Sanctuary

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    TJ

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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Wed Sep 30, 2015 8:17 pm

    Tldr? I'm retiring.
    If you want some semblance of an explanation(it's me though so don't expect much) I'll write something here.
    Like Two ships passing in the night:
    Long time ago I made a promise of sorts, to someone. It was my saving grace, and the reason I ever bothered to change myself. It's why I'm here now, but...well, time changes things. Changes people. And sometimes bonds aren't strong enough to withstand the test of time. As you've probably deduced by now, things didn't hold out.

    I wouldn't say that was the only reason I've chosen this path, but it does have it's share of the story. Promises are, after all, made to be broken aren't they? It was nothing more than something between kids anyway. Nevertheless, it still meant a lot, and was forgotten, though not broken. Since there's no longer a need to uphold it, and as I had always suspected so much has changed that I too, need to change also...but in a different way.
    Now that the promise is broken, I've nothing that binds me, not a person nor a reason to remain loyal to anyone or anything but my own devices. As you'd expect, too much betrayal and loss can father distrust, and the more that is furthered the worse the end result. The young fool that I was, I'd taken it all on my shoulders and insisted that I'd sort it out-either that, or it would work itself out. I was wrong. Now that it's finally become too much to bear, I need to away. Deep into the darkest depths of my psyche so that I can turn back the time through my memories-in doing so, I can change myself again, and recall the misanthropic nihilist I was years ago as one last resort, before things take a turn for the worst. In doing so though, I can't write any longer, whether I want to or not. After all, my spirit and creativity are inextricably linked. If the former is broken, the latter falters and brings the process to a permanent halt. There are more complications of course, but I'll spare you that much at least.

    From here on, I'm gonna take the first few steps to eventually reach a cautious but safe state of apathy. In doing so...I feel that I can face forward again while I try to bring my spirit back into balance. In that regard, it's gonna take time. Days, months, years, I've not the foggiest. What do you do now? I wish I could tell you but...there's not much to say. I wouldn't say the world needs to change for one man-that's a bit too much.
    But what I would like to ask, is that you at least save your breath-my mind is set. It sounds cruel I know, but it's for the best after all. I...need to come to terms with who I am and what I've faced, before I can face forward again, because there's a lot wrong in it, but I've just...ignored it because I just assumed that nothing could hurt me, so long as my methods could bear the brunt of it all. If you need of me, then do what you need to, but the words would likely fall on deaf ears.
    I don't choose this path out of revenge, but there is so much that can be learned by looking within, rather than without. Urgh...I'm gonna be real here, there isn't much I can say without sounding extremely pretentious or just plain out of my league but I don't know how else to explain all of this. I'm in over my head too.

    How do I put this...the past years we've struggled together on this journey, of some sort to understand the symbolic and esoteric meanings of all the things around us. The world I never saw, despite being a part of...but in doing so, I've been letting my hold on reality slip away and it broke me. So I have to ask this of you-look deep into my memories, into the mirror of my soul and see for yourself the world as I saw it, and will continue to from this day forth. There are a variety of complications, and perhaps what I'm asking for is the impossible, but if it is, I want you to understand all of it. As it stands, there's nothing more that I can teach you. I'm going to return to being,,,a regular guy-or as close to regular as I can be in some last-ditch attempt to avoid becoming a monster...enticing as that might be at this juncture.
    If you're out of options and feel you've made no progress, there's one last option you can try. Find someone-someone who fears not darkness nor the unknown and send them to wake me. Or perhaps just fear itself. I don't know what it is about me, but I just happen to be a repellant to sentient beings so...my expectations aren't high. To think that there was one at any point in time was impressive, but...well, there's no denying that it was something that could never be. Just like me.

    Always said I'd break the habit of writing long spiels, especially about myself but if there was an easier and effective way I'd like to know. If you still feel confused, then just look to any of the things I've written and posted here, Perhaps they could get my message across better, among the many within. For the time being, I'll go forward. In the meantime, it'd be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the lovers arcana and perhaps the symbolism of the cicada. Haha guess you can call that your homework.

    Well, I've said my piece. It's time I get back to doing what I do best-not a thing. Bye!
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    TJ

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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sat Nov 28, 2015 3:04 pm

    I'm back. I know I said I wouldn't be but...well, to do so would be in denial of who I am. Where do I even begin?
    Well let's just say I'm here to chew bubblegum and tell bad jokes. And I'm all out of bubblegum. Time to get down to it!

    Riddles, Answers, etc.:
    Sep. 30 I asked you to look into the symbolism of two things-1, the lovers Arcana and 2, the cicada. I suppose in a sense you could the true meaning behind it was hidden. The former, the arcana was what would confuse. Typically one would assume it would be about lovers, and it is! But the situation I wanted you to consider would be what would happen if you were to reverse the card. Essentially, it could be looked at both ways, but for this case it was focused on that. When the card is reversed, it warns of separation. Given the situation, it was fitting no?
    What of the cicada then? Why would I mention that? Two reasons-the cicada's song is one they sing of love. Secondly they choose when to be born-I had made a decision to go because of the given circumstances. Have they improved? No not really.
    But even so...there were some who understood what the point I made was, and though few, their words have reached me. In seeing that, I knew neither my words nor my efforts fell on deaf ears. It may seem like a small matter, but it's one of great importance. I won't always be here to do this, or even to continue writing. Just like any other human being, I have a limited lifespan, struggle to get through life and face hardships. Sooner or later, they'll likely overwhelm me. But knowing that, I plan to follow this path as far as it can take me so long as I know that there's meaning in my journey.
    What would happen if the fool chose practicality over the path he was destined to take? I wondered that too, and often at that. I still do.

    So in a nutshell, I'll return here for a time. I dunno how long, but I'll come by every now and again. Both for those who understand what my writing means and wish to know more and those who...don't and happen to drive me up a wall. I'm VERY particular about my writing. I won't get on that topic now but...you'll know. Anyway, I'll continue where I left off, wrapping up the last chapter.
    I won't do the overview YET because the more recent chapters have raised all sorts of conflicts and if I don't address them soon I'm gonna get frustrated.

    ...It's been a while so bear with me here. Life's no walk in the park.


    Last edited by TJ on Wed Dec 02, 2015 4:57 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    TJ

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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sat Nov 28, 2015 3:06 pm

    GAL Chapter 1(Pages 288-298):
    God Ah's Larghissimo: Act I-Caritas
    Everything was dark-the world felt far away, and the sounds within it even further. Just where was TJ, and what was he seeing? Peorth and Kooh had vanished, as did the guild room, and he had not the foggiest what was occurring, and as if in response to his soul-searching a bright flash of light brought him an answer. As his vision returned he found himself in the body of another person, and another place.  That which he knew of the book was extremely limited-supposedly it contained memories of his past and future, but the places he had saw before him were nothing that he could recall. Was it truly his memory?
    The sound of the ragged breathing of a young lady brought his reverie to an end as through her eyes he could see a gentle blue light descending from the sky. Her focus turned back to where she was headed, and from all around he could see what seemed to be something akin to a giant temple or some such place-perhaps as big as if not bigger than the entire city of Elias. To make things even stranger, it was an island in the middle of the sea, and she seemed to be frantically ascending it! Across grass-covered walkways and up a series of ladders, the young lady moved ever higher towards the pinnacle of the island, eventually reaching one last ladder with a sign and an arrow pointing upwards that read 'To Xenadia's Holy Place'. Swallowing hard and taking a deep breath, she carefully made her way up the ladder to the top.
    After climbing up a few short landings the young lady found herself before a tall tree that gave off an olive green aura-spheres of light fell from it silently. The entire place gave off an ambience that seemed to be similar to that of the Divine, and it was so far from everything else it was filled with a calming silence. Here it felt as if Humanity was closest to the gods. Like the guild room in Elias it was just the place that the two would be able to communicate. She knelt down before the tree and clasped her hands together as the blue wisp submerged itself in the tree-with a flash of light the tree changed from green to a snow white with a blue aura and spheres of the same colour falling from the branches and leaves.
    “Thank you for gracing Xenadia with your presence, Lady Amae.” The young lady said as she knelt down before the tree.
    “I am glad to see you in good health Seres.” A voice as gentle as a breeze and that almost seemed to borderline song spoke-leaving him in a faint daze. Though the young lady looked upon an enchanted tree, the feeling it gave off was divine in and of itself-so much so that TJ questioned exactly what it was, or rather who had inhabited the tree. It gave off the same feeling he did with the Order Frequency, along with the guild master-but much greater than he could. It dwarfed his very being, and left him in awe. “Please inform me on the current status of the war effort.”
    “Our efforts to combat Agasura King Asmodeus' army are progressing steadily,” Seres explained to the goddess. The young lady remained knelt down before the mystical light of the tree at Xenadia's Holy Place. “To the day we still have acolytes that are making their way across Jienda in order to spread the word of your teachings, Lady Amae.”
    “You have my thanks, Messenger. I pray that their preparations are at a stage in which they can challenge him on even footing. If the current standing of the world is any indication, the time where Asmodeus will strike draws nearer by the day,” Amae answered. TJ felt a pang in his chest at her words. “I know not what creations he plans to bring from the Dark World, but I can feel their corrupting influence even here. I can assure you, Humanity will not fight this battle alone, but I must insist that you do not neglect your practice. I cannot assure that we can both defeat our adversaries and protect Humanity from them.”
    “To know that you would lend us your aid even though we are underserving of it is wonderful news, my lady. I shall urge all of Xenadia forward as best I can. But there is something else that has become a greater concern of late my Lady.” Seres knit her eyebrows as her eyes shuttered.
    “Please, share your burdens with me.”
    She raised her head. “One of our messengers had informed that a faction that hails from the city of Atlantis has started a revolution against us-against our cause as a whole. They have completely rejected your teachings and have been spreading a creation of their own. Something that turns normal humans into ability-wielders, I believe they were named. Their presence was once harmless, but of late there have been reports the mana levels across Jienda have been dropping steadily while the number of ability users have been increasing.” The messenger dug her fingers into the dirt as she bit her lip. “Even more so, many of your followers have lost their faith in you and sought ways to become ability-wielders. Our presence amidst the people is fading, and at such a crucial hour.” She lowers her head. “Forgive me for my failings.”
    “You need not apologize Messenger. You have done all that you can for this cause and your efforts have borne fruit. I ask that you pay little heed to this and continue to see your mission through as you have up to this point.”
    “I will not fail you, Lady Amae.”
    “I place my faith in you Messenger. Alas, I must go, but I pray that we shall meet again before we must challenge Asmodeus. Until then, I wish you well.”
    “Thank you, Lady Amae.” Seres bowed once more as the mystical blue faded from the tree and it returned to its natural colour.

    TJ's consciouness seperated from Seres and seemed to enter that of the sphere of light as it ascended to the sky. He knew little of the inner workings of Memorius Sanctum, but it seemed to not only chronicle his memories, but the events, emotions and experiences of others that he did not know. Just who were Amae and Seres, and why did Memorius Sanctum chronicle their memories? If their talk was any indication, it must have been during the time of the Agasuric War, but according to Peorth that was around the time of her ancestors. Was it possible that the heirloom explored the memories of someone from her lineage?
    The sphere of light that was Amae rose skyward before coming to a brief halt high above the clouds. Amae was not unaware of the rapid rise in technology from the city of Atlantis-at one point they had considered how they could utilize it to do battle with the Agasura, but after a myriad of casualties they had changed tactics. All by the hands of one man, a new breed of Humans started cropping up with a series of abilities that were oddly akin to the Magus and Warriors who had mastered the technique that she had attempted to pass on to Humanity as a whole. Those who had learned it were far and few between-it was no small feat for anyone to do such a thing, but with such difficulty came great responsibility. Those who learned the art tapped into a power that was only available to the gods, and those who followed in Amae's wake-in other words, the Cerebians. Angelic creatures born for the sole purpose of putting a stop to Asmodeus, and protecting Humanity from his onslaught. In her absence, she had seven of them scattered across Jienda to monitor the going-ons.
    Though unlike God Ah, she was neither omniscient nor omnipotent, but prior to Asmodeus taking the first step in initiating Ragnarok ahead of its time, she could easily look over Midgard. By his influence the world was put under a perpetual night and has since remained as such-his minions had grown stronger since, and Humanity had remained locked in battle with them for months. Asmodeus himself had gone into self-exile to one of the other worlds to make his final preparations, after declaring his intentions to God Ah and Amae herself. The goddess sighed gently. It was his duty, but not his time-despite her best efforts, she could not stop him, and that left her only one option: to defeat him on the field of battle and put a stop to the war...but at what cost?
    She turned her focus in the direction of Atlantis and in a matter of moments shot towards it at incredible speeds. Though there were seven Cerebians, only six of them came to Midgard. The seventh was still upon Asgard-the only Cerebian born of her very own lifeblood, and the only one who had a direct link to the goddess. Her daughter Leigha. The sole Cerebian acted as the leader for the other six, and would be fighting side-by-side with their goddess when the time came for them to wage war against Asmodeus.
    As she neared the futuristic city she came to a halt and shot down towards the earth-the sphere of light came to an abrupt halt right above the ground and spun around quickly before growing into the size and shape of an average human female. As the light began to fade, her features came into view-her eyes were a dark brown and her hair a darker shade of it. She now wore a desert cloak, gladiator sandals and a dress that covered the entirety of her body.

    She made her way down the paved road into a city with massive towers that reached up to the heavens and bright lights in every window. Gigantic poles poured light down upon the streets as people bustled here and there-unlike many of the other cities they were hardly perturbed by the state of events and proceeded as if little had changed. Despite bathing in the light of the lanterns, Amae had felt no warmth from them, and the effect was rather disheartening. As she placed a hand to her chest and looked up to it, the sound of someone calling out to her woke her from her reverie.
    “My lady! I could sense your presence approaching! Forgive my lateness!” A young man ran towards her before he came to a sudden halt and knelt down before her, a single fist to his chest. “Keruz Revai, at your service.” He was a dignified young man with bronzed skin and long black hair in a blown back style. He had muted grey eyes with a serious look. He wore a thick silver coat and baggy black pants along with sneakers-clothes that were sold in Atlantis. Upon his hands were brass knuckles, but they were a disguise too-his weapon became a gauntlet that covered his whole arm when he entered combat. “To what do I owe the grace of your presence?” She gestured for him to stand and he did so without a moment of hesitation. She looked over him before smiling slightly-at the sight his face flushed and his eyes opened before he rubbed the back of his neck. “I-if you stare so much your holiness, even I will become flustered.”
    Her smile grew even wider. Though Leigha was her daughter, she considered all of the Cerebians to be her children. Though they were battle-bred warriors, she swore to herself that she would protect both them, and humanity. Perhaps when the war had ended, the two could learn to live in unison. Looking upon Revai now, he had began to fit in their society with ease under the guise that he was a Cerebian hidden in plain sight. “Revai, I would like to hear what knowledge you have gleaned since my last visit to the city. I am concerned with Humanity's current status and their mastery over Frequency.”
    At those words TJ's thought process came to a halt and he woke from the daze he had been in since this had begun. He was seeing the world through the eys of a goddess and those were her Saints! At what point in time was this? The feelings he had experienced and some of the knowledge that flowed through him now were Amae's also-he saw the world through her eyes, experienced what she did and Memorius Sanctum was chronicling her memories. If she created the Cerebians and was to challenge Asmodeus, then that meant she was God Ah's Left Hand. The Abellan felt a shock like nothing before. What about the Frequency? To think that it had existed in this time-and if what he heard was true, all of Humanity was able to use it. So what had happened that had caused them to lose their ability to do so? Why could they only use SP skills in the current time?
    “This information may come as displeasing to you, my lady.” The Keruz lowered his head and closed his eyes. “As you recall, the Humans of Atlantis have found a way to create a secondary power-or rather as they call them the 'ability wielders'. Of late their campaign has promised to give power to combat the Agasura-a power that the gods have denied the 'everyday man'.” He grit his teeth and furrowed his brows. “Forgive my language but this is nothing more than lies and slander! For them to tarnish your good name is unforgivable!”
    She took his hand and offered him a gentle smile. “Do not let their mistakes be reason  for you to make such a face. I wish to see all of my children smiling in harmony.” He let out a gentle huff with a smile before he nodded. “If I recall correctly, you had once informed me a man by the name of Artemis Kimara was responsible for the birth of the ability-wielders correct? If there is one such location where this takes place, perhaps you could take me to it?”
    “Your wish is my command, my lady.” He bowed down to her and she waved a finger at him.
    “You must not forget, Revai, that we are to remain disguised. Not just in image, but our actions also.” She smiled proudly. “I have studied much of the Human culture, and I believe that I am quite proficient at it. Come, today I shall have you be my escort.” She wrapped her arms around his and gave him a confident nod. “Let us go. For you to be too formal would simply draw attention.”
    “I-is this appropriate, my lady?” He knit his eyebrows.
    “I deem it to be so.”
    If TJ could feel his own body he would be sweating profusely. It was hard to imagine that the Cerebian goddess was so playful, but there was no denying that her actions were entirely understandable. It seemed she too, like his guildmaster was adamant on keeping the existence of the Cerebians a secret from Humanity. For generations they had kept this well hidden, and eventually became a part of their community-even so, there were still a myriad of questions TJ was yet to have an answer to.

    As the two walked through the streets Revai eyed the passerby with caution but despite his apprehension hardly any looked their way. This left TJ surprised also, because of Amae's garb, and less so her existence as a goddess. She looked like the travellers from Elfa in his time-though the two cities were not far apart, so perhaps visitors from it were not as scarce. Even so, he was hard-pressed to believe that the city of Atlantis was as of yet to be sunken. According to Curt, it was because of this very event-did that mean TJ would see it happen first-hand? The idea created a sense of unease within him.
    “I feel that it would be in your best interest if I warned you first, my lady. I doubt that you have forgotten, but the original incarnation of Kimara's creation harvested mana in the area and used it to create the ability-wielders. Since that would not suffice, he had his workers scattered across the continent to gather mana in places that were abound with it.” Revai explained before he grit his teeth. “When the amount could not meet the desire of the masses, he had taken one last step to ensure just that. He...began to cut down the seeds of Yggdrasil that we had spread. Many of the crops have fallen to their hands, and for it Midgard is suffering, as are we. Had it not been for the Heart of Yggdrasil, we would hardly be able to sustain our abilites, along with providing mana for Midgard.” The Keruz turned his head towards a massive clock tower at the heart of the city. “It will not be long before their next demonstration. I would suggest we attend so that you may see for yourself the result of their actions.”
    “Perhaps you are correct, Revai. It seems that this was a fault of my own, to have underestimated Kimara and his influence,” Amae remarked.
    He shook his head gently. “You were not wrong in your decisions. As you had informed us, it was God Ah's desire that we do not interfere. In doing so, should Humanity create new possibilities for itself, it is their decision what path they follow. Where they shall find light, is a choice of their own. Just as we take solace in your presence and what you give to us, so may they. You need only shine on, my lady.”
    The goddess smiled. “You have grown so much in such a short time Revai. I am very proud of you.”
    He scratched his cheek gently. “I only share in my understanding of your teachings, my lady.”
    After a brief walk the two came to a  towering silver building, inlaid with a series of windows from top to bottom-thhose at the lowest point were much wider but were also blocked by curtains. A pair of glass doors welcomed visitors, and as one would expect it was crowded. There were a couple of men who stood at the door trying to hold back the bustling crowd who clamored at the idea of becoming the next ability-wielder. Some were so adamant that they waved bills and cried for Kimara to come out.
    Amae gasped, “This is...”
    Revai nodded grimly. “This is how it is on a regular basis. Most do not know what darkness they have bought their way into...alas, there is little we can say or do to sway those who have made their mind. In a matter of minutes Kimara himself will come.” He shook his head. “They treat the man like a god among men. To think that this is what had become of so many people...it beggars belief.”
    Shortly after the doors swung open and lead by two more men was a lanky man with dark chestnut hair combed back-his features were sharp and his eyes a deep sea green. He wore a long white lab coat and a pair of olive green pants atop a pair of black shoes. He wore a pair of rectangular-framed glasses and pushed them upthe bridge of his nose as he prepared to greet the Atlantian community.
    “Welcome my adoring citizens, to Kimara Research Laboratory! I thank you for your constant patience and time for coming to visit this...humble facility.” Kimara's voice was oddly...sleek, yet seemed to straddle the line between sanity and madness. In that regard, he and Choen Palm were not very far apart, but she had an oddly violent or bloodthirsty tone at points, and his was more cunning. “I am positive you can hardly wait to have your chance at becoming the next glorious ability-wielder, so without further ado, we shall begin the demonstration! My receptionist shall be giving out numbers, so please see her following the demonstration.”
    At those words Kimara walked back into the Laboratory as he gestured for the men on security to let people in and they did so, albeit a small amount at a time. Each of them wore black coats over dark blue pants and carried weapons of the sort that could be seen in modern times-swords and shields, two-handed swords, knuckles and clubs, everything.
    “Shall we?” Revai asked, to which the goddess nodded solemnly.

    They walked inside and through Amae's eyes TJ could see the Laboratory as it was in the past-it was almost incredible at how primitive it was in comparsion to the modern version. Despite that, though, it was still relatively futuristic. A series of screens that showed videos of countless people lined one of the walls, each talking about their experience after becoming ability-wielders; some of them even advertised SP potions and where to find them, while others talked about ability-wielders and what they could do. As if that was not enough, there was all sorts of propaganda in posters that actively slandered the gods for their decisions. TJ felt both apprehension of his own, along with that of Amae's as she examined the area herself. The wall opposite of the corridor had all sorts of awards and accolades for Kimara's accomplishments, along with pictures of the employees and the deeds they may have accomplished.
    They entered a pair of double doors that lead to a massive towering room, but it was not that, that caught TJ's attention-it was the towering machine within. Stairwells that swirled around the room with a myriad of landings that allowed the workers to reach and perform maintenance on the machine drew his attention for a spell; as they walked ever closer to a series of seats laid out before the spectacle, Amae looked upon the workers scattered at varying heights around the abomination of metal with shock. The walls were black like the present Kimara, but it lacked the odd floating texts, and the sky-high multi-coloured cords did not serve as a means to ascend the place, but rather were a part of the machine itself.
    “Do you see that, my lady?” Revai asked as he pointed to one of the highest points in the Laboratory. At the sight, she knit her eyebrows-TJ would if he could also. What he pointed to was an eery green glow within a glass case that was connected to the machine-at closer inspection, roots of one of the seeds of Yggdrasil could be seen within. The goddess' heart sunk at the sight. “It is that creates the ability-wielders.” One of the security guards gestured for them to proceed and take a seat so they did so at the far back. “I had heard that upon the mana being exhausted from extraction is depleted, they grind up the roots to make potions from them.”
    “You...did not have to use force to acquire this information, did you Revai?” She asked with a worried expression. Was that normal for him?
    “N-no, of course not!”
    “Now then! To show that this is no farce, I would like to take a member from our wonderful audience today to be our demonstrator for the day. Which of you aspiring adventurers would like to become an ability-wielder?” Kimara asked the crowd with a sweep of his hand. There was something about him that gave TJ the heebie-jeebies, and he did not like the man one bit.
    As if in spite of his thoughts hands shot up rapidly as did some people desperate to be picked from the crowd. The security guards immediately tried to get the situation under control while Kimara swept over the crowd with his eyes-a look that seemed to see cattle to fulfill his ambitions. He pointed to a young man in the crowd. “You...yes, you shall do just fine.” A single adventurer with spiked hair and adventurer's gear that seemed rather out of place for an Atlantian rose to his feet with a fist-pump before making his way to Kimara and his machine at the dismay of all of the other visitors. The scientist inspected him before he gave an approving nod and snapped his fingers. Threen men in lab coats immediately hurried down the stairs and began making preparations for the transformation. One of the three opened the glass case at the base of the machine while another ushered the young man into it. While the two strapped him into a strange harness and attached all sorts of cords to his body, the other stood at a console and rapidly pressed a series of keys. “Now as you can see, this is your common, everyday adventurer. I have hand-picked him from all the visitors before your very eyes, and in the following moments he will be transformed!”
    One of the scientists seemed to ask him something to which he responded with a grin and a thumbs-up. He relayed it to his companion on the console who nodded solemnly and input a bit more information while the two closed the window. “We are ready to begin Doctor,” He said.
    “Then let us do so.”
    As Kimara walked away and took his place at one side of the machine, the others did so also as it came to life-a series of lights flickered on as they ascended ever higher. A powerful glow was emanated from each and every cord as a blinding light emanated from where the roots were located. The crowd watched in awe as water filled the tank and submerged the adventurer in it, his eyes closed as if he was put to sleep. After he was completely submerged in it, his body moved with a jolt as if it was shocked a couple of times before a bllinding green light filled the tank and caused many to avert their eyes. Once it faded, the water subsided and a powerful gust dried off the adventurer. Jets of mist filled the machine for a brief few moments, and once they began to dissipate the scientists approached. The first of the three went to the console and input a series of commands, opening the hatch and allowing the others to release the young man from his bindings. Once free they helped him to his feet and allowed him to exit on his own to stand before an awe-struck crowd.
    “How do you feel young man?” Kimara asked as he returned his weapon to him.
    “Feel? I feel great! Powerful even!” He excitedly said as he clenched his fists a couple of times.
    “Good, good, as you should. Now then gentlemen, if you would be so kind?” One of the scientists approached and whispered into his ear while another handed him a piece of paper. The third ran through a pair of doors at the far end of the room and returned with a straw training dummy. “We'd like you to display your newfound abilities for everyone.”
    He sheathed his blade before he balanced it over his shoulder. “That all? You got it!” He took his two-handed sword in both hands before he prepared a strike. He leapt at the dummy as he shouted, “Shock Wave!” Though the blade itself did not reach the object, it created a wave of violet energy that travelled across the ground a short distance and pierced the dummy. “One more!” He did a flip and brought his blade down on it. “Meteor Wave!” As if the weapon rended the very air before it and caused it to combust, flames rose in its wake and set the dummy aflame. He turned  to Kimara with a grin. “How was that?”
    The crowd was in a frenzy of elation. Alike to prior the arrival of Kimara, hands shot-up, bills in hand and cries of excitement followed suit. Those who had already seen it were not as enthusiastic, but still showed some signs of excitement, while Amae looked on with shock and disbelief.
    “I had a feeling by that alone, you would be well aware of what effect it had my lady,” Revai muttered grimly.
    The goddess closed her eyes slowly. “I can hardly even detect his presence anymore...the mana within that young man has almost entirely ceased to be. It as if the connection between us has been completely severed.” She clapsed her hands together as she looked over the crowd before her. “What kind of monstrosity has this man created?”
    “I know not either, but he has lead many to believe that this will be the means in which to turn the tides of war. I believe this mummer's farce must meet a swift, deft end along with the fool who initiated it.” He let out a gentle sigh. “Even so, my loyalty to you will never be overshadowed by foolish or unseemly desires. Allow me to see you out. Such a place is ill-suited for you.”
    “I am in your care once more Revai.”
    The guards escorted those who came for the demonstration out of the laboratory and those who wished to undergo the transformation to the receptionist's desk in another hall. Amae and Revai made their way out of the facility and down the streets of Atlantis towards the outskirts of the city.
    “Forgive me for taking up your time Revai, but this short journey has proved to be of great import,” Amae said. She wore a stoic expression, but TJ could feel the concern she had withheld.
    “It is nothing you need to thank me for. I am but a humble servant of yours.” He said as he bowed to her. “If you have need of me, please, contact me at any time and I shall be by your side with the utmost haste.”
    “I shall do so. For the time being, I would like for you to continue to monitor the activity in Atlantis City until we meet again. Should you find any signs that Asmodeus is approaching, I wish you to engage him. I and Leigha's Keruz will be with you anon.”
    “Your wish is my command, your grace.”
    She smiled gently. “Be safe Revai. I shall go to visit Docle in Elifius. Until we meet again.” She outstretched  both her arms and turned to a sphere of light before shooting towards the sky-the young man solemnly waved back as he faded amidst the clouds.

    Amae soared over the various cities of the past, now nothing but mere villages or towns. As TJ saw glimpses of the places he knew now, he came to realize much of Jienda had changed in that time-many of the roads had not even dirt trails for travellers to follow, Cherry Lake did not have the fortress that he and his allies once traversed and Aoich was not split into two different districts. Even Yong Gyong was a shadow of its current self, but the Red Crop Field still remained vast, and a land for harvesting. Amae came to an eventual halt near one of the cities, and if he was to hazard a guess it would have to be the past Elias, at the time named Elifius. Though she descended close to one of the entrances, she came to a brief halt and moved towards one of the city's walls-as she neared a waving figure came into view.
    The goddess touched down and TJ got a closer look at the figure he assumed to be Dolce. A young lady with silver hair in two braided side loops with deep violet eyes curtsied to the goddess. She wore a black blouse with white trumpet sleeves over a crimson calf-length skirt. She also wore a pair of black cloth shoes with a flower damask, silver bangles and matching hoop earrings. “It is a pleasure to see you healthy and hale my lady. I take it you recently visited Revai? I could sense your presence coming from the direction of Atlantis.” Dolce said as she opened her half-shuttered eyes and smiled. It was not until she placed her hands atop each other that TJ noticed the conductor's baton that was kept safe through a leather strap that hung around her waist. That, and the loaf of bread she held in her hand.
    “As am I, Dolce. You have my thanks for your guidance. As I would expect of you, your senses are in tune with the Heart of Yggdrasil magnificently.” Amae answered as she beamed. She chuckled gently shortly afterwards. “Nevertheless, you are insouciant in other matters as always.” Of the eight, Dolce was one of the most capable but also one of the most carefree in other matters.
    Her eyes opened wide in surprise for a moment, but she closed them and smiled as she held the bread to her cheek. “Indeed! I have come to know Elifius both inside and out, and have taken quite a liking to the local cuisine. The honeyed milk bread has quickly become preferential to all else. Would you like to taste it Your Grace?” She held out the loaf to her.
    “No, but thank you for the offer.” By the grace of God Ah Amae had no need to eat, but she wanted the Cerebians to be a little more Human-in that they could experience many of the things they do, both good and bad and come to understand them on equal terms. They would feel what they feel, eat and drink, face conflicts and learn admiration, and someday reproduce also. Though for the time being, they were nothing more than a small group, she knew it would not suffice to keep back Asmodeus' impending army. In time she would need to give life to many more, but the experiences that those who came before would become that of those who come after, and in doing so their resolve would carry them through their duty. For the sake of peace, and to put a stop to her only and beloved sibling, she would do what must be done no matter how difficult it was for her. “Alas, I am concerned with the state of affairs in Elifius. You had told me that they, among many others had stayed true to our cause and continued to do so prior. Have there been any noteworthy at all?”
    Dolce placed a finger to her face as she mulled it over for a few moments. “I would not say there was a dramatic change in the city's affairs, but I must confess there is some grim news.” Amae had a fair idea of what that would be. “A man from Atlantis and his men once visited to treaty with the king, and it seems they had come to a settlement. That man and his men had taken Elifius' seed of Yggdrasil-from what I had gathered, they did so in turn for coin. To fund their weapons, armour, and cost for training soldiers along with food and drink for said soldiers, they would need immense amounts of it.” The Keruz took the goddess' hand and lead her into the city as she continued her explanation. “I do confess, that it is quite the disenchanting scenario, but human culture is one where in order for progress to be made, sacrifices must be made in turn.”
    As they walked TJ could see the Elias of the past-cobblestone streets and small shops with signboards hanging from them. There were people in the streets who hawked the wares of the store and attempted to bring customers in. Further along there were a series of stalls set up like a bazaar, that was reminiscent of the weekends in the city. Rather than adventurers though, it was businessmen and actual shopkeepers selling all sorts of items from weapons and armour to potions, accessories and baubles. Unlike Atlantis, both the city itself and the people who inhabited had neither the futuristic technology nor the fashion sense that accompanied it. At times it was difficult to tell just that because there was a myriad of adventurers that lined the streets.
    “Is that so?” Amae was indeed listening, but the way she looked around said that there was something else on her mind. Was there something about Elifius that bothered her to such a degree? Or perhaps was it the scenario itself that weighed so heavily on her mind?
    “Indeed. Spirituality is often outweighed by coin-alas, spirituality cannot buy weapons nor mercenaries to fight their cause. On that note, there is something of a concern that I have.”
    The goddess turned to face the Keruz with a raised eyebrow. “That would be...?”
    “Mercenaries. Naturally, they would seek out places where they might find work. There is no doubt in mind the first place they would go to is Elifius. Have you noticed how much the city bustles in such a time?”
    “She nodded slightly. “Yes, in comparsion to my previous visits there seems to be an even greater abundance of adventurers in this city. Though if there are this many here, that could only mean...”
    Dolce nodded and closed her eyes. “That's right. The smaller villages and towns will suffer because the adventurers that hail from there have come here seeking payment and glory. Perhaps it is not as negative as I may paint it out to be, but the fact still stands tall.” The two broke away from the crowded market and came to a halt outside a massive wall of stone with a tiled top similar to that of a rooftop. “Keeping that in mind, I believe it would be in our best interest if we came to a decision. In total, there is nine of us. If I may, Your Grace, I suggest that you station each of us in the general vicinity of the towns and villages across Midgard. Though together we may be able to defeat Asmodeus with much greater ease, I cannot help but fear that Humanity will suffer many casualties in the process. A war won with excessive bloodshed is not a war that is won-it is nothing more than a bloody battle. Though our indentities may be given away upon our taking up the defense of Humanity, I will personally take it upon myself to clear the memories of any who have seen us throughout those battles.”
    Amae listened to Dolce speak calmly and quietly, and once she had finished her suggestion the goddess smiled. If it was her, it was not impossible that she would be able to perform one such feat. Despite Amae's abilities though, the Keruz had been thinking of counter strategies in order to protect Humanity despite the lack of their numbers. They were very kind despite their youth-the Cerebians that would follow in their footsteps would be even more so. She placed her hands to the cheek of the Keruz and the young girl's rosy cheeks flushed a deeper shade of pink. “You need not worry for the sake of the other civilization my precious child. I will be sure to protect them. I would not like to seperate you from your siblings-I have not a doubt in my mind Leigha has in mind something for all of you to do in order to defeat Asmodeus, and he will be the largest threat to all of Midgard. If they lack warriors, I shall provide them, and if they are wounded there will be those to tend to them. Your duty is to protect yourself, and the comrades that fight alongside you. Let me worry for the others. Now then, I would like to see the progress of those who have mastered our art.”
    “It would be my pleasure, Your Grace.”

    Dolce removed her baton from her sash and with a wave held it above their heads. A sphere of light surrounded them and once it vanished, they did also.
    “Let us proceed with caution and guile, My Lady. Though we are not easily visible to the naked eye, we can still be discovered by those who are discerning enough or who know how to disable illusory magic.” Dolce looked up to the eaves of the castle that towered in the heart of Elifius and turned on the balls of her heels with her baton before waving it with a flick of her wrist. At her command the winds surrounded the two and carried them up towards it before letting them off. “Down there are some of the palace's own warriors. Supposedly they are some of the finest the kingdom has seen in some time. That man down there, their instructor supposedly fought Agasura from all around the continent and became a renowned figure among adventurers and mercenaries alike.” As Dolce explained the courtyard behind the castle had warriors in formation, all practicing their swordplay. There was an archery range, practice dummies and even an obstacle course a fair distance from the castle itself. “What you see now is nothing more than practice equipment-what they will be wearing during the battle is held within the castle.” She turned her focus away to another location within the castle grounds. “I can sense Mages nearby. I shall show you to them.”
    At her command the winds surrounded them again and they drifted over trees and gardens towards a small barren area with a group of seven people. The two touched down nearby and watched in brief silence as one of the six robed figures raised his staff in the air as he sung. He opened his eyes and pulled the weapon back as he held a hand out, and the ground near the instructor shuddered before the earth rose up violently-the instructor, also robed but in Xenadia's colours-black, green and silver. Those who were of Xenadia but also acted as messengers for the goddess' cause had her insignia inscribed upon their outfit, as he did where his heart was located. An eye surrounded by a sunburst.
    Amae gave an approving nod at the sight and Dolce grinned. “It seems that Humanity had mastered your art through an imitation of your song that they had given the name 'incantation'. I have come to the understanding that it is not just through knowing the song that they can give it shape, but also in hearing your own-many of those that have come to learn the song have not mastered Frequency.” Dolce's explanation brought TJ's thought process to a grinding halt.
    That name-there was no doubt that she was talking about the very same thing he had in mind. But even so, the mention of it still left him in disbelief. The song was their means in order to master it, but what song did they speak of, and how exactly did they use it to tap into the Frequency? Was it really not something that was unique to him? If so, how did it come to be and how did he use it in the current day?
    “Even so, it is not just the members of the kingdom of Elifius who have come to get a hold on this power. As you can see, there are members of a myriad of different races and tribes that have come together to heed the king's calling and learn from one of Xenadia's finest.”
    As she had said, though TJ could not see their faces from behind, the fact that there was a child among them caught his attention. With a wand in hand, she stood tall among a group of four adults, one teenager and a young adult. Amae's heart ached at the sight, but any and all capable warriors were likely to be inducted into an army-those who could learn Frequency were even more valuable. Though human lives were short-lived, she could not bear to see those that had hardly even begun come to an abrupt end due to the gods. Kera would likely have felt the same way.
    “I know not what plans they have for them currently, but I will continue to watch them over the coming days, up until Asmodeus decides to wage war against us.” The young girl turned in their direction, potentially because she heard the Keruz' whispering and this gave Dolce a start. “We may have been detected, My Lady. I recommend a prompt and hasty retreat!” With a wave of her baton, a powerful gust of wind surrounded them and lashed out in the general vicinity before they took off and landed back before the castle's gates. “This was nothing more than a small glimpse of the events that have conspired of late. If you would like to see more, I can gain access to the castle Your Grace.”
    Amae shook her head gently. “There is no need for such actions Dolce. What you have shown me thus far is more than enough. For the time being, please continue to survey the ongoing situation here. There is one more place I must visit before I return to Asgard.” She explained before she smiled at the Keruz. “As for the use of the seeds of Yggdrasil here, I have no qualms with it...and none with what Kimara has chosen to do either. It is Humanity's decision, but be it weapons, abilities or potions, I pray that they can protect Midgard with it. The path they follow following the defeat of Asmodeus is one they must decide for themselves.”
    As the goddess closed her eyes to surbey the air for any nearby humans, Dolce smiled gently in turn. “As you wish, Your Grace.” As she curtsied once more she winked. “Though I am in no place to do so, may I burden you with a request?”
    “You may. What do you wish for Dolce?”
    Her smiled widened into a grin. “Please ask Leigha to pay us a visit. I am positive that she will come to love Elifius-especially the confectionary they call 'cake'.”
    “It shall be done. Be well Dolce, we shall meet again in time.”
    The Keruz curtsied once more before she waved the goddess off. “My thanks! Safe travels, Your Grace!”

    Despite the lack of their king, the Agasura that inhabited Midgard still persisted in attacking Humans wherever they were. Amae had considered having her Cerebians take flight and take the fight to them, but it was Leigha who suggested that they hold out until Asmodeus himself appears. Though the Agasura were not as strong as those to come, those untrained and those who were veterans needed all the opportunities that they could get in order to hone their blades in preparation for the upcoming war. Going by the knowledge gathered by her Keruz, she had come to realize that Humanity would take any able-bodied person to join in their fight, and they needed all the help that they could get. In that amountg of time, Amae could prepare herself-creating eight Cerebians was a small feat for the goddess. Creating an entire colony would be a matter in and of itself. In that time the Cerebians would have to gather as much information as they possibly could for their brothers and sisters who would follow after them. As for Amae, she had a mission of her own to see through.
    Amae touched down on the outskirts of the city of Elfahdera and made her way to one of the entrances. If TJ was to hazard a guess, assuming by the geography and name of the city it was a past Elfa-like a jewel hidden amidst the desert sands. Unlike the current and massive bustling city of Elfa, it was a small village not too far from the ocean, with buildings still under construction and much smaller and less grandeur than those that filled the city in his time. There were no tall domes or massive arches, and the city was not as colourful as it was. The ground was stone and cracked, and the buildings were worn down from being buffeted by sand but the city still seemed to see some prosperity in the face of hardship.
    A pair of guards in chainmail armour stood tall with spears in hand as she walked by and waved to them. Through the visors of one of their helmets TJ stole a glance at them as they looked back at the goddess, but it did not seem to be one of caution nor apprehension. As she made her way through the dusty village TJ saw very few people, save for the merchants who hawked their wares at small stalls, only few passerby lined the streets-adventurers, a couple of children and some elderly citizens. The Abellan felt a bit nostalgic as he caught passing glimpses of vendors in the street and others that set up a carpet or tarp and sold their wares there. The Desert village did not seem to have a market specifically, but did have a sort of bazaar, with a few people, some travellers, selling a variety of wares from the other cities and trading in all sorts of currencies while speaking in tongues that he had never heard of; the sight of shops with signs that hawked their wares thankfully, were universal. Unlike Elifius, there were far fewer buildings for shopping, so it was possible that to have a stall or even a tarp was not just something that was more common among adventurers.
    TJ could not help but wonder if all the others gone to join the fight. The goddess continued on to a store with a wooden sign hanging from it that featured a suit of armour and she entered without a moment of hesitation. This startled the Abellan-what was Amae looking for in an armour store?! Was she looking to equip the Cerebians or outfit herself? Either thought seemed rather incredulous, but there was no denying she was here, and he awaited in bated breath to find out why.
    “Ezra? Are you not present? Kera?” The goddess shouted to the silent store. The door was unlocked, but it was not unusual for the two. Nevertheless, despite her calling out to them she could sense the presence of neither. She considered searching the back, where Kera's room was located but a single wall or a second would not impede her senses.

    Amae exited the store before she did a quick sweep of the streets within her line of sight. A myriad of presences were within the walls of the temple, and though mixed amidst the others she felt positive that the young girl was within. She made her way towards it and paused for a couple moments as she reached out to one of the doors' handles-the sound of music came clearly through to her and she smiled gently. It was the sound of Kera playing her instrument while singing hymns with all the children. Even in her absence, it seemed there was nary a time where the young girl did not strive to further hone her skills. As the song came to a close Amae slowly opened the door and the light of the day shone in as she stepped inside to a group of faces that looked on in surprise.
    The eldest of them placed her instrument down and held her hands out as the children flocked behind her for cover-she wore a stern expression and her body remained unmoving as the door closed back and Amae's figure became visible. She removed her hood and relief washed over the young musician's face as she ushered the children to come from hiding.
    “Thank the gods...you had startled me Nomad.” The young girl said as she sat back down and smiled. Going by Amae's thoughts and memories, the girl that looked over the children was indeed Kera. She had a similar  skin tone to TJ, her night black hair tied in a fountain-style ponytail and deep brown eyes.Despite her small build, her body was well toned-she wore a simple light brown t-shirt, a pair of hide shorts and a pair of tan sandals. TJ could not help but wonder how she got so fit-perhaps she was an armour smith also? Next to her was the unusual instrument that she seemed to be playing up until a few moments ago. Though unsure if it were true, his memories said it was called a chordophone? Or a lute?
    The children all flocked around her while they called to her using that moniker-she smiled and greeted each one of them by name as she gave them high-fives and swayed with them as they took her hands.
    Kera clapped her hands. “Okay everyone, leave the nomad alone for now. It's time for the adults to talk so run along okay?” In turn she received a united 'okay' and the children ran off into a door to the young girl's right. Amae followed in their wake and upon her reaching the musician she took her hands. “How have you been faring Nomad?”
    Amae beamed. “I have been doing very well. It pleases me greatly to see you in good health as well. You have been here more frequently of late. I take it more of the men and women of the village have gone to fight, correct?”
    Kera nodded glumly, but as she lifted her head she put on a brave face. “Yes, that is the case but I will not lose hope! There have been more sightings of Agasura within the vicinity, and the village elders have called more and more to join our battle but I will believe in God Ah's Family right until the very end. They will not abandon us. I have not a shred of doubt.”
    “The gods will protect Humanity. I assure you, so do not lose faith.” Amae clasped her hands tightly.
    The essence of all life was mana-of the people, the plants and animals on all worlds. But to the gods, to Amae, at the very least, she also gained strength from that of her followers. If her followers believed in her, the effect of every ability to her would increase, including how much she could utilize them while decreasing the time it would take her to recover from them. In breathing life into Leigha and her Keruz, she had used her own mana, and even now much of it was still recovering but she knew her efforts were not in vain-each of them was born from her, and carried a portion of her power which would manifest in the form of their weapons and the skills in their repertoire. In the same vein, spells and stances learned through Frequency manifested through such a means, but much of the strength in them relied on the user, and their ability to understand it.
    “I will not.” Kera knit her eyebrows slightly. “Though we are sworn to secrecy, I trust you Nomad so I would like you to know.” Amae nodded solemnly and listened intently. “Of late there have been a small group of people that have come to understand that power which our goddess has blessed us with. Some men from the city state of Elifius had once come by in search of them, and took them back with them. Most were adults but one of them was one of the children.” She looked to the door the children had recently went into and sighed gently. “The kids have since held fears that they would be taken away from their families, and I find myself hard-pressed to act on either behalf. The elders had said that to join the battle would be an honour and that those who are able have a duty to all of Midgard but...I feel unsure if this is truly the best course of action. To that end, I have hidden two more skilled people in mind but...”
    Amae knit her eyebrows as she pursed her lips slightly. It seemed that mastering the Frequency at times could serve more as a sentence than a reason for celebration. What could she do to help Kera in this situation? What could she do for Humanity to ease their burdens? “Might I inquire who they might be?”
    She smiled bitterly. “They are Olen...and I.”
    Amae nodded solemnly. She knew that Kera had already learned the Frequency-her potential and mastery grew upon every visit, and if she was to give it shape her power and talent would shine through. As for Olen, he was one of the children she looked after in the temple and was amidst the children now. Though faint, he had the embers of budding talent within, and if honed he too could learn to access the power within. “Are you afraid to face the Agasura Kera?”
    The girl shook her head. “No...it is not that I fear them. I wish to fight...or rather...” She looked down to her instrument for a couple of moments. “I wish to master my instrument, because through it I feel that I can support those on the battlefield. Though it is not a weapon I...I have been able to heal the scrapes of the children, and even some of the wounds on the soldiers that returned.” This gave the goddess a shock not even she expected. “I do not believe that I have the capacity to kill, even if my enemy is an Agasura, but I feel confident that if I was to go there I could contribute by giving strength to those with enough conviction to do so!”
    The goddess beamed at the words. “You have a truly beautiful soul, Kera. Do not let anyone or anything snuff out the fire of your courage. Burn ever brighter with the intensity within.” She gently pressed a finger to the young girl's solar plexus and she smiled in turn.
    “Yes, I am positive that the time for me to join the battle will come. For the time being, I want to remain here by the children's side. To protect them, to sing with them and teach them.” She turned her head in the direction of the door as the kids peered through an open crack before they all toppled out over each other. Those who could got up and surrounded the two again while they bombarded the adults with questions. “I guess the kids need some kind of parent when their families are a way so...I'll be here until the time for me comes too.”
    “Then until that moment comes...” Amae reached into her dress and drew her harp. “Let us practice to prepare you for the future. We shall see your song through to its completion, Kera.” At the action the kids all clamoured about magic tricks-some had even believed that she used the Frequency to do so.
    Kera chuckled. “I would appreciate it greatly. There are many Elfahdian hymns I and the children can teach you Nomad.”
    As the two began to play a brief thought came across his mind. The young girl Kera looked awfully familiar for someone TJ had never known-in fact, since she was a human that lived in the past, he never could have come to know her, but he felt certain he had seen her, After a few moments of pondering the matter, the realization dawned upon him.
    That young girl-that aspiring Bard...that Human from another time, long before he even existed...
    Was him. Every feature, from her eyes to the contours of her face was his. But she was not him. He had the sneaking suspicion that he was her.

    After a sudden but brief blackout TJ found himself unable to see anything-what had happened? Where was he now? All of a sudden in a flash of light he could see again-there was a flower garden with a young lady and a strange being of pure light with her. Her singing, or rather the song she sang gave TJ an odd sense of nostalgia. He searched through every experience he had that he could recall since his awakening, but the exact event escaped him and he could only recall a vague memory-the dark expanse of time between his defeat at Kimara Research and his second awakening.
    The sound of the song was the same, but even through Amae he could not understand the lyrics that he heard. Everything he saw through Memorius Sanctum he had understood but the two songs, respectively performed by Kera and now the lady before him. Who was she, and what was the song that she sung now? How did he recall it, and who was it that knew and sung it in the current day and age?
    The lady brushed a few strands of deep blue hair from her eyes and smiled at the goddess as she approached. “Welcome back, Your Grace,” She said with a curtsy-her voice was smooth and oddly enchanting. She wore a long pink dress, a transparent silver shawl, and a flower coronet upon her hair. She had bright golden eyes that gleamed in the goddess' light.
    “I thank you Orpha. How fares the Child of Light?” Amae asked as she approached.
    TJ caught the slightest glimpse of the goddess through Orpha's reflection and was both dazzled and blindsided at the same time and lost focus for a moment before he regained his composure. He could hardly see much, but the goddess' emerald green hair was something he definitely saw, and the white raiment she wore, but hardly anything else.
    As the goddess walked by Orpha clasped her hands together and bowed, and when she approached the being rose to its feet and looked up to the goddess who dwarfed both it and Orpha. As if born and shaped from light itself, the being stood before her and what seemed to be eyes appeared on its face-the body was shaped like that of a small human child. At the sight of her, it shone brighter and the jingle of bells followed shortly afterwards.
    Amae beamed at the sound. “Is that so? I am very pleased to hear that.” She placed a hand atop its head and it jingled once more. Was that truly its way of speaking? “You need only wait a brief time longer. Leigha has been preparing mantras in my stead-it is only a matter of time before you may experience the outside world. Have patience my love. Your time will come.”
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sat Nov 28, 2015 3:08 pm

    TAD Chapter 1(298-310):
    The Asgardian Duet: The First Act-Charity
    The sound of footsteps as they echoed through a hallway brought TJ to his senses. Before he knew it he found himself in the shoes, or rather, the lack thereof of his past self-hands interlocked with an unfamiliar girl the two rushed through a damp, dark corridor barely lit by the torches that lined each of the walls.
    He looked back at the sound of a man that shouted as they made their escape, and he immediately got the impression that the two had committed a jailbreak.
    “Don't stop running!” The girl shouted back to him as she looked back. She was just a child with shoulder-length snow white hair and bright blue eyes. She wore what seemed to be leather armour for someone her age and stature, and she carried a wooden club at her waist. “This way!” At a fork in the corridor she turned left and he followed suit.
    As they continued on a stairwell came into view at the end of the corridor and the two immediately made their way to the top as they did. A heavy steel door awaited them, just barely opened a crack which allowed for a sliver of light to pour into the darkness of the cavern they traversed.
    The girl pushed it open enough for her to slide through and she surveyed the situation from there. “All clear! Let's go!” At those words TJ slipped through the ajar door and continued his escape hand in hand with her.
    The sudden change in scenery startled him-in place of the darkness of the caves he had found himself in what seemed to be a basement inside of a castle. An ornate crimson carpet with a gold trim lined the hallway along with suits of armour, various paintings and portraits along the walls and magnificent chandeliers that hung from the roof.
    The splendor was a stark contrast to himself-a dirty child who wore rags and ran around in his bare feet.
    What was he doing there, and what had he done to land himself in the castle's dungeon? For that matter, who was she and why had she come to his aid?
    “If we're gonna get to an exit we're gonna have to go a few floors up. I dunno about any that are in the basements.” The girl knit her eyebrows as she muttered the statement and came to a halt at another stairwell. “Getting through the main entrance might be a little tough too, 'cause there's a bunch of guards that are blocking the way.”
    She looked to him but his expression remained unchanged. “Don't worry, I'll get you out safely.
    “Those adults throwing you in the dungeon wasn't fair at all, and the princess agrees too.”
    ...The princess? If that girl had mentioned her, was this possibly at some point during his time on Asgard?
    At what point during his journey was it, exactly? The situation was strange in and of itself, but it may have been one of the reasons TJ came to know Peorth, so the most he could do was see where it lead him.
    Though he could not help but wonder why Memorius Sanctum chronicled the memories of both Amae, and himself-that and why the Sinners had them, and he was given access to both. There were questiones raised with few answers as of yet, but only time would tell where they would take him.
    The two ran up the stairs to the next floor and the girl immediately pulled him behind a suit of armour. A series of guards rushed through the hallway, their voices overlapped each other in their panic and haste.
    “The prisoner escaped!” “Protect the royal family at all costs!” “Our orders are to find them and bring them back, then enhance the lookout!” “Leave no stone unturned!” “There's gotta be a mole among us! Find him and bring him to justice!”
    TJ's heart raced as the guards ran past while he and the girl remained huddled behind the armour, her hand over his mouth. When they passed she let him go and sighed with relief.
    “That was close...I dunno what you did but these guys are really in a panic about it.” She grinned a toothy grin, a few of them missing as she scratched her cheek.
    “If dad finds out that I busted you out I'm gonna be grounded for life.
    “But...I wanna make things fair. It's not fair for them to make the princess sad. I won't accept it! Let's go!”
    Her kind words left a warm feeling within his chest, but despite all of it he had neither said, nor even expressed an outward change. Velvet had mentioned that he was like that-after he saw it first hand he began to understand what she had meant.
    The two continued down the hallway and passed by another stairwell. She came to a halt and turned around to lead him up those and to the next floor. She searched the area and made her way down the right path.
    Her body froze again as one of the doors swung open and a maid stepped out. She hid TJ behind a nearby suit of armour as she began to sweat profusely.
    “What are you doing here child? With all this panic in the castle it's not safe for children to be playing in the halls.” She added as she crossed her arms, her voice portrayed worry rather than austerity.
    “P-playing? I'm not playing! I'm patrolling!” The young girl answered as she balanced on the balls of her heels.
    The maid chuckled. “My husband used to be the exact same way when he was your age. He always tried so hard to be the best knight in his squad.” She placed a hand to her cheek as she smiled gently.
    “I suppose I can't stop you, but do be careful. It would truly be a shame to see a brave child like you hurt. Good luck in finding the escapee, and be sure to call an adult if you see them.”
    “A-aye aye!” She answered in turn as the maid walked past broom in hand. When she deemed it a safe enough distance she signalled TJ to come out from hiding. TJ blinked as he caught a glimpse of the young girl's face.
    Her brows were furrowed and she bit down on her lip as she took his hand and continued on wordlessly.

    The two made their way to the next floor and the sound of voices as they approached put the pair in a bind. The girl ran down the hallway and turned the knobs on as many doors as she could in hopes that one of them was unlocked so that they could take cover.
    The more doors she attempted to open the more her unease increased until finally one of them opened for her and the two hurried inside. She quickly closed the door but attempted not to slam it as the sound of more knights approached.
    It was dark, moreso than the dungeon, and TJ sat against the door with the girl still on her feet. With both hands to the door she waited for them to pass in bated breath. The sound of voices and footsteps continued and she let out a quiet whimper, be it out of fear or need for air he was unsure, but he felt both concern and fondness for her.
    When the footsteps had passed she slowly opened the door to discern whether it was safe for them to leave or not.
    Afterwards she pused the door opened and took TJ's hand before the two rushed out into the hallway and made their way towards the next staircase. Unlike the others the stairwell rose in a spiral ever upwards, the passage narrow, leaving the feeling of danger that could lurk right around the corner.
    The young girl came to a halt and turned to him. “I've got an idea! Let's disguise you!” He tilted his head quizzically in response while she removed her helmet. She placed it atop his head, then took off her body armour and weapon before she placed both on him. It was difficult and awkward, but after a brief struggle she managed to make him look somewhat like an aspiring Knight. She gave a nod of approval to her handiwork. “With this, they're gonna have a hard time recognizing you.” She smiled and he blinked solemnly. “We're almost at the lobby so let's keep going!”
    The two continued up the stairs before they came to a single white door with an ornate golden design of ships on water upon it. The young girl turned the handle and stepped forward with TJ in tow, opening the path to the castle's lobby. From where they stood, to their right was a massive staircase and to the left was a hallway. Straight ahead was the main entrance, magnificent crimson doors with a golden design upon them-the floor made of marble with the Asgardian herald depicted upon it. A beautiful chandelier hung from the roof and lit the entirety of the lobby, save for the shade cast by the stairs where the two now stood.
    Crowds of people frantically ran about, from guards to servants of the castle. The girl silently watched for a moment before she steeled her resolve and hurled herself along with TJ into the crowd, moving to and fro within towards the entrance. Before they arrived she came to a halt and immediately pulled him away as he caught a glimpse of a group of guards carefully examining all passerby while they stood guard before the entrance.
    She hurried up the stairs and down the nearest hallway before she stopped to catch her breath. “That was too close! Those guards are the really important ones, and they're super scary!” She pursed her lips. “And the captain's really mean. I don't like him at all.” He could imagine.
    “We're gonna have to try to find another way out. That's the only place I know with any doors though...I dunno if using the windows is a good idea. I hope we don't have to.” As did he. “Let's keep heading this way. I can see more adults coming that way and I don't wanna run into them.”
    She continued with TJ in tow down the hallway. TJ could not help but notice that the upper floors had a different feel than those that were lower-they were much busier, and it seemed to have more vibrant colours, from the walls to the pictures and paintings that adorned the walls. The knights that guarded the halls were no less intimidating than they were before, but he assured himself that they would not come to life and attack him, so there was little reason for fear.
    At the sight of chefs approaching she took to the walls and hid behind a bust on a pedestal, then continued to sidle along to stay as far out of sight as possible. She pointed to the next set of stairs across the hall and the two hurried over to it before they ascended to the third floor.

    The moment they got up the stairs the young girl bumped into a man in a suit of armour and he raised his visor to glare at her before he picked her up by her shirt.
    “And where do you think you're going you sneaky little urchin?” The man asked with a cocky voice and a cocked eyebrow.
    “I'm not an urchin I'm a member of the Royal Asgardian Knights!” She roared in response as she tried to fight her way from the grip of his guantlets.
    The man sneered as he looked from her to TJ who stared at him solemnly. “A member of the knights hmm? Your companion certainly looks the part of a trainee, but you? Not in the slightest. Still, it would be foolhardy to think that an urchin could sneak their way past the guards and ascend Yggdrasil to the palace, so I'll give you some leeway. Some words of advice, child, don't think becoming a part of the Royal Asgardian Knights is child's play. Only the finest are admitted to our ranks. Now scurry along and refrain from getting in the way of anyone else.”
    She growled as he prowled off and turned her focus back to TJ. “What a jerk! Jeez!”
    She let out a gentle sigh as she scratched her cheek. “Though we might not get that lucky twice. We're gonna need a new disguise for you because I only have one set of armour.” She knit her eyebrows as she crossed her arms and closed her eyes in thought. “I know! If we can sneak into the pantry I think we can find some spares there. It's the only place I can think of right off the bat, so it'll have to do...” She took his hand and hurried down the hallway.
    They continued towards a pair of silver double doors as a few people passed through the hallway-the two hidden behind a curtain beneath a window. When all that were within their radius had their back turned the two sidled across the wall until they reached the door. She turned to face the door and before she could reach out to it, it swung open and hit her in the face, which knocked her to the floor and dazed her. She let out a gentle whimper as she fell into TJ and groaned as he desperately dragged her behind a statue.
    “Did'ya hear somethin'?” A man in chef's garb asked his companion.
    “S' probl'y nothin'. Stop worryin' 'bout useless stuff already would ya'?”
    Both seemed to have an unfamiliar accent, but one that was similar in many respects. Perhaps they hailed from the same city?
    That matter aside, was that girl okay? TJ looked down to her as she rubbed her nose and wiped the tears from her eyes. She got to her feet and sniffled. “T-thanks. I'm okay, don't worry!
    “I dunno if there's anyone else in there though. Think you can give me a boost so I can see into the window?” He tilted his head and she giggled. “Yeah I guess you wouldn't know huh? Well I'll be on the bottom then! I'm stronger than I look y'know!” She placed a hand to a curled arm and grinned. She gestured for him to stay put as she walked behind him. He looked over his shoulder as she took a few steps back and ran towards him. Before he could react she crouched between his legs and lifted him from the ground, placing him on her shoulders. He let out a surprised gasp as she did and franticlly squirmed afterwards. “C-calm down! It's fine, you're fine!” He placed his hands down on her head and brushed her bangs into her face. “Now I definitely can't see. This should be where the window is though. Pat my head once for yes, twice for no. Can you see through it?” He tapped her once on the head and she giggled. “Good, good! Do you see anyone in there?”
    TJ glanced around through the circular window-he could see within the pantry, and among all the cupboards and shelves there was not a soul within. He patted the young lady on the head twice and she nodded.
    “Alright let's get in there! Just need to...get you off my shoulders first. You're kinda heavy...” He tapped her on the head twice and she laughed. “Just kidding!”
    After TJ got down the two made their way into the pantry and began to search the place for a cook's wear. The pantry was coloured a gentle sky blue, with white cupboards and silver shelves coated in all manner of spices and non-perishable foods. Though it was indeed just a pantry, even the objects within had some fanciful designs to them, though much less in comparsion to the other locations within the castle.
    “We're gonna have to search all of these things. Just be sure you don't eat anything or they'll kill us!” She told him with an uneasy look.
    He absent-mindedly opened a few cupboards, not knowing exactly what he was looking for but continued to do so anyway. At the sound of voices nearing he raised his head and listened, and she flew into a panic.
    “H-hide!” She closed those that he had opened and pushed him on top of a series of bags of flour before she climbed in after him. She shut the door and remained silent as indistinct voices chattered as they entered the pantry.
    “It's a good thing we keep spares in the locker you know. If you forgot your things again the head chef would gut and spit roast you. After firing you, of course,” A woman joked.
    “D-don't say that! He's liable to actually do it too. It's not a laughing matter!” Another answered while her companion laughed heartily.
    They made their way out of the pantry and off somewhere else, leaving the two. TJ's companion exited first and pulled him out afterwards. “Hear that? We can find them in the lockers.” She said as she approached one of a very few groups of lockers. She opened it, found nothing and frowned. “No good.” She moved over to a second and swung it open. “Nope.” On the third she grinned and pulled out an adult chef's coat and hat.
    “No pants...but you don't need pants right? You're not wearing any anyway.” She smiled. “Dad's friend always talks about how liberating it is not to wear pants at home. He's really funny.
    She turned to TJ with a twinkle in her eyes. “Now let's get you all dressed up!” She pulled the coat over his head with ease and placed the hat over his head, which covered his eyes. “If I didn't put you in it I'd think you were a bona fide chef!” The coat was far too large for him and covered a majority of his legs.
    “Alright let's keep going. Since the guards are blocking the entrance we've gotta switch to 'plan B'!” He had not the foggiest what 'plan B' entailed, but he was without a doubt a part of it.

    She looked out the doorway and saw the hall was clear for the time being. The two ran down the corridor with great haste and she pulled him up the nearest stairwell.
    “Hold it right there!” A voice shouted and startled her.
    “Uh oh! Keep going I'll catch up!” She told TJ while she made her way back down the stairs.
    She was stopped by one of the castle's guard and he eyed her curiously. “What's a kid like you running about for? It's not safe you know. Come with me, I'll escort you back to the training grounds.” As he reached for her hand she reeled back and shook her head.
    “W-wait! I'm here for a reason!” She cried defensively.
    He raised an eyebrow as he crossed his arms. “That is...?”
    “I uhh...I saw a suspicious person! In the courtyard! So I told the teacher and he said I should inform the captain of the royal guard immediately!”
    “Was it a kid? About ye high?” He gestured to somewhere about TJ's height. “Dark skin, spiky black hair, brown eyes?”
    “Y-yeah that's the one!”
    “Hmm...” He sniffed. “Carry on then, but I expect you to get back to your class as soon as that duty is fulfilled. Understood?”
    “Yes sir!”
    He nodded once and walked off as she ran back up the stairs.
    “Phew...safe...for now. We're getting there. We just need to find a way to get you to him.” TJ tilted his head quizzically and she smiled at him. “He'll get you out safely. We just need to get to the fourth floor study.”
    The two reached the next floor and they searched the area. It was safe for the time being, and with that thought in mind they proceeded. They walked down the hallway as the girl looked at the various doors, some with characters TJ could not read. She stopped at one and turned the handle, then entered along with him before she closed it behind them.
    As he had suspected, it was in fact the study. A room with a high roof, a massive arched window and bookshelves that reached for the skies. Tall ladders were located on both sides for one to climb and find the books they sought out-a mahogany desk and a sea blue chair sat before a lovely painting of a lady that was truly reminiscent of Peorth, but with even more elegance and a more mature beauty than the latter was likely as of yet to develop.
    TJ looked on in awe of the room as the young girl jumped into the chair and dipped a quill in ink to write out a note with some paper that was already placed on the desk. After she finished it she folded it up and glanced around the room. She spotted a loveseat with a blanket folded on it and claimed it before returning to him.
    “Here, hold on to this and be sure not to lose it okay?” She gave him the note and he looked at it silently before turning his gaze back to her.
    “Now for the final step. I think we threw the guards off of our trail so now we just need to get you to him safely. I don't think there'll be too many of them up here anyway!”
    She took his hand as they exited the study and made their way down the hall to a lone window. She dropped the blanket and attempted to open it, but found it much more difficult than she expected. She pushed and pulled until her face turned red b ut to no avail. “Lend me a hand here would you?” The two struggled to open the window and before long it flew open and a gust of wind rushed in.
    The young girl leaned out the window. “Get ready 'cause we're gonna have to do this before somebody comes. After I whistle you take a part of the blanket and I'll lower you down to the ground. Give that letter to the guy who shows up when you get down there okay?” She turned back to the window. “Here goes!” She placed two fingers to her mouth and whistled loudly, then unfurled the blanket as TJ grabbed a portion of it. He looked to her and she smiled before she patted him on the head gently. “You'll be fine, don't worry! Okay, out you go!” He scrambled to the window and looked back uneasily at her while she smiled gently in turn. “I've got you covered!”
    TJ was appalled at the audacity of his past self, and to the lengths he would not risk currently. Being rappelled out of a window was not one of the few things he would consider having on his bucket list-that is, if he had one.
    He slowly climbed down the wall as the young girl lowered him with the blanket, and it seemed that the ground floor was not far away. As he got lower and lower he looked from the ground to the castle's window. Before he knew it, he was falling to the ground as he heard the sound of a man's voice.
    “...et?” Were all the words he had caught before the girl's terrified scream followed after. He fell from the castle's walls into the bushes below, and the branches and leaves broke his fall, albeit rather roughly. The blanket fell on top of him afterwards and he lay there silently for a few minutes as he pondered what could have went wrong.
    TJ's current self was even more shocked. After a fall like that how could he remain completely silent? Not a cry, a shout, or event a grunt of pain escaped his lips.
    Leaving that matter aside though, was it possible that the girl who helped him was not just any mysterious individual, but Velvet? It was difficult to tell as it had been years prior to her becoming the Velvet he knew, but going on the features that would not change over that time frame, her eyes and hair, it was possible. Though he had little proof to go on and even less to be sure of, was it possible they had met at this point in time? Was it really her?
    As he emerged from the bushes a stream of blood ran down his face and he placed a hand to it before he solemnly looked to the boy who stood before him. He wore a tank top, straw hat and shorts, and carried a wooden broadsword on his back. His spiked black hair rested on his shoulders and he looked upon TJ with a look of confusion and amusement.
    “I heard her whistle to call me over and I find you instead. I dunno what to think!” He said as he laughed.
    TJ looked to his hands, to the boy, then back to his hands. Without a word he offered up the letter.
    “This for me? Let's see here...” He muttered as he unfolded the letter and read the contents under his breath. “This is definitely her writing, but she doesn't mention your name anywhere...”\and to add insult to injury you're completely silent.” TJ nodded solemnly and he smiled wryly. “Well at least you understand what I'm saying. Still...try to smile why don't'cha!” He said as he squeezd TJ's cheeks and pulled them into a smile. He grinned at him and gestured for him to follow. “Well whether you're silent or emotionless I won't stop 'ya. Give me a reason to skip class or something interesting to do and I'll go anywhere. Let's roll!”

    The swordsman lead TJ towards a nearby hedge and glanced around the surrounding area before he made an opening in the leaves and stuck his head inside. He pulled himself out and grinned at his follower.
    “Looks like we're in the clear. Stay close, and be as quiet as you can.” He told him as he brushed the leaves aside and climbed through with his whole body.
    TJ watched with a puzzled expression before he followed suit and nearly stepped on the prone swordsman. He followed suit and the two made their way across the ground to avoid being in the sight of one of the guards, the pair just barely out of sight courtesy of a tree in the courtyard. They neared another hedge and the two crawled through it. Moments before they got through to the other side the leader froze and his follower paused at the sight with confusion.
    “Shh!” He whispered with a finger to his lips.
    The sound of footsteps as they approached, came to a sudden halt and then continued signalled an opportunity for the two to move forward, and so they did just that. The swordsman immediately made his way through to the other side, and got to his hands and knees so he could crawl over to the river. He slipped into it so naturally it seemed as if he was born to be in it, and when TJ approached he pulled him by the hem of the apron into the water.
    “Hold your breath, quickly!” He took a deep breath and dove under so TJ followed suit. Hand in hand the two moved forward through the river, into a small and dark tunnel and eventually to the other side where they resurfaced without a splash. The swordsman raised his face to the surface and breathed while he searched from where he was to see if there was anyone that looked into the water. TJ raised his head above the water and gasped for air until he was pushed back under and glared at. Afterwards his companion raised the top of his head above water and glanced about for any guards. He signalled him to come up and so both climbed out before they rushed for the nearest hedge.
    They hid themselves there for a time while the guards rummaged about nearby-they carefully surveyed the area, met up for a brief greeting and chat and went about their business. Going by the expressions on their faces and the way they casually walked about TJ deduced that they likely paid little attention, as the manor was likely heavily guarded, so very few, if any occurrences came to be at all. It was possible that the guards within the manor had not informed those outside that his past self had escaped because none thought he could, or saw his flight from the window.
    The two made their way through the hedge and onto the soft grass before they hopped into the next hedge. It seemed awfully long, and it was tough to get through the branches but the swordsman insisted on the path and continued through them despite what barred them, eventually coming to an exit.
    When they finally broke free of all the leaves and branches, they were at what seemed to be the end of the courtyard-the grass extended far beyond what the eye could see, but there was nothing else out there. In spite of that fact, to their left was a short walkway that lead into the courtyard's maze, and before it a tall ornate gate with a swirling blue energy. If TJ's journey held any significance, it was without a doubt the entrance or exit to an Instance Dungeon. Did that mean the palace was located within one?
    The young man in the straw hat lead him over to it and the two stopped before it, TJ looked on in awe. It was tall and round with a white border and a golden trim-blue runes lined the inside of the border and at the top of it a golden leaf was engraved upon it along with two wings that were built into the gate itself.
    “The moment we step through there, we're gonna have to run for our lives. The guards are gonna see us once we get through the gate so we're gonna have to run from them, and then get past the guys that are blocking the portal.” He puffed out his chest with a grin. “I know how to use the Bifrost pads so if we make it there I can get us down to the city!” TJ had not the foggiest what he was referring to, but he gave a nod of approval nonetheless, or at least, what he thought was one.
    The swordsman gave him a nod and together the two stepped through the gate.

    As the light and the feeling of travelling dimensions subsided, TJ was immediately grabbed by the wrist and realized he and his companion still frantically ran for their lives.
    “Stop kids!” The guard who pursued them shouted. “Unauthorized use of the gate is not allowed!”
    TJ looked from the guard to what lay ahead and his current self was left in shock. It seemed they were at the crown of the World Tree-all across it were branches that were flat on the top that curved and coiled over each other and across the entirety of the crown. They seemed to serve as walkways from where the swordsman intended to go, and where the entrance to the palace's instance lay. Night was beginning to settle in and it made seeing difficult, but despite that fact the two continued on frantically amidst the leaves and branches of Yggdrasil.
    “Here we go!” The swordsman said as he ascended a rising branch and prepared to jump. They landed on one of the lower branches and continued running before they neared a pair of guards who stood around a beam of light. “That's the place! Focus on getting into that, I'll keep 'em busy!”
    TJ gave him an appraising gaze as he released his grasp on his wrist and drew his weapon. The guards looked to each other before they decided the two needed to be apprehended and approached with the thought of disarming the swordsman first. While he engaged the first guard TJ approached the second, and he stood ready and waiting to grab the child. Without a second thought nor concern for his safety, TJ threw himself head-first into the guard's stomach and knocked him to the floor. Before he could get up TJ thrusted his hand into his face and stuck two fingers in his nostrils before he got up and ran into the beam of light.
    The swordsman stopped before the guard and looked up to him with unease in his eyes.
    “Look kid, I'm not gonna hurt you, so just put down the sword and I'll take you back to the Warlord alright?” The guard suggested with an affable grin.
    In turn for his offer he was hit in the shin by the sword and stepped on as the boy made a mad dash to regroup with his companion.
    Once the two were together he razzed them, pulled his eyelid down and laughed. As the guards got back to their feet the swordsman raised a hand skyward and shouted, “Come on Heimdall!” A rainbow beam of light surged forth from the sky and engulfed the two, and as it rose back into the sky left no trace of their being there or their leaving.

    Moments lafter the beam of light came down in the upper echelons of the city and released the two. TJ found himself hanging from a wire lined with festival decorations while his swordsman companion held onto the eaves of a building. Right afterwards he lost his grip on it and fell onto a shop's canopy and onto the ground from there.
    “That's gonna leave a mark...” He groaned as he rubbed his nose. He looked around for his partner in crime but did not seem him. He looked up and caught a glimpse of exactly what was underneath the chef's coat, and saw not just the dress but also everything that was not meant to be seen by others. He sputtered as he covered his eyes. “W-what're you doing?! Don't you wear anything underneath your dress?!
    He shook his head rapidly to get both the sight and thought out of his mind. “A-anyway! Just let go of the wire and I'll catch you okay?” TJ looked at him and he frowned. “If you don't change your expression how am I supposed to know what you're thinking? Come on, we gotta hurry or they're gonna catch us!”
    TJ let go of the wire as his swordsman companion held out both arms to which he caught the child with some success, albeit clumsily. The two lay one toppled over the other.
    “Urrgh...now I see why we're not allowed to use the Bifrost ourselves...the teachers make it look so easy. Stupid teachers...stupid Heimdall.” He muttered under his breath as TJ looked at him. “...W-what?
    TJ patted him on the head before he rose to his feet. His face flushed again and he frowned. “Somehow you make everything a hundred times more embarassing. I dunno what you did to get on the kingdom's bad side, but if the princess doesn't like it, we're on her side.” He got to his feet and dusted himself off. “We're knights in training for the castle but our main focus is to be good enough to be the princess' guards when we graduate. Name's...nice to meet'cha!”
    At what seemed to be his name the Sound of Frequency came and drowned it out...but why? Was TJ not meant to know his name? For what reason? If he had a physical body outside of his past selve's currently, he would have crossed his arms, but at this point he had to settle with what he had done in the past, and that was to take the boy's hand and run through the streets.
    Nevertheless, the idea of being unable to know exactly who he was vexed him greatly, but there was a very high possibility it was someone he knew. The hair, the eyes, even the mole on his cheek, and to add to that, a straw hat that was clearly too big for him...at the thoughts TJ felt a pain in his heart. Worry, fear, longing...there were an immeasurable amount of things he felt at the sight of him and the possibility it was his friend of the past muddled them all into something he could not begin to express, let alone understand. Those emotions...were they his? Did they belong to him now, or to his past self?
    As he looked upon these events now, he felt so close, and yet at the same time so far from who he used to be it felt like a whole different lifetime. And yet...why was the joy he felt beneath it all so familiar?
    “Just follow me. I'll get you out of town in one piece!” The hand that held TJ's and the smiling face of its owner warmed his heart. “It's a knight's duty to help the citizens and save damsels in distress you know! I might not be a knight but I'm working my way up to becoming a hero so you and the princesses can count on me!”
    As they pressed forward searchlights turned on all over and scoured the city as they made their way down the streets.
    From where they were, it seemed that they were in the upper echelons of the city, and there were a series of walls that acted as checkpoints to each portion extending further out, up until all that lay beyond was a path and the wilderness.
    The two took cover in an alleyway as a pair of guards ran by talking about capturing the two. Straw Hat peeked out of the alleyway and continued on with TJ in tow. They made their way down the street, hiding in the shadows and just barely out of sight of the searchlights. Civilivians in grand dresses, robes and tunics in all colours of the rainbow passed by and gave them odd and puzzled looks while some called them urchins, but Straw Hat paid them little mind.
    “Over here, I know a shortcut.” Straw Hat said to him as he lead him into another alleyway.
    The two stopped at a metal fence and the boy climbed up to the top before he reached over to the other side. After he tinkered with it for a couple of moments the gate swung open and pushed him against the wall as he awkwardly climbed down.
    “This isn't the shortcut, but we're getting there. Come on!”
    The two made their way through the gate and he closed it quietly afterwards before they made their way into someone's backyard.
    The current TJ was absolutely mortified by the series of events that played out.
    “This old couple, old man and old woman Colbertson live here. They're always causing all sorts of trouble for the knights of the palace. They call them all the time to exterminate pests and stuff.” Straw Hat explained as he stopped at an average looking spot in the garden next to a hedge and began to pull on the grass. With a bit more force a small bit of the ground was removed from the rest which revealed a hole. “Ta da! Nice huh? Me and the guys dug this hole out for sneaking past the checkpoints and stuff when we're late for class! Anyway come on, and make sure to put it back when we're done so the Colbertsons don't notice it.” At those words he climbed into the hole with ease and crawled forward.
    TJ looked to the hole and to the dirt before he followed his companion. He took the cover of dirt and placed it over the hole, removing any semblance of light as he chased after his companion.
    It was not long before the two emerged at another entrance/exit. They climbed out and closed it back after before they continued on with their escape.
    “They've got guards on both sides of the checkpoint so we can't charge past them again. They might use weapons on us and I dunno if my wooden sword can even...well, hold out against a real sword,” He muttered sullenly.
    “But we were ready for that too.” He walked over to another patch of grass and pulled it out before he signalled TJ to follow him once more.
    The two made their way to the end, and at the exit Straw Hat rolled something out of the way. As TJ emerged after him he looked to the rather large rock that was used to cover the hole, and then to the massive wall what once looked much smaller from a distance.
    “One wall cleared, two to go!” Straw Hat told him with a grin.

    Where they were seemed to be a district of sorts-though the buildings were not as grand or ornate as the previous ones, they still held a certain amount of elegance and regality that one would expect in this portion of the city. Since they were a fair distance away from the main streets and districts, it seemed awfully empty, but it was likely because it was homes of citizens and at night. There were less search lights that scoured the city there also, and it allowed for the two to take a breather.
    As they walked forward through the streets, Straw Hat checked every corner before he proceeded and made sure to travel through alleyways that lead to different districts so that they could confuse any potential followers.
    “You know,” He began, “I think we actually lucked out today. If the palace got serious with their defenses, they could've blown us sky high ages ago. They didn't put too many guards on the case, use the castle's defenses or even call out the royal guard.
    They've got these freaky things that they ride and I hear they're the best of the best, so they defend the royal family. I've seen the captain once, but he was nowhere near as terrifying as the Warlord. Everytime we wind up late for class he puts us through hell...”
    They made their way into another of the residential districts and stopped at one of the houses.
    “This is my place. We didn't make a hole for getting to the lower class districts so we're gonna have to use one of the gates but I've got an idea. Wait for me here okay?
    TJ sat down on one of the steps that lead into the house and afterwards Straw Hat returned with a long coat, a fedora, a scarf and a pair of shades. “My pass can only get me through and you're too short and don't look anything like my dad, so we're gonna use his pass and disguise as a really tall guy!
    “I read about it in a Handy Boys book! It's this series of books about these two boys who go on all sorts of adventures and do cool stuff and solve mysteries...” He put the shades and scarf on TJ and the hat over his head. “Anyway enough about that. The gate's not too far from here so we'll put it on when we're closer.”
    At those words the two went a bit further, past a few houses and a couple of civilians who glanced but paid them little mind, and eventually just a block or so away from the gate to the next portion of the city.
    Once they reached there Straw Hat got on his knees and looked to TJ who gave him a puzzled stare in turn.
    “Alright now you put on the coat and get on my shoulders. Hold onto this too, and show it to the guards when we get there alright?” He gave TJ the pass and coat.
    As requested TJ got onto his shoulders and Straw Hat buttoned it up before he took hold of TJ's legs, while he squirmed the moment hands touched his bare feet. He had to hold on to his calves so he would hold still.
    “Remain as still as possible alright? Here we go...”
    Straw Hat began to walk and the two awkwardly made their way towards the gate where a few others who also were passing beween sectors did so also. Once they reached their destination, which Straw Hat could see by peeking through a small hole between buttons, he stopped and cleared his throat.
    “Hello there gentlemen,” He began in a terribly masked, deep voice, “I am just on my way to Sector A! Now if you would be so kind...”
    The guard gave the two a blank stare as he accepted the pass and looked from it to the stranger who gave it to him. “Hmm...seems everything checks out. Here you are sir. Have a wonderful evening.” He handed it back and TJ awkwardly grasped at it. He fumbled it and an arm reached out from within the coat to pull it back in.
    “Why thank you! Gotta be careful with those passes...hohoho it would certainly be a problem if I was to lose mine! Well then gentleman, I shall be on my way!” At those words the two clambored past and made their way into the nearest alleyway as guards both inside and outside the sector looked on incredulously.
    The second situated at sector C gave his partner a confused look as he asked, “Are you sure we should've let those kids through? I mean, that disguise couldn't be any more obvious...”
    He chuckled and shrugged. “Kinds do this stuff all the time. Honestly, I'd rather they come up with some kind of disguise and get past us than dig more holes in the ground and people's gardens. You know how higher-ups can be about that stuff, especially when the Aristocrats get fussy...”
    TJ could hear no more than that since the two got out of earshot but nonetheless they had made it through with their...underwhelming disguise.

    “This is the last sector. If we make it through here, you and I are home free. We made another tunnel at the far southeastern edge of the sector so we've just gotta head over there. Follow me, and be quiet.” Straw Hat explained as he placed a finger to his lips and continued on.
    They continued down a more rundown looking part of the city-it felt a tad reminiscent of the Old Town District in Elias, but there were many people that lived in it still, and though not as grand as the other districts the living conditions seemed fine nonetheless. The houses were smaller and there were less buildings, but it still felt homely nonetheless. He could not help but think of Belos, and the people who lived there he had come to know at the start of his journey. Perhaps someday he would return to it and see them, but for the time being there were more pressing concerns.
    As they continued on they saw a man approaching with some sort of cart, it seemed.
    “Squirrelopes! Get your squirrelopes here, fresh and hot!” He shouted as he rolled the cart along.
    TJ could not help but wonder what on Midgard a squirrelope was-and then he remembered. He was not on Midgard. It seemed that Asgard had its own breed of animals or creatures, and perhaps Agasura. Or was it infested with them? He had not the foggiest as of yet.
    The two turned away from the vendor and made their way down another street, guided by the moonlight. They continued on through alleyways, past kittens with hooves and dogs that had five or more tails in place of a face. The city seemed like a circus for those who had not been there previously.
    Since there were fewer guards on patrol in Sector A they were able to pass through the main streets with relative ease towards the final wall and where the tunnel Straw Hat and friends made awaited.
    “You see that spot? It's right over there.” He said as he pointed in the general direction of where they wanted to be, and TJ nodded solemnly.
    As they proceeded towards the sounds of something approaching along with rapid footsteps threw them off. From around the corner, at the end of the district a creature with a long snout, tiny sharp teeth and scales emerged. It had long legs, feet with three toes and a long tail.
    Upon it sat a massive man adorned in armour that matched the palace's colours with a broadsword over his back. He had dark green hair and bushy eyebrows that made him look angry(or perhaps he was angry), with a scar across his right eye.
    “Oh crap...Warlord Turk. This way!” Straw Hat took TJ and turned in the opposite direction before he found himself pincered in by the others. “Surrounded huh? You know, I don't think we can fight our way out of this o-whoa!” Straw Hat was lifted from the ground by the tank top courtesy of the Warlord.
    “You might've evaded the others, but you didn't think I wouldn't know when you were making a break for it?” The Warlord laughed, but it almost sounded like a pleased roar. “Come on, how many of my classes do you think you and your friends have skipped out on? If you're gone, I'll know.”
    TJ looked on, his expression unchanging but there was almost a helplessness in it. He ran over to the Warlord and hit his leg armour with his fists before he frantically jumped to reach his companion. His efforts though, were to no avail.
    “So this is him, huh? Makes me wonder how a pair of kids evaded the castle's guard and escaped. They've got no powers or nothing. It's almost cute how harmless he is.” The Warlord said as he grinned. “Alright boys, get 'em. But try not to hurt him would you? He might hit you, but other than that, well I'm sure you guys could handle yourselves. I'll take care of this stubborn one.” Straw Hat gave him an annoyed glare but he only received a victorious grin in response.
    TJ stopped jumping and looked to the guards who approached and back to the Warlord who held his companion captive. He furrowed his brows for a moment, then placed both hands to his chest as he opened his mouth. Much to all of their surprise, he sang.
    They all traded confused glances, even the Warlord who stared on incredulously at the event.
    “Huh...and they said he had no voice. This'll surprise the higher-ups,” He muttered.
    Suddenly a powerful gust of wind forced them all back as TJ's eyes flickered to blue and a mark appeared on his forehead-one that looked like an eight-pointed star or a sunburst, but the contours of it seemed to deviate too much to give it one specific shape.
    “Everyone, capture him now before he can cast!”
    TJ placed his hands together before he put a single leg forward and placed his left hand over his right, palms facing outwards. A sphere of light surrounded him and surged forth outwards with a second powerful gust. Once the light subsided he lowered his hands and took a few deep breaths.
    Straw Hat was dropped to the floor, but other wise unaffected by the spell. All of the guards and the Warlord remained frozen in place, seemingly dazed by the effect.
    “I dunno what you did just there...” Straw Hat began, “but it was super cool!” He looked to the Warlord who remained mounted on his creature with his mouth agape and his eyes unblinking. “We should probably use this chance to escape huh? Come on!”
    He took TJ by the hand as the mark faded and his eyes turned brown once more, taking up their usual shuttered appearance.
    The two continued on just a bit further and Straw Hat pulled out another patch of dirt and insisted TJ climb in first. As he looked back, expecting his companion to follow him in, he found nothing.
    “This is as far as I go. I live here...and I belong here. As much as it sucks home's home, you know? But this isn't your home. I dunno where you came from, but I hope you can find your way back. So what I want you to do now is run...as far as you can! Good luck out there...and it was crazy fun while it lasted!” Straw hat said as he smiled from the outside and closed the hole back up.
    It was only a matter of moments that the guards had come to and clamored for the capture of Straw Hat as he began an escape to throw them off TJ's trail.
    TJ made his way through the tunnel and to the other side, where the moment he climbed out of the hole and sealed it back, he broke out into an immediate sprint. To what destination, he had not the slightest clue but he ran as quickly as he could with all the migt he could muster in his body, and into the heart of a forest that rested just on the outskirts of the city.
    He ran as far as he could, his breaths became more frequent but proved to not be enough and he fell into the grass. His feet ached and were bruised, he was completely exhausted and hungry, and could go no further, so he let himself remain where he lay. His journey would continue when he had the strength to do so. When that would be, he had not the foggiest, but for the time being a moment or two to rest and regain his stamina sounded like a good idea to him.

    When he awoke the smell of food roused him from his slumber and brought his sense of smell to the forefront of them all. His stomach growled and his eyes flickered open as the urge to follow the scent overpowered him. He looked around him and found himself in an unfamiliar room but paid it little mind-from what he did see, it seemed to be a living room of sorts and he was laid out upon a couch with a nice blue blanket covering his worn-out body. He got up and shook off his sleepiness before he made his way through the house.
    He found himsself in a corridor that had a stairwell to the upper floor, a couple of pictures on a wall and an open doorway to another room at the end of it. A short distance behind him was the front door, and to his left another open doorway. He made his way through the left door and came into a fancier looking room than the first with a table, a chandelier hanging above it and a set of seats around it. There was a couch and a couple of seats, but it was not quite where he wanted to be.
    TJ saw through the eyes of his past self, but unlike Amae he did not hear his own thoughts-perhaps it was because he was not reliving the memory of her but actually experiencing things as he had. The experiences he had during those times, the pain, the feel of his friends' hands, and all the places he traversed, but the thoughts all belonged to his current self. So what exactly was his past self searching for? The reason for the scent? Whatever it was, it did smell good, and oddly familiar.
    He made his way through the dining room and into another doorway that connected it with the previous corridor, the two leading into the kitchen.
    There he had found a young lady stirring a pot as she quietly hummed a song. She tasted a bit of the soup she made before she smiled and gave it a nod of approval. She was an average sized, slender girl with curly violet hair just barely tamed by a white bandana. She wore a tan apron with a myriad of flowers splayed across it, a baby blue tank top and white pajama pants with a pink polka dot design.
    At the sound of his approach she turned her head to see the child peering around the corner. At the sight of him her eyes crinkled and a wide smile spread across her face. “Good to see yer' awake lil' one. I was worried about 'cha.” He blinked solemnly as she put the ladle down and crouched down to meet his height. “Well, come'n out, no need to be so shy! I won't bite 'cha.” He came out of hiding and the two appraised each other.
    She gave a nod as if she came to a realization. “Yep, ya' look just like 'im. Been hearin' the kingdom's been in a right mess over one little boy and here ya' are in the flesh n' blood.
    “Yer' prob'ly wonderin' what yer' doin' here ain't 'cha?” I found 'ya lyin' out in the forest with a grumblin' tummy.” She laughed gently, the sound a heart-warming lilt. “Was just collectin' some greens and I found 'ya there collectin' dust so I took 'ya home. You don't got nowhere to stay do 'ya? I'll take 'ya in so long as you keep it a secret yeah?”
    He nodded solemnly and she gave him a pat on the head.
    “Alright, grab a seat lil' one. It'll be ready in a hot minute.”
    He took a seat at the table as suggested and shortly after she brought some soup over in a bowl.
    “Careful. It's pretty hot.” She sat down at the other table as he took a taste and burned himself. He did not cry out, but he winced for a good few moments during and after the event.
    “Don't say I didn't warn 'ya.” She laughed gently. “Not the type to say much, are ya'? Well ain't no problem.
    “Guess it's a bit late fer that but lemme' introduce myself to ya'. Names Yuna. I run this here traveller's bar, though it hasn't seen too many customers lately. But that ain't no problem.
    She smiled gently. “Used to just be me here. Was thinkin' of gettin me one of them...broog? Keep me company an' clean the house,” She laughed bitterly. “But I think a runaway would make for much better company.”
    TJ had never seen any memories with her in them, which was truly a shame. Even so, the kindness she had shown him despite his being a stranger and an escapee left him both both shocked and impressed. Were all Cerebians like this? Was she too, not putting herself in danger by giving him shelter?
    There was a sudden knock at the door and Yuna raised an eyebrow at the sound as she waited for a moment.
    “That ain't no 'venturer that I know. All the regulars know the door's unlocked.”
    She turned her focus to TJ. “We ain't got no time to waste. “Ya'll better hide. Don't matter where, under the bed, in the closet, any place'll do. Just don't let 'em see ya'.”
    Yuna got to her feet and made her way to the front door. The moment she placed her hand to the doorknob she heard the knocking again and froze.
    TJ's thought process came to a sudden halt then too, as he watched his past self follow Yuna to the door and hold on to the back of her tank top. Was it possible...that he was afraid?
    “I told ya' to hid-”
    Before Yuna could finish issuing him a warning the sound of the guards knocking at the door as they shouted, “By the order of the king, you must open this door or we shall come in by force!”
    “Hel's bells we're in a real pickle lil' one. Well, nothin' to it than.” Yuna muttered under her breath. She scooped TJ into her arms and stuffed him into her tank top. Holding his body with one hand and opening the door with the other she addressed the guards who came in search of him.
    Before her there was a man and woman, both wearing the silver armour with the kingdom's herald. The first of them was a male Temple Knight who carried a one-handed sword at his hip and a shield on his back “Hello, we are guards of the kingdom in search of a certain escaped fugitive. We have reason to suspect that he has escaped the capital and has hidden himself somewhere within the surrounding forests.”
    “And that's how we found ourselves here,” His partner began, “we've got men and women searching the forest but he could have hidden himself in this house, so by our permit we're going to search it.” His companion carried a pair of swords at her waist-a Blader.
    “What kinda snot eatin', flea-riddled-” Yuna was mad-she sounded the part, and the glare she gave them certainly said she was not fond of the kingdom.
    “We're coming in.” The Blader continued before the two pushed their way in.
    They began by searching the dining room-every nook and cranny, they checked. They opened the cupboards, checked under the couches and tables and past the curtains before they did a final sweep and moved into the next room.
    “Look, I ain't no part of the kingdom. They wanted us out, and we left. Now ya'll are bustin' into my house in search of a child? Can't people have any privacy 'round here?”
    “If there is a chance that he is here, we will find him. Unresolved issues will only bring civil unrest, and in so doing act as the sparks of lighting the fire to civil war. We do whatever it takes to keep the peace.”
    “I never said I wanted any of yer peace!”
    “The needs of the many outweight the needs of the few. Try to understand.” The blader remarked as she opened the stove and looked inside.
    After they found no signs of TJ they continued their crusade into the living room and Yuna turned away solemnly. Her stomach quivered and she patted it gently.
    “Hang in there lil' one. I'll protect ya'.”
    TJ's heart felt heavy-both for his past self and for his guardian. It seemed that no matter where he went, trouble seemed to follow him. As he saw through his eyes, his fists clenched, holding to the inside of Yuna's tank top. He was courageous to have made it this far, but perhaps deep down there was a lingering fear that he did not, or could not voice or show. Perhaps it had been there all along, but the strength and willingness of his friends to come to his aid in that time of need gave him the strength to move forward. Despite how many yeards had passed, had that fact changed at all?
    Every sacrifice, every tear he shed as he watched his companions fall and get hurt in his stead, he remembered. So much had been lost between what he saw now and the current time, but he wanted to see it all no matter how painful it was so he could understand his friends in their entirety-so that he could love them for all that they had been through, both for him, and themselves.
    More than anything, he wanted to see Peorth's story, and their relationship. She may have carried the greatest burden of all being right in the center of it all and yet she still lead Yggdrasil as a stalwart leader. Who was it that made her cry, and why? He would continue to watch over her in the present, and seek out all that he could come to know about her in the past. It was the least he could do for her, and for Yggdrasil.
    Yuna continued on into the living room briefly after they finished their search in it, and realized that nothing had turned up. They muttered something to each other before they made their way upstairs.
    As one would expect, it had a master bedroom and a couple spare rooms with a washroom. They searched the guest bedrooms seperately, likely suspecting that TJ would likely be sleeping within one of the two if not hiding in it and their search proved to end empty-handedly. They reconvened and both shook their heads before they entered the master bedroom.
    Yuna wiped the sweat from her brow as they rummaged through her things. They tossed the bedsheets from the bed, emptied the pillowcases and checked beneath and inside of her loveseat.
    TJ could not help but notice that her hold on him was slipping and before long he slipped out from his hiding location and collapsed upon the pillows. The sound did not alert either guard, but Yuna flew into a panic. She wrapped him up in the blanket and hurled it on top of a wardrobe before she eyed the guards with apprehension.
    They both gave her confused glances as she picked up her pillows and snarled, “Got a problem? I sleep on these ya' know. Just throwin' my things all on the floor like that. I should call the guards on ya'.”
    They traded weary glances before they continued their search and she let out a sigh of relief quietly.

    After they searched the entirety of the house they made their way back downstairs to the front door.
    “We have concluded that the escaped fugitive is not on this premises.” The Temple Knight said before his eyes sharpened. “Currently. With that clear, we will depart without any further interruption. We apologize for bothering you.”
    “If we catch word that you're hiding that kid, we'll be back. Don't get any ideas.” The Blader muttered harshly.
    “Wouldn't even dream of it.” Yuna added before she met the glare with one of her own.
    They left the house and she shut the door behind them as she muttered obscenities about the kingdom. She went back upstairs and unfurled the blanket, causing TJ to roll out of it silently.
    “Sorry I had to handle ya' so roughly lil' one, but I'd bet ya'd prefer that over a life in prison wouldn't 'cha?” He blinked solemnly and she smiled.
    “Well yer safe now so don't you worry. I might not look like much but I know a few things about self-defense. I won't let some overblown, pompous, castle dogs lay a hand on a hair on yer' pretty little head.
    “Now then, since all the excitement's over I've gotta say we worked up a real sweat huh? Let's go wash up an' get somethin' to eat yeah?”
    She showed him to the bathroom and unbuttoned the chef's apron as she eyed it curiously. “Where on Midgard did ya' get your hands on this? Yer' more incredible than you look.” She laughed gently as she removed it and took the dress off.
    She blinked, then chuckled under her breath. “Well...guess there's a lot the castle don't know about you.” She smiled as she placed a finger to her lips. “But that'll be our secret. Now off you go.” She scooted him towards the bathtub as she said something about putting the clothes away to wash later.
    Soon she returned and picked him up before putting him inside of the tub. She turned on the water and they both got splashed by water, only one of the two complained about it though, but they both wound up shuddering.
    Yuna filled the bathtub and sat down with him in it as she washed his hair.
    “I'm sorry ya' had to hear me talk like that lil' one. My family and the kingdom ain't been on the best terms in some time. My dad used to be one of their soldiers. My grandparents' pride and joy he was. During the Asgardian War he found a kid crying alone and left his squad to get the kid off of the battlefield. They stripped him of his title and his rank and called him a deserter.” Her hands stopped moving and as TJ turned to her he saw her downcast eyes and got a good glimpse of her body, much to his present self's dismay. He turned to her and patted her on the head.
    She looked surprised, and then her lips curled into a smile. “You comfortin' me? Ain't ya just the sweetest thing.
    “Alright turn around, I ain't done washin' yer' hair just yet, and ya' got a lot of it.
    “So how does the story end? Well...they kicked us out of the city. Prob'ly to save face among the other knights. Those guys ridiculed us for what my dad did, but we know the truth. Us, and the girl he saved. Her parents didn't make it, but she's got some relatives who took her in. As for us, well my parents came out here and built this house. It ain't much but I've called it home since. They chose to move back to the country when the time came for retirement but I decided to stay and continue the traveller's bar goin'. For those 'venturers who can't can't find a place to call home. My door's always open.”
    She washed the soap from his hair and got up. “Let's finish washin' up and towel off yeah? I'll give you somethin' nice after dinner.”

    As day turned to night TJ sat out on a small veranda at the back of the house as he watched his top and the chef's coat he wore swaying in the wind. He looked up to the starry sky where the moon hung gently. Unlike in the city, the stars were as clear as day and quite a lovely sight at that. He laid back and stared up solemnly at a sky that seemed as if it could suck him in.
    Yuna came outside shortly after and sat down next to him with a bowl of fruit.
    “Guess things are gonna get a bit lively 'round here huh?” She asked affably. TJ looked to her and tilted his head while she beamed. “Welcome to the family lil' one.”
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sat Nov 28, 2015 3:08 pm

    GAL Chapter 2(310-314):
    God Ah's Larghissimo: Act II-Temperantia
    Once more TJ was surrounded by a teeming darkness-and suddenly a piercing light removed it all and brought TJ to a familiar location. It was that place he had once been where Lady Amae met with the young lady Orpha, and the Child of Light? This time they were not here, but in their stead there was a familiar man and a wisp of light that reminded him of the Child of Light.
    The first was a tall, slender man with spiky shoulder-length black hair, sharp crimson eyes and a snaggletooth that hung from the top half of his mouth. He wore a silver circlet, a matching choker with a blue gem, and a long coat. The coat was navy blue with the pieces of cloth at the back hanging down to his feet-it had an ornate silver design that extended from the hems of it across it's entirety, and silver chains that cheld it together. He wore black pants with a matching design and low cut boots.
    But it was not the outfit that drew TJ's attention most-it was his features. The half shuttered eyes and the colour of the irises, the white streak in his black hair, even the snaggletooth-they were the same features that Gula and Avaritia had, and TJ obtained! Was that Asmodeus?! If his appearance was any indication it had to be him, but what was he doing with Amae and the Child of Light?
    “Tell me Father, what is it that you intend for me to learn from Humanity? They are little else above slightly more evolved animals. I have little reason to take up the journey and grace them with my presence,” He sighed under his breath. “I understand that you have a fascination with them, as does Amae but I do not share your sympathies.”
    ...Father? TJ found himself all sorts of confused at this juncture. Did the way he address that wisp mean that it was indeed, their parent? Even though he did not understand the circumstances he could not believe it.
    As Amae turned to the wisp a sudden feeling overcame him-one of great power, and one that implied that the being before him was one that should be neither underestimated, nor misunderstood. It was nothing like the Child of Light. It exerted power constantly, and its very presence seemed to dwarf TJ's existence. He found himself at a complete loss, and his train of thought instantly came to a sudden and grinding halt. What was that thing before them?!
    “There are many lessons Amae has learned that you too, must see for yourself to come to know. You understand, do you not?” The wisp asked.
    The voice was commanding, but sounded neither male nor female. It seemed even in Amae's thoughts, there was no distinct gender to it, and going by sound alone TJ could not fathom which it was either. The tone did not betray this fact in the slightest, and he felt even more doubt in his heart at the sound of it.
    “I do not. Humanity is nothing more than a group of lesser beings who rely on the resources of Midgard to survive. Unlike many of the other creatures upon it, they hunt and gather to survive, and have risen above the ecosystems that were in place prior to their arrival. If there is anything that can be learned from them, I suspect that it is that they pose a threat to Midgard as it is.”
    “Adonai, you and Amae are both beings that reign over the nine worlds, but I have you examining only one of them. That which has a myriad of creatures upon it that exist both in harmony, and in chaos. Your existences govern these very things. Amae governs over life-she created man in that image and populated the world with plants and creatures to inhabit it. You govern over death-those that have fallen to the hands of another, their soul is collected and released once more to be born anew. You must decide when the time is ripe for people and collect their souls to continue the cycle, but you almost decide when to initiate Ragnarok, and why.”
    Adonai crossed his arms. “Are you saying that you have doubts in my judgement? I may have come into being after my sister, but the fact remains that you had created me, and the knowledge you have instilled in me far surpasses that of Humanity. As you said, we reign over the nine worlds-the Midgardians, the Jotun, nor the Svartalfar have greater knowledge than we. This journey is one that I strongly believe is unnecessary.”
    “You are letting your pride get the better of you Adonai. I do not doubt your judgement, but I believe once you have completed this journey, you will.
    “To an immortal such as yourself, death and reincarnation may seem a small price to pay, but the end times are not to be taken lightly. I have no more words for you. Be on your way.”
    Adonai knit his eyebrows as Amae turned to him. “Let us go Adonai. I do understand your reason for hesitation, but I strongly believe that you will develop a greater affinity for the Midgardians once you have seen the world for yourself. Humans are a very fascinating species. Come, let us be on our way.” She told him before she smiled brightly.
    “Remember Amae, that you must not reveal yourself to Humanity in your current form. They may know of us, but they may not know that we are among their numbers. We must monitor them, but not directly influence them or it may change their world dramatically.”
    “Your will shall be done.” Amae answered as she curtsied. “Shall we go Adonai?”
    “I suppose. Show me the way.” He answered as he closed his eyes and approached.
    She spread her wings and he did also, eight beautiful feathered appendages emerged from behind him, and by Amae's shadow the same could be seen.
    The two shot skyward and as they did there was a strange ripple across what TJ thought was the sky. As they rose ever higher they pierced what seemed like a veil and appeared above the crown of the World Tree.
    This surprised him greatly. In this time period, Asgard was completely uninhabited. Where the capital city was further in time, there was grass and trees, and even a river that ran through to another portion of the world. What now belonged to the Cerebians was also once nature-it seemed that sometime afterwards they came and settled in. The event must have taken place long after Amae created the other Cerebians, but seeing it now was hard to fathom.
    As for Adonai, TJ had all sorts of mixed feelings about it. If that strange being of light created Amae and Adonai, who created it? For that matter, who created him? As he looked at Adonai from the corner of Amae's eye, he could not help but wonder what their relationship was. Avaritia considered him a sibling but Gula hated him with an unrelenting intensity for supposedly having Luxuria sealed within him and integrating Avaritia. Was it possible he integrated Luxuria before he regained his memories? That aside, the only thing the two had in common was their hatred for Adonis.
    The children of Asmodeus were the Seven Sinners, and Adonis according to Avaritia. They existed during the time of Amae and her Keruz, including Valkyrie Leigha which was Peorth's ancestor and the first in her clan. They came to be before the Cerebians, and even more so before Asgard was inhabited by them. But at that time also, Adonis existed because he was defeated by Valkyrie Leigha in the Agasuric War. Does that mean TJ too, existed at that time period? But when exactly, and how?
    If what Gula had told him was true, Amae had used the Heart of Yggdrasil to save him. Perhaps that was how it was embedded in his chest-it was the only means to save him after Adonis' defeat by the hands of Leigha. But what was his relationship with Amae? Was it because he was the Abellan that she chose to save him?
    But it also raised the question of why he and Adonis shared a single body.
    And leaving that aside who on Midgard was Adonai if TJ and his siblings were the children of Asmodeus?!
    All the questions he asked threw him for a loop. He was reluctant to put them at the back of his mind due to a lack of answers, but at this juncture what choice did he have? He did not have enough information, memories, or knowledge to figure out exactly what went on that lead to the current day. Nonetheless, it was possible the events he would see in this memory and that which which would follow it would give him some semblance of an idea.
    As the two travelled further and further across the world, they were surrounded by a bright light before they too, turned into spheres-something Amae had done prior.

    In a bright flash of light they had moved from Asgard to Midgard and descended upon the city of Elifius. The two spheres approached and came to a halt on the outskirts of the city and remained there for a brief period.
    “If Father wishes us to disguise ourselves, what do you suggest we do? There is little in my repertoire I could use for such a task, unless you wish for our presence to be hidden entirely,” Adonai said.
    “Fear not. I have devised a method in which we can take up the appearance of Humans so we may come into contact with them.”
    Amae turned to a caravan that was leaving the city and eyed some of the travellers curiously. After a few brief moments the sphere of light she became took form and grew appendages before it dimmed. She took her form as a goddess again before she clasped her hands together. A golden ring appeared above her head and expanded before it descended upon her. Once it had reached the ground it vanished, and she had a completely new appearance-one that matched one of the female travellers with the caravan, and also the appearance she had in the previous memory. Unlike it though, she wore a white tunic and a black skirt along with a pair of leather shoes. The tunic had various markings upon the front, and over it was a lfur vest.
    “You suggest we disguise ourselves as Humans?”
    “It is the most effective way. Come, it is your turn.”
    He sighed before he took form and looked at her with unease. “If only to see this mission through, then I shall abide by your word. I pray that Father is certain about this.”
    Amae beamed. “You must have more faith in him, Adonai.”
    He smiled slightly as a chuckle escaped his lips and he tilted his head in her direction. “If anything I would sooner trust your word over Father's.”
    Perhaps it was just TJ's imagination, but Adonai's pupils looked awfully similar to hearts. Maybe it was just a trick of the light from Amae's eyes.
    She held out a hand and the same event that she had experienced occurred with her sibling. His spiky black hair was tamed and tied back, his eyes were bigger and much less menacing. He had a beard also. He wore a light tan tunic and woolen pants along with sandals, and carried a wood-chopping axe on his back.
    “I suppose this will suffice. Now what means do we have to enter the Human's Instance Dungeon?”
    Amae laughed gently-even in a human form with a matching voice, the sound still held some of her gentle nature. “This is not an Instance Dungeon. I believe that it is called a 'sronghold'. Humans build these to keep out beasts and other Humans from attacking their homes.”
    The two began to walk and Adonai gave her a puzzled glance. “They need to defend themselves from their own kind? For what reason? Are they not satisfied by hunting beasts?”
    “Some prefer greater territory or wish to exert their strength I suppose...but in that regard I am still very unsure. Perhaps it is an instinct?” The goddess placed a finger to her chin thoughtfully while her sibling shrugged. “Nevertheless, it is in these strongholds that many Humans gather! They have a variety of useful goods and foodstuffs that they sell and trade.”
    “They...what?”

    As they entered the city Amae explained the desire for material goods and bartering for said items, both necessary and desired. Afterwards she had gotten on to the topic of adventurers and how they do most of the hunting which they exchange for currency, items, and other goods.
    “So these 'adventurers' are hunters you say? Are not all Humans capable of doing such a task? I see very little difference between them.” Adonai replied as the two made their way through the bustling streets of Elifius.
    As one would expect, there were a myriad of people hailing from all over the realm. Many trained in a variety of trades, from adventuring to farming and everything in between. The city served as host to just about every career imaginable.
    “It is a career. Adventurers take up requests from those who are not trained to do so and they fulfill these for payment. They are a very fascinating group.” Amae explained as she eyed a stall that hawked various baubles promising protection from danger along with strengthening charms.
    “And what makes these adventurers stand out from any other Human?” Adonai asked as he raised an eyebrow.
    Amae placed a finger to her lips. “You must not forget that we are disguised. Using words like “Human” or any mentions of our divinity may reveal us. Nevertheless, the easiest way to find them would be mindful of their outfits and if they carry weapons. There is a pair now.” She pointed to a pair of young men walking side-by-side and laughing together. One of the two carried a broadsword and the other a pair of knuckles at his waist. “Do you see those? That is how they defeat their adversaries.”
    “I am not completely unfamiliar with the concept, Amae.” Adonai gave her a blank gaze.
    “They have been using makeshift weapons since the beginning of time. All that had changed is the form and the materials, but I have little doubt they are more effective than they once were.” He shrugged.
    “I suppose those unusual outfits are meant to protect them from wounds?” His eyes seemed to shift from one adventurer to the next, but he looked bored nonetheless. There was hardly a time where he did not, so Amae had the feeling that he was enjoying himself somewhat. “Such a fragile and meaningless means to protect oneself from the inevitable end. I will never be able to truly fathom why they struggle so. Does the hare don a shell in a vain attempt to protect itself from the snake that would devour it?
    He eyed a lovely silver spear on another adventurer's back and rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “I must confess though their reasons are questionable, their method of creation could serve as a point of interest. Other than that, they are of little intrigue.”
    The goddess checked for a possible clue as to the answer of her brother's interest but could not quite navigate the city yet. “Would you like to find a place that could show you that?”
    He pursed his lips. “Not worthy of the time. What would you suggest is fascinating in this stronghold Amae?”
    Her eyes wandered from one side of the street to the other as she pondered his question. There were a group of adventurers sitting outside a small shop eating what looked like a cooked foodstuff. She was unsure of the method, but they seemed to be enjoying themselves so she was intrigued. Though the two did not need to eat, they could if they so desired. All the more reason to since their bodies currently looked and acted like that of a Human's.
    She caught a glimpse of a pastry shop and eyed the bread solemnly for a few moments before she took Adonai's hand and pulled him into the store.
    Behind the counter a young lady with blonde hair tied in a ponytail by a flower hairband and bright blue eyes waved at them. She wore a dark blue tunic and a white apron over it.
    “Hello there. How can I help you today?” She asked with a shopkeeper's grace.
    “We are curious about your foodstuffs!” The goddess answered, her eyes sparkling. The shopkeeper raised an eyebrow as she solemnly appraised her.
    Adonai picked up a bun. “This is a foodstuff you say? So this is a location that produces them, and these...beings, 'eat' them?” He raised the bun to his mouth and the shopkeeper's eyes darted to him.
    “Take a bite out of that and you are buying it mister!”
    “Buying it...you say? How does one...buy?”
    “We already went over that,” Amae added hurriedly.
    The shopkeeper knit her eyebrows. “You two are not from around these parts are you? Though I suppose a foreigner or two is not such an unusual sight around Elifius,” She laughed.
    She took a paper bag from the other side of the counter and put a couple loaves of breads and buns inside of it as the two divine beings watched with keen curiosity. “Just this once, I will give them to you on the house!”
    She waved a finger at Adonai. “But the next time you visit, I expect you to buy twice the amount I have given you today, understood?” She handed the bag to a baffled looking Amae. Following that she turned back to Adonai. “You can keep that one. Please come again!” She pushed them out and returned to her station.
    Amae looked down to the bag and then to her brother who solemnly took a bite out of the bun he picked up. “That was...a surprise.”
    He slowly turned his head to meet her gaze, but his expression remained unchanging. “Quite.” As he swallowed there was a slight pause. “Tell me, Amae, what does 'on the house' mean exactly?”
    She blinked. “I...I do not know.”
    He looked back to the shopkeeper who seeemed to be writing something down with a quill and ink. His lips curled into a smile as his eyes focused on her. “Humans are...certainly fascinating.”
    The goddess' entire demeanour brightened. Any more than that and she would likely begin to shine, which she was wont to do with her usual appearance. “I agree whole-heartedly! Would you like to see more?”
    His expression immediately returned to the usual bored scowl. “No, I am rather satisfied. I shall return to the heavens now. Do as you will, Amae.” He performed a heel-face turn and immediately made his way towards the entrance that they used to come in.
    Thoughts of calling out to him as he skulked off came to mind for a moment, but she opted out for letting him go. It was unlike him to show any particular interest in anything, even his own given task. The fact that he showed the slightest reaction to her was fasinating to her.
    The matter aside, it seemed she had some semblance of an idea on the inner workings of Humanity, but she still had much to learn, including the ways they speak.

    After a brief walk through Elifius Amae exited the city and made her way out of the sight of Humans so she could take off without drawing attention.
    Adonai's previous question about the making and forging of weapons and armour still . From what she had heard, they uses minerals, animal leather and plants to form a variety of armour and weapons. She was rather curious how Humanity could turn a rock into chainmail or plate without the use of magic.
    As far as minerals go, adventurers suggested that if she was to seek them out the best place to begin would be Midgard's Desert. Supposedly there were many caves and various mineral deposits in it and made it a popular location for potential miners.
    With that thought in mind, perhaps she could find the answer to her question? There was one certain way to find out, and she had time to spare. God Ah had no particular tasks for her to do.
    She picked up a bun and took a bite of it before she smiled with delight. She read that it was 'honeyed milk bread' in the shop window and found the taste wonderful. Perhaps she would return again, perferably with currency to uphold her promise with the shopkeeper.
    With that thought in mind and bun in hand she set out once more.

    She touched down near a small desert city and stole a glimpse at a traveller who wore a desert cloak, gladiator sandals and a dress that covered the entirety of her body. After she vanished from sight Amae immediately took up the same outfit while retaining her previous physical aspects, then examined herself in a mirror of light she created.
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    TJ

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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sat Nov 28, 2015 4:10 pm

    Gods and gods and then some more gods...:
    "Why doesn't TJ wear any underpants?" That's what you wanna ask isn't it? Why? Because underpants are for puny mortals. Like you. Question your mortality. Gods don't need underpants.
    With that said, let's get to it!

    This could contain spoilers, headcanons, and potential answers to questions you haven't thought yet. Read at your own risk.
    For Clarity:
    Quick facts to establish long-standing problems!
    1)The reason that their escape was so easy was because, like Straw Hat said, the kingdom didn't go all out. Or they'd kill them both. There are all sorts of magical defenses around the castle, and of course they could have sent more guards after him, but I don't think you sic the CIA on three children now would you?
    2)I know it's similar to the previous chapter. This was intentional! I mentioned it when I wrote it-I got the virtues mixed up and I'd have to fix them later. This is me. Fixing them. The problem is that things need to be re-established-explanations of places, of people, and some events. If they lacked them the completed version would be a mess. Obviously, those things will be fixed when I get to chapter 3, but in essence it'll remain the same. Stop heckling me about it.
    3)There's a lot of introductions. I know there is. Why? Because! There's a myriad of reasons sure, but here are the main ones. As one would expect, just as it is with the Sinners and their Instances, and as the title implies, it's focused around the virtue. The events are out of order of course, but you can get a general gist of them as more of them crop up. Lastly, the story is setting up for future events, something I did in FREQUENCY. Foreshadowing, yes! The story unfolds, and it brings more questions for the character, but not always the reader. A tip I read back in my Tumblr days was don't treat your readers like they're stupid, so obvious things I typically don't stress over unless I get stressed over them. I went over this during USSR also, for the record.
    4)As for Yuna, I know her introduction was similar to the first time. Of course it was, but instead the events she mentioned happened. She's got an accent now too. In truth, it might have made her (or my writing)sound a lot more menacing than she is. I don't think I've found her 'voice' yet, so bear with me here. She's really sweet though! My writing of her is just a little rough still.

    MC Rant. Prepare yourself.:
    Now on to another topic. TJ not wearing underpants both was, and wasn't a one-off joke. Seriously. There's symbolic reasons for everything, trust me I know, and I still don't know half of them. What I want you to see and to look over here is both his situation and Amae's. Ask yourself this, "What is it that makes God Ah's family stand out from the others?"
    Have you done it yet? Great. Now here's a couple potential answers. Amae created the Cerebians, and that thought is mentioned in GAL 1. She created them with the intention that they would have more human qualities-to live like them, understand them and become more like them to potentially live side-by-side. Revai and Dolce were examples of that. From the way they dressed to the way they spoke, they could be hidden in plain sight. Compare and contrast that with TJ's case.
    His clothes are unusual. He doesn't even wear shoes for that matter. He doesn't speak, and most of his reactions involve him tilting his head in a confused manner. What TAD does is introduce how he begins to become more human. He learns the head pat from Velvet implying that things will be alright. He learns both fear and courage from Straw Hat, and shows that both in facing off against Turk and having to hide from the guards in search of him. In GAL 3 you can see that Peorth is teaching him to speak, and he does so. His lack of the understanding of humans and Cerebians is why he doesn't feel bothered by his lack of clothing. He hasn't developed a sense of shame as the others have at that point in time.
    Compare that to the current TJ-you can use Ch. 5 as a point of reference, or even some of those from Frequency. It's been many years since that point, and his personality changed entirely. But what hasn't? His understanding of Human/Cerebian emotions. Hence why the CoI arc is so important, and why both Sellistar and Shabur think he and Peorth could use a lesson in love.
    In essence, what I'm saying is he doesn't have the memories or experiences of Amae's Keruz. His had to be developed from scratch, and as you saw before he spent most of his time on the other side of that gate. It wasn't until Peorth brought him out that his story began, and he manifested in their world.
    One last thing on that-with the introduction of Adonai, you get a further glimpse of where TJ gets most of his traits, both physical and emotional, along with all of his siblings. He and Amae are the two sides of the coin for God Ah's family. The story implies that TJ shares traits of both, and as it continues that is further established. It's a point of both import and contingency, and one that is often stressed or shown. It might not be something you think much of, but the inner workings of it are complex, and TJ's confusion further establishes that fact. Trust me, I haven't even gotten to the meat of it and it gets more confusing.

    Now on to the current issue:
    I can read. Some are bored of the constant introductions and the lack of action. I knew it would happen, and no I didn't have a countermeasure for it. Why? Because this is what I had planned to do since I screwed up the first GAL/TAD.
    You've heard me say it before and I'll say it again for clarity's sake. I wrote Frequency once upon a time. It was rough, and it was a half-decent attempt at writing a novel. I wrote USSR, and it was better, but still not up to par. Now I'm writing Sanc and I'm still not pleased with my work. The problem with Frequency was it moved TOO fast. It was a novel, but there wasn't enough time spent actually establishing the characters or building the world. It, in truth was more of a fanfiction than its sequel, and in that regard...no, that would be an excuse. It was lacking, and I'm working on correcting that. Moving on, Sanc does what Freq didn't. I'm establishing the characters, building the world, and foreshadowing properly, all the while tying up the loose ends at a steady pace. Some don't like that, it can't be helped.
    But here's the predicament. It would certainly be easy to just say, "Characters? Fuck 'em! Action! Explosions! Micheal Bay!" No. Not here. No way. There's certainly not a lack of it-there was at least 4-5 large-scale battles in the last chapter, and it hints at another one in the next chapter. But that aside, what I want you to see is that if you lean too much to one side or the other, the story suffers. Everyone has a reason they fight for. If they didn't, it wouldn't make any sense. If they did and you didn't have the foggiest as to why, there'd be no connection between you and the character in the spotlight.
    Frequency did what it was meant to do-it set up Sanctuary and the characters of it. But it didn't tell what their story was. Straw Hat, Velvet, Ardoss, all of them appeared in it, but they were nothing more than mysterious figures, and/or friends of Peorth. But why? Sanctuary answers that, and continues the story. Inno actually told who they were but...well that's a spoiler. You might already know but I won't say it here. The same technically could be said for USSR, actually. It introduced Sam and many others, and Sanc continues it. They're not important right now, but they're why Amata joined the party for the two Instances, and why she'll be a recurring character.
    Anyway, in a nutshell, action+logic=good storytelling. Things happen for a reason! Amata could've fried them all and the story would've ended before Avaritia got beat up. Asmodeus would return and it'd be one big GG. Bad end. You know how it goes.

    Now this next part is gonna actually contain spoilers. Guaranteed. This is a terrible habit and no one should ever do it(Seriously, not kosher), but I want this issue to be resolved before I get back to working on the story. I've got more assignments to do than fingers on my hand and I don't have time to be searching for vague answers, so lemme get this out of the way here and now.
    Sanc Going Forward(Spoiler Thread):
    Now there's a simple solution to this problem. I can say, "No, I follow my own path" and continue to write as I have so I can finish up GAL and TAD 2. Here's the ultimatum-I say, "Fine, have it your way) and leave it as is, then move on to chapter 8.

    What is chapter 8? Well chapter 8 will continue where 7 left off. Peorth and TJ join the fight. Freya is finally gonna make her appearance and be a boss and terrible, terrible things will happen. They always do when Choen Palm shows up. What did you expect? I'm also thinking of doing some Peorth Povs. Her and Vanir. For reasons. I can't go too into detail on that, but there might be a flashback and it'll spoil some of the names of the saints like Inno did. I have a lot of headcanon+future event ideas. A lot a lot.

    I'm pretty sure I mentioned somewhere that chapter 8 would introduce the guild union but I might save that for 9. There's gonna be more characters. Seriously. A LOT more. Why? BECAUSE.
    The more serious answer is, USSR and Inno were setting up for big things. Now big things are happening. I mean Choen Palm implanting herself with the HoY is a big deal. There's 3 of them. And she stuck it to her chest for ultimate power. That's a pretty big deal. Anyway, chapter 9 will formally introduce the adult Reina and Alessa, some of the other guilds from the other Havens and potentially...uhh, Lemanin. Possibly. Maybe? Oh also there'll be a character I once scrapped from another story brought back from the grave. Not literally. They're not you know, everyone else in Frequency lol.
    Anyway, there will be action, I can assure you of that. I just doon't want too much to happen without some proper explanation first.

    Before I leave this topic though, I'm gonna spoil the rest of GAL and TAD 2 somewhat. The first part covers Adonai and his introduction, along with Kera's first appearance. You may have guessed that. TAD will cover the aftermath of the events that lead to the demise of Freya and will be Kooh's first meeting with TJ, which will give some backstory to what he saw in Foe Mansion.

    I still have to storyboard all of that though. I actually accidentally deleted them. Well I moved them to my USB and some weird stuff happened and now they're gone forever, so...yeah. No big loss though, I'm just continuing from where I left off. Had to write GAL and TAD 1 from memory though. Pain in the ass.

    Anyway, I'll be keeping an eye out every now and again while I storyboard the future events so if you have a worthwhile 2 cents to put it, go ahead. I'll be watching. I'm always watching.
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    TJ

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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sat Nov 28, 2015 4:34 pm

    Now for the part you don't care about!
    Unrelated Rant:
    I'd feared the last one would go on too long and then I'd wind up having to split it up so I did it myself.

    In truth...well you know how I am. I'm not quite good with my words so...I just wanted to say thanks. To those who read the message and tried their hand at finding an answer or did come to it, and to those who just enjoy my story for what it is, even if it's lackluster. I appreciate you. You are beautiful creatures and though you might not know I exist, I know you do, and I think you're wonderful.
    Now it's getting embarrassing. POINT IS! So long as I'm needed, there's always the slightest chance I'll return. After all, I often go where I'm needed. I might be unnoticeable, but there's a chance I'm around every now and again.
    So yeah...thanks. Really.

    My messages came off as a little rough today-it might be the stress getting the better of me. Either that or it's because I don't really talk to anyone. I just read somewhere or something.
    Now for the unrelated rant! Yay!

    What am I reading? Welcome to Night Vale. It's like listening to the podcast, except it's words in a book and it's beautiful. I could hear the voices of the characters as I read the dialogue and it just sucked me right in. I would love for Frequency to have a similar effect-without the voices of actual people because it technically doesn't exist but if you could imagine your own, please feel free! I'd also spent the past few weeks catching up in the podcast so...that's a thing that goes through my mind a lot. It shows doesn't it?
    I could go on for ages about that but I'll keep it short. Two things! One, I think Carlos' lab is the greatest thing in the world and his science is my kind of science. More equations. More science with hearts around it. Two? Dana's voice kills me. I can't even deal with it. Even with the book the dialogue just...ugh. Just shoot me into space already. I can't exist on the same planet. It's cute in all the right ways and it drives me insane.

    Other than that well...USSR is finished. I posted it on fanfic, with both endings. One of the two is canon. Expect that to you know...have implications. Sometime. I'd considered using my lunch break between classes to write Inno, but Sanc is so behind I put that idea on hold. I don't really write at home for various reasons, but I can get a startling amount done in those spaces. It's nice.
    On the topic of the story, starting with TAD 1 I tried changing my style again. Now, like most novels the paragraphs are broken up by the ideas they express, and this does include the dialogue. It's a habit I should've got into a while ago, but I wanted to properly prepare for it, so it'll be that way from here on out. It's a little less cluttered now, and easier to read.
    For the next chapter I'm debating on whether I should do the PoVs USSR style. By that I mean write it to match up with the way the characters speak. I've heard a similar concept, but I was never truly sure if that could be considered proper writing. You know how particular Suits can be about things. I'm extremely wary of that and I'm afraid to get into bad habits that are hard to break. That was one of them from Frequency I didn't fix until the end, and I'm not sure yet if it's proper. I'll look into that some more.

    Other than that stuff...I picked up a new webcomic called Yokoka's Quest. The writer and artist, Clef is really involved with the readers and its a fun little thing! Started recently so now's a good time to jump in. I also have Stella Glow but I've been so busy being #Eorzeantrash2015 I haven't given it the time it deserves. But I will. Once my sub runs out...again. Until then, I'm gonna do it all! 'Till sea swallows all and whatnot!
    ...I'd kidnap that new Lalafell character if I could. Or at least stick her kitty-ear robe on my character. You know...justice and all that.

    Well I've pretty much said my piece. There's probably more I need to address, but in the few days I stopped writing I forgot what it was and my head was filled with unrelenting rage towards complainers. I make it sound worse than it is, honestly.
    Anyway I'll probably be back sometime next week with a decision and more to see. We'll see where the story goes from there, and if I haven't gone on an assignment-induced rampage it'll continue! Either that, or meet an untimely and potentially unfortunate demise. More soon?
    Until next time!
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    TJ

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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Fri Dec 11, 2015 5:53 pm

    GAL And Tad Act 2 Overview:
    Where do I even begin with this one? It's short and I kinda covered a majority of it but...maybe I'll talk a bit about the writing side of things? If that's what you're into, idk you're weird.

    Adonai and Amae(And the GALs):
    You probably guessed it already but this is pretty early in the timeline of events for God Ah's Larghissimo. Later on, as you've noticed Adonai isn't there, but Leigha, her Keruz and are, along with the Child of Light.
    Now about those two-I'd given a lot of thought as to what Adonai would be like. Originally, I just figured I'd make him out to be as bad as...you know, an evil death god should be. It'd be easy, certainly. But I figured no point in making him START out bad from the get-go. So instead, he's actually a pretty decent guy. He's not fond of his given task, but he does the job without much complaint. He just takes little interest in humanity unlike Amae, as he stated. He'll have an arc too-it might be short in GAL, but that won't be the entirety of it of course! Never forget that the entirety of the story, Harmonies and all are the stories for those who could be considered immortal throughout Frequency. In that regard, though the GALs might be short, it's only meant to tell a small portion of events that occurred during that time period-at least, those that would be of some interest.

    In truth, I likely won't be able to properly establish the characters introduced in it thoroughly as I might hope since they're oft rather short, as I intended. But also because of that, there can be quite a bit of exposition in a short period. In essence, this is the largest fault in my writing of those segments. Unlike the Harmonies, there aren't sprawling dungeons, grand adventures or even much off-time for me to properly develop the characters during it. Typically, the goal would be to remedy this, but in truth I may leave it as is. In place of that, the characters within the Harmonies will be those that will continue the tradition and further establish things about those characters. Though they aren't them, many of them follow in the wake of their predecessors. Peorth is like a present Leigha, and her Keruz follow that also. That matter aside though, she also doubles as Amae's stand-in, and Choen Palm acts as Asmodeus', leaving Iris(MIA) to replace Seres. It's complicated and pretentious and I have the biggest love/hate relationship with the entirety of the plot. Someone fire me.

    Back on topic, I wanted to keep to the concept of the way that Agasura/Cerebians pass on their skills etc. I figured the way things are established now, it would be best to have a starting point for that-that starting point being GAL, and the heavenly beings that passed that down to their children/predecessors. This MAY be a spoiler, or you likely figured this already, but all of those traits Adonai has will be become those of the Seven Sinners and he'll no longer have them. In Amae's case, it's the things she wears-they might be clothing and accessories to her, but they become the artifacts of the Keruz and their weapons.
    I'd always felt iffy about the Sinners wielding scythes. It isn't...exactly their weapons per se. It's the sign of a Code Master, the Keruz' equivalent. I mentioned this somewhere right? It's just that some choose to use it because of that very reason, but as you can imagine, they all have their own specific reasons. Some of the others might not wield them like that-we'll have to wait and see. As for appearance wise, if I WAS to design the Sinners for GAL, they wouldn't look like TJ, I promise. That's only the present. Which is...odd now that I think about it. I'd gotten rather used to the appearance, but it isn't how they were then. They might actually look more like their father. We'll see how all that shakes out.
    Anyway, I can't say much more about Adonai because he was just introduced, but you'll definitely see him again!

    Now about Amae. She's...odd. TJ's description of her might not do her justice, but she is indeed a goddess, who created many, many things. She's also a giant dork. This was completely intentional. Somewhere between writing a caring goddess and a protector of humanity she turned into a humanity-obsessed giant lady. This is my life. This is my cliche adventure-fantasy novel please enjoy it to your heart's content. One day I will be launched into space a la catapult and share my glorious creations with other galaxies.
    Back on topic, this is a running joke, but also a plot point. This is a trait that's carried throughout the bloodline-I have a headcanon that like her heavenly ancestor, Remedi was a giant dork too. She loved Midgard, hence why she wound up going there and creating the first Confidant. Then came Peorth, and though not as obsessed with humans as the others, she has another something she has her eyes on. They're all dorks, and I love them. I also write them.

    Ye Olde Values:
    This is a point of contingency for me. I'm very...particular about certain topics. There's no denying that, and due to that some topics can be tough to cover, as you're aware.
    Why? I don't mean to sound vain, but I'm a very empathetic person. So much so that rather than a good thing it's a glaring weakness...and it results in me being a coward. Things like war, death, and all sorts of other things that are a problem in our world, I can't stand them. I listen, read, and am aware of them, but I don't let them elicit any particular emotions within me because they don't sit well. It bothers me to a great degree, and given my position it often makes me wonder why it is that I can do so little to change that, or if it were even possible for me to do so.
    That, is my biggest weakness. I ponder various methods, possible outcomes and their consequences, but I don't have solutions. I hate it. But enough about me.

    In media, history, novels, whatever you'll see how our world has changed. In the past there were a myriad of things men did that women didn't. It's something I think about quite a bit. When I wrote Frequency, I wanted it to be something that both women and men could feel at home when reading. As I mentioned before, neither sex is better than the other by any stretch of the imagination. Both are capable in a myriad of respects-everyone has their own specialties, and it all boils down to their own skill level. TJ being at the core of this, a character that either gender could identify with, or potentially neither.
    Of course, as one would expect in the present period, there's no distinction between genders, just as it is with our world now. I mean you have both men and women doing certain jobs like being in the army and this and that, etc. Of course, not ALL is well, but we're taking steps forward not just as a country, but as a world. That's a big deal!
    And just as is with our world, it wasn't always that way. I realized that this too, should be a matter that the characters would once face. Maybe they'd be characters of the past, and maybe it wouldn't be the biggest deal of all of them, but I still wanted to face that matter. I knew I wouldn't like it. Heck, I don't. But part of becoming a better writer is overcoming one's weaknesses. To do that, I also have to face myself. There is no one out there who knows me better than I do, and for that very reason I have to be the one to find the faults in me and work at them until I can be that which I deem...worthy. This doesn't need to be the path that we all follow-it's just that I need to walk one of solitude, and in so doing I've learned to stand alone. It's difficult. Perhaps having someone beside me would help me to improve, but I don't want to let such thoughts become a weakness that'll make me wish for things beyond my reach.
    Anyway, back on topic. In truth, the roles of women is something I'm somewhat familiar with. I won't say I'm well versed in history, but I have learned snippets here and there throughout the years. And that...as much as I hate to admit it, is a part of our history. It's a path we once treaded to get to where we are today, and perhaps in addressing that matter through GAL, the story will be stronger for it. It's just a small portion of Kera's subplot but something I felt would be at home nonetheless. Both she and TJ's stories are intertwined, and the struggle that each goes through respectively may reflect on the image that the novel gives as a whole to its readers. I dunno what that is yet, but I hope it's good!

    Nonetheless, despite how pessimistic I am, even I can be a bit hopeful. I know my story is nothing grand, but there's just one thing I want to do with it.
    That is, to leave the world in better shape than when I found it. Whether I rip before I finish the story or not, if at least accomplishes this much I'll know that it wasn't an entire waste. If that time comes, that will be the very moment that I come to love it. Until then, I can only reach ever higher, to a point where I'll feel that it's befitting of one in my position.

    About Kera:
    I really do wish I had more time to flesh out her character, but for what it is, it does the job decently. I do often consider the possibility that if too much focus went into the GALs it could potentially take away from the main story. Each iteration is only a page or so in Memorius Sanctum, and I had intended for them to be short. Then again, writing short stories was always my biggest weakness. I used to write 3-4 page stories and call them a story lol. They were more like half-chapters. But that was waaaaaaaay early on. I've improved, but not enough yet.

    I've been thinking a lot about her story, the symbolism of music throughout the novel as a whole and how music may affect us on a day to day basis. Perhaps it's something we think little of, which isn't entirely unreasonable. It's intertwined so deeply into our lives that we almost come to expect it. On more than one occasion, I've found myself without it, and I do listen to a variety of genres as I write, ride various forms of transportation and work.
    I came to this realization just yesterday after my sub for FF14 ran out again. The salty taste of my tears made me realize the importance of having the things we love often. It's also the reason I'm here.
    Anyway, I love Kera, for various reasons. She's the everyday girl, but she's a tough cookie. The relationship that builds between her and Amae is also one that I've always wanted to write. I've seen all types of stories where a Human might come across a goddess or god in disguise and then as they get closer they face even greater trials. Lovely. Makes me wanna read Selki. Though the thought of uhh...it getting some kind of bad-end like one of the two eating each other or abandoning them makes me sad. It's touching, but sad. I get enough sadness on a daily basis.
    As I write those chapters, sometimes I can't get my yuri goggles off my face. Someone hire me to write parody anime. I know of a certain show where a certain man can't take off his mask-mine will just be goggles. I love that show. I don't love it enough to save it from my terrible, terrible jokes though.

    I can't take anything seriously. I should be fired.
    Now let's talk about TAD shall we?

    Short? Absolutely:
    Why was this chapter so short??? You might be asking. (I still have to post it so bear with me here, but it's done.) It was indeed 3 pages long. I'd considered what I had said earlier, and despite my inhibitions I figured I would aim for the middle ground. Thus, I finished the chapter, AND I moved onto Chapter 8, but the chapter was short as all hell. How could this be fixed? Well...in essence, the story followed the storyboards to a T. There was little dialogue, the passage of time was much quicker since I skipped over most of the paths TJ once travelled, and the events with Peorth were delegated to a memory in that time period.
    If I was to reverse these, the chapter would feel and be much more fleshed out than it was here.
    Despite the way it turned out, it serves as a good example, doesn't it? I had mentioned before what it would be like if I was to do that, and the result of it. This MIGHT be a bit of an extreme because of the usual length of GAL/TAD, but you can see the difference nonetheless.
    To play the devil's advocate here, some may find TJ traversing the capital time and again to be repetitive. Of course, there would be events that occur along the way to shake up the formula as is par for the course, but the main idea would remain the same. (Though if people did hate that I suppose the makers of Ass Creed would go out of business? Unrelated thoughts. Potentially a very different case.) I'm conflicted on saying whether that could be the same case for dialogue, as it is a novel so...you know. Then again, some people don't like children. Or mutes. I suppose it would be tough to please everyone huh? I'm afraid to try too hard. Or care too much. This is my life. This is my struggle.

    One more before I rip for the evening.
    The Kooh Dilemma:
    I reused the description of the bedroom for TAD 3, but I couldn't keep the part with Peorth in it. I'm so salty, you don't even know. I loved that part! She was practically a part of the scenery! I...this is more of a crisis than I thought. I think I peaked too soon. I'm a peak-too-sooner. My career is over!

    Doomsday cries and harsh realities aside, I wanted to talk a bit about Kooh's story.
    This one, like many others that will surface was tough to write. I always knew it would be. Perhaps not in the same vein, but things like these do happen. I can't bear to accept such a reality and yet...we can't escape it either, can we? Even so, I wanted to do this because I wanted her story to show the weight that she carries on her shoulders. In the present she's all smiles and really affectionate, but deep down she has scars that most of her comrades will never know. They're only things that Peorth is aware of, and perhaps the fallen Keruz. Now TJ knows a portion of it, as it pertains to his story also, but he hasn't yet told her that.
    Now why would I do something so extreme? I suppose you could say the weight of the crime is the price she paid. It wasn't her crime, but it was one she was shackled with, in both senses. The God's Governors are oft revered, but we can't forget that like Amata says, most don't know about them, or whether they even exist. Between a princess and a myth, which would you side with? Freya was meant to succeed Remedi, but after the initial failure to help her, and a second failure taking away Peorth's ability as God's Governor of Ice, someone had to take the fall. She wasn't the only one of course, but she was one of the few.
    Now then, simply outright killing her could be a solution to the problem, but she is still a God's Governor. That, and if there was a way to save Freya it would be lost upon Kooh's death. They needed her, but didn't seek to care for her. In so doing she became a prisoner to her own people.
    As one would expect, though they are the children of the gods, they're not perfect. Not that gods are perfect...by any stretch of the imagination. I mean, have you READ about the greek gods? Those guys sure know how to uhh...party.
    Anyway! It could also be considered part of human nature-both the good, and the bad are things that they inherit. There's always two-sides to a story. It's something I remind myself on a daily basis...and yet more often than not I feel that sometimes I can only find one of the two. It's...distressing. Especially about certain matters that I'm really concerned about.

    You can see how she became attached to Peorth, and there might even be a little affection for the Little Lamb in there too. Anyway, after reading my work for this long you could probably guess what had happened that lead to the second memory from the Foe Mansion venture. If not you'll find out later on during Kooh's arc! Hohohoho!

    After reading it again...I just...ugh. You hear that? That's the sound of my heart breaking.
    Why do I do this.

    I'm sufficiently sad now. There's gonna be more things like this in the future, if not...you know, worse. Because I clearly have some sort of addiction to doing this. The show must go on though.
    I'll post the rest of TAD and what I have for Ch. 8 thus far. Tomorrow or the day after or something I'll be back with more about my writing, and some more bad jokes.

    With that said, until next time!


    Last edited by TJ on Fri Dec 11, 2015 7:04 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    TJ

    Posts : 873
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    Age : 24
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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Fri Dec 11, 2015 6:08 pm

    GAL and TAD Chapter 2(314-317:
    The disguise was perfect-maintaining it would be little challenge to her. Finding her way around the stronghold, however, would rprove the greater challenge.
    Though it was much smaller in comparison to the stronghold 'Elifius' navigating one's way around it would still prove a challenge. There was still much and more she was as of yet to learn of humanity, and many of the symbols they used for communication were one of those very things. Perhaps it would be in her best interest to ask a citizen?
    She saw an elderly man strolling down the dusty path and greeted him. “Excuse me, could you direct me to the nearest metal-shaping facility?” She asked politely.
    He chuckled at her request. “You are looking for the blacksmith, correct? We have an armorsmith and a weaponsmith. You can find both right over there.” He answered as he pointed in its direction. “The sign with the armour emblem is what you are looking for.”
    “Your assistance is greatly appreciated! Goodbye.” She answered as she set out towards the shop.
    “Kids these days.”
    She arrived at the shop and rapped on the door three times.
    The voice of a young girl chimed, “Come in! The door is open!” Without a doubt the voice was Kera's.
    If the sound that echoed from within the shop was any indication, she was doing some sort of metal work.
    Amae pushed the door open and walked inside where the girl stood at an anvil and hammered away. “Welcome to Ezra's.” She said as she raised the piece of armour she finished shaping before setting it to cool. “You must have come a long way, but I can assure you, you will not find better armour in all of the Desert region!”
    There was a twinkle in the goddess' eye. “Is that so? I am very interested in the process of this armour crafting. Would you be so kind as to show me?”
    Kera looked nonplussed. “You want to...see the process?” She rubbed the back of her neck gently as she chuckled under her breath. “I have never had a customer who was interested in such a thing...but I suppose I could oblige you.”
    “Your efforts are greatly appreciated.”

    Kera began by looking over a list of orders penned in a hand that may or may not have been hers.
    “Well this should suffice.” She said as she rummaged through a crate full of a variety of metals. She brought a couple over to a furnace and cautiously placed them inside.
    “It will take a fair amount of time before we can melt and mold the metal. Are there any questions you would like to ask?” She leaned on the counter and crossed her arms.
    “I am rather curious about you and your situation.” Amae answered as she clasped her hands at her waist.
    She knit her eyebrows slightly. “My story is not one of interest, nor something the bards would think of singing. I am but a common village girl.” The goddess did not blink nor show even a hint of backing down on her request. Kera let out a defeated chuckle. “If you are that curious then I suppose a little will not hurt any.
    “As I had said, my life was one of little interest. I was born here, in Elfaderah, an only child.
    “My family was once ordinary, consisting of my mother, my father and I. When I was young they had a falling out and soon after she wound up leaving the two of us.
    “As I grew older I took an interest in my father's work.” She chuckled gently as she looked at the armor she just forged and her eyes shuttered. “He always used to tell me the smithery was no place for a child. Go out and play. It might have been my own stubbornness or that I thought he was goading me, but I had spent years insisting that I could do it if I tried.
    “I practiced in secret every now and then. There were...a lot of failures, and he wound up finding them. He was not pleased with the result. We had a falling out over it.
    “I suppose that was when I met him...a nomad from a land far, far away. He carried an unusual musical instrument-he would sing and dance and all the while tell tales of heroes from across Midgard.” She smiled as she closed her eyes. “Great men who had slain fearsome creatures like giant boars and packs of wolves, some had even taken place in our very own desert. Giant sand worms and their brood, fearsome ancient axebeaks and their kin...such stories were enchanting.
    “His tales had lifted my spirits, and he when we spoke he told me that a hunter is little without the plate on his torso and the sword in his hand.
    My fervor and desire to take up my father's trade burned stronger than ever, and I saw my father about it again. We had fought for days...weeks, even months over the matter until he finally yielded. He warned me that the forge was no place for a woman and he had no intention of putting me in it, but he did once upon a time.” She looked forlornly out to the world outside. “I am my father's only child, and due to the fact he did not have a son, he had no one to follow in his trade when he became too old to do it. He had told me that my mother was vehement against having me take up the trade, but he was adamant on having his kin continue the family tradition, and due to that their seperation was sealed. My mother swore that when she had established a life for herself in Elifius, she would return and take me with her. I had not seen her since then.
    “Nevertheless, though my father resigned and my wish was granted, there was still a lingering regret in my heart that I could not put words to. As I learned and improved as an armoursmith, the songs of the bard that day flooded back to me.” She beamed. “I can still hear the songs he sang.
    “It took me a while to realize it, but deep down a small part of me yearned for that memory, that time, and the sounds. Of his instrument, his voice...and to experience it for myself...
    “I had asked my father if I could receive a small payment for armour I made and sold and he had told me I was getting to that age, so he would oblige.” She turned her focus to the furnace and took the metals out before pouring them into a mold. “I had poured my heart and soul into all that I had forged, and even more so into convincing customers to consider purchasing what I had made. It had went well...and with that, I had eventually bought my own instrument with what I had earned.
    “And since then I have begun my practice, both as a bard and an armour crafter, much to Father's dismay.” She laughed heartily as she began to hammer away at the object. “To the day I still do it as a hobby. I often use it to play songs for the choir at the temple and to earn some money to buy food for the children at the orphanage.”
    Kera's eyes turned to Amae as she stopped hammering. “Can you keep a secret, Nomad?” The goddess nodded solemnly and Kera grinned. “Someday, I too would like to go out there into the world. To meet the heroes sung of in legends and songs, to see the entirety of Midgard and to meet my mother again, wherever she may be now. I fear for my father's well-being in my absence, but I will return here. It is where I was born, and where I plan to die. That fact will never change.”
    She cooled the product and removed it shortly after from the steaming water, before setting it on the front desk. “I suppose my story ran on a little long Nomad. But you are a good listener.” She smiled. “If you are interested in my music or my smithing, I will gladly oblige you.”
    Amae blinked. “Please, let me hear your songs. I do not have coin to purchase your work, but if you would indulge me just a little longer you will have my thanks.”
    “Consider it done Nomad,” She placed her hammer behind the desk and vanished into the corridor at the back of the house. She returned briefly after with her instrument and sat down against the counter. “I do not do it often for audiences outside of the usual citizens so please do not be too critical of my performance.” She said as she knit her eyebrows and looked up to the goddess.
    Amae smiled as Kera gently strummed her weapon and sang a song. She closed her eyes and listened solemnly as the song went on, letting herself be swept up in the sound of Kera's voice and her instrument that accompanied it. Even TJ was taken aback by her performance, and found himself lost amidst the sound.
    There was so much beauty in the world, Amae thought. If only Adonai could see it as I do now.

    The Asgardian Duet: The Second Act-Temperance
    TJ found himself in the body of his past self once more and staring into the face of an upset Peorth. Her eyes were red and puffy and it looked like she had recently finished crying. She wore a black dress, gloves, a small hat with a veil and a purple flower resting on the left side of it.
    “TJ, I have a very important duty that I need you to do.” She shook her head rapidly and clenched her fists, her head lowered as her lips trembled. “No, only you can do it!”
    He knit his eyebrows. “Pe-Pe?” He asked with a worried tone.
    “Freya...Freya she...she wouldn't wake up! They performed this unusual ritual on she and I and then I gained her power...but something happened to her! They wouldn't let me see her at all and then they brought in another girl that they said was my cousin and...and...” Her fists began to tremble as tears fell onto the colourful carpet before them. “They...performed the ritual again. I'm not sure but...I could feel Freya's presence after the first one...her voice, her powers, all of it became mine and it was too much for me...they said they'd save her with that other girl, but after the ritual my powers vanished, and so did Freya! I can't hear her anymore...
    “I don't know what happened to her...I don't! They won't tell me anything and it's not fair...” She looked to him and sniffled but steeled her resolve. It was evident in her eyes, a strength far beyond her years. “TJ, I need you to find that girl. She might be the only one who can still save my sister, and you're the only one that can manage this. I believe in you with all my heart TJ, so please, help me!”
    His response was but a single solemn nod. There was not an ounce of doubt in his heart, and to see Peorth in such a state was reason enough for him to act without question.
    Though her expression was still pained a small amount of relief came over it as she wiped away her tears. “Thank you TJ! Thank you!”
    As she made her way through the room TJ got a chance to glance over it. It was everything he could imagine it to be-a lovely canopy bed with transparent blue curtains, a wall with a picture of the entire royal family upon it, a desk fit for a princess and a comfortable chair to accompany it. A bookshelf with a variety of books ranging from politics to royal etiquette, and even a love seat for her to spend some quality time with her parent.
    She stopped at the desk and slid open the drawer before drawing a piece of paper. “I borrowed a registry of the citizens of the halidom and took this map from my mother's study. I'm not sure about the exact location but I think that my aunt lives right here.” She pointed to a small group of houses in sector B. “I can't sense her presence anymore because I lost my powers but...you can TJ. Let what I taught you be your guide, and I'm sure it'll lead you to Freya's presence.”
    She approached the door and opened it ever so slightly to peek outside and immediately closed it, quickly and quietly. “The guards are still there.” She sighed quietly. She looked around the room and ran over to her bed, shoving it aside with all her might, soon joined by TJ. “You can use this!” There was a vent big enough for him to fit inside. “I'm not sure where it'll lead, but I heard from the others one of the vents lead outside.”
    She looked to him solemnly before she stepped forward and embraced him. “Please come back to me safely. I can't bear to lose you too.”
    He patted her on the back before she let him go and he crawled into the vent.

    His memory had shifted to another point in time where he was in Yuna's home and rummaging through the closet in search of questionable items. He sat amidst a storm of items, from clothes to various boxes but to no avail.
    As he did Yuna walked by and gave him a puzzled look. “What're you lookin' for there?”
    He turned to her as his searching came to a halt. “Game,” He answered.
    She crossed her arms as she mulled the answer over. With a look of realization she placed her fist into an open palm. “Oh! So yer' lookin' for somethin' to play with the princess are yaa'?” She nodded confidently and with approval. “Maybe a game'll take her mind off of her sister's passing. Good thinkin'.” She ruffled his hair before she stepped amidst him and the things and reached into the top of the closet to reclaim the folded checkers board. “Guess it's my fault you couldn't find it huh? Sorry about that!” She handed it off to him and his eyes twinkled.
    “So you're off again huh? Before you go lemme' give you a bite to take on the road.”
    The two went downstairs and Yuna disappeared into the kitchen before she returned with a lunchbox nicely wrapped up and ready to go. TJ waited at the door with his mandolin in hand and she knelt down to tie it to the guitar's neck.
    As he placed the guitar over his back tied to a leaf as large as him, his guardian gave him a light kiss on the forehead while he looked back with a flushed face. “Be careful out there kiddo. Watch out for those guards y'hear?”
    He nodded once and she opened the door for him to depart while she waved him off.

    TJ made his way through the city with some semblance of ease, just as Straw Hat had showed him in the past. It took him some time to get to Sector B, but with the whole kingdom in an uproar due to the passing of the one of the king's daughters he was less of a cause to be looked out for, and so more often than not, people thought him nothing more than a pauper. He opened the map that Peorth had given to him and attempted to discern where he was.
    Thankfully for him, Peorth had scribbled all sorts of notes to help him understand where he was and how to read the map. She taught him a bit about reading and writing, so he could understand what he saw. It was somewhat difficult, as his past self spent a fair amount of time reviewing the information as he made his way through the city, but she had drawn a path that he could follow. Her notes mentioned landmarks, places to avoid and ways he could stay out of sight.
    He eventually neared where the girl was said to live, and his senses suddenly awakened to the overwhelming presence of a powerful Cerebian. It certainly was Freya-he could tell by the mana and the way it fluctuated, but it was intense, which was unlike hers.
    He followed it towards the group of houses and looked around cautiously from the safety of the alleyway. He was unsure which house it was exactly, as the presence seemed to surround him, but also rise up towards him. Just where was she?
    He closed his eyes and tried to follow the trail without the use of sight. He began to walk by following his senses and approached one of the four houses Peorth marked off. He eyed the house, but the feeling that she was not within it did not subside. It seemed to be beyond where the house was, and with that thought in mind he made his way to the side of the house and scrambled over the fence before entering the backyard.
    As he did, the feeling grew stronger and stronger. He was closer now, but still unsure of her location. He caught a glimpse of a shed and approached it cautiously-he pulled the door open and yet found nothing within. As he stepped inside his body shuddered due to the sudden change in heat, catching him off guard. He was closer, but not quite there yet.
    He eyed the shed, noticing tools, paints, and various other goods one would expect to find within one, but many that he did not know the use of. He put himself in a prone position and felt ever closer to the presence and even more so to the cold. He got back to his feet and removed the worn-down carpet he stood on to find a trap door that lead further into the shed. It seemed to have a basement of sorts. Was it possible she was within that location?
    He lifted the door and was blasted with a wave of cold air that nearly threw him off his feet. His answer was definite, and he only had to pursue it He took a couple steps down into the darkness and slipped on one of the steps, beginning a terrible and painful descent into the basement of the shed. He skid across the floor and came to a halt at the feet of the girl he sought out, who looked startled at his grand entrance. Rather mortified, at that.
    “W-who are you? What are you doing here?” She asked as she scrawled away.
    TJ picked himself up from the ground as he wiped some blood away from the top of his head, his expression unchanging. Though his eyes had not adjusted to the darkness, he could see the ruby red eyes of the girl before him and the blue lines that ran across her body like veins-from her head to her arms and legs. Upon her forehead was a mark that resembled that of water-was that the proof of a God's Governor? He crawled towards her and she backed away as she shook her head.
    “Do-don't come! You'll be frozen too, just like everything else!”
    As she had said, much of the cellar she was in had completely frozen over and she it seemed to slowly be crawling ever upwards towards the ground floor and beyond.
    He cocked his head and she sighed gently. “I was supposed to save Princess Freya and Peorth. I was supposed to act as a substitute so the current princess didn't have to carry the burden of being God's Governor of Water and Ice. I failed everyone, and now I've become this!” As his eyes further adjusted, he could see her better. Pale skin, her pale sky blue hair frozen in place like icicles and her arms covered in the substance also. She was a small wispy thing, the look of her a clear indication she was emaciated. Her legs and arms were shackled, giving her enough freedom to move around the area somewhat, but not to escape. “I have to stay here. I'm a danger to everyone. Mom was right! So please! Leave this place and forget you ever saw me!”
    He blinked slowly. “No,” He answered.
    “Why not?!”
    “Pe-Pe asked. I...will save you. Pe-Pe asked me.” He crawled closer and she looked at him with confusion and apprehension in her eyes. He placed his hands to her cheeks and he could feel her skin, ice cold at the touch. He rested his forehead against hers and a both began to emit a gentle glow as wind surrounded them. The glow from the two grew brighter, and TJ's gem resonated along with it. After a couple of moments she closed her eyes and the ice began to recede as the Heart of Yggdrasil grew even brighter. When the ice had completely receded, her hair, skin and forehead all returned to normal, and she looked just like an ordinary girl.
    “Huh...? What did you...?” She looked at her hands in disbelief before she looked to him.
    He smiled at her for a moment. “Name?”
    “My...name...” She shook her head gently. “I don't have one. I was called a disgrace and mom threw me away. She said that I was a harbinger of ill omens and she left me down here. It was the only way everyone would be safe from my powers...and they wouldn't have to know what happened to the princesses. I...have to stay here. But even so...for doing this...thank you.”
    He pursed his lips. “No name?” He pointed to himself. “TJ.” Following that he pointed to her. “Coo.” She reminded him of the blue bird he had seen in one of the castle's rooms. It likely belonged to one of the live-in servants, but it sat in a cage out of his reach, quietly chirping upon discovering him.
    “Kooh?” She asked with disbelief as he nodded twice.
    Peorth gave him a name and if she did not have one, then he would do the same for her.
    She cracked a tiny smile as her cheeks flushed. “I can't believe you and Princess Peorth are so worried about someone like me. Even so...I'm happy. I'm super happy!” She exclaimed as she beamed. “Thank you TJ!”
    He nodded solemnly before he took his guitar off and sat down with her, to remove the lunchbox hanging from his instrument. He unwrapped it, opened it up and held the food out for her to eat.
    “Eh? Oh...no you don't have to do all this for me. It's...actually a little embarassing.” She said as she lowered her eyes. Being the more stubborn of the two, he did not relent and she eventually submitted to the wish.
    When she was done she thanked him and smiled gently-a large difference from the expressionless face she had worn before. “Thank you for coming all this way TJ, but I'm worried about you. I dunno what'll happen if you get caught down here with me. They might take you away...and throw you in jail!” Little did she know.
    He shook his head as he laid out the checkers set. “No more tears. No more being alone. Pe-Pe and Coo need to smile.”
    She closed her eyes as her lips curled into a bigger smile. As she looked up her cheeks flushed a deeper pink. “I am smiling. I haven't felt a happiness like this in years. So maybe...just a little longer.” She said as she laid out her pieces across the board.
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Fri Dec 11, 2015 7:07 pm

    Ch. 8 (Pages 317-324):
    The Eighth Harmony: Beloved by the Sun
    “Come as you are and I shall take you as you are. If you feel incomplete than I shall make you whole.” (Freya)

    The feeling of returning to the present was both familiar and unsettling. TJ opened his eyes as Peorth seemed to be looking over the pages and his heart ached at the sight.
    Perhaps it had been many years since the events that conspired in the memories had occurred, but he was still racked with a guilt that may not have been his to bear. There were very few times where he had seen his guild master cry. Both of those times were tears of joy, but then, the sorrow was evident.
    To lose a sibling...was a hefty price to pay. To lose people you cared about was also. Peorth lost her mother, her father, and her sister Freya. Su had lost her village and her family, and Yuta lost his family. How they responded to that pain differed from person to person.
    But what about himself? He remembered the moments in which he watched Avaritia vanish before his eyes. His battle with Straw Hat, with Trini and even Gula. Why did all of his both begin, and end with someone falling by his hands?
    He had sworn he would change, and he promised he would protect Peorth with all he could. Though she was but a child then, and neither by his hand or hers that her sister passed away, he wished he could have done something. He could only look at the aftermath of the scenario and what Kooh had become due to it.
    But unlike him, she mastered her power. She overcame the challenges laid upon her and became Peorth's shadow, doing what he could not all those years. She had become strong, and in doing so, loving of her cousin. TJ could not yet match her kindness, but he would work towards it as best as he could.
    He turned his eyes to the guild master once more and he could see the adorable child off the past, now grown into a fine woman. His heart began to pound as her eyes shifted towards him and she smiled slightly.
    “Have I done something to catch your eye TJ? Perhaps if you had seen a memory of us, I would not be averse to you sharing.” She said with a slight chuckle.
    “Eh?” His face flushed and he turned his eyes to his shoes. “N-no...nothing of the sort. It was just...you know, the usual. Nothing special!”
    She tilted her head somewhat. “Is that so? Then it is no cause for concern.” She closed the book with a solemn nod.
    “Moving on, I am unsure of the inner workings of Memorius Sanctum regarding you still, but perhaps it will refresh some of your memories pertaining to spells. If you do recall any, take all the time you need to practice them, and if there are songs you need to master, please do not hesitate to call upon me.”
    He felt a bit of excitement at the prospect the two could perform another duet, but she didn't need to know that part. “You bet.”
    The guild badge on her hip lit up and she shifted her eyes to it. “Excuse me for a moment.” She tapped it twice and listened in. “Yes? ...What? She is there currently? Is that so? I shall go there immediately.”
    TJ knit his eyebrows as he watched her face tense and her voice turn to match it. “What's wrong Chief?”
    Her expression darkened. “Elias...is under attack by Choen Palm.”
    He slammed his hands down as he rose to his feet. “What?! We have to go!”
    Peorth knit her brows this time around. “TJ, I do not doubt your competence in battle or your ability, but I have concerns about this. I know that you and Choen Palm have a history. After what had happened recently, I cannot help but fear that another dispute between the two of you may not bode well, especially given the current circumstances.”
    He sat down as he pursed his lips. “You don't have to worry about me Chief. I'm ready to face off with her again. With you there she can't give me any commands and manipulate me. I'll be alright!”
    She closed her eyes. “That is a point of cotention yes, but it is not the problem at hand.
    According to Kooh, Choen Palm has merged her piece of the Heart of Yggdrasil with her body. In doing so, she has found a way to tap into the power in ways we could not have predicted. This decision has both enhanced her physical and magical capabilities, while also allowing her to manipulate her body's shape at will. This battle will not be anything like the previous engagements you have had with her. She will have a strength that far exceeds what we know her capable of. I fear for your well-being greatly.”
    At those words he faltered for a moment but quickly shook it off. “You might be right Chief...and I'm worried about you too, but we can't leave Vanir and Kooh to fight her off alone. Something could happen if we don't intervene.”
    He gave her a confident smile. “I promise, I'll play it safe, but you should do the same.”
    “I can assure you that I will. If your mind is made I do not think I could dissuade you, so we shall go immediately. Constant vigilance, TJ. We do not have expansive knowledge of her abilities at the current time, so let us gauge her first before we attempt to challenge her.”
    “You got it!”
    TJ drew his warp crystal as she approached and the two teleported to Elias.

    They found themselves near the debris of one of the castle's walls.
    “Wh-what happened?!” TJ cried out as he surveyed the area.
    Flames rose up to the sky and clouds of both purple and grey smoke did so nearby. Many of the buildings in the shopping district were damaged-pieces of rubble littered the streets and screams of panic by the escaping citizens could be heard from afar.
    “This is like Elfa all over again...” TJ said as he placed his hands to his temples and Peorth one to his shoulder.
    “It is alright, TJ. The city has been evacuated already. But time is of the essence. Let us find out as soon as we can what the damage is and how we can lend our assistance to our comrades.”
    He swallowed the suggestion hard but nodded, understanding what the two needed to do.
    Peorth climbed the rubble and offered TJ a hand. As he climbed over the wall also he spotted a certain awfully green brownie who stood behind a piece of rubble a fair distance away, frantically sweeping as her legs trembled.
    As they approached the sound of her panic grew clearer. “Awawawawa...” She said as she watched the battle play out before her.
    “Hey Skuld?” TJ asked as the two neared.
    Her hair shot up as her entire body leapt from the ground and she shrieked. “Hya! Eh? Oh! TJ and Princess! Thank goodness you are here! M-Master and Kooh they are...they are...!”
    Peorth approached and knelt down before placing her hands to the Brownie's shoulders. “Calm down and tell me everything that happened,” She requested.
    “Choen Palm came to the city and she started shooting things and attacking adventurers until me and Master got there and she said, “Oho! Good you have come Usurper! Now I shall cut you down and uphold my promises, as I am wont to do!' And then they started fighting and Master said to place seals so no more adventurers would enter the area but they just kept coming and-”
    TJ listened intently to what she said, but he had to admit that she did a very convincing impression of Choen Palm.
    “-they kept showing up while I finished warding the area but then Kooh came and she's been trying to save as many people as she can!” She stopped to take a breath. “But Master is hurt! I do not know how much longer he can keep this up! And I cannot help him!” She began to get teary-eyed and TJ felt his heart ache at the sight.
    “Fear not Skuld. We shall lend our aid to Vanir. We will not allow our allies to fall in this battle, I can assure you of that.” She rose to her feet and turned to TJ. “TJ, I wish for you to summon Velvet in your stead. It would be much safer to have the Einherjar challenge her first so you are not in harm's way. Skuld, I must request of you that you look over TJ's body in the meantime.”
    Skuld saluted the princess as she answered, “I will not disappoint!”
    “You have my thanks. TJ, we begin!” Peorth said as she rushed out to meet with Kooh.
    He gave a solemn nod as he drew his guitar and immediately began to strum it to the memory of learning Velvet's song, and upon completion she emerged from him and drew her weapons.
    “I'll take things from here TJ! Leave it to me!” The familiar words and voice of his past companion brought him to the present and he found himself in her body once more. It was the first time he had actually used it, but despite how heavily armoured she was and the weapons she carried, he did not feel as restricted as he might suspect. Without a doubt, all of Velvet's training likely lead up to this. He was thankful she was so diligent in her practices.
    He rushed onto the battlefield to catch a glimpse of Vanir backing away as Kooh attacked Choen Palm with Shattered Berg.
    At the sight Vanir looked ecstatic as he shouted, “It's the Pink Panther and Princess Monotonè! You guys came for us! I knew you'd come through!” He held up his blade as Choen Palm descended upon him with her arm shaped like one, bone seemingly forming the blade-or something of the sort. “Hey hey! Can't a man have a reunion with his compatriots without interruption?! Rude!”
    She broke away from him and turned her focus to the two new arrivals.
    “So you've returned, boy? Ha! How bold of you! It seems you too, wish to die! Good then, we shall settle this once and for all.”
    “If you want to hurt either of them you'll have to get past me first, Choen Palm!” Kooh roared as she held her dagger up before her.
    “Kooh, use this!” Peorth shouted as she brushed her hand against her thigh and TJ caught a brief glimpse of it. As he told himself now was not the time for such thoughts, he spotted a weapon hidden beneath her dress that she drew and hurled towards her cousin.
    As it landed in Kooh's hand, he got a better look at it. A beautiful dagger, a deep blue with a golden finish-a curved blade and a handle that seemed to fit snugly in Kooh's hand. Was she familiar with the weapon? “Thanks Princess!”
    With the second weapon she engaged Choen Palm in a flurry of blows. Without a doubt, Kooh was fast, but with the second weapon her speed had increased substantially and though her adversary met her blow for blow she seemed to be steadily overwhelming her. When the two locked blades Kooh lifted a foot and kicked Choen Palm's arms aside before she jumped as she spun and landed a blow across the face.
    “Chance!” Vanir shouted as he leapt above the fallen Heartbreaker and slammed the blade into gravel. “Keh!” He pursued her with his katana in hand and TJ watched impressed for a moment before reuniting with Kooh and Peorth.
    “Princess, there are two things I need to ask of you.” Her eyes shifted from Peorth to the ongoing battle and back.
    “That is?” Peorth asked in response.
    “I need you to take all of those wounded adventurers and get them out of here. So long as they're within the barrier there's a chance they could still be killed or consider joining in the battle a second time. I don't want there to be any more unecessary bloodshed.”
    She nodded. “I shall oblige with that wish. What else do you need to ask of me Kooh?”
    “I need you to summon Garfitua's Hourglass from Memorius Sanctum.”
    At those words Peorth gave her a look of disapproval. Her expression did not change any, but the silence and stillness of her body just seemed to imply as such.
    “I know how you feel about summoning Freya, but right now we really don't have the luxury of choosing our methods when it comes to winning this battle. I've been able to keep Choen Palm at bay with the help of Vanir, but our bodies are wearing down.
    “You know how the Agasura are. With the powers she has, she has a constant supply of mana, and her stamina must have at least doubled or tripled since the last time you challenged her. Freya and I may share a body, but the way we are it's almost as if we're seperate. We just can't exist at the same time, so she can continue the battle if I can't. That aside, her magic may just be what we need.” Peorth knit her eyebrows slightly, but she seemed to be relenting. “Trust me Princess. I'm not just a Keruz for show!”
    Peorth closed her eyes. “As you wish, Kooh. But I must remind you that you must not let your guard down if you must use Garfitua's Hourglass. There is a time limit, and once expended you will return, but the energy you expended prior will not.
    “Come, Memorius Sanctum!” Peorth shouted as she held out a hand. The tome appeared before her and she flicked through the pages with the wave of a hand. She reached out towards it and in a sphere of light Garifitua's Hourglass emerged from the book. She handed it to Kooh as she said, “I shall return. I leave TJ in your care.”
    “You can count on me Princess!” Kooh answered with a grin.
    Following that Peorth immediately turned away and the three were left to combat the Heartbreaker.
    “Let's go TJ!” Kooh said to him as she rushed into the fray.
    “Right behind you!” He answered as he followed along.
    Choen Palm was on the offensive against Vanir but immediately broke away as Kooh dove at her and nearly cut across her flank.
    “Over here!” TJ snarled as he bashed her with Velvet's shield and twirled his weapon around. With a single mighty swing he slammed it into the ground and tore all that asunder before him. “Hellbender!” A cloud of dust and gravel emerged in the wake of the weapon as did Choen Palm. “Kooh!”
    Kooh followed after Choen Palm with a spinning slash from the air. She landed a cut on her face and parried her retaliation as she fell back. She twirled both blades and sheathed them before she created a series of needles and hurled them. Choen Palm raised an arm and they all pierced it, but the attack did not seem to faze her in the slightest.
    “Is that the best you children can do?! You have not grown in the slightest since our last battle!” She dashed towards Kooh and stretched an arm out, the flesh grew and extended and nearly grabbed the Governor until TJ stopped its advance.
    “Runic Blade!” He roared and as he held out a hand a massive blue transparent sword appeared from the sky and descended upon the arm. It pinned it to the ground and Kooh managed to land safely.
    TJ searched the area for the barista, thinking it a perfect opportunity for him to strike and found him running in the opposite direction. “Vanir? Vanir?!” He shouted after him. “Where are you going?!”
    “I'm taking my loli and getting the hell out of here!” He shouted back as he scooped Skuld up under one of his arms. “Good luck kids!” From the distance it seemd that Skuld was protesting.
    “Don't let your guard down TJ!” Kooh shouted.
    Her warning brought him back to his senses and as he did he clashed weapons with Choen Palm. His blade met hers and his shield met a hand. Ain the few moments he saw the clash, he caught a glimpse of the claws of the hand extending past his shield before forcing it back as they wrapped around his body.
    “Urgh!” He shouted as his body was squeezed and he struggled to maintain his hold on the weapon.
    Kooh rushed through the clouds of dirt and smoke, both blades in hand and encased in ice, extending their range. She took two swipes at the Heartbreaker before she pulled back and thrusted Velvet out before her. Kooh grit her teeth as she vanished in a cloud of mist and reappeared behind Choen Palm. She leapt through the air as her body turned and she brought her blades down one after the other. Both were blocked and Kooh hit the ground before she rolled backwards and engaged her once more. She tossed Velvet at her but Kooh dodged her companion before she hurled her secondary dagger to where she was to land. A throne of ice emerged from the ground with the blade at the top of it and she created a shroud of mist to surround her.
    TJ stopped in the seat of ice and stumbled to his feet, thankful that Kooh kept an eye on him despite how clumsy he was.
    “What a foolish trick! I do not need sight to defeat you. I shall just kill the boy and be done with it!” Choen Palm said as the sound of her footsteps going away sounded through the mist.
    “TJ, break the bond with Velvet right now! She's going to target you!” Kooh told him as she rushed after their adversary.
    “I lied.”
    “Wh-” A blade pierced through the smoke and Kooh narrowly avoided it, a few of her hairs cut from one of her twin-tails. Following the attack a massive fist came through and hit her torso, flinging her back. She let out a pained scream as she tumbled away and stopped short of Velvet as she vanished.
    TJ came to in his real body and his face was panic-stricken. “No...no not now!” As he broke out into a sprint he tried to wave away the mist. “Hang on Kooh, I'm coming now!”
    He held out a hand as he said, “To me, Memorius Sanctum!” Once the gilded tome appeared before him he prepared for the next incantation. “Abide by the words of my contract and give me the strength to become the hope of this world!” At those words his wings spread out before him and his hair and eyes changed colour. He came to a halt before he prepared to dash. Without a moment of hesitation he shot off from where he stood and used his wings to propel him even further to catch Kooh and tumble away as a series of purple spheres rained down upon where she once was.
    “TJ...above...” Kooh muttered weakly as she pointed to the incoming Choen Palm.
    “Die Abellan!” She roared as she drew an arm back and hurled a massive violet spike towards the two.
    His gem began to glow and Su emerged with her dagger at the ready to stop the strike. Sparks shot out from the collision and she reached out to the spike before she took hold and shattered it with a hand as she said, “Purge!” The spell shattered and fell like bright glass shards to the ground before they dissipated.
    “Su you...” TJ began with a look of fear in his eyes.
    “Do you really think you've got the time to be worrying? I'm fine. I'll stall for you so either get her patched up or get her out of the fight. We don't have time for your usual screwing around and indecisiveness!” She hissed as she rushed in to engage Choen Palm.
    “I'll patch you up right away Kooh.” He said as he held a hand to her torso and a gentle glow healed her wounds.
    “TJ...it's fine, you don't have to.” She placed a hand to his and he gave her a puzzled look.
    “I think I'm just about at my limit. Let Freya take over for me okay? If she can buy Princess enough time that'll be more than enough.” Her lips curled into a smile, but her eyes did not follow suit. “Whatever you do though, I don't want you to fight this battle with the attention of winning. Just weaken her and escape okay?”
    “But Freya she...can she even fight?”
    Kooh laughed weakly. “You and Princess are such worriers. She'll be fine TJ, trust me. If it's to protect you, she'll definitely be more useful than I could be. I'm counting on you Little Lamb.”
    With those words Kooh reached into her pocket and drew Garfitua's Hourglass, but it was much smaller than it was when Peorth had summoned it. TJ gave her a second puzzled look as he accepted the artifact before it was surrounded by light and became it's usual abnormally large size.
    It had already gained the golden glow acting as a sign that Kooh had used her mana to activate it, so it was his turn to fill the hourglass. He held it close to his chest and the mana from within him trickled into the hourglass in the form of blue grains of sand. Once he had filled it to a substantial level he took a deep breath and flipped it over.
    The hourglass emitted a powerful light as did Kooh, and once it subsided the once wounded God's Governor was replaced by her healthy counterpart who now levitated towards the ground.
    As she took her first breath in ages she touched down and turned her eyes to TJ. She beamed and immediately walked over to embrace him without speaking a word. “Little Lamb...how good it is to see you! I have missed you dearly!”
    “I-it's good to see you too Freya but we'll have to get better acquainted later! I really really need your help! We need your help! Choen Palm is here and the city is under attack and you might be strong enough to help us fend her off! I know it's sudden but will you help us?”
    She blinked, a look of surprise on her face. She placed a hand to his cheek and rubbed her thumb against it gently. “Was she the one who did this to you? Was she the one who hurt you?”
    His eyes slowly shifted away. “Well no...technically yes? Possibly?” He shrugged.
    Oddly enough, or perhaps as expected, considering that she was Peorth's sister, she had no reaction whatsoever. Her expression remained unchanging, and something about it was even more unsettling than her potentially reacting any other way. “I swear to you, Little Lamb, that I will have her prostrate herself before you and beg for your forgiveness!”
    He stepped back with his mouth agape. “H-hold on that's not necessary! We just need to rough her up a little, that's all!”
    She shook her head. “That will not do. Nobody shall walk away unscathed after disgracing you in such a means. I will not excuse anyone who dares to lay a hand on my Little Lamb! If she does not comply I will flog her. Even more so, I am not averse to drowning her!”
    “Freya?! That's! Not! Necessary!” TJ said as he gestured his frustration with curled fingers and waved his arms in front of him.
    She smiled at him, and there was no denying there was beauty in it but even more so he was terrified by it for good reason. She picked him up by his arms and kissed him on the forehead before she placed him at arm's length and stepped back.
    Amidst his panic a single thought came and went. Freya's recent action had made him realize that she was indeed an adult-a tall one like her sister, and he was rather short. Something he realized on a daily basis but thought little of in most situations.
    The thought was drowned out by his mind blanking on him due to her kiss. That's for lovers, is what he told himself.
    “I will protect you. Fear not.” The thoughts subsided immediately for his fears to settle in. He was very afraid, not for his sake but for hers, and potentially for Su and Choen Palm. She clasped her hands together as she prayed, “O star of the sky that bestows upon us your light, grant me your power in this time of need! Guide my path as I seek to quell the teeming evils from driving our world into darkness! God Ah, heed my plea as I embrace the light from yourself and my ancestor Undine! Allow me to awaken and walk the path of light once more as your Governor!”
    Silence. There was, without a doubt a myriad of ways that Freya could defend herself, and by extension her comrades, but how could he convince himself that would actually be the case?
    He watched on solemnly as two pillars of water emerged from the cracked ground beside Freya as she raised her arms up, her palms facing skyward. A string of water swirled and coiled around her body, the head like a dragon that descended upon her and consumed her whole.
    With that strength, could she really rival Choen Palm? Could he? He clenched his fist to his chest as he lowered his head. He had lost to her three times already, and he had lost many good companions in the process of their engagements. That was not even including the times prior to losing his memory. Was it possible that Freya and Kooh could join the fallen? What of Peorth?
    He cursed his weakness and the words of the darkness that spoke to him rang in his mind once more. Was it possible with that strength he could defeat Choen Palm? He took hold of his ponytail and felt the white strands amidst his fingers.
    What was most important to him? Protecting his allies? Or defeating his enemies? Had he not already come to a conclusion on that matter?
    The pillar of water that Freya had become burst and a gentle mist fell upon the area as she was reborn as God's Governor of Water. A stream of water surrounded her like a mantle while a robe fluttered to the ground covering a majority of her body, but upon the revealed skin he could see runic markings.. Her hair and eyes had become a deep sea blue, the latter gaining a familiar glow. She looked to him solemnly before she approached again.
    She embraced him once more as she gently closed her eyes and smiled. “You are afraid...are you not?”
    With her arms wrapped around him it was hard to breathe, but he still got enough air to resist pulling away. Her presence was calming, her embrace warm and her scent that of the sea. The sound of it was accompanied by their proximity, and TJ could not help but think of Orca Beach. “A...a little...” He muttered under his breath. He did not want to admit it and yet...something about her made it hard to hide.
    “You need not fear Little Lamb. I will protect you with all that I am.”
    His face flushed as he closed his eyes and resigned. He held her in turn and nodded solemnly. Her gentle maternal presence reminded him of someone, but he could not put his finger on it at the time. Disregarding that, he wanted to make the most of that moment-to burn the image and the feeling that accompanied it to his mind so that someday, perhaps he would recall it.
    “The time to fight has long since passed. I shall go.” At those words she flew away and jointed the battle as TJ watched.
    He clenched his fists with renewed resolve. The use of the Chaos Frequency was not something he needed now. With the strength of his friends he was able to defeat Gula while using it to a minimum degree. He also defeated Avaritia without it-without a doubt, he could defeat Choen Palm. At the very least, he would be able to hold her off.
    The time for him to fight was now.

    As he rushed into the chaos of the broken Elias he caught a glimpse of a series of sparks from Su's Lucent Dissonance and saw as she rushed down the Heartbreaker with a series of Arrows of Light.
    “'S about time you clowns decided to get in this!” She shouted as she took a pair of swipes at her mark and followed it with a roundhouse kick.
    Judging by the way she fought, she could no longer force herself to use her broken arm but still performed all her casting and attacks with her weapon arm.
    In the wake of Su's attacks bolts of water rained down from the sky like bullets and pelted the Heartbreaker if she was unfortunate enough to be caught within Freya's barrage.
    “Come now, is this the best you children have to offer? You have hardly even scratched me with your mediocre attacks!” Choen Palm roared with laughter as she went on the offensive and forced Su back. “Vanish!” She raised a hand skyward and a dark sphere appeared above it releasing a series of violet magic missle type spells that followed after Freya.
    TJ ran towards Su as he closed his fist and held it out before him to release a flash of light. “Sunlight!” He shouted as the sphere expanded and burst.
    Choen Palm covered her eyes while TJ augmented Su's weapons. She stormed towards their adversary and cut a swath across her arm and thrusted her dagger behind her to meet Choen Palm's blade. Moments before Su was torn in half by the weapon she backflipped onto the Heartbreaker's shoulders and pulled her down with both legs.
    The moment the two hit the ground TJ raised a hand as he shouted, “Gotcha! Thunderbolt!” With a strum of his weapon a single bolt came down from the sky and struck her arm, only leaving a smoking trail in its wake.
    “Weak!” She cackled.
    “Broken Wings!” Su shouted as she hurled her dagger and it struck Choen Palm's blade. As she appeared on it she grabbed the blade and followed it with a spinning kick but found her leg grabbed mid-air.
    Choen Palm slammed Su into the ground once but released her grip as a body of water swirled around her before it rose up and imprisoned her in a sphere.
    TJ began to strum his guitar and Arrows of Light surrounded him before he held out a hand. “Twenty-five Arrows of light!”
    He watched the spell soar towards her and used the opportunity to prepare songs to bolster his allies spells, physical and magical defenses.
    Choen Palm held out one of her hands and a massive maw opened up upon the palm and engulfed the water prison, releasing her from its grip. “Gula! Banishment of Light!” She shouted as she held the same hand out once more. An odd portal like a black hole opened before it and engulfed all of the Arrows TJ had fired. She laughed as some of the wounds she had received began to heal and both TJ and Su looked on in awe.
    “Watch those spells dumbass! She knows the ins and outs of the Contemptuous Arts so don't make her stronger would you?!” Su hissed.
    At that moment Freya descended from the sky like an arrow and collapsed against the ground into a puddle of water. Choen Palm dodged the blow, but judging by the result perhaps that was not the attack. The puddle spread out and three Freays emerged from the water, each took up her appearance.
    “A five versus one hmm? Fine then, come at me.” Choen Palm said as she grinned devilishly.
    The Freya's nodded to each other and TJ and Su went on the offensive.
    Choen Palm matched each Governor strike for strike-despite their dual-blades she was able to fend them off with a single blade and her claws. Su dove from above and came down with a slash before she performed a low sweeping kick. The Heartbreaker leapt over the blow and leaned back moments before one of the Freya's cut her throat open.
    She used her hand to backflip upon touching down and jumped back while she kicked one of the clones to the ground. She raised the blade and cut its torso in half, causing it to return to water and her to sink ankle-deep into the puddle.
    While she cursed her foolishness TJ came to a skidding halt as he placed a hand below his outstretched arm. “Radiant Blast!” He shouted as a powerful, short-ranged jet of light was fired from his hand and knocked the Heartbreaker out of the puddle and to the ground.
    “You're not through yet!” Su shouted as she stomped the ground and the earth rose up forcing Choen Palm into the air. She pointed her dagger at the rising target. “Spear of Heaven!” A thin but quick beam of light fired from the tip of her weapon and moments before it made contact Choen Palm opened the maw and devoured it. “Shit!”
    As she touched down both Freya's joined hands and held out their open hands causing a pair of dragons made of water to rise up from the ground and pursue the Heartbreaker. When one of them seemed to devour her Su immediately rushed to the location while TJ followed suit and the two were caught off guard.
    From within they could hear Choen Palm's next incantation. “Sloth, Envy, Pride! Ungodly Retribution!” The dragons both burst as a beam of massive violet energy surged forth through each and into one of Freya's clones. TJ and Su both dodged aside and the latter tumbled aside as the beam grazed her leg.
    “God fucking damn it!” She snarled as she gripped the bloody wound.
    “Su!” TJ shouted as he rushed to her side. “Are you alright?!” He helped her to her feet and pulled her aside behind some rubble.
    “Forget about me stupid! Get her!” She pointed to Choen Palm before she started shoving a hand in his face. “Look dumbass!” The Heartbreaker had one hand outstretched, likely that which fired the beam, but her blade had returned to a normal human hand and was pressed against the gem in her chest. “That strike of yours actually hurt her. The one thing that stupid bitch didn't account for is your one biggest weakness-the revealed gem.” Su grinned devilishly, but weakly. “Put the hurt on that thing and she'll crumble from the pain.”
    He gave her a puzzled look as he sat her down. That was his weakness? But he had never heard that before, nor could he recall any instances where someone had used it to defeat him. How did she know that? He shook off the thought as he drew his guitar and began to strum it to heal Su's wound. “How's that? Any better?” He asked once he finished the song.
    She got to her feet and shook it gently. “It's not bad, the pain's not there but the bleeding isn't gonna stop so easily. Whatever the hell she used, she did it full well knowing we won't be able to heal it up right off the bat.” Su clicked her tongue. “Bitch isn't entirely stupid, I'll give her that. Let's not screw around too long though, we don't have healing spells on our side so we're at a huge disadvantage. This battle is kill or be killed, got it?”
    He knit his eyebrows. That was exactly what he was most concerned about, and had gravely hoped that it would not prove to be the case. But what choide did he have? What could he have expected, entering a battle with the Heartbreaker, and his arch nemesis?
    He closed his eyes to mull over the thought. Choen Palm was a powerful enemy, and one that he was close to overcoming, but at a greater cost than he could afford. Someday, he would have to overcome her because she stood between him and the Agasura King. The Sinners, Choen Palm and eventually Asmodeus, his ultimate enemy.
    If Asmodeus was God Ah's Right Hand, could someone like him really rival such a being? That being Adonai and Amae had called Father, he knew not what it was but it had a presence that made him realize that his existence was small in comparsion despite being the Abellan. It made him realize his own powerlessness and he hated to think about it, but he could not deny it either. He could not run away from the fate he had chosen, neither did he want to see those involved in that very fate die because he was too scared to be that which they believed him to be.
    He shook off his unease once more and clenched a fist to his chest. If he could do it once, he could defeat Choen Palm again. With Peorth, Su and Freya by his side, he would do all in his power to see the battle through, if not to save all those that he could.
    Think TJ! What spells can you recall now that you've remembered another part of your past? He slapped both cheeks as he let the thought sink in. If Choen Palm had a few new spells and tricks up her sleeve, he would just have to put those he recalled to work.
    “I'm ready Su! Let's go!” He said with confidence.
    “That's a good expression. Back me up and I'll rip that gem out of her chest yeah?” She said with a grin.
    TJ's wings grew while Su's shrunk and he leapt onto the piece of rubble before him while Su stormed towards the Heartbreaker. He leapt from where he stood and jumped a second time to the rooftops of the stores and leapt from one to the next while he eyed the positions of his companions. Freya remained locked in combat with their adversary, remaining in flight but using it as extra mobility as she flew to and fro in a flurry of strikes.
    He eyed Su's position and called to mind a prayer. Perhaps it was a simple one, but it was one that would definitely be more effective than a common spell. “By the strength of my conviction I call upon thee! Become that which will bind and throttle the muzzle of evil incarnate! Gleipnir!” He dove from the building with a single backflip and aimed both hands down towards Choen Palm. Golden chains surged forth from them and circled around her before they confined her. As he neared the ground he performed a second bacfklip and wrapped the chains around his wrist as he skidded to a halt.
    “Let's see you devour these, Choen Palm!”
    She opened her mouth to speak but no words came and instead she silently grit her teeth.
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    TJ

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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sat Dec 12, 2015 5:40 pm

    There was something I wanted to say here, but it completely slipped my mind sometime between me getting out of bed and me getting back into it. Twice.

    Here comes Freya to sink your ships and mine:
    A great person once said, "Make love, not war". I suggest both, as in, making love on the battlefield. NOTHING IS SACRED HERE.
    With that out of the way, let's get down to it!

    In truth, the chapter title was actually from FF14's Heavensward. It was an astrologian quest by the name of 'Loved by the Sun', or at least as that's what the wiki says(Yoshi P. 2015). I'm using my glorious college knowledge to cite things completely incorrectly. Bear with me here.
    Jokes aside, I loved the quests, and the name, which is a portion of the reason I wanted to borrow it. It isn't the first time something of this sort has happened of course, both in Sanc and Frequency. That aside, the main reason I chose this was because of the events of the chapter, and what they might imply. As one would expect, the quote that follows it would likely have something to do with this also, and I had picked Freya for it this time around. The reason for this was because it would draw the reader's attention to her, both giving the sense she would potentially have something to do with the chapter, and also elicit the thoughts that the name referred to her.
    This too, was a red herring. It's true she does appear, and she does love TJ but the name wasn't referring to her specifically.
    ....Now that I think about it, since it hasn't happened yet this could totally be a spoiler. It's more of a...will-they won't-they thing? Maybe?? Maybe I should have left this until the end of the chapter like a smart person??? Well we're in it now so I'll tag it.
    Chapter's Title Explanation:
    As the story goes, earlier on it told how Freya was meant to succeed Remedi as the elder of the two. In doing so, not only would she become the next proxy, she would also be in Peorth's shoes right now. But things went wrong, like they're bound to in this story. Thus, that's Peorth's role now, and as you could imagine, she harbors feelings the same as her sister, but of course not to such an extent.
    Though Freya might have a role to play in this chapter and it implies that it's one of great importance, you'll find out exactly how deeply Peorth feels and how far she's willing to go to save her comrades. As you'd expect, you do get glimpses of that earlier on, but we also have to keep in mind that she has very particular feelings about her sister, and even more so about her relationship with him. Conflict. So much conflict. The reluctance she shows before she departs here is a sign of that, but just as is with everything else, sooner or later the two will have to face each other properly.
    No they're not going to fight. Some people in this series can be civilized! Though it'd be pretty cool!
    That matter aside, in truth I was torn between naming the chapter 'Beloved by the Sun' and 'Beloved of the Sun'. I know it's a one word difference, but the thing about language is the implications of it! The reason this all started was because I couldn't recall the title from FF14 and I got mixed up between the two so I was like '??? Which was it again?!' Then I considered the two and weighed the meanings and what the chapter implied.
    I settled for the latter because of the relationship of the two-like Su and TJ, neither knows how the other feels about them, so the title implies an unrequited love. All it takes is one idiot to blurt out how they feel and everything will be peaches and gravy, but where's the fun in that, am I right? More sexual tension! More fastness!

    Also I remembered something important! There was a class discussion about love and fetishes(the two were...you know, not THAT closely linked, but it was within the same day! For the record, it was more the concept of a fetish and not the...actual thing. I could totally discuss that, though). There was a triangle diagram that explored three different types of love, and how depending on which two sides you mix you get different results. If it's a persistent point of interest I'll find it and post it here.
    On that topic but not exactly that, I wanted to talk a little about intimacy in this series.
    It might be something we think little of more often than not-this may depend on the society we live in of course. Contact with the same or opposite sex could be a big deal or small, and sometimes this varies just from person to person. What does this have to do with Frequency? Well, the amount of contact between characters often shows how close their relationship is. Take TJ and the Asvartlim siblings for example-there's hugs every now and again.
    For Peorth, it's very infrequent. She maintains a certain distance, but under certain circumstances she'll close that distance. In this case, it tells quite a bit about her personality, no? The times where she embraced him were 1)Their reunion after he was released from the hospital 2)Their weird...sleepover...thing 3)Their reunion after being separated in the Gourmet's Valley. Typically when she fears for his safety, or after being apart for long periods. The second was the big tell, as she confessed that she would not be separated from him again.
    In Freya's case, they're more like a greeting. Both hugs and kisses. They're nothing out of the usual for her, but the second kiss was to quell his fears. TJ is also very small, literally. I probably don't mention it often, but because he's lacking the HoY pieces, he stopped growing so he looks like a pre-teen atm. It was mentioned near the end of Frequency, but he'll grow up someday.
    In the same vein, their personalities match their elements just a little bit.
    Still, a thought that I had is just on the concept of contact. It's hard to put into words, really. What I want to express is how much emotional distance can make physical distance change from 'right next to each other' to being 'a massive chasm' between you and them. Though they may be close physically, the distance between the hearts of the two could substantially change everything. This, can be tough to convey in writing, but something I'd like to be able to do. I'm not implying that it's going to happen in the future by any stretch of the imagination! Just a thought, and something I did aim to convey with the last chapter. This is just me...putting those thoughts into words.
    Articulation never was my strong suit. Neither was English. Actually it totally is! It's all I'm good at, and I've met people who speak english as a second language better than I am! It's a tragedy!

    Now back to the story, Skuld is a national treasure. Her speech patterns don't need an explanation, since I did that somewhere in the USSR threads. As for the sweeping, she does that when she's nervous. Or cleaning. I'm sure you guessed that lol. Great broom, that.
    As for Vanir, he has two terrible new nicknames for TJ and Peorth. I decided to put the accent on the e because I felt it might help a little bit to distinguish the sound it would make. I think the french e has the same sound as the e in Amae's name. I realized that well...I don't think the English language's e can even make that sound so I figured it'd help to add that. It pains me to admit it, but I did all that for the sake of one bad joke. Forgive me Ghibli. My life's calling insists that I do great injustices(more like terrible, terrible slights) to everyone and everything with my terrible writing and worse jokes. Well...maybe it doesn't pain me.
    It's not all just a joke though! There's reasons for this of course but you know...well, you're more familiar with symbolism than I am. I suppose that might work better for the former than the latter, but I'll leave that up to your imagination.
    As for the reason he totally ran? Well...it's Vanir. Just ask yourself why would Vanir suddenly run away and you might be able to come to something of a conclusion on his unusual actions.

    Moving on! Why would Kooh ask Peorth to get the adventurer's out of there? Two reasons! The first, she's the strongest of the three of them. Beneath that emotionless face and cute frilly, winged dress lies the heart of a terrifying warrior princess. It may be the reason Vanir ran. She can be scary when she wants to be. Anyway, second reason! There's no way Peorth would accept having Freya stand in for Kooh if she was there to help it. She'd get her off the battlefield instead.
    As I mentioned yesterday, I've spent the past few weeks watching Utawarerumono every now and again and it got me thinking about what it means to be a leader. Of course, that's on a much, much grander scale than Frequency, but the choices the characters have to make and the strategizing and...well it's a great watch. I won't go too into detail on that because I rant.
    But anyway, you know how Peorth is. She's very particular about the health of her comrades, and if she senses danger she'll fight in their stead, or put herself on the line to protect them. I suppose that's a major reason she reached mama bear status lol.

    I really want to play around more with the Einherjar. Sooo much potential! So many stances! It's an interesting way to shake up the formula, rather than having TJ hit things with his guitar lol. Though I have to admit, as I wrote it I was conflicted as referring to TJ(Velvet) by his name or hers. It'd be easier to recognize that it's Velvet if I said so, which may be better if I was to do it that way. On the other hand, it does distinguish when he's in his body and when he's in hers so it's not ALL bad, but it could be simpler after the change. Since this is only the second time I'd actually utilized the Synergism ability in the story, I think I need some more time to mull it over before I come to a definitive conclusion.

    I've recalled something important. The reason I was talking about fetishes! I need to discuss the importance of THEM GM THIGHS. Just kidding! Peorth's dress was something she actually put her character in once upon a time, which was what I used as the basis when everyone got an outfit change in Sanctuary. Somewhere along the way, between then and writing the Foe Mansion adventure I considered her wearing it not just because of that reason, but to also keep her secondary weapon hidden. This was a concept I explored further in USSR-the idea that though most adventurers would only use one weapon because they know the skills of it, they might carry a second in case of danger. Here Peorth finally reveals that she keeps that dagger close at hand, and she entrusts it to Kooh who once again proves she's not just a one-trick pony.
    Also who doesn't love a little service? Maybe it was all part of her plan?! A certain someone got an eyeful.
    As for the reason she carries that dagger, I won't tell you yet! It pertains to the fates of the God's Governors, and Peorth's also, though it wasn't listed.

    A concern of mine I have with this chapter thus far, is that I can't help but feel Freya should have had more dialogue throughout the battle. She does, but she doesn't say, so her presence does feel a little weaker due to it. I mean, between all the mockery and name calling that's par for my writing, her input might actually be valuable. She might not join in on that per se, but if she said more I'd feel a bit better about the whole situation. I might try to remedy that when I continue working on it sometime this week.
    Hopefully, if I make the time. My body clock's been fucky the last couple days. And my computer too. It literally turns itself on. What computer does that?! I don't get a lot of sleep because of this.

    Anyway, last thing I wanna cover about the update thus far(since the battle more or less speaks for itself). In truth, I still have mixed feelings about TJ using prayers. I haven't worked around the matter enough to create solid borders for when and who can use it yet. Of course, not everyone and their mother will be using them, but I still can't help but wonder if it's too early for him. I'd considered having him begin to learn a few after he obtains the 'Metamorphosis' ability but even so, it shouldn't be impossible for him to do yet as the Abellan.
    In that regard, I'd considered the possibility of him being able to learn and perform so basic prayers. Just as it is with Invoking, he's able to do it, but nothing too grand. Choen Palm and Su are much more able when it comes to that, and it shows how powerful they can be when they do use it, so I do feel a bit better about it. I'd thought about him using the Awakening Arts instead, but in this case it seems to be more of an extreme of the two. As we all know, the Awakening Arts are class based, so one can't just be good with Light based spells, they also need to be proficient with their class. These spells and stances were created and used by the best of the best in their class, and as you'd expect they're extremely powerful.
    In short, I think him knowing a few basic prayers isn't out of line for him. They're things he knew, but forgot. So long as I don't overdo it, both in scale and in amount, it shouldn't feel like he reached his maximum strength and stagnated so early on in the story. Thankfully, Gleipnir isn't too far out there, nor something so grand that it would feel out of place at this point in time.

    That's about all of the important stuff I have to say today! I'm working on status ailments in the story! Yay! Also the next dungeon's mostly storyboarded.
    In truth I suppose storyboarding might kill the surprise a little but it's not like it can be helped. I'm forgetful! There's a 70% chance I'll forget something and completely destroy the continuity. Though this might not be the problem people have with suspense and whatnot. It's been 2 years and I still feel like I'm an amateur at this. I've still got a long way to go and a lot to learn, so bear with me here. About EVERYTHING. Geeeeeez.

    Now for a short unrelated rant.
    The other day I finished the Idolm@ster. Went innot knowing what to expect, and came out rather pleased. I think Producer is best girl. Producerm@ster when? I mean sure it defeats the whole puporse of the series but we've all gotta take risks once in a while right?
    In truth now that I can't play FF more often than not, I dunno what to do with myself. On the bright side, the time I would've spent there I spend here every now and again, and I'm finally making the time to play Stella Glow. But it's like an addiction! The salt...there's so much salt...
    My tears aside, looks like the semester is finally coming to a close. So I suppose I'll have more time during the break? I honestly dunno what I'll do with it but I'll try to make some headway with chapter 8 and see where it takes me from there. Most of it is already storyboarded, the rest I'm throwing around ideas in my head to close it. There's gonna be cute stuff. I'm looking forward to it. Of course, you know how I write and nothing comes for free! With great fluffiness comes horrible, horrible suffering! Yay!
    Surprisingly I don't have much to complain about today, but by the end of this week I definitely will. Final week. Every class this week is gonna be a final boss. The horror. I'll put the maximum amount of minimal effort I'm willing to invest into my life so that I'll have a semblance of a future.
    Wish me luck! Until next time!
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    TJ

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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sun Dec 27, 2015 4:55 pm

    This part is just the end of the battle, since what comes after is spoiler territory.
    Ch. 8 (Pages 324-334):
    He turned his focus to his companions. “Su! Freya! Now's your chance to strike!”
    “I shall take you up on that offer Little Lamb.” Freya answered with a confident smile. She raised a finger skyward and the water of her mantle surrounded her from her head to her feet. Following that she outstretched both hands and it took it's place before the palms, then fired out in a powerful wave. “Howling Torrent!” The high pressure stream of water collided with the Heartbreaker and she struggled to keep her ground. Eventually it came to be too much for her to stand and she was slowly pushed back before she lost her balance and was dragged away by the spell.
    As she neared the end of the chain TJ let out a grunt of effort as he pulled her out of the stream and swung her around full circle.
    “Bring her over here!” Su shouted as she pounded an open palm. “Divine Might!”
    “I got it!” TJ shouted back as he turned on the balls of her heels and brought the Heartbreaker towards his companion.
    “I've waited a long time to do this!” Su reeled a fist back and when Choen Palm came within her radius she threw it with the force of her whole body behind it. TJ was dragged forward due to the sudden change in force and skidded across the dirt towards them before he regained his ground.
    A devilish grin spread across Su's face. “Oh I'm not done with you yet!” With a wave of her arm she summoned ten arrows of light and sheathed her dagger afterwards. She picked up the bound Choen Palm by her leg and hurled over her shoulder onto the ground before she lifted her by the hem of her dress' neckline. She let go as she raised a leg for a single high kick and raised her open hand. “Radiant blast!” As Choen Palm ascended from the initial attack she rose ever higher due to the second, but the onslaught was not finished yet. “Go!” She shouted as she pointed her finger to unleash the arrows. She took a step back, punched an open palm again and placed a hand to the ground. “Lucidity! Warden's Wrath!” A powerful beam of light erupted from the ground and took Choen Palm with it. “Oh that felt good! Alright she's all yours blue blood.”
    The time for the chain ran out and it faded from TJ's grip. “You don't have to hold back any for my sake Freya! She's all yours!” TJ shouted to her.
    “Then I shall go!” The God's Governor clasped her hands together as a magic circle that featured her element's symbol at the center of it appeared beneath her. “Pentabind!” The water from her mantle surged up towards the airborne heartbreaker and wrapped itself around her waist and fettered her. Five spheres surrounded her and each wriggled and writhed before they each released intense jets of water that shot her hither and thither from one to the next. She raised a hand skyward and clenched her fist, causing them all to fire at once.
    When the spell came to an end Choen Palm fell to the ground between them and Freya's mantle returned to her as she smiled proudly.
    “You have wronged the Little Lamb, and in doing so you have committed a great injustice. One that I am willing to forgive, but will never forget. On your knees, peasant, and beg for his forgiveness!” She snarled. TJ looked at her with both shock and disbelief. She was super hardcore!
    A faint chuckle escaped Choen Palm's lips. The three regrouped as they cautiously eyed the Heartbreaker. Burned, cut all over and badly wounded, she still rose again and laughed all the while. Her laugh became a haughty cackle as her body leaned to and fro until she stabilized herself. A single crimson eye peered through her white bangs as she grinned devilishly. “Beg? Peasant? Me? Ha! Ha ha ha! How cute! I know not where you come from Cerebian, but clearly you do not know who you are challenging!”
    Freya prepared the daggers she wielded once more without a hint of fear. “I stand as God's Governor of Water, and Agasura like you will be struck down! No matter how many times you rise again, I will defeat you as the guardian of the Abellan!”
    “Will you now?” Her grin grew wider as she leaned forward with her arms back. “Then come, Cerebian! Let me enjoy this to the fullest!”
    “Prepare yourself!” Freya shouted as she took a stance and shot towards the Heartbreaker.
    “Freya wait-” TJ's cry fell on deaf ears as the Governor soared off.
    As she neared a magic circle appeared beneath her in flight and she immediately flew out of its range as a series of violet hands emerged from the ground and threatened to pull her into a crimson vortex.
    “Safe...” He muttered with a sigh of relief.”
    “Now's not the time to get comfy stupid! After her!”
    As Freya neared she clasped her hands together and a magic circle appeared behind Choen Palm, starting out as a tiny sphere of water that grew ever larger, eventually taking form of a tidal wave. She readied her weapons as she flew ever closer, and the moment she neared she was forced back as her wrists were shackled and she found herself trapped in a violet case while a series of tiny spheres fired lasers at her from all sides.
    “What a fool you are.” Choen Palm laughed as Freya's spell came undone and the water fell to the ground behind the Heartbreaker. She snapped her finger and a magic circle appeared above it and released a steady stream of miasma.
    “I shall give your beloved Abellan the sight of your suffocation. Let this serve as a warning to all of you, that your titles mean nothing to me.”
    “Freya!” TJ shouted as he drew his guitar and augmented it.
    “You find a way to break her out!” Su said as she made her way around the prism. “I'll keep her busy!”
    TJ nodded gravely as he swung his guitar at the prism and found himself reflected. “Come on! Come on!” Time and again he bashed his guitar against the prism as the sound of Freya choking reverted in his brain.
    He needed a new tactic. There had to be a spell that could counteract the prism. There had to be! He strummed his guitar and a thunderbolt crashed upon it, but to no avail. He clasped his hands together and lowered them to his side as he gained a powerful glow from the Radiance spell. He touched it with his finger and the prism made an odd sizzling sound at his touch, but it proved not to be enough. He slammed his fists against it time and again but none of it seemed to have any effect. “Fifty Arrows of Light!” He cried out as he summoned them one after the next-he fired each but they only hit the prism and dispersed afterwards.
    “Su what do I-” His voice began to sound frantic, bordering hystericlal.
    “How should I know?!” She shouted as she was caught in an onslaught of blades.
    She spread her wings and leapt away from Choen Palm while the latter plunged her arms into the shadows of a vortex. Su was grabbed by the leg and pulled into it before she was brought back out on the other side and crushed by the grip of a massive hand. Choen Palm's other hand became a maw once more that threatened to devour her within the next couple seconds.
    TJ looked on with terror before he shook off the feeling and transferred the effect of radiance from him to her. At that moment Choen Palm dropped her and she managed to create some distance between her and their target but she looked at TJ with a mix of unease and thankfulness.
    “You didn't have to do that! I can just return to the crystal if things get bad, stupid!” She shouted to him. She turned her eyes back to Choen Palm and only found a puff of violet smoke.
    “Could you now?” She asked as she appeared behind her.
    “Shi-”
    “Poker face!” Her arm was covered in a sort of violet matter with crimson veins and she threw her fist forward toward Su.
    The Governor of Earth blocked her toso with both arms as she prepared to make a hasty retreat into the crystal, knowing exactly what would follow that gesture. But her body remained corporeal. A wormhole opened up and from it a massive fist followed. It collided with Su and dragged her back into one of the palace courtyard's walls and through it, only coming to a halt after it broke through the palace walls and left her body within.
    “Su?! Su!” TJ shouted. “Urrgh...” He collapsed to one knee as his eyes flickered to brown and his hair began to lose its snow white. “My...my powers...no...not now...”
    Choen Palm emerged through the cloud of dust and chuckled under her breath. “How the mighty have fallen. The once mighty Abellan and his merry band of Cerebians now lay broken and beaten.” She sauntered over to him and placed a finger to his chin. “Well? What will you do Abellan?” She smiled devilishly.
    “It would be a simple matter to kill you right now and do away with your companions. But I am not so cruel and callous.”
    “Liar!” TJ snarled as he held out a hand before him. “Hailsto-”
    Before he could finish the incantation she grabbed his wrist and crushed it using only a fraction of her strength. “Now now...there is no need for that, now is there? Shall we...say, come to an agreement?” She snapped her fingers and the miasma disappeared from within the prison, but Freya was not saved from the laser that both harmed and weakened her. “You dissolve the contract with the Cerebian, and I will not murder your friends. As I have in the past.” She smiled mirthlessly and this enraged him further.
    “I'll kill you!” TJ snarled as he gripped her wrist with his other hand and his eyes flickered to red.
    “Oh?” She said as she held a hand out and repulsed him. “'Tis a shame, I suppose. Coming to some sort of an agreement could have been arranged.” She snapped her fingers and the miasma began pouring into the chamber once more. “It is of little matter. I have already surpassed you in all respects, so I shall do away with you.” She grinned. “The world has little use for an Abellan.”
    She began another invocation and TJ realized he neither knew what she was going to use or what the effects would entail, but he had to do something to stop her-so he ran at her with reckless abandon.

    At that moment a voice pierced the sounds of the battlefield and brought both to a halt. “Warlord Style Awakening Technique! Descent of the Zealot!” A crimson blur descended upon the prism and when Peorth appeared between TJ and Choen Palm, she sheathed her weapon. The cuts appeared across the prism and it shattered. Freya faded away while Kooh took her place and slowly lifted herself from the ground.
    She looked to Choen Palm as she struggled to her feet and laughed weakly. “Ahh...guess she couldn't manage it either. That's okay! I'm good to go!”
    “You are not. Escape to the safe house. We shall settle this battle.” Peorth said as she approached Kooh and offered her the warp crystal the two shared.
    “But Princess...”
    Peorth shook her head and took a step back. “This is a matter that I will discuss no further. Escape immediately.”
    Kooh gave her a defeated smile before she took her advice and vanished from the field.
    “So you have come to challenge me also, Cerebian?” Choen Palm grinned. “As it should be. If you cannot agree with them, kill them and drag them along against their will!” She cackled as she cracked her knuckles.
    Peorth drew her weapon as she looked to TJ. “TJ, are you still able to fight?”
    He nodded grimly. “I can, but...Su...”
    Peorth nodded solemnly. “Go to her. I shall do battle with Choen Palm in your stead.”
    He nodded once. “I'll be back Chief. Just...just hang on!” He rushed towards the walls of the castle's courtyard and hopped over it with minimal effort.
    Even as he went further away from her, he could not get the sight of Choen Palm out of his mind. The more he thought of her the deeper his anger ran, and he could feel his Agasuric blood boiling to greater degrees with every single second that passed. If he did not regain some semblance of control soon, he would eventually succumb to it.
    He had his reasons for not wanting to outright kill Choen Palm, but what she had done and said was absolutely unforgivable. If she escaped his grasp again, the events of the past could repeat themselves. More of his allies could be severely hurt or killed, and both the fear and anxiety of the possibility caused his sense of self to dull. What could he do? What did he want to do? What would he do if push came to shove?
    He rounded the corner and entered through the aperture Choen Palm created to find Su on her feet, using the wall to balance herself out as she made her way towards him. A long trail of blood was left in her wake and both of her arms hung limply at her side, but she persisted nonetheless.
    “Su! What're you doing up? You need to rest!” He told her out of concern, but his voice had a vicious edge to it that he did not intend for.
    “'S fine.” She muttered as she looked up to him through her bangs. Her braid had come undone and her hat hung in her non-broken arm's hand. A single crimson eye looked at him through the dusty blonde hairs but even that showed the degree of weakness and exhaustion in her body. “You jumping Frequencies is healing up my wounds. At least, those that can heal.” She managed a brief laugh.
    “Don't fight anymore. You're in no state to do it. Just return to the crystal and let me and the Chief handle it!”
    “Return?” She gave him a lopsided grin. “Like hell I can do that.” He furrowed his brows. Now was not the time for her to be stubborn-under most circumstances she would be right, but in the state she was in she could not do anymore than she had thus far. “That bitch did something. She was ready for us, and she created a barrier of her own. I can't dematerialize to return to the crystal, so I'm stuck in this form.” She laughed bitterly, weakly. “Guess she outsmarted me this time around, so we're gonna have to fight until this is settled.”
    His eyes widened as she explained the status of their situation. Was it possible that Choen Palm knew they were coming and prepared for them? Or had she only predicted their arrival and prepared a countermeasure? “Shit! Shit shit shit!” TJ frantically rubbed his temples. “I'm gonna-no...no...I can't...I have to...”
    “Hey.” Her words brought him back to reality and he looked into her tired eye. “I'm gonna be real with you here. We've got low mana. The second we got back from that Instance, we went to our place. We didn't go to the Guild Room and replenish it at all, so if you're thinking of using the Divine Arts or becoming the Molly, don't bother. You can't. Anyway, what I'm saying is either you fight her with the Arcane Arts or the Contemptuous Arts. Other than those two, we're out of options. It's gonna be a battle of endurance from here on out.”
    He bit his lip as he looked at his shoes. He could not heal Su, Peorth, nor himself. He had memories of spells and such pertaining to the Contemptuous Arts and Arcane, but as things stood his strength with the Arcane Arts would be minimized due to him utilizing the Chaos Frequency.
    That matter aside, he specialized in support spells. From what he could recall, there were very few in his Chaos repertoire. Could he really manage given the circumstances?
    “But as I am now...I've no experience. Or at the very least, a lack of. If it's a battle of endurance it's not one that I can do well because of the way I use the Contemptuous Arts.”
    She grinned. “Obviously I'd know that. You're the type of idiot who gets hit, but just hits them back harder.”
    He pursed his lips. “You did it too!”
    She rolled her visible eye. “It was one time! Still, I suppose it's times like these that I can save your ass. I am the brains of this team after all.” She grinned.
    “Anyway, we'll just do like what we did on Toad Mountain. There's a spell similar to what we had done then that will let me take control of your body. If your memories are right I should be able to use it to take refuge in it also. Two birds, one stone.”
    He clenched his fist. “That's fine with me. Let's do it quickly, 'cause the Chief needs us.”
    She eyed him warily. “Freya not enough for you?” She shrugged the matter off. “Not important. Here I come.” She took a step back before she leapt towards him. “Haunt!”
    Her body split into a series of red and blue after-images that converged upon him from both his flanks. His body leaned back as his arms fell to his sides, and shortly after it adjusted and stood upright. TJ rolled his shoulders and gave an approving nod.
    “Been a while since I did this. Is this what it's like to control an Einherjar?” He asked himself.
    He frowned. “You know I can hear your thoughts loud and clear. Talking to myself is just plain weird.” He answered.
    “Making you as uncomfortable as possible is my duty.
    “Anyway, I'll try to keep you in one piece but I ain't making any promises, so deal with it!” He said with a grin.
    “Just don't...kill me I guess?”

    Peorth swung her spear in a wide arc as Choen Palm leapt backwards out of its reach. The guild master continued her assault with a forward stab that immediately transitioned into a Burst Lancer.
    “Why have you come here Choen Palm?! What is it that you seek in Elias?” She shouted  as she reeled her spear back and used it to deflect a series of violet blasts.
    “The better question is, what reason do I have to tell you, Cerebian?” She cackled as she descended on the guild master with a single blade.
    Peorth grit her teeth as she held her ground, the growing presence of a second Agasura drawing her attention away. Going by her intuition she suspected it was TJ's presence, and she stalled the attack briefly before she finally deflected her assailant.
    At that moment he descended upon the battlefield like a bullet and punched the Heartbreaker across the face before he grabbed her by the hem of her dress. He spun on the balls of his heels before he prepared to toss her in the opposite direction, then leapt off the ground and followed the action with a spinning kick.
    Peorth blinked solemnly as she watched the Heartbreaker be flung away while TJ cracked his knuckles. Judging by the flow of movement, the choice of action and the sheer skill of it all, it was without a doubt Suuba inhabiting his body. Though it was somewhat more difficult to tell, her presence could be sensed from within.
    “Suuba?” She asked to confirm her suspicions.
    “Yeah? What?” TJ asked in turn.
    “As I had thought...”
    He crossed his arms. “So you want me for something or you just trying to confirm your suspicions? I'm busy dishing out an ass kicking right now if you haven't noticed.”
    “It is both the former, and the latter.” She answered as she reached into her dress' pocket. “This may not be the time or the location, but I had received this from Vanir during my evacuation of the wounded and deceased. He suggested that I give it to you.”
    He pursed his lips. “Did he now? Well, whatever, let's see it.”
    He approached the guild master and the moment he took the note Choen Palm appeared behind him with her  blade coming down upon him like a reaper's scythe.
    Only a hair’s breadth before the blade decapitated TJ he drew his guitar and pulled away from neck to base of the weapon before he got a safe distance and went on the offensive with a wide swing.
    Choen Palm dropped below the range of his weapon and took a swipe at his legs but was stopped by Peorth's foot.  The guild master twirled her spear around before she thrusted it at her target three consecutive times, all misses. Following it she was flung off of the weapon before Choen Palm retreated a short distance.
    “How cocky you've become God's Governor!” She cackled as she grinned maniacally. “But it is no matter. You may be in control of the boy but that changes little. After all, I did choose to hold back...” The piece of the Heart of Yggdrasil contained within her emitted a powerful crimson light and a surge of wind to match.
    “She has strengthened herself at the cost of a greater mana output. Brace yourselves!” Peorth answered as she renewed her battle stance.
    “Did she?” Su asked before she emerged from TJ's body leaving him doubled-over for a couple of moments.
    In that time frame she took the note from his hands and unfolded it. “Great, yep...whatever.” Her eyes scanned the note as the Abellan came to and an angry vein began protruded from her forehead. Following it she crumpled the paper in her fist. “That fucking ass-clown! Who the hell does he think he is?!”
    TJ raised his head before he opened his eyes in surprise. “Huh? Su? Ah Chief...! I'm uhh...me again. Just me.”
    “Yeah you are. And you're on your own for now, I have to do something.”
    “W-what?!”
    “TJ, you must not let your guard down!” Peorth shouted as she rushed past him in an instant to clash with Choen Palm. “Her speed and strength...” The two broke away from each other and the latter rushed in for a second counterattack. “...have increased substantially within the few moments that just passed. Prepare yourself!”
    “I've got your back Chief!” TJ shouted as he drew his weapon and took to Choen Palm's blindside.
    Su took cover in an alleyway as she read the note thoroughly. In somewhat messy handwriting, it said:

    I might be able to help you out with that little thing you were interested in Succubas, but you've gotta prove to me you've got what it takes to do some Vanir style magic. If your predecessor and his Human companion could pull this stuff off, you can too right? I'm expecting a lot! <3

    He was goading her. Without a doubt, he was absolutely goading her, and it annoyed her to no end. But what really aggravated her was that he had the nerve to draw a heart at the end like it was the most natural thing in the world.
    And all this after he decided to fuck off in the middle of a battle. She would gut him the moment she got the information she wanted out of him, but for the time being she decided to set that aside.
    In much cleaner handwriting, there was more beneath the initial message, along with a set of characters that the God's Governor had never seen before. Perhaps that was a part of the incantation? The note continued:

    To perform the incantation you need to focus your mana into your hands, but not in the same way you would when refining it into a spell. You have to keep it as is, and release it to draw the runes! Follow the designs exactly as you see them and use the name of the incantation to complete it!
    I should warn you though, that the use of the spell is very, very dangerous! The strength of the spell increases the longer it is in effect, but the mana cost does also! Please use this with caution!

    Caution huh? She snorted as she scanned the runes for a moment and stuffed the paper into her pocket. If any of them had the luxury of being cautious they would avoid fighting that bitch. But she was not one to make mountains out of molehills.
    She looked down and clasped her available fist. It only took one hand to perform the incantation, so she would do just that. TJ could hold his own until she was done-he was a big boy.
    She held out her hand and pointed a single finger before she began to draw the runes in the air-a crimson trail of mana was left in its wake as she drew every rune that was listed for her to do.

    “Brute Force!” TJ snarled as he hauled the guitar over his shoulder and slammed it into the ground. His body was strengthened and the concrete shattered before the weapon as Choen Palm caught a glimpse of the attack and fled beyond his reach.
    “Gun Lance!” Peorth shouted as she spun her spear around and hurled it at an incredible speed. She spread her wings and bolted after it as Choen Palm and her grabbed it at the same time, one from the head and the other the shaft.
    “Too slow Cerebian!” Choen Palm cackled as she took a swipe at her with her blade.
    Peorth lowered herself before the blade could reach her and used her wings to push her further down while she brought Choen Palm down with her.
    She turned her body over and slammed the Heartbreaker into the ground before she reeled her weapon back and a magic circle appeared beneath her. This circle featured a blade lodged in a stone. “Warlord Style Awakening Technique! Heavenly Rain!”
    Peorth reeled her weapon back and with a single movement a flurry of stabs was unleashed from her weapon.
    “I'll follow your lead Chief!” TJ shouted as he raised a hand to the sky and a dark sphere appeared in the palm of his hand. He clenched his fist upon it and black sparks and crimson lightning surged from it before his entire arm was coated in a violet smoke. “Wrath! Envy! Sloth! Heathen's Gauntlet!”
    He grounded himself where he stood and the miasma cleared as a massive violet hand emerged from the remnants and gripped Choen Palm. The arm turned over and the fist closed tighter, revealing the bulging green veins all along it.
    A grin spread across her face and Peorth became wary. “TJ, be on your guard! I will try to assist!” The guild master landed upon the arm and put her wings away before she stormed towards the Heartbreaker.
    She could hear the name of the sins being listed off as she approached and moments before she came in range  the arm began to rumble and flung her off as Choen Palm broke free from its grasp. Black fire spread from where she was to it, and prior to it spreading the arm shrunk and seemed to constrict upon its original caster.
    The Heartbreaker stepped  back and pulled on it, forcing TJ to fly towards her and tumble across the ground, tangling himself in it before being set aflame. He let out long agonizing screams as his body was set aflame in its entirety.
    “TJ!” Peorth shouted as she spread her wings to rush to his side. “Broken Wings!” She hurled her spear in his direction but did not reach her intended target.
    The spear was caught by Choen Palm and the moment Peorth appeared on it she was tossed across the concrete. As she tumbled away and struggled to her feet, the spear followed shortly after. The weapon narrowly missed as she leapt off the ground with a little assistance from her wings.
    “Show me your terror Cerebian! I will feast on your fears!” The Heartbreaker snarled as she ran after the weapon and transformed her entire body into a strange four-legged eyeless creature with a massive maw, that dove towards the spear as Peorth reclaimed it.
    It almost seemed to devour her but Peorth managed to force the maw open by keeping her spear upright. With her feet planted firmly against a series of small teeth for grinding and her hands between the massive front teeth, she attempted to force the jaw open.
    “If you believe that you will best me...with such techniques...you underestimate me!” She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and opened them again with renewed resolve. “Divinity Exertion!” A gentle wave of light was emitted from her body and pulsed around her, and through Choen Palm. “Once more!” She released a second wave before she prepared her next stance. “Conqueror's Spirit!” A crimson energy surged around her like flames crackling to life. With a strained grunt of effort she forced the maw open and reclaimed her spear before she broke out of the bind.
    She took two stabs at the lower jaw of the maw as it fell away and bashed it aside before she shot to TJ's side with one powerful beat of her wings. As she skidded to a halt she tore the remnants of the spell that bound him and clasped her hands together. “Exile of Darkness!” A golden sphere surrounded him and as it faded away just he was left. His clothes, skin and hair were burnt and he gasped for air as he tightly gripped one of his arms where the fire burned through his skin, revealing the muscle beneath. The guild master looked sadly upon him but he still offered her a smile.
    “Don't look so sad Chief. I'm okay!” He said giving her his best smile, but she could see right through his front.
    “Revenge is sweet, is it not boy?” Choen Palm said as she approached the two grinning. Both of her hands were bleeding, but the fact seemed to bother her little. Peorth stood before him and took up her battle stance as she glared at the Heartbreaker. “Do not look so angry, Cerebian. The real fun is just beginning!”
    Peorth grit her teeth. “I cannot help but suspect that she is only becoming stronger the more we wound her. I had heard this was a trait that Agasura could adapt but...I had hoped this would not be the case for her. We must be cautious.”
    TJ managed to get to his feet and took a deep breath. “Kooh said we should get her to retreat but...I dunno if it'll be that easy.” He drew his guitar and held it in a battle stance. “It hurts a bit, but I'll recover given time. We'll get through this Chief.”
    Without looking back, she nodded once. Her eyes remained trained on the Heartbreaker but her vision instantly distorted the moment she vanished from sight.
    “To your left Chief!”
    “Sagacity!” Peorth spun on the balls of her heels to deflect Choen Palm's attack and stab her once before she reflected anything that followed it with Windmill.
    TJ leapt over her head and brought his guitar down upon Choen Palm but found the blow caught. Pain echoed through his body and he faltered before he fell to the ground and stumbled.
    “You're mine now!” The Heartbreaker snarled.
    “Not!” Su shouted as she held out a hand. “Zealous Creature!” The runes she had drawn surged to TJ's side and surrounded him as he was cradled in a sphere of black and crimson energy that forced the Heartbreaker back. “Ball's in my court now!” She rushed to his side and took refuge within him once more with Haunt as the energy was released like that of a barrier and repulsed both ally and adversary alike.
    His wounds began to heal rapidly, his body had grown in size slightly and became more muscular, and a crimson trail was left in the wake of his eyes.
    “If that asshole barista thinks I'll get beaten out by some dead old guy, he's got another thing coming! And so do you, Choen Palm!” He roared as he turned to her.
    “It's time someone avenged all those you killed in Hanamah!” A maniacal grin spread across his face. “You won't enjoy this!”
    “Beware, Suuba! We must not act so rashly in battling her! She will only grow stronger the more we harm her!” Peorth shouted.
    “And so will I!” At those words she shot off the ground as she reeled a fist back. “Bone Crusher! Choen Palm blocked the attack but the sheer weight and strength of the blow put a crack in the bone of her blade. As she touched down she zipped past her in the blink of an eye and followed the attack with a roundhouse kick across the face.
    “You're slow, Heartbreaker! Far too slow!”  TJ clenched both fists at his side. “Spite!” Where Choen Palm stopped a massive violet spike tore through the ground and grazed her as she dodged aside into Peorth who grazed her with her spear and followed it up with a stab and a spinning strike.
    “Suuba you are letting the Agasuric blood cloud your senses! You must not let yourself be blinded by revenge and slay Choen Palm! You must not forget that she has merged with the Heart of Yggdrasil! Should she die, it may be lost forever!”
    “Stop your complaining!” TJ roared in turn as he leapt after her and tackled her to the ground before he spun her around to hurl her. Choen Palm dug her claws into one of his arm before she was thrown and reversed the throw.
    He flew across the street and smashed through the window of the beauty shop.
    Before Choen Palm could follow up the attack Peorth's spear landed in her way and the guild master kicked her as she ripped the spear out of the concrete. “This will not do...I must...”
    Choen Palm wiped the blood from her mouth and grinned. “Come now Cerebian! Is that truly the best that you have to offer?!” She spit out the remaining blood and raised her head to look down on her opponent. “You bore me!”
    Peorth closed her eyes. She would not let such simple derisions get the better of her. But she had to act quickly, not out of fear of Choen Palm, but for TJ's safety, and the future of the Cerebians.
    TJ had little mana and had to resort to using the Contemptuous Arts in order to continue to combat her, but he also ran the risk of successfully killing her in doing so. She was hesitant about using the rest of the mana left in her pool in order to combat Choen Palm, but this had proven to be a race against time. Either Choen Palm would surrender and potentially flee, or Suuba would gore her.
    To ensure the former, she would have to act. “Release, Memorius Sanctum!” Peorth shouted with a wave of her hand. All four wings emerged from her back and her hair turned snow white.
    “So you have finally decided to stop holding back, have you Cerebian? Good! Show me the extent of your strength!”
    Peorth closed her eyes as she held her spear skyward. “By the extent of my resolve I speak these words. Lend me the strength and wisdom of my ancestors to pierce the veil of darkness that encroaches upon our world! Allow me to become the guiding light for the forsaken souls! Valkyrie Stance!”
    Her spear gained a powerful glow and extended with the light that it created and she held it in one hand behind her back, the head of it faced the ground as she focused her eyes on the Heartbreaker.
    “I shall do whatever it takes to protect my allies and safeguard the hope of the Midgardians! You shall take no more lives this day, Choen Palm!”
    “Try it Cerebian!” She cackled as she rushed towards her.
    Peorth took off from where she stood and the head of the spear met the blade, the former immediately deflected the latter. “Swallowtail!” Peorth bashed Choen Palm's incoming claw aside, thrusted the spear into her chest and dragged her into the air with an upwards thrust. At the peak of her ascent she brought the spear down and dug the weapon further into Choen Palm's stomach. She ripped the bloody weapon out and spun it above her head before she leapt and prepared to plunge it through her again. As the spearhead came down upon the Heartbreaker she seeped into the shadows while a field of spears emerged around the guild master.
    She leapt out of the shadows while Peorth recovered from the stance, and at that moment TJ shot out from the ruins and kicked her aside before he touched down.
    He began to pull shards of glass from his back and tossed them aside. “You need to be more careful Su…” He muttered as he sighed. “That weird skill you used does make me a lot tougher and it helps me heal quicker, but this stuff still hurts.”
    “If it’s not life threatening, it’s not worth making a big stink about.” Su answered.
    Choen Palm shout out of the cloud of dust she kicked up and brought down her massive claw like a hammer where the two once were.
    “TJ, Suuba, ware your mana! It is constantly decreasing!” Peorth shouted as she came to a halt and armed her spear. “Broken Wings!” She hurled the weapon and Choen Palm stepped aside from the blow. She reappeared on it shortly after it drifted past her target and she hurled it again, grazing Choen Palm’s left arm.
    “Then I’ll just hold back on the spells!” TJ shouted as he rushed towards her reeling a fist back. He threw the punch and Choen grabbed it, while Peorth appeared on her spear again moments after it drifted past him and hurled it skyward.
    “I will cut you down!” The Heartbreak snarled as she took a swipe at him and cut his shoulder. He narrowly avoided losing an arm by bashing the blade aside with his free fist. He raised an arm and slammed his elbow into her wrist to break the hold she had on him as Peorth descended upon her, spear first.
    Choen Palm fell away as Peorth touched down and took her stance once more. The flesh from her arm burned and hung from her triceps, but it was for a limited time. She gave them a grin as beads of sweat ran down her cheek and tentacles the same colour as the arm emerged from within and connected to the rest, pulling it back together.
    “That hurt, Cerebian. I did not appreciate that.” She said as she rolled her shoulders.
    “We have only begun.” The guild master answered, but deep down she knew that she too, was pushing her limits. TJ would not last as long as she would either, and if he went beyond that…
    “It seems this will not be enough to tide you over.” She said before her lips curled into a malevolent grin. “Pride, Wrath, Envy, Sloth! Punishments of the Sinner! Spirits of the Fallen! Rain death upon my adversaries! Hornet Nebula!” A magic circle appeared beneath her as she raised her hand skyward, a second appeared above the entirety of the battlefield.
    “I will not let you!” Peorth shouted as she took off from where she stood towards Choen Palm.
    “It’s useless! Sloth, Envy, Pride! Siphoning Rush!”
    As she outstretched her second hand Peorth shot up on an arc towards Choen Palm but found herself forced back nonetheless as a few blue spheres were dragged from within her.
    “This will not do…” She muttered as she looked to the sky. Above them a black hole opened and from within a pink sphere gathered energy to it as it grew in size. “Defend yourself TJ!”
    “Well this is shitty. Any ideas?” Su asked as she looked skyward for him.
    “We’re gonna have to just take a guess on this one…” He answered.
    As the sphere reached its maximum capacity it began to release a powerful noise before it unleashed a myriad of needles from within that rained down upon them like a shower of bullets.
    “Surrogate Rotor!” Peorth roared as she held her spear above her head and rapidly twisted it to deflect the incoming projectiles.
    “To my side, Temperantia!” TJ roared as his crystal lit up and Ardoss emerged from it.
    “I’ll back you up!” He shouted as he clapped his hands together. “Sorcerer Style Awakening Technique! Banshee Isle!” He outstretched both arms and the wind immediately kicked up and surrounded the three in the form of a series of small hurricanes that pulled the thorns away and fired them into the surrounding buildings.
    The Hornet Nebula spell faded as did Banshee Isle, calming the winds, but the needles remained.
    “Well done TJ! Now we must strike back!” Peorth shouted as she took off towards Choen Palm again.
    “Right!” He shouted as he ran after her.
    “Wrong!” Choen Palm shouted and both found themselves pinned down.
    “I cannot act…a disabling type spell?!” Peorth looked to TJ over her shoulder as the needles that were blown away gathered around them.
    “Neither can I…” TJ muttered uneasily.
    “Got any more tricks?” Su asked through him.
    “Not that I can…” He paused. “Maybe we can!” He clenched his fists. “Gula!” He roared. The moment the needles shot towards them, those that were aimed for Peorth changed their trajectory to him and pierced him from all sides. Following the event, an orb like the black holes Choen Palm once summoned appeared on both hands briefly and vanished shortly after.
    “I think you fucked that one up dude,” Su added.
    The needles shattered and a crimson pulse emanated from TJ’s body as he let out an enraged roar. Strength welled up within him and his eyes flashed a deeper shade of crimson.
    “I feel so…strong!” He said as the hold from the second portion of Hornet Nebula faded.
    “Huh…handy.”
    “Oh…? So the Sinners are beyond my control hmm? How fascinating…” Choen Palm muttered as she placed a couple fingers to her lips, and her elbow in her free hand. “Nevertheless, it will not stop me from crushing you.”
    “So long as I stand to fight, that will never come to pass!” Peorth roared as she stood tall and defended him.
    “Try it Cerebian! Pride, Envy-”
    “Not this shit again…” TJ muttered. He plunged his right hand into his left arm and removed his bloody fingers. “Out of the way blue blood! Savage Impulse!” When Peorth dodged aside TJ clawed the air before him and four crimson streaks were created in the wake of the gesture. He followed it two more times and each soared towards the Heartbreaker. She dodged each one but failed her incantation in turn.
    Peorth followed up the attack with an underhand stab and two more following the first. The first blow missed but she pressed the assault and managed to hit the Heartbreaker the following times before she was repulsed once more.
    As Peorth skidded away she placed her spear upright to take a breath and turned to TJ. He was doubled-over, and as he caught his breath Su fell from within him and staggered to her feet.
    “Well…shit. I don’t think I can keep this up any longer. We’ve exhausted a shit-load of mana, and me being here the whole time really…doesn’t help…a fuckin’…thing…” She collapsed to the ground and vanished.
    TJ rose to his full height and wiped the sweat from his brow. “Looks like Choen Palm’s spell wore off, so Su is safe for now…” He took a deep breath and clenched his fists with renewed resolve. “It’s just me now…but I can still fight!”
    He ran towards Peorth and she turned her focus back to Choen Palm who rapidly approached. The guild master deflected the blade and the two met each other strike for strike, both pushing themselves to their limits in order to find a single opening in their adversary.
    Choen Palm broke away from Peorth allowing for her to pierce her shoulder, and the moment she pulled her weapon back TJ descended between them and stomped the ground, causing it to shatter and rise in a wave of concrete and dirt.
    “You’re not through yet!” He roared as he picked up a shattered piece and hurled it, followed by a second. “Avaritia!” He held a hand up and a small group of larger pieces rose into the air before he hurled them at the Heartbreaker, who chose not to flee but shattered them with her hand.
    As he took a breath Peorth caught a glimpse of his eyes flicker to their usual brown and she gasped. “TJ, you must not-“
    He drew his guitar and clashed weapons with Choen Palm. Peorth decided to save what she had to say for later and instead rushed to his aid.
    “Lust, Envy, Pride! Cell of Yearning!” Choen Palm shouted as Peorth’s spear was thrust out at her and the guild master froze.
    She attempted to finish the action but her body would not respond. She reeled her weapon back and attempted it a second time, but the moment she thrusted her body froze up and refused to act. She placed her spear on her back as she opted out for using her hands, but even then she could not bring herself to touch Choen Palm. Her body began to feel hot, and whenever she looked at Choen Palm she had the growing desire to protect her. It was wrong, and as she came to this realization she backed away from the two as she was overcome with despair.
    “Game over, boy.” Choen Palm cackled as she began to force his guitar back.
    “Not yet…not…yet…” His eyes turned brown once more and his strength subsided substantially. Choen Palm slapped the guitar out of his hands and brought her blade down on him a second time but he managed to hold it back with one of his hands. She tried to knock it aside with her free hand but he blocked it.
    She kissed her teeth in annoyance. “Why do you resist? Your fate is already decided!”
    “Chief…Chief don’t lose hope!” He said to her as he continued his struggle. “There has to be a spell that you can use! Whatever it is, no matter…how dangerous it is! Please! Please don’t fear for me! If it can stop Choen Palm…if it can save even one more person! Don’t be afraid!”
    Still ailed, she looked to TJ with fear in her eyes. Was she asking him to eliminate them both? But she could not do such a thing even if she wanted to…and if she could she would not.
    Despite all of it though, she knew of one spell that could potentially change the fate of the battle, but in doing so, his life would be at risk once more. If she was to utilize it, there would likely be no point of return for either of them. She had to choose between that, and watching her beloved be killed before her. She clenched both hands to her chest as her tears fell upon them and ran down her arms. She could not bear such a thing once more.
    She lowered her head as her wings surrounded her and spread out to their full length. With a single beat she took off the ground and rose into the sky above the two. As she opened her eyes she began another prayer, “Warriors of the battlefield, by this would that thou lay down thine arms. Close thine eyes and let the Valkyrie’s song put thy comrade’s weary souls to rest. As thy time draws ever nearer thou too shall find Valhalla certes. I will follow thee and make a heaven of hell, to die upon the hand I love so well.” Her wings surrounded her once more before they spread out and released her barrier. “Midsummer Night’s Dream!” Blue spheres surrounded her, and eventually took the shape of blue and black butterflies that descended upon the battlefield as Peorth did the same.
    She stumbled as she landed, and took a knee as she caught her breath. That spell had exhausted her mana completely and would do the same for the others. She managed to get to her feet as she looked upon TJ and Choen Palm, both frozen in time. The butterflies continued their descent and perched upon the two to steadily drain their mana so long as the spell was in effect.
    She checked the battlefield and caught a glimpse of TJ’s rucksack, covered by his coat and she staggered over to it and reclaimed it. She made her way to TJ, as she fought to keep her breath and drew the warp crystal before she pulled him away from Choen Palm.
    “Forgive me TJ, for doing this to you. Let us away.” She said as she held out the warp crystal and the two vanished from Elias.
    Upon Peorth’s leaving, the remnants of her barrier faded away and the butterflies returned to tiny spheres of mana that rose to the sky and vanished afterwards.
    Choen Palm fell over and her wicked grin changed to that of shock and confusion as she scoured the area for her adversaries. “What?” As she picked herself up her body struggled to rise and she collapsed in the dirt. “Tch…that Cerebian. It would have been wiser to strike her down first…” She closed her eyes in both ire and frustration as she dug her fingers into the dirt. “Next time she will not be so fortunate!
    “But for now…I must return. Dr. Truong may be able to recover that which I have lost.” She pulled herself over to one of the bits of rubble to pick herself up off the ground. She leaned against it as she formed a triangle with her fingers, a pink sphere forming between them. She extended her hands and finally vanished from Elias.


    Last edited by TJ on Sun Dec 27, 2015 5:02 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sun Dec 27, 2015 5:02 pm

    Now then, the next 20 pages are gonna have spoilers for USSR, Inno, and potentially Sanc...depending on how much you care about the name of the remaining Saints. I didn't edit/censor them out or something, save for one cause you know...it's not something that needs to be a secret to the readers. Only matters in TJ's case. Put simply, we know what he doesn't-usual stuff. The others are actual events that happened in both stories. They help paint the picture, but they're spoilers nonetheless! So if you haven't read them(USSR is a should, but Inno isn't entirely necessary for the sake of this)I'd recommend it! After that, though, I'll try to remind myself that there's no need since well...it's done. USSR, that is, and I assume by now you've seen it in one incarnation or the other. The final version will only matter in Chapter 9, so if you've only read the rough you're still good! Anyway that's enough of me yammering. On with the show!
    Ch 8. (Pages 334-344):
    It was dark. What had happened? TJ’s eyelids had felt heavy, and he heard the sound of a girl crying. Was he dreaming? What had happened to his fight with Choen Palm? Had he lost?
    He felt water running down his stomach and he managed to open his eyes just barely, but was struck by a long lasting dizzy spell.
    He could hear the familiar sound of an Iris Stone, and see the starry night sky, something he often did not see in the familiar cityscapes he would typically reside in. He lowered his head and saw the girl who was crying-her hands tightly clenched against his top and her icy blue hair, her face buried in his chest as she sobbed.
    “Chief? Chief…don’t cry…” He uttered as he tried to move his hand and stroke his hair. His body did not respond-he could hardly even feel a thing in the whole of it. There was hardly any mana coursing through him, and with all of his will power he only managed to make his fingers twitch. What a sorry state he was in…
    “TJ…?” She asked as she raised her head, tears ran down her face, eyebrows knit and her lips curled sorrowfully. “Thank goodness! Thank goodness you made it through! Forgive me…forgive me…!”
    He chuckled gently. “You don’t have to apologize. I dunno what you did, but we’re both alive. Heck, we all survived that encounter thanks to you.” He looked around the surrounding area and noticed the two were in the city of Belos, the scenery seemed to say it was prior to the crack of dawn.
    “I’m…sorry to ask this of you, but you think you could help me up? My body feels like…a bunch of wet noodles. I can’t seem to move my joints.” She obliged and rose to her feet before she took his hand and draped it over her shoulder. She placed the other hand around his waist and made her way over to his house.
    His face flushed as she pulled him along, but the moment was short lived as two things caught his attention. The first being that his gem emanated an odd crimson glow. It flashed like a warning signal every couple of moments. The second he heard the sound of sizzling-he was not sure where it was, and he could not bring himself to turn his head to see, but judging by the sound it was close. He strained his eyes to get the slightest glimpse and he saw it where Peorth’s hand was. A black and crimson aura was emanated from where she touched like a miasma and it was actively hurting her.
    “Ch-Chief…your hand!”
    “It is fine. A pain like this is naught in comparison to that which you have experienced.” She answered, keeping her eyes set on their destination.
    “Chief please!” He uttered desperately.
    She closed her eyes solemnly for a few moments. “TJ, allow me to be selfish once again. I cannot allow you to bear the weight of our sins without any sort of atonement.”
    He grit his teeth as he looked at the path she walked towards his house and closed his eyes too. He hated to see her suffer, but he wanted to respect her wishes as she did his. Could he in good faith, turn her request down? He bit his lip as he resigned to her fervor.

    The two eventually arrived in the house and Peorth temporarily released her hand on TJ’s waist to create a small sphere of light. It levitated away from her into the center of the room, and as it did it revealed Kooh who had arrived in the house and collapsed at the entrance, and the still sleeping Curt.
    “Kooh?!” TJ cried out in shock as Peorth grit her teeth.
    “Wait for me Kooh, I will return for you anon.” The guild master added as she cautiously stepped over the body and brought TJ along.
    She carried him up the stairs and into his room before she rested him on his bed. “I will return TJ. I must aid Kooh.”
    He nodded and offered her a weak smile. “I know Chief. Do your thing, I’ll be fine.”
    She gave one last nod of acknowledgement before she rushed out of the room.
    The moment she stepped out he let his body relax and pain echoed across his body. It felt as if he was being stabbed by thousands of needles from his head to his toes, and the aura he emitted spread from where Peorth had touched to his entire body. He had been fighting it back as best as he could so he did not harm his guild master, but the feeling afterwards was overwhelming. The world seemed further and further away, and darkness encroached on his vision.
    Then he heard it-the sound of song, the same that he had heard in the Gourmet’s Valley…but the voice was not the same as that he had heard then. It was that from when he had lost to Su…the voice that lent him power. Was that…Adonis?
    Was he dying? He struggled with all his might to keep his eyes open, to remain conscious, but the sound grew ever louder and his body seemed to be ejecting his spirit. He tried to stave it off as best as he could but…

    Peorth finally laid Kooh down in one of the other rooms and exited as quickly and quietly as she could. She closed the door behind her and turned to the direction where TJ had lay, the terror of her own decision rapidly settling in.
    “What can I do for him?” She muttered under her breath. “I have neither the power, nor the knowledge to remedy a blight of this caliber.” She tightly gripped her arm as she closed her eyes.
    “Father, Mother, what should I do? What can I do?” She stepped into his room and pulled up a chair to sit by his side.
    She could only watch solemnly as he groaned in agony, tossing and turning as he tightly held the crystal in his chest.
    “TJ…be strong…” She whispered as she reached out to him only to be forced back by the sheer intensity of his aura. Some of the skin on her fingertips was peeled off and she looked at them somberly.
    She could not bear to watch him suffer like this. Perhaps if she was God’s Governor of Ice still, she could do something for him, but she had no magic save for simple healing spells that anyone with the slightest knowledge of the Divine Arts could use. She clenched the bedsheets as she bit her lip furiously.
    Why was the truth that when TJ needed her most, she could never be there for him? He fought during the fall of Asgard while she was forced to flee with her Keruz. She was not there during the collapse of Iris’ party, nor when he was integrated by the Demon King. She could not even find him after all the events that had conspired. Trini had succeeded where she had failed, and when the two were reunited she had let him down once more.
    What was the best course of action for her to follow? What would her mother do if she was here now? She closed her eyes gently as she recalled one of her memories.
    As a child she sat in her mother’s lap as she taught her about a variety of spells in one of her tomes. She flipped through the pages as she spoke of learning something more challenging and stopped on a page randomly.
    “Mama, what’s this?”
    Remedi looked surprised for but a moment, only to return to her usual graceful smile. “That, my love, is a spell you use to give your companions eternal sleep. It is…one that is best used if they are…in great pain.
    “It is not something you need know now. Perhaps when you are much, much older you may find a time where it would be of use. Come, let us study a spell within your skill level.”
    Peorth opened her eyes as she gazed down upon TJ. Was this one such time where the spell would be of use? She would not be the first to have taken his life but…under the current circumstances, it would be possible that he would not remain.
    According to RoboCurt’s report, Avaritia had mentioned that if need be, she would strike him down and have him transmigrate from their first meeting place. The world beyond theirs, somewhere in the heart of the Sea of Sky, and where she had met her mother for the last time. She knew not how she would return without the aid of the Artimen Clan, but she was not entirely unwilling to take the risk.
    If it could spare him that suffering…if it could prevent the revival of Asmodeus…if it meant that they could meet again in a better time…
    She clasped her hands together and began her prayer.
    Suddenly a powerful crimson glow was emanated from the crystal and Su emerged, her body rapidly distorting, and it clearly not that of a physical being. Her enraged crimson eyes glared down upon Peorth as if she looked at a lesser being.
    “What…have you done?!” She snarled. “Why did you get in my way?! Did you think this was just about revenge? Do you know how many times Choen Palm escaped our grasp?!”
    “I am aware.” Peorth answered, meeting the gaze without flinching.
    “Why did you interfere?! She’s gonna get away and come back at her strongest you stupid bitch! This was the closest we’ve ever been to defeating her without having to sacrifice our allies, or the hope of the world!”
    “I did what must be done. We cannot defeat her as we are now. TJ has only begun his training as the Abellan, and if we were to murder Choen Palm the Heart of Yggdrasil may be lost forever.”
    “I’d rip the damn thing out of her chest before I finish her off!”
    “We did not have the time, nor the mana to commit ourselves to such a risk.”
    “So you decided to risk TJ’s bacon with that retarded final spell of yours?! What the hell goes on in that thick fuckin’ skull of yours?!” She grit her teeth in fury. “I don’t know what it is with you and that moron you call a cousin, but you’re getting in my way. I’m all he needs. Neither of us need your constant interference! So stay out of my way, and out of my business!”
    “Just as you see TJ’s business as yours, it is mine also. I will do whatever I must in order to protect him, and the well-being of the worlds we reside in.”
    Su’s glare sharpened. “Fuckin’ good for you. But you’re clearly not cut out for that, Your Highness. If you think you can have both, you’re dead fuckin’ wrong. So choose. Your ideals, or the Abellan.” Su scoffed as she turned away and faded into crimson dust.
    Peorth gasped quietly at those words and grit her teeth as the spirit vanished. Were her ideals greater than her ability to see them through? Could she not protect both TJ, and the world she was tasked to look after? In this moment, she had to choose.
    If TJ could not pull through this, Adonis would be released and it would only be a matter of time before their world was torn asunder. But if she was to put him to rest, there was a possibility that the two could meet again, and start over, at the cost of his memories, and those that they had created since his awakening. Her heart ached at the thought, and she tightly clenched her hand to her chest as she tried to force the thought away.
    She was a queen before she was a lady, and that thought alone was reason enough for her to choose the greater good over her own wishes. It was the rational choice.
    As she prepared the prayer the door burst open and Vanir stepped in along with Skuld. “Hold it right there Queenie!” He shouted as the two hurried over to the bed.
    The brownie carried a potted plant over her head with both arms. If memory served her, it was a Dione’s Tranquility. But why would the two come bearing such a plant? Perhaps…did they suspect what she was going to do? Even so…an Elfa style funeral in Belos would not be a simple feat. The thought of transferring the body to the Desert City made her heart ache further.
    “I know you’re looking for a solution and all, but that’s not how you should go about that.” Vanir said as he let out a sigh. “Had to run home and grab some things before coming here. Looks like we’re not too late.” He put his bag down and started to rummage through it before turning his head to his brownie. “Alright Skuld, let’s get started. You know what to do.”
    She nodded solemnly before she made her way to TJ’s bed-side and set the plant down. “You may want to stand back or hold your breath, Your Highness!” The brownie suggested as she started drawing runes with her finger.
    “Skuld’s right. One whiff of that stuff and you’ll conk out for a good long while.” He pulled a rope out of his bag and wrapped it around his arm. “I’d heard that if you create an extract out of the pollen of the plant and mix a few other things in there, you can make a sleeping potion. This stuff is so potent people would almost think you dead. History books say that a bunch of hired swords used it on one of the previous Elias kings. It took two years for him to wake up from the effects of it.”
    He glanced at Skuld who just finished drawing the runes and held the plant with both hands, while she turned her head away. “Bombs away!”
    The bulb of the plant closed and spewed a torrent of pollen spores around TJ’s face, and with it he finally stopped thrashing and came to a peaceful rest.
    “That should hold him for a while.” Vanir took his place at the opposite side of the Abellan’s bed and tossed the end of the rope to his companion.
    “What are you doing Vanir?” Peorth asked as she tilted her head curiously. She had to admit, that her heart found some solace in knowing that there indeed was a third option.
    “Making sure that this kid doesn’t lash out and potentially maim and/or murder the two of us for tampering with things we really shouldn’t be.”
    “That being…?”
    He tied the rope tightly and dusted his hands off. “Attempting sealing magic.” He smiled wryly. “If the journal says I did it and it worked, I must’ve done it. And it must’ve worked. I’ll take any checkpoint I can get at this juncture.”
    She looked at him solemnly, blinking slowly. He had a courage that she lacked-the courage to glimpse into the future, and not fear the outcome. With Memorius Sanctum she could glimpse into TJ’s future, only a tiny amount further, but she feared that if she was to tamper with it she could put him in harm’s way. She envied Vanir’s willingness to do so, but she felt that the path she had chosen was for the best. She would find her way forward, letting herself discover what the world held for the two just as they had in the past.
    “I see.” She said smilingly ever so slightly. “Then I leave TJ in your care.”
    “Hey hey, slow down there Queenie! What we’re doing is nothing but putting a bandage on it. It won’t hold forever, you know. This happened before right? How’d you keep the seals in tact the first time?”
    If her memory served her, the last time such an event had occurred was after Kimara, but not to such a degree. It was Amu that requested that Peorth stay at his side, and at her behest that she looked after him throughout his stay in the Elias General Hospital. Was it possible that Amu was in fact the Abellan’s lady-in-waiting? She had heard such a figure existed, but she had no definitive proof of it save for that which she read in textbooks. Nonetheless, the fact still stood that someone had maintained the seals, and if it was Amu, Peorth would need her aid once more.
    “I believe an old companion of his, and a guild member of ours had performed such a feat.”
    “Seriously? Well, you might wanna go get that person. But before you do, I want you to check this out for yourself. It’ll help you explain it to them when you see them.” He looked to TJ. “Skuld, eyes up there. That part of the seal is coming undone, let’s patch it up.”
    “Okay!” She answered as she continued to draw runes without a break. She was a very diligent companion in many respects, Peorth recalled.
    “Hrmm…you Cerebians have some kind of ability to see mana and such things right? It should work on this too. What’s it called again? Magic vision?”
    “Mana se-”
    “Mana Sensory, of course! Do that.”
    She closed her eyes for a moment, and once she opened them her sclera shifted from circles into triangles. As that occurred she could see her own mana like a faint aura that surrounded her, that of Skuld’s, of Vanir’s and of TJ’s. All but his had a calm demeanour to them, but his had become wild and unstable. Above him she could see a magic circle that featured a hexagram-upon each pointed end was one of the seals, and she could see how each encroached upon itself, slowly burning away like a lit sparkler. As Skuld drew the runes, she was able to temporarily restore and protect the seals from further encroachment, but after the enchantment wore off the process would begin anew. She struggled to consistently maintain those that had remained. It had seemed that some of them had already come undone prior to this point, leaving only three of the six seals intact.
    “I see…so these are what repel Adonis.” Perhaps what she saw on the outside was truly, only the negligible remnants of what slipped past his guard. Somehow he had restrained his inner demons and still remained amidst his allies without them detecting the current state of affairs. She had to commend his strength of spirit.
    Nevertheless, time was of the essence. With the image in mind, she could easily convey the urgency of the matter and what needed to be done to Amu. She just needed to hold to the faint hope that Amu was indeed the one that she need seek out, and recruit the aid of. “I go.” She said as she drew her warp crystal and vanished to Elfa.
    Vanir rolled his visible eye. “She of little words. Never changes.”

    TJ found himself surrounded by darkness-his body was falling through the unknown, and as he did he recalled a similar event. He could see both his bare hands and legs falling before him amidst his locks of hair. It was as if he was submerged in water, but his lungs were still filled with air and he was surrounded by nothingness. As he fell further his surroundings turned a deep blue for a spell, and even further green.
    He tilted his head ever so slightly, and he saw something unexpected. It was a tree, planted within the nothingness. Upon one side of it, he saw his companions-there were leaves and buds growing from the branches. Ardoss stood on one with his arms and legs crossed as he leaned against the trunk. Velvet sat a little higher and her legs gently waved to and fro. Even Su was there, hanging from a branch with her legs, her arms crossed, seemingly deep in thought.
    The other side remained barren, and upon it he could see his siblings exactly as he remembered them. Avaritia seemed to be gazing out into the nothingness with a hopeful look in her eyes. On the other hand Gula sat against the trunk on a lower branch looking bored.
    Was this…inside of the Heart of Yggdrasil? Or perhaps within TJ’s body?
    He continued his descent past the roots of the tree and further down into the unknown. The world turned a deep crimson as he fell further and further, finally coming to a halt with two other people, both chained by their arms and legs.
    The first, had to be Adonis. He was the spitting image of TJ, his eyes carrying a fury that TJ lacked along with the colour of an Agasura’s. His hair was long, spiky and black. Similar to TJ’s in the past, but it had grown out much more than his had at the time.
    “So it seems that we finally meet.” Adonis said as he grinned devilishly.
    “You…” TJ uttered as his eyes flickered to the odd feeling that crept down his arm. “Ahh!” A snake coiled around his arm before it began to glow a bright gold. It blinded him for a moment before forming chains that hung from the roots of the tree. The design of it…was without a doubt Gleipnir. Once his chain came to be, Adonis’ vanished and he clenched his fist.
    “Ahh…freedom is not far. It has been far too long since I could manifest. It seems your happy little parade has finally come to a close.”
    “No… no I won’t let you!” TJ snarled as he tried to force his way to his sibling. The chain forced him back and a second snake began to coil around his arm. He shook his head as he realized that here, he had little control over his situation. He could not manifest his powers, nor break free of his bindings.
    He lifted his head to gaze at the third person that was bound like the two were, and found himself at a loss. There was a woman he had never seen before. She had long pink hair that draped down her curvaceous body, and though her head was lowered, there was not a doubt in his mind that she was beautiful. But unlike Adonis and all the others, they looked nothing alike.
    Another set of chains vanished from Adonis, but as it did the previous chains reappeared on his recently released arms.
    “Tch! Some fool is tampering with the ritual!” He glared at the sky but his cocky grin returned. “No matter. I only need to quicken the undoing of these blasted seals. Once I am free, I will ensure Father’s revival. No longer will you stand in my way!”
    He closed his eyes and began to sing the same song TJ had heard on his way down, and that which he had heard in the past. If that was indeed Adonis, and the same song that he had heard in the near past…the strange darkness he had come across was in fact Asmodeus!
    He struggled to break free of his chains but to no avail. If only he could remember any of the songs he had known in the past, perhaps he could aid his allies in maintaining Adonis. But as it stood there was nothing that he could do, so he solemnly closed his eyes and hoped with all his might that they could pull him through this hardship.

    “That’s the way Skuld. Oh!” He pointed to one of the lines from the hexagram itself and followed it with his finger. “Be careful, this guy’s pretty clever. Guess he figured going right for the seals themselves was too hard and too obvious. He’s targeting some of the ley lines. Don’t let him catch you off guard.”
    “Yes Master!” She answered and he patted her on the head. She smiled.
    “Alright cool, I’ll leave it to you for now. I’m gonna go hassle some of the kid’s friends and see if they can…be of use.”
    Vanir made his way to the door and the moment he turned the corner and exited the room, a pair of hands stopped him in his tracks and were slammed on each side of his body. “Gods!”
    A girl with blonde ringlet curls lifted her head to grin at him. “Where are you off to at such a crucial time, Vanir?” It was the leader of the same-face sisters.
    “Lucia…” He muttered his breath as he let out a sigh. “This isn’t how you greet someone, you know!” He glanced in Skuld’s direction and the brownie had stopped what she was doing while she watched the two. Face flushed and eyes bugging out. “Shouldn’t I be the one that’s blushing?!”
    “Eyes on me Vanir.” She chuckled as she pointed to his and back to hers.
    She’s not cute at all, he thought. “Not cute at all.” He added with a sneer.
    “I do think your reactions are though.” She said with a grin as she released him. That fact was true, and he really did not need her telling him for him to know. “Anyway, don’t you think that you have something more important to do?”
    He was hoping that he would be able to sneak out before she arrived, but it seems he underestimated her timing. His other self should have left better instructions for him to follow. He cursed his tendency to use point form notes.
    “Yeah. Get help.” She opened her mouth to speak and he crossed his arms into an ‘x’. “By help I mean the free kind.” He furrowed his brows as he eyed her cautiously. “What’re you doing here anyway?”
    “Me…?” She asked with a look of surprise. Her usual confident smile was not far behind, of course. “I had sensed a great Agasuric power coming from this location. An information broker cannot make a living without information, now could she?” She shrugged and he slipped back into the room. “Of course I couldn’t leave TJ alone if he was in some sort of trouble…” She gazed at him from a single open eye. “My curiosity could not have brought me here.”
    “Keh!” He snarled. She was a terrible, terrible liar. He could tell when she was lying through her teeth, and he was willing to bet she came just to drag him into one of her deals. “Skuld and I have this under control, so shoo, fly!”
    “M-Master I don’t think we have this under control at all! There are too many ley lines coming undone at once! I can’t maintain them all!” Betrayal of the highest caliber and at the worst possible time.
    “Oh?” Lucia asked. His body seized up as he felt her arms drape around his shoulders and her lips approach his ear. “Is that so?” She whispered into his ear, and the hairs on his neck stood on end. “I see.” She said in her silkiest, sexiest voice.
    Vanir closed his eyes and grit his teeth. “Stop this.” He uttered as he clenched his fists.
    She chuckled as she pulled away from the barista and made her way to the Abellan’s side. She stroked his hair and brushed her hands across his cheek, completely unaffected by the blight aura. “Well Vanir? What will you do? Will you not help him?”
    “Watch. Me.” He answered through grit teeth before he took to the other side of the Abellan. He reached out to him and pulled away at the force of the aura. “Ouch! Stupid shitty…” Figures that only a full-blooded Agasura could get through it. He may have only had the aura of one, but he still could utilize, and share Agasuric mana. It would not be as effective at a distance, but in this case beggars could not be choosers. He held both hands and started transferring mana to TJ. So long as he managed to fill the cistern he could ease up the strain on Skuld and slow down the encroachment process.
    “Master, I don’t think this is enough. I can’t keep up with it…” Skuld muttered as she continued drawing runes.
    “Just focus on the seals for the time being! So long as the ley lines remain intact the spell shouldn’t come undone!” He knew how this scenario would end, but gods be damned if he gave in without a fight.
    “Vanir. One should not be willing to trade his pride over the greater good.” Lucia said as she turned her smile on him.
    Fuck the greater good! Is what he wanted to say but he had a semblance of self-control. “Name your price, and do it quickly.”
    She made an OK sign with her fingers and winked. “Just a little bit of your blood is all that I ask.”
    “Scorpion woman!” He snarled. “Stupid greater good…the things I do for people,” He sighed. “I honestly don’t get paid enough to do this.”
    “So I take it we have a deal?”
    “Yeah you can have your blood, so you better pay the equivalent in mana, alright? I’ve got high expectations of you, Lucia.”
    She grinned, revealing all of her fangs. “Then the contract is complete. I will not disappoint, and look forward to doing business with you again!”
    “Don’t count on it.”
    Lucia cracked her knuckles and placed both hands upon his arm to start transferring mana to the Abellan.
    “I think it’s working Master! The encroachment is slowing down a bit.” Skuld added with a cheerful smile. She was having a hard time. She could not hide it from him, but he did not want to discourage her at such a crucial moment.
    “Good. Let’s keep this up then.” He said as he grinned. It was in essence, a race against time. Either they surpass the first threshold to hold back Adonis or he pushes through and continues to break the remaining seals. If any more came undone, it would only be a matter of time before he could break through whenever he so pleased.
    The last thing Vanir needed was to hunt down the kid before fate called for it. It being a full-blooded Agasura would only make it more difficult than it needed to be.
    As his train of thought came to an end, a train of girls burst into the room. Those being the same face-sisters, Maya, Monica and Naomi.
    “I’m glad to see you made it girls.” Lucia said with her usual confident smile.
    Vanir was both glad, and upset that this was the cavalry. Though the use of a Cerebian at this juncture would do little good for him, he would take any other Agasuric Confidant in place of them. He could not think of a selki in their right mind who would make that journey though. The Cerebians really needed more friends.
    “Heyy sis we’re here! You left us wondering why you flew off in such a hurry but now that I’m seeing it for myself, guess there’s no question about it.” Maya said with a wave.
    “Vanir’s here too?” Monica said with a disgusted look. She was looking at him like he was some sort of insect! If he were not so busy saving the world he would lay into her. “Hi Skuld! How are you?” She dropped to her knees to hug the brownie.
    “G-good. Really busy though. TJ needs a lot of help.” She answered nervously, but continued unfazed. A real champion, that girl.
    “Had a feeling that’d be the case. That surge of Agasuric energy could be felt all the way from Elias. Without this city’s Save Stone, I’m willing to bet Agasura would flock here by the hundreds.” Naomi said as she rubbed the back of her neck.
    She shifted the lollipop in her mouth to the other side before she looked between the two. “Let’s not spend too long beating around the bush. You guys look like you could use a hand, and considering Sis is helping out, you probably struck a deal right?”
    “How right you are my dear Naomi.” Lucia added as her eyes crinkled and her smile widened.
    “Uh huh, figures. So tell us what needs to be done and we’ll help out.”
    “If you’d be so kind, share your mana with the Abellan would you?” Vanir requested.
    “Please and thank you!” Skuld commented with a tilt of her head.
    “Alright girls, let’s get to it.” Maya said as she took up her position beside Vanir.
    Monica stood beside Lucia and gave a nod of approval. “We’re expecting a big payout Vanir!” She said with a grin.
    “Snakes! The lot of you!” He hissed as he grit his teeth. Then he started hissing at them.
    “I don’t care that much about the payment to be honest,” Naomi said. She took the place beside Skuld and joined in their effort. “I’d just hate to see the Abellan suffering like this. He’s not a bad kid.”
    It honestly was a shame that of the four of them, the meanest looking one had the biggest heart. He would commend her for it, but she would take her unbridled anger out on him. Silence at times, was golden. So was life. He valued both.
    With the help of all four girls and the barista, Skuld was able to repair all three seals and set her sights on correcting the erased ley lines. “We’re making really good progress Master! At this rate I think we might be able to hold back the Demons,” Skuld said excitedly.
    “Don’t get too excited yet. We’re gonna need Peorth and that friend of hers here soon, ‘cause once we pass the first threshold the girls can’t do any more. We’ll need either normal or divine mana to proceed. This is why I wanted to get help but a certain someone thought wall-slamming me was more important.” Vanir hissed as he glared at Lucia.
    She giggled and he made a variety of angry expressions for the duration of it. “Come now Vanir, is it not appropriate that we greet each other properly after such a long time? We both live in the same city but we hardly ever see each other. Are you truly not happy to see me?”
    “Not at all!” He snarled. I’d rather have my ass kicked by the ice queen again than deal with you for all of five minutes!”
    Naomi’s expression looked bored. “Can you two at least try to be civilized for once in your lives? At least give the Abellan the courtesy of peace and quiet would you?”
    “It’s not my fault your sister is the absolute worst,” Vanir muttered under his breath. He had a hundred other insults in his repertoire that could make the devil cry but he had neither the time, nor the energy to waste telling Lucia those things. That, and he felt that she fed off of his negativity. If he was an Agasura too, he could win at life with all the terrible things her sisters said to him.
    A crimson aura surrounded TJ before it gathered into the Heart of Yggdrasil, and it flashed but once more before it finally came to a rest. A crimson glow still emanated from within, but for the time being most of the danger had passed.
    “That’ll do girls. Next step will have to be Queenie and I.”
    “I have-” Peorth stepped into the room with those words and Vanir threw his hands back in a panic.
    “Wah!” He shouted as he raised a leg too as if to defend himself in a rather mediocre way.
    “-returned.”
    “Hello everyone!” An unfamiliar girl said as she followed after the guild master. She was clad in desert garb, from a gentle violet tunic with a series of markings on the front to a long white skirt, shemagh and sandals. Judging by her face though, she looked like she hailed from Aoich. Probably took up residence in Elfa for some reason or another. If so, she might be able to score him some leads on the botany of the Desert-finding Dione’s Tranquility was a pain as is, but there were certainly some other goodies he wanted to get his hands on.
    After TJ and friends trashed the place, they became rather wary of travellers so having an inside source would do one worlds of good.
    “So this is that friend who can seal Adonis? Doesn’t look like an adventurer type.” Vanir said as he knit his eyebrows.
    “You’re right there.” She laughed gently with a warm smile. Cute. Unlike a certain group of Vampanelars he could think of. And yet…he could see the shadows of suffering in it.
    If she had ran with Peorth and her crew at any point, such an event was bound to happen. Like it or not, anyone who got involved with the Abellan would suffer. He was not known as the Calamity Trigger solely because of his Agasuric nature. The calamity he had wrought both in the far past and the near past would not easily be forgotten. For some kid, he was not to be underestimated…but he did not even reach the true extent of his ability.
    “Technically I’m just a healer. I do know a fair bit about medicines and potions too of course! I guess in that regard I’m more of an alchemist.”
    “Forgive my imprudence, but I must request that we aid TJ first. I do not wish to see him suffer any longer than need be.” Peorth said with an air of concern about her.
    “Of course! Let’s get down to it Chief.”
    Vanir looked shocked. Someone else actually called her Chief? Not that nicknames came as a surprise to him-she had several, but he assumed it was only TJ that referred to her in such a way. For reasons unknown. He set the thought aside to question her about the origin of it later, so he could focus on the current task.
    “Queenie’s right. Let’s save the introductions for later. Come over here and help me transfer mana to him would you?” Vanir asked as he gestured to Peorth with a flick of his head in her direction.
    Peorth nodded solemnly before she took her place at TJ’s bedside while the other girls stood aside.
    Amu made her way to the foot of the bed and cleared her throat before she took a deep breath. “It’s been some time since I last did this. Is everyone ready?” She asked.
    “I…uhh…don’t have to do anything right? For this ritual or whatever?” Vanir asked with a hint of unease.
    “No, I’ll handle all of it. You can continue what you’re doing.”
    “Alright Queenie, let’s do this.”
    She nodded once more. “Both I and TJ are in your care.” That was one heavy statement she just made.
    Would they blame him if he screwed up and potentially doomed them all? After all of his previous failures, he wondered if it would bother him as much. He would just have to mark it down and hope his next incarnation does not screw up the way he did. Though there was nothing to it but to try and hope for the best.
    “Yup I’ll take care of ya’ll.” He said with a wry smile.
    Amu placed her hands to her chest as a magic circle appeared beneath her. It bore the herald of the Asgardians, and judging by the runes and the shape of the ley lines, it was one that hailed from long before their time. Just what on earth had those Cerebians been passing down to their predecessors all these years?
    “By my name and the will of my goddess Amae I pass judgement. Let my words and spirit pierce the heavens and the hearts of demons to save this soul their torment. Let this song be the chains that bind the darkness so that the light of hope may shine forth!” She closed her eyes as she began to sing, and the magic circle grew ever brighter.
    Vanir had to admit, for such a small, frail looking girl she had one hell of a voice! Despite the appearance though, there was something almost…disturbing about it. He found himself hard pressed to believe that it was indeed her own, due to the ethereal sound of it. It sounded oddly…familiar, yet still unsettling. Was it reminiscent of angels? He shook his head rapidly.
    It couldn’t be…could it? The last time he had heard such a voice was his battle with one of the last Sages from where he hailed from. The Anima…they sounded eerily like she did now. But they were wiped out. He made certain of that so…how?
    “Vanir?” Peorth asked. Her creepy piercing blue eyes were staring at him like a wolf ready to devour its prey.
    “Huh?” He realized his mana output had stopped and he cleared his throat awkwardly. “Uhh…ahem! Just needed a breather is all.” He could feel Lucia watching him, and the notion made his hair stand on end.
    There was definitely something strange here, but he could not put his finger on it yet. He would need to find out more about this Amu girl, and jot down that information for future reference.
    As the song went on runes surrounded the group and the seal for Adonis began to change colour, starting with a single ley line and flowing throughout the whole thing. It changed from red to blue, and that which Skuld had effected eventually did also. It halted the encroachment and repaired all of the damaged seals in the process. The brownie let out a sigh as she collapsed to her knees.
    “Looks like we’re almost there. At that juncture there won’t be any more I can do for him. I don’t have divine mana within me, so it’ll be up to you two.” Vanir said as he watched the second aura surround TJ, this time green. It gathered into the Heart of Yggdrasil and it flashed once, causing the crimson aura swirling within to shrink further.
    Vanir stepped back and leaned against the wall with a sigh. “Alright, my part’s done. When your song is finished, you should help out Queenie Amu.”
    “I’m kinda curious. Where’d you learn about all of this Vanir?” Maya asked with a raised eyebrow.
    “It’s a long story, and telling it without my whiteboard is troublesome, so I don’t want to.”
    “Oh get off of it would you? You’ve got nothing better to do so you might as well indulge her.” Naomi said as she rolled her eyes.
    “Ugh…fine.” He stroked his ponytail. “Where the hell do I even begin with him?”
    “Alright look, guys like TJ and I? We don’t have bodies like yours.”
    “What do you mean by that?” Monica asked cautiously. What was she getting so hostile for? He had not even gotten snarky…yet.
    “Cerebians, Agasura, and Humans have different body types. Each requires a different type of mana, and how we get it varies too. TJ and I are most similar to Humans, in that we don’t rely on one type specifically. TJ can tap into all three types, but he has to get them the same way each respective faction does. While I have access to Agasuric and normal mana only. It’s…complicated.”
    He crossed his arms. “In essence, it’s the body makeup. The two of us rely on the ‘circuit’ system, while you guys rely on the ‘flow’ system. Our system requires a combination of mana to create spells.” He sighed. “It’d help if I had some sort of diagram.” He glanced at TJ and placed a fist into an open palm. “Alright check this out.” He gestured them all over and they surrounded the Abellan.
    “You see these scars?” He pointed to TJ’s stomach, where there were three scars that branched out from the location of the Heart of Yggdrasil beneath his top. “Say these two here are his pools of mana. The one at the far left would be Order, and the right would be Chaos. The one in the center is the ‘cistern’. In essence, where he stores his normal mana, but also where he combines it to create an intended effect.” He traced a line from one, up the scar and to the center. “If he was to use Order, mana would move from the pool into the cistern, and spread it throughout his body temporarily. It’d return to normal following the process. Now if he was to switch Frequencies, mana would constantly flow into the cistern and spread it throughout his body so he could continuously use Order spells. In doing so though, it closes the circuit, so he can’t use Chaos spells until he either neutralizes the effect or switches Frequencies again. Then again, you could force it, but that’s just subjecting yourself to torture!” He laughed.
    Nobody laughed with him. No one in the room seemed to have a sense of humour. He muttered about that fact under his breath.
    “Anyway…” He said as he rubbed the back of his neck. “Couple years back one of my student’s guild mates brought back some diagnostics from the Dark Moon. They’d run some tests on the kid, and in the process created Agasuras using the circuit system as a basis, and replicas of the Heart of Yggdrasil.” He placed a hand to his lips in thought for a moment. “Maybe replica isn’t the right word. Let’s say an imitation-that being, opal. The intended effect was that rather than trying to create Agasura, or Abominations as I call them, through injecting Agasuric mana into them, they create a replacement cistern. Through this, it collects mana and prevents overflow throughout the body.”
    Monica crossed her arms and pursed her lips as she took the information in. “So what happens if the mana overflows?” She asked.
    “They turn into uncontrollable Agasura! Well…failures. If they can’t control them, they’re only a threat to the creators. Thus the opal stems the flow, and through a slow trickle the body adapts and rebuilds itself around that new type of mana. After an extended period of exposure, the body itself begins to transform to adapt to the change, and Agasuric characteristics begin taking form. Thus, the creation of Abominations.” He crossed his arms this time too as Amu’s song came to a close and she joined Peorth. “The tricky thing here is that it’s not all that easy.”
    “What do you mean?” Lucia asked, her face showing genuine curiosity. For a know-it-all, blood glutton, stuck-up princess of a Vampanelar, she could be charming when she was not looking down on him.
    “It all boils down to a matter of willpower. The weak-willed will easily be transformed into Agasura, but in doing so they’ll come out weak, retaining a mostly human form, if not something lesser. Their strength would likely border the line between Human and Agasura, and in that regard they’d be nothing more than fodder. Those who resist and reject the Agasuric mana cause the circuit to pump out an increased input, and in doing so the body is further pushed past its limits, creating a stronger Agasura.”
    Those with the potential were not far from the Agasura he had become familiar with during his adventuring days. To think that Samson and a few others from Bastion managed to fight off similar creatures still impressed him to the day. But unlike those, what his companions had come across were immortal beings.
    “Choen Palm herself took that approach. To think that she used a shard of the Heart of Yggdrasil to act as a cistern is fuckin’ insane. But I guess she’s not Asmodeus’ party pooper princess just for show.”
    Her transformation ability was not something to be trifled with. If she had gotten serious against him, she may have actually killed him in the process. It was a good thing he did not have Skuld release the seals on him at the time, or that may have come to pass.
    “Homegirl’s got some insane strength of spirit to bear that much mana within her body.” He chuckled. “But that’s just the thing about Humanity. They have some of the most terrifying potential out of all the races. Their identities and abilities are so malleable that they can toe the line between races and still come out in one piece. Which is what I’m most concerned about.”
    If Dr. Truong could make Agasuras like that using Cerebians, what could he accomplish if he was to take this practice to Humans? If he was to follow in his own father’s wake, it would only spell disaster for Jienda. That ideal they shared was what brought Vanir this far, and that very thing may just be the deciding factor in terms of whom would kill whom. Truong had Choen Palm at his side, but he felt certain she was not the only one who he recruited. Thankfully, Vanir had a special weapon of his own. With them at his side, he may be able to turn the tables, but he also ran the risk of dooming the world in the process.
    “I’m curious about this flow system you mentioned. It’s not that I don’t understand how our body makeup works, but I’m interested in how that compares to the system you rely on.” Naomi said as she took her lollipop out of her mouth and waved it at him.
    “Hmm…the flow system? Well, it’s as you’d imagine it to be. One type of mana that flows freely through the body. Since there’s no need to switch between types, spells and stances come out quicker, and more often than not, if you know your stuff you won’t need incantations. In our case, that being Skuld and I, it shortens the time it takes us to write the runes.”
    “Would you care to tell me what you meant by ‘thresholds’ earlier? I had not questioned it at the time but since you are explaining anyway, perhaps now is reasonable?” Lucia asked with her most charming smile. He glared at her.
    “What is this?! An ask me anything?” Get out! He did not add the last part, but he wanted to. “To stabilize his body, we needed to pass three thresholds, those being each of his mana pools. The thing about TJ that differs from us is his mana capacity is huge. If we expend our mana, first we feel exhausted, and if we go further than that it will lead to lethargy, and then a complete collapse. TJ’s can go above and beyond that point, but if he does he enters a ‘failsafe’ mode because his body senses his life is in danger. In that state, it attempts to forcefully restore his mana by taking it from the nearest source, that being, his inner demons.
    “The problem? When he enters that state he’s not conscious, so it’s a free-for-all for whoever can take the reins of the body. If this time was any indication, Adonis saw his chance and tried to take it. By maintaining the seals and restoring his mana we managed to keep Adonis in check so he couldn’t escape temporarily. Of course, that’s all we can do. Just like the others, it’s his willpower that will decide whether or not he can reclaim his body. If he fails, Adonis can take over and all hell will break loose. Bad end, in a nutshell.”
    A blue aura surrounded TJ before it came to rest in the Heart of Yggdrasil and Amu let out a sigh of relief. “It looks like the ritual was a success, but I can’t help but feel that something still isn’t right.” She said as she cautiously eyed him.
    “How do you mean?” Peorth asked as she knit her eyebrows.
    “We’ve filled the mana pool, and the ritual was a success, but…his conscious self is still…missing.” She looked down at his chest. “I’d only done this once before but…I’m going to give it another try. I’m going to glimpse into his memories.”
    Peorth tilted her head quizzically while the rest gave her puzzled looks.
    “You can do that?” Monica asked with a dumbfounded expression.
    “Probably just one of the perks of being the Abellan’s attendant.” Vanir said with a shrug. “I wouldn’t wanna look through that, though. Gods know what hells he’s seen.”
    Amu climbed onto the bed and rested her ear against his chest, directly against the Heart of Yggdrasil. Vanir’s lips curled into a sliver of a grin as he glimpsed at Peorth who seemed to silently burn with jealousy despite her unchanging expression. Maybe she just needed a push in the right direction.
    After a few moments Amu raised her head and placed a hand to her chest as she sighed. “W-well…that was quite the experience.”
    “What’d you see?! Spill the beans!” Monica said excitedly hopping at the end of the bed. From where he stood Vanir could see Skuld’s hat and her eyes peering at the girl curiously. It was a good thing one of the two had self-control.
    “It was…well it’s hard to say really. They were just brief, distorted flashes of events in TJ’s life…and I think some even before we met him.” She closed her eyes for a moment. “In many of them, I saw you, Chief.”
    “Me…?” She asked as she connected the dots. “Well there is little doubt that I had a role to play throughout his adventures but…I know not what I can do for him.”
    “It’s just a theory, but I want you to call out to him. He might not be conscious, but I think his spirit will hear you. The two of you share a very special bond, so perhaps through that you can reach him.”
    Peorth drew her shard of the Heart of Yggdrasil from her dress and eyed it for a moment. In the following seconds Vanir could see her steel her resolve before she held it tightly to her chest. “TJ, you are not alone. Please…please return to us…!”
    Amu placed her ear to the Heart of Yggdrasil and listened in once more. “Keep going Chief. I think it’s working.”
    The barista watched in silence as the event continued to play out. The thoughts of making a ‘power of friendship’ joke danced in his mind, but if it actually worked out for them he would feel rather underwhelmed by the course of events. Sooner rather than later, his joke would turn dry.
    Skuld walked over and took his hand, her eyes focused on Peorth’s struggle, and he gently squeezed it. Though he loved to spoil emotionally charged moments, perhaps just this once he would resist. He knew how Peorth felt, and seeing the typically monotone and expressionless princess desperately calling out to her comrade struck a chord in him too. In that regard, they were not so different. Only that she, with her voice may have been able to counteract the fate that threatened to claim her comrade.
    “I…can see. It’s clearing up, and I think I can hear his voice. It’s faint, but he’s calling you too, Chief. Keep going! This might be just what we need!”
    Vanir placed a finger to his lips in thought for a moment. Perhaps like the Abominations Truong created, they needed a certain catalyst to complete their transformation? Those who had built up a resistance to the Agasuric mana, and any other injections they may have received often needed a push…something to seal the deal. “You know,” Vanir began, “they say that nothing wakes a sleeping princess like the kiss of a handsome prince.”
    Eyes darted to him and he suddenly felt extremely small. Without realizing it he blurted out a terrible joke, and once again it was not well received.
    “…Is that so?” Peorth’s voice broke the silence, and everyone’s’ eyes, including his, darted to her. “Then so be it.” The queen placed her hands to his cheeks as she leaned over the bed to press her lips to his. They all gasped, and solemnly watched in bated breath.
    As Peorth pulled away and slowly opened her eyes, the gem emitted a powerful glow before the last remnants of the crimson glow faded away. After the effect he let out a gentle sigh, and the breaths he took as he slept were all that followed.
    “I was just kidding!” Vanir shouted in his defense before the same-face sisters could tear him a new one.
    “I…think that did it.” Amu said with a look of surprise. “The first time it was a lot easier to fix the seals, but I suppose the effect can weaken over time. It was a good thing you were here Chief.”
    “Yes. I agree.” She answered as she seemed to look through Amu more than at her. Her cheeks were flushed pink.
    “An…actually good suggestion from Vanir? Did Hel freeze over?” Monica asked in disbelief. Terrible.
    “I’m honestly surprised that suggestion didn’t backfire on him.” Maya said as she smiled gently. Gods-awful.
    “I uhh…huh.” Naomi muttered as she chewed the remains of her lollipop. No comment.
    “You always know what to do, don’t you Vanir?” Lucia said as she gave him that smile that said she was complimenting him when it was actually a brutal mockery. The worst!
    “Good job Master.” Skuld said as she beamed at him.
    It was like falling in love all over again. Her smile healed all the terrible wounds those girls inflicted on his poor heart. “Come here Skuld! Let me love you, you precious child!” He picked her up and nuzzled her as she complained that it was rather embarrassing to do in front of all of them.
    “Perhaps it would be best if we took any further discussions downstairs. We should not wake TJ, now that he is finally resting.” Peorth said as she got up and moved robotically towards the door.
    He could not help but hide his grin-or perhaps it was because his face was pressed to Skuld’s and it was forcing his mouth into a smile. Perhaps there would be happiness for the two sometime during their lifetime. He would hate to have to see them part, but he knew their fates would not likely be so kind.
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sun Dec 27, 2015 5:05 pm

    Ch 8. (Pages 344-354):
    The girls had all gathered at the table while Vanir rummaged through the cupboards.
    “What’re you looking for Vanir?” Monica asked as she rocked back and forth with her chair.
    “Coffee! After dragging me through the slog of excessive exposition I need my fix! Queenie-where’s it at?”
    “Coffee?” She asked as she tilted her head quizzically.
    “Coffee.” He answered as he exhaled through his nose. His expression said he was on the verge of going into his own ‘failsafe’ mode.
    “…There is none.”
    He pointed at the group. “I am going to flip that table so fast your heads will spin.”
    “There is none.” The guild master repeated. She neither moved, nor batted an eyelash.
    “Gods! What is wrong with you people?!”
    “TJ is not fond of coffee, and Su neither eats nor drinks.”
    Naomi looked surprised, Monica smiled and Lucia gave a nod of approval.
    “You know a lot about him don’t you Peorth?” Lucia asked.
    “Yes. I feel that it is both important to understand my comrades in and out of battle.”
    Vanir threw himself onto the table between Skuld and Naomi and remained there. “What about Vanir? Vanir loves coffee! You haven’t forgotten, have you Queenie?”
    “I have not.”
    Skuld gave the barista a gentle pat on the back. Technically the ribs because of her stubby arms. It made him feel a little better nonetheless.
    “I can’t stay long everyone, since the shop needs me. Do you have any questions you need to ask?” Amu suggested with an affable smile. The only non-weirdo among all of those girls. Though to have that many in his house at once, TJ could be the next bachelor.
    The first hand that shot up in the air was Vanir’s. This was his chance to get some info out of that Amu girl. “Exactly how did you attain that power of yours? Sealing demons and whatnot?”
    She gestured that it was not the case with both hands. “It’s…not exactly like that! It’s just a ritual passed down in my family!” A lineage thing? Not too surprising for the Cerebians. “My mom had taught me a song that could seal the Abellan’s demons. She had told me it was a duty given to our ancestors and something our family carried to this generation.
    If the Abellan didn’t appear during her lifetime, that duty would fall to me and so on and so forth. In truth I didn’t know TJ was the Abellan until I glimpsed into his memories during our stay in Aoich. That really surprised me!”
    Vanir turned his head so his chin rested on the table. “So the song seals the demons? I guess it’s true that music soothes the savage beast. So you’re the only one that can do it?”
    “You could say that.” She laughed gently.
    “So it is true…” Peorth said as she placed a finger to her lips thoughtfully. “What is the name of the ritual Amu?”
    “The name? I dunno if it has a name itself…but my mom told me the name of the song. She said during her great-great-grandmother’s lifetime, the song was known as the Abellan’s Lullaby, but after that they had started calling it the Lullaby of the Cerebian Hero.” She scratched her cheek. “I’m pretty bad with our native language so I can’t tell you the others.”
    So she could not create the seals, but she could restore them. It raised the question of who initially sealed him in the first place. Perhaps God Ah? But why would God Ah go out of his way to sabotage Asmodeus? On the other hand, if Adonis had free reign it would be no contest right from the get-go. Knowing the gods, it was not entirely unlikely he did it for that specific purpose…that dick.
    “So this whole thing doesn’t bother you at all? I mean doesn’t it kinda suck to have that dumped on you?” Naomi asked while she enjoyed another lollipop. The girl was a walking candy store!
    “I don’t think of it that way. It’s kind of an honour…I think. Everyone is working so hard to protect Jienda by fighting Agasura and clearing Instance Dungeons…I’m not really that strong though, so I can’t be of much help. But this…is something even I can do.” She placed her hands to her chest as she closed her eyes and lowered her head. “It’s a small duty, but one that carries a great deal of weight. With this, I can support everyone from the sidelines. Knowing that, is reason enough for me to accept who TJ needs me to be.”
    An angel! An angel descended upon this terrible, terrible land!
    “Your efforts are greatly appreciated,” Peorth added. Was…that an actual compliment? Her usual demeanour made it hard to tell.
    “A-anyway I really should be going. If I’m too late Tetty’s gonna scold me!” Amu said in a rising panic.
    “I shall take you ho-”
    “Princess, allow us.” Lucia said before she turned to her sisters. “Monica.”
    Her faced curled into a grimace almost instantly. “Seriously?” She asked in turn. Must have gotten used to it. He could relate on a spiritual level to her, but he still thought she deserved it.
    Lucia nodded and Peorth drew her warp crystal. “The least I can do for you is lend you this.”
    “Thanks Queenie. Well, let’s go Amu.” Monica said as she approached.
    “I’m in your care.” At her answer the two immediately vanished.
    “Now then, since TJ has found some semblance of safety, I believe we should take this opportunity to talk business.” Lucia said as she intertwined her fingers upon her waist.
    “That would be for the best,” Peorth answered.
    It seemed that it was indeed business hour. Vanir would have to save the goofing off for later. The only time he would make jokes was out of it, or if he was talking to the kids. Among them, some semblance of professionalism was often required.
    Lucia wore her usual confident smile which meant she was ready to get right down to business. “During your journey to the unknown Instance Dungeon, I had the girls look into the whereabouts of God’s Governor of Wind. Maya-” She gestured to her sister and the girl waved in turn. “-had located him in the Haven Lemanin. Currently he’s unaffiliated with any guilds, and spends much of his time within the Haven.
    “As I mentioned before, convincing him to join your cause won’t be easy for you. If you plan on going to see him, I’d recommend that you come up with a good plan.”
    Naomi clicked her tongue. “Why the hell is he so flighty? Is Jienda being in danger not reason enough for a God’s Governor to get his shit together and help out? Honestly!” She placed a hand to her cheek and rested her elbow on the table. “Just get up in his face and tell him what’s what.”
    “That’d probably be a bad idea,” The barista pointed out.
    “How so?” She opened an eye to glance at him.
    “They’d scare the kid off like that.” He laughed as he shrugged. “I mean let’s be real here, if you waltz up to a guy and say, ‘The world’s in danger and we need you to save it’ the poor kid would either piss his pants, or say you’re bonkers. I mean, give a kid a sword and a green tunic and whatnot and maybe you’ll have the makings of a hero, but that’s not gonna fly around these parts. Gotta handle it with a touch of delicacy, you know?”
    “ Pardon my interruption, but before you explain any further,” The queen interjected, “what means do you believe we should use to get in touch with him?”
    “You could just ask us Queenie.” Maya said as she pointed her thumb at herself, a proud grin on her face. “We can set up a meeting with the guy without terrifying him.
    “I’m willing to bet by now he’s heard of us, and if he hasn’t I wouldn’t doubt that he’d want to get to know us.” Somebody was overly confident.
    “I see. That would be very helpful, thank you.”
    “So back to the topic at hand, what have you got in mind Vanir?” Naomi asked.
    He rubbed his chin thoughtfully for a moment. “Best way to do it in my opinion, is to go big. Let’s face it, the Agasura, no offense to the lot of you, aren’t getting any stupider. We all know that there’s a darkness just looming over the horizon, and it’s only a matter of time until Asmodeus decides to show up…and fuck shit up. Big time.
    “So how do you counteract this? Unite the Cerebians!”
    Peorth tilted her head quizzically, while the other girls raised eyebrows.
    “You’re all looking at me like I’m talking nonsense.” For once, he was not. At least what he considered common knowledge often came off as nonsense to them. This often ended with odd looks, especially after jokes. “Lemme’ put it another way. While you guys were dungeon diving, me and Kooh were taken to pound town by Choen Palm. That woman is seriously brutal. If you have to jump into another dungeon, what’s gonna happen while you’re away?
    “Consider this: if you were a military strategist, you couldn’t tell your commander to take your best units and go for a pincer attack knowing that your back was exposed, could you?”
    This got a reaction out of Peorth. She blinked, with a look of realization upon her face. Of all things!
    “I see,” She said. The expected reaction, but for her it was like understanding the laws of the universe.
    “Good. But that’s not the end of it. Remember that Choen Palm left Kimara Research, so that means there’s no limit to how big the force you throw at her can be. If you’re going to bring friends, I’d recommend only the best of the best, ‘cause not just anyone will live through that experience.
    “That aside, what I want you to see is you’re gonna need more help than just Yggdrasil. At this juncture, it’s not gonna be long before this turns into an all-out war, and having your forces disorganized won’t do you much good. If you know there are guys that’ll have your back if you need to go dungeon diving, it’ll save your bacon. And hell, knowing you, you’re not one to sit on the sidelines and stamp papers like a good princess are you?” He shrugged and chuckled.
    “If you do that, even that flighty God’s Governor of yours is gonna want in on the hero bandwagon!” That, and he could sit in his café and sip coffee instead of fighting for dear life against Choen Palm.
    “I see.” She said as she intertwined her fingers. “You raise a very good point Vanir.
    “Perhaps it is time that I come out of hiding and reveal myself to my people.”
    “H-hold on Queenie, you sure about that? That’s like putting a bullseye on your back!” Naomi cried out as she slammed her hands down and stood up.
    “Calm down and let her speak Naomi. I’m positive that she knows exactly what she’s doing.” Lucia told her sister. The rowdy Vampanelar wore a defeated and apologetic expression as she sat back down. “Continue Princess.”
    Peorth nodded. “It has been many years since the fall of Asgard. My people have thought me dead for all this time and have taken to the field to see our duty through without a leader. I confess, that it is improper of me to show myself less than a year before we wage war against Agasura King Asmodeus, but should they need a leader, I feel it is only proper that I shoulder the burden. Should they accept me to lead them despite all my failings as their queen, then I shall do just that.
    “After meeting God’s Governor of Fire Amata, I had realized that perhaps there are still Cerebians out there who suspect that I am still alive and are waiting for my return. If they are, be they one or two Cerebians, then this will not be a wasted effort. Just as we rally to TJ and place our hopes in him, I wish for the Cerebians to also be able to look to me as a guiding light.
    “I have also been meeting with some of the other guild masters occasionally, and they have shared some of their theories with me. Their help has been paramount in managing the Agasuric threat across Jienda, and has allowed me to prioritize my focus on Elias, Belos, and aiding TJ in his journey. Those being: Instance Dungeons, one-on-one training sessions and song training.”
    Vanir’s jaw fell at that statement. If those two had so much free time why weren’t they getting it on like rabbits yet?! The idiots!
    At that moment Monica returned and closed the door behind her. “Jeez sis why couldn’t you send one of the other girls to do it? I’m a full-fledged part of this team too, you know!” She complained as she stormed to her seat and pouted.
    “Because you were just right for the job. Now let Princess finish speaking please.” Lucia kept a calm demeanour even while talking down to her siblings. Absolutely unrelenting.
    “Hmph!”
    Peorth gave a solemn nod-or an apologetic bow(?) before she continued. “As the queen of the Cerebians and our Lady Amae’s proxy, it is my duty to guide both Cerebian and Abellan alike.
    “A student of Vanir’s, now a guild master, knows quite a fair amount about the inner workings of our contract. Her name is Reina Godwin, but she has taken up the title of Keeper of Knowledge. She has shared much of her findings with us, and has also done so with her guild. A portion of this being the fact that if I or TJ were to die, that the Instance Dungeons such as the Pharaoh’s Chambers or the Gourmet’s Valley would not cease to be. The reason being, is that only an Agasura can kill another. The Instance Dungeons exist because our ancestors created them to seal away Asmodeus’ minions. Though she does not know of TJ’s Agasuric origins, she is aware that if there were any who could perform such a feat, it would have to be that of God Ah’s family.”
    It seemed that Reina refrained from mentioning that Salem spoiled the secret that she was the queen and indeed not dead by any stretch of the imagination. Though the only proof that they had of TJ at the time was Samson’s information from Iris and company, Vanir had informed them that he asked for his help. Better him spoil the surprise than have the group raid the Dark Moon and die by the hands of the Dark Moon Princess…for the umpteenth time.
    Then again, the kid often referred to her as guild master Belldandy so apparently her terrible disguise actually tricked her, and the rest of the guild masters. He was as of yet to see it himself, but it must have been something. He knit his eyebrows in thought. One would think her deadpan voice would be a dead giveaway, but perhaps the looks were convincing enough to throw them off the trail. On the other hand, most of them had never heard her voice, save for Salem.
    Peorth continued, “Perhaps given this knowledge, and should we put this plan into action, I can unite the Cerebians through their respective guilds.
    “I do not wish to dismiss them from their current guilds, nor could we take in all those that wish to be part of Yggdrasil as there is a limitation to how much one guild may hold. Thus, in doing so they may keep their respective leaders, while I can still lead them as a queen.”
    “Good idea, but again you gotta handle it with delicacy!” Vanir added as he raised a finger. “People are like tiny, scared, forest animals.”
    Lucia raised an eyebrow as she leaned forward. “Tell us Vanir, what do you have in mind for this?”
    A wide grin spread across his face. Hook, line and sinker. “I’d recommend you put on a little act. That’ll definitely get ‘em.”
    He rummaged through his pockets and drew a flyer for the Abio store. “Check this out.” He spread it out so the whole group could clearly see the front page. “You take a couple of your best guys-I’d recommend TJ be one of them, and put on these outfits.” It featured the Abio rangers’ suits in red, green and blue. “You come in with a bang and nobody’ll know what hit ‘em.
    “Of course, if you really wanna get them, you need to go for the double whammy.” At this juncture they were all giving him confused looks. He was prepared for this, and knew by the end of it they would understand what he was getting at. “Since I’ve heard you’ve been disguising yourself, when you take off the helmet you gotta have that disguise ready underneath it to really knock ‘em dead. You with me so far?”
    “Yes.” Peorth answered with a single nod. Thank goodness she was a smart kid or he would be here all day.
    Vanir nodded proudly. “Used to watch a T.V show when I was a kid about a bunch of groovy detectives and their talking dog, catching criminals. Wasn’t a kid who couldn’t wait to see the villains get unmasked at the end and say their signature catchphrase.
    “W-wait that’s not the point here.” He said as he slammed his hand on the paper to snap out of his nostalgia trip. “When you reveal your second disguise, you do one more big reveal! That’s when you reveal that you’re actually the queen of Asgard!”
    Monica placed a fist into an open-palm with a look of realization. “I get it! Queenie was to reveal herself that way then everyone would be so surprised and amazed that they’d like her!”
    “Close but not quite.” Naomi said as she drew her lollipop. “When you think of a queen, you think prim, proper, and someone you should bow down to. If you get that same girl dressed as an Abio ranger, you’re gonna rethink your way of looking at royalty.
    “The importance of Vanir’s plan is to put Queenie in the shoes of your everyday Cerebian. Think about how we felt when we met the Abellan for the first time. He might be their saviour, but he looks like a pre-pubescent teen with pink hair. Still, he was so…normal that we could approach him easily.”
    “Exactly!” Vanir said pointing at Naomi and rising. Her description of the Abellan was a tad on the hardcore side, but she was right nonetheless.
    “So you wish for me to surprise my people to obtain their acceptance?” Peorth asked.
    When she put it like that it sounded worse than it was. “P-pretty much.” The barista answered as he smiled wryly.
    “That’s quite the interesting plan you have there Vanir.” Lucia said as she smiled. He growled at her and her smile widened. Maya and Naomi shrugged at the sight.
    “Do you have these suits prepared Vanir?” The queen asked.
    He grit his teeth and turned away in defeat. “That…that’s the one thing I can’t do. You know how the Abio store is. They trade fancy items for astros-either that or you pay a fortune. I’m just a humble barista, I can hardly afford to feed my wife and children!”
    “But you’re not married Master,” Skuld added. She was now sitting in his lap.
    He cupped a hand to her mouth. “I mean me and my brownie!”
    All of the girls made defeated expressions, and he knew what that meant. His eyes darted to Lucia and her smile grew wider.
    “Well Vanir, since Club Abio is indeed owned by the Abio Company, we received astros just for working under them, so we could help you in this endeavour…for a price.”
    He gnashed his teeth in his fury. “You…you witch!”
    “I will-” Before Peorth could voice her thoughts Maya held up a hand. “Just…just let it be Queenie.
    These two are like this all the time. Trust me on this, you will not see Sis have this much fun any other time.”
    “I guess it’s not all bad. His blood’s pretty uncommon and has a good taste to it, so it works out.” Naomi said as she shrugged. “So I guess you could say it’s a win-win situation.
    “Besides…” She leaned an elbow on the table and rested her chin in her hand as she winked. “It’s our job to help you see you through hard times isn’t it? Down here you might still be the queen of Asgard, but you’re a friend of ours.”
    Monica nudged her with an elbow as she grinned. “Well said, Sis.”
    Naomi grinned back. “Oh shut up.”
    “I’m gonna throw this brownie at you!” Vanir roared as he lifted Skuld by her arms..
    “M-Master?!” She cried out in a panic.
    Lucia raised her hands in mock fear. “Oh noooo…”
    “I accept the proposal of this plan. You have my utmost gratitude ladies, and you also, Vanir.” Peorth said to them all. They all smiled back and told her she was welcome, and Vanir put Skuld back down.
    “Then that settles that. I’ll leave punching out the finer details to you, Princess Monotonè.”
    “It shall be done.”

    Lucia finally relaxed since the time for business had passed. “Tell me Princess, if what had recently occurred was any indication, it seems you harbour special feelings for TJ, no?” She asked.
    Peorth’s mouth opened ever so slightly, and remained agape as a short silence followed.
    Lucia could be ruthless, and typically Vanir did not agree with her whatsoever. But this? This, he agreed with. Very much so.
    “I’m interested! Time to spill the beans Queenie!” Monica said as she sat up.
    “It is…not what you think…” The queen muttered under her breath.
    “Denial is the first step towards acceptance,” Maya added.
    “It’s fine if you come clean with us, Queenie. We’re not gonna tell anybody.” Naomi said. Though she was looking away, her face was flushed pink. It seemed that not even she could resist such a topic.
    “I…even if I was to…I could never see those feelings to fruition.” Peorth said as she closed her eyes.
    “What? Why not?!” Vanir complained.
    Monica glared at him. “What’re you still doing here? It’s time for girl talk!”
    “What? I can’t be an honourary girl?! I’ll be Skuld’s voice.” Skuld smiled gently at the suggestion, his arms wrapped around her torso.
    “Don’t worry so much about it Mona. He probably knows a few things that could be of use anyway,” Naomi suggested. “So what’s stopping you Queenie?”
    The queen closed her eyes. “At my father’s behest I was betrothed to an earl by the name of Aurelius Rosario,” She answered. “I am positive he did so keeping my best interest, and the kingdom’s future in mind.”
    “Kill him!” Vanir snarled as he slammed a fist down.
    “Who’s this guy? Is he blackmailing you? We’ll get his info and break his nose.” Naomi said as a dark shadow was cast over her eyes.
    “You can turn him down can’t you Queenie? You should have the right to choose!” Monica complained as she clenched her fists.
    “Forbidden love? It actually sounds kinda romantic!” Maya said with a dreamy look in her eyes.
    “Girls, please.” Lucia said as she gestured for them to settle down. “I do believe Monica raised a fair point, though. Do you not have a choice in the matter, Princess?”
    She closed her eyes slowly as she mulled the thought over. “Perhaps I do, but I find myself at a crossroads in the matter.
    “Prior to my father’s demise, he had created a list of suitors to whom he could arrange a marriage with to safeguard my future. The child that I was then…I had turned them all down and refused to get married to any of those he had selected. I did not make the choice easy on him in the slightest.” Her expression looked somewhat pained.
    “Following his demise, I had watched as my kingdom flew into a panic, and at that time I came to realize that my fate was upon me, and the burden that it would bring. I was too young to be a proper ruler, so many of the decisions were left up to my advisors while I studied at an even greater pace to fulfill the role of leader. My father’s wish was that I would marry so keeping the kingdom under control would not be beyond our reach, should he no longer be able to rule.
    “Alas, though my mother was no ruler, she had the charisma of one. Both soldier and civilian alike adored her, and she could stand proudly beside my father as his equal. She sacrificed herself, and became immortalized as a hero.” Peorth shook her head. “I may be her daughter, but I can only follow the path she once treaded. I could not protect my people, nor save my kingdom.
    “Thus…if my father’s will requests that I be wed, then so shall it be done.”
    The whole group looked downcast at the reality of the situation. Not even Vanir could come up with something witty to counteract the heavy atmosphere, let alone say anything that could change her opinion. It sucked to be the kid in this scenario, but knowing who he was, he could not likely throw the kingdom on his back and see his duty through as the Abellan. He had to choose, and so did she.
    “I…I don’t think that’s fair at all, Your Highness!” Skuld cried out as eyes turned to her. “I only know a bit about kingdoms and kings and queens but…why can’t you love who you want to? Should people really be unwilling to follow you just because you’re a girl? I think you’re strong and cool, just like Queen Remedi, so can’t anyone else feel the same? Are you really not enough to protect your kingdom? You and Yggdrasil have been protecting Jienda for decades!”
    Vanir chuckled gently. “You know, Skuld’s got a pretty good point. Is some earl really that big a deal? I mean, respecting your father’s wishes and whatnot is a pretty respectable goal, but you can’t forget that you’re a person too.” He said as he nodded confidently.
    “But I must at-” Peorth began but was stopped by Naomi.
    “You don’t have to do anything. Just do what you think is best. Whether that’s chasing after the Abellan or throwing yourself into a dungeon, you’re doing things nobody else would have the balls to do.” She said as she grinned.
    “You have the right to decide what’s best for you, Queenie. Follow your heart, wherever it takes you! Besides, there’s still at least quite a few months before Asmodeus decides to show up, so you should make the best of the time you have with TJ!” Monica remarked with a thumbs-up.
    They gave her puzzled looks and she gestured to calm down. “I’m not saying we’re all gonna die or something! If she goes back to ruling the kingdom afterwards and stuff…that’s what I meant!”
    “Relax Queenie. If you can’t be with TJ, I’ll gladly do it in your stead.” Maya said as she closed her eyes and nodded confidently.
    The other Vampanelars, save for Lucia looked concerned for her.
    “I mean, a boy like him is just ripe for the picking! I’d gladly take him off your hands and bring him home! Something about cute boys just makes me wanna make them cry an-”
    “Maya, your ‘S’ is showing…” Naomi muttered under her breath before Lucia got up.
    “Come with me for a moment Maya.” She said smiling as she dragged her sister out of the chair and to the back. Despite her cries her sisters did not even look in her direction.
    There was a long-winded scream, then silence. Lucia returned with Maya before she hurled her onto the couch across from Curt and took her seat. Maya looked like she had seen hells beyond their comprehension, and did not say nor breathe a word. Lucia dusted off her dress and took up her usual sitting posture as if nothing had happened.
    “Now then,” Lucia began, “Princess, as much as I respect your decisions, and of course those of your father’s, I have to object to this matter. Your mother would not accept it if you solely decided to move according to the flow your life dictates. Did you think Confidants would exist if your mother did what she was told?” Lucia smiled, but it was unlike any of her usual confident smiles. She looked genuinely happy, for once. “Remedi may have been royalty but she was a free spirit nonetheless. Nothing could contain her, and as she did as she pleased, she spread much joy in her wake. If you strive to be like her, you need to consider her nature to truly understand her deeds.”
    “I’m with Lucia on that one. Your mom was definitely something else. Besides, you wouldn’t like it if TJ had eyes for someone else would you?” Vanir asked. Her eyes were trained on him. He had her.
    “Don’t forget, he’s got a lot of affection for you. Like Amu had said, a lot of his memories had you in them, so he takes from you quite a bit. Consider how you’re gonna proceed from here.
    “The Abellan, though he has human shape, is practically a weapon of mass destruction. How you respond to him can change the outcome of your respective fates. Either he’ll be the sword that cleaves all of your enemies, or the shield that will protect you and your allies.” Vanir grinned.
    “At the very least, give him the courtesy of being a potential suitor. No point in getting married before this whole thing’s over, so let the time between now and then solidify your resolve. If TJ wins you over before that Aureli-what’s his face guy, then you jump his bones and everyone’s happy.”
    “She’s gonna have a pretty tough time though, won’t she? Doesn’t TJ know nothing about love?” Naomi asked as she chewed her lollipop.
    “Pretty much,” Monica sighed. “That’s a pretty rare case of amnesia he’s got there.”
    “I wouldn’t say that’s the origin of it,” Lucia chuckled.
    Peorth was silent, but her eyes seemed to be swimming. “So, in theory, if I was to take your suggestions, where would I begin?”
    There was a glint in everyone’s eyes. The real fun was about to begin.
    “You’ve gotta go for the dramatic! Call him out to Elfa Harbour before you depart on the ship and he’ll come to you like, ‘No Queenie you can’t go!’ and then you’d say, ‘But I must!’!” Monica got really heated as she explained her plan. “Then he’d be like ‘kiss me you fool!’ and then the two of you live happily ever after!” She placed her hands to her cheeks as she wriggled happily.
    “That plans got a few flaws in it Mona,” Naomi said in a deadpan voice.
    “I think you’ve been watching too much film noir, Casablanca.” Maya added as she sighed and placed a hand to her face.
    Monica pursed her lips in annoyance. “Well I don’t see you coming up with anything better.”
    Maya chuckled as she grinned. “Boys don’t know what they want, so you have to make them want it! I suggest the carrot and stick met-”
    “Maya,” Lucia said.
    “Pass.”
    “So what about you Naomi? Got any worthwhile advice Queenie can follow?” Vanir had little expectation at this juncture. These sisters were way too out there to be of any use in matters of love.
    Naomi rubbed the back of her neck gently. “Well I dunno…just be straight up with him.” The barista’s jaw fell. “W-what? It’s reasonable right? As the older of the two…technically older of the two it’s not that weird right?” She pursed her lips at the befuddled Vanir.
    “Shy boys or girls just need their partner to take the lead sometimes. So stop looking at me like that!” She furrowed her brows at him and he smiled guiltily.
    She had a better idea than he did, but he would not mention that if his life depended on it.
    “I think you’re on to something Naomi. Perhaps that is indeed what is needed in this scenario.” Lucia said with an agreeing nod. “Any thoughts so far Peorth?”
    The guild master seemed to be thinking it over. “Perhaps you are right. But I always believed that one must save a direct confession for last.” She answered in her usual way.
    “Whaddya’ mean?” The barista asked as he raised an eyebrow. Not that they could see it underneath his hat.
    “To genuinely and truly win the love of another, one must be the only one that person has in their heart. It does require time yes, but this method creates a greater fondness and commitment for both sides of the couple.”
    His mouth fell agape again. Was she implying that she was going to conquer him? Impressive! He instinctually began to clap for her. “You’re seriously one of a kind Queenie! If you’re going for the complete conquest you have my full support.”
    “I get what Queenie said but what’re you talking about?” Monica asked as she eyed him warily.
    “Don’t stress the details.” If Peorth was going that route, she was gonna have her work cut out for her.
    Succubas was glued to TJ by the hip, so the two would spend every waking moment together and likely have a much tighter bond. On the other hand, the Abellan and queen had history together, though torn apart by their lost memories. Supposedly distance did make the heart grow fonder.
    Vanir was not averse to either of them winding up together, but they each held their own ideals. Whichever’s path he chose to follow could decide much more than just his own fate. Depending on how much Vanir tampered, he could change that outcome also. For the time being though, he would give the little princess a little push in the right direction.
    “So how about you Sis? Any ideas you wanna share? Now’s a good a time as any.” Naomi said with a new lollipop in her mouth. He eyed her warily, mostly out of curiosity. She glared back at him.
    “Me? No…matters of the heart are not my forte. But I do love a good story, so if there are any results do tell!” Lucia answered with a slight grin.
    “You love them a little too much.”
    “Guess I’m up next huh?” Vanir said with a cocky grin spreading across his face. “Unlike all of you I’m gonna do this the right way.” The three gave him dubious gazes. “What do you know about TJ Queenie?”
    “What do I know…?” She asked in response with a curious look. “There is much and more I know about him, both personality and history alike. What would you like to know?”
    He swallowed hard. There was no doubt she knew a lot, so he had to ask just the right question. “Likes. His likes.” Nailed it.
    She placed a finger to her chin thoughtfully. “His likes…” After a short pause she gave a nod. “These are but a few: his favourite food is cheesecake, his favourite drink is strawberry milk tea, he loves the Abio Rangers, he prefers light, airy clothes, he loves string instruments, his favourite day is Thursday, his favourite season is Spring-” Vanir listened in awe as the list went on, as did the others, “his favourite type of pet is a brownie, he-”
    “That’ll do!” The barista said as he rose and placed a hand to her mouth. She continued on for a few moments before turning her eyes to meet his.
    “Most of those things are too small to have an impact or beyond our control so we can’t use them…but a brownie, we can do.” The barista said with a nod of approval.
    “But Master, brownies are really tough to win from LaDeck. You’ve had no luck winning one despite how much you play thus far right?” Skuld asked as she looked to him.
    A single tear formed in his visible eye. “Don’t remind me,” He muttered sullenly.
    A look of shock spread across the brownie’s face. “Y-you’re not going to get rid of me are you Master?!”
    “What? No! There are very few circumstances that could convince me to give you up.”
    “T-they exist?!”
    He grinned as he rubbed his nose with a finger. “Well…it’s just a couple. The first being he would have to marry into the family.”
    “Aren’t you against betrothals Master?” Skuld asked as she knit her eyebrows.
    “I am! I couldn’t have you get married! That’s against the law! I’d be the one getting married and we’d have shared custody over you.” All of the girls gave him strange looks at his suggestion.
    “I don’t know if I agree with that Master…what would be the second possibility?”
    “Spending an unforgettable night together, obviously.”
    The looks changed from surprise to disgust-all save for Peorth. Her expression remained the same.
    “Am I worth so little?!”
    “You know I was gonna ask why you’re the idiot in this situation, but I think it’s rather fitting for you, barista…” Naomi muttered under her breath. That stung his pride, just a little. But he was used to that.
    “I uhh…didn’t know you swung that way Vanir.” Monica said with a look of disbelief.
    “I don’t. It’s just that he doesn’t count. There’s a 70% chance that a boy that cute is a crossdressing girl!” Vanir insisted in his defense.
    “And if he’s not…?” Maya asked.
    “Well then I’ll never hear the end of it from the kid.” He muttered as he knit his eyebrows. Since the little incident with Samson, Reina changed. He flipped a switch in her he wish he had not.
    He turned his eyes to Peorth and she still had her mouth slightly agape. “It was a joke! Just a joke! So stop looking at me like that already!” He could not tell if that look was serious or not, but it scared the daylights out of him. If push came to shove she could just impale him and hang him out to dry with the rest of the laundry.
    “Back to the matter at hand, we might not be able to get a brownie, but I’ve got a little something that’ll be even better.”
    He reached into his pocket and drew one of Toma’s fashion coupons. A grand little item traded for special fashion sets adventurers would die for, and would kill to have. It was how he had gotten TJ’s new threads, and how he would help the princess in her quest.
    “With this, he’ll be in for the best kind of surprise.”

    The girls and Vanir had all parted and gone their separate ways.
    The Vampanelar sisters said that they would return to Elias to see the damage for themselves and what state Club Abio was in. Lucia remained determined to get it in the best condition both for the company’s customers, and any Cerebians that may be in dire straits or fearful of the impending storm.
    She assured Peorth that should she need their assistance, they would remain in touch. Naomi suggested that if she wanted to organize the guild masters and a location, that she and her sisters could help get the word out to the guild masters across Jienda-including those Peorth herself did not know. The queen told them when she had found a potential place and time for their summit, she would get in touch with them.
    Vanir said he was going back to his café because he had no reason to hang around and that he would likely only get in her way. She did not think that would be the case, but he said it would be paramount that she be the only one in the general vicinity when she put his plan into action, since men could turn into beasts in the right situation.
    To that end, he had asked what had happened to Curt and why he was fast asleep on the couch and she debriefed him on some of the recent events. He had Skuld heal him and leave a note before he went about his business. She was not sure why, but she was thankful that he lent his aid to her comrades.
    Since the danger had passed, all that had remained in the house were TJ, Peorth and Kooh. She had decided to check up on Kooh first, and as she did she found her cousin sleeping peacefully. It would take some time and perhaps a hand from TJ, but she would heal eventually.
    Following the event she went to the Abellan’s room and found him awake. She also found him wriggling around in a vain attempt to break free of his bindings. She felt her heartbeat increase at the sight. Whether it was because he was awake and well or because of what Maya said about cute boys and teasing she felt unsure, but she decided to go to his aid nonetheless.
    “TJ,” She began, “you look much better.”
    “Uh huh!” He said with a gentle laugh. She smiled at the sound and her cheeks flushed pink. “Truthfully I’m not sure what happened exactly but…thanks for helping me Chief. Things probably would’ve ended much worse if it weren’t for you.”
    She had caused him so much suffering and yet he still looked at her as his saviour. Her aspiration to protect him only grew stronger every passing day. Was it unusual for her to have such a desire? She knew not, but she would remember this feeling, and if it strengthened her resolve she would continue to nurture it.
    “Allow me.” She made her way to the other side of the bed and began to undo the knot Vanir had made. It took some time to finally get it undone, but once she had she coiled it nicely and placed it in a corner-somewhere it would not get in the way or run the risk of tripping someone.
    “Thanks Chief. How are you feeling? Choen Palm gave you a pretty rough time too…” He looked around and reached out for his guitar. “Just gimme a minute and I’ll patch you up.”
    She placed a hand to his shoulder and shook her head. “You need not worry for my sake. My wounds are light and will recover in due time.
    “It is you, that you should be concerned for. Your wounds may heal due to your Agasuric blood’s influence, but your body will need time to recover from the effects of it.” Thanks to the Vampanelar sisters, Vanir and Amu TJ’s mana was recovered so the chances of Adonis being able to manipulate his body were nigh impossible. Though to be safe, and for her own peace of mind, she would prefer it if he was to take some time to rest and recuperate before attempting any magic.
    “Yeah, you’re probably right.” As he laid back down she pulled the blanket over him and smiled gently.
    “You should rest TJ. The danger has passed, and you have done very well.”
    “Haha thanks!” He grinned gently. “You should rest too Chief. You must be exhausted.” He hid the lower half of his face under his blanket as his eyes looked from side-to-side. “You can…sleep here if you like…the bed is big enough for both of us.”
    She chuckled gently at the suggestion. “You have my thanks, but I will resist this time. Since you are unwell, I shall look after you until you feel better. You need not worry for my sake.”
    He nodded gently before he closed his eyes. “Night Chief.”
    “Good night TJ.”
    She watched solemnly as within a matter of minutes he had fallen asleep and breathed quietly. As she had suspected, calling upon Adonis when in dire straits was a very exhausting action for him.
    Even so, without Adonis himself, there was no denying that TJ had incredible strength just using the Chaos Frequency alone. Utilizing it could give him incredible strength, but she felt certain that it came at a great cost. All things considered, it seemed that the more he summoned Adonis, the more his seals came undone. If all six were to finally break, what would happen to him?
    As a guild master, as a proxy, and as a loyal companion, what could she suggest that he do? It would be a simple matter to suggest that he refrain from using his Chaos Frequency, but she knew that limiting the powers of her companions could be both a bane and a boon to them. There was no doubt that it could reduce the likelihood of Adonis returning, but if TJ was put in danger because of it there was even more at stake.
    She sighed gently as she closed her eyes. She felt a hand upon hers and saw a single outstretched hand lightly gripping hers. She would protect it…protect him. If she could be there for him…he would not need the Chaos Frequency, and he would need neither Su nor Freya to defend him.
    Whether she was bound by duty or by willpower, her goal would remain the same.

    Peorth found herself amidst her old comrades, walking through the corridor of a hotel.
    “You really gave us a start there TJ.” Straw Hat said as he laughed, the Abellan being carried on his back.
    “I…I couldn’t help it! You saw that thing right?! That…humbaba.” He shuddered at the thought. At this point in time he wore a loose-hanging black t-shirt with a skull emblazoned on the front-his right shoulder remained free in it. He wore torn navy blue jeans and black, white and crimson sneakers. “It was like blehh!” He contorted his face to imitate the Agasura-one eye was half shuttered, his tongue lolled and his eyebrows went in opposite directions.
    “That impression is spot on!” Kooh said as she laughed too.
    “Don’t worry about the details, we were there too.” Straw Hat added as he grinned back to him. “I’m not sure if you getting that poison barf on you would’ve been better than you tearing up the entire floor.”
    “You completely exhausted your mana and nearly tore the place down. We were lucky it was just one floor, but they’re gonna have us come and fix it when the construction team arrives a few days from now,” Ardoss sighed.
    “Mistakes are wont to happen. You are still young, Ardoss. If you fret to such an extent your hair will turn grey before you reach thirty.” Peorth said as she chuckled gently.
    The boy placed both hands to his head warily.
    “Maybe the Monster Tower wasn’t…the best place to visit on a vacation,” Velvet said with a dry laugh. She was the one who suggested it, but Peorth thought it was a good idea nonetheless.
    “It’s fine, it’s fine.” Straw Hat said as he waved it off and TJ started to slide down his back. “Whoops close call there!”
    “D-don’t drop me…” TJ said with a tear in his eye.
    “So who wants to play doctor?”
    “It should probably be one of the guys huh? Since we probably shouldn’t be peeping in your room. That’s not a safe haven for girls, is it?” Star laughed.
    “Hey we keep it pretty clean you know!” He said defensively.
    “I will look after TJ,” Peorth insisted.
    “Princess?”
    “You sure Princess?” Velvet asked.
    “You sure you wouldn’t rather have one of us do it?” Ardoss asked. “It is our long-awaited vacation.”
    She smiled affably, slightly. “It is no matter. You may leave this duty to me, everyone.”
    “You’re a true champ Princess. I think I’m gonna cry! Wipe my tears please, TJ!” Straw Hat said as he sniffled.
    “I-I can’t move a muscle. Get one of the others to do it!” He complained as he frowned.
    “Your room’s 225 right guys?” Velvet asked as she pointed to the door.
    “That’s the one. Can you open the door Ardy?” Straw Hat asked as he gestured to it with his head.
    Ardoss walked over and opened the door allowing everyone inside.
    “It’s…surprisingly clean!” Star said as she glanced around the room with surprise.
    “You really don’t have any faith in us, do you?” Des asked as he tipped his hat up slightly.
    She grinned, but it was tough to tell beneath her mask. “It’s all love here!” She made a heart with her fingers.
    Straw Hat threw TJ off of his back and he landed on the bed with a light sound.
    “I’m delicate you know. Try not to break me.” He muttered as he eyed his companion.
    “Delicate, but with monstrous strength like that? That should be my line!” The Warlord laughed heartily as he placed his hands to his sides.
    “It was magic! Magic!”
    “Alright, everybody out save for TJ and the little princess. He needs rest, and lots of it! Doc’s orders!” He chased everyone out by gesturing them towards the door.
    “He’s in your care Princess. I’ll take these guys for a night on the town in the Big Apple so you two can relax.” As he walked off the door nearly closed but it remained slightly open.
    “Allow me to help you TJ.” She pulled the sheets out from under him and placed them over him.
    “Are you sure you don’t wanna go too, Princess? I mean…it’s not everyday we get to visit the Big Apple. There’s so much to see and do and…”
    She placed a finger to his lips. “You need not say more. I am exactly where I wish to be, and I need not ask for mo-” She turned her head as she heard voices.
    “There you are! I knew somebody was missing!” Straw Hat said. What he did remained unknown to the two.
    “W-wait no don’t! It was just getting good! Aaaah…” The door closed as the sound of Star’s complaints faded into the hallway.
    “Chief…Chief!”
    She turned her head in his direction. He did not call her that…did he?

    “Fast asleep huh?” She awoke to the sound of TJ’s voice and his hand gently stroking her hair.
    “Mmn…did I fall asleep? It seems I have let my guard down…my apologies.” It seemed to be a dream in the form of past events. A very uncommon occurrence, but one that was not entirely non-existent for her.
    “That’s fine, but in turn will you do something for me?”
    She nodded. “I shall oblige. What is it that you wish me to do?” She sat up and he gestured for her to come closer.
    “Come closer…closer…bit more…” She leaned on her chair to fulfill that wish and he threw off the blanket to grab her by her arms. He pulled her into the bed and climbed on top of her as he smiled devilishly.
    She caught a glimpse of a crimson glint beneath his bangs and she remained silent. It had to be without a doubt, Luxuria. Unlike their Agasuric brother, it seemed that she did not require the seals coming undone to manifest.
    Peorth found herself pinned by the arms and gazed into the eyes that became visible as she came ever closer.
    “What’s wrong Chief? Don’t you like me? Don’t you want me?” Luxuria asked, and Peorth remained unflinching. She did not react in any way possible. It was without a doubt exactly what she wanted, and giving into that desire would enrapture her in Luxuria’s trapping. “Be true to your heart, and say what you want. What you really want.” She pressed herself against the guild master and placed her head against hers as she gently nibbled her ear.
    She rose up and eyed her face before she sighed. “You’re a hardass both inside and out, aren’t you? Whatever. Have it your way, you starfish.” TJ’s body suddenly fell limp and collapsed against her.
    She looked to him, realized that Luxuria had gone away, and looked to the ceiling as her cheeks flushed. Such a feeling…she did not dislike it.
    “Urgh…why am I lying on-” TJ lifted himself from the guild master and looked down in pure terror.
    Grasping the situation at hand, Peorth decided it would be for the best if she quickly and concisely explained the scenario before him. In so doing she could prevent potential panic.
    “TJ I-”
    “Ah…” He uttered.
    “-understand that this situation may lead to misunderstandings due to the-”
    “Ahh…!”
    “-potential sexual connotations and/or undertones of our current positions but I can assure you-”
    He leapt off of her before he tripped over the bed frame and fell on his back. “Sorry! I’m sorry Chief!” At those words he got up, bowed and fled through the door.
    “-that it does not…bother me.”
    She let out a gentle chuckle. That was certainly one way to his heart, but she was in no hurry. Whether he was ready or not, she would gladly take things step by step with him.
    She would not worry or think about Auerilius Rosario in the coming days. She and TJ were here, now, and she would prefer enjoying the time she had with him than worrying over the events she could potentially find herself in, in the future.

    And that's the end of the chapter. I'll do a review for each section(during the battle and after) and then an overview. Since my break started I'd been writing every day to get to chapter 9 as quickly as possible. I haven't even storyboarded it yet lol. But yeah, next few days will be reviews and stuff while I iron that out.
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    TJ

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    Re: Sanctuary

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

    "King City," The paper said. (Ch 8. Part 1):
    You know, about a month or so ago I saw a flamingo for the first time in my life. That magnificent bird in all of its bubblegum pink splendor, standing in water with a single leg. When I have my own house I'd want one as a decoration-a live one of course. When visitors approach it asking if it's real, it would squawk(If they even do that?) and peck their eyes out. Then I'd perform necromancy to make them my undead servants. Life goals.
    Anyway, enough about that. Let's get down to it!

    I was looking over the final chapter of Frequency, and I noticed he actually used a spell similar to Gleipnir! I was surprised! Shouldn't have been, but I was nonetheless. Then though, it didn't silence Choen Palm, nor last as long. In that sense, perhaps the version he used would be the second step to it, just like with previous spells like Arrows/Spirits of Light or Broken/Shattered Wings.
    Next! Lucidity isn't an Agasuric nor Divine spell. It's Arcane. Su and TJ used it in the King's Calling, so regardless of which Frequency they're in they can use it regardless. Handy. If you've forgotten what it does, it allows them to cast without having to perform the action making for great combos.

    The part where Su got punched through the wall and Choen Palm approached TJ gave me a lion king nostalgia trip. I've nothing worthwhile to say on that lol. I suppose that it was a bit of a refreshing change to Choen Palm's usual evil cackles and berating remarks throughout the battle. A bit reminiscent of her personality earlier in Frequency too. All things considered, in the final battle she became a bit hysteric because they actually gave her a hard time, so for her to do that despite being in the middle of a fight actually made her look better as a villainess.
    An important thing to note here is that TJ didn't need to call upon the Frequency in order to release his Agasuric blood. Contrast this to the Order Frequency, and you can tell a lot about him. Quick facts? Much of the novel implies that he has Agasuric roots, including this chapter. The blood bond is part of what makes him so strong with it, but also the breaking of the seals increases the likelihood he'll enter that state without willing it-either that or on reaction. Handy! Dangerous.

    Molly is official now, btw. You heard it here folks- and also straight from the Su's mouth.

    As I wrote this chapter, I began to consider how odd it was that the main character was the team's support. I looked back and told myself how ass backwards the entire concept of it is, and as I recalled how most of TJ's fights began and ended with hit smashing things with his fists or guitar I realized perhaps it remained better off unquestioned.
    I think it serves as an interesting dynamic though. The healers don't get enough love sometimes. I could write a 300-page biography about my life as a healer in various games and how it never worked out. It would be satirical, pathetic, and somewhat amusing.
    Anyway, on the bright side I suppose due to this very fact it can escape a lot of criticisms people would have with MCs. I...can't quite recall now, but perhaps that was also one of the reasons I considered writing him as a Bard, aside from the fact he was one in game. I vaguely remember reading about complaints of power fantasies and such way back when so I became wary of them...among other things. This and that happened and we landed ourselves here today. Of course, there were a myriad of other matters I had taken into consideration because I was so adamant on making my story 'good' I got lost somewhere between that and attempting to achieve perfection. Truthfully, I think it would have been a lot easier if I had settled. Aiming high is good, but one should be wary as not to lose their way amidst the clouds. After going too far, it's hard to turn back.
    You've likely heard me say it before and I'll gladly say it again. Tropes and cliches might not be as bad as we often paint them out to me. Sometimes you'll hear people say 'it's a trope because it works' and I completely agree. The thing about them is that they're familiar-that familiarity makes them easier to understand, and at times relatable. The unknown can be intimidating, and that which we can't understand and/or make sense of even more so. I would know-I've been down that road too, so I'm not one to point fingers.
    Anyway I've uhh...gone on a tangent so I'll leave anymore of that stuff for the overview, hopefully. Back to the story!

    I think the last time I discussed anything of the sort was in one of the USSR threads-that topic being fighting styles. That time it was more focused around the three Frequencies/character specific abilities between Su and TJ.
    This time I'd like to talk about fighting styles between Peorth, TJ and Su.
    For Peorth, she's a true master with her weapon. When she has it, parries, counters and both-long/short range attacks are not out of her expertise. As I had mentioned before though, since she's a spear user those that breach the range of her spear will be able to get the advantage over her. What I didn't mention is that without her weapon, she's at her most powerless. All things considered, she's a Warlord through and through, so without the weapon there's very little she's able to do to defend herself. Since she has very few, if any spells at her disposal, she has to keep a tight grasp on her spear or have a means to reclaim it before her enemy can get it from her. It's part of the reason she worked so hard to hone her speed. If she can beat her enemy to the punch, she negates her biggest weakness, which allows her to take risks. The biggest one being Broken Wings-one of her strongest assets and a skill that respectively belongs to her. As you're aware, as far as melee classes go, Warlords have the largest range, but lack a means to get to their targets quickly. Sadly, they're not dragoons lol. Broken Wings remedies that, but also runs the risk of both putting her in danger of a block/parry/counterattack or a trap. Not for the faint of heart, or for a certain Bard.
    TJ straddles the line between the two. Since he's a caster, he's great without his weapon, but greater with it. Because of it's range and general weight it serves both as a good weapon for keeping enemies back or forcing them away. When Su is in control of him, she doesn't rely on it as heavily as he would because she doesn't specialize in heavy weapons. She prefers to fight with his fists, as she would her own(more about her later). In terms of spells, most TJ would cast through his weapon. If he's using physical skills, for example Brute Force, he can strengthen himself and increase the power he could output with his weapon. As you can see when he uses the Chaos Frequency, the spells he would cast with his weapon greatly decreases, and some skills he has to put it away to utilize them. I mean, sure he looks cool doing it but usually it ends with him getting his ass kicked in some way or another. Poor guy can't win ever. He lives to get rekt, and that's why you don't put your Bard on the front lines. I'm looking at you Samson.
    Lastly there's Su, who does both well. Technically. She's a dagger wizard but she doesn't use Dagger skills. Could learn 'em, but didn't bother. Instead she blends a variety of fighting styles depending on the scenario. She mixes her grapples to aim for assassinations or to set herself/allies up for spells. Very effective! It's one of the reasons she doesn't carry a shield-that and she broke her arm and got one of them lopped off so uhh...yeah. Won't be needing one in the near future, that's for certain lol. Anyway, unlike Peorth or TJ, whether she has her weapon or not she'll still kill you. She's got a myriad of ways to do so-death by dagger, bleeding out, broken bones, snapped neck, etc. Typically she's less likely to cast magic with her dagger in hand because it gets in the way, so when unarmed the chances of her using it to attack or as a tool to close distance rises substantially. In essence, her specialty is being a very versatile fighter. Her weakness is that she relies mostly on close range fighting, so against an opponent who's strength is that, or is especially tanky she'll have a hard time. Choen Palm straddled the line between those two things-Su got some good attacks in, but they were not as deadly or as powerful as they could've been against someone else. I suppose in that regard, if the trio was to have a good chance of defeating her there, TJ would need to dive deeper into the Chaos Frequency to output the power Su would need to deal a finishing blow. Since he only activated it, their powers were rather limited, and as such they were overpowered.

    Next! Curious about Su and the spell Zealous Creature? I'll tell you a bit about it. (This is assuming you read a majority of chapter Cool
    Since the effect is pretty clearly explained, I'll leave that out. The original use for it is actually for summoned beings-especially effective for those who need a bit of extra strength, or are great in a frenzied state. TJ for best summon 2015.
    Now why would Vanir give this to Su? As he had said, he wanted to see what she was capable of. If you read the spoiler about what Su could become in the future, then you'll have a pretty good idea of the origin of this. The two are closely linked. Moving on! The reason Julius and Rosetta were able to perform one of the spells he taught them was because Rosetta was Human. It did utilize Julius' mana yes, but it was Rosetta who gave the spells form. Thing about Humans and Cerebians, according to Vanir's explanation, is that they have different makeups, though their bodies are similar. Cerebians have one type of mana, and rely on the flow system. Humans technically do also, but be it Divine or Normal mana, they can use either-Agasuric mana tends to transform them, so the chances of them using it are low. That aside, for Cerebians upon taking the energy into the body, they refine it, and it allows them to cast much quicker. Humans store it as is in their body, so they can't hold as much as a Cerebian would by refining it, but it DOES allow for them to write runes, since the mana can be released as is. Remember that Humans in the current period in Frequency don't use mana-they use Special Power, so it's just kinda...there. But raising guild crops is still a worthwhile endeavour because of the spa/battle/mines.
    Back on topic! The reason Su can do this is because her mother is indeed Rosetta, making her a half-human. Since TJ too relies on the circuit system, it's possible for him to cast via runes but his would be more difficult because of the Frequencies at his disposal. 0/10 would not recommend.
    To give a bit of context to this situation...it's like if you were to add a sugar cube or two to your tea. If you just tossed them into your cup, it'd eventually fill up and there'd be nothing you could do about it. Add some steaming hot water and it boils it all down and evaporates it, thus you can add more sugar cubes! I wouldn't recommend that either though. It uhh...wouldn't really be tea so much as it would be some kind of poison. Really, really sweet poison. And not the good kind.
    Truth be told, a major part of the reason that Humanity has small mana pools is because of the incident that happened in the far past. Like everything else, the more they would use it the better they would become with it. Since God Ah got pissed off and smashed the crystal(This is my abridged explanation, don't take my word for it) they eventually evolved and came to rely more on SP than it, so it kinda faded out of existence, but remained a small part of them. So much so it's nearly unnoticeable.
    This is a new concept so if it's confusing and/or not making a whole lot of sense, bear with me here. Made-up science isn't even my strong suit, and I assume it's hard to screw that up.

    A bit about Valkyrie Stance-this is one I had in the works for a while. I've always considered ways to improve spells/stances, or in other words upgraded versions. I'd also thought about Peorth's capabilities and how I could bring them out further. She's great with prayers, but one of her specialties is having great control over her mana output. This was displayed back in the prologue, and also in chapter 3 I believe. Valkyrie Stance is an ongoing spell, which blesses her weapon, improving her range and changing it's attributed element. Like Zealous Creature or Radiance, it constantly drains her mana, but one of the extra effects is it changes the way some of her attacks work-put simply, changing her stance! Both literally and metaphorically.
    Truth be told the idea came to me when I was playing Oreshika lol. The lancers would strike with both hands to pierce an enemy and the one behind it if they stood on your party's front line, but if they were in the back they would strike an enemy on the front line with an underhand stab. I was in awe when I saw it the first time. And the rest of it is history they say-not that there's anything else to that story. That's it in a nutshell lol.
    Anyway, though it was just a few of them, you saw how it added extra attacks to Broken Wings and Swallowtail, attacks often used by the queen. If she uses it again, there might be a few more, and perhaps some that can only be used while the stance is active. Of course, they're not as good as the upgraded version of her stances, but they're great for mixing up an opponent and catching them off guard!

    Now a thing about TJ and his special abilities. If he's bound or his magic is sealed, he can still summon his companions or the abilities of the Sinners. The only time he can't is if he's silenced...which also technically counts as a type of magic sealing but let's not get too nitty about the gritties shall we? On the other hand...Choen Palm disabled them which is more along the lines of preventing actions, which includes casting and stances, so perhaps if that were the case Command/Manipulation would serve as a loophole. I'll consider this further, and debate whether they can be controlled by magic sealing. Perhaps the former, but less likely the latter, as it's a blood trait rather than a summoning ability.
    Also I love Su's comment when he borrowed Gula's power. He did screw it up, but it's a bit lenient in that regard. If he actually used it properly, he wouldn't have been hit, but it serves as a tank's ability and converted it into strength. Perhaps had he actually used the black hole things, he would get a better effect? I'm thinking that in that regard, he could retain it and choose what the effect would be upon reactivating the skill, or something of the sort.

    I've been thinking about the Sins and how readers could tell which one specifically the spell used would belong to. (I checked through the archives in case I discussed this but I didn't find it sooo...)Essentially, the current idea I have now is that the first sin invoked is the one which the spell belongs to. For example, when Choen Palm used Cell of Yearning, the first Sin invoked was Lust-the others served as a follow up(I'm still getting deja vu. I don't think I looked hard enough, despite checking up to page 15 of this thread. GDI!) for a greater effect. As you can see, it charmed(or seduced lol) the guild master so she could not bring herself to attack Choen Palm. If I had ANY artistic talent whatsoever, I would spam the shit out of this forum with rule 34 of that.
    Porn aside, as mentioned before, the rest are for enhancing the spell in some way or another.
    About that topic though...I swear one of these days I'll find it and curse myself for letting it slip my mind. I'll leave further details for now, but that is the gist of it.

    The last spell I'd like to talk about is Midsummer Night's Dream. Kind of a big deal. Not about what it does though, 'cause Peorth covered that. What I wanna talk about is the design of it...somewhat.
    That one is a little similar to what she had used during the prologue. Unlike then though, rather than completely exhausting her stamina and shattering her barrier, it utilizes her mana and stamina to do the same to others on the battlefield. In truth, a portion of the design is similar to that from a battle from FF14(It's no citation, but this isn't an essay. Perhaps it's not as big a deal here, but it just feels fair I suppose), but I shouldn't spoil it here so...I'll leave it at that.
    As for the effects of it, the reason Peorth specializes in such spells is because of her origins as God's Governor of Ice. Though she lost her powers, there are still things that she's able to do because of it, and this is one of those things. Technically it's a spell, but not one limited to Mages or even the God's Governor. The reason it has this effect is because of the element. There was a great quote I thought of about water and ice, but I can't call it to mind now. The gist of it though was built around the idea of rain and snow-how one would flow and the other was more like a moment in time...or something of the sort. I might look into that, cause I have an idea of where to find it to quote it properly, but not right now. This has gone on longer than I intended lol.

    Last thing I wanted to say? The way that Choen Palm teleports is EXACTLY like it is in the game. I looked up a video to confirm this lol. It was like 2x the speed so it was rough.

    With that, I've said my piece on this piece. So I'm out for now! Peace!
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    TJ

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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Tue Jan 05, 2016 3:51 pm

    It's 2016 and I'm here...now. The fact that I'm here means I lived through another year. Shocking truth?
    The Fourth Option? Join Smash (Ch 8. Part 2):
    Say what you will, but my body is ready for Waifu Emblem. FIGHT ME ABOUT IT.
    But that's not here nor there so...let's get down to it?

    Where this continues from is pretty self-explanatory, but it also covers a lot of what wasn't explained in Frequency. Don't forget! In Chapter 1 TJ mentioned that it would take an Agasura to kill an Agasura. As you can see, this proves to be the case for most of them, but his case is a little unique in that regard. The aura he emits prevents anything that isn't Agasuric in nature(yes that includes weapons) from harming or even getting near him. Beings that approach are forced back and wounded in the process. It's not just a state he enters to restore mana-it also acts as a final defense in case his life is actually in danger. In the process, the chances that Adonis can take over are much higher.
    Unlike in the City of Iron, they don't have any Valkyrie weapons to forcefully pull him from within the Heart of Yggdrasil, so he can't take over like he did then. That, and there weren't any particular triggers that could have a similar effect. As Peorth said though, if all the seals were to break nothing would stand in his way so he could easily manifest. In the process, at least as TJ is now, he wouldn't be able to overpower him by any stretch of the imagination. For that to happen...well, chances are he would cease to be in his entirety cause he's...you know.
    As for how the seals came undone?
    1)The duel against Su
    2)The battle in CoI
    3)The aftermath of Kimara
    His seals were replaced by Iris(the ghost of Iris, or something?) in the memory TJ saw during the Elfa arc of Frequency. So them coming undone all took place during Frequency, and those are the times it happened.

    A bit about the Povs...I took a page from USSR. I had mixed feelings about it, and I'm reluctant to use them too frequently, but I'll try to do it as I see necessary. Just as it was with Su, if TJ is unconscious or not himself, the story will follow the perspective of one of the other characters. I can't tell you any further situations, but the occasion will certainly come. Then again, I suppose that could be considered obvious, but you'll definitely be surprised by future events!
    As for Peorth's case, she and Samson are very similar. Most of their monologues are internal, and they won't likely say half the things that they think. Vanir really nailed that one with his one-liner about her lol. Still, unlike him she often relies on the events of the past and her memories to judge how she should go forward. Here you get a glimpse at her character you wouldn't normally see-the calm and collected guild master actually has quite a lot going on, but she doesn't voice those concerns. Truthfully, imagining her like that was a little difficult even for me because the story typically follows TJ's perspective and he admires her and how stalwart she is. But even he realizes sometimes she has concerns just like everyone else-unlike most characters, they go unvoiced so it gives the illusion that most things don't bother her or faze her at all. One of the traits I rather enjoy about her character-sadly, one that can also make her easy to dislike. Different strokes different folks?
    Nevertheless, through Memorius Sanctum, she can see the things TJ can't. That being a chronicle of his memories, and those that are to come. Whether they're guaranteed or not, I won't say but it's something she can do nonetheless. Contrast this with Vanir who has a similar ability for himself-she is aware of it and exactly who he is. I can't say too much about it, but they're acquainted lol. I'll talk a bit more about his side of things shortly. Back on topic, Peorth has incredible memory-with or without the tome, she can recall events from many years ago with relative ease, right down to the conversations that had occurred at the time. It's one of her strong suits, and something she depends heavily on as Yggdrasil's leader and Asgard's queen.
    As for mana sensory, that makes a return from Frequency. Originally it was only used to see mana-an ability for those who did not know how to use it themselves. Back then she used it on TJ to help him grasp the use of his Divine spells, but those who have mastered it can see a lot more-seals and such, magic circles and places with great mana concentrations.

    Remember how Su mentioned there was a giant tree inside of TJ before? That's the place. The reason she didn't respond to him was that despite her being there, he was unconscious so she was put into a similar state. Hence why she vanishes when he loses consciousness. She becomes a lot like the others-they're there, but as they are there, that's how they'll remain. A little on the strange side huh?
    On to the next matter! The reason Adonis isn't up there is because unlike the others, he wasn't integrated. He still has some semblance of freedom, as does that busty beauty that got trapped down there lol. You could probably hazard a guess at her identity. Anyway! The reason that Adonis shares TJ's appearance is that...actually, that might be an error in the plot, to be honest. I can't quite tell you the details of it yet, but at the time he shouldn't have had that appearance. It's...a bit of a moot point because I haven't completely decided on how that part of the plot will play out, so it's still up in the air, but as it stands I still have to work out the kinks. What I had planned for it was supposed to happen near the end, but all things considered I can work it out. As for the other...to hell with it, we all know it's Luxuria lol. Avarita and Gula couldn't make it any less obvious with the way they speak so...yeah, that's her as she was during the Agasuric War. I mean, she wasn't naked but she was...like that. Looked like that. That's her. As for why she and TJ are interchangeable? I can't tell you that, but you can hazard a guess! The answer was hinted at, but I won't give it away.

    Now on to Vanir! He is EXACTLY like he is in every other novel. USSR, Another, doesn't matter. Same guy. He's a little more affectionate in Another for various reasons-here he's a lot more stubborn and rude. His internal monologues remain, and they're just as vile as they are in the others. Unlike Peorth, he's nowhere near as reserved, especially about his thoughts. So much so he occasionally says exactly what he's thinking at the time.
    The part where the ley lines start coming undone and Lucia gets on his case was a little similar to a group of girls from one of my classes. Among them, there's one that seems to be the voice of reason. Half the time the rest are noisy and saying or doing troublesome things, and she usually comes in with a phrase like, "Enough already". It's magical.
    I have to admit, the thing I love about these two is the way are with each other. Both of them often act like they're in it for their own gain, and though it's partially true, neither would actually jeopardize the others for it. In the end, they wind up going at it at bad times, but in the end they do what they would've done anyway. You can especially see this with Vanir because of how he mentions that he knows how the situation will play out, but due to his own stubbornness he follows the path that he's chosen. As for the reason, I'll spoiler tag it since Another was...in essence a spoiler fest.
    It's like a visual novel gone wrong:
    As the story mentioned, every entry in the journal he carries are the Vanirs/Heinrichters of other dimensions. Every choice, every failure, and every death or success leads to a series of branching paths. It's not just what happens to him that changes his fate, but what happens to TJ, Peorth, just about anyone he considers of importance in the battle against Asmodeus. Hence why unlike Peorth, he's very meticulous about the particulars of the actions he takes throughout his journey. It's hard to imagine, but the Vanir of Sanctuary is just one of those many, along with every other character. Whether the end will be a success for him or not is up for interpretation, but you can assume that his actions stem from experience. This also plays a bit on his character-certain events he considers checkpoints or events that could have a great impact on the future events that will come.
    Could you imagine reading through a biography of events in your other lives and how they ended? The ability to change his fate is one that made him a jaded man, but one of the great things about his character is that it rarely, if ever actually shows. There was a glimpse of it in USSR, two maybe, but it typically only does when Kana comes to mind. In that vein, Lucia shares some characteristics with her. That's gotta sting something fierce!
    One of the things I love about writing him, is amidst all the rude remarks, toxic inner monologues and vague references, there are little bits of foreshadowing hidden within. He knows what's to come, and more often than not he treats it more as a pain in the ass than a life-changing event. I remember when I initially started planning his character I wanted to do it in a sorta Wreck-it-Ralph style, you know? He's a bad guy, but he's not a bad guy. He's almost a magnificent bastard, but mostly asshole. He makes a sharp contrast to most of the cast, and it helps him to stand out, especially in comparison to his student. The two are polar opposites, and they make for a great comedic duo.

    As for the Vampanelar sisters, though they're not quite cut out for battle anymore they still have some capability. It's just that they, like the Cerebians are hidden in plain sight. Since they're not adventurers they can't use an adventurer's skills, so the weapons wouldn't offer them much. They could use their powers, but like the selki it runs the risk of causing them to return to their Agasuric nature. During the battle though, rather than fighting alongside the others they were evacuating the citizens. The closest thing the city has to a guard is the royal guard, and they too would be doing that and helping the wounded, while also protecting Hejong and Herne. No rest for them either, but that's just the flip side of the coin. Not the biggest point of interest lol.

    I have to say, to the day I regret calling Amu a pharmacist in Frequency. Just thinking about it makes me shudder. God my vocabulary was so weak...still is. Hard times.

    I've gotta admit, one of my favourite things about Vanir is the way he perceives Peorth. He treats her like she'll tear his head off at any moment over the littlest things. They've got a past, but she's nowhere near as bad as he makes her out to be. Not that that isn't obvious since she's a part of the main cast.
    Anyway, the part about the inner workings of their body is actually from the documents Samson picked up during the raid on the Dark Moon. He couldn't read them, but Salem was one of the few who could and translated it. So you can bet that Bastion(the top dogs and guild master) and Vanir are aware of what it means and what kind of impact it has on them. They stay in touch. You know how Reina is lol. She's pretty meticulous about her mail.

    That part near the end before it moves into the next scene? What he said to Skuld was actually something I did. A while back when I was playing FF14 I joined a dungeon and our tank quit 'cause I'm a people repellent. Happens all the time. So there was this dick in our free company who asked if anyone wanted to run the dungeon I was doing(he asked before I signed up for it), so I was like "meeeee." Dude straight up ignored me. Anyway, we got a replacement tank and I thought it was the dude from my FC so I figured he was actually a nice guy. So I said "come here and let me love you, you wonderful creature!" and he was like "?". Then I realized it was the wrong guy. Moral of the story? Homeboy's still a total dick.
    Just an FYI, if you're wondering why Vanir calls God Ah a dick, he's got a bad rep with a lot of different gods. God Ah is just one of them. Is that proof he exists? I dunno~

    One thing that I liked about this was it gave me a chance to further develop the Vampanelar sisters. Since their introduction, they've only gotten a little bit of character growth, since they're side characters, for the most part. Even though it's just a little bit, I want even the side characters to have some depth to them outside of their base character archetype. I typically don't have a specific archetype in mind when I create them, but there likely is one that they fit under. Most are recurring characters, so if they do come again, fleshing them out a bit is definitely a worthwhile endeavour. That, and it shows how certain character traits rub off on others, and how they adopt new traits and actions. Sanc is a mostly character driven story, so who does what and when is typically of great importance. Vanir is a testament to that fact. That aside, his plan is wild and we'll see how it plays out in Chapter 9!
    If you're curious about the mental remark he made about Reina...well, let's just say she joined the dark side lol. No qualms here though!

    Last comments for the night?
    Mm...that memory...it in itself is not of great importance, but the time and the place could be considered that way. I'd love to do more with the Big Apple. I'm sure I will in the future.
    As for those two...TJ and Peorth, still no sexy time happening. But who wouldn't wanna straddle their guild master, amirite? Life goals. Choices. Possibilities!

    That's all I have to say today. I think I've expended all of my brain power so I'm gonna do other stuff.
    As for next time? The review! Overview! Potentially big announcement? Maybe...you might've already guessed it. But soon...yes, soon. More details soon. More suffering. My life. Also chapter 9 is storyboarded and currently underway. More fluff. Mor...of what I've been doing? End rant, yes. Until then!
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sat Jan 09, 2016 2:33 pm

    Beloved of the Sun Overview:
    I was gonna say I can't be bothered and put it off longer but...I have my reasons.

    About Peorth and Freya:
    These two are polar opposites in a sense. For various reasons-which I can actually talk about for once!
    The major differences lay in their personalities, for the most part. Freya may be the older of the two, but after what she had gone through she had stopped changing. Her actions give her more of a young vibe, which isn't entirely off the mark for her. Her body grows accordingly with Kooh's, so she technically ages physically, but mentally not so much. In that regard, time stopped for her in those final moments where Peorth became God's Governor of Ice and Water. The facets of her personality, in that regard are nowhere near as developed as Peorth's, and that was intentional due to that very fact. She lacks the knowledge, the experiences, and the memories Peorth and the others developed over the span of 20+ years since her demise, and everything following the fall of Asgard.
    Skills wise, she shares Kooh's memories, or at the very least the schemas Kooh formed in terms of battle, and can utilize those to fight. In that sense, she can fight like Kooh can, not so much with ice spells, but the water spells she read about or learned during her lifetime she can do with ease. Her ability to become a God's Governor is unique to her and not to Kooh, though. If you've read USSR, you can probably recall that there was a time where Su recalled Julius' words, that when she needed her power most she would awaken as God's Governor. In essence, what makes a God's Governor awaken like that is an emotional trigger. Amata, Su, and Freya had gone through it, and thus were able to perform it. I can't tell you Amata's story yet, but you'll hear how all God's Governors had experienced it later on. Anyway, unlike Kooh the battle against Choen Palm acted as a trigger for Freya, but in spite of it all she had control unlike the others.
    I suppose you could say that it depends on the Cerebian-intelligence, wisdom, and the will to protect are things that can all affect a caster's strength in terms of them. Freya has her heart set on doing just that, and that fervor of hers served as the trigger she needed to tap into those powers. To do it again, though, will require a lot of training. Amata's case is like that-but Peorth doesn't know about that.

    Peorth's case is very different, in terms of development. She had been around to see everything from beginning to end. Her character had gone from a happy-go-lucky princess to a cool beauty in the span of those years. She'd seen radical changes just like Samson had during the years since Kasumi's disappearance. They'd both had it pretty rough-sometimes I don't even realize how grimdark this story can be lol.
    Though I have to admit, Peorth is a really strong character in spite of everything. There'd been a lot lost in all of those years and she carries the ghosts of her friends and subjects alike with her, yet still goes on. Something not often touched upon. It's part of how she developed her protective personality. That very thing, is the sharp contrast between the sisters. In those years Peorth had become more like a queen, motherly and strong-willed, while Freya can be a bit more happy-go-lucky and whimsical. This fact shows through their abilities, their way to tap into them and how they utilize them.

    Freya won't likely be as well developed as the rest of the cast, but I do plan on having her see some continued growth going forward. Her character is difficult to work with because of the circumstances she's in. She and Kooh can't be about at the same time, like TJ and Adonis, but thanks to Garfitua's Hourglass I can work around that. It won't be too frequent because it'd be...strange, no? Even within the story, that still is Kooh's body. I gotta admit though, I do feel a bit guilty when I think about it, but for that reason(and because it'd be bad of me not to resolve it) I plan to properly resolve her story. Alas, there are some things that can't change, even in Frequency. Like Amata said, not even the Abellan can bring back the dead, but the dead can still find some semblance of peace. A cause worth fighting for, I believe.

    Povs and Conflicting Ideals:
    In truth, writing in different PoVs makes things a lot simpler for me. Always has, but it can easily become a point of contingency. On one hand, for readers it can clear up a lot of questions, give deeper insights into a character and their motivations. Sometimes it can save the need for exposition...or serve as a reason for it. It varies. The most difficult thing about it is that it can raise questions that might not seen answers-they may be small, but sometimes people have an eye for that and can latch on to that very fact.
    On one hand, an author could take the time to answer every question, tie every loose thread and leave no stone unturned. But it raises the question, is that what people really want? The answer could be a simple yes, but that doesn't make it right per se. Try and imagine that kind of scenario. It would take time-a lot of time. Often times, the longer it takes to get to the meat of a scenario, the less people will care about it. When writing, adapting, whatever, you have to make tough choices to meet the situation, to gauge interest and to go forward knowing that what you did could hold the reader's interest. That, is one of the biggest challenges of any author. Ask yourself, how do you hook your reader?

    I'm no professional, so don't let my word be the be-all-end-all. It's just one of the things I've read about, and considered as I wrote Sanc, Inno, and USSR. Let me use Sanc as an example-when I wrote it the first time, I wrote 'A Moment in Time' first. The beginning-the actual beginning, was kinda...dull, in comparison. The prologue was a short inner monologue by TJ, and what followed it was...well him waking up, not in the hospital but Peorth's apartment, IIRC. Not the most exciting start. To some, a character waxing poetry could act as a hook, but this varies from person to person. Of course, you have to keep the demographic in mind also. What kind of person would be reading the book? Would this appeal to that kind? In the same vein, what does that tell about the book?
    Sometime back in 2013 I think I read a post that said that the first impression is everything. That goes for books, movies, TV shows, everything. Often times if the first chapter, episode, sometimes even page doesn't hook the viewer, they could leave it be. To draw interest in the first go is no small feat-I learned that the hard way. It shows with Frequency too. The beginning lacked any real conflict-it had a slow start, and eventually ramped up later on. More often than not, you won't have that kind of time.

    I've constantly asked myself, "How could I make TJ interesting? What are good character traits for him? How should he develop?" It was part of how the original beginning came to be what it was, but even then it wasn't up to par(Still isn't, but that's just my personal gripe). A friend once told me that if the first chapter isn't interesting, chances are they won't read the rest. I'd agonized over that fact for years to get where I was today lol. It's also what lead to the beginning that Sanc has now.
    Even after I wrote it, I asked myself, "Why would I begin the story with the ending?" and the answer was that it would serve as the hook. In doing so, was both a brilliant and extremely risky tactic. I wasn't the first to do it of course, and I've asked the same for my predecessors, but I can only speculate on those. The thing about Frequency as a whole, is it serves as a battle-fantasy kind of story. Since the prologue predates it, the placement can seem kind of odd, but there were quite a few reasons I chose to do this nonetheless.
    The first: Of course, because it serves as a good hook. Prologues are typically a lot shorter-they might actually be a point in the book, somewhere usually in the middle that could serve as a point of interest. Makes you wanna know what happens there and when, but doesn't give enough context to solve the dilemma.
    The second: Foreshadowing. In Frequency it was hinted that TJ has a sort of ability within his eye-contrast that with Vanir who has one in his opposite eye. At the time, it allowed TJ to meet Su in the place where he met Peorth. At the gate where she had met him for the first time, and where he initially came to their world. This time around, it was not there, but an actual moment in time. In his possible future, and from there it continued with the beginning of the story. It didn't display the battle much, but if you're familiar with this type of story, it gives you a taste of what's to come. It draws a conclusion, but not enough to say what the true motives of the characters are. Given the history of the two, you form your own speculations, conclusions, and going forward you tie the loose story threads together to reach the end result.
    The Third: It gives the characters agency. I've always asked myself, what is the cause that they fight for? Some want to save the world. Others to protect their friends. Some just want revenge for what was taken from them. It helps to have a 'big bad' in a story. It's a staple we've had since time immemorial. At times, that can be utilized to build expectation, and then you bring out the big twist. Those who may have started the series and stuck with it to the very end will be glad that they did for the big payoff that others would miss out on if they chose not to.

    I did go a little off-topic, so let's get back on to it. In TJ's case, the story usually follows him. As far as a character goes, he can be rough around the edges. He started off rather prickly, edgy, and vicious. As the story developed he became a bit more bearable, but he still contained some of that rashness and indecisiveness he had early on. As the end of Freq rolled around, he had changed dramatically, but he was nowhere near perfect. Now in Sanc he's seeing a variety of new changes-his identity isn't set in stone as of yet, and more often than not he has conflicting feelings about it. But rather than taking out his misplaced anger and confusion on his comrades, he mulls it over and puts a strong front...which isn't something I recommend, but he's a character in a novel so he'll do what he will.
    Of late, I've asked myself whether his constant conflict about being an Agasura was mentioned too often or felt overbearing. Perhaps some would feel that way, and my own experiences would make me feel that's exactly the case. I could be wrong-I hope that I am. If I was to put myself in his shoes, I wonder what it would be like. If it was something more normal, for example like something that could exist in our world, perhaps it would manifest itself as a disability, physical or mental, or perhaps even as a conflict due to race. It may seem excessive in the context of the story, but if we were to go through such a thing, we would likely feel the same way. Things like those, are often things that never change. You have to live with it, every single day of your life, and it serves as a constant reminder of your identity. It's part of who you are, for better or worse, and if it creates a bad situation it can be tough to deal with.
    That might matter little to some, though. He might just come off as whiny and obnoxious. I wouldn't blame anyone for feeling that way. But just as it was with Frequency, it won't always remain that way. There's a semblance of a budding courage within him, and as the story progresses, new characters come and go, and they change...he changes with them. It's part of the reason I have him the way he is. His growth isn't only tied to gathering the Heart of Yggdrasil's shards-it's also his realizations, his companions and his skills and knowledge. Physically he hasn't changed, but by the time he undergoes the second step, he'll have changed dramatically mentally, and it'll fit the bill by that point. He'll truly feel like he'll grow into the hero that he was meant to be by that point.

    Compare and contrast TJ's case with Vanir. Like Su and Samson, for one their journey is still in its earliest stages, and for the other it's already ended. There isn't as much room for Vanir to change now. He is who he is, he's reached the peak of maturity and his ideals are set in stone, hence why he follows the path that he does. In that same vein, his story has bits and pieces that the readers might not come to understand to the fullest extent during Frequency. They could be loose ends that will be tied up sooner or later, but you won't have the same affection for the characters involved, or the desire to know what had happened and when, or why. Kana is mentioned, vaguely, but in Frequency you may find yourself asking who is she and why should you care?
    Another friend of mine once said a reader grows with the character. A lot of people in my generation grew up with Harry Potter, or Star Wars or what have you. Me? Nope. I didn't read Harry Potter until I got into high school, and I've only seen Star Wars episode 3(It's true. COME AT ME). Even so, I love those kinds of stories, especially in games. In a long running series, when you see those familiar faces return you feel a bit of joy and nostalgia. It makes you glad you'd been around when it started. In truth, I'd never thought Frequency would become that kind of story, but it has.
    What started as a pet project 6 years ago has turned into my longest-running series. Just as I have, TJ has grown and changed over the years. He's made new friends and met with old ones, and those who have been following it since then may have developed an affinity with some of the characters within the story. The world as he sees it is ever-changing, and as he grows he becomes a part of it, and a different person to many people. This, is a part of the reason the story often focuses on his perspective, aside from being the main character. He can be relatable to readers in a myriad of ways, and also be that way to the characters within the novel. Once they've developed, if you see things through their eyes, you'll see how the experiences throughout changed them, and you'll come to enjoy them a lot more. Old rivals can become friends, villains can turn over a new leaf and strive to change, and old friends can become lovers. How it all develops, there may be something for everyone.

    A small part of me wants to yammer on about how TJ too, changed from an anti-hero to hero but that's a story for another time. Also something that's been done before(FFIV anyone?). Anyway, this is why I spent so much time ranting on about persona, and why you'll hear me and my trashy biased opinions about games and books I've read lately. It might not seem important, but my experiences have had an impact on me too, and in that respect affected my writing dramatically. I love the things I love dearly. I may only mention them in passing or as a one-off joke, but I do so because they're a part of who I am.

    SOL and Frequency Part 2:
    Back in USSR I talked about one of Frequency's faults-that being the pacing at which the story moved. Another time I talked about striking a balance between a constantly moving story, and one that takes the time to develop it's characters. Both through here, and my writing I've shown how that can vary, and opinions on it can vary too. Again, meeting everyone's ideals is a lofty goal and probably shouldn't be attempted it. If I'd had a specific demographic, I suppose I would aim for that, but since there's a certain measure of freedom, I want to do all that I can. Originally this was more of a testing grounds, and at times still can be, but I'm working to shape it up into a proper story...or at the very least, as close as I can get to that.

    So what does slice of life have to do with this? Of course, it's not the only times I develop the characters. In battle, the way they fight, their actions and the end result are telling facets of their personalities. I'm not here to talk about that though.
    You might find yourself asking, what are characters like out of battle? How do they spend their free time? What do they like and dislike? When you see them doing normal things, maybe sitting down for tea time or taking a chance to read a book, they feel a bit more human. They become relatable, and in that sense a little more normal. In theory, it might not seem interesting, but the more we know about the character the more interesting they can become to us. It might solve little mysteries we might see in them and give room to headcanons of our own. As we all know, we live in an age where fanfictions and such things are about as everyday as everything else. It brings out the inner creativity of everyone, and sometimes being able to see all sides of a character can give someone the inspiration they may have not found before.
    This is something I wanted to explore a bit in the chapter, and I did. We all know what the Vampanelar sisters and Vanir do, and we got a glimpse of Amu at work during Sister. It serves as a reminder that those characters were not forgotten, and often times may still have a part to play in an ongoing story. Reina and Samson were mentioned in passing, and this both serves as foreshadowing and a reminder that they too, are a part of the universe despite having their own spin-offs(I honestly always wondered what it would be like to have multiple MCs in the same place. Like what would they talk about? "Hey there MC, nice plot armour you got there!" Reina lost her plot armour after Inno so...uhh...she can totally rip. Just an FYI, according to Vanir.). She's one I especially enjoyed doing, because she and Salem had seen dramatic changes over the span of Inno. There were brief glimpses through her letters to Samson, and the pictures she sent them of everyone in costume. At the same time, though she's not always in battle it shows that she's continued her work as a guild master through Peorth's dialogue. USSR showed that she and her mother once acted as the Cerebian's record keepers, and in Sanc there's proof that she's taken up that role again in the wake of Hazel. If the story had pressed on, that would likely take a backseat in comparison to everything else going on.

    Of course, what we consider to be slice of life can vary. The girls and Vanir gathering could be considered both that, or a major plot point. It's true that they were just sitting at a table talking, but the location, the atmosphere and the characters gathered can change the way such an event can feel dramatically. If it was in the guild room, it certainly would have a much greater impact, but they were just at a kitchen table. A little cute really, but the meeting was still important. It reminds me a bit of USSR's end, but I promise there will be more serious moments to come, and humour intersped throughout.
    Truth be told, perhaps writing a serious story isn't completely out of my league, but I don't think I have it in me. I love this cast because of the way that they handle serious matters-more often than not, not seriously at all. It has a charm of its own. When it comes to light-hearted things, they can make the simplest matters look like an epic struggle, and it makes those experiences feel more and more unique. It shapes those who are a part of it, and gives them traits that stand out.

    That said, there will be more SoL moments going forward. It might not be welcomed with open arms, but sooner or later, we might come to appreciate those times. As TJ had realized in Frequency, they're something that are meant to be treasured, cause those moments can slip through the character's fingers in the blink of an eye. If you know my writing, you know what to expect. Until then though, I'm gonna keep working on it and building my characters both in and out of the action. If each becomes beloved by even one person, I know it was worth the effort.

    The Big Secret:
    Like I said before, you've probably guessed it already, but I'm gonna be starting up a new project this year. Technically...new. New-ish? Anyway, as Sanc foreshadowed, Innocent will be continued(and the previous written portions re-written when I go around for the good copy) to conclude Reina's initial story and fill in the gap of Samson's ten-year journey. I'll bring it over here, from the beginning up until where I left off since it bombed over on the blog anyway, unless I did that already? I dunno.
    But anyway, it's been a solid 2 years, nearly 3 since I began the project and flopped around with it like a fish out of water, but I feel that I'm ready to continue it now. There are still some unresolved feelings and dilemmas that remained unresolved since then but there will always be things that we can't change. This though...I can. I have the power to, and if good things can come from it, then I'm not averse to giving it a second whirl. There will be conflict about it, I expect, so I'll do my best to look past it and go forward as I had with USSR.
    Again, it won't be easy by any stretch of the imagination, and I'm sure there'll be low periods as I write it, but I'll do my best nonetheless. Unlike with USSR though, this'll serve as a small side project. I want to continue Sanc alongside it, so I'll do my writing of Inno in between classes, and continue Sanc while I'm at home when I can make the time to do it. I'm gonna have to juggle these on top of my schoolwork, so bear with me here. As expected, the updates will be irregular but I'll work as best as I can, for as long as I can.

    A less important thought in that regard, is I'd like to cover some of the portions included in USSR-Reina writing the mails, the GMA events in Elias and the participation of the Madelaine's crew. And yes, that includes the battle at the Dark Moon and the party before-hand, this time in either Reina or Salem's PoV. I felt pretty good about doing Alessa and Virgil's in USSR. It gave a lot of perspective to the other side of the Xenym incident. But anyway, that's all I have to say about that for now. Storyboards soon? Perhaps!

    Headcanons? Oh yes.:
    Lately I've really gotten into the idea of recycling some old ideas to bring new life to them. For one, I'd like to put some more use into the summoning system introduced in Frequency, but later on probably. Of all people, TJ would be the most likely to use it. I think I discussed this before? Maybe? But anyway, perhaps later on, maybe after he obtains the Metamorphosis ability he could learn to summon a few of the Ascended Cerebians.
    I'd LOVE to do a Bastion-style pantheon. Of course, those from it wouldn't be as prominent as other characters within Freq, like God Ah's family and such, but to have a group of those who had ascended be able to be summoned would be really, really cool. Right now I don't have any particular concepts for them, other than The Warden I suppose, but having a few of them that could be called upon like the summoners from Vanir's world would be nice. It might be a good way to shake up the formula, and also help TJ take a step forward in becoming a stronger force on the battlefield. If there were any others that could...perhaps Peorth and Kooh. Less so the former than the latter?

    I've thought about characters having pets. I mean, so far there are very few save for Skuld, but she's a special case. In truth, the idea of writing it sounds like a pain. So I'm kinda reluctant in that regard. It's a commitment I'm not quite ready to make, so that might remain as a headcanon. We'll see how that one shakes out later.

    I've been debating on potential dungeons where Kooh and Freya could be allowed in the same place, at the same time. The God's Governors Undine and Dione were always together-not...literally? I mean, they fought side by side. In that regard, Kooh and Freya as the respective Governors should have to overcome their trials as a duo. I know of one place where it would definitely make sense, perhaps two, but I'm unsure of how big the radius should be, what the limitations would be, and how it would work out. It's still something I have to work out, but I'll put a lot of thought into it. The end result might turn out to be simpler than the consideration I would have suspected warranted it lol.

    Sanc Going Forward:
    What can you expect? Well...Chapter 9 obviously. The guild union will be introduced, and we're gonna move into the next major arc. I can't tell you what it's about, but it's gonna happen! New dungeon! Technically! New and old allies! Hell yeah! New...place? I can actually guarantee it this time around. God forbid that I be allowed to design any more places in the world. Well, can't be helped. It's happening. Eventually.
    Things are gonna slow down a bit since the holidays are just about over...which means I have to get back to my barely-existent life. The horror. But them's the breaks, I suppose. Gotta do things...have a future, you know the score. So much effort...so little willpower.

    Unrelated Rant?(Complaints, mostly):
    I've played a butt-load of Stella Glow. I love it, and the company went bankrupt. The familiar and salty taste of my tears in almost comforting at this juncture. I also finished reading Welcome to Nightvale-book 2 when? My favourite characters were Erika, Erika, and Erika. Of the three, Erika was the best Erika, hands down. Still definitely not angels. Dana was the runner-up(not enough dirt-eating, but I love her anyway).
    What else? Well I worked hard. For once. Got Chapter 8 done surprisingly quickly, but now it's back to my usual slow pace. I really, really don't wanna attend classes. I don't wanna do a lot of things, but then I wind up doing them anyway. Starting out is always the hardest part.

    Still...Winter is a pretty rough time. I feel so tired these days, and I wind up sleeping a lot more. I really do wonder if it's like this every year, or if I'm like this year round and just forget. There's so much I forgot, and doing it again is a real pain. But if the cause was worthy, I wonder if it'd be for the best?

    Leaving my musings aside, I've gone back to reading DanMachi. Love that series. Went to the bookstore and couldn't find Kizumonogatari anywhere. This is what I get for being late to the party. Now it's not a matter of when but where. The struggle...my books...jeebus. I can't deal. Also I thought I was buying Vol 3 of Kagerou Daze(novel) and I bought the manga. I'm sooooo butthurt. One would think I'd flip it open and check but nooooo.
    Also I realized something important. Humans become more withstandable when you add cat-like features to them. Whoever's idea it was, deserves a medal. Makes me miss FF14. Speaking of, next month! EVERYTHING'S HAPPENING. So many games...and smash...god I'm gonna become trash all over again. If I suddenly disappear at the end of the month and don't return either I'm dead or I'm trash. Either or, I won't be here/writing so you've been fore-warned!

    So I've said all I need to say and completely burnt myself out. Time for work! Go me!
    That said, until next time!
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sun Jan 10, 2016 8:31 pm

    People wanted Winter and their wish was heard loud and clear.

    In other words, I'm going on hiatus so I can fuck off to somewhere where people don't need to acknowledge my existence. The end.
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Tue Jan 26, 2016 3:19 pm

    You know, I didn't have much intention to come back. I still don't, but I'm here for now...just don't get the wrong idea. I'm not here because I want to be I have my reasons.

    Ch. 9 (Pages 354-365):
    The Ninth Harmony: Water Lily
    “Perhaps it’s all the light we can’t see that means the world to us. But it doesn’t take someone with 20/20 vision to see a love deeper than that of the oceans’ depths.” (Reina Falk)

    TJ slowly opened his eyes and gently rubbed them. It still felt hard to believe, but he was at home and safe after an encounter with Choen Palm. He arose from his position and looked at his hands. He curled his fingers and clenched his fists somewhat in disbelief, and somewhat to assure himself it were true. They survived…they all did. He let out a gentle sigh of relief as he wrapped his arms around his torso. He could not thank Peorth enough for all that she had done for him-if it was not for her he may have not escaped that battle.
    He climbed out of bed and made his way to the washroom to prepare for the day. As he looked into the mirror he noticed he was dressed in pajamas, but could not recall the time he spent changing into them. Perhaps he was half awake when he had done it? He set the matter aside for the time being as he splashed some water in his face to wake up.
    After a nice bath he changed into his usual clothes and made his way downstairs. The sound of a knife against a cutting board drew his attention. If anyone was to be up this early, it would likely be Peorth, but Curt was also a possibility.
    As he made his way down he leaned over the banister and saw a sight that threw him off completely. There was a life-sized brownie at the counter cutting something. He blinked, rubbed his eyes, checked his forehead for a fever and looked again. She was still there.
    …Was he dreaming? If so, then perhaps he could enjoy it to the fullest. He placed his hands to his cheeks as a wide smile spread from cheek to cheek. He spread his wings and leapt over the banister, then used them to shoot towards the counter, latch on and nuzzle her.
    “A brownie!” He shouted with unbridled jubilation. “My own real live brownie!”
    Something felt off, so he stopped. The smell of honey drew his attention. The silky feel of her hair, the icy blue colour and the smooth feeling of her cheeks that were soft to the touch…
    “It is dangerous to use knives in the presence of another,” The brownie said, “I have placed it down now, so you may continue at your leisure…nyo.” That voice and old fashioned way of speaking!
    “Ch-Chief!” TJ cried out as he leapt off of her. “S-s-sorry!”
    She turned to him with flushed cheeks. “You need not apologize TJ. It is true you startled me, but you did not bother me at all.”
    “Really?” He looked up at her apologetically.
    “Yes.”
    He nodded slightly, but his head remained lowered. She had likely been looking after him since yesterday. Whenever he got into some kind of trouble she was always there to take care of him. He thought of thanking her, but just saying it did not feel like it would convey the feelings he held within his chest. Whenever she was happy, they would hug, right? Perhaps that way he could express his thanks. But…it was really embarrassing to do it face-to-face.
    “Chief would you…turn around for a little bit?”
    She tilted her head quizzically. “If it is what you wish than I shall oblige.” At that she turned around without another word.
    He took a deep breath and a couple steps forward. He wrapped his arms around her waist and pressed his cheek to her back. “Chief…umm…thanks for looking after me…when I was…you know…” He muttered.
    A small breath like a chuckle escaped her lips and his embarrassment increased tenfold. His cheeks felt hot and he instinctively held her tighter. She placed a hand to her mouth as a couple quiet chuckles escaped her lips.
    She…laughed? That was a rare thing…but what timing! He felt his embarrassment abate somewhat as a small smile spread across his face. As his fingers slid away from each other she began to laugh more and he began to see a connection.
    “T-TJ hold a moment-I am very…” Her quiet chuckles turned to outright laughter as he tickled her. “TJ hold-I cannot…!” She turned to look at him and knocked him over with her arm, causing both to fall to the ground.
    He rubbed his back as he laughed guiltily. “S-sorry Chief…I kinda got caught in the moment.”
    The guild master lifted her head up to meet his as her hat fell off. She was lying on the ground too with her torso resting between his legs and her head resting against his stomach. She had tears in both her eyes. “TJ, it is not appropriate to tease your elders through such a means.”
    He opened his mouth to speak but no words came out. His heart started beating rapidly and his cheeks flushed as he groped around for the words he wanted, but drew a blank. There was one thought that did come clearly though-that she had a really cute side.

    Peorth finished preparing breakfast and had changed into a pair of grey shorts and a light blue tank top. In comparison to her usual outfit, it would be a lot easier to move in. TJ could not help but wonder what the occasion was so he decided he would ask her about it while they ate.
    “TJ, would you lay out the tableware for me?” She asked over her shoulder.
    “Sure Chief.” He answered as he got up and took the plates, forks and knives to the table.
    As he did he looked around the room and noticed Curt was nowhere to be found. “Where’d Curt go?”
    “He said he had some business to do so he would be leaving early. He also wished for me to give you his regards.”
    “O-oh.” The Abellan knit his eyebrows. Was he really alright to move after the dungeon? He seemed pretty beat up, but if he could get out on his own and Peorth saw him off, he must have been fine. Probably.
    Peorth joined TJ at the table and the two began to eat.
    “TJ, there is something of import I would like to discuss with you.” She began as she placed her fork down.
    “Hm? Go ahead.” He said with a mouthful. He took the fork out of his mouth and put on his best serious face. …While he chewed his food.
    “In the near future, I would like to unite the Cerebians as their queen. To do so, I would like to host a summit in the heart of the Haven Lemanin. There, we will not only meet with the guild masters of some of the most influential guilds, but also the God’s Governor of Wind.” He blinked as she explained her plans. It was a surprise to hear that she wanted to reveal herself as the queen, but even more surprising Lucia and the girls already found the God’s Governor of Wind.
    “I have taken into great consideration the state of affairs across Jienda, and as the Agasuric threat grows stronger I realize that we too, must unite our forces and prepare.
    “As you are aware, Choen Palm is one that we must not underestimate at all costs. She was strong without it, but with her shard of the Heart of Yggdrasil she can easily rival both you and I. Alas, defeating her is not a simple matter, and outright killing her runs the risk that we will lose the Heart of Yggdrasil. That is but only one of two possibilities. The other being that she would grow stronger due to the flow of Agasuric mana increasing. I cannot say with certainty that her body would create a response that is dissimilar to your own. If this was the case, we would be in even greater danger.” She closed her eyes gently. “I do not wish for her to run rampant, but I would not put your life at risk with such uncertain feelings.
    “With that thought in mind, there is certainly a way that we can fight her on even or greater footing. That would be, to help you to take the next step in your growth as the Abellan. Metamorphosis. I confess, gathering the God’s Governors is only one small step in a series of events that must be seen through to achieve this goal. Returning Xenadia to the surface world, completing the Governors trials…and finding Iris Livier…these are all steps we must take in this journey.”
    TJ’s eyes opened wide at the last step Peorth mentioned. “F-finding Iris?! But she…”
    “It is possible, yes. But her death is nothing more than theory. I cannot help but suspect that there was more to her defeat by the Demon King’s hand than what we may know. The result of the battle, the escape of her companions, and the disappearance of both Livier and Agasura raise many possibilities. The fact that you are here now, is the last facet of truth that I pursue. I am positive that we are not the only ones puzzled by this matter, but the fact remains that we must find her.
    “There are only three shards apart from your piece of the Heart of Yggdrasil, respectively belonging to Choen Palm, Iris Livier and I. Knowing the fate that you carried, and potentially being one of the proxies that would shoulder it, I am sure that she had a counter measure in mind should she not be the one you sided with. After all, we share a goal. That being, to save Jienda from Agasura King Asmodeus.”
    TJ nodded solemnly. He knew not what happened to Iris, and even if he was to pursue her he would not find her at the time he decided to join the Cerebians. It was possible that Iris’ companions could lead him to find out the truth to her whereabouts, but the cost was great. If it was Peorth though…and considering what she knew, it was possible that Iris was still alive and out there. If she had the other shard of the Heart of Yggdrasil, it was only natural that the two would meet again. To save the world was his ultimate goal, but to find out what events conspired in the past was not something he had forgotten. His time with Peorth was only a portion of it.
    “Do you really think she’s still out there somewhere Chief?” He asked with a hint of unease in his voice. He felt somewhat guilty that he still had lingering feelings for a girl from his past, but she was still an influential person in his life. Was it wrong that he still had concern for her?
    She nodded. “It is inevitable. Her companions have sought her out since the battle, and the remnants she had left behind in the Save Stones…are without a doubt proof of that fact. Prior to the event, they neither contained your memories nor those of Iris and company. It was not until after the battle that they had taken up this change.
    “But let us not dwell on the matter of Iris Livier and company for now. Our main priority is defeating the sinners and lending our aid to the God’s Governors. If what I was taught and read is correct, the God’s Governors must each complete a respective trial to prove that they are prepared to become true God’s Governors. As we discussed before, to complete this ritual in it’s entirety will allow for them to awaken. Currently, we have only seen two God’s Governors with the ability to do so.”
    Amata and Freya. Both were really dedicated in their own respects, and perhaps it was that strong willpower of theirs that allowed them to perform the transformation. As he recalled the events, he felt a bit envious. They were both very impressive and cool in their own respects. “I knew Amata could do it since way back when after the first time we fought her but…Freya really surprised me!” He said as he scratched his cheek.
    “I was quite baffled also. It seems that it is not training alone that makes a God’s Governor powerful. There is much and more that we do not know about them, but I am certain we will in due time. I hope that you will not have any issue befriending them TJ. I will assist you to the best of my ability.”
    He laughed gently. “I think we’ll be alright Chief.” He got along well with most of them. He and Su had been together for ages and there were no problems there. Though they had a rough start, he and Amata seemed to patch things up and get along well too. Kooh was strange, and she got along with everyone so there were no problems there. As for Freya, she was in a league of her own-maybe they got along too well. All that was left, was God’s Governor of Wind. TJ knew little about him, but supposedly he liked pretty girls? He might prove to be a tough nut to crack.
    “Nevertheless, as the saying goes, we shall cross that bridge when we arrive at it. For the time being, it would be in our best interest if we made use of the time we have. I would like to host the summit within the coming weeks, as to give the guild masters time to prepare and travel to Lemanin with their respective members. Lucia suggested it would be in my best interest to bring a guard along, so I have selected a few of our members to attend to us during the mission.”
    “Oh?” TJ asked as he raised his head. “Who’s on the list Chief?”
    “For the time being, I am currently planning on you, I and Kooh to attend the meeting. Though I suggest that it be guild masters and their most trustworthy members, you are the Abellan. Knowing that you accompany me would be irreplaceable proof of my standing, and would let all know that you are among us.”
    He smiled gently at those words. Despite how much he heard it, sometimes he forgot that he was indeed the Abellan. More often than not he was just like an average member of Yggdrasil, and it did not bother him. The time he got to spend with Peorth was irreplaceable though, and it made him thankful that he was indeed who he was. With that in mind, he could help the Cerebians by becoming stronger and doing what they could not. “Sounds good to me!”
    “As for our guard, I have considered taking Axle, Alicia, Ken and Thee. The former is the only Tronz in Yggdrasil currently. I am well aware of his strength and I believe he would make for a great leader to the others. Alicia, Ken and Thee are differing ranks, but all are currently within the city of Yong Gyoung’s territory, and I believe a formal outing with a leader would do them well in latter adventures. Some familiarity with the Havens would also do them well.”
    TJ nodded excitedly. “Agreed! This’ll be my first time actually going to a Haven so I’m really looking forward to it! What’s Lemanin like Chief?”
    She closed her eyes as she recalled the place. “It is a beautiful town in the heart of Yong Gyoung’s mountains. It is quite a distance to reach, and is so high some believe that it is hidden amidst the clouds. It is a lovely sight to behold and see the world from above. Alas, many of the houses and temples are located on parts of the mountain so they can be quite difficult to reach at times, but it serves as an excellent place to live in for those who seek training.”
    TJ imagined it as Peorth described it and let out a dreamy sigh. “Sounds fantastic! I can’t wait to go…”
    The guild master chuckled gently and it snapped him out of his reverie. “There is no rush. One must savour the time they have because it never stops flowing.” He nodded with a hint of embarrassment. “Now then, for the time being we should consider how we will proceed. There is still time before the summit, so it may be in our best interest if we took this time to train.”
    He raised his eyebrows. “What do you have in mind Chief?”
    “Firstly, you are still as of yet to have mastered Ardoss’ song. This is no fault of your own, mind. Since our return from the Gourmet’s Valley you have had little time to rest, let alone practice. That aside…perhaps it would be in your best interest if we sparred. I have seen your abilities, but I have not seen you fight through Velvet. Your unfamiliarity with close range combat could be a great detriment in battle. Knowing and understanding the uses of a Temple Knight’s abilities may prove to be helpful to you later on also.”
    “That’s true. I can’t think of another way that I’ve learned other than through hands-on training.” He laughed gently. “But I’m not that experienced so…go easy on me.”
    She smiled gently as her cheeks flushed. “Yes…I shall.”

    TJ went out back and met Peorth as she performed some light stretches.
    “Chief? How’s this?” He asked her. He now wore a pair of black sweat pants and sneakers-some extra clothes that were prepared ahead of time along with everything else in his house. She told him that he need not change his top since it could serve the purpose of exercise, but she recommended some clothes for running in.
    “That shall do nicely. It is best one wear comfortable clothing when exercising to prevent chafing. It also allows them to move freely and to the best of their abilities.
    “Alas, there are some exercises that I cannot do alone, so I shall be counting on you TJ.” The guild master said as she turned her torso.
    His pupils dilated. “H-huh? Seriously?”
    The guild master nodded without hesitation. “Yes. Typically Kooh and I would perform together, but as it stands she is currently unable to do so. I am in your care.”
    “Y-yeah…alright. No problem.” He said nervously as he looked at his shoes.
    It was not long before he was by Peorth’s side and doing the exercises according to her instructions. She counted along with each gesture and kept him in tune.
    It had been a while since he stretched, and he realized that his body was much more limber than he initially thought it was. After getting those kinks out, he felt pretty good.
    “TJ, from this point on I will be counting on you. Shall we do the first exercise?” Peorth asked as she turned to him.
    “R-ready,” He said. He only stole short glimpses at her, but it was hard not to stare when she was not dressed up like she usually would be. He had not realized it before, but her body was well-toned. Considering that she did stretches and other exercises every morning, there was little surprise that was the case, but he never really saw it for himself. Or at the very least, did not pay her enough mind during their reunion in the Desert.
    “The first will require us to link our arms like so.” She placed her back to his and linked her arms. “Then one of us will move like so.” She lifted him from the ground as she leaned forward and his back cracked. He let out a quiet whimper before she let him down and he fell to the ground with one hand to his back. “Perhaps this will require some more time.”
    He got up with a tear in his eye. “I’m okay! Let’s keep going!”
    The guild master’s lips curled into a small smile. “Your determination is admirable, TJ.”
    Peorth did it for him a couple more times, and despite the initial reaction it seemed to get better as she went along. “Shall we reverse?” She asked and he nodded. It was time for him to return the favour.
    He lifted her onto his back, and at that moment realized that though his physical strength was not great, he was able to move her with some ease. Perhaps carrying the metal guitar around as a weapon for such a long period had helped his physical strength improve?
    “You may continue at your leisure,” Peorth said in her usual tone.
    “Will do!” He said excitedly as he continued on. After eight reps he felt his arms quiver, but he wanted to at least match the guild master with ten, so he went for a ninth. It was then that his legs too, quivered, and he collapsed.
    Peorth got off of him and turned over as she asked, “TJ, are you alright?”
    “I-I’m good! No problem!” He turned over and gasped. “Y-you surprised me Chief!”
    “Forgive me.” She arose and offered him a hand.
    As he took it he smiled guiltily. It seemed of all of his muscles, his heart was getting the greatest workout today. Even so, he felt happy. Time spent with Peorth was time well spent.
    “Let us continue on to the next exercise TJ.” She said as she dusted him off.
    “Right. What’s next on the list?”
    “I shall show you. Please have a seat.” He nodded and did as requested. “You may stretch out your legs.”
    She placed both her hands to his back. Was she going to hug him? He had not prepared his heart for this! As he panicked she gently pushed on his back and he leaned forward. An odd feeling jolted through his body and was quickly followed by a wave of pain. Following it he burst out into laughter, though unsure why. She steadily pushed him further and his laughing increased substantially.
    “I think…you touched my funny bone Chief.” He said as she eased up and he caught his breath.
    She laughed gently. “That is not what or where a funny bone is, TJ. But it seems you have a funny bone in your body.”
    He smiled at her words and a chuckle escaped his lips. It was hard to say whether she was making a joke, but hearing her laugh made him laugh from joy nonetheless. She continued the exercise and he started laughing again, for all the wrong reasons.
    “One more TJ.” She said as he helped her to her feet. “You are familiar with push-ups, yes?” He nodded. “Good. For this, we will face each other as we do them, and with every rep tap each other on the left shoulder with our right hand. Are you prepared?”
    “Bring it on!” He clenched his fists with a burning passion in his eyes.
    Both lowered themselves to the ground and began. His eyes wandered from his hands to the guild master before him every time they tapped each other on the shoulder. Every tap made his embarrassment increase substantially. Somewhere along the way he lost count and fell face first into the grass in a vain attempt to hide his embarrassment.
    “You have done very well for your first time TJ.” She gently stroked his hair as she said those words and he felt his embarrassment increase once more.
    “T-thanks Chief.” He muttered into the ground.

    TJ jogged in the guild master’s wake through the streets of Belos as the sun peered over the horizon. There were a few adventurers on the street, and the shopkeeper of the fancy shop sweeping in front of her stall, but other than that the streets were deserted.
    As he went along with her he reminisced about his time with Axle, and felt good that he had certainly improved a lot since then. He was no match for the guild master, but he was happy to be able to tag along.
    “I cannot help but suspect that there will be many adventurers arriving in Belos in the coming days.” Peorth began as she continued to jog. Despite doing both at the same time, it seemed to faze her little. “Those who wish to escape the dangers of the terrorism on Elias will likely seek refuge here since it is far from the major cities, and often considered the safest of all places on Jienda. In that regard, it may not be just adventurers, but civilians also.
    “The thrill-seeking adventurers or sympathizers of the cause will likely go to Elias to find out what has occurred for themselves, and that which can be done to help. There is little room for doubt that many and more will be seeking to have Choen Palm brought to justice. There will be a myriad of bounties placed on her, which will raise the chances of bounty hunters and mercenaries seeking her. I fear for their safety, but if it is not under the palace or Cerebians’ influence, it is beyond me.”
    “So you think people are gonna start pursuing Choen Palm?” TJ asked as he looked to the guild master’s back.
    “Yes. It is not the first time, and it will not be the last. Ever since Choen Palm had taken over the Kimara Research Laboratory, many adventurers entered, and few returned to tell. It was for that reason Mayor Anastasia had blocked entrance to it for a time.
    “To think that Choen Palm had left it to attack you in Elfa is mind boggling and yet…perhaps her intentions are not misplaced. I am positive that she has a tome that could rival Memorius Sanctum, and through that she was guided to strike down your party then and there.”
    The two turned as they passed by the Belos Traveller’s Bar and ran up hill towards some of the other houses scattered across the valley. TJ stole a glance back at the bar and reminded himself that it would be a good idea to visit it and it’s habitants since he was in Belos. He had not seen Weldin or the girls since he began his adventure, and paying them a visit again would be nice.
    “Nevertheless, I believe it will be a time before Choen Palm makes another appearance as she had now. Following Kimara, she had not been seen until her arrival in Elias. I believe a part of the cause was the operation she underwent, but the fact remains she is still human, with Agasuric characteristics. Thus, unlike you she cannot heal rapidly and will require time to recover from the wounds she has taken in our battle. Those you had inflicted on her had only recovered somewhat, while many scars remain.”
    “That’s true…I could still see some of them. The scars from burns and such…but that tooth we knocked out had been replaced with a fang. It looks like there are still some things that she can recover, but like you said, it’s not about killing her. Our target is to reclaim the Heart of Yggdrasil.” TJ said between his breaths. He was starting to slow down but he would do his best to keep up with Peorth’s pace. He wanted to be strong for her, and to be seen as such by her. If he could do that much, sooner rather than later he could build the confidence he would need to protect her, as he promised he would. To himself, and Avaritia at least.
    “That is correct. Alas, I do not tell you this to strike fear in your heart. A man who knows fear is one that should be respected, but a man who can overcome it even more so. To be afraid, you need not feel that you are any less for it. To know it means you will proceed with caution, and at such a time we need it more now than ever.
    “In that regard, I do not wish for you to concern yourself too heavily over Choen Palm. The danger has passed, and so we must set our sights on that which we can accomplish in that time. If we are able to recover the second piece of the Heart of Yggdrasil before we engage Choen Palm, I feel certain that victory will be within reach.”
    As they approached another tall hill the sun peeked over the horizon and the guild master turned to him with a bright smile on her face. “You need not fear TJ, because this time you are not alone. I will be by your side from the beginning to the end of the journey, and I shall guide you. As a guild master, as a proxy, and as your companion Peorth.”
    “Eh?!” He said with a startled look on his face and tripped shortly after. He got a face full of dirt and came to a sliding halt as he groaned.
    “…Ah. Forgive me…I was jogging at my own pace. I will try harder to match yours also.” The queen said as she helped him to his feet.
    He laughed gently as he wiped the dust from his face and said, “You’re too kind.”

    When the two got back he lay out sprawled on the grass as he gasped for air. What was it with his guild and their insane training? It was just like with Axle, but despite Peorth matching his pace she still created an insane length of a run she called a light jog. TJ found himself hard pressed to believe that she did something of that sort every morning. On the other hand, he began to understand how she got her nickname. If she tried, she could likely run circles around him.
    The queen soon returned with a couple glasses of water and offered one to him. “It is best if you drink plenty of fluids to recover that which your body lost after exercising. Diligence is a valuable asset, but your health should always be your top priority.” She said as she sat down next to him.
    He sat up as he pursed his lips. The workout was frustrating, but he loved that caring side of hers, even though she treated everyone that way.
    “There is still a fair amount I had in mind, but perhaps we could take things slowly hm?” She asked as she took a sip of her drink.
    “Sorry you have to hold back for my sake,” TJ muttered under his breath.
    “You need not apologize. There is much and more you can do, and also that you can for me.”
    “R-really?” He looked at her with surprise.
    The next thing he knew he was sitting in her lap. “This wasn’t…what I expected.” He said as he covered his face.
    “I feel that we both have the same thought.” The guild master answered as she blinked.
    “Huh? You too?!”
    She placed her fingers to her chin. “I suppose there was much room for misunderstanding in my words. I did request that you ‘sit on my legs’. Perhaps it requires some clarification.”
    “I’d…I’d appreciate that.” He said with a wry smile.
    “If you turn your body clockwise…” She placed her hands to his waist and he let out a quiet gasp as he raised his arms. She turned his body so that he was indeed sitting on her legs and nodded with approval. “Perfect. You may begin at your leisure.”
    She had suggested that he practice Ardoss’ song while she continue her exercises, but he did not understand why she would ask him to sit on her. “I-if you say so.” He picked up his guitar beside the guild master’s feet and held out his free hand.
    “To me, Memorius Sanctum!” At those words the gilded tome appeared before him.
    He looked upon the book and just like the first time, he had seen the words in Cerebian-also like the first time, he could not read a single one. He waited a couple of moments and before his very eyes the characters became music notes and gathered together to form a score.
    He felt the presence of someone close by and nearly jumped as he caught a glimpse of the guild master sitting up next to him to see the book also.
    “I see.” She said as she examined it and closed her eyes. “I have committed it to memory. Let us begin with the first verse, shall we?” He steeled his resolve and nodded. “You may begin.”
    He quickly scanned over the notes and took a deep breath. He did not have Peorth’s capacity for memorization, but he could follow the book. Predicting the notes to remain in tune would help, but it was his first time, so he would have to work hard.
    He gently began strumming the guitar and found the song fairly simple to get the hang of. It was one that seemed to be somewhat…erratic? It was hard for him to describe in words, but it seemed to often vary in terms of notes and sound. Velvet’s was a slow and calm song throughout, but Ardoss’ seemed to have a greater energy to it.
    “Gah!” TJ shouted as Peorth rose again and he stopped playing.
    “Do not mind me.” She said as she laid back down.
    “What exactly are you doing Chief?” He asked as he placed a hand to his chest and let out a gentle sigh.
    “Sit-ups. Are you unfamiliar with them?”
    “I’m unfamiliar with a lot of things,” He laughed. “A lot a lot.”
    “You will be accustomed to the ways of our world in due time. Alas, there is much I would like to learn about yours, and you of course.”
    He knit his brows as he gently scratched his cheek. “Y-yeah…likewise.” He found it incredible that she could say half of those things with a straight face, but that seemed like her specialty. That aside, he was not sure how much his heart could take.
    “Let us continue from the beginning TJ,” She suggested.
    “Right!” He said as he clenched his fist and decided to put his all into his work instead. So long as he focused on what was before him, he could succeed. Despite how close they had become, he had overcome his fear of hurting her once to see their battle through, and once again the two would spar. This challenge was nothing in comparison to that!
    He began playing again, but his face flushed somewhat as he caught a glimpse of Peorth continuing her sit-ups next to him.
    He began to understand why Kooh had become so affectionate for her. It was hard to describe, but she just had this air about her…that seemed to attract. He closed his eyes gently. She smelled really good too…his guitar made a loud ‘twang!’ which caused him to jump. Peorth gave him a quizzical look and he covered his face in embarrassment.
    “S-sorry…I’m gonna start over! Just…got distracted. T-that’s all!”
    Something in him…was changing. Rapidly at that. Was he becoming more Agasuric? Was it the blood bond that was causing him to act the way he did? Was Peorth…safe? His eyes shuttered as he strummed his guitar and they lost focus. The notes seemed to blur as he began to space out and play off-key.
    “TJ…? Peorth asked as she sat up.
    “Huh?” He asked as he stopped playing and turned to her.
    She placed a hand to his forehead, then rested hers against his as she closed her eyes. “Your temperature is normal. Perhaps I have pushed you too hard. It has not been long since your battle with Choen Palm, so it may be for the best if you take more time to rest.”
    As she pulled away he shook his head rapidly. “N-no that’s not it! I’m fine! Really! Let’s keep going!”
    “Are you sure? There is no shame in having moments of weakness.”
    He smiled gently, but there was a slight bitterness in it. She was so kind to him despite knowing what kind of person he was. “It’s alright. I’m good to go.”
    She nodded solemnly. “Then let us start from the beginning. Ware the notes TJ, as the rapid change between high and low notes during the first set of verses give the song a steep learning curve.”
    “Got it.” He took a deep breath as he began the song anew.
    With the time he was given…he would treasure his time with Peorth, but he would also do everything in his power so that he could overcome his greatest weaknesses. His Agasuric roots, and the existence of his sibling Adonis.
    Even with that thought in mind, he could not quell the conflict in his heart over the other figure he had seen with Adonis. Who was she, and why was she there with him? What was her relation to Adonis, and more so him?

    A few days later the two stood a fair distance away from the houses of Belos, but still within the valley the city was located. It was a nice open field far from the eyes of the people, and early enough that most would not be awake.
    Over those days TJ had seen a great influx of people coming to stay in the town for a time: shopkeepers with as many wares as they could carry, adventurers that were wounded or seeking refuge because they were not strong or brave enough to risk the threat, and others seeking information. The once peaceful village became a hub for commerce. It was reminiscent of Elfa during the arrival of Avaritia, but rather than it be due to the excitement of adventurers, it was because many were in a panic. Was the escape from Asgard similar to the event he saw playing out before his eyes?
    Even so, many shopkeepers still saw it as an opportunity for business and brought their stalls along, selling goods from all over Jienda. There were fortune-tellers, information consultants, various clothing merchants and more.
    The Abellan could not help but think of the world he saw through Amae’s eyes. He sighed gently at the thought of her. She was God Ah’s Left Hand but…why would only Asmodeus return? Where was she now, and would she too, return if God Ah’s Right was to? Even so, he knew little about her, and even less so himself. His siblings hated him, and they hated her even more. According to them she had much and more to do with him, Luxuria, and all of the other Sins. It was she that had sealed them away along with her Saints, and she who had defeated Asmodeus along with God Ah. In this time period, why was it his duty to see that through? He looked to the stars in the sky and wondered if someday he would find the clues to solving that mystery.
    Amae, Iris, Asmodeus and himself. All of them enigmas, and all of the truths about them shrouded in mystery. A small part of him hoped that the Sinners would appear just so he could get the truth out of them, and that which laid within Memorius Sanctum. At the same time, he feared facing off with them. He feared his own weakness, and the possibility that he would not be enough to best them, alike to Choen Palm. If he failed, there was no one else that could do what he could not.
    “TJ, do not wear such an expression,” Peorth said as she stretched her legs. “It is fine to have doubts. It is also fine to taste the bitter draught of defeat. It humbles those that may become haughty, and strengthens the wills of those who wish to aim for greater heights. You need not fear the future.”
    How did she know what he was thinking? Did his expression give him away?
    He slapped his cheeks and rose to his feet. He said that he would be strong for his allies. Perhaps then he did not believe he had what it took to be the hero that the world needed, but he had come this far. It was far too late for him to harbour so much doubt in his heart. He had allies by his side that risked their lives on a daily basis. He would not let their efforts go to waste, nor the memories of those lost be forgotten.
    He strummed his guitar as he sung the lyrics to Velvet’s song. As he reached the final words, the Einherjar appeared before him and said her signature catch phrase.
    “I'll take things from here TJ! Leave it to me!” Velvet said as she appeared and drew her weapons. She weighed the weapons in her hands and gave a solemn nod. “I’m ready Chief.”
    “Good.” Peorth said as she finished her stretches and adjusted her glasses. “Then let us begin.” Peorth drew her spear and pointed it at him before she took it in both hands. “Just as before, you need not fear for my well-being TJ. I wish for you to fight me with all of your strength!”
    “Yeah…got it. I won’t hold back then.” She closed her eyes and he attempted to recall the stances Velvet knew. If he was going to battle, Just as he would as a Bard, it would be best if he prepared before the battle began. She raised her club skyward. “Bravery Shout!” A transparent sphere surrounded her as a golden shield appeared above her. She placed her weapon horizontally across her shield and took a defender’s stance for a couple of moments-a blue aura surrounded her and pulsed outwards like afterimages of her body. “Chivalry!” There was one last stance that came to mind he could use on himself. She spun her club around before she raised it skyward and as she did the torso and head of a knight in shining golden armour appeared just behind her shoulder and followed the movement. She swung the club and the knight faded as a golden glow surrounded her body. “Warden’s Emissary!”
    “Good.” Peorth said with a nod. “The first step to every battle is preparing yourself as best as possible. As a Bard, you should always do this for you and your allies. In that regard, it is your duty to keep in mind when these effects will wear off, and to restore them as necessary.
    “But I digress. Today we are here to help you to master the inner workings of a Temple Knight and close-ranged combat. I shall instruct you as the battle goes on.”
    She armed her spear and hurled it. “Broken Wings!” Velvet looked startled but immediately blocked the weapon with her own. Peorth appeared and took hold of her spear as the two remained in a brief deadlock.
    “I must warn you, that your enemies will not wait for you to prepare! If you must do so in the face of your enemy-” The guild master broke away from her and followed up with a flurry of stabs. “you must be willing to risk your allies lacking in defense to be put at risk!” She knocked the weapon from her hand and lunged at her, putting the weight of her spear in her body.
    “Kh!” Velvet groaned as she narrowly blocked the attack with her shield. While Peorth followed the attack up with Windmill Velvet broke away from her and ran to reclaim her club.
    “You must never turn your back to your enemies!” The queen’s voice rang out as she soared at her with Swallowtail. She narrowly blocked the blow with her shield as she reclaimed the club, but the weapon only grazed it and cut a swath in her arm.
    Despite being an Einherjar, Velvet still bled and TJ felt the pain as if it were his own body. It seemed that the wounds from previous battles did not carry over, which he was thankful for. Even so, if she were to die he would likely experience the suffering she would up until the Einherjar finally disappeared. The prospect was nightmarish, but he took some solace in knowing Peorth would not go to such an extent.
    “You must use your shield to defend and parry, not your weapon! Ascending Lance!” She took a stab at her and he managed to block it. She rushed past her and as she did caught her in the back with a spinning slash, then followed it up with a second as she leapt through the air.
    “F-fast…” Velvet muttered as she stumbled away. Unlike with his own body, Velvet was able to take such hits and still remaining standing. The pain neither lingered as long nor hurt as much, but he would have to be careful where he took the hits. The pain in her arm was wearing her down, and the bleeding was as of yet to stop.
    She turned around and met Peorth’s spear head on with her shield. She forced the guild master back and jumped on the spot as she brought her weapon across and instantly followed it with a rising strike that left a cloud of smoke and sparks in its wake. “Chaos Impact!” As the smoke cleared Peorth was not there, and he was hit in the ribs by the weapon.
    “Choose your attacks wisely TJ! Your timing was good, but you are focusing on where I am at the time, not where I will be! The finest of warriors know when and where to strike! Burst Lancer!” She lunged at him with a single strike and followed it up with five more.. Velvet successfully blocked each strike, and following the attack Peorth leapt into the air.
    She leapt back and as the queen came down with a Swallowtail she reeled her shield back and thrust it out at the guild master. It deflected the weapon and hit her dead on, causing her to fall back and place a hand to her head as she staggered back and forth. That was his chance!
    The Temple Knight rushed forward with an ascending strike. “Serial Hits!” The weapon left a pink trail as it ascended and a blue trail as it came down, creating a yin and yang symbol in the wake of the attack. Peorth was knocked back but she still remained standing.
    “Well done TJ. Your mastery over special attack skills is not to be underestimated. But we have only begun.” Peorth said as a slight grin spread across her face.
    Was she…actually enjoying herself? It was only for a brief few moments, but Velvet looked on in disbelief at the usually stoic guild master showing a sign of excitement.
    “Conqueror’s Spirit!” Peorth shouted as she raised her spear skyward and an aura like flames crackled to life around her. She reeled her weapon back before she dashed towards Velvet. “Pounce!” She leapt a great distance from where she was and descended upon the Temple Knight with a falling blow.
    Velvet blocked the blow and noticed at that moment that Peorth’s strength had increased substantially since she had used the previous stance. As he lowered his shield he caught a glance of the Warlord as she spun her spear in her hand. It made him unsure of where and what stance she would follow the attack up with.
    She lowered the weapon as her body turned with it and it rushed the ground. “Undertow!” Peorth shouted as she swept Velvet’s feet from beneath her and knocked her to the floor. The princess raised her spear as she flipped through the air and descended upon her with a downward stab.
    Velvet narrowly avoided the attack by rolling aside and she hurried to her feet as the princess ripped her weapon from the ground. There was not enough time for her to get in close and perform a stance but she could get her with a running shield bash. She leapt to her feet and immediately let her shield shoulder the weight of her body as she rushed forward.
    For a split moment he saw a glint in Peorth’s eye before she roared, “Sagacity!” Her body whirled and slammed the spear into Velvet’s shoulder causing her to stop the charge and reel away. She vanished in that moment and hit her with another Ascending Lance causing her to stumble forward before she properly regained her balance.
    Her body was throbbing in several places but she was not through yet. TJ reminded himself that she was not in his own body so he could not use many of the spells or stances he would at such a time.
    “Valor!” Peorth shouted as she raised her spear skyward with both hands. A tiny glint, that rapidly grew in size as it ascended to the tip of her spear traced the shaft up to the point and sparkled but for a moment before vanishing. She swung her spear once and held out a hand as the pentacle and herald appeared beneath her. Velvet knew exactly what was going to follow. “Warlord Style Awakening Technique! Descent of the Zealot!”
    She had to react, before she got pummeled by the Warlord. She raised a finger to the sky and cried out, “Perfect Shield!” A transparent sphere surrounded Velvet and light reflected from it every couple of seconds, reminding her that it still remained in effect.
    Peorth immediately began her onslaught of attacks and every blow, though undefended and unpredictable, had inflicted no wounds upon the Temple Knight. Every strike only made the sound of metal clashing against metal.
    When the strikes came to an end Peorth reappeared gripping her weapon with both hands as it remained upright. Just as with the other occasions, it was a spell that took a lot out of her, and would leave her open. Velvet could get in close with a strong attack, but she had to be wary-though Peorth said not to hold back, she had kept in mind that there were indeed Humans nearby, and they were in the vicinity of a town. In that regard, they had to keep the destruction to a minimum, both as to not draw attention or let their secret slip. That much, she could do without too much worry.
    She charged forward before she came to a skidding halt with her weapon at the ready. She lunged forward and vanished-the only thing Peorth could see and hear were the trails of wind and the sound of it being cut by the mace as Velvet rapidly struck from a variety of angles. The guild master had successfully blocked some of the hits with her spear but could not defend all of them. Before she was able to retaliate Velvet appeared again with her shield on her back and an outstretched hand.
    “Heavensfall!” She shouted as thunder like a cage pinned the guild master down and the mace Velvet carried was struck by lightning and took the form of a giant golden Warhammer. She hauled it over her shoulder and slammed it down causing the cage to burst in a flash of thunder and force the guild master away. It may have been a bit much, but Heavensfall was an SP skill, so perhaps it would not be too out of the ordinary. That, and Peorth was a tough adventurer. That would not suffice to bring her down.
    As the smoke cleared Velvet could see the princess’ silhouette vaguely as she chuckled gently. “Very good TJ. Patience is a virtue both in and out of battle. When one is facing an opponent that is faster than they are, they need only seek an opening, and when found, capitalize on it.
    “You have done well so far, but the battle is not over yet! Come! Let us continue!” Peorth took her spear up once more and issued the challenge.
    “Right!” Velvet answered as she drew her spear and prepared to engage the guild master.
    “Fervour!” Peorth shouted as she clenched a fist before her and a crimson energy seemed to gather to it before spreading through her body.
    “Blessing of the Goddess!” Velvet cried out as she lowered her weapons and closed her eyes. Green ripples emerged from beneath her and a gentle glow surrounded her, healing her wounds somewhat.
    With renewed spirit Peorth rushed in again and the spear met the shield. One stab after the next the guild master kept the pressure on, steadily pressing Velvet as her eyes seemed to follow every movement, searching for an opening.
    In the midst of one of her strikes Peorth suddenly stopped. “Undertow!” She shouted as she prepared another leg sweep.
    “Chaos Impact,” Velvet shouted in turn. The moment the weapon swept towards her feet she hopped on the spot and avoided the blow, then followed it up with one of her own. When Peorth reeled away she charged in and follow up with a second strike. “Hand of Grace!” She charged the guild master with the shield first and dragged her a few feet before lifting her off the ground with the weapon. When airborne she hit her with her mace and knocked her aside. To finish the combination she sheathed both weapons and clasped her hands together as she lowered her head and closed her eyes. A pillar of light emerged from where the guild master landed and blasted her away once more before it dissipated.
    The Temple Knight turned her focus to where the guild master was and saw an opportunity to follow up the blow. She drew her weapons and charged in with a leaping strike.
    “You are wide open!” Peorth shouted as her body twisted with spear in hand into a rising strike. “Ravenous Coil!” The mace was knocked out of Velvet’s hand and the rapid series of blows forced her back as Peorth got to her feet.
    Was that a stance she had come up with after the battle with Gula? It was similar to one of those that he had used, but now was not the time for speculation. She was in danger because she was disarmed, so she would have to act wisely.
    “Heavenly Ascent!” Peorth roared as with a single sweep of her spear a powerful gust of wind forced Velvet from where she stood and into the air.
    What’s that incredible strength?! TJ thought as he gasped in shock. Even with all my armour she was still able to move me?
    Peorth spun the spear over her head and the winds gathered around it, dragging the Temple Knight back in. Fearing the fact that she would be impaled, when the guild master awaited her descent she turned her body over and used the shield to protect herself.
    “Good, but you must not forget that all attacks can be deceiving!” Peorth said as Velvet came ever closer to the spear. The guild master leapt off the ground and her body twisted as she brought the weapon around and slammed it into Velvet’s ribs. The Temple Knight flew away and skidded across the grass before coming to a halt.
    “She…changed the finishing blow…?” She muttered as she placed one hand to her ribs and the used the other to rise again.
    “Swallowtail!” Peorth shouted as she leapt at Velvet with a diving strike once more.
    The Temple Knight swept up her shield and prepared her next strike. “Guard Impact!” She forced it into the guild master and stunned her once more, but knew the effect would not last long. That aside, there were very few, if any attacks she could follow it up with without her mace, but there were some that could work now. “Heart of the Guardian!” The golden knight appeared once more and charged the guild master with its shield before it slashed her once and came to a halt. Reason being, to impede her if she tried to get past it for the duration of the stance.
    Velvet took the opportunity to reclaim her weapon, keeping her eye on the guild master all the while. It was not long before Peorth had recovered from her weakened state and immediately pursued the Temple Knight relentlessly.
    She could not use Guard Impact so soon after just using it, and to do so again would mean it would have even more of a diminished effect. Any other stance would leave her to open to Peorth’s attacks and would falter if she tried to rely on them. What were her options?
    If she used Sentry she could block any incoming attacks for a very brief period, and use that to reclaim her weapon, but escaping Peorth once that period was over would be no small feat. The queen was rapidly approaching and Velvet no longer had time to mull her options over. “Sentry!” She cried out as she sprinted towards her weapon.
    “Pounce!” Peorth shouted as she leapt towards the Temple Knight like a cougar pursuing its prey.
    Instinctively Velvet turned and blocked the blow and the two that followed it. Peorth was merciless when she was serious! She considered herself lucky that she could not use Valkyrie Stance or call her wings to pursue her.
    The weapon was not far but the queen was still closing the gap as she attempted to strike her. Sentry had already worn off, so any further blocks would have to be completely reliant on TJ’s own skill.
    “Mayhem Talon!” Peorth roared as she leapt with a spinning strike. Velvet turned on the balls of her heels to narrowly parry the blow as it came in for her right flank. The moment Peorth touched the ground she lunged forward and released the spear, grabbing the end and thrusting it out in front of her. The Temple Knight tumbled aside and caught a glimpse of her weapon as the queen drifted by.
    She rushed in and reclaimed it while Peorth began a new approach. The Einherjar took the initiative and challenged the strike head on.
    “Power Slam!” She shouted as she charged forward with her mace in a rising strike. Peorth blocked the initial blow and at the apex of the rise she brought it down into a forceful strike. The guild master stepped aside and thrusted her spear out, while Velvet narrowly blocked.
    She took a swing with her mace and the guild master reeled her weapon back. “Air Wall!” Peorth shouted as she spun her spear before her.
    In that Velvet saw her opportunity. The end of the stance would leave Peorth wide open for an attack, so long as the Temple Knight remained out of her line of sight. She rushed behind Peorth and the moment she got there and prepared to stop Peorth turned to her.
    “H-huh?!” Velvet gasped as the guild master reeled her spear back.
    “Undertow!” Peorth roared as she swept the spear and tripped up the Temple Knight once more. “Shrewd Eye!” The wind surged around Peorth and almost seemed to create an outward and visible pressure. Her next movement happened so quickly it seemed as if she slid over to Velvet and pointed her spear down at her before making her declaration.
    “The battle is over, TJ.” She placed her spear upright and smiled gently. “You are a very valiant Temple Knight. I would expect no less from you. Alas, you seem to have forgotten that Air Wall and Wind Wall are two separate techniques, and not to be confused.”
    Velvet let out a gentle sigh but smiled as she slowly dissipated. “I’m no match for you still, Chief.”

    TJ had awoken in his own body and placed his guitar upright. “Ooh..my fingers are seriously sore from all that strumming.” He complained as he put his guitar on his back.
    Peorth approached and gave him an approving nod. “Given more time, I am positive that your body will adapt. As for your close quarters combat skills, you have shown incredible progress in a short period of time. I have little doubt you will have issues with the other Einherjar.”
    “It’s thanks to your teachings Chief. Thanks for all your help.” He smiled gently. He looked over her battered body and his smile waned slightly. “Though I’m sorry for hurting you. Do you want to stop and have me heal you up before we head back?”
    She shook her head gently. “You need not apologize. It was at my behest that you do so, and you did all that I asked without complaint. Alas, though not physically wounded, you have played for the entire duration of our battle, so you may need some care also.” She looked him in the eyes earnestly. “May I see your hands?”
    He blinked. “It’s not that bad. Since I play so much I don’t get as many blisters as I would have!” He raised both hands for her to see. “See?”
    She took both of his hands and clasped them in hers. “You had once taught me a magic spell to make wounds go away. Though it has been many years, I have not forgotten.”
    “A…magic spell? I did?” The Abellan looked puzzled.
    “Yes…you had said your guardian would do it for every wound you had received.” He tilted his head as his eyes swam. His guardian…? So Yuna had for him at some point?
    The guild master placed her lips to his fingers and closed her eyes. She opened them half-way as she pulled away slightly and whispered, “Pain pain go away…come again another day.” She let his hands go and he looked at them in disbelief before she put on her usual stoic expression. “The pain will subside shortly, I believe.
    “Now then, shall we head back?” Her lips curled into a tiny smile. “Perhaps I will have you spoil me, just this once?”
    “Y-yeah…let’s go…” TJ said as his mind attempted to comprehend exactly what was happening, and what was going to happen from here on out.

    The two had gotten back to the house and sat out back as TJ carefully bandaged the guild master. She had her eyes closed and a gentle smile as she allowed TJ to inspect where the wounds were and to bandage them up as he saw fit.
    “A-are you sure this is okay Chief? I mean…I’m a guy you know.” He said as he knit his eyebrows and unfurled the bandages.
    “I do not see a problem with this. We may be of opposite genders, but as comrades we must at times look after each other. Alas, this is typically a task Kooh would fulfill, but as she is currently in no state to be up and about, I have entrusted it to you.”
    At those words the window swung open and Kooh descended.
    “Gah!” TJ cried out as the bandage roll fell out of his hands.
    “I’m here, princess!” Kooh shouted as she rose to her feet and her wings vanished.
    “How do you feel?” Peorth asked with her usual look.
    “I’m at 110%! I’m completely good to go! Gimme a task!” The Keruz clenched both fists.
    “Excellent. I have a mission that I would like you to do.” Peorth turned her head in the direction of Elias. “I would like you to investigate the state of Elias and also check up on Lucia and her sisters. If possible, assist wherever you can, and find out how King Hejong and Herne are faring. I would also like for you to spend some time in the Guild Room if it is available. Since the battle With Choen Palm, you have exhausted your mana and I think it best for you to restore it without delay. Of course, I do not wish you to overwork yourself, so please rest at home as much as necessary.”
    Kooh pursed her lips. “You’re not coming home?”
    She shook her head gently. “No, not this day. There is much and more that must be done. You must not forget that I am TJ’s proxy, so it is my duty to guide him through each ritual. I must take the time to assist him in his practices, as you have mine.
    “Alas, it is not the only duty I am committed to. There will be others that must be attended to in the near future, but I shall debrief you on them another time. Should danger be lurking in Elias, I wish for you to be prepared to counteract it in our stead. Should you have need of reinforcements, I will ask any available members to be with you anon.”
    Kooh nodded with a renewed resolve. It seemed that she still was not entirely fond of being dispatched again, but she did not seem like the type to go against Peorth’s wishes, especially when it was likely a duty only she could fulfill. TJ felt somewhat guilty that he was keeping the guild master to himself, but he could not deny that he needed her help more than he knew. After the talk they had at Club Abio, Kooh’s loneliness weighed on his conscience heavily, but he hoped that when things calmed down the two could spend some time together.
    “You can leave it to me Princess!” Kooh said with a salute. “Promise me you won’t do anything too dangerous, okay?”
    “I can assure you, it will be sparring and musical practice. Though I will not be with you also, you must remain diligent in your exercises and training also.” Peorth said with a slow blink.
    “No problem!”
    TJ smiled gently. Even if they were separated they always worked hard thinking of each other. They had a strong bond.
    “Also…” Peorth began and her cheeks flushed as her eyes shifted away. “When you have the time, would you bring me a change of clothes?”
    TJ’s jaw fell and Kooh laughed. “I’ll come by again later Princess. Don’t you worry about a thing!”
    She nodded. “You have my gratitude.”
    “See you soon!” At those words Kooh drew Peorth’s warp crystal and vanished.
    Shortly afterwards TJ continued to apply the bandages as the guild master silently waited. “Chief…I think Kooh might be a little lonely without you.” He said as he wrapped it around her left arm. Perhaps it was not his business, but he was a part of the scenario. For better or worse, he wanted to at least know her feelings on the matter and perhaps how she would address it.
    “You may be right TJ, but we do what must be done.” The guild master said as she opened her eyes somewhat. “Our situations are no different than before. We must be wary of our locations, and as such I have dispatched all of Yggdrasil across Jienda. Not Kooh, nor I, or even you can defend all cities at once. Unexpected threats will rise and threaten the peace of Humanity, so we must be willing to separate from each other at times to protect all that we can.” She closed her eyes once more.
    “It is a lonely duty at times yes…but we must all make sacrifices for the greater good.
    “For me to send her off so suddenly was…perhaps in essence my own selfishness.” She looked over her shoulder to him. “If you are to scold me for it, I ask that you be firm, yet kind.”
    His heart ached at the sight, but at the same time his face felt hot and he felt unsure of exactly what he felt within his chest. “I…won’t scold you, but…saying something unfair like that…” He placed his hands to her back and gently rested his cheek against it. The warmth from her body seemed to relieve the feeling somewhat. “Should be punished…”
    The guild master smiled, though from behind he could not see it. “Then I shall accept the punishment without complaint.”
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    TJ

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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Tue Jan 26, 2016 5:34 pm

    No Marriage/D giving before the first date:
    As I reread this multiple times, I realized there was a lot of unintentional sexual innuendos. And some intentional ones. If you can spot them all give yourself a pat on the back. Or I'll give you an air high five. The choice is yours.
    With that out of the way, let's get down to it.

    If you were wondering what Vanir's second grand plan of action was, that would be it. I have a personal headcanon that he'd be a terrible parent lol. At least, that Vanir would be-he'd probably spend the better half of his time wasted and buying gold darts lol. The former varies-the latter, is something he actually does throughout the series. Hence what Skuld said last chapter, he can't win at LaDeck. It was also mentioned back during Sister I believe, when he said he wanted a pair of Ishutaru's Cyber Wings. They look cool, but they're not made for flying.
    Anyway, there are three things a brownie would say IIRC. Those being: nyo, kiku, and mong. I just picked one out of those three for Peorth's dialogue. If you ever hear Skuld say any of those, now you'll have a better idea of why. ...That may happen sooner rather than later-in either story, we'll see.
    As for the little event that played out then, I have a headcanon that Peorth is ticklish-her stomach being one of those places, hence how TJ actually got a laugh out of her. Two important facts? The first, it's a very ticklish place. The second, it's rock hard. I was thinking of saving that for a joke later in the chapter but then it'd be more odd than cute. There's gonna be a lot of odd. Always is.

    Rant time? Rant time. So? Big thing thus far, being actual contact between the two. Something we might think little of. Something that might be a big deal. Word on the street is hand holding's pretty lewd lol. Jokes aside, I've glanced back at how things were prior. The relationship of the two has steadily developed, and perhaps this would be fitting for the next step. Of course, how two people get together will vary from person to person, and the amount of contact or lack thereof would vary also. I suppose in TJ's case, he didn't often have much contact with his comrades, leaving aside the occasional brofist, handshake, etc. And hugs, yes, the hugs.
    Given that knowledge, you have to ask yourself what have the other forms of contact portrayed(leaving aside the reunions between guild master and subordinate)? More often than not, friendship/camaraderie. What Peorth had done stood out to him, and there was a time with Su(following the meeting with Vanir) but that was, in his eyes, more likely protection than affection. The brief talk with Peorth prior to them approaching the Gothic Room in Freya is another good example of that. Though she took his hand then, it gave off the feeling as if she were wordlessly saying, "I'm by your side/I'm with you," don't you think?
    Now that I think about it, perhaps a few years back someone I once knew had told me where and how you hug someone could convey differing amounts of affection, and have different meanings. I couldn't tell you exactly what it means, but given the circumstances for the two, what do you think the way that TJ approached the situation could mean? You've heard me musing about Peorth's cases on more than one occasion, but TJ isn't as familiar with love and affection as the rest of the cast. Verun's explanations were likely as close to understanding as he's ever been. Nevertheless, the end of Frequency aside, this is one of the first few times in years he's come to recognize those feelings, and is a large step in developing his character.
    Now there's a very, very tricky scenario here. We have rules-of course, what they are in Frequency might not be exactly as we know it(naturally, it would vary from one society to the next), but there will be complications about it. The difficult part about this is growing up we all learn about general dos and don'ts. At times, that won't be the case for him-it's a character flaw, and one that I don't really have the intention to sweep aside because of the image it may give off. As a character, for better or worse I have to write him flaws and all, and improve on it throughout the story. Who, what, when, where, why and how. Those six things will tell a story all on their own-what challenges he faces as he comes to understand their way of life will not only further his development, but of those involved in the scenario. As you can see, the foundations of his understanding are being built through this chapter with the help of Peorth. What she says and does, he might not completely understand, but she's a character who is very knowledgeable, both about him and the world they live in. If you take glimpses throughout Frequency, she's been supporting him from the shadows in both stories, and when they got a bit closer during the Elfa arc, he found a person he could confide in.
    I know it's a slow developing romance-back then I didn't think I could, nor planned to write one, but...well, once again, it's time to step out of the comfort zone. Through it I'll slowly push it forward, and here talk a little bit about the intricacies of it, and what this has to do with the characters. It is, after all, one of the most mysterious but sought out emotions we can become familiar with as humans. It changes us, for better or worse, and regardless of which way it goes it makes for a great character IMO. Anyway that's all I have to say for that rant.

    Moving on, one thing I'd like to do is flesh out the characters' actions a bit more. By that, I mean the work behind the scenes. In Frequency, I was building the world, the fighting styles, trying new concepts and exploring untested waters. As far as the novel goes(In comparison to the game) the world has finally been established, you could have a pretty good idea of where what is by memory now, and so I can introduce new ideas. Rather than building the world as in the geography, this time around I can focus on the characters' given tasks.
    As mentioned prior, Peorth did a lot of work behind the scenes. She dispatched Trini along with the others to find TJ(which they did) and she also had sent out Kooh to trail him(Hence how the God's Governor saved him before he drowned). More often than not, members of Yggdrasil and other guilds are intersped across the continent, so it would help a bit to have an idea of who's where and when. It won't be a major focus, but at times those facts will come into play since TJ doesn't have a set destination in mind anymore. Warp Crystals are pretty scarce, so Peorth has to plan where her members are and when-but of course, there's more to just sending them out. They complete quests and stuff and keep problems under control.
    Anyway, the reason this is important is because TJ and Su are going to become a part of those plans. In a sense, I suppose you could say it would spoil future events, but logically speaking, if they were just to haphazardly run about like they used to do when they were a ragtag group of adventurers a number of things could go wrong. Communication within the guild is key. Like a game of chess, you need to decide where to put your pieces accordingly. If Peorth was the queen, and TJ was the king, what do you think that would say about them(Movement wise, not romantic relationship wise! Don't misunderstand!)? Point is, things are going to have a bit more order to them, courtesy of Peorth. Her influence is what'll spur the other guilds into action, to introduce the other characters, and eventually tie the strings of everyone's fates together.
    I think the biggest challenge here is Iris-the way she's been spoken of in Frequency could bring conflict. What she had meant to him then and now differs greatly, and if the two were to meet again nothing could be as it was. I suppose I can't say too much on the matter since it could enter spoiler territory, but I just hope that it doesn't turn out misleading, in a sense. Such an event...such a storyline is complex. I want to give it a bit more detail, but that diverges from the story's realm and into potential RL scenarios. That, I won't do. I suppose for the time being, and perhaps going forward such things will be omitted.

    Next, just another example of things that had changed over time. TJ's stamina improved substantially over the course of his adventure. The time he had spent unconscious hindered that somewhat, and the time he spent with Axle was proof of the fact, but he's getting back into the swing of things. Peorth and Kooh on the other hand do exercises regularly every morning.
    Why is that important? It's an important part of her character both in and out of battle. She loves diligence(and diligent people in the same vein), she trains her body with and without her weapon, and keeps her skills sharp. Her practices are something that she's done for years, and is part of what shaped her abilities, both skill wise and style wise. It's part of how she got her nickname, and why Kooh can keep up with her. It's also why Kooh is really acrobatic. When it comes to physical ability, the two are roughly on par in all but their strength. Peorth wins in that department, but Kooh is a dagger user so how she utilizes her ability differs, and could give her an upper hand. At that juncture, it all boils down to personal skill. Anyway, if one knows something, assume the others does too, and the same could be said for Freya. Outside of battle, they can both cook and take care of living quarters, and they're also skilled in a variety of different scenarios. The two had traversed the world with their comrades in the past(You can see the Prologue again for an example of this) so they're good companions to have in any scenario. I could go on about Su's case also, but I'll probably do that when it's more relevant.

    Also Peorth's speculation about Choen Palm is pretty good! There's a viable possibility that she too, has a tome because in USSR we found out that Iris had a tome by the name of Propheta Imperii(Prophet of the Empire I think?). If and whether Choen Palm has a book with a name will remain a question until it happens in the story. I won't spill the beans. As for Memorius Sanctum? I made that up. But it was meant to mean Sanctum of Memories.
    Also I know Peorth often describes herself in multiple ways, often with her various titles. THIS IS IMPORTANT. Why? Frequency often speaks of the characters in a myriad of ways-by their titles, by their ranks, by nicknames, etc. The reason this is important to Peorth especially, is because she doesn't just want him to see her as a queen/guild master/proxy alone. She wants him to see her as Peorth. In other words, potential romantic interest? Maybe??? The others vary but they're irrelevant right now.
    Quick headcanons! TJ's flanks are very sensitive. A fact carried over from Frequency. The guild master knows.

    A bit about the songs. It's a small fact, but I'd like them to differ-they don't have lyrics yet(Technically they do, but TJ doesn't understand them so they pretty much don't exist), which may change in the future, but I'd sworn off writing anything that could be similar to a song so...that's questionable. Back to the topic at hand, I'd like for each song to have a tone. A tone that would match the Virtue-since the Sins don't have songs, they don't need them. Again, it's a small thing, but I feel that it would be fitting for various reasons. WIP.

    A bit about the battle...one of the challenges I faced was considering what sort of effects would the characters' skills have. Some of them, like Valor, didn't have them prior to this point. Others, like nearly all of Velvet's(attacks aside) lacked them since the skills were just introduced. Others were based on those from the game, including most of Velvet's stances, some of Peorth's and skills such as Perfect Shield.
    As TJ had monologued, the two did have to keep the flashiness to a minimum. All things considered, they were in a town, and typically people don't fight within them-it could cause panic. Secondly they had to refrain from using most of their mana based skills because of how destructive they could be, and how much attention they would draw. That aside, there's a very good chance they'd kill each other if they DID go all out. Unlike with TJ and Su, it was a friendly sparring match, not a duel to the death(with ulterior motives behind it).
    I have to confess, though, that coming up with new skills for a Temple Knight proved to be rather challenging. I looked to the game's skills, and of course I've played a series of others but I...still have conflicting feelings about it. The issue I'm facing is that I've tried to keep them within the realm of the weapon's use. For example, Sword-wielding Templars in LT can use skills like Runic Blade(one of the ones I wanted to use, but refrained from doing because Velvet used clubs. Also I think it's a Saviour skill but shhh!) to summon the transparent sword and drop it in front of them. Something like that, perhaps-not something specifically done with their weapon, but something they can do without. Magic is a bit easier to work around, but right now I need some more...practice with that, I suppose. Perhaps it's my own creative inhibitions that make such a small matter so difficult to overcome. I'm not sure as of yet, but as I work more with the Einherjars and different team dynamics, I'll likely get the gist of it. Heart of the Guardian was my first attempt at this, and it was...decent. Though the story might not have explicitly said it, the guardian will still continue to attack, but only if the attacker gets within a certain radius of it or attempts to bypass it to get to the summoner.
    Shrewd Eye on the other hand is similar to Lucidity. It's in essence, a physical class' version of the spell, but unlike Lucidity the stances don't always continue on, since most require the attackers to follow through with their weapons. Shrewd Eye's sole purpose is a stance cancel. The pressure it emits is what allows the user to hold their ground regardless of momentum or kinetic force, and prevent nearby enemies from getting out from within a certain range. Peorth's other techniques are more movement based, allowing her to move greater distances with less effort, and quicker at that. Like Pounce or Swallowtail. Undertow and Heavenly Ascent are more based around control. Knocking your opponent down, or bringing them to you, so long as you can reach them.

    Last thoughts-what Peorth did may have seemed kinda cold. Perhaps it was, but just because she didn't explicitly show remorse, doesn't mean she didn't feel it. When she talks about being selfish, it can be a pretty big thing for her. Given her line of work, it's not something she gets to do often. As a queen and guild master, she works around the clock-early mornings, late nights, nothing's particularly easy for her, but she isn't the type who speaks of her burdens. She too, shoulders them-hence why Kooh, Sellistar, and even Shabur show concern for her. They've seen her fulfilling these tasks, often times in the guild room. It too, is a side of the story we might not see-keep in mind, that it's been this way for years. TJ's awakening was only 2 years in a timeline that spans over 20 years. Given what you know from USSR and Inno, imagine how long that would be.
    But alas, she's but one stone of many in a pond. Her story, is just one string tied to all the others, and just like all the others, her very existence may only be but a few ripples of a moment in time. It's a vast world...and time...is complex. We should ware how much of it we have, and what happens when the clock comes to a grinding halt.

    Nevertheless, I've said all that I have to on this. More soon? Perhaps. I won't make any promises that I can't keep, but keep in mind this: we all walk the same road. It's just that, if we all headed in the same direction we'd sooner find ourselves lost than any closer to the destination we seek.
    Anyway...this is neither the time nor the place for me to wax philosophy. If I have more to post, or feel like talking about Inno(There really isn't much, so I might do that every 2 or so weeks since it's much slower than Sanc) I'll return. Possibly. Until Next time.
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    TJ

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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sun Jan 31, 2016 2:23 pm

    Ch.9 (Pages 365-375):
    It had been a few days since the two had taken up their training sessions. TJ felt sore all over and had devised a multitude of strategies to best his guild master but had failed in every way possible. She was up four victories to his none, and as he chewed his breakfast that morning he pondered why he lost and how he could defeat her next time.
    Leaving the thought aside, the moment during their first battle he had seen her grin. Though she did nothing of the sort in the following battles, she seemed genuinely happier the past few days. It was hard to describe her happiness, but she just seemed generally more upbeat. That moment still remained in his mind, and so he ventured to ask her about it.
    “Chief…do you..like battles?” He asked before he shut his eyes tight. He could have worded that much better.
    “Battles you ask?” She asked with a puzzled expression.
    He lowered his head as his eyes began to swim. “W-well the other day you seemed to really be having a good time so…I was just curious.”
    She blinked solemnly for a moment before she smiled gently. “Yes…it seems there is some truth to that statement, no?” She placed her fork down and dabbed at her lips with a napkin. “Would you like me to tell you the reason why?”
    He raised his head with a surprised look. “W-will you?” He beamed. “Please do!”
    She nodded gently. “When I was but a girl, and had begun my training as a Warrior I once had a mentor. He had taught me much and more about becoming that class. Though, his main task was teaching me the workings of the class, skills and such, in essence, the fundamentals.
    “I had come to attain a love for sparring not due to his actions, but those of my Keruz.”
    “You mean…?”
    She nodded once more as her lips curled into a small smile. “Yes. After I had grasped the basics of being a Warrior, Father had arranged for me to acquire sparring partners. He wished for them to be around my age range-companions that I could grow and bond with, both in strength and spirit. It was he that had told me friends for life make the best Keruz.
    “Nevertheless, I digress. Warlord Turk and Templar Sosa had brought their students and suggested some of them to my father-those that they thought would be worthy of sparring with me. Father had suggested that I should choose from their pupils, as they could be my future comrades.
    “Warlord Turk had advised against one of his students due to his being a troublemaker, and Sosa, though his daughter was amidst the other Knights he was reluctant to suggest her also.
    “There was a common ground between these two students. Could you guess what that was?”
    He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. If he recalled correctly, he and Straw Hat had run into Warlord Turk, and one of the things the young Warrior was known for was skipping class. Also digging holes in people’s gardens it seemed. If he was to put it into a more general term, would that not make them delinquents? “Both of them were trouble makers?”
    “That is very close, but not quite the answer.” Peorth said with a quiet giggle. “The answer is, that they were the ones who had helped you escape.”
    His eyes became dilated. “Seriously?!”
    She nodded once more as her cheeks flushed a slight pink. “Yes. I had heard of the two prior to them becoming my sparring partners, but upon meeting them then and there, I had my heart set on them becoming my Keruz. From then on Straw Hat and Velvet would train with me on days off, and…” She closed her eyes slowly, thoughtfully. “I suppose you could say the rest is history?”
    TJ was still in awe that he had a part to play in that scenario. But even more so, he was happy that he had helped the guild master find life-long, trustworthy companions. He beamed. “When you have the time I hope you’ll tell me more about your past Chief.”
    She opened her eyes and there was a slight wistful gaze. “Yes, I shall. In time, I am positive that you will recall portions of it also TJ. But there is no rush.”
    He nodded. “Definitely.”
    “But let us leave that matter for the time being, shall we? There is much and more that we need to discuss.”
    He cocked an eyebrow. “What’s on the menu today?”
    “In truth, today I would like you to rest.” He blinked and she paused to mull the statement over. “Perhaps those are not the words I wish to convey. You may continue your training if you wish, but I will not be able to accompany you. Now that the dates and location have been decided, I need to prepare official invitations for the Cerebian summit. It may take the greater half of the day, so I will be very busy.”
    He knit his eyebrows slightly. It sucked that she would not be able to accompany him, but if he could do something for her, he could at least return the favour. “Is there anything I can do to help you Chief?”
    She gave him an affable smile. “I appreciate your concern TJ, but you may leave such menial tasks to me. I wish for you to have some time to yourself, as you have been working very hard.
    “Though some of the adventurers have left Belos, there is still much to see. Why not take some time to visit the stalls located around the town?”
    He gave the suggestion some thought. “I guess I could give it a look, but I’ll probably just wind up practicing Ardoss’ song. Do you want me to bring you back anything?”
    She shook her head. “Your consideration is more than enough of a treat for me, TJ. You have my gratitude.”
    He knit his brows as he gazed at her solemnly. She was still an enigma.

    Later that day TJ sat sprawled out on the couch with his guitar in his lap and Memorius Sanctum levitating before him as he gently strummed the guitar. With Peorth’s conducting he had gotten through most of the song but he still had only reached the half-way point. The second half of the song was a bit less erratic and easier to follow along, but was still quite difficult in comparison to Velvet’s. All things considered, his progress was good, but he had not even begun with the vocal portion of the song. He sighed audibly at the thought.
    To his surprise the door opened and was followed with a, “Helloooooo!” The greeting courtesy of Kooh as she stepped inside.
    “Kooh?” TJ asked as he sat up with a look of surprise.
    “Hey Lil’ Lamb! How’re you doing?” She looked to him and beamed. Regardless of the time or place she was happy-go-lucky and it made him feel a bit happier too.
    “I’m really good. Not sure what to do with myself though, so I’m just trying to keep busy,” He answered conversationally.
    “That so? Princess is busy today huh?” He nodded sullenly and she grinned. “Well if you’re bored, I can come and bug ya’ if Princess doesn’t have anything she needs me to do.”
    “I’d appreciate it.” He said with a smile. “Are you going to report?”
    “Yep. Gotta keep our guild master up to date and clothed!” As she made her way up the stairs he saw the bag Kooh carried on her back, likely with clothes for Peorth.
    “Okay, I’ll be here.”
    As she made her way upstairs he laid back down and strummed his guitar a couple times in thought. It seemed that Kooh too, was doing a lot better after the battle against Choen Palm. She was back to her usual self, and she even took the time to come and visit Peorth. Perhaps that way, neither of the two would be particularly lonely without each other. He smiled slightly at the thought.
    His thoughts reversed somewhat and he recalled the battle. He had not seen Freya since then. Was she like an Einherjar? Did she heal her wounds upon switching back with Kooh, like Su or Velvet could? He had no idea.
    “Su, do you think Freya healed after the battle?” He asked.
    His crystal lit up as Su answered, “How the fuck would I know? Do I look like one of those blue-haired retards?”
    He chuckled dryly. It was not the response he expected, but perhaps one he should have. She knew a lot, but that perhaps was beyond her area of expertise.
    “Putting that aside, why don’t you come out? It’s been a while since you last did. Aren’t you bored?”
    “Between being stuck in a house with you idiots and being tied up and spit-roasted like a pig over a fire, I’d take the latter any day. I can deal with the friggin’ rock.”
    The rock? Oh…the Heart of Yggdrasil. He laughed gently. “Well I suppose I won’t force you if you don’t want to, but at least let me change your bandages once in a while okay? You probably can’t fix a broken arm like a dislocated one huh?”
    “Isn’t that obvious?” She asked.
    “Sorry.”
    “The hell’re you apologizing for now?”
    “I don’t really know any spells that can heal broken bones. I can speed up the recovery of wounds and stuff but…I dunno if it works on wounds like that too.” TJ muttered as he pursed his lips.
    She sighed. “I know that. How long do you think I’ve been in this goddamn thing? I don’t need you healing me for my arm to get fixed. That aside, that bitch Choen Palm fucked off to who knows where, and there aren’t any Sinners fucking up this continent for once, so stop sulking would you? You’re pissing me off.”
    He smiled slightly. She always knew just what to say. “Yeah, thanks Su.”
    “Yeah whatever. More importantly, since that dumbass is busy writing tea party invitations and shit, why don’t you try and be more productive? It’s not everyday that you’re not fighting for dear life, so go accomplish something worthwhile.”
    Accomplish something worthwhile…he thought that using the time to take steps forward on Ardoss’ song were worthwhile, but perhaps Su was on to something. For now, there would not be any battles he needed to fight. What could he do, as the Abellan? What was necessary for him to do?
    He thought back to Amata’s words, her actions and her drive. She had often mentioned that the God’s Governors were necessary for him to take the next step in awakening. All things considered, he knew a bit about most of them, but Freya was one that had escaped him.
    He placed his fingers to his lips and his face flushed. She had kissed him again the last time they had met too. What exactly brought that about anyway? It was not like they were lovers…or were they? He sat up as his eyes began to swim and beads of sweat ran down the back of his neck. Was it possible they were lovers before he had lost his memories? He dreaded the thought-how could he explain that to her now?
    He shook off the thought and crossed his arms. Running away from her would not answer his questions. She, unlike him seemed to have her memories intact-memories of him, of the time he had lost, and of the truths of matters he lacked answers to. Perhaps if Kooh was willing and had some free time he could ask her for some time with Freya.
    He still did not quite understand what the God’s Governors had to do with him and awakening, but according to Amata they needed to temper themselves and visit their ancestor’s temples. She did ask him to come along, so perhaps he would have to go with Kooh or Freya and Su also to theirs. For the time being though, he wanted to face forward and find out what it was that Freya knew.
    On the other hand, he also promised her that he would show her around. His duty was the most important thing he was tasked with, but was that related to his memories or was that his own desire talking? On the other hand, if he called Freya out just to question her, that would be rather mean, would it not? He placed his fingers to his temples and groaned. He did not know her like his other comrades, but he wanted to treat her fairly at the very least. How was he to go about this?
    “You seem to be thinking awfully hard Little Lamb. What’s got you making such a face?” Kooh asked as she walked down the stairs.
    His lips and his eyes were tightly clenched at this point and as the God’s Governor approached his expression relaxed substantially. “Kooh…” He said quietly.
    “Mm? What’s up?”
    “W-well…I…” How would he ask her this?
    She lifted his legs, much to his surprise and sat down before resting them over her lap. “Relax TJ! Unless you’re gonna confess your love to me there’s no need to be so tense! Lemme’ know what’s on your mind!”
    He smiled bashfully and nodded. He was thankful that she was so easy to talk to. “I’ve been thinking a lot about the things Freya said and I…wanted to talk to her.” He waved a hand while the other held his guitar-his face lit up with embarrassment. “It’s not like I’m not worried about you though! I mean-”
    The God’s Governor laughed. “No need to butter me up! I’d bet you’d be thinking hard about Freya’s actions huh? She must’ve really thrown you for a loop whenever she came out.” He nodded solemnly with a flushed face. He did not even need to explain anything to her-she knew and it hardly fazed her. “You still have a promise to keep to her too, don’t you? If you want me to swap places with her, then that’s fine.” She smiled affably. “Knowing that you’re thinking of her too is more than enough reason for me.” She ruffled his hair at those words.
    “Thanks for being so understanding Kooh.”
    “Hehe! That’s just one of my good points!” She said as she stuck her tongue out. “But I don’t think either of us will be able to convince Princess to summon Garfitua’s Hourglass. Do you think you can do it?”
    He furrowed his brows. “I’ve never tried before.” She knit her brows and the expression almost seemed to urge him to give it a try. “Well…I suppose it’s worth a shot.” He had never used Memorius Sanctum for the relics held within, so it would certainly be a learning experience. He could not help but wonder if he even had that power.
    He reached out to the book keeping the relic he sought out in mind. He turned the page, and then another, and then with a flick of the wrist he flipped through the book rapidly, the pages coming to a rest on one that featured the hourglass. This is it! He thought as he looked upon it. But how would he summon it?
    “I’m willing to bet getting items out of the book is like using relic recovery.” The God’s Governor suggested with a raised finger.
    TJ placed a fist into his palm with a look of realization. “You might just be on to something Kooh!” He reached out to it and recalled how Peorth had used Relic Recovery in the past. He only had a vague idea, but after a few brief moments of nothing, a blue glow emanated from his hand and the book matched it with a bright glow of it’s own. At that moment Garfitua’s Hourglass was released from the book and TJ was able to claim it. “I…I did it!”
    Kooh clapped for him and he rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m ready when you are.” He handed her the hourglass and she channeled her mana into it. “I’m all yours.”
    “D-don’t say it like that…it’s embarrassing.” He muttered as he received it this time around. He channeled his mana into it once again and the grains of sand appeared at the bottom.
    Kooh smiled. “I’ll see you later. Have fun with Freya, Little Lamb!” Kooh waved with both hands and he nodded bashfully.
    “Here goes…” He took the hourglass and flipped it over, causing it to shine brightly and for Kooh to follow suit.
    Her body began to levitate from where she sat and his legs fell through her as she was engulfed in light. When it had faded away Freya descended back down and slowly opened her eyes as she surveyed the scene. Her head swiveled until it locked on to TJ and then her irises alone shifted around her sclera as if she was searching for something. When she seemed satisfied she glomped him and nuzzled his cheek.
    “Little Lamb! My Little Lamb!” She shouted happily.
    “F-Freya! H-hold on…a minute…I can’t…” He tried to pull her arms from around his neck. He had a better understanding of how Peorth had felt recently, experiencing such an event now. He finally broke her grip and gasped for air. “Phew…okay, let’s be civil here. You can do that…later? Probably. First, let’s talk things out, okay?”
    She sat back up properly and nodded. “I understand.”
    The Abellan sat up too and scratched his cheek. When she got serious she both looked, and sounded like Peorth. It set his heart aflutter but confused him all the while. He shook his head rapidly and tried to solidify his resolve. He had a duty to accomplish-multiple duties in fact, but for the time being, he had to take things one step at a time. He needed to focus on making sure Freya was enjoying herself first and foremost, and then, if there was time later he could ask her questions. After all she had been through, both for him and the others, it was the least he could do.
    He picked up the tiny hourglass and stuck it in his pocket before he let out a gentle sigh.
    “W-well…do you remember how I promised you that I’d show you around?”
    She beamed. “Yes, I have been eagerly looking forward to our date!”
    He had lost count of how many times he needed to remind himself that was in fact, not Peorth. “Since there’s nothing going on right now and stuff I figured it’d be a good time to do good on that…so…do you wanna go look around the town? I mean it’s not Elias, but we can still go and shop and eat and whatnot. B-but I should warn you I’ve never been on a date before!” He added quickly and defensively with a nervous gaze.
    “Neither have I. Nevertheless, if it is with you where we go does not matter to me. I would just like to spend this time by your side.”
    His face felt hot, his heart was racing and he was going to have to somehow manage through the day with her. He was definitely going to have a hard time-but he needed to understand her one way or another. He would not run away from this challenge.
    “Alright, let’s head out then.”
    He paused as his eyes trailed the contours of her body to her bare feet.
    “You’re...gonna need some shoes though.”

    Naomi found herself in the bustling streets of Belos with an exasperated look on her face. It was all fine and dandy for Kooh to take the time to chew the fat with Queenie for a little while, but Monica was getting impatient and noisy. They needed those invitations to make their deliveries and soon.
    As she waded through the crowds of people she muttered about how the small town was more packed than a can of sardines. She finally broke free of them and made her way up the path towards the Abellan’s home.
    All things considered, things were finally starting to normalize back in Elias, so she found herself rather impressed that people were still hanging out in the town, but it would likely only be for a short while longer.
    At that moment she had sworn that she had glimpsed something unusual-she saw the unmistakable pink hair of the Abellan, and what seemed to be Queenie beside him. Was it possible that the two were on a date? But…now? Hel would freeze over before the queen shirked her duties to run off on an afternoon romp. She sent her gaze up the hill towards the house and saw a faint light coming from within one of the rooms.
    Were her eyes deceiving her? It was possible that what she saw was Kooh, but she decided it would be better to do what she came to do before she chased after look-alikes.
    Naomi stepped into the house as she eyed the surroundings.
    “Anyone here?” She asked and received no answer in response.
    There was no particular light on the lower floors, but it was only noon, so it was not needed. She took off her shoes and made her way up the stairs. There indeed was a light on in the Abellan’s bedroom. She carefully approached and opened the slightly ajar door to find Peorth sitting at the desk with a pile of envelopes on her right and invitations to her left. She turned to the Vampanelar solemnly and blinked.
    “Ah…Naomi. This is certainly a surprise,” She began. “Have you come to retrieve the letters? Forgive me, as they are not entirely complete, but should be briefly.”
    She stood up and gave an apologetic bow. “But had you not sent Kooh with that intention?”
    “We did.” Naomi said as she crossed her arms. “But it shouldn’t have taken her that long. Said she’d report back to us whether or not you were finished and how long until you were done.” She knit her eyebrows.
    “But leaving that aside, there’s something else that’s bugging me.”
    The queen tilted her head with a puzzled expression. “Being…?”
    “I could’ve sworn I saw you and TJ checking out the stalls all of five minutes ago. I thought that, but you’re here in the flesh. Unless I’m losing my freakin’ mind.”
    The queen crossed her arms. “No, I do not think that is the case. I am indeed here. The only other potential explanation being that I am a figment of your imagination. But regardless of whether I was or was not, I would likely give you the same response.”
    Naomi placed a hand to one side of her face. “Could you at least…laugh it off or something? When you say it like that I’d believe it.”
    This got a chuckle out of the stoic guild master. “My teacher had said I could make an excellent method actor if I was to put my mind to it.
    “But that is neither hither nor thither. It is possible that who you had seen was Kooh. She was here recently, as was TJ. It is not entirely unlikely that she is helping him find his way around.”
    Naomi rubbed the back of her neck. “I’d bet that it was her too, but this time I’m not so sure about that. Of all the times I’d seen her, there hadn’t been one where she didn’t have her hair in twin-tails. Seriously.”
    Peorth raised an eyebrow. “You say that she let her hair down?”
    The Vampanelar nodded. “Yeah, I’m as surprised as you are. Even more so when I saw the two arm-in-arm. That’s why I thought it was…whoa.” Much to her surprise, Peorth looked visibly distressed. It was almost as if she was somewhere between confused and downright frustrated. “Queenie…what’s wrong?”
    She closed her eyes and the expression immediately subsided. When she opened them she looked to Naomi with a newfound boldness. “Naomi, I have an important mission I would like to assign to you.”
    She placed her hands in her pockets and shrugged while her lips curled into a grin. “Suppose I could help you out there. What do you need me to do Queenie?”

    It seemed that Naomi’s intelligence was on the mark. Peorth could see TJ and Freya arm-in-arm as they stopped at one of the stalls and looked at accessories.
    Naomi, who wore a straw hat on her head and shades with a tan trench coat sighed audibly. “You know Queenie, if you’re gonna spy on that guy you like, you could just call it that.” She muttered as she tipped the shades and looked at Peorth over them.
    “I know not what you mean.” The queen answered while she kept her eyes trained on the duo.
    She wore a surgical mask and a sun hat with a black ribbon tied around it.
    Naomi let out a quiet chuckle. “I suppose I can see why Sis asked us to look after you. You might not show it much, but you’re a girl too after all, huh?”
    The odd phrase drew her attention and she looked at the Vampanelar leaning over her. “How do you mean? Do I not appear to be the gender that I am?”
    She stifled a laugh and shook her head. “No, it’s obvious you’re a girl through and through, but that’s not what I meant. I mean you’re Queenie and all but you’ve got a normal girl’s worries. You hardly, if ever showed interest in things outside of your tasks. Had us worried you’d get old and grey before you went on a date.”
    “I have gone on a date before.” She added defensively as she furrowed her brows slightly.
    “Did you? With him? You’re gonna have to tell me the details later. It’ll give me some leverage over Sis.” Naomi grinned devilishly at those words.
    “Umm…if you two aren’t going to buy anything, could you please stop hiding behind my stall?” A young girl wearing a pink skirt and white blouse asked.
    She had deep violet hair and matching eyes, and seemed much too young to be running a stall, but Peorth would not question the matter. If she recalled correctly, the girl’s name was Mirin and was the owner of the Belos Fancy Shop. It dealt in clothes and accessories specific to the city.
    “You’re scaring the other customers away.”
    Peorth looked to Mirin, to TJ and Freya who moved on and to Naomi. “Let us take this chance to away. They are on the move once more.” She said as she made her way into the crowd from stall to stall.
    “I’m coming I’m coming…” Naomi said with a dry chuckle as she followed along.
    The duo briefly stopped at a stall and each got an ice cream cone-TJ vanilla and Freya strawberry. He licked his and smiled with delight while she stared at him solemnly for a moment. She said something to which he shook a hand and his head with an embarrassed expression.
    “I…cannot hear what they are saying,” Peorth muttered sullenly.
    “She asked if he wants a taste of hers.” Naomi answered blankly, and the queen gave her a surprised glance. “Wh-what is it?”
    The guild master found herself impressed that the Vampanelar could hear the two talking from their distance. Even more so that she could single out their conversation amidst the din of the crowd.
    Perhaps it was in regard to her Agasuric nature. It was not unusual for Agasura to have much more powerful senses than a Human or a Cerebian would. On the other hand, how attuned those senses were varied from one Agasura to the next. There was no doubt that Vampanelars had excellent sense of smell, but it seemed to be that their hearing was not to be underestimated either. She would take note of that.
    “I cannot help but be amazed by your ability,” Peorth said.
    The Vampanelar’s face flushed as she grinned slightly. “Ah it’s nothin’ really. Nothin’ you need to praise me for.”
    The two turned their focus back to the pair at the stand. Freya leaned in to TJ and as he backed away she licked his ice cream. He seemed to scold her after as she licked her lips and wiped a bit of ice cream from her face.
    Peorth was in utter shock. There was much and more she did not recall about her sibling, but to think that she was crafty to such an extent! She was, without a doubt a force that the queen could not take lightly by any stretch of the imagination.
    Still…to think her greatest adversary was right under her nose. She would need to ware her surroundings.
    “Hey, Queenie!” The sound of Naomi snapping her fingers brought her back to reality and she lifted her head to meet the girl’s gaze. “We gotta keep moving or we’re gonna lose ‘em. Were you that surprised by something like that?”
    “Surprised? Yes…” She muttered as she mulled it over. “But even more so…envious.”
    Naomi could not help but crack a small smile. “You know, I’m willing to bet if you told him that you’d be able to snag him for yourself. But…it ain’t so easy to do that huh?”
    She stepped out from before her and gestured for her to follow along. “Well, I’ve got your back. There ain’t nothing better out there to help you with your love life then a good girlfriend. Or at least, that’s what I hear.”
    “You have my gratitude.” Peorth said as she pursued her companion.
    The pair stopped at a stall that sold various accessories and other baubles. They seemed to be talking but Peorth still could not make their voices out amidst the crowd.
    She pursed her lips. It was the first time she had performed such an action, though Kooh had done it in her stead for years. If she recalled correctly, the God’s Governor had called it a ‘stake out’. It was certainly difficult, but there was a very compelling aspect to it. If she was to be generous, it was almost…thrilling.
    Her personal excitement aside, she certainly was thankful that for this stake out, her precious companion’s life was not in any immediate danger. Though he was with her ultimate rival in love and on something akin to a date, he seemed to keep his wits about him. That, and he was paired with God’s Governor of Water. If anything was to happen to him, be it thugs or other hooligans, both Freya and Kooh had the potential to protect him.
    The only problem being, Freya was more than likely to go above and beyond the call of duty to thwart any enemies who threaten the Abellan. Peorth could not help but think that was partially her fault, but she felt some certainty that her feelings were not that extraordinary at the time.
    “You want me to convey what they’re saying to you Queenie?” Naomi asked as she focused with her eyes on the two.
    “It would be appreciated,” Peorth answered.
    “Let’s see…” Naomi began.
    “Do you think this ring could actually increase my resistance to fire?” TJ asked as he picked up the ring and held it to the sun.
    “Perhaps…but such a small trinket is not befitting of you. Come, let me attach this brooch to your coat. I think that you would look very charming with it.” Freya said as she picked up a gold brooch with a small sapphire embedded in the center.
    “W-wait hold on, I’m not looking for something to make me look good! And besides, that thing’s huge!” TJ cried as he stepped back.
    “T-that aside…I don’t wanna pin that thing to my chest or people will stare. The accessories around my neck are already pretty gaudy don’t you think?”
    Freya tilted her head quizzically. “I do not think so. I think they accentuate how handsome you are.”
    He covered his face with both hands. “C-come on…”
    “Where did you get them, if you do not mind my asking?”
    “These?” He placed a hand to the two items. “The locket was given to me by Iris, and the necklace the Chief had retrieved from Pandora. It’s really helpful.”
    Freya cocked an eyebrow. “Iris and Pandora…are they perchance…girls?”
    “Well, yeah. Why do you ask?” The God’s Governor glared at him as if she was ready to slay someone. “You’re freaking me out Freya…”
    She threw herself on him and he stumbled here and there as she tried to take the accessories. “You must…dispose…of this rubbish Little Lamb!” She snarled as she tried to break both.
    “F-Freya you’re…choking…me…” TJ uttered as he held on to them and tried to prevent her from taking them off.
    Peorth looked on in shock. It seemed that indeed, the greatest threat was right under her nose. Both to her love life and TJ’s safety. She thought of intervening, but according to Kooh one must never reveal themselves during a stake out. The only times that would be acceptable would be in emergencies. For her to do so now would result in the mission being a failure, but she was worried about TJ’s safety.
    Alas, there would be missions where she could not accompany him. It had not been long before she issued her warning that she would not always be able to accompany him also. If she was to be seen tailing him, perhaps he would be upset with her?  The possibility that he may feel that she did not trust him was something she would not rule out so easily. To that end, she would have to use her best judgement in order to go forward and believe that her sister would not suffocate him over accessories belonging to other girls.
    At that moment, she felt a pang in her heart. It only happened very rarely, and those rare occasions whenever he was involved but…she was not unaware as to what it was. Envy…a sin that she had no need for. To be wrought with such thoughts would only serve as a breeding ground for further sin, and would corrupt her sooner rather than later. She clenched a fist to her chest and forced the feeling away. She would not let her heart be overcome with negative emotions.
    Naomi continued to relay the conversation to the queen.
    TJ picked up a headband with a flower on it and looked it over with a bit of nostalgia.
    “I remember this. The Chief used to wear one of these way back when-I think around the time I crash landed on Toad Island,” He thought aloud.
    There was a devilish glint in Freya’s eyes. “Another woman?” She asked.
    “Yes but it’s your sister!” He shouted defensively.
    Her expression immediately reverted to her usual smile and rosy cheeks. “Is that all? You gave me quite the scare, Little Lamb.”
    “I gave you a scare?” He muttered as he placed the headband down.
    Peorth placed her hands to her cheeks. They felt hot and she felt a bit of happiness blooming within. To think that TJ remembered such a minor detail from then…she was hard-pressed to contain her jubilation. It seemed that if his memories had not been sealed, there would be much and more that he could recall about their time together on Asgard. She too, remembered much of it, but some precious memories had escaped her.

    The two had taken their date into Belos’ Traveller’s Bar and were having a meal.
    A young lady in a crimson dress with white sleeves along with shoes, a hair ribbon and socks matching both the former and latter. She also wore a yellow apron with two cuffs at the end of her dress’ white short sleeves. Her sister wore the same outfit, and a large pair of glasses. Both with sunset orange hair and chestnut eyes. If Peorth recalled correctly, they were twins who worked at the restaurant, respectively named Erin and Airin-TJ’s benefactors.
    “Hi there! What can I get for you two?” Airin asked with a waitress’ affable smile. Very professional.
    “I will take a medium house blend please.” Peorth answered as she clasped her hands together.
    “And for you?”
    Naomi’s eyes shifted to and fro as she desperately scanned the menu. “Uhh…umm...p-parfait…please.”
    “Sure thing!” Erin took the menu from her and made her way to the counter.
    “You are rather fond of sweets, are you not?” Peorth asked with a gentle smile.
    “Y-yeah? What of it?” Naomi asked defensively.
    The queen shook her head gently. “Just a simple speculation. The times where you are not eating a lollipop are far and few between.”
    “You’re telling me. I haven’t had any candy in hours. Mona’s been sneakin’ a few and before I could yell at her for it Sis sent me to you. Now we’re here.” She placed a hand to her cheek. “But I guess it’s not all bad. Maybe I’ll get some cotton candy on my way back. Only time they sell that stuff back home is during big events.
    “But anyway, lemme’ just make sure I’m hearing this right. So that look-alike of yours over there isn’t you, but she’s your zombie twin sister?” She gestured to the two sitting at a nearby table drinking water and chatting.
    “I would not say zombie…per se, but she certainly does have some undead qualities, along with the fact that she is indeed my twin sister.”
    Naomi was silent for a few moments following the event. It was very rarely that she would put on such a hardened and contemplative face, but there were only so many instances where one could accept the unusual. Agasura, Human, Cerebian, it did not matter. There were matters in the world that they could not explain, let alone understand.
    Such a matter as this, could also be considered delicate in the case of the effected party. But Peorth had come to terms with her sister’s demise many a years ago-she had accepted her role as proxy, as queen of Asgard and rose to the challenge. But she had also accepted TJ’s love in all of it’s forms. Though she had sworn that she would protect him even before then, that defining moment in her journey had only reinforced her resolve.
    She chuckled gently. To think that a day would come where she could see him happily eating at a café was a day she never thought she would see and yet she did now. That peace, that time, and his wishes-she coveted them, and would fight with all her might to keep them.
    “Do not make such an expression Naomi. It is something of the past, and perhaps something I should have spoken to all of you about sooner,” Peorth said with a queen’s grace.
    “But…”
    She shook her head gently. “The time for grieving is long past. Nevertheless, my sister stands before us now as I had known her…albeit some changes to her core persona, but she is Freya nonetheless.
    “It is, inevitable after all. We too have laws and rules that we must follow, and in order to see them through I have little doubt that we will require her help in future.”
    “And you think having her hit on the Abellan is gonna help this cause?”
    The guild master’s gaze was unflinching. “For TJ to understand the God’s Governors is a prominent mission God Ah has tasked him with. I know not all the intricacies of the matter, but I wish for him to build a strong rapport with all of them.
    “Less than a year ago he had engaged in battle with God’s Governor of Fire Amata in the City of Iron. I consider it fortunate, as he was not forced to cross swords with God’s Governor of Earth Suuba during the destruction of Hanamah.
    “Alas, whether he would win that battle or not, I know not, but if the reports from guild master Reina or her Keruz Samson at the time were anything to go by, Suuba had tapped into a power unknown to any of us. The sight of that phoenix could be seen from miles away…” She took a sip of her drink.
    “Perhaps if I and my Keruz had been there at the time we would have been able to rescue one of the two before Suuba was captured and Choen Palm fled the scene. But these are nothing more than my musings on unchangeable events.”
    “You think about those things a lot, don’t you Queenie?” Naomi asked with a wistful look in her eyes.
    “One could say it is my debt to the lives lost that day.”
    She turned her eyes towards the two once more and placed a finger to her lips so she could hear their conversation.
    Erin and Airin had stopped at the table and seemed to engage the pair in conversation.
    “Is that really you, TJ? You look completely different!” Erin said with a bright grin. “You’ve really got the whole ‘city-kid’ look going on!”
    “Hmmph…” Freya muttered as she puffed out her cheeks and glared at the two.
    “I-it’s nothing like that!” TJ said bashfully as he rubbed the back of his neck. “I suppose my hair was my doing but the clothes were a gift from someone I know. He’s a good guy.”
    “Is this perhaps your girlfriend…?” Airin asked with a look of unease. She held the silver platter in her hands up to her chest as if it could defend her from the vicious Freya.
    Much to their surprise, her expression did a heel-face turn and she looked like she had an incredible air of happiness about her.
    “Hm? Girlfriend?” TJ asked as he tilted his head quizzically.
    “You know, your lover! You two have to be going out if you’re here on a date!” Erin suggested as she nudged him with her elbow.
    “L-lover?!” He sputtered. “We’re not like that!”
    “Ehhhh?!” The girls said in unison-those girls being Erin and Freya.
    “I’ve had this happen to me more times than I could count, but it’s the first time I’ve had to be the one to deny it. Also why are you surprised Freya?”
    “Should I not be?”
    Erin and Airin laughed and TJ pursed his lips.
    Weldin made his way over with their meals and placed them down before the two.
    “Check it out Gramps! TJ came to visit us with his girlfriend!” Erin said with a grin.
    Weldin laughed gently. “TJ! It has been some time since I last saw you. How has your journey been?”
    He grinned as his eyes crinkled. “If I was to put it into one word? Hectic. But you don’t know how glad I am to be back.”
    “How far across the continent have you gone? Have you been to Lilliput?! Do the Lilliputians actually exist?!” Erin asked excitedly as she began hopping on the spot, almost ready to bombard him with more questions.
    “Now, now Erin, you can ask TJ more questions later. You musn’t keep customers waiting. Run along, both of you.”
    “Okaaaay.” The two said in unison before they set off to the counter to fulfill the items ready to be delivered.
    Peorth and Naomi spotted the two heading their way and immediately turned to face each other so they could remain inconspicuous.
    “Here’s your parfait!” Erin said as she placed it and a spoon down before Naomi.
    “And your house blend coffee.” Airin added as she served Peorth the drink.
    The two went on to take the orders of some of the other customers in the shop and Peorth turned her gaze back to the trio.
    Naomi took a spoonful of ice cream and put the spoon in her mouth. “Nice little place they got here, and good parfaits too. Wonder if anyone can play that piano over there.” She looked in the direction of a small stage with a black piano and a small seat to accompany it, but no one to play it.
    “Perhaps not,” Peorth said absent-mindedly.
    She could play the piano, but to do so at such a time would be unusual. On the other hand, if TJ was to ask her to she would gladly do so.
    She dearly missed the days where the two would sneak out of the castle and he would play for her. He was a mischievous child, but one who did so because he wanted her to see the world beyond the castle walls. It was thanks to him that she saw the outside world, met her comrades, came to know her cousin and attained the love of music she had now.
    She sighed dreamily. The thought of the two playing their duet was a brief, but magical moment. Such an event, where it felt as if they had become one both in body and soul was something she had only experienced once prior to that moment. But it was indescribable. It was as if she had transcended her very being for a short while-at those times, she had felt closer to him than ever. Now, she could only conduct for him. She could neither form the Instance Dungeon nor summon the instrument used during the ritual, but the very act was something she perused textbooks to learn and understand. Something she was as of yet to do, but had not given up yet. It was possible that their bond would become stronger, and the lines between their existences would be blurred even further.
    “I had heard recently that a new Instance Dungeon had appeared in the Pyramids of Elfa. There were many rumours floating about that someone that looked like you was seen within.” Weldin said as he looked on the Abellan with shuttered eyes. “Even so, I did not think for a moment that it was you. You would not hurt another adventurer if you could help it.”
    TJ opened his mouth to speak but closed it solemnly. He looked down at his shoes before he cracked a smile. “Thanks for believing in me Weldin. It’s relieving to know that I’ve still got a few allies in the cities.”
    “You didn’t go into the Pyramids after them, did you TJ? I heard it was really dangerous…” Airin muttered.
    “Huh? Oh uhh…yeah…I kinda did…Heh.” He rubbed his neck as she chuckled sheepishly.
    Freya pursed her lips at his words. “If you are going to do something dangerous you should allow me to accompany you Little Lamb.”
    “Ahh if only things were so simple!” He groaned as he scratched his cheek.
    “Oho! Little Lamb hmm? You’ve already got pet names and you’re still denying your relationship?” Erin said as she returned and placed her hands on her hips.
    “I already told you it’s not like that!”
    Naomi stole a glance over her shoulder as Erin clasped her hands together next to her cheek and made kissy faces to tease the Abellan.
    “You’re not bothered by this at all Queenie?” She asked.
    “By what?” Peorth asked as her eyes turned to meet Naomi’s.
    “TJ being surrounded by a bunch of girls.” She said waving the spoon at her. “If I didn’t know better I’d say the kid’s a natural player. I’d be concerned.”
    Peorth smiled at this comment. “It is inevitable, but even so, it does not mean he will so easily fawn over them. Alas, our guild has many young women amidst them as it is, and four out of the five God’s Governors are female also. I believe that TJ is comfortable with his sexuality enough to be amidst women with few problems.”
    “That’s some faith you’ve got there Queenie. If my boyfriend was caught with other girls I’d put him through the ringer.” Naomi said as she shrugged. “But more often than not, those Human men are worthless. Your Abellan wouldn’t happen to have a twin or any brothers would he?”
    “He does have one…” She began as she closed her eyes.
    “Does he? What’s his name? Introduce me!”
    “Gula.”
    The Vampanelar’s expression immediately soured. “You have a terrible sense of humour Queenie.”
    She chuckled gently. “I would not lie to you, Naomi.”

    That evening the two had walked back to the Abellan’s home and stood outside.
    “Looks like our time’s almost up.” TJ said as he looked into the tiny hourglass and watched as the last few grains of sand began their descent to the lower half.
    “It is truly a shame,” Freya sighed. “But even so, I enjoyed my time with you Little Lamb. Very much so!” She beamed. “Thank you very much for taking me out on this date today, and remembering your promise to me.”
    He knit his eyebrows. “It’s nothing you need to thank me for. It’s just what any man would do.”
    He always strived to be a man of his word. A reliable and courageous ally. More often than not he faced some hardships, but with their allies by his side he had pulled through many a dangerous scenario safely. Peorth hoped he would carry that spirit with him always.
    The God’s Governor laughed. “Perhaps, but you are not just any man. You are my Little Lamb.”
    He closed his eyes as he muttered, “I still don’t know what that-” before he could finish the sentence Freya leaned toward him and kissed him on the cheek before a series of beads of light gathered around her and she began to levitate. “-means…” His cheeks flushed as he watched the girl wave to him.
    “Thank you so much Little Lamb! Please take me out again soon!”
    At those words the last of the sand fell to the bottom of the hourglass and they all vanished, along with the colour in the artifact.
    Once the light faded from Freya the body descended back down and Kooh stood before the Abellan.
    “Whew! It’s already nighttime and I’m still full of juice!” She said as she looked to the stars. She turned her eyes to TJ and smiled. “You’re looking even more dazed than you did earlier TJ! Did Freya get a leg up on you again?”
    “I-she-jeez…” He muttered as he pursed his lips.
    “Yeah she does that huh?” Kooh laughed and suddenly came to a halt. “Ah.” TJ’s eyes shifted from his shoes to her. “I forgot to get the invitations from Princess…”
    “TJ blinked. “Oh…I guess that’s partially my fault. We should probably go apologize huh?”
    Kooh nodded and the two went inside.
    Peorth watched in awe and slight envy before Naomi gave her a gentle tap on the head.
    “This is no time to be spacing out Queenie! If they go up there and find out you’re not in the room your cover’s gonna be blown!” Naomi cried as she ran after them.
    “That is correct.” Peorth said as she immediately chased after her.
    “I’ll give you a boost up to the window so get ready to jump!”
    Naomi ran ahead and stopped before the window, then cupped her hands together. Peorth ran towards her and placed a foot to her hands before she was launched up to the window. She placed her hands to the window sill and catapulted her body within and tumbled before she came to an abrupt and skillful halt, one leg bent and on the ground while the other upright. She took her seat and continued where she had left off as the two stepped into the room.
    “Hey Princess! I’m sorry I forgot to pick up the letters so I came back!” Kooh said as she opened the door.
    “Sorry for keeping Kooh so long Chief. I hope it won’t get you in trouble with Lucia and her sisters.”
    The guild master turned to the two and smiled placidly before she said, “Think nothing of it.”
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    TJ

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    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:36 pm

    His favourite store on the citadel:
    Almost scoring with twins? Somebody's living the American Dream. Just needs to keep a leash on one of those two or there's gonna be a bloodbath. But that's still a winner in my books!
    So! Let's get down to it!

    Velvet Papa is dead! Long live Velvet PapaTemplar Sosa! It only took me like the better half of 2015 into 2016 to finally give Velvet's father a name, and her a last name. This is a thing that exists now. Honestly, if he didn't exist she'd just be Velvet.
    On that note though, here Peorth refers to them as Templars instead of Temple Knights. That's actually the correct translation of the class. Truth be told, I dunno how I got into the habit of using Temple Knight-or perhaps it's referred to that in differing places. In the end though, they still mean the same thing, and refer to the same thing. No big problem.
    Back on topic, Peorth was aware of them-Velvet and Straw Hat(she knows his real name, but TJ knew him as that so she uses that also), that is. More often than not, she could see them from the windows of the castle, and from her balcony. The one outside her room, that is. She didn't know of the two specifically until they'd busted TJ out of the clink. She didn't get to officially meet them until the king introduced her to the Warriors and Knights, and hence this situation came about.

    I'm still getting kinda used to Kooh indirectly referring to Peorth as Princess. As an author I get this feeling like I should lower case it but she uses it as a name rather than a title and it gives me mixed feelings. Even re-reading it that happens. Can't deal. Nope. No way.
    Following that, Su says her piece which sets TJ on another path. I really like little moments like those-it shakes things up in unexpected ways but also allows for things to move more...organically? Dynamically? I dunno the word I'm looking for, but the way I see it, it wouldn't likely be like him(yet) to just suddenly decided to act upon a whim like that. You've heard me go on about his character enough to know the ins and outs of him, so I'll save you that. More often than not though, it's Su's actions that spur him into action if he's hesitating or at a loss. The conversation may have seemed unusual, but just like how Reina can speak Alessa, TJ learned how to speak Su. That unspoken bond and understanding allows them to take steps forward, in one way or another. Earlier on, they'd have just wound up fighting and accomplishing nothing at that. They've grown, both apart and together. Heck, a lot of the cast has, and looking back(I had to do that a lot lately for reference) you can see how much they've changed over the time period.

    Now a bit about Kooh. One of the things I love about her character(as a writer), and I suppose TJ does too is that she's really easy to get along with. It's something he speculated on earlier, but doesn't know the specific reason as to why. There's plenty of room for her to develop, and even more so for conflict to arise when he comes to understand why. Maybe I've developed a sadistic streak after writing this for so long lol. . The conflict is already there, as we saw in chapter 5, but that's just between her and Su. As for later, it won't likely be head-to-head conflict, but more the type that arises when secrets come to light. There will definitely be a myriad of cases like that, considering that the memories of the characters serve as the gateway to understanding them-in that same vein, within those memories are the skeletons they keep hidden away. Before I start my tangent I'm gonna hold off lol. I'll go into more detail a bit later, during Peorth/Naomi's discussion. I think it'd be more relevant then.
    Back on topic, I couldn't recall when TJ had used Relic Recovery at the time, but it turns out it was at the end of the Pharaoh's Chambers, and likely the Gourmet's Valley also. Derp. As for summoning artifacts from Memorius Sanctum, I'd always considered how that should work, and how it would work if it weren't through the tome. I don't have a specific canon for it yet, and it might be mentioned later on in Sanc so I'll spoiler tag my headcanons here.
    About MS and Artifacts:
    I'd always thought about what would happen if someone were to use an artifact-how should it work? What would be the consequences of it, and why would there be collectors?
    The current headcanon I have right now is that if someone were to activate an artifact, it in essence, becomes sealed to them. Thus, if the artifact were to be lost/stolen no others would be able to activate it. The only circumstances where that could be reversed would be if A)The original owner was killed or passed away and B)For the artifact to be sealed and summoned through Memorius Sanctum.
    The reason for the latter, is that the tome acts as a conduit both for keeping and summoning the artifact. Users can temporarily summon artifacts through it, but the item wouldn't be sealed to them. As you're already aware, artifacts that are sealed to a person are summoned through that person. Pandora's Box is an example of that, and so is the necklace. When Yggdrasil's members killed Pandora, Peorth used Relic Recovery to claim the objects and handed them off to TJ after that. By using them himself without Peorth sealing them within the book, they were sealed to him instead. Thus, with or without Memorius Sanctum he's able to summon Pandora's Box-her pendant on the other hand he wears as an accessory. Thankfully, when I initially wrote it I didn't write that she summoned it from the book-they took it back as is to the Guild Room and performed the ritual then and there.
    Now then, continuing on from before, summoning items from Memorius Sanctum differs because anyone can use them, but it requires someone who can summon the tome to pass off the item. Prior to TJ coming to be, Peorth, Remedi, and Freya were the only ones who could perform such a technique. Of course, their predecessors could too, but in essence only the proxy could. That said, if Peorth or TJ summons Garfitua's Hourglass, they could use it themselves or on Kooh. The effect will differ depending on the circumstances surrounding them, but any of them could utilize the artifact.
    In another vein, though Su doesn't know it, the Mino Gemstone is sealed to her. She keeps it amidst her things, but she could keep it within her body. That aside, though it wasn't initially activated by her, it's an item that requires a second person for it to be used to its full capabilities.
    A Moment in Time:
    Since this happens later on(though it'll see some changes once I get there. It's old now and could really use some fixing up) it's part of the reason Su is ticked off when they get to the temple. The fact that someone ransacked it aside, artifacts are treasures in and of themselves, and those housed within the Governor's Temples are there to...that's a spoiler. I won't say that lol. Anyway, whoever took them either sealed the artifact to themselves, or sold it off.
    Again, just a headcanon, but something that will potentially become canon later. I need to do more work around the artifacts still, but bit at a time. Don't wanna overload on information, since things are leaning towards the introduction of a few different arcs alongside the main story.

    Moving on! I didn't initially intend to do a short Naomi PoV but it just sorta happened. It acted as a better lead in to spurring Peorth into action. Initially I had planned to just have her come into the room and explain what she saw but as I wrote it that just sorta...happened. This is my life. This is what happens when I write. Things. Many, many, inexplicable things.
    Though it's just an off-hand remark, Peorth is actually a really skilled actor. Why is this important? Remember that she's kept her identity as the queen hidden since she escaped Asgard. She attends guild summits regularly, but she does so in disguise. In chapter 8 Vanir monologued about how she tricked the other guild masters into thinking she was a person by the name of Belldandy(yes, pun intended. Would watch AMG again.) and had run with that concept since. It isn't until now that she's going to reveal the truth of the matter, and readers will see just who and what she was like when she would don this disguise for a brief while. That's the very reason why Vanir suggested that plan-he knows enough about her to put such an insane idea to work. Things are gonna get weird, fast.

    Next! Peorth said a date but it wasn't the only one! Har! Though the one that'll come to mind is the one at the end of Freq.
    Also NPCs. They exist. More of them do now than before. Don't ask me why now of all times, but I figured I might as well.

    Though this is unrelated, I realized something important courtesy of my Copy Editing class. Supposedly, narration and dialogue shouldn't go in the same paragraph. Which is a big deal...with how much I read you'd think I'd have realized that, but I get so wrapped up in looking for all sorts of other clues for reference obvious little facts like that slip right under my radar. Terrible, terrible habit. Anyway, I'm gonna look into this fact a bit more and apply that going forward. I haven't exactly got the swing of it yet because I dunno if it meant ALL narration or just non-action related narration, so I still have to work out the kinks. Supposedly, actions should be okay since you typically add a period rather than a comma if someone is doing something before or after they say something I believe, but I still want to confirm it for future reference. When I go back over Sanc I'll make those corrections up to when I add the change, but that won't be for a while. Better to know all that I need to know and do it all at once then constantly go over it just to fix punctuation. Quick FYI? I haaaaate English. I hate it with a burning passion. God! So troublesome! I should've just learned to be a translator but noooo.
    I wonder if I'd have to attribute the speaker more frequently is I was to make that change...sometimes it can be difficult to tell even if it's between two people. You know, one paragraph per idea, etc. Getting there, I feel like I'm almost there grammar, punctuation and uhh...spelling wise. But not quite there yet. Hell, I dunno where there is but I'm aiming for it.

    I don't think I need to say too much about the body makeups between races. You know how the triad goes-Agasuras have strong physical capabilities and senses, Humans blur the lines between the two and Cerebians have strong magical capabilities and senses. It's why Naomi has a leg up on Peorth when it comes to hearing and seeing.
    As for Freya, she's a good kid at heart. She just doesn't like her lover(to-be) having gifts from other girls. Or violence will ensue. She gave up eventually because he was the more stubborn and powerful of the two, but it doesn't mean she liked it. About Peorth's inner monologue when she was thinking of Freya protecting TJ-there's something important there also, but it could be considered a spoiler if you haven't guessed it yet. You know how we do things here! Curious? Hit the spoiler. Know the answer and wanna confirm it? Hit the spoiler. Like spoilers? Hit the spoiler.
    Peorth and Freya:
    This sentence here,"Peorth could not help but think that was partially her fault, but she felt some certainty that her feelings were not that extraordinary at the time" is the one I'm speaking of. Do you remember in Frequency how she said she would help TJ find his missing memories, but also hinted that she had lost some of hers too? After some speculation she had drawn the conclusion that after Freya had passed away and the two were merged, then separated once more, she lost not only her powers, but most of her memories up to that point. Hence, the reason Freya has such a deep affection for TJ is because it's her persona and memories combined with Peorth's memories prior to her demise. Since her entire persona is built around that very fact, he holds the greatest sway in her heart.
    Therefore, Peorth feels somewhat responsible for the way Freya is now, and is seeking out a way to remedy the problem. Not that she sees her sister as a problem per se, but it's like being haunted by a ghost. You could exorcise it sure, but if it was someone you cared about, you'd want to help them move on in a natural way. Though that isn't the exact case with Freya, Peorth is very considerate of her family/comrades, and wouldn't settle for less if she could help it.
    Also the Chief is a good kid too. It's not like the world will end if she experiences envy, it's just that she works around the clock to keep a pure mind. Or as uhh...pure as she can be. Does having dirty thoughts make you unpure? That's not something I think about enough to answer myself, really. In most cases it's natural right? ...Right?

    So! After TJ speculating about the bar more than I should've had him do, he finally returns! And with it, we see Erin, Airin and Weldin after...you know, all of Frequency. Been a long-ass time. Peorth recognizes them because she'd been there before-she'd been to a lot of places, Belos being one of them. Hence how she recognizes Mirin too.
    To a regular civilian on Jienda, some of the things they'd hear about sound like nothing more than fairy tales. The people of Lilliput and the city itself being one of those very things. Looking back, TJ saw quite a bit of the world, and he came across many of those strange things. How you ride the Puwagra will forever remain a mystery that I won't explain-if you want answers, go ask the creators of the game. I AM A LAW ABIDING CITIZEN. Game...abiding...writer. Yes. That will do nicely.
    If you're curious when Peorth had experienced those moments when she transcended her mere mortal existence, they were at the end of Frequency and waaaaaay early on when she first formed the contract with TJ. By that, I mean the pact. It's a point in the story. It's not a spoiler really, 'cause it's a very obvious plot point, but I won't tell you when and how it plays out. This fact was actually given away by Velvet when she said the Heart of Yggdrasil had gone full circle back in Sister. She was implying that he gave it to her, and she returned it to him. Prior to that event, no one had a shard of the Heart of Yggdrasil. At least, not the fist-sized pieces unique to the Abellan lol. Just small shards like Kasumi's.

    I'd forgotten something super important. That being about the talk between Naomi/Peorth. I'll spoiler tag this too, for reasons. Read at your own risk.
    Post-Hanamah:
    When the two spoke, Peorth had mentioned three very important facts.
    The first? Reina was there. This is proof that the Dark Moon Counter Alliance had its roots dating back to around the time Hanamah was invaded. Reina and co. were on the scene, but neither was able to get TJ or Su out of there. On the other hand, the fact that she had intervened is proof that a fight broke out following the event, and the likelihood of there being survivors was much higher.
    Secondly, Samson was with her. This, really sucks for him. He looked away from the village for a short while, and the next thing he finds out is that it's being attacked and that his niece is missing AGAIN. Ten years searching for her and she gets abducted. If you've read USSR, you saw how he turned out after Xenym was buried. You can probably imagine what it was like for him after he saw Hanamah up in flames. That poor man gets shafted by life more often than he deserves.
    The last point? There was a giant, freakin' pheonix. I dunno if you wanna consider this a spoiler or not, but we're in it anyway so let's go all the way! Mostly! If you look back to Frequency, there are two important factoids to keep in mind. At the time, through TJ's memories we had seen Su after she opened all of the cores pertaining to the Arcane elements. She had told TJ that if anyone attempted to open too many, they'd last a few seconds at best, and then rip. She had gone on for much longer for...reasons. That aside, Choen Palm goaded the Dark Moon King into challenging her, and she said that he was as good as dead. If you connect the dots, I'm sure you could guess how that scenario played out.
    So what does that result in? Think! One of the things a pheonix is known for is its ability to be reborn. If Su was to open multiple cores then, she practically set herself up to die. To perform a spell that would allow her to be reborn would offset this fact. So she got her revenge, but as she had said during Sanc, she ran but wound up getting caught anyway. Got an arrow in the foot and dragged off with the rest of the Dark Moon. Hence, Bastion likely got some of the stragglers and Su got the DMK, but they got Su and Choen Palm slipped through their fingers.

    One of the last things I wanted to discuss is the conversation before the bar scene ended. Peorth did indeed say that he was comfortable with his sexuality which is...questionable. To her, it's more in the sense that he could be amongst girls without you know, jumping their bones. Put simply, they can let their guard down around him because he wouldn't do anything. She knows more about him than she might let on, but that's a tale for another time. In actuality, he's...probably not that comfortable about his sexuality. He's not the only one, but both that, and his gender are kinda up in the air and he's not too happy about that. Ongoing plot point for him-one that will be resolved eventually, but not without much suffering and angsting. Par for the course.
    Anyway, she understands the importance of understanding between comrades. I know it would seem kind of strange given the situation-in that regard, Naomi serves as a good foil to Peorth. She finds the situation odd, but Peorth doesn't see it as so. Have you ever seen one of those discussions where people would discuss whether men and women can be friends without them developing feelings for each other? I've seen a few myself, and it's something I've thought about both as a writer, and as a person that could find himself in one such situation.
    It's also a part of the reason TJ shows such great care in how he talks to everyone-it all boils down to pragmatism vs. altruism. More about that soon. More importantly, for TJ to get along with the God's Governors would help strengthen the bonds between them. They've all got things that they keep within their hearts-their deepest darkest secrets that they wouldn't want anyone to know. Amata's case is one of those things, and through her Peorth was able to draw a parallel. When she had shown her fear that if she couldn't temper herself that she would fail to become a God's Governor, Peorth gained a greater clarity on the scenario. As you're aware, emotional triggers often serve as a cause for the God's Governors to tap into their powers. This of course, is not something they do willingly. To truly become a God's Governor, they have to master themselves and willingly tap into their powers. A part of TJ's task, is getting to the bottom of those fears, concerns, and memories and helping them face off with them. In turn, they'll not only lend their strength to him, but also help him to take his next step in awakening. The God's Governors arc will be, like the others fairly long and ongoing, but it'll help solidify their characters.
    I may have been playing too many games with such concepts-so much so that I could rattle off a list, but it's a good thing that it's explored. To face ourselves, and the shadows of our friends helps us grow as people. The courage to overcome challenges can bring us together, but to turn away from those things, which, like it or not, we're wont to do further divides us.
    ...I'll stop waxing philosophy soon, I promise. If I don't, I'll start calling you Plato.

    Anyway, the last thing I wanted to talk about is the pragmatism vs altruism idea regarding TJ. You know he used to be in Frequency-he came off worse than he was, but it was altruism. He didn't think anyone would be safe around him, and his bark turned out to be worse than his bite. He tried to chase Trini off and failed miserably. He's gotten a lot better at talking with people since then. Now, he might come off as a nervous wreck, but it's because he's working hard to be polite, to face his fears and overcome challenges. At the current point, he has destinations he wants to reach, but isn't sure of how to get there, so he's struggling through those things. At the same time, he's become a lot more honest. I might talk about this a lot, but he is the main character. In doing so though, I feel that the jump between him being as he was, as he is now and the character he will be in the future won't feel so far-fetched. It's a steady change. In that regard, I suppose it'd help me ease my way into seeing his character become a bit more mature too. It's a little tough to imagine, but I have some headcanons that will give him a push in that direction.

    With that said, I don't have too much else to say. Hmm...let's see...what I've been up to lately? Classes mostly. I've almost finished Stella Glow though! I was ONE free time away from finishing Sakuya's story but I screwed it up and now I'm at the end and now I CAN'T. Sooo pissed. So butthurt. I'd wasted all my chances with Lisette, Popo and Archibald like an idiot and then this. The salt! Other than that though...Popo is a cute. The end.
    I also got Mario and Luigi. Fun! I enjoy it. There's a lot more I could say, but I'm no reviewer so it'd just be my unabashed and shitty biased opinions per usual, so don't take my words to heart. I typically buy the things I like, so I like the things I buy. Yup.
    Also looks like January's almost over...can't help but wonder what's gonna happen next. I might make a glorious return to FF14. It's been far too long and I miss dressing up small catgirls in hulking armour. My life isn't complete without it.
    All in all, wasn't a bad month, probably. And you know, it's good to have you back. Before I get mushy too, I'm gonna get outta here for today. See you again!
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    TJ

    Posts : 873
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    Age : 24
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Tue Feb 09, 2016 2:10 pm

    Ch. 9 (Pages 375-387):
    “T-today’s the day huh? I mean, we’re just setting out today but I’m still super nervous,” TJ muttered.
    His hands were to his face and his teeth chattered.
    The Abellan uneasily paced back and forth in his bedroom as he awaited the return of the guild master and her Keruz.
    A couple days had passed and Belos had finally returned to normal. The usual gathering of people had brought the city’s typical bustling nature back to the fore. Due to that fact, Peorth had assured TJ that she would be fine amidst the crowds, and if the murderer was to act, she and Kooh would be there to put a stop to them.
    “The hell’re you so antsy about? You’ve been through worse than a freakin’ caravan ride,” Su answered.
    “That’s not the problem though! I mean, I am the Abellan but the only people who really know that is everyone from Yggdrasil and a few of the other guild masters…and Salem. This is a big deal! What if I screw it up?!”
    Su emerged from the gem and gave him a chop to the head. He stopped his pacing and winced as he rubbed the spot she hit.
    “Look, if you can face off with that psycho bitch, you can handle a meeting with some suits.”
    The God’s Governor shrugged her shoulders and sighed.
    “That aside, I’m gonna be stuck through this shit with you. If you’re so scared you can hide behind me.”
    TJ lowered his hands as he chuckled lightly. It reminded him of their introduction to Vanir and Skuld.
    “I might hold you to that.”
    She furrowed her brows at the statement.
    “If you start snuggling up to my ass I’m gonna grind you into meat with my heel. Got it?”
    He raised both hands in surrender at the statement.
    “Guys! We’re here!” From outside the two could hear the sound of Kooh’s shouts.
    TJ leaned out the window and saw the guild master and Keruz walking side by side. Each carried a bag slung over their shoulders. As TJ waved back Peorth looked up to him and waved ever so slightly.
    Once both were inside they rested their things down.
    “We brought some goods for the trip that we picked up at the supermarket!” Kooh said with a bright grin. “We won’t be able to really cook up any fancy dinners along the way, but we’ll get take-out while we’re in Yong Gyoung.”
    “Sounds like a plan to me,” TJ added.
    “That matter aside, it would be best if we selected our outfits prior to attending the summit. There are some dresses and suits within the closet that you two may choose from. If they are not to your tastes or you feel unsure, there are some that Kooh had selected that she believed would fit you two magnificently.”
    “Ugh…she did?” Su asked with a look of exasperation in her eyes.
    “Aww come now G.G! I picked one that you’d look super cute in!” The God’s Governor answered with a twinkle in her eye.
    “You think I give a rat’s ass about looking cute?!”
    “We have also brought the costumes as Vanir had suggested, courtesy of the Vampanelar siblings. Should you have the opportunity to speak with them TJ, please give them your regards,” Peorth continued.
    The Abellan tilted his head with a puzzled look.
    “Costumes? What for?”
    This surprised the guild master in turn.
    “Did I not explain Vanir’s plan? Forgive my negligence. I had forgotten you were not present at the time.”
    He gestured it was alright.
    “So what did Vanir suggest?”
    She quickly explained what Vanir had in mind, and the moment she mentioned the Abio Rangers there was an unmistakable twinkle in his eyes.
    “So Lucia and the others got us Abio Ranger costumes?” He gasped with delight. “C-can I be Abio Red?!”
    Peorth chuckled gently. “You may.”
    Su sighed and crossed her arms.
    “He’s like a kid in a freakin’ candy store sometimes.”
    “I think it’s cute though,” Kooh added.
    “You think everything’s cute.”
    Peorth removed the set of costumes from the bag including a red, blue, green, and yellow costume. She handed TJ that which he requested and he spun on the spot before holding it close. Following the event he began to climb into the outfit and she looked to the others.
    “Kooh, Suuba, would you like to try yours on?” She asked.
    “I’m good Princess.”
    “Who’s bright idea was it to get me one of those damn things?” Su asked with a look of disgust.
    “Lucia,” Peorth answered.
    “I’ll turn in my grave before you get me in that.”
    After donning the helmet TJ struck a series of poses. Of the many things he could remember, it was definitely something he managed to retain. On the other hand, he had seen others dressed as Abio Rangers. Though they could not see it, he had a wide grin on his face.
    “Okay TJ, since the suit fits there’s no problems there, so! Let’s get you into your fancy clothes shall we?” Kooh asked as she clapped her hands.
    He removed the helmet and shook his hair free.
    “Okay.”
    Kooh walked over to the closet and grabbed the door with both hands before she swung it open. Within there were a multitude of dresses and suits in all styles and colours. The Abellan looked on in awe.
    “They’re mostly hand-me-downs, but they’re all in really good shape!” The God’s Governor added with a smile. “Though if they’re not to your liking, you’re free to try on the dresses too!”
    “Eh? Oh…no thanks! A suit’s fine for me,” He added.
    He looked between the three girls nervously.
    “So what about you guys?”
    “Princess and I already picked out our outfits.”
    “Would you like to see?” Peorth asked.
    He nodded rapidly. He had not seen her in a dress since the events at Elfa. Thankfully, this time around it was a rather joyous occasion. Nerve-wracking, but joyous nonetheless.
    Kooh rummaged through her bag and drew a pair of dresses. She handed one to Peorth before she unfurled her own. Kooh’s was a form-fitting turquoise one-shoulder scuba-knit dress. Peorth’s was a long violet sleeveless and strapless, asymmetric dress. There was a clear shawl that rested around the bust.
    “Looks good,” TJ said.
    “Wait ‘till you see us in them,” Kooh laughed. “Now we need to pick out something for you and Su.”
    “I don’t want anything too grand! I know I’ll stand out, but just a regular suit will do fine for me,” TJ said.
    Kooh rummaged through the closet and took out a suit.
    “How about this one?”
    He could not truly tell the difference between them, so he had no qualms on the matter. It was an ordinary looking deep blue vest with matching pants. There were pockets on both flanks, one on the chest and two. There was a white dress shirt beneath it also.
    “That’ll do just fine. Thanks!”
    Kooh took a hat out of the closet. A black pork pie with a matching ribbon and a silver feather.
    “Hat?”
    “Eh? Oh…”
    “Princess?”
    “I approve,” Peorth added quickly.
    “Well…I suppose.”
    The God’s Governor made her way across the room and opened one of the dresser drawers. She took out a tie and bowtie.
    “Which do you prefer?”
    “Well they’re both alright in my books.”
    “Princess?”
    “I recommend the bow.”
    Kooh gave her a thumbs-up with a grin.
    “It’s unanimous!”
    “I-is it?!” TJ asked with a look of surprise.
    Su was looking through the closet herself and picked out a tan suit.
    “Are these things unisex or what?” She asked as she eyed it warily.
    “They’re not, but that one used to be mine so you can totally fit in it.”
    “I’m having second thoughts about this.”
    The God’s Governor turned to TJ.
    “While you try that on we’re gonna step out. If you need any help just call which of us you want to come in!”
    “I’ll be fine, but I appreciate it nonetheless.” He answered with a laugh.
    “H-hey! Quit pulling stupid!” Su hissed as Kooh dragged her out the door with Peorth in tow.
    “Well…nothing to it then…” He said as he eyed the suit.
    After he had gotten into it he looked it over from top to bottom. It had been quite some time since he had put himself in a suit. It was a little embarrassing to admit, but it made him feel…fresh. He looked in the mirror and smiled slightly.
    “We’re comin’ in!” Kooh shouted as she opened the door beaming.
    “W-what if I was changing?” He asked as he eyed her uneasily.
    “Good thing you weren’t huh?”
    He laughed dryly, but his reaction immediately changed as Peorth stepped in after her cousin. He looked embarrassed, and she did too somewhat as she eyed him from head to toe.
    “You look very handsome in a suit TJ. It suits you,” She said.
    “Right?”
    He laughed sheepishly. “You think so?”
    “Definitely looks better than a crop top. I was actually getting used to seeing you half-dressed,” Su snickered.
    She returned to the closet and looked over the hats.
    He pursed his lips. “That was Vanir’s fault!”
    “Speaking of Vanir…” Kooh said as Su tried on one of the hats. “That hat reminds me of his.”
    The God’s Governor took the fedora off of her head and hurled it at Kooh. Following the event she put back on her previous hat.
    “Aww come on G.G! You can’t wear that at a formal event!”
    “Yeah? We’ll see about that,” She hissed.

    TJ and Su had changed into their regular clothes and the group had set out for the city of Yong Gyoung with Peorth and Kooh. The guild master had informed them that they were to meet with their companions in the city. Following the event, they would take a caravan to Lemanin. Should everything go accordingly, they would arrive the day of the Summit with time to spare.
    The group had arrived in the peaceful city of Yong Gyoung briefly after teleporting. Peorth put away her warp crystal and glanced around the surrounding area.
    “Oh? That you Boss Lady?” Axle asked as he approached.
    The Blader was accompanied by Thee, Alicia and Ken.
    “Looks like the others are here too. That’s all of us right?” Alicia asked as she waved.
    “I am pleased to see that you are all doing well,” Peorth said. “Since we have all gathered and there is still time before our departure, I suggest that we eat a meal. I will pay the costs.”
    Axle fist-pumped at the statement.
    “I’m not one to question your decisions, but are you sure about that?” Ken asked as he knit his eyebrows.
    TJ had not seen him since they celebrated in Elias. The last time he had seen Axle was when he was in the hospital, though he, Thee and Alicia were also present for the celebration at his home. He felt happiness from the bottom of his heart to see his companions healthy and safe once more.
    “It is a small matter. You have all been working very hard for us lately, so consider it my gratitude for your efforts.
    “Nevertheless, we have a long journey ahead of us, so I would like you all to be satisfied before we set out.”
    “I’ve got no complaints then. I’ll take you up on that offer Peorth.” Thee said with a grin.
    Peorth placed a finger to her lips.
    “Alas, I have not spent enough time in Yong Gyoung to know the best place for cuisine. What would all of you suggest?”
    “Leave it to me Boss! I know the best places around here!” Axle enthusiastically said as he pointed at himself with his thumb.
    Alicia slowed down to greet the two as the rest followed Axle.
    “TJ, Su! How are you? It’s been a while!” She said with a smile.
    “It’s been a little crazy lately, but thankfully we’re all okay.” TJ said as he beamed.
    “I’ve seen worse, I guess.” Su answered with a shrug.
    “You don’t know how glad I am to see you! I’d heard you got caught up with Choen Palm when she invaded Elias too. To think you managed to get out of that in one piece is either a miracle, or just that you guys are that strong.”
    He laughed sheepishly. “I think it just worked out because there was enough of us to hold her back. She’s gotten a lot stronger since the last time though…so if you do see her, I’d recommend getting as far away as you can.
    “I’d rather not see anyone else fall by her hands.”
    Alicia smiled somberly, but her eyes showed that she took his words to heart.
    “Don’t worry TJ. I know, and I haven’t forgotten.
    “Peorth makes sure we always travel in groups, so if we do run into her we should be able to hold our own. Though I don’t think any of us would want to fight her if we don’t have to!”
    TJ smiled as he nodded and Su silently listened.
    “This is the place,” Axle said enthusiastically.
    The group stepped into Yong Gyoung’s Traveller’s Bar and TJ looked upon it with nostalgia.
    “Oh man! It’s been a while!”
    The place was as he had remembered it-the yellow faded walls, the white tables and the matching chairs, even the brown counter with the stout inn keeper behind it.
    She had hardly changed over the span of his journey also. She wore a light blue cheongsam top with a tiny flower and polka-dot design along with a dark blue skirt and white apron over it. Her greying hair was tied back into a bun with a single hair stick within it.
    “Hey Rantien! Can we get a table for eight?” Axle asked.
    Rantien looked over them and gave him a wary look.
    “There’s seven of you. You expecting someone else?” She asked in turn.
    “Seriously?”
    Axle turned to his companions and counted them off with a finger.
    “Oh…you’re right. Well, seven it is!”
    TJ looked to both sides of him but did not see Su anywhere.
    “You should probably warn them next time, Su.” He muttered to his gem.
    “Meh. He’ll get over it,” She answered.
    “Alright take a seat over there. I’ll bring you some menus.” Rantien answered before she pointed to one of the tables at the far side of the room.
    The group sat down at the table and Rantien arrived shortly after with menus. While they all looked over them Peorth took a quick glance over hers and closed it.
    “Now then, I shall begin.” She said before she cleared her throat. “I must thank you all for gathering here today. As you are aware, a very important event is to take place in the coming days, and I have requested your assistance in seeing the matter through successfully. Though the location is unknown to much of Humanity, and is kept hidden through the barrier, we have decided to take no risks in ensuring that none of the attendees will be in any sort of danger during this. To aid in that cause, I have summoned you all to act as the guard for TJ, Kooh and myself, along with the other guild masters.”
    Rantien returned with a pencil and notepad.
    “So what can I get for you?”
    “Wonton soup please,” Peorth answered.
    “Poached drunken chicken for me!” Kooh said with a raised hand.
    “I’ll take an order of zha jiang mian,” Thee added.
    “I’ll have the usual Rantien,” Axle said.
    “Uh huh…ma po tofu…” She muttered as she scribbled it down.
    “Can I get a beef stir-fry?” Ken ased.
    “Spring rolls please!” Alicia added as she closed her menu.
    “I guess I’ll give the jiaozi a try,” TJ said.
    Rantien made her way to the kitchen after she collected the menus.
    “Alright Boss, you can continue your speech.” Axle said as he intertwined his fingers.
    “You have my thanks. I shall.”
    She gave a nod to him before she turned to the group.
    “Now then, as Axle is the only Bashutz within Yggdrasil currently, I have selected him to lead you all on this mission. There are no particular objectives that need be fulfilled, but I request that you remain diligent nonetheless. The likelihood of there being any incidents during the summit is highly unlikely, but should there be anything that seems out of place in Lemanin I ask that you investigate.
    “Nevertheless, though I will be present on location, you will be taking instructions from Axle. Until the mission is over, you must report to him. If need be, that is, should there be an emergency that arises during your patrols then I ask that you use your guild badge’s ‘whisper’ function to inform me. If any anomalies occur during the summit, I shall inform all of you via guild chat. Other wise, I will not remain in contact with you until the summit has ended.”
    “No problemo Boss.” Axle said with a grin.
    Rantien returned once more with a platter and laid their meals out before them. Each offered their thanks and she returned to the counter. The group chatted for a couple moments at how the food looked and smelled before they began to eat.
    “Moving on, TJ and Kooh, I would like to discuss what we are to do.”
    The two nodded solemnly.
    “I do not have doubts that the Cerebians will hesitate at the truth we lay out before them. Revealing my identity may have some believe our cause, but those unfamiliar with my image will not likely recognize me. Alas, it has been many a years since those who did know of me had last seen me, so the likelihood of recognizing me is very low. Thus, there is one action we can take that I feel will solidify our identities.”
    “What’s that Chief?” TJ asked.
    “Calling.”
    He began to choke and coughed violently before Kooh offered him some water.
    “Phew…thanks Kooh. Are you sure about this Chief? I mean…I guess that’s not something that needs to be a secret but I never thought we’d use it like that. Wait does that mean…”
    He eyed Kooh with curiosity.
    “Yep! I can do it too.” She answered with a grin.
    “I really shouldn’t be surprised, but seeing is believing…”
    Peorth nodded solemnly.
    “We are the only remaining Cerebians who can use this ability. I confess that to go to such lengths may sound excessive in theory, but I believe it may be necessary. We are asking the Cerebians to accept the fact that their late queen may yet be alive, and even more so that their saviour is among them. It would be a simple matter to assume those identities, but anyone would look at such a suggestion with a great degree of skepticism. If we were to look at things in a wider lens, we may be imprisoned for fraud. Such an action would not be unwarranted.”
    “Princess’ got a point there,” Kooh said.
    “Man, and I thought we had it rough,” Thee laughed dryly. “Sounds like you guys are gonna be put on trial for heresy or something.”
    “Rest in peace guys. We hardly knew ye,” Ken said.
    “Don’t write us off like that. It’s too early for us to die,” TJ muttered under his breath.
    “We will be fine. I can assure you of this,” Peorth said calmly.
    “Moving on, the last pieces of information I would like to share with you is the journey itself. It will be a two-day, one night trip. During this time I must ask that you refer to me as guild master Belldandy, until the end of the summit. I will debrief you on the reasons for this at a later date. Also, we will be driven there via caravan by one of Bastion’s drivers, José, courtesy of guild master Reina.”
    “We should get a caravan driver in Yggdrasil too,” Alicia said conversationally.
    “It could be you,” Axle answered.
    “No way! They’re expensive! And finding two giant Prirings to pull it would be hard.”
    “I’ll get a license if you’re paying Axle.” Thee said with a devilish grin.
    “Do I look like I’m made of money? You’re a successful adventurer, you can do it yourself!” The Blader retorted with an exasperated gaze.
    “But you are a Bashutz Ax! Why not help out your juniors?” Kooh asked with a teasing smile.
    “You’re the only Keruz in Yggdrasil. And I heard you were there helping rebuild Elias, so you’d earned a bunch. Isn’t it high time you share the wealth?” Axle asked Kooh in turn.
    “No way! I’ve got rent to pay!” She laughed as she waved him off.
    “So do I! I live alone!”
    “If you’ll cook and clean for me I’ll consider being your roomie.”
    “Terrible deal. Awful. No way.”
    TJ laughed. It seemed that very little had changed among them. They were as carefree as ever.

    Shortly after their meal the group made their way out of the city to the outskirts, just off the path to the mountains.
    As Peorth had said, there was a caravan resting on the outskirts and a couple of people sitting in the back of it.
    “Looks like that’s our ride.” Axle said as he pointed to them. “Let’s go get introduced.”
    Peorth took her glasses off and drew a second pair of glasses. They were similar to the fake glasses she wore previously, but the nose and moustache were not included. Was that actually part of her disguise?
    As they approached they got a closer look at the pair within the vehicle.
    The first was a man with bronzed skin, chestnut eyes and violet, almost black hair tied into a bomb-style ponytail with a goatee. He wore a tan vest over a white dress shirt and matching cargo pants. He also wore brown folded boots and small gold earrings.
    Next to him was a young lady with wavy aqua shoulder-length hair, purple eyes, a bindi and a skin tone just slightly darker than her companion’s. She wore a long-sleeved black and white knit tunic, blue jeans and a pair of running shoes. On both of her flanks were sheathed blades.
    “Hmm? You lot must be guild master Belldandy and co. am I right?” José asked as he looked to them.
    “That’d be us. I take it you’re José?” Axle asked.
    “The one and only.”
    “Alright everybody, file in and let’s get these introductions out of the way!”
    Axle gestured them all over and one by one each of Yggdrasil’s members introduced themselves.
    “It’s nice to meet you guys too. I’m Cleo, one of Bastion’s Tronz.” Cleo said as she got up and shook everyone’s hands. “Hope you don’t mind that I’m hitching a ride with you guys. I missed the original pickup date so José is helping me out of that pinch.”
    “Belldandy. Nice to meet’cha Cleo.” Peorth said as she shook her hand in turn.
    At that, a multitude of eyes from Yggdrasil’s members darted to the guild master with puzzled and questioning gazes. Su had to close TJ’s gaping mouth.
    Cleo laughed and grinned. “I’d heard a lot about you from our guild master, Belldandy. Your accent is unmistakable after all!”
    The guild master adjusted her glasses. “Well y’know, it’s one of the thing I’m known fer’ after all.”
    TJ placed a finger to his lips as his eyes started to swim. Was he hearing correctly? He had only heard Peorth use contractions in her speech during her youth, but not once speak with an accent. It was nostalgic, but at the same time downright puzzling. Even in his memories she had not spoken in such a manner, but he had heard something of the sort from Yuna.
    He shook his head while the group chatted a bit more. She did say that her true identity was hidden, so this must have been how she did it. He had to keep her true identity a secret, so he would have to go along with her actions. Given the scenario though, could he still address her as he always had?
    “Alright everyone. Hop in. We’ve got a bit of a trip ahead of us, but I’ll make sure you all get there in one piece. I’m not much of a fighter, but you won’t find a better driver, I can assure you of that.” José told them.
    “If anything happens, Cleo will help you out.”
    “Huh?! I’m just one girl! I can’t defend eight people by myself!” Cleo cried out as José walked to the front of the caravan.
    Axle placed a hand to her shoulder.
    “Protect us well Cleo.”
    “I don’t like where this is going at all.”
    “All aboard,” José shouted to them.
    One by one the members of Yggdrasil climbed into the caravan and took their seats, followed by the extra member of Bastion. At the sound of José’s shout the vehicle began to move down the dirt path, and the visage of Yong Gyoung faded away into the distance.

    As they rode into the evening, a few of the members of Yggdrasil had a heated discussion about various things of interest. At this juncture, they had entered the mountains just off the path of Yong Gyoung and travelled through valleys and dirt landscapes, steadily ascending upwards to the heart of the mountains. Within lay their destination.
    “Trust me when I say this-there is nothing better than a toned body,” Axle said with startling conviction.
    Ken cocked an eyebrow at the statement.
    “What makes you so sure of that?” He asked.
    “Dude, the proof is in the pudding. Have you ever seen a girl with a toned body?!”
    He raised a hand and made an ‘OK’ sign with it as he closed his eyes and raised his head in an almost glorified manner.
    “Say it with me now. Toned. Glutes.”
    Thee began to laugh and he covered his mouth with his hand. Ken on the other hand looked disheartened by the request.
    “I’ll uhh…I’ll pass.”
    Axle placed a hand to his shoulder and looked at him passionately.
    “Ken, listen to me. This is important. This is a man’s romance! This isn’t something you just refuse to think about! You accept it! Embrace it! Burn the image into the very core of your soul and understand the glory of it all!”
    “Right on Ax!” Kooh said with a raised fist.
    He let go of the Powers’ shoulder and eyed Kooh warily.
    “Are you actually agreeing with me or are you mocking me?”
    “Oh I totally agree!”
    Cleo, Thee and Alicia all gave her surprised looks.
    “Proof?”
    Kooh’s eyes rolled from looking at Axle to the guild master who sat side by side with TJ. The Abellan had his hands to his chest as he quietly sung the lyrics he had read to Ardoss’ song while Peorth instructed him. Kooh’s focus returned to Axle and he gave her a thumbs-up with a glint in his eye.
    “Did these two come to some sort of understanding?” Ken asked as he eyed the two grinning at each other.
    Axle pointed to Thee.
    “You agree right? You know what it’s all about, don’t you?”
    “Hm?” Thee looked surprised. “Well…I can’t say I dislike that sort of thing but…” He rubbed his nose with his finger. “Nothing beats a tall girl. Hands down.”
    “So you’re saying you’re into amazons?” Ken asked.
    “D-don’t call them amazons! There’s a difference!”
    Axle looked to Alicia who sat next to Cleo and she looked startled.
    “So? What’s your preference? You girls are here too, so you might as well join in the conversation. We won’t judge.”
    Alicia’s eyes begin to swim as she clenched her fists to her legs.
    “This is…oddly familiar,” She muttered under her breath.
    Cleo looked concerned as she muttered, “Does that mean this is normal for you guys?”
    “T-that depends?”
    She sighed quietly. “Then again, I can’t blame you. Guild master Reina and Alessa…when those two get going they chase both the boys and the girls away. I kinda know how you feel.”
    “So? How about it Alicia? Spill the beans! Captain’s orders.”
    “That’s unfair!” She cried out.
    He shrugged in response while he grinned.
    “W-well…I suppose a man with abs isn’t so bad?”
    “Oho!”
    Thee glanced into his armour while Ken let out a defeated chuckle.
    “How about you Cleo? No need to be shy around us.”
    “I’m…I’ll pass. I have no preference.” She said as she raised both her hands in surrender.
    “You’re unfair,” Alicia complained.
    “Ken? You’re among the boys. You’re not gonna hang the others out to dry are you?”
    He looked to Thee, Kooh and Alicia, then shrugged. Following that Thee took his hat and the two started wrestling on the floor.
    “What about you Su? You’ve been sitting there sulking this whole time.”
    “You idiots…” She muttered as she slumped her shoulders.
    “Should’ve saw that coming,” Axle muttered under his breath.
    “Have shit-tier taste.”
    The jaws of those in Yggdrasil dropped at her statement.
    “I’m gonna say this just once, got it? If it ain’t got legs, it isn’t worth looking twice at. Got it?” At that she sat back down and placed a hand to her face.
    “I-I think my heart skipped a beat!” Kooh said with her hands to her chest.
    “I think my affection for you increased a bit there!” Axle said with a passionate look.
    “Keep it. Don’t want it,” The Governor muttered in response.
    “Hey TJ! What abou-”
    Before Thee could finish his sentence Axle slapped a hand to his mouth. At this juncture the Warrior’s hair was splayed and one of his eyes remained shuttered.
    “Shh! Don’t teach him anything about that. If we corrupt him with this sort of talk the Boss is gonna turn into a demon! Do you wanna get on her bad side?”
    Thee shook his head rapidly in response.
    Alicia looked disheartened.
    “Are you saying the rest of us are corrupted?” She asked.
    “No I mean we just turned into adults.” The Blader answered.
    “Same thing,” Su snickered.
    Cleo looked to Peorth and back to Axle.
    “Are you saying that she’s scary when she’s mad? But she looks like she wouldn’t hurt a fly!”
    “It’s the quiet ones you should be most afraid of Cleo.”
    She knit her brows.
    “I’ll…keep that in mind.”

    When night had rolled around the group got off the path and set up camp on the side of the road. José was taking the time to feed his prirings and the others sat around the fire as they had a meal.
    “Axle?” Cleo asked and he nodded in response. “I have a question. I hope it’s nothing too personal.”
    “Don’t worry about it. I don’t really have much to hide anyway, so ask away.” He answered with an affable smile.
    She nodded solemnly.
    “I remember when you were a part of Bastion…it may have been years ago, but I haven’t forgotten about you. Reina also said that there may have been a chance that we’d meet today.”
    She twiddled her thumbs as she mulled her thoughts over.
    “Anyway…I…I was wondering why you had left the guild.”
    He looked surprised. “Oh!”
    He put down his fork and placed a fist into an open palm.
    “I remember now!”
    “You…forgot?”
    “No, no I remember you now!”
    “Bad Ax,” Kooh said.
    She rapped him on the head with her fist and he laughed gently. Cleo looked rather dejected at the statement.
    “Man, how many years has it been? You look completely different now!”
    Ken, Thee and Alicia all gave him curious looks.
    “I didn’t know you were part of another guild Axle,” Thee said.
    “I’m actually a little bit curious about this too. Let’s hear that story.”
    “Hey, hey this isn’t about why I joined it’s about why I left. Though it’s not some tragic, action-fueled adventure.” The Blader grinned and laughed. “Truth be told, I figured whether I was there or not, Bastion’d be fine. It was a great place-I’m willing to bet it still is, but there’s something I needed to set my sights on.
    “With or without them, it would’ve been my main focus. It’s just that Reina and the rest of Bastion had a mission of their own that they needed to fulfill. In that sense, you could say our interests coincided, but she had a much wider spectrum of objectives, while mine was very limited.
    “I suppose you could say over the years, I got frustrated with myself and my inability to see that duty through. No matter how many times we busted those Dark Moon bastards, I could never find what it was I sought out and it got to me. Then somewhere along the way I met Belldandy.”
    He looked over to the guild master who sat with her Keruz and the Abellan. TJ talked animatedly while Peorth rapidly scribbled into a book and Kooh remained with her arms draped over the queen’s shoulders.
    “With just a single look she could tell that there was something about me. She scouted me out, asked me to confide in her and the next thing I knew…I was sold. I gotta hand it to her, she certainly had a way with words.
    “Anyway, Reina was actually pretty good about the whole thing. She knew the circumstances and apologized that she couldn’t be more help, but I don’t blame her. What she and the rest of you guys have done may have saved all of our bacon. I didn’t get to see you off then, but lemme’ apologize now.”
    He lowered his head apologetically.
    “I’m sorry that we had to part like that. It was selfish of me, but I had something important to do then, and that still holds true to this very day. ‘Til I see that duty through, I’m still gonna be running the gamut with these guys, and even after that I will. Both because I want to save the world, and because this is my home now.”
    He grinned.
    “It’s like having an extended family.”
    She nodded solemnly.
    “I’m sorry too. I wasn’t there to see you off that day. I wanted to find out why you had left, but our guild master had said it’s something best heard from the person himself. She told me she couldn’t tell it better herself, no matter how hard she tried.”
    Axle laughed heartily at those words.
    “She hasn’t changed at all over the years either huh? Good. She was a damn good guild master back then, and she could only get better. Just lacked the confidence of one up until after our raid.
    “Completely unrelated, but I used to have the biggest crush on her back in the day. Man her figure was burned into my eyes the first time I saw her, but I didn’t even stand a ghost of a chance with her. She’d probably been long since spoken for.”
    “Did you even bother asking her? Sounds like you quit halfway.” Su said as she shrugged.
    “Nope. I took one look at her and Salem and knew I was defeated.”
    The sound of sniffling drew his attention away from Cleo and to Alicia.
    “Whoa! What’s wrong Alicia?”
    “It’s just…it’s just…stories like these get me all teary-eyed,” She cried.
    “You can borrow my hanky.” Kooh said as she offered the item.
    “That’s pretty rough Axle,” Ken said.
    “You mean me piecing out or getting shot down?”
    “Both?”
    The Blader shrugged. “You know what they say, first come first serve.”
    “That’s a shitty analogy for romance,” Su sighed.
    “And it doesn’t exactly hold true in terms of guilds either…” Thee added.
    “Both of you can shut your traps! Who’s telling the story here?!” Axle snarled.
    “Better luck next time Ax!” Kooh said with a grin.
    He gave a dry chuckle as he looked into the distance.
    “Next time huh?”
    He closed his eyes as he placed his fingers to his chin thoughtfully.
    “I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. For the time being, I’ve gotta make the best of getting to boss around my cute subordinates for a day!”
    He wrapped his arm around Ken’s neck.
    “Do your best, Axle,” Cleo whispered under her breath.
    Kooh silently smiled both at the sound and sight.

    “Alright, the tent’s up and ready to go! Time to march men!” Axle shouted as he gestured to the tent. “What about you José? There’s enough room for all of us.”
    “You kids go ahead. I’ll sleep in the caravan.” José answered before he waved them off and climbed inside.
    Ken and Thee climbed into the tent but TJ was nowhere to be seen. The Blader scanned the area and caught a glimpse of him, fast asleep and gently leaning against the guild master. Though it was late, Peorth continued her illustrations-albeit slower than she previously had, but diligently nonetheless.
    “Hey Boss, what’re you still doing awake?” Axle asked as he approached. “The girls had gone to bed quite some time ago.”
    “Since TJ had fallen asleep, I did not wish to move him. He seems…comfortable.” Peorth answered in her regular tone.
    “You know, if you stay like that both of you are gonna catch a chill.” The blader said with a laugh. “Knowing you, chances are you wouldn’t move until he wakes up.”
    “That statement does hold some truth to it…” She placed her pencil down and placed as finger to her lips thoughtfully.
    “That statement is just down right concerning. I’ll take care of this guy so you can get up.”
    “You have my gratitude.”
    He picked up the Abellan and placed his torso over his shoulder. “No problem Boss. See you in the morning.”
    “Good night, Axle.”

    The following day the group began their journey anew, and as it continued on through the afternoon and into the evening they neared Lemanin.
    “We’re almost there guys. If you wanna take a glimpse just part the curtains near the front.” José told them all.
    The Angels and Powers all clamoured to get a look of the Haven and wound up toppling over each other as Peorth parted the curtains.
    In the distance the group could see the Haven Lemanin. Massive temples were scattered about the mountains along with houses reminiscent of those in Aoich. Towering pillars stood sentry before much of the buildings along with gates in an unfamiliar language. Plenty of people came and went throughout the streets and traded wares, while a few caravans came and went. The entire Haven was surrounded by clouds and basked in the heights of the mountainous region.
    “It looks amazing!” TJ shouted excitedly as he leaned over Peorth to get a better look.
    “First time you’ve come to a Haven ain’t it?” The guild master asked with a grin.
    He nodded sheepishly. “Yeah…just heard talk of them but to finally see one for myself…is it really all Cerebians here?”
    “Nothin’ but.” Axle answered with a grin. “After you visit a few of them you’ll get used to it.”
    “You’ve been to others before?” Ken asked with a hint of curiosity.
    “Oh yeah. Bastion used to spend a lot of its time in Ramalda back in the day. I came here once on a quest. Didn’t get to do too much sightseeing but I’m gonna change that!”
    “Yer’ duties come first Ax. If I find out ya’ were slackin’ I’ll have ya’ skinned alive,” Peorth said.
    “Have I ever told you I’m a man of duty? ‘Cause I totally am. 100 percent.”
    “That’s the spirit!” Kooh said with a smile.
    Once the group arrived in the plaza José brought the caravan to a halt.
    “Alright we’re here ladies and gents. Thanks for riding, and try not to get into any trouble while you’re here.” Jose said to the group.
    Each member of Yggdrasil gave their thanks as they disembarked from the caravan finally followed by Cleo.
    Axle turned to the Blader with a thoughtful look.
    “Now that we’re here, what’re you gonna do Cleo? You wanna tag along with us until you meet up with some of the others?” He asked.
    “Hm? Oh, I’ll be fine. I’ve already talked with my squad and we’re all going to meet up in a bit. I appreciate the offer though!” Cleo answered with a smile.
    “Alright, watch yourself out there. And say hi to the guys for me would ya’?”
    She saluted him and he grinned.
    “See you around Cleo.”
    “’Til next time Axle!”
    At that she began to walk off.
    Axle turned to the guild master.
    “So what’s next on our to-do list Boss?”
    It was hard to tell due to her fake glasses, but she seemed to be peering about cautiously before she decided to speak.
    “Our first order of business will to be establish a headquarters. I would recommend that we visit the Inn so that we may offload our equipment.
    “Following that, there will still be some time before we must assemble for the summit. You may consider it free time if you wish, so once our staying conditions are established you shall all be dismissed.” She placed a finger to her lips thoughtfully. “Axle, do you have the current time?”
    “It’s about four ‘o clock.”
    She nodded solemnly. “I see. TJ, Kooh, we shall have free time for about an hour, and use the final hour to make preparations. You know your given tasks, so once prepared we shall go to the grand hall together.
    “Axle, your team may take up to an hour and a half, but following that I would like you to immediately peruse the perimeter. By that point, the other guilds’ members should be patrolling also, so do not be alarmed if you should run into them. Confirming their guild and rank, should you have doubts, will provide you some clarity.”
    “Aye aye.”
    “With that said, let us proceed to the Inn. I had reservations prepared ahead of time.”
    Following Peorth’s lead the group made their way through the Haven while taking in the sights. There were magnificent statues of mythical creatures and stalls selling all sorts of food and merchandise. TJ looked around with a fondness for all there was, and an odd feeling of belonging. Though he was not a Cerebian per se, being among many gave him a homely feeling. It reminded him of the first time he had stepped into the Guild Room, basked in the ambient mana and the aura of his comrades in his arms.
    “You look positively happy to be alive TJ.” Thee said with a grin.
    “Hehe…think so? I’ve just got a great feeling here. It’s like a city in the clouds…it’s just so beautiful.” He answered with a grin.
    “There are very few Havens on Jienda, but I hope that you will get to see them all someday.” Peorth added as she removed her fake glasses and put on her real pair. “Each has a very distinct charm of its own, all while bearing some ties to the Human city it stands sentry to.”
    “They’re a sight for sore eyes. Especially Ramalda. Wouldn’t believe how many times I thought I was seeing a mirage when I tried to find that place.” Axle muttered with an exasperated expression.
    The group made their way up a couple of flights of stairs and came to another massive crimson building with a pair of tall crimson doors. Upon both were a pair of door knockers in bronze.
    The guild master reached out to one, but instead opted out for pushing the door. At her touch it slowly opened and she lead her companions in.
    The interior was gorgeous-the moment they stepped in they were met with a long red carpet that lead right to a stairwell to the upper floors. A second carpet ran from one side of the room to the other, each leading down a different hallway where cheerful voices rang out. The entrance had beautiful paintings hanging on the wall of various sceneries and on the ground potted plants. The very walls themselves were adorned with all sorts of beautiful designs such as creatures and patterns. Even the inn was a sight to behold.
    “I have retrieved our room keys, so let us make haste.” Peorth said as she showed them the items.
    Peorth was as diligent as ever. While TJ was taking in everything in sight she kept her cool and collected demeanour. He could not help but wonder if it was because she was familiar with the scenery, or because that just was the way she was on a normal basis.
    As they made their way up the staircase Peorth continued.
    “I have only rented two rooms since any more would be beyond our party’s limits. I can assure you that they are big enough to accommodate each respective group. Those being, our separate genders. TJ, Thee, Axle and Ken, you will be in the room across from our own. The other will be Kooh, Alicia, Suuba and myself. We must share the beds, but they are more than large enough for two or more.”
    “It’s a little nostalgic, doing something like that.” TJ said with a grin.
    How long had it been since he had to share a bed with Trinidell? It was a different location and with some new friends, but thinking back to those times made him somewhat happy. He had grown so much since then.
    Axle gave him a questioning gaze.
    “You shared a bed with someone? You didn’t get a leg up on us did you TJ?! You’re younger than me and you got some already? Traitor!” He grabbed him and violently shook him.
    “It…wasn’t…like…that!” TJ cried as his head bobbed.
    Thee walked over with a dark shadow cast over his face. He placed a single hand to TJ’s shoulder as he raised his head.
    “Explain and your pride as a man might be spared,” He said.
    “I just shared a room with another guy! We didn’t have enough for two then!”
    Both of them took their hands off of his shoulders. The former rubbed the back of his neck as he laughed heartily, while the latter crossed his arms and nodded with approval.
    “Was that it? You should’ve said so from the beginning,” Axle laughed.
    “There wasn’t enough time for that,” He sighed.
    “Stop teasing TJ you guys.” Alicia chuckled as she looked back.
    Peorth did not slow down in her stride but her face right up to her ears were flushed.
    The guild master stopped at rooms 350 and 351. She handed one of the two keys to Axle before she approached the former.
    “We shall reconvene here briefly.
    “I shall leave that in your care, Axle.” The guild master said before she unlocked the door. “Come along ladies.”
    “I’m gonna sit that out,” Su said.
    While Alicia and Kooh stepped into the room the guild master looked back with a puzzled look.
    “Is there a problem?”
    “Plenty. But I’ve got better things to do than getting into semantics with you.”
    She grinned as she turned away.
    “Besides, I’ve got a walking talking house right here, with way more space than that crammed closet they call a room. Later losers!”
    At those words she turned into a series of spheres and returned to the Heart of Yggdrasil.
    “You know,” TJ began, “despite how used to that I am, when you put it like that I feel weird.”
    “Ohh princes,!” She answered from within.
    “Can she see out of that thing? It’d be weird if she saw us all changing, don’t you think?” Ken asked as he knit his brows.
    “You’re a man aren’t you? Afraid that I’m gonna peep on you?” She snorted. “If it’s that much of a problem I’ll step out for you boys.”
    TJ looked down at his gem with a puzzled expression. At every word it seemed to light up and her voice seemed loud enough to reach the others, judging by their shocked expression.
    “I didn’t even know she could do that.” Axle said as he furrowed his brows.
    “That…makes two of us…” The Abellan muttered as he placed both hands to his chest.
    “I’m just feeling downright emasculated,” Thee groaned.
    “Well then,” Peorth said as she let go of the door and it closed behind her.
    “Alright boys, let’s get to it! Go, go, go!” Axle opened the door and gestured for them all to hurry in.
    The door to the girls’ room opened once more and Peorth appeared from within.
    “I have a request, Axle,” She said.
    “Sure Boss. What do you need me to do?”
    “Could you…perhaps help TJ along with his identity crisis? We have had some influence on him, but I would like for him to understand all sides of the spectrum. In doing so, he may find a greater sense of clarity as to what is most comfortable for him.”
    The Blader grinned. “So you want me to make him feel like one of the boys? You got it!”
    She smiled as the door slowly closed. “You have my gratitude.”
    He chuckled as he shook his head. “These two are really something else.”

    TJ looked around the room with awe. There were two gigantic beds, two bathrooms, a huge dresses with a mirror attached and a night table by each bed. There was even a couch big enough for maybe three or four of them. He thought of throwing himself on to the bed, but in front of everyone else he could not bring himself to do something that embarrassing. Peorth’s bed was an exception.
    “Thee!” Axle shouted and alerted all the guys.
    “What’s up Cap?” The Warrior asked as he looked over TJ’s shoulder.
    “We’re taking the Abellan hostage!”
    “W-what?!” TJ shouted as he looked at the two.
    “O-okay?”
    Thee and Axle charged at him. The Blader lifted him by his arms and the Warrior by his legs.
    “On three!” Axle began as he swung him to and fro. “One…two…three!”
    The two hurled him onto one of the beds and he landed with a gentle sound.
    His face remained buried in the sheets before he raised his head so his eyes peered over the bed.
    “That was completely uncalled for.” He muttered into the sheets.
    “It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there bud. You’ll get used to it.” Axle said with a grin.
    “I feel alive!” Thee said with a demonic grin.
    “Dog pile!”
    The two threw themselves on top of the Abellan and he let out an exasperated and pained groan.
    “You guys are heavy,” He groaned.
    “What’re you waiting for Ken? Get over here! Captain’s orders!”
    Ken knit his eyebrows.
    “Isn’t that power harassment? Or abuse or something?”
    “I live by a no rules lifestyle. Now then, better move before you wind up next!”
    Ken took his hat off and set it down on the dresser.
    “I don’t get paid enough to do this.”

    After a short while the girls exited their room and met with the boys. Axle leaned against the wall with a satisfied grin, Ken wore a guilty expression, Thee remained doubled over with a hand to his back and TJ sat against the floor, as if his spirit had left his body.
    “The summit hasn’t even started and you guys have already exhausted yourselves?” Alicia asked with a look of disbelief.
    “We’ve got energy to spare,” Axle said.
    “That makes…one of us…” TJ muttered.
    “Must be fun being a guy huh?” Kooh asked as she stepped out of the room and stretched.
    “You can be an honourary guy if you really want to. Just can’t guarantee your safety.” The Blader said with a devilish grin.
    She laughed. “Are you still mad about the pajama party Ax? We can have another with you if you like! But the offer isn’t changing.”
    “Come now you two,” Peorth said, “let us remain civil amidst our comrades.”
    The two agreed simultaneously while TJ struggled to his feet.
    “Now then, I take it that you have all finished your business since you are here now. As discussed, there are no current objectives that need be fulfilled, so you may all browse the Haven as you see fit. All I ask is that you do not forget your duties when the time approaches. Axle, I expect you to regroup with your party at that time.”
    “Of course.”
    TJ blinked solemnly, thoughtfully. Axle had a playful nature to him like Kooh, but when those two got serious they felt like completely different people. Was that one of the qualities of a leader?
    He thought back to the time he was in charge of the Pharaoh’s Chambers Investigation Party and wondered how he fared as a leader. What could he learn from those two? If Peorth had entrusted another mission to him, what would he do differently than last time? Would he succeed as a leader, or put his party in danger?
    After encountering Choen Palm again, it reminded him that the threat of death still lingered over all of their heads. If it were not for Peorth, he may have met a gruesome end along with his companions.
    That thought aside, of any of them Peorth had all the qualities, along with the title of guild master, queen and proxy. He would study her mannerisms, her choices, her actions, and aim to learn from them. The summit would certainly be a good opportunity to do just that.
    “Given that knowledge…I suppose there is naught left for me to say. Yggdrasil, dismissed!”
    “Let’s roll Thee. I hear the Havens have their own take on Yong Gyoung style grub and I’ve got a hankering,” Axle said.
    “W-wait! I’m coming too!” Alicia shouted while she ran after the two.
    “You’ve got a pretty big appetite for such a small girl,” Thee remarked.
    She hit and shushed him for his comment.
    “I’m gonna go look at the weapons and armour shops. See you guys later.” Ken said as he walked away and waved.
    “What are your plans TJ?” The guild master asked.
    “Me? None really.” He muttered as he scratched his cheek. “To be honest, if I went off on my own I’d probably just wind up getting lost.”
    The guild master nodded solemnly.
    “If you would like, you are welcome to join Kooh and I. Though it may not be to your tastes, we are going to look at a few clothing stores.”
    “If there’s at least two of us we might be able to convince Princess to wear a quipao!” Kooh said with her usual cheerfulness.
    TJ laughed. “I dunno about that, but I’d appreciate the company.”
    “The guild master smiled slightly. “Then let us be on our way. Perhaps we will find something fitting for you, TJ.”
    He gasped. “I’m gonna be honest with you Chief, I don’t think dressing up or being dressed up is really my thing.”
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Tue Feb 09, 2016 4:04 pm

    To Grandmother's house we go:
    Someone buy me a wonder core. I will give you my undying love in return. That's a steal, if I do say so myself!
    With that out of the way, let's get down to it?

    Gonna warn you now, there's a reason I don't do this in the middle of the week. It's because my thoughts are disorganized and the everyday hustle and bustle helps NONE. But people keep hurrying me to do things so this is a thing. I didn't have time to edit it either so you're gonna have to deal with that. I have more complaints but I'll set them aside for now.

    Soooo...I tried changing my style a bit to fix up my punctuation but I dunno how I feel about it. There are more pages, which is the way it SHOULD be but I dunno. I looked through a few different books for reference, but it seems like they all follow differing rules. I've checked three: one that follows this rule exactly, one that doesn't do it at all, and one that...semi follows it? I guess? I can't help but wonder if what I heard is a fact that's applied specifically to reporting and such things, or if its a rule that holds true for all, and perhaps not all authors follow it. They say you should find your own style, but I can't say for sure if that applies here too.
    In short, I find myself conflicted. Is following this path a part of the road to reaching the writer's hallmark? Or is deviating and pursuing the path I feel suits me the way I want to go? Just for clarity's sake, there's no particular deeper meaning to those questions. I mean them as is. My line of work-whichever path I follow, will require a clear understanding of writing in all its forms, and that which accompanies it. The things I mentioned before carry more weight everyday, and though I don't follow all of those rules here, I do apply them to my work. Alas, it's never so simple.

    But enough about my struggles. The story...where do I begin?
    TJ having a distinct love of the Abio Rangers stemmed from a one-off joke from his first trip(In Frequency, at least. Not in the whole of his journey) to the City of Iron. It became a headcanon, and then I adopted it into an actual thing. I think it's a nice little trait for a wannabe hero like him. It'll also make a great plot point when he learns the harsh truth that heroes are nothing like the ones in the television shows, potentially crushing his dreams. It's a good thing he doesn't believe in Iris Santa!
    As for Su, no matter how many years pass, she still won't like dresses. Without Beatrice the chances of her getting in one are slim to none. BUT. She'd look hella stylish in a suit. Peorth would be a good match for that too, but she only wears them on occasion. Better luck next time!
    Tbh, I think TJ could pull off a dress better than he could a suit(you know, jacket and all) but since the time for crossdressing(or you know, not crossdressing) isn't upon us, that's not happening. Originally he was supposed to wear a jacket, but I realized a suit vest would look waaaaay better.
    THIS IS WHAT I SPEND HOURS DOING. LOOKING AT DRESSES. I use to half-ass it in Frequency-so sooooo bad. I regret it to the day. Now I have to look up and coordinate the perfect outfits or I get extremely upset because of how mediocre I feel about it later. This is why I shouldn't be allowed to design characters. And yet, I keep on doing it. The Sinners were a mistake, and we're only through 2/7. The tears just keep flowing.
    Back on topic, I was actually thinking of having TJ wear the fedora but every time I look at one, first I get Nam flashbacks and then the outrage comes. The internet has annihilated that hat. Hence, how it resulted in Su throwing it at Kooh. That was my mental reaction.

    Moving on, I have to admit writing those guys was weird. Ken, among others was one of the few who didn't get much time to be fleshed out. Though Alicia sadly only had a few lines too. Axle and Thee are a bit easier to work with since the former respectively had appearances in USSR and in the Prologue of Sanc, along with Chapter 1. Thee was in Chapter 3 I believe. Or was it 2? Anyway, these guys finally got to be a bigger part of the main story, and I'm sure at least one of them will make an appearance again. As we're all aware, Axle has a sub-plot, and the others might appear on a mission.
    Anyway, Alicia knows about what happened in Elfa. Heck, though she wasn't mentioned at the time, she too was there among the others, so she knows what Choen Palm is capable of.

    As for Yong Gyoung, we see Rantien again. She's an NPC who appeared way back when lol. Lot of reminiscing going on. A lot a lot.
    As for the food, all of them are real things. I used the power of google and tried to pick foods out that seemed like they would fit the characters...rather than for symbolic reasons. Shame on me. It's complicated though...I mean, unless I went into detail about what each had got and what was in it(this isn't about cooking damn it! It's about a fantasy world with craptastic writing by me!) it would likely turn out rather lackluster. In my defense, there are a bunch of ingredients and ways of preparing the foods, leaving aside the names. That aside, the main focus was on what Peorth had to say which is a whole different can of worms I'll get to at some point today. Probably.

    Truth be told, I've wondered if the Cerebians are too light on their punishments. I mean, I'm not gonna say I advocate the death penalty, but if I was running down the street saying, "Hey world! I'm Matthew McConaughey!" some people would be questioning the credibility of my very existence.
    ...Bad example. Lemme' try that again. If I was to get on a train and hit the alarm, then when the police get there I'm like, "Listen to me everybody, I'm Jesus H. Christ!" I'd be put in the slammer, if not fined.
    Now of course, both of these examples are a little extreme nowadays. But when you consider our history? Not so much. We'd burn people at the stake for being suspected of witches. I'm talking humanity in general. Nobody gets away scott-free. Still...it's just a passing thought. I could go on for days about all the things wrong with our species but to hell with that. Nobody cares enough anyway.
    Point here is, perhaps fraud, for the Cerebians would carry a steeper punishment. Perhaps it might be a bit extreme. Some may agree, others not. The difficult thing here is, I would need to create a faction that would disagree with the beliefs of others. Such a thing would and could serve as a plot point, but if it doesn't escalate into anything that needs to be combated within the story's timeline, people would feel that it wasn't worth mentioning, right?
    Typical dilemma, probably not worth thinking too much about. As for the Cerebians themselves...well, when I initially created them it wasn't too diverse a race. Not like the other things I've come up with-back then I didn't know about naming conventions or give myself as much freedom. Perhaps my scope was too limited...I did improve but...at a cost, I suppose.

    Moving on! Jose and Cleo are again, members of Bastion. They only had one-liners during USSR, but I decide to give them the, 'Oh wow, I'm in need of characters for this scene so I might as well take some under-developed characters and slap something together' treatment. Now they exist, with physical bodies and stuff...instead of being guild chat notifications. Yeah!
    I'd like to do something with Miranda and Vincent...I put some effort into those guys. ...But it's been so many years I'm gonna have to redesign them. Changed my mind, can't be bothered.

    There's probably gonna be a shit storm over the discussion they had. Say what you will, but not even I could find it stereotypical of guys/girls. I handed in my SJW badge years ago and I STILL think this isn't half as bad as it could be. I write from experience, more often than not. I've heard this sort of talk before, been a part of it, it's whatever.
    And I'll be damned if anyone's got a problem with it! The society I live in LIVES for this shit. You can't turn the corner without seeing a half-dressed dude all up in your face. Seriously.
    Before I get on my soapbox and begin a rant for the ages I'm going to stop myself here. One way or another, whether I find it shitty or not, that's just society. I've no intention of changing it...not that I could. I'm not the POTUS so playing jenga with the economy is beyond me. People do this shit for a living, and it's been that way for longer than I've been on this nightmarish planet. My meager existence isn't gonna change something that major, and if it did, there'd be hell to pay. Hell I'd rather not pay.
    I don't like it. I could tell you all the reasons why but I'm still trying to find out the rules for my very being here. It's complicated and contradictory and upsetting. But that's humanity in a nutshell. Go figure.
    There is one point I'd like to discuss though-the end of the convo. What Axle said, followed by Su isn't entirely untrue. Adulthood changes people. What 'adulthood' means will differ from person to person, but there's a lot we learn in our adolescence. I suppose you can't expect to live in Wonderland all you're life, but truth be told, we shouldn't make the world as toxic as we have thus far. There's a difference between waking from a dream, and waking to a nightmare.

    As for Axle's story, there's a lot that could be said about that, but lemme put it this way.
    Imagine if you're part of an army. They're all fighting for their country-but you? You're fighting for your family. Just them. Some might say it's a pretty reasonable goal. Others will say its selfish. What do you think? How would you feel if you were him? If you were an ally of his?
    To live such a life could almost be stifling. Sooner or later, you might start thinking that you're holding the others back. When you're surrounded by people all with the needs of the many in mind, and you're only thinking of the few, you'd feel out of place, no?
    I won't say Yggdrasil is a different case, but it's a guild that's even smaller than Bastion. Despite their end goal, their focus is in fact, the needs of the few. Peorth can't be running around and hunting the Dark Moon's forces with her comrades because her focus is the major pieces of the puzzle. The God's Governors and their trials, defeating Choen Palm, rescuing the Abellan, getting the HoY and eventually defeating Asmodeus. Though it may be something on the side, searching for Roll is something within their spectrum. Reina couldn't likely dispatch her members to peruse every part of the continent for one girl when they need larger forces to combat a large force. To top it off, she has to manage all of them, and unlike with Yggdrasil their parties aren't just based around simple party mechanics-they need a commander to lead them and to keep order among their ranks.
    This turned into a rant. Gdi.

    So Lemanin is finally a thing. I wanted to keep it to Yong Gyoung's aesthetic, which of course has a lot of its basis in Chinese culture. Hence the food choices, the design of the buildings, etc. I could never properly do the actual country justice, really, let alone any of the others. But it's fears like that, that prevented me from trying in the past. Representation isn't easy when you don't know much-true, having access to the internet DOES make it easier, but having some basis or sources from the place itself is much better.
    Unless you're me. If you ask me what my country's like I'll give you THE MOST stereotypical explanation in the world. Bacon, maple syrup, igloos. And Tim Horton's. Still, it's a mixing pot so wherever you're from doesn't matter to me. But that's not important right now.
    I did a bit of research-nothing too extravagant. I learned a few things that could be of use, some not so much, and decided to apply them. What you might see here would only scratch the surface of the culture. Alas, as much as I'd like to dive into the depths of it, or apply more to the story it could become more a distraction than anything else. Not the good kind either. If the story was based there, or if I had built the place from the ground up with some reference, then perhaps I'd go deeper. Considering how Frequency is, short introductions of places, people, and maybe a bit about the lifestyle usually suffices. Being too descriptive can bore readers, from what I hear so I'm wary of such things.
    I've considered names though. Typically I don't decide on them based on where they're from...which I wonder if it's better or worse. Some characters have circumstances, but for NPCs and whatnot(unless I made them up) they keep their original names. I'm debating on the G.G of Wind's name, whether it should be a traditional name or one of my choosing/making. Unfamiliar names, to a reader can bring conflicting feelings. Like Hermione. Didn't know how to pronounce it until someone in the book mentioned it. Go figure.
    On the other hand, of late I've met plenty of people who's names I couldn't pronounce if my life depended on it. It's not all that unusual here, really. Unless their names get Americanized or whatever? I don't know enough about that to talk in detail but I have heard a bit about it, and read about related things during my studies.
    At the end of it all, humanity is complex and more of a pain to understand than I'm willing to put the effort for at times. Still, as I always say, there's a lot I don't know, am learning, and share with you here. This long, grueling process we call life. The road to success...and the road to assimilation, I suppose. Then again, sometimes you get guys like me who stray from the beaten path and fall out of line. Better? Or worse? To this day, I dunno. If I find out though, I'll let you know.

    Tbh, I have mixed feelings about Peorth's accent. There's plenty of accents you can have when you speak English, but a lot of them depend on where you come from. I've heard enough to get a pretty good idea of what they can be like, and heck, I even met someone who spoke in their original accent. After living here a few years, you wouldn't believe it if you heard it. Though my family is the same way. I might've been born here, but they certainly weren't. It makes you think...and trust me, I put a lot of thought into these things. I won't say that the elimination process was long and painful because that's something I just don't have the time for. I picked the least harmless sounding one, and that which may have fit best. Will everyone agree? Hell no. Can I accommodate everyone? Hell no.
    That's the most difficult part. That was my biggest mistake in writing Frequency also. My own vanity lead me to creating what was to be the antithesis to any and all cliches/reasons for complaint at the time. But time changes things...changes people...and I got swept up in the flow. Didn't know what I was in for, and here I am now. Hell of a ride.

    You know, the way I use 'boys' and 'girls'(leaving Su's mockery aside) gives me mixed feelings here. i could use men and women, but somewhere between 2012 and now referring to women as...well women started to sound vaguely insulting and I remember having some sort of inner turmoil about it. It may have been a part of what began my SJW crusade. Though most of those years have become a blur to me. ...For better or worse.
    As for why Thee said he felt emasculated? That was a thing that happened. Sort of. Someone I know said that after we got our asses handed to us in something. ...That's an understatement. We got styled on. It was that bad. Funny, but mostly sad.
    As for what the guys did? Ehh...it seems like something out of one of those frat boy college movies doesn't it? I saw a lot of those growing up lol. College was nothing like I expected it to be. I'm not saying I wanted to be a frat boy, but it was a stupid childish perception is all! Moving on! I mean more importantly, it was an extreme. It wasn't something I saw through a writer's perspective, but rather through Axle's. He, like Kooh tend to do extreme things, but just as TJ speculated, they have self-control. So much so they could be either seen as the clowns of Yggdrasil or the best leaders second only to the guild master. To play-fight, dog pile, wrestle, all that sort of junk younger boys would likely do. Axle doesn't know TJ's actual age, and his disposition gives him the air of a young boy, hence why he responded in such a way.
    I mean really. There's a reason we teach our sons and daughters about the birds and the bees instead of introducing them to porn. Speaking of, some people need to grow up already damn it. Things are freakin' backwards around here and people are immature about it. Grown men/women too.

    The more I think about this stuff, the more upsetting and puzzling it becomes to me. The sad part is, I need to know it. My line of work requires it, and even more so when I consider my other options. One wrong move and bam! Lawsuit. My life's in the trash can in all of a moment.
    I'm not here to talk about that. Shiiiiit.

    Last thing, since there's not much left(seriously, I put 2 days worth of work into this update. What's the hurry?) Just 'cause one gender says or does something in this story, doesn't mean the other can't. Boys can have pajama parties.
    Oh to hell with it. Let's be real here, if I was advocating for one side over the other, I wouldn't have turned the main character into a potential trap/reverse trap. That word is also offensive, among many of the other things I've said here. Watched that speech by Trump that was in the news today, btw. The president(?) we deserve, but not the one we need right now. Turns out it wasn't on the test. Shame on me.
    Back on topic! One of the things I love about Peorth, is that she doesn't give a damn what gender TJ identifies as. Her only care is that he finds solace in the identity he chooses, and is by her own hand, and that of her comrades to help him to feel a bit better about not knowing. That's love. The right kind, not the bullshit kind. It's out of the norm, and that's EXACTLY what I wanted it to be, because I have zero fucks to give whether or not people like it. Sometimes people are too afraid of change to act, but my lifetime isn't gonna be enough to fix all that's wrong. Hell, I might make it worse. But if I live to see a day where things don't suck complete ass for those who aren't interested in being male/female, it could be worse. ...That statement might be contradictory to the character. Though his struggle isn't about identifying as neither-that's a story and a struggle for someone else to take up. I don't think I could give that a proper form.
    But hell, who am I but some guy, right? If you find out, lemme know! 'Cause I'll be damned if I do.

    Anyway usually my rant would go here but due to popular demand it won't!
    With that said, I'm out! Until next time!
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Sanctuary

    Post  TJ on Tue Mar 01, 2016 6:14 am

    Gonna be real with you here. There's a good chance we're gonna go the way of the Allagans.
    RIP in peace Humanity.

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    Re: Sanctuary

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