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[PP | F13] Regret & Reservation


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The sickening sound of the ground's sludgy surface suctioning to Elora's shoes made the player's stomach swirl with a nervous nausea. It had taken all morning for her to muster the courage to confront the worries that had been gnawing at her conscience for days...perhaps weeks even... It had all been a blur, from the moment that she awoke in the tavern, to now, as she trudged through the mire that would lead her to Angel's Point. What am I even doing?, she found herself reconsidering, He hasn't even tried to come see me. A sharp sting of regret pierced her chest in an instant. He tried to reach out to you, and you didn't even read the message. 

I was - I am so afraid...I didn't want him to see me after...after everything that happened...after how perfect it had been before...It was easier to pretend that that was all just a fling, or some kind of dream. I didn't want to reopen the wound. Either way...It's obvious that things are over...I fucked it up, and ran away agai -- Suddenly, Elora's forward foot slid out from beneath her, falling inward as mud rose to swallow her leg from ankle to calf. "AGGH! L-LET GO!", she shrieked in panic. Her fists reflexively slammed down and into its congealed surface, causing a spray to soak her face with filth. "I-It's ok, I'm not going under. It's ok -- I'm fine -- It's ok", she fearfully repeated the mantra as a familiar coldness began to consume her. Frantically, she lodged her gloved fingers into the ground, clawing and upheaving large clumps of silt until she could finally yank her leg free from its hold. It's not, she admitted as her thoughts were drown out by an ocean of tears.

 

Tag: @Freyd

Spoiler

Elora
Level: 31
Paragon Level: 3
HP: 660/660
EN: 100/100

Stats:
Damage: 23
Mitigation: 30
Accuracy: 2
Battle Healing: 33
Loot Dice: 1

Equipped Gear:

Skills:
2HAS R5
Light Armor R5
Battle Healing R5
Charge
Energist
Searching R1

Active Mods:
Stamina
Ferocity
Resolve
Meticulous

Inactive Mods:

Active Extra Skills:

Inactive Extra Skills:
Concentration

Battle Ready Inventory:

Housing Buffs:

Guild Hall Buffs:

Scents of the Wild:

Wedding Ring:

 

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A muscled, heavily callused hand grabbed Elora from behind, covering her mouth and whipped the rest of her harshly down into the same muck that had suctioned her foot into the ground.  What first resembled one of the shambling diseased humanoids that plague the thirteenth floor surprised her when it spoke.  Or, at least, tried to through a set of pearly clenched teeth and Scottish brogue so thick that most could barely understand a word she was saying.

"Urr ye trying tae bring doon hauf th' flair oan yersel'.  Shut yer gob 'n' wifie up, or ye'r aff tae git us baith murdurred.  Ye'r that lassie Freyd's ne'er gaun oan aboot, bit ceaselessly seems tae dwell upon, aren't ye?  Edwina, or somesuch, wannit?"  A shift in the ever-present miasmic fog that blankets every inch of the floor revealed tightly bound blonde braids.  The rest of the short, stocky figures form was clad in heavy armor that made her look like a crazed Viking on a flustering laundry day.  "Stoap glaring 'n' juist nod!  Ah will git yer shank oot, if ye kin keep yer banshee's wail silent fur a minute."

Raising a bushy eyebrow until Elora confirmed with a jostle of her head, Quip slowly released her grip and then turned her attention to the fastened boot.  With unexpected tenderness, following her abrupt arrival, she eased Elora's foot from its wear.  Then, switching back into furious rage mode, she reefed on the boot with all her might, causing her arms to bulged impressively until a lengthy, sickening *schlorp*  sent it flying upward with unexpected force.  It came crashing back down right next to Elora's head, splattering both of them with muck.

Suppressing a slightly maniacal chuckle, the stout warrior-woman held out her hand to help Elora back to her feet.

"A'm Quip.  Nice tae mak yer acquaintance.  Noo, let's git th' hell oot o' 'ere afore something tries tae sloch us.  Ye kin fill me in aboot Freyd 'n' a' his nonsense while we donder. Yea?"

@Elora

Spoiler

Quip
Level: 1
Paragon Level: 0
HP: 20/20
EN: 20/20

Stats:
Damage: 4
Mitigation: 6
Thorns: 9


Equipped Gear:
Vanity Curved Sword
T1 Rare Heavy Armor (MIT 1, THORNS 1)

Skills:
1hCS R1

Active Mods: none
Inactive Mods: none
Active Extra Skills: none
Inactive Extra Skills: none

Battle Ready Inventory:
Starter Healing Potions 9+50 HP]*3


Housing Buffs: n/a
Guild Hall Buffs: n/a
Scents of the Wild: n/a
Wedding Ring: n/a

 

Edited by Quip
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  • 2 weeks later...

It's -- Oh, it's one of the Australians, Freyd's friend who works at the shop, decided Elora as soon as the whirlwind of shock subsided enough for her gather her bearings. "Yergh --", she started unsuccessfully through the filter of a hushing hand.

"Edwina?!", snapped Elora as soon as the woman granted reprieve. She winced upon realizing that she'd neglected to heed to the aforementioned agreement. Sighing, she continued with a stifled whisper,  "Come on, at least I had the curtesy to remember your name. We can skip the introductions..." 

"Ye kin fill me in aboot Freyd 'n' a' his nonsense while we donder. Yea?

Elora hesitated, then slowly worked to return her foot into the hold of the mud-clotted shoe. "Thank you for helping me, but I'm really not sure that I should even be out here...I came to check on Freyd, but -- well, I don't know..." The shaken player rose to her feet, fashioning her spear into its holster on her back, "Does he even want to see me...?" She felt deflated, and even a little ashamed to be asking the question out loud, especially to Quip. Either she was being ridiculously over-pessimistic again, or she was going to receive an answer she'd rather not accept. Whatever the reason, she hated that she had laid out her fears, just like that. "Sorry --", she blurted, then picked a direction to begin walking towards, "I don't know why I'm feeling like this. I think I just feel some sense of urgency. I would normally be ok with just letting things happen as they should, but...." Her mind began to flood with images of the end, a trance that threatened to take hold of her all to frequently. "There's just not enough time to not figure things out. It could all disappear so quickly."

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A surprisingly kind and sympathetic smile swept across Quip's features, softening with the appearance of wrinkles around her eyes and creases at the edges of her lips.  She'd know the sort of overwhelming emotions that seemed to be plaguing this girl.  She's watched her sister die and lost herself to the grief.  That sort of thing took its toll, and for all her brutish, over-the-top behavious, Quip had a kind soul.

"There, thare, Eddie," she said, patting the taller girl gently on the shoulder.   "Freyd's bin a richt, mirk fankle tae, sin he returned.  Wilnae blether aboot it wi' a'body, save mibbie ye. Ah dinnae think he kens whit's richt or wrong in thae situations, 'n' he hasn't pushed fur he didnae wantae hurt you."    Quip rolled her vibrant blue eyes and helped Elora along by the forearm.  "You twa juist need tae learn tae blether tae ilk ither, 'n' nae worry sae muckle aboot th' rest o' th' world fur awhile." 

Wiping her muck-covered hands on her armor, Quip led them both back to Freyd Edges, nestled in the ruins of an ancient monastery to a race of people who had nearly faded from memory on the thirteenth floor.

"DINGO!"  She barked, completely without warning and with full drill-sergeant's authority. A lanky form fell out of a recently repaired hammock, crashing down into a pile of unidentifiable junk, like so many others strewn all over Freyd's shop.

"Whuh?  Who?!"

"Where th' hell is Freyd?  Th' baw juggler haes company!"    Quip grinned and beamed a smile at her younger brother, winking towards Elora with her eyes.   "Eddie's 'ere tae set th' brassic laddie straecht, 'n' hopefully fin' some comfort fur herself.  Noo, whaur is th' lout?" 

"He's... uh..."  Dingo blinked a few times, still trying to wake up and possibly mildly concussed.  “He’s down by the pond, past the slime farm, I think?”   The scrawny boy rubbed his head in a way that might also have been meant as a welcome to the newcomer.  It was tough to tell.

***

Translations

Spoiler

"There, there, Eddie.  Freyd's been a right, dark mess too, since he returned.  Won't talk about it with anyone, save maybe you.  I don't think he knows what's right or wrong in these situations, and he hasn't pushed because he didn't want to hurt you. You two just need to learn to talk to each other, and not worry so much about the rest of the world for awhile."

***

"Where the hell is Freyd?  The moron has company!  Eddie's here to set the poor lad straight, and hopefully find some comfort for herself.  Now, where is the lout?"

 

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Spoiler

Mega-slime farm (Approach).jpg

The trail down to the pond passed through a field of cherry trees that seemed to be in a perpetual state of blossom.  Fog clung thick to the air, dampening hair and sticking clothes to skin in the same manner as a September morning, after a night of rain.  Much of the floor outside of Angel's Point carried the same feel, but the added touch of pink set against ancient white limestone gave this place a more sublime and welcoming feel.  Quip stopped abruptly after the first flight of stairs down into the bowl. 

"This is the lenth o' yi''ll need me. Follow th' path.  He's likelie planning some sort o' invasion o' th' neist flair, or scheming oan howfur tae unbalance th' entire gam economy, or somesuch.  Ye ken howfur he is, glaikit dunce.  Guid luck, Eddie.   She chuckled, ending in a cackle that gave question to her sanity, but Quip was simply good natured.  She turned and patted Elora heavily on the shoulder.  Despite her short stature, the woman was surprisingly brawny and stout.  The semblance of a dwarf leaving an elven friend at a crossroads immediately came to mind.

Spoiler

Mega-slime farm.jpg

It didn't take more than twenty steps to find the edge of the pond, which was little more than a natural bowl that looked to have once been a memorial of some kind, now sunken and collecting water from the fog and rains.  Bits of worn, oddly-shaped stone stuck up out of the ground at irregular spacing.  A series of monuments formed a reasonably wide path that could be used to traverse the deeper areas towards a small island at the centre, where a single willow tree stood.  Its branches mirrored the mood the only occupant on the island, whose trademark cowl rested low upon his shoulders.  Freyd sat with his back to the trunk, facing away from the path, uncharacteristically oblivious to the route of approach.  He hadn't even heard Elora cross the stones.  His attention seemed focused entirely on the little red bobber floating languidly in the still waters, or perhaps watching the occasional tiny ripples ride a wisp of a breeze across its surface.  The rod swayed casually in his hands, and she soon understood why.

Freyd was asleep.

***

Translation: 

Spoiler

"This is as far as you need me.  Follow the path.  He's probably planning some sort of invasion of the next floor, or scheming on how to unbalance the entire game economy, or somesuch.  You know how he is, stupid dunce.  Good luck, Eddie.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Ye ken howfur he is, glaikit dunce.  Guid luck, Eddie."

"Thanks, Quip", she smiled, trailing off with a sigh as she parted ways with the woman and started to slink down the series of stone steps. They somehow seemed less slippery than before, or at least, in comparison to the sludge she had just finished trying to wade through. It was a nice change of pace, though Elora couldn't help but wish she'd met more resistance along the way -- an occurrence that could have convinced her to turn back. Despite her waning spirit, she arrived at the shores of the silent pond. Beside it rested a recognizable silhouette. Freyd..., she meant to speak, but somehow thought instead. He looked so...serene... Should I disturb him?, she wondered worriedly, It seems so...I don't know what to say... For a moment, this was all that she wanted, to bask in a purgatory of uncertainty. Here, there were no awkward reconnections or reminitions of their time before the storm which seemed livelier by comparison. It was just him. Just her.

She opened up her user interface, unequipping then reequipping the adventuring outfit she'd always worn. Somehow, It didn't seem right for her anymore. Maybe I'm not right for it, the thought crossed her mind. Elora shook her head, swiftly motioning to equip another accessory from her inventory. A dim ray of opal light rippled from her head, indicating that the red rose hairclip from Tanabata had braided and pinned back a section of her hair. Hopefully this helps, she huffed quietly before taking a seat beside her...

"Freyd...", she muttered with a gentle, but purposeful prod of the elbow into his side.

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A red sliver opened where once his eyes were closed.  Spinning away from her in a sudden flurry, Freyd wheeled and stood in a defensive stance, failing to realize that he was threatening to do battle while wielding a fishing rod.  The bobber, reeled by the sudden motion, bopped him in the side of the head, snaring its hook upon his cowl.  

"What the...?"

Recognition dawned in those same eyes as they settled upon the figure before them in the mists.

"El... Elora?"  Emotion flooded through the words even as his heart slammed hard, twice, against the inside of his chest.  A blink followed, then another, before his drowsy mind could process that this moment was even real.  Cardinal had played so many tricks that doubt had become ingrained. 

"I..."  Words failed as the oddly-deadly implement in his grasp clattered to the ground, the line twisting and snaring itself all around him.  Freyd didn't even notice.  It felt as if he was two inches tall, sitting at some control panel inside his own head, watching this moment from behind his own eyes.  Feelings surged into his throat all at once, swelling it shut.  He didn't know how to deal with them, except to frown, wondering what was going on.

Why did she not answer me sooner?

The question had been on his mind for weeks, festering in silence.  In this, he was too innocent to fathom any meaning.  It was too far out of his experience; too raw.  

"You're alive!"  A wave threatened to overwhelm him, again.  His shoulders sank, releasing bound up tension that he couldn't even acknowledge.  Doubts had been piling up within, shunted into some mental pocket for later analysis.  He'd buried himself with work, waiting for her to be ready, and hoping that his hopes to be reunited with her could still be real.  The strain had grown, threatening to split him in half, though he could never give voice to what it was.  Something just felt desperately wrong.  Instead, his knees gave out and he slumped awkwardly to sit upon his legs.  Pain welled up in his eyes, along with fears that he couldn't even voice.  The Whisper succumbed to the thing which, in all other respects, held no power over him.

"I thought you were..."

His throat swelled shut once more.

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  ♪  Islands Under Eyelids  ♪  

Elora instinctually threw her arms up and into a defensive maneuver, suddenly sensing that Freyd might unwillingly strike her out of sheer surprise. A stupefied inquiry indicated that he's at least partially been able to process that she was standing before him, and that an attack would no longer be warranted. "El... Elora?", she heard him speak her name and began to lower her guard.

"I...", they both sputtered as crimson eyes met with irises flooded by a cobalt ocean. "You're alive!", he shouted. She bit her lip and turned away. 

"I'm sorry --", she managed to choke out as a stinging dryness clinched at her throat and threatened to silence her. Suffocating, another wave of panic surged beneath her skin, causing its hairs to stand on end. Elora shivered as her senses desperately began to sporadically search for an escape. "I -- I shouldn't be here!", she proclaimed as definitively she she could through the filter of a shaking voice, "I was -- I didn't survive -- this is all wrong!" A gloved hand jerked up, wiping across eyelids before snarling, then ripping through the roots of her characteristically uncombed hair. Shallow, heaving breaths coursed through her chest as memories of the storm lapsed against her conscience. Not again, she pleaded with herself and with whatever cruel creator was still toying with them, Not now. 

Screams. Ceaseless cold. An eternal night.

A familiar numbness began to wash over and petrify her trembling body. I cannot run. I cannot run, Elora repeated frightfully. Her knees buckled beneath her, sending her legs slamming into the cool and congealed surface of the swamp's saturated moss. She clutched her arm and dug in with her fingernails, frantically desiring to console herself, to pry herself out of this waking nightmare.

"I am so afraid...", she admitted, small and defeated.

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When had he moved?

For one so aware of every miniscule action, so precise and methodical in his actions, so acutely aware of self, it seemed implausible to have missed his own motion.  Arms wrapped tenderly about her shoulders, Freyd's left arm cradled her back while his right pressed against the back of her head to bury her sadness into nook at his neck.  His voice, still absent, could offer no solace.  His eyes, pressed shut, could convey nothing.  Only the steady pace of his heart and pulse, the slow rise and fall of his breathing against her deeper, desperate gasps, could offer purchase against drowning.

Ironic that the steady drops of rain - clear, refreshing rain - should wash away the stupor and fear between them.  A deep breath carried with it wafting scents of dust and cherry blossom, and her.

"You're here.  You're safe."  His cheek pressed against her ear, the tip tickling him slightly and calling the slightest of smiles to his lips.  "You don't need to be afraid anymore."

Will you promise to slay all the monsters?

Every one of them, if I could.  Starting with you, Montjoy.

The shadow gave an inverse grin, his mouth transparent against a form of shadow, and nodded his approval.

"Tell me," he asked, gently caressing her hair without knowing why.  "Speak what happened and let it out.  It can't stay inside you."

He knew that truth well.  How many years had he buried his own burden?  How deep had he suppressed his own demons.  Confronting them staved of madness, as much as snatching his own soul from the very edge of oblivion.  Elora's voice carried the same tone of doom and dread.  She helped him find himself - a boy lost in a prison of cold, dark machine-like logic.  How could he not offer to help her face her fears, in exchange?

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