The mood is listless. Cold winds foretell uncertainty and disorder. It all ends in Pandæmonium.
The world is foggy and grey as you open your eyes. A bright light hits you from above, momentarily blinding you. A sharp red pain courses through your mind as your eyes attempt to adjust, but the light is simply too intense, so you turn away. Rubbing at your eyes all the while, you begin to make out the world around you.
It appears to be a place of worship. Dusty pews line the room, their wood tarnished and rough. A torn rug lies between them, its faded patterns barely recognizable. A thick layer of dust seems to cover the whole room, and no light comes from the building's windows.
Finding this odd, you turn to face the light that blinded you before. It doesn't seem nearly as intense as it had been, though it's still powerful enough to keep the room lit.
A tall, robed figure seems to hover over a large crucifix at the head of the temple. Their long, white hair reaches to their knees, and leads you to the conclusion that this is a woman. Looking even closer you notice her six large wings, whose feathers seem to nearly melt into her silky hair. She beams down at you, her eyes narrowed.
"Hello?" You wave to the figure, who in turn waves back. She's smiling now. "Who are you?"
The woman puts a finger to her lips in a hushing gesture, then descends from her place over the crucifix. She points behind you, and you turn to see just what it is she's pointing at.
Two doors you hadn't noticed before stand at the end of the dingy rug. They slowly open to the outside, and before you realize it the woman is at your side. She places a hand on your shoulder and prompts you to follow her out of the building.
Stepping outside, the first thing you notice is a harsh chill in the air. Snow falls at a gentle rate, filling the purple sky with white specks as far as the eye can see. The area surrounding you appears to be a courtyard of sorts, which is elevated above whatever lies below. The woman leads you to the edge of the courtyard, and you're initially surprised at what you see.
Beneath you are countless buildings in disarray. Busted pillars and cracked walls are two recurring themes in this decimated landscape, and no matter where you look there isn't a sign of life to be found. At first you think that some tragedy must have happened, though the comforting smile of the robed woman leads you to believe otherwise.
"What happened here? Where did all the people go?"
You look up at the woman. She smiles sadly as she pats your head and once again gestures forward, this time past the surrounding ruins. Far off on the horizon you can make out the shapes of buildings. They seem to tower far above the temple you've emerged from, and beyond the buildings you can see the tip of what appears to be a snow covered mountain.
The woman then gestures into the ruins below. She leads you down a set of stairs and into the ruins below. As the two of you walk their streets, you notice carvings on various buildings. In them you can see a recurring theme of a six-winged figure looming high above many people and the city. 'Could this woman be that very same figure?', you wonder internally.
You eventually reach a plaza which once could have functioned as a market. Now, however, there is only debris. In the middle of the wreckage you make out the form of a girl curled up on the ground.
Without a second thought you run to her, leaving the woman behind. The girl's only movement is that of her chest slowly rising and falling. You grab both her hand and shoulder and give her a shake, but she doesn't wake up.
"Hey. Hey! Get up!" You resist slapping the girl, though you're tempted to if it would wake her. "Can you hear me? Hello?!"
The girl grumbles and pulls you over to her, hugging you like a pillow as she continues to sleep.
At first you're flustered, but you then take this moment to analyze the girl. The first thing that catches your attention is her blonde hair and pointed ears. After that you realize the girl is fully dressed, and her clothes look mostly new. "Mostly" simply due to the snow and dust that's accumulated on her while she's laid here for who knows how long.
"Shhhh. You keep talking boss lady will come." She half-snores while talking, a happy grin on her face. "Five more minutes. She'll wake us up anyway. Shin..."
The girl breaks out into a loud snore and begins to drool. You pull back in disgust and get some distance between you and her. Your hand brushes against her, and it's then that you realize just how small you are.
Your hands are a fair deal smaller than the blonde girl's, and your legs are thin though spindly. At first this doesn't seem right to you, but that doesn't make much sense considering you're looking at your own body.
It's then that you decide to look back. You see no trace of the robed woman, her light, or the temple you came here from. It's as if they all shifted to another place, as if they were trying to escape from you. The snow continues to fall, and the distant city surrounding the mountain seems to be the only other visible thing on the horizon.
CHOOSE ONE OF EACH SET
[ ] Leave blondie behind.
[ ] Take blondie with you.
[ ] Advance towards the city in the distance.
[ ] Search the ruins.
If MC is smaller than the blondie, it would be pretty difficult to take her with us. For those of you who never had the dubious pleasure of spending 8 hours learning different ways to carry/drag wounded companions; It's actually really damn difficult.
You brush snow off your shoulder as you weigh your options. The robed woman probably isn't going to just let you find her if she wants to avoid you, and that city looks pretty far to reach on foot.
Then there's the girl. She's still drooling and appears to be sleeping peacefully, but even so... If she's left out here with more snow piling on her, she'll die eventually. Shaking her roughly does no good, she still won't wake up.
A few moment pass as you watch the girl and listen to your surroundings, wondering what to do. The only sound you hear is a very distant hum, though you can't quite place its origins.
"It can't be helped, I guess." You grab the girl's arms and pull them over your shoulders. "You're coming with me, whoever-you-are."
"Th'nameshelly." The girl snores again, seemingly not bothered by you hoisting her up.
You take a few steps forward, struggling to drag the girl along with you. Somehow her weight doesn't bother you as much as her size, but you settle for letting her feet drag along behind you.
The ruins around you seem mostly unchanged as you retrace your steps. The temple is no longer where it had been, just as you expected. You set off with a heavy sigh, deciding to roam the ruins in search of a way to carry the blondie that doesn't slow you down.
You once again find yourself drawn to the murals carved into various buildings. That six winged figure is a constant recurring theme in them, seemingly a god to whatever people lived here. Some murals depict people bowing in prayer to the her. If that robed woman really is the god-like figure shown here, does that mean she outlived her people? The thought that she destroyed them herself crosses your mind as well.
All at once you realize how little attention you'd been paying to where you stepped. Your footing's lost as you tumble down a staircase, hitting your head a few times before landing on your face at the bottom. The thin layer of snow does nothing to cushion your fall, instead just serving as a way to show every spot you hit your head on the way down.
"Ow ow ow!" Hot tears well up at the edge of your vision and you do your best to push them back. "Aagh, that hurt. Are you okay, miss-?"
You turn to look for the blonde girl but she's nowhere to be found. In her place is a fluffy bat with a bright red bow somehow attached to its head. At first it looks disturbed by the fall but ultimately settles into its place, using its wings like a blanket as it begins to speak.
"Mmm, five more minutes! No more work boss please~"
The bat drools and covers its face with its wings. Initially you're completely dumbfounded, but then realize its dumb babbling sounds just like someone else you know.
"I guess that should make you easier to carry at least, so I won't bother asking how it happened." You pick the girl-turned-bat up and place her on your head. Her wings rest on the sides of your head, making her feel like some kind of silly hat. "Should I call you Batty instead of Blondie?"
"Nooo~" The bat stretches for emphasis but falls back into her hat-like position in an instant. It's getting hard for you to tell if she's responding to you or just stupid.
The two of you continue your journey through this strange land. Broken pillars line every road, and the entire city feels like it's constantly looping on itself as you wander. It isn't until what feels like an hour of exploring that you finally see something different in the distance.
It's separate from the crumbled ruins of a city you had been wandering through, though not all that far removed from it. A simple village you'd expect to find in a some rural area is on the outskirts of these ruins, a short path leading over to it. You take off in a sprint towards it and pray that someone will be there to answer your questions.
The village isn't very large, made up of only twenty or so houses. There's a large fenced area that resembles farmland, but the layer of snow and lack of plants suggests it had been out of use for a while. One house has what appears to be a smithy built into the first floor, but the fires are long dead. Peering into another building, you notice some rooms with metal bars and beds. A few people are also resting inside those rooms, though you decide it's best to avoid contact with potential criminals.
You decide to investigate the smithy next. A large man sleeps in an even larger chair, gripping a sheathed weapon he may have planned to work on. Your hands aren't enough to wrap around his thick biceps, but you try to give him a shove anyway.
"Urggh..." He snores loudly, hardly shaken by your actions. "Demons, the lot of them... Livestock's all we... zzzzz"
The man mumbles some more before returning to his snoring. Seeing as he's no help and seemingly just as impossible to wake up, you leave him behind.
A little more searching just turns up more homes with sleeping people in them. Nobody responds to anything you do to wake them, and it seems as if they're all under some spell. You can't help but wonder why you aren't asleep like them.
You're just about to leave the village when you notice a moving light in a window at the village's outskirts. This catches your interest and pulls you in like a moth to a flame. The home the light swings in seems like more of a shack than anything, though it does have its own chimney poking out the back. You push the door open a little, though it's already mostly opened anyway.
A quick glance inside reveals it to be just as simple on the inside as it is on the outside. A bed sits against one wall, with a mostly empty bookcase next to it. The fireplace connected to the chimney sits in the center of the room with a pile of firewood next to it. What really catches your attention, though, is a blonde haired girl in red and white clothing who's asleep at a table in the corner.
She has a troubled look on her face, as if she's having some kind of nightmare. You run a hand across her arm and realize she's covered in cold sweat. The wind and snow blowing in from the open door's probably made her sick, but she seems to be in an even deeper sleep than any other people you've run into.
You look up and realize what the moving light was. The girl apparently left a hanging lamp on before she fell asleep, and the breeze blowing into the shack was pushing it around enough to make it look like someone was awake in here. It's hard for you to not sigh after seeing that. No matter where you turn, it's only more sleeping people and more snow. At this rate you may never find the robed woman or find out what's going on.
CHOOSE ONE OF EACH SET
[ ] Leave the girl as she is.
[ ] Try to help the girl warm up.
[ ] Head towards the city in the distance.
[ ] Continue wandering the area near the village.
The update is on the way, I've just been struggling trying to make it something I can enjoy reading. Please wait warmly.
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Even if you're far off from finding the robed woman, she shouldn't be your main concern right now. You walk over to the open door and sweep the snow out with your foot before shutting it, then turn to face the sleeping girl.
She's still shivering. While there isn't much you can do about her condition, you decide to at least do all that you can. With great effort you manage to lift her out of her chair and drag her across the room to the bed. She's somewhat larger than the blondie-turned-batty was, and surprisingly heavier too.
You spy a change of clothes for the girl on the bookcase. Nothing extravagant, just a simple nightgown and cap. After a short time struggling with sweat-soaked clothes, you manage to get her into the gown and cap. She's mostly motionless as you get her settled into the bed, only shaking her head when you push her stomach to move her.
You feel around by your legs and find the edge of the dress you're wearing. With a steady motion you wipe it across the girl's face, picking up most of the sweat in the process. She looks somewhat shaken by this at first but quickly returns to a peaceful sleep. Backing up, you turn your attention back to the room around you.
The firewood looks to be in pretty good shape, so you decide to throw some logs into the fireplace. One thing that bothers you is that you don't have any kindling or really any way to get a fire started here. You stretch your right hand towards the logs to look beneath them for anything that could help.
It's then that the logs spontaneously burst into flames. You jump back, causing the batty girl to fall into your lap as the fireplace begins to glow.
"Mmm, what now?" She rolls around in your lap, still refusing to wake up. "Oh, feels nice... So warm~"
The little bat stretches her wings out and comes to rest on her back. You pick her back up and return her to the place on your head. Even if the fire would keep her warm- and even if she'd probably enjoy staying here- you'd rather not leave your traveling companion behind.
You get up and inspect the sleeping girl. She looks better now, though she's still obviously sick. With a shrugging motion you consider your options and decide you've done all you possibly can. As you reach towards her to pat her goodbye, the girl seems to pull away.
"Ugh..." She shivers. "Why would she..." The girl buries her face in the covers as she trails off, mumbling into the sheets.
You pull your hand back. An uneasy feeling eats at you as you turn to reluctantly exit the tiny house.
The door shuts as you return to the snow covered village outside. You hurry away from the small home, wondering if the girl will be okay on her own. While pondering this you look up and see the city and mountain in the distance once again. It's still far off, but you feel a little more inclined to reach it.
Feeling determined, you set off for the city on the horizon. The village slowly fades into the distance as you walk, following a snow-covered road that appears to be surrounded by more of the former farmlands. The path twists and turns every once in a while, much like your thoughts.
You can't help but wonder... What is this place, and who are you to it? Why is everyone else asleep, yet you're awake and running around this strange place? And why was the girl in the small house sick and cold, but you...
Don't feel a thing?
You slow to a walk and continue to wonder. It should be cold outside, and you can definitely tell by looking around you that it is cold outside. Yet you feel nothing. You couldn't feel the warmth of the fire. All this snow and occasional wind in hasn't fazed you at all.
Raising your hands to your face, you begin to lose yourself in the lines on your palms. You trace them with your eyes, looking for any sign that you're different. Absolutely any clue as to what's going on with you, and not just who you are, but why you are. A bright light brings you back to reality.
The robed woman stands further down the road, watching you. Your legs start to shake when you see her.
"You." You stare intensely at the woman, unblinking. It feels like she may vanish as soon as you aren't looking. "Who are you?"
The robed woman smiles. She doesn't seem keen on revealing her identity.
"...Who am I?"
"Shhh." She doesn't even raise a finger to her lips before she stops hushing you. "..."
The woman turns and starts walking, prompting you to run after her. She seems to notice you running and spreads her wings, lifting off the ground. She literally flies down the path ahead, vanishing from view just as swiftly as she had appeared.
You kick the ground and clench your fists. After a few seconds pouting you look up and find yourself past the farmland and at the mouth of a forest. The bat girl on your head adjusts her wings as you look around. You reach up to scratch your head but instead wind up petting hers.
"Mm, feels good~"
You ruffle her ears around before bringing your hand back to your side. Deciding to roll with the punches, and trying to forget about the robed woman, you continue along the path.
The forest is a nice change of pace from the broken pillars of the ruins and the village, which was just one big letdown. Green leaves continue to grow here in spite of the snow, the foliage nearly blocking the road at some points. It almost seems like, so long as this snow has been falling, the plants have been growing in excess. At least, you can't remember any time you've seen plants grow as densely as they are here and now.
That said, you honestly can't remember much of anything. Your name, where you're from... Even your face escapes you. It might be nice to look in a mirror, though you don't think you're about to find one in a wooded area like this.
As you continue walking you can hear a commotion gradually drawing closer. Rather, it seems like you're the one getting closer to it. You proceed cautiously, trying to use the overhanging greenery as a cover as you approach what appears to be two girls wrestling.
"Lemme go, you oaf!" A smaller girl with grey hair struggles beneath her aggressor. "I told you already, I've got nothing to do with this!"
The first thing you notice about the smaller girl, aside from her hair, are what appear to be large animal ears sprouting out of her hair. Somehow this doesn't strike you as odd, and you even feel as if you've seen that sort of thing before. Aside from that the girl looks mostly normal, even down to her frumpy dress.
"You said you were a commander, yes?" The larger girl pins the tiny girl down while interrogating her. Her blueish hair is mostly covered by a red hat. "Why make such a claim if you're innocent?"
This larger girl doesn't have odd animal ears like the smaller of the two, but you do notice a long tail whipping around behind her as the smaller girl struggles. The other thing you notice is her odd outfit, which is some sort of black and white abomination.
"I told you, I don't know what's going on here. I'm just searching for ancient treasures!"
"A likely story indeed! How am I supposed to believe such lies, when everybody here aside from you was asleep?"
The larger girl seems to get a good hold of the smaller girl, and starts to talk to her in a more hushed voice. Looking past them you can see the robed woman much further down the road. She catches your eye and smiles, beckoning for you to follow as she continues to float down the path.
[ ] Sneak past the strange girls and chase after the robed woman.
[ ] Forget the robed woman for now and ask these girls for answers.
-[ ] Help the larger girl hold down the smaller girl.
-[ ] Help the smaller girl escape from the larger girl.
Sorry the update took so long to get out. I really wanted to make this part work well and didn't trust myself to write and edit when I was tired after work.
Something in you stirs, and you decide that blindly following the robed woman isn't the best course of action. Instead you approach the two girls, trying your best not to immediately draw their attention. The larger girl continues to overpower the smaller girl, and as a result doesn't notice you drawing closer.
"Well? Come on then, what's going on here?" She sits up a little, all the while holding the smaller girl's wrists together. "Who are you commanding, and are you the one responsible for this?"
The smaller girl doesn't answer her. She briefly looks at you but then turns her attention back to the larger girl and gives a small nod as you get closer and closer. Somehow you feel as if she's expecting you to help her.
"What are you nodding for? That wasn't a yes or no question!" The larger girl sounds irritated.
Your heart rate begins to pick up as you sneak up behind the larger girl. With a swift motion you ram your shoulder into her, causing her to briefly fall forward. The small girl takes the chance to slide away, but the large girl is quick to reassert her position. She turns slightly to look at you, a look of shock and confusion in her eyes.
"What the hell?"
"Ram her again!" The small girl squirms, slightly distracting the red capped girl on top of her. "Come on, you're trying to help me, right? Give her all you've got!"
You take a step back and ram into the red cap girl again. She barely moves this time, and manages to use a free hand to grab your arm and pull you in front of her. With that one swift motion you lose your balance and fall on the ground in front of her.
Red cap stares down at you with her dark blue eyes, her expression now somewhere between anger and fear. Her chest heaves as she holds the two of you down, and you can feel her breath hitting you. Your attention shifts to the smaller of the girls who's now at your side. She motions with her head, and you get the idea that she wants you to roll towards her. The two of you roll simultaneously, knocking the red capped girl on her butt and finally setting the tiny grey-haired girl free.
"Yes!" The tiny girl is quick to get up and begin running. She stops for a second and looks skeptically at you. "Uh... Thanks! F-follow me!"
Without a word you come to your feet and begin to go after her. After a few steps something seizes your leg, and, looking down, you realize it's the red cap girl. You look back up at the short girl and see her scowl. She reaches into a satchel on the back of her dress and takes something into her hand as she approaches, a look of determination in her eyes.
"W-wait!" The red cap girl pleads as she lets go of your leg, using her freed hand to help herself up. "I don't want to fight now, so just give me a few seconds to explain!"
"I'm not buying that for a second!" The grey haired girl swings her arm and releases some bright flashes of light. They arc with her swing and fly at the redcap girl, who barely manages to graze whatever the lights were. "And I'm not letting you take that girl in my place! Take this!"
The tiny commander lets out another string of lights. They shine gold and green as they arc, then divide into smaller lights that fly at the red cap girl. The larger girl continues to dodge the lights, narrowly escaping them as she attempts to close the distance between her and the commander.
"I don't want to hold you down anymore, so please stop!"
"Like I'd believe that! If you aren't lying, prove it!"
A look of understanding dawns on the red cap girl's face as she slowly comes to a stop. The arcing yellow and green lights then manage to connect with her and send her flying down the path. She skids against the ground for a moment before coming to a stop.
As the girl lies there motionless, you begin to take note of the damage caused by this battle. Holes have appeared all over the snowy path, though you realize none of them are near you. A few nearby trees have their surface bark scorched off, and the shrubs beside them have holes blown through their leaves.
It's as you notice this damage that the red cap girl sits up, now covering her chest with one arm. Her clothing, much like the snowy path and shrubs, has holes burned into it. She doesn't appear to be bleeding, thankfully.
"Is... Is that good enough?" The larger girl pants as she speaks. Those bright lights, whatever they may have been, must have knocked the wind right out of her. "I took your attack, so please don't run."
The tiny commander appears dumbfounded. She returns something to the satchel on the back of her dress and moves shyly towards the red cap girl. You get up and follow her, your legs shaking in awe of what you just witnessed.
For a moment the three of you remain silent. The larger girl lowers her arms, revealing that it really was only her clothes that were damaged from the fight. The smaller girl reaches down and takes her hand, helping her up to her feet.
"Ah, thank you."
You blink. The two of them seem at a loss for words. As hard as it may be to find any words of your own, you decide to break the silence.
"Um, why did that happen? What were you two arguing about that caused all that?"
The larger girl blushes a little and looks away. She folds her arms and flicks the long tail that's coming out of her dress. For some reason you thought it wasn't real, but as it continues to move you realize it must be.
"I'm an, uh, baku." The large red capped girl shrugs, smiling sadly. "I came here because I noticed an excess of dreams where I live. When I got here I found that almost everybody in this place was asleep, except for this girl. So... I figured I'd beat some answers out of her."
"You could've just asked nicely, y'know."
"Eh? You mean I didn't have to do all that?"
The smaller girl shakes her head in disappointment. You can't help but feel this entire thing was some big misunderstanding.
"As for me," The smaller girl motions to herself with one hand as she speaks, the other hand resting across her chest. "I came here to search for ancient treasures, just like I said before. My superiors wanted me to see if some artifact of a bygone era was left here in the wreckage, but I got stopped by this girl when she thought I put a bunch of people to sleep."
"Ah, my name is Doremy, by the way." The larger girl offers a smile. "Sorry about attacking you, miss...?"
"Nazrin." The tiny commander narrows her eyes at Doremy. "Apology accepted. Next time don't pounce on someone before saying hello."
The red capped girl looks ashamed as she nods. After a moment of silence she turns her attention towards you, a spark of curiosity in her eyes.
"You haven't said your name, have you? What brought you here?"
Not good. You have no idea what your name is or where you came from. You'll probably have to tell them something if you want more answers, you reason.
[ ] Make something up.
[ ] Tell them the truth.
Sorry again about the delays. I'll try to get better at this. Also just to clarify, any name or backstory you make up here isn't true. You're really just coming up with lies, not creating your character.
Even so, you aren't entirely sure what you could tell them. You hadn't given it much thought, but you can't really remember your name, face, or where you even came from. For all you know, you could be some kind of animal girl like these two!
...You turn slightly to inspect your backside and breath a sigh of relief when you see no tail. Something else catches your eye, though. Some sort of flappy black appendages have apparently emerged from your back, and you aren't entirely sure what they are. Your attempts to move them fail, so you settle for touching one. Yet again you're unable to feel much of anything.
Another minute or so passes by as you inspect the appendages, and you decide that they must be wings. After reaching that conclusion you realize you still haven't answered Doremy, and that she's been watching you with a look of concern the whole time.
"Ah, um, well! I... don't really remember." All you can offer her is a shrug. You wonder if you could make the little wings shrug, too. "I can't remember if I have a name or where I came from, but I do remember waking up in an old church. There was a tall lady with a robe and staff, and she..."
Doremy and Nazrin watch with interest as you explain the events that led you to where you are. The former looks very understanding, while the latter crosses her arms and looks to be suspicious of your story.
"So-" Doremy points to a fuzzy black lump on the ground nearby. "Is that the girl who turned into a bat? She fell off your head when you surprised me."
Without a moment's hesitation you run over to the bat girl and dust the snow off her. You return her to her place on your head and feel relief as she begins to snore.
"Sounds to me like the two of you are after the same thing, then." Nazrin unfolds her arms and points towards the city that's barely visible over the tree line. "That angel woman you met probably knows why the people here are asleep, so why not go after her?"
"That's a great idea! And, she can probably help you find treasure, right?" Doremy pumps her fists up and down as she speaks. "So let's all go, then! To track down the mystery woman!"
Nazrin looks apprehensive at first, but after a moment spent looking up thoughtfully she nods her head. Doremy smiles warmly and takes your hand, swinging it as she leads you down the path.
"...The city's the other way."
She comes to a stop and briefly lets go of your hand. She quickly flips around and seizes your hand again, leading you down the path and hopefully towards the city in the distance. Nazrin shakes her head while smiling, and you can't help but smile too.
The three of you continue that way for some time. Hand in hand, hands swinging, walking down the path. It's only after a few more minutes of only seeing trees and the snow covered path that Doremy decides to speak up.
"So you're a fairy, huh?"
You aren't aware she's talking to you at first. A fairy...? Honestly, you were under the impression you were some kind of bat creature like the girl-bat on your head. You're not entirely sure why she'd assume you're some kind of fai-
"I mean, it's usually only fairies who're that small and have weird wings like those. Plus it'd explain your memory loss, right?"
Doremy grunts as Nazrin digs an elbow into her ribs. She smiles weakly as she lets go of your hand and holds her side.
"S-sorry. I guess that was rude of me."
You weren't actually offended by her suggestion, just baffled. You had been thinking you might be a bat creature like the girl on your head, but if you're a fairy then that can't be the case. If that's true though, then would that really make you some kind of fairy? And what is a fairy, anyway? Is a fairy some kind of weird bug creature? The thought that you could be some kind of greater insect fascinates you, but also disturbs you.
She also mentioned you being small. You zip around Doremy and stand next to Nazrin, and you're shocked to find that you're tinier than the tiny commander. It isn't by a lot, but it still catches you off guard.
"...What? Why're you hovering so close to me?"
Rather than telling, you decide to show by placing a hand flat on your head and slowly bringing it over to her. She looks at you blankly for a moment before grinning in a very smug way.
"You're alright, fairy girl." She nods approvingly.
The path curves ahead, and beyond the curve is a fork in the road. You'd pick it up, but you've already picked up on the concept of a path splitting in two directions.
To the right is a frozen river with a bridge connecting the path to the other side. The middle section of the bridge has seen better times, since it probably existed at some point. You think you can make out some kind of building further down the path on the other side, though you aren't entirely sure if it's a building or a weird rock formation.
The left path goes through some pretty heavy overgrowth. The snow comes to an end a short way down this path, but the dense foliage has also blocked out any light further down, turning the path into a sort of tunnel.
[ ] Take the path to the right.
- [ ] Try to jump across the broken bridge.
- [ ] Try walking across the icy river.
- [ ] Try to fly! Fly! Fly!
- [ ] Die of dysentery.
[ ] Take the path to the left.
- [ ] Try not to be eaten by a grue.
Just a heads up, the girls will continue talking about what they know as you travel. I just didn't want to have it be a big info dump in just one post.
Of the two you'd honestly rather take... the road less traveled. You'd probably just fall into the icy river if you tried to walk across, and the bridge would most likely be the same result. Putting your best foot forward, you begin to walk towards the shady tunnel with no regard for the wants of your traveling companions. You don't even turn to face them at first, but curiosity wins in the end and you decide to take a peek behind you.
Doremy grabs you with no warning and lifts you off the ground. It takes you a moment to realize she's gliding just above the path, and that Nazrin is a short ways behind her doing the same thing.
"You two can fly?"
The robed woman could apparently glide around like this too, but she had actual wings to carry her. These two though... There's no sign of a feather on either one, but they continue to zip along as if flight is no big thing.
"Of course! Flying's pretty basic for us, right?" Doremy nods, agreeing with herself. "You try too, little fairy!"
She lets you go. In a moment you slip out of her arms and speed through the air, briefly feeling as if you could spread your wings and fly up, up out of this dimly lit tunnel and off into the sky. The moment's over about as soon as it began, and you find yourself face first in the dirt. The world seems to spin around your vision for a moment until Nazrin steps up and becomes an anchor for your vision.
"What'd you do that for?" She folds her arms and glares at someone behind you. Doremy? "You just tossed her when she hasn't moved her wings an inch. Did you really think she'd be able to fly like that?"
Doremy leans over you with a nervous expression. Her eyes get wider as she tries to lift you off the ground, her shaky hands rattling you around all the while.
You look at your hands to inspect the damage. Even in the dim light of this tunnel you can see that there's not a scratch on you, and with a sigh of relief you come to your feet and take this chance to observe your surroundings.
The trees overhead block out most of the sunlight, or it may be moonlight. Honestly, you have no clue. A few rays of this light manage to break through, and some snow's also managed to make its way into the tunnel, forming in scattered piles around the road. You've already become fairly intimate with the dirt path, and further inspection just reveals a fairy-sized skid mark leading over to you.
You notice a staircase nearby, and curiosity once again gets the best of you. While the two girls continue to argue you decide to do a bit of exploring. Light beckons you from the top of the stairs towards whatever may wait up ahead, and with some effort you ascend the crimson steps, slowly but surely making your way up to whatever may lie in wait for you. As you near the top you take a quick glance back, only to find that they haven't come after you yet. Somehow, you feel let down.
At the top of the stairs is a snow covered yard and what looks to be a Shinto shrine. You walk around the weathered torii and continue towards the shrine, feeling compelled to take a look around before heading back. The shrine itself isn't as worn down as the torii, but it's probably seen better days. A donation box sits out front, and when you peer in you can see some paper money sitting at the bottom. You peek into the room past that to see a pink haired girl and a black haired girl passed out in some sort of shrine garb.
You're caught off-guard by something fuzzy landing on your head.
"It's not nice to leave without a goodbye, y'know."
Nazrin adjusts the bat girl on your head, ignoring her mumbled protests. Doremy stands behind her, a look of defeat on her face.
"Weird that there'd be a shrine here of all places." The tiny commander looks around, taking it all in. "Doesn't look like anybody really cares to maintain it, huh."
You simply nod. Something she said sounded off, but it takes you a moment to realize what it was.
"...What do you mean by 'here of all places'?", you ask.
"Ah, well!" Nazrin folds her arms and gives you a weak smile. "I dunno, it just seems like a weird place to put a shrine."
She turns around and walks over to the staircase, her tail fwipping anxiously behind her. Doremy looks at you and shrugs before following her, her tail barely noticeable with how little it sways. You pet your 'hat' with one hand and take the obvious option to form the caboose on this friendship train, reluctantly leaving the shrine behind as you pursue your traveling companions.
You once again walk around the torii and take off down the steps after those two. Upon reaching the bottom you notice that the two of them are floating again, and you feel determined to do the same. At first you try jumping, but when that doesn't seem the work you settle for clenching your fists and trying to focus really hard on something you aren't sure you can do. A new sensation sweeps over you, and turning your head to the side reveals that your wings have started to move.
They've expanded to a greater size, though they still aren't much to look at. Contented with this, you try to move around and see just how well you can navigate with these things. Doremy starts to clap as you move forward, while Nazrin simply nods her approval.
The two of them start to follow you as you float down the path, though you aren't able to move nearly as fast as they could. As the three of you fly along, your mind wanders back to the possibility that Nazrin knows more about this place than she's letting on.
"Nazrin?" She turns to look at you when you address her. "What do you know about this place?"
She once again smiles weakly as she finds the words to answer you.
"Ah, well. About as much as you do, right? How about you, dreamer, do you know anything?"
It takes Doremy a moment to realize she was being addressed. She was probably busy day dreaming, you guess. Or night dreaming. Whatever time of day it may be.
"Oh, just that a lot of people here were asleep. I don't really hang around places like this, I just followed the dreams to get here."
You take a moment to consider their stories, and while doing so try to gain some height. Sadly, you can't seem to go any higher than six inches off the ground.
[ ] Ask Nazrin to be completely transparent with you.
[ ] Ask Doremy if she could see the dreams she says she followed.
[x] Ask Nazrin to be completely transparent with you.
And then Nazrin was invisible.
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[七] Ask Nazrin to be completely transparent with you.
You're a little let down, though not literally. You just wish you could fly higher up into the sky, perhaps over the trees and directly towards the city in the distance. With this in mind, you decide to pose a question.
"So, why don't we just fly to that city?"
Doremy and Nazrin exchange glances before shaking their heads.
"I've tried to get higher up than this." Nazrin sighs. "I guess it's because of a god's curse we can't fly."
"God's curse? Does that have something to do with this place?"
Nazrin's eyes focus ahead for a moment. She lowers her eyebrows in anger and brings a hand to her eyes, at first covering them but then grabbing at the bridge of her nose. Her eyes roll up to look at the trees as she continues.
"Okay, it does. I guess I know something else." She releases her grip on her nose and glances at you as she continues. "I've been here before, and I heard through the grapevine that a god cursed this land some number of years ago."
You notice that Doremy's also watching Nazrin, apparently just as interested as you are. The two of you exchange looks for a moment before focusing your gazes back on her. For a short while you three continue gliding over the path, silently waiting for Nazrin to continue.
"...That's all I know, really." She shrugs, and her ears seem to droop as her shoulders rise. "I'd just blame everything that seems wrong on that god's curse, personally. Sleeping people, inability to fly, tons of snow... All of it."
"That's a pretty convenient excuse." Doremy smiles. "It's nice to be able to blame everything on just one person, isn't it?"
Nazrin nods as she begins to gain speed, seeming to purposefully distance herself from you. She folds her arms in front of her as you begin to follow a curve in the path, passing by a dead end as you go.
You begin to notice that the light between the trees has been getting dimmer and dimmer. It's only about half an hour later as the three of you happen upon a small opening that you really get a good look at the sky. The sun's nowhere to be seen, and you reason that it's probably setting on the horizon and you just can't see it because of the trees.
"Oh, what's this?"
You take your eyes off the sky and look ahead. What you can only assume is a large house sits between this path and another one that seems to lead back towards the village. Some large animals are lined up on a part of the house that juts out and has tiny doors. The house itself is made almost entirely of wood, and you can make out what seems to be a chimney coming out of the second floor.
"Mm. Conveniences abound." Nazrin walks up to an actual door and lets herself in. "It's getting dark, so I say we stop here and rest for the night."
She walks into the darkness of the strange house and Doremy follows her. You hadn't even considered how long you've been wandering around this strange place, but it's probably been some number of hours now. Even so, you don't feel the least bit tired or even groggy. Pushing these thoughts aside, you decide to follow the other girls into the house.
The home's interior is much nicer than the houses you saw back in that village. The walls are lined with shelves, and various items are arranged neatly on them. A long counter divides the room, and a strange man with tiny horns rests on it. Nazrin and Doremy walk through a gap in the counter and pass behind the man, finding their way into the very back of the house. You're quick to follow them, only taking a short moment to consider if the strange man will wake up and get angry.
Some large pictures line the walls of the even larger room you now find yourself in. A fireplace is built into the wall on one side of the room, and a very long chair sits across from it. The only other furniture in the room is a table behind the long chair, some baskets filled with odds and ends, and a few shelves and cabinets which line the walls.
There's a few doors which you assume lead to other parts of the house, and there's also a Nazrin over near the fireplace. She's already taken a few logs from a basket near the fireplace and has gotten busy twirling sticks over them.
"What are you doing?" You tilt your head to one side as you watch her. You know what she's trying to do, but you'd still like to hear her explain herself.
"Trying to start a fire. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling pretty chilly after all that gliding." She snaps the twigs as she speaks. "Great..."
She huffs as she rises to her feet and wanders over to the log basket. You're suddenly reminded of the fire you lit earlier and, while her back is turned, you decide to do the same to this pitiful pile of logs. She's quick to turn around, a look of shock on her face.
"What? You managed to get it going?"
All you can offer her is a shrug. You honestly have no idea how you're able to do that, just that it's a thing you're able to do. Nazrin looks you once over and turns away with a shrug, appearing to dismiss it. She quickly walks over to one of the doors you didn't come in through and brings Doremy back with her. The two of them sit by the fire and you decide to join them, even if you get nothing out of it.
"This is a pretty nice place, huh?" Nazrin leans back on her arms, eyeing the ceiling. "Not as nice as home, but for a midpoint in the middle of nowhere it's alright."
"Well, isn't this where the big man on the counter lives?" Doremy nervously peeks around you, as if that man will suddenly appear in the doorway. "As nice as it is, I think we're breaking and entering. And, uh, stealing his firewood?"
Nazrin lets out a small laugh.
"I think a few missing logs and maybe some food will be the least of his concerns when he wakes up."
"Still, doesn't it feel wrong? Doesn't it feel like we should at least pay for what we use?"
"Sure, do you have any money?"
"...No. I was hoping you would."
Doremy sulks while Nazrin beams. You're content just to listen to them for now, if for no other reason to learn more about them. They're acting pretty chummy for two people who had never even met before. Just as you're thinking that, Nazrin stands up and walks over to one of the other doors.
"I'm gonna go ahead and turn in. The door'll be locked, so if you wake up before me just knock."
So much for acting chummy, you guess. She retreats to the room and closes the door behind her, a small click following soon after. Doremy stands up and follows her, entering the room next to hers. She stops in the doorway and looks back at you, smiling faintly.
"I think it's about time for me to turn in, too. If you check around upstairs you'll probably find another bedroom. Good night, little fairy." She reaches to close the door but stops herself. "Have sweet dreams!"
She retreats behind her own door, though you don't hear a click when she shuts hers. You'd follow Doremy's advice and go find a room of your own, but you still aren't feeling the least bit tired. You take a seat on the long chair and try to doze off, but after what feels like an hour of trying you're still wide awake.
[ ] Keep trying to fall asleep here.
[ ] Go find a room of your own to sleep in.
[ ] Explore the rest of this strange house.
The update is on the way, I've just been having a little trouble writing it and dedicating time to writing it. Hopefully I'll have it posted tonight, so please wait warmly.
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[五] Explore the rest of this strange house.
Fed up with waiting for rest that will never come, you decide to get up and go exploring. Your little companion nearly falls off your head as you stand, but you're quick to steady her in her place.
"Stop tickling me~."
She wiggles her wings, lightly brushing the sides of your head as she does. You lightly stroke the top of her head. She continues wiggling her wings as you do this, letting out small protests while you walk towards the doorway which leads back to the house's main room.
You timidly peek around the doorway, as if the big man will suddenly be up and wondering why you broke into his house. Thankfully he's not, though you still plan an escape route in case he somehow did wake up any time soon. Without the other two to follow after, you stop for a moment and consider your surroundings.
The shelves are just as you left them earlier, still lined with various odds and ends that you're sure must be great for travelers. With that in mind you decide that this must be a shop of sorts, which means you should probably do a little window shopping while you're here! You take a quick stock of various items that line the shelves, including but not limited to: cloth bandages, some shiny powder in clear bags, preserved foods, and some articles of clothing. Convincing yourself that it's not burglary, you set some of the items aside for you and your traveling party.
As you continue looking around you notice something you overlooked earlier. A gap in the shelves opens up to a hallway. While entering you notice a staircase on the immediate right, two doors to your left, a door at the end of the hallway, and another hallway past the staircase. You peek into the doors starting from the left and find a toilet room, a kitchen, and a room full of cleaning supplies. The other hallway only has two doors, neither of which opens for you. Giving up on that, you turn to the staircase and decide to explore the floor above you.
The upper floor is even less interesting than the ground floor. Just room after room with the same furniture. A bed in the center of the back wall with a shelf on one side, a basket for trash on the other, and a large cabinet beside each door. A few rooms have some people sleeping in them, though none of them are especially interesting. Just a bunch of sleepy people like you've encountered elsewhere, with the only interesting thing being that some of them have wings while others just seem like regular people.
Not content to waste any more time up there, you quickly descend the staircase and take a left into the main room. The supplies you'd set aside are still on a shelf, but you're quick to move them to the far end of the counter the big man is resting on. It should be much easier to remember them this way, you reason. Just as you finish moving the supplies, something catches your eye.
The big man has a little book tucked under one of his huge arms. Something about the book seems to call out to you, practically begging you to get it and start reading it. With some caution you manage to slip the book out from under the man's arm. With one swift motion you open it up and turn to the first page.
Numbers that you assume must be a date line the top of the page, with words sloppily written in beneath them. Your interest piqued, you decide to flip through and look at some of what he's written down.
XXXXth year 1st month 15th day
Five customers staying the night tonight, at closing made a decent amount in sales.
Talk of fighting lately. Human population lashing out, might harm business.
Whoever this guy is, he really likes to keep it simple. Most of the entries are similar to that one, though a few different ones stand out.
XXXXth year 2nd month 9th day
Eight customers staying the night tonight, very busy. Lots of money in sales today.
The fighting's clamed down lately, should be good for business. Here's to another year of strained relations.
XXXXth year 2nd month 25th day
Two customers staying the night tonight. Poor sales all day.
City people asking to build near here, mentioned resuming road construction. Fine by me, more roads means more business.
XXXXth year 3rd month 19th day
Four customers staying the night tonight. Surprisingly good sales today.
Remember to sign off on paperwork from city people. Business is good.
XXXXth year 4th month 8th day
One customer staying the night tonight. Decent sales today.
Human unrest apparently on the rise, might be bad for business. City people should be by soon enough.
XXXXth year 7th month 18th day
No customers staying the night tonight. Below average sales today.
Bad moods all around lately. Outsiders causing trouble, people talking bad about their leaders. Might be bad for business?
XXXXth year 11th month 9th day
No customers staying the night tonight. No sales today.
No word from the city people or humans. Feeling sleepy lately.
XXXXth year 11th month 10th day
Five customers staying the night tonight. Low sales today.
Everyone that comes by is sleepy. Each day seems shorter. Still no word from the city people.
The entries stop there, much to your relief. You aren't sure how much more of that guy's writing you could take. Once again trying your best to be gentle, you return the book to its place underneath the man's arm. He shifts in place and grumbles before returning to his docile state.
You move to return to the room with the long chair and fireplace, only to be met with two confused looking girls. After staring blankly at them for a moment you realize that it's Nazrin and Doremy.
"Have you been up all night or something?" Nazrin cocks her head to one side while looking you over. "I didn't sleep long, but I expected you to be out of it like this one here."
She gestures to Doremy, who looks less than pleased to be here. She rubs at her eyes, hugging a pillow she probably swindled from the room she slept in.
As you look at them you can't help but wonder just how long you were running around here. It didn't seem like much time at all, though it could've been hours for all you know. Time flies when you're exploring a weird house full of sleepy travelers, apparently.
"Anyway, let's get going. I gotta find something to take home with me, and you two have to..." Nazrin trails off, narrowing her eyes as she looks between you and Doremy. "Right, you two wanted to find out why all these people are sleeping."
Doremy simply nods in response, and you decide to do the same. It's better to keep your mouth shut than open it and sound like a fool, after all.
Nazrin pushes past you, making her way towards the items you had set out. She takes a moment to pick each one up and inspect it, opening packages and emptying them into small sacks she had kept hidden somewhere. You see her apparently setting each one down, though some unknown force snatches each of the satchels away before you know what happened.
"There." The last of the little sacks stuffed and vanished, Nazrin nods as she turns to you. "You set some supplies out for us, right? Thanks."
She walks over to you and tousles your hair a bit before continuing.
"We don't need that much though, so I had some of my subordinates carry what we could use for us."
It's then that you notice a line of mice with small bags running into a hole in the wall. Something about this strikes you as fairytale-esque, though you're not about to dwell on it rather than more important matters. Nazrin turns as she finishes talking and makes a line for the door, Doremy in tow. The baku girl shrugs as she follows the little commander, nearly dropping her pillow mid-shrug.
You follow after the two of them, leaving behind the cozy house and returning to the snowy outdoors. The snow continues to fall from above, much like it did yesterday. The sun is barely visible at this hour, just barely peeking over the horizon.
Your companions don't seem to pay this much mind as they start to levitate. You follow suit, doing your absolute best to rise off the ground like they do. As the three of you glide away from the strange house you wave your goodbye, a little sad that you left the place behind without completely exploring it.
The road is quick to expand, nearly doubling in size not long after you've made some distance. This initially strikes you as odd until you see what lies ahead.
Buildings of various sizes fill your view, lining the left side of the road and also rising up in the distance. It seems like you've reached the city sooner than expected, but also that the city you saw was the highest point. Wherever you are now is still pretty far off from the city and mountain that've been sitting on the horizon, though you're not about to let something like that get you down.
Your two companions also appear to be taking in the sights, though Nazrin seems a little more into it than Doremy is. With her eyes half shut and her expression still groggy, Doremy holds one hand to her face and lets out a loud yawn. Nazrin swivels her head to look at her, not at all amused.
"That's infectious, you know." Doremy merely shrugs at this, not saying a word. "What do baku even dream of, anyway?"
"Well, at first I was dreaming of eating other peoples dreams. That's until I realized I was asleep, and then started dreaming about eating my own dream. It started looping on itself at that point, with the dream-me having a dream about eating her dream and her dream-self doing the same unti-"
"Nevermind, forget I asked."
Doremy grins smugly at that, apparently more than happy to stop. You can't help but wonder if she just wanted to make Nazrin be quiet again, maybe so she could dream while flying. Just as you think that she cradles the pillow against her head, her eyes nearly shut as she continues to glide along.
The three of you begin to slow down as you come upon a crossroads. There's a road to the right, which leads to a lot of trees with what you recognize as roofs peeking out from above them. The road to your left leads towards a lot of smaller houses, with some trees and what appear to be a few crystalline trees mixed into the landscape. Finally, the path straight ahead leads through a bunch of trees and looks to rise up further down, the road expanding as it ascends.
[ ] Take the right path.
[ ] Take the left path.
[ ] Take the center path.
I'm really sorry for taking as long as I have to make this update. A number of factors, including sickness, sudden increase in work hours, and difficulty writing certain parts of the update held me back.
The update isn't everything I had wanted it to be, but it's more important to me to go ahead and post it and let the story continue.
Once again, I'm very sorry for the delay. I hope this won't put anyone off continuing this story, and if it's wanted I'll be more vocal about any delays in the future.
Also, this isn't going to be a regular thing. It's just one little hiccup in what should be a pretty regular update schedule.
Just posting to apologize for the delay and lack of communication. Unfortunately I'll have to put this and my other story onto sporadic update schedules for a while, since I have a good bit more hours at work now on top of needing to devote time to things like expensive dental work and planning for a cross-country move. Hopefully I can get back to updating these stories at a better pace in the future, but for now there's no promises.