 Sarasiel: 25%/100%Lv. 1 Lorelai: 100%/100 > Level Up! (Lv.2)>STR: 8>SPD: 6 >VIT: 6 >+1= 7>INT: 6 >+1= 7>SPR: 6 >MAG: 8 >+1 = 9 >LCK: 6_____
>>5328292“I’m sorry.” You apologize again.“You don’t need to be sorry.” The kid shakes his head. “It’s my fault, just as much as it is Ryke’s.” He wipes what seems to be a medicinal salve into the beast’s wounds. “He was supposed to stay inside.” “Ryke’s his name?”“Yeah, it’s cool, isn’t it?”“Yes.” You nod, unsure of what else to say. What could you do? Oh, right, introducing yourself. “My name is Lorelai. Lorelai Lufaine.” “Give me a moment.” The boy says, dropping a satchel to the ground. He wrestles with a roll of gauze and tape. “Ryke, please lay on your back. I need to dress your wounds.” “Ruff!” Ryke barks.“No. Back. Now..” The kid’s stern voice forces you back. It wasn’t directed at you, but you didn’t expect that from someone so young.“Rurrr.” The dog whimpers, doing as commanded. It was hard to believe that this creature was trying to kill you a minute ago. After another application of salve and another bandage, the animal doctor stands up. He brushes the dirt off his pants, grabs the satchel, and holds out a hand. “Where were we? My name is Fredric. Fredric Ornstead.” “It’s nice to meet you.” You take his hand and clasp it. His palms were calloused and his grip tight. “You said you’re Lorelai. And you are?” Fredric looks to your compatriot.“Sarasiel.” He partially bows. “It’s nice to make your acquaintance.” “So, what happened here, exactly?” Fredric says, taking a look at the burnt spot on the ground.“I was practicing Black Magic. Thunder, to be exact.” You look away.“Oh, that explains it.” He sighs. “It does?”“Ryke hates the sound of thunder. Always has, ever since he was a pup.” Fredric bends down and pets Ryke behind the ears. “He just never got over it.” Fredric runs his hands up and down his red coat. Guilt’s grip pulls you into a bow. “I’m sorry.”“It’s fine.” Fredric stands up. “Ryke’s the one who should be apologizing.” “Woof!” The dog sits up and walks over to you. He sits on his hind legs, staring straight up.This was consent, therefore, you could touch the fluffy dog. “It’s okay. No one was hurt.” You bend down on a knee to pet him, but Ryke had other ideas. He licks your face. One lick turns into two, then three. “H-hey!” You fall onto the ground,on your back. “Stop!” You yell in protest, trying to stifle a laugh. “Ryke! Down!” Fredric commands. Ryke relents, moving back to his owner’s side. “He’s well-trained.” Sarasiel says, helping you up from the ground. “Apparently not if he just attacked you guys the way that he did.” Fredric scratches the back of his head. “Oh, actually… I was just gathering some ingredients before Ryke ran off. Have you guys eaten yet? If not, it’s been a while since I’ve had company… and well…” His eyes dart down as you make eye contact. You still had some time left before you had to meet Garland’s lieutenant. And you haven’t eaten anything, breakfast or lunch. >Accept his offer.>Politely refuse.>Write-in
>>5328295>Accept his offer.I'm still suspicious, hope that MP regenerates
>>5328295>Accept his offer.Least we could do after beating up his dog.
>>5328295>Accept his offer.This might be a good opportunity to learn more about the local flora and fauna as well.
>>5328295>>Accept his offer.Really, it's the least we can do after almost killing this poor guy's dog.
>>5328295>Accept his offer.
>>5328295>>Accept his offer.
>>5328295Best to accept the offer. It was an opportunity to make amends and to learn more about where you are. You honestly had nothing to lose. “Sure.” “Oh, great!” Fredric beams, but quickly hides his excitement. “Y-yeah. Come on, follow me.” He runs past you, Ryke easily keeping pace even with his wounds. You start following behind the two, stopping only to steal a glance back at Sarasiel.“I’m sorry.” You whisper.“No need to apologize.” He says, crouching down to the ground. “I’d honestly prefer to hunt, but lunch with new friends doesn’t sound so bad either.” “Sarasiel?” Why was he doing that? “Here.” He hands you your sword, holding it by the blade. “Don’t forget this.”“Oh.” You did drop that, didn’t you? “Thanks.” You nod, taking it by the hilt. Tiny knicks dent the fuller where Ryke had bitten into the steel. You can only imagine what would’ve happened if he sank those jaws into your leg. It wasn’t something you wanted to imagine. “You guys coming or what!?” Fredric yells out from the other side of the forest trail. “Yeah! We’re coming!” You yell, running past Sarasiel. He didn’t run. No, he just walks at his own pace. Not a single care in the world. That was a quality worth admiring. Even when faced with a feral beast, he never lost his cool. The same could be said of Bucklin. In that, the two were very similar. Things like goblins, chocobos, and beasts were enough to startle you. After only two real fights, you still felt inadequate. The years of experience marked the gap between you, Bucklin, and Sarasiel. You didn’t need to speak to the two of them to know their history of battle. All you had to do was watch them at work. Sarasiel’s precise strikes and purposeful movements. Bucklin’s bravery and his application of the arcane.You were truly grateful for their help. If it wasn’t for Bucklin, you wouldn’t be able to even experience this world. The only thing on your mind was how to pay it back. It’s true that Bucklin didn’t want anything, but some part of you felt indebted to him.
>>5329545You’re dragging him along into the Elysian Circle. It was less perilous than heading straight into the Boreal Lands, true, but it was still dangerous all the same. It didn’t matter what happened to you. You were asking for this, you now knew what it entailed, and you’re still going through with it. Something told you it was important. It had to have the answers you sought. If not, well… it was something you didn’t want to think about. You had the ‘why’ you were going, and the ‘where’, but not the ‘how’.You stop walking as Sarasiel passes you by. Fredric and Ryke were further ahead. Leaves move in the midday breeze. They fall, dancing in the air before coming to rest on the forest trail. One lands in your open hand. You peer up at the sky through the swaying branches above. Clouds mask the sun, casting you into a gentle darkness. It hit you all at once.A deep melancholy. You don’t know why or how, but a deep sense of longing stops you in your tracks. Was it walking through the woods? Was it reading at the library, training with Sarasiel, or was it meeting Fredric? Traveling with Bucklin? What was it? You wrack your brain, looking for an answer, but none are to be found.“The mind is a funny thing.” You say, slowly crumpling the leaf in your hand. “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone… but even if you don’t know what’s been lost, the body still remembers.” You scoff to yourself. It had to be someone’s idea of a sick joke. You shake your head, cast off the meddlesome sentimentality, and press forward. You’re still hungry, after all. _________
>>5329548Location: Ornstead Household - Luria Wood, Near NestadRushing water runs under you as you cross an old, rickety bridge. It swings too and fro, struggling under its own weight. You look down, worried it may break, but it holds up. Off in the distance sits a modest shack, covered in vines and branches. A tall fence encloses the ‘house’ and the small garden that sits beside it. Soil spreads apart, making way for multicolored fruits and vegetables you’ve never seen before.A dirt trail weaves through the tall grass, careening behind a makeshift barn. “Kweh!” A chirp sounds before a Chocobo peers its head out. It tries to snack on your hair. Again. Why? Does it look like food to them?“No! Bad!” Fredric reprimands the bird. Admonished, it coos, lowering its head. “Sorry.” He sighs. “Boco likes playing with guests. Isn’t that right, boy?”“Kweh!” He chirps again, smiling as best as he can with a big beak. “Gimme a sec.” Fredric opens up the barn door and ventures inside. Fredric works the farm and takes care of the animals. It’s definitely honest work, but something about those plants is bothering you. You’re not familiar with the flora or fauna of this world, that much you can say for sure. Though, something tells you those prismatic crops aren’t traditional for consumption. “Thanks for waiting.” Fredric says, shutting the barn door. “Shall we?” “Hey, Fredric. What are those crops used for?” You point as you pass by. “Oh, just your alchemical ingredients. Evilpine, Lover’s Laurel, Ragora’s Breath, Blood Currants…” The more he named them off, the less the names meant to you. Making any sort of comparisons to fauna that you knew would be fruitless. “I see.” You nod, feigning understanding. If need be, you could ask more about it later.
>>5329550“Fredric.” Sarasiel says, pointing to the door. The boy doesn’t respond as he continues to mutter about alchemical ingredients. “Then there’s this--” He stops short, turning toward Sarasiel. “Oh! Right, sorry.” Fredric opens the door. A strong, pungent scent flows out from inside the house. A strangely nostalgic odor. It reminds you of the days of bunsen burners and flammable material. You’re fairly sure that wasn’t your particular field, but, then again, you weren’t even sure what your field was. Nostalgic all the same. You step inside. Papers spread out onto the floor. A wooden table covered with books and diagrams. A bulletin board hoisting up notes about a large, red creature. Two long arms extend out from its body with a tiny head protruding from the top. It was a curious drawing, to the say the least.It seems the study doubles as the kitchen. There’s a makeshift stove to the left with some cabinets above it. A ladder on the far right goes up to the second floor with a single bed.“Make yourselves at home.” Fredric says, pushing the papers off the table. “Thanks.” You nod, taking a seat on a stool nearby. Sarasiel continues standing near the entrance. You weren’t sure if he was keeping an eye out or if he just didn’t want to sit down. Fredric binds all of the loose notes into a single binder before setting it under the table. There were honestly a few things you wanted to talk about. But, among the most important was…>Ask about his circumstances.>Ask about the diagram on the wall.>Ask about what's going on in Nestad.>Ask about the Elysian Circle.>Write-in
>>5329552>Write-inAsk about the creature on the bulletin board.
>>5329552>Ask about the Elysian Circle.
>>5329552>>Ask about the diagram on the wall.
>>5329552>>Ask about the Elysian Circle.
>>5329552>Ask why he keeps all the pets. Farming for ingredients sure, but a wolf AND a chocobo?
>>5329552>ask about the elysian circle
>>5329552… the Elysian Circle. You read about it back in the library, but there was nothing wrong with getting more context. Speaking to Sarasiel offered you some useful tidbits. Perhaps talking to Fredric would net similar results? “Hey, Fredric.”“Yes?” He turns, walking toward the stove.“Do you know anything about the Elysian Circle?”“Hmmm…” Fredric ponders as you hear the clanging of pots and pans. “Yes, actually. I did some reading as part of my alchemical research. Most of what I’ve found was in old journals though.”“The old journals in the back?”“Yes, actually.” He rummages through the cupboards above. He sets out some eggs and some cut cheese. “I was trying to find out more on the material called elysium. It’s native to the region, but, seeing as I can’t go there, I was thinking I could try making it myself.”Given the nature of the material, and the amount of money Doman nobles were willing to spend… was it really that easy? It had to be worth a lot of money. If it was easy enough for a young alchemist like Fredric to make, then surely someone else would have done it by now. It was best not to raise a fuss about it, regardless. You simply smile and nod, “Did you find anything?”“Nothing of note.” He sighs, disappointed. “I wanted to know how the material was made. All I got were journals about failed excursions and empty promises.” His shoulders slacken as he lights the stove. He oils the pan up and drops the egg yolks inside. “Anyway, how do you guys feel about Chocobo eggs?”“I haven’t had them before.” You lean forward, resting your head on the small table. “Sounds good.” Sarasiel says, leaning against the wall near the front door.“I should’ve asked you guys sooner.” He laughs nervously, eying the sizzling yolk. “It’s been a while since I’ve had guests, so, ya know… things just slip your mind.”“I know how you feel.” You empathize with the boy's plight, given the events of the past two days. “So, why do you want to know about the Elysian Circle? Is it just research?” Fredric turns toward you, his back to the stove. “I plan on heading there.” You look behind him to make sure that the pan is steady. It would be nice if the house didn’t end up getting burned down. “What?” He quirks a brow. “Why, exactly?”“There’s something I need to find.” You give the simple answer. No use dragging a boy like Fredric into this.“And you’ll find whatever this is that far north? This isn’t for elysium, right?”It was honestly difficult to talk about this and not seem like a crazy person. Sarasiel overheard your conversation with Garland. He had an understanding of your motives. Fredric, however, was someone you just met. It was best to keep it simple. “Not particularly. It’s just something I need to do.”
>>5331930“Alright. You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.” He frowns. You didn’t want to just shut him down like that. In your experience, boys that age are curious creatures. What else can you ask about? Your eyes drift over to the sketch on the bulletin board. “Fredric, what’s drawn there?” “I was curious about that myself.” Sarasiel says, stroking his chin. “Oh, that?” Fredric glances over his shoulder. “That's the Desert Rose.” “Desert Rose?” You tilt your head.“You might know it by a different name. I’d get the book, but my hands are tied.” He scoffs, flipping the eggs over. “Clan Centurio calls it the Ruby Weapon, or the Crimson Colossus.” That name certainly fills you with a sense of dread. You take a better look at the sketch. The measurements are smudged, and written in numbers that you can’t comprehend. You sit up, getting closer to the drawing. There’s something at the base near its foot. What was that?Oh.That was a person for scale. This thing was comparable to a skyscraper in size, if not bigger. Why was this here, in Fredric’s house? Two, large hands that could topple a mountain. Tentacles that stand half as tall as the monstrosity itself. They writhe and ungulate unnaturally. You can practically feel them creep up your back. Fighting this thing would be a hopeless endeavor. You’d be squashed like a bug.“W-why is this here?” You stammer. “Dad’s doing a commission for Clan Centurio.” Fredric flips an egg onto a plate and hands it to you. “He said he was scouting its location, last I heard… but he hasn’t sent anything for a month.” He forces a smile. “He’ll be home soon, though. I know it.”Fredric’s father does monster research? Well, considering the sort of profession that would be, especially with stuff like this ‘Ruby Weapon’... this was a death sentence. “This sort of work has to pay well, right?”“Nope. It’s hardly enough to keep this shack in the shape it’s in.” He hands Sarasiel a plate and fork. “Wait, what?” That was shocking. Does that mean that there are multiple people willing to throw themselves into danger for a quick buck? You didn’t learn anything about the Elysian Circle, but you’re learning plenty about the job market. “Then, where does the extra money come from?” “The commission work doesn’t pay too much, but my dad’s books sell a lot.” “Books?” That caught you off guard. Research papers, sure, but an entire book?“He writes a bestiary that gets sent to the different Clan Centurio branches across the entire continent!” He puffs his chest out with pride. “Oh, actually, I can probably get you a signed copy, if you want!”That would actually be really helpful. Though, as helpful as that would be, you didn’t want to take advantage of his kindness. “No thanks. I do appreciate the sentiment, though.”
>>5331937“A-are you sure?” He scratches the back of his head. “I mean, we have other copies.”You couldn’t win with him, could you? “Fine, but I don’t need an autograph. Just the bestiary is fine.”“Excellent!” He douses the flame of the stove and quickly climbs the ladder.You pull your attention from Fredric to the large egg in front of you. It was time to eat.__________Silverware clinks as it touches porcelain. It was the first proper meal that you’ve had in over two days. Actually, it might be longer than that, considering your petrification. “Thanks for the meal, Fredric.” You sit up, holding the hard cover bestiary close to your chest. “Are you guys leaving already? I was going to show you around.” He says, placing the dishes into the sink.>You should get going. You have time, but it’s better to be early than to be late.>A few more minutes couldn’t hurt. Let Fredric show you around.>Write-in
>>5331940>A few more minutes couldn’t hurt. Let Fredric show you around.Active Time Event activate
>>5331940>>A few more minutes couldn’t hurt. Let Fredric show you around.
>>5331940>A few more minutes couldn’t hurt. Let Fredric show you around.
>>5331940A few more minutes couldn’t hurt. You were never given a time frame on the lieutenant’s arrival, anyway. Even at a hastened pace, it would take well over a day to get to Nestad from Trausburg. The ride was, by your estimate, probably nine hours, ten? The carriage went fast, faster than any horse you’ve ever seen. The coachmen could have been an outlier, but even considering that, it wasn’t going to be a two or three hour trip. “Fine.” You admit defeat, pressing the door open. “What did you want to show me?”“The greenhouse outback!” Fredric quickly drops the dishes and takes your hand. “And there’s a water hole that Ryke and I usually play in!” He says as Ryke picks himself up and follows you out the door.Fredric points to various things that you never noticed walking in. A wooden post recording his height through the years. Handprints carved in stone on the side of the house. A mural depicting him, his dad, and Ryke on the back of Boco’s barn. His fervor was contagious. Your smile broadens with each memory he recollects. It was nostalgic. You weren’t sure why. Did you have a younger sibling? If you did, it was regretful that you had forgotten them. He keeps tugging at your wrist, ferrying you around the estate. Sarasiel follows at a moderate pace, his arms crossed, a wry grin pulling at his cheeks. He was enjoying this almost as much as you were. You stop at the base of the water hole. Fredric sits down, head back, soaking in the sun peeking in through the canopy above. You join him, collapsing onto the ground, arms and legs splayed out.“Thanks for coming.” “No problem.” You answer. “I’m still sorry about what happened.”“Stop apologizing.” He reprimands. “No one was hurt. You said that yourself, right?”“Yeah.” It was hard to just let something like that go. You hurt someone without meaning to. You operated on incomplete information, but if you didn’t defend yourself, things would’ve ended up a lot worse than they did. Honestly, hindsight was as much of a curse as it was a fortune. There was no way of knowing how things could’ve turned out differently.
You roll over on your side. Fredric sits with his head tilted down, staring into his own reflection. His sharpened ears drooped down ever so slightly. A few things came to mind on how to approach this. It wasn’t your business to pry, but at the same time, you couldn’t leave him alone. If he wanted to tell you what was wrong, then the only thing you had to do was ask. “Are you okay?” His back straightens. He opens his mouth to speak, but he stops. “I’d like to say yes.” “What’s bothering you?” You sit up, inching closer to Fredric. “I mean, well…” He fumbles his words. “I dunno.” He looks back. “Are you okay?”“Honestly? No, far from it.” You fall back into the grass. “But, apparently, I don’t have the luxury of complaining.” Sarasiel chuckles.“You don’t?” Fredric says as Ryke sits down beside him. “Why?”“Because I feel like if I start, I’ll never stop.” You close your eyes. “It’s a slippery slope I don’t intend on falling down.”“Really?” Fredric pets Ryke, ruffling the fur under his scaled scalp. “I mean, I think it’s okay to complain a little bit… well, it might be better to call it venting.” He leans over his dog, using him as a pillow. “It doesn’t have to be to anyone. When I’m feeling angry, I come out here and just yell. It’s far enough from the cabin that no one can really hear me.”“You just come out here and scream?” You laugh.“You should try it.”“I don’t think…” You turn away.“Come on, I’ll do it with you!” He stands up, extending a hand. “It’s a lot of fun.”>Let it out.>This isn’t really the time for this…>Write-in
>>5333706>>5333705Forgot to put my name back on. Whoops.
>>5333706>>Let it out.Why contain it?
>>5333706>Let it out.
>>5333706>>Let it out.
>>5333706“It’s fun?” You stand up, shaking your head. “Alright, fine. I’ll give it a go.” What were you going to scream about? Was there anything that you actually felt strongly about? Angry? Nothing comes to mind. A vast emptiness across the mindscape. You raise your hands over your mouth, and yell.It’s small, almost a yelp. Ryke joins in, letting out a bark. “Are you even trying?” Fredric laughs, standing up. He cups his hands, and yells. It’s straight from the diaphragm. It echoes across the clearing, bouncing off the distant hillside. Tree branches shake as birds fly away in a start. “It’s like that.”“You’re way too good at that.” You feel humbled. “I’ve had a lot of practice.”You wanted to ask what he was trying to convey. It could be any number of things from what little you knew of him. Living alone in the woods, taking care of himself, or his missing father. Things that a kid his age shouldn’t have to deal with. It hurt, but it was the way of the world, even here. You didn’t know where you were, but it was still the same. Unfair. Unjust. Mercilessly cruel. That was something to scream about, certainly.You try again. No. Less a yelp, more a squeak. What was holding you back? Were you just not cut out for this? You look down at Fredric, who’s eying you expectantly. Sarasiel stands against a tree, his eyes closed, his ears bobbing in the gentle breeze. How far did you have to dig? Lament your powerlessness. Your lack of knowledge.Your current position.Anything?You channel it, that swelling wrath. …Nothing.
>>5334069Why? You look to the sky, trying to find answers amongst the drifting clouds. Were you forcing it? What were you doing wrong?“Hey, Lorelai.” “Huh?” You snap to attention. “What’s wrong?”“I don’t know. I just can’t do it.”“What are you thinking about?”“My situation?” You were drawing a blank. “What do you think about, Fredric?”“What do I think about?” He parses the question, forcing a cheeky grin. “I think about what I’ve lost.”“What you lost?” That felt like a deep cut. It almost felt like you were prying. “Yeah. I think about Mom, and all the walks we used to take. I think about Grandpa, and the stories he used to tell me.” He bends down, shuffling some rocks into the waterhole. “And all the stuff I never get to do with Dad.” He hugs his knees. “I know his job is hard, and I know he enjoys doing it… but I know one day, he’s not going to come home.” You stand there, quiet.“It’s okay to let it out, Lorelai.” He beamsThe world distorts. An open casket sits before you. A hand on the lip. No tears are shed. You couldn’t cry. You weren’t allowed. You had to be strong, if not for others, then for yourself. “It’s okay to cry, Sis. I’m here for you. I’m here.” A man you forgot speaks. A face distorted by fragmented memory. “He never cried, so I won’t either.”“It’s okay.” He lightly pats you on the back. “You don’t have to be strong. Not here, not now. It’s okay to not be okay.”His face comes into view. Disheveled, orange hair with tilted glasses. Red eyes soaked with tears. He tightly embraces you.Once the memory ends, the pain begins. You scream as loud as you can, as loud as you are able. You collapse onto your knees, hitting the rockbed.
>>5334071How could you forget? How? You hit the ground with a clenched fist.“Lorelai.” Fredric grasps your hand. Ryke barks, moving between you and his master. “Hey, Lorelai!” “Dammit!” His bright smile. “DAMMIT ALL!” His laugh, his warmth. It was all gone. “WHY DID I FORGET!?” Tears freeze as they stream down your face. Lightning sparks from your fingertips. The rocks at your feet began to move, hovering slightly in the air. “Fredric, move!” Sarasiel moves forward, pulling you to your feet.You want to hit the ground, you want to keep screaming. Sarasiel holds your shoulders steady. His hands began to frost over. “Lorelai.” It moves from his wrist toward his elbow. “Look at me!”“Sarasiel?” You look at his freezing body. “Sarasiel! Your arms!” “It’s fine.” His grip tightens. “Breathe.”“Ah. Um.”“Breathe.”You breathe in and out. Sarasiel sets you down into a sitting position. He doesn’t ask you what happened, or why you went out of control. He sits, and waits for you to speak. >Explain what you went through. It was best to be open about it.>Apologize and discuss it later. You still had an appointment to keep.>Write-in
>>5334079>>Explain what you went through. It was best to be open about it.
>>5334079>Thank Fredric. That worked better than expected. We'll explain once we process what just happened.
>>5334079>Explain what you went through. It was best to be open about it.
>>5334079>>Apologize and discuss it later. You still had an appointment to keep.
>>5334079It was best to be open. Hiding things right now after that outsburt wasn’t advisable. It would only invite suspicion from the others. “I remembered something important.” You clench your palms. “Something that I thought I would never forget.”You speak about the man who was your brother. The sorrow that fueled your pained cry. Recounting it was enough to stir your heart. Sarasiel and Fredric listen intently. Thankfully, it doesn’t take long to explain. You reveal the fact you have amnesia, as remiss you are to say. The weight of that never really hit you until now. Not that you weren’t dealing with your own feelings, but now there’s the burden of remembrance. The aching pains of the heart that lay dormant until that moment. What else were you forgetting? The dream from before you woke. The devouring light that brought nothing but ruin. It had meaning. It wasn’t something you could simply write off as a nightmare, as much as you wish you could. “Thank you, Fredric.” You finish your explanation. “If you hadn’t suggested what you did, I don’t think I would’ve remembered.”Fredric considers your words, frowning. “I didn’t mean to hurt you. That’s not what I wanted.”You shake your head, “No.” You wipe your eyes, tears still cascading down your cheeks. You sniffle, pushing your cheeks apart for a smile. “I’m glad. It …” You pause.“Lorelai?” Fredric looks up.“It might’ve been easier to live in ignorance, but always wondering what it is you forgot is its own pain.” Your words of resolve dry what tears you had left to shed. Afterwards, you stand up from the ground, brushing yourself off.It was hard to tell how much time had passed after Fedric’s tour. Best to play it safe and start heading back. “We should get going.”“Yeah,” Fredric nods. “I think I’ve kept you long enough. But, you’ll come back to visit, right?”“Of course.” You hold a hand out to the boy. “I’ll definitely be back.” “Really?!” He runs past your outstretched hand, quickly going in for a hug. “Thanks, Lorelai!”You stand there, arms out, with a boy clung to your waist. This wasn’t what you were expecting. You peer over at Sarasiel who simply shrugs his shoulders. With no other options left, you return the embrace. “Grrrr.” Ryke growls.Sarasiel’s ears twitch. “We’re not alone.” He pulls himself off of the tree, gripping the quarterstaff in hand. You unsheathe your sword, positioning Fredric directly behind you. “What is it?”“Two legs, short, stalky.” Sarasiel says, his eyes scanning the environment. “No one else lives around here.” Fredric bends down to place a hand on Ryke.Leaves rustle. Twigs break. “Ooohhhh...” Agonized moans sound from beyond the trees.
>>5336770Sarasiel nods to you, and you move. “Stay with Ryke, Fredric!” You hold your blade ready in two hands. The cries didn’t sound like they were too far from the waterhole. You slash and cut your way through the thicket of trees. Sarasiel paved the way forward, crushing small trunks and parting thin greenery. After a bit more deforestation, the mystery reveals itself.A steepled hat partially submerged in thorns and shrubbery. “Ohhh…” The hat moans. Was the hat talking? “Hello?” You approach. No, this definitely wasn’t just a hat. Common sense was enough to tell you that much. You grab the hat, pull up, and…A void. A dark void with two, thin yellow lines. No, they were better described as balls of light. They blinked. A hand grabs your arm. “Ah!” You struggle to keep steady. “Hey!” Sarasiel grabs your waist. “Be careful.”“H-help… m-me…” The talking void’s grip slackens. Its gloved hand falling into the bushes at your feet. “We have to help him.” You lean down and grab the injured person’s hand. “Get the other. I hope we have enough leverage…’You do. It’s easy enough to get the creature out. You don’t inflict any new injuries onto it, at any rate. Sarasiel carries the fellow on his back down to the waterhole. You return down the way you came. After shuffling a few things around, the talking hat now sits on a makeshift bed with Ryke as the pillow. Fredric removes its bloody robe, applying medicine to the scraped portions of its miasmatic flesh. He was unsure if it would actually work, but he wanted to try to help anyway. “Hey, Lorelai. Can you get the legs?” Fredric hands you a roll of white gauze.You nod, doing as requested. Though, just touching its flesh, it was strangely ‘solid’, but not. It felt almost sticky, more viscous in nature.As you dress the wounds, you notice something. They’re deep. It’s not the sort of chunked flesh you’d expect from a powerful bite. It isn’t a gash either, like you would see with claws. It’s a singular cut. The same sort of injuries run up and down the waist and leg. “Hmmm…” Fredric stands up.“Are you thinking the same thing I am?” “About the injuries? Yes. They weren’t done by any monster that I know of around here.”“Goblins.” Sarasiel says, peering over toward the hill. “They’re quite adept with short swords.”You knew Sarasiel was right just from experience. But, even still, these were deep cuts. Bucklin was injured, but the cut itself didn’t seem that deep. Then again, you were too busy fighting for your life to pay too much attention. One thing was for certain, though. It wasn’t safe here. But, it also wasn’t safe to move the patient with the injuries it hwas. What were you going to do? >It was better to escort Fredric and the patient to Nestad for better care. Tell Garland about what happened, maybe he can do something.>You can’t risk moving the patient too far. It’d be best to move him into Fredric’s house and do some recon with Sarasiel. >Write-in
>>5336777>>It was better to escort Fredric and the patient to Nestad for better care. Tell Garland about what happened, maybe he can do something.
>>5336777>You can’t risk moving the patient too far. It’d be best to move him into Fredric’s house and do some recon with Sarasiel.No matter the setting, goblin scum have to be culled.
>>5336777>>You can’t risk moving the patient too far. It’d be best to move him into Fredric’s house and do some recon with Sarasiel.
>>5336777>>It was better to escort Fredric and the patient to Nestad for better care. Tell Garland about what happened, maybe he can do something.Deep wounds require more specialized care
>>5336777>It was better to escort Fredric and the patient to Nestad for better care. Tell Garland about what happened, maybe he can do something.
So, just putting a notice out here. I've been writing the post for two days straight now. It's a big one. The quest is not dead. Just letting everyone know!
>>5340498Good to know, boss. A status update is not a quest update but definitely beats radio silence.
>>5340498Thanks for status check
>>5336777The first-aid provided by Fredric wasn’t enough. It was a stop gap, not a replacement for proper care, as far as you were concerned. “We need to get treatment in Nestad.” “What?” Fredric blinks in surprise. “Moving it isn’t going to--”“Agh… I’m not an ‘it.’” The patient shakes from the pain.“C’mon, I barely look older than you.” A shrill, boyish voice strains as he struggles to sit up. “Don’t move.” Fredric gently presses him down. “You need to be careful.” “I-I can move. It’s-- agh!” He yelps. If that much motion caused pain, then getting him to Nestad was going to be difficult. Could Sarasiel carry him the entire way? No, that didn’t seem feasible. You didn’t know the extent of his injuries. All you knew is that he had cuts. Was there anything broken or fractured? You didn’t want to make the situation worse than it already was. “What’s your name?” “My name…?” He mumbles.“Yes, your name.” “I don’t know.”“You don’t know your name?” Wait, did he hit his head? Does he have a concussion? “Fredric, did you see any head injuries?” You look up.“No.” Fredric shakes his head. “I didn’t.”“I don’t think I have a name.” The patient frowns. “Ah, whatever. Just let me sit up.”You hold a hand to his stomach. You don’t press. If you do, that might cause even more harm. “Were you attacked?” You continue asking questions. “Y-yeah.” He nods.“Was it an animal?”“I don’t know.” “Where were you attacked?”“It was dark” So it was inside somewhere, considering the midday sun hanging high in the air. “I could still see, but it was still really dark.” “Was it a cave?”“A cave?” He mumbles. “I don’t know.”“Lorelai, stay with him.” Fredric sits up. “I’m going to go get my blankets.”“Good idea.” He was thinking the same thing you were. A stretcher. “H-hey.” The child at your knees shifts and turns. “What’s going on? What are you going to do?”“We’re getting you help.” You gently caress his face. “You’ll be okay. We’ll get you some help.”“It hurts.” “I know.”“It hurts a lot.”“Where does it hurt?”“Everywhere.”“Where does it hurt the most?”“My arm.” He slowly turns his head. “Can you move it?”He moves his right arm barely an inch. “Aaahh!” He screams. “Can you bend it?”He attempts, but his body shakes. The boy cringes, eyes clenched shut. “It might be broken.” You frown.“Let’s see.” Sarasiel says, bending down to the immobile shadow. “Does this hurt?” He taps the nameless patient’s arm. “No.” Another press. “No.” A third. “Aaaah! That hurts! That definitely hurts!”Sarasiel nods to himself. He steps away, a gauntlet of stone forming over his hand. Wood splinters out as the rock impacts the tree’s bark. Shortly after, he returns with two pieces of wood. Left over bandages hold the wood splint in place over the perceived break.
>>5340729A mound of blankets shuffles down the hillside. Fredric steps slowly and steady, making sure not to trip over himself. It was more than what you needed, but it could definitely work. “Alright, Sarasiel. For a stretcher, we’re going to need--”Snap.Sarsiel holds out two halves of his quarterstaff. “What else do we need?” “Nothing.” You smile. “Leave the rest to us.” You set the sheets down and go to work. You recall the procedure from memory. How to set the supports, how to tie the knots, everything. Fredric guided you through what your knowledge failed you on. “How’s that?” You and Fredric finish setting the patient into the stretcher. “It’s… not bad.” He nods. “I can deal with it.” “Alright, Sarasiel. Are you ready?” You grip the bottom half of the stretcher. Sarasiel sits at the top. “One, two, three…!” On the three count, the stretcher sits up. Fredric walks past you while Ryke follows from behind. He guides you through the twists and turns of the Luria Wood. It was going to be quite the trip back to Nestad, but you could manage. Hopefully.
>>5340733__________Interlude: Old Friends, New RivalsBucklin sits alone on the first floor of the city watch’s tower. It brought back pleasant memories of just the night before. The questioning from Jack Garland himself. It wasn’t much of an interrogation. It felt more like a game of chicken. Whoever lost their cool first lost. There wasn’t any real victor in that regard either. It felt as though the conclusion was foregone. Whatever ended up happening, he was going to end up in a holding cell. Bucklin clicks his tongue, pulling his head back to stare at the unlit lantern above. Dust particles drift through the air, refracting light from the half-open window pane. He was just sitting here, waiting. He taps his finger on the old table, causing it to creak. If he was alone, he could’ve busted out long before even being thrown into the brig. If he was alone, he could just run. They could take his staff, his clothes, leave him naked, but they could never take his wit. It’s all he had since he’s been alone. But, now he wasn’t. There was another person to consider. Normally, this was a burden. He couldn’t do whatever he wanted. But, strangely, that’s not how it felt. He liked helping Lorelai. She was such a strange person. Her first thought upon waking up from her stony prison was to ask questions. She didn’t have time to worry, so she acted. That drive brought the two of them to Nestad. Hardly a complaint on the journey.Lorelai was alone. She didn’t know anything about this world, about its people, as far as he knew. But, he knew she would be okay. Call it a sixth sense, a hunch, but if that girl was anything, she was determined. Why? That’s the question that springs to mind. Why was she like this? Of course, she seems to lack some memories, but not all. Is that informing her decisions? Is it in her nature? Bucklin sits back in the chair, his shoulders slack. Being alone with your own anxiety was bothersome. Any longer and he might be consumed by doubt. He grasps at the shard of purple quartz on his necklace. “The more things change, the more they stay the same, huh?” The distinct shuffling of plate mail sounds from beyond the door. “Here you are, Lieutenant.” A guard talks, jostling with the locked door.A flood of light enters the room. Bucklin shields his eyes. “Thank you.” A blonde man enters the room, offering a salute to the guard at the door. “I’ll be fine on my own.” The door closes behind him. “Bucklin.” The knight walks over, taking the seat across from Bucklin. “I’d like to say it’s nice to see you again, but… it isn’t. Not so soon, at the very least.”“On that, we’re in agreement, Stratos.” Bucklin sighs. He already wasn’t in the mood for this. Not with his own dour thoughts parading around in his mind. “Was there something you wanted to discuss? I doubt we’re overdue on pleasantries, given our last encounter.”
>>5340734“Last encounter?” Stratos frowns. “You left in the middle of it. Hardly even a good-bye. What was I supposed to think, especially since you were in Ceci’s room?”“It was a meeting of the minds, of course. Not that you’d understand that.”“You came in through the window.”“As if I’m the type to use the front door.” Bucklin perks up.“And therein lies the problem.” Stratos pinches the bridge of his nose. “I get the distinct feeling that you’re avoiding me.” “Not at all, my good chum.” Bucklin grins. “It’s just that I need a little breathing room every now and then.”“So is that why you came to Nestad instead of Trausburg?”“Well, Stratos, time is of the essence, you see. If I went to Trausburg, I’d be detained. Much like I am right now.” Bucklin rests a hand on his brow. “Althena, our beloved goddess truly is cruel. We truly are strangled by the red string, my dear Stratos.” Stratos groans at the theatrics. “I’d be careful to make sure you don’t lose your neck to it.” He gathers his composure. “Regardless, I could’ve helped you, Bucklin.” “Being detained isn’t helpful, Stratos. It’s quite the opposite.” Bucklin shakes his head. “It does give a roof over my head, though. That much I could appreciate.” “If you can’t trust me, at least trust Ceci.”“I’m not in the habit of being indebted to the nobility, you see.” Bucklin frowns. “I can handle things like this on my own.”“Asking for help isn’t something to be ashamed of, Bucklin.” Bucklin bit his lip. They made it to Nestad just fine. As far as he knew, there was no need for House Delmasca’s help, let alone Stratos’. And even then, he had the gall to invoke Ceci’s name. She had nothing to do with this. The blind knight was only interested in playing the hero. Nothing else. “I don’t think you get it, Stratos.”“I’m sorry.”“You’re sorry?” Bucklin stands up. “Sorry for what?”“For any misunderstandings.” Stratos remains seated. “Despite how things are between us, Bucklin, I don’t want to be your enemy.”“You’re making a poor case for yourself, my friend.” “Then what would you have me do?” Stratos narrows his eyes. “Overlook your transgressions? Act like nothing happened? That’s not something I can do, Bucklin. The least I can do is be civil.”“Ah, there it is!” Bucklin claps. “It comes out. It was just hidden there beneath the surface!” “Is that it? Is that your goal? To provoke me?” Stratos grimaces. “No, that’s not worthy of any sort of long term goal. Unlike Garland, you’re not much of a challenge.” “You say I don’t understand,” Stratos says, meeting Bucklin’s gaze. “But I do know one thing.”“What’s that?”“You care nothing for your charge, only about yourself.” “What?”“Why come to Nestad? If you truly cared for her safety, I was right there, ready and willing to help.”
>>5340736“That’s your problem with it? The fact that I didn’t come to you for help?” Bucklin’s brow twitches.“You know very well what I meant, Durancap. Why expose her to that danger?”Bucklin stops. This wasn’t about him. If it was, he could deny Stratos all he wanted. Though, that doesn’t mean he would let Stratos get the last word in. He clenches his palms. “Because she could handle it.”“How do you know that?”“Because I’ve seen her fight. A carriage ride to Nestad is nothing she can’t handle.” Bucklin points at Stratos. “The first thing she did when she woke up was fight for her life. She could’ve left me there to fend by myself, but she didn’t. It wasn’t my choice to come to Nestad, it was hers. I would’ve gone along with whatever she suggested, even at the expense of myself.” Stratos pulls back, mouth slightly ajar.“And don’t you even dare suggest I don’t care about her.” Bucklin smacks the table with an open hand. “She’s my responsibility, Stratos. No one else’s.”“You’ve known this girl for a day. To speak as her friend is one thing, but as if you were her guardian? It’s folly. You know that just as well as I do.” Bucklin stares back at the rookie knight. Why was he so mad? Lorelai could handle herself, yes, but it was still just a single day as Stratos said. Two now, if one wanted to be technical. He can’t even recall the last time he’s been this off kilter. He shakes the thoughts away, sitting back into his seat. “I’m not the one treating her like a child, Stratos. She’s an adult who can make her own choices.” “She’s ignorant of the world, as far as I can tell. What can you provide that Highwind cannot?” Bucklin twitches, forcing a wide smile. “I don’t know. Why don’t you ask your sister?”Bucklin’s head goes straight through the table. It creaks then shatters. “You’re going back to your--” Stars manifest in Bucklin’s palm. He thrusts upward, his hand connecting straight into Stratos’ jaw. The knight is thrown through the air, hitting the wall with a clang. “All that money for proper training and yet you still go for the furniture? Some proper knight you turned out to be.” He grins, blood dripping down his forehead. Stratos stands up, wiping the blood from his chin.“You cur!” He starts to walk forward before the door flies open.Bucklin eyes Garland who's standing in the doorway. He smiles, barely hiding his glee. “I hope you don’t mind. I was just giving your subordinate here supplementary lessons.” “Supplementary lessons?” A girl walks out from behind Garland. “Bucklin, really?”“O-oh.” Bucklin’s impish grin instantly fades. “Hi Ceci.” Interlude End
>>5340739_____The walk through the woods was daunting. It wasn’t just holding the stretcher, it was making sure you didn’t trip while keeping pace with Sarasiel. His physique and stature made it a little difficult to keep up. But, this was the choice you made. You couldn’t back down. You couldn’t complain.You made it back to the clearing where you fought with Ryke. It was just a little further.Soreness runs through your legs. Your arms. Your grip loosens. You clench the pole in your hands. Keep going. Don’t give up. The top of Nestad’s outer walls peak out over the hill as you walk. The pain digs deeper. You cringe, but you look down at the boy in your care. He lay there, his ‘eyes’ closed, silently stewing in his own anguish. You had no right to complain. A little further. You steady your shaking hands. It was the final stretch. You couldn’t fail now. You weren’t allowed to. You fought goblins, a vicious wolf, journeyed to a new city in a new world. You ran around all day without feeling tired or fatigued. Walking a stretcher through the woods? It was just a few miles. It was nothing you couldn’t handle. But, it was different. It didn’t seem right to you. Were you this strong before now? It didn’t matter, either way. You couldn’t complain.Your knee hits the ground. Oh no. You close your eyes, waiting for the worst. However, you feel fur on your arm. Ryke pushes up with his armored scalp, keeping the stretcher level. “Thank you, Ryke.” You sigh in relief.He barks.“Fredric.” Sarasiel points to you.“Here, Lorelai.” Fredric walks over as instructed. He takes one pole in one hand and Ryke takes the other in his mouth. “We got it.”You try to protest. You grab the poles again, but Fredric and Ryke easily overpower you.“We can do it.” Fredric stares back in defiance. “Trust us.” You relent. You weren’t going to beat Fredric on this matter. Fredric, Ryke and Sarasiel continue carrying the stretcher down the hill. You follow behind at a slow pace, making sure not to push yourself more than you already had. The checkpoint still stood. Caravans sat lined up outside of the main gate. The line extends far off to the next hill over the horizon. Guards stand to the side, waving the coaches in one at a time.Bored merchants look over to the stretcher. They point and talk amongst themselves. Their curious chatter grew louder and louder as you moved closer to the barracks. You pick up the pace, moving to block the prying eyes of the public. This wasn’t any of their business. “Hey.” You pipe up, hoping to speak over the prattle of the crowd and chirping chocobos. No one hears you. You lightly jog toward the guard tower. “Excuse me!” You raise your arms, attempting to flag down a guard as you get within, hopefully, earshot. “We have someone in need of medical attention!”The guard stands at attention. He quickly guides you and the others into the back of the tower. Thankfully, you didn’t have to wait to get help. _____
>>5340747Location: Nestad, City Watch TowerIt happened faster than you could have imagined. The guards spoke of a ‘chirurgeon’ being present. A knight that happened to be within Garland’s employ. She had apparently come with the lieutenant that spoke with Bucklin. You didn’t have any time to say anything to anyone, or get a word in otherwise. The patient was taken in the room that you stayed in the night before. The chirurgeon was given time to work. You sat in the larger room in the back where most of the guards did their maintenance, ate lunch, and hung around. Sarasiel told you to take it easy, before he went upstairs to make sure everything was going alright. Fredric was aiding in his own way, given his own expertise in medicine. Ryke was probably sitting upstairs, guarding the door. You lay your head down on the table. You were half tempted to close your eyes. It was a dangerous idea, considering the threat of sleep. You wanted to be awake for the boy after his surgery. “You really are a miracle worker.” A familiar voice perks you up.“Bucklin?” You turn to face him.He leans on the doorway, nursing a bruise on his forehead. “You’ve got impeccable timing, honestly.” “What happened to you?!”“I fell through a table. Don’t worry about it.” He fell through a what? Well, if he wasn’t going to make a big deal about it, neither were you. “So, it seems like you’ve had an eventful day.”“I can say the same to you. What did you do today?” You explain your trip to the inn, the library, the notes you took. It took a little longer to explain your run in with Fredric and Ryke. You don’t go into too many details, considering your own fatigue. The only thing you could do is give the best summary you were able. Bucklin listens intently, hanging on your every word. He doesn’t interrupt nor interject. It was kind of surprising. You thought he would break your flow at least once. “And that’s it.” You finish. “How’s your day been?”“I opened my mouth and kissed the dirt.”“... So, same as yesterday?”“Verily.” “Seriously, though.”“Well, I got called out of my cell, pulled up to the first floor, and I talked to Stratos. One thing leads to another, and, well…” “Foot in mouth?”“I can’t help it. The taste is to die for.” Bucklin laughs.“So, you didn’t find out anything today?”“I didn’t say that.” He stops. “You remember my neighbor?”“The one who grabbed me.”“Yes. Him.” “What’s wrong with him?”“He’s exuding mana. That’s normal for a mage, of course, even if they’re not practicing magic.”
>>5340751Bucklin referred to it as mana last time you talked about this too. You knew what aether was, considering the magical training with Sarasiel earlier. It is the energy that allows you to manifest magic. It was the same thing as mana,right? “Hey, Bucklin.”“Yes?”“Is there a difference between ‘aether’ and ‘mana’?”“Practically speaking? No, not really. It’s a difference of interpretation.” Bucklin pulls his hand off his head. “Back home, they called it mana, so that’s what I’m used to saying. I can use ‘aether’ if you prefer.” You wanted to ask more about that, honestly. It sounded interesting. Probably not a good idea to ask right now, considering the topic at hand. “Aether would make things easier to follow.” You nod.“Very well then.” “So if the prisoner was a mage,” you say, getting back on topic. “Then couldn’t he have busted out with magic?”“That was my initial thought. Perhaps he was out of practice, or perhaps he needed a foci.” Bucklin quirks a brow. “Then I decided to look a little deeper into it.” The white of his right eye shifts to a deep black. The normal gold hue becomes red, almost a blood crimson. White slits outline the pupil and sclera, creating kaleidoscope of color. What was that? It’s enough to make you flinch. “What… is that?” “I don’t want to get into details, but with this, the Ahriman eye, I can see aether.” “So, people can’t normally see it?”“It depends on its density. Normally, no.” He shakes his head. “I saw aether flowing out of the prisoner’s cell like a thick mist.”“What does that mean?” “When something dies, be it a monster, person, or an animal. Their aether is usually absorbed into the ground and into the Lifestream.” Bucklin points below his feet. “The Lifestream?” You blink in surprise.“A river of aether composed of the souls of the dead.” “Alright, so that exists.” You massage your temples, processing the idea of screaming ghosts being bombarded by river rapids. Spirits of the dead. Great. The thought sends a shiver down your spine. You really didn’t know anything about this world even after trying to learn. Was returning to school an option? You hang your head.“Lorelei?” “I’m sorry, I’m fine.” Simply pulling your head up was enough to make you dizzy. “We can stop here, if you like.”>It was probably best to get some sleep. It’s been a hard day. >You had to be awake to see if that kid was okay. Everyone is trying their best, after all. >Write-in
>>5340754>It was probably best to get some sleep. It’s been a hard day.first aid experience, but without the fitness to match. part time charity volunteer? Experienced a natural disaster separate from the isekai?I take it the other prisoner is sort of dying?
>>5340754>>It was probably best to get some sleep. It’s been a hard day.
>>5340754>>You had to be awake to see if that kid was okay. Everyone is trying their best, after all.
>>5340754>>It was probably best to get some sleep. It’s been a hard day.I think we deserve some rest after what we've been through, I think.
>>5340754>You had to be awake to see if that kid was okay. Everyone is trying their best, after all.
It was best to heed Bucklin’s advice. Things had gotten hectic today, to say the very least. All this moving around when you’ve just woken up from your petrification. You’re not sure if that was the cause of the fatigue, but it was your best guess. “I’m going to go take a nap.” You say, spotting a vacant couch on the far side of the break room. The hard cushions and thin frame didn’t look comfortable, but you could manage. “Then I’ll get out of your hair.” Bucklin stands up. “I’m going to go do some snooping around.”You pivot toward him. “On second thought, I don’t need to sleep that badly. I can manage.”“Go to bed.” He points at the couch. “I won’t get into trouble.”You don’t believe him.“Hey.” He raises his hands. “Okay, I promise I won’t start any trouble.”You still don’t believe him.“I’ll keep to myself?” Bucklin continues pleading. “No, seriously, I need more time with the prisoner. There are still some things I need to confirm before I tell Sir Garland.”The man clearly wasn’t in his right mind since he attacked without provocation. According to Bucklin, his aether is leaking out from his body. There was definitely something else at play. Could there be a correlation between the two? You didn’t know enough about the subject to even make a guess. This is just conjecture since no literature you’ve read attempted to deal with an ‘ailment of the soul’. Whatever the condition was, it wasn’t good. Best to stop thinking about it. You aren't going to be able to sleep if you’re anxious. “Alright.” You say, sitting down on the couch. “Do what you want, Bucklin. I just don’t want to wake up and see another bruise.”“I’ll watch my step.” He chuckles. “Sleep well, Lorelai. Good night.”“Good night.” You lean back on the arm cushion.Fatigue washes over you like a light rain. Whatever strength and worries remain ebb away in the coming darkness. _________
>>5344189A part of you was afraid to dream. Would you be made to relive that nightmare of the ruined city? The ruined city, the smell of charred flesh. It came back in vibrant flashes. That couldn’t be the only memory allowed to you. Your consciousness ventures forth. Past the anger, past the despair, into the floral memories of the distant past. …Starlight. Stars twinkling high in the sky above. The cold, night air nipping at your body. The grass tickling your skin. Not a building in sight to obscure your view. “You don’t see this many in the city.” You mumble, laying on your arms as makeshift pillows. “Nope. Too much light pollution.” A girl,a year your senior, takes another bite out of a shmore. “Ya know, I didn’t think too much about this ‘backyard camping’ thing.” The girl throws herself down into the grass. “But it ain’t half bad. Doesn’t beat the real thing though.” “Cecil didn’t want to go.” You say, peering over to your brother. He lay in his sleeping bag as if it’s a cocoon. “Did you?”“I-it’s very dangerous.” Your brother says, the sleeping bag zipping open as he sits up. “I don’t want anyone to get hurt.”“But you’re the adult here.” The other girl quirks a brow. “At least, I thought you were.”“W-well, I’m eighteen, but that’s neither here nor there.” Cecil coughs into his hand. “If anything happened to you two, I’m… not really sure what I’d do.” “It’s because Roxy isn’t here, Kaitlyn.” You close your eyes.“Ohhh, that makes sense!” Kaitlyn grins. “What are you two doing anyway?” “Well, there’s Lisette too, right?” You add.“No, we are not discussing this! You are much too young!” Cecil’s face burns as hot as the campfire.“Right, right.” Kaitlyn nods. “And her twin.”
>>5344195“Um…” Cecil continues to blush, scratching the back of his head. “I’m just going to go to bed. G-good night!” He begins worming his way to sanctuary. You and Kaitlyn laugh as Cecil’s form sinks into the confines of his tent. Sparks flicker as wood crackles and break apart. An ember darts off the campfire and into the air. In a fright, you quickly dart over next to Kaitlyn. Your shoulders touch.“You okay?” She blinks.“Yes, I’m fine.” You sigh. “Didn’t want to combust is all.”“From a little ember like that?” Kaitlyn chuckles. “You’re still a scaredy cat, huh?”“What?” The term, while juvenile, still got under your skin. “No.”“You still run full sprint from your room to the kitchen and back at night, don’t you?”“Um…” Yes. Yes you did. Very much so. You turn away. “It’s okay to be sacred, ya know.” “And it’s okay to sleep with stuffed animals.” You smirk. “I don’t judge.”“Now that’s just rude.”“I call it getting even.”“Say…” Kaitlyn’s eyes dance between you and the campfire. “Lorelei. I, uh…” She fidgets, looking down. Whatever she wanted to say dies in her throat.“What’s up?” You give her a second chance to recuperate. “It’s nothing.” She sits up. “I was just going to say we should put out the fire and get to sleep.” “Really?” You weren’t really tired. Though, if Kaitlyn wanted to go to sleep, then that’s fine too. The dream becomes hazy. Distant. The flame illuminates the night sky, the ground, and your field of vision. _________
>>5344201You yawn. The warmth of your dream washes away your fatigue. You were remembering things, little by little. A friend named Kaitlyn and your brothers was Cecil. Then there were the names of Lisette and Annette. You couldn’t help but smile. This was the best you’ve felt in a while. You get up and look around. The cafeteria tables lining the outside of the room were as vacant as the food bowls at their center. The weapon racks were different, too. It seems like some people passed through here while you were asleep. You weren’t roused from your sleep, so that was considerate of them. If no one came to wake you up, then the surgery probably wasn’t finished yet. Well, there was some time to kill. >Bucklin is probably down in the dungeon. He said he wanted to speak to the prisoner again.>Stratos was the other party that got a talking to. Garland did say that you should speak to him.>Sarasiel is probably sitting upstairs. Paying him a visit couldn’t hurt too much.>Fredric might be out of the room by now. Couldn’t hurt to go speak to him.>Write-in_________ATE (Active Time Event/Interlude Selection)Select an interlude that you would like to see unfold over the course of the next update.>Corporal Punishment>Black and White >On the Road Again
>>5344205>>Fredric might be out of the room by now. Couldn’t hurt to go speak to him.ATE>>Corporal Punishment
>>5344205>Bucklin is probably down in the dungeon. He said he wanted to speak to the prisoner again.ATE>Corporal Punishment
>>5344205>Bucklin is probably down in the dungeon. He said he wanted to speak to the prisoner again.>Black and White
>>5344205>>Bucklin is probably down in the dungeon. He said he wanted to speak to the prisoner again.>Black and White
>>5344205>>Fredric might be out of the room by now. Couldn’t hurt to go speak to him.>On the Road Againcommence the ties
>>5344205>Bucklin is probably down in the dungeon. He said he wanted to speak to the prisoner again.>Corporal Punishment
>>5344205>Bucklin is probably down in the dungeon. He said he wanted to speak to the prisoner again.ATE (Active Time Event/Interlude Selection)>Corporal Punishment
>>5344205The last thing you discussed with Bucklin was the prisoner. It was a pretty good guess that he might still be down there. It didn’t feel like you were asleep for that long. Maybe an hour or two, given the sunlight peeking through the windows. You look around the room and, sure enough, there’s a small clock hanging above the weapon rack. Well, you thought it was a clock. You didn’t understand the exact meaning of the three smaller dials with various indecipherable characters. At some point you had to learn the language of this world. You couldn’t keep depending on people to read things for you. It was as intrusive for others as it was annoying for you. Just going on gut feeling, it felt like it was midday. Sometime between two or five. The sun had yet to set. Not accurate, but it was good enough. You stand up and walk across the dining hall. You move past the tables and to the hall that leads to the dungeon’s entrance. The door opens with a creak. You step into the dimly lit corridor, the familiar dank scent drifting in the air. With each step, a more pungent smell overtakes the earthy fragrance of moss. Suddenly, the rancid odor burns your senses. You clench your nose and close your eyes. What in the hell was that? Bucklin was down there alone. What if something happened to him? Fear hastens your descent. You grip the hilt of your sword. Faster and faster still. “Bucklin, are you okay!?” You yell, nearly tripping over the last step. You stumble forward, desperate to secure Bucklin’s safety.__________
>>5347660Interlude: Corporal PunishmentStratos sits down in the holding chamber. He’s not alone. Garland remains seated across from him, hunched over. An unmoving gaze. Even if he looks away, even if he tries to retreat into himself, the piercing glare shakes him. He knew why he was here. He wasn’t dense. It was his insubordination. He failed to follow orders and to live up to the Delmasca name. He brought shame to his family, put Garland in an even worse position and, most of all, he showed that he couldn’t control himself. Stratos looks down.Garland stares back.The two guards nervously exchange a glance. Garland says nothing, does nothing. He watches.The silence was cutting. A punishment in and of itself. Almost as if Stratos’ transgression was frozen in time.Stratos fidgets. Sweat drips down his brow. He knew what he had to say to force time forward. He was afraid of what was to come after. He was afraid of his nightmare being realized. Garland lost what little faith he had left in him. In this soundless space, he could still believe that Garland could trust him. It was a delusion spurred by an earnest wish. If he speaks, he shatters the illusion. Stratos grimaces. He was a man, not a boy. He had no need for paltry delusions. His father raised no coward. Stratos places both hands on the table. He had to break the spell, to end this game of guilt. If not for his own sake, then for Garland’s. “Why am I here, Sir?”“For laying a land on a man in our custody.”“Sir, it’s--”“I’m not interested in your reasoning, Lieutenant. The motive doesn’t matter.” Garland shakes his head. “What matters is the result. Do you understand that?”“Yessir.” Stratos nods. “Uh, sir.” A guard raises a hand. “Should we leave? I mean--”“Need I remind you that you’re here for the prisoner’s protection, not mine?” Garland commands. “Stay.”Stratos winces. The guards at the door are the very same he ordered out of the room. If they had been there, then things wouldn’t be as bad as they are. They wouldn't have gotten involved with his mistake.“Lieutenant.” Garland leans forward.“Sir?”“You’re a soldier before you’re a noble. When you serve under me: titles, prestige, and pretense mean nothing.” Garland narrows his eyes. “You conduct yourself accordingly. We serve the people.”“Yessir.”“To forget that is to forget your duty, both to yourself and to your comrades. Your behavior reflects on us all, Lieutenant.” Garland’s stern voice presses Stratos further back into his chair. The guards stand at attention, fingers tense at their sides. “P-permission to speak, Sir?” One of the soldiers near the door speaks. “Officer Wedge?” Garland affirms the officer with a nod. “Granted.”
>>5347663“T-this… um.” Wedge scratches the side of his head. His gauntlets clink against his helmet. “This is … my fault, just as much as it is Lieutenant Stratos’. I’m… n-new, you see. I’m not very good at this.” His voice shakes just as much as his legs. “I… want to take whatever punishment you see fit, is what I’m saying.” “What?” Stratos stands. “No. I can’t allow this. This was my mistake.”“Lieutenant, sit.” Garland says.Stratos scoffs, sitting down. This wasn’t right. He had already dragged them into it, now they’re digging their own graves next to his. Some part of him still blamed Bucklin. Of course, his taunting didn’t help, his showboating, treating everything like a joke.Bucklin was always like that. Even in the few years that he’s known him, he was always mischievous. Never taking blame for anything. Bucklin’s recklessness endangering others beyond just himself. Why was he like that? What did his sister see in him? Was he blind? Was there something he just wasn’t getting?What did he not understand?He didn’t know. What he did know was that he couldn’t let Wedge take the hit. He was a rookie. Simply saying that he would stick his neck out for Stratos was enough. It wasn’t something he should have had to do. “Permission to speak?” Stratos breathes deep.“Granted.”“May I suggest a punishment?”Garland pauses. Stratos speaks past the silence and continues. “Flogging, sir.” He holds his gaze steady with Garland. “The punishment should fit the crime.” “Lieutenant.” Garland stands. “You realize what you’re asking me to do, don’t you?”“You said it yourself, sir. Titles, prestige, and pretense mean nothing.” Stratos stands and salutes. “I’m a soldier, first and foremost. If I can’t take this much, then I have no right to call myself a Knight of Highwind.”“Lieutenant.” Garland places a hand on his brow. “Where did you learn this?”Stratos takes a moment to recollect. “The Knight Academy, sir.”“If you’re so quick to suggest ‘flogging’, I have a better alternative.”“What would that be, Sir?”“We’ll call it ‘remedial physical training’.” Garland crosses his arms. “I’ve been apparently lacking in my duties as a Commanding officer.” The prospect of training with Garland was as exciting as it was frightening. But, if he intended this to be a punishment, then it was going to be more of the latter. Stratos stands, nodding. “I’ll take whatever punishment you see fit, Sir.” __________
>>5347670Location: Training Room, Nestad Citywatch BarracksMetal dents on impact. Stratos flies through the air, propelled by nothing more than brute force. Dust clouds bloom as he bounces across the ground. He coughs, gasping for breath. Stratos grips his training sword. Wait, no, he clutches at empty air?His sword was there a second ago. Where was it? A light caught his eye. The sword’s wondrous sheen calls out to him from across the room. Shining the only hope he had of winning this duel.He gets up. His training armor clanks, echoing with each lunge. His breathing heavy in his ears, desperation threatening to claim him. He reaches out, gripping the hilt of the blade. He pivots, attempting to face his foe.Garland was gone. He was standing there a mere moment ago. Where was he?Clank.A training sword bends as it digs into Stratos’ chest guard. Spit drips from the open helm. “S-sir… agh.” Stratos collapses onto the ground, his back flat. “Round five, Stratos. On your feet.”Flogging would have been a temporary pain, something he could recover from. It’d take time, but it was possible. This was constant, and was going to continue into the near future. “S-sir.” Stratos stands, groaning, struggling to even grasp his blade. “How many more rounds? I can’t really… feel my hands.” “Until you can stand no longer.”“Alright.” Stratos grips his training sword, ready for another round. “Let’s go!” Interlude End__________
>>5347679Location: Nestad Citywatch, Dungeon“Oh, Lorelai. Welcome back to the world of the living.” Bucklin sits on the ground, perched on his feet, with a beaker in hand. Strange prismatic clouds hover over his head. The open windows nearby draw in the ambient miasma. Regardless, Bucklin didn’t seem to be in any immediate danger. You might have jumped to conclusions, but even then, you didn’t expect this. Who could have? “What are you doing?” The fear of the unknown chemical agents made you keep your distance. You approach cautiously, hand firmly covering your nose and mouth.“Testing mana density.” Bucklin tilts his head. “Sorry, aetheric density.” “This doesn’t seem like proper lab equipment.” You look at the top of Bucklin’s head. “Where are your goggles?”“Goggles? Pfft. I haven’t used those since I was a little Turquoise tyke.”Was that an actual thing? Well, if it was, you decide to ignore it. “I see.” Safety wasn’t at the top of Bucklin’s priority list, that was for sure. You never wanted to share a lab with him. Ever. “Have you found anything?”“I’ve confirmed my suspicions, at the very least.” Bucklin says, filling an empty beaker with what you can only describe as purple sludge. It makes a hissing noise before he silences it with a small cork. “Our friend here is experiencing aetheric degradation.” “Degradation?” “His physical body is, quite literally, rejecting his aether. I’ve seen smaller cases before, but this one… is probably the worst I’ve seen.” That sounded painful. Just the word degradation sent a chill down your spine. “Is there anything we can do for him? What about the surgeon? Or, er, the chirurgeon?” “Give him to me!” The prisoner grasps at the bars. “My son! Give… give him… t-to me!” He grips the bars, tearing at them like a caged animal. You jump back. Bucklin doesn’t react, turning off the miniature burner at his feet. He places the materials back in his bag as he stands. “There’s nothing to be done for him, not here and not now. The only thing we can do is report my findings to Garland.” “So you’re helping after all?”“Yes. Yes, I am.” Bucklin smiles. “I said I would assist you, and here I am.” “Thank you.” You nod. “But, are you sure nothing can be done?”Bucklin shakes his head. “Not for his health, no. Though… if I had a few years, maybe I could come up with something. But a single day? No, that’s not enough time.” He places a finger to his chin. “One thing I am curious about is the circumstances that caused his condition to develop. I’ve only heard of it being contracted by magitechnicians and engineers.” More terms to remember. It was best to ask about it later. The disease was a more pressing mater. “Why is that?” “It requires contact with certain refined materials that can cause aetheric instability. Aethercite is the first that comes to mind.” Bucklin starts walking toward the exit, prompting you to follow.
>>5347684“Precisely, and even then, you’d have to have to come into contact with vast amounts in a short period of time. I’m talking seconds, not just minutes or bells. Anymore than that, and you’d be lucky to walk away with just a case of aetheric degradation” Bells? Some of these terms were easy to infer, or the same, but others were just weird. You were going to guess that that meant ‘hour’. Regardless, this sounds like radiation poisoning. You furrow your brow as you begin your ascent up the stairs. “That’s not to say that there aren’t powerful sources of aether in nature.” Bucklin punches his open palm. “In fact! I believe summoners once used them to speak to their gods. I believe they were called communion crystals?” Wait, gods were real? Hold on. You stop short. “Gods?” “Yes.” Bucklin turns to face you, his back to the partially open door. “Gods. Deities. Creatures of worship. Vile things, really.” You weren’t sure how to follow up on that. Talking about gods seems like it’d open another can of worms. >Ask more about the aethercite.>Ask more about the gods.>Ask more about aetheric degradation and related conditions. >Write-in
>>5347686>>Ask more about the gods.
>>5347686>Recount to him what you know about radiation sickness, both the symptoms, and the safety precautions to avoid getting a facefull of nuclear death.
>>5347686>>Ask more about the aethercite.>>Ask more about the godsNew thread?
>>5347902Yeah. I think it's about time. I went ahead and archived it. https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/2022/5311845/
>>5347686>Ask more about aetheric degradation and related conditions.
>>5347999Based. Thanks, Cid
>>5347686>>Ask more about the gods.>>Ask more about aetheric degradation and related conditions.
>>5351112I'm here. I plan on putting out the new thread at some point tonight or tomorrow. Doing campaign stuff atm. Sorry for lack of transparency.