CLASSIC: Blue Shift



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Cassette-Disk

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IIIIIIIT'S NANO TIME BOYS AND GIRLS. OH BOY OH BOY. Consider this a CLASSIC side story. I'll be posting everyday (hopefully) with whatever I've written in a single sitting. As always, this is just a draft and will undoubtedly have grammar, spelling, and probably even continuity errors. Whoops. Hopefully I'll be able to actually write every day. That'd be just swell! ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ (current word count: 1,714/50,000. Word count this sitting: 1,714. Off to a good start!)
---

The town of Azure was silent in the early morning light. The only sound heard throughout the cobbled streets were those of the patrolling knights, keeping watch over their charge. Their heavy foot steps clanged against stone rhythmically. The noise eased the residents in their sleep, reminding them that the capital of Blueshire was safe under the watch of both the Royal Guard as well as the Sword Guild. Among the tactical and trained steps was a lighter set of feet that pattered hurriedly along the city streets. They belonged to a young tan man. His black hair matched the simple hooded robe he wore, which was only buttoned at the neck and revealed the brown leather armor underneath. The young mage swiftly walked through the main street, though paused when he reached a patrolling knight. Her iron armor and sheathed sword intimidated the mage, but he pressed on regardless.

“Excuse me, where might I find the Sword Guild's headquarters?”
“Keep going down this road and make a right at the third intersection. It'll be the largest building there, you can't miss it.” The guard glanced over the mage as she answered, ascertaining everything she could about him. “You aren't a warrior, are you?”
“No. I practice the magical arts.”
“I see. So you're from the Library, I take it?”
“That's correct. I've spent most of my life inside. Being out now is so...odd.” The knight let out a hearty laugh at his conflicted face. It was true, however, that he had spent his time within the Magical Library. He was well aware of life outside the walls, but had yet to experience most of it himself due to the studying and training he needed to be proficient at spell casting.
“Sorry, I'm not laughing at you,” the knight wiped away a tear, “it's only that most mages I meet say the same thing. It's a bit astonishing. And a tad worrying.”
“I take no offense, however I must be going. I have an appointment to keep.”
“Of course. Please take care.”


The young mage turned the corner as instructed. He could clearly see the large brick building as he had made his way towards the intersection over the fences, but was still taken aback by the sheer size of it. The knight had said it was the largest building on the block, however she had failed to mention it was also the only building on the block. It's colossal size overtook the entire street, as well as the area behind it. It was largely closed off and the only entry the mage could see was through the front. Much like the Magical Library he was so accustomed to, the Guild was also well-guarded. Aside from the simple brick fence that encircled the perimeter, he could also hear the familiar sound of heavy, armored footsteps patrolling the building. The gap between the fence was, naturally, guarded by two knights. Just beyond them was a short walkway between the green grass that encompassed the building. The entrance to the large square building was guarded by yet another knight. The boy let out a shaky breath before approaching the two guards.
“Business?” The one on the right asked.
“I have an appointment with captain Alma.”
“Ah, you must Zachary!”
“Yes, that's correct,” he answered as steadily as he could. Zach's nerves were getting the better of him. He had never been inside one of the Sword Guild's headquarters before, let alone the main base within the capital city.
“Please, enter. Captain Alma has been expecting you.” The two guards stepped to the side and allowed Zach entry. He silently walked through the gate and along the path. Zach wasn't sure if the guard in front of the door had heard the previous conversation or not, but he stepped aside without a word.


The interior of the building was much more simple than Zach had expected. In the Magical Library, there were showings of power and pride along the walls. Endless rows of books towered every which way and relics used by famous mages throughout the centuries were in full display. The Sword Guild was much more conservative and plain. The room he had just entered had a few benches against the walls as well as paintings and plants for decoration. Swords and shields were among them as well, placed on the walls, but they held no significance as far as he could tell. They were mere ornaments. A large desk sat besides two grand staircases, with a secretary rummaging through various papers. The whole place reminded Zach more of a business than a guild.
“Excuse me,” Zach approached the bespectacled woman working at the desk, “I have an appointment with captain Alma?” The woman didn't look his way and instead reached below his field of view. She brought up a giant blue binder that made an outstandingly loud thud noise when she placed it down and opened it. “Um. Sorry,” Zach continued, “it's important that I speak to captain Alma.” Instead of answering, she plopped down the majority of the thick sheets and reached the end of the binder. Her finger traced through some of the lines of text before finally speaking.
“Zachary Cain?”
“Oh! Yes. That's me.”
“Right this way, if you would.” The woman stood and made her way to the right hand staircase. Without another word, Zach followed behind as they climbed to the second story. From here, there were various windows that lined the wall, revealing that beyond the walls was an outdoor training area in the center of the building. Unlike the front of the Guild, the ground was mostly firm concrete and Zach could easily make out a number of people with weapons. Some were sparring, others looked over equipment, and others yet lined up in groups and practiced techniques. The early morning sun had not yet overtaken the buildings, and the dim atmosphere left an impressive impression on him. As he walked along the carpeted floor and watched the Guild members practiced, he realized why the first area felt the way it did. The Guild acted as a sort of militia for the people of Blueshire. The Royal Guards handled national affairs but rarely dabbed into more simplistic problems. That's what the Sword Guild was for. Here, anybody could enter and request help for things that would be considered to be beneath the threshold of the Royal Guard. Whether it be bandits, monsters,or public strife, the Sword Guild would be able to help citizens with trust. That was why the entryway looked as if it was a waiting room: it simply was. The second floor showed off the commitment of every single member of the Guild and the promise of a job well done. Zach smiled to himself. He had been requested by the captain of the Seventh Division. The idea that the Sword Guild had reached out to an outsider felt like an honor to him and he only hoped he would be able to do well in whatever prospect he was needed.


“Right this way,” the woman took a turn away from the windows and Zach trailed behind her, giving the training area one last glance. The short walk through the hallway ended when the woman stopped besides an unassuming door. “Right in here,” she told him.
“Oh, thank you.”
“It was my pleasure. If you'd excuse me.” Without waiting for an answer, she left the way they entered, leaving Zach alone. He hesitated. Should he knock? Just barging in would be considered rude, after all. He brought his knuckles against the door and tapped three times.
“Yeah? Come on in,” a male voice answered. Zach inhaled deeply in an attempt tho sooth his nerves before opening the door. Waiting for him were two people: a male and female. The man wore red armor and had sun-kissed skin. His black hair was short but still managed to look somewhat wild, as if it would be impossible to keep down straight. His smokey grey eyes darted to Zach as he walked in. Captain Bryer Alma was also known as Blueshire's Lionheart. His mother, Mylene, was one of the most powerful swordsmen in the nation and had made a name for herself with her incredible speed. 'The Scarlet Lightning Bolt' was the title she had earned due to her fiery red hair and armor. Captain Alma followed in her footsteps and, from Zach had heard, he was beginning to earn his own reputation as a formidable swordsman in his own right. Besides Captain Alma was a pale woman Zach instantly recognized. She wore a similar hooded robe as himself, though hers had golden linings along the buttoning areas, marking her as an arch mage. Her pale skin and wavy black hair only cemented his guess at who she was: Alicia Reignhart. A powerful sorceress who specialized in necromancy and dark magic. She was well-respected among the magical community and for good reason. Just being in the same room as her was enough for Zach to sense the immense magical aura that surrounded her. It gave him goosebumps.
“Zachary! I'm glad you could make it,” Captain Alma said happily, “thank you for coming on such short notice.”
“It's nothing, Captain Alma.”
“Just Bryer is fine, Zachary.”
“In that case, just Zach is fine, Bryer.” Bryer smiled in response. Zach wanted to greet Alicia as well, but was far too nervous to even meet her gaze. Thankfully, she spoke up, saving him.
“Hello, Zach. I hope you are well?”
“Yes, ma'am. It's nice to see you once again. I don't think you'll remember but you've helped me various times in the Library while I was studying.”
“Of course I remember. Zachary Cain, specializes in hexes, curses, and cures. You were a quick learner.” Zach felt his cheeks flare up at the slight complement but said nothing. “In fact, it was I who recommended you for this assignment.”
“Assignment?” Zach was more than curious now. He had very few experiences working out on the field, but was more than willing to help, especially if someone like Alicia had recommended him. “What's this about?”
“Well, it's a bit complicated,” Bryer rubbed his chin in thought, “grab a seat and I'll fill you in.”
 

KingdomKey

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I'm totally fangirling right now. <3 Zach, you're so cute when you're timid! <3 I like the compliment Alice gave him. I'm either assuming it was a typo, or I'm no longer assuming this is the same 'Alice' instead she's 'Alicia'? I continue to forget if all the rules from before are gone now. So if it's Alicia, I'll get used to it. XD I like how a thick blue book is needed to confirm Zach is the guest needing to come by the Sword's Guild. Can't wait to read more. XD <3
 

Cassette-Disk

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I’m a bit late with this one. I guess I should write as soon as I wake up when I’m able to and make it a habit but I’m so unmotivated in the morning! Oh well, as long as it’s done, right? In this writing: EXPOSITION AND A TON OF DIALOGUE YAAAY. (Current word count: 3,402/50,000. Words this sitting: 1668. Keeping the pace!)
I'm totally fangirling right now. <3 Zach, you're so cute when you're timid! <3 I like the compliment Alice gave him. I'm either assuming it was a typo, or I'm no longer assuming this is the same 'Alice' instead she's 'Alicia'? I continue to forget if all the rules from before are gone now. So if it's Alicia, I'll get used to it. XD I like how a thick blue book is needed to confirm Zach is the guest needing to come by the Sword's Guild. Can't wait to read more. XD <3
I'm glad you like Zach so much! I want to try and develop his character with simple goals as we move forward and give him some unique traits I don't usually show too often. Probably. Maybe. idk i just write. And nope! Alicia is Alice's full name! Alice is a nickname though it wasn't originally when I first started writing CLASSIC so I don't blame you for not being able to keep up. x-x

---

“Before I became a captain, there was someone else who was a prime candidate for the position,” Bryer began. Zach sat on the wooden chair in front of the desk, intrigued at the sudden history he was learning. “She was just as strong and as fast as I was. Her sword-work just on the same level as my own as well. We were neck and neck for the promotion and were both eager to prove ourselves.”
“Did you beat her in a duel?” Zach couldn't help but interrupt, his curiosity getting the better of him.
“I never got the chance. Before we were to be tested the other candidate had a final mission she needed to complete. Once she returned, we were to be placed through various examines and exercises to test who would be the better leader. She never returned and was presumed dead, so I was given the position.”
“Oh. A bit of a lucky break, huh?”
“The other candidate was my sister.” Zach grimaced before covering his face with both hands.
“S-sorry. I'm sorry.”
“About a year later, Lili appeared as if out of no where. We all thought she had died but somehow, she just reappeared. It was like magic. Unfortunately, not everything was how it seemed.”
“What do you mean?”
“She was unharmed physically, but her mind had been...damaged. We didn't notice it at first but there were signs I should have noticed. I was just so happy to have my sister back, I didn't pay attention.”
“Captain Alma, where is this going...?” Bryer cleared his throat but said nothing for a few seconds. Finally, he spoke up only to pass the narrative.
“Alice?”
“Of course.” Alicia answered instantly, as if she had been expecting it. “For weeks nothing seemed out of the ordinary, however an incident occurred that drastically shook everyone involved. There had been reports of bandits terrorizing a nearby village and three suspects were brought into the Guild for questioning. Though the Sword Guild had first suspected them to be the bandits, the three men were actually innocent. The true culprits were apprehended just before they were to be interrogated. The interrogation was to be held by Captain Bryer Alma and Major Lili Alma. Bryer arrived later at the scene with one Emily Pale.”
“Wait. I'm confused,” Zach rubbed his thumb against his cheek in thought. The way Alicia was speaking reminded him heavily of a written report. He briefly wondered if she had just memorized it all and was simply regurgitating it. “You said he arrived later at the 'scene?' What does that mean?”

“When Bryer and Emily arrived, the three men were dead.” Zach stood from his chair, though he hadn't noticed himself doing so. “They had been tied to their chairs and tortured, then eventually murdered. In the middle of the room was Major Lili Alma, covered in the blood of her victims.”
“She...killed them? But they were innocent, weren't they?”
“She didn't know that,” Bryer answered, his voice shaking slightly, “In her mind, they were the bandits and she was trying to get information out of them. When they wouldn't talk—or in this case, couldn't talk—she started torturing them for the information. When I saw her standing in that room, knife dripping in red liquid... I knew it wasn't my sister. I should have seen it before. Her eyes were devoid of the person I once knew.”
When Bryer paused for too long, Alice pressed on, “According to both Captain Bryer Alma and Emily Pale, when Major Lili saw her brother, she told them: 'They wouldn't talk, brother. I tried so hard. Even when they spoke, I knew they were lying. So I decided that they if they weren't going to talk, they weren't going to do anything. I'm sorry brother, I tried. Can you forgive me?' The room was covered in blood and Major Alma was arrested at the scene.”
“I...kind of remember reading something like this in the newspapers a few years ago,” Zach said, “I think I read that it was the work of a rouge member of the Guild?”
“That was what the report said, yes,” Alicia answered, “and when Major Alma was brought before a judge she was stripped of her rank, banished from Blueshire, and was sentenced to death. Her execution was to be held two days after the murders. However, she somehow escaped the Guild's custody and fled.”
“The article I read said she had paid for her crimes!”
Bryer sighed angrily, “That was written so the Guild could save face. The truth was that she ran away into a neighboring nation. Imagine if she had stayed in Blueshire and hurt someone else. Then what would happen to the Guild's reputation?” Alicia raised an eyebrow at Bryer's statement.
“That aside,” she went on, “the locks on her cell were disintegrated. A powerful magic was at work, suggesting a third party but there hadn't been any clues. There had been sightings of her within Fayfield but she has remained at large.”

“I think I see where this is going,” Zach said. He didn't like the road that had paved itself in front of him, but at least it was now visible. “You want me to find Major Alma?”
“Not by yourself of course. But its something like that, yeah,” Bryer nodded. “We've gotten a lot of reports from an acquaintance of mine that Lili has been seen multiple times in a forest village in northern Fayfield. I'm going up there to find her and I want you to come with me to help.”
“Yes!” Zach closed both of his fists and pumped them into the air. “Of course! Anything I can do to help! I'm incredibly grateful and humbled that I was your first choice for this!” Adrenaline raced through Zachary's veins. The high he felt was incredible and he thought he'd never settle back down.
“You were not,” Alicia stated. Just like that, he crashed into Earth.
“I...sorry? W-what?”
“You were not the first choice. Nor the second. In fact, you were the fourth in line.”
“O-oh. I see.”
“You didn't have to tell him that, Alice!” Bryer scolded. She only picked sipped from a tea cup in response.
“Regardless, I'd be more than happy to help! Although I'm curious as to why Alicia isn't helping you with this?”
“She's too well-known. The village we're heading to is filled with mages and faeries. The second they see her, everyone will know we're out there and Lili will be even harder to find. I still need someone with magical experience to help me in that village, but it can't be Alice.”
“I get it. You need to keep a low profile. So what do you want me to do? Slow her down with a hex? Imprison her in flames?”
“What?! No no, nothing like that! I just need you to talk to the locals. They won't trust me, I have no real magical power.”
“You have the potential for it, if you just applied yourself,” Alicia noted.
“But I don't, and the villagers will only openly talk to mages.”
“So... wait,” Zach's heart dropped at the realization he had arrived at, “I'm...only going to be helping you find her? Not help you fight her?”
“Of course you're not going to help fight her!” Bryer blurted out, “she's far too dangerous! As soon as we find her, you need to back away and let me handle her. Do not engage her under any circumstances.” Zach felt his enthusiasm plummet. When he had been called in by Blueshire's Lionheart for a request, he expected to be placed into action. To be thrust into combat and become a partner for Captain Bryer Alma. Instead he was basically running errands for him.
“I understand, Bryer,” he said.
“Great! Thanks so much for this. It means a lot. With your help I might be able to correct my mistake.”
“Anything to help,” Zach responded.

The office door closed behind Zach a few minutes later. Bryer had told Zach to return to the Guild the next day at the same time in order to leave for the village. As he walked back down the hall, Zach couldn't help but admire the trainees in the outdoor arena. They had exciting lives waiting for them. Thrilling duels. Daring escapes. Bold choices to be made. All the studying Zach had done suddenly felt so trite and pointless. What was the point of arcane wisdom if he wasn't going to do anything with it besides impress a few villagers living in the forest? “I should have been a swordsman,” he sighed to himself before walking down the staircase. As he exited the Sword Guild, the same guards from before easily stepped aside, letting him back out. “Then again, what if I got stuck as a guard?” he mumbled once he was out of earshot. “I guess it could be worse.” Zach kicked a rock as he made his way back to the hotel he was staying at. The sun had finally risen and baked the streets in its morning light. The sky was blue and full of promise, and Zach couldn't help but hope he could have something exciting happen to his life. Something he could be proud of, or show others. He sighed once more. He would have to start small. A favor at the Sword Guild could turn into something wonderful, and he was more than willing to put the effort into it. Still, the fact remained that he had a long road ahead of him, and he knew it. It was frustrating for him to think about it, but instant gratification was just never an option. It wasn't an option when he first began studying to become a mage, and it isn't an option now. All he could do was move forward.
 

Cassette-Disk

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uuuggghh. Wrote this earlier in the day with the idea that I'll finish it up when I got back home from work. Bad idea. Too tired to write. I'll have to write some extra later to pick up the slack. (Current word count: 4,117/50,00. Words this sitting: 714. Pretty short on the goals, but I can bring it back later!)
---
The sun had risen high in the sky when Zach decided to have lunch. He had spent the morning reading a book in his room, but his eyes had began to strain and he needed a break. Just as he closed the book, there was a knock at his door. For a moment, Zach wondered if it could possibly be room service. He had yet to actually place an order but he figured maybe the hotel ran on a schedule and gave their guests food at certain hours throughout the day. More than likely it was a guest, but who? Zach placed his reading material on the coffee table and made his way to the door. He peered through the peephole and felt his jaw drop. Waiting for him was none other than Alicia Reignhart, still wearing the same hooded robe from before. Zach opened the door without hesitating.
“Alicia! Hello!”
“Zachary,” she greeted simply.
“Um, would you like to come in? I don't have much to offer but you're more than welcome to enter.”
“I appreciate the thought, but I must decline. I'm here on a short business errand.”
“A business errand?”
“I'm here to brief you further on your destination. We have told you very little of the village you're going to.”
“It's the village of Trillin, isn't it? You mentioned it was located in a northern forest in Fayfield, almost by the ice caps. That, along with the fact the locals will only speak with those in touch with the magical arts must mean it's Trillin. Or at least, that's what I figured from my knowledge of the land.”
Alice smiled, “Very astute. Had I known you were already aware of the location I would not have arrived here.”
“There's one thing I don't get though. If you think Major Alma—”
“She's no longer a Major,” Alice interrupted.
“Right. Sorry. If you think...uh, Lili is hiding in Trillin, then how is she hiding in the village? The residents don't trust anyone without a strong sense of mana so how could she be there?”
“You're thinking about it in an incorrect manner. We do not believe she is hiding within the village, but around it. If you're aware of Trillin then you also know the houses are built along the ample and thick trees. Surely Lili would be able to find a place to hide along the floor of the forest.” Zach blinked.
“So the trees in Trillin truly are as large as the books say?”
“The trunks of some of them expand well beyond the Sword Guild's main building.”
“Incredible! I thought those descriptions were just exaggerations!”
“Nothing of the sort.”

Zach recalled the vague memory of Trillin. When it was first constructed, the monsters that filled the forest were destructive and more than willing to attack anyone who approached. That was the reason the village was built along the trees, to avoid any and all monsters. There were even safety nets made out of rope below the village in case someone fell. There was no electricity there, the water the residents gathered was from the frequent rainfall and each house has a series of troughs on their roofs that channels the rain into storage barrels while illuminating the night was accomplished by odd glowing flora that are used as lanterns. The trees have a layer of foliage so the entire forest always looks green, but the massive trees never blocked the blue sky. The houses and trees connected via wooden rope bridges. The bridges not only connect houses but they also lead to various other landmarks that are used by the community, like parks and safe drop zones where wooden pulleys are used to reach the ground below, and vice-versa. Even before one would reach the village, various wooden platforms are placed throughout the forest to reach higher elevation. Though this was originally done to avoid the monsters, in the current age the monsters in the Trillin Forest became more placid and almost kind. It was unusual to hear of monsters attacking travelers and many speculated that this was due to the fact that the villagers had lived there for centuries. The monsters simply became accustomed to their neighbors and grew complacent.
 

KingdomKey

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Lili is still considered a bit frightening based on what she did to the innocent men she captured. I wonder what happened to her to become mentally unstable? Furthermore, it must of been really hard for Bryer and his parents to know she'd be executed one day for her crimes. And Zachary, I'd be surprised if room service works that way in a hotel. lol. In the meantime, I like that Alicia stopped by to inform him of where he's going. :3 I look forward to seeing what happens next! And you're doing great so far with NaNoWriMo!
 

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Okay, took me a while to read them all in one sitting and I've got to say this is awesome! :D I absolutely love this CLASSIC universe you've established. Not only I can imagine living in it, but the characters are well written to the point that I just want to meet them and talk to them like we're just old friends from the day.

I don't know why, but when I picture Bryar and I see the face of Flynn from Tales of Vesperia. Then you got Alica whom reminds me of the sliver-haired girl from Fairy Tails (I think that's the name of that series. o_O) and I can just imagine her being sexy in that robe of hers. XD Speaking of Major Alma, I get the feeling she's the equivalent of Winter Soldier in that she disappeared for a long time then when she comes back, she's not the same as she used to be. I think she can be saved, though.

While this is slightly off topic, I'm needing some tips on how to make a good setting like you are doing here with the forests and whatnot. See, I'm thinking about writing up a story for fun but the description stuff still baffles me. Yet I'm great with characters! Weird, huh?
 

Cassette-Disk

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Lili is still considered a bit frightening based on what she did to the innocent men she captured. I wonder what happened to her to become mentally unstable? Furthermore, it must of been really hard for Bryer and his parents to know she'd be executed one day for her crimes. And Zachary, I'd be surprised if room service works that way in a hotel. lol. In the meantime, I like that Alicia stopped by to inform him of where he's going. :3 I look forward to seeing what happens next! And you're doing great so far with NaNoWriMo!
Mm yeah she's very much a wild card. A bit of spoilers but we'll meet up with her sooner rather than later. If you've read my last Summer Challenge, you'll kinda know what we're getting ourselves into, though a lot of things are going to change. Thanks for the encouragement! It's fun to be able to post something everyday, but it takes a huge chunk of my already limited free time. Not sure how I'm going to RP with this going on. x-x

Okay, took me a while to read them all in one sitting and I've got to say this is awesome! :D I absolutely love this CLASSIC universe you've established. Not only I can imagine living in it, but the characters are well written to the point that I just want to meet them and talk to them like we're just old friends from the day.

I don't know why, but when I picture Bryar and I see the face of Flynn from Tales of Vesperia. Then you got Alica whom reminds me of the sliver-haired girl from Fairy Tails (I think that's the name of that series. o_O) and I can just imagine her being sexy in that robe of hers. XD Speaking of Major Alma, I get the feeling she's the equivalent of Winter Soldier in that she disappeared for a long time then when she comes back, she's not the same as she used to be. I think she can be saved, though.

While this is slightly off topic, I'm needing some tips on how to make a good setting like you are doing here with the forests and whatnot. See, I'm thinking about writing up a story for fun but the description stuff still baffles me. Yet I'm great with characters! Weird, huh?
I'm glad you're enjoying it so far! Though sorry it's taken me away from your RP lol. I should hopefully be able to juggle a few things this weekend so look forward to that as well! I had to look up Flynn since I still haven't played Vesperia, but yeah I guess he kinda looks like that! Just with black hair, grey eyes, and maybe a slightly darker skin tone. That's kinda what happened with Lili, yeah. Just that everything seemed normal with her first but then whoops jk she's nutso. As for making a good setting, the best answer is the most boring one: read. Read other people's works, famous novels, short stories, poems, etc to get inspired for a setting. Almost everything I have written has been borrowed from other things. The name "Bryer?" A (intentional) misspelling of a briar plant because I read a book with a thief named Briar. The fantasy setting? I loved dungeons and dragons types of stories so fantasy was an easy fit. Trillin (and Ellin) and Crimson Keep are taken almost whole sale from an old MMO called Maplestory. This whole story I'm writing is a combination of ideas I've had from other works including Re:Zero Starting Life in Another World, Deltora Quest, Gregor the Overlander, The Flash, a case from the latest Ace Attorney game entitled "The Time Traveling Bride" or something, and a few other things I can't remember in my sleep deprived state. Just draw from your surroundings. I gotta start reading and watching new things though since I'm worried I'll start getting stale.

-
I’ve always been good at dialogue but maybe I should step away from that and focus more on details. It’s a weird balance to hit and I still need practice hitting the mark. Also, posting by sittings leads to weird start ups/endings for posts lol. (Current word count: 5,777/50,000. Words this sitting: 1742. Still gotta play catch up, but we’re doing okay!)
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“I've read a bit of the village from my studies, but I've never visited,” Zach admitted.
“For mages, it's quite the experience. Once you near it, you'll sense the mana surrounding it. Most people don't even realize how ingrained the village is with magic.”
“What do you mean? I don't remember reading about that...”
“It has to do with the fact that it's inside a rainforest. Throughout the year, the rain produced there is brought by the nearby ice caps.” Alicia didn't continue her sentence, which confused Zach.
“Uh-huh...and what does that have to do with it?”
“I thought you said you studied the area?”
“I mean—it's been a while...” Zach was starting to see why he was the fourth one chosen for this trip.
“I seems it truly was a good idea for me to come. Running along the walls of walls of ice sits a lone fortress. Have you heard of it?”
“Uhhh.”
“The name of that fortress is Crimson Keep. It is a literal den of evil.”
“Wait, I think I remember. Wasn't that where there used to be a group of hardcore fighters?”
“Hardcore fighters?” She raised an eyebrow.
“I mean, like, you know, devoted masters of combat? And they would take other fighters in to train them?”
“That's a very simplified explanation, but yes. They were also guardians of ancient scrolls that imbued those who read them with an unbelievable power. Crimson Keep was considered to be the best of the best and was the best place to protect them, along with various other artifacts. However, one of the group members betrayed the rest and took power from a demonic scroll. It had tricked him into believing it would grant him the power to become king of the world when in reality it overtook his body and killed everyone within the keep. Using the blood of the dead, the demon was able to summon his minions and take total control of the keep, slaughtering anyone who came close. The dark energy seeped into the ice and is filtered. When it rains in the Trillin Forest, it rains with a calming douse. It is said the contrasting calm rain is the regret of those killed in Crimson keep, attempting to atone for their misgivings.”

Zach stared in awe at the story he was presented with. Though he had read part of it before, he hadn't been aware of the whole thing.
“That's incredible. Is it true? I mean, it sounds like a campfire story, you know?”
“You'll know once you get to Trillin. Though the overall forest is calm, one can sense the malice hidden farther north. It is as if the forest is the only thing keeping the demonic forces from branching into the rest of the world.”
“Do you think it's true? Does the Trillin Forest have some kind of charm or ward that keeps the soldiers of Crimson Keep at bay?”
Alicia shrugged, “Who can say? Perhaps you can ask Bryer for permission to investigate if you're curious. Regardless, you'll be arriving just outside Trillin Forest tomorrow by a port point.”
“Oh, we're teleporting there like that?”
“Naturally.”
“I just figured we'd have someone teleport us directly there and back.”
“Having a designated mage for teleportation would involve having that mage accompanying you.”
“And what's wrong with that?”
“She was the second choice for this assignment, but she refused. As did the third choice.” Zach sighed internally. Everyone always underestimates the hexers. I should have been a cleric. People love the healers. Zach didn't believe too strongly in the gods, however, so he doubted he would be able to do much. “Don't look so down, Zach,” Alicia broke through his thoughts, “just because you weren't the first one on our list does not mean you are without merit. You have a natural charismatic talent with others and can win the trust of the villagers with ease.”
“ Ha, thanks, but you're just saying that.”
“I am not. It worked on me, after all.” Zach felt his face flush brightly at the compliment. Wait, was she hitting on him?! That was highly doubtful but she was hard to read. “Just believe in yourself and you'll be fine.” Oh, she was mothering him. He wasn't sure which of the two was worse.
“Thank you Alicia. It means a lot.”
“Just Alice is fine, Zach. One more thing: we're not sure how long the assignment might take. You might be in the village for days, weeks, or even months. There is no shame in backing out if you feel as though—”
“No! No no no, I'm fine with that!”
“I see. If you're quite sure then I won't stop you, however that should cover everything I needed to explain. If you'd excuse me, I must be going.”
“Right. Thank you, Alice.”
“Farewell, Zach. I wish you well on your journey for I feel as thought it will be a long one.”

Despite his initial depression over the whole situation, Zach woke up feeling surprisingly refreshed and ready. He took this as a sign of good things to come. The assignment will go off without a hitch. He'll be able to help Captain Alma find his sister and they'll return to Blueshire and share a nice meal, and maybe Bryer will even put in a good word for Zach, helping go up the ladder in the Magical Library. Zach smiled against the bright sun as he walked back to the Sword Guild. Yeah, things were going to go great.
“Hey, it's the mage again.” Zach stopped in his tracks. The same knight from the day before had just crossed his path once more. The armor she wore shone brightly against the morning rays, and he had to step to the side to avoid being blinded.
“Hi. Thanks again for the help yesterday.”
“Just part of the job, son. So I heard Captain Alma is going to go on a mission with a mage from the Magical Library. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?” She rose an eyebrow at him, her aqua eyes almost catching him in a trance.
“I might, but I don't think I'm at liberty to say,” Zach smiled. It wasn't often he was on this end of a conversation and he liked it.
“Really now? Well maybe when you get back, you can fill me in over a cup of coffee?”
“I just might. I need to get going or else I'll be late but I'll be seeing you around.”
The knight grinned, “Yes you will. Have a good time.” Zach backpedaled a few steps towards the Sword Guild.
“You too. Or—rather, I mean—have a good day.” Nice one, idiot, he cursed himself as he faced the right direction. The two guards at the front stepped aside for him without a word, as did the third in front of the door. Was this what it was like to be important? It felt nice, and something Zach could get used to. He smiled as he entered the door and saw Bryer standing to the side of the desk with a dark skinned woman. Her pointed ears gave her away as an elf, and the position of her hands have her away as someone important to the captain.
“...Not sure how long I'll be gone,” Bryer told her, “it might be a few days or weeks.”
“I hate that you're not taking me along,” the woman said. “It's not like it's the first time I've come across her or anything.”
“This is something I have to do alone, Sam.”
“Alone? You're taking a new guy with you!” Ouch. Was that all Zach was? The new guy? Oh well. Everyone has to start somewhere.
“He's not a new guy! He's an excellent mage and is going to help tremendously!” Zach felt his chest swell up with pride. “...Or at least, that's what Alice says.” And just like that his ego was once again deflated in a manner of seconds. “Besides, he has no emotional connection to my sister. He's perfect for the job.”
“Just be careful, got it?” She rubbed his cheek with an open palm before kissing him. Zach couldn't help but look away. He almost forced himself to look but was too embarrassed over the simple act, which only served to embarrass him further. It wasn't until he heard Bryer's voice did he start walking towards the pair.
“I will. Promise.” With a smile and, what Zach imagined to be a heavy heart, the woman—Sam—began walking up the nearest staircases, Bryer watching her as she went.
Zach let out a low whistle, “Wow, look at you, captain. I didn't know you had a special someone.” Though he had hoped to cause Bryer to jump in surprise, Zach was slightly disappointed to see him turn around slowly with a smile.
“Well, you know,” was all he was willing to say.
“Must kind of suck to leave her behind though.”
“It sure does. Pfft,” Bryer chuckled slightly to himself. “Sorry, what's that saying? 'I hate to see her go but I love to watch her leave?'” Zach gave a confused look.
“...What?”
“It means...never mind, it's not important. Are you ready to head off? I'm sure you know we might be gone for quite a while.”
“Yeah, Alice mentioned something like that yesterday.”
“Oh, it's 'Alice' now, is it?” Bryer rubbed his chin happily.
“I...yeah? I mean, she told me to call her that, I wouldn't call her it otherwise but I can call her by her full name if it's an issue.”
“Haha! No don't worry about it. You seem like a well-mannered guy. I don't care, as long as she's fine with it. Well, why don't I show you to the port point room?”
“Sounds good to me.”

Zach followed Bryer as he led them to a lower level of the Guild.
“As I'm sure you know, both the Sword Guild and Magical Library works together to keep the peace between Blueshire. As a result we have quite a few mages here to help keep things running smoothly.”
“Yet we only allow mages inside the Library.”
“Yeah, not much we can do about that. Tradition and keeping magical secrets and all that.”
 

KingdomKey

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You're doing really well for NaNoWriMo! I'm impressed and you're definitely not getting stale. Your advice is really solid advice too. And you're giving me way too much imagination right now. xD *snickers* Zach, I'll be surprised if that turns into something more. I can see the potential for your love life in the future, but I think this mission will mean a whole lot more to you in the future. In the meantime, I like that we get to see some affection between Sam and Bryer. I had to laugh at that, but I liked the backstory of Crimson Keep, considering that's quite spooky. ouo Can't wait for more!
 

Cassette-Disk

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You're doing really well for NaNoWriMo! I'm impressed and you're definitely not getting stale. Your advice is really solid advice too. And you're giving me way too much imagination right now. xD *snickers* Zach, I'll be surprised if that turns into something more. I can see the potential for your love life in the future, but I think this mission will mean a whole lot more to you in the future. In the meantime, I like that we get to see some affection between Sam and Bryer. I had to laugh at that, but I liked the backstory of Crimson Keep, considering that's quite spooky. ouo Can't wait for more!
Thanks! We're keeping the train moving. Hopefully tomorrow I can write some extra so I can catch back up with the word goals since I'm about 1k or so short at the moment.
-
We’re getting there. I always loved magical settings but I worry I am never able to convey the details properly. More practice required.(Current word count: 7,488/50,00. Words this sitting: 1725. We’re getting there!
---
The staircase Bryer and Zach went down became dimmer as they traveled, and Zach felt his nerves start up once more.
“Where are we going, anyway?” He asked.
“The Guild has a room filled with port points in the basements. We'll be using it to get just outside the forest and make our way inside.”
“You have a port point room? I didn't realize the Sword Guild would have something like that.” Port points served as teleportation devices mages could set up. They would be placed on any kind of archway and work through String Theory to quickly transport people and objects across long distances. Using a port point always left the users with a small pouch of magic powder, courtesy of the mage in charge. This powder would reawaken the port point and be used to get the travelers back home without issue. The dim lighting of the descending corridor began turning a hue of blue as the pair went downwards. The regular and soft candles against the walls were replaced by glass lamps with sapphire flames. Zach was used to these fires, they were the same ones the Magical Library frequently used in their studies and labs. That meant this area was under a steady flow of magic users. The staircase ended and left Zach in a round room with various doors against the walls. The cement floor had images of various animals engraved near the doors. Owls, snakes, rats, and other small animals lined themselves as figures. It wasn't difficult for Zach to figure out what they represented: they were markers that led to specific magics. Just like the main room upstairs, a secretary desk sat in the center of the room, just beyond the staircase. Sitting there was a bored looking man in robes. “I had no idea the Sword Guild had anything like this,” Zach admitted as Bryer waved to the secretary.
“Of course. This isn't a part of normal tours. We need help from the Magical Library but whenever anyone thinks of the Sword Guild, they like to think of physical warriors so we just keep that imagery upstairs and the magic that happens behind the scenes down below. We'll be going this way,” he walked toward a door with an owl insignia.

After a short walk through a corridor and a few doors, Zach had entered the port point room. The wall were filled with stone arches, and it reminded him of reading over building constructions. It was as if every archway was waiting for a door to be built within them. The square room was optimized for the archways—there was no empty space between any of them save the door they had just entered. The entire room took Zach's breath away. From the seemingly oval ceiling that seemed to extend beyond what the room's structure should allow, to the fact that the ceiling was also painted with dark paint and white dots, reminiscent of a night sky. This gave the ceiling an otherworldly aesthetic that made him light headed. The equally black floor seemed to shimmer in a blue light, similar to the lamps that had lined the walls earlier. However, there were no lanterns in this room. Instead, a stead pulse of a thick blue line emerged from the center of the room every few seconds. This line, in the shape of a square, extended out and became larger until it hit the walls before disappearing. After, a new pulse emerged from the center, starting the cycle anew. This was the sole source of light within the room though as he and Bryer stepped forward, he realized he left footprints behind in the same neon blue that vanished after a few seconds.
“This room is amazing,” he said.
“It's pretty great, I'll give you that,” Bryer answered as they walked toward the center of the room. Just then, Zach realized something was off. He and Bryer left blue footprints, but at the center were a pair of stationary footprints facing toward them. He was unsure what to make of this until he heard a snap of someone's fingers. No one was there, however once he blinked, a new entity stood atop the footprints.
“Hello again,” Alice said with a smile.
“Hey, where's Vin?” Bryer asked, “I thought he was the guy in charge of this room?”
“He is, but it seems as though he caught a cold. As a result I am doubling my duties. Right this way, if you would.” Alice led the pair to the archway opposite of the door they had entered. “Just outside Trillin Forest, correct? I know the location well.”
“Why don't we just teleport directly into the village?” Zach inquired. It seemed like a simple thing to do and would save them the effort of walking through the rain forest.
“The villagers refuse to set a port point of their own within the village,” she answered, “they are very mistrusting of outsiders, after all. Magic users are exempt from their suspensions to a degree but they worry others might abuse the form of transportation. It is understandable, but makes business with Trillin very difficult. Now then...” Alice extended her left hand toward the archway and in an instant, the arch was filled with color and sound. He could vividly see the sharp greens of the tremendous moss-covered trees. Hear the sound of birds chirping and rain falling. He could even smell the damp flora waiting for him; it was as if someone had literally opened a door to the outdoors.
“I love these things,” he said, full of wonder.
“Here is the return powder,” Alice handed Bryer a small brown sack tied closed with string. “I trust you remember how to use it?”
“Just toss it at an archway, yeah.” Bryer gave a quick wave before walking through the port point. Zach smiled at Alice before preparing himself to follow behind.

Growing up, magic had always filled Zach with an amazing feeling. Whether it was performing it, learning about it, or just reading about it, magic always gave him a wondrously warm sensation he couldn't put into words. Yet, it always felt as if something was missing. Every magic user has a specialty—something they excelled at. It usually clicked for most magic users on what they would specialize in. Some knew from the moment they began studying what they were to focus their attention on while others had to explore a bit to figure it out. Zach never found anything like that. After months and years of studying and practicing, there was no perfect fit for him. Finally, he settled on hexes, curses, and cures. It still didn't feel quite right for him, but it was the field he felt most comfortable with. Despite this, various other fields always intrigued him but he was unable to perform them antiquity enough to be comfortable with them. Teleportation and Vision was one of those fields and he held his breath as he stepped through the port point. In that single instant he traveled hundreds of miles across two nations. He always expected this form of teleportation to feel amazing. He wanted it to give him chills, goosebumps, and a feeling of wonder. It never did. Instead he felt as if he had just stepped outside into a cold morning after becoming accustomed to the warmer indoors. In fact as he turned around, he could still clearly see the port point room behind him, with Alice standing at the center. The blue square pulsed throughout the room, and the sense of wonder and magic was gone as it instead felt as if he had walked out of a normal door. Alice waved her hand towards the port point once more, and the room vanished, replaced instead with a solid and ancient stone archway. “Let's get going,” Bryer said. Zach nodded before following behind as they entered the forest of impossibly large trees. The soft rain trickled through the leaves above the pair, and they were only hit by a very small amount of water as they traveled. Despite this, Zach could very clearly sense the magical power that shrouded them. It was as if he had been submerged in gentle warm water, and he couldn't help but feel safe.
“Can you feel that?” Zach asked, his voice whimsical.
“Nope. What, is it the mana or whatever that surrounds the village?” Zach only hummed in response. The powers that felt had put him in a wonderful mood. “Don't let it get your guard down, alright?”
“Mm-hmm.” The pair walked in near silence for a few minutes with Bryer in the lead. A very light fog had settled in the morning air, clouding the thick treeline. In the distance, Zach could make out wooden platforms resting against the trees though the fog made them difficult to make out properly. “Those are going to lead us to the village, right?”
“Yeah. It'd be best if we could find our way up there though. Both to avoid any monsters and for ease of travel.” Thankfully the pair were able to find a drop zone easily. It consisted of a series of pulleys that lowered and raised a section of the platforms with the help of a manual turning wheel. Bryer reached out to the handle and began to turn it. Though the wheel offered resistance at first, it quickly gave in to his strength and slowly began lowering the platform for the pair. Once it had landed against the ground, the pair stood on top of it where a second wheel waited for them. “Well it's good to know they knew what they were doing when they built these things,” Bryer turned the second wheel and the platform began to ascend.
“I'm pretty sure they were made with magic,” Zach informed him, “So it didn't take too much effort for them to get the structure down right.” Bryer only grunted in response as they reached the top, where a third turning wheel waited for them in. “See? This one's in case the platform gets left down below and someone up here needs to raise it.”
“Seems simple enough. Now that we're up here, we should reach the village soon. Let's get going.”
 

Cassette-Disk

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I kinda forgot to write yesterday. Whoops! I wrote this today and plan to write a bit more in a bit to make up for my absence. Even after that I'll still be behind but another day of heavy writing and I'll be caught up. (current word count: 9,319/50,000. Words written this sitting: 1,828. Gotta pick up the pace some more!)
---
The wooden platforms creaked under the pair's feet. Bryer's feet fell heavier against the thick wood due to his red armor, which worried Zach. If one of them were to break through the platforms and fall, it would most likely be Bryer. Then what would Zach do? The fall would at least break his new friend's legs and Zach wasn't strong enough to carry Bryer through the forest for help. And if any of the monsters attacked during that time, they'd both be dead.
“I've read these platforms are often used for exporting and importing massive amounts of goods,” Bryer said suddenly, as if reading Zach's mind. “They used heavy wagons to move everything. Wagons that weigh much more than I do. I doubt these planks of wood would ever break, especially if they've been magically reinforced.”
“Right.” Of course. The people who made this—along with the village—weren't fools. They would have made sure the structures would have survived for centuries. In fact, the only signs of decay the platforms showed was a thin layer of moss on some of the edges. That was undoubtedly thanks to magical wards placed on them. Zach gripped the rope guarding the dropping point and peered below as they walked. The fall was long; about 30 feet or so. It made his head spin and he wished he didn't look. The growing grass below was accompanied by thick shrubbery. Giant bushes with thick leaves grew along the ground, as did flowers the size of chairs. They were of various colors and Zach couldn't help but stare at them. One of the bushes rustled and a small brown hare emerged fro it. Immediately after, a four legged creature chased after the hare. Its long tail and black fur resembled that of a wolf, but it was much smaller and seemed to vibrate its whole body as it ran. The rabbit jumped into the air in a desperate attempt to escape but the wolf let out a loud bark that hurt Zach's ears even with the vertical distance. The hare seemed to freeze in midair, which allowed the wolf to jump and claim it for itself. The wolf ran back into the bushes with its prize. “What was that?” Zach asked.
“It sounded like a subwolfer.”
“A what?”
“It's like a small wolf but has a loud bark that can paralyze or hurt its prey. I've seen a pack of them destroy boulders by barking together.”
“That's incredible!”
“And another reason these platforms are so important.” Zach nodded in agreement as they continued their march to the village.

It didn't take long for Zach to see the outlines of houses ahead of them. Just as he had read before, those houses stuck out of the tree trunks like birdhouses. Zach mused that if the trees were regular sized, then the houses would be small enough for birds and squirrels. The platform that led to the village began to widen as they approached. In the center of the village was a different and much larger platform that was seemingly made out of stone, though it was covered in grass.
“That must be the park,” he told Bryer, who nodded. “This place is so strange. It feels as though everything is just hovering in midair, floating impossibly. And I can feel the magic falling from the sky, it's just like Alice said.” The calming warmth from before was amplified as soon as they entered the village. Though Bryer lacked the magical powers to sense it, even he felt more at peace here. “I don't think I ever want to leave,” Zach admitted.
“Yeah. I kinda get that feeling too.”
“So where do we start? Do we just go knocking on doors or something?”
“No...we should look for some form of authority. Either mayoral or military. People will report any odd to them, after all.” They began by walking toward the park, though the areas linking the two platforms together were actually branches from the trees. Bryer stepped forward and slid slightly but caught himself. “Careful. It's sli--” Almost instantly, Zach's foot gave way and he found himself sliding towards the edge. He felt his heart race and his breathing was shallow. Bryer quickly gripped Zach's arm steadying him. “You okay?” He asked as he pulled Zach onto the platform.
“Yeah,” he huffed,” yeah, thanks. The...the moss. It's more slippery than I thought it would be.”
“Keep your guard up,” Bryer warned. Zach only let out a shaky breath in an attempt to calm himself. “Let's start at the park and see if we can find someone who will tell us where to find the mayor or something.”
“R-right. Okay, sure.

Within the park was a woman sitting on a stone bench, watching two children play together.
“Excuse me,” Bryer started. The woman looked up at him and scowled. He raised an eyebrow but said nothing. Instead he glanced at Zach and nodded once. Zach took the hint and took over.
“Hello. We're sorry to bother you, but we were wondering if you could help us with something. It won't take long.” The woman glanced back and Bryer but her expression softened slightly at Zach.
“...It is rare to get visitors here,” she said, “especially new ones who bring the Unfit with them.” She nodded towards Bryer, who tried to look as innocent as possible. Due to the heavy red armor he wore, it was quite a feat, and he was unable to pull it off.
“Sorry, the 'Unfit?' What's that?”
“Those who are unfit to wield magic.”
“Oh! Right of course.”
“What do you require? I am taking watch over the little ones so I don't have much time.”
“Okay, that's okay. Um, we were wondering where your mayor is? Or someone who is in charge? We have urgent business--”
“Nothing too important!” Bryer hissed quietly.
“W-we have personal business that we were hoping would be resolved by the person in charge of this village. Please.”
“What kind of business?” The woman frowned at the pair. It was obvious they looked suspicious to her. Zach looked back at Bryer, who tapped at his red armor, then his face.
“It's my friend's sister. We're looking for her and believe she has made her way here. Please, she's family and isn't well. She needs help.”
“I see.” The woman stood and revealed a large wooden cane, which she tapped once against the ground. “I believe I might have heard of this woman from my citizens, yes.”
“You're the mayor?!” Bryer blurted out. She didn't respond.
“So uh, are you the mayor?” Zach repeated.
“Yes. My name is Jinnif. Though we usually do not work with outsiders, especially when it involves the Unfit, I understand the importance of family.” She gestured to the two children sitting besides one another, playing with dolls. “From what my citizens have reported, they have seen a woman with red hair and armor near the northern area of the forest. There is an old house there that was once used for storage, but that was long ago and has been long abandoned. It is possible she has been using that area as shelter.”
“Red hair and armor? Similar to the one I'm wearing, correct?” The woman gave Bryer a stern look but nodded. “That must be Lili! This is exactly what we needed to know! Thank you.”
“Thank you,” Zach repeated, “This is the exact--”
“So I have heard. Take care. Should you require rest please visit our inn. So long as you are with him, The Unfit will also be welcomed. To a certain extent.”
“We understand. Thank you.”

Unwilling to lose any time, Bryer and Zach headed off towards the northern portion of the village. Though it was still morning, the thick trees hid the majority of the sunlight and they were in a perpetual dimness. Just as he had studied, their path was lightened by glowing flora that sprouted both from the trees, as well as the platforms. It seemed as though the bright plants had been harvested and re-purposed as lanterns.
“Better than an actual flame,” Bryer said, “imagine the damage a single spark could cause to this place.”
“The constant rain would flicker it out, I'm sure,” Zach responded.
“More than likely, but the possibility would still exist.” Zach couldn't help but agree. If this village was all that was holding Crimson Keep back, he would rather it not burn down to the ground due to a simple mistake. The village itself was larger than Zach had first imagined. Though he had expected there to be a few houses here and there, what he found instead was an entire ecosystem. The whole village worked together to keep themselves alive. The rain water was collected and poured into a large wooden container near the park, which was then purified by some of the villagers with magic in order to remove any kind of negative energies still present from the Keep's aura. Was it possible that the people themselves drew their power from the water? Zach was tempted to ask the people but decided to wait until after the mission was over. Lili was still on the move and there was no guarantee she would wait for them, and Zach didn't want to let Bryer down. They moved forward, through the village, and emerged through the other end. The platforms tilted upwards as they headed north and they were so up high, Zach could only see the leaves and branches hiding the floor below. He kept his eyes trained ahead and refused to look down again. The sound of rushing water caught his ear.
“Do you hear that?”
“There must be a stream around here,” Bryer answered. “We might not be as high as we first thought. The ground floor might have elevated alongside us and the platforms were raised to compensate.”
“So that water is coming from the icecaps?”
“That's right.”
“I wonder if--” the sound of wood breaking interrupted Zach's thoughts, and he halted. Bryer's boot had gone through the platform but he quickly pulled it out and rushed forward, away from the weak point.
“That area isn't sound, Zach,” he said, his voice surprisingly calm. “I would suggest jumping over boards where my foot gave way completely and landing near me.”
“R-right.” Zach steeled himself. He wasn't much for physically strain, but the gap was small and he knew he could make the jump. He inhaled and leapt forward, easily clearing the distance. He landed a meter away from Bryer and smiled.
“See, Zach?” Bryer smiled, “nothing to it.” Just then the platform gave way under Zach's weight and he heard the sound of rushing wind and saw blurry green visions pass him by. “Zach!” Bryer called, but there was nothing he could do. Zach felt a sharp pain around the back of his torso as he continued to fall and closed his panicked eyes. Then there was nothing.
 

Cassette-Disk

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After all that’s happened these past few days, I have to keep writing. I have to catch up with my goals. This is the first time I’ve willed myself to write so much in so little and I’m not going to let that be taken away. (current word count: 11,008/50,000. Words this sitting: 1548. We aren’t done yet.)
---
The soft sound of running water reached Zach's ears through the darkness. Pain dully pounded his entire body and he refused to open his eyes, afraid of what he might find. His fingers felt a soft texture and digging his nails slightly earned him a small amount of damp dirt. It was safe for him to assume he fell to the floor, but he wasn't sure how he survived the fall. He made out the sound of a pair of heavy footsteps above him. Bryer. Of course. The captain must have somehow broke his fall. Zach turned his body slightly and felt something slide off his forehead, along with another pulse of pain. He slumped on his back again and felt a hand replace the wet soft object. It was some kind of towel, though he lost consciousness once more and was unable to find out what it was exactly. He awoke again in less than five minutes to the sound of the same pair of heavy footsteps. He shifted his eyes open and saw the red armor leggings walk passed his field of view.
“Thanks,” Zach's coarse voice said. Bryer didn't respond but Zach felt him squat next to him. “I'm not sure how you did it, but thanks for saving me. Sorry for being a nuisance.”
“What are you talking about?” a female voice said. “You fell into the river.” Zach opened his eyes widely and gaped at his rescuer. She wore red armor similar to Bryer's and here eyes were the same smoky grey as his, but her long red hair was a sharp contrast to his short black cut. Her eyes had a coldness to them that was absent from Bryer's and it made Zach uneasy. He sat upright in surprise, causing the towel to fall from his forehead and onto his lap. A moment's glance was all he needed to realize it was his towel.
“This is...mine? How did you...?”
“It was in your bag,” she responded.
“You went through my stuff?”
She shrugged, “I thought you were dead.” Zach reached for the small black velvet bag lying next to him. It looked as if it could only hold a few coins, but thanks to certain enchantments it could actually hold an almost infinite number of items. “I didn't take anything,” the woman said. Zach took a quick peak inside, though all he could see was darkness. Taking every item he carried into account was going to be trouble.
“I'll take your word for it. Who are you?”
“I'm the woman who saved your life. How do you feel?”
“I'm...fine. Who are you?”
“Why don't you tell me your name first? Then I'll tell you mine.” Her politeness threw Zach off. It was obvious she was Bryer's sister, but was she really? She didn't seem at all unstable, plus she had saved his life.
“My name is Zach. Zachary Cain.”
“Nice to meet you, Zach.”
“And you are...?”
“Don't worry about it.” Zach took a shaky breath, unsure of what to do. If he revealed what he was up to, Lili might act negatively towards it and saving his life would have been a waste of time for her. “Actually, are you a mage? If so, I could use your help.”

The question hit him like a hollow piece of metal.
“H-help? ...With...with what?” Lili stood from her squatting position and began walking around him in a circle. It reminded him of a shark encircling its prey, waiting for the best time to strike.
“It's just a little trip I have been planning to make. I need to find something, you see, but the item would be useless to me. It's a magical artifact--”
“That only someone with access to the arcane arts can use properly.” He finished the sentence for her, could sweat running down his neck.
“Exactly. You're a smart man, Zach!” Her voice was sweet and it betrayed everything he had learned about her. He kept his guard up regardless. “I should warn you though, it won't be particularly safe. In fact no one has...” her pace slowed. “You aren't from the village, are you?”
“What?” Zach slowly got himself into a stand.
“You don't wear the same clothes as they do. And you didn't instantly shun me the same way they did. Who are you? Who are you really?”
“I...” Zach gulped, his throat feeling more dry than it has ever felt in his life. “I'm a traveler. I heard the village was a great place for mages and wanted to witness it for myself.”
“You're lying.” He felt goosebumps run along his arms. “If that were the case, then why did you leave the village? You wouldn't have any reason to be out here. Tell me what you were doing. And keep your hands where I can see them.” Zach obeyed, placing his hands away from his body. He let out another shaky breath.
“Okay. Okay, let's—let's just calm down.”
“Answer the question.”
“I...I'm from Blueshire. Your brother. He's worried about you.” Lili halted in her tracks, just to the right of Zach.
“Damn it. So he knows I'm here? But I'm so close.”
“Close? Close to what?”
“You came here to try and capture me, right?” Her voice was even and Zach couldn't sense any hostility within it.
“Something like that.”
“I see. So you know about me, correct?” Zach nodded. “In that case, there's an artifact nearby that might be able to help me. To help me regain myself. If I can do that I'll be more than willing to return and right my wrongs.”
“Regain yourself? What do you—”

“Zach!” Bryer's voice echoed throughout the forest floor. “Zach, where are you?!” Lili's eyes widened in shock before narrowing down in intense worry and concentration.
“Call out to him,” she whispered. Lili began calmly walking into a large bush, concealing herself despite the bright colored armor. “Don't mention me to him.”
“Wh-what do--”
“Just do it.”
“Zach! Answer me!” He hesitated. The uncertainty that rested in his stomach felt like a stone. He heard the sound of steel and wheeled back to face Lili. The bush mostly hid her but he could just barely make out her eyes, and the sharp sword she was holding on to. If she was trying to 'regain' herself, that must mean she was in some control. Zach remembered what Bryer had told him. About how nothing seemed too different at first and it wasn't until later that Lili snapped. What if she was fighting something? Something within herself? Would this mean she was currently in control? Zach exhaled. He didn't have too much of a choice at the moment. The whole situation worried him.
“Bryer! I'm over here!”
“Zach!” Bryer's voice grew closer and Zach called out once more to guide him. Within a minute, Bryer appeared. “There you are. Thank the gods, I was worried.”
“I'm fine. Sorry for being a bother.”
“No no, nothing like that. Are you okay? What happened?”
“I-I'm fine. I fell into the river and washed up near here. The river was a bit deep so I was safe.”
“I see. That's a relief.” Bryer glanced down at Zach's hand, clenching the towel fiercely. “What's the matter?”
“Huh?”
“You're holding on to that kind of tight.”
“Oh?” Zach pulled the small towel closer to his face. “Oh! No, I-I think I'm still shaken up is all.” Bryer raised an eyebrow. He knew something was up. Zach's stiff body language was giving him away but he couldn't help it. Just like he couldn't help dart his eyes at Lili for a split second. Bryer picked up on it instantly.
“...Where did you get that towel from anyway?”
“My bag. I-it's a bag of holding so it can hold--”
“I know what that is. What I mean is, why is it folded that way? If you had just used it to dry up, it wouldn't be folded up like that.”
“I was just--”
“What happened, Zach?”
“Nothing!” Like I said, I fell into the river and washed up near here.”
“It's okay, Zach,” Lili emerged from her hiding place, sword in hand. “I can handle it from here.”
“Lili!” Bryer took a step back. “You're here!”
“Just like you knew I was. I'm sorry but I can't let you take me in. Not yet. I'm too close.”
“Too close to what? Come to back to Blueshire! I can help you! We can get someone to look at you and Mylene and I will make sure your sentence is lowered!”
“Because that's exactly what you and mother were planning on doing back then, right? When I was locked up waiting my execution?”
“We were! You have to believe me, please!”
“Only if you believe what I'm saying now. I'm close to saving myself. I'm leaving, and I'm taking Zach with me.”
“You know I can't let you do that.”
“If that's the case, then show me what you've learned since you became captain of the seventh division, brother.”
 

Cassette-Disk

Monotone/Colorful
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I’m still playing catch up but I’m only 2K words away from my daily goals. ...Of course, tomorrow I’ll be around 3.6k words away again, but another day like today will be all I need to catch up! (Current word count: 13,038/50,000. Words this sitting: 2,249. What a day. Also, I passed the 1/5th completion mark! Whoo!)
---
Bryer unsheathed his blade. A red jewel was adorned near the hilt and it glistened in the soft rain.
“Is that Emily's sword?” Lili asked.
“It is. I wish I didn't need to use it on you, but it doesn't look like I have a choice.”
“No. You do not.”
“Wait, stop!” Zach called out, holding both arms between the siblings. “You don't have to--” but it was too late. Zach caught a glimpse at Bryer's eyes just in time to see them turn an unnatural yellow as Lili's did the same. In the next moment, they seemingly vanished. The sounds of steel striking steel filled the woods every second as it rang in Zach's ears. Rushing wind pulled at his robe in every direction as the the two swordsmen fought at an impossible speed. It was all Zach could do to run by a tree for cover, away from the combat. He felt his breathing hasten as he tried to watch. He had heard that the Lionheart had some sort of technique at his disposal. Something his mother had passed down to him that allowed him to move at unimaginable speed but he didn't believe it was true. He thought it was just a story people told to glorify Bryer Alma, yet here he was. Watching the captain fly through the battlefield like a stone skipping through a pond. What was more, his sister had the exact same ability. Zach couldn't keep up with the fight—all he saw were red flashes darting throughout the small clearing in the woods and the loud clanking of metal striking one another. He felt helpless. As if there was nothing he could do. If only he could get a clear shot in! He could slow Lili down and force her into surrender.
“Get out of here!” He heard Bryer's voice call out to him. Once more, Zach was hesitant. Was there nothing he could do? He lifted his arm up an concentrated. A literal shot in the dark was all he could hope for. He worried about striking Bryer by accident but the idea of sitting completely idle was something he could not handle.
“Bryer!” Zach's hand let out a yellow glow. The hex he was about to unleash was a fairly simple one, designed to slow the target down. Given the extreme speeds they siblings were fighting at, it would give a sound advantage. A ball of light fired off from his hand and quickly traveled through the clearing until it struck an opposing tree, splashing harmlessly against it. It was then he realized what he was up against. He saw the pair fighting at a speed he couldn't imagine. As a result, to them, the entire world must be slowed to a crawl. Anything that had travel time would be completely useless against them as they would easily be able to dodge it.

“You wanna fight too, huh?” Lili's voice echoed through the clearing. Her red hair flashed before him as she appeared for a split second, fist raised and ready to strike. A second red blur crashed into her as the siblings continued to fight. How long has it been for them since they've been fighting? To Zach, it was only a few seconds, but to them? Minutes? An hour? They seemed to be evenly matched, and Zach was the ace up Bryer's sleeve. He looked back at the tree. His attempt had failed, and any further attempts would meet the same result. A leaf fell from the tree his spell had struck, but it was then he noticed something more. As that single leaf fell, it passed by another one, permanently suspended in the air. He blinked in realization. When his hex struck, it spread itself and effected anything already in motion in a small radius.
“That's it!” He whispered to himself. It would take a lot of focus but he was sure he could do it and he didn't hesitate. Already his hand began to glow in the same yellow light as he ran to the center of the clearing. It felt as though he was traversing a tornado as he was buffered by the fight around him. The amount of power he channeled was much more powerful than last time, and it would undoubtedly leave him weak but this was the only path he could find. The ball of light grew in his hand but he refused to unleash it and instead allowed it to fester and grow like a balloon. He wasn't sure how much power he would need but he knew he was reaching the limit of what he could control. Just as it reached the boiling point, Zach jumped into the air and slammed the ball into the ground with both hands. “Slow down!” He commanded as the spell struck the earth, spreading along the ground like a shock wave. In the moment that passed, the noises that had filled the air suddenly halted as Bryer and Lili's techniques were canceled out. He looked up, his entire body feeling like gelatin. The two were locked in a clash of strength, their swords pressed against one another. “Stop!” Zach took a step towards them but fumbled as he had used too much energy on a single spell. Both Bryer and Lili blinked in confusion before jumping away from each other.
“What did you do?” Bryer asked, his voice rough.
“What I—whoa,” Zach stumbled once more but caught himself, “What I had to.”
“What do you mean?” Lili's voice was just as coarse as Bryer's and it was obvious they were both at their limits.
“I mean, you have to stop.” Without warning, Zach shot his hand towards Lili as a white spell flew towards her. The ball was too quick and the element of surprise was too strong for Lili to avoid. The second it struck, Lili's body froze.
“Damn, what did you do?!” She struggled against the new hex but her body refused to budge. “What have you done to me?!”
“It's a helpful spell that stops the target from moving,” Zach fell to one knee as he overextended his body. “Now, you're coming back with us to Blueshire.”
“No! I can't! Not yet! I'm too close!”
“What are you--” Bryer was quickly interrupted by Lili before he could get a word in.
“Just kill me! I'd rather die now while I'm still me than rot with her!”
“Her?”
“The other me! Bryer, if you've ever cared for me you'll kill me now! Do it, I don't know how much longer I have!” Zach looked up at Bryer, sword in hand. A pained look flashed through his face.
“Bryer,” Zach warned, “hang on.”
“Please,” Lili began to sob, “please do this for me. Do it and forgive me.” Bryer lifted his blade.
“Whoa wait. Bryer you aren't going to--”
“It is my job as captain of the Sword Guild to right many wrongs, just as it is my job as your brother to protect you. I've failed in one regard but I won't fail in the other. Lili, I ask for your forgiveness. Please find peace. Find peace with Emily and wait for me.”
Lili smiled through her tears, “Thank you, Bryer. Goodbye.”
“Goodbye, my sister.” Zach watched as Bryer pulled his sword back and prepared to strike. The next seconds slowed to a crawl for Zach as he watched Bryer plunge his sword between the weak point of Lili's armor. Lili closed her eyes, her brows furrowed in pain as she coughed, a speckle of blood shooting from her lips as the sharped steel struck soundly into her heart. Bryer pulled his blade out and—as the her life forced faded away—Zach's spell lost its target, causing Lili's body to fall forward. She landed face down as Bryer turned away.
“Thank you, Zach,” his voice was full of regret and Zach could tell Bryer was trying to keep himself together. “You...did good work.” He pulled out a purple stone from his pocket, used for communicating long distances via magic. “Excuse me, I-I have to report this to the Guild.” Zach couldn't respond. He had just witness someone lose their life right in front of him and he hated it. He hated he was a part of it, that because of him, Lili was dead. Her corpse laid there, completely still against the lush grass as crimson liquid flowed out from under her. Bryer patted Zach's shoulder once. “I'm sorry you had to see that,” was all he said before walking away. Zach felt his eyes well up in tears. He was the cause of this. If he hadn't stopped Lili, she wouldn't have wanted to die. He should have done something. Slowly, Zach crawled towards Lili. Her pressed his hand against her neck. She still felt warm, but was quickly becoming colder. The sensation caused bile to rise against his throat and he forcefully swallowed. Suddenly, a woman's giggle echoed around him. It caused his skin to crawl as he shot up to stand. The short laughter bounced against the trees, reverberating around him endlessly.
“Wh-who is that?!” Zach called out, his heart racing in confusion.
“Do you like playing with my toys?” The voice cam from nowhere, yet echoed against the trees unnaturally. It was wistful, yet playful, like a breeze traveling though an alleyway as it picked up litter and tossed it aside.
“What?”
“You were so good with them I couldn't help but notice! Why don't we play some more? I'm dying to see what you can do.”
“What are you--” Before Zach could finish his sentence, he felt the world around him begin to Shift.

“It's my job as captain of the Sword Guild to right many wrongs,” Bryer said, sword in hand. Zach kneeled on one foot behind Bryer.
“What?” Zach asked, disoriented. He looked passed Bryer and saw Lili, frozen by Zach's spell. “What the hell?” He hissed to himself.
“Just as it is my job as your brother to protect you,” Bryer went on. Zach's head was spinning. He had just seen this play out in front of him a mere moment ago. Bryer was going to kill his sister and regret it, based on the look on his face from before. “I've failed in one regard, but I won't fail in the other.”
“Bryer,” Zach rose, unable to comprehend what had happened. It was as if he had blinked and the entire world rolled back to this exact moment. “Wait. Bryer, wait.”
“Lili, I ask for your forgiveness. Please find peace.”
“Bryer, stop!” Zach called, grabbing his arm. Bryer shrugged him off.
“Find peace with Emily and wait for me.”
“No, stop. Stop!”


Lili smiled through her tears, “Thank you, Bryer. Goodbye.”
“Goodbye, my sister.” Zach watched as Bryer pulled his sword back and prepared to strike.
“Stop it!” Zach pressed his hand on Bryer's back, using the same hex he had used on Lili. Bryer was frozen, unable to complete his attack.
“Zach! What do you think you're doing?!” He yelled.
“This isn't what you want!” Zach answered, prying the sword away from Bryer's hands before falling to the floor on all fours. He had expended far too much mana and was feeling the after effects. “This isn't what either of you want! Listen to her! She has...a plan! Or something! She said she was close, why don't you let her explain what she's so close to?! And Lili, you can't just offer to die so easily! Especially not when it's your brother who has to be the one to kill you!” The clearing was completely silent, save for Zach's heavy breathing as he tried to catch his breath. “You two have to promise me you won't kill one another,” he told them as he stood once again, “at least not until we've explored every option you have.”
“It isn't that easy, Zach,” Lili said, “I might not have that much time.”
“Yes you do! Remember, you wanted me to come with you. You just want to take the easy way out instead of fighting!”
“You dare claim death is easy?”
“I dare to claim you think it is. Living would be hard. Working through whatever you did in the past would be hard.” Lili didn't respond. “And Bryer. You don't really want to kill your sister, do you? You're the one who said you wanted to help her.”
“Of course I do.”
“And yet you were about to stab her!”
“She left me no choice.”
“Well now I'm giving you one. Help each other. Lili had a plan and if we work towards it, we can make something work. Please.” Bryer looked at Lili who glanced at the ground.
“I want to help you, Lili,” he told her quietly. She sniffled in response.
“Okay. Release us, Zach. I'll tell you everything.” Zach let out a long breath. He wasn't entirely sure what had just happened but it seemed as though he was given a second chance by...someone or something. An odd sensation ran through him, as though he was being watched. He might not have been sure what happened, but he knew he wasn't playing, and this was not a a game.
 

Roxie1563

Actress/Healer in Persona: Icebound
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Ooh, snapberries!! :O It looks like things are going to be interesting from now on and did Zach just experience the power of time travel or did someone use the Time Stone from Dr. Strange to rewind time to the moment before Bryer struck Lili?

The fight was intense and for a moment I was watching Naruto again, seeing it like Naruto vs Sakuse. :D Or if you like, Batman vs Deathstroke.

Keep on writing, CD! :D I'm now a huge fan of yours. But I'd suggest that you try to make a paragraph or spacing since it's kind weird without it.
 

KingdomKey

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I'm glad I can finally catch up, cause holy smokes did stuff happen. I absolutely loved the thought of Zach using magic to slow them down only to regret what happened to Lili before finding himself with a second chance of changing things. I do wonder if perhaps the voice he heard was [I]her [/I]and was her doing of shifting time? Or it could be Zach somehow shifted time himself without realizing it. And talk about crazy, how much I really want to see Lili have a chance of becoming right again instead of succumbing to the madness she has. I'm really excited with where this is going. And all of these updates were awesome. <3
 

Cassette-Disk

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  • Curiouser and Curiouser
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Ooh, snapberries!! :O It looks like things are going to be interesting from now on and did Zach just experience the power of time travel or did someone use the Time Stone from Dr. Strange to rewind time to the moment before Bryer struck Lili?

The fight was intense and for a moment I was watching Naruto again, seeing it like Naruto vs Sakuse. :D Or if you like, Batman vs Deathstroke.

Keep on writing, CD! :D I'm now a huge fan of yours. But I'd suggest that you try to make a paragraph or spacing since it's kind weird without it.
Fun fact, I watched Dr Strange last week and got a few ideas from it. Mostly things that would further enhance already existing ideas but still! haha. And yeah, I was kinda just going at it during that sitting so I didn't separate my paragraphs very well. I tried to do better this time! Thanks for reading along! :D

I'm glad I can finally catch up, cause holy smokes did stuff happen. I absolutely loved the thought of Zach using magic to slow them down only to regret what happened to Lili before finding himself with a second chance of changing things. I do wonder if perhaps the voice he heard was [I]her [/I]and was her doing of shifting time? Or it could be Zach somehow shifted time himself without realizing it. And talk about crazy, how much I really want to see Lili have a chance of becoming right again instead of succumbing to the madness she has. I'm really excited with where this is going. And all of these updates were awesome. <3
Who is the 'her' you're referring to? :eek: Atm, Zach doesn't have control over time travel so I can tell you for certain it wasn't him! Gonna keep writing, so thanks for reading along as well! I have a ton of catching up to do but I'm fairly certain I can make it. Even if I don't, the enjoyment of writing is all I need! :D
-
I kinda took a break from writing. Whoops. We back though, and I have a lot of catching up to do. I'm hoping I can do a lot of writing on my upcoming day off, so we'll see what happens! (Current word count:14,793/50,000. Words this sitting: 1,755. We back.)
---
“The last mission I was assigned to during my time at the Sword Guild involved traveling across the sea to a distant land. Just near the land of elves there's said to be an island inhabited by dragon tamers. The land was home to many beasts before man discovered it, but once he did he sought to rule over it. It was no easy task and many soldiers died attempting the impossible. It was only a strong few that managed to tame the dragons and wyverns. Those few became many and we were worried they might attempt to expand their empire. I was sent in with a large group of Guild members for simple discussion. Unfortunately, we never got the chance. Before our boat managed to even see the continent, we were attacked by large sea monsters. One of the crew members cried out about a kraken while others shouted about large sharks. I was focused on a large feathered beast that flew out of the water, picking the crew out one by one and devouring them. We didn't last longer than five minutes before the ship cracked completely in half. Two thirds of my company were eaten alive. The rest were dead in the water, the monsters more than satisfied with their fillings. I managed to drift along the waves on one of the life boats that had been dislodged in the chaos but lost consciousness from exhaustion. Perhaps it was due to the miniscule size of the raft or that the gods were on my side, but no other monsters disturbed me. Despite this, I was lost. With no equipment, supplies, food, or landmarks, I thought it might have been better if I had been eaten. At least then I would not have suffered as much as I had during the long days of toiling through the sea. I attempted to catch fish for nutrition, but to no avail. Just when I thought my time on this earth had run its course, the raft loudly halted against sand.

“I peered over the boat and was shocked to find myself on land. Either that or I had passed on and this was my afterlife. Either one was better than that purgatory of a raft. With what little strength I had, I managed to crawl onto the island. There I found a spring of fresh water and fruit growing from trees. It was as if the gods truly were on my side, though this turned out to be nothing but a trap from devils instead. I again lost consciousness near the spring after drinking and eating what few fruit I could reach. When I awoke, it was the next morning. I felt as though I was in a dream. The whole island felt strangely comforting and almost familiar, as if I had just visited a friend's home for the first time. Thinking back to it, the whole time I was there I felt subdued. I was lightheaded for the majority of my stay but I was alive. A few days was all I needed to have a survival routine. I had placed a towering flag on the beach in an attempt to hail any passing ships and I stayed in place in the same general location, but nothing ever came of it. One day I decided to explore farther than I had previously done before. I had yet to see any kind of wildlife outside of the saltwater fish and found it bizarre. I found that the island was surprisingly small. So much so that I worried I would quickly dry up the available resources. Fearful for my life once more, I hurriedly searched the island once more, hoping to find something—anything—to guarantee my survival. It was then I found that, when moved, one of the boulders was hiding a cave entrance leading underground.

“With nothing but a makeshift torch and my blade I entered in hopes of finding a community of some kind. Perhaps there were people living here—an underground society of some kind. I walked in the dark for what felt like hours, sloping downwards. I was desperate and continued on, but things looked grim. I felt fatigued but my legs refused to halt themselves. Something willed me to continue forward, almost as if a voice urged me onwards, deeper into the cave. I finally saw light. A faint glow in the distance. I wasn't sure if my mind was playing tricks on me or not, but I didn't care; I rushed towards it as quickly as I could. When I finally reached it, I found myself in a large circular room with a carving of a wicked looking face on the center of the floor. It reminded me of a sneering child, one who had set a trap for a classmate and was watching from the shadows as it was about to be triggered. It made my skin crawl and, worst of all, the room was a dead end. It was then my head began to ache. It was a thrashing and pounding pain that brought me to my knees, as if someone were swinging multiple small steel mallets against my skull. I cried out in anguish, my voice echoing endlessly throughout the cavern. I was almost certain my head was going to split into two and, right before I reached the breaking point, it stopped suddenly. Without warning the pain vanished and I found myself breathing heavily in the dark. Then a voice in my head—one that most definitely did not belong to me—said something along the lines of 'you're mine now.' I blacked out immediately after. When I awoke I was sitting on a chair surrounded by sailors. One of them asked for my name in an exasperated tone, as if he had been asking for hours. I was surprised to find myself on a ship headed for Blueshire. When I asked how I got there, I was told I was standing against the edge of the island, unmoving. The crew had noticed my flag and saw me before rescuing me, though I have no recollection of that. I figured the fruit and water I had consumed were unfit and had caused wild fantasies and visions, hallucinations of things that had not occurred. What a fool I was.

When I arrived at Blueshire I immediately went to the Sword Guild in Azure. That was when you found me again, Bryer. I was completely out of it. It felt too good to be true. Then when I had been told that we were to interrogate three men, I felt something odd. I wasn't sure what it was but I felt something itching within me. I arrived at the complex early but blacked out almost immediately. When I awoke I was covered in blood and saw you and Emily with a look of confusion. Those three men were dead by my hand, but I have no memory of doing it. There was traces of laughter in my head though tears were streaming down my face and, as I sat in a cell of my own, I realized my body was not mine. Something had taken over. A demon of some kind had possessed me and that same demon had escaped the Sword Guild. I tried to find a priest or cleric but whenever they examined me, they would lose consciousness I would be no closer to an escape. To make matters worse, I have no way of knowing when this demon plans to take over or what it plans to do. I did a large amount of research and found an answer—or at least, a chance. Crimson Keep. Within all the treasures and artifacts lies a single blue gem that is said to be able to erase or change certain moments of a person's past. If I could only claim ownership of it and never set off on that mission. I would never get lost at sea, never land on that island, and never lose ownership of my body. I need the help of a mage in order to use the gem and I don't think I can take the Keep on by myself. I need both of your help for this. What do you say?”

Both Bryer and Zach were floored by the tale they had just heard. Were they really to expect everything they had heard was true?
“I...don't believe it,” Bryer said.
“I know it's a lot to take in, brother, but it's the truth.”
“How do you expect to be in control during your little siege on the Keep? If you don't know when you'll lose control, then how can you guarantee your own safety?”
“I don't have anything to lose to be honest. Besides, I have this.” Lili reached under her chest armor and pulled out a large golden pointed pendent adorned with various jewels. It reminded Bryer of a flower, with a point at the top and a branching drooping leaf on either side, with a root branching out from the bottom. Zachary let out a loud yelp before turning away and covering his eyes.
“Is that Saint Dai's Holy Fleur de Lis?!” He cried out.
“Saint who's what?” Bryer asked
“Saint Dai's Holy Fleur de Lis! He was one of the highest saint for the Great God! It was said he could communicate with the heavens and was often accompanied by angels! What your sister is wearing as a fashion accessory is actually one of the most valuable holy artifacts in the world. It was created and blessed by Saint Dai himself. It's supposed to be kept safe deep within the Chapel of the Heavens! Just looking at this without permission could get me kicked out the Magical Library!”
“And just why do you have this 'fashion accessory,' Lili?”
“I might have had the Band of Thieves borrow it for me.”
“Chive wouldn't help you without telling me about it!”
“That's why I didn't go to your little friend. Listen, this artifact is one of the most powerful defenses against any demonic powers, which makes it just the thing I need. I plan on returning it once this is all over, but until then I need to keep it on me. I'm sure Saint Dai would be more than happy to help someone out who truly needs it, don't you?” She slid the artifact back into hiding as Bryer nodded while nudging Zach to turn back around. “So are we doing this or what?”
 

Roxie1563

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Woah, that's a tale to read! Now we know what really happened to her and I'm glad that item is helping her keep in check, even just a bit enough to do this mission of hers.

And that is a nice fun fact! Too bad I didn't see it since I have enough on my plate and the theater charges are flat out ridiculous. D: But on a brighter note, I'm ready for the next film!

Anyway, time to get rid of that thing inside her for good! :D Also, I do hope we'll find out who did the time rewind; that, to me, is bad enough to break the law of natural worlds.
 

KingdomKey

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Wow, that's quite the tale indeed. I like how Lili has a pendant blessed by a saint. Or that it was stolen by someone other than Chive. Well, looks like Bryer and Zach are in for quite the journey. I really hope Zach can convince Bryer to help Lili out after preventing her death by his hand. At least I think it's worth a shot. :) Great chapter as usual.
 

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WOWEE YOU GUYS REMEMBER THIS? It was originally going to be my entry for National Novel Writing Month last November but my plans fell through. Now that I have more free time, I thought I'd come back to it since I hadn't had a chance to do so. Quick recap since it's been a while: Zach's a mage from the Magical Library and was called to the Sword Guild by Captain Bryer Alma to help him with a mission. Despite his eagerness, Zach wasn't exactly Bryer's first choice (he was actually the fourth choice). The job was to help Bryer find his sister who had gone missing after losing her mind. She was most likely hiding in the village far north where the villagers only talked to magic users, which was the whole reason Zach was needed in the first place. After finding Bryer's sister, Lili, the two fight for a while and Zach uses a slowing spell in a unique manner to stop Bryer and Lili's fast paced fight. After a second hex causes Lili to freeze in place, Bryer kills her and completes the mission.

Except not really. After Bryer walks away, a young woman laughs at Zach who is broken at the sight of a death he had caused. Time Shifts backwards for him and he finds himself back to the moment before Bryer strikes down his sister. Hexing Bryer, Zach manages to stop the incident from occurring and forces them into a treaty. Lili admits she has a plan to restore her mind, which involves breaking into a nearby keep to find a blue gem that can change a person's past, but Zach is the only one in the group that can use it because he's the only one capable with magic. I have to admit I didn't write as much here as I would have liked, but I'm going to slowly work my way back into my writing.
---
The forest air became more and more frigid as the trio traveled north.
“Out of all the possibilities, this was one I didn't see coming,” Bryer muttered to himself as he watched Lili lead the way ahead. Zach held on to a clear glass bottle filled with blue liquid and sipped at it nervously with a straw.
“To be honest I wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't realize you two would just start fighting to the death like that.”
“It's not like I wanted that to happen. ...What are you drinking anyway?”
“Mm?” Zach stopped mid-sip to look at the bottle. “Oh, this? It's just a potion. One that regenerates lost mana for me faster than I would naturally. Stopping you two took a lot out of me, especially that first big blast I used on the ground. I've never done anything like that and wasn't even sure if it would work.”
“It was well done, by the way. I gotta tell Alice about it.”
“Oh! T-thanks.” Zach took another sip. It wasn't often he got compliments and he rather liked it. “Ah sorry, did you want some?” Zach held the bottle towards Bryer.
“I'm...good, thanks.”
“Are you sure? I add blueberries to the brew to make it taste better.”
“Why do you drink it out of a straw?”
“I really like blueberries. I want to savor the taste.” Zach looked at a flower as they passed by it. Though the majority of the forest was always in a state of rain, this area was not. Instead Zach noted the flower's leaves had white proof of the upcoming ice caps in the form of white frost. “We're getting closer, aren't we?” The two had caught up with Lili at this point, who was pushing aside foliage for the group.
“Yes we are,” she answered. “I scouted the Keep before but I knew I couldn't go in alone.”
“So what was your plan?” Bryer asked.
“I was hoping the villagers would take pity on me and have one of their strongest mages accompany me. The gem can only be used by a mage so they were my best bet. If they said no, then I would have been stuck. I still would have gone in by myself but the I didn't have a plan beyond that.” Lili looked back at Bryer and Zach and saw the potion Zach was sipping on. “You want to share some of that?”

Ten minutes of walking was all it took for the temperature to take a large dip. The fact that the forest had felt so warm and welcoming to Zach contrasted sharply with the frosty atmosphere of the ice caps. It seemed impossible that the warm magical rain that fell in the forest originates from the nearby keep.
“H-h-how is it so cold here but so warm back in the village?” Zach's teeth chattered as he pulled his robe closer to himself for warmth. He was freezing but neither Bryer nor Lili made any indication that the cold was bothering them. Either they were made of thicker skin than he was or they were so well-trained that they could hide it.
“It has to do with the forest absorbing the magical energy coming from the Keep,” Lili answered. “It's an odd cycle this forest finds itself in now. It can only grow because of the Keep's evil energy. It's absorbed and somehow transfigured into life sustaining rain and shrubbery. People think the forest is keeping the Keep locked away but if Crimson Keep were to ever completely fall, the forest and the village would fall as well.”
“I always thought Crimson Keep was a fairy tale to be honest,” Zach said. He reached into his bag and produced another potion. This one was to warm one's body and to resist the cold. Though he at first thought the cold didn't bother the siblings, when he explained its affects and offered them some of it, they quickly accepted. Despite their outer warmth, their spirits were a bit more dampened. Entering a liar of evil such as Crimson Keep was a tall order and Zach would have openly admitted to being afraid if anyone asked.
“How are you feeling, Zach?” Bryer asked. “Nervous?”
“What? Who me? Pssh, no. Of course not.”
“Really? Because I am.” Zach rubbed his fingers together uneasily.
“I'm... a little scared, I guess.”
“I don't blame you. It's your first time out in the field and you're headed to Crimson Keep. That's a lot to ask from you.” Zach didn't answer. He was afraid. Very afraid. Afraid of whatever it was they might face inside that fortress. But another part of him was excited. There was no doubt in his mind he would make it out alive. He could imagine how people would react when they learned he had survived Crimson Keep. He could be brought in to the Sword Guild and find work as one of the magical guides there. Or take more missions with Bryer and Alice. The possibilities swirled in his mind as his feet crushed fresh snow.
“We're here,” Lili pulled aside a final oversized and snow covered fern.

Ahead of the group was a stretch of icy flooring that quickly ended in a tall, imposing wall made entirely of ice. It dawned on Zach that the top of it probably stretched for miles, all the way around the northern part of the world.
“There's the keep,” Bryer pointed at a section along the wall where a stone skull stuck out of it.
“Looks like a nice place,” Zach joked, causing Lili to interject.
“Don't let your guard down.” He looked up at her, remembering what had transpired back at the clearing by the river. Zach had seen Bryer stab his sister. He had seen her die right in front of him before being jerked back moments before the event happened. What was more, he was able to stop it. Zach bit his lip. Maybe it was a side effect of the way he had used his magic, or what he had experienced prior was a vision of some kind. Maybe he was actually more fit to be a seer and just hadn't realized it yet. But then there was the female voice he had heard before the world Shifted around him. It had said it Zach was 'good at playing with her toys.' What did that mean? Surely Bryer and Lili weren't the 'toys' mentioned. The magic he had used, then? But who would find magic as their toy? And what kind of game did she think Zach was playing?”
“You alright, Zach?” Bryer asked, snapping him away from his thoughts. “Not having second thoughts, are you?”
“What? No no, I'm fine. I was just thinking.”
“Really about what?”
“I bet it's a girl,” Lili said with a sly smile. Her smile quickly faltered as she came to a realization. “Wait. You were looking at me the entire time. What kind of thoughts were you having, exactly?!”
“Huh?! No! It's nothing like that! I swear!”
“At least I can see you still have your odd sense of humor, Lili,” Bryer said. “That alone proves you're you. At least for now, anyway.” Lili only grinned in response.
Zach rubbed his thumb against his cheek in thought before speaking: “Now that I think about it, there was a girl, actually. Back in Blueshire. Right before I entered the Sword Guild, a nice knight lady helped me find my way. I ran into her again today and she...offered to have coffee with me when I got back.” Zach felt his face flush against the cold atmosphere. Why had he brought this up now? It seemed so silly.
“Really?” Bryer asked. “In that case we better get you back to her in one piece, huh? But enough reminiscing, right now we have a keep to take.” Zach nodded as he looked at the skull entrance. Crimson Keep was just a short walk away. Inside was the blue gem needed to help Lili save herself, but it would no doubt be filled with various monsters and traps. There was a reason people avoided the keep, but if they were to succeed in this mission then they would have to leap right into the lion's den.
 
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Roxie1563

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I still remember this and always found myself curious and wondering when you'd update it. Now you did and it's still glorious as usual! ;D

Although, I see some mistakes but it's no big deal. :3

Now, the waiting game begins again for the next update that won't take like 400 years or so, lol.. ;3
 

KingdomKey

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Oh my gosh, CD updated! There's a new chapter! I can't contain my excitement!

I really like how honest Zach is about the cold and mana replenishment. Bryer and Lili being too cool to openly look like they're shivering made me laugh. And I nearly forgot about the girl asking Zach out for coffee. Which makes me a tiny bit suspicious but, I like how Lili makes the joke of Zach thinking inappropriate things about her. lol. xD This was a really great chapter! <3
 
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