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    Jacob's Ladder
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    Guild Leader/Pillar

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  1. To say it had been a while since entering Macradon's shop was an understatement. Not only has the two players fought side by side a number of times since, but the entirety of Aincrad had been turned on its ear around them. As such, Shield no longer felt the need for such stiffness and formality as he had in prior visits. He approached the smith and fellow front-liner, raising the side of his fist to offer a tap in greeting to Macradon. "It's good to see you. I hope you're managing the chaos as well as possible." Taking a few items from his inventory, he placed them on the nearest open cou
  2. Before leaving the hedge behind altogether, he grabbed one more handful of fruit 'for the road,' though unlike the implication behind the idiom, he had no intention of eating any of them. "Thank you for being my guide once again, and for not trying to kill me this time." Nemo gave a nod, leading Shield the last little bit of the way to the exit and guiding him back to civilization. The two nodded to each other, which was more cordial than Shield typically was with NPC's, and he made his way back towards the main settlement of the first floor, The Town of Beginnings. As he made one la
  3. Taking his winnings, Shield put a hitch in his step and picked up the pace. He had very mixed feelings. Checking his HUD, it seemed his experience from searching was close to getting him his next Gatherer rank. This wasn't anything to sneeze at, though the further he walked to the exit the more the weight truly settled in as to how much grinding was in his future. "You sure I can't convince you to leave your treasures behind?" chimed a familiar, slightly anxious voice. Nemo was at Shield's elbow, greeting him with a half-joking smile. "'Fraid not," Shield quipped back without skippin
  4. Regardless, Shield felt he had accomplished about as much as was reasonable for the trip. Fishing and chest finding, though usually lucrative and his primary plan of action, was no longer a valid course of action. "I will miss the returns, though I will not miss the lack of movement as you sit in one spot watching the bobber, nor will I miss the battles against bigger fish," he scoffed, recalling his many such battles. "Best I keep to my lane and do the new gathering thing that requires no skill point investment." He took the opportunity to grab up a few more melons before deciding
  5. The patch from which the melons had sprung was not short by any means of other similar produce. Just in the immediate area, Shield managed to find another three of them and in very short order. Much like the other produce found in the garden, these were nothing like what one might find in a grocery store. They were a deep velvety red on the outside. Of course, there was no telling what they looked like on the inside and Shield was not about to crack one open to find out only to waste the item. Out of curiosity, Shield looked through his inventory to see what his haul thus far looked like.
  6. As he now had flipped to the exact opposite, he stopped looking at the ground entirely, merely exploring and making note of the strange birds and odd herds of fiercely built but currently contented creatures that had surrounded him this whole time. Of course, as one does on occasion when not watching their feet, Shield felt his toe catch on something had and heavy and he toppled over. In the real world, this would have hurt quite a bit, but in the moment, all that was wounded was his pride. He thought he could hear Nemo chortle, but he couldn't be sure. What he could be sure of though wer
  7. The half of the garden where he had started was beginning to fail him. He wandered, stopping here and there at a stand of trees or in a clearing, but each time yielded the same results. He didn't know whether his initial luck had been unusual, if the garden would only yield so many finds in a set amount of time, or - as was most likely - if he had simply hit a stroke of bad luck. Regardless, he began to slow his gait, taking a moment to take in the sights around him. Once he looked up from the ground, he was reminded just how unusual and diverse the fauna was here. Those present were peac
  8. As Shield inspected more of the mounds, he quickly found that some were far less along in their growth cycles than the first. A second mound had far less plant growth, and as he dug down into the soil with his hands he found that there was only one or two tubers to speak of. He took the largest of them as this was the only one with an item tag. The rest of the mounds were in much the same shape as this second one had been, so it was very clear that his luck would be similar if he continued to inspect them. Moving on from this spot, he continued to wander. Out of the corner of his vis
  9. Shield took the long way around the garden, leaving the pond and hedge behind. There was a collection of mounds of tilled soil over by a stand of willow trees, and he decided it looked like it was worth a look. Sure enough, the mounds seemed to be some kind of planter, where creeping plant life spilled from the tops of the mounds and crawled across the garden. Shield knelt beside the nearest one and investigated, digging into the soil with his fingers. At first, he was sure he had found a rock, but upon closer inspection, it seemed he'd found a small, hard tuber. The greens of the plants
  10. Before long, Shield found his eyes had closed. He had not fallen asleep, though he was probably closer to that mark than he would have liked to admit. As nice as the sun and the grass felt, he couldn't allow himself to be so vulnerable. Not anymore. While I might have been nigh unkillable before, the new Aincrad is not so forgiving. I'll have to be more steely. He glanced down at his wrist, where a certain small, ornately colored snake had wound herself. She once again unhinged her jaw in a mighty yawn. "I'm holding you responsible for that almost-nap. If you weren't here making me s
  11. With those thoughts in mind, Shield set out to find a new spot to gather. Wandering across the grounds to find more goods, he let his mind wander as well. The grass beneath his feet was soft and welcoming, and eventually, the softness tempted him and he took a seat, looking out over the water of the various nearby ponds. He found himself thinking of friends. He had seen very little of them lately. More to the point, he had begun adventuring with an entirely new player. Aside from the jaunt through Valhalla, all of his interactions with Freyd had been in the previous week. Still, their par
  12. Moving aside the next branch, Shield found another small cluster of fruit which he happily pilfered. It was like being a kid out picking berries from a wild berry patch, stuffing them greedily into his pockets. However, he was no longer a child, these fruit may somehow end up saving someone's life, and he [hopefully] would not end up with a pair of ruined pants. With his sweet gains stowed away, Shield was left with nothing but a very empty hedge and a dead-end set of plans to expand his gear. "At the moment, I will just have to plan to have a few different pieces that I can swap around o
  13. This spot on the hedge was beginning to dry up. Shield migrated a few steps down and although the new spot was not quite as plentiful, it was still not lacking fruit. One by one, he picked them and added them to his growing pile. "Looks like I'm going to be giving some poor fruit merchant far too much of the same item. I might have to spread the love out between a few different players." At this point, he had more or less run his thoughts dry on the matter of his gear, and he would need to let those ideas tumble around for a while. "It's all fairly moot for the time being," he sighed. "Un
  14. He continued to relieve the hedges of their curious fruit, taking them out by the handful. As his hands worked, so too did his brain. It was a twisting and turning train of thought, but one that he did not entirely hate. "So let's play with that notion," he continued aloud, doing his best to process the confusing train of thought. "So to go full defense, it would require that I have a weapon. Therein is the crux of my dilemma. I would need to either make sure that I have a sword and no shield or else have an alternate shield that has healing. And I've just chased my tail in a full circle.
  15. The hedges turned out to be a gold mine - or rather, a fruit mine - or even more accurately, a fruit-bearing plant. Just beyond the outer leaves, the inner branches were heavy with more of the same fruit. As Shield picked them one by one, he tried to work out the most effective way he could trace a path from one set of items to another, allowing him a single activation of quick change to trade out items. Best case scenario, it would require him to ditch a sword and shield for another sword and shield or a two-handed sword. It would not allow him to ditch a sword and an armor for another sword
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