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Thread: [Quest] Seventh Heaven

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    The Act of dozing off in the afternoon is a luxury indeed.
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    The Great and Powerful Wizard's Avatar
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    Please Insert Coin

    Menodora Strauss
    Location: Shuto, Kingdom of Wa
    Date: 79 days until the Destruction of Shuto
    Time: 6:20pm


    Fine.

    Here’s another question:
    Why are you in my dreams?
    Ah, yes.
    Honestly, I am not quite sure why.
    But I am certainly flattered to be the dream of such a pretty young woman.
    I wonder if I would be considered dreamy, now.
    Hmhm~
    ….
    Ah.
    Such a deadly glare from one so sm-
    Ehum.
    Yeah.
    Watch yourself.
    Of course.
    Joking aside, my purpose is rather simple.
    My function is to listen.
    Listen?
    Yes.
    To listen and record your tale, including your thoughts.
    I am something of a storyteller, so such things are within my area of expertise.
    So you’re supposed to write down what I do?
    Something to that effect.
    Why?
    It is my purpose here.
    But why?
    How are you even here?
    Who would want you to do this?
    The answer to all three is one.
    It should be very obvious to you now.
    Who has conspired your fate until the point?
    Who has brought you to this place?
    From whom do these people gain salvation?
    You are a smart girl, think for a moment.

    The gods?
    Indeed.
    Though, I sense incredulity in your tone.
    Do you not believe?
    In gods?
    Not really?
    I mean, I know they were real a long time ago.
    My sister never shuts up about it.
    But they’re all long gone.
    And you are here.
    But this could just be magic.
    That does not mean it is not the gods.
    Why would the gods be interested in me?
    If they wanted someone, why not my sister?
    Why are they even doing this to these people?
    Why not just save them?
    Why indeed.
    That is what I hope to learn.
    Perhaps this is all just a sick game for their entertainment.
    Or perhaps it is more than that.
    Or perhaps it is both.
    Curious, no?
    No.
    I don’t care what they want with me.
    I just want to go home.
    I don’t want any of this.
    I don’t want to be a hero.
    I can’t be a hero.
    You do not desire many things.
    Yet they all seem to occur regardless.
    That is unfortunate, but fate is often so.
    This I know well.
    Do not despair.
    Despair is a chain that will enslave you to tragedy.
    Though fate has dealt you a poor hand this round, you must move forward.
    Have courage and you will break these chains, moon child.
    Take this given fate and twist it.
    Make your destiny.
    ...you sound like a shitty cat poster
    Ah.
    I cannot say I am familiar with the concept.
    But I am rather fond of cats, so I shall take it as a compliment.
    Don’t.
    I will.

    Can you go away now?
    I’m tired.
    Very well.
    Rest well,
    Zero of Seven
    moon child
    .
    The dawn is on the horizon and fate rides upon its back.
    Do not be afraid.
    Goodnight.


    Menodora Strauss

    Location: Shuto, Kingdom of Wa
    Date: 78 days until the Destruction of Shuto
    Time: 9:06am

    Status
    Health: Satisfactory
    Hunger: Full
    Sleep:Well-Rested
    Mental Health: Panicked (Suppressed)





    “Are you ever not eating?”

    Touka paused mid-chew, looking innocent with half a roll hovering near his mouth.

    Morning came quickly after my weird dream. I was still trying to wrap my head around it when Samui came and took me to breakfast. I decided to drop it for the time being and assume/hope it was just a dream until it inevitably wasn’t because my life is a terror right now. Anyway.

    There was just as much food at breakfast had been for our dinner, which gave me a weird feeling now. After seeing all of those starving people in the streets yesterday, it felt like a waste of resources. Savior or not, why would they bother making more food than we needed? Well, more than I needed. Touka was apparently a black hole, sucking down half the damn table, then proceeded to stuff his pockets with rolls and cookies before we left with Samui.

    He was well-mannered enough to actually finish swallowing his food before speaking.

    “I’m a growing boy. I need lots of food so I’ll grow up big and strong.”

    He flexed an arm, showing off some pretty impressive muscles even through the uniform. I guess he does sports or whatever. Definitely seems the type for something like baseball.

    “Maybe you should eat more too, onee-chan. Might help you gr-”


    “Finish that and I bite you.”

    “Ah. Jeez, no need to be violent, I’m just teasing you. A little revenge for last night, ya know?”

    I rolled my eyes. “Well that wouldn’t have happened if you didn’t feel free breaking into women’s rooms so you could peep on them after a bath.”

    “Hey, hey, hey, don’t say it like that! I’m not that kind of guy. If I wanted to see ladies naked, I wouldn’t have to break in. One flash of this smile,” he pointed at that shitty grin of his, humming for effect, “and women start running.”

    “What, away?” I barked. A soft snort cut me off from continuing, looking ahead.

    Samui covered her ‘sneeze’ with a ladylike brush of her sleeve, though she was unable to get rid of her smile. She had been like that all day so far, practically glowing with joy and took every opportunity to sneak a smile at me when she knew I was looking. Wonder what put her in such a good mood?

    “Hmp!” He huffed, stuffing another roll into that black hole he called a mouth. Silence held right up until he finished chewing, humming loudly before speaking. “Oh! I just remembered what I wanted to tell you last night.”

    “Oh yeah, what?” Probably something stupid and pointless.

    “I’m not gonna tell you.”

    “What? Why not?”


    He folded his arms, pouting like a child. Which I guess he is. “For one, you’ve been nothing but mean to me since we’ve met, Onee-chan. Here I am, doing my best to be your friend and all you do is berate me and call me stupid.”

    “I haven’t called you stupid.” Out loud.

    “And for two, well,” he smirked, “teasing you is too much fun, ya know~”

    “You little s-Ow!” Damn it! Samui stopped out of nowhere, letting me walk right into her. She didn’t even budge.

    “Oh, sorry! Are you okay, La-Minnow?” She turned around quickly, brushing her hands over me in search of some injury as if I’d break something just walking into me. If I weren’t busy being annoyed at Touka, I’d be mad at her. Once she was done fussing, she gave me another small smile. “Apologies, I should’ve told you we had arrived.”

    “Yeah, kind of abrupt. And arrived where?”

    A door. Lots of doors in this place, but this one was probably the most dooring door here. Two big slabs of steel slapped together in a wooden door frame that definitely shouldn’t have been able to hold their weight with a weird design inlaid in the front in gold. It reminded me of a revolver chamber with seven slots instead of six, each one marked with a different kanji.

    Immortal. Figment. Celebration. Wasteland. Kingdom. Future. End.

    Hm?

    What the hell? How did I just…Did I just read those? No, I didn’t read them. I don’t know any kanji and could barely speak a word of Japanese, but somehow...I feel like those were right. Like how everyone knows waving a hand means hello no matter the language. The understanding was built into me somehow.

    “What the hell? What’s this room?”

    “Are you okay?” Samui had the fussing tone in her voice again, already leaning towards me again. I waved her off.

    “Yeah, I’m fine, I just want to know what this room is. Something about it feels weird. It makes my head kind of fuzzy when I look at it.”

    “Well, that should be expected, this is th-”

    “The fun room!” What little patience Touka had disappeared with the last of the rolls in his mouth. He wheeled back and kicked the door. I expected him to break his foot. Instead, the doors swung open, letting out a rush of cold air and billows of smoke right into our faces.

    “What the hell, Touka!?”

    “What? All I did was open the door. Standing outside of a room and talking about that room seems dumb. Sam-chan can keep talking if she wants.”

    “Sam-chan?” Samui questioned. She shook it off and she stepped through the fog, beckoning us to follow. I did so, against my better judgement. “As I was saying, this is not just any normal room. This is the Seven Rounds Chamber. The Chamber of the Seven Gods.”

    Almost on cue, the fog thinned to reveal the entirety of the room. It was dark but not hard to see. Torches clung close to the wall, never flickering, maintaining a crown of azure flame that made the black of the wall glean. There were no angles to make multiple walls, forming a single curvature that encapsulated the entire chamber like a bowl. Just like a bowl, the floor sunk towards the center. The center was…

    “What the hell are those?”

    They were gates. Seven torii gates. Several yards tall and wide enough to fit a semi-truck between their struts, all formed into a circle. The horns of the gate curved upwards like those of a demon, capped with gold. From where I stood, I could see the front of four of them. At the center of the bowed roof, there was a kanji, carved out and inlaid with gold.

    Immortal.


    What did it mean? Not immortal. There was something else hidden beneath the word, meaning that slipped through my fingers like water the harder I tried to hold it. Why did I even care what it meant? Samui said this place was the Chamber of the Gods. Was it because of them? Did these gates have something to do with the gods and the ‘game’ V had mentioned? Did I even want to think about him right now? Christmas alive, my head was a mess of ridiculous and unbelievable things right now. Even after yesterday, I was still praying that this was all some kind of hallucination or coma dream that I’d wake up from and return to my boring, comfortable, godless life.

    “Minnow?” Samui said.

    “What?”

    “Are you okay?”

    “Yeah? I’m fine. Just thinking about something.” I said. I paused as I noticed something off about her voice. “Samui, where did you-oh.”

    Samui was still standing by the doorway alongside Touka. I, on the other hand, had managed to trot my way all the way to the center of the room, right in front of the gate marked Immortal.

    “My my, onee-chan, you had us worried there for a second.” Touka said. He left the doorway and joined me in the center. Samui tagged on a step behind him. “You got this weird look in your eye and just started walking. We tried to call you, but you were just out of it. Not really surprising though. This place is kind of freaky like that. This is where all the magic happens after all. Literally!”

    “Magic?” As in magecraft?

    “Mhm! This is the place we were summoned after all. Right there, actually.” He nodded his head to the very center of the room. On closer inspection, I could see faint marking made on the floor inside of a circle. It was hard to make out any more than that but it definitely gave an occult sort of vibe. Very magusy.

    Samui nodded. “Yes. The Seven Rounds Chamber is the very heart of worship in the Temple, though it has experienced very recent...changes.” She looked towards the gates and the torches.

    “So it hasn’t always looked like a sacrificial murder room?” I said. Touka snorted.

    “There have been the occasional sacrifice but it is always done with livestock and only on certain days for certain gods.” She responded plainly if a bit strained. “It is mostly used for prayer and preaching by the High Priestess, though…” Her shoulders sagged.

    High Priestess? First I’m hearing about that. I figured Tall and Bald was in charge of this place but I guess that was something recent. He did introduce himself as a lord of some other place, probably lost in that storm outside...the one closing in on the city…..the one I have to-

    Push it down.

    “Uh, right, I was just joking. It’s a pretty cool room. The gates are new?”

    “Yes, indeed they are.” Before Samui could answer, a voice boomed from the doorway. The devil had appeared, flanked by two lackies. He bent down as he walked through the door, which was pretty fun. Would’ve liked to see that cue-ball knocked against the frame once or twice.


    “Good morning, Lady Menodora, Lord Touka. Samui.” His eyes swiveled, scanning us like security cameras. He paused at Samui, waiting for her to bow, before going back to me and Touka. He bowed. “I apologize for my lateness. There were matters that needed attending after your outing yesterday. That is why, before we begin our purpose here today, I would ask you to refrain from leaving the temple grounds.”

    The way he said it didn’t make it sound like a request. It was like when Mom asked Lio to stop leaving pieces of his ‘art’ around the house. There was no room to say no or negotiate, and there was a silent ‘or else’ hanging in the air. What happened to all that reverence I was getting yesterday or was that an act?

    He continued. “While I understand your curiosity and am honored by your desire to know our people, your presence has caused some issues for our peacekeepers in doing their job. Now that you have seen the city, there should be no further need for you to go beyond the bounds of the temple.”

    While the way he was phrasing it pissed me off a little, I saw no reason to disagree with him. After yesterday, I didn’t even want to see the sky, much less leave the temple. It was still strange and I didn’t fully trust anyone here, not even Samui, but it was better than out there. Eyes holding me down and the sky hanging above my head, waiting to drop.

    I nodded. Touka gave me a look before agreeing as well.

    “Wonderful. Now, we can begin into business proper.” He flourished his arms dramatically, letting his sleeves slip down to his wrists. The doors shut behind him, his lackies holding them closed. “Welcome, once more, Heroes of the Beyond, to the Seven-Round Chamber. A sacred room blessed by the gods on the Day of Epiphany with these seven gates and access to the Beyond.”

    “As you are aware, you were summoned here to act as champions on behalf of the Kingdom of Wa, as the saviours of the last of humanity, meant to face the Trials of the Seven Gods.” He waved a hand around the room, pointing to each of the gates as he spoke. Drama queen. “It is through this chamber and these seven gate that you shall commit such a task.”

    He looked down at me and reached out a hand. For a second, I was afraid he wanted me to take it but he soon used it to designate the center of the room.

    “Lady Menodora, please step into the circle.”

    Why? What’s going to happen? Is this actual a sacrifice circle? Am I being used to summon a demon? I should’ve probably stopped to ask some of these questions, but I didn’t. I just stepped into the circle, feeling a nervous chill wash over me.

    Nothing happened for a while and I turned back to look at the three of them as a red glow clouded my vision. Beneath my feet, the circle burned red. Literally burned, I could feel the heat biting against my skin. I tried to jump out, but my feet wouldn’t budge, as if my shoes had been nailed to the ground.

    I was right. It was a trap. This whole thing was a lie. The panic was a little relieving. There were no gods to face the trails of or kingdoms to save. This was all just a trick to kill me. My heart was racing but I’d never felt more relaxed in my life. I closed my eyes, wishing my family goodbye as I accepted my fate. And then the burning stopped.

    I opened my eyes. I was still in the chamber. Touka, Samui, and Baldy were still watching me. The weight that had been lifted crashed right back onto my shoulders. Fuck.

    The symbol had calmed down to a dull red glow and it was much easier to see the details of it now. Too bad it looked like a bunch of vaguely Satanic nonsense.




    Though, considering the Japanese vibe of the whole country and the distinct lack of brimstone and/or fire going on, this was probably more along the lines of vaguely Buddhistic or Shinto nonsense. Who knows? Not me, that's for damn sure, and I don’t care enough to find out right now. Just letting the disappointment and fear sink back in.

    Then things got very sci-fi.

    Strange images of places I had never been before, of forests and cities and plains and mountains, flashed before my eyes; feelings of relaxation, nostalgia, joy, disappointment, anger, contentment, and more washed over me in a rainbow onslaught; and foreign sensations traced over my skin, hands on my shoulders, arms around my waists, lips on my cheeks. Everything was so vivid. Was this all real or was it just a vision? Some kind of waking dream?

    Simply because something is a dream.
    Does not mean it is fake.

    Shut up.
    I thought I started screaming at one point, but there was no reaction from anyone else in the chamber as far as I could tell. In fact, besides my heavy breathing, the only sound was Lord Baldy giving more exposition! That man just loves hearing himself talk, doesn’t he?

    “The instructions of the gods were this, My Lady: Summon your champion. A long-passed hero from beyond your time and space who shall face the trials in your stead. Support them and guide them and they shall be your strength to reach salvation. Face the Seven and you shall be saved. Stand them in the summoning circle to begin the trial. 90 Days Remain.”

    On cue, the rush of stimuli stopped and I was back in the chamber fully. My eyes were drawn to the tops of the gates. Each was marked with the same kanji on the door.

    Figment. Celebration. Wasteland. Kingdom. Future. End.

    Immortal. The gate that stood out to me most, the golden kanji glowing in comparison to the rest.

    Shén
    .
    ” The unfamiliar word rolled off my tongue with unpracticed ease and began to unravel.

    Immortal. Unending, unchanging, undying. The opposite of humanity in every way, something belonging to gods and legends alone. To know no end. Infinite time. Infinite possibility. But there was more to this than just that. This word was not simple immortality. It was ascendance. Rising above the plain of humanity to scale the mountain of godhood. Becoming more than human. The mountain of godhood. That’s what this was. A mountain for immortals and gods. This was…

    Mountain Oasis of Immortals
    Kun Lun
    .” I spoke and the room shook.

    Samui yelped and fell to her knees. Shimura staggered, saved by his attendants. Touka stood, eyes on the gate as it changed.

    The gold in the kanji bubbled from within and began spilling beyond its lines. It spread, slowly at first, creeping across the bow of the gate to reach the horns. Gold touched gold at the caps and began to bleed down the struts to the floor, pooling beneath it until it began to harden. In place of the gold, the kanji was now filled with a green substance that caught the light and refracted it. Jade.

    The sequence wasn’t done yet though. Fragments began to appear in the air as if shards of glass had been floating around without our notice, now pulled towards the hollow of the gate itself. They collected at the edges, clicking and cracking as they slammed together. To the others, they would probably only see the glass flashing with random colors as they joined, but I saw more and I know Touka did as well. Each fragment held a scene. A river. Resplendent birds running through brush. A bridge leading to a temple. A man playing a flute. A young girl in white listening to the night. Peaches. The images faded from my mind as the final piece came into place, replaced by a final image. A face. One I knew I could never forget.


    ‘Beautiful.’

    Something else flashed in front of it for a moment, but it was gone along with the beautiful woman. All that was left was a massive pane of glass in the gateway. An accidental step forward told me that I was free of whatever had been holding me before.

    “S’not glass.” Touka said.

    “What?”

    “It’s not glass. You can see through glass and that ain’t see through. No torches.”

    He was right. I looked around the gate and saw the blue torches still burning bright behind it, yet the gate showed nothing but raw darkness. This wasn’t a glass pane. It was a window into another place. A dark place.

    It was strange and dangerous, but fascinating. I'd seen a lot of magical shit go down in my life, but this...this happened because of me. I made that happen. It wasn't magecraft proper. Anything like that is far far beyond me, but this only happened because of what I did, what I said. It was magic that happened because of me, so it was may magic in a way.

    My hand reached out shaking, to touch the 'glass', to feel what I had done.

    Was this a good idea? Maybe not but I wanted it. I wanted to touch my magic just a little bit.

    Was there anything wrong with that?

    Choice
    Touch the gateway?


    1. Yes.
    2. No.

    Last edited by Wizard; November 19th, 2019 at 03:46 PM.

  5. #45
    死徒 Dead Apostle zikari8's Avatar
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  6. #46
    1. Mennie knows what she wants out of this - feeling that she's useful and can do things on her own. Why deny her ?

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    First step towards home, we go.
    The Act of dozing off in the afternoon is a luxury indeed.
    Coffee would be nice, though.

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    Rapture (Part 1)

    My, my, my.
    Such recklessness.
    I did not expect that from one such as you.
    Her interest in you was certainly not misplaced.
    Now, proceed with caution, moon child.
    Your trials will now begin.
    Face the immortal god.
    Hear his words.
    Know his names.
    Overcome.
    Good luck.
    Loading...


    Mountain Oasis of Immortals
    Kun Lun
    Everlasting Heaven



    Menodora Strauss
    Location: ???
    Date: 78 days until the Destruction of Shuto
    Time: ???
    Status
    Health: Satisfactory
    Hunger: Full
    Sleep:Well-Rested
    Mental Health: Panicked (Suppressed)


    Menodora!”

    My eyes flicked open. I blink once. I blinked again. It was still dark. Where am I? Am I blind now?

    “I think this is a cave. It has that cavey smell and the walls taste like rock.” That was Touka talking. It sounded like he was sitting a little to my left. Okay, I was with Touka in a pitch-black cave. How did that happen?

    The last thing I remember was touching the gate. My hand pushed through the ‘glass’. It broke and then falling. Someone had been yelling while I fell, getting fainter. A lady. Samui. She had called my name before the darkness came and I fell into a dream.

    V. He was there again, I think. It was harder to tell this time, he was blurry and hard to hear and it was over too quickly. The memory of the dream was harder to hold this time as well, slipping away while I tried to pin it down, just barely able to recall what he was telling me. “Face the immortal god…”

    “Huh?” Touka was closer now, pressing his hand against my head. I quickly slapped it away, though he didn’t seem to mind, sighing. “Are you alright? You didn’t hit your head on the way down, did ya?”

    “No. I’m fine. Just confused.” I paused. “Where the hell are we?”

    “No idea.” His tone indicated a shrug. “When you touched that glass stuff in the gate, it shattered and you fell through. I tried grabbin’ for you, but it sucked me in and shut behind us. Next thing I know, I’m lying face down in the dirty with you.”

    “Think it’s a cave, though, on account of the darkness and the walls. Plus, I can hear wind coming from over that way, so we probably wanna go there.” He pointed.

    I stared loudly.

    “Oh, right, you can’t see.”

    “And you can?” He made a non-committal noise. His presence shifted, now looming over me. I stood up in response.

    I heard him start to move away and shouted. “Shouldn’t we stay here?!”

    He stopped and I continued.

    “I mean, we don’t even know if that’s an actual exit. We might end up walking around in this cave forever. We could stay lost, wandering around, starving to death or dying without water. Not that staying put is much different, but we know it’s safe here. Maybe if we stay here, Samui or Shimura can get us back through whatever we came through.”

    There was a long silence and I actually heard the wind Touka was talking about; a whistling fainter than a whisper. Touka overthrew it with a click of his tongue.

    “Naw.”

    “What?”

    “That’s a dumb idea.” He said matter-of-factly. “I mean, the way you say it, we die either way, so why not die doing something? Sitting around and dying sounds boring, so might as well stretch our legs before we go, right?”

    What?! No, that was wrong! Super wrong! Omega wrong! What kind of sense did that make? Dying sitting or dying walking didn;t matter, both were still dying! At least my plan had a possibility of rescue. His was banking on a noise he could barely hear. That could be miles away or from some hole that is too small to get through.

    I was about to lay all of that on him when I heard him start walking again.

    “Hey, wait! Don’t just go! Stop!”

    He didn’t stop. I reached out to grab him, but there was no response from my feet, frozen to the spot. Instead, the movement went straight to my knees, knocking side to side. Trembling out of my control.

    Damn it.

    It’s happening again. I got myself into another mess and it was my fault this time! Damn it! I just wanted to touch it and now I’m in some weird place again! Idiot! Now I’m scared and I’m going to be all alone and I’ll die in the dark and no one will ever find me and-

    “Upsie daisy.”

    My racing thoughts came to a screeching halt as an arm -- a very muscular arm -- looped around my waist and chucked me over his shoulder. Touka started whistling as he walked, ignoring my valiant struggles to break free from this degrading captivity. Fear bubbled up into indignant rage.

    “Hey! Put me down! I’ll walk, damn it!”

    “Naw, this is faster. Otherwise, I gotta wait for your tiny legs to catch up and we don’t have all day. Or night. Whichever it is. We’ll find out when they get there.” He said and kept whistling. I struggled a little more before settling down. Curse this boy and his physical fitness! Be a weakling, damn it!

    “Put me down!”


    Status Update:
    Panic Suppression Count: 2 Remaining


    Turns out it was day time. Once the cave started getting lighter and the exit appeared, glowing like a doorway to heaven, we figured that the sun was still up. Touka finally wore out and put me down as we made it up the final stretch of the cave. After who knows how long down there in the darkness, the light burned my eyes as we finally stepped out and into the world once more.

    A cool breeze messed with my hair as I rubbed my stinging eyes, slowly opening them to a clearing image of our surroundings.

    We had come out from a cave in the side of a cliff onto an outcropping several yards above the ground. There was no easy way down, but getting down was the last thing on my mind right now. The view from where we were was too good to give up just yet.

    I had seen jungles before. I had been to the damn Amazon, but this was something different. Where the Amazon had a wild beauty that teemed with life, this jungle felt like a piece of art as if someone had painted the landscape with plant-life. A canvas of verdant green brushed over with pinks and purples and reds and oranges, cut through by the stroke of a rushing blue river heading to the center, collecting in a massive lake.

    The lake was the bluest blue I’d ever seen water be. It was like a mirror of the sky shining in the sunlight. But that wasn’t what truly caught my eye. No, that would be the massive palace built at the center of the lake. It was hard to make out details from here, but I counted at least nine red pillars capped with shining silver roofs surrounding a large palace structure.

    Human civilization. The panic had been bubbling just below the surface settled down again. We weren’t alone out here. We weren’t going to die. We just had to cross miles of dense jungle filled with god knows what to get to it. Right. Still in danger of dying.

    “Damn pretty though, right?” Touka said. I nodded. That was definitely true. “Never been anywhere like this before. There were a bunch of forests back home, but they were all pines, all green and brown. Nothing this colorful. Jungles definitely seem more fun.”

    “...I’ve seen some jungles before.”

    His eyes flashed and his smile damn near split his face in half, like a little kid getting ready to sit down in Santa's lap and ask for a Playstation. “Really?!! What were they like?”

    “Um, pretty. Lots of plants and animals.” Menodora, master of words. Damn it, stop looking at me like that, ya dumbass. It makes it hard to talk. “ But I...I don’t think they were this neat.”

    “Neat?” I nodded and pointed down at the area beneath us. A strip of grass a few few wide that separated mountain from the forest. “See that? That’s too neat. The forest there is as dense looking as the rest of it, but stops perfectly at that point. And it keeps going.” My finger traced the strip around the edge of the forest until it bent out of sight.

    “Okay, that’s a bit freaky.”

    “Not even the half of it. Listen.”

    “...”

    “...”

    “ I don’t hear anything.”

    “Exactly. A jungle or rainforest that big and there’s nothing but the wind?”

    “Yeah, that’s weird.”

    “A bit more than weird.” Way more than weird. This whole place gave a vibe that was unfamiliarly familiar; deja vu down to the deepest parts of my soul. It made me itch all over.

    “Kun Lun.”

    What was Kun Lun? Who was the woman’s face I saw? Lord Baldy said all of this was for a trial from the gods, one of seven. This place must be where the trial takes place, but what was I supposed to do? Had he even known what was going to happen or was this the blind leading the blind?

    V’s words echo in my mind.
    Hear his words.
    Know his names.
    Overcome.
    “What does that even mean?”

    “Are you okay?” Touka asked, sounding further away than before. I must’ve been thinking too much, because somehow, without me noticing, the kid had made his way to the edge of the cliff, now hanging off it with one hand poking his head up to look at me.

    “What the hell are you doing?!”

    “Getting down?” He said like I’m the dumbass. “Can’t stay up here all day picking cotton out our brains. Need to find somewhere to make camp and forage for food and water. We’re heading towards that palace, right? We better start hoofin’ it if we want to get there before nightfall.”

    “You want to go into the jungle?!” I tried to push as much urgency into my voice as possible. Jungles and rainforests were nice to look at, but much like the entire continent of Australia, they were death traps made by Mother Earth as revenge for human crimes against nature.

    To that, Touka just shrugged. “We could walk ‘round the outskirts if you want. Stay in the grass and look for somewhere safe to stay and then…”

    “And then?”


    “I dunno, but I feel like doing something. Standing around thinking ain’t my style. I figured you’d come up with a plan, onee-chan. You seem to know what’s going on.”

    How the hell do I know what’s going on?! All I know is that we got sucked through some stupid gate/portal into a cave into a weird silent jungle surrounding a lake with a floating castle, all to complete a trial that I don’t know.



    I guess I do kind of know what’s going on.

    “Well? Whatcha got, onee-chan?”


    Choice: How to proceed?
    Spoiler:

    1. Go through the jungle
    2. Go around jungle and look for a clear path
    3. Try to convince Touka to stay where you are
    4. [Write in.]

    Last edited by Wizard; December 18th, 2019 at 06:22 PM.

  11. #51
    So Many Ideas, So Little Time SleepMode's Avatar
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    2. Go around jungle and look for a clear path
    The Act of dozing off in the afternoon is a luxury indeed.
    Coffee would be nice, though.

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  12. #52
    死徒 Dead Apostle
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  13. #53
    Evil of Humanity Half-Blood Master's Avatar
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    *2*

    Let's hope the bandits random encounter gives us good mats
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    Quote Originally Posted by Faux, December 25th 2019
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  14. #54
    死徒 Dead Apostle zikari8's Avatar
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    2 just seems right yeah


  15. #55
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    It doesn’t feel like she’d pick 1, so mhm, will go with 2 for now.


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  16. #56
    The Great and Powerful Wizard's Avatar
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    Of Foxes and Tortoises

    Menodora Strauss
    Location: ???
    Date: 78 days until the Destruction of Shuto
    Time: ???

    Party Status
    Spoiler:
    Menodora Strauss
    Health: Satisfactory
    Hunger: Peckish
    Energy: Tiring
    Mental State: “Stable(Panic Suppressed)

    Touka

    Health: Superb
    Hunger: Hungry
    Energy: Well-Rested
    Mental State: Stable


    7 7 7 7 7 7 7

    “Touka, stop.”


    “Aren’t you a little cutie?”

    “Touka.”

    “Ya want me to pick ya up?”

    “Touka!”

    “Gosh, your fur is so soft! Menonee, ya gotta feel her.”

    The kid wasn’t paying me any attention; all of that was focused on the little devil nestled in his arms, yipping and yapping as he cuddled it against his chest and pet it like it was a dog. Except it wasn’t a dog, it was a fox. A wild fox that not two minutes ago leapt out of a bush and damn near mauled me! But no, sit there and pet it like a puppy. Traitor.

    “Touka,” I growled, “put that thing down, it probably has rabies.”

    “C’mon, she doesn’t have rabies. Ain’t that right? You don’t have rabies, do ya? Do ya?” He cooed. He tickled the beast under its chin. It let out a satisfied rumble and licked his face, covering his cheeks with slobber. “Haha! No you don’t!”

    I grumbled while he sat there petting and rocking the small fox in his arms. Given its size, it was probably only a baby but it was a dangerous little thing. If every muscle in my body wasn’t already worn raggeded, I’d have grabbed it and strangled it by now.

    After we decided that circling around the jungle rather than walking straight into it was the best idea, Touka and I clambered down from the sheer cliffside into the clearing that circled the jungle and started walking. And walking. And walking. We stopped for a bit and then kept walking. It felt as if we had been walking for hours but the sun had barely moved an inch since we started.

    Touka offered to carry me a few times and I was more than a little tempted to take him up on that offer, but what little pride I had refused to take him up on the offer. As mad as I was about the fox, I wasn’t going to complain about this break.

    Still.

    “Touka, seriously, put that thing down we need to-”

    “She.” He said.

    “What?” I said. He smiled at me, scratching the fox behind the ears.

    “She’s a girl, not a thing. A pretty girl at that~” I rolled by eyes.

    “Fine. Throw her back into the jungle and let’s get going. We still haven’t found a break in the trees or reached the river, and we’re burning daylight. We don’t know what’ll happen when night hits and I don’t want to find out. Who knows how long it’ll take us to actually get to that castle ” I tapped my foot for added impatience.

    He had the gall to raise his eyebrows at me.

    “Really? You want to get back to walking?” He sounded a little too incredulous for my liking.

    “Before Akagane stopped you, you were huffin’ and puffin’ like a train. Never seen anyone sweat that much in my life. At the rate you were goin’, we wouldn'tve need to find the river, you would’ve made one for us.”

    The snark is not appreciated. Unfortunately, I don’t have a very good comeback to any of that. Before I was ruthlessly assaulted, I felt like I was going to die anyway. Despite it being disturbingly unhumid, the unyielding rays of heat from the sun had made sure to punish me for not switching out of this uniform. I had already stripped down to the dress shirt with the sweater around my waist and that had only been a little relief. It was a good thing I wore a dark top underneath.

    Still, if I ever got back home, I was going to invest in a treadmill and walk a mile every day….week….when I feel like it.

    If.

    I swallowed that back to glare at him. “Well, I’m all better now, so let’s get going alright?” Then what he said fully hit me. “Who the hell is Akagane (赤金)?”

    “She is.” He held up the orange devil that was definitely smirking at me this time!

    “You named it?!”

    “Her and no. That’s her name. I think.” He gave her a curious look before shrugging. “Fits though, don’t you think? It means ‘red-gold.’” He grinned from ear to ear, holding the fox out as if he wanted me to inspect her and verify that it was a fitting name, which it was if red-gold meant dark orange.

    It’s annoying how genuine he looks when he smiles and how hard it makes it to be mad at him, especially when he was making fun just a few seconds ago. I sighed.

    “Yeah, sure, whatever, just put her back in the jungle and lets get going, okay?”

    Touka gasped, hugging the fox back to his chest.

    “Menonee! I can’t just leave her alone now! We’ve bonded.”

    “You’ve known her for two minutes.”

    “And that’s all it takes sometimes. You’ve only known me for two days. Would you throw me out into the jungle to survive all on my lonesome?”

    “Since you’re not a fox who was clearly living in that jungle up until now? No.”

    “Then don’t make me do it to her!”

    How. How was this kid who was talking to me yesterday as if he knew all the answers, dramatically walking and talking in the middle of a storm, who made me shiver down to my soul with a look? Did I want that person back? No. Would I like to replace the child pouting at me and hugging a wild fox like a teddy bear? Yes please.

    “Touka. Put that th- her back and let’s go. Unless you’re planning on using her like a snack, we have to go before it gets dark.”

    Touka sighed, standing up. “Aw, c’mon, Menonee. I’m serious, I really like her. She’s a cutie and maybe she could help us out. Lead us around.”

    “She’s a fox, not a bloodhound. Plus she attacked me.”

    “And she’s super sorry about that, isn’t that right, Aka-chan?”

    He held the fox at eye level for me. She hung limply by her armpits, curling her fluffy cream-tipped tail against her pale belly, flattening her ears to her head. A small whimper came from her throat. Her eyes were wide and wet, like a pair of freshly washed chestnuts. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say it was trying to look innocent.

    Was it working?


    Choice

    1. “Fine, keep the little demon.” (Akagane joins the party)
    2. “No, put that thing back where you found it or so help me!” (Akagane does not join the party)


    7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7

    Later
    By the River

    “I’m no expert on rivers and stuff but I don’t think they work like that.”

    Exhibit H on this place being weird and unnatural: the river was coming out of the cliffside.

    Not ‘tumbling down the crags’ or ‘cutting through the rock’ kind of coming out. No, the cliffside was completely solid from top to bottom without a crack or crevice leading beyond. The only opening in sight was a darkened slot that silently unloaded water into the river. If there was any comparison, it was like the chute on a water slide that fires water down the slide to lubricate it.

    In other words, the whole river -- which was at least seven Menodoras wide by Touka’s estimate -- was artificial.

    “Did we land in someone’s botanical garden or something? What kind wacko has an entire lazy river installed?”

    “Wouldn’t really call it lazy. Those rapids look a bit rough for just some swimmin’,” he nodded towards the rapids that seemed to suddenly pillow up a few feet away from the slot. “Looks crazy real though. Ya can even see the currents from the surface, all headin towards that lake. Wonder if there are any fish in there.”


    I cringed. “If there are, I’m not eating any. Not telling what kind of weird shit is in there. Besides, we’re dealing with…gods here. Eating random god stuff doesn’t end well, or so I’m told. ” Ever since I got here, I’ve been trying my best to remember every story, every tidbit, all the anecdotes Elle had told me about gods. Problem is: I have no idea which gods I'm facing or if I'd have even heard of them. Hell, I still didn’t want to believe I’d be facing down honest-to-goodness gods, but I had to face facts and be try to be prepared for anything.

    Even if that anything was mind-breakingly horrifying to think about.

    HOw Am I sUppOsed To fIght a GoD!!?

    “Can’t be worse than starvin’ to death,” Touka said“. A loud rumble punctuated his comment. With nary a cloud in the sky, the only disturbance big enough to make that noise was his stomach.

    “Do you have a tapeworm or something? You ate half of the table of food this morning, how the hell are you that hungry right now?” He shrugged.

    “Growin’ boy.” As if that explained his bottomless stomach. “Can’t we just go into the jungle? Sure I could rustle up somethin’ to eat in there, some fruit or bugs maybe.”

    “Hell no.” My eyes flickered to the treeline not far from us. There I saw examples B-G of why this place was unnatural. I hadn’t noticed it at first because I wasn’t looking for it. Who would bother paying attention to the trees? Once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. But not these. These trees were wrong.

    Their branches twisted and curled around each other, looping and growing off in strange directions, raised high into the air with thin leaves extending off them into the air. The trunks fared no better, curling inwards and twisting strangely. Large lumps developed on the bark; tumors in the wood, which was normal, that often resembles human features, which was not. Taking it all in together created an image of humans that had been combined and twisted into trees. The closest to us looked like two people reaching for one another from the ground and sky, respectively, just barely missing.

    It should be easy to see how dangerous that place was but Touka didn’t seem to agree.

    “I’m not going in there.”

    “Then let me go in by myself!”

    “No! I need you to-to….because I said so!”

    Touka pouted. “Since when did you become my mother, onee-chan?”

    “When did I become your sister?!” Ugh, this boy. “Anyway, if you’re really that hungry, then why don’t you-”

    A rustling came from the foliage behind us. Half my instincts told me to run immediately, the other half said to hide. The two bickered and came to blows before compromising on freezing in place like a deer waiting to be hamburgered by a semi-truck. Good job, brain, glad I saved you from underaged drinking.

    Touka stepped in front of me, pushing me back towards the river in an attempt to protect me. Attempt was the key word since he nearly pushed me into the river and I doubt I’d be able to swim in this state.

    The rustling came to an end as the foliage parted and a large figure came from the shade of the twisted trees.

    Disgust and horror locked my body tight, keeping me from screaming as the figure revealed itself, towering over me and even Touka.

    Its feet were flatfooted, fat logs jutting down from a rotund torso, craggy with scales, partially covered by ragged yellow skirt. Beads clattered against its chestplate of fused bones, barely hiding more of its sagging, scaled grey flesh. The arms were too long, too gangly to be human and its hands were the size of my head, gnarled like the knots on a tree, tightened around heavy staff. A worn black carapace covered its back, over which it draped an orange coat and sleeve. Atop a towerlike neck, its triangular head looked down upon us with black, beady eyes.


    ???

    “Hello there, young ones. Good morning to you. I hope to have found you well.”

    It was a monster.

    Spoiler:
    Status Update
    Panic Suppression Count: 1 Remaining
    “Apologies for intruding but I am a weary traveler in need of aid. It has been many years since I have come this way and nostalgia has gotten me far from the beaten path. The Queen Mothers’s garden is truly a sight for these sore old eyes, it was all too easy for me to lose myself in its beauty and the memories of days gone by.”

    “While I hate to be an inconvenience, if one of you fine young folk could point me in the direction of The Queen Mother’s palace, then gratitude would rival the stars in immensity. Though she has always been a gracious host, the Queen Mother has never been one to trifle with those who do not keep to schedules and I have already promised to arrive before nightfall on this day. Why, in one incident, I recall a young man who….”

    The tortoise’s rambling went on as white noise in the back of mind as I tried to focus on anything besides him. He was wrong. He was not human. It reminded me of home, of Lio and the nightmares he never meant to give me.

    I needed this old tortoise monk or whoever to be gone.

    “Um, sir?” Touka said. Hopefully, he’d tell him we didn’t know or send him away. Far away from me. “If you’re lookin’ for a palace, then why don’tcha come with us?”

    What.

    “Ah. So you were invited as well?”

    “Well, I wouldn’t call us invited but we were summoned here and I’m pretty sure we’re headin’ the same direction as you. If you need help travelin’ then we’d be happy to oblige!”

    What?! NO! No, we are not happy to oblige! I pulled at Touka’s sleeve, warning him against this, but he took it as some kind of agreement, smiling back at me and saying, “Isn’t that right, Menonee-chan?”

    “I-”

    “Just go along with it, Menonee. I know he looks strange, but he seems alright. He definitely knows more about this place than we do, so we can get some more information about it and maybe find out what the trial might be.” Touka whispered (?) to me. Kid was like a damn ventriloquist, not even moving his lips, but speaking right in my ears.

    He was right. This guy clearly knew what this place was. The Queen Mother’s garden. That was already miles more than what we had gathered.

    But even just looking at him is making my heart race, getting my nerves all jumped up, pushing me towards an edge. I’m not sure if I can handle being around him for too long.

    But information.

    But panic.

    Damn it!

    7 7 7 7 7 7 7

    Choice

    1. [Agree to help.] (Mennie and Touka help the old tortoise reach the Queen’s palace).
    2. [Disagree, but help.] (Tell the old man what he wants to know but stay where you are).
    3. [Disagree.] (Don’t tell the old man anything and just leave).


    Update
    Location: Garden of the Queen Mother

    Last edited by Wizard; January 25th, 2020 at 04:33 PM.

  17. #57
    So Many Ideas, So Little Time SleepMode's Avatar
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    "Fine, keep the little demon.”

    Little shit it may be, pissing off sentient supernatural foxes is an even worse deal.

    [Agree to help.]

    If those fables I've listened to as a kid had taught me anything, it's to respect the elderly.
    Last edited by SleepMode; January 25th, 2020 at 05:49 PM.
    The Act of dozing off in the afternoon is a luxury indeed.
    Coffee would be nice, though.

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  18. #58
    死徒 Dead Apostle zikari8's Avatar
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    Last edited by zikari8; January 25th, 2020 at 07:55 PM.


  19. #59
    1. Look. We are one boy and one girl, exploring worlds stranded away from human common sense so we can save another world. We need a fluffy pet to accompany us ! That one probably won't sacrifice herself to resurrect Touka during the final boss battle... Unless... ?!

    1. We probably want to go there anyways, but this way we can rely on a 'sort of' guide for this world and are boosting our positive karma. Besides, he's an old turtle man - maybe he can teach Mennie how to Kamehamea ?

  20. #60
    Evil of Humanity Half-Blood Master's Avatar
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    Let's keep Copper-chan
    Quote Originally Posted by Faux, July 20th 2019
    We gave HBM, of all people, access to a morals loosening field
    Quote Originally Posted by Faux, December 25th 2019
    Senta deserves the right to a life where she gets to choose if she's actually a Nazi
    True Rider
    A wise and beautiful woman who exudes an aura of grace. She is a sly, cunning, manipulative person who always gets what she wants, whether through trickery or ruthlessness. Her own fighting abilities are low, but she should not be trifled with. What does she ride? Men, of course!

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