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File 13907696592.jpg - (569.62KB, 1000x1415, 9020e24338f040fde8285ad7a225b965.jpg) [iqdb]
Sometimes, a world simply cannot go on.

A world cannot exist without mana, the lifeblood of everything. There is nothing that is not made up of mana. No matter the world, no matter the people, no matter the level of technology, mana will be found. Some worlds produce it naturally, some require "generators" to supply mana, usually by drawing mana in from the sun with "Recievers" and spreading it across the planet. These Receivers are usually in the form of large trees with roots spread throughout the planet. There is one such world in which the tree is dying, and another world whose very fate is tied in with it.

This is a story of two worlds, connected by one man and his dream of a better life.


"Fuck!" I shout. I'm standing in the middle of a prison cell, completely stripped of my weapons. No guards have been down in this area in almost an hour and I'm getting restless. It would be different if there was another prisoner for me to talk to, but no one has answered my calls. I know that I'm alone, no one lives long in one of their prisons.

This couldn't even be called a proper cell. It's just an alcove with metal bars and door. No bed, toilet, nothing. I press my hands against the bars, there is a slight give on a couple of them. "Heh, I guess I shouldn't be surprised," I laugh. These prisons are old, likely from the Second Era. These bars have likely been here for three hundred years now. Judging from the lack of rust and wear, I figure that they're made of Mithril.

The cement floor around the bars is broken and loose. Kneeling down I pull on one of the bars and it slides towards me. "How the hell did I not notice this sooner?" I ask myself. "Oh, right," I chuckle, "I was distracted by that cute guard." After a couple minutes, I manage to dislodge one of the bars and slip between the gaps. "Good thing I'm a skinny bastard." Though the spacing of the bars certainly didn't hurt either. The bar I dislodged is a decent length and might be useable as a weapon. I'm not crazy on the idea, but I know that I can't be picky in a jailbreak. I will have to use both hands to wield it, which is something I'm not used to, but I'll manage.

"All right! If I remember right, I shouldn't be too far from the lab." I rush out into the hall. The whole building looks dilapidated, but it's surprisingly sturdy for a centuries old fortress. It's no wonder they turn these places into internment camps and laboratories. I stop at every intersection to make sure there is no one around the corner, but don't find a single soul.

"Where is everyone? You'd think that they'd step up their security if they caught an intruder!" It is not like them to just stop their patrols. My apprehension grows as I get closer to the center of the fort. Normally, I would get the hell out of here but something really fishy is happening.

"Okay," I absentmindedly mumble to myself, "let's take a moment to review the situation. I'm in a Desian fortress that probably belonged to one of the other major factions just a few years ago and just broke out of the prison. Before that I was scavenging around the outside collecting what I thought were shiny rocks. Turns out they were exsperes that were blown out of the building due to an explosion in the labs." I stop and look around the hall. "I really should learn not to talk to myself like that."

"Yes, you should," a girls voice says from above. I jump back in the direction I came from and look up to the ceiling to see a small little girl, and I mean little, floating in the air. She has long green hair and is wearing what looks like a piece of a burlap sack as a dress. "You don't look like you belong here." She observes with a childish tinge to her voice.

"To be fair, you don't look like you belong here either," I respond.

"That's because I don't!" Her voice is soft, like a gentle breeze, but it still has a weight to it. Like she has been through a lot in her life. "Hey, if you're breaking out, I need your help!" She flies down in front of my face and I get a good look at her. She's maybe about as tall as my head and looks to be ten or eleven years old. Still, the determination in her little green eyes betrays any childishness about her.

I don't feel any hostility from her, and I doubt anyone of that size could really harm me anyway. "Sure, if you're on your way out I'll help. But first, I need to find the labs. Something about this place bothers me and I intend on finding out what's going on."

"I can show you the way, but we gotta hurry," she says as she perches on my shoulder. "They've been fussing over 'a new find' or something like that! I saw them bring her in though! She's just a girl!"

I narrow my eyes and break out into a run. I have absolutely no reason to trust the creature on my shoulder, but if they plan on experimenting on a child then I have to stop them! She shouts out directions as I run, up until we reach a large metal door in what I think is the center of the complex. "Here?" She nods. There's a keypad next to it, but I have no clue what so ever as to what the password could be. "So, you got any idea on how to get in?" There is no way I can force my way through the door, but maybe by smashing the keypad it'll open up? Nah, that would never work.

"I have no clue, but we can't just sit here and stare at it all day! We've got to hurry!" She zooms over to the keypad and presses a few buttons, only to be greeted by an earsplitting beep. "Nope, that wasn't it." She repeats the process once more to the same result. "Dang it!"

Before she even gets to try again the door opens and we're treated to a host of armed guards. Some have staves, obviously magic users, and others have a variety of weapons. "Well, fuck," I mumble to myself. A quick count tells me that there is no more than seven. It's a good thing these halls are pretty spacious!

I start walking back from them, chances are they expect me to run. So, I just have to lure them from the door. These guys aren't very well armored so my "weapon" should work fine. They've got metal helmets that cover their eyes and nose but leave the mouth and lower portion of the head unprotected. A single metal plate protects their chests and the rest of the armor is leather based. My guide is floating up near the ceiling out of their view. I don't really expect any help from her anyway.

"Hey, guys," I say casually, "I'm, uh, new here? Yeah, that's it! Could you guys show me around?" I smile harmlessly, knowing full well that they don't buy it. Still, I see a couple of them smirk before they charge at me. Four guys with swords, two with staves, and one with an axe. The staff wielders stay in the back with the man with the axe guarding them, but the swordsmen are attempting to flank me. I suppose I'm not that grateful for the space anymore.

There's no way I can win like this. If I had my equipment then I would be fine! There's no time to think about the consequences! As the swordsmen charge at me, I rush past them and the remaining three and through the doors. I may not be the physically strongest guy out there, but my speed is nearly unmatched by anyone not using magic to get an edge.

Well, regardless of my speed or strength I make it past them, and my miniscule companion slips through the doors as I close them behind me. They would obviously know the code to get back in, so I do what any sensible person would do and smash the keypad on this side of the door. Honestly though, I have no idea if that will work so I need to work fast.

"This it?"

"Yeah!" She perches herself on my shoulder once more. I would complain, but now really isn't the time. "I just hope we aren't too late," she says grimly.

I take a good look around the room, making sure to keep the locations of the any doors I see in mind. Who knows when I'll have to make a hasty retreat. I make my way towards a large cage in the center of the room while sidestepping tables, chairs, various machines, operating beds, and the occasional bloodstain. This seems more like a hospital gone wrong than a laboratory. "So, who are you any way?" I ask my passenger.

"Oh, I thought you knew? I'm the Summon Spirit of Wind! Sylph!" Her voice is proud and dignified as she says this, but still slightly childish. But I can't help but stop and look at her in awe. "Well, since you know who I am, why don't you tell me who you are?"

"Uh," is all I can utter at first. The Summon Spirit of Wind is currently riding on my shoulder. A being that keeps the world alive is talking to me like an equal. I'm completely floored, not literally of course. But, wow. "I'm Maxwell," I finally say.

"Okay, Max! Nice to meet you!"

"Maxwell," I correct her. "I don't like being called 'Max'." She nods and we go back to our silence as we reach the cage. It's a simple metal cage, or so it seems at least. Inside is a small girl who looks no older than nine. She's wearing a red and white dress with a little bit of gold around the collar and a green hat. The thing that surprises me the most are her ears! She's got a pair of black cat ears poking out of her brown hair. She seems to be asleep right now, but doesn't looked to be harmed. "Hey! Kid! Wake up, we're getting you out of here!" There's no time to wonder about her ears, I can ask my questions later.

She must not have been in a deep sleep because she starts to wake up fairly quickly. She looks me in the eyes and I can see the fear in hers. "ZKR DUH BRX?"

Oh shit. "Uh, what?" I have no idea what she just said! I look to Sylph who looks just as confused as me!

The girl tilts her head and frowns. "KHOS," she puts her hands on the bars and looks at me pleadingly. "LP VFDUHG" I wish I could understand her, but I think I got the gist of it. I mean, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that she's scared and is asking for help!

I nod and examine the cage. It's well built but I think I could break it open. But how do I do that without scaring her witless?

Before I can think of a way, the doors, minus the one I broke the keypad to, open up and I see maybe twenty armed guards come in. They are outfitted similarly to the ones I encountered earlier. In mere moments I'm surrounded. "Surrender and we will spare your life!" One of the calls, presumably the one in command.

"Sorry," I reply with a grin, "I'm not going to just lie down and let you experiment on an innocent child." I flash the little girl a gentle smile. "So, I hope you made your peace." I ready my improvised weapon and pick my first target. I can't use the bar if I intend on winning! I'll have to "borrow" one of their weapons. Now, who should I choose?

[] The guy with a sword and shield! It is a balance of offense and defense that could prove useful for a fight like this.
[] The chick with the twin blades! I could be a whirlwind of death with those!
[] The big muscular guy with the axe! Power, that's the way to go for now!
[] That's a nice spear, I think I'll take that! It's got reach and piercing power, should do nicely against the leather armor!
[] On second thought this bar actually makes a pretty decent weapon. The reach and weight are decent, and with my speed I can take them out before it become a problem anyway.
[X] On second thought this bar actually makes a pretty decent weapon. The reach and weight are decent, and with my speed I can take them out before it become a problem anyway.

We're gonna do this in true jailbreak style. Plus it's Mythril, no reason to throw it away so quickly.
[X] On second thought this bar actually makes a pretty decent weapon. The reach and weight are decent, and with my speed I can take them out before it become a problem anyway.

Oh, man! I've WAITED for a Tales of. This feels like a Tales of! Please be a Tales of!!! If not I STILL the start. Let's do this thing. Shining Dragon Swarm!!...Sorry.
[x] On second thought this bar actually makes a pretty decent weapon.

Caesar shift, three letters back: "Who are you?", "Help", "I'm scared".

It's Tales of Symphonia, specifically.
[x] On second thought this bar actually makes a pretty decent weapon. The reach and weight are decent, and with my speed I can take them out before it become a problem anyway.
I know absolutely nothing about Tales.
Also, your writing seems a little rushed. You don't need to fit a million things into one update.
[x] On second thought this bar actually makes a pretty decent weapon. The reach and weight are decent, and with my speed I can take them out before it become a problem anyway.

Let's not lose time and momentum trying to wrestle a weapon away from someone. If we can use sword and shield, dual swords, axe or spear proficiently (enough), then we should be able to use a staff.

I've played Tales of Symphonia some time ago but I don't remember much of it, just than bits and pieces.
[X] On second thought I'm gunna whoop deez niggas wit dis here bar.
[x] On second thought this bar actually makes a pretty decent weapon. The reach and weight are decent, and with my speed I can take them out before it become a problem anyway.

File 139102783387.png - (605.01KB, 600x600, Sylph.png) [iqdb]
On second thought, this bar makes a pretty decent weapon. The reach and weight are decent, and with my speed I should be able to take them out before it becomes a problem anyway. "Sylph," I whisper, "stay back." The hallway was too open for me to fight so many of them at once, but in here it's a totally different dance. I can also use the tables and machinery to my advantage. "So," I say to the guards, "who wants to be first?"

"Such arrogance," the captain says gruffly, "but that is to be expected of an inferior being." He brandishes his sword and raises his shield. "At least your death will be dignified."

"Now who's being arrogant?" I taunt. Gripping the bar tightly I smirk and say, "Let's dance!" I lunge towards the nearest guard and bring the bar down on his head before he has a chance to react. He falls to the ground with a scream. I doubt he's down for the count, but I can't waste the time to finish him right here. I have to keep moving and do as much damage to the others before he gets back up.

"Get him!" shouts the commander as I jump onto one of the tables. I can see a few people in the back channeling magic. I doubt they will cast anything very dangerous with their allies in the way, but it's better to be safe than sorry. The tables are fairly evenly spaced, so jumping from one to another isn't very difficult. I will have to pick my path carefully though since I still have a whole host of enemies trying to kill me.

I close the gap between the casters and leap from the table. The closest one launches a barrage of fireballs at me. I hit the ground and roll under the flames. Using the momentum from the roll, I thrust the rod into his chest knocking the air out of him and put him on his back. With one swift motion I stand and bring my heel down on the man's throat, crushing it immediately.

I feel a chill and spin around to see more than a few icicles being formed around a nearby mage. Behind me I can hear the sound of running water. A single Icicle gets launched at me, instead of dodging I swing my bar to knock it into the wall. Before he can send another I rush forward, spinning the bar in front of me to act as a shield. The ice spikes fan out and come at me from various angles and speeds.

There is no time to change course. I stop spinning the bar and use it to vault over the projectiles and right into my attacker. My feet connect with his chest and he gets knocked back, giving me an opening to bring the bar around and into the side of his head, sending him spiraling.

Turning around, I'm faced with half a dozen globes of water hurtling towards me. I can't dodge in time, so I brace myself in the hopes of not losing my footing. I raise my arms to protect my face, and the water impacts them and my chest with the force of a bodybuilder's punch. I'm able to withstand the attack, but my arms and chest hurt like hell and I'm soaked to the bone. Ignoring the pain, I run toward my foe. Two swordsmen try to block my path, but I use the water on the floor to slide under them and into the mage's legs. He falls on top of me, but I force him off.

I'm backed into a corner now, but I have the advantage. Due to the positioning of the tables, they'll have to come at me in small groups and from only two directions. From what I can tell, the guy at my feet is the last spellcaster, so I finish him by jamming my rod into his throat. As the blood pools around him and my feet, the swordsmen I passed approach me with great caution. "Looks like you guys aren't doing so hot," I tease. "Surely you should be able to take out an inferior being like myself with no problem. Or am I just too much for you?"

One of them growls and lunges forward with a swipe at my chest. I block it, and with a flick of my wrist his sword comes clattering to the ground. His jaw drops, and I close it for him with an upward swing a moment later. He staggers back and starts coughing only for a piece of his tongue to fall out. I bring the rod back down on his head, ending his pain. His companion screams before lunging at me, blade extended.

Unfortunately for her, my bar has a longer reach than her. I thrust it out and jab her repeatedly in the chest, then bring the bar around for a low sweep to taking her off her feet. Once she's down, I slam the bar into her head a few times to finish her.

There is still a few enemies left, but that doesn't bother me as much as it should. I know that one wrong move could be the end of me, but I can't help but feel a little excited. It must be the adrenaline.

The large man with the axe thunders towards me, weapon raised in the air. I'm no expert on defense, but even I know that he's leaving himself wide open. I use his stupidity to my advantage and jab him repeatedly in the chest, arms, and legs. Normally hits like these would do nothing to someone his size, but I manage to take him down by focusing on the joints and other vulnerable areas.

The man falls to his knees and I see the woman with the twin blades right behind him. She jumps up, using his back as a springboard to get even more height. She comes down with one blade ready to thrust. I don't have much room, so I parry the thrust only for her to slash with the other blade. I spin the rod to deflect it, but she goes for my throat.

It's all I can do to keep defending myself. Each of her swings gets closer and closer to striking me. Finally she manages to slip past my defenses and nick my right shoulder. It hurts, but it's not going to be the end of me. She tries to finish me off then and there by using her blades like scissors and attempting a decapitation. Big mistake. I easily block by raising the bar in front of me. We stand there trying to force the other back,when I notice that she's putting a lot of weight on one leg.

With a smirk, I let up and allow her blades to get closer, then kick her knee with as much force as I can muster. Due to her stance and the force of the kick, it's no surprise that I can feel the joint shatter. She goes down and grabs hold of her shattered knee, screaming in pain. Making sure to kick her swords away from her I move on to finish the Axe wielder who, either due to his size or his faith in his friend, had been staying back. Not that either one is gonna help him now.

I'm not going to try blocking the axe, seeing as it could probably cleave the bar in two. Instead I go on the offensive in order to tire him out. Still, past experience with people like him tell me this won't be fun.

My attacks are mostly aimed at his arms; if he can't hold his weapon then he won't be much of a threat.

Or so I thought. He just won't drop the damn thing! "Aw fuck this!" I jump over a nearby table and rush back to the center of the room.

Or I would if I wasn't blocked by the guy (I think) with the spear. Him, the giant, and the captain are the only ones left to take out. Wait a minute, where is the captain anyway? I try to find him, but my search is interrupted by the sound of metal scraping against the floor. I turn my head to see the axe-man sprinting towards me, with a scowl that shows nothing but the greatest contempt on his lips.

I have to time this just right.

I jab the bar at the man in front of me. He counters by doing the same and we both have to tilt our heads.

The footsteps are getting louder.

He aims for my stomach and I deflect it. I use this moment to get a cheap hit in and slam the bar down on his head, dropping him to his knees.

I can almost feel the axe being raised. With no time to look, I leap over the lancer and roll when I hit the ground. As I right myself I see the axe be brought down onto the head of my enemy by his friend.

The room is silent, save for a few groans of pain from those that I didn't actually kill. The large man looks to me and shouts, "You bastard! I'll destroy you!" The anguish and rage in his voice hurts. I know it's kill or be killed, but I try to dehumanize my enemies to make it easier. But it's hard to ignore something like that.

Regardless of my feelings now, I have to survive. I don't give him a chance to do anything before I rush forward, pick up the spear, and thrust it into his chest. He staggers back and collapses. I drag the bar behind me as I return to Sylph and the girl. I make no attempt to hide my exhaustion or regret.

"Max, are you okay?" Sylph asks, as she examines my shoulder.

"It's nothing. And it's Maxwell." I correct her again. "Come on, we need to get her out of here before the captain shows back up." I don't see a door or lock on the cage, but it's welded to the ground. "Did you figure out how to open this?" I can't help but think my voice sounds more than a little sullen.

"No, but I think I could use a spell to cut it open." She says perching on my good shoulder. "But I don't want to scare her."

I sigh and look at the girl, she's cowering as far away from you as she can. "I don't think she can get any worse than this."

"Oookaaay," She says. There is a moment of silence as she focuses. "Wind blade!" A powerful gust of wind blows and cleaves the girls prison apart.

Surprise, fear, confusion, and a little hope rapidly flit across her face. Kneeling down I extend my hand towards her slowly and say, "Come with me."

Slowly, ever so slowly, she reaches out to me and takes my hand. As I help her up, I can see a pair of black tails at the base of her back. She's scared, but at least she seems to trust me. "Okay, Sylph, how do we get out?"

"Just follow me, I know a shortcut!" She leaves your shoulder and leads you out of the room. The girl is walking beside me, holding my hand and constantly glancing around fearfully.

Thankfully, we don't encounter anyone on our way out. The moment we step outside, the girls face brightens and she starts smiling and laughing.

"WKDQNV D ORW!" She sounds so happy. Pointing to herself, she says, "Chen!" Then she points at me and says, "ZKR DUH BRX?"

"Uh?" I have no clue what she just said.

She points to herself again, "Chen," then points to me questioningly.

I point to myself and say, "Maxwell?" I guess that's what she was asking.

"Maxwell?" She says questioningly. I nod and then she points to Sylph.

"Sylph!" The spirit announces proudly.

"Sylph?" Sylph nods, causing the girl to say both our names over and over again.

When she quiets down, I lead the two of them away from the fortress and deep into the woods. Trying to go to a town right now would just be stupid. The Desians probably have the roads blocked, or watched, and I don't want to bring anyone else into this until we put some distance between them and us.

"So, what now?" I ask my group, even if only one of them can understand me.

Sylph lands on my shoulder again, "Well we should probably do something about your shoulder. You know, before it gets infected." She has a point. "If I could use my full power I could just heal it up for you, but well," she trails off and looks disappointed.

"It's okay," I tell her. "Shouldn't you be getting back to wherever you live or something?" I know each of the summon spirits live in an area where their element is the most prominent and that they go there to regain their lost power.

"Well, I would, but I don't think I can make it on my own," she admits, rather reluctantly. "I've been away for far too long. If I had a summoner or a contract with someone, it wouldn't be an issue because I would just borrow mana from them."

"Okay, well, I guess I can get you back home." My better judgment tells me I shouldn't get wrapped up in this, but I'm not one to just abandon people. "Besides, I could use your help with her," I gesture to Chen. "Do you know anyone that might be able to understand her? I mean, she could be from one of the ninja villages, but I kinda doubt it."

"Hmm," Sylph thinks about my question as we watch the cat eared girl chase after a butterfly. "We could ask one of the other summon spirits. Undine is really smart, so she might be able to!"

"Well, if she's on our way to your domain, then I have no problem stopping."

Sylph chuckles sheepishly and says, "Well, she is on our way, but I doubt I'd make it even if we didn't stop to rest. So," she hops off my shoulder and floats in front of my face, "I want you to make a contract with me!"

"What!?" I shout in surprise. "For how long? And what does it entail?"

"Well, the contract is for as long as we're willing to put up with each other. Most summoners want to use our power for themselves so we make them tell us what they want to use it for and if we agree we lend it to them until they either proved to be untrustworthy or have died." She explains it simply enough for me to understand. "As for what you'll have to do? You just have to supply me with mana and I will give you a portion of my power when you need it. Some people learn to use magic after contracting with a spirit, so it would actually benefit you more to help me out!" She takes her place on my shoulder once more. I kinda get the feeling that it will become her "spot" should we travel together for much longer. "Now, there is one more thing." She says quietly. "We'll be linked. As in, I can turn myself into pure mana and live inside you as well as talk to you telepathically. So we'll always be able to talk to each other should we need or want to."

"Just to explore my options, is there any other way for you to get mana?" I ask, feeling a little uncomfortable about contracting with her.

"We could always go to areas where the element of wind is more prevalent or just in abundance, but that would involve going out of our way more often than would be preferable." She says it plainly, but I can tell she isn't keen on the idea of wasting time. "So, what do you say?"

-What should I do? Contracting with her has some advantages, but at the same time the idea makes me uncomfortable.
[] Contract with Sylph
[] Don't contract with Sylph

-Regardless of my choice with Sylph, we still need to do something about Chen.
[] I know where one of the ninja villages is, but it's a little out of the way.
[] Sylph said Undine is on our way, that would be our best bet.
[] Contract with Sylph
[] Sylph said Undine is on our way, that would be our best bet.

Seems sensible. Though, the road less travelled route would be pretty cool too.
[x] contract with Sylph
[x] always bet on undine
High hopes.
[X] Contract with Sylph
[X] Sylph said Undine is on our way, that would be our best bet.

I hope you know what you're getting into, posting that Sylph.
[x] Contract with Sylph
[x] Sylph said Undine is on our way, that would be our best bet.

"WKDQNV D ORW!" = "Thanks a lot!"
"ZKR DUH BRX?" = "Who are you?"
[x] Contract with Sylph!
[X] Contract with Sylph
[X] I know where one of the ninja villages is, but it's a little out of the way.

It's a bit of tide pissing, but the village sounds like a sidequest. Everyone loves sidequests.
I will begin writing this evening and hopefully have something out this weekend. I will update every Wednesday, and I hope to update on the weekends too.

On a side note, how did the flow of the last update feel to you? Mostly the battle. If it was too slow/fast, detailed/obscure, long, and or just boring please let me know.

I hope you know what I'm getting at, posting that Sylph.
I think the flow of the update was perfectly fine. If you're doing something wrong, someone will surely point it out to you.
File 139137790790.jpg - (106.99KB, 500x706, 266eca772db5c48e091e5e4d5db135a3.jpg) [iqdb]
Well, I see no reason not to contract with her. It's not like I'm selling my soul or anything.

"All right," I tell her, "I'll do it."

Sylphs face lights up as she starts flying around giddily.

"So, what do we have to do to make one anyway?" I know practically nothing about making a contract, so I have no clue how to do it.

"Oh, right!" She stops in front of my face again and says, "A contract is like a promise, one that we both need to make and uphold. The promise I make is to lend you my power in exchange for mana and, in extreme circumstances, a host for my spirit should I get hurt. The promise that summoners make is different every time. Some people want power, some want knowledge, and others want to try and save the world." She smiles and adds, "You just have to promise to get me home!"

"All right, I can handle that. But, how do I give you mana? It's not like I can use magic or anything." It hurts me to admit it, but I'm a laughingstock among the elves. I never learned to cast a spell or channel spirits.

Sylph looks surprised for a moment before saying, "Oh, well, don't worry about that. I can do that myself when we're linked." She puts her hand on my forehead and says, "Now speak your promise and I'll do the rest!"

"Sylph, I promise to see you back to your home. Until then, lend me your power!"

Sylph begins to glow neon green and I feel warmth flooding into me from her hand. It's a gentle warmth, not unlike being held by a close friend.

"Hey, Max, since you couldn't use magic, is it safe for me to assume that you couldn't use Artes either?" Sylphs question pierces my heart.

"That's right," It's not something I like to admit. "Believe me, I tried to learn. I just couldn't figure it out! And seriously, call me Maxwell."

The spirit lands on my shoulder once more. "Well then, I won't just be leeching mana from you. I can manipulate the mana in your body now and help you use your Artes and spells!" She says with immense pride.

"Really!?" I can't help but feel excited at the thought. "I can use Artes now? But, how? I never actually learned any?"

"A lot of Artes are made up by the user. There are some exceptions, but most of the time you see someone use Demon Fang and they taught themselves how to do it."

"So, just make something up and you'll help me do it?" I ask skeptically, to which she nods. "What if I want to use something like Demon Fang or Demon Fist?"

"Then as long as you go through the motions, I can help you out. Trust me, it's easier to experience than it is to talk about.

To be honest, I'm not sure how people came up with Artes in the first place." She chuckles sheepishly as she tries to hide her face. "With magic though, you just have to feel the mana in and around you and give it a shape or command."

I look away from my passenger and see that Chen is watching Sylph with wide, expectant eyes. She probably wants to see her glow again.

"Hey, Sylph, about how long will it take us to reach Undine?"

"Depending on weather, the route we take, and if we get stopped by bandits or Desians." She answers simply. "It could take us a week or two."

"Well then, we should get moving," I say, walking over to Chen. I hold my hand out to her and say, "Come with me. I'll get you home."

She looks at me with confusion. Still she takes my hand and I smile. I hope she can tell that I just want to help her. Or at the very least that I don't want to harm her.

As much as I want to try and sneak back into the fort to get my gear, I can always replace it at the next town. Though the map would be handy right about now.

"We have to go north from here to reach Undine's Shrine." Sylph tells me as we make our way to the road. "We'll have to take a boat to it, but then we can take another boat to the town near my shrine." She's still riding my shoulder, but she's so light that it doesn't bother me.

"Works for me," I respond unenthusiastically. I have some bad memories involving boats, so I'm not exactly looking forward to the trip.

As we travel down the road, I keep looking over my shoulder for signs of pursuit. The fact that there are none only adds to my paranoia. I killed, or severely wounded, a fair number of people and rescued Chen. You'd think they would send someone after us, but so far we're in the clear.

The sun is setting by the time we reach a town. Maybe I'm being paranoid, but I don't want to risk getting the citizens involved if we are being followed. But, at the same time, Chen could probably use a nice bed to rest in and I need to have someone take a look at my shoulder. It doesn't hurt, but that’s the problem! At first, I was just attributing it to adrenaline, but now I'm not sure what to think. It's not normal.

[] Keep going. The Desians aren't above destroying a town to get what they want.
[] Stay at an inn. We need supplies and I need medical attention.
This one's short in comparison, but hope it doesn't leave you wanting. As I said before, I will update EVERY Wednesday, so I hope to keep a good schedule. Hope that's okay with you all.
[x] Stay at an inn. We need supplies and I need medical attention.

This is the crossover I never knew I needed. I'm perfectly fine with your schedule
[x] Stay at an inn. We need supplies and I need medical attention.

If they haven't made any obvious attempts of stopping us so far, they probably won't suddenly burn down an entire village to get to us tonight.

As for update schedules, I'm not sure if you've noticed but such a thing does not exist here at THP.
People try, but in the end it's always rather haphazard.
[X] Stay at an inn. We need supplies and I need medical attention.

Inn events~
I for one am disappointed in not contracting with Slyph the real and fun way.
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Well, there's no signs of pursuit so stopping shouldn't be too risky. "Chen, Sylph, we're stopping at the town up ahead for the night."

I point towards the town gate in the hopes of Chen knowing what I mean. Sylph looks at me and then at Chen and back to me. She makes little ears with her fingers and looks worried.

"Heh, you're right." I tell her. Crouching down in front of Chen, I ask, "Can you hide you ears?"

She should be able to hide them under her hat, but I don't want to do it for her, unless I have to that is.

She looks at me blankly, but has her head tilted. Words are useless right now, so I mimic Sylph and use my fingers to make ears on my head. Chen reaches up and grabs her ears and I nod. Sign language may be the best way to talk with her right now. Once I know that she understands, I fold my "ears" down like I'm hiding them. She presses hers down, only for them to pop right back up. I chuckle a little and mime putting a hat on. Her face lights up in understanding as she puts them under her green cap. I nod and pat her on the head, and I think I hear her purr in response.

I find it a little weird, but kinda cute. Still, her tails are a problem. All it takes is for me to point at them and she wraps them around her waist like a belt. After a nod of approval, I turn to Sylph. "Well, what about you? You'll draw attention by floating around like that."

"I know," she says quietly. She starts glowing and turns into a green orb of light. The orb then floats over and into my chest. I try to stop her, but my hand passes right through her. I can feel her presence in my body, but I don't quite know how to explain it. I feel light! Like I could run faster than usual. After a minute, I hear her voice in my head, "Wow, it's roomy in here."

"Hey! What the hell?" I growl. I know she told me she could do it, but I wasn't expecting it! "Give me some warning next time! And what do you mean by 'roomy'?" Is she calling me dumb?

"Oh, I just meant that your body has a lot of mana nodes." She uses a term I'm unfamiliar with, something I should probably get used to.

"Mana nodes?"

I can actually feel her sigh when I ask. "A mana node is where a spellcaster stores extra mana. Resting, eating, certain medicines, and even emotional triggers can replenish a node. People with more nodes are usually really strong or capable of using more spells and Artes."

Her explanation leaves me wondering how I can have so many, but be unable to even do any basic Artes or cast spells.

"I've just never seen nodes this dry before. It's like your body doesn't take in mana for anything other than survival."

"Is that going to be a problem for you?" I ask, feeling a bit worried that she might not get the mana she needs.

"Not at all, your body is absorbing twice the mana as usual to support me."

"So, it's a good thing?"


Well, now that Chen and Sylph are hidden or disguised we can head into the town now. It's a small town of brick buildings. It's lively enough, with street vendors, and a fair number of children are playing in the streets. No one even bats an eye as we walk down the streets. Part of me wonders if they even realize how close they are to a Desian base, but the logical side says that if they do, they're too scared to do anything.

It doesn't take us long to find the inn, it kind of stands out by being one of the biggest buildings in town. It's a fairly plain building on the outside, and the inside matches perfectly. I walk up to the counter where a young woman is standing, she almost looks like she's about to fall asleep standing up.

"Excuse me," I say gently as to not startle her. She acknowledges me with a slight nod. "How much are your rooms?"

"Two hundred gald per person," she answers back sleepily.

I always keep some gald tucked away in a pouch under my clothes, so I know I have enough for Chen and me. So I dig out the money and hand over some of the smaller coins. I should have a couple thousand left, which should be enough for some supplies and hopefully a doctors visit.

"I'll show you to your room," she says as she stretches.

I must say, she does have a nice figure. Maybe I could get the room for cheaper? No, now isn't really the time for that. I need to focus on getting Sylph and Chen home.

I'm led upstairs to a, surprise, plain room with two beds, a desk, a small table for eating, and a nice view of the town.

"I hope you and your sister have a nice stay," the hostess says before she walks off.


Sister? Do we really look like brother and sister? Well, okay, I guess if I saw two travelers like us I would assume them to be brother and sister. It works in our favor actually, if they think we're related, then I won't have to explain how I met her.

Sylph appears out of nowhere, drops onto a bed, and yawns. Chen does the same thing. After a couple minutes, the two of them are curled up together in the with Chen holding Sylph like a little doll.

"Aren't you two cute together," I say as I sit down on the bed opposite them. "Though, Chen looks to be out cold."

"She must have been pretty tuckered out," Sylph notes. "I guess you'll be going to bed soon too."

Shaking my head I say, "Nah, I need to do some shopping and get this cut checked out." I had been using the bar as a walking stick, and no one seemed to question it, but I decide to leave it next to my bed. "Sylph, I'm going out now, can you keep an eye on her?"

"Sure thing!" She chirps. "Just don't take too long, it's going to be dark soon."

"Don't worry, I'll be fine!" And with that, I'm off.

The town is still lively for so late in the evening, so it's easy for me to get directions to a local doctor. I pay up front and tell the doctor about my shoulder and how it doesn't hurt, but I'm worried about it. He winds up doing a variety of tests and comes to the conclusion that my wound was in fact caused by a sword! Who would have thought!? Aside from that, I'm perfectly healthy. He does give me some useful advice, and that is to keep an eye on it and if it doesn't heal seek out immediate help.

Feeling like I just wasted some money, I decide to purchase some basic necessities. Like a couple bedrolls, trail rations, a couple changes of clothes for me and Chen, travel cloaks, a compass, and a map. I'm pretty much drained of all my gald, but I may have enough for an actual weapon now, so I decide to stop at the weapon shop and see what they've got for sale.

I get to where the store should be. I mean, the sign says it's a weapon shop, but the door is locked and there doesn't seem to be anyone in there. "Oh well, I guess I can try tomorrow." Carrying all this at once is a pain, so before I try to do anything else I should drop it off at the inn.

When I get back I see that Chen is still sleeping, but Sylph has wrestled herself away and is sitting on the bed, watching the door.

"So, that's all you're getting?" She asks, not even bothering to say "hi".

I nod.

"Well, it makes sense. Traveling light is essential when you have to carry it yourself."

"Yup," I just agree as I set everything down and proceed to drop into the empty bed. "Good night, Sylph."

"Good night, Maxwell."

Aww, she finally got my name right. I'd comment, but I'm just too tired right now.


Great, I was only asleep for a couple hours and now I'm wide awake! With a sigh, I pick myself up and leave the room. Might as well take a walk and see if that tires me out any.

With the dark, moonless night, it almost seems like an entirely different town. The streets are devoid of playful children, the stalls are closed up and abandoned, and the peaceful atmosphere has faded away. It's kind of eerie. As I walk past the weapon shop I hear a moan coming from inside. Not the "I'm tired, why can't I sleep" moan that some people have, but an almost inhuman moan. I instinctively reach for the handle, only to be stopped by a voice, "Don't open that door!" The voice is female. I turn around to see a young woman with long, and I do mean long, purple pigtails and a brown cloak around her, obscuring her body.

"Why not?" I ask, unsure if I actually want to know the answer.

"There is a monster in there." Her voice is pretty bland, to the point that you wonder if she can even express emotions when she talks.

"If there's a monster, shouldn't someone deal with it?"

"My friend and I are going to defeat it for everyone!" She announces proudly, disproving my theory that she can't express emotions. Still, it was a little bland coming from her. I wonder what a little girl like her could really do against a monster.

I get ready to ask her just what she thinks she can do in a fight, but I get inturrupted by a young man walking up to us. "Sophie, what's going on? Who is this guy?" He's wearing mostly white and has redish brown hair. He has a sword on his hip, but doesn't seem to be ready to use it.

"He was going to open the door," the girl answers him without taking her eyes off of me.

"Shouldn't the guards handle it themselves?" I ask with a raised eyebrow. "Don't take it personally, but you two don't seem like guards."

"We heard there was a monster in there while we're staying at the inn, so we had a talk with the mayor and he agreed to let us deal with it." The young man replies.

I shrug. "Well, okay then." I almost go to walk away, but I stop and ask, "What kind of monster?"

"Apparently this town was built on ancient ruins and the owner of the shop opened up a tomb during his renovations."

"Zombies? Great." They should have it covered, but just in case they don't I...

[] Offer to help.
-() Contact Sylph.
-() Don't Contact Sylph.
[] Wish them luck.
[] Decide to wake Chen and get out of there. Zombie infestatons are the worst.
For those who thought it was Tales of Symphonia, you were part right. I'm going more along the lines of "Tales of the World" type mash up. As for where the Touhou part comes in, you'll just have to stick around and find out! Oh, and the "Mana Nodes" are my take on explaining "TP".
[x] Offer to help.
-(x) Contact Sylph.

Okay I'll be honest, I was not expecting any other Tales games to be repped. Good twist.
[X] Offer to help.

The only thing you don't want happening with a zombie infestation is missing one, then it'll just start it all over again.
Another pair of eyes and an extra weapon will go pretty far for dealing with them.

Let's not call Sylph though. We're still very close to the Desian base and we don't know them so we can't tell if we can trust them not to be mercenary enough to sell us out if the Desians come asking.
Fitting the description of a "suspect" is bad enough, but if they see Sylph they'll know we're someone worth remembering.
[X] Offer to help.
-(X) Contact Sylph

What Sylph is this? I only know of the Phantasia and Symphonia ones.
Judging by the earlier image and conversation, it's the Monster Girl Quest Sylph. And I am okay with that.
I'm going to start writing later today and try to have something up this weekend.

I'm glad you like it! I didn't want to use just one game and have someone who has played it before knowing exactly what is going on.

Your paranoia is justified and noted. Comments will influence the story as much as actual votes.

It isn't a Sylph you should be familiar with. I may pull from other Sylphs, but this isn't one in particular.

I chose that picture because A)I like it. B)It's pretty darn close to the mental image I had. C)I actually haven't gotten far enough in MGQ to meet sylph yet, so that won't be influencing it much.

Better hurry up then. The NG+ mod (the one not abandoned) is just about to release Part 2 on the 9th.
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I can't just walk away when there are monsters involved. I turn to the man in white and ask, "Think you could use a hand? I can handle myself, and if it's connected to an ancient tomb then there's bound to be more than just one." I've explored my share of ruins and the biggest mistake someone could make is to assume that there's only one monster waiting for them. "Besides, leaving things as they are is just going to make things worse, and I don't want anyone getting hurt while I'm around."

The man nods, "Thanks, we could probably use the help." He turns to his companion. "Is that okay with you?" She nods silently. "All right," he holds out his hand, "I'm Asbel, Asbel Lhant."

"My name is Sophie," the girl says.

Taking Asbel's hand I say, "Maxwell."

"Do you have a weapon?" He asks, noting my rather plain look.

With a smirk, I look at the weapon shop. "I was thinking about borrowing one. I'm sure the owner won't mind. If he does, I'll just buy it from him. I need a new one anyway." I walk over to the door and as I do, I send my thoughts to Sylph. "Sylph, can you hear me? I need you."

"Oh, but Max, Chen is right there~," she sounds half-asleep, not to mention she misinterpreted what I said.

I open the door and walk in to the dark store, taking care to listen for enemies. "Not like that! I need your help! There are monsters in town and I'm going to help clear them out. You can find me at the weapon shop near the South Entrance."

"No need to tell me, as soon as you said 'monster' I zoomed on over. But, what should I do about the two with you?"

"Just hide in me for now, I don't trust them completely." As soon as I say that, I feel the warmth and lightness that I felt when she first joined with me.

Now that I'm prepared in that sense, I need a weapon. Using the bar as a staff felt pretty nice, but perhaps something bladed to use against the zombies. "Hey," Sylph says, trying to get my attention, "what about that thing on the counter?"

Curious, I walk over to the counter and see something that makes me smile. A dualblade. A long staff-like handle with blades on either end. I have no idea how much this costs, but I don't care. It's not like the owner is here to charge me for it.

I pick it up and run through some quick drills with it. A weapon is only as powerful as the wielder, but a well-made weapon has the benefit of boosting confidence so this is perfect for me, seeing as it's well-made, and I have the skill to handle it.

"Are you ready?" Asbel asks. He's standing next to a door that has a large weapon rack in front of it.

"Hang on one second," I tell him. The light from the stars is our only source of light right now, but as soon as we go down the stairs, we lose that. There has to be a lantern around here somewhere. I fumble around behind the counter trying to find one. "Aha! Found it!" Sounds like there's oil in it too. Looks like my luck is still holding out, even after everything that's happened. I light it up and notice that there's a spot to hook it to a belt. Perfect, that frees up my hands for my weapon. "All right," I move to help Asbel with the weapon rack, but Sophie does it all on her own.

Sylph giggles and says, "Men are just useless these days." I choose to ignore her and open the door. Unsurprisingly, it's a large downward staircase.

Leading the way is a little unpleasant, but that's only because I don't know these people. Calling Sylph might have been unnecessary, but if they prove to be enemies then I'll definitely be able to hold my own.

The farther down we go, the more poignant the stench becomes. There's definitely something rotten down there, I just hope that it's more dead than undead. The moaning is getting louder too, we must be getting close to the bottom. The stairs stop suddenly and it turns into a dirt path down, but not for too much longer. We come to a brick wall that has collapsed, leaving a large room with numerous coffins lining the room.

If we had Efreet, we could just toss in a fireball and call it a night," Sylph says with a yawn.

"Well, we don't, now keep focused." The Lantern does a good job of illuminating the room, but the down side is that I block some of the light like this. I slowly advance into the room and place the lantern on the floor. The moaning is all around me at this point.

"Maxwell," Asbel whispers from behind. "I think most of them are still in their coffins, but I can see quite a few over to the right."

"There are even more to the left," Sophie points out.

I take a look at both sides, the right has fewer, but the walls and floor are giving way. One wrong move and the entire right half could come down. The left is just as unappealing. Not because of decay, well not the same kind of decay at least, there are at least double the number of zombies on the right as there are on the left.

"So, which side do you guys want?" They look at me, confused. "It'll be easier to take them in separate groups," I explain, "if we attack one side, we'll just attract the others, but if we engage them both at the same time, we won't have to worry about that."

"I get it," Asbel says. "Well then, Sophie and I will take the group on the right, and you can take the ones on the left."

"Works for me," I say before sprinting over to my targets. The entire left wall is collapsed and dirt has taken its place, plus it looks unstable. As much as I want to avoid it, my best bet might be to cause the ceiling to collapse and take the wall with it. Though I should hold off on that for now.

Zombies are slow and react even slower, so I use my "borrowed" weapon to cut down three before the rest even know what happened. Most of them are dried out and barely even standing due to age. Those that look fresh must be from the village.

"You don't even seem to need my power!" Sylph says with a whistle.

"I wouldn't say that," I say aloud. Between the sounds of zombies and rending flesh, I don't think I have to keep it quiet. "I can tell that I'm moving faster and more fluently thanks to you." I'm able to chain my movements together with almost no problem.

One by one, I dispatch the abhorrent creatures. None of them even come close to touching me, and thanks to Sylph, none of them catch me off guard. In a matter of minutes, I've cleared my entire side. Looking over, I see that Asbel and Sophie have finished up on their side too. Both of them seem just fine.

The three of you meet in the center of the room, "You two okay?"

"Yeah, we're just fine." Asbel answers and Sophie nods. "Thanks for the help."

"No pro-" I get cut off when the ground begins to shake violently. When the quake subsides, part of the wall opposite where we entered collapses to reveal a coffin standing in a small alcove. For whatever reason, it looks like the coffin was sealed off from the rest. My curiosity is telling me to check it out, but my instinct says to run.

Before I get a chance to do either, the front of the coffin falls to the ground to reveal a perfectly preserved man. In the coffin is a long sword with an intricate sheath. The man himself has fiery red hair and is wearing ceremonial armor with pieces of fur around the waist and shoulders. All of it is red, like a fire.

No one breathes, it's like we can't. No, we just stand there and watch the newly revealed body. Like it's about to come to life and attack us. We have to be standing there for almost ten minutes before I breathe a sigh of relief. "I was worried there for a second."

The eyes of the "corpse" shoot open to reveal blood red eyes. He takes hold of his sword and steps forward, out of the coffin. A smile creeps on to his face, "I must thank you." His voice is deep and strong. Each word gives off a sense of superiority.

"For what?" I demand. I shouldn't be so arrogant, in just that one sentence I could feel something. Something that is telling me I shouldn't mess with him.

"For undoing my seal, of course." He looks at the three of us and bows politely. "Thanks to your meddling, I am now able to rejoin my master." He walks right past us showing no signs of hostility. "Well, not before razing this town for its crimes against me and my king, of course."

"Wait!" Asbel shouts. "Why do you want to destroy the town?"

"In the last age, the people of this town imprisoned me when they tried to overthrow my master. For that, they must be punished. Even if they do not live any longer, their children share their blame." He has turned to face us and the rage in his eyes is piercing. "I know not what has become of my masters' kingdom, but I know that he still lives. I can feel his presence in this world."

Asbel growls and draws his sword, "I can't let you destroy this town for something that happened so long ago!"

"Do you think you can stop me? Aviur, The Sword of the King!?" He draws his sword, which ignites as soon as it comes out. The sheer power I feel from this guy is intense!

"Asbel," I whisper, "We can't take him." I hate to say it, but there is no way we can win this fight. "If we fight him now, we'll just wind up dead."

"I can't let him destroy this town!" He shouts at me.

"Neither can I!" Sophie shouts in agreement.

"Dammit!" What do I do? I don't want to abandon the town, but I don't see a way to win. Not to mention that if a fight breaks out down here I'll be dragged into it either way. "Sylph, what do you think?

[/i]"Lure him out! If we can get him outside, I can try to contact another Summon Spirit, but there's no way to know if they'll hear me or if they'll make it in time."[/i]

"Well, it's about time for my luck turned around on me," I sigh. Looks like I have no choice, I…

[] Fight alongside Asbel and Sophie
-() Follow Sylph's plan
-() Contain the damage down here
[] Get out of there, you need to be alive to keep your promises.
[] Try and talk him down, but how? (Write in what to say)
Well, that escalated quickly. But, that's par for the course in a "Tales" setting.
Yeah, I like the design as well.
I played MGQ for (in order of importance) the humor, the art style (of the higher quality images at least), and the porn is a distant third at best...
The game is hilarious.
[X] Fight alongside Asbel and Sophie
-(X) Follow Sylph's plan

If he is that powerful, chances are everyone currently in the town, whether related to his captors or not, are fucked.
And letting someone burn down the inn while Chen is sleeping there isn't exactly "keeping our promise" either.
[X] Fight alongside Asbel and Sophie
-(X) Follow Sylph's plan

I think doing what we can to stop him is more important than trying to keep Sylph a secret.
[X] Fight alongside Asbel and Sophie
-(X) Follow Sylph's plan

Disc 1 hopeless boss fight time.
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I have no choice. Even if I ran and got Chen, running will only get me so far. And, I don't think I could live with myself if I abandoned this town. "Alright, Sylph, we'll do it your way." I ready my weapon and heave a heavy sigh. My master taught me well, but my only hope right now is to hold him off and pray that Sylph's plan works. I whisper to Asbel, "We can't fight him down here, it's too unstable. We'll have to take the fight outside." He frowns, but nods. One wrong move down here and the whole place caves in on us.

Asbel whispers to Sophie before drawing his blade, but I ignore it. A battle like this demands all of my focus, so I clear my mind of any unwanted thoughts. Sophie rushes past Aviur in a blur, leaving her cloak behind. It's obvious her target is the door behind him, and he makes no move to stop her. The flames of his sword flicker and fade as he sheathes it.

"I do not know what you are planning, but I assure you, it will not work." He lowers himself into a position where he could either draw his blade in an instant, or charge us. "None will interfere with my mission."

Asbel and I both run to flank him, but make no moves to actually attack. I don't know if Asbel wants me to make the first move, or if he's like me and is trying to force him into the passage way. Either way, it works. Aviur takes a couple steps back, turns around, and runs up towards the shop. Asbel edges in ahead of me and we follow him up.

I'm not sure how, but I know that he isn't going as fast as he can. He's leading us, but why? "Be careful Maxwell," Sylph warns me, "This guy seems stronger than he's letting on."

"Well, no duh! Anyone that needed to be sealed and not killed is going to be a problem. Honestly? Our only hope is for you to contact another Summon Spirit." All I have to do is survive. Winning isn't even on my mind right now. It's like my master told me, as long as I survive, then I can consider it my win.

Up and up and up. We keep going up until we get into the shop, and right out into the streets where we see Sophie waving people out of the town. Good, they're evacuating, now we won't have to worry as much.

At least that's what I would say, if it weren't for Aviur trying to rush towards them only to be stopped by Asbel, "STOP! If you want to get to them, you'll have to go through us!"

"My fight is not with you." He replies calmly. "But if you insist on getting in my way, then I will have no choice but to teach you a lesson." He drops into the same posture as he did underground, but something is different this time. His eyes are narrowed and I can feel the tension in the air.


[i/]"Already on it![/i] I don't feel anything, but I'm not really all that magically sensitive so it doesn't surprise me.

Anyway, focussing on the more important task at hand, Aviur seems to be waiting for us to make the first move.

Which I do.

Thanks to my increased speed, courtesy of Sylph, I close the distance in the blink of an eye. I aim for his arm, but he blocks with his sword while it's still in its sheath. I quickly spin my weapon around to try and hit him with the second blade but he blocks that too. I keep pressing the attack though! I change from slash to thrust and I try to kick out his feet in the process, but none of that works, but if I can keep him on the defensive, then Asbel or Sophie can sneak in and hit him, hopefully.

"Demon Fang!" I hear Asbel call out one of his Artes so I jump to the side. A blue shockwave races along the ground, aimed right at Aviurs feet.

Aviur draws his sword and thrusts it into the ground, causing flames to erupt in its path, stopping it cold. Without pulling the sword from the ground Aviur sprints towards Asbel, leaving an increasingly large chasm of fire behind him. As soon as he reaches the white-clad swordsman he swings the blade upwards, which is narrowly avoided by Asbel.

His back is turned on me. Now is my chance! I dash forward and swing the blade at his neck. My blade stops short and I get hit by, something. I'm sent flying through the air and a nearby window. I come crashing to a stop when I hit a bookshelf, causing its contents to rain down on me.

Whatever hit me was strong and had to have been big. My whole right side hurts from it. Ignoring the pain, I push the books off of me and stand. Through the window, I can see what hit me and my heart drops. It's one thing to fight a talented swordsman, it is a completely different matter to fight a swordsman and a giant fire monster!

The creature has no lower body. It is only fire from the chest down. It's arms are massive, one being a large blade and the other seems to be a regular arm. The creature is armored, similar in looks to the armor Aviur is wearing, but more monstrous in design. The armor looks demonic on that thing, but almost regal on Aviur. The arms are jagged and segmented, the soulders are spiked and foreboding, and its chestplate is full and sturdy looking. The face is obscured by a metal mask which obscures much of its face, but doesn't hide its mouth or eyes. The mouth is flaming and they eyes are burning like the fires of hell. It has hair that flows in the wind, but leaves embers in its wake.

"Maxwell! That thing is tethered to Aviur! It can't go too far from him without disappearing!" I won't question how Sylph knows that, she probably has seen something like it before.

Fighting this thing in melee combat is suicide. Still, it doesn't seem to be attacking Asbel, who is right in front of Aviur. Perhaps it won't attack anyone that is fighting Aviur head on? I'd rather not test that theory myself.

I shake my head and refocus myself. I leap out the window I entered through and rejoin the fray. Rather than attack from the side or the back, I charge in from the front. I'm just in time too, I manage to block an attack that was going for Asbel's neck.

Aviur flicks his blade towards me, pushing me off balance, and Asbel slashes at his arm. The slash gets deflected, but I follow it up with a thrust. Asbel and I repeat the process of attacking when the other gets blocked or avoided to no avail. The heat from Aviurs katana is causing me to sweat more than I normally would. Almost to the point that it makes it hard to grip my weapon. Hell, the heat is starting to make it hard to breath.

"Asbel!" I hear Sophie shout over the sound of clashing metal. "The townspeople are all gone!"

Aviurs calm demeanor vanishes when he hears this. Trying to use this to our advantage, Asbel and I swing at the same time, only to be blocked. "No more games!" He shouts. "Face the fires of Hell!" He forces us back and thrusts his sword into the ground once more. This time cracks appear along the ground and heat rises up from them. "Phoenix Crush!" The ground explodes under our feet sending us flying into the air, only to be brought back down by the monsters giant fist. We have no time to recover before Aviur swings his sword, creating a wave of fire that washes over us and sends us crashing into the side of a building.

"MAXWELL!" Sylph screams in my head, but I don't have the strength to answer her. It doesn't hurt, but I just don't have the strength to do anything.

I lie there on the ground as Sophie rushes towards Aviur, only to be sent flying by the monsters fist. I hear nothing but the ringing in my ears and Sylph calling out to me in desperation.

I have no energy, no motivation, no sense of time, and no hope. This is how I will die. Not a bad way to go, I did just save a whole town from death. For now at least. Still, it's a shame I wasn't able to help Chen.


Oh well, maybe someone else will be able to help her.


Sorry kid, even if I wanted to, I can't get up.


Wait a second! I can barely do it, but I turn my head away from Aviur who is razing the town and see Chen crying over me. I can see the fear in her eyes, the loneliness, and the uncertainty.

Dammit, dammit, dammit! I won't let someone else cry for me! Not again!

I don't know how, but I muster up the energy to stand. I don't look at Asbel, I don't want to see what happened to him. I don't look at Chen. I look straight at Aviur. I feel a power welling up inside of me, something familiar, yet at the same time unfamiliar.

"Max! Sylph shouts once again, this time with hope.

A young woman with light blue skin, blue hair, wearing black fabric that is open on the sides but covers her front and back as a skirt and a white top. The heat from the burning buildings seem so far away with her here. It almost feels chilly right now.

"Sylph, you said you needed help?"

Sylph doesn't appear, but her voice can still be heard. "I did. I contracted with the man before you and we were fighting that man on fire. Please, help us!"

The woman before me smiles, "I would do anything for you my sister." She holds out her hand to me. "I am Celsius. If it is your wish, I will lend you my power."

I waste no time taking her hand. Her hand is cold, almost freezing. "My name is Maxwell. Now I ask you, please lend me the power to help others!" Like Sylph, she glows brightly, except this time it is light blue. She vanishes and I can feel her presence within myself.

"Maxwell," Celsius says cooly, "Now is the time to strike, while he is in a fit of rage.

Both Sylph and Celsius flood my mind with the knowledge of how to us various Artes and spells.

Chen grabs my hand and shakes her head. I know she doesn’t want me to fight him, but I have to. I give her a reassuring smile and pat on the head before rushing off.

I have no idea where my energy is coming from right now, but I won't complain. No, right now I need to focus on Aviur and his monster. So I charge in right at Aviur, my weapon ready to swing at his throat. He blocks, but due to the angle of my swing, I'm able to force his blade down and get the other half of my weapon to make contact leaving a light cut on his throat. It wasn't enough to kill him, but the look in his eyes tells me he isn't used to being hurt.

The monster roars and tries to bring it's fist down on me, but one of the Artes Celsius showed me pops into my head. Quickly I throw all my weight forward into a shoulder tackle and make contact with the fist, stopping it cold. I swing my arm to throw off the fist and shout, "BEAST!" As if responding to my call, a spectral bear appears and bites the monster, tearing a chunk of it out.

The bear disappears and the creature howls as it recoils, leaving a trail of boiling blood in its wake. Aviur screams as if he's in pain too.

"The two are linked," Sylph says, "If one feels pain, the other will too! With that bit of info in mind, I push the attack while he's reeling.

"Icicle!" I thrust my free hand out in front of me and a half dozen sharpened columns of ice appear. Each one shoots forward, right at the giant. The spikes impale themselves in its chest and melt almost immediately due to its blood.

The beast roars as it raises its bladed arm, only to be stopped by Aviur. "ENOUGH!" The molten monstrosity vanishes almost instantly, leaving Aviur alone and leaning on his sword. "I underestimated you," he gasps. His only physical wound is the small one on his neck, but I did inflict some good damage to his beast. "Had you fought like that from the beginning, I might have had to use even more of my power." He sheathes his swords, turns, and runs away.

"You did it Max!" Sylph exclaims.

"We did it," Celsius corrects.

I hear Chen call my name, but I just can't stand any longer. I hear her footsteps as I fall to the ground, utterly exhausted. I still don't feel any pain, but right now I'm thankful for that. The last thing I feel before everything fades to black is a gentle hand on my cheek, and soft fur against my hand.


GRADE: 150
Contract with Sylph +10
Contract with Celsius +10
Rescue Chen +10
"Jailbreak Style" +20
"Defeat" Aviur +100


While I sleep, I have a dream. A dream of…

[] a peaceful memory.
[] war.
[] my days with my master.
[] a distant land (-100 grade)
Okay, so let me explain Grade real quick! You'll get grade for achieving certain goals. Most of the grade you will accumulate will be gained from advancing the story and completing milestones, such as this. You'll get some for completing "hidden" or "optional" quests as well. SOME actions will cause you to lose grade. You'll lose grade if your actions, or in action, result in a character dying or otherwise becoming incapacitated for the remainder of the story obvious exceptions are villains/antagonists.

Now, don't spend your grade all in one place. As the story progresses, "Grade Choices" will become more expensive and you'll have to choose carefully.
Ohh, that's a neat system.

Also yay! Best summon spirit!

[x] my days with my master.

We prolly shouldn't spend most of our grade on a dream.
Aw I wanted Undine!

[x] my days with my master.
Celsius, huh? She's using Beast, so it's probably Symphonia Celsie, though it could be Eternia's, too.

In any case, I approve!

[x] My days with my master

Let's see if we can't get our own Arte or something!!
The physical description makes it very clear that it's the Symphonia Celsius
Makes me wonder what getting Volt will be like.

I hope it involves Indignations.
[x] my days with my master.

That went much better than expected.
[x] My days with my master

That went better then expected.
[x] my days with my master.

Finally got the chance to sit down & get caught up. Good stuff.
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I plop down in my bed. "Aaaahh, what a day." Master had me running all around town doing errands, playing detective, and doing my exercises. Going to the grocer would be easier if I wasn't the only one doing it! The fact that we have a thief running around town doesn't make it any easier.

"You're a sneaky kid, Max, so the guards want your help finding the thief," is what Master told me last night. I might as well have been told that I was a suspect. Still, it felt good to make use of my skills for something other than sneaking out. I even got a reward when the guards caught the guy, which Master promptly took from me.

"Max~!" I hear Master calling me playfully, but I decide to ignore it. I'm too tired from my exercises to deal with anything else right now. "Max, come down here!" I hear her calls, but I really don't care. "Max, get your ass down here before I skin you alive!" Make all the threats you want, you know you love me. "Maxwell! You have to the count of three!"

Oh, crap. Master only uses my full name when I'm in trouble.


I jump out of bed and race through my door.


Down the hall,jumping down the stairs to save time.

"Thre-aah!" And I land right on top of my caretaker.

I scramble up and bow remorsefully. "I'm sorry master, I didn't know you were at the base of the stairs!"

Master stands up and glares at me. "Maxwell, do you know why I called you down here?" I shake my head, unwilling to meet that heated gaze. "It is because tomorrow is your birthday!" The sudden change in Master's tone is jarring. I guess the anger and annoyance was just an act to mess with me.

I straighten up and look my master in the eyes. Damn, I hate that smile, but I love it at the same time. Master is a woman, but she's beat the idea of her having any femininity out of my head years ago. She may be attractive, but she only uses that to her advantage. Her long blonde hair and bright green eyes are her "pride and joy", which is complete bullshit. She acts like a flirt just so she can get her way around town. Most people in town know better, like the guards, but she can still sink her claws into people like it was second nature.

It's completely different with me. Since day one I've known her as a tomboy who isn't afraid to get down and dirty. She's out there everyday with me, teaching how to fight, how to hunt, track, and even farming. I owe her everything.

"What's so special about my birthday? We never celebrated it before." She always makes a fuss about it, but we've never done anything different.

She throws her arms around me and pulls practically shoves my face into her, rather large, breasts. When I came here, she told me to act like she's my big sister. If this is how sisters act, I'm glad I'm an only child. "Max, tomorrow is the day you become a man!" Is she trying to break my neck? "As part of your training, I need to send you out into the world to travel, as per your parents arrangement, and if you return in ten years then your training is complete. When you return, you will be sent to the queen and judged." She releases me and sighs. "If she judges you favorably, you will be given a position in her court. If she does not, then you will be exiled."

"Why?" I ask, even though I know the answer. "Why do we care so much about magic? There is so much we can do without it!" I was almost exiled due to my inability to use magic, but Master took me in and saved me. I may be technically exiled now, but at least I can come back.

Master sighs, having heard this question many times before. And once again, I am treated to the same answer, "Our entire society revolves around magic. Elves set themselves apart from humans with their proficiency with magic. Our armies almost solely consist of powerful mages who have honed both mind and body."

"Are we really so militaristic?"

"Of course not," she answers quickly. "We sequester ourselves in our forests and only make contact with the humans when necessary. Dwarves are even worse than us, and they treat physical power the same as we do magical power." She turns away from me and wistfully says, "You may come to see why we are this way when you leave tomorrow. For now, you should get some sleep. You'll want an early start tomorrow."


The sun isn't even up yet and I'm standing at the main gate. Practically everyone I know is here to say goodbye, except my parents. Of course they wouldn't care about their "failure" going on a ten year sojourn with the possibility of never returning. Master is standing in front of me with a stern look on her face. "Max, I'm giving you this sword, bow, and gald in the hopes that you will do well out there. Take every opportunity to learn. Don't forget your training, but be careful. Don't over exert yourself."

I take the sword, strap it to my belt, sling the bow over my shoulder, and pocket the gald. She then hands me a quiver of arrows which I wear on my back. "Thank you Master," I mumble, mildly embarrassed. "Thank you for everything."

Smiling my master puts a hand on my shoulder and says, "Think nothing of it. Now get going before all the young ladies you've captivated start crying." I look past her and see that it is mostly women who've come to see me off. "Hopefully by the time you come back you'll have grown out of your womanizing."

I smile and turn away. "Fat chance," I whisper as I start walking. This journey will take me to many new places and I'll meet new people. I know it will be difficult, but maybe I'll find the woman of my dreams.

"The woman of your dreams?"

Everything goes fades to black and I find my self floating in a void. "Sylph, we should not judge him for his initial motivations."

"But come on, that is so cliché!"

Whelp, there goes my dream. "So, how come you didn't tell me that you could see my dreams?"

"Eeep!" Sylph squeaks in response, and I hear Celsius chuckle. "S-sorry! We weren't trying to watch, but you were just so quiet and still. I got worried about you, and then curious."

Sighing, I will myself awake and open my eyes. "Agh." Damn the sun is bright. With it being right overhead, I assume it's about noon right now. "Damn, how long was I out?"

"Twelve hours," an unfamiliar voice says to me as I sit up. I quickly look towards where the voice came from and see a young woman. She has medium length blonde hair, yellow eyes, nine rather large and bushy fox tails, and is wearing a white and blue dress with strange symbols on the front, along with a light pink hat with yellow talismans on it. Laying down next to the woman with one of her tails wrapped around her leg is Chen.

"Who are you?" I ask. "Who is she? I ask the spirits.

"I am Ran." She says. Her voice is gentle, but it sounds off. She has an accent, but I can't tell where she might be from, not to mention how she's speaking simply and slowly. It's kind of weird. "I thank you. You looked after Chen." She smiles and bows gratefully.

Chen looks so comfortable next to her, with a smile on her face as she watches me. "So, I guess you've come to take her home?" It takes a minute, but the blonde shakes her head. "Why not?"

Her face becomes sullen. "I do not know how to get back home."

"Are you lost?" Again, she shakes her head.

Sylph and Celsius both materialize next to her. "She explained to us that they are from a different land and they do not know how they got here." Celsius explains for her. "She doesn't know our language very well, but she was able to tell us that she's from another world."

"Another world?" I ask, feeling like she might be messing with me. "Do you expect me to buy that?"

Sylph zooms over and perches on my shoulder. "It's actually not unheard of. I remember meeting a guy who was from another world once. He was so desperate to get home that he contracted with all the spirits. It took a while, but we got him home."

"Will you help us?" Ran asks hopefully.

With a deep sigh, I say, "Sure, what could possibly go wrong." She smiles and begins talking animatedly with Chen. With how fast she's talking, I don't even bother trying to pay attention. Turning my attention to the spirits I ask, "So, I need to contract with the other Summon Spirits now?"

"Indeed," Celsius replies. "Sylph told me you were on your way to ask Undine for assistance. I think we should do that now too. While Gnome may be closest to our current location, reaching him will prove troubling. I recommend coming back here after we contract with some of the others." She pauses and looks at me contemplatively. "I should warn you, the others will likely want to test your power. Be prepared to fight them with everything you have. Most of us hold back when we are challenged, but Efreet and Volt can be..." She trails off momentarily, looking slightly afraid. "Well, just be careful."

I gulp when she says that. If I might die, then I best be as prepared as I can be. But still, I wonder, "Sylph, do we still need to go back to your shrine?"

"It would be nice, but as long as I'm contracted to you I'll be fine." She smiles reassuringly at me. Good, knowing that she'll be fine eases my worries a little.

Now then, before we set off, I have question for…

[] Celsius and Sylph.
-() What are the other Spirits like?
-() What kind of Arte did Aviur use back there?
-() Do they know what happened to Asbel and Sophie?
[] Ran and Chen.
-() What is the world they are from like?
-() General questions about themselves. (What they like to eat, do for fun, etc.)
Perhaps I should have called the option that was chosen, "Memories of my farewell" or something like that.
[] Celsius and Sylph.
-() Do they know what happened to Asbel and Sophie?

[] Ran and Chen.
-() What is the world they are from like?

Can I just say how much I love that you're making the spirits actual characters? I've always wanted to see them written in stories but everyone just treats them basically as spells that Sheena uses sometimes.
[X] Ran and Chen.
-(X) General questions about themselves. (What they like to eat, do for fun, etc.)

It's always good to get a feel of what people are like.
[] Celsius and Sylph.
-() Do they know what happened to Asbel and Sophie?

[X] Ran and Chen.
-(X) General questions about themselves. (What they like to eat, do for fun, etc.)

Lets go with this.
[x] Celsius and Sylph.
-(x) Do they know what happened to Asbel and Sophie?
[x] Ran and Chen.
-(x) General questions about themselves. (What they like to eat, do for fun, etc.)
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"Sylph, Celsius, what happened to Asbel and Sophie?" I don't see them anywhere, but I kind of doubt they died. Aviur was going easy on us after all.

"They're okay," Sylph says cheerily. "Celsius and I put out the fire and left them in the inn with a note. They should be fine after some rest." She doesn't sound worried at all. "We even got the townspeople back into town, and they're already rebuilding. I think they were going to send a messenger to the king and request additional guards."

Celsius sits down cross-legged next to me and sighs. "From what Sylph has told me and from what I saw in your dreams, you are unable to use magic on your own. I will be designing a training schedule for you to help you channel our power. We will begin tonight."

The tone in her voice tells me that this is not open to debate. I won't complain though, since it'll make things easier in the end.

For now, however, I should try to get to know my traveling companions. Ran and Chen have stopped talking by now, and are watching the spirits and me. "Excuse me, Ran, could you tell me a little about yourself?"

She takes a moment to process my words.

"What would you like to know?" She asks, choosing her words carefully. I can understand her troubles right now, learning the human language was a pain for me. For the longest time I wasn't sure if what I was saying meant what I thought it did.

Shrugging, I say, "General stuff. Like what you like to eat, or what you do for fun." I'm not out for her life story, but I want to know a little about her so that traveling will feel a little less awkward.

"Oh," she says, looking genuinely surprised. "I thought you would ask about my home."

"Well, we can talk about that at some other time. For now, I want to know more about you." Sylph giggles a little, but I ignore her. "So, what do you like to eat?"

"Fried Tofu," she answers plainly. She pats Chen on the head and says, "She likes fish."

"What sort of things do you like to do?"

Before she has a chance to answer we hear a loud roar. Sylph chuckles uncomfortably and says, "Eheh, sorry, We took you out of the town because Ran's tails were going to attract too much attention if we stayed." Well, that explains why I was laying in the grass. "We should probably get moving, you know, just in case that was the sound of a hungry monster or something."

I nod and stand up. It takes me a moment to realize that I'm not bandaged up. In fact, the only wounds I have seem superficial at the moment. "Wait a second, did someone heal me?"

"I did!" Sylph announces. "I was able to take some of your mana to heal you."

"Thanks," I say as I pat her on the head. "Come on, let's get going." Everything I bought is nearby, so I pick it up and sling it over my shoulder. I follow Sylph, who is leading us to the road, and Ran and Chen are following me. Ignoring the distant sounds of monsters, I get back to my original question for Ran. "So, Ran, you never answered me. What do you like to do for fun?"

I look over my shoulder to see her and Chen walking hand in hand. "I do not get much free time," she admits. "When I do, I like to have tea and relax. Going on walks as well."

"And Chen?"

"She spends her time playing with her friends."

Friends? Huh, now that I think about it, I've never really had a friend before. I was usually seen as an outcast or a flirt. I suppose Master was the closest thing to a friend I've ever had. Shaking my head, I focus on the path in front of me.

When we finally reach the road, Celsius points us in the right direction. "We will have to make camp on the side of the road. Assuming we get an early start tomorrow, we will be able to make it to the next town in a day or two."

Our travel is pretty uneventful. Celsius and Sylph are being fairly quiet, while Chen and Ran talk amongst themselves. Celsius walks next to me and Sylph is riding on my shoulder, playing with my hair.

Ran barely speaks the language, but admitedly she's doing better at it than I was when I was first learning. As for me, I'm just plodding along, trying not to think about the mess I got myself into. Needless to say, it's a fairly quiet trip.

When we finally do stop for the night, Celsius has me set everything up myself, despite Ran offering to help. I only got two bed rolls, so I'm going to let Ran use mine. After years of travel, I've gotten used to sleeping out in the cold with no camping supplies. Once I get the fire going, I stick some vegatables and some dried meat on skewers for dinner. I don't think the dried meat even needs to cook, but vegatable kebabs are boring to me. It only takes a little bit for it to get nice and crisp. Chen doesn't seem thrilled about our dinner, but Ran persuades her. Or, that's what I assume happened.

Once I finish eating, Celsius comes up and practically lifts me up, leading me away from the campfire. "We're going to start training now. We can either work on getting you to use magic on your own, or we can teach you more Artes." She sighs and shoots an icicle at a nearby tree. "We can always try both in a sparring match. In this case, you would be unable to practice with my power, however you would still be able to use Sylph's." This time she walks upto the tree and punches it. "Beast!" The punch itself splinters the bark, but the spectral bear that appears tears the tree apart.

"Why do I get the feeling that you are trying to talk me out of sparring with you?" It's like she's intentionally showing just how much power she has at her disposal just so I won't challenge her. Her only response is a coy smile.

[] If I learn more Artes, I can add more variety to my combat style.
[] I should learn to channel magic without the help of the spirits.
[] I'm not one to back away from a challenge, challenge her!
[x] If I learn more Artes, I can add more variety to my combat style.

Physical combat all the way
[X] If I learn more Artes, I can add more variety to my combat style.

Think this would work out better. Wonder if we can learn to add elements to our artes like Emil can.
[X] I'm not one to back away from a challenge, challenge her!

No pain, no gain.
Besides, all the way back since Tales of Phantasia is has been pretty much obligatory to battle a spirit before they officially join you.
Said battles usually involve a party of around 4 people
[X] I'm not one to back away from a challenge, challenge her!

Clearly, she wants to test our compatibility. In battle, that is. Yes, certainly just that.
[X] I'm not one to back away from a challenge, challenge her!
Well, sure. If you want to be a pussy.
Vote called for Challenging Celsius.

Well, I never got why the whole party fought the Spirit. Isn't the point to test the worth of the summoner? I suppose it makes sense from a gameplay standpoint.
For some spirits I can see 1v1 working but, for Volt and Efreet having four people is probably safer.
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"Alright! I challenge you!" I announce confidently. I hear Sylph groan and Celsius lowers her head into her hand and sighs.

"If that is what you want," Celsius says as she walks past me. We wait for a moment as Sylph drags my weapon over to me. I must admit, the tiny spirit is stronger than she looks. "If you can land one blow on me before I land ten on you, then you win. If you can not, then we will train through the night with no rest." She lowers herself into a defensive posture as I take my weapon from Sylph. "You may borrow Sylph's power for this as well." I nod and ready myself.

One hit. It shouldn't be that hard. Of course, she wouldn't be giving herself a handicap like that if she wasn't confident. I think I made a bad choice. "I'm ready when you are." Still, I wanted this, and I'm not backing down now!

"Alright then," she says calmly, a wry smile on her face. "You may make the first move."

I waste no time and rush right in. I plan on ending this in one blow! Slashing with my dualblade I am at Celsius' chest. She dodges deftly and attempts to jab me in the gut. I'm able to dodge it, but it leaves me open to a roundhouse kick to the face.

"One," She announces with a smirk. I don't feel any pain from the kick, but I do feel cold. She doesn't give me any time to ponder my predicament before continuing her assault. I'm knocked back by a punch to my chest, "Two," and then knocked off my feet with a sweeping kick, "Three," and in the same kicking motion, she swings her foot up and drops it onto my chest, "Four!" She jumps back as I stand up, feeling quite winded, but otherwise fine.

My eyes narrow as I take in her stance. She's prepared to dodge again, and it's unlikely that I'll be able to fake her out. Irregardless, I rush in again, this time using Sylph's power to increase my speed even more. Another slash at her chest that she dodges, this time with a step back. I try again to the same result. While I swing, I have Sylph channel magic into a spell.

With one final swing of my blade, I yell out, "Wind Blade!" I release a shredding wind and shockwave, which Celsius dodges by jumping over me. Before landing she kicks me in the back.

"Five," she adds another hit to her count. "Come now Maxwell, surely this isn't the best you can do?" Great, now she's taunting me. I spin around and swing my weapon in an arc. Instead of dodging, she catches my arm, flips me over her head, and slams a palm into my chest. "Six." I dropped my weapon when she flipped me and as I try to reach for it, she kicks it away. She lets me back up, but keeps the dualblade behind her. There is no way I'm getting to it now.

"Wind blade!" I invoke the spell again, this time creating blades of wind around Celsius. She manages to dodge with seemingly no effort. I can't help but growl in frustration. The only person who made me look this bad in combat before was my master. "AIR PRESSURE!" A neon green circle appears on the ground around Celsius. Seeing this, she jumps out of the way just before the ground caves in on itself. Without wasting a moment, I rush at her and attempt to punch her in the face. But she catches my fist and attempts to punch me. Only for me to catch hers. We stand there, each trying to gain an advantage over each other. Celsius, rather than carrying the struggle on any longer, slams her head into mine.

I recoil and break away. "Seven." I'm still surprised she headbutted me when her foot connects with my shin. "Eight." Her kick knocked me off balance and she uses that to send me flying with a punch to the gut. As I skid along the ground, I hear her say, "Nine."

"Come on Max!" Sylph Screams into my ear. "I know you can do it! You just need to believe in yourself!"

I stand up and smile at the green spirit. "I'd like to see you do better." I refuse to lose though. But, how can I win? She seems to have an answer for all my close quarter maneuvers, she can dodge my spells easily, and she can out dodge me all night if I try to combine the two. Once again, I find myself growling in frustration. I think it's time to

[] try something stupid.
[] try something crafty
[] borrow more of Sylph's power! (100 Grade)
[] Write in a final desperate plan of attack.
It may be obvious, but I didn't use a proofreader this time. My usual were MIA and I kinda didn't feel like waiting on them. Hopefully it's readable though.
Barring an interesting write in.

[X] try something crafty

I don't see the real need to use any grade for a sparring match though that's just me.

Question are mystic artes going to cost grade or are you going to have a separate system to determine when we can use it?

Don't see any glaring errors so it looks fine to me.
[X] borrow more of Sylph's power! (100 Grade)
[x] try something stupid.

the best plans are the ones we don't think of
[X] Try something stupid.

If we don't know what we're doing, there's no way that Celcius can figure it out.
[x] try something stupid.

If it's stupid, but it works, then it's not stupid.
Vote called for [X] Something Stupid.

Update by Wednesday. Sorry about missing last week. I was spending time with family and was not able to sit down and make words.

Mystic Artes are learned via expenditure of grade and varying factors. Maxwell has access to more than one Mystic Arte as well. It is entirely possible to go through without spending Grade to learn one. As for their use, it depends on the situation. Most of the time it will come to a vote on whether or not to use them.
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I think it’s time to try something stupid! I’m pretty sure that Celsius would see any thought-out tactic coming, no matter how crafty it may be. Even if I borrowed more of Sylph’s power, I would be left at the mercy of a power I don’t properly understand. Failing to see another way, I rush towards Celsius once more. I purposefully telegraph my intents as I throw a punch. She catches my fist with ease so I try with my free hand, to the same result.

“Really Maxwell? Didn’t we try this already?” Celsius chides.

Smirking, I answer her plainly, “Yes, we did.” She sighs as she uses her greater strength to force me to my knees. “But,” I say with a chuckle, “I needed to get close to you!”

Concern and surprise flash across her face and she tries to jump back, but I slip my hands from her hold so I can seize her wrists. I pull her down on top of me.

“Air Pressure!”

I feel the air around us stop and then crash into the ground with enough force to crater the earth. For a few seconds I can’t move, it feels like there’s a boulder on top of me. Surprisingly, it doesn’t hurt. Instead it’s just extremely uncomfortable and awkward.

The spell ends and Celsius and I lay there, stunned. I don’t know how long we lay there, but after a while Sylph appears and says, “Max, you can let go of her now.” I don’t really register what she says, I’m more focused on how close Celsius’ face is to my own. I have got to admit, she is beautiful. Her ice-blue skin get a reddish tint as she tries, and fails, to stand up. “Max,” Sylph says again, “It’s over.”

“O-oh, right,” I immediately let her go and she stands up. She helps me to my feet and I cough awkwardly before saying, “So, I guess I won?”

“I guess you did,” She mumbles, not making eye contact. “We will keep sparing every night. It’s obvious that you need the practice.” Ouch, she doesn’t pull any punches. “But, you did good.” Her face goes a deeper red as she turns away from me. “Sylph, I’m going for a walk. I want you to tell him about the Spirits and Summoners.” Celsius walks off rather hurriedly, but stays within sight.

Sylph flutters over to the campfire where Chen and Ran watch in amusement. “Come on slowpoke! It’s story time!” I sigh, looks like it’ll be a long night. “Alright! First thing’s first, how much do you know about the Spirits?”

“Only that they maintain the balance of elements in the world, and without them nature would rage out of control.” It’s all I really remember from my classes in the academy, before I was kicked out that is.

“That’s right, but we aren’t all powerful. Celsius couldn’t do her job properly if Efreet was gone and vice versa. Without Gnome, the earth would rot and crops would die. Honestly, Volt might be the only one who the planet could live without, but he does make things easier for the technologically gifted.” Ran is listening intently to Sylph’s explanation, Chen is getting ready to sleep, and I’m trying to warm up in front of the fire. Celsius nearly froze me during our match. “You listening?” I nod. “Good. Now, as I said, we aren’t all powerful, and that means we can die.” This causes me to raise an eyebrow. “It isn’t permanent, but we take time to be reborn, usually about fifty years. When we die, our bodies break down into mana which gets spread out into the world to regulate things in our absence. We lose our memories in the process, but if we try hard enough we can remember them. Most of us don’t because we would remember how it felt to die as well.” She shudders and then takes a seat on my shoulder. “Anyway, we use Summoners as a shield when we are out of our temples. Without them we are extremely vulnerable, but we are just as vulnerable with the Summoner as well. Say you take a life threatening blow, Celsius or I could heal you instantly to prevent your death, at the cost of our own.” She sighs deeply and waits a moment before saying, “I think that’s only been done a few times, but not in my memory.” She pauses again, this time to seemingly let me digest the information. “Undine, Gnome, and Volt can tell you more about our previous incarnations but they might be a little unwilling to talk about it at first.” From what Sylph is telling me, it’s obvious that they are just as vulnerable as I am, and we’ll need to work together so no one gets hurt. I figured that they would feel pain, but I didn’t know they could die. “So, that’s all I think you need to know right now. When we meet Undine she might have more to tell you, but you could ask Ce
lsius if you don’t feel like waiting.”

“It’s a lot to take in,” I tell her. “But, could you tell me about the last Summoner? What was he like? Did he accomplish anything great with your powers?”

Sylph looks off into the distance sadly. “He was a great guy,” she says quietly. “He wasn’t the nicest person to his enemies, but to us, his friends, he was loving and protective. He was a hero, and all he wanted to do was get back home to his world. We got him home,” her voice is quivering slightly as she talks, “but he died shortly after he set foot through the portal we created. Celsius took it the hardest, they were, uh, close.”

I reach up and pat Sylph on the head consolingly.


A couple hours later I find myself staring into the dying embers of our campfire. Celsius and Sylph are gathering up more wood while I keep watch with Ran. Despite telling her to get some rest, she insisted on staying up with me. I figured that since she was going to be up anyway, I’d ask her to try and teach me her language. Right now it doesn’t make much sense to me, but I think that I’ll be fine when I start practicing. To make it fair, I’m helping her learn more of the human language.

“So, ‘KHOOR’ means ‘hello’?” I ask, just to make sure I’ve got the pronunciation down. I had quite a few problems come up in the past because of words that are spelled the same, but pronounced differently. Why are languages so complex anyway?

“Correct.” Ran smiles at my memory. So far I’ve been able to remember every word she’s taught me. I’ll probably forget it in the morning though…

Off in the distance I hear the sound of metal clashing violently. Judging from the sound it’s relatively close, no more than a couple yards away.

Standing up, I scan the surrounding area. It takes me all of two seconds to spot sparks off in the distance. If it’s bandits attacking another camp, we could be next. If it turns out to be Aviur then we need to get out of here. “Fuck,” I mumble. There are too many things that this could be. “Ran, stay here.” She nods reluctantly as I grip my weapon tightly. I don’t want to get involved, but I might need to just so I can keep Ran and Chen safe.

I sprint off towards the battle. There’s no light aside from what is created by the clashing metal, but the moon does an amazing job illuminating the plains. I stop a ways off from the fight so I can scope it out. It looks to be a lone woman fighting a group of strange beasts.

The young woman has short silver hair, red eyes, is wearing a white top with detached sleeves and a black skirt with a red flame-like design on the bottom. She’s wielding a curved sword in one hand and a round shield with a maple leaf printed on it. She handles herself well and is no doubt trained, but her style is unlike anything you’ve seen before.

The beasts though, they are abominations. They are large bear-like monsters with metal plates grafted onto their bodies to form armor. Their claws have been replaced with blades as well. Whoever made these, things, obviously wanted them to incite fear.

It’s clear that I should get involved, but the question is how? These monsters look dangerous, and the swordswoman is holding her own, but it doesn’t seem like she’s winning. There are four of them right now, but who knows if they can call for friends. Dammit! There doesn’t seem to be a perfect solution for this one.

[] Engage the beasts (Choose ONE of the Following)
() Stealthily
() Head-on
() Magically
() As a distraction
() Write-in Suggestion (Could be a battle strategy or a different tactic)
[] Do not engage the beasts
() Attempt to get the woman to flee with you
() She’s handling herself fairly well. At the very least, she doesn’t look injured. Go back to camp and try to put some distance from this though.
Once again, I apologize. My proofreaders were absent again. Hopefully it doesn't kill your eyes and brain too much...
[X] Engage the beasts (Choose ONE of the Following)
(X) Magically
I would say this just to have some distance between us and the beasts.

Only one major hiccup in this update is that you hit the enter key while in the middle of typing Celsius other than that it looked fine to me.
[X] Engage the beasts (Choose ONE of the Following)
(X) Magically
[X] Use our telepathic link to let the others know of the situation, like that time with the zombies.

It feels like "stealthily" and "head on" are mutually exclusive, but "magically" and "as a distraction" could be combined with each other or one of the other two.
I mean, we could sneak up on them and use a long range spell (or artes) to divide their attention without getting into their range and that would be stealth + magic + distraction.

But yeah, since you said to pick one I agree with >>58263. We should try try to pick them off, or at least weaken them, at range.
We don't want to get too close to those claws, and she can handle herself well enough by herself so us getting involved, even from a distance, should tip the scales to her favor.
[X] Engage the beasts (Choose ONE of the Following)
(X) Magically
[X] Use our telepathic link to let the others know of the situation, like that time with the zombies.

Man, soon Max is gonna be surrounded by ladies. Zelos would be jealous.
[X] Engage the breasts (Choose ONE of the Following)
(X) Erotically
No. Bad anon.
Okay, I'm calling it for engaging the robot bears with magic.

While some of them can be used together, there is a reason for them being mutually exclusive. For example, being a distraction would mostly entail making loud noises, flailing around, and otherwise looking like a fool. Stealth would be taking cheap shots at the bears and trying to stay out of sight, and sadly magic is kind of flashy and doesn't lend itself to stealth very well at least the spells Maxwell has access to right now. Head-on focuses on Melee skills and Artes. Magic, well, you'll see in the update. I suppose I should have said all this when I presented the choices. Sorry.

Believe me, even if you could, you wouldn't want those claws anywhere near you. They want to eat you, and not in a good way.

Anyway, update later tonight or tomorrow.
>Believe me, even if you could, you wouldn't want those claws anywhere near you. They want to eat you, and not in a good way.

I believe that Anon and I will be the judge of that! Some people are into gore and vore~! Not me though, seriously.
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”Sylph, Celsius, we got ourselves a problem here.” I use our mental link to get in touch with them.

”What kind of problem?” Celsius asks, sounding annoyed. Must have caught her at a bad time.

”How do robotic bears sound to you?” I say it with a bit of humor in an attempt to improve her mood.

Sylph chimes in by saying, “We’re on our way! Don’t die~!” She says it jokingly, but damn if it doesn’t unsettle me a little. I feel a slight twinge in my mind and at the same time Sylph whines, “Oww, Celsius, why’d you do that?” The ice spirit doesn’t respond and shortly after I feel the warmth of their power. “So, robot bears? How do you want to handle them?”

“Well, I can tell you right now that I’m not getting anywhere close to those claws. I may be agile, but I don’t want to take any chances.” In my mind I can see Celsius nod approvingly, while Sylph gives me a thumbs up. “Magic will be my best bet against them. Any suggestions on what would be most effective?”

”You’d want to try ice to freeze them and make them vulnerable to a strong hit. Wind can be used to try and put them off balance, but they seem too heavy to do that to. Celsius doesn’t sound too worried, so I guess that’s a good thing. ”We’ll leave it up to you to decide on how to go about this. Just be careful.”

“Right.” I keep my twinblade in hand as Celsius and Sylph start channeling mana for me. “Icicle!” I launch a volley of ice spikes at the nearest monster. The spikes hit the metal plates and shatter instantly, but it does succeed in getting the bastards attention. It turns away from the girl and roars. If I wasn’t so used to monster noises, I might actually be intimidated. As it stands I just smirk. “Icicle!” Once again I let out a volley of ice.

It raises its metallic arms to block most of the barrage, but a few spikes get through and pierce its stomach. The beast recoils in pain and shock, probably the first time it was ever wounded, which provides me with the perfect opening.

I spin my twinblade and Sylph channels her power into my hands and then the blades. The bear rushes towards me as I swing my weapon with all my might, “Air Blade!” Neon green shockwaves form with each swing of my blade and speed towards my foe. Thanks to the bear rushing me and the speed of the shockwaves it gets severely injured. The first cut open the metal chest to reveal wires and veins, the second took an arm off at the shoulder, next hit was to the legs taking it off balance, and the last one lopped off its head as it fell.

“Woah,” I just let my body move with the spell. I hadn’t expected that!

“That’s what happens when you are given instinctual knowledge on how to use a spell,” Celsius says as if that explains what just happened.

“Ghee, that explains a lot,” I mutter under my breath.

“I heard that! She shouts in my head.

“I know, I said it after all.” I move in closer to get the attention of another beast. “Icicle!” I unleash a third volley of ice into an unsuspecting beasts back. Blood sprays out of the wounds, while the metal portions are slightly scratched.

This distracts the beast long enough for the girl to jump up, use its head as a springboard and lands beside me. Normally, I’d be put off by such a maneuver, but since she’s cute, I’ll let it slide. Though, with her so close I can plainly see a pair of doglike ears and a tail on her.

She and I make eye contact and nod. I jump back as she takes her place in front of me. She makes no movements as the bears advance, giving me time to properly channel a spell. Using Sylph’s power, I create a large green circle around the beasts. “Air Pressure!” Almost immediately the ground beneath them caves in slightly and the monsters are nearly pushed to their knees. The metal bends, breaks, and buckles under the spell, but they remain standing.

As soon as the spell ends, the young woman dashes forward and beheads the bear I had previously impaled with ice. Just who is this girl? I know for a fact that most people, myself included, wouldn’t have been able to do that so easily.

“Does it matter right now?” Sylph asks sounding rather annoyed by my internal monologue.

“No, I guess not…” I admit hesitantly.

My temporary ally has taken her place in front of me once again, acting as a shield from the monsters. The one on the left has most of its metal parts intact, but the right one is seemingly falling to pieces with blood and oil dripping from its wounds.

Gripping my twinblade I jump to the left, viewing that one as a bigger threat. I make two diagonal cuts in the air which leave behind neon green shockwaves that launch as soon as I shout, “Air Blade!” The blades hit the more armored bear square in the chest, leaving large gashes that my partner quickly exploits by thrusting her sword through the opening. The beast falls as she jumps back.

The last one quickly runs towards her, claws raised and jaw wide open.

It doesn’t get far before Sylph and Celsius channel their energy into my weapon, which I then launch as hard as I can at the creature. The blade imbeds itself in its unarmored gut causing it to stop and stagger. It takes less than a second for the offending blade to glow a light blue, which is followed by ice forming around it, freezing the midsection of the bear. With a snap of my fingers, the blade shifts to neon green before releasing the wind energy stored in it. The resulting shockwave shatters the ice and leaves two separate halves lying on the ground, as well as launching the twinblade back to me.

I nearly don’t catch it, but Celsius helps me by guiding my hand.

In the end, that’s a bunch of dead robot bears and one saved girl. All in a day’s work for this fine adventurer!

Speaking of the girl, she sheathes her sword in a strap on her hip and comes over to me. “WKDQN BRX IRU BRXU KHOS.” She says in the same language Ran and Chen speak. For some odd reason, I’m not all that surprised. From what I’ve learned from Ran, I can tell she’s thanking me and likely being formal with it.

“No problem.” I say, but quickly say it again in her language.

BRX XQGHUVWDQG PH?” She says something that sounds like a question, but it came out so fast I didn’t catch it all.

I know only few words.” Ran taught me how to say that much in so I could let Chen know that I don’t quite understand her yet. The young woman nods somberly. Knowing that our conversation won’t lead us anywhere, I point towards where we have camp set up and gesture for her to follow us.

She hesitates for a moment before placing a hand on the hilt of her sword and starts walking beside me. You’d think I’d have earned some trust with saving her life and all…

“Well, you are asking her to follow a complete stranger. I think it’s smart for her to be cautious.” Sylph points out, which Celsius agrees with.

When we get back to camp, after much internal arguing over my integrity, Ran quickly runs over to us. Or rather, the girl.

They begin talking so fast that I can’t keep up with them at all. When they finish, Ran comes over to me and says, “Her name is Momiji. She is from the same world as Chen and I.” I nod in understanding, and then she continues, “She wanted me to let you know she’s grateful for your help, and that she would like to travel with us until we find a way home.”

“Fine by me,” I say, absently stoking the fire. “She seems like she can handle herself, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Was she hurt?”

“A few cuts and scrapes. She will be fine.”

With that, I quickly fall asleep with Ran and Celsius keeping watch for the remainder of the night…

If only my dreams were as peaceful as the night sky…

-Choose one (Grade Total: 150)
[] A chance visitor
[] Family issues
[] ??? (-100 Grade)
ANOTHER NaNoWriMo Update that isn't Myouren Academy! This one is due to reasons... And yes, this is ANOTHER story of mine that I almost let drop from the face of the earth. But here it is, updating again. Mostly because I have no sense of control anymore...

Oh man I want to see what that ??? option is, but that's so much grade...

[x] Family Issues
[x] ??? (-100 Grade)

Live fast, dream hard.
[X] ??? (-100 Grade)
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At some point, I don’t remember when, but at some point I find myself in an empty field. Not unlike the one I fell asleep in. I know this because Ran, Chen, and our newest addition Momiji aren’t there. I try to call to Sylph and Celsius, but get no response. There’s sunlight, but no sun. The sky is devoid of clouds, yet there are shadows on the ground. The road we were camped near is gone, the tree that Celsius destroyed last night is intact, as though it never happened.


The tree looks like a sapling now. Near it is a stump of what used to be a medium sized tree.

“Why are we planting trees?” A gruff, gravelly voice asks irritably. The voices owner slowly materializes with eight other figures. Each one is a colored silhouette. Red, green, dark blue, light blue, yellow, white, black, brown, and gray. The red one takes the shape of a large man with well-defined muscles.

The brown one has the shape of a large sphere with stubby limbs. “We cut down a tree last night to use as firewood, it’s only fair to plant a new one.” It says as it waves it’s stubby arms over the sapling, causing it to shimmer and grow slightly.

“Do we really have time to do this?” The green one, which is similar in size, shape, and sound to Sylph, asks as it buzzes around the others. “I mean, I understand why Gnome is into planting trees. But why do you want to do it, ?????.” Huh? What was the name? I could hear her say something, but it didn’t sound like words to me.

“Oh, well, I guess Gnome is just rubbing off on me, that’s all.” The gray figure shrugs. His voice and silhouette give me the impression of being an average human in their early twenties.

The light blue, similar build to Celsius, says, “We have to do what we can to preserve the environment. The High King has already set this world on its path to ruin, so we must do what we can to slow it down.” She sounds just like her too.

“Indeed,” The white figure says. She has the form of a woman carrying a staff with a crescent moon on the tip. “We must also take care to not use up too much of our own mana. There is only so much that ????? can provide us with.” There is again. It’s like his name doesn’t exist. Like it’s physically impossible for me to hear.

“wE mUST HurRy.” The black shape is like a vertical shadow with strange rings around it’s waist. “Aviur iS lIkelY to HAve beAten us tO the Seal.” It’s voice is genderless and echoic.

“Shadow is right.” The dark Blue Silhouette says sliding over to the gray one. She appears to be wearing some kind of flowing dress. “Aviur is by far the strongest of them all. If he has reached the seal, then we need to hurry.”

The last figure appears to just be a yellow floating ball. “- .... .. ... / .- .-. --. ..- -- . -. - / .. ... / .--. --- .. -. - .-.. . ... ... .-.-.- / .-- . / .... .- ...- . / --- ..- .-. / --. --- .- .-.. / .- -. -.. / -- ..- ... - / .- -.-. -.-. --- -- .--. .-.. .. ... .... / .. - .-.-.- / . ..-. .-. . . - / -- ..- ... - / ..- ... . / .... .. ... / .--. --- .-- . .-. / - --- / ... . .- .-.. / .- ...- .. ..- .-. --..-- / .- ... / .. / -.. .. -.. / .-- .. - .... / .-. .- .. -.. . -. .-.-.-” Uhhh. What? That sounded like a mixture of beeps and buzzes.

“He’s right. Let’s go.” The gray silhouette seemed to understand what it said though. Slowly, everyone but the gray one fades away. “I just hope that we aren’t too late.” Even he too fades away, leaving nothing but the tree. The tree which grows ever so slightly as if time was passing through the years. Eventually, the tree stops growing and after what feels like minutes, explodes into splinters.

“If the generals wake, this world is doomed. And with it, our dimensional neighbors.” The man’s voice rings out as the field turns to nothingness, and the sky turns black. “Our neighbors are innocent, and likely know nothing of our existence. But the High Kind cares not, he merely wishes to reshape the world in his image.” His voice is different than before though. Before it sounded confident, ready, young. Now, now it sounds more mature, hesitant, saddened. “My fights have left me with one question though. ‘Was I right?’ Still, I have come too far to stop now. I can’t let this world, or any other, be erased. Even if it means denying a paradise. History will call me ‘Hero’, the spirits will call me ‘friend’, but what will you call me?”

It is at that point that I feel as though I’m falling.


When I wake, I find myself laying close to the fire pit with Celsius and Sylph looking over me.
“Are you okay?” Sylph asks worriedly.

I sit up and shake my head to clear the last bit of drowsiness from my head. I’ve always been good at waking up quickly. “I’m not sure.” I answer honestly. “I had a pretty strange dream.”

Sylph and Celsius exchange glances before Celsius tells me, “It wasn’t a dream. It was a memory.”

“One of yours?”

“Yes,” She answers plainly, and then quickly walks off over to the destroyed tree.

“That doesn’t normally happen…” Sylph mumbles to herself before taking her usual spot on my shoulder. “So, uh, do you want to talk about it?”

Hmmm… “Maybe. Let me get my head on straight first.” Chen and Ran are rolling up their bed rolls as Momiji goes through what seem to be some basics maneuvers for her fighting style.

-Choose One
[] Ask Sylph more about Spirits as I make breakfast for everyone.
[] Talk to Celsius, she might not appreciate me getting a peek into her mind like that.
[] Observe Momiji’s practice, I might learn something from her.
[] Ask Ran and Chen about their home.
Ah, the plot thickens!

Writing Dialogue for Shadow was a pain in the ass! MSWord kept wanting to auto-correct everything.
[X] Talk to Celsius, she might not appreciate me getting a peek into her mind like that.


Apparently, we have more superpowered assholes that we'll probably need to deal with at some point.
[X] Talk to Celsius, she might not appreciate me getting a peek into her mind like that.


Well, isn't that just swell. At least we know there are more of them now... Whatever "them" are.
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After a moment of pushing the ashes of the fire pit around, I eventually tell Sylph, “I think I’ll go talk to Celsius.”

She floats off my shoulder and nods her tiny head. “That sounds like a good idea. Celsius doesn’t like talking about the past. She won’t even tell me what happened back then.”

“Huh? Weren’t you there?” I ask, feeling more than a little confused.

“Well, sorta. Celsius and I can tell you later. It’s kinda complicated, and she knows more of the details than I do.” Sylph says bashfully as she hovers in front of me.

I nod and turn away. I’ll just take her word for it right now. Besides, I should apologize to Celsius sooner rather than later. The spirit in question is kneeling down beside the ruined tree, running her hand along the trunk longingly. As if the tree was a dear friend that was taken from her. “Celsius,” I say tentatively.

“Maxwell,” she responds quietly. “What you saw, was one of the last times I saw my brothers and sisters together. At least without them fighting amongst themselves.” She places her hand on a branch and slowly bends it, but doesn’t break it. “We are all, at our core, incompatible. Efreet and I would gladly spend more time together if our mere presence didn’t harm the other. Gnome hates the open and Sylph doesn’t like cramped areas. Volt is too literal, too focused, and Undine is fond of metaphors, and doesn’t mind distractions if she feels they are needed to unwind. Luna and Shadow surprisingly get along fine.” She suddenly snaps the branch off the tree and starts bending it once more. “Our previous master got us all together to return home. He helped us get along, even made Efreet’s presence bearable. That man was more than just another Summoner. He never used our power for things he could do himself, and only for the good of others.” She breaks the branch in half and begins bending one of the halves, all the while speaking in a soft, longing voice. “Each of us saw him differently. Efreet saw him as a rival, someone to aspire to beat, Gnome saw him as an equal, Undine treated him like one of us, Volt wanted to be his mentor, Sylph was like his child, Luna trusted him with her life, and Shadow saw something in him that he never saw in a person before…”

She breaks the branch once again and looks up at me, her eyes soft, lacking their normal focus. “What about you?” I ask kneeling down beside her. “How did you feel about him?”

“I loved him.” She answers in a barely audible whisper. “Sylph’s memories are broken. She doesn’t remember Aviur and the High King. She believes that he made it back home, but he didn’t. At least he saw it one last time though.” She drops the remaining branch and runs her hand along the tree once more. “He saved this world, and all that are linked to it by sealing the generals and the High King. Their seals were created by us, but maintained by the sealed. Aviur’s was rushed, we were running out of time. Efreet was hurt and couldn’t complete the seal, so the villagers agreed to act as part of the seal, even after death.” She doesn’t say it, but you know that you are partly responsible for his return. “Once all of the generals are woken, they can undo the final seal on the High King.” She looks back up to me. “I know you want to get those women back to their home, but I have to ask, will you please help us stop Aviur from awakening the others? I don’t want his sacrifice to be in vain.”

“I’ll do it.” I don’t even hesitate. She’s hurting, I can tell. Celsius, for her calm demeanor, is surprisingly fragile at this moment. I can’t say I know what she’s going through, but if I can help, then I’ll be damned if I don’t. She obviously wasn’t expecting such a quick answer, as she is stumbling to find the right words at the moment.

-Choose One
[] “Before we go, I need to know more about…
-() what you meant by Sylph’s memories being broken”
-() the generals. Who are they, are they all as powerful as Aviur, where are they sealed?”
-() who the High King is. What is his goal behind all this?
-() Write-in question that does not contain any of the prior choices
[] “We should get moving, we still have a ways to go until we reach the port, and subsequently Undine.”
[] “Why didn’t you mention this sooner?”
[] "I'm sorry, by the way. I didn't mean to pry."
Well, that certainly was an info dump. Plus the opportunity for more! HOORAY!
[x] "I'm sorry, by the way. I didn't mean to pry."

D'awws all around
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Capitalizing on Celsius’ lack of words, I decide that I should apologize. “Celsius, I’m sorry by the way. I didn’t mean to pry.”

This snaps her back to her senses and she quickly responds with, “D-don’t worry about it. Turnabout is fair play after all. I saw some of yours, you saw some of mine. What you saw may have been the best thing for you to have seen. For me at least.” She pauses awkwardly. “I appreciate you listening to me though. Most of my other masters don’t listen and just order me around.”

“Well, that’s probably because I don’t see myself as your master. You may be helping me, but you’re free to leave any time. I want you to help me, and I want to help you. We’re partners, right?” I extend my hand to my kneeling companion.

Almost hesitantly, Celsius reaches out and takes my hand. “We are, thank you Maxwell. You are quite the interesting person.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” I chuckle as I help her to her feet.

The two of us walk back to the center of our camp where the others are waiting for us. “What now?” Ran asks as I grab my bags.

“Those bears were obviously not part of nature,” Celsius says, pointing out the obvious. “They were likely made by the Desians, so staying in the area is not a good idea. I would also recommend getting off the road.” She pauses and looks around. “Undine would be a sensible first start, as we were planning, but Gnome is within a days walk and Efreet is within two days. Undine will take us at least a week of travel on the road to reach the port and about five days off the road, but we won’t be passing through any towns. And when we reach the port, it will be about a day on the boat, if we could even afford it to begin with.”

-Choose One
[] Stick with the plan, go to Undine
() Stay on the road
() Go offroading
[] Gnome is closest, best get his help first
[] Efreet is supposed to be really strong, his power might come in handy
Lack of votes sadden me...
[X] Stick with the plan, go to Undine
(X) Go offroading

So, I figure sticking with the plan is the best idea at this point, considering Efreet will most definitely test us and Gnome very well could too.

If we decide to stay on the trail, we'll probably encounter at least one more town. On the other hand if we go offroading then we'll get there quicker, but miss any interactions in town and probably encounter more monsters though I think we have more than enough protection to make it though. Don't really know enough about desians to know if they're more likely to have a base near the trail or not.
[X] Stick with the plan, go to Undine
(X) Go offroading

Our elemental spirit harem must grow
[X] Stick with the plan, go to Undine
(X) Go offroading

I don't really fancy our chances against Efreet right now. Gnome too, really. With the spirits we have, we're pretty far on the fragile speedster side of things.
File 141732288944.jpg - (812.37KB, 1000x950, Sylph.jpg) [iqdb]
“We should stick to the plan. I’m not exactly confident in my ability to beat Efreet, and I as you said, Sylph and Gnome aren’t the most compatible. So maybe gathering some other spirits might be a good idea.” I say after a moments debate. Efreet is supposed to be really strong, and, well, I’m not. I have skill and speed on my side, but chances are that if he hit me, I’d be down for the count. “We should also avoid the roads,” I say hesitantly. “We may encounter more monsters, but I would rather face them over a Desian patrol.”

Celsius nods as Ran translates. Sylph has once again takes her place on my shoulder, “If we head due north from here we’ll reach the port in a matter of days. But, there’ll be a river in our way. Celsius should be able to freeze the water for us though.”

Nodding the spirit in question says, “That’s right. This particular river is quite fast and deep, but I should have no trouble giving us a path.”

“How far out is the river?” I ask, trying to gauge in my head a good resting point.

“About a day out,” Sylph answers, “We should make it by nightfall. On the other side is a small forest. Personally, I think we should go around that, but in the end it’s your call.”

“What’s wrong with the forest?”

Celsius and Sylph exchange nervous looks for a moment. “It’s cursed,” whispers Sylph.

“Not cursed,” Celsius corrects. “Just not safe. A lot of vengeful spirits roam the forest from when they were sacrificed to an Elder Being.”

I gulp as I recall learning of Elder Beings. They are vastly powerful monsters, far larger in size from their normal brethren and far more intelligent. Some were revered as gods, while others were imprisoned and used as weapons to be unleased in war. Personally, fighting one of those is likely to be worse than fighting Aviur, at his full power.

“There’s no need to worry,” Celsius says soothingly. “We slew the beast with our previous master. However, its influence remains. The beasts there feasted on its remains and grew in power as a result. We should be able to handle anything that comes our way, but caution might prove to be prudent. Even going around it will be faster than the road.” She takes a few steps north. “We should get moving if we are to reach the river by night.”

I nod as I give a small gesture for the others to follow. I suppose for the time being we’re safe, so taking some time to talk to someone might be okay.

-Choose One
[] Ask Sylph and Celsius some questions… (Ask as many as you want.)
[] Talk to Ran, Chen, and Momiji about… (What do you want to talk about?)
If you need suggestions as to what to ask the spirits about, refer to the previous posts. As for The Gensokyoens, I'm sure you can think of plenty. Do bare in mind that Maxwell only knows that they're from another world and nothing more than that.
[X] Talk to Ran, Chen, and Momiji about…
(X) Their world
(X) How they got to this world
[X] Talk to Ran, Chen, and Momiji about…
(X) Their world
(X) How they got to this world

We need to understand how they got here if we want any chance of getting them home.
[x] Talk to Ran, Chen, and Momiji about…
[x] Their world
[x] How they got to this world

I am allergic to decisions.
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