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Mari

[PP-F10] Fire In the Hole! (I believe I can fly)

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Mari held her gaze skyward - but instead of a bright blue sky, a blazing sun, or a glittering night sky - she was met with darkness. If Mari stared long enough she felt like her eyes were playing tricks on her, it looked like the shadows from the cavernous ceiling were creeping forward, tendrils leaking out and around - threatening to swallow the entire floor whole. In its own morbid way, it was ...pretty. Peaceful. 

Mari shifted her attention back to what lie in front of her. She had followed the trial of the Stygian river - then parted away from it to wonder deeper into the depths of the cavernous floor. Mari pulled her Spear forward, the 'Bleeding Lance' her Cerulean eyes regarded it, travelling along the dark wooden shaft up to the hollow metal of the needle-like tip. It wasn't anything like her dagger; if anything. Mari would have preferred to just duct tape her dagger to a stick and call it a day. She didn't want handouts - but here it was. A weapon given to her by Shield. The small golden insignia had been stamped just below the spears head. Mari twirled the Spear around in her hand. It'd...take some time to get used to this.

Mari went to take another step forward, but stopped. Her breath caught in her chest when she saw it, an angry tear - it was known as <<The Void>> And it was something that had fascinated Mari ever since she had traversed the 10th floor.  There were rumours about it, wicked and cruel ones. Some said that if you were to throw yourself in there - you'd be released from Aincrad. Others promised death. Some said that there were nothing more than whispers that plagued you. Was that why no one had risked it? Or...what if they had, and simply vanished?

Mari didn't know anyone who had ever thrown themselves into such a place. Who would? Who would be so reckless that they'd be willing to throw their life away? Or suffer permanent debuffs in what was literally a death game? Mari tightened the hold she had on the spear and tilted it forward so the head of it disappeared into the void. Would it be so bad to go in? 

Mari shut her eyes, she couldn't do such a thing, surely. Not now that she had a guild - and friends. Right?

Right.

Spoiler

 


 

General
Level: 70 | HP: 1430  |Energy: 140


BATTLE COPY
Mari    [H:0/0/0] - HP 1430/1430  | EN: 140/140 | DMG: 19 | MIT: 43 | EVA:3 | ACC: 4  | BH: 67 | BRN: 24 |BLEED: 24 | FLAME AURA: 15 |

SKILLS
Rank 5 Weapon (+5 DMG)
-Weapon Mod: Precision (+1 ACC)
-Weapon Mod: Ferocity (+1 DMG)
Rank 5 Charge (+5 Damage -1 ACC)
Charge Mod BULL RUSH: Successful charge stuns target 1 turn
Rank 5 Light Armor (+25 MIT)
Light Armor Mod Athletics -  Gain +1 base damage and +30 HP when wearing light armor
SURVIVAL
Rank 5 Battle Healing (5% of total health rounded down start of each turn)
Familiar Mastery Expert - +1 (*Tier) Damage - +9 Damage
 

EQUIPPED
Name: 
Bleeding Lance| Item Type: 2H Assault Spear Tier 3
Enhancements: 
Bleed 2 | Damage 1
'Bleed Damage of 24 for 2 turns on a roll of 8-10'
'Burn Damage' of 24 for 2 turns on a roll of 8-10 - Unmitigated

Name: Beacon Necklace | Item Type: Pendant | Tier 2
Enhancements
  +3 ACC 

Name: 
Infernal Shadow | Item Type: Light Armour | Tier 3
Enhancements: 
 +2 Eva | +1 Flame Aura
'Effect: Prevent (6 per slot * Tier) damage per slot from successful attacks against you. Successful non-critical attacks against you deal (5 per slot * Tier) unmitigated burn damage to the attacking enemy.

 

 


@Beat

Edited by Mari

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Beat laid in bed, his gaze empty, fixed on a spot on his ceiling as he worked to pull himself out of bed. His mind had been more unstable than it had been in a long time and he knew the reason.

Mari...

Something had happened during their conversations that had cracked the foundations in the resolve that he had managed to build after his encounters with the slavers. He had always taken solace in that he was the one responsible for handling orange players that would harm others or the front lines, but now, somehow that wasn't enough anymore. There were other feelings mixed in there as well, but the strongest one was the overwhelming urge to talk to her again.There was far more to what both of them had said at her house and the fact that she could actually understand the price of a human life was something Beat had not expected when he had met with her. 

I need to think...

He quickly dressed and headed towards the transporter of his home settlement. He stepped onto the pad and shouted the name of his destination, "Yomi!" In a blurry flash of light, he was whisked away to the beautiful and haunting caves of the tenth floor. He took in the moist, somewhat stale air as he headed toward the Stygian river. He followed the sound of the water, knowing the path well enough to not need a light source as he drew closer to the void. As he approached his destination, his blood stopped cold as he noticed another player standing there, the only distinguishable feature being an orange marker. 

An eye for an eye...

Beat's eyes stared ahead as he drew his spear and set his equipment, his hand dancing through the air without a glance to the interface. He had trained himself to never need to look as it was attention taken from the situation at hand. The pk hunter slowly moved closer, his heartbeat sitting behind his eardrums as he stalked the potential victim of justice. Beat set his target and charged his sword art as he drew closer, the distance indicator counting down the feet. Fifty feet. Forty feet. Thirty feet. The distance marker finally turned red, indicating that he was in optimal range for his charge skill as his cold eyes focused on his target. He was ready. Ready to administer justice should this player be guilty. He opened his mouth to speak as his eyes noticed the red hair and height. 

No way...christ...

Beat's body suddenly felt cold as the adrenaline left his body. He strapped his spear to his back as he stood up, walking much more casually towards her. "You know, an orange player walking around alone is a recipe for trouble. I almost thought...well, I'm glad it was you." He stopped next to her, staring down at the void he used to lose himself in though so often. "You know, they say it just spits you back out and some people say they hear voices. I've never had the guts to test that rumor though. You?" He said, looking to her and giving her a small smile. 

 

@Mari

Edited by Beat

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"B-Beat!?" Mari said, taking a small step back, his presence came at a complete shock to her. She hadn't seen, nor heard him approach. Mari placed a heart over her chest. "Way to leave a woman breathless." She said with a small exhale. Of all the people in all of Aincrad -and all the places and all the floors. She had just so happened to run into him here. Here of all places.

Soft blue eyes regarded him. Toussled dark hair shielded the better half of his face, his shoulders rising and falling in a quick succession. Had he been running? From someone? Mari's brows quirked into a concerned look. If he needed help she should -

"You know, an orange player walking around alone is a recipe for trouble. I almost thought...well, I'm glad it was you."

Almost thought what? Had he planned to attack her? Because of the marker? Mari's eyes shifted to the spear on his back. Mari could take a wild guess. She had heard from Shield that Beat could be a little brash when it came to seeing orange cursors. He was a PK hunter after all. Mari didn't question it. She didn't question him nor his actions and motives. Instead, she offered Beat a tired smile as he joined her side.

"Every day." Mari said as she turned her eyes down to the dark depths below. "Every day I wanted to. There are rumours it'll give you a permanent debuff, others say its just...death. I don't think anyone has ever tried. Rather...I don't think many know this place exists."

Mari sighed, taking a seat next to Beat. Still holding her spear Mari placed it away in her inventory. For his ease of mind, she knew he probably didn't want to be around her if she were holding a weapon in her hand, right?

"...well, I'm glad it was you."

Glad it was me, huh?

"I come here to think. Sometimes, staring at that never-ending darkness...it helps me. It helps clear my thoughts - it's...kinda like a double edged sword. It's so very draining, I feel like its just leeching everything from me. My strength, my thoughts, my feelings - I know it can't actually do those things. Sometimes..." Mari paused. Gods, Shield would lecture the hell out of her if he heard her say this. "Sometimes, its nice to feel numb."

Mari realized she had been talking about herself this entire time. That wasn't fair. It was rude. "Sorry. I -" She had to remember not to be so open anymore. Things weren't about her. "Why are you here, Beat? Not that I'm not happy to see you. I was actually thinking of messaging you soon."

@Beat

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Beat watched her take in his appearance, dismissing his spear as her eyes fell on it, "Sorry, that is for people without the sort of compelling story you have. I promise I don't just jump orange players. Hunting player hunters is not something I enjoy." He said, forcing a small chuckle to lighten the mood. He felt a small pang of guilt for even approaching her the way he had and he was grateful that she had apparently chosen to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Diving into that would have not be pleasant. 

Beat took a seat with Mari as she spoke, his eyes staring into the void, allowing it to drain the negativity away from him. He found it strange to be able to relate to someone about this sort of thing. Shield had made it clear that he wasn't really the sort to deal with that sort of thing and Beat had never really had the sort of conversations he seemed to be having with Mari lately. Is this normal?

"You know, I think that's why I come here too. I'm so full of..." He paused as he felt a tug on the back of his mind. Spilling his guts was not what he came there to do. She has her own crap to deal with, she doesn't need mine too. "...so I uh...come here to drain too. Being empty for a little bit is nice and is certainly preferable sometimes..." He continued to stare into the void for a few minutes that seemed like an hour before realizing that he had zoned out and forcing his gaze to her, "So yeah, I came here to empty out you know?" His face felt hot as he blushed slightly before quickly returning to staring into the void, "So...what were you going to message me about?"

@Mari

 

Edited by Beat

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Mari snorted. Compelling story he says.  It really did seem absurd - it felt like she was nothing more than some unfortunate Mary-Sue being played out by some sadistic creator who liked to see her suffer and in turmoil. Maybe that creator was bored now - maybe they were sick of the drama and the pain. Or maybe they were just biding their time for something worse. "You don't have to apologize yanno. Even if you were to ram it into my back or whatever..." Mari shrugged, keeping her eyes on the encompassing darkness of the void. "It's kinda warranted, isn't it? As compelling as my story is-" Mari shot Beat a small grin. "I was still a sh*t person. I wasn't nice. I took lives. Hell - I don't exactly think I'm nice now." Mari sighed as she turned her focus back to the darkness.  "I keep waiting for someone to notice."

Someone would eventually notice - that Mari wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. That she wasn't...shouldn't be some mentor for the lower leveled characters. She didn't have the charisma nor the patience for it. She knew it was only a matter of time till the other pillars noticed. Hell she was already causing problems. Wasn't she?

"Beat...If it's not something you enjoy - why do it?" The question seemed simple enough, but Mari knew it was a loaded one. "Don't get me wrong... I don't think people like that..." People like me   "Should be walking around without repercussion - but why should that duty lie on your shoulders? It's such a..." Mari paused, trying to find the right words. She shuffled her boots, scrapping bits of dirt and debris into the void. "I think it's called the Bystander effect. People think 'someone else will deal with this' so they ignore the situation...so knowing that I get why but..." Mari sighed. Why did it have to be him? That's all. "Sorry, I guess I'm rambling."

Beat seemed to have his own problems, what he was full of - Mari couldn't begin to guess. Well, she could - things like rage, pain, hurt... not many would come to a dark cavernous floor to stare at an endless abyss because they were feeling absolutely delightful. "I wish I could tell you that you shouldn't want to feel empty. But I'd be hypocritical to say."

Mari was tempted to reach out to Beat; to tell him he didn't have to empty himself into a void - that she'd listen - but..hadn't she already said that to him? Mari would hate it if someone kept on trying to get her to open up - if Beat needed to he'd come in his own time, at his own pace. Instead, Mari reached out and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Actually - about this." She removed her hand and stood.

"Aincrad has many mysteries, yanno - one of them being this place. I know..." Mari paused. Her heart was beating hard and fast in her chest - adrenaline coursing through her veins, preparing her for what she was planning to do. She bought a hand to clasp over her heart. Willing it to chill the f**k out. "I know we don't know each other well - or...I guess at all I just...kinda wanted someone around. I'm afraid to do it alone. Like, I know in theory I'll be fine..."

Before Beat could question her, or convince her to not do it - Mari threw her arms out straight on either side of herself in a 'T-pose' then - backward into the void she went. Mari had literally just done what no one had dare do before. What people were too afraid to do before. Hell, She was terrified of doing it herself. Perhaps she was selfish for doing it now, with Beat there - perhaps she was stupid for doing it at all.

But this was Mari.

The same Mari who swam in the Stygian river - the same one who drank from it to see if it was actually blood or water. (It was just water)
So a void? An endless ethereal scar of nothingness? 

Why not yeet oneself into it?

Please don't hate me for this

@Beat

Edited by Mari

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Beat resisted the urge to cut her off as she talked about herself as if she was unworthy of living. It was unfair to devalue oneself because of mistakes in the past. She had learned her lesson hadn't she? She wasn't still taking lives that had never deserved it was she? Still, it would have been hypocritcal for Beat to talk about letting the past go and he kept his mouth shut as he continued to stare into the void.

The next answer came from deep within, but made more available thanks to the void. Who else would do it then? His crusade for justice was likely over-zealous, but it settled the ghosts of his past and gave him something to feel, not that he could explain that to someone he barely knew. Right? Yeah, of course not... 

He blinked hard as her hand touched him. It was the second time they had made contact and he felt no less confused this time. Human contact was something that he knew of, but to say his grasp of anything beyond a pat on the back or a fist bump was tenuous would have been understating the issue. Still, there was one difference: with the void emptying his mind, her hand felt warm and it seemed to provide a different sort of comfort to his mind that the void certainly did not give him.

What is this?

Beat felt the difference immediately when her hand left him and no sooner had his gaze shifted to her than she was gone. In the next moment wind was blowing through his hair as he activated his charge skill to catch up to her. What happened? Why am I here? Flying into her, he wrapped his arms around her, "WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT!?" he screamed as his hand frantically moved through the air. A blue crystal appeared in his hand and he squeezed her as he yelled, "TOMOIKA!"

What..? Crap!

In the next few moments, nothing seemed to be happening as the wind rushed through his hair, the darkness making it impossible to tell whether not they had fallen into the void or not. A sense of panic began to wash over him as he considered the possible outcomes of the situation they were now both in. Maybe they would simply fall forever. There are worse fates right? Maybe they would die. At least I'm not alone right? The knot Beat had come to associate with being around Mari returned again as the sound of the wind blowing past his ears gradually falling silent, though his hair was still frantically trying to stay on his head. It was calming in a sense, similar to the emptiness he got from staring into the void. Maybe that was the power of the void. Whatever it was, it helped to ease Beat's racing mind.


He looked at her, their faces inches apart as they plunged further into the void, He wasn't sure if she would be able to hear him in the void, but the words that came up escaped his mouth before he could give them any though, "That was stupid, you know?" he said with a small smile into the now silent darkness, the crystal in his hand lifeless and dark. "You shouldn't be so careless with your life."

Said the guy who just jumped into the void to save someone he barely knows

@Mari

Edited by Beat

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Mari wasn't sure what she expected when she fell - maybe somewhere she had secretly hoped that she'd just vanish. That maybe, just made she'd fall forever, that the void would take her. That she'd somehow wake up in a hospital bed somwhere, or even her own and that this would have been all some terrible, terrible dream.

But it wasn't.

And none of that happened.

Instead, was the sensation of falling. Her perception of time distorted - everything felt like it had slowed down, but at the same time - it felt like she was moving faster than humanly possible. Blinking eyes tried to adjust, but all that surrounded her was the endless crevasse of enveloping darkness. Mari was suspended in the air, she closed her eyes and exhaled. Allowing herself to succumb to whatever may happen. 

Voices.

She heard them whispering, they started up as barely audible sounds that could have been mistaken for the wind. They grew in loudness, in urgency. Mari couldn't quite pick what they were saying, it was as if they were speaking every language at once, and yet none she had ever heard of. Every so often she thought she could hear her daughter whispering, calling out for her, but that....that couldn't be real, right? Mari blinked back tears - This may not have been the best idea after all. The cold numbed her, her fingers, her feet - her heart.

But then, there was a rush of warmth.

"What!? WHAT!?"  Her voice seemed to drown out the whispers, the intangible voices around her. Mari felt him before she saw him, or heard him. Long and strong arms had wrapped around her - pulling her into him, suffocating her with their sudden warmth and grip. Mari couldn't recall the last time someone had willingly done something like that. Had willingly reached out to her, held her. A small whimper came from her at that realization. A small and timid hand reached out to clasp onto Beat's arm to see if the warmth was real and in that split second, she almost forgot she was falling.

 "WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT!?" 

Mari blinked and removed her hand from his arm. was he being serious right now? Really? He was asking her that!?  Mari's concerns about reaching out to others - about invading their personal space and how her touch was no doubt abhorrent had disappeared as she reached out to Beat - she clasped each of his cheeks between the palm of her hands. "Beat!" Mari said exasperated as she squeezed them together - her hands leeching the warmth from them. "You're the f**king idiot who jumped in after a stranger!"

If he replied; she didn't hear it - for the next second. They were no longer falling in the void. They were next to it - back to where they started. Her back against the dark earth of the 10th floor, trapping Beats arms beneath her. Ginger hair sprawled out around her face like a halo of fire threatening to engulf her in flame. Blue eyes stared up at the man who was hovering over her. If anyone were to walk past right now, they'd most definitely get the wrong idea. Mari would have been embarrassed - if it weren't for the sudden and retching feeling of dread that began to sink into her body.

It trickled down her nervous system like trails of ice, numbing her as her pupils dilated. She could feel her heart pounding against her chest, hear it thrumming in her ears. Her mind screamed at her to run - but her body felt like lead. An unmovable useless pile of junk. It was clear that she was terrified, but of what Mari did not know - she didn't fear Beat. If anything she felt like he was protecting her against whatever unseen force was causing her to feel this way. 

Mari wanted to scream till her lungs were on fire - but all that could escape her was a timid whimper, and a whispered plea, barely audible above the sound of her own exploding heart. "Make it stop."   



@Beat

Edited by Mari

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Beat blinked as her hands clasped his face, the uncertainty of their fate becoming less of a concern as they continued to fall. The knot in his stomach grew tighter as he struggled to find words to reply to her as she yelled at him. He didn't have an answer, but somehow the contact on his face justified how stupid he had been. He just shook his head and strained his eyes against the ever growing darkness, a smile on his face.

I really am stupid. 

A few moments past and the darkness seemed to swallow them completely, Mari disappearing from his sight, but still warm in his arms. That security helped ease the sense of dread that began to wash over him as everything went dark. He squeezed the woman in his arms tightly as the cold around them began to intensify. Guess this is it. So stupid... Beat felt like he was drifting off to sleep as he shivered, the howling winds around them becoming audible again, though this time as voices. Indistinct and too numerous to make out until he felt his consciousness slipping away.

I love you Daigo! Have fun with your friends! 

W-who-

Beat was startled awake by the only voice he had been able to make out. It was familiar and it felt like it had touched his heart and restarted it. Before he could place the voice that he had heard, they were back. The dim light returned and the coldness of the hard ground underneath them was back. The cold from the void was slowly dissipating and the warmth between them seemed to be helping much more than before. He had the urge to continue to rest his head against her and truly fall asleep, but he knew that he needed to be sure the void had not done anything to them. He lifted his head from hers and gave her face a look over as she spoke faintly, seemingly in distress. Is she in pain?! Her words worried him and he quickly sat her up, holding her up by her shoulders, unaware of how close his face still was to hers, "Are you okay? I'm sorry, that was probably really stupid, but I really did think the crystal would work. I just didn't want you to-" His throat caught and he was forced to clear it before looking at her again. Maybe the void did do something. He pushed the hair out of her face so that he could get a good look into her eyes, "Why did you jump alone? What if you didn't come back?"   

@Mari

Edited by Beat

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She was pulled up from the ground by her shoulders. Mari immediately shrunk into herself. Shoulders slumping forward as her arms wrapped tightly around her trembling waist. Anything to stop the suffocating cold, the dread - the fear that strangled her. Mari was faintly aware of Beat - as his gentle grip shook her shoulders. Asking if she was okay. Was she? She glanced up at her stats - no debuffs. No health lost. All that she felt was the ebb and lull of panic and unease. 

Truth be told, if he wasn't there - grounding her. Mari may have screamed till she was hoarse. Instead, she swallowed. Pushing down the feelings. Pushing down the fear and the cold, the loneliness that  squeezed like a vice. Mari felt Beat brush strands of gold away from her face, trailing heat from his fingers as he did. Mari stared at him - wondering if he realized just how close he was. That she could practically feel the heat of his breath against her skin. "They're green...no...Hazel" Mari found herself saying - She had never gotten a good look at his eyes before - she'd always assumed they were brown.

Baldur was right - All Mari really wanted was a hand to hold, or arms around her - something to leech warmth from. But she couldn't. Wouldn't.  She was looking for people to attach to, and feel part of again - and - she just couldn't. She wasn't ready for that. 

Mari reached out and gently placed a hand on the mid of Beats chest and gave him the smallest of pushes to give them space. She could take a guess at what he planned to say.  "I can't run away." Mari said quietly as glistening blue eyes rose to meet Beats.  "I made a promise I wouldn't. I knew I wouldn't die down there."   Probably.  Her eyes shifted back to the void.

"Ever since...I found this floor - scouted this floor - the first thing I wanted to do was jump down there. It had always had this strange way of calling out to me. But when I was down there...all I felt was cold, and all I could hear was these strange intangible whispers -  that is until you came barreling down there after me." Mari offered Beat a weak lop-sided grin in an attempt to ease him. 

"I jumped alone, because that's what I am."  Mari shifted her gaze down to her lap. Rather than explain it further, she shifted the subject. Mari knew that it'd be silly to try and explain things to a person she barely knew. That granted - she knew she wasn't exactly alone, she had her guild members, the Pillars. She had friends, but -she felt it was something she needed to do alone. Her foibles were her own to bear. 

What if you didn't come back?" 

She ignored the question for now. Because Beat would not like the answer "I keep feeling this strange sense of terror creeping up on me right now...do you think it has something to do with the void? Do you feel that too? Are you okay?" 

@Beat

Edited by Mari

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He blinked as she commented on the color of his eyes. He had not considered that his eye color was anything remarkable, but somehow, Mari's comment caused the chill in his cheeks to fade instantly as he found himself unsure how to respond. He simply stared into her eyes in return, noting how they mimicked the sky and how lucky she was to have eyes like hers. I like yours too...

He leaned back, her hand making him aware of how close he was to her. He nodded as she recounted her experience in the void. It was not unlike his own though the voice he had heard was certainly familiar. He felt a small pang of anger as she mentioned her promise. She couldn't have known what would happen to her. They had both rolled the dice on their lives and, while Beat was unsure why he had done so, he had a feeling it had something to do with Mari.

"A sense of dread?" He checked his own status display, seeing no debuffs or damage, he shook his head, "I don't think it did anything to me, but Mari," He placed a hand on her shoulder as his brow furrowed and he pierced her with his gaze, "That jump...we didn't know it would just spit us back out. In a game, it makes sense that there would be places where you can fall to your doom only to respawn at the settlement." His hand squeezed a little firmer, "You don't respawn here..."

He removed his hand a leaned back a little more as he looked down at the ground,  "I didn't know I was jumping after you until I was already in the air. It doesn't make sense to me why I did that...I guess the stone should have worked, I don't know...but the one thing I do know Mari," his gaze rose back to hers as his voice found its conviction again, "You're not alone, you have the guild...and you have me..." His face began to crack into a wide grin, "a stupid stranger who jumps after you when you jump into the void!" He found himself laughing at the ridiculousness of what he had done, each laugh shaking off any remaining cold from their experience in the void. 

 

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Beat leaned further back, giving them more space. Mari breathed a small sigh of relief. He had been so very close she swore she felt his fringe tickle the bridge of her nose. The scents of cooking drifting off him. Things like rosemary and basil, oil and fire. He gave her a small affirming nod. And whilst Mari appreciated the distance between then now she couldn't help but realize the coldness that quickly took his place. Mari had been on this floor for the majority of her time in Aincrad - and yet she never felt this cold before. Goosebumps flared up on her bare freckled arms and shoulders, rising up to her neck. She visibly shivered.

"A sense of dread?" 

Mari nodded, rubbing her arms. "Yeh. It's like the constant feeling of..." her brows furrowed as she tried to find the words to explain it. "Like, I'm about to be attacked or am being constantly watched by something that wants me dead." Mari laughed awkwardly. Beat said he wasn't feeling the sense of dread and the ball in Mari's gut grew. He...really didn't  feel that? She stared at him with almost pleading eyes. Begging him to tell her he felt something, anything. She was....Mari shifted her gaze to her small and trembling form. She had to get this under control.


Mari jumped when Beat placed a hand on her shoulder; the warmth travelling down her arm. Her head shot up. "I-Uh..." How was she meant to explain herself.  "You don't respawn here..."
Right...he was right. Mari rose her hand, ready to place it over his to reassure him somehow, but his hand was already gone, so Mari's hand fell to lay in her lap.

"I guess that was a very small chance - but..." What could she say? That it wouldn't be the end of the world if she didn't respawn, if she wasn't plopped back out next to the void. Mari clenched her jaw to stop it from shaking. The sense of dread still strong. Gnawing at her psyche and body. Mari swallowed, hearing her heartbeats reverberating in her ears. "I figured. What do I have to loose?" She asked. "At best - maybe I activate some sort of secret quest or dungeon, at worst - I see my daughter again."  Mari didn't believe she would see her daughter. Mari believed death was final. But, it was still a thought that eased her mind sometimes. 

"I know I'm not alone though." Mari managed as she forced herself to smile. "I have so many people to be thankful for." But Mari knew she couldn't take them for granted, that she had been. That she should try to keep her distance a little more, that it was okay to have walls up. She shifted her gaze away from him - back to the void. "I didn't mean to scare you. I'm...Sorry but..." Mari shifted uncomfortably where she sat. "C-Can we make our way to a different floor...I'm really not feeling too good here."

@Beat

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"I figured. What do I have to loose?" 

 "At best - maybe I activate some sort of secret quest or dungeon, at worst - I see my daughter again."

Those words rang through Beat and he felt his body temperature rise as his brow furrowed, "You have your life to lose! Which, if you haven't noticed, is still something you have. If you don't like it, then make it something you do like." He said, realizing that he was being a little unreasonable. It was easy to say those sorts of things, but in reality, it was much harder to realize those words and make them happen. He sighed as he features softened again, "I know that's easier said than done, but...if I die before we get out, I would rather it happen while protecting something I cared about...maybe that's just me...I don't know." He trailed off and he gave her a nod in response to her request to leave.

"Of course, let's go to my place this time." He smiled as he stood up, offering her a hand, "Your place is a little cold." He would wait for her to stand and then begin making his way towards the settlement, checking his status to make sure whatever was affecting Mari hadn't crept up on him without him realizing. 

His steps stopped as a thought occurred to him, "So," he started as he turned to look at her with a curious expression, "How do orange players get around Aincrad? You can't teleport to settlements without guards chasing you right?" The idea of running from the town guards was not an unpleasant idea to Beat, but if Mari was feeling unwell, he would favor the idea that involved the least amount of action. 

Edited by Beat

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He really didn't feel that? The sense of dread - it felt like some suffocating force was watching her, and pressing down on her entire being. She figured this was an after effect of jumping into the void - and it shouldn't have any detriment - there were no status effects next to her health bar. So why? Why did she feel this way?

Beat tried giving her a pep talk, Mari found herself looking elsewhere, anywhere but Beat. She had heard it all before. Her life? Mari had very little value for that. At least he admitted it was easier said than done. Mari found very little about herself that she actually liked. Mari covered the only mirror in her small cottage because she hated seeing her reflection. She hated how she wasn't able to stop things without violence and death. She still looked back at those days - at people like Lessa who were so strong and confident - who were able to calm people and stop the fighting. People like Azide who had rallied people together. People like....like Baldur who gave hope where there was none.

"Right." Mari said as she turned her gaze back to Beat. "That's how I'd wanna go out too - I'd rather die knowing it was to save someone, than if it were for naught. And who cares if it were just you, it's important because it is you. Right?"
 

Mari closed her eyes as she tentatively reached out to grasp his hand. He had offered, so it was okay. Right?

"We're going to risk our lives together. These bonds will grow stronger over time, and we'll be closer in the future then we are now."


Right. Baldur's words rang through her head. It was okay. They were all in this together, so it had to be okay. His strong grip tightened around her small hand, swallowing it as he helped heft her up. HIs hand lingered on hers before he let go, leading them toward the settlement, the closer they got the slower Mari tried to work. She still felt like something was terribly wrong, a feeling deep in her gut.

"I...uh..." She stared at him. Did he not know? "I walk everywhere." She pointed to the left. "The stairs down are about a 10 minute walk that way. Where...hmmm....where is your house?" Mari asked. She already knew she was being a burden. IT was bothersome traveling with a PKer.  "I get it." Mari said as she hugged herself tight. FIghting the dread. "I can just take the stairs home... I think, the further I get away from this floor the better I'd feel. I don't wanna put you out."


@Beat

 

 

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