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[PP-F4] The Quest for the Heart of Ice

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"Ah, just how I remembered it," Pinball gushed, leaning back in his chair. He was on the tenth floor, eating a delicious tray of hotcakes at McFroppy's. The restuarant was empty besides the two of them, since it was quite early in the morning. "Tsu, you're a miracle worker." The boy's praise was not unwarranted. The pancakes tasted like Pinball's childhood. He was a cook himself, but something told him that he wouldn't be able to replicate the meal to such a degree. He looked out the window, taking in the undergroun floor's scenery. Being inside the shop on this particular floor made him feel cozy. As usual, he couldn't quite place his finger on what made it feel that way. He looked over to Tsu, a sheepish smile plastered on the boy's face. "Uhh," he began, looking at his empty tray, "could I get a bit more? They're amazing.

@Froppy

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Tsu was glad to serve Pin this morning, since he couldn't get his hotcakes last time that they hung out. Pin was enjoying them, saying they were just how he remembered them. Tsu had McDonald's a lot, so it wasn't too much trouble to replicate the hotcakes there. Pin called Tsu a miracle worker, and she blushes from behind the counter. "Aww, thanks, ribbit. It's not too much trouble for me. I'm just glad that you like them, ribbit.Tsu thanked for the compliment.

Pin had finished up the hotcakes that he had, and he asked for a bit more. Tsu nodded and headed back into the kitchen. Within a minute, she came back with another tray of hotcakes. She placed the tray on Pin's table, before taking the old tray back to the kitchen. "I have 4 little brothers and sisters, so I do a lot of cooking for them, ribbit. So, anything new happen lately? Or did you just come here for breakfast, rrrrribbit?" Tsu asked, a small smile on her face when asking the last part.

@Pinball

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"Hotcakes, hotcakes, hotcakes," he chanted, his eyes on the tray that Froppy brought out to him. "Aren't you going to eat something..? I feel a bit weird eating by myself." She asked him if he had come here for the pancakes or if something had happened, and Pinball blushed. He was trying to find a kind way of telling her he had just come here for breakfast, when a notification chime interrupted him. That's strangehe thought. I don't usually get these so early in the morning. He swiped open his menu, a few taps taking him into the messenger. It was from his info broker, Sugutsuya. His message went as follows: 

To my dear Pinball, 

This information is on the house. I need you to meet with me at the Hearth and Harrow, in Snowfrost on the Fourth Floor. I wish to speak with you about the discovery of a rare item. I'm not the only one who knows about it, and people are already hunting it down. We're running out of time. Are you in or out?

Forever yours, Sugutsuya. 

He bit his lip. It wasn't like Sugutsuya to give anything away for free. "Hey, Froppy," he began, and then he had an idea. "Oi. Do you wanna come with me to the fourth floor for a bit? I have to meet up with a friend."

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Tsu found it funny the way that Pin was chanting hotcakes. It was like the way a small child would do it when getting candy or a new toy or something like that. He asked if she was going to eat something, and Tsu shook her head. "No, I already ate this morning, before you came, ribbit.Tsu answered, leaning against the counter again and watching Pin. She was about to ask Pin something else, but then his notification chime went off and he checked his messages. He looked at her and and bit his lip. Tsu thought it was something important, so she switched to a more serious mood when he said her name. Pin asked her if she wanted to come with him to the fourth floor to meet with a friend. "Sure, got nothing better to do, ribbit. I've been meaning to visit the fourth floor anyway. What going on down there, rrrrribbit?"

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"Not sure - a guy I know just messaged me. It sounds serious," he replied in-between bites of hotcakes. He was rushing to finish them so they could go. "He's at the Hearth and Harrow in Snowfrost." He wiped his mouth and stood. "I've gotta change into something warm. Hold on," he said, jogging out of the shop and finding a rock to change behind. Pinball didn't like equipping different items in front of otheres. He ran back to the shop, holding the door open to Froppy. "You should probably change, too. It's cold up there." Pinball was wearing a white jacket, and a dark grey shirt underneath. He had unequipped his armor, and had slung his spear across his back with a black strap. "He seems worried, I think?" He smiled, though his eyebrows twitched with concern. "Hope it's not anything too serious."  He typed up a quick reply as he walked, telling the broker that he'd be here soon. 

The Fourth Floor was as cold as ever, and Snowfrost, the floor's main settlement, was no exception. The small village was easy to navigate, and the two of them soon stood in front of the Hearth and Harrow. He stopped at the door, looking back to Froppy. "Uhh, I should warn you," he began, "this 'friend' of mine is a bit... eccentric? He can come off as a bit rude. Oh! And he's an info broker. Don't be surprised if he knows a bit about you." He sighed, remembering his first time talking to Sugutsuya. "He's a really responsible guy, even though he doesn't seem like it." He shook his head. "I'm rambling, sorry." Pinball opened the door. A white haired man sat alone at a table, his arms folded. Sugutsuya grinned. "Hey, Pinny-poo!" He gasped. "Oh! And Froppy! Frog girl in the flesh. I've heard a lot about that weird tongue of yours. How long is it, exactly?" He leaned forward, a sly smile on his face. "I didn't know you two were together, though." Pinball blushed. "We're not."

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Tsu was a bit curious now to see what Pin's friend wanted to see him for. His friend was at the Hearth and Harrow on the fourth floor, Tsu thought that name was familiar but she couldn't figure out where she heard it from. Pin changed into some winter clothes, and suggested that Tsu change as well. Tsu just put on a coat, a beanie, and some snow boots, figuring that was enough. "I hope not, but he's in a safe zone, so he should be fine right, rrribbit?Tsu said, following Pin out of McFroppy's.

The fourth floor was as cold as Tsu heard everyone say it was. She shivered a little bit while following Pin to the Hearth and Harrow. He warned her that his friend was a bit eccentric and that he would probably know a bit about her already. Tsu nodded, not really caring too much how someone acted, Outlander was the only exception. Although as soon as they walked in Sugutsuya gasped at seeing Tsu, saying he'd heard a lot about her tongue, asking how long it exactly was. "It's 1 foot and 3 inches, or 38 centimeters, ribbit.Tsu answered, sticking her tongue all the way out for a few seconds. Tsu pulled it back in when Sugutsuya said he didn't know they were together. Tsu blushed and crossed her arms. "We're not together, we're just friends, rrrrrribbit."

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Sugutsuya was unimpressed. "Mmhmm," he replied dully. Then, he suddenly perked up. "Well! I didn't expect Tsu to join us, but we're going to have to change our plans a bit, aren't we, Mr. Lan?" Pinball recoiled. He had just revealed that he knew Tsu's name, and that he knew Pinball's last name. Of course, there were explanations for this. Tsu was rather open with her name, and Pinball knew Sugutsuya was not afraid of spying to pick up information. Even if he hadn't heard her name from Tsu directly, he had plenty of connections that would be more than happy to supply him with it. He was very respected in his line of work. As for Pinball, someone a lot more careful with his private information... "You said you'd keep it confidential!" Sugutsuya laughed, slapping the table. "You lost your name in a bet, Pinny! Not my fault you thought you could outrun that bear. You're going to give me your first name willingly at this rate." Pinball slammed his fist onto the table. "I'm not!" Sugutsuya shrugged, a grin on his face, leaning back in his seat. 

His arms folded, he looked between the two of them with a cold expression - sizing them up. "Alright," he began with a nod, "yeah. I think I can rely on the two of you." Sugutsuya stood, slamming a foot onto his chair. With a dramatic flair, he began. "Lately, NPCs have reportedly been hinting at the location of an amulet hidden deep within the mountains. Treasure hunters and info brokers alike are dying to get their hands on this item. For what reason?" He shrugged. "Dunno. But," he said with a toothy smile, pointing at himself with a finger, "I plan on being the one to get it first. That's where you two come in.

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Tsu now knew Pin's last name, Lan. She wasn't going to mention it, for the sake of keeping him in a good mood, but it was a nice last name. Tsu wasn't Tsu's real name, but she didn't want to bring that up in front of Sugutsuya or he would probably to try and get it out of her. Pin was getting a bit upset that he even mentioned it, but Tsu just patted him on the back. "It's fine Pin, I promise not to tell a soul, ribbit.Tsu said, hoping Pin wouldn't get too mad over this.

Sugutsuya explained that there was supposed to be some kind of amulet in the mountains, and he wanted to get it first, before anyone else. Although it was pretty obvious that he wanted Pin and Tsu to get it for him. "Alright, I'll help you out, ribbit. But what's the plan here, rrrrrribbit?"

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Pinball was curious what the course of action was going to be, too. However, before he got to ask, he recieved a message. He didn't want to interrupt, so he stood. "Sorry, give me a moment - uhh, just keep going. Fill me in when I get back, y-yeah?" Pinball left the Hearth and Harrow to respond properly to the message he had recieved, and stood in the cold, his menu opened in front of him. 

Sugutsuya, watched with a smile Pinball left, then, when the door shut, his gaze turned to Froppy. "I really have heard quite a bit about you." His eyes weren't nearly as friendly as they had been just a moment before; Sugutsuya was prone to extreme mood swings. "But. I'm sorry to say I'm not quite satisfied with what I know." He ordered a glass of something from the waiter before returning his stare to Froppy. "Knowing things is my business. I gather information, I distribute it. Everything I do is mutually beneficial to all parties involved." He took a sip from his glass. "That being said, you're fairly new to the scene, and I'm curious. What's your story?"

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Tsu was a bit worried when Pin had to get up and leave when he got a message. She was going to fill him in for sure, but she wasn't exactly okay with being left alone with Sugutsuya. "Sure thing Pin, ribbit.Tsu said as she watched him walk out the door. 

Tsu looked at Sugutsuya with a small frown when he said that he wasn't satisfied with what he knew about Tsu already. "I don't know how you heard about me, ribbit. I've kept a low profile for most of my time in this game. Unless that Outlander guy told you about me and my tongue, I don't know how else you know about me, rrrrribbit." Tsu said, leaning forward a little bit now. Sugutsuya explained what he did, and then asked for the story on her, since Tsu was new to the scene. "My story, rrribbit? I don't really know what you mean by that. But if you're just trying to get my personal information, you're just digging at bedrock, ribbit. You want some details about me, I'll give you a few. I'm 15, and I was a cheerleader back in the real world, ribbit. In this game, I plan to be a healer for my guild and anyonr that hires me. Any more questions, ribbit?"

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Sugutsuya gave a helpless shrug, a cocky smirk on his lips. "A whisper here, a whisper there. I keep my clients' information confidential, for the most part. I hear things, and that's all you really need to know about it." Sugutsuya's smile only widened at the mention of Outlander's name. "Ah, that guy. I understand there was a group of you that got in a bit of a scrap with him, yeah? I don't know much, unfortunatly. But I do know that Pinball was there for a brief moment, and you-" he paused, laughing, "- you slapped him. With your tongue." He clapped his hands together, grinning. "I have to give it to you for that. That's brilliant." He smiled as Froppy told him about herself, propping up his head with a hand - but his eyebrows furrowed, and he looked a bit frustrated. "Ah, but that doesn't tell me anything. Who cares what you used to be? I'm more interested in who you are now." He sighed, leaning back in the wooden chair. "But I can tell you're the type that won't budge with stuff like this. That's disappointing. I actually have a proposition for you, and just for you. We can talk later.

Pinball pushed through the door of the inn with a yawn, walking back over to the two players. "Right, sorry. Just a friend." He shoved his hands in his jacket anxiously, looking between the two of them. "So, uhh... The necklace thing, yeah? What about it? What's... what's happening?" Sugutsuya noddded. "From what I hear, the pendant should be on the peak of one of these mountains. Which mountain, I have no idea. But," he said, waving a finger, "If we can get our hands on it first, we may end up very rich indeed." He smiled. "That's our edge. The other hunters don't know that it's on a mountain, so more than half these guys are scouring dungeons for something that isn't going to be there.

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Tsu was getting slightly annoyed with the way that Sugutsuya was talking. He just was a bit irritating to Tsu, she just didn't like him. He mentioned the little scrap she had with Outlander, and he already knew that Tsu had slapped him with her tongue. "You find out everything that goes on, don't you, rrribbit?Tsu said, raising one eyebrow and crossing her arms. Tsu got a bit more annoyed with Sugutsuya when he said that he had a proposition for since she didn't look like the type to budge. "If you keep pushing me, you'll end up getting a tongue slap too, ribbit." Tsu warned. She was about to add something else, but then Pin came back in. He asked about the necklace, and then Sugutsuya explained that it was on a mountain but no one else knew that. "Got it, so we should going now, ribbit. We'll be back with that necklace, and we'll be rich, ribbit. You can count on this frog. Ready Pin, rrrrrribbit?" 

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Sugutsuya remained unphased and dismissed the two with a quiet nod. "Yeah, let's go," Pinball said slowly, taking note of Sugutsuya's expression. He led the way out of the Hearth and Harrow, holding the door open for Froppy and taking a few steps into the snow. "Jesus, It's cold," he mumbled, shoving his hands in his jacket pockets. He looked left, then looked right. Silence, save the sound of the frigid wind. "So, uhh," he began, adjusting the spear on his back to ensure it didn't drag in the snow, "which way should we go?" He did a 360 degree turn, locating the general direction of the mountains. He pointed with both his fingers, snapping finger guns. "Mountains are thataway," he said, then took one hand and pointed in the other direction. "Besides that one. There's a lot of them this way, and a couple more of them that way." Pinball wasn't good with decision making, and he felt like Froppy should be the one to take charge during this expedition. "Which way?" he repeated, placing his hands back in his pockets once his spear was properly adjusted. He wouldn't be fitting through any doors, given the spear's length and the odd way he had to position to fit it on his back, but it was more comfortable than carrying it in his hands. 

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Tsu noticed that Sugutsuya didn't seem phased at all by the way that Tsu had talked to him, like he didn't care at all. As soon as Tsu and Pin stepped back out of the Hearth and Harrow, Tsu realized just how cold it was, now shivering again. Tsu put her hands in her pockets and stayed close to Pin, hoping to get at least a little bit of body heat. Pin finger gunned the mountains, and Tsu giggled a little bit. He asked which way they should go, and Tsu looked around at all the mountains, not sure which would be the right way to go. Tsu looked at the cluster of mountains that Pin had pointed at originally and pointed at them as well. "We should head to those mountains, ribbit. They are close by each other, so we can cover more ground checking them. Plus, it seems like the best place to hide an item, rrrrrrribbit.Tsu explained as she started to walk out of the gates of town and in that direction. It was snowing today, not a lot of snow, but it was still a bit.

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Pinball nodded. That was fair reasoning. "Well," he muttered, more to himself than to anyone else, "we should probably get going, then." Pinball started walking, leaving footprints in the snow. He went to make his way out of the safe zone, but he looked back to Froppy. "So," he started awkwardly, "how have... you been?" The last time he had been near Froppy, it was when he had lost his cool in front of Outlander. Luckily for him, nobody took much mind of it. He was glad for that. It was unlike him, and if he could bury that memory he would. He rarely ever lost his temper like that, even going so far as to threaten someone. He shook his head to himself, uncomfortable. Outlander had been unaffected, of course. The man was oddly stubborn, and awfully set in his ways. "Have you done anything interesting? Or.." They were approaching the edge of the safe zone now, and soon their journey would begin. With a grin, he walked backwards, facing Froppy. His hands in his pockets and his spear slung across his back at a rather odd angle, he spoke. "You ready for some kind of legendary adventure? They sing songs about stuff like this. Or, rather, we can pay performers to sing about stuff like this."

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Tsu continued to walk, leaving footprints in the snow as well. Tsu held her tongue out for a few seconds and let some of the snowflakes fall onto it. Tsu pulled her tongue back in, and she got a small smile on her face. "The snowflakes taste like ice, ribbit. That should be obvious, but snowflakes have a bit of flavor to them that ice just doesn't have, ribbit.Tsu said as they reached the edge of the safe zone. Pin asked how Tsu had been, and she pondered on the question for a few seconds. "Hmmm, I've been doing fine, ribbit. Other than meeting Outlander, I have been great, ribbit. The shop has been going fine too, the few people that have eaten at McFroppy's love my food, ribbit.Tsu responded as she crossed her arms, trying to forget Outlander. He was as he said, a professional jerk.

Tsu laughed a little bit when Pin turned around and asked if she wad ready for some kind of legendary adventure. "If we weren't doing this for Sugutsuya, then I would be really excited, ribbit. I brought 2 McFroppy's meals with me if we get hungry, so just let me know if you do, ribbit.Tsu said as she took a step out of the safe zone.

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It started snowing. Lightly, of course, as weather didn't change too rapidly on this floor. Pinball's boots crunched the snow underfoot. He kept quiet, waiting for Froppy to finish talking before speaking for himself. He was interested in what she said about Sugutsuya, but he'd wait until he addressed the rest of her points before bringing it up. They had left the safe zone, and Pinball looked suspiciously from side to side, preparing himself for any sudden attacks. "I like the cold. I don't get to experience it much, being raised in Florida. I only just got kinda used to it recently, since my mom moved us to Japan." He looked up at the sky, watching the snow fall. He was telling her too much. Change the subject, he chided himself. "Outlander is..." He shrugged, his face twisting with mixed emotions. "He's whatever. Don't go near him." From past experience (namely, Pinball's walks), Pinball knew that they were coming up on Frostbite Lake. Then, from there, they would have to make their way through a forest blanketed with snow to get to the mountains. "What's the matter with Sugutsuya?"

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Tsu had no idea that Pin was from Florida. He just didn't seem like the party animal type that Tsu pictured people from Florida were. Although Pin already broke most standards, not really fitting any caricature. She would have never guessed Florida in a million years. Pin told her that Outlander was just whatever and to stay away from him, which made Tsu laugh a little bit. "Yeah, he is a just a whatever, I'm staying away from him already, ribbit.Tsu commented, kicking some of the snow to the side. She could see Frostbite Lake in the distance, and it was pretty to see. Pin asked what was wrong with Sugutsuya, and Tsu was a bit hesitant to answer, not really wanting to answer that. "I just don't like him, something about Sugutsuya bothers me, ribbit. He knows so much about me already that I don't know if I should be impressed or bothered. He is also one of those kinds of people who won't treat me like a normal person, any of those lind of people bother me, ribbit.Tsu answered, kicking a bit more snow to the side.

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With a shrug, Pinball, too, kicked up a bit of snow. It was probably a fair point about Sugutsuya. He had been nothing but kind to Pinball, and he had often wondered why. Manipulation was, after all, in his line of work. Maybe it was all a ploy? But what could he possibly be getting at? He decided to shrug it off for the time being. They had a mission to do, more or less. Swiping open his menu, he quickly checked his map. They were going to be coming up on Frostbite lake, a rather popular safe zone. He looked back to Froppy, realizing he had been walking ahead. He slowed down a tad, to have them walk at an even pace. "So, uhh," he began, grasping for some sort of conversation topic, "where... are you from?" A faint shimmering in a tree branch caught his eye. It seemed as though the air around it shaked and wavered. He dismissed it without a second thought. It was probably just the cold air playing tricks on him. "We're coming up on Frostbite Lake, by the way. Hope you brought your skates.

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Tsu couldn't stop thinking about Sugutsuya, still a bit skeptical of him and still worried over several things. The proposition he was about to make and the possibility that this whole thing is basically a quick trip to death, both of these concerned Tsu. She still tried to stay positive about all of this, and decided not to mention her concerns to Pin. 

Thankfully for both of them, Pin changed the subject and asked where Tsu was from. "I was raised in Waterloo Canada, ribbit. I moved to Japan when I was about 11. We moved because the rest of my frog relatives lived there, and it was better if we stuck together, ribbit. But why did you move to Japan, got other relatives here too, rrrrrrribbit?Tsu asked sliding across the ice of the frozen lake. She had done plenty of skating in Canada, so she could keep her balance without skates easily.

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