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A white void stretches from the horizon. Concrete curls under the unseen pressure, crushed into fine dust. You stand in the middle of a crumbling road. Staring into the pale face of imminent death. The earth cries out. Chasms erupt before you, the gray ground falling away beyond your perception. A shrill, rhythmic screech, almost a laugh, fills your ears. A cacophony of bending steel sounds as buildings collapse into ruin.

Deep down, you knew. There was no getting away. No matter how far you ran, how fast, it would eventually catch you.

The scent of coming rain. You’re shaking, being ripped apart at the seams. The very core of your being thrust into the epicenter of the voracious devastation. An incomprehensible voice calls out. Less a call, more a laugh, a chiding.

It was as if the world itself was mocking you. What for? Why? No answer comes to mind.

There was no point in trying. You closed your eyes, accepting the end before you.

---

Your nose itches, but you can’t seem to scratch it. You try to thrust your arm up, but nothing happens.

What was going on? Try as though you might, even with all your strength, you don’t move a muscle.

Simply gritting your teeth was a struggle. After a minute, you finally register your surroundings.

A cold, cave floor. Patches of grassing reaching out just beyond your downed body. Leading to a small lake with rays of light illuminating scattered dust. A second wind invigorates your body as you hoist yourself up using the damp cavern wall. However, after two steps, you trip forward, catching yourself before plummeting into the lake.

You stare at the clear reflection for a moment. What stares back is…

>A short, red-headed girl.
>A tall, red-headed man.
>>
>>5311845
>>A short, red-headed girl.
>>
>>5311845
>>A tall, red-headed man.
>>
>>5311845
>>A short, red-headed girl.
>>
>>5311845
>>A short, red-headed girl.
>>
>>5311845
>A short, red-headed girl.
>>
>>5311845
>>A short, red-headed girl.
>>
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>>5311845
… a short, red-headed girl. That’s definitely you. At least, that’s what rummaging through what remains of your memory confirms.

“Ugh…” You collapse backward, onto a soft patch of grass. Soreness and pain overtake what’s left of your senses. Outside of some specs of dirt and mild discomfort, you seem to be in one piece.

Try as you might to prescribe meaning to that dream, nothing comes to mind. It may have just been that, a dream.

“Where am I?” You stand up, walking around the lake’s edge. Small ripples radiate from the center of the pond. That must mean there’s fish, right? The temptation to devour wildlife rises as your stomach growls.

“I think I can--”

“Hail, stranger! It seems my treatment has worked.”

“Ah!” You jump. “What the hell?” A pivot on your heel and you're face-to-face with a scraggly gentleman. Gnatted, blue-hair tied up in a ponytail.

“I didn’t think a simple Soft would do the trick, but… life’s full of surprises, I suppose.” He shrugs nonchalantly, moving around your body as if observing a specimen. “It seemed being petrified may have given you a few inches.”

Is he insulting you?

“Tell me, how do you feel?”

“Uh…”

“I’ve never dealt with a full-body petrification case before. Do you know how long you were in this cavern? I’d estimate at least over a century or two.” The stranger nods to himself, affirming his own statement.

“I’m… hungry and stiff.”

“Ah,” he says, brandishing a notebook. “I see. Anything else?”

“No?” You tilt your head.

“Good, good! Now, what’s your name?”

“Ah, I’m…”

>Write-in (Custom)
>Look for something that identifies you (Pre-name)
>>
>>5311891
>>Look for something that identifies you (Pre-name)
>>
>>5311891
>>Look for something that identifies you (Pre-name)
>>
>>5311891
>>Write-in (Custom)
Kelman Aritan
>>
>Write-in (Custom) "Sara Sneed"
>>
>>5311891
>Look for something that identifies you (Pre-name)
>>
>>5311891
>Look for something that identifies you (Pre-name)
>>
>>5312034
1
>>
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>>5311891
“I’m… uh…” You pause. That’s peculiar. Don’t you know your own name? You pat yourself down, searching for something, anything that could identify you. Your coat pockets, your cloak, your undershirt.

Ah, there it is. A plastic square, an I.D. card, with your name printed in bold, black letters.

Student ID:
Lorelai Lufaine
Age: 21
Iphigenia University

“Lorelai Lufaine.” The name felt comforting, but at the same time, hollow. Why did you forget your own name? What in the hell happened to you? You cradle the card in hand, eyes half-closed. Anxiety set in.

“Lorelai Lufaine, hm?” The man repeated the name once, twice, and then three times. “Noted. Ah, sorry. I think I should’ve introduced myself first. My name is Bucklin Durancap.” He threw his arm up and then down in an exaggerated bow.

“Bucklin?” That name, however, wasn’t comforting. It sort of left a bitter taste in your mouth. Not particularly sure why. Might just be because your mouth is dry and you’ve got an empty stomach.

“So, how did you end up down here, Lorelai?”

“I dunno.”

“You don’t know, or you don’t know?”

“I’m not sure I follow.”

“Hm… never mind, I doubt you’ve got reason to hide anything from me.” This man, Bucklin, felt like he was looking through you rather than at you. You take a step back and keep your distance. “Oh, no, sorry, sorry.” Bucklin laughed nervously. “I just get excited with these sorts of discoveries, you understand.”

>”There’s a time and a place for being a creep.”
>”It’s no big deal. It’s fine. I forgive you.”
>”Can we get out of here? I’m starving.”
>Write-in
>>
>>5312076
>You've asked your question, so now it's my turn. Do you how to get to Iphigenia University?
Why do I get the feeling that we've been in stone for quite some time.
>>
>>5312105
>"Do you know how long you were in this cavern? I’d estimate at least over a century or two.”
Oh I can't read.
Eh, sticking with my write in, universities can stand for centuries sometimes, look at Oxbridge and the Ivy Leagues
>>
>>5312076
>>”There’s a time and a place for being a creep.”
>>
>”Can we get out of here? I’m starving.”
>>
>>5312076
>"Do you know how long you were in this cavern? I’d estimate at least over a century or two.”
>>
>>5312076
>"Do you have something for me drink?"
>>
>>5312076
>You've asked your question, so now it's my turn. Do you how to get to Iphigenia University?
>>
>>5312076
Questions
>Check if he knows what plastic is
>>
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>>5312076
You want to continue the conversation, to know more about your situation, but you’re still thirsty. “Do you have something I can drink?” You massage your dry throat.

“I do, yes,” Bucklin says, browsing through his shoulder-strapped bag. “It’s nothing extravagant, but here you are.” He brandishes a leather waterskin. You waste no time swiping it from him. The cool water soothes your throat. You tilt it back, emptying the waterskin til it looks like a shriveled raisin.

“Better?”

“Yes, thank you.” You steal a glance at Bucklin as he packs the waterskin back in his bag. “Now that you’ve asked your questions, now it’s my turn.”

“Oh, by all means.”

“Do you know how to get to Iphigenia University?”

“The… name doesn’t particularly ring a bell,” Bucklin says, scrunching his eyes. “Do you know any other details? Perhaps the name has changed in the past century or so.”

“I…” The question stumps you. Outside of the strange dream, and the name of the school, you had nothing to go on. You search desperately through the confines of your brilliant mind for a question. A question that would tell you all that you needed to know about your current predicament.

And, finally, it hits you.

“Do you know what plastic is?”

Bucklin quirks a brow, pondering the question with a hand to his chin. “Can you describe it to me?”

“It’s a synthetic material. Err, I mean…” There had to be a better way to describe it. “It’s a man-made material. Not as hard as metal, but not as soft as clay. You can sculpt into whatever shape you like.”

“Ah, you speak of elysium.”

Elysium? That wasn’t a name you were too familiar with. Definitely not a plastic you’ve ever heard of.

“A material from the far north.” Bucklin walks toward the far side of the cave. You follow him shortly after. “It never rusts and never dulls. It’s as hardy now as it was when it was made centuries ago.”

Whether this was a lead or not, you couldn’t really tell. There had to be more to this than just being petrified in a cave. A reason why you were left here for so long. “So, I can find it--”

Bucklin cups his hand over your mouth. “Shh.” He throws out a hand, barring your entry to the exit. “Quiet.” His eyes dart back and forth. “We’re not alone.”

“Kehehehe!” Shrill laughter echoes through the dimly lit cavern. “We found some, we found some!”
>>
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>>5313041
“Kehehehe!” Shrill laughter echoes through the dimly lit cavern. “We found some, we found some!”

Metal screeches on stone. “Get’em! Get’em!” Green blurs leap out from the sky. Brown, pointed hats swing too and fro. Tiny humanoid creatures stand around you, three in total, with blades drawn. “We got you surrounded! Surrounded!”

You huddle up close to Bucklin. “What are these things?”

“Goblins. Never seen them before?” He smiles, unfazed by your unwelcome guests.

“N-no.”

“Here.” A clasp opens, and Bucklin hands you a small sword. “You’re going to need this.”

“What?” You grasp the blade’s hilt in both hands. “I am? Wait, we’re going to fight?!” This was all moving way too fast. How were you going to fight these tiny things? Just looking at them sent a chill down your spine.

“Look alive!”

INITIATING COMBAT MODE…!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7AnGivXMWQ

Initiative:
Bucklin
Lorelai
Goblin A
Goblin B
Goblin C
____________________
Status
Lorelai (Back Row):
HP: 100%
MP: 100%
Bucklin (Front Row):
HP: 100%
MP: 100%
____________________
Special: Bucklin will act on his own during this encounter!

>Attack: Try to attack with the weapon that Bucklin just handed you. It’s better than sitting around doing nothing.
>Defend: Stay on the defensive to reduce incoming damage. Might be better to let Bucklin handle everything on his own.
>Run: Attempt to get out of dodge. The exit is right there, after all.
>Examine: Look around the room, see if there’s anything that can give you leverage in this fight.
>>
>>5313046
>>Examine: Look around the room, see if there’s anything that can give you leverage in this fight.
>>
>>5313046
>Examine: Look around the room, see if there’s anything that can give you leverage in this fight.
>>
>>5313046
>Defend and try to push them into the lake
>>
>>5312076
Supporting >>5312105 >>5312692 and >>5312786

>>5312353
Uh...anon...the other anon was just noting something the blue haired guy said in an earlier post, which may mean our university may not be around anymore.
>>
>>5313046
>Examine: Look around the room, see if there’s anything that can give you leverage in this fight.

>>5313109
Whoops, not sure how I didn't notice there was new posts.
>>
>>5313046
>Attack: Try to attack with the weapon that ucklin just handed you. It’s better than sitting around doing nothing.
>>
>>5313046
>>Examine: Look around the room, see if there’s anything that can give you leverage in this fight.
>>
>>5313046
>>Defend: Stay on the defensive to reduce incoming damage. Might be better to let Bucklin handle everything on his own.
>>
>>5313046
>Examine: Look around the room, see if there’s anything that can give you leverage in this fight.
>>
>>5313046
>>Examine: Look around the room, see if there’s anything that can give you leverage in this fight.
>>
>>5313046
>Examine: Look around the room, see if there’s anything that can give you leverage in this fight.
>>
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Even with little time to contemplate, your mind moves at an erratic pace. What advantages can you gain from the environment? The lake, of course, but the space within the cavern was pretty open. There didn’t seem to be any obvious advantages just based on your current predicament. The only idea that comes to mind is shoving one of the goblins into the lake.

As you’re preoccupied with your own thoughts, a strange, blue glow radiates from your partner. Bucklin twirled a staff before throwing it into the air. He cupped his hands over his mouth and screamed. (Bucklin used Whistle!)

Strangely, you didn’t really seem to hear anything abnormal as the odd maneuver seemed to suggest. It seemed supernatural, almost like magic.

Two of the goblins hold their heads, their attention fixed solely on Bucklin. (Goblin A & B are provoked to attack Bucklin! Goblin C resists the effect.)

The unaffected goblin was small, and distracted just for the moment. Your stature and strength should afford you the advantage. This was your chance to push him into the lake! Leaping forward with sword in hand, you push your entire weight against the green creature.

“Gawgh!” it cries, arms flailing about as it splashes straight into the water. (Goblin C is doused with water. It’ll have to spend a round to get out of the lake. [Inflicted with Delayed, Drenched])

“Get’em! Get’em! Kill! KILL!” The two goblins move in unison, daggers drawn, toward Bucklin. He tries to track their frantic dance of death. Weaving and leaping through their attacks to find an opening.

He can’t.

“Tch!” The mage raises his staff to defend himself. One strikes true, nicking him in the side. Before he has time to recover, another slashes him in the leg. “Agh!” He cries out, rolling to create more distance.(Goblin A & B damage Bucklin, he loses 25% of his HP from both attacks, leaving him at 50% total.)
_____________
Initiative:
Bucklin
Lorelai
[x]Goblin A[x] (Delayed for a turn, Drenched)
Goblin B (Provoked to attack Bucklin)
Goblin C (Provoked to attack Bucklin)
____________________
Status
Lorelai (Back Row):
HP: 100%
MP: 100%
Bucklin (Front Row):
HP: 50%
MP: 75%
____________________

>Attack
>>(What target? You only have a sword, so you're only real option is single target.)
>Defend
>>(Put yourself in front of Bucklin, or raise up your blade to protect yourself. Placing yourself in front of Bucklin to protect him would switch your row, and you'd eat heavier damage.)
>Run
>>(You can grab Bucklin and attempt to escape.)
>Maneuver
>>(Attempting the same thing like you did before, with pushing the goblin into the lake. Just list out what you want to do following the vote. As long as it's plausible, it can happen.)
>>
>>5314136
>Make one big slash at goblin B
>Don't bother bringing the sword back up, drop it and wrestle the dagger off goblin C
>>
>>5314136
>Attack Goblin B

Just a heads up QM, but in the post you have Goblin C as being the drenched and delayed one, but in the data readout you have it as Goblin A that is delayed and drenched.

Best kill the ones actively engaged in combat before they take out our new found acquaintance.
>>
>>5314136
>Attack
>>(What target? You only have a sword, so you're only real option is single target.)
Goblin A
>>
>>5314211
>>5314136

Ah shit, you're right.

Will fix that in next post. Actually, I'll fix it here.

NEW INITIATIVE[\b]
Initiative:
Bucklin
Lorelai
Goblin A (Provoked to attack Bucklin)
Goblin B (Provoked to attack Bucklin)
[x]Goblin C[x] (Delayed for a turn, Drenched)
>>
>>5314136
>>Attack Goblin B
>>
>>5314136
>Attack Goblin B
>>
>>5314136
>Attack Goblin B
>>
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>>5314136
One goblin was out of the way, which meant you could aid Bucklin against the other two. With sword raised, you sprint to his aid. Inexperience and a lofty hand as your guide, you swing the longsword down, almost tripping over your own feet. Luckily, your target was mid-dash toward your wayward ally.

The sloppy slash finds its mark, cleaving into the goblin’s half-armored flesh. It heaves forward, screaming in pain as it stumbles toward Bucklin.. It staggered in place, trying desperately to turn its attention toward you. Whatever supernatural force pinned its attention to Bucklin didn’t waver.(Goblin B took a big hit, losing 30% HP.)

“Thanks, friend!” Bucklin seems to have gained enough ground to pull out a strange, green liquid. He douses it onto his wounds, seemingly soothing the pain from the fresh cuts. (Bucklin used a Potion, regaining 30% of his HP.)

Afterward, he circles around the open cavern’s space, placing himself closer to you. (Bucklin swaps from ‘Front’ to ‘Back’, reducing incoming physical damage.)

“Agh! AAAHHHH!” In a bloodrage, the two goblins throw themselves forward, wildly swinging their daggers. With the increased distance between the daggers and Bucklin’s body, they have a hard time finding their mark. Their edges knick and prod Bucklin’s body, but fail to make any deep gashes. (Goblin A & B damage Bucklin, he loses 12% of his HP from both attacks, leaving him at 56% HP total.)

The submerged goblin finally makes it back to land, shaking the water off like a dog. It coughs, unsheathing its dagger as it begins its approach. (Goblin C is no longer delayed. It is still inflicted with Drench.)
>>
>>5314364
Against the three of them, you’re not sure how you’re going to be able to get out of here. Running is an option, but the chance of failure is still present. That may mean running into even more if you get out of the cavern.

Bucklin used magic, didn’t he? Was that something he learned to do? Even back home, or what memories you have of it, people couldn’t do things like that. There were stage tricks and the like, yes, but nothing like that.

Raw, primal, powerful.

If you were going to get out of here, then it’d be only natural to want more.

Lightning crackles.

It surges through your mind like rushing river rapids against a dam. It rises, swells within, almost on command.

Your fingertips spasm, nearly losing grip on the sword.

“What’s this?” Bucklin side-eyes you. “That’s… new.”

“You’re telling me!” You grasp the blade with both hands, your knuckles turning white.
______________
Initiative:
Bucklin
Lorelai
Goblin A (Provoked to attack Bucklin [Ends after round])
Goblin B (Provoked to attack Bucklin [Ends after round])
>HP: 70/100%
Goblin C (Drenched)
____________________
Status
Lorelai (Front Row):
HP: 100%
MP: 100%
Bucklin (Back Row):
HP: 56%
MP: 75%
____________________
Actions

>Attack
>Spellblade (New ability. Imbue your sword with elemental magic and strike. The only available element right now is lightning. Deals less damage than the spell, but converts attack damage into damage of the desired type.)
>Black Magic
>>Thunder (Cost: 25% of your MP, deals low lightning elemental damage.)
>Defend
>Run
>Maneuver (Perform a separate action not defined by listed options. Example: Disarming a foe, pushing them into the lake, etc.)
>>
>>5314365
>>Attack
>>Spellblade (New ability. Imbue your sword with elemental magic and strike. The only available element right now is lightning. Deals less damage than the spell, but converts attack damage into damage of the desired type.)
Attack Goblin C
>>
>>5314365
>>Maneuver
>Tell Bucklin to lead the goblins aggroed on him to the lake

Push them all in and have Lorelai chuck a thunder at them, that should fry the lot of them.
>>
>>5314366
Changing to
>Black Magic
>>Thunder (Cost: 25% of your MP, deals low lightning elemental damage.)
Click R
>>
>>5314365
Cast Lightning on goblin B
Focus one down and hope we can scare them off.

I hope there's nothing in the lake that we'll wake up with this
>>
>>5314365
>>Attack
>>Spellblade (New ability. Imbue your sword with elemental magic and strike. The only available element right now is lightning. Deals less damage than the spell, but converts attack damage into damage of the desired type.)
>>
>>5314372
>Supporting
>>
>>5314365
Supporting >>5314372

Say, QM, you wouldn't happened to have run a quest in the recent past that took inspiration from Dark Souls but then died off from lack of players, would you?
>>
>>5314558
Nope, I've never run a quest on /qst/ before. This is the first.
>>
>>5314372
+1
>>
>>5314372
Support
>>
>>5314365
>>5314372 +1
>>
>>5314372
+++
>>
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>>5314365
Lightning at your beck and call? Your eyes drift between the lake and the two enraged goblins. “Bucklin. Can you use that spell again?”

“Yes, I can. What are--” Bucklin follows your gaze to the lake. “Oh ho, I see. Yes, leave it to me.” He understands what you want to do at a glance. He may be a bit weird, but he’s definitely sharp. The blue mage sprints toward the lake, staff tucked at his back. The enrapturing spell blasts out with a resounding scream. (Bucklin used Whistle!)

The two goblins already under the effect of the spell had it strengthened. The straggler, however, remains unaffected somehow. (Goblin A & B are provoked to attack Bucklin! Goblin C resists the effect.)

You watch Bucklin run toward the lake, but there’s no effort made to jump in. He begins walking on the surface, as if the air beneath him were solid. The goblins trail after him, desperately trying to resist the effect once more. The first falls into the water, then the second. (Goblin A & B fail to resist again. Both are drenched and delayed.)

You keep your distance from the last goblin trying to strike you. Lightning courses through your body once again. You raise one hand into the air to channel a strange, unseen energy. This was a thing of fancy. This wasn’t something that wasn’t actually supposed to exist, but here it is, at your fingertips. “Strike, Thunder!” You swing your hand down as if tearing down the heaven’s themselves. Heat builds up in the air before barreling straight down onto the two unfortunate goblins.

Lightning rips through their bodies, charring their armor and burning their skin. They screech and cry, slapping at the water in defiance. Once the lightning storm ends, they float in the water, unmoving. (Goblin A and B get fried, losing 60% HP due to the double damage from being in the lake.)

“A-ah… urgh, um,” The third goblin stands there, his eyes locked on your crackling fingers. “AH! AAAaah! Retreat! Retreat!” Whatever killing intent he had vanished. He drops his dagger and dashes toward the exit. (Goblin C runs away. Goblin A and B seem to be out of commission.)

Victory!

Lorelai Lv.1: XP 25%/100%
Bucklin Lv.3: XP 25%/100%
+200 Gil
________________
Commentary:[b/]:
These guys have a 10% chance to avoid the provoke effect. Goblins A and B have failed both times, but C rolled an 8 and a 1 respectively both times for this effect. This boy is lucky.
>>
>>5315292
Tension leaves your body as the battle finally ends. Bucklin leaps back onto dry land, prompting you to follow him toward the exit. You nod, taking one last look at the two charred goblins before leaving. A part of you felt bad. They were sapient creatures, but they forfeit their right to mercy by attacking you. It made sense to you, but it did nothing to quell your guilty conscience.

Lightning sparks from your fingertips.

I don’t understand this at all.

Awakening from stone, fighting creatures of fantasy, succeeding by the skin of your teeth.

Where am I? What was that?

Adrenaline is replaced with anxiety. Questions barrage what remains of your middling psyche. What were you going to do? How were you going to get home? Was there even a home to return to? Your breaths become erratic.

“Hey. Hey!” Bucklin places a solid hand on your shoulder. He pats you on the back. “Deep breaths. In, out. Okay? I’ll do it with you.”

You do as Bucklin suggests. In, out, in rhythm. After a moment, the fear that threatened to overtake you subsided. You ground yourself back in what you once thought was reality. Fear had its place, but not here, not now. Anything that clouded your reasoning would be detrimental to both you and your new compatriot.

“Thanks,” you say, smiling at Bucklin.

“No problem. Had my fair sure of panic attacks in the past. I know how it is.” He grins, patting you one last time on the back before moving ahead.
________________

Location: Blueshawl Cavern - Entrance

A blue sky greets you as you exit through the cavern’s maw. A dirt pathway cuts through the grassy plain, snaking its way toward the far off horizon. Trees sprout off the trail, dotting the rest of the landscape.

You stare. It felt as though you were looking at a painting, or a monitor. The heat of the sun and gentle breeze weren’t enough to assure you it was real. It was an idyllic image only seen in your wildest dreams. How could something like this exist? Last you remembered, plant life was a commodity rather than a necessity.
>>
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>>5315294
“Lorelai. Hello?”

Nudge.

“Ah,” you mumble, shaking your head. “I’m here.”

“I’m not so sure about that.” Bucklin grins.

“I am, I am,” you say, trying to convince yourself more than Bucklin. “Where are we?”

“Blueshawl Cavern.” He points back at the cave’s entrance. “Suppose you could call it your humble abode, if you’d like.”

“No. I’ve no interest in sleeping in a cave.”

“Old habits die hard, hm?” He laughs to himself.

You ignore the poor attempt at a joke. “That elysium you spoke about. That material. Where can I find it?”

“Up in Elysia, the Boreal Lands.”

“How do I get there?”

“A good crew, an airship, and a lot of patience.”

So, you definitely weren’t going to be able to walk. Good to know.

“Where can I get an airship?”

“A normal airship? Anywhere there’s a port,” Bucklin says, taking a seat on a tree stump nearby. “An airship willing to take you that far north? Good luck.” He leans down, pulling out a map and setting it to the ground. “We’re here, in the Kingdom of Highwind.” He points near a town by the name of Trausburg. It’s a little far from what you can tell is the capital of Highwind, aptly named Highwind. “And Elysia is overrrr…” His hand floats an inch off the page, guiding your vision past Salamand Horde, to a patch of grass, to your knee, then up to your nose. “Around there.”

“Jokes aside.” You sigh. “I’m SOL.”

“Pardon?”

“Shit out of luck.”

“That’s a new one.”

The map isn't something you were familiar with. The landmass was vaguely similar, but that was recalled through your faulty memory. It’s not something you could trust.

“Hmm…” You struggle for answers.

“Remember, if you’ve got any questions, I can probably answer them.” Bucklin pauses, then reaffirms. “Yeah, probably.”

“I don’t know where to start, honestly. Too much is happening too fast.”

Your stomach growls.

Your face heats up. Yeah, you were blushing.

“Still hungry, are we?”

“Y-yes.”

“Well, never fear, I brought a snack with me.”

“Really?”

“Yes, indeed. Here, have a taste.” Bucklin shuffles through his bag again, brandishing a stick that looks like a candybar.

“Uh…” You stare at it. Something tells you it’s a bad idea, but then again, what other options do you have?

>Partake in the strange stick snack.
>Politely refuse.
>Write-in
>>
>>5315297
>>Partake in the strange stick snack.
>>
>>5315297
>Scrutinize his face if he's taking you for a ride
>Break off a piece and try. Be concerned if your hands can't bend it
>Try it. Better to make a fool of yourself here than in a city
>>
>>5315297
>Partake in the strange stick snack.
>>
>>5315297
Actually, I'll switch to support >>5315365
>>
>>5315297
>Partake in the strange stick snack.
>>
>>5315365
+1
>>
>>5315365
+1
>>
>>5315365
Support
>>
>>5315365
>Supporting
>>
>>5315297
>>Partake in the strange stick snack.
>>
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>>5315297
Bucklin smiles expectantly. What was with that look? Is he expecting you to trip, or does he make it a habit of watching people eat? You slowly grip a piece between your fingers. Bucklin’s grin widens as you strip the piece. You put some pressure on the middle, bending it with ease. Satisfied, you nod, and make an effort to ingest it. Bucklin’s cheeks perk up, threatening to displace his ears.

“Oh.”

It wasn’t awful? It actually wasn’t bad. It tastes something like dressed celery. There’s the distinct flavor of pepper in there, too. It’s a weird mix, but it’s definitely edible. “What is this?”

“I call it a Marlboro seed stick.”

“Really? It feels like a vegetable.”

“You… could say that, yes.” He hesitates. Why did he hesitate? That’s not good. That’s not good at all.

“U-uh…” You open your mouth.

“No, no! It’s entirely edible. See?” He takes a piece off for himself and joins you for lunch.

You sigh in relief as a smile of your own tugs at your lips. “Thanks.”

“No need to thank me,” Bucklin says, handing you a second helping.

“It’s just … scary.”

“I can imagine.”

“I don’t really know anything, honestly.” You stare at the ground as you take a seat. “Where I am, or even who. I have my name, but what else am I forgetting?”

“I don’t think anyone can answer that.”

The response was curt, but it was the truth. The person most qualified to answer that question, you, can’t. It doesn’t matter, anyway, pondering the unknown will get you nowhere. The only lead you had was this Elysia that Bucklin spoke about. A land far to the north, beyond the white wastes, is where you would find your answers. Now, that’s another question, were they the answers you actually want? What happens if there’s no way back home? What then?

You hug your knees closely. It finally hit you. It was something the battle put off, but that was it.

You were scared.

“I want to go home… wherever that is.”

“Ah, not to worry.” Bucklin walks over, crouching down at your side. A firm hand clasps your shoulder. “I’ll get you there.”

“Thanks.”
>>
>>5316215
“Now here’s the hard part.”

“What?”

“Where do we go from here?”

“Wait, the way you talked… I thought you had somewhere in mind.”

“Oh, not at all. I play things by ear.” He stands up, stretching his arms high into the air. “If I had all of this planned out, then the adventure wouldn’t be any fun.”

The confidence his gesture instilled wavers, but only just a little bit. This man was someone you could depend on. A bit eccentric, and weird, but definitely friendly. You turn your attention back to the map he laid out. There were a few locales to consider. At least, that’s what it seemed like up until closer inspection. ‘Trausburg’ was only a few miles away from Blueshawl. It was to the north, too. It’s hardly legible on the map. There’s strange smudging on most of the borders.

“Can we go to Trausburg?”

“Trausburg? I… don’t know about that.”

“Why not?”

“Business.”

“What kind of business?”

“I may or may not have … angered a local lord.”

“A local lord? Like, a noble?”

“Yes, precisely.”

“What did you do?”

“Hit on his sister.”

“Why?”

"Because unlike most sheltered aristocrats, she actually has an appreciation for learning... also, she's very cute.”

That was fair. Even so, that does limit your options. Unless you want to trek for an entire day to get to Nestad which is to the east.

>Drag Bucklin into Trausburg and get him to apologize.
>Go to Trausburg while making Bucklin sit outside.
>Take the trek to Nestad with Bucklin. Probably won’t be any problems. Emphasis on the ‘probably’.
>Write-in
>>
>>5316218
>>Take the trek to Nestad with Bucklin. Probably won’t be any problems. Emphasis on the ‘probably’.
>>
>>5316218
>Take the trek to Nestad with Bucklin. Probably won’t be any problems. Emphasis on the ‘probably’.
>>
>>5316218
>Nestad's fine
>But really, you're just going to help me out for the long run? I'm hardly going to be able to pay you back, and judging from your reaction this lightning stuff is good but nothing uniquely special.
>>
>>5316218
>>5316305
Support. What was he even doing poking around in that cave anyway?
>>
>>5316305
>Supporting
>>
>>5316218
>>Drag Bucklin into Trausburg and get him to apologize.
>>
>>5316218
>>5316305
Looks good, supporting
>>
>>5316218
Supporting >>5316305 plus asking what he was doing in that cave.
>>
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>>5316218
Why was he willing to help you out so much? The two of you just met. There’s no obligation tying him to you. Unless there’s some kind of ulterior motive behind it, it just didn’t make sense. “Hey, Bucklin.” You walk side by side with your new friend as you move down the small hillside. “I appreciate your help, but you’re really just going to help me out in the long run?”

He stops.

You continue, “I’m hardly going to be able to pay you back.”

Bucklin contemplates with a furrowed brow. “You’ve already repaid me in full, I think.”

“What do you mean?”

“Confirming my treatment works, being a good conversational partner, as well as the fine display of Black Magic.” He walks ahead of you, hitting the end of the slope.

Black Magic? So that did have a name after all. “Black Magic? So, that lightning stuff I did wasn’t anything special?”

“That entirely depends on the context. For instance,” he says, moving closer to you. “That sword doesn’t have any colored rocks in it, correct?”

You unsheathe the blade and, sure enough, it’s just a metal sword. No colored rocks to speak of. “No, none.”

“There you have it. That magic was all you!”

“Then, what was the magic that you used?”

“Ah ha. I’m glad you asked!” His wide grin returns. “Most refer to it as Blue Magic, but scholars, like myself, call it Azuramancy. The manipulation of the body, through magic, to replicate the natural wonders of the world.”

You follow along for as long as you can, then you’re just lost. “I… see.” So, colored rocks allow people that can’t naturally use magic to use magic. That much is easy to understand. Actually, that does bring something else to mind. “When you were walking on the water earlier. Was that another spell?”

“Ah, my Float materia.” Bucklin pulls out his staff, showing you a blue gem shoved into an open groove. “I lack the ability to cast more conventional magic, I’m afraid. So I make due with what I’ve got.”

Why something like ‘Float’ though? You can deduce its function from just watching Bucklin walk on the lake’s surface. If such a materia existed, then why not something like ‘Flight’? “Why Float?”

“Ah…”

“If magic like that exists, then surely you could find one that could let you fly.”

“It’s not that I want to fly, Lorelai. I just… ah, right, yes, enough about that. Let’s talk about your magic. I imagine you have a lot of questions.”
>>
>>5316618
“I just asked one.”

“You’re really not going to let this go, are you?”

“I did have another question.”

“And what would that be?”

“Why were you in the cave? I doubt you were looking for company.”

“I came from Trausburg. A friend told me to come and check out a strange statue unearthed within the cave.” He says, his hands behind his head. “Our meeting was just a consequence of my wanderlust and curiosity. Nothing more than that.”

“Really?” A part of you is disappointed, despite not really having any expectations. The meeting between the two of you was happenstance and nothing more. Part of it is comforting, too, in a strange way. There was no pretense to rescue you outside of the promise of more knowledge. To understand if his treatment would work. He’s making an effort to understand this new, mysterious stranger he had just met. It’s more of a mutually beneficial relationship than you initially thought.

“Actually, where did you want to go again?”

“Nestad.”

“Oh! If our intention is to walk to Nestad, it’s going to take well over a day on foot.”

“I… understand as much.” The prospect of walking on a dirt trail for more than twelve hours wasn’t an attractive one. “What do you propose?”

“We could hitchhike.”

That was something you hadn’t thought of. Mostly because it seemed like a dangerous idea. If Bucklin is here, it might not be such a bad idea. Then again, after only knowing him for a bit, it’s possible that things might go wrong.

>Walking is the safer bet, even if monsters attack. It’d be possible to fight them off.
>Go with the hitchhiking idea. It might be worth the trouble in the end.
>It might be better to just go to Trausburg. It’s closer.
>Write-in
>>
>>5316619
>>Go with the hitchhiking idea. It might be worth the trouble in the end.
>>
>>5316619
>Go with the hitchhiking idea. It might be worth the trouble in the end.
>>
>>5316619
>Go with the hitchhiking idea. It might be worth the trouble in the end.
Gets us there quicker, and the two of us can probably deal with any creeps.
>>
>>5316619
>>Walking is the safer bet, even if monsters attack. It’d be possible to fight them off.
>>
>>5316619
>Walking is the safer bet, even if monsters attack. It’d be possible to fight them off.
>>
>>5316619
>Hitchhiking
a faster option, no reason to go on foot if you don't need to. We may not even need to worry about getting lodging in the wilderness
>>
>>5316619
>Go with the hitchhiking idea. It might be worth the trouble in the end.
>>
>>5316619
>>It might be better to just go to Trausburg. It’s closer.
>>
>>5316630
>>5316636
>>5316637
>>5316749
>>5316759
>>5316768
We're gonna be underleveled by the time shit hits the fan.
>>
>>5316858
Actually, I'm going to take this opportunity to actually discuss the mechanical side of things, because I imagine you're all wondering what's going on. I'm using something called Super Console as a resolution mechanic, but pretty much everything beyond that is made specifically for the game.

Here's a pastebin for character sheets, inventory, and gil: https://pastebin.com/U8bfFY1Q

If you have any questions on the mechanics side of things, I can answer those as well.
>>
>>5316619
>>Walking is the safer bet, even if monsters attack. It’d be possible to fight them off.
>>
>>5316923
How does element typing work, something like record keeper with multiple elements?
>>
>>5317041
Elemental typing is as follows:

Fire (beats Ice)
Ice (beats Fire)
Earth (beats Air)
Air (beats Earth)
Lightning (beats Water)
Holy (beats Dark)
Darkness (Beats Holy)
Water (beats Lightning)

For the core elements, then you have sub elements like:
Acid (Poison) for spells like Bio, Sonic for spells like Bucklin's Screwdriver, Gravity for Demi, and Nature for certain Geomancer abilities, which don't have corresponding weaknesses, at least in this quest.
>>
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>>5316619
Hitchhiking seems to be the best bet. Sticking around Trausburg with Bucklin is just asking for trouble. It still would have been nice to see the city sooner rather than later, honestly. “Alright,” you say, nodding to Bucklin. “We’ll hitchhike. Not like we have any other options.”

“Ah, perfect. Trausburg is a big stop before Nestad, so we shouldn’t have to wait too long.”

You trust Bucklin’s word as you follow him down to the beaten path just beyond the hills. You begin your long walk toward Nestad.



Bucklin waves passing carriages down. The sun sets a little lower over the horizon.



Two hours pass, and you’re hungry again. At least, you’re sure two hours have passed. You don’t have a watch. Realistically, it was closer to something like thirty minutes. You didn’t pass the time really doing anything except stare into empty space and walk. Too many thoughts dancing around in your head to make sense of today.

“Ah ha!” Bucklin threw a hand up into the air.

What was he excited about? You turn your head over and there’s a big, yellow bird. Two, in fact, in front of a carriage. They came to a stop just a few feet away from you. “Kweh!” The big bird chirps.

“How can I help ya, stranger?” The coachman tips his hat to Bucklin.

“You’re heading to Nestad, are you not?”

“Sure am.”

“Can we hitch a ride? We’ve business in the city.”

“Don’t see why not. Be careful with the goods back there, though.”

“Ah, of course.” Bucklin nods, rounding to the back of the carriage. Is it his natural charms that land him free rides, or is it something you were missing? “Lorelai, get on.”

You snap out of your trance. “Uh, right.”

“Kweh!” The horse bird coos, and lightly pecks your red lockes. You could walk past and be gentle, but that’d be more trouble than it’s worth. “Sir?” You plea for help.

“She’s just playin’. Ain’tcha girl?” The man, instead of aiding you, pets the strange thing’s head. You’re fairly sure that’s just going to reward its bothersome behavior.

“Ugh.” You were on your own. You breathe deep, grip your hair and tug.

It hurt.

A lot.
>>
>>5317283
“Aaahhh…” You grumble, massaging your scalp. You stare down the bird as you pass by. Bucklin assists you up into the rear of the carriage.

“We’re all good back here, sir!”

“Got it! We’re goin’!” With a lash of the whip, the carriage shakes as the wooden wheels grind into the dirt.

“I think that went well.” Bucklin says, peering out the back.

“For you, yes.” You straighten out your hair. “You didn’t get bit by a bird.”

“Why do you think I keep my hair tied up?”

“Because you think you’re making a fashion statement?”

“Not particularly, no. An Azuramancer's last concern is their appearance. It’s all about practicality.”

Taking another look at Bucklin’s hair, it does seem rather greasy. Back home, bathing was a fairly common practice. Was it the same here? “Does that include bathing?”

“What? No, not at all. For a Blue Mage, the body is as unto a temple.” He smiles proudly. “It’s the primary medium of our magic, so we take great care of it.”

“Your hair is still greasy though.”

“You’re really stubborn.” Bucklin rests a hand on his nose. “Fine, fine. I’ll take a shower first thing when we get to an inn. Is that better?”

“I mean, I’m not telling you to do that. If you want to, go ahead.”

“You have a gift for this, don’t you?”

“Gift for what?”

“You’re doing this on purpose.” He leans back against the caravan’s tarp. “You have to be.”

You can’t help but laugh. This felt nostalgic. It felt like you’ve done this before. You think back, back to whatever vestige of memory remains of your life before. The search rings hollow, and nothing else comes to mind but a tinge of loneliness and regret. “I suppose I am.”

“Hey now,” Bucklin says curtly, leaning forward. “That’s not what I meant.”

“I know.” You match his posture, eyes downcast. “It’s been a hard day.”

“I can imagine.”

A silence stirs between the two of you. The carriage rocks back and forth. The only sounds you hear are the yellow birds chirping from the front. It was just the two of you as the sun sat on the reddened horizon.

>Try to get some sleep
>Ask Bucklin a question: What?
>Speak to the coachmen
>Write-in
>>
>>5317286
>>Try to get some sleep
>>
>>5317286
>Pull out whatever else you have in your pockets. Make sure to call the card plastic and nothing else, no need to freak the coachman out
>Do NOT experiment with more magic in a wagon full of merchandise
>Check your currencies and quality of life technologies. Paper bills? Toilet flushing? Air conditioning?
>>
>>5317286
>Speak to the coachmen
>>
>>5317286
>>Ask Bucklin a question: What?
Ask about himself
>>
>>5317392
>Supporting
+
>Speak to the coachmen
>>
>>5317612
Supporting
>>
>>5317286
Supporting >>5317392 and >>5317612
>>
>>5317392
>>5317612
+1
>>
>>5317286
>>Try to get some sleep
>>
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>>5317286
Actual downtime. You weren't expecting it so soon, what with the panic of waking up and all. You could actually relax for a second. You sigh, reaching into your coat pockets to find anything else of note. Lint, a pen, the student I.D. before. A wallet. Wait, you still have your wallet!

One paper bill worth 10$ and some change. Seeing that affirms the fact that you were, infact, a college student. Another I.D. card that had general information like a picture, height, weight, age. Oh, and apparently you were an organ donor. Neat trivia to have, and knowing Bucklin, might end up being a conversation in the future.

Bucklin yawns before speaking, "What are you doing?"

"Checking what I have on me." You take your coat off and shake it. Nothing new falls out. You frown.

"I doubt you have anything of note, considering the petrification." Bucklin crosses his arms. "I'm surprised you have what you got, in all honesty."

"I see." Disappointing. You fold your coat and lay it over your knees. As you glance over your hand again, that tingle moves through your body like a current. The sensation of magic. You close your hand and unfurl your fingers. A temptation set in to practice it. That’s a bad idea, given your current location. You didn’t want to be at fault for burning an innocent man’s cargo.

This world seems to be, at the very least, in the medieval era. Carriages drawn by strange, overgrown birds. The lack of plastic is already quite telling. Your suspicions wouldn’t really be confirmed until you and Bucklin arrive in Nestad.
____

After about thirty minutes, you realize how much you took technology for granted. An air conditioner would be fantastic right now. You fan yourself with your hand in hopes of quelling the sweltering heat.

Not a second later, your wish seems to be granted. Cold air drifts from your fingertips. You stare at your hand. It was convenient, like before, so it really wasn’t worth questioning. Not right now. You continue fanning yourself, feeling the cool breeze wash over you.

“Is that Blizzard?” Bucklin perks up from his book, wiping some snow off of his knee.

“Oh, sorry!” You jump up. New snowflakes melt as they make contact with the floor. “I didn’t realize I was bothering you.”

“No, you weren’t. I just find it fascinating. Were you trying to cast this?”

“Not necessarily.”

“Well, either way, I’d be careful. Casting spells like that can be deceptively exhausting.”

“Right.” You cease casting the aptly named’ Blizzard’. That begs the question, how much did he know about this? He utilizes his own magic, but from how he talks, there’s a strict difference between Blue Magic and Black Magic. The only real difference you can tell is that Blue Magic ‘uses his body’. What makes Black Magic different? It seems like the energy is coming from inside of you. “Hey, Bucklin.”

“Yes?” The book clasps shut.
>>
>>5319508
“What’s the difference between Blue and Black Magic? I mean, aside from the ‘conduit’ thing you mentioned earlier.”

“Well, if you want an easy answer… Black Magic, and White Magic, to an extent, is akin to loading a crossbow and firing it. That is, if you consider your ‘mana’ to the bolt. Blue Magic is like throwing the bolt with your bare hands. It’s not going to go very far, so the body has to be trained to handle that strain.”

The analogy made some sense, but without full context, it still went over your head. “So… what you’re saying is Blue Magic is better than Black?”

“Not really. It’s more that Blue Magic requires different steps to achieve the same results.

"To go a bit more in depth, everytime I use Blue Magic, I'm changing an aspect of my body in some respect. I'm emulating monsters, after all, so that's a given." Bucklin smirks. "Most other magics only require a focus. Be it a staff, a piece of materia, or a person. In actuality, I would consider Black and White Magic far more convenient than Blue."

“So, using magic is safe, at least for me?”

“Yes, the only thing you really need to be scared of is exhaustion.”

“What about you?”

“I’ve heard stories of Azuramancer’s transforming into monsters, or worse.”

“Oh.”

“Ah, no!” Bucklin panics, waving his arms. “That’s after gross misuse, mind you. That’ll never happen to me.”

You sigh, “That’s a relief.” You were worried, but you could only take him at his word. “You seem to know a lot about magic.”

“Yes, well, I spent a lot of my formative years studying.”

“You said that Black Magic was more convenient. Can you use it?”

“Not at all.”
>>
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>>5319509
That was interesting. Does that imply that people can be born with an affinity for one type of magic, but not others? “Why’s that?”

“Not quite sure myself. It’s not that I never tried. A lot of my childhood was spent experimenting. White Magic, Black Magic, Green, you name it, I tried it.”

“You only found success with Blue?”

“Yes. Much to my friends’ chagrin.” He chuckles, his eyes drifting to the setting sun.

“Really?” That was a surprise to you. “It seems really useful. You saved my life, after all.”

“That was your endeavor as much as it was mine, Lorelai.”

You shake your head. “No. I’m grateful to you. I’d still be stone if it wasn’t for you.”

“Ah.” He hesitates and places a hand over his eyes.

“Are you okay?” You place a hand on his shoulder.

“Y-yes.” His hand shakes as he turns away. He turns back, cheeks wide with a radiant smile. “It’s nothing, really! I imagine you would’ve thawed yourself out in no time.”

It was hard to tell if that was genuine, or if he was hiding something. Prying now probably wasn’t the best idea, either way.

“Well, thank you, all the same.”

“No problem.” He laughs. “I’d do it again, preferably without the goblins this time.”
____

Location - Nestad, City of Stone

Wooden fences gave way to cobblestone walls. The wayward dirt trail blends into the main roads of Nestad’s elevated suburbs. A city of rock and ivory spreads out before you. Spires lit with flame rising and falling with the turbulent hillside. Caravans pull in and out, stopped by a checkpoint just before the city’s entrance. Guards wearing ornate plate armor wave the merchants in one by one.

Far more hectic than you thought, given it was the middle of the night. It feels a bit extraneous, even if you weren't familiar with how things were run here. What was even going on?

“They’ve got a checkpoint set-up?” Bucklin mumbles. “Dammit.”

“What’s wrong?” You match his whisper.

“This is my fault. Trausbrug would have been easier, but we can work with this.”

“Hmmm…”

>Suggest hiding in the caravan, perhaps the soldiers won’t search it.
>Ditch the caravan and try to find another way into the city.
>Just act normal, don’t raise suspicion, deal with the consequences as they come.
>Write-in
>>
>>5319511
>>Just act normal, don’t raise suspicion, deal with the consequences as they come.
>>
>>5319511

>Just act normal
Also, see if we can't find less conspicuous clothes before the guards arrive
>>
>>5319511
>Just act normal, don’t raise suspicion, deal with the consequences as they come.
It's not like they plan to execute Bucklin, right? Is there even a law against banging someone's sister, enforceable in another city?
>>
>>5319511
>Suggest hiding in the caravan, perhaps the soldiers won’t search it.
>>
>>5319511
>>Suggest hiding in the caravan, perhaps the soldiers won’t search it.
We look odd, Bucklin does not. Hide inside the caravan and have him bullshit our way out if we run into trouble.



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