Anima: The Masquerade

Damn Pirates
Always make a smooth ride rough...

This event has been a very long time planning. When important people die the world seems to just stop bloody turning and demand that everyone stop what they are doing and get to doing something new before it damn well falls apart. I’m not convinced that the world would fall apart if we didn’t have a Grand Cleric for a while, but the simple fact of the matter is that suddenly Grand Cleric Samsar died a month ago and I’ve been needing to spread my forces thin to protect damn oracles and church leaders from pirates that think they’re going to get a little richer because more transport than usual is happening.

Well, just as I get three Oracles to town safely, the one boat I was escorting myself got attacked. What a wonderful coincidence. It’s almost like they can smell me. The battle went much smoother than I had planned… when the captain received a neckfull of crossbow bolt… from one of his own. The battle broke as soon as it happened, not a very well put together band of pirates. But the one who killed the captain… He seemed a good enough kid, however he got onto a pirate ship is beyond me. Needs discipline, now, if he joined the Navy, I’d make a proper man out of him yet, but as it stands, I’m happy watching out my window while he swabs the deck.

The next job I’ll have to do is getting the bloody oracles back. I’ll keep my feet up until then, though.

Oracle Lydia, Temple of the Eleven
To be opened upon recieving

Dear Lydia,

I would personally like to extend to you my most humble gratitude for the services rendered, regarding my recovery from severe head trauma. Your skill and faith is unfathomably deep as is your connection to this world in which you serve. I cannot express my thanks enough, as I was expecting to be out recovering for a good two weeks. My gratitude seems to me insufficient, as the quality of our relationship is such that I do not think you like me much at all. In spite of that dislike, or distrust or whatever you would prefer to call it, you still performed a service that others would have paid ample money for at no cost to me, and that kindness seems to me incredible.
I regret that we have not got on together well, as my intention toward you is merely one of curiosity. You and I seem to keep crossing paths, and as your acquaintance I would prefer our relationship to be one of friendship rather than animosity. When I saw you at the bar, it seemed an odd coincidence, and then again at the temple I knew there was more to what lay in store than I could see. Perhaps as an Oracle you have seen more than I. I would like to remain in your company as someone you can rely on for your protection as well as for friendship. I have a great desire to protect the good people of Eternia from those who would do it harm, and that same courtesy extends to you and not simply out of proximity. No doubt you have much to offer this world, and I hope that you will be able to see that there’s much I have to offer as well. As such, I hope this letter will encourage you to see me not simply as a ignorant abrasive irritant, but a caring man in search of his own destiny.
I would be pleased if you could teach me more about the faith of this world, as it is simply not something I comprehend. Your ability to bring me a speedy recovery at the hands of the raw elements is enough to shake the very foundation of my knowledge. If it would be of interest to you, I would like you to teach me.
Please tell George that he is very skilled, and that I am personally grateful for stepping in to assuage the guardsmen who sought our incarceration for doing the right thing. I was glad we could save that woman, even if we had to break a simple trespassing law to do so.
In short, thank you for your kindness, may it grow and radiate on those near to you.

Your friend,

P.S. In two days time Mappo Orlong, Draco and I are going out into the woods to punch a bear. If you would be interested in joining us in a hunting expedition, please send word as soon as possible. Your company will be most welcome. Enclosed is an artists rendition of the events to come.

Your friend,

P.P.S. I just realized I already signed this letter and am unable to erase the aforementioned script. My apologies.

And it would have worked, too...
...If it weren't for those meddling kids and their Naval officer, too.

“Damn kids, think they can do anything they damn well please. They had a goddamn torch, Rob. In the sewer!” One of the guards exclaimed, watching the group walk away. “To think if they just did it the right way…”

The other guard shook his head. “Don’t worry, that one over there, he’s a troublemaker, he’ll get what’s comin’ to ’im.” The other guard said, “For now, let’s see what that officer said was down here…”

The two wandered down the sewers, following the directions that the Oracle’s guardian had set them to follow. It wasn’t long before they came across a gruesome and grisly sight, three women, one without hands, the other without legs, and one disemboweled. One of the guards ran to the channels and threw up, the other dropped his spear in disbelief. “…Monica…?”

Two hours later

“Investigator, this is the scene that the guards found.” A tall, hawk-eyed, black haired man stood at the entrance of the room, with three guards along with him, one without his helm on, staring at one of the bodies. The investigator looked at the poor man, clearly he lost someone important to him. He knew he’d have to ask uncomfortable questions soon… but first a quick search of the operating table revealed a hidden compartment… a journal. The Investigator flipped through a few pages before closing it, he could read it in more detail later, currently, the drawings and scrawlings meant nothing to the man.

He walked over to the sobbing guard and knelt down. “Sir, my name is Investigator Johan, can I ask you a few questions?” The guard, for the first time in a while turned his head away from the mutilated corpse he had been staring at to look at the investigator. His eyes were red, tears streaming down his face. He turned back to the body and nodded. “What’s your name, sir…?”

“Langsfield,” The guard choked out. “Robert Langsfield.” It was clear that he was having trouble speaking.

“How do you know this woman, Mr. Langsfield?”

“Sh-sh-,” The guard swallowed. “She is… was my wife.” The guard said, now sobbing uncontrollably. One of the guards that came in with the investigator put his hand on his shoulder. “Why? Why would someone do this?”

“That’s what I am here to find out, Mr. Langsfield. Do you have any knowledge as to why someone would want to harm your wife? Do you know that man on the side of the room? do you know the significance of her…” The investigator trailed off, looking at the body. “…Wounds?”

“No,” the guard said, now with steel in his voice, “I’ve never seen him before. And no one would want to hurt Monica. She was a sweetheart, and she helped everyone she came across, whether she knew them or not.” Just then a realization occurred to him that seemed to quench the fire in his soul. “She… she was pregnant…” Then he sobbed again.

The investigator attempted to calm him to get more answers, but failed. He stood up and looked around the room “Alright, let’s clear this place out, and scour the immediate area for what could be more rooms like this. Let’s get to work.”

Looks like a butterfly... (Entry for Lydia)
... Stings like a bee.

Four Years Prior to Current Events

“I don’t understand, why would she hit me,” Lydia asked as she tried to stop the stream of blood that seeped from her nose.

“You have to be more careful when dealing with violent people,” Oracle Jannice instructed over the rabble of city guards detaining the attacker. The old and wrinkled woman had been teaching Lydia some of the basics of leadership as they walked through the market district. During their walk, Jannice found her way to discussing the topic of dealing with the large number of angry or distressed people generally encountered while providing advice or insight to citizens which was one of the Oracle’s many duties.

Hearing the loud outburst between two citizens fighting over the last of a supply of honey, the older woman sent Lydia to deal with the commotion for first hand experience. Things quickly went sour as the nervous girl tried to put a stop to the conflict and earned a blow straight to the nose that knocked her off of her feet and onto the dusty stone tile.

“What should I have done differently then,” Lydia looked up at Jannice who thought silently for a moment on what to say before speaking.

“Have you ever seen a butterfly,” Jannice inquired.

“Of course I have. What’s a butterfly got to do with anything?”

“Are you scared of butterflies?”

“No, I’m not scared of butterflies,” Lydia answered with impatience. “Can’t you just tell me what I did wrong?”

“What about bees? You’ve seen those too, haven’t you?”

“Don’t you remember when I got stung last year? I hate bees.”

“You got stung by that bee, and now you fear them. You respect them and move out of their way when they fly toward you. That is what you need to do. Today, you were a butterfly. I could barely hear you speaking, and you were so skittish that no one took you seriously.”

“So I should sting people? Like hit them?”

“No,” Jannice chuckled, “but you should exert forcefulness. Forcefulness not in volume, or with sharp and cruel words, but in confidence and certainty. People respect those more than anger and violence.”

“I think I understand,” Lydia nodded.

“Good. Then you’ll do better the next time, won’t you.”

“I’ll try-”

“Lydia,” Jannice interrupted as she gripped Lydia’s shoulder and turned her so that she could look Jannice straight int the eyes. “With confidence.”

“Yes, ma’am, I will do better.”

In The Cafe During the Initial Hunting Party Planning

“But we need to get people now so that they have time to prepare too,” Harlan tried to explain to Kaylee. The two had fired off the same arguments repeatedly as if the other would suddenly understand their perspective, and the situation was doing nothing but grow in pressure as both became irritable with the other.

“But we’re not ready to find people, I told you-”

“Stop! Just stop,” Lydia interrupted. Both Harlan and Kaylee went silent as they waited for her follow up. She could feel her body trembling ever so slightly in nervousness now that she’d commanded her companion’s attention. She suddenly found herself unprepared for their cooperation as her mind fogged and her words slipped off of her tongue under the spotlight. “Harlan,” Lydia continued calmly, “you go get us some supplies. Kaylee, you go to the adventurer’s guild to find some people for hire.” The two agreed on the terms and immediately went their own way to do as they were told. Lydia took a deep breath as the pressure in the atmosphere of the room faded.

Now alone at the table with only George, she put her head on the table as she waited for her own nerves to settle down.

“George,” Lydia spoke after several minutes of complete stillness, “Let’s go find Kaylee. She needed directions to the guild.”

“Of course,” George stood and helped Lydia off of the stool and find her footing on the floor before handing the girl her walking stick and leading her out the door.

Not your average cave man.
Not your average man.

I can’t even begin to describe the kinds of men here in the Mars Cavern. They’re unintelligent, poor in hygiene and, no pun intended, they act like they were raised in a cave. Pathetic. What I really want in life is to find a man who lives for adventure and isn’t stuck in some sort of doctrined society. And of course, someone who’s hansom and strong.

The other week I stumbled across someone I can hardly begin to describe. As you know, Monique, the parties in the Mars Cavern are usually pretty exciting and there’s quite a bit of tom foolery going on. I know, I shouldn’t go to those parties, but the Caverns are so boring otherwise, and sometimes I just need to get out for a while and stretch my legs, you know? Well, I went to a party that seemed a little more crazy than usual. I know, I should be more careful, but something wonderful happened. I met the life of the party. There was this guy there. He was cute. Hansom. Okay, he was hot. Probably not the most attractive person I’ll ever see, but he came pretty close. He was singing terribly and making jokes all the while having drinks and getting some good laughs. There are people like him here, but this guy was different. I could tell by the clothes he wore that he wasn’t from the caverns. He said he lives in Eternia. So what happens? He sees me, walks over like it’s no big deal and asks me to dance! Can you believe it. I don’t even know if I’ve ever seen someone walk up to me even when they were drunk. I think I intimidate them with my good looks. It’s hard to say. Anyway, so we danced, and he was honestly pretty bad, but he made me laugh and we sat down for a couple of drinks afterward.
Oh, Monique, you gotta see this guy. He is built like a god. His muscles are in the peak of perfection, and the way he moves. Not to mention that guy can hold his liquor.

Well, I did something you probably wouldn’t be proud of. I went back to his room at the Inn. I know, I shouldn’t have. But it was wonderful. He doesn’t seem that smart on the outside, but he’s more intelligent than he lets on. He doesn’t see the world he wants to see, he just takes things as they are. It’s so simplistic, but then he understands things like honor and respect and the things that are important in life, you know? I know, it sounds kind of dumb. He’s from a merchant family in Eternia. MacAlistair I believe was the name. His name is Harlan. He told me to send him a letter to his house in Eternia. I think I might. He said he wants this to be more than a fling. I really hope he’s being true. The last few guys were such liars. I think he’s honest though.

He’s definitely adventurous. Last I heard from him he was going to fight a bear in hand to hand combat. Fight a bear! Can you believe it? He’ll get himself killed. He promised me he’d be careful though, and he did say he had a hunting party with him. He also promised me a pancake breakfast on his way back from the hunting expedition.

I can’t wait. Fingers crossed this guy is the one…

Tai Fu and Kung Chi
Or something like that...

Captain’s Log

A fortunate turn of events occurred just later this afternoon. A handsome young fellow by the name of Harlan MacAlistair requisitioned my employment aboard the Fortune. My crew, Robert Wanamaker and Thomas Kincaid have been hired to sail the Fortune at the expense of the young man and his consort of companions. All seemed to be in order at first and it was a fresh change of pace for Robert, Thomas and I. We have been out of work for what seems like an eternity. Not for lack of skill, mind you, but for lack of private sailing vessels owned by other than the nobility or navy or merchant class. This seemed like it could prove to be a wonderful experience for us all.

If I had known what sort of strange menagerie of individuals I would be working for, I may have considered a different job, or perhaps had the forethought to sail with a larger quantity of liquor. They are definitely that, individuals. Each has their own quirks and personalities, and they are about as coordinated as a bunch of monkeys. The first fellow I mentioned earlier, the handsome lad, is rather eccentric and high spirited. He comes across as unintelligent, but I believe he is simply inexperienced about the world. I will come back to this fellow later. The second fellow is a similarly handsome young man, though I can’t recall much about him. He and the first seem to do nothing but argue and try to prove which one is the alpha. The third individual is a young woman with a strange way of carrying herself. On the one hand she’s all seriousness and proper placement and upbringing. On the other, she seems to be eager for entertainment and is doubtless bored. Once when there was a lull in conversation as we sailed to Edge Tower, I caught her draping herself over the side of the ship and staring lifelessly out into the wild blue ocean. The fourth individual is an Oracle from the Mercury Lighthouse. She seems rather quiet, but I fear she is somewhat judgmental of others. She’s blind, which makes her all the more curious. I don’t know too much about the faith and all that, however. In spite of the Harlan’s best efforts to make friends, it seems this Oracle is determined not to acknowledge any semblance of friendship with this young man and instead seems to have deemed him an idiot. I don’t blame her exactly, and I’ll show you why in the following conversation I overheard.

This was something I overheard from the main deck. I didn’t pay a horrible amount of attention, but the conversation was definitely a strange one to my ears.

Harlan: Maybe you should get out some time, Draco. You know, punch a few bears, have a few beers. I mean, it’s no wonder you aren’t dating an incredibly gorgeous woman like I am. You spend all your time doing stupid pointless Draco type stuff.

Draco: Oh, and I suppose getting so wasted you don’t remember getting a tattoo would be a good use of my time.

Harlan: Who told you I got a tattoo?!

Draco: I saw it earlier when you were taking off your shirt and looking at your reflection in the ocean.

Harlan: Hey, I was just making sure I wasn’t sunburnt.

Draco: You’ve been wearing a shirt this whole time!

Harlan: Well at least I get some sunshine once in a while.

Draco: I get plenty of sunshine.

Harlan: Oh yeah, when’s the last time you went outside and enjoyed the fresh air.

Draco: Just the other day while I was training Ti Chi.

Harlan: Ti Chi. Pshhhh. Only wimps learn Ti Chi.

Draco: More like, only wimps learn Kung Fu. There’s more style in one move of Ti Chi than in the whole martial art, if you can call it that, of Kung Fu.

Harlan: Hey. Kung Fu is the greatest martial art in the world.

Draco: Maybe if you like looking like a Kung Fool.

Harlan: It’s better than punching people with Chai Tea!

Draco: It’s Ti Chi and it’s better than Kung Fu. If a Ti Chi master and a Kung Fu master were in the same room, the Ti Chi master would win.

Harlan: Maybe if the Kung Fu master was drunk. Kung Fu would win!

Draco: Ti Chi!

Harlan: Kung Fu!!

Draco: Ti Chi!!!

Harlan: Kung Fu!!!!

At this point I heard some sort of struggle and then a loud splash as one or both of the fellows went overboard. The man by the name of George, a retainer to the Oracle sighed and asked me to slow the boat so they could retrieve the two lads. So you see why this ship might seem to me a bit odd and perhaps not the best ship to sail. We’ll see just how it goes. At least it’s putting money in the old coinpurse.

-Captain Swanson

How can I protect people... (Entry for Lydia)
...if I can't protect myself

The image received from the mask was confusing and seemingly meaningless. Yet, it was simultaneously terrifying and unsettling to watch. But what did it all mean? The titanic machine of almost alien nature was unlike anything she’d seen before losing her sight. More so disturbing than the image was the feeling of emptiness that followed. Lydia could no more be sure what the mask had devoured than how to control what knowledge it gave, if there was even such a way. Doubtful.

Lydia snapped back into reality from her train of thought. Finding she’d been staring at the mask in her hands for some time, she let it drape from her finger by its eye-hole as her hand hung at her side in its resting position.

“Lydia, are you going to give the mask back,” Harlan asked.

“No,” she answered quickly and took a step back. Having felt the mask’s effects first hand, Lydia was unwilling to allow anyone else to be robbed for senseless images. She thought that perhaps in the right hands the mask would be invaluable. The chances that she or any of her companions would be able to make sense of anything the mask had to offer was simply too slim.

Harlan was hardly someone that Lydia admired, even if he had started to grow on her. Though he’d made a series of cute gestures to earn her respect, Lydia had been unconsciously hard set in her first impression that the man likely had a criminal past loaded with nefarious dealings. However, Lydia felt that even if Harlan was an idiotic ruffian, allowing the man to wander into the wrath of the mask without fully understanding the consequences would be wrong. No human deserved the mysterious sense of loss she’d suffered. It was one thing to trade a memory willingly, and another to have one whisked away from your grasp without ever knowing what was missing.

“Look,” Harlan explained with a harsh firmness, “I was the one who found the mask in the first place, and I was the one who climbed all the way up those chairs to get it. That, and it’s most dangerous to you since you have the gift. So just give the mask back, alright?”

Lydia lowered her head slightly to avoid the many pairs of eyes she was certain were now fixated on her. She sensed a thirst for power and control in Harlan’s voice past the excuse regarding her safety. Lydia had been warned countless times about people with selfish intentions. While she couldn’t know for certain what thoughts occupied his mind, the girl feared what lengths Harlan would to go in order to get such a powerful object back.

What would he do if she said no again? Would Harlan simply accept her decision, or grow angry that she’d defied him? Lydia was painfully aware that she would be unable to defend herself from from a man who if nothing else had proved his physical prowess. Harlan could simply walk up and force the mask from her hands, or beat her to a bloody pulp if he managed to find her alone.

Lydia took a deep breath and cleared the uncomfortable images from her mind. She wouldn’t be so scared or half as paranoid if not dealing with an object of limitless value. Lost for a different course of action, Lydia held the mask out for Harlan to take without another word. She couldn’t explain herself without risking false accusations. The girl felt him snag it out of her hand and turned her head away in shame and remorse. Lydia knew she could not protect someone who did not want to be protected.

“Be careful Harlan,” Lydia thought to herself, _"I’m not strong enough to save you from yourself."

Eye for an eye
You thought I'd say "tooth for a tooth" here? Shame on you.

Lydia nervously sat on a large log by herself with her head supported by her hands as she listened to all the sounds that came with a gathering around a bonfire. In light of her recent rise to the position of Oracle, Lydia had been chosen by the civilians of the Mercurial City around the lighthouse to be the guest of honor for the week-long Autumn festival that occurred during the week of the fall equinox; a three day celebration prior, a particularly large feast on the night of, and two more days of celebration after the matter.

Tonight marked the opening of the festivities on the edge of town near the tree orchard. Though the sun was still setting, the civilians were already busy with preemptive drinking and merry-making fun. The flames from the fire burned hot, and children danced about as they skirmished with sticks.

“Hey lady,” Lydia heard a young female voice that followed eager little footsteps through the grass. The child didn’t sound much older than seven or eight years of age.

“Hello,” Lydia looked up from her slumped position and smiled. She’d come to love the curiosity and energy that younger kids carried despite the fact that she herself hadn’t quite hit adult-hood.

“What happened to your eyes? They look weird,” the little girl comment without realizing how rude she was being.

“Oh. I uh,” Lydia scratched her head as she felt her face turn beet red. Mortified, she found herself at a loss for anything to say and unable to come up with an answer for the child. Without another word, Lydia stood and walked off as the beginnings of tears welled up in her eyes.

“Hey! What’s wrong,” the girl called out. Uncertain of what had happened, the young girl shrugged and skipped off to play with her friends. Lydia blindly wandered off as quickly as she could without tripping on the small inconsistencies of the dirt. She didn’t know where she was going, nor did she care. The girl she knew could find her way back so long as she didn’t wander so far off that the sounds of the festival disappeared.

It was then that Lydia rammed into a solid obstacle. She hadn’t been hit hard, but it had startled her badly enough that she fell backward onto her butt.

“Hey! Would watch where you’re-” the young male voice that had spoke so harshly paused before lightening up, “Oh, I’m terribly sorry, I didn’t realize. Let me help you up Oracle Lydia,”

“I’m fine,” Lydia stated bitterly as she wiped the tears from her eyes and simply sat cross-legged to try to preserve her now twice wounded pride.

“Are you alright Oracle?”

“Please, stop calling me that. It’s just Lydia. And no, you didn’t hurt me.”

“It’s just I wasn’t expecting someone to come marching out here while I was making a shot at a pheasant. So I guess I got a little upset when your impeccable timing caused me to miss the mark.” The young man paused as he realized Lydia was uninterested in his explanation. “Uh, my name is Markus. Good to meet you.” Lydia remained silent with her head turned away in hopes that Markus would miss her sniffling. “So, is something wrong? I mean I’m not mad at you or anything.”

“I know, I just need to be left alone right now. I don’t want to talk to anyone,” Lydia managed to keep a respectful tone despite the maelstrom of anger and embarrassment that flooded her mind.

“It sounds to me like you should talk to someone then,” Markus chuckled. Lydia could hear the young man sit down next to her before laying his arm across her shoulder. “If it’ll make you feel better I’m all ears.” Lydia shrank when met with the unexpected physical contact. She didn’t know him, but his flesh was warm and admirably firm.

“It’s really stupid, I just need time,” Lydia replied. Markus remained silent to prompt the girl to continue speaking. When the girl realized he wasn’t going to back down, she decided it was impossible to make more a fool of herself than she already had. “My father and I were very close when I was younger. That was before… well it was before a lot of stuff I’d rather not talk about. We always went to the docks to work. I could only help for a while before I got tired or bored and went off to play,” Lydia leaned toward Markus almost subconsciously as she began to grow more comfortable. She couldn’t explain why she’d decided to display such affection toward someone she’d only just met under such humiliating circumstances. “At the end of the long twelve hour days I was always exhausted. He’d carry me home in his arms, stare into my eyes and tell me how much I looked like my mother. How I had the same beautiful deep brown eyes that he fell in love with.”

“That sounds wonderful,” Markus commented after Lydia had gone quiet. “So what’s wrong then?”

“It was just some dumb kid telling me how ugly my eyes look now, after I was shrouded. I know its silly, I shouldn’t have taken a thoughtless comment from a child so personally. It just hurt to have one of my fondest memories assaulted,”

“I understand,” Markus assured her. Lydia took a deep breath while her new companion waited to see if she had anything else to say on the matter.

“I’m going to go back to the festival. It was rude of me to run off in the first place being the guest of honor and all. I guess if you want you can go after that pheasant.”

“I’ll come with you, if you don’t mind. It’ll be long gone by now anyway.” Markus stood and assisted Lydia to her feet.

“Thanks. I don’t make a habit of spilling my issues all over the place, I’m sorry,” Lydia apologized as she followed Markus toward the sound of the per-festivities.

“I asked, and you spoke. Don’t worry about it.” Markus sat Lydia down on the same log she’d been sitting on only a while back.

“Are we friends now? I don’t meet new people very often. I mean, I see new people all the time, but I don’t really meet them. Well obviously I don’t really see them because I’m blind. And you knew that,” Lydia rambled nervously.

“Yes, we’re friends,” Markus chuckled. “It’s okay to relax. We’re here to have fun, remember, not make public impressions.”

“Yeah,” she forced a laugh as her face once again grew warm with embarrassment. “So what do you do,” Lydia asked to force the subject matter away from her own idiocy.

“I’m a hunter by trade. I helped catch the boar for the Autumn Festival this year. I’m still learning from the veterans who’ve been at it for twenty years, but I like to think I’m a fair shot,” Markus explained. “What about you? I mean, what do you even do as an Oracle?”

“A lot. But mostly I sit on the base level and try to offer wisdom to those who seek it.”

“That sounds difficult.”

“It is. A lot of people don’t realize how much weight they’re putting on my shoulders. I don’t have all the answers.” Lydia paused for a moment as she thought on her words. “I don’t have any answers. I can’t actually help most people who come to me. I’m still not sure what to do about that.”

“You are the eyes and ears of the temple, aren’t you?”

“So they say.” She wasn’t entirely sure where Markus was taking the conversation.

“So go out and live. Get into trouble and get your hands dirty.”

“I don’t know, I would have loved that idea when I was younger. I’d be too scared to ever leave the city now,” Lydia admitted.

“Well, you won’t learn anything from staying cooped up in one spot. If you want to give advice on how to live, you need to live first.” The girl nodded as she realized there was truth to his words.

“Maybe you’re right.” Before she could continue any further, she was interrupted by the voice of the Mayor as he took command of everyone’s attention in front of the bonfire.

“Ladies and gentlemen! This year has been good to all of us. The fields have thrived and the cattle are fat. I did not do this alone but it is you, the citizens of the Mercurial City, that have allowed us to thrive and reap what we’ve all worked so hard to sow. But enough of this. I won’t bore you all with a long speech,” the mayor smiled and the crowd gave a hushed chuckle. “Tonight, let us start by formally introducing our Guest of Honor, Oracle Lydia!” As the citizens cheered and applauded, Markus pulled her up by the hand. “Lydia, front and center, if you would,” the mayor managed to say over the crowd.

Lydia followed Markus as he guided her to the mayor in front of the blazing fire. The older man took her hand and kissed it softly to signify he was honored by her presence.

“Do you have anything to say to the citizens of the Mercurial City?” The people went quiet at the mayor’s signal to allow her to speak.

“Um, thank you,” she managed to say under the unexpected spotlight. “Oracle Jannice was an amazing woman. It was hard to see her go only five short weeks ago. But I hope that I can follow in her steps despite her early departure from this life.” Lydia gave a quick bow and the citizens cheered once more as the sound of mugs colliding rang from every direction.

“So, Lydia, are you ready to start the Autumn Festival,” the Mayor asked. Lydia nodded quickly. She had already had more than her share of publicity for the week. “As our Guest of Honor, you have the privilege of delivering the killing blow to the biggest boar that our hunters caught over the course of the day.”

“What?” Lydia was startled. She had no desire to deliver a killing blow to anything. She felt the mayor hand her a wooden bow with one arrow. “I’ve never fired a bow before, shouldn’t we let someone else do it?”

“Nonsense,” Markus piped up. She hadn’t realized he was still standing at her side. “I’ll help you make the shot.”

“O-okay,” she hesitantly agreed after her only real excuse had been shot down. The mayor and Markus both guided Lydia to her position as several men carried a sedated boar that had been tied down to a custom made wooden table before setting it in front of her approximately 10 meters away. “Are you sure this is a good idea?”

“It’ll be fantastic,” Markus assured as he guided her bow arm toward the boar and helped her nock the arrow on the bow-string. The taller young man pressed his chest against Lydia’s back and rested his head next to hers. The excited crowd fell to a low chatter as everyone waited for the big moment. “Now pull it back,” he instructed with a whisper in her ear. Lydia pulled on the arrow as her arm trembled under the tension of the bow. After he realized she was straining, he held onto her wrist firmly to take hold of some of the pressure. “Now aim right there,” he adjusted the aim of the bow toward the heart of the boar, “and hold it steady.”

“I can’t concentrate with you breathing in my ear like that,” Lydia hissed quietly. The young man briefly massaged her shoulder before bringing his hand down Lydia’s side and onto her abdomen as he gently embraced her.

“Take the shot,” Markus smiled as he whispered heavily into her ear. Lydia blinked rapidly to focus on the shot and avoid melting in Markus’ arms.

The arrow flew straight as Lydia released her grip and the metal tip buried itself into the flesh of the boar. The pig gave a grunt, still alive, but it’s mind was too clouded with magic to care or respond to the damage done.

Meanwhile, Lydia felt a cold sensation in her side while her legs buckled and caused her to fall weakly to her knees. Quickly the numbing cold transitioned into searing hot pain that made it impossible to breathe, Lydia felt her side to discover an uncomfortable abundance of blood flowing from a wound that seemed to come from no where.

“What’s wrong,” Markus asked, suspecting the girl had become nauseous at the thought of killing the boar.

“I’m bleeding,” she strained between labored breaths. “Help me, I can’t breathe!” Lydia coughed violently and the unpleasant taste of iron filled her mouth as blood dripped onto her chest and on the grass beneath her. Panic ensued in the crowd, but the cries of the citizens quickly grew distant.

“Lydia,” Markus called to her urgently. The young man’s voice was only barely audible, and it was the last thing Lydia heard before slipping into unconsciousness.


A Recollection of Excitement
…my life ceased to be boring…

These past couples of months have been interesting. I’ve traveled even outside the Capital, more on the traveling later. The excitement started at the election ceremony. But the first strange event was a giant man came to my forge looking for some work. I later found out his name was Mappo, but more about the people later. Apparently sometime during the banquette one of the oracles disappeared. But I didn’t find out about that until after the elections. By the way during the elections I saw something weird. I’ll try to describe it later. I first heard about the disappearance while I was in the hot springs. It was shortly after I met Lydia. Lydia is an oracle who I have since become friends with. Again more later. When we heard, Neither one of us knew what we could do. We were in the hot spring having a nice conversation, so we just continued our relaxing conversation. I bit later we had left the hot spring and were wandering around the temple enjoying the atmosphere. Then we ran into him; Harlan. Again more on people later. Back to the story. He was all gung-ho about finding the lost oracle, and convinced Lydia to help find her. I just decided to tag along because it sounded intrusting. Eventually Mappo found some tracks to fallow. The tracks led us to a sewer where some guards told us we needed a permit to enter. We ignored them… we forced open the grate and went in. There I was able to see some faint traces of magic that we could follow so we lit a torch in order to see. In hind sight lighting a torch in a sewer wasn’t a very smart idea. Thankfully it didn’t blow up on us. A little ways into the sewer we found a side tunnel that led to what I can only describe as a torture chamber. Unfortunately the missing oracle was in the room. Fortunately she hadn’t been harmed. It was bloody and not good sight. Well there was a flash of light and Harlan hit the floor. I went straight for the oracle. Lydia’s guard George entered the room and killed the man that made the light. I know I’ve been saying later about the people but George is amazing. He stepped into the room and thrust his spear, lodging it in the man head. The man died on the spot. It was the most amazing display of soldiery I’d ever seen. He’s just amazing. He’s a naval officer that’s been acting as Lydia’s guide and guard while she’s in the capitol. I’ve also seen him drop a wolf and a bear. After that we freed the oracle and left the tunnels. On the way out we ran into the guards again. Harlan tried to talk our way of trouble but didn’t get very far. However George stepped up and got us off. It was one of the most peculiar situations I had ever experienced. But that’s not where the story ends.
Ok so I said more about the people later. Well now is later.
The first would have to be Mappo. When I said a giant man, I meant it. He’s more than 3 feet taller than me. And apparently he is very good at working with leather. Good enough my dad let him work at the main shop. He doesn’t have the most fluid of speech but from what I can tell he’s a good man. Graham hired him to make a suit of armor with the house crest on it. So we’ll see how things turn out. As it turns out he also handy with an axe, plus he knows how to handle himself in a fight.
Let’s see after Mappo I guess its Harlan’s turn. When I first saw him he was trying to get Draco another of our band of misfits to eat some very spicy food. Apparently Draco had just tricked Harlan into eating it so it was for revenge. It was rather amusing to watch. It broke up the monotony of the banquet. As it turns out Harlan is the son of a merchant. He seems like his heart is in the right place but I not sure if he thinks things through. My evidence for this is the phrase “Gonna punch a bear.” When we decided to go hunting, Harlan spoke said phrase several times. I’m not sure he knows how absurd it sounds. But as I said it seems like his heart is in the right place so I’ve come to trust him.
After Harlan I think Draco is next. It seems there is some kind of rivalry between him and Harlan, but all in good-natured fun. They’re constantly competing in one way or another. Seems like they’ve know each other for a long time. Of the people in the group I know him the least but I’m pretty sure he does what’s right when the time comes.
Last there’s Lydia. I’ve taken a liking to her. She is the oracle of the mercury tower. She can see, but not in the normal sense. Her eyes are blind but she can still see the things that I can see. Not normal things like color and light, but the magic and the tendrils. The stuff Harlan calls fuzzies’. She knows magic and seems quite adept at it. She’s quiet and reserved, but willing to help. She even taught me how to read brail. I then figured out how to write it. I plan on transcribing books into brail so she can read them. I don’t know much about her past but I intend to get to know her. I hope our paths travel along side each other for a long time.
Earlier I said I would try to describe the strange thing I saw. It looked to be very big. It had 4 legs, a set of wings and an eye. That’s it. It seemed to look right at me. It was a little unnerving. Later at the edge tower the Arch-Mage said people who can see it call it the guardian. That’s all we know about it.
This was the first chapter of how my life has shaken off the shackles of boredom. The monotony of life has faded and now I’m having fun.

Mappo's journal
Bandits Hurt

I was told by a wise man that to know where you are going you have to know where you have been. As such i have decided to make a journal to tell where i have been. Starting when the bear hunt was over because I have know the rest of my life to well that it is burned into my very soul.
As I walked back into town i said my goodbyes to my friends and headed over to the merchant district. I had to look for a while to try and find me a proper set of armor and a weapon. After spending all day wandering the marketplace i found that the only weapon even close to suitable is a regular greataxe, Bah weaklings weapon. But even worse than that is there is no armor for someone of my size. So i had an idea i got 3 bear pelts i will make myself a good fur armor. After 2 months and 1 failed attempt i got what i was looking for a quality fur armor.
While i was working on my fur armor I was in my off time looking at the job board in town. I found a few pieces of jewelry or clothing out in the woods. got me a few tussles with one animal a wolf it kept hitting me and running away i would hit it once and it ran. finally i got my hit just right and took its head. On the job board there were a few other jobs that i mostly stayed out of because i knew they were part of a bigger kidnapping plot but there was this one kid that was on the board he had brown hair, blue eyes, 7 years old, and 4 6 tall nothing like the common missing person so i went searching.
I went to his home and talked to his parents they were decent and successful merchants so they had good money probably the reason for this kidnapping. They knew nothing of who would have taken their boy but they told me that they would pay to see him back. I told them not worry and went to his last place seen his bedroom. I started checking for tracks and marks i found that there was the marks of 3 men coming into his room to take the boy and they left though the window. At the base of the window there was cart tracks so i followed into the city and through it heading out but there the tacks died so i followed their direction. 5 hours later i found a camp. it had 4 men in it 3 of them asleep and one on watch. I took out the man on watch in one clean swipe but i didn’t silence him and he awoke one of the others. That man looked around for the man on watch and found me then screamed ”jayan!”. So not knowing what else to do i waded into the camp and started swinging my axe and stopping all life and sound. They could not send me to join them. Oh how i miss you sofia, kelly, and alex i will meet you again. After i was done with them i looked through camp to find the boy tied up to the tent pole lookin scared and hungry so i told him to close his eyes and i will take him back home as fast as i can. after we were out of camp i stopped and fed him. in about 3 hours time we got back to his house it was then i realized that i was not only hurt but seriously injured so i took a visit to my friend the oracle. she helped me to recover much quicker, thank you Lydia.
After this i realized that my combat skill were lacking and i decided on the weekends i traveled to the nearest outpost of the rangers. When i approached i found i knew a few of the men that ran it. I talked to them and they were more than happy to bring me back up to speed with them, Thanks Boys. As i was training realized my weak point is my armor. I need to find how to wear it and how to make it better. They had a master armor smith at the outpost as they should so i learned tips and tricks i could. But how to wear the armor that would be much harder. The next day as i went back home and went to the smithy Kaylee returned and told me of some adventure they had been on. She mentioned the edge tower and how they have a trainer for everything. I got an idea so i asked her if she was going back soon and she said that she would in a week so i asked to go along and she let me. When we reached the edge tower i went on a search for a summoner. I found one i told him could i talk to one of the ancient heroes so that i could learn the way to train with armor. He understood and allowed me to do this. After weeks of training i now understand how to properly train and wear armor.
Now there isn’t a whole lot left to tell oh here comes Harland to my room he doesn’t look happy this is either an adventure or no booze i’ll tell you later which is which.


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