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Lessa

[PP - F5] And the Sky with No Clouds

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Armadillo  Closed to Arc

Relief and cool air both washed over her as Lessa stepped into the small shop. She let the door slam closed behind her, her hands already at work wiping at the fine grains of sand that had lodged themselves in her loose-fitting yellow blouse. Or, at least, it had been loose-fitting, until a layer of sweat had plastered it to her skin. She tugged uncomfortably at the garment, giving a small sigh of disgust as she took a few steps deeper into the shop. It was empty, she realized as her eyes adjusted to the dim lighting, save for one individual. He was a player, like herself, though slightly taller and much thinner. The willowy man slightly resembled a skeleton, she mused silently. How did he get away with having such pale skin in a desert? He was dressed entirely in black, after all. And his head of raven hair was not sweat-drenched, as hers was. I should ask him his secret, came a sudden notion, to surviving this place.

As if recognizing he occupied her thoughts, the shop keep offered a thin-lipped smile. "Hello," he greeted her in a voice that hardly filled even the tiny space. "Is there something you're looking to buy?"

A quick glance around revealed rows of bottles, varying in shape, size, and color. They ranged from squat, round jugs of brownish liquid to tall, ornately decorated vases that appeared to shimmer slightly. It seemed the woman had wandered into an alchemist's lair. Explains the guy's weird get-up. Typical potions-lover. He did look a bit like Snape, come to think of it. "No," she answered finally, shaking her head to emphasize the word, and wincing as bits of sand shifted loose.

The man's expression dulled from expectant to disinterested, lips pursing a bit as he replied, "then what is it I can help you with?"

"Directions. I am looking for a place to do a bit of training. I was hoping you might have some ideas for me. Perhaps you have heard of a suitable spot?" Considering he did not look much like the type to be swinging a sword under the hot sun.

The man's bony shoulders rose and fell with a sigh, but with it, he asked, "what are your needs?"

"Oh, nothing too extravagant. Secluded, if possible. Maybe a building, so I can get out of the sun for a bit. And out of the sand." As if to drive the point home, she added, "the less sand, the better."

Now, the other player's face was ripe with annoyance. "You dislike sand, yet you came to the desert floor?"

It was Lessa's turn to shrug. "I wanted something new."

Edited by Lessa

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An alchemist on the same floor with his tailor shop made perfect sense for doing business. It was a short walk, almost in the same vein as his own establishment; but for that simplicity, when he walked in it seemed that the shopkeeper's wares were just about as simple. If he kept them all in his inventory, how would he get people to browse his wares? Or was it that he planned to make his potions to order? That seemed like a plan that tended to backfire. If Alchemy was anything like Tailoring, there was a chance that he would take several days to fill an order.

He saw the proprietor in a somewhat heated conversation- at least on one end- with a blonde haired woman who seemed somewhat familiar from behind. "Don't think I'm gonna find what I'm looking for in here," he muttered, but Arc strode forward as the two players continued. You dislike sand, but you came to a desert floor? He glimpsed toward the woman as he came to her side, and he knew her instantly. "Lessa," he gave her username with a half smile as he offered the woman a wave. "Hey, it's Arc, remember? You made this sword for me."

The mercenary gestured toward the blade on his back. "Couldn't help overhearing you, but I heard you were searching for some training grounds? Floor five is almost totally desert, but there are a few gems that might pique your interest." He swiped open the menu on his HUD and toggled the map. He pulled the data into a trade window and offered it to Lessa with a grin. "Here, here, and here," he pointed, "these are regular dungeons on the floor that are either subterranean or oasis based palaces. The Sultanate that runs the floor has a few unsavory political opponents, and they make for interesting flavor quests, if you're looking for that sort of thing."

Arc scratched his head and glanced toward the alchemist with an apologetic smile. The man seemed less than personable, but that was his prerogative. When he glanced back to Lessa, the dark haired and green eyed man added, "the further you get from Armadillo, the more dangerous the mobs get in the respective dungeons. There are assassins and thieves in the den to the southwest, and they have some shifty moves. Hard to hit, and all that."

He stopped and considered. "I dealt with an information broker a while back who said something about a secret dungeon, if you're skilled at finding things like that." He folded his arms and shook his head. "I'm afraid I'm not, but the data is consistent with some Egyptian mythology, about the god of disasters, Set." He glanced toward the entrance, then lowered his voice. "Something about the constant sandstorms being caused by his wrath, and the naturally occurring river that brings life being stalled as a result."

His eyes rolled. "But they're just rumors, right?"

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Taken aback, but not wishing to appear rude, Lessa offered the man a smile. "Arc, hello," she heard herself greet, as her mind raced to place him. She had forged many swords, and met many men in her years in the game. In the dim light, her gaze swept his face until the first inklings of remembrance surfaced. She had first met him under a streetlamp, snow glistening in the ring of light. They had met for drinks once, and trained once, and then parted way. He had grown considerably since then, she concluded, though not in physical size. His knowledge of the training locations, the quality of his gear, and the confidence with which he presented himself suggested she had not been the only one to change in the past six months.

He continued to speak of destinations, and she followed along using the data he had provided. The floor was more than sand and beasts, she thought with some approval, and Arc knew his way around. Perhaps she would benefit from leaving her favorite floors, and doing a bit of research elsewhere. New experiences,she reflected, that's why I'm here.

She was fascinated by the scraps of information he offered her, content to follow any of the plans he proposed. That was, until he spoke of Set. "Sandstorms?" she echoed, face falling. "I don't care much for sand."

"So you've told us," quipped the alchemist, voice as dry as the floor itself. When she scowled at him, he simply looked back, expressionless. He did not move from his post, even after it was clear that neither she nor Arc would be purchasing anything. She half-wondered if he feared she would steal something.

When she turned back to Arc, her smile had returned. "But," she continued, "I have always been a sucker for some good mythology. And in my experience, rumors in this game either hold some truth, or hide something even more interesting. I would be willing to check it out."

Edited by Lessa

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"I literally just told you," Arc laughed, "it's considered to be one of the primary causes of the Sandstorm. You'd be looking for a way to get it calmed down." He scratched his head, then shrugged. "Of course, it's only a suggestion. There are plenty of other places on the floor to fight and get stronger, and some of them probably have a much smaller degree of difficulty than one that I just picked up off the rumor mill."

The Shopkeep seemed ready to scream at both of them, but Arc murmured a few words and haggled with the man over prices. It wasn't enough to be worthy of proper note, but Lessa might notice a order of health potions for players who's names the mercenary listed off. The other man scribbled them down hastily and accepted a payment of Col, which Arc readily handed over with a smile.

"That's what you ought to do, then," Arc replied evenly after she finished telling him about some of her experience in the game. "If there's any truth to it, you'll want to head due southwest from here, over the long desert. If you're lucky, you'll find it before nightfall, and then you'll be looking at a good night of killing mobs- possibly even well into the morning. There's no telling what you'll find, but you're a high enough level that none of it should pose a very great threat to you."

Arc offered the woman a toothless smile, eyes closed and head tilted. "Consider it thanks for your help, back when I was still a beginner."

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The boy turned from her to talk shop with the owner, and Lessa opted to give them their privacy. There had been a reason why Arc entered the shop, after all, and she simply occupied herself with the data he had shared until he was finished. It was only then that she addressed some of the comments the dark-haired player had made. "Set sounds interesting," she assured him. "And as unbelievable as it sounds, he won't be my first mythological god." The memory brought a creeping smile to her lips, but she figured that would be a story for another day. Instead, she moved to the discussion of difficulty.

"High enough level," she echoed, shaking her head defiantly, "that may be. But it has been a while since I've trained. I'm pretty rusty." By that point, Lessa had decided that Set was her best bet, sandstorms or no. Arc had piqued her interest, and the parallels she had drawn between his Set and her Orochi certainly did not hurt matters. As such, she flashed him a smile, and added, "but I can't say that you've rusted at all. In fact, looks like you've come a long way. Good for you." Just as Baldur had grown stronger, so had Arc. They had worked hard, she was certain of it, and their efforts had paid off. She found the fact quite encouraging. See, she thought with some amusement. They don't need you after all.

"In fact," she continued, hands moving to her hips as she eyed the taller boy. "If you've got nothing better to do, you're welcome to join. I'd planned on training alone, but I wouldn't mind catching up. And frankly, I'm garbage with directions, and I'm not up for getting lost in the desert."

Edited by Lessa

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"Well, I can say that I've been busy without it being too much of a lie," he joked lightly. There was an over abundance of truth in that, too. Arc had begun to wear his obsession with getting stronger on his sleeve in social outings, so much that he rarely made time for fun. That had become less true in recent times than in the span since he last saw Lessa, since he had met at least one person he wanted to spend as much time as he could with. Still, the warrior threw himself into his training at every chance.

"You still look as strong as I remember," he told her. "And you're as kind as ever. I'd love to go with you, ma'am." He doubted sincerely that she needed any help with the enemies that they would face, but if he could be of some relative use then he would at least try. He placed a hand on the woman's shoulder and offered her a sincere smile. "I'll try not to hold you back, if I can help it," he told her. "And if I can be of any use to you, then I will."

Arc banished the sword from his back and Repeat Offender appeared in his hand. He gripped the spear tightly and showed it to her. "I'll take the lead, then, and see if I can't find us a quest out in the gods forsaken desert." He slung the weapon across his shoulder and headed for the door, pausing only to open up the menu and send an invite her way.

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"Ma'am?" she echoed, feigning insult as she shrugged his hand away. But she could not keep the act going for long, and a grin finally split her chapped lips. "I can't be that much older than you. And I don't think I've ever been called ma'am." Her eyes, as blue as the cloudless sky that sprawled above them, were wide and laughing. She clapped him on the arm, only then noticing the weapon he carried. Humor waned into surprise.

"Spear, huh?" she inquired, her head tilting just a bit as she gave it a once-over. "I don't remember you being the Balsa-type." Instantly recognizing that he probably would not get the reference, she added, "I thought you were a sword guy." Then, "right? Didn't you have a sword?" Without shifting her gaze, Lessa accepted the man's party invite, and followed him into the heat of the desert.

"God forsaken is right," she quipped, wondering how she already managed to have fine specks of dust in her mouth having only left the shop a moment prior. Trying to ignore the sensation of grit in her teeth, after trying and failing to discretely spit it out, the blonde fell into step beside the other player. "So," she began after a moment, "what have you been up to?" She hooked her thumbs in the back pockets of her jeans as she walked. "It's been, what, half a year since I last ran into you?"

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Spoiler

STATS
LEVEL - 69
HP - 1410
EN - 138
DMG - 20
MIT - 79
ACC - 3
EVA - 4
FALLEN - 12
HOLY - 6
LD - 5
STEALTH DETECTION - 5
HOLY BLESSING - 24
BATTLE HEALING - 64
PHASE

HOME BUFFS
» WELL RESTED
      -1 EN FOR THE FIRST THREE TURNS OF COMBAT
» RELAXED
      +15 TO OUT OF COMBAT HP REGENERATION
      FULL ENERGY REGENERATION AFTER TWO POSTS OUT OF COMBAT
» SQUEAKY CLEAN
      REDUCE INCOMING DOT DAMAGE BY 25% FOR FIRST INCOMING DOT INFLICTED IN THREAD
» FILLING
      INCREASE EFFECTIVENESS OF A SINGLE CONSUMED FOOD ITEM IN A THREAD BY +1 T1 SLOT
» ITEM STASH
      +1 BATTLE-READY INVENTORY SLOT
» DELICIOUS
      COMBINE 3 IDENTICAL FOOD ITEMS INTO A FEAST ONCE PER THREAD
» SKYLIGHT SEARCHING
      SEARCHING EXPERTISE INCREASED BY 1
» ANGLER
      +1 MATERIAL GAINED WHILE FISHING
» MULTIPURPOSE
      GAIN +1 TO LD, STEALTH RATING, STEALTH DETECTION, OR PROSPERITY TO ONE POST IN A THREAD
      CAN BE APPLIED AFTER THE ROLL
» DECOR: <<SPOOKY AMENITY>>
      REDUCE INCOMING DOT DAMAGE BY 5% FOR FIRST INCOMING DOT INFLICTED IN THREAD
» KAMATETSU STATUE
      +1 DMG

SKILLS

NON-COMBAT SKILLS
» EXTENDED MOD LIMIT R3 
     
 PASSIVE
      ALLOWS FOR THE USE OF ONE 3 ADDITIONAL MODS
» 
SEARCHING R4 >>> R5 WITH SKYLIGHT BUFF
     
 PASSIVE
      +5 LD
      +5 STEALTH DETECTION

COMBAT SKILLS
» PARRY
     
 POST ACTION
      REDUCE FINAL DAMAGE OF NEXT ATTACK AGAINST YOU BY 50% (ROUNDED DOWN) AND NEGATES STUN/PARALYSIS EFFECT OF THAT ATTACK
           COOLDOWN: 2 TURNS
» BATTLE HEALING R5
     
 PASSIVE
      WHILE IN COMBAT, USER HEALS FOR 5% (68 HP) OF THEIRMAX HP EACH TURN
» 
ENERGIZE
     
 POST ACTION
      RESTORE 8 ENERGY TO TARGET PARTY MEMBER. CANNOT TARGET USER.

EXTRA SKILLS
» DISGUISE
     
 FREE ACTION
      +1 EVA UNTIL START OF YOUR NEXT TURN
           COOLDOWN: 3 TURNS
» 
MEDITATION
     
 POST ACTION
      RECOVER AN ADDITIONAL 15 ENERGY - GETTING HIT BY AN ATTACK BEFORE YOUR NEXT TURN REDUCES ADDITIONAL ENERGY RECOVERY TO 9
           COOLDOWN: 3 TURNS

WEAPON SKILLS
» TWO-HANDED STRAIGHT SWORD R5
     
 +7 DMG WHEN TWO-HANDED WEAPON IS EQUIPPED

ARMOR SKILLS
» LIGHT ARMOR R5
     
 +25 MIT

MODS
» LIGHT ARMOR MOD: ATHLETICS
     
 PASSIVE
      +1 DMG WHEN WEARING LIGHT ARMOR
      +30 HP WHEN WEARING LIGHT ARMOR
»
 LIGHT ARMOR MOD: SPRINT & ACROBATICS
     
 PASSIVE
      +1 EVA WHEN WEARING LIGHT ARMOR
»
 PARRY MOD: JUSTIFIED RIPOSTE
     
 POST ACTION: COMBINE WITH PARRY
      SUCCESSFUL PARRY STUNS OPPONENT
           COOLDOWN: 3 TURNS
»
 WEAPON MOD: PRECISION
     
 PASSIVE
      +1 ACC
»
 WEAPON MOD: TWO-HANDED STRAIGHT SWORD FEROCITY
     
 PASSIVE
     ➥ +1 DMG WHEN USING 2HSS SWORD ARTS
» WEAPON MOD: TWO-HANDED STRAIGHT SWORD FINESSE R3
     
 PASSIVE
      REDUCES THE EN COST OF TWO-HANDED STRAIGHT SWORD SWORD ARTS BY 3
» BATTLE HEALING MOD: EMERGENCY RECOVERY
     
 PASSIVE
      WHEN PLAYER WOULD SUFFER NON-LETHAL DAMAGE THAT PUTS THEM BELOW 25% HP, HEAL 10% HP AFTER THE ATTACK RESOLVES
      CAN ONLY OCCUR ONCE PER THREAD
»
 HYPERACTIVE
     
 POST ACTION
      INCREASE PASSIVE ENERGY RECOVERY OF PARTY MEMBER BY 3 FOR 3 TURNS. CAN TARGET USER.


EQUIPMENT

WEAPON
» [EQUIPPED] "DAWN'S DEMISE" - TWO-HANDED STRAIGHT SWORD (T3 - DEMONIC)
     ➥ FALLEN 2
           +12 TO BASE DAMAGE ON NATURAL ROLLS OF 6-8
     ➥ HOLY
           +6 TO BASE DAMAGE ON NATURAL ROLLS OF 9 OR HIGHER
     ➥ PHASE
           IGNORES 50% OF MIT ON NATURAL ROLLS OF 9 OR HIGHER

ARMOR
» [EQUIPPED] "BLOODSTAINED COAT" - LIGHT ARMOR (T3 - DEMONIC)
      +54 MIT
      +1 EVA
      HOLY BLESSING
           AFTER TAKING DAMAGE, USER HEALS 24 HP AT THE BEGINNING OF THE FOLLOWING TURN

TRINKET
» [EQUIPPED] "EAGLE'S EYE" - TRINKET (T1 - DEMONIC)
      +2 EVA
      +2 ACC

FAMILIAR
» [EQUIPPED] SWINE BAJESUS R3
     ➥ +9 DMG

Floor Five was one of Bahr's least favorite floors.

There were other hot ones. Sure. But there was something about a red jacket in the sweltering sun that just made everything worse. Rather than raw heat, things actually became physically hot to the touch. It wasn't the same as the sort of heat that radiates from magma or other heated surfaces. This heat was direct and piercing. Through a little sand in his boots, and you had all the makings of an irritated Bahr. The only good thing about this godforsaken desert were the watering holes. Bahr had made a pretty penny on more than one occasion simply by tracking down bounties at the saloons - while getting a drink in between.

But despite his chagrin with the floor and its environment, all of that melted away when he laid eyes on a familiar golden mane that captured the unrelenting sunlight with a blinding glow. He picked up his pace a bit, only noticing once he neared that she was talking to someone else. A bit younger, from the looks of it. Spear user. Bahr hated to interrupt, but he actually didn't. He slid right in next to Lessa, wrapped an arm around her waist, and ignored the burning sensation her hot clothing left on his fingers.

"Well hey there, beautiful," he chirped, planting a kiss against the side of her head. Then, he looked at the boy. "Hey there. Name's Bahr. You mind if I steal my girlfriend for a bit?"

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Spoiler

Basics
Level: 50
Health: 1045
Energy: 100
DMG: 22
MIT: 116
ACC: 5
EVA: 2
THNS: 54
HM: 3

  Skills/Mods   
R5 2HSS
R5 Heavy Armor
Howl
R3 MIT Familiar
Survival
Precision
Ferocity
Athletics
Fishing

Equipment
Arcturus (DMG/DMG/DMG)
Neutron Star Necklace (ACC/ACC/REC)
Galaxy Armor (THRN/THRN/HM)

Inventory
Transportation Crystal

Housing Buffs
Rested: -1 energy cost for the first
two expenditures of each combat.
Relaxed: Increases out of combat HP regen
by (5 * Tier HP) and decreases full energy regen
to 2 Out of Combat Posts.
Clean: The first time you would suffer DoT
damage in a thread, reduce damage taken from DoT
each turn by 20% (rounded down).
Col Stash: +5% bonus col from monster
kills and treasure chests.
Multipurpose: Gain +1 to LD, Stealth Rating,
  Stealth Detection, or Prosperity to one post in a thread.
Can be applied after a roll.

Turning to toss her mop of hair over her shoulder, Lessa caught the blinding, shifting light on the horizon. The unmistakable red glow told her all she needed to know, though for a moment, she wondered if the sight was a mirage. Only when he’d approached, and she caught the faint lines of annoyance, did she knew he was her Bahr. Who else shares her complete and utter hatred for the fifth floor?

Without even thinking, she leaned into him as his arm came around her waist. Then she winced, hissing sharply through her teeth, as his molten hot jacket scalded her bare skin. At least the kiss he left on her temple helped soothe the burn.

“Hi you,” she answered. “Bahr, this is Arc, a friend of mine.” As Bahr had introduced himself and saved Lessa the trouble, she simply gave Arc a quick wave, a fast smile. “We’ll pick this up again later, alright? It was really fantastic talking with you.” Then she turned Bahr, led him off in a different direction.

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"Fancy meeting you here," Bahr mused as he clung to her hip, ignoring the way their close proximity somehow made things even hotter. Though, once you get past 110 degrees, does it really even matter? "I was going to hit a few of the saloons around here and go bounty hunting, but now that I've bumped into you, I think it's time for a change of plans." They continued to meander through the streets, slowly approaching the gates at the peripherals of the settlement. Wind whipped at thier faces, sand kicked up and dragged against their skin, and the sun. The fucking sun. Sweltering was an understatement. This must have been what Mercury felt like.

"I know a cool reptile we can fight. Just sorta sloshes all over the place with wild abandon. It's got some neat drops - even if they are T2. I think it could be fun. You in?" He turned his head toward hers, waggled his brows, then added. "It would be so hot."

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"So hot," she echoed, rolling her eyes so hard it was a wonder they didn't pop out of her head. Though she gave him a quick squeeze, she also made a sharp tsk sound. "How can you make puns at a time like this? I'm absolutely roasting. I'd be walking around in my underwear if I actually thought it would help. When it's a gazillion degrees out, I don't think it actually matters." NPCs milled about, apparently unfazed by the unlivable conditions. How did they survive? How did they not simply catch fire? And what a cruel world, requiring that those poor individuals be trapped on the god forsaken floor? That Kayaba guy was a real bastard.

"Hit saloons? Do some bounty hunting? Why would you want to spend any more time on this floor than you have to?" She glanced up at him, shook her head. "You're totally crazy. But sure, I'm up for fighting that boss. When we've killed it, we can go make snow angels on floor four."

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Bahr grinned as Lessa complained about the heat. It wasn't that she was wrong about any of it, only that Bahr was having a really good time imagining her in nothing but her underwear. Almost gave the floor somewhat of a beach vibe. Or, at the very least, Sexy Pakistan. 

"Look," he countered. "The beer is decent, and I've gotten some pretty sweet gigs on this floor. One paid over 20,000 col. If you want a get rich quick scheme, I'm not the man with the answers. But, at the very least, you can get paid to drink beer while occasionally being tasked with killing a scorpion or something." He then shifted his weight a bit, the shared heat of their bodies and the unrelenting sun finally becoming a bit much for him. As they separated, he pointed at a dilapidated husk of an arena on the horizon. 

"Dude's in there," he informed her. "Ever play League? Looks exactly like Renekton. The resemblance is uncanny."

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“Beer tasted like ass in the real world,” Lessa pointed out. “I have a feeling it won’t taste any better inside SAO, and without the getting drunk element, why even bother with it?” As the statement made her sound like something of an alcoholic out of game, she scrunched up her face, stated, “I’d much rather have an ice cold pop any day of the week.”

She was left with mixed emotions when the man finally drew away from her. On one hand, she was disappointed to lose that physical link to him. On the other, the blessed breeze cooled the spaces gone toasty with their body heat. Minimally cooler, Lessa shoved her damp tendrils of hair back from her sweaty face. The sand reflected the sun back with the efficiency of a giant mirror, forcing Lessa to squint against the glare. “Never played League,” she informed him. “I was a first person shooter type. So I’ll just follow your lead.”

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Bahr nodded as Lessa informed him that she would be taking his lead. In the end, all that really meant was that Bahr would be attacking first, but he didn't mind. He knew that the creature had low stats, and Lessa attacking second would afford her the opportunity to get the last hit and glean the rewards. Having already completed the quest ages ago, Bahr was more than happy to watch Lessa reap the rewards. 

Or, at least he was, until an impromptu Fallen proc utterly nuked the unaware reptile and sent it scattering into countless polygonal shards. 

"I, um..." Bahr craned his head and peered meekly at his companion. "I... remembered it being stronger. My bad."

There were worse things than killing a creature in one hit. But in the famous words of an anime protagonist that shall not be named, there's nothing more boring than watching someone else play an MMO. He'd expected they'd at least both get a hit in before their shared adversary expired. 

"What, uh, what else did you have planned today?"

Spoiler

Bahr uses Galaxy Destroyer on Sando Satsu. 

ID: 156399 | BD: 7 | 32x13=416-20=396 DMG

Sando Satsu: HP: 0/350 | DMG: 100 | MIT: 20

 

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Jaw slack, eyes wide, Lessa stared at the pixels as they rained down upon her boyfriend. Her greedy, mob-hogging, boyfriend. "Woooooooooow," she drawled, lingering on the vowel sound for entirely too long. "You just killed it, all by yourself. In one go. Totally annihilated it." She strode up to him, slinging her heavy sword onto her back, as it appeared she wouldn't be needing it. Slowing to a halt beside the tall swordsman, she studied the sand where the beast had stood. "It is super dead. This was the only thing I had planned for the whole day."

Finally, she whipped around to glower up at Bahr. She wasn't really mad. At least, not a lot. But he spent so much of his time teasing her, and she'd be damned if she didn't get her jabs in from time to time. "Didn't your parents ever teach you how to share?" To emphasize the point, Lessa drilled her finger into his chest.

Then she gave a quick whimper of pain, and shoved the injured digit into her mouth. "Hot," she murmured around it. "Your jacket. It's hot."

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Bahr cracked a wry grin at the conclusion of her chiding. "It's alright, Ace. I'm your boyfriend. You can say I'm hot. Don't need to blame it on my jacket." Upon the revelation that both of their days were now clear, Bahr had an impromptu epiphany. It seemed a bit slimy to recruit his girlfriend for physical labor, but she was a big girl. Raised around horses, she was probably better suited for the work than he was. 

"Seeing as your day is free, I have an idea for how to fill it," he began, grabbing her hand in his before she could protest. In his other hand, he gripped a Teleport Crystal. "Telepor, Silver Enclave." And just like that, they both disappeared in a ribbon of light. 

They rematerialized on Bahr's newly acquired island, greeted by salty wind, soothing sun, and sand. So much sand. And an assload of trees and brush up ahead, where the beach ended and the vegetation began. "This," Bahr informed her, "is my new island. Freshly picked off of the market, and... in need of some serious TLC." 

With the hand not holding hers, he summoned his menu, navigated to his inventory, and summoned a hatchet."I've been chipping away at the trees and bushes little by little," he informed her. "This little thing is the only tool that works on it. Feel like getting your hands dirty?"

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Her first instinct was to argue with him, insist that wasn't what she meant, and that it was his jacket that was hot. Then she caught herself. He wasn't wrong. On that thought, Lessa snagged a quick, appreciative look at Bahr's handsome face. Nope, he definitely wasn't wrong.

Briefly, she wondered if she aught to go back to pouting, but his sudden brainstorm saved her the trouble. In a matter of seconds, he'd snagged her hand, whisked her away to... somewhere else hot. And somewhere else sandy. Why, she nearly whined, but again, stopped herself. Wait, had she heard him correctly? His island?

"You bought... an island?" Even the words felt wrong as she stuttered them out, startled surprise in every line and curve of her body. "You own it. Like, you purchased it. With col?" Stupid questions, but she simply could not wrap her head around the notion. "Sorry," she finally managed, shaking her head slowly. "It's a lovely island, Bahr, but... why? You already have your house, and my house, and the guild hall, and..."

She motioned helplessly, then let her hands fall to her sides with a heavy sigh. "It's a nice island," she stated again. "Really, it is. I guess I just wasn't expecting it. But it's cool." Lessa held out her hand, motioned for him to hand over the hatchet. "And I'll help you work on it."

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Lessa... really didn't seem thrilled. As if she thought that Bahr had made a stupid decision. It stung, a bit, but it wasn't like she was objectively wrong. Picking up an island as an impulse buy probably wasn't the smartest thing he could have done with his money. Still, he felt compelled to explain himself.

"I mean, I know all of that, but..." he began as he summoned a second hatchet and dismissed the hovering windows. "Living on the tenth floor is really shitty." It was curt, and to the point - not unlike the swing he'd just delivered to a nearby bush. "It's damp, cold, and that banshee keeps me up at all odd hours of the night. Then I finished a quest on this floor, and had a lot of time left with my day. So I took a tour." One more swing, and the bush disintegrated.

"I just ended up really liking the place. Hated the available properties, though. So when I saw this island for sale, with a promise to the buyer that - so long as they cleared enough space - they could build their own home... Well..." He cast his mismatched gaze upon his companion. And as he saw her, ax in hand, ready to help him get the island sorted out, he had a feeling he knew the real reason he'd done it. "It just seemed like a good idea."

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"Oh, alright. That makes sense. I guess I didn't realize that you were planning on leaving the tenth floor. Not that I blame you, obviously." She turned, mimicked his motions on another unsuspecting shrubbery. "You'll definitely get more sleep here, unless the banshee has a tropical sister. That would really suck."

She beamed a grin at him. "It's a good place. You're right on the water, and the beach is beautiful. I bet you're going to get some amazing sunsets here, too. And palmtrees!" She motioned to the nearest one with a quick nod of her head. "They're nice!"

The fact was, Lessa really, truly liked the property; she saw the potential, and was eager to see what Bahr could build on the space. But the smallest part of her still nagged, still prodded, reminding her that he was buying an island to escape the tenth floor. Did he not want to move in with me? Had it even crossed his mind? She watched him work for a moment, turning it over in her mind. Then she turned away, attacked another bush. "Yeah," she piped a tad too cheerfully, "I'd totally request a refund if there's another banshee here."

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Bahr kept his eyes on her, even after she'd turned away. Her tone had changed, but there was still something lingering there. Bahr would have put a little more effort into digging into that, had he not been so captivated by her. She wasn't doing anything particularly eye-catching - after all, there's nothing terribly elegant about attacking bushes. But there was something about her that made it look elegant. The way her golden mane captured the sun's rays and refracted them across the shore. Her precise movements as she struck at the shrubbery. The way every one of her curves complimented the atmosphere they found themselves in. She'd look really great in a swimsuit, he caught himself thinking.

The work could wait. Right now, all he needed was her.

So he let his hatchet fall into the sandy foliage. Made his way to her, wrapped his fingers around the hand holding her ax as she drew it back. Gently, he guided her to drop hers, and led her by the hand he still held back to the beach. He then raised their interlaced fingers, wrapped his free arm around her waist to draw her closer, and began to sway. 

"Hear the music?" he asked her. There was, of course, no actual music. "The tide's got its own tempo, like bass. The birds play the melody. And this..." He freed his fingers from hers, then placed his hand against her chest just beneath the collarbone. "Is the drum."

Then he grinned his signature goofy smirk, found her fingers with his again, and continued to sway. Enveloped by the sound of the ocean, the creatures and inhabited the island, and the steady thumping of their hearts, they maintained their waltz until the sky was stained with strokes of red.

___________________________________________

Quest completed.
Thread net gains:

Lessa
5 SP
400 col
Two-Handed Straight Sword of the Sands (T2 Perfect - DMG | DMG | Bleed)

Bahr
2 SP

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