Sanctuary

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    TJ

    Posts : 873
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 24
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:38 am

    Sanc Pages 53-58:
    The Third Harmony: Hope
    We were marked and chosen upon birth through our lineage to become the hope of these worlds. But no, that's not quite the reason I'm doing all of this. There's just someone I love too much. (Kooh)
    “Ch-Chief...” TJ muttered with knit eyebrows.”
    “It is a pleasure to see you again. Now that we are all assembled I would like to hear the details of your mission, if you would be so kind.” Peorth said.
    “Slow down there a second.” Su hissed. “This guy is a Confidant?” Peorth nodded once. “He's the same thing that tried to kill us! He's a Tyrant of the Maelstrom!”
    Vanir had the gall to look insulted. “That's quite the bold claim you're making there Suuba.”
    “Su. Just Su.” She returned her glare to the guild master. “Who made this clown into a Confidant? Something like him shouldn't be able to exist! There's only one Abellan, and somehow he's able to switch forms from an Agasura to a human, allowing him into the cities! That's not all; he can use the Contemptuous Arts and the Divinity Sealing spell!” She drew her dagger while keeping him within her vision from the corner of her eye. “I'll kill him now and stop him before he does anything.”
    “Hold a moment Suuba. There is no need to jump to conclusions.” Peorth answered. “Let us discuss the matter before we act, as I believe that once you hear his side of the story there will be no need for conflict between us.”
    The young girl clicked her tongue. “Let's hear it then.”
    The barista uneasily rubbed the back of his neck. “Where do I even begin?” He sighed. “First things first; I am not a Tyrant of the Maelstrom. Mmkay? Good. It's something very similar in essence though. If what my research and the information I got from Peorth here holds true, then what I can 'become' is a copy of the creature you Cerebians know as the Tyrant of the Maelstrom. The two are very closely linked, since the TotM was the first of its kind. My entire journey consisted of doing everything it took to acquire this power, and I succeeded. It was costly.” He smiled bitterly. “You dabble in dark magic and everyone, including your friends will want your head. That's not important though. Unlike you, I don't transform. It's more an aura than a being. If I attempted to change my shape either I'd die or lose control and become...something. This is just an educated guess on the matter. Now let's move on to more pressing matters.”
    “I am in agreement.” Peorth said.
    “The Ice Queen mentioned your symbiotic nature right?” TJ nodded. “Good. This is something both you, and all the other creatures like you share. I guess you could say that for all Agasura. But you're a very particular case. You have the power over two very powerful elements, light, and darkness. Though you've chosen to side with Peorth and in turn become the saviour to her kind, it won't change the fact that you have Agasuric blood in you. Though you can become the Messenger of Light, you'll still have the ability to become the Tyrant of the Maelstrom under the right circumstances, of course. You won't be able to do it without Choen Palm's piece of the Heart of Yggdrasil but that fact won't change. You're gonna need that power, and the power of the Seven if your goal is to defeat the Demon King. Agasura can't be killed by the four elements, nor by the Divine Arts. That, is where the Contemptuous Arts comes in. Master that, and he'll be putty in your hands.”
    “Okay...but how did you get that power? There aren't others like you, are there?” TJ asked uneasily.
    “No there's not. I'm the only one, but I can't quite tell you how I got this power.” He smiled guiltily. “I can tell you that I'm a traveller. I've come a long way to get here...rather, it was purely by chance and pretty lucky at that. There are some people who followed me here and are likely still somewhere out there searching for me. It's been...what, fifteen years? Maybe twenty since then?”
    “So what about your little friend there? Anyone with any knowledge of spirits knows that she's not any of the races in the triad. She's clearly a summoned being. Care to explain?” Su asked crossing her arms.
    Vanir's mouth twitched at the question. “Gods...can you just stop sticking your nose into my business? You're way too perceptive for your own good. Skuld, come on out.” The brownie removed herself from behind the barista's legs and took point before him, his hand gently resting on her hat. “As the potty-mouthed kid said, my companion isn't exactly a brownie. She's my familiar, and my only remaining companion Skuld. Throughout most of my journey's she's been by my side, both protecting me and fighting for me, and doing so much more. I wouldn't have come this far without her. Come on, don't be shy.”
    “M-my name is Skuld. I am Master's only remaining summoned being.” Su's ears seemed to peak at the comment.
    “Ain't she just the sweetest? What a keeper!”
    “What'd she mean by only remaining summoned being?” Su asked.
    “Geh...” He grunted and sighed. “I used to summon things. I know how, but I pissed someone off and they sealed my magic. Happy now?” He glared at the teenager.
    She grinned devilishly in response. “Ecstatic.”
    “Anyway let's get on with this shall we? I'm sick of talking about me and my dark past.” Su snorted at the comment and he glared daggers at her.
    “You two get along very well.” Peorth commented and both looked at her with furrowed brows. “Back on the topic of the Agasura, TJ, Suuba, this is very important information. I strongly believe Vanir's Agasuric form is related to a series of Agasuras that have not been seen since ancient times. In some of the scripts that I had found in the libraries of the palace I had uncovered some of the information on the creatures from that time.” She closed her eyes, a grave look on her face. “Our ancestors and those of humanity's had faced off with Asmodeus himself and the greatest threat both had ever seen; a series of sentient beings that spread corruption from one world to the next. The creatures came from a place described as 'The Dark World' to Midgard and in their wake brought death and decay along with a spell similar to that which was used both on Asgard and in Kimara. Can you recall the spell 'Rinstar'?”
    TJ shuddered at the question. “Y-yeah...sadly. That thing still haunts my dreams...and my memories.”
    She nodded. “It was present then. They had described it as a 'black star of death'. It had marred the earth in ways one could not imagine. The scripts tell of God Ah and his left hand banishing the creatures from our world and sealing Asmodeus away. I know not any further details but should I find out I will inform you as soon as possible. Let us move on to the topic of the Seven once more. Vanir, if you would.”
    “Uh huh. So, the Seven seem to share some of the traits that the the exiled creatures do. This is just a speculation so don't hold me to it okay? From what I've seen those specific Agasura, let's call them Demons for the sake of my sanity, shall we? Now then, the Demons unlike the Agasura inhabited a specific set of creatures, and if they didn't do that, they'd remain in a spiritual form. If they claimed a vessel, they would gain a certain type of shape, each meant to fulfill a different role. Almost like the class system in place here. At the top of that pyramid stands the king, and what they don't know is even higher, which is you TJ, the Abellan. As one would expect, they'd think you dead, and you likely the same.”
    “I didn't even know there was such an Agasura.” TJ muttered.
    “My point exactly. Or close enough, at the very least. Anyway back on point, I think the Sinful Seven are a lot alike to the others, but rather than falling under the same categories as the rest, they'd have their own set of classes. I don't know what they'd do specifically, but if the sins of man are what allowed them to manifest, chances are the sins of man are their weapon in some form or another. Now back to you Ice Queen.”
    Peorth held out a hand and turned her gaze back to the two. “This is a technique I would like to teach you also TJ. It will be a crucial skill in your battle, to utilize when I am not present.” She took a deep breath. “Release, Memorius Sanctum!” A powerful air pressure surged forth from where she stood and a beautiful gilded tome appeared in the palm of her hand.
    “What's that Chief?” He asked with a quizzical gaze.
    “This is my family's greatest heirloom. It has passed down to our proxies since ancient times, and has been placed in my care as the last link in the chain, and the first to form a contract with the Abellan. This tome contains the history of the world as God Ah and his left hand knew it, and I believe that it also contains some of your memories prior to losing them. If what the tome tells me holds true, the Seven each hold a page that will be crucial to your growth towards becoming your true self, and in the process return your memories, and your forgotten spells.”
    “That's amazing! But those Agasuras will definitely be some of the toughest we've faced yet. I'll do my best to be ready to face them when the time comes. After fighting Pandora, which of the Seven will we fight first, and where?”
    “I do not know.” TJ looked nonplussed.
    “I've not the foggiest either.” Vanir said with a shrug.
    “You're both morons.” Su grumbled.
    “I know of a Confidant that may be able to assist us in locating them with the help of her sisters. Her name is Lucia, and she is a dancer at Club Abio. Should you find the time, I would recommend going to visit her, at the very least to pay your respects.”
    “I'll be keeping an eye out too, and I'll be sure to stay in touch with my customers and the other Confidants I know about. Chances are someone will hear something about them.” Vanir blinked. “Oh! Here's a useful little tidbit also; I think that the more attuned you become to your Agasuric nature, via the Sinful Seven, you'll also become more aware of their presence. Hone those senses kid. They'll take you far.”
    “Thanks for the tip. I'll remember that along the journey.” TJ replied with a smile.
    “We should make plans to set out for Foe Mansion,” Peorth suggested. “You can leave the team composition to me TJ. But at your convenience you may select a date. If I may, a date within the near future may be in our best interest, as you know time is not on our side. Although, I shall not put you at risk for fear of time.”
    He shook his head. “I'm alright now Chief. Our meeting with Vanir shook me up a little but I think I'm well enough to return to the battlefield,” He furrowed his brows. “That aside, I'll probably have more than enough time to rest while we search for the Seven. For now let's focus on getting Pandora's Box and proceeding from there. If it's not too soon, we can set out tomorrow and get things off to a proper start.”
    “Fine by me.” Su said.
    “That sounds excellent,” Peorth added. “I would recommend getting a proper night's sleep you two. Though the journey is short, we still have a fair distance to travel, and Pandora is not to be underestimated either. Now if you will excuse me...” She took a bow and made her exit as her guild-mates and the barista wished her a good night.
    “We should get moving too. Baby needs his beauty sleep,” Su sneered returning to the crystal. “Later losers.”
    TJ snorted at the comment and Vanir furrowed his brows. “That girl has an attitude.” The barista muttered.
    “She's a lot kinder than she might sound,” He chuckled gently. “If you talk with her enough you'll begin to see it too. Still, thanks for the information Vanir. We'll be sure to drop by to stay in touch and see how your search is going. It'll definitely be a big help.”
    The barista smiled wryly. “Are you serious? Do I look like some kind of hint NPC to you?” TJ tilted his head quizzically. “Should have expected that reaction...regardless, I'll do what I can. If you're gonna come all the way here you better buy something next time you hear? I don't run a charity!”
    He smiled. “I will. It's a promise.”
    The barista clicked his tongue. “Freakin' pretty boys. One more thing before you go.” The young man gave him a curious stare and nearly jumped when Vanir placed his hands on his shoulders. “I heard about you using a spell some time ago from a mission you were on...what'd the Ice Queen call it? Caster's Workshop? How did you...no, do you know where you learned it? Did someone teach you?”
    TJ rubbed his chin thoughtfully. He could recall using the spell during his fight with Su but not where he had learned it. Who had taught him? Or where exactly did he learn any of the spells that Peorth had not passed on to him? He shook his head. “I dunno. That part of my memory is missing too. Sorry Vanir.”
    He let go of the young man and sighed. “Nah...nothing you need to apologize for. You've got amnesia. Didn't do anything wrong. If you do remember something about it, tell me ASAP, got it?”
    “Yeah...okay. Will you tell me the reason though?”
    The barista cracked a tiny grin. “I'll tell you when you're ready. Now get out of my sight. Go get that box kid.”

    The next morning TJ woke up within the tent that Peorth had provided for him. In the letter she had sent with the package she had said that it would just be a temporary arrangement for him, since sleeping in a tent all of the time would result in him getting ill, and that sleeping in a bed would offer him a better rest. Of late she seemed to worry a lot more for his sake and he was hard-pressed to deny that he did not enjoy her doting. Though he was not quite sure why she meant the arrangement would be temporary. Did she have plans to have him stay at an inn? He considered asking her about it when they would meet up that day.
    After rising from his bed he rummaged through his rucksack and removed a simple sandwich, which he unwrapped and ate until the arrival of his companion through the crystal gave him pause.
    “Good morning.” He uttered through stuffed cheeks. The blank gaze on Su's face said she was not amused where words failed her.
    “Gross,” She began, to which he just chuckled under his breath. She sighed and continued, “Though that guy is friends with Peorth and a Confidant I still don't like him. I don't give two shits if he's just a copy of the TotM there's still something completely wrong with it. Things like that don't just happen.”
    TJ shrugged. “Vanir did his research. I dunno where but he knows his stuff. Besides, he's really well-informed about the Agasura and he's willing to help us out to boot! There's no need to suspect him right? I think he's a pretty good companion.”
    She sighed once more. “That's the problem with you, you idiot. You're too damn trusting! That guy could put a knife through your back and you wouldn't even think twice about suspecting him of it! Didn't that ridiculous fight with Yuta teach you anything?”
    The young man put his sandwich down. “It did...” He began. “It taught me that even if your friends become enemies, that we still have to look past all of that and learn to forgive them regardless of how we're treated. If something's lost it doesn't mean it's gone forever. It just needs to be found again. He may have broken our bond then but I think someday he'll come around and come back to us.”
    The God's Governor frowned. “You're kidding right?” TJ raised an eyebrow at her in the midst of taking another bite of his breakfast. “He tried to murder you, you dumbass! Do you really think you can just be friends with everyone that's out to take your life?! Choen Palm isn't gonna sit down and have tea with you when she could be controlling you with her shard of the Heart of Yggdrasil!”
    He laughed. “Choen Palm is a whole different story. I don't think the two of us will see eye to eye anytime soon.”
    “I don't think the three of us will see eye to eye ever. She's gotta go, and by gotta go I mean we have to either brutally murder her or at the very least seal her away. If she comes back before we settle things with Asmodeus then we're gonna have to go through hell and high water to end this war.”
    “Asmodeus...” The young man shook his head. Just the sound of the name gave him the chills. He knew who Asmodeus was, but nothing more than that. At his strongest would he really be able to compete with the King of Agasura? He slapped his cheeks twice and clenched his fists. “I'm gonna defeat both of them. We're gonna do it, together! We've already faced a lot of tough guys and we beat Choen Palm once. I'm willing to bet we can do it again, and when we do face off with her we'll be even stronger than we are now! With the power of the Seven I think we can stop her once and for all.” Though in spite of what he said he still felt reluctant to take her life.
    “Bravery and stupidity really do go hand in hand don't they?” She snorted.
    “If that's what it takes to make a full-fledged hero then I think I can accept that.” He remarked.

    Shortly after the two made their way to the guild room and found two of their companions already inside, alongside Sellistar and Shabur.
    “Good morning!” TJ chimed with a wave.
    “Good morning to you and Suuba also.” Peorth answered.
    “Hey ho!” Kooh beamed.
    “How do you do?” Shabur asked with a bow.
    “It's good to see you well, young Abellan and Contractee.” Sellistar said.
    “Hey.” Su said with a nod.
    TJ glossed over the group around him and tilted his head. “Is this our team? For taking down Pandora?”
    Peorth shook her head. “No, we are yet to see Thee. He should be arriving very shortly. In the meantime, would you like to ask any questions? You need not ask about the mission itself, as I will brief you on it upon his arrival.”
    TJ glanced at Su and she shrugged. “Hmm...well, where is Foe Mansion exactly? Though I had a map it wasn't exactly a place I noticed...it must have been off the path that we followed.” He chuckled dryly.
    “Foe Mansion is located within the deepest portions of the Dark Forest. You must be very wary when traversing it, as the Agasuras there have both the ability of flight, and snares.”
    “These ones can fly? I guess I should have expected that sooner or later but...the only one I knew that could fly was Invoke. Then again, it's not everyday you see a giant dragon so...still, what exactly are these Agasuras? Have we faced them before?”
    “Most certainly. I do not think that you have yet, so you and Suuba must be especially careful. The first, are gargoyles. They have the ability of flight, but nothing more than that. They will attack you with their talons so if you are to cast I would highly recommend using spells with short cast times. Secondly are the walking flowers.”
    “Walking flowers? I saw those on Toad Mountain when I met Curt! Those weird little flowers that walked on their stems and had giant fangs right?”
    Peorth shook her head once more and TJ gave her a questioning gaze. “They are essentially the same, but what you saw are a sub-species of the creature. The walking flowers are visually different, but they cannot survive in the climates of Toad Mountain. Their attack patterns are alike, but the walking flowers are less vicious and also much weaker than their counterpart.”
    “Ah...alright.”
    “Lastly are the Arachne. These are some of the more deadly Agasura in the Dark Forest. They camouflage themselves to blend in with their surroundings and snare their prey with the webs they spin. Once their prey is caught, they poison it and strike when it is weak.”
    “P-poison? That doesn't sound good at all...”
    “Don't worry TJ. If you do get poisoned I'll suck it out for ya. But that service will cost you extra!” Kooh said with a wink. Peorth gave her a blank stare and she patted the guild master on the back. “I'm just kidding Princess! Don't look so serious! I know a good healing spell for curing poison and to stop bleeding too.” The Abellan laughed dryly at her joke.
    “There's an Iris Stone somewhere in there isn't there?” Su asked.
    “There's two.” Kooh answered with a grin. “One in the Forest and the other the Mansion. You might get something useful out of them TJ. Time to get pumped up!”
    He laughed. “I don't think I can get as pumped as you Kooh. But I'll try to keep up!”
    “That's the spirit kiddo!”
    “Get a room, idiots.” Su muttered under her breath.
    Shortly after Thee arrived in the Guild Room and offered the crew a two-finger salute. They all greeted him in response and Peorth gathered their attention.
    “Now that we have all arrived. Let us begin, shall we?” She began and they all agreed. “As you all know, our mission today will be to enter Foe Mansion and vanquish Pandora, claiming the box and performing the rite to create a link between TJ and it. With that, we will be able to use it as a conduit to enable TJ to use the powers of the Seven, and seal them in the box once more. This will not be an easy mission, nor will it be safe. I asked you to join me expectant that you were all aware of this, and that in partaking your lives will be at risk once more.”
    Thee chuckled. “Our parents and grandparents before us fought wars to give us and humanity a future. We're standing here now 'cause they weren't afraid to risk their lives. We shouldn't be scared of a couple Agasura right?”
    “Damn right. Agasura don't have shit on us.” Su snorted. The two high-fived.
    “I'm glad you are in agreement. Thee, you are aware of what Agasura lurk within the Dark Forest correct?”
    “Yup. Been there a couple times for the ladies in the Fight Arena. Some of the new adventurers were having a hard time with them so they asked me to clean up a bit.”
    “Good. That will save us some time. Let us move on to the creatures within Foe Mansion shall we? The first you will face off with are Victors. They are, essentially human in shape and wield chainsaws as weapons. They are slow, but as you would expect to be hit with their weapons will have disastrous results.”
    The ex-ninja snickered. “I could only imagine.”
    “The second are Vampanelar. They take the form of a crying girl in a cloak. Do not be fooled by them. When you come within a certain distance they will transform and attack you with a spell that will siphon your blood. They also have a very short-range lightning spell. Be wary of this.” The guild master paused for a moment as if in thought.
    “What is it Chief?” TJ asked.
    “Fighting against the Vampanelars became a tad difficult for her since she befriended one of them.” Kooh answered. “Though it's rare, not all Agasura seek to do harm to us or humanity. Though we're not sure of the details yet, we've noticed that it's possible to help them escape the place their kind is imprisoned and throw away their Agasuric nature to reclaim some of their humanity.”
    “It's possible to be friends with the Agasura?! I thought they were all evil!”
    “They pretty much are,” She chuckled, “But you know, just as Humans and Cerebians can change, so can the Agasura. Though since Asmodeus and the Seven are becoming active again, the chances of them rebelling against him decreased. In fact, they're all stronger now! Be extra careful you guys.”
    Peorth nodded solemnly. “Kooh is right. All Agasura are gaining strength from their King, as will the guardians of the Instance. They will be much more deadly than they once were, so they may do unpredictable things. Be very mindful of this.” She closed her eyes for a moment. “Let us continue. The last of the creatures within Foe Mansion are specters. They will attack you with their scythe or with the tiny soul flames that surround them. They have the unique ability of draining the mana of the target that is hurt by the soul flame. I have mana potions and health potions prepared for this quest, so if you find the need be sure to use them as you see fit.”
    Upon hearing the specters mentioned the thought of Straw Hat's weapon came to mind. A throbbing in his chest distracted him from Peorth's explanation and left him feeling rather melancholic. Perhaps Straw Hat had been there once upon a time? TJ may have been with him then, but lost his memories of the time. The last time they had met was in his vision in Belos. He might never see him again, and the thought pained him even more. Peorth and Straw Hat were friends once also; how did she overcome his passing?
    “Do you have any information on Pandora?” Thee asked.
    The guild master shook her head. “To our dismay, I do not. The very little that I know of her is her story, and the existence of an Agasura that was created to protect her called Lady Hug. Princess Herne had heard about it through a group adventurers she had requested investigate the location of the two, the Gothic Room. This is also an Instance Dungeon, though not such as that with you are familiar with. It is only a single room, and within wait both Lady Hug and Pandora. We will have to strategize as the mission proceeds, so bear with me here.”
    “We're not gonna run in blindly? I'm almost impressed.” Su chuckled.
    “We have been able to manage on very basic strategies under certain circumstances, mainly planning a team that could counteract the strengths of our enemy, but this will not suffice in these times. Our formation will be a very important matter on this mission. Thee and I shall be the vanguard. Suuba will follow afterwards acting as a secondary fighter and caster. Lastly TJ and Kooh will be the rear-guard.”
    “What are our duties Chief? What should I do?” TJ asked.
    “Firstly Thee and I will lead the charge, clearing a path to the best of our abilities, combatting close range enemies such as the Victors. Su will watch our flanks and occasionally check on the rear-guard while striking enemies that may have us deadlocked. Once we come across the Vampanelars we will swap our formation to have the rear take point and vice versa. This will allow you to strike without being siphoned and will allow us to take action once the initial attack has passed. Once we come across the last of the Agasura we shall swap once more and remain this way until we reach the Gothic Room. Once inside we will scout out the area and plan our moves from there. If there is no need to fight, then we shall choose that opportunity.”
    “You forgot to tell TJ his duties Princess.”
    She looked startled. “My apologies.” The Abellan gestured that it was not a problem. “When in the rear guard I would like you to focus on fulfilling a support role. If you recall your songs, please provide us with anything that you think will assist us, while making our well-being your most prominent focus. When in the front-line, you and Kooh will fight offensively, using whichever element suits you best. Remember that using the Divine Arts is much more straining on the body, and will use up more mana and stamina. You'll need your energy for fighting Pandora, especially if you are to transform. Kooh, you know what I wish for you to do already.”
    “Roger.” Kooh replied with a salute.
    “This is all the information that I have to offer you. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to ask me.” Peorth told them. “If not, prepare yourselves to set out.”
    “Ready when you are.” Thee grinned.
    “Let's do this!” Kooh cheered.
    “I'm ready as I'll ever be. I think.” TJ chuckled.
    “How many times do I have to say it? Born. Ready.” Su said.
    “I wish you safe travels and a safe return, Children of the Sun.” Sellistar told them.
    “Do come back safely,” Shabur commented, “Until you do I will manage everything here. Your guild is safe with me.”
    “You have my thanks.” Peorth answered with a tiny smile. Her usual serious expression returned as she turned to her guild. “The mission begins now! Yggdrasil, move out!”

    It's finally happening. I'm actually working. Decided to stop slacking off and try to pick up where I left off in Sanc. Hopefully with this I'll get back into my writing and it'll see some improvements. The beginning was a bit rough, but following it I think it's coming around as a whole. Felt a little strange writing those guys again, but their characters are coming back to me now, so all the little quirks of them are starting to be a bit rounded out also. In truth, it's a bit refreshing. Hopefully if I can get this one done soon I can take care of the others also. Shouldn't be too long until this chapter's done, since it only has 3 scenes.
    avatar
    Suuba

    Posts : 599
    Join date : 2009-09-03
    Age : 21

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  Suuba on Thu May 01, 2014 6:24 pm

    Big lazy nerd like holy fuck. tbh yeah it honestly has been a while and im sorry for not bein around. bluh.

    For the TJ chapter things, they're kinda funny. If they're are gonna be canon or w/e, they would be written and only stay with TJ (or as you said only known by the sender) you know as a stress relief I guess or help with any growing anxiety of all the shit that went down. Continuing with the 'if they were canon' would they be released as new chapters onto sanc or just a new thing all together.

    As for the new sanc chapters, im fuckin laughin. holy fuck. Just a buncha prideful assholes omfg. I fuckin like it, keep at it.
    avatar
    TJ

    Posts : 873
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 24
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sun May 04, 2014 1:52 pm

    Glad to know you liked it! I think it's safe to say this'll be finished before Innocent is, since I'm still just a tad unsure about how I want it to play out, that and the lack of storyboards but it'll get some love very soon. Knocking sanc out of the way, I think it'll help me prepare for finishing Innocent, and between doing that and drafting for ch.4 I might give USS a touch-up as I did with Frequency. Or something similar. I'll come around here once in a while to update the chapter's with the rough draft until the good copy of the chapter's finished. Hopefully it'll be soon!

    Pages 58-63:
    The group returned to Elias Palace and Nan waved at them as they departed. Lead by Peorth the group made their way down the streets of Elias towards the Fight Arena. The five weaved their way through the adventurers lined up to enter the massive tent featuring one of the first man-made Instance Dungeons. Tents were also erected all across the premises, TJ stealing a glance around in case he may find his treasure hunter and meister companions amidst the crowd. To his dismay neither seemed to be around. Perhaps Peorth had dispatched them on a mission also?
    Shortly after walking a fair distance the group came across an unpaved flat land quickly changing from green to a mossy-yellow, with wispy looking trees decorating the landscape. Leaving aside those much smaller in stature, massive trees alike to those in the Forest reached out to the sky, yet unlike them they were gnarled and barren, the holes in the trunk giving each an eerily unique likeness; the branches like long spindly arms curving in ways one would not think even possible for a tree.
    “What's up with this place?” TJ complained. “It's so dark and eerie around here. Is it like this all the time? Also those trees are the creepiest things I've seen in a long time! They've got faces, and some of them even have moss growing out of them! They look like eyes!”
    While following Kooh down a ladder Thee looked up to the Abellan and chuckled, “You'll get used to it. It's always like this around here, which explains how it got its name. The trees around here are as tall as the Forest's, but the way they overlap with each other blocks out the sun, so it's a lot darker around here than it actually is outside. That's pretty much why all these nocturnal creatures hang about.”
    “You afraid of the dark?” Su snickered.
    He frowned, “I'm not scared of the dark. There's worse things out there. Like Choen Palm; I'm not afraid of her either.” The look on the young girl's face was one of a mocking doubt.
    “You all must remain vigilant. Enemies can appear at any moment. Take up formation and prepare yourselves. I am almost positive that the Agasura will strike when we least expect-” Before she could finish her sentence the talons of an unfamiliar creature closed in on her head. In the seconds Kooh drew her dagger Peorth had already drawn her spear and stabbed the creature, dragging it to the ground and impaling it a second time. As she withdrew the bloody weapon it let out one last dying cry and fell.
    “Uhh...” TJ said in disbelief.
    “How do you do that?” Thee asked.
    “Vigilance.” Peorth replied.
    The Abellan walked over and prodded the creature with his foot, jumping back in case it was not quite dead. At the realization of it being as dead a sit possibly could be, he inspected it further. There was not anything too unusual about it; it was essentially, a brown gargoyle with rather large protruding eyes, a very thin body but large wings. It suddenly turned to stone and shattered to pieces, surprising him properly.
    “These must be the gargoyles huh? Stone and all,” He muttered, “They're not as strong as I expected.”
    “Don't let your guard down too quickly kiddo. While you were out like a light we took a little trip ourselves. Some of the Agasura in the depths of the Snowfields have really stepped their game up. Gave us quite a run for our money.” Kooh told him.
    “R-really? Who was there? Where were you guys headed?”
    “We were off to the selki village. There's more to getting you ready for your showdown than just collecting the Seven y'know.” She crossed her arms and nodded. “The God's Governor's Temple is located past a haven called Xenym somewhere in the tundra. The selki are the ones that protected the haven after the Dark Moon attacked it.”
    TJ stopped suddenly and broke the formation. “The Dark Moon...” He collapsed to his knees. “There too? Was I a part of that? Was it my fault that they destroyed it?!”
    Kooh lifted him to his feet and dusted him off. “No no that wasn't your fault. You weren't a part of that raid and neither was Choen Palm. Technically, the Dark Moon didn't destroy it. It was b-” She paused, “Bested by them, but not entirely destroyed! The Little Princess went to the selki village to ask them to protect it while we were away so the humans didn't find it again.”
    “I see.”
    Kooh smiled bitterly. “You don't have to take everything on your shoulders kiddo. If you've got doubts, just ask. If you feel that something is your fault, talk to one of us about it and we'll set you on the right path to understanding. You're not alone, remember that! All of Yggdrasil is backing you, and we'll be with you right up 'till the final battle! Keep your head up okay?”
    He smiled. “Sorry you guys always have to cheer me up-” Kooh made an 'x' with her arms and shook her head. “No apologies huh?” He laughed, “Okay, okay that's fair. Still, I'll be counting on you from here on out. We've got a long way to go.”
    “Can you idiots save the pleasantries for later? We've surrounded by these flying rats.” Su hissed glancing around cautiously.
    Just as she had declared, a swarm of gargoyles quickly approached them from all sides. Using their ability of flight they had various vantages on their Cerebian enemies. All five of them looked startled by this the young ninja excluded.
    “That's...not normal for them. They shouldn't be flying around these parts either. Definitely weird.” Kooh said.
    “Battle stations everyone! Keep the formation and keep a close eye on your allies' blind spots and flanks! Be wary of your choice of spells and stances also!” Peorth commanded them. “On my signal engage the enemy!” In the few seconds that passed the tension rose and she raised a hand, “Now!”
    Kooh was the first to strike, bringing out a series of icicles with a wave of her hand. Two of them fell and a couple others were wounded but they still proceeded. TJ took a few swings with his guitar in a vain attempt to fight them off, and was quickly pulled away from them by his companion. She plunged her dagger into the ground and icy wall arose from it.
    “This'll buy us a bit of time. Let's help out Su on my side in the meantime TJ!” Kooh told him.
    “I've got you covered!” He shouted back. With a strum of his guitar a misty aura surrounded the group and slowed down the approach of the gargoyles. “I remember this one from my fight with Su. I'll keep you healthy as much as I can but...be careful, okay?”
    Su stomped the ground and the earth was torn up and arose in the form of sharp rocks, piercing another pair of gargoyles. “This clearly isn't gonna cut it. Earth Mages aren't well known for their area of effect spells you know!” She said. She drew her dagger and dashed closer, being swarmed immediately after and forced them away with two transparent green dragons that emerged from her. There were claw marks all across her body but they did not deter her. “Get to work you pansies!”
    Thee charged through the crowd slashing as he did and bringing some down in his wake, one of them narrowly avoiding his attack and grabbing him by the shoulders, pulling him off the ground. “I'm caught!” He cried out to his guild mates. The guild-master's spear narrowly missed the back of his head and pierced the gargoyle that held him, her appearing shortly after and pulling them back to the ground. Thee stumbled to his feet and she charged past him scaring their enemies away with a pair of swings from her spear.
    Some of the gargoyles had finally managed to get around or over the wall and quickly soared down towards TJ and Kooh.
    “We're in quite the pinch TJ,” Kooh laughed, “Any ideas?”
    “Uhh...yeah, actually!” He answered. He closed his fist and held it up to the sky, releasing a tiny ball of light that flew above their heads. “Sunlight!” It suddenly burst into a bright flash of light and blinded their enemies and Su.
    “You-how about a warning next time jackass?!” She snarled while rubbing her eyes.
    “My mistake!” He took the chance he had to act and augmented the weapons of his companions.
    “Not bad at all TJ! Got any other spells that can keep 'em back? Buy me a few seconds and I'll clean 'em out.”
    “I know of a couple.” He smiled guiltily. “Watch out guys, I'm bringing in the storm! Lightning Storm!” He shouted pointing a finger to the skies. Dark clouds assembled in the grey skies and lightning rained down upon them, friends and foes alike.
    “TJ I think you might be a bigger threat than the Agasura!” Thee cried out, striking down a pair of enemies with a horizontal swing and spinning into the crowd.
    “At least I gave you guys a proper warning this time. Besides...I'm probably the only thing standing between you and your death so you might wanna hold your tongue!” As he said that he strummed his guitar and a series of multicoloured ripples emerged from beneath his companion and healed his wounds slightly. In spite of the attitude he gave he knew he was running out of mana, and quickly.
    “Keep 'em coming. You know we'd be lost without you!”
    “Alright, time to shine! Get behind me TJ.” Kooh said. The Abellan took cover behind her while Su shot down their enemies with an icy bow. Kooh suddenly drew a group of daggers while a massive bullseye upon a wall emerged from the ground. She began to throw her weapons that would pin the enemies to the bullseye until she threw the final dagger, causing the target to explode. The Abellan started coughing on the SP potion he was drinking and looked at her with disbelief.
    “What on Jienda was that?!” He exclaimed.
    “No time to talk, gotta take out the others. TJ, Su, hit the floor!” They did as she insisted and a massive iceberg appeared above them. On her command it began to break apart and a series of icicles shot out towards the gargoyles, easily felling them while others would drift past them. Kooh took a knee and took a deep breath. “I wouldn't recommend using two fifth skills in a row,” She chuckled. “That and the other spells really take their toll. Mind if I leave the rest to you kids?”
    “I can handle myself.” Su muttered.
    “Looks like you've gotten rid of most of the ones on our side Kooh,” TJ said. “Su could probably handle the-” He was cut off mid-sentence as he caught a glimpse of one of the gargoyles clawing at her scalp and pulling on her hair as she cursed and swatted at it. “H-hang on Su!” With a wave of his hand five tiny orbs of light appeared around him. “Five Arrows of Light!” They shot towards the gargoyle and collided with it, felling it.
    “It's been way too long...” The sullen look on her face said that it would refuse any discussion on the matter.
    “I would recommend you keep your distance Thee. This skill can potentially be dangerous to allies, without proper supervision.” Peorth told him.
    “You certainly know how to stay calm in a crisis Peorth.” Thee chuckled as he leapt to cut down a gargoyle and fell back. His face and armour were a tad bloody and scraped but he was still able to move naturally.
    “I am a guild-master after all.” She dashed away from him to a point that she deemed a safe distance, and leapt through the air, thrusting her spear into the ground and impaling those that followed her. “There are only a few left! We must persist!”
    “The wrecking crew's got your back Little Princess!” Kooh said drawing throwing daggers with one hand and juggling SP potions with the other.
    “That's my line.” Thee laughed. He took three mighty swings with his blade and spun around to cut down the gargoyle that was hitting his back.
    “Only two left! You guys have got this!” TJ cheered.
    Kooh threw two more daggers and both pierced the gargoyles that Thee was fighting, causing them to hit the ground with dying screams.
    “Dude! Those were mine.” Thee furrowed his brows. Kooh winked and stuck her tongue out.
    The team rendezvoused where TJ and Su were. Peorth declared that if they were to rest, that they would likely have no more than five to ten minutes before more Agasura take the place of their fallen brethren.
    TJ chuckled gently upon seeing the group in such a state. Su had claw marks across her face and her hair was a mess because of one specific gargoyle. Thee's armour was scratched and his face was a tad bloody, but he seemed alright nonetheless. Kooh and Peorth for the most part were unharmed. Peorth's clothes were slightly torn and in those places bloody marks remained but they did not faze her. They sat down and drank potions to restore their stamina while the Abellan played a rejuvenating tune for them. “So that's not normal for them huh?” He asked with a raised brow.
    “Absolutely not,” Peorth replied sipping a potion with a queen's grace, “But I am thankful that their intelligence has not seemed to improve much since the change. It is unnatural for them to do such a thing, and though they coordinated themselves into a group they lacked a leader, and so lacked order. Their attack was nothing more than disorganized.”
    “You guys went up against other Agasura right? In the Tundra? Kooh said they stepped their game up, but how exactly did they change? Was it like the gargoyles, actually having some form of teamwork?” Thee asked.
    “One question at a time good sir!” Kooh replied with an open palm.
    “Essentially that is correct,” Peorth answered, “It is not unusual for the Agasuras to work together, as you have seen throughout your journey. Though it was unlikely that they would perform a coordinated strike. What we have experienced is species that do not exist on Jienda appearing in various sections of it.”
    “So you mean species from places off of our continent? Like the other worlds?”
    “No, not quite. Species that exist only within the confines of the Instance Dungeons. I cannot quite say how exactly they have successfully escaped from there, but it is a sign of ill omens. This may occur around the other Instance Dungeons that exist, so we must be wary and inform both the adventurers and the citizens of the cities alike. Should the guardians escape...” She shook her head, “It will be the Legion War all over again.”
    “You've gotta give me the details on that later,” Thee looked around uneasily, “Personally I think it'd be best if we got the hell outta here. More gargoyles are spawning around us.”
    “That would be the best course of action. Everyone, let us prepare to leave.”
    “Princess, I think it'd be for the best if we held back a bit. That situation was a teensy bit out of the blue buuut we...did go a tad overboard. Don'tcha' think?” Kooh asked.
    Peorth nodded. “I am in agreement. The use of fifth skills may have been unnecessary, but we must be wary of our mana usage. Using the Divine Arts and certain skills will spend what we have, and we will not be able to restore it as easily. It may be best if we alternate positions as the situation proves necessary, and utilize our Special Power when necessary. Mind yourselves, you should use anything within your arsenal should you find yourself in danger.”
    “Got it Chief. You be careful too.” TJ said.

    The group pressed on and TJ stole a couple glances about the area. He saw a group of snakes with flower petals growing around their heads, but that was not what had really caught his attention.
    “There's...graves. Broken graves scattered around here.” He muttered in disbelief.
    Just as he had said in the open patches where the gnarled trees did not stand were a series of graves, oft broken or damaged, the names that marked them faded or covered in venom, webs or scratches. The fences that surrounded them also were damaged, and the gates that held them were torn down along with their arches. Some of the tombstones were knocked down, the graves dug up and at times, the coffins with their inhabitants lay open. The remains of spiders and snakes alike surrounded them.
    “Destroyed by both human and Agasura alike, it seems. Vandals, as the humans call them. Vanir had told me that the humans wished to bury their dead here to prevent grave robbers, which proved to be a very dangerous task, once safer. The Agasura had not always gathered so close to the city, but since people actually began coming here they came from across the Dark Forest to hunt. The family of the deceased began to hire adventurers to ensure the safety of those in mourning, and for the transportation of their cask. In spite of their efforts, it still proved too little to scare off thieves. It's a shame...” Peorth explained.
    Su shook her head. “'A shame' doesn't even begin to fuckin' describe it.” She hissed. “Humans can't even find peace when they've kicked the bucket? They already steal from each other and kill each other when they're alive. Why do they need to take from those who've already lost so much? How do we know we'll be safe from them when we die?!”
    Kooh placed a hand on the young girl's head and received a glare in turn, “You have to believe in them kiddo,” She continued beaming, “I can't speak for all the humans in the world, but I think there are good people out there. People like Vanir and Tetty and Imhotep just to name a few. Whether they're religious or not, even if they've got nothing to gain from assisting us they still do it anyway. When you parted with your body, they gave you a traditional Elfa style funeral. Both you, and Moran were given these because of them. Tetty even stood up for TJ when everyone in the city wanted him thrown in jail!”
    The Abellan gave a slight nod. “I couldn't blame them for their decision, but under the leadership of one we can change what the many believe. Peorth lead you guys and found me, and here we are on our way to save the world!” He chuckled.
    “You're all stupidly optimistic and I'll turn in my grave before I agree with any of you morons.” Su said.
    “It's a start, at least.”
    Peorth and Thee continued to lead the team onwards, drawing their weapons as the Flower Snakes caught on to their presence and approached.
    “Prepare yourselves! Though one of the weaker creatures in the Dark Forest their bite can still be quite dangerous!” Peorth shouted.
    “Right behind ya' Princess!” Kooh answered twirling her dagger.
    Two approached from the front, Thee broke formation and just above the ground, taking one of the snakes with the width of his sword. It slithered over to his leg and attempted to bite him but its fangs only met his blade, and soon after the creature did also.
    “So far so good Peorth. These ones seem to be acting pretty normal.” Thee stated.
    “Don't let your guard down so quickly or you'll be getting an unwanted piercing” Kooh grinned, “Snake bites!”
    “That's cold...” Thee shuddered.
    “Ten points for trying?” She grinned.
    “There's another.” TJ pointed out when he spotted a Flower Snake approaching from the rear. He readied his guitar and swept it across the ground. The weapon missed as the snake sprung from the ground and dug its fangs into his arm. “O-ouch! Get it off!” He wailed waving his arm about in Kooh's direction.
    “Hold still and I'll kill it kiddo.” Kooh answered calmly. At her request he finally stopped but looked away while biting his lip. She grabbed it by the tail and sliced it in two, finding herself at a loss as she noticed the upper half still remained attached. “Persistent little buggers aren't they? This might sting a bit so be ready.” She squeezed the head and its grip loosened on his arm. She threw the corpse away shortly after while TJ closed the wound using the healing spell Peorth taught him.
    Su caught one that approached and easily put it down with Earth Dragon. “These guys are really weak. If this is the best Asmodeus can dish out he's in for a beating,” She snickered.
    Peorth tugged on a set of vines and looked to the rest of the party, “Though Kooh's pun leaves something to be desired-”
    “Princess!” She cried.
    “-what she said rings true. Thankfully it seems the gargoyles have chased away the others and inhabited where they once resided, so we will not be seeing many in the near future. I would recommend you all brace yourselves should we encounter any Arachne. These are some of the more deadly Agasura in the Dark Forest. They camouflage themselves to blend in with their surroundings and snare their prey with the webs they spin. Once their prey is caught, they poison it and strike when it is weak.”
    “P-poison? That doesn't sound good at all...” TJ muttered, climbing up last.
    “Don't worry TJ. If you do get poisoned I'll suck it out for ya. But that service will cost you extra!” Kooh said with a wink. Peorth gave her a blank stare and she patted the guild master on the back. “I'm just kidding Princess! Don't look so serious! I know a good healing spell for curing poison and to stop bleeding too.” The Abellan laughed dryly at her joke.
    “I never was that fond of climbing trees. These ones even more so than those back in the Forest. They're so...you know, topsy-turvy!”
    “I'm right there with you on that one,” Thee said, leading the group this time. “Gotta watch your-” He paused as his feet found themselves stuck in a sticky material. “Well shit.” A camouflaged spider appeared from the shadows and spit poison in his face. He let out an agonizing cry and viciously rubbed his face in a desperate attempt to get it out while frantically trying to escape the web.
    Peorth leapt in from behind him and thrusted her spear into the spider's abdomen. The creature let out a loud screech upon the impact and after she pulled it out, kicking it from the branch the group stood on. “You have let your guard down Thee. The Agasura around here may be weak, but we should not underestimate them so easily.” She cut the webs with her weapons and nodded to Kooh, who saluted her in turn.
    Kooh approached and placed both hands on Thee, and a gentle blue glow emanated from both. She reached into her pants pocket and held out a handkerchief. “Here Thee, you can borrow my hankie to wipe off that venom. Regardless of where you get it on you, it'll still poison you, only If it touches your skin though! That bug must have been extra vicious if it aimed for the eyes.”
    “That's clearly weird,” Su said, “Can we get a move on? Pandora will die of boredom before we get to her. It's either her or me. You choose,” She grinned, “You can have both, if you like.”
    “Thanks,” Thee handed the handkerchief back to Kooh, “Don't be like that Su. We'll get there in good time; and hell, I'd rather we take our time than risk one of poisoned again. Or dead. The literal kind of dead.”
    “Not gonna happen! Not on my watch!” TJ declared.
    “Yeah yeah white knights and whatnot blah blah blah...can we go?” She gave Thee a push and he broad jumped from the branch to a nearby platform cobbled together with stones and covered with moss, alike to those that were further back.
    Peorth jumped across after and took the chance to warn her guild mates of other dangers. “If you look ahead you can catch a glimpse of the walking flowers. They may look harmless but they have fangs hidden behind their lips. There may also be more arachne, be on your guard.”
    “Walking flowers? I saw those on Toad Mountain when I met Curt! Those weird little flowers that walked on their leaves right?”
    Peorth shook her head once more and TJ gave her a questioning gaze. “They are essentially the same, but what you saw are a sub-species of the creature. The walking flowers are visually different, but they cannot survive in the climates of Toad Mountain. Their attack patterns are alike, but the walking flowers are less vicious and also much weaker than their counterpart.”
    “I guess those guys are like the prirings huh? There's a couple different types of their kind. Kinda makes you wonder what the other Agasura might have.”
    “I'd rather not know.” Su said.

    The part of the Dark Forest they next found themselves in had seemed a tad more structured than the others. A pair of trees stood sentry to what TJ had sought out, another Stone of Iris. A pale white light emanated from the top of it and beckoned him to save. Small yellow bushes decorated the ground surrounding the trees, and walking flowers wandered all around. The tree branches seemed to be the safest route that would lead directly to the stone.
    “There it is! The stone is just over there!” He cheered.
    “The trees might be our best bet. I think we should go across them and avoid all of those walking flowers.” Thee suggested.
    Peorth shook her head. “I am almost certain that they are infested with arachne. The walking flowers can only move so freely because there are no webs to constrict them here. Should we take to the trees, we will be ambushed without a doubt.”
    “I'm with the boss on this one,” Su crossed her arms. “The lack of flowers up there spells bad news.”
    “So it's unanimous huh? Ground route ahoy!” Kooh said pointing straight ahead.
    Peorth lead the way foward and signalled for Thee, Su and TJ to take one side of the tree while she and Kooh clear the other. Su suggested that the reason she split them up would be to lower the risk of them being ambushed from the bushes or from their blind spot due to the tree's trunk. The trio found three flowers approaching.
    “Get ready.” Su drew her dagger.
    The other two readied their weapons and stormed the nearest flowers. Su rushed over and came to a sliding halt, performing a low sweep with her left leg and knocking the creature off balance to thrust her dagger through it's teeth and out from the other side of the creature. With a jumping slash Thee easily cut the second in half.
    “Watch your backs you two!” TJ shouted out as the third approached.
    Su twirled on the ball of her heels and dashed towards it, diving and preparing to cut it down but being met with a blast of pollen. She violently coughed and eventually dropped her dagger as the rest of her body too fell limp.
    “Wh-what the hell?! I...can't...move...” She groaned struggling to shift her body in the slightest.
    “Paralyzing pollen? That's...not good.” Thee thrusted his sword into the creature and tossed it aside.
    TJ was looking up horrified, “It's about to get much, much worse!”
    Arachne hanging from webs descended around them and landed, each opening their mouths and baring their chelicerae at their victims.
    “Princess, look at this. The flower I just killed seemed to have produced this.” Kooh swept some pollen upon the tip of her dagger and gave the guild master a closer look.
    “Fascinating,” Peorth swept it from the blade and rubbed it between her fingers, leaving her companion shocked, “It creates a certain...numbness. It likely holds the intent to paralyze a larger foe. Potentially to perform something similar to the arachnes' means of killing a foe?” At that moment a group of arachne emerged from the tree branches and landed around the two. “Kooh, take us to the other party immediately!”
    “Right away Princess!” Kooh offered her a hand as two wings emerged from her back. She crouched slightly and shot up into the air as the multicoloured spiders shot their venom where their targets once stood. The two kept altitude above where the other three found themselves trapped and surrounded, safe for the time being due to a barrier TJ had created.
    “I dunno how long I can hold this.” TJ chuckled, the breaths between the strum of his guitar increased steadily. The arachne surrounding them hissed and spat poison while they clawed at the barrier with their spindly blue legs.
    “Let me down here Kooh. I shall clear a path and we will respond accordingly. I'll give you orders once we regroup. You know what to do, correct?” Peorth drew her spear with her free hand.
    “Of course! I'll be right behind you Princess.” Kooh answered.
    She held the guild master's hand with both of hers and began to swing her. When she let go the guild master performed two flips before placing both her feet at the base of the head of the weapon and tightly wrapping herself around the pole. As she reached the destination in her descent, she shouted, “Wrath of the Dragon!” and shattered both TJ's barrier and the surrounding area. “Rally unto me my companions! The time to strike back is now!”
    The fractured earth came down in a cloud of dust and hid the group on the inside of the veil.
    “Ch-Chief? How did you-” TJ's thought was quelled by Peorth's hand.
    “There is no time for questions. We must act.” He offered a silent nod in response and Thee took position in front of TJ.
    “Keep an eye on Su will ya'? We'll handle these guys.”
    “You think I need your help? Get over yourself.” Su remarked.
    TJ stole a glance at her and grinned. “Talk back when you're not incapacitated Su. You can't fight anything like that.”
    “You think I need my arms and legs to kick your ass? I'll gnaw at your legs if it'll shut you up.”
    Peorth and Thee disappeared into the dust and TJ remained on guard stealing glances within the veil in hopes that the two would not be approached. Su struggled to shit her fingers with furrowed brows and grit teeth.
    “It looks like we're safe for now.” He gripped his guitar tighter. The sounds of combat around them and the battle cries of his teammates made him wary. Without knowing where they were, healing them and supporting them would be a difficult task. On the other hand, if he took his eyes off of Su, she could be attacked while he remained focused on the others. “You holding up okay? I think the Chief and Kooh might know a spell to cure the pollen.”
    “Do I look okay to you? 'Cause I am! I'm fuckin' great!” He smiled. If she was berating him then she was alright, for the most part.
    The sound of hissing caught him off guard and he raised his guitar with trembling hands, searching around him for the cause. Three arachne descended from the tree branches and surrounded the two.
    “O-oh...this is bad. This is really bad.”
    “Kill them. Like, now.”
    He took a deep breath and closed his eyes for but a moment. “I'm on it!” Two arachne remained hanging next to each other and he challenged them first. Taking a swing at the first, he overestimated and only cut the web as it released it, landing on the ground next to him. He twirled on his heel and raised the guitar over his head as he did, bringing it down on the creature only to find his weapon colliding with the ground as it leaped to the side. The swing reverberated from his arms to his torso leaving him shaken up, and the second arachne made its move then to leap over to him and bite into his arm. He cried out as he dropped his weapon to punch the spider twice and force it to let go. “I'm just a bit rusty...” He chuckled through grit teeth, holding his bloody wound.
    “Yeah that's great and all but I'd rather not be eaten so get to work!” Su hissed eyeing the third arachne approaching her.
    “Got it.” He picked up his guitar and strummed it twice. “Two Arrows of Lights!” On the third strum the arrows shot towards the spider and stopped it for a brief while, causing it to hiss at him and back away from his companion. “Alright, now for you two.” The arachne on his left hissed and spit poison at him, to which he raised his guitar to block. The strength in his arm began to fail him and he lowered the guitar shortly after to take a deep breath and grip the dripping wound once more. This is bad, he thought to himself. The other arachne skittered towards him and he stopped its approach with a crouch behind his guitar's base. Immediately after blocking it he shoved it away and placed the guitar on his back. He held out both hands and a chunk of ice appeared before them. “Ice Storm!” He began to spin and the chunk of ice split into many and followed suit. When both he and the spell came to a halt, he gripped his guitar's neck with both hands. “Elemental Mastery!” The weapon froze over and he dashed towards one of the two and leapt towards it with his weapon armed. He slammed the guitar over its head and hit it once more to crush the abdomen, then kicked it aside. Now for the next one. As he dashed towards the other, he let his bitten arm drag the guitar along as he ran past his companion, “Hailstone!” A small white ring opened where his hand was and a series of icicles emerged from it and pelted the creature as it attempted to devour Su again.
    “How long do you plan on keeping this at bay? You could have just blasted the damn thing with any of those spells you used in your other fights, dumbass!”
    “We're trying to be mana efficient here remember?” He turned his focus to the other arachne and watched as it too, watched him approach. So long as it remained where it was, he would have no problems bringing it down and moving on to the third. He leapt towards it and slammed his guitar down, missing it once more as it skittered away from him. It had to be the one that bit him the first time, which meant its actions may follow the same pattern. In spite of his body's reaction, he mustered his strength to his legs and dove forward to avoid the creature as it leapt at him in turn. Remembering what Su had taught him during their training session, with a wave of his hand he threw a small ball of water towards it and managed to get some on its body and legs. Moments after he froze it and rose to his feet. “Nowhere to run now.” He walked over to it and raised his guitar above it, bringing it down three times, and two more just to be sure that the creature was dead. “Alright Su I'm coming now!”
    “Could you be any slower?!”
    He caught a glimpse of the spider closing in on her and preparing to bite her. In a desperate attempt to stop it, he tossed his guitar with all his might and sprinted towards it. “Elemental Mastery!” His fists were hardened with sand followed by a second coating of rock and he dove at the spider, the two tumbled away from Su until he found himself atop it. Without a second to spare he immediately started pounding away at the abdomen until there were hardly any remains of it. He found himself coated in a strange green liquid afterwards. “I got it!” He walked back towards Su and she frowned.
    “Don't come near me. You're gross.”
    “Is that what you say to someone who just saved your life?” She clicked her tongue. “I'll accept that too.”
    Peorth and Thee approached, the guild master nodding with approval.
    “Well done TJ. You made the right choice in that scenario and handled it well despite the given circumstances. Though you were correct to follow my orders in our mana consumption, I must amend the statement. It would be best if we used it as the situation will call for it. If you find your allies in danger, do not be afraid to use more than you would under normal events. We should not risk our allies' lives for such a small matter.” She blinked and reached out to him startling him slightly. “My apologies, but you are hurt.”
    “Eh? This?” He chuckled, “It's nothin', just a scratch.”
    “It's still bleeding.” Su said. He raised a finger to his lips and Thee laughed.
    Peorth placed a hand to the wound and it gave off a faint glow, quickly closing it. Despite being a Bard, she was much more skilled at healing than he was. Had she been practicing?
    “Thanks Chief.”
    She gave him a nod and whistled. Kooh suddenly fell from the tree tops with her wings behind her back, and knelt down before Peorth.
    “You rang?” She placed her dagger back in the sheath and grinned at the guild master.
    “Have you cleared the other path?” Peorth asked.
    “Yes'm. Every last one of 'em Ma'am.” Peorth stared at Kooh for a couple of moments and she blushed, and placed both hands to her face. “Don't stare at me like that Princess!”
    “You two are making me feel embarrassed doing things like that.” Thee said rubbing the back of his neck.
    “Can we get a move on here? If I wanted to be face down in the dirt I'd be dead.” Su muttered. Kooh walked over and crouched down in front of her. “No, not you. I'd rather have that moron TJ carry me than you.”
    “Just close the lips and enjoy the moment while it lasts kiddo. The next person who marries you might be the father of the next God's Governor.” Kooh laughed.
    She lifted her up bridal-style and Su protested vehemently.
    “Let's be on our way then, shall we?” Peorth suggested.

    After a short walk the team came across their first goal, the Iris Stone that awaited atop the pedestal. TJ looked up to it and took a deep breath. How long had it been since he came across an Iris Stone? The last he had found was in the City of Iron, following his battle with Yuta. He felt his heart ache at the thought that these were the last traces of Iris' existence she left for him to find her way to her, and that he passed on the opportunity. He stole a glance down at his companions who now walked the path to a brighter future alongside him and felt a bit more secure. Within that time frame he caught Su mouthing to him, “Get on with it”. He chuckled. Looking back to the stone he reached out towards it.
    “Will you activate the Iris Stone,” It asked him.
    “Yes,” He replied.

    Peorth's shard of the Heart of Yggdrasil began to resonate and glow as the flash of light TJ saw took him to a part of his past. He saw his younger self headed somewhere, the boy wearing a serious expression. In the next picture he found himself opening the path to a shed, precious little if any light barely came in; only that from the open door. Following that he saw himself with a young girl, dressed in rags and shackles on her legs and feet, her hair rather shaggy. The two were playing a board game, which seemed to be checkers. In the next, there was three of them within the darkness, the other girl clean and well dressed, with her hair tied in twin tails. The three sat together and held hands. One final picture appeared and the three were smiling together, the unkempt girl's bangs moved aside revealing a face that looked alike to the other girl's. Twins?
    The Sound of Frequency brought him back to the frozen reality and he felt shaken up for a moment. He found the Iris visual standing before him and he listened carefully to what she had to say. “The Dark Forest was a rather tough place to get through but we've come this far. Foe Mansion isn't far from here. Will you save at this location,” It asked. TJ frowned. Iris very rarely, if ever left useful messages to her whereabouts. Though perhaps these were thoughts that she had upon coming through these places?
    “Yes,” He answered.
    He found himself engulfed in light once more and as it cleared away there he saw the two children, the young unkempt girl on her knees and he crouched down to meet her, their pinkies interlocked.
    “Promise me you'll come back to visit,” A quiet, raspy voice requested.
    He gripped his ears to prepare for the noise and found himself back in the present. Placing a hand to the stone and holding one hand to his left ear, he waited the sound out. Afterwards he climbed down the ladder to meet with his companions.
    “So, what'd you see? Anything interesting?” Kooh asked with a gleam in her eyes.
    He opened his mouth for a moment and closed it, then smiled at her with a shake of his head. “No, it was a pretty bland memory. Let's get a move on, Su looks like she's ready to gnaw at your shoulder Kooh.” Just as he said Su was glaring at them with grit teeth.
    “Princess-do you wanna burp the baby?”
    “Gettin' real tired of your shit.” Su muttered.
    The three clambered down the ladder and off of the two slabs of land towards another that lead uphill. Peorth pulled on the strings of a ladder that waited at the base and climbed up briefly after, followed by Thee, TJ and Kooh. As they ascended the hill, at the top of it they could see Foe Mansion clearly, bats flying about from it and other mysterious creatures skittering in the darkness. The ground itself was pitch black and the trees wispy and dead.
    With good time they found themselves at the doors of the mansion, the entire place looking as if it were to fall apart at any moment. The mansion seemed to lean slightly, the broken shutters slamming against the windows only barred off by rather oddly-shaped bars that seemed to twist at the tops and bottoms. The wood purple with a black brick roof, two black double-doors with an unusual design upon them beckoning weary travellers to open them and meet the horror that awaits within.
    “Creepy,” TJ thought aloud.
    “I can walk perfectly fine now so put me down,” Su said. Since they stopped at the Iris Stone Kooh had started carrying Su on her back.
    “Are you sure you don't want me to carry you anymore? If you'll do it for me we can switch on the way back.” Su laughed mirthlessly and Kooh let her go without any fore-warning. The girl landed on her feet and sneered.
    “It will only become more difficult from here on in. I pray that you are all prepared for the challenges to come.” Peorth told them.
    “We're ready Peorth, so don't you worry about us. Just lead the way and we'll follow your lead.” Thee assured her.
    TJ and Kooh gave nods of agreement and Peorth nodded back at them. She walked towards the door and pressed a hand against each. “Then let us press on.”

    And hey don't worry about the small stuff. There's always time. I'm not going anywhere in a hurry, I can assure you of that. There's a lot of catching up I've gotta do. Maybe there's a lot for both of us.
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    TJ

    Posts : 873
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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Wed May 07, 2014 5:55 pm

    Got today's update for you. Trying to do a bit of a reward system for myself here to give a bit more of an incentive to sit down and actually work. Gotta admit, today I made some decent progress! I'd say we're about 2/3rds of the way through the chapter, since all that's left is what remains of Foe Mansion(and it's not that much really) and then the Gothic Room itself.

    Pages 66-70:
    The group changed formation, having their read stand as the vanguard. The inside proved even more eerie than its counterpart, the hardwood flooring was rotted through and the chandeliers upon the ceiling gave the room a faint buy dying light from the blue flames that lit the candles upon it. The walls had coffins stacked upon each other resting against them along with small tables featuring chipped vases and dead flowers within them. The sound of chainsaws had the both TJ and Thee rather unsettled.
    “I'm not crazy, right? You guys hear those chainsaws too,” TJ asked.
    “Loud and clear.” Su smirked. “Scared?”
    “Absolutely terrified is more like it. The last thing I want to be is a...a Cerebian burger.”
    Kooh knit her eyebrows while patting him on the head, “Don't worry too much about it TJ. I'm sure you'd be delicious. I could eat you up right now.”
    “That's not the issue here!”
    “Jokes aside, we should probably get a move on. I don't wanna face whatever's hauling those things around either but...they stand between us and Pandora. We don't have much choice in the matter,” Thee added.
    Kooh gave the three behind her a thumbs-up and began to walk through the hallway. She climbed up a rather large step with TJ quickly following up beside her. Nearby another blocked their path and the two did the same, the Absolute catching a glimpse of a girl in overalls and brown boots nearby.
    “There's...There's someone over there. Excu-” TJ cried out.
    “TJ wait,” Kooh tried to stop him but he caught her attention.
    The girl he saw turned around, a red glint in the holes of her hockey mask and her blonde braids swinging in their direction as she revved the chainsaw held by gloved hands. Upon noticing them she began to shout what sounded like terror and a war cry combined and charged towards them, TJ screaming in response.
    “W-what do we do?!”
    “Fight it off!”
    With a wave of her hand, three thin needles appeared between her fingers and she closed her fist, immediately tossing two into the creature's legs and one into it's left biceps, a series of cords with a metal plate for a shoulder in place of skin. The creature slowed down and the left arm temporarily fell limp, causing the chainsaw to drag along the wood and break it apart.
    “A robot? This just gets weirder by the second...”
    “Now's now the time to talk kiddo. We have to take it out as fast as we can!”
    “I-I'm on it!” He raised his hands skyward and pointed both towards the Agasura. “Hailstone!” Upon his words a ring opened before him and fired a barrage of icicles.
    As he performed the spell Kooh dashed towards it and came to a grinding halt after sliding past it all while drawing her dagger and leaping onto it's back. As she did the creature rose to it's full height and swatted at her as she gripped it's hair and drew her weapon back. With a fierce stab she pierced the neck and ripped the wires out, causing it to stop once and for all. The chainsaw fell to the ground and remained as it was.
    “How did you know,” TJ asked.
    “The Princess and I have scouted out Foe Mansion before,” She smiled. “These fine ladies are known as Victors. They're an awful lot more aggressive than they used to be though. The strange thing about it is, they're not Agasura. They're just robots.”
    As Peorth approached and shut down the chainsaw she examined the Victor thoroughly. “Perhaps it is not the Agasura's King's Dominion that causes them to act in such a manner. I believe someone may have come through and programmed the Victors to act in such a manner. We must be mindful that it is not only the Agasura that intend to stand in our way. There are human factions likely hidden in the shadows that seek to impede us in any ways possible. At the spearhead of this stands the Dark Moon. Though crippled, I believe that they will act again, and likely soon.” She explained. She turned her gaze to Kooh, “It would be best if we spoke of countermeasures and found allies to quell the threat should the need arise.”
    “Say the word and whoever needs to be taken down, will be.”
    “We must have patience. I feel that there's no need for such measures as of yet. There may yet be another means. We only need seek it. For the time being, our goal remains finding and defeating the Seven. Let us not lose sight of this.”
    Kooh grinned, “Of course Princess. Okay my lovelies, follow me!”
    The group nodded and followed in her stride. From their vantage point, they could see a floor a fair distance beneath them and the Victor that patrolled it. Kooh jumped down without a second thought and landed barely making a sound as she did. TJ swallowing hard, followed her stumbling as he did followed by Su, Peorth and Thee last.
    “Get ready, here comes the next one,” Thee told them.
    Kooh made her move first, drawing her ice needles and tossed them as she did the first. The Victor tumbled aside and successfully avoided all three, it continued its rampage as the girl furrowed her brows. She pointed both hands towards it and brought out two massive icicles by using the spell Ice Fear and found further disappointment as the Victor tore through them with her weapon. Su pulled the two back and tossed her dagger at it's mask causing it to stumble for a moment. In the short time she had she ran past it and kicked it in the back, knocking it down for a moment to retrieve her dagger.
    “What are you waiting for? Get on it,” Su shouted.
    As it rose to its feet Thee rushed it with a low sweep of his blade, grazing the boots as it leapt back and took a swing at Peorth Fending off the blade with the tip of her spear she skidded to a halt, and charged it again. The Victor turned to Thee and he drew his blade to fight off the chainsaw while Peorth approached its flank and thrusted her spear into it. Sparks rained from where she stabbed and the robot let out an enraged cry, nearly disarming Thee through sheer force. It turned towards the guild master and knocked her aside with the pole of her weapon while keeping it stuck in place. As it charged towards the incapacitated Peorth Kooh and Su jumped on it from both sides, thrusting their weapons into both arms. It managed to shake Kooh off while Su willingly let go to grab hold of the spear and plunge it even deeper into the Victor. Electricity ran through the weapon and across its body as it came to a stop.
    “My apologies,” The guild master said, “I was far too reckless.”
    “Try and do the world a favour and not die to a common enemy please? I mean if you're gonna go out, go out like a boss...to...you know, a guardian or something,” Su snickered.
    “I will do my best to keep to that.” The God's Governor frowned.
    Pulling both her own and Su's weapon from the Victor she tossed the dagger to her companion, “We've gotta be careful too. Jumping on it like that could've ended with one of us becoming mince meat.”
    TJ offered Peorth a hand and she rose to her feet, dusting off her dress as she did. “You okay Chief,” He asked.
    “Yes. Thank you for your concern.” She pulled her spear from the robot and stood it up by her side. “Let us proceed.”
    This time around TJ lead the group as Kooh caught up, the group finding themselves at another vantage point. Below a Victor stomped around looking rather annoyed. He took a deep breath and jumped down with his guild mates not far behind. The enraged cry of the Victor followed by a second sent a chill down his spine.
    “Kooh!” He shouted stealing a glance at her as she smiled back at him. A series of icicles tore up the ground before them and impaled the Victors feet, freezing them in place briefly.
    “Nobody told me not to be mindful of my mana consumption.” As she walked past TJ with a smile and a wink, she raised a finger to her lips and lead the engagement on the Victors.
    He could not help but laugh at her attitude as he and the others followed her. “I've got your back Kooh! Ice Storm!” As he approached the shard of ice appeared and shattered, surrounding him in icicles that assailed his enemies.
    Through the cloud following the spell's end Thee's blade emerged, spinning towards the closer of the two victor's and tearing open the chest, revealing the insides before returning to him. The two managed to break free of Kooh's binding and charged into the cloud taking separate paths. Both swung wildly in what seemed to be an attempt to clear away the haze. The first coming across Peorth with her spear pointed directly at it. At a moment's notice she assaulted it with two swings from her weapon and a third blow powerful enough to split the air in its back. To ensure it would not rise again she thrusted her spear into its back while it was fallen, which pierced the other side and she tore it open, ripping the cords out and tossing them aside.
    The haze began to dissipate and revealed TJ who was catching his breath with an uneasy smile on his face after he discovered he was the next target.
    “Ah ah ah! Not so fast,” Thee said as both Su and Kooh approached from its flanks and stabbed both feet causing it to collapse to the ground. Thee's blade came crashing down upon its back not once but twice, splitting it from the center up, leaving the head intact.
    “Thought I was a dead man there,” TJ said with a sigh of relief. “Used up a heck-ton of SP to maintain that spell's after-effect. Didn't even know I could do that.”
    Su snorted, “You'd be surprised. The Special Power skills might only have one way to use them but sometimes you can make something of it. Don't experiment too much or you'll probably die trying. Knowing you.”
    “Are you worried about him G.G,” Kooh asked with a hand to her mouth.
    “Worr-who the hell do you think you're calling G.G? I've got a name too, dumbass.”
    She smiled at the God's Governor. “As Axle once said, 'everybody gets one'.” Everyone aside from Peorth seemed rather dumbfounded by the statement.
    “It should be safer now. Let us take refuge in the next room.” Peorth suggested.
    The guild master entered a nearby doorway and inside was a staircase. She lead the way up a flight and opened another door awaiting at the top of it. Within the room was a couple of ladders that lead to platforms that likely lead to other portions of the mansion, and little else. She asked TJ to remove his rucksack and doled out some SP potions to her guild.
    “I hope there's no more of those girls lying in wait,” TJ chuckled, “just those few gave us enough trouble as is.” He paused for a moment. “You know, I think we swapped our formation too early.”
    Su glared at Kooh who placed a finger to her chin, averted her gaze and stuck her tongue out, “Whatever are you talking about Little Lamb?” He raised an eyebrow at the term that followed.
    “It is fine. There was no incident, and we have escaped unscathed. I am thankful for Kooh's decision.”
    “Oh you! Don't flatter me too much or I might have to come over there and hug you.”
    “She got you damn near killed for it,” Su muttered. “I hope you're sure that you want that idiot to lead us further into this place. I'm not risking my ass under her leadership though.”
    Kooh glomped Su to the ground and rubbed her cheek against her subordinate's, “Now you, don't be so harsh hmm? Though I like that too...”
    Su pushed her away with as much force as she could hissing, “Let go! Let go you psychotic witch!”
    “You two seem to be having a lot of fun.” Thee chuckled with a sip from his potion. At the sound of his words Kooh raised her head like a dog at the sound of treats with a glint in her eyes and he coughed with a wave of his hand. “I don't want any! Just saying!”
    She shrugged and continued to assault Su, “Your loss!”
    TJ laughed quietly as he glanced at the group before him. Though his memories of the past were lost, he felt as if he had been with his new guild all of his life, and in that time nothing had changed. They were like a family that grew over time, constantly inviting new members to be a part of them. He closed his eyes for a moment recalling what he had seen in the Stones of Iris. Each of them seemed to have their own painful history, but in spite of it they were gathered here and still smiling despite what the past had done to them. Upon him were their hopes, hopes of returning home, being reunited with family, protecting the ones they held dear. For this they fought alongside him, and would lay down their lives for him. He would do everything he could to collect his memories to become as strong as he could be and be the hero that they needed. That the world needed.
    Su finally managed to get Kooh off of her and kept her away with her dagger, muttering obscenities as she fought off her superior. Peorth returned her empty flask to the rucksack and Thee finished off his. TJ assisted the guild master to her feet and the others rose in turn.
    “Alright team, let's move out,” Kooh exclaimed with a raised fist. “Right this way, ladies and gents. The other way leads to a closed space that has a Victor in it. It's not nice.”
    “Oh thanks,” Su added, “Remind me to avoid that the next time I come back here which'll be...hm...never.”
    Kooh climbed the ladder with the others following closely behind and opened the door leading to another stairwell. The group climbed the flight carefully and exited through another door, finding themselves at the highest floor of the mansion. As the vanguard emerged through the door Kooh placed a hand to her companion's chest and stopped him in place.
    “Careful there, startle her and she'll get the jump on you. Let me handle this. Be ready to follow up okay?” Kooh approached the young crying girl surrounded by a black coat and drew her weapon.
    She paused for a moment, sheathed the weapon and drew a bubble blower. Before TJ could ask she blew three bubbles, one of them making contact with the Agasura which caused her to throw off the cloak while Kooh leapt back. The girl dressed in a gothic lolita style dress with black wings emerging from her back placed both hands in front of her as two massive pairs of fangs appeared before and behind her.
    The fangs disappeared and TJ saw his chance to strike. He approached and prepared the Ice Storm spell but felt in that moment he was in danger. The crimson eyes remained locked in place with his own and in moments a thin stream of lightning surged towards him. Kooh pushed him aside and for the brief moment her hands touched him he could feel a jolt of electricity running through his body. She collapsed to the ground as Su and Peorth leapt over their incapacitated companion, Peorth plunging her weapon through the Agasura's chest and Su's through the neck. The body fell limply to the ground and the two retrieved their weapons.
    “K-Kooh!” TJ cried out lifting her body in his arms. “Are you alright?!” Her body temperature was awfully high and her hair rather frizzy, but she still offered him a smile.
    “I'm just peaches and gravy.” She turned her gaze to the guild master who wore a solemn expression. “Sorry you had to do that Princess. I dropped the ball on that one, didn't I?”
    Peorth shook her head and knelt down to place one of Kooh's arms over her shoulder. “Worry not for such a matter. Your safety is the only thing that concerns me right now. It will not do for me to lose you here.”
    “Here TJ, lemme' help Peorth on this one. We'll need you and Su as our front-line until Kooh can move again,” Thee suggested. With a nod he raised Kooh's arm and handed her off to Thee and the two carried her from there.
    Before they started moving Kooh focused on Peorth for a couple of moments. “Hey Princess, will you come a little closer,” She asked weakly. Peorth's sapphires eyes shifted to her weakened companion and she tilted her head to hear what Kooh had to say. Swiftly and gently her lips touched the guild master's cheek and Peorth immediately flushed red.
    “Wh-” Thee nearly let go of Kooh in pure disbelief.
    Kooh smiled with her face much less lit up than her superior's and said, “I love you Princess.”
    Peorth averted her eyes and muttered, “Your thoughts are more than enough.”
    Su snickered, “Are you two going out yet? Might as well start now if you're not.”
    “Not happening! My little Princess is spoken for.” She grinned.
    TJ watched the two in shock and disbelief. “Sh-she is? Who's the other?”
    The girl smiled devilishly. “That's our secret.”
    “Kooh please.” The guild master muttered.
    “Sorry boys, my lips on the matter are sealed. Unless you wanna open them with a prince's kiss!”
    TJ waved off the comment. “N-no thanks. Let's keep going. Stay close Su, I think I'll need your help.” Eyebrows knit, he carefully gripped his guitar as he moved forward.
    “You don't need to tell me twice.” She answered as she twirled her dagger.
    After climbing a few large steps they came across a pedestal with two meager ladders on both sides that seemed as if they would break if someone was to climb them.
    “An Iris Stone,” TJ muttered. “Hang on a sec' I'm gonna see what it has to say.” He climbed the ladder and gazed upon the Stone of Iris. Before him stood another memory, and a key to piecing his past together, and perhaps hers. He reached out to the stone and gently touched it, the light growing stronger.
    “Will you activate the Iris Stone?” It asked him.
    “Yes,” He answered.

    He saw his younger self hand in hand with the young Peorth, the two emerging from a castle at what seemed to be the crown of Yggdrasil itself. In the following picture the two were running through the streets, people watching as they did. Following that, they stood at a stall where a young girl with unkempt hair, dressed in rags sat surrounded by grown men, clutching a loaf of bread tightly to her knees. The next picture revealed the group dissipating and the young girl being lead by the hand by Peorth. In the final piece, she was dressed in a regal outfit featuring the kingdom's herald, an ornate dagger resting before her as she bowed before the king and his daughter.
    The Sound of Frequency awakened him from his memory and he gazed upon Iris' visual. “After traversing the Dark Forest we've found ourselves in Foe Mansion. Deep in the heart of the mansion resides Pandora, the one who wields the box of calamity. I would recommend you save at this location,” The visual told him.
    “Yes,” He replied.
    Engulfed in light once more he saw his past self standing before a house that was partially encased in ice, massive chunks of it broken apart due to the ice emerging through the house itself. As he gazed upon it, the voice of a young girl rang through his mind. “Promise me that you will still the ripples in that girl's heart, so she may find peace.”
    The Sound of Frequency caught him off guard once more and he took a knee. Though he was getting used to it, it still proved overwhelming. Though he found himself with a new outlook on the scenario, he had no conclusive evidence as to what had happened to the twins. For the time being, he knew Peorth had been involved, and that a calamity had occurred. A costly one at that.

    This one took a few good hours but I'm feeling good about it. All that time I spent away from my writing I've done a lot of thinking, and one thing I noticed is that I wanted to work on the movement of the characters so the way they did things didn't feel so robotic. It's something I've been working on since redoing Frequency, but I think I can honestly say it's improved! These days I find myself utilizing normal attacks rather than skills(partially since I can't remember what they look like and/or describe them) but giving more variety to how they're performed, depending on who does it. Su and Kooh have a more acrobatic style, while Peorth falls back on her teachings from before leaving Asgard, along with her own spin on the style. TJ and Thee don't have a particular style, but Thee focuses more on the use of skills and TJ spells, occasionally trying to batter his enemies with his weapon. Hopefully over time I'll be able to expand the style to fit TJ and Su since they'll be relying on each other when using the Frequency, not just for spells and whatnot. Truthfully, this was all stuff that came to mind while I was planning for Innocent, and I'm hoping when I do go back to finish it off I can implement it and perfect it.
    As for the characters themselves, I'm working on fleshing them out a tad as their stories unfold. With such an extensive cast, I want them all to get a moment to shine, though I won't be able to focus too much on the lesser supporting cast. For now I've got plans for the main characters, certain people in the supporting cast and the backstories for three of the four God's Governors. It's gonna be one hell of a ride, and I've tried reading and experimenting with a lot of new content of varying types, so I'm hoping I can successfully make an emotional rollercoaster out of this one. Stories that could really grab someone's heart, and most of the time rip it to pieces fascinate me sometimes lol. With this one though, I wanna keep the happy-go-lucky feeling of LT while throwing in unexpected feels. With this, I'll take a huge step towards creating my own original story. Until then, I'll keep my fingers crossed that this one turns out good. Whenever you feel up to it, drop in and lemme know what you think. Comments are always welcome.
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    TJ

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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Mon May 12, 2014 1:58 pm

    Pages 70-79:
    “You ready or what?” Su shouted up to him.
    “Careful with how loud your voice is. If we can sneak past those other Vampanelars, better that we do. With Kooh out of commission and the two of us supporting her, our force is pretty weak, don't you think,” Thee asked. Su glared at him from the corner of her eye and snorted in response. “Glad we had this discussion.”
    TJ climbed down from where he stood and drew his guitar, giving a nod to his company and leading on with Su closely behind. They climbed a couple more large steps and found two Vampanelars standing on the two ahead of them, quietly crying beneath their cloaks. TJ turned back to the group and requested they follow his lead. Taking to the wall and carefully sidling across it to stay out of the Vampanelars' sight, he and the others made their way across it and past the tables that lined the walls towards a dead end. He signalled for them to wait and made his way towards the end of the platform, carefully preparing to climb down while minding the Vampanelar staring right at him. He waved to his guild mates and Peorth gazed back as he pointed to Kooh and awkwardly gestured for them to throw her down to him. Thee gave him a thumbs-up in response. As he started climbing down he froze in place as he caught a glimpse of a crimson glare and the grin of the Agasura that carefully watched him.
    “Oh shit!” He desperately began to slide down the ladder as quickly as he could as the Agasura followed after him with a nosedive, pulling him down and pinning him against the ground where two others awaited him. Her grin widened as she opened her mouth and hissed, leaning in towards his neck while he desperately tried to break free of her hold. With a last resort he slammed his head into her cheek and managed to crawl away as the other two approached. As the first recovered, Su fell from the platform with a bone-crushing landing and plunged her dagger through the Vampanelar's neck.
    “You're too stupid to be a leader! How many times have I told you-” She ripped her dagger out of the creature's neck and leapt in the way of the two to raise a barrier and stop their lightning from shocking her companion. “Not to get yourself killed! Could've been a damn vampire man-slave for the rest of your life, dumbass!”
    “T-thanks Su.” TJ muttered as he stumbled to his feet and drew his guitar.
    Su pushed him aside and let the barrier fade while the two Agasura cackled and drew claws to hunt down their prey. The two focused on Su first, both surrounding her and viciously taking swipes offering TJ the opportunity to dash in and land a single blow to the ribs on one of them. She turned to him and fired a stream of lightning that he dived to avoid, only to find himself dragged from the ground, disarmed and tossed to the other who caught him and gripped him by the neck.
    “Just one time...” Su hissed lunging towards her and stopping mid-way as her companion was used as a meat shield.
    “Got you now!” TJ uttered raising a hand to her face. “Arrow of Light!” A single jet of light was emitted from the palm of his hand and collided with the creature, causing her to lose her grip on him and find the two in swapped positions. TJ gripped her by the face and dragged her to the ground, violently bringing her down time and again. As the second flew towards him Su tossed her dagger into the creature's ribcage and dashed past it, she drew the blade and plunged it into the other side, pulled its hair and back and slit the throat, dropping the limp body as she did. Meanwhile TJ was still pounding his enemy into the ground while he gasped for breath.
    “Hey stupid,” She muttered, “you can stop anytime. That thing's as dead as it'll ever be.” He turned to her breathing heavily while covered in blood and dropped the corpse without a second glance. “Creep! What's with that look of blood lust?”
    “Blood lust? Do you think I like doing this?” He retorted.
    “You seem to have the most violent way of fighting out of everyone here. So...yeah I'd say you do.”
    He took a glance at the corpses Su left behind and glanced back at her with raised eyebrows. “Those things are bleeding out of holes you created. That one has three.”
    “I got the job done and I did it quickly. No one said it had to be clean.”
    “Now now kiddies now's not the time to fight amongst ourselves,” Kooh chuckled as Thee carried her over. “We're all friends here right? Though I gotta admit, both of those kills are kinda nasty. You two don't hold back do you?” TJ chuckled nervously and Su scoffed. “You can kiss and make up now.”
    “If you make jokes like that on a regular Kooh, you might just hit a nerve.” Thee added.
    “We're just having a little fun.” She smiled.
    “Even in times of war, sometimes humour and time to rest are necessities.” Peorth said as she handed TJ's guitar to him, receiving a word of thanks in turn.
    “You get me Princess!” Peorth took the other arm and they carried on.
    Nearby they found another ladder that lead back up to another portion of the mansion. Su insisted that she lead, since TJ would likely get himself killed if he was in charge a second time. He had considered protesting the latter thought, but gracefully accepted and followed her as she began to climb, Peorth following him and Thee carrying Kooh up after them. The moment Su reached the top she stopped in place for only a moment, pulling herself up with incredible speed all while drawing her weapon. As TJ pulled himself up afterwards, he only caught a glimpse of the God's Governor with her weapon plunged through the heart of a Vampanelar.
    “H-huh? What just happened?” He asked as he glanced around the surrounding area. The Vampanelar's cloak slowly drifted down as Su arose.
    “I killed it. What does it look like,” She answered.
    “That was...quick. How'd you manage it?”
    She walked over to the wall and tapped it twice with her hand. TJ approached as the others made their way up and he noticed markings on the wall. “Climbed up, leapt off of here.” She pointed to the cloak. “Grabbed that to hide my jump and came down on the bitch. That answer your question?”
    “Yep.” He was both impressed and rather shocked. He considered himself rather lucky when the two fought there were no walls.
    “Let's move.” Su opened a door with a spiralling staircase and lead the way down. As they neared the bottom the sound of creatures cackling reverberated around the room and an eerie chill filled the air. Emerging through the door they found themselves in what seemed to be the basement of Foe Mansion, a series of small cloaked ghosts carrying scythes drifted about with blue wisps following in their wake. As he saw them TJ gripped his chest tightly and shook his head.
    “I think I'm fine now you two. Go to him, Princess,” Kooh whispered. Releasing her she stretched her arms and watched as Peorth approached TJ and gripped his hand tightly.
    “You remember him, do you not?” The guild master asked, her stoic expression gazing upon him.
    “I...I do. Seeing these reminds me of him. The last remnants of him now are his sword, and my memories. The fact that he had one created from these...creatures...means that you guys had been here before?” TJ glanced at her.
    Peorth nodded. “We had come during the period you had disappeared for the first time; that is, after you and Trinidell fallen from Asgard. Trinidell, Kooh, him and I. We had come to scout out the area, though I had a greater idea in mind. In preparation for the ritual of sealing the Sinful Seven, I proposed that we enter the Gothic Room and request Pandora's cooperation by giving us her artifact.” The guild master shook her head with closed eyes. “How young and foolish I was. Pandora would not give up her treasure so freely to trespassers, and the only way to exit was via teleportation. We had the choice of doing that and defeating Pandora herself. I had lead them in challenging the latter, and they suffered scars for my poor decision. I should not have put my companions in such danger.”
    Su sighed. “What are you griping about? You're putting us in danger and your biggest concern is something that happened in the past? Get over it. Let's be honest look at this team. Look at it! You've got the best Treasure Hunter in the guild, two warlords, me, and him. What more could you need? If you expect us to die trying you're wrong. Hell, if I could keep this idiot alive before he got his upgrade I'm sure keeping the rest of you alive shouldn't be so hard.”
    Kooh's eyes lit up at Su's compliment and Peorth smiled slightly. “Perhaps you are right Suuba. I am thankful that you have been with TJ from before the battle in Elfa. Had you not been there to challenge Choen Palm, we may have lost him then.”
    “I don't need your compliments; I'm doing this for me. But if the world got destroyed in the process even if I got my wish I'd gain nothing from it 'cause there'd be nothing to return to. Anyway you can fawn over me later. We've got business that needs to be done, so let's go.”
    “Right behind you G.G!” Kooh chimed raising a fist to the air.
    “Don't you dare start that again.” An angry glare was flashed over her shoulder. TJ and Thee chuckled as they followed along.

    The group climbed down and as they looked around they saw nothing but the walls and flames that licked the air surrounding the darkness. The Specters that had filled the room had disappeared without a trace, the chilling atmosphere they created remaining. The five of them drew their weapons and remained in formation as they slowly continued on through the room, cautiously examining their surroundings as they did.
    “This is new.” Kooh commented with a chuckle.
    “Some of these guys have some interesting tricks up their sleeves but ghosts? Can we fight them,” TJ asked.
    “Oh absolutely. I dunno if we can fight them while they're invisible though!” The group had passed a ladder under Peorth's lead and stopped at a second. “What should we do here Princess? If we start climbing we'll only be vulnerable all over again.”
    Peorth closed her eyes for a moment, “We have very little choice in the matter Kooh. To bring out our wings and utilize them would consume a great amount of mana. The Gothic Room is very close, and keeping ourselves prepared for Pandora is our top priority. It would be best if one of us ascended first, while the others remained at the ready in case of an attack. We must proceed knowing that the Specters could attack from any direction and height, so we must be wary of ourselves, and each other.”
    “Who do you want up there Peorth? I'll volunteer if no one else is willing to risk it,” Thee said.
    The guild master shook her head, “No, I will go. Should they appear and attack me, we shall respond accordingly.”
    Su glared at her viciously, “Are you an idiot? How many times have we said we can't afford to have you killed? Let me do it.”
    Peorth furrowed her brows slightly, “I have made my decision Suuba. You will stand guard with the others as I perform this, that is an order. TJ, I would like you to guard my blind spot as I climb. My spear aside, you have the longest reach of all of us with your guitar. The use of the weapon itself in place of spells will prove safer, and a much faster option. But as it is quite high, there will be a point that you cannot reach. Once I have ascended thus far, focus on protecting the others. If it is safe I will signal you to follow me.” She sheathed her spear. “Prepare yourselves! We begin now!”
    TJ drew his weapon and watched Peorth ascend the ladder as Kooh, Su and Thee stood guard surrounding the two, Kooh watching the backs of their teammates while the other two stationed themselves in case of an ambush. Peorth's ascent proved successful thus far, though the tension rose at the cacophony of Agasura cackling increased and grew ever closer. TJ watched her, sweat running down his neck and his guitar gripped tightly, his legs trembling as she rose closer to the top, out of his reach.
    Placing one hand on the landing she began to climb up, jerking away from it at the sound of a Specter appearing as TJ shouted, “CHIEF BEHIND YOU!” The scythe and Specter emerged from the shadows and the weapon tore through her dress and skin, shedding her blood as she fell away from the ladder into the Absolute's arms. “Chief! Are you all right?”
    She cringed with shuttered eyes but gestured for him to let her down. “It is naught but a scratch. We must not be deterred so easily.
    “Enemies incoming from the west!” Thee shouted back to them as he raised his blade. Two soul flames were shot towards him and collided with his weapon, burning brightly and flickering out of existence afterwards. He lowered the weapon to his side and stormed towards them, taking a wide horizontal swing and cutting the air as they danced away from him and faded away while cackling. “This is a little bit frustrating, I have to admit.”
    “How the hell are supposed to kill these things?!” Su hissed keeping her dagger close to her with a hand ready to cast.
    “All Agasura are weak to the Divine Arts. There must be a spell that can cancel out their transparency!” Peorth explained glancing around the area. “There is something here that does not belong.”
    Kooh laughed, “Mysteries never were my specialty. I'm a killer, not a detective.”
    Su raised an eyebrow, “If there's something that doesn't belong here, it's gotta be those candelabras. I mean, blue flames? Seriously?
    “Strike them down!” With a wave of her spear Peorth split three candles nearby and the room dimmed. Kooh and Thee followed suit as TJ remained in close quarters with Su. “TJ, use the Sunlight spell now!”
    “I-I'm on it!” He shouted as he clasped his fist and raised a glowing hand skyward. “Sunlight!” A small sphere of light rose into the air and came to a halt beneath the roof, lighting a large portion of the darkened basement. The Specters hidden in the darkness became visible and shrunk away from the light.
    “We must make a hasty retreat while TJ maintains the spell! This is a battle that we must not risk! Go quickly!”
    Su called them over with a wave of her hand and cupped the two together. “You idiots better get up there on the first jump or you're on your own.” She muttered.
    “Let me handle that Su. I'm probably the strongest in our group, not to offend TJ,” Thee said.
    “None taken. I'd be crazy to try to wield that pyramid of yours,” He answered with a laugh.
    “Ladies first.” Su snorted as she placed a foot in his hands and he boosted her up, the girl easily landing and gesturing for the others with a thumbs-up. “Next!” Kooh followed suit and skillfully landed near Su. Peorth followed after and rose higher than the others courtesy of Thee, to find herself caught by Kooh; the Queen offered a word of thanks as she was lead towards the Gothic Room entrance. TJ looked at Thee with knit eyebrows and slumped shoulders to which he smiled in turn, gesturing for the Abellan to proceed. TJ was soon after flung onto the platform and landed with clumsy footing, returning to the ladder and looking down as the effect of the Sunlight spell dissipated and the Specters began to close in on Thee. Drawing his blade with his left hand and climbing the ladder with large leaps, he fended off the ghosts and grabbed hold of TJ's hand while the Abellan took hold of him with both and pulled him up.
    “Hurry guys!” Kooh shouted as the three entered the massive gate. As the two approached TJ caught a short glance of the gate; two tall brown pillars surrounded the ring, what seemed to almost be a creature itself, the massive fangs on the inner portion and the eerie blue eyes and ears atop it. The swirling blue energy within brought back memories of his journey to Kimara Research Laboratory. Thee grabbed hold of TJ's hand and pulled him into the gate before the Specters could reach him.

    The group reconvened on the inside of the gateway and the two boys found the others resting, Peorth's dress removed from the shoulders to her chest as Kooh tended to the wound on her back.
    “O-oh...sorry.” Thee turned away. TJ turned his head the moment he caught a glimpse of the two.
    “Forgive me for my immodesty. If I was to wear my dress I fear that it would make things more difficult for Kooh,” The guild master said.
    “Ahh it's just a little skin. What're you two freaking out about,” Su snickered.
    “We do have morals you know. I try to keep to those,” Thee muttered.
    Kooh removed her hands from Peorth's back and gave an approving nod to her work. The wound had stopped bleeding and healed slightly, but it remained open. “Alright Princess, that should just about do it. I'd say that you shouldn't overwork yourself until it heals but Pandora is waiting for us.” Kooh gave her a pat on the back and caused her to shudder. “You should really take better care of yourself Princess. You have lovely skin. Besides, it's not like you to be so reckless now is it?”
    “It is true that it was reckless of me to approach things in such a manner, but I fear not for my outer appearance in place of the safety of my companions. These scars are miniscule in comparison to what those before us have suffered.” Peorth answered.
    “You idiots never change,” Su muttered. “Can we get a move on now or do you two need a moment?”
    Kooh smiled devilishly, “I can appraise you if you like Su.” The God's Governor covered her torso with her arms and backed away.
    “Shall we then?” Adjusting her dress and rising to her feet Peorth lead the team down one flight of stairs with another adjacent to it at the other side of the room. A red carpet blanketed the steps and as they descended the room came into view; the walls decorated by a gorgeous crimson wallpaper with ornate designs, candelabras on two pillars in the center of the room and a grandfather clock beneath the pair on the eastern side of the room. A set of three blanketed tables sat aside from the stairs they emerged on and in the center of the room placed against the wall was an unusual painting of a woman created in a modern art style. Three chandeliers each holding a set of candles hung from the roof and lit the entire room. The group gathered upon the carpet resting before the painting with the guild master standing before them all.
    The painting itself featured a lady sitting, her hands upon her lap. She was clad in a dark violet dress with frills both white and violet, a matching hat featuring flowers surrounding the rim with feathers on the back and a veil covering one eye. She had long blonde hair and a set of markings beneath her visible eye. A small blue necklace with a black string rested above her chest. TJ's eyes opened wide as he caught a glimpse of one of the eyebrows of the lady was raised.
    “What filthy little children have invaded my master's sanctum?” She asked.
    “It talks?!” TJ cried out grabbing his guitar.
    Peorth placed a hand to his chest and answered, “My name is Peorth Emeria Ásvaŕtlim, contractor to the Abellan and reigning queen of Asgard. We have come seeking an audience with Pandora, Lady Hug. May we parley with her?”
    “My master has no time or patience for you creatures and your requests. Away with you this instant!”
    Su grit her teeth, “This painting's got some kind of problem. Where's a permanent market when you need one? I'll show her what us 'creatures' are capable of.” She grinned impishly. “A little vandalism won't hurt Pandora any.”
    “I understand that you and Pandora have your circumstances, Lady Hug, but you must understand that we must see her at any costs. Our world is in danger, and should it be your home, the Gothic Room will be lost in the battle to come! Should you give us the opportunity to fulfill our duties, Pandora will need not remain within the Gothic Room. The gods will forgive her if the Sinful Seven are returned to their rightful place!”
    “You have tried my patience for far too long you impertinent insects! Leave this instant or I will eliminate you!”
    Thee chuckled wryly as he drew his sword, “Why am I not surprised that it's come to this?”
    “Negotiations were made to fail kiddo. You'll get used to it someday,” Kooh laughed.
    “So be it! Yggdrasil, prepare for combat! Spend your mana wisely, we may have need to battle Pandora also, should she refuse us. TJ, Suuba, now is the time!”
    “We can finally let loose? I've been waiting a goddamn long time for this,” Su chimed.
    “Right. Let's do this Su,” TJ answered.
    She followed TJ away from Lady Hug as the battle began but seemed to be in thought for a moment. “Something doesn't feel right here.”
    “It's just been a long time since we used the Frequency. Don't worry so much. Besides, those guys are already fighting Lady Hug and they need our strength. We can't waste time having doubts.”
    “No but this isn't just some doubt stupid. There's something wrong. You can feel it right?” He raised his eyebrows with a grin and she frowned in turn.
    “Alright I'll go first and show you, then you can follow afterwards.”
    “H-hold on don't-”
    He pounded his fists together as he shouted, “Frequency!” The mana began to flow through him and his eyes opened wide as an abnormal sensation ran throughout his body. “What...the...” He collapsed to his knees as Su began to flicker in and out of his sight, his entire body trembling as the bile rose in his throat. After discharging it he collapsed to the ground and fainted.
    “Man down!” Thee shouted as Lady Hug stretched out and clawed at him.
    “What? Oh! TJ's down for the count and Su went with him! What happened?!” Kooh cried out while slashing at the painting as Peorth fought it off with the point of her spear.
    “I dunno but it's not a good sign!” Thee leapt from where he stood and brought his blade down three times with two more leaps and transitioned into a retreating stance as she emerged again and took two swipes at him.
    Kooh raised a hand to perform Shattered Berg; the berg appeared again and shattered to pieces, firing a multitude of pieces of ice towards the painting only damaging it slightly as the spell dissipated. “Oh boy, she's one tough cookie.” She dashed over and took a horizontal swing with her dagger followed by a rising flourish. Lady Hug turned her way, seemingly inhaling air and discharging a cloud of green smoke towards her. “Poison, be careful guys.” She covered her mouth and backed away as far as she could.
    Both Thee and Peorth attacked at this time in a flurry of swings and lunges, the two backing away as Peorth glanced at thee and whispered, “Create an opening and move a safe distance away. I will strike then.” He nodded to her and took action, spinning towards Lady Hug and raising his blade at her and back down, chipping away at her face.
    “Enough,” She roared inhaling once more and breathing out a steady stream of flames. Thee jumped back and threw his blade towards her, slicing lower on the picture and bringing the blade back to him.
    Peorth charged in, slamming her spear into the ground and spears emerged from all around her to impale the painting. While she drew her weapon Lady Hug emerged again and swatted her aside with a massive claw. The guild master tumbled towards her companion and was stopped in place by her.
    “You've gotta be more careful Princess. You're already hurt and now you've got even more wounds.” Kooh told her as she helped her onto her feet.
    “These wounds are faint. I must persist.” Peorth replied rising to her feet before she rushed to her spear and back into the fray.
    Lady Hug inhaled once more while Kooh leapt closer towards her to hold both hands out and create a mirror of ice that blocked the poisonous gas headed towards her allies. With a wave of her hand the center of the mirror shattered and the icicles lodged themselves within the painting. Following that she pointed towards it once more and the outer ring expanded toward Lady Hug in another set of pointed icicles.
    The painting began to grow flustered and let out an enraged cry with enough force to fling the group towards the other side of the room where they each collided with the wall nearby the others. Following the event Lady Hug inhaled once more and a chilling breath emerged, ice immediately began to gather upon them from the ground up, freezing the incapacitated TJ over also.
    “I think we're in quite the pinch. Any ideas Princess?” Kooh asked wriggling the portion of her torso that had yet to be frozen.
    “Yes,” Peorth responded. She closed her eyes and concentrated, her entire body emitting a powerful glow that melted the ice around. As she arose sopping wet, she clenched her fist and swung her spear horizontally as Yggdrasil's Herald appeared beneath her. With a wave of the weapon she cleared away the mist; she slammed the tip of her weapon against the ice that coated the ground and shattered it, releasing her captured companions. “I shall end this now Lady Hug!” As if in a single movement she appeared in the face of the painting and unleashed a flurry of a matter of seconds. Lady Hug was punctured with holes from the bottom to the top, a look of pure shock as with a final stab Peorth withdrew her weapon and watched as the painting began to rumble and disappear in a series of flames.
    “You have to teach me those things Peorth.” Thee said in awe.
    “The Warlord Style Awakening Techniques require vigorous training and constant vigilance Thee.” The guild master answered standing her spear by her side. “If you so desire to learn the Divine Arts, I shall drill them into you through a series of test and training sessions.”
    “You know, I think I'm just a little bit unprepared to master the Divine Arts. I'll stick with the usual stuff for the time being, thanks.”
    The group turned their focus back to the place that Lady Hug once was and from the flames emerged a lady that seemed to match the picture from her outfit to the markings upon her cheek. She levitated in mid-air, holding her dress with one hand and a crimson folding fan in the other; her legs were covered by stockings and upon her feet a pair of violet flats.
    “We finally meet again, Pandora,” Peorth said.
    “No need for introductions child. I remember you very clearly, Peorth, was it? My how you've grown. You've even brought an old friends, and some new ones I see. So what brings you to my doorstep this day?” She chuckled as she extended her fan and waved it in front of her.
    “We've come for the same reason as we did the first, for the treasure you've kept safe for centuries. The Sinful Seven have finally returned and this is a sign of ill omens. It is only a matter of time before Agasura King Asmodeus returns and begins Geseni oto Niztchs. We cannot allow this to happen or all will be lost. I beseech you, allow us to assume control of the box and we will save both Jienda and all of the places upon it, including Foe Mansion and the Gothic Room.”
    Pandora held the fan before her face and raised an eyebrow. “In your conversation with my protector which you and your allies have destroyed, you had mentioned that should the 'Sinful Seven' as you know them be sealed, the gods will allow me freedom of this place. Is this true?”
    The guild master nodded. “God Ah had not put you here as punishment for your deed; he this so both you and the box would be safe from prying hands. He knew that in giving you the box that your curiosity would chance the possibility of it being opened. In preparation for this, he had created us. When the Agasura came to be as did those from the Dark World, God Ah and our goddess had long prepared our ancestors for the battle. You may recall the event, now known as the Agasuric War.”
    She smiled devilishly and closed the fan. “I recall it quite well. The creator and his companion had lead the fight against King Asmodeus quite magnificently. Their battle so intense they had caused a tear between worlds and the Agasuras escaped into another as God Ah had weakened them and your kind had prepared to seal them. Have they not returned to ravage your land?”
    “After centuries we have found very few signs of them but one. According to our source, they had been set free from their seals under the leadership of one man in an attempt to subjugate the world, and the second that opposed the inhabitants of it. The task was a failure, and in the process the creatures had run amok. Should Asmodeus gain control here, he may have them return in the battle against the Gods. This is why we stand here today. We must finish what our ancestors began, and end this war once and for all. To do this we have come here today in hopes that you will cooperate! With your assistance we can begin our task of sealing away the Sinful Seven and proceed to stopping Agasura King Asmodeus.”
    Pandora opened her fan once more and waved it gently with a coy smile. “That does sound like quite the tempting offer but that wouldn't be any fun, now would it? I've been in here for centuries waiting for a worthy group of adventurers to challenge me and claim my treasure as their own, if they were of a high calibre, that is. Ever since Asmodeus had placed his Dominion upon the world things have grown awfully dull. Those that came to Foe Mansion rarely, if ever, arrived at the Gothic Room alive. You may find their corpses beneath the floorboards if you search hard enough, my lovely children.” Kooh and Thee both looked upon Pandora with hatred flaring in their eyes, while Peorth remained steadfast. “Those that did, could not defeat Lady Hug. But you, you are the first. And you said that you brought God Ah's little treasure hmm?”
    “God Ah's...treasure?” Thee asked with knit eyebrows.
    “She means TJ kiddo,” Kooh answered.
    “God Ah values no one above any other. We are all equal. You too, are a part of this Pandora. I beg of you, please give the box to us and we shall undo what had been done.” Peorth knelt down and lowered her head.
    “So you say, but can you deny the fact that God Ah had created the child not to be his equal, but to be his successor? The child has inherited his abilities and those that not even he utilizes. He will succeed the creator and claim this world as his own, should he prove able to silence Asmodeus.” She smirked. “If this is the one who shall be my superior, I wish to see his abilities for myself, and those of the companions who walk by his side. Defeat me and my treasure is yours; fail here, and I will return to Asmodeus.”
    “Return...as I had feared you are already-”
    “Correct! I belong to Him, in both body and soul.” She placed the fan to her lips and smiled devilishly. “Show me what the new generation of God Ah's beloved creations are capable of! I have lived for this moment.”

    Peorth turned to her companions as she rose to her feet and prepared her weapon. “Yggdrasil, battle stations! We know not of what our enemy is capable of, so remain vigilant!”
    “Let the fun begin!” Pandora cackled with a wave of her fan.
    The flames of the candles on both sides of her flared and spread out towards the group, surrounding them. Thee charged in first and took a swing at her, she dodged to the side and avoided his blade.
    “Thee your flanks!” Kooh shouted as she tackled him to the ground and Peorth deflected a levitating sword that nearly impaled the two of them. “Looks like we've got a caster on our hands. My magic isn't gonna be too effective in this case.”
    “Above!” Peorth shouted as the chandelier fell from the roof and slammed into the ground narrowly missing the two who crawled away. As the fire returned to its normal state the two arose to their feet as Peorth took stabs at Pandora, successfully grazing her with one of four strikes.
    “This is just plain chaotic.” Thee muttered carefully eyeing the swords resting across the room.
    “How desperately you fight fascinates me greatly. Alas, the fun has only just begun. It'd be in your best interest to remain wary of your surroundings.” Pandora told them while she fanned herself.
    “TJ!” Peorth shouted turning her focus to him while the swords flew above their heads and pointed towards the incapacitated Abellan. As she prepared to make a move the tables beside him began to levitate and assaulted her from all sides.
    “I'm on it Princess!” Kooh broke out into a sprint that quickly became her skating as she left a thin trail of ice in her wake. As the swords came down she transitioned from a spin to a crouch; with a wave of her hand her body was coated in ice and she deflected the swords with her arm. They fell limply around his body while Kooh returned to her usual self, her right arm torn and bloody. “You're such a handful Little Lamb, but we'll protect you with everything we have.” She placed her hands to the ground and a small barrier of ice surrounded his body while Kooh remained on the other side. She turned to run back to the ground and where Pandora remained but was locked in place as a chandelier fell before her. “So rude!”
    Thee tossed his blade towards Pandora and she lowered herself to ground height just barely remaining above it. While Thee retrieved his blade Peorth fought past the falling chandelier to Pandora once more, the two dancing skillfully past each other's attacks. The guild master managed to pin the Agasura between the wall and the chandelier and took a stab at her chest only to find herself stopped by the fan. Her eyes opened wide as the tables surrounded her again and one of them slammed into her back and threw her off balance into another. Pandora waved her fan once more and one of the three pushed her towards the candles preparing to spit flames. The guild master found herself in the arms of Kooh and placed upright with a glimpse of a grin as the girl rejoined the battle. Thee caught Pandora off guard and managed a clean cut across her back.
    “Very clever, aren't you children? We are just beginning.” Pandora rose into the air and with a wide swing the sound of glass shattering surrounded them as the shards themselves flew to her side and rained down upon the Gothic Room.
    Kooh pulled her allies towards her and raised a frozen shield from above her hand, deflecting the bits of glass and protected the two beneath her. She crouched down as the two made their way towards the different stairwells and she flung herself up towards Pandora with her dagger in hand. The Agasura waved her fan and a table came to her rescue, successfully hitting Kooh but not before she plunged her weapon into Pandora's left arm. Thee tossed his blade and she avoided the stance by drifting to the side where Peorth awaited with a series of stabs. As Kooh approached the wall she stopped herself with a hand and foot, then fell towards the ground, creating an icy ramp as she did. She came down and slid upon it, forcing her way towards Peorth who sheathed her spear and grabbed her hand, with one foot upon the railing; she spun around and tossed her subordinate towards Pandora who grabbed hold of her and dragged her to the lower floor, the two hit the ground with an incredible impact. Kooh dragged her weapon through Pandora's arm and ripped it out, cutting her face before leaping back into a pair of somersaults to avoid a rain of swords in her wake. Thee stormed down the stairs and leapt over the railing to slam his sword down upon their target, missing her as she scrambled to her feet and back into a levitating form.
    Peorth fell from above creating a burst of light and spun her spear around her, knocking Pandora back into the shield that guarded TJ. Kooh followed after with an icy mallet and slammed it against the shield while Pandora avoided the blow, the ice cracking beneath her weapon's might.
    “Oops...sorry!” She raised a hand apologetically. The tables arose once more and one of the three collided with Kooh's chest causing her to tumble back beneath a falling chandelier. Thee stopped above her and held his blade above him stopping the descending fixture.
    “You shall not harm him!” Peorth roared beginning her Dragon Fang stance she began with a first unsuccessful lunge, leaping aside to land a successful strike from Pandora's left flank, and finally knocked her to the ground once more with a blow to the back. The guild master caught a glimpse of Thee helping Kooh to her feet and a wave of Pandora's fan, three swords seemed to appear from mid-air above her, each pointing down towards it. She had no time to react nor respond.
    In a flash of light TJ stood before her, the remnants of his barrier expanding throughout the room as a blue glint in his sclera faded and the usual brown shuttered eyes smiled at her. “Thanks for looking after me Chief. I'm a tad late but you don't mind if I join in, do you?”
    “It is...a pleasure to have you back.” She answered with a blink.
    “Su, you ready? Let's give this another shot with a different approach!” He pounded his fists together and the mana within him surged forth. “Frequency!” His eyes gained a green tint and Su emerged from the crystal in her kunoichi garb.
    “That Frequency's pretty convenient. It changed my clothes for me. Sucks to be you.” She snickered twirling her dagger in her fingers.
    “This...is alright with me. I get better with the Arcane Arts so I'm happy.”
    “TJ! Hi!” Kooh shouted as she threw ice needles at Pandora while she waved with her free hand.
    TJ took his guitar in hand and began to gently strum the chords, the wounds of his allies recovering steadily as they returned to the fray.
    “Feeling pretty good! Let's coordinate our attacks guys!” Thee shouted to the others bringing his blade down and across at their target.
    “No need to tell me.” Su answered drawing three shuriken between her knuckles and tossing them at Pandora, landing two in her leg and the other against the sword rack.
    “So this is the power of the Abellan hmm?” Pandora chuckled but blood ran from her in various places on her body. Her eyes were weary and her grip on her fan grew loose. “The child truly can master the three arts. Though I will not concede the box until my last breath.”
    “This need not end in your demise Pandora! Relinquish the box and the battle will come to a close!” Peorth answered raising her spear to the ascending Pandora.
    She laughed at the prospect. “If you want the box, you must kill me to obtain it.”
    “Oh we'll make sure of that,” Su said.
    “I dare you to attempt it child!” Pandora shattered the glass once more, all of her weapons rising and at the ready; from the candles' flames to a series of swords emerging from the racks. You've nowhere to run children, now perish.”
    “Did you forget who I am?!” TJ roared skidding to a halt amongst his guild mates. He slammed his fist against the ground and a series of vines emerged from the walls surrounding the lower floor, trapping them in.
    “Fool, you'll only burn your companions alive! An easy victory!”
    Pandora began her onslaught, the shards of glass, swords and flames rained down upon where they were stationed and the vines were alight with fire that licked the air and suffocated the atmosphere. As the vines began to burn into nothing but ashes amidst the flames a single flower coated in a thick layer of ice remained. The ice quickly melted away and the closed bud suddenly fired TJ out with his guitar in hand. As he drifted past Pandora he took a swing and hit her in her right flank, landing upon the top floor and waving his hand, firing the second of his companions. Kooh shout out from it and plunged her dagger into Pandora's chest, then grabbed hold of the chandelier beside her and her target's hair with the other. Before Pandora could respond Su was launched from the flower to put another dagger into her stomach and Peorth immediately after to drag her down with the pole of her spear. Finally Thee was released from the flower in a series of flips, bringing down his blade with a mighty downward stab.
    Pandora's fan fell from her hands as she struggled to rise and reach out towards the blade that impaled her. “V-very...impressive...Abellan.” She hacked up blood as she uttered a laugh. “Though it...matters not. A-after all. M-my Lord...has giv-given me...immortality!” She coughed again in a weak attempt to laugh. “No matter h-how many...times you eliminate me...I shall return!”
    TJ ran down the stairs narrowly avoiding the flames that lit them and rejoined his other companions on the ground floor, Kooh aside.
    “Alas, our goal was not to kill you but to retrieve the box.” Peorth reached out towards her and a blue glow surrounded her hand as one was emitted from Pandora herself. From within her a beautifully decorated pithos emerged and took it's place in Peorth's hand. “There's something else.” She reached out again and the blue necklace Pandora wore appeared in her hand. “I know not what you have decided upon this path for Pandora, but you and many others...those lost souls that have fallen to Agasura King Asmodeus. Someday I will find a way to save you all. Not only from his Dominion but from his control, and this endless cycle he has put you all through, willing or unwilling. In God Ah's name, I shall fulfill his wishes as well as my own.” She closed her eyes. “Forgive me for having resorted to this, but it is as you had chosen, and we have little other choice. We will do what we must to save this world.”
    Pandora chuckled weakly. “I've no need...f-for your sympathy...Asgardian. This is...what I h-had...wished for, and I...I have received it. It is your...victory, as is...my treasure. Now go...leave me...” Pandora let out one last sigh and closed her eyes.
    After retrieving their weapons Peorth turned to her group and gave them an approving nod. “It would be best if we made a hasty retreat.” A small magic circle appeared nearby, giving off a bright white light.
    “Princess! Don't leave me up here please!” Kooh shouted tightly gripping the chandelier.
    “Come on down Kooh! I'll catch you,” Thee chuckled.
    “My hero!” She let go of the fixture and crashed into Thee knocking him to the ground. “Where's my princess carry?”
    “You might have to give me a princess carry to the hospital. Might have given me a concussion on that one...”
    The two immediately followed their companions into the portal and exited the burning Gothic Room.
    Finding themselves back in Foe Mansion, the place returned exactly as it was prior to their arrival, they looked around uneasily.
    “We don't have to go back the way we came, do we? Those Victors and their chainsaws just don't sit well with me. And neither do the invisible ghosts,” TJ muttered.
    “No we do not. Come close everyone, I shall return us to Elias.” Peorth said drawing her Warp Crystal. The ground gathered around her and in a flash of light they returned to the familiar city.

    The five had returned to the Guild Room and Peorth rested Pandora's Box amidst all of them.
    “How fascinating. This is the fabled Box that had sealed the Sinful Seven hmm?” Shabur asked removing his mask slightly.
    “Yes. Through trial and error we have successfully obtained it and another artifact she held. I am unsure of exactly what this is, but i believe once activated we will find out.” Peorth answered appraising the jar.
    “Can we just slow down a second? All of this shit is happening so fast and you haven't explained even a bit of it,” Su hissed.
    “What would you like to know?”
    “I've got a question.” TJ said raising his hand. “How did you do that thing...you know, extracting the box...or jar or whatever you call it out of Pandora?”
    “That? It is nothing more than a simple technique called Relic Recovery. It is something my tutors had taught me while I was a young girl. Our ancestors had created it as a countermeasure to prevent their artifacts from falling into the wrong hands. The initial spell is used to hide an artifact within a vessel. It is very rarely used, but it is a technique the finest Cerebian Treasure Hunters may learn in order to uncover the secrets of the past.”
    “So about this ritual,” Su began, “if you were to give TJ the power of more Agasura, wouldn't that make him...you know, more of an Agasura than anything else? If he had to use their powers that'd make him have a need for the Contemptuous Arts. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.”
    “That is a legitimate concern of mine. In truth, even I am unsure of exactly what will happen to TJ once we perform the ritual, but I believe that it is meant to be. Memorius Sanctum informed me of such, and I do not believe it will lead me astray.”
    “Now hold on a fuckin' second. Are you saying you've been lead by a freakin' book this entire time?! What the hell is that?”
    “It is no ordinary book Suuba. It is a legendary artifact, a tome, in fact. I am not the only one who has such a creation. The other proxies, Choen Palm and Iris Livier also likely carry a similar artifact, but what information mine holds and theirs will certainly differ, as I only have information on the Cerebians and their side of the concurrent conflict.”
    “And you're saying this book can tell the future?”
    “Tome, and it can tell me a small portion of TJ's future, but only that in the near future. It seems to have new information as we press on.” She summoned the book and flipped through the pages. “It says that TJ wearing the pendant is a necessity to completing the ritual. I have found instructions on performing the ritual also. Suuba, Kooh, I will require your assistance in this matter.”
    “What for?” Su raised an eyebrow.
    “At least two of the four God's Governors are required to perform such a task.”
    “What?!” TJ cried out, his gaze darted towards Kooh.
    “You were-” Even Thee was in disbelief.
    “Ah the cat's out of the bag,” Kooh cried with mock disbelief. “It's true, I'm God's Governor of Water.”
    “Figures,” Su snorted.
    “Well that actually explains a whole lot. Truthfully after seeing TJ and Kooh I thought that Cerebian Mages could be a Warrior-type class and still cast magic or use multiple elements,” Thee added.
    “TJ's case is a very peculiar scenario.” Peorth said closing the tome for a moment. “Due to his contract with Suuba, the two are able to master the spells that the other can utilize. Essentially, performing such a feat let alone such a contract would be nearly impossible for someone that is not the Abellan. Trying to open any other cores would put his life in certain danger.”
    TJ knit his eyebrows. “So why didn't you tell us you were God's Governor of Water all this time Kooh? Did it need to be a secret?”
    She placed a finger to her chin and rolled her eyes. “Mm...no, not really. On one hand I wouldn't want to make a big deal out of it or let anyone that shouldn't know, know. But on the other, I'm...kinda a failure as God's Governor.”
    “What do you mean?”
    Kooh turned to Peorth and the guild master nodded in return. “Would you like to see for yourself?”
    Peorth opened Memorius Sanctum once more and flipped closer to the end of the tome. “Release!” The pages began to glow and from it an ornate grey hourglass emerged, but there was no sand within.
    “Another artifact?” Su asked with a raised eyebrow.
    “Correct. This item is known as Garfitua's Hourglass. The creator of it, Kalenda Garfitua, a renown medic and spell researcher had created this item to bolster her experiments. Her research was one of the keys to our discovery and understanding of the Contemptuous Arts, along with improving our own knowledge of both the Divine and Arcane Arts. With it we have made great strides in obtaining how to utilize our mana and in what ways we could do this. This item, however serves a very distinct purpose. The target of it must use their own mana to activate the item; once this is done, the researcher would add their mana to the hourglass to add 'sand'. With this, the item would reverse or suspend the effects of a spell on a target for a brief period.”
    “What does this have to do with Kooh Chief?” TJ asked tilting his head.
    “We wish to bring out the second God's Governor.”
    “Now you're just talking nonsense.” Su muttered.
    “Kooh, if you would.” Peorth handed the hourglass to Kooh and she took it in hand, closing her eyes and channeled mana into the hourglass giving it a shining gold look in place of the dull grey. “TJ, I would like you to place your mana into this. As much as you feel that you are capable of, since performing such a task for the first time will require an immense amount to do, and you may be the only one capable.
    He nodded and took the hour glass in hand. He closed his eyes and tried to shift it from himself to the item; as he did he could feel the mana flow from him into the item and when he finally felt he had used up enough, he saw a series of blue grains of sand resting within the bottom of the hourglass. “Wh-whoa. That's kinda cool. What next?”
    Kooh retrieved the hourglass and smiled at him. “Please say hello to her for me.” With that she flipped over the hourglass and it began to glow as it levitated before her. The group was engulfed by a blinding light and when it dimmed they found someone where Kooh once stood.
    A slender girl wearing a white frilly gown stood before TJ with her hands clasped over her waist. She had long icy blue hair that gently drifted down in the following seconds and when she opened her eyes, the same ruby sclera as Kooh.
    “An outfit change? I can do that too.” Su muttered with a roll of her eyes.
    The girl gazed upon TJ for a couple of moments with an unusual intensity, then approached him steadily. She placed her hands upon his cheeks and leaned in to plant her lips upon his, taking his breath away in a shock during the long kiss. When she finally pulled away from him she too was out of breath, as the guild members and even Sellistar looked on in surprise.
    “Little Lamb...you've grown so much over the years. That look on your face says you don't remember me, but I'm certain in time you will. But I want you to know me now so...” She pointed to herself and smiled at him. “My name is Freya, God's Governor of Water.”

    That's it! Chapter's done! Took me a long ass time to finish it but I finally got through it. Trying to implement the new style while keeping the flow of battle was hard as hell. The biggest challenge was trying to keep the strength of the enemies while maintaining the level of skill and ability that the members of Yggdrasil have. I'd spent quite a bit thinking of how I could give Lady Hug and Pandora some variety to their attacks, so I started utilizing the Gothic Room as a whole. That Pandora fight felt a lot more natural than the battle against Lady Hug. Truthfully though, I forgot to mention why TJ fainted after using the Frequency the first time, so once I go through for edits I'll hopefully either add that or save it for ch.4
    So two big things happened here! One, I'm working on adapting the lore back into the story, and I have to admit trying to merge Greek history with Norse mythology+the nonsense I made up for Frequency is hard as balls. I wanna add more of the mythologies and whatnot but with all the notes and the possible views within one certain mythos or piece of history it can become a bit overwhelming, especially with all the plots I've hinted at and am juggling at this very moment. Secondly, I'm working the idea of artifacts back into the story too. I had mentioned some were stolen from Su's temple, and Pandora's jar and Memorius Sanctum are a few among the many, so you'll see those occasionally and perhaps a story that follows them. I'll work on balancing them out so it's not too much of an information dump 24/7. You know how it is lol.
    So new character! Freya! 2 in 1. Kooh's a keeper. I was thinking of extending the scene here to include more time for Freya, but I think I'll leave it for ch. 4 so I can spend some more time developing her and the ideas/incantations behind the ritual itself. That is, if I decided to add them in. I think I'm conflicted on the matter 'cause it might sound too chuuni. On the other hand, the whole story does kinda sound that way. I'll be adding some more details when I edit it over the next few days. Might put it up on here and FF. The good copy, that is.
    Lastly, I think I might focus my efforts into USS. I thought about it a bit, and it would make a fantastic introduction for further backstory for Hanamah, Samson and co. Also a more in-depth look into Xenym before the attack. I'm thinking within it I'll introduce Reina, her mother and friends, and a couple of artifacts including the Mino Gemstone. I have some new scenes in mind and I'll give the conversations a bit of a touch-up to so it's gonna feel fresh and new. There might even be a fight(among kids but it'd explain how Su winds up so battered). I'm really excited for it, but I gotta admit I might need a few days to kick back after all this writing. Hope you like ch. 3.
    avatar
    TJ

    Posts : 873
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 24
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Thu Jun 05, 2014 2:17 pm

    Ch.3 Pages 1-10:
    The Third Harmony: Freya
    We were marked and chosen upon birth through our lineage to become the hope of these worlds. But no, that's not quite the reason I'm doing all of this. There's just someone I love too much. (Kooh)

    “Ch-Chief...” TJ muttered with knit eyebrows.”
    “It is a pleasure to see you again. Now that we are all assembled I would like to hear the details of your mission, if you would be so kind,” Peorth said.
    “Slow down there a second,” Su hissed. “This guy is a Confidant?” Peorth nodded once. “He's the same thing that tried to kill us! He's a Tyrant of the Maelstrom!”
    Vanir had the gall to look insulted. “That's quite the bold claim you're making there Succubas.”
    “Call me that again and give me a reason to give you an iron smile! I dare you!” She returned her glare to the guild master. “Who made this clown into a Confidant? He can't exist! There's only one Abellan, and somehow he's able to switch forms from an Agasura to a human, allowing him into the cities! That's not all; he can use the Contemptuous Arts and the Divinity Sealing spell!” She drew her dagger while keeping him within her vision from the corner of her eye. “I'll kill him now and stop him before he does anything.”
    “Hold a moment Suuba. There is no need to jump to conclusions,” Peorth answered. “Let us discuss the matter before we act, as I believe that once you hear his side of the story there will be no need for conflict between us.”
    The young girl clicked her tongue. “Let's hear it then.”
    The barista uneasily rubbed the back of his neck. “Where do I even begin?” He sighed and crossed his arms. “First things first; I am not a Tyrant of the Maelstrom. Mmkay? Good. It's something very similar in essence though. If what my research and the information I got from Peorth here holds true, then what I can 'become' is a creature similar to the creature you Cerebians know as the Tyrant of the Maelstrom. The two are very closely linked, since the TotM was the first of its kind. My entire journey consisted of doing everything it took to acquire this power, and I succeeded. It was costly.” He smiled bitterly. “You dabble in dark magic and everyone, including your friends will want your head. That's not important though. Unlike you, I don't transform. It's more an aura than a being. If I attempted to change my shape either I'd die or lose control and become...something. This is just an educated guess on the matter. Now let's move on to more pressing matters.”
    “I am in agreement,” Peorth said.
    “Queenie mentioned your symbiotic nature right?” TJ nodded. “Good. This is something both you, and all the other creatures like you share. I guess you could say that for all Agasura. But you're a very particular case. You have the power over two very powerful elements, light, and darkness. Though you've chosen to side with Peorth and in turn become the saviour to her kind, it won't change the fact that you have Agasuric blood in you. Though you can become the Messenger of Light, you'll still have the ability to become the Tyrant of the Maelstrom under the right circumstances, of course. Or at the very least, something close to it. You won't be able to become the TotM without Choen Palm's piece of the Heart of Yggdrasil but that fact won't change. You're gonna need that power, and the power of the Seven if your goal is to defeat the Demon King. Agasura can't be killed by the four elements, nor by the Divine Arts. That, is where the Contemptuous Arts comes in. Master that, and he'll be putty in your hands.”
    “Okay...but how did you get that power? There aren't others like you, are there?” TJ knit his eyebrows.
    “No there's not. Technically, I'm the only one, but I can't quite tell you how I got this power.” He offered them a wavering smile. “I can tell you that I'm a traveller. I've come a long way to get here...rather, it was purely by chance and pretty lucky at that. There are some people who followed me here and are likely still somewhere out there searching for me. It's been...what, twenty years? Maybe thirty since then?”
    “So what about your little friend there? Anyone with any knowledge of spirits knows that she's not any of the races in the triad. You clearly summoned the little shit. Care to explain?” Su crossed her arms and tapped on her left.
    Vanir's mouth twitched at the question. “Gods...can you just stop sticking your nose into my business? You're way too perceptive for your own good. Skuld, come on out.” The brownie removed herself from behind the barista's legs and took point before him, his hand gently resting on her hat. “As the potty-mouthed kid said, my companion isn't exactly a brownie. She's my familiar, and my only remaining companion Skuld. Throughout most of my journey's she's been by my side, both protecting me and fighting for me, and doing so much more. I wouldn't have come this far without her. Come on, don't be shy.”
    “M-my name is Skuld. I am Master's only remaining summoned being.” Su's ears seemed to peak at the comment.
    “Ain't she just the sweetest? What a keeper!”
    “What'd she mean by only remaining summoned being,” Su asked.
    “Geh...” He grunted and sighed. “I used to summon things. I know how, but I pissed someone off and they sealed my magic. Happy now?” He glared at the teenager.
    She grinned devilishly in response. “Ecstatic.”
    “Anyway let's get on with this shall we? I'm sick of talking about me and my dark past.” Su snorted at the comment and his glare intensified.
    “You two get along very well.” Peorth commented and both looked at her with furrowed brows. “Returning to the topic at hand, TJ, Suuba, this is very important information. I strongly believe Vanir's form is related to a series of Agasuras that have not been seen since ancient times. In some of the scripts that I had found in the libraries of the palace I had uncovered some of the information on the creatures from that time.” She closed her eyes. “Our ancestors and those of humanity's had faced off with Asmodeus himself and the greatest threat both had ever seen; a series of sentient beings that spread corruption from one world to the next. The creatures came from a place described as 'The Dark World' to Midgard and in their wake brought death and decay along with a spell similar to that which was used both on Asgard and in Kimara. Can you recall the spell 'Rinstar'?”
    TJ shuddered at the question. “Y-yeah...sadly. That thing still haunts my dreams...and my memories.”
    She nodded. “It was present then. They had described it as a 'black star of death'. It had marred the earth in ways one could not imagine. The scripts tell of God Ah and his left hand banishing the creatures from our world and sealing Asmodeus away. I know not any further details but should I find out I will inform you as soon as possible. Let us move on to the topic of the Seven once more. Vanir, if you would.”
    “Uh huh. So, the Seven seem to share some of the traits that the the exiled creatures do. This is just a speculation so don't hold me to it alright? From what I've seen those specific Agasura, let's call them Demons for the sake of my sanity, shall we? Now then, the Demons unlike the Agasura inhabited a specific set of creatures, and if they didn't do that, they'd remain in an ethereal form. Couldn't do half the things they could with physical forms, mind. If they claimed a vessel, they would gain a certain type of shape, each meant to fulfill a different role. Almost like the class system in place here. At the top of that pyramid stands the king, and what they don't know is even higher, which is you TJ, the Abellan. As one would expect, they'd think you dead, and you likely the same. Hence why there was a king; but I guess they could have a 'god' of some sort too.”
    “I didn't even know there was such an Agasura,” TJ muttered.
    “My point exactly. Or close enough, at the very least. Anyway back on point, I think the Sinful Seven are a lot alike to the others, but rather than falling under the same categories as the rest, they'd have their own set of classes or skills or something. I don't know what they'd do specifically, but if the sins of man are what allowed them to manifest, chances are the sins of man are their weapon in some form or another. Now back to you Ice Queen.”
    Peorth held out a hand and turned her gaze back to the two. “This is a technique I would like to teach you also TJ. It will be a crucial skill in your battle, to utilize when I am not present.” She took a deep breath. “Release, Memorius Sanctum!” A powerful air pressure surged forth from where she stood and a beautiful gilded tome appeared in the palm of her hand.
    “What's that Chief?” He asked with a quizzical gaze.
    “This is my family's greatest heirloom. It has passed down to our proxies since ancient times, and has been placed in my care as the last link in the chain, and the first to form a contract with the Abellan. This tome contains the history of the world as God Ah and his left hand knew it, and I believe that it also contains some of your memories prior to losing them. If what the tome tells me holds true, the Seven each hold a page that will be crucial to your growth towards becoming your true self, and in the process return your memories, and your forgotten spells.”
    “That's amazing! But those Agasuras will definitely be some of the toughest we've faced yet. I'll do my best to be ready to face them when the time comes. After fighting Pandora, which of the Seven will we fight first, and where?”
    “I do not know.” TJ looked nonplussed.
    “I've not the foggiest either.” Vanir said with a shrug.
    “You're both morons,” Su grumbled.
    “I know of a Confidant that may be able to assist us in locating them with the help of her sisters. Her name is Lucia, and she is a dancer at Club Abio. Should you find the time, I would recommend going to visit her, at the very least to pay your respect,” Peorth said.
    “I'll be keeping an eye out too, and I'll be sure to stay in touch with my customers and the other Confidants I know about. Chances are someone will hear something about them.” Vanir blinked. “Oh! Here's a useful little tidbit also; I think that the more attuned you become to your Agasuric nature, via the Sinful Seven, you'll also become more aware of their presence. Hone those senses kid. They'll take you far.”
    “Thanks for the tip. I'll remember that along the journey.” TJ replied with a smile.
    “We should make plans to set out for Foe Mansion,” Peorth suggested. “You can leave the team composition to me TJ. But at your convenience you may select a date. If I may, a date within the near future may be in our best interest, as you know time is not on our side. Although, I shall not put you at risk for fear of time.”
    He shook his head. “I'm alright now Chief. Our meeting with Vanir shook me up a little but I think I'm well enough to return to the battlefield.” He knit his brows. “That aside, I'll probably have more than enough time to rest while we search for the Seven. For now let's focus on getting Pandora's Box and proceeding from there. If it's not too soon, we can set out tomorrow and get things off to a proper start.”
    “Fine by me,” Su said.
    “That sounds excellent,” Peorth added. “I would recommend getting a proper night's sleep you two. Though the journey is short, we still have a fair distance to travel, and Pandora is not to be underestimated either. Now if you will excuse me...” She took a bow and made her exit as her guild-mates and the barista wished her a good night.
    “We should get moving too. Baby needs his beauty sleep,” Su sneered returning to the crystal. “Later losers.”
    TJ snorted at the comment and Vanir furrowed his brows. “That girl has an attitude,” The barista muttered.
    “She's a lot kinder than she might sound,” He chuckled gently. “If you talk with her enough you'll begin to see it too. Still, thanks for the information Vanir. We'll be sure to drop by to stay in touch and see how your search is going. It'll definitely be a big help.”
    The barista smiled wryly. “Are you serious? Do I look like some kind of hint NPC to you?” TJ tilted his head quizzically. “Should have expected that reaction...regardless, I'll do what I can. If you're gonna come all the way here you better buy something next time you hear? I don't run a charity!”
    He smiled. “I will. It's a promise.”
    The barista clicked his tongue. “Freakin' pretty boys. One more thing before you go.” The young man gave him a curious stare and nearly jumped when Vanir placed his hands on his shoulders. “I heard about you using a spell some time ago from a mission you were on...what'd the Ice Queen call it? Caster's Workshop? How did you...no, do you know where you learned it? Did someone teach you?”
    TJ rubbed his chin thoughtfully. He could recall using the spell during his fight with Su but not where he had learned it. Who had taught him? Or where exactly did he learn any of the spells that Peorth had not passed on to him? He shook his head. “I dunno. That part of my memory is missing too. Sorry Vanir.”
    He let go of the young man and sighed. “Nah...nothing you need to apologize for. You've got amnesia. Didn't do anything wrong. If you do remember something about it, tell me ASAP, got it?”
    “Yeah...okay. Will you tell me the reason though?”
    The barista cracked a tiny grin. “I'll tell you when you're ready. Now get out of my sight. Go get that box kid.”

    The next morning TJ woke up within the tent that Peorth had provided for him. In the letter she had sent with the package she had said that it would just be a temporary arrangement for him, since sleeping in a tent all of the time would result in him getting ill, and that sleeping in a bed would offer him a better rest. Of late she seemed to worry a lot more about his well-being and he was hard-pressed to deny that he did not enjoy her doting. Though he was not quite sure why she meant the arrangement would be temporary. Did she have plans to have him stay at an inn? He considered asking her about it when they would meet up that day.
    After rising from his bed he rummaged through his rucksack and removed a simple sandwich, which he unwrapped and ate until the arrival of his companion through the crystal gave him pause.
    “Good morning,” He uttered through stuffed cheeks. The blank gaze on Su's face said she was not amused where words failed her.
    “Gross.” She began, to which he just chuckled under his breath. She sighed and continued, “Though that guy is friends with Peorth and a Confidant I still don't like him. I don't give two shits if he's just a copy of the TotM there's still something completely wrong with it. Things like that don't just happen.”
    TJ shrugged. “Vanir did his research. I dunno where but he knows his stuff. Besides, he's really well-informed about the Agasura and he's willing to help us out to boot! There's no need to suspect him right? I think he's a pretty good companion.”
    She sighed once more. “That's the problem with you, you idiot. You're too damn trusting! That guy could put a knife through your back and you wouldn't even think twice about suspecting him of it! Didn't that ridiculous fight with Yuta teach you anything?”
    The young man put his sandwich down. “It did...” He began. “It taught me that even if your friends become enemies, that we still have to look past all of that and learn to forgive them regardless of how we're treated. If something's lost it doesn't mean it's gone forever. It just needs to be found again. He may have broken our bond then but I think someday he'll come around and come back to us.”
    The God's Governor frowned. “You're kidding right?” TJ raised an eyebrow at her in the midst of taking another bite of his breakfast. “He tried to murder you, you dumbass! Do you really think you can just be friends with everyone that's out to take your life?! Choen Palm isn't gonna sit down and have tea with you when she could be controlling you with her shard of the Heart of Yggdrasil!”
    He laughed. “Choen Palm is a whole different story. I don't think the two of us will see eye to eye anytime soon.”
    “I don't think the three of us will see eye to eye ever. She's gotta go, and by gotta go I mean we have to either brutally murder her or at the very least seal her away. If she comes back before we settle things with Asmodeus then we're gonna have to go through hell and high water to end this war.”
    “Asmodeus...” The young man shook his head. Just the sound of the name gave him the chills. He knew who Asmodeus was, but nothing more than that. At his strongest would he really be able to compete with the King of Agasura? He slapped his cheeks twice and clenched his fists. “I'm gonna defeat both of them. We're gonna do it, together! We've already faced a lot of tough guys and we beat Choen Palm once. I'm willing to bet we can do it again, and when we do face off with her we'll be even stronger than we are now! With the power of the Seven I think we can stop her once and for all.” Though in spite of what he said he still felt reluctant to take her life.
    “Bravery and stupidity really do go hand in hand don't they.”
    “If that's what it takes to make a full-fledged hero then I think I can accept that.”

    Shortly after the two made their way to the guild room and found two of their companions already inside, alongside Sellistar and Shabur.
    “Good morning!” TJ chimed with a wave.
    “Good morning to you and Suuba also,” Peorth answered.
    “Hey ho!” Kooh beamed.
    “How do you do?” Shabur asked with a bow.
    “It's good to see you well, young Abellan and Contractee,” Sellistar said.
    “Hey.” Su said with a nod.
    TJ glossed over the group around him and tilted his head. “Is this our team? For taking down Pandora?”
    Peorth shook her head. “No, we are yet to see Thee. He should be arriving very shortly. In the meantime, would you like to ask any questions? You need not ask about the mission itself, as I will brief you on it upon his arrival.”
    TJ glanced at Su and she shrugged. “Hmm...well, where is Foe Mansion exactly? Though I had a map it wasn't exactly a place I noticed...it must have been off the path that we followed.” He chuckled dryly.
    “Foe Mansion is located within the deepest portions of the Dark Forest. You must be very wary when traversing it, as the Agasuras there have both the ability of flight, and snares.”
    “These ones can fly? I guess I should have expected that sooner or later but...the only one I knew that could fly was Invoke. Then again, it's not everyday you see a giant dragon so...still, what exactly are these Agasuras? Have we faced them before?”
    “There are seven types of creatures within the Dark Forest and Foe Mansion.” Peorth clapsed her hands together behind her back. “It is true that you have not faced them before, and though some of us have what they are capable of with Asmodeus' Dominion may offset that knowledge. Their tactics and techniques will vary. It may be best to go in without expectation and react accordingly.”
    “Oh, okay. With you and Kooh there I think we'll be alright. I've no doubt that you guys could fight them off.”
    “There's an Iris Stone somewhere in there isn't there,” Su asked.
    “There's two.” Kooh answered with a grin. “One in the Forest and the other the Mansion. You might get something useful out of them TJ. Time to get pumped up!”
    He laughed. “I don't think I can get as pumped as you Kooh. But I'll try to keep up!”
    “That's the spirit kiddo!”
    “Get a room, idiots,” Su muttered under her breath.
    Shortly after Thee arrived in the Guild Room and offered the crew a two-finger salute. They all greeted him in response and Peorth gathered their attention.
    “Now that we have all arrived. Let us begin, shall we?” She began and they all agreed. “As you all know, our mission today will be to enter Foe Mansion and vanquish Pandora, claiming the box and performing the rite to create a link between TJ and it. With that, we will be able to use it to seal the Sinful Seven within and enable TJ to utilize their abilities. This will not be an easy mission, nor will it be safe. I asked you to join me expectant that you were all aware of this, and that in partaking your lives will be at risk once more.”
    Thee chuckled. “Our parents and grandparents before us fought wars to give us and humanity a future. We're standing here now 'cause they weren't afraid to risk their lives. We shouldn't be scared of a couple Agasura right?”
    “Damn right. They don't have shit on us.” Su sneered. The two high-fived.
    “I'm glad you are in agreement. Thee, you are aware of what Agasura lurk within the Dark Forest correct?”
    “Yup. Been there a couple times for the ladies in the Fight Arena. Some of the new adventurers were having a hard time with them so they asked me to clean up a bit.”
    “I see. You are aware of what they could do without the Dominion's effect, so be on your guard throughout the mission. I have mana potions and health potions prepared for this quest, so if you find the need be sure to use them as you see fit.”
    “Do you have any information on Pandora,” Thee asked.
    The guild master shook her head. “To our dismay, I do not. The very little that I know of her is her story, and the existence of an Agasura that was created to protect her called Lady Hug. Princess Herne had heard about it through a group adventurers she had requested investigate the location of the two, the Gothic Room. This is also an Instance Dungeon, though not such as that with you are familiar with. It is only a single room, and within wait both Lady Hug and Pandora. We will have to strategize as the mission proceeds, so bear with me here.”
    “We're not gonna run in blindly? I'm almost impressed.” Su chuckled.
    “We have been able to manage on very basic strategies under certain circumstances, mainly planning a team that could counteract the strengths of our enemy, but this will not suffice in these times. Our formation will be a very important matter on this mission. Thee and I shall be the vanguard. Suuba will follow afterwards acting as a secondary fighter and caster. Lastly TJ and Kooh will be the rear-guard.”
    “What are our duties Chief? What should I do?” TJ asked.
    “Firstly Thee and I will lead the charge, clearing a path to the best of our abilities, combatting close range enemies such as the Victors. Su will watch our flanks and occasionally check on the rear-guard while striking enemies that may have us deadlocked. Once we come across the Vampanelars we will swap our formation to have the rear take point and vice versa. This will allow you to strike without the risk of being siphoned and will allow us to take action once the initial attack has passed. Once we come across the last of the Agasura we shall swap once more and remain this way until we reach the Gothic Room. Once inside we will scout out the area and plan our moves from there. If there is no need to fight, then we shall choose that opportunity.”
    “You forgot to tell TJ his duties Princess.”
    She looked startled. “My apologies.” The Abellan gestured that it was not a problem. “When in the rear guard I would like you to focus on fulfilling a support role. If you recall your songs, please provide us with anything that you think will assist us, while making our well-being your most prominent focus. When in the front-line, you and Kooh will fight offensively, using whichever element suits you best. Remember that using the Divine Arts is much more straining on the body, and will use up more mana and stamina. You'll need your energy for fighting Pandora, especially if you are to transform. Kooh, you know what I wish for you to do already.”
    “Roger.” Kooh replied with a salute.
    “This is all the information that I have to offer you. Please remember that all of the information I have provided is only tenative, so proceed with cautioun. Should you have any further questions please do not hesitate to ask me,” Peorth told them. “If not, prepare yourselves to set out.”
    “Ready when you are.” Thee grinned.
    “Let's do this,” Kooh cheered.
    “I'm ready as I'll ever be, I think,” TJ chuckled.
    “How many times do I have to say it? Born. Ready,” Su said.
    “I wish you safe travels and a safe return, Children of the Sun,” Sellistar told them.
    “Do come back safely,” Shabur commented. “Until you do I will manage everything here. Your guild is safe with me.”
    “You have my thanks.” Peorth answered with a tiny smile. Her usual serious expression returned as she turned to her guild. “The mission begins now! Yggdrasil, move out!”

    The group returned to Elias Palace and Nan waved at them as they departed. Lead by Peorth the group made their way down the streets of Elias towards the Fight Arena. The five weaved their way through the adventurers lined up to enter the massive tent featuring one of the first man-made Instance Dungeons. Tents were also erected all across the premises, TJ stealing a glance around in case he may find his treasure hunter and meister companions amidst the crowd. To his dismay neither seemed to be around. Perhaps Peorth had dispatched them on a mission also?
    Shortly after walking a fair distance the group came across an unpaved flat land quickly changing from green to a mossy-yellow, with wispy looking trees decorating the landscape. Leaving aside those much smaller in stature, massive trees alike to those in the Forest reached out to the sky, yet unlike them they were gnarled and barren, the holes in the trunk giving each an eerily unique likeness; the branches like long spindly arms curving in ways one would not think even possible for a tree.
    “What's up with this place?” TJ complained. “It's so dark and eerie around here. Is it like this all the time? Also those trees are the creepiest things I've seen in a long time! They've got faces, and some of them even have moss growing out of them! They look like eyes!”
    While following Kooh down a ladder Thee looked up to the Abellan and chuckled, “You'll get used to it. It's always like this around here, which explains how it got its name. The trees around here are as tall as the Forest's, but the way they overlap with each other blocks out the sun, so it's a lot darker around here than it actually is outside. That's pretty much why all these nocturnal creatures hang about.”
    “You afraid of the dark,” Su sneered.
    He frowned, “I'm not scared of the dark. There's worse things out there. Like Choen Palm; I'm not afraid of her either.” The look on the young girl's face was one of a mocking doubt.
    “You all must remain vigilant. Enemies can appear at any moment. Take up formation and prepare yourselves. I am almost positive that the Agasura will strike when we least expect-” Before she could finish her sentence the talons of an unfamiliar creature closed in on her head. In the seconds Kooh drew her dagger Peorth had already drawn her spear and stabbed the creature, dragging it to the ground and impaling it a second time. As she withdrew the bloody weapon it let out one last dying cry and fell.
    “Uhh...” TJ said in disbelief.
    “How do you do that,” Thee asked.
    “Vigilance,” Peorth replied.
    The Abellan walked over and prodded the creature with his foot, jumping back in case it was not quite dead. At the realization of it being as dead a sit possibly could be, he inspected it further. There was not anything too unusual about it; it was essentially, a brown gargoyle with rather large protruding eyes, a very thin body but large wings. It suddenly turned to stone and shattered to pieces, which properly surprised him properly.
    “These must be gargoyles huh? Stone and all,” He muttered. “They're not as strong as I expected.”
    “Don't let your guard down too quickly kiddo. While you were out like a light we took a little trip ourselves. Some of the Agasura in the depths of the Snowfields have really stepped their game up. Gave us quite a run for our money,” Kooh told him.
    “R-really? Who was there? Where were you guys headed?”
    “We were off to the selki village. There's more to getting you ready for your showdown than just collecting the Seven y'know.” She crossed her arms and nodded. “The God's Governor's Temple is located past a haven called Xenym somewhere in the tundra. The selki are the ones that protected the haven after the Dark Moon attacked it.”
    TJ stopped suddenly and broke the formation. “The Dark Moon...” He collapsed to his knees. “There too? Was I a part of that? Was it my fault that they destroyed it?!”
    Kooh lifted him to his feet and dusted him off. “No no that wasn't your fault. You weren't a part of that raid and neither was Choen Palm. Technically, the Dark Moon didn't destroy it. It was b-” She paused, “bested by them, but not entirely destroyed! The Little Princess went to the selki village to ask them to protect it while we were away so the humans didn't find it again.”
    “I see.”
    Kooh smiled bitterly. “You don't have to take everything on your shoulders kiddo. If you've got doubts, just ask. If you feel that something is your fault, talk to one of us about it and we'll set you on the right path to understanding. You're not alone, remember that! All of Yggdrasil is backing you, and we'll be with you right up 'till the final battle! Keep your head up okay?”
    He smiled. “Sorry you guys always have to cheer me up-” Kooh made an 'x' with her arms and shook her head. “No apologies huh?” He laughed. “Okay, okay that's fair. Still, I'll be counting on you from here on out. We've got a long way to go.”
    “Can you idiots save the pleasantries for later? We've surrounded by these flying rats.” Su hissed glancing around cautiously.
    Just as she had declared, a swarm of gargoyles quickly approached them from all sides. Using their ability of flight they had various vantages on their Cerebian enemies. All five of them looked startled by this, the young ninja excluded.
    “That's...not normal for them. They shouldn't be flying around these parts either. Definitely weird.” Kooh said.
    “Battle stations everyone! Keep the formation and keep a close eye on your allies' blind spots and flanks! Be wary of your choice of spells and stances also,” Peorth commanded them. “On my signal engage the enemy!” In the few seconds that passed the tension rose and she raised a hand, “Now!”
    Kooh was the first to strike, bringing out a series of icicles with a wave of her hand. Two of them fell and a couple others were wounded but they still proceeded. TJ took a few swings with his guitar in a vain attempt to fight them off, and was quickly pulled away from them by his companion. She plunged her dagger into the ground and icy wall arose from it.
    “This'll buy us a bit of time. Let's help out Su on my side in the meantime TJ,” Kooh told him.
    “I've got you covered,” He shouted back. With a strum of his guitar a misty aura surrounded the group and slowed down the approach of the gargoyles. “I remember this one from my fight with Su. I'll keep you healthy as much as I can but...be careful, okay?”
    Su stomped the ground and the earth was torn up and arose in the form of sharp rocks, piercing another pair of gargoyles. “This clearly isn't gonna cut it. Earth Mages aren't well known for their area of effect spells you know,” She complained. She drew her dagger and dashed closer, being swarmed immediately after and forced them away with two transparent green dragons that emerged from her. There were claw marks all across her body but they did not deter her. “Get to work you pansies!”
    Thee charged through the crowd slashing as he did and bringing some down in his wake, one of them narrowly avoiding his attack and grabbing him by the shoulders, pulling him off the ground. “I'm caught,” He cried out to his guild mates. The guild-master's spear narrowly missed the back of his head and pierced the gargoyle that held him, her appearing shortly after and pulling them back to the ground. Thee stumbled to his feet and she charged past him scaring their enemies away with a pair of swings from her spear.
    Some of the gargoyles had finally managed to get around or over the wall and quickly soared down towards TJ and Kooh.
    “We're in quite the pinch TJ,” Kooh laughed, “any ideas?”
    “Uhh...yeah, actually,” He answered. He closed his fist and held it up to the sky, releasing a tiny ball of light that flew above their heads. “Sunlight!” It suddenly burst into a bright flash of light and blinded their enemies and Su.
    “You-how about a warning next time jackass?!” She snarled while rubbing her eyes.
    “My mistake!” He took the chance he had to act and augmented the weapons of his companions.
    “Not bad at all TJ! Got any other spells that can keep 'em back? Buy me a few seconds and I'll clean 'em out.”
    “I know of a couple.” He smiled guiltily. “Watch out guys, I'm bringing in the storm! Lightning Storm!” He shouted pointing a finger to the skies. Dark clouds assembled in the grey skies and lightning rained down upon them, friends and foes alike.
    “TJ I think you might be a bigger threat than the Agasura!” Thee cried out, striking down a pair of enemies with a horizontal swing and spinning into the crowd.
    “At least I gave you guys a proper warning this time. Besides...I'm probably the only thing standing between you and your death so you might wanna hold your tongue!” As he said that he strummed his guitar and a series of multicoloured ripples emerged from beneath his companion and healed his wounds slightly. In spite of the attitude he gave he knew he was using up a fair amount of mana, and quickly.
    “Keep 'em coming. You know we'd be lost without you!”
    “Alright, time to shine! Get behind me TJ,” Kooh said. The Abellan took cover behind her while Su shot down their enemies with an icy bow. Kooh suddenly drew a group of daggers while a massive bullseye upon a wall emerged from the ground. She began to throw her weapons that would pin the enemies to the bullseye until she threw the final dagger, causing the target to explode. The Abellan started coughing on the SP potion he was drinking and looked at her with disbelief.
    “What on Jienda was that,” He exclaimed.
    “No time to talk, gotta take out the others. TJ, Su, hit the floor!” They did as she insisted and a massive iceberg appeared above them. On her command it began to break apart and a series of icicles shot out towards the gargoyles, easily felling them while others would drift past them. Kooh took a knee and took a deep breath. “I wouldn't recommend using two fifth skills in a row,” She chuckled. “That and the other spells really take their toll. Mind if I leave the rest to you kids?”
    “I can handle myself,” Su muttered.
    “Looks like you've gotten rid of most of the ones on our side Kooh,” TJ said. “Su could probably handle the-” He was cut off mid-sentence as he caught a glimpse of one of the gargoyles clawing at her scalp and pulling on her hair as she cursed and swatted at it. “H-hang on Su!” With a wave of his hand five tiny orbs of light appeared around him. “Five Arrows of Light!” They shot towards the gargoyle and collided with it, felling it.
    “It's been way too long...” The sullen look on her face said that it would refuse any discussion on the matter.
    “I would recommend you keep your distance Thee. This skill can potentially be dangerous to allies, without proper supervision.” Peorth told him.
    “You certainly know how to stay calm in a crisis Peorth,” Thee chuckled as he leapt to cut down a gargoyle and fell back. His face and armour were a tad bloody and scraped but he was still able to move naturally.
    “I am a guild-master after all.” She dashed away from him to a point that she deemed a safe distance, and leapt through the air, thrusting her spear into the ground and impaling those that followed her. “There are only a few left! We must persist!”
    “The wrecking crew's got your back Little Princess!” Kooh said drawing throwing daggers with one hand and juggling SP potions with the other.
    “That's my line,” Thee laughed. He took three mighty swings with his blade and spun around to cut down the gargoyle that was hitting his back.
    “Only two left! You guys have got this,” TJ cheered.
    Kooh threw two more daggers and both pierced the gargoyles that Thee was fighting, causing them to hit the ground with dying screams.
    “Dude! Those were mine.” Thee furrowed his brows. Kooh winked and stuck her tongue out.
    The team rendezvoused where TJ and Su were. Peorth declared that if they were to rest, that they would likely have no more than five to ten minutes before more Agasura took the place of their fallen brethren.
    TJ chuckled gently upon seeing the group in such a state. Su had claw marks across her face and her hair was a mess because of one specific gargoyle. Thee's armour was scratched and his face was a tad bloody, but he seemed alright nonetheless. Kooh and Peorth for the most part were unharmed. Peorth's clothes were slightly torn and in those places bloody marks remained but they did not bother her. They sat down and drank potions to restore their stamina and special power while the Abellan played a rejuvenating tune for them. “So that's not normal for them huh?” He asked with a raised brow.
    “Absolutely not.” Peorth replied sipping a potion with a queen's grace, “But I am thankful that their intelligence has not seemed to improve much since the change. It is unnatural for them to do such a thing, and though they coordinated themselves into a group they lacked a leader, and so lacked order. Their attack was nothing more than disorganized.”
    “You guys went up against other Agasura right? In the Tundra? Kooh said they stepped their game up, but how exactly did they change? Was it like the gargoyles, actually having some form of teamwork,” Thee asked.
    “One question at a time good sir!” Kooh replied with an open palm.
    “Essentially that is correct,” Peorth answered, “It is not unusual for the Agasuras to work together, as you have seen throughout your journey. Though it was unlikely that they would perform a coordinated strike. What we have experienced is species that do not exist on Jienda appearing in various sections of it.”
    “So you mean species from places off of our continent? Like the other worlds?”
    “No, not quite. Species that exist only within the confines of the Instance Dungeons. I cannot quite say how exactly they have successfully escaped from there, but it is a sign of ill omens.  This may occur around the other Instance Dungeons that exist, so we must be wary and inform both the adventurers and the citizens of the cities alike. Should the guardians escape...” She shook her head, “It will be the Legion War once more.”
    “You've gotta give me the details on that later.” Thee looked around uneasily. “Personally I think it'd be a good idea if we got the hell outta here. More gargoyles are spawning around us.”
    “That would be the best course of action. Everyone, let us prepare to leave.”
    “Princess, I think we should hold back a bit. That situation was a teensy bit out of the blue buuut we...did go a tad overboard with our spells and stances. Don'tcha' think,” Kooh asked.
    Peorth nodded. “I am in agreement. The use of fifth skills may have been unnecessary, but we must be wary of our mana usage. Using the Divine Arts and certain skills will spend what we have, and we will not be able to restore it as easily. It may be best if we alternate positions as the situation proves necessary, and utilize our Special Power when necessary. Mind yourselves, you should use anything within your arsenal should you find yourself in danger.”
    “Got it Chief. You be careful too,” TJ said.

    The group pressed on and TJ stole a couple glances about the area. He saw a group of snakes with flower petals growing around their heads, but that was not what had really caught his attention.
    “There's...graves. Broken graves scattered around here,” He muttered in disbelief.
    Just as he had said in the open patches where the gnarled trees did not stand were a series of graves, oft broken or damaged, the names that marked them faded or covered in venom, webs or scratches. The fences that surrounded them also were damaged, and the gates that held them were torn down along with their arches. Some of the tombstones were knocked down, the graves dug up and at times, the coffins with their inhabitants lay open. The remains of spiders and snakes alike surrounded them.
    “Destroyed by both human and Agasura alike, it seems. Vandals, as the humans call them. Vanir had told me that the humans wished to bury their dead here to prevent grave robbers, which proved to be a very dangerous task, once safer. The Agasura had not always gathered so close to the city, but since people actually began coming here they came from across the Dark Forest to hunt. The family of the deceased began to hire adventurers to ensure the safety of those in mourning, and for the transportation of their cask. In spite of their efforts, it still proved too little to scare off thieves. It is a shame...” Peorth explained.
    Su shook her head. “'A shame' doesn't even begin to fuckin' describe it,” She hissed. “Humans can't even find peace when they've kicked the bucket? They already steal from each other and kill each other when they're alive. Why do they need to take from those who've already lost so much? How do we know we'll be safe from them when we die?!”
    Kooh placed a hand on the young girl's head and received a glare in turn, “You have to believe in them kiddo,” She continued beaming, “I can't speak for all the humans in the world, but I think there are good people out there. People like Vanir and Tetty and Imhotep just to name a few. Whether they're religious or not, even if they've got nothing to gain from assisting us they still do it anyway. When you parted with your body, they gave you a traditional Elfa style funeral. Both you, and Moran were given these because of them. Tetty even stood up for TJ when everyone in the city wanted him thrown in jail!”
    The Abellan gave a slight nod. “I couldn't blame them for their decision, but under the leadership of one we can change what the many believe. Peorth lead you guys and found me, and here we are on our way to save the world,” He chuckled.
    “You're all stupidly optimistic and I'll turn in my grave before I agree with any of you morons,” Su said.
    “It's a start, at least.”
    Peorth and Thee continued to lead the team onwards, drawing their weapons as the Flower Snakes caught on to their presence and approached.
    “Prepare yourselves! Though one of the weaker creatures in the Dark Forest their bite can still be quite dangerous!” Peorth shouted.
    “Right behind ya' Princess!” Kooh answered twirling her dagger.
    Two approached from the front, Thee broke formation and just above the ground, taking one of the snakes with the width of his sword. It slithered over to his leg and attempted to bite him but its fangs only met his blade, and soon after the creature did also.
    “So far so good Peorth. These ones seem to be acting pretty normal.” Thee stated.
    “Don't let your guard down so quickly or you'll be getting an unwanted piercing” Kooh grinned, “Snake bites!”
    “That's cold...” Thee shuddered.
    “Ten points for trying?” She grinned.
    “There's another.” TJ pointed out when he spotted a Flower Snake approaching from the rear. He readied his guitar and swept it across the ground. The weapon missed as the snake sprung from the ground and dug its fangs into his arm. “O-ouch! Get it off!” He wailed waving his arm about in Kooh's direction.
    “Hold still and I'll kill it kiddo.” Kooh answered calmly. At her request he finally stopped but looked away while biting his lip. She grabbed it by the tail and sliced it in two, finding herself at a loss as she noticed the upper half still remained attached. “Persistent little buggers aren't they? This might sting a bit so be ready.” She squeezed the head and its grip loosened on his arm. She threw the corpse away shortly after while TJ closed the wound using the healing spell Peorth taught him.
    Su caught one that approached and easily put it down with Earth Dragon. “These guys are really weak. If this is the best Asmodeus can dish out he's in for a beating,” She snickered.
    Peorth tugged on a set of vines and looked to the rest of the party, “Though Kooh's pun leaves something to be desired-”
    “Princess,” She cried.
    “-what she said rings true. Thankfully it seems the gargoyles have chased away the others and inhabited where they once resided, so we will not be seeing many in the near future. I would recommend you all brace yourselves should we encounter any Arachne or find ourselves in their webs. If memory serves me, they will likely try to poison their prey.
    “P-poison? That doesn't sound good at all...” TJ muttered, climbing up last.
    “Don't worry TJ. If you do get poisoned I'll suck it out for ya. But that service will cost you extra!” Kooh said with a wink. Peorth gave her a blank stare and she patted the guild master on the back. “I'm just kidding Princess! Don't look so serious! I know a good healing spell for curing poison and to stop bleeding too.” The Abellan laughed dryly at her joke.
    “I never was that fond of climbing trees. These ones even more so than those back in the Forest. They're so...you know, topsy-turvy!”
    “I'm right there with you on that one,” Thee said, leading the group this time. “Gotta watch your-” He paused as his feet found themselves stuck in a sticky material. “Well shit.” A camouflaged spider appeared from the shadows and spit poison in his face. He let out an agonizing cry and viciously rubbed his face in a desperate attempt to get it out while frantically trying to escape the web.
    Peorth leapt in from behind him and thrusted her spear into the spider's abdomen. The creature let out a loud screech upon the impact and after she pulled it out, kicking it from the branch the group stood on. “You have let your guard down Thee. The Agasura around here may be weak, but we should not underestimate them so easily.” She cut the webs with her weapon and nodded to Kooh, who saluted her in turn.
    Kooh approached and placed both hands on Thee, a gentle blue glow emanated from both. She reached into her pants pocket and held out a handkerchief. “Here Thee, you can borrow my hankie to wipe off that venom. Regardless of where you get it on you, it'll still poison you, only If it touches your skin though! That bug must have been extra vicious if it aimed for the eyes.”
    “That's clearly weird,” Su said. “Can we get a move on? Pandora will die of boredom before we get to her. It's either her or me. You choose.” She grinned. “You can have both, if you like.”
    “Thanks,” Thee handed the handkerchief back to Kooh, “Don't be like that Su. We'll get there in good time; and hell, I'd rather we take our time than risk one of poisoned again. Or dead. The literal kind of dead.”
    “Not gonna happen! Not on my watch,” TJ declared.
    “Yeah yeah white knights and whatnot blah blah blah...can we go?” She gave Thee a push and he broad jumped from the branch to a nearby platform cobbled together with stones and covered with moss, alike to those that were further back.
    Peorth jumped across after and took the chance to warn her guild mates of other dangers. “If you look ahead you can catch a glimpse of the walking flowers. They may look harmless but they have fangs hidden behind their lips. There may also be more arachne, be on your guard.”
    “Walking flowers? I saw those on Toad Mountain when I met Curt! Those weird little flowers that walked on their leaves right?”
    Peorth shook her head once more and TJ gave her a questioning gaze. “They are essentially the same, but what you saw are a sub-species of the creature. The walking flowers are visually different, but they cannot survive in the climates of Toad Mountain. Their attack patterns are alike, but they are less vicious and also much weaker than their counterpart.”
    “I guess those guys are like the prirings huh? There's a couple different types of their kind. Kinda makes you wonder what the other Agasura might have.”
    “I'd rather not know,” Su said.
    avatar
    TJ

    Posts : 873
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 24
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Thu Jun 05, 2014 2:24 pm

    Pages 10-19:
    The part of the Dark Forest they next found themselves in had seemed a tad more structured than the others. A pair of trees stood sentry to what TJ had sought out, another Stone of Iris. A pale white light emanated from the top of it and beckoned him to save. Small yellow bushes decorated the ground surrounding the trees, and walking flowers wandered all around. The tree branches seemed to be the safest route that would lead directly to the stone.
    “There it is! The stone is just over there,” He cheered.
    “The trees might be our best bet. I think we should go across them and avoid all of those walking flowers,” Thee suggested.
    Peorth shook her head. “I am almost certain that they are infested with arachne. The walking flowers can only move so freely because there are no webs to constrict them here. Should we take to the trees, we will be ambushed without a doubt.”
    “I'm with the boss on this one.” Su crossed her arms. “The lack of flowers up there spells bad news.”
    “So it's unanimous huh? Ground route ahoy!” Kooh said pointing straight ahead.
    Peorth lead the way foward and signalled for Thee, Su and TJ to take one side of the tree while she and Kooh clear the other. Su suggested that the reason she split them up would be to lower the risk of them being ambushed from the bushes or from their blind spot due to the tree's trunk. The trio found three flowers approaching.
    “Get ready.” Su drew her dagger.
    The other two readied their weapons and stormed the nearest flowers. Su rushed over and came to a sliding halt, performing a low sweep with her left leg and knocking the creature off balance to thrust her dagger through it's teeth and out from the other side of its head. With a jumping slash Thee easily cut the second in half.
    “Watch your backs you two!” TJ shouted out as the third approached.
    Su twirled on the ball of her heels and dashed towards it, diving and preparing to cut it down but being met with a blast of pollen. She violently coughed and eventually dropped her dagger as the rest of her body too fell limp.
    “Wh-what the hell?! I...can't...move...” She groaned struggling to shift her body in the slightest.
    “Paralyzing pollen? That's...not good.” Thee thrusted his sword into the creature and tossed it aside.
    TJ looked up horrified, “It's about to get much, much worse!”
    Arachne hanging from webs descended around them and landed, each opened their mouths and bared their chelicerae at their victims.
    “Princess, look at this. The flower I just killed seemed to have produced this.” Kooh swept some pollen upon the tip of her dagger and gave the guild master a closer look.
    “Fascinating,” Peorth swept it from the blade and rubbed it between her fingers, leaving her companion shocked, “It creates a certain...numbness. It likely holds the intent to paralyze a larger foe. Potentially to perform something similar to the arachnes' means of executing a foe?” At that moment a group of arachne emerged from the tree branches and landed around the two. “Kooh, take us to the other party immediately!”
    “Right away Princess!” Kooh offered her a hand as two wings emerged from her back. She crouched slightly and shot up into the air as the multicoloured spiders shot their venom where their targets once stood. The two kept altitude above where the other three found themselves trapped and surrounded, safe for the time being due to a barrier TJ had created.
    “I dunno how long I can hold this.” TJ chuckled, the breaths between the strums of his guitar increased steadily. The arachne surrounding them hissed and spat poison while they clawed at the barrier with their spindly blue legs.
    “Let me down here Kooh. I shall clear a path and we will respond accordingly. I'll give you orders once we regroup. You know what to do, correct?” Peorth looked to her companion.
    “Of course! I'll be right behind you Princess,” Kooh answered.
    She held the guild master's hand with both of hers and began to swing her. When she let go the guild master performed two flips before she drew her weapon and placed both her feet at the base of the head of into which she wrapped herself around the pole. As she reached the destination in her descent, she shouted, “Wrath of the Dragon!” She shattered both TJ's barrier and the surrounding area. “Rally unto me my companions! The time to strike back is now!”
    The fractured earth came down in a cloud of dust and hid the group on the inside of the veil.
    “Ch-Chief? How did you-” TJ's thought was quelled by Peorth's hand.
    “There is no time for questions. We must act.” He offered a silent nod in response.
    Thee took position in front of TJ. “Keep an eye on Su will ya'? We'll handle these guys.”
    “You think I need your help? Get over yourself,” Su remarked.
    The Abellan stole a glance at her and grinned. “Talk back when you're not incapacitated Su. You can't fight anything like that.”
    “You think I need my arms and legs to kick your ass? I'll gnaw at your legs if it'll shut you up.”
    Peorth and Thee disappeared into the dust and TJ remained on guard stealing glances within the veil in hopes that the two would not be approached. Su struggled to shift her fingers with furrowed brows and grit teeth.
    “It looks like we're safe for now.” He gripped his guitar tighter. The sounds of combat around them and the battle cries of his teammates made him wary. Without knowing where they were, healing them and supporting them would be a difficult task. On the other hand, if he took his eyes off of Su, she could be attacked while he remained focused on the others. “You holding up okay? I think the Chief and Kooh might know a spell to cure the pollen.”
    “Do I look okay to you? 'Cause I am! I'm fuckin' great!” He smiled. If she was berating him then she was alright, for the most part.
    The sound of hissing caught him off guard and he raised his guitar with trembling hands, searching around him for the cause. Three arachne descended from the tree branches and surrounded the two.
    “O-oh...this is bad. This is really bad.”
    “Kill them. Like, now.”
    He took a deep breath and closed his eyes for but a moment. “I'm on it!” Two arachne remained hanging next to each other and he challenged them first. Taking a swing at the first, he overestimated and only cut the web as it released it, landing on the ground next to him. He twirled on his heel and raised the guitar over his head as he did, bringing it down on the creature only to find his weapon colliding with the ground as it leaped to the side. The swing reverberated from his arms to his torso leaving him shaken up, and the second arachne made its move then to leap over to him and bite into his arm. He cried out as he dropped his weapon to punch the spider twice and force it to let go. “I'm just a bit rusty...” He chuckled through grit teeth, holding his bloody wound.
    “Yeah that's great and all but I'd rather not be eaten so get to work!” Su hissed eyeing the third arachne approaching her.
    “Got it.” He picked up his guitar and strummed it twice. “Two Arrows of Lights!” On the third strum the arrows shot towards the spider and stopped it for a brief while, causing it to hiss at him and back away from his companion. “Alright, now for you two.” The arachne on his left hissed and spit poison at him, to which he raised his guitar to block. The strength in his arm began to fail him and he lowered the guitar shortly after to take a deep breath and grip the dripping wound once more. This is bad, he thought to himself. The other arachne skittered towards him and he stopped its approach with a crouch behind his guitar's base. Immediately after blocking it he shoved it away and placed the guitar on his back. He held out both hands and a chunk of ice appeared before them. “Ice Storm!” He began to spin and the chunk of ice split into many and followed suit. When both he and the spell came to a halt, he gripped his guitar's neck with both hands. “Elemental Mastery!” The weapon froze over and he dashed towards one of the two and leapt towards it with his weapon armed. He slammed the guitar over its head and hit it once more to crush the abdomen, then kicked it aside. Now for the next one. As he dashed towards the other, he let his bitten arm drag the guitar along as he ran past his companion, “Hailstone!” A small white ring opened where his hand was and a series of icicles emerged from it and pelted the creature as it attempted to devour Su again.
    “How long do you plan on keeping this at bay? You could have just blasted the damn thing with any of those spells you used in your other fights, dumbass!”
    “We're trying to be mana efficient here remember?” He turned his focus to the other arachne and watched as it too, watched him approach. So long as it remained where it was, he would have no problems bringing it down and moving on to the third. He leapt towards it and slammed his guitar down, missing it once more as it skittered away from him. It had to be the one that bit him the first time, which meant its actions may follow the same pattern. In spite of his body's reaction, he mustered his strength to his legs and dove forward to avoid the creature as it leapt at him in turn. Remembering what Su had taught him during their training session, with a wave of his hand he threw a small ball of water towards it and managed to get some on its body and legs. Moments after he froze it and rose to his feet. “Nowhere to run now.” He walked over to it and raised his guitar above it, bringing it down three times, and two more just to be sure that the creature was dead. “Alright Su I'm coming now!”
    “Could you be any slower?!”
    He caught a glimpse of the spider closing in on her and preparing to bite her. In a desperate attempt to stop it, he tossed his guitar with all his might and sprinted towards it. “Elemental Mastery!” His fists were hardened with sand followed by a second coating of rock and he dove at the spider, the two tumbled away from Su until he found himself atop it. Without a second to spare he immediately started pounding away at the abdomen until there were hardly any remains of it. He found himself coated in a strange green liquid afterwards. “I got it!” He walked back towards Su and she frowned.
    “Don't come near me. You're gross.”
    “Is that what you say to someone who just saved your life?” She clicked her tongue. “I'll accept that too.”
    Peorth and Thee approached, the guild master nodding with approval.
    “Well done TJ. You made the right choice in that scenario and handled it well despite the given circumstances. Though you were correct to follow my orders in our mana consumption, I must amend the statement. It would be best if we used it as the situation will call for it. If you find your allies in danger, do not be afraid to use more than you would under normal events. We should not risk our allies' lives for such a small matter.” She blinked and reached out to him which startled him slightly. “My apologies, but you are hurt.”
    “Eh? This?” He chuckled, “It's nothin', just a scratch.”
    “It's still bleeding,” Su added. He raised a finger to his lips and Thee laughed.
    Peorth placed a hand to the wound and it gave off a faint glow, quickly closing it. Despite being a Bard, she was much more skilled at healing than he was. Had she been practicing?
    “Thanks Chief.”
    She gave him a nod and whistled. Kooh suddenly fell from the tree tops with her wings behind her back, and knelt down before Peorth.
    “You rang?” She placed her dagger back in the sheath and grinned at the guild master.
    “Have you cleared the other path?” Peorth asked.
    “Yes'm. Every last one of 'em Ma'am.” Peorth gazed at Kooh for a couple of moments and she blushed, then placed both hands to her face. “Don't stare at me like that Princess!”
    “You two are making me feel embarrassed doing things like that.” Thee said rubbing the back of his neck.
    “Can we get a move on here? If I wanted to be face down in the dirt I'd be dead,” Su muttered. Kooh walked over and crouched down in front of her. “No, not you. I'd rather have that moron TJ carry me than you.”
    “Just close the lips and enjoy the moment while it lasts kiddo. The next person who marries you might be the father of the next God's Governor,” Kooh laughed.
    She lifted her up bridal-style and Su protested vehemently.
    “Let's be on our way then, shall we,” Peorth suggested.

    After a short walk the team came across their first goal, the Iris Stone that awaited atop the pedestal. TJ looked up to it and took a deep breath. How long had it been since he came across an Iris Stone? The last he had found was in the City of Iron, following his battle with Yuta. He felt his heart ache at the thought that these were the last traces of Iris' existence she left for him to find her way to her, and that he passed on the opportunity. He stole a glance down at his companions who now walked the path to a brighter future alongside him and felt a bit more secure. Within that time frame he caught Su mouthing to him, “Get on with it”. He chuckled. Looking back to the stone he reached out towards it.
    “Will you activate the Iris Stone,” It asked him.
    “Yes,” He replied.

    Peorth's shard of the Heart of Yggdrasil began to resonate and glow as the flash of light TJ saw took him to a part of his past. He saw his younger self headed somewhere, the boy wearing a serious expression. In the next picture he found himself opening the path to a shed, precious little if any light barely came in; only that from the open door. Following that he saw himself with a young girl, dressed in rags and shackles on her legs and feet, her hair rather shaggy. The two were playing a board game, which seemed to be checkers. In the next, there was three of them within the darkness, the other girl clean and well dressed in a regal outfit, with her hair tied in twin tails. The three sat together and held hands. One final picture appeared and the three were smiling together, the unkempt girl's bangs moved aside revealing a face that looked alike to the other girl's. Twins?
    The Sound of Frequency brought him back to the frozen reality and he felt shaken up for a moment. He found the Iris visual standing before him and he listened carefully to what she had to say. “The Dark Forest was a rather tough place to get through but we've come this far. Foe Mansion isn't far from here. Will you save at this location,” It asked. TJ frowned. Iris very rarely, if ever left useful messages to her whereabouts. Though perhaps these were thoughts that she had upon coming through these places?
    “Yes,” He answered.

    He found himself engulfed in light once more and as it cleared away there he saw the two children, the young unkempt girl on her knees and he crouched down to meet her, their pinkies interlocked.
    “Promise me you'll come back to visit,” A quiet, raspy voice requested.
    He gripped his ears to prepare for the noise and found himself back in the present. Placing a hand to the stone and holding one hand to his left ear, he waited the sound out. Afterwards he climbed down the ladder to meet with his companions.
    “So, what'd you see? Anything interesting?” Kooh asked with a gleam in her eyes.
    He opened his mouth for a moment and closed it, then smiled at her with a shake of his head. “No, it was a pretty bland memory. Let's get a move on, Su looks like she's ready to gnaw at your shoulder Kooh.” Just as he said Su was glaring at them with grit teeth.
    “Princess-do you wanna burp the baby?”
    “Gettin' real tired of your shit,” Su muttered.
    The three clambered down the ladder and off of the two slabs of land towards another that lead uphill. Peorth pulled on the strings of a ladder that waited at the base and climbed up briefly after, followed by Thee, TJ and Kooh. As they ascended the hill, at the top of it they could see Foe Mansion clearly, bats flying about from it and other mysterious creatures skittering in the darkness. The ground itself was pitch black and the trees wispy and dead.
    With good time they found themselves at the doors of the mansion, the entire place looking as if it were to fall apart at any moment. The mansion seemed to lean slightly, the broken shutters slamming against the windows only barred off by rather oddly-shaped bars that seemed to twist at the tops and bottoms. The wood purple with a black brick roof, two black double-doors with an unusual design upon them beckoning weary travellers to open them and meet the horror that awaits within.
    “Creepy,” TJ thought aloud.
    “I can walk perfectly fine now so put me down,” Su said. Since they stopped at the Iris Stone Kooh had started carrying Su on her back.
    “Are you sure you don't want me to carry you anymore? If you'll do it for me we can switch on the way back.” Su laughed mirthlessly and Kooh let her go without any fore-warning. The girl landed on her feet and sneered.
    “It will only become more difficult from here on in. I pray that you are all prepared for the challenges to come,” Peorth told them.
    “We're ready Peorth, so don't you worry about us. Just lead the way and we'll follow,” Thee assured her.
    TJ and Kooh gave nods of agreement and Peorth nodded back at them. She walked towards the door and pressed a hand against each. “Then let us press on.”

    The group changed formation, having their rear stand as the vanguard. The inside proved even more eerie than its counterpart, the hardwood flooring was rotted through and the chandeliers upon the ceiling gave the room a faint buy dying light from the blue flames that lit the candles upon it. The walls had coffins stacked upon each other resting against them along with small tables featuring chipped vases and dead flowers within them. The sound of chainsaws had the both TJ and Thee rather unsettled.
    “I'm not crazy, right? You guys hear those chainsaws too,” TJ asked.
    “Loud and clear.” Su smirked. “Scared?”
    “Absolutely terrified is more like it. The last thing I want to be is a...an Abellan burger.”
    Kooh knit her eyebrows while patting him on the head, “Don't worry too much about it TJ. I'm sure you'd be delicious. I could eat you up right now.”
    “That's not the issue here!”
    “Jokes aside, we should probably get a move on. I don't wanna face whatever's hauling those things around either but...they stand between us and Pandora. We don't have much choice in the matter,” Thee added.
    Kooh gave the three behind her a thumbs-up and began to walk through the hallway. She climbed up a rather large step with TJ quickly following up beside her. Nearby another blocked their path and the two did the same, the Absolute catching a glimpse of a girl in overalls and brown boots nearby.
    “There's...There's someone over there. Excu-” TJ cried out.
    “TJ wait,” Kooh tried to stop him but he caught her attention.
    The girl he saw turned around, a red glint in the holes of her hockey mask and her blonde braids swinging in their direction as she revved the chainsaw held by gloved hands. Upon noticing them she began to shout what sounded like terror and a war cry combined and charged towards them, TJ screaming in response.
    “W-what do we do?!”
    “Fight it off!”
    With a wave of her hand, three thin needles appeared between her fingers and she closed her fist, immediately tossing two into the robot's legs and one into it's left biceps, a series of cords with a metal plate for a shoulder in place of skin. The robot slowed down and the left arm temporarily fell limp, causing the chainsaw to drag along the wood and break it apart.
    “A robot? This just gets weirder by the second...”
    “Now's now the time to talk kiddo. We have to take it out as fast as we can!”
    “I-I'm on it!” He raised his hands skyward and pointed both towards the Agasura. “Hailstone!” Upon his words a ring opened before him and fired a barrage of icicles.
    As he performed the spell Kooh dashed towards it and came to a grinding halt after sliding past it all while drawing her dagger and leaping onto it's back. As she did the machine rose to it's full height and swatted at her as she gripped it's hair and drew her weapon back. With a fierce stab she pierced the neck and ripped the wires out, causing it to stop once and for all. The chainsaw fell to the ground and remained as it was.
    “How did you know,” TJ asked.
    “The Princess and I have scouted out Foe Mansion before,” She smiled. “These fine ladies are known as Victors. They're an awful lot more aggressive than they used to be though. The strange thing about it is, they're not Agasura. They're just robots.”
    As Peorth approached and shut down the chainsaw she examined the Victor thoroughly. “Perhaps it is not the Agasura's King's Dominion that causes them to become so aggressive. I believe someone may have come through and programmed the Victors to act in such a manner. We must be mindful that it is not only the Agasura that intend to stand in our way. There are human factions likely hidden in the shadows that seek to impede us in any ways possible. At the spearhead of this stands the Dark Moon. Though crippled, I believe that they will act again, and likely soon.” She explained. She turned her gaze to Kooh, “It would be best if we spoke of countermeasures and found allies to quell the threat should the need arise.”
    “Say the word and whoever needs to be taken down, will be.”
    “We must have patience. I feel that there's no need for such measures as of yet. There may yet be another means. We only need seek it. For the time being, our goal remains finding and defeating the Seven. Let us not lose sight of this.”
    Kooh grinned, “Of course Princess. Okay my lovelies, follow me!”
    The group nodded and followed in her stride. From their vantage point, they could see a floor a fair distance beneath them and the Victor that patrolled it. Kooh jumped down without a second thought and landed barely making a sound as she did. TJ swallowed hard, followed her stumbling as he did followed by Su, Peorth and Thee last.
    “Get ready, here comes the next one,” Thee told them.
    Kooh made her move first, drawing her ice needles and tossed them as she did the first. The Victor tumbled aside and successfully avoided all three, it continued its rampage as the girl furrowed her brows. She pointed both hands towards it and brought out two massive icicles by using the spell Ice Fear and found further disappointment as the Victor tore through them with her weapon. Su pulled the two back and tossed her dagger at it's mask causing it to stumble for a moment. In the short time she had she ran past it and kicked it in the back, knocking it down for a moment to retrieve her dagger.
    “What are you waiting for? Get on it,” Su shouted.
    As it rose to its feet Thee rushed it with a low sweep of his blade, grazing the boots as it leapt back and took a swing at Peorth. She fended off the blade with the tip of her spear as she skidded to a halt, and charged it again. The Victor turned to Thee and he drew his blade to fight off the chainsaw while Peorth approached its flank and thrusted her spear into it. Sparks rained from where she stabbed and the robot let out an enraged cry, nearly disarming Thee through sheer force. It turned towards the guild master and knocked her aside with the pole of her weapon while keeping it stuck in place. As it charged towards the incapacitated Peorth Kooh and Su jumped on it from both sides, thrusting their weapons into both arms. It managed to shake Kooh off while Su willingly let go to grab hold of the spear and plunge it even deeper into the Victor. Electricity ran through the weapon and across its body as it came to a stop.
    “My apologies,” The guild master said, “I was far too reckless.”
    “Try and do the world a favour and not die to a common enemy please? I mean if you're gonna go out, go out like a boss...to...you know, a guardian or something,” Su snickered.
    “I will do my best to keep to that.” The God's Governor frowned.
    Pulling both her own and Su's weapon from the Victor she tossed the dagger to her companion, “We've gotta be careful too. Jumping on it like that could've ended with one of us becoming mince meat.”
    TJ offered Peorth a hand and she rose to her feet, dusting off her dress as she did. “You okay Chief,” He asked.
    “Yes. Thank you for your concern.” She pulled her spear from the robot and stood it up by her side. “Let us proceed.”
    This time around TJ lead the group as Kooh caught up, the group finding themselves at another vantage point. Below a Victor stomped around looking rather annoyed. He took a deep breath and jumped down with his guild mates not far behind. The enraged cry of the Victor followed by a second sent a chill down his spine.
    “Kooh!” He shouted stealing a glance at her as she smiled back at him. A series of icicles tore up the ground before them and impaled the Victors feet, freezing them in place briefly.
    “Nobody told me not to be mindful of my mana consumption.” As she walked past TJ with a smile and a wink, she raised a finger to her lips and lead the engagement on the Victors.
    He could not help but laugh at her attitude as he and the others followed her. “I've got your back Kooh! Ice Storm!” As he approached the shard of ice appeared and shattered, surrounding him in icicles that assailed his enemies.
    Through the cloud following the spell's end Thee's blade emerged, spinning towards the closer of the two victor's and tearing open the chest, revealing the insides before returning to him. The two managed to break free of Kooh's binding and charged into the cloud taking separate paths. Both swung wildly in what seemed to be an attempt to clear away the haze. The first coming across Peorth with her spear pointed directly at it. At a moment's notice she assaulted it with two swings from her weapon and a third blow powerful enough to split the air in its back. To ensure it would not rise again she thrusted her spear into its back while it was fallen, which pierced the other side and she tore it open, ripping the cords out and tossing them aside.
    The haze began to dissipate and revealed TJ who was catching his breath with an uneasy smile on his face after he discovered he was the next target.
    “Ah ah ah! Not so fast,” Thee said as both Su and Kooh approached from its flanks and stabbed both feet causing it to collapse to the ground. Thee's blade came crashing down upon its back not once but twice, splitting it from the center up, leaving the head intact.
    “Thought I was a dead man there,” TJ said with a sigh of relief. “Used up a heck-ton of SP to maintain that spell's after-effect. Didn't even know I could do that.”
    Su snorted, “You'd be surprised. The Special Power skills might only have one way to use them but sometimes you can make something of it. Don't experiment too much or you'll probably die trying. Knowing you.”
    “Are you worried about him G.G?” Kooh asked with a hand to her mouth.
    “Worr-who the hell do you think you're calling G.G? I've got a name too, dumbass.”
    She smiled at the God's Governor. “As Axle once said, 'everybody gets one'.” Everyone aside from Peorth seemed rather dumbfounded by the statement.
    “It should be safer now. Let us take refuge in the next room.” Peorth suggested.
    The guild master entered a nearby doorway and inside was a staircase. She lead the way up a flight and opened another door awaiting at the top of it. Within the room was a couple of ladders that lead to platforms that likely lead to other portions of the mansion, and little else. She asked TJ to remove his rucksack and doled out some SP potions to her guild.
    “I hope there's no more of those girls lying in wait,” TJ chuckled, “just those few gave us enough trouble as is.” He paused for a moment. “You know, I think we swapped our formation too early.”
    Su glared at Kooh who placed a finger to her chin, averted her gaze and stuck her tongue out, “Whatever are you talking about Little Lamb?” He raised an eyebrow at the term that followed.
    “It is fine. There was no incident, and we have escaped unscathed. I am thankful for Kooh's decision,” Peorth commented.
    “Oh you! Don't flatter me too much or I might have to come over there and hug you.”
    “She got you damn near killed for it,” Su muttered. “I hope you're sure that you want that idiot to lead us further into this place. I'm not risking my ass under her leadership though.”
    Kooh glomped Su to the ground and rubbed her cheek against her subordinate's, “Now you, don't be so harsh hmm? Though I like that too...”
    Su pushed her away with as much force as she could hissing, “Let go! Let go you psychotic witch!”
    “You two seem to be having a lot of fun.” Thee chuckled with a sip from his potion. At the sound of his words Kooh raised her head like a dog at the sound of treats with a glint in her eyes and he coughed with a wave of his hand. “I don't want any! Just saying!”
    She shrugged and continued to assault Su, “Your loss!”
    TJ laughed quietly as he glanced at the group before him. Though his memories of the past were lost, he felt as if he had been with his new guild all of his life, and in that time nothing had changed. They were like a family that grew over time, constantly inviting new members to be a part of them. He closed his eyes for a moment recalling what he had seen in the Stones of Iris. Each of them seemed to have their own painful history, but in spite of it they were gathered here and still smiling despite what the past had done to them. Upon him were their hopes, hopes of returning home, being reunited with family, protecting the ones they held dear. For this they fought alongside him, and would lay down their lives for him. He would do everything he could to collect his memories to become as strong as he could be and be the hero that they needed. That the world needed.
    Su finally managed to get Kooh off of her and kept her away with her dagger, muttering obscenities as she fought off her superior. Peorth returned her empty flask to the rucksack and Thee finished off his. TJ assisted the guild master to her feet and the others rose in turn.
    “Alright team, let's move out,” Kooh exclaimed with a raised fist. “Right this way, ladies and gents. The other way leads to a closed space that has a Victor in it. It's not nice.”
    “Oh thanks,” Su added. “Remind me to avoid that the next time I come back here which'll be...hm...never.”
    Kooh climbed the ladder with the others following closely behind and opened the door leading to another stairwell. The group climbed the flight carefully and exited through another door, finding themselves at the highest floor of the mansion. As the vanguard emerged through the door Kooh placed a hand to her companion's chest and stopped him in place.
    “Careful there, startle her and she'll get the jump on you. Let me handle this. Be ready to follow up okay?” Kooh approached the young crying girl surrounded by a black coat and drew her weapon.
    She paused for a moment, sheathed the weapon and drew a bubble blower. Before TJ could ask she blew three bubbles, one of them making contact with the Agasura which caused her to throw off the cloak while Kooh leapt back. The girl dressed in a gothic lolita style dress with black wings emerging from her back placed both hands in front of her as two massive pairs of fangs appeared before and behind her.
    The fangs disappeared and TJ saw his chance to strike. He approached and prepared the Ice Storm spell but felt in that moment he was in danger. The crimson eyes remained locked in place with his own and in moments a thin stream of lightning surged towards him. Kooh pushed him aside and for the brief moment her hands touched him he could feel a jolt of electricity running through his body. She collapsed to the ground as Su and Peorth leapt over their incapacitated companion, Peorth plunging her weapon through the Agasura's chest and Su's through the neck. The body fell limply to the ground and the two retrieved their weapons.
    “K-Kooh!” TJ cried out lifting her body in his arms. “Are you alright?!” Her body temperature was awfully high and her hair rather frizzy, but she still offered him a smile.
    “I'm just peaches and gravy.” She turned her gaze to the guild master who wore a solemn expression. “Sorry you had to do that Princess. I dropped the ball on that one, didn't I?”
    Peorth shook her head and knelt down to place one of Kooh's arms over her shoulder. “Worry not for such a matter. Your safety is the only thing that concerns me right now. It will not do for me to lose you here.”
    “What do you mean Kooh,” TJ asked.
    “Fighting against the Vampanelars became a tad difficult for the Princess since she befriended one of them.” Kooh answered. “Though it's rare, not all Agasura seek to do harm to us or humanity. Though we're not sure of the details yet, we've noticed that it's possible to help them escape the place their kind is imprisoned and throw away their Agasuric nature to reclaim some of their humanity.”
    “It's possible to be friends with the Agasura?! I thought they were all evil!”
    “They pretty much are,” She chuckled, “But you know, just as Humans and Cerebians can change, so can the Agasura. Though since Asmodeus and the Seven are becoming active again, the chances of them rebelling against him decreased. In fact, they're all stronger now! Be extra careful you guys.”
    Peorth nodded solemnly. “Kooh is right. All Agasura are gaining strength from their King, as will the guardians of the Instance. They will be much more deadly than they once were, so they may do unpredictable things. Be very mindful of this.” She closed her eyes for a moment.
    “Here TJ, lemme' help Peorth on this one. We'll need you and Su as our front-line until Kooh can move again,” Thee suggested. With a nod he raised Kooh's arm and handed her off to Thee to which the two carried her from there.
    Before they started moving Kooh focused on Peorth for a couple of moments. “Hey Princess, will you come a little closer,” She asked weakly. Peorth's sapphires eyes shifted to her weakened companion and she tilted her head to hear what Kooh had to say. Swiftly and gently her lips touched the guild master's cheek and Peorth immediately flushed red.
    “Wh-” Thee nearly let go of Kooh in pure disbelief.
    Kooh smiled with her face much less lit up than her superior's and said, “I love you Princess.”
    Peorth averted her eyes and muttered, “Your thoughts are more than enough.”
    Su snickered, “Are you two going out yet? Might as well start now if you're not.”
    “Not happening! My little Princess is spoken for,” She grinned.
    The Abellan watched the two in shock and disbelief. “Sh-she is? Who's the other?”
    The girl smiled devilishly. “That's our secret.”
    “Kooh please.” The guild master muttered.
    “Sorry boys, my lips on the matter are sealed. Unless you wanna open them with a prince's kiss!”
    TJ waved off the comment. “N-no thanks. Let's keep going. Stay close Su, I think I'll need your help.” Eyebrows knit, he carefully gripped his guitar as he moved forward.
    “You don't need to tell me twice.” She answered as she twirled her dagger.
    After climbing a few large steps they came across a pedestal with two meager ladders on both sides that seemed as if they would break if someone was to climb them.
    “An Iris Stone,” TJ muttered. “Hang on a sec' I'm gonna see what it has to say.” He climbed the ladder and gazed upon the Stone of Iris. Before him stood another memory, and a key to piecing his past together, and perhaps hers. He reached out to the stone and gently touched it, the light growing stronger.
    “Will you activate the Iris Stone?” It asked him.
    “Yes,” He answered.

    He saw his younger self hand in hand with the young Peorth, the two emerging from a castle at what seemed to be the crown of Yggdrasil itself. In the following picture the two were running through the streets, people watching as they did. Following that, they stood at a stall where a young girl with unkempt hair, dressed in rags sat surrounded by grown men, clutching a loaf of bread tightly to her knees. The next picture revealed the group dissipating and the young girl being lead by the hand by Peorth. In the final piece, she was dressed in a regal outfit featuring the kingdom's herald, an ornate dagger resting before her as she bowed before the king and his daughter.
    The Sound of Frequency awakened him from his memory and he gazed upon Iris' visual. “After traversing the Dark Forest we've found ourselves in Foe Mansion. Deep in the heart of the mansion resides Pandora, the one who wields the box of calamity. I would recommend you save at this location,” The visual told him.
    “Yes,” He replied.
    Engulfed in light once more he saw his past self standing before a house that was partially encased in ice, massive chunks of it broken apart due to the ice emerging through the house itself. As he gazed upon it, the voice of a young girl rang through his mind. “Promise me that you will still the ripples in that girl's heart, so she may find peace.”
    The Sound of Frequency caught him off guard once more and he took a knee. Though he was getting used to it, it still proved overwhelming. Though he found himself with a new outlook on the scenario, he had no conclusive evidence as to what had happened to the twins. For the time being, he knew Peorth had been involved, and that a calamity had occurred. A costly one at that.
    “You ready or what?” Su shouted up to him.
    “Careful with how loud your voice is. If we can sneak past those other Vampanelars, better that we do. With Kooh out of commission and the two of us supporting her, our force is pretty weak, don't you think,” Thee asked. Su glared at him from the corner of her eye and snorted in response. “Glad we had this discussion.”
    TJ climbed down from where he stood and drew his guitar, giving a nod to his company and leading on with Su closely behind. They climbed a couple more large steps and found two Vampanelars standing on the two ahead of them, quietly crying beneath their cloaks. TJ turned back to the group and requested they follow his lead. Taking to the wall and carefully sidling across it to stay out of the Vampanelars' sight, he and the others made their way across it and past the tables that lined the walls towards a dead end. He signalled for them to wait and made his way towards the end of the platform, carefully preparing to climb down while minding the Vampanelar staring right at him. He waved to his guild mates and Peorth gazed back as he pointed to Kooh and awkwardly gestured for them to throw her down to him. Thee gave him a thumbs-up in response. As he started climbing down he froze in place as he caught a glimpse of a crimson glare and the grin of the Agasura that carefully watched him.
    “Oh shit!” He desperately began to slide down the ladder as quickly as he could as the Agasura followed after him with a nosedive, pulling him down and pinning him against the ground where two others awaited him. Her grin widened as she opened her mouth and hissed, leaning in towards his neck while he desperately tried to break free of her hold. With a last resort he slammed his head into her cheek and managed to crawl away as the other two approached. As the first recovered, Su fell from the platform with a bone-crushing landing and plunged her dagger through the Vampanelar's neck.
    “You're too stupid to be a leader! How many times have I told you-” She ripped her dagger out of the creature's neck and leapt in the way of the two to raise a barrier and stop their lightning from shocking her companion. “Not to get yourself killed! Could've been a damn vampire man-slave for the rest of your life, dumbass!”
    “T-thanks Su.” TJ muttered as he stumbled to his feet and drew his guitar.
    Su pushed him aside and let the barrier fade while the two Agasura cackled and drew claws to hunt down their prey. The two focused on Su first, both surrounding her and viciously taking swipes offering TJ the opportunity to dash in and land a single blow to the ribs on one of them. She turned to him and fired a stream of lightning that he dived to avoid, only to find himself dragged from the ground, disarmed and tossed to the other who caught him and gripped him by the neck.
    “Just one time...” Su hissed lunging towards her and stopping mid-way as her companion was used as a meat shield.
    “Got you now!” TJ uttered raising a hand to her face. “Arrow of Light!” A single jet of light was emitted from the palm of his hand and collided with the creature, causing her to lose her grip on him and find the two in swapped positions. TJ gripped her by the face and dragged her to the ground, violently bringing her down time and again. As the second flew towards him Su tossed her dagger into the creature's ribcage and dashed past it, she drew the blade and plunged it into the other side, pulled its hair and back and slit the throat, dropping the limp body as she did. Meanwhile TJ was still pounding his enemy into the ground while he gasped for breath.
    “Hey stupid,” she muttered, “you can stop anytime. That thing's as dead as it'll ever be.” He turned to her breathing heavily while covered in blood and dropped the corpse without a second glance. “Creep! What's with that look of blood lust?”
    “Blood lust? Do you think I like doing this?”
    “You seem to have the most violent way of fighting out of everyone here. So...yeah I'd say you do.”
    He took a glance at the corpses Su left behind and glanced back at her with raised eyebrows. “Those things are bleeding out of holes you created. That one has three.”
    “I got the job done and I did it quickly. No one said it had to be clean.”
    “Now now kiddies now's not the time to fight amongst ourselves,” Kooh chuckled as Thee carried her over. “We're all friends here right? Though I gotta admit, both of those kills are kinda nasty. You two don't hold back do you?” TJ chuckled nervously and Su scoffed. “You can kiss and make up now.”
    “If you make jokes like that on a regular Kooh, you might just hit a nerve,” Thee added.
    “We're just having a little fun.” She smiled.
    “Even in times of war, sometimes humour and time to rest are necessities.” Peorth said as she handed TJ's guitar to him, receiving a word of thanks in turn.
    “You get me Princess!” Peorth took the other arm and they carried on.
    Nearby they found another ladder that lead back up to another portion of the mansion. Su insisted that she lead, since TJ would likely get himself killed if he was in charge a second time. He had considered protesting the latter thought, but gracefully accepted and followed her as she began to climb, Peorth following him and Thee carrying Kooh up after them. The moment Su reached the top she stopped in place for only a moment, pulling herself up with incredible speed all while drawing her weapon. As TJ pulled himself up afterwards, he only caught a glimpse of the God's Governor with her weapon plunged through the heart of a Vampanelar.
    “H-huh? What just happened?” He asked as he glanced around the surrounding area. The Vampanelar's cloak slowly drifted down as Su arose.
    “I killed it. What does it look like,” She answered.
    “That was...quick. How'd you manage it?”
    She walked over to the wall and tapped it twice with her hand. TJ approached as the others made their way up and he noticed markings on the wall. “Climbed up, leapt off of here.” She pointed to the cloak. “Grabbed that to hide my jump and came down on the bitch. That answer your question?”
    “Yep.” He was both impressed and rather shocked. He considered himself rather lucky when the two fought there were no walls.
    “Let's move.” Su opened a door with a spiralling staircase and lead the way down. As they neared the bottom the sound of creatures cackling reverberated around the room and an eerie chill filled the air. Emerging through the door they found themselves in what seemed to be the basement of Foe Mansion, a series of small cloaked ghosts carrying scythes drifted about with blue wisps following in their wake. As he saw them TJ gripped his chest tightly and shook his head. Perhaps Straw Hat had been there once upon a time? The Abellan may have been with him then, but lost his memories of the time. The last time they had met was in his vision in Belos. He might never see him again, and the thought pained him even more. Peorth and Straw Hat were friends once also; how did she overcome his passing?
    “I think I'm fine now you two. Go to him, Princess,” Kooh whispered. Releasing her she stretched her arms and watched as Peorth approached TJ and gripped his hand tightly.
    “You remember him, do you not?” The guild master asked, her stoic expression focused on him.
    “I...I do. Seeing these reminds me of him. The last remnants of him now are his sword, and my memories. The fact that he had one created from these...creatures...means that you guys had been here before?” TJ glanced at her.
    Peorth nodded. “We had come during the period you had disappeared for the first time; that is, after you and Trinidell fell from Asgard. Trinidell, Kooh, him and I. We had come to scout out the area, though I had a greater idea in mind. In preparation for the ritual of sealing the Sinful Seven, I proposed that we enter the Gothic Room and request Pandora's cooperation by giving us her artifact.” The guild master shook her head with closed eyes. “How young and foolish I was. Pandora would not give up her treasure so freely to trespassers, and the only way to exit was via teleportation. We had the choice of doing that and defeating Pandora herself. I had lead them in challenging the latter, and they suffered scars for my poor decision. I should not have put my companions in such danger.”
    Su sighed. “What are you griping about? You're putting us in danger and your biggest concern is something that happened in the past? Get over it. Let's be honest look at this team. Look at it! You've got the best Treasure Hunter in the guild, two warlords, me, and him. What more could you need? If you expect us to die trying you're wrong. Hell, if I could keep this idiot alive before he got his upgrade I'm sure keeping the rest of you alive shouldn't be so hard.”
    avatar
    TJ

    Posts : 873
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 24
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Thu Jun 05, 2014 2:40 pm

    Pages 19-26:
    Kooh's eyes lit up at Su's compliment and Peorth smiled slightly. “Perhaps you are right Suuba. I am thankful that you have been with TJ from before the battle in Elfa. Had you not been there to challenge Choen Palm, we may have lost him then.”
    “I don't need your compliments; I'm doing this for me. But if the world got destroyed in the process even if I got my wish I'd gain nothing from it 'cause there'd be nothing to return to. Anyway you can fawn over me later. We've got business that needs to be done, so let's go.”
    “Right behind you G.G!” Kooh chimed raising a fist to the air.
    “Don't you dare start that again.” An angry glare was flashed over her shoulder. TJ and Thee chuckled as they followed along.

    The group climbed down and as they looked around they saw nothing but the walls and flames that licked the air surrounding the darkness. The Specters that had filled the room had disappeared without a trace, the chilling atmosphere they created remained. The five of them drew their weapons and remained in formation as they slowly continued on through the room, cautiously examining their surroundings as they did.
    “This is new.” Kooh scratched her cheek with a finger.
    “Some of these guys have some interesting tricks up their sleeves but ghosts? Can we fight them,” TJ asked.
    “Oh absolutely. I dunno if we can fight them while they're invisible though!” The group had passed a ladder under Peorth's lead and stopped at a second. “What should we do here Princess? If we start climbing we'll only be vulnerable all over again.”
    Peorth closed her eyes for a moment, “We have very little choice in the matter Kooh. To bring out our wings and utilize them would consume a great amount of mana. The Gothic Room is very close, and keeping ourselves prepared for Pandora is our top priority. It would be best if one of us ascended first, while the others remained at the ready in case of an attack. We must proceed knowing that the Specters could attack from any direction and height, so we must be wary of ourselves, and each other.”
    “Who do you want up there Peorth? I'll volunteer if no one else is willing to risk it,” Thee said.
    The guild master shook her head, “No, I will go. Should they appear and attack me, we shall respond accordingly.”
    Su glared at her viciously, “Are you an idiot? How many times have we said we can't afford to have you killed? Let me do it.”
    Peorth furrowed her brows slightly, “I have made my decision Suuba. You will stand guard with the others as I perform this, that is an order. TJ, I would like you to guard my blind spot as I climb. My spear aside, you have the longest reach of all of us with your guitar. The use of the weapon itself in place of spells will prove safer, and a much faster option. But as it is quite high, there will be a point that you cannot reach. Once I have ascended thus far, focus on protecting the others. If it is safe I will signal you to follow me.” She sheathed her spear. “Prepare yourselves! We begin now!”
    TJ drew his weapon and watched Peorth ascend the ladder as Kooh, Su and Thee stood guard surrounding the two, Kooh watching the backs of their teammates while the other two stationed themselves in case of an ambush. Peorth's ascent proved successful thus far, though the tension rose at the cacophony of Agasura cackling increased and grew ever closer. TJ watched her, sweat running down his neck and his guitar gripped tightly, his legs trembling as she rose closer to the top, out of his reach.
    She placed one hand on the landing and began to climb up, then jerked away from it at the sound of a Specter caught her attention and TJ shouted, “CHIEF BEHIND YOU!” The scythe and Specter emerged from the shadows and the weapon tore through her dress and skin, shedding her blood as she fell away from the ladder into the Absolute's arms. “Chief! Are you all right?”
    She cringed with shuttered eyes but gestured for him to let her down. “It is naught but a scratch. We must not be deterred so easily.
    “Enemies incoming from the west!” Thee shouted back to them as he raised his blade. Two soul flames were shot towards him and collided with his weapon, burning brightly and flickering out of existence afterwards. He lowered the weapon to his side and stormed towards them, taking a wide horizontal swing and cutting the air as they danced away from him and faded away while cackling. “This is a little bit frustrating, I have to admit.”
    “How the hell are supposed to kill these things?!” Su hissed keeping her dagger close to her with a hand ready to cast.
    “All Agasura are weak to the Divine Arts. There must be a spell that can cancel out their transparency!” Peorth explained glancing around the area. “There is something here that does not belong.”
    Kooh laughed, “Mysteries never were my specialty. I'm a killer, not a detective.”
    Su raised an eyebrow, “If there's something that doesn't belong here, it's gotta be those candelabras. I mean, blue flames? Seriously?
    “Strike them down!” With a wave of her spear Peorth split three candles nearby and the room dimmed. Kooh and Thee followed suit as TJ remained in close quarters with Su. “TJ, use the Sunlight spell now!”
    “I-I'm on it!” He shouted as he clasped his fist and raised a glowing hand skyward. “Sunlight!” A small sphere of light rose into the air and came to a halt beneath the roof, lighting a large portion of the darkened basement. The Specters hidden in the darkness became visible and shrunk away from the light.
    “We must make a hasty retreat while TJ maintains the spell! This is a battle that we must not risk! Go quickly!”
    Su called them over with a wave of her hand and cupped the two together. “You idiots better get up there on the first jump or you're on your own,” She muttered.
    “Let me handle that Su. I'm probably the strongest in our group, not to offend TJ,” Thee said.
    “None taken. I'd be crazy to try to wield that pyramid of yours,” He answered with a laugh.
    “Ladies first.” Su snorted as she placed a foot in his hands and he boosted her up, the girl easily landing and gesturing for the others with a thumbs-up. “Next!” Kooh followed suit and skillfully landed near Su. Peorth followed after and rose higher than the others courtesy of Thee, to find herself caught by Kooh; the Queen offered a word of thanks as she was lead towards the Gothic Room entrance. TJ looked at Thee with knit eyebrows and slumped shoulders to which he smiled in turn, gesturing for the Abellan to proceed. TJ was soon after flung onto the platform and landed with clumsy footing, returning to the ladder and looking down as the effect of the Sunlight spell dissipated and the Specters began to close in on Thee. Drawing his blade with his left hand and climbing the ladder with large leaps, he fended off the ghosts and grabbed hold of TJ's hand while the Abellan took hold of him with both and pulled him up.
    “Hurry guys!” Kooh shouted as the three entered the massive gate. As the two approached TJ caught a short glance of the gate; two tall brown pillars surrounded the ring, what seemed to almost be a creature itself, the massive fangs on the inner portion and the eerie blue eyes and ears atop it. The swirling blue energy within brought back memories of his journey to Kimara Research Laboratory. Thee grabbed hold of TJ's hand and pulled him into the gate before the Specters could reach him.

    The group reconvened on the inside of the gateway and the two boys found the others resting, Peorth's dress removed from the shoulders to her chest as Kooh tended to the wound on her back.
    “O-oh...sorry.” Thee turned away. TJ turned his head the moment he caught a glimpse of the two.
    “Forgive me for my immodesty. If I was to wear my dress I fear that it would make things more difficult for Kooh,” The guild master said.
    “Ahh it's just a little skin. What're you two freaking out about,” Su snickered.
    “We do have morals you know. I try to keep to those,” Thee muttered.
    Kooh removed her hands from Peorth's back and gave an approving nod to her work. The wound had stopped bleeding and healed slightly, but it remained open. “Alright Princess, that should just about do it. I'd say that you shouldn't overwork yourself until it heals but Pandora is waiting for us.” Kooh gave her a pat on the back and caused her to shudder. “You should really take better care of yourself Princess. You have lovely skin. Besides, it's not like you to be so reckless now is it?”
    “It is true that it was reckless of me to approach things in such a manner, but I fear not for my outer appearance in place of the safety of my companions. These scars are miniscule in comparison to what those before us have suffered,” Peorth answered.
    “You idiots never change,” Su muttered. “Can we get a move on now or do you two need a moment?”
    Kooh smiled devilishly, “I can appraise you if you like Su.” The God's Governor covered her torso with her arms and backed away.
    “Shall we then?” Adjusting her dress and rising to her feet Peorth lead the team down one flight of stairs with another adjacent to it at the other side of the room. A red carpet blanketed the steps and as they descended the room came into view; the walls decorated by a gorgeous crimson wallpaper with ornate designs, candelabras on two pillars in the center of the room and a grandfather clock beneath the pair on the eastern side of the room. A set of three blanketed tables sat aside from the stairs they emerged on and in the center of the room placed against the wall was an unusual painting of a woman created in a modern art style. Three chandeliers each holding a set of candles hung from the roof and lit the entire room. The group gathered upon the carpet resting before the painting with the guild master standing before them all.
    The painting itself featured a lady sitting, her hands upon her lap. She was clad in a dark violet dress with frills both white and violet, a matching hat featuring flowers surrounding the rim with feathers on the back and a veil covering one eye. She had long blonde hair and a set of markings beneath her visible eye. A small blue necklace with a black string rested above her chest. TJ's eyes opened wide as he caught a glimpse of one of the eyebrows of the lady was raised.
    “What filthy little children have invaded my master's sanctum?” She asked.
    “It talks?!” TJ cried out grabbing his guitar.
    Peorth placed a hand to his chest and answered, “My name is Peorth Emeria Ásvaŕtlim, contractor to the Abellan and reigning queen of Asgard. We have come seeking an audience with Pandora, Lady Hug. May we parley with her?”
    “My master has no time or patience for you creatures and your requests. Away with you this instant!”
    Su grit her teeth, “This painting's got some kind of problem. Where's a permanent market when you need one? I'll show her what us 'creatures' are capable of.” She grinned impishly. “A little vandalism won't hurt Pandora any.”
    “I understand that you and Pandora have your circumstances, Lady Hug, but you must understand that we must see her at any costs. Our world is in danger, and should it be your home, the Gothic Room will be lost in the battle to come! Should you give us the opportunity to fulfill our duties, Pandora will need not remain within the Gothic Room. The gods will forgive her if the Sinful Seven are returned to their rightful place!”
    “You have tried my patience for far too long you impertinent insects! Leave this instant or I will eliminate you!”
    Thee chuckled wryly as he drew his sword, “Why am I not surprised that it's come to this?”
    “Negotiations were made to fail kiddo. You'll get used to it someday,” Kooh laughed.
    “So be it! Yggdrasil, prepare for combat! Spend your mana wisely, we may have need to battle Pandora also, should she refuse us. TJ, Suuba, now is the time!”
    “We can finally let loose? I've been waiting a goddamn long time for this,” Su chimed.
    “Right. Let's do this Su,” TJ answered.
    She followed TJ away from Lady Hug as the battle began but seemed to be in thought for a moment. “Something doesn't feel right here.”
    “It's just been a long time since we used the Frequency. Don't worry so much. Besides, those guys are already fighting Lady Hug and they need our strength. We can't waste time having doubts.”
    “No but this isn't just some doubt stupid. There's something wrong. You can feel it right?” He raised his eyebrows with a grin and she frowned in turn.
    “Alright I'll go first and show you, then you can follow afterwards.”
    “H-hold on don't-”
    He pounded his fists together as he shouted, “Frequency!” The mana began to flow through him and his eyes opened wide as an abnormal sensation ran throughout his body. “What...the...” He collapsed to his knees as Su began to flicker in and out of his sight, his entire body trembling as the bile rose in his throat. After discharging it he collapsed to the ground and fainted.
    “Man down!” Thee shouted as Lady Hug stretched out and clawed at him.
    “What? Oh! TJ's down for the count and Su went with him! What happened?!” Kooh cried out while slashing at the painting as Peorth fought it off with the point of her spear.
    “I dunno but it's not a good sign!” Thee leapt from where he stood and brought his blade down three times with two more leaps and transitioned into a retreating stance as she emerged again and took two swipes at him.
    Kooh raised a hand to perform Shattered Berg; the berg appeared again and shattered to pieces, firing a multitude of pieces of ice towards the painting only damaging it slightly as the spell dissipated. “Oh boy, she's one tough cookie.” She dashed over and took a horizontal swing with her dagger followed by a rising flourish. Lady Hug turned her way, seemingly inhaling air and discharging a cloud of green smoke towards her. “Poison, be careful guys.” She covered her mouth and backed away as far as she could.
    Both Thee and Peorth attacked at this time in a flurry of swings and lunges, the two backing away as Peorth glanced at thee and whispered, “Create an opening and move a safe distance away. I will strike then.” He nodded to her and took action, spinning towards Lady Hug and raising his blade at her and back down, chipping away at her face.
    “Enough,” She roared inhaling once more and breathing out a steady stream of flames. Thee jumped back and threw his blade towards her, slicing lower on the picture and bringing the blade back to him.
    Peorth charged in, slamming her spear into the ground and spears emerged from all around her to impale the painting. While she drew her weapon Lady Hug emerged again and swatted her aside with a massive claw. The guild master tumbled towards her companion and was stopped in place by her.
    “You've gotta be more careful Princess. You're already hurt and now you've got even more wounds.” Kooh told her as she helped her onto her feet.
    “These wounds are faint. I must persist.” Peorth replied rising to her feet before she rushed to her spear and back into the fray.
    Lady Hug inhaled once more while Kooh leapt closer towards her to hold both hands out and create a mirror of ice that blocked the poisonous gas headed towards her allies. With a wave of her hand the center of the mirror shattered and the icicles lodged themselves within the painting. Following that she pointed towards it once more and the outer ring expanded toward Lady Hug in another set of pointed icicles.
    The painting began to grow flustered and let out an enraged cry with enough force to fling the group towards the other side of the room where they each collided with the wall nearby the others. Following the event Lady Hug inhaled once more and a chilling breath emerged, ice immediately began to gather upon them from the ground up, freezing the incapacitated TJ over also.
    “I think we're in quite the pinch. Any ideas Princess?” Kooh asked wriggling the portion of her torso that had yet to be frozen.
    “Yes,” Peorth responded. She closed her eyes and concentrated, her entire body emitting a powerful glow that melted the ice around. As she arose sopping wet, she clenched her fist and swung her spear horizontally as Yggdrasil's Herald appeared beneath her. With a wave of the weapon she cleared away the mist; she slammed the tip of her weapon against the ice that coated the ground and shattered it, releasing her captured companions. “I shall end this now Lady Hug!” As if in a single movement she appeared in the face of the painting and unleashed a flurry in a matter of seconds. Lady Hug was punctured with holes from the bottom to the top, a look of pure shock as with a final stab Peorth withdrew her weapon and watched as the painting began to rumble and disappear in a series of flames.
    “You have to teach me those things Peorth.” Thee said in awe.
    “The Warlord Style Awakening Techniques require vigorous training and constant vigilance Thee.” The guild master answered standing her spear by her side. “If you so desire to learn the Divine Arts, I shall drill them into you through a series of test and training sessions.”
    “You know, I think I'm just a little bit unprepared to master the Divine Arts. I'll stick with the usual stuff for the time being, thanks.”
    The group turned their focus back to the place that Lady Hug once was and from the flames emerged a lady that seemed to match the picture from her outfit to the markings upon her cheek. She levitated in mid-air, holding her dress with one hand and a crimson folding fan in the other; her legs were covered by stockings and upon her feet a pair of violet flats.
    “We finally meet again, Pandora,” Peorth said.
    “No need for introductions child. I remember you very clearly, Peorth, was it? My how you've grown. You've even brought old friends, and some new ones I see. So what brings you to my doorstep this day?” She chuckled as she extended her fan and waved it in front of her.
    “We've come for the same reason as we did the first, for the treasure you've kept safe for centuries. The Sinful Seven have finally returned and this is a sign of ill omens. It is only a matter of time before Agasura King Asmodeus returns and begins Geseni oto Niztchs. We cannot allow this to happen or all will be lost. I beseech you, allow us to assume control of the box and we will save both Jienda and all of the places upon it, including Foe Mansion and the Gothic Room.”
    Pandora held the fan before her face and raised an eyebrow. “In your conversation with my protector which you and your allies have destroyed, you had mentioned that should the 'Sinful Seven' as you know them be sealed, the gods will allow me freedom of this place. Is this true?”
    The guild master nodded. “God Ah had not put you here as punishment for your deed; he this so both you and the box would be safe from prying hands. He knew that in giving you the box that your curiosity would chance the possibility of it being opened. In preparation for this, he had created us. When the Agasura came to be as did those from the Dark World, God Ah and our goddess had long prepared our ancestors for the battle. You may recall the event, now known as the Agasuric War.”
    She smiled devilishly and closed the fan. “I recall it quite well. The creator and his companion had lead the fight against King Asmodeus quite magnificently. Their battle so intense they had caused a tear between worlds and the Agasuras escaped into another as God Ah had weakened them and your kind had prepared to seal them. Have they not returned to ravage your land?”
    “After centuries we have found very few signs of them but one. According to our source, they had been set free from their seals under the leadership of one man in an attempt to subjugate the world, and the second that opposed the inhabitants of it. The task was a failure, and in the process the creatures had run amok. Should Asmodeus gain control here, he may have them return in the battle against the Gods. This is why we stand here today. We must finish what our ancestors began, and end this war once and for all. To do this we have come here today in hopes that you will cooperate! With your assistance we can begin our task of sealing away the Sinful Seven and proceed to stopping Agasura King Asmodeus.”
    Pandora opened her fan once more and waved it gently with a coy smile. “That does sound like quite the tempting offer but that wouldn't be any fun, now would it? I've been in here for centuries waiting for a worthy group of adventurers to challenge me and claim my treasure as their own, if they were of a high calibre, that is. Ever since Asmodeus had placed his Dominion upon the world things have grown awfully dull. Those that came to Foe Mansion rarely, if ever, arrived at the Gothic Room alive. You may find their corpses beneath the floorboards if you search hard enough, my lovely children.” Kooh and Thee both looked upon Pandora with hatred flaring in their eyes, while Peorth remained steadfast. “Those that did, could not defeat Lady Hug. But you, you are the first. And you said that you brought God Ah's little treasure hmm?”
    “God Ah's...treasure?” Thee asked with knit eyebrows.
    “She means TJ kiddo,” Kooh answered.
    “God Ah values no one above any other. We are all equal. You too, are a part of this Pandora. I beg of you, please give the box to us and we shall undo what had been done.” Peorth knelt down and lowered her head.
    “So you say, but can you deny the fact that God Ah had created the child not to be his equal, but to be his successor? The child has inherited his abilities and those that not even he utilizes. He will succeed the creator and claim this world as his own, should he prove able to silence Asmodeus.” She smirked. “If this is the one who shall be my superior, I wish to see his abilities for myself, and those of the companions who walk by his side. Defeat me and my treasure is yours; fail here, and I will return to Asmodeus.”
    “Return...as I had feared you are already-”
    “Correct! I belong to Him, in both body and soul.” She placed the fan to her lips and smiled devilishly. “Show me what the new generation of God Ah's beloved creations are capable of! I have lived for this moment.”

    Peorth turned to her companions as she rose to her feet and prepared her weapon. “Yggdrasil, battle stations! We know not of what our enemy is capable of, so remain vigilant!”
    “Let the fun begin!” Pandora cackled with a wave of her fan.
    The flames of the candles on both sides of her flared and spread out towards the group, surrounding them. Thee charged in first and took a swing at her, she dodged to the side and avoided his blade.
    “Thee your flanks!” Kooh shouted as she tackled him to the ground and Peorth deflected a levitating sword that nearly impaled the two of them. “Looks like we've got a caster on our hands. My magic isn't gonna be too effective in this case.”
    “Above!” Peorth shouted as the chandelier fell from the roof and slammed into the ground which narrowly missed the two who crawled away. As the fire returned to its normal state the two arose to their feet as Peorth took stabs at Pandora, and successfully grazed her with one of four strikes.
    “This is just plain chaotic.” Thee muttered as he eyed the swords resting across the room.
    “How desperately you fight fascinates me greatly. Alas, the fun has only just begun. It'd be in your best interest to remain wary of your surroundings.” Pandora told them while she fanned herself.
    “TJ!” Peorth shouted before she turned her focus to him while the swords flew above their heads and pointed towards the incapacitated Abellan. As she prepared to make a move the tables beside him began to levitate and assaulted her from all sides.
    “I'm on it Princess!” Kooh broke out into a sprint that quickly became her skating as she left a thin trail of ice in her wake. As the swords came down she transitioned from a spin to a crouch; with a wave of her hand her body was coated in ice and she deflected the swords with her arm. They fell limply around his body while Kooh returned to her usual self, her right arm torn and bloody. “You're such a handful Little Lamb, but we'll protect you with everything we have.” She placed her hands to the ground and a small barrier of ice surrounded his body while Kooh remained on the other side. She turned to run back to where Pandora remained but was locked in place as a chandelier fell before her. “So rude!”
    Thee tossed his blade towards Pandora and she lowered herself to ground height just barely remaining above it. While Thee retrieved his blade Peorth fought past the falling chandelier to Pandora once more, the two dancing skillfully past each other's attacks. The guild master managed to pin the Agasura between the wall and the chandelier and took a stab at her chest only to find herself stopped by the fan. Her eyes opened wide as the tables surrounded her again and one of them slammed into her back and threw her off balance into another. Pandora waved her fan once more and one of the three pushed her towards the candles preparing to spit flames. The guild master found herself in the arms of Kooh and placed upright with a glimpse of a grin as the girl rejoined the battle. Thee caught Pandora off guard and managed a clean cut across her back.
    “Very clever, aren't you children? We are just beginning.” Pandora rose into the air and with a wide swing the sound of glass being shattered surrounded them as the shards themselves flew to her side and rained down upon the Gothic Room.
    Kooh pulled her allies towards her and raised a frozen shield from above her hand, deflecting the bits of glass and protected the two beneath her. She crouched down as the two made their way towards the different stairwells and she flung herself up towards Pandora with her dagger in hand using a chunk of ice that emerged from the ground; as she performed that the shards of glass returned to the window. The Agasura waved her fan and a table came to her rescue, successfully hitting Kooh but not before she plunged her weapon into Pandora's left arm. Thee tossed his blade and she avoided the stance by drifting to the side where Peorth awaited with a series of stabs. As Kooh approached the wall she stopped herself with a hand and foot, then fell towards the ground; she created an icy ramp as she did. She came down and slid upon it then launched her way towards Peorth who sheathed her spear and grabbed her hand, with one foot upon the railing; she spun around and tossed her subordinate towards Pandora who grabbed hold of her and dragged her to the lower floor, the two hit the ground with an incredible impact. Kooh dragged her weapon through Pandora's arm and ripped it out, cutting her face before she leaped back into a pair of somersaults to avoid a rain of swords in her wake. Thee stormed down the stairs and leapt over the railing to slam his sword down upon their target, missing her as she scrambled to her feet and back into a levitating form.
    Peorth fell from above creating a burst of light and spun her spear around her, knocking Pandora back into the shield that guarded TJ. Kooh followed after with an icy mallet and slammed it against the shield while Pandora avoided the blow, the ice cracking beneath her weapon's might.
    “Oops...sorry!” She raised a hand apologetically. The tables arose once more and one of the three collided with Kooh's chest causing her to tumble back beneath a falling chandelier. Thee stopped above her and held his blade above him stopping the descending fixture.
    “You shall not harm him!” Peorth roared beginning her Dragon Fang stance she began with a first unsuccessful lunge, leaping aside to land a successful strike from Pandora's left flank, and finally knocked her to the ground once more with a blow to the back. The guild master caught a glimpse of Thee while he helped Kooh to her feet and a wave of Pandora's fan, three swords seemed to appear from mid-air above her, each pointing down towards it. She had no time to react nor respond.
    In a flash of light TJ stood before her, the remnants of his barrier expanding throughout the room as a blue glint in his sclera faded and the usual brown shuttered eyes smiled at her. “Thanks for looking after me Chief. I'm a tad late but you don't mind if I join in, do you?”
    “It is...a pleasure to have you back.” She answered with a blink.
    “Su, you ready? Let's give this another shot with a different approach!” He pounded his fists together and the mana within him surged forth. “Frequency!” His eyes gained a green tint and Su emerged from the crystal in her kunoichi garb.
    “That Frequency's pretty convenient. It changed my clothes for me. Sucks to be you.” She snickered twirling her dagger in her fingers.
    “This...is alright with me. I get better with the Arcane Arts so I'm happy.”
    “TJ! Hi!” Kooh shouted as she threw ice needles at Pandora while she waved with her free hand.
    TJ took his guitar in hand and began to gently strum the chords, the wounds of his allies recovering steadily as they returned to the fray.
    “Feeling pretty good! Let's coordinate our attacks guys!” Thee shouted to the others bringing his blade down and across at their target.
    “No need to tell me.” Su answered drawing three shuriken between her knuckles and tossing them at Pandora, landing two in her leg and the other against the sword rack.
    “So this is the power of the Abellan hmm?” Pandora chuckled while blood ran from her in various places on her body. Her eyes were weary and her grip on her fan grew loose. “The child truly can master the three arts. Though I will not concede the box until my last breath.”
    “This need not end in your demise Pandora! Relinquish the box and the battle will come to a close!” Peorth answered raising her spear to the ascending Pandora.
    She laughed at the prospect. “If you want the box, you must kill me to obtain it.”
    “Oh we'll make sure of that,” Su said.
    “I dare you to attempt it child!” Pandora shattered the glass once more, all of her weapons rising and at the ready; from the candles' flames to a series of swords emerging from the racks. You've nowhere to run children, now perish.”
    “Did you forget who I am?!” TJ roared skidding to a halt amongst his guild mates. He slammed his fist against the ground and a series of vines emerged from the walls surrounding the lower floor, trapping them in.
    “Fool, you'll only burn your companions alive! An easy victory!”
    Pandora began her onslaught, the shards of glass, swords and flames rained down upon where they were stationed and the vines were alight with fire that licked the air and suffocated the atmosphere. As the vines began to burn into nothing but ashes amidst the flames a single flower coated in a thick layer of ice remained. The ice quickly melted away and the closed bud suddenly fired TJ out with his guitar in hand. As he drifted past Pandora he took a swing and hit her in her right flank, landing upon the top floor and waving his hand, firing the second of his companions. Kooh shout out from it and plunged her dagger into Pandora's chest, then grabbed hold of the chandelier beside her and her target's hair with the other. Before Pandora could respond Su was launched from the flower to put another dagger into her stomach and Peorth immediately after to drag her down with the pole of her spear. Finally Thee was released from the flower in a series of flips, bringing down his blade with a mighty downward stab.
    Pandora's fan fell from her hands as she struggled to rise and reach out towards the blade that impaled her. “V-very...impressive...Abellan.” She hacked up blood as she uttered a laugh. “Though it...matters not. A-after all. M-my Lord...has giv-given me...immortality!” She coughed again in a weak attempt to laugh. “No matter h-how many...times you eliminate me...I shall return!”
    TJ ran down the stairs narrowly avoiding the flames that lit them and rejoined his other companions on the ground floor, Kooh aside.
    “Alas, our goal was not to kill you but to retrieve the box.” Peorth reached out towards her and a blue glow surrounded her hand as one was emitted from Pandora herself. From within her a beautifully decorated pithos emerged and took it's place in Peorth's hand. “There is something else.” She reached out again and the blue necklace Pandora wore appeared in her hand. “I know not what you have decided upon this path for Pandora, but you and many others...those lost souls that have fallen to Agasura King Asmodeus. Someday I will find a way to save you all. Not only from his Dominion but from his control, and this endless cycle he has put you all through, willing or unwilling. In God Ah's name, I shall fulfill his wishes as well as my own.” She closed her eyes. “Forgive me for having resorted to this, but it is as you had chosen, and we have little other choice. We will do what we must to save this world.”
    Pandora chuckled weakly. “I've no need...f-for your sympathy...Asgardian. This is...what I h-had...wished for, and I...I have received it. It is your...victory, as is...my treasure. Now go...leave me...” Pandora let out one last sigh and closed her eyes.
    After retrieving their weapons Peorth turned to her group and gave them an approving nod. “It would be best if we made a hasty retreat.” A small magic circle appeared nearby, giving off a bright white light.
    “Princess! Don't leave me up here please!” Kooh shouted tightly gripping the chandelier.
    “Come on down Kooh! I'll catch you,” Thee chuckled.
    “My hero!” She let go of the fixture and crashed into Thee knocking him to the ground. “Where's my princess carry?”
    “You might have to give me a princess carry to the hospital. Might have given me a concussion on that one...”
    The two immediately followed their companions into the portal and exited the burning Gothic Room.
    Finding themselves back in Foe Mansion, the place returned exactly as it was prior to their arrival, they looked around uneasily.
    “We don't have to go back the way we came, do we? Those Victors and their chainsaws just don't sit well with me. And neither do the invisible ghosts,” TJ muttered.
    “No we do not. Come close everyone, I shall return us to Elias.” Peorth said drawing her Warp Crystal. The group gathered around her and in a flash of light they returned to the familiar city.

    The five had returned to the Guild Room and Peorth rested Pandora's Box amidst all of them.
    “How fascinating. This is the fabled Box that had sealed the Sinful Seven hmm?” Shabur asked removing his mask slightly.
    “Yes. Through trial and error we have successfully obtained it and another artifact she held. I am unsure of exactly what this is, but i believe once activated we will find out.” Peorth answered appraising the jar.
    “Can we just slow down a second? All of this shit is happening so fast and you haven't explained even a bit of it,” Su hissed.
    “What would you like to know?”
    “I've got a question.” TJ said raising his hand. “How did you do that thing...you know, extracting the box...or jar or whatever you call it out of Pandora?”
    “That? It is nothing more than a simple technique called Relic Recovery. It is something my tutors had taught me while I was a young girl. Our ancestors had created it as a countermeasure to prevent their artifacts from falling into the wrong hands. The initial spell is used to hide an artifact within a vessel. It is very rarely used, but it is a technique the finest Cerebian Treasure Hunters may learn in order to uncover the secrets of the past.”
    “So about this ritual,” Su began, “if you were to give TJ the power of more Agasura, wouldn't that make him...you know, more of an Agasura than anything else? If he had to use their powers that'd make him have a need for the Contemptuous Arts. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.”
    “That is a legitimate concern of mine. In truth, even I am unsure of exactly what will happen to TJ once we perform the ritual, but I believe that it is meant to be. Memorius Sanctum informed me of such, and I do not believe it will lead me astray.”
    “Now hold on a fuckin' second. Are you saying you've been lead by a freakin' book this entire time?! What the hell is that?”
    “It is no ordinary book Suuba. It is a legendary artifact, a tome, in fact. I am not the only one who has such a creation. The other proxies, Choen Palm and Iris Livier also likely carry a similar artifact, but what information mine holds and theirs will certainly differ, as I only have information on the Cerebians and their side of the concurrent conflict.”
    “And you're saying this book can tell the future?”
    “Tome, and it can tell me a small portion of TJ's future, but only that in the near future. It seems to have new information as we press on.” She summoned the book and flipped through the pages. “It says that TJ wearing the pendant is a necessity to completing the ritual. I have found instructions on performing the ritual also. Suuba, Kooh, I will require your assistance in this matter.”
    “What for?” Su raised an eyebrow.
    “At least two of the four God's Governors are required to perform such a task.”
    “What?!” TJ cried out, his gaze darted towards Kooh.
    “You were-” Even Thee was in disbelief.
    “Ah the cat's out of the bag,” Kooh cried with mock disbelief. “It's true, I'm God's Governor of Water.”
    “Figures,” Su snorted.
    “Well that actually explains a whole lot. Truthfully after seeing TJ and Kooh I thought that Cerebian Mages could be a Warrior-type class and still cast magic or use multiple elements,” Thee added.
    “TJ's case is a very peculiar scenario.” Peorth said closing the tome for a moment. “Due to his contract with Suuba, the two are able to master the spells that the other can utilize. Essentially, performing such a feat let alone such a contract would be nearly impossible for someone that is not the Abellan. Trying to open any other cores would put his life in certain danger.”
    TJ knit his eyebrows. “So why didn't you tell us you were God's Governor of Water all this time Kooh? Did it need to be a secret?”
    She placed a finger to her chin and rolled her eyes. “Mm...no, not really. On one hand I wouldn't want to make a big deal out of it or let anyone that shouldn't know, know. But on the other, I'm...kinda a failure as God's Governor.”
    “What do you mean?”
    Kooh turned to Peorth and the guild master nodded in return. “Would you like to see for yourself?”
    Peorth opened Memorius Sanctum once more and flipped closer to the end of the tome. “Release!” The pages began to glow and from it an ornate grey hourglass emerged, but there was no sand within.
    “Another artifact?” Su asked with a raised eyebrow.
    “Correct. This item is known as Garfitua's Hourglass. The creator of it, Kalenda Garfitua, a renown medic and spell researcher had created this item to bolster her experiments. Her research was one of the keys to our discovery and understanding of the Contemptuous Arts, along with improving our own knowledge of both the Divine and Arcane Arts. With it we have made great strides in understanding how to utilize our mana and in what ways we could do this. This item, however serves a very distinct purpose. The target of it must use their own mana to activate the item; once this is done, the researcher would add their mana to the hourglass to add 'sand'. With this, the item would reverse or suspend the effects of a spell on a target for a brief period.”
    “What does this have to do with Kooh Chief?” TJ asked tilting his head.
    “We wish to bring out the second God's Governor.”
    “Now you're just talking nonsense.” Su muttered.
    “Kooh, if you would.” Peorth handed the hourglass to Kooh and she took it in hand, closing her eyes as she channeled mana into the it, giving it a shining gold look in place of the dull grey. “TJ, I would like you to place your mana into this also. As much as you feel that you are capable of, since performing such a task for the first time will require an immense amount to do so, and you may be the only one capable.
    He nodded and took the hour glass in hand. He closed his eyes and tried to shift it from himself to the item; as he did he could feel the mana flow from him into the item and when he finally felt he had used up enough, he saw a series of blue grains of sand resting within the bottom of the hourglass. “Wh-whoa. That's kinda cool. What next?”
    Kooh retrieved the hourglass and smiled at him. “Please say hi to her for me.” With that she flipped over the hourglass and it began to glow as it levitated before her. The group was engulfed by a blinding light and when it dimmed they found someone where Kooh once stood; a lovely voice sang a somber song as the light began to dim.
    A slender girl wearing a white frilly gown stood before TJ with her hands clasped over her waist. She had long icy blue hair that gently drifted down in the following seconds and when she opened her eyes, the same ruby sclera as Kooh.
    “An outfit change? I can do that too.” Su muttered with a roll of her eyes.
    The girl gazed upon TJ for a couple of moments with an unusual intensity, then approached him steadily. She placed her hands upon his cheeks and leaned in to plant her lips upon his, taking his breath away in shock during the long kiss. When she finally pulled away from him she too was out of breath, as the guild members and even Sellistar looked on in surprise.
    “Little Lamb...you've grown so much over the years. That look on your face says you don't remember me, but I'm certain in time you will. But I want you to know me now so...” She pointed to herself and smiled at him. “My name is Freya Altena Ásvaŕtlim, God's Governor of Water.”
    This is the good copy of it. There were a lot of minute changes and a few big ones, but overall I think it was a big improvement. It flows better imo. I have to admit, reading through it the second time around I still feel that I didn't showcase everyone's abilities enough, but the chapter was essentially focused around Kooh, so she should be a big part of it. I'm still considering the details of Freya's identity, but I think I have a pretty good idea of where she comes from and what her personality will be like. Won't give it all away in chapter 4 though. A girl's gotta have her secrets lol. Truth be told it's been a little busy around here but hopefully I can put some more time into USS and show you what's cooking once it's made some decent progress. I'm feeling pretty good today so with enough willpower I might have something to show by the end of the night. Following the completion of USS, I think I might be working on and off with Innocent and updating both here and at the tumblr, and also drafting ch. 4 of Sanc. Though I think I might draft Unbreakable before that. You've waited an awful long time huh? At the very least you'll get to see a new and improved USS. So far I think it's lovely. I'll keep you updated here and over in the old USS forum. Hope you're doing well!
    avatar
    TJ

    Posts : 873
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 24
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Wed Jan 28, 2015 4:08 pm

    Ch 4. Pages 75-79:
    The Fourth Harmony: Sister
    Absolute or not, it'll be the God's Governor of Fire that's hailed as a hero when this is all over. I won't be bested by the Prodigal Legend nor the Abellan. Except this time...I'm not alone. (Amata Seitz)

    Su blinked before sending a glance to Peorth who stared in a daze. “Care to explain why your sister is making out with him?” She asked.
    Freya shifted her eyes towards her sister and immediately walked over to her before hugging her gently. “Sister...it has been far too long. You have grown so beautiful! You really do have mother's features.” She beamed, and Peorth looked on blankly. “How long have I been asleep for?”
    The guild master snapped out of her reverie and her gaze softened-she began to show an expression none of them had ever seen before. The young queen looked as if she was on the verge of tears. “Sister...Freya...it really has been far too long. I...I am glad to see you.”
    “As am I, but has it been that long since I had seen you?” She chuckled gently. “How silly of me, the years speak for themselves.”
    Peorth closed her eyes and nodded solemnly as her sister broke away and gently took her hands. From an onlooker's perspective, the two looked completely identical. “It has been quite a few years, but they have not bothered you any at all.” She smiled bitterly. “Alas, I must ask that you refrain from such acts before my guild members sister. It is...unbecoming of a queen.”
    “H-huh?!” TJ asked in shock.
    Su placed a hand to her face and sighed, “Blue bloods...”
    Thee seemed to have been in a daze since Freya appeared and remained that way.
    Freya knit her eyebrows at the comment but smiled nonetheless. “Perhaps you are right. Such things are best done privately. But that is of little importance. There is much that we need to discuss! To think that you had become a guild master, you must tell me all the details!”
    “That is a story for another time. I know that you have just awoken, but you should not be moving about so fervently and so soon afterwards. It would be best if you rested for the time being.”
    She furrowed her brows this time around and stared down at her feet. “But I do not wish to rest any longer. So much time has passed me by, and I know not when I will see you next. Where is Father? The knights and their squires also? Where are we currently?”
    Peorth bit her lip, an expression of distress plagued her. TJ looked on uneasily and Su tapped her finger impatiently. Though unsure, he decided he would step in and see if he could remedy the situation. “H-hey, Freya.”
    She turned to him and smiled. “Yes? What is it?”
    Somehow the look on her face brought him back, but he could not bring himself to recall the memory. The smile was nostalgic, and yet it brought him great pain at the same time. “Will you do as the Ch-your sister asked? I know it's been some time but I'm sure we'll catch up really soon! When we do, I'll help you get settled in.”
    She beamed. “Will you? Do you promise?”
    She held out a pinky and he felt a bit of reluctance at his own words. Disregarding it, he raised his finger and intertwined the two. “I promise.”
    “Then it is a date.” He tipped his hat to hide his embarrassment and turned away as Freya turned back to her sister. “I am satisfied for the time being sister, but please ensure that you will wake me soon.”
    “I will abide by your wish. Do not fret, dear sister.”
    Freya gave Peorth one last hug before Peorth gave a nod to Su, who solemnly appraised the hourglass. The God's Governor turned it over in her hands before the blinding light appeared once more and Kooh stood where Freya once was.
    The God's Governor collapsed to her knees and let out a long, exasperated groan. “That really drains a girl! Jeez!” Peorth offered her a hand and she rose to her feet. “Thanks Princess.”
    Su tossed the hourglass at the guild master and glared. “So do you wanna explain what the fuck just happened or are we gonna be stuck playing twenty-one questions again?” She asked.
    Moments after Peorth opened her mouth to answer, Kooh placed a finger to her lips and smiled. “Princess, let me handle this.” The reluctant guild master gave in, her brows knit and her eyes closed. “So you wanna know about Freya huh?”
    “Isn't it obvious?”
    “She was gorgeous.” Thee uttered waking from his reverie. “I wanna know what the relationship between these two is.”
    Kooh laughed gently. “That, I dunno. As for Freya herself, well...lemme start at the beginning. Technically the little princess and I are cousins. Our moms are sisters, but we had different dads. See, before either of us were born our family had a bit of a falling out. That aside, when it comes to the God's Governors of Water, they always come in pairs. It's been that way since the beginning of time-after all, the first God's Governors of Water and Ice were Undine and Dione. The two together made one Governor, unlike the others, and one of the two would always continue the line with twins.”
    “I'd heard it was like that but the entire thing sounded so ridiculous I thought it was just a rumour.” Su grinned. “I'd hate to be a God's Governor of Water.”
    Kooh smiled mirthlessly. “Truth of the matter. Anyway, if my memory serves one of our ancestors had married a God's Governor, and lo and behold we find ourselves here today. Only one of our moms could inherit the throne, and since the previous queen had only daughters, the little princess' mom inherited the throne and well...my mom decided to leave the kingdom.”
    “Please allow me to continue from here Kooh. It is a duty that rests on my shoulders, and it was my failures that caused this,” Peorth added. Kooh looked worried but let Peorth continue. “My mother, Queen Remedi had inherited both the roles as God's Governor of Ice and the Cerebian's Proxy, something she had done all while ruling the kingdom. She had given birth to both Freya and I, but my sister was not born with a body as strong as I. My sister often found herself bedridden, but in spite of the fact she still practiced magic when unsupervised. This...” She closed her eyes gently, her voice became softer. “This was not the problem. Alas, when my mother had met her demise, Freya had officially succeeded her as the elder of the two of us despite her disposition. My father fraught with worry sought out Asgard's best doctors in hopes that one of them could remedy her ailments, but none could identify the cause, let alone a remedy. Though she was to succeed him, I had been named as the heir in her place so the shadows of skepticism would not be cast upon the kingdom.
    Out of desperation my father had summoned some of the kingdom's greatest Mages and scholars to assist Freya in fulfilling a ritual to pass on the title of God's Governor to me, but an unprecedented accident had occurred, and...Freya did not live through it. I had succeeded her as a God's Governor, but the strain of being both along with the Cerebian's proxy had proven too much to bear. Father sought out my aunt, and found out that she had a single daughter with no magical ability. As a last resort he insisted that we perform the ritual once more to pass on the title to Kooh, and so it was. Kooh had obtained both my own title as well as Freya's and in turn I had obtained a gap in my memories. Though our people had researched the cause for years, they could not find out what had occurred at the time. Nevertheless after Kooh had awakened Father took her in as his own daughter and had her swear that she would protect me with her life. Since then, Kooh has lived by me as my shadow.”
    Kooh smiled. “It's not like it's a bad thing Princess! I do it because I wanna do it. I was worse off until you took me in. So don't look so sad, okay?”
    TJ rubbed his arm gently. “I knew you guys had it rough but...that's...” He looked at his shoes. There was more to their story than what met the eye. Would he eventually see the rest?
    “...Sorry to hear that's what you had to go through Peorth.” Thee muttered.
    “It is a small matter. Hardship is something all Cerebians experience. Mine is no important than yours, or anyone else's. It is my duty as the leader of the Asgardians to carry their burdens,” Peorth answered, her heart ever stalwart.
    “But that's just it,” Su began, “you just said Freya was the queen.”
    Peorth nodded with a grim expression. “Her very existence...I cannot explain it. I fear that when the Mages summoned by my father had performed the ritual, it was not just her title, but also Freya herself that had become one within me. I believe this is the reason Kooh can summon her with Garfitua's Hourglass, but though she has aged it seems that she still believes we are in a time that has long passed. I...do not have the courage to tell her the truth. Alas, waking her was necessary to the ritual, and in time her power will be necessary. But my own weakness prevents me from overcoming this ordeal.”
    TJ rubbed his neck uneasily. “So when Freya met her...end you officially became the queen huh? It's a shame that's the way it had to be. But hey, we're in this together right?” He did his best to put on a smile. “As I search for my memories, I'm sure we'll find yours somewhere along the way too. I wish I knew what we could do for your sister, but there's still so much I don't know yet.”
    “You have my thanks, but you need not answer my issues. You have a duty of your own much greater than the sum of my concerns, so seeing that through would be all that I could ask of you. Nevertheless, the night presses on and I wish to keep you for as little as possible. Now that we have Pandora's Box and pendant gathered, let us complete the ritual. I will show you how to summon Memorius Sanctum and you will be free to do as you please following our departure.”
    TJ nodded. “Right. I'm in your hands.”
    “Kooh, Su, let us begin.”
    “Alrighty. Over here G.G.” The God's Governor waved over her junior who glared in turn.
    “I swear one of these days...” Su muttered as she took her place where she was informed to stand.
    Peorth and Kooh stood adjacent to her forming a triangle around the uneasy TJ. The guild master placed the box down next to him and took the pendant in hand, quietly muttering words before holding it out with both hands. A magic circle emerged beneath her, and each section they stood in held a different herald-Peorth's that of the Asgardians, Kooh and Su's their respective elements. Once she let go of the pendant it began to levitate before her before she held out a single hand and mana began to flow around her.
    “Follow my lead G.G” Kooh said to her before doing what Peorth had.
    Su followed suit and the box began to glow as did the pendant. With a flash of light the box disappeared and TJ remained in the center. Peorth took the pendant and placed it in his hands.
    “Pandora's Box has officially become a relic tied to you. You may summon it at will, but you need not do so right now. But I must ask that you wear the pendant.” Peorth said before stepping back.
    “Got it.” He stole a glance at he sapphire pendant before placing it around his neck, and it too began to glow again as something emerged from it. “W-what's going on?” He shouted as a powerful wind emerged and took the shape of a transparent blue spectral lady.
    She levitated before him. “Are you the one who has summoned me?” She asked. He looked on completely mortified. “I will ask again. Are you the one who has summoned me?”
    “Y-yeah. That was me.” Or at least he thought it was him. What on Jienda had he released?
    She nodded. “I am the spirit of Hope, Elpis. To have summoned me must mean that you have opened Pandora's Box. What is it that you seek?”
    “I wanna return the other spirits...the Seven Sinners to their rightful place! Can you help me do that?”
    “It is my duty to see to that of my master's wishes. Should there come a time where you come across one of the escaped spirits, so long as they are willing or defeated, I can return them to the box.”
    TJ smiled as relief washed over him. “That's perfect! Thanks Elpis.”
    She nodded once more. “That is all I have to say on the matter currently. Should you have need of my services please summon me once more.” With that she disappeared.
    Thee wore a stern expression. “I go on one mission with you guys and a bunch of crazy stuff happens. Is this what it's like behind the scenes?” He said before he rubbed the back of his neck. “And here I thought I'd seen everything.”
    “Welcome to the club,” Su snickered.
    “It'll only get weirder from here on out Thee. Better be ready.”
    TJ sighed as he sat down. “I don't think I'm ready, and I'm the one doing it. I didn't think there was a spirit in the box already...but why didn't she escape too?”
    Peorth crossed her arms. “Perhaps in case someone like you happened across the box TJ,” She answered.
    This gave him pause. “...You know, you might be right about that Chief.”
    “Nevertheless, let us proceed with the last objective for the day. Your utilization of Memorius Sanctum.” He rose to his feet and gave her an acknowledging nod. “There is no need for a ritual to bring it forth, since it was part and parcel to completing our contract. All you need to summon it is the will to do so. If you call it, it shall come, and if you wish for it, it will lend you its aid. I had shown you once before, but allow me to do so now.” She held out a hand. “Come, Memorius Sanctum!” At her words the gilded tome appeared before her. “It may seem daunting at first, but once you have tried it for yourself you will find that it is much easier than you would initially expect. Now, summon the tome.” At her words the book disappeared in a series of spheres of light.
    He swallowed the request hard. Peorth made it look easy, but she made a lot of things look easy. On the other hand, the two had already been through so much, so he was not going to doubt her words now. He took a deep breath and outstretched a hand. “To me, Memorius Sanctum!” He shouted, the words coming to him almost naturally. The tome appeared before him and left him startled. “Ha...ha...I did it!” Peorth and Kooh clapped at his success.
    “You are becoming very adept with magic TJ. Well done,” The guild master told him.
    “You go little lamb!” Kooh cheered before doubling over. “Think I might have overdone it a bit.”
    “Yes, perhaps you have. Come, let us return for the night. Everyone, we shall be departing. You have all done well today-you have my thanks. I wish you a good night.”
    Peorth placed one of Kooh's arms over her shoulders and helped her to walk while the God's Governor waved with the other. “Good night everyone! Sweet dreams!”
    As the others said their goodbyes the three were left.
    “I'm gonna get out of here too. It'd be nice to finally get out of this armour.” Thee muttered.
    “See you again.” TJ said as he waved him off. The Abellan looked from the tome, to his companion and then to Shabur. “I'll have to ask the Chief what exactly Memorius Sanctum does later. Still, what should we do now Su?”
    She knit her eyebrows. “I say we go interrogate that bastard barista. We still don't know what he did to you or how long it's gonna last. We'll beat it out of him if we have to.”
    TJ laughed uneasily as he flipped through the book for two reasons-the first, he could not understand a single character within, and the second because of Su's remark. “I don't think we need to do that. I mean, we did have a bit of a rough start but I think we'll be able to talk it out, right?”
    “Oh yeah you can do that.” She raised her eyebrows and he sighed with relief. “After I beat him within an inch of his life.” Her brows were furrowed almost immediately after and he laughed dryly.
    “Regardless of how the situation is handled, maybe seeing him would do us well. I'm a bit worried about that thing he did too.”
    They said goodbye to Shabur and Sellistar before setting out for Madelaine's Tea Stop.

    The moment the two had arrived Su held her dagger to Vanir's neck and Skuld flew into a panic.
    “Hey now, you're not mad about that nickname are you?” He asked holding his hands up in surrender.
    “Master, now is not the time for that! Please do not hurt him!”Skuld cried.
    “Care to explain why TJ can't use the Divine Arts barista?” She asked with a share glare.
    “S-Su come on, you should threaten him after you ask, not before! T-that is if he doesn't answer. But I don't think you should anyway!” TJ said as he gestured for her to calm down.
    “Alright put that away and I'll talk.” Vanir said as he scratched his cheek. “You know if you ran that through me you wouldn't get an answer.” Su scoffed and put her dagger away, but glared daggers without relenting. “You want all the details?”
    She sat down at the bar and TJ did the same. “May as well. Tell us everything you know about that,” She said.
    “Hmm...” He frowned. “I'll keep it short and simple. There are a few spells that can give the Agasura the upper hand on the Cerebians. You could say that was one of them. It's not one you're gonna see just anybody using, cause it's from a long time ago. What it was used for...I doubt the Agasura of this day and age would have as much use for it as it was for back then.”
    “What do you mean?” TJ asked.
    “You probably don't know much about the Agasura, do you? I don't blame you. Why would the Cerebians know anyway?”
    “Get to the point,” Su muttered.
    “The point is that there's a huge difference between the original Agasura and the ones you've come to know. You remember what I told you about the Demons right? They needed a host, and the ideal host would be...” He suddenly paused and the two looked on curiously. “A Cerebian of course! I mean, can't get much better than that, am I right?”
    Su placed a hand to her face as she muttered, “Idiot...”
    “Anyway, if they were gonna do that there's a better chance they'd get eradicated. So how do you fix that problem? Weaken 'em first, and strike! Though a fight was pretty much out of the question since souls or spirits can easily be purged, they had a spell at their disposal that could stop just about any Cerebian in their tracks. That, my lovelies, is called Divinity Sealing.”
    “Did your journey include searching for that spell?” TJ asked.
    “Gods! Do I look like a Demon to you? Not that you'd know what one looks like but no! Besides, if I was one then I would be a Cerebian too, don't you think? But no Cerebian would be a Confidant too.”
    “So what exactly are you then?” Su asked this time around, her glare easing up slightly to make room for her curiosity.
    He flashed her a grin. “You wanna know?” He posed magnificently. “But alas, I cannot tell you nor show you! For if I did you might fall for me!”
    An angry red vein began to emerge on her face and she prepared to climb over the counter while TJ held her back. “I'm gonna kill him...”
    Skuld emerged from the kitchen carrying a tray. “Master please don't tease our guests,” She insisted.
    After Su sat back down in her seat and TJ did the same, he decided to take the chance to ask another question. “So it's unlikely that the Agasura know the Divinity Sealing spell right?” He scratched his cheek. “That's a bit relieving, but is there a countermeasure to the technique? If I come across one that does happen to know it, I'll have to be prepared or...” He dreaded the thought, but knew that his journey was risking his life.
    “Countermeasure? None that I know of. Though if I did know of one, telling you would be the equivalent of throwing away my ace in the hole for bad situations. You can never be too careful, you know.”
    “Do you really think there are Cerebians who are gonna try and kill a Confidant?” Su asked with an exasperated look.
    “There are vigilantes among your kind. Or something akin to them.” He placed a hand to his face and sighed. Su raised an eyebrow and he reached behind the counter. “Guess now's a good a time as any to tell you. I got a mail from the kid that mentions just that, and something that could be related to your search.” He waved the letter before them.
    “Well? What's it say?” TJ wanted to ask who 'the kid' was but the chance had passed him by in the blink of an eye.
    “Basically, a new Instance Dungeon appeared in one of the Pyramids out in the Desert. People explored it, and those same unfortunate souls didn't come back out. The kid sent in some of her guild members to scout it out and they all reported that they saw you in there.”
    TJ looked blankly for a moment before he rose to his feet and slammed his hands down. “What?! How?” He asked.
    The barista offered him a shrug. “I'd be damned if I knew, but that's the word. A lot of the adventurers in and around Elfa are making a bit of an uproar, since they all wanna be the first to clear the new dungeon, but there are Cerebians who are trying to keep people from entering because of the danger.” He laughed dryly. “Things like this always happen when a new dungeon is discovered, but it's not that often that adventurers get wiped out after entering it.”
    “And they're the vigilantes? I think they have more concerning matters than assassinating a clown like you,” Su said.
    “I take offense to that. But no, not them. Apparently one of your God's Governors was seen in Elfa.”
    Su's eyes sharpened. “Who? What's their name?” TJ felt a bit of excitement at the prospect. He had never met the God's Governor of Wind before, and Peorth said that he would need their help in his journey so it was a good chance.
    “Amata. Ring a bell?”
    The God's Governor's expression darkened. “Does it ever.”
    TJ shifted his glasses as he sighed. “That...we don't have to fight her, do we? I mean after what happened in the City of Iron...” He shuddered at the thought. “I don't want to repeat that again. If we're gonna do this, do you think we can do it without butting heads with Amata?”
    “I wouldn't hold my breath for that. But don't you worry, if we do meet her, it'll be over quickly.”
    “Man you kids are certainly bloodthirsty. If you do plan on duking it out tell me beforehand. I'd pay for front row seats to that!” Vanir added with a grin.
    “We're not going to fight her! I know you two don't agree on a lot of things but if one of you falls everyone is in danger. You know that Su.” She raised her hands in what looked like a shrug, but she seemed to be weighing her options. “Let's resolve this peacefully okay? S-somehow. If push comes to shove I'll talk to her. Let's just try not to get in a fight, especially not in the city. We don't have a very good relationship with the people of Elfa as it is. But while we're there...it'd be nice to see Imhotep, Tetty and Amu again.” He smiled ever so slightly.

    I'll talk about the chapter either on Friday or sometime after, cause sometimes I get lazy. But I'll update as the week progresses. Fair warning though, following this things are gonna get a little pretentious and weird. I joked about it back when I started Sanc on FF I think, but I wasn't kidding! I'll try not to screw it up.
    avatar
    TJ

    Posts : 873
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 24
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Wed Feb 04, 2015 9:17 am

    Pages 79-88:
    Vanir wrinkled his nose. “Don't know 'em. But what I do know is that if you plan on going there, you better be careful. Anyone could easily mistake you for the person in the dungeon. Or Agasura.” He glanced into the kitchen and shortly after began to walk off. “Wait there.” He eventually returned with a cloak that had a tear across the chest and offered it to TJ. “Wear this. It's no protective gear so don't expect it to get you through a battle, but it'll keep you from frying like an egg under the desert sun. That, and people might not recognize you beneath the hood. If your princess has something better for you-actually try to bring it back in one piece. The materials for this stuff is hard to come across so far across the world.”
    “Thanks Vanir.” He said as he received the item from the barista and glanced over it. “It's awfully big.”
    “Drink milk and stop complaining short stuff.” He retorted.
    TJ pursed his lips at the remark but disregarded it nonetheless. He closed his eyes for a moment to decide where he should proceed from there. Though it was late, perhaps Kooh or Peorth were still awake. If the news was important enough the guild master would likely need to be informed as soon as possible. That, and he did want to talk to her. He tapped his guild badge twice and listened in case anyone needed to talk.

    [Guild]TJ: Chief, are you still awake?
    [Guild]Kooh: She's snoozing TJ, so let's not wake her okay? I can handle guild matters in her place though! What can I do for you?
    This came as a bit of a surprise to him, but the two were close, so he felt certain that informing Kooh would suffice also. He still felt a tinge of disappointment on the matter, but it would pass.
    [Guild]TJ: We're at Vanir's. He said one of the Seven had appeared along with a new Instance Dungeon in the Pyramids. Going tonight might be a bit too soon, but I wanna go there as soon as possible. Supposedly the guardian of the instance looks a lot like me, and it's caused a bit of an uproar in Elfa. That, and Amata is there too.
    [Guild]Kooh: You don't plan on fighting her, do you? I heard about the City of Iron incident you know. Bad TJ!
    He chuckled lightly at her comment.
    [Guild]TJ: I promise I'll try to avoid fighting with her if it can be helped. The Chief said we'd need the help of God's Governors through our journey, so if possible I'll try and make amends. That aside, do you think the two of you could come with us? I get the feeling that the Sinners are not opponents we should underestimate.
    [Guild]Kooh: I'll go with you, but let the Little Princess sit this one out. She needs time to heal her wounds from the last fight.
    [Guild]Peorth: I commend your concern, but just as you believe that I need rest, you do also Kooh.
    [Guild]TJ: Ch-Chief?!
    [Guild]Peorth: Forgive my eavesdropping, but this is an important matter that must not be kept unknown. There is no denying that both Kooh and I could not continue as of yet-we lack your regenerative abilities. But I cannot allow you to do this mission as you are, and without assistance. You had said that God's Governor of Fire Amata was present in Elfa currently, correct?
    [Guild]TJ: Yeah. Vanir had said someone he knew told him she was around there.
    [Guild]Peorth: I see. Please excuse me for a moment.
    [Guild]Curt: You rang?
    [Guild]RoboCurt: What can I do for you guild master?
    [Guild]Peorth: I have a mission for the two of you. I would like you to investigate the new Instance Dungeon that has emerged in the Pyramids of the Desert along with TJ and Suuba. If you feel that you are ready, I would like you to set out tomorrow at the earliest. I must warn you though, as you are aware the dungeon has just appeared and thus we know not what lurks within, save for one of the Seven Sinners. Remain vigilant at all times.
    [Guild]Curt: You got it!
    [Guild]RoboCurt: We'll handle the matter deftly.
    [Guild]Peorth: TJ, I would like you to meet me at Madelaine's Tea Stop. I have some important items to give to you that may prove crucial to your journey. As you are aware, time is of the essence.
    [Guild]Kooh: Hold on a tick there Princess. You stay here. I'll bring them to you, so rest okay?
    [Guild]Peorth: As you wish. TJ, Suuba, I shall see you very shortly. You have my thanks Kooh.
    [Guild]Kooh: Just doing what I do best. Alright you two, meet me outside of the Free Market okay? I'll be there faster than you could say, “What's taking Kooh so lo-oh there she is!”
    TJ laughed.
    [Guild]TJ: Got it Kooh. We'll see you in a bit.

    He tapped his guild badge again and opened his eyes gently to find himself face-to-face with the barista. With a scream of surprise he stepped back while Vanir rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
    “V-Vanir what're you doing?!” He cried out.
    “Taking a look-see, what does it look like?” He answered matter-of-factly. What on earth was a looksee anyway?
    It was partially TJ's fault for being distracted by the guild chat but that was still uncalled for. In spite of his surprise, there was a lingering curiosity-beneath his hat TJ could barely catch a glimpse of the barista's face, but that glimpse gave him a short look, and he saw one of his eyes. Unlike their meeting, it was green rather than red. Perhaps it was a similarity that Agasura like the two had shared. “Why?” He could have asked one hundred other questions, but that was the first thing that came to mind, and the first that he said.
    “I'm trying to discern whether you're a trap or not.”
    “T-trap?! Do I look like I'll suddenly shoot spikes out or something?!”
    The barista flashed him a grin. “No. Well, perhaps. But I expect something much, much different. There's something unique about you, but only time will tell exactly what it is.” He shrugged. “So what're you waiting for? You've got something to do don't you?”
    TJ gazed at him over his glasses. He must have had really good intuition to guess that. “Y-yeah...you ready Su?”
    She leapt off the seat and stretched. “Do I even need to answer that question? You know what I'll say.” She answered.
    He cracked a smile at her words. “Yeah. Let's go.”
    “Later kids.” Vanir said as he waved them off.
    “Ah w-wait!” Skuld came rushing out of the kitchen with a basket in hand and offered it to TJ. “I've heard that you liked sweets so...”
    It was true, but where did she learn that from? TJ accepted the basket graciously. “Thanks Skuld. We'll probably have a long journey ahead of us so this'll be great.”
    “I hope they're to your liking. Come back safely.” The brownie waved as TJ did so in turn.
    “Definitely. We'll see you soon.”

    Su returned to the crystal and TJ walked through the Old Town district. Though it was Winter, the cold did not faze him as much as it once did. The cloak Vanir had lent him had proven to be both good in the city and likely also for the Desert, as the wind had barely sent a chill throughout his body. The tear in it though had made him curious-it may have been the reason why he had claimed it was not made for battle. He tried to imagine the barista fighting and laughed gently.
    He eventually found himself in the shopping district and made his way down the street, passing by the occasional adventurer as he glanced around for his guild mate. Beneath one of the streetlights he saw Kooh in a tan coat and she waved him over.
    “So where are we headed to anyway?” TJ asked as Kooh lead the way.
    “To our place,” Kooh answered.
    TJ nodded. “Wai-what?!”
    “What? You didn't know we lived somewhere?” She laughed and TJ pursed his lips in embarrassment. “It's nothing special though. Just a little apartment complex in the heart of the city. It's close to the guild room and relatively affordable.”
    The Abellan knit his eyebrows at her words. A typical adventurer would not likely settle down, since their journey would likely span the continent, and perhaps even those beyond, such as that where the Big Apple is situated. He himself had grown rather fond of camping out, but that was not what ailed him. The fact that the queen of the Cerebians lived in an apartment complex was mind boggling. The talk about Freya reminded him that things were not so simple for them-with his help though, could he make things a little easier on them? Had he been stronger, perhaps the Cerebians would not have had to flee from Asgard.
    Kooh flicked his head and snapped him out of his reverie with a jolt. “You're thinking about unnecessary complicated things aren't you?” She asked.
    Busted. “Well...”
    She squeezed his cheeks together and shook her head while shushing him. “Stop worrying Little Lamb. It's alright! We're all in this together now, and whatever happened in the past...well it's the past, right? If you're worried about the Sinful Seven don't be! We can take 'em! As for your memories, we'll get them back. It's like the Princess said, if you beat 'em you'll get your memories back. So for both of your sakes, smile for her okay?” His face flushed and he nodded solemnly. “That's the spirit! It's not far so don't take your eyes off of me.”
    TJ always knew Elias was a large city, but he never truly explored the whole of it. Outside of the Shopping and Old Town districts there was much of the city he had never come to know, especially where the guild master and Kooh resided. The area they passed through had a myriad of buildings that towered over the two, and though he had been to the city many times he often paid them little mind. Oddly enough, seeing them gave the city a much more modern feel, and he began to understand how the other district had obtained its name.
    Kooh stopped before one of the buildings and opened one of two glass doors, leading TJ inside. He looked around in awe as she unlocked the next door and lead on. It was his first time inside such a place, and he could not resist his curiosity. A carpet rested beneath their feet and ahead were a pair of silver doors with a button between them placed against the wall. Shortly after Kooh pressed the button a loud beep caught the Abellan off guard and he drew his guitar, expecting diodes to strike them then and there.
    The girl laughed heartily at his reaction. “TJ we're in the city remember? There are no Agasura,” She said.
    He put his weapon back on his back and knit his eyebrows while he muttered, “R-robots don't count.”
    The silver door slid open and Kooh stepped inside before gesturing him to follow suit. After she pressed a couple more buttons on the control panel before them, the door shut and the box jittered. He stole a glance at her, who seemed unfazed by the strange occurrences and let out a gentle sigh. Why was he so on edge? The box came to a halt and the doors opened, Kooh once again began her stride with him following after her. The two entered a long corridor that spanned a fair distance in both directions, and Kooh took a left at the fork. She continued on past a couple of doors before stopping at the third and using her key to unlock it. At the sight he faintly reminisced about his first time in Yong Gyoung and smiled at the memory.
    Kooh stepped inside and out of her boots while TJ followed suit and closed the door behind him.
    “Princess I'm home.” She called out.
    “Welcome back.” Peorth's voice answered as the two made their way down the hall. They met with Peorth in the living room and TJ looked on in awe not at the room, but this time the guild master. She wore a turquoise night gown and stood barefoot before him with a puzzled gaze while he turned his gaze away. “TJ, are you alright?”
    “Yeah, no problem.” He faced her again and struggled to look her in the eyes.
    The realization seemed to dawn upon her and she too looked away with a flushed face. “Ah yes I have something to give you. Excuse me for a moment.”
    “Well TJ, make yourself at home!” Kooh took off her coat and hung it up before wandering off.
    With her words in mind he decided to take a seat nearby and glance around the room. It was very lightly decorated, a few couches lined the small room and a set of tables filled some empty spaces-one in the center and two at the ends of both couches. A mahogany grandfather clock sat at the far end of the room, seeming to be old as time itself, the piece giving him a strange sense of nostalgia-perhaps it was nothing more than his sense of time, or just what it meant to him. A group of pictures were scattered about the walls, some of Peorth and others of Kooh, a single picture rested on the tiny table next to the Abellan. Curious as to who it featured he took it in hand and found himself surprised at what was within the frame.
    It was a picture of Peorth and her friends of the past-those that had all disappeared after the City of Iron. Even TJ was amidst them,the whole group gathered haphazardly in the picture, all in a variety of poses. Though the memory was unfamiliar to him, he could not help but feel a tinge reminiscent from seeing their faces once more. Perhaps the two kept it close as a reminder of the past. At the sound of Peorth's gentle footfalls he placed the picture frame back where he had found it and tried to look calm.
    She approached and held out a letter in an envelope to him. “When you meet God's Governor Amata I would like for you to give this to her. If possible, cooperate with her to see this quest through. I have faith in Yggdrasil's members, but we are not fighting against just any Agasura.” She handed him the envelope and gave him a look that seemed to be both a mixture of concern and uncertainty. “TJ, I want you to have this also.” From her closed fist she held out her piece of the Heart of Yggdrasil.
    He looked at the item, then back to her with a puzzled expression. “Why do you want me to have this? Is something going to happen to you?”
    Her gaze softened and she smiled ever so slightly, a rare sight. “No, I will be fine, I assure you. I wish for you to take this so that you may come to master your power with or without me. As with tomorrow, there may be other instances where I will not be available to assist with a mission, and you will need to take your own party and venture forth. Distance does not bind our contract. So long as you have this piece of the Heart of Yggdrasil you will still be able to utilize it. If you have any doubts, you may consult Memorius Sanctum.”
    He laughed dryly. “But I can't read a word of it.”
    Peorth blinked as she mulled over his words. “Is that so? Perhaps specific requirements must be met. Though I feel certain that you will be able in time. Do not fret TJ.”
    The Abellan nodded silently.“I'll take your word for it Chief. Anyway I won't keep you any longer. I'll get in touch with Curt and Robo first thing in the morning so we can head for Elfa.”
    “Your diligence is appreciated.”
    Following Peorth's words Kooh walked back into the room waving a piece of paper. “TJ, take this with you too. I don't think the others will wait a few weeks for you to get from Elias to Elfa.”
    Peorth stepped aside and she handed him the paper. “It's...a coupon. For a warp crystal? H-hold on, where'd you get this? Are you sure you should give it to me?” He asked with a look of disbelief.
    “I planned to do it anyway, as a ho-” She stuttered on the last word and smiled awkwardly before continuing. “How do you do gift!”
    He tilted his head quizzically at her words. He had never heard of such a thing, but then again odd things often accompanied the God's Governor, so he decided to accept the fact anyway. He offered a smile afterwards. “In that case I'll graciously accept. Thanks Kooh!” Peorth seemed to be gazing at her sister with a keen curiosity while Kooh chuckled bashfully. He excused himself and made his way past the two, but was stopped as Kooh took hold of his wrist.
    “Hang on, you're going just like that? It's dark out you know, and not safe at all.” He glanced back at her with a look of confusion. There was no denying that the city could prove to be dangerous, he thought as he recalled the events prior to their mission at Kimara, but since then it had been peaceful. “You should stay here tonight.”
    TJ's jaw fell at the following words. “I can't do that!”
    The God's Governor knit her eyebrows. “Why not? We can have a sleepover! You've never been to one right?!” Her eyes sparkled. “We can have a pillow fight and paint our nails and...you're okay with it right Princess?”
    Peorth nodded. “I do not see a problem with this.” Kooh was not wrong about the fact, but how did she get the guild master to agree to that?
    “See? No problem.”
    “But there is a problem. Heck, there's seven problems here! That is a big no-no!” He made an 'x' with his arms and backed away. “And why would i want my nails painted? A-anyway, thanks again, I'll see you soon okay?” He slipped out the door and the guild master waved him off while Kooh pretended to blow kisses.
    “Don't look so sad Princess,” The God's Governor began, “maybe next time.”
    Peorth blinked. “Do I seem that way?” She chuckled under her breath. “I think that our Little Lamb has grown a little. Please continue to look after him as you have.”
    She offered a salute. “Aye aye!”

    As TJ walked through the streets he let out a light sigh. Kooh could say some crazy things but that one way beyond him.
    “You wasted your chance there.” Su's voice echoed from within the crystal.
    “Chance? Kooh was just having some fun, that's all.” TJ muttered in response.
    “Think so? Heh...you never know with those two. They're polar opposites but just as cryptic. Better not to let your guard down.”
    He knit his eyebrows at her words. “Let my guard down? What Peorth said worried me, but I don't think anything will happen.” He was lying to her, he knew, and she likely did too-but in the same vein he told himself that because deep down he wanted to believe in her, that things would turn out alright somehow. In spite of everything that happened, the years had torn them apart but they found their way back together, perhaps by the whims of fate. Though like she said, neither had the recovery that he did, so death was not something they would escape so easily. He felt a bit thankful that they were not going to fight in that battle, but the possibility they would later was inescapable. “She's our guild master after all, and if anything else we can protect her too.”
    “Just try not to get yourself killed alright? That should be the biggest of your concerns.”
    He smiled. “I'll be fine. I do appreciate the concern though.” As he neared the Shopping District and the eventual Fight Arena which also served as a campground for nearby adventurers, he looked to the sky. The stars twinkled gently and a full moon rested amidst them. “We've got a duty don't we? I'll protect this world that we call home.”

    The following morning TJ crawled out of his tent and stretched. The sun had already risen and he had gotten a wake-up call from his companion. It was still rather early, so there were still preparations being made before the Fight Arena opened to the public. Adventurers bustled about, some in anticipation for the opening and others planning where to begin their next journey. Others packed up and set out, some towards the Dark Forest.
    “What should we do first?” He asked.
    “First, I'd suggest you get those two clowns. That coupon isn't gonna turn into a warp crystal, so we need to know how and where to redeem it. I'm willing to bet one of them knows.” Su answered.
    “That sounds reasonable.” He tapped the guild badge twice.

    [Guild]TJ: Curt, Robo, are you guys around here?
    [Guild]Axle: Hey, morning TJ!
    [Guild]Ken: Good to hear from ya TJ.
    [Guild]TJ: Hi guys. You wouldn't have happened to see those two around would you?
    [Guild]Axle: I heard they were at the Fight Arena last.
    [Guild]Curt: This is true.
    [Guild]TJ: Curt? Wait you're here?

    TJ glanced around the area and once he turned around he caught a glimpse of the two approaching, Curt waving as they did.

    [Guild]TJ: Alright that's all I needed. Thanks guys.
    [Guild]Axle: Anytime.
    [Guild]Ken: Good luck out there!

    He tapped his guild badge twice and offered them a small smile. “You surprised me there, but it's good to see you.”
    “I think so too.” Curt added with a grin.
    “Likewise,” Robo answered.
    “We can set out for Elfa soon, but there's one thing that I need to do.” TJ said before he drew the coupon from his pocket and handed it to the Treasure Hunter. “We need to find where to redeem this. Would you guys have any idea?”
    “GMA headquarters, without a doubt.” Curt rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Then again, you could probably just bring it to the Elias branch. It'd save you a trip to the Big Apple, that's for sure.”
    “Do you know the way?”
    “Do I ever. Come on, follow me.” With a wave of his hand the two followed in his wake.
    The group entered the Shopping District and Curt weaved his way past adventurers and civilians alike in a brisk stride. TJ eye's remained fixated on Robo's Goliath MG-the fact that it had legs rather than wheels captivated him and also tickled his curiosity. As he watched it and the envious glances of nearby adventurers he wondered how it would fair in a battle, and what kind of differences it had from his previous MG. He was going to find out soon, but the fact still stood and made him want to know.
    After moving deeper into the Shopping District TJ found himself amidst tall buildings like before, but these were not residences-rather they were shops too, just dramatically larger. He looked around with curiosity but stole the occasional glance to make sure that he did not lose sight of his companions. The group came to a halt at one of the buildings and Curt entered first. It was a rather magnificent place-the walls were painted gold as were the tiles, and there was a soft purple carpet beneath their feet. Two GMA associates sat at a desk, both smiling as the Treasure Hunter and company approached.
    “Hello, how may I help you today?” A young man asked. He wore a violet button-up coat and a beret with a gold four-leaf clover pin attached to it. Around his right arm was a black armband that had the letters 'GMA' embroidered upon it. His female companion wore a matching outfit.
    “We're here to redeem this coupon.” Curt answered waving the paper.
    “Right over there.” He pointed to a pair of glass double doors across the room.
    With an approving nod Curt lead the group to it and they stepped inside. TJ looked on in awe. It was like every possible rare item was gathered in one place, in a series of glass boxes. There were eggs, warp crystals, boxes filled with the most fashionable clothes and just about anything an adventurer would dream of. There was even a giant dart board with gold darts stuck in it. He caught a glimpse of a strangely furry brown egg and caught a glimpse of a tag that said it was a Brownie egg.
    “I'd love to have a companion like Skuld,” He thought aloud.
    “Sorry to burst your bubble but those things aren't supposed to talk.” Su answered.
    “R-right..” He muttered. He felt a tinge of disappointment at the fact, but there was no denying it. Skuld was no ordinary Brownie, but it certainly raised the question of how Vanir managed to summon one like that. He said he could not do that, but perhaps he could teach TJ how. The moment was fleeting as Curt called him over with a Warp Crystal in hand.
    “Here, it's yours now.” He said handing the item to the Abellan.
    He looked at the item in awe and felt a bit of excitement at the prospect. Peorth had one just like it, and it allowed her and everyone with her to travel to the cities instantly. Though he had done it with them, the idea still felt slightly daunting.
    “This might be your first time using one huh TJ? Perhaps we should step outside while we work it out.”
    “That'd probably be for the best,” Curt added.
    They did as suggested and the trio gathered around the item. “So how do I work this thing anyway?” TJ asked.
    Curt shrugged. “Beats me.”
    Robo scratched his cheek with knit eyebrows. “Sadly, I've not the foggiest.”
    Su sighed. “You have to recall the coordinates of the Iris Stone to teleport to it smart one.”
    “The coordinates?” Curt offered a curious glance. “Do you know the coordinates of the Iris Stone in Elfa?”
    He grinned. “That, I can do.” He took a map out of his pocket and pored over it for a few minutes while muttering under his breath before he furled it and put it away. “One hundred forty-nine, eight hundred thirty-two.”
    TJ blinked, both in awe and confusion. “Alrighty then.” He brought the numbers to mind, and the Iris Stone that he wished to go to and the item reacted, releasing a bright light and taking the three with it.

    Following the event the trio had found themselves on the busy streets of Elfa. Though it was winter the sun was much stronger here, and there was a lack of snow as one would expect. The city had barely changed since the last time TJ had seen it-save for the repairs the city had made since their bout with Choen Palm destroyed the entire place. Unlike then also, the city was crowded, much more so than the Abellan could have even imagined. Adventurers flitted about the streets, coming and going past tall buildings, some featured massive domes and many were buffeted by sand and worn down, but still standing proud. A series of stalls lined the streets and vendors fervently hawked their wares to the adventurers and civilians that passed by.
    TJ immediately threw on his hood and lowered his head as not to be recognized.
    “So what's first on the to-do list cap'n?” Curt asked with a grin.
    TJ did not feel like he was cut out to be a party's leader, but it was a little reminiscent of their meeting. To think their party of two had become four, and soon to be five brought him a bit of joy. “First things first, we should ask around and see if anyone has an idea where we can find Amata.” He answered.
    The look on Curt and Robo's faces gave him pause. “You're kidding right?”
    TJ rubbed his neck. “W-well...no, not really.”
    “You do recall what happened last time, don't you? I don't think Amata is fond of us at all.” Robo said.
    “I know...I know but...we have to. Well maybe we don't but I really think we should. The Chief gave me a letter to give to her so maybe things will work out!”
    “Stupidly optimistic. Don't ever change.” Su remarked. He could see the grin on her face now.
    TJ watched as a couple of adventurers stole glances at Robo and muttered something to each other. Perhaps Meisters like him were still rather uncommon on Jienda. “We can't afford a fight with her here and now TJ. There are too many people about. If I was to describe the battle at the City of Iron I would have to say it was a stroke of luck that it was set up. This time, we're not that fortunate.”
    He frowned. “You don't have to tell me twice. If I get spotted I might get thrown in jail. Or killed.” He shuddered. The city of Elfa was not a place he was welcomed, and even more so with the appearance of the new Instance Dungeon. He shook his head and mustered his courage. He had to get to the bottom of the matter and clear his name first, and worry about the details later. “I know we're really pushing our luck here, but we all share a common goal. I think she'll be willing to fight alongside us, even if we don't get along.”
    Curt shrugged. “You're the boss this time so we'll follow your lead. Where do we find her?”
    TJ's shoulders sunk. “That's the problem. I don't know exactly where she is. I just know that she's somewhere within this city. I just hope that she's here now.”
    “If we don't find her I'm sure we'll pull through regardless. We had once travelled as four and I'm sure we could do it again, though it was brief. I'd heard you had quite the adventure before then, though!” Robo commented.
    The Abellan nodded with a bit more confidence. “To say the least.” He chuckled lightly. “Why don't we try splitting up and gathering information? If the four of us are searching I think we'll have better luck than travelling as a group. If you find her or any useful clues, just let me know through guild chat.” Both Curts nodded and seperated from TJ, then disappeared into the crowd that surrounded them. “I'll find somewhere you can exit Su, just hang on.”
    “Make it quick. It's getting stuffy in here.” She replied.
    TJ glanced around the area and made his way down the nearest side street. After weaving his way past a few people and near some vendors who tried to grab his attention he took refuge in an alleyway and glanced around to be sure the area was clear.
    “Alright, go ahead,” He said.
    His crystal lit up and Su emerged, then landed before him and stretched. Her bones cracked and she let out a sigh of relief. “It's been way too long.” She said before making a grimace. “As much as it sucks to be stuck in there, it's crazy freakin' hot out here. I swear I'd sooner burst into flames from the heat than be set ablaze by that bitch.”
    “No one's gonna be catching fire. I'll make sure of that. Just...promise me if you see her that you won't approach her until I get there. I trust you, but I can't say for sure how she'll react if she sees you.”
    Su blinked slowly but wore a blank expression. “I'll make sure it's over before she sees me. Trust me.”
    “I do-” He stopped mid-sentence to glare at her. “That's not funny at all. I trust you not to assassinate her.”
    She cracked a grin. “You're way too easy to rile up. I'll let you know if I see her.” As she walked off she waved, and he pursed his lips as he watched her go.

    Now alone TJ made his way through the streets and glanced around occasionally in case he could catch a glimpse of the God's Governor roaming about. It did not get any easier finding her though, much to his dismay. Asking random civilians would be dangerous, since there was still the possibility that he was wanted, and even more so considering the current circumstances. He decided to place his bets on Tetty's shop, and so he made his way there to pay his old companions a visit and hopefully get a clue to Amata's whereabouts. After he passed by a series of stores and stalls, including a strange area that lead to an underground tunnel, he came across the weapon shop exactly as he recalled it. The place held painful memories also, but in spite of it all things had turned out better than he could have imagined. Leaving the negative thought behind he opened the door and found the shop swarmed by customers.
    Adventurers had lined both the walls and the inner area, some looking at weapons and others armour while all three shopkeepers struggled to manage the group. Though it was his first time seeing him, he felt certain he saw Imhotep, Tetty's husband and the one who managed the armour in the shop. He could only see his head behind all the adventurers-a middle-aged man with daring violet eyes and copper skin, a white and red nemes adorned his chestnut hair. He caught a glimpse of Tetty's white shemagh and the occasional glimpse of her face as adventurers buying weapons came and went.
    Perhaps now was not the best time for him to show, but it was either that or he risk the entire mission on a gamble. The Abellan took a breath and made his way into the heart of the crowd. People pushed and shoved and he came awfully close to the items within the market, more so than he would have liked, but Amu caught a glimpse of him and greeted him anyway.
    “Hi TJ! Ah that'll be thirteen-thousand ely please.” She said before making a sale. “What brings you here?”
    He laughed dryly as she managed customers and still tried to share her attention with him, and he briefly met a shield also, pressed against his cheek. “I'm looking-oof...for someone. Do you know Amata? Kinda tallish girl with red and blue eyes, black hair...usually scowling. Ring a bell?”
    “Actually I have! I heard she and the others were gathered at the Traveller's Bar. Are you going there? Be careful!”
    The others? Perhaps he would come to meet them upon his arrival, but just who were they and what were they doing with the God's Governor? “Right. Thanks a ton Amu, I'll go check it out.”
    “Be sure to come again! We're not always this busy!” She waved him off as he weaved his way through the crowd and sighed with relief on escape.
    He tapped his guild badge twice.

    [Guild]TJ: I caught word that Amata might be at the Traveller's Bar. When you guys are ready come and meet me there.
    [Guild]Curt: You don't plan on going in alone do you?
    [Guild]TJ: I'll be alright! Better that she sees me first than anyone else. The two of us haven't exactly become enemies quite yet. Her history with Su and you guys might cause a bit of conflict though.
    [Guild]RoboCurt: He does raise a point...
    [Guild]Curt: If anything happens, scream for help. We'll be there as quick as we can.
    TJ laughed.
    [Guild]TJ: Will do.

    TJ weaved his way through the streets and saw the Traveller's Bar at the far end of the city. The place was much larger than most of those he had seen in the other citites. It had multiple entrances, a stairwell that lead to the upper floor where a balcony waited with three more entrances-a group of arched windows lined the east side of the building while a pair of domes both large and small covered a majority of the roof. Upon the front was a sign that featured a chalice with wine spilling from it. He took a deep breath and walked up the stairs to the main entrance.
    He entered the place and was immediately dazzled by the splendour of it. Chandeliers with candles resting upon each hung from the roof across the room, small tables with white cloths rested atop them and a single lit candle outfitted the entire shop and small cube shaped seats sat around them.
    A stout man with kind green eyes and brown hair greeted him as he entered. “You must be weary from your travels nomad. Take a load off and relax,” He suggested. The man wore a black overcoat with white fur around the neck, a crimson fez and matching shoes and a white robe.
    “Thanks,” TJ answered awkwardly before glancing around for Amata. He caught a glimpse of her at the far end of the room and let out a quiet but surprised gasp. Amu was right on the mark.
    He made his way over to her and as he did, he saw her eyes turn their focus to him. Hands intertwined, her steady gaze remained trained on him before she suddenly leapt onto the table and dove at him. The two tumbled across the floor before coming to an eventual halt, the God's Governor's hands wrapped around his cloak's neckline.
    “You've got some guts, you know. Showing your face around here,” She muttered. The God's Governor wore black jeans, a blue jean jacket and a white t-shirt that featured the black silhouette of a lady that sat upon a crescent moon. She wore studded bracelets as she had before, but had her hair tied together at the end of the strands.
    “I'm not who you think I am...or rather, who you think is me isn't,” TJ answered calmly and quietly.
    “Regardless of who you are, you're still an enemy of mine.” It was not long before whispers sounded throughout the store as the other customers looked on with both concern and curiosity. The owner of the bar emerged from behind the counter and made his way over.
    TJ closed his eyes. “I know. The place you once called home...Hanamah...what happened to it, there's no denying that was my fault. I can't bring back what you lost, but if you still hold hatred toward me for the event than take out your anger on me here and now. Hit me as many times as it takes until you're satisfied.”
    She glared at him for a couple of moments before her anger turned to confusion, and then a look of disgust. “What is it with you? Goddamn masochist.” She released him and rose to her feet to apologize to the bartender. “I'm sorry for the disturbance. We've settled the matter Rashid.”
    “I would hope so. You could scare off the other customers at an important time.” Rashid answered uneasily.
    “It won't happen again.” TJ rose to his feet and dusted off his cloak while Amata looked at him with a glare that seemed to be dismissing him, but he persisted all the same. He held out the letter and she knit her eyebrows. “What?”
    “This, the Chief-my guild master, she wanted me to give this to you.”
    She sighed and swiped the letter from his hands before tearing upon the envelope and skimming through the contents of the letter. Her eyes widened for a moment and she looked it over from top to bottom once more before turning her gaze back to the Abellan. She huffed before gesturing for him to follow. She lead him to a table with two men that looked at him with curios expressions and sat down. “Siddown.” She muttered. He took her words to heart and sat in the extra seat and she intertwined her fingers again. “That...your guild master. She's the real deal right? If you're pulling my leg I'll fry you the moment you leave this store.”
    He chuckled dryly. “She's the real deal, I promise. Besides, you know who I am already.”
    “Then let me confirm it.” She glanced around before rising and approaching the Abellan. He looked at her with both a look of confusion and fear, suspecting that what Freya had done in the guild room would occur once more but with the God's Governor of Fire.
    “Wait-hold on!” She proceeded anyway, and he could feel her cool fingertips on his forehead. He closed his eyes and braced himself, but nothing happened. Upon opening them he caught a glimpse of her walking back to her seat and almost felt a tinge of disappointment. “What was that about?”
    “That mark. She'd said if I needed further proof I could see for myself. You've got that herald stuck to you, and apparently it reacts to the God's Governors too so...” She shrugged. “Can't believe a jackass like you is the Abellan. What's the world coming to?”
    He pursed his lips as thoughts of rebuking her for the remark came and went, but the idea passed by as one of the others at the table spoke up. “So do you wanna introduce us or are we not important enough?” A man asked. TJ only got a slight glimpse of the tan shirt he wore beneath the standard desert cloak. He had wild shoulder-length crimson hair, bronzed skin and daring dark brown eyes. The weapon on his back was without a doubt a spear.
    “You're a grown man. Do you need me to spoon feed you too?” She hissed. TJ laughed as he thought of Su-if she were here right now she would probably say something akin to that.
    “If words could kill...” He chuckled as he shrugged. “I assume you and the God's Governor are already acquainted so let me be the first to introduce myself. My name is Eli Kraus, guild master to the guild Uprising, one of Ramalda's finest.” He winked. “Keep it on the down-low though, since there are humans about.”
    The second of the two was a man who seemed to have an oddly timid demeanour to him, but at the same time a very dangerous aura. He had short black hair and dark brown eyes, but a kind look to him. Though TJ felt a tad unsure, he gave off the same presence as that of a Confidant. “My name is Salem. I am a Confidant who has come on behalf of our kind, and as my guild master's representative. I belong to a guild by the name of Bastion.” He bowed his head slightly. “It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
    “L-likewise! I'm TJ.” He added nervously.
    “So you're the Abellan huh? Never thought I'd see him in the flesh but here you are.” Eli snickered as he crossed his arms.
    “Indeed. I'm sure that Reina will be in quite the huff once she finds out that you had come to the meeting.” Salem said with a chuckle.
    “I-it's not that big a deal.” TJ muttered hiding under the hood of his coat. “There are way more impressive people out there, really!”
    “Whenever you sissies are done with your pleasantries we can get on with this discussion. We don't have the luxury of time while those dumbass adventurers are spelunking a dungeon they're not ready to handle.”
    “That's true. There may be more parties trying to enter as we speak,” Salem said.
    Eli placed his chin in his hands and let out a sigh as his face seemed to sag while he exhaled. “You don't know the half of it. My members have to switch out on shifts just to uphold the peace here and in the pyramid, while others scout out the Instance. Thankfully they all made it back alive but most come back wounded.”
    “So...was it true that they had seen someone who looked like me in there? Do you guys have any information on them?” TJ asked.
    Amata sized him up for a matter of moments before turning her focus to the other two. “Let's tell 'em what we know. If there's anyone that can bring that dungeon down it'll probably be him.” She grinned devilishly. “Though of course, I doubt he'd be able without the help of a God's Governor.”
    Eli looked unimpressed. “Do the two of you plan on going in there? Let me lead the party then. I'm not here just to bark orders to my members. My spear's been itching to impale some Agasura.”
    Amata shook her head. “You're gonna have to sit this one out Mr. Hungry spear. The higher-ups have sent out the order and already has a party picked out.” She grinned impishly. “You can keep my seat warm though.”
    He scoffed at her words. “Higher-ups? You may be a God's Governor but we're not an army. Did the Abellan decide it? We can change it right here and now then. Bring Salem while you're at it. I hear he's pretty damn good in a fight.”
    The Confidant gestured that was not the case following Eli's words. “I do have some experience, but the style that I've taken up will not fare well without Reina.” TJ felt a hint of curiosity at his words, mostly exactly who this Reina was.
    “He didn't decide it asshole. It was someone else,” Amata snarled under her breath.
    “So why do you have to be so hush-hush about it?” Eli asked as he raised a brow.
    “Just cause Deal with it. Now let's get back on topic.”

    I know I said I'd talk about the most recent stuff but I totally flopped. And I'm gonna do that again today! But FRIDAY. DEFINITELY. I swear, if I don't I'll do...something. Something special. I had considered doing a short interlude for a certain character at the end of USSR but that went out the window, SO if I don't hold to my word, I'll do that and post it here. Canon? Perhaps. Though I do plan on keeping my word so, you know. If not I'll kick myself later.

    Mmk I'm here so I'll start from the beginning.
    Whole lot of changes:
    Well, with this we get a proper introduction to Freya. She's been in the works for a long time now. I'd been considering the idea around the time I first started Sanc, and I had intended for it to be a major part of Peorth's arc, but instead it became Kooh's. Anyway, I'll go on about that later, first lemme break it down a little bit.
    So first things first, in total there were five God's Governors, of Water(and technically ice)(Undine and Dione), Fire(Rayinth), Earth(Terramane) and Wind(TBN). Only one of the two God's Governors of water had children, which was Undine, and Dione had passed on her title to her second daughter before she passed away. From then on, one of the two would always have twins that would inherit each title, and carry on the lineage. They were not always girls though, it's just the current generation are.
    Now then, back to those two. As you'd expect, those two were Peorth and Freya. Queen Remedi was God's Governor of Water and her sister Ice, but Queen Remedi was also the proxy of the last generation. If you don't recall the event, everything was set in motion when TJ had met Peorth in one of his memories. This was after Freya inherited the title and duty. Remember, she was the elder of the two, so not only did she take up Queen Remedi's rule, but also her duty as the proxy. Also it's where things get a tad tricky. Moving on, Freya fell ill, always had been but it eventually proved to be too much. So they performed the ritual to pass on the title(God's Governor of Water, not as the Proxy) and it completely failed, and killed Freya in the process. In doing so, Peorth inherited not only both titles but also Freya's ethereal self. Ring a bell?
    This is where Kooh comes in. God's Governor of Ice, the previous one, had one daughter. Just as you'd expect, she had no powers. She could have magical talent, but not as a GG. They performed the ritual a second time, failed again, and a new God's Governor was born. The only thing that could not be passed on was Peorth title as Proxy because she survived the event. This requires a different ritual, or the previous Proxy's death for it to occur. Anyway, so as you'd expect this is how Kooh obtained both titles, and Freya in the process. Still confused?
    Think of it this way-the situation is rather similar to TJ and Su's case. But unlike them, neither Kooh's nor Peorth's bodies are meant to house more than one soul within. In that regard, they can't use that in the same way the former can. Thus they needed the Hourglass to bring out Freya, but of course for a limited time. You'll hear more about it later in the story, but that's pretty much the situation in a nutshell.
    Curious about my original plans for her? I never really had notes per se, just mental notes. IIRC, I had initially intended for Freya to be Kooh's sister. I can't tell you all the details because it'd spoil some of her arc but they wouldn't have been related to Peorth at the time. Rather, they'd have grown up in the house featured in Chapter 3, but the ritual would still occur. At the time, I had planned for Freya to still be the way she was due to a degenerative illness passed down from each generation of God's Governor. That might still remain the same. Kooh wouldn't have had that, but she wouldn't have the same magical aptitude as her sister. This was problematic for reasons, but that's a secret! In her final moments Freya would insist that her sister perform the ritual(yes, she did it alone because she's a boss like that) and well...things go awry. Regardless, that's where we find ourselves today. The arc has changed a lot, but it still has a lot of the core ideas. Also this serves as proof that Peorth was once a Mage. Shocking truth.

    Next! A small thing, but I was debating on having Vanir say TJ was either a trap or a reverse trap, not that he'd know what that is. I changed it to reverse on the actual doc.

    I'm conflicted with whether or not I should capitalize nicknames. Honestly, it's maddening. But leaving that aside, I brought back Peorth's apartment! That was something from the original Sanc(It was so, so bad) and I figured it would be a worthwhile thing to have since it has a bit to do with her character. I'll talk a bit about that later. Around this part I decided to try and merge what I had learned while writing USSR and Frequency. It gives it a really different feel doesn't it? I need to give the combat some thought and fix the earlier portions to adapt that style, but I think it's coming along nicely. As for the reason why TJ is so mystified by the world around him, remember that he doesn't come from Jienda. Leaving that aside, most of his journey was spent camping out or traversing the continent as an adventurer. So technology is a big nope.
    As for the contract between him and Peorth, there's no denying that so long as it's made he can access his power. Though if the two are together they are stronger. This'll be covered later too, but Peorth's piece of the Heart of Yggdrasil is a necessity for him to become the MoL, but not to use the Order Frequency. Hence, he can access all 3 Frequencies with or without the other pieces. Just no access to the other stages.
    I'll confess, this part was a bit more lighthearted, but don't let it fool you! Anyway, in the original, I don't think its posted here, but the prologue was just TJ's thoughts and chapter 1 started off as a recap. Though there was a bit more of an extensive look at the place. IIRC, I think around then I was still playing around with the idea of relics, but those that she had were just kinda...chucked in her closet. She used to be secretly messy. There was other stuff in there but it's a little morbid in a sense so I won't mention that. Though the bad hair puns were still a thing! The end parts of the chapter are pretty similar also. Though, at some point in time perhaps a recap might be necessary. I can't recall too many novels that have them off the top of my head, but then again they're typically really brief. Now that I think about it, it does make a whole lot of sense.

    So next we have the reuniting of old teammates. There's a lot of reminiscing going on throughout this chapter lol. But seriously, I hadn't realized until something made me call the idea to mind, but I had put together the worst of enemies in one party. As you'd expect, disaster ensues.
    So I tried to do a thing with the GMA. I've always mentioned LaDeck throughout the story and the GMA and whatnot, but turning in game things such as that into things in a world was...tricky. Finding a reason for it, and a time and place was one of the challenges I had given a lot of thought and so it lead to this! Branch! The other associations might be visited at some point, but having branches across the cities helps to establish the fact that they can manage events across the world. And there's even a giant dartboard inside! Gold darts and all. I've been playing a lot of LT recently so...things just kinda happened. I feel bad because Frequency takes place waaaaay back before all of these changes happened. And it's slow as balls. Anyway enough of my gripes.

    Amu makes a short appearance too, along with Imhotep and Tetty. I wanted them to have more to do rather than just be a cameo, but Imhotep doesn't know TJ personally and Tetty is too short and too busy to notice him. Don't ask me why, Amu is a shopkeeper's assistant by day and an alchemist at night. Odd combination, but then again, who is normal in this series?

    So moving on we finally get to Amata and the others. The series sees a new character who's only mentioned in passing during USSR, Eli, and the return of Salem as Reina's representative. It's been a few years and they're not dead! Miracles! You would not believe how long it took me to get Amata's outfit together. I feel like I didn't give it enough thought, but at the same time ughghgh. I'll go into more detail on the others if they appear again, but the reason they're both wearing the cloaks I did consider. For Eli, it's so that he doesn't stand out unless he needs to. As a guildmaster he's well known both in Ramalda and Elfa, since they handle a lot of the tasks necessary between the two, and keep the Agasura in check. Salem on the other hand wears his just for protection from the sun.
    Now then, there's a reason why these four are gathered. Firstly, Revolution is the larger of the two guilds and keep the peace in the Haven. Both Revolution and Uprising do just that, but since the appearance of the Instance the smaller of the two was sent to do just that elsewhere. Amata is there just because...well, she wants to be. In spite of her attitude, she's very dedicated to her duties. As for Salem, since Reina has the smallest guild of the three and their faces are familiar in Ramalda she and Samson are there managing things in place of Eli. Also because I'm secretly a troll and having Su and Sam meet now would be nooooo fun. Har! I have plans for them.

    Anyway, next? I'll spoiler tag this just in case, since it's a thought for the upcoming Instance.
    The Pharaoh's Chamber:
    I'd given a lot of thought as to what the Instances for the Sinners should be like, or whether they should have them at all. It's been a long time coming, but I'm thinking of doing a sort of 'themed dungeon' kind of thing. Originally I had only planned to have the Sinners have a theme to their fighting style to accompany their vice, but perhaps the place that they create shares in that also. In truth, this could get a little on the unusual side, but this also makes it easy to decide where in the world their Instances would be. Thus, the characters will explore places both new and old on Jienda, or off of it, and things won't feel too redundant, not that I mind that all that much. Any places that they have visited, should there be an Iris Stone they could travel to.
    That matter aside, the Agasura within...I'm conflicted between doing something similar to what are nearby, like upgraded versions of them. Truthfully, it was an idea I had gotten from playing the game actually! It'd make things a little easier while still adding a bit of a challenge to myself. Improve step by step, or something like that. The name is still a work in progress though, and so is the Sinner's design, but I'll try to make it good! Lastly, I think I might try to change up the dungeon a bit. After looking back to the prelude to the prologue perhaps such things(not that per se, but traps and such) would be a good addition to them and serve as a reason for the group to really need to come together. It's all really tenative so we'll see how it goes as time goes along.

    Anyway that pretty much covers all I have to say on this week and last week's stuff so if you have questions you know where to find me. With that said, until next time!
    avatar
    TJ

    Posts : 873
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 24
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Fri Feb 13, 2015 4:08 pm

    Pages 88-93:
    “So what can you tell me about this dungeon?” TJ asked.
    “If I recall correctly, some of our members reported that there are specific requirements to reaching the Guardian's location. Defeating enemies is necessary, but there is also a secondary objective.” Salem explained.
    “A secondary objective?” He raised an eyebrow.
    Salem nodded solemnly. “Yes. That is, the collection of gold.”
    TJ opened his mouth to speak but found himself at a loss of words. “Huh?”
    “It's just as he says,” Eli added, “we need to collect a certain amount of gold to open the way. Every one of the enemies inside of the Instance have coins on them, and there are treasure boxes scattered about with them too.” He shrugged and sighed. “If it were just that, it'd be pretty easy to complete, but the place is loaded with traps.”
    “That and the Guardian isn't someone we can take lightly. I hear its pretty strong.” Amata said before she crossed her arms. “I can see why they sent you here, but I still think that we could've handled the problem without you getting involved.”
    TJ scratched his cheek. “Well, it's technically my duty to handle stuff like this. At least if the matter is cleared up no one else will have to be hurt within that dungeon. Assuming that the dungeon will differ depending on who enters and when, we'll probably have to gather gold to open it too, won't we?”
    “Pretty much. Unless we're grouped together up to a maximum of four it'll be like entering a whole different dungeon. Anymore than that and someone's gonna be finding themselves alone. The only exception I can think of right off the bat is the Guild Room.” Amata said.
    The thought of seeing most of Yggdrasil gathered inside the room was more than enough proof for the Abellan. He nodded to acknowledge the fact.
    “Welcome nomads.” The sound of Rashid's voice caught TJ's attention and he turned his head instinctively towards the entrance to catch a glimpse of two of his companions arriving. It was not only his head that turned-many of the visitors stole a glance at the Meister and his MG, including a specific God's Governor.
    The sound of her seat scraping against the floor caused TJ's head to turn again and his eyes to open wide as he saw the flame that was lit in her hand. A fierce glare and grit teeth spoke volumes where words could not, and he knew if he did not act Amata would engage the two without a second thought.
    “Amata stop!” TJ shouted rushing to her side and holding her back.
    “Those guys...of all people, she sent them?” She muttered through her teeth. “Tch...I'll kill them here and now and be done with it!”
    Robo caught a glimpse of the enraged God's Governor and held his companion back. “Might be better to wait before we approach or this could end badly,” He said.
    “You might be right,” Curt replied.
    “Think of where we are right now! A God's Governor shouldn't be looking for a fight with people, especially when others can be put in danger too!” TJ cried out as he pulled her away from them.
    She stole a glance back at him and sighed. “Fine.” She said and finally extinguished the flame in her hand. “We may be working together, but it doesn't mean I'll like it. Bastards like them shouldn't be seen on important expeditions.” Her glare sharpened. “Or at all.”
    He laughed nervously at her words, but after she sat back down he called the other two to the table. After Curt pulled up a chair and Robo rested his MG next to him a silence ensued that amplified the tension in the air, between the two and the God's Governor. TJ looked around uneasily and wondered where Su was, considering the possibility that she had returned to the gem-she always knew how to sort out bad situations, but with one of her sworn enemies here it could easily go from bad to worse. At the thought, he considered himself rather lucky that the two were yet to cross paths, but the fact remained inevitable.
    “Looks like the gang's all here.” Curt said breaking the silence.
    “...For now.” Amata muttered keeping her glare trained on the two.
    “Now now...” Robo chuckled uneasily.
    “Could you guys make up already? The tension in here is so thick you could cut it with a knife!” Eli said as he crossed his arms.
    “It's rather incredible really...” Salem added.
    “R-right then. Let's get back on topic guys!” TJ added gesturing for them to calm down. “Do any of you have a map of the Desert?”
    “Always!” Eli drew a map from his rucksack and unfurled it across the table.
    TJ glanced over the map for a couple of moments before rubbing his chin thoughtfully. “I've never really been to the Pyramids before. I've seen them around during my travels, but I didn't think that adventurers could enter them! I'm really excited to see what it's like.”
    “What are you, twelve? If you're looking for fun in games where the undead walk you'd sooner get yourself killed. It'd be better that way, actually.” Amata said with an exasperated look.
    TJ furrowed his brows. “Would it kill you to actually try to get along with someone for once?! Jeez!” He hissed.
    “You'd have a better chance making friends with a bear than you would with her. I'd bet they're less gamey than she is too.” Su answered from within the crystal. He laughed dryly at the comment, but was relieved to know that she was with them.
    “I'm here to see my mission through, not make friends. So? Why did you want the map?” She asked.
    “I need to know the location to enter the Pyramid.” He stole a glance at the map and saw others listed upon it. “Also which one to enter.”
    “It's this one over here TJ.” Eli said before he pointed one out. “Southwest of the Iris Stone. The shotaro gathered around it will help you remember if you ever forget. For some reason they tend to flock there, unlike the others. Probably because of the Agasura within, or something.”
    “According to our members, the Agasura inside of the Pyramid itself are not too strong, even for those who have recently advanced to their second class. I don't think they should cause you too much trouble, but some of their actions are rather unpredictable, so it would be best to be on your guard regardless,” Salem added.
    Constant vigilance-how could he forget? “Thanks for the heads up. We'll do just that.”
    Eli sighed deeply. “I wanna go too.”
    “Who do you think is gonna haul your sorry ass out of there after you get the shit kicked out of you? It's not gonna be me, I can tell you that,” Amata said.
    “You'd have to make it back from the mission in one piece to even consider that an option!”
    “There's no need to fight you two. If you continue we may be kicked out of the restaurant. Remember, we're here to uphold the peace, not to disturb it.” Salem said grinning slightly.
    “I've found all that I was looking for,” TJ said proudly. “Once everyone's all set I think we can set out. With this Warp Crystal Kooh gave me we'll really be able to cut down the time we spend traversing the Desert.”
    “It's certainly handy. Nevertheless, I'm ready when you are TJ. Just give the word and we can set out,” Robo said.
    “Been prepared to go since yesterday. Since our only task was finding Amata I'm as ready as I'll ever be. An interesting battle with a Sinner is calling my name!” Curt said with a stretch.
    “You're the leader of the party huh?” The God's Governor sighed. “Well whatever. I'd heard you nearly bested Choen Palm so I guess you could be worse. If Anastasia gave you her blessing, you're probably worth your weight in ely. Let's make this quick.”
    TJ had no idea what she had meant by most of it, but it seemed that she was acknowledging him in some way shape or form-that would suffice. “Right then. Let's get going guys.” As he rose to his feet the others followed suit, and he turned to Salem and Eli. “It was nice meeting you guys. I hope we can again soon.”
    Eli grinned. “Likewise. It's not everyday a guy like me would come across the Abellan. If we do meet again come meet my guild. You're a good kid, they'd like you.”
    Salem nodded. “The pleasure is ours. To know that you and the God's Governor are together and taking on the dungeon will give the people of Ramalda some peace of mind. Come back safely, travellers.”
    Once the others said their goodbyes they made their exit and gathered around the Abellan just outside of the Traveller's Bar.
    “You guys ready?” He asked as he drew his Warp Crystal. They answered and he nodded. “Alright, here goes.” He closed his eyes and recalled the place where he once visited, and the group teleported away.

    When he opened his eyes he found himself in the Desert, right by the yellow Iris Stone he had once saved at.
    “Alright, let's get this going.” Amata said before she leapt down from the pedestal and began to descend the pyramid.
    Robo and Curt climbed down the ladders on each side and TJ stopped for a moment to gaze at the stone and take in the nostalgia. It had only been half a year or so and yet it felt like the world had passed him by in the blink of an eye. His crystal began to glow and Su emerged from it before she turned to him.
    She lightly tapped him with her fist as her hair bangs brushed against her eyes, her head lowered. “If hitting you could bring them back I'd have done that ages ago...but some things just aren't that easy huh?” She asked.
    He knit his eyebrows. “Yeah...I doubt saying sorry could undo all the pain that was brought upon you then but in spite of all of that I'm gonna do my best to make a change. I'll start with the Sinners and work my way up to the day that I finally settle things with Asmodeus.”
    Her lips curled into a small grin. “You're lame as fuck.” She raised her head and her eyes smiled too. “But if you weren't then it wouldn't quite be...you, I guess.” She turned away from him but glanced over her shoulder. “I saw how you handled Amata. Looks like you might have a bit of manliness underneath that girly exterior of yours.” He tilted his head quizzically. Insult? Compliment? If he considered what she would normally say, it was definitely an improvement. “Well? Let's go find that Sinner. Your memories aren't gonna come to you.” She leapt down from the pedestal and quickly descended the pyramid after the other two made their way towards their destination. He sighed happily and climbed down after her.
    Once they reunited with the others they joined a conversation between Curt and Robo.
    “...good thing that the goliath MG has legs. Trying to get through this in my old custom would take ages.” Robo said.
    “But it's no Valkyrie,” Curt added with a grin.
    Robo sighed dreamily. “A man can dream, can't he? I need to find out how to get my hands on one. Do you think I could win it by playing LaDeck?”
    “No way! At least not anytime soon. Better to brush up in preparation for it though, 'cause I'm willing to bet that it'd take one hell of a Meister to pilot it.”
    “I'm not a Meister in name alone,” Robo answered indignantly. “But it would take some practice. I think I've gotten the gist of using the goliath at the very least.”
    TJ stole a glance at Amata who walked ahead of the group briskly and solemnly. Perhaps it was just a hunch but her silence gave him the feeling that she was contemplating something. He considered their current standing and felt that perhaps she would have little to say to him, if anything, but he still had the urge to try. If Peorth was in his shoes, would she not do the same thing?
    “H-hey, Amata.” He said as he sped up to match her pace. She looked at him and turned her eyes away solemnly. This was going to be more difficult than he thought. On the bright side, silence was better than an insulting remark so perhaps things had improved slightly? He steeled his resolve-relations with the God's Governors and the others around him was important. Now was not the time to let himself be discouraged. He searched his memory for anything he knew about her, and all that came to mind was her relationship with Su and Yuta. Since the battle at the City of Iron he had not seen the gunslinger-perhaps she may have. “Do you mind if I ask you a question?”
    She furrowed her brows. “I'll only answer you because you're the Abellan. If you were anybody else I wouldn't give a shit. So? Whaddya want?”
    “It's...about Yuta. I wanted to know what happened to him after we left the City of Iron.” It was possible Peorth would have an idea, but she always had some other matters on the mind, and questions to sate his curiosity would likely not be worth her time.
    The God's Governor sighed. “He was admitted to a hospital in Elias.” Her eyes moved to her shoes. “'s fine now. Out and about and back to adventuring or whatever. Why do you care?”
    TJ rubbed the back of his neck. “I'm involved in a lot of different things. His situation is my fault too.”
    She huffed. “You seem pretty adamant on making amends but do you even know where to start? Nobody can bring back the dead. Not even the Abellan. What do you plan to do?”
    The question gave him pause. “I know I can't do something of that grand a scale, but I can certainly prevent it. I'm going to keep fighting, starting here. The Chief told me that my power would be necessary to defeating the Agasura King, and if defeating the Seven Sinners is a means to that end than I'll do just that.”
    “That so? Try to make it out in one piece then. You've got a long way to go, you know.”
    He laughed quietly. “To say the least! I hope we'll be able to count on you should the need arise. Having someone as strong as you with us is a great help.”
    “Wh-” She looked surprised for a moment but a glare followed it. “Compliments won't do a thing for you, Abellan. You and that man...” She clicked her tongue.
    TJ smiled slightly. The God's Governor had her own fair share of concerns which may have been the reason she came off as so sharp-tongued, but he felt that there was much more than she let on. The fact that she would even follow along may have been the start to the group getting along, in spite of their past. He was a tad curious about who she described 'that man' as but perhaps it was better not to question that.“Well let's get along all the same.”
    She shrugged. “I know I've asked you a few questions already but there's something that's bothering me. It's not that important, but I still wanna know.”
    TJ smiled. “Sure, what's on your mind?”
    “What's up with that stuff around your neck? I mean considering your fashion sense I guess it's not that unusual for you, but you're wearing a locket and a necklace. What's up with that?”
    He pursed his lips at her comment, but placed his hands to the locket intimately. “The pendant is for sealing the Seven Sinners. The locket...it was a gift from an old friend. Iris Livier...you've probably heard of her, and me by extension huh?”
    “I had the misfortune of meeting you in person, and under the worst possible circumstances,” She huffed. “But anyway, that Iris...you knew her? I'd heard she came to Hanamah and gave Yuta his guns and her blessing but I didn't think you ran with her ragtag group. Now you're with the queen? We'd all thought she was killed during the last war. Why'd she keep her survival a secret? And don't even get me started on that Iris. God Ah knows where the hell she's gone off to.”
    “She did it so enemies didn't find her. But you don't know of Iris' whereabouts either?” The question pained him. The letter that she had sent was proof that she was on Jienda before TJ decided to join the Cerebians in their fight. It was possible that the two would meet again, but after all he had been through, even now he still believed that the path he followed was the right one.
    “Probably dead.” The bluntness of her words stung even more. “Last I heard she had fought the Demon King and had gone missing since. You might find her friends in the Instance Dungeons though. Some say they're in there looking for clues on how to bring her back.”
    “R-really? Do you think they're still there?”
    Amata looked at him from the corner of her eye. “It's been what, three years since she's gone missing? If you expected them to stay in there for that long you're a bigger idiot than you let on.”
    His shoulders slumped. So she was still missing after all. He paused for a moment. Missing? She was? “Wait, you said that this happened three years ago right? Have you seen any of them since then?”
    “Hell if I know!” She hissed. “Why don't you go pester King Hejong's guard? Maybe you'll find pretty boy Levi there.”
    To ask the king for an audience might have been out of his league, but was it possible that something really did happen to Iris? TJ swallowed the thought hard. Choen Palm said she was killed, the letter said she was in Belos for a time, and now the possibility that some of her members were around brought even more possibilities to the table. Though Levi was only one of the many. Of those that he knew, there were four, including Iris: Sir Levi, Muwen, Choen Palm and the Dark Moon Princess. Perhaps Sir Levi had stayed behind to protect the king, but what of Iris or Muwen? Where were they now? “I've only seen Sir Levi at a stone with his image on it.” Choen Palm was out of the question, and the Dark Moon was not a place he would want to go into.
    “Huh. So he has those two huh? If you're so adamant on finding her, go off and pursue those stones. Chances are they're your only clues. But let me warn you, if you're gonna be running across the continent in search of Iris your work will be done before you can think twice about starting. If all the other Sinners appear just like this one, expect me to be on the scene; I don't like to wait, for your information.”
    Amata did raise a good point. If Iris' letter was any indication, she likely had gone far beyond his reach in the time he had made his decision and where he was now. There were places beyond Atlantis and the Abyss Ruins that he could only imagine, but his duty was here, so long as the Sinners were. He tightly gripped the chain around his locket and cast his eyes down upon his shoes. Would he be able to open it and find out what it is that his previous companion had left for him? Would he ever meet her again? He sighed lightly. For the time being he needed to focus on his current task. The God's Governor was willing to answer his questions, but only because of his title-building a better rapport with her, and bridging the gap between her and his companions would be necessary. “I'll be sure to be there as soon as I catch word of them, so if we are both they're let's do our best together. For now, it's you, me, Curt, Robo and Su.”
    Her expression darkened. “She's here? Where? Why?”
    TJ swallowed the words hard. It seemed that Amata had no idea that he could summon her. “It's a long story...but we're all here so let's not fight okay?”
    The God's Governor sighed at his words. “I've no intention of fighting you, or her, but I do have a requirement to my cooperation. Don't get in my way.” At those words she turned away and began to walk at a faster pace.
    “Tough break TJ.” Curt said before giving him a pat on the shoulder.
    “I believe she'll come around...in time.” Robo added as he knit his eyebrows.
    As Su walked past she offered him a grin. “Hell, at least you tried! It took the two of us nearly killing each other and the intervention of some geezer we knew for us to even look at each other. Maybe your way will work out somehow, but don't expect us to get along.” She shrugged. “Maybe it's just in our blood. Earth and fire don't usually mix. I could care less, really-but I do agree with her way of doing things.”
    TJ sighed. “This is gonna be a lot harder than I thought.”
    “You'll get there. We've got the whole mission ahead of us, so keep chipping away at it! Anyway, let's get going, I can see that pyramid from here.” Curt said before running after the God's Governor.
    With one more gentle sigh he followed after his companions.

    The five had gathered near the base of the pyramid, and just as Eli had warned them a series of Shotaro swarmed around the entrance. They were the same as TJ had remembered them, the small cactus-like creatures wearing cowboy hats and wearing water guns strapped to their body.
    “The entrance is just up there, but we'll need to get past them to do it,” Robo said.
    “Shut up!” An unfamiliar voice caught the group off guard and Robo looked at them rather startled.
    “Did I say something offensive?”
    TJ snickered at his companion's surprise.
    “I said shut up!”
    Robo crossed his arms and Su cracked a grin.
    “This is certainly familiar,” She chuckled.
    Amidst the crowd one of the Shotaro hopped over to them as he said a familiar phrase. The last time they had seen it TJ hit it with his guitar and sent it off into the distance. They had not seen another Tone-deaf Shotaro in the entirety of the Desert.
    “Is that Agasura talking to me?” Robo asked rather surprised.
    Amata sneered. “Do we have time for this? Get out of here!” She waved it away. “Take your friends too! We've got stuff that needs doing and you're in the way!”
    “Shut up!” It squawked.
    Her mouth twitched at its words. “Last chance.” She held out a hand and a flame appeared above it, steadily growing in size as she began to count down from ten. The Shotaro looked upon the flame and immediately turned and hopped away, the others quickly following suit. “Should've just cooked 'em all.”
    “That's definitely unusual,” Curt said.
    “It's certainly one way to deal with Agasura,” TJ added. “Unusual, but definitely effective.”
    Su took the lead and began climbing the steps of the pyramid towards the entrance. “You think we should just stand around here and watch some cacti run away? There are other Agasura to fight.”
    “We're coming, hang on!” TJ shouted as he and the others followed after her and made their way up towards the entrance. He looked upon it, and the darkness within and swallowed hard. “Well, this is a first.”
    Su gave him a push and he stumbled into the entrance. “It's not gonna bite-stop freakin' out ya' pansy!” She grinned and followed after him, the others quietly entering afterwards.

    The inside of the Pyramid was quite the sight to see. The roof was incredibly high and throughout it were thin stone structures with withered vines hanging from them that lead to platforms that likely lead deeper. Within the current room they could see a group of Agasura that wandered within, their shape and size familiar to the Priring and the species like it. The air was musty and dry, and the entire pyramid looked as old as it felt. It was quite the fascinating place nonetheless.
    Curt tried out the vines before them and began to climb down. “These things are sturdier than they look. We can climb down with them.” Curt told them as he began to slide down towards the ground floor.
    “My MG might be a tad heavy for that,” Robo muttered.
    Amata jumped down and Su followed suit, the latter landing with greater ease seemingly to the former's dismay.
    “Move it or don't bother Meister. Time's not on your side.” Amata said with a glance.
    “If you guys don't hurry there'll be nothing left to kill! Better pick up the slack!” Su laughed.
    TJ watched as the two ran off, a series of flames and cracked earth was left in their wake. “May as well jump down Robo, or you could try anyway! Maybe it'll work out?” He asked raising an eyebrow.
    “Your optimism is appreciated but I fear that it won't solve my dilemma.” The Meister answered as he looked down upon the vines uneasily.
    As he climbed down he knit his eyebrows in thought. Jumping down was definitely out of the question, since it would break his MG from such a height. Then it came to him. “Ah Robo I have an idea!”
    “Do you? What do you have in mind?”
    The Abellan grinned. “Magic of course.” He took a deep breath and knelt down against the ground before placing both hands to it. Su taught him how to use his mana to give shape to things through his element, and the bond between them allowed him to utilize hers also. After a couple of moments the ground before him sprung up and stopped at the same height as the platform Robo stood on. “That practice really paid off! Though doing the large-scale stuff is a lot easier with the help of the Frequency.”
    “Good work TJ.” Robo stepped on to the platform and waved to him. “Bring it down slowly okay?”
    “Got it.” He placed a hand to the stone and stepped back. It came down suddenly and quickly at that, and Robo's MG came to a shuddering halt as the ground took its previous shape. “Oh...sorry about that Robo!”
    “It's...it's fine.” His hands were shaking but he managed to grip his MG's controls and step away from the platform. “You did get both my MG and I down here in one piece, so I have to thank you.” He glanced in the direction the God's Governors and Treasure Hunter went and gave TJ an appraising look. “Shall we then?”
    “Yeah, let's go.”
    TJ went on ahead and climbed up a couple steps, and upon reaching the second he could see Curt climbing up some vines nearby. He jumped down and ran after him, shifting past the disaster the two girls left in their wake, the fires eventually burning themselves out and the earth steadily returning to its former shape. The eliminated Agasura were another matter in itself. As he climbed the rope after Curt a smell wafted into his nose and his stomach grumbled.
    “That was awfully loud.” Curt said offering him a hand. “I could hear it all the way up here.”
    TJ felt a tad embarrassed at the comment. “R-really? Can't help it though...those do smell good.” He felt guilty for having the thought but his stomach did him no favours.
    “Never had Priting before. Maybe it's good? I'd eat one. By the way, I hear certain Agasura are actually a delicacy!”
    He turned around to raise Robo to where they stood and Robo gave him a thumbs-up to signal he was ready. Perhaps it was not the time for food, but curiosity got the better of him. “Like what?” He raised the earth and the Meister stepped off shortly after before he followed Curt up another set of vines.
    “Ever heard of Mouth Peaches?”
    The Abellan pursed his lips at the thought. Perhaps there was an entry about it in his monster manual, but now was a bad time to be glancing through it. Though the thought that Agasura could be both fruit and monsters was interesting nonetheless. “They sound weird...but strangely tasty. They must be really small though, huh? Considering their peaches and all.” He looked down to lift Robo up but realized there was a problem. They were too high up, and with Robo in front of him and a wall behind him, he had no ground to work with.
    “Actually they're surprisingly big. Big enough to eat a person! Tasty once you take the fangs out though!”
    “F-fangs?!” They were Agasura, but it did not make it any less odd. Going back to the matter at hand, TJ glanced around but saw nothing he could make use of. To try to use water magic would be much, much worse. “Sorry Robo, I think my plan's a bust.”
    “Is that so?” The Meister rubbed his chin thoughtfully for a couple moments. “I think I have a plan, but it may be in your best interest to stand back.”
    The two took a couple steps back and the MG's hands arose and grabbed hold of the pillar next to them before they slowly started to wind and pull the MG along with them. TJ looked on in awe as he saw the goliath approach with its rider.
    “Phew. That should do it.” Once the machine's arms were fully retracted he gave an approving nod to the two. “Let's keep moving. It may take me some time to catch up but don't stress the matter too much. It'd be best to keep pace with the God's Governors.”
    TJ had no doubts the two could handle themselves, but if they did find trouble he would feel a bit better knowing that he and Curt could intervene. “Robo might have a point. Let's see if we can find those two Curt.”

    Su confirmed for bear eater:
    Most of the stuff early on speaks for itself, since I talked about the dungeon last week.
    I think I might need to get my hands on a goliath to figure out how exactly they work. Idk if the MG spins with the arms or the arms can spin or whatever. Which is important. The variety of skills available to them also-I might integrate a bit of S2's skills in since Meister's and Engi's are still relatively new, so I never properly covered their skills. It'll give him a bit more variety on top of what his MG is capable of. Just need the MG itself now.

    Moving on, I'll confess that I seriously butchered the language in this update for Amata. It's just her though, and something both she and Su do because they grew up like that. The others may or may not do that to a lesser degree, but it's no less possible. Anyway, consider the way that Skuld is with language and you can consider it similar in a sense. Depending on how she's feeling, the way she talks will change to whatever feels right to her, so sometimes she'll be proper, other times she won't bother.

    So for the first time in a long time Iris is mentioned. I hadn't forgotten her, I swear. Truth of the matter is that in spite of everything, there's no denying that a choice was made. The events here lead to TJ questioning it, which raises the question of exactly where she is now and her current status. As for her comrades, those are the ones that TJ knows of, not all of them of course. He had travelled with the others, as you saw in USSR but he can't recall those times so he's going off what he had learned during Frequency. It's a shame, really!

    The Tone deaf Shotaro makes a return too! But this time it doesn't get owned. I stole a glance back at that chapter and saw that part, so I knew I had to have it.One of these days I'll go back and fix all of them up, but for the time being I've already got enough on my plate lol. Anyway, the following parts are a bit more common. I do feel a bit that things slowed down here, but the reason for that is because travel has always been my weak point. Or at least one of them. There was something about the places in game that really gave you a feel for the size within them, and I've tried to work around that fact while keeping things concise, but it always felt like the story progressed too quickly to give room for the places within to really feel like they have any real weight. That's something I'm working on now, and at times there will be conversations as they traverse the areas.
    I guess another thing on my mind is doing things such as Robo's hardships in getting around. In truth, I'm not quite sure how the Goliath MG gets around so I decided to do it that way, but I'd like to expand on little things like those to really give the world that 'real' feeling. That, is the biggest challenge that I've faced since I started, but we've seen some good progress since then! Both in characters and the world around them, I'm gonna keep working hard to shape things a bit better, so hopefully the characters feel a bit more rounded as things progress. Amata will be one of the tougher ones because of her nature, but her changes at times will be very subtle. As for her and Su, the two love to compete, hence why they ran off like that. No words needed to be traded, just glances.
    I'll make another post for something unrelated in the spirit of Valentine's Day!
    avatar
    TJ

    Posts : 873
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 24
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sat Feb 14, 2015 2:46 pm

    So I'm gonna warn you now. This is riddled with spoilers, especially for Vanir's story, and somewhat for the main story. Well actually a fair bit for the main story since it goes into the past a bit. It's also a tad inappropriate because there's a certain person like that, but if none of that bothers you feel free to read it. Again, a lot of this is not something you should do for various reasons. These guys are fictional!

    A quick FYI, this won't be included in the FF release. It's actually a part of USSR, but the story will end where the epilogue does...after I make some edits. Sometime. This isn't canon to the main story,(though technically it is, it doesn't change it any so it's not necessary information when reading either Freq/Sanc)
    Another Time, Another Place:
    Another Time, Another Place
    “I swear to the gods, if she doesn't come out of that star I'll make a note of it to scold her in my next life.” Talin muttered as he looked up to the sky. The young man was a tall dark elf with long silver hair tied in a ponytail and shining green eyes. He wore a crimson long sleeve shirt and blue jeans with an ornate green coat and a hood that rested upon his head and hid his features within. He wore simple, worn boots and held a staff that stood taller than him beside him, a weapon that curled at the top with three leaves protruding from it.
    “Do you ever feel that you worry too much for her sake, Master?” His companion Layla asked him. A tiny fairy in a short green dress sat on his shoulder. Her once long blonde hair now cropped short and resting behind her pointed ears.
    The two stood upon a branch of the world tree Yggdrasil and looked upon a massive violet star that lingered in the sky threatening the world beneath it. As they did, a battle raged on across the world of Asgard. From there vantage they could see but glimpses of magic in the air and the winged Cerebians taking the fight to their enemies.
    “The journal doesn't lie,” He muttered. “It goes into gruesome detail on exactly where my other selves had gone wrong, and here we are now. Thanks to that, because of that we're here now, and that I hadn't been cursed.” He placed a hand to his right eye and sighed. “If she was to die again here, history would only repeat itself. There's only so many times that I can allow that to happen.”
    “Why do you think God Ah wished for us to do this Master? I can't help but feel there was more to it than he told us. To save the Cerebians is something that he or their Abellan could do, but instead he gave us the ability to change our fates, and theirs.”
    He sighed. “I don't know a thing about the thought processes of the gods here or in the Old World, but one thing I can say for sure is that it's better we keep our noses out of it. I'd blamed my fate that Kana was taken away from me, and it had lead my other selves down too many wrong paths. To think there would be a time and a place where I wouldn't become that is unimaginable, but we're here now. This future that we've arrived at is one that I'll fight to protect with everything I have.” His companion gave him an uneasy look but he offered her a smile in turn. “This time our future will be different. Guaranteed.”
    As he turned his focus back to the star in the sky he caught a glimpse of light pouring out of it. Briefly after the event a sole figure was fired out of it and shot towards Asgard like a fallen star, quickly making its way in their general direction.
    “Master, there she is!” Layla shouted as she took to the sky.
    “Her trajectory is way off...that's the last time I let her handle those matters! Layla, can you get me there?”
    “Of course,” She answered with a smile.
    With a wave of his hand his sleeve fell away and it revealed the runes scrawled across his body, each pertaining to a different summoned creature he had once earned the trust of, and now fought with him-the reason that he had come thus far, and something that many of his 'other selves' had lost prior to their journey to Asgard. With a sigh he began to write in the air before him and his finger left a shimmering trail of light that took the shape of runes, a necessary action for his incantation. When he had completed writing them he pulled his hand away and the words surrounded his fey companion before taking their place within a magic circle that appeared within her. It split in two and each moved vertically, transforming her and giving her a more human shape and size before dispersing.
    “Take my hand, Master.” Now a tall and slender winged young lady, she offered him a hand.
    “Don't drop me please.” He muttered with a wry smile.
    She chuckled in response. “That is something that girl would do. You can entrust yourself to me.”
    Her wings began to flutter rapidly and she carried him in the direction of his falling comrade.

    They flew high above the capital city, still safe from the invading Agasura-the war front being kept to other cities across the world. Where Kana was headed seemed to be a forest, thankfully away from the battlefield but still a fair distance. While being held aloft by one hand, Talin prepared his next incantation with the other rapidly writing as they neared their destination.
    “How long do we have left?” He asked as he stole a glance at their location and hers.
    “Perhaps no more than thirty seconds. Are you prepared for a collision?”
    “The worst kind.” He chuckled dryly. He finished writing the incantation and looked down below them. “Alright, drop me there.”
    “Be careful Master.” Layla said before releasing him and diving down nearby.
    As he soared through the air he held his hand out and the words flew past him before gathering into the ground below. Within the heart of the forest was a small clearing with dry and cracked ground. Sand seeped out from within the cracks and began to gather where he was going to land. As he neared the amount increased and he landed within, the sand enveloped him and began to rise up from the ground eventually taking the shape of a humanoid's torso. Briefly after the lone figure came soaring down towards it and it reached a hand out only to be destroyed as she flew through it and into the heart of the figure, pulling Talin out from within. The two tumbled across the ground and came to a halt, she sprawled atop him while he groaned.
    “Gods Kana, get the job done, but don't die in the process please!” He huffed as he rubbed the back of his head.
    “Eh? Huh? Talon? I can't see a thing in this helmet.” She said as her head perked up and she seemingly glanced around.
    “Talin! Ta-lin. And I know you can see just fine!”
    Her kind though rarely, if ever seen, was known as an armoured race, but also for their clairvoyant nature. They could have humanoid bodies if they so wished, but most preferred their natural state-Kana was not one of those. In spite of their helmet's lack of vision for the person within, they could see thanks to their clairvoyance, and would act accordingly through their foresight. As she pulled away the pearl white armour she adorned dispersed in a series of spheres of light, and the six clear wings on her back followed suit. Within was a young girl with long snow white hair and white eyes with black sclera. She wore a black dress with white frills, and solid black boots with white laces.
    “Gods above it's hot in that thing!”
    “If you weren't wearing that dress you wouldn't be so hot, you know,” He added matter-of-factly.
    “Would you rather I wear less clothes?”
    He opened his mouth to speak and immediately closed it. Any answer would be unwarranted to an unwarranted question like that. He sighed. “Do as you please.”
    “Don't mind if I do.” She beamed and his face flushed as he glanced away. Layla landed next to him and helped him to his feet. “Welcome back!”
    The fey queen gave the girl a single glance and shook her head. “I must ask that you refrain from harming my master.”
    She rose to her feet and dusted off her knee socks. “He's a big boy. He can take a glomp or two from me.”
    “You'd sooner break this world in two with a collision like that, and you call it a glomp? If it weren't for that spell I'd probably me in two pieces!” Talin added as he cracked his back. She was not always that dangerous. She had a playful nature in the realm that they came from, and their journey together to the Old World is where things really took a turn. In a world where she could have access to magic and incredible spells, disaster would ensue, and did it ever. He considered himself lucky that he had made it this far in one piece, and more so that she had.
    She shrugged. “More to...love?”
    “I don't need that kind of love!”
    Layla sighed gently as she glanced around the area. “Master, it would be prominent if we made our escape as quickly as possible. Though our current position is away from the battlefield, if there were onlookers they may suspect that Agasura had managed to sneak past.” She explained.
    He smiled slightly. His first contracted spirit, and the one he had sworn his oath too, the two constantly growing together. From the timid and tiny fey that she once was, she had become a prominent part of his team, and at times the voice of reason that he needed. An important comrade both in and out of battle. “You're right. Kana, are you ready? Can you get us out of here?
    “Of course. Just hold on tight.” She answered with a smile.
    He smiled wryly. “Is that really necessary?”
    “No, but I think I deserve something after jumping into a death star for you.”
    He wanted to object, and he felt that he had the reason to do it. She knew of what the Talins of the other other worlds had done all in vain to prevent her death, and the familiar journey many had followed, but she was the only one that could get them off of the home world of the Asgardians. “H-have it your way.” He walked over and took her hand. “Happy now? Let's get out of here.”
    She pursed her lips. “Nah, not satisfied yet.”
    His ears wilted and he knit his eyebrows, but this did not come as a surprise. “Pick your poison then.”
    “Make it more intimate Comrade.” She said and he raised an eyebrow. He let go of her hand and she patted her waist.
    “Yo-you're kidding, right?” She offered him a smile that seemed to both invite and challenge him-perhaps it was the way her eyes twinkled, and he hated it the most. “Gods!” He walked behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. “Do it quickly, and don't call me Comrade.”
    She laughed gently. “You can reach higher if you like.”
    “N-no!” Layla tapped her finger on her arm as she watched the event play out. “Haven't you had your fun? Let's get going before someone sees. They might get the wrong idea.”
    “Is it laundry day or are you just happy to see me?”
    His expression darkened. “I swear by the gods I'll throw you into a laundry machine if you make one more bad joke.”
    She offered him a grin. “One ride to Jienda coming right up.” She held a hand skyward and a rainbow beam of light poured from the sky above and enveloped them in it.
    As they began to dissipate within it, Talin caught a glimpse of a series of Cerebians flying through the sky, lead by two figures, all bearing the colours of the kingdom. His first trial had passed, and one of the most important in his whole journey. Destroy Rinstar, and protect Asgard's queen Remedi.

    It had been six years since the first Asgardian War. The three had taken up residence within the City of Elias, donning disguises before leaving their home as not to garner attention. They lived in a rather plain apartment with one bedroom, a kitchen and a living room that was lightly decorated. When the two had left the Old World they had not taken much with them. Talin his weapon and armour, the things within his rucksack that included food for the journey, his mother's journal, a picture of his adopted family, his own unique journal and a mirror that his mother had left for him when he was but a baby. He had asked Kana what she was bringing and she scolded him for 'trying to go through a lady's personal belongings'. Though once they took up residence, she revealed them to be many things of sentimental value from the world they once called home. A photo album, a necklace he had gotten for her when they were still kids that did not fit her anymore, rations, and her crystal ball. Though she had little use for it since coming to understand just who she was and her innate clairvoyance, it was still important to her all the same.
    Talin sat at the kitchen table with Layla on his shoulder and the two pored over his journal, an ancient looking  tome much heftier than one would suspect, and for good reason. The one thing that God Ah had given his first self upon their meeting, and the words, “Change the fate of the Cerebians and you will change your own”. The same day he had set out and found himself in the Old World, he had found this journal amidst his other books. It held records of entries from himself, to himself-memories of successes and failures as they all struggled to save Kana and in doing so prevent their world and the world he resided in now from falling by the hands of himself, and the Agasura. It was painful to see what had occurred, and how they failed but necessary to ensure that he did not make the same mistakes, and lose her in doing so. Their stories unfolded like chapters, every chapter ending where they had written their last entry, and each containing a marking that was likely proof they had fallen in battle. Some remained incomplete, and new entries were added as time went on. He had made entries of his own in hopes that they would be able to save another. He flicked through the pages of one such entry and stopped around the current period in his timeline in search of answers.

    Vanir #42-Year 20xx-Day xxx
    I should 've intervened when I had the chance. I should've stopped the Agasuric march before it could reach Asgard, but the fool that I was I had left it. I had thought that in this, just as the others though the Cerebians would be forced to escape, that the most prominent figures would live on. The reigning queen...I had let Peorth fall in battle. There is no other proxy to take her place. The Abellan has fallen into the hands of the Agasura and the remains of their forces have now turned their focus upon Jienda. It might be only a matter of time before war breaks out across the land, and the world is up in flames. I can't let something like this happen again. I have to save her, regardless of my identity!

    Talin blinked as he read the last words. That Vanir had said that the God's Governor of Water had passed away, and in response to the event Queen Peorth had succeeded her. It had only been a brief while after the event, but it seemed that even with the strength of the God's Governor on her side that she could not pull through the war. It was hard to imagine, and even more so that the realization would come that he was powerless before the Agasura. Even with their strength on his side, could he really turn the tides of the war? He flicked through the pages to another chapter and glanced over the entry, curious as to what had happened then.

    Vanir #57-Year 20xx-Day xxx
    I knew the day would come. Probably sooner than I would have hoped, but if the other guys were an indication as long as I didn't deviate too much chances are things would turn out alright. They weren't wrong. The Cerebians had to flee from Asgard, and in the process the Bifrost was destroyed, but a lot of them are still alive. Lucia said that the Queen was somewhere on Jienda, and that her Keruz were with her. That's a big load off my shoulders. I can't say for sure that this path was the best one but...if they survive, I might get a step closer to finding out how to save Kana. The Abellan is out there too. He knows something about bringing back the dead, and if I can find him...this time, I'll get the answers that I need.

    This entry gave him pause. Just what did he plan to do with the Abellan here? He swallowed the words hard and nearly jumped as a bowl was placed before him. He raised his eyes to his companion who looked down on him with an uneasy gaze.
    “You really shouldn't spend so much time gazing at that journal Comrade, or you're gonna become paranoid.” Kana said before she offered him a gentle smile. “I know how adamant you are on doing everything properly, but don't forget that this is something we can do together now that I'm here with you. You saved my bacon back in the Old World, so I've no doubt you can save everyone here too. Just make sure to remember that you're a person too, so make some time for yourself once in a while.” If anyone else knew her, they would be astonished-there was hardly a moment where Kana could take anything seriously, but when those moments did come they were like a sunny day during the monsoon season. He had seen it occasionally, and after watching her save not only the Old World, but Asgard also he had no doubt that she was much more capable when she chose to be serious. It was just very rarely that she did just that. “So, you didn't forget what day it is, did you? Take some candy and it might come to you.”
    That was a very good question. He had been so intent on following the journal's time he lost track of his own. He absent-mindedly reached into the bowl and drew a candy heart. 'Kiss me' it said. So it was that day. Her favourite day of the year, since it seemed to give her every right in the world to have some romantic fun in the most non-romantic way possible. He knit his eyebrows and glanced across the table to her who rested her chin on her hands and smiled impishly. A declaration of war. He popped the candy heart into his mouth and chewed it before swallowing solemnly. She raised an eyebrow as she awaited an answer, and he needed to stall for time. He picked up another candy heart and stole an uneasy glance at it. 'Love me. Hard.' He shook his head before tossing it back into the bowl.
    “Just where on Jienda did you get these things?! Gods!” He hissed. There was definitely something off about those candy hearts.
    “Special order,” She answered matter-of-factly.
    Layla face-palmed at the comment and he smiled wryly. “You ordered these? Why not just get...you know, normal candy hearts?”
    “If normal candy hearts could express my love for you I would. But they can't. So I didn't.” His jaw fell at her comment and he face-palmed, mainly to hide his flushed face. He could not handle her, no matter how many years they spent together. She offered him a grin. “You can be honest with me, you've already confessed anyway. If you don't, I might come flying at you like a spider monkey in heat.”
    “Gross!” He retorted and she burst out into laughter. It was his loss. He reached into his pocket and drew a small heart-shaped box. “H-here.” He held it out to her while averting his eyes. “Happy Valentine's Day.”
    She gratefully accepted the box and grinned at him. “Thanks Comrade.”
    He took another candy heart and sighed gently as he closed his journal. 'Xxxx me Valentine' it said. The words seemed to be rubbed out, perhaps by his own thumb, or perhaps by the creators themselves, and for good reason. He hoped that it said kiss, but somehow had doubts in his heart. He shifted his gaze from the heart to the girl sitting at the other side of the table, happily taking a bite of the chocolate before he sighed happily. She really was more trouble than she was worth, the idiot. He tossed the heart into his mouth and ate it before raising a question. “Will you do me a favour Kana?”
    “Mm? What?” She answered half-way through eating the heart.
    “I want to take a glimpse into Queen Remedi's future. In my journal entries I couldn't find any that had reached this point, or at least one where Queen Remedi survived the first war. I know you can't pinpoint exactly when it'll be, but even in the near future should be fine. If both the queen's daughters are still alive, I think we might be on the best possible track. After that we could...go out or something.”
    She beamed. “Lemme' get my crystal ball.”
    “Take your time.” He said as he opened the journal again.
    “Do you think this will be it Master?” Layla asked with knit eyebrows.
    He offered a weary smile. “Who knows? I mean, we've been through a lot to get this far, so it's hard to say that this will be it for sure but I do hope we succeed this time. The fact that the three of us are here together...even if things don't end perfectly, I'm just glad that we got to this point.”
    Her expression eased up and she smiled in turn. “I think so. I'm glad to have gone on this journey with you Master.”
    “H-hey, save that for when our journey's over. When you say it like that I feel old.” She laughed at his words.
    “Back.” Kana said as she returned and slid the candy hearts aside to place down her crystal ball. Though there was little need for it, she still liked to use it. He had to admit, it certainly was nostalgic-she often said that it helped her concentrate when using her clairvoyant abilities. Regardless, he decided he would not question it unnecessarily. “Here goes.” She took his hands and the two closed their eyes.
    In the following moments Talin could see the world of Jienda from a bird's eye view growing more and more distant as the sights travelled through space, the stars disappearing in a flash of light and the sights of the sea of sky before coming to Asgard. It travelled across the plains, past cities, mountain ranges and lakes across the world to the capital where the World Tree resided. Atop the crown rested the palace, and the sight travelled through it, down ornate halls with flowing carpets and candelabra that lined the walls to the bedroom of the twin princesses. The two young girls were tucked into their bed as their mother kissed them each on the heads before walking away with a single candle in a holder.
    It was quite the heartwarming sight-in the two they resembled her greatly. They shared the same sky blue hair as she and piercing sapphire eyes, the younger of the two wearing a look of innocence while her sister a slightly more mature air. Remedi herself was tall and slender with a long face and gentle eyes-her long hair lowed behind her as she walked with the air and grace of a queen. Her daughters closed their eyes as she exited the room, the only light remaining within being that of the moon shining at their bedside.
    Just as he had suspected and hoped, the twins were still together as was their mother. His sight moved back to the hall as Remedi closed the door behind them and took to the armoury where the king, queen and her twin sister put on their battle garments and retrieved their weapons amidst a group of soldiers who occasionally glanced on in awe. From there to the crown of the tree, he saw as one by one they all took flight while lead by the royal family. His sight darkened and he opened his eyes to see Kana looking back at him.
    “Did you find what you were looking for Talin?” She asked before she tilted her head.
    He nodded, then smiled. “Yeah. I think we're on the right track. I don't think there's any meddling we need to do here so let's go have some fun.”
    She grinned. “Hang on, I'll go get changed.”
    Watching her run off in pajamas and slippers made him laugh. “Make it quick. You know how Verun's store is on a regular day. It'll definitely be packed today.”

    Seven years had passed since the Second Asgardian War, and Talin was overjoyed that many of the events that the others had gone through had been prevented. The Cerebians had won the war thanks to the aid of the five God's Governors, and the Agasuric threat had been evicted from Asgard. The Bifrost remained intact, and travel between the two worlds became much more common, many Cerebians came to become adventurers and took up residence in the Havens around the cities or within the cities themselves. By this point, the invasion of Xenym was to happen, but since the Agasura had failed to defeat the Asgardians the Dark Moon never took to recruiting new soldiers, and thus peace remained both in Aoich and Xenym. Thanks to this, God's Governor Julius and Rosetta went on to see the completion of Hanamah and take up residence there as the Wardens of the Haven.
    Talin and Kana perched in a tree in the forest of Hanamah and gazed down at the God's Governor's family. Julius, Rosetta, his familiar Bane, brother Samson and daughter were all gathered in a nearby field. The baby girl frolicked about in a field of dandelions and dandelion puffs while the solemn familiar kept a close watch on her. Whenever she fell he would walk over and pick her up before she would run off again, chasing the seeds that flew through the air.
    “Can you hear what they're saying Talon?” Kana asked as she leaned closer in their direction to hear.
    If there was one good thing about being a Dark Elf, it was their keen sense of hearing. Otherwise it was rather awful, but he made the best of it nonetheless. “Hush up and I might hear what they're saying,” He muttered.
    “You should let me take her on my journey Jules! You know, show her the world a bit! She'd love it!” Samson said with a nod.
    “She's just learning to walk and you want her to follow you across a continent infested with Agasura? It's a shame that brilliance is not hereditary in your side of the family Samson,” Rosetta remarked.
    “That's a zinger.”
    Julius chuckled. “Perhaps once she's a bit older that would be a good idea Samson. I'd like to give her some hands-on lessons with magic before I send her out into the world. If she wants to learn the ways of the God's Governor first, I'll be sure to teach her all she needs to know about that also.”
    “Being a God's Governor is rather boring, don't you think? She should learn the thrill of combat! What it's like to be up against a pack of white wolves with only your dagger, shield and your wits! That's what I call a good time!” Samson said as he clenched his fist.
    “Two out of three is not bad, for you.” Rosetta commented as she crossed his arms.
    “Two out of-oh I see what you did there. You and I should have a battle of wits Rosy.”
    “But you've already lost.”
    “You two have quite the camaraderie don't you? Just be sure to pass on the right idea to Kasumi, if you'd be so kind.” Julius said with a smile.
    Rosetta nodded before giving a tiny smile herself. “I will teach our daughter all that she needs to know. Especially so that this man does not corrupt her pure mind with his drivel.”
    “I'm gonna make that kid tough as nails! A God's Governor is nothing if they're not strong, in my honest opinion,” Samson retorted.
    Talin frowned. “After getting to know the heroes of our world I guess I can't really say that I'm entirely surprised about this, but the God's Governor bunch is weird as all get out,” He muttered.
    “You're not the epitome of normal either, Airhorn.” She added with a playful grin.
    He had made one mistake with the name of the hero he had been reborn as and she would not let him hear the end of it, let alone the rest of the group he traversed the world with. Was it his fault that Eirhern sounded that way? “Yeah, yeah laugh it up.” He muttered as he furrowed his brows. “But you're not one to talk now are you?”
    “Oh I know. But I embrace that fact.”
    “That's what makes you so shameless,” He said flatly
    She placed both hands to the branch and leaned in closer. “You don't dislike it though, do you?” He pulled back with a flushed face.
    “Control yourself please!” Layla hissed from the crown of Talin's hair.
    “We're in agreement on that matter,” Talin added.
    She pursed her lips. “You two need to live a little.” She turned her gaze back to the baby. “Though that's a really cute kid. Who would guess that she'd become a killing machine in the future?”
    “Man when you put it like that it sounds awful. It's not like she's gonna go on a human killing spree.” As he thought of his other selves doing just that, he felt a bit foolish at the comment. “The only reason they fight the Agasura is to save their world, and save the souls that are being used by the Agasura King.”
    “Queen Remedi has helped many Agasura break free of their bindings and befriend humanity or the Cerebians. She's really inspirational.” Layla said now lying down atop her Master's head, her own in both her hands.
    Kana raised an eyebrow. “Hmm...that's great and all, but to end the war don't they need their Abellan? I've still yet to see them.”
    Talin rubbed his chin in thought. “Now that you mention it, you are right. Most of the time he only came to be in this world because Peorth became the queen and Proxy. Since we changed that fact...it does make me wonder what will happen.”
    “Though perhaps our duty will be complete once she does appear. In a sense, don't you think that we've upheld our end of the promise with God Ah?” Layla asked.
    She did raise a good point. All of the entries his other selves had made were proof that they attempted to change the Cerebian's fate, and thought many of them remained ambiguous, there was no denying that their attempts are what had changed his fate also. Now that he had arrived at this juncture, he had Kana with him, his ability as a summoner intact, and he need not take up the title and duty of his alter ego Vanir. Or rather, he did not become Vanir because of all of that. The vague clues he had received from the world's creator were all he had to go by, but Layla's speculation may have held some truth to it. Though unsure, he would remain mindful of it. “If we did keep our end of the bargain, then thank goodness for that. This is troublesome.”
    “What does she look like?” Kana asked with a look of curiosity.
    “I-I dunno. It's not like I can see into my other selves' memories. I can just read them. They didn't include anything like that in their entries!”
    “That's too bad. I hope someday we do get to meet her, though. Do you think she'd be cute?”
    He knit his eyebrows. “If we do meet her we'd need to keep you away from her. Gods know what you'd do if you got your hands on her. That aside, we promised that we'd keep a low profile if it could be helped, remember? If they lay eyes on you they're gonna have questions. Considering our circumstances, our meeting would be like tampering with history. They might not know what destroyed Rinstar, but I want to keep it that way. The fact that the queen is alive is more than enough.” He smiled slightly. “They've done well for themselves so far, and it's thanks to you that we were able to save Asgard.” She smiled but knit her eyebrows, a sign that there was something that she wanted. “W-what?”
    “There are other ways you could thank me, you know.”
    He tried to hide his embarrassment. “I'm w-well aware of that. I'd just rather not do it here. I mean, we're in a tree for the love of the gods.”
    She grinned. “I think you could serve to become better acquainted with nature though, Comrade.”
    They had been together this long, and she still called him comrade. He would turn in his grave before he saw the end of that. “I think our work here is done so...let's head home.” He reached into his rucksack and drew a warp crystal. She wrapped her arms around his and held him close. In a flash of light the trio disappeared.
    Afterwards they found themselves in the main district of the city of Midgard, a place just on the outskirts of the Aquarium that connected the Abyss Ruins to the futuristic city. Even the world they were born in had no such technology. Flying ships, guns that fired lasers and even robots. The city housed creatures of all races, even Elves, but here also the Dark Elves had a bit of a history so Talin kept his head low. As they walked through the streets Kana remained by his side and offered him a small smile.
    “Once this is all over, we'll take the Bifrost to your home and we'll get this matter sorted out.” She said quietly.
    Talin knew little of his ancestors and the reasons that lead to their exile, but he promised himself that he would do everything in his power to find out, and to correct just that. He dreamed of returning to the place that had been only spoken of with ill intentions and cursed, because deep down he felt that there was more to the story than any of those that spoke of it knew. But more than anything, he wanted to enjoy the time that he had earned with his companion and the love of his life. As they approached the walkway to their house within Midgard he smiled back at her. “Let's just take things one step at a time. I do want to know, but there's no real rush.”
    At the door he glanced at her who grinned back at him, the ring on her finger shone in the sunlight. “Then you're in for a hell of a time, Comrade.” He smiled wryly at her comment instinctively.

    How did this happen?:
    I'd given Vanir's story a lot of thought, and the main story too of course. I theorized a lot, of the possibilities of the changes in the story should certain characters have lived to tell. Made me wonder how things would change, what the relationships would be like and how the stories would play out following it. At the heart of it all, I wondered what would happen if Talin never became 'Vanir'. If you've ever wondered that, here's your answer!

    It was probably obvious since he made an offhand remark about it, but his alter ego was no act. He actually did become that way in the AUs where he messed up and well...yeah. In most of those, perhaps not all but most she was killed and this lead to him becoming Vanir time and again. I'd considered the one from that universe making an entry, being listed as Talin and not as Vanir, but I decided not to. It's possible there are others, but what happened to them is a mystery. Perhaps there'll come a time where I'll expand on this universe or one like it.
    But yeah, as you'd expect those two are the very same Vanir and Skuld. Just...not those two specifically. If you put what's given together you might suspect what happened to them in the other universes. Just an FYI, summoners like him typically have up to three contracts, but a single oath. I think I went into detail on this somewhere...maybe. But that's part of the reason why Layla could change shape like that.

    But anyway, most of this was built around the idea of there being other worlds, alike to that one but each following a different path, depending on the actions of the people in them. There's quite a bit about the theory, but you don't need me and my two cents on the matter. I did experiment with the idea in Su's prelude for Sanc, where the world got wrecked. A lot of his stories would likely end like that-either that, or with him getting killed somehow. You do see a bit of that, and how the way he talks/writes differs depending on which one it is. They've all had different experiences, so it's like a grab bag of nightmarish proportions lol. In spite of knowing that, the Talin there is rather optimistic.

    Truth be told, writing some of it was rather difficult, because what it covered was rather grim, and perhaps not quite in the spirit of Valentine's Day. But on the other hand, that's just how his story is. I think if I had covered more of it in Sanc it would have a bit more impact, but let's just say that he's come a long way to get to that point. That matter aside romance never was my cup of tea...from the perspective of a writer. Perhaps it could turn out like this, and no I'm not condoning it! I'm just saying. Still, I wanted to keep the two in character, and they'd changed quite a bit from their original selves, since it's quite the jump in time. When I edit it they might be more mature as the years pass by, but I guess with Kana at least, that immaturity is part of what makes her character so unique. Though perhaps some might think that she would be alike to other eccentric characters, she was one of the first that I worked with. Alike with others, the more she's around the more her character would unfold, as would her story. She comes off as a total klutz here, and even where she originated, but there really is depth as always.
    Perhaps that's the biggest challenge I have to face with my writing. Typically as it unfolds it gets better, the characters get more developed and their stories become much deeper and more intertwined, but it's a matter of time. I might need to learn to make my characters stand out more sooner rather than later. There are changes even in hers here though. Believe it or not, in those timeskips you can see how their relationship progresses through the dialogue! It's only about 6-7 pages in total, but there are little signs that they got closer. Oddly enough, it's that very thing that I'm terrible with, not in writing but in my life. I'd like to learn to work with this more though! Kinda can, but still needs a bit of work.

    Her clairvoyance is a bit on the unusual side. Since she mastered it she can glimpse into the future's of just about anyone, so long as she knew who she was looking for. It wouldn't likely work between dimensions, but worlds like Jienda and Asgard is possible. As for the reason it jumps between scenes, they're different points in time, not all in the same day. Perhaps having a day/night cycle during it would make that a bit clearer.

    Now for a certain joke. She calls him Talon. The pronunciation for his name is a tad on the strange side. It's written Talin, but it's pronounced Ta-lin. Technically there's a bit more emphasis on the end, giving it more of a -lynn sound. Strange I know, but he's a Dark Elf so they're all weird.

    Now let's talk a bit about the changes in this universe.
    Since Freya lives, she would succeed her mother both as queen and as the proxy. Which completely changes the future! Freya would form a contract with him, that is, if she succeeds while Peorth would become a God's Governor also. Julius and co. survive the Xenym event, and the place still stands to the day. Though in that future Reina and Hazel would not likely live there, since they could stay on Asgard. This means that Innocent, and everything that happened then, wouldn't happen at all! Strange right? But it also means that Su wouldn't join the Dark Moon and meet TJ the way she had, nor would she likely form the contract with Lady Amae. It would be a very complex world, but interesting nonetheless!
    The end though does hint at something within the main story. I tried not to spoil that too much, but it's probably obvious lol.

    If you did read this, I hope you enjoyed it! Took me a few hours to write but it was something that I had in mind for a little while. I feel like there could be more but with this I'm satisfied. So with that out of the way, happy Valentine's!
    avatar
    TJ

    Posts : 873
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 24
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sat Feb 21, 2015 4:06 pm

    Pages 93-99:
    “Robo might have a point. Let's see if we can find those two Curt.” With a nod the Abellan took the lead with his companion following closely behind. He turned his focus to a nearby stairwell surrounded by two torches and made his way down.
    The two found themselves in another wide room, the remnants of the battles left behind in the God's Governors wake while the two yelling at each other could be heard across the room. Their argument continued on as they made their way up a set of vines and towards the next stairwell.
    “Well they get along well now don't they?” Curt remarked with a grin.
    “In truth I didn't think that those two would be able to be in the same room together after what happened back then. I think it's an improvement.” TJ added before sliding down the vines near their feet. Upon reaching the bottom he shook his hands to recover from the burns. “Though will you and Robo be alright with her? You probably have your own concerns too huh?”
    Curt joined him at the bottom and shrugged as they went on. “It's not so bad. She's a damn good fighter, and also pretty mouthy, but I'm willing to look past it. I doubt she'd put up with us for long after last time, but we haven't attacked each other yet, so maybe we'll make it through the mission without killing each other.”
    TJ pursed his lips at the Treasure Hunter's words and jumped down a short ledge, nearing another. “It's hard to be optimistic in situations like this. I really do worry that you guys are gonna get into another fight. Though considering that those two are going at it like that and not going after each other, maybe we'll be alright. We're really gonna have to work together once we get to the Instance Dungeon. Maybe it's just me but I have a feeling that we're gonna be up against some really strong Agasura.”
    His companion grinned. “I'd bet that you're right, but do you have any doubts? I sure don't!” The Abellan offered him a smile and a curious head tilt in response. “Let's be real here. We beat the crap out of Rabana and Choen Palm. Besides, now you've got your powers unlocked! Just transform again and the Agasura won't stand a chance against you.”
    The Abellan laughed gently. If only it were so easy for him. Vanir had said that the Divinity Sealing would only last a couple of days, but he still felt reluctant to try and use the Order Frequency a second time. Thankfully and to his dismay, Curt was not present to witness his failure first hand-he felt thankful that his companions had fared well through the battle in spite of his moment of weakness. “I'll give it a shot, but the Chief said that we should be wise in how we utilize our mana. It's just a feeling but I feel refreshed when I return to the guild room, kinda like that Instance Dungeon you created.”
    Curt nodded sagely. “It's the same thing, but rather than using my mana it uses Peorth's plus Sellistar's. There's enough in there for an entire guild, all the time. Though it's not impossible to gather it around Jienda, you won't get much even if you focused on just that one thing.” He grinned once more. “But that's just it huh? That's the goal of the Cerebians. To revitalize the world, and save it in the process.”
    While Curt climbed up some vines after him he placed a hand to his gem thoughtfully and looked to the stairwell before him. He wondered exactly what the Agasura had intended to do-the simplest explanation would be the world's destruction, and whether or not that was all it did not change the fact that they needed to be stopped. The reluctance in his heart was no longer crippling as it was in the past, but the fact remained that he too, was an Agasura. To become God Ah's right hand...what would happen to him afterwards? Would defeating the Agasura King eliminate his followers, and TJ with them? He let out a gentle sigh at the thought. His reverie was broken by the sound of something like a jet of flames. He glanced around the area and nearly leapt away as Robo's MG flew up to their current position.
    “It seems I've found out a new use to my MG. It has boosters both for horizontal and vertical movement! Handy, no?” He asked with a confident grin.
    “Handy for scaring the living daylights out of me!” TJ complained before letting out a sight of relief.
    “Looks like you've still got your work cut out for you Robo,” Curt remarked.
    The Meister furrowed his brows. “Progress will be made, and that MG will be mine. It's only a matter of time! Shall we then?” Both with his robot and his hand he gestured for them to take the stairs further in.
    Upon reaching the bottom the Abellan glanced around the area and spotted both God's Governors casting against one Agasura. Fire rained down upon it and the earth was splintered, which ended rather gruesomely. TJ blinked as he noticed that there was no blood.
    “Smells like rotting flesh in here,” The Treasure Hunter muttered.
    “It's no surprise considering what they were combating, in my opinion.
    TJ climbed down the ropes and found the corpse of what looked like a singed priting. At a second glance, he noticed that it was definitely not the same-the eyes crimson yet seemingly withered, and the entire body black rather than green, but charred nonetheless. There were even singed bandages that covered it. He poked it with his foot and the jaw fell open and seemingly crumbled at his touch, causing him to reel away.
    “Zombies?” He asked slightly perturbed.
    “Nah, I think those things are mummies dude.”
    “But they're not the same as the pritings right? Or are they mummy pritings?” Curt shrugged in response to the question.
    Robo landed behind them and made his way over before crouching down with his MG and hanging from the front to get a closer look. “It looks like a priring to me, judging by the eyes, but considering the state it's in it really is difficult to say for sure.”
    “For now let's just focus on catching up to those two first. They'd probably know, since they killed them.”
    The three made their way down another set of vines and looked across the room. The arched architecture gave off the feeling that it too, shared many traits with the much more modern city, but in spite of the age it still withstood the test of time. As they went on they came across a set of eight cube shaped stones with hieroglyphs carved upon them. In spite of the history before them, they served better as a way down to the lower floor that connected to another section at a similar height to the first.
    “This place is pretty big.” TJ said as he climbed up the step. “Do you think we'll be able to find the dungeon quickly?”
    “Better watch out man there's another mummy right there.”
    “Huh?” As he rose to his feet it hopped towards him and made a light squeak before spitting its bandages towards him. He stepped back and drew his guitar before Curt's dagger flew past him and lodged itself between its eyes. Curt joined him afterwards and offered him a reassuring smile before he reclaimed the weapon. “Thanks for that. I'd thought the others had cleared out all the Agasura here.
    “Better watch yourself . There's probably gonna be more mummified Agasura lying in wait that they missed.”
    TJ chuckled dryly. “Oh well that's fun. I'd hate to be that kind of Agasura though.” He tugged on a set of vines and began to climb them. “I mean, imagine dying once and coming back as an undead thing.”
    “Prirings will be prirings I suppose.”
    “Mummified prirings are certainly a first though. Rather fitting for a pyramid, don't you think?” Robo asked.
    As TJ walked towards a stairwell that lead deeper into the pyramid Curt took his hand and pulled him away. “Hold on there, that's probably not where we want to be, don't you think?” As TJ shrugged in response Curt pointed up to another entrance and gestured for them to follow after him. While he climbed the vines he continued, “Though the fact that these things are mummified must mean that they're pretty old. Those prirings are probably older than we are.”
    “There are many things that are older than I am.” The Meister remarked.
    The Abellan climbed up the ladder and found himself at a long walkway before another set of vines that lead to the next entrance. The walkway was broken in some places, and it explained why he found pieces of rubble scattered about on the lower floor-he considered it due to age but it seemed the God's Governors played a part in that. Robo's answer made him curious though about a lot of things that he never really took the time to ask. So much happened since they had met that he never really paid any mind to the little things. “Just how old are you Robo? And you too Curt?”
    The Meister scratched his cheek. “If I were to take a guess I would say perhaps seven? In the current time's years, at least.”
    Curt in turn grinned. “If you guess right I'll tell you, but you only get one.
    So Robo was seven years old and he would have to guess Curt's-the two talking over each other made it rather difficult to discern what they said for a couple of moments afterwards. He knit his eyebrows. “You don't look seven to me.” He muttered before glaring at Robo.
    “Well I wasn't exactly born and raised, per se. I was created from Curt's cells,” The Meister said nonchalantly, while Curt looked aghast.
    TJ crossed his arms and gave him a stern look before he burst out into laughter. Like he would fall for that one. “That's a good one.” The look on Curt's face made it a little more convincing though. Chances are that they just shared a name-the two shared some similar traits, but he would be more convinced if he said they were brothers. He chuckled lightly at the thought. If Freya and Peorth shared a name he would not be able to tell which is which until they spoke. As he made his way down the stairs both Curts gave each other a glance, the Meister shrugged while his companion offered him a wry smile.
    After ascending the stairs the group came across a worn-down looking Amata who leaned against a step and heaved. Beads of sweat ran down her face and her brows were furrowed, a look of fury followed the God's Governor of Earth as she made her way higher. Before TJ could call out to her, the sound of her stomach growling gave him pause, and she placed a hand to it before groaning.
    “Hey-” He began.
    The look she gave him pierced right through him and chilled him to the bone. “You heard nothing, right?” She asked her tone as cold as her gaze.
    “W-well...” Curt and Robo backed away into the tunnel. If he did not think of something quickly things were not going to end well for him. An idea came to him and he began to rummage through his rucksack before withdrawing the basket Skuld had given to him. “Skuld had given this to me before I left Elias. Why don't we share it?”
    She glared at him and he began to sweat. “...You first.”
    It was all she had said, but her gaze did not seem as ferocious as it did to begin with-rather it seemed to be one of apprehension. He wanted to shrug, but he feared that in the few moments he made that gesture she would take it as him attempting to attack, which would result in him being singed. The idea was rather far-fetched but he would not underestimate the God's Governor under any circumstances. He pulled away the cloth that covered the basket and found a set of homemade cookies within. There was a variety of them, not that he knew what kinds they were, but they looked delicious nonetheless. He reached in and took one before taking a bite of it and smiling with delight. Did Skuld really prepare these? He was definitely impressed by her skill-though perhaps it should not have come as a surprise to him, considering that she and Vanir ran a cafe. He turned his gaze back to Amata who looked on with a mix of concern and jealousy. He bit down on the cookie in his hand and offered the basket to her with both hands.
    “Go ahead.” He said raising it slightly.
    With a huff she walked over and took one before taking a small bite out of it. “They're...not bad. Who's this Skuld you were on about?” She raised an eyebrow, the look on her face easing up as she ate the snack.
    TJ smiled slightly. “She's Vanir's brownie. They own a cafe called Madelaine's Tea Stop in Elias.”
    She turned away and began to climb up. “And this Vanir is...?”
    “He's a Confidant that knows a lot about the Agasura and monsters like them.”
    Curt and Robo followed shortly after, the former of the two said, “Lemme' try one of those.”
    As Amata took another from the basket she waved it at him shortly after. “Give 'em my regards. Maybe I should go meet those guys. I don't know too much about the Confidants there yet.”
    TJ followed Amata up a set of vines and caught a glimpse of what looked like the entrance to an Instance Dungeon in the distance. Could that have been where they wanted to be? “Hold that thought Amata, isn't that the entrance right over there? We're headed the wrong way!”
    She sighed. “Haven't you ever been here before? That's not the place. That's the Pyramid's Treasure Vault. Kazno used to hang out in there while he and the others tried to find out what happened to Iris. He's probably not there anymore, but if you were looking for treasure you could find it in there. You'd be lucky if you got out alive though. The Guardian in there is pretty strong.”
    Kazno...the name did not sound familiar to him, but perhaps if he found the time he could ask around for him. If he had been searching the ruins, perhaps he would be somewhere in Elfa now? If so he could ask Amu about him. Amata seemed familiar with Iris' party when they moved as a team, but their current whereabouts would be no good. Though they seemed to be competing, it was surprising that she had given up. The look on her face said she was more unwilling than she would let on if he was to ask, but it was rather unusual that the God's Governor decided to keep pace with the others in spite of having regained her stamina. “You're not gonna chase after her Amata?”
    The God's Governor scoffed at his words. “Chase after her? I knew she was weird before but she's like a damn train. She never stops, never tires...what the hell is she on?”
    TJ laughed dryly as he climbed up to another set of ascending stairs. “It's a funny story.”
    “I've got time. Enlighten me, why don't you?”
    The group emerged at the exit to the stairwell and TJ glanced around, a wall on one side and a long path on the other, lined with corpses of what actually looked like zombies. “Where do I begin? Let's just say that Su and I have a contract.”
    As the group stepped over the bodies the God's Governor turned her head back with a curious look. “A contract? What kind?”
    At that moment his gem began to glow and half of the God's Governor emerged from within. “The kind that lets me do stuff like this!” She said with a grin.
    Her rival did not take well to it-she stepped back with a shriek, her terror quickly turning to anger. She stormed at the two and reached out to grab Su who retreated back to the crystal, and the God's Governor wound up grabbing TJ with her fist ready to hit him. “What, the hell.”
    TJ's glasses slid down the bridge of his nose and he took a moment to correct that. “It's just like she says,” He began with a nervous chuckle, “it lets her do things like that.”
    “She lives inside you? What the hell did you two do exactly that allowed for that, and why?” She took up a guarded expression and began to walk away from him. “I'm not getting in that thing, F.Y.I. So if you're thinking something like that don't even try it.”
    “I'm not!” He shouted defensively before stomping his foot.”And I don't even think I can do that!”
    She sighed, be it out of relief or understanding, he had no idea, but she did it anyway. “So you and the God's Governor are stuck to each other like glue huh? At least now I know if I run into one of you, the other's likely nearby. Still...” She gave him an odd look, one that seemed to be appraising him, but also one that showed a different side to her-it felt serious and contemplative, but also commanding. “I'd never heard of a spell that could do something like that to anyone, and I've done my research. It doesn't change the fact that even the God's Governors don't know much about you, Abellan. I've heard that you have access to powers that we can't understand, but something like that seems rather off to me. The other big thing for us is our task in awakening your power.” She sighed as she brushed a couple strands of hair from her eyes and began to climb some nearby vines. “We're not far from the entrance, but that aside, that must have been your doing right?”
    He shook his head. “No, not really.” As he began to climb up after her the thoughts of the events from their first visit to Elfa danced in his mind. He had not known that it was something Su had wanted until Curt had told him so, and to the day he was still thankful that she had gone to such lengths for him. It was by her guidance he pulled through many of his battles. “Truth be told I'm as surprised as you are that she had been inside of it. I don't know how she did it, but we've developed a sort of connection because of it. Thanks to it I've got a much better grasp on my powers, and she keeps them under control. They tend to go a little haywire if I'm not careful.” He leapt from where he stood and grabbed on to another set of vines hanging from a landing. So long as he refrained from looking down, he would be fine. Probably.
    Perhaps because Amata had explored the path once or that she was just that brave, she pushed forward without hesitation. “You've developed a sort of contract with a God's Governor to keep your powers in check huh? Have you ever asked yourself what would happen if the two of you were separated? Let's be real here Abellan, you might know us but we've still yet to learn about you. My old man and his parents and nearly all of the God's Governors haven't seen or heard of you except in the legends passed down, and even those were vague. I can't say that you've made the right or wrong choice in what you did, but you better make sure not to disrupt our duties. The God's Governors keep the balance of our world, and protect it. Take one out of the picture, and who knows what'll happen.”
    “Somebody did their homework,” Curt remarked.
    “Now might not be the appropriate time for jokes Curt,” Robo added uneasily.
    TJ swallowed the explanations with unease. He knew of his duties, but what about Su's? She had always went along with him, and wherever it was that he was headed. He barely knew where that was, though. Had they not crossed paths with Peorth in the City of Iron, would he have been able to come this far? If not, perhaps he would still be pursuing Iris across Jienda. Her current status was a mystery; what had happened in the fight with the Demon King, and where was Iris now? If she was missing, who had sent the letter to him when it was time for him to form a contract? That aside, Su had given up her physical body to form their contract, and he was still as of yet to find a way for her to regain it. Would that prevent her from doing her duties as a God's Governor?
    As he neared the top his crystal began to glow again and Su emerged, her eyes sharp and her brows furrowed. “If you've got a problem with him, then you can take it up with me. I was the one who decided on the contract, and I was the one who made it happen. If you think it'll stop me from being a better God's Governor than you ever could be, think again.”
    Amata froze in place and turned around, her face flushed pink with anger of her own. “So you decided to show up again huh? Just because you might know a trick or two that I don't, it doesn't make you any better a God's Governor than I am. You can rely on the Abellan's strength all you like, but while you two are frolicking across Jienda, the Confidants, the Cerebians and I are busting our assess trying to keep the peace in the Havens and fix the cities that you dumbasses trashed!” She roared in response.
    “Frolicking?! Do you think we wanted to fight Choen Palm in Elfa?! That bitch ambushed us and damn near killed half of our party! That's not even mentioning who was killed during it! If I weren't with TJ then he could've been killed or dragged off with her after being beaten half-to-death! You might be keeping the peace, but our frolicking is what's gonna save the world! Don't even get me started on the rest of the shit we went through!”
    “It was only a matter of time before this happened...I had feared it, but I'm not surprised in the slightest.” Robo said before resting his MG down nearby.
    “I don't think the God's Governor of Fire and Earth will ever see eye to eye, regardless of generation.” Curt muttered as he leaned against the goliath and slid to the floor.
    “Can you two just calm down?” TJ asked gesturing for them to do just that.
    “Stay out of it!” They both hissed before continuing.
    “The Abellan's been around since before our race had to escape from Asgard and you say you're saving the world? If he couldn't even protect our home what the hell do you think you could accomplish by joining forces?! Choen Palm escaped and now that the Sinners are running rampant you decide to make an appearance?! Well good thing. Your timing's just impeccable, isn't it? Pair of screw-ups, and nothing but.” Amata sneered.
    Su clenched her fists. “Are you stupid?! You said yourself it's our job to help him awaken his powers and you expect him to be able to save an entire world before that happens? All that studying you did really didn't make you any smarter, did it? The only thing you did learn is a couple new spells and how to be a bigger bitch.”
    Amata looked like she was at the end of her rope by Su's final remark. “That so? How about I show you how much that studying paid off first-hand?!”
    Su grinned devilishly. “Try it. I dare you.”
    TJ stepped between the two and pushed them apart. “Enough you two! Fighting amongst yourselves won't solve a thing! Was what happened back then not enough? We're completely losing track of what we should be doing because we're getting too hot-headed.” He shouted. He glanced to Su who shrugged and then to Amata who looked away and huffed. “Maybe you are right Amata. Maybe this is something I should be able to do on my own, but there wasn't really a manual or anything to being the Abellan. I lost a lot of my memories. I dunno how many years its been since I found myself both on Asgard and Jienda, but I can't remember those times, let alone the spells that I supposedly know. What I do know is, that as long as I keep moving forward, searching for my memories and the clues that Iris left behind, and defeating the Sinners I'll get closer. I've found some of them along the way, both happy and sad. I've met a lot of people, and I've grown stronger because of it. Still, I don't know what the future holds for any of us, and I dunno how our contract will affect Su's duties.”
    “Then end the contract,” She muttered.
    He smiled bitterly. “It might be some time before I could consider doing that, but in spite of the fact I'll press on and count on her as I do. There's no denying that I've come this far thanks to her. Whenever things got bad she always knew just what to do...and even before then too.” The thought of her releasing his seals in Curt's Instance was a reminder of the fact. A daunting event, but one that may have saved him with his upcoming battle against Yuta. “I know that you guys probably have your hardships too. I wish I could be there to make everything right, but even I can't say for sure where my adventure will take me. I just put my trust in the Chief and she leads me to where I need to go. If anyone has an idea of the future for us, it'd be her.” He offered Amata a gentle smile. “I know you two don't really get along, but for today, at the very least will you try to for me? It's because of both your efforts that we're here now, and if you work together we'll make it through this dungeon. So, how about it? Amata?”
    She sighed and rolled her eyes. “Fine. I'd rather not get on the queen's bad side before I even met her so I'll make an exception.”
    TJ turned his head to his contractee. “How about you Su?”
    She turned an eye to him as her lips curled into a small smile. “I told you already didn't I? I'll keep you alive. “ She shrugged. “And not even she could stop me from doing that.”
    She had done that all this time. In spite of how much the two once fought he was glad that she was by his side. “I've no doubt you will. Thanks for always watching my back.”
    Her cheeks flushed slightly and she huffed. “It's my job. Stop being so over-dramatic you wuss.”
    He beamed at her words, and the expression she made. “Uh huh. Let's get moving you guys. I'll be counting on you in there.”
    As TJ walked away Amata and Su watched him walk off before the former turned to the latter. “Is he always like that?”
    Su shrugged. “Yeah, pretty much.”
    She knit her eyebrows and the expression she made gave her a rather aged look. “How do you deal with it?”
    The God's Governor cracked a grin. “After a while, you get used to it. Makes it more fun to tease him though.”
    “There really is a lot that the Cerebians don't know about their Abellan, isn't there?” Robo asked.
    “More so than we'll ever know.” Curt answered with a grin. “But I gotta hand it to him, he does have a way with words. In the strangest possible way.”
    TJ leapt to and made his way up another set of vines before coming to a grinding halt. A zombie with long brown hair, a tan cloth for an outfit and an eerie look in its eyes stared down at him from its vantage. The tilted head it remained on, amidst the groans of others nearby made his body freeze in place.
    “What's the hold up?” Su asked from the landing.
    “There's an undead up there! You can see it right?” He asked.
    “I'm not dead, I'm only half-dead,” It remarked.
    “It...it talks!”
    “Yeah and?” Amata asked gesturing for him to continue.
    “I mean, maybe this is a good thing! You know how Peorth befriends Agasuras and stuff? Maybe this is one of those ones!” Amata crossed her arms and Su laughed. “Do you wanna leave the pyramids and live in the city?”
    “No,” It answered.
    “Alright that's that. Let's go Abellan. At least the selki tribe could pass off as humans. The outfits and walrus skins might be questionable but that thing is dead already.”
    “I'm half-dead.” It squawked, and the God's Governor of Fire made a grimace that proved she was not amused.
    He pursed his lips. “But I mean we can't just-” A fireball was launched towards it and collided with it, setting the creature ablaze. It ran away screaming before crashing into another, and before long the whole group was aflame.
    Amata leapt from where she stood leaving a short ashen spot and landed where the half-dead zombie once stood. “You're too soft Abellan.” She blinked and turned her eyes away for a couple of moments. “I guess it's that very thing that kinda rubbed off on her.” She knelt down and offered him a hand. “But that kindness of yours...I don't hate that about you. If things were like they were back then the two of us would've killed each other already.” He took her hand and she pulled him up. “You really do remind me a lot of that man. If you wanna take a trip to Ramalda when we're done here I'll introduce you. Might be a few days until then, since I'll have to help manage things around Elfa.”
    To the backdrop of burning zombies and the crackling embers around them, he felt that perhaps Amata was opening up to him a little bit. He offered her a gentle smile. “That'd be pretty cool, but my duties are to my guild first. If there's another Sinner somewhere else in the world, Vanir or the Chief would know. I wanna be there to find out when and where, and be on the scene before things get dangerous.”
    As Curt climbed up after them he made kissing noises and the God's Governor's expression immediately darkened before she chased after the laughing Treasure Hunter. TJ turned to where the two were ahead and as the last of the flames went out he could see a gate through the smoke. Around it was a group of armed adventurers who looked on with a keen curiosity. He felt guilty that Amata had fried the half-dead zombie, but perhaps it was not so different from the other talking Agasura they had seen outside of the pyramid. It too, would likely come back sooner or later.

    The gate was massive, two ornate golden pillars stood side by side with an arch that connected the two; a variety of precious gems lined the arch along with writing across it in an unfamiliar language, and just as it was with the other Instance Dungeons, the same unusual blue swirling energy served as the gateway. The group had gathered before it where three adventurers stood guard, all wearing the robes that Desert travellers wore. The most mature of them spoke with Amata while the two younger adventurers looked upon the group with a keen curiosity, their glances switching from Amata to TJ, and the two whispering as they did. It was hard to say whether it was because Amata had just violently shook Curt for what he had done or the way the two had just been getting along.
    “So you've finally made it huh? But there's five of you. One of you is gonna need to sit this one out.” He said to her. He was a man likely getting on his years, his face wrinkled and weary, but his demeanour giving off a feeling that in spite of it, he still managed just fine as an adventurer. His blonde hair was cropped short.
    “It's fine. In spite of our numbers one of them is a special case. It won't stop us,” Amata answered briskly. TJ tilted his head quizzically. Had the Chief mentioned that in her letter too? That saved him a bit of trouble.
    “He scratched his cheek. If you say so, I'll take your word for it. You know what to expect in there right Amata?”
    She grinned. “Worried? I'm not the God's Governor of Fire for nothing, and I did sit in on all those meetings so I've got a pretty good idea of what to expect in there. When's the next group coming in to let you guys off?”
    “It should be within the next hour. We've had it pretty easy so far. Not too many Agasura have been around this general area since we arrived, and since we worked such an early shift few adventurers have arrived too.”
    The God's Governor crossed her arms. “I'd heard they'd all try to sneak in during the night, thinking that you guys would be dozing on the job. They're clever, but not quite clever enough.” She cracked a grin. “If they really wanted to explore that dungeon, they could force their way in.”
    The adventurer laughed dryly. “I'm sure there will be those that do just that, and I hope that I'm not there to be caught up in it. Still, if you defeat the Guardian in this dungeon it might just disappear. If it does stay though, I wonder what Eli plans to do.”
    “He'll figure something out. He might be an idiot, but he's an idiotic guild master. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. For now, leave this to us. We'll crush that Guardian.” She cracked her knuckles.
    The elder adventurer sent a weary glance TJ's way. “Watch yourselves in there. It's nothing like anything that we've faced before.”
    The God's Governor chuckled under her breath. “I don't think it's faced a God's Governor before.” She turned to her group. “That's enough of a break. Gear up kiddies. We're taking this thing down.”
    At her words they stepped inside, the adventurers wished them luck as one by one they entered the swirling energy before them.

    The Power of friendship. And fire.:
    So far things are progressing steadily, though a bit bumpy. I get the feeling that the group talks about the chance that they'd wind up fighting amongst themselves too much, so I'll look into that once I edit it. Though, it isn't all that unusual considering their circumstances, and what happens in the current pages lol. I do feel that at this juncture it may feel a bit like things have progressed a little too quickly, but let's keep in mind that we're not quite there yet lol. With this though we're moving into the final act for the chapter, which is the Indun! It's gonna get really chaotic.

    On another note, I realized I had a goliath MG but my Meister is only 80 and it requires him to be 110 so I had to look up a video. Then I realized it had boosters and cried a little bit. On the bright side though, it worked in my favour since Robo was still learning to master it, so I didn't have to go back and make edits! Though I did have to do it with a certain part cause I made area 3 area 2 and there are certain enemies in each. It was frustrating.

    This part did make me wonder a bit though. Would the Agasura within the pyramid be considered zombies or mummies still? Cause I mean, they're mummies, but they DID come back to life...technically. So they're undead. That is, leaving aside the actual zombies. The half-dead zombie is here too! In S2 there's a lot more of them lol. The part with it might seem a tad unnecessary but imo sometimes those little things both in-game and in the novel just feel right to me. Perhaps because of the former its so for the latter, but when you come across those things and the dialogue that accompanies it its hard not to be charmed at times lol.

    Now about Robo! It's kinda self-explanatory. They don't just share a name, he is a clone. Why? Well Curt has a lot of reasons for doing a lot of things but I can't tell why that is lol. It'll definitely come back later though, as will everything else! I should probably refresh myself so I tie up all the loose ends, but there will be little references here and there to certain events and characters. I'm debating on if that's how old I want him to be, but after consulting the timeline I felt that it may have been just right. I might post that here one of these days, but it too is spoilerrific.

    So as you'd expect Su and Amata fight. I'd made notes to make space to talk about what Amata had done after the City of Iron event, and perhaps what the status of the Havens were like, but as things went along it kinda took a backseat. As I wrote it I just felt more drawn to the characters and their motivations. It just felt...fitting. Especially Amata's. She's very driven by her duty, and follows that to a T, keeping her eyes on that very thing. She wants to keep the peace and also stop the Agasura, because she believes that it's something that the God's Governors need to do. It may or may not be obvious by now, hard to say for sure, but there are a myriad of things that Peorth knows that the God's Governors don't. Hence why Amata's actions seem to be rather sporadic at times, and why she has a low opinion of TJ and by extension Su, save for what the two know about each other.
    On the other hand Su doesn't have much of an idea of the duties of a God's Governor, but is very driven to see the Abellan through his trials and to save the world with his hand. I guess there isn't much to say in her case since she's one of the main heroines in the novel lol. Or is. So you've already got a pretty good idea of how she does things and why.
    As for TJ, despite being the main character even I think he still has a lot of room to grow. Steadily, of course. He might come off as a little bit annoying right now, but I don't want his character to grow too quickly. His journey will be the longest of them all, but as the others develop he will too, and eventually reach a point where he'll really feel like he fits the title of 'hero' be it as the Abellan or just as the main character in the novel. This chapter is a start, as he's finally becoming a bit more heroic both in the eyes of the others around him and in mine lol. It's a bit of a work in progress, but it's something I'd like to work towards so his character will really progress. Even so, the one thing I need to make sure of is that I keep it to such a degree that the others don't feel any weaker because of it. In frequency he didn't stand out much, because it wasn't quite his time. Though I still have mixed feelings about it...I can't quite explain it. Guess I'm just not used to the idea yet...then again, perhaps he just needed a goal to work towards. I should've thought of that sooner, because there always was one lol. I'll build on that a little bit, and possibly use that as the foundations for his character's growth.

    So for next week? A new challenge arises for me. I'm gonna have to create my first dungeon completely from scratch. The enemies within, the room layout, and all those other little things. It might be a tad rough around the edges since this is a first, but it'll definitely be a big step in the right direction. I think as I move on with the others I'll steadily improve, and new ideas will come with them while new arcs are ushered in. It's gonna be hard as hell lol. But definitely a milestone for me. I might try to work with a different dynamic here between them, because all of their discussions thus far have been out of combat, more or less. Considering who they are, unlike with Samson's party in USSR, they'll be a lot more disorganized. I'm gonna work with some of the old spells, the Frequencies and of course some new ones as I do this. Hopefully I'll have some good ideas.
    That, and I'll try to give the Indun itself a fresh feeling with its own unique challenges added to the mix amidst the Agasura within. Perhaps making notes first would be a good idea but...I dunno yet. I'll see how I feel later. Might just decide to wing it and let the ideas come to me naturally. Reckless? Absolutely. But I might do it anyway!

    Idk what my future holds but we'll see what happens when I get to it, so see ya next time.
    avatar
    TJ

    Posts : 873
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 24
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sat Mar 14, 2015 4:50 pm

    Page 99-110:
    When they had finished travelling they found themselves face to face with a wall with a massive stone tablet within. The walls were a light brown stone, the blocks that made it up were clear as day, as if this too was a pyramid in itself. The characters on the tablet were unfamiliar to them, not in their common language or even those that were written in Memorius Sanctum.
    “I'd heard about this thing, but they weren't kidding. What language is this written in?” Amata asked squinting.
    “You haven't been in here yet? That's a shocker,” Curt muttered to which the God's Governor glared in turn.
    “I would've went in if I could but Eli and Reina were insistent that they send in scouts before sending in the 'main force'. Load of bullshit...” She huffed. “Though they did scout the place out, but they only got a brief glance at the Sinner. Enough to know that she looks like the Abellan and uses psychokinesis.” She rolled her eyes. “Who does she think she is? Pandora?” TJ shuddered at her words.
    Su and Robo were looking at the words written on the tablet but neither of the two seemed to be able to understand it either. The latter spoke first, “If I was to take a guess, perhaps this is written in Agasuric? It's not illogical that they would have their own language, considering that there are humanoid Agasura among them. On the other hand, the Tyrant of the Maelstrom seems to speak in a more...beastly way. Can you not understand any of this Su?”
    She furrowed her brows. “Like hell I could! Speaking to TJ in whatever language he does is one thing, but it's not like I know how to read this stuff, let alone understand those other morons.”
    TJ walked up and looked over the words with a keen curiosity. He had never seen anything like it before, not that he could recall such an event, but they gave him a strange sense of familiarity, and as he began to look closer they became slightly clearer. He focused even harder and the characters began to form the words that made up the writing on the tablet. “I think it says...'Defeat my minions, claim their treasure and bring it to me. Prove that you are worth much more than the gold that the riffraff within contain and you shall have an audience with me. Should you fall by my hands, your corpse will become a fitting treasure for my chamber. Should you ever lose your way, know that when I lay my eyes upon gold the path to me shall be opened.” The group looked at him incredulously and he began to sweat.
    “Since when?” Su asked.
    “Just what are you exactly?” Amata asked.
    “I'm rather impressed, to be honest,” Robo added.
    “I'm not surprised at all,” Curt said with a shrug.
    “M-maybe this was one of those things Peorth had mentioned? Or something...” The Abellan laughed nervously. “Anyway! Let's get moving, shall we?” He took the lead and made his way around the wall to the other side and came across a wide open room.
    A series of pillars stood proud and near the walls and held up a long strip of stone that acted as a second floor-railings lined the way towards a pair of stairwells that surrounded a massive statue that towered over a pair of double doors. It was only the upper-half of the body that protruded from the wall but just from that alone TJ could tell that the two had shared a lot of similarities. The shape of her face and the eyes-unlike him, she had shoulder-length hair and wore what looked to be a myriad of different kinds of jewellery he had never seen before, along with a dress that was likely unique to Elfa. The statue held a jar above its head, and upon its hands were rings.
    “That must be her, huh?” He asked gazing upon the statue.
    Amata sighed, “We still don't have definitive proof that you're not her in disguise. If Choen Palm could leave Kimara Research Laboratory so freely to attack Elfa we can't assume that the Sinners can't do the same. I'm keeping my eye on you.” He knit his eyebrows at her comment.
    “How many Sinners do you think will have a God's Governor jumping out of their chest?” Su asked with annoyance dancing on the edge of her words.
    Amata crossed her arms defensively. “Regardless of whether you're the real deal or not who could say whether or not you'd turn on us? You already tried to kill Yuta.”
    “Because he damn near killed us both first! He shot up the sub with TJ in it and nearly drowned him!” Su hissed before getting into Amata's face again.
    “If you'd stopped the Abellan from burning down Hanamah we wouldn't be in this situation in the first place!” Amata roared before literally butting heads with her shorter counterpart.
    “Says the girl who turned tail and ra-”
    Before Su could finish her statement she was lifted by the neckline of her t-shirt as Amata too was pulled from the ground by Robo's MG. The two growled at each other in spite of the fact that they both hung within the robot's grip and the Meister shrugged and sighed. “Will you two ever give it a rest? We're already here now. If you can't calm down and meet each other halfway, you'll sooner find yourselves sliced to pieces by Agasura. Now, both of you apologize to each other.” Su furrowed her brows and Amata rolled her eyes at his suggestion-both shifted their eyes to each other and glared daggers.
    “Sorry,” Su said bitterly.
    “Likewise,” Amata muttered.
    Robo let them go and the latter of the two dusted off her coat while the other turned away.
    “Handled like the owner of a cat and a dog.” Curt chuckled with a grin.
    “Is this not something you should be doing?” Robo asked sternly as he crossed his arms. He received a shrug and a grin in turn.
    “So you heard about this place from the scouts right Amata? Which way do we go?” TJ asked glancing between the doors on opposite sides of the room.
    “Which way? Whaddya mean which way? There's only...one...” The God's Governor had pointed towards the upper floor but there was nothing there, save for a wall. “Huh?”
    “Somebody's hallucinating.” Su sang with an impish grin.
    “I'm not hallucinating, the intel they'd given me is off! There was supposed to be a door up there! It would lead into two rooms that would end in a dead end. Then they came back here and met with the Guardian in the room over there.” She pointed to the door with the statue above it. A fitting place for a boss fight, undoubtedly.
    Curt and Robo looked at each other with questioning gazes, and the former of the two asked, “When is this intel from?”
    Amata twirled a couple of strands of hair around her finger as she shifted her gaze away. “Maybe two or so weeks ago, I guess.”
    The Treasure Hunter crossed his arms. “You know what that means, right?” She turned back to him as she stopped the action and raised an eyebrow.
    “The dungeon...” Robo began, “It's evolving and changing.”
    “Are you kidding me?” She asked with a doubtful glare.
    “Unless that intel of yours is off as you said, there's no doubt about it. Not only have the rooms moved around, but there's more of them than there was before. Look over there.” He pointed to the room adjacent to the other at the other side of the lobby. Just as he had said, a second door was indeed there. The God's Governor silently bit her lip.
    “So we're going in blind huh? Maybe this is one of the asshole king's effects.” Su grinned devilishly. “No complaints here though! It'll be way more interesting this way.”
    “Does Asmodeus' Dominion extend to the dungeons too? Not only do the Agasura act in unpredictable manners, but the places they are in might change too. I wonder if the same happens for the usual dungeons?” TJ asked as he rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
    “It's possible, but I wouldn't hold my breath for that. The Instances were created by the Cerebians to seal away the Guardians in the first place, and the Agasuras within them too. Having the Guardians and Agasura running rampant across Jienda wasn't gonna fly. Hence, they created and named these places, and those that were sealed within were what shaped the Instance. Some even had an effect on the world around them too.” Curt explained.
    “You're surprisingly...knowledgeable about our past. Who are you? And what?” Amata asked with a appraising gaze.
    “Some hermit who used to live on Toad Mountain. I've been some places and seen some things. More importantly, does this place have a name? I wanna keep a record of the places I've been and when.”
    She pursed her lips. “So you're that idiot huh?” Disregarding the fact she continued, “Those guildmasters decided on naming it the Pharaoh's Chambers. It won't be for long, once we eliminate that Sinner.” Her expression darkened. “I hope. If she's anything like the other Guardians, she'll only come back with a vengeance after we kill her.”
    TJ placed a hand to his crystal. “I think these ones might be different. I can't say for sure whether or not that'll hold true after we defeat her, but we'll have to wait until then to find out for sure.” He said with a smile of budding confidence.
    “Think so?” Her expression looked bored but she still sounded a bit hopeful. “I guess I'll take your word for it then. I dunno what's up ahead but we're just gonna have to spitball.” She pointed to the door on the west side of the room. “Let's start here and see where it takes us.” With her leading the way the group went on.
    They walked up to a door with a series of hieroglyphs upon it, and in spite of his nature not even TJ could understand what they said, nor how to open the door before them since it lacked both a handle or a doorknob. It did not even open automatically when they approached like those in Elias. The God's Governor of Fire reached out to it and the door lifted, opening the path ahead. Whether she was familiar with it or not it was hard to say for sure, but the action seemed so fluid he could not bring himself to doubt it. With a wave of her hand she lead the group into a narrow hallway where another door waited for them at the end. Here also, hieroglyphs lined the walls and as they walked the Abellan looked over them with a keen curiosity.

    Upon opening it the group found themselves in another wide room with a group of eight or so pillars lined up adjacently throughout the room. A series of bones, armour and weapons were littered across the floor, and at one side of the room was a wall that was a lighter colour and contained what seemed to be a hexagonal carving within. It was a shot in the dark, but it was possible that something once was there and had been since removed. Leaving that aside, at the far end of the room was another door, and where it lead to may have been what Amata had mentioned previously.
    “They're already defeated? Well that's awfully convenient,” TJ began. “About that wall though...it looks like something should fit in there.”
    Su pointed ahead to a pile of bones at the far end of the room. “What about that thing? Seems like it'd fit right in there.” Hanging from the armour was a rope with what seemed to be a stone talisman wrapped in it, the same size and shape as the engraving in the wall.
    Curt rubbed his hands together. “I bet there's treasure on the other side of that wall,” He said mischievously.
    “If I was to take a guess, perhaps it would be required for us to open the way to the Guardian. Better not to get your hopes too high Curt, because they'll likely be crushed in time,” Robo suggested.
    “Party pooper.”
    “Enough talk. The sooner we get through this, the better,” Amata said. She took a couple of steps forward and the skulls of the skeletons started shaking. “Wha-” Crimson pupils appeared in the eye sockets and they began to jump rapidly, the rest of their bones moving as if in response to their sudden revival. A dark musty wind began to blow and carried the bones and armour that were littered across the floor, allowing the skeletons to come together again and take their proper forms, each bearing their weapons and hissing at the adventurers. Amata grit her teeth and drew her staff before slamming it against the ground. A flaming aura began to surround her and she took a stance as if ready to charge ahead.
    TJ looked uneasily from her to the skeleton soldiers roaring and beginning their approach, their adversaries wielding swords and shields, maces, and two massive skeletons in the back bearing broadswords-one of the two wore the armour that had the talisman hanging from it's hip. He shook off his unease and furrowed his brow, steeling himself for the onslaught. “What do you plan to do Amata?” He asked.
    “What does it look like? I'm gonna take the bastards by storm,” She answered.
    He knit his brows. The only person who could likely jump in there and come out in one piece would likely be Robo. The others were too lightly armoured to manage such a feat-perhaps he could as the Tyrant of the Maelstrom? Not that he would want to become that anytime soon. He stepped away slightly as the heat of her barrier became too intense for him.
    “You don't think I'm just gonna stand by and let you hog all the glory do you? I'm a God's Governor too, you know.” Su said before taking the vanguard and bringing her barrier into visibility, a frosty aura surrounding her in turn.
    “You talk a big game, but the others haven't proven anything about you yet. Those small fry won't be anything compared to the Guardian here.” With a flick of her hair she set her sights on the two skeletons warriors at the back. “Think you can keep up with me? Show me how hard you can hit, Prodigal Legend.”
    “Ugh will you drop it with that embarrassing title? I dunno where you heard it but you can leave it with whatever loser gave it to me.” She grinned devilishly. “Still, I guess I can tone it down a tad so I don't overwhelm you. Ready?” She shifted her eyes in Amata's direction.
    “Set...” The God's Governor of Fire continued.
    “Let's go!” The two shouted in unison and charged ahead.
    As they rushed through the crowd the Agasura were mowed down in their wake, each taking one side of the room and turning to face each other as they placed themselves between the two massive warriors. Upon coming face to face the two reeled their fists back and collided, the auras they created combined and created a vortex around the two, pulling the surrounding skeletons in and splitting them apart with a shockwave of wind. An icy trail and a line of fire was left in their wake, and following it Su's cackling as she leapt at the nearest skeleton with her dagger flashing in the light followed afterwards.
    “Let's get moving Robo!” Curt shouted drawing his knives from his coat to which his companion offered an acknowledging nod. “Cut a swath through them!”
    “Alright!” Robo shouted immediately pressing a series of buttons on his MG. It charged forward and began to emit an electric aura that eventually surrounded the entire robot as he shouted, “Raikiri!” The MG bowled through the skeletons and as it came to a halt, extended its arms and knocked over some of the others.
    TJ and Curt followed in his wake, Curt throwing a series of knives and bombs, taking off heads and blowing away others while TJ fought a couple off with his guitar and fired icicles with the hailstone spell.
    “Watch my back please!” He shouted to his companions and readied his guitar. With a deep breath he focused on his weapon and solemnly began to play, the sound of his guitar drowned out by the cries of combat and the sound of metal on metal or bone-Curt and Robo surrounded their companions flanks as he strummed his instrument and both of their weapons gained a bright glow. “I can do the augmentation for everyone with my guitar. With a bit more practice I think I might recall some of the other songs.”
    “That's great and all but we've got other problems right now!” Curt shouted as he pushed back one skeleton's mace with his shield and held another's sword at bay with his dagger.
    “I have my hands tied also,.” Robo muttered as his MG beat back the adversaries ahead of him, but others struck at his flanks. “Many of my mechanical allies will put everyone in danger if I try to use them here, and especially now. Do you have a spell that can get us out of his pinch?”
    TJ looked to his left and caught a glimpse of a scimitar coming down on him that was blocked by one of Robo's arms, and he immediately retaliated by bashing the skeleton's head off with his guitar. As the headless body stumbled away he saw that a fair distance between him and the others, and checked his other flank in case he was going to be ambushed again-thankfully Curt had him covered there too, but just barely. “Not without a little help.” He answered uneasily before sending a glance to Su. The young girl swung from the arms to the pelvis of the skeleton before emerging from the inside of the loosely hung armour with a Rising Dragon spell. She hit it in the jaw but the head did not come off, and upon landing she stomped the ground causing the earth to rise upon impact, forcing those who approached to fly through the air. “Let's do it Su!” He roared across the room.
    “It's about damn time!” She shouted back to him as she dashed away from the blade that nearly fell upon her.
    With another breath he put his guitar away and pounded his fists together. “Frequency!” His irises flickered to jade green and he drew his guitar once more. “Watch my back for just a little longer!” He began to strum his guitar and a growing sphere of water began to take shape above his head.
    “Make it good,” Curt chuckled dryly.

    With a flick of her wrist a series of crimson spheres arose from all around her and as she danced around the blade of the warrior skeleton before her she would detonate them upon her approaching enemies. She stepped back and slammed her staff against the ground, causing fire to rain down upon it and stagger it. She twisted her body and a flame danced in the palm of her hand. Face to face with a skeleton and its oncoming mace she roared, “Try it, I dare you!” She pulled her hand back and her entire body skidded back releasing the flame and blowing the skeleton to pieces.
    “Incoming!” Su shouted nearby.
    Glancing past the skeleton that hissed at her she saw a massive rock skidding towards the two and her mind froze while her eyes grew wide. Thinking quickly she released her wings and took off before the boulder collided with the skeleton and by extension her, and dragged it into one of the pillars. It smashed through and in its wake a series of icicles followed to ensure whatever was hit did not return.
    Amata grit her teeth and sent a furious glare in Su's direction as she snarled, “Prodigal Legend...!”
    “Ha! The look on your face was priceless!” Su laughed out loud as dodged the skeleton warrior's sword and climbed its arm towards its shoulder.
    “You think that's funny?! I'll show you funny!” She held a hand skyward and a sphere of fire appeared before it. She closed her fist on it and tossed it down towards the skeleton the God's Governor of Earth now stood on and it hit the ground, remaining there for but a moment before crackling to life into a massive explosion. “Scorn!” She hissed as Su leapt from the skeletons head toward the roof and took on a stone form that blended into the wall seamlessly. Amata heaved before she realized how much energy she had exerted and fell to the ground, using her staff to remain standing.
    Su's head turned from stone back to normal and she grinned devilishly as she eyed the destruction Amata left in her wake, the path now cleared. “Now that's more like it!”
    “You-you child!” She roared in return as the girl came down from the roof and claimed the talisman. Su looked at her and smiled before raising a hand. An icicle appeared above it and she hurled it towards the God's Governor of Fire. Amata grit her teeth-it was only a matter of time before such an event would occur, and she was at a loss because she had used such a powerful spell. She closed her eyes and prepared to accept what was to come, but in the moments that followed nothing had happened; rather, she had heard the icicle colliding with something behind her, and she turned to catch a glimpse of the damaged but not defeated skeleton warrior from before. The left side of its body had mostly been destroyed, but it still dragged the sword forward with the right and came back despite Su's previous attack. The icicle remained lodged in its left eye socket.
    “There's more coming for ya! Might wanna do somethin' about that!” Su shouted to her.
    Just as Su had warned her, the skeletons had moved in from all sides and decided to attack her in unison. The God's Governor of Fire clicked her tongue before slamming her staff down once more. A magic circle surrounded her and in the following moments three pillars of fire shot up from the ground and swirled around her. The skeletons that got close enough were singed by the flames and their weapons melted, while the fire that had gathered above her collided with the roof and came back down upon her. She raised her staff and it gathered to it, coating the weapon in a crimson blaze. She turned it toward the approaching warrior skeleton and began to spin it, unleashing a torrent upon it as she shouted, “Eye of the Storm!” After being reduced to ash the remains of it collapsed to the ground harmlessly and Amata collapsed to her knees before sighing. “That girl is so troublesome!”

    The sphere above TJ had grown massive and he began to slow his strumming. “Alright guys, bring it in!” He shouted to his companions. Robo and Curt both leapt back and the Abellan was sandwiched between them-he let out a quiet groan of dismay but set aside his concerns to handle the matter before them. With one final strum of his guitar the water surged forth in all directions and swept away the skeletons before he raised his hand once more and shouted, “Sub-zero!” With another strum the waves he created immediately froze and stopped his enemies in their tracks. “Smash them! All of them!” He roared before using his water elemental mastery on his guitar.
    “I've got nothin'.” Curt said with a shrug. He had used everything he had to protect TJ while he casted.
    “I'll go first.” Robo said before taking to the air with his MG and slamming it down on a pair of skeletons.
    TJ rubbed his chin thoughtfully for a moment before an idea came to him. He put his guitar away and created another ball of water, shaping it into a mallet. “Caster's Workshop!” He froze it and it fell to the ground with a thud. “Not bad huh?”
    Curt chuckled dryly as he walked over and struggled to heave the icy weapon over his shoulder. “Yeah, not bad at all.” He grunted.
    TJ leapt onto the ice and skidded across while batting off heads with his guitar-Robo skated nearby and quickly shifted into another Raikiri while Curt leapt from place to place and slammed the mallet with slow and powerful swings. He caught a glimpse of Su spinning across the ice with the warrior's sword in hand while laughing, leaving decapitation in her wake.
    “I'm impressed Abellan.” Amata said as she kicked one of the soldier's helmets off and bashed the skull in with her staff. “You're pretty adept with the Arcane Arts. I'd thought you knew little outside of the Divine and Contemptuous Arts.” She crossed her arms and gave him an appraising look. “When this is over, you'd better explain how that works to me in greater detail.”
    “Y-yeah. Sure.” He answered.
    Once all the skeletons were cleared out Amata melted the ice beneath them and the group found themselves in ankle-high water. Amata gave TJ an exasperated glare while he chuckled bashfully.
    “I got that stupid stone thing on the skeleton.” Su said before offering him the talisman.
    “Thanks.” He said accepting it. “Well guys, let's find out what's on the other side of that wall.”
    “One thousand ely says it's treasure. Who wants to place a bet?” Curt asked.
    “We are technically hunting for treasure so...I'll pass on that offer,” Robo muttered.
    “Good try, loser.” Su said with a snort.
    The Abellan placed the talisman within the wall's engraving and the entire thing began to shudder, causing him to step back uneasily. The wall proceeded to descend before them, and within just as Curt had suspected, a treasure box awaited them.
    “Get to opening it already! I'm gettin' kinda antsy.” Su said with a grin before she crossed her arms.
    TJ stifled a laugh before he approached it and placed his hands to it. Looking upon it, even he began to feel a bit of excitement at the prospect. Was dungeon spelunking typically like this? With a bit of effort he managed to lift open the top of the chest and within he found a dusty white sack. He leaned over and grabbed it with both hands, before attempting to pull it up.
    “Watch it!” Su shouted from behind him.
    “Huh? What is i-” Before he finished his sentence his gem began to glow and Su emerged from behind him in her kunoichi garb.
    With her dagger in one hand and a kunai in the other she bumped into him from behind and he stumbled forward into the treasure chest as she deflected a series of six arrows that would have impaled both his flanks in the following moments. She looked in both directions before letting out a sigh of relief and putting her weapons away, the God's Governor of Fire looked on in pure disbelief.
    “How the hell did you...what?” She asked with a shrug and a look of confusion.
    Robo approached and hauled TJ out from the treasure box before placing him upright next to it. He moved his MG to claim the sack and placed it behind his seat. “Are you alright?” He asked calmly. “It's a miracle that you weren't plugged full of arrows there. Perhaps next time we shouldn't have the Abellan open the likely trapped box, everyone.”
    “A miracle named Suuba!” Su said with a confident glint in her eye.
    TJ let out a sigh of relief after stealing a glance at the deflected arrows. “Thanks for saving my hide again Su,” He said. He stole a glance around him and saw a group of statues that lined the area behind the wall. The open mouths are likely where the arrows had come from. “I don't have enough memories of entering Instance Dungeons to really expect this kind of thing. Just Kimara.”
    “You'd best be on your guard then. We should send someone more expendable to do those things...like him.” Amata suggested before pointing to Curt.
    “Expendable? That's just plain unreasonable. I'm a valuable member of this team, thank you very much!” Curt insisted before puffing out his chest.
    “Perhaps I could handle those matters in your stead.” Robo suggested as he began to press some buttons on his MG. A series of pixelated numbers appeared above and around him and quickly descended down leaving a strange silo like machine in their wake that surrounded his MG. Sparks shot out from it as the sounds of flames and drills emerged also, and the machine disappeared the same way it came, leaving his MG in perfect condition. “If such an attack is to be aimed at us again, I'm sure even if it was to hit me I'd be fine. I can always repair my MG afterwards anyway.”
    Amata placed a hand to her face and sighed. “What is it with your group? I expected the Abellan to be strange, but there's something off about the whole lot of you. I can't believe our Queen is in your hands...” She shook her head. “If I ever get an audience with her I'll make sure that she finds a better guard.”
    TJ laughed gently as he pushed his glasses. “We're not as bad as you think. We're just a little bit out of the ordinary.”
    “That doesn't even begin to describe any of you. Especially you!” She pointed at Curt. “I don't know what it is, but there's definitely something that isn't right about you, and believe you me, I will find out.”
    Curt raised his hands in surrender. “No need for hostilities there Guv'nor! Let's all just get along yeah?” He asked offering a devilish grin. She wrinkled her nose at him.
    Suddenly all of the skeletons burst into purple smoke and vanished, leaving a series of gold coins behind in their wake.
    “Huh. Looks like it was just as they said. Let's round 'em up and move on to the next room.” Su said with a fist pump.
    “We should probably do something about all this water first,” Robo suggested.
    TJ turned to Amata with a guilty grin and she pursed her lips before blowing aside her bangs with a huff.

    After rounding up all the coins in the first room Amata lead the team through a tunnel to the second. The moment the door had opened, the sound of a series of fans grabbed their attention and the group turned their gazes skyward. There was a group of six pillars throughout the room, and one extra that lead to the next room. Atop each was a landing wide enough for all of them to stand on it, but no way to reach it.
    “This is rather odd.” Robo said before he crossed his arms.
    “It's an easy solution. Bring out your wings and fly up there,” Amata hissed.
    “We'd sooner wind up like birds flying too close to a plane. I'll pass on that, but if you wanna become chunks of meat and feathers, you go first. I insist!” Su sneered while Curt chuckled under his breath. The God's Governor of Fire did not share in their amusement.
    TJ scratched his cheek uneasily. Could he reach up there by double-jumping? The idea of Amata finding out that he could not fly despite being the Abellan was a tad beyond him, so he refrained from speaking on the matter. Even more so, he was reluctant to try and become the Messenger of Light still. “Though those fans seem pretty powerful. Su might be on to something there. From here it's hard to tell whether they push or pull, but going by the way they sound I think we'll be carried by the winds regardless.”
    Amata huffed. “So what do you suggest we do than Abellan?”
    “Send Robo in,” Curt answered in his place.
    She looked surprised for a moment, but placed a hand to her lips and shifted her gaze away quietly. “That...makes sense. Go, Meister.”
    He blinked. “I may be a Meister and this may be my MG, but even machinery has its limitations. I can't make it jump that height-though I'm willing to go up there.”
    “I can help you there. If you need another landing just say the word and I'll send something up. Just be sure to tell me where okay?” TJ asked.
    The Meister gave him a nod. “I'm ready when you are TJ.” He stepped a safe distance back from the platform and gave him a thumbs-up.
    “Tell us what you see up there Robo,” Curt suggested.
    “Will do.” Without further ado the Abellan raised the earth below him and his Meister was boosted up to the nearest landing. He glanced around his surroundings and from his vantage point, save for the fans in the walls and the door at the far end of the room each landing had a bandersnatch on it. “There are...bandersnatches. And nothing but.” The creature a four-legged beast with deep orange fur and brown splotches across the back-its mouth and legs blood red and a series of sharp teeth designed to rip their prey apart along with a long forked tongue. It also had a long thin tail, and a relatively flat head with a lack of eyes.
    “Is that all? If you can't handle them just throw them down here. We'll ravage 'em like a pack of hungry hyenas!” Su laughed as she twirled her dagger.
    “Maybe you will but I'll pass on that.” Amata muttered.
    “I'll look for an opportunity to do just that, so watch where you are.” As Robo stepped away from the platform the bandersnatch turned in his direction and immediately charged toward him. It leapt at him, fangs bared and he raised an arm. The moment it bit down on his robot's arm he slammed a fist down on its head before grabbing the it's fur and spinning his MG around to hurl it from the landing. “Here comes the first!” He shouted to his companions. He let go of it and it was flung across the room, hitting the ground with a thud and kicking up dust in its wake as it rolled across the ground.
    “That one's mine!” Su shouted as she stormed after it.
    Robo shifted his gaze to another platform north-ease of where he stood then. At a glance, he could tell that so long as he went around he would be able to arrive back and take the way he came up back to the ground floor. He took a couple steps back and had his MG jump to the next platform before inputting the command for Raikiri. Like a descending ball of electricity he came crashing down on the platform and slammed into the bandersnatch that patrolled it, immediately knocking it off of the vantage point and to the group below.
    Only moments after a torrent of flames shot up and the God's Governor of Fire shouted, “Bring the next one Meister!”
    They certainly worked fast, but at least he had no need for concern on their behalf. He looked at his MG's control panel and noted that his mechanical allies were unavailable here. There was bound to be locations where they could not enter, and this seemed to be one of them, troublesome as it was. Neither Ash Cannon nor Mystletainn could be summoned in here, but he still had Ion Cannon and Gae Borg at his command. He would need to keep a close eye on where and when their availabilities would change. He rushed forward and jumped to the next nearest platform, landing hard and feeling a sudden unease at the creaking sound his MG had made. Had he pushed it too hard? The bandersnatch began to creep towards him and he decided to make the first move, charging ahead and stopping just a small distance short of a collision with the creature. His MG slammed its hands down and a beam of energy erupted from where it landed, causing the bandersnatch to reel back in pain. He brought the robot back to its feet and charged at it, ramming it off of the platform with the MG's shoulder and sliding to a halt before having to use his boosters to push him back on, narrowly avoiding falling off with the Agasura. In the few moments he was there he saw TJ and Curt rushing over to finish the battle. With a sigh of relief he looked to the following two platforms and saw the Agasura that awaited him.
    He input the command for Gae Bolg and a small hatch opened at the back of his goliath releasing a series of tiny mecha that sought out the nearest Agasura and surrounded it. They all fired at once and a series of tiny beams emerged from each, frying the creature and immediately dispersing of it. Only one was left. As he leapt to the following platform he considered exactly how he would disperse of it. Using Ion Cannon there would be rather reckless, as the pure strength of the satellites would bring down the entire landing, and him along with it. That was not something he was willing to risk. On the other hand, he could not use Raikiri again for a period because it would cause his MG to overheat and possibly shut down. His best bet would be leaving it to the others and regrouping with them afterwards. He prepared to jump and as his MG took off he saw the bandersnatch move towards him and await where he was to land. The two collided, the goliath fumbled the landing and Robo was flung from within. He tumbled over the downed bandersnatch and across the landing towards the edge and he barely managed to grab hold with one hand before falling.
    “Robo!” Curt shouted to him before running to where he hung.
    “I'm fine, I just miscalculated the landing is all.” He shouted before struggling to place another hand on the landing. During his fall he saw that the MG had fallen atop the Bandersnatch, and the weight of it would prevent it from moving, but he could only hold on for so long. He swallowed hard and managed to get his right hand onto the platform, and struggled to pull himself up. As his endeavour began to seem some progress he was hit with a gust of wind that forced him back and threw him from the landing and down towards the earth.
    “Hang on Robo!” Curt shouted rushing to meet his companion.
    TJ quickly approached nearby and looked back as he shouted, “We have to do something Su! We're not gonna make it!”
    “Use the Frequency stupid!” Su roared as she immediately pursued them, covering a greater distance in a shorter time.
    “Which one?!”
    “Chaos!”
    He came to a skidding halt and pounded his fists together. “Frequency!” His eyes flickered to crimson red and briefly after Su emerged from within the gem before landing on the ground and sinking into it.
    “Shadow Dive!” She shouted before she vanished and re-emerged from Curt's shadow. She leapt onto his shoulders and from there to the nearest pillar, then leapt from there to catch the falling Robo.
    “I appreciate it but we're going to crash into that wall!” He cried out.
    “I know, I know!” She hissed before turning his body away from the wall. When she touched it she vanished into it and moments before Robo hit it, she emerged once more from his shadow and descended down to where his MG had crashed. Upon touching the ground she slipped into the shadows once more and reappeared soon after on the other side of his MG which fell to the ground.
    “What happened to the Bandersnatch?” Robo asked incredulously.
    Su dusted her hands off and walked towards the platform to scout out the location of her companions and her next dive. “Dragged it into the shadows. It's not coming back, if you were wondering.”
    Her awkwardly climbed into his MG and got it to stand upright once more. “I...I see. Regardless, you saved me there so I have to thank you.”
    She grinned slightly. “It's whatever.”
    Following that she performed the spell once more and vanished before the Meister. As he moved back to where he began he heard Amata scream and curse the Prodigal Legend. Without even seeing it he could imagine what she had done. “Alright TJ, I'm ready to come down now. Remember, do it slowly.” From below the Abellan offered him a thumbs-up and proceeded to bring the landing down. Surprisingly, he had done it rather well, and the Meister found himself stepping down without worry. “Much appreciated.”
    The Abellan turned towards his companion who was fleeing from an enraged God's Governor of Fire and laughing while she did so. Amata hurled fireballs after her before Su dived into the shadows again and appeared behind Robo who nearly jumped out of his MG in surprise.
    “Fight me, Prodigal Legend!” She roared.
    Su snickered as she remained hidden behind the MG.
    “When did you learn how to do that Su? You'll have to teach me that sometime.” TJ said as he rubbed the back of his neck bashfully.
    She shrugged in response. “Must've picked that one up sometime after our fight at the City of Iron. You haven't used the Chaos Frequency since then so I dunno. Maybe you remembered it at one of those Iris Stones in Foe Mansion,” She answered.
    “So I knew that one before too? It'd be nice if I had a list.” He chuckled dryly.
    “Let it go Amata. We have to keep moving-you think so too right?” Curt asked as he crossed his arms and smiled.
    The God's Governor of Fire let out an angry huff, her expression implying that she would breathe flames at any moment suddenly subsided and she brushed her bangs aside. “You raise a good point.” She sighed and gathered some of the remaining coins that had been dropped down to where they were. “Honestly, having me doing such a lowly task. When I get a hold of that Sinner I'll make sure she suffers a hundred times over for this.”
    “Don't stress about it too much Amata. We're all doing it, regardless of who we are.” TJ said as he joined in. There was not too many left, thankfully.
    She looked at him with a strange gaze. “Though for you it seems rather...how do I put it? Fitting? Despite being the Abellan.”
    He laughed dryly at her words. They were rather true, and because of that very reason it only stung more. He would set aside his pride to build camaraderie between his allies. “A guy does what a guy's gotta do.”

    The group gathered around the landing to the exit and TJ looked up uneasily. “I've never really...moved land with this many people on it. I don't think I have enough practice with earth magic to do this without...you know, probably killing everyone,” He uneasily explained.
    “That so? Let's do it together then. That way if you screw up I can save your bacon.” Su said offering him a confident smile.
    He smiled back. “I'm in your care again.”
    She looked up to where they aimed to reach. “You ready? Let's do it.” Both raised their hands and the ground beneath moved up with all of them.
    Upon reaching their destination they lowered them and the Bard sighed with relief. “Job well done. Thanks.”
    “You two aren't in a relationship are you?” Amata asked with a curious gaze. “I mean, considering that you are technically boun-”
    Su waved her dagger at the God's Governor. “Don't even finish that sentence! The answer is no got it?”
    Amata shrugged nonchalantly. “Whatever you say Prodigal Legend.”
    “Will you drop it with that title already? Use my name! It's not like you don't know it!”
    She grinned as she opened the door, likely a sign that she had a leg-up on her rival. “Don't hold your breath for that. You earned that one so it's gonna stick no matter how old you get.”
    As they ascended the following tunnel Su sighed with hints of anger. “I swear whoever gave me that stupid name is gonna be found and silenced.”
    Amata grinned. “Is that how you solve all of your problems?”
    “Is there any better way? Not that I wanna hear that from you of all people.”
    She glared at her rival who walked between Curt and TJ. “I only resort to violence when the situation calls for it!”
    “You'd have set the whole team aflame just because I got the jump on you. Twice.” Su said with a snicker.
    Amata began to fume and TJ gently patted her shoulder. “Come on you two, if you fight in here someone might actually get hurt.”
    Amata crossed her arms and huffed before turning away, but it was definitely an improvement from before.
    “Let's brace ourselves everyone. I get the sneaking suspicion that the further we go in, the more difficult the dungeon will become. I assume it's safe to say that the previous room was not like that before?” Robo asked as he raised an eyebrow.
    “Pretty much. The first one was the same so we might be seeing something like it if there are more rooms after. Or this might be it...can't say for sure.” She answered.
    “Well there's only one way to find out right? Full speed ahead!” Curt chimed before raising a fist skyward.
    The group arrived at the following door and the God's Governor opened it. Before them stood what seemed to be a sort of bridge-a single chest lay in wait in the center and the door to the next room at the opposite side. There were no Agasura as far as the eye could see, and the walls were clear. As far as they could tell, there were no definite traps, but the situation seemed to be too simple.
    “That chest must be trapped,” Robo said with unease.
    “Definitely trapped,” Curt squawked.
    “M-maybe it's a reward for reaching this far?” TJ asked as he knit his eyebrows.
    Amata gave him a look of pity. “You're a glass half-full kind of guy aren't you?”
    Su shrugged. “One of us has to be. The rest of us are pretty damn pessimistic.” She said and Amata answered with a quiet 'hmm'. Was that an agreement? “Sometimes it can be a little refreshing.” She flashed a grin. “But I agree with the Curts. That thing is trapped.”
    The group approached the treasure chest and four of them stood back while Robo went ahead.
    “You might wanna hit the floor TJ, or an arrow might take your head off. I might not be quick enough to save you this time.” Su told him with a laugh. He looked at her uneasily before going prone and covering his head.
    “What did you do to him?” Amata asked with a look of disbelief.
    “Taught him a few pointers in how to avoid death. And gave him a taste of it.” She grinned devilishly.
    “I...won't even ask.”
    “Is everyone ready?” Robo asked placing his goliath's hands to the chest.
    “Let it rip!” Curt shouted drawing his shield and dagger.
    Robo opened the box and put his MG in a battle stance but nothing came. They waited in bated breath, four of the five of them armed and ready for a trap to be sprung but the path seemed as safe as could be.
    “Is it safe?” TJ asked removing his hands.
    “Stay down. They want us to let our guard down and then the trap will be sprung. Let's remain on our guard until we get into the next room at the very least,” Su suggested.
    Robo reached in and pulled the sack of gold out, and at that moment he heard the sound of stone grinding against stone, along with the rest of his companions. The trap was sprung, but one that was completely unavoidable. A series of holes in the roof opened up and what seemed to be scorpions tightly curled up in balls fell from them to the bridge below and surrounded the adventurers-some violet with black splotches across their back and others a mixture of red and orange. The walls slid back also and a buzzing noise could be heard coming from them.
    “That sound...locusts. Swarms of them...this is bad! This is really, really bad!” Robo said desperately, his eyes wide. “What should we do Curt?!”
    “First, calm down.” Curt said taking a battle stance as the scorpions began to unfurl and raise their stingers at them. “Secondly, we formulate a plan.”
    “What's your bright idea smart one?” Su asked cracking her neck and readying her dagger.
    “Firstly, hold back on the magic. This area is way too small for powerful spells like the Arcane Arts. Keep it to the small-scale stuff. That goes double for you Amata.”
    “So what do you expect me to do? Stand here and look pretty?” She hissed tightly gripping her staff.
    “Exactly that. Stay gorgeous.”
    “Wh-” Her face flushed and she glared at him.
    “Su, do that thing you did back in the first room. You've got a bunch of handy tools on you in that outfit, so make use of 'em.”
    “Fine by me,” She answered. “Let's go TJ. Just try to stay in one piece and we'll handle these bugs.”
    He nodded as he scrambled to his feet. “I'll leave it to you guys this time. Frequency!” The pair's eyes flickered to jade green and Su's outfit changed.
    “Alright everyone, scatter!” Just as the group split apart the scorpions made their move.
    Su tossed a smoke bomb down and the two vanished leaving nothing behind but smoke and a log with a face drawn on a paper. The God's Govenor flew from within the cloud of smoke with TJ by his shirt's neckline and came to a skidding halt before letting him go and jumping into the air. Looking into the cloud she emerged from she drew three kunai each tagged with a paper charm and tossed them in. “Move it Curts!” She shouted before landing and rushing back in with her dagger at the ready. “I've got three of them pinned by their shadows!”
    “You've made it rather difficult to find them don't you think?” Curt shouted as he stormed in ahead of her.
    “Get a new set of eyes loser!”
    TJ looked at the walls and caught a glimpse of the approaching swarm, the buzzing amplifying his unease. He took a deep breath and attempted anything he could about the Arcane Arts. Something that could keep them back without harming his allies. Perhaps not a spell, but his elemental mastery could be put to use. He held out a hand and a torrent of snow and icy winds was unleashed, causing the locust to scatter or fall to the winds and into the depths below. He had no idea what was down there, but he had the suspicion that it was better that it remained that way.
    Su plunged her dagger through a violet scorpion and stomped on the back after pulling it out to slice off the tail. She reclaimed her kunai and placed it back in the pouch before shouting, “One down!” The locusts gathered around her and she grit her teeth as she swatted them away. At times they ran rampant in the desert, but had a tendency to avoid Aoich. At that moment an idea came to her. She drew a pair of kunai before she plunged one into the ground and tossed another into the roof. She held up two fingers and concentrated to give her illusionary magic a shape. Both began to glow a deep blue and the locusts scattered to both sides of the room, avoiding the places where her weapons lay.
    “What did you just do?” Curt asked as he threw a knife at a nearby scorpion and it leapt at him. He bashed it with his shield and it fell away before rolling up and away from him. Those were some unusual scorpions.
    “Illusion magic. I changed the appearance of the floor to water, and locusts hate it.” She answered with a confident grin.
    “Your little plan-” Amata hissed as she dodged a scorpion leaping at her and followed in its wake with a fireball. “Is causing these things-” She turned as it rolled away and continued her onslaught. “To go berserk!” She bashed another back and pointed at it, causing it to be ignited. The creature hissed and started rolling about.
    “Stop your bitching! If you wanna get swarmed move further away and I'll shrink the radius, just for you!”
    “Where's TJ?” Robo asked stealing a glance from his MG before moving in the Bard's direction.
    “...Shit.” Su muttered under her breath. She dashed past her allies and over the corpses of scorpions to catch a glimpse of him fighting off three of them. Two rolled back and forth while he fired icicles from both hands in an attempt to freeze them in their tracks, while a third skittered toward him. “Watch your back!”
    He turned in her direction to catch it before it stung him and he beat it back with his guitar. It tumbled towards Su and she pinned it down with a kunai. As he turned around once more one of the two leapt at him and he jumped back to narrowly avoid it, leaving him open for the second to strike. It leapt at his stomach but missed and instead plunged its stinger into his leg causing his body to seize up and fall to the floor. His guitar fell next to him and he struggled to even clench a fist, let alone move.
    “TJ!” She grit her teeth and glared at the scorpions before her. She tossed a smoke bomb at the group and threw a shuriken through it before leaping into it. From within she emerged and brought her dagger down upon one of the two while another Su stabbed two shuriken through the other that attempted to roll away. From within the cloud kunai tied with explosives tags were flung in every direction, scaring off the remaining locust and flying towards her allies who were still fighting. Those that were too close to her companions pierced their targets without exploding and made way for them to strike decisive blows. Finally from within the cloud the real Su emerged and the other two turned to mere logs. She hauled her companion onto her shoulders and sighed. “You alright? That must've hurt...you know, getting stung and all.” After she had finished her spell her outfit and irises returned to normal along with his. The fact he managed to hold the effect after getting paralyzed deserved some commendation.
    “What goes around comes around huh?” He asked offering her a weak lopsided grin.
    She regrouped with both Curts and they offered her an acknowledging nod in unison.
    “That was quite something you did at the end. Though one wrong move and you could've blown us all to kingdom come,” Curt said.
    “I know I know. Why do you think I didn't do it at the start? Things got risky at the end so I used it as a last resort, that's all.” She muttered shifting her glare away.
    “To protect TJ right? You made the right choice.” Robo said before turning his back to her. “Place him there, atop the bags of gold. It would be easier than having you unable to fight.”
    “Sure thing.” Robo lowered his MG and reached over the seat to help their incapacitated Bard into his goliath. “So where's our flaming princess?” Robo pointed to the God's Governor of Fire who was collecting the gold from the scorpions that recently disappeared.
    “You know, in spite of her complaints she's awfully hard-working.” TJ chuckled.
    “You need to shut your trap and relax already until you can move again. Save your spiel for another time.”
    Curt and Su quickly gathered up the remaining gold and Curt placed it into a spare sack he carried on him as the locusts began to swarm around them once more. Following that they regrouped with Amata and made their way towards the exit, getting into the next tunnel and shutting the door as quickly as they could to ensure they were not followed.
    “Thank goodness that's over with,” Su muttered.
    “Go team!” TJ exclaimed.
    “So about that room we discussed earlier...what could you tell us about it Amata?” Robo asked as he lead the way. The God's Governor of Fire seemed to be lagging behind slightly and walking with her staff.
    The look in her eyes was exhausted and her mouth remained slightly agape-a couple of moments passed before her eyes opened slightly and she glared at Curt with a lack of the usual intensity. “Ask that question again. I didn't hear you Meister,” She answered.
    “More like you didn't listen,” Su sneered.
    “I'll give you somethin' to listen t-” Just as she began to get fired up she placed a hand to her ribs and collapsed to her knees before grunting. She took long deep breaths and fell to the floor as she cringed in pain.
    “Amata? What happened? I can't see from here, what's going on?!” TJ cried out.
    “Something's wrong. Let me see it Amata.” Curt insisted crouching down next to her.
    “It's none of your business! I'm fine, alright? So piss off!” She hissed tightly gripping her flank.
    Curt leapt out of his MG after setting it down and rushed to her side. “Now really isn't the time for you to be acting stubborn, God's Governor. Let us help you.”
    “Hands off Meister! I said it once and I'll say it again, I don't need your help!”
    Su towered over her with a scornful gaze. “Out of the way.” She said before pushing Curt aside. She forced Amata's hand away from where she covered and in that spot was a wound eerily similar to TJ's. Her reaction was much different, and judging by the way her face paled and the effect was slow but building steadily, it was without a doubt poison. “You got stung, didn't you?”
    “And what if I did?” She asked with a grin, before forcing herself to sit up. “What's it to you?”
    “Stop fucking around!” Su roared. “You hate my guts just as much as I hate yours, but you said it too didn't you?! We're the God's Governors, and if one of us is out of the picture we're all fucked! If you think I'm just gonna sit here and watch you die to some weak Agasura you're wrong! If you're gonna die by anyone, it should either be Asmodeus, or me, got that?! Now give up that fuckin' tough girl act for two goddamn seconds and let me save you, dumbass!”
    Amata scoffed and averted her gaze. “Fine then. Do as you wish, Prodigal Legend.”
    “Curt, prepare a wet cloth and something we can use to bandage the wound. Robo, hold her down so she doesn't squirm or punch me in the face or something.”
    “Aye aye.” Curt answered in response.
    “Who do you think I am?!” Amata hissed under her breath.
    “It's not what I think. I know you,” Su muttered.
    Robo took her arms and Su rolled her shirt up slightly revealing her navel.
    “What do you think you're doing?!” Amata shouted.
    “Will you sit still for two friggin' seconds?! I haven't even started yet!” Su shouted back and Robo chuckled gently. Su leaned in to the wound and began to suck the poison out, turning away and spitting it out before continuing. She did this upwards of four to five times before finally sighing. “I can't taste anymore. That should be most of it.” Curt walked over and offered her a canteen. She took a swig of it and spit it out before rising to her feet.
    Robo brought a spare rag from within his MG and the two used it to bandage her wound after Curt used the cloth tied around his arm to clean it.
    “Can you stand?” Curt offered her a hand but she opted out for using her staff to rise to her feet.
    “I'm...I'm fine. Thank you.” She reluctantly turned to the God's Governor who leaned against the goliath with her companion in it-he gave her a thumbs up and she offered him a small smile in turn. “...Thanks...Su.” She muttered under her breath.
    “What'd you say? Say it once more and a bit louder so I can hear you!” Su sneered with a grin.
    “Don't hold your breath, Prodigal Legend! You may have done me a favour once but once I've paid you back we're back to being nothing short of enemies! Understood?!”
    “Here we go again...” Curt sighed.
    “I think they've gotten closer actually. If only ever so slightly.” Robo said as he climbed into his MG once more.

    Dangerous Alone-Stupidly Dangerous Together:
    So I did it! Designed my first dungeon. Somehow. Truth be told I hit a bit of a slump and kinda...well let's say I got stuck between a rock and a hard place. But hey, the dungeon's done being drafted and coming along steadily. Gotta admit though, while drafting it really did feel lacking, and I felt unsure if it really was enough to really...you know, give it that 'complete' feel. But once I finished drafting for it and actually writing in the scenes, it really began to take shape and feel like it was actually...something, you know? I only had written what was in it, thankfully, so how the characters sort things out is something I've decided as I get through it. Leaves a bit more room for them to discuss and decide, and a lot of room for their respective growths.

    This week was a bit more Amata/Su focused. After coming out of USSR I guess I still think a lot about the dynamic between the two, and I tried to recapture some of that spirit they showed in USSR. I'll a bit about Su first.
    Knowing Su, then and now she remains a pretty free spirit. She's not one to do things by the book, but if ordered to she'll follow her superior's lead. She was that way during her time in DMC, and she does so under Peorth's leadership during Foe Mansion. Since neither of those two or Samson is present, she gets to let loose and do as she pleases, which as you can see leads to her and Amata fighting. This isn't entirely a bad thing though. It's more or less a Tuesday for them. Regardless, the two still hold grudges over what happened during their time in Hanamah and what happened to it, but even so there's still a bit of a friendly rivalry going on between them at times. A friendship between two God's Governors is extremely dangerous at times though, especially when they're those two. Julius and Alvaro weren't as dangerous, I promise. In their later years Rosetta made sure of that. Back to the topic at hand, I'd considered what had happened during the CoI arc and how things were left off during the Hanamah arc and potential events afterwards. By the time Samson had left, they weren't quite enemies, but Amata had become her teacher, so they actually were on pretty good terms. After the attack the two hadn't seen each other until the CoI arc, and at the time they didn't talk let alone fight each other all that much, so their relationship hadn't quite taken a turn for the worse as much as theirs with Yuta. So all in all, they have a pretty good rapport between them, and despite still having a lingering rivalry, the two will work together if need be as you can see. They'll just do very dangerous things in the process.
    Moving on, Su still loves a good fight, and as she had said she can use spells that TJ can recall, but not quite remember. She has a good idea of the spells available to him, but also those that are currently unavailable due to his memories being blocked or missing. Though in truth I never wrote much with the Chaos frequency so I might do a bit of that if it seems fitting. There might be some potential there. I'm also considering the possibility of Su being able to choose when she dons the garb-prior to the opening of the chest she didn't use it. Afterwards she had, and again in the last room for this week. As for her magic? I'll build on that a bit-whether the Phantasms and Illusions would be under one umbrella or that they'd be two different things, powerful Phantasms like that which she used against Rabana would likely be focused on single targets, while Illusions, most likely visible to enemies alone would be able to target large groups, but not be as powerful. It's a bit of a work in progress, but that side of her power is something I'd like to build on until she really masters her power as G.G. Also poison removal is on her checklist. Handy!

    Now on to Amata, I've given her character a lot of thought. She sounds meaner than she actually is, mostly because of her pride. Su's well aware and pranks her for that reason, but also because she gets a kick out of it. Here again, I decided to build on the fact that she's a heavy hitter, but her abilities really consume her stamina(not mana). Just to clear up any misunderstandings, let's say if you were to cast a spell that it would use 'x' amount of mana and 'x' amount of stamina. If you ran out of stamina, you'd be exhausted and need some time to catch your breath, while on the other hand you might still have half or more of your mana in reserve. Hence the reason why she needed to stop and take a breather, but also the reason that most fighters rarely complain that their mana is low. They'd know, but considering who they are very rarely will that prove to be the case. TJ's will vary depending on what Frequencies he uses, how often, and the spells used during it. Back on topic, she's gotten a few new spells and she's not afraid to use 'em. Never did talk about her and her version of awakening so I might do that before the end of the chapter. Or did I? I don't remember.
    Regardless, she's no less talented but I think she's grown a little over the course of the chapter. I want her to really...have impact, in a sense. Typically the ones grouped together get along well-I mean, most of the time the party consisted of the Curts, TJ, Su, and someone else. Or just mainly people from Yggdrasil, so they were already close, save for Freq's early chapters. Amata in this case is the odd one out and it shows, but at the same time her presence is what really shakes up the dynamic of the team and let's me help build on all of them. I think the part where she got stung really showed two sides of both her and Su that they rarely show. When in trouble they'd look out for each other, but the two are really stubborn about how they go about things-in that way they wind up fighting, but also bonding in a very unusual way. I didn't want her to sound angry when Su lifted up her shirt though-more embarrassed, actually. I'd ship it.
    Now excuse me while I get in the trash bin.

    So last but not least, I wanted to build on Robo. I think a problem he had back in Frequency was at times he felt more like a sidekick to Curt and not enough of his own character. He never had much to say or do, so every now and again I'm gonna aim to remedy that, and he too has seen quite a few changes! I might come back to go into detail on that but I'm getting hurried to go out so...well yeah. Maybe next time? Maybe I'll completely forget, who knows? Anyway I hope you enjoyed this update! Following this chapter big stuff is happening!
    avatar
    TJ

    Posts : 873
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 24
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Wed Mar 25, 2015 4:26 pm

    Pages 110-120:
    As they stepped foot into the next room TJ arose from Robo's MG and carefully climbed down as the mecha came to a halt. He stretched and rolled his shoulders before drawing his guitar and strumming a chord, a series of ripples emerged beneath him and the pain in his leg subsided somewhat.
    “How are you feeling TJ? It hasn't been that long since you were paralyzed. Should you be moving yet?” Robo asked as he leaned over his chair.
    “I'm fine, I'm fine! No problem!” He said before offering the Meister a grin.
    “You sure about that?” Su asked as she poked his wound and he reeled away with a jolt.
    “S-so long as nobody touches it I am. The paralyzing effect wore off but it hasn't healed yet.” He knit his eyebrows.
    “That was a rather quick recovery. You're not just showing off are you?” Amata asked as she raised an eyebrow.
    The Abellan shook his head rapidly and placed a hand to a curled arm. “I'm good to go! Really!” He lowered both arms and glanced around the area cautiously. The room was smaller than the others and seemed to be, from what he could see rather circular. In the center of it was a single massive pillar that took up most of the room, and he guessed that at the other side was the door. “This doesn't really look like a good place for fighting...hang on, I'm gonna check for the exit.” He walked around the pillar and the door was nowhere to be found. “T-there's no exit...is this the dead end you mentioned before Amata?”
    She came around the other side with furrowed brows. “The room is familiar yeah, but the exit is just hidden. According to the scouts we have to manually open the way,” She answered.
    “How?” Curt asked. The God's Governor of Fire pointed up towards the roof, and though in the dark room it was difficult to see there seemed to be a pillar of wood that connected to the roof, while the pillar of stone reached close to it-the former placed within the center of the latter. “So it has something to do with that thing then?”
    “We need to turn it. It's no easy feat, mind you. I'd recommend that the Meister, Prodigal Legend and I go up there. We'll need the strongest of us to move that thing.”
    Curt gave her an exasperated look. “You're underestimating me, aren't you?”
    She looked back at him. “No, rather I think you're doing that. Shall we then?” She gave Su a glance and the God's Governor grinned and shrugged in response. Amata looked up to the pillar and took a stance as if she were going to jump to the top. In place of that, she leapt up towards it with a burst of flames in her wake, from it to the wall and once more to the top.
    “Guess I'm next huh?” Su asked before stretching and taking a couple of steps back to get a running start. She took a couple of steps from the base of the pillar and leapt to the wall, before rapidly jumping between both and coming to a skidding halt at the top.
    “Who does she think she is?” Curt asked sullenly.
    “It's better not to stress the details, Curt. The God's Governors have pride of their own.” Robo said before turning to the Abellan. “Can I ask for your assistance once more?” He nodded solemnly in response.
    “We'll it'll blow up in her face one of these days.”
    Robo smiled bitterly. “Let's not have such thoughts, shall we? Better to stay neutral in most matters, especially in one such case.” Upon those words TJ lifted him up and he joined the God's Governors.
    Shortly after Amata leaned over from the top of the pillar and shouted, “I should warn you two, once we begin to turn this Agasura will start piling in. You should be ready to fight! Also don't let them come up here or we'll have to start over from the beginning-and I'd rather not!”
    “Agasura are gonna appear in this tiny little area? How are we supposed to fight them off?” The Bard shouted back in response.
    “You're the Abellan! You'll figure something out. I did choose you for a reason.”
    Of all the times for her to have faith in me, it had to be now, didn't it? He thought before he sighed audibly. “Well Curt, let's do our best.”
    “Like we have a choice.” He answered reluctantly.

    “We'll begin on my mark! Ready? Push!” As Amata made the call the three at the top began to turn the pillar with the pieces that protruded from it. As she did so, one of a wall began to lower and the door hidden behind it became visible, but only ever so slightly. As if in response other walls were lowered but with much greater speed, and a horde of armed skeletons and mummies surged forth from within.
    “Wow...that's a lot of Agasura.” Curt said drawing his weapons.
    “Let's just stop them at the entrance! If we can keep them in there I think we can stall for the others!” TJ drew his guitar and charged in first, bringing his weapon down upon an unsuspecting skeleton. He held out his right hand and shouted, “Hailstorm!” A series of icicles were launched from before him and it repelled them slightly, but did not bring them down. The Agasura here were definitely strong, which would mean he might need to utilize the Frequency if things got too difficult. Considering the fact that he was in battle and Su was not, could the two really be in sync? He leapt back and strummed his guitar so Six Arrows of Light could take form. He would have to wait and see, should push come to shove.
    Curt's dagger met with the scimitar of a skeleton and his shield knocked the skull and helmet off of another. As he forced the blade back a mummy grabbed onto his arm and he slammed his shield down upon it, breaking the arm off before he decapitated it with his dagger. He gagged at the smell of rotting flesh and reeled away as a strange liquid seeped out from the headless corpse. As he pulled away a sword came crashing down upon him and he managed to block it with his shield before forcing back the one who brought it down upon him. He reached into his coat and drew three daggers, hurling two at that skeleton, another next to it and an approaching mummy. The former two fell, but the third continued towards him despite having a dagger pierce one side of its face.
    “Persistent bastards...” He muttered under his breath.
    He drew his normal battle weapon again and took a deep breath-the scent emitted from the mummies was growing stronger, and he felt as if he was getting weaker by the second. Just what had those things released? He shook off his unease and charged back in, shield first. Though his buckler did not provide much  protection, so long as he struck first and defended where he was going to be attacked it would suffice. He ran down a couple of skeletons and their swords clattered to the ground-following that he lunged at another and stabbed through its spine with his dagger. The brittle bons crumbled beneath his force and the Agasura fell in two parts. It began to crawl towards him with its mace in one hand and the other pulling it along before he stomped on the head and shattered it beneath his foot. He leapt back, somersaulted backwards and backflipped over a mummy he had previously passed and jumped towards it with a downward stab. His dagger pierced the bandages and flesh and he pulled it down before pulling away, the same strange dark green substance the other leaked. Reluctant to touch it, he waved as much of it off of his dagger as he could and readied himself as another wave approached from the darkness.

    With a strum of guitar, spheres of water surrounded him and as they shot towards their intended targets they turned to ice and pierced through them, following through to the next targets. The mummies proved much tougher than their skeletal companions, so TJ had to fire multiple shards to bring them down.  He huffed as he removed a vial filled with a Special Power formula from his pocket and quickly gulped it down. As he tossed it away the Agasura broke through the door way and attacked him, causing him to rush forward with his guitar and attempt to beat them back. In a flurry of swords and maces he swung with as much force as he could muster, shattering bones and knocking them back into others, buying him a bit more time. He picked up a mace one of the skeletons dropped and smashed it against a mummy before hurling the item at a skeleton that leapt at him. The Bard wrinkled his nose as he got a deep smell of the odd scent that the mummies emitted upon being wounded and shook his head. He was beginning to feel rather dizzy, and he assumed the cause was his constant usage of his mana and SP, despite it only being used it in small increments. Could he have really consumed that much in such a short time? Or was it because he did just that, that he felt that way?
    The cackle of a skeleton woke TJ from his reverie and he blocked it's sword with his guitar. Reluctantly he pulled back before charging in to bash the head off with the base of his weapon. A mummy grabbed his shoulder and leaned in to bite him but he slammed a fist into its mouth and stepped further into the dark corridor. Surrounded on both sides he looked uneasily in both directions-some Agasura rushed toward the pillar where his allies struggled, and others approached with him in their sights. He took a deep breath and with a strum of his guitar shouted, “Freeze!” An icy wind surrounded him and came down upon the ground freezing everything within a short radius of him, stopping them in their tracks. He augmented his weapon and rushed back, bashing every head off that he could and knocking down the mummies if only to buy himself time. Now and once more at the entrance he eliminated the threats that would have hunted the others, but put himself at the heart of the storm. He placed his guitar against the ground and shook his head. Why was he beginning to feel so dizzy? He rose to his feet and looked into the corridor before him once more. There were more coming in waves, and he had to be prepared, but his vision blurred. He blinked, removed his glasses and wiped them, then looked again in disbelief at what approached him. There was something on the roof, and much faster and more deadly than the others, quickly approached him. He quickly shook his head and readied his weapon to bat it away.
    As it emerged through the corridor with others following in its wake, TJ took a preemptive swing and missed as it waited just outside of the corridor upon the wall, and leapt down at him. His guitar flew from his hands and he hit the ground hard, getting a close-up of the unfamiliar Agasura. It was a skeleton, but unlike the others had no armour-let alone a torso. It had four hands, and its spine was connected to its pelvis. Two of those very hands were used to claw at the Bard's face while it straddled his legs with the other. It's nails dug deep cuts into his cheeks and he failed to block it multiple times before he finally managed to grab it by the wrists and barely hold it back. His glasses were askew, he was breathing heavily and his dizziness was increasing while his strength was failing him. Without his guitar casting would be a hundred times more difficult, and without the Frequency he could not fight off the surrounding horde. As his grip on it began to fail he swallowed hard-he would have to take a risk.
    “Su, lend me your strength!” He cried out in desperation.
    “It was only a matter of time huh? Get to work,” Su's voice chimed in turn.
    He furrowed his brows and grinned as his eyes flickered to red upon his words, “Frequency!” Strength surged back into his body along with his pent-up rage-he felt better than he had before, and with ease forced back the skeleton that once held him down. He grabbed it by the skull as his grin grew wider and he steadily crushed it. Others began to surround him and he laughed. “Barrier Break!” All around him his barrier took form, a deep crimson and purple, and expanded, surrounding his enemies and pinning them to the ground by their shadows, each taking on the same colour as his barrier. As the skeleton Agasura's skull crumbled to pieces, the remains fell to the floor and he began to slowly seep into it. “Sloth! Shade Devourer!” As he disappeared hands emerged from each shadow and pulled those affected into them, each vanishing within as TJ emerged, the shadows seeped across the ground and returned to him, crawling up his skin and forming upon the wounds he had received prior. Once it faded he had recovered completely and gazed upon those that still approached despite his newfound strength. The Agasura...how mindless they were. He would savour the slaughter to come.

    It was just the standard fare so far, but in the back, far far beyond the others he could see one skeleton that towered above the others, and the sound of its sword dragging across the floor. There was no way that he would be able to bring that down quickly with just his dagger-had he held onto some bombs it may have been possible, but the horde in the first room had really made him go all-out. Curt sighed deeply. He could not catch a break, and if TJ's cries were any indication, things were not going so well on his side of the battle either. It would be best if he wrapped things up quickly and went to the aid of his ally, but if he turned his back with the continuous onslaught of Agasura coming through his corridor they might all be in danger. He steadied his resolve and drew a handkerchief from his pocket before he wrapped it around his face. Without a doubt, that stench was dulling his senses-he would need to keep his wits about him to manage through this battle, and if things got bad and he needed to tap into his powers, be sure that he was not seen. Amata had seen it first hand once, but if Curt had not done that he and Robo would have been cooked alive by the Guardian of the Embers. To be seen twice might give her more of a solid reason to be suspicious of him, and to pursue him in search of answers. Was he willing to risk that?
    He set aside the concern for the time being. If he destroyed the head, the skeleton would likely fall. Without it, where would it go, and what would it do? He took a few steps forward and picked up a scimitar before weighing the weapon in his hands. A bit much for his taste, but he could easily cut a swath through while the rest of the Agasura bumbled towards the tower. So long as he stopped them before they reached the top, he would manage. His main focus was to strike while the boss was at its weakest, in that small corridor, and deal a finishing blow outside of it should it get that far. It was a pretty good plan, if he said so himself. He steeled himself and rushed forward, the blade flashed as he raised it and cut down enemies in his wake. Perhaps five or six got past, but many of the others suffered wounds that would hinder them enough for him to finish them before they got anywhere near the tower. In good time he came face to face with the warrior skeleton and it's crimson eyes glared down upon him. It heaved the blade back and took a swing as he slid under its legs and took a swipe at its right leg. As he had feared, the blade would not be able to pierce the bone. It would have been smarter to take a mace. He grabbed the pelvis and began to climb up, cutting away at it as he did, and causing it to turn around as he leapt down and struck the legs a couple more times. It lifted the blade with both hands and slammed it down as Curt ran past and hopped over one of the legs, then began pursuit of a skeleton carrying a mace. He slowed down to meet its pace and bashed it against the wall with his shield before he claimed its weapon and used that very thing to destroy it. Time four round two.
    As the warrior skeleton turned back around to face him he had already leapt up to meet it face-to-face and slammed the mace he picked up into it. It reeled away as he vaulted over the shoulder and landed behind it, taking a swing and smashing a leg. It was damaged, but not broken. The groan of a mummy caught his attention and he turned on the ball of his heels to swipe its head off with one swing of the mace. Definitely effective, but still not to his liking. He put his shield away and lunged forward with a dagger in hand to break the ribs of an incoming skeleton with two strikes and with one final blow, smash through the spine. He twirled his dagger and sheathed it before placing both hands on the mace. He rushed forward and slammed the weapon into the same leg he had prior, causing the skeleton to take a knee and following the action he hit the arm three times in succession. The broadsword fell to the ground with a loud clang and he tossed the mace at a nearby mummy. With a deep breath he hauled the weapon over his shoulder and stumbled back a couple steps before he managed to right himself. With a long and strained grunt he heaved the sword over his shoulder and smashed it through the skeleton warrior. He released the blade and dusted off his hands. Now to clear out the small-fry.

    “Prepare to die!” The Abellan roared, and at his words a crimson wave sent ripples through the air that surged past the Agasura within the corridor. He spent only a moment to prepare before he broke out into a sprint. A skeleton approached on his left and before it could even raise its weapon he lunged at it with a single fist, and punched it but once, reducing it to dust. He leapt at a mummy and slammed it into the ground before bashing the head into the ground until there was little left save for bandages and the strange liquid that they emitted. “Weak! All of you are so weak!” He cackled.
    He reeled his fist back and with a series of punches and kicks pink shock waves cut through the air and split his assailants into multiple pieces. He caught a glimpse of more of the aberrant skeletons approaching on the walls and looked at them with an even greater bloodlust. He dove into the shadows and emerged after the first that approached, then pulled it away from the roof with a hand and swung it around-he hurled it into some of the others and they all collapsed into a pile of bones. He held out a hand and their shadow grew into a sphere and split from the ground, surrounding all of them and shrinking into a ball smaller than his fist, then vanished leaving nothing but dust behind.
    He sighed gently. This just would not do. Killing Agasura was amusing, but it was not enough to sate his hunger for stronger opponents. Would he find them here? If he wanted a real battle, he could take the fight to the God's Governors. At the thought he paused, and a searing pain awoke him from his reverie. What was he thinking? His eyes began to flicker back to their usual brown and he leaned against the wall. He looked upon the destruction he had just created and shook his head gently. Perhaps that was the reason he very rarely, if ever dared to even use the Chaos Frequency. He could hardly recall the times when he had used it, and those final moments he spent as the Tyrant of the Maelstrom served as a lesson as to exactly why he should not. To utilize that power would give him immense strength, but his desire to fight overpowered his reason, and could likely put his friends in danger.
    “There's more Agasura incoming!” Robo shouted from the outside of the corridor.
    “Get over here Abellan! Another entrance just opened!” Amata's voice followed shortly after.
    He clenched his fist as he looked to the pillar where his friends were. Someday, he would conquer that power...to master it, and to finally master himself. Without another moment's hesitation he hurried back into the light.

    Curt stormed through the crowd and fought his way back to those that began to ascend the tower. He scrambled up the backs of skeletons  and fought his way to the mummy that lead them all-he grabbed its leg and threw it down, knocking others that climbed up back down with it. He leapt down nearby and collapsed atop a skeleton that brought down others as he touched the ground amidst the dog pile. This was becoming rather problematic-he was not armed to deal with large groups. As he thought that a jet of water streamed past him and the Agasura that were struck with it were pinned to the wall once they collided with it and froze.
    “We're in quite the predicament...huh Curt?” TJ asked as he breathed heavily.
    Incredible timing, and somewhat impressive, as always. “That we are.” He answered uneasily as he glanced between the rooms. On his side, a small amount came through the initial entrance, but they approached in droves from the second. On TJ's side, his initial entrance was clear, but alike to Curt's the second was swarmed with Agasura. If his breathing was any indication, he had used quite a fair amount of stamina so expecting him to do anything grand, let alone use the Frequency a second time was likely out of the question. He would have to act on the fly. “TJ, can you keep the guys out here at bay?”
    The Abellan smiled uneasily but gripped his guitar and spoke with a hint of confidence in his voice. “I'll do my best. If you wanna change tactics just say the word.”
    Curt offered him a grin. “If I don't screw this up I think this should do fine.” With a nod from the Bard the two split apart, the Treasure Hunter rushed to the new entrances and plunged four knives into each wall as he fought back the incoming hoard. As he did so his companion flitted back and forth, icicles flew through the air and bursts of light from arrows jetted back and forth as Curt completed his own tasks.
    “We're almost done up here so try not to die!” Su shouted down to them.
    Though her words were not all that encouraging, to finally see an end to the onslaught of Agasura that approached would be a blessing at such a time. With his shield in one hand and a mace in the other, he fought off a pair of skeletons and forced one more and a mummy back before thrusting his daggers into the third and final wall. The fourth was still clear, and he could defend it if need be. As he stepped away from it, he placed his hands together and each gained a faint golden glow-shortly after a bright grid in the same colour formed before them, and as the Agasura approached and tried to walk past it, the grid extended and trapped them in.
    “Ooh...those nets are really handy!” TJ said as he glanced over his shoulder, still deadlocked with a skeleton.
    The Treasure Hunter snickered at his observation-they certainly did look like nets, but he could not fathom what they really were, let alone what they did. He watched the entrance he stood sentry at and he could see more Agasura shambling over towards him and he braced himself for another fight.
    “This should just about do it! If you're in the corridors escape quickly!” Robo called out to them.
    Curt leapt back and after a few more moments the sound of the pillar turning ceased and the walls began to rise again, save for that which housed the door to the next room. The Agasura that attempted to climb the pillar fell lifelessly to the floor and disappeared in a cloud of smoke, just like those before them, and those within Curt's spell disappeared also. He dispersed it before the others came down and they regrouped at the base.

    “That was one hell of a fight!” TJ said as he collapsed to the floor and leaned against the pillar. “There was so many Agasura...you wouldn't believe it.”
    “Oh I would. I heard the stories.” Amata said as she crossed her arms. Suddenly her lips curled into a tiny smile. “Though those guys had it much easier than you two did. Well done.”
    Su rustled his hair and his hat fell off. “You handled yourself pretty well! Didn't even need me to come down there and rescue you.” She said with a grin.
    He smoothed his hair out and smiled back at her. “Thanks! But how did you manage to sync with me? I mean, I was here and you were up there and well...our situations were completely different! Seems like it'd be really tough for you.”
    She closed her eyes and shrugged, but smiled nonetheless. “Eh...what can I say? We've got a pretty unique bond. A little distance or a different circumstance isn't gonna stop me from remaining in sync with you. Can't let you just go and die on me now can I?”
    He nodded and smiled back. “Thanks. Really!” Someday he would become strong enough to protect her too. Maybe that day would not be today, or the day after, but he knew his time would come. He would pursue the bar that she had set and strive ever higher so that someday he could stand beside her as an equal.
    “Those unique powers of yours...I couldn't see them, but I could feel them from here. It reminded me of back then. Have you already conquered that immense strength?” Amata asked with curiosity.
    TJ rose to his feet and shook his head. “No...I've still got a long way to go. But I do have a better grip on it than I did before. A bit of progress is better than nothing!”
    “I think we're in agreement on the matter. You handled the task well. Both you and Curt.” Robo said.
    Suddenly the sound of stone moving once again caught them off guard and a treasure chest fell from the roof, hitting the ground with a low thud and kicking up dust in its wake.
    “Do you think we should open that?” Curt asked.
    “This time it has to be a reward. I mean, we just beat a bunch of Agasura and got no gold whatsoever! I'll bet my guitar on it!” TJ squawked.
    “If it's trapped so help me...” Amata muttered.
    “Less talking, more chest opening! Crack it open already!” Su insisted with clenched fists.
    Robo approached uneasily and placed his MG's hands to the chest. “Brace yourselves,” He warned. He ripped the chest open and blocked, but nothing happened. TJ waited with his guitar in bated breath, recalling the last time they opened a chest and thought that it was not trapped. Robo picked up the sack of coins and a heavy tension fell over all of them, but nothing had happened. “Safe...”
    The whole group let out a sigh of relief.
    “Thank goodness for that,” Curt said. “I don't think I can handle booby trapped chests. It's just a giant tease.”
    “That makes two of us.” Amata agreed with a nod.
    “Well, it seems we're safe for the time being. Let's head on everyone.” Robo said.
    At his words the group moved towards the exit and headed through the corridor into the next room.

    Amata opened the door and they all stepped inside. The room was rather reminiscent of the first-wide open with a group of pillars within, but this time around there were no Agasura lying in wait for them to do battle with. A small light came in through a hole in the wall, and at the far end of the room was the exit.
    “Well...this is certainly new.” Curt said with a shrug. “Guess we don't have to do anything here. I vote we move on.”
    “I can't help but feel that there's more to this than what meets the eye. Either that, or this is just a rest area.” Robo muttered as he glanced around uneasily.
    “I can't imagine the Agasura-especially the Sinners offering any sort of hospitality to the people who are coming to kill them.” Su said with a snicker.
    “If we let our guard down we'll likely be ambushed again. I say we take the Treasure Hunter's suggestion. Let's move ahead and see what happens, and if nothing we can come back and investigate here further.” Amata suggested before striding towards the door.
    The rest of the group followed in her wake and they all stopped before it. The God's Governor held out a hand but nothing seemed to happen. She knit her eyebrows and tried again, but received no response. She stepped forward and began to pound on the door, but it did not open.
    “What's wrong with this hunk of rock?!” She roared.
    “When you can't get something to move, do it by force!” Su suggested taking a stance to cast.
    “H-hold on there Su. It might be better not to do something so rash-we are in an unfamiliar Instance Dungeon, and we don't know what might happen if we try to force our way through. Let's review what we know and consider our current circumstances,” Robo suggested.
    “There's something above the door. Some kind of a symbol...looks like an eye?” TJ asked as he looked at it strangely, one eye-half open and the other normal.
    “It's an udjet.” Amata answered plainly as she crossed her arms. “But why there? What does it have to do with this room?”
    Curt looked around before he spanned the walls and slid his hand across them, likely searching for possible hidden passages and other such things, and finally stopped at the small light that awaited them by the entrance. “Hey, what did that tablet say again?” He shouted across the room before regrouping with his companions.
    “'Defeat my minions, claim their treasure and bring it to me. Prove that you are worth much more than the gold that the riffraff within contain and you shall have an audience with me. Should you fall by my hands, your corpse will become a fitting treasure for my chamber. Should you ever lose your way, know that when I lay my eyes upon gold the path to me shall be opened'.” Robo reiterated for them. “Perhaps that section at the end is our clue?”
    “So you're basically saying we get that light to touch that eye and this stupid door will open?” Su asked, and Robo nodded in turn. “Sounds easy enough.”
    “But how do we do that?” TJ asked.
    “Obviously we need to reflect it off of a surface and get it to reach there.” Amata said, but soon placed a hand to her mouth in thought. “What do we have at our disposal? Any mirrors?”
    The group looked at each other uneasily. Among them, they had Curt's dagger, a couple of knives Curt still had on him, and Su's dagger.
    “This isn't gonna do it.” Su muttered.
    “Useless...” Amata said as she rolled her eyes impatiently.
    “Not like you brought anything to the table.” The God's Governor glared at her counterpart.
    “If you think that dagger will be of use, think again!”
    “H-hold on guys let's calm down okay? I have an idea.” The Abellan suggested.
    Amata brushed her bangs aside and raised an eyebrow. “What's this idea of yours?”
    “If I use Caster's Workshop I think I can make something like a mirror. Kooh was able to create targets with her magic, so it should be possible.”
    “Brilliant idea, and definitely worth a try. Go ahead TJ.” Robo suggested.
    He nodded in turn. “Caster's Workshop!” He held out his hands and a sphere emerged from it, and he carefully shaped it into a rectangle. He spread it out so it was wide and froze it, then held it up for the others to see. “How's this?”
    “This should do.” Amata said as she took it from his hands and inspected it. “Make four more. With this we should be able to solve this riddle.
    The Abellan did as suggested and all of his companions carried an icy mirror with them. With him standing beneath the light that poured through the wall and the other five scattered throughout the room, they decided to try their hand.
    “The task is an easy one!” Amata began, shouting from the far end of the room. “The Abellan will shine the light to the Prodigal Legend, who will pass it on to the Meister, followed by the Treasure Hunter, and then to me and I'll shine it upon the udjet. Any questions?” None answered in turn, and she assumed the answer. “Alright good. Let's get started!”
    TJ awkwardly shifted the mirror in an attempt to pass the light on to Su, who stood diagonally from him. From where he was, he could not see either Curt or Amata due to the pillars blocking his vision. After a minute or so he finally managed to get the right angle and it shined upon Su's chest. She furrowed her brows at the fact and raised her mirror to meet it, turning her gaze to the Treasure Hunter.
    “Take a step back! You're missing me!” Curt shouted to her.
    “Why don't you take a step forward?!” Su hissed in response.
    “Then let's switch places!”
    “Fine by me!”
    “Will you two shut up already?! Amata roared. “Just do as he says Prodigal Legend! If it doesn't work go back and we'll move him instead!”
    Begrudgingly Su followed the God's Governor's suggestion and moved back a step, then attempted the task again and even more so to her dismay, it shined on to Curt.
    “If you say I told you so I'll come over there and personally castrate you,” She muttered.
    “I won't say it then,” He answered. Following those words he took up the mantle from there and attempted to pass it on to Robo who uneasily moved here and there in an attempt to get it on the perfect angle. “Little more to the left! No my left not your left! Wait...bit more to the right...that's it. Perfect, stay there!” Curt shifted his mirror slightly and it perfectly reflected on Robo's and to Amata.
    “Not bad Treasure Hunter.” She said before she shifted her mirror so the light shone upon the udjet, causing the symbol to brighten. She lowered her mirror and the effect remained. “Looks like our work here is done. Let's move on everyone.”

    The party moved through the door and down the next corridor, a curious aura filled the area. Upon opening the next door they found themselves back where they had begun, the statue of the Guardian loomed over them and beckoned them over.
    “This is...the beginning? Wait does that mean we cleared it?!” TJ asked with a look of shock.
    “Looks like it. Talk about a turn of events.” Su chuckled with a shrug.
    “So what do we now Amata?” Curt asked.
    The God's Governor pointed to the top of the statue where the jar awaited them. “We put the gold we've collected in there and the door below will open, according to the others. The Guardian should be waiting on the other side, so all of you better be ready. It's all or nothing,” She explained.
    “Well we've nothing to gain by standing around. Shall we then?” Robo asked.
    The group nodded in unison and proceeded up the stairs. Robo sat his MG down and helped the others as they unloaded all of the bags of gold they had collected. TJ, Amata and Curt each took a bag and began to pour it into the jar-steadily it began to fill, and once the last coin joined the others the eyes of the statue began to glow as the lining in the door gained a gold colour.
    “Is everyone ready?” Amata asked as they all gathered before it.
    “Ready as I'll ever be,” Su answered.
    “I...we can do this! I believe in us!” TJ answered with both fists clenched.
    “We've come this far and there isn't any turning back now-yet I feel no fear. Let's proceed with caution.”
    “I've waited for this moment. Let's show that Guardian who's the real boss around here!” Curt shouted.
    Amata nodded once and held a hand out to the doors and they both opened at once. A deep darkness lurked within and a sense of unease washed over the five. Leading them in the God's Governor took the first few steps, and she debated using her magic to light the way but she caught a glimpse of light at the far end, and proceeded towards it.
    “It's so dark in here...maybe we should watch our step. It might be trapped,” TJ suggested as he debated whether or not he should search for a wall.
    “Did they mention anything like this in that glorious report?” Curt asked pointedly.
    “N-no...but the Guardian should be in here. They did say that this is where they fought her, but this wasn't mentioned.” The god's Governor answered uneasily.
    “Perhaps another sign that the dungeon has changed. As I'd thought, it would be best if we were wary of our surroundings,” The Meister suggested.
    “Yeah, yeah I get i-” Perhaps because she was glaring at the MG that he rode in the darkness, she had walked into something and stumbled back holding her nose.
    “Ha!” Su burst out into laughter. Though it was hard to see, there was a faint glare in the darkness pointed in her direction.
    “There's something there so let's try going around it.” TJ suggested before breaking away from the group. As he walked further to the side he could see a small flame in what looked like an open furnace. Surrounding it were two giant ribbed pumps. Perhaps they were used to fan the flames? But what would be large enough to utilize such a creation? He ran over and stopped in front of the furnace to inspect it further, and as he had thought the pumps were not just an illusion of distance-they were larger than he was. “Hey guys check this out!”
    “S-slow down there Abellan. We don't know where that Guardian is, so it's better to be careful about this. Stay close,” Amata muttered uneasily.
    The rest of the group joined him and looked over the area curiously.
    “I suppose these would be used to fan the flames? Perhaps they light the area, since there is none within, odd as it may be.” Robo suggested as he inspected them.
    Su leapt to the top half of the pump and tried to pull it down, but to no avail. “What's with these things?! They...won't...budge!” She hissed as her struggle continued for a few brief moments.
    “It's not like we need these things. I am the God's Governor of Fire after all. Creating light is second nature to me.” She snapped her fingers and nothing happened. Displeased with the outcome, she frowned and tried once more, but still nothing came to be.
    “Second nature huh? You're as bright as a starless night,” Su snickered.
    “Sh-shut up! There's something wrong with this room!” She crossed her arms and huffed. “It won't let me use my magic.”
    TJ knit his eyebrows. “I can give it a shot. The Chief taught me how to use light magic, after all, so maybe I can manage something. He clenched his fist and raised it to the sky as he cried out, “Sunlight!” In spite of that though, nothing had happened and he lowered his hand slowly with an embarrassed expression.
    “Fail,” Su said blankly.
    “Amata's right,” He shouted defensively. “There's definitely something wrong with this room!”
    “Looks like all we've got on our side are these pumps then. But you guys better figure something out, 'cause the three of you are mages after all. Take magic away from a Magus and what do you get? A regular person.” Curt explained as he crossed his arms.
    “Easy for you to say Treasure Hunter!” Amata snarled with a glare.
    “There has to be a way to move this thing...or at least get it to work.” TJ said as he walked around the pump. It went on a downward angle, from back to front. Once he neared the front he looked at it from top to bottom before taking a few steps upon it.
    “If you fall and crack your skull open I'm gonna laugh. Just an F.Y.I,” Su told him.
    “Hang on, I think I'm on to something.” He chuckled quietly. Though they did not share in his humour, he thought it was clever nonetheless. Upon reaching the back he could feel it lower slightly beneath his weight-with a bit more vertical momentum, perhaps he could manage it? He leapt once and upon landing upon the pump it released a powerful gust of air that stoked the flame within the furnace, but the pump remained lowered. “Phew! How was that?” Though he would not admit it, the fact that his plan worked and the result after left him rather stirred.
    Amata was the first to speak. “You know, it's almost incredible how you come to these ridiculous conclusions. Somehow they work. It might be for that very reason Queen Peorth entrusted this mission to you.” She shrugged. “Well, colour me impressed. I guess we'll be following your lead in this battle.” If she was not hurt, she would likely have lead the mission, but he appreciated her praise nonetheless.
    Su looked between him and the other pump and decided to take the other. “Alright let's light this place up.” She said as she climbed atop it. With a leap she brought it down and stoked the flames once more which gave the room more light, and flung TJ into the air along with it.
    “W-whoa!” He shouted as he came back down and Su in turn was pushed up. Their constant efforts brought light to the room so long as they continued, and it eventually lit up the entire place-at the same time, a sense of foreboding came over them.
    “Something...doesn't feel right here. Might just be my imagination, but do any of you guys feel that too?” Curt asked looking at them uneasily.
    “Well yes...I can't quite put my finger on it, but something definitely feels wrong about this.” Robo replied as he turned around. “O-oh...so that's the reason for those feelings.”
    The others turned to look, and inside of the room with them was a massive snake coiled around a single pillar at the center of the room. The creature dwarfed them, and was long and golden with black stripes across its scaled body.
    “Well, well, well...what do we have here? Five delicious morsels have wandered into my...humble abode.” It said with a hiss on every 's'. “It seems my dinner has come to me today. Scream if you must, but I insist that you remain quiet. I will swallow you whole, so you will feel no pain, I assure you.”
    “I-it talks...” TJ said frozen in terror, but still moving to the rhythm of the pumps.
    “So Ama-” Before Curt could finish his sentence the God's Governor glared at him.
    “No they did not mention this or I'd have told you!”
    “Does that make this the Guardian of the Instance? Or will this stand before we can challenge the Sinner?” Robo asked taking to the vanguard.
    “I'm willing to bet it's just a sub-boss. Let's mop it up and get to the real boss. Just stick a dagger through it's head and be done with it.” Su told them as she too, continued to fan the flames.
    “What brave little prey we have here. I shall savour you until there is nothing left of you. Now come, I, Apep shall be your opponent today, and you my meal.” Apep told them.
    “Get ready! It's coming!” Amata shouted.
    Apep let out a loud hiss and the group was immediately frozen in place, covering their ears. He began to descend the pillar as the group split off into a myriad of directions to strike it. As they surrounded him he moved forward toward the Abellan and God's Governor, and they immediately stopped and turned back.
    “We have to protect TJ and Su!” Robo shouted to his comrades.
    As Apep neared the two leapt from the pumps and the flames slowly began to dim leaving the party in darkness once more-only the light from the snake's piercing yellow eyes could be seen in the darkness.
    “Why must you struggle? If you will stay still I will make short work of you. Fear not, little mice.” It hissed within the darkness.
    As the light began to fade Amata searched the room for the nearest allies to the pumps. TJ had already made his way half-way across the room as the snake pursued him, and Su lunged at it with her dagger. “Prodigal Legend! You and I will take to the pumps! We have to retain the light within this room no matter what!” She shouted to her companion.
    “Have it your way.” Su answered nonchalantly before taking the left pump. “Just make it quick. I'm not gonna be on the menu tonight.”
    “Hit it hard Robo!” Curt shouted as he drew his dagger.
    “TJ, take cover!” The Meister shouted before flying nearby to the snake pursuing his companion. He input a command and a mecha ally broke through the roof and landed near him. What appeared was a silver shielded mecha that separated the two shields to reveal a series of gun barrels. It fired a barrage of bullets into Apep before a series of missiles followed after which exploded in the snake's face. It reeled back and hissed as TJ came to a skidding halt and saluted his companion.
    The Abellan took a deep breath and strummed his guitar in hopes that he could at least summon the Arrows of Light, but nothing had happened. His mana was there and available, but whenever he tried to give it a shape it just seemed to turn into nothing. He grit his teeth and shook his head as he retreated further. If his mana was unavailable, perhaps he could still use his Special Power? He stopped once more as the snake looked between him and Robo-steeling his resolve he held out a hand and shouted, “Hailstorm!” To his surprise the circle appeared before him and a series of icicles fired towards Apep. They collided with his face and blinded him for a couple of moments before he set his sights on the Bard once again.
    Apep slammed his head against the ground and shook the entire area, causing Curt and Robo to stumble around and TJ to lose his balance. Almost immediately he began slithering towards the Bard who quickly scrambled to his feet. As he tried to step aside the snake followed in his wake and opened its mouth to take him in.
    “TJ!” Curt shouted. “We have to get him out Robo!” The Treasure Hunter took to the snake and plunged his blade into its skin before struggling to pull it out. “These scales are tough as nails!”
    “Hang on TJ! Help is coming!” Robo input another command and his MG shut down temporarily as his crimson robot flew in the same way that Ash Cannon had created. “Do it Mystletainn!” The mecha charged towards Apep and sliced along its body before coming to a halt and performing a single wide swing, then flew off leaving a bloody trail. As Apep hissed in pain Robo charged forward with his goliath and a series of sparks surrounded it. “I'm not done yet! Raikiri!” As it's body was surrounded by electricity he bowled forward as close to the head as he could get and knocked it back, causing it to fall over and for its mouth to fall open. TJ leapt out from within, covered in saliva and gasping for air.
    “Oh that was awful! Thought I would die then and there!” He gasped as he slipped on the saliva and fell over. “Now I'm all slimy and gross...but thanks guys!”
    “Safe...try not to get eaten again TJ.” Curt said as he passed nearby.
    The snake sighed as he rose again. “Troublesome little creatures...” It muttered as it coiled around and selected a new target. It set its sights on the one that had interrupted it. “You seem like a rather meaty one.”
    “Watch yourself Robo!” TJ shouted. As Apep turned to the Meister he took a few steps closer and came to a skidding halt as he performed the Ice Fear spell. The icy spears arose from the ground and pierced the snake, but did not deter it.
    Robo immediately started move his MG but Apep moved faster than he could and blocked his path. He grit his teeth and turned his MG around but once again came face-to-face with the snake, and in no time flat realized he was trapped in. Apep coiled around him and started to crush his MG as it prepared to eat him.
    “Let's move TJ!” Curt shouted as he hopped onto the snake's back and made his way to the face.
    “I'll cover you!” He shouted. He had a small set of skills at his disposal, but nothing that could reach that far...save for one skill, but one that he had only seen Su perform. He took a deep breath-if it was the current him, he could do it-he would not doubt himself when his comrades needed him. He clenched a fist and raised it skyward as a massive ice crystal took form behind him. “Shattered Berg!” He shouted and held out a hand. It cracked and shattered, firing a series of massive icicles towards the snake. Though most only grazed it, they pierced its scales and disappeared briefly after causing him to reel away from Robo.
    The Meister turned on his MG's boosters and safely flew out from within Apep's grasp, and met up with Curt who jumped on to the back as he moved away. “Good call TJ! You never cease to amaze!” He thankfully shouted.
    “You saved my bacon first! Guess we're even now,” The Abellan laughed.
    “I am growing rather weary of you all.” The snake hissed before slithering towards Su and Amata.
    “Incoming!” Curt shouted to them as Robo pursued it.
    Apep rose into the air and hissed again, causing all of them to halt in place before he approached.
    “Let's go Prodigal Legend!” Amata shouted to her after the effect wore off.
    “We doing this? Alright.” Su leapt down first and stomped the ground to raise the earth before punching the stone she created. “Earth Dragon!” At her command a jade dragon emerged and charged first to stop the snake in its wake.
    Following in her lead Amata landed with a twirl and released a sphere of flame that stopped in Apep's face and exploded as she shouted, “Fire Blaster!” It reeled back from the flames and the others waited in bated breath.
    The creature hissed as the signs of their attacks truly began to show. “Problematic prey...no matter. None of your actions could truly wound me.” Apep said before raising his hand and slamming it against the ground. After everyone regained their balance they caught a glimpse of the creature molting its skin, and breaking free of the old skin almost immediately. As he emerged once more, the wounds they had created had vanished. “Shall I teach you the meaning of fear?”
    “H-how?!” TJ asked in disbelief.
    “We had used everything on it and yet...it proved useless...” Robo muttered.
    “We're gonna need a new plan...or an escape.” Curt suggested as he rubbed his temples.
    “Like hell I'm running now! I'll murder this snake with my bare hands if I have to!” Su roared as she drew her dagger.
    The light began to dim in the room as Amata gazed upon Apep. “It...hasn't completely recovered. The burns stayed.” She said, but her voice quivered.
    At her words the snake began to near, his eyes set on her and the two shining ever brighter as the light began to lower. “It seems one of you might be rather...problematic. I will deal with you swiftly, and devour your helpless comrades afterwards.” It said before hissing and diving at her.
    Both out of fear and shock, the God's Governor remained frozen in place and nearly wound up next to fall prey to it until Su dove in and tackled her. The two tumbled away before Su broke free and scrambled to her feet, chasing after the snake as it collided with the pump and struggled to rise again for a couple of moments. “You're mine now you bastard!” She shouted before following up with a second Earth Dragon. The spell made contact and it pushed it away rather close to the flames of the furnace. Though they were shrinking rather quickly, it pulled away a fair distance and quickly at that. “Looks like you were right after all Amata. We've got a weakness, and a place big enough to fit this giant ass snake. You hear that guys?! We're gonna roast this oversized reptile!”
    The team shouted in acknowledgement and the snake glared at her. “Struggle now, but you will not escape me. It would take much more than the five of you to manage such a feat,” He said.
    “Scared? You haven't seen anything yet!” Su said with a grin.
    “Curt, let's take the pumps! Leave it to Robo and the others to get them in it!” TJ shouted to his companion as they both ran on opposite sides of the snake.
    “I'm right behind ya'.” He answered.
    “Eyes on me!” Su roared as she clasped her hands together and the head of a massive dragon appeared above her through the spell Gold Dragon. The earth rumbled for the few moments it was there and the snake reeled away.
    Afterwards she leapt towards it and plunged her dagger into it before she removed it and ran to one of its sides, the Treasure Hunter passed as she did him.
    TJ came to a halt as Curt took his place on the pump and summoned an ice crystal, calling in more with Ice Storm. As Curt signalled that he was in position TJ followed suit and joined him on the other pump.
    “Do you expect me to stand by and let you defeat me through such mediocre means?!” The snake hissed before lunging towards Curt.
    The Treasure Hunter turned towards it, but rather than fleeing for his safety like the others had before him, he continued what he was doing. There was a glint in Apep's eyes as he approached, almost certain that he was going to get one of the five with ease, but was proven wrong. The mecha from Robo's Gae Bolg surrounded it and fired their beams upon its head, causing it to reel back in pain.
    Amata waited on the other side with furrowed brows. “Time for revenge!” She raised a hand and snapped her fingers causing ten massive fire spheres to appear around the snake. “Ten Flames!” She shouted before they all began to explode. Apep moved in every direction both trying to avoid, and being hurt by the spell that surrounded it.
    “My turn now!” Su shouted before raising a finger to the sky. Two jade dragons emerged from her and one of the two hit the snake. As it pulled away from her she jumped onto its back and pointed forward. “Twin Dragons!” She shouted. Two more dragons shot forth from where she stood and swirled around each other before colliding with the back of Apep's head. He fellt to the ground and she jumped off to it's right side. “You're up again!”
    Amata huffed quietly in response. “Meister, hit it once more with your Ash Cannon!” She shouted before pounding the ground with a fist to create a wall of flames with Illusion Fire. Following that she pulled back with Fire Burst and the snake pulled away from her flames, coming ever nearer to the furnace. Both TJ and Curt looked a bit uneasy about having it flailing here and there, but still prepared for their comrades to deal a decisive blow.
    “Stand back!” Robo shouted as he neared and input the command for Ash Cannon. The mecha emerged once more to unleash a barrage of bullets upon the snake and the missiles followed after, dropping it to the ground once more.
    “Close but not quite! We're gonna need to move it further if we're gonna take it out!” Curt shouted as he continued stoking the flames with TJ.
    “The spells are good but I dunno if any of them pack enough of a punch to move it in just that way!” TJ answered before shifting his gaze between his comrades. They had a good set of skills, but they needed one that could move the snake in that direction without it being able to pull away from the strike. “Robo can you hit it with Raikiri again? It's a bit dangerous but you might be the only one who can do this!”
    Robo looked at him uneasily, but accepted the duty nonetheless. “Leave it to me TJ. Stand back Amata!”
    Apep began to rise again and TJ shot it a glare. “No you don't!” He raised his hands and a series of icicles rained down upon it, keeping it grounded a little longer.
    Robo came charging in with a series of sparks that engulfed his MG as he collided with Apep, the MG carrying the snake with it into the flames. Pained screams from both emerged and the party looked on with both shock and terror, before the MG emerged, and the snake remained within. To be sure that it did not escape, TJ used Ice Fear once more to place two spears on both sides of the body so it could not slither away. It writhed about as the flames consumed it, and it eventually came to a halt, the body turning to ash and finally disappearing.
    “I...it's over...” Robo muttered with a dry chuckle. Both his MG and him were battered, his MG heavily damaged and his body burned.
    “You alright Robo?” Curt asked as he leapt down from the pump to inspect his companion. Despite him leaving the pump the furnace remained alight.
    “It's a few minor burns. We've all had to take some risks in this battle.” Robo answered with a light smile.
    “That was rather brave of you Meister. I've gotta commend you for braving the flames like that.” Amata said as she crossed her arms and knit her eyebrows-a worried look settled in. “Even as the God's Governor of Fire, I wouldn't dare something like that so easily.”
    “Is your robot gonna be alright? Looks pretty beat up from what that snake did.” Su said as she tapped on it with her knuckles and pulled away. “How can you sit in that thing? It's still freakin' hot! I'd get toasted if I was in there for any longer than ten seconds!”
    “Trust me, this is nothing compared to Raikiri.” He answered with a chuckle.
    TJ jumped down and walked over with an apologetic look. “I'm sorry I had you do that Robo! Hang tight, I'll have you fixed right up.” He said as he drew his guitar and strummed it gently, a light aura surrounded his companions and Robo's wounds healed slightly over the period.
    “It's nothing you have to apologize for TJ. You made the right decision there, and I'm thankful that you decided to take charge at such a crucial time. In truth, there's a better chance I would have used Ion Cannon or Mystletainn a second time had you not suggested that action. If there comes a time where you do feel that you have a good idea in mind, don't be afraid to suggest it. With a bit of polish I'm sure you'll soon rival Peorth as a leader.” He called in the machine that repaired his MG previously and it did so once more.
    The Abellan chuckled bashfully as he rubbed the back of his neck. The thought of comparing to his guild master in terms of leadership was hard to imagine, but he appreciated the thought. “Thanks.”
    “Just be sure that you don't get anyone killed with your choices okay?”
    He smiled wryly at the following comment. The truth hurt too, but it was a fair point.
    Suddenly the earth began to tremble and the party immediately prepared themselves for another combat scenario, but rather the area around the pillar began to sink and form a staircase down to a lower floor.
    “That...must be where the Guardian is.” Robo said glancing over at the staircase.
    “It's about damn time...so many sub-bosses. Jeez...” Su muttered.
    TJ swallowed hard. That look-alike of his may have been waiting down there. How did she come to be? What was her purpose? There were many answers he had, and many he wondered if he would find the answer to. “Are you guys prepared for this?”
    Curt and Robo nodded, the latter of the two looking much better than he had previously. “The leftover wounds aren't so bad. I can go on just fine like this. Now that my MG's repaired I can fight at my full strength again.” The Meister answered.
    “I'm as ready as I'll ever be. I'll get to the bottom of this matter and resolve it here and now.” Amata said with a confident glint in her eye.
    Su placed a hand to her hip. “It's gonna be a little weird killing someone that looks so much like you.” She said before she grinned. “Then again, you're gonna have to join in so, sucks to be you!”
    He laughed lightly at her comment. It was words like those that lightened his heart a little at difficult times-despite the unusual sense of humour, perhaps it was just that that allowed him to face forward. “I can't help but suspect that she too, would be an intelligent Agasura. I mean, if the snake could talk, I wouldn't doubt that she could too.” He swallowed the following words hard. Would his companions believe in the endeavour that he wished to see through? “I...” He took a deep breath. Peorth would not be afraid-why should he? “I want to try and talk to her. If I could convince her to switch sides, maybe we won't have to fight.” The God's Governors looked at him incredulously.
    “Are you an idiot?” Su asked with disbelief.
    “You want to...convince a Sinner to become a Confidant? You're joking, right?” Amata asked with a snort.
    “I mean, I like your positive attitude and all, but that's stupid with a capital 'S'.”
    “Why would they join you when they could kill you? They're some of the most powerful Agasura the world has ever seen. I doubt that any of them would think twice about seeing their goals through.”
    “For once, I agree with her.” Su said pointing to the God's Governor of Fire. “She raises a damn good point.”
    Amata smiled proudly. “Why thank you! I think you've driven the idea home yourself.”
    TJ pursed his lips at their comment. Could they not bond over another matter? He was completely serious about this. Regardless, he would try anyway. “I won't do anything too reckless so if it all goes up in flames well...” He paused and recalled the battle with Pandora. It would truly be a shame if it ended like that, but if he could give a choice he would try just as his guild master had. “Then we'll do what we have to...again. Anyway let's get to it.” He lead the party as they began their descent to the lower floor.
    avatar
    TJ

    Posts : 873
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 24
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Wed Mar 25, 2015 4:28 pm

    Pages 120-131:
    The stairwell twisted and turned all around the pillar until it lead to a room that was filled with all sorts of gold and jewellery, among a myriad of various other treasures. At the heart of it all a lone lady sat upon a throne-as the group had heard looked she alike to TJ in terms of her face. She wore a white kalarsis, transparent orange shawl, a dark blue gorgerine and crimson sandals. She also wore a gold seshed, matching earrings and a black bracelet with gold hieroglyphs engraved upon it. Her eyes were a deep crimson and her hair shoulder-length and violet with a gold streak in her bangs. Upon seeing her visitors descending the stairs she arose from her throne and approached.
    “Excellent, excellent you have come! I had feared that Apep would devour you and your magnificent treasures before I got to add them to my collection, but it seems that you have proven yourselves worthy! It has been quite some time since anyone had last come to see me, let alone made it to my chambers. I have been so painfully bored!” She said excitedly as she welcomed them with open arms.
    “Oh god she's a weird one,” Su said with disgust.
    “I can see the familial resemblance,” Amata muttered under her breath.
    “Who said we were related?” TJ asked. As he stepped down from the stairs and his allies joined them, his look-alike stopped short of meeting with them.
    “Well at least you've proven you're not the same person.” Amata took a couple of steps forward to face off with the Guardian. “So we finally meet huh? You did some pretty terrible things to the other adventurers that came in here. I'm here to make you pay for just that!”
    The young lady knit her eyebrows at the God's Governor. “Will you please step aside? I have no business with you at the moment. You do not interest me in the slightest, and from what I can tell you do not have a single worthwhile treasure on your person.” Amata gave her an incredulous glare as she gestured for her to step aside. “Sister, you are there among these others are you not? Please step forward! Let me see your lovely face!”
    His allies looked to him and he shrugged before offering them a smile. Perhaps his plan would actually work out? He stepped forward, with a cautious air about him, but the young lady looked genuinely happy to see him. “H-hi. But I'm not a girl. That and I don't recall having any siblings...” He answered uneasily before rubbing the back of his neck.
    “You poor thing! What have those Cerebians done to you?” She shook her head in disbelief. “My my...what a troublesome bunch you have found yourself with. But it matters not-what does matter is that you are here now, and that we have finally been reunited after hundreds of years. It is all thanks to your constant efforts that I and the others will be able to return to this world.”
    “W-wait slow down a minute! You're saying the reason this dungeon appeared is my doing?! And these guys didn't make me lose my memories it just kind of...happened. They're my friends, and they're all really good people!” He had not found the answers to most of his questions, but her words raised more. How could it have been hundreds of years since they met? He had no such memories of others like himself.
    The young lady pursed her lips at his words, and he wondered if he made that same face. “Oh but they did. One does not acquire amnesia so easily, Luxuria. Of course, under the correct circumstances it is possible, but this was on purpose. Their goddess had sealed you and that brat Adonis together and she and those other Cerebians had sealed Father and the others away, myself included.” She kissed her teeth. “I still cannot believe that Adonis is the only one considered to be Father's child. What do they know of us?”
    TJ gripped his temples as the Sound of Frequency hit him then and there. His memories were trying to resurface but the pain seemed to be forcing them back into his sub-conscious mind. “W-who? Luxuria? The goddess...and Adonis...huh?”
    The young lady stepped forward and embraced him. “There, there Luxuria. You need not try so hard to remember. You are safe now with me. I shall teach you everything that you need to know, and free you from the grip of those evil Asgardians. We have a duty to see through, after all.”
    TJ shook his head. “I...I don't understand. Who's Luxuria? My name is TJ. What is this duty? And why do you call me your sister? Who are you?”
    Su grit her teeth. “You done with your little reunion or what?! There's only so bullshit I can stand before I lose my patience! How long do you expect me to stand here and let you fill his head with your lies?!” She roared.
    “Hush Cerebian! After all you have done to my sister you claim that I am lying to her?! You have been lying to her for hundreds of years and now you plan to turn her against her own family! Like I would accept that!” She took TJ's face in her hands and smiled gently upon him. “It is me, Luxuria. Your sister Avaritia. All of your hard work is the reason that I have been able to return to this world. Alas, my body had been destroyed upon our defeat but I have returned through the window of your soul and taken up this image instead. You must continue your duty and make further sacrifices for Father. With enough the others will also return, and finally Father will follow. Then we can see our duty through together.”
    “But I...no... I'm not Luxuria and Asmodeus is evil! I don't want him to come back! I have to stop him! But I don't understand...why is it that you've come back because of me? And what will happen if Asmodeus does come back?!” The Abellan cried out.
    Avaritia knit her eyebrows. “As I had thought, they coerced you into joining their side.” She glared at his companions. “I will never forgive them for doing this to my precious sister. Alas, let me remind you of your true duty. Since you are the only one that can release us from our prison, you must heed Father's words and go forth. Though we will remain trapped within these Instance Dungeons, as you see your duty through we will grow stronger, and upon Father's return we, along with his other sealed minions will finally break free of these bindings. Then...it will begin.” She smiled. “Geseni oto Nitszch. The end of time, and of this world infested with those Vandels. It will be as God Ah had promised, and we shall finally fulfill our duty. The world will be reborn anew.”
    “W-what?! So you just plan to destroy the world? I can't do that! I won't!” He answered and shook his head.
    “Why?” She tilted her head quizzically. “Is it not as God Ah had intended? It is not as if we plan to destroy the world-we will eradicate humanity, and though the world will be destroyed in the process, it is so that it can be born anew. Humans have poisoned this world for far too long, and it is our duty to undo what they had done.”
    “This world belongs to humanity! We can't just...just go and commit mass genocide! Why would God Ah want to wipe out humanity if he had created all of this?!” He shook his head. “Who are we to say that this world has to end? Humanity has lived upon it for years long before I even knew about it...these people have lives and families and things that they'll risk their lives to protect and you just want to...want to throw it all away! I can't do that! I refuse!” His tirade left him out of breath and he placed a hand to his chest. “I'm not who you think I am. I know I might be an Agasura but...the Chief taught me that even an Agasura could have humanity. That we could live side by side with both Humanity and the Cerebians. That there's not that much difference between us when you set aside the biases we might have because of the past. I won't throw that all away. I won't let you take that, or harm a hair on her head. I'll protect my guild, and this world with my life.”
    Avarita knit her eyebrows once more. “Sister, why are you so adamant on defending them? I know you may have lost your memories, but I know that deep down they are still there, and that given time you would recall the truth that they have veiled. Do you not recall any of it? The war? Being bound to Adonis and the battle that tore this world apart? Our sole parent is Father. We are not like Humans, and for that reason we must not try to be among them. Even if you could, you do realize that whether you like it or not, they and the Cerebians will die long before you could dream of it. We do not have lifespans, Sister. As they grow old, die and are reborn, we will live on. Time and again, you will have to see your friends die as you continue to live on, generation after generation. It need not be that way. After all, I do not wish to see you have to find that loneliness again after all these years. Join us-unlike them, we will be with you no matter how many hundreds of years pass. We will be with you until the end of time and afterwards, as it should be. Please, come to your senses Luxuria and leave this foolishness behind.”
    A small part of him wanted to cry. She cared for him, though she had known him as someone else from a time he might never be able to recall. Despite being his enemy, and one that wanted exactly what he did not want for the world, she still offered him a hand and looked upon him kindly as one of their own-in a world that had once cast him aside, where he remained stuck between being a failure both as a Cerebian and as an Agasura, she would still accept him. Had he met her first, perhaps he would have taken her offer and chosen to side with what she described as his family, but he had already had a place he belonged, and with people that accepted him with open arms. Yggdrasil was his home now, and the Cerebians were his family. “I'm sorry Avaritia, but I can't do that. Even if they all die before me, even if I end up alone I...I can't turn my back to them. They've been good to me, and they took me in despite me being just some...vagrant. No matter how bitter I was they stayed with me through thick and thin. If the Cerebians want to save this world, and even if Humanity isn't perfect and do more harm than good, I want to protect them. I wanna protect this world they had fought to protect for all these years. After all...I'm not Luxuria, nor am I the Calamity Trigger. I'm TJ, and I stand by the Asgardians as their Abellan. So...you know, if you want to reconsider you can join us. Heck, I'd like for you to! You're really kind, and there aren't many among the Agasura who are. The Cerebians would gladly welcome you, and I would too. And you can be free of this place and whatever other bindings have been placed upon you.”
    She closed her eyes slowly. “I see.” She looked to him apologetically, but hugged him once more. “Forgive me, Luxuria, but I just cannot do that. My allegiance remains with Father until the end. No matter how many times I die and am reincarnated I will still fight for him. I know not what the Cerebians have done to you, but I will do what I must to wake you from their control and set you on the right path.” She held out a hand and a black scythe with a skull upon the top of the pole appeared next to the silver blade-as it took form she stepped back away from TJ. “If I am to defeat your companions here I will ask that you reconsider my offer. I do not wish to have to harm you, but we will do what we must for the sake of this world, even if we become enemies in the process.” The gold piled up all around her surrounded her and carried her off back to the throne where she once sat, and placed her down before it. “If even then you remain on their side, then I shall deal a final blow and have you transmigrate from the ethereal world that their goddess had hidden you in many a years ago. From there, I will assume your duty and we shall start over. Please, forgive me for this sister, but today we will become opponents. Tomorrow, I hope that we will be back to being sisters. Now come. Show me how strong you have become.”
    He looked upon her with his heart feeling as if it were tied in knots. She was only the first of the seven and he was reluctant to fight her. Would every battle be this difficult? He drew his guitar and took a deep breath. “I'll make things right Avaritia. I promise, when this is all over I'll sort things out so you and all the others can be reborn in a better world.”
    “I dunno what she's on about, but we came here to kick her ass, so let's get down to it!” Su said as she pounded an open-palm.
    “We're with you Abellan. Even if it's difficult for you, remember that we're in this together. You can rely on us, and together we'll pursue the truth at the heart of this matter.” Amata said offering him a kind smile and drawing her staff.
    “That's a heck of a lot of info. Did you get all that?” Curt asked with a grin. “You could probably ask Robo to reiterate later if you forget.”
    “I'm not an answering machine Curt.” Robo added curtly. “But I do have excellent memory capacity, so should there be anything you've forgotten, please, don't be afraid to ask. I'd be happy to help, be it in defeating the Sinners or recalling the information they had shared with you.”
    “Thanks guys. We might be in for a tough fight, so get ready. I'll support you from here for the time being.” He looked upon Avaritia as she slammed her scythe against the ground once and the gold and weapons within the pile arose at her call to gather around her. A strange sense washed over him, but whether it was longing or nostalgia he could not tell, but it was not entirely unfamiliar to the feelings he experienced upon activating the Iris Stones. She too, must have been a part of the past that he could not recall, but if he was to defeat her here he might never know what her story was in its entirety. He let out a sigh before he shook his head and mustered his resolve. “Let's play it cautiously for now and gauge her abilities! When we've got a better idea of what we're up against we should launch a full-on counterattack.”
    “Leave it to us!” Curt shouted as he and the others set out with their weapons ready.

    Avaritia smiled as she watched his allies approach. “So you all will be entering the fray to die first hmm? It seems Luxuria still has some of her charm despite being tricked by you. How wonderful.” She held out a hand and two streams of coins shot towards them. “Now come and die quickly. There is much to be done, and I am a very busy woman.”
    Curt and Su split apart from the others as the coins rained down on them and sprayed across the floor like droplets of water.
    “So she's a psychokinetic? Well that's fun.” Su muttered under her breath.
    “If that's all she could do the solution should be simple! We attack from all directions and she won't be able to keep us all back at once. Let's go everyone!” Amata shouted.
    “We're right behind you.” Robo answered taking Avaritia's right flank with Su.
    As they advanced a silver aura surrounded them for a couple of moments and bolstered their defense thanks to TJ's song. Amata came to a halt while Curt made his move from behind after taking a long and round turn to get the jump on her.
    She plunged her staff into the ground and it cracked, a series of flames arose in its wake. “Sear!” She shouted.
    Both Curt and Su approached from her blind spots, each with a dagger drawn as they leapt into the battle. Without even moving from where she stood Avaritia called a sword and scimitar to repel the Treasure Hunter and God's Governor, the blades moving as if wielded by a warrior. Moments before the ruptured earth reached beneath the Sinner a pile of gold coins covered it and the fire only served to heat them beneath her. Amat crused under her breath while Robo came next. He came to a skidding halt and threw a bunch she blocked with her scythe, and he threw two more she easily deflected on both sides. Before he could turn his mecha she leapt onto his MG and took a wide swing with her weapon, nearly beheading him. He slid into his seat and attempted to shove her from the mecha but missed as she leapt down and met weapons with Su. The God's Governor took two rapid swings and a stab before both dodged aside and the scimitar flew towards Robo and got caught within one of the grates at the front of his MG. He looked on with terror and shock before a pile of gold rained down upon him.
    With a wave of Amata's hand flames emerged from the ground and trapped Avaritia and Su in a small ring. The Sinner grinned as she locked weapons with Su for a moment before she dodged aside and sent the God's Governor away with a bash from the pole. “You didn't think I would fall for that, now did you girl?” She laughed. “Why don't you play with this for a spell?” With a wave of her hand a broadsword emerged from the pile and soared towards the God's Governor of Fire. It hit the ground as Amata narrowly avoided it and looked on with anger. “You are brave to challenge me alone, little one.” Avarita chuckled as Su came once more. Before she could approach the Sinner kept her back with a wide arc from her scythe, and called the previous scimitar form before to keep her busy.
    “I'm more than enough to put you out of your misery!” Su hissed as she deflected the scimitar and somersaulted aside as it came down upon her. It arose from the ground once more and came down with a vertical strike while Avaritia followed it up with a horizontal swipe from her own weapon. Su backflipped twice to avoid their attacks and upon the second landed with enough force to raise a thin block of ground before her. With a push it fell upon the scimitar and the Sinner looked on with a hint of disappointment.
    “As I had suspected, you and that other girl must be this generation's God's Governors hmm?”
    Su charged forth and two streams of gold blocked her way, but hardly slowed her down. She dashed past each and got back to the Sinner who did not parry but dodged each of her strikes. Su took two stabs at her head but she stepped aside with ease and leapt back when she attempted a wide horizontal swing. “Yeah? And what of it?” Su stomped the ground and unleashed an Earth Dragon that was blocked by a wall of coins.
    “What of it? Well you pale in comparison to your ancestors. Both Terramane and Rayinth were feared by our kind because of their uncanny abilities as Magi. Even I was shaken when I saw them upon the battlefield. You?” She snorted and Su could feel her blood come to a boil.
    “I'll crush you.” She muttered before she slammed her fist against the ground and the earth rose up in massive spikes.
    Avarita leapt back and the gold surrounded her and carried her away from the impending danger, letting her off a safe distance away. Su clicked her tongue before she roundhouse-kicked one of the shards of earth and sent it sliding towards her opponent. Moments after she could feel strength welling up in her body from the Bard's song. Avaritia leapt aside and chuckled once more while Su caught a glimpse of Robo tossing a couple coins from his MG and placing himself behind the Sinner. It was risky, but she could create a diversion for him. Su charged back in after the Sinner and leapt through the air before slamming both fists down and creating two fissures that sundered the ground that surrounded her target.
    “You missed me by quite the large margin, God's Governor,” Avaritia sung in response.
    “Good.” Su answered rising to her feet and crossing her arms.
    Behind her Robo called in Ash Cannon and it landed as the rendered earth came to a halt As it fired a barrage of bullets at Avaritia she turned in its directions as quickly as she could and created a wall-some pierced through it and grazed her, and the wall was soon blown away by his missiles. Luckily for Su she had created a wall of stone to take cover behind before the bullets found their way to her, and the coins also that soon followed after.
    The Sinner was pushed back, and briefly rose to her feet wearing a pained expression. “My treasure...” She muttered before glaring at the Meister. “You have quite the interesting little toy there, adventurer. Give it to me and I might spare your life.”
    “That's not happening,” Robo answered.
    “So be it.” She pointed towards him and three streams of gold and treasured fired towards him-two converged on that point as he steered his MG away from it and the third relentlessly pursued him.
    Su emerged from the wall and attempted to get in an attack while the Sinner still had her back turned but was met with another pair of scimitars. “Goddamn it...” She muttered as she parried the first blade and the second came shortly after.

    The Sinner set her eyes on her sibling who solemnly strummed his guitar on the outskirts of the battlefield. “Ah sister...what a magnificent weapon you have. To have you and it would make for the finest treasure, along with the Heart of Yggdrasil...” She said dreamily before placing a hand to her cheek.
    “Is that the best you could do, Avaritia?” Amata asked as she walked over and dropped the hilt with a melted blade upon it.
    The Sinner pursed her lips. “I have more, mind you.” She snapped her fingers and coins surged forth towards the God's Governor. Amata held out a hand and a series of flames surged forth to meet them head on and stop them, leaving only liquid gold that dripped to the floor. “What a waste. Perhaps I could sell your head on a spear to other Agasura for their treasure. Or perhaps I'll keep it as mine...” She smiled devilishly. “Come. I shall use the very gold that you melted and have you become a statue with it to place beside my throne!”
    “I'd love to see you try! Lion's Dance!” Amata hurled a massive fireball toward Avaritia and upon nearing the target it exploded into a series of sparks but the flame still remained, bouncing through the air as more sparks rained from within. The Sinner skillfully avoided the spell before calling two streams of treasure down towards Amata's location.
    The God's Governor leapt back to avoid the attack and despite hitting the ground they surged forth after her. She held out her staff and attempted to block it-the attack came at her in droves and forced her into a wall. She hit it hard and the barrage continued on keeping her pinned down.
    While that happened Curt returned to the fray, the sword that had kept him busy lay lifeless and he used the chance to take the Sinner's focus away from the God's Governor. He skidded to a halt at her flank and opened with a Masquerade, his dagger meeting the pole of her scythe before she leapt back and took a swing at him. He dropped his shield mid-jump to grab the scythe and pull her towards him before thrusting his dagger at her heart. She blocked the blow with her left arm and his weapon pierced her skin, before she released the scythe and it vanished while she pulled away.
    With a wave of her hand her scythe reappeared and the treasure rose above her like a tidal wave before it came crashing down and pulled him away with it. Su broke a piece of the earth and leapt onto it to surf across the wave of treasure and close the distance between her and Avaritia. As she neared she could feel her wounds healing slightly, TJ's aid at work once more. The Sinner turned to her and she outstretched a hand as she shouted, “Freezing Wave!” An icy beam surged forth from her and froze where the Sinner once stood as she avoided the attack, and the God's Governor attempted to predict where she would move to next. As the wave of treasure came to an end Su leapt from the stone she rode in on and continued her onslaught for a couple more moments before she deemed it useless.
    As Su continued forth towards the Sinner Curt approached from one of her flanks with a sword following in his wake. He skidded past Avaritia where she caught a glimpse of him and blocked his dagger with her scythe and pointed down at him. He backflipped away as the sword pierced the ground and Su came in once more with a barrage of rocks leading the way.
    “That is enough!” Avarita roared and held out a hand to Su's earthen barrage. Her spell circled around Avarita and was fired back at her. The God's Governor looked on in surprise and held both arms in a futile attempt to protect herself, the rocks crashed upon her in a cloud of dust. “Now for you...” With a wave of her hand a mace and a one-handed sword emerged from the treasured hoard and shot after Curt. He frantically defended against all three weapons with his sword and shield, but they hit him from all directions and he only managed to block two at a time-the mace caught him off guard and hit him in the back, leaving him open for a cut from each of the other two.
    Robo returned to the fray with a pained expression, his body bruised and his MG dented from the coins that assaulted him, but he still came to the aid of his ally. He immediately put in the command for Ion Cannon and once completed his MG shut down temporarily while two satellite mecha appeared in the room and placed themselves above Avaritia. “Hang on Curt, I'll buy you some time!” He shouted as they began to charge.
    “You adventurers never learn, do you?” Avarita asked. She waved her staff and the two satellites immediately pointed to the Meister.
    “Robo get out of there!” TJ shouted to his companion.
    “W-what?” He looked on in disbelief as they both let out their charges, firing two beams of energy upon him.
    TJ looked on in horror. One by one his companions were falling, and now more than ever he needed to step into the fight. He had to do something, but even so he still had doubts. His hands trembled and he fumbled his playing. Curt was still struggling to hold off the weapons and failing, while Su was trying to get free of the rubble Avaritia hurled back at her. Amata was wounded, but since the Sinner had taken her focus off of her she was able to stumble out of the coins that pinned her down prior. At the moment, he would likely be the only one who could still fight at his strongest and yet...and yet...
    He reached into his pocket and drew Peorth's piece of the Heart of Yggdrasil. With it, he could call upon his Order Frequency and become the Messenger of Light, but if he failed again...he shook his head. He could not lose faith in himself and his companions now. They needed him now more than ever. He took one look upon the battlefield and saw his sister turn to him and smile.
    “So Luxuria? I have bested your companions. Now is a good time for you to reconsider my offer, and I will allow them to leave my dungeon safely. That is fair, is it not? Your allegiance for their lives?” Avarita asked with a gentle smile.
    “You haven't bested anyone Avaritia!” Amata roared as she she walked away from the wall and rose to her full height. “Abellan! I know you're stronger than this! If you're afraid, that's fine, but don't falter just because of your memories! Remember what it is that you fight for and who! You have a duty to see through, so take up your weapon and fight alongside us.” She placed her staff to her back and offered him a grin. “I'm with you, and so is the Prodigal Legend! I'd never thought I'd see the day where the two of us fought on the same side, but the time came because you made it so. I don't plan on dying here, and neither should you.”
    Avaritia placed her scythe upright beside her and frowned. “That was...touching, but I believe that it would be in your best interest to flee while you still have lifeblood running through you. Life is a precious thing for you Cerebians is it not?”
    “Oh how right you are. But that doesn't mean I'm afraid of death either. You knew my oldest ancestor didn't you?” She grinned devilishly. “You, your siblings and your precious king got your asses handed to you on a silver platter by him and the others also. If you think this generation's God's Governors are gonna surrender to you alone, you're dead wrong! I'll show you the strength of a God's Governor!”
    Avaritia clicked her tongue-it seemed Amata's words actually pierced her confidence and annoyed her. “It seems that arrogance of his is genetic. I am not surprised in the slightest-but that was then and this is now. History will not be repeated. Go.” With a wave of her hand four streams of treasure arose from her hoard and shot towards Amata.
    “Muster your confidence Abellan! Let's strike back with everything we have!” Amata shouted as she dodged the first of the four and continued on as she began a prayer to awaken herself. “O star of the sky that bestows upon us your light, grant me your power in this time of need! Guide my path as I seek to quell the teeming evils from driving our world into darkness! God Ah, heed my plea as I embrace the light from yourself and my ancestor Rayinth! Allow me to awaken and walk the path of light once more as your Governor!” As she came to a halt two pillars of fire surrounded her flanks and flames arose all around her and engulfed her body. Anything that got near her was melted by the sheer heat she had emitted, so Avarita called the attack off.
    As TJ watched Amata come to unleash her powers he looked down upon the gem once more. She was not afraid, and he had even less reason to be. He had told Avaritia that he would stand by the Cerebians as their Abellan, and that fact would remain unfazed even if they were siblings. Now but once more he would have to take a risk to gain that strength that his guild master had given to him to aid his friends in need. He held the gem tightly to his chest and prayed with all his might. “Please...please Chief, give me courage!” The gem reacted and emitted a bright glow as did his, and he could feel power welling up within him. His eyes flickered to blue as his wings spread out upon his back, and his hair turned white. He let out a gentle sigh of relief as the sensation of becoming the Messenger of Light once more washed over him.
    Avaritia looked on in awe for a couple moments before she placed her hands to her cheeks with a loving expression. “Is that what I think it is Luxuria? Where did you find that piece of the gem? I had thought God Ah destroyed all but yours! It even allows you to change your look at will...that must be the power of the Cerebians hmm? I do love you, but I must have that gem at all costs! You are prepared, are you not? Come, let us dance.”
    He looked upon his sister uneasily. “This isn't gonna end well Avaritia.” His eyes wandered from her to his own shoes. “For either of us really. But it has to be done! For the sake of this world...” With one final sigh he rushed toward her as he considered his options. It would still be some time before Amata could finish her transformation, and he would have to utilize skills that could not be misdirected. The Arrows of Light were definitely out. As he approached Avaritia held out a hand and the treasure coiled around her before splitting apart and converging where he was headed. He leapt above it and it bounced from the ground and followed after him. Mid-jump he leapt to the side and hit the ground running again before he clenched his fist. “Lucent Dissonance!” He shouted. Lightning sparks surrounded his sibling and though she dodged most of them a couple made contact and she was none too pleased, but not entirely deterred.
    “The Divine cannot slay the Agasura, sister. You should know better than that. But that clumsiness of yours is something I enjoy nonetheless.” She said with a smile before calling the swords away from Curt and onto him.
    “I don't intend to kill you. I've got...other plans.” He answered. He drew his guitar and batted the sword away before blocking the scimitar with the back. Once the sword approached again he fired two arrows of light and leapt past the second weapon, before jumping once more in the air and tumbling to his feet to storm towards Avarita. If he was in close proximity, he could likely use all of his spells without fear. The weapons followed in his wake and before the first pierced his back he sidestepped and avoided it, the second he once again deflected. He noticed Amata's transformation coming to a close and saw his opportunity. When the sword arose from the ground and shot towards him again he dove beneath it and clasped a fist, a bright light took form in it. “Sunlight!” He shouted as he held it skyward and the sphere arose and burst into a bright light.
    “Come now...” She muttered. “Is that not excessive?” She rubbed her eyes and blinked a couple times before starting once more, but in spite of the fact the swords still came after him.
    Once the fires died down Amata emerged with a full flaming crimson coat, wings, glowing eyes and matching orange runes across her body. With a wave of her hand the ground beneath Avaritia shuddered and cracked apart before it spewed magma while the Sinner fell back, still blinded.
    “You've gotten better huh Amata?” TJ asked with a chuckle. It was a good thing she was on their side this time.
    “I've been practicing.” She answered before brushing her bangs aside. “Now let's eliminate this Sinner!”
    “Right behind ya'.” He clasped his hands together and focused his mana, a trail of tiny sparkles emerged from him and sought out his allies, each giving them a gentle glow upon reaching them and healing their wounds. Shortly after the pile of rubble was toppled over and Su with matching hair and smaller wings emerged with an enraged yell. Curt too, who struggled against the single mace fought with more vigour and Robo who had lay collapsed in his MG arose and input the commands to make repairs.
    “Let's go Abellan!” Amata shouted before plunging her staff into the ground. A magic circle appeared beneath Avaritia and upon the end of the circle a ring of magma took form as it faded away. “You've nowhere to run Sinner!”
    Avaritia's vision returned to her and she looked displeased at the spell. “You are wrong there, Governor.” Avaritia called her treasure to her and it carried her above the pit.
    “I've got it!” TJ shouted as he came to a skidding halt and raised both hands skyward. A magic circle with the Asgardian herald appeared within the circle. “Warden's Wrath!” Avaritia immediately moved away as the beam of energy shot up towards the roof and dispersed upon it while she called other streams of treasure upon the two. “Ahh damn it...”
    As she turned her focus away from the two and to where she was headed, she caught a glimpse of a dagger headed her way and called a sword from within the treasure she rode to deflect it. The moment the two made contact, the dagger gained a bright glow and Su took form with it in hand. Before Avaritia could react Su tackled her from the stream, causing her to drop her scythe as the God's Governor leapt a second time with the power of her wings into a downward spiral. Upon colliding with the ground, within the wake of dust Su rose to her feet and wrapped her arms around the Sinner to pull her into a suplex. She grabbed her by the feet and spun her around before hurling her into the throne and calling a lightning bolt down upon it.
    “N-nice job.” The Abellan said in awe.
    “It was good, but not quite enough,” Amata muttered as she joined the other two.
    As she had said, despite being struck head on by the spell Avaritia still arose from where she sat. She had a variety of wounds across her body, but it had not proved enough to hold her down. “Your power is shared with that Cerebian?” The Sinner chuckled dryly. “What a waste...what a waste indeed. I shall crush her and shatter that contract, along with the others. I will not hold anything back, sister. Prepare yourself!” Her scythe reappeared in her hand and she raised it to the sky, all of the treasure gathered around her and split apart into eight different streams, firing down upon each of them while the weapons within flew from every direction. Amata kept two back and Robo emerged once more to hold one back with Mistertein and block another with his MG while Curt took cover behind him.
    “She has us completely pinned down!” The Treasure Hunter said as he protected Robo's blind spot from two swords and a mace.
    “Prodigal Legend, Abellan, we should fly out of here and perform a three way strike!” Amata suggested while fighting off the treasure with fire.
    TJ bit his lip and Su downcast her eyes while the two continued their own fights. “I...” The Abellan muttered under his breath.
    “We can't, okay?!” Su hissed defensively.
    “Can't what?” Amata asked with impatience-edged words.
    “I can't fly.” TJ answered.
    “You...can't...?” The God's Governor offered him an incredulous look before looking apologetic. “I...I see. Sorry.”
    Su grit her teeth. “What about that stupid lizard of yours? It can, right? Why not put it to use?”
    “Bharva is not a lizard!
    TJ strummed his guitar for a few moments and a barrier shielded his companions, allowing for them to take a breather as the onslaught continued. “I...I have a plan.” There was a limited amount of treasure within the room, and though it took time, Amata had the power to destroy it and reduce it to liquid. The problem was, there was not enough time for her to concentrate on all of it, let alone would she have enough stamina to do so easily. What they needed was to corner Avaritia. “Your dragon Bharva can fly right Amata?”
    “Yeah. If you plan on riding him, I should warn you that his mane will singe anyone but me.”
    “I'll avoid that. But I think this is what we should do. Amata, you use that spell that you did back in the City of Iron. If you melt all the treasure, Avaritia won't have anything to use against us. Curt, Robo, I want you guys to charge head on towards her.” He closed his eyes for a moment to think. If the two went right for her, she would likely escape to the skies again, which would leave just TJ. Was it possible that Amata could choose where the spell went? Better to ask. “Another question. Can you decide where the spell goes? I'd rather not let everyone but me get cooked.” The God's Governor nodded. “Alright, put it along closer to the walls, and leave a space for you and Su to stand, along with a path for Curt and Robo to follow. After they move ahead, you two seal that path so Avaritia can't land behind them.”
    “We're gonna be trapped in too, you know.” Curt added.
    TJ chuckled uneasily. “I know. We're gonna have to make sure this plan works or we'll all be in a pickle.”
    “Dangerous.” Su said blankly, before she grinned devilishly. “I'm in!”
    TJ smiled. “I'll ride Bharva and catch Avarita if or when she takes to the skies. If what Su did before was a clue, we can bring her down, and since she's a Mage like us, she loses focus without her weapon. I'll try and predict where she's headed, and when that happens I'll give you a sign. I want you to wait for me there. Once we land you two be at the ready in case she has any other tricks, and if not then...well, hopefully we can hold her down so I can perform the ritual.”
    “That sounds like a good plan. I'm ready when you are TJ.” Robo said as he prepared his MG to defend the two once more.
    “Amata?” He turned to face her and she grinned.
    “Now you're acting like a leader. Alright, I'll play along.” She clenched a fist and a flame took form in it before she held it to the sky and they emerged, rising and swirling down to the ground as the form of the dragon came into their vision, the heat defending it from any incoming treasure. “Heed the words of the contract and come to my aid, Guardian of the Embers! Arise from the flames as I summon you now Bharva!” She shouted as the shape solidified and the dragon appeared once more, just as it was in the City of Iron.
    “I'm gonna drop the shield. Are you guys ready?” TJ asked, and his allies all gave him an acknowledging nod. “Alright let's do it everyone!” He stopped strumming his guitar and the shields that protected his allies vanished-Su took up the place before him and stomped the ground to create a wall that blocked the gold.
    “You're to follow the Abellan's commands for the time being Bharva. Go quickly, and please try not to have him killed in the process.”
    The dragon snorted and released a bit of fire while his master chuckled under her breath, defending him as he uncoiled from around her and took off while TJ ran over. The dragon took to the skies and the Abellan uneasily climbed onto its back as it rose ever higher, while it avoided the piles of gold and treasure that assaulted it. Some even broke from the stream but those that made contact were not enough to bring him down. Weapons emerged and TJ held them back with Arrows of Light and masterful use of his guitar should they have gotten too close.
    “Bharva, could you circle the area for the time being?” He asked. The dragon roared in return and circled around the room while the Abellan checked on the progress of his companions. “Now's the time guys! Let's go!”
    The God's Governor of Fire clasped her hands together while Su took to her, and formed a wall of rock that surrounded her from all sides, with a magic circle as a barrier to protect them from attacks from above. “I, chosen of the flames command you to heed my plea by the words of the contract! Rise from the ashes and burn brightly once more to purge this world of the evils that plague it! Prominence!”
    From both sides of them magma surged forth from the ground and anything that touched it was engulfed and melted. The God's Governor of Earth fanned herself while their companions flocked to the outside of their wall uneasily.
    “Next step! Go Treasure Hunter, Meister!” Amata shouted. Curt nodded to Robo and the two charged ahead. “Shall we, Prodigal Legend?”
    “I guess we could.” Su answered with a grin. She lowered the blocks before them and Amata drew her staff. While the former stomped the ground the latter plunged her staff into it.
    “Molten Wave!” They shouted together as the earth crumbled before them and a wave of magma followed in its wake.
    “Do you plan on eliminating your own allies? What a reckless group you are.” Avarita chuckled before she waved her hand. Two streams of treasure lined up and poured down upon where Curt and Robo were headed. “It is such a waste for all this treasure to disappear, and it does pain me to see it, but Midgard has much, much more. Sacrifices must be made at times.”
    “Stay close Curt! It might be a good idea to keep your head down also.” Robo shouted to his companion. He input a command and his MG began to release sparks of electricity. “Raikiri!” He shouted as it shot forward and pierced through the rain of treasure. Curt followed shortly after with a slide and narrowly avoided getting pelted with gold by using shield as cover.
    “How clever...” Avarita said with a look of surprise. “But alas, that will not suffice.” She took to the skies and circled around before catching a glimpse of Bharva approaching with TJ on its back, standing tall with his guitar in hand.
    “Fifty Arrows of Light!” He cried out and strummed his guitar. Each taking flight and shooting at her from every which way. She casted them aside as Bharva approached and passed by her, the moment TJ and her would near drew ever closer. One of the arrows he fired shot down towards the ground burst behind the throne, and both Curts made their way to that point. Once the Abellan neared he leapt from Bharva's back and Avaritia caught a glimpse of him approaching.
    “A worthwhile attempt, sister!” She turned away from him and he reeled a hand back. He fired a single arrow and it hit her in the ribs, knocking her from the stream and towards the magma.
    TJ leapt once more towards the wall and outstretched a hand. “Starfall!” He shouted as he was engulfed in light and shot down towards her, hitting the ground with a bright light. When the light subsided, he stood holding Avaritia by the shawl while Curt and Robo stood with their weapons at the ready. “The battle's over, Avaritia. You've nowhere left to go.”
    She smiled and chuckled. “That seems to be the case. You have done very well sister...it seems that I am indeed bested. Victory is yours. But what do you plan to do if you do not plan to take my life?”
    “I'll return you to the jar. Well...the box. Pandora's, that is. You and all the others.” He knit his eyebrows. “I'm sorry it has to be this way, but someday, things will be different. I promise.”
    The Sinner chuckled. “Sister, it is not good to show your enemies too much kindness or it may prove to be your undoing someday. But I will always accept you as you are. After all, you are an irreplaceable treasure.”
    He let her down and she collapsed to her knees. “Thank you...sis.” He said with a bitter smile. “It's time.” He summoned Pandora's Box. “Elpis, can you guide me through the ritual?”
    The necklace beneath his shirt began to glow and Elpis emerged from it before she circled around him and levitated between him and Robo. “As you wish Master. Please call forth Pandora's Box. I shall begin the ritual.” At her words TJ blinked uneasily, but he had seen Peorth perform the relic recovery, so perhaps he could too? He placed a hand to his chest and a blue glow was emitted from it-as he pulled them away, the jar took form and fell into his hands while he looked on startled.
    “Nearly broke the thing...” He chuckled dryly.
    “I think we'd be in an even bigger pickle if you managed that one.” Curt laughed. “Su would never let you hear the end of it.”
    “Embarrassment would be the least of our concerns,” Robo added.
    TJ placed the pithos down as Curt and Robo stepped back between the throne and the remains of their companions' spell, and Elpis began to sing. Her voice was gentle yet had a commanding sound to it, and though it started low as the tempo continued her tone ascended. The wind began to gather around the sisters, and Avaritia began to emit a gentle glow as it raised her to her feet and eventually from the ground, the young lady looking on to her twin with gentle eyes.
    “It seems that this is where we part ways, Luxuria. You have an incredible gift...and you have become so strong over the years. I believe that the time where you meet the others is near. Please, look after them. And Father also.” She said with a smile.
    TJ's hair and eyes returned to normal as tears began to stream down his face. He could no longer hold them back, and though he still felt unsure of why seeing her vanish was so heart-rending the feeling would not subside. “I...I'm gonna save them. Somehow...some way...I dunno what it is yet but when all of this is over...when I truly become the Abellan, I promise I will! So wait for me, Avaritia!”
    She chuckled gently as the traces of her body turned into tiny spheres of light and rose up into the sky. “What did I just tell you sister? Your kindness...” She shook her head and held out a hand, which TJ accepted as the rest of her body continued to fade. “Even if I vanish now, I and the others will be a part of you. I hope that when you meet Father you come to understand who you truly are. Until then, congratulations...and goodbye.”
    Her hand faded away as her voice did and the spheres gathered together before surging towards the Abellan and gathering within his gem. His left eye flickered to gold for a couple moments as he got a glimpse of what seemed to be a monochromatic memory.

    It seemed to be through the eyes of a child, looking up to a man that offered her a scythe and patted her on the head. Though TJ could not make out his face or outfit, his words came through clearly. “Your name shall be Avaritia. You are my daughter, and my irreplaceable treasure, now and until the end of time.”

    His vision returned to him and his eye returned to normal but not before leaving him with a searing pain in it. He placed a hand to it and sighed gently, before muttering, “See ya', Avaritia.” Curt walked over and gave him a pat on the shoulder as the remaining spheres entered the pithos, giving it a temporary glow that soon faded.
    As it did Elpis' song came to a close and she turned to the Abellan. “The ritual is complete. The sealed Virtue shall now return.” She said before giving him a nod.
    “The wha-?” He asked as he wiped his tears away. His gem began to glow again and light streamed out of it, blinding them all. As the light began to fade a young lady stood before him-she was tall with long white hair, bright blue eyes and a gentle smile. She wore an orange blouse with crystals embedded in the shoulders and wrists, black pants and matching boots, and cherry earrings. In her hair was a tiny hairpin shaped like a bear face, a spiked golden club and a black shield with red clips. “Y-you're...” He recognized her face. She was one of Peorth's old companions-one of the few that he had seen in his memory at Toad Island. One of those that fell during the City of Iron incident.
    She looked at him quizzically for a moment, then placed her fist in her palm with a look of realization. “TJ? Is that you?”
    He nodded as tears began to well up in his eyes again. “Y-yeah! It's me...I'm TJ!” He placed a hand to his chest as he the tears ran down his cheeks. He wanted to cry out those words, each holding the hope that Peorth could be there to see her old companion.
    “You've changed so much. You're super pink!” She laughed gently. “I didn't think we'd meet again in this lifetime but you pulled it off somehow. Have you regained any of your memories? I'd heard from the others that you lost them. Again.”
    He wiped his tears with his sleeves and sniffled as he nodded. “Yeah I did. I've found a few along the way but I don't remember much of what happened before I awoke. Just bits and pieces.”
    She smiled kindly. “It's tough huh? But don't give up okay? You've come so far and you've defeated the first of the Seven Sinners. When I see you now, I can see how much you've changed. I remember when you were just a little tyke-you barely spoke a word back then. You've got friends beside you now, and you've grown really strong too. How's the Little Princess? Is she doing well?”
    The Abellan nodded. “Mm hmm. She's the leader of our guild, and she's taught me a ton of things. She also lent me her piece of the Heart of Yggdrasil.”
    The young lady looked on in surprise as TJ held it out for her to see. “Man, that thing went full circle huh? Though I'm glad you finally found a use for it.” She chuckled gently. “The Little Princess wouldn't take her eyes off it for a second when we were with her. Sometimes the guys would tease her by hiding it...” She chuckled again and blinked with a surprised look. “O-oh I forgot! You lost your memories right? Might not remember me by now.” He nodded sullenly and she grinned. “Don't worry, don't worry. I'm Velvet, one of Peorth's Keruz.” She placed a finger to her lips as her eyes wandered from one side of the room to the other. “I can't remember where or when, or who for that matter, but someone told me that when the time came that we crossed paths again, we'd form a connection. With that, you could call me to battle by using my true name Industria. Truth be told I have no idea what that means, but you are the Abellan. I know you'll figure it out TJ.”
    “Thanks Velvet. I'm really glad to see you again.”
    “Same here!” She grinned. She reached to her hair and removed the pin before she approached the Abellan. She affixed it to his hair just beneath his hat and smiled. “From me to you. Take good care of it okay? And if you're ever in trouble and need a hand from me, just call my name and I'll help you out of a pinch.” He placed a hand to the pin and nodded with a smile. “Looks like my time's just about up. We'll meet again TJ, you can count on that. Just keep going strong! Me and the others are waiting for you on the other side. See you again!” She stepped back and waved, and she too turned into a series of spheres of light that returned to his crystal, leaving behind a small piece of paper.
    He walked over to it and picked it up as he muttered, “This is...” From within him Memorius Sanctum appeared and flicked open, the page flew from his hands and took its place within the book before both began to glow and become one-the book closed afterwards and disappeared. TJ looked on in shock before bursting into laughter. “Man...what a wild ride.” He placed a hand to his hair and the pin still remained, despite Velvet having disappeared.
    Elpis drifted over towards him. “Master, a new ability has been added to your repertoire. Would you like me to inform you of the details?” She asked.
    “Huh? Alright...”
    “The ability 'Invocation' allows the Magus to call forth an ethereal companion to the corporeal world to aid them through three different means. The first, 'Synergism' allows the Magus to call forth one of the Eirhenjar to do battle in their stead-to perform this, the Magus must learn the true name of the summoned Eirhenjar and the lyrics to their song. The Magus will be able to fight using the Eirhenjar while they remain rooted; the effect will end if the Magus is interrupted.
    The second, 'Command' allows the Magus to call forth one of the Eirhenjar to perform a stance to attack enemies that threaten them, or to use a stance to protect the Magus.
    The third, 'Manipulation' allows for the Magus to call forth the power of their Agasuric nature and utilize the ability of defeated the Eirhenjar, or as you know them, 'Sinners'. This cannot be used when the 'Order Command' has been input. Would you like me to repeat these options?”
    “N-no, I think that's alright. I kinda get it. Thanks.” The Abellan answered as he gestured there was no need.
    “As you wish Master. Should you have need of my services, please summon me once more.” With that Elpis vanished and returned to Pandora's necklace.
    “New skills? New skills!” Curt excitedly said. “Well, let's see 'em.” His eyes drifted from TJ's to his hair, with a startled look. “Dude, you've got a gold streak in your hair.”
    “Huh? You sure?” TJ asked in turn with a look of disbelief. Curt held up his dagger and reflected the Abellan's hair in it. Just as he said, there indeed was a gold streak in his bangs, just like his sister's. “Ugh...Avaritia!” He roared with frustration. “She didn't mention this!”
    “It might be a symbol of your union Abellan. Though I'm rather curious about this new ability of yours also. Show us.” Amata said as she crossed the dried wave of magma and stopped beside him.
    “I just got it! It's not like I know how to do it!”
    “There's only one way to find out.” Su said as she approached.
    “Oh come on!” He said but his allies all grinned. “Fine, I'll give it one try.” He clenched one fist to his chest. “Come forth Industria!”
    At his words, his ethereal companion Velvet appeared from within his crystal and stood before him, her weapons drawn. She bashed her mace against her shield once and raised it skyward as she shouted, “I'll protect you TJ!” At her words transparent armour coated his entire body and she vanished.
    “Wh-whoa...they weren't kidding!”
    “Man...sure is nice being the Abellan isn't it?” Curt asked as he grinned and crossed his arms.
    “How fascinating...and useful,” Robo said.
    “Nice hair loser.” Su said before flicking his bangs away from his face-he furrowed his brows at her comment.
    “I'm rather impressed by this. And somewhat by your ability also. You've done well, TJ.” Amata said before she smirked. Briefly after words a tiny sphere of light with a star in the center appeared. “Looks like our exit's here. Let's head out.”
    At the God's Governors words they all stepped in and in a flash of light vanished from the Pharaoh's Chambers.
    avatar
    TJ

    Posts : 873
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 24
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Wed Mar 25, 2015 4:31 pm

    Pages 131-134:
    The party returned to the entrance and the pair that stood on guard looked on in shock. The previous guild members that were on guard were replaced by a young man and woman. Their meeting was brief, as the energy that swirled around the gate begin to fire bolts of lightning and damage the gate itself, until it finally broke pieces off and the gate tumbled in upon itself-the Pharaoh's Chambers were no more.
    “We did it!” Curt shouted as he raised his hands for a high five to the nearest person, which happened to be the God's Governor of Fire. Her arms were crossed and she only glanced in his direction. “You're not gonna leave me hanging are you? After all we've been through?”
    She cracked a grin and shook her head before raising a single hand. He saw it through and she sent a glance to the other God's Governor who watched the remains of the gate disappear alongside her companion. Curt leapt into the arms of Robo's MG and the Meister spun him around as they cheered.
    “That sister of yours was seriously wack.” Su said as she looked upon the smouldering gate. “But I can see why you had such a hard time defeating her. Might not remember much of your past, but there are still parts that stick.” She looked down to her shoes and brushed her bangs behind her ear. “When it comes to people...sometimes those are the hardest ones to face. But you do what you gotta do. Might be hard, but the world's counting on you...and I guess us.” She grinned and gave him a hard slap on the back. “Buck up cowboy. You'll live. There are still...what, six of those guys left? No point in sulking over just one. There's a world that needs saving, so let's get the hell outta here.” At those words she turned and walked off.
    TJ still remained and looked on the gate. The words of Avaritia rang through his mind, and that memory he obtained was not his, but hers. If the person in it said that she was his daughter, could it really have been Asmodeus? The figure looked human, and the voice far too kind to be that of the King of Agasura. He was nothing like TJ had imagined him to be, and it gave him conflicting feelings-even more atop that which his sister's eccentric demeanour had. He sighed gently and turned away. Perhaps upon meeting the others he would come to understand their side of the conflict better, but at the same time he feared that very thought. If what he heard and saw were true, his view on the Agasura may have been completely off the mark. He needed to know more...and only the others would have that answer. But how was he to summon them? And what would happen if he did?

    Later that evening TJ and Amata sat at the top of the pyramid and looked down upon the world below. Curt and Su both rode on the backs of sandmen that stood near the base of the pyramid and planted their hands within their shoulders to make them move and fight while Robo watched over them. The God's Governor looked upon them solemnly, her thoughts seeming to wander beyond what she watched. Though unsure why, TJ had been called out by her and took up her invitation.
    “They seem to be having a good time,” She said blankly.
    “They've always had a penchant for unusual and dangerous things,” TJ chuckled quietly. “But it might be just that, among many other things that allows me to be here today.”
    Amata knit her eyebrows in thought before she glanced his way. “I've seen you and your allies at work, but you're more capable than you give yourself credit for. Your strength is in a league of its own, and despite that...you have control. A strong mind, and a strong body...” She closed her eyes. “My dad had always told me when I was young that the fire that burns within us is one that we've inherited from our ancestor. Though it burns bright, as we get older we'd need to learn to utilize it to temper ourselves, or it'd only consume us. Even now I let that get the best of me...I attacked you and accused you of being the Sinner just because of a report. Any Cerebian who was caught doing such a thing to the Abellan would've likely suffered way worse consequences in the generations before me, God's Governor or not.”
    He looked surprised but his gaze became a tad more gentle over the following moments. “You know, I don't blame you for doing that. You were right-I was there when Asgard was attacked and I was too weak to stop it, despite being the Abellan. I was the one who let down the Asgardians first, and you were just doing what you thought was right to protect them where I'd screwed up. If I was the Sinner, you may have saved the city and many lives in the process. That matter aside, I might have power but they keep me in check. Without them, what happened in the City of Iron could easily happen again.”
    She pursed her lips. “But could we blame you? Yuta tried to force Adonis out. After all that...” She sighed. “Even before then, I've always been rather hot-headed. First the Prodigal Legend, then your companions Curt and...Robo? Then finally you. I knew the reason why and yet I still blamed you...the Prodigal Legend...no, Suuba was right. You'd only recently become 'the Abellan' prior to that you were just TJ. You're steadily becoming stronger, and learning your duties and the extent of your powers like we do. You grow into your role just like a God's Governor...just like we have to, and your journey and ours are connected. I'm sorry that I did all of those terrible things.” She shook her head. “Samson tried to make me realize that when I was still just a kid but now more than ever, I think I'm starting to understand what he meant when he said that having a Pledger is a good idea. They're the ones that keep us in line.” She looked down to her shoes and snorted.
    “You shouldn't be so hard on yourself Amata.” TJ said with a worried expression. “I could imagine that being a God's Governor is no walk in the park either. Seems like you guys each have your own problems to face, on top of having duties to the world. It's rough, but somehow you still do your best.” He smiled. “Nobody said you had to be perfect, nor that making a mistake makes you any worse than anyone else. I did too. A lot of them...and they're how I got here. I've learned from them, and they're what let me change. I'm still trying to redeem myself and become a proper Abellan, so how about we do it together?” He offered her a hand.
    She took his hand and smiled gently, her gaze softened moreso than ever before. “I'll take you up on that TJ. It may have been years ago, but it might be a good idea for me to try to atone for my past mistakes too. There's a very important person waiting for me back in Mezzalone. I'd hurt her and ran away under the guise of becoming a better God's Governor and learning to control my power. What a terrible liar I was.” She sneered at herself. “You have the courage I don't, and the resolve to see through your atonement.” She looked to him with a newfound confidence. “I'll walk that path with you. As I'd told you before, we, the God's Governors are required to help you take your next step in awakening. I'm gonna search for anything I can find on how we can locate and restore Xenadia, and once we do, please, take me there with the others. By then I know I'll be ready to perform the rite to become an awakened God's Governor, and to see you through your transformation too.”
    He had no idea what Xenadia was, but it seemed that would be one of his destinations, leaving aside finding the Seven Sinners. “When that time comes I'll be counting on you Amata. Thanks for your cooperation.”
    “It's our duty, after all.” She smiled slightly. “And I'd be glad to fight alongside you again.” She rummaged through her pocket and drew a small box-like item, rather familiar to that which Anastasia spoke into previously. What was the secret behind the box? Would she tell him? “I want you to take this. It's an IR teleporter.” She handed it to him and he flicked the top open-the strange material hung open like a book and a small rectangular item with a screen on it remained in his grasp. “You're looking at it like its a foreign item. Haven't you ever played LaDeck before?” She laughed and he shook his head. “Man, you really are old aren't you?”
    “I take offense to that.” He said as he pursed his lips. “So what does this thing do anyway?”
    “You can use it to call someone to your side, regardless of where in the world the two of you are. I want you to use it to summon me if you get into trouble. You might be an idiot but...well...you're our idiot.” She snickered. “Our idiot Abellan, no less. I dunno if I can leave you in the hands of just the Prodigal Legend with all of these strong Agasura running about, so if you're in danger you call me, got that?” She drew a pencil and paper and scribbled down some other information. “This is my full name, Amata Seitz, my address, and my postal number in case I'm not at home. Mail me if you hear anything about the Sinners ASAP, got that? This is a part of my duty...so you know, do that.” She got up and dusted off her clothes, the young lady turning away before the stars. “I'm out of here. You did well, Mr. Abellan.” She offered him one last grin before she waved and made her way down the pyramid.
    “Hey!” He roared after her before she steadily began to make distance. He huffed quietly before he made his way down to his companions in time to catch a glimpse of Curt's sandman being cut in two. “Alright you guys let's pack it up and head home!”

    After reporting their success to the guild chat, they agreed to meet Peorth and Kooh back at the guild room in the morning and parted ways with Curt and Robo at Elias' Save Stone. The two had decided to go out for dinner, and as they left they argued about what they would eat. As the two walked side by side to the palace Su stretched and grinned.
    “You look happy. Did something good happen?” TJ asked with a smile.
    “Sorta. Well it's interesting. Wanna know?” She asked with a glint in her eye.
    “Alright. What is it?”
    “Within your gem, there's a tree. It's where I hang out when I'm in there. Used to be just me and your buddy Adonis in there, stuck on opposite sides of it, but since you beat up that Sinner there's been some new people in there.”
    He looked on incredulously. “Seriously?! Is that what it's like in there? What else is there? Can you talk to them?”
    She shrugged. “They've got nothing to say, but I can see what you see and hear through this giant projector-like screen thing. Gives me something to do. If I had a physical body in there I'd have more splinters in my ass than fingers and toes on my body.”
    He chuckled dryly at her remark. The two made their way into the fight arena and rummaged around for their tent among the others. “Well if you ever get bored you should come out. So long as it isn't where anyone can see you do it.”
    She grinned. “I might take you up on that if I feel like it. But it's not so bad.” He climbed into the tent and she followed after before returning to the gem. “Hey.”
    As he climbed into bed and removed his glasses he laid his head down steadily. “Hmm?”
    “Thanks for...you know, keeping things together between me and Amata. We never really got along and shit but...hell, somehow we made it through the mission. She's not so bad, I guess.”
    The Abellan chuckled under his breath. “I think you two were already friends, you just needed a push in the right direction. You should thank the Chief for that.”
    “The last thing I need is to see that blue blooded-guild master thumbing her nose at me. That's a definite pass. Well, whatever. Night.”
    “Night Su.” He closed his eyes and in due time sleep found him.

    The following morning TJ went to the Guild Room and found Kooh and Peorth waiting within. Both looked a lot better than they had from the previous mission, and he was glad to see the two were doing well.
    “Good morning everyone,” The Abellan said.
    “Heyo TJ! Welcome back!” Kooh said with a wave.
    Peorth gave him an approving nod. “I am glad to see you well TJ. Congratulations on your completion of the mission.”
    “Good morning Angel TJ.” Shabur said with a tip of his hat.
    “Hello little Abellan,” Sellistar said.
    “I like the pin and new hairstyle TJ!” Kooh said with a twinkle in her eyes. Peorth seemed to look on with an odd curiosity, but seemed to remain silent on the matter this time. He was both thankful and disappointed at the lack of her rare humour.
    “So how come you wanted to meet me here Chief?” He asked with a puzzled glance.
    “A new page has been added to Memorius Sanctum, and as you had said you could not read it, correct?” He nodded solemnly. “I have been taught our ancient language, so I shall read it in your stead. Perhaps you might glean some knowledge from it?”
    “Here's to hoping!” He answered with knit eyebrows. Perhaps within the book lay the parts of his past that he could not and would not find within the Iris Stones. Though important, he vowed to himself that he would share his meeting with their past companion once Peorth was done reading the page, and as she summoned and sought it out he could feel hope budding within him, while a deep-rooted fear also settled in. What would he learn from the ancient tome?
    “Here it is. I will begin reading it now.” As she started to read it, TJ tilted his head quizzically. She was reading it in the Cerebian language,and he did not understand even a word of it.
    He rubbed the back of his neck as Kooh listened intently and decided to speak out. “Hey Chief I-” Before he finished his sentence, he saw a flash reminiscent of that he glimpsed upon during his look into Avaritia's memory, but that which he would see now was neither his, nor her's. It was a memory beyond his time, and one that belonged to someone who he once held dearly.

    I wrote 24 pages over the last 11 days. This is it. Chapter's done. Ughghghgh. I'll be back tomorrow to talk about the recent updates, and probably the chapter overview Friday. Enjoy!
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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Thu Mar 26, 2015 4:14 pm

    Well i Just spent 3 hours writing up stuff on this and then I hit backspace. GG NO RE
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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Fri Mar 27, 2015 3:11 pm

    The Fourth Harmony: Overview:
    It's been a long time coming but the chapter is finished! This time around I really challenged myself with a set of new and old characters, creating my first Indun and mixing styles between stories. Hell of a ride that one was. Been a while since I did this so let's talk about some of the easier stuff first.

    Sanc and Perspectives:
    I think one of the most difficult things for this chapter was finding a way to write the story from TJ's perspective while not really...you know, giving him too much of the spotlight. I was gonna talk about this yesterday but I derped so it's gone now, but the main idea was that despite TJ being the main character, I wanted the whole cast to stand out. He acts as both a part of and the catalyst to their respective growths, and in that he stands out just a little bit too. Often times his perspective serves as a response to the dialogue of the characters, him at times becoming a solemn straight man which serves both as a deeper look into his character and a moment for humour. Double that with a good response and it turns out even better at times! Other times his expression plus his thoughts will paint a different picture. He does a lot of staring off into space, so it helps to show what he thinks at times. I mean, there were at least three different points in this chapter where he was staring silently at something lol.
    That matter aside, there is the occasional moment where it switches to another, a little alike to USSR. Mainly during battles, or if someone needs to take the spotlight because they're away from the main team(see Robo's section in the 3rd room I believe). Same thing with the room with the pillar-perspectives switched between TJ and Curt as I saw it necessary, and I think it worked out quite nicely. In bigger groups though, it might be split among the characters within certain groups, or focus on one but keep the other nearby, like with Amata. That one could use some work, but as usual, it's a work in progress! We'll see how I fare on that as time goes on.

    Spells and Specialties:
    This is something I've given a lot of thought. In a lot of the things I've read the characters in it might have a few spells within their repertoire and count on those throughout their journey. This is something I feel should be applied here, but at the same time I just can't bring myself to do in its entirety. It shows a little bit, especially with TJ since he relies heavily on a certain set of techniques, as does Su at times-she's a bit more versed than he is, but since they share a lot of techniques you can find them doing some together. Of course, everyone has their own specialties so more often than not they won't rely on the same techniques/tactics because they prefer other means for doing things. Su for example still prefers close combat even while in the MoL form.
    Curt for example, on the other hand may be a Dagger TH but he doesn't use SP skills as frequently as others. He has his own style of doing things and his own unique techniques and reasons for using them. Most people wouldn't pick up a weapon they don't specialize with because they can't use their skills with them, and for Mages they likely can't use them for casting. Curt is willing to do so because well, he doesn't have just one specialty. I think he prefers being a jack of all trades, but will mainly rely on his knives/daggers/bombs so long as he has them on his person.

    Joint Techniques:
    This was something introduced before, kinda, and something I learned a bit more about after playing a fantastic game called Oreshika. How I utilize it here? It varies a little bit. On one hand, the cast can use the same skill to enhance the effect, like using an increased number or more powerful version of the Arrows of Light(like in the final chapter of Freq). On the other hand, in this chapter Su and Amata worked together to use the spell Molten Wave. This could only be done because the two of them were God's Governors of Earth and Fire. It was the first time I'd done such a thing, and in the future there might be more things like that. The first though id a definite yes! The idea of having those who are of the same element or have a grasp on light working together would be amazeballs. Still, I would like to work with that a bit more-it creates an interesting dynamic between the two. In the start they'd used it to compete against each other while also fighting off Agasura, and closer to the end they started to work together properly as a team and as allies. Perhaps in the future they might work together to do the upgraded version of the spells. Some will have different effects as the characters improve their mastery of the techniques at hand, and so on and so forth.

    Cerebians vs. Agasura:
    This isn't about the moral aspects of the conflict. Might do that later lol. This is more about their physical aspects. I talked a bit about the barrier yesterday and that got wiped too, but it's really important so I'll do it here. So with that said, only Cerebians have barriers. Choen Palm is an exception, but hers was not like their's(I mean, she was completely untouchable. If everyone could do that it'd be no contest)so...you know, I won't go into that. But anyway, the barrier is something that was once connected with the Cerebian Divinity, but through the ages became something they used to protect themselves, and eventually to use as a tactic in combat. Essentially, it acts as protection for them-it passively increases their resistance to both forms of attack, more so magical than physical attacks, but they're a lot tougher than your average human. Upon breaking it though, it'll take a fair amount of time for it to regenerate, but breaking it could be used for a myriad of different things. Trading protection for recovery, stasis, damage, etc. Very handy!
    On the other hand the Agasuras don't have a barrier, but their physical bodies are much stronger. It's like comparing the MoL and the TotM. One is more magic based and the other strength based. Agasura do have magical powers of course, not as well-versed as the Cerebians but they exist no less. Their natural tankiness allows them to shrug off most blows and rise again, while also allowing them to endure and resist weighty attacks. That aside, they have the ability to revive after being killed. Naturally, the makeup of the Agasura will vary depending on who and what they are. Take TJ(TotM form) and Avaritia for example. TJ lacks magic and speed, but makes up for it with incredible strength and enhanced power through stances(technically some were kinda like spells but you get the idea) while Avaritia is more agile and able with magic, but much more fragile than her sister's beastly counterpart. She can still take quite a few hits and keep fighting, but nowhere near as many as he could.

    Villains and Dialogue:
    I'd given a lot of thought to what I wanted Avaritia to sound like. Her old fashioned way of speaking is fitting of her image, but can be reminiscent of Peorth and Choen Palm. In spite of that I continued anyway. To offset this though, I wanted to give her character more of a shape beyond her sin. Her personality was built around it, greed serving as the base, but despite just being in the story temporarily I wanted her to have impact, and to really give TJ a reason to or not to fight her. Despite being enemies both sees the other as a comrade, and in turn want to help each other, but they still stand on their respective sides of the conflict because they aren't willing to betray the people that they believe in. In truth, she does seem a bit obsessed with him, and of course this was intentional. The reason being, is that she holds her family very dearly-I wanted her sin to extend beyond just a desire for treasure, since greed was much, much more than that, and in some cases this fact about her can be seen as both a good and a bad thing. In the eyes of one the former, and perhaps another the latter. Do you think she's a good person, or a bad one? Would you trust her?
    I have to admit though, writing the dialogue between the two was much harder than I expected! Even I cried a bit as I did it, and I don't usually get too emotional over my own work lol. Still, there was something about it that really immersed me in it, and I could feel for both of the characters. I knew how the battle would end, and it was painful to do so because both as a writer and a reader(through the eyes of TJ) Avaritia was a character who quickly grew on me, and her loving but misunderstood nature just broke my heart. She did what she thought was right, because that's what she was taught to do. Will we meet her again? Who could say for sure?(I mean I should be able to but that's no fun) So let's see what the future holds for her and the others.

    Potential spoilers ahead? Read at your own risk.
    The Sinners and being 3D:
    I guess I could have covered this there but this is important in its own right. It's more for the future, and a little about this chapter. Alike to Avaritia, I want the others to feel...unique. Not just in the sense of their sin, but how they act in spite of it. Their sin will be their defining trait, but not their only trait. They'll all have various feelings on their duties, and their own thoughts on the Abellan. Perhaps some will be more civil and actually talk things out like Avaritia did, or others would attack the moment they lay eyes upon him? When I started writing Avaritia I asked myself, "What if you could sit down and have tea with your arch nemesis? What would that be like?" That was the end result lol. She turned out pretty sweet for a girl hell bent on the destruction and renewal of the entire world. I feel confident about it though. She really feels like she's more than just her sin-that she really became a person despite being born from that very thing.
    On the other hand, since she mentioned the possibility of TJ being Luxuria, this one is gonna be a little tricky. In truth, I've thought a bit about how that would manifest and well...that's a steep slope lol. I usually tried to steer clear of anything too...sexual, in a sense, but to overcome that barrier might be necessary to really allowing growth for that side of the character. I still have to think about it and how far I'm willing to go-I promise, nothing too explicit! A certain God's Governor is still underage <3. Kidding! But it might get a bit more...Idk how to put it. Let's just say in the immortal words of Ringabel, "Let's get sexy!"

    New challenges to come:
    So the next step is gonna be a big one also. For the first time we'll be moving away from the main chapters and into the pages of Memorius Sanctum. As I mentioned before, they won't be anywhere near as long as a regular chapter, and will be contained together in a single chapter. Two stories will serve as one regular chapter, and the main story will pick up afterwards. Hence why it ended on a cliffhanger. Why is this going to be a challenge? This is where all of my hard work is put to the test. I'll be exploring the part of the world that I alone created. Most of the stories, if not all of them will take place before TJ's journey with Iris, and will often explore places like Asgard and other things you'll find out very soon. Not only that, it'll also introduce more characters to the cast, both new and old, some only mentioned or seen briefly before. To put it another way, I'm gonna have to build the world. There's gonna be a lot of lore incoming that might clear up some things, but add a lot of new questions so you better be ready! These are gonna be the big kicker. It's gonna be difficult, and I'll do my best to cover everything over the span of those chapters, but you'll have to forgive me if it's not fantastic. I'm still a little new to this, but I've come a long way since I started this project, and this is something I've been brainstorming for years, so hopefully I can do it justice now. I'll give it my all!

    So with that said, chapter four finally comes to a close with new bonds forged and the introduction of our eccentric God's Governor of Water. She'll come again eventually. As for me? Well...we'll have to see what the future holds. I'll be working a bit more frequently so the updates might be slower or have less content, but I'm gonna try and stay on top of it as best as I can. I'd always heard that authors often have to work second jobs while balancing their writing so I'll take this chance to see how I fare with both. School starts in september so I'll use this as a trial period to really challenge myself! Chances are I'll crash and burn but my tenacity is one of my strong points lol. Now if I could just get some of that optimism TJ has...
    Anyway that's all for this time. Until next time!
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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sat Apr 11, 2015 12:52 pm

    GAL and TAD Act 1:
    God Ah's Larghissimo: Act I-Industria
    Everything was dark-the world felt far away, and the sounds within it even further. Just where was TJ, and what was he seeing? Peorth and Kooh had vanished, as did the guild room, and he had not the foggiest what was occurring, and as if in response to his soul-searching a bright flash of light brought him an answer. As it faded away he began to see a world-one of trees and mountains, of lakes and blue skies, and of a land devoid of any human life, but full of plants and animals. The sound of beatings wings and the shadow that flew across the land with mastery and grace was what puzzled him even more so. To top it off, from the eyes of that very figure he had seen the world that swept by as it continued on to an unknown destination. From the ground up to the massive tree in the distance, TJ immediately felt he knew where he was, and where he was headed. After a brief while the figure eventually reached the world tree, and from just above the tree tops it shot upwards with ease to the crown of the tree, before flying towards it. Though he felt unsure, there was a very powerful energy emitted from the crown of Yggdrasil, and it was not the tree's own, but that of something far beyond anything that he could imagine.
    As the figure approached he could feel a sudden pressure as they pierced through what seemed like a rift in the reality, the air before him rippled like the waves of a pond and came to a still as he found himself in what seemed to be akin to an Instance Dungeon...but one that required no gate like many of the others. As his flight slowed down he caught a glimpse of a massive emerald crystal levitating in a field of grass as green as of that which covered the whole of Asgard. Next to it was an odd sight-a floating wisp of light, but a rather large one at that. He landed next to it and caught a glimpse of pearl white bare feet peeking out from beneath a sky blue dress. The slender legs and feet gave him the impression that whoever's body he was in was female, but he still had not the slightest clue as to who they were.
    “I have returned, your majesty,” She had said to the wisp of light. A voice as gentle as a breeze and that almost seemed to sing on every word left him speechless.
    Though he could not describe it, something in him said that the wisp of light had turned to him and nodded-he could feel a smile rising to his or her lips. Did he share in not only her memories, but sights and experiences? Was that wisp of light really what she had seen? “Excellent. It is good to see you again Amae.” The wisp answered before turning back to the crystal before it. At that moment the realization hit him-it was not the crystal that emitted that incredible aura-it was that wisp of light that levitated next to it. When it spoke, it sounded neither male nor female, nor with a tone that could beget any definitive conclusions to just what it was or what it stood for. All that he had to go on was the fact the two had an Instance Dungeon situated upon Asgard's World Tree. That, and that this was an existence that dwarfed his own by leaps and bounds-moreso than anything he has ever seen before, from Choen Palm to the Tyrant Vanir. The feelings he shared with her though, prevented him from being scared stiff.
    ...That, and the fact that the giant crystal floating next to them gave an eerily similar feeling to that which was embedded in his chest, and which Peorth had given him. Could it be that the two were once as one? It raised the question as to how he acquired it, and how it was placed in his chest. Perhaps here he would find out.
    “May I ask what this is, your majesty?” The lady inquired.
    The wisp looked up to the crystal and releases a lucent appendage to touch the crystal in a moment of thoughtfulness. “This crystal is a creation born from all aspects of the nine worlds, my mana and finally the memories of the World Tree itself. I have decided to name it the Heart of Yggdrasil. The lifeblood of the tree courses through it.” There was no doubt in his mind the two were the same. The creator of his crystal was an odd wisp of light and a rather freakishly tall lady.
    “Incredible!” Amae had said with a look of surprise. “What do you have in mind for it?”
    He could hear the wisp chuckle gently. “With this, I will pass on the knowledge of the Gods to Humanity. I had created them with the intention of them utilizing mana, but as of yet they have not discovered a way to utilize their latent abilities. Through this, perhaps they will come to realize their true potential? Alas, it is only a means to an end, but not a clear solution to the problem.”
    She placed a hand to her cheek with a worried expression. “How do you mean?”
    “Humans often have varying ways to come to an understanding on matters. They learn from their experiences and the feelings that get after them. If they are hurt, they will avoid that which hurts them. If they are hungry, they will hunt and gather. In this matter though, the challenge would be solving the matter of convincing them to come to understand and finding a reason and a use for their latent magical aptitude.”
    “I do not think it will take long for them to accomplish this task your Majesty. They are your creation, after all.” She beamed at him, and the warmth of her expression radiated throughout his entire face. What she had said was a rather bold declaration. If it had created humanity...could that mean that what she called 'Your Majesty' was God Ah?! TJ thought he would have heart palpitations if he was in his own body. He began to look at Su's predicament in a new light. “They have come so far, from living in caves and make-shift shelters to building homes and civilizations. They have discovered new ways to protect themselves and for something that they call entertainment. Their growth occurs much quicker than that of the other creatures upon Midgard. I believe that obtaining a mastery over their latent abilities will not be a problem.”
    “Their potential has proven to be infinite thus far...but very rarely have we ever interfered with their existence. The Derr Clan has done that on our behalf, and we have remained as figures existent within their minds, but not as physical beings in their realm. If they should turn to anyone should disaster strike, it must be within. We could quell a thunderstorm or calm the raging tides, but if we were to do so what of the future? I wish their growth to continue, and not be defined by a limit placed upon them by our known presence.”
    Amae clasped her hands together. “So you wish for them to learn to do just that? It could be dangerous-to have power over the elements is to have the power to change the world to what one sees fit. I will not doubt your judgement in the slightest, but I wish to know that you are positive this is what you wish for the world.”
    It looked away with a distant expression, perhaps gazing upon the world from far beyond with knowledge beyond that which just anyone could imagine. What was it that its eyes saw? “This is true. But that land is theirs. They are to do with it as they please, and they have done just that. Humans are that which will rise above all other species upon Midgard, and in doing so will create a hierarchy of their choosing. They will shape the world as they see fit, and those who they believe should be, will rise ever higher. I know what that will mean for their species, but that also is for them to choose. Perhaps I am not meant to interfere any further in their current affairs, but I feel that if anything this duty may be necessary in order to spur their growth on. To let them see a glimpse into the extent of their true potential...”
    “I know that you have their best wishes in mind. If there is anything that I can contribute to this cause, regardless of how little it may be, I will gladly provide.”
    The wisp offered her a weak smile, but shook its head and crossed its arms before turning to the lady before it. “I do not have a conclusive plan for this predicament currently, but I will persist nonetheless. Nevertheless, tell me Amae, what have your recent endeavours taught you about Humanity?”
    A bit of excitement welled up within-to share her knowledge with God Ah, despite the creator's omnipotent being was something that had become somewhat of a habit to her. She had met many fascinating humans and learned much about their ways during her visits to Midgard, but there was one that specifically caught her eye. “I had returned to the land of sand and water recently. The young Human female I had told you about prior, I had met with her once more. She had taught me about a Human creation that they call 'an instrument'. It is rather incredible really. It makes what they call 'music' when they pluck the strings upon it. It makes the loveliest sound at the touch of a finger...I wish that I could show it to you, your Majesty.” He raised an eyebrow as if amused by her excitement, and TJ felt even more puzzled because the creator still lacked a face, let alone a body to speak of-perhaps going by Amae's thoughts, it was proof that he had one at the time, but through her memories he could not look upon it. Just like with the man who may have been Asmodeus...or God Ah. Amae clasped her hands  together and closed her eyes before she gently hummed, her voice soft and loving, like a mother singing a lullaby to her child. TJ felt that same feeling he often felt before...nostalgia, but not accompanied by a memory attempting to resurface through the Frequency. The sound of her voice was one that he had heard recently...and the song that she hummed also; he searched through every memory that he could recall since his awakening, and it finally came to him.
    His dream on Toad Island-the person he saw in the memory had looked like Su, but if her eyes and hair were any indication, it was not her. The voice matched the one he heard now as did what she hummed, but this time around it sounded a little unrefined. Was Amae manifesting as Su in his dreams because he could not recall her image? But that did not explain why she had that same image during the Attack on Hanamah. That was without a doubt Su's memory, and one that he shared with her, but what was her relationship with Amae, and what was his? For that matter, just who in the world was Amae?
    God Ah looked on with surprise before a wide grin spread from ear to ear. “Wonderful, Amae. This is it. This is the key to teaching Humanity how to master their mana.”
    Her humming came to an abrupt halt and she gave him a puzzled glance. “This? How so?”
    “'Music' is something of Humanity's own creation. If they are to hear the sound of your voice in the form of music, they will be able to recognize the sound and tap into it through the Heart of Yggdrasil. This will be the final touch necessary in order to bring success to this endeavour. Let us begin right away Amae.”
    “Yes, your Majesty!” She enthusiastically answered with a wide smile.
    God Ah began to speak as he outstretched both hands, and Amae followed suit shortly after. As the two continued chanting, sky blue runic words began to manifest before them and circle around the crystal as a magic circle with a pentagram within took form beneath it, and five others of varying sizes appeared above it-the crystal began to emit a powerful glow before them.
    “Now Amae, do what you had done prior! The Heart of Yggdrasil will recall the sound!” God Ah told her.
    “As you wish,” She answered with an acknowledging nod.
    She began to hum once more and the writing increased as God Ah continued his chant, the words rising ever higher. Once her song came to an end they turned into a series of spheres of light, and the circles merged together upon each other, taking the spheres with them and sealing themselves within the crystal. The glow remained, and the ritual came to an end.
    “You have done well. I would like you to take this crystal to Xenadia. Inform the Messenger Seres of the song, and have her pass this knowledge on to the other worshippers of the holy grounds. Let them spread the word across Midgard.”
    “It shall be done your Majesty. Would you like to give this a name also?”
    God Ah rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “It would be for the best, would it not? Perhaps it would become easier for Humanity to call upon, and recall if so. Let us name it...Frequency. That should suffice.” TJ's spiritual jaw fell at the words that the creator had spoken. That was, without a doubt the very crystal that he used and which he tapped into for his power. Did that mean that humming that he had heard was what allowed him to do just that? The two had given his ability a shape, and though he had no body currently if he did, he would press his hands to the crystal-the thoughts of God Ah and Amae's union bringing about his existence, and the strength to become the world's Abellan.
    “As you wish.” Amae clasped her hands together bashfully, the thoughts of the young musician she met swirling about within. “I know that it is a selfish request that is unbecoming of me, as your Left Hand but...I wish to do something for Humanity also. To be more honest, for that one young female that is struggling.”
    God Ah gave her a curious glance. “What would that be?”
    “I would like to have an instrument made. I know not what I wish it to be but...I wish to assist that human in creating...music. She had said that she was having difficulties-I wish to learn from her, and inspire her. May I?”
    The creator was silent for a moment and she waited in bated breath for his response. “You need not ask me for permission. You are free to do as you wish-I shall not hinder you. But to do so, will you not create an instrument of your own? This is a power that both you and I share, but I feel that you excel with.”
    She smiled at his praise. “Thank you, your Majesty.” She clasped her hands together and a glow was emitted from within. Once she let go and spread them out, the glow became a sphere which eventually dimmed and revealed a snow white harp-the top corners were shaped like tiny wings and there was a gold finish where the strings were attached. Taking the instrument in hand, she tightly held it to her chest and smiled gently. “This is...my instrument.” She whispered softly. She released her grip on it and it was engulfed by another sphere, to which it disappeared and entered her chest. “I shall fulfill your request right away your Majesty. Humanity will prosper exponentially from your assistance.”
    At those words she stepped forward to the crystal and TJ got his first glimpse at Amae. The words 'goddess' could barely even begin to describe her. Her soft pale blue eyes and flushed cheeks-the loving smile she wore and the motherly and loving aura that she emitted-her long hair tied back by a single blue ribbon a much deeper green than the crystal itself. She had eight beautiful feathered wings that emerged from her back, and carried her here. He was at a loss for words to describe her, but she was without a doubt, someone or something that had transcended humanity, both in body and mind. Though TJ could not understand it, he felt certain that she was one of, if not the only being that could stand by God Ah. Perhaps it was due to his missing memories, but he felt that he knew of her, and that when he recalled her he would know who he truly was.
    With a touch a gentle glow surrounded the crystal and it steadily moved closer to her before coming to a halt a safe distance away. God Ah gave her an approving nod. “I should be the one thanking you. You were the one that gave them shape.”
    Her cheeks flushed a further red and she gave him her brightest smile. “If it is for you, there is nothing that I cannot do.” All of her wings raised, and with a powerful beat she shot up into the sky and broke through the Instance Dungeon's barrier. Now high above Asgard and looking upon the world before her, she looked to the sky and a rainbow beam of light rained down upon her-her body was engulfed in it and vanished as the beam followed shortly afterwards, leaving no traces of either having come or gone.

    TJ's sight vanished in a flash of light and he once more found himself in the body of another person, and another place. It seemed that the power of Memorius Sanctum extended beyond glimpses into the memory of one certain person-or at least he believed it to be one such possibility. That which he knew of the book was extremely limited, but the fact that it contained the memories of God Ah and his Left Hand, one such feat would be miniscule in comparison to the many great things the two had accomplished.
    The sound of the ragged breathing of a young lady brought his reverie to an end as through her eyes he could see a light descending from the sky, one a gentle blue and the other a bright green. Her focus turned back to where she was headed, and from all around he could see what seemed to be something akin to a giant temple or some such place-perhaps as big as if not bigger than the entire city of Elias. To make things even stranger, it was an island in the middle of nowhere, and she seemed to be frantically ascending it! Across grass-covered walkways and up a series of ladders, the young lady moved ever higher towards the pinnacle of the island, eventually reaching one last ladder with a sign and an arrow pointing upwards that read 'To Xenadia's Holy Place'. Swallowing hard and taking a deep breath, she carefully made her way up the ladder to the top.
    After climbing up a few short landings the young lady found herself before a tall tree that gave off an olive green aura-spheres of light fell from it silently. The entire place gave off an aura that seemed to be similar to that of the Divine, and it was so far from everything else it was filled with a calming silence. Here it felt as if Humanity was closest to the gods. Here was just the place that the two would be able to communicate. She knelt down before the tree and clasped her hands together as the blue wisp submerged itself in the tree and the crystal remained above it-with a flash of light the tree changed from green to a snow white with a blue aura and spheres of the same colour falling from the branches and leaves.
    “I am glad to see you in good health Seres.” The voice spoke-without a doubt it was Amae once more.
    “Thank you for gracing us with your presence once again Lady Amae.” Seres answered before bowing her head.
    “Please raise your head Messenger.” Seres did as the goddess requested. “I have come with a gift and a request of you from God Ah.”
    Seres nodded her head once affirmatively, both to say that she understood but also to make herself understand. It was very rarely that the gods would visit Xenadia, and even more so that they would come bearing requests of the Derr Clan and the acolytes of Xenadia. It was their duty to pass on the teachings they had received and build the ties between the gods and Humanity. She could and would not fail in this duty. “Ask anything of me Lady Amae. I will do everything in my power to see it through successfully.”
    Amae chuckled gently. “I have no doubts that you will succeed child. Do not be afraid. Alas, this crystal, the Heart of Yggdrasil is something God Ah would like to bestow on your kind. Through this, your clan, and their descendants will learn how to tap into the crystal, and use its energy in order to open the pathways within themselves, and master the use of mana and a power by the name of Frequency.”
    Seres bowed down once more. “Our gratitude for your generosity knows no bounds!”
    “We have you to thank as well for seeing these tasks through, and leading your clan in accomplishing them. Now then, I shall teach you that in which you need to know in order to call forth mana from the crystal. Are you prepared?”
    The young lady rose to her feet and took a deep breath. For her kind, and for the sake of the gods who looked over them from far above, she would accomplish this. “Yes. I shall follow your lead.”
    Through her voice, it sounded as if Amae smiled at the young lady's enthusiasm. “Then let us begin.”
    The crystal descended to the ground level and stopped next to Seres, before gently levitating and turning before it began to release a sound-the sound of Amae's voice as she sung the song during the ritual. Seres solemnly listened to the song as she looked at her reflection in the Heart of Yggdrasil. The young lady had shoulder-length chestnut brown hair and large blue eyes, a small mouth and nose, with delicate expressions. She wore the dark green outfit many of the sisters of Xenadia wore.
    She listened intently to the song, her eyes closed before she opened them once more at the end of it. “I think I have it remembered.”
    “Would you like to sing it back?” Lady Amae asked through the tree.
    “Yes. Please guide me, my Lady.” With a deep breath she repeated what she had heard, and though she may not have looked the part, her voice carried a tune that seemed impossible for anyone but the goddess, and the crystal reacted to her voice. It was no short song, so after a period her voice would falter, but she persisted nonetheless until she had mastered the song.
    “You have done well, Seres.” The crystal rose above the tree and remained stationed there. “I shall leave this with you. Should you ever feel the need to practice, you may come here to do so. I leave Humanity in your care once more, Messenger.”
    The young lady clasped her hands together as the wisp emerged from the tree and flew away. “I shall not fail you, Lady Amae!”

    In a flash of light TJ had returned to Amae, and saw as the wisp of light that she had become drifted down near the outskirts of a Desert town. Unlike the current and massive bustling city of Elfa, it was a small village not too far from the ocean, with buildings still under construction and much smaller and less grandeur than those that filled the city in his time. There were no tall domes or massive arches, and the city was not as colourful as it was. The ground was stone and cracked, and the buildings were worn down from being buffeted by sand but the city still seemed to see some prosperity in the face of hardship.
    Before entering the city Amae stood out of eyesight and clasped her hands together before spreading them out to both flanks. A gentle glow surrounded her and her outfit changed then and there. She held a hand out to the wall that was before her and a circle of light appeared before reflecting her in it. Her body became the size of a regular adult human, her eyes a dark brown and her hair a dark shade of brown-her entire appearance seemingly completely different from before. She now wore a desert cloak, sandals and a dress that covered the entirety of her body. She threw the hood over her head before giving herself an approving nod. As she turned away the light in the wall disappeared and it returned to normal.
    While she approached one of the village's entrances TJ let his thoughts wander. The ability to change her clothes, to create things at will and to even perform the relic recovery technique. She was without a doubt God Ah's Left Hand, and her power was unmistakeable. She had the power to give things form...one that he had never seen before. Was that something masters of the Divine Arts could learn? Or was that unique to the creator and Lady Amae? Though on the other hand, Su seemingly inherited her ability to change her clothes, but in a much more restricted form. He wanted to understand her, but unlike with the other memories he could not speak to her-only to see things in a way different than he was familiar with. He would have to see and ask in hope that someone would be able to offer him some answers to his predicament.
    The disguised Amae entered the village and TJ felt a bit nostalgic at catching passing glimpses of vendors in the street and others that set up a carpet or tarp and sold their wares there. The Desert village did not seem to have a market specifically, but did have a sort of bazaar, with many people, some travellers selling a variety of wares from the other cities and trading in all sorts of currencies while speaking in tongues that the Abellan had never heard of. The sight of shops with signs that hawked their wares thankfully, were universal. The goddess approached the armour shop and opened the door before greeting the armour smith in his native language. Though TJ did not understand a word of it since he did not speak it, Amae's memories seemed to answer what they meant before he could curse his lack of knowledge.
    “Good day Ezra. I hope the day finds you well.” Amae said with a polite bow.
    Hammering away at a piece of armour the armour smith turned to her. His skin was dark, hair cropped short and dark eyes cast an appraising gaze on her for a few moments. “Ah...you've returned nomad. I did not think I would see you again. There is not much in this village of ours, but visitors are always welcome. Have you come to purchase armour? You will not find anything like this in the whole of the Desert.” He said as he wiped his forehead with the sleeve of his copper shirt.
    Amae smiled politely. “Thank you, but I have no need for such items. Is your daughter present?”
    He seemed a tad disappointed in the response, but did not spend too long stressing over it. “Kera is in the back tinkering with her musical box as usual.” He sighed. “I know not who she expects to take up the shop when I have become too old, but she should really put more effort into her smithing and less into that box.”
    The goddess chuckled gently as she walked past and thanked him. There were a couple of rooms in the back where the two slept and a kitchen also. The hallway was dim, but she knew the young lady's room was the second on her left. Before entering she held her hands out and the harp that she had recently created appeared in her hands. When she reached the door she held out her hand and rapped on it a couple of times.
    “Yes? Who is it?” A young girl's voice answered.
    “It is me once more,” Amae's voice answered.
    “Nomad? Please, come in!” She sounded awfully excited to see the visitor. Perhaps they were rare in the village? Or she just found a friend to share her love of music with.
    Amae opened the door and in a small room with little in it sat a single girl upon a rather sturdy but also tough looking bed. She shared her father's skin tone, had her hair tied in a fountain-style ponytail and her head lowered as she quietly strummed the strings on what looked like a really old guitar. Though unsure if it were true, TJ's memories said it was called a chordophone? Or a lute? Despite her small build, her body was well toned-she wore a simple light brown t-shirt and a pair of hide shorts. Perhaps armour smithing had made her somewhat muscular like her father. Amae had focused on her fingers, many of them calloused from either wielding a hammer or from plucking the strings of her instrument.
    “I have been practicing quite a lot but I have not quite come up with something that would make for a good song. That is not important though. What brings you here today nomad?” Kera asked as she gently plucked the strings a few more times, repeating the process and changing the ending slightly. She pursed her lips with a hint of frustration whenever she had not reached the desired sound.
    “I had considered the possibility that you and I could perhaps play together? Together we may be able to complete your song.” The goddess answered with a smile.
    The girl looked at her with a twinkle in her eyes and a bright smile. TJ was at a loss for words, his thoughts raced, but not a single one was coherent in the slightest. “Really?! I would love to play with you nomad!” She scooted over and made space for Amae to sit down with her on the bed. “With your help I may yet become a Bard.”
    Amae beamed. “You will. I have no doubts in my mind.”
    As the two solemnly began to play TJ's mind calmed down and the chaos was quelled, but he was in absolute and total shock. That young girl-that aspiring Bard...that Human from another time, long before he even existed...
    Was him. Every feature, from her eyes to the contours of her face was his. But she was not him. He had the sneaking suspicion that he was her.

    The Asgardian Duet: The First Act-Diligence
    TJ sat in the chair of a kitchen inside a quaint little home. A couple of pictures were scattered about the walls, a single mahogany plaque with some writing that he could not understand, and he at the kitchen table eating a bowl of soup, made with tender loving care, courtesy of his guardian who was preparing more for any other visitors. She hummed gently as she stirred the soup within the pot and lifted the silver ladle to get a taste of it.
    She licked her lips and gave it an approving nod. “Mm...a pinch more salt should do just fine.” She washed off the ladle and rummaged through a cupboard of spices and other such goods before drawing the desired item and sprinkling some into the soup. She began to stir it again and the boy put a spoonful in his mouth-he could not recall the last time he had soup(his modern self) but it was without a doubt delicious and nutritious. “You know little one,” She began, and the spoon remained in his mouth as his eyes wandered back to his guardian. “It might be best if you were a bit more cautious of the royal guard.” Though she had her back turned to him, he had the sense that she was smiling nonetheless-she always did. She turned to him and just as he suspected she did just that-both her mouth and eyes, her soft gaze both embracing and embarrassing him. “I'll never understand why they are so against you and Princess Peorth being together but adults will be adults, I suppose.”
    She placed the lid on the pot and set the ladle aside before turning away from the stove and sitting in the chair across from him. His guardian was a country girl by the name of Yuna who ran a soup kitchen on the outskirts of Asgard's capital city. She was an average sized, slender girl with curly violet hair just barely tamed by a white bandana. She wore a yellow apron over a thick orange turtleneck sweater, crimson pajama pants and white bunny slippers.
    “They were the ones that brought you to Asgard and yet they seem to think of you as a bad influence on the Princess.” She huffed slightly. “It's rather a shame that you do not speak little one. I've not the foggiest where you came from or what your name is-but I always find you back here.” She beamed. “I'd never thought that I would find a child out here in the wilderness but there you were-face down in the dirt with a grumbling stomach.” She laughed gently. “You plan on visiting the princess again today don't you? Be sure to come back safely and not to be caught by the guards.” He finished his bowl of soup and gave her an approving nod as his eyes twinkled. “It was good huh? I'm glad to hear that.”
    She picked up the bowl and he hopped down from his seat to pick up a strunal mandolin with a leaf as big as he was tied around it. He lifted up the mandolin and slipped under the leaf before adjusting it. Just as he remembered himself from then, he wore the child-sized white gown, had his hair messy and short, and wore no shoes nor socks. His eyes had a shine to them that seemed to have dimmed over the years.
    “Before you go take this with you little one.” She offered him a small pouch that was closed with a drawstring. “In case you get hungry. Now, come and give me a hug.” She knelt down and he ran over into a warm embrace. “Have fun, and be safe okay?” She let him go and he scrambled for the door, before unlocking it and rushing out into the world. The sun shone down upon the house hidden behind a fortress of trees and he stole a glance back before waving with both hands to his guardian, who solemnly waved back.
    In truth, he seemed to lack expressions. Rather than in his face or his words(since he lacked them) he often expressed himself more through unusual actions. TJ cringed at the thought of what he would be like around Peorth, but felt a genuine curiosity what the young princess was like. He had caught a glimpse of the two in another memory, but he felt certain that he could speak...that is, before he exited that unusual gate he was in. Was Avaritia really sure that the Cerebians had something to do with his memory loss? If so, what could it have been?
    TJ sprinted through the forest with skill and speed,-he hopped over roots and dashed through bushes. As he ran through the forest he caught glimpses of all sorts of forest animals, but not any that were like those on Midgard, to a certain degree. There were rabbit-like creatures that soared like flying squirrels, bugs larger than a typical dog with more eyes than fingers he had, and other mystical four-legged creatures that galloped or grazed in the forest. Was that what Asgard was really like? His only memory of it was when it was at war-a blanket of destruction, death and fire razed the lands, and no such creatures would be found on it. He felt a pang in his heart-this was the world he had failed to save. Could things ever be the same after what had happened?
    The child broke free from the forest and followed a dirt road that lead right to the heart of the capital. Despite running for such a long period he did not seem tired out, and continued down the road as other travellers made their way also. Some rode on caravans pulled by fur-coated four legged beats, sporting tusks that protruded from within. Others walked while carrying rucksacks bigger than they were and some sporting a myriad of magical weapons while some were familiar to those on Jienda. As he neared the outer walls of the city he turned to see the guards that stood sentry at the entrance he had his eyes on and took a detour away from the main path. Over the wall he could see the city rising ever higher, and at the heart of it the World Tree standing tall and proud amidst the homes and shops of the people of Asgard. He came to an eventual halt at the wall and looked around cautiously before sidling along it towards a small patch of grass and leaves against it. He crouched down and pulled them all away, revealing a hole big enough for a small child to fit into, and immediately scrambled into it. After crawling around for a good ten to fifteen seconds he emerged on the other side of the wall and shook the dirt out of his hair before dusting off his gown. He was certainly resourceful in his younger days-if he could he would give himself a pat on the back.
    The boy continued on towards the nearest house, seemingly avoiding the main roads that had a multitude of people and guards meandering through it. Placing himself against the wall he moved across it slowly before glancing around the nearest corner and deeming it safe enough to proceed. He broke out into a sprint down the cobblestone street and dove into an alleyway at the sound of a couple walking and talking. He remained hidden in the darkness next to a wanted poster with his face plastered on it, and though he had not the foggiest clue as to how much or just what currency it was that was on it, it definitely seemed to be a rather hefty amount. When the two had passed he glanced out once more and continued on, moving from one side of the street to the next, hiding within alleyways to be seen and heard as infrequently as possible. The sounds of the bustling people making their way to the upper echelons of the city caused him to remain on guard, but his journey would only get more difficult as he moved further in. He heard the sound of someone exiting their home as he moved forward and dove into another alleyway-the sound of something weighty being moved, perhaps trash immediately had put him on his full guard and he knew if he was to stay he would be in a predicament. Stuck between the city's wall and running into that person, he could only go up. He clenched his fists and two tiny wings spread out from his back before he turned to the wall. He sprinted towards it and ran a couple steps up the wall before leaping away from it, and rapidly fluttering his wings to give him some extra height. He grabbed on to the eaves of the roof and pulled himself up just barely, then let out a gentle sigh.
    “Did you hear something?” The man carrying the trash asked.
    “It's just your imagination,” A lady answered.
    He was safe, for now. He looked upon the world before him, and noticed that he was not far from the inner wall of the city. After that there would be only one left, and from there to ascend Yggdrasil. He took a deep breath and dashed across the roof before taking a leap. He was quick and light on his feet, and with the help of his wings he could make the jumps with ease-but even so he still had to move cautiously in case someone caught a glimpse of him. He made his way towards the wall and jumped with all his might, which lead to a direct collision with it, but not one that would stop him. He flapped his wings as he struggled to climb the wall and finally managed to pull himself up. The distance between the wall and the next set of houses was far too great for him to leap across again. He turned around and hung from the edge of the wall before convincing himself to release, then desperately flapped his wings before he landed against the ground. His body remained frozen in place as the vibrations of the landing surged through him, and he collapsed to his side.

    After a couple of minutes his body finally recovered and he managed to rise again. He steadily made his way forward into the street, and glanced around from the safety of the darkness. Though they were only side streets, the inner city ring was smaller than its outer counterpart, and thus the people and locations were much more tightly packed together. Luckily for him some alleyways were much easier to traverse, only blocked off by fences of wood and iron-the former much easier to climb over, but much more painful when he underestimated them. The sounds of a caravan passing through the streets and a pair of women gossiping caused his ears to perk up.
    “Flying Squirrelopes for sale! Get 'em while they're nice and hot right here!” The voice of the vendor called out.
    TJ's current self felt a hint of disgust at the idea of eating those mysterious creatures. Perhaps they were the equivalent of eating a cow or a fish on Jienda, but he could not bring himself to find that appealing by any stretch of the imagination.
    The boy tiptoed through the alleyway and put his fingers through the holes of a fence before he climbed it and hopped to the other side. He now at the back of a house and the vendor steadily moving towards the front, he saw an opportunity to make a move. Stuck between a wall and the fence he just climbed, he was reluctant to climb the roof-it would allow for him to be easily spotted by anyone below. He would just have to stay out of sight. The sound of the wheels turning sent his mind into overdrive and he decided to act quickly and decisively. He stormed towards a pair of garbage bags and used them to give him an extra boost-he leapt from the pile and grabbed on to the railings of a balcony before awkwardly swinging across them to align himself with the oncoming vendor. As he saw the vehicle come into view he leapt towards it, his wings fluttering rapidly and allowing him to land with grace and little noise-the pitter-patter of his bare feet barely sounded across it as he leapt from it to the other alleyway and grabbed hold of a ladder to climb up and jump to the other side of the wall.
    TJ was a tad closer to one of the main streets, and this one was bustling with people. In the past he was able to slip through the crowds without drawing too much attention to himself, but that also was a rather risky thing to do. His short stature did not draw much attention to him, thankfully. He caught a glimpse of an old, tattered hoodie thrown out amidst other trash and pulled it from the bin to disguise himself with it. It was much bigger than he had expected, and covered his entire torso and up to his knees, but it would have to suffice. He made his way into the streets, his peripheral vision blocked by the hood but his eyes remaining set on moving ahead. He could only see the legs and bottom half of the torsos of many of the people he bumped into and scrambled to avoid, but he still managed to make his way through the street with relative ease.
    “Watch where you're going kid!” Someone hissed at him after he ran into their legs and nearly knocked them over.
    “Where are your parents? Are you lost?” Another asked with a worried expression.
    He shook his head and immediately set back out on his journey. Though it was tough to see he eventually came across a line-up of people waiting to get past the next checkpoint. He broke away from the crowd and made his way to one of the far ends of the walls, and arrived at his destination but found nothing there. The tunnel he had created previously had been discovered and filled. He turned his focus back to the people clamouring in the streets and at the gate and saw his opportunity there. Amidst them there was a caravan, and with the back wide open he could stow away within and get past the gate. He would just have to avoid being seen in the act, and more so caught after hiding within. He stepped out and walked along the street in the flow of people as he glanced around for a way to draw their attention. He caught a glimpse of some colourful birds nestled upon the eaves of a house and grabbed a rock as he continued to walk. He broke away from those heading towards the outer gate and joined those going in the opposite direction, his target in sight. He threw the rock with all his might and burst out into a sprint, eyes turning to him before they moved to the beating of wings and birds taking flight. He vaulted into the caravan and lifted the nearest box he could reach before climbing inside and hiding himself amidst the straw within, holding a jar more valuable than his life. He shifted it around so that he could reach the bottom  and held the jar above his head to hide his hair. Muttering filled the crowd for a couple moments to break the silence for the usual uproar followed after. Shortly after the caravan moved forward and the voices of the guards made him realize that his time was indeed nearing. If he was caught now, he would definitely be in hot water.
    “Halt there traveller. We need to inspect your vehicle before you go any further,” One of the two guards said.
    “O-oh yes, of course. I am sure that you will find everything in order,” The merchant responded.
    The footsteps of the guard followed around the side of the caravan and the sound of his metal greaves against the wood of the caravan made TJ's heart race. One by one the guard inspected the various boxes, each creaking and showing their age, and after a brief while he came to the one the child was hidden in. The light that shone within sent chills down his spine and his hands nearly started to tremble, but he remained still as a statue, his breath held for so long without preparation he feared he would find a way to suffocate himself. With a low grunt the guard close the box and eventually made his way across the others before stepping down and returning to his post. TJ let out a sigh of relief as the caravan started to move  again into the innermost areas of the city.
    He slowly and carefully opened the box to peek out and see if it was safe to come out. This area was where much of the nobility resided, and those with enough power to rub elbows with the most famous of people in Asgard. His disguise would do him no good since rarely anyone would wear such shabby clothes in this portion of the city, so once he deemed it safe he climbed out of the caravan and tossed it away. He took cover in an alleyway and gave himself a few moments for his heart to calm down. The area had fewer civilians, but an even greater number of guards that patrolled the streets. If any of the nobles saw him, they would not hesitate to call the guard on him, and they would all be on their guard. Seeing Peorth would be absolutely out of the question at that juncture. There were fewer alleyways and much more privately-owned land, which added even greater dangers and higher fences to climb. He took a breath. He had done this before, and the path he had mentally mapped out had yet to fail him. Perhaps he could rely on it once more?
    He meandered off towards another patch of land near the wall's limits and lifted up a hunk of dirt from the ground. He quietly climbed into the hole and pulled the dirt back over to seal it back before he began to crawl again through a tunnel. It was dark, rather muddy and though he had not the foggiest of where in the area he was exactly he knew where he would reach his destination by one very specific fact. He would run into a wall, and he did just that. He raised both hands skyward and pushed the plot of dirt aside to climb out of the hole and replaced it shortly after. He wiped the dirt from his face and glanced around the area before his eyes locked with a pair of nobles having tea in a gazebo in their garden. Both looked horrified at the sight-his eyes did not move in the slightest, but his mouth opened ever so slightly. Unease washed over him.
    The noble rose to his feet and shouted, “Guards!”
    His wife stormed away from the gazebo as she screamed about an intruder in their garden.
    He had come so far, and yet he was caught. He would have to move quickly. He ran towards the nearest hedge and saw a series of beautiful flowers growing in it. His current self recognized them-blue roses, and quite a lot of them at that. He leapt through the hedge and fought past branches and vines, emerging on the other side with cuts all across his arms and legs, and his gown ripped slightly, but he still persisted. He broke out into a sprint and turned the corner of the nearest hedge before making his way towards the fence and scrambling to the top. Once he reached the other side he climbed down until he reached a safe distance and jumped, landing safely and tumbling before rising to his feet and continuing with a sprint. He scrambled up a deck and climbed to the roof of a house before jumping from there and landing on a rope that was tied to a series of poles that lined the streets, each with a series of decorations from a recent festival. He nearly lost his balance but managed to continue along it, remaining out of the reach of the guard that pursued him from below. As he continued on he glanced down upon them once more with trepidation, and his foot slipped.
    “Everyone your priority is to get the child alive! Don't let him escape!” The leader shouted to his other members. The boy removed his guitar from his back and closed his eyes tightly as his mouth opened slightly, a long drawn out note escaped his lips as he opened his eyes, both flickered to a deep blue. With a strum of his guitar his barrier manifested and stopped him before he hit the ground while forcing the surrounding guards away.
    “M-magic?” One of them asked as the child was lifted to an upright position.
    The barrier sparkled and took the form of a transparent golden sphere that surrounded his entire body. With another strum of his guitar it seemed to melt away and gather at his back as the guards began to approach, his eyes set on the World Tree. The traces of the barrier like tiny stars surrounded the child and gathered to his wings before causing them to shine a bright gold and release a ring of light that dazed everyone nearby. At that same moment he shot off into the sky and soared towards the tree, his body steadily descending as he neared it. Though still far from it, he landed in one of the side streets and continued sprinting from there, eventually emerging from the final ring of the city and making his way up the rolling hill towards where the Princess waited.
    Most of the guards stationed around the tree had made their way down to quell the commotion, but not many stood around the surrounding areas of the trunk. Typically, one would follow the path directly towards Yggdrasil, since the palace managed a portal that would take one directly to the top. Attempting such a feat as a wanted criminal would easily end with him being caught, since it was heavily guarded on all sides. He instead opted out for making his way up the hill in a rather roundabout way to avoid detection, and climbed the tree from the back. The bark was tough on his hands, and the nearest branch was quite the distance away from him but he persisted nonetheless. Little by little he progressed ever higher, before finally reaching the first branch. Giving himself a moment to catch his breath he grabbed hold of the tree and began to make his way up again.

    When he had finally reached the top the sky was dyed red and the sun was setting over the horizon. He would make it before nightfall. If it was him, he could do it-he believed that with all his might. Upon reaching the crown of the tree he glanced up before him, obscured by the branches he could see a myriad of flat bridge-like branches that lined the crown of the tree, and at the heart of it all an ornate silver gate with blue crystals embedded in the top of it. The Instance Dungeon that housed the manor that the princess he sought out resided in. He eyed the walkways and caught a couple of guards nearby across some of the others, but deemed his safe to cross. There were a myriad of them, all branching out to different ones leading to different places, some going over and under others, which made traversing it both difficult and amusing-mainly the former for those who patrolled, and the latter for the child.
    TJ beat his wings as rapidly as he could before he leapt up to the bridge and landed light before going prone and making his way across, remaining hidden behind some of the giant leaves of the World Tree. It was a tad painful to do the action, since the nails on both his fingers and toes were damaged when he climbed the tree, but a small matter like that would not hold him back. He had come this far after all-he would persist no matter what it took. He ascended the walkway until he came on to a level where he could see all those that patrolled the others, and they him. The two he had been watching had their backs turned so he rose to his feet and moved forward quickly, then leapt to another walkway a short distance away from him, and a tad closer to the Instance at the heart of all of them. His wings began to flutter and he jumped a short distance to land on another before leaping up to the one above him. If he took that path, he would only have to make two short jumps to reach the final landing where the Instance was. He managed to pull himself up and caught one of the guards turning around. He only had a couple of seconds before the guard would lay his eyes on him.
    The boy closed his eyes and muttered a couple of words before a tiny sphere of light emerged from his finger and shot towards the guard before bursting in his face and blinding him temporarily. The boy rose to his feet and jumped down to the next one before laying his eyes on the Instance Dungeon, currently guarded by a tall man and a young girl, the former clad from head to toe in armour in the palace's colours, and his companion wearing light leather armour. He a sheathed sword and shield on his back, and she a small wooden buckler and her a silver ball mace.
    The young girl turned to him and her eyes widened for a moment. The bright blue irises shifted from him to her parent and as she tugged at her father's arm her snow white hair shifted and brushed against her face. “Dad! Dad! Look! It's God's Governor Alvaro!” She shouted with urgency, pointing in the opposite direction of TJ.
    “R-really? Where?” He glanced off into the distance as he asked that question, and in response she hopped onto his back and pushed the visor of his helmet down. She leapt from his back and waved TJ over, offering a hand to pull him up as he jumped to reach where they were. With a single solemn nod he turned away from her and entered the gate as she waved and smiled. “Honestly Velvet, you know you shouldn't be playing around when we're on duty.”
    She chuckled as she rubbed the back of her neck. “Hehe sorry Dad.”
    He knit his eyebrows. “No more of that okay? You can do it when we get home as much as you like.”

    TJ found himself on the other side of the gate, and his mind was abuzz. To think that he could utilize the Frequency prior to meeting Su, and regaining his memories...he found it even stranger that though he did not, or potentially could not talk, he was still able to perform incantations. Though then unlike now, he did it through what seemed to be a song...did he tap into his powers the same way that Amae and God Ah had made for the use of Humanity in the previous memory? His past self was a greater enigma than he could have imagined, and the further the memory went on the more puzzled by himself he felt.
    The light began to fade and the boy gazed upon a garden that challenged visitors to find their way through a maze of hedges in order to get to the castle. Even if there were intruders, the guards that patrolled here too would likely find them before they could step anywhere near the castle. TJ moved forward into the maze as he recalled the pathways he had followed before. He immediately came to a fork and took a left, stopping somewhere within the path and placing his hands in to the hedge. As he pulled them apart a way for him to pass opened and he stepped through. He ran right towards a dead end and did the same thing, then reached the other side. He walked cautiously, and stopped before turning at the next fork. He spotted a clear path and continued onwards he turned another corner and saw a river that had a small bridge that towered over it, and upon the other side was a guard who had his back turned as he scouted the other direction. TJ moved as quickly and quietly as he could before he slipped into the water and paddled his way around the path the guard watched over. Luckily for him the river flowed through a tiny tunnel that lead further into the maze. Once again he was submerged in darkness as he made his way across, but he could see the light on the other side.
    Upon reaching it he climbed out and shook the water off of him before he moved forward once more. He climbed through another part of the edge and uneasily tiptoed away from a guard who had just turned a nearby corner. He opened another path and glanced up to see the castle just on the other side of the hedge. He walked a few minutes to the right and eventually came to the exit, designated by the plastic arch that invited guests. He glanced around the corner and spotted two guards chatting away. He made his way back and moved a fair distance away before searching the hedge for a place he could climb through. Most of it had too many branches that would get in his way, but time was ebbing away and he did not want to spend the rest of daylight searching for a way through. He awkwardly clambered past branches and leaves and came out on the other side, closer to one of the ends of the castle.
    The sounds of battle caught his attention and he made his way around to see what was going on. There was a swordsman training warriors near the castle in a small arena of dirt. Most of them young boys and girls on the cusp of becoming teenagers, wielding wooden swords and shields and battling it out. TJ looked on in awe, and amidst them there was one that he recognized-both past and present versions of himself. Without a doubt it was Straw Hat, clad in leather armour just like the others and duking it out with one of the other boys. When he had disarmed his opponent he took off his helmet and grinned before helping the boy to his feet. As he went to reclaim it, he caught a glimpse of TJ watching the others and approached his teacher. The two spoke for a couple of moments and the teacher made an angry expression before scolding the boy and sending him off. He came around the corner and approached TJ.
    “It's you again. I'm surprised you made it here without the guards catching you!” He grinned a toothy grin, one of the many missing. “The princess has been looking out the windows all day. She's probably waiting for you to show up.” He smiled. “She'll be happy to see you, but definitely mad that you're so late.” He wiped his forehead with his arm and sighed. “Anyway, I opened one of the windows so you could get in without having to get past the guards. I can give you a boost up there if you like, but you're gonna have to jump. You're not scared are ya'?” TJ rapidly shook his head. “Good. Better get a running start, and do it quickly!” Straw Hat stepped with his back to the wall and cupped his hands together while TJ took a few steps back. He sprinted towards the young man and placed a foot in his hands before the warrior hurled him up to the window, a look of surprise filled his eyes before he covered both. “And borrow some panties from the princess will you?!” He hissed under his breath.
    As he scrambled up the window sill and into the castle, his modern self remained silent. He had no comments for what had occurred, but he prayed with all his might that he would forget it. He found himself in the castle's corridor, magnificent paintings were interspersed across the walls and the floor had busts, statues and suits of armour once worn in the past and now solemnly stood sentry protecting the current generations of the royal family. A crimson carpet with gold lining was spread out across the whole corridor and magnificent chandeliers hung from the roof-some gold, some silver and some with more unusual designs, such as a tree shape. He silently made his way down the path, glancing around at the faces that looked back at him-people he had never seen before, perhaps heroes of old and previous generations of Peorth's family. But he was not here for them-he had come to see the princess and that was all.
    The sound of a door opening nearly caused him to jump out of his own skin but did cause him to take cover behind a bust and the pedestal it rested upon as one of the caretakers of the castle walked by muttering obscenities about the head chef. As the danger passed he re-emerged and pressed onward, eventually moving to another part of the corridor that looked much more familiar. At the other end of the hall he saw a pair of maids walking through and he immediately hid at the side of a suit of armour. As they approached he walked around from the side to the back to remain out of their view as they walked and talked.
    “...has been studying very well.” One of the two said.
    “The girls have been working very well together. Freya seems to have a better grasp of language than her sister though...” The other replied.
    TJ ignored the conversation and went on, quickly and quietly. He passed by a myriad of doors, and though he had not the foggiest what awaited within he knew the princess' room was nearby and he was determined to get there. After a while of walking down the hallway he turned one last corner and saw the door to where she was.  He swallowed hard and made his move. Upon reaching the door he opened it quickly and carefully before getting in and closing it after him.
    The room was everything he could imagine it to be-a lovely canopy bed with transparent blue curtains, a wall with a picture of the previous queen upon it, a desk fit for a princess and a comfortable chair to accompany it-with said princess sitting upon it wearing a surprised look to boot. A bookshelf with a variety of books ranging from politics to royal etiquette, and even a love seat for her to spend some quality time with her parent.
    Peorth herself wore a dark green gown with gold trimmings and the Asgardian herald emblazoned on the back. Upon her head was a golden coronet with a sapphire embedded in it, and upon her hand a ring that her mother had given to her-a family heirloom. The young girl's piercing sapphire eyes appraised him for a few moments, and his deep brown eyes stared back blankly.
    “You've...you've come! I hadn't thought I would see you since the guards last took you away but you are still well! This is good news!” She excitedly said as she approached him and took his hands. “But you are hurt all over, covered in dirt and you even have leaves in your hair.” She reached out and picked the leaves before tossing them away. “I envy you a little bit...” She said before holding her hands out to him. A gentle glow surrounded them and was transferred to him, healing his wounds slightly. “I too, would like to leave the castle and see the city without an escort. To go on exciting adventures like you have...but my studies are important also. Thanks to them I can heal you like I did now...and I've learned what the roles of a princess are and how to act and speak with grace, among other things. I'm sure you have your share of difficulties also...but I do envy you.” She shook her head. “Let's not talk about something so negative, shall we? So, pray tell, have you been practicing? I would love to hear you speak for the first time!”
    The boy nodded affirmatively and her eyes twinkled.
    “Really? Have you had any success thus far? How many words have you learned?”
    He stared at her blankly and her expression clouded over slightly.
    “Is that so? Quite the shame but it is not your fault. Since you've come all this way I shall teach you! I feel that we were rather close to success upon your last visit, so shall we try again?” He nodded and she smiled. “Fantastic! Then let us begin.” She took his hand and sat him down next to her on the couch. “Let's start with my name then. Say it with me: Pay-orth. Simple, no?” His mouth opened slightly but nothing came out. “Once more. Pay-orth.”
    He opened his mouth again and his lips formed the words, the first of the two sounded. “P-pay...”
    The princess looked ecstatic. “I knew you could do it if you tried! You are so very, very close! Do not give up yet!”
    For the first time his expression actually changed. His eyes sharpened, he looked focused and his eyebrows were tightly knit. The moment of truth was rapidly approaching. “Pay...Pay...”
    “Yes, yes almost there! Just a little more!”
    He clenched his eyes tightly and his fists also, the princess looked like she was going to fall out of her seat due to sheer expectation. “Pay...” He took a deep breath-she waited in bated breath. “Pe-pe.” He finally said and his expression defaulted.
    “...Hmm?”
    “Pe-pe.” He answered.
    She was smiling. The current TJ wanted to karate chop his past self for that embarrassment. The look on Peorth's face was indeed a smile, but it was oddly devoid of joy. The aura she emitted was intense enough for him to feel the disappointment in the air.
    Suddenly she let out a chuckle and the tension seemed to fade. “You are quite the character. Perhaps it might be a little too soon for you to learn to speak again, but we will do our best together. I know that you can do it...I've heard it myself after all, and I won't give up on you because you are a dear friend to me. That and...” She shook her head, her vigour renewed, she looked at him with a glint in her eye. “A princess is an important figure to the people! I will see this as practice for my duties also! Come, come sit here. I shall teach you everything from the ground up! Oh but this is a little advanced...” She sat him down in the chair at her desk and hurried over to her bookshelf before pulling a myriad of books from it. As he watched her excitedly prepare for their study session, his vision slowly blurred and faded away, returning TJ to his body in the current time.
    avatar
    TJ

    Posts : 873
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 24
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sat Apr 11, 2015 2:23 pm

    Ah! My Goddess!:
    So for the first time we step into Asgard long before the Cerebians inherited it, and it became the world that you see in TAD. Just so there isn't any confusion and because of the funky spelling, Amae's name is pronounced 'Ah-my-eh' strange as it may be. But what isn't strange about those two?
    So a bit about this! Truth be told, the existence of Amae is something from a looooooong time ago. Well in truth an idea that had never quite come to fruition for something I'd written long ago. Originally she was actually meant to be an AI! But there was no God Ah to accompany her. Let alone an Asmodeus now that I think about it...maybe him, can't remember now. Been far too long. Point is, she's a goddess now, and one that created a heck ton of stuff. But also something else! Har, but I won't tell yet. You'll find out later. Or maybe you could guess it?

    I'd thought a long time about what I wanted God Ah to look like-on one hand I'd thought about giving him a human shape and having it appear there but in the same vein, I was conflicted on just what he would look like. I mean, when it comes to gods and goddesses often times they have a very...godly feel to them. Though considering what I know about him, there's a lot that I couldn't show that would give away more than I wanted to about him. It'd be kinda weird if he became a shadowy figure or something like the person in Avaritia's memory, both in the symbolic sense and the whole feel of the current memory. Also I've been practicing my symbolism! Hell yeah!
    Back on topic, I made him a wisp of light both as a censor(Sometimes you can't lay your eyes on an omnipotent being even if you're his right hand man. Har!) and also to give me some time to finalize his design. In truth, though that is a part of the reason, I also did it because it adds an air of mystery to the existence that is God Ah. Amae's thoughts give the idea that he, or it is a physical being likely with humanoid aspects. On the other hand, it doesn't specify exactly what he looks like. He could have six eyes or four arms or be a giant woman for all we know. (I've been watching a lot of Steven Universe. A lot a lot. Hence the giant woman that's Amae. I like the idea! Seems more goddess-esque to me. Well that's one of the two things that come to mind-that, and death by snu-snu.) I do have a rough idea of what I want God Ah to be like, but I can't go into that! For now we've learned a bit about him, about her, and that the two created the Frequency.

    On to Amae, her design isn't finalized. Atm it's still kinda bland. Her characteristics will remain the same, but I'll likely fix up her outfit and what accessories she wears and whatnot. That part was a bit of a rushed job because I knew given the time I'd spend a good hour or two just looking up accessories and clothing articles until I coordinated the perfect look. It happened with Avaritia. It was a nightmare. She was there for like 10 pages! Can't blame anyone for that, though, but I am a tad frustrated about it. ANYWAY there's something about her and Su. If you've already read 'A Moment in Time' you already know what their relationship is, for the most part, and I don't plan on changing that much in the future. I might tweak the dialogue so the canon isn't all over the place but for the time being you can consider what you know about those two and the events from TJ's perspective and make some conclusions! When it comes to her, and moreso the story as a whole, music plays a big part. Here and now you see where it begins, why and how.

    Did things about that ritual look familiar? There's something odd about those two. On that topic though, I'm still debating on whether or not I want the final product to be named Frequency by them, or if I want it to be something else but still have the same effect. Maybe something more old-fashioned would be fitting for them, and it wouldn't seem as forced? Perhaps it's just me but it does give a bit of that feeling currently, so I might change it later. The idea will remain linked as is, just a different name-more tweaks for AMiT too. Though like TJ had thought, that is indeed his gem. If he was to try and fit that in his chest well...he'd fit quite nicely inside of it. He's got a piece of it, the lucker!

    Anyway, for the first time we're introduced to Seres. Doesn't belong to me of course. In Frequency she's a part of the Derr Clan, or in a very strange sense the Head of the clan. She's the only one who can go to Xenadia's Holy Place to communicate with the gods, and as you can see she communicates with Amae through the tree at the top of it. Here, just as TJ saw with God Ah she can only see a wisp of light, though Amae did become one to speak to her through the tree, she didn't stay as one throughout her travels. Seres' design also isn't entirely complete-I want her to look a bit more like she does in-game, but not entirely because
    This is a Spoiler. Somewhat:
    it takes place before she transcends her humanity and becomes the goddess of Xenadia. Just like in the game! Potential foreshadowing. Shhh!
    Anyway, I'm gonna fix that up a bit a little later too. I was thinking of having her descend Xenadia to meet with some of the other members of the clan to discuss the matter a bit, but it would be pretty brief, since it would just be shared knowledge among them, and in terms of the story repeated info. Unnecessarily so. I mean, it did just happen.

    Just for clarity's sake, for Humans to tap into their mana they need not know the song, or how it's sung like TJ does in TAD. They just have to listen for the sound-it's like listening for certain instruments in a song, or more specifically tuning a radio. You turn that knob until you get to the station you want and bam! Music that you like! Or something. In this sense, they need to listen for the sound of her voice-her song, that is, and when they've become in tune with it they would use it as a conductor to refine their mana and channel it, then create a spell. What TJ does in TAD is a second but much more complex method, because he actively does what Amae does in order to activate the Frequency-he could always perform the technique, and he knew how before he had lost his memories. He didn't use the Order Frequency much in the first book because he didn't know how to make use of it, among other things, but he always had the ability to just like the others. Just needed some more mastery and to recall the spells.

    So Amae can transform-typically an Agasura ability, but this is not in the same sense. It's more of a disguise than a complete transformation. If she really wanted to she could change her shape for battle and other such things, but that's very unlike the Cerebians, and by extension her. Or perhaps vice versa? Anyway here we're introduced to two new characters, Ezra and Kera, and also Elfa looooong before it became Elfa. The name of the village might be changed, depending on if I feel like it, but it does become that very city in the future. The same with the Instance Dungeon atop Yggdrasil-but I do consider having it just as a castle in the tree's top. I'm still debating that one. As for Kera? Legend in the making. Is she TJ, or is TJ her? You'll definitely see her again.

    Next up we have TAD with the introduction of Yuna and little TJ. Like they had said, he didn't talk much. Or ever. Didn't bother most of their friends though, or Yuna. As for her, her design was quick and easy because I just thought of the kind of person she was. It all just seemed really fitting for her-casual and easygoing, but very thoughtful of those around her. The soup kitchen is inherited, but she's used to all the going-ons in it and managed to get the grasp of running it quickly after her parents had retired. She's still pretty young, roughly in her late 20-early 30s at the time. There are other houses in the general area, but they're far and few between. The capital city isn't far off, after all. I was conflicted between having her name be Yuna or Una, but I decided on the former. Una reminds me of Unas...and that's weird. I'm not down with that.
    Anyway, TAD, this time around was mainly focused on TJ's journey to getting to Peorth. Originally I intended for it to be a lot shorter-it'd mostly be him traversing the Indun where the manor was, and trying to get past the guards within. The time between the two would've been a bit longer to make up for it, but I wanted to establish the world more and his character through his journey-since he never spoke, it'd be hard to really address his character's traits at the time when it would be just him and Peorth, since in this memory they aren't doing much. It might've turned into an exposition-fest, in the worst way possible. Usually that and Peorth go hand in hand, but the reason for that is because she's knowledgeable about things most people wouldn't be-she sees it as both a hobby and a duty. It's a major part of her character because she takes her role that seriously, and the fact she had done it before Freya's passing shows that she was already taking precautions in case she did have to succeed her sister. She's a hard worker. Anyway, I wanted the kingdom to feel as big as it was, and so I'd broken it up both as a reason to separate the different ranks of society(nobility and such) and also show how the place ascended further to the top, from the masses to the royalty. It's difficult, but perhaps I did okay in handling that. One more challenge to the list, one more thing I want to improve on.

    Back to the topic at hand, the TJ then still had his wings(no contract, but the lack of a guild did not apply to him for this very reason) but he still couldn't fly. These ones worked differently than his current set. As for the difference, I've considered the possibility that they vary by age, by the owner, and work differently depending on that. If his current wings were like that of a bird, those in his youth would be a dragonfly, or a hummingbird. In the hands of someone else, they would still allow them flight of course, with practice, but regardless of his type he can't as of yet. Will he be able to later? Possibly! Still, despite just having those he was a resourceful kid and got around through other means. Truth be told though, the idea of this was really reminiscent of Zelda, both OoT and the Minish Cap. Growing up I loved the friendship shared between the Links and Zeldas of those two games-the former he did like TJ did to meet her, and the latter the two were friends who went to a festival together in the start. Man those are nostalgic. My descriptions don't do half the things I talk about justice. I highly recommend them!
    Along his journey we catch a glimpse of Velvet and Straw Hat, and some of the others that were trained in the manor. It was through this that the group had become closer to the Princess. The idea kinda came to me as I wrote USSR-how Samson did all sorts of things to earn his keep and go to Midgard, including working in the guard. At some point or another they too were formally introduced to Peorth, and it was from there that things began.
    On the topic of Peorth, the way she speaks here is a bit more informal than she does in the current time. She's still young and as she said, learning about a princess' etiquette and whatnot, but at this juncture she was still pretty young so she wasn't as refined. It's pretty early on in the timeline. I've worked on displaying some of her traits in a bit of a discrete way here and there, but they're a bit more clear here. Sometimes the others tease her about things, and they show up in the current timeline through her reactions, so despite being a refined queen, even she has a couple things that could set her off. I'd love to work with that a bit more because it's always a fun sight to see and read over later.

    So one last thing-about the name of the current chapters-if you search up the words you can find their meaning, which speak for themselves. GAL might have been named Amae's Larghissimo, but I've had a lot of conflicting feelings about it so I decided to leave it as is. Either way, well essentially GAL speaks for God Ah's Family as a whole, so it probably is better that way.
    Now the reason I had decided to do this at all was both in the sense of a way to tell the story, but also to speak about the contents of it. I split it into two because I thought of a record-you know how when you flip it over you get other tracks? Something along those lines. No kidding! GAL would be side A and TAD would be the side B, just like with the pages of Memorius Sanctum. It was a silly little concept I came up with a few years ago but those little things came to my mind when I was first learning new tricks of the trade when it came to being an author so I wanted to try my hand at them. Hence why I joked that in Sanc things were gonna get super pretentious. They really did, but the main reason being is because I wanted to challenge myself, and also to give the series a very unique feel, one that held to the themes and emphasized them throughout the whole work in ways one might not expect at a glance.
    Same year I started it was the same year I discovered TWEWY, and that game still stands as my favourite. Changed my whole world and the way I see the world around me-but it also greatly affected my writing. Taught me to broaden my horizons, and here we are today. I'm gonna keep working at it 'cause I've got a lot to learn, but I'm picking up a lot of things as time goes on through the stuff I watch and read. I'll do my best to do them justice so I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I do writing it!
    avatar
    TJ

    Posts : 873
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 24
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sat Apr 18, 2015 4:11 pm

    Ch. 5 Pages 145-156:
    The Fifth Harmony: A Place to Call Home
    “Whether it's for me, for him, or for her, I dunno. Does it matter? I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty, so I'll play their game. It'll make my revenge against that damn old man that much sweeter.” (Suuba)

    TJ blinked a couple times as his normal vision returned to him and he found himself back in his own body. The sensation of being in that of his younger self, a woman he did not know named Seres and Lady Amae he nearly lost his balance due to the differences. It was both a relieving, and rather disorienting experience. Kooh and Peorth seemed to be discussing the matters pertaining to Memorius Sanctum for a brief period before he found himself back in his physical body. Had there been a time lag between when she had stopped reading and when he had returned?
    “...had the same feeling also, correct?” Peorth asked with a raised eyebrow.
    Kooh nodded. “I'm nowhere near as familiar with the language as your are Princess, but that was definitely gibberish if I've ever heard it,” Kooh answered before she crossed her arms. She glanced at TJ and offered him a smile. “Hey welcome back!”
    The Abellan tilted his head quizzically. “Did I go somewhere?” He asked.
    “Well not exactly...” Kooh said before placing a finger to her lips and rolling her eyes, her gaze shifting to Sellistar. “You just kinda...spaced. Your eyes sorta glazed over while you listened to the book, so I thought you dozed off. With your eyes open at that!”
    He blinked slowly. “R-really? So that's what happened huh?” He scratched his cheek with his index finger out of embarrassment. “W-well...there was reason...for that. I mean! It's big! Huge!”
    “Do tell,” Peorth answered.
    “I saw a memory.  I saw one of mine but the other wasn't! I saw God Ah and La-”
    He was cut off as Peorth held up a hand. “Hold it right there TJ. You say that you saw a memory of God Ah's family?” He nodded once. “I see. It does raise a bit of curiosity, but I cannot help but feel that the mysteries of God Ah's family are not meant to be known by us. At the very least, not through this means. We do indeed pursue them, but you are also a member of God Ah's family-that knowledge is yours to know. If there are other things we are to know, I know that we will find them as we approach the promised time. I will be patient. Though your other memory may not be of that time-do you wish to share it with us?”
    He was a bit startled by her response, but Peorth had her own reason for doing things, so he would not insist on the matter. The Cerebians held their own secrets, and though knowing things about him they too had their own reasons for keeping them. Perhaps here also, that knowledge could potentially fall into the wrong hands, or perhaps she just felt it would be better if certain things about God Ah remained unknown to the Cerebians. “Sure. A lot of interesting stuff happened.”
    “Let's hear it Little Lamb,” Kooh chimed.
    TJ described the things he heard and saw, from the time he left home where his guardian Yuna saw him off to his adventures from the forest, through the city and eventually to the mansion where Peorth awaited. He told the two how he saw their old companions, and as the story went on their expressions ranged from surprise to happiness.
    “...I see.” Peorth said as she placed one hand to an elbow and the other to her cheek, her face lightly flushed. “It has been quite some time since then. You really were very quiet back then, were you not?” She chuckled. “That nickname you had given me is very reminiscent of those times. The two then gave their all to follow in their parents' wakes also-each striving in their own respects to prove that they were worthy to be in the royal guard.” She chuckled gently as she crossed her arms and closed her eyes. “To think that they would someday become my Keruz...it feels like it was only yesterday that I had appointed them.”
    Kooh pursed her lips. “But you never let me call you Pe-Pe.”
    The guild master opened her eyes and her cheeks flushed slightly. “T-there was no need for it...you pronounced my name without any difficulty. That aside it was...” She began to mutter and her words trailed off.
    “Didn't catch that last part there Princess!” The God's Governor grinned devilishly.
    She shifted her glasses before putting on her usual stoic expression. “It was irrelevant.”
    “Though you were really cute back then too. You'd skip out on lessons to go into the city with TJ and play with the others, and you were always so fussy about eating carrots. You'd slip them onto my plate while the head maid wasn't looking.” Kooh laughed and the guild master's expression faltered.
    “D-do not tell him that...” She whimpered.
    TJ laughed quietly. When it came to memories of the past not even the guild master could keep her usual expression. Seeing her like that was a very rare occurrence, but hearing about what she and the others had gotten into were even more so. The painful memories still lingered, and they were likely even harder for her to swallow than they were for him-unlike him though, she could recall all of it up to this point, including his departure from them and eventual return. Did that mean she may have had an idea of his whereabouts during the times he could not recall? Though like she had said, it may have been better that information like that remained secret. When he had discovered what had happened to Hanamah and his relation to the event, it had changed his whole world-though for the better, had he known from the start, how would his journey have differed? The time and the place...all that had happened during the City of Iron trip had opened his eyes to the world around him, and with it came the truth. It was how he became the Abellan, and stood here with the Queen and God's Governor now. Perhaps for that very reason he needed to pursue the Sinners, gather his memories and little by little, find out the extent of his abilities, and the truth behind his identity. Agasura or Cerebian? Which side did he belong to, and which fought for what reasons? There was still so much he did not know, especially about God Ah's family.
    The playful banter continued on between the cousins and he could not hide the smile he wore at the sight. Perhaps he would not find the answers right away, or anytime soon but...he was here now. He would not make the mistake of taking the time he had for granted, after all the metaphorical rug could easily be pulled out from below any of their feet. He would do everything he could to see to it that none of them would have to experience that event, so these days could remain. The peaceful days they all held so dearly.
    “So TJ, did you get that pin because it reminded you of Velvet?” Kooh asked with her head resting over her left arm, both draped around Peorth's shoulders-the guild master remained unfazed by the matter.
    Her words brought him back to reality, and like a candle that was just lit the fact returned to him in a hurry. He was still as of yet to tell the two what had happened during the mission to the Pharaoh's Chambers. “Ah no that's not it! I met her, and she gave it to me!”
    The girls looked at each other incredulously before shifting their questioning gazes back to him. “Please, enlighten us on this matter,” Peorth requested.
    “When I had defeated the Sinner in the Instance Dungeon-my sister, Avaritia, Elpis had said that the sealed Saint would return. Next thing we knew Velvet appeared-she looked just like she had back then, and I could talk to her and everything. She asked how you were doing and spoke a little about the past...the same fact that I discovered during that glimpse into my memory. She gave me her pin, and said I could summon her by using the name Industria. But also...she said we would meet again-that, and that she and the others are waiting on the other side. Our time was short but...they're out there somewhere, and I feel that if we follow this path we'll see all  of them again.” His eyes shifted from his shoes to his guild master who now had her hands cupped to her face. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she tried to fight them back and Kooh offered her a handkerchief, though she seemed like she was on the verge of crying herself-she chose to be the shoulder that the guild master could lean on.
    The Queen gracefully accepted the handkerchief and removed her glasses to gently wipe the tears away. Though it was short, those few moments seemed to last an eternity. There were the occasional times where Peorth's usual demeanour would falter and make way for the occasional smile and other such expressions, but this was different. Rather akin to crossing paths with Freya, she showed a vulnerability that she would rarely ever risk. It reminded him that though she was the leader of the guild Yggdrasil, though she was a queen and a a Warlord, and even more so the Cerebians' proxy that she too was just a girl making her way in the world...and once in a blue moon, that she too would need a shoulder to lean on. There was not much the Abellan could do for that girl, but he too would give his all to be strong for her, just as she did so for everyone-for her people, for her friends, and even for him, more than he could ever imagine.
    She took a deep breath and returned the handkerchief, then placed her glasses back on before slowly opening her eyes. At that second of the day, the moment in time ended and the clock seemed to start ticking again. “It seems that you really are connected to everyone hmm?” She asked smiling ever so slightly. “You are the catalyst that will bring order to this world...and it seems that you will also be that which reunites me with the shards of my broken past.” There was a slight pause as her eyes seemed to focus on him. “TJ, I have a request for you.”
    At those words he felt an unusual feeling within-not as the Abellan, but as TJ...and nothing more than that. “Anything,” He answered confidently.
    “Would you take me along on your journey? It need not be on every outing, but should the Sinners appear, please take me with you.” She paused for a moment, be it for an opportunity to find the right words or to muster her own courage, he could not say but her smile grew a little nonetheless. “Though I would be honoured if you invited me on your outings occasionally.”
    He grinned at her. “You can count on that.”
    “Take me every now and again too! If something happens to you two I'm gonna be crazy worried!” Kooh complained as she lowered her head.
    The guild master patted her on the head as she chuckled gently. “You need not worry. TJ and I are more than capable enough of looking after ourselves. That aside, perhaps your power could be put to use on other dispatch missions? Though you are my shadow, you are also a God's Governor Kooh, and one of the strongest members in Yggdrasil. Your work as a team leader may be of great service.”
    Kooh pursed her lips at her cousin's words. “I guess...”
    Peorth pushed her glasses once more. “Pray tell TJ, you had mentioned that you could summon Velvet, correct?”
    The Abellan nodded. “The guys had seen it. They could vouch for that-or I could try to do it again.” He answered, brimming with confidence.
    “No, there is no need. I have no doubts on the matter. What I am curious about is the ability that you have obtained that has allowed you to do so. Memorius Sanctum had informed me that you would be able to call the Seven Sinners and utilize their strengths...perhaps I should have read the more recent pages...but I could not bring myself to do so...in spite of the fact, I had faith that you would return. You are indeed here now...my faith was not misplaced.” She smiled gently and he grinned bashfully. “But please, do tell.”
    “According to Elpis it's broken up into three different abilities...Synergism for summoning an ally to fight in my stead, Command is for an attack or support skill/stance, and Manipulation is for using the Seven Sinners' abilities. I think she said the umbrella term for it was Invocation?”
    The guild master placed her hand to her lips solemnly for a couple moments. “I have never heard of such spells before...save for the third usage of Invocation. Not even Memorius Sanctum had mentioned it under any of the identified spells and stances. It seems to be an ability unique to you, TJ. I applaud you for getting a grasp on such a technique in such a short period of time.”
    He knit his eyebrows as he rubbed his right arm gently. “W-well...truth be told I haven't exactly mastered it yet. To use Synergism I have to learn the lyrics and notes to Velvet's song. I guess it's the same way with the others, but I only have just that one right now.” He shook his head. “I dunno where to find them though. When she disappeared I'd found this page of the tome but...well that's about it. She had no idea how it worked either.”
    “So the page came from her huh? The Princess read it but we didn't understand a word of it. The words are there but they're all jumbled up.” Kooh explained as she furrowed her brows.
    “Huh?!” He asked incredulously. If what she said was true, then Peorth had just read a series of words in no particular order. She was the incredible one for managing that feat.
    The guild master nodded. “The words are certainly there, but I could not make sense of them. Have you seen it for yourself?” He shook his head. For some reason he could read some Agasuric, but he could not read Cerebian for his life. If their writing looked like gibberish to him, the actual gibberish would be no different. “Perhaps we could view it together? It may not be the best place to begin, but Kooh and I could share our knowledge of our language with you. You may call it wishful thinking, but at times I believe we must be willing to view things outside of the norm in order to come to conclusions that we would not typically expect.”
    She certainly raised a valid point. It was purely by chance that he tried to and was able to read Avaritia's message in the Instance. Perhaps the action was, but not so much the reason. His whole being was one great enigma to him really, so it was not entirely impossible that he could do so again. He walked over towards the guild master and God's Governor and glanced at the book.
    “You cannot read it from that far can you? No need to be so bashful TJ. If I am to bite, I assure you I will be gentle.” Peorth suggested with a tiny smile.
    Kooh looked at her from the corner of her eye. “Was that an innuendo I heard just now Princess?”
    “I know not what you are talking about.”
    Neither did he. While Kooh complained that the guild master was being sneaky he took her up on the offer and took his place at her other flank as the three glanced over the book. Technically two, since he could not resist the urge to sneak a peek at her in his peripherals-catching a glimpse as she brushed her bangs aside, her sapphire eyes now clearly visible behind the glasses she wore. During those few moments he completely missed out on what she had said as she pointed down to the book and explained the words before them, and at that realization he turned his gaze to focus on that very thing. For a moment he could have sworn that the words on the page began to glow and move about as lines began to form-some of them taking the shape of music notes.
    “A-are you guys seeing this too?” He asked as his eyes widened. Though unlike the first time, the words actually moved about and actively became notes. Were those the notes to Velvet's song? Perhaps the other side of the page had the lyrics he would need to memorize.
    “Indeed...the words are coming together to form music notes. How incredible.” Peorth answered.
    “I can't see it...” Kooh muttered sullenly.
    “Really? That's kinda weird...but you can read Memorius Sanctum too, can't you?” The Abellan asked.
    The God's Governor shook her head. “Nope. It's all gibberish to me.”
    It seemed that ability may have been unique to the proxy and the Abellan. He felt a bit special, as if it were a secret shared between the two, but the moment subsided quickly as embarrassment settled in place of it. “You think this is Velvet's song Chief?”
    The guild master nodded once solemnly. “Indeed. I would recommend that you memorize and practice this as soon as possible TJ. We know not when the next Sinner will appear, and I strongly believe that it would be in your best interest if you were to put your natural aptitude for mastery to use.” He nodded and for a split second she looked to him before looking at the book. “Perhaps it would be in your best interest if we practiced together. I feel that your progress is much smoother when there is a mentor to assist you along the way. If there is anything you are unfamiliar with, you may ask me.”
    “That sounds fantastic. I'll be in your care again.”
    Peorth nodded. “It seems there are many more mysteries to the Keruz than we know as of yet. Together...with everyone...” She looked at TJ and Kooh. “I believe that we will unravel them. I am in your care also TJ, Kooh. Let us do our best together.”
    “Right behind ya'!” Kooh chimed with a grin.
    “I'll do my best too.” TJ answered with a nod and a smile.

    A couple of days had passed, and TJ had spent most of it practicing in the guild room, accompanied by Shabur, Sellistar and Su occasionally. He often sat upon the roots of the tree, the tome levitating before him as he gazed upon the notes and solemnly strummed his guitar in tune to those that he thought were correct, and yet he felt the lingering sense that he had not quite gotten it right. Perhaps it would take more time and practice, but as he continued he entertained the thoughts of being able to do so with Peorth. He had not attempted to do the lyrics just yet, since he did not know enough about vocal music to attempt such a grand feat, but he felt that if he could do well when it came to the guitar side of the song she would praise the effort. His more personal wishes aside, if he could master Synergism and Velvet's song before the next Sinner appeared he would stand a much better chance at success. That fact raised one very particular question though.
    Just how in the world would he summon the next Sinner?
    To review what he currently knew, summoning them was necessary to defeating Asmodeus. Their powers were the key to doing just that, and also they would release the Virtues according to Elpis, which were Peorth's old companions. In the same vein, releasing them would be exactly what Asmodeus wanted-though TJ may defeat the Sinners, would this not be the cause for Geseni oto Nitszch? He sighed audibly. It was his duty to slay the Agasura King, but also his duty to summon him and the Sinners? Perhaps Peorth did not know about that part of his journey but he felt reluctant to tell her. Surprisingly neither of the two questioned his relationship with Avaritia, but it was possible that they had already known. His notes began to sound rather off and he placed his guitar down against Sellistar's trunk. The biggest problem of them all was that they were his family, and they knew him as Luxuria. Who in the world was Luxuria and from what time period did she come from? He leaned against Sellistar and groaned. All of it was rather frustrating.
    As if in response the tree began to move and startled him. “Ah s-sorry Sellistar!” He said immediately as he sat up.
    “It is not a problem in the slightest Little Abellan, but I cannot help but think that was quite a heavy sigh. Is there something on your mind? If I will do, you could confide in me.” Sellistar answered.
    He blinked. Sellistar was neither Peorth nor Su, Cerebian or Agasura-she was a guild crop. Whether she would have a take on such delicate matters he did not know, but having someone to confide in might give him some peace of mind. Despite being a guild crop though, she and many others like her had lived perhaps, for hundreds of years, constantly going through a similar cycle of death and rebirth. From what Peorth had told him, it may have been due to their sacrifice that Midgard functioned to this day, and that the Cerebians could continue the ongoing fight against the Agasura. If he so wished, he felt sure she would keep the matter secret, but he did not quite feel ready to share all of that information just yet-he had decided that he would confide in her nonetheless.
    “Sellistar...well...let's say you had to make a really tough decision. And...” He groped around in his mind for the words to make sense of what he wanted to ask. “Well...what if you had to do a bad thing for a good thing to happen? I mean, if you had to do something wrong, to make something else right?”
    He looked up to her and in the following moments he could feel one of her branches rest against his shoulder and the other gently caress his face-he felt a bit at ease. “Abellan, though I may not have the best answer to give you, let me tell you this. Right and wrong are two sides of the same coin. They are, after all, a human creation, just as many other things are. To each and every person out there, Human or Cerebian, their sense of it will differ. Some may take up  arms and go to war declaring that it is for the greater good, while others will claim that peace is the only means to an end. At times the two will intertwine and the lines between them will be blurred. You must ask yourself this: What is it that I wish to attain through this means? You must follow your heart, and your values. When you know what it is that is important to you, you will know the path that is best suited to see that pursuit to its end.” She explained and smiled. “I hope this was of help to you.”
    He looked down to his knees with the book resting before them. To defeat Asmodeus would free the world of the Agasuric threat that challenged them every single day. He was the only one who could manage such a feat, and if in doing so he required the Seven Sinners' powers, no matter how difficult the choice was, the fact was necessary. He was reluctant to put his friends in danger to accomplish that task, but just as they put their faith in him, perhaps they requested the same of him through their expressions and less so words...just as his had spoken for him when he could not. He placed a hand to Sellistar's and closed his eyes. What is it that he wished to attain through those means? Peaceful days for all of those who took up arms. An end to the war. One where both Cerebian and Agasura could live in harmony, just as Peorth had wished for. It was a lofty goal, but if he was the Abellan...perhaps he could manage it.
    “I think I've got an answer Sellistar. It's a hell of a bumpy road but I'm gonna keep going along with it to the best of my abilities. I think my answer was there all along, just a little obscured by complications.”
    The guild crop chuckled and her laughter was faintly reminiscent of song. “That is the life of beings such as yourself is it not? You face various difficulties, and those very hardships are what serve as the foundations for your strength and tenacity. From it, you grow ever more, reaching closer and closer to the heavens. You must shine ever brighter Abellan-your path is that which all Children of the Sun will walk. I too, believe that you will guide them to salvation.”
    “I'll put all that I am into it. After all...though these shoes might be a bit big for me...I think someday I'll be big enough to walk in them. With a little help of course!” He grinned.
    “I'll be here cheering for you Abellan. Hold your head high and walk forward with confidence.” Sellistar returned to her usual position and he gave an approving nod before taking up his guitar again.
    Though slow, he had certainly seen some progress and though he felt unsure whether the notes were correct, if he had any doubts he would confide in Peorth about them when she returned. The guild master and Kooh had gone to Elfa to meet with some of the other guild masters and get a breakdown of the results before and after the events of Avaritia's arrival. Before leaving she had left them with this, “It is a Cerebian's duty to not only manage occurrences within the Haven, but also without.” It was just like her to say something cryptic like that, but she was the guild master after all...and the Chief. That was reason enough for him to leave it be. Supposedly it would only be a couple of days until she returned, and would fulfill the promise of the two's long-awaited practice sessions.
    As if those very thoughts were a magic spell to summon her she appeared within the guild room shortly after wearing a desert traveller's cloak and a pair of fake glasses, nose and moustache included. TJ's guitar playing immediately went out of tune at the sight and he had to hold back his laughter. Kooh said she had prepared a disguise for the Queen but not even he could of predicted that.
    “Good evening...guild master.” Shabur said as he slowly lowered his mask. Even he seemed rather shocked by the fact.
    “Good evening Shabur, Sellistar, and to you also TJ.” Peorth said, cool as a cucumber, per usual.
    TJ chuckled under his breath before clearing his throat and smiling at her-he was genuinely happy to see her, but he would need to get the details of how that disguise worked on Eli and the others from Kooh later. “Good evening Chief...and welcome back.” He beamed.

    “Repeat after me TJ.” Peorth placed her hands to her chest and closed her eyes before opening her mouth and singing along to the lyrics that she had read in the book. All of them were written in Cerebian so TJ had no idea what they meant, but in turn he got to hear the guild master sing so it worked out. He sat next to her on the roots of Sellistar, his eyes closed as her voice drifted through the air and enchanted him-when she had sung he thought of Lady Amae and the song she had sung to give shape to the Frequency. Though that aside, the guild master often spoke in a monotone, which was not that unusual to him after spending so much time with her, but hearing her now it was as if it never existed to begin with. Her voice carried the sound and the lyrics really bolstered that effect, leaving him in a brief daze. When the song finally came to an end he felt a hint of disappointment which quickly became embarrassment as he caught a glimpse of her staring back at him solemnly. “It is your turn now,” She said matter-of-factly.
    Reality hit him like a ton of bricks then and there. He should have realized it sooner, but he was going to have sing for her now. Not just her, but everyone else that was currently present in the guild room. “Eh? T-that so?” He asked before rubbing his neck and chuckling. What if he was tone-deaf? He had never sung a thing before-not that he could remember-no, he totally did, back on Asgard and it was nowhere near as long as Velvet's Song. But the him then and now were nearly two different people. How in the world was he supposed to do that with Peorth sitting right next to him? For that matter, how did he even find himself in this situation?
    The guild master tilted her head quizzically and waited for him to begin but received no response in that regard. “Is something the matter TJ?”
    His glasses slid down his nose and he smiled awkwardly. “N-no, not at all! L-let's see...” He glanced down at the book levitating before them and brought it a bit closer to pore over the pages for a couple of moments. On the left he saw words he could not read but the others were within his ability-the meaning lost upon him, but likely only for the time being. A more pressing matter itched at his conscious mind and he began to sweat profusely. “W-well...I'm gonna start now...here goes...” He opened his mouth but a high squeak only came out and he covered his face in embarrassment. Silence.
    Suddenly the silence was broken by laughter. Peorth covered her mouth as a few chuckles escaped her lips and once her laughter came to an end she wiped the tears away. “No matter where or when, some aspects of you seem to have remained the same TJ. I am glad that you are the same within even without your memories.” TJ's cheeks flushed and his lips curled into a smile. The joyful face she wore now was something that had not changed over the years-or perhaps it had...though she had matured into a fine woman and he had grown also, the bond that they shared was tested by time and carried over to the future...and yet, the two were still like the pair of children that would meet within the princess' bedroom. “You may not be perfect on your first try, but I am here to mentor you, so do not fear judgement. I shall teach you all that I know.”
    “Alright, now I'm fired up!” He said with both fists clenched and a fire in his eyes. “Let's do it! Round two!” He took a deep breath and read from the pages, though somewhat off-key he was able to hit most of the notes it seemed, and even he surprised himself a fair bit with his singing. Once the song came to a close he let out a sigh of relief and turned to the guild master. “How'd I do?”
    She gave an approving nod. “For your first time you had fared well. You could use some touching up on the high notes, but I think you are off to an excellent start. Let us continue. Shall we do it verse by verse? I will go first, and you can repeat after me.”
    Bit by bit the two went through each verse, and though he was not at Peorth's level of mastery he had gotten a passing mark from her after a few tries of each. The day carried on into the evening and Peorth took out her purse from next to Sellistar and drew a bottle of water.
    “Here TJ. Good work today.” She handed it off to him and he thanked her, before she brought out a second.
    He cracked it open and took a long drink before letting out a sigh of relief. His voice was getting a little raspy, but all the progress he made with her help was definitely more a boon than a bane to him. As he closed the bottle he glimpsed at her in the corner of his eye and smiled slightly as she too took a drink. “Thanks again...Chief. With your help I think I've gotten a lot better in a hurry.”
    She gave a confident nod. “I am but your mentor, TJ. I only guide your path-it is you that moulds your own talents into the completed product. You should take pride in your efforts.”
    He chuckled bashfully. “Yeah...got a little bit.”
    The guild master rose and put the bottle away before offering him a hand. He graciously accepted it and the two stood face-to-face for a couple moments. “I must be going TJ. I have duties as a guild master that need be attended to both today and tomorrow, but the day after I shall come again to see your progress. Please continue to give it your all.”
    “I will! Thanks for your help again...and don't stay up too late, okay?” That was lame-even he knew it.
    She smiled and nodded. “I am sure Kooh would not allow for that. Goodnight.”
    “Night Chief.” At those words the two parted ways and TJ sat down against Sellistar's roots before letting out a quiet chuckle, both a mix of satisfaction and relief.
    “Well done, Little Abellan,” Sellistar chimed.
    He smiled. It was a small step, but he felt like he was making his way forward bit by bit.

    The following day he continued to practice, gently strumming his guitar while Su relaxed with Sellistar and gave her thoughts on his progress. Though she wore a bored expression she still took the time to hang around.
    “You screwed up near the end. Do it again.” She said with a wave of her hand.
    “Got it.” He answered before glancing at Memorius Sanctum and closing his eyes to play the song from his memory. The sound of it really came together and with every strum of his guitar he felt more like a Bard than he ever did before. Strange as it was, though he was training to use Synergism he felt satisfied at just hearing the song come together the more he practiced it. Peorth had said through guild chat that if he felt confident in his playing, that the next day the two would practice both the lyrics and song. He felt a growing sense of excitement at the sound of the two coming together and fumbled one of the notes.
    “The hell was that?” Su asked opening an eye and sitting up.
    “Uhh...got distracted. Lemme' start over.” He answered as he readied his guitar again.
    “Whatever.” She said as she sat back and closed her eyes.
    A short while later Thee stepped into the guild room and gave the two an appraising look. “Hey you two, how's the practice going?” He asked with a wave.
    “Pretty good I'd say.” TJ said as he stopped playing and stood his guitar up next to him.
    “Needs a helluva' lot more practice, I'd say,” Su added curtly without batting an eyelash.
    “Talk about a drill instructor from hell.” Thee said as he knit his eyebrows and chuckled lightly.
    She opened an eye. “You think this is bad?” She grinned devilishly. “You ain't seen nothing yet. I could give you some hands-on combat training like I did with him if you're curious.”
    TJ's eyes opened wide at those words and both darted to Thee. He immediately shook his head and gestured no before sliding a thumb across his neck.
    “You know, I think I'll have to pass on that, but thanks anyway.”
    She closed her eyes back before her lips curled into a grin. “Your loss! Don't say I didn't offer.”
    “I don't think that'll be a problem.” The Warrior turned his focus back to the Bard. “So what are you practicing anyway? I just heard it was a song, so I'm guessing new support spells?”
    “Something of the sort...” TJ began as he sought out the words to explain it. “It's to summon an ally. I guess you could say it's an Awakening technique? Or something...of the sort. Well it's definitely something I can do.”
    “Does that mean you can just call one of us to battle?” Thee rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Man, what if we were in the bathroom or something? That'd be pretty damn awkward.”
    “Eh?! N-no it doesn't work like that! I can only summon certain people, not you guys! Besides that's what IR teleporters are for!” He felt pretty good with that knowledge in his memory.
    “Summoning people...on the toilet...?” Thee's expression looked both confused and shocked.
    “That's not what I meant!” TJ cried out.
    The Warrior burst out into laughter. “I'm just pulling your leg TJ. Having an IR teleporter or two would definitely be handy though.” he grit his teeth and sighed as he shrugged. “Sucks that me and LaDeck just don't mix. We're like oil and water. I buy a bunch of darts, come out in last place if I'm ever that lucky. I've got enough soda potions to flood my place.”
    “It's tough huh?” The Abellan asked with a laugh. “It has some really cool prizes though!” He said with a twinkle in his eyes.
    “You'd need to use up a lifetime supply of luck to get the best ones though.”
    “If you're thinking of winning a Brownie, better to hang those hopes out to dry now,” Su laughed.
    The Abellan pursed his lips. “A man can dream, can't he?”
    “Make 'em good. But dreams are no reason to slack off. Let's hear it.”
    Thee grinned. “I'll leave you two to it then.” He eyed TJ cautiously. “If you do plan on summoning me, give me a heads up first alright?”
    “I already told you I can't!” TJ shouted as Thee ran off and exited the room. “Jeez.”

    His practice had continued into the night and by that point he felt confident that he had truly gotten the gist of the song, guitar-wise. His vocal work still needed some fine tuning, but with Peorth's help it would only be a matter of time. Su said she had gotten bored and returned to the crystal, so he sat down on Sellistar's roots again as he practiced the song without the tome. His playing came to a halt as he heard the sound of someone else entering the guild room and his gaze shifted to them.
    Amarylys appeared and waved after entering. “Hey TJ how are you doing?” She asked.
    He grinned. “Not bad at all. Just been here practicing lately.” He had not realized until now but his fingers were somewhat numb. He entertained thoughts of seeing Velvet again, but he had the sneaking suspicion the Velvet that he could summon would not likely be the same as that which he met after his battle with Avaritia. She did say they would meet again, so it would not likely be so simple that he could summon her on a whim to reunite with her old companions. Though if he could...it would likely bring a smile to the guild master's face. It was a nice thought, but just a passing thought. “How are you Amarylys?”
    “Pretty good. Just came back from doing quests in Lilliput.” He had never heard of that place, but he felt certain that he had glimpsed it on the map. He tilted his head in response. “It's the city of tiny people in the Jungle, not too far from Ves.”
    “Tiny people?” He rubbed his chin thoughtfully for a moment. The memory of taking the Puwagra with Nai to Toad Island resurfaced and he frowned. “You didn't see Nai there, did you?”
    She blinked. “Ah! The aircraft captain right? I definitely saw him-he was talking about taking his hot air balloon on its maiden flight.”
    TJ smiled wryly. “I'd hate to be the next passenger in that thing. It'd sooner crash into an island and blow up.”
    Amarylys chuckled at his words. “I'm surprised you know him TJ. But we're way too big to even think of trying to ride that aircraft!” Little did she know. “Then again...there's definitely something unusual about that place. The tree that it's located in seems more like a gateway to an Instance Dungeon than...a tree.” She said as she crossed her arms and closed her eyes. “Anyway, have you been there before?”
    “Lilliput?” He shook his head. “Never been there before. I met Nai at the airport a while ago. Him and his Puwagra. I also...kinda stepped on him.”
    She chuckled. “Well the people of Lilliput are certainly resilient, if anything. They asked Ken and I to challenge their armies to test their mettle.” She rubbed her arm gently. “I think I've still got bruises from all of those cannonballs.”
    Tiny artillery? That city was more incredible than he could imagine. But considering that it was all the way near Ves, and to top it off hidden away within a tree it would take a miracle and a substantial amount of time for him to seek it out and find it. It sounded more like looking for a needle in a haystack than anything else-he was not willing to challenge it. “Was that a mission that the Chief sent you on?” He asked with a curious look. She mentioned dispatch missions every now and again, but he never took the time to ask her what they were.
    “Yup. Peorth registered our guild so we get requests from all over the world. She handles all the paperwork and whatnot and we go out and complete missions. It's how our guild earns reputation and we earn guild points in turn. I've still got a long way to go before I become a Power though.” She explained before letting out a deep sigh.
    That certainly explained how and why Axle wound up hospitalized. He felt a bit envious at their ability to go and see the world and do all sorts of things such as that, but in a sense he did the same. If he was to be in their shoes, he would not be able to go on missions with Peorth-either that, or the times would be far and few between. He offered her a smile. “Think of it as your goal, and just keep working towards it! You'll be there before you know it.”
    She grinned. “Thanks TJ. You keep giving it your all too okay? I heard a bit about your practice from Thee and the others. Mind if I sit in for a bit?”
    He felt a bit more confident about his playing so he offered her a grin. “The more the merrier.”
    Later that night he parted with Amarylys and returned to his tent to rest. By tomorrow he would be taking a step in a new direction with the song, and be much closer to seeing its completion, and his old companion along with it.

    “Let us begin on three TJ. One, two...” Using both hands like a conductor Peorth guided TJ through the steps and sung along as he strummed his guitar, the sounds of his playing meshed with her voice and filled the entire guild room with lovely music. He carefully watched the guild master as she guided him through the steps, every motion, every note, she hit the highs and lows with skill and grace while still leading him through it. He had no doubts in his mind that she likely had mentors in the past who had done the same for her, not likely participating by doing the vocal section of a song, but just by her every action she seemed to be knowledgeable in all respects of the matter. And yet...though he saw her as a mentor there was something else. He could not take his eyes off of her but his song had not gone off key for even a moment, and once she had brought both hands and voice to rest he brought the song to a close. “Excellent work TJ. I do not think that you have missed a single beat.”
    “Thanks for leading me through it!” He said with a grin. The sound of her voice carried by the music left him in a dreamlike-daze after the two had come to an end, and it drifted both through his conscious and sub-conscious mind. He wished to hold to that memory, to that time but deep down he knew that it too would have to pass.
    “Would you like to try it yourself? Doing both will prove to be much more difficult, but I shall conduct for you if need be.”
    He nodded. He did want to perform another duet, but Peorth was taking the time out of her day to help him master the song, not to perform along with him. “Yeah, I think I'm ready.  Let's give it a shot Chief.”
    She nodded. “Remember, you need not perfect it immediately. Patience is key here, so as many times as need be I shall go through it with you. Are you ready?” He nodded and she raised her hands. “Then let us begin.
    The two began their practices and starting out things were rough around the edges. More often than not, TJ had mistaken the high and low notes in the vocal parts of the song for the instrumental portions and went off-key, but the guild master insisted that he continue up to the very end and try again afterwards. Throughout the songs, at differing intervals she would give him an instruction such as, “Raise your voice higher!” or “Sing from the lungs!” and other such pieces of advice. More than anything she had to constantly remind him to breathe, since he would wind up running out of breath mid-way through it.
    Around the afternoon the two sat down to have lunch, hand-made by the guild master herself. Kooh had sneaked some cake into her bag with a note that read: Good luck on your duet you two! Eat some cake and don't give up!
    TJ took a bite of a sandwich and smiled with delight. Eating in his own body was much more satisfying than doing so in his memories. There was even tea too! The moment brought him back to when Peorth had first started teaching him the Divine Arts before their showdown with Choen Palm. He had grown and learned so much over the time frame, but there was still more for him to do. He glanced at the guild master and swallowed hard. “S-say, Chief?” She turned to him solemnly chewing with an appraising expression. The look she gave him likely invited him to continue with what he wanted to say. “What is a Keruz?” He was curious, but a small-or rather large part of him just wanted to hear her voice.
    She swallowed and closed her eyes. “A Keruz is the fifth and final step of advancement in terms of guild renown for all members aside from the guild master. Those who have proven themselves over the years, their loyalty to the Cerebians, to Humans, and the cause we fight for-but not only that; Cerebians who have both excel in their physical and spiritual training can become that rank. It opens the gateway to their mana, allowing them to utilize a myriad of spells and stances typically limited to certain people such as you and I, or the God's Governors. This also is where one can learn and master the Awakening Techniques. Just as how you had acquired your wings upon becoming a Power, they will gain two more, and a tome that carries the knowledge of spells and stances from the generations prior to those that came before them.” She explained.
    He nibbled on his sandwich as he listened and the thoughts of how his allies were incredibly powerful and talented prior to what had happened danced in his mind. He saw how the two Temple Knights had worked together, Velvet being one of them to cast an incredibly powerful and destructive spell, and wondered if she could do that now, or if both were necessary for it. Nonetheless, to have that kind of power could really turn the tides of battle if everyone could use it...but in the same vein, it might be something that could prove to be dangerous in the wrong hands. “So do you think if we defeat the other Seven Sinners we'll meet the other six Keruz?”
    She looked at him strangely for a moment before smiling kindly. “Yes, I do believe so. There is a very unique reason that the two accompany each other, I believe.”
    “Oh? What's that?”
    “In every generation, including mine there were proxies before me. My mother, my mother's mother and so on and so forth, each had appointed their own Keruz. From the very first generation in my lineage, they passed on this trait and their knowledge through the very tomes that all Keruz wield to this day.”
    The sandwich in his hand slipped through his fingers and he awkwardly fumbled it around before catching it and letting out a sigh of relief. The guild master chuckled at his clumsy nature. “S-so hold on a sec', you're saying that your mom and her Keruz and all those guys before them were the ones that created most of those skills?!”
    She nodded. “Indeed. Before we had acquired a mastery for mana, spells were often created through formless shapes. Initially the usage of mana was solely based around giving birth to magic by refining it. It was not until much, much later that it was further refined and eventually given proper forms. This made passing on techniques to the successors and following generations much simpler. Though I do not have conclusive evidence, it is possible that God Ah's family had knowledge of spell craft before we had discovered such knowledge, but that is beyond me currently.”
    “So did the others have their own spells also? Your Keruz?”
    She smiled and nodded. “Yes, they did. If there comes a time where you learn to read Memorius Sanctum you will be able to find them after the historical passages, along with many, many others. There are some techniques that would be of use to a Bard also, but those I cannot teach you, as I am a Warlord. Nevertheless, I must urge you to continuously strive towards attaining the rank of Keruz yourself. I am positive that the physical growth will assist you in your journey.” She smiled gently, thoughtfully. “Although I must admit, you have been ready to attain the next rank for some time now. Perhaps it would be in your best interest if I raised it in the near future.”
    He grinned. “I'll definitely aim for that, and I'm ready whenever you are Chief.”
    She seemed to think it over for a moment. “Perhaps...not quite yet. Let us focus on your current training and when the time is right, I will be sure to let you know.”
    “One thing at a time right? That sounds good.” If she was to raise his rank now there was a ninety percent chance he would be too busy running about excitedly trying to do new things with his improved body, and likely forget his concurrent task. He took a bite out of his sandwich with joy. Though he did not quest like the others, he was performing his duties and moving forward a little bit. Someday, perhaps he too would reach the status of Keruz and learn a Bard style Awakening technique.

    Once the two had finished they continued their practice into the evening. Peorth continued conducting for him and with her help he managed to iron out most of the kinks in the song, finally nearing a perfected version of it.
    “Let us try once more TJ. I feel that you are close,” The guild Master said as she took a breath and wiped her sweat away with a handkerchief.
    TJ took a long drink of water and wiped his mouth before grinning. “We're so close I can taste it! I'm ready Chief!”
    Once more she lead him through the song, and he hit every note, every sound and with every strum of the guitar his voice and instrument were in perfect harmony and then once the song came to an end he suddenly felt as if he had lost all feeling in his body. His eyes opened, the two a deep blue as the crystal in his gem began to shine and release a powerful light-from it Velvet emerged and landed before him as she took a knee and rose to her feet, then drew her weapons.
    “I'll take things from here TJ! Leave it to me!” She shouted.
    Peorth looked aghast. TJ wanted to-in fact he did. Or did he? He could see Peorth looking at him with an appalled expression and he looked back with the same face, but he had realized that his hands were not strumming the chords of his guitar-rather they held to the club and shield he saw Velvet wielding, and the sound of the guitar went on.
    “V-Velvet?!” Peorth asked with her hands cupped to her face.
    “No wait I'm not-” She cried out as she looked at her hands before she turned back to face TJ. He was there-playing the guitar with his eyes closed. The song continued unfazed, but the lyrics had come to an end. After a couple of moments of staring at himself awkwardly, a sudden pain was inflicted upon him and a myriad of stances came to mind-likely all those that Velvet had known and mastered during her time, each and every one now at his command. “Urrgh...” She groaned. She sounded like herself, but TJ's actions and thoughts controlled the body-in spite of the fact that it was a physical body, it still had an ethereal feel to it.
    “Are you alright?” The Queen asked as she approached.
    As the guild master neared he looked into the worried expression in her eyes and saw that the pin that Velvet once wore had not returned. It seemed that change was permanent-did it have something to do with summoning her? “Hang on Chief, it's me!” She answered. “I guess this means the Synergism was a success huh?” He asked with a wry smile.
    “You...are in her body?” The guild master asked incredulously.
    He nodded. “Strange as it may be, that seems to be the case. Elpis didn't mention this part though.”
    The guild master's worry subsided, but she offered a melancholy smile in turn. “I see. In any case, congratulations on succeeding with the technique TJ. Your efforts have finally bore fruit. Alas, it is far too early to say that this should be the end of your training with it. Usage of a spell and mastery of it are two very, very different things. You must be vigilant at all times.”
    “Right!” She put on a brave act but he could not help thinking that in spite of their previous talk, she saw Velvet as Velvet. The phrase she shouted out upon being summoned really did him no favours in preventing such an event, but he would be strong for her sake. Perhaps it was just his own wishful thinking but she seemed happy nonetheless that he had succeeded with the technique. Still, the look on her face made him uneasy. He swore to himself that he would do what it takes to rescue the other Saints. The guild master placed a hand to her other arm and gazed forward, but she seemed to be looking through him-was it just past Velvet, or did she stare beyond the two? Her gaze looked forlorn, thoughtful, but at the same time lost. He could bear it no longer. The club and shield fell to the ground and he rushed forward to embrace her. “Chief I know it's hard...I know...” He muttered as she looked on with surprise. “When I had met her I bawled my eyes out...I could barely remember the times from the past but just by seeing her it just...I dunno. But you're not alone!”
    Peorth placed her hands to Velvet's back and closed her eyes as her lips curled into a smile. A couple of tears ran down her cheeks as she nodded. “Yes...I am familiar with that feeling also. To come face to face with someone you loved dearly, and who you thought you might never meet again may be nothing short of a miracle. Though you may not be her, the fact that she stands here before me now gives me hope, and the information you brought from your venture even more so. If it as you say, we will meet again. You and I and everyone else...we will be reunited. I will have to place this burden upon your shoulders, but I will support you to the best of my abilities.”
    “Yeah...thanks Chief.” As he pulled away and caught a glimpse of her crying face he realized what he was doing. The moment he let her go Velvet's body turned to spheres of light and vanished, and TJ found himself in his own body again while she wiped her tears away. He placed his guitar down and covered his face in embarrassment.
    “TJ,” Her voice brought him back and he caught a glimpse of her smiling at him-flushed cheeks, a soft gaze, glasses in hand. “You can only a see a rainbow after the rainfall, you know.” With those words she placed her glasses back on and gave him a single nod. “It is late. Good night.”
    He looked on with a questioning gaze. Cryptic as ever. “...Night Chief.”

    TJ did not dream that night. The following morning came without much incident-the sounds of birds chirping from the strings that held up the Fight Arena's tent. It was early, and most adventurers were still yet to rise as was the sun. A glimpse of it peeked over the horizon but dusk still lingered in the sky and coated the city in a night on the verge of passing.
    The Abellan arose from bed and stepped out of his tent before throwing on his hat and lowering it slightly. He walked through the Fight Arena and eventually into the streets, quietly whistling a tune before turning towards the Beauty shop and walking past it into an alleyway located between it and Dora's Apothecary/Miscellaneous Goods store.
    “Hey, Su.” He said as he leaned against a wall and grinned.
    She emerged from the crystal and turned to face him. “Whaddya wa-” Before she could finish her sentence he pushed her against the wall and slammed his hands down next to each of her shoulders. She looked startled and her face flushed as he came ever nearer by the moment. She looked startled and found herself at a loss of words. Time was ticking, her thoughts were racing and he was not holding back. She grinned devilishly and grabbed his left arm and spun away to break out of his grip. “If you wanted to play rough...” She began before throwing him to the ground and dropping her knees to get the upper hand on him-in that moment she felt that she had seen a glimpse of crimson but she deemed it of little importance. It was play time. “It'd do you well to remember how I do things.” She said in a silky tone. She leaned in towards him and he groaned gently as he lifted his head and rubbed the spot he had hit on the concrete.
    “Ow ow ow...what happened?” He brushed his bangs aside and his deep brown eyes gazed into her emeralds for a couple of moments. “Eh? Su? Huh?!” He seemed to have realized the situation, and at his reaction she did too.
    She got up and dusted herself off. “Tch. That old bastard is screwing with me again, isn't he?! I swear when I get my hands on him I'm gonna play hacky sack with his heart!” She pounded a fist against the wall and let out an enraged groan. “I'm out of here.”
    The Abellan arose from the ground and looked on as the spheres of light emerged and dispersed, leaving him alone at the break of dawn with a series of unanswered questions. “Uhh...Su? Hello?” He rubbed the back of his head and could feel it steadily swelling. What just happened, and why?

    The day continued on, but TJ had spent the better half of it in a daze. He had solemnly lay in the fields from sunrise to sundown just watching the clouds slowly drift by. His thoughts continuously flashed back to the events of this morning and Su's reaction to them. How did he find himself in that place, and for what reason did Su react in that way? He could not help but wonder what exactly she was doing on top of him. His thoughts immediately began racing to a variety of possible reasons for that but none of them were typically...normal, for him. They seemed to be something Verun had slipped into his memory but there was, without a single doubt a chance that was possible.
    ...after all, he did say kisses were something done between lovers...right? He placed a couple fingers to his lips as he recalled what Verun had said and done and he rapidly shook his head. It's not like they were going to do that! The more likely explanation was that the two tripped over each other and that was the end result. He sighed. Who would believe that? If there was anyone he knew that had good footing it would be her-to clumsily trip over him would not happen within his lifetime. He decided to set that matter aside for the time being. Su had her reasons for keeping secrets, and this potentially may have been one of those things, but he could not be sleepwalking right? It could be dangerous...if he recalled correctly there was a killer somewhere in Elias and the chance that he could run into them was not entirely out of the question. Even Kooh said the city was dangerous at night and she lived in it.
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    TJ

    Posts : 873
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 24
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sat Apr 18, 2015 4:11 pm

    Pages 156-166:
    He set his mind on to the other matter-what she had said before leaving. The words were still fresh in his mind and he replayed them time and again as he tried to unravel the meaning behind them, “That old bastard is screwing with me again, isn't he?!” was what she had said but...who? If it was something he had done she would have told him, or hit him, probably. But it was something or someone else that had gotten on her nerves. The question was who and what did they do? Without a doubt he was involved in the matter, because the two were there alone. He tried calling out to Su but she would not respond, and for such a situation asking the guild about it could cause unnecessary panic. Peorth already had her hands full with all sorts of paperwork and most of the others were out on dispatch missions. Now would be the perfect time for him to practice but given the situation at hand he could not bring himself to focus. Somebody was doing something to him...if he was being controlled, would it not be Choen Palm who had enraged Su? But she said old man. He groaned and rubbed his temples before gazing upon the sky steadily darkening. Perhaps she just needed some time to cool off and things would be back to normal in the morning? He could only hope. He decided to head back to his tent and sleep earlier that night.

    Night had settled in-the clouds obscured the moon but it occasionally peeked out from behind them to cast a dim light upon the world. TJ arose from bed, and from within the crystal Su emerged. His eyes crimson, and hers matched. Brows furrowed, teeth grit and looking to the sky with frustration. She could hear Him-His voice becoming more and more clear with every sacrifice. A song-one that He had sung to wake the Abellan. Despite his contract, the damn old man could still interfere and send him out on a series of idiotic little errands to see to it that he'd return without fail. Couldn't the moron just have one of his other minions make sacrifices to him?
    Su scoffed before she stole a glance at her companion who stared lifelessly at her. His crimson eyes lacked pupils, and though the irises remained trained on her it felt as if he did not even see her. She looked around the Fight Arena before taking his hand and fleeing the scene. If the two were to be caught now their cover would easily be blown.
    She hid in the alleyway he had called her to earlier and glanced down at her hands. When she focused, the mana coursing through her became visible, and from what she could tell the amount had increased substantially since the last time the two went out hunting. Was it his connection with Avaritia? He was becoming more of an Agasura by the day, and that sped up the process a lot more than just using the Contemptuous Arts could. If it wasn't that, it meant the bastard's Dominion had not only extended to the fodder Agasura, but also to TJ. She clicked her tongue at the thought. It was almost sickening that He so lovingly extended His hand to His child to ensure that the two would be reunited. Little did that old man know that He was in for the best kind of treat-death by a mix of the two things He hates most in the world, Vandels and Cerebians. Six Sinners were left...one of them stood beside her now. To incorporate the powers of Luxuria was a bridge she'd cross when she got to it, but it wasn't that time yet. How long did she have until then? Who the hell knew, but what she did know is that the two had a quota to fill, and that the city was on guard. It was gonna be a massive pain in the ass, but trying to be stealthy while dragging that clown around was damn near impossible. With that power from Him...could she do it?
    “TJ,” She said. He tilted his head in response and her mouth twitched at the sight. As irritating as he was during the day, she'd take that over a silent zombie any day. “With this power...let's take things a step further. Use the Frequency. I want us to both become as close to being the Tyrant of the Maelstrom as possible, without going that far, you got that?” He blinked and she assumed that he understood her point. “That'll do I guess.” She said rolling her eyes. She pounded an open palm as the two muttered, “Frequency!”
    A pitch black circle appeared beneath both of them and strings arose from it like tendrils before wrapping around their bodies. His whole body was coated in it and his arms and hands took the shape of claws-his eyes tiny crimson lights hidden beneath the full-body coat he wore. Her hair turned a dull silver and the tendrils reached up to her neck and stopped their before fitting themselves to her body. Briefly after crimson veins lined each, and their transformation was complete.
    The God's Governor inspected her companion for a couple moments before furrowing her brows. He was smaller than his slightly more complete counterpart, only had two claws and his body was nowhere near as broad as it was prior. “Well...that's pretty damn underwhelming.” She sighed as she shrugged. “Well whatever. Better than having you run around wearing a sign with your name on it that says, 'Hey world, I'm the culprit'. Fuckin' pinker than a...” Her words trailed off as she covered one of her eyes with her hand out of frustration. She looked down to her hands and with a flick of her wrist her fingers turned to claws. She grinned devilishly. “This should do for tonight. Let's hit the road. Duty calls.” He grunted in Agasuric and she turned to him before raising an eyebrow. “Really?” She sneered before letting out a sigh. “Fine fine I'll do something about it.” She reached toward her braid and undid it before shaking her hair free. “I'm a little bit tougher to recognize now. Happy?” Her hair and eyes looked nothing like they typically would, but whatever didn't get them followed. She looked at him through her bangs for a moment before placing her hand to her mouth. “Hmm...might be better to speak in Agasuric. Alright, let's get moving.”

    “Can you keep up?” It was half provocation, and half to see how much she needed to hold his hand during their hunt.
    If the fodder got smarter, it meant that even he could. Surprisingly, he did just that. Su leapt against the apothecary and up to the top of the beauty shop and though clumsier, he still managed to reach the top. She had to pull him up but it certainly was a start.. “Gimme your hand.” She held out a hand and he put a claw in hers before she started to spin him around. She hurled him and his body soared towards the palace. Su dove into the shadows and as he nearly touched the roof she emerged from the shadows and caught him before rising from the darkness. She held him like a figure skater for a moment and considered dropping him then and there, but realized doing so would blow their cover immediately-they were, after all right in the belly of the beast. She walked towards the eaves and scouted out the main street, catching a glimpse of a couple of groups of adventurers travelling in parties of three or more. She clicked her tongue as her partner perched beside her and sniffed the air.
    “Do you have any better ideas smartass?” She asked before glaring at him. He leapt from where the two were to the nearest building and jumped from there down into the streets. “Try and stay out of sight this time would you?” The fact that he was taking the lead was certainly a turn of events. She knew the Agasura had improved physical capabilities, but he seemed to develop his instincts better than she had-Robo did mention that he had more of a beastly nature, not that it wasn't obvious just from looking at him. She started to wonder if her uncanny ability to keep it together unlike him was a curse or a blessing. She'd ponder it further if she could but she'd easy lose sight of him with that ridiculous speed of his. He stormed through alleyways and across lampposts to fulfill her request, but it made it quite a pain in the ass to chase after him. Why didn't he just cross the buildings? He eventually came to a halt at the eaves of a house in the Old District and peered down upon something. She approached and stopped next to him, the God's Governor gazed down upon a lone adventurer walking through the street, tightly gripping to his tome as he walked through the streets with a look of unease. “Well there's our first mark. Hurry up and do your business before he gets away.” He opened his mouth and a low hiss came out that caused her to glare at him. “If we weren't doing this I'd slug you. Hurry it up.”
    He let out a low hiss before diving from the rooftop toward his mark and collapsing upon the Sorceror.
    The young man looked terrified as the creature came ever closer, it's crimson eyes pierced the night and it's breath sent chills down his neck. As TJ reeled a claw back the Sorceror shrieked as the hand tore through the flesh of his chest and splashed blood all over the streets. The screams died down and TJ drew the symbol around the corpse before raising his head to the sky and sniffing it solemnly. He turned his head up to his companion who now sat on the roof with one leg over the other and wore an impatient expression.
    “Well we're fucked now,” She said as her right leg shifted ever so slightly. “Shouldn't have savoured the kill, dumbass. We still have to find two more of these idiots to sacrifice, but now we're gonna get more than we bargained for.” She turned her head in the direction of the Shopping District, the sound of footsteps coming from all around alerted both of them. That long-winded scream without a doubt alerted the city's guard, but she had suspected something of the sort to happen. After all the people they had killed in this city the city had turned up the defense on the whole perimeter to eleven. “Come on, we have to move before they get here. I doubt they'll move the body until we're caught.” She rose to her feet and he broke out into a sprint, she keeping an eye on the city from her vantage while he pursued their next target.
    The more of them approached the more presences she could sense. The sounds of their approach, the scent of blood, of prey tempted her and called out to her with promises of satisfaction to an ever-growing hunger. There were souls to feed on, and she had half a mind to say to hell with Asmodeus' wants so that she could fill a quota of her own-or rather...one that she seemed to share with TJ. But since when? She ignored the thought as she leapt across the street and TJ turned into an alleyway before slinking into the shadows to get under a fence and continued on.
    A group of four guards wearing the cities colours followed shortly after and stopped at the fence before one of the group commanded, “He's headed towards the Main Districts!” They turned back and took another path as Su followed her companion from above.
    As TJ tore through the streets she closely and carefully scouted out the other streets and saw the guards coming from each and every way. An arrow drifted past her torso faster than lightning and she caught a glimpse of a person perched upon one of the buildings a fair distance away wielding a bow that took on a golden and jagged shape before returning to normal. That was without a doubt a skill-Thunder Arrow...which meant there were adventurers. She grit her teeth. So the city hired adventurers? They'd likely put a bounty on the two. While the Treasure Hunter nocked another arrow she caught a glimpse of a second climbing up onto another building further away, a crossbow on her back. The rooftops were no longer safe-if she stayed atop them either she would give away TJ's position and get them both pincered in, or she'd be plugged with arrows. Moments before she caught an arrow between the eyes she dove into the shadows, her silver hair following shortly after before it made its way to the Abellan on the move. She glimpsed at the world through his shadow but could not make out anything but the buildings on each side of her, and the night sky above.
    “We've found it! It's an Agasura!” A guard shouted and she was immediately put on guard. Intervene? Or not?
    The Abellan growled before leaping against the walls and to the one that lead the group, crashing into him and dragging him to the ground before hurling his body.
    “Surround it!” Another shouted and three gathered around behind him. It was now a six versus one and each of them was armed with swords and boards, shields, maces and spears.
    TJ looked from his front to his back and viciously snarled at them. No point in running now. Wasn't like they needed to, anyway. “Get the front. I'll cover your back. Just don't die yeah?” As TJ stormed forward Su's head and arm emerged from his shadow and two spheres emerged from it like blotches of paint that arose as the guards approached-each took the form of a feline creature and dove at them. They stepped back in surprise but rather than striking them they merged with their shadows and pinned them to the ground as Su rushed toward them.
    The Abellan lunged at the nearest guard and he raised his shield to fend off the creature, but the moment his fist pounded against it, the shield was dented and the guard dropped it. He plunged his claws into the man's neck and pulled him towards him before hurling him over his shoulder and into another. The first he had knocked down struggled to rise to his feet and TJ leapt at him and pinned him to the ground. He took him by the face and slammed his head into the ground time and again until blood leaked out of the helmet and the man stopped moving.
    “It's a...a monster!” The last one still alive of the three cried out as he pushed his fallen companion away. “S-someone help!” He cried out as he tried to run away. The Abellan crept forward before diving into the shadows and emerging from the guard's. “No, no no!” He shouted as TJ took hold of his foot and pulled him into the darkness. He collapsed and his helmet and weapons were flung from his hands and his gauntlets desperately clawed at the concrete in a vain attempt to escape. He looked back and caught a glimpse of the massive maw opening before him.
    Su grinned as an eye peeked out from her bangs and the guard grit his teeth before readying his spear for her approach. He reeled back and started a stab as a feint before he followed it with a real strike targeted at her face. Did he think that weak trick would catch her off guard? She tilted her head to avoid the strike and grabbed the pole of the spear before crushing it between her fingers. The head snapped off  and she grabbed him by his plate before  pulling him in and licking her lips. She reeled a hand back and plunged it in his chest leaving a bloody wound but also a strange dark aura that surrounded her hand as she reached ever further within, her eyes looked away as she rummaged further and further within-a look of satisfaction came over her as she pulled her hand out with a tiny sphere surrounded by a blue flame. She grinned devilishly before opening her mouth and devouring it whole. She licked her fingers and smiled. Those things weren't half bad! She'd have to do that again sometime. The looks on the faces of his companions made the taste all the better, but she didn't have the time to play with them. There would be reinforcements sooner rather than later.
    She picked up the spear head and threw it before catching it a couple of times, the third time she hurled it into the second guard's head and it pierced his skull. As his body broke free of the binding she rushed toward him and punched him in the chest with all of her weight in her first, hurling the body forward into the last of the six. As the two tumbled away and came to a halt the last thing he had seen was Su's grin and her crimson eyes as she brought down her claws.
    She licked the blood from her fingers and turned to her companion who solemnly stared at her, his mouth covered in blood and an eye hanging from it. “That's nasty dude. Hurry up and eat that. We can't stay here any longer.” She knew what she was doing now was not typical of her. She never had any particular taste for blood, let alone for the souls of humans but she sure as hell did now. They didn't taste bad, and she felt a sense of satisfaction so what could be the harm eating two or three? The part that bugged her most about it was that it was likely the old man's doing, but so long as the path she followed lead her to Asmodeus she didn't give a rat's ass about what happened along the way-most of the time. This was just a little bonus on the side.
    “Hailstorm!” The sound of a girl's voice cried out and icicles rained down upon the God's Governor.
    She grit her teeth as she was bombarded by the icicles and glared at her attacker. More annoyances had come, and she didn't have the time or patience for going up there to deal with it-they had two ways out here, and she knew for a fact there were more guards approaching from behind. “Go, TJ.” Su turned to a series of crimson spheres while the Abellan took off in the opposite direction. She solemnly sighed as she watched the Abellan move forward, and run into another pair of guards. Time for her to rescue him. She emerged from the crystal and immediately climbed onto his shoulders before holding out a hand. “Dance of Blades!” At her command three crimson swords appeared and soared towards their enemies. “That should buy us some time.” She placed both of her hands to her companion's shoulders. “Lust! Luxuria's Grip!” A dark energy surrounded the Abellan and she leapt from his shoulders up to the nearest building-a thin line extended from her and dragged his body with it, causing him to crash against the building before being pulled to the top in her wake. She broke the bond and he fell to the floor with a low thud before rising to his feet again.
    “We've spotted the hostiles! Their coordinates are...” One of the archers shouted to her companions, likely through guild chat.
    Su sighed. She should've expected that-she knew they were there, and there were more of them. She grabbed TJ by the arm and hurled him through the air as a barrage of bullets followed in her wake courtesy of the gatling gun of a Gunslinger among them. She caught her companion and leapt from the nearest building into the streets. In the light of a lampost she caught sight of a Gunslinger holding a single gun trained on the two-the sight sent chills down her spine. Her instincts screamed a myriad of things: dodge left, dodge right, jump into the alleyway, hide in the shadows, hit the floor, use a spell, do something! Moments before he fired his first shot she hurled TJ into the nearest alleyway before she dropped into the shadows.
    As she sunk into the darkness she cried out, “Poker Face!” The Gunslinger let the shot off and the sound of the gun firing was like a wild animal roaring-it was like nothing she had ever heard before, and she began to see why he only had one. That was not the typical Gunslinger's weapon, and it could only spell bad news. She caught a glimpse of the recoil from the shot and her focus shot towards the Abellan who lay face first against a wall-she'd missed, and he was wide open. At best she had maybe five more seconds before the dive's effect wore off-she had used TJ as the target but he had barely moved away from her. That matter aside she had to get to the gunner before she plugged his companion with that thing...but how?
    As she emerged from the shadows and he readied his next shot she decided to act then and there-if they could take on these forms, they could do more. She stormed forward and he caught a glimpse of her approaching-she side-stepped to predict his shot and he followed her movement before letting off another shot. Out of desperation she dove through the air and tendrils emerged from her shadow before surrounding her body and giving it the shape and speed of a panther. Before he could gasp she lunged at him and tore at his neck with her fangs before turning to the gun and grasping it within her teeth.
    “Storm Arrow!” Another Treasure Hunter shouted. The sounds of the string of his bow being pulled as he rapidly nocked and fired a series of arrows caught Su's attention and she immediately dashed into the darkness as the arrows rained upon the corpse of the previous adventurer. As he caught a glimpse of her he placed another arrow into his bow as he tried to fall back and she lunged at him, claws drawn. The claws tore through the armor and flesh and Su turned back to her previous form after, the taste of blood lingered as she dropped the gun from her mouth into the palm of her hand. It seemed their transformation ability had gotten a level up. Their nature was growing, and rapidly-too much and it might start to affect them throughout the day, if the event at the Pharaoh's Chamber was any indication.
    “There's more ove-” A guard just had appeared in the street and before he could even finish speaking a bullet pierced his chest and he gripped the bloody wound and looked at her in horror. The gun flew out of her hands and her right arm barely clung to the rest of her body.
    “Shit.” She muttered under her breath. What the hell was that gun called again? A magnug? She'd heard about them, and that they couldn't use a Gunslinger's SP but she'd never seen one let alone used one until just now. That thing was ridiculously strong-unnecessarily so. The next thing to turn the corner was her companion and she let out a slight huff. “Watch my back while I reattach my arm.” She began to perform the Shadow Suture spell once more and the Abellan took cover in the alleyways in case anyone else decided to show. “Hurry up and fill the quota. This is getting messy.” She sighed audibly and blinked slowly. “We're gonna need a new hunting ground after this disaster. A good criminal wouldn't strike the same place twice. This is like the third time.” He muttered something and she frowned. “Are you seriously griping about that? You could feed later or something I dunno. Get over it!”
    Shortly after she caught a glimpse of a pair of guards turning the corner and TJ flying at the two. Their cries followed after and one of his after one of them managed to plunge their spear into his ribs, but it proved to be his undoing. After pulling it out and pulling the guard in he bit the better half of his neck off. Wasn't a pretty sight, but Su was getting rather used to it by this juncture. He began to inscribe the markings for the sacrifice and she turned her head as the sound of more people approaching grabbed her attention, and his.
    “Finish the job. I can handle myself.” She ushered while still closing up her torn arm's wound. If she didn't attach it now there was a high chance it'd come off again and be even more of a pain to attach. She said that if Su wasn't careful with it, the effect would be completely irreversible-it wasn't like she needed it, but it'd be troublesome without it. Even she herself wondered if that bluff would hold fast as the footsteps came ever nearer. She wanted to rush it, but the more it came off and the more frequently she performed the spell, the effectiveness of it would wane.
    As she caught a glimpse of the shadows turning the corner suddenly they had stopped in place as the sound of water freezing sounded through the alleyway and chunks of ice emerged from around the corner, the footsteps and shouts of the guards coming to a sudden and eerie silence, and the magic lingering in the air. There was only one person who would do such a thing. She looked to the eaves of the buildings she rested between and caught a glimpse of the crimson eyes staring down on her before the night sky, before they turned away and the silhouette disappeared. That goddamn annoyance of a God's Governor just couldn't resist sticking her nose in her business.
    The Abellan returned to her with the flames of the completed ritual alight behind him. “Done? It's about goddamn ti-h-hey! The fuck're you doin'?!” He picked her up in his arms and  ran towards the frozen guards, using them as a stepping stone to reach the top of the building and make his way towards their origin point. Su pouted silently for a couple of moments before finally deciding to give him some direction. “We should get out of the city for the night. Let's head to the Mountains. If we try to go back to the Fight Arena or hide in the Fields we'll be found within the day.”
    He nodded solemnly at her words before he jumped from building to building, eventually returning to the main street and disappearing into the darkness that lingered outside of the city's reaches. Those that once lurked atop them may have fled or tried to save their fallen comrades, but for most of them it was far too late. As the Abellan carried her out of the city's watchful eyes she looked back with unease. She knew the time was coming that they'd have to do this, but the two would likely have to flee the city after the night's events. TJ was already notorious throughout Jienda after running with Iris and her merry bunch, and considering their battle in Elfa, the appearance of Avaritia and the fact that there were more Sinners-more of his siblings to come he would basically become a Demon Lord level candidate for being wanted. She looked into the beady crimson eyes that seemed to only see straight ahead and she sighed under her breath. He was like an annoying little brother. If she didn't look after him who was going to do it? She looked ahead as the Mountains came into view. It was a means to an end. She'd live.

    The ground was hard-was he really in his bed? TJ slowly opened his eyes and pulled himself from the ground before looking around bleary-eyed. The entire place was dark, and he was laying against stone, if the rock beneath his hand was an indication. His head was pounding, his glasses missing and his hat accompanying the other missing good. The entire place he was in was dark as the night and the sound of animals growling created a sense of unease deeper than he could fathom. He rubbed his eyes and glanced down from the ledge he was on to catch sight of a series of bears wandering about within the confines of a cave.
    “H-huh?” He asked as he knit his eyebrows. What on earth happened the previous night that lead him to a cave in the Mountains? Was he sleep-walking? The first time was nowhere near as bad as this though. “S-Su?” He asked as his body started to tremble.
    “What?” Her voice resounded from within his crystal and his body calmed down at the sound of her voice.
    “I-how did I wind up here? Do you remember? Or know?”
    “Yeah. I brought you here. It was either that or you get stuffed and mounted in someone's living room.”
    Though he did not understand what she meant by that and wanted to ask, his guild badge suddenly lit up and urged him to join in the chat. He tapped it twice with his index finger and listened in as the chat bustled.

    [Guild]Peorth: Everyone who is awake right now, please report your status immediately!
    [Guild]Kooh: Especially if you were in Elias recently! A lot of bad stuff's been going on!
    [Guild]Axle: No problems here Boss. What's wrong?
    [Guild]Amarylys: I'm alright too, but it really isn't like you to sound so panicked Peorth. Is everything alright?
    [Guild]Ken: I'm fine. I'm with Thee right now but he's not awake.
    [Guild]TJ: I'm okay too, more or less. What happened Chief?
    [Guild]Peorth: There is much to be discussed, but I shall not do it here. All those currently within Elias' borders, I urge you to gather to the Guild Room immediately. Those who are not, be wary of your surroundings especially during the night, and do not, I repeat, do not enter Elias until I have given the signal that it is safe!
    [Guild]Axle: I'll be there A.S.A.P.
    [Guild]TJ: I'm coming too. Just need a few minutes.
    [Guild]Amarylys: Be there soon. I'll see you guys there!

    TJ tapped the crystal again and the light it emitted dimmed. “This is bad...Amarylys was right. It really isn't like her to panic like that. Let's hurry Su! I'll ask about the details later!
    “Whatever,”  She answered.
    He drew his warp crystal and as he prepared to teleport he placed a hand to his chest as he looked out at the scene before him. Was he in danger? Was the reason that he had wound up here related to the events that unfolded in Elias? Unease washed over him like a tidal wave as he returned to the city.

    The sun was obscured by clouds and the city was bustling, but not in a good way. People were in a panic, some rushing about to get out of the city while others clamoured about big news and murders, each going to and fro, dragging the Abellan in each and every direction in the tidal wave of people.
    “Excuse me-I need to get through! Sorry!” He bumped into people here and there and his cries seemed to be washed away amidst all the noise and panic as he struggled to make his way to the palace's gates. The moment he reached them he saw a pair of guards standing tall at the entrance and watching as the people frantically ran about.
    “TJ, over here!” Nan's voice caught his attention and he caught her standing nearby the entrance and waving, a worried expression on her face. “Were you looking for an audience with King Hejong or Guild Room entrance?” He feared he would not be allowed either, but he decided to place his bets on the latter anyway.
    “I need to go to the Guild Room. Is it closed too?” The nervousness in his voice was obvious to him also, and though out of breath he prayed that he could convey the urgency of the matter and have his wish granted.
    “No, it's open. If you're ready I can send you there now.”
    He nodded. “Please.” She held out a hand to him and the familiar sensation of travelling to the Guild Room came over him.

    Within he found a fair amount of his guild members gathered around Shabur, their voices frantically mixed in a jumble of differing stories, shared knowledge and personal opinions on exactly what happened.
    “There are bodies littered everywhere!” Amarylys said with a grand gesture.
    “I'd heard there was a bloodbath...headless corpses, gunshot wounds, crushed bodies and some killed by their own weapons. The whole shebang. The city's guard closed off most of the streets while they investigate and clean up.” Axle added with a squeamish expression.
    “Chaos! It's become utter chaos!” Deva shouted as he placed both hands to his temples.
    “Everyone, please calm down! Let us speak one at a time and consider this matter from all sides of the spectrum! We must be reasonable and come to a consensus on how we should proceed with what we know on the matter.” Peorth said to the guild as a whole. The group nodded and answered in acknowledgement.
    “I just got here so can you guys fill me in on what happened?” The Abellan asked as he approached the group. Many of them sent uneasy glances, even Shabur seemed a tad unsettled by the news.
    “Please do not panic as I deliver this news to you, TJ.” The guild master answered with a grave expression. “There has been another series of murders within the city. Both adventurers and the city's guard alike were slain last night, but we know not what had performed this or how it had gotten past the city's defenses. What we do know is that this criminal, be it Agasura or Human I know not, but we must be on our guard at all times. The fact that is has gotten this far and performed such actions means that it may be time for us to intervene-this may be something beyond what Humanity can manage. I fear for the worst, but I will get in touch with some of the other guild masters and see if I can arrange for them to gather information and send in some of their forces to suppress the threat before it can strike again.”
    TJ bit down on his lip as she delivered the news and the unease within grew by the second. “It wasn't...him, right? I mean, if he did those things you'd know right?” TJ did not want to doubt Vanir but there were two people in the city who had an Agasuric nature-him, and the barista-that number became three if he was to include Su.
    She shook her head. “This is a matter I had once suspected also, but I with the help of other Confidants have concluded that he is not the culprit.”
    He nodded gravely. Was it possible that he had something to do with it? But if so, why would Su suggest that she got him out of the city because he was in danger? He was afraid to rule out the possibility that he was the culprit, but if there was another at large and he turned himself in, what would happen to him? Who would defeat the Sinners if he was locked up after being suspected of being the criminal? He grit his teeth and looked forlornly at the guild master. What could he tell her? What should he? He decided to hold his tongue for the time being until he had definitive proof of what he had suspected-if there was something else out there, he would have to be wary of it. After all, it could be after him too.
    “So what do you think we should do from here on out Boss?” Axle asked as he crossed his arms.
    “For the time being I'd like all those who are not a Bashutz or above to remain within their homes at night until the morning comes. I know not what is out there, but I do not wish for you to find yourselves in danger. I shall pass this message on to the others at the first opportunity I get. Anyone who is that rank or above, if you are to patrol the city I wish you to have at least one ally with you. It is too dangerous to travel without a companion-watch each other's blind spots, and if you do discover the culprit prioritize survival. Call out to anyone in the near vicinity and regroup or escape as quickly as possible.
    “Aye aye Boss lady.” The Blader responded with a salute.
    “For the time being, I would like all of you to consider what you would like to do in the coming days. There are still requests for dispatch missions that need be fulfilled, for those who are free currently, Bashutz and above, I have tasks that I would like you to complete. Everyone else is dismissed, but I would like for you to respond to the question prior to the day's end.” Deva and Amarylys gave solemn nods before exiting the guild room and the Abellan pointed to himself-he was no Bashutz, and had not the foggiest what rank that was but he felt unsure if he was needed anyway. “I would like you to stay for the time being TJ,” Ppeorth responded.
    “What've you got on the plate for us Boss?” Axle asked with a raised eyebrow.
    She closed her eyes. “Axle, if you could retrieve Klone and scout out the city for anything suspicious, including potential clues, rumours and any knowledge that you can gather about the recent events, including the identities of those who were slain. There may be a connection among them-especially those that have the circles drawn beneath them.
    “Leave it to me,” At those words he left the guild room.
    “Kooh, I wish for you to go to Vanir immediately and find out if he has any findings on the recent events. If it has anything to do with...them I would like to hear all that he knows about it.”
    “What're you gonna do Princess? I'm afraid to take my eyes off you with a murderer running about,” The God's Governor answered as she knit her eyebrows.
    The guild master chuckled lightly. “I will not engage in any dangerous activities. I will return home and write letters to send to the other guild masters to request their cooperation. I will look through Memorius Sanctum and any other historical texts also to find out if there is knowledge we can glean from them.”
    “Okay. I'll go there and be back before you know it.”
    “You have my thanks. Once you have spoken with him report your findings to me. There may be other tasks that I need you to accomplish.”
    “You can count on me Princess!” With those words she ran off while waving.
    “TJ.” She began and he immediately jumped at her voice. “You are the one that concerns me currently most of all.” Did she suspect what he had thought too? What did she plan to do? He could feel the hairs on his neck stand on end as a newfound fear began to settle in the pit of his stomach. “You may be in the most danger of all of us.”
    He felt as if his heart stopped beating for a moment before restarting suddenly. “W-what?” He asked in both shock and disbelief.
    “We know that whatever is out there is without a doubt, an Agasura. The fact that it has constantly targeted Elias may be proof that whatever is out there is looking for something-most likely you. Though our contract has bound us together, if there is one thing in the world that can break it, it would be that of the proxy of the opposing faction. It is not entirely illogical that Choen Palm or one of Agasura King Asmodeus' minions has infiltrated the city, and in order to see his revival through has started slaying both citizens and adventurers alike. I have the sneaking suspicion that the reason they are doing this is on purpose, potentially to put the city on guard. I have noticed that the amount of circles has increased substantially since this first began, and the fact that there are now more targets seeking out the culprit has resulted in more deaths.” She paused for a moment, her eyebrows furrowed slightly giving her off a slight vibe of distress. “It pains me to have to send out my members to investigate the matter, but they too, are Cerebians. I cannot shelter them from fear of harm coming their way. We too, must fight this battle as will the others that I will request aid from.” She sighed gently. “Nevertheless, it may be in your best interest if you were removed from this scenario. I have no doubts that you could put a stop to the culprit, but if you are harmed severely against it and another Sinner appears we will all be in much graver danger. It was a miracle that Bastion and Uprising were there to manage who had entered the Instance Dungeon, but we may not be so fortunate next time. There were many adventurers with complaints on the matter, and to this day Eli Kraus and Uprising is still sifting through all of them.”
    TJ scratched his cheek. The poor guy really got the short end of the stick in that matter. Salem and the others in Bastion were fortunate for having to not get that also, but they likely did not have the numbers that the former guild did, so they would have less of a hand in that. “But I don't get it,” He muttered as he knit his eyebrows. “I mean, the dungeon was a really dangerous place! We were pretty lucky we made it out in on-” He paused mid-way as Peorth's expression changed from one of curiosity to one of worry. It was difficult to say for sure but just by the look in her eyes it had proven rather telling. “I mean, it was a bit rough around the edges but we still managed alright! S-still...that shouldn't be a place people should jump into at the drop of a hat.”
    Peorth nodded gravely. “I had debriefed RoboCurt at the specifics of what had occurred within the Instance Dungeon and he had informed me that it actively changed shape as time progressed. To think that the longer we delay, the stronger the Agasura within the Instance Dungeon, as does the place itself become. It may be best if you remain on standby until the next Instance Dungeon appears. We know not where, or when, but the possibility that Uprising or any of the other guilds will be able to manage it is highly unlikely. At times, adventurers are not completely unwilling to use force against other adventurers-even outside of the Fight Arena. I pray that it is not near any of the cities.” She placed her hands together and bowed. “I must go for the time being. Business must be attended to, but I shall return later on after submitting these letters. If you are still here, I shall find you, but if not I recommend that you keep an eye on your guild badge so that you may know when I am to seek you out.”
    At those words he blinked. His mind was abuzz at the possibilities, but they had all settled on one specific thought. He reached into his pocket and drew her shard of the Heart of Yggdrasil and held it out to her. “Chief, thank you for lending this to me.” She accepted it but wore a confused expression in turn. “I want you to hold onto it though. I can't really explain it but...” He scratched his cheek as he laughed gently. “Well...I feel a bit safer when you have it.” He took a deep breath and offered her a smile. “You know, when we were in the dungeon it protected me. Gave me strength when I needed it most, and thanks to that we won the fight. I felt like you were there with me. There might be a time where it'll protect you too, in case I'm not there to. And I guess...in a sense I feel like we're a bit closer this way.”
    She nodded and held it close to her chest. “If you wish then I shall do just that. Thank you.”
    “H-hmm? Oh you don't have to thank me. It's not like I gave it to you or anything.” He answered with an awkward grin.
    This brought a smile to her face. “Quite contrary.” She bowed once more and said, “I shall remain in touch. It would be wise to keep a low profile TJ. Until we meet again.” She made her way out and he watched solemnly.
    He looked to Sellistar and Shabur before raising an eyebrow. “Which of you knows what 'quite contrary' means?”
    “My apologies Power TJ, but I've not the foggiest.” Shabur asked with half of his smile revealed behind his mask.
    The guild crop shifted only to shrug for the Abellan before she too responded, “I have not the slightest either Little Abellan.” It was hard to say whether her smile was any bigger than usual or not, but he could not help but suspect the two were playing a prank on him. “It may do you well to ask the guild master herself.”
    He huffed and blew a few locks of hair from his eyes. “Su?”
    She emerged from the gem with an expectant look. “Yeah? What?” She asked. As he opened his mouth to ask she clicked her tongue. “Don't even bother asking me that stupid question. I couldn't give less of a shit about that.”
    “Alrighty then,” He answered.
    “More importantly,” She began, “If there's something or someone out there who's trying to kill you, rather than just lazing about I think you should prepare for them.”
    He crossed his arms-she was right. Whenever he needed to prepare for an epic confrontation, he would train beforehand. Perhaps she could not pass on some new techniques, but a bit of training might help him improve in some other aspects. “What should we do?”
    She placed a hand to her hip and sighed. “Well an idiot as stupidly strong as you are doesn't need to focus on getting stronger right now. You'd sooner just become destructive and that's the last damn thing we need. Your defense sucks. I say we work on that.”
    He knit his eyebrows. “I'm a Bard.”
    “I-idiot! You don't think I know that?!” She furrowed her brows. “Obviously we're not gonna be working on that defense! You'd be completely useless if you were stuck in a suit of armour!” She sighed and shrugged. “You don't need great armour if you don't get hit. Sure you can just heal your wounds, but we don't have time for you to stand around healing yourself all the time if you decide to be on the front-lines. That ability of yours is handy, sure, but you're completely stuck in place, along with every other song you play. To top it off you got swallowed by a goddamn oversized snake. If we didn't get you out of there you'd have easily been his lunch.”
    TJ chuckled dryly and Sellistar looked down on him uneasily. “It would be best if you were more careful in the dungeons Abellan,” The Crop remarked.
    “T-to say the least...” He muttered as he rubbed the back of his neck.
    “If you wanna stay alive, speed will be your best friend. Good thing I'm here to help you get up to speed.” There was a glint in her eye at that pun and he snickered lightly. “So you ready or what?”
    The Abellan blinked. “We're doing it here?”
    The God's Governor pursed her lips. “You wanna do it in the city?”
    That was not the response he had expected but it practically said what better place is there? “What happens if we damage the place?”
    Shabur removed his mask. “It is not a problem Power TJ. The Guild Room is, after all, an Instance Dungeon through and through. The only thing that will change over the time of your leaving and return is the status of Order Sellistar's growth. Any damage done shall be undone upon your next visit.” The Instance Dungeons were a mystery he was still yet to solve also, but in time he would come to understand them a bit better, among other things.
    “Well that's that.” Su said before snapping her fingers. A series of spheres of water surrounded her before turning to snowballs. “I'd recommend you start running. Training starts now.” He raised a finger to object and a snowball hit him in the face, nearly knocking him off his feet. “You were warned!” She laughed.
    He immediately dashed to Sellistar and hopped over one of her roots before peeking around her trunk's right leg. “You call this training?!”
    “I could be throwing rocks at ya'.” Su said as she tossed and caught a snowball. “What better way to get faster than running about?”
    Sellistar tilted her head to look down at the Abellan before urging him from behind her with a gentle push. “You must forgive me young Abellan but I do not fair well with the cold.” She said.
    A snowball flew over his head as he crouched to the floor to take cover behind her roots and broke out into a dash afterwards. Su chased after him while laughing, calling upon and hurling more snowballs in his wake. Most flew past him as he turned in every way he could, but one of them caught his arm and he stumbled before running around the fountain.
    “Don't run!” She shouted with a devilish grin. “I can't throw a curveball!”
    “Whaddya mean don't run?! I'm not taking that! No way! And you told me to run!”
    She had a bundle of snowballs in her hand and she immediately dropped them to the floor while wearing a blank expression. He blinked. Had she given up? That did not seem like her in the slightest, so what exactly had changed? “Fine, have it your way.” He gave her a wary but confused look as he slowly came out from hiding. When he did he saw her looking down, her bangs covered her face. The last time she had done that, she had something important to say. Perhaps now too would be the same? He walked over and held out a hand to tap her on the shoulder, but as he neared he saw her lips curl into a smirk. She raised a finger and five spheres of light surrounded her. “Changed my mind! The real training starts now!”
    “Y-you tricked me!” He shouted as an Arrow of Light collided with his stomach and forced him back. They were not as dangerous as they normally would be, but she made sure to put enough mana in for them to pack a punch. As he rose to his full height again another flew towards him and he knew he was in for trouble.

    “Urrgh...” He let out a long exhausted groan as he lay down face first against Sellistar's roots. There were marks on his body from the places the Arrows of Light had struck, but the worst they had done to his clothes was rumple them. His body on the other hand felt like it was pounded into submission by a hundred fists. Su had returned to the crystal and Sellistar offered him a seat upon her while he regained his stamina, considering there were not many other comfortable things in the guild room for him to sit on-his options being the floor or one of the landings equally as hard.
    His guild badge began to glow and he tapped it twice.

    [Guild]Peorth: TJ, are you there?
    [Guild]TJ: Yep. What's up Chief?
    [Guild]Peorth: Kooh had come up with a remedy for our current problem concerning you.
    [Guild]TJ: What's that?
    [Guild]Kooh: We're taking you on a vacation to Belos!
    He could not help but laugh at her response and the enthusiasm that accompanied it. Typical Kooh, but at this point in time it was rather refreshing. The day's events were still on his mind and hearing her usual cheerful voice made him feel a bit at ease.
    [Guild]TJ: Did I win LaDeck or something?
    [Guild]Kooh: You won the LaDeck of my heart! Put a dart right through it!
    He covered his face both out of embarrassment and humour. She was in a league of her own when it came to pure silliness.
    [Guild]Peorth: Kooh please. This is a serious matter. TJ, we have arranged for somewhere for you to find sanctum in Belos while we investigate this matter further. I will bring you some accessories that you may wear so that you are more difficult to distinguish.
    [Guild]Kooh: Vanir said that he heard from Lucia and the other girls that you're the talk of the town, but not in a good way. Supposedly people are both on the lookout for you because you're a hot topic, and because they wanna bring you in! If the wrong person catches a glimpse of you they might turn you in.
    [Guild]TJ: ...This is because of Avaritia, isn't it?
    [Guild]Kooh: Ding dong! Correct you are Little Lamb!
    [Guild]TJ: Figures.
    [Guild]Peorth: Word travels quickly among adventurers, and rumours even faster. Bounty hunters always keep an ear open to catch wind of such events, and this bounty extends not only from Elfa, but also the surrounding cities. After the chaos that occurred in the city they wish to resolve the problem as quickly as possible. You must remain vigilant at all times, now more than ever.
    [Guild]TJ: Alright. I'll try to keep a low profile for the time being. When should I set out for Belos?
    [Guild]Peorth: You need not do so. I am currently on my way to the Guild Room now. Please wait there for me.
    [Guild]TJ: Will do. I'll see you soon Chief.

    He tapped his guild badge twice and sighed gently. A vacation huh? That was one way of putting it-he laughed dryly at the thought. A myriad of possibilities stood before him, but for the time being perhaps it was a good idea. He was worried about his companions, but he believed in Yggdrasil, and with help from Eli and the others they would likely get along just fine. A small part of him still felt that they may have been in danger, but he did his best not to worry more than necessary. If he was the target, then it would follow him to Belos, and he would sleep with one eye open to catch the criminal in the act. When he did, he would settle the score once and for all-as for his siblings, that was another matter in and of itself, but one that he would pursue when the time came.
    After a brief few minutes Peorth entered the Guild Room with a bundle of clothes in hand with the fake glasses atop them.
    “I have returned,” She said dutifully.
    TJ grinned. “Welcome back Chief,” He responded.
    “They are but some spare clothes and this accessory Kooh had recently acquired, but I think this shall suffice. Not many adventurers are familiar with your attire, therefore I believe that so long as we keep your appearance hidden you shall pass without issue.”
    Did that mean that bundle belonged to her? It seemed to be a folded black sweater, a large pink paw mark with two smaller others was embroidered upon it. He removed his glasses and took the pair from her before putting it on, then the sweater after. He raised his hands to unbutton his coat then paused and knit his eyebrows. How could he do something so shameless there and then? He did have a shirt underneath but the idea of undressing while she was watching was too much to bear. In place of that he threw the sweater over his head and struggled for a couple of moments before managing to put his head through the hole and his arms in the sleeves. He adjusted the glasses and gave the guild master an approving nod.
    “How's this? Do I look a bit more unrecognizable?”
    She placed a hand to her lips. “Perhaps...it would be best if you cover your hair too? I would recommend that you raise the hood.” He nodded solemnly once before reaching back and pulling the hood over his head. He had to admit, it was pretty snug. What he did not realize though, was that there were a pair of ears atop the hoodie.
    “How's that?”
    The guild master solemnly looked on with flushed cheeks. “...Magnificent.” She bowed to Sellistar and Shabur. “Well then, we shall be on our way. Good day Sellistar, Shabur.”
    “I wish you safe travels.” Shabur answered with a bow in turn.
    “Be well your highness.”
    “Shall we TJ?” She asked as she held out a hand.
    “Yep. Let's get going.” He smiled slightly as he placed his hand in hers and the two exited the Guild Room.

    Upon returning to the fray that was Elias Peorth drew her warp crystal and held it out between the two. After a couple of moments the two teleported away and found themselves in the town of Belos-only a few days away from the City of Elias, but much more peaceful and easygoing. The familiar scenery of the rollings hills and the small houses and cabins littered across the valley was reminiscent of the beginning of TJ's journey, and it made him wonder how the benefactors he had awoken to were faring throughout his quest. He had not seen them since, and decided there that if he were to find the time that he would return to pay them a visit. After gazing longingly at the Traveller's Bar for a couple moments he turned back to his guild master who carefully put her warp crystal away and gave him an acknowledging nod.
    “The location is not very far from here. I shall show you the way.” She said before walking off.
    The Abellan quickly pursued her as she walked off the main street and onto a dirt path that lead to a variety of places, from homes of the townspeople to all sorts of little stores outside of the market. The others seemed to specialize in everyday things, from tailors to markets that sold food and miscellaneous baubles and even a store that sold various goods adventurers might take an interest in. The two went further on, Peorth keeping a brisk but steady pace that was easy to keep up with, while remaining focused on the road. The Abellan looked here and there, seeing the sides of the town he had not taken to see his first time around. Perhaps in the coming days he would come to know all of Belos, and see it as a place that he would become more acquainted and comfortable with.
    Eventually the two walked off the dirt road towards a house closer to the top of one of the hills and nearer to the mountains that were still a fair distance off, but the lone house still stood tall and proud. Peorth approached it and opened the door before entering with TJ in tow. As he followed after her he glanced around the room they were in, but it was rather dark-he could not see much within, and though there were windows they seemed to be covered.
    “Wow...it's awfully dark in here.” He scratched his cheek as he chuckled. The guild master took off her shoes and took a few steps into the house as he did the same. “It reminds me of th-”
    Part way through his sentence the curtains were opened and light poured into the room as a majority of his guild members shouted, “WELCOME HOME TJ!”
    “Gah!” he cried out as he held a hand out to block the light before he was covered in confetti and streamers from both crackers and a party ball alike. “Welcome home?” As he lowered his hands and looked upon the house, he saw his guild members gathered beneath the party ball and as the confetti fell to the ground he caught a glimpse of a banner behind it all that said 'TJ and Su's Housewarming Party'. “H-huh?!”
    “This is yours now, TJ.” Peorth said before his guildmates lifted off his feet-they carried him over to a green sofa and Kooh and Axle took him by the legs and arms before throwing him onto it.
    A bit shaken up but still functioning he took off the fake glasses and gave the guild master a puzzled stare. “This belongs to Su and I? How much did this house cost?”
    The guild master smiled. “Nothing. We did not buy it, after all. We built it.”
    “Just took a little  man-power and elbow grease.” Axle added with a grin.
    “The princess called in a few favours too!” Kooh said as she wrapped her arms around the guild master's neck.
    “I handled all of the architectural details,” Robo said. It had been some time since TJ last saw him out of his MG but there was a very good chance he would not be able to get it through the door. “Matters such as that are within my realm of knowledge, second to my engineering know-how.”
    “Uh-huh. The whole guild came together to complete this project. Planning, building, every stage of the way we all partook, and all of those requests we took up helped us net some good stuff. Both ely for decorating the place and furniture at the boss' request.” Thee explained as he sat down on an arm of the chair.
    “You should take a look around TJ. We've got everything laid out for you, but you can move it around however you like later.” Amarylys said with a wide grin.
    He glanced at the two then squinted his eyes. “Hold on a sec', some of you guys were in the Guild Room just a little while ago. Did all of you come here after leaving?” There was a group of mumurs of acknowledgement and a couple of laughs had in the span of then and TJ's next words. “So sneaky.”
    “Cue the music Curt!” Kooh shouted.
    “How do I even work this thing?” Curt asked as he gazed upon a single green prism that levitated above the kitchen counter. He reached out to it and it emitted a bright light as it began to turn, and music began to play-but nothing like TJ had ever heard before.
    Once the music began the guild started mingling amongst themselves and Kooh approached TJ. “Come with me.” She said offering him a hand and he gave her a curious look. “You can't face your guests looking like that, can you?” Was it his lack of glasses? He took out his pair and put them back on before she chuckled. “That's not the problem. I do like the hoodie though!” She took his hand and pulled him upstairs into one of the bedrooms, closing the door afterwards.
    He glanced around curiously in the moments he entered, seeing a bed, a desk, a couple of dressers and a closet near a window=a very standard but comfortable looking room. Then the door shut. He turned to Kooh and she smiled. There was something off about it-he could not say what it was, but there was definitely something off about it.
    “Alright TJ. Clothes come off,” She said without hesitation.
    “That...that's not happening,” He answered matter-of-factly.
    Kooh pursed her lips and he glared with exasperation. It may have happened once, but whatever reason Kooh had for this could not compare to that. Dress him once, shame on him, dress him twice, there were a variety of problems that need be addressed.
    “TJ, you know there are two ways we could do this.”  He backed away and she inched forward. “There's the easy way, and then there's my way.” Neither way was good.
    “What's wrong with my current attire? I rather like it, thank you very much!” Did he? He was not so fond of it at first but it kinda grew him over the time he spent adventuring it. That and it was made by Verun and Marin, so it certainly had some sentimental value. Despite being damaged and dirty, again.
    “Vanir went through all the trouble of getting you some new threads and that's all you have to say?” Vanir did? Why would he do that? Kooh smiled. “Time's up Little Lamb!” She tackled him onto the bed and pulled off Peorth's hoodie and his glasses along with it.
    “W-wait hold on! I can do this myself!” He cried out as she attempted to unbutton the coat.
    “You could, but it's much more fun this way. For both of us.” He was not having fun, and he felt sure that she was aware of that. If there was anyone else that could be included, it would either have to be Su, or Freya. That never seemed to be Su's cup of tea and Freya seemed to have a very...unique interest in him. If that was the case...
    “Lewd! You sisters are just plain lewd!” He shouted in defense. She was the stronger of the two, so she overpowered him sooner rather than later.
    “Hehe I know.” She smiled before looking upon him. “We're both girls right?” Like hell they were. “Can't do this with the Princess though. She's got an iron defense. Defenseless little lambs are right in my strike zone though!” She laughed as she stuck her tongue out.
    “D-don't give me that!” At this point he was struggling to keep his undershirt on. It was over quickly.
    It was not long before he stood in his underwear with his chest covered. “I hope you're satisfied.” He muttered briefly after.
    “Oh I am. It was a real feast for the eyes,” Kooh chuckled before sliding under the bed and coming back out with a small black box-it was wrapped with a white ribbon and had an item atop it that looked like a pair of earmuffs. There were skulls emblazoned on both sides which were black, and the band between it was white. “Here you go!”
    avatar
    TJ

    Posts : 873
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 24
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sat Apr 18, 2015 4:14 pm

    Pages 166-176:
    He removed a hand to take it and looked at her incredulously. “A present? Why now of all times?”
    “It's Vanir's gift to you. Though you already know what it is so let's get you in it!”
    He removed the earmuffs and looked at them oddly before undoing the ribbon and opening the box. The contents included a black jacket lined with fake fur and a leopard-print inside, a pair of stylishly torn maroon pants, black boots, a matching collar and belt with a silver buckle. There was also a very thin and seemingly small sleeveless top. Could he really fit into that? With a sigh he glanced over his old torn outfit and considered his options. He would not have to be clad in pink any longer, and it too, was a gift. Perhaps he was overdue for a change of image?
    He slipped into the top and put on the pants before keeping it held aloft by the belt. He then slid his arms into the sleeves of the jacket and pulled it up to his shoulders, then tried on the boots. They fit rather nicely, and overall the outfit was pretty snug. The God's Governor had to help him with the collar since he had not the foggiest what it was or what it did-but after putting it on he recalled seeing Skuld wearing something of the sort, though hers had a bell upon it. Despite the fact, there were two things that concerned him-why did it include earmuffs, and why did the shirt show his belly button? He decided to take up the matter with Kooh.
    “Hey Kooh, what's up with this?” He asked before patting his stomach. “It's crazy embarrassing! I don't want people to see it! If this is a winter outfit why is it sleeveless, but comes with earmuffs?!”
    “Earmuffs?” She asked before she burst out into laughter. “Those aren't earmuffs TJ. They're headphones!” She took them and placed them upon his head. She took a couple steps back and gave an approving nod. “Looks pretty good to me.” She eyed him for head to toe. “You look just like one of the Musica Clan.”
    He tilted his head quizzically. “Who are they?” The only clan he knew of was Iris', and even then he barely knew a thing about them. To hear that there were others would throw him for a loop.
    “A clan that specializes in music of course! They go way back though. One of them, Sonia, still hangs out around Atlantis' main district. I hear they're on pretty good terms with the mayor too, so if you're curious you should go up and ask her! ...'Cause I dunno a thing about them.” She grinned and he sighed. “Though I give the new look an 'A plus'!” She offered him a thumbs-up.
    “A wha?” He shook his head before covering his body uneasily once more. “You're not gonna suddenly undress me again are you?”
    She pursed her lips and knit her eyebrows. “I said I was satisfied. Unless you want me to.”
    He raised his hands in surrender. “No thanks.”
    The God's Governor grinned and nodded. “Too bad! Maybe next time then? If you do change your mind come and see me. You've still got a lot to learn TJ.” Learn? Learn what? If it had anything to do with that or doing that he could do without. “Alright let's go join the others.”

    The pair returned to the group and as he came down the stairs some of his guild mates whistled while others shouted their compliments. He felt a bit embarrassed at all the stares so he quickly made his way through the crowd and closer to the entrance where he caught a glimpse of Peorth solemnly standing and sipping at a drink.
    “H-hey Chief.” He said as he walked over and waved.
    She blinked, her eyes seemingly losing focus for a moment before her mouth opened slowly. “Hello TJ. You have changed outfits. The new look is very fitting for a musician such as yourself.” Her eyes shifted away for a moment before returning to meet his. “If there is anyone in Jienda that would be knowledgeable in both the musical and magical arts, or rather, the magical aspects of the musical arts, it would be the Musica Clan. Their knowledge is said to have been passed down from generation to generation creating both music for entertainment and battle-supposedly at one point the family had branched off into two, those who pursued the technological aspect of music and those who pursued the magical. Their efforts can be seen all across Jienda to this very day, but much of their knowledge is still shared and can be learned from the descendants of the clan. I believe the outfit you wear now is a creation by one of its members.” Her cheeks flushed briefly for a moment as she took a drink. “But I digress.” She gazed down at the glass before turning her eyes to him. “Are you...enjoying yourself?”
    He grinned. “Yep. I had an encounter of the strange kind with Kooh but she had given me this outfit and said it was from Vanir. I'll have to thank him when I see him, but I do wonder why he'd sent me new clothes. He seemed to rather like making fun of how much pink I wore. Both he and Su,” TJ muttered sullenly.
    “It is not an entirely unusual occurrence mind you. In the current circumstances, guests often bring gifts to decorate the house during a housewarming party. Perhaps this is his gift to you? Though it may not seem like much, certain outfits that can be won and claimed from the GMA's associate Toma are, like many sets of armour and weapons, enchanted despite being nothing more than mere clothes. Not only can they be worn atop armour, they also bolster the statistics of the wearer. Upon donning them or doing battle in them, you may feel stronger, faster, or that you are growing at a much more rapid rate. Though they are difficult to acquire, I strongly believe that they are worth the effort. That matter aside, many of the items within your house currently were acquired by  the members of Yggdrasil It would be best to thank them, as for your warp crystal that was a gift for you from Kooh. It was fortunate that she had given it to you then.”
    There was no doubt about that, and he was thankful for it. Despite her crazy antics, she was very thoughtful. “Thank you too, Chief.” He was not sure what she had done, but he felt certain that she had played a prominent role in seeing this through.
    “You have no need of thanking me, as I had not actively partaken in this project.” She answered coolly.
    “Ugh she's full of it.” Su muttered within the crystal. “She suggested the whole damn thing, makes a donation and decides to play it off? This whole scene makes me gag.” She emerged from within the crystal and went over to the kitchen counter.
    Peorth looked on silently while TJ chuckled gently. “W-well...it was about time she came out and joined the party too. This is for both of us, after all.” The guild master always worked so hard for his sake. Be it secretly or openly, she put in more effort than he could ask for. To become strong enough to stand beside her would only be  a stepping stone-to see her ideals through and to become someone much, much more important to her...he would make that his goal, and reach ever higher. Though he did wonder how Su found that out.
    “TJ, do not let me keep you. This is a party for you also, so you should mingle with everyone. By all means, enjoy yourself.”
    He nodded solemnly-he wanted to talk with her a bit more, but she was not likely going anywhere in a hurry either. “I'll do that. I'll be around Chief. Have fun!”
    She smiled slightly. “I will be around.”
    TJ parted with the guild master and stopped at the counter where Curt tinkered with the gem and Robo examined it curiously. Su ran her finger along the rim of her cup while looking bored.
    “You done flirting already? It's a new record,” Su muttered under her breath.
    “Flirting?” TJ asked incredulously. He had no idea what that meant, but her tone sounded scornful so he tried to sound offended in response. He thought it was pretty good.
    “Well at least you and the Chief are getting along well. All hell would break loose if you couldn't, after all.” Curt said as he spun the gem with a finger. The music that played changed at his touch.
    Staying in sync-of course. No sync, no Frequency. No Frequency, TJ would likely find himself in a very, very bad situation. “You can say that again. But nothing too bad has happened so far so I'm not too worried right now.”
    “Complacency serves as a breeding ground to weakness, TJ. It'd be best to be prepared for any situation, mind you.” Robo commented with a keen look at the gem, and at that he sounded eerily similar to Peorth herself. “I would, however be willing to spend ample amounts of time into discerning the inner workings of this here jewel. It seems to hold a myriad of songs uncommon to Jienda, and yet it also seems to be nothing more than an enchanted jewel. Not even the Musica Clan has such unusual technology.”
    “Where did you guys find it anyway?”
    “Kooh borrowed it from that Confidant Vanir, apparently,” Curt mentioned.
    Su rolled her eyes. “Figures. Those two idiots are the most likely to get chummy. May as well make off to some distant island and take that stupidity with them,” She hissed.
    TJ chuckled dryly, both at the idea of what she had said and the fact that she likely had to watch as Kooh made a show out of undressing him. After remembering that moment and the newly acquired thought, he could feel the heat in his face rising. Like one God's Governor was not enough. “Vanir's got a lot of unique stuff huh? You think he'd tell us where he gets all of it?”
    “Impossible,” Curt muttered.
    “I applaud your desire to learn TJ, but you must keep in mind that the secrets of the world and those beyond our own will very rarely, if ever be divulged. There are several other worlds, excluding Midgard and Asgard that the common person knows little of, if any. In fact, most don't even know that they exist!” Robo crossed his arms. “Nevertheless, what a Confidant such as Vanir knows he will not likely tell. Knowledge is often something not given, but discovered! Seek and ye shall find!”
    “You're one to talk.” Su sniffed and furrowed her brows. “Diving from a freakin' ship in the sky and being a look-a-like of that clown there? Who the fuck're you anyway?”
    Robo scratched his cheek. “It isn't particularly a secret...I could tell you the details of my creation if it's what you truly want. But what good would it do?”
    “None. At all. So much so that I can barely be bothered to care. You both suck anyway.”
    “Them's fightin' words.” Curt hissed as he glared at Su and she slammed her glass down.
    “I could take both of you to pound town right here, right now. You wanna throw down?”
    TJ sighed. These two seemed to fight even more in times of peace than they would when Agasura loomed around every corner-the opposite could be said for Su and Amata. He walked off before things got out of hand and he got dragged into it. Robo could likely diffuse the situation by himself. As TJ waded through the crowd he felt someone's arms wrap around his waist and pull him back. Scared out of wits he turned back with a silent look of surprise and curiosity to find Kooh smiling at him.
    “Where are you off to Little Lamb?” She asked in a sing-song voice.
    That voice alone spelt bad news. He could feel it welling up in the pit of his stomach and he knew he had to flee before she dragged him into one of her usual antics. “U-upstairs.” He answered.
    “Let's go together. I need to teach you something!” He shook his head rapidly. “Oh come now, can't you put on a little something for the guests?”
    He furrowed his brow. “I'm not putting on anything else! No way!”
    “I didn't mean it like that. I meant putting on a sort of...performance. You know?”
    He tilted his head as he pondered the statement. His guitar playing had improved by a substantial amount over the past while-if he was to play Velvet's song he would not accidentally summon her and likely freak out his guild mates, so long as he did not sing the lyrics. What could the harm be? “I guess I could. I left my guitar in that room upstairs though.”
    “Oh pssh you won't need that silly old thing!”
    He stared blankly at her. “...Huh?”
    The next thing he knew she lifted him by his legs and placed him atop a long tea table in the center of the room. “Time to put on a show! You strut that stuff girlfriend!”
    He looked down on her. “No! Absolutely not!”
    She wrapped her arms around his legs and looked up to him with tears in her eyes. “Please? For me?”
    His anger waned-his resolve faltered and the eyes began to break through his defenses. “I...I...” He sighed, defeated. “Let's just get this over with so I can jump into a hole.”
    “You're so cooperative TJ!” Kooh said with a grin. He would have to get her back later, and comply now. How, he had not the slightest clue but somehow he would. “You can come down for now.”
    He stepped down and knit his eyebrows. “So what is it you want me to do?”
    Kooh nodded sagely before stroking an imaginary beard. “Well well well...since you're now wearing this magnificent set of clothes what more could you do than live it up to the fullest? Show me your model walk!” He blinked slowly and she frowned. “Don't know what that is huh?” He nodded. “Lemme' show you then.” Kooh cleared her throat before placing a hand to her hip and walking with attitude. “You gotta strut TJ! Like so.” She said as she did just that. “Turn, and repeat.” She came to a halt then turned around before winking and posing. “Then pose for the camera! You could do a few if you like.” She did just that. Pretending to blow kisses, winking etc. She seemed to be having quite a good time. TJ could not help but wonder if that was something she and Peorth both had to do, considering that they were royalty. Would he have to learn to do that because he was the Abellan? It may have been necessary but it seemed extremely embarrassing. “Alright, show me your moves!”
    He took a deep breath before mustering his courage. He walked, awkwardly, turned on the balls of his heels and hit his leg against the table, but still persisted. He stopped at the end of the walk and struck a pose.
    The God's Governor rubbed her chin thoughtfully. “Close, but not quite. Show me some attitude! You need more strut in your walk too. Shake that booty!” She declared as he continued and caught a few eyes. “Make a pouty face! Put some more attitude in those lips TJ! That's the stuff!” She pretended to take pictures using her fingers as a camera.
    After practice he laid on the couch with his head buried in the arm. Kooh brought him a drink and he held out a hand to accept the cup silently.
    “You did good TJ, but the real moment of truth is now. Everyone's gonna be watching! I'll make you shine like a star baby!” The God's Governor claimed.
    At those words he could not help but have his interest peaked. Was that not one of the things the ally he had seen in an Iris Stone mentioned? He began to feel conflicted. He did not know the requirements for meeting his old companions, save for defeating the Sinners. At that, it was actually quite a surprise that Velvet had appeared at the time, but would the others be as simple as that? Did he just have to defeat each one and the Keruz would appear? He took a breath. Perhaps what she had told him was a clue towards summoning her, and the other things he had heard during his memories were also. Considering the thoughts that he had gone through earlier, this may have been more of a step in the right direction than he had initially thought. Kooh may have come off as a tad unusual, but it seemed she just had a very different way of teaching. TJ was beginning to see her in a new light.
    “I think I'm ready. Let's give this a shot.” He said as he quickly downed the cup and rose to his feet.
    “That's the spirit Little Lamb. Let's do it!”
    He took his place atop the table and managed to muster a smile, albeit one that may have showed his unease where the beads of sweat running down his face failed, but one nonetheless. Kooh called the crowd and all eyes turned to them. He stole a glimpse and caught Peorth's piercing gaze. His unease increased tenfold.
    “You can do it TJ. Be brave!” Kooh said with a thumbs-up.
    He could do it. He would do it. He did as the God's Governor suggested, strutted across the table before turning while keeping a straight face. Came to the end once more and posed. Silence followed. His hair stood on end.
    “I told you Axle! You owe me five-thousand ely.” Klone said nudging Axle with his elbow.
    “No way. He can't be. This is one of Kooh's pranks, isn't it? It has to be!” Axle insisted with a shake of his head. “But if it isn't does that mean...?”
    Embarrassment began to set in and Su immediately approached before pulling him down by the wrist and out past the crowd. “TJ, what in the blue fuckin' blazes are you doing?” She asked with both an interrogating and confused look.
    “Uhh...stuff...to summon Keruz? I guess?” He asked as his gaze shifted away and beads of sweat ran down his neck.
    “Who put you up to this? It was her, wasn't it?” The God's Governors eyes darted towards the other and she glared viciously. “I'm gonna pound her into a fine dust.”
    “H-hang on Su!” He grabbed her shoulder and shook her head. It was not long between the moment he stepped down and the gazes followed him back, but in spite of the ensuing silence, the guild seemed to be talking about it rather merrily. “Maybe it wasn't for that...maybe Kooh was just having a little fun. But it's okay right? I mean, no harm done. I banged by knee but I'm not hurt. It's a party so let's enjoy it a little, okay?”
    She clicked her tongue and sighed. “Fine. I'll look past that one. But it'd be smart if you kept your distance from her. There's something about the way she does things that pisses me off.”
    “Spend a little time with her. I think you'll come around.” She had similar feelings about Amata, but before she knew it the two had become friendly. There may have been bad blood between the God's Governors here, but he felt certain that it would pass also.
    “I wouldn't hold my breath for that. Anyway I'm going back. Try not to make too much of an ass of yourself tonight would you?” At those words she walked off and he gave her a nod.
    She was concerned, but there was no real need to be. He felt a bit at ease knowing that she was keeping an eye on him, though he still felt embarrassed that he did that, and even more so at the conclusions he came up with.

    Setting those thoughts aside, his mind wandered to the God's Governor of Fire. It had not been long since they met in Elfa, but perhaps now would be a good chance for the two to meet again? It was a good chance to introduce her to the guild and Peorth, and perhaps she would enjoy celebrating with the others? He reached into his pocket and took out the IR transporter she had given him. He looked past the crowd and noticed that night had fallen, but since there were no signs of Sinners incoming, perhaps the night would continue on. He flicked it open and stared at it curiously before pressing a button on it. The screen flickered to life with a light and requested that he say the name of the person he wished to summon. Did it have an Iris Stone within it?! Technology was incredible indeed.
    “Amata Seitz.” He answered before staring at it solemnly. The IR transporter flew from his hand and began to spin while facing the ground before him, releasing a series of rings of light with a bright light in the center. After a few moments the figure of the God's Governor became visible and soon the silhouette became her clad in flower-decorated pajamas and wielding her staff, her expression hard and her stance battle-ready.
    “Where's the threat Abellan?!” She asked and some turned their eyes to her.
    “Huh? Threat? Oh no I-”
    She placed her staff against the wall and walked over to him before placing a hand to his shoulder. “Why did you summon me? Answer in five words or less and I might not set you on fire.”
    “To party with Yggdrasil?”
    “Are you kidding me? You wasted my Ir transporter on this?! Why?!”
    “So you could have some fun too.” He answered as he knit his eyebrows.
    She opened her mouth to speak but closed it afterwards. “That reason is so...out of left field and unbelievable that I can't even get angry at it. The fact that I'm in my pajamas is still rather rage-inducing, but of all the things you could've summoned me for, you picked this...” She sighed and shrugged. “I guess I shouldn't expect any less from you, but to think that you're our Abellan.” She chuckled. “In truth, I'd expected a battle-hardened warrior. Still, the fact that you'd go this far for someone who was once your enemy shows how soft you are...but that you care for your allies. I should warn you though, be careful of your ties. They can easily be severed by death-none of us can escape it, and our duty is to go to war. These guys you've gathered here could easily di-”wah!” Amata immediately looked on guard as Kooh glomped her to the floor. “Who are you and what are you...it couldn't be...that energy...”
    “Nice to meet you Amata!” Kooh chimed.
    “I already met you! But you...masked your energy didn't you? God's Governor of Water.” Her gaze sharpened into a glare. “Don't you have duties to fulfill? Elfa is under your jurisdiction. You should be there right now managing the situation!”
    The God's Governor chuckled slyly. “You're sitting in TJ's hallway in your pajamas and you're talking about such serious matters, Ms. God's Governor of Fire?”
    She furrowed her brows. “It's not like I wanted to show up dressed like this! Do you have any idea what time it is, let alone how I got here?”
    Kooh tilted her head. “Bed time? Oh! I just had a great idea!”
    TJ's eyes opened wide. “Idea? No, no more ideas! I'm all for normal fun stuff! No more model walks!” He said making an 'x' with his arms.
    “It's not that! We should have a pajama party! Amata's already here in hers so we should all join in! Just the girls! The Princess will be there too!”
    “Pr-her highness?! You didn't tell me she was here! I can't show myself like this! Also hurry up and get off of me would you?”
    Kooh pursed her lips. “Oh come now Amata you're way too uptight! The Princess isn't gonna see you any differently because you're in your pjs. Don't worry! Anyway I'll be back soon guys!” The God's Governor of Water immediately ran into the crowd likely to confirm with Peorth.
    “Looks like Kooh roped you into something troublesome too Amata,” TJ laughed.
    “And whose fault do you think that is?” She asked with an exasperated gaze.
    “Guilty,” He chuckled dryly. “But at least you can get to know everyone now. Take a load off and celebrate with us!”
    “I'll join your buddies when this 'pajama party' starts. I refuse to get in the midst of a crowd dressed like this.” Her gaze seemed to ease up and she looked around with an uninterested expression. “So? Where's the Prodigal Legend?”
    “Should be by the counter with the Curts.”
    Her mouth curled into a sneer. “Talk about a reunion. Could be worse I guess. I'll get acquainted with your other friends later, but if this pajama party is happening you better...formally introduce me...to her highness, okay? My first impression is gonna be shaky as it is, considering these circumstances.”
    “Sure.” He smiled as the God's Governor walked off.
    He made his way back into the crowd and caught a glimpse of Peorth leaning against a wall, deep in thought. “Hey Chief, where'd Kooh go?”
    She blinked. “Home,” She answered matter-of-factly.
    The Abellan knit his eyebrows.”Was she not feeling well? She seemed like she wanted to do a pajama party with all the girls.”
    “She will return. She said she was going to bring pillows and pajamas. It shall not be long, after all, she had borrowed my warp crystal.”
    “Now that sounds more like the Kooh I know. Ah! Amata's here also! She seems really enthusiastic to meet you, so perhaps you two could get to know each other at the party? Are you going to it?”
    The guild master nodded and TJ could not resist the urge to raise his eyebrows. If Amata was impressed at his unusual actions, she would be even more surprised when she got to meet the queen. “Kooh had always talked about having a sleepover. We have slept together occasionally since the two of us came to Elias, but since getting to know the members of Yggdrasil, including you, she has oft mentioned that she wished to hold a pajama party. I did not see any harm in obliging with that wish.”
    “Yeah that does sound like something you'd do. It's a good thing that you're the guild master.” He chuckled. It was that same kindness that taught him how forgiving oneself could serve as a light to guide one from the depths of his/her own despair.

    It was not long before Kooh returned with a pillow and pajamas all tied up nicely in a bag. She approached the guild master and placed them down.
    “Princess, may I borrow Memorius Sanctum for a sec'?” She asked.
    “Yes you may.” Peorth answered before rising to her feet. With a wave of her hand she shouted, “Release, Memorius Sanctum!” The grimoire appeared before her with a powerful gust of wind that surged thr and she turned it to face Kooh. The God's Governor flicked through the pages and stopped on one specifically with a pleased look.
    “This is the one.”
    “Renda's Mirror?” The guild master asked before she tilted her head.
    “Is that the wrong one?”
    “No, I am sure you know what it does, but do you have a need for it now? It's original purpose was for multiplying both sacred relics and scholarly tomes, but it's main use was on the battlefield and later for defending the library. I cannot see a use for such a artifact at this moment.”
    “I'll show you.” Peorth summoned the mirror from the book and it fell into Kooh's hands. An ornate silver mirror with shards of topaz embedded on both the top and bottom of the artifact took form and she rummaged through her bag drawing the pillow. After reflecting the item in the artifact, a second pillow appeared, and soon after a series of them started emerging from within the mirror, soon after surrounding the guild master.
    She emerged from within the pile and shifted her glasses higher. “There are enough pillows for everyone now. I see.”
    Kooh pursed her lips. “That's not what they're for!” The guild master raised an eyebrow and Kooh let go of the mirror, causing it to vanish. She took a pillow in hand and hurled it, hitting Klone in the back of the head and knocking him off his feet.
    “Who's the wise guy?!” He shouted glaring at the crowd, those who did not watch the scene play out looked around in curiosity. He caught a glimpse of Kooh chuckling and he grabbed the pillow she threw and hurled it back. The God's Governor crouched as the pillow flew towards her and it passed over her head before colliding with Peorth's face. There was a gasp, silence and finally Klone breathing deeply through grit teeth.
    “So this is their purpose is it? If this is what you wish for, then I shall partake in this battle.” The queen rose to her feet with two pillows in hand. She hurled one at Axle and another at Amarylys, both hit their marks.
    “What the hell is going on here?” Amata asked in disbelief. “That's not...her, is it?”
    Su snorted. “Disappointed? Can't judge a book by it's cover, loser. Now then, I've got some chumps to clobber with pillows, so either you get in the fight or get out of the way!” She rushed into the center of the room to grab some pillows and bash her allies with them.
    “Wh-what happened? Why's everyone beating each other with pillows?” TJ asked as he looked on with a confused gaze. “Is it training?”
    The God's Governor could not resist a laugh. “There's so much they haven't taught you, isn't there TJ? You might be a few generations behind, but just keep an eye on us and you'll pick up things along the way. For the time being...” She walked behind him and grabbed a pillow before hurling it as he turned around. The pillow caused him to lose his balance for a moment but after catching it the God's Governor grinned. “Why don't you show me what you've got hmm?”
    He grit his teeth but quickly grinned in turn. “I've been training with Su! You haven't seen anything yet!”
    He tossed the pillow and Amata grabbed Klone by the shoulders and used him as a meat shield. He took the blow and she got clothes-lined by Su who laid in wait. The God's Governor roared with laughter until Kooh threw a pillow from across the room. TJ tossed one back at her and got smacked over the head by Axle and dazed. In a matter of moments two followed afterwards courtesy of Peorth and Amata and he grabbed all that he could in sight before hurling them across the room randomly. Merrymaking continued throughout the house as pillows were cast around and laughter followed in the wake of the night.

    “It's unanimous TJ.” Kooh said with a shrug.
    “Just saying that doesn't make it so!” He cried out before crossing his arms.
    “Let's have a vote. Those in favour of having TJ join us tonight?”
    Peorth raised a hand. “We are companions as we are allies. I have no qualms on the matter,” She said.
    Su raised a hand and shrugged afterwards. “There's nothing I don't know about him, so I could care less really. He's harmless by all means. I'm not bothered.” She said with a glint in her eye. “Besides, it'll be fun.” There was a demon in the room. Counting the other God's Governor, there were two. Asmodeus would have a field day with all the chaos that would accumulate from the evening's events.
    Amata raised a hand, but there was a look of reluctance in her eyes. “Though I'm just going by word of mouth here...if what I've heard is true, I don't see why TJ couldn't join us...” She muttered.
    “You too?! I thought you were the voice of reason here!” The Abellan cried out defensively.
    “I am the voice of reason here! These two alone just spells bad news! But you're an enigma in and of yourself, so don't blame me!” She pointed at him.
    “How about you Ama?” Kooh asked.
    “I've got mixed feelings about this, to be honest. Girls don't usually sleep with boys, especially at our age. Not that we should be having a sleepover in the first place but...” She explained but stopped mid-way as the God's Governor approached and gestured for her to come close. She whispered something in her ear and the young lady's eyes opened wide. “R-really? Well if that's the case I guess I can accept that but-”
    Kooh placed a finger to her lips and shushed her. “That's our secret okay?” She placed her hands together with a grin. “So that's that! It's officially unanimous now TJ.”
    He furrowed his brows. “You might've all settled on it but it doesn't mean that I'm going to join in on that.” He sighed. “It's a sleepover for girls. There's a big glaring fault there!” Kooh tilted her head but retained her blank gaze. “It's right here! It's me!”
    “And us.” Klone added as he placed his hands behind his head. “What're are we supposed to do?”
    Kooh pursed her lips. “Well maybe we could make an exception. But if you guys are coming too we get to paint your nails and do your hair. That long hair of yours has been looking pretty good lately Axle.” The God's Governor chuckled masterfully.
    Axle brushed his hair back with his hand and shifted his gaze away. “I dunno about you Klone, but I'm gonna pass on that. There are better ways I could spend my night. Ways that don't include me learning the extent of my femininity.”
    Thee raised a hand. “I'm out too. Good luck, Klone.” He saluted him. “We hardly knew thee.”
    “Don't write me off like that!” Klone shouted.
    “So? What's it gonna be Klone? I can teach you all the mysteries of girls you never needed to know.” Kooh said with a devilish chuckle.
    The Treasure Hunter sighed, defeated. “Well TJ. Looks like you're running this mission solo. Try to come back in one piece, and you know...still male. See ya!”
    “H-hold on! You're giving up on me already! Don't be like that! Why don't I get the option to refuse?!” TJ cried out as Kooh held him by the hand before he could join the others as they waved goodbye and left through the front door.
    “Why? Well because you're the Abellan of course. You have duties to perform!” Kooh said as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
    “No! Not again! I'm not taking that bait!”
    Su leaned her head back. “You know, for once I think she might not be saying something completely idiotic.” TJ looked at Su aghast, his face begging for an explanation at her turning coat on him. “Don't gimme that look! Think realistically for a second here. Sooner or later, you're gonna have to get to know all of us better than you do now. We are the God's Governors, after all. If we don't understand each other, it'll become troublesome later when we need to work as a team. All five of us.”
    He pursed his lips and Amata face-palmed. “I can't believe I hadn't realized it sooner! You have three of the-no, five of the strongest Cerebians in the world currently, and you've gathered all of us for a pajama party?! What would our forefathers think of this?!”
    “Depends?” Su asked with a nonchalant shrug.
    “Well...” Kooh muttered as she rubbed the back of her neck.
    “God's Governor, I know that the current situation may betray your expectations of the God's Governors and perhaps your queen also, but just as I am the leader I understand both sides of the spectrum. My mother had believed that we must not rush into situations without taking the time to rest, and move forward with calm and clear minds. If we sought to move forward without looking back, we would likely lose our way, and likely find ourselves harmed in the process. We must be as patient as we are wise, and move accordingly.” Peorth explained.
    The group solemnly stared and blinked before the God's Governor of Fire spoke up. “I...I didn't think of it that way. Forgive me for speaking out of turn your highness.” She said before kneeling before the queen.
    Seeing Amata in such a way was rather unusual and out of turn for her, but TJ could understand the circumstances. He had spent so much time with Peorth he began to forget that she was a queen. Did King Hejong have such companions also or was there something unusual about their current relationship? The thought that those days could come to an end wandered into his conscious mind and he could not resist the uneasy feeling that began to settle in. He could not take the time he had now for granted, because sooner or later they may have to part ways. He was the Abellan and she the Queen of Asgard-when the war was over, the Bifrost repaired and Asmodeus defeated, his duty would be over. She would go back to ruling the kingdom and he would...what would he do? He rubbed his arm gently before he downcast his gaze.
    “Please raise your head. Upon Asgard I may have worn the crown and taken up my mother and father's duty, but that is a time that has gone by for years now. If that day comes again, I know not what the future will hold for the Cerebians, but I pray that peaceful days will find them all. As for myself, my current self, I am Peorth. Leader of Yggdrasil, Warlord...” She smiled slightly. “Human being. You may feel free to treat me as such. Here, you and I are no different than any of my companions, so do not bow to me.”
    Amata blinked before she smiled from ear to ear. “Y-yes, your highness! I mean Peorth!”
    “You wanna kiss her feet and shine her shoes while you're down there?” Su asked with a grin.
    “You be quiet!”
    “Well since that's decided let's get this pajama party started!” Kooh shouted with a raised fist.
    The other girls acknowledged the suggestion but TJ frowned. “I didn't agree to this!” He wound up getting pulled into it anyway.

    The girls were all scattered about in the room. Amata sat on the bed with a pillow tightly held within her arms as she sat in the fettle position, stealing the occasional glance at the guild master with flushed cheeks. Su sat against it and watched while Kooh brushed TJ's hair while talking about a variety of things. Amarylys and Alicia were teaching Peorth how to play trump. All seven were clad in pajamas in all colours of the rainbow, most provided by Kooh, but a few pairs were within the house already for the Abellan and God's Governor to wear.
    “I used to do this for the Princess all the time. Her hair used to be so long and silky and just all around perfect! It still is but she doesn't need me to brush it anymore...” The God's Governor said as she gently stroked TJ's hair with a brush and ran her fingers through it. “But you know TJ, you have really great hair too. You should style it a little more often! I bet the guys and girls wouldn't keep their eyes off of you.”
    He blinked and nearly turned his head but remembered Kooh was fiddling with his hair. “It's not like I wanna stand out. I need to stay out of sight, and keep a low profile remember? That aside it's not like I wanna catch just anybody's eyes...”
    Kooh laughed gently. “TJ, that pink hair of yours is completely unmistakeable. But here in Belos, I think you're way too far away from the cities that have their eyes peeled for you for it to matter much. Maybe if you build a good relationship with the people of Belos if or when those who are after you find you they'll see that you're not a bad person.” She placed a hand to her mouth and chuckled. “So who's the lucky winner of the Little Lamb's heart hmm?”
    “There's no winner! And if there was I wouldn't tell! That stuff is really...really...” He lowered his head and his face grew hot. It felt as if steam would shoot out of his ears at any moment. “Embarrassing!” It was embarrassing yeah, but he still thought of Elias' Anniversary Festival with fond memories.
    Kooh placed the brush down and inspected his hair from all sides. His bangs covered his left eye and he could still see the gold streak Avaritia had left for him, along with the God's Governor drifting in and out of his sight. “I'm so jelly! I want your hair!”
    “Sorry but I like it where it is,” He chuckled.
    She pouted. “Have it your way. So! Whaddya want me to do with it? I know a looooot of styles! Twin-tails?” She parted his hair and held it in that style. “Ponytail? High or low?” He typically wore it in a low-ponytail, and found himself rather comfortable with that. It did not get in his way during battle, and he thought it was rather stylish. “Fishtail braid? How about a Choen Palm cut?” At the name he let out a disgruntled groan and she laughed. “I don't have any dyes on me but I might be able to give you a shera shera wave.” He had no idea what that was, and at the moment what he wanted in particular.
    He searched his memories of what he knew of hairstyles-outside of the girls in Yggdrasil, he rarely paid attention to such things, and most of the boys he knew had short hair, or styled simply. His hair had grown so much over his adventure, but the thought of doing anything with it rarely crossed his mind until someone brought it up. He recalled the aspiring Bard Kera, and the style she wore her hair in-he knew so little about her, but she fascinated him. What was her story, and what was her relationship with him? Perhaps...
    “Kooh, you think you could do my hair in a...mm...kinda poofy-ponytail style?” She tilted her head at his request and the other God's Governors gave him puzzled looks also. He rubbed his chin thoughtfully as he sought out another way to put it. “You know, kinda like...boosh!” He made a sort of exploding gesture to accompany it but none of them really knew yet. “L-like the trees that grow around Elfa! Palm trees! Up here!” He tapped the crown of his head and she nodded.
    “I know the one! A fountain-style ponytail right? Hang on a sec'.” She began to fiddle with his hair some more before tying it together and placing Velvet's Mr. Bear pin back at the front. “How's that?”
    He arose from the chair he sat in to look into the mirror that rested atop the dresser. The image that looked back at him was very reminiscent of the Bard. It may have been hundreds of years since her time, but in those few moments he felt close to her-as if the two had become one. She still was an enigma within his memories, but he felt a connection with her, with Amae and with God Ah also. The young girl an aspiring Bard, and he the Abellan and a Bard-their shared image, memories, and perhaps much more he would come to know as he took another step closer to finding his memories. He smiled at his reflection, and felt as if she would smile back if she could see him.
    “Thanks Kooh. Really, thank you!”
    She beamed. “It's my pleasure Little Lamb.”

    It had only been a short while but most of the girls changed places. Alicia sat on the corner of the bed while Amarylys was sprawled across it, Amata sat cross-legged near the door and Kooh leaned against the window.Peorth sat in the chair and TJ sat with his legs spread out nearby.
    “So Peorth what's your secret weapon? I hear most people can't take their eyes off of you,” Amarlys said.
    “My secret weapon?” She asked with a curious gaze. “It is no secret really. I wield a Hyunmu spear that an ally had forged for me. Though I occasionally fight with a Canine God spear, but it lacks the weight that the former does, and I have become rather familiar with it.”
    “N-not that weapon. I mean your style, as a girl.” The young girl said with a chuckle.
    “There are three major rules that I follow in terms of style. Some were passed down from my parent.”
    “Mm hmm?”
    “The first, never turn your back to your target-the second, constant vigilance!”
    Alicia blinked. “Well...that's awfully...militaristic?” She commented.
    “The third, dispatch them as quickly and effectively as possible! One preemptive strike can end a battle before it need begins, mind you.” Amata nodded as she listened intently to the guild master's sagely advice and the others chuckled dryly.
    “Good luck cracking that nut. She's tough as nails when it comes to that stuff. I'd compare her to him but he's denser than dark matter.” Su said before pointing her thumb at TJ.
    “Says  you,” He remarked sorely.
    “Let's kick into high gear then shall we? Love interests! Go!” Kooh shouted as she suddenly pointed to Su and her face flushed.
    “Are you serious?! I don't have or need one! And why would you start with me anyway?!” The God's Governor roared in response before standing up straight and clenching her fists.
    “The fact that you're so defensive about it is proof that you're hiding something my dear Watson!”
    “This turned from a game into an interrogation in two seconds flat.”
    “Cool your guns there Herlock Sholmes.” Amata chuckled and shrugged.
    “You're in the spotlight Guv'nor!” Kooh pointed at Amata next and this time her face flushed as she gave an unsettled stare at her interrogator.
    “I don't have a love interest, and if I did why would I tell you of all people? It's not like it's any of your business anyway.”
    “You've been eyeing the Princess since this party started you sneaky little thing you! Are you having dirty thoughts? Confess your sins and all shall be forgiven!”
    This made her rise as her face flushed a deeper shade of red. “I did no such thing! That's an unfounded accusation and you know it!”
    “Next!” Kooh's finger pointed to Alicia and she looked startled. Amata sat down and pouted after huffing a 'hmph!'
    “Huh? Me? No...I couldn't! My lips are sealed sorry!” Alicia answered before placing her hands together.
    “A prince's kiss could open them! Who's the prince? Tell us now and I'll summon him!”
    “I don't want you to!”
    The finger of destiny and embarrassment turned its wrath towards the girl who tried to hide behind Alicia.
    “No comment!” Amarylys cried out.
    “Confess your loved now and get the second one free!” Kooh insisted in the voice of a saleswoman.
    “Two is too many and I don't wanna confess my love to you guys!”
    “You're up Princess! Who's the lucky winner?”
    Peorth blinked. “A lady has her secrets, does she not?”
    Kooh wrapped her arms around herself as she wriggled in an unsettling way. “You don't have to hide it Princess!  They'll accept our love someday!”
    Peorth closed her eyes and gently chuckled. “I do love you, but in a different sense of the word Kooh. You should remain as you are, if it is as you wish to be.”
    “That's that folks. Now for the star of the evening! Who's the Abellan got his eye on?”
    He knew the moment was coming but he had not prepared an adequate response. “There's no one! I mean, I...I don't...it's not...”
    Kooh smiled impishly. “If you have doubts you could always marry Freya TJ. She's ready and willing.”
    The Abellan covered his face at the thought. That girl was really bold-to kiss him though they were not even lovers...he would have to ask Verun about that sometime. “I...I can't do that! Besides wouldn't that mean you and I would be married too?!”
    Kooh rubbed her chin. “Technically we would be. But it's okay 'cause I'll marry the Princess. We can all be married!”
    “No marriage before the first date, Kooh.” Peorth answered coolly.
    “Idiots...the whole lot of you!” Su muttered as she placed a hand to her face.
    “We're doomed.” Amata muttered as she buried her face in a pillow.
    Alicia laughed. “Don't ever change guys.”

    The night went on, most of the girls had gone to sleep. Some were sprawled across the floor while Peorth remained in bed, silently sleeping. Su emerged from TJ's crystal and walked over to Kooh, her emerald eyes pierced the darkness and glared down at the God's Governor of Water. She crouched down and placed her face close to her ears.
    “I know you're not sleeping, but everyone else is. Come with me, and don't wake them.” Su said before she approached the door and slowly opened it, barely making a sound as she did so and exited the room. Kooh arose from bed and followed briefly after. She made her way down the stairs in the wake of Su and out back through the open door where the God's Governor awaited her. The moment she closed the door and turned to face Su the God's Governor's hand slammed against the wall beside her and startled her. “What the hell were you doing that night? I know it was you, so don't bother trying to hide it!”
    Kooh shrugged nonchalantly. “I was doing what any good God's Governor would do-helping the Abellan and others out of a pinch.” She answered with a smile.
    Su could feel her blood coming to a boil. There was something seriously wrong with that girl, and all of her strange antics that day were likely linked to that night. What was her end goal, and why did she continuously stick her nose into their business? Without a doubt there was something that she wanted, and though Su could not put her finger on it, she knew that her means to do it was gonna be sneaky, and get TJ involved more than he needed to be. “Why would you help us? You know what we were doing. You saw it twice now, at the very least. You watched us commit those crimes and you wear that shit-eating grin like it's the most normal thing in the world?! What is it that you want?”
    “Want? Like?”
    Su's mouth twitched. She was playing right into her hands, and she knew it, but it irritated her even more. Trying to get answers out of this moron was like a dog chasing its own tail. The girl might play dumb, but she was without a doubt a mastermind with a plan in the works, and if she stuck her hand into the matter, Su's plans could all end up in vain. She couldn't fail, no matter what happened. If need be, she'd have to eliminate the God's Governor, but only after TJ took his second step towards Awakening. That meant she would have to act fast-find the last God's Governor, and another shard of the Heart of Yggdrasil. “Quit screwing with me already. If you're not gonna talk, fine, don't. But I'm gonna watch you. I'll say this now, and just this once. Keep your nose out of our business! Got it?! You keep being Peorth's dog. I don't give a damn what stupid antics you get up to, but stay away from TJ, and stop following us around at night. It's got nothing to do with you!”
    “But doesn't it?” She smiled, a chilling smile illuminated by the moonlight. One that Su recognized-one of a killer. In those moments the God's Governor felt as if the girl she had before her was peering into her soul-her eyes empty, but still remaining trained upon her. What TJ had within him and what Kooh had differed immensely. They shared a similar look, but his a lack of understanding, and hers the very opposite. She knew something, she knew too much in fact, and that very piece of knowledge chilled her to the bone. “You can't keep the Little Lamb all to yourself, Su. But I also know you can't do it all alone. You're getting weaker by the day, and you're losing yourself, aren't you? Losing to that. If you can't fight it anymore, you'll be the biggest danger to him. You can't run away from it either, because you're connected. It has to happen. It all does. Shelter him all you like, but you know what needs to be done, and so do I. We have the same goal in mind, it's just that I'm gonna do things my way and you're gonna do things yours. So why stress over the little details hmm?”
    Su grit her teeth, her nails dug into the wall before she pulled her hand away. She hated it. She despised her. But there wasn't a thing she could say to her because she was so damn painfully right. Su wasn't sheltering him...Kooh's way of doings things just felt wrong. But even Su knew there were things that she had to face sooner or later, but it wasn't about her. It was about him. Perhaps not what he wanted, but what he needed. What the world needed, and what she needed to do to have her wish granted. Su felt positive that she was the only one who had made a deal with Her. So what in the seven hells did Kooh want? “I'm not agreeing to work with you, but I won't do anything to you...for now. Tell me something though. What's your stake in all this? Just why do you look upon crime and death with that uncaring look of yours?”
    Kooh placed a finger to her lips as her eyes rolled around and stopped back where they began. “My stake in all of this?” She chuckled that fake, girlish laugh she always did, and smiled that fake smile she would. Su saw right through it, but there was without a doubt something lurking beneath the exterior. “Well it's mine as much as it is hers. She loves TJ dearly, and I have someone that I love too much also. For that very reason well...I'm not afraid to do unsavoury work. That very fact is what makes you and I partners in crime. I look forward to working with you!”
    “Keh!” Su hissed aloud before opening the sliding door and taking a couple of steps inside. She paused. Footsteps? But who's? She turned back to the God's Governor of Water and the girl beamed at her. Things had taken a turn for the worse, and Su's time was running out by the day. That night she may have obtained her greatest ally, and enemy. Her wish seemed further by the day.

    Finished this chapter in less than a week. Had some time off work so I went all out. In terms of pages its short, but I think it's just the way I wrote it-on the other hand, it's not crazy long like ch. 4. I'll talk a bit about this tomorrow hopefully, but today and through then too, I'll be doing edits on the previous chapters so I can finally...you know, actually finish them. Ch. 3 needs the most work lol. But it can wait. Hopefully if all goes well I can do the review tomorrow and have the Chapter Overview finished by Monday evening when I get home. Look forward to it!
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    TJ

    Posts : 873
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 24
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Mon Apr 20, 2015 8:21 pm

    This'll be on your test:
    This chapter was a little on the unusual side, to say the least. And that's saying something, cause they're all weird. And I write it.
    I guess this time around is gonna be talking a lot about the characters and how they vary, so it could be a bit spoilery. Especially Kooh's part. I'll double tag it just in case, so know what you're in for before jumping in yeah?

    Peorth:
    The first half is pretty standard fare-in truth, here I tried building on Peorth's character a bit. I'd spent a long time considering her typical personality, you know, the usual stalwart guild master. Knowledgeable, talkative on such matters, but very indifferent about showing her emotions. Then I thought about things that would likely lower her guard, and the reasons for that. Something she held dearly too, and also lost, but not just that, the focal point of the whole story. Memories. Of her friends, her Keruz, all she has is the memories of them, and the only one to survive the incident, that being Kooh. On the other hand, she shed tears for the first time(in front of them) when Freya appeared before her. Well technically she didn't but almost did! She did twice in this chapter though.

    Perhaps it was obvious by TJ's observation, but the guild master isn't always as strong as she appears to be. Throughout this chapter, her personality shifts a lot-from enthusiasm, to sorrow, nostalgia and often times back to her usual self. The reason for that being is that a lot of those sides of her are from her youth, but many of them took a backseat to her typical attitude, so that she didn't falter in the face of her guild. This is something also from Sister, when she had said "Though she was to succeed him, I had been named as the heir in her place so the shadows of skepticism would not be cast upon the kingdom". There and in TAD she had spoken about becoming a Queen and learning the proper etiquette of one. Beneath that exterior she does share some of her traits from her youth, but it doesn't change the fact that essentially is a major part of her personality. It's the way she talks, what she knows best and it shows.

    Since I'm on the character anyway I'll continue further to the party-I'd considered what she would be like in that sort of situation. She's well liked among the guild-they all see her as a very reliable and kind guild master, but she has worries of her own. She doesn't often mingle, so she stays to the sidelines and keeps to herself. That shows a bit here when he meets her again after the outfit change. The look she gives him shows that she's aware, and she tries to cover it up briefly after, but her embarrassment eventually shows, and a little bit of her hidden awkward nature. She's really knowledgeable about the Cerebians and all sorts of things, so she could go on for ages about that stuff. Small talk isn't really her specialty, and it's a trait that'll pop up every now and then. A main reason for this, though, is to show that she's steadily opening up to him. It's not that she doesn't trust him, but that she doesn't want him to see her more uncool side, and that she's adapting to being herself with him. 100%, mind. Perhaps she's a bit more timid than she lets on, and brave when the situation calls for it? The Elias Anniversary Festival may have took more courage than she may have let on! Nevertheless, she's becoming a bit more affectionate as the series progresses, and that'll continue bit by bit as they spend more time together. In the same vein, her more awkward side will show up every now and again at a more frequent rate, and eventually it'll grow into a myriad of other feelings.
    On that note, she does say and do a lot of interesting things in this chapter. She knows that he might not understand them, but she does it both to tease him(who wouldn't tease the person they like a bit?) and because it's a way that she can show how she feels. Indiscreetly. She's a little bit on the sneaky side, but I think it can be a charming trait.

    Surprisingly, I didn't make up the Musica Clan. That was mentioned in-game! The details of it I did, 'cause I've not the foggiest if they were there or I just forgot, but it's something now, and you'll definitely be hearing about them again later. That gem returns too! Best cameo goes to Vanir's musical gem. Only appeared at the end of USSR but dayum was it the best thing to happen to that story. 10/10 would spin again.
    Renda...and by extension her mirror(I made the artifact) are also from the game. There was supposed to be more details on it but I cut the explanation a bit short. To go further into detail, the original use of the item was to mass produce weapons and armour, not as superior as the original item, but handy nonetheless! In that regard, if they multiplied other artifacts, regardless of the type of weapon there would be...well, enough for all Cerebians to have an artifact weapon/set of armour, so long as they could wear it. This wasn't always a good choice, mind, because each had their own uses and proved difficult to use by the wielder. Like spellcraft or handling powerful weapons, if the user isn't up to the challenge it could easily backfire. Hence, it became an item that was used to maintain and protect Renda's Library.
    Library? What Library?:
    The fact that exists may be proof that there's a Velfa in this universe.
    The item was used to multiply acient scripts, possibly the Keruz' tomes, and of course the flying armours that would defend the place from intruders. I love the moment after where Peorth thought she knew what Kooh wanted to do with all those pillows.

    Today's Su:
    So the big kicker here is probably the day of their hunt, and how it began. If you ship it, it's time to set sail land-lubber. I guess technically it was possible back in Freq but now things are heating up and in a hurry. I'd considered how I wanted to show that this...ah spoiler hang on
    Read at your own risk:
    would show that his Agasuric nature was growing, and he was becoming 'Luxuria' not just in body but also in mind. I'd talk about how so in body but that's a spoiler in the sense that it hasn't happened yet,(by that I mean been particularly discussed or hinted at in the story itself) so I can't and won't.
    and so he's doing some pretty bold things...which she doesn't hate. Sometimes people like to play rough? Just make sure that you...you know, make sure both you and your partner are down for that before engaging in anything too risque. This has been a PSA by your friendly neighbourhood average Joe. Anyway, that bump on his head brought him back to his senses, and Su could tell that it wasn't him doing that, so she was pissed for several reasons. Though she suspects its Asmodeus' doing, which might not actually be the case, but a very wise guess by her.
    Most of this speaks for itself, so I'll talk a bit about the growth of Agasuras. This will be addressed in more detail soon, but if you're curious about what's going on now, here it is. Kinda spoilery so you've been warned.
    Souls. And blood. Both a delicacy:
    As Su had mentioned Agasuras grow stronger through growth, not teachings. Using the Contemptuous Arts, transformations, devouring souls and occasionally people, and also through pure malice and the mana that is accompanied by fear or gained by devouring targets(essentially, one's life force). All of these contribute to the growth of the Agasura/Demon, and through this they evolve. Here, as you can see Su gains a new transformation through experimentation, but it only lasts for maybe 15-30 seconds at best. Their power is still at a level where she can do it, but not easily and not for long. On the other hand, she can take on the incomplete TotM form without Choen Palm's shard of the HoY, and can utilize some of the powers at their disposal, along with very basic transformations. Still, in doing this both she and TJ's Agasuric nature grows stronger. Thus, the desire to feed, to kill and to accumulate life force deepens, and the end result is as you see. Now, essentially humans are not meant to be Agasura, unless they're dead. TJ's case is not like the typical Agasura, but he's not a human, so he can handle that power better than any ordinary person would. I won't go into detail on that yet though.
    Nevertheless Su still hasn't fixed her arm. It's hanging in there, but still rotting, just really slowly. For reasons.

    Back on topic, here again she has a bunch of witty one-liners per usual, but one of the things that she did that really stands out is that she had not told TJ about the night's events. Rather, she took the fall in his stead and claimed that she had brought him to the Mountains to hide him. Typically she'll have a moment or two where she'll show that she genuinely cares for him, but often times during those she's a bit more open about how she feels, in her own way. Here it shows that she wants to protect him, but also that she wants to keep the truth under wraps. This is important because be it due to her nature, or that she really only had her eyes set on her goal, that she's beginning to waver. As we all know, she was raised to be a killer, and originally this didn't bother her in the slightest. Rather she enjoyed it. Now that side of her is beginning to subside and she's slowly starting to think about other things, be it her goal, her companion's well being or seeing her duty as a God's Governor through. Things that mattered much less in the past are steadily coming to a head. For both she and Peorth, and at times Kooh, their elemental affinity as God's Governors also shape their personalities a little bit, but in very different ways.

    Kooh. Villain? Hero?:
    Kooh is the biggest enigma of everyone in this chapter. In truth, at times I do feel that I made her come off as too clingy, so I might edit that a bit. I wanted her to have a bit of a playful nature, but since it was mostly Peorth in this chapter it felt a bit off. I think it was better handled in the Prologue, so I might go over that and see what I can take from there, but also tone it down a bit in this chapter. Considering the contents, she might give off the wrong vibe as it is now.
    So let's get down to it! Kooh can't read Memorius Sanctum. Period. She can understand the words in it because she was taught by Peorth, but she can only understand them once read aloud. Looking in the book she'd see gibberish. Only Peorth can read it currently-Remedi could, and her mother etc. Also for the record there are only 7 Keruz at a time that can create skills/stances! So even if Peorth had fourteen the rest wouldn't be able to do it. Back on topic, well not much happened in that regard. She does show a lot of worry for the two, because they're important people in both respects. They worry for each other, and she knows that, so she protects them both.

    Now this is a very important thing. You're probably wondering why Kooh seems to have an obsession with pajama parties and the like. Essentially, you might be able to take a guess from the previous stuff, but if you feel unsure or just wanna confirm your suspicions, I'm gonna discuss just that. I'll try to use previous examples so I don't spoil anything.
    Kooh likes girly stuff. For reasons.:
    So what can we say about Kooh? She holds the guild master in high regard. You can tell this from the prologue when she says, "She gave me something to live for" after Axle asked her stake in the whole thing. Those few words speak volumes about her character-she might seem goofy and playful, but she would give her life up for Peorth, and strives to protect her from the dangers that lurk beyond the city on a regular basis. That aside, though Peorth describes her as her shadow, she does do just that, but also serves as Peorth's body-double. They don't look exactly alike, but most of their features were retained due to their mother's being twins. Kooh face is a bit rounder and her eyes crimson, and also her ears a tad smaller-she can match Peorth's typical expression and movements with ease, and also can mask her voice. Might do that as a joke one of these days just to show that she has that skill.
    Now then, let's move into Chapter 3. The two Iris Stones had shown a glimpse into TJ's memories upon Asgard, and as you may have guessed it featured both Peorth and Kooh in their younger days. The God's Governor of Water shackled, held captive and just barely getting by. TJ often visited her to play checkers, and(this was actually something Kooh had mentioned in this chapter)the princess had left the castle to meet her. The following stone had shown that Kooh had escaped, and lived the life of a streetrat for a time. Flitting about, stealing what she could and hiding wherever seemed safe within the capital. Peorth had taken her in, given her clothes to wear and a weapon to wield-they taught her to fight, to protect the queen and it became both her raison d'etre and a reason to rise once more. She began to hold the queen in high regard, and though she was meant to serve her, the queen treated her both as a friend and an equal, so they got along really well.
    Now then. The reason Kooh wanted to do all those things like painting nails, having sleepovers and whatnot is because they were things she had never experienced before. After becoming a member of the palace, she likely overheard such things from others in the castle, and began to wonder what they were like-alas, she couldn't do those things with the princess because it wouldn't be allowed, but during their cohabitation they did sleep together now and then, and became a lot closer than they could during their time on Asgard. Nevertheless, despite the way things had started out for her, Kooh became really positive later on, and became one of the driving forces of Yggdrasil's strong companionship, and also the glue that bound the Keruz together so tightly. Even now she's working around the clock to strengthen the bonds between her companions through her actions, regardless of how ridiculous they might be. On one hand, it could be considered a selfish action because it's something she wanted to do also, but in spite of their reactions they're genuinely enjoying themselves. Still, the words left at the end of the second visual show that in spite of all that, not all is well, be it then or now. I won't say too much on that though! That's for later, and for speculations now of course.

    Now the last part is a bit tricky. I feel that here I made her sound more like a villain than I intended to, but it might just be the italics. Or Su's perspective? Who could say? Just remember that it is the perspective of the character, so it could be wrong or right. Take what you know and decide for yourself who's side you would choose. Nevertheless, she is essentially a killer-anyone who threatens the princess will either be disarmed or killed. It's her task, always has been. Whether she's the kind of killer Su suspects is completely different. Still, keeping TJ's hunting a secret but also Su's participation, and still assisting them along during it does make her morals a little questionable. If she had an allignment, which do you think it would be? Is it her interests, her morals, or her duties that she would most focus on doing such actions for? And how much does she know? She's surprisingly knowledgeable about the Agasura though! And Su's comment on how she and Vanir would get chummy may have been more spot on than she knew. One last thing-Kooh wasn't there when Freya appeared, so there's definitely something unusual there, about her knowing the God's Governor has a thing for the Abellan. Man, those love polygons. Nothin' but trouble.

    This was supposed to be a lot shorter but then this happened. Goddamn it. Now you get to hear me complain. There are edits to be done. SO.MANY.EDITS. I spent a lot of the weekend just doing Sister. AHRBYFGBVYHGUJFB. I'm not done it yet. Following that there's like another 50-60 pages I have to go through just to get to where I am now. And then the storyboarding. And dungeon making and ughguhgghhgh. And don't even get me started on USSR. That's in a league of its own.
    ANYWAY THE REVIEW. MAYBE TOMORROW. Maybe not cause I'm lazy and still have to work. I shouldn't be here typing this now but I am. I talked about a lot of junk here so there might not be much to say on that. We'll see. Gotta remember to cover TJ's part tomorrow. Kinda important? Maybe? Gender issues. So troublesome. And a guy like me doesn't know jack shit about them. Bring on the pitchforks and torches, then take me out to sea and burn me at the stake please.
    Anyway it's late and I'm tired and ranting about nothing. Until next time!

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