Sanctuary

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    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Tue Apr 28, 2015 7:42 pm

    The Fifth Harmony: Overview:
    Yep. Definitely strange. A whole lot of things, and I'm here to talk about those and some other things I picked up along the way. Let's get it started.

    Might not wanna read this one if you haven't read the second spoiler tagged thing from Su's review!
    The Sinners and the Saints:
    This'll be a reoccurring thing throughout both the story and this post, but lately I've learned quite a bit about duality so it's started to rear its head around these parts. Now then, the Sinners and Saints are a pretty obvious contrast to each other, but I'm not here to particularly talk about that fact. Rather, it's a little more to the base of the existence of the two-to the natures of their specific kinds. It's not just their abilities that are passed on to TJ, as you know. After defeating Avaritia, he got a streak in his hair which was a change to his physical body, while from Velvet he received her accessory, the Mr. Bear Pin. That on the other hand, was not a change to him specifically, but one that was optional in a sense.
    Lemme explain this in another way lol. Like I mentioned before, Cerebians learn new techniques by learning from their ancestors. Techniques are handed down by the Keruz(and those before them, including the God's Governors) and they can be learned via the books! Or from other Cerebians. Agasura are not completely different in that sense, but they don't have books to teach them like the Cerebians do. ANYWAY, just as it is here, the Saints pass on their abilities to TJ and become a part of him after passing on an item that was important to them. It serves as a symbol of the bond between the two, and assists them in manifesting from him. The Sinners can't do that.
    On the other hand, the Sinners will change his physical aspects in some way, shape or form, that being a trait they'll likely have also. Let's say for example that Ira had a vicious glare or a snaggletooth. TJ would gain that attribute upon integrating them and as you'd expect, probably have conflicting feelings about it lol. At least he knows what to expect now? I'm still debating on whether or not I want them to be permanent changes, or just temporary, like for example until he integrates the next sinner. Either that, or when he utilizes their ability. But that one's a little on the odd side. I mean, he'd have at least three different aspects in the same battle. I mean if I was fighting him I'd be like, "The fuck're you doing dude?" Then I'd probably catch a rock or something that I hurled first.
    But anyway, you'll see what each holds in time, and maybe you'll be able to tell something about them from it! At times they might be mentioned, can't say for sure yet, but we'll see.

    TJ and his mystery gender:
    This is something I've given incredible amounts of thought, and to the day I still do. Wanna know what I was thinking today? I'd bet 10 bucks you don't, but I'm gonna tell you anyway and if you did you'll wish you didn't. Let's get to it.
    So I had some time to kill at work today and I was brainstorming Agasura for the next dungeon and I started thinking about this topic. I asked myself, "What would I do if I came across a strange alien/humanoid/angel/demon/spirit he/she/it androgynous creature?" It didn't take long for me to come to a conclusion on that. "I'd jump their bones at hello" was the conclusion I came up with. Lewd.
    This is why I wouldn't be caught dead without my headphones on and music going(But my doodad broke and I don't think I can do that at work. #Firstworldproblems). Sometimes I have too much free time. Still, I'm almost impressed that hasn't happened with anyone in the story yet. Good thing this is rated S for still safe for work somehow. ...For now. This blog isn't. Hide your kids.
    Alright time to get serious. In Freq he was really vehement against being seen as a girl. Marin's methods were a bit forceful, but he's stubborn as an ox when it comes to most things. Back then, truth be told his major character arc was focused around the 'coming of age' theme. The final chapters are when that came to a head and I feel that he reached that point, but it also put his new arc into focus. There were signs of it early on, but it took a backseat to him figuring out just what kind of person he was and what he wanted to be. Now in Sanc he confidently talks about being the Abellan, and what it is that he wants to do, but he's still coming to accept the other side of himself. And no I don't mean Adonis.
    This chapter though focused around Kooh, also showed that she's helping him to come to terms with the possibility that he in fact, could be a girl. If he wanted to be. Could be both, or neither. After catching a glimpse of Kera, and the possibility that the two are the same person, the idea didn't seem as daunting to him as it once did, and the girls are supportive of the idea in the Fifth chapter also. Here I tried to do things from both sides of the coin-Peorth, Kooh and Su are for the idea, each for varying reasons. Can you guess? What came to mind for me is these thoughts about them: Peorth is accepting of her guild members regardless of their quirks, and of all of them he was the most eccentric, potentially second to Kooh; her calm demeanour typically keeps those eccentricities in check, or might just accentuate them, but Yggdrasil is a place where weird people can be weird. It's part of what makes things so lively at times. Kooh on the other hand has no problems with the idea, and is working to help him to come to terms with the fact through her means. If that includes undressing then so be it! Su on the other hand teases him about it, but doesn't make a big deal of it, showing in her own way that he can be whatever he wants to be. Amata is stuck in between, because she only heard that he was female from Avaritia and likely has her own speculations(I mean, he's pretty damn androgynous). Amarylys isn't all for it at first, but Kooh has her ways. Alicia is indifferent to the matter
    And as you can see, at the end of the day he actually had a pretty good time with them. His crush is obvious as day but Kooh targeted him anyway lol. How will that arc end? Can't tell you that but he'll grow a lot over the span of the story and his views on it will change.

    Now then, at the end of USSR I talked about what it means to be taboo. Since then, I feel that I've taken a step forward. At first, I was reluctant to write the party and most parts of it, especially the end. It was hella embarrassing, and I still feel that it can be a tad cringeworthy. But you know? I'm not gonna change it. In truth, I dunno what it's like to walk in the shoes of someone who might have a gender identity crisis, or to actually want to be a different gender. It's a tricky matter in and of itself, but even if I did, TJ's story(even if it were based on my own life) would not be like anyone else's. You'll hear it in many places, and you'll hear it from me too. Everyone goes through their own journey. What I would go through you wouldn't, and the end result might be the same or differ. Nevertheless, the journey to reach that point is what will really change how you see the matter in and of itself and what conclusion you'll reach from it. I could read stories about people who have gone through such things but...well, that's a different journey. Who they knew and how those people may have changed their way of seeing themselves might not fare as well with the characters of Frequency, or perhaps it could? Idk. What I do know is though, I wanna do this however feels right to me. Again, some will hate it, some will love it, some will be pissed about the end result. I've seen it happen and it can be hilarious lol. If you're interested I can suggest a few good things to check out where that does occur. But anyway, like it or not, Sanc will go in that direction, but it'll be part of TJ's story-I don't mean for the whole thing to revolve around it. There are stories out there that do of course, but this one has a lot of characters with stories to tell, so backseat ahoy! Kinda. I mean, he's got bigger concerns like whether or not his blood father wants to destroy the world and how.
    What if your dad wanted the world's destruction and you went up to him like, "Dad, I want a sex change". That'd be one hell of an emotional rollercoaster right there. Is this a thing yet? I know what my next novel's gonna be lol.

    Unrelated rant?:
    I guess one of my current challenges is managing time. It's been a bit busy, and I'm trying to figure out the limits of my body, and how my mental health can affect my physical health. I don't recommend doing this, ever but in my line of work sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I've managed alright thus far with a little push here and there, per usual. The fact that I've accomplished this much, this year is surprising in and of itself, and hopefully I'll see some good progress in the coming months too. Once May's over I'll have more time so the story will update a bit more regularly again for a while, then become irregular again later on. I'm working out the kinks. On another note, I've been reading a lot of different things from all over the place. So many bus rides. So many books. I read comics and manga at home, and my gaming's kinda taken a backseat, LT aside. I found a creature that reminds me a bit of Peorth. Honestly, these days I find myself asking, "What is this adorable creature doing on this here gay earth?" I don't hate the planet though. Just sounds funny. That aside, if you like cats, teenage drama and hilarious comments you should give BCB a look! The creators are really involved with the community and they always have something funny to say. You'll love them. Also I started a new novel called Station Eleven. I'm in the first like fourth of the book and it's just...god. It's so brutal on the emotions lol. Great thus far. The style makes me think about my own a bit, and so I might try a few tweaks in the coming chapter. Though I'm still debating on whether or not I should, like before. We'll see.

    Themes? Maybe?:
    I guess the two big things for this chapter were the themes of balance, duality and coming to terms with who you are, or could be. TJ's dual-life, during the night and day shows both sides of his being, and how he gets by with his allies' help. During the daytime, practice with Peorth to learn Synergism and getting to know her better, and during the night hunting with Su so the two could complete their mission in its entirety, but their actions having to be masked from the world as a whole. Results may vary. As mentioned before, TJ is growing into who he can be, but not just him, there are signs that the others are changing too. Amata's become much more accepting and chooses to approach Su willingly, Kooh though often sneaking about took a step forward to accomplish her own goals by working together with Su rather than acting in secret, and Su's becoming much more aware of the people around her and the means to her ends. This is just an abridged explanation, but if there's anything I don't mention, you might find more details in the work itself! They're all working around the clock to keep everything in check and moving smoothly, despite all the secrecy and conflict among themselves, but somehow things have proceeded. Shocking truth. It's gonna get even more hectic later on, so hold on to your pants.

    Sanc going forward:
    This might become a habit.
    So next for me? New dungeon's in the works. I'm gonna take a step up and do something a bit more open, which is gonna be a hell of a lot harder than the Pharaoh's Chambers, which was a closed area. I've just about finished the Agasura, so I'll play around with the designs of them and the Sinner, and hopefully all will go well! The first wasn't bad, but I knew it could've been better. This one I feel might have a bit more than necessary, but each Dungeon will vary depending on the Sinner so it might be just right. I might give you updates on the progress, but I can't say too much about it 'cause it'll spoil it. As for the next chapter, the storyboards are already drafted. Hopefully, if I'm not dead tomorrow I can get started on it. No promises there, but let's keep our fingers crossed regardless. What I can say is we'll be seeing some returning characters! Don't get your hopes too high, they're only minor characters lol. But those meetings really make the world feel connected to the oneshots, so I'm looking forward to having them make an appearance. For the first time they'll all appear in the same story.
    Anyway, I made a huge mistake in GAL and TAD. I got dilligence and charity mixed up, so uhh...yeah. Gonna have to redo that. I almost flipped my desk when I noticed it. I mean, how do you even do that?! I wrote a list of all the Sinners and Saints and their Vices/Virtues and I STILL got it wrong. I even looked up the list! Someone fire me already, I suck at my job. Raged at myself then too.
    So? I'm gonna keep the chapter, since it's fine in and of itself. I'll have to make a few edits since it'll appear later on, but Velvet will remain as the Saint for Charity, and I'll draft a new pair of chapters for those two. Hopefully if all goes well it'll segue into the chapter just as well-thankfully, since TJ didn't spend too much time pondering the events then I won't have to make any dramatic changes. He was too busy checking out that royal booty. So next chapter? Big stuff! I always say that don't I? Anyway, until then!
    Now I'm going to stuff my face. Dinner calls, as does my bed.
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    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Tue May 12, 2015 5:39 pm

    Ch. 6 Pages 176-188:
    The Sixth Harmony: Brave Step
    “In this time and place, I have everything I could want. Good food, a roof over my head, and Master by my side.” (Skuld)

    TJ's eyes opened slowly, his vision blurry for a couple moments as they adjusted to the sunbeams entering through the window near the bed he rested in. When did he get in it? The last thing he had recalled he was lying in a makeshift bed next to a sprawled out Kooh. He rubbed his eyes and glanced around bleary-eyed. Alicia and Amarylys were huddled together fast asleep and Amata snored gently before she turned over and muttered something in her sleep, but she smiled nonetheless, seemingly having a good dream. The Abellan climbed out of bed and gathered his clothes that rested on the dresser nearby, neatly folded with his glasses and headphones atop them. He carefully stepped over the other girls and slipped out of the room quickly and quietly before drifting towards the washroom just down the hall. It was a cozy little place painted sky blue with white tiles and a pair of soft carpets at the sink and toilet. He awkwardly tried to slip out of his pajamas but got one of his arms stuck in a sleeve and moved back in forth in a vain attempt to break free of the hold his clothes had on him, then finally hit a doorknob and took a knee as a painful silence ensued. He managed to escape the top and slipped out of the pants before getting into his regular outfit and rose to his feet before looking over his image in the mirror. Kooh and Peorth were likely already awake-constant vigilance and nothing but for those two. He chuckled gently at the thought. He washed his face and slapped his cheeks a couple times before clenching his fists and muttering a quiet 'okay'. He was ready for the day-mostly.
    After a bit more preparation TJ made his way down the hallway, looking about as if it were his first time in the house-despite the party that was thrown the day before it was still hard to believe that it had belonged to him and his companion. The time he had spent with his guild mates was something he would not soon forget, and he found himself looking forward to the next time they would be together for such an event. As he walked down the stairs the scent of breakfast wafted into his nose and enchanted one of his five senses, and the sight of the guild master preparing it had that effect on a second. As odd as it was, the Governor was not with her, and he had decided he would peruse the matter when appropriate.
    As he made his way towards the tiny bar-like kitchen he raised a hand as he said, “Morning Chief.”
    Peorth turned in his direction and blinked. “Good morning TJ,” She answered. She wore a turquoise apron with a little yellow chick upon it and he found himself hard pressed not to look at it. Noticing this, she took the hems of the apron in hand and said, “Forgive me, I have borrowed this without your permission.”
    He gestured it was alright. “No problem. If it's of use to you, that's good enough for me.” He smiled at her and her cheeks seemed to turn just a slight bit redder. “So what're you making anyway Chief? Can I help out in any way?”
    She nodded. “I am making smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and kiwi, ginger and banana smoothies.” He had no idea what half of those things were, but he certainly knew what an egg was. “Your help would be well appreciated.”
    He grinned. “Alright just gimme an order.”
    She chuckled gently at his enthusiasm. “Well then, would you break those eggs and put them in that bowl please?”
    He saluted her solemnly before opening the carton of eggs and taking one in his hand. At that moment a realization dawned upon him. He could not recall preparing a thing in his entire life. Since he had woken in Belos, many of his meals were either prepared or ready-to-eat in some way, shape or form. He had not the foggiest on how to even break an egg. His eyes flickered to their peripherals and he watched as the guild master swiftly and gracefully skated around the tiny kitchen space she had, from chopping up fruits and tinkering with the stove before her to pouring ingredients into the blender upon the counter. He looked down at the bowl with a  new found vigour and held the egg with the conviction of doing just what she needed him to do. He just had to break it, right? How hard could it be? He carefully held it within the bowl and slammed it down suddenly, causing it to break and fling egg innards about, along with pieces of the shell. Peorth turned to him with an almost dazed expression and he chuckled dryly. A fail-a big one at that.
    “This must be your first time hmm?” She asked shifting her eyes to him. He had not the slightest clue what the gaze she gave him said, but it still stung.
    “Y-yeah...sorry.”
    “I am well versed in more than just the art of war,” The queen answered with a chuckle. “Be it the Divine Arts or the culinary arts, they are within my realm of knowledge. I shall gladly teach if you are willing to learn.”
    There was a twinkle in his eyes at those words and he clenched his fists. “Let's do it!”
    The queen took the kitchen vanguard and removed an egg from the carton. “Patience is key here, TJ. Move steadily, and strike quickly, but gently.” She lowered the egg and tapped it against the rim of the bowl, and the action put a crack in it. With a couple of fingers alone she opened it up and the yolk within fell into the bowl smoothly. “You may not get it on your first attempt, but I believe you will in time. We have a whole carton of eggs to practice with, but we should aim to succeed before we reach that limit. We are cooking for everyone here, after all.”
    The Abellan nodded solemnly, his gaze focused on the egg within his fingers. He held it to the bowl just as she had, and gently hit it against the rim. He took a look at it to see if he had succeeded but noticed that the item remained unfazed. He tried once more with just a bit more force and he successfully cracked it. He carefully attempted to open it as Peorth had, and as he tried to no avail, she had suggested he do so with both hands. Her suggestion proved to be just what he had needed and he poured the yolk into the bowl with a look of satisfaction. He glanced to the guild master again as she quickly and efficiently cut up a small green fruit. “Hey Chief, where did you learn to cook anyway?” He asked. Though the silence did not bother him much, a chance to know more about her was always welcome.
    “I had been taught by Kooh many a years ago,” She answered coolly as she continued. “During our time on Asgard, Kooh had learned a variety of teachings from the masters at the palace so should anything happen to us, she could look after me. Be it stranded in unfamiliar territory, upon enemy lines or in a fierce battle against mother nature itself she had learned a myriad of survival skills so that we would be prepared for anything. But she had also learned from the head chef and many others how to cook meals fit for a queen.” Though it all sounded fantastic, upon those final words Peorth sounded just a bit lonely-her voice barely betrayed her usual tone, but hints of it slipped through. “Nevertheless, during our time here, after I had reached maturity I requested that she teach me all that she could. At times the training was harsh, but it was not anything I was not prepared for.” TJ continued cracking eggs as the guild master continued-the bright yellow yolks slipped into the bowl seamlessly and merged together with the others as he placed others in the carton, listening intently. “Often times, the members of the palace were vehement against me doing such things-they claimed it was unfit for a queen, and others had said I was acting too much alike to my mother. Despite that...she was revered by both the nobles and the common folk alike, and even some Agasura had come to know her name and look upon her kindly.” She gathered the fruits she had cut up and placed them into the blender. “I am thankful  for all of it. Kooh has been more to me than just my cousin-she acted as my shadow, my teacher, and was and is to this day one of my dearest friends. My mother is my idol. I am still far from accomplishing any feats as they have, but I will strive ever higher. Kooh as always kept her enthusiastic demeanour and kindness throughout my learning process, and those very facets of her personality have had an immeasurable effect on my current self. Though I do not have the passion and ability to teach as Kooh does, I shall do my best to help you in any way I can.”
    He chuckled gently as he cracked an egg and got some of the yolk on his finger. “What're you talking about? You're doing just fine, and I'm glad that you're the one teaching me. To think that we're here doing this now, after looking back on the past a casual and comfortable time like this seems almost extraordinary.” He smiled gently as he looked at all that was gathered in the bowl, the whole of them merged together into one. “A time like this where you and I and all the others are just...people. Cooking at home and having a good time.” He beamed. The words had a nice ring to them.
    Peorth let a quiet 'hm' escape her lips as she picked up a carton of milk. A small smile danced on the edge of her lips. “Perhaps you are right. Such times of peace are to be treasured. I too, am thankful that we have this moment together, no matter how brief it may be. Now then TJ, if you would be so kind I would like you to beat the eggs.” He tilted his head and she walked over before taking the bowl and a strange wiry item with a handle. “You must hold it like this, and move your hands in a motion like so.” She did so with skill and without spilling a single drop-her eyes were closed yet she did not see to do such a task. She placed the bowl down and handed it off to him. “Though it may not be necessary, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say.” He nodded solemnly. Start out slow, and speed up to a reasonable pace. That way he would not make a mess of the eggs and trouble the guild master. He began beating the eggs and she approached the blender. “This will be loud and may startle you,” She warned. He raised an eyebrow at her words before lifting his head, and at the press of the button her warning had failed them both.
    The egg beater flew through the air, as did the yolk within the bowl and the bowl itself. Calamity was going to strike like thunder in a matter of moments, and the two had little time to react. TJ reached out to catch the beater and the bowl, while Peorth moved forward swiftly and reached out for the bowl. He grabbed the beater and his eyes darted to the bowl that fell into the palm of the guild master's hand before she shifted it to catch the falling yolk, and he realized where he was at that moment and nearly lost his balance due to the sudden jerk. The two were face to face, one of his legs between hers and a hand on the counter keeping him on his feet while she held the bowl in one hand and breathing quietly while her eyes remained focused on his. The blender continued to spin wildly and looked as if the lid was ready to burst, and moments before it did Peorth reached out and placed a hand atop the lid.
    The Abellan chuckled dryly as he turned his eyes away from her. “W-well...that was a close call. Good save Chief.”
    “Constant vigilance,” She answered quietly. “Would you be so kind as to take this bowl?”
    TJ nodded before using his free hand to reclaim his balance and took the bowl from her hands so she could stand upright also. Her reactions were incredible, to say the least. Perhaps he could take a page from her book in that regard-if he could move like she could on the battlefield he would fare a lot better. As it stood, he was a tad on the sluggish side, and against the Sinners that very fact could lead to be his undoing. Perhaps Peorth's signature phrase should be a concept that he would live by? He chuckled at the thought. It was incredible that she had her guard up at all times, but if he attempted such a task he would likely expend all of his stamina before a potential threat even approached. On the other hand, considering how he handled himself he would likely be the biggest threat-if that incident was any indication, that fact would without a doubt hold true. But despite that, she looked past the mistake and continued on undeterred. She was a better teacher than she gave herself credit for, but he already said his piece on that. He saw her as much, much more, and though he could not put it into words the feeling that he had within would remain his secret.

    While Peorth explained how to scramble eggs and showed TJ how to do just that, the sound of the door opening caught both of their attentions and the two looked on as Kooh approached with a bundle of mails in hand.
    “Hey you two, I'm ho-” She paused as the mail fell to the floor and she looked aghast. “What happened here?!” The guild mastered tilted her head quizzically with her typical appraising gaze, and TJ glanced around guiltily. Did he leave evidence of his recent mistake? The kitchen looked as clean as could be, save for the dishes within the sink. He turned to Kooh with knit eyebrows, he now at a loss also. “Coitus?!”
    Peorth's head returned to it's usual position and she gave the Governor a blank stare. “Kooh please.” She answered. Judging by her reaction, Kooh was just being....Kooh. “We are preparing a meal, and that matter aside you know that such an event is impossible.”
    The Governor grinned. “Aww lighten up Princess! The kitchen is a magical and mystical place for more than just cooking you know!”
    “I would do no such thing in such a place.”
    The banter between the two seemed pretty common, but considering how flushed Peorth's cheeks were there was definitely something strange about it. Not that there were many times where the Governor did not say unusual things. Nevertheless, the Abellan cracked a smile-the two seemed to be having fun.
    “So how goes the cooking so far?” The Governor asked as she leaned against the counter, her chin in both hands.
    “All the preparations are nearly complete. The salmon should be finished smoking soon, so please go out and retrieve it shortly Kooh.”
    “Aye aye!” She said before gathering up the mail and placing it all upon a neat pile on the counter. “Looks like we've both got some mails Princess.”
    “Do tell.”
    Kooh took the first from the pile and glanced at it before sticking her tongue out and making a disgusted expression. “Bills, bills, more bills. Here's one for an upcoming GMA event. It's over in Aoich though.” She picked up another letter and tossed it away. “Spam, bills...ooh, what do we have here?”
    “Bills?” The guild master asked expectantly. Her tone was slightly more light-hearted.
    TJ glanced from the pan to the letter-a black envelope with a violet rose sticker that kept it shut. It even had white frills upon the edges of the envelope-fancy. “Looks like a letter from Lucia and the girls.” The Governor answered as she held it to the sun's light with a single closed eye.
    Peorth froze in place. “...Is that so? Let us review the contents after we have eaten. I feel that a mission may be right around the bend.”

    Shortly after Kooh had completed Peorth's request, the guild master laid out a series of plates and utensils and requested that the two set the table. While the queen laid out the food the other girls came down the stairs while yawning, rubbing their eyes and stretching.
    “Good morning!” Alicia greeted them with a grin. Of the three she seemed to be the most awake and chipper in the morning, sporting a bright smile.
    “Morning everyone. “ Amarylys followed suit but rubbed her eyes gently. Second only to Alicia she still seemed to be shaking off the grogginess from just waking up.
    The last one that followed them was the most surprising of them all. Amata looked like she hadn't sleep in days and mumbled something about the rest of the group being up way too early for their own good before throwing in an exhausted, “Morning,” at the end of her stream of her complaints. She yawned and stretched before stealing a glance at the three staring back at her and rapidly shaking her head. Her exhaustion seemed to disappear in a moment and a fire appeared in her eyes. TJ chuckled gently at the sight. Even in spite of her talk with the guild master yesterday a small part of her probably still saw her as a queen. Either that, or she did not want to show that side of her to the others.
    “Good morning everyone. Breakfast is ready so please have a seat wherever you wish.” The guild master told them before they all took a seat upon the table, TJ joining across from Kooh. “Will Su not be joining us?” She sat down in a chair on the end between himself and the Governor.
    He scratched his cheek as he recalled the last time he asked her about that. What would he tell the guild master? That matter aside some of the others were present, and it may have been better if they were spared the details of the contract considering how unusual it was. “She's uhh...on a diet.” He answered sheepishly.
    “I see.”
    Amata knit her eyebrows. “Is that her secret...?” She intertwined her fingers before turning her gaze away in deep thought.
    “If you're looking to lose weight you should talk to Peorth about that. I hear she has a pretty intense training regime!” Alicia told her with a raised finger.
    “Do you wanna join in Amata?” Kooh asked with a twinkle in her eyes. “The princess and I can whip you into shape right quick.”
    The Governor furrowed her brows and shook her head gently. “Uhh...n-no, but thanks anyway. It's not like I wanna be like the Prodigal Legend, I was just curious.” She closed her eyes and huffed gently. “That aside, I'm a master of the Arcane Arts while she's...something in a league of her own.”
    Amarylys turned to Alicia and muttered, “Who's the Prodigal Legend?” The latter shrugged.
    “That's Su you two,” Kooh answered.
    Amata put her fork down as she raised an eyebrow. “You don't know of that title? I'm surprised you haven't heard it before. I used to hear it all the time when I was a little girl in Mezzalone.”
    “You were born there?! What's it like?” Amarylys asked with excitement.
    The Governor looked surprised for a moment before twiddling her thumbs. “It's just like the other cities...you know...it's hot and stuff. It's a little like Ves with the giant buildings and the domes, but it's really...well there's a lot of trees. My people welcome nature with open arms but we're also known as the Haven that never sleeps. They love their celebrations...parades, music, bonfires, you name it, they do it all.” She smiled slightly as she closed her eyes. “They're not so bad, I guess. Bright costumes and tons of colours, fireworks, the festival times are pretty exciting. My parents and I used to attend them all the time growing up. If you've got time to kill you should stop by for one of them. You'll have a good time.”
    “That'd be nice. With all of this stuff going on in the other cities we could use a vacation,” Alicia sighed. “First the appearance of the Instance Dungeon in the Pyramids, the ongoing murder mystery in Elias, who knows what's gonna happen next? I'm starting to wonder if any city is safe.”
    “Don't you worry about a thing. We're on the case, and we'll have these things solved real soon. Just make sure to stay somewhere safe and leave the rest to us.” Kooh said while beaming. Alicia's expression seemed to ease up somewhat at her companion's confidence.
    “So how did you and Su meet anyway Amata?” TJ asked, his curiosity getting the better of him. He had only known that they were on bad terms, but never the reason why. A small part of him felt that through that he might get closer to finding out a bit more about Iris also, though it may have changed little about her current situation.
    The Governor sighed. “That? So embarrassing...” She sniffed. “I used to be against her becoming the God's Governor of Earth. Didn't think she was fit to do it...for reasons. Anyway the moral of the story is I was wrong and she isn't as bad as I might have made her out to be. After that disaster I've been a bit more careful about what I say and to whom, so quit giving me those looks!” All of the present Yggdrasil members save for Peorth looked at her with sparkles in their eyes, likely thinking the same thing-the two once rivals, now close friends.
    Peorth finished eating and wiped her mouth with a napkin before gathering her items and making her way to the sink. The Abellan watched solemnly. She did not eat much most of the time, but even while eating as much as they did she was fast. Was she in a hurry or was it always like that? As the chatter continued between the others, the queen reclaimed the letters Kooh had acquired and took a seat upon the couch to pore across all of them. TJ wolfed down as much food as he could due to a desire to find out who 'Lucia' was and what the guild master's mystery statement had meant. He started to choke and Kooh dragged him out of his chair into an embrace and squeezed his stomach hard a couple of times. It was painful, and the food went out rather than in, but she may have saved him from a very dangerous enemy right there and then. Much to the other girls' dismay.

    TJ lay face down on the couch while Peorth now sat at the far end looking through the other bills. Amata sat on the sofa across from him with Kooh next to her, Alicia in another soft chair nearby and Amarylys in one of the kitchen's seats.
    “You really should learn some patience TJ.” Amata said with an exasperated gaze. “You're the Abellan. We'd have several problems if you choked on your breakfast and died.”
    “Aww cut him some slack, we've all got our moments that aren't exactly our crowning achievements.” Kooh added before patting the Governor on the back. She knit her eyebrows and gazed back.
    “Urrgh...” TJ groaned both out of frustration and sickness.
    “You're a real class act.” Su added dryly from within.
    “I could do without the remarks.”
    Peorth finally made her way through all the letters and placed the last back in its envelope before placing it atop a neat pile with the others. “I have important news everyone.” The queen began. At those words everyone's attention was garnered upon her-even the unwell Abellan removed his feet from the couch's arm and sat upright to hear what she had to say. “It seems that...” She closed her eyes. “We have many bills to pay.” At those words there was a glint in her eye and a dry chuckle escaped the lips of all but Kooh who roared with laughter and Amata who looked on with a mix of confusion and curiosity.
    TJ began to chuckle gently under his breath. He really did enjoy her infrequent humour, but the timing she picked for it threw him into a loop. The others seemed to have similar feelings about the matter, but accepting of the fact nonetheless. They were likely rather used to the event.
    “You know P...Peorth...you sounded so serious I thought there was something serious going on. You had me worried for a moment there.” Amata said as she looked down at her slippers and tilted her eyes up to glance at the queen.
    “Oh but there is.” The queen answered in the same tone.
    “Eh? Seriously?” Amarylys asked with a startled look.
    Peorth nodded solemnly. “Yes. I know not what it is, but Lucia has informed me that an urgent matter has come up and that it would be in our best interest to visit her as soon as possible.”
    “Who's that?” The Governor of Fire asked the room.
    “She's a Vampanelar Confidant in Elias that works at Club Abio,” Kooh answered.
    “A Vampa-” Before Amata could finish her question TJ arose from his seat and leaned over the table after he slammed his hands down upon it.
    “Did you say Club Abio?! Are the Abio Rangers there?! Can I meet Abio Red there?!” His eyes sparkled with childlike glee.
    Kooh laughed as she gestured for him to sit down. “Calm down TJ. It's owned by the same company but they don't hang out around there.”
    He pursed his lips in disappointment. Why was it called Club Abio if there were no Abio Rangers? He had never met the real Abio Rangers, but seeing all of those costumed people in the various cities made him curious about them. “Well that's kinda lame.”
    Amata had her brows furrowed and glared at the Abellan for some time now. “Can I finish my question now?”
    “Huh? Oh...right, sorry.”
    She turned her focus back to Peorth and put on a serious expression. “So what's this about a Confidant being a Vampanelar?”
    “It is as Kooh says. Lucia and her sisters are all Vampanelars and Confidants, working together as one whole.”
    “There's more of them?” Amata looked at the guild master incredulously and received a nod in response.
    “She is a friend of my mother's, and someone I have been acquainted with for a very long time. It is thanks to her that I was able to locate TJ after his awakening, and that we are united to this very day, among many other things.”
    “Hm...” The Governor seemed satisfied with that answer. Was it the fact that Lucia was a companion to the previous queen or that the Governor had no reason to argue the point further? It was not completely unlikely the former was the case. She had a lot of respect for Peorth, and she seemed well informed on most matters, including the queen and her family-maybe she knew the previous queen also? “I haven't heard of them before so it's a bit to take in. If possible, I'd like to meet her. I know they function on their own specific ways of doing things so doing so with familiar faces should make things a bit easier.”
    “Yes, it would be a good idea to have you along. TJ, you are unfamiliar with the Vampanelar sisters as well, correct?”
    He nodded solemnly. The only Vampanelars he was familiar with were those in Foe Mansion, and they were definitely not the type that he would like to get to know a second time. To think the previous queen was able to befriend one was impressive in itself, but four of them? He would have to ask Peorth exactly how their family managed that. “Yeah I'm only familiar with Verun and Vanir.” He responded. Having three or more Confidants in one city seemed like an awful lot, but the things they did differed and going by what Amata said the way they did it also.
    “I've heard of that troublesome barista more times than I can count.” Amata muttered as she placed a hand over her left eye.
    “Just wait until you  meet him. He's in a league of his own.” Alicia added with a grin.
    “But he has the cutest little Brownie I've ever seen! And she acts as a waitress there too!” Amarylys said with a twinkle in her eyes.
    “I agree with Ama. What I wouldn't give for a Skuld of my own...” TJ added dreamily as he trailed off.
    “You're all getting off topic now.” Amata said as she crossed her arms. “So what do you suggest we do Peorth?”
    “We should visit her as soon as possible. Firstly, it would be in your best interests if you and TJ were formally introduced to Lucia and her sisters. At times, acquiring an audience with her can be difficult, as there are a myriad of Cerebians that visit her throughout the day with requests of their own, big or small.” Peorth intertwined her fingers. “Amarylys and Alicia, you may come along if you wish, but I am aware that you are already familiar with them all so you need not feel obliged to do so. Considering how dangerous Elias is currently, I wish for you to be in the city for as little time as possible.”
    Alicia nodded. “We might drop by the city again to prepare some things but we're not gonna stay there too long. I've still got the quest sheet that you'd mailed me so once we've found the boys we'll set out.” She explained.
    “Good. Now then, it would be best if we cleaned up before leaving. I do not wish for TJ and Su to return to a messy home.”
    As Peorth had said, there were still pillows scattered all over the room, dishes to be cleaned and blankets and whatnot that needed to be put away upstairs. TJ scratched his cheek gently as he tried to wrap his head around the idea of coming here regularly. How many years had he spent traversing the continent in total? It seemed unusual for an adventurer to settle down in one city, but even Peorth and Kooh had so it was not entirely unnatural.
    “Gimme an order Princess!” Kooh said as she darted out of her seat, ready and willing.
    The queen summoned Memorius Sanctum and brought out Renda's Mirror from within before handing it to Kooh. “I would like for you to return the pillows to the mirror. Amata, please help me by washing and drying the dishes once I've cleaned them. TJ, Amarylys and Alicia, I would like for you to handle folding the blankets and comforters and putting them in their respective places. If Su is awake please have her assist you in doing so.”
    “Aye aye!”
    Amata looked a bit wary, but more mousy than cautious. “I'll be in your care then.”
    TJ stifled a laugh. They were just doing simple chores but it sounded as if they were going to battle under Peorth's command. That courageousness and leadership of hers was a quality he had admired and adapted to-he would expect no less from her.

    It did not take long for the group to get all of the tasks done. Once they had finished Alicia and Amarylys changed clothes while the others had gathered downstairs.
    “Maybe you should hire a maid to look after the place while you're gone TJ. You like maids, don't you?” Kooh asked non-chalantly.
    Amata's gaze turned to him and he rubbed the back of his neck before he looked away and gesture that it was not the case. If she glared any harder she would likely burn a hole through him. “M-maids? Where'd you get that idea?”
    “Well you've got a real thing for Skuld don't you? I mean, they're pretty handy you know!”
    “It's not the same thing!” It was no less true that Skuld seemed like a really handy companion to have-she could cook and clean and also speak, but that was not the reason he had such a liking for her. He knit his eyebrows and shifted his gaze across the three, Peorth staring with a dazed look, Kooh beaming and Amata still glaring but with less intensity than before.
    The other two came down the stairs in their usual attire shortly after.
    “So you guys are off to Club Abio right? Watch yourselves out there. You know how crowded the streets are with everyone running here and there, but considering that it's been a day or so you might be able to get around with a bit more ease.” Alicia explained before she rubbed her left arm gently. “I'd expect that since it's less crowded, the city's gonna be on high alert. Try not to attract too much attention.” She smiled to lighten the mood but the bitter look in her eyes weakened the effect. “Anyway, Ama and I are gonna be stopping by her house here in Belos before heading back to the city, so we'll be leaving first. See you later everyone, and thanks for having us over.”
    “Thanks you guys! Be safe okay?” Amarylys waved as the two made their exit and Kooh locked the door after.
    “Are we all set?” Amata asked with a perusing look.
    “I am ready.” Peorth answered with a single nod.
    “Ready when you guys are,” TJ added.
    “Shall we then?” Kooh joined the group and Peorth held out her warp crystal. In a flash of light the four had vanished and made their way to the city of Elias.

    The city was bustling, per usual, but the reason being the Abellan could not say. There were guards stationed all about the city, a group of them positioned about the castle's gates, and adventurers came and went through the streets, some acting per usual while others wore looks of unease and hurriedly moved through the city to the nearest exit.
    “Club Abio is not far from here. Follow me.” Peorth said before breaking into a brisk stride with the others following closely behind.
    “So about the Vampanelar sisters...” TJ began, “do they...suck blood?” They did that right? Would becoming a Confidant change that fact?
    “Yes.”
    “Seriously?!” The tone of her voice made it hard to tell whether she was kidding or not, but he had hoped that she was.
    “You have no need to fear TJ. Though they may suck blood, they will not do so indiscriminately. It is something they will occasionally request of clients, but more often than not they will request that the client bring them something in turn for information. Often times something items obtained from Agasura. They are typically inexpensive and not too difficult to acquire. Nevertheless, they are very choosy about who's blood they are willing to drink.”
    “I think I could do without being turned into a Vampanelar slave just for some information,” Amata muttered under her breath.
    “You can become mine, if you're willing,” Kooh suggested before placing a hand to the Governor's chin.
    Amata grabbed her hands and crushed her fingers, which resulted in pained screams as the God's Governor twisted the entire arm and let go before walking away. “Anyone but you.”
    The group neared Verun's restaurant and TJ looked at it with a puzzled expression. “Here? But isn't this Verun's place?”
    “Same place. Kinda.” Kooh chuckled, her hand placed under her armpit due to the soreness.
    Peorth turned into the alleyway of the restaurant and stopped at a single violet door. The trio followed after her and as they did TJ spotted a sign that rested above the door in bright, flashy neon lights that read Club Abio. The Abio's 'a' was shaped just like a non-capitalized a with a face with happy squinty eyes within it, just like the one on the giant building he saw in the Big Apple. She placed a hand to the door's handle and the moment she opened it a wave of sound engulfed them all. Bright lights, people cheering and dancing and a person performing on stage doing a myriad of expressions and actions were only some words to describe the place. It was dark, but the strobing lights in a myriad of colours and gave enough light for the group to have a vague idea of what was going on within. TJ had never seen anything like it, but he was curious what they were doing and had a strange urge to join in the excitement.
    “Welcome to Club Abio. Shall we?” Peorth asked.
    “Man...and I thought my people partied too much. This is ridiculous.” Amata muttered.
    “Let's go in and dance Amata!” Kooh said as she took the Governor's hand and ran into the Club.
    TJ smiled at Peorth. “Let's go.” He said as he took the door and she gave him a nod before entering.

    It was like stepping into an Instance Dungeon but rather than giving off the vibe and aura of Agasura that could strike at any moment, it was a strange energy. Pure excitement, the sound of music reverberated through the room and it made the Abellan feel like joining in the celebration. He smiled and caught a glimpse of Peorth's piercing blue eyes gazing at him with a keen curiosity. Nearby he caught a glimpse of Kooh now holding both of the Governor's hands, moving to the music and taking her partner along with her, much to her dismay. Despite the frustration, Amata seemed to be getting into it little by little also, steadily keeping up with her companion's pace, and forgetting what they had come to do.
    As Peorth lead on through the crowd a shadow sneaked up behind the Abellan that he could not see. It slunk ever closer and as it neared and followed closely behind him, craned its neck to get its head right next to his neck, and bared its fangs. Before he could even catch the movement the queen turned on the balls of her heels and flicked the shadow on the forehead causing it to shrink away, and the two to be standing face to face once more.
    TJ looked at Peorth with a startled look as his glasses slid down his nose and the guild master brushed a few stray hairs from her bangs. “W-what's wrong Chief?” He asked.
    “It is not a very large problem. A nuisance has appeared, is all.” She answered coolly before pointing behind him.
    There was a girl that looked no older than twenty wearing a sleeveless black dress, and matching shoes. She had bright crimson eyes and long platinum blonde hair in a side tail. She also was crouched down while she rubbed her forehead, small tears formed in each corner of her eyes. “That was really mean Queenie...I just wanted to greet your little friend,” She muttered.
    Peorth pursed her lips-an uncommon occurrence. “That would be very irresponsible of you Monica. You know that your nature must be kept a secret from the guests at Club Abio. More so you have not made a deal with him as of yet.”
    Monica rose to her feet with knit eyebrows. “Yeah but sis handles all the deals and you know how she does things. It's unfair!” Judging by those words, she must have been one of Lucia's sisters. Despite her face, she seemed a little more immature than she let on but it was much too soon for him to suspect that of her in its entirety. What happened between those few moments?
    “That has nothing to do with TJ.”
    “Eh? That's TJ?!” She looked from him to the queen and back once more, now with her eyes hungry and a bit of drool running down her mouth. “I knew that scent was too good to be true! Can I have a taste? Just a little bit?”
    “N-no,” TJ answered cautiously.
    She looked rather dejected at his words. “Boo!” She sniffed the air a couple times before turning a more serious gaze to Peorth. “I can smell Bloodbag and another person. Another God's Governor?” She asked.
    “God's Governor of Fire, Amata. Yes.” Peorth answered without batting an eyelash.
    “Sounds like you brought out a feast of the best.” Monica grinned devilishly. “You plan on asking sis for a big favour or what?”
    The queen shook her head solemnly. “No, I have no requests of her this day. I have caught word that she had wished to see me, so I decided to take this opportunity to introduce some of my companions to her.”
    “Sounds just like you Queenie. You need to lighten up a bit!” She said before slapping Peorth roughly on the shoulder twice. “Take your girlfriends and have some fun here sometime!”
    Before TJ could make a comment about that misunderstanding he was suddenly lifted by the hem of his shirt from the ground and he looked around in a panic. There was a girl that looked eerily similar to Monica behind him, wearing the same dress and her hair in a mohawk braid. She had a lollipop in her mouth and seemed to glare, and it made him question exactly how he wronged her, and why Peorth watched silently. “Is this the kid? Give him a couple years and he looks like a cross breed between a human and a flamingo. You guys are really something else.” She remarked before offering them a grin. “Good to see you alive and in one piece Queenie. Welcome back.”
    “I am glad to see that you are well as well, Naomi.” Peorth answered with a blink.
    “He?!” Monica cried out in disbelief.
    Naomi dropped the Abellan and actually glared at her sister-she seemed to just look really mean on a regular basis, but when she did get angry it was a huge difference. “I told you several times already. You don't listen.”
    “But...but...!” She held out both hands to the Abellan who had his hands clasped together and looked at Naomi with sparkles in his eyes.
    She took a step back after being startled by his affectionate expression and sighed, her usual glare returned. “Doesn't matter how girly he looks, that's a guy. Get used to it.” She looked down at him before clicking her tongue. “The Abellan huh? I gotta admit...his blood smells pretty good...it's unnerving.”
    “You may not.” Peorth said bluntly.
    “Yeah figures you'd say that.” Naomi answered as she rubbed her neck. “So? Where's that idiot cousin of yours?”
    “Hey girls look who I found in the crowd!” The sound of another girl's voice caught their attention and TJ squinted his eyes. She too, looked eerily similar to the others, and wore the same dress and shoes. Her hair was wavy and she held both Kooh and Amata by their wrists as she walked over. Once she neared she let them both go before she flew at Peorth and nuzzled her. “It's great to see you again Queenie! Are you well? And is this another of your girlfriends?”
    Peorth was not fazed at all by the occurrence, likely due to having lived with Kooh for so long who actually looked like she was ready to pounce. “This is TJ. He is my contractee, and the Abellan.”
    “H-hey.” TJ answered awkwardly with a wave.
    She let go of the queen and walked over to him before squeezing his cheeks and inspecting him. “I've gotta admit, he's a little on the unassuming side, don't you think? Truthfully I expected someone much more intimidating.”
    “That makes two of us.” Amata added with a huff.
    “Gimme a break,” TJ muttered through squished cheeks.
    “Well the blood never lies.” Maya said with a smile. “If you give me a taste I might be able to gauge your strength from it.” She said before placing a finger to her lips and smiling devilishly.
    “Give it up. Queenie's an impenetrable fortress when it comes to him.” Naomi muttered with an exasperated sigh.
    “She rattled my brain with a forehead flick!” Monica complained. That certainly explained why she was rubbing her forehead earlier, but it happened way too quickly. What kind of training did Peorth go through to become so incredibly fast?
    Maya sniffed while looking rather dejected. “Well that's a shame. Still, it's a surprise to see the whole gang here. Two God's Governors, the queen and the Abellan?” She grinned. “Are you preparing for an all-out war or something?” TJ wondered what they would say if the reason they were all gathered was because they had a pajama party. Then again, that would definitely be better off kept secret-it probably would not be very good to make them seem to easy-going. Peorth usually came off as very serious, so it was better to keep it that way.
    “We must be vigilant at all times. Considering the current circumstances it is better to be on guard at all times, and it is safer to travel in groups. We know not when the murderer will strike again, and who. That matter aside, the Instance Dungeons that have been appearing of late are cause for concern.”
    “To say the least,” Naomi remarked.
    “I'm surprised that all of you guys are still around, and that people are still here.” Kooh added with raised eyebrows.
    “Most of them are young people,” Maya answered. “As for us? Well we're not really afraid of some murderer. Agasura, Human, doesn't matter. That aside, we have a job here and clients that are counting on us, so we're not going anywhere in a hurry. We're Confidants through and through.”
    “Yep!” Monica said with a grin. “We've got a promise to Queenie and her mom so we're here to stay. So be sure to come to us for the best information services in all of Jienda!”
    “You and that wacky barista do the same thing? Isn't that kinda redundant?” Amata asked incredulously.
    TJ pondered that question for a moment. Maybe Amata did not know, but Vanir was really good with information about the Agasura, especially the really unusual kinds like him. The service was free too, which was helpful. He was a tad afraid of having his blood sucked and possibly becoming a Vampanelar himself. The idea of wearing a dark cloak and pretending to cry just to jump out at adventurers in Foe Mansion for the rest of his life made him shudder.
    “That guy? I swear he's ninety percent sarcasm and stupid remarks and ten percent Confidant, if even. That brownie of his might as well run the shop and be the Confidant while she's at it. She's way more capable than that moron she calls a master.” Naomi answered with a shrug. “Our business is nothing like that.”
    “I think he's a pretty fun guy,” Kooh said.
    “What about his work ethic?”
    “I'd say it's questionable at best,” Maya offered.
    “Shaky,” Monica added.
    TJ chuckled gently. It seems that the sisters had the same opinion on Vanir. In spite of that, TJ thought he was pretty helpful nonetheless, if you could look past his odd humour. Perhaps if they shared in his eccentricity, they would get along well? It was tough to say for sure.
    “I'll never understand why sis has such a penchant for the guy.” Naomi said as she crossed her arms. There actually was one?! At that moment it dawned upon TJ that they were likely quadruplets. If they tried hard enough telling the difference between any of them would be extremely hard. That aside, Lucia must have been the most eccentric of all of them to get along with Vanir, when even her sisters had mixed feelings about him.
    “Beats me,” Monica said.
    “Tasty blood?” Maya suggested.
    “Hey keep it down would you? We're still on the job.” Naomi muttered as she covered her sister's mouth. “Well whatever, I'm gonna get back to it before we start drawing too much attention. It was good seeing you Queenie, Bloodbag. And you too Abellan. You've really changed since the last time I saw you.” She smiled at him, and her eyes did too-he felt his heart skip a beat at the sight. But how did she know him? Was it before he had lost his memories or had she just seen him around somewhere? “And you?” She turned her eyes to Amata and they took on their normal look.
    “Amata Seitz. God's Governor of Fire.” She answered coolly before placing her hands in her pockets.
    Naomi shifted the lollipop in her mouth from one side to the other solemnly before offering the Governor a grin. “You've got style. I think you and I would get along nicely. Come hang out sometime yeah?” She began to walk off and wave. “See ya later.” The Governor watched her walk away with a raised eyebrow.
    “I can make a cool exit too...” Monica muttered under her breath as she glared at her sister.
    “You work on that. Anyway be a dear and take our guests to see Lucia would you?” The sound of the crowd chanting Maya's name caused her to point her thumb towards the stage. “I did promise a few of my fans I'd take the stage. It was great seeing all of you again. Also TJ, take good care of Queenie would you? She's a very dear friend.” She placed a couple fingers to her forehead and waved them off before making her way into the crowd.
    Monica was fuming. “Just because I'm the youngest they think they can do whatever they want!”
    “I understand your pains Monica. Keep your head high, you will accomplish great things so long as you do not give up.” Peorth explained with her usual gaze focused on the dancer.
    “Queenie!”
    TJ chuckled gently. “Four sisters huh? Lucia must be an interesting one huh? Have you met her already Kooh?”
    The God's Governor pursed her lips. “It's because of her I got the name Bloodbag. I'll get her back for that one of these days.” She muttered in response. To think there was someone that could actually agitate the always cheerful Governor came as a surprise to him. “She's pretty level-headed though. She's pretty much the one that keeps everything running around here. Kinda like how the princess manages Yggdrasil, she handles all the clients and stuff.”
    “Well let's not keep her waiting or it's gonna be my head that rolls.” Monica said with a sigh. With an acknowledging nod from the group they made their way through the crowds to a black door that was labelled 'Members only'. Monica pushed the door open and gestured for them to go in. “Just follow Queenie and Bloodbag. They know the way.” Kooh growled at those words and Monica smiled innocently as she walked by.

    The corridor was rather dim, and the walls were lined with a group of doors amidst bulletin boards, a variety of sheets of papers all with different sorts of information, from promotions at Club Abio to other Abio related events. Some promotions even featured the girls that the group had just met. As they walked past the doors TJ glanced at some of them, catching glimpses of the different rooms belonging to each of the dancers, likely dressing rooms. The doors had plaques in a variety of shapes and sizes, each with the owner's name upon them. At the far end of the hallway he could see one with a star upon it and the name 'Lucia' written in cursive. He felt a strange pressure come over him, as if he was stepping into a guardian's chamber. Perhaps it was nothing more than his own unease playing tricks on him, but perhaps Lucia was not meant to be underestimated.
    Peorth approached the door and gently rapped her knuckles against it three times.
    “Princess? Is that you? Please, come in,” A velvety voice responded and invited them in. With a nod to her guild mates the queen opened the door and light streamed into the hallway, revealing the inside of Lucia's dressing room. As they all made their way inside they looked around the room curiously-a couple of lights had lit the bright room, the walls covered in pictures of Lucia with her guests, some with her sisters, and all sorts of work-related information sheets ranging from personal safety to handling unruly guests. Upon her mirror was a picture with all four of her sisters and a myriad of hand-written notes that seemed to be for the clients that she took during the day, each lined the edges of the mirror leaving the center free for her to utilize as it was intended to. Lucia herself sat in a fine leather chair, wearing the same dress and shoes beneath a loosely knit violet shawl. She shared the same traits as her sisters, but she had a certain beauty to her that the Abellan could not put into words-her hair was shaped into ringlet curls and her eyes had a look to them that just seemed to entrance the onlooker which he realized made it awfully difficult to look away. She blinked before smiling. “Ah, Bloodbag and some new faces hm? It's nice to meet all of you. Don't be shy, come in, take a seat!”
    Kooh made her way in behind the queen and pulled up a small black chair before offering it to her cousin. The queen sat down after offering the Governor her thanks while Amata sat down in another chair like it nearby. There was a strange green sack sitting on the floor and TJ stared at it with an odd curiosity. What was it? What was inside of it?
    “That's a seat TJ. It's a chair. Sit in it and stop looking at it so forlornly. You're giving me the heebie jeebies...like there's something wrong with it.” Amata said before giving him a gentle shove towards it.
    What part of that sack was a chair?! He considered asking but he set the matter aside so Peorth could continue on with her business. He sat down and immediately the chair sank underneath his weight. It was going to swallow him! He sunk further and further in and flailed about as a fearful gasp escaped his lips. “I-I'm sinking!” He cried out in desperation.
    Amata peeked at him from her peripherals with knit eyebrows. “Man, you need to get out more. Is everything dangerous to you?” She asked.
    The Confidant chuckled gently as he righted himself and caught her gazing at him, wearing a small confident smile. “You must be the Abellan TJ. I have heard quite a fair bit about you from the Princess over the many years. You're much more fascinating than I could've expected.”
    Her unflinching gaze on him made his face flush and he adjusted his headphones nervously. “T-thanks. It's nice to meet you too, Lucia.”
    “It seems you also have another new companion with you? May I ask your name?”
    Amata nodded solemnly, her expression became serious, and one much more familiar to the Abellan. “Amata Seitz, God's Governor of Fire. I'd heard about you from Queen Peorth recently, and since I was with them she allowed me to come along also. It's a pleasure to meet you...after all, I don't know much about the Confidants outside of Ves.”
    “Mm is that so?” Lucia asked with an appraising gaze. “Well if it's information on people, places, or events feel free to make an appointment with me. My sisters and I are very well informed on the events that happen across Jienda. Though it is a surprise to see two God's Governors in the same room. Have you begun seeking the five out already Princess?”
    Peorth shook her head gently. “Essentially I have not. For the time being I have my sights set on defeating the Seven Sinners and assisting TJ in mastering his power. But I am well aware of the part that the God's Governors have to play in this scenario, and I intend to find the God's Governor of Wind as soon as possible.”
    Lucia raised an eyebrow. “You had mentioned that the God's Governor of Earth was also in your guild correct? Can you call her now?”
    “That is up to her and TJ.”
    TJ blinked. “Hang on, I'll ask her. How about it Su? Now's a good chance to meet Lucia. Never know when we might be coming back again.” He suggested.
    “Ugh whatever.” Su answered before his crystal began to light up and the God's Governor emerged with a bored expression. “God's Governor of Earth Suuba, at your service.
    Lucia blinked slowly, her expression remained, but she seemed to be taking in the matter without disbelief. “So it's true. To think that the Abellan has such a power truly is incredible. With abilities such as that, I've not a doubt in my mind that you could rival King Asmodeus TJ.”
    “So did you call me out just for this?” Su muttered looking agitated.
    Lucia chuckled gently and offered the girl a grin, her fangs becoming more apparent now. “Well information is as good as gold in such times, though I won't share this fact with anyone. In truth, seeing Princess through her duties is something that I take very seriously. The foundations of the bond that Queen Remedi and I have forged is tied to her lovely daughter here, and by extension you and the Abellan. Though I'm a Confidant also, so it's also my duty in that regard. Nevertheless, my name is Lucia, a dancer at Club Abio and a part time information consultant. It's a pleasure to make all of your acquaintances.”
    “Likewise,” TJ answered cheerfully. He had expected her to be Vanir levels of strange but she was normal, thankfully, and really polite at that. Perhaps visiting her would be a good idea again, considering how much she knew about a variety of subjects. If it was true that her sisters could find people on the continent, could they find Iris? On the other hand, if she had gone to another continent beyond Jienda, he would have to hang up that hope. The only ones he knew of were the Big Apple and Toad Island, but as far as those go there were very few clues that she had been there in the recent times. The only other place he could think of was Asgard, but as far as he knew the Bifrost was not repaired. If she was there,  just beyond his reach, could he find her by repairing it? That too, would likely be a paramount part of his journey, but would also mean that the Cerebians' eventual return would be imminent, and the time of parting with his guild master also. He knit his eyebrows.
    “Is something on your mind TJ? You seem awfully pensive.”
    He looked up with a start and began to sweat. “Huh? Do I? Oh...no, no it's nothing! Anyway...you wouldn't happen to know the God's Governor of Wind would you?”
    She chuckled devilishly before smiling at him. “Curious are you? There might be something I could tell you, but information is not free, after all.” She placed a finger to her lips as her eyes focused on him.
    “Could you not do this as a service to me?” Peorth asked.
    Lucia placed her hands in her lap and crossed her legs. “That's a possibility also. I do plan on helping you regardless-perhaps we can call it my own selfishness. Since the moment the Abellan stepped into the club I could smell his blood, and over the years it's fermented to perfection. I'd be lying if I said even I could stave off the desire for a taste.” TJ swallowed hard as Lucia turned her focus back to him. The smile she gave him was unsettling, yet charming at the same time. “How about I make an offer for you, TJ?”
    A bead of sweat ran down his cheek. For the sake of seeing his quest to completion, for his friends and for the world, was giving up a bit of his blood that difficult? He clenched his fists. “Tell me more.”
    “You have a good expression.” Her smile subsided slightly, and her expression turned hard though she still wore a confident look. “In turn for some of your blood, I will tell you all that I know about the God's Governor of Wind. As an added bonus, I will have my girls seek him out for you, and inform Princess as soon as we've located him. Does that sound fair to you?”
    He nodded twice. Su gave him an appraising gaze, and Peorth looked on with knit eyebrows. “I-I'm ready. I'll take that offer.”
    “Wonderful. Now where did I put my syringe...?” Lucia thought aloud as she opened her drawer and sifted through a series of small items-likely make-up and such.
    “You mean that giant-ass thing behind TJ? You could suck a freakin' elephant dry with that thing.” Su said before pointing to a massive syringe sitting behind the Abellan. He turned back and looked on with horror. A giant syringe that stood to about his shoulders in sheer height alone rested against the wall, waiting to be used.
    “Hm? Oh!” The Confidant laughed. “You don't need to worry, I don't plan on using that on him. It's just a little something from my days as a Vampanelar. All of my sisters have one, but nowadays they only serve as reminders of the past.” She drew a regular sized syringe from her drawer and beamed. “This will only sting just a bit.” Peorth seemed a little relieved at the sight, but TJ felt unsure which was worse-Lucia's fangs or the needle on that syringe. She rose from her seat and offered it to him as she brought out a couple more items. “In truth, I prefer my blood directly from the source, since it does taste it's best when it's warm, but if I took this all to myself my sisters might overthrow me,” She chuckled gently. “I would recommend that you look away if you've never gotten a needle TJ. Some faint at the sight of blood.”
    He wanted to say that would not be the case, considering how much of it he had seen in the past, but he was not fond of it either. He felt Lucia rub some kinda of liquid on his arm before tying something around it, and shortly after he felt an odd stinging sensation. After a few seconds the needle was removed from his arm and she attached a cotton ball to it. He looked back and glanced at Lucia smiling at him, the syringe now filled with blood, unsettling him slightly. Thankfully, it was nowhere near as bad as he might have expected it to be. “Is that enough?” He asked.
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Tue May 12, 2015 5:40 pm

    Pages 188-198:
    She looked surprised, a first. “I'd gladly accept more if you were willing to share.”
    “Eh? Oh no, that's not what I meant!” He gestured that at the same time, shaking his head rapidly.
    Lucia chuckled gently at his words. “I'm just teasing you TJ, but I appreciate this nonetheless.” He returned to the bean bag chair, this time prepared for the inevitable surprise attack and felt a bit of pride at expecting the event. “Now that the matter's settled, I'll share what I know with you.” She cleared her throat before raising a finger. “The current God's Governor of Wind, in spite of the other elements, is male. We can't tell you his name, but what I can tell you is that he was born shortly after the Asgardians fled from their home, and he was born and raised in the Haven Lemanin. He's a charming little thing, popular among the girls of both the Haven and the city of Yong Gyoung. He can be a tad flighty and difficult, so having him join in your quest won't be easy, but...” She smiled devilishly. “With as many pretty young girls as you have with you now, catching his eye won't be difficult. Keeping him though, is another matter in and of itself, but I'll leave finding out how to do that to you. As promised, I'll have the girls seek out his current location and pass this on to you upon the first opportunity I get.” She smiled. “I look forward to doing business with you again!”
    Peorth intertwined her fingers as she gently leaned her head against them. “Now about the matter that you have summoned me for?” She asked.
    Lucia nodded solemnly, turning her serious gaze back to the guild master. “Recently all of my sisters and I had been sensing a strong Agasuric presence coming from Captain Bong's Land. At first, I had suspected it was the three Bongs just causing a ruckus, which is not entirely uncommon for them, but as the days went on that presence grew stronger, so I had Monica investigate it. In the Cookie Garden of Bong's Land a new Instance Dungeon appeared, and she had said it was nothing like the Instance in the castle. This is just a wild guess, but we've all come to the agreement that it belongs to one of the Seven Sinners.” Lucia placed both her hands in her lap before closing her eyes slowly. “If you plan on going in there I'd recommend that you prepare yourself thoroughly. In your last letter you'd told me that the Instance Dungeons seem to evolve as time passes, right?”
    The guild master nodded. “That is correct.”
    “All the more reason than. That Dungeon has been around for some time now, so be extra careful. None of us know how long, but if it's any consolation we have not caught word of it be it from the clients, or guests at Club Abio so it's not well known as of yet. I'd say the sooner you clear it the better, but going in recklessly would be putting your lives on the line. What do you plan to do, Princess?”
    “We will make preparations and set out tomorrow.” Peorth declared.
    “That's my princess!” Kooh shouted excitedly.
    “You plan to go in there yourself Peorth?” Amata asked incredulously. The look in her eyes was both one of fear and of shock. TJ could understand why she would feel that way-he feared seeing the queen on the front lines as much as she did, but he had seen how capable she was and he believed in her with every fibre of his being. If that was not enough, he would be her shield and her sword in the coming battles. He would not let her die if he could help it.
    The queen nodded but once, slowly, assuredly. “It is my duty to see TJ through his growth, and to aid him in the coming battles up to the time where we finally end the war. I am his contractor, and his guild master. I will protect him and my guild with my life if I must. This is a responsibility I have taken up the moment I had decided that I would head Yggdrasil and one that I will not ever take lightly.”
    Amata clenched her fists and lowered her head. “Why are you so...so...” She looked up  to the guild master, tears in her eyes and a hand to her chest. “Please, please, take me with you! I...I have to...teach me! I need you to teach me your ways. If it's you, even if I'm not even worthy to walk the same ground you do you might be the key to understand myself...and becoming a worthy God's Governor! I learned to awaken years ago but it's not enough...even Dad told me that. If I can't master myself I'll fail my test and let all of you down. I won't put the world in jeopardy! So please, let me fight alongside you even if it's just this one time!”
    Peorth arose from her seat and took the God's Governor's hands in her own. “Dry your tears, Amata. As I had told you prior, you and I and all the others are on the same standing here. If there is anything I can do to assist you in your quest towards ascending, you need only ask it of me. As for this journey, TJ I would like for you to lead the party once more. All that I ask of you is that you bring Amata and I along with you.”
    He sat up in the chair and it shifted under his weight causing him to fall here and there as he struggled to find a balance once more. “Huh?! Me? Whoa, no, I couldn't! I mean, I could but...I can't! I'm not quite cut out to be a leader just yet Chief. I think you should lead our party as usual. You have all of the qualities of a leader, so I'll follow in your wake and take a page from your book along the way.” Amata was willing to risk her life also in the coming battle, but her words had resonated within him. He had grown exponentially over the year or so that had passed, but he still had so much learning to do. Just as Amata had feared that to fail her 'test' would be letting down the world, he had his own concerns and tasks to see through successfully, which included the assistance of the God's Governors. He could not, and would not fail. If he was willing to put his companions in danger under his command, he wanted to be prepared and confident enough to lead them without the hesitation that plagued him now. He needed to be braver than he was now...perhaps the time had not come yet, but he would take great strides towards that goal no matter how difficult the challenges were before him. With Peorth...thanks to her, he felt sure that he could move forward and climb over any insurmountable wall. Under her banner he would move forward with more confidence, but deep down a fear of the unknown haunted him, while a fear of knowing he would have to cross paths with another of his siblings ailed him.
    “If it as you wish, then I shall do so.” Peorth answered.
    Su grinned impishly. “Cool it with the water works Amata,” She sneered.
    “Shut up! You can start talking when you learn how to awaken!” She retorted with a huff. “B-besides, Captain Bong's Land is near Ves, which is under my jurisdiction so it's only natural that I should investigate the matter!”
    “Excuses, excuses,” Su muttered with a shrug. Her brows were furrowed, though.
    “So will it be the five of us?” Kooh asked with a grin. “We'd make one hell of a team.”
    Peorth turned to the Governor, her eyes appraised her before they were closed solemnly. “I would like for you to stay behind on this mission Kooh.”
    She smiled, but her eyes did not follow suit. A silence fell over all of them and each laid their eyes upon the guild master who opened her own, both shuttered. “...What do you mean Princess?”
    “We must consider the circumstances very carefully, Kooh. The only people currently familiar with Captain Bong's Land within Yggdrasil currently are Curt and RoboCurt. Going into the Instance Dungeon without any intelligence of what lurks within is dangerous in and of itself, but diving into unfamiliar territory on Jienda would be unwise also. Having a guide familiar with the lay of the land would be the wisest choice. If we spent two or three days wandering through the Cookie Garden in search of an Instance Dungeon, we would waste both our supplies and our time, allowing the Instance Dungeon to evolve further and become increasingly dangerous.” She clasped her hands together as she blinked slowly, empathetically. “I do understand how you feel, but you are the last of my Keruz. You understand, do you not? There are guild matters that need to be attended to, a murderer running amok in the city, and a very high chance that another Instance Dungeon will appear in the near future. Humanity needs a strong Cerebian to defend it in our absence, regardless of where in the world it is. With two of the God's Governors within the Instance Dungeon, and the third missing in action, our choices are very limited. We know not what awaits us, and because of this, I feel that it would be in all of our best interests if I had left such a duty in your hands. I do so because I know how capable you are.”
    Kooh knit her eyebrows, the look on her face one of both understanding and dejection. “I know Princess. I get where you're coming from. But I really don't like the idea of you going into dungeons without me. What if something happens to you? I'm sworn to protect you. I can't just twiddle my thumbs while you're risking life and limb.”
    Peorth lips curled into a tiny smile, one that contained the confidence of a guild master. “You must trust in me Kooh. I am an Ásvaŕtlim, after all.”
    Lucia raised an eyebrow as their discussion came to an end. “You two didn't have a falling out of some sort lately, did you? You used to be like two peas in a pod if I recall,” She said.
    “No, nothing of the sort. There are some challenges we must face given the circumstances that seem to be growing ever more difficult, but it is a matter that shall pass. At times tough decisions must be made.”
    “You can say that again,” Amata muttered as she rubbed her eyes.
    “Alright so now that you're little drama is over we should probably get to the real matter at hand. The fuck're we doing? What's the plan from here?” Su asked glancing at all of them. “Or are we just gonna sit here and create more unnecessary drama?”
    Peorth turned to her this time. “For the time being, we must prepare ourselves. As Lucia had said, the Instance Dungeon has been around for an extended period of time. I believe that it would be in our best interest if we did not underestimate it. We know not how long it will take us to get to the Instance Dungeon, or how long we will be inside of it, so I suggest that we prepare ourselves for a long journey. We should come prepared with all manners of supplies, and meet up first thing in the morning to begin our raid.” She shifted her gaze to Kooh next before drawing her warp crystal. “Kooh, I would like for you to take this and Amata and go to Mezzalone to make preparations. Since the God's Governor does not have one of her own, I will be depending on you for this task. I shall prepare all that I can with TJ, and will get in touch with Curt as soon as possible to inform him of what we have learned today. Are there any questions?”
    “I'm on it Princess.” Kooh answered.
    “I've no complaints,” Amata added.
    “Well whatever. Call me when something interesting happens.” Su said before returning to the crystal.
    “That sounds like a good plan to me.” TJ said rising from the chair, albeit with some difficulty.
    “Good. The mission begins now. Yggdrasil, dismissed!”
    As the party filed out the door they said goodbye to Lucia and she waved them off. TJ was about halfway through the door while Peorth bowed once to the Confidant and she smiled in turn.
    “You kids look after each other okay? I expect to see you back here to find out where the last God's Governor is located,” She said.
    “Consider it done.”
    “Thanks again Lucia. Take care!”
    She beamed at the Abellan. “No, thank you.”
    The group made their way down the corridor and back into the fray that was Club Abio, TJ caught a glimpse of Monica on stage and Maya within the crowd dancing along with some of the guests. Naomi leaned against the wall to the staff area silently sipping a water bottle.
    “On your way out? Have a good one yeah? See you next time.” She said before grinning at the group.
    They all said their goodbyes and TJ smiled lightly. There was something about those words-almost as if at them a promise was made. A promise to come back safely, to meet again. He would remember that, and spur himself forward so that he could come back to Elias safe and sound.
    Once they had reached the entrance Kooh hugged her cousin tightly while Peorth gently patted her on the back.
    “We'll be back soon Princess! No naughty stuff with TJ while I'm gone, okay?” She asked as if she was scolding a small child.
    “I will not,” Peorth answered blankly.
    “There's definitely something wrong with that girl,” Amata muttered.
    TJ laughed gently. “You get used to it after a while,” He said.
    “Mmk, you ready Amata?” Kooh asked as she drew the warp crystal and approached.
    “Ready as I'll ever be I guess.” She scratched her cheek. “I can't believe you're gonna be a guest at my house...I swear if you cause any trouble you're sleeping in the streets. And our rooms are gonna be separate, just in case. No more of your pajama parties or ridiculous antics!”
    “You're no fun.” The Governor knit her eyebrows. “Oh well. We're off you two! See you tomorrow!” Kooh waved and Amata also did so, albeit a little reluctantly.
    “We'll meet again soon, Abellan, Peorth.” At those words the two vanished. TJ felt a bit envious at the prospect of the two going to Mezzalone, but it also meant that it would be him and his guild master. He immediately covered his face at the realization.
    “Well then TJ, what do you plan to do now?” The queen asked him with a tilted head.
    “Eh? Uhh...I dunno. Do you need me for anything right now?” He asked.
    She rubbed her chin thoughtfully for a moment, her eyes wandered away. “There is nothing in particular, per se. I can handle  packing all the supplies, since I am well aware on how to utilize space.”
    “Well, I don't wanna distract you from that. Maybe I'll go kill some time at Vanir's shop. If he knows anything about the Seven Sinners that'd be a big help. Maybe he could tell me how to get this gold streak out of my hair.”
    She smiled gently. “However you may look, I strongly believe that it will be fitting of you.”
    His face felt hot at her words and he shifted his glasses slightly. “I...well...thanks. For the time being I think I'd like to keep my hair just one colour though.”
    “Let us not waste any time then. I wish for you to find your way to my home before the night falls. Though it is only mid-day, I would feel safer accompanying you to Madelaine's Tea Stop than letting you go alone.”
    He would too, but he was concerned about her getting home after seeing him off, but when it came to making decisions he was hard-pressed to disagree with the guild master. She always knew what was best, after all. He would trust in her choice. “Sounds good.” He smiled.
    The walk was not long, and the two did not say much but it did not bother him any. Peorth's silence was familiar and calming. The sound of her footfalls next to his reminded him that he was by her side, that they had faced a myriad of challenges and had arrived here-that they had survived through hell and high water. He smiled gently at the thought. A new challenge was right around the corner that could push the two to their limits-he would have to give his all in mustering up his courage to face it and come back once more, but also to ensure that his companions did also. Sooner or later he would need to be able to manage without relying on Su coming to his aid whenever he was in danger, and also without having to rely on the Chaos Frequency too much. It was certainly powerful, and made winning battles much easier but he knew that there was several things wrong with using that power, and he would not risk it. He decided that he would ask Vanir a bit more about it when they arrived. It was not long before they did just that, and he looked into the guild master's eyes as she did the same.
    “Please be careful on your way back TJ, and be sure to arrive before the night falls. I do not wish for you to be in any more danger than necessary,” She said.
    “No worries Chief, I'll be there. If you need me at any point though, lemme know. I'll be there.” He said offering her a thumbs-up.
    She chuckled gently. “I have not a doubt on that matter. Well then, until tonight.” She bowed and turned away as he waved.
    He turned his eyes to Madelaine's and took a deep breath. Hopefully Vanir could be of help to him once more.

    TJ pushed the door open and the sound of two bells chiming caught his attention. The first being that upon the door, jingling and signalling his arrival-the second was the sound of the chime from Skuld's, the top of the brownie's hat and head peeked over the other side of the counter as she climbed up on a stool to greet the Abellan.
    She looked solemnly for a moment before smiling. “Welcome TJ! How are you?” She asked.
    He smiled back. “Great, and you?” He asked in turn.
    “I'm okay. With all the stuff that's been going on around Elias business has been a little slow lately, but Master says that they'll be back once things calm down. He's not worried.”
    TJ smiled wryly. The thought of Vanir actually being worried about anything would be a sight to see. He seemed way too easy-going for that kind of concern. “I wouldn't expect any less from him.” His thoughts ran to their last meeting for a moment and he recalled receiving the cookies from the brownie at the time. “Oh right, thanks again for those cookies Skuld. God's Governor of Fire Amata said to send her regards. They made her...less grumpy! It was really impressive to be honest!”
    Skuld beamed. “I'm glad it helped. I think a nice snack could cheer anyone up.”
    “I completely agree there. Sweets are a cure-all.” TJ said dreamily.
    The sound of footsteps coming up stairs and the chime of Vanir's bell signalled his approach. “Skuld who are you talking to?” His voice rang out from what seemed to be a lower portion of the shop. TJ had not even known the place had a basement.
    “TJ came to visit Master!” Skuld answered.
    The footsteps stopped suddenly. “What?!” They started up again but much quicker, the barista stormed up the stairs and they came to an unexpected halt once more at the sound of a low thud followed by him shouting, “Gods!” In a matter of moments a second followed it and the barista slid into view within the kitchen's walls.
    “M-Master?!” The brownie cried out as she rushed to his side. He picked himself up from the floor and turned to TJ with a glint in his eye and blood dripping from his nose. The Abellan stared back both shocked and puzzled. The brownie rummaged through the pocket on her dress and pulled out a tiny package of tissues before twisting two around a bit while the barista rushed to the counter.
    “We're gonna make history here Skuld! This is big!” He brought out a strange black object and slammed it on the top of the counter before lifting a half-circle shaped object and holding it to his ear while turning a circular object on the base of the item itself-a long cord attached the two items together. He waited a couple moments patiently. “Hello is this Verun's? May I speak to the owner please?” The brownie handed him the pair of tissues and he stuffed them into his nose before he offered her his thanks. Through the object TJ heard Verun's voice, greeting Vanir as if he was posing a question and the barista's lips curled into an impish smile. “Guess who's at my shop and not yours? The Abellan. Ha! Suck it Verun!” He slammed the object down upon the base and startled the pair. “Ah...satisfaction.” He said looking completely emotionally sated. “I haven't one-upped that prick in some time now. Feels good.” He grinned at the Abellan. “So what brings you to this humble little shop on a craptastic day like this, other than the best damn cuppa joe in all of Jienda?”
    TJ rubbed his neck sheepishly. “Um...information?” He suggested.
    The barista remained silent for a moment, but his expression remained unchanged-or at least, what TJ could see of it. “Figures. Before that though, I've got a question for you.” The Abellan raised an eyebrow. “What's up with the gold streak in your hair?” He let out a chuckle and his lips curled into a grin. “Looks like you got my present huh? You're lookin' pretty damn spiffy in your new digs kid. Though I'll be damned if I see another person who could pull off a pink waiter outfit like you did.”
    TJ's face flushed at the comment and he knit his eyebrows. “I'm here to ask about just that...and thanks. Both for this and your...weird comment. It wasn't expensive was it? The outfit?”
    The barista sighed as he placed his cheeks in his hands. “Kid, you don't know how much LaDeck I play on a day to day basis. I tried like sixteen times to win myself a pair of Ishu's cyber wings and lost every damn time. It's like an addiction. I'd be better off playing slots with my milk money or taking my chances with the lottery.” TJ was lost at the mention of cyber wings, but he wondered if he had a pair whether or not he would be able to fly. Maybe he could win an Abio Ranger costume from LaDeck? “Anyway I scored a Toma's but had no use for it so I figured might as well give it to you. Now you're not blindingly pink, save for that hair of yours. Now in some kind of pom-pom style? Talk about an image overhaul.”
    “A lot's happened. A lot, a lot.” He said. He did not know where to even begin, but he figured it might be better to spare Vanir some of the details, considering how strange the circumstances were. He tried not to think about facing off with the Sinners as much as possible, and he only had battled one of the seven.
    “I could imagine,” The barista laughed. “So? How'd you get this gold streak in your hair? Tell me about it and I can probably help you out.”
    TJ knit his eyebrows. He walked in a circle and into a wall with his previous thought process. He took a deep breath and let out a sigh. What did he have to lose? Without a doubt, he had much, much more to gain. After all, who else  could tell him about the Agasura? “I...I integrated an Agasura. One of the Seven Sinners after I defeated her. Which explains the gold streak, more or less.”
    The barista pursed his lips in thought. “Well that seems pretty self-explanatory in and of itself. You are aware of the Agasura and their penchant for evolution aren't you?”
    TJ blinked. “I've got no idea. Teach me all of it.”
    Vanir blew a raspberry with his lips alone. “I'll keep it simple as a service. Basically, unlike the Cerebians Agasura don't get stronger just through practice. Think of the Contemptuous Arts-they're broken up into seven arcana based on each of the sins. The strongest of the Agasura would likely pick one of the seven arcana and use that as the basis for their strength. Like how humans rely on the elements, and each have their own specific uses and effects, the sins are the same thing. The more they use that specific sin, the stronger their affinity for it becomes and the stronger the spells with it.” He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Skuld, bring the whiteboard!” At his request the brownie ran into the kitchen and returned with a whiteboard, setting it up next to him. He picked up a marker that rested upon it and opened it before drawing a poorly drawn humanoid. “Let's say this is you. You look like your regular everyday Joe-next-door. So you've taken a liking to using Wrath, right? So you keep using it, and pow!” He doodled a pair of horns on the top its head. “The blood bond of an Agasura and the sins will change their outer shape eventually. It's the same with the others. You like using Gluttony?” He drew some fangs on the character. “You with me so far?”
    TJ nodded. “Yeah, seems pretty straight forward. I don't use the Contemptuous Arts much, but I can use all of them. Is that strange?”
    “You're damn right it's strange! It's downright messed up! But you're the Abellan so it's whatever. Anyway moving on!” He slapped the board twice. “Here's the kicker. Using the sins isn't all sunshines and rainbows. That stuff takes all kinds of energy. Cerebians love their mana and rely on that to cast spells and stances, but it's scarce. Hence the guild crops, right? Agasuras get mana in different ways, they've got no use for that nonsense. Souls! Flesh! Life force! Fear! That is the ticket to a strong Agasura. Chaos in all it's forms. They need it not only to survive, but to thrive. The more of it they have, the stronger they become and the greater the mana pool. The outer physical changes aren't just for looking scary. It's proof of the Agasura's strength, and that they're undergoing changes into becoming a greater form. The more you transform the more your abilities will improve, including the affinity for your preferred sins. But you're gonna need more and more mana to keep your growth ongoing.” He doodled claws and bigger appendages and a myriad of poorly-drawn spells coming from all directions, each listed with a sin. “One more thing you should be aware of though, is that just like with the Divine Arts, your mentality will affect your spellcasting and be affected by it. The stronger your affinity with a certain sin, the more like it'll shape how you act. It'd be a good idea to keep that in mind when you use those.” In that regard, they were a little like the God's Governors.
    “So because my Agasuric affinity's grown I've gotten this gold streak in my hair?” He placed his hands to his temples. “I'm not gonna grow horns too, am I?! Is this permanent? What am I gonna do if I'm stuck with those things?!” He cried out with a look of panic.
    “I'll be damned if I know. Does it look like I have horns growing out of my head?” TJ gave him a blank stare and he chuckled. “Not that you can see what's under my hat. Maybe someday you will, and when you do you'll never be able to take your eyes off of me. Your body isn't ready yet kid. Come and see me when you're eighteen or over.”
    “Eighteen?!” Ignoring the rest of Vanir's pointless rant, he found himself most bothered by that last suggestion. He was offended by it, and he could not put his finger on why but it annoyed him in some way shape or form. But he realized there was nothing else that he could say in response because he had no idea just how old he really was. “I don't care what's under your hat.” He was lying through his teeth, but he would not give the barista a reason to tease him like he did Verun. That mystery object was something like a guild badge-it had to be, to allow for long-distance communication. But he had never seen anything like it before.
    The barista shrugged. “Your loss Pinky.” Just when did he get that nickname? “So you got any other questions or what?”
    TJ placed a finger to his lips. That more or less, answered his question. If he was to fill in the blanks, it had meant that the more of the Sinners he integrated the stronger an Agasura he would become, both inside and out. It was concerning, but it was also necessary, and those two facts gave him a multitude of conflicting feelings on the matter. He wanted to go forward because he knew that he had to, but it still raised the question of how he would do that. He caught a glimpse of the brownie making her way across the kitchen with some cookie dough cut out in a series of different shapes. “How'd you get Skuld Vanir?”
    He gazed at the Abellan for a short while. “...You know, you already asked that question. Well your little friend with the potty mouth did.” He muttered.
    “Yeah but...your answer was really vague.”
    The barista let out a single laugh. “You're right! It was.” He stretched and let out a satisfied groan before he leaned against the counter, seeming to mull the idea over. Once Skuld returned with some tea and biscuits, laying them out before the Abellan Vanir pulled her back by the hem of her dress before she walked off and she glanced at him curiously. “Hold it right there! You're gonna be the one teaching the Abellan this time!”
    Her eyes widened and she began to sweat. “Huh? Me? Are you sure Master?!” She asked in disbelief.
    “Sure I'm sure. You're pretty damn capable in more than just cooking. 'Sides, it's not like anyone's gonna be showing up anytime soon. With murderers running amok not too many people are gonna be relaxed enough to sit down and have some coffee at this here fine establishment.” TJ chuckled at the words-the barista was unflappable in all the wrong ways, but it had a certain charm to it that he could not quite put his finger on. “Teach him a bit about our oath. You can spare him the nitty gritty details. I'll even illustrate for you.” This time Skuld laughed gently, likely well aware that the barista's art was not his strong suit, but he chose to do it likely just because. He erased the previous doodles he made and awaited her explanation, marker in hand.
    “Well TJ...essentially spirits like me come from a world that straddles the line between the physical and the ethereal. In the physical world, it was known as the Spirit Realm. It had it's own name but that's a lot easier to remember, and pronounce.” She giggled and TJ smiled, agreeing. “It's a really big place, filled with spirits of all elements and types. Where I come from is a bit hidden away from the others, almost like a little garden in the heart of the forest. It's a peaceful place where other beings like me lived, and on occasion travellers would visit looking to form a contract with one of us. By doing that, they could summon us into battle and we would get stronger by fighting alongside them.” Vanir drew a group of trees, seemingly giant mushrooms and a picture of Skuld bashing a priring with her broom, the words 'lvl up' above her head. Was that first one really a word? Skuld scratched her cheek bashfully. “I hadn't actually come to know Master until after I was born...his mother met with the others and requested that they have one of us prepared to partner up when he inevitably found his way into the realm on his own.” She placed her hands to her cheeks. “I was the lucky one to become the one to form an oath with Master, and we've been together since. Usually he would only be able to summon me only from there, but our bond allows me to be with him all the time, without needing to return. I do miss home a bit, but if I'm going to go back, I want to be together with Master when I do.”
    He sniffed hard and both the tissues in his nose fell into the palm of his hand. “Ain't she just the sweetest little thing you've ever met?” He ruffled her hair and she beamed. “She's been keeping me in line for years.”
    Su suddenly emerged from the crystal and Vanir looked on with a keen curiosity. “That place...where is it? How did you get there?” She asked suddenly.
    “Not even a hello? Man you're hardcore, Kid.” He chuckled with a grin.
    “I've got better things to do than waste my time with greetings,” She muttered.
    “What can I say?” He shrugged. “It sure as hell isn't here, I can tell you that. If I could go back, I would, but I can't. I told you already, my powers got sealed a long time ago. Without them I'm as good as useless when it comes to spirits.”
    Su sighed and placed a hand to her cheek after she sat down. “What do they pay you for?”
    “You know, I don't think I get paid enough either! And I'm my own boss at that! Go figure!” It seemed that Vanir was going back into his usual random attitude. Did he have a penchant for annoying certain people? TJ was glad that he did not let it show too often or he might have gotten a dose of it.
    “If you're gonna be a useless piece of trash per usual, at least tell me one thing.” The Governor's eyes were serious, piercing, yet the barista wore a teasing smile as he leaned against the counter, his cheeks in both hands, his eye likely focused on his onlooker.
    “You've got my interest. Seek and ye shall find!”
    “In that place...were their wolves? And stuff like that? Like...animals, I guess...” She muttered averting her gaze.
    “Oh yeah, definitely!” At those words there was a spark in her expression as it shifted back to the barista. “Murkwolves, Direwolves, the whole shebang. You name it, chances are you'd find them somewhere in there.” She clicked her tongue at the words and her expression clouded over slightly.
    “So what about you? You could summon other spirits couldn't you?”
    “Could. Can't.” He answered non-chalantly.
    “Teach me how.” Her tone was forceful, yet there was a hint of desperation that lingered in the air after her words had become nothing more than a breath in the room.
    “Impossible.” The short banter between the two felt tense, and TJ could not help but worry that somehow it would not end well.
    “Why?” Su clenched her fists that rested on the counter.
    “If this was another time and another place, it might be possible. But it's not. We're here now, I've got no powers, and I can't give you the means to do it.”
    She rose to her feet and bared her teeth at him, anger flared in her very expression. “Stop jerking me around and teach me how. If you knew how to do it, it's not like losing your powers would make you forget how to, would it?”
    “It's not a matter of memory. The technique is inherited from teacher to student, but it all begins at one specific point. For that to happen...well, it can't. I can't give you what you need to do that so whatever plan you had, better to hang those out to dry.” She huffed and sat down before tapping her finger impatiently.
    “Vanir, do you think it's possible that I came from that place too? If there's a place where spirits are...it might explain how I came to be, considering that I'm not really a Cerebian or an Agasura, as far as I can tell.”
    Vanir blinked. “You? Impossible. It's not like you can find Abellans by the dozen,” He chuckled as he waved off the thought. “Typical spirits come in great numbers, leaving the ones who already had contractors aside, they're usually similar in most respects. You're definitely not from there.”
    The Abellan sighed gently. No luck there either. It seems he would need to continue gathering the fragments of his memories and hope they would give him a lead on that matter, among many others.
    “So are there any other clues to an Agasura's affinity growing or will we not know until this idiot transforms again?” Su asked before pointing her thumb to him as he took a sip of his tea.
    “Red eyes, a desire to commit the sin, a stronger Agasuric energy, you know how it goes. The less obvious but still obvious ones. You'll know 'em when you see 'em.” He grinned impishly. “Are you worried?”
    “No,” The Governor answered without hesitation.
    “Ah youth at it's finest.”
    “I said no.”
    TJ chuckled as he bit into a cookie. The two's bond was somewhat reminiscent of that between Su and Amata. He felt the barista looking at him and he slowly placed the cookie down. “Something wrong?”
    “Well you seem pretty easy-going despite being in a city riddled with crime and murder concurrently. Makes me wonder. Do you have any idea what's going on right now?”
    “Well...yeah, but we left the day after it happened because the Chief said it wasn't safe here.”
    The barista arose from the counter and crossed his arms. “Well it's a good thing one of you has their head on their shoulders or you might've wound up like a bunch of headless chickens. So? What're you doing back here fully knowing that this is going on?”
    “There's a new Instance Dungeon that popped up so we went to meet Lucia about the details.” At those words he made a grimace-did the two not get along like her sisters had said? “So we went there, and the Chief and I agreed to meet back up at her apartment later.”
    Silence. Vanir's mouth slowly fell agape. “What,” Was all that he uttered. He slammed his hands down as he shouted it a second time, “What?!”
    “We...promised to meet up at her place?” TJ asked reeling away as the barista leaned over the counter to stare at him.
    “Do you know what this means?!”  He slapped the counter a couple of times, stomped his foot and waved his fist around in a circle while making whooping noises. “That's an invitation! An invitation to make beautiful music!”
    “But we already did that!” TJ shouted in response clenching his fists in some desperate attempt to stand tall in the face of the challenge.
    “Seriously? Did you have to listen to all that other Kid?”
    She face-palmed at the comment and glared at him from her peripheral. “Are you both idiots? Clearly he didn't mean it like that, and he didn't even get what you meant by that you dumbass booze hound!”
    “I might run a cafe but that doesn't make me a drunkard.” He sighed gently before he shrugged. “By now I'd have expected that much to happen at least, but given the current circumstances I'd bet ten thousand ely she's taking the first step.” He chuckled mirthlessly. “That guild master of yours has some guts. She's got enough testosterone flowing through her to make me crumble before that gaze of hers. I'm surprised a creature like you hasn't fallen to her yet. Let alone Lucia and her sisters. They didn't suck you dry did they?”
    “N-no...” He muttered as he swallowed another cookie. “She just took some blood from me with a syringe.”
    “Boo...” He muttered beneath his breath. Did he want him to be sucked of all his blood or become a Vampanelar also? “So another Instance Dungeon huh? You kids can't seem to catch a break.” He grinned. “First the Pyramids and now another appears within like two weeks of the first going.” He blinked and laid his right fist into an open palm. “Now that I think about it, I hear that you met with Salem at Elfa!”
    TJ blinked as he recalled the name. “Oh! He was that guy who came from the guild Bastion right? Said he was a representative for it, and I think a Confidant at that.”
    “Yeah I know him. He and the other kid used to live here. His guild master was my student.”
    TJ chuckled gently at the thought. “Ah your student hu-wait what?! You?”
    Vanir pursed his lips as if he was insulted by the remark. When it came to him it was hard to tell whether he was actually insulted or just playing it off extremely skillfully. “What? Do I not look like I've got what it takes to be a teacher? I'm pretty damn smart, I'll have you know.”
    “Well if it's that kind of teaching I can believe it but...well, I was thinking along the lines of combat.”
    “I taught her that too.”
    TJ coughed as he drank his tea and placed his cup down before letting out an exhausted groan and wiping the liquid that ran down the side of his mouth. “But you're a barista! Why would you know how to fight?”
    “Don't you know what retirement is Pinky? I used to be an adventurer, now I run this cafe. It's not that hard to imagine is it?” Is that what adventurers do when they get tired of adventuring? Did that mean someday TJ too, would hang up his guitar and open up a cafe somewhere? He tried to imagine himself dressed like Vanir, hanging out behind a bar with a brownie of his own serving customers, and the idea charmed him somewhat. “Anyway, in one of the mails the kid sent me after the matter was settled she vented her frustrations at the fact you were in Elfa while she was in Ramalda.” He placed a hand to his chin and rubbed it thoughtfully before he raised a finger to the air with an excited look of realization. If he had learned anything recently, it meant that eccentric people having bright ideas meant that they were bad ideas, and he would likely be caught in the center of it. He reached behind the counter and drew a small box with a silver disc and an odd circular lens at the front of it then came around the bar to stand next to the Abellan, Su looking on with a mix of curiosity and confusion. “Say cheese!” He shouted as he held the box out as far as he could reach, pointed at the two.
    “C-cheese?” TJ asked staring at it blankly. In a sudden flash of light he was blinded and Vanir had already made his way back around the other side of the bar. The Abellan rubbed his eyes gently and blinked a couple times, understanding with greater clarity just what he had done to Avaritia recently, and why she responded the way she did to it. It was a little unpleasant if he said so himself.
    “I'll wait for this to develop and send it to the kid with a letter. She's gonna throw a fit!” He laughed.
    “What is that thing? Is it a spell in a box?! Can it use the Divine Arts?!” The Abellan cried out defensively. Technology was amazing-if they could put the Divine Arts in boxes like that, anybody could utilize them. It was so powerful and unimaginable it was terrifying.
    “Divine Arts? This is for taking photos. Ever seen one before? Like a little square in a frame of a time that's already passed?” He scratched his cheek for a moment before he recalled seeing such things in Peorth's home. He nodded rapidly and the barista nodded sagely in turn. “This is the thing that does just that. Captures memories, and those very things that are so fleeting will still remain after time changes all of it.” He grinned as he put it away. “So how about we get down to business hm?”
    “Business?” The Abellan asked. Having a conversation with Vanir was like discovering the world all over again. There were so many things that he knew that TJ did not, and he felt as if he followed him he could discover the mysteries of the world that he did not understand. Either that, or he would dive deeper into newer mysteries while still seeking out answers to others. During the talk he had not realized but all of the cookies on his plate were gone and he looked somewhat dispirited at the realization, but caught a glimpse of some tea that remained in his cup and he felt a bit better at the sight.
    The barista nodded solemnly. “Let's talk Elias.” The usual comedic voice he had seemed to vanish in a moment and the single eyes that occasionally peered from beneath his hat turned serious and sharp. “There's been some odd fellows around here recently. They're hard to miss, really, but amidst all the panic they stand out like sore-thumbs, remaining calm despite what's happening. Fanatics, is what we call them.”
    “And these fanatics are...?”
    “Worshippers of Asmodeus and the Agasura beneath him of course.”
    TJ placed down his teacup and grit his teeth. “Worshippers? What do they do and why Asmodeus?”
    The barista placed his arms upon the counter, overlapping each other as he leaned in a bit closer. “You gotta see things from both sides of the spectrum, Pinky. You might see what you're doing as the best possible outcome for everyone, but that doesn't mean everyone agrees with your way of doing things. It's the same with the Cerebians. Humans, Agasura, it doesn't matter, not all of them will like what you're doing and they'll go out of their way to make sure you fail. The fanatics? They've been waiting for this opportunity. They know things-a lot of things, and now that that's knowledge is finally gonna serve its purpose, the gears of fate will turn.” He grinned devilishly. “Take a look around the city and you'll find some shady folk hanging around those recent murder locations every now and again, if you wait long enough. Better not to do it alone though, or they might take you and sacrifice you next.” He shrugged. “Any sign of the Agasura, of a possibility that Asmodeus might be revived is a reason for celebration for them. Since this started more of them have been turning up in this city, and in due time there'll be more all over Jienda.”
    “What do you think we should do?” TJ asked, swallowing the question hard himself. If they were in the city, it meant they were Humans. If they found him, without a doubt they would take him away, and the last thing he wanted to be was a sacrifice to Asmodeus. His sibling was already adamant on having him join her and make sacrifices so that Asmodeus would be revived. Was it possible that it was the fanatics murdering people and creating those strange markings?
    “You? Nothing!” The Abellan blinked before he tilted his head. “The kids are already on the matter. Reina and Salem, and some others. Couple years ago they started a little alliance they called the Dark Moon Counter Allegiance, bringing some groups together to seek out and stomp out any camps they set up across Jienda and prevent a repeat of Xenym or Hanamah.”
    TJ looked alarmed and Su's eyes darted to him. “You knew about that?” She asked, her gaze turning from boredom to apprehension.
    “Of course I knew about them. I've been here since before then!”
    She grit her teeth. “So what's this Reina's deal? The hell does she want with the Dark Moon and all  the other assholes they've got accompanying them?”
    “Used to live in Xenym, before it got buried in sand by the previous Governor of Earth.” Su's mouth fell agape. Her lips moved but no words, came out, her eyes shifting in and out of focus as she tried to come face-to-face with the words. TJ shifted his gaze between his companion seemingly have a severe crisis and the barista who pressed on in spite of the fact. “Skuld come in here would ya'?” He asked. The brownie came rushing into the room and stopped at his side before giving Su a startled glance. “Would you get some paper and a pencil and sketch Reina and Alessa for these two? Thanks!” She nodded solemnly before rushing past the counter and up the stairs, the sound of her moccasins against the wood steadily fading away.
    Su tightly closed her eyes and slapped her cheeks, now red from the sheer force of her hands before she turned her eyes to TJ. “We have to go there. Now. I don't give a damn about that Sinner! I need to do this!”
    “Hold it right there.” Vanir said and she glared at him viciously, the fury evident in her eyes and her teeth grit, she looked as if she was ready to tear him limb from limb for the comment. “What do you plan to do when you go there?”
    “Figure out what the hell the old Governor did and why. Also...who.” She answered still glowering.
    He raised his eyebrows. “No love for dear old dad huh?”
    “He's not my dad. I had one, and whoever that Governor was, sure as hell wasn't him! If he was maybe I wouldn't have grown up in the damn forest.”
    “That's love, my dear.” He grinned and Su growled at him. “Seriously though, what do you plan to do? You don't think you can move enough sand to cover a whole Haven do you? Can you even control sand?”
    She opened her mouth to respond but paused. “Like hell I need that. I'll figure something out.”
    The barista's lips curled into a mischievous smile. “Do you think you have time for that, though? There's an Instance Dungeon with your name on it. The Agasura King is making way for his grand entrance and you're too busy sticking your nose into other, less important matters. What's most important to you, Succubas?”
    She slammed her hands down and rose to her feet. “What the hell do you know about any of it? If we could all just sit back and serve coffee like you did things sure as hell would've been a lot simpler, wouldn't it? But you don't know what it's like to have been through what I've been!”
    His smiled widened, but the humour in it was completely gone. “I don't, but can you imagine what I've seen?”
    At those words Su seemed to almost shrink away. Her expression retained its ferocity but there was something about him that just seemed to dwarf her-his shadow crept up the wall as the sunset had painted the sky tones of crimson and orange and ushered in the night. He closed his eye and grinned. “Patience kiddo. That's the ticket! Now sit down and have a cookie or two why don't you?” He turned his head back to face the Abellan and TJ almost jumped at the sight. The vision he once saw of the eccentric barista he thought he knew paled and shattered, and that of the second Tyrant of the Maelstrom filled his thoughts. His palms grew sweaty and fear washed over him like a tidal wave, but he focused all his courage and remained still, his eyes trained on the single green glint that peered at him beneath the hat. “So as I was saying before, Reina-I call her Dancer, and her little buddies go around and chase out those little threats scattered across the continent, including those fanatics. Now you're probably thinking, 'What's all of this got to do with me although he already said, I don't want you to do anything?' huh?” TJ was hard-pressed not to raise an eyebrow at the spot-on suggestion. “I want you to do me a little favour.”
    “What's that?” The Abellan asked monotone, in a desperate attempt to mask his apprehension and even more so his own fear, his fists tightly clenched against his quivering legs.
    Right on time Skuld came down the stairs and handed a sheet to the barista before he gave it an approving nod. “Spot on as always!” He placed the sheet before TJ and he appraised it. There was a sketch of two people as requested, just the top-half of their torsos upwards. The first was a young lady with her hait cut short in a bob-cut, wearing what seemed to be a sort of coat and a cloth around her eyes. She wore a bright smile, and though he could not see her eyes he felt like they would too, her expression speaking volumes through the sketch; next to her was a girl that looked roughly around the same age with long semi-messy semi-straight hair that covered one of her eyes, the other shuttered-she wore a mischievous smile and what looked like a striped t-shirt. The sketch had caught all of the subtle nuances, from the contours of their faces to their ears and the little details in their hair. “Chances are if you find one, you'll find the other nearby. The kid on the left is Reina. Her coat is unmistakeable, and she's probably the only adventurer in all of Jienda that runs around with two katanas strapped to her waist. Her friend is Alessa, an archer and one of the most capable people in her guild.” He grinned. “Better watch out for her, 'cause if she sees you she's gonna take you with her, no questions asked.”
    TJ knit his eyebrows at the comment-despite the tension Vanir still joked and it confused him even more. Just who and what was Vanir exactly? Despite being a Confidant he was one of the most terrifying people he had come to know throughout his journey. Before he brought about the barista's anger he decided to ask an innocuous question, “Katanas? That's an odd weapon...is she a Warlord?”
    He shook his head. “They don't use them. Can't. The daring little thing is aiming to found the Swordsman class to give it skills and make it available to everyone.”
    “We can do that?!”
    “Yeah. Why not? You've seen the Engis right?” TJ knew a Meister. For a moment he felt rather pleased that he actually knew something Vanir was aware of too. “New classes aren't unlikely, but they're hard to create, and of course you'd have to jump through hoops to get people on the bandwagon, and people willing to sponsor the creation of that vision. Anyway, back on topic! Sooner or later those kids are gonna have to have another run-in with the Dark Moon, so I want you to go along with them.” He sighed and smiled. “It'd be pretty problematic if they got themselves killed in that fight so it'd be great if they had the Abellan and his capable companion backing them up.”
    Su looked at him from the corner of her eye before she placed her left hand down on the counter. “Wait.” Was she saying that to TJ or to the barista? He had a question, but her response caught his attention too. “You're saying they fought them before?”
    “They did. I was there! Fought some mountain of a man with a nasty cut right here and escaped.” He gestured at his face and drew a line to drive the point home. “If they're gonna have to fight him a second time I'd rather them have a good chance of winning the fight. Last time wasn't pretty.”
    “Him? He's already dead.” She muttered.
    The barista gave her an appraising gaze. “Seriously? If he died of old age he was pretty damn agile and strong for a freakin' old man. Nearly kicked my ass up and down that room.”
    “He didn't die, he was killed obviously. Don't be stupid.” She peered at him through her peripherals. “So what do they want from the Dark Moon now? I doubt they're gonna do much in the state they're in.”
    The barista sighed. “It's not exactly the Dark Moon itself that's the big concern. Mostly. It's the Dark Moon Princess herself that's a problem. You know her purpose, don't you?” Su shrugged and TJ scratched his cheek. “She's their key player in reviving Asmodeus through their means.” The two looked at him curiously. “Pop quiz!” He said excitedly. “What's the Moon of the Sixteenth Day?”
    Su tapped her finger against the counter. “Where the Dark Moon Princess is?” She answered and he waved his hand in a gesture that signalled her to continue, the sky turning a deeper shade of red. “An...Instance Dungeon?”
    “And what are the Instance Dungeons know for?”
    Su shrugged and TJ decided to take a crack at it. “Mana? Flow?”
    “Correct you are! What else?”
    “The Guardians I guess?” He suggested becoming more confused by the moment.
    “And what do the Guardians do when defeated?”
    He wrinkled his nose. They die, pretty much. Like Pandora or Avaritia. He paused at the thought. Avaritia could not return, and neither would her Instance Dungeon, but the Gothic Room still stood tall after Pandora had fallen by their hands, and she had said that Asmodeus had given her immortality-that no matter how many times they defeated her, she would return. “They come back...”
    “Exactly!” Vanir said pointing at the Abellan and startling him. “Now picture this-Asmodeus needs humans sacrificed to him to return, right? Actually that could be wrong, that's just a really educated guess, but let's say that's the case. Imagine if you had a human that never died, that could be sacrificed time and again and return despite being killed? That knows no age, no death, and has all of eternity within that Instance?”
    “So they just plan on sacrificing the Dark Moon Princess? Doesn't that mean it's impossible to prevent Asmodeus from reviving?!” TJ shouted both out of desperation and frustration. If a battle was inevitable, then so be it-he would have to do all that he could in preparation for it, but did that mean he was not needed in order to do it? Why did Avaritia suggest that he be the one, then?
    “It's not impossible, no. Here's a little tip. The Cerebians are masters of the art of sealing. If they know how to create it, they also know how to destroy it. If there's no Instance Dungeon, the Dark Moon Princess is just like any other human.”
    “So we have to find a way to destroy the Instance Dungeon then...but if they can just sacrifice her, why haven't they done it already? Why wait?”
    “There's a very specific day they're waiting for, hence the name of the Instance.” The Moon of the Sixteenth Day. But what was the Sixteenth Day-or rather, when? “Jumping right into there would be a mistake, though. So the kids aren't gonna go in just yet, but I expect it to be sometime within the year, before that day comes. When they start preparations, I'll let you know, so try to keep your schedule free.” He grinned impishly. “I'd recommend that you expand your farm and start saving up for a double bed kid. Don't have too much fun with Queenie behind closed doors 'til then.”
    “Are you still on that?” Su asked exasperated. “Give it up already. It's them. If you think that's gonna happen anytime soon you're wrong, and dumb.”
    “Jealous are we?” He asked in a sing-song voice.
    “Like hell I'd be jealous of those idiots.”
    “So it's jealousy. I'm glad we had this discussion.” He grinned with satisfaction and Su muttered some obscenities under her breath, mainly about the barista.
    As night began to settle in TJ looked at the sky uneasily, and his mind was filled with the guild master. He had promised to be back to her before it got dark, but the sun had already disappeared over the horizon. Was she worried about him? He turned back to the barista who smiled at him, in both an inviting and challenging sense. The look seemed to ask, “Well?  What're you waiting for? Go!”
    “Vanir, we should be going. It's late, and you know what's been going on lately. The cities aren't safe as it is.” TJ muttered sullenly, the thoughts of being abducted in the night danced in his head. He casted the thoughts away and told himself he would overcome those fears, and he would return to his guild master's side victorious, be it now, or in the future. No matter the means, if Asmodeus would return TJ would be there to stop him.
    “Have a safe trip kids.” He said as he waved.
    Su gave him one last glance over her shoulder before she turned into a series of spheres and returned to the crystal, the sound of two bells ringing as he exited the shop were the last words traded between them.

    TJ made his way cautiously and quickly through the streets of Elias. He made sure to look twice before crossing streets and glanced into every alleyway as he walked through the silent streets. At the occasional curb he would find a guard or two stationed, eyeing him cautiously as he passed, waiting until he was out of sight before they turned their heads back to their original positions. The once bustling Elias, likely even at night now a ghost town permanently on guard in case of suspicious peoples, unawares that the city had them hidden in every nook and cranny, just waiting for their opportunity to strike when one had their back turned. One wrong step and he could easily be next in line. The sound of his boots against the concrete and his ragged breaths made him even more uneasy. He tried to follow the main streets as best as he could, the artificial sunbeams from lampposts served as his only source of light in the night, those of the familiar stores in the market of Elias were all shut off, and were replaced with guards standing outside of them, their eyes following any adventurers that were careless enough to step into their sight. He left the market and made his way into the district where Peorth's apartment was located, travelling here and there past a series of similar looking buildings and sooner rather than later found himself lost. He retraced his steps back to where he had begun and recalled the path that Kooh had shown him the first time, stopping at a building that seemed to be the same as that he had approached before and entered. He walked towards the next pair of doors and attempted to open them, but to no avail. He had no key, and Kooh was not there to open it. What would he do? Could he get in touch with Peorth? He tapped his guild badge twice and decided to try requesting her.

    [Guild]TJ: Chief? Are you there?
    [Guild]RoboCurt: Ah! Good evening TJ. Are you trying to get in touch with the guild master?
    [Guild]TJ: Good evening Robo, and yeah, but I dunno if she has her badge on.
    [Guild]RoboCurt: That is quite the predicament, isn't it? It would be wise to get her to teach you about the whisper function in such times. It's no problem, I'll contact her for you.
    [Guild]TJ: Thanks!
    [Guild]Peorth: Did you request my aid TJ?
    He felt a bit of relief at hearing the guild master's voice. Her calming tones made his heart feel a hundred times lighter after the evening's events. His lips curled into a small smile.
    [Guild]TJ: Well yeah...I dunno how to get into your building. Last time I came with Kooh, but since she's not here this time I'm stuck down here.
    [Guild]Peorth: Is that so? Please wait a moment, I will be right down to assist you.
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Tue May 12, 2015 5:41 pm

    Pages 198-204:
    It had not been long before the silver doors of the moving box opened and Peorth emerged from them to take a few steps and stop, before running over and opening the doors to let the Abellan in.
    He laughed sheepishly as he rubbed the back of his neck, “Haha thanks Chief.” He looked into her eyes and gazed at a shocked expression that was unlike her.
    “TJ are you alright? You look like you have seen a ghost,” The guild master said. He could say the same for her. Was his appearance that upsetting? She took him by the hand and immediately brought him towards the box. “Let us go quickly. You must tell me what happened once we return.”
    She lead him back to her home and closed the door after him before inviting him in. At the end of the hallway there was a pair of rucksacks neatly placed next to each other, seemingly filled to the brim with a variety of goods an adventurer could utilize, but also all of it neatly packed in. Peorth returned to the stove and returned to what she had started preparing. At the small table fit for maybe four or so people, there were a couple of plates and other utensils set out courtesy of the guild master, a single candle rested at the center of the table. She seemed to have her hands awfully full, so he approached awkwardly.
    “Can I help you out Chief?” He asked.
    She turned to him and smiled kindly. “I appreciate the offer TJ, but tonight you are my guest. Please, take your time freshening up and have a seat. Dinner will be ready shortly.”
    After getting a glimpse of himself in the reflection of the doors, maybe she was onto something. He looked like he had seen death itself, and even he was unsettled by his mirror image. He rose from the chair and made his way to the bathroom before closing the door behind him and flicking the light on. The lightbulbs upon the mirrors flickered to life and gave him a view of it in its entirety. A couple of towels hung on a rack while another pair rested on one that was stuck within the wall. All sorts of toiletries and makeup were neatly lined upon a stand that stood above and around the toilet, and toothpaste, brushes and glasses cleaner circle the sink. The Abellan stood in the center of it all, his image stared back at him looking more miserable than he really felt within and it startled him. His eyes were bloodshot and beads of sweat still ran down his cheeks and arms. Did his breathing sound that heavy?
    “God I'm a mess...” He sighed before shaking his head. He turned on the water and lowered his head into the sink to splash his face with water a couple times. The cool liquid felt good against his face after his journey through the streets and he shuddered at the thought. How long would things remain that way? He felt a bit thankful that a new dungeon appeared, just to get away from the commotion within the city for a while, but there was a bigger problem that ailed him. Once again, he would have to face off with a Sinner. They had only fought one of the seven, and she had given his entire party a world of trouble. There were six left, Choen Palm and Asmodeus himself. The water continued to swirl down the drain and TJ clenched his fists as he grit his teeth, brows furrowed and eyes closed. He was not strong enough-not yet, both inside and out. How could he have faltered in the last fight and put everyone in danger? Were the battles in Elfa and Kimara Research not enough to make him realize how dangerous even a moment of hesitation could be? The thought of seeing another of his allies die before him was overwhelming, and he could not bear to let such an event come to pass so long as he could prevent it.
    ...But what if I fail?
    He opened his eyes and shook his head before slapping himself across the right cheek. He was being ridiculous. Those very thoughts, those moments are what created his weakness. He had to be stronger than that-he was stronger than that, and with his allies by his side he could be so much more than he was now. As Peorth had said, they need to have faith in her, and Su had once said something akin to it also. Just as she would protect him, he would do the same for all of them. He took a deep breath and faced himself, a fire was lit within his deep brown eyes, and he felt he had grown just a bit. His confidence still had so much room to grow, but for now he overcame his weakness. He shut the tap off as a gentle chuckle escaped his lips. Facing the Sinner was one problem of two-he was having dinner alone with his guild master, and he was still as of yet to prepare himself for that challenge. He hoped he would not do anything too embarrassing in her presence, but he knew without a doubt that was bound to happen. At the very least, he dedicated himself to not scaring her any further with his shaken appearance. He smiled at himself and gave an approving nod. These times, he needed to cherish them. There was no time to be sulking, and even less so to let that hold him back from enjoying the time he had.
    He emerged from the washroom feeling rather refreshed and made his way back to the table before taking a seat as Peorth emerged from the kitchen with a saucepan held in hands protected by oven mitts. She wore a simple white apron over her dress this time around. The guild master carefully placed the sauce pan down before opening it up and serving the meal on both plates, the scent wafted through the room.
    “Smells good!” TJ said excitedly after smelling it himself.
    “I am glad. It is my first time preparing this meal so I hope that it is to your liking. My...cooking repertoire is a bit lacking at the moment, so I have been experimenting somewhat with some new meal ideas that I have learned during my travels.” She responded. Her face seemed rather flushed, potentially from the steam that arose from the pan. After she had placed some in both plates she brought the pan back to the stove and poured a fizzy orange liquid into both of their cups before sitting down and placing her hands together to mutter a few words.
    TJ scooped a bit of food into his fork and took a bite, smiling with delight at the taste. It was as good as it looked, and he found himself impressed but not surprised that her food was delicious. She was a girl who had all the reason to be but lacked the confidence in all of her talents. He stole a glance at her as she silently ate with her lips curled into a tiny smile. For a couple moments his gaze remained fixated on her and he quickly shifted it back to his food as he spun his fork around, thinking of how he could strike up a conversation with her.
    “Hey Chief...” He began lifting his eyes to meet hers, and she doing the same, raising an eyebrow to acknowledge that he had her attention. “Could you tell me a bit about the time before I had lost my memories?” He had not forgotten that she had mentioned some of her own memories were missing also, but perhaps a few still remained of their time together, leaving aside that which he had become familiar with through Memorius Sanctum.
    She nodded. “It has been some time since, but once upon a time while my Keruz and you were still with me, we had ventured through the Temple of Pluton and into the Lair of the Evil Dragon. My, it was still very early on in our journey then, and the first of the Instance Dungeons we had challenged.” She smiled gently and nostalgically upon him. “You were so young then, you were so full of vim and curiosity the eldest of us had a hard time keeping up with you. Your fascination with what waited within, from the traps to the Agasura had everyone running about but as we went along you had it all marked down with illustrations at the promise of helping other adventurers starting out somewhere.” She closed her eyes gently. “That kindness of yours is something that has not been affected after all of these years. Perhaps that is one of the reasons that you were chosen as the Abellan-because within you is a love that knows no bounds. Perhaps it is due to your infinite bravery or untapped potential.” She laughed gently. “Just promise me that should we come across another dragon, that you will not attempt to ride it, hmm? I would prefer seeing you on the ground where the risk of falling into magma is non-existent.”
    He blinked at her final words and chuckled sheepishly as he rubbed the back of his neck. It was a good thing that she had not come along for the fight against Avaritia or she would be terrified for his safety. Though there was something in her reminiscing that captured his attention-her mention of his curiosity and their marking the sights with illustrations and such things...were rather reminiscent of his Monster Manual. “Chief, did I have that Monster Manual during that time?” If he recalled correctly, Invoke was one of the creatures seen within it. Could the two be related?
    She nodded gently. “I was the one who illustrated it.”
    “Y-you did?!” She nodded again.
    “In a sense, it was a group effort. Our whole party made contributions to the book, from their own suggestions of text to the occasional extra drawings scattered within the book. There were still many things that we were yet to see during our journey due to our separation but...that is the past. You are here now. We are reunited again, and I could not ask God Ah for any more than this. You give the Cerebians and Humanity hope, but you are also my dear companion of the past, present, and future.”
    Her words were kind, and they warmed his heart from the inside out, but there was also a certain loneliness within them that perhaps was something of his own speculation. He was but one of her many dear companions, the others lost in the battle of the City of Iron, and Straw Hat to his own hands. Was it because he was the Abellan that Peorth could look past all of his misdeeds? Was it because he was necessary? He had thought about how holding grudges towards himself for what had happened in the past could lead to a despair that would be difficult to escape on his own, but even so would changing the future really suffice? He still found himself hard-pressed to forgive the things out of his control, and even more so that were within it. What about the Sinners? Perhaps Peorth and the other Cerebians believed that the only way to defeat Asmodeus would be to integrate the Seven Sinners, but what if they could fight side by side against their shared...father? He continued to eat absent-mindlessly, his eyes trained on his food and his body moving as if it was in someone else's hands, the food seemingly disappearing before him but each bite having less and less effect on him. He wondered what Avaritia meant when she had said it was as God Ah intended. Why would God Ah want the destruction of the world? If the Cerebians believed in him, or whatever it was, why would they stray away from what he actually wanted them to do? That matter aside, what about Adonis? If the others were not considered to be Asmodeus' children, and Adonis was, where did TJ come into the picture? If Asmodeus really was his parent, for what reason did he lack any and all memories of him and the other Sinners? Just who was Adonis, and moreover who was TJ?
    “TJ,” Peorth's voice snapped him out of his reverie and he glimpsed at an empty plate before raising his head to look at the guild master, her eyebrows knit and her eyes shining in the flickering candlelight between them. Most of it had burned away and he got a clear view of her face on the other side of the table from him. “You seem to be rather upset. Will you speak to me about it?”
    “D-do I?” He smiled and laughed in spite of the truth in her statement. “It's nothing, don't worry! Just needed to mull a few things over, but it's nothing too important or worrisome.”
    “TJ, you have always had a very telling way of when you were concerned with matters. You would knit your eyebrows, stare at your shoes or suddenly become rather quiet. Other times you would clench your fist or hold one of your arms behind your back.” She blinked slowly, her gaze easing up. “Despite our separation, despite the lost memories, there are still many things I remember about you. I do not want you to fear speaking to me, as at times I may come off as intimidating to some, but I assure you I can manage any and all burdens or concerns you may have. Please, feel free to confide in me. You need not do so now but I do have a request, if you feel that you would like to deepen our bond.”
    He swallowed hard, the tone she took was serious, not as she was on a regular basis, but one that had shown her concern and conviction to facing whatever life would throw her way. “What's that Chief?”
    There were a couple of moments of silence. The ticking of the clock behind the Abellan sounded in a perfectly steady rhythm-the flames licked the air above them and their light was reflected in the guild master's eyes. “I would like you to spend the night together with me.”
    The expression she wore was serious-it was not unusual for her to joke with that very same one, but despite that fact he still could not help but think that she was not kidding around this time. “T-that's umm...a little...well, Kooh's not rubbing off on you, is she?” It seemed like it would be something that the Governor suggested she do. But Peorth usually had reservations about her cousin's ridiculous ideas, to a certain degree.
    The queen shook her head solemnly. “This is not Kooh's suggestion. It is something I have given thought and decided of my own accord. You need not agree to this, TJ, because it is not a necessary action you need take, nor an order from guild master to subordinate. It is a request from me to you.”
    Her expression did not falter, and despite his own reservations on the matter he had a hard time talking himself out of it. His gaze remained focused on her, and his on him, and there was something in the look that she gave him that had spoken to him-he would believe in her, in her way of doing things. He trusted her whole-heartedly, both with his body and his heart. If it was her, she would know what to do. She could calm the storms within, and set a path for him to follow ever onwards in his destiny. “I'll do it Chief.” He lowered his face slightly in embarrassment, as he brought his eyes up slightly. “We just need to sleep together tonight right? I can do that.” He tried to make his voice sound a bit deeper in fears of it squeaking.
    “I appreciate your cooperation TJ. Shall I prepare a bath for you while I clean up?” She asked as she rose to her feet.
    “A-yeah please!” He answered automatically. Just getting out those words was tough, and his face felt hot as she approached to claim the plate and cup and bring them into the kitchen-her stalwart figure coming and going as if her suggestion was the most natural thing in the world.
    She returned shortly after and offered him a nod. “The bath is ready. Please, take your time. There are spare pajamas inside also that you can wear once you are finished.”
    “T-thanks Chief.” He arose to his feet and she nodded once more before entering the kitchen once again to clean up. He made his way back to the bathroom and closed the door behind him before he undressed and set his clothes down in a pile. He attempted to fold them, but despite his best efforts they still looked messy. He walked over to the bathtub and placed a foot in, instinctively pulling away out of fear of the heat, but to his surprise the temperature was just right. He eased himself into the bathtub and let out a sigh of relief naturally before he leaned back and got comfortable-the scent of lavender filled the entire room and put his mind at ease.
    His thoughts wandered back to the guild master wearing her nightgown and his face felt hot. Was she going to wear that again tonight? If so he would not know where to look-he tried to cast away the thoughts and think on something else. It was a little on the unusual side. Was it normal for people to sleep together like that? She and Kooh had done it before, so maybe not, but TJ did not sleep in the same bed as Curt and Robo, though the two often woke up in the same bed, each ending up in the other's on differing mornings. He chuckled gently at the memory. The reason Peorth had suggested this was to deepen their bond. If two people had a deep bond, what did that mean? Would they fight better together? They would certainly be better friends. Did sleeping together come before dating? When does the kissing come in?! He submerged the bottom half of his head in the water and began to blow bubbles. Where was Verun when he needed him? He should have given him a more detailed explanation on those things. What if he was a bad kisser? The Abellan knit his eyebrows. What was he going to do if that moment came? He placed his fingers to his lips as he recalled the event with Freya-it happened so quickly and suddenly he did not know what to think of it. Was that the proper way to do it? His thoughts wandered to the idea of Peorth being in her shoes and he slammed his face into the water before screaming into it to let out all the built-up tension. He raised his head and gasped for air before letting out a long sigh. He slapped his cheeks twice and exhaled gently as a series of ripples flowed out from around him and eventually came to a halt.
    After taking a bit more time in the bath he climbed out and put on the clothes that were offered to him-underwear and all. For a moment he considered questioning which of the two wore boxer shorts, or simply owned them but he deemed the thought something beyond him and left it as is. He gathered his clothes up and made his way out, making his way to his own bag and storing them within for the time being. Following that he went to the entrance of the kitchen and peered inside as she washed the dishes and hummed gently. The sound of her voice enchanted him once more and made him reminisce of the two learning Velvet's song together.
    He did not want to interrupt her but decided better to let her know than wait. “Chief, I'm finished.” He made sure to empty the bathtub.
    “Is that so?” She looked over her shoulder, her hands covered in dish soap and her gaze remained trained on him for a couple moments before they went back to the dishes. “Take your time to rest. I shall join you briefly.”
    He closed his eyes as he walked away and looked down at his hands, hidden within the sky blue sleeves of the pajamas he was lent. A series of eggs and chicks hatching from them adorned the entirety of it, and due to his small stature the outfit was surprisingly large. He approached a room at the far end of the hall, still visible with the light coming from the kitchen and stopped at the door. A pair of wings were overlapped with the guild master's name in large colourful letters, and though he found himself thankful for it he was a little surprised by it. It did not quite seem fitting for something the usually serious guild master would have, but it was likely a sign that he had a lot to learn, or recall about her. He flicked the light on and could not resist the urge to glance around the room. The walls were turquoise and there were a group of dressers next to him and on one side of the wall, a wardrobe built into the western wall. Beside the bed were a pair of nightstands, one had a picture on it and the other a series of things, ranging from makeup to supplies related to her glasses. Upon one of the dressers was a rather large prisping doll, and another a king goblin. TJ cringed at the goblin but chuckled gently afterwards. There was a clock on the wall that ticked gently, shaped like a cat with a tail that wagged and eyes that shifted to and fro also. He approached the bed and sat in it, the blankets red with white frilly lace, and the bed itself rather soft. Extremely so! TJ flopped against it and bounced slightly. There was a glint in his eyes. The next thing he knew he was bouncing on the bed, going here and there and having the time of his life before he realized what he was doing and lay flat against it. He took a deep breath and sighed gently. It had the guild master's scent, and just like the lavender in the bath it was calming. He felt as if she was already there by his side-that she was all around him, his cheek softly pressed against the comforter. He crawled under the sheets and took his place on the left side of the bed and looked up at the ceiling.
    It was not long before Peorth stepped into the room wearing plain violet pajamas with her hair in a bun.
    “Are you still awake TJ?” She asked, and his head-half hidden under the sheets peered at her and nodded. “I am going to turn out the lights now.” His heart was pounding. He watched as her figure reached out to it and flicked it off, submerging them in darkness and really having him come to realize that it was just the two. The sound of her approaching footsteps against the carpet and then her shuffling into the bed made his heart race. “How do you feel now? Any better?”
    He felt worse for several different reasons. He thought that his heart would leap out of his chest at the event he was experiencing at that very moment, but he would not tell her that. She was not bothered in the slightest by the event, so he decided that he would brave through it. “Yep. I'm great!” His voice squeaked. He wanted to cover his face in embarrassment then and there, but he opted out for tightly gripping the blanket, shutting his eyes and pursing his lips in frustration.
    Suddenly, he felt Peorth's hands wrap around his head and she pulled him close to her, the queen's chin resting against his head and the top of his pressed to her throat, his face gently rested against her chest and the sound of her heart beating steadily followed shortly after. “TJ, tonight I shall tell you a secret that very few of my friends know about me, so let it remain a secret between us yes?” He felt her heartbeat speed up and he nodded ever so slightly, the warmth of her body spreading to him. “When I was just a child, I had feared lightning like nothing else. On stormy nights I would flee my bed and take refuge in my parents' where they would hold me and comfort me just like this. My mother would hum a lullaby to me so that I would sleep peacefully amidst the sounds of the storm until I fell asleep, and we would look out at the rainbow when the sun had risen the following morning.” She chuckled ever so gently. “They had taught me that it is not something that is meant to be feared, after all, it is a sign of the bonds between the heavens and the earth. It shows that the gods above are watching us, and that on the darkest nights they will light our way and give us the courage we need to push onward. You are not alone, TJ. You must realize this too. It is okay to be afraid, to have doubts, to be unsure in the face of new challenges-and when you are, I will be there. I will hold you just like this, and I will remind you as many times as you need that I will be here. I will not die, nor will I abandon you, and should you lose your memories, I will find you and walk by your side again. Whatever we may face, let us do it together.”
    He clasped his hands together as he closed his eyes, the feeling of her body pressed against his was comforting, and familiar. Where did that sensation come from, and why did it feel nostalgic to him? Had someone held him in the past just as she did now? In another sense, just by what she had told him it had felt as if he shared in her memory, her experiences, the life that she lived. “Thanks Chief. So long as I can find a clue, anything that will lead me back to you I'll traverse the continent as many times as it takes so we can be reunited. With you by my side...I think I could do anything, be anything...I can be brave. If even just a little bit.”
    “I could not ask anything more of you than that.”
    The two lay in silence for a while, and before he knew it he had fallen asleep, the sound of Peorth's gentle humming followed him into the world of dreams-the one that he had peaceful, of the young boy and girl from many a years ago.

    The next morning TJ woke up and quickly came to the realization that he was in the guild master's bed. Despite the two sleeping together in it the night before he could not help but feel somewhat flustered at the thought. The gentle ticking entranced him for a spell as his body and mind were waking from their befuddled state. He made his way from the bed, taking a moment to make it up before heading towards the bathroom. Once he had finished his business there he headed towards the living room and kitchen, the entire apartment alight with sunbeams that streamed in from the windows there and from Peorth's room. It was the first time he had seen the place during the day, and it felt even more homely-the pictures against the wall reflected the light but also bathed in it, making the smiling faces ever brighter. As he approached he caught a glimpse of the guild master preparing breakfast-she held a spatula in hand and seemed frozen in place, her cheeks flushed and her eyes staring down at the pan blankly.
    TJ knit his eyebrows. Was she alright? He had never seen her looking like that, and it was rather concerning, to say the least. It would probably be for the best if he checked in with her. “Good morning Chief,” He began and she turned to him with a start, eyes wide and her face flushing a deeper shade of red. In those moments he noticed how dishevelled her hair was, but her reaction was even more of a shock to him.
    “T-TJ...good morning. You startled me,” She said as she sighed gently.
    “Are you alright?” He knit his eyebrows with concern and she blinked.
    She opened her mouth to speak, her expression looked surprised for a moment before she decided against it and patted her hair down gently, but her cowlick proved to be the more persistent of the two. “Ah...” She held down her hair as she turned her eyes to her slippers and frowned slightly, her cheeks flushed further. “Please excuse me for a moment.” She slipped past him and handed him the spatula as she did before she disappeared around the corner.
    He watched her go before he turned back to the pan and saw an omelet simmering within it. He did not know much about them, but he figured that if he flipped it every now and again so that it did not burn, it would suffice. As he did just that, he thought of the guild master in those moments and chuckled gently. The look in her eyes was certainly new-her usual piercing stare was replaced with that of a small animal's. At first it was rather unsettling, but now that the fact that she was alright came to light he felt a lot move relieved, and a little lucky.
    The guild master returned shortly after, properly dressed and with her usual expression, albeit rather disconcerted after the sight. She closed her eyes gently, her hands clasped together as she muttered, “Forgive me for showing such an unsightly side of me. It was...irresponsible, to say the least.”
    TJ chuckled gently but hid his mouth with one hand. “What're you apologizing for Chief? If anyone should be, it should be me, but if you're worried about it still don't be. You don't have to be at your best all the time.” He grinned. “You should see me when I'm fresh out of bed. You'd be in for a real surprise.”
    She smiled slightly. “It would be a sight, I am sure, but seeing some of your expressions when you're fully awake is much more enjoyable I believe.” His face flushed and he rubbed his neck sheepishly as she approached and took his hand and the spatula within it moments after. “Just like that.”
    He pursed his lips but he was a little happy. Perhaps their bond had grown just a bit after the previous night? He felt a greater joy at the thought. “Lemme' lend you a hand Chief.”

    After the two ate breakfast TJ donned his disguise while Peorth arranged a meeting with the others.

    [Guild]Peorth: Just to be clear I will brief you all once more. TJ and I shall go to the GMA Elias Branch to meet with Curt, and from there we will go to Elfa. Kooh, Amata, you will make any final preparations that need be accomplished and meet us there briefly. From there, we will go through the Captain Bong's Tunnel, to Captain Bong's Land and then finally to the Cookie Garden. Following that we will seek out the Instance Dungeon and begin the mission. Please relay this information to Amata, Kooh.
    [Guild]Kooh: I'm on it Princess!
    [Guild]Curt: You sure you wanna take me along for this Peorth? Robo would make for a better front line than I would.
    [Guild]Peorth: I am positive in my decision. I shall be the vanguard alongside you. That matter aside, I have something else that I would like for RoboCurt to do.
    [Guild]Curt: You're the boss. So how long until you and TJ get there?
    [Guild]Peorth: Perhaps you should give us ten to fifteen minutes. I am going to visit Ignate to have this authorized as an official quest. Following that we will make our way to the branch without delay.
    [Guild]Curt: Rep is important, but are you sure you wanna risk that? If any people catch word of that they might head there too.
    [Guild]Peorth: It is risky, yes, but it is for more than just reputation to our guild. Completing the quest will assist all of you in attaining a higher rank, but knowing that there are other Instance Dungeons appearing will allow not only Elias and King Hejong, but the other cities to prepare themselves for subsequent appearances, without disturbing the peace. I will do whatever I must to have the matter handled discreetly.
    [Guild]Kooh: Will you really be okay without me Princess?
    [Guild]Peorth: Your concern is appreciated, but I assure you I am well prepared for whatever may come. As guild master, I must set an example for my guild.

    TJ emerged, fully disguised and threw the rucksack onto his back, before following it with his guitar. “I'm ready when you are Chief.” He said with a confident nod, his serious expression hidden behind the glasses.
    She cracked a tiny smile. “Excellent. Then let us set out.”

    At her request the two stepped out of the apartment complex and made their way to the shopping district where the instructor Ignate waited. He was a young man who wore the Newbie Instructor's green coat, brown boots and crimson hat, both coat and hat emblazoned with a gold emblem. He wore a white dress shirt, a pendant on a necklace and both his ears were pierced with small gold rings. His chestnut hair covered his left eye and his other brown eye was visible.
    Peorth approached him and held out an envelope. “I would like to request to have a quest authorized. Though it may still be unknown, a new Instance Dungeon has recently appeared, and my guild and I would like to investigate it. The names of the members who will be attending this are listed, among with all other necessary information.” She placed a hand to her lips as she closed her eyes in thought. “In truth, the location of the Instance Dungeon is currently unbeknownst to us, but we do know which part of the world it is located in, so if you have not had the opportunity to we shall inform you of it upon our return.”
    Ignate smiled and TJ blinked slowly, somewhat caught in the man's charm. “Is that so? Then I'll pass this on to the higher ups and have them look into the matter. Your continued patronage is appreciated guild master Peorth. Best of luck on your quest.” He said and saluted her with two fingers.
    “Until we meet again.” Peorth said with a nod, while the Abellan waved.
    “So is that how you get quests? Or rather start them?” TJ had taken up a myriad of quests during his time in Yong Gyoung but following that he had put more focus into his own journey, save for the time he spent working in Aoich. It was hard to imagine considering what he was doing currently, but memories were a funny and unusual thing.
    Peorth nodded solemnly. “Typically there are fees for initiating quests since it is done through the company, but at times rewards aside from those given by the original requester can be added. If, for example, there were two people who had an issue with Agasura, perhaps they would pool in rewards to entice adventurers into taking up the request. The company itself provides guild points for those who complete the request, and the amount varies depending on the difficulty of the challenge. When it comes to Cerebians, we can attain higher rankings with the assistance of guild points, but the system we use which is typically referred to as 'Contribution' can be acquired through all actions we take, especially in assisting Humanity, fellow Cerebians and/or defeating Agasura. Once again, the greater the challenge the greater the Contribution. What you will go through will prove to be a short journey in terms of growth.”
    He nodded solemnly. He would have to face a myriad of tough Agasura, but it meant that he would improve and grow stronger rapidly, and in the same vein he would climb up the ranking ladder quickly. “So why don't you send out our guild members on more quests offered by you Chief?”
    “I do not do so because greater amounts of Contribution and guild points can be acquired by performing tasks for others. That matter aside, we must take into consideration the circumstances surrounding the quest. At times, Agasura will appear in great numbers, which could lead to such things as the goblin revolution or the mothman infestation. These can be dangerous to travellers and adventurers alike, so I research important quests and dispatch our members to handle the matters. Everyone has a very important part to play in this conflict.”
    The Abellan chuckled gently. “I could imagine.” Perhaps for that very reason Peorth had requested that Curt come in place of Robo. Though he was unsure of the circumstances surrounding the choice, she likely had something that she thought he was the right choice for.
    It was not long before the duo approached the GMA Elias Branch and found the Treasure Hunter waving them over, lightly packed, but still as ready as ever. Perhaps one of the perks of being a Treasure Hunter? Either that or Curt was not that worried about what they were in for.
    “Hey you two. All set for our big dungeon spelunking adventure?” He sounded as easy-going as he looked, and TJ envied it a bit, but he felt more at ease in those moments.
    “I think we're prepared for the worst. We've got the Chief after all.” TJ chuckled with a grin.
    “I'd say.” Curt said as he poked the rucksack TJ carried. “You guys look like you're preparing for the apocalypse.”
    “Prevention is a measure we cannot underestimate under any circumstances,” The guild master retorted.
    The Treasure Hunter knit his eyebrows. “I'd expect no less, nor any other answer from you Peorth.”
    She smiled confidently. “My cause stands to reason.” She glanced at the two. “Shall we then?”
    TJ drew his warp crystal and Curt nodded. “Next stop's Elfa,” The Abellan said as they all vanished.
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    TJ

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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Tue May 12, 2015 8:22 pm

    Keep all hands, feet, teeth and other appendages off the waifu:
    This one's a bit really late but things have been weird. I mean they're always weird so I guess it's not that weird but...it's weird. Wanna hear me say weird again?
    Let's get down to it then! Lately I've been really working with Peorth, and building her character. Looking back, there were only a few times where she had appeared in Freq, most of her appearances were closer to the end and even then she didn't stand out much. She's going to be joining the main cast in a sense in Sanc, as you can see. You'll be seeing her a lot more frequently than before in place of some of the others, but the team dynamic will vary often. I'll talk a bit more about that later. Anyway, there's a few dialogues between TJ and her throughout the beginning, and here too it shows how she's changing steadily. She never used to say much about her past and the circumstances surrounding it-rather, she typically kept to guild matters and knowledge about the Cerebians that TJ didn't know. Also shows that she can kick your ass and make you a kickass meal afterwards. What a boss.

    Leaving aside that for a moment, I decided to try my hand at improving my style a little bit. In a lot of the things I've read, it seems to be a rather standard approach. It makes me question whether that that's the hallmark of a good writer, regardless of medium, or whether it's just one more step in my journey to understanding the world as I couldn't see it before. On the other hand, I read a bit about romanticism again(Don't ask me how it happened. You look up one thing and the next thing you know you've got seven different tabs open with all sorts of different stuff)and it made me wonder if doing the very opposite would be a path that I would want to follow. I think? Again, things have been weird. Perhaps attempting to do both would be my style-or downright impossible and that I'm a nutcase for attempting such a feat. POINT IS THOUGH, that experimentation! Per usual. Is my go-to choice. It's how I improve, most of the time lol. Hell, it's how I got here, so we'll see where it takes me. WIP!

    Back to the story though, the breakfast scene I felt was a good choice. Something I thought about after finishing chapter 5, is that TJ and others often find themselves relatively normal in comparison to others like Vanir. Then come the other members of Yggdrasil who are actually normal lol. When I wrote Alicia and Amarylys I started to see it myself too-everyone is so odd. Amata is likely the most normal of them, in most cases, but even she's kinda quirky, especially when it comes to her relationship with Su. It's part of what makes it so fun to write those two. Here too, you get to see how Amata has grown from USSR, to Freq and finally Sanc. She's gonna become a bit more prominent, since she has her own arc along with some of the other characters. It's steadily chugging along with the others, but I think the core of it is there, essentially. I'll probably do a review for the characters at the end of the chapter, to go into more detail on their changes as a whole, their goals, past events and well...pretty much all the nitty gritty details if that's what you're into.

    I think a strong suit for this chapter was just the dialogue between the characters. A lot of the time I feel conflicted between moving the story along, and trying to flesh out the characters in natural ways. Doing both isn't impossible, but when too much happens all at once, both the dialogue and the progression, sometimes it can offset both. Balance is the key, but attempting that can also be a very risky move. I think that leaning to one side or another isn't always a bad thing. I'm no expert, so it's just my own personal opinion. Maybe an example could help me illustrate my point? Worth a shot!
    So let's say TJ and Peorth are practicing Velvet's song. You might ask yourself, "What kind of dialogue would go here?" Typically, the most obvious and safest choice would be a discussion about the song itself and the means to bring forth the Saint. That's just one of many, though. To expand further on that, while keeping in tune with the current objective of the characters(Or in other words the current scenario), the two might talk about Velvet herself, what she was like or why her song is what it is. Expanding further away from that, the conversation could extend from Velvet alone to the Seven Saints as a whole, and the journeys they may have went on(Why does that word end with 'ey'? That's always weirded me out.)before TJ lost his memories.
    Of course, this doesn't always have to be the case. What I did here was talk a bit about the characters because that was the focal point in the story at that moment-they spoke of the Confidants, and the relationships the characters shared with them, allowing me to setup for what came next, being that Ama and Ali didn't need to meet with them a second time(showing that they've done so already) while allowing me to introduce the fact that Amata isn't familiar with Elias, introduce the Vampanelar sisters' as characters in the Sanc part of the Frequency universe, and bring back Club Abio and TJ's adoration with the Abio Rangers.
    In truth, most of the time I don't even think this through when I write it. It just kinda happens...instinctively I guess. Then again, all I ever think about is my writing so I guess things just kinda fall into place some of the time. A little worrying to be honest, but also handy. Makes me wonder if others are like this too...oddly enough, this is probably my main strong suit. I'm terrible at thing things like tetris and puzzle games but this often comes natural to me. And yet...I still feel like I'm not there yet. There's definitely something missing still. Anyway enough about me and my complaints. I'm here to talk about the important stuff and talk about it I shall! Also I'll complain later if need be lol.

    So back to the matter at hand, for the first time in any of the Freq stories I've written, oneshots included(finished or not)thee Vampanelar sisters appear together for the first time. Idk if this is really a spoiler but I'll tag it anyway!
    Inno, USSR, Sanc and the Vampanelar Sisters:
    As you can imagine, they first made their appearances in those novels. Originally, it was just Lucia that was listed as a Confidant when I initially storyboarded Inno. I lost those, much to my dismay, but that was when the idea of her first came to be and that's the way it is. As I wrote it I came up with the idea of her having a sister(s) and that lead to the introduction of Maya during Inno. I think that might have been before Monica, and definitely before Naomi. After going back to Sanc I started considering having others, and when I wrote USSR that was when those two had made their first appearance, but neither had too many lines in it. In spite of the fact, I felt that there characters were established enough and having them appear more frequently later on would definitely be something I wanted to do. In USSR, Maya didn't appear, but she wasn't forgotten. Lucia appeared in all three, naturally.
    As I wrote this part I looked back towards the two, and you could probably tell there were a couple throwbacks to them. Reina was a party animal lol. Anyway, I think every time I come back to those places, I try to improve it a little bit to help illustrate the world around them, and to make visualizing the place a bit easier. Since most of the places in the world are already designed, I need to be able to make the Instance Dungeons feel unique and well...same as before. Asgard will be the same way-I got a start on there, but it could be a lot better. Beats the first time around though...but at least that was 6 years ago. And bad. So Monica's first on the list to appear-she's the youngest of them all, so she does act a little more immature than the others. And Peorth steps up to keep hands off the Abellan. It might be a trait of hers that shows up every now and then-she protects him both from threats and potential love rivals lol. I had read a bit about such a trait, and I thought it was a little endearing. This can vary from person to person of course, and the same with characters. Though then again, some do like the really...dangerous ones. My lips are sealed on where I stand on that lol. Back on topic, Maya is the second youngest, Naomi third, and Lucia the oldest. I've been conflicted with having Naomi and Lucia swap places, but I think having Lucia be the eldest of them all, while having Naomi seem to be it by her manner makes for a more interesting dynamic, while also keeping to the fact that Lucia was the first of them, and the only one to have known the queen while she was still alive. Hence why the three younger sisters know Peorth as Queenie while Lucia calls her Princess. Another interesting fact here is that Naomi knew TJ already! This fact won't likely be explicitly mentioned in the story, but she was the one who had located him before, and after he started out in Belos. If you recall or don't, Trini had mentioned that he'd found the guy they were looking for after the fight with the King Goblin in the guild chat, because he was the only one to have joined Yggdrasil prior to all the others. Thus? He was talking to Peorth at the time. So this lead to that and here we are today!

    So next? The little bit with TJ and struggling in the chair was also a reference to Inno. Salem had a similar problem, but it was a little less dramatic lol. The dangers of everyday things to the Abellan will likely be a running joke as he becomes more familiar with the world of humans and comes to grips with all of the strange appliances and whatnot that they use on a day to day basis. Though it mostly serves as a joke, I think it works well for him because he wasn't born and raised in their world. Or was he? Nevertheless, there's a lot that he doesn't know about it, so becoming more familiar with a lot of those things, alongside the social side of their ways is going to be something he experiences throughout Sanc also. I think it could be a strong way to establish his character, so I'll do my best to do it well as the other characters experience their own changes and improve. I feel he's really grown thus far. Amata makes a good foil when it comes to those things also.
    On the topic of Amata, the part where she requests to join them, I'm not quite sure yet if I made it too dramatic. I have the feeling that it'd be better if she just got upset there rather than shedding tears, but I'm conflicted. On one hand, the reason she broke out into tears is both out of concern for Peorth's safety and that her actions rubbed her in the wrong ways-it was out of character for her, which is what made it fitting in that scenario-it's because of that scenario that it worked, in a sense. At the same time, I feel that her getting upset, but not angry, and responding in a similar manner would be more like her, but perhaps not convey the importance and urgency in her voice and actions. It's difficult to really...do that with her because of her usual standoffish attitude-I mentioned before how she takes her job as G.G seriously, and that shows a bit here, but It does feel a bit too sudden for her so I'm debating on whether I'll keep that or not in the good copy. Once she calms down she begins acting more like herself, which helps ease in that unexpected change, but I might need to do something before it happens rather than just after, if I plan to keep it as is. This is just potential thoughts and changes for the future.

    I think the rest speaks for itself(either that or the drink I had is wearing off and my exhaustion is setting in)so I'm gonna move ahead to the Madelaine's visit. So here, I think a good thing was the talk betwen Skuld and TJ. For her, often times her actions speak louder than her words since Vanir does most of the talking, and as you can see in USSR and occasionally in Inno,
    Lips are sealed:
    she doesn't speak around certain characters like Samson, Salem, Grant and Bea
    for various reasons. Now here's a strange little tidbit about Vanir that I thought about. Some of his actions are definitely unusual, in the most unusual way possible. At times he almost seems out of place in the novel, and this is both purposely and not on purpose. His fall, almost seems...cartoony in a sense. After reading it over, even I felt so too...but that's just the thing about it. When you see his character, it gives him an unassuming air. Maybe I watched too many Looney Toons episodes growing up or perhaps I had a brilliant idea and it manifested through that. I can't say for sure which it really is, but if I was to say it was the latter, here's why. Well...it shows, doesn't it? That sharp contrast in his character-the sense of duality in him. He comes off like a complete moron, most of the time and he certainly talks like one too, and due to this most of the characters don't think much of him. This happened in USSR so
    I tagged it. Spoilers within!:
    Samson explored this fact a bit further, when he had internal monologues about Vanir's unusual behaviour, though the fact the barista was drinking at the same time didn't help any lol. (Those two will be my crackship forever and ever amen.)
    Regardless of who and where and when, he usually acts the same way, but he doesn't spend the whole time messing around. Here he taught TJ about the effects of the Contemptuous Arts and how the Agasura evolve-and he also made the time to screw around, per usual. I love the part with the selfie he does. Fantastic. Fitting.
    As for Su? Here is another sign that her story is progressing. Throughout Frequency, I don't think there was a moment where she had mentioned Bane. She remained stubborn and tight-lipped on what happened in Hanamah, but at this point in time when she's found a clue towards understanding spirits, she tries to get as much information out of the barista as she can, mostly to no avail, but the effort wasn't entirely fruitless. Here also shows that she doesn't know Julius personally, so as he had expected, she hates his guts. Delicious, delicious angst, and more of it to come in the future! I should probably talk a bit more about her character since it seems like she's been getting it pretty bad lately. Can you blame her, though? Let's consider her circumstances a bit-she's the one that has to take the steps the others don't know about to ensure that they succeed. But since she was caught up in the Hanamah incident, formed a certain pair of contracts, and is trying to change fate with her own hands well...yeah, she's in a pickle. But aren't all those who are trying to do just that in the same situation? Consider Vanir, Kooh, Su, and let's throw Curt into the mix. They're all caught in a web of secrets, but know not who's web they're walking into.

    Back to the topic at hand, here Reina and co. are mentioned. Read USSR? That'll definitely ring a bell. Sorta. Things change when you tamper with fates. How will it end? Who could say?

    In truth...it's gotten a little late and I think I've spent too much energy as is, writing out the final parts of this update. I might come back to talk about the rest of this on Wednesday or something if I can be bothered. As for Sanc, it's gonna take a short break so I can take some time to draft and write a short AU for Mother's Day...which already passed. But I'll do it anyway since these things only happen once in a while. There'll be some new characters to join the two idiots from another time and another place! Fun! Well, with that said I'm gonna get out of here. There's other stuff that needs doing and my battery is at about 42%. Later!
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    TJ

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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Mon Jun 01, 2015 5:14 pm

    Pages 204-209:
    The group appeared in the city of Elfa, the place much calmer than it was during the appearance of Avaritia. It had not been long since the last time they had come but the place felt new in a strange sense-perhaps the fact that they would traverse new lands and unfamiliar territory gave the Abellan a sense of excitement that he had not found prior.
    Upon their arrival they found themselves nearby their other companions, Amata and Kooh stood near the stone and the latter waved them over.
    “Princess! Over here!” Kooh called out to them.
    “Ah excellent. You have arrived.” Peorth said as Kooh flew at her and draped her arms around her neck.
    Amata brought their supplies over with both hands while looking grumpy. “How do you deal with her on a daily basis? She's like a kid on a permanent sugar rush. Honestly!” The Governor huffed.
    The guild master reached into her pocket and drew a pencil and notebook before requesting that she glance through what the Governor brought. With her approval Peorth tapped Kooh's arm to signal that she release her and she crouched down before jotting down notes on their current supply. “Her energetic nature translates to a strong ability in battle magnificently. Perhaps sometime the two of you should fight alongside each other.”
    The Governor knit her eyebrows and her counterpart grinned. “You know Princess, Alvaro said that I should act as Amata's rival to help her grow up a bit.” Kooh laughed. “He sat me down and told me a bunch of stories of how he and the previous Governor of Earth used to go at it.”
    “Can you not? Don't waste the queen's time with stories of my...of my dad.” Amata muttered sullenly.
    “Why not? He was super fun! We watched home videos of Amata when she was just a little girl and she was learning to use magic...she was super cute and a total daddy's girl!” TJ looked on in awe as the Governor of Fire finally snapped and stormed towards Kooh, then started stretching her cheeks as she continued to talk. “You shoulda sheen the look on her fashe when he praished her! Adorabl-ow oww!” An angry vein emerged on the Governor's forehead as she stuck two fingers on each hand into Kooh's mouth and pulled harder. “Okay, okay I shurrender!”
    “Are all of the Governors morons? The more I hear of the my predecessor the less I wanna know.” Su muttered within the gem and TJ chuckled sheepishly.
    “W-well...I'm sure he's not as bad as he sounds. Like the Chief said, we need to rest as much as we need to fight...and stuff like that.” He said as he scratched his cheek. “He may have been a little eccentric but I bet he was nice.”
    “Being nice doesn't make a good God's Governor, smartass.” TJ really knew nothing of the traits of a good Governor, so he decided not to press the matter.
    Kooh rubbed her cheeks while Amata crossed her arms and turned away. “Do you need a hand Princess?” She asked with a smile.
    “No, this should do just fine. But you have my thanks nonetheless.” Peorth answered as she rose to her feet and placed the items within her dress. “With this I strongly believe that we are well prepared for our journey, but I must recommend that we remain on guard. Once again, we know not what waits for us within the Instance Dungeon, so let us proceed carefully, and ration our supplies. We have quite the journey ahead of us, I believe.”
    “Right.” TJ agreed with a nod.
    “You're the boss,” Curt said.
    “I'll follow your orders to the letter Peorth.” Amata responded.
    “Princess, is it time to go already? Promise me you'll come back safely!” Kooh said as she took her place before her.
    “I will be perfectly fine Kooh, I assure you of this. Trust in me, and in our allies also. We will all return fine.”
    Kooh wrapped her arms around her cousin in a gentle embrace and Peorth did the same. “I know you will...but let me worry for you. It's the least I could do!”
    The queen's lips curled into a smile. “You are already doing so much for me as it is. I would not be where I am without you. You should appreciate yourself more at times.”
    “Now kiss!” Curt said with a grand gesture. Amata looked at him in disbelief while TJ looked startled.
    The Governor put her lips together and leaned in but Peorth placed a finger to them. “You should save your lips for the person you truly love, Kooh, and perhaps once you have started dating them.”
    “But I do love you!” Peorth chuckled gently.
    Amata placed a hand to her face. “I can't believe she was actually gonna do it,” She muttered.
    “Now then, shall we set out? Time is of the essence, as you all know.”
    “Let's do it!” Curt said pointing forward.
    As they walked away Kooh waved gently, a slightly sorrowful look in her eyes.

    “So our first stop is Chunsik Tunnel right? I've never really been there before, nor seen it around. Where can we find it?” TJ asked with a look of curiosity.
    “It's actually right over here!” Curt said as he walked a few more steps and stopped before a small grey cube-like building between a pair of palm trees. He stopped at the door and slapped it twice confidently.
    A silver door rested at the front of it that was labelled by a warning in white with a red border that read, 'Chunsik Tunnel-please be wary of the Agasura and watch your step!'
    “You know, I never actually noticed this.”
    “It's not typically a place people pay much attention to. Most aren't too confident about traversing the place because of how dangerous it is,” Amata said.
    “Have you been here prior Amata?” The guild master asked.
    “Me? No, I couldn't really be bothered with it. I thought the entire place was kinda ridiculous and a waste of time...to be honest.”
    “Bet you're feeling wrong about that now huh?” Curt said with a teasing grin.
    “Oh shut it would you?”
    Peorth approached and turned the knob, to which the door opened with ease. “Let us make haste.” She lead the party in followed by Curt, the Governor and the Abellan.
    Chunsik Tunnel was damp, dark, and infested with unusual mole creatures. The walls were a faded violet, rusted in certain places turning it shades of brown and lined with thin, long vertical lights every now and again given some vision within. The ground floor was rather far below the group, and the entrance let them out upon a series of pipes that lead further into the tunnel. There were also many of them, creating a walkway while others were placed against the wall and rose ever higher to the roof of the place. It seemed that the Chunsik Tunnel was not just a way to get to Chunsik Land, but also a location for all of Elfa's water to pass through.
    “Perhaps this is the reason that sign had said that we should watch our step. Should we slip we have quite the fall.” Peorth said blankly before she moved forward as the first to walk along the pipe.
    “What is this a circus? Why would anyone want to go to Chunsik Land if they had to go through this to get there? They might as well make a walkway or something.” Amata muttered as she glanced in the doorway alongside TJ.
    “I don't think this is a way anyone should take to get there, don't you?” Curt laughed. “I mean, let's be real here. Slide down those pipes the wrong way and your blood will wind up as rust on them sooner than the water dripping from the roofs would. It's not safe, period.”
    As TJ came out Peorth signalled them all over to where she was and Curt started climbing down the furthest of two thin brown pipes. The silver pipes they walked on could fit one to two adventurers side by side upon it, but any more than that and they would struggle to remain on it.
    “If what I had learned is true, Chunsik Land once ferried visitors to and from Jienda to the island. Once the place had been overrun by Agasura, they had cut off all contact with the main continent and stopped the service. This path was a last resort that adventurers had begun to use to venture out there, and discover the situation behind the loss of a potential tourist attraction. I had not seen it for myself, but I have heard that it was quite the sight.”
    “So why don't they just start ferrying people across again? It beats having to go through this nonsense.” Amata said as she followed after the guild master.
    Su emerged from the crystal as TJ struggled across the pipes and looked down, then took his place after the other Governor. “'Cause ferries cost money, and that place can't bring in any. Only people who would go there are adventurers.” She said.
    “I'd pay for that rather than go through this.” At the vanguard a rather large mole-like creature with gloved hands, stubby arms and feet attached to a spherical body assaulted Curt. It wore shades and a yellow hardhat and threw itself at him recklessly. He blocked it with his shield and thrust his dagger into its forehead before he removed the weapon and stomped it against the pipe. Following that he kicked it aside and the lifeless corpse fell to the ground amidst others that looked up at the group traversing the pipes. “You alright?”
    “I'm fine. But we should really get a move on before more of these thing start coming after us. I don't like the way they're looking at me.” Curt answered with a grin as he tipped his glasses slightly to look over the frame.
    “I agree. TJ, are you alright?” Peorth asked as she looked over her shoulder while he struggled down the pipe.
    “N-no problem. I've been through worse.” He answered sheepishly as he carefully climbed down. Kimara was much, much worse, but he still had a distinct dislike of heights. Even if it was shorter, the fact still remained.
    Peorth's gaze was unflinching. “If you feel unsafe, jump down. I will catch you.”
    Her kindness was appreciated, but the thoughts of people telling him he looked unassuming or girly or cute rang in his mind then. He was the Cerebian's Abellan and he was having trouble climbing down a pole. If he could not overcome this, he could not fight Asmodeus. He wanted to prove himself to his guild master. “That's alright. I can do this.” He jumped off and landed, narrowly losing his balance but just barely managing to remain upright. “See? No problem!”
    Her eyebrows were slightly knit but she gave him an approving nod nonetheless. “As long as you are alright I will not stress the matter unnecessarily. Let us catch up with the others.”
    He followed in her wake as they regrouped with the rest of their party. As they moved on there were a couple more Agasura that Curt told them were called Dig-Digs left in their wake. TJ climbed up a nearby pole after Peorth and she and Amata swapped places. Curt looked at a pole that rested before him and the path before him that branched away from the other pipes and returned to the wall. He looked down below and without a second thought jumped down, leaving the Abellan in awe.
    “That guy is gonna slip off one of these things and crack his head open. I've got no sympathy for him.” Amata muttered with a shrug.
    “I'd laugh,” Su added.
    Peorth climbed down the pipe and upon reaching the bottom drew her spear. Curt was flanked by a pair of Dig-Digs and she quickly rushed to his aid. He jumped over the one before him as Peorth followed in his wake and charged through both before coming to a skidding halt. With one mighty swing of her spear she hurled both off of the platform.
    “Nice save!” Curt said with a grin, but his eyes remained focused on her spear.
    “You must move cautiously Curt. Considering our position, if we are above, we cannot easily see what is below us. Though it can be considered a vantage, we must remember that the space we have to battle on is rather limited, and our bodies are not meant to traverse these pipes like theirs can.” The guild master explained.
    “This is the first time she's seen them and she's already figured out that much...wish we had someone like her in our guild,” Amata sighed.
    “Yeah the Chief is great isn't she?” TJ chuckled gently as he watched her figure leading them.
    “This is boring as shit. When do we get to actually fight something?” Su asked with an exasperated gaze.
    “If you and I use our magic here we'd sooner kill everybody.” Amata said as she sent Su a wary gaze.
    “That didn't stop you before.”
    “At least then I had the sense of taking it somewhere safe! Our allies are right in front of us!”
    “Come on you two, let's work together again or somebody might actually wind up hurt this time.” He was hardly one to talk, but he would prefer that they did not know that fact. If the three of them wound up fighting disaster would certainly ensue.
    Nearby there was a ladder that lead to a short landing that bridged the first sector and the second, since the pipes did not extend there. Perhaps the reason for it was so that those who maintained the place could get around. TJ could not help but wondered if they had stopped coming since the appearance of the Agasura.
    As the group moved onwards Curt pointed out to a new variety of the mole creatures-these wore overalls, a blue and white cap and black framed glasses. They had prominent buck-teeth and a pink nose like their Dig-Dig counterparts, but lacked the gloves-their beady black eyes were visible behind their glasses also.
    “Better watch these guys, the Boku-Boku. They have a glare that can weaken your defenses something fierce.” Curt laughed as he pointed at one with his thumb. “Should've seen what a pair of them did to Robo's MG after doing that. Man did he ever freak out.”
    “Let us remain on guard then.” Peorth said.
    “Leave this to me.” Amata said as she stepped forward and drew her staff. She held out a hand and a flame appeared in the other, then she hurled it and a second at a nearby Dig-Dig and Boku-Boku, setting them both alight and frantically running about. The charred corpses soon came to a halt.
    “I thought you said no magic.” Su said glaring behind her.
    “Before everyone else was directly ahead of us. Besides, if you were to use your earth magic here it'd cause this place to fall to pieces and the only way to get across would be to fly.” Amata answered with a huff.
    Su sneered. “You think I need magic? You're damn wrong.” Su pushed her aside and drew her dagger before eyeing a DigDig in the distance. She reeled her arm back and hurled it with enough force to split its shades in two and lodge itself between the Agasura's eyes. She turned to Amata and grinned. “How was that?”
    “Impressive...-ly stupid. You just threw your weapon away.”
    “Think I need it for these stupid things? This place is a cake-walk!”
    The two started growling at each other and Peorth placed a hand to their shoulders. “The both of you are very strong in multiple respects. I believe that it would be best if you conserved your energy and put it towards doing battle with the Agasura. If what Curt has told me about Chunsik Land is correct, there will be a myriad of enemies that we will need to defeat in order to get to the Instance Dungeon at the heart of it. As you know, though I am a Warlord and I have a very limited set of abilities for defeating a multitude of assailants. That is where I will require your assistance most. But having you along for the journey as companions is also something I appreciate. Let us be on our way.” The guild master walked away with those words and the two looked at each other with puzzled expressions.
    Amata was the first to speak. “I...forgot what we were fighting about...” She said as she placed a hand to her face.
    “Ugh...what's up with her? I dunno what it is, but something about her pisses me off,” Su muttered.
    TJ chuckled gently. She knew how to handle her enemies and allies skillfully. That was something he should certainly learn from her.
    The guild master and Treasure Hunter climbed down the nearest pipe first and one of the BokuBoku noticed them. As another approached Peorth the one that faced Curt started hopping in place as it waved its arms, and sparkles emerged from it and surrounded it.
    “Crap...it got us.” Curt chuckled dryly as he held his shield up with his dagger by his side.
    “Let us fight safely then.” Peorth held her spear across her body in a defensive stance. The BokuBoku leapt at the guild master and though she parried the strike, somehow it had managed to force her back instead and she was halted as she bumped into Curt with a shocked expression. The creature too, took the blow but remained standing and started its approach anew. “Strong...”
    “Right?!” Curt said as he stepped aside so as not to force the guild master back into the approaching Agasura. “The effect will remain for a while so we should clear these guys out before they do it again.”
    “Yes, that would be best.”
    Curt reached into his coat and drew two knives. He hurled them both and each pierced the glasses and eyes of the creature. It let out a pained shriek as his shield followed afterwards and bounced off its head, causing it to fall to the floor. Curt dove towards it and tumbled to his knees before he took hold of his weapon with both hands and plunged it into the Boku-Boku, then caught his shield. Peorth took a deep breath as she let her guard up and closed her eyes, opening them with a more serious look. Her party members held onto the pipe between the pair, each wearing uneasy looks but watching in bated breath. When the Agasura lunged at the guild master she stepped aside and with a single hand swung her spear behind her, causing it to fall face first to the ground. As she turned on the balls of her heels she twirled the spear and slammed it against its back before sweeping it away off of the landing.
    “The battle is over.” She said with a nod to her remaining companions.
    “Such skill and grace...she's incredible...” Amata said mystified as she climbed down and stepped aside to watch Peorth move forward and meet up with Curt who was reclaiming his weapons.
    “She's not that great.” Su muttered as she climbed down followed by TJ. She moved ahead of Amata and went along behind the others as Curt gestured for them to follow.
    “I think you'll learn a lot from her over the span of our journey Amata. The Chief really is something special.” TJ told her with a grin and flushed cheeks.
    She stroked her ponytail gently as she closed her eyes. “Yeah...I get that feeling too.”
    The group gathered together again after climbing up to the nearest pipe, a small gap separated them temporarily, and as they went ahead Curt brushed aside the charred corpses that remained.
    “Are you feeling alright Chief? That blow looked really strong,” TJ said.
    “Yes, I am unharmed. It had caught me off guard, but my spear took the brunt of the attack. As Curt had told us, we must be careful with the Boku-Boku. If they lower our defenses, it seems that it would be best if we ended the battle with haste. Though it will not be easy, I ask that you move forward with caution and do just that.”
    “So we just gotta kill them quickly and not get hit right? I don't see why you're all making a big stink about it.” Su said with a shrug.
    “One or two of them is probably manageable, but we've gotta look at the big picture here. There's five of us, so you and I are pretty much out of the picture so long as we're grouped together.” Amata knit her eyebrows. “Maybe you could do something, but whether I use my SP or mana everyone will be in danger so...I'm gonna hold back. Still, you don't have your dagger and the other Wizard weapons aren't well known for being good for hitting things with.”
    “TJ disagrees with that statement.” The Governor pointed to him.
    “Huh? I do?” He asked looking surprised at the comment.
    Recalling their previous venture the Governor of Fire chuckled dryly. “I think the Abellan is in a league of his own. He's the first Bard I've ever seen that fights more with his guitar than his magic.”
    He chuckled sheepishly as he rubbed the back of his neck, then froze with a look of realization. “That's right! I'm a Bard!” He drew his guitar and gently began strumming it, empowering his allies.
    “...You forgot?” Su asked with a look of disbelief.
    As he strummed the final chords of his song he knit his eyebrows and lowered his head slightly. “W-well it's not that I forgot that, it's just that I'd forgotten I'd learned some spells along the way. You know, empowering spells and such.”
    “That's a staple of Bards TJ. You shouldn't be forgetting that before important battles. Though having them is better than not,” Curt chuckled. “We're gonna need them, especially now, 'cause we're gonna have to go down there.” He pointed to the ground floor, and Curt and Peorth aside, the others glanced over the edge of the pipe to see a group of angry looking Boku-Boku and Dig-Digs jumping up and down in anticipation of the adventurers becoming their prey.
    “Isn't there another-” Amata looked back and followed the nearby brown pipe they had passed by and followed the wider silver variant towards their current location, noting that there was a gap between it and where they wanted to be, completely blocked off by a rising silver pipe. “Oh.”
    TJ continued playing and Peorth gazed at her party thoughtfully. “Perhaps it would be in our best interest if we changed our formation. Curt and I will remain as the vanguard and go first. TJ should follow after and provide support with basic spells such as the Arrows of Light. It would likely be the safest option. Suuba, you should come after TJ and keep your focus to using your SP spells. There is a bit more space but I assume once we get down there the battle will begin immediately and we will be surrounded. With that I believe we should be able to manage relatively well. Keep your wits about you, everyone.”
    “Sounds like a plan.” Curt said as TJ nodded.
    “Ugh just seal my powers why don't you?” Su muttered.
    Peorth smiled slightly. “I shall go first. Give me a couple moments before you come within a spear's range Curt. I would like to attempt something I had learned from Axle.”
    “But he's a Blader.” The Treasure Hunter said with a curious look.
    “That is correct. I do not plan on attempting his technique, but the means to which he did it may be just what we need.” She stepped forward and hurled her spear into there, the weapon spun during its ascent and stopped at the peak as Peorth leapt for it. At the sight of it the Agasura began to flee and she came down with a crash as she plunged her weapon into the ground and raised her head, her bangs drifted through the air as her eyes became visible and she roared, “Field of Blades!”
    All around her a series of spears emerged from the ground and impaled the Agasura who were not fast enough to escape. Following her Curt hurled knives in all directions before landing with a skidding halt, both arms crossed over with a knife in between each of his hands. As the Treasure Hunter dashed past the guild master who now rose to her feet and scanned the battlefield, TJ quickly climbed down and leapt from a height he deemed safe, and upon touching down with a wave of his hand eight Arrows of Light surrounded him.
    “Go!” He shouted as he pointed skyward and they dispersed from him, shooting out in every direction before they pummelled the Agasura that approached.
    “Do not let your guard down yet! We have only been able to strike down a small fraction of them! There are more incoming!” Peorth shouted to her team.
    One of the Boku-Boku that slipped past Curt started its spell and as the sparkles faded a sudden weakness fell over their bodies.
    “Ugh...is this what it's like?” TJ asked as he placed his guitar upright and a hand to his arm. Just by his own touch he felt as if he could hurt himself by exerting a tiny amount of force. He shook his head and readied his guitar as he strummed it, calling forth more Arrows of Light. So long as he could repel the incoming Agasura he could create an opening for the others.
    “I think we're pretty much clear on this side!” Curt shouted to the others amidst a series of corpses.
    “Then we'll take this one.” Su said as she landed by her companion and nearly caused him to jump aside.
    Peorth stole a glance at those that approached her and those Curt left in his wake and noticed a moment after that those he had thought were defeated rose to their feet with an angry glare in their eyes. “Curt behind you!” She shouted.
    He turned on the balls of his heels with his shield at his waist and narrowly blocked an incoming attack, but was still forced back. Curt took a knee and all around him other Agasura rose to their feet despite taking a series of attacks.
    “Hang on Curt! Help's coming!” TJ shouted to him with a series of arrows around him. At his gesture they shot towards the Treasure Hunter's assailants and pelted them, stopping a few only briefly while a couple others charged toward him.
    One of them leapt at him and sent him tumbling away while others moved into position.
    Su charged in the wake of his spell as she roared, “You're so damn troublesome!” She came to a skidding halt and stomped the ground, raising the earth before her before slamming her first into it. “Earth Dragon!” The spell surged forth and rushed the Agasura down as she stormed forward with another ready. “Twin Dragons!” Following to the side and in the wake of the first two others rushed past Curt as they swirled around each other and converged in front of him, causing the Boku-Boku in the way to get knocked back, those with enough strength to remain standing. “Get on your feet dumbass! This isn't over yet!”
    Peorth placed her spear in both hands and took on an offensive stance. She charged ahead and thrust her weapon into the nearest Boku-Boku while another decreased the effectiveness of her armour. After she impaled the first she thrust the weapon forward and took hold of the far end of the pole as she spun around and attacked with it in a wide arc, knocking aside a majority of the approaching Agasura. As another neared from her flank she turned to it moments before it lunged at her and she spun her spear as she shouted, “Windmill!” Flames followed in the wake of the attack as the creatures was pulled in and pummelled, and once it ended she slammed it down and felled it. “Not yet.” She said as she turned to three approaching from behind. “Burst Lancer!” She pulled her weapon back and with a flurry of rapid stabs felled the three of them.
    “Chief to your right!” TJ shouted and in her peripherals a series of small flashes of light went off.
    As she turned she caught a glimpse of the creatures being struck with his spells and she gave an acknowledging nod before she hurled her weapon and appeared upon it as it struck a Boku-Boku in a group of the creatures. “Valor!” With a wave of her hand a surge of wind surround her and she drew the spear back as they turned to her. “Heavenly Ascent!” With a sweep of the spear the Agasura were flung into the air before she brought the spear above her head and spun it, pulling them all in before slamming the spear down in an upright position-each of the creatures that surrounded her fell on it one by one and found themselves impaled in order. With a sigh she brushed her hair aside. “It was just a tiny bit of mana and yet...I find myself rather tired. I feel that I lack training.”
    TJ chuckled lightly. If she had seen things from his perspective she would know why she felt so tired-and in spite of her complaints, she was not even out of breath. Though he was even more surprised that her lance could actually pierce through things-it was much more dangerous than he could have imagined, and even knew.
    Curt rose to his feet as Su beat the Agasura back with her shield and the occasional spell, and he drew a couple more knives from his coat. “Alright I'm back in the fight. It's a good thing I came with more supplies than last time. These dungeons are way too huge to come lightly packed.” He said with a shrug.
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Mon Jun 01, 2015 5:15 pm

    Pages 209-214:
    “Yeah that's great and all so how about instead of chatting up a storm you kill something!” Su hissed while she parried a lunge from a Dig-Dig and started rapidly punching it with her right fist.
    “It's not my fault a certain someone decided to throw her dagger to show off.” Curt said through pursed lips.
    “You want some too?!” She pointed forward and the Twin Dragons spell surged forth and felled the Agasura before her. She took a couple steps forward toward him as other came towards her and she clasped her hands together. “Gold Dragon!” Curt smiled wryly as the head of the creature appeared before her and the earth trembled, causing the Boku-Boku to fall away and even Curt to feel a bit weaker.
    “Let's hold back on the friendly fire alright? It was just a joke.” He tossed the knives ahead of him and rushed forward in their wake, plunging his dagger into the nearest Agasura and grabbing its hand to hurl it into its companions.
    “Tch.” Su answered as she stepped forward and axe-kicked one and raised a foot to kick it back into the others nearby. She followed the attack with another Earth Dragon.
    “Two left!” Curt said to her and she eyed the others in case they decided to get back up.
    At those words a series of icicles rained down from the sky and stopped him in his tracks, while they felled the Agasura.
    “I gotcha' covered!” TJ said with a wave of his hand.
    “Could've fooled me,” Su answered with a look over her shoulder.
    The Treasure Hunter glared at her. “That's my line, don't you think?

    The five regrouped and Curt gently rested against the pipe while TJ strummed his guitar gently and healed him.
    “How are you feeling? Has the pain subsided at all?” He asked with a worried glance.
    “Little bit more. I'm feeling a helluva lot better already.” Curt answered with a sated smile.
    “You sound like an old man,” Su muttered under her breath.
    “I am getting on in my years, I suppose.”
    “Are you?” Amata asked as she raised an eyebrow. “You really don't look the part.”
    He grinned and winked at her. “Do you wanna know my secret?”
    She furrowed her brows. “No! The last thing I need to be worried about is my age. Besides, it's you. I can't trust any skin care techniques you're willing to suggest. Or at least, not without a grain of salt.”
    “I expected your words to be a lot more scathing Guvnor. You've grown up.”
    She sighed. “Don't get too ahead of yourself. I have my own pride to maintain.” She closed her eyes. “Though I do agree with Su...you sound like an old man.” He wrinkled his forehead at the remark.
    Peorth finished sipping on an SP potion and placed the vial away. “Suuba, are you sure you would not like to replenish your Special Power? You may not find the opportunity will come around again for some time. I would highly recommend that you use this chance to do so.” She suggested.
    “I'm fine. If I run out of Sp then I'll drink some. Didn't use that much anyway.” She responded giving the guild master a brief look.
    “I see. How are you all faring?”
    “Good to go,” TJ answered. “I didn't do all that much fighting anyway.”
    “No problems here,” Curt said.
    “I'm ready to move forward too.” Amata sighed gently as she turned her eyes to the far end of the tunnel. “The sooner we get out of here the better. I'm not fond of standing around.”
    “Then let us be on our way. If you would, Curt.” Peorth said as she stood aside and he took the lead.
    “Don't mind if I do.” He said as he began to climb another nearby pipe. The group followed in his wake and as they climbed up they caught a glimpse of another Dig-Dig falling from where Curt was. “Looks like this part of the path is all clear. Let's move people!”
    As they moved further in TJ glanced about and caught a glimpse of a giant '3' plastered on the wall, though faded and seemingly peeling away along with the paint and rust. It seemed to be a sign that the tunnel was broken into sections, which would likely help those working within to find their way around should they be confused about where they were. From his current position, it seemed that there was only a small fraction of the tunnel remaining. Looking straight ahead, he noticed the group would not be able to proceed-they would need to take the higher ground and carefully jump across each of the pipes to go on into the next sector, or at least what seemed to be it. During that time Su reclaimed her dagger from the Dig-Dig she had thrown it at.
    “I hope you guys can jump with all that stuff. We can avoid those guys down there as long as we can reach.” Curt said pointing to a pair of Boku-Boku that wandered across the pipe. Much to the Abellan's surprise, they did not seem to pay him any mind. “I'll go first.” He got a running start before he leapt from where they stood and grabbed onto the brown pipe, then shimmied his way up to the top.
    “You know, I think that's a terrible, terrible idea.” Amata began.
    “Why do you think that?” Peorth asked, in a stance that said she was preparing to follow suit-the God's Governor looked nonplussed.
    “Well I mean, if we hit that thing with too much force it could easily snap. Next thing you know, water's going everywhere and we'll have to go out of our way to get up there. But that'd be the least of our concerns. As far as we know it could mess with the city's water supply, and the problem would remain unknown and unchecked until they can find some adventurers willing to go down here. If that encourages others to explore this area they could wind up wandering into the Cookie Garden and eventually to the new Instance. If word gets out, we're gonna have a repeat of last time easily. Great for Elfa's business, not so great for the adventurers who won't make it back out alive.”
    Peorth blinked. “You have really considered the potential consequences of our actions.”
    “Y-yeah it's just kind of a habit sometimes.” The Governor rubbed the back of her neck sheepishly.
    “That's what we call being a pessimistic assface.” Su said.
    “More like using logic. Something I think you could learn to do for once in your life!”
    “With that knowledge in mind,” Peorth began, “I would suggest that we clear a path and move forward steadily, thus avoiding any possible dangers to the city and the adventurers of Jienda.”
    “How do you wanna play this Chief?” TJ asked glancing at the Boku-Boku.
    “Since Curt's already gone ahead, let me handle it.” Amata stepped forward and jumped down, and at the sight of her one of the two lowered her defenses, and angered her slightly. “Stupid thing...Flamethrower!” She pointed her staff at it and a series of flames surged forth and set it ablaze. It ran away from the flames into the other, set it ablaze and both fell from the pipe due to the collision. Amata sighed. “Someone should really make a note of this stuff. Going into areas blindly is asking to die.”
    TJ turned to the guild master. “Mind if I borrow that pencil Chief?” He asked.
    “You may.” She answered.
    She reached into her pocket and handed it to him, before he removed his rucksack and started scribbling down what he saw in his Monster Manual. He could not recall how things had went in the past, but using the previous entries as a reminder he did things in a similar style. Somehow he felt a bit of nostalgia at the action and smiled at the thought, before chasing after the others as they moved forward. Thanks to Curt, the path to the next sector was clear, and thankfully short since they did not need to go to the ground floor.

    Upon regrouping in the next sector the group looked upon another set of Agasura. These looked very alike to their counterparts, but instead had pink fur, long eyelashes and a white headband with a yellow flower.
    “These guys are Hani-Hani. You need to be extra careful with them, 'cause they have this weird attack...where a heart appears and it hurts like hell. It hurts more than when they throw themselves at you. And they explode.” Curt explained.
    “That's rather...graphic. They don't look like the exploding type.” Amata commented with a look of disgust. TJ shared that same look shortly after.
    “I don't mean they explode, the hearts! They explode.”
    “I'm honestly surprised it isn't a bloodbath around here. Though how exactly do exploding hearts hurt? Explain.” Su said.
    Curt gave her an exasperated look. “You two are just screwing around, aren't you?”
    “Hm? No I was completely serious. Some Agasuras can act pretty unpredictable, especially now. But if you visited this place after everything changed then you've probably seen it all.” Amata said as she crossed her arms.
    “I was totally screwing around.” Su said blankly.
    The Treasure Hunter chuckled dryly. “Figures that was the case. Anyway, point is, watch your back, and watch your front, 'cause neither side of them is safe when they do that.”
    “Don't you mean watch th-” Su began but was cut off.
    “Whatever you have to say, I don't wanna hear it. Let's go.” He rushed off and climbed down while Peorth held out a hand.
    “It is not...safe...to go alone.” She began which eventually turned to a mutter, and she lowered her hand. “Well this is quite the predicament. We must go.”
    “You might have pissed him off.” Amata said as she watched Peorth pursue him.
    “He's a big boy. He'll get over it.” Su answered with a shrug.
    As Curt drew his knives and hurled one, the Hani-Hani he aimed for fell on its face and the weapon flew over its head. He clicked his tongue and set his eyes on the one that ran past it and waddled over to him, and he threw the other at it-to his dismay it performed the same maneuver and avoided his attack.
    “What the hell?” He asked with a look of annoyance. He drew two more and hurled one as the first got up, but this time where it was going to fall. Moments before it stepped into the range of the blade it stopped, lunged forward as if it was going to attack and jumped over the knife. He clicked his tongue and rushed forward with his dagger and shield. As he neared the Hani-Hani that followed behind the first, now took the lead and started jumping in place, a large pink heart appeared over its head. He raised his shield and backed away as he waited for it to burst, and as he lowered it to strike while it was open the other jumped on its head and latched on to his face. “Get off you little-” He dropped his weapons and struggled to pull it off of him as he stumbled about due to the increased weight.
    Peorth neared and paused at the sight. “Please, remain still a moment Curt and I will attempt to remove it.” She said.
    “With your spear? You'll sooner put that thing through my head too!” He shouted as he stumbled back and forth.
    While he argued with the guild master, the second Agasura waddled over to him as they all did, and lunged at his feet which threw him off balance and caused him to fall face first to the ground. The Hani-Hani that held on to him let go due to the collision but his body slipped from the pipe and he narrowly held on.
    “Heh...I guess idiots of a feather fall together.” He laughed mirthlessly. “Or at least similarly.”
    “I do not understand.” Peorth answered as she placed her spear away and took his hands in her own.
    “These idiots...” Su muttered as she rushed ahead with TJ and Amata following in her wake.
    “Peorth, this is a terrible idea. You've got Hani-Hani on both of your flanks and you're trying to drag me up there? Let me ago and protect yourself!” Curt hissed.
    “I will not falter no matter how many enemies surround me.” She answered while his eyes darted to one of the two coming ever nearer.
    “Now's a bad time to be stubborn and helpful. Just do it!” The creature stopped next to her and prepared to lunge.
    “I will not.” It hit her left flank and she nearly lost her balance-she released Curt's hand for but a moment and quickly grabbed it before it fell out of her reach while she winced.
    The other neared her and created a heart which burst into a series of smaller hearts next to her and forced her back into the first, both bodies slid across the pipe and remained sprawled out across the width of the pipe, but she still persisted in keeping Curt in her reach. As the two came to a halt the creature let out a whimper as it met a grim end to Su's dagger and the Governor looked upon them with disgust.
    “Can you morons do anything right?” She asked before she pulled out the weapon and lifted the corpse. She hurled it at the other and knocked it from the pipe down to the group below. TJ felt thankful that they would not need to go down there, since it only ended in a dead end.
    Following that Amata and TJ joined Peorth on both of her flanks and pulled Curt back up.
    “Thanks guys. Thought I'd be food for those things down there. Still, you should've just done what I said Chief. You can't go risking your life like that too, or both of us might have wound up dead when it only had to be one of us.” Curt explained.
    “I would rather it be neither.” She answered calmly.
    “If your party is capable, and you're tough enough to manage it, sometimes you can get what you want.” Amata said to him with a grin, her eyes focused on the Governor.
    The Treasure Hunter closed his eyes and lowered his head as he smiled slightly. “Well I'm not dead so I won't lecture you about it any further than that. Let's stick together and get through this in one piece.”
    With Curt back on the front lines and the others following in his wake they pressed onwards. He climbed up and backed away from a Hani-Hani to his left and opted out for rushing the Boku-Boku on his right. Peorth followed up after Curt and caught it off guard as it pursued him, sweeping it aside with her spear and sending it into the darkness below. The dead end abruptly ended in a hole and made the group wonder exactly what waited below, but most were not willing to find out after the cries of the Hani-Hani faded away.
    “Almost there guys. Hang in there.” Curt told them. He climbed down another pipe and threw a pair of knives with a free hand before he jumped off and thrust his dagger into a Hani-Hani and threw two more into its companion, then reclaimed his weapons. “That's that. We're all clear.”
    “You have handled the matter deftly. You have my thanks.” Peorth said as she climbed down and joined him.
    “You saved my bacon back there so let's call it even.”
    “We made it!” TJ said excitedly as he joined them all. “Thank goodness!”
    “This is only part one of our journey TJ. We've still got two more portions of Chunsik Land to get through before we can say that. But I think you'll really take a shine to Cookie Garden, so at least you've got something to look forward to.”
    Amata sighed, “I can smell the toothache from here.”
    “Enjoy it while you can. It's not every day you run into a place with a name like that.” Su said with a grin.
    Peorth and Curt climbed up a nearby ladder to a landing with a door that matched that which was on the other side of the tunnel. A red wheel served as the handle.
    “Let us go forward.” She placed both hands to it and began to turn it, the door flew open and the magnificence of Chunsik Land shined down upon them.

    Chunsik Land, was by all means an amusement park. Roller coasters, a Ferris wheel, carnival stands with all sorts of food and prizes, and a massive castle far off in the distance with an opening in the shape of Chunsik's face, with eyes as lights and the mouth as an entrance, a series of lights spread from the bottom to the top to light the way in. In the sky was the symbol of Chunsik Land, a light designed like his head, round with a bear-like snout, short brown hair and a white toque. The light in the sky, was only one of many of the symbols scattered about the park-many of the attractions featured just that. Banners in a myriad of colours flew high from the stands and the castle, and the tiles upon the floor were in both yellow and red. The park seemed to be split into two sections, separated by a long river that ran through the heart of it all, and a couple of bridges allowed for passerby to get from one side to the other.
    “Is this Chunsik Land?!” TJ said excitedly looking about. The place was like a festival of light-it was lovely, bright and colourful and exciting. “There's so much to see!” His excitement faded and he scratched his cheek gently. “But there's nobody here. Everything is still going on though...did they really need to close it?”
    “Look over there TJ.” Curt said before he pointed to something off in the distance.
    The Abellan squinted and a short distance from where they were he saw a card that stood taller than him, that wore red shoes, had a pair of detached gloved hands, and carried a tall red spear in its left hand. It wore a hood tied with a golden buckle, a similar buckle around the gloves, and a beady pair of yellow eyes looked out from within the hood-three red hearts were placed upon the card itself, and a paper heart hung from the tip of its hat.
    “Is that one of the Agasura here? It's...a card.”
    The Treasure Hunter nodded sagely. “Heart Three. There's another like it, but you should be wary of those ones. The reason the place is deserted is because of these guys, among others. They'd have to have adventurers on the premise the whole time just to keep the Agasura at bay, but you know how sporadic their appearances are. They could easily appear and hurt somebody. It's just not worth the risk.”
    “It seems like such a waste though.” TJ looked upon it all and blinked slowly. “Though I don't know much about places like these. This is the first time I've seen such a place in all of my adventures. What do you do here?” Most of the group looked at each other in search of answers, some shrugged and others made thinking gestures at the question.
    “I can't believe none of you have heard of an amusement park before.” Amata said as she knit her eyebrows. “Take that Ferris Wheel over there-you see those little booth things? You get in those and the wheel turns. You and whoever else is in it with you can see the entire park from up there, and probably a lot more. There are other rides like roller coasters that go really fast, the merry-go-round and a ton of other rides. Humans go nuts for this stuff because it's exciting.” She grinned. “There's even one that raises you high into the air before dropping you after it reaches its peak.”
    “That sounds downright terrifying.” The Abellan shuddered at the explanation.
    “It's all pretty safe though. If people were dying on this stuff the park would be shut down immediately. It's all for thrills.”
    “Why the hell do those dumbasses want to be scared? If they want some real thrills then they should pick up a weapon and fight!” Su hissed.
    “We're talking about everyday people here not adventurers. They're not trained for that, and they'd die! Do you want a bloodbath?!”
    “Not my problem.” She glared at the Governor.
    “But it was your suggestion.”
    TJ turned to the guild master as the argument continued on and she seemed to have her eyes solemnly focused on the Ferris Wheel. “Is there something on your mind Chief?”
    She closed her eyes before turning her head to meet his. “Seeing this does make me wonder a fair bit...it seems like a nice place. An amusement park, is a little like a carnival, or a festival.” She placed her hands behind her back, one in the other. “Though now is not the time, later, perhaps I would like to return. If...or when that time comes, mayhaps you and I...could come again? I would like to ride the Ferris Wheel.”
    He smiled. “Yeah, definitely!”
    Amata stopped arguing with Su to send the two a wary glance. “It couldn't be...could it?” She asked.
    “You're over-thinking it.” The Governor responded.
    Curt grinned impishly. “Do you wanna take a bet on that?” Su clicked her tongue at the question and set her sights ahead. “Hey you two, we should get going. We can appreciate Chunsik Land later, right now we've got a hot date with a Sinner!”
    “You are right. Shall we be on our way TJ?” Peorth sent him a glance, her lips curled into a tiny smile.
    “Right behind you Chief.” He answered as he ran to her side and walked onwards with her.
    As the group moved forward the Governor of Fire let out a long sigh of relief. “You don't know how glad I am to finally walk on flat land, and I can finally start kicking some ass. It's been too long.”
    “Yeah all of what, five minutes?” Su asked sarcastically.
    “If only.” Her counterpart sighed.
    “Well it's first come first serve.” Curt began as he reached into his coat and drew some knives he had wiped clean. Without a moment to spare he climbed the ledge before them and hurled them into the back of the card, four through the card itself and one through the head. They pierced through it and the card flopped over as the knives fell to the ground with a dull clatter. “You've gotta be quick to the draw if you wanna fight.”
    “It's not like I'm that enthusiastic about fighting Agasuras,” Amata huffed.
    “You and Su went to town during our visit to the pyramids and you're saying you're not enthusiastic about it? Come on, you can't fool me that easily.”
    “That was because she-oh whatever.” She drew her staff. “Try not to get in my way, and I can guarantee your safety. Cards are nothing but paper, after all. Agasura or not.”
    “Please be careful everyone,” Peorth said.
    “It was a lot worse last time Chief, but don't worry! Despite all the arguing and infighting everyone worked really well together,” TJ remarked.
    “Is that so? Then I would like to see it.”
    Amata grinned. “Well I can't pass up a chance to show the Queen how capable I am. Lead the way Treasure Hunter. I'll provide you all the support you could ask for, so you just do your thing.” Curt smiled wryly, but proceeded anyway.
    As they went on TJ glanced above them and noticed there were a series of platforms like drums that levitated above them, and there too were Heart Threes. Even Chunsik Land had been affected by the battle between the gods. It seemed that every stretch of Jienda and the continents surrounding it were caught up in it. He turned his focus ahead of him and caught a glimpse of Amata igniting the card ahead before hurling a fireball at the center of it, burning a hole in the center after setting the hat aflame, and causing it to burn up in a matter of seconds.
    “This part of the adventure should be easy if it's just gonna be cards.” The Governor of Fire said.
    Where the remains of the card were burned to ashes and blown away by the wind a pair of large drums were stacked upon each other. Curt walked over to them and jumped to grab hold of the second, then pulled himself up from there. Amata stole a glance at the path he took and followed shortly after, lead by Peorth, TJ and Su. He leapt to the nearest platform, a series of irons bars and striped pillars were beneath it. Now looking at it from the same height, TJ could see what they looked like beneath him.
    “Watch your step,” Peorth added. She and some of the others stood on the next landing and awaited the two. Su jumped across first and he followed shortly after.
    “The distance to Cookie Garden isn't long from here, unless you wanted to take a detour to see the other Agasura around here.” Curt said. “And hey, you're in luck. There's a Save Stone near here.”
    “Really?! Is it an Iris Stone?” TJ asked with a look of disbelief.
    “Heh, nope. A Chunsik Stone.”
    The answer put a damper on his spirits. It made sense that there would be a Chunsik Stone in Chunsik Land, but he had not seen an Iris Stone since he had gone to Foe Mansion in search of Pandora. Whether or not he could pursue her was not the matter that concerned him-he understood that she had gone beyond Jienda. What he needed to know was what clues she had left for him, and what they were meant to tell him. That matter aside, there was the warnings of the past within them, and the question that haunted him to this day-what had happened to her and what did he have to do with her disappearance? He was still yet to find any clues on her whereabouts, her piece of the Heart of Yggdrasil and what exactly she had kept inside of the locket. He let out a sigh as he watched the party move forward, the guild master within them. There were other mysteries to solve-to bring Peorth's wish to fruition, to unite the three factions and to end the war. But without a doubt, their fates were linked. One had to be accomplished in order for the other to come to pass. Though the stone here might not get him any closer to Iris, it may teach him something about his past, and through that he could forge ahead to the future.
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    TJ

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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Mon Jun 01, 2015 7:00 pm

    No sexy time happened, I promise:
    I should probably add a yet to that tag.
    So let's get down to it!

    Continuing where I left off, fluff! And lots of it! I've talked a bit about trying to improve my style a bit, and here I did it too. Learned the symbolism of different foods and tried to work them in. Better? I'm not too sure, to be completely honest.
    Now this is a little off topic but this might help to explain my thinking a bit! So recently I picked up a series called Book Girl(can't remember if it was the anime or the manga but I saw one of the two years ago) and it was extremely hard to find! Had to order that. Anyway, it was something one of the characters said, about what an amateur's book tastes like(Because she eats them). Made me think about my own work. In truth, perhaps it would be a bit unusual for me to stray from the path that many others have taken. It might be a bad idea but...a small part of me feels that it's more fitting for me, as I am now. I think it might be connected to my search for identity, or something along those lines. It sounds greater than it really is when put like that, but my identity as an aspiring author and my identity as a person are linked in the strangest of ways sometimes-and perhaps those two things to a much greater whole, more so than the sum of its parts. Of all the books and shows and whatever else I've watched, it's much more fitting to them than it is to me. Perhaps because I've yet to understand it, or because it's my writing that I can't quite make the best of it. It's a little bit strange, and explaining isn't my strong suit, but let's just say I'll take a small step back, perhaps and see if I gain a new perspective. If it works, I'll see where it takes me!
    Back on topic, I've given a lot of thought to the points where TJ might have a monologue. Times like these, for example when he's alone but Peorth is nearby isn't too bad. Later on, as you can see they become a little more uncommon so I can focus on the dialogue between the characters that are around. For that matter, TJ takes a bit of a backseat too. The thing about his story, is since it's connected to everyone else's it's one that is constantly in progress, thus even if he doesn't stand out much during certain times it's not like he's any less important than the others. Their arcs will be shorter yeah, but many of them are in progress throughout the story, just as TJ's is. As they play out, the characters will grow as a whole, especially those involved, and it'll all piece together as the story draws to a close.
    That was uhh...ANYWAY the Monster Manual makes a comeback! Early on when TJ glanced through it, there was a short message to the guild master which he forgot about(it's been an awfully long time) but now you can see why. She and the other Keruz were the ones that initially joined in to make it a thing. I was supposed to include a small bit about TJ doodling in it during the Chunksik Tunnel venture but I didn't. He, like Vanir can't draw for beans. Peorth is actually really good at it! Just doesn't do it often. She's much better when it comes to painting, but she can do other styles if need be.(I swear, one of these days I'll do character bios. I've been thinking about it but haven't made the time. Stuck between a rock in a hard place, you know like, "Why write bios when you can advance the story?" or, "Why advance the story when you can play Oreshika?" That sort of thing.) It's a travesty, honestly.

    Now here's a little something I find myself conflicted with-the matter of Adonis. When you have a character like that, it often makes you wonder when and how they should make an appearance. On one hand, he only appears under very specific circumstances, as you could see in Frequency. From a reader's PoV, it'd be like a villain who doesn't really do anything, and probably won't until he's finally defeated. I have the same concern with Choen Palm, but no, I haven't forgotten her either. Back to the topic at hand, Adonis is a very complicated situation. His character isn't necessarily one that need be made manifest consistently due to TJ's nature-to put it another way, if, for example, rather than TJ becoming a zombie-ish Agasura during the hunting nights, Adonis could potentially take his place. But if that were so, if he was to fulfill Asmodeus' wishes he would be forced to submerge into TJ's psyche and remain on standby until the next night.
    This could be a spoiler, depending on how you look at it:
    In spite of the fact, the two are one both in body and mind. Once again, two sides of the same coin. Though Adonis might not come out specifically, it could be implied that he has some influence while TJ is in that state. As we know, according to Avaritia TJ is also Luxuria, which says a lot more about his identity than he knows. Whether that's his 'true' self or just his signs of being her are Adonis coming to be, I won't say yet but I'll leave that up to speculation.
    That said, I think the conflict he has between defeating his siblings and integrating them, or joining forces could be a good point for his character development. One of the things I've noted about him, is that he's often the type to go with the flow of things, and in most cases that would be what Peorth suggests. It's not particularly a bad thing, mind, but that conflict of interests is just what he could need to become stronger as a character! I had heard a phrase(while playing Oreshika no less) that went something like, "You could go with the flow or dig your heels in the dirt and stand firm" and that struck a chord with me. That wasn't it of course, but it was something along those lines. For most characters, at times rebelling against the norm is something that happens. Peorth wants to change the way the world sees the Agasura, and unite the factions. TJ wants to save the Sinners but also stop Asmodeus-he's gonna be angsting too, without a doubt. Su is a governor who seeks to see through goals much greater than her tasks as a governor and then some. There's something they're all fighting for, and most wouldn't agree with those methods nor the ends. Which side would you stand on if you could choose? Is their means worth their ends?

    This was something I knew I would need to address sooner or later, but Peorth's antics aren't...well, ill-natured? Hard to find the words to describe it, because it's downright weird, but for that very reason I feel that it's fitting for her character. If you recall in Frequency, it was Peorth that had found TJ, and it wasn't until she brought him out from the gate that he manifested in their world.
    I'll tag this too, in case you're second guessing:
    In a sense, she feels responsible for him, but also has deeper feelings. The bond they share is one not only as Contractor and contractee, nor guild master and subordinate. They're friends that go way back, but there's a love that runs deeper than their words could speak of. How it'll manifest, I can't say for sure yet, but as you can see here she has a strong desire to protect him in all senses of the word, and despite his inability to understand love he's developing a vague understanding of it, and his mind that was once filled only with thoughts of finding Iris and his own inner identity struggles is beginning to unfurl and open up to her, as she is with him.
    As I always say, I couldn't write a good romance for the life of me. Even more so if it's between a sheltered princess and a spirit who doesn't know what it is. Whether it will end with those two or not, I can't say for sure yet, but regardless of whether its love or just friendship, nurturing the bond between the two is what will help TJ to awaken to his true self. Peorth knows that too, and despite being a little more timid than she lets on, she's willing to go beyond her own fears to assist her companions and strengthen her bond with her contractee. A strong point to her character is that she's willing to go to any lengths to protect that which she holds dear, but beneath all of that which makes her a good proxy and guild master, lies the innocent heart. Somewhat motherly, somewhat childish, the clash of her experiences comes to fruition when faced with the person of her past. One of the last few that remained, and that held much more sway than she had let on thus far. As their story unfolds you'll really come to understand how things came to be that way. I'll work hard to make it good!
    The following morning, a strong contrast is made there also. I think that side of her can be a bit charming too, since she's always so prepared and prim. I had always feared that she might come off as a tad dull throughout the story, due to the way she acts and carries herself throughout most of it, but I feel those vulnerable moments she has is important. It shows how strong she is on a regular basis, but that it's not as easy for her as it might seem from a glance. Even so, she still has a bit of the teasing nature she showed in Frequency. I SHIP IT. (Though that's kinda taboo for an author isn't it? Put me in the trash bin already. Then again, I could ship anything. I ship TJxVanir. FIGHT ME ABOUT IT.)

    You know, I do realize that their party is poorly formulated. I mean, a warrior could potentially pass off as an off-tank in this scenario, but it doesn't make it any less a bad idea. Curt might have a shield, but it doesn't mean he can eat attacks either. Samson learned that the hard way. Though on the other hand, Yggdrasil lacks Temple Knights(Because they're dead. Hue.) so they've gotta make do with what they've got. The fact Peorth picked out Curt instead of Robo is a mystery, isn't it? I'd take the dude in the robot. As for Ignate? I've always considered how the guild system would work in terms of Humanity. I mean, on one hand if they were to contribute mana through the crops, there would have to be somebody who could handle all the quest stuff and whatnot. I figured Ignate and Ases would be a good pair of people to act as associates for such an association since they handle all the newcomer trials and such things. Since this takes place in S1(you know, a lot changed) there's no premium shop so Shubur is within the guild room still, and the maps haven't changed location. That, in itself, is a challenge. But S2 is hella fun! Back on topic, I had considered having the GMA do it, but at the same time it wasn't something I thought would work because the GMA consists mostly of Cerebians, and I think that a group handling quests and stuff by humans would fit better, since humans can't collect contribution(Technically they can, if they're in a Cerebian guild but it doesn't change them regardless of rank, so they can rank up as the guild master sees fit. Sorry Salem!).

    At Elfa everyone's reunited! In truth, Amata is really fun to write. There's a lot I can do with her character, mostly a variety of little quirks and such that really helps her mesh with the main cast. At the same time there's a lot of little things that makes her stand out among them, and really changes the dynamic between them. Since she also acts as a foil to Su, she really brings out her competitive nature and makes her usual rude one-liners really stick, especially during the times where one of them is doing one thing and the other the opposite. Like two peas in a pod, except they're different colours. For reasons. The fact that TJ fights with her less shows that his character has grown dramatically(He used to be super rude! I'm proud of him.), but even so it's not something I plan to change about her yet because her character still has a lot of room for growth. It might remain even after that, but the reason for it will differ, and the amount might wane. Here, you can see what Vanir had said is still bothering her, hence why she's a bit more ticked off than usual. Especially at the mention of the previous God's Governors. As for Amata, we get a small glimpse into her life here. In spite of what she says, well you might be able to tell from this and USSR, but she has a lot of respect for her dad. He's a fun guy! Loves a good fight too, so you could imagine the relationship between him and Julius during their youth.
    I gotta admit though, writing this part was a bit tough. I feel so bad for Kooh, and I'm the one who writes it. But then again, one of the things that an author needs to do is too hurt their characters sometimes. No matter how dear they are to us, no matter how much they take from us(That's an important factoid!) it's something we have to do regardless. Sometimes it gets easier, most of the time it doesn't. I've read it, experienced it, and wrote it. I found a good comment on batoto about that. Might rummage around and find it. Won't say who mentioned it but he raised a good point. Found it! Some of the context won't work here but I feel that it could help illustrate this point.

    It's a little grim, but could hold some truth to it.:
    "Yes that's right.The writer is a sick sadistic fuck, we all are. We take our characters and break their minds, their bodies, their hearts; we put them between a rock and a hard place and squeeze them mercilessly. When respite comes it's brief and never, ever, enough. We work hard, days on end, on all that torture for the characters we love like children just to have the ill luck to die before finishing our work, no wait that's sheer laziness on our part because of course with all our dubious power we've got control of our own deaths too.
    And of course we do all that for immense gains. We kill our darlings for just one line of encouragement. Torture, maim and twist, all for one little "oh, it's kind of interesting." Because when we're nice it's just not going to entertain.
    Of course, if the writers are such terrible people, what does that make the readers who actually enjoys watching the sick sadistic show?
    No worries, no judgement, that's just the mechanics of entertainment.

    Often times this has been the case with my own work too. Taking that first step in the CoI arc when I initially wrote it was one of the biggest challenges I had faced as an author. I think that was where the story took a major turn, but it did help me grow. Even now, even with the smallest of things, it's no less painful to do that. Especially with unrequited loves. A very tough subject to approach, but a very common thing in our lives, and something we might underestimate more than we could imagine. Now here's the kicker! What Kooh's doing might seem...bad, in a sense. But consider what we know about Kooh-she might act it, but she's not one to be taken for a fool. She's a really smart girl, and daring at that. But she's also very responsible and caring, especially when it comes to Peorth's well being. If there's anything I've learned throughout my life, it's not to judge a book by it's cover. I don't expect anyone to guess what Kooh's motives are, or if there are any, but here's to hoping you find her character interesting at least! All of them have their own little complexities, both good and bad, but when you mix it all together, at times it's the end result that may prove just who they are.
    This...is something I'd like to learn to do for my writing. I can be a tad impatient about certain things, but this too could be considered a life lesson. Perhaps it's one that I've learned, but haven't consciously come to understand yet. Somewhere along the way this became both a story, and a lesson I suppose lol. But we can learn a lot from people, from books, from everything. I learn something new everyday, and hopefully I can do those things justice in some way, for as long as I can.

    A long, long time ago I had learned the story of Chunsik Land. It intrigued me. Made me wonder what the place would've been like before everyone got turned into a series of delicious treats and...clowns. God I hate clowns. That's kinda what lead up to me writing that short bit of lore for the place. It just kinda came to me. Perhaps later on I'll expand upon it and what had caused it, but I think the game might cover that already, so I've gotta do some snooping. The idea of it once being a place that people came to visit seemed like a pretty good idea. As for Chunsik(or Captain Bong? I'm not 100% sure yet) I do wonder if he was always a man-bear-thing. It seems to be the one thing that's remained in spite of everything else, so I won't likely cover that fact lol.
    Though I have to admit, I think I'd spent too long away from writing Agasura. At times I forget that I should give them new abilities and tactics, which I did fix a bit closer to the end of the Tunnel venture, but its something I should be more wary of throughout. I've made some plans for what comes after, but perhaps I could come back around to give this part a bit of a touch-up if I feel that I have some ideas in mind. As always, WIP! I'm looking at page 206 right now but since the night's getting on I'll call it quits for now. Hopefully come the end of the week I'll make some decent progress on this. As for the rest, I'll cover it a bit later when I can make the time.

    I hope what I've covered today was of use to you, and I have to offer my thanks to Mr/Ms. X for that quote! Until next time!
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    TJ

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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Fri Jun 19, 2015 11:45 am

    Pages 214-222:
    Moving onwards the group found themselves at what seemed to be a dead end-before them was a small gap that lead to a platform beneath them, and a second further away and a fair distance lower. Upon where they stood was a ladder that lead to the landing below. A set of cards Curt had said were called Spade Fives, matching their red counterparts but wearing black with spades of the same colour upon them infested the area.
    “You know, I actually think the Red Threes are worse. They throw cards, and those things cut like knives,” Curt said.
    “Afraid of a little paper cut?” Su asked with a teasing grin, and obtained an annoyed glare in turn.
    “So long as they're killed before they can throw them, we'll be just fine.” Amata added before her lips curled into a tiny grin. “Though if those things get anywhere near me they'll burn up before they get anywhere near my body.”
    “The protection of your barrier I assume?” Peorth asked with a hiked eyebrow.
    “That's right.” The Governor puffed out of her chest, while her counterpart razzed her. In a matter of moments the two were growling at each other.
    “Well let's not waste too much time. We should try to get to Cookie Garden by nightfall or we'll burn ourselves out before we even step foot in that Instance.” The Treasure Hunter chuckled dryly. “Half the battle is finding it, after all.” He drew his dagger as he glanced over the edge of where they stood, then suddenly jumped down, startling the entire team. The sound of a card as it flopped to the ground followed, and shortly after the sound of paper tearing. “It's safe to come down guys! Let's move.”
    Peorth lead from there, joining Curt on the next floor followed by others. The Treasure Hunter had seemingly searched the area and regrouped with them to shrug.
    “What's wrong Curt?” TJ asked.
    “There's no ladder that we can reach around here, and I really don't think it'd be a good idea if we tried to jump over there.” He pointed to a landing a short distance away. “Truth be told, if we tried that one of us could fall off from the momentum. Let's take the other way, it's a bit safer. Just try not to mess up the landing and you won't go face first into those bars.” He walked past them and jumped down again after he walked past the felled card.
    The group followed after and jumped down two landings before reaching the ground floor. One of the Red Threes caught a glimpse of them and immediately turned to them to start hurling cards. Curt raised his shield but Amata pushed him aside and a glimpse of her barrier became visible as a fiery wall that appeared where the cards were and burned them to ashes. She pointed a finger at it and a flame appeared before her index which she quickly fired off. It pierced through the center of the card and set it aflame, spreading outwards before she followed up the spell with a Fire Blaster.
    “Behind!” Peorth shouted as she locked spears with an incoming Spade and forced the weapon away. She took a step forward and stabbed three times, puncturing the card before knocking it away. “We must not let our guard down. The fact stands to reason that we know not what the Agasura are capable of during this time, but we must also remember that the enemies are new to all but Curt. Even with his knowledge, we know not the extent of their abilities.”
    Amata nodded. “Let's try and stay in formation. That way we can keep all of our bases covered,” She added.
    “Got it.” TJ said taking his place behind the Governor of Fire.
    Curt lead onwards again and a low platform with two drums at the edge of it stood in his way. He leapt to grab the top and peered over it to find a series of cards flying at him briefly after. He dropped down and let out a dry chuckle. “Lob a fireball up there would you?” He asked.
    The Governor raised a hand and a fireball appeared before she hurled it at the approaching card. The flaming Agasura came headed there way, and moments before it toppled upon Curt Peorth bashed it aside with her spear before it burned to ashes.
    “Dangerous...but effective!” TJ said with a hint of enthusiasm.
    Amata smiled devilishly. “Oh you haven't seen anything yet, TJ.”
    Curt climbed up and placed a hand to his forehead to scout out the area. A Spade stood with its back turned to them, two cards of both colours on a platform above them, and a couple more Spades on an even higher landing. Upon that final landing was a platform where a Chunsik Stone awaited them. “Look up there. That's the stone for Chunsik Land.”
    “You say that like there's more of those stupid things.” Su muttered as she focused on the card and tossed her dagger through its hat.
    “There is. There's one here, in Cookie Garden and in Captain Bong's Castle.”
    TJ knit his eyebrows. It would really make his day if they were Iris Stones, especially if they were closely grouped together, but the fact still stood that this was clearly a sign that Iris was not the only one who had access to this power. There was Iris herself, Sir Levi, Chunsik and that strange Borroru fellow. It seemed that continents other than Jienda often featured stones that were not Iris', so to find the clues she left behind he would have to explore the other places on Jienda he was as of yet to see. But it raised one great question...would there be time? “Think we could check out the first two? Since we'll be going there anyway. If the Instance Dungeon is somewhere in Cookie Garden, it's not impossible that it's near there, right?
    While Su reclaimed her weapon Curt and Peorth started climbing the ladder towards the stone.
    Amata waved him over and followed after them as she said, “You seem pretty adamant on visiting those stones TJ. I can see why though, being able to teleport to them is a pretty handy thing, though don't you think it would be better to search for that later?”
    Curt climbed up to the top stealthily while Peorth followed as quietly as she could. The Treasure Hunter gave her a nod as he slipped a hand into his coat and she drew her spear, the former hurling the knives before he cut a swath through the card and the guild master rushed the other and plunged her spear through it as it turned to her. Their spears fell  to the ground with a dull clatter and their bodies drifted down to the lower floor.
    “Well it's...not just about travel. It's a bit of a complicated matter.” He said as he knit his eyebrows.
    She hiked her eyebrows. “That so?” A grin followed. “Are you one of those adventurers who fell in love with the Iris visuals too?”
    “That's not it!”
    “Move it or lose it, losers.” Su said as she brushed past the two and took her place back in the formation. Amata glared at the Governor.
    Curt leapt up to the third platform and the Heart spotted him-before the Spade could he dashed to its side and spun it around as the cards soared towards it and split it open. Curt finished the job and threw two knives through the slit in the card and pierced the other. Peorth leapt from the ladder and stormed towards it and leapt through the air with a jumping slam. She twirled her spear above her head before she stabbed the Agasura and placed it by her side.
    “All clear? Well done.” Amata said as she climbed up shortly after.
    “Take the helm TJ. There's a stone with your name on it.” Curt suggested as he gestured to it.
    “You're gonna have to explain why you're so adamant about seeing these things before this adventure is over.”
    “I will, promise.” TJ said with a gentle chuckle as he climbed up. He stopped at the Chunsik Stone and inspected it. Unlike the stones he had seen thus far, it had an unusual shape. It seemed to be designed after Chunsik himself but completely monochrome, the body was human-like with Chunsik's face, and he wore what seemed to be jeans, a t-shirt and a vest atop it. A spotted beanie was on his head and two bracelets on each arm, a pair of sneakers on both feet and a stone tablet with words TJ could not read underneath Chunsik's butt. In his hands there was something, but the rainbow light from it was blinding. He felt hard-pressed to believe that what stood before him was indeed a stone,  but if it worked like one his doubts would have to be set aside.
    He reached out to the stone and at his touch it began to glow brighter. “Will you activate the Chunsik Stone?” It asked him.
    He swallowed hard. “Yes.”
    Peorth looked up with a worried expression and placed a hand to her chest as her shard of the Heart of Yggdrasil resonated in tune with the stone, while time came to a halt.

    He had seen the pair of men that stood before the gate where his past self resided. With the knowledge that it was indeed Peorth in that memory, perhaps the man that accompanied her was the king? The guild master hardly if ever mentioned him, but from the glimpse TJ got of him he could see his features were rather similar to hers in some respects. The image he saw shifted and he caught a glimpse of Peorth appearing in the gate. Following it he saw himself there on the other side, a somewhat sad expression as the girl looked back to him and the others turned away. Afterwards he saw her reach out, and his outstretched hand reach the edge of the gate. In the final image, he saw himself emerging from the gate, his hair now a darker shade, his wings gone from his back and his hand in Peorth's.
    The Sound of Frequency came to him, but it began to become much weaker than it once had been. He placed his hands to his ears in anticipation of it, but it was shorter and quieter than it once had been. The ringing sensation that accompanied it had weakened substantially also. He blinked, dumbfounded both at the Chunsik visual before him and the recent occurrence.
    It was without a doubt Chunsik, his platinum blonde hair parted to both sides of his head and put in fancy rolls at each side. He wore a purple tailcoat, matching pants and black and white shoes. Beneath the coat was a yellow dress shirt with gold embroidery and matching embroidery on the sleeves of his coat, with a cravat atop it. Upon his side a rapier rested and he wore an uneasy look with his hands clasped together.
    “The original name of this place is Chunsik Land,” He began, “the land was awarded to me for the distinguished service of my adventurers.” Did that mean he had servants who fought for him? “But a traveller and a former colleague signed a contract with a demon out of jealousy of the island's beauty. Venturer of another world! Please help us so that the Chunsik Land that has fallen under a spell can go back to its true nature! Please save this location!”
    TJ grit his teeth and braced himself. Who was the demon, and what awaited him in the next visual? “Yes,” He replied.
    In a flash of light he had seen himself once more, the boy now in a fettle position looking up to a faint light that poured in through a small window, closed off by a group of three silver bars. It was the inside of a cell. A series of runes were scrawled upon the walls along with magic circles upon each and every wall, including the floor. The words rang out in his mind, “Thank you, for allowing me to see my beloved Mother once more.”

    The sound of the Frequency returned and as the memory faded away he took a knee and gasped for air. What on earth did he just see? When did he get put in a cell and what had he done that warranted it?
    “Are you alright up there Abellan? Did the sight of Chunsik surprise you that much?” The Governor of Fire asked. She scratched her cheek. “Hold on a second...I couldn't see it...are you sure you activated that thing?”
    He took a deep breath and rose to his feet before masking his moment of weakness with a smile. “I'm alright! Just felt ill for a sec', that's all. Seeing Chunsik's face surprised me. Never did well with scary things...” He muttered as he climbed down the ladder and Amata appraised him curiously.
    “If you say so...but I mean, if you're scared of that guy you're gonna have a hard time with a lot of Agasura.”
    TJ chuckled as he rubbed the back of his neck. “Agasuras, I can handle. That guy? No way!”
    “I think I agree. Chunsik is terrifying in his own right. Those soulless eyes just...ugh.” Curt wrapped his arms around himself as he shuddered at the thought.
    “Babies.” Su said as she rolled her eyes.
    TJ hung from the side of the pedestal before he dropped down and let out a sigh of relief. With a nod Curt began to move forward, but Peorth had remained still, her eyes looking off into the distance. Was she still thinking about the Ferris wheel?
    “What's the matter Chief?” TJ asked as he tilted his head slightly.
    She raised a hand in response and closed her eyes. “Listen. Can you hear that?” She asked in a quiet voice. He closed his eyes and listened to the best of his abilities as the rest of his companions stopped and turned to either of the two. He could hear the wind-only faintly, but he could not feel even the slightest gust in spite of the fact. “Something is coming! Above!”
    At her call they turned their focus to the skies and just as the guild master had warned them a series of cards  were parachuting down using their Agasuric companions.
    “What the fuck,” Su muttered.
    “They're jumping down from the castle! We're gonna have to shoot them down before we get overwhelmed! Su, TJ, hit 'em with everything you've got!” Amata commanded the group. She drew her staff and held out a hand. “Ten Flames!” A series of flames appeared within the sky and set it alight in massive bursts, Flaming cards fell from the skies into the river and to other parts of Chunsik Land, but many more came.
    “Ahh...oh man...alright, I got it!” TJ muttered uneasily as he prepared his guitar and strummed it a couple times, summoning a series of icicles as he did. With another strum they fired, but the cards drifted away from the direction of his frozen onslaught and neared.
    “If any get past your guard we will dispatch them! Focus on the oncoming enemies and leave the ground to Curt and I you all!” Peorth told them as she took a battle stance.
    “That works for me. I really don't wanna throw my knives away.” Curt chuckled as he grinned.
    Su sighed, “This is gonna be a pain in the ass.” She held both hands out and a water sphere appeared before her to which she molded into a frozen bow and followed up with a series of arrows. She nocked one and pointed it at one of the paratrooper cards. “One shot, one kill.” She  let it fly and it pierced the card that it used to drift down, causing both to fall into the river.
    “Yeah that's great.” Amata said as she pointed a finger and fired off a flame to incinerate a card. “But there's seriously way too many for us to pick them off one by one!”
    Curt took his side by TJ as two pairs of cards landed by the Abellan and upon the Chunsik Stone's pedestal. Peorth drew her spear and took Su's right as a pair landed there also. “Stay together everyone. No harm will come to you so long as I stand!” Spears were drawn upon her and she took the initiative, dashing towards the two who lunged at her at once. She jumped and planted a foot on both spears, bringing them to the ground before she sprung above the cards and spun on the ball of her right heel to roundhouse kick one of the two to the ground. The other turned to her and hurled three cards but she dropped to the ground and dove at it. The two came to a skidding halt and she spun her spear above her head before she slammed it upon its face and impaled the other as it flopped to its feet. She let out a sigh as she dusted off her dress and took a battle stance in anticipation of the oncoming reinforcements.
    As a storm of fire rained down upon Chunsik landed and cards fell along with icy shards and arrows, an onslaught on ground carried on. Curt held his shield and blocked a multitude of cards as two other cards rushed towards him. He placed the dagger in his holster and reached into his coat drawing three knives. He reeled his hand back and the cards stepped aside. He cracked a grin as he lowered that arm and raised his shield hand, to which he hurled instead. The first of the two cards leaned back to avoid the attack and the shield collided the the card behind it, causing it to flutter back and forth. The Treasure Hunter hurled two of the three knives into the shoes of the first and dashed towards it, cutting a swath right through. As the other rose to its full height he grabbed its spear and plunged his knife through it and sliced it in two. He wrestled the spear out of its hand and leaned aside as the spear of the third card drifted past him, and he impaled its hat with the weapon before he rushed back to TJ's side. The card that stood atop the pedestal hurled more cards down towards the Abellan and moments before they hit Curt instead he caught his shield and deflected the weapons, throwing his third and final knife at it. As the card fell to the ground Curt chuckled and wiped his brow. “Looks like we're clear here, for now.”
    Amata let out an exhausted groan. “They just keep on coming. There has to be a way to nip it at the bud!” She complained.
    “We could try and blow up the castle. I mean, that's where they're all coming from right?” TJ suggested with a slight chuckle.
    Su nocked an arrow but turned an eye to him. “And become international terrorists? Great idea, smartass.” She remarked.
    “Well what other option do we have? I mean look at that thing! That fan is just so far it'd take a miracle to hit that thing, and because it's there they keep on flying down to us! At least the castle is hard to miss.”
    Locked in combat with a Heart Three Peorth turned an eye back to the Abellan. “TJ, that right there is how we can stop them. Without the power of wind they will not be able to reach us. Suuba, will you be able to strike it down?” She asked. She forced the card back and impaled it twice.
    Su furrowed her brows. “Are you stupid? I might have a bow but at this angle and distance that's friggin' impossible.”
    “Then all that needs be done is to change the angel and shorten the distance.”
    The Governor frowned, seemingly more annoyed by the second. “So the fuck do you plan on doing then? You gonna throw me?”
    “I will not be the one to do so.” The guild master replied as she placed her spear down and turned to the group. “It will be TJ.” The Abellan looked mortified.
    Su face-palmed and Curt looked over his shoulder as he reclaimed his knives. “You know Peorth, I'm all for your wacky ideas and formations and plans and such, but even I think this is a little on the crazy side. That's saying something.”
    She tilted her head. Is it not possible?”
    “Guys focus!” Amata shouted as she held out both hands and a torrent of flames singed all who came within their range.
    “Of course it's not!” Su roared in response. “You think he's got muscles on that scrawny body? Stop looking at his face and look somewhere else why don't you!”
    “Magic does not require physical strength to be powerful Suuba. It requires two very fundamental things-intelligence, and wisdom.”
    TJ smiled wryly as he cracked his back and called in some Arrows of Light. “So what do you suggest I do Chief?”
    Her lips curled into a tiny smile. “Use your newly acquired power. That which your sister has bestowed upon you. With that, giving Suuba the height and distance she needs will be a simple task.”
    “Are you sure that's a good idea Peorth? Has he tested it yet?” Amata asked as she sent a wary glance to the Abellan and he averted his eyes in turn. “This is a bad idea. I can feel it.”
    “I have faith in him, as should you. TJ?”
    “I'll give it a shot. How about it Su?” He asked with a glance to her.
    “I swear to God Ah if you hurl me into something I'm gonna beat the ever living shit out of you.” He hiked an eyebrow and smiled and she sighed. “In other words, don't fuck it up, got it?!”
    “Leave it to me.” He placed his guitar on his back and took a deep breath. He held a hand skyward and as he did a sudden surge of wind was exerted from him as his eyes flickered to crimson for but a moment and the golden streak in his hair began to glow for but a couple seconds. “Avartita!” He lowered his arm, placed a foot back and with a single fluid movement, moved his entire torso, his arms outstretched. At his command a sudden force like a powerful gust of wind carried Su from where she stood and catapulted her into the skies.
    Curt and Amata watched in awe as TJ collapsed to a knee and the Governor soared through the skies, preparing another arrow as her ascent came to an eventual halt. At the apex of her rise she let the arrow she had nocked loose and it soared towards the fan atop the castle. The arrow pierced the massive machine, and the card that stood sentry beside it and those that prepared to take flight all looked astounded as sparks shot out from it and it suddenly exploded, breaking off a piece of the castle and eradicating all that were too close to it. As the governor descended she turned into a series of spheres and returned to the Heart of Yggdrasil, then emerged briefly after while her companions fought off the final Agasura.
    The Treasure Hunter pulled his dagger out of the final card and regrouped with the others-TJ sat on the floor with Amata leaning against him, her staff across her lap. Peorth scoured the area and Su stretched.
    “Impressive,” Amata said.
    “It's us. You're gonna be perma-impressed if your expectations are that low.” Su muttered with a snort.
    “Thanks Amata,” TJ chuckled. “I'm actually kinda impressed myself that we managed to pull that one off. Su was flawless but...I need to do better. I have Avaritia's power but just that alone drained me.” It was handy, but becoming better with that power was costly. As Vanir had said, his affinity for the sin would grow the more he used it, but he would also strengthen the blood bond, becoming more of an Agasura. Was his desire for strength greater than his fear of himself? Did he fear his enemies more than himself?
    “You need not be perfect in all aspects, TJ. You have a myriad of talents, but mastering them all at once will be a difficult task. Give  yourself the appropriate time to do so, and hone your skills to a fine point with the time you're given. Think of the battle with Agasura King Asmodeus as the last moment to which you will have to be at your strongest. Alas, you need not fight alone.” The guild master smiled, both her lips and eyes. “We are here. All of Yggdrasil, and those who know of me will be at your back.”
    Amata gave him a pat on the shoulder which quickly turned into her using him to rise to her feet. “Her highness is right TJ. We're in this together now, and even if there are people who don't like you, at least you've got us. The God's Governors are a pretty big deal, you know.” She said with a grin. “On the bright side, for a first-time that was pretty good, and you're gonna have a lot of those powers in the near future. Don't expect to master everything in a day. Took me years to master awakening and it still bleeds me dry.”
    He rose to his feet and stretched and let out a slight chuckle as Su stole a glance at him. “Thanks for the pep talk guys. I think I'm ready to go on.”
    “All set then? We're almost at Cookie Garden. Hang in there ladies.” Curt said with a wave of his hand as he spurred the party onwards.

    Curt took a running start and jumped to a drum that levitated between where they stood and where they wanted to be. “Right this way! Also if you don't like heights I wouldn't recommend looking down.” He commented.
    “Well that was certainly helpful. Got anymore oh-so-useful tips in that head of yours?” Su muttered as she hopped across after the guild master.
    “You're picking a fight with the wrong guy.”
    Amata jumped across and TJ followed after holding to her back before he accidentally knocked her over, or fell off himself. She looked at him over her shoulder and he shrunk away slightly out of fear she would get mad, but instead she let out a gentle sigh. “You're not good with heights are you? Here, c'mon.” She offered him a hand and he took it. “We'll both jump across on the count of three. I won't let you fall, and if you do I'll fly us back up, so stop giving me the puppy eyes already.” She counted it down and jumped across with the Abellan in tow, joining the others at the other side.
    “Didn't know you were afraid of heights TJ. You've done some pretty ballsy things despite that.”
    TJ knit his eyebrows. “It's not that I'm afraid I'm just not...I just don't like them, is all,” He answered.
    Amata chuckled, “You're a terrible liar you know. Stick to being honest. It suits you better.”
    “Well let's not hang around too long. The sun's setting and we're burning daylight as we speak.” Curt said moving forward. As they moved on they found themselves at another dead-end. The Treasure Hunter walked to the edge of the landing they were on and jumped off without a second thought. TJ followed after him and glanced over the edge, to find Curt just a few feet below them and hurling a knife at an Agasura that seemed to be below where they stood. “This way guys.” He jumped from there to the landing below them and the rest of the team followed suit.
    As he reclaimed his knife they went on ahead to join him and Peorth looked over the landing they now stood on. “You may all go on ahead that way. I will meet you at the bottom.” She told them.
    “It looks pretty far down Chief. Be careful, okay?” The Abellan knit his eyebrows. It was unlikely that there was much need for his worry. He had seen her jump down from greater heights and still rise without a scratch, but he could not hide his worry.
    “I will be alright TJ. Your concern is appreciated nonetheless.”
    Curt climbed down a nearby ladder at the opposite end of where they stood and Su followed behind him. TJ looked down while Curt stopped in place and waited for the Heart Three patrolling to pass by, and moments after it did Su leapt from the ladder and knocked it to the ground before slicing an 'x' into its back. A moment later the Spade Five that saw the event was knocked to the ground by Peorth's foot and executed. The other three came down shortly after and rejoined with the others. The group continued on, climbing a pair of large steps to where they found another landing before a levitating drum.
    “Stand back.” Amata said as she took to the vanguard and hurled a pair of fireballs at the Spade Five that stood on the landing. Before it could run it burned up into embers and its spear fell to the ground. “All clear. I assume we just need to get up there now?”
    “That's the gist of it,” Curt answered. The party moved onward, jumping across to the landing and onto the drum. Curt stopped there first, and crouched down as the card on the final landing approached and caught a glimpse of his companions. It jumped from the landing to where he was and as it came down he caught it with a rising slash and split it in two. The pieces of paper floated down beside him and the spear fell also, alerting the others beneath them. He looked down, blinked, and swore before jumping across in a hurry. “We gotta move it guys!”
    Peorth nodded solemnly and charged ahead, jumping from the drum to the landing with skill and ease. She was followed by Su, then Amata and TJ followed up with the rear, but remained frozen on the drum.
    “Come on, jump!” Amata shouted to him.
    He looked back to the cards scrambling up the ladder and to what awaited below, and he began to feel dizzy. Memories of his fall in Kimara, the throbbing pain after being repeatedly stabbed with a crossbow bolt and the decisive moments as he and Choen Palm came crashing down to the ground in a jumble of broken bones and blood. His legs trembled and his body completely froze. Her smile-the final bloody smile she gave him haunted him, his vision fading to black, all of it.
    “TJ you must jump!” Peorth's voice brought him back and he looked to her, the desperate and worried look on her face. It urged him to move forward, to take that step, and so he did...but he slipped. The moment his foot touched the edge of the landing his heel fell away from it and he began a rapid descent down before a hand caught his.
    “You're gonna get yourself...killed! Get it together TJ!” Amata huffed as she gripped his hand with both of hers and struggled to pull him up. Her face turned red and her eyes were tightly shut as she exerted more and more force to keep him within her grip while he looked down, absolutely terrified. Curt and Peorth ran to her aid and started a chain of pulling to bring the Abellan back up while Su fended the cards off with Shattered Berg. Once TJ was back on the group fell back and Amata set the edge of the landing aflame as they all fell away.

    The sun had just about set over the horizon and twilight began to settle in. After walking for a brief while to the edges of the park at what seemed a safe distance from the Agasura the group stopped running to take a breather. Peorth approached TJ with a worried look and he averted his eyes with a look of guilt in them.
    “TJ, would you tell me what it is that ails you? If it is to this degree I fear greatly for your safety.” She told him as she placed a hand to her chest.
    He opened his mouth to speak but his eyes shifted to his companions, Amata giving him a certain appraising look, and by that he knew what she would say, and even more so what she had expected. His strong front would do him no good, but he feared speaking of those matters. What he had experienced then, he knew the reason for it but something in him was still trapped by it, and he had not overcome it yet. To add insult to injury he had seen that glimpse of his past with his meeting with Peorth and his being confined. The voice then too, was hers, from when she was a young girl. What had happened? Considering his nature-who he was, is, and is going to become, perhaps it was for that very reason he was locked away. Deep down he was a monster, and sooner or later that very thing may be what brings harm to his allies. He had gained more control over it than he had in the past, but were they any safer in his hands as an Agasura than when Choen Palm had control over him? Peorth's piercing sapphire eyes retained their focus on him and he felt like he would crumble and spill everything before her.
    “I...” He began. I'm going to hurt you. “I'm just a little afraid of heights, is all.” So kill me before I become the next Agasura King. “So I can be a little jumpy when it comes to those.” He chuckled gently as he rubbed the back of his neck. I dunno if I should know more about all of this. “I dunno if I'll get over it soon, but I'll work at it.” He smiled as brightly as he could, but his eyes could not follow, though unaware of it he looked like he was on the verge of tears. “If that times comes though, it'd certainly be better for all of us huh?”
    There was a brief silence, but Peorth broke the silence as she smiled gently at him and said, “Yes, perhaps you are right.”
    “Hang in there TJ. I can give you some pointers on overcoming those fears of yours.” Curt told him with a grin.
    Amata sighed, “Whatever it is, we'll face it together.” She looked off into the distance to the Cookie Garden. “Redemption only grows further away the more we extend the gap.”
    “Words of wisdom from a girl who won't ever change,” Su remarked.
    “Don't you think it's about time you grew a couple inches? You midget!”
    TJ chuckled. He would have to cherish these times. If his experiences were any indication, if any of them were to die, it would likely be by his own hand. Some way, somehow, he would find a person or a way for the Cerebians to go on and defeat Asmodeus, whether he was there or not. They had the potential to be incredible-he felt certain that the legends were a thing of the past. He wanted all of them, every last one, to have a future. For that, there was no sacrifice to great, and no extent that he would not be willing to go to see that through.

    The group continued on for a spell, crossing over from the hard man-made ground to the crispy cookie flooring of the Cookie Garden. The entire place was like a dream come true! Gingerbread trees, lollipop flowers in a myriad of shapes and sizes, whipped cream bushes and mountains of cookies, along with a mountain made of cookie dough. Massive bowls of ice cream and graham crackers were littered across the entire garden, along with candy canes that stood tall and proud and Chunsik shaped gingerbread men. There were even mounds of muffins and bread, accompanied by pies big enough to fit a whole family of people and then some.
    “Is this it?! The Cookie Garden? It's...it's beautiful...” He started tearing up at the sight, both hands clasped together.
    “Just looking at this place makes me wanna throw up.” Su muttered as she placed a hand to her head and shook it. “We're setting up camp here right? If you need me call me. I'm taking a break.” Su returned to the crystal while TJ plucked a lollipop from the ground and licked it with delight.
    “I kinda agree here. This is my first time here and I feel like I'll get a toothache if I stare too hard.” Amata muttered as she crossed her arms and closed her eyes, a weary look on her face.
    “It is certainly...colourful, I must say.” Peorth added as she glanced across the area. “Even the Agasura are consumable, it seems.” In the near distance a pair of aqua popsicles, each with a face ran side by side via their sticks, and there were more of them. “Nevertheless, time is of the essence. Let us have our camp set up before the night grows nearer.”
    Where they stood was on a platform that stood a fair height over the ground floor of Cookie Garden, solely made of chocolate covered tarts, cookies and ice cream sandwiches. Amata yelled at TJ's Heart of Yggdrasil for Su to come out and 'make use of herself' and the five set up camp for the night, in two tents. One for the boys and the other for the girls.
    TJ set up his sleeping bag and smoothed it out carefully as Curt laid out his coat and removed the knives from it, carefully putting them away and checking his stock of weapons.
    “You sure you're alright TJ? You gave us one hell of a scare back there. Bad memories got you down?” He asked, possibly for the sake of conversation, but there was concern in his voice nonetheless.
    “Mm...no problem! I've faced a lot of bad things before but you know, I always bounce right back! I'm sure that'll pass too, just like everything else.” The chance of that passing was possible, but his becoming an Agasura was inescapable. It was necessary, and he feared it with the bottom of his heart.
    “Optimistic as always. Glad to hear it! Just try not to space out when Agasura are coming to impale your butt with spears. There are some things that bandages can't fix.”
    The Abellan laughed. “Well, I don't think we'll come across any enemies with spears here. And if they do have them...well, maybe they'll be wafer sticks!” There was a twinkle in his eye and Curt laughed dryly.
    “I never knew you had such a penchant for food. You're a real surprise bag.”
    “A few surprises in life can make it really interesting, I think.”
    “That so?” Curt chuckled gently as he turned back to what he was doing.
    “Excuse me.” Peorth's voice chimed as her head appeared at the entrance of the tent.
    “Ah!” TJ shouted as he placed a hand to his chest and the Treasure Hunter fumbled around in his bag.
    “Do-don't scream like that. Scared the shit out of me.” Curt said as he let out a sigh of relief. “And you should really knock first, guild master.”
    “My apologies,” She answered coolly.
    “So what brings you to our tent anyway?”
    “Perhaps it is rude of me to impose in such a way, but may I speak to TJ privately for a brief time?”
    Curt blinked, closed his bag and walked towards the entrance where Peorth vanished for him to make his exit. “Take all the time you need.”
    The sound of his footfalls slowly fading away made TJ's heart race. It sped up even more when the guild master stepped into the tent and crouched down near him before she asked, “May I?” TJ swallowed hard, nodded gently and watched as she lowered herself into a sitting position, her long slender legs over one another beneath her dress as she closed her eyes and got comfortable. “Now then, perhaps you may consider this intrusive of me, but as guild master I feel that your concerns are mine also. You need not do so now, but whatever it is that ails you, especially today, I wish for you to confide in me. I wish to help you overcome those fears in anyway possible. Is that not possible?”
    He opened his mouth to speak and pursed his lips-those earnest eyes that looked right at him were too much for him to turn around. He rubbed his left arm gently as he recalled the night they spent together, the feel of her touch, the sound of her voice. If it was just that, he could talk to her about it. “It's...I guess it's about what happened at Kimara. Those moments before I feel unconscious I just...I guess they're haunting me. But it's not just that, something feels off.” That sickly feeling he had felt was one that was reminiscent of Choen Palm using her shard of the Heart of Yggdrasil on him, and though he had no definitive proof or a reason as to why, he felt her presence growing. “It might just be the Instance Dungeon here, but I haven't exactly felt...right. It happened a long time ago also but..” He shook his head. “Well, it passed. I think as long as I'm careful about heights I'll get along just fine.” Would overcoming that pacify his distinct fear of the Heartbreaker?
    Peorth took his hands and his mouth fell open. “TJ, what had happened at Kimara, I must apologize. I too, was responsible for the events that played out that day, but I shall not make that mistake a second time.”
    “H-hold on Chief. You already apologized for that you know!” He sputtered as he averted his eyes. “Besides it was my decision in the end. Perhaps it wasn't the wisest decision but...somehow just outright killing her doesn't sit well with me. Even if I could do it now I...I don't think I can.”
    The guild master's lips curled into a tiny smile. “You are not the only one that feels that way. Many, many Cerebians feel exactly the same way, as do I. For that reason, we must go forward with confidence.” Her smile faded and her expression returned to normal, but just by that alone he could tell that she was serious. “If there is anything I can do for you, then I shall. But I do not wish you to rush into your growth without the proper preparation, hence I have carefully watched over you. For that reason...no, I feel certain already that you have grown substantially. You had lead the party excellently in the Pharaoh's Chambers, and returned victorious. Even before that I felt that you were ready, so allow me to raise your rank, if you feel that you too are prepared.”
    He blinked slowly, taking the words in. A small part of him wanted to jump for joy, but he withheld that desire and gave the guild master a nod. “Please do!”
    She placed her legs beneath her and placed a hand to his forehead as the crystal that symbolized her being a guild master took form in her other hand. It began to turn rapidly as the light within it shone brighter. “I, Peorth Emeria Ásvaŕtlim now promote you, TJ and your partner Suuba from Powers to Bashutz. Raise your head and receive this blessing.” As she removed her hand TJ raised his head and his wings spread out upon his back, growing in size as feathers began to appear upon it-it shrunk to a smaller size, but retained the new look and faded away briefly after. “They cannot enable you flight still, but they are much more functional than the previous pair. They should increase the heights that you can reach, and the speeds you can reach when using them.”
    His excitement got the better of him then. “And I've got feathers too!” He said with clenched fist and a wide grin.
    “Yes, you do.” Peorth chuckled. “A wonderful look for you.”
    He chuckled gently, but the smile faded also. “I guess you don't know why I can't fly either, do you Chief?”
    The guild master shook her head. “Alas, I do not, but I shall seek the reason for it with all that I am. If I was to hazard an assumption, it is likely a curse. I know not who placed this upon you, or for what reason they had clipped your wings, but I assure you, I will return this gift to you. You are as much a Cerebian as I, and you deserve that ability as much as anyone else does, but I must ask of you, have patience on the matter, and together we will get to the heart of it. Until  that day comes, and even afterwards, I will be the wind beneath your wings. I know that we will succeed, so long as we reamin together. Do not lose hope!”
    “Eh?! Huh?!” What did she mean by that? It was just what she usually said and yet...he felt rather embarassed by the fact. He knit his eyebrows as his face flushed and Peorth smiled gently. Why did he feel this way around her? It had been this way for so long and yet...he still did not understand it, but he could not bring himself to ask her about this either. He would figure it out, eventually. Perhaps that too, he would find in his memories, or so he hoped.
    “I should return to the other tent TJ. Rest well, as we will begin our search for the Instance Dungeon anew tomorrow-and should you have any other fears or concerns, please, do not be afraid to confide in me. Be it on the battlefield or off of it, I am by your side.”
    “Y-yeah...thanks Chief. See you in the morning. I-I mean good night!”
    At those words she had stepped through the entrance but peeked through it once more to offer him a kind smile. “Yes, good night TJ.”
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Fri Jun 19, 2015 1:17 pm

    It's been a while! I could tell you the whole spiel but it's not worth telling. INSTEAD, you can watch this, because it's important. So very, very important.
    The Truth of the universe. This is it.:
    I am 100% serious about this. Now that your mind is open to the infinite possibilities contained in that bread, shall we?

    This week, there's a lot I have to cover, leaving aside the regular week's review, I'm gonna talk about some things I have planned for the future, so as you'd expect it could be considered spoilers, so read it if you really wanna know but don't mind spoilers. I'll put it under its own tag so you'll know.
    A bunch of gay babies+Curt:
    You know, whenever I look back and I see Amata and Su fighting I have mixed feelings about it. It's weird, I know. I always ask myself, "They got along before, why stop now?" but when I think about it, well I suppose I have to remind myself. It's just how they are-it's what they do, and though they might spend all their time fighting each other it might be even weirder for them to get along on a regular basis. Friends, but rivals. Throughout this there will be a lot of name-calling, insults and reminiscing, but in that way they'll get a little closer. And possibly kill each other but hey! At least they're friends!

    Idk if this is a spoiler or not. The part where TJ and Amata talk about Peorth probably raises eyebrows. In truth, we all know how TJ feels about her, everyone but him. As for Amata? I didn't intend to imply that she had a thing for Peorth, but after thinking it over I kinda prefer it! She may have someone else in mind already, but ship-teasing is so fun. And fitting. Hoist the rainbow flags boys! Jokes aside, having characters that swing more than one way opens a lot of options. Some do, some only go one way but it's not all in the same direction. You could probably strike a guess or two at some of the characters, blatantly obvious ones aside(I'm looking at you, Kooh and Freya) but there are a lot of possibilities.

    Another important thing I need to keep an eye out for is TJ and his songs. I'll probably only have him do them once in a while, 'cause he IS a bard. They even made a joke about it. Though I suppose that was me poking fun at myself a bit, 'cause I did forget while I was writing it, so he didn't do it at the start of the venture. Working on that. That aside, having him do it too often could probably make it unnecessarily...you know, unnecessary. Might do it twice or so a venture, at the start, and before boss fights. Some spells have a shorter duration, so they'll happen more frequently. For example, Peorth's Valor is a one use thing, so after she performs her stance she'd need to use it again to activate it.
    Also I realized I put Su was fighting with a shield. IIRC she doesn't have one. Or rather she opted out for not using one, since it doesn't really suit her style.

    I've given Amata's character some thought, and that point where she theorizes the potential effects of their actions is where it shows. Most of the time she comes off as a bit hot-headed, but one of her good points are there are times where she calms down and can talk/think things out rationally. Sometimes even moreso than her comrades. I think a major part of her character growth would be overcoming that one great weakness. When it comes to battles, she typically gets really riled up alongside Su, but I'd say that's more in the respect that she gets excited. When she's angry, on the other hand is where she really loses it. Take the battle in the Pharaoh's Chambers for example-the first one. She usually uses her spells in moderation because of how much mana/SP fire mages consume. When she and Su got into that fight she let all hell break loose and started throwing out much more powerful spells, but in turn she had wasted a lot of her stamina quickly. Looking at it in another light, it goes back to her talk with TJ, and even more so her shenanigans in USSR. She's having a hard time finding her way around as a God's Governor, but also in becoming an adult. Coming to terms with love, saving the world, growing up and understanding herself.

    There are a looooot of jokes in these scenes. A lot a lot. And a random reference. I've gotta admit though, I think one of my favourites is Curt's when he's hanging on to Peorth's hand. Her non-reaction just makes it all the more savoury. Magnificent. Su is the real MVP of Chunsik Tunnel though. Everyone's finding themselves in some trouble or another and she jumps in to fix everything. Where would they be without her? Seems to be a running thing actually lol. From waaaaay back. Looks like saving TJ's bacon on more than one occasion had prepared her for the worst.

    I suppose a thing worth noting is a bit of a mix in the narration. It typically follows TJ's PoV as we all know, but when it comes to describing places and such, I typically don't use one specific PoV. I keep it neutral, since in most cases TJ's knowledge of the world around him wouldn't suffice to describe the world, and this could be...tricky. To readers. Following it though, it usually seamlessly returns to him, and the story progresses per usual. Of late, every now and then I might throw in something of his, like how he reacts to the things around or something that stands out to him and a thought about it. In most cases you can tell those by the excitement that might be read from the text-it often sounds like something he would say, or a mix of both the neutral and his own thoughts. Just a little something I've experimented with!

    Date? Date. Peorth is pretty sneaky.

    Something I think about a lot is how I would translate the strength of Agasura from the game into a novel format. A lot of the time I consider their constitution, weapons/armour, and abilities. From that I throw together some ideas for possible abilities, tactics and fighting styles. Would they fight together or alone? How would they vary from others? What's fitting for them? Things such as that. Though in game the enemies of Chunsik Tunnel would be weaker than Captain Bong's Land, their design offered them better protection against the team's attacks, hence why they were so difficult to defeat, but not as numerous as the others. The cards on the other hand, are as you'd expect, cards. Fire, sharp weapons and other such things would prove to be a strong weakness to them, so the group was able to proceed through with a bit more ease, up until it started raining cards. I did a bit of brainstorming for that part, and I like the way it turned out. Give it a month or so and I'll hate it and say it was terrible. But anyway, in truth I was actually thinking of having Su hurl a rock into the fan and likely end with a similar result, but after I wrote the beginning it changed a lot, thus we have the end result! I'd considered having TJ use Avaritia's power later, but I feared it might seem like he rarely uses any of his actual strengths until boss fights(like a certain guildmaster, but her reasons differ. Then again, I guess they all do huh? I could go on for days about why they would, but I'll save that for the ch. overview.) but if that were the case his affinity would rarely, if ever grow. In that, lay his dilemma and character growth. Oh yes.

    That short break on 214 where TJ has a monologue is very, very important! I'm gonna talk a bit more about that later, because the premise is built around that very thing but it's also a sign that things are moving forward. Sinners aside, there are going to be other major plot points that will be showing up, or making a return. I know there's a lot of foreshadowing and even more storylines that need to be tied up, but I'll get around to those.

    As for the stones? There's definitely something odd about those. The story often talks about memories, and though TJ is the only one who's seeking his through the stones, doesn't it make you wonder exactly how all of those people managed to get their visuals inside of the stones? I won't tell what this is though, since it'd just be an unnecessary spoiler lol. But it is hinted at throughout most works so you might be able to get to a conclusion. Good luck with theory crafting! Truth be told, the game does have its own reason for it but that's not something I had retained, since I knew what I wanted to do with it. Although I did keep the little tidbit as is, both for the sake of preserving it and to mislead just a bit! Classic misdirection.

    You might wonder why Peorth's shard of the HoG always glows when TJ accesses the stones. The reason being, is because he had formed his contract with her. Prior to the CoI arc it had showed memories from his time with both Iris, and Choen Palm also, but since he formed the contract it was solely Peorth, but in the same vein he's also gained a better idea of what happened during his time on Asgard, and he'll find other bits and pieces related to the saints and the Cerebians as the story progresses. The distance between the two doesn't matter there either-it'll work regardless of where in the world they are.
    Still. Jailed. That really sucks!

    Now you might be a bit confused as to why TJ shouted out 'Avaritia' instead of 'Greed'. I'll talk a bit more about the Sins themselves later on, but the reason for that is because the Manipulation technique is separate from invoking the sins for enhanced spells. So as he learns the others he'll use the latin names/his sibling's names instead of the english names. As for using the regular stuff, it'll be vice versa like it was in the Pharaoh's Chamber. So if you ever come across those moments you'll know why it is what it is! As for the Sins, they'll be getting an upgrade! I'll cover that afterwards.

    TJ's part mostly speaks for itself(abilities wise, that is. Thank you Vanir!), but you can see how his character is growing and changing. Actually, I think this part does a little bit too. He's struggling to come to terms with himself still, despite finding some solace in the guild master back in Frequency. Those final moments didn't really show how he felt after because he passed out, but the moment is returning to him as a bad memory, and a trauma he'll need to overcome sooner or later. Those and Choen Palm typically go hand in hand.

    Now here's a big thing that I won't go TOO into detail about, but I want you to be aware of. Peorth upgrades TJ's rank occasionally. Typically you might think, "What's she waiting for? An invitation?!" But we really need to consider her character, the knowledge we've acquired about power and who's hands it's in, and how it can be used. Am I implying that she doesn't trust him? I won't say, but there's a lot more than what meets the eye in this scenario. As always, never judge a book by the cover. I know I've said it before and I'll say it as many times as it takes-we always need to remind ourselves that there may be more than what meets the eye! This too, is one such situation of many that will be scattered throughout the story, and it holds true from the beginning up until this point. Heck, it's even a trope! Some things can really surprise you, so it never hurts to give them a chance. I really do hope that we'll learn to look beyond the way we see things initially and become better people for it, in some way, shape or form. Truthfully I'm really bad at it in certain situations but...it can't be helped. There are just certain things that irk me and when they do...it's bad. Anyway, I hope you picked up some interesting knowledge from this week's update. I'll be back later to talk a bit more about what's new and what's upcoming, and tomorrow I might try and do things from the PoV as an author. Until then!
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    TJ

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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Fri Jun 19, 2015 6:25 pm

    Now this is a little something I've had in the works for a while now. To give you a better idea of how things came to be lemme step back a little before I get into it.
    Essentially, Frequency always had a weird way of going about its character arcs. The arcs were typically broken up into short term adventures, such as Toad Island, the City of Iron, the first and second raids on Kimara and such things. As for the characters, their stories unfolded as the story progressed, but never truly concluded. The reason being, of course was that they would continue in Sanc. At times, in stories or games and other forms of media, a character arc would likely happen all at once, and once its over well...you know, that would be that. They'd have their moment in the sun, and the story would progress but it would change them substantially. Frequency was a little bit like that-there were certain moments like TJ coming to understand that he could change, despite being an Agasura or Su and him having the conversation and she realizing that she could do so much more that she thought she was capable of-let alone how necessary her abilities were. These were not definitive conclusions to their stories, but major growths for their characters.
    Now let's jump to the present. There's a whole host of new characters being introduced, storylines ranging from Frequency to USSR, and still the inevitable battle with Asmodeus in the future approaching. A lot of characters have problems to face that may be related or unrelated to one or two other characters, and though it might not be necessary for TJ to jump into the problems and intervene, in doing so he can acquire new allies, some of his memories and new spells/abilities. On the flip side, he could change the fates of those characters who get involved with him, potentially saving their lives, turning the tides of battles and helping them to change in some way or another. I'd rattle off some examples but I'm gonna do a giant spoiler tagged list so you have a good idea of what I mean. Forgive me if it's bad because it's still a rough idea right now, but this is it! So let's get down to it!

    (I can't fix one of the tags so deal)So for starters, and since it's the easiest and most obvious I'll start with TJ's. I've broken up each characters 'arc' into a category called a 'Fate'. You know, "Change the fate of the Cerebians and you will change your own". Does it hold true here? We'll have to find out! Each will be named, and I'll mark who it pertains to, and what Fates might be a sub-category of it. It sounds confusing yes, but in essence it's simple, I promise. Just in case, mad spoilers. Seriously.

    The North Star(All):
    To save the world the Sinners must be defeated and integrated, the shards of the Heart of Yggdrasil must be reclaimed, and Asmodeus must be brought down. To do so, the strength of the Abellan is required, but as he is now he won't be able to defeat Asmodeus. Joining forces with Cerebians all across Jienda is necessary in order to see this mission through. (Completion will allow for TJ to Awaken)

    Trials of the Governors(Suuba, Amata, Kooh, Freya, (TBA):
    In order to unlock his hidden powers, the five Governors must come together after hundreds of years and return to the land that was hidden deep within the sea, Xenadia. Prior to this, they need to return to the temples that once belonged to their ancestors and face incredible trials to receive the mark of a God's Governor who is ready to face the trial of awakening.(Completion will unlock the 'Metamorphosis ability for TJ.)

    The Hunt Begins(TJ, Su, Kooh):
    In order to summon and defeat Asmodeus, sacrifices to him must be made to allow the corporeal form of the sinners to manifest through Luxuria. In defeating them and integrating them, TJ's Agasuric blood bond will grow strong enough to allow him to rival and defeat the Agasura King, and in doing so take his throne as God Ah's Right Hand.

    Family Reunion(All):
    In order to complete his objective the Sinners must be defeated. By the sacrifices they will appear, and so will a dungeon that corresponds to them. A party must be formed with the Abellan, and the dungeon sought out and destroyed along with its Guardian. In doing so, TJ will acquire their powers and the release of a Saint. (This fate is also for a unique skill to TJ. It does enhance his Synergism skill, but in gathering all of the Saints, he'll unlock another version of it-the second version will allow for him to summon Amae's Keruz, the original Seven Saints.)

    This Generation's Governors(Suuba, Kooh, Amata, Freya, (TBA):
    [Trials of the Governors] must be completed for this fate and will unlock the 'Awakening' ability for all God's Governors.

    Prodigal Legend Kasumi(Suuba)(TJ):
    Su wants to return to Xenym to find out what had happened to it, and what her predecessor had done and why. In doing so, she feels that she'll gain a better understanding of what it takes to be God's Governor of Earth, and why her parents had abandoned her when she was a child.
    Goddess' Governor Suuba(Suuba)(TJ):
    Su wishes to return to Hanamah to seek out whatever remains of her family is left, and the ring that she had so prized as a child. By extension, she wishes to visit Terramane's Temple to take her test to gain the mark of her ancestor's approval.(Completion of this fate will allow Su to summon Julius' familiar Bane for an assist attack.) Should Su visit Vanir following the completion of this fate, she can acquire the 'Infusion' ability-once performed, the effect cannot be undone.

    Tempered in body and mind(Amata)(TJ):
    Amata wishes to return to Mezzalone with TJ to introduce him to the friend she loved so dearly. With his help she feels that she can finally make up with her and overcome that which made her feel that her spirit was not tempered enough to face the trials of her ancestor Rayinth.

    One in body, one in mind(Kooh)(Freya)(TJ):
    The two Governors had become one in order to save Queen Peorth, and now for the first time they need to work together to defeat their ancestors Undine and Dione. (The decisions made during this Fate will transform Kooh)
    Anything for you(Kooh)(TJ):
    Kooh's love for Peorth knows no bounds, but only one thing stands between her and that wish coming to fruition. Before she gives up, she needs to ascertain whether TJ's feelings are true, and whether he could be the one that she needs.
    You, I, and the Little Lamb(Freya)(TJ):
    The truth to Freya's feelings towards TJ must come to light, and an answer must be given before she can find peace. A choice must be made here-will TJ answer to her feelings? Or will he stand beside someone else? (Completion of this Fate will decide Freya's. If TJ sides with Peorth, Freya will become a part of Kooh's psyche, permanently becoming a part of Kooh's personality and allowing for Kooh to access the powers of Undine/Freya.)

    Knock on Wood:
    To be announced with God's Governor of Wind.

    A Bastion of Hope(Reina)(Samson)(Salem)(Suuba)(Skuld):
    Many fought and died in the battles against the Dark Moon and it's supporters, but over the years their numbers have dwindled and their forces weakened. With the help of Yggdrasil, Bastion may be able to deal a final decisive blow to their longtime enemy. By extension Yggdrasil will be able to destroy the Moon of the Sixteenth Day and prevent the Dark Moon Princess from being sacrificed.

    Best Cuppa Joe you never had(Vanir)(Skuld)(TJ)(Suuba)(Axle):
    Vanir has two major concerns. The first, keeping his students Reina and Salem alive. By his request TJ has the option to join in their final raid on the Dark Moon to settle the score before the Eternal Night begins. The second, is to defeat someone he describes as 'The Asshole Doctor'-should TJ find any information of him and his whereabouts, or the monsters he describes as 'Abominations' Vanir would like to be in the party.(The end result of this fate is a secret, for reasons <3)

    The Exalted One and I(Reina)(TJ):
    Reina never thought she would see the day where she would meet the Exalted One, let alone fight alongside her. With the help of TJ and Su, she feels confident that Bastion would not fail in the final struggle against the Dark Moon. (Completion of this Fate will result in the release of the Samurai/Swordsman class, and strengthened ties between Bastion and Yggdrasil. TJ may contact Reina to request reinforcements for raid dungeons)

    Solace at long last(Salem)(TJ):
    With the help of Yggdrasil, Salem feels certain that they could bring the Dark Moon to its knees and change the fates of those both within, and without. With the Dark Moon Princess at their mercy, Salem could dethrone Sun of Moon and put a stop to Owl Castle before they can plan a counterattack, or repeat the nightmare that had occurred when he was young.(Completion of this fate will allow Salem to gain power in Owl Castle and add new units to fight for the Cerebians's cause)

    A symbol of fate(Suuba)(Samson):
    The two had made a promise to meet again and after seven long years the two are reunited for an epic joint adventure. And a suplex that was a long-time coming.

    (I'm gonna use this portion to talk about the Fates of the Sinners...kinda, and to also talk a bit about their abilities. Not the sinner specific abilities, but the Sin effects. Just for a bit of clarification, invoking the sins alone will enhance the effect of the spell and allow for much greater spells, but they will also add different effects depending on which sin is invoked.)
    Father(TJ):
    TJ must face off with his brothers and sisters to find out the truth of his identity. In doing so, he will come to acquire a series of new powers and grow stronger as an Agasura, but may lose one, or many important things in the process. Which path will he choose upon meeting Agasura King Asmodeus, and what is the truth at the heart of the war between the factions?

    An Irreplacable Treasure(TJ)(Avaritia)(Amata):
    "Little is accomplished if we only choose to settle for less. To me, the sky is the limit, thus I can never have enough!" (Avaritia)
    The Instance Dungeon has appeared in the Pyramids and the arrival is causing a stir in Elfa. Two of Ramalda's most prominent guilds are on the case and managing things there, and the God's Governor
    of fire plans on investigating the case herself.

    The Avarice sin is built around the entire of gain. For example, if one was to invoke the sin, they could use it to soak up damage and unleash it upon their enemies, or gather a portion of the mana from spells cast on them or from enemies they had defeated and utilize it to temporarily enhance themselves or use it to attack their enemies. This isn't permanent of course. Buffs would be short term, and the excess mana would have its own pool, but would wear off if it sees no use.

    To be sated(TJ)(Gula):
    "Those fears and concerns of humans mean nothing to us. Things like that can be devoured, and eliminated, as easily as that." (Gula)
    Lucia suspects that a new Instance Dungeon has appeared in the Cookie Garden of Bong's Land and invites Peorth and co. to meet her and discuss the matter.

    The Gluttony Sin can also be used for taking hits, but rather than conserving what's used, it can immediately be traded for increased health, stamina, mana or physical enhancements. Gluttony also specializes in spells with such effects-restoration and maintenance of the caster are the main use of this Sin.

    Everything after that is yet to be storyboarded so I can't tell you what happens yet, but I do have some ideas!
    Worth trying for(TJ)(Acedia):
    "Why bother?" (Acedia)
    Sloth skills specialize in disabling enemies of the caster. Binding, slowing, stopping, all that sort of stuff. Users of sloth are built around having their enemies disabled and allowing for them to be brought to them, or just within control. Users of this typically specialize in mid-long range skills, but as one would expect, don't specialize in their own movement.

    The love of the battle(TJ)(Ira):
    "The only thing that catches my interest is strong opponents. I don't just mean some muscular lunkhead or some loser who can carry a heavy weapon. I mean a real, bona fide champion, and one that I'd relish to fight, and even more so to kill." (Ira)

    As you may have guessed, the Wrath Sin is focused around pure, unbridled force. It gives the user incredible destructive power, and allows them to shift the strength in their body to other places to enhance attacks. (Imagine if all the strength in your body was put into one fist-that would be a pretty nasty punch) It can be used for spells, but it really isn't the strong suit for the users of Wrath. When it comes to spells though, they typically consist of things with pure destructive force, no secondary effects.

    Desire Refined(TJ)(Invidia):
    "If you have it, and I don't then I will obtain it. By all means necessary." (Invidia)
    Users of the Invidia Sin are specialists in using their enemies advantages against them. They can take buffs/enhancements for themselves, turn them into debuffs, and all-around weaken their opponents. In other words, users of the Invida Sin specialize in a myriad of hexes that could turn the tides of battle by making the user stronger than their opponent.

    A waste of time, of space, of air, etc.(TJ)(Superbia):
    "For this world to become a paradise, the first step we must take is to wipe the filth from the face of it and begin anew with a clean slate! Where my siblings may fail, as Father's greatest asset I will not!" (Superbia)
    The Superbia Sin is the toughest of the sins to use. This mostly depends on the status of the user. When in perfect health, without any sort of debuffs and also when winning against their opponents, their physical/magical abilities are greatly enhanced. Typically, users of the Superbia Sin are glass cannons-they hit hard, but cannot be hit as hard or they'll falter. One of the things that make the sin so difficult to utilize is because it's a rather slippery slope-when a battle takes a turn for the worse, reclaiming it only becomes increasingly difficult for those who use this. As for their spells, they're not destructive, but very precise. They strike an opponent's vital points to hinder and/or kill them quickly, and efficiently.

    Who I truly am(TJ)(Adonis):
    "Tell me...do you fear me? The real me? Show me your love, your hate, your burning passion. Let us bare it all, and see who will be who's when this is over.(Luxuria)
    You don't know how weird it is to imagine TJ saying that. Gives me the heebie jeebies. But that's not what I'm here to talk about.
    Users of the Lust Sin are experts at fooling their enemies. They can charm enemies so that they'll turn on their allies, fight by their command, or opt out for not fighting at all. Put simply, users of the Sin are masters of manipulation when it comes to people. It's not just people of course! This works on Agasura, spirits, anything sentient. They can charm it. They don't possess much strength themselves, but with the right enemies in their spell they can easily turn the tides of any battle on the winning side. As for defeated opponents? Well I'll leave that to your imagination.
    So with that said, that's that. Major possible spoilers, maybe not at all. I can't say for sure that all of these Fates will come to fruition, but there are many more I've yet to cover here. This is just a taste of some of the major ones, and some of the subs that are possible storylines further down the pipe. As you can see, new abilities can be acquired, new classes, and the fate of the people involved can change. As for TJ's 'metamorphosis'  ability it's just a renamed version of his 'Calling'. I didn't like the Abellan growth tree's name, since it was meant to be temporary, so I opted out having 'Advancement' as the first stage and swapped it out for 'Calling', then had 'Metamorphosis' take it's place. Anyway, I've been sitting here for far too long writing spoilers so I'll leave it at that. I hope this was of use! Until next time!
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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sun Jun 28, 2015 6:32 am

    Can you guess what time it is?
    TIME FOR AN INDEFINITE HIATUS! YEAH!
    Happy hunting!
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    TJ

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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Mon Jul 06, 2015 12:28 pm

    Pages 222-234:
    The sun was just barely rising and TJ was already out of bed-his wings were upon his back and his hair a snow white as he leap through the sky, a series of Arrows of Light surrounded him, soaring at his command toward a series of icy bullseye upon frozen stands. He leapt through the air and moved in every which direction as he fired the spell at the targets before he would hit the ground and break out into a strafe towards the next. He leapt through the air and spun around once with his second jump before he fired his shot and landed with a somersault and fired another arrow. He got back up and leapt backwards before backflipping once and firing another shot.
    “TJ,” The sound of Peorth's voice caught his attention and he looked back.
    Much to his dismay, he failed the landing and tumbled backwards a couple of times before he fell on his back. He tightly closed his eyes for a couple moments before he opened them to find himself laying down before the guild master. She looked down upon him, blinked, and pushed her skirt closer towards her legs. “U-umm...sorry Chief.” He said as he sat up and scrambled to his feet.
    Her gaze was unflinching. “Are you alright?”
    “Yeah...that was nothin'.” He chuckled as he rubbed the back of his neck.
    She nodded solemnly, thoughtfully. “I see.” She looked upon the targets that were scattered across the garden,  some broken and some still in tact, those that he missed and those he was getting to but had not quite reached. “It is awfully early in the morning, but you have begun practice. That is very diligent of you.”
    He blushed slightly, his wings faded away, eyes returned to normal and his hair turned pink once more as a gentle gust of wind passed. “Since you upgraded my rank I guess the excitement got the better of me. I couldn't sleep so I decided to do a bit of practice...and next thing I knew I was doing this.” He laughed sheepishly. “You were right though-with these new wings I feel so much quicker. That feeling of the wind against my face as I soar through the air...even if it's just for a couple of seconds there's something about it that feels so...liberating.” He blushed slightly and lowered his eyes. “W-well...I won't stray too far from the intended purpose though! Battle practice is my main focus right now. My aim could use some work, to be honest. Had to learn that the hard way, and since I can only use a few Arrows at a time without transforming I need to be accurate. Every spell counts!”
    Peorth nodded sagely. “That is true, TJ. But you must also remember that restoring mana is not simple when we do not have access to the Guild Room. It is not impossible, but we may have an extended stay, so it would be best if you did not use your 'Calling' ability unless you have a distinct need for it.”
    He knit his eyebrows. “Yeah...you're right. But it's the only way I know how to bring out my wings.”
    She cracked a tiny smile. “It may be the only way you know, but it is not the only way to do it, mind you. If you had any doubts or wished to know if it was possible if there was another means, you need only ask.”
    “Yeah I probably should've done that first. Think you can give me some pointers on that Chief?”
    She nodded. “But of course. In turn though, I would ask of you to assist me in preparing a meal for everyone.”

    “Mrrgh...” Amata muttered as she stepped out of her tent. “After sleeping in my own bed it really reminds me why I don't miss the camping li-” She paused as she caught a glimpse of TJ and Peorth staring at her by a campfire and she walked backwards into the tent.
    “Huh? Amata?” TJ asked slightly startled. “Did we chase her away?”
    Peorth raised her index finger and answered, “TJ, the head maid had once told me that the moment a lady leaves her home she is stepping into a battlefield. It is ill-advised for one to do so without putting on the appropriate war paint.” The Abellan blinked slowly. His eyes were focused on the guild master as she spoke-her face, her lips, her eyes and cheeks, and yet he could not see any war-paint. Perhaps he only had a vague idea of what it was?
    “It's times like these that make me glad that I'm a guy.” Curt muttered as he stepped out of the tent with an incredible case of bedhead. “Who needs make up, am I right? TJ?”
    “...Yeah! Of course!” He answered with a moment's hesitation.
    “You don't wear any?!” Amata's voice rang out from the tent. “Just what are you made of?”
    “I'm au naturale.” Curt answered non-chalantly.
    “Like I'd ask you!”
    “You mean me?” TJ asked as he knit his eyebrows. “Why would I need it?”
    “You don't know the struggle.” Amata answered and Peorth chuckled gently.
    “Perhaps it is something you may come to find a use for later on. Some things come with maturity, after all.”
    The Abellan pursed his lips at those words. How many times had he been told he was too young for things? He still had two transformations to go before he would be considered an adult. Just how long would that take, and what exactly did it have to do with war paint? “I don't need something like that anyway...” He muttered under his breath.
    After the group ate they packed up their tent and camping gear and prepared to set out.
    “Is all of our gear reclaimed?” Peorth asked as she inspected their items and TJ hauled one of the bags onto his back.
    “That should just about do it I'd say. We've barely left any tracks that we were here to begin with, next to the remains of the fire.” Curt answered calmly.
    “Let's get going then. It's still early but we can't say for sure how long it'll take for us to get to that Instance. Do you have a map Curt?” Amata asked. He looked at her incredulously and she furrowed her brows. “W-what?”
    “You used my name. That's not something you hear everyday.”
    The Governor frowned. “You make me sound worse than I am. Honestly...” She sighed.
    TJ chuckled, “You guys get along so well.”
    “I am inclined to agree.” Peorth said with a nod.
    Amata hiked her eyebrows for but a moment and decided to knit them instead with a shrug and a gentle laugh. “The two of you are in a league of your own.”
    Curt unfurled a map and held it out for the group to gather around. “Alright guys, check this out. It's a rough sketch of what the place looks like, so I say we follow this path, circle around here over to the mountains about here, and then come back around. We'll do a wide sweep of the perimeter and see if we can spot the Indun around the outer areas. If we don't, we'll camp out and do another sweep of the inner sections of Cookie Garden. Sound like a plan?”
    “That works.” TJ answered with a nod.
    “Alright, let's go. Bring out Su TJ. It's one of the few times she's useful after all.” Amata added.
    “I heard you loud and clear, bitch.” Su hissed as she emerged from TJ.
    “I wouldn't have it any other way.”
    “Shall we then?” Peorth asked.
    “Yeah, let's. Before a fight breaks out here.”
    Curt reached into his coat and drew a couple knives before hurling them at a pair of posicles. The popsicles split into four and let out a long agonizing scream. “Not Twin Icecream anymore now are ya'?” He said with a laugh.
    “Ugh shut them up already would you?!” Su stomped the ground and much to her dismay, she had to substitue earth for rather tough crackers but she could control them all the same. She hurled four pieces at each of the ice cream halves and each was hit and flipped over before being silenced. “Hmm...that felt  pretty good.” She said as she brushed a few stray hairs from her eyes.
    “I can't help but feel that there was something off about that.” Amata muttered as she looked about hesitantly, TJ following down the ladder shortly after.
    “Like?” He asked.
    “Like they were calling for-”
    “Reinforcements incoming! Prepare yourselves!” Peorth shouted as she drew her spear and dropped her bag.
    “Yeah, that.” Amata sighed as she drew her staff.
    “I take no responsibility for that!” Curt shouted defensively.
    In the distance many more Twin IceCreams followed in the wake of others along with burgers, with everything on them, but no less threatening despite their delicious exterior. It was hard to say whether or not the fact that they hopped along the ground or the eyes and eyebrow they had was more unsettling, but the fact did not change that they were approaching rapidly.
    “How do you wanna play this?” Amata asked. “I can probably blow them away with Ten Flames and a couple of other spells.”
    “You can take a backseat. I'll handle  these ones, since you can finally stay out of my way.” She pounded an open palm a couple of times before she slammed her right fist against the ground and caused the land before her to rise up in a series of ascending pillars. Those caught in the wave were flung through the air as Su dashed to the furthest of them all and leapt down to the ground. A cloud of dust was kicked up as the earth before her shattered and both burger and ice cream were tossed through the air.
    “Everyone, let us begin!” Peorth shouted as she charged in after the Governor.
    “You got it boss.” Curt said as he drew his shield and dagger and rushed after her.
    TJ took a deep breath and strummed his guitar, and ten Arrows of Light surrounded him. He followed in the wake of his allies and fired the arrows at the airborne targets as he did.
    A series of flames rained down from the sky while Amata made a wall of flames to keep back the would-be attackers. Those that attempted to go to the right were ambushed by Su and her incredible earth magic-a boulder rolled over a myriad of Agasura and the Governor followed after cutting down those that were not devoured by her dragons. On the other side Peorth swept the flames up with her spear and melted the Ice Cream that neared her while flinging burger innards all about alongside Curt. The two fought back-to-back, mindful of the other's blind spots and flanks. TJ eyed the rear and fired arrows through Amata's spell, eliminating any Agasura that had gotten too close.
    As the fight went on the area began to be covered in ice cream due to the melted Agasura and this made Peorth wary.
    “Perhaps it would be best if we retreated for the time being. I cannot help but suspect that this reeks of ill omens.” The guild master said uneasily.
    “What, are you afraid to slip and get your dress dirty?” Su shouted nearby.
    “You'd pick a fight with anything that moves, wouldn't you?” Amata asked as she hurled a pair of fireballs with a wave of her hand and opted out for firing a stream from her staff.
    “That is a small worry of mine but not what truly concerns me.” Peorth answered unfazed.
    Some of the burgers that were caught in the Ice Cream slipped and fell apart, then stopped moving in their entirety. It seemed that their own allies had been their undoing, and due to it their numbers dwindled rather quickly, save for that which were as of yet to approach.
    “We're almost there. Hang in there guys.” Curt told them confidently.
    What they could not see though, was that in the heart of the giant pool of ice cream a face began to emerge, and following that hands arose from within and trapped the vanguard.
    “Well I hope you're happy Su,” Amata hissed, “now we're all trapped.”
    “I didn't give you the order not to move. You decided that for yourself,” Su said defensively.
    “Is now really the time for that?” Curt asked.
    The pool seemed to move slightly, and all of the burger parts that floated within it were slowly but steadily absorbed into the whole and moved towards the center in small lumps, along with the sticks of the Twin IceCreams. TJ took a couple of steps forward near Peorth and Curt and looked on along with them in horror as some kind of creature took form-a combination of a variety of things that should not have gone together, but could certainly make an Agasura.
    As it began to swell and bubble the Treasure Hunter turned to his companion. “You're still in the clear right? Lend us a hand and get us out of this would you? I've tried cutting the hands, pulling my legs out, but nothing's working.”
    TJ looked down at it and stepp back uneasily as the ice cream seemed to slither towards him for a moment before falling away to join the greather whole. “What should I do?”
    “I would suggest that you freeze it. If we can shatter that which binds us, we should be able to break free with relative ease, without having to worry over the possibility of being caught once more.” Peorth replied.
    “Got it. Hang tight guys.” TJ placed his guitar on his back and held both hands out to Curt's feet before releasing an icy wind.
    “Aim a little higher and I might become a Twin IceCream too.” Curt said.
    “If you become an Agasura...” TJ began with a worried look in his eyes, “I promise I'll give you the end you deserve.” His eyes turned hungry rather quickly and he licked his lips.
    The Treasure Hunter gazed uneasily. “Don't get any ideas y'hear? That was just a joke. A joke!”
    Once the liquid froze he moved on to Peorth and she kept a watchful eye on the creature as it manifested. “We must make haste. There is little time and the others are still bound.” She said. Once TJ froze it she took her spear in hand and chipped away at the ice surrounding her legs as Curt struggled to break a few pieces off the top. “TJ, you must go to God's Governor Amata without another moment of hesitation!”
    “Lend me a hand over here after you're done would you?”
    TJ ran towards Amata who looked exhausted but persisted in releasing a steady stream of fire around her. “What're you doing Amata?” He asked as he began to pant, feeling the effects of the heat just moments after nearing.
    “I'm trying to evaporate this stuff so I can get out of it.” She answered as she doubled over, her staff held against her lap.
    “I can freeze it for you. You'll have to break out but it should save you some energy.”
    “Would you? I'd appreciate that.”
    He let out a sigh before he steeled himself and let out another icy torrent. His eyes darted between Amata's feet and the creature as it began to take form, the sticks of the popsicles came together to make arms and legs, and all of the burger parts coated each-ice cream dripped from every part of the body yet it still managed to keep itself together. “That should do it. I'll come and offer a hand as soon as I'm done helping Su.”
    She grit her teeth. “Bad idea. Lend her a hand and join the others in fighting that thing. If there's more of you stalling for time there's less of a chance it'll come over here and beat us to a pulp. With it's...ugh...body.” He nodded solemnly and ran towards his final companion. “Can you even call those things fists?”
    “Su I'm here!” He shouted.
    “It's about time don't you think? I swear I'll have to build a freakin' stronghold around me just to prevent that thing from drowning me in ice cream.” She sneered. Around her feet was a small pile of biscuits that stood tall and protected her body like a moat around a castle. “Well? Quit ogling me and do your thing already. If you don't that thing's gonna come over here.”
    “Seriously?” TJ asked as he looked up to it and saw as it towered over the guild master and Treasure Hunter. It brought down a massive fist and ice cream splashed everywhere as the two dodged to the side and struck the legs as it moved them and tried to stomp opn the adventurers. The Abellan swallowed the fact hard and began as soon as he possibly could.
    Peorth twirled her spear and batted a part of the legs aside-it was difficult to tell exactly what was contained within the ice cream but the sound of wood cracking against her weapon was a sure sign that she had harmed it. The creature roared and slammed a fist down followed by the second as she leapt out of the ice cream and the hands reached out to get her once more. She spread her wings and flew above it to catch sight of Curt and stopped in place.
    “Curt, I recommend that you fall back for the time being! The ice cream can still bind you despite our initial escape and it is not worth the risk!” She suggested. He looked up to her and gave an acknowledging nod before falling away.
    It was not long before Amata joined her in the skies and glared down at the creature. It reached out to her and she reeled away with Fire Burst. In spite of the spell making direct contact with the Agasura it seemed to have little effect and this bothered the Governor. “That liquid is messing up my spells. I'm gonna have to hit it harder than that to get through it.” She suggested as she frowned.
    It took another swing at Peorth and she flew under the arm and next to it before thrusting her spear into it and pulling it back with slight reluctance, burger innards clinging to the head of the weapon until she cast them aside and flew out of its vision. “If you are to attack, you must find a way to destroy it from the inside.”
    “You might be right there.”
    The creature roared and stomped towards Su and TJ, the latter of the two looking on in pure shock.
    “We must draw its attention before it brings harm to the others! Quickly!” Peorth flew past the head and plunged her spear into it before flying to the left flank and stabbing her spear there too. The creature turned to her and roared, the force pushed her away from it, and flung a couple globs of ice cream upon her wings, making flight even more difficult for her. She persisted nonetheless.
    Amata stayed a safe distance away and hurled fireballs one after the next at it as she attempted to formulate a plan to get her spells within, but the flames she hurled barely seemed to faze it. “Hang back Peorth!” With a wave of her hand, ten flames appeared all around it and at her command they all detonated. From within the embers the creature emerged and grew ever nearer to the pair. Amata grit her teeth as flames started to surround her and thoughts of awakening danced in her mind.
    “Hold out for now God's Governor! If we cannot stop it allow me to do so, but only until the last moment! We must believe in the strength of our allies and plan accordingly!” Peorth shouted to her as she flew closer to the pair.
    The flames subsided as did the Governor's anger and she let out a sigh, both out of relief and out of concern. “Alright, I'll follow your lead.”
    “Well this took a turn for the shitty real fast didn't it?” Su muttered as she watched the creature come ever closer.
    “W-what should we do?!” TJ asked frantically as he chipped away at the ice with his guitar to take his mind off the approaching Agasura.
    “We're gonna need ice. And a lot of it. You can do Shattered Berg, can't you?”
    “Yeah...but at this distance it won't be very good. If I step foot over there I'll get trapped too and we'll both get stomped into ice cream by that thing.”
    Su crossed her arms, then nodded. “I'll make a path for you. Get in there and hit it hard with the spell.”
    “And then?”
    She shrugged. “Hell if I know! I'm just planning on the fly. You think about that when you get to that point.” She grinned. “Alright enough screwing around. Get ready!”
    “W-what?!”
    Su cracked her neck and placed a hand to her wrist to steady herself in place of her legs, then shouted, “Freezing Wave!” An icy beam was released from her hand and as she fired it she arced it vertically, the beam created a fine line towards the Agasura and froze a fair portion of its left leg as it approached and halted it there as it examined the spell. It continued higher into the torso and part of  the face, and when it flew off into the distance she ended the spell. “Alright there you go. Better move while you still can.”
    TJ grit his teeth, took a breath and released his wings. He leapt towards Su and once more to make the jump over her head-he landed and immediately began sliding towards the Agasura, the frozen wall that was a part of its body grew nearer. Peorth and Amata watched in awe to see what he would do, and as he got ever closer he jumped towards it and ran up the leg a couple steps before jumping away and performing a flip to right himself. “Shattered Berg!” He shouted as he flew through the air and above him a massive cluster of ice appeared before it cracked and shattered to pieces, raining ice chunks down upon the Agasura and freezing it in its wake.
    “Now is the time, Amata! Prepare your spell, I will strike!” Peorth shouted to her companion while TJ skidded backwards. She held a hand skyward as she shouted, “Valor!” Following that she twirled her spear above her head as it gained a crimson glow and she pointed it at the Agasura. “Warlord Style Awakening Technique: Descent of the Zealot!” She flew towards it and in a moment disappeared. As if cut by the wind itself she reappeared on the other side of it and turned around only to vanish once more. From every which way a series of cuts appeared, and all sorts of vegetables, ice cream and pieces of wood were flung about before revealing an opening at the center-the wooden frame clearly visible as Peorth too became visible and her spear took up its normal look. “The battle is yours, God's Governor!”
    Peorth's attack had bought her enough time to finish preparing her spell. “Scorn!” She held a hand skyward and a flame appeared above her hand and she closed her fist on it, before hurling the spell into the torso of the Agasura. As the ice cream poured over it and covered the opening once more, the flame within it crackled to life and expanded, the Agasura growing with it for but a few moments before it finally exploded. Ice cream and a variety of other foodstuffs were flung across Cookie Garden, Amata flew out of the way of the incoming frozen treat, and Peorth held out a hand to have her barrier protect her. TJ had slid back into and collided with Su,  causing both to collapse atop each other and have a glob of ice cream fall upon them.
    “Ugh...great. Now I'm covered from head to toe in this shit. And get the hell off of me already would you?” Su muttered as she pushed TJ aside and he fell face first into it. She removed her dagger from its pouch and sighed as she chipped away the rest of the ice.
    “Well at least it tastes-ugh...” He opened his mouth and pulled a tomato soaked in the frozen treat from within. “Man...some things just weren't meant to be.”
    “Boy howdy are you ever optimistic about everything ever.” Su muttered as she rose to her feet and shook off the ice cream.
    “It'd be nice.” He said with knit eyebrows. “Though what're we gonna do about this?” He said as he examined himself, then removed his glasses. His eyes and around them being the only thing not covered in ice cream.
    “What? We could do this.” She held out a hand and a deluge of water enveloped the Abellan, washing away the ice cream and knocking him off his feet. He sputtered as he lifted his bangs from his eyes and glared.
    “Oh haha.” He rose to his feet and snapped his fingers, and a small cloud appeared above her head and rained down a shower on her.
    “Cold as fuck!” She shouted as she stepped away from it and shuddered.
    “You two done splashing each other?” Amata cracked her knuckles before hurling a fireball down between the two. They both stepped back with alarmed expressions and the God's Governor crossed her arms. “I can't really dry your clothes unless you wanna get undressed, so you can warm yourselves up around there. It won't last long, so enjoy it while it does.”
    “If I wanted your help I'd have asked. Though don't bother getting your hopes up for that, 'cause I'd sooner go to Hel than ask you for anything.” In spite of what she said, she still crouched down and held her hands out to the fire.
    “Just because we're allies it doesn't mean I have any qualms about setting you on fire. Try me, I dare you.”
    “Thanks for this Amata.” TJ said as he held his hands out to the fire and sneezed, then sniffled and smiled slightly.
    “Well done everyone. I must confess, to think things had turned out like so was certainly a surprise to me, but I shall take note of this unexpected incident for future reference. Though as I had expected, you all had faced the challenge with skill and excellent teamwork. I had no doubts that you would work out a solution.”
    “You made some pretty good calls there too Peorth. But let's all agree that next time we step into some Agasura goop we get out of the goop first before we continue fighting shall we?” Curt said to which the whole team nodded in agreement but Su, who razzed him defiantly.

    Curt took a vantage on one of the higher platforms and searched the area before rising to his feet and jumping down to join the others. TJ was mostly dry and looked rather satisfied, while Su still seemed to be wringing some water out of her shirt.
    “Well, on the bright side it looks like those first few Agasura called most of the Agasura in the vicinity so we've got a clear path from here to the next Chunsik Stone. If we're quick, I think we can get there and out of here before more of those guys start cropping up.” Curt explained.
    “That is quite fortunate,” Peorth said.
    “I think so too,” TJ chimed.
    Lead by Curt they continued on, and TJ could not help but feel that he was being watched. He looked in both directions and caught Amata staring before she averted her gaze, rather late, but she attempted it nonetheless. He tilted his head and she puffed up her cheeks before turning back to him.
    “H-hey...about those stones...I can't help but there's something off about you and them and I'm the only one out of the loop. So tell me already would you?” She asked with furrowed brows.
    TJ chuckled gently. “Well, if I was to explain it in a couple of sentences...mm, lemme' put it this way. Each one of the stones seem to hold one of my memories. Doesn't matter where in the world it is, I save at all of them so I can gather all of the pieces and recollect my memory. It can be a bit tough at times, but there's a lot out there that I have to remember-now especially. If what Avaritia said is true, there's a lot from a long time before I came to know you guys that happened, and might be really important.” Not only his memories of God Ah and Lady Amae, but of those he knew then and now-of Peorth, of Iris, and of the friends he once held dearly, both Human and Cerebian...and possibly even Agasura. What exactly made one family? Was it blood? Or belief? As he climbed up the stone Amata looked at him forlornly.
    “You've really got it rough, don't you TJ? As the Abellan.”
    “It's nothing I can't handle.” He grinned at her.
    She clenched her fists. “Don't you ever think you're too kind?” No one said a word, and for a spell there was a long, harsh silence.
    His grin faded away as he appraised her for a couple of moments, but his gaze softened and he smiled brightly. “Amata, kindness begets kindness. At least, I think so.” Those words, he had not known where he had heard them, but he felt that they were close to his heart, and so he shared them with her. He reached out to the stone solemnly.
    “Will you activate the Chunsik Stone?”
    “Yes.”

    In a flash of light he saw himself in the throne room of Asgard's palace, the boy standing before the king, both Peorth and Freya looked upon him-the young guild master's eyes were focused on her father and worried while Freya looked rather entertained. In the next glimpse he saw the king with his right hand clenched and placed against his cheek while the other dismissed the child, Peorth on her knees atop her seat next to him with a pleading look upon her face, likely disagreeing with his choice. In the next picture he saw himself being lead down through the halls, the faces of maids and butlers eyeing him with confusion and pitying looks. In the next he saw himself tossed into the cell wikth a loaf of bread and some soup, and the final was him desperately eating what was given.
    The Sound of Frequency brought him back to reality and he closed his eyes for a moment before opening them slowly to take in what he had seen. The sound, once again had weakened and had not bothered him as much as it once did, but instead left him to his thoughts. It seemed it was the king's decision that had him cast into the dungeon, but for what reason? Peorth fought to defend him, but what kind of discord was there between the royal family that lead to that end result? There was so much he was as of yet to understand-it had made him wonder what scars the guild master bore deep within her heart from all of the time he had lost. He looked up and the Chunsik Visual stood before him and began undeterred.
    “Because of the power of the evil wizard, all of the residents of Chunsik Land have turned into monsters! I want to take the people who were fortunate enough to escape to Captain Bong's Castle. Both residents and guards who have fallen under the spell and turned into monsters are attacking throughout the garden! I don't know how long we can resist...please save this location!” The visual explained.
    “Yes,” TJ answered.
    He was engulfed in light once more and as it faded he saw a young girl, clad in leather armour with a wooden mace at her hip and a keyring swinging around her left hand's index finger, her right hand outstretched toward the boy in the cell. “I heard Princess Peorth's pleas so I stepped in and I'm here to bust you out! Let's go!”

    When the Sound of Frequency came back TJ was brought back to the present and time started to flow again. He placed a hand to the stone to steady himself as he looked up at the rainbow light atop it and clenched his fist before gently pounding it against the stone. “Jeez...Velvet...” He laughed quietly.
    “You weren't kidding about that huh? Guess it's got something to do with us not being able to see the visual when you activate it.” Amata said as he climbed down.
    The Abellan nodded. “Mm...you're not the only one. Happens to everyone.”
    She tilted her head quizzically. “So what do you see?”
    He looked surprised at her for a moment and grinned afterwards. “That...'s my secret!” She pursed her lips in frustration before letting out an annoyed groan.
    The party moved forward into Cookie Garden and new Agasuras came into their view. One of the two looked like a sort of  fish-shaped treat and it swam through the air as if it were in water. The other were gingerbread men, rolling doughnuts with a chocolate-covered stick.
    “More flying Agasura?” TJ muttered sullenly. “The gargoyles were problematic enough, but at the very least these guys don't have talons. Still...”
    Su furrowed her brows. “You didn't get the worst of it,” She remarked. “If you ever plan on dragging me back into that shithole either I'm not coming out of that hunk of rock or I'm chopping my braid off.”
    Amata smirked. “Sounds like you guys had quite some fun before we crashed into each other again. We've got a long journey ahead of us, so why don't you tell me about it around the next campfire hmm?” She asked.
    The Governor eyed her warily. “Tell you what,” She began, “you tell us about your dear old dad and we'll tell you about our adventures.”
    Her eyes opened wide for a moment but quickly sharpened so she could glare at her counterpart. “You know there's not the slightest chance I'd ever agree to that! Your negotiating skills are terrible!”
    “Focus you two!” Curt shouted as he fought back one of the fish Agasura with his shield. Peorth followed up from his flank with a soaring lunge and brought it to the ground. She pulled her spear out and an unfamiliar substance remained upon the head. “Thanks Peorth.” She gave him an acknowledging nod and turned her focus onwards, the direction they were headed lead right to the castle.
    TJ walked over to the defeated Agasura and stared curiously at the inside of it. “What is it Curt?”
    “Fish Bread.” The Treasure Hunter answered and the Abellan gave him a puzzled look. “Oh you mean what's inside. It's a confectionary called red bean paste. Never tried it before?”
    TJ shook his head then blinked. “Wait you mean you've eaten these guys? You're really brave!”
    “I didn't eat them I've eaten a non-Agasura version of it. The food came before the Agasura! The chicken before the egg!”
    “It is known as a food called taiyaki. The next time that you pass through Aoich, I must recommend it. Perhaps it would be to your liking.” Peorth said.
    “Ah I see,” TJ said with a grin. “Maybe a little later since we have so many sweets right here.” TJ stuck his finger into the Fish Bread's remains and popped it in his mouth while Curt looked agahst.
    “Do you think about anything other than food? Honestly.” Su muttered with a shrug.
    “I just wanna try a lot of different things.”
    “We'll be back so you can eat the other Agasura later. For now we should keep moving.” The Treasure Hunter suggested. The Abellan nodded in response and the others followed as he went on.
    As Curt lead the team he stopped and readied his shield. “Watch that Gingerbread Man. The second he spots us he's gonna roll that doughnut into one of us.” Peorth took up a defensive stance next to him moments before the Agasura caught sight of them. It looked startled for a moment, ran to the other side of the doughnut with its stick and placed it back underneath in preparation to hit them with it. “Here it comes!” It lifted the stick and the doughnut fell over into its hands before it hurled it through the air.
    Everyone looked on dumbfounded before the item fell between them and trapped Amata in the hole.
    “Are you kidding me?!” She hissed as she struggled to wriggle free. “I can't...get out...quit looking at me and pay attention to it!”
    The gingerbread man ran at them wildly swinging its stick and managed to get a hit in on Peorth's arm but had that very same appendange broken by Curt. Following that her spear broke it in two from the torso down and to ensure that it did not try anything else he stomped the head.
    “We should not let our guard down so easily. Our enemies are all around us, so we must stay close and cover each other's blind spots.” The guild master commented before thrusting her spear over the heads of all three Mages, each looked startled. As she pulled her spear back with a fair bit of force to hurl another Fish Bread aside into a pile of cookies stacked atop each other.
    “Assuming that we're safe...” Amata muttered as she looked around the area. “How about one of you gets me out of this doughnut?”
    Su grinned impishly, seemingly enjoying the sight more than she should have. “Why not take a page from his book and eat your way out?” She asked.
    “I'm gonna hit you.” She shifted her gaze to Curt who had all the intention to help her out of her predicament and jumped away as he brought his dagger down like a guillotine. “Are you trying to split me in two?!”
    Curt frowned. “I'm gonna be honest with you here Amata. That's a giant ass doughnut you've gotten trapped in, and cutting through it using normal means isn't gonna be the easiest thing in the world. You think I wanna be elbow-deep in chocolate and sprinkles?”
    “Oh the horror! The horror!” Su said while waving her hands.
    “Then I shall-” As Peorth began and held out her spear to pierce the doughnut the God's Governor reeled away.
    “You have my thanks but I'll have to pass on that offer.” Amata said as she knit her eyebrows. “Can't any of you get me out without murdering me in the process?” Uneasy looks were passed around, the guild master looked somewhat defeated amongst them. “Abellan, what about you? You seem responsible enough to manage something like this.”
    He pointed to himself and she nodded. “I can give it a shot I suppose.” He approached her and poked at the dough a couple times before licking the chocolate from his fingers while he forumlated a plan. He held out a hand and it was coated in ice, each finger extended further than his own with a sharp end. “Alright just hold still for a second...” She made a grimace at his plan but had requested him, so she opted out for closing her eyes as he raised his hand and sliced through to the point of the claws were still a fair distance from her and aimed straight down, so she was in no danger. He gripped the opening with both hands and tore the rest apart, creating an opening for her to wriggle free.
    “You did it-and without impaling me to boot. Thanks.”
    He smiled gently. “I think the others would manage just the same.”
    She looked to them and back to him. “Would you-excuse me Peorth-trust any of them with that?”
    He chuckled gently as he averted his gaze and scratched his cheek. “...Probably?”
    “You wound me TJ,” Curt added.
    After their banter came to an end they continued on up a nearby ladder Curt drew a pair of kinves and hurled them into a nearby Fish Bread. Strong enough to take the blows it swam towards him and attempted to hit him with its tailfin but only met his shield. As it swam away he ran and jumped for it, moving here and there as it flew around the area, guided by him it collided into others as he reclaimed his knife and held on.
    Peorth turned to the group as Curt frantically flew across the garden. “It would be best if we used Curt's diversion to our advantage! Let us strike while our enemy is not expecting us!” Peorth shouted to the others. She placed her spear over her shoulder as she spread her wings out and hurled the weapon. In moments the weapon collided with a gingerbread man on a nearby platform and she appeared with the weapon in hand, brought a foot down upon it to break it in two and use it as a stepping stone to take off.
    “Peorth's got the right of it. Better to strike them down first before they get the jump on us in this narrow area. Better not to risk falling from here, I'd say.” Amata spread her wings and drew her staff. “Think you two can handle the gingerbread men? Clear a path further ahead and that should do just fine, I'd say. About to over there I'd say? We can get down at that point.” She explained as she pointed to a location a short distance away that would be difficult to reach due to the piles of sweets blocking their path-the only way to get past them would be to go over them.
    Su clicked her tongue as TJ nodded and Amata took off. Su leapt from where they were to a location near where Peorth had landed prior, and as the Abellan followed in her wake, he spread his own wings. Though still rough around the edges, now was as good as any for him to put his practice to work. He leapt twice and came to a skidding halt next to his companion who scouted ahead before raising a hand and forming an icicle. It fell into her hand and she hurled it at a nearby gingerbread man and split a part of his head off before she drew her dagger ands ran down the ramp in the wake of her spell to finish the job. TJ looked up from where they were and caught a glimpse of his companions in the sky above-a series of fireballs flew through the air with burning Fish Bread falling in the wake. Red bean paste and Agasuras split in two fell also as Curt on his fish and Peorth easily cut through the Agasura and continued on.
    TJ took a deep breath and turned his focus to the ladder above him. He jumped to it and pulled himself up as he caught a glimpse of a gingerbread man walking past-he fell back and took cover out of its line of sight as it  walked past, and once its back was turned he leapt from the ladder and called three Arrows of Light to his side. He fired each and they pelted his target before he surrounded himself in light and shouted, “Starfall!” He shot down towards it and crashed into it before he skidded to a halt and drew his guitar. Moments after doing just that a gingerbread man caught sight of him and rolled his doughnut from the landing below TJ and up the ramp to where he now stood.
    “Oh crap!” TJ shouted as he jumped and noted that it was not high enough to avoid the massive pastry. He jumped a second time and managed to escape its range, but gravity got the better of him and he fell down on top of it. He held on for dear life as it rolled back down the rap and crashed into the ice cream sandwich the Agasura stood on, and the next thing he knew both were falling off the landing towards the ground. As he neared it he felt something grab hold of his coat and pull him away from the doughnut. He raised his eyes and caught a glimpse of Su holding onto him with puffed out cheeks and crimson cheeks. She leaned over the landing she was on and held him up, the doughnut and the Agasura that rolled it lay defeated down below. “Su...thanks for the save!”
    “I should...really just drop you...it's not even...that high!” She huffed. She let out a sigh and took a long, deep breath. “Get ready 'cause I'm throwing you!” She let go of his coat and he looked alarmed as he reached out for her hand-she caught him once more with both hands, while she rose to her feet, crouched down. With all the force she could muster she hurled him through the air and fell forward as he ascended. As he flipped through the air and saw her fall, she returned to the crystal and emerged as he both collided with, and grabbed hold of a nearby ladder. She drew her weapon and lunged at the nearest Agasura while he cracked a smile. She always had something up her sleeve.
    He climbed up the ladder and saw a gingerbread man walking away so he leapt from the ladder and towards it while he drew his guitar and bat its head off before tumbling away. His landing still needed a lot of work, but he was getting the hang of it somewhat. As he prepared to get to his feet a doughnut rolled over him. Half-covered in chocolate he let out a frustrated groan and rose to his feet, only to find it reach the end of the ramp he tumbled down and roll back over him a second time briefly after, and back to the one who pushed it. Before he could respond it had happened a third time, but following the event he was prepared for it-as it returned for a fourth he slammed a foot down and the earth cracked beefore him in an arc, causing the pastry to fall on its side. As he got to his feet the Agasura that rolled it smashed its bread stick over his head and caused him to crouch down in pain. It poked him in the back a couple times and he stumbled to his feet with an angry vein protruding from his head.
    “I've had enough of you!” He roared as he took a wide swing with his guitar and broke the Agasura in two. He huffed a couple of times before he let out a long sigh and glanced around the area in case anything else was coming after him. He saw Peorth and Amata regroup and land down below with Su, and shortly after Curt and his Fish Bread slammed into the ground and rolled to the Abellan's feet. TJ blinked in surprise, then laughed as he offered the Treasure Hunter a hand. “You okay? That landing was worse than most of mine!”
    “Never been better!” Curt said as he dusted off his coat. “It's not everyday you get to ride a flying fish Agasura. You should give it a try sometime. Better than a roller coaster.”
    He thought about asking what a roller coaster was, but the idea of rolling around on a doughnut was more than enough rolling for his liking. “I think I'll just stick to flying by my own methods for now.” That, and planes.  Both were relatively safe, and not vomit-inducing.

    They all regrouped and TJ surveyed the battlefield before them. There was red bean paste, flaming Agasura and fires all over. Despite how messy it was, it was much better than the typical bloodbaths he had become accustomed to.
    “It seems that there are more Agasura such as these further in,” Peorth said. “Though this is an effective method, it can be rather exhausting. Perhaps we should take a brief respite to decide how we should move forward from here, and plan out our path?”
    “Yeah that'd be a good idea. Thrilling as that was I might actually split my skull open next time. If that happened we'd have a problem on our hands.” Curt said with a sagely nod.
    “Like the looming threat of a Sinner and Asmodeus isn't?” Amata asked with a hiked eyebrow.
    “Can't kill an Agasura with an open skull.”
    “With or without your brain you wouldn't change much I bet. Should've let the zombies at it back in the Pyramids so we could test out that theory.” Su suggested with a smirk.
    “Why don't you be the guinea pig then?” He sent her a menacing glare.
    Peorth drew a map and began to pore over it, drawing out paths with her finger that all of them could access while the others argued amongst themselves. TJ looked out upon the garden with a growing sense of unease, feeling that something was nearby. Was it more Agasura? The typical kinds very rarely, if ever had a presence-this was stronger, and it felt oddly close.
    “Do you guys feel that?” He asked and their eyes turned to him, a mix of confusion and curiosity. “That energy. What about you Su?” The two shared one body, so perhaps she could sense it too.
    “I dunno what the hell you're on about.” She answered with a bored look.
    He pursed his lips. “There's definitely something-it feels like Agasuric energy. A lot of it, but super concentrated. It's coming from somewhere over there.”
    “Could it be?” Peorth asked and exchanged looks with the Governor of Fire.
    “It's possible...” Amata muttered.
    He tilted his head and Peorth turned to him. “Perhaps your Agasuric nature is growing TJ. With your senses further attuned to it, you can sense the location of strong Agasura-not only that mind, but also the places that they reside in. Instance Dungeons are not well known for giving off a presence, save for the period in which they are created and shortly afterwards. Nevertheless, I must ask that you take the vanguard and guide us towards it. If your intuition is correct, we will be able to reach there with time to spare, and begin our exploration before night falls.” He nodded solemnly.
    Now lead by TJ the party made their way closer to the heart of the garden. In the distance they once saw a fountain which seemed to be pouring liquid icing, but as they followed TJ their vision was blocked by a series of giant sweet treats. Tarts, pies, cakes and other such things stood in their way and they had to slide in between and past many of these things in the Abellan's wake to get where it is that they wanted to be.
    “Is this really the only way for us to get there? I mean, there has to be a better path than this.” Amata suggested as she crawled after Peorth between two slices of bread.
    “It might not be the only way but I'm just following my instincts on this one.” TJ laughed dryly as he sidled between a pair of swiss rolls.
    “On the bright side,” Curt began, “by taking this path we're not getting swarmed by Agasura.”
    “Only an idiot like you would enjoy this kind of nonsense. I'd take beating the shit out of some weak Agasura to this any day.” Su said as she pulled a small piece of the roll off  and hurled it at the Treasure Hunter. “Food fight!”
    It collided with the back of Curt's head and he glared as he turned around, Peorth stared him in the face with a blank gaze. “You want some?!” He grabbed a piece and lobbed it over the queen and Governor of Fire.
    “Can you two not do that when I'm stuck in between you please?!” Amata cried out.
    After walking past a pair of chocolate chip cookies stacked high they came to a road lined with lollipops like spears raised to each other, and to the skies that lead to the fountain, and even further to Captain Bong's Castle, and at the other side a mountain of giant treats awaited.
    “That's it! I'm certain of it!” TJ said as he pointed to the mountain excitedly.
    “What's it? I don't see nothing.” Curt said as he emerged after Peorth, his face half-covered in icing with a strawberry resting atop his head.
    “Maybe we can't see it just yet but...it's there. It's definitely there!”
    “Fear not TJ, we shall not doubt you. Lead us well.” Peorth insisted with a nod.
    He nodded back and continued on across the road. Once he reached the base of the mountain he looked to the top with apprehension, but a certainty that there was something in this area compelled him to begin climbing. At the base were tarts-some covered in icing and others chocolate. One even had the Chunsik-shaped gingerbread man atop it, but thankfully it was not an Agasura. There was a strawberry cake that surrounded the entire mountain, with a large chunk taken out of it which allowed them to begin climbing. The second layer consisted of a myriad of doughnuts and round loaves of bread with an 'x' cut into the top, and at the peak was a doughnut and loaf of bread. Perhaps that was where the entrance waited?
    “So Chief, I hear you're pretty adept at mountain climbing,” Curt said conversationally.
    “Seriously? When did you learn to do that?” Amata asked as she followed nearby, trying to get a grip on a doughnut.
    “During my teenage years. But yes, this is true. Kooh had taught me a myriad of life skills that I require both for survival, and for adventuring. I can assure you that such techniques are something that would serve you well throughout your life as an adventurer.”
    “Oh yeah, kinda wishing I learned that now. But hey, there's something for you to write on your resume. Consumable mountain climbing. That'll impress your boss.” Curt said as he walked across a loaf of bread. The guild master chuckled under her breath.
    “The fact that we've explored the Cookie Garden is more than enough to earn us some credit. Not many adventurers have made it this far from what I hear.” Amata added thoughtfully. “My guild was thinking of doing a guild-wide excursion here up to Captain Bong's Castle.” She smiled slightly. “Those guys love their Guardian hunts.”
    “Why?” Su asked as she sat down in the hole of a doughnut.
    “It helps to take the initiates on tough ventures with the veterans so they can get a taste of the tougher fights and also pick up some pointers and necessary skills for partying with other adventurers. Especially those outside of our own guild. Considering that you and the Abellan are glued by the hip and have a God's Governor and the queen by your side, you probably don't need that much help, let alone need to give it in your guild-assuming that they're all veterans of course. But the others out there can't always be trusted to provide the backup you'd need in a bad situation. If anything happens, sometimes you have to know how to get through by yourself.”
    “Preach it sister.” Curt said with a grin and she glared at him.
    “Teach 'em how to keep themselves alive and they'll be fine. What more do they need?” Su asked with a shrug.
    “A means to protect their party. It might not sound like something just one person can do-in fact, it isn't. It requires everyone's efforts working in conjunction to do that successfully.” Amata replied.
    “Well said, God's Governor.” Peorth added.
    “You're contradicting yourself,” Su muttered.
    “The point is it varies by the party! You have to know how to meet the needs that the situation demands! You can't always go in with the same assumption or you're just gonna get hurt. You'd be lucky if you made it out alive, let alone the rest of those who adventured with you. And trust me, you don't wanna be the sole survivor of something like that. It's not pretty.”
    “Is this coming from experience?” Curt asked.
    “N-no...but I've heard the stories.” Amata muttered as she knit her eyebrows. “I don't doubt any of your skills but you know, just in case. I'd rather not see that happen to you guys.”
    The Treasure Hunter smiled impishly. “Well aren't you just a big ol' sweetheart?”
    She furrowed her brows. “That sounds so insulting coming from you. Come down here so I can hit you.”
    “Guys up here! I've found it!” TJ shouted to them.
    Once the party regrouped at the mountain's peak they all looked upon the Instance Dungeon's entrance. Two gingerbread men stood adjacent to each other, each holding a wafer stick in hand and a long wafter was spread between the two-written upon the chocolate was something in Agasuric, and a gate sized donut served as the entrance-the hole was bigger to accomadate the swirling energy. A series of lollipops in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavours surrounded the gateway, as did the Abellan and his companions. TJ looked back at the writing and after staring at it for a couple seconds longer he began to understand the words.
    “The Gourmet's Valley...” He muttered under his breath. “I guess that's the name of it huh?”
    “As I had thought...” Peorth said as she nodded sagely.
    “Seems like you've gained some new subconscious traits TJ. Makes me wonder what you're gonna learn when you integrate most of these guys.” Amata said with a hiked eyebrow.
    “I dunno...but it's both kinda cool and a bit nerve-wracking to be honest,” He answered.
    “Well? What're we waiting for? Cool new stuff is waiting inside, so move it or lose it sissies.” Su said as she shoved the Abellan through the gate and walked after him. Followed by her the other three entered with caution.

    In the city of Iron a laboratory hidden amidst a series of other buildings: refineries, factories and other such things. Deep within the confines of the building was housed the nightmare that TJ and his companions had fought prior, recovering from the wounds of their last battle and something much, much more sinister.
    A man with sharp features and tousled navy blue hair along with a pair of circle-framed glasses stood hunched over a console. He wore a white coat, black pants and matching boots. The doctor stared down at the console as he monitored her current status-it was only but a matter of time before he deemed it suitable for her to be released from the tube that she resided in and took her first steps into the world after her transformation. He turned an eye to her and found her violet eyes looking back at him. After seeing her asleep for so many months the sight was rather unsettling, but he set the feeling aside and pressed a couple of buttons on the console. The liquid began to drain and as it did Choen Palm was lowered to the base of the tube. Once it had been completely emptied the glass on the tube was raised and she freed herself from the machines that were attached to her, lastly removing the one upon her face and taking a gasp of air.
    “My...how long it has been. I take it that the surgery is complete?” Choen Palm asked, one eyebrow hiked. She was not fazed in the slightest by her lack of clothes.
    “Essentially, yes. I must remind you though, that this is an experimental project. With it comes much greater risks than that of which I am familiar with, so I must insist that you return here regularly in case of any abnormalities. I will perform maintenance on it during those times. As for your current dilemma...” The doctor knit his brows before he turned to a nearby door in the dim room. “Mk. II!”
    A young girl with bronzed skin, long silver hair and wide, shuttered grey eyes entered the room. Likely a young adult, she wore a fitting lab coat, black pants and matching work shoes. She carried a towel in one hand and a set of clothes in the other. Followed by her was a young man with shoulder-length scarlet hair tied in a ponytail and soft hazel eyes entered. He wore a long black pea coat atop a grey suit with matching pants and black dress shoes.
    Choen Palm blinked. “Another Cerebian?” She asked.
    “Oh excuse me my lady. I'd not the foggiest you were dressed so...modestly.” He said as he stepped back out through the doors while Mk. II watched solemnly. As he did so the metallic doors closed upon each other in his wake.
    As she accepted the towel from the young girl she began to dry herself off while the doctor answered, “He is the one who had funded this experiment. As you know, the cells of the Usurper were not easy to come across, and much was lost during the Cerebians' raid on Dark Moon Castle. Though I had lost many of the documents pertaining to the Calamity Trigger, that which I have commited to memory and recorded while performing tests on Mk. II have paved the way for your own transformation. Of course, the reports you have provided on your gene manipulation have also paved the way for seeing this experiment to completion.”
    “Spare me your drivel Dr. Truong. Tell me his name and his purpose. That is all I need to know.” She finished getting dressed and inspected the outfit prepared for her. Mk. II gave a solemn golf clap to the new look. She wore a short white dress with a long navy blue coat that rested against the floor. Tied up at the back, with three belts around each arm, one below her chest and a series of strings that rounded both arms and her waist. The edges of her underdress was visible through the long open sleeves of her coat-it also featured crow's feathers around the neckline and a flower design on one side of it, roses and thorns. Beneath her dress were white fishnet stockings and thigh-high boots with a myriad of straps from the bottom to the top.
    The Cerebian entered once more and bowed down before her. “Auerelius Rosario, at your service.” He took a moment to inspect her outfit before meeting her eyes. “Now I see that you are curious as to why I am a part of this project, correct?” She crossed her arms and hiked her eyebrows to which Aurelio smiled in a charming way, not that it had any effect on her. “You see, I had caught word of an interesting fellow by the name of Vanir, and by extension Dr. Truong, his arch nemesis. You might wonder why a Cerebian would join the forces of those who stand against them, but it isn't that I have conflict with them-the only thing that I yearn for, is the queen's hand.”
    The Heartbreaker was not entertained in the slightest. “If all you yearnn for is marriage, then you should seek out the problem child and ask her hand. It would do you no good to request my aid, as I plan to kill her should she stand in my way once more. In that regard, you should see me as an enemy before a companion, and would have been wise to strike me down prior to my awakening.”
    “Under normal circumstances that would be a possible conclusion, but alas you may be my only hope in this regard. Marriage would be a simple solution to my problems, but under the current circumstances there is a hindrance beyond my control that stands between myself and the reigning queen. That being, the Abellan. I had heard that the only one who could stand up him was you, and this lead me on a journey across Jienda until I had finally caught word of your whereabouts. You needed the strength in order to deal a crushing blow to the Abellan and either defeat him or have him join you, and I need the Abellan away from the queen so that I may make her mine. Our goals conincide, and the only thing standing between the beginning of our beautiful friendship was money. Something I'm not in short supply of.”
    “And you're willing to go as far as jeopardizing your whole world for the sake of one lady's hand? I had heard love can make one do foolish things, but you are in a league of your own.” She chuckled.
    “Ah it is not so simple I fear! I do realize that such a wish does seem base, but it is much more than that. It is her bloodline that I have need of. Only the Ásvaŕtlim lineage can give birth to the next proxy, and I feel that if I can grasp this, I will have power immeasurable. Their clan is not only known for the proxy, but also the twin God's Governors. As you know, according to Dr. Truong he and Vanir are not of our world-there are others, aside from the Nine Worlds that exist beyond the boundaries of our own. With power such as that, I could claim a world of my own with the Queen's power. Jienda means little in comparsion to that which lies beyond. 'Why settle for less?', I've always said.”
    “Hmph. You are certainly ambitious. I shall give you that, but because we are allies do not expect me to assist you in your conquest. It was not at my behest that you fulfill that which I required-it was of your own doing. I have my mission, and yours is of your own concern. I shall remove the Abellan and open the path for you, but whatever it is that you wish you must do of your own accord.”
    “I must remind you that you do have a duty to me that needs to be fulfilled, Choen Palm. In exchange for merging you with your piece of the...Heart of Yggdrasil, was it? You would eliminate the Usurper Heinrichter and do away with his summoned companion as well.” Dr. Truong added curtly, with furrowed brows.
    “Ah...yes...that. No matter. He will be an appetizer before the main course. He is not the Abellan, after all.”
    “That is true, but no reason to underestimate him. He, along with Mk. II served as the basis of your transformation. If there is anyone who could combat you, it would be him and the Abellan. I cannot help but wonder what exactly had prevented Mk. II from undergoing a full transformation like those before her...there was a rather large and aggresive man who had resisted the effects of the Animus Legionem's cells prior to undergoing a full transformation, but eventually had become one despite his body's uncanny ability to fight it. I had used similar methods on Mk. II and a couple of others, but they did not survive the infancy state. Perhaps it is a matter of willpower that prevents them from changing shape? I must perform further tests to confirm this suspicion. Nevertheless, in using the Heart of Yggdrasil in place of an opal, the effects of it will have a much greater impact on your body, so be cautious with how you utilize your abilities, and return frequently whenever possible. I know not what is contained within that gem, but I can say with certainty that it contains power beyond that which I've seen in all of my years.”
    “You may put your concerns to rest. I am Asmodeus' proxy, and in doing so my body has undergone an evolution to strengthen me far more than anything any other human could accomplish with science or magic. With this newfound power, I shall crush the Abellan and those other Asgardian children.” She clenched a fist and grinned. “But first I shall do away with that one you call the Usurper. Where can I find him?”
    “I would recommend that you start in the city of Elias my lady. I have caught word that he resides in the Old Town District.” Aurelius answered.
    She shrugged and smiled. “I've no reason to stroll through the city in search of one man. If he is a man, and one which stands beside the Cerebians he will come to me, if he knows my name. Thus, I shall smoke him out.” As she walked away and the door opened in preparation for her, she looked over her shoulder. “It would be in your best interest if you started making plans for claiming the Asgardian, boy. I will make short work of the others, but I cannot guarantee her life. Nonetheless, I shall consider you an ally, for now.” As she walked through the door she waved and it closed behind her.
    “That is quite the catch Doctor.” Auerilius said. Mk. II gave him a puzzled stare as Dr. Truong sighed and shook his head.
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Mon Jul 06, 2015 2:41 pm

    I hate irony. I really, really do.
    Illuminati Confirmed:
    Don't you hate that moment where you're sitting there, waiting for that fate to appear and then your queue pops and when you start the dungeon pow! Then it's there. Tough life choices. I've been playing a lot of ff14. A lot a lot.
    ...So let's get down to it!

    I do have something to say about where this portion starts, but I'll save that for later because it's super opinionated and trashy. But that's part of what I'm here for, and you are too right? To hear me spew a load of nonsense? I kid I kid, but the first part is true.

    Moving on, you wouldn't believe how long it took me to figure out the lay of the land in Cookie Garden. I was going by how I knew it from S1, and used screenshots from S2, so by the time I had gotten to the part with the Chunsik Stone I was like, "??? What?!" Thankfully I still had some from photobucket so all was not lost, but it was still hella confusing. Anyway, this part was a bit sporadic. I'd considered exactly what kinds of abilities the Agasura would have here and found myself at a loss for a while, but then as I wrote it, it just turned out as you see now. I too, had realized if these Agasura were not tasty treats, it'd be kinda...morbid, wouldn't it? The thought of them screaming unsettled me lol, despite the fact. On another note, I feel pretty good about the dialogue here-sometimes during battle, it can feel a bit stiff, or the characters might go a bit out of character to focus on what's going on around them, Peorth aside(I mean, she's like that all the time and it's become rather endearing). I feel that Su was at the top of her game here, in terms of wit at least, and though it didn't turn out well for the party I think she was great. Reason being, is because after being stuck following in the wake of the others for a time she finally got to blow off some steam and join in the fight, and we all know how much she loves a good fight. Peorth's worry about getting her dress dirty just made it even better. As usual, Amata and Su go at it without mercy.

    You know, this is something I've debated a lot as I started the Seven Sinners arc-I've thought a lot about the fact that TJ would need to understand the Sin itself to utilize it, and just like his evolutions, the more he uses it the more that very thing will grow within him. I'd considered perhaps, that as the story goes along and when the Sinner comes to be he would take some of that quality as his own-the blood bond between he and his sibling is strong enough for him to feel their presence and by extension sense their Instance Dungeon, just as they're reborn from him. Therefore, it only seems logical that he would share in the Sin, especially after their revival. It might not have shown much during Avaritia's, but I did attempt to give it a try here, and by extension make it a thing within the chapter. Whole lot of food! Also for practice purposes, but shh! Curt would make one hell of a tasty popsicle though. ...Would it count as cannibalism if one of the two was a humanoid Agasura? Someone get Hannibal on this.

    In truth, it's not often they use their wings. If you've ever wondered why, keep in mind that they still need to keep their identities a secret. Fortunate for them, the Cookie Garden isn't all that populated at the moment so they can do so freely. The last time Peorth had used hers was during the prologue I think-though on that matter, I had always seen her as the type to very rarely, if ever use more strength than she deems necessary. Hence why she often talks about conserving mana and such things. The prologue showed a fraction of her ability. Might see some of her others in the coming pages/chapters though!

    Every now and again you'll see some new stances/spells from the crew, but most of the time I try to keep the pool relatively small so it doesn't wind up becoming unnecessarily confusing or hard to keep up with. Most of the time they'll use skills they've used prior if they meet the situation, but if I feel that the characters are lacking or in need of growth in those terms, every now and again I might bring in something new. There are of course more things that they know, but you throw 'em all out at once and well...not a good idea. That aside, some have very destructive properties. My matters aside, the characters themselves pick and choose accordingly to meet the situation. I suppose its one of those moments where you let the characters write the story, and see where it takes you I suppose.
    Moving on, the part after the battle was a small throwback to the CoI arc. Even in bad situations, Su and TJ can be pretty childish. They're still young, in spite of everything they've been, are going and will be going through.

    Now then, despite Amata's typical demeanour she's actually a curious sort. She's pretty well versed in Cerebian history(Not as much as Reina but she does know her stuff), mostly pertaining to that of the God's Governors and so she has a keen interest in TJ because of the ties that binds their fates together. Their meeting was only a possibility of many, and you know how she is about her lineage already. The fact that it was her generation that found the Abellan and are to accompany him is a big deal for her, so she's gathering as much information as she can both to assist him, and to see her duty through. She's a pretty responsible kid-when she and Su aren't in the same place that is. Oh but she also asks most things out of curiosity! If TJ had his memories he'd be a goldmine of knowledge but he's as useful as a sack of potatoes in his current state. ...Except he can't be made into fries so...I'd have to take the potatoes.

    So we get some more closure in terms of what happened in the castle. The first implied that it may have been Peorth who had jailed him, though if you recall from TAD(though misplaced as it was) TJ getting jailed was a regular occurrence, and in spite of that he persisted to see the Princess. So much so that he got chased around the upper echelons of the city, the poor kid. But I have to hand it to him, he was pretty resourceful! In this chapter, I wanted to take a bit of that technique he had showed then for two reasons. The first, he's more agile than he may look, despite the fact that he's a Bard and that he doesn't seem capable enough to do it. The second is that TJ and Su share a lot more than just magical aptitude-their physical traits are also shared. As you know, Su's very agile, but also fairly strong for a God's Governor. Which partially explains her fighting style. Her fate will greatly affect that, but I won't say how yet! What I can say for sure is that she can take a page or two from her dear old dad. As for TJ, his magical ability is great but his movement is poor at the moment, hence why he practices and actually shows some promise. If those skills are honed, his Agasuric self will be a force to be reckoned with. Back on topic, we see Velvet again, and she breaks him out. Velvet-papa is actually a member of the royal guard, so you can imagine how she might've gotten her hands on that key.

    Moving on, you might wonder I provided both names for the Fish Bread Agasura. Truth be told, that was both the name in game and that which I used, but it bothered me somewhat. In truth, I figured that if I were a reader, then I would search it up to get a better idea of exactly what it looked like, so I did just that. The results were not quite what I had in mind. I found the song(which became a meme) about fish bread, and I watched it too! Enlightening. But that wasn't what I wanted! So I wound up struggling to remember the original name for it and wound up searching for octopus balls which actually lead me to the answer I wanted. Thus, I decided to include both so there'd be no confusion. It proved unnecessarily difficult, but proved useful for a bit more dialogue.
    The part where Amata gets trapped is so just so perfect. Su's sass reaches a whole new level and I love every moment of it.

    Continuing on what I said before, TJ and Su do share physical traits, but their bodies are still very different. Su has a smaller and more agile body, so movement is more her strong suit than his. Hence, she does not need to rely on their wings to get around like he would, but still would require it to double jump. With them, he could make somewhat longer jumps than she could, but he would move slower due to them holding him back. One of the reasons she doesn't use them. That and she's got some pretty kickass moves and tricks she can utilize with his crystal.

    The next part is pretty self-explanatory but you know, I do have another story of my struggles. So since I started the Cookie Garden portion of the story, I'd stared intensely at the screenshot at a swiss roll in the background and the whole  time I was like, "What is that thing?" It's hard to google food when you can't quite describe it. I'd seen them before though! ...In something I watched. Hence whenever I looked at it I was like, "It's an Oojima roll" and repeatedly googled that in hopes that I'd find the answer through that. Took up to this point for it to lead me to the answer I sought out, but I'm glad that it did. This is my struggle as a writer. The struggle is real.

    The Dungeon has a name! But I haven't designed the Zones in it yet so I need to do that sometime today/tomorrow. The story will continue then, probably.

    Now the last part is the kicker here. A new villain is introduced, Auerilus Rosario and we see the return of Choen Palm and Dr. Truong(The 'asshole doctor' introduced in USSR, now with a name! Yeah!) Along with his lovely and mysterious assistant Mk. II. If you've read it, you'll definitely be glad you did. A lot of the things that had happened there will play a part in the future, especially in the fates to come. At this point, many of the loose strings of each character's fates come together into a tangled web that leads to one point-which is essentially, the North Star. I can't say too much about them, but there are a few faint clues and information that can be gathered there for further theory crafting. That aside, with this you might take a guess where the story will go from here! Hohoho fun times.
    Now back to the IMPORTANT topics, look at this.
    Look at this cutie-patootie.:
    I mean really! When I saw this I wanted to flip my desk. Choen Palm is adorable and after writing her as a villain for so long I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. Still, I had found something similar and used that as a reference for her outfit. They're the same, but I did learn an interesting tidbit about her design! Also it took me a few searches to find what I was looking for.

    Now I know it's more fun not to say too much about it but I am here to talk about it so I suppose I should. USSR/Inno spoilers within so I'll tag it.
    Someone call Sam:
    As you may or may not know in USSR, Dr. Truong made his first appearance in the universe. Vanir had mentioned him in USSR, and the abominations in Sanc. As you can see, the two go hand in hand. I can't tell you what the Animus Legionem is, but it's something those two are definitely familiar with, and something that too, exists in Sanctuary. Now then, in that novel the captives of the Dark Moon(some, not all) were relinquished to the doctor and he performed his experiments on them to create something akin to a Tyrant of the Maelstrom, or at the very least an A-Class Agasura.(I'll cover the classes later in the novel!) Most didn't survive the testing phase, but those that did were those that Samson and co. had taken on while Mira evacuated everyone. These creatures, by all means are what Vanir describes as 'Abominations'. The first sign of that in Sanc was the Muscling, but there were others prior to it. Consider the fact that Vanir knew both Samson and Julius, and even Peorth during her youth.(If you read the disaster that was Innocent, you would meet her and the others) Hence why Lucia knew and mentioned that the Princess was alive and well, along with her group. Back on topic, Vanir's been around for some time now, and by extension Dr. Truong was also.
    Now then, in Inno Vanir mentioned he had done some bad things and he did just for that vengeance, while in Sanc in his quote he had said he had done it for someone. I'll spare you the rest on that, but every now and again he does mention the reason he's in the mess that he's in and why. He and Dr. Truong's fates are tied, so one way or another they'll hunt each other down to the ends of the earth because both stand in the way of the progress of the other. Using the information Truong gathered from TJ during his time with the Dark Moon and Choen Palm, he created the first series of Tyrants, which lead to the second which consists of Mk. II, and finally Choen Palm came last with the HoY. With power that may just rival TJ's(And also strengthened by Asmodeus Dominion) she's being sent out to hunt down Vanir(Also known as the Usurper) and there's someone on the inside circle of the Cerebians with his eyes set on Peorth.
    Put simply, the shit is about to hit the fan something fierce.
    Now there's more I could say about USSR but it's a good read, so if you've got the time give it a look. I'll finish editing and fix the ending someday.

    I suppose there's more that could be said about this but either I don't remember or I have something else in mind. Anyway, I'll take a bit of time to talk about the series as a whole before I go.


    Last edited by TJ on Mon Jul 06, 2015 2:43 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : I was supposed to write about nakedness and forgot. Noted!)
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    TJ

    Posts : 873
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    Age : 24
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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Mon Jul 06, 2015 3:25 pm

    This one's...odd. Goes way back, and well...yeah.
    Frequency Going Forward:
    Ever wondered how the hell things got to this point? Post CoI of course. I'll tell you.

    During the 2 or so year break, I had a lot of time to think where I wanted the story to go. The idea of possible alternate ending intrigued me, and it's part of what lead up to TJ having the choice at the end of the CoI arc. The decision he made there would decide what kind of person he was, what his adventure had made him realize, and what path would be best suited for him to follow in order to awaken to his true self. There were three people, each with their own beliefs, reasons for fighting and causes that they deemed worth fighting for. I'd realized that in Frequency TJ was anything but heroic-he was a fitting character for the me of that time, but as the ending rolled around I realized that maybe he could be something more than just an ass with missing memories. The people he met along the way had shaped a path for him to follow, but even so there was still a bit of reluctance. I had realized that if he was to take another path, Choen Palm's mainly, his character would have to undergo significant changes during the beginning and going forward to justify exactly what would give him reason for siding with her, but it was nothing that I was not willing to attempt. In truth, I had actually planned out three different storylines/novels for each of the possible endings, so I'm gonna share the synopsis/base ideas for it here with you just to give you an idea of what would happen.

    Sanctuary(Order):
    Sanctuary is the first path I had chosen-it is as you see. TJ sides with Peorth and joins her in quelling the teeming evils that plague Jienda. Throughout it, he would collect his memories by defeating the Seven Sinners and get closer to awakening to his true self and his inner strength. With that, he would find a way to restore the Bifrost, return the Cerebians to Asgard and free the world from the Agasuric threat with the help of the Cerebians.

    I can't say too much else on that since it might be a spoiler, but that was the general idea. This storyline would be more story-heavy, focusing on what had happened in the past, what the Keruz were and what they did, and how TJ wound up in the situation that he's in now. It's grown substantially since then, but Yggdrasil would be the primary focus of the story and the bonds that he forms there as he works his way towards defeating Asmodeus. In doing so, he would come to understand what it means to bring peace to their worlds and also the values of love, life and friendship. It sounds corny I know, but consider the circumstances. Understanding the others might reduce the corn a bit.

    This one could be a potential spoiler of Sanc so beware!
    Innocent Life(Neutrality):
    Innocent Life was the second of the choices-it would follow TJ if he decided to side with Iris, and would reveal the truth at the Belos Bar much sooner than it came in Sanc. TJ would go there to find Iris but would only meet with some of her old companions, likely Muwen, Kazno and Van Giwoo. They would tell him the truth that Iris was not there, but not gone either. That she was sealed away in the battle against the Demon King and that she required TJ's help to return to their world. Knowing that the event would come to be, she prepared the letter and had her old  companions send it when the time came that the choice was to be made.
    Thus TJ would embark on a new journey, but this time rather than hunting the Sinners, he would seek out six other humans known as the Iris Seekers, and take his place as the Seventh. Each would hold a key to returning Iris' body to the material realm, and each would be hunting down the others to get the pieces that they're holding on to. TJ would join forces with some of Iris' old companions-those that believe in him at least, and along with Su scour the realm in search of any information he can get on their whereabouts while trying to earn the respect/assistance of Iris' comrades.
    A big difference here though, is that TJ wouldn't be the Abellan, so he wouldn't be able to awaken. He'd gain incredible power with the HoY gathered, and it would allow him to cast away his Divinity once and for all but only after defeating Adonis.
    Ending Spoilers Within:
    Since I don't plan on writing it(By the time I finish Sanc it'll be long past time I write something original. Honestly.) Rather than hunting down Asmodeus, since TJ could not prevent his revival, he would set his sights on stopping Adonis. As the end nears, Asmodeus would make his return and all of the Cerebians would join forces in an attempt to stop him, waging war on Asgard. With the power of all the shards of the HoY, TJ would erect a barrier that would protect all of Midgard from the war that rages on around them, and would join forces with Iris and her companions, along with the rest of Humanity to protect the cities since the Iris Stones would shut down, leaving all the cities vulnerable to Agasuric attack. Adventurers would gather from all around to defend each, and TJ would have a final battle with Adonis, their souls separated allowing TJ to fight him one last time, and cast aside all that which made him inhuman.
    This story would focus more around the bonds of friendship and earning one's trust, but also somewhat around TJ's personal interests rather than those of the people around him. It would be both a mix of story and battles, but with a little less character development and world-building, focusing more around the places that already exist within the LT universe. They'd explore the dungeons that the cast in Sanc doesn't, and perhaps places that they won't either on Jienda.

    Finally we have the last of the three.
    Shepard of the Damned(Chaos):
    Trust me I know how corny the names sound. We've all gotta start somewhere, but it was way better than what I'd have come up with prior to any of this.
    Moving on to the topic at hand, in this story TJ would join forces with Choen Palm, and just as in Sanctuary the two would set out on a journey to hunt down the Seven Sinners and integrate them. Of course, Su would be dragged along for this too. Now here's the kicker-he would hunt down the Sinners, but not for the sake of summoning Asmodeus. He and Choen Palm would turn their backs to their duty, and rather than summon the King TJ would leave him sealed and steal his seat as God Ah's Right Hand. Along the way, the three will seek out the members of Yggdrasil, killing and interrogating whoever they could get their hands on to get as much information as they can on Peorth so that they can defeat her and claim her shard. As you'd expect, his presence wouldn't be welcomed anywhere on Jienda, so war would follow in their wake, and since they need to traverse the continent all of it would turn into a warzone. As Su described in A Moment in Time, tensions rise, Atlantis turns against Humanity and all hell breaks loose.
    Ending Spoilers:
    Once he reclaims the last and final shard of the HoY he becomes a being that could rival Asmodeus himself, and with the Cerebians beaten and broken, Lady Amae to weak to lend them her strength, and anyone who could potentially stand in his way(Both Su and Choen Palm would be killed prior to this) he seeks out the one being that stands between him and becoming a true god. Or the one true god. God Ah himself. He would find him, wage war against him, and lose horribly. The story, like Sanc would begin at the end, moments before TJ's final moments against the being. The story would begin there, but he would reflect on the events that lead up to that point and how he had went wrong in his life, and it would come full circle, continuing from where it began once it reaches that point. As  you'd expect, Jienda would be in ruins. War would run rampant and for any who may have survived, it'd be a struggle for survival against the stronger factions. Not that it would matter much, since they'd likely get wiped out by one of two gods going at it.
    Now then, this one would focus on the sole interests of the MC, his ambitions and yearning for power, and upon receiving the tragedy that befalls it. "With great power comes great responsibility!" And other such useful pieces of advice. This one wouldn't be so story-heavy. Whole lot of fighting though!

    Now you're probably wondering-what use would any of this have now? Why's he telling me about this? Idk either. Somewhat.
    In truth, I've thought a little about it, and though ridiculous some of the bits and pieces of them are, I'd realized that perhaps they could still be of use. Though unlikely, some plot points from these might find their way back to Sanc in a new shape and form, and see some use. I have one in mind for sure, and though these are but the skeletons of the plots, I did consider some things during them, and some of them still exist in Sanc to this day. It's all old stuff, really, but I guess it'd be better kept somewhere than lost to the whims of time. ...And old age.
    That's all I have to say for today. Until next time!
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    TJ

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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sat Aug 01, 2015 5:58 pm

    Pages 234-243:
    “Are you alright?” Peorth asked as she emerged from the gate after the others.
    The group had found themselves on a tiny island of sand in a vast deep orange ocean-a tiny patch of grass stood at the center of the mound and a single tree rested upon it.
    “The distance between stepping into the gate and getting out of it feels a lot longer than it really is.”  Amata said as she picked TJ up by the neck of his coat and dusted him off. “Seeing you faceplant like that proved that theory pretty nicely I'd say.” She chuckled under her breath.
    TJ stuck his tongue out and brushed the sand from it. “Ugh...where are we? A beach?” He asked as he wiped his hands and shuddered. After the moment settled he came to realize the sand did not quite taste like sand, but rather a tangy orange...sand.
    “If this is a beach it'd have to win an award for being the tiniest beach in history,” Su remarked as she crossed her arms.
    “Without a doubt, this is the Instance Dungeon...but it seems we are not at the proper locale. There is an island in the distance, but we do not have a means to get to it,” Peorth added. As she had said, in the distance there was a proper sized island, with all sorts of flora and fauna, and tall mountains that towered towards the skies.
    “We're more resourceful than that aren't we? I mean you guys could just fly across, am I right?” Curt asked with a shrug.
    “Essentailly we could, but it seems that things would not be so simple.” The guildmaster turned her eyes to the sky as a series of storm clouds passed over them and settled as far as the eye could see. “If we are to attempt it, we would sooner find ourselves soaked and bound to the water.”
    “If you can even call that water,” Su muttered. “You can't even see into it. But the damn drink is shark-infested. I'll be damned if I'd jump into that.”
    “Let's consider our options-what do we know about this dungeon?” Amata asked as she glanced about the group.
    “Not much. We just got here,” Curt answered.
    The Governor of Fire furrowed her brows. “It might be better that you open your mouth when you've got something productive to say. Or not at all, since that seems to be pretty rare with you.”
    “I aim to please.” His grin enraged her further.
    “If I may, since you had all attended to the previous Instance Dungeon, could you inform me once more of what you were tasked with in order to reach Avaritia?” Peorth requested.
    “We had to defeat Agasura and gather gold from them to open the path to the boss room. We weren't stuck at the start though...” Amata sighed audibly. “Avaritia was even kind enough to leave us a nice little explanation at the start of the expedition. It might have been in Agasuric, but TJ was able to translate it so it worked out.”
    “So does that mean you think there might be something we have to do to get through this dungeon also?” The Abellan asked.
    “Yes. I suspect that is the case. If I was to hazard an assumption, it is possible that the dungeon is built around its creator-just as is the case with the Instance Dungeons of the Guardians across Jienda, and those beyond it. Unlike the other Agasura, we must keep in mind that the Sinners are not monsters per se, but rather humanoid. That in fact, may just be the guiding light that we need to bring a conclusion to this confusion. Avaritia as a sin is also known as greed-an extraordinary desire to have more than one would need for survival, be it wealth, goods or other objects of abstract value. Guildmaster Eli has informed me that this Instance Dungeon was located within the Pyramids-a place rife with treasures of great people from a civilization of a long gone era. Given those circumstances, perhaps it would be in our best interest to apply the same process to the current Instance Dungeon.”
    TJ rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “And this one is located in Cookie Garden. But it's all sweets here. Of the six sins left, which do you think it'd be?” He asked.
    “Of course...” Amata muttered as she placed a hand to her forehead. “Gula-gluttony! It was so obvious!”
    “So what the hell do we do on a deserted island that has to do with eating?” Su asked as she tapped a finger on her crossed arms.
    “Drink the water. I mean, it's clearly not ordinary water, so go ahead and give it a shot,” Curt said. Su wordlessly gestured to the water in way that seemed to say, 'be my guest'.
    “Chunsik had mentioned something like this too-that an evil wizard had turned the people of Chunsik Land into Agasura. Not only that, but that a traveller and former colleague of his made a deal with a demon in order to do just that. Is it possible all of this is linked?” That matter aside, Chunsik had called him a 'Venturer of a different world'. Was it possible that Chunsik's message was addressed to him specifically? Or were there other adventurers that were not of this world? What of Iris' messages? Was he really one of Iris' only companions?
    “I'd say it's possible, but Chunsik's Land has been this way longer than this Instance Dungeon has been around I think...still, given the situation at least we have a rough idea of what we need to do. To get to Gula, we're gonna have to eat-a lot.” Amata said before she pursed her lips. “Looks like we've got a task well suited for you boys.”
    “I demand equality in this matter!” Curt shouted as he raised a fist in defiance. “Democracy! Democracy!”
    “Oh give it a rest would you?!”
    “Tyrant!”
    Peorth turned to TJ and Su. “It seems there is very little around us that we could use to further our cause, but I would suggest we begin with this tree.” She suggested before pointing to the tree. Though rather out of place, there was indeed a tree that was growing lemons upon the island.
    “Ah! Fruit! Good idea Chief. I think if I call out my wings I can jump up there and get one,” TJ answered.
    Su sighed, “We don't have the time for that nonsense. I'll do it.” She walked over to the tree and stretched her legs before letting out a sigh and raising her head,  eyes focused. With a shout she spun on the ball of her right heel and kicked the tree with her left causing the fruit to fall from the tree-a small group fell to the ground and rolled away while she caught one. “Easy.” She tossed the fruit up and down a couple times before drawing her dagger and splitting it in two. “Here.” She held a half out to the Abellan.
    “You're not gonna...squirt that in my eyes are you?” He asked as he placed both hands to his glasses and peered through his fingers.
    “Oh for fuck's sake...no!”
    He cautiously took the fruit from her and appraised it. Since she cut it in two, maybe he needed to eat the center part? The outside was a little rough.
    As he raised his fruit to his lips Peorth held out a hand and began, “TJ I feel that it is only fair that I warn you that lemons and other such citrus are well known for their acidic properities which make them renown for their-”
    He was listening, but he continued on nonetheless and regretted doing so. “Oh! That's sour! Gross!” He dropped the fruit and shuddered.
    “...You didn't know that?” Amata asked with a look of surprise. “And I thought I was out of the loop.” She chuckled under her breath. “You've got a ways to go.”
    “Look over there.” Peorth said as she pointed to the water. Lemon wedges sprouted from the depths and rested atop the sea's surface, forming a bridge between their tiny deserted island and the main isle. “A path has formed, seemingly due to your actions. With this knowledge I feel that we can go forward. It may be difficult in the coming days, but I suspect that we will only need to eat from the island should we find ourselves at a halt in our journey-other wise it may be in our best interest to avoid doing so. Constant vigilance, everyone.”
    “Before we go on though, I think we should check this out. Using lemon wedges as a bridge doesn't seem like the safest choice. They'd likely sink under the weight of one of us.” Amata told them as she grit her teeth. “The last thing on my bucket list would be swimming with sharks.”
    TJ answered, “I can go-”
    The Governor placed a hand to his shoulder and held him back. “No. No you don't. Do you remember the last time we let you go first?” She sighed. “Better me than you.” She walked over to the first step of many and looked down with unease in her eyes. She eyed the fins of sharks swimming nearby, and shook her head, then clasped her hands together. “If you're watching me Rayinth, please, protect me.” She stuck out a foot and placed it atop the first step before putting an increasing amount of her body's weight upon it. Despite it's shape, it had proven strong enough to hold fast against her and she found herself rather surprised. After taking a deep breath, she moved her other leg towards it and placed it down, balancing herself with her arms just in case-after a couple of moments of being upon the landing, she noticed that it did not sink nor sunder beneath her. “Guys, these are actually pretty sturdy. I think we can proceed with this.” She stepped off of it back onto the island, letting out a silent sigh of relief before she regrouped with her companions.
    “Your efforts are appreciated Amata. Now that we are here, it would be best if we decided how we should proceed. Given that we are unfamiliar with the lay of the land, and that I am a user of spears, I feel that it would be in our best interest if I took the lead. I will not let Agasuras at the vanguard bring any harm to you all.” Peorth told them.
    The Governor of Fire blushed slightly, but looked at the guild master with a somewhat upset expression. “Despite that sounding really cool,” She muttered under her breath, “we've got bigger concerns. What if you get hurt, Peorth?”
    Peorth tilted her head quizzacally. “Be it a scrape or a flesh wound, it is of little need for concern. So long as I can still fight to see another day I shall rise to the challenge.” She stole a glance at TJ and placed her right hand to her arm, and paused thoughtfully for a couple moments. “But alas, should I recieve any grievous wounds of a sort that will disable me from lifting my spear and fighting alongside my companions, I will provide aid from the sidelines. I would die for my cause, but so long as I have a part to play in seeing this journey through, I cannot afford such a loss, nor can the Asgardians.”
    Amata's eyes shuttered as she heard the guild master's reply. “I guess we're in the same boat there. But in truth I can't imagine not fighting. The God's Governors stood by our goddess and the others in the war against the Agasura King, and if that's how it was then, I feel that I need to be there when we do so this time. I want to be there.” She closed her eyes for a moment, then smiled and looked forward. “With that battle just lurking over the horizon, facing something like this seems simple in comparison. I'm fired up now! Make that spear sing, your highness!”
    “I shall not fail you.”
    As Peorth and Amata walked off their teammates looked on in awe.
    “So you guys feeling out of the loop yet or is it just me?” Curt asked.
    “Surprisingly, I think we're in the same boat. Never thought I'd see the day,” Su answered.

    Peorth drew her spear and stepped out onto the first wedge, carefully testing out the balance of it before giving an approving nod and signalling her companions to follow her. As they all stepped out onto the wedges and moved forward, the rain started coming down along with gusts of wind, gaining strength the longer they spent at sea.
    “We must make haste, but proceed with prudence! We are within an Instance Dungeon so we cannot afford carelessness!” Peorth shouted as she looked back to the group.
    Curt followed behind her with his coat pulled up to cover the sides of his head, and up to his glasses. Due to his inability to see he often looked to both sides of them as they proceeded. As he turned his head once more he caught a glimpse of one of the sharks approaching Peorth's blind spots and panicked. “To your left Peorth!” He shouted suddenly.
    Though his warning came only a moment before the shark leapt out of the water, the guild master stepped back with a glint in her eye and hurled her spear with a mighty toss, piercing the shark's lower jaw just as she grabbed the pole and pulled it in. She whirled it above the heads of her companions and slammed it down in front of her. She placed a foot to the creature and pulled her weapon out as she inspected it.
    “It seems this creature is no ordinary shark,” She said calmly.
    “You're not one to talk about being ordinary.” Su remarked as she glared around Amata's left flank.
    “It's a gummy shark.” Curt said as he prodded it with his dagger. “Though you're pretty fast. Did you see it?”
    “I did not,” She answered, “but your warning had allowed for me to prepare a counterattack. That was a stance called Sagacity.”
    “Handy.”
    “Nevertheless, it may have been the first but I fear that it will not be the last. I highly recommend that we make haste, and escape. This is not an ideal place for us to challenge our adversaries.”
    “Let's go quickly then-I can see more of them coming in.” Amata said after taking an uneasy glance behind them. A multitude of sharks approached and Peorth took her words to heart. She took her spear in both hands and charged forward, her companions following in her wake.
    Once they made it about half-way to their destination the wedges they stood on began to tremble and froze them in their tracks. The sea became fierce due to the powerful winds and the path created for them began to come apart, their landings drifting away from each other.
    “Hold fast everyone!” Peorth shouted to them as she fought to keep her balance and fend off the incoming Agasuras.
    “At this rate we're gonna get seperated!” Curt cried out as he drew his  weapon.
    “Yeah I'd say we're fucked. Good luck losers!” Su shouted. Another shark leapt from the water at her and she leapt above it to land atop it and plunge her dagger into its head. In a splash of water she vanished from sight but soon returned as she leapt from the corpse back to her wedge.
    “Our best bet will be regrouping at the coast! Get there as soon as you can guys!” Amata suggested while she prepared a spell.
    TJ tightly gripped his guitar as he watched his companions drift further and further away from him, while his adversaries came ever closer. Even if he was to call back Su now, she could not defend him in such a situation. He took a deep breath-he had fought without her before, so he could manage, right? Gummy or not, seeing the fins sifting through the waves and the sight of those teeth in the shark Peorth had felled was no less unsettling-even an Agasura made of food could still be dangerous, and two were rapidly approaching.
    As they leapt out of the water he made himself as small as he could as he roared, “Get away!” Magic danced around him and turned to water which immediately spread out and froze, impaling both with a series of icicles that circled the lemon wedge he sat on. He took a couple of deep breaths as he opened his eyes and rose to his feet again, then let out a sigh. Peorth had warned him that he must be in control of his emotions or his magic would become unstable. He was fortunate this time, but next time he may be the one impaled by those icy  spears. He dissipated the magic and glanced around him. He could see his allies in the distance and the possible figures of more sharks further out. He looked to the island that seemed ever further away and sighed. He placed his guitar into the water and used it to propel himself forward.

    How long had it been since he had been seperated from his companions? Su had not returned, and despite him paddling for such long periods at a time it had felt like he had made little to no progress at all. Night had fallen and unease had settled in, but he feared the idea of sleep. The moment that he let his guard down he would find himself within the jaws of a shark and drowning underwater. His paddling slowed down to a crawl and he sat pedalling mindlessly. He nearly let go of his guitar, and the sensation of the neck slipping from his palms roused him awake. He looked around and shook off his sleepiness before placing his guitar down to rest for a moment. Where were his friends now? Were they safe? Had they reached the island before he could? He sighed gently as he looked out at the land before him. He took off his coat  and placed it down atop his guitar. He removed his glasses also and shook his head wildly, flinging water everywhere. He was soaked from head to toe, and felt rather stick due to it. He was cold, wet, miserable and alone, and was still no closer to reaching the island.
    He glanced over the edge of the wedge and looked at himself in the water. Though he could see naught but his own reflection, something in him seemed to  try to resurface. Perhaps a memory, but the Sound of Frequency did not come. He grit his teeth and furrowed his brows, upset at how weak-willed he had felt because of the moment and placed his hand in the water to distort his image in the ripples. He sighed as he scooped some of the orange liquid into his hand and took a sip. It both looked, and tasted orange-something like juice. As he sat back and looked to the skies he saw a star-filled sky. He closed his eyes and let his mind wander, and his thoughts returned to the night he had stayed with the guild master. Her words rang in his mind, “You are not alone, TJ. You must realize this too. It is okay to be afraid, to have doubts, to be unsure in the face of new challenges-and when you are, I will be there. I will hold you just like this, and I will remind you as many times as you need that I will be here. I will not die, nor will I abandon you, and should you lose your memories, I will find you and walk by your side again. Whatever we may face, let us do it together.” That warmth, the sound of her voice and her gentle humming-even now he could still hear it. He believed in those words, and even more so in her. He would see her again.

    TJ awoke with a start and looked around rather startled, but found himself safe for the time being. He arose from his coat and rubbed his face gently. His guitar's design was imprinted into his face and left it rather sore, but he was not torn in two so he could be worse. On the other hand, three sharks swam around him and he found himself hard-pressed to be at ease. He moved slowly, and cautiously. He pulled his guitar from beneath his coat as he rose to his feet the creatures seemed to slow down as if waiting for him to try and escape. But he would not run away-not this time. He looked to the water, and with a wave of his finger attempted to move it-he did so without fail, but the effect was weak. Something about it or the Instance itself was interfering with his magic, but he would not be deterred. If Peorth was here, she would suggest that he best consider how to handle the situation-If he struck one, the others would approach and catch him at his blindspots. He was nowhere near as agile as the others, so he had to create an opening for himself to perform another cast before they could strike him down. He swallowed hard. He raised a single hand to the air. It was time to act.
    With a single strum of his guitar three massive chunks of ice appeared above him and fell down around him with a wave of his hand. He dug his fingers into the fruit as the juice splashed atop him and nearly threw him off balance, but as it settled he caught a glimpse  of one of the sharks as it tried to right itself following the wake of the waves and he rose to his feet. He raised a hand immediately and rapidly strummed his guitar to call forth three Arrows of Light, then clasped his hands together. “Icy bomb!” As he pulled them apart a large snow white sphere took shape and he lifted it over his head with both hands before hurling it into the water. In an explosion of water ice shot up like a pillar and the shark remained trapped within. He turned around as the other two approached and he pointed at them. As the first jumped out of the water he  fired two arrows and it was knocked away from him, pushing his lift away as it splashed back into the water. The second pursued him and he fired the last at it, deterring it slightly but not stopping it. He took a deep breath as he placed his guitar by his side and awaited its approach. The moment he saw it leap from the water he swung his weapon and based it in the gills. As his body turned he placed his guitar back over his shoulder and spun around once, hands outspread and leaving an icy mist in their wake. Once he set his sights upon it once more, he clenched his fist and the mist turned to a series of thin needles. “Frozen blitz!” They rose up to the sky and he pointed where the shark was headed to issue out his creation-the needles shot towards the Agasura and impaled the creature which lead it to floating lifelessly in the water. Two down, one to go. He searched around desperately for the last, but glimpsed nothing as far as the eye could see. With a splash it leapt out of the water and he turned on his heels only to catch it moments before he found himself within its jaws. Fighting for dear life, he had a hand on both the top and bottom jaw, its teeth dug into his hands and his blood trickled down his arms. In a battle of brute force, he was at a loss, and against an Agasura even more so. As it stood, he could not use any spells. ...Or could he? He dug his fingers into the creature and concentrated, his mana trickled from him to it, and the liquid across it and within it began to freeze. As the force of its jaws slackened, he grinned devilishly. “Avarita,” He snarled. His eyes flickered to red, and he forced it back as it was carried off by the winds and soared towards the frozen pillar, collided and shattered both to pieces. He collapsed to his knees as he looked down at his hand, red strings like veins coursed across his hand and down his arm but for a moment as he sighed. He was gaining strength by the day. If he was to defeat Asmodeus, he would need to be much, much stronger. But for now, if he could defeat Gula that would suffice.

    After taking a moment to eat TJ continued paddling towards the island, and for the most part found himself much safer than he had prior. On occasion he could see crimson fish leaping out of the orange sea as dusk dyed the sky a scarlet red, and though still a fair distance he felt ever closer. If he continued at the pace he was going he would be able to make it before daybreak at the very least, and could take shelter on the shore. Much to his pleasure, the rain had come to an end and the shore came ever closer, but no clues of his allies were in sight. Long after night fell and the moon hung gently in the sky, he managed to paddle himself to shore and nearly threw himself into the sand relieved to be on land again. He was safe, alive, and at the destination that he and his allies had decided to meet. He made his way up to the grassy shores and placed himself against a tree. Perhaps he could set up camp for the night, but after the day's events he found it more fitting to take the time to rest and search for his companions the following morning. He undid his ponytail and wrung the pink strands free of any remaining juice, then leaned back and let out a long sigh of relief.
    As he leaned back and closed his eyes, he felt his crystal emit a bright light and a familiar warmth and Su emerged from it. As she took form before him she stretched and turned to him. “Well. Looks like you made it here alive.” She said with a grin.
    “How long were you in there Su?” He asked as he sat up and knit his eyebrows. “I called you a bunch of times you know.”
    “She shrugged. “Dunno. Wasn't there the whole time, but I did see you fight those sharks.” He pursed his lips at the answer. If she was there he could definitely have used the Frequency during that battle, and it would have been much easier. “Truth be told, I'm almost impressed. You won. Somehow.”
    “But if you were there why didn't you tell me?”
    She hiked an eyebrow. “Wanted to see what you can do. Take it as a lesson. Sometimes you're gonna wind up alone and you'll have to defend yourself. Question is, are you gutsy enough to make it out alive?” She grinned devilishly. “Somehow you did this time which might be a good sign for you, but don't expect to get by on sheer luck next time. Those Agasuras aren't getting any weaker.” She walked away and leaned against a tree before placing one leg over the other and lowering her cap over her eyes. “'Sides, someone had to keep those sharks off of you.” She lifted her head for a moment and eyed him warily.
    “W-what is it? Is it my hair? Does it look weird when I let it down?” He asked as he pulled it together into a ponytail with his hands.
    “No stupid it always looks weird but that's not the problem here. It's that stupid skin-tight top of yours. If anyone saw that they'd see that stupid gem sticking out through it. ...Idiots might think you have a third boob or something.”
    “I don't have boobs!”
    She snickered. “I'm surprised you know what they are. But we're gonna have to do something about that regardless.”
    He eyed the Governor cautiously. “So what do you plan to do?”
    She rubbed her chin thoughtfully, then smiled devilishly. “I've got just the thing for you. You're gonna have to take that top off though.”
    “What?! No!” She got onto her feet while still crouched down and leapt at him causing him to raise his hands in preparation for a collision, but felt nothing. As he opened his eyes he saw the spheres signalling the Governor's disappearance and nothing but. She suddenly emerged from his crystal with what looked like bandages in hand. His hands were wounded, but it was nothing that he could not remedy.
    “Well? What're you waiting for? I'm not gonna undress you-who do you take me for, Kooh?” He had half a mind to say that would not change a thing, but he kept his lips shut tight and his brows furrowed. The God's Governor rolled her eyes. “It's not like it's something I haven't seen already. Besides, how many guys do you know worry about their chest?” She had him at a loss there.
    “F-fine.” He removed his coat and took off his top but still covered his chest with his hands uneasily.
    “Get off the tree and I'll do it from behind alright? Jeez.” He did as she requested and she knelt down behind him. “Now hold still...” She began to wrap the bandages around him, finding it rather difficult because of her short arms. “You know, I've gotta hand it to those Elfa villagers. Putting the dead's stuff with them to take into the afterlife is freakin' smart.”
    Eyes shuttered, he watched as she took the time to carefully wrap up and cover his chest. He remembered the battle well, the aftermath of it and all that came afterwards. Despite what they had been through, despite the fighting amongst them, the struggles, and the losses, they still had come this far. To the day, he still did not know what Su had given up so much for. Despite his curiosity, she had her own reasons for fighting, and had her reasons for keeping it a secret. He reached out and took a hand and this gave her pause.
    “What're you holding my hand for? I'm in the middle of something here,” She muttered under her breath.
    “S-sorry it's just...” Her hands were small yet calloused. It made him wonder what she had seen before the two had come into contact. She and the Dark Moon-to think there would come a time where she would have to go back to end the matter was hard to imagine. He let go of her hand and she continued what she was doing in silence for a couple of moments.
    “Just what? Do you normally touch girls without their permission?”
    “Eh? N-no...I think.” He knit his eyebrows. “I was just wondering why you're using bandages to cover up my chest.”
    “This? It's a binder, stupid. Might be bandages but I'm not using them for that. Beggars can't be choosers.” She clicked her tongue. “Anyway, I used to have to wear 'em too so it's not like I dunno what I'm doing, so stop your complaining.”
    He looked over his shoulder and caught a glimse of her flushed face before she turned his head back around with the palm of her hand. “You di-oof...why?”
    Su sighed. “Got caught up in some stupid shit. That damn giant ass old man was the one who had caught me back then. One of those Dark Moon assholes put an arrow through my leg and I wound up eating dirt,” She scoffed. “Swore that I'd kill him if it was the last thing I did, and I got my revenge. Snuck through the castle using phantasm magic and evened the score with him, but that was just the beginning. It's how I met my Master...Tamori. He kicked the crap out of me when we met, but he did it to save my skin. I'd completely wasted everything I had in me, and there wasn't a chance in hell I'd be able to take on the reinforcements that followed me to the top of the Dark Moon, or escape it. I'd sooner jump off the castle and wind up as roadkill in the streets than be caught dead by them. Instead he claimed I was dead and said he'd dispose of the corpse himself.” Her hands slowed down to a halt and she clenched her fists against TJ's back. “If he hadn't...chances are I'd just be another experiment.” She let out a deep sigh.
    TJ blinked. “What happened next?”
    “He took me as his student. He'd become a ronin after the emperor got killed but still hung around because he was sworn to the Dark Moon though he wouldn't fight for them again. He scored me an outfit but made me swear that I wouldn't divulge my identity to anyone in Owl Castle not that I was there to make friends, then started training me as the final student of a generations of something they called 'The Warriors of the New Moon'-pretty much, soldiers trained from the time they could hold a sword to adulthood. Had me disguise myself as a boy and gave me the name Setsuna. Went by that during my time there.”
    TJ scratched his cheek as Su finished the task and ripped a piece off before carefully tucking it in with the rest. “But if Tamori was part of the Dark Moon, why did he help you?” He patted his chest gently and frowned. The binders were rather...restricting, but he knew he would have to go to great pains to keep his identity a secret. People were wary of him since his adventure began, and with Avaritia's appearance they were even more on guard for him.
    “Said I'd had a knack with stealth and guile, enough to make me a damn good kunoichi. That, and he said we'd had a mutual friend. Didn't tell me who though, and I'm still trying to find out. I'd heard he'd been pretty close with one of the emperor's generals but that's all I've had to go on.”
    “Maybe sometime on our journey we'll meet that friend.” TJ smiled for her. “I think we'll meet and make a lot of new friends during our adventures.”
    Su looked nonplussed for a couple moments and he began to sweat slightly. Was what he said that odd? “Get out of here with that cheesy shit of yours!” She said excitedly before ruffling his hair. “You talk a big game for some Pinky.”
    He laughed as he brushed his bangs out of his face and caught a glimpse of her wearing a grin too. “This pinky thing isn't gonna catch on is it? I rather like my name.”
    “If it annoys you, I'll be sure it does. Later, loser!” She raised a hand and turned into a series of spheres before returning to the crystal.
    That was certainly an exit befitting the Governor, but he had come to know something new about her, which was very rare. He felt a little bit of happiness at the prospect.

    “TJ! TJ can you hear me?”
    TJ picked himself up from the grass and looked around bleary-eyed. “Chief? That you?” He said aloud, groggily. He looked around for a couple moments, rubbed his eyes, put on his glasses and looked again.
    “Yes it is I. I am thankful that I have been able to reach you. I had forgotten that the Instance Dungeons interfere with our guild badges, but thankfully since you had given the Heart of Yggdrasil to me once more, I can remain in contact with you.” He felt relief wash over him at hearing the guildmaster's voice, a sure sign that she was safe, That feeling had nearly slipped away at a pause, but she continued nonetheless, “...are you safe?”
    He placed a hand to his chest and sighed. “Y-yeah. I made it to the shore without too much trouble. Did you fare well too Chief?”
    “Yes, I have arrived safely, but as of yet I have been unable to locate our other allies. I am positive that Suuba is with you, but Curt and God's Governor Amata are still as of yet to have shown any signs of their arrival.”
    “Amata did say that we should meet at the coast, so if we circle the island I think we'll find them somewhere. U-unless we were all walking in the same direction! We'd be searching all day and night!” He placed both hands to his head in a panic, both poorly wrapped in bandages.
    “Allow me to offer you a remedy to that situation. I would like for you to use the Sunlight spell to create a beacon of sorts for us to find our way to you. Throw it as high as you possibly can-you need not maintain it, just for that short period. I will signal to you also. With that in mind, our party members should be able to discern where we are, and where we are headed.”
    “Got it. I'll do just that Chief.”
    “Your cooperation is appreciated.”
    He clenched a fist and a bright light began to take form in it. He held it skyward as he shouted, “Sunlight!” The sphere shot towards the sky, climbing ever higher before he deemed it enough, and it burst in a bright sphere of light. Satisfied with the effort, he searched the sky for Peorth's signal. Then he saw it-the clouds seemed to part, creating a massive opening in the darkness where the sun shone through, followed by the clouds swarming around and firing a single bolt of lightning down to the island. TJ jumped at the sight and sound and immediately began running. Was that really Peorth's signal? Or did something happen to her? He had feared for her safety and knew that he had to get to her as soon as possible. As he ran he tripped over a rock and fell face first into the grass, but still picked himself up and continued on anyways. He  glimpsed further into the island as he ran across the shore, and could not help but wonder if his allies may have wandered in deeper in hopes of a shortcut. He pressed on across the coast, glimpsing a clear, crimson bear walking between the trees and sniffing about before eating some of the berries growing in a bush. He nearly froze in terror but ignored the sight, and continued on.
    TJ had no track of time, but what he knew for sure was that he ran too long and was completely out of breath. Struggling to continue, he still stumbled forwards as he heaved for air and searched the coast for the guild master. He could not see her, not yet, but he had to continue forward. He straggled on for another period, and froze as he heard a sound-beating wings? He looked to the sky as he saw the guild master's figure over-shadow him, and she quickly descended before him. Were they going to collide? He prayed that was not the case. She touched down before him, and took a few steps forward before coming to a halt. Wordlessly, she took him in her arms and embraced him, her wings came to a rest around the pair.
    “You are safe...thank God Ah. To see you healthy and hale is miraculous indeed.” She said gently, her head resting against the side of his.
    “I-it's good to see you safe too...Chief,” He uttered.
    After a few more moments Su emerged from the crystal and looked impatiently at Peorth's back. “You idiots are apart for one freakin' day and you're all over him like you haven't seen him in years. Don't you have any shame?” She asked impatiently.
    At those words Peorth broke away, face flushed as her wings shrunk and vanished and she turned to Su. “I...I do not lack shame!” She cried out defensively before lowering her head. “I have yet to k-k...” Her words trailed off there. Was she going to say what TJ thought she would? His cheeks flushed also and he turned away.
    Su rolled her eyes. “And that clown said I was jealous? Jeez...” She rubbed the back of her neck. “Well whatever. At least you're not dead. If you'd gotten mauled by a shark or something that'd be kinda pathetic after that grand speech of yours.”
    “I can assure you, I will not fall so easily to just any Agasura. So long as-”
    “Yeah yeah I heard you the first time. Well now that we've found each other, what's your big plan this time?”
    Peorth crossed her arms thoughtfully. “In truth, I do not have a specific course of action for us to follow currently. I suppose, in place of that we would have two options: the first, being that we return the way that TJ came. It is more likely that the others had washed ashore somewhere in that direction, considering the flow of the current following our seperation and the distance between the rest of our allies and myself. The second would be that we wait here and hope they may find their way to us.”
    “Both of those plans suck.” Su said bluntly, to which Peorth looked nonplussed. “But I'd rather be on the move than be stuck standing around with you morons. I say we find them.”
    Peorth turned to TJ and he nodded firmly. “If they're out there, the sooner we can find them the better,” He answered calmly.
    “Then we are in agreement. Let us be on our way.” Peorth said confidently before leading the group onwards.
    The guildmaster insisted that they stay closer to the coast because of the dangers that lurked within the forest-due to their dwindled numbers, they could not, and should not risk an ambush no matter how cofident in their abilities they were. By her advice they had made it a fair distance safely, and once night fell they decided to set up camp for the evening. Su and Peorth went out to gather firewood while TJ put the firepit together in the sand, and the guildmaster and Abellan had a meal while the Governor went back into the forest to scout out.
    “I'll be fine by myself. These trees might be made of candy but it doesn't mean I can't climb them. The day I see a bear climb to the top of a tree will be the day I get mauled by one. If it's made of candy than I deserve it,” were her parting words.
    TJ ate a soup Peorth had put together using a myriad of ingredients she called 'non-perishable foods' which tasted good nonetheless, like everything she made. He looked across the fire as she ate solemnly.
    “Chief...about earlier, that lightning bolt. Was that your signal?” He asked curiously.
    She nodded gently. “Yes. Very rarely do Warlords such as myself have, or know how to utilize very simple spells or stances that are grand, aesthetically, that is. Though not for that purpose, I do have some other skills that would likely draw attention. That was but one of them,” She answered.
    “So you havee lightning spells also? That's really cool!” TJ said excitedly with a smile.
    Her face flushed and she looked up at him with her head lowered. “Thank you, but that is not particularly the case. That also, was a stance. I have a unique ability that allows me to have a certain mastery over the power of thunder.” She closed her eyes gently. “That ability had earned me the unwarranted nickname 'Lightning Princess Peorth' from an old companion of ours. It was but one of two of their favourite jests.”
    TJ chuckled gently. “I'd bet they felt the same way then. It's not everyday you come across someone with a talent like that you know. At least, I think so.”
    “Just you feeling that way alone means the world to me.” She smiled for him, and he did so in turn.

    The following morning TJ climbed out of his tent and looked around for the guildmaster. Knowing her, she would already be awake and up to something, and his suspicions were spot on. She stood with her spear at the ready, and Su remained hidden behind a tree nearby with her dagger in hand.
    “What's wrong guys?” He asked as he pulled his guitar out of the tent.
    “Keep your voice low TJ. Suuba and I have heard movement in the bushes and we know not what waits out there, but it would be in our best interest to take the initiative in this engagement.” Peorth answered before gesturing for him to take up a vantage nearby her.
    He quickly and quietly made his way over behind a tree and waited in bated breath as sounds emerged from nearby bushes and raised the tension and cautiousness of his companions. It was possible a bear might be approaching-he had only glimpsed one, but they were not likely to be underestimated. Suddenly from the bushes something emerged, and the two that were ready to strike froze in place. TJ blinked a couple times before his mouth fell open. A muddy, disoriented looking Curt appeared from within the bushes.
    “Oh man...I finally found you guys! Tried taking a shortcut through the forest when I saw your campfire and boy was that ever a mistake! I've got bug bites on my bug bites and there were bears and...it was one hell of an adventure! But I've gotta admit, some of those forest berries are pretty tasty. You eat one and before you know it you've already swallowed seven of the things. I could go for some more, to be honest.” Curt explained as he regrouped with them. Peorth let out a sigh of relief and Su placed a hand to her forehead as she let out an annoyed snarl. “So? Who's happy to see me? Come on, my arms are open.” He outspread his arms as he looked to each of the girls and finally TJ.
    “I'd hug you but you've got a lot of dirt on you.” TJ answered before looking away.
    “Not you too TJ!”
    The Abellan could not help but laugh at the reaction. “I'm glad to see you're back though! And the others are too. We've been looking all over the place for you and Amata.”
    “Same here. Gotta admit though, when I saw that signature ball of light I knew that had to be you. Had to go through hell and high water to get through that forest but it did save me a lot of time. This coast is freakin' huge.”
    “I've seen a fair bit of it for myself. Did you find any traces of Amata on your way?”
    “I saw a lemon wedge washed up on shore. And a bunch floating out at sea but I don't think she died out there. I mean, we'd have to find a gummy shark with her innards inside of it somewhere.” TJ did not find the joke amusing in the slightest.
    “What should we do from here? Should we keep going?” TJ asked the party.
    “I vote that we rest. I'll be able to crush a small child with my legs with all the walking I've done over the past few days.”
    “Give the baby what he wants. I say we continue on without her 'cause we don't need her, but whatever.” Su shrugged and returned to the crystal.
    “I suppose it would be best if we waited here. Should we continue our journey once we are all reunited, it would be best if we have taken some time to regain our stamina and set out once refreshed,” Peorth suggested. “On that note, TJ may I ask of you to use the Sunlight spell once more? I feel that if we can send Amata a sign, she will find her way to us, especially if she is following the trail of the first.”
    “Leave it to me Chief,” The Abellan answered. At her request he called forth the spell and released it as she had suggested before. He watched as the final fragments of light dissipated silently for a couple of moments. Just as Peorth had found him, and Curt had found them, Amata too would find her way back to the team. He would believe in her, and her wish to fight with them right up to the battle against Asmodeus. If he could help it, he would ensure it.
    The guild master placed a hand to his shoulder. “Fear not TJ, for she will return to us in time. A God's Governor is not one to be underestimated.” She smiled slightly. “You will hear it both from I and the history books of the Cerebians.” Her expression shifted from easy-going to thoughtful as she eyed him. “TJ, may I borrow your Monster Manual for a spell?”
    TJ blinked. Perhaps she wanted to look through it while they waited? “Sure Chief. Lemme' run and get it.” He climbed into his tent and rummaged through his things before handing off the book to the guild master. “Here you go.”
    “You have my thanks. It may be some time before Amata arrives, so perhaps it would be a good opportunity to practice in any aspects that you may feel you are lacking in TJ.” She suggested before returning to her tent.
    He nodded solemnly. His training was going alright, and he was trying not to waste mana unecessarily. That aside, where he would likely need the most practice would be in mastering Velvet's song. He could do it-he could recall the sounds and pitches and play it in his mind, but if he failed at either aspect of it the song would prove fruitless, and that would be time wasted on the battlefield. Time the group may not have. With the thought in mind, he sat down with his guitar against a tree and gently strummed it with his eyes closed as he reminisced on the times he had spent mastering it with Peorth, and the end product.
    As the day carried on into the evening a mighty roar pierced the skies and the group gathered around. Peorth returned with a pencil in hand, Curt a series of berries, both candy and fruit, and Su with her dagger at the ready.
    “So I'm not crazy then? Awesome.” Curt said as he popped a couple berries into his mouth.
    “Are any of you familiar with that sound?” Peorth asked.
    “Truthfully, I think it might be Amata. N-not Amata herself but Amata and her dragon!” TJ said and quickly corrected himself while he waved his hands.
    “That's her lizard if I ever heard it. Watch the skies. We'll see her coming.” Su suggested before going back to the forest and climbing to the top of a tree.
    The group split up a short distance on the beach and sought out the God's Governor. It was not long before the massive dragon came into view, rising from the ground and circling around the island. In a series of cries and shouts, they attempted to signal the two out and after a brief while the dragon turned in their direction and approached. It steadily came down and landed on the coast where Amata climbed down and eyed him warily.
    “I told you it wasn't gonna rain.” She said to which he huffed out a flame in response. “You're a dragon. Why are you afraid of a little orange juice?” She crossed her arms. “It's not like you'll die if your mane gets a little wet! I could've died in that forest though!”
    “Amata! Welcome back!” TJ shouted as he waved and ran over to her. As she turned he looked on in surprise to see her with a swollen right cheek. “Did something attack you out there?!”
    “Yeah. There are these damn bears in the forest. I could've sworn the thing was gonna eat me, but instead it got on its hind legs and punched me out. He got what was coming to him, but my face blew up like a balloon and it's been sore ever since.”
    “S-sorry to hear that.” He knit his eyebrows. “But you did make it back so I'm glad.” He smiled.
    She cracked a tiny smile. “Yeah...it's good to be back. The only other living thing I've had to talk to for the past few days is Bharva, and he wouldn't let me ride him until I convinced him that it wasn't going to rain.” The dragon huffed before vanishing and she shrugged. “These spirits can be a real pain sometimes.”
    “It is very fortunate that he came to your aid. It would be difficult for us to travel the distances he is able by using our wings alone. But with you here, we are all reunited. Let us rest for the day and set out again on our journey tomorrow.” Peorth said as she joined the duo.
    Amata looked at her hands curiously. “What have you got there Peorth?”
    “Hmm? This is a book that we have produced. It chronicles the monsters across the world that we have seen during our adventures.”
    “Produced...? Huh...so it's the only one. It'd make a pretty handy adventurer's guide though. You should do something with it.”
    Peorth chuckled gently. “I am sure that time will come, but first, we have a world that needs our aid.”
    Amata's stomach rumbled and she closed her eyes. “And I've got a stomach that needs filling...I didn't touch those forest berries cause they might be poisoned. Tell me more about that book over dinner.”

    The following morning TJ crawled out of the tent as he slipped his glasses on to his face. Upon the beach he saw the guild master, spear in hand and practicing solemnly. He slapped his cheeks a couple times to wake himself up and approached.
    “Good morning Chief. Practice first thing in the morning?” He asked with a smile.
    She opened her eyes and turned her head to meet his. “Yes. Though it may not feel this way, we must remember that we are indeed within our enemy's territory. By the day the Instance Dungeon grows, so I suspect we must be on our guard both day and night. Even now, those changes are visible to the naked eye,” She replied.
    “What changed?” He tilted his head quizzically. The guild master pointed to the sky and he looked, nearly losing his balance due to the sight. Hundreds of popsicles shot across the sky like rockets-where they were headed he had not the foggiest, but the sight was unmistakeable. “P-popsicles?! Are those Agasura?!”
    “I cannot say, but if they are it would be in our best interest to keep an eye to the skies. The Agasura are all around us, and could strike at any moment. For the time being, it seems there is a lull in the chaos despite all that is around us. Let us prepare a meal and wake everyone. Once we are sated we will set out into the Forest.”
    TJ nodded solemnly in response.
    The five had gathered around after packing up their things.
    “So where do we go from here? We don't really have a specific path to follow,” Amata told the group.
    “Logically, I believe that we should attempt ro move to the heart of the forest. Considering that we were recently seperated, we have already traversed a majority of, if not the entirety of the coast.” Peorth suggested.
    “Important assholes like Gula like high places don't they? We should find a way to that mountain,” Su added.
    “Perhaps the best way to do so would be to follow the river? If we can find our way to it, we could ascend ever higher towards that very destination.”
    Curt shrugged. “No complaints here!”
    “That sounds good to me too.” TJ said with a nod.
    “Alright let's go with that then. Lead the way,” Su said.
    With Peorth as the vanguard the group set out into the forest cautiously, taking in their surroundings as they proceeded further in. As one would expect of Gula's Instance Dungeon, the entire place was rife with berries and all sorts of edible flora-mushrooms grew by trees and berries on bushes in great numbers.
    “So Amata you said you ran into some bear that punched you out right?” Curt asked.
    “Can we not talk about that? My face hurts just thinking about it.” The Governor answered as she rubbed her cheek gently.
    “We don't  have to, but if it looks anything like that it'd be good to know.” He pointed to a gummy bear that sat nearby and picked berries from the bush before eating them. Amata began to sweat.
    “Another one? And here I'd thought it'd be too soon before I saw one.”
    It raised its head at the sound of their voices and seemingly sniffed the air before turning to them.
    “It has discovered us. Everyone, to arms!” Peorth shouted as she drew her spear.
    While the others readied their weapons, the bear got on its legs and charged towards them. All but Amata looked on puzzled, before it stood outside of Peorth's range and got on both feet. She held her spear defensively as it roared at them, then put both of its paws before its face and took on a boxer's stance.
    “Dude! It's a boxing bear! We need to catch this! We can be rich!” Curt shouted excitedly.
    “Are you stupid?!” Amata shouted before she hit him atop the head with her staff. “That thing will break your bones if you tried to catch it!”
    “Everyone, fan out! We shall surround it and defeat it!” Peorth commanded the team.
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sat Aug 01, 2015 6:02 pm

    Pages 243-252:
    They broke apart and each surrounded it. It eyed each curiously.
    “I'll make the first move!” TJ shouted as he strummed his guitar once and held out a hand. “Hailstorm!” At his call a series of iciles shot out from before him towards the Boxer Bear. The creature bobbed and weaved past the spell and quickly closed the distance before taking a swing at him. He gasped as he raised his weapon to protect his chest and the blow winded him and knocked him back. “Guh...that thing...is crazy strong...” He heaved as he rose back to his full height.
    Su leapt against one of the trees and launched herself towards it. It leaned back to avoid her flying strike and as she hit the ground she somersaulted to her feet and spun on the ball of her heels to stomp the ground and raise the earth. It leapt asdide and knives rained down upon it as Curt took it by storm, thrusting his dagger into its flank. It roared and batted him aside. A series of spheres surrounded it and burst into flames courtesy of Amata, but it stormed through the fire and leapt at her.
    “I will not let you!” Peorth shouted as she tossed her spear into the air. At the apex of its rise she leapt to it and spread her wings, then used them to dart down towards it and cut off its charge as she cried out “Swallowtail!” She came to a skidding halt and followed it up with Windmill. The final strike of the stance caused the creature to fall away slightly but return with two wide swipes.
    “Peorth there are more Agasura's coming! Watch yourself!” Amata shouted before she hurled two fireballs at the trees that surrounded the guild master.
    Peorth's eyes darted to the treetops and she stepped aside as she caught a glimpse of what seemed to be a rather large package fall to the ground-the contents of it spilled out and when she caught a glimpse of the arms and legs, she knew it was an Agasura. What confused her were the tiny little rocks that came from within it. The boxer bear came back at her with a vengeance, thrusting a paw towards her but missing as she l;eapt back and spread her wings. Whatever was around her was not something to underestimate.
    “There's another one coming! Watch your back!” Curt said as he tossed three knives into the back of the bear and a chunk of earth skidded past a moment after it stepped towards her.
    The guild master checked both of her peripherals but saw nothing in sight-she turned and ran backwards to glimpse behind her and she caught sight of another Agasura-a large, crimson can of soda that said Abio Coke charged toward her clumsily before tripping and spilling its contents. As the liquid poured over the rocks, they began to crackle to life and struck her with unease. She beat her wings once and prepared to take off, but the liquid had caught up to her and upon the stones bursting the ground itself and her left wing was ignited. She clenched her teeth, her eyes shifting from it to the bear as she raised her spear but still found herself caught off-guard. It hit her with a single mighty blow and she fell back towards the fire. Moments before she fell into it she felt someone's arms wrap around her body as she and her saviour shot off to safety while quickly descending. She collapsed to the ground and tumbled into a bush while her saviour vanished over it and hit a nearby tree.
    As she got to her feet she saw TJ lying face-first in the grass with his wings resting upon his back. “TJ! Are you alright?” She asked with a concerned expression.
    He peeled himself from the ground and grinned. “No problem! J-just gimme a minute to get my bearings and I'll patch you right up!” He placed a hand to his head as it gently bobbed.
    “I shall return to the battlefield. Do not worry for my sake.” The rolling put out the flame on her wing, so she took the time to put it away and reclaim her weapon.
    “What the hell is this?!” Su shouted. She placed both hands to the ground and ripped a chunk of it from before her and tossed it into the air. She pointed a finger and it shattered to pieces, raining down mud and dirt over the area which quelled the flames. The bear charged toward her and she drew her dagger once more. “Still not dead yet huh? Guess I'll have to put you out of your misery!” It took a swing at her and she stepped aside before it was followed by a second. She dropped to the ground and ripped a couple of blades of grass before leaping back and throwing them into the bear's face. As it brushed them aside and regained its vision, she took cover behind a tree and used two more to create a pair of phantoms that shared in her image. She commanded them to charge at it directly while she signalled to Curt to strike from above and ran in turn with her phantoms. The bear watched as each charged towards it and Su approached from behind. It turned to her as she neared and attempted to punch her before she fell back and her phantoms vanished. “Saw through me...” She muttered under her breath. “Do it loser!”
    Curt fell from the sky and brought his dagger down upon the bear, his weapon met its arm and he was punched in the stomach and thrown away.
    Through the bushes and past the trees Peorth's spear emerged and pierced the bear's stomach, she appearing on it and ripping the weapon out before reeling it back. “Burst Lancer!” She cried out. In a flurry of rapid stabs she had punctured the creature and felled it. “Is everyone alright?” She placed her spear upright by her side.
    “I've seen better days...” Curt muttered as he hobbled over. “I swear that thing rearranged my guts with that punch.”
    Amata emerged from the cloud of smoke as she waved her hand gently. “I got along relatively safely, luckily. If it wasn't for Peorth I'd have wound up like the Abellan,” she remarked. “Still,” she said to Curt, “I warned you about those things!”
    “You guys okay?” TJ asked as he climbed through one of the bushes. He looked to each of his party members with a disturbed expression. “It's worse than I thought! Hold on I'll have you guys fixed right up.”
    While TJ gently played a tune that allowed his allies to recover they discussed the battle's outcome.
    “What have we learned about our enemies?” Peotrh asked as she looked from one member to the next.
    “The bears are boxers. No abilities, but they hit really hard, and are more agile than the others,” Amata said.
    “These idiots work together.” Su said as she poked the can with her dagger.
    “Pick that thing up and lemme' get a good look at it,” Curt requested.
    She glared at him. “Do it yourself you lazy ass.” Curt muttered obscene things under his breath while the rest continued their discussion.
    “It would seem the first of the two has a tendency to release an unusual type of stone that bursts upon being exposed to the liquid of this beverage.” Peorth explained as she rubbed her chin thoughtfully.
    “I've seen some weird-ass Agasura but these ones take the goddamn cake.”
    Amata knit her eyebrows. “Unless my eyes were deceiving me those rocks blew up in a series of sparks. They might not have been big, but enough of those and they could set off an explosive chain reaction, and one that could easily burn us up,” She added. “It's possible that the two need to be together for that to happen, but we can't write them off just yet. We can't say for sure just what they'd do if they were seperated. Despite them seemingly exhausting their use at their arrival, they still got up and prepared to fight again so I took care of them.”
    “I could tell.” Curt said as he examined the singed wrapping. “You guys might find this interesting though. This stuff? It's candy. One that's pretty popular in Elias called poppin' rocks. Kids go nuts for this stuff.” He tossed the wrapper aside. “Amata's got the right of it though-they need liquid to pop so our best bet would be making sure they're as far apart as possible if we see them. Either that or one of us is gonna burst into flames.”
    “That was nearly the case. If it was not for TJ's timely rescue I would be in great danger,” Peorth said.
    He smiled gently. “That? It wasn't anyhthing really. I'm sorry the landing was so rough Chief,” He replied.
    “I would fancy a rough landing over losing my life anytime.”
    Eyes darted to the two and TJ's face flushed. “A-anyway...isn't that stuff kinda dangerous? I mean for kids?”
    “The difference is that the candy in Elias is just candy. These things are Agasura. One of the two won't murder you if you try to eat it.” Curt explained as he furrowed his brows.
    The Abellan knit his in turn. “Are you sure those berries you ate weren't Agasura?”
    “If they grow appendages I'll consider them Agasura. 'Till then though, I'd say they're pretty safe.” He popped one in his mouth and grinned. “And delicious.”
    “Curt, I strongly advise against eating anything within this dungeon. We know precious little of the properties of the flora and fauna that can be found within, and I cannot help but suspect that there too, lies a danger beyond what we can see on the surface,” Peorth explained.
    “Oh come now Peorth, have a berry and stop worrying! They won't bite!” He held one out to her and she shook her head solemnly to which he shrugged. “More for me!”
    TJ let out a gentle sigh as he stopped strumming his guitar. “I think that should just about do it. How do you guys feel? Alright to go on?” He asked.
    “I am ready to move forward. You have my thanks,” Peorth told him.
    “I'm back at a hundred percent and ready to kick some bear ass!” Curt said with a raised fist.
    “Let's get moving then. The longer we waste in this shithole the worse it's gonna get, and I could do without being stuck with you morons for an extended period of time, thanks.” Su said as she climbed down from a tree and regrouped with the others.”
    “Then let us be on our way.” Peorth said as they set out under her lead once more.

    The land climbed higher and as they ascended through the forest they eventually found themselves near the river. Much to their surprise, it was wider than they had imagined, and without a doubt it would require flight to traverse safely, at the very least.
    “So this is it. Should we just follow it?” Curt asked.
    “For the time being, I believe so. It seems that we are a fair distance from the mountain, but if I was to hazard an estimate, I believe that we could reach by nightfall. Let us be wary of our location and that of the Agasura-if we make haste I believe we could have our camp prepared.” Peorth explained as she looked back to the group.
    “Right, let's go with that then,” Amata said.
    “But if it comes down to it and we need to cross the bridge, how will we? Should we just swim across?” TJ asked as he glanced into the river and saw his own reflection, but little else.
    “I would not recommend that TJ. If the ocean was any indication, it is very likely the river is not safe either. You must remember that this is not an ordinary ecosystem.” The guild master turned to Curt. “May I borrow some of your berries?”
    “I knew you'd come around Peorth. Was only a matter of time.” Curt chuckled as he shrugged and reached into his pocket, drawing a group of lint-coated berries.
    She appraised them for a moment before tossing them into the river while Curt reached out to them with a dejected look. Moments before they reached the water small crimson fish leapt out, fangs bared as they feasted on the fruits and vanished beneath the water's surface. “I suspect it would take very little, if any time at all for those fish to devour flesh. The only possible way we could make it across would be to use something else as bait, and even then the time we are given would be scarce at best. We will find a way across. I can assure you-do not fear TJ.”
    He could not help but crack a smile. “I've no doubts.”
    They continued further up through the forest as the day pressed on, morning quickly turned to afternoon and afternoon to evening. As they went further in, the land became strangely barren and the trees had eventually become candy canes in place of the familiar spearmint trees, but the entirety of the area had a refreshing minty scent. Much to their dismay though, a heavy downpour had begun and the group found themselves soaked from head to toe and wanting for shelter-as far as they could see though, there was none in sight. Not even a tree to take cover under.
    “Do you guys see that? Looks like a bridge.” Curt said as he pointed in the distance.
    “Well what are we waiting for? Let's go check it out. I'm not climbing a waterfall.” Su said as she stole ahead and proceeded towards it.
    Once they arrived they noticed it was broken. The center of the bridge was shattered, and a half of each side clung to both portions of the land.
    “Looks like we're stranded. Got any bright plans O great leader Peorth?” Su asked as she peeked at the guildmaster from underneath her bangs.
    Peorth placed a hand to her mouth as she glanced around the area. “It would seem that the best course of action would be to build a bridge ourselves-or at the very least, utilize what materials we have on hand to build a makeshift bridge.” She walked away from them briefly and rapped her knuckels against one of the massive candy canes rooted in the ground. “The insides are not hollow. If we were to break some of these and use them as raw materials, we could tie them together and lay them across the bridge to cross safely.”
    Su crossed her arms. “There's a big fat problem with that brilliant idea. It's not like we can just rip those things out of the ground. We're gonna have to break them, and the second we do, Agasura a mile away are gonna come running,” Su commented.
    “Su raises a good point, but we can't afford to stay here, and with the rain coming down we can't fly across either. If we're to follow Peorth's suggestion, we've gotta be ready to defend ourselves with everything we've got. You guys ready for that?” Amata asked the boys.
    “I'll prepare some support spells for you guys. If a big battle's coming I'll be ready.” TJ said before he began to strum his guitar.
    “Bring it I say. I love a good fight!” Curt said as he crossed his arms and nodded confidently.
    “I'm all for that plan. If all we need to do is kick some ass than I'm in,” Su added.
    “Suuba, I would like you to take up another task.” Peorth said to the Governor. The young girl flipped her bangs out of her face so the guild master could get a proper look at her glare. “Of all of us, you have the greatest affinity for earth, and the strength to break through the trees. Thus I would like for you to do so while we fend off our enemies. We will keep you safe-you need only break and tie together those within your reach. Following that we will move them atop the bridge and make our escape. If the Agasura choose to pursue us, once more we shall set fire to the path we had taken to ensure that we are not followed.”
    “Your wish if my command, your highness.” Su muttered through grit teeth.
    TJ looked uneasily between the two-the tensions just seemed to be rising ever higher. Though the anger may have been one sided, he was well aware of what a discord between allies could lead to and feared risking such a thing. “I can swap out with Su, Chief. I have some control over earth too so I think I can handle that much.”
    Peorth shook her head gently. “I know that you are eager to assist in whatever means you can TJ, but we require you on the battlefield. Your support spells may prove to be our saving grace, but you are more than just a Bard. You are also our wild card. What may come to be, we may require your strength desperately.” She looked away from him, into the distance. “If you still have doubts, stay close to me. I will protect you.”
    He took a deep breath and nodded. “Alright. I'll give it my all.” If their first battle was any indication, he could hardly afford to hold back. He would need spells of a much greater caliber if he was to be of use to his allies. He had the Frequencies at his command, and now the power of Avaritia. He could not let them down.
    “Everyone, to arms! Prepare yourselves for Agasura will come in droves once we begin, so you must not hold back, but only do so for the safety of our allies. If the difficulty proves too great fall back and we will cover your position. Is everyone ready?”
    “Ready when you are,” Curt said.
    “Let's start,” Amata added.
    “I...I'm ready.” TJ said as he took a deep breath and looked out into the distance.
    “Suuba, you may begin,” Peorth told her.
    “Whatever. Stand back.” Su answered as she cracked her knuckles. She stomped the ground and the earth trembled, creating a long fissure towards one of the candy canes that quickly became a piece of rock jutting from the ground. It collided with the tree and broke it in two, causing it to fall to the ground as the cries of Agasura sounded through the area. Su ran across the candy cane and leapt down atop the curled top, then rolled it away as her allies took to the vanguard.
    The first thing that came into view were the same popsicles TJ saw soaring through the sky. They shot across the landscape like rockets gliding just above ground and drifted past as the whole party stepped aside to avoid the attacks.
    “As I had thought, those are Agasura also, but I fear not the last of them! Constant vigilance everyone!”
    Boxer bears came in great numbers followed by more of the packaged rocks and Abio Cokes Curt named Pop & Rocks respectively. Peorth lead the charge, taking the initiative and drawing the focus of most of the Agasura to herself. Though surrounded, her spear danced amidst the Agasura and she had managed to keep them at bay.
    Amata raised her staff high before bringing it down as she shouted, “Hellfire!” Magic circles opened up in the sky and a torrent of fireballs rained down upon their enemies while Curt jumped in and picked off any who had not caught sight of him. He jumped from one to the next with a dagger in one hand and knives in the other, hurling them to and fro.
    TJ looked back to Su who had two candy canes down near the bridge and a series of rope she had laid out to tie them together. She may not have had the time to concern herself with his plight, but he was watching her. He would manage, even if he was alone. He pounded his fists together as he shouted, “I'm counting on you Su!”
    “Try not to fuck this up would ya'?” She answered from nearby.
    “Frequency!” His eyes lit up a jade green and he scanned the battlefield. Though for the time being his allies were safe, if one of the pops were to spill, it would quickly turn into a disaster for both ally and enemy alike. If they managed to hold out until the rain washed it away though, they would fair fine. Much to his dismay though, the enmies that were not stopped by Curt and Peorth headed towards him and Amata and he found himself at a loss.
    “Time too put that skill of yours to work TJ. You've impressed me once.” Amata said with a grin. “Think you could pull it off a second time?”
    Had the rain been normal water he could use it against the Agasura, but he lacked control over it. The earth was tough also, but with the power of Frequency his skill was enhanced. He would not doubt himself now. He glimpsed at some of the approaching Agasura and raised a wall behind them in a half-crescent, than another in front and closed the two around them. He stomped the ground and the earth rose up before he hurled it into the circle and let out a sigh.
    “We've got some bears closing in on us TJ! Get ready!” Amata shouted to him as she called upon a series of fiery spheres to act as sentries. Each released fireballs until the rain put them out. “I'll cover this side, so watch my flank!”
    If it took his whole group to handle one bear, could he really handle two at a close range? He just had to make sure they could not get to him. He held a hand skyward and a massive iceberg appeared above him. “Shattered Berg!” He roared as chunks of ice shot forward and pummeled the Agasura that followed in the wake of the two. Others out of the fight were caught off guard but it would not suffice. TJ clicked his tongue as he drew his guitar and they came ever closer He strummed it rapidly and a sphere of water grew above him, increasing in size until it reached an incredible height and he hurled it forward. It crashed against the ground and he froze it, catching one of the bears by the leg in the trap but missing the other-to make matters worse more Agasura followed in its wake. It took him by storm and took a swing at him, which he narrowly avoided as he fell away. He placed his guitar to his back and stomped the ground before hurling the earth at the bear. It leapt aside and came at him again, taking wide swipes as he jumped back once and ran backwards to avoid its onslaught. As he did he found himself stepping on rocks and before he knew it fell on his back as a pop approached.
    Amata came to a skidding halt and slid even further back as she followed it up with Fire Burst. “On your feet!” She shouted as she offered him a hand.
    “Behind you!” He cried as he pointed at the bear.
    As it raised a claw to strike her down a fireball from her sentry caught it in the back and staggered it while TJ got to his feet. Amata spun her staff around to bash it across the face and pointed the weapon at it to set it abalze in a torrent of flames. “That's tha-hurgh!” A rocket popsicle drifted by and collided with her, dragging her a few feet before she hit the ground and rolled into Su's makeshift bridge.
    “Oh for fuck's sake. Go sleep somewhere else, dumbass!” Su hissed as she tossed the rope at her incapacitated comrade.
    Agasura were still coming in droves and TJ was running out of choices. He shook his head and pounded his fists together. He brought one down upon the ground and the earth shattered and took to the skies. “Mother Gaia!” He roared as rocks rained down and flew about in every direction, pelting the Agasura around him. He grit his teeth. “Not yet!” He raised a hand to the sky. “Gaia Burial!” The rocks surrounded the Agasura in an earthen storm and trapped them in before converging upon them. He let out a huff and shook his head. The memories he had gathered must have added spells to his repertoire. Was it possible that he could read Memorius Sanctum with his new memories? That aside, Peorth had said it would be a crucial skill to use in battle and if he wished for it that the tome would lend him its aid.. Now may have been the time to put that to the test. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes and opened them with renewed fervor. “To me, Memorius Sanctum!” With a surge of wind the tome appeared before him, followed by a searing pain in his eyes. He gripped it tightly as the book flipped open on its own and turned the pages, stopping somewhere within. Some of the text began to glow and the words shifted in such a way that despite being unable to read, let alone understand the Cerebian language the words came clearly to him. Could it be? He looked out upon the encroaching enemies and steeled his resolve. “Abide by the words of my contract and give me the strength to become the hope of this world!” At his words power welled up within him and his hair turned snow white while his eyes turned a sapphire blue. It was just a guess, but it may have been possible that those words were what he needed in order to transform.
    He looked back to Amata as she got to her feet and crackewd her back. “That damn popsicle got me good. And you!” She picked up the rope and threw it at Su. Who do you think was sleeping huh?! I've got half a mind to tie you to one of these candy canes and let you swim with the fish!”
    “Yeah? Ain't no time like the present to settle an old score bitch! Bring it!” Su roared as she got to her feet and tossed the rope aside.
    TJ lowered his head, closed his eyes clasped a hand to his chest and a tiny light appeared within it before he held it to the sky. It seperated into three and flew to all of his allies, Amata included and the glow healed their wounds. “Can you still fight Amata? Don't push yourself.” He told her with a worried expression.
    She looked at ease. “That feels nice...” She nodded confidently. “Yeah, I'm good to go. The collision wasn't that bad, but it did wind me. Guess I owe you one huh?” She grinned. “I'll deal with you later. Let's go Abellan! Kick some ass, take some names, you know the score. You're in charge.”
    He could not resist the urge to laugh. “I'll do my best. I'll be counting on you too!”
    He drew his guitar and rapidly began to strum it, the clouds above seemed to respond to his playing. Once it came to an end, with a wave of his hand the sound of rolling thunder echoed across the battlefield. “Thunderstorm!” TJ shouted out as bolts rained down upon their adversaries and ignited the field. Arrows of light surrounded him as he began a new song and Amata followed up with Ten Flames.
    “Blow 'em away!” She roared as a series of explosions were followed up by her cackling excitedly.

    It had not been long before the battlefield had soon turned into a field of corpses. Sparks rained across it and the Agasura that were unfornate enough to be caught in the friendly fire were set aflame, which made it all the easier for Amata to fell them. As the numbers dwindled a worn-down looking Peorth and Curt became visible, and with some aid from their companions they had felled the remaining Agasura.
    The group came together at the bridge and TJ helped them ro recover any remaining wounds. His eyes remained focus on the guild master for a spell, her pale body bruised and swollen, but her expression stoic as ever-was she masking her pain, or did it not affect her?
    “TJ, I see you have obtained the Calling ability. Might I inquire how this came about? Peorth asked.
    “I just took your advice,” He answered. “I called Memorius Sanctum to my side and though I couldn't read all of it, there were some words I could make out. It looks like they were the incantation to allow me to use that ability.” He began to sweat. “I know you said to hold back a little on the mana consumption and I did! K-kind of...”
    Peorth shook her head gently. “You need not fret. It is a good thing that you had done so. Given the situation we were in, I cannot say how long we would last in that battle without the timely use of your spellsand aid. Curt and I found ourselves greatly outnumbered, and with multiple bears around finding opportunities to strike became much more difficult. If God Ah is good, I feel that we will not likely run into many more of them going forward, but as always we must be vigilant. We know not what lies ahead, so should we come across new Agasura, take a moment to consider how we proceed. As for those, I feel that I have come to a better understanding on their patterns, and should be able to handle any subsequent appearances.”
    “Thank goodness for that. If you've got any tricks in mind for those rocket popsicles, tell me all the juicy details. I think I've gotten hurt way too many times today.” Amata added with a wry smile.
    “I just built a goddamn amazing fuckin' bridge, and none of you have anything to say about it?” Su asked as she crossed her arms. It was quickly followed up by laughter and acknowledgements. “Fuckin' right.” She muttered uner her breath as she turned away.
    “Alright everyone, let us move it in to place. On three! One, two...” Peorth and the others each grabbed a portion of the candy canes and hauled them over to the bridge before laying them out. “That should suffice. Let us cross quickly and bring it over. They did as suggested and left the gap open so no Agasura would follow them.
    “By the way, I saw a cave or something some odd ways over there,” Su added. I don't really care since I could just go back into the gem, but you might wanna set up camp there. Unless you like being wet.”
    “Dry land? Lead the way,” Amata said without a moment of hesitation. “After being coated in O.J and fighting Agasura all day long I could do with a hot shower and a nice bed to sleep in. But I'll settle for a dry cave.”
    Further up river, just as Su had told them there was a large opening in the stone near the watterfall and the group took cover inside. Though they set up camp at the entrance, Su scouted ahead and soon returned informing them that the cave went on for quite a while.
    “Perhaps this will lead us towards Gula. Considering that we cannot move any further up river without climbing the bedrock itself, this may be the best path for us to follow. Since night has already fallen, I suggest that it would be best if we set up camp here for the night and proceeded through the cave in the morning.” Peorth told them.
    “That sounds like a good idea to me. Let's eat,” Curt shouted enthusiastically.

    “Show me what you can do TJ!” Curt said enthusiastically.
    “H-here goes!” TJ said as he swallowed hard. He held his hands out towards the rock and focuseds his mana towards it. A small crack formed in it and from within a tiny tree sprouted and grew a few feet. “How's that?”
    “Perfect.” Curt said with an approving nod. “Timber!” The Treasure Hunter took his dagger to the tree like an axed and chopped the tiny sapling down as TJ watched silently. He felt a piece of him be chopped down as he watched the tree fall to the ground so they could make firewood of it. “Are those tears I see TJ?”
    The Abellan blinked. “Huh? I'm not crying.”
    “The eyes don't lie dude.” TJ rubbed his eyes and checked his hands-they were dry. He glared at Curt and the Treasure Hunter grinned at him. “Gotcha!” The Abellan pursed his lips before he hit his companion over the head with his fist gently. “O-oww okay I deserved that one.” After making a firepit with the help of TJ he dusted his hands off and signalled the guild master over. “Our part's done. The rest is in your hands.”
    “You have our thanks,” Peorth answered.
    “I'm gonna go check out these caves. Be back in a few.”
    Peorth's eyes followed him for a couple moments before they shifted to TJ and he nearly jumped back. “Would you be so kind as to light this TJ? I must gather the rations.”
    He thought of saying 'leave it to me', but could not utter the words so he saluted her instead. He rummaged through his bag and took out his flint before attempting to light the fire. After a few attempts the sparks crackled to life and the fire started up as he gently stoked the flames-he glanced over his shoulder and saw the guildmaster talking to the Governor of Fire. She returned and gave him an approving nod. “What were you and Amata talking about Chief?” He asked.
    “Curious sort aren't ya'?” Amata asked as she leaned against him and pressed the headphones down to his neck.
    “We were discussing the Cerebian lineage. If you are interested, you are welcome to join in,” Peorth answered with a slight twinkle in her eye.
    “I'd call it more of a lecture than a discussion, but when you phrase it like that it's pretty flattering.” The Governor of Fire chuckled. “Peorth really knows her stuff. I've talked with scholars and know-it-alls from all over the place and most of them couldn't even dream of knowing what she does.” She smiled gently. “And hey, maybe you might remember something by hearing what she has to say. I dunno if anything other than those stones can jog your memory, but learning a few things about us will do you a world of good.” She crossed her arms and knit her eyebrows. “Though the one we need to study most is you, really. You could put our whole race to shame with how odd you are. If you remember something, don't be afraid to share. We won't bite, but we might poke and prod.”
    TJ blinked as Amata grinned at him and he turned his eyes to the guildmaster who listened with a keen curiosity then gave a nod at his glance. She agreed with that? He could do without the poking, but if there was anything they wanted to know he would share. “I'm all ears.”
    Peorth rubbed her chin thoughtfully as Amata put the pot on the fire and added water. “Where do I begin? There is a mixture of myth and fact scattered about in our history. Some tales are embellished, be it by the bards as they are wont to do, or historians in search of the next link in the chain, to fill the gaps that they lacked. The texts claim that our race hails from the Creator Goddess Amae Herself, that it began with her and the clans all descended from the seven warriors She had appointed to fight alongside Her and God Ah. Others say that there were many others Cerebians before that, and the basis of the clans were born from those that had followed the seven when they had went their seperate ways, following the battle against Agasura King Asmodeus and his army.” Peorth took a spoon and stirred the broth evenly and steadily for a couple of moments. “I believe there is truth to both accounts. If we are to consider the origins of the cities that existed upon Asgard up until but a few short years ago, many of them still have strong ties to the past, and the clans that reside in them are proof of that fact. Among the many cities, there are families that hold to rituals from ages past, and pass on these very things to the next generation in their line. Though you may not be aware of it, both Amata and I are proof of that very fact.”
    “Y-you are?” TJ asked with a start.
    “Indeed.” The guild master nodded. “As you are aware, I am of the Ásvaŕtlim Clan, and for hundreds of years we have been known as those chosen by Lady Amae Herself. We bore the herald, and also one of Lady Amae's own traits-the power of clairvoyance. Over the years, this ability has waned somewhat through our lineage, and in doing so we have sought out new means in order to perform this feat.” She reached into her pocket and drew her deck of cards. “This is my own. I had tried a myriad of objects and means to master my own innate abilities, and both Freya and I faced a myriad of hardships in order to come to one such conclusion, but in time I had found my way to this. That matter aside, we were not given just this ability alone. We were also those who were chosen to carry out this duty-to lead the Cerebians to salvation, to bridge the gap between us and mankind, and to put a stop to the Agasura once and for all.” She stopped stirring and closed her eyes for a moment. I believe that God Ah and Lady Amae had decided many a years ago that we would be destined to meet. It could have been any of my ancestors from hundreds of years ago and yet...this honour has fallen to me. It seems that they had believed me to be the one that could lead our kind in earnest and then I had met you.” She smiled slightly and her cheeks flushed. “I had always loved and admired my mother-when I was young and we had first parted, I had believed that if she was to have been the one to have met you, that things would be different, that she would succeed where I had failed. Despite that fact it was I nonetheless, and she was always watching over me. She had guided me to you. It truly is, a miracle.” She sniffed quietly and lowered her head. “Amata would you continue in my stead? I would like to focus on my cooking for now.”
    Amata smiled. “Sure. So TJ, I know you're pretty informed about the God's Governors so I can spare you a lot of details on that. Now I'm gonna shock you,” She began.
    “Eh?” He asked. She had electricity? Should he be scared? Would it hurt?
    She cleared her throat. “A lot of Cerebians don't believe the God's Governors exist you know.” He looked nonplussed. “Ha! Your face speaks for itself.
    “B-b-but how?! I mean you guys are...”
    The God's Governor of Fire nodded sagely. “Truth be told, a lot of the time we really don't stand out much. We usually appear in bad times and handle matters. My dad, grandpa, and all the other God's Governors before them lived pretty ordinary lives on Asgard, but if the Agasuras ever got out of hand they would join in to put a stop to them. Most of them have been watching, waiting for you to appear. They knew their duties, and they knew when you came from...wherever it is you do, that's when they would really need to buckle down and put all that training to use. Power like ours was something they tried to keep under wraps, even from the Cerebians, so most that haven't met us think of us as nothing more than a myth. Though back on topic, we hail from a clan too. Somewhere along the way our last name changed and then it got a little confusing but we're still the descendants of Rayinth, the first God's Governor of Fire. The other God's Governors are likely the same. Me, Su, that weirdo Kooh, and whoever that other guy is.” Her face twitched. “It'd help if he came out of hiding already! He damn well knows we need him!” She huffed. “Still, a lot of the times our lineage really rears it's head when it comes to rituals and stuff like that. The prayer that I say before I can awaken is one of those very rituals you know. It's the way the God's Governors have chosen to tap into their power, and those words have been passed down since the beginning of time. That, and the look and outfit we take up.” Amata grinned. “To think that my ancestors once wore that same garb is pretty cool. I'm willing to bet that you've got a couple rituals that you do too TJ. You might not be aware of it, but it's a part of our history. It's what makes us who we are, and though we might not realize it, it's a gift from our ancestors.”
    Peorth raised her head and her eyes focused on him. “It is as Amata says. The song that you play and the lyrics that accompany it are a form of ritual also. Music has been a very important part of our kind for many a years, but it is the first time I have seen it used to summon the spirit of another to fight.”
    “H-hold on a second there Peorth.” Amata said with a cautious look and an open palm. “She fights? That Velvet girl?” TJ nodded. “Explain.”
    “You had heard of the Synergism ability that TJ has obtained correct?” Peorth asked.
    “Yeah I heard that weird spirit he summoned mention it. It let's him summon the Einherjars right? But she also described them as the sealed Saints so does that mean...?”
    Peorth nodded gravely. “Yes it is true. They are my felled companions. Felled, but not forgotten. The fact that TJ could speak to Velvet is proof that they are there, and though for a brief time may return to this world as themselves. That aside, it means they too, are waiting on the other side for us. I cannot help but wonder if it is possible that we will fight together once more and if so...perhaps I will see my family once more.”
    TJ's eyes shuttered-he wanted to comfort Peorth. Years later, though she knew her mother was gone it seemed that a part of her still yearned to see her. If Peorth admired her, she must have been something special. “I know we'll cross paths with them again Chief. I believe in Velvet, and I'm willing to bet the others would say the same thing. I'm not sure how long it'll take but we'll find those Sinners and rescue the others. Definitely!” He explained with clenched fists.
    “So it's true then? That your clan can appoint new Saints? N-not that I had any doubts on the matter but you know how things can get blown out of proportion sometimes...” Amata muttered under her breath while she averted her gaze.
    Peorth nodded. “That is indeed fact. That matter aside, there is a question that matter brings up.”
    “What is it?”
    “I have heard that it was possible for our kind to summon. Leaving aside the God's Governor's uncanny abilities to call upon the powers of spirits, some tales say that there were Cerebians known for their ability to invoke the power of Cerebians who had gone through apotheosis and took their place among the gods, rather than becoming Einherjars. It is possible that the Invocation ability shares some similarities with this, but as of yet I lack the concrete proof to know.”
    Amata crossed her arms. “It sounds plausible though, doesn't it? I mean we have the ability to allow humans to become Confidants through 'Ascension' so it doesn't seem impossible that the gods could deify us. The only ascended Cerebians I could think of are Lady Amae's Seven Saints. Or at least, so I've heard. Most of the people I've spoken with claimed that Cerebians ascending to godly status was improper and that the only one who could be anything close to that would be the Abellan. But just the way they used the title made me think that even they had their doubts that he existed to begin with.” She sighed. “I suppose if I wasn't a God's Governor maybe I would too. Still, despite you being the Abellan I had treated you rather unfairly TJ. Sorry-really.” He gestured for her not to worry. “Still, it looks like there are really deep connections between the living and the dead. Those who are deified, your Saints, the Einherjars...and then there's Su...” Amata crossed her arms thoughtfully. “Tell me something Peorth. Do you know of the clan of shamans?”
    Peorth nodded. “My family was once acquainted with one of the Artimen Clan. What of them do you wish to know?”
    “I'd heard they were able to cross the borders between worlds-to access the plane between the world of the living and the dead. In that place they would purify the souls of the dead before sending them to the other side. Was it true that their quest was to bridge the gap between the two worlds? Could they manage that?”
    “I cannot say whether or not that it was possible for them to do so sucessfully, as it may have been a path they chose to follow, or that the gods themselves had appointed to them, but it is true that they could go to such a place.” Peorth looked down at the pot as she continued to stir it solemnly, thoughtfully. She had already added the ingredients and the fragrant smell nearly made TJ's mouth water. Though nowhere near as delicious as Peorth's home cooked meals, even rations tasted good after a day of adventuring. “The last of them...at least that I knew of, was murdered.” She shook her head. “I cannot help but think that the person or orginization who had done such a thing was a sympathizer of the Agasura, to have selected him specifically. We must be wary-those forces plague not only Jienda alone, but also the Big Apple and likely any cities upon the continent. Their forces have been around for more than just a matter of years.” Peorth's expression turned grave. “If you are to seek out information, ensure that you do so through the appropriate channels, God's Governor. As the saying goes, 'there are snakes in the grass and wolves in the woods'. Proceed with caution, and choose your actions wisely.”
    Amata closed her eyes. “...I see. I'd heard about them from one of the members of Bastion, but to think they'd spread out that far.” She clicked her tongue. “If they've got the gall to step foot in any of my territory they're gonna have to answer to me and the rest of Mezzalone. We don't take kindly to any who fight for the Agasura.” TJ swallowed the statement hard.
    After taking a spoonful of the food in the pot and tasting it, Peorth gave an approving nod. “It seems that our meal is prepared. Let us find Curt and eat, shall we?”

    The following morning the group had packed up everything and eaten their meal before making their final preparations to continue their journey.
    “Stay together everyone. Light is scare within the caverns, so we must proceed with caution. We know not what lurks within the darkness so we must assume that our enemy is around us at all times,” Peorth explained.
    “It really is dark in here...” Amata muttered under her breath. “Do you think it's possible that there's some kind of trick to lighting this place?”
    “Why not just have that idiot eat something again? If it worked the first time I'd bet it'd work again.” Su suggested with a shrug.
    “What do you suggest?” TJ asked as he glanced around the cave. As the God's Governor had said, it was rather dark-the only light within was that of the crystals that rested against and within the walls. The path was rather narrow, but if three or four of them had lined up side-by-side they could likely walk through. At least three of them could fit without tripping over a crystal formation. Su pointed to the crystals and he looked nonplussed. “I can eat a lot of things but I can't eat that.”
    “Can't knock it 'till you try it dude.” Curt said as he glanced over at them. “Like those berries. Crazy tasty, but they don't grow out here.” He sighed. “I've got a serious craving for some more but I really don't wanna mission back there to get them.”
    “So why don't you be the sacrifice then and stop yammering on about some stupid fruits?” Su asked with an exasperated gaze.
    “Wow! You sure know how to make that sound tempting don't you?”
    “Well you did say 'can't knock it 'till you try it' so all the more reason for you to go first Curt.” Amata said with a devilish grin.
    He raised a finger to object but opted out for frowning instead. “Me and my big mouth. Fine, I'll do it.” Curt walked over and tapped one of the crystals a couple times to see how sturdy it was. He gripped a piece with his left hand and raised his right elbow before bringing it down upon the rock. A piece cracked off and he weighed it in his hand thoughtfully for a couple of moments. He eyed it, sniffed it and rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
    “Oh get on with it already would you? We don't have all damn day for your moronic antics,” Su roared.
    He eyed her solemnly, then turned his eyes back to the stone before sticking his tongue out. After one lick, he smacked his lips then grinned like a child in a candy store. “These are no gemstones! It's rock candy! The sweetness, the texture, everything about it is just perfect!” He tossed a piece into his mouth and chewed it. “Come on guys, give it a try! Stuff's great! I could eat it all day!”
    TJ blinked, then held out a hand. “I'll give it a try.” He said as Curt gave him a piece. Reluctant at first, he placed it in his mouth and sucked on it for a moment and noticed that it indeed tasted good. It was rather sweet in fact, although it looked like a gemstone and he began to enjoy the taste before he chewed and swallowed it. “Those actually aren't ba-whoa! Curt you're...you're glowing!”
    “W-what? Oh man I am. I'm radioactive!” He said flailing his arms as Amata snorted out a chuckle.
    “This is good. So long as we can maintain this light, I feel that we could proceed through the dungeon with much less fear. Even if there is a lack of crystals, with this much light the chance of any Agasura that attempt to take the initiative on us will not find their attempt met with simple success.”
    TJ began to glow gently too and he looked down at his hands. “As an added plus, we don't need to use mana to light the way either. We should take some of these back outside of the Instance. They might come in handy.”
    “You've got business sense TJ! A man after my own heart!” Curt added and Peorth looked at him incredulously.
    “One of you only thinks about food and the other about money. Are you two sure you're not Sinners in disguise?” Amata joked with a shrug.
    “Only one way to find out. Let's dissect 'em and see what we can learn from 'em.” Su twirled her dagger in her hand and pointed it at the two with an evil grin.
    Both raised their hands in solemn surrender.
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sat Aug 01, 2015 7:59 pm

    Su's Bandages of Chest Binding:
    You know, I hadn't realized all of Su's names had 'su' in them until after I wrote them. The first one was on purpose. The second one was because I think that is a god-tier name. Completely unintentional, but clever. Sometimes I impress myself with my unintentional cleverness!
    With that said, let's get down to it!

    When I first started writing the dungeon, in truth I had a very plain idea for it. In truth, the walkway wasn't supposed to split apart and separate the group. As I worote towards it though the idea just came to me and then I ran with it. At first the concept did seem a little overwhelming, and I started to wonder exactly how I would make the scenario play out. Going forward, it turned to TJ's monologue and I continued on with the idea-it proved to be a good opportunity to build his character. There's no denying that often times you see his character growth through his monologues, and the reason being for that is that his character serves as a foil to the others, more often than not. Take the discussion between Amata and Peorth for example-he had little to do with it, next to adding in the occasional comment, but the fact still stands it was a part of his story also. More about that later.
    Back on topic, one of the things about him is that the monologues show his true feelings-the words he won't speak and the things he won't share with his comrades. The doubt, the fears, and the ever-growing sense of despair against a threat that grows stronger everyday he spends hunting it down. To most of them, they see him as happy-go-lucky and optimistic, but he, as some of the others do has ghosts he keeps hidden underneath his persona, and when away from them they return for a haunt. Add Agasura into the mix and you've got trouble-throw in Adonis, Choen Palm or Asmodeus and you've got a crisis on your hands. In spite of all of that though, he's steadily beginning to change. When he first faced off with Choen Palm(for example) he was absolutely paralyzed with fear, and the second time around he had the courage to face her head-on, though mostly driven by revenge and the desire to protect his current allies. The fear of the aftermath still lingers, yet he still presses forward against new challenges. That aside, his fear of himself is beginning to wane and in turn he's capitalizing on his unique Agasuric abilities-something he was and still often is reluctant to do, but is coming to understand that he may come to need it more than ever in the coming days.
    Before I move on to talking about Su and her story there's one more thing about him I'd like to cover-his character was one that was typically pretty...forgiving? Can't find the word I'm looking for, but he very rarely, if ever got mad, leaving aside a few crucial moments and his character early on. Post CoI, he took on a much kinder attitude. That fact still stands, and his character is going to change drastically, but every now and then, as you can see even he gets a little upset. Sometimes it'll show through his expressions or words, but this is something I'd like to build on to make his character a bit more well-rounded. This isn't something I plan on throwing in randomly just for the sake of having of course! But definitely something he could use, and may do if the situation is appropriate for it. As one would expect, that's going to be rather infrequent.

    Next up is Su-the voice of reason, and one who knows how best to handle TJ when he's being stubborn which is rather frequent. Took me a little bit to think up how she would get him to agree to let her put on the binding, and then it came to me. I did often consider what she would keep in that bag of hers-clothes, tools and such. Figured that at some point having one such item would be handy, likely something that she would have used in the past and it became something she found a use for in the present. Don't ask me how that Elfa joke got in there, but I found it a nice little homage to Frequency and the funeral held for Su, while also serving as an explanation to how she kept her things! Does that mean she still has that dress? Possibly!
    That part where he took her hand was something I'd felt iffy about at first. I mean, in one sense, it could be considered a big deal or a little one-I found myself asking, what does it symbolize? What does that small gesture say about TJ's thoughts towards her and the relationship between the two of them? They're both comrades and enemies, friends and rivals-closely knit enough to love each other, but neither honest or sure enough to take that step, let alone to consider the possibility. Leaving aside the fact TJ knows precious little of it, and Su never cared a whit for something so trivial, nor had the  time for such a frivolity. Her reaction was meant to show that she was aware of it, but despite the fact still played it off. Really well at that! In truth I think it's one of her strong traits-unlike most of the others she's much more attuned to masking her emotions, but lacks control over them. Considering her age, it's impressive as is, but there are times where outbursts happen, and this too is a fitting trait for her. The times where she openly speaks about herself are far and few between, but as her story comes to a head and the bonds between the two are strengthened, she's beginning to open up to him more. Consider the fact that it's just the two there-in the presence of others she'll rarely, if ever speak her true feelings on most matters.
    Moving on to her story, that essentially is the gist of it. Of course, it's a very abridged explanation of it, and there's more that she could tell but she covered the parts she considered important. Her training, tests and such she left out-partially because she thought little of them, and partially because she doesn't have fond memories of the lives she took. Frequency had showed that despite how much she's done it and continues to, those very things have come back to haunt her, and though she's becoming more Agasuric and jaded, beneath that exterior lurks a deep-rooted and bone-shaking fear of the unknown. It's possible that she may be another person searching for redemption through their journey.
    The next thing is about who the 'mutual friend' is so if you've guessed it and want to confirm, click the tag. If you dunno and want to find out, click the tag. If you don't wanna know, don't click the tag. There's also a little tidbit about Hanamah so you've been warned.
    Yeah it was that person:
    Lemme give you a bit of history here. Originally when I wrote Inno, Tamori was to be friends with one of the DMK's generals. Upon that specific general's defeat by Reina's hand, that would be what sews the seeds of Tamori becoming a double-agent. Essentially, considering that USSR exists and that Reina had successfully completed the mission, this in fact DID happen. But it wasn't just that-that fact was meant to serve as a red herring for who the mutual friend actually was. On that topic though, the reason being that the two had mixed feelings about the campaign was because of the initial bloody slaughter in Aoich that lead to the existence of 'The Warriors of the New Moon'. A force which Salem was once a part of. Though the two were sworn to the castle, they had mixed feelings about the king's right-hand man and his means during campaigns to see the missions through-so upon the king's defeat at Hanamah by Su's hands, Tamori had put down his sword as did the other general.
    Now then, on to the crux of the matter. If you've read USSR, you know how Samson was a collector of treasures and Cerebian artifacts-one of those very things being the Mino Gemstone, an item Reina said had been lost to the Dark Moon. Yes, it was Samson. I had long since considered reasons for Tamori taking up Su, even more so than her being God's Governor of Earth and this was it. Samson had once challenged the Dark Moon himself, of course, he didn't charge in through the  front door but he did some scouting of his own during his younger days. He had a run-in with Tamori who saw through his disguise and their conflict had turned from one of enemies into a friendship. No riversides or sunsets here though-but there totally could be! Cherry Lake isn't far from Aoich. Jokes aside, their conflict became a bond between Humans and Cerebians, but Samson did not have the power to make Tamori into a Cerebian, nor did he want to be one because the DMK was practically a death-trap for any Cerebian unfortunate enough to wander in. Nevertheless, Tamori relinquished the treasure Samson sought out over to him, and they built a bond. This, is what lead to Samson coming up with the name Kasumi for Su, and in turn Tamori deciding on the name Setsuna. I won't go into the details of that because I'd practically be writing a short-story, but that essentially is the gist of it. Thus, in short despite Tamori knowing of the Cerebians, he was not a Confidant, but upon meeting Su he knew it was her, so he had more than one reason for taking the girl in. In essence, it was a favour to an old friend.
    There's actually a lot of little things like that scattered throughout the story that connect them-there's a chance this story will appear in the future, or remain as a concept for the characters but for now that's another idea I've been playing around with for some time now.
    Back on topic, the next part, about Su's jealousy...mm, well it was a mix of things. When she said, 'And that clown said I was jealous?" it came off as her admitting to the fact, but that wasn't the intention. She was wholly referring to Peorth and her jealousy of Freya getting ahead of her. Though there is a sing that she is becoming more aware of her feelings so...you know, potential romance. Finally. This, among other things is one of the major foundations of the one-sided feud between her and Peorth. More internal conflict and delicious, delicious angst. Can never get enough of it. On that note, her sass is top-notch per usual.

    I'll talk a bit about Peorth and Amata, since their part plays a big part. Here, is a time where Peorth really shines. She's typically calm and collected, so she serves to balance out the group. Her observatory demeanour allows her to consider the situation and come to logical conclusions on how they should proceed, so when in doubt as you can see, the group typically turns to her for guidance. Amata is growing a bit more comfortable around her so there's a little less awkwardness between the two, and a bit more admiration, not that there was a lack of that before. With her, I suppose in a sense I had a similar problem as I did with TJ-in some cases, she seemed a bit too perfect. Though deep down I am aware of her faults, what they are and how they balance her out, I had to consider things from a reader's point of view. Do I show it enough, or is there a lack of? The character's traits as I know them, her past and what makes her perfect and imperfect are currently only headcanons to me so her actions can be misleading. The moment where she uses Sagacity is one-the counter would have seemed impossible had Curt not asked if she expected it. Her confession shows that though she has battle prowess, she is no one-woman army. In the fight against the bear also, you see that she has openings-if she can't keep an enemy at her spear's length she finds herself at a disadvantage, so a close-range fighter like those, combined with their speed are a bane to her.
    Personality wise, she too shows her most open self when alone-especially with her crush. When around her guildmates or other people she has a very serious deameanour, not only to hide her true feelings, but also because of her duty as guildmaster. Kooh and Sellistar mentioned this initially, but she often has to work harder to keep the image up. For her to falter in the face of them, those under her could lose morale, and it could have a domino effect on the whole Cerebian race, considering that she stands as the reigning queen, though still unknown to most. This fact is gonna play a big part in the coming chapters so keep a close eye out!
    She too though, despite her usually serious attitude shows that she has a bit of a girly side also. Though she never explicitly showed interest or said it, she thinks about doing romantic things, and when exposed can become a bit defensive about it. Usually she gives off odd looks and blank gazes, but this time she was caught in the act so it was the other way around. Honestly, if I was on the receiving end of those looks I'd be permanently disturbed.

    Once again, Amata's seen some change too. She's become a bit more open with the group and she's becoming more friendly with them. That aside, before she would often try to do things herself, and ignore her companions in the process-in the more recent fights and events, she's taken a shine to putting her trust in her companions as Peorth suggested she do, and with their help and some support provided by her, they've become a lot stronger for it, and the chance of them killing each other has decreased substantially. Her growth is essentially linked to the rest of the team, but the reason for this is because she alone is a character that is strong all by herself. With or without companions, she can stand all on her own, but therein lies her fault. She's independent to a fault, and that very thing is what's holding her back from learning to master her powers. This is, essentially a problem she and Su share, but each is for different reasons, and Su has other things that need to be solved before she could undergo such a change. Though it might seem like Amata's changes are happening suddenly, it too, is a steady growth-quicker than many of the others, but that's because she's already been through a lot and overcame hardships to get where she is. It's like putting the finishing touches on a cake. It's baked, just needs icing and maybe some strawberries too.
    Moving on, something I've always considered is her character being a knowledgeable one. There are a few like her, for example Peorth and Reina, but what they seek isn't the same thing. Peorth is well-rounded in this case-be it about God Ah's family, the Abellan, the God's Governors or general history, she knows of it and searches for more of it. Reina is more curious about the history, the rituals, the mythology and how they're all connected-not just that though, but of the artifacts and the stories they contain or pertain to. Amata is more focused on the people, the legends, and the battles of the past, present and future-who did what, and when? What were they known for and what were their achievements? It's one of the reasons she's so keen on getting to know the God's Governors of the past and present, and often takes a shine to strong people. She didn't know Queen Remedi personally, but the fact she got to meet her daughter and that Peorth is as incredible as she is stands out to her. There's a certain headcanon I have about this and that friend of hers she mentioned during 'Sister' but I can't say it yet. It's magnificent though.

    Now then on to the topic of the culture. This was a long time coming-what once started out as an idea I brainstormed soon became a concept, and then into canon. I had always dreamed of building the world-making Asgard a 'thing' rather than just an idea. It used to be just a giant piece of land in the sky with trees and water, but now it's a world with bustling cities and strange creatures that inhabit it. With people, both adventurers and civilians alike, with songs and dances and rituals specific to different parts of the region. And it all got wrecked during the Second Asgardian War BUT that dream of a return-of the redemption of the Cerebian's home feels...palpable. So much so I feel as if I could share in that when I hear the characters speak of it or their thoughts on how they knew it, and their  dreams of going back. It's a place they hold dear, and one they want to see rise in all its glory and splendor one day. To rebuild what they had lost, and start anew in a better time-one without war.
    Little by little, I want to continue building the foundations of that world. USSR, and Reina's family, the Godwins(she's a Falk now technically) served as a part of that foundation, and as their story moves on it'll grow with old and new characters alike. Their stories, their backgrounds, lifestyles and choices-everything. I want there to be a history, budding legacies, truth and fiction, fact and myth alike, and everything in between. The lines will be blurred and crossed over but somewhere in all of it the characters will find the answers they set their lives to in order to find out and in doing so, eventually come to their conclusions-to find peace of mind in the world they had put their efforts towards building, and give hope to the generations that follow in their wake.
    When I think of this, the characters really come to life. It reminds me that they're more than just concepts and ideas-that they too, could be people, and that if they existed that such bravery and conviction could even convince someone as listless as me into action-into joining their fight. What I've yearned for during my struggles is that feeling-to give my character's the shape that they need, the drive, and the momentum.
    The foundations are there, the table is set. The real fun is just getting started.
    .

    I suppose I've said my piece for today-I was supposed to talk a bit more about the rituals and such, and spells and their upgraded versions but I might save those for future chapters or the end of chapter review. In case you were wondering why this was so detailed, I employed a secret technique that required a lot of money and time-money and time I don't have, so don't expect it to happen too frequently. Anyway, it's late already and if I'm anything but listless I'll be damned. Got a bit too fired up at the end and it's kinda tired me out so I'll leave it there for today. Until next time!
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Wed Aug 19, 2015 3:26 pm

    Pages 252-260:
    “Guess I'll take the lead since I'm a walking talking lantern. Forward march!” Curt shouted as he pointed forward and the team followed in his wake. “Unless our princess wants to eat one of these tasty crystals.” He grinned.
    “Don't get smart,” Amata said.
    “In truth I am not very fond of sweets, but should you feel unsure about being the vanguard I have no qualms about the matter.” Peorth added as she eyed him.
    “Hang on a sec' there.” The Governor placed a hand before the guildmaster. “Jokes aside, we'd been through something like this already back in the Pharaoh's Chambers with TJ. Can we not risk your life too please?”
    “Thanks voice of reason. Not that I care.” Su said with a shrug to which she received an exasperated glance in turn.
    “No it's fine. Let's go.”
    Curt went on with TJ nearby, and Peorth following beside him with her spear at the ready. Both God's Governors followed up after them, Amata carefully glanced back every now and then in case an Agasura snuck up on them. As the group walked Curt felt his way around by keeping his hand to the wall, but somewhere along the way he suddenly slipped and fell aside causing everyone to panic.
    “C-Curt! Are you alright?!” TJ asked as he glanced to where Curt was and saw the Treasure Hunter just barely remaining on his feet above a swirling hole that seemed to lead into a lower portion of the caverns.
    “Talk about a close call. Lend me a hand would you?” He asked as sweat ran down his brow. Peorth and TJ each took a hand and pulled him out from above the hole. “It's a good thing that there are more crystals ahead. We can actually see where we're going, and it looks like there's more holes too. If I do fall, one of you better be ready to sprout wings and dive after me. I don't think there's marshmallows waiting for me at the bottom of those holes.”
    “Well when you're impaled and bleeding out you can think of marshmallows if it makes you feel better,” Su remarked.
    “That's uhh...graphic.” Amata muttered under her breath with knit brows.
    Curt tossed a few more crystals and chewed on them as the glowing effect on him began to wane. “That's where you guys come in. Just don't get impaled with me would ya'? Or it's gonna be a huge problem for all of us,” Curt said.
    “Can we not talk about getting impaled? Or getting killed in general? I'd rather not picture that.” TJ added with pursed lips.
    “Worry not. We shall come to your aid should you fall,” Peorth said.
    “Good. I'll be counting on you then.” Curt said as he moved forward. The path seemed to wind and rise as it did, crystals lined the walls and the ceiling of the caverns and holes like tunnels lined the path making it ever more dangerous for the group without the proper light. He placed a hand to his forehead and scouted out the area, but in the darkness it was tough to see what was ahead. He blinked once as he saw a crimson object that seemed to be approaching him. “Do you guys see that?”
    “Get down!” Su shouted and everyone immediately fell to the floor. A popsicle, or what seemed to be one drifted over their heads and continued soaring through the caverns while leaving a frosty trail in its wake.
    “Those are the same things I saw shooting across the sky!” TJ cried out as he raised his head.
    “And the same thing that flew straight into my stomach. I'm hurting all over again just thinking about it...” Amata muttered under her breath.
    “You know, if enough of those things come flying down this path there's a good chance we could get knocked into a hole. This place is way more dangerous than we think.” Curt rose to his feet and dusted off his clothes. “It's getting pretty exciting!”
    Su furrowed her brows. “Can I just...put this idiot out of his misery before he gets us killed too?”
    “Please refrain from doing so,” Peorth answered.
    As they went onward they came to an opening, and found themselves in a wider section of the caverns. The entire section was littered with bright crimson crystals.
    “What's up with these ones?” Amata asked as she walked past the others and tapped one. She looked through the area in case of Agasura and gestured a couple of the others over. Su and Curt were inspecting some by the entrance.
    “I cannot say by just looking, but the seperation in colour likely means that it serves a secondary purpose. I suppose that there is one definitive way to find an answer, but I cannot bring myself to ask any of you to consume such an untested subject without the proper knowledge of its effects,” Peorth answered.
    “Don't worry about it Peorth.” Curt answered with his mouth full. “I'm already way ahead of you on that page.” The guild master looked nonplussed by the statement.
    Amata laughed, “You know, your willingness to do something stupid so we don't have to is almost admirable. Here's to hoping that you come out of that alive.”
    Curt swallowed. “You know I didn't think that far ahead. What are the odds that I'll blow up or mutate or something, do you think?”
    “A hundred to none.”
    TJ laughed this time around, “You know, as grim as that is, when you put it like that it does sound kinda funny.”
    “So? Where's that third arm huh? I'm getting impatient.” Su asked as she approached and crossed her arms.
    Curt raised an eyebrow. “Third arm? Well if that's what you're looking for I already have one but you're a bit too yo-” It was not long before Su had him on the ground with her hands around his neck. “H-hang on! You're gonna stretch my neck out! I'll become a giraffe!”
    Amata placed a hand over her eye and sighed gently. “These idiots...”
    Moments after Su began throttling him Curt melted into the stone beneath him and an image of him was all that remained in the stone. The group looked startled, save for Peorth who crouched down and slid her hand across the image.
    “It seems that the crystals within this part of the cavern contain a defensive measure, perhaps to aid us against attacks that would typically be unavoiadble by any other means. It may be in our best interest to carry some on our persons and use them should the need arise, but sparingly.”
    Curt emerged from the ground and sat up with a bewildered look. “Well that's the first time I've ever been turned to stone. Any longer and I might've started to enjoy it.” He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Bit more and I could sneeak a peek at-”
    This time around Amata's staff came down on the Treasure Hunter's head and he bent over rubbing the top of it. “I know exactly what you're going to say, and if you've got the balls to say it aloud I'll set them both aflame. Got it?” She asked with a vicious tone.
    “He reminds me of that moron Vanir. Gross.” Su muttered under her breath.
    TJ looked to Peorth who seemed to have her head facing the opposite direction, for some odd reason, and then to Curt who rubbed his head gently. “Want me to heal that up for you? It looks pretty painful.”
    Amata placed a hand to his shoulder and shook her head. “That's his punishment. Let him learn from it,” She said.

    After a short break the group continued on through the caverns, each carrying a few pieces of the rock candy they had discovered. Curt and TJ held on to the blue counterpart which Curt occasionally ate to keep the light radiating from him, but the intervals became farther and fewer between the further they went on. TJ could not help but wonder if he had acquired a taste for them.
    Curt held out a hand. “Listen. You guys hear that?” Peorth and Su nodded in response. “Rocket popsicles, and it sounds like a lot of them are coming. Get in the walls!” The group each took out a piece of the rock candy and split up, each swallowing a piece before taking to the walls or the floor as a series of Agasura flew by in three waves. After they passed by the group emerged and regrouped. “Guess that explains what those are good for huh? Thank goodness for that.”
    “I believe it is far too early for us to let our guard down Curt. I can hear more Agasura coming. Everyone, to arms!” Peorth shouted, and everyone drew their weapons. From around the corner a large crimson boxer bear scrambled into their vision and rose to its feet before roaring at them. It took up a battle stance before it approached, and Peorth took to the vanguard to meet it. “I will strike first! Broken Wings!” She armed her spear and hurled it over her shoulder.
    The bear stepped aside and the spear collided with a wall where Peorth reappeared and charged back in, causing it to turn around and focus on her.
    “Quit standing aside idiots and get it while it's not looking!” Su shouted as she charged past them towards the teeming darkness where Peorth presided.
    “Right!” TJ shouted as the others followed in her wake. He heard the sound of a scream and turned around to see a snake coiled around a crystal hanging from the ceiling capture Amata and pull her from the ground by her neck. Her staff clattered to the ground and she struggled to break free from its grip on her. “H-hang on Amata I'm coming!”
    He put his guitar on his back and ran towards her, jumped up to her and wrapped his arms around her waist as he tried to pull her out from the snake's hold.
    “Incoming popsicles!” Curt shouted from ahead.
    “Oh...no...” TJ muttered. Moments before he let go of Amata's waist the popsicles came soaring towards him and the first wave caught his legs. His entire body turned as the second wave came after, and collided with his stomach before drifting by. He flipped through the air before falling face-first into the stone. “Guh...” He pried himself from the ground and wiped the blood from his nose and mouth before he stole a glance at Amata who was still constrained and Curt who was laid out also. Su dove from the ceiling and cut a swath through the bear before sliding beneath its fist. He spread his wings and glared at the snake before he jumped to the wall and from it to freeze the water in the air before him into a n icile and cut through the snake. Amata fell to the ground and lay incapacitated as she coughed and gasped for air, gently rubbing her throat. TJ came to a skidding halt and drew his guitar to lend his allies aid against the bear.
    It blocked the shaft of Peorth's spear with its paw as it slid towards her and thrusted its free paw into her chest forcing her back while Su leapt on its and thrust her dagger into its neck. As she ripped the weapon out it reached behind it as it crouched down and grabbed her by the sweater before hurling her over its head against the ground. The moment she touched the ground it followed up with a jab to the chest and side-stepped as a series of icicles from TJ's Frozen Blitz came after it.
    Earth magic was definitely out-not even Su used it, and he could see why. If he was to do so, the caverns could collapse and the group would fall into the dark unknown depths. So long as he had his ice magic, it would suffice for the time being. TJ grit his teeth and with a wave of his hand conjured a sphere of water before him. “I'll cut you down! Caster's Workshop!” He placed his hands to the sphere and shaped a short-sword before he caught it and charged ahead. With a leap he brought the sword down and found the strike caught between the bear's paws. It ripped the sword from his hands and punched him twice in the stomach which sent him reeling back. One eye closed and a hand to his stomach, he caught a glimpse of the sword he created flying towards him. Moments before it impaled him he found Curt standing before him with his shield raised-stopping the blow from felling him. “Nice save Curt!”
    “Leave the sharp weapons to us TJ. Guitars are more your style.” He added with a grin. He charged ahead and locked weapons with the bear while Peorth's spear grazed its flank. It stepped aside and dragged Curt's shield with it but he persisted in remaining in a deadlock with it.
    Su peeled herself from the ground and rubbed her stomach with a look of frustration. “Goddamn Agasura...I'm gonna cut that fucker a new hole. And where's that useless ass Amata?” Thoughts of looking back to her danced in TJ's mind but the look in Su's eyes was one of caution. “More of them are coming! Get down!”
    TJ drew a piece of the crimson candy from his pocket and readied himself to eat it as he glanced back to Amata, and saw the girl crouched down holding her head with a look of absolute terror on her face. He grit his teeth and dashed towards her using the strength of his wings. As he skidded by her he raised her chin and opened her mouth to put the candy in before he pushed her to the ground-perhaps subconsciously she ate it or swallowed it whole and was submerged in the ground as another wave of popsicles approached. He drew his guitar as a last resort and managed to fend off one of them just barely-the collision took a mighty toll on his body and left him completely weakened as a second wave followed after it. He shielded himself with his guitar once more, but failed to hold his ground and his grip on the weapon loosened. When he finally managed to fend off the Agasura, the strap on his weapon broke and both creature and instrument were flung into one of the holes in the cave. “No!” He shouted as he ran after it and reached out as he hit the floor, then watchhed the two crash against the walls and fall to the depths. As the ribbon upon the neck of his guitar vanished from his sight despair washed over him in tides. His fingers scraped the stone as he slammed his fist down and shook his head, fighting back his tears. Now was not the time. His allies needed him. He ran past as Amata emerged from the ground looking worn-out, but more at e ase than before and turned the corner to find his allies struggling.
    Curt rose to one knee as he coughed up blood and reached out to reclaim his dagger-a snake that arose from one of the holes had coiled around Su and used its body to restrict her weapon arm and her legs, and Peorth was still engaged with the bear but put on the defensive because of how close it was to her. He considered his options-who was he to help first? Who needed him most? He shook his head and ran to aid the guild master who was still locked in combat.
    “TJ! You must not let your guard down! Lend your aid to the others...I shall-” She raised her spear to block a punch and the sheer force of the blow forced her back.
    “You can't manage it alone Chief. I'll fight alongside you!” He shouted in turn as he approached it from behind with a series of icicles at the ready. With a wave of his hand they circled around him and fired from a myriad of directions. The bear pulled away from the guild master and TJ considered his assault a success, but he did not know what lurked around the corner. Moments after Peorth turned to defend her blindspot and what seemed to be a doughnut collided with her. It fell atop her and trapped her just like Amata had been previously, and she struggled to break free. “Chief!”
    She grit her teeth and turned her gaze to him to offer him a reassuring, but clearly strained smile. “Worry not for me TJ! You must focus on the enemy before you concurrently!”
    He wanted to disregard that order and break her free, but he would have to get past the bear first. 'It was just one bear after all, right?' Is what he thought, but he was wrong. The sound of another roaring brought his attention to what lurked within the darkness and unease welled up inside him. He would have to end the battle as quickly as possible to stop the second. He took a deep breath and charged towards it, and as if in response to the action it took on a defensive stance to await his inevitable attack. He reeled a fist back as a feint and opted out for jumping to the side as it took a pre-emptive right hook at him. It's paw barely grazed his shoulder as he drifted by and placed his feet to the walls of the cavern and leapt back towards it with a fist reeled back. It caught on to him quickly and turned on the balls of its heels to avoid his fist and hit it with one of its own, winding him, but in that moment he found his oppportunity.
    “Gotcha! Sub-zero!” He dug his nails into the creature's arm and from there onwards ice encroached upon its body and spread across it with incredible speed. He released it as it had completely frozen and landed on the ground before conjuring water once more. “Caster's Workshop!” He shaped it into a mallet and hauled it over his shoulder before swinging it horizontally. The bear shattered to pieces and the Abellan unintentionally flung the hammer as he collapsed atop the shards of ice and gripped his stomach. The pain from all the blows he took was really starting to catch up to him, and the last blow had done him no favours either, but Peorth and Su still needed him. He tried to force himself to his feet but the throbbing intensified and his body refused to move.
    “Take a breather dude. I'll cover you.” Curt told him as he rushed past, shield and dagger in hand. By the way he moved TJ knew he was fighting the pain he had suffered also, but TJ could only smile bitterly and thankfully for Curt coming to his aid.
    “Hell's fuckin' bells!” Su cursed as she tried to writhe free from the snake's hold but to no avail. “Get me out of here already you useless sack!”
    “Would that I could, but we've got a bigger problem standing before us, now don't we?” Curt stood face-to-face with the second boxer bear that approached. “Shall we...” He put away his shield and drew three knives with a grin. “Dance?” Placing both weapons to his side he charged forward and avoided the bear's first punch. The second one came just as quickly but he managed to avoid it and thrust one of his knives into it. It brought a fist down and he backflipps aside before hurling the other two knives into its right arm. It stormed towards him and he reached into his pocket to draw a pair of tiny yellow bombs in the shape of cylinders. As it drew nearer he sheathed his dagger and took out his flint, and ignited both before hurling them towards the bear. Sparks shot out from each and caused the bear to fall away while Curt drew his dagger and two more knives. He hurled one into the stomach as he leapt towards its left flank, the weapon drawing its attention from the bombs he lit as he ran beneath its arm and grabbed the knife he placed there previously and pulled it through the bear's arm cutting through it and causing it to fall away from the rest, but still cling to the body. As it turned to take a swipe at him the bombs he placed down crackled to life and consistently burst in a series of sparks allowing for another oppening in the Agasura. Curt slide behind it and cut a swath through its back with his dagger while he lodged another knife in its upper back and tore another cut in it with the two in the other arm. It turned to him and tried to hit him with a straight punch but he crouched under it and thrust his dagger into the waist. “Good try but not close enough!”
    He fell away at the sound of incoming popsicles and drew more rock candy from his pocket before eating it and dropping to the ground to hide within it. They passed him by and though they collided with the bear it did not budge-rather they seemed to be deflected by it and flew into walls and down a hole before disappearing from sight. He emerged from the ground and wiped the sweat from his brow before turning to the guild master. “You alright there Chief?”
    She blinked before turning her eyes to him. “Yes, I am safe. It was fortunate that they were not flying low as the previous Agasura had on occasion. But alas, you must not lose focus. Aid us when the enemy before you is felled,” She answered.
    “You got it.” The bear seemed to lose interest in the bombs after they fizzled out and Curt readied both his weapons to engage it again. “Alright, come on then, I'm not done with you yet.”
    “Watch your back dumbass!” Su shouted as another doughnut came rolling down the hill and collided with the Treasure Hunter's back, rolling over him and dragging him a few meteres down into the caverns with it, rolling over TJ as it passed and coming to a halt once Amata blocked it with her staff. “And another one's down for the count. Worthless. So you got any great plans O wise princess?”
    The guild master knit her brows and closed her eyes. “I cannot deny that even I find myself at a loss.” She began as the bear looked around and chose to approach the two. “To use my power here would endanger us all, but it may be our saving grace. But if I was to hurt you all I...”
    “Over here!” TJ shouted as he rose to his feet with one hand still to his tomach. “If you'd thought you'd beaten me, you're wrong!”
    “What do you plan to do you idiot?! You're a mess! You can barely stand!” Su hissed as she struggled some more and craned her neck in a vain attempt to gnaw through the gummy snake. “Just play dead or something!”
    “I can still fight. This strength that plagues me...I won't fear it, not now!” He pounded his fists together and closed his eyes as he lowered his head. “Frequency!” He raised his head and his eyes flickered to crimson as he took on a pugilist's stance. “Come!”
    “This idiot...” She had half a mind to place a hand to her face but could not manage it, which frustrated her slightly.
    Despite his ability to move from where he stood due to weakness, and even more so his lack of a proper taunt, the bear still took the challenge and approached.
    TJ swallowed hard-he was in control. He would not lose to neither Adonis, nor the darkness that lingered within him. To protect his companions, the power of the Agasura may be more necessary than he wished to admit, but now more than ever, one good strike and he would be able to end the fight. Using the Divine or Arcane Arts was too risky for everyone so this may have been his best bet. Whether it would succeed was another matter, but he would not give in. He took a deep breath and crossed his arms over before he placed them to his sides. “Sloth! Indomitability!” A violet mana crept out from the ground beneath him and surged outwards in a cone that surrounded him, leaving a swirling energy below him. The bear saw it as an act of aggression and charged forward as before coming to a sudden halt and reeling a fist back. It punched him once across the face and again in the stomach, but despite both blows hitting him directly he remained standing-his ponytail came undone and his hair fell into his face but beneath them a grin spread across his cheeks. “Wrath! Vengeance!” He stomped one foot down and forced a single fist into the stomach of the bear and the force of the blow shook the very ground they stood on. After a couple of moments ripples echoed through the creature and it burst, its pieces were flung all over and clung to the walls. TJ let out a sigh and brushed his hair aside as he smiled for but a moment, then gripped his stomach as he doubled over and retched, which was quickly followed by a torrent of blood and bile following after. He staggered as he wiped his mouth, then collapsed to the ground.
    “TJ!” Peorth shouted as she got to her feet and ran over to him.
    Amata shook her head and got to her feet as she helped Curt to his. “C-can you stand? Are you alright?” She asked.
    “Just peachy. I didn't get hit too bad so go check on the others. Here, take my dagger.” Curt offered her his dagger and she leaned him gently against a wall.
    “Amata, may I ask of your aid?” Peorth asked with a pleading look in her eyes.
    “Yeah hang on, I'll get you out in a moment!” The God's Governor answered as she carefully handled the dagger and cut away the Agasura that had Peorth trapped. “This thing too, isn't just a doughnut like the others. It has arms and feet...and eyes...” She shuddered. Once Peorth broke free she picked up TJ and cradled him in her arms.
    “Hang in there TJ-my magic may be weak but I will try to help you as much as I am able!”
    Amata smiled gently, but it quickly faded away after she caught a glimpse of the sorry state he was in. I'll go check on Su, so don't let your guard down while I'm gone okay?” Amata made her way further into the cave and caught a glimpse of her companion constrained and sruggling to eat her way through the snake that trapped her. Once she neared the creature hissed at her the Governor of Fire gasped and fumbled the dagger as she fell back and her body began to tremble.
    Su sighed and rolled her eyes. “Can any of you morons do anything right? Seriously!” She managed to struggle and sit up, then squirmed over to the dagger and picked it up with her teeth. Once again she craned her neck, but used the weapon to cut the creature in two, seperating the length of the body from the head and causing it to fall limp, loosening its grip on her. She freed herself from it and threw the carcass back into the hole from whence it came before dusting off her hands and standing up. “Well? Let's go round up those others idiots.”
    Amata watched as Su walked off and closed her eyes. She had such incredible strength, but an even more incredible weakness.

    Once the two joined the others they had all gathered by a wall, basking in the light of a crystal as they tended to each other's wounds.
    “TJ I...” Amata began as she bit her lip. “I'm sorry about all of that. You got hurt protecting me, and then you even lost your weapon all because of my cowardice. I've brought shame to my father, and all of the Governors of Fire before me. As if the rest wasn't enough, I just keep putting you in all sorts of trouble.”
    “I don't see a problem with that.” He answered with a weak chuckle.
    “I see several! Look at you! I was completely and utterly useless in this fight for one stupid reason...” Amata clenched her fists and shook her head.
    “And that is...?” Peorth gently stroked his hair and he grinned sheepishly.
    “Snakes...I can't stand them.” She pursed her lips in frustration, both at the thought of her weakness and of the fact she was stuck in a cavern with snakes. She shook her head. “It's not just them though...all of the creepy crawly things. Spiders, lizards, snakes, I hate them!” She shuddered. “I love Mezzalone, I do...but since it's hidden away within the jungle there are all sorts of insects and creatures that are just so...ugh.” She sighed.
    “So that was it huh? But how'd you manage against Apep? He was a giant snake, you know.” Curt asked with a raised eyebrow.
    “Of course I know that! It wasn't any less terrifying, but as long as they don't touch me I'm usually alright...” She muttered as she rubbed her neck uneasily. “That one came a little too close for comfort though.” She shook her head. “Let's not...talk about that anymore, okay?” She turned to TJ with a fire in her eyes. “TJ, I'm going to find your weapon.”
    “Huh?!” He suddenly sat up and placed a hand to his mouth as his cheeks blew up and he swallowed with a disturbed expression.
    “TJ, it is too soon for you to move. Rest a little longer please.” Peorth took his head in her hands and laid it down in her lap.
    Amata grinned. “Your weapon is important to you, isn't it? Even if you can't fight without it, I can't just stand idly by while you have to give up such a precious item. I'll get it back for you, so believe in me, okay?” She rose to her feet and used her staff to chip a piece off of the crystal they took shelter under. She ate the piece and spread her wings. “I'll be back soon, so wait for me okay?”
    “Try not to die, would you? Or get impaled or something. It's bothersome,” Su muttered.
    “Thanks. Be right back!” Amata took off and flew towards the hole where TJ's weapon went. She placed a foot to the stone and began to slide down, further and further as the path twisted and turned leading her deeper into the darkness, she being the only light as the teeming unknown grew more and more around her. It came to a sudden and abrupt end and cast her above a sea of violet mana. “What...is this?” There was a teeming dark energy beneath the surface of the caverns-so much so she felt ill just by being near it. Was that the energy that sustained the Instance Dungeon? Such an incredible amount was gathered in one place, yet it raised the question of exactly where Gula had acquired such a grand amount and what would occur if there was more of it. The God's Governor placed a hand to her head and shook it gently. If she spent too long within it, she would sooner fall into it and be reduced to mana herself. She looked around and caught a glimpse of a formation of crystals with TJ's guitar resting atop it. She lowered herself and grabbed the weapon, taking one last long uneasy look before taking off and returning through the hole she came through-one of many.
    After scouring the caverns and returning to the surface, eyes turned to her as she smiled and held out the guitar for all to see.
    “You found it! Thanks Amata!” TJ said with a grin.
    “No need for thanks, I did lose it in the first place you know.” She placed it down next to him and rubbed her neck bashfully. If she was to protect her allies, she needed to overcome her fears-the path to awakening seemed further by the day, but in spite of it all she still felt that she had grown a bit from their recent endeavours. She looked to the guild master who looked after TJ, and she realized that Peorth had an unusually motherly air about her. At that moment the realization dawned upon her. “Peorth, I have a question!”
    “Yes?” She asked as she turned her eyes to the God's Governor.
    “Xenadia...you know about it right? If you've got any knowledgee, anything you can tell me about it will suffice. It's just one of those things I can't seem to gather any information about.”
    “Xenadia...it has been quite some time since I heard that name. Are you curious about the path to awakening, God's Governor?” Amata nodded solemnly and Peorth smiled gently. “Your dedication to our cause is something I shall not quickly forget. I take it that you are aware of the place and what it serves as. As for it's current standing, in truth I cannot say that I know the exact means to return it, but I suspect that should the God's Governors complete their initial trials, we may find the answer to just that. It was said that God Ah had sunk both Xenadia and Atlantis to protect them-the former because the corruption of the Agasura had spread to the temple, and the latter to prevent that very thing from happening. Alas, with it vanished the acolytes, and many of those that studied the ways of the Derr Clan. Along with them, God's Governor Obermas likely fell also.”
    “Who in the seven hells is Obermas? One of our ancestors?” Su asked.
    Peorth shook her head. “God's Governor Obermas was the overseer of the God's Governors. Her duty was to initiate the trials of the God's Governors when they had finished the preparations for their second trial. Alas, I have very little information on what other duties she performed, save for that of teaching the acolytes alongside the sisters of Xenadia, but it was said that when Xenadia fell, she had along with it. After hundreds of years another has not arrived to replace her, so it is possible the soul of Obermas still remains with the sunken temple. Nevertheless, the time will come where you may cross paths with her again. Should you, I have no doubts that a battle will be at hand, so you must prepare yourselves for it-in the mean time, strengthen your body and mind to face your first trial. When you feel the time is ripe, go forward and do so. Do not doubt yourself God's Governor, you have grown strong in the short time we were together, and I am sure you will continue to do so. Do not neglect neither your studies, nor your training, and you will be prepared. I can assure you.”
    “T-thanks. Hearing that from you is an honour, princess.” Amata answered as she rubbed the back of her neck.
    “I will continue my search for any information I can find on Xenadia and the trials of the Governors. As of yet, I have still much investigating to do in Lemanin, so there may be a wealth of untapped knowledge that awaits us, and the answers to the questions we seek. For the time being though, let us set our sights on the difficulties before us. There is more I know of Xenadia that I would like to share with you, but there will be a time for that. For now, let us rest a little longer before we move forward. Greater challenges lay ahead, and I wish you all to be both mentally and physically prepared to overcome them.”
    “So can you stop babying our ace in the hole?” Su asked with pursed lips.
    TJ covered his face and Peorth blinked. “Is that what it appears to be? I see.” Peorth closed her eyes. “But I cannot comply.”
    Amata scratched her cheek and chuckled dryly as she averted her gaze. “Well...skinship's important and all I guess?”
    “If it'll get him up and fighting I've no complaints either. I'd say he earned it.” Curt said with a laugh.

    After their break was over the group prepared to set out once more after a short break. Amata glanced at TJ curiously, noting that he carried his guitar under his arm, and he had an oddly relaxed expression.
    The God's Governor covered her eyes. “What happened to you? You're positively shining-but not in the same way as you do from eating those crystals,” She remarked.
    “A-am I?” TJ rubbed the back of his neck as he chuckled gently. “The Chief just has some kind of magical touch or something.”
    Amata placed a hand to her mouth and her face flushed. “I'm getting second-hand embarassment from the thought of having seen that. Are you two regularly like that?”
    TJ placed a finger to his chin as he attempted to recall such occasions and only thought of the night they spent together. “Eh? Uhh...no, not...regularly?”
    A chuckle escaped her lips. “I'm hard pressed to say which of the two of you is stranger. But I'm glad you're getting along. Now if a certain someone wasn't being so stubborn...” Her eyes turned to Su and she received a vicious glare in turn.
    “If you think I'm gonna do something like those two asshats you're wrong and dumb. Don't even give me that look.”
    Amata gnashed her teeth in fury. “Do you have a scorpion in your panties all the time or are you just that poison-tongued? You're already pissing me off!”
    “Wanna settle it then?” Su drew her dagger from its sheath and pointed it at her companion. “I've been itching for a damn good fight and if I can put you in your place it'd be all the more enjoyable!”
    “Alright you asked for i-” Amata reached out for her staff but grabbed air a couple times before she looked back. “Huh? My staff...” She looked around and caught a glimpse of TJ holding it with knit eyebrows. She looked back to Su as Curt flew by and missed as she stepped aside and he slid across the ground after a failed attempt at getting her weapon.
    “There's no need to fight you two. We've been through enough rough fights as it is, and we haven't even gotten to see Gula yet. I'd rather not see you guys hurt each other too,” TJ said.
    Su clicked her tongue and sheathed her weapon. “Ugh...whatever. Let's just get this over with. The sooner I can stick that Sinner with the pointy end of my dagger the better.” At those words she walked off.
    Amata sighed, “You're right. This is becoming a pretty bad habit, isn't it?”
    “As long as you understand, it is the first step to remedy a problem. Give it time Amata,” Peorth answered.
    “We're in this together now. If you've still got doubts, confide in us every now and again. If anything, I'm a pretty good listener.” TJ said as he smiled and offered her the staff he had confiscated.
    “I've no doubts that time will come. Just...you know, extend that same courtesy to Su would you? I'm sure she could use a shoulder to lean on more than I could.”
    “It is a decision I believe that she must make herself. When she is prepared, the time will come. Until then, we must consciously choose to move forward. The time we have is not something we can afford to take for granted. I will not hesitate either.”
    TJ nodded solemnly. “Right. We've got a tough road ahead of us, so we have to keep looking forward. Let's get going, Amata!” He added in confidently.
    She crossed her arms thoughtfully as the two walked off to catch up with their other companions.

    The path ahead was dim, as the amount of crystals that lit their way waned, but the holes that filled the cave also had decreased greatly, and though far the group could see a light, muted as it was. As they climbed ever higher up a steep walk, they came to what seemed to be an exit to the caverns, but to their dismay the way was blocked by a large green substance.
    “The hell's this?” Su said as she poked at it with her dagger. The substance moved at its touch, but pushed the weapon and her arm back out.
    “Gelatin, if I was to hazard an assumption. If we are to proceed, I have no doubts that we must pass this first. The simplest way would be to cut through it, but I cannot help but suspect our plans will not proceed so smoothly,” Peorth explained.
    “No harm in trying though right?” Curt asked with a shrug. “I mean, the dungeon might be pretty tricky but I'm sure it has some...not so quirky quirks, am I right?” He receieved a variety of mixed expressions, but all of them seemed to disagree. “Okay maybe not, but we can hope.” He munched on another piece of rock candy and Amata eyed him cautiously.
    “Are you still eating those? You know we're already at the exit, don't you? You don't need to anymore,” She said.
    “I know. They're just tasty and I'm hungry.”
    “You packed awfully light for someone who eats so much. It's a good thing this entire place is practically edible or we'd all starve, you glutton.”
    “Curt, are you feeling ill at all?” Peorth asked with a raised eyebrow.
    “Never been better. Why?”
    “I see. Then it is of no concern. Shall we then?”
    Su drew her dagger and twirled it in her hand before cutting a swath across the gelatin cube that blocked their way. As she rose to her full height and examined the cube before them she noticed nothing had changed, and she grit her teeth. “The hell is this? “ She asked as she took a couple of stabs at it and realized her blade could not pierce it.
    “Save your energy would you? If it didn't work the first four times it won't work the next ten. Let's try another method.” Amata said. She placed a hand to Su's shoulder and pulled her away from it as the God's Governor muttered curses under her breath and walked away. “Do you wanna take a crack at it before I do Peorth? A spear holds more weight to it than a dagger does.” The guild master shook her head solemnly and the God's Governor nodded in return. “Alright stand back everyone. A few good flames should melt this back into liquid in no time.” She took a step back herself as she drew her staff and pointed it at the gelatin cube. “Flamethrower!” At her words a torrent of flames streamed out from her weapon and dispersed against the cube-once the spell ended she looked through the smoke but saw the cube had not been damaged in the slightest. “What is this thing?”
    “If I was to take a guess this time around, we're probably gonna have to eat it.as he poked it a couple times, then charged into it and bounced right off. He came back with a vengeance though. “Unless we can...push...it...” He placed one hand to it and a shoulder as she heaved and rapidly moved his feet in a desperate attempt to move it, but to no avail.
    “You save your energy too. I think you were right the first time, so would you stop doing unecessary things?” Amata asked as she knit her brows.
    “You're making me tired just looking at you. And hungry.” Curt stepped over to the gelatin cube and ripped a piece off before sticking it in his mouth and eating it. “Mm...not bad.” The girls looked incredulously and TJ chuckled. “Why're you all surprised? Didn't TJ just suggest that we do this?”
    “It is not a matter of the suggestion, but more so that the solution was so simple. If we tear it apart, I believe we can proceed without a need to consume the product,” Peorth answered.
    “That and the fact you're still eating everything so readily,” Amata added.
    “Well? What're we waiting for? Let's tear this thing apart and get on with it.” Su walked over and started ripping pieces out and casting them aside. TJ shrugged and joined in and the two went at it for a brief period while the others watched curiously.
    “Hold a moment, you two,” Peorth said as she turned her gaze to the bits that lay against the ground. The two stopped and looked back, the former positively more annoyed than the latter. The two turned their focus to where Peorth was looking and the tiny bits they had left in the wake of their task seemed to come to life and quiver, before they rolled across the ground to rejoin the whole. “It seems that this too, is not a trial so simple as we had once thought. But fear not, my companions for there is light in this darkness.” Su crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow to which the guild master pointed at the piece Curt had eaten. It, unlike the rest remained out of sight, and within the Treasure Hunter.
    Su looked to it, than to him with sheer disgust in her eyes. “I can't believe you ate that. I feel like throwing up just knowing that it's wriggling in your stomach.”
    Curt patted his stomach and grinned at her, and she bared her teeth at him in annoyance.
    “So we're gonna have to eat our way through this? All of it?” TJ asked as he tapped it a couple times with his hand and tried to look through it. Despite being gelatin, the green cube was nigh impossible to see through.
    Peorth nodded gravely. “That seems to be the case. Shall we then?” As she approached TJ held out a hand to stop her, and she looked at him slightly startled.
    “Let me, Chief. I'll do enough for the both of us.” His courage faltered and his stoic face quickly turned into a nervous smile as he scratched his cheek. “You're...not too fond of sweets right? If that's the case something like this is the least I could do. It's not dangerous either, so it's okay, right?” He turned his eyes to Amata and she raised an eyebrow before averting her gaze and brushing a few hairs aside.
    “W-what're you asking me for? It's not like you need my permission. Do your thing,” She answered.
    “I'm not touching that shit. I'd sooner eat my own rotting arm than put any of that in my stomach.” Su said to which Amata gave her a wilting gaze, one of confusion and exasperation before turning back to the boys.
    “Wanna race?” Curt asked with a devilish grin.
    “Hang on.” TJ said as he placed his guitar down and took a deep breath. “Alright, I'm ready. Let's go!”
    “On three. One, two...”
    At those words both reached out and ripped out piece after piece of gelatin and stuffed their faces as they forced their way from one side of the product to the other, creating a tunnel of sorts big enough for the others to follow in their wake as they made their way through. The further in they moved the more light came through, and after a couple minutes the two had each reached the end-a few sunbeams reached them as popsicles rained from the sky like mortars upon what seemed to be a battlefield. Wafer sticks, popsicles, rice dumplings and a variety of Agasura's corpses littered the area. It seemed that the Agasura fought amongst themselves prior to the adventurers arriving. What drew the most attention though, was the giant gelatin rabbit and the gingerbread men that surrounded it.
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Wed Aug 19, 2015 3:35 pm

    Pages 260-268:
    “It's a boss,” Su said. “It's about damn time.”
    “That's definitely a boss. And it looks like its got friends too. We're in for a treat aren't we?” Curt asked.
    “This...the presence of a guardian? No...it is weaker...” Peorth muttered under her breath.
    “Looks like we're gonna have to beat this thing if we're gonna scale the mountain. Are you guys ready for this?” Amata asked as she eyed her companions.
    “As long as we don't have to eat anymore that's fine by me. I think I'm-urp...feeling a bit ill after eating all that jello.”
    The God's Governor chuckled. “I'm willing to bet this one can beat by normal means. Judging by last time though, it won't be one that we could just simply beat down. There's probably some kind of means to kill it.”
    TJ nodded and turned his eyes to the guild master. “How do you wanna play this Chief?”
    “It will be difficult for us to focus on the boss so long as the Agasura surround it. Amata, TJ, I would like for you two to clear out any extras. Suuba, I would like you to aid them until their numbers are dwindled. Curt and I shall keep the rabbit's focus in the meantime while we seek out a means to damage it. Is everyone clear on their roles?” Peorth explained before she looked amidst her guild members.
    “Leave it to me,” TJ said with a grin.
    “Crystal,” Amata answered.
    “I've got your back Peorth.” Curt added with a grin.
    Su sniffed. “Sounds easy enough. Since I can use my magic it'll be quick,” She said.
    “Good. We shall be counting on your aid TJ. Commence the battle once you feel you have provided all the necessary songs. Everyone, we begin!” Peorth drew her spear and charged in with the others following in her wake. “Curt, take the left flank! We shall strike it before it may retaliate!”
    Peorth and Curt each took a side as the rabbit hopped towards the two. Curt flew past it and cut a long line across while Peorth came to a skidding halt and followed up with three rapid stabs.
    “Right flank Peorth!” Amata shouted as her hand reeled back from throwing a fireball and she pointed a finger. “Ignite!” A gingerbread man riding a swedish fish had a flame burst in its face and the rice dumpling skewer it carried fell to the floor moments before Peorth's spear met its chest and split it in two.
    “You have my thanks.” Peorth answered as the rabbit rose to its feet and took two swipes at her.
    Curt jumped to the left foreleg and plunged his dagger into it before swinging to the top of it and grabbing hold of the ears. He held on tightly as it swung its head back and forth and cut a slit in it before he was hurled off and tumbled away. The scratches he got on the way down were quickly cured as a series of tiny green ripples and the sounds of TJ's playing helped him rise again. “Thanks!” He gave a thumbs-up to his companion and TJ smiled back.
    The rabbit let out a long cry that seemed more like a bellow and at the sound the popsicles that flew acrossd the sky turned into a sudden descent.
    “Pain in the ass!” Su roared as she stomped the ground beneath her and hurled rocks to offset the course of the popsicles. “There's too many of these goddamn things! I've got...” She turned on the balls of her heels and hurled a rock into the face of an oncoming fish before she plunged her dagger into the eye. “Better things...” As it crashed to the ground she leapt towards the rider and knocked it to the floor before breaking its head off with her weapon. “To do, damn it!” Su turned her eyes back to the sky as more popsicles rained down upon them, but moments before she could prepare to counterattack a blue barrier like a grid took form and surrounded them-the popsicles that made contact were reflected.
    “Doctrine of the Warden!” TJ shouted as he took his place amidst his allies and gently strummed his guitar. “This won't do will it? I'll try and expand the range a bit!” He began to strum faster but the song still continued in tune.
    “You dumbass! If you'd just stayed away from the battle I wouldn't have to protect you!” She ran towards him and transitioned into a soaring kick to bring down a child-sized and shaped Agasura coated in sugar. It skid across the ground with her foot in its face and quickly met its demise as she plunged her dagger into it twice.
    “Watch yourselves! There's some new Agasura poping up around here!” Curt shouted to his companions. The rabbit nearly collapsed upon him but he narrowly escaped it with a pair of backflips.
    “Behind you Curt!” Peorth shouted as she brought her spear to the creature and sidestepped its swipe.
    “Well shit.” Without taking the time to look back Curt caught a blow from a dango as he rose to his full height and hit the ground hard before sliding beneath the jouster. Curt dragged himself to his feet before he rubbed his back. “Stupid dango jouster-oh...” The rabbit collapsed upon him and he found himself submerged within the jello, completely fettered.
    “It doesn't look like he can get out of that on his own! What do you wanna do Peorth?” Amata asked with unease dancing in her voice.
    “I will break him free. Please keep the incoming Agasura occupied please!” She clenched her left fist and with her right swung her spear horizontally-Yggdrasil's herald appeared beneath her within a magic circle and a powerful mana surged from her. “Wardlord Style Awakening Technique! Heavenly Rain!” She rushed toward it in a single movement and thrust her spear faster than the eye could see-the weapon punctured the rabbit a myriad of times during her flurry. The creature's eentire body quivered and burst to pieces, flinging it everywhere.
    Curt fell to the ground gasping for air, but quickly righted himself and brushed his bangs aside and grinned. “Is that how TJ felt when he was devoured? That's some unpleasant stuff dude. But you killed it so good job Peorth!”
    “The battle is not over yet Curt! Remain vigilant, as we must strike the remains!”
    Amata jumped back as one of the pieces flew her way and she turned to see the others scattered. “This just spells bad news...” She muttered as she raised a hand and cast a fireball upon it.
    “Amata to your left!” TJ shouted as he craned his neck over his shoulder.
    “More sour patch children are showing up!” Curt followed up the call while he crushed one of the jello bits with his shield.
    “Piss off!” She roared as she swept its feet from beneath it and leapt back with a wave of her hand. “Mortar!” A massive fireball fell from the sky and collapsed atop the Agasura in a large explosion that incinerated any that were nearby. She looked through the flames and saw that the jello she had set aflame was still intact. “How did it-oh bullshit!”
    The pieces began to quiver and gathered together again, but this time around there were two rabbits, but smaller than the original.
    “It has not grown any weaker and yet...it seems that if we defeat it, it will only seperate and grow in numbers. We are embroiled in a battlewith a very dangerous enemy! We must choose the following actions wisely everyone!” Peorth commanded the group.
    “Fuckin' figures. Well? You got a brilliant plan this time around or what? If you can't kill the goddamn thing it's just gonna wear us down!” Su hissed. She reeled a foot back and stomped the earth before her causing it to rise as a solid wall. She knocked it over as one of the dango jousters came to halt before it and attempted to turn away only to be caught beneath the weight of the land. Both rider and mount were caught beneath and the rider met a grim end as Su leapt over and slammed her dagger through its head and used the wall to launch herself towards another that drifted past Amata.
    The Governor of Fire reeled her hand back with a flame that was quickly quenched as she grit her teeth in annoyance. “You keep jumping around and acting flashy like that and I'm gonna set you on fire!” She grinned devilishly. “Acidentally on purpose, of course.”
    After comandeering the mount and stealing the rider's weapon Su turned the creature around and charged towards the Governor of Fire while she pulled the dango from the skewer with her dagger. “You talk a big game for someone who's about to get skewered! I'll make you a tasty treat for that Sinner!” Su roared in turn as she cackled.
    “What are you-” Having only a moment to dodge she opted out for diving aside rather than waiting to see if Su would be the first to turn away. “Are you freakin' serious?!”
    Su continued her charge and turned to skewer a group of sour patch children. Upon the fourth she rose into the sky through TJ's barrier and turned the fish into a nosedive towards where Peorth and Curt kept the rabbits busy. “Heads up losers!” As the fish neared the ground she hurled the skewer into Curt's and leapt off the fish as it dove towards the other as she flipped with a wave of her hand. A series of icicles surrounded her and were immediately fired down upon her targets as she spread her wings and landed.
    The iciles remained lodged within the creature but the skewer was removed as it broke free from it and repaired the body.
    TJ stopped playing his guitar and let out a long sigh. “Phew...sorry guys I think that's all I can do for now. Maintaining spells like that's really tough on the body.” Almost immediately his body was blown back by a rocket popsicle colliding with the ground before him and he came to a skidding halt. “Okay whoa! This is worse than I'd thought!” He checked his flanks and caught sight of two sour patch children approaching him. With a wave of his hand he summoned forth a series of hailstones and fired at the two. One of them caught the brunt of the barrage but the other still ran forth towards him and latched on to his face while he struggled to back away from it. “Get off you little-” He found himself hard-pressed between dropping his guitar and swatting it with it, but realized the latter was in vain. After struggling for a few more seconds he dropped the guitar and pulled at the Agasura with all his might before finally freeing himself from its grip and hurling it to the ground. “Revenge!” He grabbed his guitar and smashed it into the Agasura before heaving and doing it a couple more times. He glanced around him and watched as more popsicles rained down on his allies and he grit his teeth. He took a deep breath and raised his hand to the sky, causing a sphere of water to appear above the palm of his hand. It shot up into the sky as it grew slightly over the period and spread out, forming a sheet of ice above where his allies fought. With both hands he maintained it, but it was taking its toll on him.
    Peorth side-stepped as the rabbit leapt at her with a kick and missed her-it came around a second time and she leapt aside before thrusting at it a couple times and preventing a counterattack with Windmill. She stole a glance at TJ and the shield he created before charging the rabbit and causing it to fall away with a series of thrusts. After she created a distance she fell back slightly herself towards him. “TJ, is it not difficult for you to maintain that spell?” She asked with a hint of worry dancing on the edge of her usual stoic tone.
    “It's nothing I can't handle!” He said offering a grin, but the beads of sweat running down his cheeks betrayed him.
    She stepped past him with her spear following behind her and she twirled it over her head before slamming it into the earth. “Earth Render!” The ground before her quaked and shattered as a massive fissure yawned before her. She looked to the rabbit and saw there was still a fair amount of time before it got back to the two. “I need but an ounce of your courage, TJ...” She whispered as she put her spear to her back and wrapped her arms around him, bringing his down.
    “Huh?! Chief wh-what're you doing? The shield...” The shield he had created shattered into thousands of tiny shards and fell to the ground like snow as the guildmaster let him go and stepped back.
    “TJ, I shall fend off our airborne targets. Join forces with our allies and strike down the enemies before us.”
    “Eh but...”
    She placed a finger to his lips and smiled. “You must not doubt your guild master TJ. Believe in me with all your heart, as I do you, and know that I shall not falter. Now go.” He solemnly nodded and picked up his guitar to face off with the rabbit as Peorth turned her eyes to the sky, searching for a target-checking the trajectory of its descent, and her response to it. When she found the location to strike she placed her spear upright and channeled mana to her. Once again a magic circle appeared beneath her with the Asgardian's herald within it. “Release, Memorius Sanctum!” She held out a single hand the gilded tome appeared before her as her wings spread out and her hair turned snow white. She armed her spear over her shoulder as the book closed and vanished in a sphere of light, and she eyed her mark. “There! Shattered Wings!” She hurled the spear and as if a bolt of lightning traced the sky it shot towards the falling popsicle and pierced it before shattering it in two and shooting towards the next-after the first strike Peorth vanished and the bolt shot across the sky, Agasura rapidly falling to the stance.
    Amata looked up in awe as they rained down without posing much threat and she grinned. “She never ceases to impress. With that we can focus on our enemies on the ground. Hop to it Su! Let's clean this up and lend TJ and Curt our power!” Amata told her.
    Su dug her nails into the ground and tore it up in a massive wave that flung the Agasura through the air before they were struck by Arrows of Light. “Think you need to tell me that? The sooner these pricks are outta the way the better for me!” Su responded.

    TJ took a swing at the rabbit with his guitar and it jumped aside before kicking him in the r ibs. He stumbled aside before he rose to his full height and strummed his guitar. A massive chunk of ice appeared above him and with a hand he ordered it to collapse upon the target but it jumped aside and rushed him down again. It lunged at him and knocked him to the ground before hopping off of his face and leaving his glasses askew.
    “This thing is seriously fast. How am I supposed to get it?!” He scrambled to his feet and rapidly strummed his guitar summoning a series of spheres of light. “Nine Arrows of Light!” The spell circled around him before he fired them in succession at the gelatin rabbit. It dashed across the battlefield avoiding the spell and using other incoming Agasura as a shield before charging him again. He took a swing at it but the Agasura jumped over his weapon and off of his face, knocking him to the ground. “Ugh...” He picked himself up and shook off his vertigo before stealing a glance at Curt. The two seemed evenly matched, the Treasure Hunter easily keeping up with its speed, landing strikes while avoiding being struck. “Got any tips Curt?”
    The Treasure Hunter bashed the creature with his shield and fell back as he turned his eyes towards TJ. “Use the Frequency dude!” He answered, to which TJ furrowed his brows.
    “That's more of a last resort sort of thing-” He caught a glimpse of the rabbit coming again and he decided to strike pre-emptively. He ran towards it and swung his weapon in a wide rising arc while the creature chose to run past him and take a swipe at his flank. He staggered forward and spun on the balls of his heels to run backwards and create some distance between the two. It was way too fast for him to keep up with, so he would have to put it in his line of fire and at that moment the realization dawned upon him. It had no advantage over him in the sky. He placed his guitar down next to him and watched as the creature charged at him again. He stomped a foot back and with both hands outstretched he froze it in place. “Avaritia!” The creature froze in place, only twitching ever so slightly, a sure sign that it was at the mercy of his wrath. “You're mine now!” He raised both hands skyward and the creature was flung into the air. With a wave of hhis hand a massive icebereg appeared above him and he shattered it. “Shattered Berg!” The pieces shot towards the rabbit and impaled it in rapid succession, splitting the creature into a myriad of tiny pieces that rained from the sky and fell with the remains of the popsicles Peorth felled. “One down!” He staggered as the Sound of Frequency hit him and he placed a hand to his head as he shook it gently.
    “That isn't gonna do it TJ!” Amata shouted. She turned her head to catch a glimpse of more Agasura coming lead by a boxer bear and grit her teeth. She outstretched a hand and a magic circle appeared above them. 'Firestorm!” At her call flames rained down like mortars and burst like tiny explosives, scattering the Agasura. “Just splitting it apart will only make it grow in numbers! Neither fire nor conventional weapons will kill it! You need to find a way to eliminate it in which it can't regenerate!”
    TJ let out a long sigh. “Seriously?” He looked at one of the pieces struggling to gather with the rest and he stomped on it a few times, causing it to separate once more but not stop for long. “This is gonna get troublesome...” Using Avaritia's ability may have had more of an effect on him than he had suspected-it was one more concern added to the list, but not one he could concern himself with now.

    If things were not bad before, they got worse. A series of new Agasura approached lead by a bigger, more vicious looking bear. It was followed by a group of gingerbread men carrying icing tubes, and two more dango jousters. Su rolled her eyes and let out an annoyed huff. The others made it look hard to fight the bears, but all they did was punch. If TJ could e at its fist and punch it out, she could cut right through it in half the time. She stomped the ground and unearthed a massive chunk before hurling it at the Agasura, and catching four of them off guard, the bear not being one of them, but she predicted as much.
    “Alright, come get some!” She rushed the bear and as she approached predicted that it would strike with its right paw if she lead it to believe she was gonna target its right flank. As she got close enough she side-stepped and prepared to cut the left flank but her blade met air as the bear stepped back and leapt into the air, to which it followed with a dropkick. She barely blocked the attack but the brunt of the blow forced her back. “What, the fuck.” She muttered uneder her breath as her braid came to rest on her shoulder and she rose again. The bear pounded its paws together and roared at her. “You wanna go?! Don't think I'm finished with you yet!” She stomped the ground and unearthed two more pieces of ground before throwing both and they slid towards the Agasura. The bear stepped aside and the remaining gingerbread men attempted to do so, but each ran in opposite directions with the tube and made no progress.
    She looked through the dust and caught a glimpse of the bear still approaching, and a dango jouster taking the lead. She tossed her dagger into the air, caught it and threw it into the face of t he rider. The moment it made contact she appeared with it in hand and kicked the rider off of his fish before comandeering the mount and weapon once more. She drove the Agasura towards the bear and hurled the weapon at it only to miss, but she expected as much. She crashed the fish into the ground and sent it sliding towards the bear while she embarked and followed in its wake. As the bear leapt over the fish and attempted to kick her again she slid under it and raised her dagger to cut a long slit in its leg and into its waist before scrambling to her feet again. Agitated, it got back up and roared, while she grinned. “Now this is getting interesting.” She said before plunging her dagger into the ground and raising her index and middle finger on an otherwise closed fist. The earth rose up and assumed her shape and form before taking uyp her colours and voice. The vie scrambled together and amidst the chaos picked up the daggers that took form as they did in a circle.
    “Can you tell which of us is the real one? I'd like to see you try.” She said as they rushed it from all sides. When the five surrounded it, it rose to its full height and raised its nose to the air. They all charged at once and in a flash of blades struck. The bear reached behind it and wrapped its arms around one of the five, and the moment it did the others froze in place and crumbled to pieces as Su looked on with a shocked expression. “What the fu-” Before she could finish swearing it hurled her to the ground head first and she tumbled away. As she struggled to get up she shook her head and gripped her dagger. “If this goddamn place wasn't made of freakin' chocolate, my clone techniques wouldn't be completely trash! Shit!”

    “How you faring over there TJ?” Curt asked as he leapt back and ignited a pair of bombs before hurling them at the rabbit before him.”
    “I've seen better days!” TJ answered as he twirled on his heels and outstretched both hands to fire hailstones from each direction.
    Curt ran towards the second that ailed TJ and threw a knife at it which caught its attention and caused it to turn on him. He blocked its jumping strike with his shield and cut the second as he turned around into a a low sweep. The rabbits both fell back and glared at him viciously and he grinned, hurled one at each, then turned his eyes toward TJ. The Bard was on the offensive, taking wide swings at the rabbit that leapt away from him as he continued his fruitless struggle that was a mixture of magic and physical attacks, none quite making contact. “You might expend more energy not using the Frequency than you would using it TJ!” Curt shouted. “They're gonna stall you out!”
    “Unless you have a way to kill it for sure what choice do we have?!” TJ heaved as he wiped the sweat from his brow and summoned five more Arrows of Light. All were fired, but none made contact. “Outright smashing it or cutting it to pieces isn't gonna work. How are we supposed to beat it?”
    Through the smoke of his bombs the rabbits returned and Curt found himself caught between a flurry of kicks and swipes. He jumped, side-stepped, dodged and counterattacked whenever the opportunity came, but knew that if the group expanded again they'd soon be overwhelmed. He jumped over both as they both attempted to kick him at once and rained down his supply of knives upon them. “Watch your back TJ!”
    A pair of gingerbread men carrying a tube approached the Abellan as the rabbit kept him busy, and aimed the tube at him before releasing a torrent of icing.
    He shuddered as it covered his skin and he shook as much as it off as he could before chasing them off with hailstone, one of the two not fortunate enough to escape. “What in God Ah's name is this?” He swiped some onto his finger and tasted it. “Oh...icing. It's good.”
    “Now's not the time to eat!” Curt shouted desperately. He reached into his pocket and munched on a piece of rock candy. “I might be a hypocrite but that doesn't change the fact!” Moments afterwards he found himself juggling knives while fending off the creatures, placing as many as he could into his coat while fighting with those he could hold for but a matter of moments. “If you're gonna eat anything, eat the rabbit! That might do it in!”
    “I-I can't! TJ complained. “The icing is hardening...I can hardly move my body! What should I do?!”
    “Can you still play your guitar? Play a song or something that can melt it or delay it!” Curt answered as he found himself surrounded by all three rabbits, and a struggle beyond him began. They took turns attacking him, and the onslaught had him completely on the defensive, but unable to fend off all of their attacks.
    TJ reached out and grabbed his guitar as moving his body became increasingly difficult. There was no way he could fit a song in, but there was something he was as of yet to try. With a single hand raised he strummed the guitar but once. “Help me out Caritas!”
    At those words Velvet appeared before him, her eyes closed but for a few brief moments as she raised her weapon skyward. “You can count on me TJ!” The Asgardian Herald appeared beneath her as she bashed her mace against her shield and a pulse-like wave was sent through the area. Her shield and weapon attained a powerful glow as she took a defender's stance. “Temple Knight Style Awakening Technique: Lightbringer!” Velvet shouted. The Agasuras that had fought Curt, Amata and Su all flocked towards Velvet and struck at her without a second though nor a moment of hesitation, and she kept her stance as a sphere of light that shone ever brighter took form around her and seemingly absorbed the blows. After a few more seconds passed, with a war cry the sphere expanded all around her and most of the Agasura that attacked her vanished in a series of tiny spheres of light, save for the rabbit and the bears that managed to maintain one side of their bodies. The rabbit was forced back and split apart again, and unease washed over Curt.
    “Good plan but it was no good! The rabbit's gonna merge again if we don't do something about it!” Curt shouted.
    “I have a plan...just get me out of here.” TJ uttered, his lips barely able to move after the icing hardened. Curt approached and started breaking the icing off of his companion before he was soon joined by Amata.
    Su followed up shortly after to deal a killing blow to both bears and rejoined the others. “So? That idiot princess is still up there playing with popsicles and we've got an immortal Agasura. Who's got an idea?” She asked with impatience in her voice.
    As the two broke most of the icing from TJ he flexed his fingers and attempted to free his legs. “Let's think back to our fight with Avaritia! The only way we were able to defeat her was to take away her strength, which was her gold and items right?”
    “Yeah and?”
    “We just have to take away the rabbit's strength, which is its regeneration! Do you remember how the only time the jello didn't go back to the rest was when Curt ate it?”
    Amata knit her eyebrows. “I kinda see where you're going with this, but even though it might be our only hope I'd rather not...to be honest.”
    “If that's what it comes down to...” Curt muttered.
    TJ eyed the creature cautiously and struggled to free himself some more. “H-hold on, that's not what I'm getting at. We just have to trap the rabbit's pieces. If it's somewhere that it can't regenerate, then we just have to destroy it as is.”
    Amata pounded a fist into an open palm with a look of realization. “I get it!” So it'd be like breaking it down and then disposing of it! Rather than eating it and having stomach acids do it...we'd need something with a similar effect. But my fire won't work.”
    “I'll freeze it.” TJ answered.
    “How do you plan to do that, smartass? There's nowhere near enough liquid water in that thing to freeze it. It might be jello, but it's not just jello. It's still a freakin' Agasura, and you know how hard it is to do. I've seen it.” Su explained as she crossed her arms.
    “I've got another idea. It's a little dangerous but it just might work.” When he finally managed to break his legs free he stepped out and shook off the remaining bits. “We don't have much time so I'll explain later! Just run as far and fast as you can!”
    The group looked unsettled by the suggestion, but Amata decided to nod to the two while Curt shrugged, and they moved further away.
    TJ tapped his badge twice. “Chief, can you hear me?”
    “Yes. What is the problem TJ?”
    He chuckled gently. Despite being a bolt of lightning in the sky it seemed she still had a corporeal form. “That thing you did before...that giant bolt of lightning you called down on the beach? Could you do that again?”
    “It is possible yes...but it is a very dangerous technique. I would recommend that you stay a safe distance if you wish for me to use it.”
    “I had a feeling it was.” He swallowed hard. “But that's something I can't do. I need you to use it exactly where I'm standing. I know it sounds crazy but I have a good feeling this'll work out.”
    “TJ, I cannot put you in danger like that. Such skills are not meant to be used while allies are within range, and you are no exception to this fact.”
    “Chief, didn't you say to believe in you as you do me?” He smiled. “We promised, didn't we? Don't worry, and believe in me too. I'm almost out of time here, so I'll leave it to you to decide an opportune time to make your move. I'll be counting on you!”
    “...If it as you wish, it shall be done.”
    TJ took a deep breath as he tapped his badge again and turned his eyes to the creatures gathering together. “Here goes! One more time Su! Let's use the Frequency!”
    “I swear if you die...” Though she was far, he could hear her voice clear as day.
    He grinned as he pounded his fists together. “Frequency!” His eyes flickered to green as he began to strum his guitar and water surged around him in a circle, spreading further and further across the battlefield and forming a whirlpool across it. He increased the speed of his playing and the range of his spell expanded, capturing the gelatin bits within the water and bringing them closer and closer towards him. Once he had gathered them all, with a final strum of his guitar the water around him rose into a sphere with him standing amidst it all as he placed the weapon down. He outstretched both hands as it absorbed him into it, and a grid-like barrier emerged from him and encased the water, freezing it over completely.
    “Did he just...a barrier break?” Amata asked with disbelief.
    “Oh that dumbass...” Su muttered as her body turned into a series of spheres and vanished.
    “You don't think he's...you know. Do you?” Curt asked as he stared at t he ice sphere sitting amidst the battlefield.
    “No, he's not dead, but he's definitely unconscious.” The Governor of Fire rubbed her temples. “That's one hell of a plan, but he doesn't expect us to leave him in there, does he?”
    Suddenly the clouds began to gather and darken, and the sun was blotted out as lightning roared and thunder rolled. With one mighty strike a bolt came down upon the sphere and Peorth emerged from the smoke as she came to a skidding halt in the view of her companions.
    “Peorth?!” Amata shouted in surprise.
    “Yes. This was what TJ had wished for but I cannot guarantee what the outcome would be. Come, let us go.” The guild master said as she rushed back into the fray and cleared away the smoke with her spear.
    In the center of a series of shards of ice, TJ stood still intact, his eyes still green and heaving. “Last step guys! You ready?”
    Amata let out a dry chuckle, both out of relief and surprise as she muttered, “This is no time to be surprised huh? What'll you have us do, Abellan?”
    “One last thing. Create a pool of magma. With that, we can put this thing to rest once and for all.” Amata nodded and obliged.
    “I don't often do this when I'm not awakened so I'll try something a little different. She plunged her staff into the ground and moments after she pulled it out she drew a circle around the area. She pointed the weapon at it and concentrated for a few moments before magma bubbled out from the cracks and spread out across the circle she had drawn. “Alright, you're up.”
    With a wave of his hands TJ called the shards together into a cracked and incomplete sphere, and steadily lowered it into the magma Amata created. As the ice slowly melted, the magma began to harden and once the entire thing had vanished beneath the surface of it, the Abellan lowered his hands and sat on the ground. “Man I'm tired...”
    Peorth turned to him and gave him an approving nod. “That was a well executed plan TJ. To think that you had used the knowledge that to manipulate your own mana to control objects is simpler than using that of the target's. You had used the sphere of water to surround your enemies in it, and in doing so gained complete control over them while keeping them fettered. And to that end, they lacked a means of regeneration, while you had a means to ensure they could not escape.” She nodded sagely. “An excellent plan, and one that was deftly executed. I am impressed.”
    “Colour me impressed too, TJ. You did some risky things there but it really came together at the end. Just...try not to put your hide on the line everytime you come up with a plan would you? It's our job to keep you alive, mind you.” Amata said with a wry chuckle.
    Su emerged from the crystal with an annoyed expression. “The fuck're you doin' dumbass!? You tryin' to get yourself killed or something?! Might as well have us dig you a damn grave here and now if you're gonna do stupid shit like that, you fuckin' clown!” After that she stormed off in a huff. The girls watched solemnly while Curt shrugged.
    “Well she's pissed. Maybe you should chase after her.” He said as he rubbed the back of his neck.
    TJ sneezed and a long line of mucus hung from his nose before he sniffled and it disappeared within his nostrils. “That'd probably be a good idea.” He answered as he rose to his feet.
    “Wait a moment TJ. Right now you need rest and a warm fire,” Peorth answered cautiously.
    Amata nodded solemnly. “That'd bed a good idea.” She turned her eyes to meet TJ's. “Give her a minute to cool off. Knowing her she'll be back to her usual self sooner rather than later. Just needs to blow off some steam, that's all,” She explained.
    “Think so? I'll take your word for it then.” He glanced off as Su disappeared at the exit to the caverns.

    TJ felt as if he was falling-slowly, but with some certainty. As he did, he heard the Sound of Frequency, rather muted, but without a doubt the sound was unmistakeable. As his body slowed to a halt and he found himself floating in the unknown, his eyes slowly opened as the sound began to morph into something else. From what sounded like a long drawn out noise, it began to sound like singing-a man's voice, at that. The voice grew quieter as TJ looked around the darkness that surrounded him for the source, but found nothing.
    “Who...who's there? Who's singing?” He asked. His own voice echoed back to him as the voice grew ever more quiet.
    “Soul without a name...vessel of my kin...heed me...” The voice answered and the song came to an end.
    A man's voice also, but one that sounded oddly ethereal. Following it, the singing began again, but this time it sounded like a chorus-when he heard the song he felt his skin crawling as he caught a glimpse of a mist gathering all around him and the chrous grew louder. It couldn't be, could it? Just as when Su had passed away...fear gripped his very being and he clenched his fists tightly as he looked down at his shoes.
    “Tell me, Messenger of Light. Do you fear the darkness?”
    Fists clenched, but his entire body trembled TJ uttered, “I'm not afraid. Not at all.” It took all of his courage to muster those words, and he felt as if his entire being was being put into question at that very moment.
    “You are brave, soulless one. I would not expect Amae to choose anything less than her greatest asset to rise to champion her cause, but you are not just hers alone. You are aware of this, are you not?”
    “I dunno what you're talking about.” TJ could feel a presence behind him-as it crept ever closer, the sky before him turned red while the horizon before him a solid black- as if the everything beyond were dyed those two colours. In spite of it all, nothing unsettled him more than the essence of creeping death that came ever closer.
    “You are blessed with power beyond your ken, and you use it knowingly, both with skill and without. You embrace your inner darkness as your own-you take what has been bestowed upon you and shape it as you see fit. But in doing so, it encroaches upon the very foundations of your being and consumes you; you are aware of this, are you not? Alas, you serve a greater purpose than what Amae's followers will have you believe, but it is far too early for you to realize your destiny.”
    “My mind is made already. I don't care what anyone says! Not the Sinners, not Choen Palm, and not you! I won't change my mind! I won't!” The words came so naturally to TJ, but what he said barely scratched the surface of what he felt deep down. In the face of that being, he seemed to be nothing more than a child throwing a tantrum-a far cry from being the Cerebians' and Midgard's saviour.
    “It seems that you cannot see what I see, but you will...in time. I pity you, marionette, for you are but one to dance to the song of the gods though you are destined to rise ever higher. It was our whims that had given you life, so you must choose what fate you wish to embrace. Will you rise above? Or surrender yourself? I look forward to hearing your decision.”
    He felt a hand stroke his hair and his entire body quivered before he fell to his knees.

    The next thing he knew he awoke in his bed in a cold sweat, and looked around in fear. Curt lay sprawled out in his bed next to TJ's, sleeping peacefully despite the Abellan's sudden rise. He slipped out of the tent into the night and found Amata sitting upon a piece of chocolate by a fire. Though they had put it out, it seemed that Amata had some thinking of her own to do and decided to take some time to herself. The memories of the stranger that spoke to him still haunted him, but TJ was way too shaken to remain alone for a further extended period of time-the company of a reliable companion might help him settle down.
    “Hey Amata...what are you doing up so late?” He asked as he tried to smile.
    She looked over to him and blinked. “Ahh...nothing really. Did I wake you? You don't look so good TJ.” She answered with a concerned expression.
    “No, you didn't. I'm just a bit worn-out from using the Frequency, that's all. Something on your mind? You look pensive.”
    She smiled a bittersweet smile. “Am I that easy to read?” She chuckled. “Well I do suppose I've got a few things to think about, but do you really want to hear my complaints?” He smiled at her and she knit her eyebrows with a gentle smile. “Jeez...you're a pretty nosy one.” She laughed gently. “You remember that talk we had after we completed the Pharaoh's Chambers?” TJ nodded. “Since I joined you guys on this expedition I've done a lot of thinking. The dynamic of your team, the way you fight and the ties that bind you together...it's...different. Different from what I'm familiar with, at least.”
    “How so?” TJ asked with a raised eyebrow.
    Amata looked into the fire and brushed a few stray hairs aside. “You know how I am...my dad's a pretty big deal in Mezzalone, because he's God's Governor of Fire. Or was. Since I'm his successor, expectations of me are pretty big, so people typically leave me to do my own thing. Even within my own guild, even my guild master doesn't often give me commands. Due to that I just...I just do whatever.” She clenched her fists against her legs and bit down on her lip. “Usually people would want more freedom, but I lack direction. Whenever I'm the leader of an expedition, everyone just follows in my wake and admires my strength, but doing everything alone is just...it's lonely, I guess. After the last dungeon, for once I've found myself with people who are on even footing, or could even surpass me. When it was just you guys, we were disorganized and messy, yet somehow still worked together. It's like the pieces of a puzzle...they just kinda...fit.”
    TJ smiled. “You might not be a member of Yggdrasil, but you've really fit in with the whole guild since you started hanging around. I'm sure the Chief and everyone else would always be glad to have you on our...expeditions? And parties and stuff too.”
    The girl laughed gently. “Your guild sure knows how to throw a party, that's for sure. Still...all of this has really got me thinking. Perhaps what I've needed is order in my life. The only person I knew of before that could offer just that, was my dad. Now that I'm older I've t aken a bit more control in my life-on that thought, Samson too...gave me the same idea. He was the one that kept Su in line, and he brought me into it too. I used to be a pretty rambunctious kid.”
    “Samson? You mentioned him before right?” TJ asked as he tilted his head quizically.
    “Yeah, Su's uncle. He used to be her wrangler.” Amata laughed again, this time with a lighter tone and TJ smiled. “He told me that having a Pledger would be a smart idea...and you know, after seeing you guys he might be right. This is the first time I've laid eyes on the princess and she's a total mama bear.” At those words TJ tilted his head quizically again and she grinned. “I can see why though-you're like a ferocious squirrelope on a good day.” She pursed her lips and closed her eyes in thought. “Makes my maternal instincts tingle. But you'll understand what I mean later. Point is, the two of you are inseperable. You rely on each other, believe in each other and fight for each other. That closeness is one of the things that makes you so strong. To do what you did in that last battle, I couldn't think of anyone ballsy enough to attempt it, and if I was to I couldn't think of anyone who I would trust to do such a thing. But you? You convinced Peorth to do it without a second thought, and hardly a thought for your own safety. You have some incredible strength TJ, but not just physically. You've got the courage to back it up, and people that would follow you because they believe in you. Like Peorth had said, here ranks and titles mean nothing. Everyone is on the same footing, and you guys fight within each other's strengths and boundaries. I envy that, and the more I see it the more I'm beginning to understand what Dad wanted me to.”
    “You should give yourself more credit you know. Without your help I couldn't do half the things I've done, and won the battles that we had. If you were to take up the mantle of leader, I'd gladly follow in your wake, you know. I'd trust you with my life anyday.” TJ grinned and she eyed him cautiously.
    “Do you say stuff like that to everyone? That's dangerous you know. It's no wonder you have those girls glued to you.” She placed a hand to her face and sighed. “But I guess, despite that...unique ability of yours, you still have your heart set on one person. I can respect that. You take good care of the princess okay? She'll take good care of you too, I'm sure.”
    TJ nodded. “I won't take my eyes off of her, don't you worry.”
    “I'm not worried about that, but there is something else I am worried about. All things considered though, even I'd be hard-pressed to ask you to make a decision.” At those words he moved with a jolt and a look of pure terror made its way across his face. “H-hey, you alright?” She tapped him on the shoulder twice and he shook it off.
    “S-sorry I just...yeah! I'm good. No problem!”
    Amata furrowed her brows. “Did something happen? Do you wanna talk to me about it? Are you still offset by what happened earlier?”
    “Huh?! Y-you knew about that?”
    “Uhh...yeah, I was there. Is Su getting ticked off that unusual an occurrence to you?” Amata crossed her arms.
    “Oh...ohh that? No, no that's pretty regular. I'll sort that out.”
    The God's Governor knit her eyebrows. “If you won't talk to me about it, at least consider confiding in Peorth. If I was in her shoes...I wouldn't want to have any secrets hidden from me either.” She rubber her arm gently. “If someone's precious to you, don't leave them in the dark, okay? Be good to them.” She offered him a bittersweet smile before she clapped him on the shoulder. “Anyway, I'm gonna hit the hay. See you in the morning TJ. Good night.”
    “Night Amata.” TJ looked into the fire as it quietly cracked and the embers rose to the sky. He did not wish to keep his allies in the dark, but not even he was courageous enough to brave the depths of his own inner demons, and a new situation arised when he least suspected it. Would he be able to face it alone if he chose not to seek the aid of his allies? Or would the darkness consume him?
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Wed Aug 19, 2015 5:31 pm

    Nice Guy Darkness:
    Just in case you were wondering, TJ had used a myriad of spells/stances, and some of them may have confused-that being 'Vengeance' and 'Revenge'. One of the two is an actual skill. The other, well...
    With that said, let's get down to it!

    Believe it or not, we're actually nearing the end of this Instance! Which also means the end of this chapter(finally), On that note, I was thinking of breaking up this Harmony into two separate chapters due to the sheer length of it. I'd considered ending it probably around the time after the little sleepover, but I still need to do some looking over before I decide exactly where I want it to be. Reason being, this chapter is seriously long. Too much in fact, and it could serve as two. A break somewhere in between would do it good also, because in a sense though the main focus is around Gula and his upcoming dungeon, along with the dungeon itself, there's a whole lot of other occurrences that would serve better on their own.
    Continuing with that thought, following this chapter the next chapter will have to wait a bit while I come up with some new storyboards and concepts for GAL and TAD. In essence, since i pretty much screwed up the first pair, they have to be moved to the third dungeon, so I'll come up with a whole new one for Charity and Temperance and they'll be what you see after the Pharaoh's Chambers and the Gourmet's Valley. Hopefully it won't take too long, but I'm very VERY particular about my work a lot of the time so it can be iffy. Since there are only 7 of each, I have to pick and choose the content wisely since there's no turning back after that. It makes my brain do backflips.

    Now then, onto the story!
    Most of the stuff is pretty-self explanatory, since it's just the usual banter, but if there's anything that might stand out I'll be sure to cover it.
    Something I didn't cover before was a bit about the discussion between Peorth and Amata. In truth, a lot of the things they mentioned are not new, but rather some explanation to events that have occurred in the past, including characters that have appeared. If you recall, the member of the Artimen Clan that Peorth mentioned was the same man who was with her and the king when she first met TJ. Though Amata doesn't know it, that very location is the plane between worlds. Or at the very least, a portion of it-that part of it pertains to TJ and his duty, while others are just a part of the Sea of Sky.
    An example of Apotheosis, or Cerebians becoming deities was introduced in the CoI arc, when Su summoned Nerine to stave off the Agasuric energy from TJ. Unlike Synergism, they don't have support, attack, and command abilities. Summoned deities typically only have one specific skill, but they have a great effect, and there's no limit to how many times they can be summoned or how many can be. In essence, the only time they can't be called forth is when the Summoner exhausts all of their mana. As you're aware, what Su did there was something similar to what Peorth did in the prologue. Though you'll certainly hear this later on in the story, they fall under a second category of the Divine Arts known as 'Prayers'. Just as the Contemptuous Arts has 'Invoking'(Invoking the sins to enhance or use greater spells) Prayers are third-tier spells/stances that allow for the Cerebians to call upon the power of the gods and their ancestors for spells of a much greater impact. Heck, even TJ used one at the end of Freq! Of course, doing that is no small feat, so not many Cerebians can. If you're wondering what the second-tier spells/stances are, those are the Awakening Techniques. The Contemptuous Arts don't have them, but in place the strongest of Agasura are able to morph, essentially changing their fighting style/body makeup. Back on topic, there are a host of other ascended Cerebians that can be summoned to battle, but the summoning arts and prayers were lost ages ago, so the only one who knows any of them is essentially Su. Why? If you've read 'A Moment in time' you'll know, but if not take a guess, or hang on until later!
    One last thing about that discussion is the inherited genes and the skills that follow. You might find yourself asking, "If Peorth's genes weakened and made her Clairvoyance worse, why have the god's Governors not weakened also?" The answer? The God's Governors skills are not exactly an inherited 'gene', but more of a title, and in doing so an ability they obtain after they're born. They're not born with their ability, mind, but they do have the ability to tap into it. At birth they have a much more potent connection with the world around them and their element, along with a mana pool to match, but they only truly become a God's Governor when they've 'awakened' to it for the first time. Kasumi in USSR, and the memory of Julius when it happened to him are perfect examples of that. There's a specific moment for all of them when they come to realize just what it is they have within them, and it's what really helps them come to understand just that they have to do. As for Peorth's case, hers is actually inherited, and since there was a lack of clairvoyants in her lineage, the effect has waned greatly. In order to restore it or enhance it, she'd need to find someone with a similar ability and their child would acquire that trait, or a mix of the two. On that note, her family had acquired the traits of a God's Governor of Water, so that's why they always wind up with twins and the titles that come with it, and you know what that means! Or does it? Later on I might introduce some other characters with their own unique bloodline traits, but I haven't decided on any in particular yet. When I introduce the other guilds and the guild union a few of them might pop up. Just in case, the guild union isn't the same as the guild union in LT. It's actually...well, it's different-it's just a union...of guilds. It'll make sense when I get to that, I promise. That matter aside, I'd love to do a flow chart for characters and traits they would hand down to their children. So many possibilities! On the other hand though, that reminds me of something else...which makes it sound super ficcy-not the good kind either. Maybe my view of it's become unintentionally biased? I need to think about this some more. That aside, in truth I think I've spent too much time looking at FE:F stuff. Gotta wait until next year to become trash so I'll still be productive for a little while longer this year.

    Now let's get back to the present! Sort of. This is a bit of a headcanon I had for the Chief, so I'll share it here before I wind up forgetting.
    It's a little sad:
    The phrase here clicked with me “In truth I am not very fond of sweets, but should you feel unsure about being the vanguard I have no qualms about the matter.” When I wrote it I started to wonder why Peorth would not be fond of them-at first I'd thought that it would be because she's just not the type of person. I recalled the fact that Kooh mentioned that the princess used to pawn her carrots off on her and decided to go even further back. Running with the concept that she was once a picky eater, I'd considered what her parents would do to remedy just that. Since the queen passed away when she was still really young, she doesn't have many memories of her, but one of the things she does recall is that whenever she cleaned her plate her mother would give her a treat. Something her father did after her mother had passed away. When he too passed away, she often times refused to eat, which became problematic for the head maid, who had become her caretaker. (This was around the same time Kooh became her shadow. Don't worry, I double-checked the timeline. No gigantic mistakes today!) The head maid had told her that her parents would be sad if she didn't eat, and with a child's imagination she came up with the theory that if she was to clean her plate that perhaps they would come back to her. At first it was for that reason, but as she got older it became a habit, and and her desire for sweets waned in its place. It's a part of why she still yearns to see them to this day, and why she's not that fond of them. She would eat them though, if she was needed to. Nothing bad will happen, mind.
    I have a lot of concepts and stuff that come and go I don't mind sharing. Typically they just sit somewhere in my sub-conscious until I recall them and find a use for them, or vice versa. If you're interested in that kind of stuff I'll share them every now and again.
    Onto Amata's case, that was one that became canon. She's a strong girl, but even she has fears and she was courteous enough to explain why. Saves me a world of trouble. One thing that she didn't mention though, was a certain tomboyish God's Governor knew of that fear during their youth and had a tendency to bring every insect she could find to scare her with. They did get along better, but their feud was unending lol. Due to things like that, Amata often considered Su one of the boys. Though she has some tomboyish traits, the Governor of Fire is really feminine at heart. Not that being afraid of that is the reason of course. She just doesn't show a lot of those traits to just anyone. Though a little off topic, I think she's really growing on me. The way she changes how she talks under different circumstances can be pretty charming at times. I know it's not that odd for anyone, but I've grown a certain fondness for her case. One last thing! As you're aware, she's pretty intuitive! She can read the atmosphere between the characters, potentially because she's an outsider or just really attentive, so she's got a pretty good idea of what's going on.

    Now let's get back to the lore. For once someone who actually knows of Xenadia appeared! The Obermas here is the same in game, I'd just given her a role befitting that of the story. Now here's a bit of trivia! As mentioned by Choen Palm in Ch. 9 of Frequency, the God's Governors were once also known as Sages. In truth, that was the original name I had planned for them. It wasn't until after I had reached Xenadia myself that I took that up as the title for them. There's a bit more about it but I can't say that part yet since we haven't gotten to the Xenadia arc, but there was some fitting things there that perfected the idea. Back to Xenadia itself, I'd like to have some of the Sisters make an appearance. It makes me wonder if they're all siblings or just named sisters because of the tasks they conduct there? I have a certain fondness for that place-my creative juices went haywire when I had gotten there myself for the first time, so there's a lot that's gonna go on during that arc, among others. Look forward to it!
    Leaving that aside though, the mystery of Atlantis was mentioned both here and during USSR. Peorth doesn't have any definitive proof or knowledge of exactly what happened to either, but she and Samson have similar speculations. Well technically, you could say she and Hazel. It's a shame there aren't more historians! Maybe there are some in the world, but chances are they're hidden away within the Havens. If any are introduced maybe we'll learn some more about their opinion on TJ or the history of the Asgardians. As for Xenadia and the Derr Clan...well...as you'd suspect, a lot of them didn't make it through that, leaving aside those that had fell during the battle against Asmodeus. It wasn't the end of the clan though, since Iris and a few others were around until but a few years ago.

    I'm running out of time so there are a few more things I wanna cover. When characters use certain spells/stances, you'll see the magic circles appear beneath them. Of course, it's not just for magic alone-it's more of a symbolic thing to them, since they're invoking very unique arts. The icon within changes to a myriad of things, from the elements, to heralds. Typically, it would be the Asgardian Herald, meaning that it it's unaffiliated-by that, I mean to any one specific guild. Remember that Peorth had said that her guild had created some of the stances and spells within the Keruz' books, and her parents and grandparents and many hailing before her had done the same. If she was to invoke their arts, it would gain their herald in place of hers, or the Asgardians as a whole. While if Amata or Su used certain spells it might have their element, that means it would be unique to them as God's Governors. This is also the case during their transformation. Some of them don't have heralds at all, which means they're just normal arcane spells or powerful stances. If you've got an eye for that stuff you'll see a myriad of them in the future I'm sure!
    As for Broken/Shattered Wings, they're essentially the same stance, the latter an improved version of the former. I told you there'd be some introduced, though such a thing also was prior. There'll be more later, but again, it's tough to learn some of them also. SP skills have them too, but more often than not the difference won't be said, but written. I don't usually do comparisons, but if they seem flashy then you can guess.
    Last thing, Peorth's transformation has her summon Memorius Sanctum. The reason for this, is she uses the book to tap into her powers, and to seal them also. Hence why she's so difficult to detect. (Did I mention this before? I feel like I did) In that regard, she, like Amata taps into her power. Amata broke hers into stages because Awakening right off the bat can be straining, and also extremely difficult. Peorth only has one stage, but if she had access to her powers all the time she would be easy to find and assassinate. In turn for this though, her powers are typically very limited, hence why she hardly ever uses her full strength.

    I was gonna take some time to complain about a myriad of things but I've gotta get ready for work so next time! Things might be a bit slower 'cause my second monitor bricked and school is starting next month so I'll...work hard I guess? We'll see how it all shakes out. Until next time!
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Wed Sep 09, 2015 3:10 pm

    Pages  268-278:
    He held out a hand and a torrent of water poured atop the fire, leaving smoke and ashes in the wake of the Abellan.

    “Will that do Chief? In spite of asking you to do something extremely similar yesterday I can't say I'm too...fond of having you do it too.” TJ said as he wiped his brow.
    The guild master chuckled as she patted her hair down-tiny bolts of electricity  jumped from her fingertips to it and caused it to rise despite her best efforts.. “Your concern is appreciated, and it is not lost on me TJ-I can assure you of that.” She smiled slightly. “I do not fear the sky's might, and if you are to conjure it even less so. That matter aside, a joint technique such as this may prove useful in the coming battles. As you are aware, our enemies will oft attack in great numbers which will prove to be a great challenge for me alone.”
    He raised an eyebrow slightly out of disbelief, but as he remembered just who he was talking to his face eased up and he cracked a smile. “You think so? I'll do my best not to disappoint then!”
    “Your technique is perfect as is. Fret not for it.”
    Amata approached from nearby with a weary look in her eyes. “What's going on you two? I'd thought it'd start raining again with all that thunder I've been hearing. Either that or our tents would get struck...” She muttered under her breath as she crossed her arms.
    “Did we wake you? My apologies.” The guild master answered calmly.
    “Sorry about that! The Chief and I were practicing together. I'd talked to her about what happened during our fight against Avaritia and well...she suggested we try one of our own. Thanks to her we came up with something that works.”
    This surprised the God's Governor of Fire. “A joint technique born between a Warlord and a Bard? They're scarce as it is, but you are the Abellan...then again...” She shrugged and smiled as she chuckled. “Abellan and Princess or not, I'm sure the two of you would manage it anyway. I'd ask you to show me but I'd rather not be struck by lightning today so...” She gave them a thumbs-up. “Job well done you two. I've got high hopes for the coming battles.”
    “We shall not disappoint, I can assure you.” Peorth answered with a nod.
    TJ placed a fist to his chest and grinned. “You can count on us Amata!”

    “Is everyone prepared? It seems that we are drawing ever closer to the heart of the Instance Dungeon, and at this point in our adventure I have very few doubts that Gula is not within our reach. In the same vein, I must request that all of you excercise the utmost caution. The battles we have fought up to this point have become increasingly difficult, and the Agasura that challenged us grow stronger every step of the way. If Gula is near, this will be the greatest challenge we have faced here aqs of yet. Constant vigilance!” Peorth explained.
    TJ and Amata let out a battle cry, both in agreement and to rally their group, while Curt nodded solemnly and Su crossed her arms.
    “Not excited Su? Now's the time to get pumped up you know.” Curt said with a teasing grin.
    The God's Governor clicked her tongue before glaring at him. “Do you really expect me to get pumped up like these morons? They can cheer and wave their weapons all they like but if they're gonna get the shit kicked out of 'em anyway no point in getting all riled up. Waste of energy,” She muttered under her breath.
    After their discussion ended Amata and Peorth set off with TJ in tow, and he took a moment to turn around and wave to the two. “Come on slowpokes! We're going!”
    She rolled her eyes. “Yeah yeah whatever...I'm goin'.”
    Curt cracked a grin as he walked after them. “I can feel your influence Asmodeus. Your grip on him, and her love for him grows more by the day. So which will reign supreme when the end times come, hmm?” He jogged slightly as he waved to the others. “Hey guys wait for me! Can't forget your MvP at the base of the mountain now can you?”
    They pressed on and before them stood the valley, a pair of twins peaks reigned tall and true towards the skies butg only one had a winding path towards the top the group could follow, likely to where Gula awaited them. The sounds of a myriad of Agasuras that lived upon the mountain caught their attention, and warned them of what waited further in.
    Amata crossed her arms as she glanced around. “We should keep an eye out for anything that stands out. I take it by now that there's something we need to do in order to move forward and not...you know, die horribly. Right now though? I'm drawing a blank.” She knit her eyebrows and sighed.
    “Wow was that useful or was that useful?” Su asked, her tone dripping with sarcasm.
    Moments before Amata could come up with a furious retort Peorth answered in her stead, “I  suspect that it is far too early for us to find out what it is that awaits us. That matter aside, what are you doing Curt?”
    All eyes shifted to the Treasure Hunter with the remains of a gummy snake hanging from his mouth. “Huh? Oh this?” He pulled it from his mouth and chewed quietly for a couple of moments. “Souvenir. You guys want some?”
    Amata looked disgusted. “Yeah...no.”
    “Pass,” Su remarked.
    “N-no thanks.” TJ said as he gestured the same.
    “More for me.” Curt said with a shrug.
    Peorth blinked slowly as she eyed him curiously. “Curt, are you positive that you do not feel unwell?” She asked.
    “You worry too much Peorth! You should have a crystal and calm down. Something sweet always cheers me right up when I'm down in the dumps.” He reached into his pocket and took out one of the crystals from within the cavern. “I made sure to stock up this time before we left,” He explained. “The only thing different about me is that I'm hyped up on sugar.”
    “Thank you but I will have to turn down that offer.” Peorth answered calmly before turning away. “If you say that you feel fine I will not pester you any further, but please be mindful of what lurks within this Instance. I cannot help but feel that there are ill omens at work here-ones that are disguised to be harmless to both the naked eye, and to our sixth sense.”
    “Aye aye cap'n!” He saluted her.
    Lead by Peorth the group started their trek up the mountain's walkway. The sounds of the Agasura grew louder and unease washed over a few of them but their stalwart leader continued rising ever higher, solemnly but cautiously. As she continued on the earth began to tremble and the Mages of the group placed a hand to the walls next to them.
    “An earthquake? This is bad!” Amata shouted over the noise.
    “The sound is coming from above. It must be a landslide! Everyone, move forward!” Peorth commanded them before rushing ahead. After they travelled a short distance pieces of the mountain tumbled down where they once were and the Abellan let out a sigh of relief. “It may have been the first, but I cannot help but feel it will not be the last. On your guard, everyone.”
    As they progressed a bit further they came across a pedestal with a large chunk of what looked like rock, but just as the rest of the mountain was, proved to be a piece of chocolate. The group stopped before it and passed wary glances about.
    “There's a piece of chocolate on a pedestal.” Amata said and Su sent a glance her way that said she had a snarky remark lined up for her speculation. “Before you say that, the reason I pointed it out is because I think it's a trap. The other ones weren't this obvious.”
    “Your statement holds some truth to it Amata,” Peorth added.
    “I think so too but...there has to be a reason it's here right? I mean, considering that landslide that happened not too long ago, we're not so safe up here. I'm reluctant about it too but...if we find ourselves trapped between, say an Agasura and a landslide, what are we gonna do? I'm not too confident about it, but I say we take the risk and give this a try. If you guys are unsure I'll volunteer.” TJ explained as he eyed them all.
    “For once I actually agree with him.” Su added before pointing at the Abellan with her thumb. “But I d0n't agree with him doing it. Might as well have our resident gourmet here be the guinea pig if we're gonna take the bait.”
    “Is that a compliment I just heard? I'm touched!” Curt said as he clasped his hands together next to his face and his eyes sparkled, accompanied by a single raised leg. The god's Governor growled as she cursed at him.
    Peorth looked at TJ with a worried expression before turning it to Curt. “Is this alright with you?” She asked.
    “Oh sure! I'm not afraid of a little food poisoning and/or getting mauled by a bear. What's the worst that could happen, am I right?” He took the chunk from the grey pedestal with both hands and bit into it. “Mm...milk chocolate. Someone's got good taste!” His eyes opened wide while the others stepped away from the wall when it suddenly crumbled to pieces and revealed a small cavern in which they could take cover.
    The guild master walked over to the entrance and peered inside. “It seems that this may be the use for them. If I was to hazard an assumption, it likely could see some use just as before. We can take cover within these caverns should another landslide appear or Agasura block our path.”
    “It'd probably be wise not to let our guard down though. The other things we used were both a bane and a boon to us. Especially those lemons.” Amata crossed her arms. “Like you always say, we should probably be on our guard. I'm getting the feeling there's something off about this one too.”
    Curt placed the chunk back where he had found it and shortly after the pieces of the wall began to rumble before rebuilding.
    “So we stay too long and we get trapped in, huh?” Su asked as she approached and rapped against the walls three times with her knuckles. “Figures they'd come up with something like that.” She turned to Curt and shoved him. “Move it or lose it, loser.” She turned back to the wall before cracking her knuckles and taking a might step back while reeling a fist back. She punched the wall with the force of the momentum backing her and only left an imprint of her fist in it. “Neither magic nor brute force could break this damn thing.” She shook her hand off before sticking both in her sweater pockets. “I'd know. I used both.”
    TJ crossed his arms and tilted his head. “So there are landslides, a wall we can take cover in which probably will trap us in, and Agasura galore. I think this is gonna be worse than the caverns. Way, way worse,” He muttered sullenly.
    “All things considered, it would be best if we took up formation and used that to keep a lookout for any oncoming dangers. There is the possibility that Agasura will strike from our blind spots-alike to the caverns, we cannot see ahead, nor behind us. What lurks around the bend could easily catch us off guard, so we must use our senses to the best of our ability to foresee the attack and thwart it prior to being endagered by it.” Peorth suggested as she placed her index finger and thumb to her chin thoughtfully.
    “Though if we're to see what's around the bend, we're gonna be awfully far apart won't we? If a battle breaks out, some of us will be out of range to participate Peorth,” Amata said.
    “This is true, but that may work out in our favour. Just as before, the space we have to work with is very limited. Keeping that thought in mind, powerful and destructive magic and stances is not something we should use carelessly. Amata, Suuba, I would like for you to switch positions in the formation.” She eyed the two as they swapped positions. “Once more, Amata I would like for you to follow after TJ. It will allow for you more space to cast safely, and for TJ to be near enough to all of us in case we should be wounded.”
    “No problem Peorth. Just tell me where you need me and I'll have it done.” The Governor answered calmly as she and TJ swapped.
    “You have my thanks.” After inspecting the group Peorth gave an approving nod. “This shall suffice for the time being. Let us proceed.”
    The party continued further up the mountain with care, proceeding step by step. The vanguard was close together, lead by Peorth and Curt with Su a fair distance behind them, and TJ even further from her, but remaining within hearing range of his songs. As they proceeded a bit further Peorth held a hand out at one of the bends and stopped the others in their tracks.
    “Something is coming! I suspect it is no small enemy either! Battle stations everyone!” Peorth shouted to the group as she and Curt readied their weapons.
    “Sounds like a boxer bear judging by those huge footsteps. Might wanna switch with me Peorth.” Curt said as he placed his shield hand to her shoulder.
    “Just so you know, not all of them are boxers.” Su added curtly as she furrowed her brows. “One of them dropkicked me.” The two looked at her with confused expressions.
    “I'll have some support songs up for you guys in a moment! Hang tight!” TJ said as he frantically strummed his guitar.
    Curt blinked. “Changed my mind. You're up to bat boss! Show me how it's done!”
    Peorth took up a battle stance as the bear turned the corner and rose to its full height and roared. She eyed it cautiously, almost expecting it to try and throw a jab, but as Su warned instead it charged directly at her with one arm out. Peorth strafed to the side to slam herself against the wall and dropped to the ground before she found herself caught in the bear's clothesline while Curt swung from the arm and plunged his dagger into its neck. As he landed he drew two knives from his coat and it came to a halt as it ran into a wall created by Su.
    “You're mine now!” Su shouted as she fell from above with two clones surrounding the bear from both of its flanks. Each lunged at it and thrusted tgheir daggers into its side while Su came down and plunged hers through the top of its head. It outstretched both arms and knocked the heads off both clones with a lariat and swatted Su away as she reclaimed the weapons and jumped back to the top of the wall. “Try not to lose your weapon, jackass.” She hurled the dagger to Curt and he caught it with a salute.
    “I know you've got my back!” He said with a grin.
    “Curt! Now is the time!” Peorth said as she lunged forward, keeping her body low. When the bear came to a halt she rose and thrust her spear into the creature with Burst Lancer.
    “Right behind ya!” He shouted as he ran across the wall and dove past the bear as it swiped at the guild master, narrowly missing him. Before he collided with Su's wall he turned over and used it to leap back at the bear, following in Su's wake as she sliced through its other flank. “Give us an opening!”
    Peorth nodded once and stepped back with a retreating stab before  she twirled the weapon above her head and it hit it across the back of the head. In the moment that it stumbled both Treasure Hunter and Mage alike plunged their daggers into the opening she created and cut outwards through both flanks. The bear fell in two pieces and the group put their weapons away.
    “Are you guys okay over there? Is anyone hurt?” TJ shouted to them. Su placed a hand to the wall and it crumbled to pieces, revealing a worried looking Abellan.
    “No problems here! That one was either to defeat then the others! More like that please!” Curt laughed with a grin.
    “I am thankful for this, but it was but one Agasura. They are prone to come in groups, as we are aware.” Peorth said as she nodded sagely.
    “Well we're not dead so why don't you lighten up a bit already? You celebrate like you're at the wake of a funeral.” Su commented as she eyed the guild master. The guild master blinked, her expression somewhat surprised, but remained silent nonetheless.

    The group continued forward and found another pedestal.
    “Should we go inside?” TJ asked as he eyed it from where he was.
    “I do not sense any danger. There is no need for us to do so now,” Peorth answered.
    “Then let's keep going. It'd probably be a good idea to keep it in mind that it's here, so if we need to come back we can.” Curt suggested as he gestured them to move forward.
    “That would be a wise decision. Let us proceed.” At those words they continued on and Peorth came to a halt before turning back to the group. “Something is coming! Everyone, return at once!”
    They all ran back and came to a skidding halt as TJ grabbed hold of the pedestal to stop himself from going downhill and picked up the chunk of chocolate. He immediately took two large bites and swallowed it, opening the path and taking cover with his companions in the safety of the darkness. When Curt was the last one to enter the Abellan looked out frantically for the guild master. “Chief? Where are you Chief?!” Su grabbed him by the top and pulled him back as a series of rocket popsicles flew past.
    “Are you stupid? We hid for a reason!” She roared.
    “But the Chief-”
    “TJ, worry not, for I am safe.” The guild master said as she arose from below and took her place on the mountainside. Her wings shrunk and she disappeared as she looked past them. “Though that cavern is not safe! It is inhabited by Agasura concurrently!”
    “Get down!” Curt shouted as a bear stirred to its feet and rushed towards them as it snarled. He raised his shield as it swiped at him and knocked him back into Amata-the two fell backwards near a rock and a snake rose up and hissed at the two. Amata let out a shriek as she struggled to free herself from beneath Curt's weight and fled the cave before huddling outside with her staff tightly gripped between her fingers.
    As Curt struggled to his feet the bear came back for him and TJ charged forward before bashing its flank with his guitar. “I won't let you!” He snarled as it turned to him with a vicious glare. With a wave of his hand three icy needles appeared between his fingers and he hurled them into the bear's face. It would do him well to pay closer attention to Kooh's spells, as there was much and more he could learn from them. Setting the thought aside he helped Curt to his feet as the snake bit down on his own and found Peorth's spear in its body shortly after.
    The bear snarled and flailed about as Curt lent TJ a hand escaping and Su gestured them to the entrance. “Hurry it up would you? The damn thing is gonna close soon!” TJ limped through with his arm around Curt while the bear broke the needles in its face and ran after them. “Oh for fuck's sake!” She hissed as charged past TJ and Curt, who narrowly escaped and shoulder tackled the bear before falling off of the cliff with it.
    Amata awoke from her fear and glanced off of the edge to catch a glimpse of the God's Governor turning into a series of spheres and vanishing as the bear tumbled down the mountain and deeper into the darkness of the valley.
    Su emerged from TJ's crystal and sighed as the Bard placed his hands to his wound and healed it. “You fuckin' idiots! Can you not avoid getting killed even once?” TJ laughed meekly and she clicked her tongue.
    “Thanks again Su,” He added sheepishly and Amata nodded as she walked into their view.
    “Same here. And sorry...again.” She added with an apologetic bow.
    “You need not apologize for something beyond your control Amata. If there is something you fear, then we shall be here beside you until you conquer it. We shall face that fear in your stead. It is not only a guild's duty, but also a party's duty to meet the shortcomings of its members and bring balance where it is needed.” Peorth explained calmly.
    Amata opened her mouth to speak but closed it solemnly and smiled. “Yeah...of course. You're right, Peorth. Thanks.” Her smiled spread into a grin as she brushed her hair behind her ear. “I feel better already.”
    The guild master nodded. “TJ, how are you faring?”
    “I'm good to go!” He said as he clenched his fists and rose to his feet. “You know, despite those snakes being gummy snakes, they bite really hard! Like the sharks!”
    “What snake constricts people? I dunno what world you live in but that's no ordinary lizard.” Su muttered as she crossed her arms.
    “So it's a constrictor then? I guess it's a good thing then, since they don't have any venom.” Curt said as he nodded sagely.
    “Venom...” Amata mumbled as she covered her mouth and averted her eyes.
    Su sent her a wary glance. “What kind of thoughts are you having?”
    “Wh-I wasn't thinking anything dirty you pervert!”
    “You're calling me the pervert when I haven't even said anything?! You goddamn sicko!”
    “Now now you two. We must proceed calmly and cautiously. Now is not the time for fighting amongst ourselves.” Peorth said. “Come, let us continue our journey.”

    They ascended ever higher and for a spell found themselves safe. It had been some time since the landslides came, and there were no signs of Agasura as far as they could tell, but the further they climbed the more energy they had exhausted.
    “You mind if we stop and take a breather?” Amata shouted to the vanguard. “I've done a lot of adventuring myself but climbing mountains and...well, anything that's this exhausting really isn't my specialty.”
    “I have no qualms on the matter,” Peorth answered.
    “Fine by me.” Curt added.
    TJ laid his guitar down and sat down with a gentle sigh. Su leaned against the wall with a scoff and closed her eyes while Amata joined the group. “You got any more of that rock candy Curt? I could use something sweet to restore my energy.” The Governor of Fire said as she approached.
    “I knew you'd come around sooner or later.” He said as he removed one of the pieces of rock candy and handed it to her.
    “Under normal circumstances I wouldn't think twice about it, but we've already been in here quite a few days and our rations are running low. You can never be too careful.” She placed the piece of candy in her mouth and sighed gently. “Though I'm not really one to talk, eating something from within the dungeon.”
    “They're not too bad, but it certainly makes you crave more.” TJ said before he turned to Curt. “Would you pass some my way too please?”
    “Sure sure. How about you ladies? Thgere's enough to go around!” The Treasure Hunter happily exclaimed as he passed a piece to TJ.
    “I don't want anything from you,” Su hissed.
    “There's enough Curt to go around to-”
    “I'm gonna hit you.”
    “TJ, a moment?” Peorth asked and his head perked up at her words. “You said that it gives you reason to desire more...was that just the case with the crystals?”
    He placed a finger to his lips. “Mm...well not really. I mean, that chocolate was really good too.” He chuckled sheepishly as he rubbed the back of his neck. “Truthfully it doesn't matter what it is, I'm just craving something to eat. I hope this is over quickly so we can have a nice warm meal.” He raised his head as his expression glazed over and a trickle of drool ran down his face. “Ah!” He wiped his mouth and frowned. “That was...pretty shameless of me. You didn't see, did you?”
    The guild master blinked solemnly. “I did not.”
    “She's lying through her teeth,” Su remarked.
    “Good try though,” Curt added.
    Amata punched his arm. “Both of you, shut it!”
    “Is this the same case with you Curt?” Peorth asked as he stuffed a large chunk of rock candy in his mouth.
    “Probbly,” He answered with stuffed cheeks.
    “This is cause for concern. If that fact is any indication, it means that one's desire to eat grows the more they eat within this dungeon. I would highly recommend that you put down whatever you have chosen to eat thus far. If we are to use that as a tactic in battle, we must do so sparingly, as it puts our well-being at risk.”
    “That's gonna be tough.” Curt answered as he swallowed. “I mean, it's one of those things where once you start doing it, it's hard to just quit cold turkey, you know? I mean, I need more something fierce, and my stash is running out. I might have to gut someone before their stomach acid breaks it down.” The eyes of his companions darted to him and he gestured for them to calm down. “A joke! It was just a joke! Don't look at me like that.”
    “Be careful everyone. I worry more for your safety by the moment.” Peorth said as she knit her eyebrows and crossed her arms.
    We'll pull through somehow Chief. We always do, so don't worry!” TJ said with a grin.
    She smiled, but there was a sadness hidden behind it. “I take solace in your words...and yet I cannot help but fear for them even more.”
    After a short break the group continued uphill and found themselves at another pedestal.
    “We now know that there is a chance that the cave will be infested  with Agasura. We must be wary of what lurks within, and if we will choose to enter it knowing this fact. For the time being, let us proceed. If you feel unsure about what lies ahead, I would recommend you and Suuba trade places Curt. Should she find herself unable to escape, she has a means to guarantee that she should not fall.”
    “Ahh I'll be fine Peorth, but I do appreciate the concern. You just worry about what's ahead and I'll watch your back.”
    The guild master nodded and continued forward before drawing her spear. “We are nearing the top, but there is something that is coming, and quickly. Brace yourselves!” TJ was torn between playing a support song and preparing to run for dear life. He clenched his fists and closed his eyes before opting out for the former. As he started to play a group of jelloy doughnuts rolled down the hill, side by side and the guild master took a couple steps back before raising her spear skyward. “War Cry!” A crimson aura flowed from her and back into her before she held her spear out horizontally before her and blocked the three as they collided with her spear and forced her back a couple steps.
    Su turned her head towards the top of the mountain and grit her teeth. “There's another landslide incoming!” She shouted.
    “Everyone, fall back immediately! Do not dally!” Peorth carefully stepped back as she tried to avoid the landslide and momentum returned to the Agasura that assailed her-she barely kept her footing as she turned down the hill and followed in the wake of her companions.
    The group turned at the bend and Amata grabbed hold of the chocolate chunk, but moments before she could take a bite of it two constrictors slithered down from above and landed before her, causing her to throw the item away in a panic with a shriek.
    “I've got it!” TJ shouted as he ran towards the ledge and dove off of it to catch the pieces and spread his wings. With one powerful beat he pushed himself back to the ledge his companions stood on and found himself in Curt's arms. “Nice catch!”
    “I could say the same to you partner.” Curt said with a grin.
    “Enough fawning, more eating!” Su hissed as she dragged Amata away from the snakes.
    “R-right!” TJ said as Curt let him go and he took a bite of the chocolate and placed it back on the pedestal. He and Curt quickly got inside. “Everybody in!”
    “Easier said...than done!” Su hissed as she attempted to pull Amata with her but failed. “You're fuckin' heavy! How much do you eat?! Shit!”
    Curt rushed to lend  them his aid but found himself blocked off as Peorth was pushed further back into Su, followed by Amata and the constrictors approached ever closer. “Well this is bad.” He stepped back as the broken wall rumbled to life and began to repair itself, locking the two in the darkness. He pounded against the wall a couple times before cursing. “Girls! Can you hear me? Are you alright?!” He shook his head and turned to TJ, the shuttered brown eyes glinted in the darkness as the Abellan blinked solemnly. “It's a good thing I always keep some cr-shit.”
    “All out?” TJ asked with a hint of disappointment in his voice.
    “Don't gimme that look. It only makes it harder.”
    “S-sorry.” He averted his gaze. “I can still feel my mana so...” He clenched a fist and rised it skyward, creating a small sphere of light that brightened the cave. “Ahh!” TJ cried out as he collided with the wall, holding his guitar tightly.
    “What is i-whoa! Bears huh? Looks like things got from bad to worse, didn't they?” Curt cuchkled dryly.

    “Get it away! Get it away!” Amata cried as she stepped back into Su and Su was pressed against Peorth's back, the whole group coming to a halt as the distance between them and the Agasura shortened.
    “If you'd just calm the fuck down for two goddamn seconds I COULD THINK! “ Su roared as she grabbed the hem of Amata's coat and tossed her into the wall. “Shit!” She stomped her foot down and the doughnuts that assaulted Peorth were flung through the air as the earth beneath them rose up with Su's fury. She pounded an open palm and turned on the balls of her heels to point skyward. “Mother Gaia!” Chunks of earth rose up from the chasm and pelted her targets as Peorth let her guard down and took a breath. “Fight's not over yet, princess. I wouldn't let my guard down if I were you.” She turned her back to the guildmaster who took up a battle stance. “I saved your ass this time, but don't expect the same next time.” She drew her dagger and engaged the snakes. One of the two attempted to wrap its body around her by flinging its head forward, but missed as Su dashed towards the wall and leapt over Amata to approach the second. It too, dove at her and she leapt from the wall and spread her wings to fly back into the fray with a downward stab. Her dagger pierced the snake and it hissed while the other turned around and threw itself at Su again.
    One of the doughnuts had fallen from the mountain side but the other two crashed back down before Peorth and rose to their feet, raising their fists as if to challenge her with just that. She eyed it from head, to toe, shocked that such small legs could carry the weight of the creatures, and speculated that if she was to sweep beneath them knocking them down and off of the landing would be no challenge. She eyed the hole and realized if she did so, and it fell forward she could easily find herself trapped also, once more. She lunged forward once and followed with a second advancing stab, causing both to back away cautiously. They were weak, but not to be undersdtimated should they get too close-the sheer size of them would make them difficult to shift even with a Warlord's strength. She took another careful thrust and one of the two bumped into the other, causing it to lean back, forward, and stumble towards Peorth.
    “What?” She asked as it came ever closer and she thrust into it before taking a step back and returning with a jumping stab. She pierced the top of it, and in desperation it turned to and fro, moving Peorth hither and thither as both seemed to fly into a panic. Her body hung from the precipice, and the sudden movements it made increased the difficulty of focusing a hundred times harder. It turned to the wall and Peorth collided  with it, causing her to let go of her spear and slide to the ground near Amata as she let out a weakened groan.
    “Get your fuckin' act together would you?!” Su roared as she turned a pair of glaring crimson eyes to Peorth. “I've got enough on my plate as it is!”
    One of the constrictors wrapped itself around Amata's body and she shuddered silently as she struggled to break free of its grip.
    Peorth staggered to her feet and shook off her dizziness as she placed a hand to the wall. Those eyes, and the rapid beating of her heart unsettled her deeply. TJ and Curt were in danger, and she felt certain that it was their presences that were growing weaker by the moment.

    “K-keep it together...TJ!” TJ told himself as he pulled himself to his feet and wiped the blood from his mouth. “Not yet...not yet!” His guitar sat near the entrance, on the other side of the two bears who both laid into Curt. One of the two pinned him down while the other punched him in the face mercilessly. TJ took a deep breath before pounding his fists together and raising his head. “Wrath! Brute Force!”  He dashed towards the bear holding his companion down and dove at it with a flying punch. The blow connected with its head and he hit the ground hard before finding himself dragged on the ground by his foot and swung around onto the bear's shoulders. It grabbed him by the neck and by his legs and cracked his back before hurling him towards the other-the attack was followed up by a single haymaker that launched the Abellan further into the darkness of the cave, where he curled up and gripped his stomach as he reeled with pain.
    “I'll cover you dude. Don't you worry!” Curt uttered with a bloody grin. His face was swollen and turning darker shades by the minute but he still drew knives from his coat and drew the bears' attention by hurling them. “We're not done here boys. Come on, come get me!” One of the two stampeded towards him before taking two swings at him-his speed was hindered but he was still able to avoid both attacks skillfully. He drew four knives from his coat and hurled each through the torso and arms. It attempted to get him with a hook from both arms but he dropped to the floor and threw down a smoke bomb. Within the cloud he rose to his feet and ripped out one of the daggers before plunging it into the back and pulling it across the body. He ran back and grabbed one in the right arm as it reeled back from another swing and cut a 'T' into the arm before jumping off the wall and over the other bear as it clotheslined its companion. Curt cut a swath through it and it nearly collapsed on him with an elbow but missed him once again as he descened on it with dagger and knife in hand. He rapidly stabbed it, leaving a series of marks within as it rose to its feet with him holdong on to its back. The other swatted at him and he grabbed hold of its arm to pull it apart from the rest and loosen it as he ran around it. With its left arm it attempted to backhand him but missed as he crouched under it and found two feet in his face. He was sent tumbling back intgo a wall and hit it hard, then found one of the bears approach. It hauled him over its shoulders before spinning around and hurling him off of it.
    “C-Curt...? TJ asked as he opened his eyes and blinked. He blinked once more as his vision was distorted and crimson from the blood that ran down his forehead, but despite his weakness he still attempted to rise to his feet. “N...no...I'm not strong enough...” He had the Frequency at his disposal. Whether he wanted it or not, he had tapped into the Chaos Frequency and it could give him the strength he needed again. Was it the strength he needed to protect his friends? Or just a borrowed power he used in his time of need? He gripped his temples as the Sound of Frequency echoed within his mind and he shook his head. Do you fear the darkness? The words of the shadow that encroached upon his psyche returned to him and he shook his head. “I'm not...I'm not afraid....” He watched as the bears drew closer to Curt and to him. He grit his teeth and staggered to his feet, his pupils were engulfed by a crimson light that faded when he blinked. ...it encroaches upon the very foundations of your being and consumes  you...He clenched his fist as he heaved and the two eyed him, before drawing closer. “I...I'm in control...” He snarled as he lost his balance but for a moment and a dark energy surrounded him. “I will not...be conquered! I will...destroy...” His words steadily became a mix of snarls as he placed both hands to his head and let out a cry. His arms grew as a pitch-black coating engulfed them, his body fell forward and grew in size and his hands turned into claws. His face turned into a snout as he took the form of a large bear, one that towered over the others. They both charged at him at once and with one fell swoop he knocked one into the wall and dug his fangs into the other before ripping out a large part of its neck. He let out one victiorious bellow before he collapsed to his knees and gripped his temples as he shook his head. “I am...I am in control...” His body shrunk back to its normal size but retained the silhouette shape to it as the crimson eyes rapidly flickered between his normal crimson pupils and what they had become. “I am not a monster...I'm not...like them...”
    “Good work TJ...” Curt huffed as he staggered to his feet. “But the battle's not over yet...so...act fast eh?”
    One of the two bears rose again and shifted to and fro-the claw marks from TJ's strike and knife wounds from Curt were clear as day, but were not enough to put the creature down.

    Amata looked both in terror and disbelief at the sight before her-a wolf black as night leapt at the snake that constricted her and pinned it down with its paws before tearing a part of the body to pieces with a vicious snarl. It pulled the rest from her and hurled it off the cliff before batting its next attacker aside with its paws and tearing through it also. “Su...What is that? That power...?” She asked meekly.
    Ignoring the Governor's words the wolf turned towards Peorth who kept both doughtnuts busy-one of the two had a series of holes punctured within but due to their immense size and shape, she found herself hard-pressed to land a proper strike on it without her weapon sliding through the hole. She turned at the sound of the wolf's approached and stepped aside as it leapt through the center of the Agasura and charged into it from behind, knocking it to the floor. Peorth saw her opportunity and swept it into the air with her spear before tearing it to pieces with Wind Wall. She set her gaze to the wolf again that leapt her target and struck in a flurry of claws and fangs, dancing around the target as it tore it apart piece by piece. Peorth hurled her spear and knocked it over, the wolf taking to the bottom while she ripped her spear out from the creature and turned on the balls of her heels to deal a final descending strike between the eyes.
    Her eyes met with the clear, crimson eyes of the wolf as she placed her spear upright beside her. “It seems that you have come to my aid once more, Suuba. I owe you a debt.”

    The bear staggered over to TJ as he clenched his fists and dug his nails into the ground. “G-get away...I  won't...become that thing...I won't...let Asmodeus have his way!” His declaration was bold, but what did he risk in choosing not to tap into that strength again, and what did he risk in choosing to do so? Would Curt be safe? Would he lose himself? Would that ability mean he was already transforming into an Agasura? Was it too late for him? He grit his teeth as sweat and blood ran down his face. It was not his time to die-if he had to use that power, he would. The bear raised its claw as he raised his head to prepare one last counterattack.
    Suddenly the creature came to a halt, then finally collapsed on its side solemnly. Curt stood behind it with a pair of knives and his dagger in hand as he heaved out a few heavy sighs. “You know better than I do how dangerous using the Contemptuous Arts is TJ. Take a page from Peorth's book.” He said as he raised a finger. “Constant vigilance!” He said in a monotone, but with a hint of enthusiasm.
    TJ smiled weakly. “That's what friends are for, right?”
    Curt shrugged. “There's that too. Now let's get your guitar so you can patch me up yeah? This coconut on my face makes it hard to see, and I think I'm severely bleeding internally.”
    “If you'll carry me over there you've got yourself a deal.”
    The cavern opened and an ailed looking Peorth and Amata waited at the entrance.
    “Are you two alright?!” The guild master asked in a panic.
    “A bit hurt but it's nothing a little music can't fix!” Curt said with a chuckle.
    “I don't think I can heal all the wounds, but I can patch us up enough so we can fight again.” TJ added as he knit his eyebrows. “I need to hone my songs a bit more, to be honest.”
    “Take all the time you need,” Peorth began, “it seems that the flow of Agasura has come to a halt, so we need only proceed to the apex of the mountain and face off with the Sinner.”
    TJ and Curt sat against the cave's entrance as TJ gently strtummed his guitar and healed their wounds. He opened his eyes and turned them to the guild master who looked off into the valley, her figure standing tall across the orange dyed sky. Across a portion of her dress was both dust, and a few scratches that seemed to reach a part of her arms.
    “Chief...you're hurt.” He said quietly to which she turned to him.
    “Am I?” She placed a hand to the scratches and smiled. “Did I worry you? My apologies. Alas, it is naught that you need to worry over. Focus your efforts on Curt and yourself. I can fight without concern for this.” He knit his eyebrows but she offered him a confident nod.
    “She's kinda right there, you know. You look pretty bad.” Amata sighed. “You're practically bleeding out of every orifice. Both you and him.” She reached into her pocket and drew a handkerchief, then knelt down near the Bard as he eyed her solemnly. She suddenly froze as her eyes shifted in the direction of Peorth who watched silently, and Su who leaned against the wall impatiently. “Use this.” She dropped the handkerchief in his lap and grinned. “I'd rather not die today.”
    After a short rest the two got to their feet and stretched.
    “Man I wish I hauled that bear out with us.” Curt grumbled as his stomach followed suit. “A thousand ely says I could eat the whole thing.”
    “Don't. I'd rather not see that, Agasura or not.” Amata muttered as she rubbed her arm gently.
    “Oh come now, you've never eaten an Agasura? You've gotta try Prir-”
    “I'm not listening!” The God's Governor raised a hand and walked away as Curt followed after her with his talk.
    “Are you sure you can continue? You need not rush headlong into battle if you feel that you are still unwell.” Peorth said as she approached TJ.
    He offered her a thumbs-up and grinned. “I'm A-OK! Besides, I've been preparing for this day for a while now. If I wanna find out the truth of my past and the memories I've lost, I have to face my siblings. They know everything I don't. Besides, I feel like if I can face my past, I can face the future.” He smiled at her. “Though with a courageous ally like you by my side even I'm not really afraid.” His smile faltered and his face flushed as he scratched his cheek. “A-anyway, let's not keep Gula waiting shall we? Let's move out!”
    She chuckled, “Yes, let us.”
    It was a short walk to the peak-once again lead by Peorth, the group ascended to the top, a flat landing coated in all manner of weapons and half-eaten Agasura, all sprawled across the ground as if they had either killed each other, or had been killed by the one who had summoned them. In the midst of it all sat a lone man wearing a crimson tank top, camo cargo pants, and olive green hiking boots. His appearance, similar to TJ's but his body huskier than his counterpart's. Alike to Avaritia, he had crimson eyes and his hair in cornrows.
    His back was turned to them, but not for long. He arose from sitting cross-legged and faced them as he cracked his neck. “I've gotta give it to ya,” He began revealing a series of fangs in place of regular teeth, “I didn't think you'd go all the way to me, but you did.” He frowned. “So? The hell're you doin' here Sis? Instead of coming into my dungeon and screwing it up shouldn't you be focusing on father's revival?” He looked at the group with pure disgust. “And with a group of those filthy Cerebians at that.”
    “Don't you dare talk bad about them!” TJ roared as he took a step forward and glared. “You know nothing about them, and you're in no place to judge them!” Peorth placed a hand to his shoulder and offered him a nod, to which he let out a sigh and took a breath. “The reason I'm here, is to defeat you. But it doesn't have to be that way! You can still change-you can escape from this prison and fight to save this world we both live in. Turn your back to Asmodeus and his beliefs-his desire to destroy this world and help me and the others save it! I'd already met with Avaritia and she was vehement against turning against him. I don't want this to have to be the same way.”
    “You met with Avaritia?” He asked with disbelief. “Then the reason I can sense her presence here is...”
    The Abellan nodded. “That's right. I've integrated here, and that'll be the case with you and all of the others if you guys are so adamant on destroying Midgard.” TJ furrowed his brows. “I've no reason, nor mercy for you if you plan on doing the same.” He sighed. “Even so, I don't think I heard the whole story from Avaritia. Even if I still plan to stand against it, I at least want to know why-why Asmodeus wants to wipe out humanity, and whether or not you'll consider my offer.”
    Gula sighed. “Let me save you the trouble. Under no circumstances will I join you and those Cerebians. As for humanity? They're nothing but a plague on Midgard. I'm sure you know that as well as I do,  The world and the people that inhabit it can't live in harmony. Humans take up resources at an incredible pace, their population increases and further take up that which Midgard thrives on! They consume more and more and more and through all of it, they're bleeding the planet dry! Have you ever asked what will happen when Midgard has no plants, no animals and no water to sustain those morons? Have any of you?” He looked upon them with disdain, before he raised two fingers. “I'll give you two possibilities. One! They would resort to war. They would kill and feed off of each other in the wasteland that they created until their numbers finally dwindle and die out once and for all. And two? They'll reach further out. They'll leave that world, and inhabit the other nine worlds so they can survive and thrive again, like the cockroaches they are! They'll just jump from world to world, whichever can sustain them, and destroy it. They'll only bring more war and destruction in their wake.” He clicked his tongue. “Death's a mercy to them, one that they don't deserve. But it's what God Ah sent us to do, and if Father says that we abide by his word, then that's damn fine by me!”
    Peorth took to the vanguard and stared the Sinner down. “If that is truly what you believe, then I deem you nothing more than incorrigible! If that is the regime that you and all of the other Sinners intend to follow then I shall be there to ensure that the corruption that you insist on does not come to pass! The Asgardians have learned to work with and fight alongside Humanity. Through this, we will heal the planet's wounds, and in time find a balance between Man, Asgardian, beast and the planet as a whole. Through this, all shall thrive without the need for pure unbridled destruction! It is nothing more than the inept wishes of Choen Palm, you and your siblings, and Agasura King Asmodeus himself!”
    Gula looked at the guild master with both a mix of disbelief and surprise before holding out a hand and manifesting a scythe through a violet mana. He wielded the weapon in a fighting stance as he glared at her. “It's been thousands of years but you finally decided to show yourself, did you? It's no surprise that your lot killed Avaritia, but you're not gonna be that lucky this time around! I'll crush you and your merry band of friends and put an end to that bitch goddess' bloodline once and for all! After that, I can take Luxuria back and undo the brainwashing you put her under.” He placed his scythe upright and turned his gaze to TJ. “Rather than have me defect, shouldn't you be the one to do just that, Sis?”
    TJ glared. “I'm not your sister, nor am I Luxuria. My name is TJ. You'd do yourself well to commit that to memory, but it'll only be for a short while. My mind is made, and that means I'm gonna beat you.”
    He sighed. “Is it? You don't even remember what she did to you?” His gaze quickly turned sharp and enraged. “Of course you don't, because you're not Luxuria. Just some fake their precious Amae created for the sake of convenience! For the sake of stroking her own ego!” He clicked his tongue. “And it was her very lineage, the daughter she valued so much that cut you down before my very eyes. Now she's standing before you and giving you googly-eyes to get you to turn over to her side?”
    TJ looked on in sheer disbelief. “W-what are you talking about...?”
    “TJ, you must not believe in his words! It is nothing more than trickery to lower your guard!” Peorth warned him as she held a hand out.
    Gula grinned. “That's right. You don't remember? She had used a spell that her beloved mother had lent to her, and killed you with it! Did you think that scar in your chest just appeared there? Hah! Of course they wouldn't tell you the whole truth! Those lying Cerebians!”
    TJ gripped his temples as he heard the Sound of Frequency. “No...not now...I can't...” He fell to his knees.
    “You can hear Him, can't you? Father is lending you his aid, restoring your memories-those that the Cerebians had taken from you. Don't fight it, you need to remember. Remember the truth, of who you really are, and what they'd taken from you.”
    “No...I...” TJ's consciousness faded away, and the battle that lurked ever closer seemed more distant by the moment, while another began.

    The sounds of war surrounded him-battle cries and cries in the throes of death. The sound of magic crashing down into the earth and arrows tearing through the sky. Commands, songs, and war cries all blended together as his vision became clearer. When he could finally see, he saw two massive claws before him, and a short distance away a young woman clad from head-to-toe in full armour.
    A snow white plate with a blue sunburst upon it-matching gauntlets, sabatons, a winged helmet and a deep blue cape. In her hands a lovely ornate spear. Though far, through the openings of the helmet he could see her face, and the blue locks that remained within.
    “Do you dare to do it, Ásvaŕtlim? Come, I invite you! Do you have the courage to slay that which your goddess deems of such importance?! Choose wisely, for if you do not, I shall slay you, and one by one torment your precious Keruz!” They were his words, but they were not words he chose to speak, nor was it his voice. It sounded eerily similar to Adonis, and TJ feared for the shadow of doubt that crept upon him.
    “Do you take me for a fool, demon spawn?!” The lady roared in turn.” She placed her spear to her back and removed her helmet, before tossing it down to the ground. “Lady Amae's word is absolute, and if you think that your inane jests will break my spirit or resolve, then you shall be struck down a fool!” As TJ looked on he began to see the similarities between her and Peorth. Her eyes, the shape of her nose and even hair colour were the same, though her hair was cut short giving her a tomboyish look. Her eyebrows were bushier, and her eyes and expression made her look much more ferocious than her current counterpart, but it was not a far cry to say that the two were alike in more ways than one. She clasped her hands together. “Hear my prayer, Goddess of Creation. Bestow upon me that which will purge the evils that plague this world. By your will I shall be the blade of evil's bane! Lend me your strength, my goddess!” She held a hand to the sky as a magic circle appeared beneath her with the Asgardian herald and from it a pillar of light engulfed her. “Amae's Benevolence!” As the pillar closed, becoming nothing more than a trickle of light upon the raised hand of the Asgardian, she lowered her hand to her side with a swing before pointing at Adonis with the other-the lowered hand now a blade of light split among her fingers which extended to her wrist. “With this one strike I shall eliminate you, cursed being!”
    He laughed maniacally. “Are you courageous enough, or will you only talk Asgardian? Strike me down!”
    Her eyes remained trained on him, but in that moment they looked more serious than ever. “For Asgard!” In a split second, she was before him, with the blade piercing through the center of his chest. At that moment, time seemed to slow down as pain echoed through TJ's body and sent all of his nerves into a frenzy.
    Adonis hacked up a spatter of blood onto the Asgardian's armour, adding to that which was already there among scratches and other various dents, and he grinned. “Come now, Asgardian. Did you think that would kill me? This is naught but a flesh wound! If you wish to kill the love child of a goddess you must try harder!” He took her arm and pulled it even further until her hand had pierced through to the other side. She looked shocked for but a moment, and quickly regained her composure. “That...that, is how you slay a god, Asgardian.” He chuckled as he coughed up some more blood and grinned at her. “But the true fool, is she who shall live to tell.” At those words his grip on her gauntlets fell away and his head fell limp.
    She pulled her arm out and with a wave of her hand the spell dissipated in a series of spheres of light. She turned to her companions who were fighting nearby as she held the corpse high for all to see. “Take heart, my stout allies! My companions! We have struck down Adonis and dealt a crushing blow to Asmodeus' army! It is only a matter of time before this battle is ours! For God Ah, for Our Lady Amae, and for Asgard, we shall prevail!” With her other hand she raised her spear as her rallying cry was answered by those who fought on the battlefield before her.

    The memory faded away and TJ found himself back in the present, held up by an anxious Peorth. He looked back on with terror in his eyes, and her expression immediately changed. As he pulled away from her, she rose to her feet, looking downtrodden and heartbroken for but a moment before putting on a serious expression that remained trained on Gula.
    “You saw it, didn't you? You saw how the Cerebians mercilessly struck you down, and used your corpse as a point to rally to.” the Sinner snorted. “But I suppose it's as much yours as it's Adonis'.” His grin quickly turned sour. “Amae sealed Luxuria in the same body as she did with him of all people. The nerve of that woman! To give you life. All so that you weren't just some empty husk she had those Asgardians defeat Luxuria and seal her away within that vessel using that ridiculous gem. And now we have you. You backstabbing piece of shit! As if Luxuria wasn't enough, you'd taken Avaritia too, and now you want me? Heh! Don't count on it!” He pointed to Peorth. “As for you, Ásvaŕtlim or not, I'm gonna put you in the ground and take back what belongs to us!”
    “Now just you wait right there!” Amata said. “You're claiming Peorth is her ancestor? Are you stupid? It's been thousands of years since the Agasuric War. Asgardians don't live that long, and they're two different people! Valkyrie Leigha was the hero of the Cerebians and the first Ásvaŕtlim in the clan. How many generations do you think it's been since then?!” She turned her focus to Peorth and TJ. “Rise up you two! Don't let his words shake you any further than they have-what he's saying and what's actually going on are way too different!”
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Wed Sep 09, 2015 3:12 pm

    Pages 278-288:
    Peorth let out a sigh. “You are correct, God's Governor. I know not what lead you to believe me for my heroic ancestor, but I shall tell you now that I am not her, but I shall aspire to be that which she was and aim ever higher! I shall continue the war that my lineage had waged and see it to the end, along with that of Agasura King Asmodeus'! For the time being, I shall put an end to this mummer's farce and have you take back your words which sully my clan's name!” Peorth drew her spear and pointed it at Gula. “TJ, I know you may have your doubts due to your memories, and even so, now but once more I must ask you to put your faith in me! Together we shall go forward and pursue the truth that has been veiled, be it by the gods themselves or by one of the many you had come to know during your time. Take heart, and fight by our side as the Abellan once more!”
    He tightly gripped his guitar in both hands as he looked to his companions. Peorth who earnestly requested his aid. Amata who gave him a confident nod and grinned, not showing a hint of doubt. Curt who gave him a thumbs-up and set his sights on the enemy before them, and finally Su who shrugged and placed her hands in her pockets, a sign that she approved of the guild master's words. “I believe you Chief. Together, we'll sort it all out.” He said as he held his guitar, ready to play.
    “You have my utmost gratitude TJ. Together, we shall bring an end to this turmoil.”
    “That'll be your first, and your last mistake TJ.” Gula slammed his scythe down and the creatures that were once felled became animated and came to life once more. “You're in for a real treat!”
    “We begin! Curt, take my left flank! Suuba, my right! Amata I wish for you to provide support and TJ support spells until I give you further commands!” Peorth shouted to her companions. “I shall keep Gula!” At those words both Treasure Hunter and Mage alike rushed past Peorth to take to the Agasuras that infested the area while Amata drew her staff and prepared a spell. The guild master hurled her spear and transitioned into a Swallowtail that came down on Gula but met the blade of his scythe as he parried the blow and stepped back.
    “It's just like back then! An imitation of the Asgardian Princess barking her commands to her subordinates! But you're weak! You're nothing in comparsion to your ancestor!” Gula snarled as he blocked Peorth's thrust with his weapon and attempted to pierce her flank with his own. “And Lux' vessel is a Bard now? Ha! If she had an ounce of Luxuria's power she could easily have the lot of you wrapped around her finger!”
    Peorth backflipped away from the weapon and did so once more as he took another swing at her. “Companionship is not obtained through control against one's will! Burst Lancer!” She lunged at Gula with a series of rapid stabs which he blocked, despite how precise her blows were. She reeled her weapon back and spun it over her head before slamming it into the ground. Strength welled up in her body in the moments up until that point, and she knew that TJ was improving just by the sound. “Field of Blades!” A magic circle opened up beneath her as Gula backed away and leapt off the mountaintop to avoid the spears that threatened to impale him, along with the Agasura approaching Peorth's companions. As she took her weapon out she considered looking over the cliff, but opted out for standing her ground. A rocket popsicle with Gula's scythe wrapped around the front flew back up to the landing and soared towards the guild master. She dodged to the side and rolled to her feet before sending her focus to the Abellan. “TJ! You must defend yourself!”
    He opened his eyes as his brother rushed toward him and he threw his guitar into the air. He held both hands out and reeled them back as he roared, “Avarita!” The popsicles veered off course and Gula was forced to abandon it as TJ pounded his fists together. “I'll crush you!” He snarled as his eyes flickered to red and he caught the weapon and held it by the neck above him. “Wrath! Demon's Armoury!” A crimson energy surged from around him and gathered to the weapon giving it the shape of a massive mallet. He took a step forward and leapt at his brother before bringing the weapon down upon him with both hands.
    “You can use the other sins too huh?” Gula chuckled under his breath as he held the Abellan back with his scythe, the mallet ever closer to crushing him. “I'd expect no less from Father's protégé. You might have his skills but you lack both his, and Ira's sense for battle!”
    “Ah shit TJ watch it!” Curt shouted while he held back a gummy constrictor.
    TJ turned his head over to catch a glimpse of a boxer bear charging towards him, and the next thing he knew its fist was in his flank and he was flung away as his guitar returned to normal. His body tumbled past the corpses of Agasuras Su felled which quickly put him near the edge of the mountain. Much to his surprise he was stopped by Su as she emerged from the crystal ahead of him and grabbed hold of his arm to hurl him back on while she fell away. Moments later she returned through it and landed before him. “For once can you try not to die?! Shit!” She snarled before she leapt over his head and plunged her dagger into a doughnut.
    “T-thanks.” He said as he rose to his feet and took a breath.
    “There's more incoming!” Amata shouted to him as a fireball soared past his face and into that of another bear's. “Finish the job TJ!”
    He looked to her and nodded. “Brute Force!” He twirled his guitar around once before batting the bear's head off with his guitar.
    “Lend Peorth a hand, we can keep these guys busy!”
    “Got it!” He rushed to her side as she lunged at Gula and followed up with a jumping stab. As he side-stepped the attack TJ stormed in with a straight punch from his left hand and landed the blow. Gula staggered away as Peorth took her place behind him to surround him.
    “Nice one.” He muttered as he wiped his mouth and grinned. With one hand held to TJ and the other to Peorth, two violet wormholes opened and rocket popsicles fired out from both, causing the two to get away from him. “Heh! I'm just getting started!” He slammed his weapon down and another fell from a hole, but unlike the others it did not fly away as it left behind a flaming trail. He caught it by the stick and bit off the tip before hurling it towrds Curt-at that moment, it flew just like the others and met the Treasure Hunter's shield. Moments afterwards the bear he was locked in combat with picked him up and suplexed him.
    “What the hell was that?” TJ asked as he rose to his feet. His eyes shot open as he backed away from Gula who glided across the ground and swung his scythe in a wide arc-the threat of death loomed over the Abellan as he raised his guitar to prevent his head from being decapitated and he offset the blade's arc, causing it to pierce his left arm instead. He let out a cry of pain as he pulled away and ripped the blade from his arm, cutting his hand in the process.
    “Broken Wings!” Peorth shouted as her spear pierced the Sinner's back and she appeared on it before she kicked him to the ground. “Are you alright?” She asked as she twirled the spear above her head and turned on the balls of her heels to deal a finishing blow.
    “I'm okay, it's not too deep.” TJ answered as he smiled bitterly.
    “Good. Focus on recovering-” Peorth leapt back as the Sinner rose to his feet in a dance of blades, the scythe turning around him at an incredible speed, allowing him to rise ever higher but for a few moments. He landed with a mirthless grin.
    “Not bad at all, Princess! But you'll have to do better than that to keep me down.” He snapped his fingers and several wormholes opened where Agasura poured out-a variety of those that had appeared through the dungeon. “Keep 'em busy! I'm gonna make sure I slaughter this Ásvaŕtlim to ensure that the blood runs dry! If you lot don't screw up with the others, it'll just be to put this chump down and take back what rightfully belongs to Luxuria!”
    “As if one or two of those goddamn bears wasn't a pain in the ass!” Su snarled as she stomped the earth and it rose up before her to block a punch. With a kick it slid towards the edge of the landing and collapsed atop the creature after they both fell off. “Keep him busy, and we'll pick these fuckers off. Just don't die. Got it?!” She rushed to TJ's aid and took up a battle stance as he gently strummed his guitar to heal everyone's wounds. “I can keep him alive.”
    “You have my thanks.” Peorth said as she eyed the Sinner amidst the Agasura. “I shall not fall to your hands Gula, but I fancy the declaration. Come! For my allies, I will defeat you!”
    “Will you now?” His crimson eyes flickered as he grinned. “Prove it!”
    “I'm going. If you get caught, scream for help. I'll rescue your ass, as always. Now then...” She hopped on the spot. “Shadow Dive!” She vanished into the shadows and appeared behind one of the bears that approached TJ. She crouched down and placed a hand to its shadow-three crimson spears appeared around her and plunged themselves into it. A few of them turned to f ace her and she grinned. “Sloth! Shadow Envoys!” A series of the creatures appeared before her and leapt towards her targets, pinning the whole group down. She cracked her knuckles as she reeled a fist back and forced it into the bear's back-her hand pierced through and rested in the center where she closed a fist and opened it shortly after so a sphere of dark energy could take form. “Sloth, Evnvy! Hel Vacuum!” She pulled her hand out and withh an open palm forced it into the bear's back once more. “Siphoning Rush!” The strike pushed it forward and as it was placed side-by-side with the others, the sphere expanded and everything within a short radius of it was pulled towards it. “Bring 'em as close as you can Peorth!”
    “If that is what you wish.” The guild master answered as she forced Gula back and lunged at him with another thrust. He jumped back as she spun the spear above her head and slammed it into the ground. “Earth Render!” The earth before her cracked and crumbled, then fell away causing Gula to leap off of it and tumble to his feet in order to avoid falling to his demise.
    “Got any more tricks up your sleeve there Ásvaŕtlim? This is starting to get intresting!” Gula said with a cackle. “Ira would have a field day with you, too bad he's not here!”
    “I need not tricks, nor illusions to battle. Only my tactics, strength, and the comrades who will fight by my side.”
    “Do it bitch!” Su roared as she turned her head to Amata, who was high in the sky with a flame above her hand. Su jumped and dove into the shadows once more.
    “Screw you!” Amata shouted back as she hurled the flame down towards them. “Scorn!” The flame touched down at the bear's feast and burst, unleashing a fiery end upon all those in range, along with Gula. “That do it?”
    “Don't jinx it now.” Curt said as he wrestled another gummy constrictor to the ground and split it in two.
    As the flames and smoke cleared away, amidst a series of melted Agasura and some that were reduced to mere ashes, a lone bear stood, the front half of it charred to a fine crisp, but the back half still intact with Gula crouched down behind it. “Clever girls! But not quite clever enough!” He laughed as he rose to his feet and the bear fell aside.
    Su appeared from his shadow with a spinning slash and met his scythe's haft. “Are you fucking kidding m-” He forced her dagger back and she spun through the air as he hauled the weapon down on her. Moments before it pierced her chest she dissipated and emerged from TJ's crystal. Following the event Peorth took to Gula to occupy him while the God's Governors recovered. “Hell's fuckin' bells.” Su stood at her full height but sweat ran down her brow, and though quiet her breathing had increased.
    “You two alright? The Agasura are cleared out for now, so take a breather. Especially you, Su.” TJ said as he placed his guitar down by his side.
    “That'd probably be a good idea. Using these spells really eats up my mana. Gotta conserve some in case I need to awaken.” Amata said with a dry chuckle.
    The Governor of Earth glared at him. “You dumbass! This is our one chance to get him and you're telling me to get back in there?! Don't be an idiot!” Su hissed as she turned her focus back to Gula. I'm getting back in the fight!” As she rushed back towards Gula Peorth was forced away from him as he spun around rapidly with his weapon, leaving no openings for either to strike.
    Once he landed with a wave of his hands more wormholes opened and Agasura emerged in the dozens. “I've no shortage of mana to keep you losers busy, so keep on fighting a hopeless battle,” Gula said.
    “This is getting really friggin' tedious.” Su said as she clicked her tongue.
    “We gotta restore our stamina when there's a lull in the battle! It's the only way we'll win!” Curt said as he stuffed his face with a constrictor he recently felled.
    “Is now really the time for your goofy shit?!”
    “This is pretty bad. I think I can do another Scorn and then some, but too many and I'll be pushing my limits.” Amata said as she arose from a doubled-over stance.
    “No need, I've got a plan! Su, you can return now!” TJ shouted to her.
    “Another one of your brilliant plans? Whatever...” She muttered before she turned to a series of spheres and disappeared.
    “Chief, let's do it!”
    “As you wish.” Peorth answered as she leapt away and held her spear to the sky.
    He took a deep breath and closed his eyes-when he opened them again they were their usual brown. He rapidly began to strum his guitar as the Agasuras all around them responded in a myriad of roars and snarls before beginning their approach.
    “I'm not just gonna let this happen you know.” Gula said as he rushed toward Peorth and was blocked by a flame.
    “I'm not gonna let you have your way either! You seem to have fond memories of the past, so you'll have some stories to tell your sister when you see her on the other side! Stories of how you were crushed by this generation's Governors!” Amata roared.
    “You? A Governor! You're nothing compared to Rayinth! I'll stomp you into a fine paste!”
    Amata took her place before Peorth who still held her spear to the sky, gathering mana to her. Just by being near her Amata could feel the energy welling up within her, and it seemed to be coming from both TJ, and the sky itself. The more concerning matter was-she was surrounded by Agasura, and especially by the type she hated most. All she had to do was buy them the time they needed to finish the cast-a simple task, and one made easier by a God's Governor. Her skin crawled at the sight of the snakes, but now was not the time. As Gula approached once more she slammed her staff into the ground and flames shot up in a straight line. He leapt back and in that moment she saw an opportunity. She let loose a Fire Burst and as it neared him exploded and forced him back, burning his hands slightly. She had enough time for the spell now. She raised a hand above her head and a flame took form bnefore forming a bright sphere. “Inferno!” Fire streamed from it in four beams and rose in fall in succession. Keeping Peorth and TJ required her to limit it to three whenever it reached them, but despite the lack of she managed to singe and keep the Agasura at bay.
    Through the Abellan's strumming storm clouds gathered and lightning flashed across the skies. His rapid strums came to a slow, and with one final stroke a bolt of thunder rained down upon the guild master and struck her weapon. “Duck Curt, Amata!” He shouted to them as he followed suit.
    Peorth spun her weapon around as the thunder rained down upon it and it fired off in every direction. “Levin Storm!” She shouted as the bolts pierced, wounded and paralyzed any enemies tall enough to be caught in the range of the spell. When the thunder came to a halt, she reversed the direction in which she turned her spear.
    “Everybody jump!” TJ shouted to them as the guild master slammed the spear into the ground.
    “Levin Wave!” A wave of electricity rippled across the ground and electrocuted anything that was privy to the attack, including Gula. Lightning crackled through Peorth's weapon still, and her hair stood on end. “The time to strike back is now, my companions! Eliminate them!” She spun her spear around before slamming it into the ground and impaling any nearby Agasura.
    TJ pounded his fists together and closed his eyes, then opened them moments later. “Frequency!” He placed his guitar down and turned to the Governor of Fire. “I've got an idea for a spell we can do together. Wanna give it a shot?”
    “Though I think your ideas are a little on the crazy side...I'm interested. Enlighten me.” Amata said with a mischievious grin.
    Peorth pulled her weapon from the ground and looked to the Treasure Hunter who tore through Agasura with knives in hand. “Curt you must strike down Gula before he recovers! We do not have much time!” She shouted to him.
    “You got it boss!” Curt ran over corpses and used one of the bears that was torn to pieces by the spears as a stepping stool. He leapt through the air and hurled knives down upon the Sinner, then came down with a winding slice that cut from Gula's shoulder down his torso.
    Moments after he staggered to his feet while Curt followed up the blow with another strike. Gula blocked his dagger with his weapon but hhis strength was failing him-he had one hand to the bloody gash and quickly lost his weapon as Curt lunged forward and bashed the scythe from his hands with his shield. He reeled his dagger back and thrust it toward the Sinner but in that moment he found his weapon not in Gula, but the entrance of another wormhole. As he pulled away from it a bear came charging through with one arm outstretched and knocked Curt to the floor before throwing itself atop him.
    TJ slammed a fist into the ground and created an aperture to which the earth before the two shattered, startling his companions but only causing them to lose ground briefly. He brought them into the sky and held them there. “Hit it Amata!” He said to her.
    “Here goes!” She raised a hand to the sky and a torrent of flames emerged from it, before gathering at the heart of the rocks in the sky. She clenched her fist and it took the form of a sphere before bursting and setting them all aflame. “Let's do it TJ!”
    “Comet!” The two shouted as the shards of earth rained down upon the battlefield, kicking up dirt and fire in their wake.
    Peorth spun her spear around to clear away the smoke and set her sights on Gula. He was wounded and crouched down, but she noticed that the bear that had crushed Curt was caught beneath one of the comets. She could finish Gula, but she could not leave her ally to do so. She ran over to the felled stone and leapt into the air before bringing down her weapon upon it and shattering it in two. “Curt! Can you hear me? Are you alright?” She hauled the bear from his body and cast it aside.
    “Nothing I can't handle Peorth. I'm gonna be real with you though, after getting crushed by both of those I think I'm gonna be laid out for a while...” He muttered weakly as he offered her a grin.
    “I will get you to TJ immediately! Please remain stalwart!”
    As she hauled him over her shoulder he laughed. “No princess carry? Too bad...”
    Both TJ and Amaata were worn out from the last spell and both were doubled over. The Abellan raised his head as he caught a glimpse of Peorth approaching and gasped. “C-Curt?! Hang on I'll patch you up right away!”
    “How are we doing Chief? Is he almost down?” Amata asked as she stood with the aid of her staff.
    “Yes, it seems so. Perhaps while TJ helps Curt to recover, Suuba and I should take the vanguard. I suspect that Gula no longer has the sufficient energy to summon any more Agasura, so we can end this battle.” She explained while she placed Curt down before TJ.
    “That's where you're wrong, Ásvaŕtlim!” Gula shouted as he held out both his hands. To his left, a wormhole opened and a ringer fell out of it and collapsed to the ground. In his right his scythe manifested once more and he used that very weapon to tear a fair chunk from the doughnut. He placed it in his mouth and after eating it, the wounds he had received began to heal instataneously. “If you thought you could kill me with those weak attacks, you're gonna have to reconsider that strategy of yours!” He snapped his fingers and another set of womholes opened releasing more Agasura. He picked up one of the gummy constrictors with his scythe and took a bite of it before hurling it off of the mountain. “Come on, I'm not finished with you lot yet!” He held out a hand and strings emerged from it before shooting towards the group. Peorth sidestepped and TJ blocked some with his guitar, just barely defending himself. The others shot past him and wrapped around the Governor of Fire which incapacitated her.
    She fell to the ground and attempted to wriggle free but could not do so despite her best efforts. “This is bad...TJ, don't worry about me. Just focus on protecting yourself and Curt for the time being, okay?” She requested.
    “I...I've got it.” What were his options? What would be the best course of action? His mind was made-so long as he could protect his allies, that would suffice. He had to trust in Peorth, and believe that she could take on Gula. If what he said was true, he wanted to be the one to take her out without the aid of his minions. So long as that was the case, did that mean he would not summon any others? Or was it just a bluff? “Su, we need your help. I'll protect these guys, with my song so you'll have to fight in my stead.” He began to strum his guitar and erected a barrier large enough to protect both Curt and Amata. He waited a few moments but received no answer from the Governor of Earth. “Su? Are you there?” What had happened to her after she last returned?
    Gula held out a hand and more strings emerged to entrap the guild master, but she quickly dispersed them with Wind Wall and slammed the spear down before the Sinner. He leapt at her and she blocked the blow as he followed up with two spinning strikes. She dodged back to avoid both strikes and found her spear being ripped from her grasp as a series of strings were tied around it. Though he may not have looked the part, he was rather quick with his techniques and used both brute strength and that fact to his advantage. Peorth eyed him cautiously, then pinpointed exactly where his weakness lay. With a sudden jerk she pulled him towards her and kicked him in the stomach, forcing him back and causing him to lose his grip. There was not enough time to impale him with the spear, but she had just enough to lunge towards him and hit him with the end of the shaft. As he reeled away she swung it and knocked him aside, and he tumbled across the landing.
    In that moment she saw another opportunity. “Swallowtail!” She shouted as she hurled the spear and leapt for it into a diving strike. He lifted his face from the ground and held out a hand where another wormhole opened and a rocket popsicle flew out, colliding with the guild master's flank and hurling her aside. She hit the ground hard and skidded to a halt before TJ's barrier startling him and the others.
    “Chief!” He shouted as his eyes darted to a bear stampeding towards her. “Look out!” She staggered to her feet and immediately retaliated with Burst Lancer before it could hit her first, and while she recovered from the stance Gula followed in its wake, tearing a piece from its back and devouring it before raising his scythe to cut her down. “I won't let you!” TJ snarled as his eyes flickered to red and he dropped the guitar to the ground to retaliate.
    “Stay back!” She shouted to him and stopped him in the middle of his charge. She blocked his scythe with her spear and the two were stuck in a deadlock, one that was not in the guild master's favour. “Such incredible strength...from whence...did he get it?”
    “I'll break those scrawny little arms of yours, and then break you, Ásvaŕtlim! This is true strength! The strength that you can only dream of!” At those words he tore the weapon from her hand and reeled a fist back.
    TJ lunged forward but was out of reach, and his crystal began to glow as Su emerged from it, the same crimson flash in her eyes. As Peorth staggered Su touched down and muttered a few words under her breath as she held out a hand and stopped the blow. Gula remained frozen but for a moment, and following it the sound of bones shattering reverberated across the valley as Su's left arm fell limp and with her right she grabbed him by the tank top while she wore a devilish grin-one of both rage, and playfulness. “Asmodeus' Vengeance.” She finally said, finishing her invocation as a dark mana crept out from underneath her. She reeled her head back and slammed her own into Gula's-the force of the blow caused the entire ground below them to tremble and where the two stood, cracks formed. Just as was the case with Su, the sound of bones shattering followed after and she let the Sinner go. She turned away as blood dripped from his nose and his pupils shrunk, the look in his eyes one of sheer disbelief. “Well? What're you idiots waiting for? Finish the job!” At those words she returned to the crystal and the group awoke from their reverie.
    “Leave that to me.” Curt's voice rang out as knives rained down upon the Sinner and soon he fell behind him in a flurry of blades. Curt moved around him with skill and grace, plunging knives into him and cutting through him as he moved- as if he was dancing both arms and legs moved swiftly and gracefully, all while the blades tore through the target. “Death Blossom!” He said as he leapt away from the Sinner and with a wave of his hand, pulled all the knives out and back to him, revealing the strings that were tied to each weapon. At that moment blood shot out from the Sinner like a fountain as he collapsed to the ground and gasped in pain.
    “Y-you...what have you...” He uttered as his body convulsed.
    Curt fell to the ground and started screaming in pain also while Amata scolded him for being so reckless.
    “The battle is over, Gula. You have lost,” Peorth said coolly.
    TJ approached and looked at him with disappointment, and a hint of sadness in his eyes. “Is this really what you wanted Gula? Did this have to be the way it ended? You're the second of the seven we defeated, and if that's any indication it means that chances are, you're all going to have to fall.” He grit his teeth. “I don't get any joy from defeating you! But even so...even so...” He clenched his fists and Peorth placed a hand to his shoulder.
    “You...sentimental...piece of trash! S-sympathizing...with your sworn...enemies? Don't screw with me!” He coughed violently and blood splattered on the boots of the pair. “You wanted this! You...you turned against Father! Against your family...for them! Filthy...Cerebians! And Humans! HUMANS!” He coughed again and wheezed violently, but still insisted on continuing his tirade. “They'll...destroy Midgard. Just you wait! If I couldn't beat you...Ira could. He will...you fake! Kill me...and integrate me...but know...know that those Cerebians...will only betray you!” He gnashed his teeth in fury. “Give us back...Luxuria...you...fake...” His jaw fell slack and he, silent.
    “Fake huh...first that darkness, and now Gula? Just who or what am I? Am I really just some...some puppet?” TJ muttered under his breath. He placed a hand over his left eye and shook his head.
    Peorth stood before him and removed the hand from his face before taking it in both of hers. “What the Sinners have to say is of no concern to you, TJ. They hail from an age long past, where they knew you and I and many others as different people-they come from a time of war, one where they only saw but one path, and pursued it without concern for other possibilities. Their beliefs need not be your own, and what they deem to be truth need not be yours either. In their time, perhaps you were indeed Luxuria. But does that make you any less TJ in this time? I do not believe so. So do not let your precious heart be swayed by cruel words and jests. You are much more than they will ever see you as, and I believe that your friends of the present can see that, as do I.” The guild master explained, her eyes unflinching.
    He placed a hand to hers and closed his eyes. “Chief...maybe you're right. I'll...remember those words. In hearing them I think I've found some solace in all of this...fog.”
    “I am pleased to hear this. Let us proceed with the ritual.”
    He placed his hands to his chest and summoned the pithos, then placed it down next to Gula. “Are you ready Elpis?”
    His neckalace began to glow and from it Elpis emerged before swirling around him and taking her place near the duo. “If it is as you wish, I shall begin Master.” Elpis placed her hands to her chest and began to sing-just as with Avaritia Gula's body obtained an ethereal glow to it and began to dissipate in a series of spheres that rose up to the sky and gathered to TJ's crystal as they came back down. His left eye flickered to gold once more and he caught a glimpse of one of Gula's memories.

    TJ could see figures upon a battlefield, perhaps during the Agasuric War. There were many and more, spells, arrows, weapons and corpses that littered the field, and both Cerebians and Humans on the sky and land fighting against Agasura. Among them, he could even see a group of Cerebians locked in combat with the dragon Invoke. What caught his attention most, was that from the eyes of Gula he could tell the two were not on the field, but looking down upon it from far away-who he was looking at, the Abellan had little idea, but it was the voice of a man that answered.
    A young man with wild untamed hair that obscured a large portion of his face and eyes stood by Gula. TJ could only see his torso and above, but judging by the shape and design, he wore leather armour and wore a proud grin on his face as he spoke the words, “You see all that, Gula? That's ours. This whole world is our oyster! We just gotta reach out and take it! Wrestle it from the grasp of those filthy Humans, and offer it up to our old man. With him on our side, we'll finally be able to have a world of our own, and we can finally say goodbye to the Dark World. You, me, Lux and all the others. Let's not keep Superbia waiting, yeah?”
    He found himself back in the present, accompanied by a familiar searing pain in his eye as the remnants of Gula entered the pithos. “One more Sinner, one more memory...yet so many questions...” TJ lowered his hand and shook his head. “But I'll save them...all of them, somehow.”
    Elpis' song came to an end and she looked down upon TJ. “The ritual is complete. The sealed Saint shall now return.”
    A powerful light streamed from the gem and as it began to die down, another of Peorth's Keruz stood before them. The young boy from TJ's memory in the City of Iron returned, wearing the same clothes as he had then: A long sky blue coat with an orange sash and matching scarf; rolled-up blue jeans and shoes made of bandages. His hair was tied in a ponytail and he had a camellia pin it also. Unlike his past self though, he had white hair and blue eyes.
    Peorth looked on in sheer disbelief. “It was just as you said TJ...Ardoss, you have returned!”
    TJ blinked in disbelief. “That's...Ardoss?” He tilted his head quizzically. “Calling?”
    Ardoss opened his eyes as he squinted at the two. “Princess...and TJ.” He bit down on his lip for a moment before he quickly smiled, albeit in a vain attempt to hide the bitterness within, but it bleeding through nonetheless. “It's just as that person said. We'd meet again, and here I am.” His eyes turned to TJ while the Abellan's met his own. “You know...the last time we met, in that memory. I'd attacked you.” He shook his head. “I shouldn't have, but I let my anger get the better of me. Wasn't very professional of me huh? Still...” He rubbed his arm gently. “You're here now, and with Princess Peorth to boot. I'm sorry for hitting you, and even more so for secretly doubting you. I'm willing to bet I'm not the only one of us who feels this way, but I want to say it before I miss my chance.” He bowed down. “Thank you...for protecting the princess. You did what none of us could do-despite what I'd said, you've proved to be a hero in your own right.”
    TJ clenched his fists. How long had Ardoss kept those feelings bottled up? It had been years since their fall in the City of Iron, and nearly a year since TJ met him in his memory. Had he been agonizing over the matter that whole time? In this moment, he could put those fears to rest-if TJ could help him to find peace of mind, he would be willing. “All of that...it's alright now. You're here now, and the Chief is okay too. In truth, I'm glad you could forgive me after all that happened. Even now I still haven't forgiven myself yet, but I'm doing all that I can to make things right, one way or another. I think I could start by beating the sins at least.” TJ answered as he smiled.
    The Saint cracked a grin at those words. “It's the least you could do, I'd say.” His eyes turned to Peorth and he bowed down once more, a hand to his chest. “It's been some time, your highness, but I'm loyal to the kingdom both in life and death.”
    Peorth nodded gently. “Raise your head, Ardoss. Be you a Cerebian or a Spirit your status will not change the fact that you were a precious comrade of mine,” She chuckled gently, “though even then you still had a taste for formalities. If it is as you wish, I will not scold you for such a decision. But do not mind such small concerns of mine. You may or may not be aware, but TJ has lost many of his memories prior to his awakening some time ago. Would you tell him about yourself?”
    The Mage blinked in surprise. “Oh that's right...your memories got wiped again, didn't they?” He knit his eyebrows. “You've got it pretty rough TJ. Still, if that's what you and the princess want I've got no reason to refuse.” He cleared his throat. “My name's Ardoss, thrteen years old. Or at least I was.” He rolled his eyes. “I was the previous God's Governor of Wind, a Wizard, and the youngest of Peorth's Keruz.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I did a lot of studying but I was always a bit indecisive about what spells I wanted to learn and whether I wanted to practice both the Wind element using SP and Mana. Some days I went without eating because I was so caught up in the books. More often than not...Straw Hat had to force me to eat.” He sniffed. “But that's enough about me. What about you, TJ? Your hair's pink and you've got a snaggletooth now. How did you even manage that?”
    TJ pursed his lips. “What's a snaggletooth?” He asked as he eyed him curiously.
    “TJ, a moment?” Peorth asked as she stepped before him.
    “Hmm?” She reached out to his face and tapped a thumb on one of his teeth.
    “That, is a snaggletooth.”
    He reached up to his mouth and felt the same spot, noticing that one of his teeth was unnaturally sharp, and hanging out from within the upper half of his closed mouth. “What?! When did this...Gula!” He flailed his fists in fury. “Ahh jeez! First my hair and then this? Are they all going to do this?!”
    “Are you saying the Sinners turned your hair pink?” Ardoss asked as he crossed his arms.
    “N-no...that was me. Avaritia gave me a gold streak.”
    “It is no longer present in your hair, TJ,” Peorth answered.
    “R-really? At least it's only temporary.” He sighed. “Leaving that aside there's something more strange and important here isn't there? Your hair and eyes!”
    “This?” Ardoss said as he took hold of his ponytail. “It's not that odd. We could all do it.”
    TJ blinked in disbelief and turned to Peorth who nodded solemnly. “But...Velvet...”
    “That is her normal hair and eye colour, but the fact still stands. All of my Keruz were able to undergo the first step to awakening. In doing so, using the Awakening Techniques was little challenge to them. One could say it is a requirement to becoming one of my Keruz,” She answered calmly.
    TJ's jaw fell. Just what kind of training did they go through to master that before he even knew how? He could hardly do it without Peorth's help. He placed a hand to his face and let out a gentle sigh. “Those guys are really something else. It's no wonder they were named the Saints.”
    Ardoss' eyes opened wider as he rubbed the back of his neck. “That reminds me, I had a message for you. From that weird...person...thing. They'd given me the name Temperantia. If you ever need my help, or need me to stand in and fight, just call me by that name and I'll do what I can, I guess. I've never done this before so...don't expect too much alright?” He rubbed his arm gently. “I feel my bond here weakening. I think I'm almost out of time so...” He took his scarf off and approached TJ before holding it out to him. “Here. It isn't much but I guess this can be a sign of our bond...or something. Might wanna stitch in some dark colours since your whole outfit's black, or something.”
    TJ accepted the scarf and smiled gently. “Thanks Ardoss. You might have doubts but I know you'll be a big help to the team.”
    He knit his eyebrows as he turned around and rubbed his neck again. “Yeah, yeah...you can count on me.” He looked over his shoulder to the incapacitated Amata and Curt. You guys look after these two alright? The world's in your hands now. And TJ...take good care of the princess okay? Just as you have up 'till now.” He grinned as he turned away and raised a hand. “See ya' later.”
    TJ and Peorth waved gently. “Thanks again Ardoss. See you!”
    “It was a pleasure Ardoss. Truly,” Peorth added.
    At those words Ardoss turned into a series of spheres of light that ascended to the sky before entering his crystal-following his disappearance another page from Memorius Sanctum appeared before the group, and gently drifted toward the ground.
    The guild master approached it and picked it up as she muttered, “This is...?” The book appeared before her and flipped open, adding the page just as it had for TJ before. “It is just as you had said, TJ. Now that we have acquired another page of Memorius Sanctum, it would be in our best interest to find out the contents within and learn Ardoss' song prior to the arrival of the next Sinner. I know not when or where they will appear, but it is best if we make haste.” She looked to the sky as the sun peered over the horizon, ushering in a new day. “Nonetheless, allow me a moment to offer you my heartfelt gratitude. To think that I would have an opportunity to meet any of my comrades of the past was something I could not fathom, due to my own selfishness. However, both then, and now, you have indulged me regardless.” She turned to him and beamed. “Thank you TJ. From the bottom of my heart.”
    He beamed right back at her. “Having you aboard was good for me too. So...thanks for tagging along.”
    Amata knit her eyebrows. “You two make an adorable pair and all, but this silly string is seriously chafing. Can you guys set me free and then flirt to your heart's content please?” She asked.
    “Ah! S-sorry Amata!” TJ said as he ran over to help her out.
    “Borrow my knife and carry me out would ya'? I can't move a muscle.” Curt asked with a weak grin.
    Elpis approached TJ while he helped his companions. “Master, you have acquired three new abilities for your Invocation technique. Would you like me to inform you of the details?” She asked.
    He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. Perhaps now was not the time, but if need be he could ask her later. “Mm...not now, but maybe later?”
    She nodded solemnly. “As you wish Master. Should you have need of my services, please summon me once more.” Following that she returned to Pandora's necklace.
    After freeing the Governor of Fire both TJ and Peorth lent Curt a shoulder and made their way towards the pillar of light that appeared nearby.

    “How about we strike a deal?” Vanir asked. “You let me murder that evil doctor, and then, and only then, I'll allow you to eat me with that...hand...maw...thing of yours. Great deal right? I think so too!” The barista stood in an Elias under siege-parts of buildings had crumbled to the ground and the pavement was littered with adventurers both alive and dead. Adjacent to him and a far distance away, an unamused looking Choen Palm stood tall with an adventurer in her grasp.
    Her body was disfigured-the skin on her arms had grown and turned a deep purple and much more muscular than it once was. Her left hand had become a toothed-maw with an adventure caught between the two struggling to break free as he begged for his life. “Why would I agree to such a thing? I take it that it was not just chance you came to find me despite me coming for you Usurper. You wish to die, do you not?”
    “P-please, don't kill me! I don't wanna die! P-pleas-”
    “You annoy me. Can you not see that I have more concerning matters at hand? Die, you roach.” She opened the maw but for a moment to clamp it down on the adventurer, and with one final pained scream his body fell limp and his lifeblood poured out from the jaws and fell to the floor, along with his corpse. “Now, where were we?”
    “That's hella graphic man! I'm not okay with this!” The barista complained. He craned his neck to see behind him. “Any luck yet Little Blue?”
    “I've been trying but I can't reach any of them! They're still within the Indun Vanir!” Kooh cried out in response. Near the beauty parlor was a group of other adventurers who were also wounded by the Heartbreaker-she was crouched down and healing the wounds of those who still lived by a hair's breadth.. “Five dead, seven wounded...this is looking more grim by the second. Is Skuld almost done with those wards? I can't use my powers as long as there are more people about...”
    “I dunno. I'm not psychic, but it'd be pretty awesome if I was.” The Heartbreaker flew at him as her hand transformed into a blade and nearly struck him down-moments before she did he raised his blade and defended himself. “You could at least have the courtesy to say you're gonna attack me! Sucker punches are shameless!”
    She held the blade up and licked the blood of the previous adventurer from it. “I grow tired of your japes, Usurper. To think that Dr. Truong had struggled with a fool such as you is truly a wonder, but it is of little concern to me. A deal is a deal, and I shall hold my end of the bargain. Now die!” Both hands were transformed into blades and she rushed him down in a flurry of strikes.
    He fell back as he blocked the blades instinctively, meeting her her strikes and avoiding those he could not. He backflipped away and she glided towards him as she placed both blades together to split him in two. As he landed on his hands the second time, he fell flat on his stomach as her blades stopped where he was going to be and he scrambled to his feet as he cut her once while retreating and followed up with a second while she turned to meet him.
    “You know, without Skuld I'm about as harmless as a lamb. Just as harmless, but twice as adorable!” He said as he pointed both blade and a finger at the Heartbreaker. He even winked for good measure.
    “Skuld is quite a patient girl, isn't she?” Kooh asked as she looked on in disbelief.
    “I tire of your tomfoolery! I will bleed you and the God's Governor. Now enough of your games!” Choen Palm snarled as she transformed one of her hands into a massive claw.
    The sounds of cries, those of adventurers who wished to join the fray approached and Vanir frowned. “You know, it's all fun and games until she breaks my bones and murders me. Those guys better hurry! I'm too young and beautiful to die here!” He added as he stroked his ponytail.
    “Believe in them Vanir. They'll come, I know they will. The Princess would never let us down.” Kooh said as she watched the battle unfold nervously. As it stood, she could not protect the adventurers, Vanir, and her identity. What would Peorth do if she were in her shoes?

    The group found themselves back in Cookie Garden, and Amata backed away nervously as the gate to the Instance Dungeon crumbled and collapsed upon itself.
    “Phew...it's finally over.” She sighed with relief. “I can't wait to get back to home and take a nice shower!”
    “That was one hell of an adventure. Now that it's over I'll probably be bed-ridden for the next few days. Guess Robo's gonna have his work cut out for him,” Curt chuckled.
    “I am thankful that we have returned safely. Thank you for all of your hard work everyone. You have done a great service for both the Cerebians, and all of Jienda these past few days.”
    “It's my pleasure Peorth.” The God's Governor answered with a blushing smile.
    “You know I love me a good adventure. If another Sinner pops up just gimme a call and I'll dive into the depths of Ktuka to fight 'em!” The Treasure Hunter said enthusiastically with a grin.
    “TJ, it would be best if we took them home, since we both carry a warp crystal on our persons. I shall see Amata to safety, so would you take Curt?” The guild master requested.
    “Leave it to me,” TJ answered.
    Amata knit her eyebrows. “You don't have to take me all the way home Peorth. Just to Ves is fine. My guild owns a hall there that we can use as a place to stay if we're far from home,” She explained.
    “Is that so? If that is what you wish, then I shall oblige,” Peorth responded.
    “What will you do after Chief?” The Abellan asked curiously.
    “I shall return home.”
    “No way! You can't go back there now! It's way too dangerous!” He knit his eyebrows. “I know you're our guild master and you can handle yourself but I can't put you in harm's way like that.” Did he really have the courage to ask? He shook his head rapidly and steeled his resolve. Peorth's well being came before his fear of saying and doing something out of line-he had promised his friends he would protect her, and even more so could not stand to see her harmed...or worse. “You...you should come over. I mean stay over! A-at my place. Elias isn't safe you know...and there's enough room. I-I'll cook and clean and provide clothes and everything!” His face felt hot, he was sweating profusely and he was not even sure of what he wanted to say. “So don't go home tonight! Come with me! I mean t-to me...no wait not...umm...you know...”
    “I think she gets the gist of it TJ. Better to stop there before you blurt out something you don't wanna say.” Amata said with a chuckle.
    The guild master looked surprised. “Are you concerned? If it gives you peace of mind, then perhaps I shall take you up on that offer TJ.” She smiled.
    “Before we leave though,” Amata began, “I just wanted to say thanks. For having me along and stuff. Though our time together was a little short, I feel like I've experienced a lifetime's worth of things in that short while. If you're ever in need of an extra God's Governor, you mail me okay? Those Sinners are tough opponents, so having a reliable companion among your contacts will be a good idea.” She grinned. “But in turn, when the time comes for me to go to Rayinth's Temple, I hope you'll come along too TJ.”
    “You can count on me.” He answered as he saluted her.
    “Pssh, isn't that obvious? See you later.”
    “We shall meet again briefly, TJ.” Peorth added as she drew her warp crystal. The two vanished as she waved gently.
    “Where are you off to Curt?” TJ asked when it was just the two again.
    “Well since Elias is pretty much a deathtrap, leaving aside the fact that everyone's on guard, you wanna take me home with you? I'd completely forgot Robo was dispatched. Just throw me down on your couch, I won't get in your way, so take all the time you need with Peorth.” He grinned impishly.
    Get in his way? How? “Sure. Hang on tight.”

    Though it was daytime in the Instance Dungeon, it was nightime in Belos, and the streets were dark and barren. TJ with Curt over his shoulders made his way up towards his home and opened the door before taking off his shoes. He brought Curt over to the couch and eased him into it carefully.
    “Thanks dude.” He removed his glasses and let out a sigh of relief.
    “Get some rest. You worked hard in there,” TJ replied.
    “Yeah, you too. See you in the morning.”
    TJ made his way upstairs and into one of the rooms before sitting down on the bed. “Hey Su,” He began.
    “Whaddya want?” She asked from within the crystal.
    “Will you come out?” She emerged from the crystal looking angry, per usual. He glanced at her arm and rummaged through his rucksack before drawing bandages. He patted the spot next to him and she furrowed her brows.
    “Do you really expect me to do that? Are you stupid or something?”
    He knit his eyebrows. “You're hurt. You don't have to hide it anymore.”
    “This? This ain't shit. And who said I was hiding it? Who the hell am I supposed to hide from? You?”
    He raised his eyebrows. “Regardless of the reason, at least let me help you.” She sighed and rolled her eyes before sitting next to him.
    “Fine. Do your worst.”
    He unravelled the bandages and carefully began to wrap them around her broken arm. She winced every now and again, but whenever he stopped to check if it was too much to bear she would look away. “Are you alright? Just tell me if it hurts.”
    “I'm fine, so get it over with already. You're damn slow.”
    He wrapped up to her shoulder to be safe, then nodded proudly at his handiwork. “That should do it. Should be good as new soon!”
    She sighed. “You really suck at this, you know.”
    He laughed at those words. “Yeah I do! But I'm willing to work hard if it makes things easdier for you.” He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before rising to his feet. “Release, Memorius Sanctum!” The tome appeared before him and flicked open as his hair turned white and his eyes blue.
    “The hell're you doing, idiot?!” Su cried out as she held her hand before her face to block out the wind.
    The tome faded away and he sat back down before picking up his guitar. “When I use my 'Calling' ability...I feel stronger. I feel a bit closer to my past self, and the memories I had then. Like this, I might be able to ease your pain, if even just a little bit more...” He gently strummed his guitar as he hummed a gentle tune. Su sighed as she leaned against the bed frame and listened to the song.
    After a short while there was a knock at the door and TJ woke from the reverie of his song. “That must be the Chief. Make sure to get some proper rest so your arm heals, okay?”
    “Yeah, yeah thanks Mom.” Su muttered before she returned to the crystal.
    The Abellan hurried down the stairs and opened the door to meet with the guild master.
    “Forgive my lateness. I hope I did not keep you waiting,” She said.
    He smiled. “Nah, not at all. C-come in!” He still had trouble believing this was a house that was for him, and the sensation of having visitors almost overwhelmed him with excitement. Even more so considering that his visitor was Peorth herself.
    “Did something happen? I sensed a great power coming from this location recently.”
    “Eh? Oh no...nothing happened.”
    She nodded. “I see. It is of no concern then. How are you feeling TJ? Are you tired?”
    His heart was beating so fast he was anything but. “N-no I'm wide awake. Surprisingly! Why do you ask.”
    Her face flushed slightly as she brushed her bangs behind her ear. “I...had felt the same way. Since we are both awake, would you like to review what we have acquired from the most recent Instance Dungeon?”
    He beamed. “Sure Chief. I'd love to!”
    The two sat down at the table and the guild master called forth her family heirloom. She turned the pages to the most recent one and looked to him. “Are you prepared TJ?” He nodded solemnly. “Then I shall begin reading.” Peorth began reading from the page and as she did, TJ's conscious self was taken back to another time and another memory of someone he knew not.
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Wed Sep 09, 2015 5:21 pm

    It's the eyebrows that really sell it:
    So a barista, a medium, and a human-turned-demon walk into a bar. Disaster ensues.
    Let's get down to it then!

    It's been a while, trust me I know. But I've actually been working while I wasn't blogging! That is, in fact, the end of the chapter. Finally! This one did take a long time, but in spite of the time it took I feel like a lot was gained-both character wise, and in terms of my own skill as a writer. Second dungeon, and it wasn't half bad if I do say so myself! All the Agasura in here were my own creations, as were the places and the trials that accompanied them. It was challenging, but I feel that I've taken a step forward in writing it-the only problem I currently see with it, is the length of the chapter was a tad long, but in another sense, it doesn't have to...
    Before I go on a rant, I'm gonna stop myself. Since this IS just a review for these 20 pages, I'll leave that thought there. I'll talk about the Indun and a bunch of other things when I get to the chapter overview. I'll be breaking up this chapter into two, respectively named Brave Step and The Heartbreaker(Pheonix) Rises. The Seventh Harmony officially starts on Page 202! The quote for it is "Heroes don't do. They just...are. What does that mean? Ha! I'll tell you when you're older." (Axle)
    ...I'm running out of characters for quotes. We've got a crisis on our hands.

    Now then on to the story! Assuming that you've already read it, Levin Storm/Wave was something I'd been throwing around as a concept for a while. Originally there was no Storm, but I thought back to Peorth's fight with TJ in Freq and figured it would be a nice homage, and also a handy skill for future use. Now the reason that the two are required to perform the technique, is one, Peorth can't summon thunder like TJ does. Her techniques use her as  a focal point for it, or she converts her own mana(zea...did I mention that in Frequency? It's been too long...but if I didn't, it's mana converted into an energy utilized for stances) into it and can emit it from her body, but not much else other than that. Hence how she was able to use Mjolnir. She's got some ridiculous constitution, and that uncanny ability of hers is what scored her the nickname Electric Princess Peorth. In truth, I love how her hair stands on end every time. One of these days she might just winding up leaving it like that. But anyway, I'm really glad how it turned out. In the future I'd like to do more collabs between comrades, but they'll likely have longer periods between when they can be conceived and mastered. There's a whole host of options when it comes to Su and TJ that I could put together in the future, but I think it's something that develops better as the two become closer.

    Another thing I tried experimenting with here was the environment. There's a lot to say about that, but later! Yes, later. Here was the rockslides. I'd considered the possibility that it was Gula's work but I decided to say to hell with it. Forever ambiguous. Just the way I like it. Though it's a pretty good thing! Might work with those some more later, depending on the type of Indun. The next one in the list might not have any like that, but it'll have some other interesting and new features! On that note, I've already decided who, where, and when that'll be. Gonna be a bit before then but there's ideas in the works.

    On another note, after all is said and done, I think the group really came together close to the end. Their formation improved, they fought a lot less, and their teamwork during combat had improved substantially. One thing I have to be wary of though, is despite the fact that indeed happened, it won't always be the case since the team dynamic will vary. Let's say we swapped out Peorth and put in Axle-if Peorth was to serve as the group's mediator and leader, the lack of her presence would mean that position would be filled by someone else-the next likely person to be team leader would be TJ. As it currently stands, he doesn't have the confidence to be leader, so their formation would be lacking, which could potentially lead to another PC. It was a miracle that group survived, but though they didn't have a leader they DID have Robo to act as a mediator, and TJ did some himself so it worked out. Once I start adding new characters to the team or changing up the regulars, I need to be sure to keep in mind who's going and exactly what kind of personalities they have, along with their fighting styles. If they clash, they could serve as both a bane and a boon to the team.Then there'll be the interesting little quirks like Curt throughout the Gourmet's Valley.

    I suppose another big(mainly for me) concern is working with the character's qualities. I know it should be something basic for a writer, but despite doing this for so many years well...I guess it was something I never worked with enough. I've certainly improved, but there's room for so much more growth. I feel that if I'm reckless and let myself become complacent with it, I'll stagnate and when the time comes for me to move to the next stage in my career arrives, my skills will be lackluster at best. In the coming chapters, I want to broaden my horizons-working within a character's fears, concerns, strengths and weaknesses, every aspect of them, but develop them further so everyone feels a bit more unique. At times they do show, but it's mainly concern for their companions. It's not unreasonable really, such a thing that is, but with such a wide array of characters within the story I feel like I can do so much more with them. It's just that I haven't dove deep enough into the character's psyche to really come to terms with exactly what they could be. TJ's case is one of the better ones since he is the main character. For the others, that's where the challenge lays. Alike to how I couldn't focus too much on Amata during USSR, very rarely will I follow another character's perspective. Thing is though, I don't want to rely on that alone to develop them further. Instead, the situation may call for them to act and respond-just as how Amata was faced with her fears and struggled to overcome them, there will be other moments where characters will have to make tough decisions. Fight their fears? Or risk something much more? Su is one that handled such a situation well in this chapter. When Peorth was in danger she took on Gula punch-for-punch, and broke her arm in the process, but struck a decisive blow on the Sinner so that Curt could finish the job. Like a certain Treasure Hunter. That one wasn't an homage though-just kinda happened.

    Now on to something a little less serious, the blood feud between Su and Peorth continues and it's just magnificent. Su can't stand the guild master but she comes to her aid twice in the mountains. I suppose you could call it a headcanon for now, but I see her dislike of the guild master one that is not so one-dimensional. There are a myriad of reasons one could say why she has a dislike for her. For example, she hates blue bloods, doesn't like Peorth's way of doing battle, and they both share a potential love interest. (So many flags raised!) Though discreet, Peorth actually made a declaration of war earlier when she said “It is a decision I believe that she must make herself. When she is prepared, the time will come. Until then, we must consciously choose to move forward. The time we have is not something we can afford to take for granted. I will not hesitate either.” It's only a portion of that, but it's there. Again, chances are I couldn't write a good romance for the life of me, but if I'm gonna do it it's either go big or go home! Or crash and burn miserably...probably. But hell, damned if you do and damned if you don't. I don't even know who's raising the flags anymore. They should all just get married and call it a truce. Kooh's got the right of it, I say. Back on topic though, despite her dislike of the guild master, Su isn't willing to let her be killed. I haven't decided on the EXACT reason for that, because they're all really good choices! On one hand she could keep her alive because she knows how important Peorth is and that she's necessary to defeating Asmodeus(Vanir style), or because TJ cares about her too and she'd hate to see him agonize over her passing. I mean, she knew about how he mourned over his friends of the past and present. It's such a shame that she comes off way worse than she is, but that's just how she is. A lot of the things she knows and thinks about remain locked up in her heart, and she masks it before they could surface. A travesty, that.
    Addendum: The Luigi death stare in wolf-form was fantastic!

    On the topic of TJ, ugh you don't even KNOW how much angsting he can do. I'm gonna have a great time with him later. This chapter is building on the foundations of the CoI arc. You might not remember, but Adonis had actually mentioned it back then, that TJ was nothing more than a mere persona. Since TJ was unconscious because Adonis was, he couldn't remember any of what had happened. The others are well aware of that fact though, so it's news to him. When I think of things like that, I really feel bad for him. He gets it the worst, all of the time and it just keeps coming in waves. Now Choen Palm's back and he has to face another one of his fears. Poor kid can't catch a break. An important thing about the scene in the cave with him and Curt, is that TJ doesn't know about his transformation ability. He knows about the TotM transformation, and that he can shape-shift permanently the more he uses the Chaos Frequency, but he doesn't know about the rest-especially about the hunts. Disaster lurks just around the corner, and like a fine wine, it takes time. As he gains control of his power, he can use it consciously. It's gonna get fun!

    If there comes day where I have some burst of creativity, maybe I'd write something for that time-about Leigha and her Saints. Though that'd have to be after the Sinners arc in Freq lol. The Saints don't use ordinary weapons-that and I'd have to at least have a rough outline of where they were, who was there and what the hell exactly went on during that war. I'd also have to have a mental map of ancient Jienda. I shudder at the thought of it. Fun concept though! Still, there will be more on those two-definitely. I might not cover as much of their story as I will Amae and Kera's during GAL, but you'll definitely see at least one of them again since they have an important part to play in TJ's story. Gotta admit though, the moment after he awoke from the memory I felt bad for the Chief. That single moment where she looked heartbroken ended so quickly because she masked what she was feeling so that it didn't show for long. Those two have it pretty rough-even though that wasn't her, the image the two shared still left him rattled, and he pulled away.
    On the topic of that though, one of the reasons I decided to make Leigha look like Peorth was because...hmm...well, in a sense I suppose you could say it was to accompany the comparison between TJ and Kera. I can't say too much on that case since it's a spoiler, but as the first who lead Amae's cause, and the final link in the chain who could bring an end to the war, it seemed like a pretty fitting commemoration between the two. Though impossible, I would love for the two of the past to meet at some point(despite the fact I write it, I don't have any plans for one such event). I'd totally ship it though! I mean, it would totally throw the world out of balance because Leigha wouldn't have anyone to continue her line, but they'd make a hella cute couple!

    Just a bit more to say! +1 Saint and Ardoss' Scarf of Asskicking get! I was thinking of having TJ's teeth take up an appearance like Gula's, but when I pictured it I just noped out. It wasn't gonna fly. That matter aside, since he integrates them I want him to gain a portion of their features, but not the defining trait, or he'd...turn out too weird. Same as when I considered him keeping all of his appearance changes. It's a bit too much, I'd say. As for Ardoss, initially he came off a bit heavy-handed, but given the situations you can see why. I wanted to round him out a bit more so I made him an awkward teen. He was always a teen, I just made him more awkward-maybe a little too much. I'll probably edit it later on so it's not so over-bearing, but I think it fits the image somewhat, so I'll run with the concept for now.

    And finally we see the return of Choen Palm! She works fast eh? Lead to the unusual team-up of Kooh and Vanir, along with a bunch of adventurers lol. I'm still debating on whether or not it should've been more graphic...because it IS Choen Palm, and I think it would help with her new image. I have to think about how I wanna handle that scene some more and make edits later-either that or save it for the next chapter, since it'll continue then. As for the others, Vanir is being Vanir lol. If you've read USSR or Inno, you oribably already realized that he's more eccentric than he looks. Note that despite there being people killed around him, it's the least of his concerns. He's a character with a very deep psyche filled with a myriad of quirks, and due to that the mystery that he carries with him runs deep too. Knowing him, if they can't change fate, they're not likely worth concerning himself over. It sounds worse than it really is, but he's a character. Kooh despite not knowing the adventurers won't let them die-an interesting contrast between the two, considering that she was raised as an assassin. There's a heart of gold in there somewhere. You've just gotta sift through all the blood and guts to find it.

    Anyway, the day's getting on and I think I'm making less and less sense by the minute. For next time? Hopefully I'll return sometime in the near future and do a chapter overview. If not, there's a good chance I'm either slacking off, drafting storyboards or actually being productive...with my own life. You know, school. It started. And I'm in it, sadly. The NEET life did not choose me. Still, as promised there's gonna be two new chapters for both GAL and TAD so I can fix my mistakes, and then Sanc will continue with chapter 8. The third Sinner won't have a new GAL/TAD since the first one will replace it FYI!
    On another note, once those are finished I can actually go back, edit the previous chapters and post them on FF. Finally. As for USSR, I might edit it on and off during my breaks between classes. It's just...carrying around that laptop suuuuucks. I stuck it in my schoolbag and ughghgh. Well that's enough of my complaints for one night. Until next time!
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    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sun Sep 13, 2015 6:53 pm

    I know this is a bit contradictory about what I'm about to talk about but...well, hopefully it's the last time I need to do it. That is, hoping I'm on the right track for once. I'll try and keep this short.

    I've come to realize that Sanc has some mistakes-perhaps spelling and grammar, but that's not the concern. The real concern here is the form the story has of late, and how I've been using this site and writing on it.
    Lemme address the first. I've come to understand that the way the plot plays out might be...out of order. Disorganized. Put simply, bad. Due to that fact I'm not happy with it at all, and this frustrates me to no end. It needs to be fixed, and I'm hard-pressed to leave it as is, but to edit it properly I need to mull it over and decide where I want to move certain parts, and what I need to change in its entirety. I'm not happy with how it is now, and if there's glaring faults with the plot the whole thing will come crashing down. I'd promised myself I wouldn't do it half-heartedly, and if it comes off as such I can't leave it be. For the time being, I'm gonna halt the storyboarding and see if I can fix the recent chapter, and how.
    The other matter is how I've been using the forum-in a sense, I've treated it more as a blog, which in this case could be considered...bad. It's not fitting for one of my standing. I'd be lying if I said I didn't understand my position, but there's no lie in the fact that I can't quite fathom it yet. On one hand, I see it as a place to share my findings and discoveries as I seek to improve. The problem is, that makes it more personal-a little too much. That's...not gonna fly. Not here-not for this. At times what I say can be a little too opinion-based and it shouldn't be. I should be more objective if I've come for that purpose, and keep it separate from my life and what it pertains. Less about me, more about the story. Period.
    There's one concern I have there though-some believe that a writer puts a part of themselves in their characters. Their experiences, memories and thoughts can become the basis for various things in the story. This is something I believe too, and yet...I can't quite share all of those things. I find myself conflicted between writing something 'true' to me and what would fit the story. I suppose I find myself struggling between what 'feels' right and what I 'believe' to be right and because of that my work suffers. I can't bring myself to move forward with the way things are now. It becomes an unbreakable loop.

    Nevertheless, the point still stands that times call for change. The way I manage things will change, hopefully for the better. I'm gonna take some time away from here to gather my bearings and ponder this some more, and with that in mind I should be able to come to an answer. Maybe after all, I'm wrong about this, but if necessary I can't keep running away from what should be and what is.

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    Re: Sanctuary

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