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[F05 - PP] Tracking the Rumors - Finding Shark

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The more Shield tore into the older lore of the front lines and the players that had once inhabited it, the more intrigued he became. There was the mystery surrounding Lowenthol's death and the shady circumstances around it, there were the ramblings of the newly out of retirement Oikawa, and the strange circumstances that he was investigating, even the oddity of the derisive player who had shown up to one of the boss raids wielding two blades at once. Now, as Shield bumped around in the streets of the Town of Beginnings, he heard the name of a player that had never fallen on his ears before. "Who the hell is Shark?" he asked to the grizzled player that sat on a bar stool at the ramen shop off of the main square.

"Shhhhh!" hissed the man, who put an arm around Shield and crunched him against his side. Unfortunately for Shield, the crunch was quite literal, and it felt as if the clothes that the player was wearing were in desperate need of a washing to fix said textural issue. "It aint'a somethin' you'll hear fromma the brokers! Jus' rumors and idle murmurs down the side streets! But'n they say he was a member of an old guild, the Brides of Christ or some'in'. And he's supposed ta be up on the fifth floor somewhere!"

"So... if it's a secret, why did you tell a complete stranger?" Shield asked, peeling the sticky, sweaty arm from around him and brushing the flakes of god only knew what food off of his side where he had been pinned a moment ago. The stranger stared blankly at him for a moment and then tossed back his head, shouting with anger at himself for letting his prized rumor slip to someone so easily, tearing at his hair. From the few strands he had left, Shield guessed he used the same gesture fairly regularly in the real world. He parted ways with the still howling loose-lipped player.

He swiped through the air and pulled up a blank message, adding a few names to the 'To' section before drafting the body of the missive.


Baldur, Hirru, Beat,

Word has reached my ears of a player who went missing from the front lines and, from what I can tell, Aincrad in general. This may prove interesting or profitable. Meet me up at the fountain in the fifth floor's main settlement if you're interested in doing some sleuthing.


@Beat @Baldur @Hirru @Shark

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It had been a LONG time since Baldur had been on the 5th floor. He remembered coming here as part of the quest to get the <<survival>> skill, but not since had he bothered to visit the desert floor. It just wasn't his style, and there were much, much better floors to do... anything... on. Yet here he found himself now, holding up the color of his haori against the sand blowing into his face. It was all fake, but just the sensation of it was enough to annoy the gaijin samurai. His aforementioned <<survival>> skill meant that he could wear whatever he wanted and not take the heat damage from the floors extreme climates, but the sand... it was just... everywhere. And he hated it.

Beach sand, at least, was much more pleasant, and not constantly blowing into your face and drying you out.

But he had not been summoned to a beach floor.

Scanning the small square in the floor's only settlement, Baldur made his way over to the fountain after having spotted the tank and his elusive, but seemingly at home, snake.

"Ohayo, Shield-San. You've caught my attention, but what kind of fool's errand are we talking about?"

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Shield raised his hand in greeting to his senior, welcoming him with a light cuff on the elbow. "In all honesty, I can't say for sure," he admitted, scratching the back of his neck. "It's a name I have no familiarity with, so it may be a player who is long since dead or potentially even never existed. My first thought is a trip to the Monument of Life to check and see whether the name exists and, if so, if it is crossed out."

The explanation was a thin one, but for so little information, it was the only thing he could think of that would provide anything substantial. "I was hoping that as someone who has had a much longer stay on the lines that you might be able to lend some light," he went on, nodding towards Baldur to acknowledge one of the several reasons he invited the sagely pseudo-samurai. "Does the name 'Shark' mean anything to you?" he inquired, raising an inquisitive eyebrow. "That might at least give me an idea of how wild-goosey this wild goose chase truly is."

He turned and glanced towards the floor entrance, screwing up his face to try to see through the bright midday light of the desert to hopefully spot his ally, @Beat or the skilled scout, @Hirru, as either would contribute plenty to the journey.

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Baldur shook his head to Shield's inquiry. Shark? He had never heard of the name, or at least not in the way that Shield spoke it. Perhaps something close to it, but Baldur had never met anyone by that name, or anything close to it. Baldur had not been in the frontline as much as Calrex, and Hirru had made battles that Baldur had missed, but no one ever spoke of him at meetings, or as an influence to them as far as he could tell.

"Sorry my friend, I have not heard of anyone by that name before. Have you checked the wall of life? The only shark I know is the one in the sand."

The Samurai gave the tank a sideways look, "Though I thought you had already done that quest by now." A playful smile split the usually taciturn face.

"Whatever the case, it's good to break things up a bit sometimes. We can always find ourselves a rut to get stuck in, and that kind of complacency can be dangerous."

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"I think you might have gotten some sand in your ears," Shield jibed back at the samurai. "I was just suggesting we go check the monument. Shall we?" He gestured ahead of them, back towards the teleportation plaza before striding off in that direction himself. "In any case, I have not only dealt with the shark quests, but have been drafted to repeat them a handful of times as well. If it were that, we wouldn't be off to investigate. I would just know where to go. Though I will admit, it is an interesting thing that both happen to have pointed to the same floor."

She sand outside of the safe zone whipped high into the air, framing the little bubble of safety amid what seemed sometimes to be the never ending tide of sands that surged through the desert air. They arrived at the teleportation plaza, and stepping into the grid, Shield called out, "Town of Beginnings!" With that, he was whisked away, and the world of the fifth floor dematerialized, only to be replaced by the bustling square of the first settlement of Aincrad. He stepped out and waited for Baldur to join him, resting his hands in the pocket of his dark brown breeches.

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