Under Shattered Skies Refrain

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    TJ

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

    Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Mon Jun 30, 2014 9:45 am

    I started the project(finally) and I have to say it's coming along steadily. I'll post what I've got thus far.

    Pages 1-12:
    Under Shattered Skies Refrain
    “Warriors,” Warlord Carmen roared. Men and women clad in leather stood tall at the command of their superior. “Salute!” The moment the word went out their hands were raised as she walked past them and inspected each and every one, she gave them a nod for approval. “I've told you runts before but we're gonna be expecting a very special guest today. Some of you were just little squirts the last time he came around so you don't know he is so I'm gonna tell you. The brother to our village's most renown member will be arriving today and I expect all of you to show respect and courtesy for him. Not only are you representing Xenym, you're representing all warriors in it. If any of you decide to fuck around, I'll make you regret it until the very day you graduate, and remember it years later. Got it?!”
    “Sir yes sir,” The warriors shouted in unison.
    “Good.” Warlord Carmen plunged her broadsword into the ground and blew her bangs aside. A questioning glare from her deep mahogany eyes searched the warriors before her. “Any questions?”
    One of the boys in the crowd raised a hand and the Warlord's eyes darted to him. “Permission to speak Wardlord Carmen!”
    Her head tilted to him as she rested an arm on the sword, her black fishtail braid swayed in the opposite direction. “Granted.”
    “Julius' brother must be an adventurer if he's outside of the village. Is he an alumnus of the village?”
    Warlord Carmen snorted and smirked. “Alumnus? You wish. He trained our very own Meryl and most of the other alumni Treasure Hunters. He was a Treasure Hunter before most of you were even in your mother's wombs. Get over yourself.” She tilted her neck and sheathed her blade, surveying her warriors once more. “Enough chit-chat. I want you weaklings to be in top form. A hundred reps on the double!”
    Warlord Carmen's intense training continued while preparation across the village proceeded.

    Just a little ways off from Xenym in the snowy wasteland that it resided in, a small archery range was set up, consisting of a set of targets scattered across a small set of mounds and a group of benches for the archers to rest. Some were practicing while others sat on the benches and discussed the upcoming event.
    “I heard Samson isn't a Mage like Julius is. Is it true that he was our teacher's teacher,” One of the younger boys asked.
    “It's the truth! Though Julius is crazy strong I heard he has no magical ability! But he's one of the best Treasure Hunters our village has ever seen. You think he'll teach us some of his tricks?” A female archer answered tightly holding onto a bow.
    “Please don't trouble Mr. Kolb when he arrives students! He's a very busy man!” A small lady with her chestnut hair tied in twin pigtails that bounced as her body did, waving her small arms to get her students' attention. A quiver drifted by her and she fell backwards, her whole body quivered yet the mentor remained frozen in place. One of the boys placed the quiver over his shoulder and shouted an apology as he drew and nocked an arrow.
    “Stop messing with Meryl guys! You know how jumpy she is,” One of the girls shouted at the two.
    “Are you okay Meryl?” Another of the girls offered her a hand and helped her to her feet.
    “You have to respect your elders!” She remarked as she rose to her feet with the offered help. She dusted the snow from her pants and glared at the class with the intensity of a small animal. “It's Ms. Ambrosia okay?” Much to her dismay very few students paid her complaints any mind.
    “You're too cute to be a teacher Meryl. That's why everyone calls you by your first name.” The girl said bouncing the teacher's twin tails in the palms of her hands.
    “Word is that Samson used to call her Ms. Ambrosia when she was his student,” One of the boys chimed causing the teacher's face to flush.
    “Stop goofing around!”
    A young lady with shoulder-length platinum blonde hair gently wrapped her arms around the teacher's neck and rested her head atop hers with an impish smile. “Still got an eye for ol' Sammy eh Meryl?” She asked. “We might be teacher and student but I know a rival when I see one. Trust me on this one, Les always gets her man.”
    Meryl slipped out from her students grip and pouted, face-to-face. “Alessa illicit relationships between teachers and students is wrong! I cannot allow you to do such a thing!”
    Alessa wore a look of mock surprise, her only visible sapphire open wide while the other remained hidden behind her bangs. “Illicit? Definitely. But he's not a teacher anymore. He might still be your teacher, but he's a man within my strike zone. One more year and I can do illicit things with him behind closed doors. Legally, of course.”
    “Alessa please, in less than a year you'll be deemed a professional archer and sent to the fields. You need to set an example for the younger generations! Also you must refrain from troubling Mr. Kolb. I won't give you another warning!”
    “Don't you worry Meryl, we'll make sure Alessa doesn't get her grubby paws on Samson.” A female student suggested.
    “Then we'll take him for ourselves!” Another girl cackled.
    “Is that supposed to be reassuring?!” Meryl cried. “As your teacher and a citizen of upstanding morals I will ensure that you do not taint the minds of the children amidst us.”
    “You tell 'em Meryl!” A male student cried out.
    “We'll protect you Meryl!” Another shouted shortly afterwards.
    “Protect me from what?”
    Alessa chuckled. “You've got so much to learn Meryl. I'm gonna teach you the ABCs of love.” Her shuttered eye seemed to smile at the teacher.
    “I'm your teacher Alessa. You seem to forget that every other day of the week.”

    Samson
    Samson looked up from his brown winter boots to the world ahead and caught sight of the gates and borders of Xenym, a second home to him. How long had it been since he had come home to the place? It seemed as chilly and deserted as usual, and he would have it no other way. Leaving his brother and sister in law's sides to traverse the continent; he hunted monsters, sought out legendary treasures and made some short-term companions but lifelong friends. He had many stories to tell, and after catching word that he would be an uncle in a matter of months he had to return to see the child before her birth. He had one more family member to share his grand tales with, and one that he would cherish with all his heart.
    As he neared the gates one of the men standing guard took a glimpse at him and raised any eyebrow. “State your business stranger.” He said coolly.
    Samson removed his fedora and held it to the brown trench coat he wore, offering a travel weary smile to the guardsmen of the gate. His chestnut beard gently blew in the gust of wind as he said, “Just a traveller looking for a bowl of soup. Your stock wouldn't be too low for one more, would it?”
    The guardsmen lifted the visor to his helm and blinked. “Samson? My eyes aren't deceiving me are they?”
    “If you've a mirror on your person, I could double-check if you'd like. If not you could ask your partner over there.”
    The other guard standing adjacent to the first perked his head at the comment and turned his head to the two in a robotic manner. “That...is the real deal. If I've ever seen one,” He said stiffly.
    “Have I become an endangered species? Perhaps I need a bodyguard. Would you two like to become sellswords?”
    “I prefer a quiet life out here in the tundra.” The first guard said with a toothy grin. “Though if I could join you on your adventures, I'm sure I'd receive an earful upon my return.”
    The second guard planted his spear firmly in the ground and uttered, “I-it's our duty to protect Xenym! So long as Xenym needs skilled soldiers I'll stay!”
    Samson grinned. “Fresh meat hmm? Right out of the textbook, this one, and not even a man of sixteen. You're a good kid. Train him well, hmm?”
    “Absolutely. So long as he's under my watch he'll only receive the finest.” Samson offered an approving nod and the guard turned to the gate. “Open the gates!”
    The sound of gears turning caught the traveller's attention as the familiar sound of the massive wooden doors creaked open and enabled him access to the small village within. Upon taking the first few steps into Xenym he found warriors that lined the pathway towards his old classmate Esther Carmen. She stood proudly between her students wearing the same smug grin that she was renown for back in his youth. Confidence was her sword, and her inherent skill was her shield throughout their years, and even now it still remained.
    “It's about time you came back to our little village Sam. While you were gone I turned these boys into men. None of them can hold a candle to me yet but I think they could give you a run for your money.”
    Samson approached and raised an eyebrow. “Is that a challenge Esther? You know only fools would make bets against Treasure Hunter. Nobody knows how to score coin like us,” He said. He drew a coin and flicked it, then caught it with a smirk.
    “You've certainly become more confident in the time you spent goofing about Jienda. Should I be surprised?”
    “You could feign it, if you'd be so kind. I'd certainly appreciate i-” The sound of footsteps and the wind being split caused Samson to turn on his heel and catch a greatsword with both hands, his eyes wide. “Well! That was dangerous, if I do say so myself!” His hands trembled beneath the weight of the blade.
    The young man behind the weapon pulled away and sheathed it as he let out a sigh of defeat. “Since I heard you were coming I've been practicing day in and day out. I was sure today would be the day that I caught you off guard. Still not good enough huh?”
    The adventurer wiped his brow and chuckled. “I'd say you're much better than you think Virgil. You were so close to catching me off guard you'd have split my head like a watermelon.”
    Warlord Carmen placed a hand to her face and let out an exasperated sigh. “Do you two morons have any idea how much of an uproar would be caused if one of my warriors split the head of God's Governor's brother? I'd be knee deep both in shit and in paperwork! That and you'd make a bloody mess.”
    Virgil scratched the back of his head, his hand lost amidst the tousled chestnut strands. “Sorry Warlord Carmen. We've done this for so long that it's become a sort of greeting for us.”
    “You think I don't know that? I've been training you into the man you are now for years Squirt. I've seen this moronic scene play out enough times that I can predict it, but I swear one of these days this guy will die by your sword and not by the hands of some Agasura.”
    “It's the price a solo adventurer has to pay at times my dear Esther. I won't likely come across a sparring partner during my adventures, so should I come across a human or humanoid Agasura, I'll be ill-prepared to battle it. Your students should understand this also. So in light of that, think of me as a student in your presence; just as your students go through your intensive training, I shouldn't be exempt.”
    “Hmph. I guess you have a point. If they can't protect themselves they're not worth teaching.” She looked at Virgil and clicked her tongue. “Always were one is one of the fiercest of all these girls. Always picking fights, always kissing dirt, and always rising to fight some other warrior. You've got guts. It's no surprise that you'd choose to challenge Samson too.”
    “I can handle these guys until they come at me in groups of three or four,” Virgil muttered. “If it's this old guy he might put up a proper fight with just himself alone. Give me five minutes and I'll prove that I'm ready to be promoted and put out on the field Warlord Carmen!”
    “Did I raise a whiner? I don't think so. You'll get promoted when I say you're ready Squirt! Now get out of here.” Upon the Warlord's request the young man made his exit and took his place among the other warriors. Carmen looked at Samson again and grinned; she placed a hand on his shoulder as she walked past him. “It was good seeing you again Sam. Don't you go getting yourself killed out there yeah? I expect to see you back here to give these kids a few lessons. Especially your niece.”
    He cracked a smirk in turn and closed his eyes. “Count on it Esther.”
    She looked over her shoulder and grinned devilishly. “Samson, you said you wanted to be treated like a student under my watch right? We're going for training! Why don't you get that ass into gear and join us?”
    He snapped out of his reverie and smiled wryly. “Who me? No no I couldn't! I may have said that but time is a commodity after all! There are still many people and places I need to visit!”
    “When you decide you're ready for some real action you come see me!” She began to jog on the spot and turned her head to face her class. “Alright you pansies! I wanna see you sweat!” With a wave of her hand the warriors immediately broke out into a jog following closely behind their mentor.
    Samson took a moment to watch them make their way towards the gate and exit briefly after then looked upon the village. Nothing had changed in the slightest. The tailor's shop looked as old and run-down as always, but the owner was no less kind. Though the market was small, they would always offer him the special on his visits. The bazaar always brought new and interesting things from the other Havens across Jienda, and the library held a couple of old friends Samson had really grown attached to despite his infrequent visits. He gazed upon it longingly for a moment, and decided he would visit the temple before going to see them. With all the ruckus from his arrival, they certainly would be expecting him soon.
    As he walked through the village the passerby would greet him with a wave or a shout and he would reply in kind. Xenym was always known as one of the most easy-going of the four Havens; though as far from the civilizations of humans as the others, it remained the smallest and had seen very few travellers. He approached the temple, a worn-down but resilient white building resting behind a gate with a large arch. Opening the gate and closing it as he entered, he ascended the stairs and steadily opened the door, taking a moment to glance around the building to see if the pastor was in.
    “Hello!” As he entered he closed the doors behind him and the sound of the winds died down in the wake of the two meeting. He had received no response and deemed the temple to be empty. He walked past the pews and down the aisle towards a statue resting upon a small within a small portion of the wall that was carved out to house it. Samson never considered himself to be a religious man, but for his family and all those he held dear he would not hesitate to say a small prayer or two for their safety and well-being. As he clasped his hands together he thought of all the fighters, young and old, Carmen and Virgil, little Alessa and Meryl, Hazel and her daughter Reina, and most of all his brother Julius and sister-in-law Rosetta. Lastly their daughter to be. He looked upon the white statue of the winged goddess; harp in hand smiling back at him, he nodded with ease and rose to his feet. He was truly blessed to have what he did, and he would not give anything in the world for it.

    As Samson exited the temple he found himself swarmed by archers of all ages and genders, the top of Meryl's head and her tiny arms flailing to call her soldiers to order.
    “Everyone settle down and line up properly!” Meryl's voice cried out amidst the shouts of excitement from her students.
    “Now now everyone! I can't talk to you all at once.” Samson said gesturing for them to calm down.
    “Sammy! The love and light of your life is over here!” Alessa waded her way through the crowd of archers. As her progress came to a halt she began to push and shove to reach her desired destination. After she arrived at the front of the crowd she leaped at the adventurer and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Did'ja miss me? I won't forgive you if you were seeing other girls.”
    Samson chuckled dryly. “Come now Alessa, we've never had such a relationship. I am glad to see that you're well, but I'd appreciate it if you weren't winking at me secretively.”
    “You could tell? Your eyes are still good Sammy. Now why are you denying our love? It might be illicit right now but it won't be long before we can be recognized you know.”
    He sighed and followed it with a weary smile. “There's no our in my Alessa. You should know that better than anyone else. Also it's not just the fact that it's illicit that I refuse to reciprocate it. I've been good friends with your mother and father for years now. I have no interest in their daughter.”
    “Oh come now. So what if mom will be jealous that I bagged an older and more handsome man than she did? No offense Dad. Haven't you ever heard the adage 'It doesn't matter as long as there's love'?”
    “That's not an adage. That's a phrase. And please, don't call me old. I prefer mature.”
    “Stop hogging Samson all to yourself Alessa!” The nearest girl to Samson cried out.
    “Don't be jealous! After our first date I claimed him so you'll have to get your own man!”
    “First date? What date?” The adventurer asked with knit eyebrows.
    “You forgot? We went out for a fancy dinner a few years ago. It was just you, me, and our candlelit dinner.”
    “I think you've got things a little mixed up. If my memory serves me, it was you and your companions; I was watching the three of you while your parents and many others attended a very important meeting with the school board. We had a barbecue, and you were no older than nine.”
    “Shh Sammy they don't know that. The less competition I have the better it'll be for the both of us.”
    “You're the only one of Meryl's students who acts in such a way Alessa.” She really did, though years ago when she was still a little girl it seemed that she had a father complex, since her own father was often working long hours. Before he knew it she had grown strangely attached to him, and as she aged declared that the two would be married. Samson had believed that upon his long adventures she would give up on such a ridiculous concept and take a fancy to one of the boys in her class. He was wrong, and he began questioning exactly how serious she was about her interest in him.
    “Where did you learn to use both the bow and dagger Mr. Samson? Can you teach me some of the skills you learned?” A boy asked out with a wave of his hand.
    “I can teach you everything you need to know, one on one.” Alessa responded.
    “For real?!”
    “I need extra lessons too!” Another archer shouted.
    “Just kidding!” There was a collective groan amidst some of the boys, while the girls rolled their eyes.
    “Mr. Kolb please stop flirting with my students!” Merly awkwardly waded her way through the crowd and took her place in front of the teacher; her students retreating a short distance in droves to see the reunion play out, Alessa still holding on to him with a questioning gaze.
    “Ms. Ambrosia? Ah...it's been far too long.” His eyes shuttered and he smiled gently at the teacher's half-baked glare.
    Her gaze softened while she placed her hands behind her back and gazed away with a beet red face. “You...you remembered.” In his days as a teacher he always called her Ms. Ambrosia despite being her upperclassman. Though they were separated by a difference of less than ten years he was promoted to being the teacher of the Treasure Hunters, youths and young adults alike due to his innate talent. She was his best student, and one that professed she admired him before graduating the class.
    “You haven't changed at all since the last time I visited. You're still the same height and the same Meryl I fondly remember. I love the hairstyle; it really gives you an air of youth about you. I'd almost think you a student if I didn't know you personally!”
    She looked shocked, then flustered while she glared at him over her glasses. “I'm a teacher now Mr. Samson so continue to address me as one if you would be so kind! It would also be proper you to inform us prior to your arrival so we don't have any lesson plans prepared.” Her eyebrows sunk as she gazed at him over the rim of her glasses. “Only telling Julius and Rosetta is rather unfair, don't you think? All of the students were in an uproar when they heard a rumour that you would be in town. I've never seen them so enthused about their archery and weapons practice before.”
    “You're a real hot commodity amidst the girls around here you know Sammy. If you really wanted to, you could have them all and I can tell you how if you promise to make me your number one. I can even tell you how to make Meryl fall head over heels for y-”
    “Alessa!” The teacher cried and shot the girl a dirty look.
    The girls swarmed the teacher and grabbed Alessa, covering her mouth and prying her hands from Samson, leaving him shaken up.
    “You certainly have a...uhh...interesting group of students Ms. Ambrosia.”
    “Please don't tease me Mr. Samson. I know they're yet to be disciplined.”
    He let out a roar of laughter surprising a majority of the group. “Disciplined? Is that what you're most concerned about Ms. Ambrosia?” She tilted her head quizzically. “Here's some advice from a retired teacher to his adorable underclassman. You don't need to spend all of your time and energy 'disciplining' the students. Teach them the tricks of the trade, give them room to grow and let them enjoy what they do. Tough love might be necessary at times, but not all the time. Remember, we're teaching these children and young adults to be Treasure Hunters.” He offered her a grin and placed a hand on her shoulder. “A strange barista in training told me this gem, 'An adventure becomes nothing more than a journey when you stop enjoying it'. What you're doing right now is perfect, Meryl. Don't doubt your teachings, and have some confidence in yourself. If I was a disciplined Treasure Hunter do you think I'd have turned out like this?”
    Tears welled up in her eyes and she quickly wiped them away with the sleeves of her cardigan. “How could I ever take you seriously? You always mess around so much then decide to act like a proper teacher on a whim. That hasn't changed about you in the slightest.” Her lips curled into a smile. “That explains why our class was always so chaotic.”
    “Ha! I wouldn't have it any other way.”
    One of the boys nudged another and whispered something in his ear, leading others to get in on the secret. In the heat of the moment the first shouted, “What are you waiting for Samson? Kiss her!”
    “Lay one on her,” Another said.
    “Don't keep her waiting Samson!” A girl shouted.
    Alessa removed the hand from her mouth and cried out, “Adultery!”
    “You guys, that's enough!” Meryl cried out with a flushed face as she gestured for them to calm down. Her words were lost amidst the crowd's cries of excitement.
    “Looks like you're not being given much choice Ms. Ambrosia. Will you give the people what they want?” This time around he tilted his head and smiled.
    “Please don't encourage them Mr. Samson! We have to be role models for the students.”
    “I don't approve!” Alessa roared from somewhere within the crowd, or at the very least something akin to her showing mock anger. “I demand indecency between Sammy and I or none at all!”
    Samson laughed. “Alessa has spoken! The peons shall bend to the will of the queen.” There was a collective groan amidst the students.
    “I have another demand! I mean royal decree! Sammy will come play at the archery range!”
    “Why is that?” “
    “So I can become your top student's favourite student in your eyes.”
    He was left speechless, somewhere between a mix of confusion and understanding. The amount of people that could speak 'Alessa' were far and few between. He considered himself lucky and cursed that he could, but took a small amount of pride in it nonetheless. “O-okay? I can make the time, though we're going to have to part before the sun goes down. I still need to visit Reina and Hazel before the library closes.”
    “Hold on a sec'!” Alessa rushed to his side after breaking free of her classmates and leaned in to Samson's ear.
    “W-what is it?” He asked reluctantly.
    “I made a bet with Rei-Rei on whether or not Virgin would be able to catch you off guard this time. Who won?”
    “I did; he did well though, nearly killed me.”
    She slowly backed away from him while she pointed and muttered, “This is our secret Sammy. Rei-Rei doesn't have to know. Mmk? Mmk.”
    The adventurer laughed uneasily as Alessa shifted into the crowd waving her arms in such a way to indicate her disappearance, while she slowly crouched down. Some things really never change.
    Meryl's students surrounded Samson again and pulled him towards the archery range with their teacher in tow, one hand rested upon her elbow and the other her shoulder; her eyes closed, face bright red and a bright smile that he could not see.
    “Alright you kids watching? Lemme' show you how a pro gets it done.” Samson told them with an arrow nocked in a willow bow and an eye closed, the other remained focused on a bullseye. He let the arrow loose and it flew past his target with great ferocity. “Practice shot! Nothing but a practice shot.” He drew another arrow from his quiver and nocked it. The arrow took flight and missed the bullseye by a large margin. “Ah...excuse me while I have an existential crisis.”
    “I heard you were the best back in your day Sammy. Your edge has dulled huh?” Alessa snickered.
    “Cherry on the cake Kiddo.” Meryl snickered quietly nearby and Samson turned to her waving his bow with a frown. “Time to show up your teacher Meryl! Come over here and make an example out of me.”
    “Oh no I couldn't...” Meryl muttered. One of the female students brought a short bow and quiver while a male student pushed her towards where Samson stood.
    “Still wanna object? The kids are waiting for you.”
    She furrowed her brows but his typical smile was not shaken. “If this is really what you want...” She raised the bow and drew an arrow. As she pulled back the string she gazed at her target and immediately let the arrow loose once she had reached the string's maximum length. The arrow soared towards the bullseye and struck it right in the center, leaving her entire class in awe while Samson nodded with approval.
    “You were the top of the class for a reason.” The class immediately broke out into cheers and chants as they crowded around their teacher letting questions fly faster than she could respond. “You should take a page from your teacher's book.”
    Alessa glanced up at the adventurer and smiled. “You can learn a lot from Meryl too, Sammy.”
    He smiled wryly and shifted his gaze off into the distance, “Touche. I was always better with daggers, after all. Alright kids, time for me to show off. Gather 'round and I'll share some tricks with all of you.”

    The class was coming to an end and Meryl had managed to get her class in check so Samson could go about his business.
    “You've got some real talent here Ms. Ambrosia.” He cracked a smile. “Xenym is in good hands.”
    Meryl brushed a few stray hairs from her eyes and glanced across her class that watched her with bright eyes in turn. “We are responsible for our home and the lives of others, just as they are us. We can't put the responsibility entirely on Julius and Rosetta. Not just them, though,” She closed her eyes for a moment and held her bow to her body. “You, and many other adventurers out there in the wide world fighting for the futures of the refugees too. Though far, we're all working in conjunction to protect this world we love so dearly. I wish we could do something more for you but we can only offer you our hospitality and a warm welcome upon your return.”
    Samson snickered. “What more could a traveller ask for?”
    She knit her eyebrows and he raised his, his expression awaiting an answer. Meryl took a deep breath and took his hand and reached into her pocket with her other. Placing a closed fist on the palm of his hand, she opened it and placed a hair tie in his hand. A soft green elastic with a tiny gold compass placed upon it was given to him. The symbol of a true Treasure Hunter.
    “I know it isn't much but perhaps it could be of use to you. It's small and I'm sure it won't get in your way. It can keep your hair out of your eyes also.” Her voice seemed to brighten a little as she finished speaking.
    “For me? Don't mind if I do.” He reached behind his head and tied his hair into a ponytail. “So? How do I look?”
    The boys began whooping and most of the girls joined in with cheers, some daring enough to cat call.
    “It looks wonderful.”
    Samson chuckled. “Thanks Meryl. Now I can kill Agasura in style and see where I'm aiming while I do it too.”

    Shortly afterwards Samson made his way to a tiny building in the heart of the village, resting beside the general store. As he walked past a wispy old man gave a gentle wave and he smiled in turn with a salute. He approached the double doors and pulled one of the handles to enter and glance around the rows of shelves. He walked inside and glanced around, catching a glimpse of a young lady at the front desk who's surveying grey eyes gazed at him
    “Mr. Kolb...you've arrived.” She arose from the chair, her long wavy auburn hair following in her wake. She held out a hand and he shook it. “Thank you for coming, as always.”
    “Come now Reina, we're closer than that aren't we? There's no need to be so formal with me.”
    “S-sorry. I spend so much time with Mom that I often take from her. Sometimes we just sit for hours discussing our discoveries for the days and debating on the legitimacy of the excerpts and speculations we find within the history books and various other sources.”
    Reina was the spitting image of her mother, and shared the same interests. Her mother a librarian and her father a teacher, the two had filled the girl's mind with fiction and history alike. As she aged she delved deeper into the roots of both, tying the two together with the help of her mother and building the foundations that their kind had lost many a years ago. Once the two began a discussion there would be no stopping them until they were satisfied. It was a charming way of bonding.
    Samson chuckled. “It's quite the spectacle you know. I sneaked out once and the two of you hadn't noticed in the slightest.
    “R-really? I never knew that we were so engrossed in our hobby!”
    “Everyone else does.”
    “I-I see...let's leave that topic as is, shall we? It's a bit embarrassing to be a tad honest. So tell me about how you've been faring Samson. It's been quite a while since we last saw you. Have you found any interesting treasure during your adventure?”
    “Indeed I have! I've found three in fact. This one here is my favourite.” Samson reached into a small pouch and drew a small gemstone with a light red tint within.
    “That's...the Mino Gemstone, isn't it? I had heard that it was lost to a soldier who belonged to the Dark Moon. How did you get your hands on it?”
    “That's a secret my dear. Every adventurer should have friends in high places, and know when to take risks to obtain them and treasures. Now then, how about a pop quiz?” There was a glint in Reina's eye; a sign that she was ready to take his challenge. “What does the Mino Gemstone do? How does it work?”
    “Easy! The Mino Gemstone is used to locate far away targets, especially those who are sent away on scouting missions or who run the risk of being captured. By the owner implanting his/her own mana within the object, it will remain on standby until activated a second time by another user. When their mana wakes the item, it'll appear as an arrow within the gemstone that would guide the user to the target. As they approach, the arrow will change colours to indicate how close the user is to the mark.”
    He nodded approvingly. “You certainly do know your stuff, and just at a glance too. I tip my hat to you Reina.”
    She laughed. “It's what I do best Samson. You do the adventuring, Mom and I appraise your findings for you. Could I have a look at the others?”
    “Oh please do. I'll go say hello to your mother in the meantime.”
    “She's somewhere at the back there.” She pointed him in the direction he needed to go and he tipped his hat to her.
    As he walked past the second last aisle he caught a glimpse of a frail young lady placing books on one of the shelves from a cart. As he approached he tipped his hat to her and she offered him a gentle smile in turn.
    Her soft grey eyes rose with a tilt of her head for her to gaze upon him. “Samson, what a surprise it is to see you.” Though her expression remained unchanged and the seeming lack of surprise, the genuine sound in her voice had not faltered for even a moment. “It's such a pleasure to see you back in Xenym safe and healthy.” Hazel was younger than he was but her aura offered her an air of elegance and maturity beyond her years. She had handled matters pertaining to records of the past and present, who lived and who passed away in Xenym and even the status of many of those lost in the war. Much to her dismay and those who personally knew the fallen, the records could only come to being through word of mouth, but if the brave warriors would not be forgotten their families and friends could find some peace; Hazel was happy to oblige.
    “I could say the same for you Hazel. The years haven't fazed you in the slightest.” He smiled. “You're still burning the nights away poring over books aren't you?”
    She chuckled. “Time is something our ancestors had a very interesting take on. They sought out balance between the elusive concept, and their wants and needs.” She gently placed a hand on a book covered by a worn out looking cover. Hazel had once told him that it, among the many was where she kept her transcripts. Some she even translated the ancient language to the more modernized version of their language, and at times that of the common language. Very few people in Xenym understood their ancient language, herself and Reina aside.
    “Tell me about it. You wouldn't believe how much Julius insisted that we shouldn't waste time back home. That guy was always training and pushing himself to his limits day in and out. Crazy hard worker, that guy. It's good to see that he finally settled down in a peaceful place.”
    She closed her eyes and smiled. Samson could only gaze solemnly. Before he could even ask the question he had an idea of the answer that he would receive would be. His heart sank just by looking at her; even if she was hurt she always put on a strong front to protect her daughter from the harsh reality of the world. How long could she remain that way? How long until her composure shattered? “Hazel I...”
    “You need not apologize Samson. I know you've done your best in searching for him. I've done all that I can from here, but I'm not able enough to go out there and find him myself. Instead I've placed this burden upon you. I owe you my thanks.”
    Samson closed his eyes and shook his head. “I'm going to find him Hazel. Whatever it takes, I will. Just promise me that you won't try to carry this burden alone.”
    “I promise, I will do no such thing. I have Reina dear. You don't need to worry for my sake.” He blinked. He trusted Hazel but he knew that she would not share any of her burdens on her daughter. Her pride and fervent disposition towards being a responsible mother created a wall of impenetrable independence. Her husband had been missing for years, according to Julius he had disappeared during the war after sending his wife and child away with the other refugees. Samson knew he was either missing or dead, but for her sake and Reina's, he would do everything he could to hold their hope, and even more so to find him.
    “Reina's a responsible girl. Perhaps you can take some time off once in a while to relax? With how well versed she is in the location, names and content within the books I don't think she'll have any trouble helping out guests.” He glanced away for a moment. “When there are guests.” Xenym was so out of the way and difficult to reach it very rarely had travellers visit.
    Hazel chuckled lightly at the comment. “Oh I have all intention to leave the library in Reina's hands. She's so young and she's still so much to learn. But it isn't here that she'll learn the knowledge she'll need. Our world is changing everyday Samson. I'm sure you know that as well as we all do. I'm sure you've caught word, but the stranger that the princess had stumbled upon was rumoured to be the Exalted One.”
    Samson snorted and grinned. “So I heard! I saw a picture of the little squirt on a wanted sign back then. I'm not sure who said that was them, but if it is I'd like to meet him.”
    She lightly hit him with her fist and frowned. “Show some respect Samson! He's a very important figure to our kind!”
    “I'm just kidding around Hazel, but you know we can't be too sure until we've seen it for ourselves. Rumours are all well and good but we can't be putting everyone we think to be the one on a pedestal. That aside, if it is them it'd be best if he kept a low profile. Not everyone can be trusted with that kind of important figure.”
    Hazel nodded slowly, her eyes shuttered, eventually returning the gaze to Samson. A strange look she often gave that almost seemed to appraise him, while seeing through to the very depths of his heart. Over the years he had known her, the look seemed to have aged with her, the stare growing deeper as time pressed on. It seemed Reina had obtained something of the sort, but of a more inquisitive nature; either that, or he really was getting on in his years. “Samson, if you do come across that poor child, would you offer him some guidance? Even if we are not those who were chosen to stand by him, I can't help but feel he's lost.”
    Samson rubbed the back of his necks and glanced over the books around them. Hazel was not likely far off the mark; the poor kid had spent years finding ways to meet up with the princess and getting thrown out of the castle or chased down by the authorities. He seemed more like an average kid than the saviour of their kind, but there was likely more to him than what met the eye. “Yeah, I could do that. I'm no stranger to handling kids.” He grinned. “What's one kid to an adventurer? Maybe I'll make him my sidekick. But of course, I'll be taking Julius' daughter from the nest when she's of age. If I find him, it'll save us a world of trouble.”
    Hazel smiled, her eyes lighting up at his words. “Thank you Samson. Regardless of who they might be, I believe they will be in good hands under your care.”
    “You can thank me once I raise a pair of battle-born adventurers.  And find your hubby of course. Until then, you sit tight here and keep the kids out of trouble.”
    “I can't help but believe my top priority is keeping you out of trouble. You caused quite the uproar with your arrival.”
    Samson snickered. “If anyone in this village left as much or for as long as I did, I'm sure they'd make quite the splash when they come back.” He tossed his hat onto his head and turned around. “Shall we?”
    Leading the way the two returned to the front desk where Reina sat with an ornate golden bell and the Mino gemstone before her with a new group of books surrounding her, her eyes shifting rapidly at every line on the page, hungry for answers. An insatiable curiosity for answers and knowledge.
    “Hey Rei.” Samson said.
    “Huh?” Her head darted up from the book and her gaze softened after realizing what occurred. “Oh! What is it Samson? Ah...I haven't found the names and uses of these artifacts yet...I need some more time. D-don't pop quiz me yet!”
    He and Hazel chuckled. “I'm not gonna quiz you. Not today at least, but the next time I see you expect it alright?”
    “I'll be ready.” She grinned. “I'll have Mom helping out too so you better be quick okay?”
    “You know, when I had visited Ves they called me Speedster Sam. Used to race the locals through the jungle to Ktuka Ruins. They were fast, but not fast enough. I'll be back before you know it.” As he said the last words he wondered when the next time he would see Reina would be. What would she look like after he returns? What of Hazel's state?
    She laughed. “You always had some fascinating stories to tell after your adventures Samson. Have you ever thought of writing a book? You could call it Samson's Tall Tales.”
    He performed a mock gasp. “I'm sensing a hint of doubt in the words of this young girl. Hazel we need to remedy this immediately.”
    Reina placed her elbows on the desk and rested her chin upon her intertwined fingers. “Even if they were just tall tales, I still believe all of your stories just as I did back then Samson. Big V and Les are no different you know.  Sometimes when the three of us are hanging out we talk about some of the ones you told us when we were younger. We all want to hear more of them sometime.”
    Despite being the most mature in her group of friends, she occasionally showed a very vulnerable side of herself. She and her mother were so much alike it was quite the spectacle in itself. “Let me go on some incredible adventures and I'll return with many stories to tell.”
    “I'm gonna hold you to that.” Her gaze seemed to lose focus for a moment and sharpened as her attention did the same. “I have a question Samson.”
    “Ask away.”
    “Did Alessa approach you about the match between Big V and yourself?”
    “Huh? Alessa? No she didn't mention anything like that.”
    Reina smiled impishly. “I see.” Her smile and shuttered eyes told him enough. Alessa was even more familiar with the look, but it didn't deter her. She was tenacious to a fault, but he respected it all the same. “That's all I needed to know Samson.” She rose from her chair and saw him to the exit with her mother. “Please give Julius and Rosetta our regards will you? Until next time, take care!”
    “Be well Samson. We'll await your return here. We'll have some tea ready also.” Hazel added.
    Next time. The words prickled his conscious mind. “I'd like that.” He answered coolly. As the two waved to him, he offered a single wave back and had went about his business.
    Julius and Rosetta did not live very far from the library itself. Crossing the plaza, past the statue of Julius, Rosetta and their canine companion to their tiny home tucked near the outermost portion of the city's wall. It took much effort from the people of Xenym to have the statue erected, but it was due to their efforts that many of the people who live in the Haven, and many others that they could have performed such a feat. Whenever Samson visited he would marvel at the statue for a spell; seeing his brother clad in robes and bearing his staff while his wife stood by his side armed with sword and shield while bearing the weight of her armour. To see the two dressed like average people and relaxing in their home always brought a smile to his face. They among many had seen the face of war; they deserved so much more than a moment of peace. He hoped that the peace would continue to last, and that Julius' daughter would grow to know it too.
    As he approached the door he could hear Rosetta humming. Though the sound was low, her voice still carried through the walls to his ears and brought him peace of mind. He sat down for a while to enjoy it to the very end; it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, after all.

    Julius & Rosetta
    Julius intertwined his fingers and gently leaned against them; a ring on his wedding finger and another upon the middle finger beside it. “What do you think of Sophia?” He asked.
    “It seems your naming sense is rather feminine, wouldn't you agree Julius?” Rosetta gently rubbed her round stomach and closed her eyes. “I believe we should name her Victoria. She should be brave, a born leader, as the next God's Governor.”
    He chuckled and shifted his glasses with two fingers. “It's a lovely name, but I believe that she should have one that will assist her in earning respect, not demanding it. How does Grace sound?”
    Rosetta blew a few stray strands of her blonde hair from her eyes. “I believe the phrase is like father like son. Two fine ladies in the house is more than enough. A name like Brianna is much more fitting.”
    “You may have forgotten, but we are raising a child before a warrior. Our daughter deserves a name such as Emma. I've no doubts she'd live up to the name.”
    Rosetta closed her eyes and placed a finger to her chin. “I don't think so. I still find it rather unusual that you would not like her to take a name in honour of your lineage. Nevertheless, I suggest Alexis. Magnificent, no?”
    Julius placed his hands in his lap and locked eyes with his wife. “Essentially we do have one for her, since we've both agreed upon her middle name being Terra. Just as you feel that it is more fitting for it to be, I feel the same way.” He closed his eyes. “At the moment I can't think of any other fitting names for our daughter. This challenge has plagued us for weeks now and we've yet to come to a proper conclusion.”
    “I think of it more a crisis than a challenge. It will be such an important thing for her as she grows, but our biggest concern will be in how we raise her.”
    “I know that teaching her to understand and master her powers is a necessary duty, but I'm unsure if I can teach her as my father had me. I must see her as a pupil, not my daughter. I fear that I may push her too hard or wound her in the process. I was so young when my father had begun my teaching I remember very little of it. Will I be as capable as he was?”
    Rosetta arose from her chair and placed a knee between his legs, leaning in to gently kiss him on the lips and place her forehead against his. “Fear not my love. Just she is a child before she is a warrior, you are a father before you are God's Governor. Be it a father or a God's Governor, you are never alone, not even for a moment. Remember the words of our pledge, 'I am your sword and your shield, we are one in body and mind'. If you've any doubts you may confide in me, and we shall face every challenge together as one.”
    Juliues chuckled and took his wife's chin in hand, then locked his lips with her once more for even longer and leav her in a daze as he rested her in the chair. “Until our daughter is born our roles will be reversed Rosetta. I will protect you, and look after you with all that I am. Excuse me while I prepare some tea.”
    The faintest of smiles danced on the edge of her lips while a gentle sigh escaped them. On and off of the battlefield the two remained connected; though it was hard for her to imagine, someday perhaps they would fight together as a family. The past and future God's Governors and their pledger. She paused for a moment. She gazed intensely at the wall as her entire train of thought came to a grinding halt. Her daughter would need to find a pledger when the time came for her to succeed her father. Her smile immediately turned into a scowl and her silver companion seemed to be watching the entire event play out. She scowled at him and he blinked innocently, the scar across his eye giving him a much more menacing look than he intended. She leaned over the chair's arm and scratched behind his ears, the wolf raising his head with a pleased expression. As she did she began to hum and left him to his own devices, their companion laying his head down on the ground and tilting his ears as she went on.
    As her humming came to an end the wolf arose once more looking towards the entrance with a keen curiosity. He let out a quiet groan and Rosetta gazed down at it as if it would speak at any moment.
    “What is it Bane?” She asked while the wolf padded towards the door. Julius emerged from the kitchen before Rosetta had a moment to rise from her chair. “Need I be left out from this conversation between the two of you?”
    “Not at all my dear. It seems we have a guest.”
    The wolf sat down and patiently awaited Julius' arrival at the front door. Julius approached and opened it, meeting with his brother's eyes for the first time in years. Though he knew he would come to visit, Julius could not stop himself from beaming. “Sam, it's so good to see you!” Without a moment of hesitation he stepped forward and hugged his elder brother.
    “That's big bro or Samson to you little bro.” Samson answered. “I happened to be drifting around the Elias area and figured I might as well dropped in to say hello. To you, your lovely wife and your unborn child.” He grinned impishly. “When I heard you got Rosy knocked up my interest was peaked.”
    Julius' face flushed and he averted his gaze. “Must you put it so crudely Sam?” His lips curled into a smile this time around. “Still, you must have went quite out of your way while drifting to come out this far. Technically it's a village in the middle of nowhere, and completely non-existent on Jienda's maps.”
    “Out of my way? Oh pssh not at all! I know this place like it's my own backyard. Coming here is just a step off the path.”
    “I couldn't tell the others exactly when you were coming because I knew you'd get lost Sam. Your sense of directions is as terrible now as it was in the past. What happened to the compass I had given you the last time you visited?”
    “Eaten by a black bear.”
    “And the map I gave you the time before that?”
    “Burned to a crisp by a Hotkuri.”
    Julius chuckled and shook his head. “I'm glad your sense of humour remains intact, along with the rest of your body. Welcome home Sam.”
    Samson beamed. “I'm home, little bro.”
    Julius stepped back. “Bane wants to say hello also.”
    The wolf stood up and began to pant as if it was going to jump into Samson's arms so he immediately crouched and braced himself for the impact. “Come on Wolfy, come get a piece of ol' Sam!” The wolf remained in place and the adventurer knit his eyebrows. “Must be getting on in his years, eh Jules?” Bane sat back down and gazed at him. “Alright Bane I'll come to you.” He regained his typical posture and approached the wolf. Just as he reached down to pat the wolf's head it leaped at him and knocked him to the ground. Bane then licked Samson's face, and coated him in dog saliva and walked back into the house.
    “That's...that's certainly new.” Julius muttered as he watched as his companion return to his wife's side.
    “Every time. Every single dang time that dog does something like that. What's his gripe with me?”
    “I think he likes you Sam. Quite a lot, in my opinion.”
    The two entered and Samson removed his shoes, coat and hat. The two entered the small room and the brother sat next to each on the couple's loveseat.
    “Julius what have I told you about bringing in stay mutts? Bane is an exception, but we've no need for man-sized mutts.” Rosetta warned them.
    “Come now Rosetta, can't we keep him? He may be a stray but he does know his way home. We only need to feed him occasionally and offer him shelter. He'll fend for himself.” Julius answered.
    “Do I look like a dog to either of you?” Samson asked with a raised eyebrow.
    “Without a doubt.” She answered with a devilish grin.
    “Sharp tongue, check. Icy personality, check. Well Jules, that Rosy passed the criteria for the 'Is this the real Rosy' test with flying colours. Congratulations!”
    “Please Sam, if anyone would know my wife best it would without a doubt be me. I think that it's safe to say that nobody would attempt to disguise themselves as her for various reasons.”
    “Give me one good reason and I'll admit defeat.”
    “I'm pregnant?” Rosetta responded in his place.
    “Julius I'm sorry. It was an accident, I swear.”
    Rosetta focused on Samson with an intensity that could freeze him in place. “Have you ever fought a Temple Knight on maternity leave? No? Would you like to?”
    “Point made. You can consider me defeated. I will shut up now.”
    Julius laughed at the two. When he and his brother first came to Jienda they'd no idea what they were in for. By the leave of the royal family they were sent on a journey for hands-on experience working alongside humanity, and during their journey they stumbled upon the young tomboy that was Rosetta. Though their visit was short, the he and she had often exchanged letters and remained in touch despite being worlds apart. Samson and she never got along, but in their journey they forged a very strong bond, the three together. They grew together and despite being years apart the flame ignited within them remained lit to the day. To be reunited again made him happier beyond words.
    “Well you've got a poison-tipped tongue as always Rosy, so can I assume it's safe to say that you're doing well? More importantly than you I can't forget the little one on the way. How's Rosy Jr. doing?”
    “I've no doubts you would forget again once you disappear for another couple of years Mutt. Our adorable daughter has nothing to learn from you. Why don't you take Bane and teach an old dog some new tricks? I'm sure he would look up to you, a mutt among mutts.
    “Keep your wit sharp, and your tongue sharper eh Rosy?”
    “Do not refer to me as Rosy.”
    “I might just take you up on that offer. Wanna join me on my adventure Bane?” The wolf lay against the ground and covered his eyes with his paws.
    “Julius, you look rather pleased. What's the occasion?”
    “It's the times like these. They bring back fond memories of us adventuring together. Do you recall when Samson first came to Xenym? I had never seen him so flustered in my entire life!” Julius replied.
    “Now now little bro, there are some things you can just go ahead and forget.” He laughed. “I was seriously worried, you know. I didn't think you and Rosy survived the war with how fervently you two fought. Knowing that you were on the front lines seemed like it would be the end of both of you. After it ended I searched high and low across the whole continent. Should have paid more attention in class. If I knew what a Haven was I wouldn't have spent so long not knowing where you were.”
    “Had you any knowledge within that pea you call a brain you would know to ask a Confidant where you could go to reach the Havens. It seems the most basic knowledge comes as a surprise to you.”
    “I do like surprises.”
    “On the other hand, with your sense of direction you would have likely gotten lost on the way there after receiving an answer from a Confidant. I can't count how many times you got us lost during our adventures. Rosetta still gets the shivers when I mention Spooky Village.” Julius said rising from the chair.
    “We agreed not to mention that horrid, nightmarish place,” She added curtly.
    “Oh I remember that clearly. I'd never heard her shriek so loud in my life. She could have scared off the ghosts with that kind of noise.”
    As he walked past Rosetta she glared daggers at him and turned away as he leaned in to kiss her. He settled for a peck on the cheek and asked, “Coffee or tea love?”
    “Tea,” She muttered under her breath.
    “And for you Sam?”
    “Coffee! Black! Just the way I like it!”
    “Hmm? What'd you say? Double-double? Coming right up.”
    “You do not defile another man's coffee Jules! That is blasphemy of the highest caliber! The big-wigs will hear of this, mark my words! So, how you been Rosy?”
    She scowled. “Pregnant, and I would prefer if you didn't address me as such. Also you've already asked about my being.”
    He nodded sagely, but at a glance she could tell it was only in action and not full effect. “That's good to hear.” He gazed at her and she raised an eyebrow. “I've always wondered what it'd be like to be in your shoes. Marrying into the family is one thing, but you've married into the colony. Most of your kind doesn't even know we exist, though they're not surprised by the most incredible forms of technology and magic. But there's still so much they don't know. The Havens are not only the homes to us, but places that hold our secrets. Imagine if they had discovered this place? That'd certainly be something.” He paused. “Though I consider this home, I never was the type to stay in one place.”
    “Is it because you're an indecisive man?”
    “You mean a drifter?”
    “I prefer vagrant, vagabond, and my personal favourite, tramp.”
    “Oh Rosetta you sweetheart you!”
    “It was not a compliment but if you like it, I may allow it.” She offered him a devilish smile.
    “You're quite the point of interest, did you know that? You're the only human in this entire haven. I'm surprised it doesn't bother you. Do you not feel homesick at all?”
    “It would be foolish to falter due to such a petty feeling. I've outgrown such desires, and upon taking the pledge I knew there would be little time to return to my family. When I had parted ways with them for the last time I had set out knowing that there would be no turning back. I take pride in being one of the few humans considered to be a part of this colony, but it is not for this reason that I bear my sword and shield. I do so for Julius, and for him and our daughter alone. I will protect them with my life, and those that need us I shall fight for them alongside him.” She blinked slowly, thoughtfully. “I know someday our daughter may need to fight in his stead but I honestly wish for her to find a place in this world that she truly belongs. Somewhere she can obtain friendship, love, and a place that she can consider he sanctuary.”
    Samson looked nonplussed. “I didn't think the icy beauty could feel emotions. This is history in the making. I should chronicle this tale about her and her lovely unnamed daughter.”
    “That is another nickname I will never, grace with a response.” She made a small frown. “Though it is no less true that our daughter is yet to be named. For an unborn child she is rather vicious...her kicks are rather overwhelming.”
    “Lemme' take a listen.”
    “I may allow it, but I advise against it. There is a very high chance that I may throw up.”
    “She's got the looks, the grace, and the maturity to match. God's Governor of Earth's very own wife Rosetta! What a keeper! So, you two are in need of a name hmm?”
    “You speak as if this would be a small feat for you. If you don't blow away my expectations on your first try I will ignore you for the rest of the day.”
    “Challenge accepted.” Samson crossed his arms and furrowed his brows as he thought long and hard for the answer. Rosetta gazed at him, expecting a very ridiculous answer with little thought to it, or a ridiculous name with too much thought in it. Before she knew it she waited in bated breath for his answer; was it excitement or amusement that danced on the fringes of her conscious mind? She could not say for sure, but the longer he stalled for time the more her curiosity invited her to break the silence, and potentially his might-be concentration. “I've decided!”
    “Oh? Enlighten me.” Her lips unwillingly curved into a smile. She was ready for a laugh.
    “Kasumi.”
    Rosetta's mouth opened slowly and remained agape for three or so seconds, then closed. “Kasumi...?” She crossed her arms. “Kasumi...” She closed her eyes. “It...it's perfect...you almost have me impressed Samson.”

    Well, I have to admit starting out this one was difficult, to say the least, but not as difficult as Innocent was. I wasn't exactly sure where to begin so I just went with a perspective-free solution. I decided to bring back Warlord Carmen, now with an actual you know, physical being and a personality to match how Virgil described her in Innocent, along with Alessa's teacher Meryl and Reina's parent now with a name! Along with those three are Reina and co. pre-Innocent. Though they're still only supporting characters, this time around they'll have a bit more presence and each will have a bit of their own story within the first act, which is essentially before the time skip. As you'd expect, there's a lot of ridiculous scenarios that accompany those guys, and Samson is usually caught up in the pace of it one way or another. Through this, I've been able to develop and solidify his character a bit more. With this, the change from his usual happy-go-lucky to his more dejected sense of self post-time skip will be a bit more natural. He's grown a lot more as have the other characters around him, and I think it's gone well so far. Again, it's not fantastic but there's always room for improvements.
    I've carried over the idea of artifacts from the main story, and made the Mino Gemstone one of those as you can see. Foreshadowing. Oh yes Wink. Though everyone who's read it will know already. Moving along, I've brought back the initial opening in Julius and Rosetta's perspective, and changed the way they speak slightly. Julius is more easygoing when relaxed, and you'll see how he changes when tense. Rosetta has a more formal way of speaking, but that's because she's not very well-versed in the Cerebian language; she often switches between a casual and more formal way of speaking. I'm considering having her do it just because she prefers it that way. Looking back, Julius also has that way of speaking also, but less so than his wife. After thinking about it, it might make a bit more sense. Julius had spent most of his time training under his father to be the next God's Governor, so he didn't have the freedom that Samson did, and spent most of his time communicating with him alone. He'd likely inherit the way he speaks from him, like Reina, and pass that on to Rosetta after she becomes his pledger and a Confidant. Samson on the other hand would've seen more of the world and picked up different slang, and inherited a more casual way of talking.
    I have to admit, a big concern of mine is how Samson often worries about when he'd return. It feels as if I was foreshadowing to the fall of Xenym, when the intention was a bit more...simple. In a sense. The fall of Xenym feels more obvious, but the idea was that he really doesn't know when he would come back after his adventure. I might change the dialogue later, but I hope I can get the message across. Then again, I guess it could run both ways, even if it's unintentional.
    Lastly, and this is a bit of a spoiler, but I do plan to do the other side of the war this time around. Innocent was focused on Reina and her escape during it. This will focus on Virgil, Alessa, their teachers and Rosetta and Julius while the war happens. The scene will end after Julius and Rosetta...you know. Then from there on the story will continue from where Samson returns and follow USS from there, as I make changes along the way. Except this time, just as with earlier portions the perspective switch will be marked. Borrowed the idea from GoT and a novel I started called A Tale for the time being. Great book, I recommend it.
    So yeah. USS is getting the Frequency treatment. It'll take a while but it'll definitely be good. The original will remain alongside the 2014 version, but the original will lose the songs. I've said my peace. Until next time.
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Sun Jul 20, 2014 12:49 pm

    Pages 12-21:
    “Please, hold the applause! It's not a big deal, really!”
    “I would highly recommend that you refrain from becoming too self-righteous Samson. It was the smallest of compliments.”
    Julius returned from the kitchen with two mugs in hand and a raised eyebrow. “What's all the excitement about? You two seem to be having quite the conversation.”
    Rosetta chuckled. “Nothing new from our typical banter.”
    “Is that so?” He handed his wife a mug and approached his brother to offer him the other. Samson furrowed his brows after a taste. “Then pardon my interruption, but I've been thinking that perhaps you were right Rosetta. Alexis may be the most befitting name for our daughter, so if you're willing then we're both in agreement.”
    Rosetta waved a finger and Julius offered a puzzled gaze in turn. “That is not the name that would fit our daughter best. If you'd be so kind, Samson?”
    “Name the little squirt Kasumi Jules.” He said and beamed.
    “Kasumi?” He placed a hand to his chin and thought over the suggestion for a spell. “That's perfect! Is this what the two of you discussed so fervently?”
    “That? Oh no that happened on a whim. What really happened was Rosetta was laying into me like she always does. Nothing out of the ordinary.”
    Julius chuckled, “I expected no less from the two of you, and I'm glad. Not a thing has changed over the years.” He walked over to Samson and placed a hand on his shoulder as he looked up to meet his eyes. “You came up with the name for our daughter, right? Thank you, from the bottom of my heart Sam.”
    His elder brother pulled him into a one-armed hug and ruffled his hair. “Oh come now! What are big brother's for eh? Besides, the kid's gonna need a real responsible adult to show her the ropes. You guys can teach her about the birds and the bees and all that other parenting stuff.”
    “If anyone will be teaching our daughter properly it will be us, you man child,” Rosetta sneered.
    Julius chuckled and shrugged. “Not a thing has changed indeed.”

    Samson
    Samson placed the quill down and skimmed through his note once more. Taking a glance out the window the night sky gazed back at him, the stars twinkled and beckoned him. He stole a glance at the door and instinctively reached for the knob but froze in place. He turned to the desk where the note had lay and he reached below it to where his boots awaited him. As he tied up the right boot he took a nearby book on earth spells for masters and placed it atop the edge of the note. Once dressed, he opened the window and carefully climbed out so he could take a moment to see his family off in the way he knew best. He tipped his hat and pulled his coat closer to his torso and set off towards the gates.
    Xenym was silent; very few, if any homes had a flicker of light within them, and the plaza was empty save for the adventurer himself. It was quiet, peaceful, and upon his leaving everything would return to normal, as it should have been. He chuckled under his breath and small white clouds emerged upon each. Elias was at the very least three-days away by foot, and as he took into account the time of night he was going on very little sleep. He knew of a few caverns along the way that he could take refuge and set up camp in until he had regained his stamina, so he would manage. Tricks of the trade.
    He neared the gate and hailed one of the guards, a man clad in armour saluted him as he approached. “Samson, leaving already? It hasn't even been a day yet,” He said.
    “Time waits for no man. Spend too much time taking in the sights and it catches up to you,” He answered.
    “I know it's none of my business but did you get to spend some time with Rosetta and Julius? Some of the others seemed really excited when they heard you were coming. They'd hate to see you go.”
    “I saw them all. The warriors, the archers, my little bro and his kid.” He smiled. “They're all doing well. An elder man like me can't keep up with those kids anymore. Got nothin' left to teach 'em. I think I can leave this haven in their hands, and let little Jules protect the nest.” He said the comment confidently but he felt a lingering fear in the thought. Julius could protect them, but who would protect him?
    “I'm glad to hear that. I won't keep you much longer Samson, I'd just like to know if you're sure you want to leave. Things have really been a lot more lively since you got here you know.”
    He nodded slowly and thoughtfully. “I only planned to visit. My staying could change things, a little too much. Gotta think of the greater good once in a while, you know?” He laughed. “Guys like me are from an age that's already past. I live to adventure, to fight, for danger. These guys...they've found peace. The war is still going on and more of our kind will be sent to fight in it, but I'll be damned if I remind them of it. If the kids can focus on their schoolwork and training, and the retired warriors can hang up their swords and staves once and for all, then I'll keep doing what I do.” He closed his eyes. “The war won't end until Julius returns to the battlefield. I'm gonna make a difference before he does.”
    The guard held out a hand. “May I shake your hand Samson? Your words and your actions inspired me to become a knight. I'll defend Xenym with my life!”
    Samson took his hand and shook it. “You do that, but live to have a family and kids. The world could use men like you.”
    The guards opened the gates wide enough for Samson to slip through and emerge at the other side, the two that met him offered their regards upon his leaving. He looked out upon the world before him, the mountains and valleys awaited, and the world of humanity upon the other side. He took one last reluctant glance at the Haven he dearly loved and those that inhabited it and smiled weakly. Leaving was never easy for him, but if he hesitated now his conviction would slip away from him. It was for the best, after all. He started walking and immediately placed a hand to his dagger's hilt as he heard the sound of oncoming footsteps. Upon seeing that it was Meryl he removed his hand and approached nonchalantly, but with a cautious mind.
    “Mr. Kolb, are you leaving Xenym?” She asked with knit eyebrows. She was dressed in her archery armour, with her bow and quiver resting on her back. The look was familiar, but also unnerving. Perhaps she had put on the gear as practice for a real situation? Preparation was an important matter for all fighters, but an archer's speed should be on par with their skill.
    “Yup. It's a tad soon but what better time to do it, am I right Ms. Ambrosia?” He grinned impishly. “Gotta admit, I didn't expect you to catch me in the act. Sharp as a tack. Always were.”
    “I appreciate your words Mr. Kolb, but my vigilance wouldn't change your mind, now would it?”
    He raised both eyebrows. “Change my mind? Oh pfft no! Impossible!”
    She placed a closed fist to her chest and looked down at her shoes. “I see. I had a feeling that would be the case. I had hoped that it would not come to this...that perhaps with all of us we could get you to stay...” She looked up towards him, her eyes unblinking, focused. “...M-may I?”
    He blinked. “Wha-” Before he could finish his question Meryl placed her hands to his chest and pressed her lips against his and steadily pushed him back. When she finally pulled away from him he got a proper look at her, her face flushed and her eyes uneasily scanned the ground. He placed his hand over his mouth and shifted his gaze away from her. His face felt hot and his mind was abuzz with questions. He felt like a teenage boy, blushing like that.
    “I...” Meryl uttered, “...I know you plan to leave Mr. Kolb. I know there's little I can do to stop you, and even more so I know that it may be years before we see each other again. I know that it's selfish and presumptuous of me but if there's even a sliver of hope that I can change your mind I will do whatever it takes to do so! Perhaps this is the wrong time and place for such an event. Even so...even so I don't wish to miss another opportunity to tell you.”She clenched her fists and upturned her eyes to meet his. “I love your Samson! Please stay here in Xenym with us!”
    Samson gazed at her for a matter of moments and sighed while he rubbed the back of his neck. “Meryl...I...I dunno what to tell you. You and me together? I've never thought about it. With you suddenly springing this on me I'm speechless really.”
    “I know that it's sudden but I've wasted far too many years watching from afar. Upon graduating I meant to tell you but I lost my confidence and missed my chance. When I saw you going to fight in the war alongside Julius I wanted to be there beside you also, but there were others that needed assistance.” Samson remembered the event too well, and he hated that about him; so many were willing to fight the battle and so many had died in it. He had made the right choice in insisting that Meryl help and escape with the other refugees. “When we were reunited...I was overjoyed. But the pain from our parting has haunted me for years. I wondered if you might find another lady upon your travels and return here only to settle in with her. I want to be the one that stands beside you, in times of war and peace! Please, let me go with you!”
    He opened his mouth to speak but conjured no words, only to solemnly shake his head. It was just like back then. He could not bring himself to give her the answer that she wanted. “Meryl, I can't take you on this journey. The kids need you. Xenym needs you. You know how scarce trained fighters are in the colony, and if there are any they're likely out on the fields. I have duties of my own to see through too. This haven can't afford to be down another Treasure Hunter.”
    “But is it not my duty to fight in this war also? There are teenagers and adults alike fighting out there to this very day! Lives could be lost as we speak. The children are have little more than a year away from their graduation, and some have proven to be skilled enough to graduate already. Knowing this, why don't you want me to fight with you?”
    “There are people I need to find.” He smiled bitterly. “There's more to all of this than just looking for treasures and fighting Agasura. Julius has a duty to look after Xenym, but that's not what was intended for him to do. If what the stories tell is true, we need to unite him and the other God's Governors before Geseni oto Nitzchs. Not just them, but the Exalted One and the Princess also.” He had his doubts about The Eternal Night and the Exalted One, but if his brother was a God's Governor, he found himself in quite the spot doubting the rest of the stories. That and Julius took his role with pride and was sure to inform Samson all about it, in detail.
    Her entire demeanour seemed to dim. “But they're...”
    “Dead? Might just be. The Exalted One might not even exist. Which means my entire search would be in vain. But if they're out there, and if he's out there too, I can't give up this search. For our people, and for Reina and Hazel. I might not be a God's Governor but I can do something to save our world too.” He placed a hand on her head and offered her a smile. “I'm sorry Meryl. My love for this world far exceeds my own personal desires. Telling you to give up would be kinda insensitive, wouldn't it? Love who you want, when you want and however much you want. The mind's stubborn, but the heart can be swayed you know. Maybe the next time I visit or the time after that you'll make me fall for you too. Maybe you'll find someone else who's even more of a looker than I am. If you like younger men, I think some of the youngsters in your class and Esther's have got their eye on you.”
    She furrowed her brows. “I will not date a student Mr. Kolb! You may have an illicit relationship with Alessa but I would not do such a thing!” Her gaze softened and her face reddened, but she still had a flustered look. “Without a doubt I'll be sure to make you mine before she does.”
    She? He raised an eyebrow. “You and I both know Alessa and I are strictly platonic.” His lips curled into a mischievous smile. “Besides, you and I are technically teacher and student.”
    “Were. Not are.” She looked up at him and he curled his lips in preparation for another unexpected kiss. Instead Meryl hugged him suddenly and knocked him to the ground leaving him nonplussed. “I'm being unprofessional but I may not get this chance again. Please, let me stay like this if only a little longer...”
    “May not-you make it sound like I'm going to die or something out there.” He gently stroked her head and looked out to the sky. “I'll be back Meryl. I'll be here to see Kasumi post-birth and to see the kids finally graduate. I swear.”
    “Under no circumstances can you break your word Mr. Kolb. Do I make myself clear?”
    “I won't, so don't go teacher-mode on me here. Makes me feel like a kid.”
    She smiled while her face remained buried in his chest. “It's a promise between the two of us.”

    Alessa & Virgil
    It had been nearly a full year before Samson had arrived and left. Alessa and Reina had claimed the archery range early one morning, the latter keeping her friend in good company. The archer nocked an arrow in her bow as she closed an eye and let the other focus on one of the targets that dotted the landscape.
    “I bet I could take off Virgil's head if he was one of these targets.” She said while she pulled the arrow back and let off a shot. It sailed through the air gracefully and struck the bulls-eye. With a grin and a fist pump she reminded herself that graduating at the top of the class was only a stepping stone to a much greater victory; rubbing it in Virgil's face.
    “How long have you been a murderer?” Reina asked with a cautious look and a raised eyebrow.
    “Born one.”
    “Save some of that fighting spirit for the Agasura.” Alessa nocked another arrow and let it fly with high expectations, only to find them quickly crushed by her own carelessness. She furrowed her brows and frowned. “Methinks someone lacks practice.”
    Chance! Alessa turned to Reina and started breathing heavily while she gazed at Reina through her bangs, her visible eye wide open. “Rei-Rei c-could I just...” She reached into her pocket and drew an apple, her snack for later, and/or for annoying her companions, and snickered for a moment as Reina leapt back and froze in place.
    She placed her hands atop her head and frowned. Priceless. “What? No!” Reina was a tough nut to crack, but her reactions when she did were worth the effort, every time.
    Alessa smiled as she turned away and placed the apple back into the paper bag in her pocket. “Why do you insist on crushing my hopes and dreams?”
    “You'll need some dreams that are within my realm of potential Les.” The archer shrugged. She didn't mind all that much. It was more fun when the event happened without them knowing about it. Neither Reina nor Virgil would be caught dead daydreaming if she was within one hundred feet. “Where's Virgil? I expected him to be here by now.”
    Alessa prepared another arrow and carefully aimed her shot this time around, and missed the target by a long shot. She had spent too much time bothering Sammy to practice and her skills seemed to have waned. She furrowed her brows. “Probably went to see the healers again. When those warriors train someone always winds up with something broken. He gets it the worst ’cause he’s gigantic. That immense size of his makes one versus one matches unfair to the other guys. Lately they’ve been calling him ‘the walking apocalypse’ on top of being known as ‘the titan’.” She grinned and prepared her next shot while Reina quietly chuckled. If she managed to shoot an apple off Virgil's head again maybe she'd have her class call her the 'titan slayer'.
    “If you're gonna be saying things like that,” the voice of a certain titan said from behind the two, “Make sure I can't hear you next time.” His shadow encroached upon hers and his hand like a massive jaw overtook her and gripped her skull, lifting her from the ground. “I can be pretty scary when I'm angry you know.” As Alessa hung limply in his grip she remembered that he was not just a titan in body, but also one in mind. Or maybe he was closer to a gorilla? He certainly had the strength of one.
    “It's good to see you Big V. How goes the training?” Reina chimed.
    “Warlord Carmen's been giving us a hell of a time the past few weeks. She's been working us like dogs even more than usual.” By some whim of fate he let her go and she collapsed to her knees wearing a defeated expression. Perhaps it was high time she reconsidered her life choices? Like hell that would ever happen. “Though Les wasn't kidding about the whole 'everyone gang up on the titan' thing. One of them god a good swing on me.” Alessa had already heard about his nasty wounds but Reina tilted her head with an interested gaze, while he rolled up the sleeve of his tunic, his entire forearm was bandaged.
    Her expression changed almost immediately, the poor girl looked mortified. “Not exactly the first thing that came to mind when you said 'swing'.”
    “We stopped practicing with our fists a long time ago. It’s all weapons training now.” He grinned devilishly. “Wanna see it?”
    “No thanks.” She gestured for him to take it away. The two were like night and day; one lived for battle and the other couldn't stand the sight of it. Alessa didn't mind either; as long as things remained interesting she'd be willing to take up a bow and occasionally a book. She loved novels, but wasn't so fond of history, leaving aside the really exciting tales of the warriors from past ages.
    It was long past the time for her to make a rude remark. Someone had to keep the titan on his toes. She gave him a pointed look as she rose to her feet and hissed, “You reap what you sow, gorilla man.”
    He didn't seem to amused by that one. “If you want me to give you an iron claw, that can be arranged.” He answered, raising an eyebrow. That usually meant he was serious.
    “I retract my previous statement.” She crossed her arms and looked away, while he nodded with approval. Better to cut her losses than suffer more; a girl had to know when she was beat.
    Looking back to Reina, and her meeting his gaze for an intense and magical moment between the two, he asked, “Are you sure you don't wanna come along with us Rei? Even if you don't join in the fight all that knowledge of yours would certainly come in handy throughout the journey.” Her hot gaze made him flush with embarrassment. “You d-don't have to decide right now. It's just something you can consider over the next few weeks you know?” To embarrass him like that never seemed to work for her; what was Reina's secret? Was it her innocent expression? The allure of a librarian? She was really cute though, but it was Alessa's sworn duty to make Virgil feel uncomfortable as possible at every chance imaginable. She would not surrender that to her best girlfriend.
    She drew an arrow from her quiver and pointed it at him. “I'm with the titan on this one. Besides, someone needs to keep this guy from stomping on innocent humans. This is a two-girl job you know.” He placed a hand on her head and she instantly felt the intensity of his glare as his grip steadily tightened. “I'm just kidding!”
    Reina laughed. “Thanks guys, but I think I'll stay here and hold down the fort. There's still hundreds of books that are dying to be read. If I ever get through our whole library I’ll go with you the next time you visit.” She spoke of books but her eyes said that she couldn't leave Hazel alone. Reina was a mama's girl through and through, and Alessa secretly admired the fact. For the sake of Reina's pride, it would remain her secret.
    Though she wouldn't escape the words that slipped from her mouth, even if they were a joke. “We're holding you to that!” Alessa chimed immediately while grinning with Virgil. “Ba-zing!” She gave the gorilla a high-five.
    “You two have to come back alive though.” Reina said as she pouted and Alessa smiled mischievously. She wanted to tease her but Reina was being serious, so she'd let it slide this one time.
    “Me? Die? Pfft.” Alessa snorted while she nocked another arrow. “The gods and goddesses smile upon me.” She let the arrow fly and it buzzed past her mark, her confidence flying away with her shot. “Now if they'd just smile upon my archery...”
    Virgil was kind enough to offer her one of his usual 'big brother smiles'. “Whenever we can we'll travel with a party. I'll keep Les out of trouble and be sure to bring you a souvenir too.”
    “I'll bring you back a dragon's heart 'cause I love you this much.” She spread her arms wide to drive the point home and Virgil chuckled while she did.
    “Your words are more than I could ask for.” Reina replied.
    Alessa smiled. Reina's reserved demeanour was famous across Xenym, and though they'd been her friends since their youth it still seemed to remain. Though unlike with most of the other townsfolk, she lightened up quite a lot amidst them. Friendship is beautiful. “So, you throwing us a get-out-of-town party or wha-” The sound of a horn being blown brought her thoughts to a grinding halt and filled her from head to toe with dread. The sound of that horn meant invaders were approaching. Her body felt like it had become lead, her thoughts abuzz but incoherent.
    When the sound emerged again from Xenym Virgil snapped out of his reverie and spoke up, “Alessa, we have to go! Now!” Upon his words she shook her head and came back to reality. The harsh wind against her face reminded her of where she was and what she would have to do. Her mind was teeming with a fear that grew by the moment and almost seemed to drag her spirit from her body. She knew the day would come where she'd have to take up her bow against a person, but it was much sooner than she could have predicted. She wasn't ready. “Reina, get home as quickly as you can. Lock the doors, lower the blinds and shut the windows! Barricade everything you can and wait for our signal before you come out. Most importantly, hide.”
    “Promise me that you two will come back safely.” Alessa stopped to steal a glance at Reina and felt as if a thorn had ripped through her chest and her heart had shattered to pieces. She had not seen Reina wear such a painful expression since they escaped from their homeland. The look in her eyes that begged for reprieve, an answer, anything. The same look that she wore when her father had not appeared amidst all those that had been assigned and fled to Xenym. She wanted to speak but her words remained caught in her throat. Tears began to well up in her eyes and she began to look as frail as her mother. “Promise me!” She desperately cried out.
    Alessa's lips moved but no words came out. She had to say something. This moment, her words felt as if they would carry the weight of the world in them; as if their friendship and all the years they spent together remained suspended upon this moment, one wrong word and everything would shatter to pieces; that the spell would be broken and the three would be divided just as many others before them had been. She opened her mouth to speak again and she could feel the weight slowly lifted from her body, her voice steadily returned back to her, and she prepared to run away.
    “I promise, we'll meet again Rei-Rei. So...wait for us, okay?” She turned away, tears streamed as they left Reina and returned to the Haven. Her words sounded hollow. The entire event felt so unreal, and even now it felt as if her body was moving by a single command; run. Run as far and as fast as you can from there, and pray that it's all a bad dream. As she did her eyes watched Virgil's figure leading the way; his movements seemed to have the conviction and courage that she lacked. Now more than ever she envied him. He was skilled with the confidence to match, while she was some skill and mostly hot air. How could she falter at such a crucial time? She tried to conjure her usual false bravado but to no avail. As Xenym drew nearer, so did the time to fight. Somehow, she would have to stand tall.

    Virgil and Alessa had arrived back in Xenym to find the villagers as they frantically ran about the Haven; shopkeepers packed up their wares and hid what they could inside, while others fled to hide wherever seemed safe, most taking cover within the church. Others taking up pitchforks and shovels to take their place amidst the fighters gathered within the plaza for the summit, all standing before the Haven's council of three. The three elected figures to guide the town in times of crisis and whenever a large-scale decision needed to be made. The three consisted of: the Wartime Tactician Esther Carmen, the School board Director Rodolfo Thornton, and the Haven's Priest Shon Creighton.
    Virgil took his place at the back of the crowd while Warlord Carmen calmed the masses.
    “All of you stop your panicking and let Thornton speak! He'll brief everyone on the matter at hand and we'll address it as soon as possible!” Carmen shouted.
    Thornton cleared his throat and addressed all those that stood before the three. “Citizens of Xenym, I'm sure you're aware of the matter at hand and the sense of urgency as time draws on so we shall keep this as short as possible! It seems that armed soldiers bearing the flag of the Dark Moon Kingdom are approaching our Haven! These soldiers are not Cerebians, nor are they Agasura! They are humans that have discovered our home and we know what their intentions are, so I ask that all those who are able take up a weapon if available, or anything that could be used for self-defense and rise to fight against these invaders!”
    “You all heard the Director! This is what the warriors, the wizards, the explorers and the knights trained for! I expect to see all of you that learned under myself or the others to get your ass into your armour and take your place on the battlefield! You're not gonna let these humans walk into our territory and bring their war to your families would you?! Stand up for them!” Warlord Carmen roared.
    Creighton did not seem as for the idea as Carmen was. Virgil could not help but feel that Warlord Carmen may have had a point, as armed soldiers would not likely invade as an army with the intention of diplomacy, unless their diplomacy meant their enemies surrender. “God Ah had never intended for the beings he created to take up arms against each other. Just as the warriors of ages past had, we must unite as one against a common enemy, the Agasura! If we lash out against humanity, we shall be punished for their deaths and have our souls experience a series of trials to cleanse ourselves of our undoings before reincarnation may occur. This is a chance, a sign from God Ah that the time draws ever nearer! We must speak with their leader and request a peace treaty!”
    “A peace treaty is absolutely out of the question! You do know what's said about the Dark Moon Kingdom, don't you Creighton?! They're worshippers of the Demon King! Not only are they our enemies, they're working alongside the Agasura to turn the war in their favour! There's no reasoning with them! We have to dispatch them quickly and effectively, then evacuate the town before they call for reinforcements!”
    “That sort of talk is blasphemy Carmen. To declare God Ah's creations an addition to that which is the heart of all evil in this world! Your words hold nothing but the air of rumours, and in such a time we've no use for such bold and foolish declarations! Now may not be a time of peace but we must make peace with humanity to complete God Ah's covenant. It is as he intended, and I believe that it shall be done!”
    “Now now you two, we must approach this cautiously. What Carmen says may hold some grains of truth, and what Creighton says is justified also. We must remember that Humanity was not created to be perfect. They had fallen to the temptation of sin and in doing so have brought this calamity upon us. Our secret must remain well kept, and the existence of Xenym and the other three Havens also. We know not what the Dark Moon will do to us, be it battle, murder, or captivity, but we must handle the situation with caution.” Thornton looked to the other councillors and gave a solemn nod, the Warlord doing the same while the Priest muttered a prayer. He stood taller than the two, older than Carmen but younger than Creighton, a man getting along in his years. “There is a very important matter I would like to address all of you with.” Thornton never sounded like the most cheery person, but this time around the grave sound of his aged voice brought another sort of hush to the crowd, a tension that seemed to be felt by everyone that listened. “The Dark Moon brings an army that dwarfs our tiny militia by quite a fair amount of soldiers. Our militia spans no more than two hundred, while theirs...over one thousand soldiers.” His words carried an immense weight that Virgil could not begin to fathom. The Cerebians were strong, and much more able than humanity was but it would take a miracle for them to win such a battle. He looked to Warlord Carmen who stood with her eyes closed and her head lowered; not even she could carry the resolve to raise the morale of the warriors she trained. “The Council has already spoken with God's Governor of Earth Julius on the matter. He has taken to a nearby shrine to Terros in preparation for this battle, and will be returning shortly.” He shook his head, but spoke with enough intensity that even Virgil could hear him behind all the others. “On behalf of the Council and God's Governor of Earth I apologize, with all that I am. We fear that even with our best efforts, we will not be able to best the Dark Moon Kingdom. Many lives will be lost in this battle, as will our home. For the sake of our colony as a whole, we must protect that which surrounds us. Our history, our artifacts and...our very beings. Should the Dark Moon have these, the information and items may fall into the wrong hands, and many more will die and suffer by their hands, which could lead to the world succumbing to the Agasura. This would be the end of the Cerebians, Humanity, and Midgard, as we know it.”
    His words left a lingering silence only for a few moments, suddenly broken by enraged shouts as the warriors of the families across Xenym and various other refugees shouted their opinions on the matter, they hurled scornful remarks and curses alike at the Council, none pleased at the decision. Virgil could not bring himself to believe what he had heard. How could all of his training lead up to this? Did Warlord Carmen have nothing to say? Did she too, give up hope on Xenym and in agreement with the rest of the Council declare them a lost cause? She could only stand there with her head down as the militia berated her and the others before their very eyes. This was not like her, nor the rest of the village. They had to fight. What other choice did they have? If the Dark Moon had discovered one Haven, it would only mean the others would be in danger. The word had to get out, there would have to be survivors, someone who could go and warn the other Cerebians across Jienda. He felt an unusual tremble in his right arm and he turned to find Alessa tightly gripping his tunic as if her life depended on it. Her entire body trembled, tears fell from her eyes and her bangs covered her face as she solemnly stood next to him, the sound of her sobbing the moment that shut every other sound out and brought him back to reality. Alessa and Reina were here. His family and theirs. If they gave up now, not only would the people of Xenym die, but the people he held dearest to him.
    “V-Virgin...you w-won't let me d-die right? I promised...” Alessa uttered and stopped to sniffle. “I p-promised Rei-Rei that I'd c-come back. We c-can't die. I always k-keep my p-promises!”
    Virgil's eyes shuttered. He took up the sword and swore to protect his family and friends. There had to be a way for them to fight the Dark Moon. They had a God's Governor on their side; there were only four in the entirety of the colony, and they were deemed to be the greatest Mages the Cerebians had ever seen. If they could hold on until Julius returned, perhaps they could call off the plan and he could turn the tides in their favour. The Council may have had their doubts, but Virgil could not let himself be swayed so easily. He turned to Alessa and pulled her into an embrace; he rested his chin against her head gently and whispered, “It's alright Les. I'm here for you right up 'till the very end, so let it all out.” She held onto his tunic and sobbed loudly. He closed his eyes and patiently waited until she was finished; the thoughts of giving up everything danced in his mind.
    Was there really no place where the Cerebians would be safe? Their homeland was invaded and they were scattered across Jienda, and now even the Havens that stood before the war were under attack. He took a deep breath. Years ago Julius had spoken to their class as a whole and told them something that had stood with him to the very day. “If you've ever had something you loved dearly, then treasure it. Entrust it to only those you feel have earned it, and let no one with unseemly intentions sully it. Remain stalwart as rock, and grow like a tree. This is my mantra”. It sounded rather cheesy now that Virgil was older, but the meaning it held remained unfazed by the test of time.
    “You alright now Les?”
    She looked up to him through teary eyes and a runny nose and nodded. “Never been better.” She uttered.
    He had the slight urge to laugh, but he would let her off easy this time. He placed a hand to her head and grinned. “Let's keep it that way shall we? I'm gonna go do something about this.”
    “The Council's kinda stubborn. Good luck.”
    Virgil sifted through the crowd, much to the dismay of those around him and made his way to where the councillors stood. He approached Thornton and the elder man appraised him for a couple of moments.
    “Virgil correct? Carmen's student.” Thornton said.
    Warlord Carmen glared daggers at him, and he knew she would not let him off lightly for what he was about to do. “Permission to speak, on behalf of Warlord Carmen's warriors Councillor Thornton.” He said.
    “Stand down soldier. That's an order!” Carmen hissed through grit teeth.
    “With all due respect Warlord Carmen, I refuse. You've heard what the crowd has to say about this decision. As one of them, we might be able to come to a compromise.” The Council was very rarely in discord, and them arguing at such a crucial time with the little the whole of Xenym had to spare, something had to be done. Virgil would not agree to surrender.
    “Let us hear what the young man has to say Carmen. It may in our best interest. Perhaps our time as leaders may be nearing an end, much sooner than we would have expected.” Thornton remarked. He turned to Creighton and the priest nodded slowly in response. “Please, speak to the crowd on our behalf. We will discuss the matter afterwards.”
    Virgil nodded and turned his back to the council, looking upon the crowd to catch a glimpse of Alessa jumping to mouth to him, 'Get 'em Virgin'. Virgil took a deep breath and roared, “All of you, pipe down will you?!” The crowd's roars turned to murmurs and eventually silence. “None of you are too happy with the Council's decision. I get that, and I feel the same way. But we've gotta throw them a bone here; what they're doing is in the best interest of the colony as a whole. What we do today could decide the future of this war. If we surrender we might live, but we don't know what'll happen to use or our families. If we fight, most of us won't live to tell, and if we seek peace we could easily be backstabbed. We don't know what the Dark Moon's intentions are, and if what's said about them is true, we can't give them the benefit of the doubt so easily. If they come in arms, we do the same! If they ask for diplomacy, we offer it! If they want a fight? We give 'em hell. Warlord Carmen has taught the warriors and I that a fight is only lost when you've given it up! This is our home, and our people! It's ours to fight for, and should we live to tell we have to spread the word! We have God's Governor of Earth on our side, and Cerebians trained in every art, be it swords, bows or magic. If what the tales say is true, then we need the God's Governor to live so we can turn the war in our favour with the saviour at our side!”
    “You tell 'em Virgin!” Alessa shouted.
    “Alessa...not helping!” He muttered through grit teeth. He took a deep breath. His parents had caught word from a family friend that lived in a Haven in the mountains, not too far off from the city of Yong Gyoung. Years ago he had heard them discussing the matter and were insistent on keeping it secret so as not to strike unnecessary fear into the hearts of the people, but now more than ever it had to be mentioned. “There's...something very unusual about the Dark Moon Kingdom. Shortly after we fled to Jienda, the Dark Moon had turned on its own civilians, slaughtering those who refused to participate in their regime.” The crowd gasped. “I dunno the details of it, but knowing that I think it'd be best if we didn't trust them. This is what I suggest. Rather than let them initiate a battle on us, we take the fight to them first. If possible we should send a messenger to Lemanin to warn the others of what's going on. As for us, we'll fight with all that we can. If we can delay them until Julius and Rosetta return, we might be able to cripple their army enough to cause them to retreat. We don't need to specifically kill their warriors; if we could subdue them without killing them then no lives will need to be lost unnecessarily. It'll be difficult, but we can still aim to save as many lives as we can while we fight for our own. We were trained for this reason!” Virgil's plan was a shot in the dark, more so than he was going to admit to the people of Xenym, but between that and dying without resistance he felt this was a much better plan. The crowd murmured and discussed the thought but they did not seem entirely convinced. In their eyes he was likely nothing more than a boy who wanted a good fight; his argument likely holding little value to sway the masses.
    Councillor Creighton was the first to speak out in Virgil's defense, “Virgil may be young, but I believe what he says holds truth. Though it is not God Ah's intention for us to do battle with Humanity, we must show the Dark Moon Kingdom the err of their ways. I do not condone our community going to war, but to allow the Dark Moon to continue a mindless slaughter to further their regime is not something we should allow. We must quell their desire for war and find the saviour. He and the royal family will bring an end to this war once and for all. Our warriors may be only children now, but they will grow into splendid adults and put an end to this ancient struggle.”
    “Squirt's got a point. A fight that isn't fought is nothing more than a fight that's lost. I didn't train these wimps to just surrender because they're outnumbered. So long as they've got arms to hold a sword or spear and their head on their shoulders they fight right up to the very end. Besides, if they don't have me they'll just run around like a bunch of headless chickens; one of the two doesn't lay eggs, so I'd take the chickens any day.” Carmen snorted. “If my girls will wield those weapons then I'll be on the front lines. All units report to your designated teachers! Temple Knights to Wallace, Explorers with Ambrosia, Mages with Casteel and Warriors to me! All of you who aren't trained follow me!”
    Councillor Thornton nodded and stood by the other two who stood proudly alongside Virgil. “It seems the Council is in agreement. Councillor Creighton and I will remain on standby to meet with Julius and inform him of the current plan. Any further direction will be handled by Councillor Carmen. Should there by an questions, please direct them to her.”
    “Alright you weaklings! I'm your leader now so gear up and get your asses to the battlefield, on the double!” Carmen drew her sword and raised it skyward with a battle cry. The militia followed her lead and split up to gear themselves with anything they could use as armour. Carmen turned to Virgil and gave him a pat on the shoulder. “You're not half bad kid. If you grow a pair you could be my successor when I'm grey and on my deathbed.”
    Virgil cracked a tiny smile. Receiving an actual compliment from Esther Carmen? That was definitely a first. “I'm sure you'd still have the ferocity to command us from your deathbed Warlord Carmen.”
    She scowled. “Don't get smart with me Squirt. Dismissed!” That was more like her.
    He walked towards his archer companion who came ran at him in full force, only to collide with him and stumble back. He snickered and raised an eyebrow at her action.
    “You know usually people would dodge when they see someone or something charging towards them. But since it's you I bet you'd stand in front of a caravan and stop it with your gorilla arms.”
    She seemed to be rather fond of that insult. “These arms are good for more than just stopping things Les. They help me to carry heavy things and throw things, rather far actually! Have you ever experienced what it's like to soar through the air?”
    She grinned and rolled her eyes, “Ahh good job with that speech partner! You really showed them!” She gave him a rough pat on his chest and he chuckled.
    “I didn't really do anything. Just had to convince them to come to one solid decision. With a few extra facts. We've got things we need to protect here, so sometimes we just do what we gotta do.”
    “Can't bear to see your favourite archer kick the bucket eh Virgin?” She nudged his ribs with a mischievous smile.
    “Oh get off of it will you?” He sighed. She was smug, and she was right, but he wouldn't give her that victory so easily or he'd never hear the end of it. If he was gonna tell her, he was going to do it properly.

    'Watch my back and don't lose your resolve. We're in this together, remember? If you're in danger just shriek at the top of your lungs and I'll come rescue you'. Virgil talked a big game but Alessa wondered if he would hold to his word. She and the other archers stood atop the battlements looking down upon Xenym's militia, the Knights taking the front line with the Warriors close behind, and the Mages took the rear. In the distance she could see the Dark Moon Kingdom's army approaching in droves, some upon horses and others on foot, the flags waving bravely as they approached. It was only a matter of time before they finally arrived at Xenym's gates and the battle began. She looked upon her fellow classmates, some checking their bows and others chatting to take their minds off the incoming battle. A few of them didn't even have the gall to stay and fight. She sighed and stared down at the titan towering over the other warriors, his sword sheathed over his armour.
    “P-please stay calm everybody! I'll guide you through this so don't panic! When Warlord Carmen signals everyone have your arrows nocked and ready to fire on my command!” For the first time Meryl looked like a viable threat in her leather with her bow by her side, but having trained under the teacher Alessa let a snicker past her lips. “No funny business Alessa! If I find you goofing off I'll scold you later!”
    “I won't Meryl, I promise,” She answered earnestly. What stood before her really wasn't a laughing matter, but the entire scene seemed so unreal. Just a day ago things were so plain and suddenly there's an army marching towards their home. Looks like her kind had become too complacent. She looked back at the town and wondered if Reina had returned already. Would Hazel and her be alright? What of Alessa's own parents? She took a deep breath. With those battle-hungry warriors on the front line and Carmen leading them, she felt a bit more confident. Virgil wouldn't die without her say so. She and Reina and him were all linked; she wasn't sure how but no matter what happened they would always be together. She couldn't afford to let the Dark Moon take all of this away from her. She wouldn't.
    “It's almost time. We better get ready.” One of the boys said while he drew an arrow from his quiver and readied his bow.
    Alessa nocked an arrow and gazed longingly at her friend as he and the others took a stance that awaited Carmen's lead. With this weapon she would strike down their enemies, regardless of what they were. When the Warlord lead the charge the battle cry of hundreds of soldiers charging into war began the battle.
    “Everyone, now is the time to strike! Fire!” Meryl shouted letting off the first arrow; a stream of shots followed in her wake and rained down upon the Dark Moon's forces. “Everyone, ready your next shot! We've no time to waste!”
    Alessa placed another arrow to her bow and let it fly. She wasted no time to prepare her next shot and fired it off alongside her classmates. She felt no doubt that her targets would hit their marks, because now more than ever, she would not miss. Every arrow she fired had to count, and she would make sure of that.

    Virgil turned to a nearby warrior and with a single slash cut down the soldier that he was locked in arms with. His blood spattered across the snow and he immediately turned to lunge at another who barely guarded his chest with the spear that he carried.
    “Thanks titan!” His classmate called out charging towards another with his spear at the ready.
    There was no time for pleasantries, but he did appreciate the thought. He forced the target back and slid forward with another lunge which knocked him to the ground and allowed for the Warrior to put the broadsword through his chest. The armour they wore was nothing like he'd ever seen; the horned helms and the plates were oddly crafted. Did most humans wear such a thing? As he attempted to withdraw his blade one of the Dark Moon's soldiers dashed towards him and took a wide horizontal swing with his curved blade. Virgil took the spear from the soldier that he killed and repelled the next strike, taking a step forward and impaling the swordsman with the weapon before the weapon fell from his hands. With the soldier still on the spear he hauled the two around him and knocked aside two nearby fighters. He released the weapon and immediately returned to his sword's side to receive a cut through his armour and across his back. He cursed and immediately spun around dragging the blade through the man's chest which viciously tore it open. As he gasped for air more soldiers approached and a stream of arrows fell upon them, one unlucky soul had one pierce his face.
    For a moment Virgil chuckled before recomposing himself. Looked like Alessa really was watching his back. It wasn't what he had intended with his words, but she wouldn't let him off easily if he died in this battle. Her words, 'If you let me die I'm gonna haunt you until you kick the bucket, and if you die I'm gonna pee on your tombstone'. Aptly put if he dared say so himself, since it was her after all. After he regained some stamina he readied his blade and returned to the fray, leaping to the aid of a comrade who was knocked to the ground; the spearmen who towered above her earned the blade of Virgil's weapon through his torso. Virgil drew the corpse closer and kicked the body to pull the weapon out and turned away.
    “Get to the healers as quickly as you can. Take his spear and keep your weapon sheathed until you need to use it again.” He told her. She nodded, put away her own spear and made off with his.
    From the rear a series of fireballs flew overhead and exploded, then rained down like mortars upon the Dark Moon which caused some of their soldiers to flee in various directions. A desperate attempt to escape the Mages' wrath but one that would cost them their lives. Temple Knights emerged from every direction to bash the soldiers with their shields and follow up with decisive finishing blows or a bash to the head to knock them unconscious. A flurry of arrows came down upon them and Virgil was shoved to the ground, a shadow overtook him; he turned over and gazed up to find a Temple Knight and his shield, the only thing that kept him safe from friendly fire.
    “Better watch yourself. You're in as much danger as they are.” He said before he leapt over the Warrior and clubbed a soldier over the back of the head.
    Virgil rose to his feet and turned to see a civilian wearing old and cracked leather armour be impaled by a spear and drop his chipped sword. Virgil felt rage flare up within him and he rushed the soldier, taking a low swing that cut through one leg which caused the soldier to hit the ground and writhe in pain. He hauled the blade over his shoulder and brought it down with a heavy grunt to decapitate his target. He breathed heavily and turned to watch others fall and felt disgusted with himself. Warlord Carmen warned all of her Warriors about being overtaken by anger during battle, and how it could cloud their better judgement and put them at risk also. He remember it clearly yet somehow the feeling grew within him. These were the people that he had grown up with; he had known them all his life and yet in an instant they could easily lose theirs. He had trained so this wouldn't happen. He couldn't let it!
    Holding the blade to his side and taking up a Warlord's stance, he rushed to the nearest soldier and cut him down with a single swing. A nearby civilian placed on the defensive of a soldier striking him with a flurry of swings from his katana was suddenly met with Virgil's sword cutting both of his hands off from the wrist and the blade acorss his chest.
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    TJ

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

    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Sun Jul 20, 2014 1:26 pm

    Pages 21-28:
    “T-thank you!” He said with a sigh of relief.
    It wasn't enough. He had to move faster. There were still hundreds of them coming in droves and they needed to hold out until Julius arrived. With the help of the Mages the earth was torn asunder and the skies were alight with their flames but they would eventually exhaust themselves and need to rest. The front line needed to make sure that they couldn't break through. Virgil would strike down anyone who had the gall to challenge him. His blade tearing through one soldier after the next and as he fought through them, anyone who could reach him took a swing at him. His arms and his back were the most wounded but he still pressed on. He found himself amidst the Temple Knights, often locked in combat with other swordsmen.
    One of them rushed past a nearby Temple Knight and brought his sword down upon Virgil who prepared to block the strike but only found the blade falling to the ground. A sword was pulled from his ribs and he joined his weapon. “You! What the hell do you think you're doing?! Get back with the warriors! You're not armed for this!” A nearby Temple Knight roared before he blocked a spearman's weapon. Though he couldn't see the face, he could tell by the voice that it had to be Temple Knight Wallace. His gruff, permanently angry tone had become strangely iconic amidst his students. He would prefer fighting alongside the Temple Knights to withstand the cavalry but the civilians were fighting alongside Carmen and they needed as much assistance as they could provide.
    He retreated and moved as cautiously as he could. He struck down enemies within his reach while he kept a close eye on his flanks and blind spots, to find his attention stolen from him by the shouts of a man that tore through the cries of war and agony.
    “Give us the Winged Magician you call your leader and you weaklings can surrender peacefully!” He roared. Virgil couldn't tell who exactly had said it, but perhaps he was the army's general? If he could find him and strike him down, their army would be in disarray and he would be crowned a hero. He froze. Had he forgotten what he fought for? Now was no time for him to be gripped by the thoughts of glory. If he let it go to his head he'd lose sight of their objective; they needed to stall the army until Julius arrived. But if Julius was the one they wanted, what would happen upon his arrival? He had to inform Warlord Carmen under any circumstances. He made his way through the battlefield, his sword at his side to cut down any who stood in his way. He stumbled over corpses but did all that he could to maintain his momentum suddenly being stopped by a spear held by two soldiers that winded him and dropped him to the ground. One of the two raised it above him and nearly impaled him, but he was saved by a civilian who tackled the soldier to the ground and was met with a swift elbow to the face. Before the other could slit his throat with his sword Virgil scrambled to his feet and cut through the spearman's armour and flesh. The civilian that he saved stumbled to his feet and dove  over Virgil's arched back, spear-first into the soldier's chest.
    The young man gave him a salute, took his pitchfork and dashed away. If anything, he had to give them credit for their bravery. He would never perform such a maneuver, but those reckless actions were the only reason he was not cut to pieces. More soldiers approached from his right flank and he took the opportunity to reclaim his sword and make his way back to his comrades. Most of them looked exhausted but still persisted in spite of it, while Warlord Carmen barked commands and cut down enemies. Their stamina was low but their morale was high, battle cries pierced the battlefield as they remained close and drew in enemies near and far, providing relief to the Mages.
    As Virgil approached Carmen another soldier stormed towards him and brought his blade down upon him, their blades clashed. Before he could counterattack another swift strike approached and he was forced to leap away, his sword in two. The wounds he received were slowing him down, and his lack of stamina even more so. A pitchfork sailed through the air and collided with the soldier's helmet which threw him off balance and allowed for Virgil to bring the broadsword down upon him, splitting the helmet and cracking his skull.
    “Warlord Carmen! I have something important to tell you!” He shouted as he gasped for air.
    “It better be good, and it better be quick! My time is important soldier!” She roared back. Two swordsman engaged her and she fended them both off with her weapon.
    Virgil emerged at her side and protected her left flank. “Their general is somewhere among their ranks.” He held the blade horizontally and blocked two swings to parry a third and counterattack, only to be blocked in turn. The weight of his blade caused the soldier to falter and be cut across the ribs.
    “And?” She protected herself from a flurry of strikes and rushed her opponent with her blade; the Warlord pushed him with enough force that he had to take a knee as he struggled to fight back the weight of her weapon. Eventually he collapsed and the blade met his face, leaving a bloody gash from the top of his head to his torso.
    “They're looking for Julius! He said that he would allow us to surrender if we'd give him to them!”
    “Give them the God's Governor?” She roared with laughter. “That's more of a joke than information! I'd sooner give him a steel kiss than that poor sap!” She lunged at a nearby soldier and hurled his body from her sword at some others, to knock them to the ground.
    Virgil watched as she disappeared behind others and immediately scanned the area for somewhere he could stand to avoid tripping over corpses. How did they know of him? The thought reeked of ill omens, but Virgil had no time to spare to ponder the matter.

    The Archers began to rain fire arrows down upon the soldiers of the Dark Moon and Alessa felt a bit of pleasure as she watched the soldiers looking like ants flee in terror from their onslaught. Some of the available citizens supplied them with more arrows as necessary. Though it was difficult to keep track of Virgil's whereabouts, she caught glimpses of him moving between squads. She found it more difficult to watch as her allies fell to the Dark Moon but she promised herself that she wouldn't be shaken, and that she'd provide as much support as she could from the battlements. Every arrow she let off could change the tides of battle, if even slightly she may be able to save her comrades. To see Meryl and the others who always were so easygoing standing side by side to defend their home brought her a bit of pride. Hearing Meryl command them was the biggest and most pleasant surprise of all. She began to understand that her duty was more than just passing on her knowledge; she was trained to protect them and lead them; to stand strong in the face of adversity and doubt so that those who followed her would not lose their courage. She admired the teacher a bit more, but reminded herself not to be swayed, since they were rivals, after all.
    When Virgil found his way back to Warlord Carmen she felt a bit of relief. If anyone could keep that oaf from getting killed it would certainly be her, and he had more than enough close calls. She placed another arrow to her bow and let it fly and nocked another. Her fingers were sore from the strings but she persisted. It seemed as if the battle would never end with how many soldiers streamed from the valley beyond, and as they proceeded she could see their forces being dwarfed by them. In spite of the fact, the Xenym militia managed to hold their own and everything seemed to be going rather well. It was likely only a matter of time before Julius and Rosetta would arrive to fight alongside them.
    As she prepared another arrow she froze in place, the strength from her body drained as she felt the blood soak through her armour. She slowly turned her head to see what had happened and behind her and many of her comrades, soldiers dressed in white cloth and masks with plated headbands had taken the battlements by storm and either disarmed or murdered her companions. Some had small black daggers within their necks or short swords in their backs. Those who were safe for the time being broke out into panic and cried in terror as the event played out before them. What were these fighters and how did they sneak past the others? Alessa slowly closed and opened her eyes, the screams of agony and death seemed to slowly become further and further away as she collapsed to the ground and she lay atop her left arm, finding herself surrounded by her own blood. Through blurred vision she saw her other classmates' struggle to maintain control of the battlements, her teach fighting off one of the Dark Moon's soldiers with a dagger.
    Alessa chuckled quietly. She never knew Meryl had it in her; she did teach the bow, crossbow and dagger users, but they rarely if ever saw her use any of the weapons. Now she stood locked in combat with a man in white garb wielding a short sword. The two meeting each strike in a flurry of blows. With a quick jab she plunged the dagger through his heart, rushed him to the ground and searched him, drawing three of his small daggers and a small pellet. She took the short sword and kicked the corpse from the battlements, then rose to her feet and tossed two daggers to meet with two that were thrown towards her and the third into the neck of the assailant. She tossed the pellet and a cloud of smoke enveloped a large portion of the area, her voice barely came through the smoke.
    Before Alessa knew it Meryl was by her side patching up her wounds using the cloth of the fallen soldiers as she asked, “Alessa, are you alright? Speak to me!”
    Alessa laughed quietly and uttered, “M-Meryl...you looked l-like a badass...a-also...I-I'm dying...” Meryl grit her teeth. Alessa thought her joke was somewhat clever, but clearly it was inappropriate. Reina once said that timing is everything, and she thought she had a pretty good sense of it. Perhaps it was more skewered than she had initially thought.
    “Help will come soon. Please, stay strong!” Meryl finished patching the wound and readied the blade. She disappeared into the smoke shortly after and the sounds of battle drifted away as her eyes slowly closed. Virgil wouldn't like this one bit.

    “RETREAT! ALL UNITS FALL BACK! THE GATES HAVE BEEN BREACHED! I REPEAT, THE GATES HAVE BEEN BREACHED!” The amplified voice of Sorceror Casteel rang across the battle and called out to the militia.
    “Fuck.” Warlord Carmen hissed as she hauled one of the wounded Warriors over her shoulder and began to retreat. “How the hell did they get past the gates?! Move it Squirt! We're gonna have to force them out of the Haven and reclaim the battlements!”
    Reclaim the battlements? He looked back to the Haven and saw the aftermath of the battles that had occurred. There were few, if any archers standing atop them and those that were remained locked in close-combat with soldiers of the Dark Moon in white garb. His mind went blank. He could see Meryl and some of the others, but where was Alessa? They couldn't have...he could feel his blood boiling. He had to get up there. He had to find Alessa and get her out of there. Could he have been too late? No...he would get there and he would save her under all circumstances. He had to.
    “GET OUT OF MY WAY!” He roared as he broke out into a berserk frenzy in which he wielded his sword with one hand and cut down any that wore the Dark Moon's colours. “ALESSA! ALESSA CAN YOU HEAR ME?!” He tore across the battlefield in a mindless slaughter and eventually surpassed the other Warriors and Mages who had rushed to reach the gates. The Wind Mages forced the gates open with magic and retreated into the village while others joined the struggle on the battlements. Virgil shoved and slashed his way through droves of the Dark Moon's soldiers to get closer to where he wanted but they would not let him go so easily. As he forced his way through four soldiers immediately tackled and pinned him to the ground, the Warrior managed to break free temporarily and rise to his feet again. Spears and swords came from all direction and cut through or damaged his armour, some deepened previous cuts. Bloody but headstrong he forced his way through, roaring incoherently as he took swings using only his right arm, the left bloody and limp. Upon one more sword placing a cut on his back, he collapsed to one knee and roared, a mixture of rage and agony. His adrenaline could only take him so far. He gripped his sword as he collapsed to a knee and collapsed in the snow.
    The Dark Moon proceeded; they approached Xenym like a hurricane and there was little else he could do. He couldn't save Alessa, nor could he save the town. Had he listened to Warlord Carmen, perhaps things would have changed. How wrong he was to be bested by his own emotions.

    Julius & Rosetta
    At the base of the mountains a small wooden shrine rested, a home to weary travellers and a tribute to the God's Governor of Earth named Terros' Respite. Julius visited occasionally to pray to his ancestors for their wisdom and guidance, the man often brought gifts to bestow upon the altar within. The God's Governors were never known to be figures of worship, nor had they wanted to be, but such shrines were occasionally found across Jienda, and in bringing gifts the people felt safer with the belief that the God's Governors were watching over and protecting them. Here Julius felt closer to his father and his forefathers; his concentration felt enhanced and he would meditate. At such a crucial time he had no such fortune. The time to fight had come, and to keep to his mantra he would have to make many difficult choices. He and his familiar Bane stood face-to-face upon a magic circle lined with various runic markings and symbols. Julius' eyes remained close and he chanted an incantation as Bane looked at him forlornly. His wife clad in pearl white armour from head to toe, watched on from the sidelines with a restless Kasumi in her bare hands. Both hands had a series of symbols across them, her barely visible wrists also.
    As Julius spoke the magic circle began to emanate a bright light while it emitted enough wind pressure to cause his robes to flutter. “As I speak these words, I relinquish all ties as Master to you, my familiar Bane, and grant these privileges to the proxy God's Governor of Earth Kasumi Kolb! To serve and protect shall be your right, and to live and die for her your duty! I now relieve you of your duty.” Julius chanted. The ring on his middle finger turned into a series of tiny spheres of light and gathered upon Kasumi's, to once again form the proof of the contract to Bane. The familiar walked over to his previous master and whimpered while Julius gently stroked his head. “I know you want to fight alongside us, but you have a much more important duty. You must succeed where Rosetta and I will fail, and protect our daughter. This world's future rests on her shoulders.”
    Rosetta's lips curled into a smile but she looked as if she was wounded. “We truly are terrible parents, aren't we Julius?” She asked before she turned her gaze to her child who reached out to her while she cooed.
    The God's Governor of Earth walked over and lifted the visor on his wife's helmet and placed a hand to her face. “We are, but we do what we must. We as well as the other God's Governors must make a difficult decision. Our time has passed, and I believe it's time we passed the torch onto the new generation of God's Governors. Though Bane protests against our decision, he's told me that he could hear Her voice. She is calling out to us, but not me or the other God's Governors; the children...yes, they can reach Her.” He smiled bitterly. “If this is to happen, perhaps they will be able to reach the Abellan also.”
    “Do you really believe we've no other choice Julius? If it is for you I've no qualms, but for our daughter's sake...I fear leaving her alone. She is nothing more than a baby. How will she survive?”
    “Bane will be able to protect her from danger. Perhaps a kind family of Humans would be willing to take her in and raise her as their own?” Julius suggested the idea with as much confidence as he could muster but a hint of his doubt escaped in his question. Rosetta pursed her lips and the look she offered seemed to plead for him to give a more concrete answer, but his choices were limited. “Should push come to shove, Kasumi will be able to survive even if it is in the wilderness. The God's Governor of Earth is a friend to the land and many of the creatures that inhabit it. Fear not my love, Kasumi will not fall.”
    She nodded solemnly. Her eyes seemed to glaze over as she gently rocked the child in her arms. Julius silently watched, the last time she would see her mother would be the woman clad in armour, holding her one final time. He wished to have more time with the two, but he knew that his duty was to his people before his family.
    Rosetta shifted her gaze to him and blinked. “Are you not afraid? Julius?”
    The sound of his name awoke him from his reverie. “Me?” He shifted his glasses and looked down at their daughter to stroke her hair and see her smile and laugh as she reached out for his finger. She had taken so much from her mother, from her hair to her eyes, though they were green like his. “Yes...I'm petrified at the thought. Not of just dying alone, mind. To have to use these weapons again...to...wield my magic against humanity. But even more so to risk losing you or Kasumi...it's all rather akin to a nightmare.” He looked at her and she blinked once more, curiosity replaced doubt. “But we must stand strong. Should our daughter remember anything of us when she grows, I wish her to remember the smiles we shared over the short time we had been together as a family. I love you with all my heart Rosetta, and Kasumi equally as much. If I can make this world even a tiny bit safer for her, and quell the fears of the colony as a whole, it will not be a wasted effort.”
    “I will stand by you until my last breath Julius. So long as I stand, none shall harm you.” A faint smile danced on the edge of her lips. “I pray that our daughter will find a worthy pledger also. I know that she would not settle for anything less than the best.”
    Julius chuckled. “Like mother like daughter.”
    “Our meeting was chance, and if I could go back I would not change a thing.” She leaned in to kiss him and he followed suit, the God's Governor collided with the visor and retracted with a jolt. She chuckled and placed their daughter in his hands to take her helmet off and kiss him before he could react. “Perhaps it's time.”
    He nodded. Bane padded over to the two and stood beside Julius. Rosetta brought over a harness and placed it upon the familiar and turned to him. “Kasumi, you must forgive me for placing such a burden on your shoulders. Not just me, but all of us; from me to your grandfather and those before him. You and the others must finish the war that we and our forefathers have started but could not complete. There is little that I can offer you, but to aid in your journey I will leave you with three gifts. Perhaps when you come of age and come to understand you'll despise us for it, but know that no matter how you feel towards us that we loved you.”
    Rosetta took the child and strapped her to the harness, the device kept the child close to her familiar and prevented her from falling. As she did she gently told her, “Kasumi, your father and I won't be by your side any longer, but if you ever feel alone remember that we will always be watching over you. Somewhere amidst all the stars in the sky the two of us will be smiling down upon you, watching you as you grow and protecting you from whatever tries to do you harm. When you're older you too will have someone that will fight by your side and keep you safe. Until that time comes, be strong my love.” She kissed her daughter on the head and pulled the hood to her white winter coat over her head.
    “You know what needs to be done, right Bane?” Julius asked, crouching down to speak to the wolf. The wolf gazed at him and he chuckled gently. “I know you do, there's no need to pretend you don't. I'd like to spend more time with you also but Xenym needs us. I leave Kasumi in your care.”
    “Thank you, Bane.” Rosetta added.
    The wolf walked away only to steal a glance at the two before he sprinted towards the door. He raised a paw to open it slightly and used his head to push it further so he and the child could exit, then leapt into the snow and disappeared. Julius turned to his wife who stood with her right arm tightly gripping her left wrist. Though he could not see through her bangs he knew she had already shed tears. He brushed her bangs aside and wiped away her tears with his thumb, then rested his forehead against hers gently and solemnly. The two remained in that state for a few moments and Rosetta took a deep breath. She looked at him through puffy red eyes and smiled, and he smiled back. She had always been strong for him; for once, he felt relieved to know that he could be for her.
    “Julius, I'm ready,” She said.
    He nodded. “Do you remember what I had taught you about this? Would you like me to remind you?”
    “Please do. A moment for a refresher may save our lives,” She chuckled.
    “The spell that I've casted on you is one that allows me to channel spells ahead of time; each one will be marked as a symbol somewhere upon your body, and as you battle you can use them to aid you. Each can only be used once, and as you do it will utilize your stamina and my mana. This is my first time performing such a spell, so use it sparingly if possible Rosetta. I don't wish to be the reason for you to experience harm.”
    She chuckled gently. “A magical wound or two will not cause me to falter Julius. We have survived that spell and many others in battles prior. But if you are worried, you could start by refraining from taking lessons from seedy barkeeps.”
    “He was a Confidant and a barista my love. I've no need for barkeeps.”
    She smiled devilishly. “I've no doubts in you. Begin at your leisure.” He placed a hand to her head and with the other traced a rune with his finger, a shimmering trail of blue was left in its wake and disappeared afterwards, the symbols upon Rosetta emanated a faint green light. “How strange. I can feel your mana...it's...warm.”
    “That must mean the spell worked. This is great news!”
    “You are an adept at spell casting my dear. Now you've but one more task that needs to be accomplished before we can begin.”
    “Yes...I haven't used it since then, but now may be the time to utilize it. It may be for the best that we perform this outside, as I believe that Terros would not be pleased if I destroyed his shrine.”
    The two moved a fair distance away from the shrine, Rosetta offering Julius ample amounts of space so as not to be caught in the radius of his actions. He removed the gnarled wooden staff from behind him and plunged it into the ground, then placed his palms together. Three massive magic circles emerged from beneath him, two rose into the sky and the other remained where it began, each reflecting a series of runes in their ancient language. “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 Terros! Allow me to awaken and walk the path of light once more as your Governor!” Vines emerged from the ground and twisted around each other while two massive leaves emerged from the ground and engulfed Julius like the bud of a flower. When it finally opened Julius levitated in the center, the God's Governor now clad in a coat of leaves with vines that sprawled across his whole body. His hair green and adorned with a series of flowers; two branches emerged from his head like mighty antlers, and two wings emerged from his back, long branches with leaves throughout, other variations of flowers spread across them. His entire body was alight with runic markings. As he stepped away from the spell the remains immediately returned to the ground and Rosetta met him with an impish smile.
    “You look wonderful, my love,” She remarked.
    “I've never been fond of the flowers, to be completely honest. But if this is the look that my ancestor once adorned and what he intended for us, then I will wear it with pride.” Julius said before he outstretched a hand to her. “Xenym awaits. Shall we? ”
    She took his hand. “Let's.”
    With one mighty beat of his wings the two took off and soared towards the Haven.

    With the Haven a short walk's distance away, Julius landed and plunged his staff into the ground. He placed his palms together and closed his eyes for a moment to concentrate and surround himself with his mana. “What the gods have giveth, they may taketh. I, the proxy of the earth shall decide the fate of those who obey and those that dare to deter. I will pass judgement upon them, and shall take them with me to the after life! Rise, sands! Heed my command and retrieve the lost souls of my allies! Tomb of the Pharaoh!” Julius roared.
    Raging sands emerged from the ground surrounding Xenym and spiralled around the Haven like a tornado. From the eye of the storm a small whirlwind emerged and surrounded both Julius and Rosetta, which raised them from where they stood and brought them within the confines of the spell Julius had created. The two were placed upon a small landing of sand, with a magic circle placed upon the center high above the village itself. Beneath them they saw the soldiers of the Dark Moon gathered within the plaza, some looking up in awe while others followed their issued commands; citizens of Xenym were dragged from their damaged homes while they struggled to keep their most precious possessions; families were torn apart and taken captive, dragged away from the Haven to the gates, though there was no escape for those who were contained within the spell. Corpses were littered across the battlefield, portions of the village were destroyed and signs of an inevitable failure showed that the militia of Xenym had fought with all they had. Julius and Rosetta were too late to save many of them.
    He closed his fist and upon opening it a small magic circle emerged from it and levitated before the two. “For millenniums the Cerebians have guarded humanity against the evils that lurked just outside of the zones that His Highness had created to protect them, and now you turn your swords against us?” He closed his eyes for a moment. Seeing his fallen comrades, both young and old was a sight too familiar for both him and Rosetta. After such a short time the time would come where they would see it again. He only hoped that the words he was told were true, and that even if only a few, he could save as many lives as possible. He despised the path that fate had offered him, but if what the clairvoyant had told him was true, it may have been for the best. Though only a small comfort, he found some truth in his words prior, and in this he could only hope that the truth would shine through. “We’re not so uncivilized that we would seek bloodshed over the opportunity to reform the ignorant, but you have left us little choice in this matter. Release those that you’ve taken captive and walk away, and there will be no further need for violence.”
    Rosetta took a step forward and glared down upon their adversaries, some now terrified, while others roared in another language, likely nothing more than jeers. “We’ve lived alongside the Cerebians and the greater half of the world is still yet to realize it! We all share in the same dream; to bring salvation to humanity! There is no need to wage war against each other when there is a much greater threat over the horizon! This is not what their gods wish for, nor is it what the Cerebians intend to do. If you persist with this path, then I, Rosetta, contractee and wife to God’s Governor of Earth Julius shall be your opponent.” She drew her sword and shield and pointed it down at the group.
    “I've not a doubt in my mind that you've come here with a purpose, and am positive that you did not find this place by mere fortune. I will ask only once, for what reason have you invaded our sanctuary?” Both Julius and Rosetta spoke the common human language, but it seemed that those below did not.
    The soldiers began to make way for one riding in on horseback, clad in sold black armour with a horned helmet. Many of them wore armour very unfamiliar to the couple, but of them he was the one that stood out the most. Perhaps the army's general?
    “You are the leader of the Winged Ones, correct?” He shouted to the two.
    Rosetta turned to him and gave him a solemn nod. “I'm no leader, but at this time I will take the title to negotiate.” Julius answered.
    “You shall come with us. Your people will go free.” He called the men who had made their exit from within the gates recently and no more than twenty of Xenym's citizens were among them.
    Julius was not amused with the paltry offering he had received. Many had fallen in the battle, and he knew he could not reclaim the lives that were lost. But he could tell that those were not the only remaining Cerebians; there were others, and he could feel their presence outside the boundaries of his spell. He would not be fooled by the Dark Moon. The clairvoyant had warned him 'Most of Xenym will have died fighting, and there are others that'll be taken captive. You could try and rescue them all, but more lives will be lost in the process. Including a certain kid's'.  If Julius was to call their bluff, negotiations would immediately fail and they could potentially lose much more in the process. Though he knew surrendering himself would be the greatest mistake he could make, at the very least he needed to gather as much knowledge as he could from them. It would certainly be crucial to the next generations. “Before I surrender myself to you, I wish for an answer to my question.”
    The army cleared way for a man in white garb, and he and the general began to discuss the matter. Upon coming to a consensus, the general looked up to the two again and responded, “Your gods are false idols! The Dark Moon Kingdom has found the true path to the salvation of humanity! Your gods only seek to bring about an end! His Highness will not mislead us as your gods do!”
    Julius looked aghast. He clenched his teeth and scowled upon them all. If the Dark Moon Kingdom knew of the Cerebian gods and intended to stand against them specifically, there was no doubt in his mind that who they worshipped was the god that went against everything they believed in. Their leader had fooled them into believing that the path they followed was righteous, and in doing so had sealed their fate, along with the rest of the world's. It was madness, and Julius had to stop it, but the word of the king is absolute, whoever their king was. To surrender himself really would be playing right into the hands of his worst enemies, and so long as he was theirs, Kasumi would never succeed him. Julius only had a vague idea of the punishment the Cerebians would go through for the slaughter of humanity, but he could not allow his entire colony, and the world that they swore to protect to fall to darkness. “ENOUGH!” He roared. “Do you take me for a fool?! You've taken our people captive beyond the walls of the village, and now you wish for me to surrender myself so you could proceed with your regime unhindered? I will offer you an ultimatum. Return those that you've taken captive, every, last, one of them and leave. Those who wish to may leave immediately, unhindered. Those who should  refuse to do so, shall all be buried by the Tomb of the Pharaoh!”
    The general raised his sword to the two and rallied his men. “No man can escape death, be it human or inhuman! Prove that you are worthy to die by the blade! Archers, fire on my mark!”
    “Not only I, the colony shall retaliate if this is the path you chose! So be it!” He removed his staff from within the sand and gave Rosetta a nod. She gently kissed him as he muttered a few words giving her weapon a bright glow. “My strength is yours. Return to me safely, my love.”
    “Watch me Julius, I will sunder them in your name.” She said before she drew her shield and leaped into the crowd. “I will carry out the will of God Ah!”
    “FIRE!” Hayato roared. A slew of arrows were launched towards Julius and were met by a massive wall of sand that stopped them with ease. The wall hardened and they fell behind Rosetta as she plunged her sword into the ground and shattered it, which created a massive fissure before her; the men around it were dragged in while others were launched by the upturned earth. Upon discovery of the power of the two, the general and many of his men made their escape towards the exit while Julius watched them from afar, a lingering remorse limply hung in the air. A portion for allowing them to escape, while the rest for the lives that would be lost that day; for the people of Xenym, the captives, and for the blind followers of the Dark Moon. It was the path that he had chosen, and he prayed it would lead them to true salvation.
    “Choose wisely, warriors!” Rosetta roared before she shield bashed a soldier and plunged her sword into the ground. “Save yourselves or die by the hands of Julius and I!” She tightly gripped the hilt of the blade and vines emerged from the ground and rooted those nearby in place. Julius placed his staff on his back and placed his hands to the landing he stood on, his hands sunk in as a magic circle appeared around them. Massive plans like fly traps emerged and swallowed the soldiers that surrounded her. As they submerged in the ground Rosetta quickly searched the crowd for the general but found neither him nor the horse he rode in on. Many of the soldiers in cloth had disappeared also, as well as the one that seemed to lead them. They had deserted their men so easily yet they still fought to bring down Julius. Was their cause worth dying for? How much had the Dark Moon informed them about their god? She sheathed her blade and plunged her shield into the ground to place her palms together. Arrows rained upon her as an earthen shield arose and surrounded her. It was a pity the soldiers would die by their hands, but for Jienda to have a future, sacrifices would have to be made. She and Julius also, had many precious things to lose.
    When Rosetta's shield collapsed the ground trembled viciously, and pillars of rock emerged from the ground to impale those who were not so fortunate in finding higher ground. In such a short time corpses littered the battlefield, but still soldiers emerged from outside the gates of Xenym to try their hand at killing the contractor and contractee. Once the earth had returned to its normal shape Rosetta charged the soldiers that rushed into her; a flurry of swords and spears surrounded her immediately and she parried them one after the next while she avoided others. She remained crouched behind her shield and took stabs with her blades at those she could find an opening in. Any that found an opening on her would be met with Julius' magic, be it sand that would crush their armour and the poor soul within or swallowed by the earth. She took a wide swing with her blade and plunged her shield into the ground, creating a series of vines that surrounded her in a radius that ranged from one side of the plaza to the other. She sheathed her blade and placed her hands to the ground where they submerged, and as they did the vines moved by her command. Many of the soldiers lost their footing as the plants came to life, while others were grabbed by their legs or their necks and were strangled or tossed into buildings and the tornado itself.
    Rosetta had only seen the spells performed by Julius, and very rarely at that, but she knew them by heart and the motions that accompanied them. She could feel his watchful eye as she performed every stroke, and not a hint of fear would take root within her knowing that the two were one. She ended the spell and readied her weapons again as she rose to her feet. Three swordsman took her by storm and she retreated back, a multitude of waves made of sand emerged from all around her and disarmed those caught within while it forced them back and into the walls of buildings. She took a deep breath and readied herself for the onslaught that would return once the time Julius had bought her came to a close; the use of spells drained her stamina rather quickly, and without a doubt he had predicted such an event. Thoughtful down to the last detail, Rosetta expected no less from her husband. The waves finally ended and soldiers jumped from rooftops and rappelled down the battlements to get the jump on her again. Arrows rained down upon Julius and he deflected each and every one with a small chunk of rock.
    “Rosetta, bombs incoming!” Julius shouted in the heat of the moment. She stole a glimpse to the skies and immediately fell back towards the temple upon the discovery of the bombs that rained upon her. The moment they made contact with the ground the flames licked the earth and set much of Xenym ablaze. She took cover underneath her shield as they fell all around her and surrounded her with flames. She guarded her face with her sword hand and searched for a location where she would be safe from them, while she watched as the soldiers braved the flames to get to her. A stream of sand was fired from above and put out the flames around the city as she fought off the soldiers that approached her.
    She blocked a thrust from a spearman and stabbed at the nearest swordsman, to pull away as two emerged from his flanks, one leaped towards her and brought his blade down while the other performed a wide horizontal swing. She stomped the ground and the earth trembled to which she immediately followed the action by placing her shield to her back and held  her blade skyward. The ground she stood on sank and a whirlpool of sand emerged from all around her, The soldiers were pulled in and at each she pointed her blade, a sharp shard of earth would emerged from the sand and would dart towards the target, to pierce their throats and skulls. She placed her sword in the ground and tightly held the hilt as she closed her eyes.
    “Julius, are you ready?” She called out to him.
    “Absolutely. Let's begin.” He closed his eyes for a moment and a small magic circle appeared on his forehead, with a matching circle on hers. Rosetta saw Xenym through his eyes, and utilizing his spell she located those that were hidden throughout the town and prepared the next phase of the spell. From the whirlpool hands emerged and gripped the soldiers who waited to ambush the two or fire arrows on Julius and pulled them into it to bury them within its depths. The magic circle disappeared on both of them and the earth became level again shortly after, the sand collapsed upon the ground and washed away those killed within.
    “This is only the beginning!” Rosetta drew her weapon and stormed the soldiers that still remained. More that were willing to cast away their lives challenged her, some fell by the blade while others were met with Julius' casts. They came in a two pronged attack, five spearmen dived down upon her from above while four swordsman attacked from each side of her. She raised her sword skyward but kept it close to her chest as she did her shield, and her body was immediately encased in rock. Once each attack was deflected the rock shattered and she emerged with a spinning slash. She wiped the ground with her blade and three small fissures ruptured the earth and shattered after reaching a certain distance.
    “Rosetta, it's time!” Julius shouted.
    “I see. Let's put an end to this.” Rosetta sheathed her sword and slammed her shield into the ground once more. “Come no closer, or you will be reduced to  bloody ornaments upon the final wall of the sanctuary of Julius and I!” She roared to those that dared to approach her. A series of sharp rocks akin to fangs tore the ground asunder and surrounded Rosetta, closing off the area between the gates and the temple. Just as she had warned them, many became bloody corpses upon the edges of earth that surrounded them. She placed her shield upon her back and let out a sigh. How long would it be until humanity turns against itself in the battle against the Agasura? The Cerebians aimed to turn the tides of war in their favour, yet they saw them as enemies as lashed out against them. The Dark Moon standing at the forefront of this campaign may have chosen to side with the Agasura, but for what reason? She clasped her hands together and held them to her chest. In a matter of moments Julius had landed by her side and placed an arm around her waist. Her armour made it rather difficult for him, and beneath the visor she smiled.
    “You are a natural my love.” He said gazing upon the battlefield before them. He smiled but his eyes had a misty look in them. He was contemplating the future that would come from their actions that day. Perhaps he thought of their baby girl riding away with the only family that she may come to know.
    She removed her helmet and dropped it to the ground, to give her husband a soft gaze. “It is all for you, Julius.” She said.
    Tears began to well up in his eyes and as the first few fell, he wiped them away with his sleeve and gently shook his head. “It's only a matter of moments before we join them in the other world.” She could see many of the men as they panicked and others who attempted to escape, not being as fortunate as those who had already taken their leave. Soldiers were at the tornado's mercy and those that were released met a grim fate within the walls or outside of the walls of the Haven. “I knew that our time would come someday. I hope that our prayers reach God Ah and he protects our precious daughter. My last wish, though selfish, I had wished to pass away by your side. If I could do that, I would have no regrets left in this world.”
    “I could ask for nothing more. Let these final moments be our treasure.” Rosetta stood before him and  leaned in to place her lips against his one last time. He reached within his cloak and drew a tiny transparent azure gem. He held it up and it began to glow and levitate as a magic circle appeared beneath the two. “I love you, now and forever Julius.”
    “As do I, Rosetta.”
    The two took each others' hands and rested their foreheads together. A smile laced each of their lips as the circle began to emanate a bright light. As if the two became one with the earth, their legs turned to bark and as the magic rose on their bodies so did their entirety, roots emerged from their feet and took their place within the cold hard ground. The gem took its place between their intertwined fingers and the tree took the shape of their bodies, solidifying once and for all. It began to glow brightly, like a lighthouse within the darkness.
    The sand that surrounded Xenym began to move faster and with more ferocity, to which it eventually gathered above the Haven and collapsed upon it. Xenym was buried and the tornado that covered it settled upon the Haven as a whole, only to leave nothing but the memory of what once was, and the aftermath of a new enemy of the Cerebians.

    Big update this time around. Decided to knock off both at once and do a post about them. Truth be told, I felt a bit unsure about showing the war in USS because it didn't really fit the setting or the idea of the original, but I feel like it added the impact and really emphasizes both Kasumi and Samson's side of the story. Though I am fond of the original, I had these scenes(Reina and co. were not originally part of it but are now) planned out for Sanc. Problem was, it would have to be a flashback that wouldn't exactly fit, since it would be Julius and Rosetta's memory, and not Kasumi's. Moving on, I've included both before and after the arrival of the God's Governor, and added a bit more character to the civilians of Xenym while switching perspectives between each character duo. I'd thought about separating them into single categories for each person, but since it would often switch between one or the other, like with A&V it seemed a tad unnecessary. Think I might keep it this way, but I won't do it for Kasumi and Samson, since their scenes will overlap at times and others split apart, also moving in different portions of the timeline. Speaking of, I actually have a timeline! It doesn't really include the possible futures yet, but it does have the main plot points from before and after Frequency. It's kinda spoilery though, might post it later and my original fail with USSR.
    Still, I've gotta admit, writing scenes with hundreds of soldiers is hard as all hell. I didn't wanna draw out the fights between them, but at the same time I didn't want them to feel so half-assed you know? I mean in the heat of battle people die left and right but it seemed weird to me. Too many non-humans in my novels lol. Definitely something I need to work on. I'd given the use of skills a lot of thought for the Xenym militia, but it didn't really suit the style of battle. Essentially some would use them, and others wouldn't know how so they don't, but others would choose not to because they've no intention of actually killing their targets. I tried to show that a bit through a small comparison between the TKs and the WLs, though it's kinda subtle. Bit of a mixed bag huh?
    Though I think the real kicker for this portion was Rosetta and Julius' fight. After I wrote it I had a feeling that Julius didn't really do enough, but it felt right that he didn't go all out because he'd destroy all of Xenym with his power, so he left it in Rosetta's hands. With those two they merged their style with a bit of a certain someone's
    Spoilersss:
    which is something he'll actually utilize at some point, (won't say when though!)
    to giver her fighting style a bit more power. On that note, it's something I'm kinda proud of. After watching so much Avatar I felt inspired again to keep the elements to their respective concepts, and here again I tried to do that as I had with some of Kasumi's battles. Each spell Rosetta utilizes is more defensive than offensive, but still having enough impact to bring down her enemies. Took a bit of inspiration from the original USS too, though using one of the spells Kasumi had then would've made a really good homage. Regardless, you might be seeing things like that later on too! If I ever get around to finishing off Sanc.
    Hopefully things should get easier since i can return to the storyboards and follow the original's ideas, once again with new stuff. Once that's done I'll give Innocent another whirl. I'll keep you updated as things progress! And I'll uhh...consider that offer.
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Wed Aug 13, 2014 2:30 pm

    Pages 28-35:
    Samson
    It was unlike Samson to return to Xenym so soon after leaving, but even he could barely contain his excitement at the birth of his niece. He had spent some time travelling to Elfa to see the Human's tribute to the goddesses Undine and Dione, the city alone being the only one to worship a Cerebian icon. Julius had never been to the event, so it would definitely be a story he would be interested in, and Reina and the others would likely take quite the fancy to it also. He made his way through the mountain pass towards the faint trail that would lead him to his old home and found himself back within the storm that raged on around him. He was dressed for the occasion, thankfully, but nature would not hold back against him this day. He was barraged by harsh winds and snow but it was nothing new to him; it was often common weather for Xenym and the tundra that surrounded it.
    He could not see much through the snow but he knew the distance and path to the Haven by heart, so he had no fears that he would be lost, and if he was someone would certainly find him before he died of hypothermia. He had high hopes, at the very least; he sent no word of his arrival so the chances were slim, but he had faith in himself. He began to approach the Haven and as he did he spotted what seemed to be unusual mounds of snow scattered about. The lands were typically flat, save for the mountains that surrounded the Haven so he felt it would be best to investigate further. He walked over to one of them and skimmed his foot through it to which he immediately jumped back with his mouth agape. It was an armoured corpse. He placed a hand to his head and shook it gently. An invader? Perhaps there was others? He moved along and crouched in the snow to search another mound to find another corpse. Those who had fallen wore similar armours, but only that he had seen somewhere during his journey. How could he forget such a crucial thing? The spears and swords that they wielded reminded him of Aoich, and he had a feeling that was exactly where the soldiers were from. He searched others and found the corpses of people that wore no armour, or makeshift armour, wielding weapons not made for combat. The civilians of Xenym had joined in the fight, and the remains of the various students of the Haven joined them also. In the time he was gone the Haven had become a battlefield, and only death had remained afterwards. He felt a sinking in the pit of his stomach; if these were some of Xenym's best soldiers lying face down in the snow, what of Julius and Rosetta? Their daughter Kasumi? If they had fallen he'd...he would...do...nothing. He was absent when they needed him, and powerless. He could not turn the tides of time to undo what had occurred here. He could only search, and pray that they survived.
    He moved forward and searched within the veil of snow until he could see Xenym, or at the very least what he believed it was, and froze in place. Out of both shock and desperation he rushed towards it and stumbled, only to collapse in the snow and rise again to continue. The time it took him and his lack of stamina meant nothing to him as he used every last breath he had to reach, holding hopes that what he saw was nothing more than his eyes deceiving him. He stumbled towards the remains of Xenym, nothing more than a mound and dug his nails into the frozen sand. Despite his efforts the sand would not move, and he persisted, time and again but to no avail. Tears welled up in his eyes as he slammed his fist against the mound and screamed a series of muddled words.
    “JULIUS! JULIUS!” He finally roared before he drew his dagger and attempted to plunge it into sand. The blade met the mound and proved not enough to break through leaving Samson no further options. Desperation and distress over took him and he continued, a stream of sobs followed every word. “Julius! Why? Why did you do this Julius?!” He slumped to his knees and let his weapon fall to the ground as he shook his head. “No...”

    How long had it been since that day? Samson had lost his sense of time, place, and self since he had visited Xenym. He knew that spell well, and he knew the cost for summoning it, as did Julius, the one who taught him about it. Samson spent years traversing Jienda in search of answers as to why his younger brother had made such a choice for the whole of Xenym, and why he had not told him anything of it, but regardless of who he asked and where, none had the slightest clue. Over the years he had felt older than he was, and he began to look the part also. His beard had grown rather long and unkempt, and his hair followed suit; he constantly had bags under his eyes from a lack of sleep and a slight limp to his walk, his back arched from all the nights he had camped out. Out of desperation, he returned to the home of a Confidant that lived in Elias in hopes that he may have caught word of the happenings in Xenym, or at the very least a clue for Samson to follow.
    The shop that the Confidant owned was a small tea shop hidden away in Elias' Old Town District. Since the plaza had been renovated, very few if any travellers visited the district so it had become rather deserted over the years. Alike to the plaza, it had apothecaries, weapons and armour dealers and a couple of restaurants scattered about. Samson approached his destination, a small and still relatively lovely looking shop called Madelaine's Tea Stop despite its age. It was a homely looking place decorated with flowers and an assortment of pictures and other decorations within. He opened the front door and the bell above chimed gently as he stepped foot inside, his eyes met with the barista's behind the bar.
    The barista eyed him cautiously as he cleaned a glass, steadily coming to a halt as he examined the worn-down Samson. The ring of the bell upon his bracelet signalled the realization as he stepped back and fumbled the cup while he shouted, “Gods!” He caught it with a sigh of relief and placed it down upon the counter as he gestured for Samson to come closer. “Samson, is that you? You look like a wet and miserable dog on his dying day. What happened to you?” The barista was young, his voice told it all. Samson was likely twenty years his senior, and the more often he saw him the older he felt.
    “I've been around.” Samson muttered before he collapsed into a stool at the bar and buried his face in his sleeve.
    “I can tell. You certainly smell the part. You want me to get Skuld to hose you down? I mean, literally, not figuratively. We don't run a soap house, you lolicon.” Samson did not offer the joke a response and the barista frowned. “Jeez...stop looking so grim or I'll start calling you Old Yeller. Though I'm not gonna be the one to take you out back. I have standards to uphold around here, and I'd rather not chase off my customers.”
    “Your shop is rather empty, don't you think?” Samson responded as he raised his head.
    The barista clicked his tongue. “If you want the whole fancy-pants experience go see Verun. You're not getting that kind of service here. Just good ol' regular people service from us. But you must have come for a reason, other than drinking the best dang cuppa joe this side of Elias. So, out with it. Tell big brother Vanir what's on your mind.”
    Samson was always just a little bit bothered when Vanir talked down to him, but it never fazed him enough for him to make a complaint. After dealing with Alessa for so many years, and seeing how Meryl handled her entire class treating her like a child rather than a teacher he considered himself fortunate. Now that he could not see them at all, let alone his family he really wondered if he was all that fortunate. “It...Xenym, Vanir. It's gone. Buried. And I think it might have been by Julius' hands...he's gone, the people of Xenym dead, and Kasumi...”
    “Okay whoa. Talk about dropping the baggage bomb there.” Vanir stroked his silver ponytail gently while he thought for a moment. “Well you're in luck. I know a bit about that, but you'll need to tell me who this Kasumi is. Your lover? Ex-lover? Potential romantic interest? Gimme the skinny.”
    Vanir very rarely, if ever took any situation seriously. His happy-go-lucky demeanour could be charming to some, and an insult to others, but Samson found himself somewhere in between both sides of the spectrum. Essentially he would get his answers from the barista, through trial and error, but it would happen eventually. Had the matter not been so grave perhaps he would find some amusement in the conversation. “Julius' daughter.”
    The barista's mouth opened slowly, and closed at the same speed as he muttered, “Oh.” He rubbed the sleeve of his white dress shirt uneasily and took a deep breath through his teeth. “Well then, so that came out of left field. It's one land mine after the next...” He crossed his arms and thought for a couple of moments. The black fedora he wore covered most of his face and the scarf he wore around his head the rest, but Samson could guess the expression he would have made at the time. “A little birdy told me that the God's Governor of Earth is active. By that I mean there wasn't a point where they became inactive so there's a good chance that she's still kicking if you're sure uhh...you know. Her dad...” He slid his thumb across his neck and made an odd sound to accompany it.
    “Do you know why Xenym had went to war with the Humans?”
    Vanir nodded gravely. “Take a load off Samson. I'll tell you everything I know.” He turned his gaze to the stairwell at the far end of the shop. “Skuld, come down here will ya?” At his beck and call the young waitress rushed down the stairs to take point next to Samson, on the other side of the counter. Clad in her usual green maid outfit and matching gatsby and moccasins, she looked up to catch a glimpse of the barista through shining emerald eyes. The bell on her choker chimed readily. “Be a dear and bring Samson some tea, will ya?” She nodded and made her way to the kitchen before she turned around to wave to him and spin around once more, her puffy green twin tails following after her before she continued as requested. “What a doll.”
    Samson had always found the pair to be a tad strange. Skuld, was essentially a pet called a Brownie; she was not the first he had seen across Jienda, but she was certainly the first with an unusual amount of green in all of her features. As one would suspect, the Brownies were known for the amount of brown they wore, along with their matching features, eyes and hair included. Most were trained to accompany their owners into battles against Agasuras, but his silent companion was trained to be a waitress, and she did it exceptionally well. He never heard of a sub-species of the creature, in spite of their current rarity, but it was something he among many other Cerebians and Humans alike came to accept, strange as it was. “So what knowledge can you share with me Vanir? Anything you know is better than nothing.”
    “The Kid told me that the Dark Moon had invaded Xenym in search of Julius. I don't think either of us know exactly what they wanted him for, but it certainly wasn't good.” Vanir intertwined his fingers and Grant nodded slowly. He would ask questions after Vanir had finished, he did not want to miss out on a single detail. “Murdered those who resisted and enslaved others. How they managed to get in there still remains a mystery to all of us but there are a couple people investigating the matter. Point is, the Dark Moon Kingdom's up to something. They brought forces from both the Dark Moon and Owl Castle, and came with quite the army too. Without a doubt, they were certainly prepared for a war. I heard that the area was littered with corpses after the battle.”
    “I'd seen it for myself. So many innocent lives were lost. So many young soldiers only conscripted to lose their lives in a battle they had nothing to do with.”
    Vanir chuckled devilishly. “Unfair, isn't it? But realistically, what choice did they have? Fate does as it pleases; one day you could be living in peace and the next your whole world will come crashing down upon you. They need hope. Something to believe in, a raison dêtre, know what I mean? From what I know it's that person they consider to be the Saviour or Sovereign or something of their kind.”
    Samson raised an eyebrow. “The Exalted One?”
    “That's the guy. I'm not one to douse the hopes of an entire race so I won't go and say that they don't exist, but if my journey has taught me anything it's that heroes don't exist.” He smiled. “They're just the stuff of legends. Always have been, always will be. When we put our faith in them...well, sometimes we don't get what we bet in kind. But listen to me go on about my ideals. Your kind's just might be out there, but who knows where? Sometimes the gods aren't so nice.” He snickered. “That's why I like you Samson. You're a realist! You've got guts and take things into your own hands. You're a real go-getter.”
    “Th-thank you?” The conversation seemed to derail rather quickly, and take a very serious yet unusual turn. The trial and error of conversing with the strange barista, leaving aside his unusual style of talking.
    “The best thing you can do for now is go find that kid. His kid, I mean. Your God's Governors are pretty important, and she is to you, isn't she? Have you ever considered the possibility that in another time and place, the two of you would be together looking at the same sky? Almost as if every star in the sky would be like a different present, a different sky; maybe there would be one where the invasion never happened.” Samson had gazed at Vanir for some time but could see little of his expression until now. For a moment he caught a glimpse of a glimmering shuttered green eye and a faint smile unlike those prior. His voice sounded forlorn but his expressions betrayed it. The barista suddenly snorted. “But let's be serious, who in the seven hells would believe that? Am I right?” He burst out into laughter and Samson blinked. The change of tone came as no surprise to him.
    “Do you have any idea who might know where I can find her? I'll do whatever it takes to find her!”
    Vanir crossed his arms. “If you've been to the other Havens already, give Hanamah a look. I've a feeling that you might find her around that area. Temple's not far off, you know. How's that saying go? A salmon always returns to its point of origin?”
    “Hanamah? The name sounds familiar but...it's not quite ringing any bells.” Samson crossed his arms and searched the deepest parts of his memory, but to no avail. He felt that something was there but it just was not coming to him.
    “It's a Haven. The Cerebians have been working on it for years now, but it was only completed a couple of years ago. I mean, if you put two and two together where else would that kid go? God's Governor of Earth, the domain that was meant to be theirs is finished, etc. You get the drift right?”
    “For the most part I think I can understand that.” Samson said after he knit his eyebrows. “I could use some pointers on getting there, though. Would you mind helping out a lost man?”
    “Not a problem.” He reached behind the counter and drew a paper and quill with ink and immediately started on directions to the new Haven. Skuld returned with tea and biscuits and reached up to the counter by standing on her toes to place the dish before him. After she completed the task she puffed out her chest for a moment with a confident smile, before she performed a curtsy and scurried off to the upper floor. He offered her his thanks before she disappeared. “Alright, read it and weep Samson.” Samson took the map and examined it with a curious gaze. Within moments he noticed how poorly drawn it was, and rather lackluster in terms of details, but it was likely sufficient enough to assist him in reaching his destination.
    “Thanks Vanir. I'll take any lead that I can get, and after so many years this may be the best I've found yet.”
    The barista frowned. “Are you serious? I've told you every time you've visited, if you're gonna go get yourself lost or something see Lucia. Just. Do it. Think Nike. She can solve your problems at the right price. All of 'em. Hell, what're you doing here now when you could be asking her to find that kid?”
    Samson chuckled uneasily. “It's not that I've forgotten her, or how capable she is. I just have very particular feelings about her business.” The adventurer could not deny how capable Lucia was. The young lady, once a Vampanelar of Foe Mansion and now an ally and Confidant to the Cerebians, offered information at a price. She worked at Club Abio daily, and would schedule meetings in her off hours, treating every ally as a potential customer. Though it was unlike the Confidants to do such a thing, she and her sisters would provide the information requested and within a short time frame; often times finding obscure things that many others could not. Leaving aside his personal disdain for the matter, Samson did not want the wrong ears to catch word of her whereabouts. Lucia and company were discrete, but if they were to find Kasumi, the Dark Moon likely would not be far behind. Knowing that she was alive and potentially nearby was more than enough for Samson.
    “You're a real hassle. I bet she would've had a field day with you. Those kids have sold me out to her too many times for my own good.” He rubbed his neck.
    “Who are the kids that you've been talking about? It doesn't seem like you to take in anyone.”
    “Yeah when you go missing for like ten years a lot of things can change you kn-” He stopped as the chime of the door rang out and he turned his gaze to the customers. “Welco-ah it's just you kids. Good timing.”
    Samson turned around to see who the kids that Vanir referred to were, and he immediately froze the moment he caught a glimpse of the woman that followed the young man. He rubbed his eyes and looked again, and he felt certain that the person he saw was exactly who he thought it was.
    “We're home Vanir.” The young man said. Clad in torn cloth armour with thin mail pauldrons he lead his companion, the two carried a boar, he the back while she held onto the tusks. His presence immediately gave off the aura of a Confidant.
    “I swear I don't get paid enough to do this.” Vanir muttered with a shrug. “Let's get you three acquainted and you can help me bring this pig down to the basement Salem. Halfway should do. If you peek I'll skin you and the boar.”
    “Vanir that's...Reina! Reina is that you?!” Samson uttered with disbelief. Behind the young man came the girl in light leather armour, wearing a long cloth around her eyes and a look of confusion at his words.
    “Huh? Who? I'm Reina but have we met before?” Reina asked as she tilted her head quizzically.
    “It's me, Samson! Do you remember? What happened to you?!” He rushed over to her and immediately grabbed her shoulders, which caused her to drop the boar as he shook her desperately.
    “Hey handle that with care! It'd really screw up my day if you shook up those guts.” Vanir complained and slammed his hands against the counter.
    Samson stopped upon Vanir's request and Reina's head bobbed about for a couple of moments. “Did you mean me or the boar?”
    “Both obviously.”
    “Oh, thanks!” She smiled. As if the realization dawned upon her there she gasped and placed her hands to his face. “Wai-Samson?! Mr. Kolb?! It's you! You're alive! I didn't even recognize your voice!”
    He chuckled gently. “Time does things to people.” Just as he had aged, so had she. She had gone from a young girl on the cusp of adulthood to a lady in the years he had been gone, and as he looked down to her he felt a tinge of regret at not being there to see her as she grew up. “Though I think I should be the one saying that. How did you survive the Dark Moon's invasion?”
    “Salem rescued me.” She pointed to the man that accompanied her and he blinked. His dark brown eyes cast an evaluating gaze upon Samson while he followed suit. Salem was certainly armed, with a short sword and nothing else it seemed. “I lost unconsciousness after they broke into our house and attacked Mom and I. They took her away, and they took my eyes from me, but they didn't kill me.”
    Without even asking Samson knew that it was likely the case. Seeing the cloth that she wore held ill omens, and hearing the reason for it left him even more bitter than the knowledge he had prior. The Dark Moon had gone beyond murder and abduction. Though they had lost the battle, they had left a scar on the Cerebians, and those who survived some to even greater extents. “I...I see.” Reina had lost so much and yet she persisted. She survived, and somehow she still had the courage to wear a smile after the events that had transpired. Samson had run away from it all, while she and Hazel had faced everything one day at a time, and here and now the fruits of Hazel's labour stood strong. Her daughter had taken from her and become something much more than he could have ever predicted, but perhaps she had. “What about the others? Do you know...?” Reina slowly lowered her head before it swayed from one side to the other and he swallowed the truth hard. He had a feeling that Virgil and Alessa would not have lived through the battle, as that was what they had trained for, but deep down he still wanted to believe that in spite of the odds they would pull through. He let go of her shoulders and she placed a hand to his to offer him a smile. Seeing it gave him peace of mind, and a sense of familiarity from Reina that was reminiscent of her serene parent.
    “I wish I could've done something for them but back then I was much too weak. To this day, I still think of them...but I'm gonna finish what the Dark Moon had started in their stead. Salem and I will get back those that were taken by them.” Reina knit her eyebrows ever so slightly before she placed a hand down near her waist which caused Samson to jump at the sword by her side.
    “What the-Vanir! Do you have something to do with this?”
    The barista scoffed. “Gimme a break! Kid was really stubborn and she wouldn't take no for an answer so I put her to the test. Proved she was strong enough to hold her own so I taught her a few things.”
    Samson rubbed his temples and looked down at Reina. As if she could feel his stare she lifted her head to meet his look and tilted it slightly. “Reina, you don't have to...no, you shouldn't do this. We've already lost too many as it is, and you're still young. There's no need for you to fight in this war also. Come with me, to Hanamah. You'll be safe there. Leave the Dark Moon to the other Cerebians and I. This is our fight, it shouldn't have to be yours.”
    Reina shook her head. “The moment they attacked our home it became my fight too. I can't afford to stand at the sidelines and watch as our people suffer because I'm afraid. When I picked up this katana, I promised myself I would set my fears aside and face the Dark Moon not as the scared girl I was in Xenym, but the swordswoman Reina. This weapon is a sign of my resolve; as long as it won't break, neither will I.” She drew the blade as she spoke, wielding it with grace.
    “Don't flail that thing around so recklessly!” Vanir hissed while he took hold of the boar. “You might poke my good eye out.”
    “If you want it to be official, we can go a round.” Reina tilted her head towards him while she licked the blade with a smug grin.
    He shuddered and Samson looked aghast. Either she had spent too much time with the barista or she had taken a page from Alessa's book after the events of that day. He was not fond of it, but he was hard-pressed to blame her. What she did may have just been a means of coping with things. The fact that she could feel anything at all after what she had been through was a godsend in and of itself. Despite the thought, he did miss the soft-spoken bookworm that he had grown to know.
    “I see where you're coming from. Heck, I respect your courage Reina, but if a militia of Cerebians could not bring down the Dark Moon what makes you think that you can do it alone?” Samson crossed his arms.
    “Alone?” She burst out into laughter and placed her sword in its sheath. “I'm not alone at all! I have Salem with me.”
    Samson's gaze flickered to the young man with her and his followed suit once more. Salem gave him a confident nod but the adventurer was not entirely convinced. Salem disappeared into the kitchen with Vanir shortly afterwards. “Is that all?” That friend of hers did not seem to be anything special, but if he could rescue her from the Dark Moon's thumb he must have had some talent.
    “Nope. We've got Ramalda and a lot of refugees on our side now!” She raised the peace sign and Samson froze.
    “How did you-”
    “You don't have to worry anymore Samson. I can handle myself, and if anything will happen Salem will protect me.”
    From within the kitchen Salem hurriedly emerged and crossed over to the counter to stand by Reina. “You don't have to worry Mr. Kolb, I'll protect Reina. My blade is sworn to her.” He placed a fist to his chest.
    Salem spoke very little, and Samson had the suspicion that he was not likely born in or around Elias. He worried about his last words though; exactly what did he mean when he said his blade was sworn to her? Was it the declaration of a Pledger? Or something else entirely?
    “D-don't tell him that. He'll get the wrong idea.” Reina laughed after she gave him a playful nudge. It was worse than Samson suspected.
    “Oi! Salem! Get your ass back over here! This thing's heavy! Oi!” Vanir howled from within the kitchen. A series of thuds followed his shouts and silence afterwards.
    Reina took a deep breath through grit teeth and Salem averted his eyes. “I think you might have killed him Salem.”
    “Should we...check on him?” He asked. She shook her head and mouthed, “No, definitely not”.
    “How have you two not killed him yet? Does this happen on a regular basis?” Samson asked with a look of confusion and disdain.
    “It doesn't happen on a regular basis but...well we've had a few close calls. There was that time with the sword, and that poisonous plant...and I think a flower pot? He's really tough though!”
    Samson could not hold back a snicker. He felt a tinge of guilt at finding humour at the barista's expense, but he wanted to believe that it was a sign she was recovering from her experiences. Despite her taking up the blade and growing, she still had some of her previous nature hidden within. Time may have changed people, but their pasts would always remain a part of them, and at times resurface in the most charming ways. She was in good hands. “Your mind is made, isn't it? You were always so stubborn when it came to doing things your way.” He placed a hand to her head. “There was nothing that you couldn't do if you put your mind to it Reina, so if you're gonna challenge the Dark Moon, you give 'em hell, for your mom, your friends, and Xenym. Just make sure I'm there when you decide to bring the fight to them. I can't let you kids die before me.”
    “You should be retiring Samson. You can leave everything in our hands. We're adults now, remember?” She beamed. “But being here with you, and hearing your voice really brings me back. Do you plan to settle down in Hanamah? If so I'll be sure to write and visit when I can.”
    “Retire? Settle down? Don't be ridiculous!” Samson chuckled. “I've got my whole life ahead of me. I still have to find Kasumi and those other children. They may be grown up now but it doesn't mean they know the way the world works just yet. You've still got quite a few years before I'll consider you an adult, but you've certainly grown too Reina. I'm proud of you, and I'm sure Hazel would be too.”
    She raised an eyebrow. “You think so? Thanks Samson.”A faint smile danced on the edge of her lips. “Mom definitely won't like this, but if we can rescue her and the others I think she'll forgive me.” She crossed her arms and nodded. “So you're going to find Kasumi?”
    Samson nodded. “Julius left the poor kid all alone. Someone's gotta keep the family going strong.”
    She took his hand in hers and gave him an earnest look. “You'll definitely find her Samson. I'm sure you've been through a lot but don't give up okay? I know she's out there!”
    Samson chuckled gently, “Yeah, I'll definitely find her.” He whispered. He could feel his heart crumble to pieces as he looked down to her, Salem silently watched him as if he could read his expressions. He had a lead on Kasumi, and knowledge that she was alive. Reina only held to a belief that may have been sadly misplaced; her mother may have not even survived the invasion, let alone lived all those years within the Dark Moon's grasp. He wanted to comfort her, but what could he have told her? Just as her father had disappeared and her mother believed he would return, now her daughter stood in her stead, and Samson had returned to where he had begun.
    “I know it's a little selfish but could I ask a big favour from you?”
    “Yeah. Shoot.”
    “While you're on your adventure could you keep an eye out for a young girl? Hang on a sec', I've got a really good drawing of her from someone that knew her.” She rushed up the stairs and he found himself face to face with Salem.
    Samson took a deep breath and turned away to wipe his eyes. What a coward; he had Hazel believe in him until Xenym was no more, and now he was making promises that he might never keep. He could not even consider telling her that her mother had likely been killed along with the others. He wanted to believe that she was alive as much as Reina did. “Not a word to her, understood?”
    Salem nodded. “I swear it.”
    Reina returned with a worn out piece of paper and handed it to Samson. A detailed sketch of a young girl was drawn upon it. Bright eyes, long hair with two curls resting on each side of her face and a smile that could melt one's heart. “It might be a bit outdated,” She added. “The witness said that he saw her back before we were forced from our home.”
    “What's her story? I'll ask around about her.”
    “That girl, Roll and her brother Axle were refugees that escaped with some of the others during the war. When they got here they were caught by bandits and taken as hostages along with many of the others. They said she was sold as a slave, possibly to the Dark Moon along with some of the others. Axle was lucky enough to be rescued by a group of mercenaries and taken in with them, but he has no leads on his sister. We're trying to get any information we can on her whereabouts. It might lead us to one of the branches of the Dark Moon.”
    “The branches? As in a subdivision of the kingdom?”
    Reina nodded. “Sort of. Since the invasion there's been a bit of infighting, and some of the members of the kingdom have taken captives and split off and become independent, some becoming slave traders and others I can't say for sure yet. We're doing all we can to put a stop to them.”
    “There are other factions that stand against the Dark Moon or are supporters from the shadows you should be wary of. Some know of the Cerebians and will do anything they can to get their hands on them or any valuable items related to them. Information sells, treasure even more so and what some would pay for living samples is incredulous.” Salem said sternly.
    Samson folded the paper and placed it into his coat pocket. “I'll be sure to keep an eye out for her. Though where did you get this information? Did Lucia tell you all this?”
    She knit her eyebrows slightly. “Well she does know her stuff. Info doesn't come cheap!” She chuckled. “I know Roll might just be one among the hundreds but the two of them are just kids. I'd hate to see them grow apart from each other.”
    “Don't you worry Reina, Samson's on the case.” Before she could evaluate the validity of the statement Vanir returned with excellent timing. The girl was sharp, and he would prefer it if she did not gain the opportunity to see through his words.
    The barista was bruised and had a slight stream of blood that ran down the side of his face but he seemed alright despite the fact. “These kids are crazy. I swear they're trying to kill me.” He muttered while he glared at them, the two smiled innocently in response. “Now this a request from me to you. Or rather a follow up on the one from before. Where there's Cerebians involved, the Dark Moon is never far off. Dark Moon means dark magic. Dark magic means experiments and experiments mean those goddamn abominations! Where there's abominations there's that bastard of a doctor. If you see, hear, or find anything related to him you tell me first, only, and immediately. The second that I can get anything on him I'll give him a chest cavity the size of pluto!”
    The duo looked rather nonplussed by Vanir's sudden tirade, while Samson was the most familiar with the occurrence. “You think that the Dark Moon and that doctor of yours might be aligned?”
    “Oh definitely. Their interests coincide rather clearly. The Agasura are too diluted to have any proper samples linked to their origins. The Cerebians are probably a lot closer to that, and if not that he'll find some other use for them. If he gets his hands on your kind then we're gonna have problems. Those old men had done as they pleased for far too long. I'm gonna have words with him when I get my hands on him.”
    “It seems this scenario runs much deeper than we may know.” Salem said to Reina and she nodded uneasily.
    “I know telling you not to get involved is stupid. So I'm not gonna.” Vanir blinked. “Changed my mind. Don't do it. You're tough cookies and all but this is something I don't want you to be a part of. The Cerebians may be involved but this is a matter that's much too risky, be it for you or even for Samson himself.”
    “If we're taking on the Dark Moon why are you so reluctant to let us challenge this doctor? He can't be that intimidating. Though it'd be a first to see you actually fight! You'll barely spar with me.” Reina said.
    “It's like...playing a game with a cheater. Regardless of what you know and what you do, he has an ace up his sleeve that you can't beat. Not to put you or any of the others down, really. Let's just say this is a family matter okay?”
    “Will you ever tell us about your family? I know you must hate to think about it but...we're family now, aren't we?”
    “Worried aren't ya?” He grinned. “There's no way in hell I'm gonna tell you about them, though. Only thing I have to say is there was a problem with it and we've sorted out our differences.” He smiled. “Now everything is peaches and gravy except for one little thing.” He gave her and Salem a gentle pat on the back and grinned. “My past is from another time and another place. It's not something you guys need to worry about. Focus on changing your present. I'm here to help, and Samson is too. Leave that stuff to me.” Reina was worried, and if Samson could be so generous Salem may have showed signs of similar feelings, but the barista would not likely budge on the matter, nor would Reina on hers. What was it like to be in Salem's shoes? Caught in a web of secrets? “So then! Enough of the serious talk! How about we stuff our faces and get on with our lives? I'm not cooking that boar though; not today, too much effort. Skuld and I will whip up a welcoming feast when she's done. We've got an extra special guest today after all.” He chuckled. “I could be the next Oprah or something. Look under your seats! Oh look it's your long lost uncle Mr. Something-or-other!”
    “Sorry Vanir, but I won't stay.”
    The barista made a grimace. “What.”
    Samson chuckled gently. “I've kept Kasumi waiting for far too long to spend another day idly. If I'm going to find her, I won't waste another day doing it now that I have a destination in mind.”
    “You do this every time. Sit still for once in your life you hobo! Ehh my name is Samson I go where the wind takes me blah blah blah!” He did a series of strange faces and gestures to accompany his impression. Salem looked puzzled and Reina snickered.
    “Don't miss me too much Vanir.”
    “I've got better things to do than missing you. I've got my hands full already keeping these idiots alive, let alone myself! Try not to become bear chow while you're out there, lolicon.”
    “Are you really leaving right away Samson? I know you're busy but I haven't gotten to hear any of your stories in years. Couldn't you stay for a couple?” Reina asked.
    Same old Reina. He smiled upon hearing the words, a true child at heart. “Next time, okay? You'll definitely love to hear about the God's Governor in training.” Sadly, his journey had been nothing but a bleak haze of memories mashed together during his search for Kasumi, that yielded nothing until now. He hardly remembered any of it, and even more so felt that it was better he did not. It seemed that her journey had proven much more than his, and he would love to sit and hear her stories in his stead, perhaps with his niece by his side. “Salem, it was a pleasure meeting you. Maybe the next time we meet we could get better acquainted.”
    “Yes, I'm sure we will. Be careful of the Dark Moon along your journey. If you find anything, be sure to keep in touch.”
    “Aye aye cap'n.” He offered his hand and Salem shook it. “I leave Reina in your hands.” He smiled. “Take good care of her.”
    “What're you, her dad?” Vanir huffed. “I trust him with her as far as I can throw him. It's not far, if you were wondering.”
    “Should I feel insulted? That sounded rather...self-depreciating.” Salem commented.
    “You two are fighting over nothing.” Reina laughed. “Come on, hug and make up.”
    Samson grinned. “Well? Let's not disappoint.” He outstretched his arms and the barista stepped back, guarded.
    “Not happening. Ever.” Vanir said. He smiled wryly for a moment, then turned to the stairs and whistled. Skuld immediately rushed down the stairs with a basket in hand, and disappeared into the kitchen. She returned shortly after with it nicely wrapped and tied with fruits, bread and cheese all beautifully placed within. “You're really on the ball Skuld. Good one.” She offered it to Samson and he took it.
    “Thanks Skuld, and you too Vanir.” Vanir wrinkled his nose at the comment. “Salem, it was a pleasure. Reina..treasure your life with all that you have. Before anything, I know that Hazel would want you alive and well.”
    She smiled and nodded. “I will, but you have to promise to learn to stay still once in a while.” Reina requested.
    “Maybe someday, when I'm too old for adventuring. But it'll be a long time before then.” He opened the door to the evening sky and looked out upon Elias once more. “We'll meet again everyone. I promise you that. Until then!” With the basket in hand he departed, Reina and Skuld waved him off.
    “Come back safely Samson! We'll be waiting!”
    As he turned away from the Old Town District he stopped for a moment to lean against a building and look toward the sky. He tightly gripped a tiny note in his hand that came with the basket as he thought of Reina and her words, her actions, and the tell that she retained throughout all the years. She was strong, but not invincible. He slammed his fist against the wall and muttered, “Damn it.” Upon the note left one final request, who it was from remained unanswered but the handwritten words concerned him more than the sender.
    “Please give them a future” was all that was written.

    This is the first part I finished a while ago but I hadn't posted. Brought back an old scene from USS but fixed it up a bit, and finally got to tie things in with Innocent so now things go both ways.
    Innocent Spoiler:
    The scene here actually comes from act 3, so you'll see the same dialogue and whatnot when it gets to that point(and how). I worked with the idea of tying together Axle and Moran's story from an earlier point in the timeline, so this is a small portion of it, and is actually a portion of his arc. Hopefully through this I can make the world really feel its size. The end of Frequency and beginning of Sanc focused a lot on Elias, so I want to work around the parts of the world I may have left out, starting with Foe Mansion and including Owl Castle, The Pyramids, etc. That's all Sanc though! There'll be places outside of Elias also, as mentioned by Reina. Might do a peek at Ramalda during act 2.
    Been working a lot on tying together the characters, that is, the old and new ones. The beginning set that up really well for me, so doing this part wasn't too hard. On my second run-through to revise I might make the convo between Salem and Sam a bit more awkward, or at the very least increase Sam's one-sided apprehension for him. On another note, I think Samson grew a little as a character! I tried to shift his personality a bit to be a bit more grim, without it being too extreme since it'd been years since the attack. I'm gonna try and build on that and slowly reverse the effect as he gets to know Kasumi throughout USSR. In the original the change was too..sudden? Slight? Dunno, but it could be improved. Gotta admit, writing this scene was a tad difficult since it was new, but I think it fits nicely. It makes sense that Samson found his way to Hanamah now. I realize I forgot the basket when I wrote Kasumi's PoV. Dang it.
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Wed Aug 13, 2014 3:03 pm

    Pages 35-45:
    Kasumi
    Su found herself in the same white room she had many times before. Just a short walk away sat the old man at the funny looking tree he always waited for her at. He leaned against it with his staff resting against his lap and his body folded around it, the sound of gentle snores escaped his lips.
    “Oi, old man!” Su called out to him as she approached.
    “Hmm?” His head jerked in her direction and his glasses nearly fell from his face. “Ah...you've come. Welcome back.”
    “Are you so bored you're sleeping?” She grinned devilishly. “Guess you dunno what to do when I'm not here huh?”
    He chuckled gently at her words. “Mm...yes, you could say that. It is a rather uneventful place, isn't it?”
    “More like boring. But I'm here now so it's high time you get it together. Are you gonna teach me something new today?” The old man had been visiting Su in her dreams since she was a child. He taught her magic, meditation, and how to speak with her canine companion. She always had a vague idea of what he tried to tell her, but the old man helped clear things up, and teach her a bit about the world.
    “No, not today. There's something much more important I'd like for you to do today.”
    “Tell me. Are you gonna give me better magic? Or tell me how to turn the boys into rocks?”
    He laughed heartily this time. “No, nothing of the sort. If you don't get along well with others you should get to know them and befriend them properly.” She frowned at his words. He was starting to sound an awful lot like Bane. They were both kinda preachy and naggy when it came to that sort of stuff. “Have a seat. Meditate with me.”
    “...Fine.” She didn't like to meditate all that much but the old man always said she'd never be able to master earth magic if she wasn't willing to 'be one with the earth' or 'find her center'. She sat down next to the scruffy old man and stole a peek at him. Though over the years she had grown and changed, both in reality and her dreams, he had stayed the same, and always wore the same funny green robes with the same staff. She could occasionally see his green eyes beneath the tousled brown hair, but they always seemed to have a blank stare. It creeped her out more than it interested her, so she didn't look into them too often.
    “And now, listen.”
    The two solemnly meditated together and though she tried her best to concentrate her mind was abuzz. It'd been a long time since she had come to where the old man waited, and she was eager to learn something new to show up the other kids at the village, but instead she had to meditate. She could've done that on her own; it wasn't like she didn't know how. “What am I listening for? I don't hear anything.”
    “Patience, little one. Clear your mind and listen.”
    She tried to put all the thoughts she had aside for the time being. She wanted cool new spells and a variety of other things but the old man always did things at his pace, eventually getting around to the things she wanted to do. She'd let him have his way this time. As Su freed her mind of her thoughts she could hear something; oddly enough, it wasn't him, or her, and definitely not her own thoughts making the sound. She tried to center herself, to become one with the world around her. If she tried hard enough, she could feel the presence of spirits and the voices of the forest. It was really hard, and needed a lot of focus but she managed it on really good days. Mostly on those where she didn't fight with the boys, so very rarely. She shook her head. Focus!
    The sound eventually became a bit clearer; it started to sound a lot like someone humming; the voice of a lady. She had an amazing voice, and just by hearing it she felt peaceful.
    “What do you hear?”
    “Humming. It's really quiet.” It wasn't the first time she had heard it. Sometimes when she meditated and she was at her most focused she would hear it. It sounded a lot clearer now than it did before. “Can you hear it too old man?”
    He shook his head slowly. “No, I don't think it's for me to hear. It's for your ears only.” He smiled.
    “Why can I hear it but you can't? You knew she was humming right? Whoever she is?”
    “I didn't have the slightest clue! I only knew because you did. I'm only a part of your dream.” She always found it rather weird that he knew she was dreaming and that he wasn't real, but since she always came back it did seem kinda strange. “I think the reason you can hear her is because you're special.”
    She hated hearing that word. Her mom and dad and Bane always said it but they never told her what was so great about being 'special'. The other kids treated her weird because she was and she came from the forest. “What's that supposed to mean?”
    “It means that you have a gift. Though it was a very long time ago, do you remember how we had discussed that you were born with a talent? For that reason, you're here, as am I. It's my duty to teach you how to use that talent, until the day comes that you don't need me anymore.”
    She furrowed her brows. “It's not like I need the help. I can learn how to use it all on my own. I've read Mom's books on magic and I know how to meditate and talk to spirits and stuff now.”
    He beamed. “Yes, you've come quite a long way since we first met. I'm sure you don't need me, but there is someone who needs you. Someday you'll meet that person, and on that day you'll come to understand why you have this gift.” The old man spoke in a really weird way, and no matter how much she asked him or how, he never gave her a clear answer. He was just plain confusing and weird all of the time, so Su decided it'd be best if she just followed what he said to do until she could do everything on her own.
    She continued to meditate and as she did, the humming seemed to fade away as the sound of words began to sift through. “She's...she's singing. I can't understand what she's saying but I can hear words!”
    “Is that all? What else have you noticed?”
    She tried to remember what she had experienced the past few times she had meditated and recalled one bit of info. “Sometimes when I heard her it felt like I could see her going somewhere. An old temple-like place.” The she that Su described looked like the ghost of a woman. It was really eerie, but she loved a good mystery and wanted to know more about the ghost. She heard the voices of other spirits, but they were just like really noisy people, chattering away while she tried to meditate. She could hear Bane without needing to do it, but she was the only one who could hear him.
    “I don't think it's time yet. Maybe soon, your destiny will find you, or perhaps it's for one of the others to take up. Only time will tell. Remain strong, child. Keep your ties with your element strong and your path will unfurl before you. Remember...” Her vision blurred and a certain loud screeching noise woke her from her dream. That, combined with her dog licking her face.
    “Urrgh...” She grunted into the grass. Su lay face down in the dirt, her clothes stained with both mud and grass, and her face and arms bruised. She couldn't see the rest across her torso but she could feel them throbbing. She got on her knees and spat out the blood that rested in her mouth. She wiped away the rest and staggered to her feet, her companion quietly groaned as she did. “Oh shut it. If there wasn't four of them I bet I could've taken them. Or if mom would let me use my magic.” The silver dog silently stared at her with a questioning gaze, and she met his with a glare of her own. “What're you giving me that look for? You've been in fights too.” He growled defensively and she scoffed. “That scar on your eye doesn't help you there.” He averted his gaze and she smiled confidently. She sure showed him. She sighed and stroked her long blonde hair to remove the dirt and stones caught within. “Let's get going before Mom gets mad at us.”
    She lead the way with Bane hot on her heels through the sea of trees, massive trunks that dwarfed her and her companion and reached out to the sky. Birds rested on the highest of branches and squirrels playfully ran from one tree to the next. The cries of cicadas in the intense summer heat reminded Su that her mother probably was right that she should wear thinner clothes, but the angry purple bruises she had gotten on other days disagreed. She sighed deeply and raised a hand to the sky as she looked up for a moment. The dreams of the old man and the tree weren't the only ones she had; at times she dreamed of a pair of people standing together in that white room where the old man always was. The old man was one of them, but the lady that stood with him was someone she only saw in those dreams. She tried asking the old man that teaches her about it but he didn't know what she was talking about. There was definitely something weird about him, but it was like Bane had told her, her dreams were just her emotions and thoughts and feelings all mashed together while she slept. The way he described it made it sound a lot more fancy but she had the right idea. Her dreams of the old man that taught her didn't start until after she began to understand what Bane was saying, and she started using magic.
    Bane bumped into her and she regained her focus. “What? Yeah I know I stopped I did it on purpose.” She huffed. She shifted her gaze away from him. “I saw that old man again. And I heard the voice of that lady again too. You can hear her too right? Did you hear her singing?” He shook his head. “You heard her first though! How come you can't hear it?” He blinked. I dunno either. I bet she's a ghost that's attached to this world for some reason.” She laughed impishly. “I'm gonna find out where she is and bring the boys so they get scared. That'll show 'em.” He whimpered. “You're no fun.” The two continued on past flowers that sprung up all around them and tiny balls of light that gave the forest a mystical ambience; Su and her companion eventually came to a clearing where a tiny village rested.

    A series of houses were gathered around the clearing, with a multitude of villagers that dotted the landscape. People of all trades save for weapons and armour crafters milled about doing their daily duties. As she approached the short wooden fence that surrounded the Haven most of the eyes turned to her, those of scorn, curiosity and at times fear. Su's eyes locked with a short, slender woman wearing a fox pelt dress. Her vicious glare immediately brought Su back to reality and she clicked her tongue in response. She and Mrs. Kazuto, Yuta's mom never did get along, and the chances of the two ever doing it were a hundred to none. Su and Yuta were bitter rivals to the very end, if she saw him again that day she'd give him a second black eye if she could. In the final seconds before she turned her gaze away from the parent, she caught a glimpse of her black braid swaying as she returned to her home with her broom in hand.
    The young girl scoffed. What did what they think of her matter to her anyway? It wasn't her job to care, and if they cared any than the boys would've left her alone like the girls had. She had all she needed, Mom and Dad and Bane too. The second old man and the mystery lady with him, the town, and all the jerks and idiots that lived in it; she didn't need any of it. She read about the world outside of the tiny village in the forest, and the ghost she had heard may have been her first clue to discovering that other world. When she came of age she'd leave home and go out to see the world and be an adventurer. It was her dream, and she planned to hold on to it for as long as she lived.
    As she walked on the stares continued as the various tasks came to a halt, and through it all Su could hear her companion reassuring her that they meant nothing and that she was strong enough to not let them get to her. She didn't need him to remind her as often as he did, but his words still brought her just a little bit of happiness. Bane always worried, and if he wasn't then he wasn't being himself. She approached a small log cabin on the edge of the town and hopped over the fence while Bane came in through the gate. All of the houses were roughly the same size, and looked alike too so it took a while for her to figure out which house was hers when she first came to Hanamah. When Bane wasn't with her she often wandered into the wrong house and needed to be escorted back, so until she got the hang of things her mom frequently made sure her companion was by her side. That, and he was the voice of reason for her.
    The young girl took the rusted copper handle and pulled it open, slipping off her sandals as she walked across the velvet welcome mat and closed the door after her canine companion. He wiped his paws and sat down for a moment as he waited for her to lead the way down the dim hallway, gently lit by the beams of sunshine shining through the windows on their door. The corridor forked and she took a right at the tiny table with a gardenia resting in a sky blue pot upon it, and entered the kitchen with Bane padding along after her. The kitchen was small but homely, featuring a table with three chairs, a series of cupboards and a sink of course, with counters that lined a majority of the wall. The higher portions of the walls were decorated with monochrome pictures of a man and woman, sometimes armoured, the woman in cloth and her male companion in armour bearing a staff, sword and shield. Some featured the two and others multiple people wielding a variety of weapons. One of them was coloured, with the two standing amidst a series of knights towering over a massive fallen goblin. Somewhere within them a small plaque rested that read:
    Where He is, is where I shall be
    For I belong to Him, and Him alone
    In mind and body we are harmonious
    He shall remain my light, now and forever
    A stout middle-aged lady manned the counter and turned to Su when she heard the footsteps of the two approach, and nearly leapt back as she caught a glimpse of her daughter's wounds. Her weary brown eyes came alive with shock as she gasped and immediately rushed over to her and crouched down to inspect the damage. “Oh child...” Beatrice sighed, “how many times have I told you not to fight with the neighbourhood boys? You never seem to learn no matter how many times you get hurt.” With how much she caused her mom to worry Su wouldn't be surprised if she got older a lot quicker. The greying hair in her ponytail and the wrinkles on her face spoke for themselves; she was sorry, honestly, but the boys got what they deserved. Su's cheeks were pushed together and her head was turned in every which way while her mother searched her body for every possible bruise.
    “'s not my fault...they started it.” Su muttered before she glanced away while her mother discovered a tear in her pelt shirt and shook her head.
    “It's not about who started it or who said what! A young girl like yourself shouldn't be fighting with the boys! Girls are delicate and should be handled as such. You should also carry yourself with grace.” She furrowed her brows and Su knit hers. “I've told you this many times already. If you keep fighting with the boys you'll become one yourself!”
    “If it means I can beat 'em up again then that sounds okay to me.” She grinned impishly.
    Her mom pinched her cheek and pulled it slightly. “Just who do you think you're talking to young lady?”
    “Ow, ow...okay I'm sorry Mom.” Her mom let go after giving her a stern look to be sure she didn't talk back afterwards. She had learned from her past mistakes.
    Beatrice placed her hands to her hips and shook her head. “No matter how hard I try to teach you to conduct yourself as a fine lady, you never seem to learn. What am I to do with you?” She arose and exited the kitchen, returning shortly after with a small pelt bag. She unzipped it and began to remove a series of antibiotics. She applied some to her cuts and others to her bruises, then brought a moist cloth to wipe away the dried blood. She placed a hand to Su's cuts and it began to emit a gentle blue glow. Her wounds healed slightly after she did, and Su felt a lot better immediately. Her mom was a really knowledgeable Water Mage, so healing scrapes and cuts was easy for her. “Now, open your mouth.” She thought she had done a pretty good job of hiding it, but it seems that she was caught before she knew it. She opened her mouth and her mother placed her face in her hand at the sight. Su's teeth were soaked in a mixture of blood and saliva that she tried to refrain from swallowing, so it eventually formed a small pool. The wounds in her mouth stung a bit because of it. “Go outside and spit that out please.” She pointed to the hallway. She turned to Bane and his ears immediately perked up as a look of guilt plagued him. “Now how could you let this happen?” Su awkwardly exited the kitchen and made her way back to the front door to slip into her sandals. “If you're going out to play stay away from the boys! And be sure to be back home by dinner time okay?”
    “Yes Mom!” She replied robotically before she opened the door and emerged outside once more. She climbed over the fence and went behind the house where she spat out everything she could. She shuddered at the taste of blood that lingered on her tongue before she made her way to the well in the center of the town. “Next time I'll send 'em all home with bloody noses...” She muttered under her breath as she rubbed her cheek gently. “They got lucky this time.” She took hold of the crank and turned it clockwise to lower the bucket into the water, then reversed it to receive it. She cupped her hands and took hold of some and washed away the lingering taste of blood and any that remained along with it. She splashed some on her face and shook her head wildly, splashing water on her companion upon his arrival. She turned and glanced at him through her bangs and grinned. “She really gave it to you huh?” He looked rather upset. “Well let's go. I don't want Mom to yell at us again.”

    The two walked through the village and exited, soon after finding themselves in the fields of green grass and flowers that basked in the clearing within the barrier of trees that surrounded their village. She casually walked through it and stretched as she watched the clouds gently drift through the blue sky. As she walked she plucked a dandelion puff from the ground and stole a glance behind her at Bane who lazily padded behind her. She suddenly stopped and spun on the balls of her heels to blow the seeds in his face; he stumbled back and shook his head with a look of surprise which transitioned into a sneeze that scattered the dandelion seeds around his face.
    He glared at her and growled and she remained unfazed by it. In spite of it, she growled back at him and grinned before she asked, “Lookin' for a scrap?” He gave her an innocent look and she nodded with approval. “That's what I thought!” She laughed victoriously and looked at the ring on her middle finger while she beamed. “I'm the boss, after all.” The ring was gold with a small leaf cradled by two angel's wings in the center of it. She had it as long as she could remember, and when she was younger she promised Bane she wouldn't lose it. He was pretty insistent on how important it was, but he never said why exactly. Just that it made her the boss. “Bored...let's go on an adventure Bane!”
    Su took the forest by storm with Bane hot on her heels, the two excitedly dashed and dodged past trees while they avoided broken branches and rocks. She came to a sliding halt and grabbed a stick from the ground, testing it with a couple of practice swings. She could see enemies rising from the shadows and she took a battle stance. She charged the first and cut through its stomach with a single swing, the shadow drifted apart and dissipated at her might. She turned on the ball of her heel and cut down the other, then leaped to the last with a jumping slash and placed the weapon in its sheath by her hip.
    “Mom always said that I shouldn't wander too far from the village 'cause there are monsters out there. What were they called agaim? Aya-Aga...Aga-something.” The wolf huffed and she blinked. “Agasuras? That's the one.” She snorted. “That's just kids stuff anyway so we'll be good and won't leave home. I bet the stuff out there isn't anything half as scary as they say there is out there!” She took two quick swings and thrusted forward once. “If I had a sword like Dad's I bet I could take 'em, no problem! I could do it by myself too!” Bane barked indignantly and she froze mid-thrust. “Okay okay...you can come along too.” She grinned impishly. “You can be my cheerleader dog.” He groaned at the statement. “Did you believe it? I got you good there huh?” She patted him on the head and he wagged his tail. “You know I wouldn't do that to you Bane. You and I are unstoppable together.” She lead on through a couple more battles and eventually tired out, the young girl pressed on with a limp and a hand to her stomach. “We fought well but I think it's the end of the line for me...” She spun around once and collapsed to the ground before she dropped her weapon by her side. A defeated groan followed and her tongue hung from within her mouth. Her trusty companion fell to his side next to her before he let out a dying groan.
    Su placed a hand to her forehead to block out the light from between the tree branches. “Someday I wanna go on real adventures like Mom and Dad. Dad always said that when I'm older he'll tell me about some of his but I'm old enough now and he still hasn't done it yet. I'm ready to go on my own adventures!” She pouted. “He always told me that I have a talent with magic and that it's really rare and stuff...and that I can't be a warrior...bet I could if he taught me how. And then that whole stupid thing about pledgers. I don't need a knight to protect me. I already have you. I don't need anyone else's help.” Bane turned over to face her and licked her face gently a couple of times. “Get out of here ya butt-kisser” She laughed and hopped to her feet. “Someday I'll be a super mage with all sorts of awesome spells. I'll beat up bad guys and save people and they'll all love me and come to me when they need help with stuff.” She began to walk and her companion followed closely. As she did she twirled her fingers and the leaves from the ground began to rise and gently dance around her in a flowing trail, flower petals and dandelion seeds following suit shortly after. “You and I will be like super heroes! We'll get all sorts of cool outfits and treasures and stuff and people will cheer when we come around. We'll see the world and people from all the villages across Jienda will be asking to join our team and I'll tell them they can't...”
    As she continued on with every twirl of her finger or flick of her wrist other small portions of the forest would join in, the tiny balls of light flocked to her and danced around her like a band of marching fireflies. The warrior had become a maestro, conducting the forest's orchestra, and as she did the woodland creatures gathered around. The birds perched on the trees that surrounded her and excitedly chirped as squirrels came across branches and from within trunks to join in. Su slowly closed her eyes and gently hummed a familiar tune as she went on, conducting her symphony as she swayed to the rhythm. The sun began to paint the sky blood orange and dusk settled in to its allotted time, and her song steadily came to an end. She leaned against a nearby tree and opened her eyes to glance at the sky once more with a quiet sigh. “Someday...when that day comes...when my dreams come true...people will finally accept us. They won't give us scary looks or say bad things about us and our magic and the stupid boys in the other villages will be jealous...” Her eyes shuttered as she caught a glimpse of the creatures that surrounded her and she frowned. “What're you beady-eyed buggers looking at? Go! Shoo! Get out of here!” She flailed her arms and some of them quickly made their exit. A bird stubbornly remained perched on her shoulder and she glared at it from the corner of her eye. “You're a brave one, but I'm not gonna let you off easy if you stay there.” She gestured for it to fly away with her left hand and it took flight immediately. “Better!”
    The sky began to turn a deep crimson and the duo had found themselves close to a river in the far reaches of the forest. They had wandered from its heart to the outskirts of what the village considered to be safe for their kind. She hopped across the stones that were laid across the body and Bane cautiously followed behind, while he stole uneasy glances at the water beneath him. She silently pressed on until she came to a sudden halt at the sight of an unusual mound nearby. Bane bumped into her leg and she turned to him.
    “Do ya see that Bane? There's something over there! Let's go check it out!” She excitedly said as she charged towards it. Her companion leapt at her and bit the back of her shorts and pulled her back mid-sprint. She grimaced and turned to him. With an innocent look she she sighed and rolled her eyes. “Fine. You go check it out first.” He padded over to the mound and sniffed it from a variety of different angles. He raised his head and barked so she cautiously approached. “Is it safe? Get me that stick over there Bane.” He followed her order and brought her a broken stick shortly after. She slowly approached the anomaly at first until she was within reach, then poked it once, and again with much more force. It seemed to make an odd groaning noise and she reacted by taking a step back before taking a defensive stance. Much to her relief, it didn't move at all. She approached it again and began to push it with all the might her tiny body could muster, and proved enough to steadily turn it over and reveal what seemed to be a person. “What the-a dead guy? He stinks!” She crouched down and got a closer look at the man. After she flipped him over the leaves and dust that piled upon him began to fall off and the odd looking hat he wore did too. He had a thick beard, greying chestnut hair and an exhausted and aged face. If she had ever seen a geezer, this had to be one. He wore a ragged brown overcoat over a white t-shirt and brown cargo pants. She'd never seen anyone dressed in such odd clothing before, so it certainly was a first. She eyed his beaten-up brown boots and finally, her eyes lit up at the sight of the dagger and sheath around his waist. “Check this out Bane! It's a real weapon! This geezer must've been an adventurer from the outside!” She slipped the weapon from its sheath and took a couple of stabs with it. “Wonder how many baddies he beat up with this...I bet if he was still alive he'd tell me about all of his awesome adventures.” Her companion barked and she snapped out of her reverie. “Oh...uh oh. It's really dark out huh? Mom's gonna really get mad at us. Though maybe she'll understand if we tell her what we found? Let's hurry home and tell them!”

    Outside of the tiny cabin Bane sat quietly and chewed on a bone while he guarded the house. Within the family of three was gathered around the table as Beatrice placed their meal upon it. Angry glares occasionally flickered in Su's direction, but they didn't bother her in the slightest.
    “I thought I'd told you to be back by dinner time young lady.” Beatrice hissed.
    Su lifted her eyes from her plate and slowly stopped chewing her food. “You did,” She said with a mouthful, “we were just having a lot of fun and then it got a little dark. Then we came home.”
    Her mother was clearly not amused by her manners but continued anyway, “If you knew, then why didn't you come home on time?”
    “Bane and I found something really cool out in the forest!”
    “You shouldn't be finding anything in the forest. Did you go near the barrier? I had warned you about that also.”
    “I know, I know...if I leave I might not find my way back and there are humans and monsters and other scary things...see? I didn't forget. Bane and I didn't go outside of it either. We weren't even close to it! I promise!”
    “So what did you find out there anyway kiddo?” Her father asked before he raised a bushy eyebrow.
    “A dead guy.”
    Her father chuckled lightly before he ran his hand through his short grey hair. “Kids these days. They have the most vivid imaginations.”
    Her mother frowned fiercely. “That is not funny at all! My goodness...I was sure we had raised you better than that!”
    “It's true! See, look!” Su removed the dagger from her pocket and the two looked aghast. Her father dropped both his book and his jaw and her mother's eyes widened.
    “Where did you get that?” Beatrice asked in a hushed voice.
    “Like I said, it was the dead guy in the forest!”
    Her mother's glare intensified and she shrunk away slightly. “Tell me the truth.”
    “I am telling the truth!” Her mother began to lean in and her gaze made sweat run down the back of Su's neck. Her mother would usually believe what she tells her sooner or later, but this time she was really giving her a hard time.
    Grant shook his head and lifted his book to rummage through and find his page before he placed his bookmark in and closed it. “Let's give her the benefit of the doubt Beatrice. Other than fighting with the boys, it's not very often she tells us much about her day to day activities.” He chuckled. “On the other hand, the only reason we find that out is because we see the aftermath.” Beatrice's gaze turned to him and softened and he gave Su a smile. She felt a bit of relief at seeing it, and having the pressure of her mother off of her. “I'm sure there's a good reason she has this dagger and why there's a dead person in the forest. That aside, I don't think she'd lie to us. If what she's telling us is true then I'll go with her and see this dead person for myself.” Beatrice scoffed and began to enjoy her meal while intently listening. “So, what did you see kiddo?”
    “Well Bane and I were walking by the river and then we saw this thing that looked kinda like a rock, covered in leaves and dirt and stuff. But it wasn't! When I went to see it Bane stopped me so he could go check it out first and see if it was safe. Then I poked it with a stick a bit and we rolled it over and it turned out to be a dead geezer!”
    “You shouldn't call people geezers, it's bad manners. You should say elderly, kiddo.”
    “I can only call them geezers when they're not around right Dad?”
    “Atta girl!” Beatrice glared at him and he grinned guiltily. “I'm just teasing.” He covered one side of his mouth and whispered, “Only if your mother's not around too.”
    “But that geezer looked like an adventurer. He had a funny coat and hat and this dagger and everything.” She handed it to her father so he could get a closer look at the weapon. He shifted his glasses and examined it thoroughly.
    “How strange.” He said. “This dagger certainly isn't from Atlantis. Most of the weaponry we receive is from there, and that happens very rarely. The merchants don't often come to Hanamah. Supplying a Haven like ours never seemed to be something they enjoyed doing.” He chuckled.
    “He may have bought it from a caravan. Lately I've been seeing them popping up around here during their visits to Belos.” Beatrice added before a short pause. “But for what reason would any traveller come to Hanamah? Especially an adventurer? If he's a refugee I'm sure he would've arrived before or after Xenym was invaded. I can't think of anyone else who left the village before then. He can't be a human either. The village is protected by the Forest's barrier, so no one would wander in unless they were searching for it, or knew how to bypass it. Other than the Atlantis merchants and caravan merchants, we don't get visitors.” Her eyes sharpened. “Not that I trust them. Selling weapons and such in broad daylight...they set a terrible example for the children. We are a people of peace. That aside if they were followed the humans could find their way to this place, and if they did I'm sure the Agasura would follow soon after.”
    Grant held a finger to his lips and grinned. “Calm down Beatrice, it'll be alright. They don't often come around and when they do, the barrier would keep the humans and Agasura away. They won't know why, but they'll not want to get near the barrier. So long as it stands Hanamah will always be a safe haven for our colony. But this is a rather curious situation...who could he be? If he's a Cerebian it wouldn't be strange for him to bypass the barrier but for what reason would he come here?” He stared at the dagger sternly. “For him to come bearing a weapon...perhaps he was in danger? The Forest's creatures are not too difficult, especially for a seasoned adventurer. The only use we have for them is for hunting. His presence may be a sign of ill omens to come.” He glanced over the blade and placed it down before he closed his eyes. “Tell you what, kiddo. If you clean your plate you and I will go on a little adventure of our own to find that dead geezer you were talking about.”
    “Really?!” Su nearly jumped out of her seat, her eyes glittered with excitement.
    “Really really.” He smiled.
    Beatrice frowned at her as she sat down and started to wolf down her meal. “I would prefer if you went alone Grant.”
    Grant lowered his eyebrows. “Oh come now, let her have a little fun. We won't be leaving the safety of the barrier. There's nothing out there but a few woodland creatures, and I'm sure a squirrel or two won't give me too much of a hard time.” He intertwined his fingers. “She deserves a chance to go on a little adventure doesn't she? She's already old enough to start studying magic and to find a Pledger.”
    “That doesn't mean she's ready to take on dangerous tasks.”
    “You've no need to worry Beatrice, it's not dangerous in the least, and if it was I'll protect her.” He offered her a wilting smile. “I may be a retired Temple Knight, but I haven't lost my fire yet.” He turned to her and his expression brightened a bit. “Sorry kiddo, I won't be able to be your Pledger. Most Knights who find their Mage and take the Pledger's Vow often take the Marriage Contract. It's the final piece to fulfilling the contractt and binding the two together forever you know! And I'm happily married to your mother.” Whenever her Dad talked about sappy things like that her mother would turn red; this was one of those times. She turned red when she was really angry too, though. “Someday you'll make that vow with one of the boys in the village too.”
    “Gross.” Su answered. Her dad had told her about it before but he seemed to really like the idea, so she listened whenever he talked about it.
    “I used to say the same things when I was your age.” He laughed heartily.
    “You two should finish before it gets cold.” Beatrice calmly said.

    As the evening turned to night the three finished their meal and Grant and his daughter prepared to set out to find the dead geezer out by the river. Grant brought out his sword and shield and looked really cool doing it too. The sword was long with a golden hilt and the shield was white with a bright blue trim and the same symbol she wore on her ring placed on the front of it. He let her hold onto the dagger just in case she needed to defend herself, and the two wore fur coats to protect themselves from the chilly winds of the night.
    “You ready to set out kiddo? He asked her and she nodded sternly and vigorously. Standing side by side with her dad, the two armed and ready, for the first time it felt like she was going on a real adventure. Is that what it felt like for them before they retired? “We'll be back before you know it Dear.”
    The two began to split into their respective shoes and sandals while Beatrice uneasily watched them from the hallway. “Keep a close eye on her okay? Don't let her wander off too far or leave your sight. Take Bane with you too in case she gets lost...and come back as quickly as you can! I want her in bed before it gets too late!”
    Grant turned to her and saluted. “Yes Ma'am!” For a moment he looked like he could be one of the king's own knights. Su loved to hear the story about them and the knights fighting the goblin army. Beatrice always got mad when she asked him about it though.
    She lowered her eyebrows slightly, the worry evident on her face. “And...be safe, okay?”
    “Count on it.” He took a step toward her and kissed her gently before he turned back to the entrance where Su covered her eyes.
    “Gross...” She muttered while her father laughed.
    “Alright kiddo, let's go find that geezer.” He said before he enthusiastically opened the door and lead her into the night.

    The two exited the house and Su whistled; Bane's ears perked at the sound and he immediately loped to her side.
    “We're going geezer hunting Bane. I don't remember the way though so use that nose of yours.” She held the dagger to her companion and he looked up at her. “I can't do that anymore.” She huffed. “I'm a normal girl now remember?” He leaned in and sniffed it a couple times and she flicked his forehead. “That's what you get for teasing me, jerk.”
    Grant appeared from the darkness with a lit lantern in hand and grinned. “Now we can see where we're going. No point in wandering around in the darkness or we might find more tree trunks than we do geezers.” He walked over to her and rustled her hair before he walked past with the two following in his wake, Bane soon taking the lead in pursuit of the scent. “I'm still finding it hard to believe that you found someone within Hanamah's borders kiddo. Dead or alive, this will surely cause a big stink among the villagers.”
    She lowered her head but raised her eyes. “Why's it such a big deal if someone comes around here? You two never told me why we have to avoid the humans too. Are they monsters like the Agasura?” Su asked.
    “Mm...not quite.” He rubbed his moustache thoughtfully. “Humans are...they're a lot like us. Except they can't use really cool magic and whatnot like we can. They can use some magic, but they mostly rely on machines and other sorts of technology.”
    “So why can't we just get along with them too?”
    Grant sighed and smiled. His grip tightened on the tiny hand intertwined with his. “The thing is, there's a lot of differences between us kiddo. One of the things about Humanity is that they're afraid of change, and they don't exactly...like things that are different from what they're familiar with. If they don't understand it, they'll try to rid themselves of it, especially if they find it to be dangerous. We're not entirely different in that regard though. But even so there's still quite a lot that makes us different from them. Those differences...are what keep us apart.”
    The trio entered the forest and Bane cautiously sniffed the area, both in search of the man they found and for any danger that might approach them. He was always extra cautious at night time, especially because the wolves would become a lot more aggressive. Su insisted that she hold the lantern and she held it to light the way for her and her father as best she could, counting on Bane to guide them.
    “So would they do bad things to us if they came to our village?”
    He chuckled gently, but it didn't have the same gentleness it usually did. His face didn't light up either. “It's...possible. But I don't want you to believe that all Humans are bad kiddo. There are good Humans and bad Humans out there and we're the same way. I know your mother might have said otherwise, but don't be too hard on her if you don't like it. She means well, in every respect. She just hasn't had many good experiences with them so she take well to them.” Su wanted to ask about it, but she recalled that when she asked him about things he didn't like talking about he'd make a really sad face and say that he'd tell her when she's older.
    She decided to leave the matter about her mother's experiences alone and pursued another. “So you and Mom have met a lot of different humans before?”
    “Yep. We've come across quite a few in our adventures. Even if many of our kind dislike them, building a strong relationship with Humanity as God Ah's servants is our duty.” She didn't quite understand what he meant by that the first time he said it, and she certainly didn't now but she'd pretend she did.
    “Are there still people who do that? That help the Humans?”
    He beamed. “Curious, aren't you? There are in fact! Hundreds out there who lived among the Humans on Jienda, but! Only the really, really hard workers were given permission to come to Jienda originally. All those who did received permission from the royal family themselves.
    “The royal family was the king and the queen and the princess right?”
    Grant nodded. “You remembered huh? Atta girl.” She felt a bit of pride at his words. “Beatrice and I met them once upon a time. It was one of the highlights of our adventure, and that was only the beginning!”
    “Do you think someday I can meet the Humans too? And meet the royal family so they can give me the OK to go on my own adventure?”
    His voice seemed quieter when he spoke again. Perhaps it was just the sound of the owls and other night creatures drowning him out? “You sure can kiddo. If you work really hard in the village and do your best to get along with everyone, someday you can too.”
    The sound of crickets chirping their song amidst the serene forest night created a gentle ambience. Su held the lantern a little closer to her parent to hide the smile on her face while the two neared the river.
    “We're almost there Dad. Watch your step here or you might fall in the river. I'll have to send Bane in to get you out if you do.” She quickly skipped from one rock to the next while her father followed along with long and steady steps.
    “You won't jump in and rescue me?”
    She laughed. “I don't wanna get wet too!”
    He laughed along with her. “I don't think Bane would appreciate you sending him in either.”
    She shined the lantern after her canine companion and he raised his nose to the air. He turned to them and barked, then immediately loped over to where they had found the body prior.
    “Hang on Bane I can't see you if you run off like that!” She immediately chased after him while her father desperately held on. “I'm coming hold on!” Just as she had left him he had remained there, looking as dead as ever. “Do you think if we leave him he'll turn into a zombie?”
    “Where did you learn about those? They only appear in the Pyramids.” Grant added.
    “Have you been there?! I wanna know!” Her eyes glittered.
    “No, no of course not.” Grant chuckled as he gestured for her to calm down; she excitedly hopped at his feet and danged the lantern rather close to him. “Still, it's just like you said kiddo. A dead guy in the forest. Mind if I take this for a moment?” She handed the lantern over to him and he crouched down and placed the lantern by the dead guy's face. “It doesn't look like he's been dead for very long.” Grant placed a finger to the dead guy's neck and closed his eyes for a moment. “There's still a heartbeat, and I can sense his mana also. They're faint, but they're still there. If that mark on his forehead means anything, he must have been in a fight and got knocked out. Let's take him back to the house. If we do leave him here, I don't think it'll be long before he becomes a dead guy.”
    Su felt a tad disappointed she wouldn't get to see her first zombie, but on the bright side he was a living breathing adventurer, so the thought of getting to ask him about his adventures and actually get answers was even better. She felt a tad worried that he might have died along the way though.
    Grant heaved the knocked out man over his shoulder and handed the lantern back to Su, who carried it proudly and followed behind Bane who crossed the river and waited patiently at the other side. She went next and waited ahead of her parent as if he crossed with even more care now that he had to carry another guy across. After they got past the river and pressed on, the flame in the lantern suddenly went out and left them in the darkness.
    “Well this is bad.” Grant said awkwardly.
    “It's really bad.” She agreed. “What should we do Dad? Can you light it again?”
    “No can do kiddo. I forgot to put more oil in the lamp. We might have to do this the hard way.”
    She looked at her companion and then to her father's silhouette shortly after. “Bane said he can lead us because he can see in the dark I don't like that too much though...is there anywhere else we can get light from?” She glanced around and caught a glimpse of fireflies drifting around the river. “Hey you guys! Help us out!” Little by little they flew towards the group and surrounded them, flitting about and lighting the area around them.
    “Amazing...when did you learn to do that?”
    “I dunno...sometimes the animals and bugs and stuff do what I say. Sometimes they can be helpful but most of the time they're trouble.”
    Grant looked around, dazzled by the sight and she smiled. “You really are a child of the forest huh? Knowing you, there's nothing in the world that could keep you still though, is there?”
    “Nope! Not a one.”
    He looked to the sky. “But are you sure you wanna leave? Outside of Hanamah is a whole new world. The forest is only a tiny part of it, and the rest of it is rather vast, and pretty dangerous because of the infestation of Agasura. Though I'm sure you know what the Forest can be like.” He knit his eyebrows. “What worries me is the rest of the world. At times it can be very cruel, and if you don't know what's out there it can be difficult. If you do go, you may never find your way back home.”
    She held the lantern with both hands, and gently swayed it as she looked down at her feet. “I don't wanna leave you and Mom but I still wanna be an adventurer and do cool stuff like you two. I know it's dangerous and stuff 'cause you two always tell me but I'm not scared! I wanna see the world and meet Humans and fight Agasuras and see whatever else is out there. I don't wanna stay in Hanamah forever.”
    Grant gave her a gentle pat on the head and a smile. “If that's what you really wanna do, don't lose sight of it kiddo. Follow your dreams and keep on chasing after them until they come true. Someday when you become a fantastic Mage and find your Pledger, you be sure to come home and see us. Beatrice and I have to make sure that he's suited for you.”
    She frowned, but a tiny smile danced on the edges of her lips. “I told you I don't need to be protected by some knight! I'm fine on my own. Why would I need one of them anyway?”
    “Being a Mage is very dangerous. You're really powerful with spells, but you can only wear robes and while casting you're wide open for attacks. The Knight is there to protect you while you do. By making the contracts, the two of you will be much stronger together than you would be alone. You can also do incredible things like instantly warping to each other. But that's only after you form the Marriage Contract! Besides, everyone falls in love someday.”
    “Don't need it.”
    He chuckled. “Kids will be kids.” She was thinking awfully hard and he caught a glimpse of her expression, which may have gave it away. “What's on your mind kiddo?”
    “If I did feel like making a contract with somebody, does it have to be a knight? Can't it be a Warrior or an Explorer?”
    “Of course it can!” He ruffled her hair again and she smiled. “Knights and Mages forming contracts is just the traditional way of doing things. There are a lot more jobs than there used to be. Actually, we didn't always have the class system you know! There's a lot that we learned from Humanity.”
    “I bet they could learn a bunch from us too.”
    “Darn right! There;s a world of things they could learn from you alone kiddo. When you're older and you face the world, remember that you're representing Hanamah out there.” He chuckled. “You'll be our village's poster girl.”
    “What's a poster girl?” She tilted her head quizzically.
    “Means you're what everybody wants to be.”
    She grinned. “I already knew that!”
    “You're a sharp one.” He teased.

    The trio finally returned home and the fireflies took off once Su started waving her hands at them while dismissing them. Bane walked over to a small corner by the entrance and lay down, quietly lowering his head while he watched the two follow after him.
    “Thanks Bane.” Grant said as he carefully entered the house with the not-quite-dead guy.
    Su walked over and gave him a pat on the head just like her Dad did with her. “Good work Bane.” He looked pretty pleased about it. She followed after her father and nearly turned around after she caught a glimpse of her mother standing in the hallway fuming.
    “Grant, get that corpse out of my house...right now.” She snarled.
    “He's not dead Beatrice, just unconscious. You can feel it too, can't you? That mana. “It's much too strong to be any Human's, but it's faint so we can't be entirely sure whether he's one of us. It's not that unlikely for Humans to have an unnaturally high mana count, but regardless of what he is, we can't leave him to die in the forest.” She lowered her eyebrows but her expression kept its intensity. She crossed her arms and tapped a finger on her arm impatiently. “We were taught not to leave any person behind, especially those in need. Even after all that's happened, we can't let our integrity be broken so easily.”
    Su carefully slipped in after him and slipped her shoes off while keeping an uneasy gaze on her mother, in case she found a reason to turn her wrath on her. As she listened to the conversation, she felt the sneaking suspicion that part of the reason her father said that was that so she too, understood. He always talked about integrity and treating your neighbours right, especially insisting that she could start with the boys and girls in the village.
    Beatrice sighed. “Have it your way. Bring him inside. But if he shows any signs of being dangerous to anyone in our family we're subduing him and having him dragged as far away from Hanamah as possible! Do I make myself clear?”
    Su froze in place next to Grant and the two stood upright to salute Beatrice. “Yes Ma'am!” The two said in unison.
    “Don't you join in that nonsense.” She muttered before she brought another candle for Su to find her way back to her room. “Straight to bed Missy, no exceptions! Good night.”
    “Sweet dreams kiddo.” Grant said with a wink. He followed after Beatrice to the storage room and she watched as the only thing left was the shadows between them.
    “Night Mom. Night Dad.” She returned to her room and placed the candlestick on the night table by her bed before she climbed into it. She leaned over to blow out the flame and buried her face in her pillow before she let out a muffled cry of excitement. A real living adventurer was in her house! She couldn't wait to ask him all sorts of questions and learn a ton of cool things from him. She closed her eyes but she knew she wouldn't sleep that night. Her mind was abuzz with all the things she would want to hear from him.

    This one saw a lot of changes too. I added a few new scenes and I reworked the dialogue a little bit to give Kasumi more of a childish air to her and a bit of a sibling relationship between her and Bane. He now talks! Technically. Well he always did but now he just does it more. Sometimes. He's just kinda weird...and a wolf. I think the big change here is now it follows Kasumi's perspective. At times it'll switch between using names and terms of endearment I guess? Or titles? If you see that it just means its her thoughts specifically. Trying to refrain from using the italicized thoughts for only those moments where I really need it, rather than relying on it to convey all of her thoughts. Kept a lot of the old stuff with a lot of new additions. I removed the songs since they aren't in the public environment or something like that? In other words it was pretty much illegal to use them like that so I'm thinking of keeping it without them, though I do prefer it a little bit.
    Sanc spoilers?:
    It was a part of Vanir's story, though a small one, and I'd prefer to have it but if not that's fine too. Essentially, the finer details would have been mentioned in Project HH but that hasn't come to fruition so I don't think the songs/band specifically won't matter too much.
    One of the big changes I think would probably be me actually using Kasumi's name/nickname. Figured since it was from her perspective now, it wouldn't make any sense not to use it during her PoVs, but I'll try to keep it as is for Samson's, since he doesn't know it. I kept Beatrice and Grant's dialogue the same though, since using nicknames and other things just seemed like the kind of thing they'd do with their child. It felt right.
    I guess small details like Yuta's mom's name, (I plan on changing that) will see some changes later. I realized that Yuta himself was born in Aoich, but I remembered those are his foster parents. Remembered the call out from Su during their fight in Freq. I might need to glance over her thoughts on Agasura again. Essentially she would know about them, but what she saw in the Forest she'd consider closer to being animals rather than Agasuras. Idk how I feel about her doubting them, but I don't think it suits her to be apprehensive about something she hasn't seen for herself. Gotta admit though, I feel pretty good about the tie in with Lady Amae here.
    USSR Spoilers:
    I'd given the matter of the other God's Governors some thought, and after looking back I realized that in Sanc Su mentioned the other God's Governors couldn't hear Her. I might change the fact slightly, since it'd make more sense for Amata to go to Hanamah if she could hear her even a little bit. In that regard, it might be the fact that she came with the intention to find her in mind, but didn't mention that to Su, so she never knew. On the other hand, her spiritual affinity wouldn't have been as strong, nor would her understanding of the Frequency Link, hence why Su found Lady Amae before Amata could and became the one to form the contract. Though, their goddess IS a clairvoyant, so chances are she saw all of that coming? I won't say for sure though lol. After speculating, there might not need to be a change after all, but expect some exciting changes to USS in the coming updates.
    Also for the first time you get to see someone else experience the Sound of Frequency! How? Why? That's a big ol' secret. Julius knows something. Those tricky God's Governors. That's all I've got for now. Hope you like the updated version so far! There's still a lot of improvements to come.

    Though imagine if Amata had become the main heroine. That'd certainly be something lol.
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Mon Aug 25, 2014 9:02 am

    Pages 45-52:
    Samson
    The sound of battle surrounded him; the cries of the Cerebian warriors brought him back to reality as he stole a glimpse of the battlefield before him; arrows flew threw the sky to penetrate the army of Agasura that encroached upon Asgard as the earth rose to meet them, streams of ice and fire danced in the skies as the winged warriors swooped down from above and fought back against their invaders. Samson looked down and found himself clad in his torn leather armour with his dagger in hand. Only a few feet away he watched Rosetta storming a grey giant wielding a pillar as a weapon. It slammed the pillar down and she dashed away from it to plunge her weapon into its leg and follow with a spinning slash.
    “Samson! Prepare yourself!” She roared to him before retreating.
    “Rosetta, Samson, now's your chance,” Julius shouted. For the first time Julius had used his prowess as a God's Governor to awaken, and in doing so had reached a state very few before him had. But Samson had no time to admire his younger brother's feats; it was their duty to fend off the invaders and assist as many Cerebians in their escape as possible.
    The ground beneath them trembled and five massive thorns emerged from the ground, two impaled it from both front and back while the other three twisted and wrapped around it. With his superior agility Samson took the lead and dashed in as the stone giant fumbled its pillar and dropped it to the ground, struggling to maintain its balance as the thorns pulled it to its knees. He leapt onto the pillar's ends and rushed the giant as it collapsed to make his ways up its left arm and reach its back. He grabbed hold of its hair and rappelled his way down to its neck where he plunged his dagger in with as much force as he could. The skin was rough, and even more so difficult to pierce but he would persist as best he could. He ripped the dagger from its neck and plunged it in again, dragging it across to offer him more space for a follow up. As he continued Rosetta followed his lead, charging up the arm and taking point in its face. She swung from one massive silver lock of hair and landed upon its nose, then drew her blade and armed it. With a single swing she cut across both eyes and the creature roared and thrashed about, throwing her from its body and causing Samson to helplessly flail about and slam against its back as it attempted to rip the thorns from the earth. Julius caught his wife with a leaf from the World Tree itself and raised her to its neck where she pointed her blade.
    “The time is now!” Though she did not call to him specifically he could tell it was a warning for him; the three had studied the Jotun before, so they were well aware of how to kill one should the need arise, and the sleepless nights had certainly bore fruit, now more so than any other point during their adventure. With a rising slice from her blade, a bright star appeared at where she had cut, and she immediately followed it with a spinning slash that caused it to burst and easily pierce the surface of the giant's skin and leave a bloody wound. The creature roared with enough force to fling her from the leaf and fall to the ground and leave a cloud of dust in her wake, but she remained standing, albeit rather shaken. When it lowered its head Samson saw his opportunity. He took his stance on its arched back and pointed his dagger at the nape of the neck. He crouched down and cut it once, followed by three more cuts in succession as his body skillfully twisted and turned; the Dark Dagger technique he had learned when he had mastered the weapon. He followed the attack with two swift cuts and a final stab that brought the creature down. Julius released the thorns an  brought a levitating piece of earth to Samson's height so he could safely reach the ground level again.
    One of the guards flying by saluted him and shouted, “Nice job!” He nocked an arrow and fired down upon the approaching Agasura of Simyeon. Samson landed upon the ground and considered taking the opportunity to thank Julius but realized now was not the time for such trivial matters. Enemies were rapidly approaching and he needed to keep them as far away from the capital as possible. Small light blue and transparent jellyfish creatures approached and he prepared his dagger again. He dashed and cut two of them down before shifting into a tumble to avoid the two that leapt at him. He leapt at one and plunged his dagger through the visible nucleus in its center and grabbed its tentacles to toss it at others that approached and stall for time.
    “Behind you!” Rosetta shouted before she rushed to his side. She raised her shield and took cover behind it as a Corala charged the two and forced her back into him. Her boots dug into the dirt as she managed to hold her ground, Samson safe and indebted to her also. The massive coral creature let out a low groan as it raised a hand from the ground and swiped her aside, only to find him leaping towards it. He plunged his dagger into the swirl of a face and stabbed it three more times, felling it.
    “You alright?” He asked as he pulled her to her feet.
    “Yes. This is nothing but a scrape.” She answered picking up her sword.
    A young girl in robes with a staff in hand approached and placed her hands to Rosetta's back, a dim green glow emanated from her hands as similar coloured ripples emerged from beneath the two. “You have our thanks Milady! I pray that you'll keep fighting for us!” A Water Mage, and one no older than sixteen.
    “So long as Agasura remain on Asgard our fight shall go on.” Rosetta acted as a beacon of hope to the Cerebians, especially in times of war. She was the first human to marry into the colony, and was the start of a future of peace between races. The late Queen Remedi had believed that with the two both races had hope, and a much better chance of standing against the Agasura. Samson would do everything in his power to keep them alive.
    “Take cover!” One of the flying soldiers shouted to those on the ground.
    Samson's eyes darted off into the distance and just as they were warned, a piercing beam of energy shot towards them and marred the earth in its passing. Those unfortunate to be caught in its radius were no more. He, Rosetta and the others nearby were fortunate enough to have expected it and managed to escape it. He glimpsed at the crimson star in the sky and took a deep, fearful breath. If they were not prepared it would easily wipe them from the face of Asgard.
    “Is everyone alright?” He turned to check on his brother and sister-in-law and only saw their weapons resting upon the earth and their fallen bodies upon a wasteland of sand as far as the eye could see. “J-Julius...? Rosetta?! N-no...no!” He grabbed the corpse of his brother and desperately shook him. “What...how...no...Julius! Julius!”

    “Julius...Julius...” Samson groggily opened his eyes and arose from the makeshift bed he found himself in. Covered in sweat he opened his eyes and tears ran down his cheeks. He wiped the tears away and rubbed the top of his head gently, to the realization that the lump that would have been there prior had finally subsided. At the realization he was within someone's house, he immediately scanned his surroundings to get a grasp on where exactly he was, but to no avail. The young girl sitting by his bedside caught his attention, and the two curiously stared at each other seemingly in wait for the first to speak out.
    “Who...uhh...hey kid.” He muttered under his breath with a raised eyebrow. Soft emerald eyes gazed at him without blinking and a small grin took precedence at his words.
    Her long blonde hair swayed as she turned her head and raised a hand to shout towards a hallway, “Hey Mom, the geezer's awake!”
    Being referred to as a 'geezer' was rather unsettling for Samson, but his age was often a running joke amidst the kids. It seemed that would not change here. In the few moments the child's gaze turned back to him, he shifted his away as not to be caught staring; he had no specific interest in her, but the pelt clothes she wore were certainly reminiscent of the Belos style clothing, so he was likely within the small town just off the path through the Forest. He considered himself lucky that the young girl did not press him for answers as to why he called out that name and awoke in a cold sweat, so he cast away the thought along with his gaze. He searched the room once more and noted the night tables and the bed between them against a wall adjacent to him. Upon one of them a monochrome picture of a young Temple Knight and Sorceress stood tall, the two looked camera shy but overjoyed to be together. A closet with a folding door rested against the far wall and near where he lay an open window; two small dressers stood before and beside him, the child between him and the dresser to his right.
    He turned to her once more and knit his eyebrows in response to the glistening eyes that carefully watched him. Was she a human? She had eyed him with such a keen curiosity it was if she saw a Cerebian for the first time. Not that they could tell the difference. “You know young lady,” He began trying to maintain a polite air about him, “it's rude to refer to an elder man as a geezer.”
    She snickered. “You sound like my Dad.” She crossed her arms. “What's it to you?”
    For such a young girl she certainly had an attitude, but he would not let something so small bother him. “It means the world to me.” He raised his eyebrows. “We're both civilized people aren't we? There's no need to refer to each other with insulting titles. My name's Samson; what's yours?”
    “Mom told me not to tell strangers too much about me. You're about as strange as strange can be.” This was going to be difficult. More so than he would have liked, but Samson had handled both Alessa and Virgil at their worst; this girl would not cause him any grief.
    Before he could speak again an elder lady entered the room and crossed her arms with an expectant look on her face. Clad in a common dress with a flower pattern sewn in, she eyed him cautiously for a couple of moments before she spoke to her daughter. “I told you that you shouldn't speak to strangers so freely. They could be dangerous you know.” She turned to him with a sudden look of disdain and he felt uneasy creeping up on him immediately. “As for you...identify yourself.”
    He chuckled uneasily before he brushed the greying chestnut hair from his eyes with the back of his hand. “My name...is Samson. I've been searching for a town...er...village. By the name of Hanamah I believe. You wouldn't happen to know of it, would you?”
    The woman looked startled for a moment but quickly regained her composure. That reaction must have meant she knew of it, but she was no Confidant. “A village named Hanamah you say? What do you know of it?”
    Julius was always insistent that Samson be very careful he share his knowledge about the Cerebians with those who weren't aware of them. Rosetta may have been a first, and an accident at that but she had proved to be a worthwhile companion, and eventually Julius' Pledger at that, but not everyone could be so trustworthy. “A friend of mine had mentioned such a place hidden within the Forest. I suspected some of my family and friends might have taken refuge there after the...the events that conspired in Aoich some time ago. I went into the Forest to find it and seemed to have gotten lost along the way.”
    She closed her eyes and sighed. “That's enough; you don't need to lie to me. I already am aware that you're a Cerebian, as are we. This is the Haven Hanamah, and my daughter and her companion had found you unconscious in the Forest. What brings you here? What had happened to you that had you unconscious for such a long period of time? My poor child had thought you died.”
    They thought he was dead? How long had he been out for? He considered himself lucky that he was taken to Hanamah but he found himself hard-pressed to lie any further than he already had. Though there was no particular need, after being shamed once in a desperate attempt not to give himself away he felt that whatever little pride remained would need to be shelved for him to gather information. After being discovered potentially near death by a child no older than ten or eleven, he did not have much in his defense. If it was for Kasumi, he would give up that and much more. “There's someone I'm searching for...more specifically, a child. A girl. I've traversed Jienda for nearly ten years now in search of her but I've yet to find any clues on her whereabouts, except for one from a Confidant in Elias. He had said she may have turned up in the Forest. And I searched for her for days but...” He closed his eyes and shook his head. The look on his face really showed his age in those moments, and the exhaustion and weariness that accompanied it made him out to be frailer than he was. “She was my little bro's kid. I know he'd have given anything to save her life, even his own.” He clenched his fist. “I have to find her! It doesn't matter where she is, I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get even a little bit closer to getting to her!”
    The woman was taken aback and the child that sat by his bed looked positively enthralled by his tale. “You say you've been looking for this girl for ten years. Riddle me this: how would you even recognize the child if you were to find her? Would she recognize you if she saw you?”
    Samson hesitated for an answer; whoever she was, she was adamant on getting a proper answer out of him, and the more she asked the more difficult it became for him. There was no way he would be able to recognize Kasumi if he did find her because he had never seen her in the entirety of his life, let alone hers. To her, he did not even exist and his knowledge of her extended to her parents, the pregnant Rosetta and the fact she was the next God's Governor of Earth. He furrowed his brows as he searched through the confines of his mind to give her an answer that would prove he was serious about the endeavour. The best thing he could do was come clean, and so he would; in the same vein, to give away the fact that she was the God's Governor of Earth could father distrust between him and his benefactor. No Cerebian in their right mind would hand over the God's Governors to a stranger so easily. “I've no idea what she looks like, to be completely honest with you. As for her, she doesn't even know I exist. I had known of her before she had been born, and I'd caught word that she was still alive somewhere out there. If she in in Hanamah I have to find her no matter what.”
    “Your cause is noble, but what exactly do you plan to do if you find the child?
    “I'll take her with me on my journey. I won't let her out of my sight-”
    The lady grit her teeth and clenched her fists before she raised her voice, “Could you walk into this girl's life so easily and take her away from the only family she's ever known?! Whisk her away from the village she calls home and the only people that she's come to trust?! Only a fool could follow such a path while resting on his laurels!”  This time he found himself nonplussed as her daughter was, stealing glances at her enraged mother who seemed out of breath due to her sudden tirade. She placed a hand to her chest and exhaled, her expression losing the intensity that it once contained. “Forgive me for raising my voice; there was little need for such a response.” She gave Samson a stern look. “I'm sure you're aware how dangerous the world outside of the Havens are. The cities scattered across Jienda aside, the Agasura run rampant. If not for the protection of the Derr Clan through the stones in each city, they would easily be invaded and mankind would be wiped out.” She shook her head. “You, an adventurer cannot hold to the luxury of that protection because you live to fight the Agasura. Do you really think you could father a child while living that lifestyle? To take her on your journey would be no different than condemning her to death!”
    At her words Samson faltered. His hands trembled as the words hit him hard; he wanted to take Kasumi away from the Havens in case the Dark Moon Kingdom pursued her to them, but if she was to join him on his journey she would need to be protected from the Agasura that would easily take her life in the Dark Moon's stead. Regardless of where she was, she was not safe; amidst Humanity in the cities she would be vulnerable to the kingdom once again. Hanamah was the safest place she could be right now, of all the Havens. How could he have been so foolish? Ten years searching for her and he had not even come up with an adequate plan for after he located her? He only looked back with despair and forward with reckless abandon, but he lacked a plan for the future, one where the two could have been together.
    “You're...” He uttered, “you're right. I hadn't even thought that far ahead. The fields are no place for a child. They should be safe at home with a family and friends, a place they're familiar with...” Samson tightly gripped the blanket beneath him. Kasumi did not have to live the life he chose to live due to his jealousy. Julius had undergone training from a young age to succeed their father when he came of age, and the responsibility that Samson lacked made him work twice as hard so he could rival his younger brother in the slightest. He had started taking up quests when he was no older than eleven and received permission from the royal family when he was thirteen to journey to Jienda. Kasumi did not have her father to teach her the ways of the God's Governors, and Samson knew precious little about teaching one, so how could he take her with him at such a crucial point in her life?
    After remaining quiet for such a long period the girl finally decided to speak up. “If everyone felt that way, who would stop the Agasura?” She asked. Both adults looked rather shocked at the question, but her mother's gaze quickly turned hard. It seemed that she was not so fond of her daughter's precociousness. “Both Mom and Dad formed a Contract and fought Agasuras before, and I'm willing to bet the geezer did too. How old were you when you started adventuring?”
    He spent a moment to take in her words, then blinked slowly as he processed the question directed at him. He knit his eyebrows and muttered, “I already said not to call me a geezer.” He sighed and took a moment to recall exactly when he had started. “My old man gave me the OK to start weapons training when I was eight. Crossbows, daggers, bows, you name it, I learned it. All the things a guy with zero magical talent would need. By the time I was ten I was in combat training. I sparred with some of my friends and classmates and even with some of his party members.” He smiled as he reminisced, an air of superiority surrounded him as he recalled his glorious youth. “A couple bruises and scrapes didn't hold me back.” Glancing further into his memories he recalled another point in them that lead to the beginning of his journey. “By the time I was twelve I was assigned to patrol the city as an apprentice guard with some of my classmates. They were my first party.”
    “See Mom? The geezer was learning to fight before he was even my age.” Her mother's eye twitched at the statement. Was Samson digging his own grave? That matter aside, he really wanted to ask her not to call him a geezer but she was on his side on the matter, so he decided that he would let it slide this time. Though he was acting as a bad influence for that impressionable child, her mother seemed much too inquisitive to not know of Kasumi; perhaps she knew who had her, and was aware of her being the God's Governor so she acted as a confidant to her benefactor.
    The lady frowned. “People like him were bred for combat. For some, it is all they ever knew, and they would live and die by that knowledge. I studied until I was thirteen, and at that age they had only taught us the most basic of skills pertaining to spellcasting. I had studied for hours on end, took tests and learned the lore of our colony just so I could understand how the spells were created. The usage of mana is nowhere near as simple as what a fighter type class would learn, and even after all my years I among the many are still unable to utilize it. You'll need to learn many of these things before you can truly master your element.”
    The young girl groaned and rolled her eyes. “If I learned to be another class I wouldn't have to spend all this time studying and junk. I never said I wanted to be a Mage anyway! If I could've been something else than I could already be out there doing quests and fighting Agasura.”
    As she spoke a tall, muscular and rather seasoned looking man entered the room. Going by the picture, Samson could tell that he was the man in the picture, and the other his companion. It may have been a generous assumption, but he deemed him to be the lady's husband.
    “Now now kiddo, why would you want to learn something else if you're already pretty good at one thing?” He caught a glimpse of Samson and chuckled lightly. The air about him was gentle as his laugh, and Samson felt a bit of ease at seeing the smile on his face. “Well, pardon me. It's good to see you're awake stranger. I assume you've already become acquainted with my wife and daughter? As for me, my name is Grant, the one and only man of the house. It's a pleasure to meet you, and even more so to know you're still alive and kicking.”
    Grant offered him a hand and Samson shook it with pleasure. It seemed that he was the more leisurely of the two, much to Samson's relief. If Grant had been as harsh as his wife he would definitely have a very difficult time. “Samson, and likewise.” He smiled at him. “Your daughter seems to have rescued me. Thanks to your family I'm alive and here now.”
    “Think nothing of it Samson. A friend of the colony is a friend of ours, and always welcome in our home.” He felt at home already.
    Grant's daughter looked at him impatiently as she waited for her turn to speak, and he gestured for her to keep calm and go on with what she wanted to say. “It's so I don't have tro study all the time. It's boring.” She answered finally.
    Grant laughed. “You know, in our colony Mages are a very rare class. It's a gift few have the privilege of being born with you know. Often times, it's an inherited gene, and other times children are born with the ability naturally!” He said matter-of-factly. “As for the other classes, each have specific requirements and training methods for those who want to learn them. No matter which class you're studying to become, it's gonna be hard work, and at times boring.” As for what you are now, you're a natural! In all my years as an adventurer I've never quite seen an Earth Mage such as yourself.” His words caught Samson's attention. Perhaps this was a clue?
    “Whaddya' mean?” She asked.
    “At such a young age you're already so talented with your spells.” Just like Julius was. “Not even Beatrice could successfully perform hers when she was your age.” He laughed and his wife glared at him; he would remember that name. The two were likely together since childhood, like he and Esther were. At the thought he felt a tinge of loneliness at his deceased friend, but he knew he had to let go sooner or later so he set it aside as best as he could. “Take pride in your specialty and don't be afraid to show it. You're fine just the way you are kiddo.” Grant seemed to dote on her a bit, but Samson could see why he did. If he was a parent, he'd likely have a daddy's girl too. Would he have been that way with Kasumi?
    “Why should I be proud of it? All the other Mages won't pair up with me in class because my magic is too strong and they all treat me like I'm weird. The others do it too.”
    Her parents stole uneasy glances at each other, and Samson felt sure they understood, but knew there was precious little that they could do. To involve themselves too much in her affairs would likely lead to further alienation. Grant gave her a slight smile. “Just give it time kiddo. You're all still so young and I don't think they've come to understand how difficult it is to be a skilled Mage. When they're older I'm sure they'll be jealous of your efforts and admire how hard you worked.” She muttered something inaudible in response. “So what brings you to our part of the Forest Samson?” Beatrice took up the task of informing Grant on how he had found himself here and her husband seemed awfully impressed by his conviction towards his mission. “So you're looking for your little brother's daughter huh? That really is quite the noble cause! But if you plan on finding her you'll need to keep yourself alive first! If our daughter hadn't found you in the Forest you may have started growing fungus by the time someone had.”
    Samson did not doubt the possibility of that. They likely believed that he had fallen unconscious due to hunger, which held an inkling of truth, since what Vanir had given him ran out after a couple of days, but it was not what had done him in. Someone or something had ambushed him during one of the nights and knocked him out, and though he wanted to find the criminal, he had much more pressing matters to attend to. The fact bothered him, but thanks to that he had found himself in Hanamah and would not pass up his ticket to locating his niece. He had no time to waste. “I'd bet.” He commented. He rose from his bed of blankets and gave an approving nod to those who surrounded him, Beatrice remained apprehensive while the others gave him puzzled looks. “Again, thank you for finding me. I should be on my way, though; I won't intrude on you any longer than I already have.” It certainly was a homely place, and he enjoyed his brief stay along with the company, save for the hostility but he had a mission to accomplish.
    Grant placed a hand to his shoulder and he blinked. “Slow down there friend. You don't think we'd just have you stay a night and send you packing would we? You've come all the way from the city and you're here now as our guest. There's no need to leave in such a hurry. If you're searching for a girl somewhere in the village, why not stay a spell and get acquainted with everyone?” He asked.
    Samson considered the offer. What Grant said was not illogical in the slightest; he would not likely find Kasumi in the span of a day, and in truth he did need to rest a spell and eat something before he collapsed from hunger. Again. Perhaps he would take them up on their offer after all. It would certainly be a start to fulfilling Reina's request. “If you don't mind my intrusion, I'd be honoured to be your guest.” He answered.
    Grant turned to his wife. “We can keep him, right Beatrice?” His lips curled into an impish smile.
    Beatrice frowned. “You shouldn't treat our guests like animals Grant,” she responded.
    “Oh...you spoiled the joke.” Grant and their daughter burst into laughter. The coming days would certainly be interesting ones.

    Kasumi
    Her family sat down with their guest sitting nearby atop a stool that her mom often used when her dad wasn't around to lend a hand. Su was dying to ask Samson loads of questions but at every chance she had it seemed her parents had something else in mind for him. She tried to finish her meal as fast as she could to make time for the two to talk, and wound up choking on an egg.
    “You need top take your time or you'll only choke.” Beatrice reprimanded her. Su gave her a sullen glare from the corner of her eye and followed her advice.
    Samson had done exactly what she had, and pounded his chest violently for the second or third time since he started. He had been through two full meals and found himself on his third. Had it really been that long since he last ate?
    “Once we're done here we should probably get you introduced to the other villagers Samson. Better that we do it formally than create an uproar through surprise.” Grant suggested. “It's been so long since anyone last came here everyone's gonna be a little shocked. Even more so that we'll be getting a new member in our community.”
    “You do raise a good point. I can't count the amount of times I'd been apprehended for entering the Havens.” The adventurer chuckled dryly. The two had finished first and thanked her mom for the meal.
    “We'll be out for a while Dear. Stay out of trouble while we handle this okay kiddo?” Grant asked.
    Su shifted her gaze to her parent without moving her head and muttered, “Okay.”
    She finished as quickly as she could and immediately made for the entrance, only to be caught by her mom mid-way there and stopped.
    “Where are you off to in such a hurry young lady?” Beatrice asked with a raised eyebrow.
    “Going out to play.” She answered stiffly, her eyes slowly wandered away from her mom's gaze. “With Bane.”
    Beatrice let go of her shirt and sighed. “That's fine dear, but please don't give your father a hassle. This is a very important matter that you should leave to the adults.”
    “I won't...” Su didn't have any plans to get involved, but she wanted to see how the two were faring. She didn't like the adults too much, and they certainly didn't like her. She didn't pay them any mind though. Though she usually avoided them, she felt that if they were giving the geezer a hard time then she would get involved. Maybe. She slipped on her sandals and exited their home. She whistled and her companion stood up and stretched, quietly taking his place by her side as she watched the remaining members of Hanamah gather while her father spoke to them as a whole.
    Grant stood at the foot of a statue of the previous God's Governor Julius and his party members. Su had heard from her dad that because of Julius, Hanamah was able to be built and the people who built it lived to tell. Some had fought alongside him, and others escaped because of him. He said he knew Julius after the war, and his wife and familiar but she didn't believe it; he just liked to go on about the Pledger Pact and how Julius had one too. She often asked Bane about Julius and what the God's Governors were, but he seemed pretty bashful on the matter so she didn't ask often. She sat on the fence and watched the crowd bustling about around the two uneasily.
    “If you were taller you could probably see it too Bane. Everyone's been giving Dad and the geezer funny looks. I don't think they like new people too much,” Su said and Bane whimpered in response. “I bet they think he's a human too. If any of them used their heads they'd know he's not.” She snorted. Grant began to look rather sweaty while he gestured for the crowd to calm down as he explained himself. “Looks like Dad's in a pinch. We should go bail him out.” She leapt off of the fence and he stood up with a convicted bark. She chuckled. “Where would he be without us?”
    “...should show the utmost support and hospitality that we can to any guests that may arrive in Hanamah, correct? Regardless of who or what they may be, and of their stature!” Grant insisted uneasily.
    Yuta's dad didn't seem so fond of her dad's idea, as he was one of the first Su saw to speak out against him. He was kinda old with short black hair and an angry look on his face just about all the time. Since he was one of the few people in Hanamah to use guns he was able to hunt really tough animals like bears for pelts, so his family traded them and also wore them, so they had really nice clothes. Su didn't care much for them but she did feel a tad jealous in the winter time. “What makes you so sure that we can trust this stranger Grant? For all we know he could be anything! If he isn't one of us he could be the downfall of our Haven!” Mr. Kazuto snarled. The others in the crowd nodded and muttered their own thoughts on the matter.
    Su shoved her way through the crowd and approached her father who looked aghast at her appearance.
    He crouched down and whispered to her, “Go play kiddo, okay? Leave this to dad.”
    “I can help you,” She insisted and he didn't seem very convinced. She raised a hand to silence the crowd and Yuta's dad snorted. If he was Yuta she'd have her fist in his face right now.
    “Do you really need to have your kid stand up for you? It's no surprise that she's a violent and tyrannical little girl.” He added.
    She glared at him for a moment while a ton of insults came to mind for him and his terrible son but she didn't want to make her dad look bad in front of the whole village. Again. “Stop and think for a moment everyone! Weren't we all taught to do good for everyone? Isn't that why we're all here? To do good for both Humans and Cerebians alike? My dad told me that the Queen dreamed that someday we wouldn't have to hide ourselves from the Humans and live among them peacefully! If you guys are just gonna doubt and point fingers at every person that comes to our village we're always gonna have a lot of enemies and not a lot of friends! You need to open your eyes and your hearts to more than the people that you know and stop being so...so stupid! No one said it was gonna be easy but we can start. So let's start with this geezer.”
    “For a kid, she's got a pretty good head on her shoulders.” A young lady wearing leather armour and carrying a bow and quiver said. She looked like an adventurer, and Su took a liking to her almost immediately.
    “Precocious.” Yuta's dad muttered before walking away with his wife following closely behind.
    “I don't really like being talked down to by a kid...” One of the farm hands mentioned uneasily to another. She tipped her hat when Su shot her a glare.
    “She is right though. I think it's a good thing. We can always use an extra farmhand to till the fields and whatnot. With just the few of us it can get busy during the Summer seasons, don't you think?”
    “We could use some help fishing too!” The fish man suggested waving a hand.
    “And a skilled adventurer would be a pro when it comes to hunting right? Maybe he could lend a hand in teaching the newbies.” The Boss Hunter offered. She didn't know him too well but he sounded a lot nicer than the kids in class made him out to be. The scars on his face made him look mean, like Bane, but she thought he wasn't as bad as he may have seemed.
    “I think that's a fantastic idea. We can have Samson earn his keep in the village by providing assistance wherever his help is needed on differing days. Maybe we can form a schedule of some sort? That way there won't be any conflict on who he assists and when,” Grant suggested.
    Her work here was done. She gave her companion a nod and the two slipped into the crowd and made her way through and to the outskirts of Hanamah. She didn't get the chance she had wanted to talk with the geezer but with how busy those two were it might've been better to wait until later. That, and both of her parents were gonna be really mad because she didn't listen to what they said.

    As she walked away the sound of the geezer calling out to her caught her attention. “Kid! Hey kid!” He cried out as he ran after her.
    She and Bane slowed down and stopped to wait for him at the rim of the forest. “It's the geezer,” She stated. “What're you doing out here?”
    He chuckled and huffed as he muttered the title she had given him. “The big cheese assigned me to look after you. I'm your babysitter for the day.”
    She looked at him with a confused expression. “The big cheese?”
    “Your daddy.”
    She glared at him and turned away as she walked. “Don't call him that, it's weird. And I don't need anybody to look after me. I can do it myself.”
    Samson chuckled again, this time gently. “What papa wouldn't be worried about his little angel?” She frowned and looked at him again and he grinned in response. “I'm sure if he could, he'd keep an eye on you himself.”
    He and mom are busy with stuff in the village. I've gotta work hard too so I can stand on my own two feet.”
    The geezer let out a sigh of relief. “That's quite a bold statement for such a young girl. Then again, after what you did back there in the village I'm not sure whether to be impressed again or not, considering your track record thus far.” He stretched and placed his hands in his coat pockets as he walked beside her. “You must have had a hard time growing up huh?”
    She snorted in response. “Ain't none of your business.”
    “Oh?” He raised an eyebrow. “What if I told you I want it to be my business?”
    The old geezer seemed just as fascinated by her as she was by him. Asking him questions and stuff would be easy for her, and she did want to hear about him, but even more so she wanted to see what an adventurer was capable of. If he was supposed to be her babysitter, she'd just have to make sure that he's up to the task, and she knew how to do just that.
    “You'll never make me talk!” She shouted before she whistled for Bane to follow her lead and immediately dashed off.
    The geezer stood and looked dumbfounded for a moment before he cried, “Hey wait!”
    She and Bane skillfully swerved through the forest, past trees and over the exposed roots while he lagged behind. He clumsily tripped over roots or slipped on pinecones as he struggled to keep up with the two. This gave her a good laugh, and she occasionally stopped to tease him when she did.
    “Slow down kid! I'm not as spry as I used to be! I'm really getting on in my years if you haven't noticed!” He heaved as he chased after her.
    “Admit that you're a geezer and I'll stop!” She said as she turned around and ran backwards.
    “No!” He was persistent. She liked that part of him.
    “Then keep on running geezer!”
    Su stormed through the forest, across the river and past a group of forest animals that fled the moment her footsteps hit the ground with Bane loping beside her and Samson following in her wake. As she ran she raised her arms and grabbed onto a low branch from one of the trees she loved to climb; in one motion she swung onto it and leapt from it to the next and rose higher into the tree. Her companion stopped by it and leapt up into the branch, quickly and skillfully following behind her.
    Samson looked up from below as Su ascended the tree with his mouth agape. “How did she-I've gotta catch her!” He quickly followed after her from the ground as she moved from branch to branch on separate trees. The tree she was crossing suddenly shook with a violent thud and she grabbed hold of the trunk before she fell from it. She looked down and saw Samson hugging the tree with his whole body, including his face before he collapsed to the ground.
    “I think we beat the geezer Bane.” She grinned at her dog and pulled a leaf from the tree. With a flick of her wrist the leaf's size increased substantially and immediately, and she grabbed hold of the stem and tip. She leapt from where she stood and gently drifted down to where her new babysitter sat in a daze.
    He gently rubbed his nose as he muttered, “This girl could give more trouble to her pursuers than they her.” He glanced up as she came down and in a whirlwind of leaves Bane appeared next to her upon her landing. She tossed the leaf away and it immediately returned to its regular size, while Samson watched the two in awe.
    “You give up yet geezer?” She asked wearing a victorious smile.
    He glanced around and she tilted her head with a puzzled expression. Did he plan on catching her when she let her guard down? He was way too slow and out of breath to pull off such a trick. He scrambled to his hands and knees and took hold of a stick that he aimed at her. “I've got you now!”
    She looked startled for a moment and immediately backed away, her eyes darted across the ground for one that she could counter him with. Her companion came over with one in his mouth and offered it to her. “Thanks Bane,” She excitedly said before she took the weapon and aimed at the geezer.
    He frowned, but still remained ready to go. “En garde!” She'd no idea what that meant, but she decided to take him up on the challenge anyway.
    She raised her weapon to be on par with his and rushed him, their swords clashed. She approached him with a flurry of quick and powerful swings and he blocked each and every one, regardless of the direction. So long as she kept him on the defensive there'd be no way he'd be able to beat her, but he certainly was good at blocking. The training he talked about must've been coming in handy, because he began to block her attacks before she could even start her swings. Be it over-hand, under-hand, a thrust or a hook he managed to see and stop everything she had without returning her blows. She prepared for an under-hand swing and he prepared himself to block it, and she purposely missed so she could leap towards him and bring her weapon down on him. He narrowly stopped the attack but his weapon shattered in two.
    “Uh oh!” She pointed her sword at him and he fell backwards with a nervous laugh. She kept it trained on his neck and he raised his hands.
    “Utter defeat! Time to admit you're a geezer, geezer!” She insisted with a grin. He looked at her dumbfounded for a few moments and she stepped closer, pressing the weapon into his stomach. “Say it!”
    “O-okay, okay I'm a geezer! You win! I'm beat.” She puffed her chest out proudly and began to cheer and dance around him as she sung about her victory. She had bested a real adventurer in a fight. Her next step was to show her dad how strong she was so he'd let her study to be a Warrior or Explorer. “Bane?” She stopped her victory dance and squinted as she eyed him curiously.
    “How'd you know his name?” Nobody had mentioned it to the geezer yet, unless her dad did before she left the village. Why was he just noticing him now though? Bane looked just as surprised, making things even weirder.
    “Huh? Oh! Y-your dad told me.” He answered. Bane was looking rather suspicious at his words, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it.
    “So why'd you have to go and act all surprised? 'S not like he was chewing on your ear or something...” She muttered.
    “Didn't notice him there at first.” He chuckled nervously. “Just kinda caught me off guard, you know?” Samson rose to his feet and dusted off his clothes. She watched him for a couple of moments and averted her gaze when he looked back at her. Her face felt rather hot when he stared back. “So why don't you tell me your name kiddo?”
    She didn't like it much when he called her kiddo. That was something only her dad could do, and she'd have preferred that he called her something else. “'Cause it's none of your business!” She blew a raspberry and ran off. As she did she stopped to turn back to him. “I'm going geezer! You just gonna stand there all day or what?”
    “I'm coming! Hold onto your horses!” He chased after her and Bane.

    Tried something a little different this time; through Samson's dream we took a peek into his past, so this actually did happen at one point, leaving aside the end of the dream. The fight actually spanned across a fair bit of Asgard, so leaving aside where TJ and co. fought there were a lot of other places where the Cerebians engaged the invaders. I'm still debating on when I'll get back to it, but I don't think it'll be a main focus in Sanc, so there won't likely be any chapters dedicated to it or anything. If it was to be something, it'd likely be a part of another oneshot from someone else's perspective. Also I used leapt one too many times. Looks weird.
    Back to the main story, I kept it tied closely to the first, but I tried fixing things up a little. I've been working to round out Kasumi a little so she'd seem a little more her age and likewise with Samson. Though he's a bit more mature now, he has a lot of weaknesses that are exploited by Beatrice. She's really sharp when she chooses to be, and her tongue just as much lol. When I reread it the first time I felt that she was being a bit overbearing for someone she met for the first time, but after recalling what had happened to her and Grant, it felt rather fitting for her to be so defensive on the matter. I might change the dialogue just a little bit when I redo it since the part where she gets angry is a little rough, but all in all I think it's alright.
    Both Samson and Beatrice got a little bit of backstory here too! As things progress I'm definitely gonna work on giving Bea and Grant a bit more to their characters, since...well you know what happens to them lol. This is their time to shine, after all. Though the focus will remain on Sam and Su, so I have a few scenes in mind to develop the two as a pair throughout USSR prior to the end. It'll be a couple events within the timeframe of his arrival and departure, and there'll be some characters introduced that weren't in the original to tie up all those loose ends. Amata was mentioned in Freq but the reason why she was there and her relationship with Yu was never expanded upon, and how Yu got his powers also. This time around I plan on covering both, and why Su and Amata have such a bad rapport.
    One thing I've thought a lot about is how the characters often explaining things. Those who have read it before, would know all the terms and whatnot so it might be kinda redundant, but those who are new to the series wouldn't. Then again, it could be a good refresher. I'd considered changing it, but I'd like to keep it. USS was originally meant to be a oneshot, but now that it's the first of a trilogy having to explain it here would be better for setting up the following stories.
    I've kept some of the old scenes too, and added a bit of dialogue to them and small events. Gotta admit, my biggest weakness was always working on the flow of things. I vaguely remember saying something like that in the past, I think when we first started trying to fix up Frequency. After we did came the day and night cycles, the points where the party would stop to rest and the changing of seasons. I'm working on smaller things now, like moving from one scene to the next or swapping places throughout the village/forest. I don't want things to feel too...janky. My biggest fear right now is the timeskip during Samson's working days, but if I stopped to focus too much on those it'd feel like the story is just filler. There might be a bit of that time frame, but only for the sake of developing him and Su. Likely no more than brief moments throughout.
    I think the biggest change is the PoVs for both characters; the two are like night and day. Su's PoV often consists of what she's doing, where she's going and how she gets there. There's a lot going on in them, and typically more dialogue throughout. Samson's on the other hand is more pensive, less time passes during his but his thoughts explore his story a bit more thoroughly and give shape to his search for Kasumi. The two compliment each other very well; both as characters and in the thematic sense. When I think of the two and how they came together, the phrase "Love is a panacea" comes to mind, and though at times I'm hard-pressed to believe it myself, sometimes I really feel that it could be true, and in this case it seems very fitting. As things go along these two are really growing on me. Knowing how it ends is a little heart-wrenching though, but despite the fact I could change it, I want to keep it as is, since it is for the best after all.
    God if I could I'd ship it to kingdom come, but for various reasons I can't.
    Anyway, enough tooting my horn. I'll try and make my updates a bit more regular. Maybe Mondays and Fridays or something? With all that's going on it can be a tad iffy but I'll stick to it as best I can. With that said, until next time.
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    TJ

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

    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Fri Aug 29, 2014 1:01 pm

    Pages 52-56:
    Samson
    If Samson were to describe the following weeks in Hanamah since his arrival, it would be but one word: uneventful. He often found himself very busy, performing various tasks around the village on differing days. Monday he would fish with the fishermen, Tuesday was hunting with the huntsman, Wednesday and Thursday were odd jobs around the farm, and Friday often included him making his way around the village to find where he could be of assistance. The weekends were typically a rest period for him, but the occasional villager would come to him with a small request that he would fulfill without complaint. It proved to be difficult at times, since there was always more that needed to be done; he did not mind it much though, as any man would feel pleased to know that he could be of use to his fellow man, but due to it his relationship with the young girl suffered. Though he had little proof of the possibility of her being the God's Governor, the fact that the wolf familiar she had was without a doubt Bane, and the ring she wore once belonged to Julius also. Her affinity for earth magic also made him wonder if she could have been Kasumi, but without any further proof he found himself hard-pressed to declare it to be her. To his dismay, he knew little of the God's Governors ability to summon familiars, including the rules behind having them. If she was just an ordinary girl, how had she gotten her hands on Bane and Julius' ring? If he could speak to the wolf his life would be so much simpler, but the mystery of how Julius performed such a feat escaped his knowledge.
    In spite of his complaints, the sheer effort he had put in across the village began to do well for him, and through it he built a good rapport with the villagers of Hanamah. At times, mainly after school he would catch glimpses of the child hanging about with her companion while he worked. He spotted the occasional glance at him as he did, and wondered if she had taken a shine to him since they had become closer since the day of his arrival. Technical arrival.
    Today was no exception to the fact; he and the fisherman Cruz sat by the river both patiently waiting for a bite and further downstream he could see the young girl barefoot and chasing her companion through the river squirting water at him with her hands. Samson found himself conflicted on whether it could be considered a good time for the wolf, but if he had learned anything about him, it was that he loved his master dearly, regardless of whether he disliked being soaked or not. Perhaps she was no exception.
    “I've been seeing her around a lot more lately. Before you arrived that kid wouldn't go in a hundred foot radius of another person.” Cruz chuckled as he shifted his straw hat slightly.. The man was a retired Guardian. Before and after the war he and his family took refuge and assisted in the building of Hanamah, making him one of its founders. Since he had come he hung up his knuckles and picked up the rod, no longer as a hobby but as a lifestyle. He said it always had given him peace of mind, be it on their home world or here. Fish would be fish.
    Samson looked down at his crossed legs and up to the evening sun ushering in the night. Wearing a tank top and badger fur pelts was something freakishly unusual to him, but as Vanir once told him, 'When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Either that or run the risk of becoming a eunuch'. The choice is yours. He didn't know what Rome or a Roman was, but as an adage it sounded logical enough. One of the farmhands was kind enough to give him a hat to protect himself from the sun. Though reluctant at first to open up to him, their kindness was bountiful once they discovered he was not a threat to their lives. With a village that consists of a majority of refugees, it came as no surprise to him they would be wary of travellers, and more so invaders. He wondered if it could have been the reason that girl stood out among others, leaving aside her strong elemental affinity. Most seemed tight-lipped on the matter, but Samson felt that Cruz might share some of what he knew about her. “Does she not like the villagers around here? Everyone seems kind enough for her to settle in with.” He said.
    Cruz rubbed his chestnut stubble thoughtfully for a moment. “Can't say for sure whether she likes them or not. None of the kids say she does, but the teachers don't know either 'cause she won't talk. Then again, since she's got that wolf by her side all the time all of 'em are scared stiff.”
    Samson wrinkled his nose. They were scared? Of Bane? It would be a miracle to find a more harmless wolf in all of Jienda. Though Bane was far from harmless, he would not bare his fangs at a Human, let alone a Cerebian. He only attacked those that posed a threat to Julius' life or his companions. “Her wolf seems rather harmless, don't you think? I mean, I can't blame the children for being afraid of him since he is a wolf, but despite being one he seems to act more like...a dog. A rather large dog.” Samson occasionally made such remarks around the wolf and when he did Bane would pay him back in kind by playing with him. Roughly.
    “'S not just the wolf they're scared of. Girly's got magic like nothing they've seen of someone so young. Sent a boy to the nurse on their first day of magic practice. Had him in a cast for quite a few weeks. Fights with the boys often too.”
    Samson wanted to sigh but withheld it. The more he heard the more he felt that she could potentially be Kasumi. An Earth Mage with powerful magic, a familiar, and a bark that matches her bite. The last part had little to do with her being a God's Governor, but it was certainly reminiscent of Rosetta. He stole a glimpse at the two to see Bane shaking his body and flinging water all about while she blocked her face. He wondered if Julius would have went through the same things she had if he had went to classes and learned with the other Mages. When it came to practice, he often had one on one sessions with their father, someone who had surpassed him, and could handle his power with ease. She had no one who could stand on equal footing with her, and was ostracized for it. He wanted to believe that though the boy was hurt by her, it was not her intention at the time; a girl of her age would likely have little control over the strength of her spells. “Kids will be kids, I believe. She seems like a bit of a tomboy in my opinion, so I'd expect no less for her than to join in their bouts.” The Xenym boys used to go at it like that also, except they had Virgil to pick on, and get picked off by.
    “Seems to be the case.” Cruz smirked before he leaned back and cracked his neck with a pair of tilts. He rolled his shoulders, scarred and strengthened from various close range battles. He too, wore a tank top and was the one who suggested Samson do so too because they would be easier to dry if the two got splashed. The possibility was very high since they would be handling live fish. “These kids are all riled up and ready to get out there and fight Agasura like it's a game.” His eyes shuttered. “Better that they think it is, for now. Once they get older and see it for what it is they'll just become jaded like the rest of us. I'd hate to make soldiers out of 'em, but if they're not chances are they won't live to be adults, or have kids of their own.”
    He studied the water solemnly. When had a Cerebian's life been narrowed down to the two options fight or die? It pained him even more so to know that they could and likely would die fighting. Many had before them, and many would after them. How many wars would they be dragged into before they could bring peace to their world and this one? The people of Hanamah seemed happy, but he could tell how strained the atmosphere was. Many of them had lost their families, their homes and their old lives. They had to throw it all away and start anew, and he knew he was one of them, along with Kasumi. The largest difference between them was that he had a choice. Learning to fight was quickly becoming a necessity over an option, and the time they spent as children seemed to grow shorter by the generation. That brief bout he had with her on the day they got to know each other may have been a sign of that, but in spite of it, he felt that there still was so much innocence to her actions. The time that she had as a child would be short, and he coveted the idea of making it the best it could be. “Is this what the wars have done to us? On our shoulders we carry both the burdens of Humanity and the Cerebians, don't we? I can't sit idly by and let things like this remain unchanged!”
    The fisherman took off his hat and beamed at Samson with a glint in his eye. “You're a spirited one Samson. I could tell you had a fire in you the moment I saw you up there with Grant. This village needs a man like you now more than ever. Nobody would listen to an old boy like me after all these years, but a man fresh off the fields like you might be able to light the fire in their bellies. I'm just an old fisherman but if you're gonna make a change around here I've got your back.”
    The adventurer did not consider himself an optimist; far from it really, but he would not write off his kind just because of their actions towards the child, or him on his arrival in Hanamah and the other Havens. They were reluctant with reason, and due to it were not so accepting of visitors, among other things, but perhaps what they needed was a new perspective. If anyone would know the God's Governors it would be the elder brother of one, and as best as he could he would help that young girl acclimate to her environment steadily. First things first, he would strengthen the ties between him and the village, and through it assist them in overcoming their fears from their experiences of the past and pave the way for a brighter future. “Thanks. A comrade is always welcome to join me, on the battlefield or off of it.” Samson chuckled. He watched as she dried herself off with a towel and left her hair in a mess, then did the same for her canine companion. She may or may not have been Kasumi, but as he got to know everyone he could not leave her alone. Grant and Beatrice started to become almost like family to him, and though she was a part of it the two very rarely seemed to connect. If he could heal Hanamah's wounds, he would be one step closer to saving the Cerebians, and possibly one step closer to finding his niece.

    Days, weeks, and eventually a couple of months had passed since the adventurer's arrival in Hanamah. The Summer settled down and Autumn was right around the corner, and with it came the Harvest Season. Samson had been busier than he could have imagined but with a great sense of accomplishment accompanied it. His efforts around the town had seemed to brighten the place slightly. People started to recognize him as he came by, often calling out to him, thanking him or congratulating him on a job well done. The farmers said the harvest would be magnificent this year, the hunters had more frequently come back with bigger and better prey, and the overall liveliness of the village had improved. On holidays and when he was not swamped with work over the weekends he would often take the first step in approaching the young girl to talk with her a bit. She had always seemed extremely guarded around him, but over the weeks she would occasionally tell him about her school days and what trouble she and Bane would get into when they would venture off into the Forest.
    That day he had climbed a ladder into an apple tree and picked the fruit before placing it in a small wooden bucket. At times when he passed by the farmers would throw him an apple and thank him for his hard work. The events that occurred often made him slightly homesick, but it was a tragedy of the past he would do everything in his power to prevent. He picked an apple from the tree and eyed it with a keen curiosity. The thought of taking a bite into the sweet fruit nearly made his mouth water but the thought quickly passed as he pictured the thought of the head farmer scolding him for it. There would be fruits and vegetables aplenty once the harvest had concluded, so a little patience would not hurt him any. He continued his duty thoughtfully until one of the farmhands came running to the orchard crying out for him.
    “Samson! Samson come quickly!” She shouted as she ran to him and held her hat down. Though from his height he could only see a figure in overalls and sneakers approaching, the voice was easy to recognize now.
    “What has you so worked up Melody?” He asked before he placed the bucket down. “Did the head farmer scold you again?”
    She stood beneath the tree and looked up to him, her face flushed and her eyes wide. “It's...there are intruders! We think they might be Humans but we're not sure what to do! We need you Samson!”
    It took him a moment to process what she had said. He blinked, then placed the bucket under one arm and jumped down from the tree branch. He hit the ground hard, and felt the vibration throughout his entire body; the feeling shook him up and nearly threw him off balance but he stood tall and gave her a nod. “Where are they? Let met get my weapon and I'll go check it out.” Things were finally looking up and this could have easily offset the balance, but if he could keep the peace it may have been a push that Hanamah needed to offset the disdain for Humanity. From the orchard and past the farm, back to the outskirts of the village and into Grant's home Samson retrieved his weapon and followed Melody into the Forest to where a group of Cerebians were gathered, most armed and surrounding a small group of people.
    “Be careful Samson. They've all got weapons.” Melody told him.
    “It'll be fine. I don't think they've come to fight us. They're probably just adventurers.” So he said, but he had his doubts also. Somehow a group of Humans had found a way to bypass the barrier, and Samson knew well that it should have been nearly impossible. There was something unique about them, and that paved the way for a fear that shook him to his very core. He cautiously approached the group with his hand on his sheath and tapped on the shoulder of the nearest person he could reach. “I'm a bit late but can you tell me what's going on?”
    Going by the lithe build and the short green ponytail and stature of the man Samson assumed that it was Warren, Cruz' husband. The adventurer had heard that the man was a Treasure Hunter, but it was the first time he saw him armed with his crossbow. He turned to Samson with an uneasy glance and pointed to the adventurers with his thumb. “Ah Samson. These guys breached the barrier and everyone flew into a panic. Saul and Grant are questioning them right now, but I don't think it'll be long before a fight breaks out. We've got numbers on them but I don't think we should underestimate these guys. I'd recommend letting those two handle this. If push comes to shove guys like you and I would regret being in proximity of them.”
    Samson knit his eyebrows. “I won't let there be a fight. We can resolve this peacefully, I'm sure of it.” He waded through the crowd and as he did stole a glance at one adventurer that stood out among the others. A slender girl with long snow white hair and violet eyes. The adventurer could not believe his eyes. It was one of them. He'd thought them wiped out and there was one standing before him. He bypassed the crowd and joined the others that surrounded the group and got a better look at the group as a whole. At a glance, he deemed them to be a young boy from Belos, a young man from Elias, another young man from Elfa, that girl, and...a fairy. His eyes had to be deceiving him.
    “Samson, good timing. We seem to have quite the situation on our hands.” Grant told him uneasily.
    “Oh I could tell. Melody brought enough panic for the whole town.” He answered with a gentle chuckle before his eyes turned to the young girl. She looked back at him and blinked. The young girl was clad in a short white skirt and matching cropped long sleeve-sweater, both with a gold trim. She wore a purple belt and sports bra beneath the sweater, thigh-high stockings and boots that matched the rest of the outfit. A long stick with a ribbon tied to it rested within her hair behind her head. The outfit, and colours even more so were reminiscent of that of the Cerebians, and there was only one clan who held such ties. They had disappeared a couple of years ago, and had not been heard of since. Somehow seeing her was even more startling than the boy with the fairy familiar.
    “A good bash over the head will make 'em forget they'd ever been here.” Saul added. “Let's just get it done and take them to the barrier, no need for panic or anything of the sort.”
    “You serious?” The young man from Elfa asked. He sighed and ran his hand through his dreads. He crossed his arms and glared at the three; clad in a black ensemble, from his shirt to his sandals he was, his white dress shirt a refreshing change from the black armband and necklace. “Iris, are you sure we can find that kid here? Only thing we've found so far is jumpy old people.” Samson took offense to that, and he could feel the others felt the same way but they had larger concerns to focus on.
    The young girl fumbled her necklace nervously, a small blue star on a black band. “I am positive that he is here. You should refrain from being so rude to them though, Kazno. I believe that they have the best intentions, and their own reasons for being guarded against us.” She looked to them, and Samson most of all. Could she tell that he recognized her by the look he gave her? “I understand that you might see us as a threat but I promise that we have no such intentions! We have just come to meet someone and give him this.” She tightly held on to a silver briefcase, and at this moment Samson noticed it and the longbow and quiver on her back.
    It was as Warren had told him, but only three were armed. Iris with a bow, Kazno knuckles, the Belos boy nothing and the other a sword and shield. Despite them being young, he felt that they were not to be trifled with, and if Iris really was part of the clan than she was without a doubt the biggest threat of them all.
    “We're very cautious about who we allow into our village and what they bring. You've got a case with a mystery item inside, insistent that you need to give it to someone. Do you take us for a village full of morons?” Saul asked before he furrowed his brows.
    The knight sighed and raised his hands as a gesture of innocence. “It...” He shifted his gaze to Iris. “It may be for the best if we show them what is inside, and explain ourselves very concisely. It seems that one misstep and we will not be left off easily.” He suggested. He was a pretty boy who wore violet plate armour, crimson pauldrons and gauntlets, white boots and matching wristlets with a silver headpiece upon his golden hair.
    “I'm with Levi on that.” The youngest of them said as he hid behind Kazno. The least threatening of all of them seemed to be a boy from Belos, wearing their garb, and nothing too fancy at that. A multicoloured top with yellow shorts and blue sneakers. The most oustanding thing about him was his rather puffy red hair.
    “If any of them tries to hurt Muwen I'll blow them away!” The agitated fairy declared and immediately caused the village militia to raise their guard. Though no wings to fly, she levitated naturally and emitted a strange violet glow. Looking almost akin to a human, she was dressed in a pink dress, stockings and a pair of crimson shoes with a blue bandana around her neck and a white headdress.
    “Good one Zoe.” Kazno muttered.
    “This entire scenario seems to spell disaster. Let us make haste and explain ourselves before things get worse, shall we?” The knight offered.
    “We're all civilized people aren't we?” Samson chuckled uneasily as a majority of the Cerebians eyed him.
    Cruz emerged from the crowd and stood his rod up next to him. “Let's hear what these kids have to say. You were all vehement against having Samson among us at first and now you don't know where you'd be without him. These kids had found their way here somehow so they have to be something special. Let's hear 'em out than sort things out afterwards. Go ahead girly.”
    Iris looked apprehensive for a long period but upon hearing Cruz' words her tense expression eased up slightly. “My name is Iris Livier, and this is my party. Kazno, Muwen, Zoe, and Sir Levi. We have come from across the continent because we needed to deliver an important item to a boy who would require this weapon to fight the Agasura when he becomes able to wield it.” She raised the case with unease, but the nods of her companions gave her the courage to open it. The Cerebians all looked on in amazement at the mystery within, and what they saw were two beautiful guns in both white and purple. Samson among others was awe-struck. “You may be familiar with this line of weapons and if you are not think nothing of it, but you must understand that these Valkyrie guns are a very powerful tool that have to be entrusted to the right hands. This power may be necessary to fighting off the evil that will plague our world, should our efforts not be enough.” She closed the case and the Cerebians shared looks of unease and confusion. “I know you must be confused about much of this, especially the fact that we, a group of humans are here among your kind, but you need not be afraid. The reason we found this place is because I lead my party here. After all, I am a Livier, the only remaining member of the Derr Clan.”

    This time around I tried working with the other villagers a bit more. Here we have the introduction of Cruz the fisherman, likely a one-off character but one that might pop up every now and then throughout USSR, and perhaps later on when I come back around to complete the Hanamah arc. I've held myself to it and tried expanding on the side characters a bit, as you could see through both Kasumi and Samson's PoVs, so now rather than just voices that are likely part of a mob, they're actual people lol. I don't think they'll hold as much of a position like the supporting cast(Ex. Tetty or Tamori) but they'll still be around. As for Cruz himself, when I created him I did it with the thought of him being an easygoing guy who would likely be from the less populated regions of Asgard. In other words, a bumpkin! Nah that's just insulting. I'd given it some thought, and since most of the villagers of Hanamah are refugees from Xenym, I'd considered introducing a few people that had been there since before the invasion and their reason for doing so. Since not all Cerebians had been on Asgard when the war broke out, as most characters had mentioned prior, I figured it was a good chance to have one of them.
    Oddly enough I was having mixed feelings about the looks of the characters lately. I had spent a lot of time thinking about having characters of different body shapes and whatnot, but leaving aside the characters that were designed by the LT team, most of the characters I created or borrowed from players are adventurers. In that sense, most of them would either be muscular or at the very least lean. Realistically, if you spend most of your life running across a continent and hauling weapons and other consumables around, if you're not fit you wouldn't survive. At the very least, I'd like to continue on working with the idea of characters varying in height. I've also been working a bit on the age differences, showing how time has affected some characters and what they would look like as the years pass. Samson was the perfect example of that, and though it could be a bit more expanded upon with the others, soon! Very, very soon hopefully. Also Saul is like the human version of Bane for Kasumi (lol).
    Little bit of development for Samson here, and Kasumi is there too. As time goes on I'm working on expressing his theme a bit more thoroughly, and hopefully well. I feel that he's grown slightly, and I have some good ideas for what's to come.
    The big kicker for this update is the first appearance of Iris and her party. With this, the proof that the story came full circle came true. Maybe not the entire thing, but for the Hanamah survivors it has. In chapter nineteen he had mentioned that he met her, so this is gonna tell how it happened, and as things progress I'll likely build on his relationship with Amata also. It'd be of lesser importance, but there'll definitely be something. Gotta admit though, for this part there was a lot of backtracking and searching I needed to do to make sure I had all the details right. I glanced through some of the old chapters to see what clues were left, and I managed to piece everything together again. I'm confident about this. My biggest worry though, is that I don't know if LT has the actual story behind what happened to the Derr clan or if it hasn't reached that point yet. I assume it would be end game content, and I DO want to find out, but at the same time I feel that if I play it again something will be lost along the way. After all, things have changed between season 1 and 2, and I want to keep things as is. I always did consider the fact that the story would have to stray away from LT's eventually, and essentially this was that point. Everything after Iris left for the Bifrost was where i knew things would distort, so I'd figure things out one way or another. Thankfully, I'd planned for it. Anyway, hope you're excited 'cause now it's time to hear Iris' side of the story and how Iris' party got split up prior to their arrival in Atlantis.
    See ya on Monday.
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    TJ

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

    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Tue Sep 02, 2014 6:30 pm

    Pages 56-65:
    Samson knew it. The sound of the name of the clan sent a chill down his spine and reminded him of the stories of the war their ancestors partook in. The Valkyrie weapons, the God's Governors, the Agasura King, God Ah and his Left Hand, everything came rushing back to him. It reminded him why he despised studying, and also  relieved him that he was well versed in the Age of Heroes due to his young competitive nature. He found it difficult to accept such a powerful clan had fallen, but he found it even more difficult to have the last of them standing before him. Her presence meant that something was changing; rather, that everything was changing and that the Cerebians needed to act on this. Though she had come with a mission, perhaps he would be able to gather some information from her. She would know little of the God's Governors and such, but the ongoing battle with the Agasura was something the Derr Clan had been a very prominent factor in, and he would not doubt that Iris was no exception to this.
    “You're the last of the Derr Clan? What happened to the others?” Grant asked with a look of confusion.
    Iris' eyes shuttered before she smiled bitterly. “I cannot say for sure.” She closed the case. “The last I heard of them they had gone beyond the Bifrost to challenge the King of Agasura. They are still yet to return.”
    Samson's heart went out to her. Her whole clan had just gone off to fight a battle that not even the Cerebians could quite conclude, and they had left her behind. She, just like Kasumi carried the weight of her people's hopes on their shoulders and the two were but children. He placed a hand to his mouth and thought for a moment. The old tomes insisted that the Agasura King would be sealed away until a year before an event called the Thousand Year Darkness occurred. His memory of the details were a tad hazy, but he always had Julius to remind him and scold him whenever he had forgotten. He found it impossible that they were able to engage him, but the fact they were likely wiped out meant that they had to fight something powerful enough to defeat the strongest Humans in all of Jienda. “We should take her and her party back to the village and settle this matter. We can hear the rest of the details once there. That aside, we shouldn't leave everyone in suspense and fear of a non-existent threat. The Derr Clan has been allies to the Cerebians for far too long for us to have doubts on them now.”
    “That sounds fair,” Saul added. “We'd warned the teachers and students so they should all be in hiding by now. I'll send one of my boys back as a messenger to tell them that it's safe to come out. Ramsey!” At the sound of his call a young slender man with tousled blonde hair emerged from the crowd and saluted the Lead Huntsman. Emmett Ramsey, one of the younger members of the Hunters but the fastest. Saul often had him scout ahead and set traps while the rest of the team followed their mark. He wore his hunting gear, a tanned leather vest, leggings and running shoes; not the greatest of equipment, but it was certainly free.
    “At your service,” He answered.
    “You know what to do. Go.” Ramsey nodded once and immediately took off, past the crowd and towards the village. “So we're all in agreement? Let's go.”
    Grant and Samson nodded, and the surrounding crowd lead the way. He stole a glance at Iris and her crew and she spotted him in that moment of time, their eyes met but for a moment. She smiled innocently almost as if to thank him, and he quickly turned his gaze away. The kids these days were getting more and more bold.

    The classes for the day were dismissed, and most of the adults had gathered in the schoolhouse to settle the matter. Samson had only visited it a couple of times, but it certainly felt a lot bigger when it was inhabited by children. The desks were set aside to the back of the room and the adults had placed the chairs in the center, while Iris and her party remained at the front of the classroom. It felt strangely nostalgic of his own schooldays, and at the same time as if they had been gathered for a symposium. In the windows the children pushed and shoved to get a glimpse into the schoolhouse to see what the adults were gathered for, and despite the noise it did not diminish the sound of the adventurer's voices.
    “So your group came all the way from Midgard just to deliver this one item?” Saul asked.
    “Yes,” Iris answered holding the case tightly in her lap. “The moment we had retrieved it we came here as quickly as we possibly could. Time is very important, and very short you see.”
    “I've got a question.” Warren said as he raised his hand. Iris nodded and he continued, “Your friend, Kazno I think? Said you guys were looking for a kid. If you'd come to deliver a weapon well...are you sure you should entrust guns to him? I mean, he's just a kid.”
    “I'll field this one Iris,” Kazno offered. “These aren't your regular guns. They rely on the user's Special Power to fire, since they don't have actual bullets. No average person could just pick 'em up and fire 'em off either. Only Gunslingers know how, and only Gunslingers can use them. Doesn't seem like there's too many of them in your ranks though. No surprise you don't know much about them.”
    Samson blinked a she took in the words of Iris' crew. Kazno may have been a tad mouthy but he certainly was well versed on the matter. He found it a tad strange that the weapons had to be entrusted to one certain person though. If only Gunslingers could wield the weapon, what would stop an average Gunslinger from doing so? There were no boys in Hanamah who had been promoted to the class, and the only one who could utilize the weapon was Vance Kazuto. “May I?” He asked. Better to ask and receive an answer than question it himself and come to no conclusion.
    “Go ahead.” Iris answered with a smile.
    “Rather than entrusting the guns to a young boy, why not offer it to a tested and true Gunslinger? If such a weapon could change the tides of the battle against the Agasura, we may be able to put it to use now rather than later, and in the right hands I'm sure it'd be even more effective.” It was the logical decision, after all.
    Iris looked somewhat startled by his suggestion, but she chuckled shortly afterwards. “That would be the best course of action, would it not? Nevertheless, it cannot be done.” Samson knit his eyebrows. “It may be in our best interest to have the boy here to listen to my explanation. Though he may not understand now, I would like him to be aware of his importance. Would one of you be so kind as to bring him here?”
    “Who is it?” Melody asked while she waved her hand.
    “A boy by the name of Yuta, I believe.”
    All eyes darted towards Vance and he in turn was aghast. He immediately regained his composure and smirked. “It's only natural that my boy would be the one to be chosen to wield the legendary Valkyrie Magnums. I'd expect no less from him.” The man always had a penchant for rather high-handed comments, and Samson had gotten his fair share of remarks from him during their time as a party during hunts. He took consolation in the fact that Vance was prideful to say the least, and that his son would wield a weapon leagues mightier than his own would likely sting, if even just a little bit.
    Melody eventually returned with Yuta and the boy entered looking rather upset. Though often times when Samson did see him his expression would be similar. According to Grant's daughter he was a rotten apple, one of the worst of all the boys. There was not a moment where the two would get along, and the glares they gave each other spoke for themselves.
    Iris rose from her seat and walked over to meet Yuta and shake his hand. “It is a pleasure to meet you Yuta. You must be rather startled by this turn of events, but you have nothing to fear. Your time has not come yet, so you have ample amounts of time before you need be prepared.” She shook his hand with an even further confused expression and she offered him a smile. “My name is Iris Livier. I have come from a very far away place to give you a gift.” Muwen brought her the case and returned to his seat, and she opened it before him. “These are for you.”
    He looked awe-struck, glancing from the guns to her and back, finally shifting his gaze to his father before he received a nod of approval from him. “Awesome! Thanks!” Samson wanted to sigh but he refrained from doing so. If the world was in the hands of Vance and his son's, things would definitely look grim for Jienda. He wanted to trust Iris' judgement, but he could not bring himself to believe that this is what was intended.
    “I know you are excited, but there are some very important things that you need to know about them. Would you take a seat with the others? I am going to continue.” The two sat down, the case and guns were entrusted to Vance and Iris went on. “Going back to the prior question, essentially the Valkyrie weapons are able to be used by any who have advanced to the class required to wield them, should they prove able to wield the weapon.” Samson nodded. It made sense, since different weapons had different requirements. The strength of the user, the weight of the weapon and the ability of the person wielding it among other things varied by the weapon types. An unprepared Gunslinger could easily break his arms firing a gun beyond his own ability, and the Valkyrie Magnums were not something a veteran Gunslinger could likely wield easily. “Though that is not the problem. For those unaware, the Valkyrie weapons were all hand-crafted with enhanced abilities for both summoning, and slaying Agasura.”
    Muttering filled the crowd as people questioned why exactly someone would willingly summon an Agasura, or what the purpose for it could be. It seemed that they had mixed feelings on the idea of it, but there were some within the crowd who nodded sagely or listened intently. Samson had done neither, but he understood the reason behind it due to his own research. The Derr Clan had wielded them in the past during the Agasuric War, and fought alongside the Cerebians as they purged the creatures from their world. During that time some of the greatest heroes, both Human and Cerebian had changed their history forever. They paved the way for a new future, but it was not quite one where the two could live in harmony yet. In the current world, it had seemed as if the entire event was nothing more than a dream. To the common man, the Cerebians and the Derr Clan did not exist, but to certain civilizations the gods did. Undine and Dione being two among the few.
    “When active, the weapon can attract common Agasura towards the user, but the reason for the ability was to summon the Aberrants. The stronger Agasura of the past often used people as vessels, which not only allowed them to hide among humanity and the Cerebians, but also to take on a physical form and borrow strength from the vessel. Thankfully this is no longer the case, but in time it may just prove to be. I know of one, and should the time come we may need Yuta to eliminate them.”
    “If there was an Agasura hidden with a person, why had you not eliminated it upon discovering it?” Beatrice asked.
    “Because he was your-” Sir Levi began and was soon cut short.
    “Don't tell them that idiot! Do you want to be killed?” Kazno hissed under his breath. Levi glared at him from the corner of his eye and the Guardian furrowed his brows in response. Samson blinked at the infighting, likely not the only one who could not hear what they whispered.
    “She wasn't exactly one that we perceived to be a...threat.” Iris answered, her voice sounded confident but the uneasy look in her eyes gave way for the doubt that was hidden. “We saw more good in its presence than we did in its elimination.”
    Vance raised his hand and Iris gave an acknowledging nod for him to voice his opinion on the matter. The sneer on his face said he had nothing good to say. “In other words you plan to have my son eliminate the Agasura that you deemed not worth purging? It's no surprise that you came to us, and left this weapon along with your mission in my son's hands. You knew you would fail from the beginning hm?” Samson looked aghast, and both Kazno and Muwen looked like they were ready to fight him then and there.
    Before Kazno could rise Muwen did so first and his companion Zoe looked just as ready for a battle. “Who do you think you are, talking down to Iris like that?!” He roared. Despite his stature he sure could look more menacing when enraged. Perhaps it was the familiar that levitated behind him, with her hand outstretched as if she was going to blow away the whole crowd of Cerebians. Disaster struck sooner than Samson could have predicted.
    The whole of the village gathered within the school immediately rose from their seats and armed their weapons, and Iris companions immediately followed suit. Iris took a stance before her party and immediately gestured for them to calm down. “Muwen, Zoe please! There's no need for violence!”
    On the Hanamah side Grant stood before the crowd and blocked Iris' party with his arms. “Calm down everyone! Regardless of the situation we shouldn't be so quick to arms, especially against those we can consider our allies! Put your weapons and sit down like the civilized people I know you are!”
    Just as the two requested the situation was diffused and everyone returned to their seats. Iris bowed apologetically for her party. “I hope you can forgive us for our outburst. There really was no need for such words or actions.”
    All eyes darted to Vance and he scowled, but even he knew when he had to admit defeat. “My apologies. My words may have been rather...scathing.” He muttered under his breath. Samson never thought he would see the day, but he would savour the moment.
    “You have all right to be. I have placed quite the burden on your son's shoulders,” She chuckled. “Back to the topic at hand, Yuta was not chosen just because his father is a Gunslinger. He has a very unique power, in a sense. No Humans have been able to utilize mana other than the Derr Clan for hundreds of years, but he is one of the few that can. There were others, but following their demise another would take their place. For the current generation it is him, and now more than ever his presence is needed.” A Human that could use mana? How? Samson was at a loss also. There were hardly any Cerebians that could perform such a feat. The fact that there was a human among them was even more startling. If Kasumi was the first Cerebian with a human parent, how did Yuta find himself in Hanamah?
    “But how?” He blurted out almost instinctively.
    “He was chosen. I believe it was your god that had appointed the first, and every generation since then had one that would have this ability, even after Humanity had lost their right. My clan may have such an ability, but by no means are we able to slay certain Agasura. There may come a time where Yuta may need to take up those guns to slay that which we could not. For this reason, I can only give him these weapons and a blessing from my clan.”
    The whole crowd looked on silently, but their expressions had shown the shock and confusion that words could not bring justice to. None were sure how to take the information that was offered to them, or whether they could really believe it or not, but the Derr Clan was known as those that were blessed by the creator God Ah himself. Without a doubt he had his reasons for giving Humanity the power to fight the Agasura, but what Agasura was Yuta meant to slay? Was it the Agasura who had brought the Derr Clan to its knees? Or that which Samson and his kind had feared the return of all those years?
    “May I borrow Yuta for a moment?” Iris requested. Vance had sat there with his mouth agape for the time frame prior and immediately closed it upon her request. He gave his son a pat on the back and he stumbled out of his seat, before walking up towards her once more. “There is no need to be afraid Yuta. I will do you no harm. What I plan to do is cast a spell on you, one that will protect you if you ever fall in battle to a mortal blow. I must warn you though, the spell can be activated multiple times, but the more you rely on it the shorter your lifespan will become.” She paused for a moment. “This is a very large decision for you to make. You need not take it if you do not want it. If so do not hesitate to tell me.”
    The boy looked down at his shoes for a moment to consider her offer. Samson gazed on curiously, wondering how much thought Yuta gave the matter. The ability to evade death would be a blessing for any adventurer, and he was hard pressed to see the downside to the matter. He intertwined his fingers and rested his face against them. How far did this ability go? If he were to suffer a wound that was not mortal, would he recover that also? Or would he find himself at a loss just as Reina had? Even more so, staring death in the face time and again could be a nightmare in and of itself. The prospect was fearsome.
    Yuta raised his head and nodded. “I want it! That blessing you have for me, I'll take it and those weapons and I'll kill the Agasura,” He said. The boy showed a lot of conviction.
    Iris smiled. “You are brave. I will begin the rite now. Everyone, I would recommend that you stand back.” Her party rose from their seats and pulled them away to give Yuta and her the space necessary. She took a step back with one leg and held out an open palm with the other. “Release, Propheta Imperii!” Before her a levitating gilded tome appeared as a magic circle expanded beneath the two, while everyone looked on in awe. Was this really the power of the Derr Clan? Could they all do that? Samson had so many questions but knew now was not the time to ask them. With a wave of her hand Iris turned the pages and stopped on one with a nod. “Here we are. It is just as the book says. Let us begin.” She began reading the words from the book and the circle beneath them began to emit a powerful glow. Yuta raised his right hand and upon the back of it a small magic circle took form. When Iris finished chanting, a pillar of light emerged where he stood and engulfed him, steadily dissipating shortly after along with the circle. The book closed and disappeared in a series of spheres of light, leaving just the two. “The spell is complete. You are now blessed with my clan's protection, a spell by the name of the 'Derr Clan's Equivalence'. With this, I now deem you Yuta Kazuto, the Redeemer. Take this title with pride, and strive to protect this world from the Agasuric threat.”
    Samson could not believe his eyes, and neither could the rest of the village it seemed. Was there none who had even the slightest idea of how Iris Livier had performed such a feat? Julius had not mentioned anything of the sort, and neither had his studies. The children in the window looked even more amazed then their parents, and in the far back, standing beside the last window he could the little girl with her face pressed against the glass and her eyes shimmering. He chuckled quietly before she caught a glimpse of him and pouted.
    “We do not have much time left. Is there anything you would like to know about your duty Yuta?”
    He gazed at her for a few moments, likely still recovering from the event and nodded once. “How...how am I gonna know when I'm supposed to use the magnums?” He asked.
    “That...sadly I do not know when the time will come. Only you can decide that. But when it does, I know that you will be ready. Do not be afraid.”
    He clenched his fists. “I won't.” He made his way back to his seat to join his mother and father.
    Samson raised his hand. He could not stay quiet while all of this happened. There were too many questions and to few answers, but before he missed his chance he needed to ask the most pressing of them. Iris knew that Yuta had to wield the guns, she also knew that there would come a time where he would need to fight a certain Agasura, and that he was to receive the blessing from her clan. Was it possible that she had the abilities of a clairvoyant? It should have been impossible. Iris nodded and he began, “I need to know Ms. Livier. How exactly did you know all of this would come to pass?”
    “How?” She chuckled quietly. “It was all written in my tome.” Samson blinked. That was definitely no tome. It was a grimoire and the fact she held such a powerful item was appalling to say the least. It had to be a Cerebian artifact. But a grimoire with the power of clairvoyance just seemed unheard of. “So it tells you the future, right? If you know it then you know what will come next?”
    She knit her eyebrows. “Yes, and no,” She answered. Samson furrowed his brow at the comment. “It tells me the future, but only my own. I know not of what will come in the far future, only the near and what I am to do during it. So long as I follow it, I feel like we will get closer to the truth.” A book that told only her future? If it was an artifact, did it tell the future of the one who wielded it? Or was it designed specifically for her? How did she get her hands on such a treasure? “My apologies, but we will not have the time for further questions. We must return to Midgard shortly, but before we depart I must ask you all a question.” She reached into her rucksack and drew a small photograph, then handed it to Saul first, and he passed it around so the others could see it.
    “Nice photo.” He said before handing it off. “Does your question have something to do with this?”
    She nodded. “Some of our companions have gone missing.” Her expression was grim. “By the hand of one of them.” The muttering began and Samson patiently waited his turn to get a look at the photo. “Our ally Choen Palm had turned against us before we set out for Atlantis along with the Dark Moon Princess.” At the sound of the Dark Moon everyone's expressions turned dark and a sudden tension washed over the whole classroom. Samson could see the unease rising in Iris' expression as she stole a glance at the room. Her voice became quieter and her eyes almost seemed to lose focus as she went on, hints of caution trailed every word as she picked them carefully. “She attacked us and with Dark Moon Princess' help she made an escape with TJ in tow. She had a crystal very similar to my own, and she used it against us. Should you see them, especially TJ please inform me as soon as possible via mail. I cannot say for sure that the mail will reach me beyond Midgard but I pray that it will find a way.”
    The photo finally reached Samson and he scanned it with incredible speed. In the first few seconds he was immediately able to recognize someone amidst the group. It had all of Iris' current companions, and three other people. The Dark moon Princess, likely the one that was most obvious due to her regal outfit; a crimson blouse and a golden skirt with white knee socks and shoes to match her blouse. Her dark blue hair was befitting of her. Perhaps she resembled her father in that regard? Or her late mother. The other had to be Choen Palm; her white hair and scarlet eyes almost made him think she was one of the members of the Derr Clan, but he quickly set aside the thought. The one that stood out the most was the boy next to Iris. He wore a white rag as a top and walked around in his bare feet. On his back was a strunal mandolin. The dark skin, above shoulder-length spiky black hair and the shuttered brown eyes were unmistakeable. It was the same boy he had seen in the wanted posters on Asgard. How did he find his way to Jienda? Even more so what was he doing in Iris' party? The fact that he survived raised questions about the whereabouts of the reigning queen, as to also whether she had survived the event or not. The two were very rarely found apart.
    “That boy in the rags is TJ right?” Samson asked. “I'd seen pictures of him back on our home world.
    “You know, Bea and I did also.” Grant added.
    Iris looked nonplussed. She tilted her head and Kazno snickered. “Boy?” She asked. Samson was confused this time around.
    “That's what I said.” He responded.
    “TJ isn't a boy. He's a she.”
    Samson furrowed his brows. One of the two had to be wrong. All of the people who had seen TJ before claimed he was a boy, and those that had not had taken it for truth. It would not be strange for a young girl to seek out another for friendship, in fact, it was more likely. Though upon recalling the face he was hard-pressed to deny the fact that the boy was rather androgynous. It would be easy to mistake him for one or the other, but perhaps Iris discovered something that filled in the missing link as to exactly what he was. Samson paused. Why had he concerned himself with such a trivial matter? Leaving aside the matter of their gender, that child was the one that both the reigning queen and all those who had fought alongside them claimed was the Exalted One. To survive not only the war, but to come to Jienda and meet with the last member of the Derr Clan who had a clairvoyant grimoire could not be chance. Fate had slated for all this to have happened, which made Samson feel insistent that perhaps that child really was exactly who they said he was. If Choen Palm had sided with the Dark Moon, and he was the one that would be the one to save their kind did that mean they were destined to fail already? Samson's eyes opened wide and he intertwined his fingers once more. Iris had placed her faith in Yuta's hands; the legends said that the Exalted One would slay the Agasura King, so what purpose did Yuta have? Was his existence and that of those that preceded him for this very purpose? Had God Ah expected the Cerebians to fail in their duty?
    “Okay, so let's say that TJ is a she, to avoid unnecessary argument. What reason would Choen Palm have for turning against you and your allies? What did she want TJ for?”
    Kazno scowled, and Samson was not sure if it was at his question or the thought of their betrayal. “That witch doesn't even deserve to be named. To us, she'll always be known as the Heartbreaker. It's real fitting for someone who would turn their back against their allies so easily.”
    “Perhaps what she sought out is power. Though she did not know it, TJ was much stronger than she had believed herself to be. It may be a weighty assumption, but I believe this is what she had sought out, and wished to keep it for herself. As the Dark Moon Princess' bodyguard, she likely had to keep her close by. The two had powers we did not know of, and they used it against us. Though we did not wish to part with our ally, we had to make a hasty retreat because it was a battle that we just could not win.” Sir Levi closed his eyes. “It was also a battle that we did not wish to fight, even if victory was possible.”
    Did Iris know that it would happen? Did she choose not to stop it, or were there things that the grimoire did not inform her of? Regardless, it was imperative that the Cerebians defeat the Dark Moon and reclaim TJ, or their world really would be in danger. If Yuta was to fail in his quest, even with the power of the Derr Clan and the Valkyrie Magnums they would be lost. What really bothered Samson was that Iris said they had a crystal similar to her own. Was it the Dark Moon Princess or Choen Palm? What was this crystal that she referred to? Was it another artifact within her arsenal? For there to be one that matched it, there must have been a set. “What exactly is this crystal? May we see it?”
    Iris shook her head. “To be honest, I can't say exactly what it is. None of us knew what it did, or how to utilize it except for Choen Palm. We did not know that she held one until that moment, and that she knew how to activate it, but upon doing so she had unleashed magic that we had never seen the likes of.” Samson listened intently, doubts danced around his head as he heard her words. It was unlike her to speak for her party as a whole, so why did she do so now? She seemed rather reserved when it came to speaking on their behalf, so it was unusual for her to do it so suddenly. “As for mine, I no longer hold it. I had entrusted it to her long before we had fought.”
    “That is just terrible. To have to fight your own companions...” Beatrice said before shaking her head.
    “Takes some real guts. I respect that you chose to let them go.” Saul added.
    The crystals without a doubt had to be some kind of Cerebian artifact. It was likely that the grimoire had guided Iris to hers, so had Choen Palm found one by chance? Or had both discovered the two at once and shared them? The Dark Moon had obtained the Mino Gemstone, so it was not impossible that they had managed to get their hands on other artifacts also. Samson wondered who Iris had entrusted hers to, and he wanted to ask but the more he did the more he seemed to be pressing them into a corner; too much questioning and it could father distrust between both parties once more. He decided he would leave the matter alone for the time being and pursue another truth. If he could rescue TJ from the Dark Moon's thumb, he could perhaps keep his promise to Hazel. Though it would not bring her back, perhaps it would offer her some peace of mind on the other side.
    “An adventurer can choose their allies but can very rarely choose their battles.” Iris smiled bitterly with the comment. “It is, our fate after all. I believe that we will be reunited though.” She rose to the crowd and bowed once. “I thank you all for your kindness and hospitality. If you should see any adventurers pass through here, I pray that you pass on this request to them and that they spread it further amongst the Cerebians. Alas, we must make haste for Midgard. Our adventure must go on. Kazno, Sir Levi, Muwen and Zoe, let us go.”
    The other adventurers rose to their feet and gathered around her. Sir Levi was the first to turn to the crowd and bow as Iris had. “We are in your debt, citizens of Hanamah. May our paths cross once more, hopefully in a better time,” He said.
    Kazno saluted them and drew a warp crystal from his rucksack. “You remember the coordinates right Muwen? Don't screw 'em up or we might wind up in the middle of nowhere.” He turned his head to the Cerebians. “Take care of yourselves yeah? You've got a nice little place here. Keep it safe.” He commented with a grin.
    “I didn't forget. Goodbye.” Muwen said sullenly glancing at them. Zoe crossed her arms and turned away.
    The crowd rose and said their goodbyes, Samson solemnly watched as various thoughts ran through his mind. If they knew what he had speculated, they would be crushed.
    Iris and her companions reached out to the levitating crystal amidst them and as they did, it emitted a powerful glow and in a flash of light they had all disappeared. With that, Iris and her party had left Hanamah and a series of new questions were left in their wake, but Samson finally had a lead on the Exalted One, and a new path that he could follow. With it brought a choice, and a battle that he could not say for sure was his to fight, or was one that he could avoid.

    Kasumi
    Kasumi had her face pressed against the window throughout the entire thing but could barely hear or see what was going on in the school. She felt really jealous that the adults and the geezer got to talk with the adventurers and see all sorts of cool magic from that funny dressed girl but she was especially jealous of Yuta. He got to meet her and she even gave him something inside of a silver box. When he exited his crew immediately ran past her to meet him at the entrance and probably find out what was inside of the box the adventurer girl gave him. She wanted to know too, but she knew the boys wouldn't let her. She rounded the corner of the school and watched as they ran off to the forest, probably because if the adults saw them they'd get in trouble. It had to be something super cool and super secret for them to be so hush-hush about it. She quickly ran after them with Bane hot on her heels.
    “It's not a bad idea.” Su insisted as the two entered the forest and she immediately scrambled into the nearest tree. “As long as they don't see me they won't know I was here.” Bane quickly followed after her as she followed them via the trees, the two looking down as they got further away from the village.
    It wasn't long before they had finally reached a small clearing within the forest and they all huddled around the silver box in Yuta's hands. Su wanted to get a closer look but from where she stood in the trees and where all the boys were was much too far for her go get a good look. She laid on her stomach and crawled to the edge of a branch where she could hide behind a bundle of leaves and look down on them.
    “So? What'd she give ya? Hurry up and show us,” Martin said; his mom always called him Marty and he hated it, so the others did too. Among Yuta's friends he was the tallest, but Su didn't think he was that tall. He had brown hair in a style her mom said was a crew cut, something boys liked. He wore a tank top and pelt shorts most of the time because tough guys like Cruz did it. That was what he said.
    “Shove over. I can't see.” Blake muttered before he pushed Marty aside. He had kinda long black hair that he tied in a ponytail. He said he was the toughest in the group but he was easy for her to beat. His parents had moved from Mezzalone so he had traditional clothes and clothes that were made in Hanamah. He usually wore his traditional clothes during the festivals. Su's mom made her get all dressed up too during them. Today he wore a fox pelt shirt and pants, and sandals.
    The fat one was Felix. Of all of them, he hit the hardest, so Su tried to avoid him as best as she could. “Did you see that magic she was using? That was awesome! What did it feel like when she used it on you Yu?” His dad was the head farmer so he wore a lot of wool and stuff. His red t-shirt and pants were probably made of it too. He always had a buzz cut so Su liked to think it was because the sheep would try to eat his hair.
    Yuta was the worst of the bunch. He was smug and rude and would always pick on her during classes and he lead the group. He had spiky icy blue hair and always wore bear because his dad was a show-offy hunter. “It was awesome. Did you see that book she made appear out of nowhere? She told me that I was chosen and that I'd kill an Agasura that her clan and her couldn't. On top of that she said that if I get killed in a battle it'll revive me, so I can't die.” He explained.
    “Cool!” Marty cried out.
    “I want that power too...” Felix said sullenly.
    “What about the box? What's in the box?” Blake asked impatiently.
    Yuta raised his head proudly and basked in their words.
    “Awesome.” Douglas said. It was all he ever said. When the teachers asked him questions he'd say that and eventually they stopped asking him things because he didn't say anything else. Regardless of the season he would always wear a sweater with the hood over his head. Except for Winter. He'd wear one under his coat, but he would wear the coat hood instead of the sweater's. Su could've sworn she had seen his face before, but it'd been so long she couldn't remember what he looked like. He always kept his head down so it was even harder. Though he always wore a sweater, he changed his bottom to meet the season. Long pants in Fall and Winter, shorts in Summer and Spring. She always found him kinda weird.
    “Let's see what's in that box now!” Felix insisted.
    “Alright alright I'm opening it.” Yuta said as he flicked the knobby things up to open the case and slowly and dramatically opened the box.
    “No way...” Felix whispered.
    “She gave you that? Seriously?!” Marty shouted.
    “I don't believe it. You lucky dog.” Blake said.
    “Awesome.” Doug added, obviously.
    Su wanted to see but couldn't get a good look at it so she tried to get closer and felt the branch shifting underneath her. When she leaned over it again she saw as Yuta removed the contents of the case and her mouth slowly opened. The strange adventurers had given Yuta his very own guns! Maybe if her dad had been a Gunslinger too she would get a pair. She felt even more jealous now. Did this mean that Yuta would get to become an adventurer before she did?
    “I know right? My Dad said they were called Valkyrie Magnums and they're one of the last few in the entire world!” He pointed them at his friends and was sure to give them a good look at them, the show off. He pointed them towards where she was hidden. “Bang!”
    She wasn't sure why she reacted to his stupidity, but she did. She reacted, and tried to hide but wound up losing her grip and falling. She hit one of the other branches as she went down and hit a few more before hitting the ground. Bane quickly leapt down after her and landed in front of her before he started growling at the boys. He really did worry too much, and she didn't need him to. She was fine.
    “Shut up, Bane. I'm fine. I shouldn't have listened to that idiot Yuta.” Su muttered as she got to her knees. She got on her feet and dusted herself off, but the marks from the places she fell on would show in time.
    “You again?” Blake hissed. She didn't like the face he was making. If he had any more to say she'd give him a reason for making such a screwed up expression.
    “Heh. Scared ya, didn't I? Scaredy cat,” Yuta sneered. She was ready to jump on him then and there but Bane insisted that she didn't listen to him so she held herself back.
    “I'm not scared of you,” She answered before she glared. Bane didn't want them to fight again, but if push came to shove, and it always did, she'd be the one to throw the first punch.
    “Seemed pretty scared to me,” Martin commented with a grin.
    “Shut up Marty!”
    “Don't call me Marty!”
    “The hell're you doing here Suuba? It's boys only. Scram.” Felix told her.
    She clicked her tongue at him. “I can go wherever I want. You can't tell me what to do.”
    “You wanna bet?”
    “Just get out of here Suuba. I don't wanna get in trouble because you got hurt like last time.”
    “You got what you deserved then, 'cause you started it, jerk!” She started it, but there was no way she was gonna let him hear her say that.
    “You were the one who punched Marty in the face!”
    “I said don't call me Marty!” Marty shouted.
    “If he wasn't such a jerkwad I wouldn't have to punch him.”
    “If she wants a fight let's just give her what she wants and go. Maybe then she won't come around us again.” Blake offered, taking two steps forward. She raised her fists in anticipation.
    “I'll be fine Bane. I have to teach them a lesson that they won't forget.”
    “You're gonna teach us a lesson?” Yuta snorted. He tossed his guns back towards the box. “Let's get her!”
    That was all she needed to hear. The moment the words left his lips she dashed towards Marty first and planted her fist into his nose. He stumbled back and Felix immediately came by swinging. She dropped to her knees and dove under his arm only to bump into Yuta and find his fist in her stomach as she rose to her feet. She dug her nails into his face with her left hand and started punching him in the stomach with her right. Immediately after Blake pulled her away by the end of her hair and she twisted to kick him in the shin and tackle him to the ground. The moment she started punching him across the face Doug kicked her off of him and Felix grabbed her by the shirt right after she touched the ground. He tossed her into a tree and she hit it hard, sliding down as her head bobbed, leaving her dazed. This time Yuta grabbed her and pulled her towards him with his fist ready, but received a headbutt from her instead. She tripped him and tackled Marty to the ground as he came around again.
    “Too easy.” Felix laughed as he pulled her off of him by her hair once more and tossed her towards Doug.
    He elbowed her in the face and brought her to a halt then shoved her before saying his catchphrase, “Awesome.” She wasn't sure if it was because it was Doug, or because of his choice of words but it annoyed her a little bit more than usual.
    She came back to Yuta and he returned her headbutt with one of his own, then spun her around before pushing her to Blake. The boy grabbed her by the neck and placed a foot behind her own, then pushed her down. She hit the ground hard and couldn't get enough strength to push herself up again as she watched Marty stand over her and crack his knuckles.
    “I said don't call me Marty.” He said with a sly grin.
    The last thing she could recall was his fist coming down on her.

    The next thing Su knew she was back home in her bed with an ice pack laid over her eye and her body bandaged, again. She could've taken them. She had no doubts in her mind that she could've. If there wasn't five of them they'd be super easy. She would definitely beat them up. Next time. She arose from her bed and glanced at the window. The sun hadn't set yet, and there probably wasn't much time before it finished; if her mom came back to check on her and she saw that she was awake, she'd get in trouble for sure. She'd spend the rest of the day getting yelled at and then have to go right to bed afterwards. She wanted to find out more about those adventurers and what they had come for, and she definitely wasn't gonna find out from Yuta and his crew of jerkwads. Her Dad wouldn't likely talk about it either, but the geezer was kinda nice. If anyone would tell her stuff, it'd be him. She just had to find him.
    Su climbed out of bed and made her way to the door to her room. She slowly opened the door and peeked into the corridor, carefully checking both sides before stepping out quietly. She tiptoed through the hallway and glanced at the entrance in case anyone was there, but found it empty. She was in the clear. Su quickly and quietly tiptoed down the hallway and slipped on her shoes before exiting the house.
    The village was not quite empty, but there were a few people walking about doing things before the day was over. She didn't pay them any mind, and if they were to look her way it'd probably just be the usual. They always gave her funny looks for fighting with the boys so today would be no different. She walked over to her canine companion who had lay on the ground with his eyes closed and she knelt next to him.
    “Bane, where's the geezer?” She asked. He didn't respond, and she knew he heard her. “Stop ignoring me.” She placed her thumbs to his eyelids and raised them. He rose to his feet, stretched and yawned, then sat down in front of her before blinking slowly. “I know you said not to fight with them but they deserved it.” She pouted. “You're mad at me? Well I'm mad at you too.” She crossed her arms and turned her head away. “Oh yeah? Well then I'm not talking to you.” The two had stayed like that for only fifteen seconds or so and she started to feel rather bored. She opened one of her eyes and glanced at him from the corner of it, and saw him watching her patiently. He always had a smug look when he knew he was right. “Okay fine. I'm sorry, okay? Happy now?”
    He barked and wagged his tail, and she smiled slightly.
    “No I'm not gonna promise not to do it again!” He groaned indignantly, but she would not budge on the matter. He tried every time but had not succeeded even once. Next time would be the same. He rose to his feet once more and lead the way to Samson.

    “Thanks for your help Sam. The head farmer would have my head if I didn't finish collecting these on time.” Melody chimed with a smile.
    “I'm here to help after all,” He chuckled. He had the larger of two bushels in his hands and the two made their way towards the farmhouse.
    Su and Bane were stationed behind it, watching as the two approached from what she deemed a safe distance. She couldn't make out what they said but it didn't matter much. The geezer was probably gonna be finishing for the day since it was almost dinnertime, so when he and Melody split up she could ambush him. She knew Melody, a little too well at that. The farmhand was really, really friendly and whenever she saw Su and Bane she would come running. Grant said she had a real penchant for animals and even more so for animal lovers. The fact that the young girl had tamed a wolf was a godsend for her, so she tried really hard to befriend the two no matter how much Su ran from her. She didn't know what a penchant was, but she found Melody somewhat scary. She was definitely the weirdest of all the adults, second only to the geezer.
    Her ears and her companion's perked at the sound of his voice as he said, “I'll see you next Wednesday Melody.”
    She ran around the back of the farmhouse to see him parting with her and head towards her home and immediately made her move. She sprinted towards him with Bane quickly loping behind her and when she was a moment away from passing him he caught a glimpse of her.
    “Oh my g-” He stopped shouting as she dashed past him and took his hand in hers, pulling him towards the forest. She slowed down a bit because he was old and probably couldn't keep up with her speed as she carefully lead him through the trees to a place that she considered one of her special spots in the entirety of the forest. One of the places that only she and Bane knew about. It took some time to get there but the trio eventually made it.
    Her special spot was a cliff a fair distance from the village, but not so far that it was outside of the barrier. From the top of it, you could see a lot of the rest of the Forest and even a part of the town that rested within a valley, where the Humans lived.
    “You can sit down geezer.” She said and pointed to a stump. He was doubled over and heaving for air after running alongside her and she felt kinda bad that he had to try so hard to keep up with her, but she felt a little happy that he did. He wasn't so bad, for a geezer. She sat down on the other stump next to his and looked out upon the Forest and the setting sun as he silently took in the sight. She wondered if he liked what he saw. “Sometimes...” She paused. “Sometimes I come up here when I just wanna get away from the town and the boys and stuff. Or when mom gets mad at me.” She turned to him and he to her, and he winced as he got a glimpse of her face. It must have been bad. She got hit quite a lot.
    “You really should try to avoid getting into fights with the boys.” Samson said as he sighed. “It pains me to see you get hurt like that, and knowing that you hurt others too.” She pouted at his comment. He sounded just like Bane, as always. He placed a hand to her head and she shifted her gaze away from him. “Besides, a black eye doesn't look good on a pretty young girl like you.”
    Her cheeks flushed red. How could he say such embarrassing things so easily? She thought only her dad would do that, but the geezer did too. Maybe it was something that all dads did? “Gross.” She muttered under her breath. He seemed to find it funny. She glanced back at him and he smiled gently at her, so she looked at her shoes. “'S not my fault Yuta's such a snot!” She frowned. “He and his stupid crew always come and then they start being jerks. I just hit them once or twice and Mom gets mad about it.”
    “That's not what I heard. Supposedly Martin went home with a bloody nose and Blake a black eye. God Ah knows what kind of beating you gave to those other boys.”
    She snorted a laugh. They got what they deserved. Given the chance she'd definitely go for a second round to give the others what those two got a taste of. “They started it.”
    He let out a laugh and tousled her hair. “You're a real tough girl aren't you? You should save some of that ferocity for the monsters out in the world kiddo. Someday you'll be kicking butt and doing a variety of quests for people all around the world too you know.” He placed a finger to his lip thoughtfully. “Though I've gotta admit, I'm rather impressed that you took on five of them at once. If anything, you certainly are fearless.”
    Her eyes were hidden by her bangs but the smile on her face wasn't. It felt kinda nice to be appreciated by the geezer, but she wasn't gonna let him know about that. She masked her smile with a proud grin and she turned to him. “I know that! I'm gonna be a great Mage that can use a ton of cool spells and stuff! Then I'll turn those boys into rocks and show them.”
    “Come now, there's no need for you to be dealing with snotty boys when you're much older.” His smile faded and he looked at her curiously. “Now that I think about it, why don't you play with the girls? I don't think they'd be rough with you like the boys are.”
    She knit her eyebrows. “They think I like playing with the boys, and they call me a tomboy. The other girls are afraid of Bane. I told them he's a good dog but they won't listen.”
    Samson chuckled and Bane looked rather sullen. “Sometimes girl can be more difficult than boys it seems.” He rubbed his beard thoughtfully. “There's nothing wrong with being a tomboy, so let them say what they want about you. As for the boys, how did you wind up fighting them in the first place?”
    “I hit Marty too hard during one of our classes and since then they started calling me names.” She pouted. “They're too stupid to listen anyway. The only time I can get them to stop is when I beat them up.” Her victories and losses were really one-sided, but against certain boys she usually won.
    “Sheesh...kids these days..” Samson wiped his brow nervously and she snickered. That really made him sound old and the look of surprise on his face said that he may have noticed. “We're gonna keep that one between you and me okay?”
    She beamed. “It's a secret.”
    He beamed back at her. “Tell you what. For keeping my secret I'll let you in on a little something too. Maybe it's more a promise than a secret, but it'll be between just you and me.”
    Her eyes shimmered as she nodded. “What is it? Tell me!”
    “If you work really hard to practice your magic, I'll teach you a few fighting moves I learned during my journey so you can make the boys jealous.”
    She got to her feet and rested her hands on his knees as she leaned in towards him. “Really? Do you mean it?”
    “Cross my heart and hope to die.”
    “It's a promise then!” She jumped back away from him and twirled on her heel before she placed her hands to her hips. “Just you wait geezer! I'm gonna get really good at it and I'll show you!”
    He smiled. “Can't wait to see what you've got.”

    This, was one of the most challenging portions I've had to write yet. Whole lot of backtracking and all sorts of other stuff. Writing Iris was super weird. I mean the only thing we know about her is the usual snippets of her we get in the Iris Stones so I tried to build on her a little here, and give her a few unique traits that could be found at a glance. She always seemed to be the type who was stalwart but honest to a fault to me, so I tried to work with that and shape her personality around it a bit. As for the others well they were a little iffy, but I tried to make them feel strong in their own ways too except for Muwen. I don't like him, but I honestly think he would be alike to the way I wrote him from what I'd seen of him. He probably could've said more, but to me it didn't feel like he'd be the type to get along well with the Cerebians. Or maybe a bunch of strangers in general. Regardless, there was a looooot of info on a lot of different things here, but it kinda fills in the gap for TJ's story between the end of the Asgardian War and his awakening in Frequency. A lot of readers would probably wonder where he disappeared to for twenty years or so. I always feel weird when I think the whole timeline spans 25 years but the main stories span two following it. On the bright side, there's a lot to be told which leaves a lot of room for other characters and for the world to be developed.
    Samson had a lot of questions to ask but didn't. This decision was one of the hardest things to do. At a glance, it does seem like most of this was just blatant exposition, and I have to admit it does frustrate me a little, but I tried to write it in such a way that it didn't feel as if it was just for clarification on the reader's part. While the town hears what Iris has to say, they aren't as well versed on certain matters as he would be, hence why he speculates on most of the things she says and tries to piece everything together. At the same time, I feel that in that regard carefully choosing what the characters knew and didn't know really helped to ease that burden of knowledge. It's not so much an info dump as it is Samson trying to understand what he was told. As for Iris and her tome, I had named it "Prophet of the Empire". I won't say why though! But I did give it some thought and might expand on it further later on, though it might not crop up. Though with this the proof is in the pudding that Iris was TJ's other companion and that she once held a piece of the crystal, as did Choen Palm. What did she do with it? Who knows? The conversation was so misleading because Iris had too many girls in her party that not even Samson was able to make sense of it. I have to admit, I do feel a little guilty for throwing in the TJ gender-theory but it is a major(?) part of his character. When I redid Frequency from the beginning it was hinted at that he was kinda androgynous, and here it's mentioned again, but I didn't want him to be too big a focus throughout USSR so I try not to name drop too often. Though the matter is something that will appear now and again. Still, I do find the idea that he's like a gender-swapping Nick Fury just a little amusing.
    Moving on, I actually did the scene where Kasumi fights with the boys before she went off with Sam. It was hard as balls, and extremely awkward because I can't write children for the life of me. I'll probably have to revisit that and give them a new insult or two, but all in all I think it's decent at the very least, for a first timer. Writing Kasumi alone was difficult, but writing five others was hell. Thankfully it was short, but I'll likely have them pop up now and again. I'm still working on giving Kasumi's PoV that unique style that it needs, leaving aside the way she speaks because I don't feel it does it enough justice, but I think I'm getting a little closer. Hopefully by the end I'll have it down pat. My main focus for now is easing her into her current personality. The change won't be completed in USSR since well, you know. It ends with some time to spare before everything goes wrong. That, and Frequency is quite a few years after, so there'd be slight changes during USSR but not likely the major differences right off the bat. I'll be the first to admit it, some of the boys are kinda cliche. Maybe the whole clique is, especially Doug, but I did that intentionally. I wanted to get that spirit of some village in the middle of nowhere with the villagers to match, and some of those guys just fit so perfectly I had to do it.
    Gotta admit, writing Kasmi get beat up was extra awkward for me, but that is how it was initially so it hadn't changed. In spite of the fact, as Samson had said she was pretty impressive for taking on that many boys. She's strong without her magic, it just needs to be honed. Sam is a bad uncle. Though I admit, a little bit of Sam/Kas fluff is refreshing after so much drama and serious stuff.
    Little late but there's a lot to see. There's still a few more major events, including a couple new ones but we're nearing the end! I hope you enjoyed it thus far. If all goes well I'll be back with more on Friday and after this finishes hopefully we'll see a finished act 1 for Innocent.
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    TJ

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

    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:02 pm

    Pages 65-68:
    Samson
    It seemed that the young girl planned to hold Samson to his promise without restraint; she wanted to earn her keep and tirelessly worked day in and day out to become as well versed in her studies as she could. It did feel a little bit lonely not seeing her around when he worked; those short glimpses of her and Bane flitting about in the distance always made the days feel shorter and gave him something to look forward to in the evenings, but he did take solace in the fact that she was working harder than she normally would. That, and Grant also offered his thanks. If Samson recalled correctly, his exact words were, “I dunno what you did Sam, but I haven't seen our little girl so interested in studying since before the accident with Martin. You must be a blessing in a leather coat.” She had already read through the elementary level spell-casters guide and read through a majority of the advanced works. In a matter of time she would be on her mother's level in terms of knowledge. She was a prodigy, and there was no denying the fact. Just one that needed the right motivation; even if the motivation was wrong. At times he would not even find her at home, and assumed that she was out practicing where none could find her. The forest was a backyard for her, and despite being in Hanamah for quite a few months the adventurer still struggled in it. Regardless, he found the entire situation a blessing.
    Since she had been keeping herself busy, only cropping up once in a while to greet Samson and tell him that she was working hard, he found himself with a lot more spare time, and in it he would wander about that town and ask around about his missing niece. Those who were familiar with the God's Governor and his wife placed their bets on Grant and Beatrice's daughter. She seemed to be the favourite for the matter. Some said she was the most likely to be the God's Governor, but still had the sneaking suspicion that it may have been Yuta. The frequency of that guess increased since Iris' arrival, but the adventurer was positive that the two did not have a son of any sort. That, and he had none of their traits. He was willing to believe it, that she really was Kasumi. If he was able to see her skills first hand it would likely be the definitive proof that he needed. He could get the proof, but what he lacked was a course of action that followed it.
    Now that Autumn had finally settled in the leaves began to change colour and the head farmer and his team began harvesting everything that was ready. Samson was rather fond of the current season, but Grant's daughter seemed even more so. On a Thursday afternoon he and Melody were out in the fields collecting pumpkins in preparation for the upcoming Harvest Festival. Since the festival was an ongoing holiday, the school would be closed and most of the adults would be participating by making preparations for it, be it cooking meals, decorating the village or preparing for events.
    “Hey Sam, did you know that the GMA is coming to our village to host a giant event for the Harvest Festival?” Melody asked. She placed the pruning shears to the vine and attempted to cut it with a rather startling amount of force. Perhaps it was more difficult for her than it should have been, since her face turned red and she held her breath as she did.
    He chuckled gently at her effort and nodded at her eventual success. “Really? I didn't think the GMA would come to such a rural part of the world. Especially to a Haven such as Hanamah,” He commented.
    She heaved the pumpkin into a wagon and scanned the fields for another that was ripe for the picking. “Well they are Cerebians too! Those guys have blended in so well with Humanity that they've been none the wiser for years. When it comes to the Havens though, they usually disguise themselves as members of a caravan so they don't stand out, and then they sneak off the path. Clever huh?” She proceeded to one of the larger pumpkins and began a new struggle. “They bring a lot of great prizes and stuff for those who win the events. The kids love it.” She heaved as she doubled over and glared down at the pumpkin, then started once more with renewed fervor. “Speaking of kids, where's the little cutie lone wolf with her wolf that usually follows you around Sam?”
    It was the first time he had heard the two described in such a way, and it left him without words for a moment. On the other hand, Grant and Beatrice aside, very few had such fondness for the duo as Melody. There was very few who she could bring herself to dislike, and others felt the same towards her. “She's had her nose in the books the past while. I have to give her credit for her tenacity,” Samson said. “She and I have a bit of a bet going, so she's really giving it her all.”
    She placed a hand to her mouth and gazed at him from the corner of her eye; he felt strangely embarrassed by the look she gave him and he turned away instinctively. “Oho! I knew she liked you, but are these mutual feelings I'm suspecting?”
    He could not let himself be so stirred up by his junior. He had no intention of demanding respect, but he could do without any strange misunderstandings. “Define mutual feelings.” He had a certain fondness for her, and perhaps she felt a connection with him too. The two were akin to a family, including her parents.
    “Love, of course.”
    He fumbled his shears and placed a hand to his face. Had she gone mad? “Melody she's ten years old! I've no intentions of courting Grant's child!”
    She pursed her lips and rolled her eyes to gaze off into the distance. “Six or seven more years and she could be yours...” He sighed. He had no interest in children, and even less so one that could be his brother's daughter. He picked up the shears and continued his work in silence. The matter of the two being together as family was difficult as it was. Eloping with her was absolutely out of the question. If the Exalted One was in the Dark Moon's grasp, he did not have six or seven years to waste to have a love fulfilled, nor did he have that long to spend with Kasumi. The matter needed to be addressed and soon, and with what little knowledge he had of how exactly the matters of their world were to play out, he could not likely be there to see Kasumi grow. He hated the idea of it, but one way or another it seemed as if fate would rip the two apart. “Did I offend you Sam? Sorry!”
    He snapped out of his reverie with a jolt and gestured that it was nothing. “No, not at all. I'd just gotten wrapped up in my own thoughts for a little while.” He grinned with a hint of guilt hidden behind his smile. “As an adventurer I probably wouldn't live six or seven years to make her mine.”
    Melody's expression brightened just a little. “A veteran like you wouldn't go down so easily I bet.” She placed another pumpkin in the wagon and wiped the sweat from her brow with her glove. “Has your search for your niece been going well? A lot of the villagers were surprised to find out you were the Samson. I sometimes still hear them talking about it!”
    Samson chuckled uneasily. Since he started asking around about the young God's Governor those who were from Xenym caught on to who he was and certainly did not hide it. The years he had spent away from them made him lose track of their faces, and them his, but when those minute details came to mind the names and faces began to match the people, and he had been reunited with many old and familiar faces. Some who regarded him as an unsung hero, heard about his actions on Asgard. Though he was upstaged by Julius, it did not bother him any at that age. He wanted the Cerebians to have faith in their God's Governors, and despite the war having a rather grim end, his kind had something to take solace in. He could accept being eclipsed by Kasumi also if it meant that she would be accepted by the colony. “Truthfully being praised like that is rather embarrassing,” He admitted. “I'm just a subordinate earning his keep here in Hanamah. Not a hero of war or the brother to the God's Governor of Earth; just regular old Samson.” Better that he not stir them up by confessing Julius' passing. His whereabouts were unknown to most, and he preferred to keep it that way. He had his doubts that the colony would be willing to stand behind a child on the battlefield; especially those with the pride of a seasoned adventurer or soldier. “That aside, it'd probably be easier for Grant's daughter to get close to a jack of all trades adventurer than a hero of war.”
    “Still got the suspicion she might be Julius' daughter? You think about her a lot huh? Are you taking her to the Harvest Festival?” The first two questions were rather on the mark, and he deemed them to be rhetorical but the third gave him pause. From what he knew of the festival, there would be food, dancing and events. Assuming that everyone would be attending, what kind of answer was her question meant to elicit?
    He gave her a quizzical stare. “Take her? What do you mean?”
    “Nobody told you yet?” She grinned impishly and he felt slightly underwhelmed that someone had left out such an important fact about the upcoming event. Or perhaps it was not as important as he had imagined and Melody just had the urge to bask in his ignorance. “The GMA's events are done in pairs. Mostly for the sake of safety, but it's also because they want the kids to learn proper teamwork skills. Most of them team up with a parent or a family friend, in case the parent's can't join in.”
    He blinked. The Game Master's Association likely knew as well as the rest of the colony how important having a Pledger, let alone companions could be to any Cerebian; strength in numbers, and other such pieces of advice. The fact that Melody had asked him if he would be going likely meant that neither Grant nor Beatrice would be able to take their daughter. “Her parents won't be able to attend?”
    “Nope. Beatrice is on nurse duty and Grant's on the festival committee.” Melody answered. Her wagon was nearly full. It would not be long before she would need to take it to the head farmer and his other assistants to be cured.
    The matter of the pumpkins aside, it made sense that the two would be occupied. Beatrice was not just a part-time nurse, she worked at the school and looked after the kids throughout the week, and handled any other medical injuries. Grant along with one other person handled the town's more political affairs, including all paperwork and such. If anyone would be coming or going, they would know about it. Outside of those two, their daughter had no one else, save for her canine companion, and Samson had no doubts that they would not allow a wolf to compete in the competitions. “That sounds feasible.” He muttered. “If that proves to be the case then I'll go with her to the event.” He cracked a smile. “I'm sure Cruz will let me off if I miss a day of fishing.”
    She chuckled. “I bet she'll be in high spirits this year. It'll be her first time, after all.” Melody packed the last pumpkin into her wagon and made her way back to the farmhouse. Samson watched her walk away and his eyes shuttered at the words she had left him with.

    Samson along with many of the other adults had joined in on decorating the town for the Harvest Festival. Prior to that day any with spare time began preparations, and even the teachers and children joined in by creating a banner for the town hall(which also served as a post office). Excess pumpkins rested outside of the houses, some turned into jack-o-lanterns in preparation for the up and coming Halloween. According to Melody, Autumn was the best time for the children of Hanamah, and leaving Summer aside, was one of their favourite times of the year. On the other hand, regardless of weather children would enjoy the season. The holidays just made everything better.
    Samson leaned against the fence to Grant's home and took in the Autumn air. Members of the community flitted about carrying various dishes and other festival goods as they made preparation for the festival. The first two days would be dedicated to the events and mainly themed dishes. Saturday would be pumpkin, Sunday apple, and Monday would be a variety of Autumn themed foods. Alongside that, Monday would include dances, songs and a bonfire to commemorate the end of the festival. It sounded like a lot of fun, and seeing the look on the young girl's face when he said he could take her made it all the more worthwhile. He had always wondered why she looked so sullen as the event approached, and that evening though he had planned to approach her parents on the matter, Beatrice had done so first. Their daughter seemed to catch word of it from nearby and her face lit up when he said he would go with her.
    He turned his head at the sound of the front door opening and he caught a glimpse of her peeking through the crack. He looked at her quizzically and she frowned.
    “What's wrong kiddo? Me and Bane won't bite, right Bane?” Samson asked the wolf with a grin. Bane groaned in response and the adventurer shrugged. “Well I guess that makes one of us.”
    “Bane said only one of you is savage enough to do that,” She responded sullenly.
    Samson shot the wolf a glare. “Well that's awfully rude.” He laughed it off briefly and turned back to her. “So, what're you hiding for? Come on out and lemme see your face.” Beatrice was insistent that she try to look somewhat presentable for the event, since she always ran around in shorts and whatnot, so whatever her mother put her in was clearly something she did not enjoy.
    “Promise you won't laugh?” He gave her a definitive nod and she glared at him with her sulky expression. “Promise me.” He chuckled quietly. Seeing her so insistent on the matter was too much for him. She could make a doting parent out of him easily.
    “I promise. Will you come out now?”
    She lowered her eyes and closed the door. He felt sure that he did not say anything to upset her, but he would not jump to conclusions so quickly. She likely just needed a moment to gather her composure. The door opened slowly and she followed after it, stealing the occasional glance at him and shifting it back to her shoes. It took him a moment to realize what he saw but he was rather amazed at the sight. For the first time since his arrival, she was in a dress. It was a simple sleeveless red polka-dot dress, but the fact that Beatrice managed to get her into it was what really had him. She even had matching moccasins and her hair tied in twin-tails. Her mother really did not hold back.
    “Quit staring so much geezer.” She muttered before averting her eyes, her face was flushed as she pulled down the hem of the dress.
    At the sight of her it brought back memories of his youth. On days off or where Samson was away, Julius and Rosetta would go out on dates around the time they had just begun dating. Julius always sent Samson a mail or two to tell them how they went and all the little interesting things that happened, and he occasionally mentioned that without her armour Rosetta would always become a lot more timid. Later on in their relationship he had asked her the reason and she had told him that it made her feel somewhat naked. When Samson brought it up, she hit the both of them and said it was meant to be a secret between her and Julius alone. Samson chuckled aloud at the thought and the young girl lit up again with her own fury.
    “You promised not to laugh! Get him Bane!” She shouted and pointed to him.
    Bane looked to her and then to Samson, and he met the wolf's gaze with a look of his own. Though the familiar looked rather puzzled, he rose to his feet and charged towards the adventurer. Samson had felt sure that the wolf would not attack unless his master was in danger, but he began to regret holding such a thought for truth.
    “Bane no!” He cried out before he attempted to hold back the wolf. Bane tackled him to the ground and gave him an odd look for a moment before stepping off of him. It seemed to be a mix of pity and playfulness. Following that, he bit down gently on Samson's foot and began dragging him towards the young girl. He was certainly stronger than he looked; Samson would have to remind himself to stay off of both of their bad sides.
    “Apologize.” She said before she crossed her arms.
    He looked up at her from the ground and blinked. She was defenseless. So very, very, defenseless. He considered that it would be for the best that if she wore a skirt or a dress more frequently, to understand the importance of covering up properly. “I'm sorry.”
    “Now say it like you mean it.” The moment those words left her lips he could see Beatrice. Without a doubt, it was something she said and something she said often to her daughter. With how often she got into trouble and lectured by her mother, there likely was a point where she stopped being earnest about her answers. That was the end result.
    As he opened his mouth the words, 'I did mean it' nearly escaped his lips but that would sound almost sarcastic in response. “Sorry kiddo.”
    She pursed her lips and turned to her companion. “Should we forgive him Bane?” The wolf looked back at her solemnly. “Bane said yeah, so you're forgiven.” Julius and Bane had that same strange ability of communication, and after years of seeing it firsthand, he still could not comprehend it.

    The village had gathered in the square shortly after Grant and Hanamah's vice-minister Tory Hidalgo had informed them all that the GMA was incoming. Excited chatter made its way through the crowd as they all waited in anticipation to welcome their guests. Samson stood in the crowd with the little girl right by his side, holding tightly to the back of his coat. Unlike her, he had not worn anything particularly special. A pair of loose fitting black cargos and his adventurer's coat over a plaid shirt.

    Bit of a short update this time around. Kinda lost my edge closer to the end so I called it a day there. Hopefully come Monday I'll have finished most of if not all of the Harvest Festival. This time around was just mainly a short between Mel and Sam. These two make for a strange pair. Opposites attract I guess? She's a little eccentric, but it's nothing out of Sam's league. I actually googled the process for harvesting pumpkins for this part too. Knowledge is power. Or maybe I'm just a perfectionist idk yet. At times, I guess.
    I've been considering merging Sam and Su's PoVs for the festival, since it'll be following both of them around for the entirety of it, but I still have mixed feelings about it. I wouldn't likely be swapping between the two frequently, since it would just be misleading. If I was to swap, it'd likely be for the differing days. Otherwise there'd be little point to doing it, since the time frames would be so short. For now I'll keep it as is. Also for the first time you get to see Su in a dress! I'd always thought about it, but I realized that there's no way in hell she would willingly get in one so this seemed to be the most fitting way for it. Gotta admit, one of my favourite things about these two is how Kasumi can always surprise him in one way or another. Everything he thought he knew about Bane is flipped on its head when he's sworn to her, and he's got his hands full handling her also. But in that, is where there development lies. She'll be the toughest person for him to understand, but when he finally gets there well...he'll have his answer. You know how the story ends but I want it to have a bit more emotional impact. That is, if my talent allows for it. Worth a shot I think.

    Anyway, I'll be back tomorrow or something to clarify on my point from before, in regards to the game and the story and their disconnect. I don't have enough caffeine in my system to do it tonight. Now then, I seem to have misplaced my chapstick when I got home so I'm gonna go out in the pouring rain to find it. I just bought it yesterday too. Unreal.
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    TJ

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    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Mon Sep 08, 2014 2:13 pm

    Pages 68-70:
    She was typically quiet, but her expression was rather sullen again. In spite of invoking her fury it was something he rarely saw, and seeing her looking so down was not something he could bear for long.
    “Hey, you alright there kiddo?” He asked to which she gently shook her head. He knelt down and faced her, to which she averted her eyes slightly. “What's wrong?”
    She remained silent for a moment or two, but soon finally muttered, “No Bane...”
    He smiled bitterly for a moment. She and her companion were very rarely, if ever apart. Aside from her classes and being inside the house, Bane was always with her. She was now amidst the villagers with Bane nowhere nearby. It was only natural she would feel uneasy, and Samson felt rather guilty that there was little that he could do to remedy the problem. The fact that most of the village was yet to come to accept him as a non-threat still lingered, and during such a pivotal event there was no way that they would have him amidst them. Was Samson wrong in thinking that she would have wanted to attend the event? Or was it that neither had planned for such an obvious outcome? Regardless, he knew that he would have to change that fact as best as he could. It was his responsibility, and he would not shun it so easily. She was going to have a great time, and he would make sure of it.
    He heard someone mention that they could see the caravan and just as they had said he caught the glimpse of the vehicle passing through the forest as it made its way towards the entrance to the village. The caravan was pulled by two rather large Prirings and Samson chuckled slightly upon seeing them. The creatures were nearly three times the size of the regular creature, but they still retained the innocent look that the smaller ones had. He had not seen creatures of that size since he had last visited the nomadic Human traders that had named themselves the Traveller's Heaven. The young girl stood on her toes and shifted to and fro in an attempt to see through the waves of people that stood in front of the two and Samson noticed. He put his hands under her arms and lifted her up before he placed her on his shoulders. Her body was so small and seemingly frail, it made him conscious of how large his hands were, but the thought passed quickly when he looked up and caught a glimpse of her there, face flushed with squinting eyes watching for the incoming guests. As they broke through the sea of trees her face lit up with excitement and he joined in with the crowd, waving to them as they approached.
    The caravan neared the square and soon came to a halt before them. From the back of it a rather gaudy looking man flipped out and let off a cracker that shot out confetti and startled most of the village. A short set of steps followed after and a young lady throwing confetti stepped down from them and tossed some on her companion who had remained stationary in his pose since he made his entrance. Someone began to clap and the rest of the crowd followed suit.
    “Thank you, thank you very much!” He answered with a bow. After his companion ran out of confetti to throw she reached into her basket and removed a mic which she handed to him. He tapped it twice and the feedback caused everyone to cringe. At that moment Samson recalled who the two were; they were the GMA's Elfa Branch associates. He had seen them during Elfa's last festival, and it was without a doubt the same two people. The outfit was something all associate's wore; a violet button-up coat with gold buttons, a matching skirt for the women and pants for the men, though this seemed to vary depending on preference of the wearer, and black dress shoes. The beret also was violet with a gold four-leaf clover pin, the symbol of the association, a pink tie and an accompanying arm band with the the letters GMA sewn into it. “My name is Kennith Haskell, and I'll be your emcee for today!” The two both shared the sun-touched complexion of those who hailed from the Desert city. He had long curly hair, bright eyes and a confident smile to compliment his can-do attitude. At hearing the name Samson was positive it was the same person he had met then, though he paid him less mind then. “This is my partner Desirae Morell.”
    “It's a pleasure,” She added coolly. Her shuttered chestnut eyes and monotone voice made her seem uninterested, but the last time the adventurer had seen the two Kennith was insistent that was not the case. He had paid for it, but it was likely for the company's image. The citizens of Hanamah likely understood that she was rather soft-spoken, perhaps it was her image that gave off the idea? She bowed and caught her hat, revealing her black hair tied in a bun before she stood upright once more and held the basket to her waist.
    “Are you ready Hanamah?!” Kennith roared into his mic and the crowed shouted back in response. “Louder!” They complied and even Grant's little girl joined in. He likely was the only one who did not, at the thought that if anyone was to be nearby and hear it, it would raise a lot of questions. Though he thought of the riddle of the tree, and if it fell whether it would make a sound or not if none were around to hear it. On the other hand, if any human was to hear it they would either only wander in circles in an attempt to find the source, or think it a ghost and likely go about their business. If there were any, he would wish them the best. “Let's get this party started shall we? Desirae, the schedule!” As requested Desirae returned to the caravan and emerged with an odd silver tube. Samson tilted his head as she set up the object, the metal legs holding it upright. Was it designed to fire fireworks? “We have a plan for six events over the next two days! These are today's events!” She pulled the string and it indeed launched a firecracker, but upon exploding it read Fishing Competition. Despite the daytime sun, the crimson and silver words were still very clear.
    “Ohh!” The little girl excitedly said. Though Samson felt that the GMA was a tad gaudy, he still cracked a smile at the event. They had not even begun and she was already enthused. He wondered what she had done during the other festivals; her reaction to this really was as if it were her first.
    “Fish! They're slimy, they're also kinda gross but they certainly are delicious! The rules for this event are simple, you and your partner go out and catch as many fish as you can. The team with the biggest fish at the end of the event will get twenty points!” Samson had been in Elfa when the GMA had arrived but had not paid them any mind, following their arrival. This time around he knew it would be best if he understood to guide his young companion through the events. Desirae pulled the string again and it launched another firecracker that burst into the words The Hunt. “This is one of my favourites.” He nudged Desirae and she blinked. “This one is a team game! The players will be split up into two teams, the Hunters and the Prey. The job of the hunters is just as you'd expect, catch your prey! Here's the catch though, those who don't work, don't eat! The more prey you catch the more points your team will gain! Those who manage to avoid the hunters until time runs out will earn a lot of points also. Those who outlast the others will get even more than their competitors! Will you be the last pair standing? Survival of the fittest!” Samson was aghast at the words. What on Jienda were they planning with this? In one sense it emphasizes teamwork on the part of the duo, but to pit the players against each other in such an environment sounded downright awful. His young companion seemed to enjoy the idea of it greatly, though; he considered himself lucky that she was on his side. If anyone would excel at it, it would definitely be her. “Now for today's final event! Desirae, if you would.” She pulled the string once more and it fired one last firecracker that blew up and revealed the last event, Camp Assembly. “Who doesn't like camping? The great outdoors, the night sky, the fresh air and the animals that might just maul you if you don't handle the situation with care! Just you, your partner and good ol' mother nature! Can't camp without a camp!” If Samson heard him say camp once more he felt sure he would be on the verge of tearing his own hair out. “It's a race to the finish, ladies and gents! You get your camp up and running before the others and you score big!”
    Samson nodded sagely. The situation made a lot of sense; the idea behind the event certainly was not only to bolster teamwork, it was meant to teach the children how to survive out in the fields in a more safe and enjoyable environment. It made the adventurer feel rather crestfallen.

    Not much to read here and even less to say. Sorry if I come off as...edgy. Been a bit of a long day, but I've been really on and off with things so I'm gonna try and get back on track. There'll be a loooot of stuff in the next post.
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    TJ

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    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Mon Sep 08, 2014 3:22 pm

    There might be spoilers. I'll try and tag em if I notice them. Some might be on purpose, and some might be rather misplaced so read at your own risk. I'll make sure to tag them separately from the rest, so you'll know what is and what isn't. Fair warning, this'll probably be long and smarmy, so you best prepare yourself. With that said, let's begin.
    About USSR:
    Just as I had with the first and many chapters throughout my work I tried changing things again. Initially I had done this with Innocent, playing around with the idea of things differing by the perspective of the character. Since Freq and Sanc only followed TJ, more or less, things were rather static, though the perspective wasn't exactly his, per se. It followed him, but didn't see things through his eyes. In this regard it works since when it comes to battles and whatnot, it can focus on multiple events at once. If TJ was in the backline, most of it wouldn't be visible to readers. On one hand, this would be completely fitting for that specific style, and would essentially be for the best. On the other hand it could leave a lot to be desired in terms of developing the cast and their skills as a whole. I didn't want what he saw to be the 'be all end all' throughout the story, since the others are very important also. Though with things such as Innocent or USSR, it's easier to do this solely because most groups come in pairs of two. Reina and Salem are frequently together, and though Samson and Kasumi are often apart, the difference in their perspectives makes up what the other lacks, while focusing on what they specialize in.
    So let's get to the real meat of the topic. Throughout most of USSR, mainly Samson's perspective there's a lot of focus on the expressions of the characters, but not so much on the rest of the body. Why? That's the way he is, and what he's most concerned with. Think back to the people he knew; many often had certain expressions and such that told a lot about them, and even a single gaze could speak volumes to him. In order to understand it, it was a skill that he honed over the years not just for those around him, but for his journey. As an adventurer, the Agasura won't be the only threat to his life/well-being. There are mercs, swindlers, highwaymen and many other things along the paths that could put him and his companions at risk, so his insight is a key factor to his character. In truth I didn't explore it much in my early stuff because I hadn't gotten to that point but as things progress the world is expanding, and in doing so the characters are too in their own respects. Looking back, I've noticed that this changed dramatically between the beginning and the current point in the plot. If I was to ask myself why, it's because Samson had changed over the years. Not just his physical state, but also his mental state to a degree that wasn't clearly stated. His intuition dulled, and he became more of a downtrodden character all around after the events of Xenym. Though that is the case, it's not as if he's no ability left to him whatsoever; he still speculates quite well, but if he was to meet with say, Hazel again post-Xenym he wouldn't be able to read her as well as he once could. I could go on about the dynamic of those two but that's not important right now.
    So, moving on. A lot of the time the expressions take precedence to the actions of the characters. Why's this? Between two people, let's say for example Kasumi and Samson; when the two are sitting together if you were to imagine the scenario, realistically they wouldn't likely be moving around as much as they did. To give them too many actions would make the characters seem almost fidgety or jumpy. It would feel like they're doing too much with little justification for the action. Trying to strike that balance between too much and too little is an ongoing struggle because at times you have to ask yourself why they'd be doing that. Does it fit? Does it really help emphasize the character's trait or what they had to say? Is it fitting of them? This is something I consider especially with Samson. Sometimes he does nothing, and sometimes he's already doing something that was specified and he continues to do that thing. Sometimes his actions speak for themselves, even if they're rather emphasized. At times they're downright ridiculous. And that's the best part! Strange as it may seem in the setting of the novel, it fits solely because they're people. Take any random person off the street and say something ridiculous to them and they'd likely cringe or ignore you completely. But it's a small village of often familiar faces, and in that they are comfortable and familiar with each other. Hence why the characters can say and do unusual things rather freely.
    Now on to the matter of Kasumi and her actions. Of all the characters, she would likely come off as the strangest, especially in comparison to her Freq/Sanc self. Remember, those take place about 5-6 years after USSR. This side of her has more of an innocent charm to it, one that seems so untainted and pure that it comes off as rather cliche, or unreal, really pressing the matter of the reader's suspension of disbelief. Realistically, it is. Why is that? Consider these facts;
    This is what a spoiler looks like:
    she had been sent away by Julius and had only lived due to being raised by Bane, her familiar. No human contact, and if any very, very little. There were no Cerebians either. It was her, her companion and the woodland creatures that she feasted on for nourishment, leaving aside whatever plantation she managed to get her hands on. She didn't learn to speak, to read and understand emotions, and learn such things as compassion or other such human luxuries. She knew her familiar, her loyalty to him and his to her, and how to survive. Very little else. Grant and Beatrice didn't find her until she was nearing maybe 6-8 years of age.
    To sum it up really bluntly, she's a HUGE late bloomer. What everyone else would've learned way early on in their lives she was coming to know, and throughout the few scenes she has with Samson it shows. She might blush more than other girls, she might be more bashful and quicker to anger, but it's not just to fit some obvious character stereotype. It's an adjustment to a completely new way of life, completely different to what she had come to know before. The little contact she had with others never really gave her the time to develop those social skills, and the discord created between her and the other children due to her inherent affinity for earth magic. All of this makes her seem a hell of a lot younger than she really is. Personality wise, absolutely. Ability wise, not in the slightest. This is why throughout her story, her ability is showcased; just as Samson has incredible insight, Kasumi is a magical prodigy, and a very quick learner. Much of what she knows is self-taught, but her desire for knowledge compels her to look for more and utilize it. She showcases that in the later works, strange as it may seem.
    Now here's where a major fault lies. The themes clash, completely. Why? And perhaps how? Kasumi's theme revolves around her innocence and how she comes to cope with the world around her as it rapidly changes, introducing new and exciting elements that spark her interest and further her growth by leaps and bounds. Samson's story revolves around events that have already happened, and how they've impacted him; his seems closer to coming to a conclusion than it is to a beginning or even a new arc. Their worldviews are like night and day, and due to it their perspectives differ greatly. This was one of the reasons I was reluctant to include the invasion of Xenym, but also decided to write it. What the original USS lacked was the aftermath of the war; it was meant to be light-hearted, and at this it succeeded but also failed greatly. Samson was the worst part of it; the death of Julius and Rosetta(since the others didn't exist back then) should've been the most heart-rending event in his entire life and thrown the entirety of his world out of balance. Not only were they his party since his youth, but they were the last of his family.
    This is also a spoiler, but chances are you figured this out already:
    Both of their parents had died fighting, and in that Julius took up the mantle of God's Governor of Earth. Though Samson had his rivalry with his brother, he recognized that they were still blood, and that he was after all the elder brother and swore that he would protect him. He failed to do that, and in doing so had let down not just the colony, but all of Humanity in the process.
    For that reason and because the last link left to him and his family is Kasumi, he tries to right what he did wrong. Realizing that he can't stand idly by, he tries to unite the God's Governors and TJ to save their world because he believes that he can make that difference, despite not having the capability of other Cerebians.
    I was younger then than I am now. Over the years I've learned a lot, and I've learned to give the story a darker turn in a more appropriate way. Sure, there's still gonna be genocide and probably excessive amounts of gore, but I understand that it isn't all it takes to give the characters more development. In creating Reina, I took a giant step in that direction, and grew a lot more from it. I want Samson to feel like a well-rounded character. There will be times where he'll crack a smile or a joke and laugh along with another, and there'll be times where he'll look at a reflection of himself and be disgusted or shocked at what looks back at him.
    I spoiled it outside the spoiler tag:
    In this, and through this he'll grow as a character. That light-hearted theme is here to stay, though. Why? The world isn't meant to be constantly...grimdark. I mean there's enough drama and angst in Freq and Sanc to fuel an army of teenagers, but that's not the point here. Those in Hanamah are the survivors of the war. Throughout USSR Samson speculates on the strained atmosphere and the lingering effects from it, and because of it events such as Iris' arrival is a reason for panic. The GMA does what they do to offset this effect. This fact could be applied to real life too; think of the Holocaust. It was a nightmare, to say the least, and people don't want to remember it, but they don't want to forget it either, lest it happen again. In spite of it, humanity is moving forward, and looking forward while doing so because they don't wanna be stuck in constant fear of history repeating itself, or turn on their fellow man because of events of the past. It's a terrifying thought no?

    Nevertheless, leaving aside all the character and story themes aside, there was a reason for the novel and to this day I hope that I can carry it over while giving USS a new coat of paint. I'm sure a lot has changed since then, and if it has then that genuinely makes me pretty happy. In fact, I really believe it has, from my little knowledge. What comes next? I'll be damned if I know but what I can say for sure is we can learn a lot from the past. I certainly have. I just haven't acted on it for...reasons. On certain things, mind! I do take my writing and criticisms very seriously. Little too much, really. My goodness. Anyway maybe next time I come around you can hear me rant about how I'm gonna fix up the combat in all the series? Though that's in the soon(TM) field.
    Now I'm gonna stop being a pretentious dick and show myself out.

    Did this sound condescending? Like a lot? I feel that it did and it bugs the crap out of me. Honestly, it's not meant to. That's just the way things sound when I pick my own brain apart. Honest! It's basically that but...in written form. Proooooobably one of the reasons I don't go into the nitty gritty often. Anyway yeah. That's about all I had to say for now lol.


    Last edited by TJ on Mon Sep 08, 2014 3:30 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Sounded condescending. Like seriously.)
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    TJ

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    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Fri Sep 12, 2014 12:17 pm

    Pages 70-72:
    “Now what's an event without prizes?” He continued. “Desirae,” She entered the caravan and exited with a heavy chest in both hands. After exiting she placed it down next to Kennith and he went on, “For our first place winner we have the fantastic choice of either one of these two fantastic companions!” His assistant opened the chest and two yellow eggs with orange dots across them emerged, both winged and utilizing the feathery appendages to fly above the chest. “You'll get your choice of either a Parrot or a Shaggy Dog! Who will be our lucky winner this year?” She returned the eggs to the chest and closed it back. “For our second place winner we have a very rare item that's the envy of any adventurer! Travel the world, experience what it has to offer and teleport to any Save Stone you've come across throughout your journey instantly! Bring up to four friends at a time! What a steal! This Warp Crystal can be yours if you've got what it takes!” Desirae opened the chest and drew the crystal surrounded by topaz shards, the item itself was alike to that which Iris and her companions used. Some of the adults had interested looks by the item, mainly those who were adventurers prior to their arrival in Hanamah. As always, Grant's child looked ecstatic at the thought. She seemed to be more interested in the Warp Crystal than she was in the first place prizes. Samson chuckled at the thought; her familiar was more a pet to her than a powerful summoned being, and she likely saw them as unnecessary extras. The GMA associate returned the item to the chest and awaited her partner's speech. “Lastly for all you fashion fanatics out there we have a very special item!” She opened the chest once more and drew a small coupon; from his distance it was difficult to see, but by the look of the item Samson knew exactly what it was. “Fashionable, functional, optional! It's got it all! With this Toma's fashion coupon you can get yourself a fantastic set of battle ready gear that will empower you, without sacrificing style or defense!” Those who had a penchant for taking on the GMA's events or playing a specific game they had named LaDeck had a chance to win one such item. Though they appear to be a set of clothes, one could wear their armour beneath the set to be protected and empowered. How the Cerebians had managed such a feat he had no idea, but it was impressive no less. He rather preferred his armour to such glamourous clothing, so he did not bother to partake in such frivolities.
    “We also have a myriad of runner-up prizes, so please don't feel disheartened if you cannot place in the top rankings,” Desirae added.
    “Let's show 'em geezer.” The young girl told him with a glint in her eye.
    “Yeah. Let's do our best,” He told her with a smile.
    “Let's get to it then! The fishing competition begins now! You've got three hours to bring back the biggest and best fish of the bunch! Grab your rods and bait, and bring a big one home!” Kennith cheered.
    “If you're in need of a rod and bait, we will gladly provide. Also please do listen for the horn, as this will signal that the event is near ending. Upon hearing it, please make your way back to the village with your catch.” Desirae told them before returning the chest to the caravan and emerging with various goods for fishing in sizes big and small.
    Those who did not have the items, which was most of Hanamah approached and claimed what they needed before setting off. Samson had borrowed Grant's rod for a spell, before he had received his own courtesy of Cruz. When he was deemed to be a seasoned fisherman Cruz had crafted him his own rod, and gave it to him along with his congratulations. A small feat, but one that he took some pride in nonetheless. Grant's daughter had one of her own; one that was very rarely used because of how busy her father was, but still remained within the tiny house awaiting the day the two could spend some parent-child time. The adventurer hoped that she would be able to enjoy her time with him in place of her father, if even but once.
    The two returned to the house, the young girl excitedly grabbing her things before rushing outside to meet with Samson and pat her canine companion on the head. She followed Samson into the forest and the two took up the spot where Samson and Cruz often did their fishing. Samson rested against his favourite tree and casted his line while the young girl took her place next to him, cross-legged with her rod in hand and her eyes focused on the water. The adventurer was rather surprised to see her so suddenly quiet, but with how focused she seemed on the task it did not worry him much. When she had set her mind to something, it seemed she would do it to the best of her ability. Though a newcomer fisherman, she was certainly determined.
    After a fair amount of time passed the young girl huffed and fell on her back with a groan.
    “So boring...” She muttered while she looked to the sky and placed a hand over her face.
    “Fishing takes time kiddo. You might catch something, you might not. Patience is key here.” Samson said sagely. She groaned at his comment and he chuckled quietly.
    She sat up and gazed at him solemnly before he shifted his eyes in her direction. “Hey geezer.”
    “Hmm?”
    “Do you like it here?”
    He blinked. That was certainly a question that came from nowhere, and left him at a loss for a few moments. What would urge her to ask such a question? “Of course. Hanamah is a very peaceful place, and I've really enjoyed the time I've spent here.”
    She pursed her lips. “You don't miss being an adventurer at all?”
    Perhaps that was the reason she had asked; the girl loved the idea of being an adventurer, and the few that she had met seemed to be the highlight of the time they had been together. She had been certain to ask him a variety of questions whenever the two were together. “Do I miss it? That's a good question.” He had very rarely considered going back to adventuring. His focus had been stuck between finding Kasumi and rescuing the Exalted One from the Dark Moon's grasp. He knew that he would have to choose sooner rather than later, but with what time he had he still wanted to accomplish both tasks. If he could go back to being an adventurer, would he? Or would he take up Reina's suggestion and take up residence in Hanamah? “Well I guess I do miss it a little bit. I've been doing it for so long I'm still getting used to not doing it. Still, the life of settler isn't so bad either.”
    She sat up and crossed her legs again, before placing her hands in between them and leaning towards him. “But it sounds like you do. Sometimes when you're sleeping you talk about some people named Julius and Rosetta or something like that.” He looked appalled at her words.
    “W-what?”
    The girl crossed her arms and nodded. “You've been doing it for a while. Mom and Dad can't hear you, but I can hear you sometimes when I sneak out of my room at night.” The fact that she was doing something that she should not have been mattered little in comparison to the truth she laid out before him. His eyes shuttered and he shifted his eyes to his shoes. How many nights had he lay in bed after waking from a horrible nightmare? It had happened so frequently he had come to accept it, but was still haunted by each and every one. How many times had he seen images of his brother and sister-in-law? How many times would he be reminded that the two had ceased to exist? “Were they your friends?” She was so innocent, he found himself hard-pressed to tell her the truth. In spite of the fact, she had stumbled upon something that he wished she did not have to come to understand; at the very least, not in the near future.
    “Yeah. Yeah they were. My very dear friends...”
    “Do you miss them?”
    He nearly fumbled the rod at her words. “I do. Very dearly.” Could such a simple question leave him so flustered? Had he not come to accept their passing after so many years?
    “Why don't you bring them here?” At those words he lost his composure. He shut his eyes tightly to fight back the tears before the rod slipped from his hands that reached out to cover his face. He had spent years thinking about the matter and trying to understand what had lead up to it, but never stopped to face himself and the fact that they were really, truly dead. He tried to convince himself to grasp the concept but at the very core of his being a deep-seated fear of the unknown had gripped him. Something in him continuously tried to convince him that somehow, they were still alive and out there; not just Julius and Rosetta, but all of the people he had cared deeply for in Xenym. Hazel, Meryl, Esther, Virgil and Alessa, all of them. He wanted to believe that they were still alive despite the grisly scene that had lay before him upon his last visit, but he had no proof of the fact, and not even the slightest clue as to what may have become of them. He removed his hands and looked at his reflection in the river, feeling truly and utterly pathetic. The man that looked back at him was the husk of the man he once was. The years had come for him in the worst way possible. He looked worn-down, his eyes seemed to lack the flare they once had and the bags from his lack of sleep had grown over the days. The tears that he shed had made his eyes puffy and the look on his face showed the deep-seated misery behind his expression. What had become of him?
    He felt the young girl's tiny arms wrap around his neck as she gently rested against his back, her head placed against his as she brought a gentle embrace to him. In the water he caught sight of his shocked expression and her smile, her flushed cheeks and closed eyes. He steadily closed his eyes and placed his hands against hers, gently draped around him. “You know, geezer, whenever Mom and Dad got worried when I'd leave home and they couldn't find me they'd hug me when they cried like this. Yu always said it was weird for boys to cry and I told Dad that too, and he said that it's okay for them to, so you should too.” She explained before bursting out into laughter. “Bane told me this is how humans and Cerebians show they love somebody. He said I couldn't lick them because that's something that his kind does since they don't have hands. But we hug anyway.”
    At that point the adventurer could no longer hold his tears back. In spite of the shame he had felt from being consoled by a girl no older than ten years old, she seemed wise beyond her years, and in that moment in time he felt younger and smaller than she was. To be held in such a way reminded him of his own mother, and the few times the two could have such a connection. He wished with all his might that Kasumi had found such a place, and came to know the warmth that he had experienced now. The peaceful expression on her face gave him solace, and as he looked back at himself in his reflection, his mirror image smiled back at him. “Can we stay like this just a little longer?”
    “You must really like hugs geezer.” She added with a snicker.
    He looked at her from the corner of his eye and grinned. “Yeah, you could say that.”

    At the sound of the horn the duo had returned to show their catch, and hopefully take a high ranking position for their efforts. Though the latter half of their time was mostly wasted, since the young girl said that she and her canine companion had their own way of catching fish, and jumped into the river herself in attempt to catch fish with her bare hands. Though she had chased them away, he applauded her for the attempt. Samson brought his bucket with two carps and a pike to Desirae and she accepted it with a nod of approval.
    “Your entries have been accepted. We'll have the results for you as soon as possible,” She told him and he nodded.
    He let out a sigh of relief after he returned his and her rod to the house and found her gently poking Bane's ears. The wolf turned them as she did as his tail wagged, he patiently watched her.
    “Well, that's that. Maybe we'll take first place with our catch. I have a good feeling about that carp,” Samson said.
    “I thought you'd catch more fish than that geezer.” She muttered with knit eyebrows. “Marty and his dad caught more.”
    Her words stung his pride slightly. It was true that Martin and his father had topped them with seven fish to their three, but it was a matter of how large the fish he caught was, and less so the amount. “I'm not worried about them. I think we've got this one in the bag.” He walked past her and placed a hand to her head. “The next event will be starting soon. This one will definitely be ours.”
    “Right?” She beamed.
    He looked towards the crowd gathering around the GMA associates. He had gained something much greater today than he could have expected. It would be his prize, if the two did not succeed.


    Kasumi
    “Alrighty ladies and gents! The time has come for us to move to our second event! Those who are wondering about the winner of the fishing competition will have to be patient while we measure everyone's entries, so while we do that we'll proceed! Next up is The Hunt! Single file people, come up here and get your headband. Take a red headband from Desirae if you prefer to be a hunter, and a white headband from me if you prefer prey! Remember that the game will end when either all prey are captured or when time runs out! Hunters are able to hunt others also, so weed out the competition and make the hunting grounds yours if you can!” Kennith told them all while he waved the white headbands.
    Su excitedly waited in line with the geezer standing beside her rubbing his beard thoughtfully. If there was any event that she'd win, it'd definitely be this one. Nobody knew the forest like she did, and she was the fastest of everybody in Hanamah. They weren't gonna get away from her.
    “We have markers to signal what areas are out of bound in the forest. Please stay within the area, as those who are caught outside of it will be disqualified. Kennith and I will be patrolling,” Desirae said. “I'd also like to request that you play safely, and fairly. Should anyone be hurt Beatrice will be here to provide medical services.” Her mom was really handy with that sort of stuff. With how often Su came back with scrapes and bruises from fights she felt sure that her mom could handle just about anything.
    Su and Samson finally reached Desirae and received their headbands, and after he tied his he crouched down to help her put hers on. She felt ten times cooler with it on.
    “To 'capture' or 'kill' your prey all you need to do is claim their headband! Those who lose theirs are out of the game and are to return to the village immediately, with everything they've collected over the span of the event! Everyone clear on that?” Kennith shouted to the crowd. They all answered immediately and he nodded. “Good. Listen for the horn everyone! When you hear it that means the event begins! With that said, get out there and take your places! Good luck to all of you, and may the best hunter win!”
    “Let's get going. We should probably find a good place to hide before they're all gone,” Samson suggested.
    Su blinked. “Why do we have to hide? We're supposed to find them,” She said.
    She lead the way and he followed closely behind. “If someone sees us first, they might steal our headbands and we'll be out of the game. We should hide first, so when the game starts we can get the jump on them.”
    She placed a finger to her lips. What he was saying did make sense. If they couldn't find her and the geezer, then they'd probably be safer, and have a chance at taking someone's else's headband. She wanted to get Yu's first, so she could rub it in his stupid face. Him and all the other boys. “Okay. Let's go find a good spot to hide.”
    The two had taken to the forest and she had climbed one of the trees with Samson on the ground hidden in a bush next to it. He looked really funny and small from where she was, but she didn't laugh in case someone heard her. At the sound of the horn she immediately prepared herself and searched the area for anybody that was nearby.

    There was supposed to be more but I wound up bedridden with a cold. Still am kinda sick so the updates will be slow for the next week, but once I'm back in order hopefully I'll be able to improve on the amount of content there is. Might not be anything on Monday tbh since things'll be a bit busy around here, but I'll try and keep you posted regardless. Maybe I'll discuss something in place of it.
    Nevertheless, with these pages we finally begin the event. Didn't go too into detail with the whole fishing thing because well...doesn't really contribute much to the story, even if it does feel rather rushed. I'm still considering when I'll swap perspectives for the characters, so it won't likely be per event, or uniform at all for that matter. I'm probably just being fickle about it but we'll see how it goes. I'll likely decide depending on how fitting the scene would seem for the character, and who would benefit more from sharing their side of it. That aside, Kasumi's a great kid, just a strange one lol. Though Bane could have and likely did teach her about hugging, she likely just chose to lick people just 'cause he did it. Like wolf familiar like master? I've considered whether she would do it to him or not...I mean, I don't think either of them want his fur on their tongues. Only one of them has hands though, so you know how it goes lol.
    The scene this time around was a bit slow, but I felt that it fit Samson's side of things, and will be the catalyst for what urges her to wonder who Julius and Rosetta are during USSR and much later on. It won't likely come up often until her arc, but it'll definitely be a major part of it. Hopefully this scene doesn't undermine the following too much. Considering what had occurred, I think it'll flow better since they would be closer, and she'd be more willing to speak with him frankly since he had done the same at her request.

    Also you know, I was thinking of making one of the first place prizes a Brownie, because I mean, who doesn't love Brownies? I'd thought about utilizing that to make a joke about Vanir and Skuld but that's happened already and those two had their share of being in the spotlight already. Since they're supporting cast in Innocent I don't want them to bleed too much into this one, and vice versa. Though Samson is a main character here...for reasons. I shouldn't be allowed to write this lol. Still, let's get right to it shall we? Next post I'll talk a bit about the combat changes to come based around Su and her contractor.
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Fri Sep 12, 2014 3:49 pm

    So you've been with me long enough to see how everything's evolved time and again, in some desperate attempt to make a coherent battle system throughout the story. The next step is gonna be a big one, because it's gonna be solidifying a lot of characters into varying roles, depending on their weapons, their teachings, and in a sense their teachers. Leaving aside those who are self-taught.
    I'd given the fact that some characters would naturally outshine others due to their inherent talent(Ex. The God's Governors, TJ, Peorth, Iris or Choen Palm), and in this felt like the others would just kinda fall flat if any of those guys were in the same battle as they were. Most of the time, this held true. On the other hand, the difference was both intentional and necessary, like the first fight at Kimara between TJ and Trini. As things further and the cast expands I want to showcase the abilities of those who had risen to a heroic status despite not being born of a legendary status lineage or being born with powers beyond that of the ordinary Cerebian(I'd say Human but there aren't too many who actually fight). Samson and Reina are gonna be two perfect examples of that, and I'll spoil a little bit of Samson's here since I'll be talking about Kasumi, but I won't tell you how Reina fights just yet! It's gonna be pretty cool though lol. You'll find out about that if I ever finish USSR. Now, let's get right to it.

    I'll be addressing Kasumi and the changes you'll see in USSR, which will follow into Sanc so expect some pretty big spoilers. TJ's gonna be way worse though lol.
    Come on and slam:
    So since the beginning she's been all over the place. Essentially, that's not changing, since her style ranges depending on what powers TJ utilizes. Since the abilities she has access to are typically out of her control because they depend heavily on TJ's current state, she switches fighting styles to accompany his form.
    So let's break it down into 4 categories, one per each Frequency transformation and one for a non-transformed Su.
    Don't call her normal:
    Without changing at all, Su would have access to her usual Earth magic and TJ's water magic. If you were to say which side of the spectrum she would fall under in terms of strength/magic she would be at a perfect neutral. In this, her strengths could vary, but as she had before she would likely remain as a close range fighter. She'd likely use water or earth magic to close the distance on her enemies and go in for an assassination, alike to that in Sanc's most recent chapter. Per usual, she'd use her dagger for most fights and rely less heavily on magic, unless she was pitted against an armored target. Creatures, and anything humanoid that'd be an easy kill would likely be things she opts out for and aims to assassinate. Those who would be able to resist it in some way or another she would use throws and grapples to pin them down and assist allies in getting in attacks or killing blows. A favourite of hers is the suplex. She got one first-hand courtesy of a certain geezer, and learns a lot of others to crush and weaken any she feels like putting the hurt on. Perhaps if they had a weak point that it'd take more than one person to reach, she'd engage first to open the path? Against greater Agasura, and those who would easily resist such tactics she'd count more on her magic, likely focusing on a more defensive stance rather than offensive.
    Too girly to be a manlet:
    Alike to TJ, she becomes much stronger physically in the Tyrant of the Maelstrom form, and all those that succeed it. With her enhanced speed and strength she'd kill her targets through sheer brute force. She wouldn't utilize her dagger since she'd have no need for it, as neither she nor TJ had a use for their weapons. I mean, claws. Those things are sharp as hell. Why settle for one pointy weapon when you can have 10? So like this, she wouldn't really use as much magic since it's not really an Agasura's strong point. Or at least, not that one. Closing distances is easy, so picking off both heavily armored and lightly armored targets would be easy for her. Like she had before in ch.19 this would give her access to much more difficult techniques, like the izuna drop. She could normally do it, but getting to an incredible height and surviving the fall are not things that can be done easily, so this would make it much easier for her. She likely would use other grapples, solely for the purpose of keeping her targets from resisting while she either kills them immediately or slowly. Maybe her goal isn't to kill them? Breaking bones and whatnot would be a simple task. As before, she'd have a small variety of skills that she could use to take out enemies, but she won't likely be able to use them depending on the scenario.
    So taking a look back, I recalled the difference between their abilities when the seals first came undone in ch.18 and what they had used in ch.19. You probably know already but the reason for the difference is because one of them, TJ had more control over himself, and in the same vein his powers. The first stage of the Chaos Frequency has a very small pool of skills to use, and it had even less so because it was incomplete. Regardless of whether or not Choen Palm finished the incantation, it was going to fail since she didn't have an established contract. I'll save the details of that for his portion. But anyway, once again the two are very dependent on each other's strengths and weaknesses for them to fight well.
    Ninja? Mage? Why not have both?:
    When utilizing the Neutrality Frequency, Su's ability in the Arcane Arts skyrockets, which allows her to access and utilize phantasm magic. I'd considered making this one of her usual specialties, but if she could do it all the time she'd have little use for the Neutrality Frequency outside of a wardrobe change. Here she gets a boost in both her physical and magical abilities, but just a small one. It's split between the two, essentially. In doing this, her garb and her tools are considered a part of her, or a part of a set of artifacts and can be utilized and replenished upon activating the Frequency again. Realistically this could be considered a tacky explanation for it, but that can't be helped at times lol. MORE IMPORTANTLY, with this she uses deception to trap and trick her enemies into falling into her own or the spells of her allies. With this, she could also get the upper hand on large groups of enemies and easily eliminate them with any of the weapons at her disposal. As for Freq, though she was able to use water magic at the time(she learned a lot surprisingly early, you just don't often get to see all that she can do. Guess who taught her?) she had mainly utilized earth magic. Later on you might see her swapping between the two, and using other kinds of phantasm magic.
    And last but not least:
    Now with 100% more magical girl:
    In this respect TJ and Su share a common power up. She loses out on physical ability, but has sharply enhanced magical ability, and like TJ can use augmentation and other powerful support spells to increase her damage output and that of those around her. Unlike TJ though, she won't. She prefers being a fighter, after all. Like you saw in the final chapter she'll have incredible spell prowess while utilizing the Order Frequency, and access to a myriad of Light based spells. She can still use both water and earth, but they'll get outshined(lol) by her potential with light magic. In this regard, and in spite of the final chapter(she used a lot of physical attacks, surprisingly, but she certainly was helpful) she'll be very bursty. I think I'll stick with the idea of her remaining as a close range fighter since it's been her style throughout, but instead of sticking to her opponent she would get in quickly, hit 'em hard and follow it up with close-mid range spells. With this, not only will she be able to keep enemies away from TJ, but she'll also be able to keep them at two different ranges, and can change tactics to fit the scenario.
    This is a big USSR spoiler, technically, and a definite Sanc spoiler, especially for Su's arc and technically for Vanir? I guess? Read at your own discretion.
    Little Red! No!:
    So TJ isn't the only one who can do some cool summoning stuff. Well maybe he is but it doesn't mean that Su's gonna be ignored lol. I haven't exactly decided when, or how, but later on during Su's arc, after they return to Hanamah I intend for her to find Julius' ring. Upon reclaiming it, she'll summon Bane back to her. He won't be able to fight by her side as he did before, since he was felled during the attack on Hanamah, but Vanir will teach her how to become something akin to an Infuser, the sub-class of the Summoner from his world. With bane's spirit she'll summon him again to borrow his powers and take on a half-beast form. If need be, she would have the ability to become a full beast, still allowing for her to use earth magic to a certain degree as he had, while making her a deadly fighter. Claws and fangs. Not many people would expect a girl to suddenly turn into a wolf and maul them, but then she does, and then they know, and then they're dead. This is a plot point that I've considered as ending stuff, but I do plan on expanding on it later on, and further after the story ends. Won't tell you how though <3. That's gonna remain a secret. Nevertheless, this will be one of the few things that will physically change her. I've considered the possibility that it should be a permanent change, as that is how Infusers are, but rather than having an initial look, she'll likely take up the ears, tail, and possibly whiskers. I don't think the eyes differ much between humans and wolves so that won't be any different, but if it IS permanent, she'll gain enhanced senses and physical abilities along with it. To put it bluntly, Su is gonna be fast as fk. Of all the characters she'll top the charts. Of course, alike to how TJ has the Invocations, this will remain as something unique to her.

    Take this all with a grain of salt okay? Still tossing ideas around a bit so it could be fixed up a bit later on. Something I forgot to include is that both will be able to use Light spells so long as they're not utilizing the Chaos Frequency, they just won't have as much variety without Order. So basically, the norm isn't all bad! You can have it all. Now let's move on to TJ shall we?

    And welcome to the jam:
    If you ever happen to play Fire Emblem Awakening, then you'll understand when I say TJ is the Donnel of Frequency. He's basically the equivalent of a villager at the start, and needs a lot of assistance to get to that point where he just goes ham. Now if Donnel could just wield Falchion...
    ANYWAY. TJ's roles were better defined, most of the time, but I felt that his identity was a tad shaky. Essentially I'll be keeping most of it intact, but this time around I want to shift him more into a support role while keeping his incredible ability. He was always really strong, and still will be, but I don't want him to constantly be on the front line, or constantly off of it. With the coming changes his strength will be shifted into those around him, making him for a much better supporting character who can take the front lines if need be, but is at his best when providing aid. It'll also improve the synergy between him and Su a bit, since she'll be the close range fighter of the two.
    Definitive abilities. Questionable gender:
    TJ without any of the Frequencies activated will be his usual self; he'll swap between mainly water and light magic, casting from mid-long range with sort of pokey spells while providing a variety of support spells in the form of strength, increased magical ability, defense, and magic defense. There might be others, but those will come later. With Sanc I've tried easing him into the Bard role, so he'll be learning new songs as he regains his memories and using those to fight. With this, he'll remain a frequently immobile target so he'll often be away from the fight, but his role will shift as the fights play out and he may come and go throughout battles to provide more damage or aid as necessary. There'll be the occasions where he hits things with his guitar too, because old habits die hard lol.
    He mad:
    The Chaos Frequency is a very unique case. The first time TJ had technically used it was in ch.18, though not intentionally. Since it was activated as a defense mechanism to save him from getting "killed", or at least what his body perceived as death, he straddled the line between losing control of his body to Adonis and retaining it for himself. In doing so, he became a mix of the two. What you saw there will pretty much be what he'll be like while the Frequency is in effect, just not as evil. And no, he won't try to kill his allies. Physically, he won't change either. That only happens after the contracts are completed. Just the eyes. Sexy crimson eyes oh yes. Just like Su, he'll have stronger physical capabilities, sacrificing his magical ability to become more of a fighter. His greatest strength will be close range spells, and of course pure brute force. Both he and Su will have spells to enhance themselves, like the use of claws, increased physical strength, speed, or ability(such as jumps) and spells that could easily bring down weaker enemies. Really strong in close ranges, much weaker anywhere else.
    Unlike Su though, TJ has the seals upon him which have become weakened, and in doing so his mental state can be manipulated to force out the Chaos Frequency, and push him toward becoming the incomplete TotM once more. So Choen Palm didn't fail in her entirety. In doing this, both he and Su would change shape again, and their fighting style also. In this form, TJ's magic ability would plummet further, but his physical ability will rise. In the same vein, his cognition would be weaker, and due to it his ability to fight would be limited. Based on this, he would either rely on his instinct or on Su as a guide, and would target enemies accordingly. Or what appears to be enemies. This, though, can be tampered with greatly. If I were to break it down into two categories, let's name them Agony and Rage for the time being. The former of the two, would serve more as a basin; the more it builds up, the deeper the basin, and thus will increase the length, and effect of his being in that form. Through this, the duration could be increased and the time or effort required to break the effect will also. Rage on the other hand would be for releasing the seals, and in doing so not only increase the risk of bringing forth Adonis, but also subsequent transformations of this type. Though in the same respect, he'll grow stronger due to it, while his dependency on his instincts/Su will increase. To maintain the Agasuric tendencies, he'll need to feed on more souls and more frequently.
    On another note, the use of spells such as Asmodeus' Vengeance can't be used. The reason Su can do it is because
    Mama's watching:
    She's contracted Lady Amae
    and knows a looot more than TJ does. Typically neither could use spells of that caliber until TJ had completed his third transformation, but she did it and paid the price. Multiple times. Risky.

    Always was a bad mage:
    Moving on to the Neutrality Frequency, alike to Su he gains strength in both sides of the spectrum, but he's a Bard so he can't make use of that much lol. Unless he had a death wish. So, rather than trying to go ham with a guitar he becomes really proficient in the Arcane Arts, so you'll see him utilizing both Earth and Water like a pro. In the most recent Sanc, that was a bit of an introduction to it. I'd considered how I'd make the Neutrality Frequency useful to him, and in this it really makes up for his weakness. Since he didn't learn Earth magic like Su had Water, he goes purely off of his memories of the past, and brings out things most people would not see in that time period, save for a God's Governor perhaps. With it he'll become more able during the use of phantasm magic, and it'll make up for Su's weakness when taking down large groups of enemies. So pretty much with this, he'll do mid-long range large scale spells. It'd take time to prepare them, but they'll certainly be effective when he can complete them. Su's magic can keep enemies busy and him out of harm's way. If you need a good refresher on the kinds of things the two could do, you could reread Freya again, or ch.18 of Freq. As time goes on you're gonna see a better variety of things from the two of them when they do use it.

    I dub thee Molly:
    The Messenger of Light is gonna be the one to see the biggest change, since after all TJ completed his contract with Peorth. Just as before, and alike to Su he'll become a magic specialist. He'll have access to many of the Light spells, and of course his wings that don't work the way they should. It's a crime, honestly! Time to get bigger wings. Anyway, just as before one of the two will have access to a greater power and the wings that accompany it, and also the sparkly white hair and blue eyes. Through this, the two would sacrifice that to the one who could utilize it better, or may find the need for it during the battle. Reason being? The contract is meant to be used between two people, and if they tried to split it among the three Peorth wouldn't be able to manage it. Anyway, not too much change will be seen from the final chapter, since it was pretty solid, all in all. It had the right idea; that's just for the base idea though, I'll go into the big changes after. Though I do have to admit, in that battle TJ was really up in the front lines. I don't think he'll do that as often since he was the only one who could rival Choen Palm, so expect him to be a back-line caster/support as he should be. His dreams of carrying the team are too mighty for his own good. The big change? RADIANCE IS GETTING NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERFED. It's seriously OP as balls. I realize this, and thankfully I covered my behind on that one. It'll remain as is, but later on it'll likely not last as long, or won't seem like it does, since so long as the spell is in effect it'll constantly drain their mana. All of them, for one person.

    Jokes aside, these are gonna be the major changes for TJ. I'll go back and add Su's once I'm done here. Fair warning though, these are gonna be spoilers for what's to come, so stuff you don't know yet. Essentially ideas that are still in the works, but will very likely be finalized as time goes on.
    It's not necromancy if you say surprise:
    During A moment in time you got a glimpse of TJ summoning Memorius Sanctum. This is gonna be a regular thing, because what he sees and what Peorth sees differ depending on who's possession the book is in. TJ sees it as a grimoire, and can only summon it when in the MoL form. Not only would he find spells but also his memories chronicled, and the spells he can recall due to gathering his memories through the Iris Stones. That aside, the pages he'll gather from the Sinful Seven will contain three very important things. One, a memory of the far past, two, a song invocation for one of the Sinful Seven, and three, a song invocation for one of the Seven Saints, also known as Peorth's Keruz. In doing this, he would shift from being a support caster to a temporary summoner, giving him access to the abilities of one of the Vices briefly, or one of the Saints, depending on which he invokes. Talk about megaman syndrome JHC.
    Sing it sister:
    So in regards to summoning, TJ would essentially completely immobilize himself in using an invocation. Again, let's use these names for the sake of clarity. To borrow power would be a Manipulation, summon a friend for a single attack or defensive skill would be Command and to summon a friend would be Synergize. These are the three invocations. With me so far? First I'll tell you about Synergize. The invocation would basically allow TJ to recall one of the Einherjar to fight in his stead. Those who you saw in his memories, and Kooh/Freya will be able to be called. In the case of the latter, that which is not on the battlefield at the moment can be summoned. They don't talk unless summoned for a command, so there won't be a glorious reunion or anything. Sorry! Anyway, while TJ has them on the battlefield he'll remain stuck in place, playing his guitar and singing the lyrics to the invocation, and so long as he isn't interrupted or silenced, his ally can remain on the battlefield. Naturally, he's more vulnerable in this state since he's controlling them, so you can push him and that badass undead warrior will disappear lol. He can only do this once per battle. Kooh can talk though, Freya can't. Wonder Twin powers aren't strong enough to deny death their lack of a right to speak.
    This could be offensive:
    The Command invocation is not a song, but a note and a request. If he requested that his ally attack, they will do a powerful spell or stance to help him in battle, and it could be a multi-layered one, so it won't have to end right off the bat. If he requested their aid in protecting him, depending on who it is he'll obtain a type of buff or they'll use a skill that could keep him safe. For example, if he called upon Straw Hat, he'd use his sword's ability to make TJ untargetable temporarily. What a cheater! The amount of commands he could use will likely be limited to 3, since it's half of 7 and 7 is op as balls. They'll even throw out a cool one-liner fitting of their character just 'cause. That'll be one of the only times they speak. Might do the same for the Synergize, might not. I've also considered the possibility of having him summon the original Seven Saints, those that fought under Lady Amae during the first war against Asmodeus.
    It's like finding your doppleganger, but they want you dead:
    The Manipulation invocation is like a command invocation, in the way that it's performed but not the way it works. Rather than summoning an ally, TJ uses another part of himself, which would be the Vices that he defeats during his journey. They're all born from him, so they share most of the same traits, with their own unique looks. Each of them will have a power specific to them which will enhance their ability greatly, and by defeating them he can utilize it also. These will also, be befitting of their name(in other words the vice). I don't think he'll be limited to the MoL form for this one, since the Vices are born from his Agasuric nature. This one won't likely be as limited as the others, but he won't be able to use them more than once in the same battle.
    With that said, to summon each he'll need to know their true name. For the Vices, an invocation like those in Frequency won't suffice, and for the original saints he'll need to know theirs also. As for the others, if he can find their names at all, he can call upon them. He's got some homework to do lol.

    And that's that for those two. As the main characters they're seeing the biggest changes, and hopefully they work as the story evolves. Don't know what I'll come around for next time, but hopefully I'll have something worthwhile to see. Might not be back Monday, but expect something come Friday. Until then!
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Sat Sep 27, 2014 4:41 pm

    Pages 72-80:
    She stole a glance at Samson who met hers with one of his own, and gave her a nod to begin. He immediately started to run and she followed his lead from the treetops.
    The two had come up with quite a genius plan, if she did say so herself. Samson would lead the way, baiting out anyone who was nearby into thinking his Hunter was caught, and she would strike from above and claim their headbands. They'd never see her coming. As she moved from branch to branch, she stole the occasional glimpse at him as he shuffled by the trees and dashed from one to the next, carefully looking around in case he was going to get spotted first. She couldn't help but wonder if that was what it felt like to be an adventurer. She set the thought aside as she caught a glimpse of Marty and his Dad, and she whistled to get Samson's attention. He looked to her and she pointed to them as they made their way towards the sound, being sure to take cover behind trees and bushes as they approached. Samson nodded and dashed out from where he stood.
    “I found one Dad! Let's get him!” Marty shouted.
    Su's ears perked as she leapt from the branch she stood and grabbed hold on to a lower one, swinging back up onto it before circling around the tree and running across another. Marty and his Dad broke out into a sprint as they followed Samson and Su aligned herself with him as he circled around a group of trees and headed in her direction. She leapt down from branch to branch carefully remaining hidden before taking her position a few feet above the ground level; she remained crouch down in a bundle of leaves to decrease the chance she'd be spotted and lay in wait. With only moments to spare before Samson passed under her she turned her body over and hung from the branch with her legs, pulling off Marty's Dad's headband and dropping to the floor as he realized it was gone. Before he could turn around and see her she broke out into a sprint and leapt towards Marty, ripping his headband off as she tumbled into a nearby bush.
    She popped out waving the headband and cheering to which Samson approached and gave her an approving nod. “Not bad kiddo! Had you used those moves back then I'd have been in for a real surprise!” She grinned proudly at his praise.
    “You're a cheater!” Marty hissed with a sullen expression. She stuck her tongue out and blew a raspberry while pulling down her left eye.
    “They got us fair and square Marty. Let's head back to town.” His Dad told him before leading him away. The boy looked back and glared at her, but it just made her victory all the sweeter.
    “Let's do it again geezer!” She excitedly said before handing him the headbands.
    “Sure. Just be careful that you don't fall from the trees. You were pretty high up there.” He told her.
    “I won't...” She muttered. She was a big girl. She'd be fine.

    Su took her place in the trees again and Samson remained on the ground, cautiously moving about this time around. She searched the area as best as she could but she couldn't find anyone hiding nearby. He began to move about a bit faster and she found it a little more difficult to keep up because of the way the trees had grown. The branches were really far apart so she would have to move between at least two trees to get back to being near him. He did notice though. He'd steal glances at her to see where she was with that worried look he always had, but she'd wave him off and he'd go on. She lost sight of him for a moment and heard a terrible bird call impression. It was a sign he had spotted someone. She quickly followed after him and hid behind a tree's trunk, peeking out to see who was coming. She squinted and caught a glimpse of Hope's familiar violet ponytail in the distance, and the adult walking next to her her dad. She scrambled down the tree and glimpsed around the trunk to see that Hope wore the Hunter headband and her parent the other, and she set her sights on the young girl first. Another easy target.
    She immediately shot her glance towards Samson who, oddly enough, was squawking rather loudly while doing some kind of jig, probably to get their attention. Su covered her mouth as she held back a laugh and took her place on one of the branches. She laid prone against it and watched carefully as Hope and her partner passed by underneath, cautiously approaching him.
    “Do you think he knows we're here Dad? He's acting really weird,” Hope whispered to him.
    Russel laughed and shook his head. “Samson? No way. He always does that kind of thing. His partner probably got caught already so he's trying to scare us off by playing bait.” Little did they know she was waiting for them.
    As they neared Samson he stopped his squawking and looked on uneasily. Both Hope and Russel had hidden behind trees that surrounded the adventurer, and Su waited above them for one of the two to make the first move. Hope was much too close to the tree for her to get down and get her headband easily, so she decided to wait it out.
    “Kid?” Samson asked before approaching Russel. She gasped, and they moved.
    Hope broke out into a sprint and leapt onto Samson's back as Russel appeared from behind the tree and ran past in a blur to another. Su leapt down from where she stood and burst out into a sprint as Samson desperately flailed in an attempt to remove Hope's hold on him and prevent her from taking his headband.
    “Get down geezer!” Su shouted as she ran towards the puzzled looking adventurer. He fell to his knees and she ran directly at him, the panic stricken expression of his growing more intimidated by the second. She placed a foot to his thigh and leapt from it to his face. Using his face as a foothold she jumped above his head as he leaned back and pulled Hope's headband off. “Got it!” She searched the area and caught a glimpse of Russel before he could take cover behind a tree and made her way towards it.
    “Oh crap.” The man muttered before he immediately broke out into a sprint.
    “Stop running mister!” Su shouted as she chased after him. He had really long legs, and it made it really hard for her to keep up with him. After chasing him a fair distance she managed to reach out and grab hold of the back of his shirt, slowing him down as she stopped running and eventually tiring him out.
    “Alright...I give. Here, you win.” He laughed before removing his headband and handing it to her.
    She held it up proudly for a moment before following him back to his daughter and the geezer.
    “Alright Hope, let's head back with what we've got.” He told her before he took her hand and the two walked off.
    Samson was still knelt down except he had his hands on his face.
    “Hey geezer, you okay?” Su asked hiding her hands behind her back. He removed his hands and turned to her, and she burst out into laughter. The footprint of her shoe was embedded in dirt on his face.
    “Was that necessary?” He asked before he wiped his face with his sleeve.
    She shifted on the balls of her heels and looked away. “No...”
    “Hmm...” He blinked. “Are you sorry?”
    “Yes...” She was, mostly. It did feel really cool though; at least she thought so.
    He got to his feet and placed a hand to her head. “That's all I need to hear. Let's go find another target shall we?”
    “Okay!” She beamed. She followed after him as he went on. “Hey geezer.”
    “Yeah?”
    “Why did you make funny bird noises and dance?”
    “That's because-” He paused. She knew the reason why, she just wanted to hear it from him. Yuta and the others always said it was because he had to be the 'bait' for the hunting crew, and Yuta's dad said he should do that. He laughed quietly as he rubbed the back of his neck. “I lost sight of you. Tried to get your attention the only way I knew how.”
    She didn't expect that. She looked at her shoes as she grabbed a part of his shirt and muttered, “I'll stay close so you don't have to be scared.”
    He smiled. “That'd be a big help kiddo.”

    Shortly after she was back up in the trees and he stood nearby below. She stole a glance down at him and he looked up to her, giving her a thumbs-up. Her lips curled into a tiny smile before she looked onward. Where would he be without her? She looked around and caught sight of someone approaching them quickly. She whistled to get his attention and pointed in the direction of the person speeding toward him. He stole a glance at them and immediately began running as they neared.
    Samson looked back and Su looked on in awe at the hulking figure that hunted down her partner. Without a doubt, it was the boss hunter Though he was a giant, he was really light on his feet. She hadn't seen the geezer run like that since he tried to chase after her when they first met.
    “Samson make this easy on yourself and gimme that headband! Boss' orders!” Cruz shouted as he bolted after his occasional subordinate.
    “In the field your orders are law! In this competition? I'm gonna run like a coward for as long as it takes!” Samson cried as he continued on.
    He needed to run quite the distance before coming full circle but Su carefully watched for him as he returned and signalled him. It was hard for her to see but it looked like he glanced at her and turned slightly before he made his way towards her. She got into position and awaited the boss hunter's arrival. Just as before she hung from the tree and took a swing at his headband but missed him. She looked startled as he rose to his full height again and laughed.
    “So that was your plan huh? You're a pretty tricky one kid! Maybe you should join the Hunters once you've grown up a bit,” He said.
    She pouted before she dropped from the tree and glared up at him. That headband would be hers whether he liked it or not. She eyed his headband for a moment, shifted her gaze to his grin and then took a double-take. His headband was white.
    “You're a fake!” She shouted and pointed at him.
    “Ahh you caught me.” He chuckled as he rubbed the back of his neck.
    If he wore the white headband, his partner had to be around somewhere. Seconds after she turned her head to find his daughter she caught a glimpse of a hand straying past her head as she fell back in pure surprise. She scrambled to her feet and stepped back away from the young silver-haired girl. Clad in a light brown coat and black pants she turned around and took a stance that said she was ready to pounce on her prey. Marie, the younger of Cruz' kids was one of the rudest(and most popular) among all the girls. She had an older brother but Su hadn't seen him yet so he didn't matter. Cruz leaned over and fixed the black headband she wore in her short hair and the two grinned at each other.
    “Go get her tiger! Show her what we're made of.” He told her.
    “Leave it to me Dad!” She answered enthusiastically. Like Su would be caught by her of all people.
    The geezer peeked out from behind a tree and shouted, “Put them in their place kiddo! I'm behind you a hundred percent!” She laughed quietly at his cheering.
    “Watch me!” She answered preparing herself in turn.
    Su took the first step, charging towards Marie and lunging at her. She rapidly grabbed at the headband but missed as Marie backed away. Out of frustration and at seeing an opportunity she jumped at Cruz and reached for his headband but failed as he grabbed her waist and put her back on the ground.
    “A worthy attempt,” He consoled her. She glared at him for a moment before jumping aside at a lunge from Marie. She turned on her heel and reached out in turn but grabbed air when the girl stepped forward and turned around coming back at her. Su leapt back and started running backwards as Marie rapidly approached taking swings in turn. She hit a tree and came to a halt, glancing back to see where she could run and immediately turning her gaze to her attacker. Moments before she could grab her headband Su dropped to the ground and Marie's hand grazed the tree's bark.
    There was a slight pause as Su looked up to the girl and Marie remained frozen in place, then the silence was broken as tears welled up in her eyes and she muttered, “Ow...”
    Taking the opportunity Su scrambled out from beside her and pulled the headband from her target. She grinned victoriously, but her celebration remained short due to Cruz storming towards her. He couldn't take her headband, but the way he rapidly approached still scared her stiff. Samson ran by Marie and scooped her up into his arms before Cruz did the same thing with his daughter and ran off into the distance.
    “Didn't you promise me you'd be careful?” He asked gazing down at her.
    She pursed her lips. “I promised I wouldn't fall from trees. I didn't think the hunter boss would try to squish me,” She answered.
    Samson laughed. “You'd be surprised at what Cruz would do for his daughter. He can be a tad overprotective, but he's very protective of the hunters also. I've only been with them a few months and even I know that the boss would sooner lose an arm than let any of his men or women get a scratch on their head.”
    “Sounds like Bane.”
    “Yeah he is a lot like...” The geezer looked oddly at her for a few moments before he went on,  “Bane, doesn't he?” He seemed to be looking at her ear. It was probably the first time he saw her earring. Most kids didn't have them and her mom didn't like it, but her parents let her keep it anyway. Bane always told her that it was important, so she was careful not to lose it.
    “You can put me down now geezer.”
    “Right, sorry.” He placed her down and she dusted off her dress. “The hunter boss got away.”
    “Yeah he did.” Samson rubbed his beard thoughtfully. “Well that's alright. Chasing him isn't easy after all. He's hard to catch as is, he's harder to catch when his kids are involved.” Did she ever know it.

    This time around Su decided to stay by Samson's side, both to save a bit of energy and to regain some, after constantly climbing the trees and chasing down possible targets. They carefully searched the area as they moved on and it all seemed rather quiet. Su wanted to ask if the game had ended and they just didn't know yet, but she recalled that they would've signalled the game was over when it was over. There were still players, and time wasn't up yet. She glanced up to the trees and watched the branches in case anyone was hiding in them, but no matter where she looked all she could see were trees and bushes.
    “Where is everybody?” She asked looking up and holding her hand out to block the sun shining down on her.
    “I dunno kiddo. But we should be on our guard. I don't think that we were the only ones who had a few tricks up our sleeve. Hope, Russel, Cruz and Marie had plans of their own. Some of the other guys in the hunting squad are in this game, so keep your eyes peeled.”
    “What do you think they'll do?” She glanced at him.
    He crossed his arms. “Maybe they'll come from the tree branches like we did? Sometimes we do that to throw a net down on our target when hunting.” He blinked. “Before you consider taking up Cruz on that offer, be sure you have the proper training, and are at least versed in one to two weapons.”
    She laughed. “You and Bane worry too much.”
    He grinned. “For good reason! What the-” The geezer suddenly looked startled and Su looked at him with a puzzled expression.
    “What is i-” She leapt back as Mr. Kazuto jumped out of a bush and swiped the geezer's headband. “Geezer!” She shouted.
    “Piece of cake!” Yuta snickered before emerging from the bush after his Dad.
    “Like flies in a web,” Mr. Kazuto snickered.
    “That's playing dirty!” Su growled. Of course it had to be Yuta and his dad, and now of all times and of course they'd resort to cheap tactics like that. She and the geezer didn't have to hold down the others to get their headbands. They played fair.
    “I don't know what you're talking about.” Mr. Kazuto replied with a shrug. “He was caught, we got his headband and we didn't harm a hair on his head. Now why don't you be a good little girl and hand over yours?”
    “Over my dead body, cheaters!”
    Samson rubbed the back of his neck and chuckled. “It's alright kiddo. They caught me off guard, and I lost my headband. I might be out of the game but you can still win it, so do your best okay? And don't take Vance lightly.”
    She frowned. “I'll win.”
    “You're not beating us,” Yuta sneered.
    “I'm gonna make you eat those words!” Yuta let go of Samson and he took his leave, gazing back longingly as the trio began.
    She looked to Yuta and immediately to his dad and noticed the red headband. She could easily outsmart Yuta because the two had fought so many times she knew the way he moved, but she didn't know much about Mr. Kazuto. All she knew was that he was a gunslinger in the hunting crew.
    “I'd love to see you try little girl.” Mr. Kazuto added and she glared at him. He leaned towards her and suddenly broke out into a sprint.
    She leapt back and though he was coming right at her he stepped to her side and brought his hand behind her.  She crouched down and narrowly avoided him, then slipped out from his reach before stealing a glance at him and then at Yuta who waited ahead to hold her still. She brought one foot down and came to a grinding halt, then immediately turned in another direction and soon met Mr. Kazuto who ran side by side with her.
    “You can't run away forever,” He said.
    She put a foot down and forcefully stopped herself, then leapt back and reached out for his headband as she ascended. He turned around and her hand nearly grazed the edge of the ribbon but just could not reach as he moved forward and her back. She glimpsed back at the approaching Yuta and decided to press forward, instead taking her chances with the father than the son. He was much taller than she was, so he would have to reach much lower to get her headband. If she could get him then, afterwards, or get Yuta on her way back she could make it a one on one. Only one of them could get her out of the game. As the two neared each other she leapt and reached out to the headband again, her hand only meeting his chest and his brushing the top of her head. She hit the ground and spun on her heels, following in his wake as Yuta approached his parent's side. Hot on Mr. Kazuto's heels Su leapt out in front of Yuta causing him to reel back in an attempt to stop. She crouched down after taking a step to his side, and the top of his arm brushed her head as she rose following in his wake to pull the headband from his head.
    “One down!” She shouted holding the headband in the air. “In your face Yuta!”
    He clicked his tongue at her before he began to walk away. He looked back but once to say, “Make her pay Dad!”
    “Oh she will. Don't you worry,” He answered coolly. She'd like to see him try!
    If the geezer was there, he would tell her the best thing to do would be to get the jump on them first. Like with Cruz, Mr. Kazuto may have been too fast for her to chase after, so if she could get him to come to her and catch him off guard she may be able to get his headband. With that thought in mind she immediately dashed away from him and took cover by a tree. He'd be in for a surprise. The moment she heard him closing in on her she reached out to his head's height and grabbed at nothing as the man came rolling past. He immediately got to his feet and lunged forward while she leapt to the side and hit the ground hard. He clicked his tongue as she scrambled to her feet and started running with him following closely behind. She circled a tree and came around for him, but he too awaited her arrival. She stopped and started running back as he grabbed at her but failed to catch her.
    “This game is growing old fast. Surrender your headband and join Samson in defeat.” Mr. Kazuto insisted as he continued after her.
    “No! You can give up yours and join that snot Yuta in the loser's circle!” She growled in response before turning around and running. He looked really angry about that comment.
    He chased her with renewed fervor and he quickly closed the gap as she leapt over a nearby bush and ran past trees, turning every which way while he quickly followed behind. She took cover behind a tree and jumped out as he somersaulted by. As he rose to his feet again she reached out for his headband and he hers, the feel of his hand grazing her hair sending chills up her spine. She wouldn't lose this. Bane always told her that if she was ever in danger and he was not there to protect her, that she should use her acrobatic talent to get to a vantage point. When she asked him to explain it more clearly, he said that using the trees would help her in a pinch. As she backed away from Mr. Kazuto and he began his pursuit again, she scoured the area for a reasonable place to try out something she'd been practicing in case of emergencies. Bane didn't like it too much, but he believed that she would be able to get the hang of it with practice. When she spotted a tree with a fair amount of space surrounding it, she ran towards it and scrambled up as if she was going to climb it. Mr. Kazuto immediately prepared to do the same as she had, and in that she saw her chance. She leapt from the tree and as she came down pulled the headband from his head. Though following it she fumbled on the landing and fell face-first into the ground.
    After peeling herself off of the grass she turned to him and grinned. “Looks like I got you after all!” She waved the headband victoriously and he scowled at her.
    “Bask in your small victory all you want. Know that there are still four more events, and you won't win them so easily.” Mr. Kazuto hissed.
    “Loser!” She made faces as he skulked off to the village. She looked down at the headband and clenched her fist. She was gonna win this event with all her might, and show the geezer how able she was. Then when the time comes she would show him her skills and he'd teach her a ton of things. She smiled proudly. She sure showed those jerks. She deserved a pat on the back.

    Shortly after catching Blake Su heard the sound of a horn and she assumed that meant the event was over. With her headbands in hand she made her way back to the village to bring them in and upon arrival she found the geezer looking around for her.
    “Hey there you are, headband and all. You really made it to the end huh?” He asked as he crossed his arms.
    “Yep! I even got Yuta and his dad!” She excitedly answered offering him all the headbands she had claimed before the horn was signalled.
    “Heh I saw! The look on Vance's face was absolutely priceless. Way to go kiddo.” He ruffled her hair and she grinned. She'd been waiting to hear those words. “Let's go get these tallied up. I think we might just take first place with this much.”
    Samson brought the headbands to Desirae and she accepted them graciously. “Your contribution has been received. We'll have them counted and find out how many points your team has earned by the end of the next event,” She told him.
    “Thanks a lot,” He replied before turning to her.
    “The Camp Assembly event will be beginning after a short break. Please enjoy the festival in the meantime.”
    He gave Su a shrug and she grinned. “Well, why not right?”
    He lead the way and she followed after him glancing around at the stalls and whatnot that were set up around the village. The adults had put them together and the kids helped to paint the signs on top of them. She did the candied apple sign and wanted to see the finished product, and get a candied apple while she was at it.
    “Where do you wanna go first?” He asked.
    “Candie-” She paused catching a glimpse of the apple bobbing station and changed her mind, immediately pointing to it. “Let's go there first.”
    He blinked, then cracked a tiny smile. “Alright.”
    The two walked over and the head farmer tipped his straw hat and gave them a nod. “Ahh hello you two. Would you like to give the game a try?” She wondered if he recognized them, because he was kind of old. His hair was turning grey and he walked really slow and carefully, and most of the time he would mistake her for Hope when he did see her. He was nice though so she forgave him. He wore a really thick dark brown fur coat even though it was only Fall so she wondered if he was cold.
    “After you kiddo.” Samson said with a gesture of his hand.
    She took him up on it and knelt down by the bucket and stuck her head in, immediately grabbing an apple before rising to her feet. She took a bit and grinned. “Not bad huh?” She asked him grinning.
    “You're certainly quick.” He laughed while he admired her. She looked at him and he blinked.
    “Your turn now.”
    He pointed to himself and she nodded, then he chuckled after. “Alright, alright I'll give it a shot too.” He knelt down and stuck his head in the bucket a couple of times and both times the fruit slipped out of his reach. “This is actually a lot harder than it looks!” It took him three more tries before he managed to get one and she got a good laugh out of it.
    They stopped by a stand with a pair of adults putting on a comedy act but she didn't think they were all that funny. She laughed a lot when one of them got a pie in the face. Following that she took Samson's hand and lead him to the candied apple stand became rather apprehensive after getting a glimpse at who ran the stall.
    “Is that who I think it is?” Melody asked ecstatically.
    “Don't scare her away Mel. She's been looking forward to this.” Samson told her with a laugh.
    She pursed her lips and muttered, “I won't scare her away. I love kids.” She placed her elbows on the stand and smiled dreamily at the two. “So are you on a date?” Su blinked.
    “That's ridiculous and you know it.” She couldn't tell if the geezer and Melody got along or not.
    “Even if you don't admit it I believe what I see!” She grinned and looked to Su. “So you're here for a candied apple right kiddo? Here's one just for you!”
    She looked to Samson and he smiled back at her, and she took the apple from Melody. She bit into it ever so slightly and muttered, “Thanks.”
    “No problem!” She looked back to Samson. “Did you see the results for the fishing contest yet?”
    He knit his eyebrows. “No, not yet. What were the rankings?”
    “The top three were Cruz and Marie in first, Ben and Marty in second, and Danielle and Andre in third.”
    Su glanced at Samson and he bit his lip. She decided to let him off this time-he tried his best.
    “Do you-do you know where we were on the list?” He didn't sound too good either. She held out an open palm. “Fifth place huh? Haha sorry kiddo.” She thought about patting his arm but she had his hand in one hand and her apple in the other, so she squeezed his hand gently instead.
    “We'll win the next one,” She added on a spur of the moment.
    “Yeah. Definitely.” Melody seemed to be glowing with a gigantic smile on her face. The geezer noticed and his face turned red before he glared at her. “Not a word from you.” She raised two fingers to her lips and pretended to zip it closed and throw away the key.
    Su turned her gaze back to the entrance of the village at the sound of Kennith's voice coming through the entire village. “The Camp Assembly event will be starting very shortly! All participants please gather around for the briefing and to get your camping kit!”
    She tugged at Samson's hand and he looked to her. “Let's go.” She suggested to which he nodded before the duo set off. As they walked away she looked back to see Melody waving beneath the sign that she had worked so hard on.
    “Gather around ladies and gents! Don't be shy, there's lots of space to go around.” Kennith told them all as he gestured them in. “Alright now we'll begin the final event of the day! The Camp Assembly competition! Desirae, if you'd be so kind.” At his request his partner brought out a group of packaged tents and distributed them to the contestants as they lined up to receive one. “The rules of this are easy-it's up to you and your companion to get your tent up and running before the other participants. First to finish will gain the most points and in that order the rest will be doled out! Any questions?” He was met with a resounding no and nodded approvingly. “Take your places everyone, and be sure to leave enough space for the other contestants. When everyone's ready we'll officially start.”
    Su and Samson took their place somewhere nearby and the adventurer took out the parts and laid them out before the two. He gazed at them and nodded and she looked at him with a puzzled expression.
    “Those who are ready please raise your hand so we can have a definitive numbered” Desirae suggested. Hands began to rise and Samson raised his. Su looked to him and then to the GMA associates, and raised her own before she began to jump to make sure they were noticed. “That's everyone Kennith. Let's begin.”
    “That so?” He asked before he raised the strange object that amplified his voice to his mouth. “Is everyone ready? On your marks, get set-go!”
    The geezer got to his knees and immediately picked up a pair of poles and started placing them together. Su looked about all the things before her with a puzzled expression and his voice calling out to her brought her out of her confusion.
    “Can you set up the inner tent? It's this big thing right here.” He took hold of what looked to be the actual tent and she nodded. She removed a part on top of it that looked a lot like what he asked her to take and set the poles aside next to him. “Just need you to unfold that and spread it out so I can put the poles in.”
    “Okay,” She said. She did as requested and crawled across it to smooth out all the sides as he put the final poles together.
    “Alright great. Now take this peg and place it in that corner over there. It looks just like this.” He pointed to a small opening for the peg to go in and she nodded. It seemed easy enough. “Ah here.” He offered her a small mallet and he seemed to be thinking awfully hard about it. “Though these are made for children, I don't know how I feel about it. Don't force yourself to do this if you don't want to.”
    Like she was gonna let him do everything. “I can do it!” She insisted before she took the hammer with pursed lips. Before he could tell her to be careful she picked up one of the pegs and made her way to the corner opposite Samson. She placed the peg in the ground and hit it with the hammer once, plunging it into the ground. With a confident smile she continued on, hammering away until it tilted-she frowned at the product of her effort. She adjusted it and started over, hammering away before it happened a second time. For such a simple task, it became really frustrating really quickly.
    “If you hold the peg down it'll make it easy to put it in the ground. Just watch your fingers.” He was already on his second and she could barely finish the first. She had to show him that she was capable. She was able to do everything else really easily so this should've been also.
    She placed her fingers beneath the head of the peg and began again. For the first time it didn't tilt after she hit it a couple of times. She continued on and hit it too hard but once, and her fingers got stuck between the peg and the ground, taking the impact of the blow. She pulled her hand out and stuck her fingers in her mouth as her eyes began to water.
    “You okay?!” Samson cried out as he dropped his tools and got to his feet.
    “I'm fine!” She hissed defensively before taking her fingers out and giving it another shot. By now she expected him to ask her to be careful but she saw him get back down and lower his eyes back to his work. She knew it was unfair of her to get mad at him like that but it's not like she was mad. She just sounded that way. She'd have to apologize to him eventually.
    The two had managed to get all the pegs in and Samson took one of the poles and began to place it in the same area that the peg was before he guided it to the center of the tent. She took one of the others and tried to follow suit but couldn't quite keep it steady. As she began to feel more frustrated her hands trembled and she fumbled the pole. She solemnly stared down at it before pouting.
    “Hey,” He began, “let me tell you a story.” He closed his eyes as he spoke but he moved as if it doing both were simple. “There once were two people-a fighter and a dancer. The two had followed two very different walks of life, and in doing so they were often separated, only coming together but once or twice a year.” He approached her and held out a hand, and she gave him the pole she held onto. His eyes were only half-open and he looked kinda sad, but he might've just been tired. He was kinda old too. “Whenever the two would meet, the fighter would ask to dance to soothe a weary heart. With renewed resolve, the fighter would return to the fray of battle with thoughts of victory to create a world where the two could live in peace.” After he managed to get the poles in the tent actually began to look like a tent. She couldn't say for sure what the other part was for but it seemed like she was going to find out very soon, along with the rest of the adventurer's rather odd story. “Upon returning the fighter discovered the dancer had a companion, another dancer at that. The fighter came to the conclusion that the presence of a fighter was no longer necessary, and embarked on a journey that lasted many more years than those prior. During a return, the two had met, and with the dancer was a child, one that had followed in the parent's footsteps and learned from the two. The second dancer had gone and not returned, and that which the fighter knew so well had grown ill over time and unable to dance with the child. The fighter remained the only one who was still capable of performing.” She watched him as he pulled the extra part over the tent and helped him out by taking a side and holding it still while he pinned it to the poles. “Thanks kiddo.”
    She furrowed her brows. “I don't get it.”
    “Hang on, it's not finished yet.” She pursed her lips but waited as he came around and pinned the others. “So the fighter did. The fighter taught the child, and upon visits the two would dance. As the child grew they improved and soon began to display new routines. Years down the line the two met again, the child now grown up with a sword and shield in hand.” He started to lay down more pegs and she decided to try again, this time with the knowledge of exactly what she was doing. “Upon their meeting the fighter was greeted with these words, 'please teach me to be a fighter'.” As she finished putting her peg in she stood up and glanced at him, and he beamed-she gave him a puzzled look in response. “And that's that.”
    She glimpsed at the tent, and noticed all the parts were used up, then back at him before she tilted her head.
    “We have a winner! First place goes to Team Samson!” Kennith shouted to the crowd. Glances shot at the two from every direction and immediately the participants began rushing to complete their tents before second and third place were stolen from their grasp.
    “I still don't get it,” She added.
    “It's about patience kiddo. What I want you to understand is that things take time. You might be great at one thing, and terrible at another, but it doesn't mean you can't be good at both. It just takes time, practice, and a bit of persistence.” He placed a hand to her head and she gazed up at him. “A good adventurer has to know how to assemble a camp, but a good adventurer also doesn't travel alone. You should count on your allies too, when there are things you can't do alone.”
    Su wrinkled her nose. “I know...I always count on Bane when I need help.” He chuckled at her comment. “So how does the story end? What happen to the fighter and the dancer?”
    His smile seemed to fade a little bit, but it was still there. “That...that's for you to decide.”
    She didn't like that too much. Why would she know how the story ends? He was the one who told it. “That's not a story, that's a fable!” Bane taught her about those two. He taught her a lot of things when she was really little, and he said he told her those to help her understand people.
    Samson laughed quietly. “Yeah-it is, isn't it?” The geezer was acting really weird, but she didn't ask about it.

    Later that day the results for all three events came in and Samson told Su that the two were at the top of the list by winning the last two events, with a total of twenty-five points. She caught a glimpse of her Dad and Tory and immediately jumped into his arms.
    “Whoa-hey there! You look like you're having fun.” He said as he took her in his arms.
    “Me and the geezer are in first place Dad!” She shouted excitedly.
    Grant looked up to Samson and laughed. “Sorry about all of this Samson. You must really have your hands full huh?”
    Samson shook his head. “It's no problem at all. What's a guy like me going to do on a holiday anyway? My adventurer blood won't let me sit still for too long,” He answered.
    “Most handy adventurer I've seen in a long time. I didn't think there was anyone out there who could handle our little girl.” Su furrowed her brows and pushed his cheeks together while he laughed.
    “You know, truthfully I think she can handle herself just fine. She really is something extraordinary.”
    “What's that supposed to mean?” She asked letting go of Grant's cheeks and turning her glare to the adventurer.
    He grinned. “I'll tell you when you're a little bit older.”

    Might just narrow updates down to Fridays since trying to cram in as much time as I can from Friday-Monday is insanely hard. And my writing seems to be strangely...conditional? I'd go into the details but it's all kinda weird so I'll spare you that lol. This way at least the updates are a little less short and sporadic cause of how slow I am. I might come around a little later to give you my two cents on this update or talk about something else story related, but until then enjoy!
    Think I ate too much candy tbh. Got a really bad stomachache.
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    TJ

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    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Mon Sep 29, 2014 3:04 pm

    In spite of what I said Saturday I did some thinking and decided maybe it was high time I addressed Innocent and its...like 40% completion. So! What happened? Well time to pick my brain apart and hopefully articulate my thoughts.
    So more or less, after a lot of reflection and speculation, I kinda discovered a pattern I think. I guess taking a step back, it starts with me. I always say that my writing methods are strange, and that hasn't changed at all. Essentially if my emotional state wasn't so closely tied with my work writing would be easy! I can't function like that though lol. Makes me wonder how others in the varying forms of media do it. But that's not important. In essence, me doing that isn't exactly all bad-I mean, the way I write allows me to really place myself in the character's mindset, and in doing so I feel that I can make them feel a little more real. It's not perfect, but I'll toot my horn a bit here and say it's not bad. Now here's where the problem comes in:
    Something goes wrong. Something always goes wrong. And when it does? I snap. I don't usually go berserk. Maybe I do, I can't say for sure, but something in me just breaks. And then after that well...it's like the talent or the motivation I had for writing the story goes with it. Something is lost in the before and after and following it, I fail to be able to write with the fervor I once had. When I look back, my mind is blank. Innocent wasn't the first of my works in which that happened, and I fear that it won't be the last. Can it be fixed? I can't say for sure.
    In truth I don't know when it happened, or why, but something in 2013 had done me in. Some of my memories are a little hazy, and that could be for better or worse. There was a lot of highs and lows from the end to the start of the new year, and the end result wasn't good. In spite of what I say, hold to whatever optimism you can grasp. Becoming pessimistic or cynical is...certainly easy, but not rewarding in the slightest. I've fallen somewhere within that league and feel rather complacent. It's bad, trust me.
    So, as for the future of the series? Hell if I know. In truth, I want to finish Innocent, I do. My main goal is to finish USSR and see where life takes me from there, for better or worse. As I write it I do miss it's successor a little bit more everyday, and in doing so I think about it but...well I don't wanna guarantee anything quite yet cause anything could change at the drop of a hat, including how I feel about it. Whether I even could rekindle that passion I once had for it is questionable at best. I feel the coming few months will change everything again, and the following weeks could make me or break me all over again. Am I ready for it? Not at all. I just hope this sense of foreboding is nothing more than my imagination playing tricks on me, but if not, on the bright side I can certainly say that I saw it coming!
    So with that said, I'm gonna sit here and try to go on with USSR. Maybe I've just got a rush from the cake I ate but I think I can manage it. Hopefully by Friday I can actually wrap up the Festival arc and get back top the main plot! Though of course, there are reasons for that arc too. Might talk a bit more about it another time. With that said, until next time.
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    TJ

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    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Fri Oct 03, 2014 4:38 pm

    Pages 80-82:
    The following day all of the players had gathered around for the second set of events, with Samson by her side and their lead Su felt confident it'd be an easy victory for them. Today she was head to toe in a scarlet jersey with her hair tied in a braid.
    “No dress today?” Samson asked in a playful tone.
    She eyed him mindfully. “Mom got mad at me for getting it dirty,” She muttered under her breath. “She said I should wear this until it's time for the dance.”
    “Good ol' Beatrice.” He chuckled dryly. “I guess she's gonna make the best out of the chance she has while she still can. Maybe you'll come to like dresses too.”
    How did he know she didn't like dresses? Her mom must've told him secretly. “No way!”
    “If you plan on getting married when you're older, you just might.”
    “As long as I have pants I don't need dresses!” She insisted. He laughed at her answer and she deemed it safe to say that he had given up on the notion.
    “We're really going to be testing your mettle today folks! We've got three more events lined up for you and at the end of the night a bonfire and a dance! Aren't you all lucky?” Kennith said to the crowd. “Desirae, if you'd be so kind.” At his request Desirae brought out her weird silver tube and planted it down nearby before she pulled the string. It launched an explosive that burst into the words Three-legged race.
    She looked at it quizzically for a moment before Samson's hands caught her off guard and she was placed on his shoulders to get a better look at everything. For a moment she thought about protesting, but his wordless actions felt so fitting she really didn't see a reason to complain. The view wasn't bad either.
    “Coordination is key here! You and your partner need to remain in sync to beat out the competition and take your place in this race! How does it work? The two of you will each have a leg tied together, so you'll have to move as one. Is your duo the fastest on their feet? Let's see what all of you can do!” Kennith continued. The two GMA workers lead the way to the event field and they had set up a boundary for the runners not too far from the farm that stopped just a bit short of the orchard. It was really short, so it'd be an easy win for her and Samson.
    “We have enough ropes for everyone. Should you need any assistance feel free to ask.” Desirae commented as she offered ropes to the players.
    Samson got one for the pair and waved Su over to a spot on the track. “Here, put your right foot next to my left.” He knelt down and waved her over, so she did as he requested.
    “Looks like we're stuck together,” She laughed quietly.
    “It does, doesn't it? Better watch your step though, 'cause it's easy to follow when you're tied to another person.”
    She grinned. “This'll be easy! We're really fast.”
    He looked kinda surprised. “H-hold on that's not the important part here. If you move too fast we'll lose our balance!”
    “You worry too much geezer.” All they had to do was run at the same time. How hard could it be?
    “Is everyone ready?” Kennith shouted. “On your marks! Get set! Go!”
    At his words the pairs awkwardly started moving forward, some slow and others moving at a reasonable pace. Su took one step and immediately fell forward.
    “You alright?” Samson asked. “This is what I tried to warn you about.”
    One fall wasn't going to hold her back. She was determined to win the event, and the others weren't that far ahead. “I'm okay. We need to hurry though.” She urged him forward and nearly fumbled as he took a step forward to prevent her from falling again. She couldn't say for sure if her step was too small or if his too big, but she felt the rope tugging at her leg and she fell back into his arm.
    “Harder than it looks isn't it? Let's take our time and focus on reaching the goal. I'd rather get you there in one piece than finish in first with your legs at the finish line and your torso at the start.”
    She blinked at the comment. What did he mean by that? She shook her head as she told herself that it wasn't all that important. They had a race to win. “We gotta go geezer!” The two awkwardly took a couple more steps but had barely made any progress as the rest of the racers proceeded towards the finish line.
    “Here's an idea. Let's count it out.” She tilted her head at his words and he chuckled. “When I say one, you move your left foot. When I say two you move your right foot. Easy enough right?”
    Maybe he was on to something. It was worth a try, at least. “Okay.”
    He did as suggested and the two steadily began to move forward. It took him a few tries to match her steps because he had really long legs and hers were kinda short but once he got the hang of it the ropes stopped pulling on her legs. The two eventually reached the finished line, and despite their place Samson had a satisfied expression.
    “Not bad at all.” He said with a nod.
    “Geezer we placed ninth. There was eleven people in the race!” She huffed.
    He rubbed the back of his neck. “What can I say? You win some, you lose some.”
    She began to pout and he gestured for her to calm down as they followed everyone back to the GMA's caravan, the leading teams carrying flags with their place on them.

    “Congratulations to the top three racers and a well done to everyone! Could you imagine having three legs all the time? It'd make for quite the runner.” Kennith said and received a unanimous groan in response while Desirae shook her head solemnly. “I'll leave the jokes up to your comedy duo.” He snickered dryly. “Now then, onwards with the next event!” Desirae brought out her odd tube and pulled the string, and before the crowds drifted the words Pumpkin Carving. “That's right folks! Time to put that artistic skill to the test! The head farmer was courteous enough to give us enough pumpkins for everyone to gouge and make funny faces on! So take your knife-parents be sure to keep your children safe-and show us what you can do! For this event we'll have three guest judges! Don't be shy everyone, come on over.”
    Samson looked rather surprised as Grant, Tory and the head farmer Wesley took their place by the GMA Associates. Su couldn't see them, so she glanced at Samson and as if he already knew he picked her up and held her up with his right arm alone. She shifted her gaze to him once more as he solemnly looked on ahead, and felt rather shocked that he was so strong. Were all adventurers like that?
    “Today we'll be having Minister Grant, Vice-minister Tory and Head Farmer Wesley to join in the judging. Now then, we want a clean and fair game for everyone, so be honest if you have kids in the crowd .”
    Tory's lips curled into a small smile. “My lovely daughter and husband are participating.” She raised a hand and waved. “Hi honey!” Hope, who sat on Russel's shoulders waved back with both arms.
    “I do also. My little girl is participating with Samson.” Grant added before a look of surprise turned into a bright smile. He waved to Su and she looked startled in turn. She lowered her eyes but raised a hand to acknowledge him. Samson grinned at her and she frowned back at him before pulling on his cheek.
    “Isn't that wonderful. Well everyone, without further ado we're going to begin the next event! Please follow Desirae to your stations.”
    Desirae lead everyone back to the heart of the town where a series of tables were set up with chairs, pumpkins and knives being placed down as they arrived. Samson and Su took a seat at one of the tables and she eyed the pumpkin with a keen curiosity. She looked at the top and noticed it was already cut open, and lifted it by the vine. The top popped off and her eyed widened as she dropped it next to the pumpkin and tilted it over to glance inside. Empty-she shouldn't have been surprised considering how light it was, but she never really got to look inside one. She couldn't help but wonder if the geezer saw pumpkins and other kinds of veggies while adventuring. Before she could ask she heard Desirae speak up and decided to put the question on hold.
    “Before we begin, I would like you all to know there is a theme to the contest. Essentially, it is dependent on the participants. We request that your carving is created with your companion in mind. In other words, something you feel is fitting of them,” Desirae explained.
    Su looked to the geezer and he spaced out while twirling the knife in his right hand. She watched solemnly for a couple of moments before glancing to him, and he looked back at her before he stopped the knife.
    “That's dangerous,” She said.
    He opened his mouth to speak and closed it slowly before his lips curled into a smile. “Right you are.”
    “Is everyone ready? The time limit is one hour. You may begin,” Desirae said.
    Su eyed the pumpkin with a fervent desire to make a masterpiece, then immediately lost that fire as she realized she wasn't exactly sure what she wanted to make. She had never carved a pumpkin before, but she had seen them after the other Harvest Festivals and during All Hallow's Eve. They usually had really scary looking faces and triangle eyes and stuff. She wasn't scared of them though-she just heard they were meant to look scary. If she was supposed to give it a face, how could she give it one that made her think of the geezer? Su looked at him from the corner of her eye as he carefully and methodically carved into his pumpkin.
    “Hey geezer,” She began.
    Though he didn't take his eyes off of his work, he still answered, “Hmm?”
    “Do pumpkins grow outside of our village?”
    “They certainly do. Typically you'd only find them in the cities Belos and Yong Gyoung, since Elias is like...a concrete jungle.” She wasn't sure what concrete was but if a whole jungle could be made of it it certainly had to be something. “Though every city has something to offer. Belos has a variety of fruits and vegetables, or cloth material like cotton and silk. Elias and Yong Gyoung has a variety of ores and minerals but Yong Gyoung does have vegetables also. Elfa has precious gems and Ves and Aoich a myriad of very exotic frui-” He paused. “Sorry-seem to have gone off a bit there. The place I most frequently see pumpkins are Elias, since after all they do celebrate Halloween. It's quite a sight to see. I'd heard the Havens also celebrate certain events and holidays, so I assume you guys do too?” She nodded. “You must really enjoy that huh? I don't think a few scary things or kids in costumes could shake you.” He didn't know how right he was, but she'd keep that a secret. “I also see pumpkin ghosts around the Red Crop Fields just off the path to Aoich year round.”
    Her entire head turned at the mention of ghosts and he stopped carving with a puzzled look on his face. “Ghosts?” She asked.
    He blinked. “Yeah.”
    “You mean it? Real ghosts?!”
    “As real as a ghost can be.” He chuckled dryly. “Wait, let me try that again. As real as any Agasura could be.” If the geezer had seen a ghost before, it had to mean that the ghost she had been hearing was real. Leaving aside all the other chattering ghosts the lady in the temple was the one that interested her the most. Did he know something about her?
    “Do they sing?”
    He stifled a laugh. “Sing? No, of course not. They're Agasura. They do laugh though.”
    Were all ghosts Agasura? Or were the Agasura ghosts? She heard they were monsters but she didn't know what kind of monsters they were. “The ghosts I hear talk a lot, and one has a really pretty voice and sings.”
    Samson looked nonplussed. “You...hear ghosts?” He began to whisper and she felt unsure whether she should've whispered too or not, so she decided to join in anyway.
    She nodded before she continued, “There's a lot of them. I can't really see them but I do hear them when I meditate. The geezer in my dreams taught me how, and in them I saw the pretty lady too.”
    He placed his knife down and turned his body to face hers. “Will you tell me about those two? The geezer and the pretty lady?”
    She used to ask him a lot of questions like that, but this time around he seemed to be awfully interested in what she had dreamed of so she decided to share with him. She'd have to be sure that he kept it a secret though, because she didn't want the other kids to know yet. “You have to promise to keep it a secret first.”
    He raised a hand and she raised her eyebrows to which he chuckled. “That means I promise.”
    She smiled at him. “The geezer taught me all of my magic and helped me to understand Bane and hear all the ghosts. I see him in my dreams and he sits by a tree with his funny looking staff and he wears green robes and knows a lot about earth magic and-geezer?”
    Samson's mouth hung agape and his eyes had glazed over before the name escaped his lips. “Julius...?” She tilted her head and he shook his head to seemingly snap himself out of his trance. “It makes so much sense! The memorium-Dad's treasure, he had passed it on and in it his memory...” He smiled at her but the look in his eyes didn't look as happy. “I see. If you see either of the two again, will you tell me?”
    She wasn't sure why he looked that way, but she felt glad that he believed her. She liked sharing secrets with him. Maybe if she found out where the ghost lady was the geezer could take her there. Adventurers were really good at exploring ruins and temples and other places like that. Maybe they'd even find some treasure! She felt a bit of excitement at the prospect. “Mm hmm!”
    The adventurer smiled at her. “I'm counting on you.”
    He continued his work on the pumpkin and she looked back at hers. Somehow, she felt that she knew what she wanted to do, and set her sights on carving it into her pumpkin.

    There was supposed to be more but I got a little sidetracked. I'll be back with details later!
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    TJ

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    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Sun Oct 12, 2014 7:46 am

    Page 82-89:
    “Time's up everyone! Please bring your submissions to the judge's table here, and be sure to write your names on your pumpkin so the judges know it belongs to you!” Kennith told the crowd. “The scores will be given at the end of the final event!”
    Su had already finished her pumpkin and as she rose shifted her gaze to Samson who seemed to be putting the finishing touches on his own. She held her pumpkin in her arms before she leaned over his shoulder to get a peek at his creation.
    “Th-that's really good...” She said.
    “Hearing that from you makes my day kiddo.” Samson smiled proudly at the fruits of his labour; on his pumpkin he had carved the image of Bane, down to the finest detail. Though it was just his head, she had to admit it was good. “Will you show me yours too?” She glared at him for a moment then turned her eyes away as she turned her pumpkin to face him. She heard him snicker and glared at him again but before she could say anything he placed a hand to her head. “You created this with me in mind huh? You did a bang-up job. The goatee was a nice touch! Maybe I should consider getting one?” Her pumpkin was just the vegetable with a face, but she carved one that looked like an old man with a goatee. Following his comment she pictured him with a goatee and immediately shook her head in response to his question. “Alright alright. Though I certainly could use a shave. My beard is getting awfully long.” He rubbed his beard thoughtfully and she laughed.
    “It's part of what makes you a geezer.”
    His eyes opened wide for a moment and he laughed also. “If only that was a good thing.”

    “We're beginning the briefing for the final event. Please gather around everyone,” Desirae requested.
    Once more the Hanamah participants had gathered before the GMA's caravan and stood in wait to see what was in store for them next. Desirae removed her odd silver tube from the caravan and planted it in the ground.
    “Hit it Desirae,” Kennith said.
    She fired it and the explosive burst into the words Agasura Hunt. Everyone looked rather shocked by it, Su aside. Samson especially looked puzzled by what stood before him.
    “Now now everyone don't look so perturbed!” Kennith gestured for them to calm down as he laughed it off. “These Agasura aren't real. They were made just for this event, and are one hundred percent child friendly. You might get a scraped knee but nothing of any real danger, you have our word! If there is I hope we have a good lawyer.”
    Samson crossed his arms. “What exactly do they have planned with this? And how did they manage to create Agasura?”
    “I dunno,” Su added, “but I bet it's super cool.”
    He grinned at her comment. “I'd expect no less from you.”
    “Now then! The goal of the event is to beat all of your enemies before your rivals do! The rules are easy.” Desirae handed Kennith what seemed to be a rather colourful stick, and he held it up for the crowd to see. “With this here weapon you and your partner will hunt down the Agasura that share your team's colour, and subdue them before your rivals do! One or two good whacks should bring 'em down! Coordination is key here! Quick FYI, you can't defeat your rival's targets, so focus on your team's colours.”
    “Please come to me and I will assign your team a colour.” Desirae offered holding sticks and a carton of eggs.
    Everyone lined up and received a pair of sticks and an egg matching their team's colours, Su and Samson assigned to team orange and trading confused stares over the egg they received.
    “That egg you're holding? That's where the Agasura will come from. Just add water and pow! Instant Agasura!” Kennith exclaimed.
    “Kennith, please,” Desirae muttered.
    “Fine fine. That was just a joke. The Agasura will come from there, so to avoid any possible injury, place it down on the ground and stay a good few feet away. Once everyone is dismissed, find a place in the Forest for your team to use as a playing field and then wait there until you hear the sound of the horn. Once it goes off, be sure your egg is on the ground and prepare yourself for the event to begin! Did I miss anything?”
    “No, I believe that you've covered all of it.”
    “Well then, places everyone! The event will begin in T-minus fifteen minutes!”
    Su grinned devilishly. “Let's go geezer!” With her stick in one hand and his in the other she pulled him along into the forest.

    Su remained crouched down as she eyed the egg with a keen curiosity and Samson stretched nearby. She patiently waited for the horn but she really wanted to see exactly how Agasura became...Agasura.
    “You're gonna stare a hole through that egg kiddo.” Samson said as he cracked his knuckles.
    “Are Agasura gonna come out of it?” She asked turning her head to him.
    He opened his mouth to speak but seemed to be at a loss for words. He placed a hand to his mouth as he muttered, “Is this what it feels like to give them the talk?” He shrugged it off. “Truthfully, I've not the foggiest. I've never seen an Agasura come from an egg.” Her eyes sparkled at his words because she was ready for him to tell her another story and he chuckled gently instead-looks like she was out of luck this time.
    She glanced in the direction the familiar sound of the horn came from and jumped back as the egg that sat before her began to tremble. She immediately began to move further away as it began to swell until it finally burst and a series of tiny little creatures-just like the ones that pulled the caravan but much smaller and much more orange flitted about and dispersed.
    “There's our targets! You ready?” The geezer asked before he prepared his stick.
    Su grinned in turn. “I was born ready!”
    She prepared her stick and immediately broke out into a sprint after one of the creatures. Despite their size and lack of feet, they hopped awfully fast and were hard to land a hit on. She ran as quickly as she could and slammed the stick down but missed the critter as it jumped aside and moved in another direction. She placed one foot to the ground and came to a skidding halt before she bolted after it again. Another came running by and she stopped and chased after it instead since it was closer. She brushed the ground with her stick and it leapt over it, then turned around and hopped between her legs. She growled under her breath as she turned on the balls of her heels and bolted after it again.
    “You're mine!” Su roared and dove at the creature bringing her stick down upon its head. As she collapsed to the ground the creature rolled over and she grinned proudly. “Hey geezer I got one!”
    “Did you?” He glanced her way as he ran, a small pause between his words as he took a breath. “not bad a-hrgh-” He collided with a branch and hit the ground rather hard, she looked on both worried and amused.
    “You okay?”
    He sat up and rubbed his head. “Y-yeah. Just a little bit shaken up from the collision. There's about eight of them in total kid. We've gotten four of them so far, so there's only four left. Think you can do it?”
    Su raised an eyebrow. “I know I can!” She certainly felt confident but these Agasuras were more elusive than most of the animals in the forest were. If she had the geezer's training, she'd probably be able to catch them as quickly as he could. She stopped and glanced about. Some of them had stopped running and remained in place. If she was sneaky she could probably get them before they ran away. She tiptoed towards it and took cover behind a tree before glancing out at its back. Taking the stick in both hands she leapt out and brought it down but missed the strike, and began another chase.
    After putting the beatdown on it she had taken her place in a tree and peered down upon one of the creatures. She glanced around in case of any others, and saw the geezer frantically chasing after one of the final three. Taking a deep breath she leapt down and hit the ground, immediately catching its attention. The priring started running and just as it did hedr stick came by and swatted it.
    “Easy,” She chimed. She looked around for the last one and decided to pursue the Agasura that managed to elude Samson, leaving him heaving for air. “I'll get it geezer!”
    Doubled over until she called out to him, he rose to his full height and wiped his brow. “You know, you do that kid. I'm gonna-I'm gonna sit here and take a breather.”
    She chuckled as she ran after the creature, carefully taking turns past trees and closing the distance between them using the terrain that surrounded them. Its small size made it hard to follow when it leapt into bushes but after hunting down a few she started to see the patterns they would take. She followed it towards a group of trees and closed the gap causing it to turn towards one of three, only to have to stop and turn in another direction. In the moments that it prepared to hop away from her, her stick made its way to the creature and bashed it before it could finish its jump. She grinned. Only one was left.
    “Did you find it geezer?” She shouted. She couldn't see him, but the sound of his voice lead her to him.
    “Yeah it's over here! Help me catch it will ya?” He answered.
    She made her way to the sound of his voice and saw him following after it. She prepared to join him but changed her mind. Recalling what had occurred during the hunting event she decided to lie in wait for it behind a tree. She waved him over and he chased it in her direction. When the two approached she emerged and slammed her stick over its head, knocking it out.
    “Well, that's that! Seems we've got them all huh?” He said with a sigh of relief.
    She grinned. “No problem.”
    The creature suddenly got up and gave her a surprise, and the two watched in awe as all the others gathered at one point and started to form a strange orange ball.
    “I'm not just seeing this right?” Samson asked with a look of shock and curiosity.
    “What is that?”
    The massive ball stopped bubbling and finally-seemingly, became solid. It suddenly unfurled into what seemed to be a sort of Agasura, an awful lot like the prirings in shape, but much bigger and more muscular. It had an awfully angry looking face too.
    “God Ah's sake...a muscling.”
    “Huh?”
    Samson placed a hand to her shoulder. “This might get a little rough. Considering that this is created by the GMA, I'm sure its not as dangerous as a real muscling would be, but just in case let's not underestimate it.”
    Su pursed her lips at the comment. “It better not underestimate me.”
    The adventurer laughed. “It's about to find out what we can do, but just in case, will you follow my lead?”
    The geezer knew his stuff, and he had fought musclings before. She trusted him enough to let him lead before, so she didn't see a reason not to let him do it now. “Okay.”
    “Right then.” He readied his stick. “Let's bring it down.”
    Samson took the lead with Su hot on his heels, and the muscling's ears perked up as it saw them coming. The creature let out a blood curdling shout as they approached and jumped towards them, hitting the ground with enough force to send a shock wave across the land and throw the two off balance. Su hit the ground and Samson took a knee, but he quickly regained his balance and offered her a hand. Taking his offer she rose to his feet and the two continued their forward assault.
    “I'll take the right, you get its left flank!” Samson shouted as he broke away from her. “Watch for the shock wave, and don't get crushed! That, and hit it hard and fast! I'll give you further direction as we go along.”
    “Got it!” She answered and made her way to its left flank. It glanced at the two, and deeming her the easier of two targets hopped towards her. She continued moving away from it and Samson neared, but he could barely get a hit on it because of how fast it moved. “Get ready geezer! I'm gonna try and get it to stop!”
    She looked back to it as it followed her and saw a nearby tree branch within her reach. She dashed towards it and the creature scowled as it jumped towards her and slammed down, while she jumped away and took to the tree. Samson took the muscling by storm, stabbing it once with his stick and taking two swings before Su dove from the tree and got in one of her own. It jumped towards the two and both backed away, only being caught in the aftershock of its landing.
    “This guy's pretty tough huh?” Samson asked as he took a breath.
    “It can really take a beating. Though is this what the GMA calls family child friendly? Even veteran adventurers fear these guys.”
    Su grinned at his comment. “Then I'm well on my way to being an adventurer.”
    He smiled wryly at her comment and shot his gaze back at the muscling that approached, hers following suit shortly after. “You ready for another round?”
    “Do you need to ask?” She took the lead this time around dashing directly toward it with Samson following up on the rear.
    The creature jumped into the air and she slid under it, hopping to her feet and leaping through the air as it hit the ground, avoiding the most violent shock waves and barely keeping her balance as she spun on her heel to follow up on its attack. With her at its back and Samson at the front, the two managed to get seven strikes in total before they fell back.
    “Not bad at all! I think we've nearly got it!”
    She acknowledged his comment with a nod and dashed past it again to get its attention, but it remained focused on chasing after Samson. She ran past it, right in its line of sight but its pursuit of him continued uninhibited.
    “I can't get it to follow me geezer! I think you pissed it off!” He looked back at her with an odd expression, and she couldn't say for sure whether it was because of the information she just relayed or the fact she said pissed-her mom and dad hated that, and there were very few times where they didn't tell her not to use such inappropriate language.
    “Kid watch out!” She turned back to it and her body froze as she saw the creature coming down on her.
    Before her mind could process what had happened her body was tumbling away and the muscling came down. She picked herself up from the ground and blinked as she caught a glimpse of Samson beneath the creature. “Geezer!”
    She picked her stick up and recklessly charged the creature, bashing it with all the force she could muster until it turned to her and tried for her next.
    “I'm alright!” His words from behind it threw her off and left her dumbfounded. “Being crushed by this thing is like...being hit with a squeaky hammer. It actually doesn't hurt at all. Though I think if I hit the ground like that again I'll be concussed.”
    Her hands trembled for a moment as her rage subsided, and she finally burst out into laughter. And here she thought he was in real danger. The GMA certainly knew how to have a good time.
    “Okay, let's finish this off! I still wanna win this contest.” She said before she rose to her feet after losing her balance and prepared to attack; she caught a short glimpse of Samson on the other side doing the same.
    She dashed past it and leapt to grab onto a tree branch as it hit the ground. She swung from it and the two attacked without restraint. After Su got in one final swing the creature tensed up, and fell face-first into the ground before it burst in a flash of light and stars.
    “Looks like we got it. Job well done!” He held out his hands and she gave him a high-five.
    “We're the best!” She cheered proudly.
    “Let's head back.” She nodded and followed after Samson.

    The two returned to Hanamah and seemed to be the first ones back. Kennith waved them over and Desirae eyed them curiously as they approached.
    “Looks like we have our winners. Congratulations Team Samson,” Kennith said.
    “Thanks.” Samson rubbed his beard thoughtfully for a moment. “Say, how would you know exactly who finished first? Is it dependent on the arrival of those who completed the event?”
    Kennith laughed at his question and both he and Su looked puzzled. “No not at all. We actually have a leader board.”
    “What's a leader board?” She asked Samson and he shrugged. Looks like there were things that not even an adventurer knew about.
    “Here, let me show you.” Kennith lead the two to the other side of the caravan and next to it stood a giant floating board with the names of the teams and what their placing was. Samson and Su were at the top, second was Yuta and Mr. Kazuto and the others were yet to be placed. Su looked on in awe and Samson look rather disturbed by it. “Pretty impressive huh? Top of the line technology!”
    “Is this...from Atlantis?” Samson asked.
    “Correct you are good sir!”
    Samson brushed a couple hairs from his eyes. “That explains everything. Jules would throw a fit if he saw this.”
    “What's an Atlantis?” Su asked. The two seemed to be talking about a lot of things she didn't quite understand, but she felt that it was crucial adventurer information.
    “It's a city just off the coast of Elfa.” Samson's pupils drifted from one side to the other of both eyes solemnly. “Well...that may have been a tad lackluster. It's an underwater city. If anything, it's known for some of the greatest technology the world has ever seen. This was made in that city.” She looked on in awe, her mouth agape. “I guess that explains where you guys managed to get those 'Agasura'. I didn't think the GMA held ties with the Atlantians.”
    “For the sake of the colony, our CEO would go to any lengths.” Desirae said this time as she emerged from one of the sides of the caravan.
    The adventurer knit his eyebrows. “It's not entirely unreasonable. In times of crisis sometimes unlikely alliances will be made. I guess this is one of them.”
    Kennith gave him a rough pat on the back and grinned. “Come now, don't be such a downer! God Ah might disapprove but you had fun right? That's what matters most right now!”
    Su looked on as the two got all chummy and talked about things she didn't know. She turned her eyes towards Desirae as she bent over to speak to her and stared intently for a moment.
    “Did you have fun too?” She asked in a soft voice.
    “Y-yeah. It was a lot of fun.”
    For the first time Su saw Desirae smile for a couple of moments. She rose to her feet and shifted her glasses, then put back on her business face.
    “Kennith, the other participants will be arriving very shortly. We should be ready to greet them.”
    Samson turned to Su and gave her a nod. “Maybe we should leave these two to it. Let's go hang out somewhere until the results are in.”
    She beamed in turn and nodded. “Okay.” She took his hand and the two walked off towards the village once more. She really had fun today-even more so with him, but that would be her secret.

    Samson
    The sun had already set and night began to settle in, the stars shining brightly above while cinders from the bonfire rose to the sky, the Harvest Festival coming to its eventual close. Samson leaned against one of the stalls while he bit into an apple and watched as the citizens of Hanamah mingled about, his thoughts abuzz on matters entirely unrelated.
    If he recalled correctly, when God Ah had first introduced Humanity to the concept of mana and magic, he had created a system in which they could tap into it, due to the lack of it on Midgard. Unlike the Cerebians, humans did not have the innate ability to gather mana, and so he had created a crystal that contained the substance in its purest form; this was known as the Heart of Yggdrasil. Created from the many years of the tree's lifespan and memories, he had formed the crystal and brought it to Midgard, and in doing so taught the Messengers of the Gods, the Derr Clan to access this power. They had passed this knowledge on to the acolytes of a place called Xenadia who spread this word to the masses, and in time all of humanity had begun learning to utilize the power borrowed to them. His only request, was that it be used solely for that purpose-that Humanity master it to protect themselves should their lives be threatened. He did this knowing that the Agasuric threat was on the horizon, but rather than taking up this battle and ending it on his own accord, he took it as an opportunity to prepare the Humans of the time for the future.
    Samson took one last bite of the apple and eyed the core for a moment, before glancing around and finding a place to toss it, amidst other organic waste.
    There was a series of events that lead to a discord between God Ah's Family and Humanity, and Samson's knowledge of it was limited, save for that which Julius had told him and that which he read. Some accounts claimed that both Humanity and Cerebians had abused the crystal, and harnessed its power to further their own causes. Humanity had obtained a basic understanding of the use of mana, and in forming civilizations used it in a power struggle against other Humans; through this, a series of battles began, but never sparked the end of their kind. The Cerebians who had stationed themselves upon Midgard had used this to create advanced technology-that which surpassed the imagination of mankind and upon introducing Humanity to it changed their way of life forever. This had angered God Ah, and in order to prevent any further hindrance to their growth as a race he had sunk the city of Atlantis and branded the Cerebians who went against his word as the Cerebellians. Those who had been of the city and all of their descendants were cursed-they were exiled from their homeland, their wings were 'clipped', and their ability to gather mana was completely sealed. Though to his dismay, the damage was done as the Atlantians had found a way to escape their underwater prison, and formed ties with Humanity once more, leading to the eventual creation of the current classes that they utilized and a place called Kimara Research, built on the promise of the Cerebellians eventual return to Asgard.
    On another hand, some claimed that it was not the Cerebians that had caused Atlantis to be sunk, but rather it was to protect them from the coming war. God Ah's Right Hand, who became the Demon King had utilized the crystal's power to turn the dead and their spirits into undead soldiers he had called Agasura, and waged war against Humanity and God Ah himself. To put a stop to this at its source, he had shattered the Heart of Yggdrasil and sunk both Atlantis and Xenadia before dispatching his Left Hand, the Cerebian Goddess and her army of Cerebians to engage the Demon King and his army. The few splintered pieces of the Heart of Yggdrasil that remained were entrusted to the four God's Governors and only the royal family, the four, and the Exalted One would be able to master the use of mana from that day forth.
    Samson sighed heavily. Which legend held the truth that the current generation of Cerebians sought out? Hazel had spent many years researching these legends among others, and a major part of his knowledge came from what she shared with him and suggested. Her knowledge and potentially remains may have been buried in the mass of sand that was now Xenym, along with his younger brother and sister-in-law. Her daughter now pursued those who had began this battle, and the traces of her mother's existence among the other missing Cerebians. Something he had spent years doing since the Second Asgardian War, and the last time he had seen his home. Now he pursued the God's Governor of Earth, and now more than ever he felt sure that Kasumi really was Grant's daughter. Upon one ear she wore an earring, and within it was one of the splintered pieces of the Heart of Yggdrasil-his family's heirloom, and the treasure that was passed on to Julius before their father and mother went on to fight in the first Asgardian War in which they never returned. Though what she told him of ghosts and geezers had left him puzzled.
    The only one who could speak to Bane was Julius himself. It was not unusual for the summoner to be able to do so, as their father had his own summoned being, and was the one who taught Julius how to perform the rite. The geezer that Kasumi spoke of was the one who taught her to speak to the creature, and her description though vague, was not entirely wasted on him. Both Julius and their father wielded a staff and wore the colours of the God's Governor of Earth. What threw him off was the fact that Julius had no idea how to utilize the shard of the Heart of Yggdrasil he had received-according to him, their father had never taught him how. Did that mean at some point the man had learned, and in doing so found a way to leave behind a memory to teach his granddaughter to utilize her mana? He sighed once more and shook his head. He was no God's Governor, but for what reason had his dad chosen not to inform him of matters pertaining to them? Was there such a disparity between the God's Governors and those that were not? He had known two of the four, his father one of them but the only other he knew was a man with an only child. A young girl, with quite the foul mouth at that, but a child that went hand in hand with her father. The future of their world really did rest in the hands of the younger generation, but Samson still felt that he had a part to play in it, even if it was only a small or short one.
    He looked up to the stars and chuckled quietly as he reminisced about Vanir's words. It seemed that the barista's speculations really were right on the mark. Just as he had suggested, he had found the God's Governor of Earth and much more than he anticipated, but what he lacked further still was an answer. He had undeniable proof the Kasumi now stood before him, and her understanding of the use of mana and ability to activate the shard she wore gave him even more insurance on the thought. Even so, he wanted to see what she was capable of-less so to find out if she was Kasumi, but now to know that she was capable of defending herself. In the entire world, there was no other God's Governor of Earth, so none could teach her to master her powers; on the other hand, there were other God's Governors who had an understanding of mana. In spite of the rivalry between their late father and the God's Governor of Fire, he would set aside his pride to have him teach her. But to do so, he would have to take her with him, to Mezzalone, the Haven situated in the heart of the Jungle near the city of Ves.
    He blinked slowly before his eyes shuttered. His future was so bleak and unsure. Would he join Reina in her campaign against the Dark Moon? Or would he take Kasumi to Mezzalone until she was ready to face the world, not as the young child of Hanamah but as God's Governor of Earth? He chuckled quietly to himself. Perhaps it was too soon for him to make such a decision. Beatrice's words back when the two had first met still left doubt within his heart and made him question his motives. If the day came that he decided he would take Kasumi away, he wanted to give her an answer to her question.
    He decided he would pursue the thought over time, as the sound of music being played by a small band roused him from his reverie and he caught glimpses of pairs taking their partners to the bonfire to dance. As he watched the fire rise to the sky he recalled the ending of the event, and wondered what the near future would be like.

    Kasumi frowned. “Geezer, we placed fifth.”
    Samson looked at the leaderboards blankly and just as she had told him, the two really had placed fifth over all eleven teams. Though they had placed first in three of the six events, their poor scores in the other three had landed them in the lower bracket of winners. “That seems to be the case.” He said rubbing the back of his neck uneasily. “Perhaps my pumpkin carving was a bit too detailed. I think I may have missed the point of the contest.” She pursed her lips and he laughed uneasily. “Well on the bright side, there are still prizes for those who didn't place in first to third. Do you wanna go check 'em out?”
    She began to pout. “Not interested.”
    A bead of sweat ran down his cheek. She was more adamant on winning the event than he knew. “Well I'll go pick one out. I'll be right back okay?” He approached the two GMA associates and took a spot in the crowd as the top three winners walked off with their prizes and the other participants looked through the chest and claimed smaller prizes. When Samson saw his opportunity he took his place at the left side of the chest and gazed inside as the sound of Desirae's voice droned on, “Congratulations...congratulations...please take a prize!” his eyes drifted from one side of the chest to the other before he reached in and claimed a small doll. It was a wizard, and exactly as one would imagine it when they hear the term. From the pointed hat to the white beard and the soft staff in hand it just felt fitting. He wondered what would happen if she did not like it, and the idea made him rather uneasy, but it was a risk he had to take.
    He returned to Kasumi's side and she looked at him solemnly, leaving him unsure of whether she was still angry or if she was waiting for him to say something. He looked down at her for a moment before he crouched down and reached into his pocket, removing the doll that he had obtained from the Game Master's Associate.
    “Here kiddo.” The adventurer said offering her the doll.
    She looked down at the doll, shifted her eyes back up to him and frowned before taking the doll. “I don't like dolls.” She muttered before she walked off.
    He was nonplussed, but only for a brief moment. Somehow he felt that in spite of the reaction he received she actually may have liked it. He had no idea how he knew, but something in him said that if she did not, things would have ended much worse than they had there. He smiled faintly before he rose to his feet and watched her run towards her canine companion to show him what she had received-the two like a pair of kids themselves. It never ceased to amaze him how Bane had become such a gentle, parental figure to a young Cerebian girl. The God's Governors were truly incredible, and even now Samson felt a tinge of jealousy at seeing what they could bring into existence, but it quickly subsided; had he been the God's Governor of Earth, perhaps things would have been different-not necessarily in a good way either. The adventurer wondered if he would have had the conviction that Julius did, to take the lives of both Humans and Cerebians alike, along with his own. To make such a sacrifice-would he have ever been able to go to such lengths for his people? He laughed quietly. He could barely decide on whether or not he wanted to take Meryl as his Pledger.
    He felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to meet Grant's smile. “Samson, thanks. I haven't seen our little girl smile this much in ages.” He said.
    Samson snorted. “Are you sure we're seeing the same thing? I've seen more angry faces from her than I have from most of the people I've talked to throughout my entire career.” He remarked.
    Grant grinned in turn. “They're the same thing sometimes. Don't let her expressions fool you. She's a good kid.”
    The adventurer nodded. Any parent would say their child meant well, but he could tell that Grant's words were truly sincere. They were the words of a man who came to know the child, and not the one who really impacted what made her that way. Perhaps part of the reason she and the kids rarely got along was not only because of her power, but because they rarely took the time to get to know her. “I'll bet.”
    “I know you've already gone through a lot over the past few days, but may I ask one more favour of you?”
    “No need to be so formal Grant, and even less so to ask. Is it about the dance at the end? If so I'll gladly attend with her.”
    Grant smiled. “I appreciate it. In truth, I don't think she'd want to attend the dance with her old man anyway!” The two laughed. “You know how kids are. She'd be embarrassed in front of the others. She won't dance with the other kids, but she really has taken a shine to you. Maybe she'll join in if you'll take her.”
    The thought of it almost made him blush, but at recalling that she was just a young girl the feeling subsided. “Perhaps. I'm sure Beatrice will be dying to fit her in another dress. Speaking of, will you be attending the dance also Grant?”
    “I'd like to.” He rubbed his beard thoughtfully. “Everyday has been so busy for the two of us we rarely found the time for a bit of fun ourselves. Perhaps Bea and I will join in the festivities, even if it's only the last event of the Harvest Festival.”
    “Give your daughter something to really be embarrassed about!”
    Grant roared with laughter. “If she knew how great dancing could be she'd be proud too!”
    Samson nodded sagely. “I hope she gets to someday. It may be a skill she'll need in the future.”
    “I hope her partner can put on a show also. Bea is a tough critic.”

    “Hey, geezer.” The sound of Kasumi's voice brought him back to reality as she approached. This time around she wore a black dress with a pleated skirt and a white collar.
    “Well that's certainly cute,” He teased.
    She stopped in place to glare at him with a flushed face and clenched fists. Perhaps it was just the light of the fire on her face or the clothes she wore but she gave off a slight air of maturity. “You're one to talk. You're all dressed up too.” He chuckled at her words-despite his initial feeling, he was glad that she was the same inside.
    Though he did not consider himself to be dressed up, he wore a white dress shirt, a blue tie and black dress pants. It had been some time since he had worn anything that resembled dress clothes, so it did feel a tad restricting, but Grant suggested that the two might stand out a little less if both had put on some proper clothing. Very little happens in the Havens, and sometimes people needed a reason to get dressed up. Though the event was far from formal or even semi-formal, the adults seemed to enjoy it as such, and also as an event for fun. The dance, more so for them than the children.
    “A little bit yeah. Though dressing up never really was my type of thing.” He placed his hands in his pockets and she took her place next to him, looking on to the crowd. After taking a quick glance at her he could see where her eyes were focused-off in the distance the children in close age groups danced together, while most of the adults danced with their partners. “Have you danced before?” She shook her head and lowered her eyes, while he smiled slightly. He stepped in front of her and bowed down, offering her a hand. “Then allow me.”
    She blinked, a surprised look on her face. “A gigolo!”
    Samson looked startled at her comment this time around. “Pardon?”
    “Bane taught me about them.”
    Samson blinked, then burst out into laughter. “Somehow I think he may have skimped a little bit on the details kiddo. Though then again, there are some things you should ask your par-actually don't ask them about that. Better yet, keep that one a secret hmm?”
    “So you're not a gigolo?”
    He shook his head solemnly. “I'd rather be known as a geezer in your eyes.”
    She grinned a toothy grin. “If you say so geezer.” She took his hand and lead the way. “Let's get going!”

    I was close. Really close. But soon!
    On another note, I'll be away from Sunday to Sunday so there won't be any updates this week. Hopefully come next next Friday I'll be able to jump right back into it and have something to show after. And that I remember exactly what I wanted to say about this update. With hat said, until then!
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Sun Oct 26, 2014 3:51 pm

    I think you should know that some of the stuff that happens here actually happens during Reina's story, so yeah, it can be a little bit spoilery. She is mentioned once in a while and whatever antics she's up to, so you know what you're in for. On the bright side, it's not that much different from the main story. I mean, it told what happened after USS so nothing new there huh? But anyway enjoy!
    Page 89-98:
    The two found a place amidst the others surrounding the bonfire and she turned to him, his hand in hers and her eyes expectantly focused on his.
    “What should I do geezer?” She looked up at him unblinking.
    He smiled back at her. “Just follow my lead. I'll show you the steps.”
    She frowned. “What if I screw up?”
    “It's your first time. No one said you had to be perfect. Just try not to worry and trust in me okay?” She nodded solemnly.
    As the next song began he gave her a nod and took the first steps, her eyes carefully focused on his feet as she rigidly moved briefly after he did, the young Kasumi struggling to remain in time with him. He chuckled quietly assuming that she would not hear him amidst the noise that surrounded them but her keen ears caught him in the act and her fierce emerald eyes glared at him. He offered her an apologetic grin in response before continuing on, taking a bit more initiative to guide her. For the first few moments, she looked rather startled by the fact but as time went on she eased into it a little at a time and began to follow in his steps.
    Samson closed his eyes as the two hand in hand, stepped and spun to the melody that drifted through the air. The feeling was nostalgic; it took him back to his time as an adventurer in his youth. As he stepped to the music he reminisced about the days he had spent dancing with the daughter of his unrequited love. Though Kasumi did not have the knowledge and grace that he had become familiar with years prior, the clumsy but careful steps and the genuine effort she had put in to follow in his wake was somehow refreshing, and charming in its own right. The thoughts of her dissipated and memories of the serene parent that once served as her teacher as well as Samson's drifted in and settled in his conscious mind. Though their meetings were brief, every one of them was an unforgettable memory, and even now he held them dearly. War had taken her away from him, and though it had been years he had still needed more time to steel his conviction and find what his role in this battle would be. Though a small part of him wished to avenge her, he knew not her killer nor whether or not she was truly dead. There were only vague possibilities, and a flicker of hope that she would be out there somewhere, waiting for him to return to her. He could not help but wonder if it really was his place to do so.
    “Geezer.” Kasumi's voice roused him once more and he opened his eyes and blinked slowly. “The next song hasn't started yet-why're you still going?”
    He laughed nervously at her question. “I guess I got a little too into it.”
    She pursed her lips. “You don't like dancing?”
    He knit his eyebrows. “I enjoy it quite a bit! Why do you ask?”
    “'Cause you looked kinda sad.”
    Though young, it seemed as if she had a keen eye at times; or had he just become that easy to read? Samson looked down on her solemnly for a few moments before offering her a melancholy smile. “Some songs just have that effect on people.” He took a deep breath discretely. He stole a glance at Kasumi who was solemnly gazed at him and he couldn't help but laugh. His past, though it would continue to haunt him, as would his failures he knew that he could not change them. The present, not particularly his but that of Reina, Salem, Kasumi and all the other kids that would continue the legacy of their forefathers-their present, he could make a difference. In them, there was hope for the world. Though young, they were ambitious and reliable be it in or out of a fight. They were destined to do great things, and if he could guide them along that path then he would do so to the best of his ability.
    “You-you're gonna show me how to dance right? The next song is starting!”
    He grinned a genuine grin and she flushed, either due to the question or the look he gave her. “Of course. We're just getting started.”
    She nodded as she squeezed his hand tighter and the following song began. As the two swayed he cast away his thoughts, his fears, and all that had plagued him if only temporarily to ensure that he would keep to what he promised himself-that he would do everything in his power to be sure that Kasumi would enjoy the festival. He felt light on his feet, and the freedom he experienced seemed to be something the two shared as his niece followed in his steps smiling and laughing. The two stepped and twirled, hand in hand as the music played and the embers of the bonfire danced along with the people of Hanamah.
    When the third dance came to an end the two grinned at each other, Samson impressed at how quickly Kasumi had become familiar with the moves he had shown her and was able to follow along as he went on. She was certainly a fast learner.
    “Hey Sam!” Melody called out to him as she ran from the stage and waved.
    “If you run around in that dress you might fall Mel,” He replied. When she finally reached the two he offered an acknowledging grin. “So what's got you in such a hurry anyway?
    “I run with the grace of a swan, thank you very much.” He stifled a laugh at her unusual analogy before stealing a glance at the dress she wore-a dark blue slim evening cocktail party dress. She really went all out tonight. “Like what you see?” She posed as she posed him the question.
    He stifled another laugh and she jabbed his shoulder after pursing her lips. “Well it's certainly a charming sight in its own right.” He said as he crossed his arms. “I'd gotten rather used to seeing you in overalls or other farmhand clothes. Seeing you in a dress is rather refreshing.”
    She knit her eyebrows but her eyes had a look of defeat to them. “Do you give every girl a complicated answer like that Sam?”
    “He said I Looked cute.” Su added and he placed a finger to his lips almost immediately.
    “Oho!” Melody placed her hand to her mouth before she set her gaze back to Samson, the look alone interrogating him.
    “I didn't mean it like that. Don't get the wrong idea Mel,” The adventurer muttered.
    “Don't you worry, I understand a hundred percent.” She grinned and winked, to which he sighed in response. “I should probably apologize ahead of time huh?”
    Samson tilted his head. “What for?”
    “To the little cutie here of course.” Kasumi knit her eyebrows at the comment and Melody grinned. “Do you mind if I borrow your geezer for a spell?”
    She squeezed his hand slightly and took up a guarded expression. “I take offense to that,” Samson added.
    “How long is a spell?” The young girl asked in response, his remark lost to the wind.
    “Just a dance.” Melody added before she raised a finger at Kasumi's furrowed brows. “Just one, I promise!”
    The young girl looked to him and he blinked. “It'll be just one kiddo. Won't be long, I promise.” She pouted slightly and he grinned guiltily, but she seemed to resign to his wish and let his hand go.
    “You promised!” She insisted before running off and leaving the two.
    Samson watched her disappear into the crowd before he turned his head back to the waving Melody. Despite the way she acted, she was a clever girl. She wouldn't request a dance for the sake of doing it, since there were other men and women her age. That aside, as far as he knew they had a strictly platonic friendship, and she seemed vehement on coaxing him into seeing his niece as a potential romantic interest-not that she knew for sure that they were related. She certainly had a reason for asking him to dance-perhaps his best bet would be to ask? It certainly was worth an attempt. “So what's the occasion?”
    “Occasion? It's the Harvest Festival! What more occasion do we need?” She answered with a twirl.
    He smiled wryly at her comment. “I meant why dance with me? You could be dancing with the other girls.”
    “They don't have your moves though.”
    He paused. He was well versed in a variety of dances, but that he did with Kasumi were basic ones that he had learned growing up. He wondered if she knew something about him that he was unaware of, but the moment passed quickly. The different regions of his home had different songs and dances; perhaps it was familiar to her, or unfamiliar yet eye-catching. “I haven't done anything special though.”
    She grinned and nudged his ribs with her elbow. “Come now, you can't fool my eyes. I saw you leading that dance.”
    For a moment he felt his ego swelling. “It wasn't anything special, really.” He looked at her quizzically. “Would you like me to teach you also? Though if we don't hold our promise I think she'll give us both an earful.”
    Melody grinned once more. “Nah, I'm not here to learn. I just wanted to dance with you.” He was taken aback at her words. The words had came so suddenly but left so much to the imagination he felt puzzled-how was he to respond to that? She held out a hand and smiled. “Well? No point in just standing there and looking dumbfounded right? The next song is starting Sam.”
    Samson bowed and Melody curtsied and the dance began. The song that he heard was a familiar one, a slow but gentle melody that he had often heard growing up, and for those that were familiar with it there was a dance that accompanied it. It was not something that their kind had often done, save for rituals and other such important events, but it was one of the only among the few that existed, as far as he knew. What puzzled him most was that Melody knew all the steps. He had no need for guiding her and she moved with the elegance of a dancer, but one that had more experience than one would expect of a farmhand and more so one who had known the steps. Every step, every spin, the two did not miss a beat, and though Samson questioned it he did not break his focus for a moment, as he knew the importance of performing it flawlessly. Had the two a true Bard playing the song, and they said the words to begin the ritual the two would be in a very different situation.
    The song began to slow down and soon the sound of the bard's guitar was the only instrument that played, the dancers coming to an eventual halt in preparation for the next song. Though he had considered easing the two into a halt also, she continued and he was swept in her pace.
    “Melody you-” He began but she placed a finger to his lips.
    “Shh!” She grinned at him before taking his hand in hers once more. “The song isn't over yet. The real fun is just beginning.”
    The music began again, the bard playing a much faster and more energetic tune to which the other instruments joined in one by one. Though it had more instruments than he had become familiar with, the sound that they produced still remained familiar to him. He blinked as the two swayed, his gaze remained focused on his partner as she moved with him, her eyes closed while her body moved in perfect sync with him as the two danced to the rhythm. The fact that she knew the steps and performed them so flawlessly had to be undeniable proof that she hailed from the same rural town in Asgard that he had. He spun her around and brought her close, catching a brief glimpse of the look in her eyes and was left breathless. Though he had practiced the dance before with a series of different partners, somehow this had felt different; his thoughts wandered to her again, and he wondered if that breathlessness he had experienced for just a moment would have accompanied him throughout the entirety of the dance, should it have been the two here and now.
    The music came to a halt and the two bowed to each other once more.
    She grinned though she was out of breath. “I'm impressed Sam! For a gruff adventurer like you, you certainly know how to dance!”
    He regarded her solemnly for a moment, both for lack of words and because he was rather impressed. “Should I take that as a compliment?” He shook his head. Now was not the time for their typical banter. “Never mind that. I have something more important that I need to ask you.”
    She smiled, but her eyes did not accompany it-rather, they seemed to be surveying him. “Go ahead. But there's something I'd like to ask you too.”
    He nodded. “You...you come from the same region in Asgard as I do, don't you? The dance that you did...that's from our town. No one sane enough would spend years practicing the moves to learn that dance just for the sake of knowing it. It's the Pledger's Rite. At least, our version of it.”
    “That's right! We grew up in the same town, but you didn't know about me back then. I knew all about you and Julius though.”
    That was to be expected. The God's Governors were revered among the Cerebians, though many still had their doubts on their abilities. In spite of that, the four families had chosen to live modest lives, taking up residence across the world and living regular lives. Though some had branched out to Midgard to become the wardens of their given Havens, at times the previous God's Governors and their families would remain on Asgard. That matter aside though, it was not what Samson was curious about. The Pledger's Rite was not something that could be taught easily because of how complex it was-one mistake and the entire rite could fail. For this reason, most families entrusted teaching their children the dance to a family by the name of Godwin, a family of dancers who knew this, among many other dances for both leisure and rites. The last generation of Godwin was around the same age as Samson and Julius, and they had a single daughter-Hazel. For a moment he reminisced fondly of their youth as the two learned to dance together, and her eventual growth into his teacher as her parents passed down the torch to her and he took up arms and went to war with the Agasura on Jienda. The moment subsided as he focused on a more pressing matter. “The teacher at the academy, Mrs. Go-” He faltered, “Falk. Hazel Falk. Did you know of her husband?”
    “Mr. Falk? Of course. He used to help out at the academy on his days off. He was really good!” Samson listened intently and nodded as she spoke. He would have to be, wouldn't he? Save for her parents, Hazel was the best dancer in their entire village. She became a teacher to both children and adults alike. If Cedric Falk was not up to snuff he never would've had the talent to become her Pledger, let alone her dance partner and husband. Though he was talented, he still had abandoned her during the war. For what reason had he sent her and Reina away and remained in the fray? Queen Peorth's orders were absolute-all those untrained must take their families and escape to their assigned Havens on Midgard. Every town had people who were assigned to help refugees escape in case of emergency, and Samson knew Cedric was not on that list. “Hey, earth to Sam!” Melody waved her hand in his face and he blinked. “You've been nodding for like twenty seconds now. I was done talking a while ago you know.”
    He was becoming rather inattentive of late. Perhaps he spent too much time thinking at the wrong times. “Well...I'm glad to see that you're alive and well-and here. Did your family escape also?”
    She smiled and nodded. “Yup, they're all a-okay. We were assigned to Xenym too, but Mom and Dad weren't so fond of the cold so we didn't stay long. They moved to Lemanin with my little brother and I came here with some of the other girls to help out.”
    For such a young girl Melody certainly was diligent. Thankfully for her, her efforts would pay off in kind. “I see. I'm glad to hear that.” He blinked and replaced his relief with a serious expression. “Did you see Cedric Falk when your family was escaping?”
    She nodded. “We were one of the last to escape and he came down with us with another lady and her kids. I don't think she was from our town though. I'd never seen her before, at least.”
    The adventurer's eyes sharpened. “I see. Where did you all land?”
    “We landed in the Selki Village. The Village Chief Jared was really friendly too. Apparently he knew Queen Peorth and the late Queen Remedi. Can you believe that?”
    Samson looked rather surprised. Were the Selki not Agasura also? To think that the late queen had found a way to form a relationship with the Selki was impressive, to say the least. He shook his head again as he realized he was getting off topic. He needed to find out about Cedric. “It is, but that's not what I wanted to ask. What happened to Cedric? The Selki Village isn't far from Xenym, so he should've returned with you and your family right?”
    “Should've? Well yeah. He didn't though. He and the others had disappeared after our stay in the Selki Village. We don't know where they went for sure, but one of the selki reported that it looked like they were headed in the direction of Elias.”
    Samson clenched his fists instinctively. Cedric was so close to Hazel and Reina. He was no more than a day or two's walk to Xenym, and their family would be reunited. For what reason would he leave them and go with another lady and her children? He sighed and shook his head. The answer seemed obvious, yet he didn't want to write off Cedric's actions so easily because he only had vague clues to the full story. At the very least, he knew that Cedric was not killed upon Asgard, and had safely landed on Midgard. His whereabouts and status remained unknown, but it was still possible that he was out there. For Reina's sake, he would not give up the search. “Can you recall what the other people who descended with you looked like?”
    Melody shook her head. “It's been way too long for me to recall their faces. Though if you're looking for Cedric, maybe he took to one of the other Havens? I hope they've been faring well too. Though if anything happened I'm sure Mom and Dad would let me know.”
    “That might be my best bet.” Though he said that, he had already been to every other Haven on Jienda and his search had proved fruitless. “That's all I needed to know. Thanks Melody.”
    “No problemo. Now it's your turn to answer my question.”
    He grinned lightly. “Ask away.”
    Her face turned serious. “Sam, I know you might think Grant's daughter is your niece, but I want you to really ponder this question. What if she isn't?” Again, he was taken aback by Melody's words, but this time it left him questioning his motives rather than hers. He had felt sure that it was Kasumi-he had found more proof than he had suspected, but did he have the luxury to assume that he was right, going by his knowledge alone? If there was no one to confirm that what he thought he knew was true, he could be taking the girl from her family only to find out that she was not who he thought she was. “You look confused. Don't be.” She gave him a melancholy smile. “Maybe she is the girl. But whether she is or not, I honestly believe that she really, really likes you. If you refuse her because she's your niece and you have enough proof to know for sure, I'll understand, and I'm sure she will when she's a little older. But if she isn't, I want you to really take her feelings into account before you dismiss them. Right now it might seem like simple puppy love in the eyes of an adult, but love is an enduring thing, and those that are true are enduring. When she becomes an adult, if her feelings remain unchanged will you answer her properly?”
    He looked at her solemnly. He knew what it was like to be in those shoes-to hold on to an enduring love for years at a time, and the wounds that one would carry for it. Though he had his doubts that what the young girl felt for him was anything more than adoration, perhaps what Melody told him had a grain of truth to it. He had experienced something very similar in both Reina and Alessa's youths, but it was likely nothing more than the two seeing him as a father-figure which the former of the two lacked, and the latter rarely saw. Kasumi, or who he believed to be her, had both parental figures, but no one to call a friend save for her wolf companion. Samson closed his eyes. Had he just set aside his pride, perhaps he would have had a better understanding of the God's Governors, and in doing so could know what it took to be one, and what it meant. They were years he could not take back, and now as he became a prominent figure in her life he had to ask himself whether leaving her solely because she was not the person he sought out would be something he could do without remorse. He opened his mouth to speak but he could not find the words that felt right to him-only the words that he knew she wanted to hear, and he would not accept that.
    “You don't have to answer the question Sam. I believe in you, and the fact that you've given it this much thought speaks for itself.” She grinned. “Just...one more thing. If you have someone else in your heart, let her down easy okay? The first one is the worst one, after all.” Again, her smile told one story but her eyes another. Just by her words he felt as if what she spoke of was something she too had become familiar with. He felt himself at a loss for words still, and for that reason and to avoid dredging up painful memories for her he nodded solemnly. She gave him a couple of pats on the shoulder and smiled once more, properly this time before pointing to the angry girl looking at him from a distance. “Might wanna go apologize to the lone wolf cutie over there before she hits you. Our little chat took up a couple of songs.” She peeled away from him and broke out into a sprint. “See ya! Good luck!”
    As Samson approached he laughed nervously as she stood at the sidelines, pouting with her arms crossed.
    “You're slow! That was more than one song!” She hissed.
    He rubbed his neck. “Sorry kiddo,” The adventurer said.
    “You didn't keep your promise either.”
    “You're right. That was bad of me huh?”
    “You're gonna have to make it up to me geezer.”
    He chuckled gently. She certainly could hold a grudge. “Will you forgive me after that?”
    She seemed to think it over. “Maybe.”

    The moon gently rested in the sky and the stars twinkled from galaxies away, and beneath them the village of Hanamah bustled once more. Holding to her grudge about the Harvest Festival Kasumi had insisted that Samson wear a costume on All Hallow's Eve and join her in trick or treating. He would have joined her if she asked, but she wouldn't convince him to wear a costume regardless of however much she requested it. Much to her fortune and his dismay, the Elias GMA branch had sent over two representatives with a myriad of costumes themed after a variety of Agasura for children and adults alike along with candy that they sold. He knew that they partook in most holidays that Humanity celebrated, but most of them he never bothered to attend because he was adventuring. As he looked upon the costume he was given he chuckled under his breath-though once a terrifying enemy, now the outfit had become nothing more than an item of his nostalgia. He borrowed a costume themed after the Guardian of Spooky Village, the Undertaker. The outfit itself was all black, featuring a robe, coat, boots and hat all with a gold trim, a series of large red beads that rounded the hat, a gold pipe and matching hoop earrings. It even came with a small eye demon familiar that rested on the shoulder of the coat-just like the real thing.
    The first time he had seen the Undertaker he was with Julius and Rosetta-though she was scared stiff and Julius still shaken from using too much of his power, the trio still managed to power through the Instance Dungeon and come back victorious. Following the event Samson handled the report and left the two to rest for a spell. Despite his nostalgia, it was not one of the fondest times for him-rather, it was a hard time for all of them, but something they managed to pull through together albeit by the skin of their teeth, to say the least. If he could help it he swore that he would not let anything of the sort happen a second time, which became a major reason for him to have such a keen eye on his younger brother and in the same vein his children.
    He donned the outfit and began to tie his chestnut hair into a single braid that rested against his back, his bangs flowing freely per usual. Though the costume did not come with a silver wig to accompany the outfit, he recalled the look of the Agasura and decided to represent it fully, as best as he could-the idea of dyeing his hair was not something he was fond enough to do for the sake of the event. Upon completing the task he rose from the bed he sat in and shifted his robe slightly. If he had a mirror to see how it looked would be convenient, but there were others in the house near where he was, so it was a small matter.
    After finishing his preparations he stepped into the night to the sound of music and celebrations, the cackle of witches and laughter of pumpkin ghosts and children as they bustled about carrying buckets and bags. He caught a glimpse of a little Vampanelar looking at him and he grinned at her, she doing the same and revealing the fangs that rested within her mouth.
    “You look pretty scary in that geezer! Maybe you should wear it all the time.” Kasumi said with a laugh. She wore a frilly black dress with white lace, white stockings and matching platform shoes. Beatrice seemed to have given her hair a wavy style and upon both sides of her head were a pair of black bat wings. If Lucia had seen her on this day she would adore her-perhaps both she and her sisters would feel that way; the whole group were Agasura of Foe Mansion who had become allies to the Cerebians through the influence of an unknown source. He considered the possibility of it being the former of the reigning queen, but Lucia had not become a Confidant until after the Second Asgardian War, and it was at that time Queen Peorth had been labelled as missing in action. She was one of the people he had sought out in his journey, but found no leads on-many had claimed she had likely fallen in the battle and that his search would be fruitless. The fact that TJ, the Exalted One had still lived perhaps there was hope that Queen Peorth too was also out there. Though the fact that he was with Iris meant the two were not together. Even if he had found one, he would still need to locate the other.
    Setting the thought aside he answered, “Would you rather I haunt you? You'll be dreaming of two geezers instead of just one.”
    “The other geezer isn't a scary one though. But I'm not scared of the you now or the normal you.” He snickered at her remark and blinked upon seeing Bane. “Besides, I have Bane to protect me from Agasura.”
    Her canine companion wore a torn brown rag over his body, a red bandana on his head and a black eyepatch with a skull on it. He growled and barked once, while the adventurer crossed his arms in response. Kasumi probably knew what he wanted to say, if he really did have anything to say.
    Right on cue she said, “Bane says 'arr matey'. He's a zombie pirate.” Samson had never rode the Haunted Ship because of Julius' distinct hatred of the undead, but he heard it was one of the features of it. Rosetta despised ghosts, he hated undead creatures and together the two would go nowhere near the Pyramids of the Desert, Spooky Village or the ship at night. It's not everyday an adventurer would get the chance to do battle with a kraken. Kasumi glanced at her familiar once more and back to Samson. “He also said 'ye scurvy dog'.”
    “Really?”
    Bane gave her a questioning glance and she burst out into laughter. “Okay he didn't say that. I just read that pirates say stuff like that in a book.”
    He cracked a smile at her words. “That's what I thought.”
    She walked up to him and pulled on his hand before looking him in the eyes. “So? What're we waiting for? Candy! Candy! Let's go trick or treating!”
    At times mature and other times childish, she really was a mixed bag, but the times where he could see her like this were often far and few between, but small things that he treasured. “Alright, alright. Lead the way.”
    She took her bag and Bane picked up a small orange bucket with a pumpkin design in his mouth before trotting after her. Samson sighed happily before following in her wake as she skipped to the first house. She knocked on the door and Saul stepped out looking rather merry.
    “Trick or treat!” Kasumi shouted excitedly holding out her bag. Bane barked along with her and sat down, holding his head high with the bucket ready. Samson got a small laugh out of the sight.
    “And what're you supposed to be?” He asked with a grin.
    “ A vampire! And this is my pirate zombie dog.” Bane looked at her indignantly and she grinned.
    “Pretty scary. Here ya go.” Saul put some candy into her bag and her companion's bucket before giving Samson an approving nod. “Looks like you've become a part-time dad too huh Kolb?”
    Samson chuckled before averting his gaze. “Part-time dad? Nah not really. More like rather large friend.”
    “Good on you. Both of you. Have fun out there ya hear?”
    “I'm sure we will.” Samson flashed him a smile. His gaze quickly turned curious. “You're not taking your kids tonight?” Knowing Saul, he wouldn't miss a chance to spend some quality time with his children. There was nothing he loved more than it, hunting being a close second, be it Agasura or animals.
    He laughed. “Not this time. I'm on guard duty today, wife's orders. You might see her and the little tykes around here somewhere.”
    “Geezer! Come on! We gotta hurry or we'll miss out on getting candy!” Kasumi shouted as she and Bane stopped in front of the next house.
    “Alright I'll be right there! Sorry Saul. We'll talk again soon.” Samson waved once as he turned away and jogged after the young girl.
    “Happy hunting!” He said waving.
    “Hey geezer,” Kasumi began.
    “Hmm?” He glanced at the girl who earnestly looked at him.
    “Whenever we go trick or treating Bane gives his candy to me. Sometimes he'll eat certain things but he won't eat any chocolate I give to him. Why's that?”
    This question gave him pause. He knew the answer, and was ready to say it in a heartbeat but he could feel the wolf glaring daggers at him and a small snicker escaped his lips. He really did worry too much. Perhaps it was time for a little revenge on a certain canine? “Did Bane not tell you?”
    She pursed her lips. “No. He won't tell me for some reason.”
    He smiled. The two really were like a pair of siblings, and the more he came to learn about them, her especially, the more enamoured he became with her. “Well I guess you could say do-” He stopped mid-sentence to cough and hide his grin before going on, “canines don't particularly like chocolate.” Bane let out an exasperated groan.
    She furrowed her brows, but not out of anger-it seemed that she was mulling the thought over. “Oh. Do you eat candy geezer?”
    “Hmm...” The thought rarely crossed his mind. He didn't have a particular desire or fondness for it, but it wasn't entirely impossible. Perhaps under the right circumstances he would. If she was the one offering, eating a few would not harm him any. “Sometimes. I don't mind it too much.”
    She grinned a toothy grin. “Then you can eat all the ones I don't like!”
    He looked aghast. She was definitely cunning-he would be sure not to underestimate her.

    The following week had passed by uneventfully. Kasumi returned to her daily life and studies, and Samson had returned to working. The following weekend had rolled around and with it came new mail. Though a small event in his life, his days in Hanamah had made him learn a greater appreciation for it. Throughout the year he had received letters from some old party members inquiring about his recent endeavours and telling of popular Instance Dungeons they were interested in and would like him to partake in. Along with those, his previous mails had been gathered and delivered. Those that most caught his interest were those sent by Reina, keeping to her promise. She was certainly diligent in both her training and studies, and yet she still made the time to write to him at least once every other week.
    “Good morning Samson.” Grant said with a sleepy nod. Though he was not a morning person, he always got up early along with Tory to make sure that everything was in order and that should anyone need their assistance, he would be there and at the ready.
    “You look exhausted Grant. Did you not sleep well?” Samson asked with a raised eyebrow, worry lined the edges of his words.
    “Hmm? Oh no not at all! I slept really well actually. Though it's been quite some time I still haven't quite adapted to this lifestyle.” He laughed gently before yawning.
    “It's not easy, but just like Russel said you were the right man for the job. Your hard work is appreciated.”
    “You're too kind.” Grant chuckled. “By the way, there's some mail for you Samson. Hang on a moment, I'll go get it.” The town hall was rather small, and leaving aside the visitor's area, the larger half of it was closed off. On that side Tory and Grant handled all the village affairs, and from what Samson could see from his side of the booth there were a fair amount of papers, leaving aside the letters for the inhabitants. Grant himself, though not one of the founders or the first people to come to Hanamah had taken up the role of minister for the sake of the village. It was a large responsibility, and most inhabitants did not have the experience nor charisma to take up the task. Others had already taken up various roles in the village that were required for the survival of the people and for it to function. As Grant returned he handed Samson a couple of letters and leaned on the small booth that separated them. “This might interest you also.”
    “Hmm?” Grant raised an eyebrow.
    “We have a visitor. Actually, she'll be staying in Hanamah for some time.”
    The adventurer was rather surprised by the news. Visitors, let alone new people were uncommon. He'd been the new guy for quite a long time. It seemed there would be someone else that would take up the mantle of new girl. “She arrived earlier today?”
    He nodded. “She'll be staying with Cruz and Warren. They're getting her settled in right now, but once everyone is up we'll do a proper introduction for her.”
    There were still a few vacant houses around in case there were any people who wished to immigrate to Hanamah. More Cerebians were welcome, and they certainly could use more hands around the village. “Just one girl though? I take it that she's not staying permanently?”
    “Can't say for sure yet, and I can't really tell you the details of her matters but even though I know there's still a lot that's up in the air about the matter. We might just have to wait and see. Though she's young, so I highly doubt that she's looking to settle down. She might just be an adventurer looking for a place to begin. If so, she's certainly picked the right place on Jienda. Belos isn't far off.”
    Samson crossed his arms and knit his eyebrows. An adventurer? If she was a newcomer it wasn't entirely unreasonable, but where did she come from and why did she choose to come to Hanamah alone? A young girl at that. Maybe the matter was not his to ponder, but the possibility that it was Roll was something he would not rule out. “Yeah. Looks like we will have to wait and see.” He gave Grant a nod. “I'll see you then. Thanks again Grant.”
    Grant waved him off. “Anytime.”

    When Samson returned home he reached into one of the drawers and took out one from Julius. It was the last letter that he received from him, and no matter how many times he read it his thoughts still remained bogged down with regret. The thoughts that he could have saved them-that he could have made a difference had he been there to fight alongside them; why had he chosen to leave? Was he afraid to face his past? Whenever he saw Julius it reminded him of his promises, those he still struggled to hold to and those he had failed to, and at times it scared him. The deaths of his parents in the war were scars that never healed, and the words that his father had left haunted him throughout his youth, now following both his and his son's demise. The years Samson had traversed Jienda in search of Kasumi were the worst he had experienced, and he felt thankful that he could hardly remember them, yet he felt as if he had wasted away the time. During that time he thought back to the few moments he and his father spoke, and the time he had spent with Julius and Rosetta. What if he could have that time back? What if it were possible to change things-that there were a future where the invasion never happened? He chuckled dryly. Wishful thinking would not bring back the dead, nor would it give him back the time that had passed him by. With a bit of remorse in his heart, he unfolded the letter and read the page once more:

    Dear Sam:
    Have you been faring well? I know it's been quite some time since we last heard from you, and knowing you, you're likely on quite the grand adventure. I'd expect no less from my brother, just be sure that you come home safely and pay us a visit. Rosetta and I would be absolutely delighted to have you drop in again, and I'm positive that when the time comes Kasumi would be enthused to meet you also. Still, I can't thank you enough for helping us to come to a conclusion on what to name our daughter. Rosetta and I wouldn't likely make a decision until the very day she was born. Though she would not admit it under any circumstances, she adored your choice. But you already knew that, didn't you?
    Things have been very quiet here, but everyone is doing well including Bane. Upon your leave he has proven to be rather sulky, but he did confess that he's looking forward to your next visit. He told me that your presence really livens up Xenym in a way that only you can, and that perhaps visiting more frequently may be good for you. Perhaps you might consider taking him on your journey? I believe you've really grown on him! Ha ha just a joke.
    Nevertheless, Kasumi has been rather rowdy, and both Rosetta and I suspect that we should be expecting her soon. I hope that when she's born that you'll be nearby so you can join us in this time of celebration. Our family may be small, but even if it is just the five of us I believe that we are something much, much more. Be well Samson, and be sure to come and see your niece as soon as you can, 'Uncle Sam'.

    Love, Julius

    He laughed quietly as he finished reading the letter. He would never have thought that he would go on a wild goose chase after a girl who may or may not be his niece, only to become a friend for her. If it was her, there would come a day that he would have to let her know that he was her uncle, and that she had slipped away from her family to the safety of Hanamah. In spite of all that happened, the peaceful days he had spent following in the wake of the young girl had certainly changed him. For the first time in years he had felt that the time he had spent was...memorable. Her smiles, angry faces, excitement and disappointments. Everything felt so vivid, and each and every day was something unique and new when she was around. Just as she had taken a shine to him, he had her and it felt rather fitting. He wondered if this is the peace that Julius and Rosetta came to know and coveted so dearly during their time in Xenym. Though they knew they would need to return to the fray someday, a moment of respite felt like a necessity that Samson never come to know-a treasure he was yet to discover. After Reina's hardships, perhaps she had found something akin to that in Elias, With Vanir and co. Glancing at the letters he received he saw one with her name on it and decided to open it and view the contents. As he did along with the letter a picture slid out of the whole group at Madelaine's.
    The store had decorations for All Hallow's Eve, from pumpkins at the entrance to fake cobwebs and spiders on the windows. The four were gathered before the door for the picture, each in costume. Salem wore a brown rag and shackles on his bare legs, with his head tilted and one leg dragging across the floor. The makeup he wore gave his skin a rotting look, like that of a zombie's. The expression he made with the blood around his mouth was a nice touch.
    Vanir, who seemed to be the type who would not be caught dead in anything other than a suit wore just that, a black shirt, pants and gloves with a white coat and shoes. He wore a blue cravat and a ragged black cape. His silver hair was splayed and he wore half of a mask on one side of his face, and his strange cloth on the other. Beneath his bangs the other half of his face could barely be seen. Samson had heard of the Agasura he was dressed as, known as Opersters but he was yet to see one himself.
    Skuld wore a strapless pink dress, tall brown boots, blue rubber gloves and a mask that rested on the top of her head. Her hair was tied in twin braids and she held a chainsaw big enough for a child. The metal left arm was reminiscent of the robots of Foe Mansion, the Victors, but Samson was certain they were not the same. Like Vanir, she was likely another type of Agasura from a place by the name of White Chapel-an Agasura or a robot known as Erazers he believed. A lot like their Foe Mansion counterparts, but much smaller. If the Brownie was any indication of them, they were rather adorable at that, though deadly.
    Last but not least was Reina, who stood in the center of the group with a spear in one hand and holding up a peace sign with the other. She wore quite the daring outfit, dressed in the typical selki clothing. They had little use for staying warm, so they typically only covered their chests and waists, save for the seal skin they wore on their head. Alike to those Samson had seen in his travels, she wore similar garb and a fake seal skin on her head, tusks and all. She even wore the paws on her hands and feet. He chuckled gently at the overjoyed grin she wore.
    He unfolded her letter and began to read what she had written for him:

    Dear Mr. Kolb
    Your letter reached me safe and sound, and it's wonderful to hear that you are too! Truthfully I was really surprised to hear that you discovered someone that just might be Kasumi. You're really quick! Maybe you should take up residence in Elias and set up a little info shop like Lucia? You could certainly give her a run for her money! Then again, if you did you couldn't adventure with us so don't consider that too seriously okay?
    Though I have to admit the past few weeks have been a lot of fun. Salem and Vanir and Skuld and I have been frantically running about to compete in the Halloween event hosted by the Game Master's Association here and it's been crazy. It reminds me of the times they would visit Xenym and do a little event for the kids. I began to miss the days where you would take us to those a little bit, after October came to an end but I'm doing my best not to be do caught up in my own nostalgia. The past had a lot of warm moments but whenever I read your letters it always reminds me that we have to keep working hard so that there will be many more of those moments to come. I'm going to keep doing my best to accomplish my goals, so don't be discouraged either Mr. Kolb. You're my role model, after all. I know you'll find Kasumi.
    On another note, how are Grant and Beatrice doing? It's been quite some time since we saw them at the shop, and hearing that you're staying with them really came as a surprise. On that note, would you show that picture to Beatrice for me please? She made me promise that I would take a picture of Skuld's Halloween costume. I sent some down for her but you have the only group shot. I hope you liked the pictures we sent you! Vanir took them for us. I think he misses you a little bit, but when I ask him he gets really defensive. It's fun to tease him about it once in a while.
    But leaving all that aside, there's a more important matter that I want to address. Since my other letters have reached you safely, you already are aware of our plan right? Just to reiterate, in the coming weeks we plan on putting our mission into action. We have two guilds on our side, along with some of the refugees from our last mission-Uprising, and Revolution, both of them from Ramalda. We might be able to get further reinforcements from Lemanin, but I can't say for sure yet. Asking them to put their lives on the line for our mission is quite a daunting request for them, so any willing I'm thankful for. We are still ironing out the finer details, and enough transportation for everyone to reach Aoich so nothing is set in stone, but we are planning to mobilize by the end of November. I hope by then that you've successfully located Kasumi. I don't expect you to bring her to the Dark Moon, but to have you fighting by our side would really raise the morale of our troops. That and...I'd feel more confident knowing that you were there. I'm not that strong but your presence would inspire me. Please consider this, Mr. Kolb. Thank you for your time, and more than anything, be well.

    With love, Reina

    Reina...how strong she had become over the years that he had become weaker. He envied her courage a bit, but also took solace in her words. He tried so hard not to be the person that people thought he was, as not to disappoint them, but in spite of his cowardice she saw through the veil he hid behind and placed her faith in him though he ran away from who he once was. At times he wondered if he did it to find Kasumi, or if it was because he was still reluctant to come face to face with his past. Reina had made peace with her past and fought to change her present, while forging a future for herself and those she cared about, including him. The young girl he once knew had become an adult, and took up the sword to lead her people in a campaign against the Dark Moon. He held the letter to his chest and closed his eyes. Perhaps in her his fate lay in wait. Her campaign would usher in a new age for the Cerebians, and she had the conviction to justify it, and see it through successfully. Perhaps through this he would get a step closer to finding out the whereabouts of the Exalted One and by extension Queen Peorth. The Dark Moon Princess and Choen Palm were inextricably intertwined, so to find one would lead to the other, and a chain reaction would follow.
    He took a deep breath. To join Reina in her campaign he would first need to settle the matters here-to decide what he wanted to be to Kasumi, what future he thought would be best for her and what he would do should he take her along with him, and still want to side with Reina. Should he be wrong, have an answer to her feelings to uphold his promise with Melody. As he looked at the words written in Reina's familiar handwriting he wondered how he felt. Would he someday come to love the young girl if it turned out that she was not Kasumi? It would mean that he would have to let go of his previous love; though he had given up on it years ago the fact that he could not uphold his promise, and that he could not protect her haunted him among other things.
    He folded the letter and rose to his feet before carefully putting it away among the other letters that Reina had sent him. Though much younger than him, she always took the time to reassure him in her letters because she genuinely cared for and worried for his sake. For her sake, he would become that which she had come to know and so much more so that he could finally put her fears to rest. He would fight for her future also. He could start by finding Kasumi, and seriously considering what he would do once the two were reunited as family. Until then, he would do some growing of his own.

    A couple of hours later Grant and Tory had gathered the whole of Hanamah to introduce the new member of the village so as there would be no misunderstandings or confusion, which could easily lead to panic. Kasumi was with Beatrice and Bane so he could show at his leisure, and came in shortly after most of the village had already assembled in the heart of the Haven. After a brief while the voices of the crowd died down for Grant or Tory to speak.
    “Thank you for assembling in such a timely manner everyone. We know this may be sudden, but we will be having a new member in our community joining us. She has come all the way from Mezzalone to join our community so we hope that you will give our guest a warm welcome.” Vice-minister Tory said.
    “No need to be shy. Go ahead and introduce yourself.” Grant said to her.
    Amidst the crowd it was difficult for Samson to get a good look at the visitor, but the voice that he heard in the moments that followed Grant's words was unmistakable.
    “My name is Amata,” A bold and commanding voice declared, “God's Governor of Fire. I've come here to find a girl who goes by the title 'The Prodigal Legend' also known as God's Governor of Earth.”

    I managed most of this through the power of donuts. Donuts are love. Donuts are life.
    Gonna spoiler tag this whole thing just in case, since it references some of the ideas I had mentioned before.
    Spoilers Within:
    Anyway time to get serious. So as you can see lately I've been working really hard to tie Frequency's lore in with USSR, since they're the same dang universe. USS covered little bits and pieces but things have really grown since then, and now well...Asgard is a place-with places on it. Kinda wish I expanded on it a bit more in TJ's memory but if I ever fix up Freq again I'll try to fix up the details of the surrounding area and whatnot. I'll cover it properly later though. But that aside, we get a little insight into the Pledger's Rite here courtesy of Mr. Know-it-all Sam. There are a lot of rituals and rites that'll pop-up every now and again, like those that TJ, Peorth and SU have performed. The most common way is through inccantation, but as you can see it's not the only way. The regions on Asgard rely on a myriad of ways to accomplish the same goal, just because it's in their blood. Similar to Midgard, the people have their own way of doing things across the world, but generally follow one belief. On the other hand, they have people that they hold in high regard or worship, like the original God's Governors or the Seven Saints, depending on where they hail from. Those guys too, you'll be hearing about later but I can't go too into detail. What Samson knows is a mix of Sanc content and well, general events within the timeline. He's surprisingly well versed because of his travels and the Godwin family!
    Just in case you were wondering, the difference between a bard and what they describe as a true Bard is the magical ability. Anyone could pick up a guitar/lute and become a bard, but they need to have some semblance of magical talent to become the class. The bard in the band isn't the same kind of bard TJ is, to put it bluntly. The notes for the song remain the same, but without the magic the ritual can't be performed. So it's possible for TJ to learn it too! Will he? Who knows? On that note, Reina actually has a last name and her father has a first name! First time, you heard it here lol. I must admit though, I wonder if I should've kept her maiden name. For now I'll keep it as is but it requires some further thought.
    Again, throughout the story you get occasional glimpses into Samson's past with Rosy and Jules. There are so, so many nicknames in this. Jeebus. A lot of the places might not be explored in the main story, but they are places in the world and I wanted to stay true to the game as much as I could. It's a bit nostalgic at times. But I mean, who wouldn't wanna fight a kraken? Moving on, whole lot of references lol. The Vamps and Lucia here too. Sam has met her before, and though he didn't directly say he had earlier he knows how she runs her business from personal experience lol. I wanna do more with Bane, because I love him. Though I'm a cat person. Tough to do though, since he doesn't actually talk, and I don't wanna shoehorn in his remarks through Kasumi too much. I think for the most part, he'd be there but only make his presence known with the occasional comment like he usually would. Like Salem with more attitude. In a fight though he'd be a bit more prominent since he's Kasumi's partner. Just an FYI, she's the only one who gets off for calling him a dog-cause he's secretly a softy.
    Moving on, Grant is the minister of Hanamah because of necessity. He came pretty late in the cycle of it's building and completion, but they needed someone to take up the mantle and he was there in the right place and time. When I come around for the final copy I might give the place a bit more detail, but as I wrote that part something in me just screamed Animal Crossing, so there's a bit of reluctance lol. This is what happens when you're like 14 and you play too much AC. I'll show myself out.
    So last but not least we have the letters scene that was originally in USS. I remembered! Julius' is a lot alike to the first time, but I fixed it up a bit and gave Sam a better monologue, like the rest of the story. In truth, I do fear that sometimes his thoughts are repeated a little too much, but I'm a bit reluctant to change it. It's somewhere between adding new monologues would make it too much of an information overload, but taking it away straight out would leave little room for his growth as a character. I intended for him to be one that often looks back to find a path forward, so retrospective for him is urgent. While on the other hand, Reina-ah never mind that. Don't wanna give away too much about her growth lol. You can see it for yourself there. The part here is really far into Innocent actually-it's closer to the end of the story. It won't be the last time you hear of her though. Just a bit of a spoiler warning I guess lol. What Su said near the end of Freq is a hint!
    I could go on about ships but that is probably inappropriate for me lol. Anyway, with this update we're finally ushering in the final arc, the Arrival of God's Governor of Fire. It was no surprise she was coming but it's here! I'm gonna intertwine her story into the final arc of USS, so we're finally gonna technically get back on track. I don't think it'll take long for me to reach the ending, but when you have two God's Governors in the same place you know something's gonna happen lol. Hopefully while doing this, I can give those characters the final steps towards their growth that they need.
    Just in case though, I don't think Amata will see as much growth as the others because of her late arrival, but her arc isn't meant to be covered here, so we'll see some of her story but not as much change as the others have seen. Anyway, until next time.
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Fri Oct 31, 2014 5:25 pm

    Page 98-102:
    Samson's mouth remained agape as the words left the young girl's mouth and in the seconds that followed afterwards. In all of his years he had never seen such an event occur, and he would have never imagined that one of the four God's Governors would openly confess their identity and also virtually challenge another God's Governor. If it were so easy there would be little reason for all of Hanamah to keep her hidden amongst them, and could lead to a much worse ending in comparison to Xenym. He shuddered at the thought of the chain reaction of bad events that would follow, but having two God's Governors in the same place could spell bad news. At the thought he paused. When did Amata succeed her father?
    “G-God's Governor of Earth you say?” Grant uneasily asked in response. “Hold on a moment Amata, don't you think you're putting the cart before the horse here?”
    She furrowed her brows at his comment before turning her body to face him and crossing her arms. “It is what I came here for. What's wrong with it?”
    Samson placed a hand to his face and sighed. The girl was as brash as he knew her to be, and if her father had passed on his title and sent her off it definitely meant that things would not go over well. The concerned voices that answered Amata's sudden declaration showed that the citizens of Hanamah were downright puzzled and unsure of how to respond to it. He rubbed the back of his neck as he waited a couple more moments before he decided to step in and intervene.
    “Excuse me.” He said quite a few times as he made his way through the crowd and got a glimpse of the girl and the colourful three-piece saree she wore. At the sound of his voice and his approach she immediately turned to him and waved-he figured she would spot him cause of his rather abnormal height. Amidst the other villagers he stood out a rather fair amount, but never paid it any mind. Melody occasionally commented on how handy it was.
    She immediately broke away from the two to meet him on the way and grinned, her black hair flowing behind her as she ran. “Hey! Samson!” She shouted before he reached her. “What're you doing here? You retired yet?”
    She launched a pair of questions at him before he could even come to a halt. “No I'm not retired and I'm here because-” He froze up. To tell her his reason would be sealing the deal and putting him in the same boat as her, but if anyone could discern a God's Governor from an ordinary Cerebian, it would be another. She would be a blessing to him and a bane. “I'm taking some time off of adventuring. Kicking back and pulling my weight around Hanamah a bit. I'm a Cerebian too.”
    She grinned. “Don't you think you're getting too old to adventure? Your hair's already turning grey Samson.” He smiled wryly at her comment but before he could retort she went on. “So how long have you been here?” She placed her hands to her hips and grinned. “You're a sharp one aren't ya? If anyone's seen the God's Governor of Earth it'd be you, so where is she, huh?”
    His eyes shuttered. The doubt in his mind had subsided for the most part, on whether or not it was Kasumi, but if her fate was to find her he did not want it to be like this. “I can't say for sure that I know where she is. Why are you looking for her anyway, Amata?”
    The teenager pursed her lips at his comment. “How can you not know where she is? You know Ju-” He covered her mouth and whispered 'shh' and suspicious glances met his uneasy gaze.
    “You...are unbelievably troublesome. Did you know that?” He looked down at her and she said something indecipherable into his hand with a shrug. “I'm just gonna...have a chat with her.” He let go of her and gestured for her to follow and she did so, albeit wearing a victorious grin.

    The two went to the side of the farmhouse and Samson leaned against it with a sigh. “What on earth are you doing here?” He blinked and shook his head. A question like that would net him the same answer the others had received recently. “Why are you so adamant on finding God's Governor of Earth? And what on Midgard is the Prodigal Legend?”
    She crossed her arms. “You should really get with the times Samson. Have you been under a rock or something in those few years you were gone?” The adventurer had gotten rather used to being berated by her father. He was both Samson and Julius' elder, after all, and a close friend and rival to their own father in his youth. Or as Melody would describe it, a frenemy; supposedly Kasumi had a series of them, but when she and the boys came back with bruises and bloody noses he had his doubts that they were any type of friends. The matter aside, being insulted by the previous God's Governor of Fire's daughter was not something he would like to adapt to. Alvaro Seitz and his daughter Amata both shared in that nature, but she was much too young to be speaking like that. He wondered if Kasumi also, would become this way in her teenage years and worried for her sake. She continued her unrelenting assault, “Then again, you came to Hanamah of all places so it's no wonder you're so out of the loop.”
    His mouth curled into a sneer for a moment but he sighed once more and shook his head. “Berate me all you like after you answer the question Amata. And you should really learn to respect your elders.”
    “The Prodigal Legend is the God's Governor of Earth-duh!” She grinned devilishly. “Elder huh? You're just a geezer, so look upon greatness and be amazed! I am, the next God's Governor of Fire after all.” He blinked. Judging by her words, she had not succeeded her father just yet; rather, she was a proxy, or in other words a Governor-in-training. If their father so wished it Julius could have succeeded him at the age of sixteen, but he had held onto his powers until the day he died and on that day his son took up the mantle of God's Governor of Earth. Prior to it, he had given him all the training he would need, a mark as the proof of his succession, and a warning: When you find that you need your powers most, you will awaken as God's Governor of Earth. Samson and Rosetta were present to experience the event, and it was the most horrifying part of their Spooky Village exploration.
    “Until you succeed your father you'll get no respect from me.” He flicked her forehead and shrugged. “Until then you're just some shrimp with a trainee's title.”
    She rubbed her forehead gently and glared at him. “Oh yeah? Well this shrimp could take you down any time, any place!”
    “You could certainly try, but I'd rather not hurt you so I won't fight you. When you've learned to awaken as a God's Governor maybe I'll show you who's the head honcho around these parts. I was the sparring partner of a 0ne of them before you were in diapers kiddo.”
    “If Julius was such a big deal then he wouldn't have lost to some Humans!”
    Samson clenched his fist at her comment. “Say what you will about me, but I won't forgive you if you talk badly of Julius!”
    She averted her gaze and muttered an apology. “My condolences.” He took a deep breath and a moment to let his anger subside. A kid like her would not understand the gravity of being a God's Governor just yet. Hearing the empty words that followed her apology irked him slightly, since it seemed like the words were rehearsed rather than something she truly understood, but how could he hold it against her? As far as he knew, she had not seen the faces of death first-hand, let alone been old enough to recall nor understand what it truly meant. She was still coming to understand the relationship between Cerebian and Mankind-perhaps she too, could use some guidance. He doubted that he was the man to do it, but if push came to shove he would do what was necessary. It seemed he was one of the few who knew Amata, and through that connection he would have to find a way to protect Kasumi and her identity.
    “It's alright. Just be careful of what you say and to whom, because it can land you in a lot of trouble, especially outside of the Havens. Not all people will be so kind, regardless of their race.”
    “Mmkay.” Amata nodded.
    She could certainly do it if she tried. When she actually cooperated it made things a lot easier. “Anyway, this is the first time I heard of that title for the God's Governor of Earth. Where did you hear it?”
    “Dad mentioned it to me.” She said rocking on the balls of her heels. “Said that the previous God's Governor had died but his daughter had survived, and since no one actually knew her name they started calling her that. 'Cause she's a prodigal. Whatever that is.”
    Prodigal Legend, huh? Seems pretty fitting for her. For a baby girl to evade death and live in place of her parents was no small feat. It likely explained how she got the name, but it also raised other questions. Save for Vanir, Reina and Salem, who else knew that she had survived? He rubbed his chin thoughtfully before resting his elbow in his free hand. Vanir had mentioned a little birdy, something that Lucia often said to him during his few visits to her. Did the two have the same outside source? Or was it nothing more than a common phrase shared between information brokers? Lucia and her sisters gathered information, but Vanir just seemed to...know. He sighed gently before looking up to the blue sky, the white clouds lazily drifting by. A gentle wind blew and he looked into the stern eyes of the young girl, the intensity she met his gaze with spoke volumes of her conviction towards her cause. “I see. That matter aside, you've come an awfully long way to find her, don't you think? But why?” Logic dictated that she wished to start adventuring with her-he knew the time would come that the God's Governors would have to join forces, and he anticipated the moment, but it came much sooner than he would have expected.
    “Why? I want her to hand over her right to succession.” She said matter-of-factly, and Samson looked agahst.
    “What?!”
    “Whaddya mean what? Some kid like her shouldn't be the next God's Governor of Earth! Even though you're an old guy you're way more fitting for the title than she is. What training does she have? What does she know about being one?”
    She raised a good point but she would have to be mad to have him take up the mantle at this juncture. Samson had spent his best years with absolutely little to no understanding on the concept and usage of mana, and had become a master Treasure Hunter. Placing him in the shoes of God's Governor would not instantly make him better than Kasumi in that role. She may have been young, but the girl must have been a genius to come to understand how any of it worked without any sort of mentor-save for the old man she spoke of. “Impossible. Amata, be realistic here. Using the God's Governor title to tap into latent abilities is a mistake. Father chose Julius because he had the magical capacity to be his successor. They're born, not chosen. You know that.”
    “And what if The Prodigal Legend isn't up to snuff?”
    “If she isn't then...” I'd succeed her even if I was unwilling. He could not bring himself to say those words. He could not imagine Kasumi dying in battle before he did-or perhaps he just feared the idea of looking upon her grave. “I'm sure she will be. The God's Governors have not failed us yet, and I believe though she may be young, she would be no different.” Though he said they were not chosen, he knew that it was possible for the God's Governor to select their successor if they were of his/her own blood, and should they have none then to pick one of another lineage. Though as far as he knew, it had never been performed before. Even so, he would rather she not know that part.
    Amata grinned devilishly. “So why hide her? Bring her out and lemme' see what she's capable of. I'll be the judge of that.”
    “Who said I'm hiding her?” He crossed his arms. “That aside, it's not like you need me to point her out for you. A God's Governor should have a better sense for that then a regular Cerebian like me.”
    Her mouth curled into a sneer and he raised an eyebrow. “Would that I could! I can sense a Cerebian with unnaturally strong mana from a mile away! But that girl is no different than the others around here.” She glared this time around. “She's no Cerebian. Just some half-breed.”
    The scorn that lined her words sent a chill down Samson's spine, the final two ringing in his mind after she said them. “Half-breed?” He asked incredulously. What Cerebian would be against a unity between humanity and their own kind? He understood that it would take time for the colony to accept that since it was outside their norm, but those that had known Rosetta saw her as one of their own-akin to a Confidant, but more welcoming in the sense that she went a step further to become a part of the colony. Perhaps he had a bias since she was his sister-in-law and Kasumi his niece, but there was no doubt in his mind that the late queen would be absolutely enthralled with the relationship. Should the God's Governors not feel the same? Or was it something unique to the God's Governors of Fire?
    “That's right.” She answered crossing her arms this time. “A useless half-breed is nowhere near cut out to be one of the greatest Mages in our colony!”
    Samson sighed. “And what evidence do you have to support that idea?”
    “Humans can't use mana. Their power is limited to the use of Special Power, and even that's pretty limited. A God's Governor is a master of the Arcane Arts. One who can't master their strength would only destroy themselves, and their allies with them, becoming a threat to the colony as a whole!” One of her sentences sounded like something right out of a textbook-the following as if it was something Alvaro had drilled into the girl's mind. “I'm here to put a stop to this before she gets us all killed!”
    She wasn't entirely wrong. It was true that humans could not use mana, save for a select few, but in spite of the fact it had not hindered Julius nor Rosetta any. In fact, he thought the two were stronger because of it. Julius had mastered techniques that the two could use together, and the two had learned to fight as one, rather than as a pair. In most battles Julius had supported her and Samson when he required the assistance. Samson rubbed the back of his neck uneasily. It may have been too late for him to help Amata to understand the difference between being a master and a threat, but the two were more closely tied than she could grasp at this stage. It was worth an attempt anyway. “Amata, what you said is true, but you're missing the point here. The God's Governors are meant to fight alongside the Cerebians. They're not meant to be a one-man army in battles. If anyone understood that best it would've been Julius. The power of a God's Governor who has mastered the art is destructive, to say the least. If he so wished it he could easily have levelled Elias with his power. He knew that as well as the others before him, and for that reason he held his power back, and fought alongside us. A God's Governor who mastered the art would never, ever let their power run rampant.” He really believed this, and after seeing the aftermath of Xenym he still believed in Julius. The words that he told him were not empty; of all the people Samson had come to know in his years he knew him to be one of the most honest.
    “A half-breed can't master the art. If she can't master the art her powers will go out of control. She might be your niece, but she's still a danger to the colony as a whole, and it's my duty as God's Governor to put a stop to it.” She clenched her fists. “If you're gonna get in my way too then I'm not gonna hold back on you either Samson. Cerebian trash will remain trash no matter how you shine it! So? What's it gonna be? Are we gonna do this the easy way or do I have to handle her by force?”
    Samson shook his head. “I'm not going to let you harm her, nor will I give you any information on who she is. I'll tell you this now, Amata. Going to another Haven and attacking its citizens is not something anyone will turn a blind eye to. I'm sure that your father told you that when you are a guest in another Haven, you're representing your home, and your family also. The clothes speak for themselves.” Amata would rarely wear a saree if she had a choice;unlike Kasumi it was not out of dislike, but that it was not necessary in daily life. To Alvaro, this was likely no small event. The fact that he was sending his daughter across the continent was puzzling, but the man was vehement in his ideals and it was likely one more trait she inherited. “For your safety, and the rest of the Haven I ask that you refrain from such reckless actions. I highly doubt that anything good could come of it.” He sighed and placed his hands in his pockets. He really could not hide Kasumi; at a glance the girl stood out like a sore thumb. The wolf companion she had spoke volumes where a proper understanding of the use of mana could not, though Amata would not likely question the matter like he had. In the same vein, Amata's inability to find hers among the others was rather odd. Could she not sense her because Kasumi had not awakened as a God's Governor? Or was there another reason that neither he nor she knew of? He caught a glimpse of something moving ever so slightly, and spotted one of Bane's ears peeking out from beside the house. He clicked his tongue and the ear instantly disappeared around the corner. He should have expected such an event.
    “Anyone with half a brain would know a God's Governor when they see one, and I'm willing to bet they wouldn't stand in my way if they knew how important my mission was.” He snorted when she said 'mission' and she glared at him. “You of all people should understand how important this is but you're going soft because she's your brother's kid!”
    He frowned. “Are you sure that I don't understand the gravity of the situation? Let me reiterate what you've told me: you came to Hanamah because the last God's Governor is half-human and you don't think she's competent enough to fulfill her role. Therefore you plan to make her give up her title or force her to give it up by force. Is that right?”
    “Yeah? What about it?”
    “If she chooses not to give up the title, you know what that means right?”
    She furrowed her brows but by the defensive stance she took he knew that she was wavering. “Y-yeah! Course I do!”
    He raised an eyebrow. “Enlighten me.”
    “I...I have to...k-k...”
    “Murder!” He said suddenly with a grand gesture to accompany it.
    “It's not murder!” She shouted with a flushed face. “I'll make sure she gives up so nobody get's killed okay?! Jeez!”
    He smiled with a hint of sympathy. She was just a kid, through and through. Knowing her, he would not be able to stop her from attempting it unless he had an eye on her all of the time, but he still was a member of Hanamah and so he had to work all the same as the others in the village. For the time being, he could only hope that she would take his words to heart. Giving Grant's daughter a warning in case Amata tried anything would likely be a good idea. He hoped that if he was not there to defend her that Kasumi could defend herself, and if that she was not Kasumi the God's Governor of Fire would cease her actions. The thoughts of a God's Governor's powers running wild were one fear of his, and now he could add the God's Governor herself running rampant to the list. “Well, I've said my piece. All I ask is that you stay out of trouble, and don't start any. I think we've already reached a point where we'll be considered partners in crime, or at the very least guilty by association. Though that would be the least of my concerns.” The most, the two of you hurting each other with more than just your fists. He thought.
    “I'm old enough and responsible enough to take responsibility for my own actions. So I don't need you telling me that,” She huffed. “Since you've got nothing else worthwhile to say I'm going now. I have to get introduced to everyone and begin my investigation.”
    He blinked. Was this a game to her? He scratched his head and shrugged it off as she walked away. For the sake of his sanity, he would keep a close eye on those girls before one of them really did get hurt.

    Kasumi
    Su had seen Amata around the village, getting to know everybody, including her mom and dad. She had already ran off before they got her to do an introduction too. She and Bane had saw her and the geezer together, and she found it really suspicious; even more suspicious than that was the really long conversation the two had. Bane said they kept talking about God's Governors and a girl and someone called the Prodigal Legend or something like that. She didn't care much about that but she wanted to know why Amata knew the geezer. Was she an adventurer too?
    As she absent-mindedly stared at the blackboard she spotted Amata standing next to her teacher Mrs. Cortez and frowned. The kids in her class were all of different ages because they only had one school and one teacher, but sometimes others came in to teach different things. Her mom taught water magic to those who could use it, but since she was only good with earth magic her teacher was Marie's dad.
    “I'm sure you guys have already gotten acquainted with your new classmate, but in case you haven't met her this is Amata Seitz. She came all the way from Mezzalone to join us so I hope you'll give her a warm welcome.” Mrs. Cortez said.
    “My name's Amata. I'm looking forward to getting to know you guys,” Amata added. Some of her classmates greeted her in turn while those who knew her waved her over and spoke amongst themselves excitedly. Su sighed and stared out the window to her right.
    “Why don't you take a seat over there next to Martin Amata?” There was an empty seat next to Martin-there were a few others in the back also, but it was the closest one.
    “Alright everyone take out your history textbooks and turn to page eighty two. We'll be continuing where we left off on Friday.”
    As Su rummaged through her bag she stole a glance at Amata as Mrs. Cortez gave her a spare history textbook to follow along. Though she wasn't that interested in the new girl, it was certainly interesting to see someone in the position she was in when she first came to Hanamah. Though she couldn't help but feel a tad annoyed that she got along so well with everyone just because she could speak their language. They weren't all that enthused when she showed them that she could speak to wolves. Though the only one that she had with her was Bane, and all of them never got over their fear of him. Shows what they know.
    “Now then, our ancestors had once followed a similar path to acquiring items as Humanity had, which was through barter, or as we know it trade. Years later they had taken what we had known as the guild system and combined it with our trade system to form a kind of currency. This is known as 'Contribution'. Essentially, many of our actions can increase our contribution. Be it doing our jobs, helping out around the house or assisting someone in need, our contribution will increase. Depending on what we do we'll get more contribution. Now mind yourselves, this is not just for earnings! Gaining this resource is an important part of our growth as Cerebians. When we earn a certain amount, if we belong to a guild our guild masters can grant us rewards based on the amount we've obtained throughout our lives.” Blake raised his hand. “Yes Blake?”
    “If a guild master turned the points into a prize how do we buy stuff with it?” He asked.
    “Good question! The amount we earned is separate from the lifetime total. In other words, the guild master's prize doesn't use up the points we've earned. They keep track of the total amount, and once we reach that we can receive our reward.”
    “Mrs. Cortez I have a question!” Marie shouted waving her hand.
    “Yes Marie?”
    “Do we need to be in a guild to get points?”
    “Not at all. Every Cerebian is given a very specific artifact that accompanies and tracks their growth from when they are a very young age. Does anyone know what this is?” Amata raised her hand and Mrs. Cortez acknowledged it. “Yes, Amata.”
    “It's the Angel's Cross. If we can gather enough contribution we can become 'Powers' and receive our wings.”
    “Very good Amata!” Su clicked her tongue. “Ages ago many guilds relied on battling the Agasura to develop their contribution and through this the guild master would select their most accomplished soldiers to be their vice-masters and generals. To the day, fighting in our cause still remains one of the most prominent ways to build contribution, but as you all know it is very, very dangerous! Those who are so inclined will follow the path of a warrior and battle the Agasura, but those who choose not to still can live rather comfortable lives. Learning to fight for the sake of self-defense is always a wonderful idea. I hope that you won't need those skills as you grow older, but should you we have a variety of teachers for every kind of fighter.”

    I might have something to say later! Be back then.
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Sat Nov 08, 2014 6:53 pm

    Pages 102-110:
    “Mrs. Cortez I've got a question!” Marty shouted as his hand shot up.
    “Yes?”
    “What's it take for someone to become a teacher?”
    Mrs. Cortez placed a finger to her chin thoughtfully. “To be a teacher a lot of conditions need to be met. They don't need to specialize in any kind of combat ability, but knowledge is a must. Understanding our culture's history, the inner workings like spells and rituals, and of course various other things is a must. Since teachers are scare, it may have become more or less difficult, I can't say for sure. Those who are well-versed combat-wise can become mentors to students, such as Beatrice teaching the Water Mages, or Russel with the Earth Mages. To become a mentor, one must have advanced to their second class and mastered not only the spells available to them, but also the secret skill for their class and element. Now then, in every type of guild there are five ranks for the members to rise to. Suuba, can you name them?”
    Su shifted her gaze from the window to the teacher. “Angels, Powers, Bashutz, Tronz and Keruz,” She answered. That was really easy stuff. Anyone who knew anything about adventurers could answer that in their sleep.
    “Very good. The final rank in the guild system, save for the guild master's position is one of the toughest ranks for anyone to reach. Very few Cerebians have reached that stage, but those who are said to have accomplished such a feat gained power beyond imagination. Some of Asgard's greatest heroes, those of the legends were said to be our goddess' own Keruz. Known as the Seven Saints, they banished the evil from this world with God Ah and the many other brave Cerebians, and its thanks to them that we are here on Midgard to this day.” She turned the page as she began to walk through the aisles as she droned on. “Nevertheless, the contribution system is one that is not limited to just Cerebians. Humanity and the Agasura have their own guild systems, very similar to ours, but Humanity's does not offer the growth or share the same difficulties that our own does. There's still much that we don't know about the Agasura's, but the three all have one thing in common-the need for a guild crystal to form the guild, and at least three people that will acknowledge a guild master. This will be on the test so take note!”

    Lunch time came around and a lot of the girls flocked to Amata lead by Marie. They asked all sorts of questions and admired her hair and stuff but Su didn't really care about all that. As the girls all droned on and the boys wrestled each other over stupid things she quietly sat at her desk and ate her lunch. Until she had heard someone mention her name.
    “That girl?” Marie asked. She could feel their gazes and she didn't like it one bit. “That's Suuba. She doesn't like anybody.”
    Su frowned at the comment but decided against saying anything to Marie. It's not like it was any of her business who she liked and who she didn't.
    “I'm gonna talk to her.” Amata said before she got up from her seat.
    “Don't do it,” Marie desperately added.
    “She'll bite your head off!” Hope cried grabbing a sleeve on her sweater. If she could, she would. But her mouth didn't open that wide and people probably didn't taste all that good either.
    “She's gonna sic that mean dog of hers on you if you make her mad,” Jade remarked. They thought Bane was mean? He didn't do anything to them. They were scared for nothing-he'd always been a good dog. Though she rarely paid the rumours any mind, she didn't like them talking badly of him.
    “She'll try to fight you like the boys,” Kayla said. That was actually possible. She was the only one who was close to being right. Su wasn't afraid of the boys or the girls.
    “Sounds like you girls are just being paranoid.” Amata laughed before walking off. She stopped beside Su's desk. “Hey you. You're Suuba right? Why don't you come and eat lunch with me and the other girls?”
    Su was in the midst of taking a bite of her sandwich, but she decided to slowly put it down before stealing a glance at the girl speaking to her. Before she answered, the words of Samson popped back into her mind, “Listen and listen well kid-that Amata girl? She's a little...interesting. Don't fight her please”. She wasn't sure why exactly, but maybe it was because he described her as interesting and said not to fight her, that it made her want to see what Amata was made of. Though her mom specifically said if she found out she picked a fight she'd be grounded for life. Definitely wasn't worth getting in trouble. “They don't like me. I don't like them. That's all there is to it.” She answered coolly and continued eating.
    Amata crossed her arms. “Well we're just getting to know each other. You might not have gotten along with the girls before but I bet we both can. They're all really nice.”
    Su turned to Amata with a sneer. “Heh.” For a moment she looked shocked, than slightly disgusted. It passed quickly though.
    “So...is that a yes?”
    She sighed. “No. Never.”
    Amata furrowed her brows, and Su felt sure she could see an angry vein protruding from her forehead. “I'm trying to be nice here and you're giving me that attitude? Just who do you think you are?”
    “Who am I? Who're you?” Most of the girls would've given up a long time ago, but this one was super determined.
    “Amata Seitz. God's Governor of Fire.” She answered through grit teeth.
    She regarded the girl for a moment with a keen curiosity. A God's Governor? She had read about them but she wasn't sure if they existed or not. She asked both of her parents about it before but both of them said they were just legends. Then again, Amata might've been full of hot air. But if she was a God's Governor, she'd be crazy strong. “Don't look like one to me.”
    That seemed to be the one that did it. Amata clenched her fist and closed her eyes as she silently fumed. “Have it your way then! But I'm watching you!” She turned away and joined the other girls who immediately began to gossip after she rejoined them.
    She chuckled quietly to herself. One more to the list.

    The school day ended and Su packed her things and left. As she made her way home she thought about getting Bane and going to find the geezer and Cruz. It might've been a bit early but maybe they'd let her fish with them.
    “Suuba!” Amata shouted from behind her as she approached. Su turned to her and blinked.
    “What?” She asked.
    “What's your problem huh?! I've never met anyone so rude in my life.”
    Because she was the rudest, obviously. “So?”
    Her mouth twitched. “Do you like being a loner? You should consider yourself lucky that anyone would approach you with that attitude.”
    “They all run screaming eventually.” Su added with a grin. It was time for the cherry on the cake. She placed two fingers to her mouth and whistled, while Amata looked at her with a puzzled expression. At the sound of her call Bane came loping across the village's square and the kids immediately ran back into the schoolhouse to hide from him.
    The God's Governor of Fire looked on in disgust. “What's with that filthy mutt?”
    She wasn't scared? Su was actually kinda impressed. “Bane isn't a mutt. He's Bane.” She knelt down next to her companion and hugged him, the wolf looking rather pleased as she did.
    Her expression softened almost instantly. “B-Bane?”
    For once Bane looked rather shocked as the two stared each other down. “Hey you,” Su began, “what's with that look?”
    “You're Bane, aren't you? Julius' familiar. Then you must be...”
    Su pursed her lips as she squeezed her dog's cheeks together. “What's with the silent treatment?”
    “God's Governor of Earth! Prodigal Legend! I challenge you!”
    Su let go of Bane and rose to her feet. “Huh?”
    “You heard me. I wanna duel you for your title.”
    She wasn't the God's Governor of Earth, and she had no idea what a prodigal legend was, but those last three words were unmistakeable. If it's a fight she wanted, it's a fight she'd get. “You wanna have a round with me?”
    “You can surrender now if you're afraid. That way I won't have to hurt you.” She said haughtily.
    “Afraid? Of you?” Su snorted. “No way.”
    “Ha! This search was easier than I thought! I've been here for a day and I've already found the Prodigal Legend. And Samson thought he could hide you from me? What a joke!”
    Su glared at her. “Whaddya mean the geezer tried to hide me? Why would he have to hide me from you?”
    “Because he didn't want me to hurt you obviously. I'm not surprised that cowardice runs in your blood.”
    Su grit her teeth. “You talk an awful lot for a girl who's about to get beat up. I know just how to shut people like you up.”
    “I'd like to see you try. We can't do it here though, or someone's gonna get in the way.”
    Su calmed down somewhat. She was right there. That aside, if there was anyone who knew a good place to have a fight where no one would get in the way, it was her. “Follow me.”
    Su dashed off  with Bane following closely behind and Amata reluctantly took a glance back at the boys and girls hiding away within the school. She turned away and immediately followed after.

    The two girls had taken refuge in the depths of the forest, far from the eye of the public and stood solemnly facing each other.
    “Pretty brave of you to come to me looking for a fight. Heard about me somewhere?” Su asked with a confident grin. Bane stood by her side solemnly watching, waiting.
    “Heard of you? You didn't get the title just for show. Then again, I'll have to find out for myself if your title of God's Governor is or isn't,” Amata answered.
    She shook her head. “Who said I'm a God's Governor? They're just legends. You'd believe anything huh?” She laughed. “I don't care about that though. I haven't fought any of the boys in a while so I'm gonna have fun with this one.
    “Legends? How did they convince you to believe they weren't real? Why?” Amata hissed. “There's no denying that you are one. There's no way I'd be wrong about this!” She clenched her fists. “I've got a condition for this fight.”
    She frowned. “Conditions suck.”
    “I didn't come all this way just because I wanted a fight.”
    She rolled her eyes. “Get on with it.”
    “If I beat you I want you to give your role as God's Governor of Earth to Samson.”
    Su snorted. What did she have to lose? “And if I win?”
    Amata seemed to think the matter over. “You could ask anything from me. I can't just do anything though so make it good! And possible!”
    Su thought about all the embarrassing things she could make her do if she won. “Fine by me. You ready?”
    “No! I'm not gonna take on both you and Bane!” She answered defensively.
    “Bane's not gonna be fighting. I don't use him or my magic in fights.”
    Amata looked incredulously at her. “What've you been fighting Humans? What God's Governor wouldn't use their magic in a fight?”
    She clicked her tongue. “Most of the boys can't and when I do use it they get hurt too badly and Mom gets mad. You done yet? Can we start now?” Bane looked to her and she glanced at him. “Whaddya mean be careful of her? What can she do?”
    “Gimme a second, jeez!” She closed her eyes for a couple of moments before clenching a fist before her. Su looked on curiously as flames emerged from her fist. She raised her hand above her head and the flames streamed out from her hand and spiralled around her as she began to chant, “Heed the words of the contract and come to my aid, Guardian of the Embers! Arise from the flames as I summon you now Bharva!” Su blocked her face as the heat grew more intense, and from the flames a crimson dragon took form. With a long, slender body, two horns, four legs, a fiery mane and the whiskers to accompany it, she realized what Bane meant. It carried a staff in its mouth which it gave to its master before rising up and roaring. “There. Now it's a two on two. We can have a proper fair fight now.” She grinned impishly. “Scared yet?”
    Her dragon was big. Definitely bigger than Bane, but not too big. Bane could definitely take him. “I'm not scared of your...your lizard! Bane could eat it alive if he wanted to!” The wolf groaned and she frowned. “Now's not the time to be a fraidy cat. We've fought together before. Let's do it again.”
    “Lizard?! Have you never seen a dragon before?!” She snorted. “Of course you haven't. You came from this backwater village.”
    Su sneered. “Better than whatever hole you crawled out of! When I'm done with you you'll be crawling back!”
    “You'll be lucky if you can do that much after Bharva and I show you and your mutt your places!” She took a battle stance and grinned. “I'm not gonna go easy on you, so you better bring your best magic!”
    “I can finally let loose?” Su looked surprised which quickly became a glare and grin. “Good. It's been a while since I got to use my magic.” She took a battle stance as Bane followed suit and began to growl. “Let's show her how it's done Bane!”

    “Go Bharva!” Amata shouted and her dragon roared before charging ahead.
    “I'll take care of her Bane. Keep her lizard busy!” Su said before she stomped her foot and the ground beneath her emerged and launched her into the air while Bane charged in her wake. She swung from a branch and landed on Bharva's back, quickly running towards Amata while it moved to Bane.
    “You're wide open!” Amata placed held the staff with both hands and pointed it at Su. “Fireball!” A small flame emerged at the tip of the weapon and became a sphere before it launched towards Su, and following it a second took its place. Su leapt away from the dragon and swung onto another tree branch before leaping away once more before another fireball collided with it. She crouched down upon a higher branch and gazed down at Amata-she had a clear path between her and her target. She leapt down and struck the earth with her fist, rending the ground before her and causing massive rocks to emerge from it while Amata fell back but continued her assault from a new angle.
    Bharva coiled around the trees as Bane leapt at it and narrowly missed, but managing to dig his fangs into the scales of the dragon's back. He knew that the creature's skin was tougher than his fangs alone could pierce, and that he would need a stronger attack. Bharva turned around before inhaling deeply and releasing a stream of flames where Bane was. The wolf leapt away and stomped a foot down to create a wall of earth between himself  and the flames that approached. When the assault came to an end he howled and a stream of orange and crimson leaves surrounded him and shrouded him before he made his next move. He moved back into the dragon's blind spot again and howled once more, causing a series of roots to rise from the ground and bind Bharva's legs. As the dragon turned to face him he dashed towards it and slammed his head into it and came to a skidding halt. As he turned around a fireball drifted past him and singed a small portion of his tail before it used a couple more to break free of its binds.
    “You can only run for so long!” Su roared. “I'm gonna catch you, and when I do I'll show you that I don't need magic to win a fight! Just my fists!” She leapt from tree branch to tree branch as Amata took cover and moved from one trunk to the next.
    “To get in the face of the God's Governor of Fire is a mistake that you don't wanna make! But I dare you to try it!” She shouted back before launching another fireball at Su.
    If Su couldn't get to Amata and Amata wouldn't come to her, she'd just have to bring her by force. When she came out from cover Su held out one hand and a green glow began to emanate around her wrist taking the form of a vine. It shot forwards and wrapped around her target's leg, bringing the God's Governor to the ground and allowing her to drag her back.
    “Nowhere to run now Amata!” Su cackled as she dragged her closer.
    “Fine then, have it your way!” She pointed a finger at the vine. “Ignite!” A tiny spark appeared upon it and ignited the vine, causing it to wilt and separate from that which Su held. She pointed to Su and the vine around her wrist began to burn too. The God's Governor tried shaking it off, then decided to uncoil it and toss it away. She pulled a leaf from the tree and leapt down with it in hand, drifting towards her target. Amata pointed once more at her and the leaf was set aflame, causing a hole to appear within and Su to fall from the air. She hit the ground hard but managed to tumble to her feet and find herself in close proximity with the God's Governor of Fire. “You're mine now! Illusion Fire!” She slammed her staff into the ground before her and flames licked the earth towards Su, launching her back and setting her clothes aflame.
    If there was anytime that she would need to stop, drop and roll, this would be it. She tumbled backwards and to the side while she took cover behind a tree and placed a hand to one of the holes in her clothes. The burns she had received hurt more than she could've expected. Way more than any of the punches the boys could throw. But she could hit harder.
    Bane leapt onto a tree branch as the flames marred the earth below and carefully moved over Bharva. Normal strikes would be ineffective against a dragon's skin, and he knew he could not be wasteful with his mana; though it pained him to know that he had little choice in the matter. He howled before he leapt where he stood and hit the ground, a magic circle appeared beneath him. Thorns surged forth from the ground and narrowly missed the dragon as it skillfully maneuevred each and every strike. Bane stopped the attack and the spell dispersed with it just as Bharva turned it on him. With a roar fire rained down from the skies and set the surrounding area ablaze. Bane managed to avoid most of the strikes but one, the blast catching him off guard and bringing him to a halt as the dragon rushed forth and placed him in its jaws. It rose on its legs and tossed him aside, causing him to hit a tree and fall to the ground. He rose to his feet once more and shook off the shock of the blow.
    He snarled before putting a foot down, another magic circle appeared beneath him and one before the approaching Bharva. Roots sprung up from the ground once more but this time wrapped themselves around the dragon's torso. With the creature imprisoned he saw his opportunity and prepared a second spell. Bharva roared as his spell saw completion, and as more thorns emerged forth to impale the creature a surge of fire erupted from the ground surrounding Bharva and bathed it in a series of intense flames that rose up towards the skies. Bane's spells dissipated upon touching the flames almost instantly and he was left at a loss.
    Small flames levitated in the air around the two, trapping Su in a strange sort of box, but though it should've been in her favour she couldn't find a way to reach Amata. She dashed about as flames rose in her wake and set every step she took on fire, closing off her options. It felt like the more she moved the more dangerous the entirety of the area became. With a wave of her hand the leaves around her gathered and shot towards Amata.
    “You think that mediocre attack would get through? Good try, loser!” Amata laughed as the leaves were incinerated mid-flight.
    “What the-” Su muttered.
    “If you had any semblance of skill you'd know how to manipulate your barrier. Give it up already Suuba. You can't beat a God's Governor!”
    She grit her teeth. “There's no way I'm going to lose to you! You're all hot air and nothing else!” Su raised her hand and pointed forward, causing the surrounding rocks to rise up and soar towards the God's Governor. She punched the ground and it cracked before she leapt back and stomped an edge, causing a large slab of earth to rise. She hurled it also and immediately followed after it while Amata took cover behind a tree. The dirt shattered on impact and Su came skidding past the tree while she reeled her right fist back. Amata placed both hands out before releasing a small flame before her, and one beneath her feet that allowed her to leap away to safety while Su was forced back once more. Su staggered, and as she lifted her head caught a glimpse of an approaching fireball. She raised her arms to block it and felt the heat as it singed her clothes and soon after both of her arms. She let out a pained cry before retreating.
    How was she supposed to win this battle?
    “It's not too late to give up, little Su.” Amata sneered. Though she couldn't see her, she could picture the smug look on the Governor's face as she said those words and this brought her blood to a boil.
    “You might be older but it's not gonna stop me from beating you up!” She hissed in turn. She scrambled up the tree as she summoned a vine for each arm. Stealing a glance at the approaching Amata she went higher and made her way across one of the branches.
    Amata looked up at the sound of her movement and grinned. “You're mine now! Fireball!” With her staff prepared she launched a fireball at Su who dived from the tree and turned over mid-air, before landing and tumbling to her feet to launch both vines and constrict the Governor's arms.
    “You're mine!” Su sneered before she tugged both vines and the two came face-to-face, the Governor now unarmed. With her right fist reeled back she punched Amata once across the face before bringing her knee into her stomach. She pulled the God's Governor to the ground and dashed away before dragging her along. When she had found a wide enough space and reached the maximum length of her spell she began to spin, eventually lifting Amata off the ground. When she deemed the height enough she released the spell from her wrists and the Governor was flung away. She tumbled away and hit the trunk of a tree, coming to a halt as Su approached, disarmed and vulnerable.
    This time Amata staggered to her feet while heaving, a vicious glare replaced her smug grin. “You're really getting ahead of yourself bitch.” She snarled. She wiped the blood from her mouth and cast her glare down on Su. “Play time's over. We're playing for keeps now-I'll make you give up that tile, even if it kills you.” She clenched her fist and subsequently raised it, the spell taking the shape of a flame above. “Fire Storm!” She roared as it began to rain down flames on the surrounding area.  The moment the flames touched the ground they burst like tiny bombs and spread the fire even further. In the heart of it Amata charged forth towards Su. Fear wouldn't get the best of her today, no matter how strong her enemy was. Su stomped the ground and a small piece of earth rose up before she launched it at the Governor. She dodged past it and Su prepared for a close-combat brawl-In that was where her mistake lay. Amata reeled one of her fists back and Su took an offensive stance also, only to find Amata come to a halt just as they came face-to-face, just barely out of Su's reach. “Flame Burst!” She held the hand out, and Su caught a short glimpse of the flame that resided before it, and following it the Governor closed her hand and pulled it back as the flame surged forth and forced her back, while it collided with Su and knocked her to the ground. The blast hurt more than her fall, but the landing had definitely left her dazed. “Did you think that was it?” She pounded the ground with her fist. “Illusion Fire!” Flames surged forth and blasted Su away once more, only allowing for her to let out a pained scream as she was blown away and rushed against the ground.
    She now lay in the dirt fighting to remain conscious. Her body felt heavy, and the burns across her tattered clothes and bare skin left her feeling weaker than ever. She tried to move her body, but it barely responded. “Bane...” She uttered. He couldn't protect her-not this time. He was in a deadlock with Bharva, so she needed to stand on her own two feet. She managed to place her hands to the ground and push up, but barely managed enough strength to get on her knees. She blinked slowly, and amidst the flames Amata came once more, the flame above her hand waiting to finish what she started. Su closed her eyes and took a deep breath. A memory of the old guy from her dreams flickered in her mind-his voice, his words, “When you find that you need your powers most, you will awaken as God's Governor of Earth.” She chuckled gently at the thought. So that's what he meant by becoming a God's Governor. This had to be that time. There was no way that she'd die to her. For Bane, for the geezer, and for herself she would become a God's Governor.
    Amata continued her approach and chuckled. “You thought you could beat a God's Governor? Half-breeds don't belong among our kind.” She held out her hand and grinned. “Time to say good night.” Su lifted her head and her earring began to emanate a faint light. Her eyes flickered for a moment before their entirety began to glow a bright green, and she rose to her feet. “Still got some fight left in you huh? Won't do you any good now!” She let the fireball loose and moments before making impact with Su a magic circle appeared before her and blocked it, the spell dispersed against the wall. “Barrier huh? Not b-”
    With a wave of her hand a slab of earth shot forward and collided with Amata's stomach, launching her away. Su sneered. “This...is nice. How's that saying go? If you can't beat 'em, join 'em?”
    Amata staggered to her feet and heaved. “I guess you can teach a half-breed new tricks. But if that's the best you can dish out, you don't stand a chance against me.”
    Bane was burned and rather bloody from getting bitten, but he was nowhere near out of the fight. Getting through Bharva's scales was something he had narrowly succeeded to do but a couple times, and he had went through great pains to accomplish it. He treasured his master, and he knew it was far too early for her to have an understanding of what a God's Governor is capable of, so what he could do was limited also. More than anything though, he would not abandon her. He was sworn to protect her by his previous master, and whatever it took he would do so. To lose to Bharva would be the equivalent to giving her a death sentence but no God's Governor nor their summoned being would be his undoing.
    He stood tall, watching Bharva as it did him. The two had come to a standstill, acknowledging the other's strength but knowing that only one of them could come out victorious. The dragon likely too, wondered why the Governors fought, but kept in mind that their master's word is law, and there is no higher reasoning than it. The wolf closed his eyes, and as he did felt the connection between himself and his master growing stronger by the moment. Shortly after power began to surge within him, a myriad of spells that were once impossible suddenly becoming available to him once more-the feeling was familiar, and one that he feared greatly. He knew it once, and not only he but his master's important companions came to know also. His master was in grave danger, and not just his but the other God's Governor also. He turned his head in their direction, feeling that he wanted to rush to her side, but the moment was fleeting.
    Bharva took the chance to strike and unleashed a torrent of flames from his mouth. Bane leapt back and the earth shot forth to stop the flames before they could reach him. The sound of his howl echoed through the forest as the earth surrounding them crumbled and soared about, battering the dragon from every possible direction as Bane ran towards it, his fangs bared. He leapt at Bharva's face but the dragon turned away and his fangs bore into the mane. Some of the hair was torn out and the dragon roared as Bane released them and came back around to body slam its leg. Bharva lost his balance and collapsed to the ground and as it did Bane howled once more and thorns emerged from the earth from its head to its tail, rapidly stabbing it. Bane stomped a foot down once more and sand began to swirl all around where the dragon lay, the cracked earth submerging to make way for the sand to take shape and the creature's body was pulled into it along with the surrounding area. Once all but the head was buried beneath the earth Bane looked upon his bested opponent with dismay. He saw little reason to slay the creature, since after all, his own master was the greatest threat right now. With the thought in mind he turned away and rushed towards her side.

    Samson
    He knew Amata was bad news, and he was the fool for taking his eyes off of her for even a moment. Between his working hours and their schooldays, the girl would definitely find out that the God's Governor was Kasumi, and would put her plan into action without delay. He knew his warning would mean little no matter how he put it, but he still hoped with all his might that she might heed it and resist the urge to start a fight that would only end in disaster. To make matters worse, a fight of that scale could only spell disaster, and the two would not only risk killing each other, but also put the entire village in danger by engaging in a battle of the elements in the forest. As Samson had feared, the whole of Hanamah caught glimpses of the battle, and this brought widespread panic. He had to run back from the river to calm everyone down and get everything in order. The forest would be set ablaze with Amata's magic, and Kasumi would tear the earth asunder. He requested that Beatrice assemble the water mages and help the town gather enough water to put out the fires across the forest. With his dagger in hand he said he would go and handle the God's Governors because he knew how, rather than risk any others being at their mercy.
    He now ran through the forest with all that he was, looking to the skies to see the smoke from the various fires and trying to use them as an indicator for the location of the two girls. He heaved as he ran, the thoughts of the two dying by the hands of the other, and fear enveloped him. As he searched the surrounding area he could see clouds of dust drifting by as smoke from the nearby fires crackled and steadily spread. They were close. The sounds of the earth crumbling before the Governor's might and the trembling ground were an even bigger clue. As Samson staggered through the labyrinth of shattered earth and powerful flames he caught a glimpse of Kasumi as she swung from trees and ripped up the earth with a wave of her hand. Trees were strewn about and Amata, bloody and bruised desperately tried to run and hide, only to find no sanctum. In spite of his previous thoughts, when she saw the opportunity to strike she would take it, launching spells at her much more mobile adversary.
    With a glance Samson saw the look in Kasumi's eyes and immediately turned pale. Fear paralyzed him, the memories of the first time he had seen a rampant God's Governor flooded back to him.

    The dark forest seemed to close in around them-the trees as black as night and the leaves that rested on them deep shades of green and blue. Wispy blue flames danced amidst the fog, the entire area shrouded in a perpetual night. Eerie statues were erected in the surrounding area hidden amidst the overgrown brushes, save for that which offered some vision amidst the heavy fog that blanketed the whole of the village. Small huts made of stone and straw dotted the landscape, but not a single living soul could be seen as far as the eye could see. The only people in all of Spooky Village were the adventurers, Samson, Julius and Rosetta, Julius' wolf companion by his side.
    “Is everyone alright?” Rosetta asked heaving. Pale as a ghost but still attempting to remain stalwart she tightly gripped her sword and shield while looking over the party.
    “Never been better.” Julius chuckled before taking a sip of a potion. He made a slight grimace, since he never was that fond of the taste, though briefly.
    Samson could see his hands trembling but knew that it was no time for jokes. The three had come to Spooky Village under a quest issued by the minister of Yong Gyoung, but they as well as the city knew little of what was to be expected within. According to most of the town, it had not been there before, but there was no denying the massive gateway placed in the midst of the Red Crop Field. As one would expect, or not, a large portion of the area was littered with strange ghosts that attacked the adventurers the moment they stepped foot within. Regardless of what they threw at them, it seemed the ghosts could not be fought off for long and the four narrowly escaped after being overwhelmed. Rosetta took the front line and received the brunt of most of the attacks, and as she had described it, it felt as if the ghosts not only drained her vitality, but also her stamina just by touching her. That was the worst of it, but the chill they left on her body was unforgettable. Julius never did well with ghosts, but he still braved the place for the sake of his party.
    “How are you holding up Rosy? Can you go on?” Samson asked. He attempted to mask his concern and be a bit more light-hearted but some of his intention slipped through.
    “Yes. I'm a little shaken up but I'm ready to move forward,” She answered.
    “Jules?”
    Julius put the potion away and took a deep breath. “We are just getting started right? No need to worry about me, we should keep our eyes ahead. It can only get more difficult, after all.”
    “You said it mom.” Samson remarked with a grin.
    As they proceeded Samson caught a glimpse of a series of unusual jars that were scattered about. They were on all different levels of the landscape but there was certainly something off about them. They all had ropes tied around them, holding pieces of paper, some sort of plant and what seemed to be a type of pepper attached.
    “Do you guys see those? I'm not crazy, right?” He asked with a look of disbelief.
    “We do see them, but that second question can be argued,” Rosetta said.
    “It might be a good idea to be on our guard. Anything we see could be an Agasura waiting for the opportune moment to strike.” Julius added while the other two nodded in agreement.
    With Rosetta leading the four, she cautiously approached one of them and prepared her shield. She tapped on it with her sword and waited for a moment but received no feedback, so she looked towards her allies with a puzzled expression. Samson blinked for a moment, then looked aghast as he caught a glimpse of an eye that opened near the bottom of the dark brown jar and the shadow that crept out from beneath it.
    He reached out to her hand and pulled her away as he shouted, “Get away from that thing!” Though as he acted so did it, grabbing hold of her leg and holding her back with its shadow that took the form of a claw.
    She grit her teeth and bashed it with her shield but could not break free of its grip. Samson dashed past it and skidded to a halt before lunging at it with his dagger, and though he hit it directly he only scratched the surface. He took two more swings as Rosetta took a swipe at it and neither he nor she could break it, but judging by the eye on the bottom the Agasura was in pain. A small consolation, but proof that they saw some sort of progress.
    “On your guard, Samson! There are more incoming!” Julius shouted as he spun his staff above his head and slammed it down before him. Thorns arose from the ground and bound the two briefly.
    “Thanks for the heads up.” Samson dashed to another side of the jar Rosetta was locked in combat with and took another strike at it, only to find it hit him back. It released its grip on her and struck his legs with its claws causing him to stagger.
    “Be careful. We've still little idea of what these creatures are capable of.”
    “Thanks for the...tip.” Part of him wanted to say something clever, the other realized he was in no place to be making poorly timed jokes.
    While the two focused on that jar Julius casted a myriad of spells on the others, be it raising thorns or hurling pieces of earth to keep them back, Bane swerving in between the two with a flurry of strikes.
    “The others are approaching, defend yourselves, Samson, Rosetta!”
    “Come! I will be your opponent!” Rosetta roared breaking away from the first and storming towards the others. It turned as she rushed past it and locked the shadow from it on her and caused her to freeze in place once more. “Hit it now Samson, while it has its back turned to you!”
    “You got it.” He said before unleashing a series of rapid strikes through the Dark Dagger ability.
    With her feet rooted in place Rosetta could not use her skills but she still persisted, blocking one of the two while fighting off the other with her sword and Julius' magic.
    “We've got two more ghosts incoming! Can you hold out?” Samson shouted.
    Rosetta placed her sword in a defensive position and turned to him wearing a shocked expression. “I-absolutely not! We're outnumbered and I strongly believe we should retreat!”
    “Say that when you can escape. This thing still has you pinned down and no matter how much I hit it, it just isn't dying! We're gonna have to kill all three before we can consider running!”
    “We'll get you free Rosetta, just hold on!” Julius cried.
    “I'll give it my all.” She answered.
    The ghosts approached, rotund creatures with a long single black braid with a blue flame at the end amidst a head of hair and eery wide but blank eyes. With their tiny hands they latched on to Rosetta and she grit her teeth as the colour in her face began to fade. Samson climbed on to the jar and started swatting at them with his dagger, loosening their grip but not quite bringing enough force to help Rosetta escape.
    “The jars Samson! Forget about the ghosts they will not harm me! Our escape is the top priority!”
    In spite of her protests they had more of an effect than the jars did on her. Though they clawed at her armour and were steadily wearing her down, being surrounded by ghosts was more mental stress than he knew she could handle and deemed them to be the larger problem at hand.
    “I'll take care of it just hang in there!”
    “This...is nothing!” She could barely muster the strength to keep her shield held high and her swings were becoming weaker by the second. Bane came by and body slammed one of the jars causing it to fall back and attempt to strike him but the moment was short lived, as it returned to attacking the immobilized Knight.
    The sound of something hitting the ground caught Samson's attention and he turned around to find a jar between him and Julius. In the seconds that he discovered it and it turned to him, he caught a glimpse of the shadow reaching out to him and swiping at his legs. He fell from where he stood and hit the ground hard, his body throbbing and his vision blurring from the collision. Julius had shouted something but in the moments it happened he could not make out the words. He shook his head and rubbed it gently as he picked himself up, and found Rosetta on a knee and struggling to defend herself while Julius' cries echoed throughout the village.
    He tossed away his staff and grabbed on to the jar that had trapped her, attempting to break the connection through brute force.
    “Rosetta! I'll get you out now so hang on Rosetta!” He shouted at the top of his lungs, hysteria slowly sinking in every time he called her name.
    “Jules! Jules, get it together! This isn't working! Julius!” Samson cried as he tried to pull his brother away from the Agasura.
    “Julius, Samson, you must escape! The power of these Agasura is beyond our strength! Save yourselves and warn the people of Yong Gyoung of what lurks within!” She uttered.
    “I will not leave you here! I won't abandon you Rosetta!”
    “Bane help me out here! Tell Julius to calm down and act rationally!” The jar that had just came down struck the God's Governor twice but in his rage he had ignored it completely. The wolf looked at him with a puzzled expression and joined him by biting down on Samson's robe and trying to pull him away. “Jules we can rescue her but you're going to have to fight! You're a Mage! God's Governor of Earth! Stop being unreasonable and be the man that I know you are!”
    “Please...escape!” Rosetta pleaded before she dropped her sword and tried to protect herself with her hand.
    Suddenly Julius let go and the three collapsed upon each other in a heap.
    “You're right Samson. I am  God's Governor of Earth.” His brows furrowed, fists clenched and a strange flicker in his eyes, he looked up with rage embedded deep within. “I will bow down to no Agasura! I will not be bested!' Something was definitely wrong, and Samson could feel it. Julius' power suddenly spiked, and he began to give off a terrifying aura, one that was certainly not ordinary. As he picked up his staff, he turned back to the three with bright, completely green sclera. His brother looked on with a terrified expression, his entire being feeling callow in comparison to the god that stood before him. For the first time in his life, he felt that he truly understood why they were named God's Governors. In the moments that followed he feared that his end would be to the same God's Governor.
    Julius slammed his staff down and a massive fissure appeared in the earth, and following it the ground began to split apart. With a wave of his hand the levitating pieces of land came crashing down around them as the earth rose up in massive spikes that shattered the jars while others came crashing down all around them. The same one that pinned Rosetta down was impaled and broken, and Rosetta had lay in a weakened state as the other Agasura surrounding her were blown away and destroyed by the pressure Julius exerted.
    “Julius!” Samson shouted at the top of his lungs while the wind nearly blew him back. Bane barely managed to hold his ground even with his claws dug in the earth, and Samson struggled to get to his brother's side. “Snap out of it Julius! The Agasura are gone! Rosetta's safe, so stop this! If you don't get a hold of your powers you'll bury us all alive!” Samson placed his hands to his brother's shoulders and shook him, but to no avail. “Julius!”
    Samson turned as he felt someone's hand on his shoulder and caught a glimpse of the battle-worn Rosetta. Though her armour was scratched, she unarmed and pale as a ghost, she still rose and approached the God's Governor with a weary smile. Though the earth still rained down upon them she took the staff from his hands and handed it to Samson, and took his hands in hers before she gently rested her forehead against his.
    “The battle is over, Julius. Now, come back to me,” She spoke those words and as if she had a power of her own the spell was broken. Julius' eyes lost their unusual glow and Samson could see his irises again. The earth stopped trembling and that which was thrown about came to a halt, the dust settling in shortly after.
    “Rosetta...?” He asked, his expression looking as worn-out as her own.
    “Yes...I am here.”
    He properly intertwined their fingers. “I...Samson, Bane, and you Rosetta...forgive me.”

    Sorry it's a day late! Wanted to finish off the scene before I finished it. Took me quite a while to get through all this but here it is! Tomorrow I'll probably be back to talk a bit about it, since a ton of stuff happens, but until then I'm gonna chill lol. I'm done for the day.
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Sat Nov 08, 2014 6:55 pm

    Pages 110-115:
    Samson shook his head. Flames rained down from an unusual sphere in the sky and Amata danced through them as rocks and trees were flung at her and collided with the rest of the terrain while she jumped away. He looked at Kasumi, her eyes looking just like Julius' did then, but somehow with a look of enjoyment rather than rage. He had to stop her-no, he had to stop them. Amata would not give up her cause until she had completed it, even with Samson in the way, and Kasumi had gone rampant.
    “Amata you have to put a stop to this!” Samson shouted as he chased after her, the girl hopping away using her power.
    “Stop it? Take a damn good look at her and tell me that you're still on her side!” Amata hissed. She hit the ground as a series of rocks soared over her head. “This is what happens when a human becomes a God's Governor! This is what I came to prevent!”
    He pulled her to her feet and broke away from her as she jumped away again. “You were the one that caused it! It's not her time yet-a God's Governor should not be awakened until they've reached a certain age!”
    “So you say, but father entrusted his task to me, and unlike her I have self-control!”
    He blinked. The power difference between the two had become immense-though Samson did not understand mana like they did, he and other Cerebians had a sense for that just as the God's Governors did. The difference between before and after Julius had awakened as God's Governor of Earth was massive. Kasumi was experiencing that growth now, and Amata had not gone through it yet. In fact, she had no idea what it was. Alvaro had never informed her, perhaps in the same way their father had not told Julius, but her lack of knowledge proved to be a hindrance than a help. The fact that she had no idea what was going on was undeniable proof that she was yet to become God's Governor of Fire. Understanding the matter was great on one hand, but there was still a glaring problem on the other, and that was stopping the rampant Kasumi. He had already failed once with Julius, but was saved by Rosetta and her words. He doubted himself, and that his words could sway their daughter as her mother's did her father. But he had little choice in the matter-he had to try, and to convince Amata to stop with her ploy.
    “Every God's Governor has to go through this Amata! You will too when you need it most! But it isn't your time, nor is it hers! Half-human or not it has to happen, so call off your battle and let's put an end to this!”
    “A God's Governor never backs down!” She roared scornfully.
    She was adamant on seeing this battle through, and if Kasumi forced her into that state also chaos would ensue. Something much, much worse than Hanamah being destroyed could follow the two fighting like that. “I don't want to have to do this, but if you won't give in then I'll stop you myself!”
    “Either you're with me or you're against me Samson! You better choose wisely, 'cause I won't go easy on either of you!”
    Samson took a deep breath and unsheathed his dagger. He had no intention of using it on her, but better to have some form of defense against her attacks, no matter how miniscule they might be. He had borrowed a shield from Russel, suspecting that things may come to this. With the thought in mind he watched as Amata jumped away and took a deep breath. Somehow, some way, he would have to stop both the God's Governor of Fire and Earth. He was definitely out of his league.

    Saul had lent him a few goods they had brought along in their hunts, and though Samson did not want to use them against the teenage girl nor the child that mercilessly hunted her, he would do what he must-if he did not have the will to set aside his inhibitions, he would be killed in the process, and many others along with him. He took a deep breath and darted after Amata, the girl looking to him before scoffing and hurling a fireball at him. He unsheathed the shield and protected himself from the flames with it as he approached. A chunk of earth came crashing down before him and blocked his way as Kasumi entered the fray by swinging from a vine tied around a tree branch.
    “You've come to join the fun too huh geezer? Guess we can kill two birds with one stone! We can have our match and I can put the God's Governor of Fire in her place at the same time! You ready?” She asked as she placed herself atop a branch.
    “This is not the time or the place kid! Get a hold of yourself! Look around you! The forest is ablaze and Bane is nowhere to be found! He could be in serious danger, and unless you snap out of that trance you are too!”
    She tilted her head. “Bane isn't in any danger. He's coming right now.” She grinned and held out her hand as a long stream of flames approached. A magic circle appeared and dispersed the flames across it. “The girls always said I'd sic him on them. Maybe I'll tell him to deal with her.”
    Samson grit his teeth. There was no way he would get through to her like this-what was it that allowed Rosetta to remedy Julius of the state? He caught a glimpse of Amata hurling a fireball at Kasumi that burst into a series of smaller flames. “Amata! Enough of this!” He caught a glimpse of her sneering before he continued pursuing her and she immediately fled. As he chased her the distance was eventually closed as she looked back and threw more fireballs at him, heaving heavily as she did-the girl likely exhausted a majority of her mana against Kasumi, or was trying to conserve some to settle the score. To his advantage, she could only run for so long, and he would reach her.
    She came to a sliding halt and turned to him before placing a hand to her wrist. “Flamethrower!” A torrent of flames surged forth from her hand and she razed the path between the two, spreading a long line of fire. Samson came to a halt and desperately looked for another way across. The ground beneath trembled and massive earthen spikes sprung up in the wake of Kasumi nearly impaling him as she swung by in pursuit of Amata. Samson coughed and tried to wave away the smoke as he rummaged through his rucksack and drew a grappling hook attached to a rope. He swung it and wrapped it around one of the tree branches before moving scrambling up one of the spikes Kasumi created and swinging from it. As he chased down the two he vaulted over trees ripped from the earth and ran past other portions of earth she had used as projectiles against the God's Governor. Flames licked the earth and closed off many of the shortcuts he could take to get to Amata, but the time she spent taking cover bought him enough for him to close in. The sound of something approaching caused him to turn his head away from his targets and spot the silver wolf loping nearby.
    “Bane! I need you to help me stop the kid! She's gone rampant!” Samson shouted.
    The wolf glanced at him and barked affirmatively. How the adventurer could tell he had precious little idea, but it was no time to question small matters. Bane lead the charge and leapt over one of the fallen trees with ease, quickly catching up with Kasumi.
    Still hanging from a tree, she looked at her companion and smiled. “Ah, there you are Bane! So you dealt with her stupid lizard huh? Good work! Now kick her ass okay? No mercy.” Kasumi said nonchalantly. She definitely was not acting like herself-or perhaps it was her, more than he knew. The wolf barked indignantly and she frowned. “Whaddya mean you're not gonna do it?” She held out a hand and a long vine coiled before it and formed a makeshift shield, blocking the incoming fireballs. She dropped the burning plant afterwards and sighed. “She started it. She wants you to beat her up. Right Amata?”
    “Die!” Amata roared before holding out her hand again and releasing a stream of flames.
    Kasumi lowered the vine that held her to the tree and the flames missed, singing the entire branch and causing her to fall. She landed perfectly and smiled at her growling wolf. “So you wanna take me on? I guess we can do that. But who's gonna keep her busy?”
    Samson eventually caught up and made his way towards Amata while Bane barked twice. If he could take a wild guess, he was telling him that he would keep Kasumi busy and buy him time. Perhaps all those years of seeing Julius and Bane having strangely intimate man-dog conversations was paying off. “I'm on it. Just hang in there.” For a moment he thought he heard the wolf snort, but paid it no mind.

    “Amata it's not too late to stop this! We don't have to fight!” Samson shouted to her as he dashed past a pair of fireballs falling in an arc.
    “Not too late my ass! You idiots are gonna get us all killed defending that psycho half-breed!” Amata hissed.
    She pointed at him and he dodged, a small fire was ignited behind him. At his distance he could not hear her words, though he knew little of the spells she used. He had to judge by her actions. She took cover behind a tree and he immediately rushed over to it. As he reached the other side of it he saw her turning behind another ahead of him and found a small spherical flame where she once hid. He took cover behind the tree and it burst, spreading fire where it once was. To his dismay most of the tools Saul had lent him were made for trapping, and without anyone to lead the target to where the trap was it would do him little good in a chase. That and if Alvaro found out that the adventurer put his daughter in a bear trap he would be dealing with him, not that they had given him one. He caught a glimpse of her doing the action again and he held the shield to his face. He could feel the heat through it but took note the attack was not very strong.
    “Just get out of my way and you won't have to get burned Samson!”
    “I'll take the pain if it stops you from seeing this madness through.”
    He zipped from tree to tree and she used her power to leap into one of the branches. The girl could not stay there for long-she did not have Kasumi or Bane's acrobatic ability. One good push and she would fall from where she stood. He reached into his rucksack and drew a boomerang, the girl watching cautiously as he armed the tool and reeled his arm back to bring her down. She scoffed and hopped from that branch to a higher one, nearly falling from it as she did. She placed a hand to the trunk and stole a glance at him as he approached, watching for nearby trees while remaining focused on her.
    “You won't hit me with that thing! But I dare you to try it!” There was a tremble in her voice-it was faint, but he could tell. She likely feared heights, but tried to use it as a vantage. Something Kasumi had over her, and likely used to her advantage.
    Samson approached and she leapt from the branch again, setting it aflame before approaching another. With one foot nearing it, she failed the landing and slipped from it, plummeting towards the earth. She held out both hands and closed her eyes before releasing a powerful flame that produced enough force to keep her afloat for a couple of moments before she exhausted herself and hit the ground. She quickly pulled herself from the marred earth she left when she fell and scrambled to her feet as Samson dived towards her. He somersaulted and continued his pursuit.
    She held out a hand and reeled it back as she shouted, “Flame Burst!” Her body shifted back as the flames moved forward and he narrowly blocked them once more. If the girl had resorted to using typical Wizard skills she likely had used up most of her mana and tried to conserve it by switching tactics. Though the flames had halted his advance he was not far from her. If she continued to use that odd fire hop of hers to get away, she would have little else to get away with, and even less to fight back. As he proceed she leapt back and pounded the ground. “Illusion Fire!” Flames shot up from the ground in a line and he leapt aside before continuing forward, reaching out to her. For a moment the two's eyes met and almost immediately she had leapt back and stumbled away. “I won't let you!” She raised a hand above her head and a flame appeared above the palm, taking form of a sphere. “Inferno!” Four long streams emerged from it and set everything in sight ablaze as the sphere turned, the beams rising and falling in an orderly fashion.
    Samson took cover behind a tree and examined the attack carefully. If he stepped out of his cover for a moment he would be cooked. To his advantage, the girl had left herself wide open and immobile to utilize the attack. He reached into his rucksack and drew a pair of bolas, and began to spin them as her attack continued. When the flames had passed by the tree he hid behind, he threw them and they wrapped around her legs, causing her spell to dissipate and her to fall to the ground. He saw his chance.
    She gasped as she tried to wriggle free of them, unaware of exactly what held her down. As she saw him approach she glanced at the bola and pointed a finger at them. “Ignite!” The cords ignited and came apart, and she winced at the pain but got too her feet quickly as she could. He reached out to her, and she prepared to jump away. Samson could feel the fire on his legs as he lunged at her, but he could also feel the material of her shirt within his grasp. He held on tightly and with his superior strength against her outward force he pulled her back to him and slammed his head into hers. Amata's head fell limp as he reeled away from the pain on his leg. She collapsed to her knees and lay face-down against the ground while he prepared to bandage his leg.
    One God's Governor down, and one left. Though the other would prove to be much more difficult than she had. He wondered how Bane was faring against Kasumi.

    Chunks of earth rained down on Bane but they were no match for his speed. Time and again, he tried talking her out of the state but she seemed adamant on remaining in it, and he could not bring her to grasp how dire her situation was. She ran on foot following in his wake, a myriad of spells followed after him. The earth rose up like a tsunami and came down as if to swallow him in it, but he leapt at it head first and used his own magic to force a hole through the center. As Kasumi approached he summoned two vines from the ground to grab her arms and charged at her. One wrong spell and he would endanger her life-but all was not lost. He knew of one way to break free of the rampant state, but this was not something he could convey to Samson. Though in his defense, he was a clever man-some way, somehow, the wolf felt that the adventurer would figure it out should he fail in his duty to protect his master.
    “You're not gonna beat me like that Bane! If you wanna stop me you're gonna have to hit me,” Kasumi laughed.
    She snapped her fingers and the vines came undone, to which she pointed at him and they shot towards him. His front legs were bound and he faltered, but kept his balance. The earth beneath him trembled and he knew he had to act quick. He created a magic circle beneath him and with it swirling sands took form, surrounding him before falling to the ground and dispersing as a massive pillar of rock emerged where he once was. The sands gathered together again and he took shape from it, letting out a sigh of relief. It seemed that when rampant, she had much less control than her predecessor-or perhaps more than him, but less mastery? The wolf howled and the sands gathered around Kasumi surrounding her entire body before hardening. He readied himself and charged once more, before she broke free through sheer brute force with a single arm and turned the ground beneath him to mud, causing him to slip and collapse. Not his defining moment, but certainly the least of his worries. She managed to break her right arm free and pounded her fist against the prison causing the rest of it to break.
    He rose to his feet and leapt back as she raised the earth where he stood and nearly knocked him unconscious with a blunt blow to the head. He barked viciously and she snickered. “Oh come now, I'm just having some fun! You don't have to hold back Bane! Come on, hit me!”
    He growled, not out of malice but the sheer fact that he likely would need to assert himself. To use his body would be the simplest way to knock her out without hurting her too badly, but he knew that she was a fast learner, and the longer he spent trying to protect her the more dangerous she would become. Time was not on his side, but he could not help but feel conflicted about the scenario placed before him. He sighed-though uneasy, he had little choice. With a howl magic circles filled the area.
    “Oh? Finally getting serious are we? Alright, let's see what you can do!” She grinned and ran past one of them.
    He glanced at it and it emanated a bright light before a massive vine emerged from it and shot past her. It hit a tree and remained in place. A miss, but only one among many. He was only getting started. With a wave of her hand she ripped a tree from the ground and hurled it at him, and he retaliated by calling another vine from a nearby circle. The two collided and the tree was dragged away while he dashed under the vine and approached her. As he lunged at her two appeared on both sides of him and sand poured out in a thick stream to assault her. She stomped her foot and a wall of rock surrounded her front and flanks, halting  his advance before she pushed it forward while he dodged to the side. As he landed the earth beneath him rose and flung him away. He soared through the air for a brief while but managed to right himself and land in a sliding halt, watching her with apprehension. He rushed forward and leapt through the air as a vine he called emerged from behind him and acted as a greater forward momentum then he could create by running directly at her. She held her hand out and a barrage of rocks in various sizes were flung at him, but came to a halt in the wall of sand he created to accompany his travel. He leapt at her after she stepped away from the vine and called another down upon her, while she reached out and wrapped two vines around his torso. She pulled herself to him while the vine came crashing down and grabbed hold of his legs to throw him into it.
    She pulled him back as he recovered and he growled, channelling sand beneath him that rose up in a wave and threatened to swallow her. She stomped the ground and the earth before her rose up and hung above her head while the sand rained down upon her, along with Bane. While she prepared to pull him aside he tore the vines with his teeth and took control of the chunk of earth she had left, bringing it down beside her and throwing it at her flank. She attached her vine to a tree and leapt down shortly after while two more massive vines emerged from Bane's magic circles. She crouched underneath one and quickly crawled out as a storm of leaves followed in her wake. She broke out into a sprint as more vines surrounded her, closing off the paths she walked which proved to be easy for the wolf to get through. Before long the surrounding area had become a labyrinth of trees and vines amidst raised earth and sand. The wolf ran through the labyrinth he created watching her carefully as he did, she remaining still and following his every step.
    He came to a halt, and listened. He could hear someone coming, the sound of the footsteps were clear, and as they rose higher he saw a chance. Kasumi did not have a canine's sense of sound, and there was little chance that she would pick up the sound from the distance she was at. If a God's Governor was to be defeated, it would not likely be something one could do alone. If the wolf's previous master's lessons were to be kept sacred, there was one that he could not forget. The strength of two could overcome many. Someday, Kasumi would learn this too-her time would come. It just was not hers yet. He howled and and magic circles appeared around the four vines that surrounded the girl with two above her-walls were created and trapped her in, and sand began to pour in. She was resourceful enough to escape-this was a fact.
    “Thought you could trap me in huh? What a clever dog you are!” She said before stomped her foot and a stalk emerged beneath her and rose up-she took hold of one of the leaves as it broke through the prison and brought her back into the labyrinth of vines, exactly where Samson lay in wait.
    “Sorry kid.” He said as he pulled her from the vine with both hands. In those few moments he held her he bent back and slammed her head into the ground before releasing her and transitioning into a back flip to land on his feet. She let out a gentle groan before her eyes closed and Samson let out a sigh of relief. Shortly after Bane emerged in a storm of leaves and looked down upon his master with a sad gaze. He laid down next to her and licked her face gently. “Hey, don't look so down Bane. She's just unconscious. Though the poor kid's got some pretty bad wounds from her fight with Amata. You're not looking so pretty either.”
    Samson did raise a good point. Kasumi had burns across her body and her clothes were tattered from it also. He could not tell how bad they were, but if they got her to Beatrice quickly she would likely be alright. His fur was matted with blood, mud and dirt, and some of it was burnt but his wounds were little in comparison to hers. They would heal with time-Cerebians and Humans were much more fragile. He wanted to take Kasumi back to the village but she had grown too much for him to be able to carry her. Though he felt guilty for leaving the duty to Samson, he nuzzled her gently and looked up at the adventurer.
    “Don't worry, I'll take care of it.” He picked her up and carefully made his way down the vines. Once he reached the ground Bane dispelled them and they returned to the circles from whence they came, allowing him to finally rest. Maintaining the spell without the God's Governor's mana circulating was a tiresome task. He sat down for a moment and let out a gentle sigh. “I'm not carrying you back too. You've got four legs, make good use of 'em.” He huffed at Samson's comment.

    Before returning to the village Samson went back to where he had left Amata and found her just as he left her, leaning against a tree. He was startled. Not by the girl, but by the massive dragon that was coiled around her. It must have been the Guardian of the Embers, but it was the first time he had seen the creature. He stole a glance at the wolf beside him and felt a tad underwhelmed at the thought that his younger brother really got the short end of the stick in that trade off. But in spite of the fact, Bane certainly made for quite the handy party member, and apparent parent and mentor.
    Samson approached the dragon which opened an eye and huffed slightly, letting out a small puff of fire that caused him to jump back. “Don't worry, we're not going to hurt her. I'm taking these kids back to the village to get patched up.” He answered honestly. The dragon seemed to appraise him for a couple moments, and seemingly approving of his words it turned its head away and began to emanate a bright light. It turned into a series of crimson spheres that rose towards the sky and faded away, leaving no traces of its presence. “Man you summoned beings are like doting dads. So troublesome.” Bane growled at him and he laughed uneasily. “It's not always a bad thing, you grumpy dog.” He hauled Amata over his shoulder and began to move back to the village. “Let's head back. Everyone's probably pretty worried. And pissed.”

    It was too long the first time so I had to break it up.

    Rant Time:
    Now then, this time around there were a looooot of changes. The first being Amata actually being there and doing things, like she was supposed to. If you recall what happened in Frequency, it's not the only reason she's there, but she doesn't decide to follow that path until a bit later. I'm considering writing that in too, since its a part of her arc, though less so in comparison to what I have planned for later. I'm still debating a bit about how much of her I want to include, since if I try to fit in too much it'll take away from Kasumi and Samson, who have differing perspectives but often find themselves together. Amata's would require one of the two to be present, which isn't impossible, but might feel a bit too forced. In truth, I know I could spend more time developing her character, but it'll lack closure after all. That matter aside, the events told in Frequency were the biggest change for her after her arrival in Hanamah, but I don't think I'll try to usher that into USSR. In truth, it'd set up the third story well, but it would make for a terrible ending to this one.
    Anyway enough about that. For the second(technically first) time her partner makes his appearance. All four of the Governors have their own 'Guardian', just as Su has Bane and Amata Bharva(he has a name now!) and she actually has a background. The first time I wrote her in she was kinda undecided, but now she's from Ves. I've tried to keep a bit of her speech pattern alike to her older version, but I wanted to cut back on how foul-mouthed she is because there's a few years difference between then and the current point in the story. Since she lived with her dad prior to coming to Hanamah she has some self-restraint, but when she gets angry she flies off the handle lol. Also an FYI! She can actually understand what Bane says, hence why he's silent. I've been thinking of unifying the guardians and likely other spirits under one language, or perhaps just the guardians themselves. We'll see how that works out later.
    So that aside, Amata doesn't keep Bharva around all the time. She could if she wanted to, but she chooses to summon him when she sees fit. Bane could be under the same circumstances but Julius preferred to keep him by his side, and Kasumi doesn't know how to send him back to the other world. Though she wouldn't likely do it even if she knew how. Also Bharva keeps Amata's staff with him. This also takes place before she advanced her class, so she can't use tomes yet.
    Now, for one of the more important matters to address: In the case of their fights, they have three distinctive styles-Kasumi's style relies heavily on the use of manipulation of her element and sheer force. She could raise the earth, break it and hurl it, and do other such things, but because she's not well versed yet she can't conjure spells and give her creations shape. She can use the Special Power skills, at most the first two, but chooses not to since she sees no reason to hold back. Amata can do what Kasumi can't, and that is conjuring spells through incantation. She uses a couple of the same skills that she did in Freq, and a few new ones but nothing on too grand a scale. After all, she's just learning to control her element, and has a better grasp for it since she had been tutored by her father from an early age. But as you can see, some of the skills are a tad redundant because one, they're easy for a newcomer to pick up and utilize and two, she's trying to use her mana wisely, according to Samson's speculation. That matter aside, though Fire is the strongest offensive element(leaving the non-Arcane Arts aside) it's just as dangerous to the user as it is their enemy. There may be other spells she can do, but is reluctant because she hasn't mastered them or feels confident enough to use them in a real battle. Lastly her use of SP skills. She switches between the two throughout the battle both because she doesn't have mana-reliant skills to meet every situation, and the mana to perform too many in succession. A God's Governor has access to a lot more mana than the typical Cerebian, but alike to TJ's case, unless specific conditions are met they can't utilize all of it. Hence, when Kasumi entered the 'rampant' state her abilities became much more versatile and destructive.
    Now, Bane had mentioned that she may have had more/less control than Julius, and in that he meant though in that state she still functioned. Julius had essentially lost himself, and had been brought back to his senses by Rosetta. I won't say the reason why though! But anyway, it differs for the two, for some reason or another. But anyway, when she becomes like this, Bane became a lot stronger also. The two essentially share a mana pool-Bane has his own, but it's much smaller in comparison to Kasumi's. Should he exhaust his supply, he can borrow mana from her to continue fighting. Essentially he takes a permanent percent from her to supply his being in their world, but since she had always had him by her side she never noticed. It's the same with Bharva, and the reason why Amata chooses to summon him rather than keep him by her side. Although it's not mentioned, she can 'shrink' him in a sense to conserve the mana he consumes with his presence. I was supposed to include that...and forgot. Moving on, for the first time we get to see Bane fight. He doubles as a second caster when the need calls for it, but unlike his mater he can't conjure spells. He just has a more refined style of manipulation, something Kasumi can learn, but hasn't as of yet. Bharva is the same way, as are the others. On that note, we also got a glance into Bane's perspective! Though it's just a one time thing. Since Kasumi became rampant he took her place.
    Samson played a small part in this part, but I think it was for the best. I didn't want the fight to drag on too long, because I realized that when Samson came in it would just turn into a really unnecessarily long chase scene since he chose not to fight back. That and Amata would have to have an unlimited supply of mana and energy to continue escaping while fighting off him and Kasumi. In most cases, chances are he wouldn't use tools, let alone the remains of Kasumi's spells to get around, but when the going gets tough...also Bane can use sand. It was something he had learned from Julius, but again, what he can do with it is very limited. Of course, this only scratched the surface of what they could do with magic since Bane had to hold back and the girls still have a lot to learn.
    There was a short glimpse into Samson's past also, but I didn't do the full thing. In truth, it could've been better placed, but I didn't wanna throw it in randomly later unless he was having a moment of reflection. On the other hand, recalling the memory as it happened did prove to be a lot more fitting, because in that moment...well, let's just say it felt more real that way. Essentially, it would've been much shorter than it was in writing if you could imagine it, since the scene needed to be set and described. Though in truth I did feel that the writing there was a bit rough. When I go back to edit it I'll see if I can iron out what felt lackluster to me.
    I think I've covered just about everything so the last thing I want to discuss is the barriers. Amata uses one that acts as a sort of aura that protects her from things that could easily be incinerated. Like leaves. The vines are much too thick for her to dispose of with her barrier alone, and since she still needs some fine tuning she can't do that just yet. If she mastered it, she likely could use the 'Barrier Break' technique to set everything within its radius aflame. That's a skill that cane be used in a myriad of ways, from what you've seen so far. The barrier Su uses is a different kind though-it's more like a shield that takes the form of a magic circle. It's costly, but it can protect the user from most spells. Basic spells, that is. The Arcane and whatnot, less so the Divine and Contemptuous. Ah and before I forget, so long as the same spell is used in succession, only one incantation is needed. But you probably figured that out already.

    So for next time? Mm I'm still considering it. I can do a bit more establishing from Kasumi's perspective, since those two have history, and it might help Kasumi's growth a little bit. I'm thinking I can do one more scene with either Kasumi and Amata, or her and Samson, but doing both would be a tad redundant and would cause the story to feel as if its dragging its feet. I could do neither, and advance the plot completely. In that sense, the end would not be far off. I do have plans for what comes after, though. I plan on 'ending' it at the same point as in the original, but doing a short continuation after to give Samson's story a bit of momentum following the end. The first ending was a tad ambiguous. I'll talk a bit more about that later, but for now I'll leave it at that. So what would you prefer more of, Kasumi/Amata or Kasumi/Samson? Both have their merits, but realistically I think Samson's would be the better choice. Might come back to that once I get to that point in the story. It's not far, mind.
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Fri Nov 21, 2014 5:46 pm

    Page 115-124:
    The whole of Hanamah had worked together to put out the flames and over the following days tried to clean up what the God's Governors had left in the wake of their battle. Tory and Grant lead managed all the workers, giving out orders and keeping everything flowing smoothly. Samson and Cruz stood on opposite ends of a ripped up tree and sawed pieces off that the others would carry back to the village.
    “Those girls really are something else aren't they?” Cruz laughed as he pulled the saw towards him.
    “Tell me about it. My leg is still tingling from the burn Amata gave me. Their spell-work could use some refining but I wonder if they'd be worse if they could control their powers.” Samson replied.
    “We've all gotta learn sometime. Though it's no surprise that Amata's taken a shine to you too Samson. You seem to be really popular with the kids. Rather, just about everyone around here.”
    Samson snorted. “It's nothing like that. We're just familiar with each other, that's all. My dad and hers were long-time rivals, and somewhere along the way we met Amata. She's a lot like him.”
    Cruz chuckled. “I'm sure he gave your old man a run for his money too.”
    Samson shook his head. “I'd only heard about it, but because of how destructive they were the authorities would drag them off to somewhere deserted so they could settle their scores.” He cracked a smile. “Dad always said Gramps laid into him for all the trouble he caused.” Samson felt the ground tremble beneath him and turned to see what the cause was. He caught a glimpse of the Guardian of the Embers walking by with another broken tree in its mouth and he looked on in awe as the creature turned towards him. It looked at him, seemingly nodded and continued on its way. As it did he saw most of the village's children riding on its back. “Reina wouldn't believe this...” He muttered while he shook his head.
    “I've seen a lot of things on my journey. I've never seen a little girl tame a dragon.”
    “Oi!” Amata's voice rang out from the other side of the dragon's body. The two stopped what they were doing and turned in the voice's direction as the girl herself climbed up onto its back and hopped off on the other side. She looked sternly at the adventurer and Cruz smiled gently.
    “Take a load off Samson. It won't do you any good to divide your attention between your work and the girl. She might give you a hard time.”
    He turned back to Cruz and uttered, “Huh? O-oh no it's fine. I can do both.”
    The fisherman shook his head. “You shouldn't argue with your elders. Warren, come over here and take Samson's place will ya'?”
    Warren who was carrying a log nearby placed it down and walked over. “Sure,” He answered.
    Samson stepped aside and the two continued, the thoughts of thanking Warren danced in his mind for a moment but quickly passed as he caught a glimpse of Amata glaring at him. “Well, you've got my undivided attention. What's on your mind?” He asked nonchalantly as he began to walk with her.
    She furrowed her brows as she tried to find the words. “I...” She paused. “B-Bharva says thanks for looking after me. After our fight.” She looked down at our shoes. “That's why he was looking at you just now.” Samson blinked slowly. So his name was Bharva? The dragon was surprisingly friendly, despite being...a dragon. It made him curious what kind of beings the other God's Governors would summon as allies. “And I...well...thanks.” She glared at him. “I'm still mad at you for headbutting me! And interfering with our fight!” He thought about telling her that she was nearly killed by a rampant God's Governor but decided to hold his tongue; the God's Governor of Fire had a pride of her own to uphold. “I...think I kinda understand now. I'm sorry for being so stubborn.”
    He smiled gently. She could be cute if she tried. “As long as you understand. It's better not to rush your growth into becoming a God's Governor, because it can be dangerous. Consider getting a Pledger before you do something that reckless.”
    “Pledger? I don't need a Pledger!” She hissed.
    “Everyone says that, but when they have one they're glad they do.”
    “Where's yours?”
    He choked up. She had him there. “I'll have one when the time is right.”
    “Pfft yeah, right.”
    “What do you know? You're still thirteen! You don't know anything about the world yet, Amata. When you're a bit more seasoned I'll let you give me all the lip that you can dish out.”
    “Just because you're old that doesn't make you seasoned.” She hissed.
    “That's where you're wrong.” He crossed his arms. “Though I have to admit, you certainly do know how to handle yourself in a battle. It could use some work but you've got a pretty good grasp on the use of mana and Special Power to create spells.
    She looked at him with disbelief. “Wha-t-thanks? I guess?”
    His expression darkened somewhat. “For that...because of that, I have a favour to ask of you.” She raised an eyebrow and he looked at her seriously before prostrating before her. She looked aghast as she stepped back but he continued nonetheless. “Please, teach Kasumi to control her mana!”
    “Samson?!” She huffed before glaring at him. “What the hell do you think you're doing?! Why should you have to bow down for her?” She stopped for a moment, and though her mouth moved no words came out. She pursed her lips and her face flushed, while she averted her eyes seemingly to articulate her thoughts. “You...you have credibility. You shouldn't have to disgrace yourself for some twerp.” She shook her head. “C-cut the crap! We already tried to kill each other! Do you really think she and I can suddenly get all chummy after what we just went through?!”
    “No, I don't.”
    She sighed. “What're you playing at?”
    He raised his head. “You said that Kasumi would be a danger to the colony if she couldn't control her powers. But you've seen it, right? Even in the rampant state she still held some control. I've seen it before, and I can assure you it was nothing like that.” He rose to one knee and looked the girl in the eyes, she gazed back at him-one eye red, the other blue. “I was with Julius when he awakened, and though he was a full-blooded Cerebian, he had less control than his daughter did in that state. It was Rosetta, a Human who had saved him from it. Something that I, also a full-blood couldn't do. You understand, don't you?” She pouted and averted her eyes but he knew she did. “Cerebian...Human, it doesn't matter. There are things that define us, sure, but we're not all that different.” He rose to his feet and brushed off his coat. “I'm not the most religious guy out there, but even I can get behind the ideals of our kind. We work together to protect Humanity in secret, and in turn fight alongside them against the Agasura.”
    “So why would Humanity turn against us? Why did they attack Xenym?”
    Her question left him at a loss for a few moments. The years prior had changed little about how he felt when it came to that incident, but the past year had. There were survivors, there was Kasumi, Julius' legacy, and people who fought to change the fate of those held captive like Reina. He would not let the past forever remain his weakness. “It's the doing of the Agasura.” She looked at him strangely and he closed his eyes. “We've had Havens hidden across Jienda far before my time. The only Humans who could detect and surpass the barriers that hid them would be the Derr Clan, in the current time. I suspect that the Agasura have dipped their hand in the matter and are using the Dark Moon as a puppet monarchy.” He thought of mentioning Iris and her companions, but realized telling Amata could cause her to distrust Humanity further. Their take on the matter had proved them innocent, but he could not risk a misunderstanding on the God's Governor's part.
    “You think the Agasura are involved in this? If an Agasura came up to me and told me to wander off into the tundra with an army I don't think I'd buy into it,” Amata sneered.
    Choen Palm was a Human-or at least, he thought she was. She looked exactly like one, and it seemed that Iris and her companions saw little difference between themselves and her. He still felt unsure exactly what the gem was that she utilized, but he felt sure that it was a Cerebian artifact and she knew how to use it, and if so, she likely had some semblance of an understanding of the use of mana; after all, most artifacts would not activate without a Cerebian's mana. Samson and many others knew too little of the Agasura to be able to understand their inner workings, so it was possible that Choen Palm had Agasuric blood within her, and used it to activate the item. But without further proof or knowledge of exactly what the item was, he could not quite put his finger on it. “It's just a theory, so take this with a grain of salt. But there's no denying that there were Agasuras who knew how to disguise themselves as Humans. It's possible one of them did just that and managed to worm their way into the Dark Moon's upper echelons.” If there was anyone who could assist him in solving that matter, it would be Reina-her understanding of artifacts was paramount to the scenario. He rubbed his beard thoughtfully. “Now that I think about it, why hasn't Mezzalone made plans to strike back at the Dark Moon?”
    Amata shrugged. “I overheard Dad talking with someone and he said something like if they were to send people all the way to Aoich it'd leave Ves and Mezzalone open for an attack.”
    The point was not illogical. Aoich was quite a ways away from the Jungle where the Haven was situated. To send forces such a long distance would not only garner attention, but also run the risk of giving away the position of the Haven. That matter aside, Humanity already had its own share of problems-to see a force mobilized could cause them to think that they were under attack from another city state. Since they were established under a peace treaty by one of the previous Elias kings the wars had ceased, but the balance of power still could easily be tipped. It was rather incredulous that the Dark Moon had managed to move their forces from Aoich to the tundra without upsetting the balance. “That sounds pretty reasonable. Still, will you do this for me Amata? I understand that the two of you have not settled your differences as of yet, but this is a battle that we all have a stake in. Rather than turn against each other we should unite and fight against the Agasura. If you can assist the kid in mastering her power, I think we'd be a step closer to ending this war.”
    “You...you really think so?” Her eyes twinkled.
    He smiled. “I know so.”

    Kasumi
    Kasumi and Amata stood upon the remains of one of their previous battlefields, the ground was dirt and the area rather barren after the villagers of Hanamah had made a great effort to clean up the mess the two had made. There were few trees around them, and a rather wide radius that allowed for the young girl to use large-scale magic without harming the forest in the process.
    The geezer said that if the two were to practice together it'd be for the best if they used a barren area so as not to damage the forest any further than they already had. Her dad had picked this place out and asked that the two be extra careful with their magic. Though it was the geezer that asked Amata to be her teacher, and though she was against the idea he asked really nicely so she said she'd try. It'd been only a couple days since the two started practicing together, but since the school was closed because all of the adults were on clean-up duty the two had a lot more time than they normally would've.
    “Alright, just like we practiced. First, Leaf Storm,” Amata said. With a wave of her hand a series of leaves surrounded Su and she disappeared amidst them before reappearing on a tree's branches. “Poison Spore.” Su leapt down from the tree and placed a hand to the ground, a rather large flower bloomed from it and released a cloud of purple spores from its bulb before wilting and crumbling. Amata grinned. “Huh. You're actually getting it! I'm almost impressed.”
    “Tch.” Su clicked her tongue at the God's Governors words. Though they became teacher and student, they weren't anywhere close to being friends.
    “Little Vine,” Amata continued. A small vine emerged from the ground and wrapped around Su's wrist. “Large vine.” Su stomped the ground and a massive vine emerged from it, before swinging in a circle once and submerging in the ground again. She wasn't sure if Amata had made up the name of the spells or if they were real things, but as she performed them they felt a lot more natural than the other things she did. Most of the time she had to control them after making them, but the ones she learned over the past few days seemed to do a certain thing after they were made, and saved her a lot of energy in the process. It took her a while to get the hang of doing them without saying the names but Bane always said she was a quick learner, so it usually didn't take more than a day or two.
    “Come on, gimme something more difficult. This is easy stuff!” Su shouted with a devilish grin.
    “You're out of breath and you're asking for a challenge? Have it your way. Let's see you make a golem.”
    Su crouched down and placed a hand to the ground, a magic circle appeared beneath her. The ground before her began to crack and rumble, and a series of rocks arose before coming together to form a stone golem. “How's that?” She grinned proudly.
    “Meh.” Amata shrugged.
    “If you're looking for a fight we can go another round!” Su roared while her golem pounded its fists together.
    Bane who was nearby rose from his sitting position and barked indignantly.
    “Okay, okay...jeez.” Su muttered before standing down.
    “Let's move on to the next one. You ready?”
    “Bring it on!”

    Later that day Kasumi went to find Samson and took his hand before dragging him off with Bane following closely behind.
    “Well this is a familiar scenario.” He laughed as he went along with her. “So where are we headed today?”
    “We're going to my favourite place in the entire forest,” Su answered.
    Though it had only been a short while, the geezer seemed to be having a pretty tough time keeping up. Some of the hills were a little steep and they may have had to grab a branch or two because they could slip and fall back down but she knew where to go after going there so many times. The geezer got his clothes caught on some branches and bushes along the way, and fell flat on his face a couple of times too.
    She laughed as the sound of him slipping and collapsing amongst the leaves caught their attention, her wolf looking back uneasily. “Bane wants to know if you're okay,” She shouted to him.
    “Never been better.” He answered as he pulled himself to his feet.
    The trio continued on going further into the forest and the leading two found themselves at a landing somewhere higher than where Samson had yet reached.
    “You're slow geezer! Come on!” She shouted to him with a wave.
    “I may have lived here for a year or so but hiking in the forest is something I'm still pretty new to kid!” He rose from his hands and knees and wrapped himself around a leaning tree's trunk, steadily inching his way around it so as not to fall back down.
    “'S not like I come here all that often either. It's just sometimes.” She turned away from the struggling geezer and moved forward. With the change of the season came a change in weather, but Su preferred fall to summer anyway. The area they were in were still beneath the massive trees and was always really cool in the summertime. “It's where I practice all my fancy spells and stuff. Here nobody can see...and it's really far out so most of them don't want to try. None of them can get hurt by me either.” When he finally reached the landing she was on she disappeared behind a brush. “We're almost there geezer so don't die on me okay?”
    She could hear him chuckling dryly from where she walked. “Keep saying those things and you might hurt my feelings kid.”
    She was already climbing the vines that hung from a high wall of rock to the ground where the two had found themselves. She quickly made her way to the top while her wolf companion hung onto her back. He was a lot heavier than he looked. “Up here!” She shouted to him before waving once more.
    The adventurer took hold of the vines and began to climb up while keeping his sights set on reaching the top. Probably because he was scared, but she wasn't, even though it was pretty high up. When he finally reached where she stood, he looked on in awe at the sight before them. A small field of flowers that basked in the light just barely outside the reach of the treetops. A ring of white tulips surrounded the flowerpatch.
    “This is...incredible...” Samson uttered.
    “This is our secret garden. It's yours now too, but you can't tell anyone.” She said glaring at him.
    “My lips are sealed.” He zipped his lips but instead of throwing away the key like Melody he swallowed it. She laughed. How was he supposed to swallow it if he zipped his lips?
    She placed her hands behind her back and gazed upon the beauty before her. “There's a lot of bad things out there but...here everything feels just right. No stupid boys or monsters or nagging parents. Just Bane, flowers and me.” She walked through the flowers right to the heart of the landing.
    “It really is a beautiful place. Though is there a reason you brought me here? If it's your secret place it must be a special occasion huh?”
    She grinned. “Obviously so we can have our match! I'm ready!”
    He smiled wryly at her answer. “Our match? Here? Wait match?!”
    She looked at him with a puzzled expression. “Whaddya mean? You said to show you what I can do, so we're gonna fight right?”
    “H-hold on I can't fight you!”
    She placed her hands in her pockets. “Why not?
    “Yoou're just a kid! If I hurt you Beatrice and Grant would have my heard. That, and it goes against my policies to hit anyone below sixteen, at least. That's really pushing it.”
    “Don't be scared!”
    He furrowed his brows. “Now that's just nonsense.”
    She grinned devilishly. “I won't hurt you too bad.”
    He sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. “Let's be reasonable here. You're still recovering from your battle with Amata. You'd have to be nuts to try to jump into another fight. Look at yourself kid, you're still bandaged up.”
    She frowned. There were still bandages around her head, torso and stomach to protect the places she was burned or scraped when she hit the ground but they were nothing. “I can take it! You don't use magic right? I'll be fine!”
    “That's not the problem here. It could be a problem, but it's not right now.” He rubbed his beard thoughtfully and raised a finger when he came to a realization. “I've got an idea. How about we play a game?”
    “A game?” She echoed.
    “Yeah, it's easy. All you have to do is hit me once, with anything, so spells or your fists or whatever. I'll give you ten minutes to do it. If you can get me before time's up, it's your win. If you can't then I do. Sound fair to you?”
    “Easy! Make it five and I'll still get you.”
    He smiled. “Ten minutes it is.” She glared at him and he pulled his sleeve back to check the watch on his left wrist. “Though I have to admit, it'd be a real shame to destroy this flower garden. Are you sure you want to have the match here?”
    She nodded. “I don't want anyone to get in the way.”
    He looked a little worried. “I see. If it's what you want, I won't stop you. Winter is right around the corner after all. They wouldn't last much longer anyway.” After waiting a couple of moments he raised a hand.“On the count of three, we'll start. In the last five seconds he began to lower his fingers as he counted down the seconds. “Three...two...one...go!”
    Su stepped forward and the ground beneath him shuddered and rose, causing him to falter and fall forwards. She dashed towards him as he got back to his feet and drew his weapon before jumping back. She leapt towards him while reeling back a fist and he somersaulted away. As she rose to her full height once more she continued her pursuit and attempted to catch him with a right hook but to no avail. He swung his dagger in a vertical arc and slid back as he did before he grinned at her.
    “That, my little lady is called Dancing Dagger,” He said.
    She clicked her tongue. “You haven't seen anything yet!” She stomped her foot and a vine shot up from the ground and wrapped around her wrist, before she reached out to him and it followed suit.
    He sidestepped the attack and cut the vine as it soared past him. The length that remained was useless to her so she cast it aside and pounded her left hand with her fist once before slamming it into the ground. A chunk of earth emerged and the adventurer was forced to jump aside and avoid the strike.
    He wiped the sweat from his brow and offered her a grin. “Nothin' to it!” She had him right where she wanted him-it was only a matter of time.
    She blew her bangs aside and punched her hand again preparing another spell. She got on one knee and placed both of her hands against the ground causing the earth beneath the two to tremble. A green glow surrounded her hands as they were submerged beneath the ground.
    “This...spells bad news.” Samson said as he tried to retain his balance. Merely seconds after it began massive thorny vines surged forth from the earth and collided where the adventurer once stood. As he evaded the attack he quickly distanced himself from them and looked back heaving.
    “Dance geezer!” She roared with laughter, though still rooted in place. He glanced at her and immediately transitioned into a dodge as one vine sunk back into the ground and another emerged, swinging in a wide arc. The geezer hit the floor and looked up as the vine scattered flower petals in its wake.
    “There's a fine line between hitting me with a spell and murdering me with a giant vine kid!”
    “Don't care! I play for keeps!” She wouldn't kill him. Though her spell wasn't entirely safe, she kept his well-being in mind.
    “...Not bad.” He said before a vine shot up next to him-he narrowly avoided it by raising his right leg and turning away from it. “Talk about a close call.”
    Her lips curled into a frown and she decided to change tactics. She pulled her hands from the ground and hit it hard, causing a vine to shoot up and continued doing so as he ran, causing more to spring up where he once stood-a little trick she came up with after Amata had done something similar. She began trying to predict where he'd go, but though he was old he could certainly move. When he turned in her direction she grinned and raised one where he was going, and another as he prepared to turn back. He began to run around in a hard to follow fashion, and she tried to catch him with her spells but failed continuously.
    She growled lightly before shouting, “You're gonna need some new tricks geezer, 'cause I've got a surprise for you!” She pounded her fists together again and with a wave of her hand six pillars of rock emerged from the ground and trapped him in. “Nowhere to run now!” She hit the ground and the earth began to tremble while he was sweating bullets. As a thorn she created shot up from the ground he leapt towards one of the pillars and off of it, towards another and from that above the rocks, landing safely outside of the prison and next to her. Before she could recover from the spell she looked up at him as he grinned back at her. “How did you-” He flicked her forehead and she fell back.
    Su grit her teeth before she got to her feet and he backed away while keep a cautious gaze on her. She stomped her foot and vines shot up from the ground and attempted to pin him down as she broke out into a sprint to catch him then and there.
    “Masquerade!” He shouted as he gripped his dagger and twirled as he cut the vines that surrounded him. She saw a moment in which his back was turned, and though reluctant at first with how wildly he swung the dagger she saw a moment where his back was turned and saw her chance. She rushed in and began taking swings at him but failed to land a single hit, as he dodged every blow she threw at him. “You're gonna need better timed attacks kid. Waving your arms around like that's just gonna tire you out.”
    “I don't need your tips geezer!” She snapped her fingers and a leaf appeared before her and drifted into her hand.
    “What do you plan on doing with that?” He asked sounding genuinely curious.
    She grinned. “Watch and see.” She clapped her hands together and the leaf began to glow before expanding exponentially, growing to an incredible size like the others before it. She tightly gripped the stem and began to spin towards him at a rapidly increasing pace which created a strong gust of wind around her.
    “Oh!” He said with a look of surprise. “Oh that's bad.” He turned away and began to run, but found himself steadily being pulled into the whirlwind Su created. Blades of grass, flower petals and dirt were dragged into it also and the adventurer ran with more vigour than she thought he had in him, but the field she created had more power than he did to run. Suddenly she began to feel dizzy and lost a lot of momentum almost instantly before collapsing to the ground. She placed a hand to her head to stop the spinning. “Ready to give up?”
    “I...I'm not gonna lose to you geezer!” She got to her feet while taking a few deep breaths to get herself together again. She used a lot of energy, but it was nowhere near enough to stop her. She pounded her open palm once more and crouched down, placing a hand to the leaf that rested before her, the adventurer looking on with a questioning gaze. “It's time to get serious now!” A magic circle appeared on the leaf and it burst into a series of smaller leaves before sweeping the area.
    “What did she-” He covered his eyes expecting an attack but nothing had followed it. When she wasn't training with Amata she did some practice of her own-from the remains of their battle she had taught herself a neat trick: to create a world from her spells. Though they didn't leave their own world or anything like that-it was just what the people in the spell's area would see, and it allowed her to do some tricky things. Bane helped by being a practice target. Now hidden behind a tree, she placed a hand to the ground and the mud arose and took the form of a copy of herself, right down to the last detail. With a wave of her hand the mud golem dashed out from where she was hidden and took cover behind another tree, out of Samson's vision. “You should give up while you still can! Save yourself the embarrassment.” Like she'd fall for that lame trick.
    “Don't hold your breath,” She muttered, but her voice echoed all around the area. Another trick she learned that she could do so long as the spell was in effect. As she spoke she created a golem out of leaves in one of the tree branches and moved her mud golem again. When he turned in the direction of the mud golem she sent out the second in a diving assault and he caught it in the act.
    “Above!” He looked above him and blocked it's fist with his dagger, the golem freezing in place for but a moment before exploding into a series of leaves. “You're pretty tricky.” He laughed as he brushed them off and slowly began to walk through the forest, watching his surroundings. She moved her mud golem once more and he began pursuing it, but lost it amidst the trees. She created another leaf golem as he did and sent it after him. Upon its first strike he blocked it again and the body burst into leaves. “Oh that's hilarious!”
    “Enjoying my new spells geezer? Are you scared yet?”
    “Not in the slightest! Now how about you come out here and we settle this hmm?”
    She laughed. “If that's what you want you better be ready for me.”
    “I was born ready.” She destroyed her mud golem and created a stone golem in its place, and sent it out. The golem moved in a zig-zag pattern, dashing from tree to tree before leaping and throwing a punch at him. He blocked the attack with his arm and the two collided with incredible force. His confident smile turned to a pained expression as he reeled back and tossed his dagger from the shock. “Another fake?”In those moments Su was already making her move, taking quick but light steps in the wake of her golem's. She dashed past it and underneath his raised arm, catching the dagger before taking his arm in hand and twisting it behind his back and holding the dagger to his neck. The golem remained frozen in place and Samson let out a sigh of defeat. “Another golem? Using phantasm magic to make it look just like you. Not bad at all kid.”
    She grinned. “You've got me all figured out smart one. But I caught you.”
    He raised his free hand innocently. “Alright, alright, you caught me fair and square, and even did it with flair. It's your victory.” She fell away from him as did the world, returning to the world as they knew it with a bright flash of light and the leaves that surrounded them falling to the ground. The stone golem shattered to pieces and rested in place before the adventurer. He rubbed his wrist gently as he sat down, but sighed happily.
    “You better keep your promise geezer,” She muttered.
    “I'm a man of my word.” He held a hand to his chest. He blinked before turning his gaze to her “Say, will you play one more game with me kid? It's not for prizes or anything. Just for fun.”
    She raised an eyebrow. “I'm listening.”
    “It's a little game called Ten Minutes of Honesty. My little brother and I used to play this all the time when we were young. Whenever we did something we shouldn't have, and didn't have the courage to admit it we'd do that to confess.”
    She shifted her gaze away. “Okay...why do you wanna play that with me? I haven't done any bad stuff.”
    “It's nothing like that. I'm not suspecting you of anything, but I am interested in you. I've been all around the world but I've never met anyone as mysterious as you.”
    She couldn't help but smile just a little bit at his words. To think an adventurer was curious about her! “I guess I'll play. What are the rules?”
    “There are none! Except one, I guess.” He chuckled. “I'll just ask you things for ten minutes and you give me the most honest answer you can. Once your ten minutes is up, you can ask me anything you want for ten minutes. Sound fair?”
    Su pursed her lips for a moment at the thought. When she wasn't sure, it was always best to ask Bane. “Whaddya think Bane?” He looked at her curiously. “Bane gave it the okay. I'll play.”
    He looked at his watch and nodded. “Alright, let's start. When did you first come to this village? To Hanamah?”
    She frowned. “I dunno. When I came here I was still really little. I don't remember it too well. I think Pops found me and Bane in the forest one day and he brought us to the house. Bane didn't trust him at first, but he said they were the same kind of people as us and that they seemed trustworthy.” She cracked a tiny smile at the memory. “He always said he'd protect me if someone tried to do anything bad.”
    “Pops? That's not something I hear you say often. Is that your dad?”
    She nodded. “I only call him that when he's not around. Says it makes him feel old.”
    Samson snickered at her words. “As for Bane himself, you often say things like he says things are okay or whether or not their safe. Do you decide these things by your intuition, or is he really speaking to you?”
    She knit her eyebrows. “You don't believe me?”
    He gestured that it wasn't like that. “No I do. It's just the sort of thing you wanna hear straight from the person sometimes.” I've never met a girl who could talk to wolves.”
    She scratched behind his ears and smiled. “Bane talks. He doesn't say much and doesn't talk often, but he sometimes talks to me. And he worries a lot. Since no one understands him I speak for him.”
    “Yeah he's a wolf with a lot of personality isn't he? He doesn't hide it well.” Samson laughed gently. “How long have you had him?”
    She placed a finger to her lip thoughtfully. “Bane's been with me forever. As far back as I can remember, he was always there.”
    “That so? Did you give him his name? How about your ring? Has that always been with you too?”
    “S-slow down geezer I can only answer one question at a time.” She glared at him from the corner of her eye. “Bane told me his name was Bane, and he said I should keep the ring safe, just like the earring.”
    He rubbed his beard thoughtfully. “What about your magic? How long did you have to study to learn all the spells that you know now?”
    “I didn't really do any studying for spells. Mom had a few books on learning to use mana and gathering it and stuff for casting spells and it helped me get a little better at it. The geezer in my dreams taught me where to begin. The spells i do are mostly made up by me.”
    He looked surprised by her words. “Impressive! So what is it that makes you want to leave the village and become an adventurer anyway? You mentioned it before but I do want to know more about it.”
    She stared blankly for a moment before turning her eyes away. “I...wanna help people-and protect my family. Bane and Mom and Dad...they're all really nice to me. I wanna become strong and protect them from the stuff that's out there. I learned in school and in books that if I work hard I can raise my rank in a guild and get stronger too...it's what the legendary adventurers of the past did! But right now...I'm still just an Angel.” She placed both of her hands to her chest and a small blue glow appeared. It began to fade and in her hands rested a small blue cross emitting the light that her chest once held. “Dad said if I'm good I can meet the princess and she can give me super powers! He said she can only pick seven people though so I have to work extra hard to be one of the best Mages she's ever seen.” She glanced at the geezer and saw him sniffling as he wiped tears out of his eyes. “Why're you crying geezer?”
    “I'm not crying! I've just got a bug in my eye.” He retorted rubbing them more furiously.
    “Where's the bug? I'll squish it for you.” She placed her hands on his thighs and tried to get a closer look.
    “You'd squish my eye if you did that. You're too curious for your own good anyway.” He placed his hands to her shoulders and sat her back down in front of him. He let out a gentle sigh and smiled before placing his hands to his chest. “There's nothing wrong with being an Angel kid. Things take time.” He held out an open hand and showed her the same cross that she held. “See? I'm one too.” She looked on in awe. “Though I want you to do what I didn't, and when you go out into the wide world join a guild. You'll be glad you did.” He closed his fist and the cross faded away. “I have one more question for you, since my time's almost up. Will you tell me your name?” She shook her head. “Why not?”
    She grinned a toothy grin. “You said you only had one more question geezer.”
    “Oh you're good. You're real good! But I'm on to you.” He answered in a silky voice, then smiled as she laughed. “Fine, fine...have it your way. My time's up, so ask away. Anything you want.”
    She seemed to think it over for a moment. “What's it like being an adventurer?”
    He chuckled. “It's everything you'd expect it to be kiddo. I travel all around the world, riding on caravans and staying up as late as I like. I can sleep under the stars and fight Agasuras everyday if I wanted to. I get to meet people, take up quests and I've even explored some legendary dungeons!”
    “Did you find cool treasures and stuff too?!” She could barely sit still as she launched another question.
    “Only the finest! I've seen Agasuras only found in dungeons, fought them, and am here to tell the tale. I have a talon from the dragon Invoke if my bag if you wanna see it.” She nodded rapidly and he chuckled. “If you want it I'll give it to you. Just don't tell your parents okay? They'll go berserk if they find out.”
    “What were the other people you met like?”
    “I'd met people that studied all the different classes, and partied with some too. Warlords and Temple Knights, Gunslingers and Bards, the whole shebang. One thing I noticed about all of them is often times the class represents that person's personality, in a strange way. The fact that we have the ability to choose what we wanna be allows us to do the thing that we enjoy most.”
    “What about your brother? Did he get to be the class that he wanted to be?”
    Samson froze up at the question and looked pale for a moment while she eyed him curiously. His eyes seemed to shift and remain focused on her face, and shortly after the colour returned to his as his expression softened. “You know, he was an Earth Mage just like you. He was a little clumsy but he had a big heart, and he couldn't say no if his life depended on it. Always was really thoughtful of the people around him and tried to bring joy wherever he went.” Samson chuckled gently but for a moment with a tiny smile that seemed to think of the past. “He wasn't half bad at it either. He was such a good guy it made picking on him my favourite past time. No matter what I did, I never could quite make him angry.” His smile turned into a grin and shortly after laughter. “Even if he lost his temper, he could only muster the intensity of a kitten. He always forgave me right off the bat.”
    His happiness was a little contagious-she found herself smiling also. “That's a side of you I don't see often. You must really like your brother.”
    He nodded. “I do love the guy. When we were just little kids I was always so jealous of him because he had inherited my dad's powers, while I got nothing. He was a talented Earth Mage and I was an explorer struggling to make a name for himself. He received my parents love and attention and I was...chopped liver.” He snorted. “Man was I ever green with envy. But back then I didn't realize how hard it was on the poor guy. People had insane expectations of him and because it was in his nature he did everything he could possibly do just to live up to them. And I mean all of them. The poor guy didn't get as much time as he deserved to just have fun as a kid. When I realized that I started to feel that I should have been in his place. He deserved to live the carefree life that I lived, not me.”
    She looked at him curiously. “What if you could change it? Would you?”
    Without a moment of hesitation he answered, “Of course I would!”
    “That would be bad though, don't you think?” The adventurer sat back properly and eyed her with a look of confusion. “This is the life he got, isn't it? It might've been hard on him but he got through the hard times didn't he? Maybe he's really happy and stuff, where he is now. If you go and change that maybe he wouldn't be happy, and you might not either being in his shoes. If that happened then you wouldn't have come to Hanamah either and Bane and I never would've found you.” She blinked. “Would you really want that geezer?”
    He looked surprised, then smiled. “You know, that was really well put kid. If I had changed anything in his life maybe he wouldn't be where he is today. But for better or worse, this is what fate had chosen for him. The happiness he held is his to keep. And to see that smile...I'd give everything to protect that happiness.” He beamed and she beamed back, and for a moment he could see Julius in her clumsy grin.
    “You know geezer, you're not half bad. Don't get too ahead of yourself though!”
    “Heh, too late.” She blew a raspberry at him and he laughed. “Kidding, I'm kidding.” He stood up and stretched. “We should head back before it gets dark kid.” The sun was setting and the sky was once more dyed a crimson orange. He glanced around them and rubbed the back of his neck. “Sorry...looks like we messed up your secret garden.”
    “It's not that big a deal. I think Bane and I could fix it again. Small stuff like this isn't too much for us to do.” She looked to him and he nodded. “Let's show the geezer what we can do one more time.”
    She knelt down and rested her head against his and closed her eyes as he followed suit. He began to radiate a faint green glow and the aura became brighter as it transferred over to her. She pulled away and broke the link before she rose to her feet and spread her arms out. She began to levitate where she stood and a her body was soon engulfed in a bright sparkling aura. A gentle wind began to blow and the flowers that were once torn from their stems began to sprout new buds that grew and blossomed in seconds. All around the three new flowers began to grow.
    “And I thought this place was incredible.” Samson muttered. Su slowly drifted down to the ground and the aura faded away. “Did you...create all these yourself?”
    She nodded and her face flushed. “The flowers weren't always here. It was really boring before Bane and I decided to make it better.”
    “You're a real piece of work kid. You never cease to amaze me.” He smiled.
    She beamed in turn. “You haven't seen anything yet geezer. Just you wait and see.”

    Samson
    The trio returned to the village as the last of the setting sun disappeared over the horizon and dusk casted a dark veil over the forest. Without a doubt Samson knew that the girl with him now was his missing niece, and the God's Governor of Earth. Though he had seen it first-hand there was still an odd lingering disbelief, but it was definitely her, and in spite of all the hardships she had grown strong, both in body and mind. In spite of the challenges she had faced, and being alone save for her canine companion she found strength in him, companionship, and still became a well-versed Mage and Cerebian. This was her life-what she had made of herself in spite of the darkness and uncertainty that had surrounded her since her journey had begun. Did Julius and Rosetta know that this would be the conclusion of their decision? The two were truly incredible, and their daughter more so. Perhaps there was more truth to his thought than he himself believed-that the next generation would be the ones to change the world. He chuckled gently under his breath and Kasumi looked to him with a puzzled expression.
    “What's so funny?” She asked with knit eyebrows.
    “It's nothing. I'm just feeling really good today.” He answered looking up and spotting Grant in the distance waving them in. As the two went on the villagers that walked by greeted him.
    “Good to see you Sam. On babysitting duty huh?” Warren asked as he passed.
    “You look pretty worn out Samson. Take care of yourself.” Tory shouted from her window.
    “No fair Sam! You went out to have fun with the wolf and the cutie and you didn't tell me?! That's so cheap!” Melody hollered while angrily swinging a bucket.
    “Evening Grant,” Samson said.
    Grant gave the two an approving nod and smiled. “Good to see you two. Had fun today?”
    “I kicked the geezer's butt today.” Kasumi answered.
    The three stepped inside and took their shoes off, the father and daughter went on. “Did you give him the ol' one-two?”
    “Darn right I did!” She even did punching gestures to accompany it. Samson chuckled under his breath.
    “That's my girl! Just like I taught you.” He picked her up and nuzzled her face with his.
    “D-Dad stop! Your whiskers are itchy!”
    Grant laughed and the adventurer cracked a smile. “Go wash up for dinner sunshine. Your Mom won't be too pleased to see you looking like that.” He put her down as she nodded and slipped on her shoes again to exit the house. Grant turned to Samson and grinned. “You're looking rather disappointed Samson. Do you want some too?”
    Samson's eyes opened wide before he smiled devilishly. “Is that a challenge?”
    “I do take pride in my moustache. May the finer of the two win!”
    “Just let me shave first. This beard of mine isn't the most appropriate for the occasion.” The two began to laugh and Grant gently leaned against a wall.
    “I know you've heard me say it hundreds of times but I can't thank you enough Samson for looking after our daughter. I know she can be a tad stubborn and a bit of a wild child but since you came around she's really brightened up. Normally she wouldn't open up to anyone, let alone smile like that. She really has changed because of you.”
    The adventurer shook his head. “You don't have to thank me. I have you to thank for taking me in and saving me from...expiring. To be able to look after your daughter and see her growth over the past year has been a valuable experience for me. She's a gifted child, and I think I'm finally beginning to understand what that means.”
    He wore a sad smile. “Yes she is. I knew it would only be a matter of time before you found out. Won't you join me for a drink after I put her to bed? I'd like to have a talk with you, man-to-man.”
    Samson nodded. “It's about time isn't it? There's a few questions I've been meaning to ask you myself.” He had heard the truth from Kasumi, the truth as she knew it. Grant was the one who found her, and he and Beatrice were not to be taken for fools. There was no denying that they were familiar with Kasumi and likely her story also. Perhaps it was not just chance that the two came to Hanamah, and that they discovered Kasumi in the forest. According to Reina's letter, the two were familiar with Vanir and Skuld, and likely by extension, Lucia. Would the information brokers tell them of something they were not searching for? Perhaps there was more to them, and Kasumi's foster family then met the eye. But the adventurer could safely say that he was right on the mark-Beatrice's hostility was because she wanted to protect the God's Governors identity, and though he went through great pains to confirm it, he was thankful she did. It was because of them Kasumi was alive and well. It was up to him to choose a suitable future for her.
    Kasumi entered the hallway once more and tossed her shoes aside as she excitedly said, “Dad, Dad! The geezer promised too teach me how to fight for kicking his butt!”
    Grant looked rather startled for a moment, but quickly put on an expression of mock-anger with a 'stern dad' voice and said, “Samson, I am sorely disappointed in you! Teaching my daughter unnecessary knowledge like fighting! For shame!”
    “Forgive me, father-figure! She hat bested me in mortal combat!” Samson replied as he stifled his laughter. “I'm gonna go was up too. Wish me luck in explaining this matter to our gracious hostess.”
    Grant saluted him. “Godspeed, soldier.”

    The four sat at the table and Beatrice's penetrating glare pierced Samson from the moment he began explaining the situation to the silence that followed after he did.
    “So tell me again exactly what you promised my daughter?” She requested in a cold, deadly voice.
    “I uhh...kinda sorta promisedI'dteachhertousedaggersifshecouldbeatmeinafight.” He stammered.
    “And why would you do that?” Beatrice intertwined her fingers.
    He cleared his throat and put on his most serious expression. “Using shields and daggers is a very powerful skill for any mage. They sacrifice some accuracy and improved channelling abilities for improved close combat ability and strengthened defenses. I'm a veteran Treasure Hunter, and of course a shield and dagger user, so I figured it would be a good idea.”
    “Did it not occur to you that you should've consulted me before making this decision?
    “Go easy on the guy Bea. He had our daughter's future in mind. Some people don't even get to learn more than one type of weapon in their entire career you know. If she does decided to become a Sorcerer, having an understanding of the the different weapons at her disposal would be pretty handy. The safer it is for her, the better, right?” Grant asked.
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Fri Nov 21, 2014 6:56 pm

    Page 124-131:
    She turned her glare to him and sighed. She rested her chin on her hands and looked out the window into the night, seemingly pondering their suggestions. “That doesn't change the fact she shouldn't be receiving weapons training at her age.” Samson chuckled uneasily. He planned to teach her about hand-to-hand combat, but in the situation he was in perhaps it was better that he follow the other path. After all, they would be techniques that she would need in the future, and it would save him from being killed by Beatrice.
    Grant rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Couldn't you say the same about her magical training though? She's already breezed through the basic stages of the casting guides and mastered the abilities within them. She's taken a gander through some of your tomes too. Better not to underestimate her Bea. She's way ahead of the rest of her class, and as far as we know she might be more versed than we know of. Should push come to shove, having a little weapons training will do her a lot of good in the long run, don't you think?”
    She glared at Samson again and he froze up for a moment, but the intensity of the glare diminished as she let out one more sigh and wore an expression of defeat. He knew she did not approve of their decision but the look she gave said she had little left to argue her point with. “If it's what you really want then go ahead. But should she be hurt in any way I'm holding you both responsible!”
    “Mission accomplished,” Her husband added with a wink.
    “Alright!” Samson cheered while giving Kasumi a high five with both hands.

    Following dinner Samson and Grant had gone outside into the night, a lantern sitting between them along with a bottle of wine, a glass in each of their hands. Grant opened the bottle and poured Samson a glass before filling his own, the two toasting shortly after.
    “Truthfully alcohol never was my specialty, but having some of this for special occasions never hurts,” Grant said.
    “I must be quite the special occasion then.” Samson laughed.
    “So how's our little girl been treating you?”
    Samson took a drink and looked up to the stars. “She's an angel.”
    Grant chuckled gently. “Always was.” He took a drink and slowly turned the glass in between his fingers. “Guess the cat's out of the bag isn't it? I'm sure by now you've seen 'it'. You know who she really is.”
    “Yeah I have. Thankfully we got the situation under control before anyone was harmed, but I'm not the only one who knows about her. As for who she is, I'd like to believe that she's who I think she is.”
    Kasumi's father took a sip from his glass. “In many of the legends beings known as the God's Governors existed, each bearing one of the four elements. Many of them said that with God Ah's Left Hand they created this world. Though they weren't always known as that-Legacies, Sages, Magus, and now God's Governors...and in every generation, somewhere in the world they existed. Inheriting immense power through their bloodline or being born anew in a new family but with powers no less powerful. To create, to destroy, and at times there were some that may have never realized who they were or where the lineage had begun and ended, but they still existed across history. Most of this can be found in a children's book, but not everyone will see them as anything more than legends or fairy tales.”
    Samson gazed at him for a moment before asking, “...Where do you stand in all of this?”
    Grant grinned. “Me? Who could say for sure? I've lived a rather simple life-I've spent my years adventuring and fighting for my people and our world, and all of it has brought me here. I'd never have suspected that I would've stumbled upon that young girl, but it seemed that it was what fate had in mind for me.” He swirled his drink again as he smiled nostalgically. “I had no idea how or why she had come to Hanamah with her wolf companion, but there she was, a ragged child and her guardian.” He lowered his eyes before taking a drink from his glass. “I'm sure you're aware as we are but the Haven we once resided in...was attacked. By the Dark Moon Kingdom at that. With reinforcements from Owl Castle they marched on, the Haven was destroyed with great prejudice, as were many of those who struggled to defend it. Many people were killed, violated and enslaved, and eventually the entire village buried in sand.”
    Samson clenched his fist. “I'd seen the aftermath of it myself, and heard similar details from Vanir. He had also told me they were in search of Julius, but it still raises the questions of how they got in and why they were searching for him. We're very discrete about the matters pertaining to the God's Governors, and though less so, I don't think anyone would mention our existence to humanity. I'd rather not start a witch hunt over a mole that doesn't exist.”
    He nodded at the adventurer's words. “The moment we begin to suspect each other is when relations among Cerebians will fall apart, and from it our ties with Humanity will suffer.”
    Samson rubbed his beard thoughtfully. “Do you know why the Dark Moon had attacked Xenym? Was it just to get Julius, or did they mention anything else?”
    “Truthfully I've not the foggiest. Beatrice and I weren't present for the invasion of Xenym, only arriving to see the aftermath just as you had. Reina had told us what she recalled from the event, but you likely know all of the information she had to give, since you saw Vanir after all. One thing I can say for sure is that this event may have something to do with the Dark Moon's plan to revive their 'Lord' but I've little proof to back up the theory.” Grant shook his head. “If that were the case, perhaps Julius' ends justified his means.”
    The adventurer had heard the tales of the Dark Moon and the endeavours they engaged in, alongside their plans to revive their Lord yet he had still precious little idea exactly what it was and how they planned to accomplish this. He still held to the theory that it was possible the Agasura had a hand in the matter, but Grant was one of the leaders of the village, and bringing up an unfounded possibility such as that could bring unnecessary stress to the minister. Perhaps it was to prevent this, that Iris Livier and her companions came to Hanamah. The guns that Yuta would wield in the future would be that which strike down the Dark Moon's god. Though should the Dark Moon fall to Reina and the soldiers of the Havens perhaps that future could be avoided. Iris only saw the near future, so the possibility of preventing such events was not something Samson would rule out just yet. “You two...were also citizens of Xenym?”
    Grant nodded. “That we were. We were there very rarely though, since we spent most of our time journeying, but we did stay a spell. Of course, we knew about God's Governor Julius and his brother Samson.” He smiled.
    “Your home...let me apologize on behalf of Julius. If it wasn't for us the Haven wouldn't have been attacked in the first place. The idiot...to bury everyone in sand...he knew what that spell did and yet-but it doesn't make sense! Why would Julius use that spell knowing he'd be killing Cerebians, Humans and himself with them?! I-”
    “Samson.” The sound of his name stopped his confused tirade and brought him back to reality.
    “Sorry. After all this I've been through I'd thought that I could overcome those lapses but it might require some more time.” He muttered apologetically.
    “Give it all the time it needs, but in the meantime I want you to ponder this. Humankind, more specifically the Dark Moon had come to our village and tortured our people, murdered their loved ones and all under the guise that they would leave peacefully if they had received the God's Governor without a struggle. Even if we had complied with their wishes, nothing would ever be the same. One life may be sacrificed to save the many, but would the people of Xenym be able to live with themselves knowing that they'd given up their protector and God's Governor to save themselves? On the other hand, that invasion has left scars on our people in ways that will never be forgotten, and others had lost many precious people and things. For some, death may have been a blessing during those dark times-probably the lesser of two evils in place of captivity. Should Julius have given himself up I doubt that they would settle for just him. Many had died in the battle, but they along with the God's Governor could easily have fallen under the Dark Moon's control. If that were to happen, it'd not only mean the end of us, but also the end of mankind itself. Could you live knowing that you had allowed that?”
    Samson closed his eyes solemnly. “I...I understand. He was always a good kid. Whatever his reasons may have been, I'm sure he had the Cerebians' best intentions in mind. The fact that his little girl has the exact familiar that he adventured with is proof that before he passed away he had given the sign of his contract to her. Or at least, I want to believe that young girl is his daughter. If Julius died with Bane still under his command, the wolf would return to wherever Julius had summoned it from. But there's no way a baby could survive in the wilderness.” He shook his head. “I can doubt the matters all I like but even so...I never really understood the God's Governors, and I lived with two of 'em.” He laughed dryly. “Though being here now makes me wonder, if I was there if I could've changed things. I don't have any incredible powers like Julius, but if he could've escaped I'd have gladly given my life in his stead. But I can't change that now...because I've failed him. With the life that I have left though, I'll do everything I can to make things right, starting with finding Kasumi, God's Governor or not.” He saw the rampant state first hand, and he had put a stop to it, but the aftermath had left him more puzzled. In Julius' case, the man had felt and became stronger after the event had passed. It seemed like Kasumi had not changed in the slightest since-her aura felt the same as it had prior to the event. He considered consulting Grant about it, but the retired knight would be less knowledgeable on the matter than he would, and Amata was absolutely out of the question.
    Grant took a sip of his drink and smiled somberly. “With how deductive you are you've likely already put two and two together to discern that our little girl, the God's Governor of Earth and Julius' daughter are one and the same.” Samson stared blankly at him. “Come on, don't give me that look.” He chuckled. “It's the most logical conclusion, isn't it? Her familiar and the proof of their contract-the ring she wears, her incredible ability as an Earth Mage, the fall of Xenym and the existence of the child raised in the forest, the list goes on.”
    “Grant...”
    The Temple Knight leaned back against the fence and gazed up at the stars. “There isn't much reason for me to hide the truth from you Samson. I knew when I first saw you that you were, in fact Julius' brother, though I have to admit the state you were in was rather misleading.” He laughed. “But over the past year you've really proved that you're capable of looking after her, and even more so the entirety of the village. Nevertheless, the truth can be hard to swallow, and for us the truth was that there would come a time where Bea and I would have to watch our little girl leave the nest. Even so, we love her...we really do. Maybe it's just me, but I still feel that she hasn't quite found a place she belongs, and truthfully it might not be here. Even so, in spite of her fighting and keeping her distance from everyone she's still a good child at heart. Perhaps we're just not quite ready to lose another.”
    “Come again?” The adventurer raised an eyebrow.
    “Bea and I used to have a little girl ourselves. Had her before we left home and came down to Jienda. When the second war had broken out we had sent our daughter away with some of the other evacuating refugees, under the care of a close friend. More than anything, I wanted her to be safe, but my duty as a Temple Knight called to me and I had fought in the war, in a desperate attempt to save as many lives as I could. I couldn't bear to see the young girls and boys conscripted losing their lives in a battle they were not prepared for...and Beatrice stood by me right until the very end. We fought well, but we suffered great losses in spite of it, and Bea and I suffered also. The group our daughter was among was attacked...many were injured and didn't survive the descent. Our daughter wasn't that lucky. Bea was heartbroken, and I could barely keep myself together to comfort her. It was a wound the two of us never thought would heal.” He took a sip of his drink and blinked slowly, thoughtfully. “Years passed and Xenym also, was attacked. Our friends were taken captive or killed, and just like that were gone.”
    “How did the two of you survive the invasion?” Samson asked.
    “We'd heard Elias was preparing to wage war against goblin-kind. King Hejong caught word that they were mobilizing an army to march on the city and planned a counter-invasion to strike the problem at its source. We had joined in the battle, slain the goblin king and returned to Xenym. Following that we had met with Vanir and company and left for Hanamah. Reina was one of the only survivors of the ordeal we've met, and thankfully we've come across you also.” He smiled slightly. “Bless her soul.”
    “I wish I had come sooner. I might have been able to contribute to the growth of Hanamah.”
    Grant laughed. “It's a small village. With the few hands they had before Bea and I arrived they'd managed quite a lot. You'd have been surprised. Our arrival was nothing more than the cherry on the cake. Before I knew it I was a minister alongside Mrs. Hidalgo.”
    “Did anything else happen after your arrival?”
    “The days were quiet. We'd settled in, and our lives became what they are today shortly after. At the time though, some lived in fear that Hanamah could be next in line to be invaded and others prayed for our saviour to rise up and bring light to the dark times we had found ourselves in.” He rubbed his chin. “It wasn't until a few years later that I found the young girl during a walk. She and Bane were by the river drinking water when I approached, and they didn't take kindly to me.” He laughed. “Perhaps her primal instincts were much more active than her evolved instincts. It took some time to gain their trust, but little by little they warmed up to me and Bea, so we took the two in.”
    Samson looked rather startled. To think that she had managed to survive in the forest on instincts alone, let alone amidst the civilizations that dotted Jienda was quite the feat. Perhaps the girl rarely, if ever left the forest. “Do you think her interactions with you were her first with another humanoid?”
    He nodded sagely. “She was always a strange child, but it's pretty fascinating in its own right, I believe. But I won't bore you any longer with that story. There are more pressing matters at hand anyway. You've made quite the journey in search of her didn't you? If you truly want to, I won't stop you from bringing her with you on your journey. I'm sure she'd be thrilled to know that she'd found someone from her blood family, and you won't have to search any longer. If you do though, will you do me just one favour?”
    Samson raised an eyebrow. “What's that?”
    The Temple Knight grinned. “Be sure to tell her to write, and to come see us once she's found her Pledger. Bea and I won't accept just anybody.”
    Samson snickered at the request before he shook his head. “Grant, I couldn't take her away from the two of you. When she's ready, I want her to take her own destiny into her hands. She's a strong girl, and I know that she's got her own aspirations and dreams to fulfill. Bombarding her with stories of the past and duties she doesn't need would just be unnecessary baggage-I can't do that to her. Whatever bonds she's created here, I want them to stay the way they are and improve as they were meant to. She deserves this. She should have a real childhood and a family to share it with. I want her to be happy here, so I'll keep these secrets with me until the day comes where she's ready to find out the truth.”
    Grant closed his eyes but his lips curled into a smile. “You're a pretty good kid yourself Samson. I know she can count on you.”
    Samson cracked a grin. “Why don't you teach her some of your flattery?”
    “Oho! Saucy aren't we?”
    The laughs of the two could be heard through the night.

    Kasumi
    Since the two had their match Su had begun training with Samson in the time frame between him completing work and dinnertime. On days the two had no particular homework she and Amata would do a bit of extra spellwork, and she felt pretty good about how much she had improved. Samson taught her all about grapples, including the suplex that he used when she and Amata fought.
    Today she and him stood in the area that she and Amata used as a training ground, the two face to face and armed with wooden daggers. The weapon was a lot lighter than his, but it was easy to wield and her first, so she was really excited to be learning how to use them.
    He laughed gently. “I still can't believe you don't remember what happened that day.” He rubbed his neck. “Then again, you hit your head pretty hard that day, so it's not entirely surprising you'd be missing a few memories.”
    “I'm surprised you didn't hit your head doing that suplex,” She retorted curtly.
    He cracked a grin. “Well I am a professional, after all. They don't call me the World Warrior for nothing!” She snickered and he furrowed his brows. “Anyway, let's get right to it shall we?” He walked beside her and took a battle stance. “Now, a simple thing to know is that though you're a Wizard, you still have access to an Explorer's skills. At least, a dagger user's skills. Some Wizards like to learn a bit of magic and a few dagger skills, but splitting your focus isn't always a great thing. I'll teach you the basics, including a couple of the skills but learning the others and choosing to master them is your decision. Now, watch closely and follow what I do.”
    “Mmkay,” She answered with a nod.
    “Rule one of using daggers? Be fast, clever, and accurate! One miss and you can lose a hand, or worse. If your opponent leaves themselves open, go for a strike. There are three that can turn a bad situation good. First, thrust!” He stabbed the air and quickly pulled the dagger back. “After that, upward slash!” He brought the weapon up in a sharp arc. “Finally, downward slash!” He brought the weapon back down and turned his head to her. “Easy stuff right? The last two are interchangeable depending on the situation, but don't stress that too much. When you do the three together, you can get in at least one or two cuts.” He showed her what the three looked like in succession and her eyes twinkled. “Alright, lemme see what you can do kid.” She nodded and followed his suggestion with ease.
    “Next?”
    “Feisty aren't we? You've got the right attitude though. Now then, if your opponent leaves themselves open, they falter on your strike, or you successfully dodge an attack you go for a strong attack. First you swing like this, then follow up with this, and dodge backwards before they can counter like so.” He made a wide horizontal swing to the right, the left, then leapt back. “It might be for the best if you aim for one strong attack, since two can leave you vulnerable. If you see your opponent moving in towards you somersault back.” He gave her a demonstration and she followed his suggestion afterwards. “Not bad at all kid!”
    She grinned. “I bet with a bit more practice I can beat you again geezer.”
    “H-hey that's just between you and me okay?” He chuckled dryly. “Once you've got the basics down we'll move onto some real dagger skills.” He walked over to a tree and picked up a pair of wooden shields, then tossed one to her. “Let's move into the next one, shield bashing and parries! Now, watch me closely okay? If you see an enemy coming at you, watch carefully where their weapon is and prepare yourself to block it. That goes for archers too. Small weapons, knowing what hand they carry their weapon with, how they choose to strike and how they move when they do are all important factors. Keep a close eye on what I do, and block it.” He faced her and she held the shield up just below her face. He reeled his arm back and took a stab at her stomach, and she quickly brought the shield down to stop the blow. He gave an approving nod and drew his weapon back before swinging it in an arc to the left. She bashed his weapon away with her shield and pointed her dagger at him. “You really are an adept at combat aren't you?” He grinned. “Using your shield to parry attacks can be risky, but if you're confident enough you can use your weapon hand to take a stab at the enemy. Just be ready in case they do the same to you. Now why don't you take a few strikes at me and see if you can land a few hits hmm?”
    “Get ready!” She drew her weapon back and stepped forward with a flurry of blows. As if he knew where she was going to attack before she could do it his shield blocked everything she threw at him.
    “Needs a little bit of refining, but you're getting there. Let's move on to something else. A good way to get the jump on your enemy without sacrificing your defense too much would be shield-bashing. There are a lot of ways you can do it, but I'll teach you two for now. The first would be a rush.” He placed his shield close to his body and lunged forward using his torso. “The second would be to use the weapon itself.” He stood still and pushed the weapon out, before pulling it back. “Hit fast, hit hard, and daze your target! Easy, right? Show me what you've got.”

    A few days later the two had met up again at their usual training ground, now coated in a blanket of snow. The geezer wore his usual coat but he wore a black toque now and a brown scarf around his neck along with a black pair of gloves. Su wore a red fur coat and blue mitts with winter boots and a multicoloured toque.
    “Winter came pretty suddenly,” Samson chuckled. “Toques aren't really my cup of tea though.”
    “You look pretty cold geezer,” Su remarked. She saw him shivering every now and then.
    “Cold? Me? Pfft.” He picked up the wooden daggers and gave one to her. “I'm kind of surprised you can wield the weapon with those mitts on, but you know, somehow I can accept that.” She caught a glimpse of his grin over his scar. “So, today I'll be teaching you a couple of dagger skills. It'll take some time and probably real combat experience to use the other skills, but in the early stages learning these two isn't hard.”
    “Let's do it!” She shouted excitedly holding her dagger high.
    “Atta girl. Now, dagger users prize speed and acrobatics above all. To really use the weapon we have to be able to move, get in, and get out in one piece. Not much range to the weapon really. The order you use your skills in could mean life and death, so remember what they do okay?” She nodded. “Alright so first of all we've got Dancing Dagger. You don't need me to explain how to use SP so it's all a matter of getting the technique down. You remember the upward slash right? It's a lot like that. At the same time you need to use your SP and slide back, but keep in mind how quick you move your weapon. You should reach the end of your swing by the time you stop.” He readied his weapon and with a single swing, slid back, a flash of silver followed in his wake as he came to a halt and took a battle stance almost immediately after. “Our skills are really quick, so you've gotta make the most of it if you know how.” She began practicing the skill, and though she felt that she had the right idea it seemed to lack the flair and speed that the geezer had when he did it. She tried, time and again but was always a bit off. Sometimes she was too slow, other times she'd trip up the slide or stumble over her own feet. “You'll get there, don't worry.” She pursed her lips but persisted unfazed.
    “Hey check it out geezer I think I've got it!” She performed the ability for him and he nodded sagely.
    “Good. Keep on practicing that later. You've got the right idea, just need to hone your speed. For the time being let's do the next and final one okay? Illusion Dagger is a bit tougher. It's two strikes, but you have to move even faster than before. For one thing, you need to be able to perform a backflip. With your acrobatic ability I don't doubt that you could do it. The idea is to get a slice in while you're doing that, hit the ground and stab! I'll show you.” He flipped while swinging his weapon and landed in a crouching position, transitioning into a sliding stab almost immediately after. She watched without blinking. “Alright, your turn.”

    It was late November and the two remained perched atop the snow coated flowerbed Su claimed her own.
    “You've learned the dagger skills I have to teach you, along with a lot of the holds and grapples I'd learned along the way. In less than half the time at that.” Samson said with a grin. “I'm pretty impressed.”
    Hearing him say that he was impressed was nice. She worked really hard to learn all of those moves and skills quickly. “I'm a natural.” Su beamed in turn.
    He chuckled. “There isn't too much you're not good at huh?”
    “Not a one!”
    He smiled. “Talk about an invincible little girl. So, which weapon would you say you like the most?”
    “Daggers of course! I can do cool skills and still do magic. The Agasuras won't be able to touch me!” Staves and wands didn't let her move around as much as she liked and they didn't have the same punch that daggers did.
    “Though you know, if you plan on using daggers you'll really need to practice your spellwork. It'll be a lot harder without a staff. You sure you're ready for that challenge?”
    She furrowed her brows. “I was born ready.”
    He laughed. “You've got spirit! Maybe when you're older you can join me on my adventure. That is, if you think you can handle it.”
    If she was older he could join her on her adventure. “Born. Ready.”
    “Yeah yeah, you better make me proud out there. You got trained by the best so I expect the best!”
    “You mean second best.”
    He knit his eyebrows. “Second best? So who's the first?” She pointed to herself and he snickered. “And what makes you say that?”
    “I beat you.”
    His eyes opened wide for a moment. “Fair point.” He looked up to the sky and watched as the sun began to settle over the horizon. “It'd probably be for the best if we started heading back soon kid. Beatrice's been looking awfully angry lately because we're always cutting it close for dinnertime.” He grinned. “Can't blame her for that though.” As he began to walk away she grabbed the sleeve of his coat and muttered something under her breath. “Huh? What was that?”
    “Not yet...I...wanna talk...”
    He stopped before offering her a blank gaze that slowly softened. He smiled slightly. “Sure. What's on your mind?”
    She fidgeted for a couple of moments. He had said to consult her about her strange dreams, though he was kinda specific about them, there were others that he had seen and felt that he should know. Maybe it'd help him. “Have you ever seen a dream that kept coming back?”
    He looked at her curiously. “A reoccurring dream? Oh yeah, of course.”
    “You too?”
    He nodded. “It's always something silly you know. The bad ones never last too long though. Did you have a nightmare or something?” She shook her head. “Well, if it's something you've seen a few times it's probably something you think about a lot. Do you remember what you saw in your dreams? Were they of the geezer you mentioned before?”
    She shook her head. “There are people...two of them.” She pursed her lips and thought hard. She couldn't remember much about it, but even so somehow she felt like the geezer she saw in that dream was still the same as the one who taught her in her other dreams. Explaining it was even harder. “When they see me they wave and...I feel like they're calling me...but I can't hear them! And when I go to them they start moving away...and even if I chase them I can't reach them or call them and then I wake up. But every time I see that dream it starts to hurt right here.” She placed her hands to her chest and closed her eyes. The only sound she heard was the sound of her own heart beating. “I feel better when I see them but when they go away again the pain comes back. I try not to remember so it stops hurting but I can't...”
    She looked up to him and he looked down at her solemnly for a couple moments. “Thats...” He paused, “That's love kid. Somewhere out there, I think there's someone who's just dying to meet you. Be patient, and until then work really, really hard. I think when the time is right you'll meet that person, and your dream will finally be complete. Don't force yourself to forget it. Embrace it, let it be your strength and carry on. Sooner or later it'll definitely lead you to your answer.”
    Her eyes twinkled. “You think so?”
    He smiled. “I know so.” He ruffled her hair gently. “Don't you lose your confidence kid. You'll get where you wanna be someday.”
    She beamed. “Thanks geezer.”

    Though everyone should've asleep, Su couldn't help but feel that someone was out and about though it was so late. The sound of footsteps in the night woke her up, but it was so sudden she couldn't bring herself to get up and investigate just who it was. As she pushed herself out of the bed the sound of the front door shutting after the person exited caught her attention. She crept to her own room's door and opened it carefully and quietly before making her way through the house and into the hallway. Whoever it was that came through likely went to the kitchen first, because the hallway wasn't all that long. She took a peek inside and glanced around the room, catching a glimpse of a note that rested on the table. It said:
    To everyone:
    I just wanted to take a second to thank you for all your hospitality. My time in Hanamah was really enjoyable, and I'm glad that I was able to spend it with you all after you discovered me. I know our time was short, and that my leaving is rather sudden but it won't be permanent. There's somewhere that I need to be, and someone who may need my help more than I know. I guess I just want to find a way to keep the peace in some way or another. Still, thanks, and I hope we meet again in the near future.
    Best wishes! -Samson

    She blinked. A letter from the geezer? It said he'd be leaving the village but where was he going, and why now? It didn't explain anything! Taking her coat and hopping into her boots She carefully exited the house as quickly and quietly as she could and ran over to Bane.
    “Psst Bane!” She whispered to the wolf who immediately rose to his feet and acknowledged her. “The geezer just came by here right? Do you know where he is?” The wolf nodded and turned his head in the direction of where Samson had went. “Okay let's go. Lead the way.”
    With Bane leading the charge the two ran with all that the energy they could muster after the missing adventurer. Su wouldn't let him leave just like that. She had to find him before he left the forest's barrier. The way was long and the hills steep, which became much harder to climb because of all the snow and ice but the two made good progress and according to Bane, they were getting awfully close. If the landscape that they followed was any indication of where the geezer was at the time, he had likely gone to her special place, and would make his way out from there.
    Su finally climbed to the top and gazed out upon the landing, and just as Bane had said Samson sat in the snow with his bag by his side and a dumbfounded look on his face. Bane jumped down from her back and the two approached him.
    “Huh? Kid?” He asked rising to his feet and looking her over. “What are you doing here? And dressed like that? You should be in bed!”
    She might've been in her bunny pajamas but there was a much bigger problem here than that. “I found your note.” She said holding it out to him. “What're you leaving for? Don't you like it here?”
    He chuckled and sighed gently. “I do. I really do like it here, and I wish I could stay but I can't. There's still quite a few things that I need to do, and though I love Hanamah it can't be done so long as I'm here.”
    “Can't that stuff wait just a little longer?” She furrowed her brows. “There's still a bunch of cool stow that I have to show you.”
    He knit his eyebrows and smiled wryly, but offered her a caring gaze. “It won't be forever you know. I'll be back someday. I just have to kick some Agasura butt and go on some cool adventures. After that I'll return with all sorts of great stories and treasures to share with you.”
    Her expression soured in spite of his words. “But you only stayed a little while! When's someday anyway?!”
    The geezer knelt down in front of her and placed his hands on her shoulders before smiling. She clenched her fists and trembled but retained the sullen expression. “Sometimes an adult's gotta do what an adult's gotta do kid. At times we have to go away for a while for...adult reasons, but like I said before I'll be back. Even though I'm gone, while I'm gone, I want you to work even harder to make your dreams come true. I know you already do, so don't push yourself too hard.” He smiled wryly. “Then again, you kids have an endless supply of energy. Just don't go destroying the forest next time okay? Practice those dagger skills while you're at it.”
    “...Okay.” She muttered.
    “Listen to your mom and dad, and try not to fight with the boys will you? That goes double for Amata. You two are seriously gonna get hurt if you start fighting again.” He sighed, but smiled. “You're all good kids, no matter how bad you might act. So try and get along with them. If you tried you could easily fit right in, I'm sure of that. Building a good relationship with people is the first step to getting requests for quests and such, you know.” She nodded solemnly. “I know the other kids and adults might say bad things about you, but regardless, you should never be afraid to be who you are. You're a wonderful and talented girl in both magic, and a startling amount of other things.” He smiled. “You've got quite a few unique talents you know, and with all that knowledge you can teach the others a few things.” He flicked her forehead and she pursed her lips while glaring at him. “It never hurts to have a bit of pride you know, because if it's you I think you could match the bark with the bite.”
    He really did worry too much. She grinned. “Mm hmm.”
    “Lastly...” He rose to his feet and looked out upon the world before them. “Be strong for your family. You've all had quite the rough patch but you're the light in their lives. They really do care about you, and they love you dearly so you be good to them okay? Without you, their lives wouldn't be the same.”
    She placed her hands behind her back. “I know, I know. But you better come back in one piece or I'll have to kick your butt again geezer.”
    “Roger that.” He saluted her and she smiled.
    “And...you better bring back some cool stuff too! A lot of treasure! And new stuff to teach me and to kick your butt with.”
    He smiled wryly and rubbed the back of his neck. “Alright, alright, enough with the butt kicking kid. There's only so much one man's pride can take.”
    She stepped a bit closer and took his hand, squeezing gently. “Okay...” She furrowed her brows in search of the words she wanted. Though she wanted him to stay the words were just not coming to her-maybe what he said was right. Maybe if she was a bit older and understood what kind of adult stuff he talked about she could convince him not to go, but she didn't know about those things yet. “You...you better come back safely okay?” She looked to him and he smiled at her, then she gestured for him to come closer. He raised an eyebrow but gave in, kneeling down and tilting his head for her to whisper to him. In place of that she stretched her arms out and gently embraced him. “I'll be waiting...uncle Sam.”
    His shoulders trembled at his words and the sound of him softly crying was followed by him gently hugging her in return. “You take care of yourself too kid. I'll be pretty disappointed if you can't beat a geezer like me when I come back.”
    She pulled away slightly to look him in the face and frown with a flustered expression. “'s not kid...it's su...” He gave her a startled glance and she tried again, her face growing a deeper shade of red. “...Suuba.” Su muttered.
    The geezer beamed. “Suuba huh? I've waited nearly a whole year to hear your name you know.” He let go of her and rose to his feet, then went to reclaim his bag. “Here, I've got something for you. Close your eyes and hold out your hands.” She gave him a puzzled expression but decided to do as he asked. He placed two things in her hands, one felt really cold and the other kinda leathery.
    Su opened her eyes and saw that in her hands were Samson's dagger in its sheath, and a tiny multi-coloured stone. She gazed at the grey-hilted dagger in its sheath and noticed upon the leather it said, 'Good luck, Speedster Sam'. She held the stone up to the moonlight, looking through it and the shine it presented in awe. “Y-you're giving these to me?” Her eyes twinkled, but her voice held a hint of her guilt.
    He nodded and smiled. “Yeah. They're yours now kiddo. My favourite dagger and the Mino Gemstone.”
    “What's a Mino Gemstone?”
    He rubbed his chin thoughtfully as he thought of an answer to the question. “It's...a symbol of fate. A fate that I once thought belonged solely to me, but one that we now share.” He shook his head. “No, one that you and I have always shared. If you pursue your destiny, it'll find you.”
    Su pursed her lips. She didn't really understand what he meant by that, but it was probably just another weird adult thing. “You're weird geezer.”
    He laughed heartily. “What can I say? It's a guilty pleasure.”
    She looked at the items she had received from him and knit her eyebrows. She reached out to her ear and removed her earring before holding it out to him. “Here geezer. I want you to have it.”
    He looked rather surprised. “Huh? Isn't that earring special to you though? You did say Bane said to keep it safe.”
    Su frowned. “Bane said it's okay to give it to you, and I want you to have it! If you don't want it than give it back to me when you come back. But you have to promise me!”
    The geezer looked a little reluctant at first, but after a while decided to accept it. “Alright then. It's a promise.” He stretched and raised a hand to his forehead as he scouted out the forest. “That promise aside, will you do me a favour Suuba?”
    She raised an eyebrow. “What?”
    “I...” He chuckled. “I always wanted to try that leaf spell that you used. You know, the one that you drift down with? I have to admit, it looked pretty fun.”
    She beamed at his words. He always talked about being an adult but sometimes he acted like a kid too. “I can do it for you.”
    “You can be a sweetheart if you really want to be.” She glared at him for the remark and he laughed. She snapped her fingers and a small leaf appeared before her. She clapped her hands and it grew in size, somewhat bigger than the one she had used prior. She was way smaller than him so it might not have been enough to hold him.
    “Here geezer.” She handed it to him and he held the stem and tip above his head after offering his thanks. She glanced at him, then her shoes, and him once more before muttering, “B-be careful...on your way down.”
    “Will do!” He took a few steps forward and sighed quietly. “Well, this is it kiddo. It's gonna be a while before I can see you again, so when I come back you better make me proud.”
    “I'll be good enough to be your teacher when you come back! Geezer!”
    He couldn't help but laugh at her words. “Once a geezer always a geezer huh? Alright come here. Gimme one more hug before I leave.” He let go of the leaf and gave her a one-armed hug. She buried her face in his coat and silently cried, but the way he stroked her hair likely meant that he could tell anyway. “Hey, Suuba...here's something I want you to remember. Though it might feel like I'm worlds away, remember tonight. Remember the sky that we're looking at now, and all the stars that inhabit it. Every one of them is like a fragment of a shattered sky with its own story to tell, and there will always be nights where we can't see those skies. Can you tell me what that means?” Was he telling her another fable? Or was it just an adult thing? She didn't know, so she silently shook her head, her face still buried in his coat. He chuckled gently. “It means that we just have to wait for another night. The clouds will pass and the stars will be gathered in the sky again. To put it another way, sometimes we'll be apart, but sooner or later we'll come together again. It's just who we are, and because it's who we are...because we're all in this together we form a single whole. One story. And your story? It's just beginning. I look forward to hearing about it when you become the Mage that I know you'll be.” She let him go and he offered her a somber smile. “It's about time. We'll meet again, alright?” He turned to the ledge and took a deep breath before dashing towards it and leaping from where they stood. He took hold of the edge of the leaf and began to drift down towards the forest, and that which waited beyond the barrier. “Until we meet again!” He shouted as his profile drifted away.
    She clasped her first to her chest as tears streamed down her face once more. She tried to fight them back but they just kept rolling down her cheeks. “You better come back soon! And you better not keep me waiting! Stupid geezer!” She collapsed to her knees and began to wipe away the tears with her sleeves before Bane walked over and gently licked her face. She held him close, her face buried in his neck as he silently sat next to her and she cried into his fur. “I'll be waiting...so you better keep your promise...”

    USSR End Rant:
    It might just be laziness or the fact that things are a little similar to the original, butt I've just got a bit to say about it this time around. Or so I tell myself now.
    So let's get into it! I worked to keep the events consistent, and Samson's deductions of them also. Just in case, never forget that the story is told from the perspective of the characters! What they think could be wrong, so take what you know and what they say and apply it there. Their words and thoughts can be taken with a grain of salt. If anything, the main story will clear up any misunderstandings, since that's...you know lol. But anyway, I tried to give Amata a bit more of a looksee so she didn't feel so...lackluster. I felt that when I wrote her initially, but also feared her arrival would be shoehorned. Either that, or that she would come off as a clear-cut villain. I tried to strike a balance somewhere between being a rash youth and a struggling God's Governor, and doing things through Samson's perspective made it a lot easier! She's a good kid. Just rough around the edges.

    Following that, it follows the original a lot more closely, finally. I took the old scenes, but rather than just throwing a new paint of coat on it I decided to add a bit more detail and put things into Kasumi's perspective instead of Samson's this time around. Now, some of her spells have actions that proceed them-essentially the reason for this was similar to the use of incantations. The actions accompany the words and prepare the spell. Those that don't require them come out immediately, as you can see in the previous fights and throughout the battle between Samson and Su. Though truth be told, there are usually specific actions for the spells, she always was the type who did things her way so that's displayed here. I tried fixing up some of the dialogue and the way that the events played out too. For the most part I think it turned out well, but should there be any kinks I'll go through it and iron them out for the good copy. Hard to believe this is just the rough, but it's officially finished! Kinda.

    The scene between Grant and Samson was one of the more difficult ones. The first time I had written it, I'd done it in such a way that it filled in the missing holes about Kasumi and a bit of lore to boot. Since most of the questions were answered already, I had to change a lot of the dialogue to remedy that problem, while also keeping in mind that the characters' personalities got a bit of an upgrade from the original. It took a while, but it came out pretty good! If I do say so myself.
    Also you know, when I first wrote it I had actually hinted at the existence of Reina, but I completely forgot that I did that! Even I'm kinda surprised I'd been planning it since 2012 but the proof was in the pudding lol. For a while I thought she was just an extra I threw in after I started the oneshot.

    The final scene too, was from Kasumi's perspective this time around. It was more difficult, but since things have changed from the original and don't switch on the fly I really wanted to keep the last paragraph as is. Though it was just one extra line or so, I felt that it was an important part of her character, and probably the best way to end off the story. I fixed up a lot of the dialogue here too and added a couple new portions to it, along with some finer details along the way for later. Though in truth, I think the scene works much better from her perspective. I was a little disappointed that I couldn't add Sam's thoughts on the part where she finally gave her name, but like the saying goes 'show don't tell'. Maybe his expression didn't say enough, but the readers wouldn't likely have much trouble putting two and two together.
    Truth be told though, I think one of the parts I might have a bit of a problem with is this scene, because it feels like something is missing, or perhaps there's too much going on. The expressions of the characters change a lot more than they would in most scenes. This is both a boon and a bane to me. It allows the characters to show the range of emotions that they go through in those moments, but something in me feels as if its poor writing. Perhaps I should've given them more actions in place of it, but I found myself asking 'what would they do? How could their actions speak for their words'? In that, I'm conflicted, but I don't think there was a right answer to the question. Too much action would make the scene feel cluttered, like they're just doing calisthenics for shits and giggles, pardon my french. Too little would never really express how they felt at the time though, and it'd just feel like they're stone-faced throughout the entirety of a very important event.
    Still, this is the end result and perhaps after finishing the epilogue I'll come back with a new take on the scene and spruce it up a bit, but for now I'll keep it as is. I tried mixing the two up a bit, and I feel that both of them are stronger for it in all of their weakness.
    I'm proud of those dorks.

    Epilogue Spoilers? Probs:
    I'll just say a bit about this since I'll be working on it throughout the week, but I wanted to give you a heads-up first. So basically, you probably already figures this but the epilogue will be following Samson after he leaves Hanamah and goes back to Elias, so he could join Reina and her raid crew. What's the problem with this?
    It's end game Innocent. In a nutshell. The end of USSR takes place close to the end of Innocent, since Samson's story crosses the gap between the fall of Xenym, Reina's journey across Jienda and Su's growth. As you'd expect, there's gonna be some spoilers for Innocent, cause Reina and co. are kinda there. You know, doing things. As I write it I'll try to keep the spoilers of the events of Innocent to a minimum, but the events that follow will be spoilers in themselves. Wanna hear me say spoilers again?
    Though in spite of it, I won't go too deep into Reina's side of the story. The team will be there, but Reina and Samson will have different missions within the same place, so it'll follow Samson and his side of the story in Dark Moon Castle, while Reina's will follow hers and Salem's. You'll find out why later, but this is the writing side of things.

    Why do I do this? I guess I'm in the faction that can withstand spoilers, somewhat. Won't say I like it, but sometimes hearing things that happen later can act as a hook. Hence why I gave Sanc the beginning that it has now. Of course there's a difference between straight up throwing around spoilers and the creators using it as a tactic. Strange as it may be, in the right hands it can be very effective! Did I do it well? I hope so lol. Can only say for sure once it gets to that point, probably. But anyway, the reason for the epilogue is mainly to tell what happens on Samson's end since Innocent won't cover that, like how USSR didn't cover the events of her story.

    Now this isn't a spoiler but it's something on my side. You heard me say it before, but I'll say it once more just in case. In truth, I can't say for sure that I could write Innocent, let alone the characters that are involved with it as well as I once used to. I lost that part of me, and just the thought of trying to write Reina makes me uneasy. Even moreso, I don't know if I still have the talent to write anymore than I have. My edge dulled long ago, but even so I'm still going forward with some goal in mind. As impossible as it might be, if it was even a little bit true I feel that it's something I have to do. Regardless, I'm gonna give it my all, for better or worse. It'll be rough, moreso than the entirety of the rough draft, and it might require some edits before and after I start the good copy, but I'll do what I can to the best of my ability so bear with me here.
    I might experiment a bit too so...keep in mind that nothing is final. I hope. Well, welcome to my nightmare! We're in it for the long haul! And by the long haul I mean the short haul. It won't be long, I hope.
    Anyway that's all for now, so until next time, look forward to it!

    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Fri Nov 28, 2014 4:55 pm

    Pages 131-139:
    Epilogue
    As Samson walked through the snowy streets of Elias he watched as the day winded down. Though early, night had come and most vendors had packed up their shops for the night. He glanced around the street and saw the familiar bustle of adventurers and citizens flitting about looking for shelter for the night or heading home after work and sighed gently. It had certainly been some time since he last saw the sight, and it felt like it had been eons since he had last gone on an adventure. On the other hand, the time he had spent in Hanamah felt like an adventure in and of itself. He had only been away a couple of days and he already began to miss the smiling face of his niece, but in that moment he steeled his resolve at the fact that he decided on this path to protect her-to give her and all the other warriors and those to-be a future.
    The city flights flickered on as the snow crunched beneath his boots and he made a steady beeline for the Old Town District. Though parting with Kasumi was hard, it would be for the best, and after all there was someone who needed him in her battle. It would only be a brief while until the two would meet again. As he neared the district the faint sound of music caught his attention, and he noticed the sound grew louder as he approached. When he finally turned into the district he caught a glimpse of Madelaine's Tea Stop lit up brightly with Christmas Decorations, and the sound of music coming from within. If he had to take one guess, it would be none other than the barista himself who hosted such a thing, and he could not help but feel an oncoming sense of caution at what waited within.
    He passed the fountain and uneasily approached the shop, placing a single hand to the doorknob. As he tilted it and gently pulled he noticed the door opened, and chuckled under his breath. Vanir may have put up the 'closed' sign but with all the noise he and the kids made, and the door being open still he might find visitors. That matter aside, it was likely long past due that he stop thinking of Reina as a young girl. He knew that she was an adult already, and it was about time that he saw for himself how much her growth had changed her, along with a helping hand from her mentor. He opened the door and stepped inside as he prepared to greet them all, and came across Vanir and Salem dancing on the counter while Skuld and Reina sat before them and cheered or whistled.
    “W-what's this?” Samson asked with a look of disbelief. A small green crystal sat between the two, levitating on the spot and turning slowly, but also seemingly the source of the music. Upon the counter were cups, bottles of alcohol, and the members of the shop itself.
    “Welcome to the party!” Vanir shouted. He was intoxicated, without a doubt. Or close to, going by the sound of his voice and the slight slur at the end of his words. “Shake it like you mean it Salem!” The barista seemed to be rather less dressed than he normally would be, only wearing his white dress shirt, black pants, hat and gloves. Seeing him without his vest or coat was a tad unusual to the adventurer.
    “Mr. Kolb!” Reina said with a wave. “It's good to see you!” She too had a drink before her, but he could not tell whether or not she was anywhere near as drunk as the other two. Either she masked it really well, or had not gone as overboard. The young lady wore a navy blue ruffled-front blouse, black leggings and gold slip-ons. “Come and join us.”
    “Sure.” He entered the shop and took a seat at the counter where Vanir stood before him. “What's the occasion, if you don't mind me asking?”
    Vanir gazed down on him with a grin and leapt down from the counter to the kitchen side. “So you finally decided to show up eh? It's about time! And here I thought you'd get mauled in the forest or something.”
    “You don't have a very high opinion of me, do you?” He smiled wryly at the remark.
    “You kidding? Only the best here.” It was unlike the barista to grin so much, and so frequently from Samson's previous experiences, but seeing him in such a state was a rarity-the two likely went hand in hand. That matter aside, his question remained unanswered. “Now that you're here, we can really get this party started! Take five Salem.” The young man did not seem the type to join Vanir in his unusual antics, but he had to admit the barista had a strange inexplicable charisma to his character, and in that he could bring people together. It was something he noticed in Reina also, and likely why she could talk him into teaching her. Vanir disappeared into the kitchen while Skuld followed shortly after, and returned with a cup of water for Salem.
    “Thank you Skuld.” Salem said before taking a drink and exhaling deeply. “I-I'm sorry you had to see that Mr. Kolb. We were playing a game...called truth or dare.” The young man wore a black sweater with a small group of buildings featured on the front, behind text that read 'Elias'. He wore grey jeans and silver sneakers.
    He laughed gently at his words. What an unusual thing for a group of adults to do, but perhaps in that disparity is where some of the game's fun lay. “I can hazard a guess who dared you.”
    Reina whistled gently before Samson laughed again. “G-guilty,” She muttered gently.
    The barista returned with five coffee stirrers and took his place amidst the four at the counter. “So who knows how to play the king's game?” The four looked at each other with confused looks and the barista sighed. “You people...gods! Get cultured will you?!”
    “What culture plays this game?” Reina asked as she tilted her head.
    “Uhh-” Vanir found himself at a loss, oddly enough. “I decree it irrelevant! Now, on with the rules, off with their heads!”
    “Has the game started already?” Salem asked as he knit his eyebrows.
    “No! No it hasn't! Now shut your holes and listen up so I can give you the rules.” Samson chuckled at their short bout. The three had grown close over the years, and it really was a nice sight. “Here we go! Basically all of you will draw a stick. One of them will have a crown, and the rest are numbers. Whoever gets the crown becomes the king, and the king gets to order the others around! One time! You pick two numbers and tell 'em what to do. Just make sure to keep your numbers secret. Easy right? Easy. Now, get to it!” He grinned devilishly. “Ah, just for kicks, let's spice it up shall we? Whichever numbers get picked take a drink.”
    “I'll be the first to go.” Salem cautiously reached out and took a stick.
    “Let's do it!” Reina said excitedly before taking one also.
    Samson knit his eyebrows thoughtfully for a couple of moments, but shook it off and smiled lightly. In Reina's mails she often mentioned her plans for war and her recent endeavours in accomplishing her goals, and upon returning he expected such things to be the focal point of their time together. Perhaps Vanir too, also understood that the two need not rush to reach their destination. Though the matter was urgent, much more could be lost in the process should they not address the matter carefully. Something Alvaro, Amata, and many others in Hanamah knew also, and also an important fact that Samson came to learn during his time traversing Jienda.
    He and Skuld reached out to take two of the last three sticks and Vanir nodded. “Ha! Looks like I'm the king this round? Now then what should I decree?” He seemed to be having fun and the game had just started. As he poured the adventurer a drink he grinned impishly. “Number four will sit in number two's lap! Who's our lucky winner?” The adventurer looked down at his stick and saw the number two.
    He turned his head and caught a glimpse as Salem whispered to Reina that she was number three, while the Brownie next to him began to sweat profusely before her hand was raised. “I'm...number two.” Samson said awkwardly.
    Almost instantly Vanir's expression soured, as his mouth curled into a sneer. “Tch.” Samson blinked slowly. This was not his intention, and he thought about protesting it just to appease the barista, but for the sake of the game he decided to accept the terms. Skuld awkwardly took her drink and jumped down from her seat, then walked over and climbed into his lap. Reina whistled and the Brownie's face flushed while Samson took a drink-a slight citrus scent welcomed him. “Next round!”
    The lots were drawn and Salem glanced at Reina's stick. “Looks like you're the king,” He said.
    She chuckled evilly. “Now the world is my oyster! I decree that number one will hug number three!” Samson chuckled gently at her request-the evil laugh was rather misleading, for such an innocent decree. “From behind!” He took back his thought immediately. He glanced at his number and saw a two. He was safe this time.
    “Alright, so who's gonna be getting one from me? Enjoy it while it lasts.” Vanir huffed after he took a drink and eyed the four. Since the second decree was made Skuld had returned to her seat and raised her hand. The barista cracked a small grin. “Well, you're certainly getting pampered today huh? Lucky you.” He crossed the counter and knelt down to embrace her, the Brownie beamed.
    “Now I kinda want one too...” Reina muttered.
    “Maybe you can request it the next time you're the king?” Samson suggested with a laugh.
    “Alright service time is over. Time to get serious!” Vanir said as he rounded up the sticks. Would getting serious really affect his luck? The adventurer knew the answer to the question, but it was hard not to be amused at how fired up the barista was about the game.
    The players drew their lots and cautiously gazed at their numbers. “So who's the king this time?” Reina asked.
    Skuld raised her hand. “So you're next huh? You know what to do.” She reached into her dress' pocket and drew a notepad and a pencil, and immediately began scribbling her decree. When she was finished she held it out for Vanir to read aloud and he quickly scanned the paper. Though Samson could not read the words with the short glimpse he had of it, it was very neatly written. “Oho! Now that's my girl! Skuld says that number three and four will kiss!” She looked rather startled at the realization and gestured for him to hand it back. “Come now, you can't change it now.”
    “Let her do it Vanir. Don't be so stingy!” Reina suggested with a grin.
    He furrowed his brows but decided on something. “As long as the core remains the same, she can tamper it a bit.” He handed it back and she quickly scribbled a bit more on the paper before handing it back. “On the cheek.” He flipped the front of the notebook back and handed it to his waitress. “So, who's it gonna be?”
    Salem shook his head. “It seems we're safe this round.”
    The barista's eyes darted towards the adventurer and the two had a moment of staring each other down awkwardly.
    Vanir let out an exasperated sigh and took a drink. “Well then. Pound it back and lay one on me Samson. The sooner you get it over with the better for both of us.”
    Samson swallowed the request hard. He knew he was selected the moment the request was read out, and though he had said otherwise earlier, even he was willingly to break the rules over this request. To his surprise and dismay, Vanir was awfully accepting of this fact. “Y-you're awfully complacent with this, don't you think?” He asked, partially to stall and with the slight hope that Vanir would back out.
    He frowned at the question. “Did you expect me to do a spit-take over that? I've seen hells hundreds of times worse than a kiss on the cheek from another man.” He leaned on the counter, his gaze suddenly piercing. “So? Not attractive enough for you? Savour the moment, it'll last longer.”
    Samson frowned. Somehow the barista provoking him allowed him to look past the matter. “Have it your way.” He rose to his feet and leaned in as the other three looked on in awe.
    “I...don't think I can watch.” Salem muttered as he turned his head away.
    “One of us has to! Tell me all about it after!” Reina said with a laugh.
    Skuld covered her eyes with her hands but peeked through her fingers, her face flushed. Samson closed his eyes moments before making contact, and felt the rim of Vanir's hat touch his head as his lips touched the barista's cheek. He quickly pulled away and frowned at the grin from across the counter.
    “Don't fall for me now,” Vanir sneered.
    “I...wouldn't count on that,” Samson added quickly.
    Reina sighed. “I wish I had a camera ready. That would've been a great picture for the album.”
    “There are some things that are better off forgotten Reina. I think you can add that to the list.”
    She grinned. “Don't you worry Mr. Kol-” She shook her head. “Samson.” Her cheeks flushed and she smiled. “I've got it all right here.” She tapped her head.
    He smiled back at her. “There are ways we can get that out of you, you know.”
    “Enough flirting!” Vanir hissed. “Round four! Right here, right now, we're doing this live! Pick a stick and pray!”
    Samson chuckled. “Okay, okay.” He reached out and took a stick.

    After twelve more rounds Reina lay against one of her arms, fast asleep on the counter. Salem lay face down between both of his, and Skuld was in a tired daze, waking and dozing off in her seat.
    “Looks like these guys are at their limit. Too bad. Looks like the game's over Samson.” Vanir said as he walked over to Skuld and picked her up.
    Samson blinked. “Looks like they haven't really developed a taste for alcohol yet. It was short, but certainly enjoyable,” He said.
    The barista smiled impishly. “I can hazard a guess why!” Samson grimaced in anticipation of what he was going to say. “You're dying for another hug from the kid aren't you? You lucky dog!” He took one of Salem's arms over his shoulder and helped him onto his feet. “Hey, wake up kid. I'm not gonna haul your ass to bed you know. I'm not your old man.”
    “I'm a-awake...” Salem muttered as he opened his eyes, the exhaustion apparent in both them and his voice.
    “Be a dear and carry the other kid to bed will you? Just throw her on Skuld's. The two sleep together all the time anyway. She won't mind any.”
    As Vanir ascended the stairs with Salem over his shoulders and Skuld resting in his free hand, Samson turned his eyes to the sleeping Reina. Would it be strange for him to feel a bit of joy at having a chance to hug her? It had been nearly a year since he last saw her, and prior to that a full ten years or so, according to Vanir. Perhaps it was the alcohol in her system but the hug lasted longer than he would have expected it to-either that, or it was the barista hurrying the two that made it feel that way. He looked down at her sleeping peacefully and felt rather guilty for having to wake her to get her to bed, but knew it was for the best.
    “Reina, you should wake up. I'll help you get to bed.” He said gently tapping her on the shoulder.
    She waved him off and whispered, “Shh...I'm sleeping.”
    He snickered at her words. This too, was a side of her he had not seen. Though he did not feel the same as he had the last time he had seen her about it-he was rather glad. He could not be there when she may have needed him most, and suffered greatly, but the time she had spent in Elias with the three here seemed to have healed those wounds of the past. She had survived both the wars and the invasion, and here she was. The smile she wore now and her courage to face forward were proof of her indomitable spirit. He began to understand Vanir's words-though the timing was rather odd, the matter of the game was small in comparison to everything they had all been through. Perhaps it was time he worry less about small details, and look forward with the same conviction that Reina had shown all throughout his time away. To begin with, he could start with getting Reina into a bed.
    “Excuse me.” He muttered as he lifted her legs and supported her back before carrying her up the stairs. Though the hallway was dark, the moonlight coming in from the windows guided his way down the corridor until he reached the final room. A colourful name plate with a fairy design and Skuld's name in cursive writing hung on the door, and luckily for Samson it was still open. He turned around and pushed it open as he cautiously entered the room, seeing a bed big enough for one resting beside a window. He removed the neatly folded sheets and carefully placed Reina down on the bed before walking out of the room and stealing a glance before shutting the door. He let out a gentle chuckle as he did. He wondered how a girl so light could carry such a heavy burden on her shoulders.
    He descended the stairs and found Vanir sitting alone at the counter solemnly having a drink.
    “Not fazed at all by anything huh?” He snorted. “Looks like you were the right choice after all.” He rose from his chair and stretched before letting out a satisfied groan. “Well then, since you've come all this way, why don't you join me for a little chat?” He smiled devilishly. “You and I have got some catching up to do.”

    Oddly enough, Vanir lead Samson up the stairs to the end of the corridor and reached out to a string hanging from the roof. He pulled it down and a series of steps followed in its wake, leading up to another section of the shop.
    “This...is certainly new.” Samson said with a hint of awe in his voice.
    “This place has been here for ages.” Vanir muttered before making his way up the steps. “And I'm not just talking about the shop. Used to be a lot of junk in here before Skuld and I cleaned it up. It's hers now.”
    The adventurer followed shortly after and glimpsed around the room as his eyes settled in to the mixture of darkness and moonlight once more-after a few moments he began to see what the barista had meant when he said it belonged to Skuld. The entire attic was filled with canvases and paintings, from where they entered to the only window at the far end. Though he did not have an eye for art, even he knew that Skuld had a talent, and in this a series of questions arose that Vanir may have the answer to. It seemed that the Brownie was just as mysterious as the barista that raised her.
    “So Skuld painted all of these?” Samson asked as he followed Vanir further in towards the window.
    “Yup. Every last one.” He grinned impishly. “You think I could paint like that? I'll be damned if I could! I'd quit my job as a barista and go make my living as an artist! But a man like me could only make a good ol' cuppa joe.” He approached the window and turned a latch, before pushing them open and stepping out on to the veranda.
    “And she doesn't want to pursue a career?” After putting out the question Samson could not help but question it himself. What would people think if they saw such a sight? The fact that she was a waitress was surreal in itself, leaving aside all of the other things she could do. The matter aside, all of the things she drew seemed to have a fairy motif-he was not unfamiliar with the creatures, but he had never seen one for himself. He recalled various books of races that existed on the other worlds including Humans, one of the few he had seen.
    “Nope. She likes it here, and to her those paintings are priceless.” He sighed gently as he began to climb up onto the roof. “The motif of what exists within her memories would likely only carry a career so far. After that?” He sat down on the tiles and laughed gently. “Well, every star's gotta explode sometime.” A rather morbid analogy, in terms of careers at least. It raised the possibility that the two had seen the creatures before-or at the very least, Skuld had a certain fondness for them since she was young. “So? How was your journey?”
    Before he knew it he too was on the roof and looking down upon the district before the two. Casting away his last bits of apprehension he sat down next to the barista and knit his eyebrows as he thought back on his time. “I'd found Kasumi, and a lot more than I would've initially thought.”
    “You found her and she's not here? Come on what're you doin' with yourself?!”
    “She doesn't belong by my side,” He paused for a moment to reorganize his thoughts, “let me correct that. There are people out there who need her more than I do right now, and though she might not know it yet, she likely needs them just as much. There's another girl I know that would really help her grow, both as a person and a God's Governor of Earth.”
    “Sounds like something you'd do.” He sighed and took a drink from a bottle he carried on him. “Have you asked yourself, even one time, what does Samson want?”
    “Of course I have.” He answered defensively, but he felt unsure why.
    “Uh huh. And is this what you wanted?”
    “It was for the be-”
    “Ah ah ah! That right there's your problem!” The barista pointed at him. “Was it really? Was it for the best for you?” Samson blinked. He had no answer to the question. “Figures.” The barista sighed as he took another drink. “You know, I knew someone a lot like you. Always tried too hard. Put someone first. Got themselves killed and then there was one.” Samson's eyes shuttered as he solemnly watched the barista who looked out to the fountain in the heart of the district. “The idiot...” He turned to the adventurer. “Tell me something.”
    Samson snapped out of his reverie. “What is it?”
    “Just how far are you willing to go to succeed in your goals?”
    Samson felt hesitation for a moment, but steeled his resolve and decided on a single concise answer. “I'm willing to do whatever it takes.”
    Vanir huffed. “Gods...you Cerebians are so like-minded. So different yet so similar.” He shook his head. Of all the years Samson knew him, he knew little about Vanir save for the few facts that were known amidst the colony. He was a barista, an information broker, and had an oddly strong intuition. Leaving aside the fact that his character was often unstable, and this lead to him saying a series of unusual, inexplicable things that accompanied the bouts. At times it made Samson unsure of whether he should have pursued certain matters, or cast them aside as nothing more than babble. Now he was talking with the barista after heavily drinking-was anything he had to say credible? “Would you die for it?”
    Samson opened his mouth to speak but hesitated again before he could say no. What an odd question. “Would I die for it? Is that my only option?”
    Vanir rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Well no, but you know it's a possibility.”
    “Well if it can be avoided, I'd do what I could to ensure that I'm not killed in the process.” He answered curtly.
    The barista sighed again. “You certainly know how to make it sound easy.”
    The more that he spoke, the more confused Samson became on the matter. Had Vanir been through a life and death experience? To be so concerned with the matter did not seem like him. On the other hand, with Reina and Salem's journey to Aoich only a matter of days away, perhaps he was showing some semblance of concern for them? A chuckle escaped his lips and Vanir glared at him. “I've been an adventurer for as long as I can remember. The moment I step out of a city my life is already at stake. But now more than ever it seems even the cities could be considered a dangerous place, so I constantly have to be on my guard. I'm sure Reina and Salem understand this matter too, so you don't need to worry so much for their sake.” Though he said that, Samson was rather worried about the two also.
    “Worried? For their sake? Who do you think I am?” The barista retorted. “They'll be fine. I told you already that fate does as it pleases but it can only jerk people around so much. Some things can be changed through trial and error.”
    “That so?” Samson chuckled gently at his words. He was having one of those moments again.
    “Sounds like you don't believe me,” He muttered. “The fact that you're here now speaks for itself. You could've easily been killed during the invasion you know, or even before that.”
    Samson frowned. “It's not something I haven't considered. Rather, I consider myself one of the lucky ones to still be alive after the event. Beatrice, Grant, Reina, myself...and Kasumi. We're the only ones that I know of that had made it through without becoming captives or losing our lives in the fight.”
    “If there was such a thing as luck, things would've been different for many of us. I said it once and I'll say it again. Trial and error. That's not the problem here though-you're still alive.”
    “I am, but I'm not seeing how this is a problem.”
    Vanir crossed his arms. “That's not the problem. The problem is if you go and get yourself killed now. You've come this far for more reasons than one.” The adventurer raised an eyebrow. “You basically said being an adventurer is like inviting death to your doorstep. But have you asked yourself what would happen if you were killed after all you've been through? That kid is really fond of you, you know. Since she saw you that first time since the invasion, she's been even more cheery than usual. You know what it's like to lose someone important to you, and I'm sure as hell that Kasumi does too. She might not understand it yet, whether you told her or not, but she will someday, and when she does it won't be any easier. For you to die now would disrupt the balance of everything else.” He sighed. “Our fates are inextricably linked, like it or not. I'd rather not see the butterfly effect in full force for you guys. What I lost may have left me with little else, but for the rest of the world it made all the difference. Yours won't be so kind.”
    Samson looked at the barista with a newfound curiosity, and oddly enough, he felt that in spite of Vanir's constant denial of caring about anyone around him, there may have been more than he would ever willingly let on. Reina too, had noticed this but Samson had felt he had hidden more than he was willing to show under most circumstances. “You needn't worry Vanir. There's still so much that I have to do, and I promised Kasumi that we would meet again. Until we do, I can't die. After all, she gave me one of her most prized possessions, and I mine.” He rubbed his beard thoughtfully. “Speaking of, I'll need a new weapon before we set out for Dark Moon Castle.” Though he sugarcoated it in his usual strange talk, the true meaning behind the words shone through. In that regard, he was a little like Bane and the others. Overprotective of his kin.
    In spite of Samson's insistence the barista still did not seem convinced, because in response he let out an upset groan. “This is one of those things that's easier said than done, you know.” He huffed quietly. “I don't like it either, but if what's written is that I need to do this, then so be it. Let me help you!” He slammed his hand down on the tiles and startled the adventurer.
    “Help me? How?” The two now sat face-to-face.
    “I...oh to hell with it. I'm actually a clairvoyant. It's no big secret but it's no less true because of it!”
    Samson's thoughts instantly began racing. If what he heard was correct, Vanir had confessed that what he needed to do was written, and that he too, was a clairvoyant. Iris also had the ability of short-term clairvoyance, and through that found herself in Hanamah delivering the Valkyrie Magnums to him. If the two were connected, it had to mean that Vanir had one of the clairvoyant grimoires that Iris and Choen Palm utilized. He took a moment to gather his composure and think rationally. It was possible this was a fact, but he may have been jumping to conclusions-it was better to discuss the matter carefully and find out as much information as he could, without rousing suspicion. Though Vanir was a Confidant, they had their own secrets too, and in spite of what he just said Samson had not known this truth until now. “I believe you, but I need to know, can you tell me how you can glimpse into the future? As far as I know, only a select few Cerebians could do such a thing.”
    He shrugged. “It's pretty self-explanatory isn't it? Something you guys always said, you know, 'the eyes are the key to the soul'.”
    The eyes? If one was to read it, the two were essentially linked but...why use an Asgardian adage to make that point? “Could you explain it any further?”
    Vanir pursed his lips. “If you want me to explain how it works, I can't do that. The only one that could've done that is dead and gone.” He frowned. “I killed them, ate their heart, and gained their powers. I can't really tell you the process anymore than that.”
    The adventurer sighed. He almost made a breakthrough in the scenario and yet he found himself at another wall-one erected by the barista. It came as no surprise to him, but knowing and expecting one did not make it any less frustrating. “Vanir, did you know that you have a very morbid sense of humour?”
    “I did! Thanks for noticing. But that was no joke.” He grinned devilishly and the adventurer looked at him with an exasperated gaze. “Well...mostly. I'd say sixty-six point six percent true.”
    “And the other thirty-three point three percent?”
    “Pure, unbridled and unadulterated genius.”
    Samson closed his eyes. If he had expected to have some success with the barista, he was a fool for thinking so and it was better that he go to see Lucia for such matters. He wondered at what cost, but perhaps it was better he handle the matter himself, and resort to that should the need arise. It was possible but unlikely that Vanir would keep such a simple truth secret after revealing the crux of the matter, but the fact still stood that he had learned something about him. His clairvoyance would lead him closer to the truth, and also give him a lead on where he would go from here forward. He hoped with all his might that it was not just drunken talk, but something in him still sought out answers, and he felt that perhaps Vanir might have an answer to them. “Since you are a clairvoyant, there's something I'd like to know.”
    “My powers are limited. There are very specific things I can see, so don't get your expectations too high. Mine is that with the aim to displease.” He grinned devilishly.
    The adventurer took the comment to heart, but for the sake of the possibility of a truth he would go forward. “Do you know anything about our kind failing in their duty to stop the Agasura?”
    The barista tilted his head slightly. “And you said I had a morbid sense of humour? Gods! Not even I could laugh at that one.”
    “I'm being completely serious Vanir.” He insisted.
    Vanir rubbed his neck uneasily. “As far as I know, nothing like that should happen, unless you guys mess up big time. Did you plan on slaying all your God's Governors or something? Seems pretty hard to screw up on a scale that massive.”
    Samson shook his head in response. “Is that so? Then there's no need to stress the matter. If you don't know anything about it, than it's a baseless fear. Let's leave that matter, shall we? You said you wanted to help me so I'm curious on how you plan to do that.” He snickered. “Or at the very least, what's in store for me.”
    Vanir pursed his lips the moment Samson snickered. “Wouldn't be laughing if you saw what I saw, but that's not important. If I'm gonna do this I've got a few rules.”
    Perhaps that adage had more to it than Samson initially thought. Maybe he was not giving the barista enough credit-on the other hand, the way he felt could change at the drop of a hat in tandem with the attitude of the speaker. “Enlighten me.”
    “The first? No peeking! Second I need you to be facing me. You don't have to look at me-actually I recommend that you don't. Third? No peeking. We clear?”
    Samson stifled a laugh. “Clear as can be.” Vanir was stranger than he could have imagined, but if those were the conditions to get a glimpse into the future, he could bear with them.
    “Good. Remember those.” Following the words he heard the sound of movement and clothes rustling and he felt a bit of curiosity at exactly what the barista had in mind.
    “Can I ask what you're doing?”
    “I'm taking this dang thing off! What do you think I'm doing?! I don't have x-ray vision you know. I might be a clairvoyant but I'm not a mutant.” He hissed. Samson sighed gently. Of course, he was taking off his scarf. Perhaps it had something to do with his clairvoyant ability, and he wore it for that reason. “I'm going to begin now. Better be ready.”
    “I'm ready. You can start whenever.” Samson could feel Vanir's gaze on him, and it made him rather uneasy but it was something he expected, though not being able to look back at him made it a little more strange.
    “Alright, I'm starting.” Samson considered nodding in response this time around, but instead he felt a sudden chill that travelled throughout his entire body in moments. A couple of moments passed, and in them a strange silence and tension lingered in the air-curiosity gripped at him, and his desire to know the truth clawed at his conscious mind, so he decided he would take a brief, momentary glance at the barista to see what had been hidden beneath the scarf. He shifted his eyes to his companion for only a moment, and he saw a very unusual sight-his right eye was a normal emerald green, and something he had glimpsed before though momentarily. The other had no iris, nor a pupil to speak of-in place of both a magic circle was upon the sclera. Little did he know, the worst was yet to come. In the moment that he made the discovery, he found himself unable to look away-it felt as if he was being pulled into it as it gazed upon him, and his conscious mind seemed to slip away from him.

    Where he was, he had no idea, but Samson found himself standing upon a tatami mat with his sword and shield in hand, and an unfamiliar badge with a leaf upon it pinned to his coat. He looked up and saw four others, though only brief glimpses of them as they frantically chased after one target. The first, a young lady wielding a spear, clad in a black dress that featured a wing pattern. She had long icy blue hair tied in a high-ponytail hidden between two wing hairpins. Another girl was adjacent to her, with a similar hair colour tied in twin-tails and wearing a tied sky blue t-shirt with a flower pattern, baby blue pants wide-rimmed pants and matching shoes. The girl looked alike to the one near her, save for their eye colours being blue and red respectively.
    More than the two that caught his attention, it was the others that he had actually recognized. The first, without a doubt had to be Kasumi, but not the one he knew now. It seemed a few years had passed, and she had grown into a young lady that carried many of her mother's features. Clad in a crimson t-shirt, black jeans and a black newsboy cap, it was definitely the girl he knew. What confused him was the ears on her head and the tail that accompanied them, almost seemingly blending in with her hair.
    In the back line stood the Exalted One, but she too much older, wearing a black crop top with a matching coat clinging to her arms, torn maroon pants with a white belt and silver buckle, and short black boots. He also wore a golden locket around his neck, a black collar, black headphones with a skull emblazoned on each side and yellow frameless glasses. The look in her eyes, and every detail save for the hair and clothes were exactly as Samson remember them. Oddly enough, she had a pink ponytail.
    “Incoming!” Kasumi roared as a series of arrows flew past her and barely missed Samson. “Watch it geezer!”
    He dodged to the side as another followed it, and three more that he narrowly blocked with the shield he held. He tumbled to the side and stormed towards their target. As he did he saw another person he recognized in the area-amidst what seemed to be an indoor garden, from grass and trees sprouting from the water littered by fish stood a lone figure that told of where they were. The Dark Moon Princess rivalled the four alone, the look in her eyes filled with blood lust and the speed she moved and attacked at downright inhuman. She leapt back and fired a series of arrows that rained upon the twins like icicles before she pointed her bow at Kasumi and Samson with three arrows nocked almost instantly. She released them and nocked three more before firing them. Kasumi leapt away from them and ran across one of the rice paper screens that lined the corridor. Samson leapt away from the first three and prepared his shield to block the following, which he did successfully to a degree. His sprint came to a grinding halt as he collapsed on the arm that carried a shield and his grip on his dagger loosened. He gazed down at the arrow lodged in his chest.
    He gasped for air as he let the dagger go and brought his hand to the bloody wound that had taken him by surprise.
    “S-Samson?!” TJ cried out before rushing to his side. She placed her guitar on her back and held out her hands. “Oh God Ah no...h-hang in there! I'm gonna heal the wound now so d-don't die okay?! Please don't die!” It was the first time he had heard the Exalted One's voice, and though she was dressed like a boy, the gentleness in the voice was without a doubt a girl's. He managed to utter a quiet chuckle as the sound of her voice became quieter, and his vision faded.

    Before he knew it he was back atop Madelaine's Tea Stop with Vanir, and the barista was tying his scarf back around his head.
    “Phew...been a while since I've done that! Good thing I didn't try practicing on the kids or we'd have a disaster on our hands.” He said, his expression invisible beneath his hat, and his head facing the rooftop.
    In those moments Samson had not breathed at all. The dream he had felt so real that it was hard to believe that it was nothing more than a vision, a glimpse into the future, but perhaps this was what Vanir wanted to warn him about. Was that his future? He would meet Kasumi again, and TJ was with her but...to die so close to her...he could not do that. He took a deep breath and immediately tried to mask the unease in his heart, and bring it to a normal rate at the same time. “S-so what did you see?” Vanir had given him simple rules and it was his curiosity that won out, leading to this. He had to keep it a secret.
    “Mm...you know, this and that. My recommendation? Don't join Yggdrasil. I think things will work out some way or another-it'll just be a little bumpy until then.”
    “Yggdrasil? That is...?”
    “Some guild. Though it's not really like you to take part in that sort of thing is it? If so you'll be fine. Or better yet, I know one that you can join! I can't tell you how yet, though. That is something you'll need to figure out on your own.”
    Samson laughed sheepishly at his words. “A guild huh? I'll give it some thought.” Was that badge from the guild the two were a part of? If what he saw was proof that he would be a part of it in the future, then it meant he and Kasumi would meet again, but could it also explain why Yuta's ability would be necessary against the Agasura? To prevent that from happening, perhaps it would be best if he joined another guild. He never cared much for his contribution, but it had likely seen some progress over all the years he had been adventuring. He had an obligation to Julius, and to become a part of a guild would split his focus between that and the God's Governor, but it seemed following that path and doing both would lead to his end. How could he protect Kasumi if he was not by her side to do so?
    Vanir grinned. “I'd like to see you with a pair of wings. That'd be a sight to remember.” Samson scoffed at his words and he grinned. “That said, I think it's time I call it quits for the night. Using my clairvoyance can be a real strain on the body.” He got up and made his way down to the veranda. Before jumping down he looked back to Samson. “The future isn't set in stone-just an F.Y.I.” He grinned once more. “By the way, you can sleep in my bed tonight. I'll make an exception just for you.” He leapt down and the sound of footsteps followed him as Samson followed in his wake briefly. The words that came out from the attic gave him pause. “Death...is a pretty terrifying thing, isn't it Samson?” They were the final words said between the two that night.

    Happy cafe fun time:
    Trust me when I say that this is a gigantic departure from the serious tone the last episode had. Crazy right? Going in I had planned this for some time, but when I first started on it I've gotta admit, the entire thing sounded so out there I considered skipping the scene as a whole and jumping right to business. But at the same time, just like Samson had thought, they understand the importance of the matter before them, and though prepared physically and mentally, deep down they all have their own inhibitions that would make facing the Dark Moon a challenge in and of itself. Again, this takes place a couple of days before they set out, so its not like they're just messing around. Reina organized the guilds for a certain day, and you'll hear a bit about her preparations in the following updates.
    Also a bit of trivia-that gem that Vanir's music is coming out of was initially mentioned in USS, but this time around rather than Julius learning a song from him it's something Rosetta already knows. So pretty much, it's something he always had but doesn't bring out often. Makes you wonder where he keeps all that stuff.

    Just an fyi, Skuld is drinking juice. You probably figured that too but you know. Believe it or not, at this juncture both Reina and Salem are in their late 20s! Truthfully, there probably isn't much to say on this matter. They're playing a modified game, which can be googled if you're curious and there's a bit of development on the character's sides.
    Though in truth, I'd have to say that Vanir and Samson probably had the most focus. Strange as the events that occurred may have been, this too, was not something I did thoughtlessly. Though the two might not show it, Vanir and Skuld have a very close relationship, and if you've read Inno you know how complicated everything is among the four, Samson aside. Here you see that he too can be a bit protective of her, even over little things, and on her side she holds him in high regard. Doesn't make her request any less strange though.
    Anyway, it's her request that tells a lot about the barista. I'd considered doing it as a bit of a joke, but when I really thought about it I felt it showed a bit of contrast between the two. In spite of everything he says during that small portion of the event, he was being rather serious, but in a very unusual way. Samson is reluctant about it, but Vanir eggs him on anyway. He jokes about it after, but the reason being is because of a very specific focal point in many of his appearances! Or should I say dialogue? He's a weird one, and you'll be seeing more of him every now and then as the other stories unfold. He has a part to play, and though not obvious, it'll be hinted at every now and again. In truth, doing this will be one of the biggest challenges I'll face in writing the story. His story is one of the few that connect them all, and at the same time (purposely) shatters the balance among them. The clairvoyance scene between him and Samson is proof of that, and I'll go into more detail on that once I get there.

    So everyone's had too much to drink. There are three rooms on the second floor, and the attic. Two belonged to Vanir and Skuld, but since the arrival of the others Vanir and Skuld often are together, or Reina and Skuld. It varies since Reina and Skuld share her room-the two are surprisingly close! But anyway, you get an idea of that when Vanir mentions it to Samson. Samson's in for a real surprise lol. So you do get a peek into the attic, which shows that Skuld isn't just a waitress. She's actually multi-talented, but there are just brief glimpses of these things. There'll definitely be more of that stuff later, but you know how those two are. They're definitely out there.

    Following that we have the discussion between Samson and Vanir. I had given this part a lot of thought, and though it ended a lot longer than I initially intended I think it was better that way. A lot of the time Vanir makes an appearance, typically bad jokes and strange things follow, and though even I felt that him being serious for too long a period was ill-fitting of him, but as I wrote it the way I felt about it changed a little. Like many of the other characters, they all have something that they'd go through hell and high water to protect, to convey to another, or to understand. I guess pretty much, they have their motivations. Vanir's are rather odd, and as his story unfolds you'll start to see more of what I mean by that(you probably have an idea now) but as I wrote it, it felt more fitting for him to take a more serious stance on that matter specifically because of his character.
    As for Samson, there are a lot of characters that he could understand, and with his insight catch on to things most wouldn't. Because of this, often times he winds up being a mediator in bad situations, and this is shown all throughout USSR, be it between adults or the kids. Since he had close ties with Reina and the others since they were young, and as they grew into adults he's familiar with all of the stages of youth. As for Vanir, he has no idea how old he exactly is, but his eccentric personality proves to be his antithesis. In a sense, this actually goes both ways. Samson is very aware of things, and typically given a glimpse of the future would serve as reason for one to follow another path to avoid it. I won't say for sure what he'll do, but those two will struggle with each other for a while longer because they both have their own ends to reach. In a sense, their characters really contrast like Salem and Reina. Though unlike the two, they'd sooner fight each other than fight together lol.

    Now here's the big kicker. I'd spent the past few days or weeks or something debating on whether or not to have the clairvoyance scene. I'd thought about skipping the thought entirely, cutting out Samson's glimpse of it, etc. But then I did it. In that, I wondered how best to portray it. 'Who would be there? Why would these characters be assembled for this cause? How long should it be and how should it play out?' The last question wasn't as important, but the first required a lot of thought. I'd asked myself if Samson were to join forces with Yggdrasil, yet be on Reina's side, why would Reina and co. not be there also? So my thoughts were that the final party would be TJ, Su, Reina, Salem and Peorth. Then I realized for Peorth to go into the Instance without Kooh would be backwards, to say the least. Though Kimara was an exception, typically the two are rarely seen apart. Reina and Salem also need to be together for their style to work out, and regardless of the limitations on an ID Su can accompany TJ. The most logical conclusion? Have Samson be a part of the guild. If Samson was to meet Kasumi again, he would likely accompany her on her journey, because she, TJ and Peorth would all be in the same place. The search would essentially be over right then and there. And this is where Vanir's interception comes in. Should he follow that route, that ending would be the most likely conclusion. For him, at least. I can't tell you why, per se, but it'll come to light one way or another.
    That matter aside, the way I wrote it, it incorporated some of the things that I talked about before-Kasumi and Bane had become one entity, and though it didn't show TJ's abilities it did show his future self. Or hers. But who could say for sure? Anyway, the outfit will definitely happen for various reasons. Also I learned a midriff shirt is a thing that day so...you know, the more you know! Shocking. Also that thing on the arms was a coat all along. My mind was blown! Jokes aside, though no less true, in doing this I tried experimenting a little, but at the same time, even if this makes it into the good copy it isn't meant to be confirmed as a future event. It's a possibility, but Kasumi and Bane might not have a magical reunion, and Peorth might decide to keep her hair short.
    Then again, Vanir pretty much said that lol. I'm still debating on whether or not I'll keep this scene since it could possibly raise expectations of something that might not happen, but at the very least I'll leave it as is and see how the others play out. It might be a crucial thing later on, or I might deem it unnecessary and cut it short.
    At the very least, I hope it gave a glimpse into Vanir's character properly. Perhaps I might be putting too much attention on him, but in the same vein its how he and TJ are. Their presence is a focal point in the stories, but what matters most is how they affect the world around them and those that inhabit it. Put the two together? You get Sanc, and well...you know how the main story is sometimes lol. Things always get out of hand one way or another.

    Hopefully next week I'll have some interesting new developments. I'm gonna try tinkering with the lore and the system a bit again. Remember, all of this is tenative, so bear with me here. Thankfully I've given it some thought already, just need to put it into practice. A little bit of Frequency know how might do you a bit of good, if you love trivia lol. With that said, till next time.
    avatar
    TJ

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

    Re: Under Shattered Skies Refrain

    Post  TJ on Fri Dec 05, 2014 8:36 am

    Pages 139-145:
    The following morning Samson awoke next to Vanir's bed, a blanket draped over his figure that rested against the frame. He rubbed his eyes which were still bleary and yawned. If he recalled correctly, when he had gotten there Skuld was already tucked in and fast asleep-today the bed was neatly made and a second blanket was placed on him. Had she done this before going to work? He would have to thank her later.
    He made his way down the stairs and found the barista at the counter with a cup in hand.
    “Oh? Morning Samson. Sleep well?” Vanir asked before flashing him a grin.
    “I did,” He answered. Though he was against the bed the Brownie slept soundlessly and had an oddly warm presence about her. “Now I have a question for you Vanir.”
    “That so? Well then, ask away.” He raised the cup to his lips and took a drink.
    Samson cleared his throat. He had done some thinking last night, and though his suspicions may have been off base he had a feeling he might be on to something. There were too many odd things about the barista for him to just ignore it once more. “Are you of this world Vanir?”
    This made him spit out his coffee. He coughed violently for a few moments before gasping for air. “Gods! Is that how you pick up girls?!” He wiped his mouth and sighed. “A question like that can't even be described as coming out of left field! What in the seven hells brought upon that?” Skuld came rushing onto the floor with a cloth in hand and he immediately turned to her. “Hold on there! You don't need to clean that. It's gross.” She turned to him with a worried expression and he frowned. “Don't give me that. Actually gimme that.” He pointed to the cloth and she handed it over. “Run along, the muffins won't bake themselves.”
    Samson blinked slowly at the strange, yet familiar encounter. “Something about your abilities raises quite a few questions.” He watched as the Brownie disappeared into the kitchen and turned his gaze back to the barista. “Also does she speak to you also?”
    Vanir frowned. “Are you nuts? Does it look like she talks? Skuld's mute. Do your pets talk to you?” He began wiping up the coffee as he muttered obscenities under his breath. After finishing he continued enjoying his cup. “Back to your question, no I'm not. Where the hell would I even come from anyway? Asgard? Yeah, no.”
    “Both Julius' and I believe the God's Governor of Fire Amata's did, in a similar way.” Samson rubbed his beard thoughtfully and the barista sneered. Without a doubt, Vanir's ability was something no human, let alone the average Asgardian would have. He did not know of any other races that had such an ability, let alone any artifacts save for the grimoire that Iris obtained that could do such a thing, and even that was beyond his knowledge. He would have to ask Reina if she knew anything about it later. “I take it you won't tell me where you obtained that power then will you?”
    The barista suddenly grinned. “Is this a cross-examination? Okay, I'm interested now-ask away Sherlock. Though I told you didn't I? The person I got it from was a fortune teller. Kinda broke their crystal ball and here we are.”
    Did the story not differ from what he had said the day before? Perhaps in the inconsistencies there was some semblance of truth. “So you didn't kill anyone to get it?”
    He burst out into laughter. “You make it sound worse than it was. That person's dead. That couldn't be avoided, but this and that had to happen for things to go this way.” The explanation was incredibly vague, but at least there was a connection. “So, that it?”
    He did not want to suspect the Confidant, but the fact still remained that the reining queen was missing in action, and what he had seen in that vision still bothered him. The two girls aside from TJ and Kasumi-they shared similar features, and though it had been many years he felt certain that at least one of the two were reminiscent of the king or queen. It was a short glimpse, and if Vanir's powers were not fooling him perhaps there was proof that Queen Peorth survived the last war. If she had not, Vanir would have to have had his hand in the matter-after all, only the royal family had the power of clairvoyance. “Do you remember what she looked like?”
    The barista remained silent for a moment, but smiled. “Nope. It was a long time ago. Too long for me to remember. So are you just trying to dredge up my past or what? I'd tell you all about it if you really wanna know.” He placed both his elbows on the counter and grinned at the adventurer.
    Samson knit his eyebrows. “No...that isn't quite it.” He wouldn't get the answer he needed if he took the bait now. “Tell me, do you know of the Cerebian royal family?”
    “Why wouldn't I? I'm a Confidant. Heard they got wiped though. How many years has it been?”
    Was that the reality? Samson found himself hard-pressed to believe it. He did not want to, because in them the hope of Asgard lay. It was either them, or the Redeemer-he felt unsure about the matter. “Then you're aware that they're the only ones in all of Asgard with the ability of clairvoyance right?”
    He blinked. “So I hear! But it's not like I got it from one of them.” He grinned devilishly. “I mean, how do you do that anyway? Is it possible?” He scratched his cheek thoughtfully. “I'm not making a very good case for myself am I?” The adventurer shook his head and the barista laughed. “Alright, alright fine. I've been a confidant for twenty something years now. I'm pretty sure. When I became one Queen Remedi was the reigning queen, and well...you know. She like blew up or something.” Samson pursed his lips in annoyance at the comment and the barista rubbed his neck uneasily. He was acquainted with the king and queen at the time, as they had given him permission to come to Midgard. “Bad joke, I know. She saved Asgard right? From that evil star in the first war. Don't know how she did it, but I've gotta hand it to her-she's certainly brave. I'd heard she went in it and then it just imploded.” He seemed to be looking down at his cup. “Had she not done that, it kinda makes you wonder what would've happened to the place.”
    Not many people had questioned the event. It was their saving grace, after all, and what had allowed them to win the war. What the Agasura had summoned then and the spell in the second war were similar, but the first was much more threatening. Though Samson was much younger then, he understood that the black star would easily be the end of their kind. Perhaps for that very reason Queen Remedi chose to destroy it from within, before it threatened Asgard-following the event, she was not seen or head from. Had Queen Peorth chosen to follow the same path, would it have been as the Agasura had wanted? “I doubt it would end with our escape from the land.” Samson muttered. Vanir was certainly well versed. Though it was common knowledge, not many knew exactly why the late queen was hailed as a hero after her demise, but still knew her as one. “Do you know of anything about the reigning queen?”
    “The l-Peorth?” Samson raised an eyebrow. He heard she had a series of nicknames due to her age and the time she inherited the throne, and it seemed Vanir knew one of them-that or he was going to imply she had passed away. “I don't know too much about her. After what happened in the last war it'd be a miracle if she survived. Though I did hear that your little saviour was there! He's probably out and about somewhere on Jienda by now. I doubt they'd escape without him.”
    Again, another discrepancy in terms of their gender, but the matter aside it seemed Vanir did not know much about them. Though the fact still stood that he did describe him as male, so perhaps whoever spoke to him about it knew. A refugee from the war? Perhaps Reina had a clue. “So you don't know anything about either, do you?”
    The barista shook his head. “Not anything worthwhile. It's mostly stuff from before the war. Why? You looking for 'em?”
    “You could say that. Will you keep me updated on any information you find on them?”
    “Roger!” He offered a salute.
    It seemed that Vanir did not know about the two, but if the two had seen the same vision, how did he know what guild the four belonged to? Samson felt certain that there was still much that he did not understand about Vanir's power, and more so the man himself, but the matters were menial in comparison to his goals. If what he saw, heard, and wanted to believe were to be believed the possibility that the queen survived was still a very viable truth, and she and the others would join forces in the coming years. She too, would definitely have to be a clairvoyant, so perhaps she expected the war and had fled-but if she knew, could she have prevented it? He would not cast the shadows of doubt on her. There were still matters that needed to be addressed, but he knew he would have to take a chance to find out for sure. He could not begin a fruitless search, as time was limited. “I appreciate it.”
    The barista intertwined his fingers. “Now I have a question for you Samson,” He began in a silky tone.
    “What is it?” He asked with caution.
    “You...you didn't do anything to my Brownie...did you?” Samson's mouth hung agape for a couple moments before he caught a glimpse of Skuld storming out of the kitchen. She slapped his thigh before walking away in a huff while Vanir winced after he nearly jumped from the shock. “O-oww...come on Skuld I was just kidding!”
    Samson chuckled. “Did that answer your question?”
    “No! Now I'm even more curious!” He glimpsed back at the kitchen in case she came around again and sighed. “Gods...she's stronger than she looks.”
    “Pets don't go into battles with adventurers just for show, you know.” The adventurer added before the barista sent him a menacing glare.

    After a meal Samson stepped out from the shop and walked about the district before making his way to the main shopping district. Though it was still rather early there were still adventurers out and about amidst the occasional shopkeeper. He caught a glimpse of a pair of GMA employees clad in company coats passing by as they talked about the upcoming event.
    “Do you think they'll really get Sir Levi and Iris to partake when they returns to the city?” A young lady asked her companion.
    “Wouldn't it be kinda weird to have the captain of the knights dressing up as Santa or his reindeer?” Her companion answered, a man.
    “What about a pair of elves?”
    Samson chuckled under his breath. It was about that time-Christmas was right around the corner and without a doubt the GMA would have had something planned. He wondered if they would go to Hanamah also to celebrate. Perhaps Amata would be able to talk Kasumi into participating, one way or another. If there was a competition, the two would definitely be in it.
    He walked through the streets, taking in the sights as he did, stealing a glance at Elias Castle and all of the various shops in between. In spite of his gripes, Samson had promised Lucia and the others that if he were in the city that he would come by for a visit. He had become well acquainted with her and her sisters, and in turn for his assistance with their requests she offered him a discount on her services-though when it came to her he could not tell what a 'discount' was. As he approached the entrance to Club Abio he sighed gently. Going inside, even if only for a brief while always made him feel his age.
    The moment he opened the door he was blasted with sound, and was taken aback for a moment. It certainly had not changed-flashy lights, loud music, people dancing and the same lively atmosphere. One of the last places anyone would think to look for Agasura, but one that contained the few you would find in any of the cities across Jienda. They certainly blended in well. He made his way down the stairs into the heart of the venue and felt his heart skip a beat as someone wrapped their arm around his.
    “That you Samson? I knew it had to be! Vanir said you'd be in the city.” The second youngest of Lucia's four sisters, Monica said as she pulled him aside. She, alike to her sisters wore the same outfit, a sleeveless black dress and matching shoes. To make matters more complicated, they were quadruplets-all four had platinum blonde hair and crimson eyes, her hair tied in a side-tail. At a glance, it was often extremely difficult to tell them apart, but after years of seeing them on varying occasions he had somehow discovered minute details about them that made each one stand out from the others. Though hearing their voices, the way they talk or carried themselves made it a much simpler task for him.
    “It's good to see you Monica. How are you and your sisters doing?” He answered with a smile.
    “Never been better! Business has been good, both here and when we're really 'working'. Did you just come for a visit or do you need sis' help?” In a sense, their work could be considered a family business. Lucia took clients during the day, and at night took the floor with those of her sisters who were on the job. Those who were off for the day would go out and fulfill the requests that their clients made.
    Samson scratched his cheek. “Initially I just came for a visit, but your sister might know something that I'd like to be informed about.”
    She grinned, one of her fangs reminding him that she too, was a Vampanelar. “There's nothing that we can't find out for you Samson. Whatever it might be, don't be afraid to ask okay? We're always here to help.”
    He chuckled dryly. It pained him to admit it but she was charming in her own right, though the matters she talked about ran much deeper than the look on her face could say to one unaware. “I wouldn't doubt it for a moment.” He smiled sheepishly. “Is Lucia free right now? Or does she have another client?”
    Monica shook her head. “Now's a good a time as any, so you better take it while you can get it.”
    He nodded. “I appreciate it, and I'll do just that.”
    As he began to walk off she shouted for his attention once more. “If you're going for a consultation tell her to stop hoarding all the payment!” She huffed.
    The adventurer laughed. “Count on it.” Though they were a team, at times they were professionals at being unprofessional. Then again, if they were sisters that got along all of the time, even he would find it strange. As he continued on he caught a glimpse of the eldest second only to Lucia, Naomi within a small crowd. He raised a hand to acknowledge her and she smiled back at him.
    “Off to see sis huh? She'll be ecstatic.” She said before turning her focus back to the guest on stage. Of the four, she was the most level-headed-most likely because of how eccentric her sisters were. Naomi wore her hair in a mohawk braid, the girl herself once said it was the easiest way for guests to tell them apart.
    He made his way to the far end of the room and came across a black door that was labelled 'Members Only'. He pushed the door open and found himself in the familiar corridor-though it was not bright, he could find his way just fine to Lucia's dressing room. He raised a hand and rapped on the door gently three times.
    Her velvety voice chimed, “Yes, come in.”
    Samson stepped inside the dressing room and found the dancer sitting before her mirror, similarly dressed to her sisters but with her long hair in curls. The room was painted black, but the lights about it made it startlingly bright. There were pictures that decorated the room amidst Lucia's notes, some reminders for clients and others related to her work at Club Abio-safety reminders and such. “It's been a while Lucia.” Samson said removing his hat.
    She smiled. “Far too long, Samson. It really is a pleasure to see you.” She arose and embraced him, the adventuring following suit. The two were old friends-their friendship going back to when she had first become a Confidant, and following through as some of her sisters joined Club Abio. He could not say what convinced them to leave Foe Mansion and live among humanity, but he was thankful they did not attack him when he escorted them into the city. It seemed that becoming a Confidant, allowed for them to bypass the Save Stone's protection. “So do tell, what kind of adventures have you found yourself in lately?”
    He chuckled gently at her enthusiasm. Though she was an information broker, she would not give out a client's information, especially when she was doing it off the clock. The two often spoke about the recent events in their lives, Samson's journey and Lucia her time during Club Abio, since the rest was confidential.

    After talking for a spell he paused for a moment to gather his thoughts. He wanted to know whether Queen Peorth had really fallen in the battle or not. If anyone knew, it would likely be Lucia. If he could get an answer to that question he would be willing to pay any price, so long as it confirmed his suspicions. He took a deep breath and put on a serious expression, she solemnly nodded acknowledging that the time for idle chatter had passed and the time for business had begun. “Lucia, I have a request for you?”
    “Ask away Samson. I doubt there's anything that my girls can't find out for you,” She answered with confidence.
    “I need to know if Queen Peorth had survived the second war-if she's somewhere on Jienda. Could you find this out for me?”
    She smiled devilishly. “I can answer your question right now, but just to be sure, you are aware there is a price to be paid for information, correct?”
    He nodded. “Name it.”
    She closed her eyes but smiled. “I don't need anything too grand from you. If you'd offer me a little of your blood, that will do just fine.”
    Typically, one would expect that a vampire-like Agasura would want nothing more than blood from their clients. Surprisingly, it's one of the smaller requests Lucia and her sisters would have for them. At times they request difficult to find items or materials that can be gathered from certain Agasura. Though nobody knows exactly why, at times completing the requests can prove to be quite the challenge, and one might find themselves seeking help from others to accomplish the task. Perhaps in that is where Samson's discount lay. He considered himself quite the lucky man, both in the sense of his connections, and the fact that Lucia and her sisters were rather finicky about who's blood they would drink.
    “Gladly.” He removed his coat and she rose to her feet before approaching him. She leaned in and rested her hands on his shoulders before plunging her fangs into his neck. After going through the experience multiple times, he still found it hard to adapt to, but the pros outweighed the cons in this case.
    After she had enough she stepped away from him and wiped away the remaining blood from her face with a handkerchief. “Ah...delicious.” She said placing both hands to her cheeks with a flushed face. “A God's Governors blood really is divine.”
    He chuckled as he put his coat back on. He knew she did not mean him to be a God's Governor, but to have the blood of one within him. Supposedly it tasted better than the average Human or Cerebian's. He felt unsure of how much of a good thing that was for him. He snickered a she recalled Monica's words. “I'd forgotten to tell you, but it seems Monica isn't so fond of you enjoying the payment for yourself.”
    She looked shocked by this fact. “Did she?” She grinned devilishly. “She can enjoy blood of that caliber once she's earned her keep.” After composing herself she put back on her usual business face, which often included a small confident smile. “So you're looking for Queen Peorth hmm? My girls have told me that she was last seen in the city of Ves earlier this year with a party of six. We think they might be her retainers.” She beamed, in spite of her business face she seemed genuinely happy. “It seems her party has increased somewhat.”
    “She's...alive? Thank goodness!” Samson uttered with relief.
    “I'm sorry I couldn't tell you sooner Samson. You know how it is, rules are rules. I can't favour one client over the others even if we have a close relationship. If it's not business I'll gladly speak with you though.”
    He grinned, the relief spread through him like the warmth of summer. “It's no problem at all, and nothing that I don't already know. Besides, this is a small price to pay for information that important. You've been a great help Lucia.”
    She laughed. “This is my job. If you say things like that it might become personal sooner than later.”
    “I hope I can count on you in the future too.” He got up and offered her a hand.
    She took his hand in both of hers and shook it gently. “Of course. I'll be expecting you to come back the next time you're in the city Samson. And also...to come back from the Dark Moon safely. You'll be going with those two Cerebian children correct? Please look after them.”
    “I'll protect them with my life.”

    On his way out Monica gave him an earful because she could smell the blood on him. He confessed that he passed on the message, but she gave up after reiterating that her eldest sister did as she pleased when she pleased. Afterwards he had returned to Madelaine's Tea Stop and found the barista and his waitress busily moving about the shop to serve a couple of customers.
    “Hmm? Oh you're back. Sorry we can't play with you, got customers.” Vanir said as he made his way into the kitchen. Samson considered rebuking him for the remark but let it pass regardless. His head peeked out from the kitchen with one more comment for the adventurer, “By the way, if you're looking for the kid she's out back practicing or something. Woke up a little while ago.”
    “Thanks,” Samson answered. After how much she and Salem had it was no surprise that she'd be resting throughout the day. Taking up the barista's suggestion, he made his way into the kitchen and out into the backyard after greeting Skuld, who worked alongside her owner. He took a couple steps outside and caught a glimpse of Reina, her katana in hand and her solemnly practicing. Today she wore a grey V-neck long sleeve shirt and blue jeans.
    At the sound of his footsteps she stopped and raised her head to hear him approaching, and she quickly turned to him. “Mr. Kolb? Is that you?” She asked.
    “Good guess! How'd you know?” He asked with a grin.
    She smiled in turn. “You can tell a lot about someone by the way they walk.”
    “I think so too.” He chuckled gently. “Someone with a good head on their shoulders like you could probably keep Vanir out of trouble.”
    She scratched her cheek gently. “You think so? It's actually been the other way around since we arrived here.”
    “That so? Now that's a surprise.” He sat down on the steps and she walked over as she placed her weapon in its scabbard. “How are you feeling?”
    She nodded gently as her face flushed. “A lot better. Skuld had been looking after us throughout the day.” She fidgeted slightly as she groped around her mind for the words. “U-um...sorry about yesterday! I did some really unbecoming things!”
    He snickered. “You were worried about that? You were a lot worse when you were younger Reina. A hug or calling me by my first name won't change my opinion of you any-truthfully, I rather prefer being called Samson. I might be your senior in life, but we're no less friends because of it. Tomorrow we'll be comrades in arms, and on the battlefield I'll not be a rank any higher or lower than you.”
    “Do you really think so?” She seemed a tad relieved.
    “Of course.” She held him in high regard, and though she did not know it, it was a feeling that went both ways.
    “Do you think that would change at all if we were different ranks in combat?”
    He blinked, and gazed at her for a moment. “No, not at all. A lot of the guilds I've seen value their members above all else.” He smiled. “Regardless of where you are, I think you'll find that out for yourself.”
    She nodded solemnly. “Then will you fulfill this request of mine Mr. Ko-no, Samson?”
    “Sure. Lay it on me.”
    She took a deep breath. “Will you join my guild? Rather than that, will you lead it?”
    This startled him. “L-lead?! Your guild?” He jumped from where he stood with a look of disbelief. There were a lot of things she had mentioned in her letters, but if his memory served him this was not one of the things she had included. “You're not pulling my leg are you?”
    She shook her head rapidly. “No, I'm completely serious! It was actually a suggestion by one of the refugees we had rescued in the Desert. Do you remember that boy I told you about, Axle? It was his idea.” She laughed sheepishly. “I wasn't so enthused about the idea at first, but him, Salem and a lot of the others thought it'd be a good idea-Vanir even got me an Order Crystal and the next thing I knew, I was the guild master! If you still have doubts I have the proof right here. She reached into her pocket and removed a small badge that she held out for him to see. Without a doubt, it was a guild badge-her's featured a small blue shield with a tiger in gold emblazoned upon it.
    “Well, with that I can't really say I don't believe you.” This time he laughed sheepishly. To think that Reina had become the leader of a guild among everything else, she really did grow up quickly. But to become the guild's master, and even that to replace Reina as that role-could he do it?
    “So...will you do it?”
    He smiled somberly before placing a hand to her head. “You know Reina, all those people that wanted you to become a guild master have really high expectations of you. I'm sure they understand that it'll be tough for you, but the fact still stands that they chose you. They believe in you, and I'll be damned if I could think of anyone who could be a better guild master. I know you're uneasy but, you don't have to be afraid okay? You'll do fine.”
    Though she knit her eyebrows, she nodded slowly and solemnly. “I'll give everything I've got.”
    He looked down at the badge and sighed happily. Perhaps she still needed a bit of guidance. Though she would be his superior, he would support her from the shadows. He reached out to her hand and took the badge from her before pinning it to his coat. “I won't take your job from you, but I've no reason not to be a part of your guild.” The fact still stood that he was never one for guilds, but after he had received the request to give Reina and Salem a future, and even before that, he knew that there was something that he needed to do. As he attached the badge he wondered if Vanir may have orchestrated the entire thing. Though the note on the other hand, had really neat writing, and the map that the barista had drawn had oddly unique but messy writing upon it. “I wouldn't mind being a part of it though, guildmaster.”
    She smiled. “I'll be counting on you from here on out Samson.” She held out her hand and a prism appeared within it, a small golden light rested within. She held out her free hand and the badge he wore began to emit a similar light for but a few brief moments. “It's a shame it's just me here, but I'd like to formally welcome you to Bastion. This is the first time you've joined a guild right? It'd probably help if I explained a few things, especially how we do things here.”
    “I'm all ears.”
    “Well, first things first, you can talk to the guild by tapping the badge twice. You'll only hear them after you've done it, and it can be turned off the same way. If you were looking for someone specific, you can contact them by giving it the 'whisper' command. Everyone's pretty friendly. I think you'll get along with them just fine.”
    He laughed. One of the smaller concerns, but it was like her to worry over something of the sort. “Sounds pretty straight-forward. Anything else I should know?”
    She nodded. “Though right now it's mainly planned for this battle, many of us have taken to using code names. If possible I don't want to put my guild members at any greater risk following our journey to the Dark Moon. There's only a few of us, so it won't take long to get a good idea of who's who.”
    “Got it. So you are?”
    She laughed sheepishly. “Well I'm Dancer. Salem is Shadow, and if you're curious about the others I'll make a list.”
    He chuckled. “Did everyone come up with their own names?”
    “No, actually. Vanir had handled all of them, thankfully. I wouldn't say that's exactly my field of expertise.”
    It did seem like something he would do. “Did you manage to convince him to join the guild too?”
    Reina laughed. “He said he'd help out a bit, but that's one of the things he wouldn't do or he'd be in trouble. He wouldn't tell me exactly why though, but then again he doesn't seem to like fighting much. Though he's pretty strong.” This time around she offered him a shrug and a grin. “Maybe it's just a Confidant thing? Anyway, you should go see him later and ask for one. He's got a lot of interesting ones.”
    Samson smiled wryly at the thought. Considering how strange the man was, it would definitely follow suit. Though if he handled all of the guild's code names, it seemed it would be his best bet. Though the adventurer had to admit, it seemed that Vanir picked out rather fitting names for the people who would be taking them into battle in the following days. The last of the Godwin family and the man who had sworn his sword to her. “Let's hope it's a good one, then.”
    “I think it'll be good.” She held her prism closely, thoughtfully. “You know Samson, I've discovered quite a lot since I became a guildmaster.” This peaked his interest-it seemed that though she had pursued other matters, her sense of curiosity had not dwindled. “This prism, and the books that the Keruz wield? They both have the memories and teachings of past guild masters and various warriors of ages past locked away within them. When I use this, I can see all sorts of techniques that go beyond what our typical classes are able to do, and instructions on performing them. Strange as it may be, there are even some from Queen Peorth listed under the 'Spearman' pages.”
    He blinked. To think that the guilds themselves withheld such information, but for what reason? “Is it all techniques? If so wouldn't we be able to share this information amongst the masses? Perhaps this is what we need to go above and beyond the limitations of the class system.”
    She knit her eyebrows. “Sadly, it's not that simple. Just as you'd expect to do that, requires both the usage, and understanding of mana. If there's anything that we can say for sure about this, it's that it really isn't impossible for all Cerebians to utilize it, but even so, reaching that point is no small feat either.”
    He nodded solemnly. “To do it one has to become a Keruz first. In all my years I've yet to see one for myself.” He furrowed his brows. “Most retire or are killed before they could get that far. But why? For what reason would this restriction be placed upon all of our kind?”
    Reina shook her head gravely. “I can't say for sure.” He quickly apologized-asking her would not lead him to an answer. “If I was to take a shot in the dark, perhaps it's a show of sincerity to the cause. The scars of the past still remain.” She let out a short mirthless laugh. “We've still no definitive proof as to whether that was the reason Atlantis was sunk in the first place. It's possible that this too, was God Ah's intention. If we all had access to mana again, wouldn't that just lead to us making the same mistakes we had in the past? Humanity would likely wage war on itself again, and in some attempt to bring the fighting to an end the Cerebians would participate.” She shuddered. “So much unnecessary bloodshed...” She was a silent for a moment before she laughed mirthlessly once more. “At times, I too question my own motives. I wonder if what I'm doing is right. I know it goes against what our kind believes in yet I'm waging a war against Humanity. It was my incompetence that lead to this, so I have to do everything in my power to undo it. I just wish it was something I could do alone-sadly someone as powerless as me can't wage a war.”
    Samson gazed silently. In one of her letters Reina mentioned that while rescuing refugees, Salem had murdered one of the people that they planned to hold as a hostage to complete a trade for their captives. All because she had been taken as a hostage by that very person-she blamed her weakness, and swore on her name that she would find a way to carry out her mission with as a few casualties as possible. Though she lacked the magical capacity to wage war alone like a God's Governor could, she still had the strength to to face her faults and lead those willing to fight for her cause. She was much paler than she should have been, likely due to a lack of sleep. If there was one thing that she dreaded, it was another war-but the odds still stood against her, and due to that fact she had to make a choice. The only thing Samson could do, was fight this war with her. “What you're doing is more than enough. Remember, if a guild master falters, so does the guild. You have to have the strength of heart to see this through to the end, and even if it isn't, believe with all your heart that your cause is just.” He smiled bitterly. “After all, there is no right or wrong in war-both sides are right, and just as much as they are right, they're wrong. We just have to fight with all that we are and hopefully succeed in our goals, with as few losses as possible.”

    The following will be...kinda story related. Mostly personal, for various reasons, so I hope you don't mind it too much. I'll talk a lot about the themes of both Inno and USSR so expect giant spoilers on those.
    Frequency, Innocent and I:
    I'd spent a long, long time thinking about this. I wanted to know exactly what it is that stopped me from writing Innocent in the first place, and a little more recently the same thing almost occurred. I felt this overwhelming dread, and as I tried to think about how I wanted the story to go, I just started drawing a blank. I started questioning the content, and wondering exactly what it is that I wrote it for and what it meant, and then I began to fear it.
    There could be a myriad of reasons for this, but there's one fact that still stands. The one who knows the story and its themes best, are me. Just like with music or any other tale, we could all come from it with a different take on it, for better or worse. I let my own fears take over and taint a story with a very powerful theme, and turn it into something much, much worse than I had intended. Well, truth be told I might have exaggerated the powerful bit, but to me it means the world, and in that, in forgetting that, I had lost my way again. Just as I had back then. I was gripped by fear and shut my eyes because I wasn't sure how to face the challenge, and due to it I tried to run away.

    As I read it over, both that and Frequency I learned a lot, not just about myself, but how time had changed the world around me and me along with it. Can you believe that I started the project in 2009? Even I still have trouble believing it. But anyway, something happened that really got me thinking. The other day my dad told me his usual spiel, that video games are a waste of time etc. I disagreed. I'd thought about getting mad and arguing the point, but in truth I realized that he wasn't entirely wrong. It wasn't something he needed when he grew up, and so in his eyes they're not something necessary. In that, I agree. On my side though, I had grown up with them-some of the games, to name a few such as The World Ends With You, Persona 4, or even most of the Zelda titles have really helped me grow up, both as a gamer and as a person.
    I hadn't played P4G until now, and as I did it had reminded me so much of many of the experiences I had been through. But the way it handled them felt...right. It hit some really hard-hitting topics, but took into consideration the characters and what made them...them, you know? At the same time, I learned a lot about a certain kind of psychology, what it means to have a persona and shadows. How overcoming the challenges we're faced with help us grow, and become the people we are meant to be.
    When I'd really given it some thought, I'd realized that I hadn't been able to face myself. My creativity was locked behind a wall that I'd created to escape my fears, but little did I know that it was growing, and sooner or later it would swallow me whole. A terrifying thought, really. But running away wouldn't give me the strength to face hardship. To overcome it, I would have to change, and in doing so possibly change the world around me too. I mean, I'm just one human lol. But in the big picture, sometimes it takes that one human to really make all the difference-its why we have presidents and mayors and such. They rally the people, and they help us to shape the world to make it possible to live in.

    What does this have to do with Innocent? Reina was a personification of courage. When I had written her, she was meant to be all that I thought I could never be, but aspired to all the same. Of course, she was more than just that, but in the initial stages I wanted to create a character that really gave off that vibe. She was born from my own persona, and when things had went a little awry last year, I had released it and fell into a slump, dreading the exact things that I valued. This lead to me losing my connection with the character and so I felt unable to write her story. Now that we've come full circle, and her story intertwines with USSR, I have to face myself and overcome that barrier to see it to completion. Realistically, I could just write it and ignore the fact, but you know, if I did that it would never sit well with me. It might sound a little cliche, but I honestly try to write from the heart. My works speak where I can't-if you'd ever met me in person, you'd see what I mean. I'm really clumsy with my words! But at the same time, sometimes I'm a little too honest and straight-forward to a fault. Is it better? Is it worse? I can't say for sure. I've still so much to learn.
    But that's why I'm going to try and pick up the pieces that I'd left behind, and fix my mistakes. I don't wanna keep running away forever in hopes that someone else will fix what I failed to. I was thinking of quoting the game but knowing me, I'd mess that up. And hell, you know what? That's alright. To make mistakes and such. We learn from them, and we grow as people. Something I have to learn time and again until I can commit it to memory.

    So let's get back to the main topic. If I was to break it down to the most bare bones explanation I could, Innocent was about facing myself-that is, my inner demons. At the heart of the problem had lay what might be my depression, and the slow but steady hold it had on me that chilled me to the bone and shook up my entire existence. In this, it was personified as the Dark Moon. It's something I don't understand-that I feel is so simple yet beyond me, and that has existed side by side with everything else that I've come to know. There would come a time where I would have to face off with it, for better or worse, and how it ends well...I'm sure you could guess what happens if I fail. Reina represented the courage to face an insurmountable challenge-one that, at all odds would seem downright impossible, and would be insane to try. At first, it was just her and Salem-but as time went on more people had joined in the fight. A story of hope-a light at the end of a dark tunnel, and other such things.
    In truth, the themes of all the stories are all really simple like that, but you know, after writing for so long and striving to improve it, I've learned that even the most basic of themes can really tell a grand tale. We're all battling something, and at times it might seem like we can't get through. I'd always thought I was alone in this, and because of my depression my judgement was completely clouded over. I hadn't seen anything beyond myself, but I had looked right through me. Kinda silly right? Truth of the matter. As I wrote it, I myself had never truly understood the themes of it. I just wrote it, and whatever came out was...well, what you see. It was the same with Freq, USS, USSR and all the things I'd written that preceded them. At times I do feel that they could be a bit misguided, cause I'd been lead astray by them also, but I'm going to try a bit harder.

    It was games that had taught me how important a hero could be. That in the darkest hour that things weren't always as they seemed. If we're to make a change, we have to take the first step.
    And to be completely honest, I'm scared out of my wits! Idk if I really have what it takes to face myself, to face forward and keep on going. If I am to, I have to build myself from the ground up all over again, and truth be told it's a really daunting task. Is it for the best? Truthfully I'm still not sure about it, or anything else really. But I feel if I keep doubting myself, nothing good will come of it. I've done it all my life and it only amplified the pain I had created for myself. Do you remember how I told you that I didn't want you to become pessimistic or cynical? This is one of the reasons why. It's like jumping into a deep hole-once you're in, getting out can be a bit of a challenge. If you become too complacent than it's just a bad situation all around. I'm gonna do all that I can to not see everything in such a negative light, and hopefully from that take a more positive outlook on my life.
    Still, just as with everything else take what I say with a grain of salt. This is, after all just the way I see things, and realistically that could change! But if you are to take anything from this, it's to learn from my mistakes. It's something that history teaches us often, and something I too, should try harder to remember. My memory was never that good, and it has gotten a little worse over the years. But hell, I'll be damned if that's what will keep me from trying. If there's a problem, without a doubt it's either been or could be investigated, and in that lays the answers to many of life's questions!

    So what now? Well it's time I do what I should've done long ago. Try to change myself-call it a hunch, or just me being ridiculous but I think that there might be someone out there who believes in me. I'm not perfect, but I won't let myself believe that my capabilities are so finite. It was my bonds that had helped me overcome the greatest of hurdles in my life, so this time around I want to step up and try to return that favour in whatever way I can. From here on, I'll try harder to be better; but not just that, to be more honest with myself. I'm terrible at it, and because it's me I feel better doing that but it's wrong. From that well...I'll learn to be a bit more honest with the people around me, than trying to face everything alone and failing at it because I'm too stubborn.
    And maybe I'll stop being so hard on myself. That's gonna take some time.

    For the future? I think I'll try to finish USSR, in spite of my doubts. It might take time-longer than what I've written thus far, so the updates will be a tad sporadic but hell I'm gonna try. I'll look into going to school, and hopefully finding a way to study creative writing. I think I've still got a long way to go before I can even stand on the same footing as all those before me, but I'm gonna keep working at it. Reality might be a bit tough on that dream, but I'll do what I can not to crush it before I even begin.
    I'm...gonna do my best. It's all that I can do. I could learn to be a bit kinder, a bit more responsible, and a lot more courageous. I've still got a lot of learning to do. And to be completely honest...I am a little afraid of how vast the world is. But there's something about it that's mystifying at the same time, and it makes me want to know. This time, I'll try not to run away. There's still lingering doubts in my heart, but I'm gonna do what it takes to overcome them. Coming here to be honest, rather than hiding it away somewhere only I have access to will hopefully be a reminder to me, that there's always more than meets the eye.

    Well I've gone on for far too long. I know it's just me ranting for my own sake and stuff, but I hope it's of use! Let's do our best.

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