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Aereth

[PP-F11] Beginning or End of a Journey?

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"If you really are so innocent and haven't done anything wrong, then why don't you get rid of that orange cursor and talk to the APF? I know Itzal and Hestia. They wouldn't lock anybody away who is really innocent." Hidden sighed and shook her head. He wasn't quite understanding her was he. "We both know my social skills are the bare minimum, I can't talk to people without being fake." Her statement was true. Unless you counted her being rude as she spoke to people. 

As she tried to explain herself it seems she earned the distaste of Aereth. "You are greedy. You are way too greedy. On the one side you want to have a cleared name and be a respected person, but on the other side you want to use a psycho killer kid to do some dirty work for you."

Hidden balled her fist, her breathing increasing. She knew deep down... he was right. She was greedy. She wanted her cake and to eat it too. "Is it dirty work? Or is it community service? Cleaning up Aincrad's trash." She wanted the players to like her, but there was no way she was going to let the Laughing Coffin get away with what they did to her. She was attacked, forced into hiding, and even in the end she was humiliated by them. She was never going to forget that. 

"I don't know what he wants in return. I haven't been around him enough to figure that out. The only thing we managed to discuss taking down Laughing Coffin and when he taught me a little more about dagger wielding. Don't take this as me defending him, how do you know he hasn't changed at all?" 

Mari's voice broke her train of conversation.  "I dunno who this Adrian kid is, but is he really that dangerous? Like he ain't gonna get far with a united front. What's he gonna do? Cry his way through everyone?" Hidden shook her head. "Adrian is a child that was tortured and trained by a criminal guild to be a killer. He's pretty smart and is now the head of his own guild which hasn't seemed to do much since his return. Last I checked he's over level 70. If he wanted to he could go about killing a lot of players easily. However, I let him months ago and he hasn't touched a single soul."

She listened to his offer and thought on it for several seconds.  "You know if you go to this APF thing I'll go with you." She also took this into consideration. "First of all as Mari shut up about dying. You have value alive now. Congrats. I'll make your deal with two edits. I'm not going to do the first one. If all of this turns out to be for nothing and I am still stuck in my predicament after this I am not going to blow my only redo. Afterwards if all goes well I'll fix it. I got it from a quest anyway. Second thing..." This is where they would probably disagree. I am not taking Adrian in as well. Here is why. Whatever you tell me... I am going to bring them down. I am going to gather as many players as it takes. That means Adrian's Guild, the frontliners... anyone I can gather. If you still plan on taking Adrian down, this will at least take down a few of his friends and weaken him."

She lifted her finger to point at Aereth. "We are going to trade the information of Laughing Coffin's base to clear my name. We can kill two birds with one stone that way. Trading you would be pointless. You aren't worth anything to them. In fact Mr. 'I dont care about my life', to repay me and give your life meaning again... you can work for me and help me out. Certainly we will find something for you to fight for again. If Adrian turns out to be a big bad, we can find some way to bring him down."

She didn't know exactly what was happening. Things were happening she didn't ever think could happen. Perhaps she could bring the entirety of Aincrad to help her out. She could have her cake and eat it too. Her gaze averted. 'Am I doing to Adrian what was done to me? Conspiring with others to achieve my goal?' 

 

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"This may sound harsh, but you talk about so desperately wanting people to view you differently. To no longer be wanted or hated, but your actions and words right now - kinda contradict that completely."

"Thank you..." the brunette mumbled while listening to Mari's comments.

"We both know my social skills are the bare minimum, I can't talk to people without being fake." 

"You are talking to us right now or aren't you? Weak social skills are no excuse they are just a weak argument children hide behind when they are in a tough spot..." before he could finish  a two handed spear came crashing down between his legs.

"What he meant was, that poor social skills shouldn't hold you back from trying to clean your name. You don't have to be friendly with everybody, but if the APF is looking for you while you haven't done the things they accuse you of, then you have to clarify them..." Sherry had been trying to keep out of the conversation, but felt like she had to step in before Aereth would make things worse  again.

"Just think about it for a moment... Both the APF and you have the same goal. Taking down Laughing Coffin. Why not meeting at an neutral place, explaining the situation and then joining forces. Clean your name and gain respect in one go..."

"I don't know what he wants in return..."

Aereth sighed. "And that doesn't seem suspicious to you? Let's just go along with that play for now..." He said, sitting up straight, moving his hands around to help him gesture while explaining. "We assume you and Adrian manage to take down LC somehow. What after? Your goal is accomplished and you owe an undefined favour to a child with mental issues that could easily do anything he wants with you." he waited for a couple of moments before continuing. "I'll tell you why he wants to help you. He wants to take LC's place. It's as obvious as fck. Do you really think he would just vanish afterwards? And the front-line wouldn't even think about joining forces with him anyway..." there was no hostility in his words, it was just what he was honestly thinking about the situation.

After Hidden's monologue he took some moments to in all the information. While he could understand most of the things, it didn't make any sense why she would want to keep that orange cursor. "But THEY don't know that you got the cursor form a quest. They assume you harmed or killed another player. Going back to green would be the first NONVERBAL thing you could do to restore some of your reputation and make your life easier. Change your clothes, change your hair and you can go in and out of every town just as you want without triggering other players or the guards while searching for players to join your cause. For Mari and me that train is gone. Our cursors are permanent..."

"I will help you, I owe you that much, but you also have to accept that help. And from what I saw up until now you have another one who wants to help you..." he said looking at Mari.

@Mari @Hidden

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"You are talking to us right now or aren't you? Weak social skills are no excuse they are just a weak argument children hide behind when they are in a tough spot..."

Her fists clenched and her knuckles whitened from the tightening. His words angered her once again. After everything she had been through, even the things he didn't know about from before Aincrad, he was daring enough to compare her to a mere child? As she opened her mouth to retaliate, a spear appeared between the two players, startling Hidden and causing her to instinctively draw her blade. It was once again, the bartender who amended Aereth's words. Hidden's anger subsided and she put away her own weapon.

"I'm not good at talking. I'm good at manipulating, being hateful, shutting my-"

"Just think about it for a moment... Both the APF and you have the same goal. Taking down Laughing Coffin. Why not meeting at an neutral place, explaining the situation and then joining forces. Clean your name and gain respect in one go..."

She sat and thought on that for a moment, her mind whirring back to one point. Both of them brought points that she failed to see before. Her mind had placed the APD in a section of being the enemy and nothing else. They were what stood in between her and her return to grace. She had to shed light on their corruption. Now, the option of using them to clearing her name had been revealed. As she noted that she didn't know Adrian's intentions, Aereth would tell her what he thought was his plans. 

Becoming defensive, she would reply bluntly with "But you don't know that for sure. Things might have changed from now. If I just turn on him now, I'll be no different to him than I thought everyone had been to me. Betrayed, forgotten, framed, and then left with only bitterness. He will definitely be against us then. Also, if I do turn on him this early, then he will be that much harder to defeat. You will lose your only current inside person. If it comes down to it, the only one currently who can get close to him and could draw him out is me."

She wasn't willing to change her mindset. She had stood by this plan for months and fought tooth and nail for it for a reason. She was not going to take the easy way out of this now just to run into more trouble down the road. "Also, the frontliners won't be a problem thanks to Hestia. According to what I heard, her and Itzal had a small falling out about if the players should be told or not. To prevent any possible panic she refused to tell anyone about him. They have no idea who he is and for now that might work in our favor."

When he mentioned changing her hair and clothes she would frown. "I... I like my clothes." She stood and did a little twirl with her own cloak. It was her safe place within the fabric. 

"I will help you, I owe you that much, but you also have to accept that help. And from what I saw up until now you have another one who wants to help you..." The boy gestured to Mari. 

She looked to the woman herself. "Are you sure you want to help me? I mean, if this goes wrong you could become even more hated then you currently are. Any chance you made to recreate yourself could dwindle back into nothing and we both become forced into hiding for eternity."

 

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The two talked  back and forth, more words and organizations and people that Mari had no idea about. She made a mental note to talk to Macradon about this later - failing that...Hikoru was a information broker right? Mari could pop into his house and have a chat with him. Since whatever this was, it seemed serious. And Hidden seemed to be trying to do it all herself. Something Mari didn't really like nor agree with.  Mari had been mostly silent throughout their exchange - her main goal was to make sure Hidden didn't kill Aereth, and that seems to have worked. At least for the time being.

"I....really don't have any problems with not taking Adrian, was it? In." Mari said. "And I kinda have to agree with Aereth, this kid seems shady - owing someone like that a favour isn't too great - but - who said you had to agree to the favour? If he gives you any guff about it you can always message me." Mari paused. "Rather, I hope you do message me." She added for good measure, it seemed Hidden was convinced the entire world was against her - when in reality, the entire world probably barely remembered who she was. Mari knew, she had that same mindset, the same things happened to her. She was now in a world who barely cared about the past.

"Can't talk to people without being fake...Mmm, Nah, I don't buy it. You've been acting on emotion this entire time - both times I met you." Mari mused, she didn't say how Hidden had opened up to her and cried, that was not Mari's place to say, nor to talk about. She switched to the topic of Hidden's redemption. Mari knew her words were jumbled, but it was hard enough to keep up with the two of them. " I'll help you with materials, items and buffs - but if I were to join you if you choose to take the redemption quest,  I fear it'd be beefed up to match my level. I'd advise finding people who are closer to your level. I can help with that, and before you interject saying they'll hate you, I can almost guarantee they won't even know who you are- and will take my word."

Mari agreed that Hidden shouldn't turn on Aiden, Adrian (whoever this darn kid was) that would only make things worse, especially if he felt like he was being cornered. "Frontliners won't be a problem." Mari interjected. "I'm one of them, and I know several of them - I'm not sure why you feel they'll be a problem. I know they're a little disjointed...but they're mostly good people."

Hidden seemed to perk up, even offering a twirl as she stood - showcasing her trademark black cape. "Wear what you wanna wear, you shouldn't have to change your looks."

Aereth told Hidden that Mari would help her, and when Hidden asked Mari nodded.
"Well yeh, and pfft-" She couldn't help but lightly chuckle. "Please, do not take offence to this Hidden but - if this goes wrong I know those who are by my side won't leave me, I won't be forced into anything." Mari stood and dusted herself off. "And Eternity is a stupid amount of time, nothing is forever. I'll help you. You have my word."

@Hidden @Aereth

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It seemed like they really got through to Hidden. Thankfully her blind anger wasn't big enough for her to ignore hard facts and logic.

"Have it your way then. I will agree with both of you that we shouldn't give Adrian reason to feel pressured right now, but you should be really careful around him. At least when you are completely alone with him."

Doing his best to ignore the sticky substance that now seemed to have fused with his worn out pants, the brunette got up to his feet.

"I'll stand by my word. I will help you to clear your name, but for that I need some time..." he said, jokingly trying to dust off his dirty clothes. "I need to get some actual gear as well as some money to get my information broker network going again. Unfortunately my pals in LC didn't pay me for my service... Give me a week and I'll be ready. We'll meet up here again and we can discuss our next steps.... If that is ok with you Sherry..."

Sherry grinned after Aereth finished. "Just like old times..." she mumbled before brandishing her spear. "Of course that's fine by me. You owe me a whole evening worth of lost income. Better bring that money next time you show your dirty face." The redheaded bar owner replied in a teasing tone.

Rewards:

All players receive:

1 SP (thread completion) + 1 SP (Corona Bonus)
133 Col

 

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