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Freyd - The Whisper in Shadows

[PP-06] Deforestation - Flame Kitty Fiasco

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Freyd had originally been drawn to Krycim as part of his ongoing attempts to expand his information network. The village was quaint, located in a large clearing surrounded by a protective palisade that had clearly been tested by a variety of jungle beasts and other dangerous denizens.  The high canopy overhanging the settlement seemed like a substantial liability, encouraging predators to linger on high, though he reminded himself that the safe zone would prevent any direct attacks.  He still noted it in case he ever needed to spy on any activity below.  It made an excellent vantage.

Clad is his usual, worn charcoal-coloured leathers, Freyd kept his cowl over his head despite the heat and humidity.  Such details never seemed to bother him.  His weapon also tended to draw too much attention in town, so he often left it concealed in storage until he was ready to depart.  Some items could be too distinctive.   It wasn't his intention to accomplish anything more than collecting data,  yet he'd stumbled across news of the fierce flaming tiger in the area and the amazons were seeking help to have it removed. 

"Grateful business partners make tend to provide better opportunities, so sure, why not?"  Accepting the quest, he hadn't even bothered to check if anyone else was around who might be interested.

@Vigilon

Spoiler

Name: Freyd, The Whisper in Shadows
Level: 39
HP: 800/800
EN: 78/78

Stats:
Damage: 15
Mitigation: 48
Evasion: 1
Accuracy: 4
KEEN:1
HLY:2
BLD:12

Equipped Gear:
Weapon: Forgiven Disobedience (T1-2HSS, ACC 1, HOLY 1, BLD 1)
Armor: Skirmisher's Garb (T2-LA, MIT 2, EVA 1)
Misc: Assassin's Cowl (T2-Trinket, ACC 2, KEEN 1)

Skills:
2H Straight Sword [Rank 5]
Light Armor [Rank 4]

Extra Skills:
Disguise
Familiar Mastery: Fighter 3
Survival

Mods:
Precision
Finesse - Rank 3
LA Athletics

Battle Ready Inventory:
Starter Healing Potion (50 hp)*3
Teleport Crystals*2
Turkish March *2
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik*5
Super-Duper Snake Sauce*2

Housing Buffs:
Rested: -1 energy cost for the first two expenditures of each combat
Clean: The first time you would suffer DoT damage in a thread, reduce damage taken from DoT each turn by 20% (rounded down)
Hard Working: +2 EXP per crafting attempt and +1 crafting attempt per day
Filling: Increase the effectiveness of a single food item consumed in a thread by +1 T1 slot.
Item Stash: +1 Battle Ready Inventory Slot
Relaxed: Increases out of combat HP regen by (5 * Tier HP) and decreases full energy regen to 2 Out of Combat Posts.
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

Guild Hall Buffs:
Lucrative: Reduce LD needed for Salvage by 5 (10+ for Alchemist crystals, 6+ for everything else). +2 EXP per craft. Rank 9 crafters receive +1 crafting attempt per day. Rank 10 crafters receive +2 crafting attempts per day.
Col Deposit: +5% bonus col from last-hit monster kills and +10% bonus col from treasure chests.

Scents of the Wild: n/a

Wedding Ring: n/a

 

Edited by Freyd - The Whisper in Shadows

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The sixth floor... What a vast rainforest it was, with frequent rain, humidity, and ridiculous heat. Honestly, this hot and humid weather, frequent rain included, reminded Vigilon of his one trip to Florida, back in the real world. Sure, the beach was nice, but the sun was more intense than he believed it was, so he kind of got burned. As for the rest of the time, heat, humidity, and rain, never ceasing. It sucked.

Still, he would have to get used to awful weather if he was going to put up with this game. Now that he was of a higher level than before, he tried to see if he could climb the trees and see if he could spot anything above them.

That would be a huge mistake.

He got to the top, yes, but then he slipped. He would manage to get his footing on one of the branches to prevent a fall...until the branch broke under his weight. He fell from the tree, screaming as he did, before landing face first onto the ground, right in front of someone who was clearly on their way somewhere. The consolation to this embarrassment was, Vigilon's HP didn't deplete to yellow or lower, as it was still green, though very close to halfway. He considered himself lucky to have survived the fall.

@Freyd - The Whisper in Shadows

 

Stats and Equipment:

Spoiler

Level:  38
HP:  760
EN:  86(Base[76], Energist[10])

Damage: 14(Martial Arts Rank 5[+7], Veriost[+6])[Base DMG is 15 when using Sword Arts]

MIT: 36(Silver Night)

ACC: 2(Leather Strikers, Dragon's Eye)

EVA: 2(Silver Night, Dragon's Eye)

 

 

Equipment:

[T2]Leather Strikers(Accuracy, Bleed, Paralyze)[Equipped]

[T2]Silver Night(Mitigation[2], Evasion)[Equipped]

[T1]Dragon's Eye(Accuracy, Evasion, Loot Die)[Equipped]

 

Items:

Teleport Crystal x1

 

Skills:

Energist

Gatherer

Searching Rank 1

 

Extra Skills:

Martial Arts Rank 5

Familiar Mastery: Fighter Rank 3

Meditation

 

Mods:

Ferocity(+1 base DMG when using Sword Arts)

Finesse Rank 3(-3 EN cost when using Sword Arts)

 

Edited by Vigilon
forgot that Vig's Total Accuracy was actually 2, and his MIT was Actually 36...

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*SPLAT*

Staring blankly at the man sprawled at his feet, Freyd slowly craned his neck up to see where he had come from.  Equally slowly, he looked back down, part of his mind appreciating the small imprint the man had made on the soft ground.  Summoning a small UI window, he wrote an '8.5' - his estimated rating for the quality of the man's dive.  He definitely earned a bonus for minimal impact splash.  Dismissing the window with a wave, as a few of the local NPCs chuckled, he bent down to look in on the unfortunate soul.

"You okay there, bud?  I'm guess this wasn't the intended results of whatever you were up to."

He nudged him lightly in the ribs with his boot, wondering whether he was still conscious.  Scratching the back of his cowl, more out of habit than any practical purpose, he looked around to see if anyone else was reacting.  "Did anyone lose a... uh... Vigilon?"

Edited by Freyd - The Whisper in Shadows

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Vigilon groaned in response to the player's first question. He could only guess that it was a player speaking to him, as the voice was male, and last he checked, the NPCs of this floor were Amazons, females only. The player nudged Vigilon in the torso, and he slowly started to get up. 

 "Did anyone lose a... uh... Vigilon?" The player asked.

Vigilon managed to get his footing, and looked up towards the face of this other player. "Exactly what makes you think the native Amazons on this floor own me?" He retorted. "And how did you know my Username?" He asked. This other player seemed to be clad in black leather gear, reminiscent of an assassin's getup. He'd seen one other with similar getup, but he couldn't tell or assume that there were any connections as of yet. After all, anyone can don the gear of an assassin, but it is the personality and actions that define whether or not it actually fits with them.

@Freyd - The Whisper in Shadows

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"I checked the floor logs.  We're the only two here at the moment.  Most people forget that option even exists."  He extended a hand to help the man up. 

"Sightseeing, were you?"  Freyd pointed to the tree canopy from which Vigilon had fallen.  "It must be quite the impressive view.  Even more so as it's rushing toward you at terminal velocity.  "What possibly possessed you to go all the way up there, anyway?"  His tone was curious, but was more of a cover to see if the man had discovered any predators or Amazon guards up there, and to know whether the safe zone extended to those higher boughs.  

It was at this point that Freyd realized how much the man resembled him.  Brown, unruly hair and reddish eyes, though he was substantially shorter than him.  It's was like encountering his Gemini again, except that it hadn't quite risen enough in the over during baking.  Pulling back his cowl, he revealed his own features to see how the man would react.

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The player would explain about floor logs, and that most people forgot it even existed. "Pfft, never seen that option in my life... you must have spoken with an informant or something that knew what my username was and what I looked like." Vigilon remarked. The player then asked Vigilon why he climbed the tree in the first place. "Surveillance on the high ground, so to speak. I wanted to see if there was anything I could notice above the trees, but...with not-so-supportive branches, slippery foliage, and...yeah, you've already seen how that turned out." He answered. The player would take off the cowl, revealing his features, and Vigilon was somewhat tempted to slap himself in the face. "You have got to be kidding me" He muttered under his breath. The player had some mild resemblance to Vigilon. Granted, this player's hair was more of a darker brown, rather than Vigilon's sandy brown hair, but both the eye colors were definitely red...and, as if to add insult to fate, this guy was seven inches taller than Vigilon. "If this guy is yet another cousin I haven't met yet, I'm going to lose it..." He thought. Maybe it was just his fall, or maybe he was having one heck of a beginning to his latest trip back in the lower floors.

@Freyd - The Whisper in Shadows

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Freyd's blank stare remained an inscrutable mask.  Vigilon's asserted assumptions didn't phase him in the least.  "Yeah.  Okay.  Sure.  Listen, I'm gonna go hunt this flaming tiger thing in the forest because... well... because why not.  Feel free to tag along if you wish, but I wouldn't take offence you if you preferred to stay here and practice your swan dive technique instead."  Taking an exaggerated sidestep around him, Freyd headed for the nearest palisade gate, tugging his cowl back up over his head as he went.  His hands were then neatly tucked into a pair of previously concealed pockets as he continued his relaxed pace towards his prey.

A party invite window spontaneously popped up in front of Vigilon, extended from someone named Freyd.  If what the man said was true, and no one else was on this floor, than it had likely come from him.  The accept and decline buttons flashed steadily as the countdown tracked slowly down towards zero.

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The player decided to get on with his business, which was fighting a flaming tiger... Thanks to the times where Vigilon and Krysta would share their experiences with one another, he had an educated guess as to what monster he was talking about. Vigilon was considering letting the guy go about his business, and then a party invite suddenly appeared in front of him. It had to be the player, it wouldn't make sense for an unknown username to randomly invite someone to their party. So...Freyd, that was his username. Honestly, a username like that could end up being used for one of Kanari's cruel jokes. He pressed Accept, and was on his way to catch up with his new ally, even if the alliance was temporary.

Vigilon kept a quickened pace until he reached Freyd. "So then, A flaming tiger, was it? I can only assume that you mean Byakko." He remarked. "My girlfriend, Krysta, fought it once, that's how I know the monster's name. She said it seemed to have some kind of reason for trying to burn the floor's local rainforests down, but she could only make guesses as to what the reason was." He explained.

@Freyd - The Whisper in Shadows

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Freyd shrugged in response.  "Not really sure why it's doing what it is, but the fact that it just keeps re-spawning to do it suggests to me that it's just another repeatable quest.  Was there something noteworthy about her encounter that didn't fit its usual pattern?  That might be useful intel."  His pragmatism was impairing his ability to banter again, but such was his manner, or lack of it.  Soothing egos and fawning deference were of no interest to him.  Too much effort and not enough profit were usually involved.  Let the gaggle of seductress loli squads that abounded in this place have their fun with such distractions.  He had goals and took the shortest or most efficient route towards achieving them.

"It doesn't sound like it will pose much of a challenge for either of us, but at least it will give us both a bit of a boost.  They're going to need all of us at the front, soon enough."

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In all honesty, it seemed kind of interesting to question the lore behind the flame tiger known as Byakko. "Seems like a repeatable quest to me. Krysta said that she seemed to see a fire of conviction within its eyes, as if...it was...apparently, doing what it believed must be done. One combatant sought to burn the rainforest, the other sought to preserve it; A clash of ideologies. The only thing I don't get is, how would burning the forest benefit the ecosystem in any way?" He noted. If there are monsters out there with lore, potentially backstory or reasons for what they do, and the purpose they serve in the floor they dwell in, that just might be a game changer... Freyd had a few thoughts on the matter.

"It doesn't sound like it will pose much of a challenge for either of us, but at least it will give us both a bit of a boost.  They're going to need all of us at the front, soon enough." He said.

"The Front..." Vigilon muttered, his expression changing to one of uncertainty. It had been one of the questions that burned in his mind for a long time. Was he actually fit to take the courage to step into the fray, right in the unknown, where the worst of all possible monsters dwelt? He was unsure, but there was only one way to find out, anyway.

@Freyd - The Whisper in Shadows

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He paused mid-stride when Vigilon posited the possibility of mob ideologies.  Freyd had been struggling with the concept of Aincrad's mobs developing self-awareness over time, and of Cardinal becoming a fully sentient AI.  The potential consequences, in light the their current conflict, were disastrous.  He'd spent the last week scouring every floor in search of leads, and had feelers out through the information broker network, plus his own agents out working the system for more data.  

"Many programmers are known for embedding their own philosophies in their stories and other creations.  I'm sure that the ones working for Kayaba were no different, though the implications of their biases now play out in very different ways.  Let us hope that their convictions are merely the execution of good writing and clever coding.  If it's more than that, we might all be in very serious trouble."

Freyd resumed his wandering search through the jungle.  Vigilon had given him something worth considering, which he appreciated.  He'd have to take that into consideration when their mission was complete.

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Freyd stopped upon Vigilon's words. He must have hit something that really got him thinking. He would give his thoughts on the potential answers to the reason why some of the monsters had reasons for their actions. "Well, I actually think... I've heard from some that the Cardinal system doesn't just keep the game running, that it is capable of generating quests, NPCs, sometimes events...It's like an AI Dungeon Master, when you think about it... There were ten thousand of us when the game started, how could Kayaba possibly keep everything running on his own? He'd need a stand-in to do his work, and I think that's where the Cardinal comes in... Well, that's just my theory, can't say it's true. Guess we're left to wonder what the Cardinal's role extends to..." The Cardinal was made by people, with the intent of keeping a world like this one afloat. It wouldn't be far-fetched if they added some learning capacity to it.

@Freyd - The Whisper in Shadows

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"That isn't what concerns me.  The functions you describe and run of the mill operations, like turning lights on and off, or keeping the air condition running above a certain temperature.  They are child's play compared to what can happen the moment you enable a device to rewrite its own limitations.  Imagine, for example, if a boiler could change its own safety parameter and cause itself to explode, or a car could choose to run a red light, or a plan could target a building on purpose."   A pregnant pause gave weight to the danger and immensity of the risks at hand.

"Kayaba may simply have a twisted and sadistic, albeit brilliant mind.  Maybe he's just nuts and wants to see people suffer.  At best, this is some sort of completely amoral social experiment to see what happens when you lock ten thousand souls in a box.  I dearly hope that those who die are merely waking in the real world, but we have no means of knowing."

Freyd resumed his skulking prowl.  Byakko would not be far now.  In the time they had been talking, the birds had gone silent.  Forgiven Disobedient was instantly in his hands, its long white blade shining in bright contrast to the dark warrior wielding it.

"Be ready."

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Freyd seemed to think that if the Cardinal got a mind of its own, that it would turn against all the players and try to kill them all. "Uhhh, why exactly do you think that'll happen? What would it have to gain from that? If we all died, don't you think Kayaba would shut it down? Cardinal may be a system that regulates, manages, adds and removes things, but I'm pretty sure that if it became self-aware, it would know that Kayaba is above it, and that its purpose involves us somehow...at least, that's my own two cents on the matter. Lock ten thousand souls in a box with an artificially intelligent Dungeon Master, I guess people find different things to be afraid of." He would say, putting in his own thoughts on the matter. Freyd seemed a bit paranoid with his "the AI are plotting to kill us" theory.

There would be silence in the air...silence and ashes, that is. If Byakko was burning down the forest, then...he wasn't far from here. Freyd noticed that something was up. Vigilon readied his fists, and heard a sudden shift in the flora, despite not actually seeing it. "Who's there?" He called out. "Show yourself!"

If it was Byakko, it was likely to show itself by pouncing on whoever it was targeting.

@Freyd - The Whisper in Shadows

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The roar came at the same moment that the beast came flying over a nearby fallen tree, igniting in mid-air as leaped towards them.  Freyd rolled and dodged its initial strike, but snagged his foot in some vines and had to forego his attack to cut himself free.

"Vigilon, NOW!"  He barked in warning and urging his companion to attack.  He'd fumbled yet again at a critical moment.  This was becoming a tiresome and suspiciously repetitive quirk of fate, which his mind natural took to be Cardinal's hands busily plotting his doom.  Free of entanglement, he raced to the same log from which their assailant had launched its ambush and prepared to line up another attack, should it become necessary.  By flanking the fire tiger, he also hoped to distract it enough to provide Vigilon with a better vantage for his own strike. Roaring his own challenge, as if it would help, he closed the distance as quickly as he could.

Spoiler

image.png.d8140cd1701e99e81350905a33d49359.png

[0] Freyd, The Whisper in Shadows | HP:800/800 | EN:77/78 (-1) | DMG:15 | MIT:48 | EVA:1 | ACC:4 | KEEN:1 | HLY:2 | BLD:12 (Rested)

BD: 1 (miss).  Freyd misses Byakko.

Byakko | HP: 150/150 | MIT 40 | DMG 60

On MD rolls of 9 or 10, half the damage dealt is instead dealt as burn damage, which ignores mitigation as a status. This has no DoT.

 

Edited by Freyd - The Whisper in Shadows

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Byakko showed itself, all right. It immediately leaped out of a tree it had destroyed, and it was leaping directly towards both players, as if targeting whoever was dumb enough to stay still. Vigilon rolled to the side, and Freyd found himself entangled, thus having to cut himself free instead of attack. Byakko turned its burning gaze to Vigilon. Freyd called out for Vigilon to attack, and Vigilon was already preparing himself to attack. He gave himself a fair enough distance from Byakko in case it made any sudden moves. Both combatants watched each other as Freyd got onto the fallen log that was the latest flora casualty of the flame tiger's assault. It would seem that both Vigilon and Byakko were waiting to see if the other would make any moves. After about four seconds, Vigilon and Byakko rushed towards each other. Vigilon's sword art, All Might, was fully charged, and he would strike the monster right in its face. The impact of the attack dented the flame tiger's head, and its limbs would break from the same force. Byakko would wail out in pain as it was flung several feel from the impact(in whatever way tigers do), shattering immediately after. One Punch. It's done. Now he'd won.

Vigilon simply stood there, his fist still in the air, for about five seconds. "I beat it...in one punch. I mean, I ain't even mad, but..."

@Freyd - The Whisper in Shadows

ID# 163105 BD: 4+2=6(Hit)

All Might: 15x15-40=185 Damage to Byakko

 

 

Freyd, The Whisper in Shadows | HP:800/800 | EN:77/78 | DMG:15 | MIT:48 | EVA:1 | ACC:4 | KEEN:1 | HLY:2 | BLD:12 (Rested)

Vigilon: HP 760/760, EN 75/86(-11) | DMG: 14(15 when using Sword Arts) | MIT: 36 | ACC: 2 | EVA: 2 | LD: 1 | PAR | T2 BLD

 

Byakko | HP: 0/150 | MIT 40 | DMG 60

On MD rolls of 9 or 10, half the damage dealt is instead dealt as burn damage, which ignores mitigation as a status. This has no DoT.

Edited by Vigilon

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Freyd patted Vigilon on the shoulder, praising him for his skill.  "You're no slouch in combat," he added.  "Thanks for having my back."  Scouring the scene as if looking for something and eventually settled on examining the fire tiger's crumpled form.  Strangely, it hadn't dissipated yet. The  trigger time for de-resolution could vary slightly, but this was now inordinate.  His hooded head bobbed back and forth a few times until he reached out and pulled open the dead thing's maw.  It shattered into a brilliant cloud of motes the instant he released it, striking a sharp contrast between his hard, kneeling form and the explosion of white surrounding him.

"Damn."  His head sank, as if in disappointment or pensive revelation.  "This is not good."  He tossed something over his shoulder, right into Vigilon's hands.  "I don't suppose that you've ever seen this mark before?"  It was a nugget, or hunk of charcoal; perhaps a token?  Embossed upon its surface was an image of Aincrad's tower-like profile, glowing like a red ember and struck through its centre with an obsidian sliver shaped like a sword.

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Freyd patted Vigilon on the shoulder and complimented on the skill he had shown in the fight. "Thanks." Vigilon said with a smile. "You're welcome for the tiger not going after you, I guess." He added with a nervous chuckle. Freyd would go to investigate the body of Byakko, which somehow hadn't shattered yet. Once Freyd pulled something out, the monster shattered then. Freyd tossed something over his shoulder, towards Vigilon. Vigilon caught it, and Freyd would ask if he had seen such a thing before. "...What the heck is this?" He asked, examining the mysterious hunk of charcoal with a fiery emblem. "I'm not sure what it's supposed to mean. I guess I'll hang onto it for now..." Vigilon said, before stashing the mark into his inventory. As he checked his inventory, he noticed something else in there. Probably a reward for defeating Byakko, like with other repeatable field bosses' drops. He pulled out the item, called <<Tiger Rage>>, and the potion appeared in his hand.

@Freyd - The Whisper in Shadows

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"I'd like the token back, if you don't mind.  It's proof of something that I'm seeing across various unrelated corners of Aincrad, related to our earlier conversation.  I'd really rather not have found it, but since it was here, I can't just ignore it.  At least, if you haven't seen it before, it suggests that whatever may be happening is keeping to the shadows, for the moment."  Freyd stood and dusted off his dark leathers.  So little of him was actually exposed that he could easily have been a ghost himself.  

"Do me a favour,"  he opened a quick UI and extended Vigilon a friend request, "if you see or hear anything related to this, give me a shout.  I'm going to need more information before I can draw any firm conclusions, or even begin to determine how to deal with whatever may be going on."  He held open his hand, waiting for the token's return, reddish eyes gleaming beneath his cowl.  Their shape suggested candid appreciation and hope, despite the more dour appearance of his garb.

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Freyd noted that the mark was a vital clue to a mystery he'd been delving into, and therefore he needed it. Vigilon nodded in agreement, pulled out the mark, and tossed it back to Freyd. Freyd would then send Vigilon a friend request, in case Vigilon ever came across something tied into the mystery he spoke of. Vigilon thought about it, then pressed accept. "I'll keep you posted, then." No sooner than he said that, he began hearing two other voices from nearby.

"I knew we should have spoken to the Guild informant, we could have made a beeline for the thing instead of getting lost last minute!" A male voice said. Players, they were players. "Do I look like an idiot? You were supposed to speak to the informant, stupid!" A female voice called out. Vigilon looked over to the direction the two voices were coming from. "What's going on over there...?" Vigilon muttered. Two players would emerge from the foliage, one of them saw Vigilon and seemed to have a question to ask. "Hey, do you know where the monster known as Byakko was last seen?" The male player asked. "Um...We just beat it...?" Vigilon answered awkwardly, not knowing what else to say. "Oh, well then, do you need that <<Tiger Rage>> that it dropped? We have a large-scale battle coming up, and we kind of need it a soon as possible, so if you don't need it right now, you could just hand it over." The female player responded. Vigilon grew suspicious. "And why can't you just wait for Byakko to respawn? What kind of large scale battle do you need it for?" He questioned. The two players had green cursors, but that didn't change the potential for suspicion. Both players were wearing plate armor on their torsos, and the female one of the two was wearing a red hood. They didn't seem like a very suspicious pair, but Vigilon heard the words they said, and he only wanted to make sure.

@Freyd - The Whisper in Shadows

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