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A note from Ringo Farr

Mm, that's 3 right there. I'm sorry for breaking up the post schedule, I'll try to keep it consistent until I hit chapter 35 or so

My Precious Things



I looked at everything on my coffee table for the millionth time in the past three and a half weeks. No one had touched a thing. On the table sat a small blue candle on a necklace a palm-sized compass, a layered steel pick, a green-gem pick, a leather bracelet, a solid chain necklace, and the knife I’d carried with me since Rusval. There weren’t many things on the table depending on what ‘many’ means to someone. However, they were my most valued items other than my guitar and plublass, most of them being things I planned on taking with me. However, Luce’s pick was the one I planned on taking as I’d long since retired the one Stellara made me. While I looked at my things one last time before packing them, I picked up the pick Stellara crafted and marveled at it for what felt like the last time. Letting go was hard, but it was a decision I had to make.

In the end I decided to take the metal pick into battle with me. Luce’s pick… It didn’t deserve to be lost if I died. Stellara’s pick was disposable, but not Lucine’s, and I felt as though that meant more in the end. After all was said and done, I headed over to Beth’s place and wondered how the hell I was supposed to know which one it was. Alana and Bethany had both said I’d just know, but I wasn’t fond of being left in the dark and not knowing where I was going while not being coated in armor? Not my idea of ‘bright’, in my defense, but I still wanted to see my send-off party since my friends had gone through all the trouble of doing it for me. Granted, I still wasn’t due to leave for a few more days, but apparently they just felt the need to make me feel appreciated and welcomed back into the group, so Bethany pulled out all the stops. I wasn’t sure what all was going to happen, but I was sure that I was at least going to have a little bit of fun.

The sight that greeted me in the north side of town… I’d never really gone there since I’d never had much of a reason besides getting a catalyst, but I quickly learned that it was a continuation of the estates where the Rhubarb Ranch Matriarch had stayed. I wasn’t sure if going there was a good idea anymore, but I was also more than ready and willing to deal with a problem if it arose out of sheer paranoia. When I got to the fourth ‘house’ from the final turn, I learned just why it was going to be easy to tell which house was hers. Every other place on the block was conventinal while the Sotan homestead looked more like a collection of mansions rather than one estate. The yard was greener and more full of life than the other yards I’d seen with plenty of flowers and a garden or three sprinkled along the stone walls. It was a beautiful little place that tickled my fancy and made me feel welcomed already, but as I came into the courtyard, I had a hard time figuring out which of the three mansions was supposed to belong to my friend.

I had plenty of time to figure it out, I just didn’t use it wisely and ended up getting approached by and irritable looking, stout Sotan man who seemed like he wanted to wrestle me. “Hey, whatcha doin’ here on my slabs n’ stones n’ land, dontcha know?”

There was no need to be mean to the guy. “I’m looking for Bethany Haims and our friends. I’m Alana’s boski.”

“Alana?” He asked, fingering his straight, bushy beard. “Huh, if you’re Alana’s boski then ya oughta be Beth’s pal, sure enough. Well, the house on your left there’s our parents and they like ta be left alone for the good and long.” He nodded, and I tried to remember him name. “Bethany’s place is that right there orange-y one with the shutters n’ the two gardens n’ the fruity smell to it. Mine’s the place back there with the clocks n’ gears’ n’ whatnot, dontcha know?”

“I know now. Thank you.” I extended a hand. “And I have to apologize, but I can’t recall your name.”

“Oh, I’m Harrehsin, dontcha know?”

“And I’m Gatian. It’s been a pleasure meeting you, Harrehsin.”

“And a pleasure to meet you, Trademaster. Take care in the coming battles, alrighty?”

“I will, my friend. Hopefully I help us win.”

“Hopefully don’t count for shit, dontcha know? Fight hard. Get up when you’re knocked down, and come back swingin’ every time.”

I gave him a nod and wandered off toward Bethany’s place, not quite smiling about his parting words. He didn’t seem all that hopeful himself, a little distraught below the Sotan cheer. IT was a firm kind of brooding that didn’t seem too dark, but I’d known happier-looking people to be crazy. Nihil Novi, and all that. Instead of focusing on things that did me no good however, I chose to wonder why Bethany barely had a Sotan lilt and her family was so pronounced with it. Curious, I decided to ask when I saw her and was forestalled from doing just that by Coma when I came in. Either way I didn’t really mind not knowing, and Bethany’s place… It was worth the walk, I’ll say that much. I’m not good at architecture or anything of the sort, but Bethany’s house was magnificent and seemed like I wanted to live in it. It actually made me like her a bit more since none of her other friends were so opulently wealthy as far as I could tell, and if she didn’t care about it, then I could respect her and her desire to live a normal life. I’d had the same problem and had wanted something similar out of my life on Earth with a lot of people assuming my life was cake until they got to know me. Suppose I felt her struggle in a way I just didn’t think I would’ve been able to.

A woman in some nice clothes came to greet me in a very polite, yet altogether unsettling way. I wondered if she was there as a maid or something, so I asked, “Excuse me, but what is it you do around here?”

She gave me a blank smile, her eyes not quite right. “Anything Miss Bethany doesn’t feel like doing herself, Sir.”

“... Like…?”

“Usually cleaning, but sometimes cooking. There isn’t much to it since the place rarely gets dirty.” She laughed airily, her entire being not seeming quite… Right, I guess.

I kept an eye on her for the remainder of the walk and she showed me to a room with two tall doors, announcing my presence before letting me in. I saw the look Aliss gave the woman before she disappeared back into the expansive space beyond the doors, but no one else seemed to care. Looking around let me see that there was an LV playing some form of date or whatever and there was also a cheese fountain. Coma and Hasha were making use of the spigot by creating a dish that I couldn’t remember the name of but enjoyed myself, and Alana was by my side in a heartbeat.

“Gatian, you’re late!” She huffed, giving me a playful look.

I looked at my watch, the one thing I’d let her buy me. “... I’m five minutes ear-”

“You’re supposed to be early to your own party!”

“Oh. Can we kiss?”

She gave me a puzzled look and then the kiss I’d asked for. “What did that have to do with being late?”

“What does anything have to do with anything? Connections are relative.”

That confused the shit out of her and I considered it a win. “What…?”

“Relativity, my dear.”

“Stop brain-fucking Alana.” Beth said from my other side, taking me by surprise.

“Stop sneaking up on innocent guys who don’t like being snuck up on.” I huffed manfully.

She gave me a look. “You don’t have to be early to your own party, but you are supposed to stay late, so don’t go home early on us, okay?”

“Is there going to be sexual debauchery?”

“Maybe if Aliss and Tara get drunk.”

“Or Li and Hasha.” Alana added.

“Or Alana and Aliss.” Beth said to me.

“That was one time and it was back in school!”

Beth shrugged. “It was fun to watch.”

“Speaking of fun, I’m gonna go coat myself in cheese.” I said, letting my voice dip.

Alana giggled. “Beth decided to go all out for her favorite guy~”

The short one gave her a look. “Coma’s my favorite, and you know that.”

“Ow, my feelings.” I chuckled, smiling at her.

Beth shrugged. “It’s really close, if it makes you feel any better. You’re second.”

“Ah, I can deal with that. Especially since you’re not really on the menu anyway.”

Her cheeks pinkened a little as she smirked. “Yeah, yeah, no one likes a greedy gal anyway.”

I glanced around us and behind myself to be sure. “So…”

Alana looked at me. “Is something wrong, Gatian?”

I looked at Beth and she seemed confused. “... Are you saying that you’re quote unquote ‘greedy’, Beth?” My question came out soft, and I made sure that there was no judgement behind my eyes.

Her eyes narrowed. “You read too much into stuff.”

“Ah, sorry.”

Beth walked away and Allie put a hand on my arm. “... How did you figure it out?”

I looked at her and saw a grim acceptance on her face. “She just said so.”

“... I fail to see how, but-”

“I don’t care, Alana. It’s a secret between us.”

She smiled warmly. “Thank you. Her family wouldn’t stand for it otherwise. Speaking of, They like you. They want Beth to try coming into our relationship.”

“Is it because Beth likes me?”

“No,” Alana laughed, “It’s because you’re a Vol-Master. You don’t collect a salary, you just stand guard in your home. It’s a very noble profession to the upper classes.”

“Really?” I assumed it meant Voluntary Master. “Being an Active Trademaster is less honorable than being a VolMaster?”

“Well, the active ones tend to do more suppression, and the masses don’t like government crackdowns at any level. When you came back from taking care of those bandits, it was… The town appreciated it, but we would have rather your plan been the course of action.“

“You-”

“There’s a reason the people from your squad are still respected in town. A reason people leave you alone. The survivors from Paulo’s Slaughter tell tales of a demon painting with a bracelet creatures of strife that tore everyone… Tore them all apart.” Alana shook her head and looked me in the eye. ”Yes, there were bandits that made it back, and… They said there was no one there that stood a chance against a blooded Grandmaster.”

I didn’t know how to respond. I knew what she was saying and I knew that I’d done my best to make sure that no one would ever find out about what had happened. “... Alana…I-”

The look in her eyes… It wasn’t that bad to see. “We all know… We all have different ideas, but… It all amounts to the same th-”

Coma threw a ball and it whacked me in the head. “Catch!”

I barely reacted. “Alana, I…”

She looked at the ball and back to me, breaking the delusion, showing me that the intensity of the moment was predominantly in my head. “... Okay, but you know we still love you, and that’s what matters, isn’t it?”

I nodded. “Yeah.”

“Goobski.”

“Yeah.”

“... Gatian?”

“Yeah?”

“... Are you okay?”

“Yeah- Er, fuckin’ yes, I’m good.” I chuckled, shaking my head as Coma came over. “I should’ve known people would figure it out when Paulo didn't come back…”

“Well… You were one of the two people in the entire muster that could have reasonably had the power to even damage him… And then there was the Arcana you came up with…”

“Damn, I guess it’s kinda obvious…”

“It was, and you came back with guilt written all over your face so clearly I wanted to get a rag and help wipe it off.”

Damn, Lana!” Coma laughed. “Didn’t know you were just now telling him all that.”

I couldn’t stop my face from heating up as Alana cracked a smile. “It’s about time he knew. There’s no point in letting him feel guilty or ashamed.”

“Oh.” He blinked. “I didn’t really consider that.”

“Hasha didn’t say anything until now.”

I facepalmed. “Her fucking boyfriend, Traves…”

“What?” Coma asked.

“He stopped coming to therapy a while ago. I knew he wasn’t coming back and I meant to talk to him about it at the tavern.”

“Yes, he’s doing better thanks to you.” Alana said cheerfully. “However, he mentioned that he thought no one was there for you other than myself and Hasha brought it up to me. You have too many friends to feel alone, goobski.”

Coma nudged my shoulder with a fist. “Yeah, man, and don’t think we’re dumb, my man. We figured out that you sevved Paulo when the week was over and he didn’t show up.” ‘Sevving’ was short for ‘sinking seven’, since Septurns bury their dead seven feet deep. It’s the number of the dead or something like that.

“Fair point.” I sighed. “Still, I’d he would’ve been useful in the battle coming up. I don’t regret killing him, but I see why I shouldn’t have…” I shook my head, the smile fading.

“The guys who were with him said he was a mondi. All you did was slay the mondi that was harassing actual Humans.”

“Guess I should’ve expected less from you than I did.” I smirked.

“Maybe you shouldn’t expect anything at all?” He raised a brow, smirking right back.

“It would be a favor to yourself.” Alana teased.

“I’ll do you a favor and make a direct deposit.” I purred.

Her jaw dropped, Coma’s jaw dropped, but he laughed. “Fuck, brove!”

Gatian!” She whacked me.

You liked it!” I protested.

“Oh damn! Alana, you a freak!” Coma boomed.

“I-I am not! It-It was the heat of the m-moment!”

I shrugged. “It thought it was good.”

She glared at me with no heat in her gaze. “And I almost let you come to bed with me tonight! Hmph!

I could’ve shrugged it off since I knew she wasn’t being serious, but I decided to let the emotions it would’ve hit show and my face melted into the perfect picture of Sad Gatian. “R-Really…?”

Alana caved hard. “W-Well… I… I guess it would be lonely without you…”

Coma shoved her lightly. “Don't get played like that, sizz.”

She gave him the Sad Eyes and he caved too. “But I don’t want to make Gatian sad…”

“It’s okay, Lana, I should’ve kept my mouth shut.”

Allie, as powerful as she was, turned the Sad Eyes to me. “Gatian…?”

I gave her a hug. “I’ll keep you warm and cuddled up good tonight, I promise.”

“That’s pretty femme, brove.” Coma commented.

“I’ll cuddle you too and stick it in the back of your throat.”

“I’ll bite it off.” He scoffed.

“I didn’t say I was going to stick it in your mouth.”

“How el- Oh” He stared at me.

I gave him a wink. “When this face is a’ showin’ ya better get ta runnin’. ‘Cause this gorilla dick Daddy is comin’ for ya.

“Gorilla- Boy, shut up.” He rolled his eyes and looked at his plate. “This is probably good now, so I’m gonna go eat. Keep being weird, man.”

“Thanks for asking Beth to host.” I nudged him.

“Eh, she was gonna do it anyway, she just needed a better reason than none.”

“Can’t complain. Did we bank granna meat?”

“Anything from the Melting Pot is here, man. She had them cater.”

“Dope.” I looked at Alana and she was already rolling her eyes. “What?”

“You know Thesuvians can’t really eat cheese, right?”

“Really?”

Coma nodded and speared some random meat and veggies with his fork. “Yeah, man. The only country where everyone eats cheese is Avalesce, and even then that’s halfway because they’re the melting pot of the continent.”

“That was a terrible reason.” I chided.

“Really? It’s why they’re called what they are. Because all the cheesy bits from Teh Se and Stalfisk all get tossed in the pot.”

“Cheesy?”

“Different connotations in different places and they all amount to the dregs of society. It’s not like Avalesce is a shining beacon, but the Chorets and Toddtonites really make the place suck.”

“Chorets aren’t all bad…” Alana said softly.

“There are some, but they’re usually too religious for their own good, Lana.”

I sighed. “Chorets aren’t bad to most River People, but still. If they find out you don’t have your Partner, things get… Bloody.”

“Damn, never thought I’d hear the day of a Choret not managing to kill a bad River Person.” Coma rubbed his neck. “I mean, I’m not saying you’re bad, but some Chorets can hunt down rogue Minotaurs solo…”

Alana furrowed her brow, but the party apparently decided to start and her question got waylaid as Hasha, Li, and Tara all showed up together. The drinking started with Soma distillate and moved onto alcohol once most people were either buzzing or high. True to form, Aliss started getting handsy and Tara started getting hotter the more she drank, breaking a sweat in the cool-ish room. As I watched my friends do their usual things, I started wondering just what would await me when I came back from the war. What I would be like. I wondered if I would still appreciate the laughter and the smiles the same, or if I would hate them as I saw them. I wondered if I would still love my friends the same knowing that I’d been pulled from peace instead of them to fight a war that wasn’t even mine by birth. I wondered if I would still be ready and willing to face my lover if I came back after killing something that didn’t live in fire. There was a lot on my mind and a lot on my heart, but as I watched my friends be happy and live on as if there weren’t people dying hundreds of miles away, families being forced from their homes daily… As I watched them ignore the reality I saw, I wanted to join them in living. I wanted to live alongside them, strengthening my resolve to come back as I fell into the smile on my face and wore it honestly for the first time in days.

Almost like clockwork, Aliss started her hijinks three hours into the party and it was still going strong with the eight of us all partaking in something or other, but we decided to calm it down. Half of it was because Li and Hasha were already doing it and we’d had to move the party elsewhere, but the other half was because everyone was fucked up from the floor up and Aliss was up to her usual shenanigans. However, they started on Alana and moved onto Beth after my vaski said ‘no’ and Aliss forgot to stop. I reminded her with a death-glare that she understood, even while lowkey fucked up. When she started on Beth, her efforts were well received and I couldn’t tear my eyes away for some reason, so I decided to rest my head on Alana’s shoulder and enjoy the moment.

I must have passed out one way or the other because I suddenly found myself in the dreamscape, alone and unhindered. After not having made a visit since the nightmares had come back, I was surprised to be lucid-dreaming again. A voice called out, “This isn’t right, mate. None of this is right!

I turned around and saw no one, but even as I thought about it, I realized I didn’t consider his accent British anymore. “You never came from Earth, did you?”

The man that came forth from the shadows… I felt like I already knew him, but his eyes and nose were all I needed to see to know that it wasn’t Max. “It’s complicated, but no, we technically come from the same planet. No, other than visiting I rarely go to Septural because the place pretty much runs itself…” He ran a hand through his somewhat long, wavy black hair. The frustration in his blue and green eyes was evident and he continued as I met my savior for the first true time. “Gatian… You keep getting boned. I got the last stretch nice and proper for you, but… I fucked up, Gatian. Your Fate…”

I looked around in the darkness, letting my eyes settle on him as I closed the distance between us. Then, since I was sure we were technically in my mind, I imagined a small deserted island with plenty of shade and a lot of beach to go around. We were in a cabana with two walls and a bar lining said walls. “You’re here to explain some shit, right?”

He nodded, going straight for some bourbon. I chose spiced rum myself to fit the theme and we sat down at a low table, The Brit starting off with hesitation. “... So… I shouldn’t have let you pick the art and skill that I did.”

“Because?”

“They were connected to prophecies individually and they both keep making new ones that make no sense. Half of the surrounding prophecies that drop on you, The Minstrel and The Bard, are only there because you wanted music. Moon River and whatever else,” He seemed incredibly strained, “are all decimating everything I do to make you a relatively normal guy… To just give you a good life before you go again…”

“And that’s your main job?”

“This time?” His shoulders sagged. “This time I just wanted to make something that didn’t go up in flames and end with someone being miserable with what they had-”

“And did they go through the same stuff I have?”

“... No? I guess most lived normal lives and just lost too much for themselves to carry on or whatever. The ones that have lived half the life you have had chosen to do so. You stumbled into it.” I was already chuckling before he finished the last part of his sentence. “... What’s funny?”

“I fucked up again. That’s what’s funny… Mercy,” I shook my head, laughing again. “One last good and proper fuck-up, right?”

He cracked a smile at that. “Unlucky to the very fuckin’ end, bruv. That’s a rough roll.”

“Nat-one, critical fail. So what’s wrenching the works?”

“The Fates you basically snatched up and someone you haven’t seen in a while. If you head south, you’re going to be found and there’s nothing else I can do for you then.”

“... Who?”

“Cosma?” He shrugged. “There’s been a couple of beings with the same Anima asking around about a River Man that freed his Partner on the fronts. If you don’t show up with a Choret or a Denosian that’s willing to lie and be your human shield…”

“... What if I shaved my head? Down to the roots?” I asked.

“... You’d look like a mixed-blood Choret.” He said softly.

“So just cut my hair and I’ll be okay since I speak the spoken and can just say I was raised in like, Laspone?”

“You’re too good at lying.” The Brit chuckled, looking a little approving.

“A touch of the same and truth in the game makes a lie spread like flames.”

“Shut up, fool.” He sipped the rest of his drink and refilled it with magic. “So… Don’t take any of those prophecies seriously, Gatian, they-”

I shrugged with a dash of honest emotion. “I forgot most of them. It doesn’t make any sense for so many to all be true about one person.”

“... Oh.”

“What’s your name?”

“That’s complicated.”

“What can I call you besides Britney?”

“Fuckin’ anything, honestly.”

“Uh… What about… Kevin?”

“Don’t fuckin’ call me Kevin.”

I raised my hands. “Woah, bro, way aggro.”

“You joke around a lot. Call me… Faith.”

“Protestant bastard.”

Faith rolled his eyes. “Whatever. I meant to tell you that I was sorry about Stella.”

“Alana has her perks and I like them better.”

“I see that.” He smiled again. “She’s a good one, but her Granny is going to gut you.”

“I don’t see why.”

“You nailed her descendant and might have gotten her pregnant.”

I felt my blood run cold. “I beg your pardon?”

“You didn’t think sex was just for fun here, did you?” He asked.

“... Life is hard.”

“I’m kidding, Alana wouldn’t have let you do it if it wasn't a safe day.”

Fuck you so much and just tell me what you came to fuckin’ tell me.”

“The Moon River Prophecy is real. Bast wasn’t lying when she said that she could smell it on you.”

“... I’m with Alana now. And Felix is my Companion.”

“Bast is old and forgetful. Half of what she remembers of the prophecy is lies and propaganda from old days and dark times” He rolled his eyes, taking a deep breath. “No… You… You’re supposed to-” Something dragged across my face.

“-essary?” Alana slurred.

I woke up on the floor with two sets of genitals very close to my face. The sobriety of my dream last long enough for me to remember the tares and risk the worsening arthritis for a quickie. “Hoarime.

“Wha-” Li started to fall on Hasha before they both sprung up, clutching their junk respectively. “Fucking fuck!

I rolled and shoved both of them away from me making them fall as I cast, “Rimeinol” Sighs and grunts of relief sounded from both of them as I got up. “Don’t do that. First and last warning.”

Alana grabbed my arm from the couch, looking at me with concern on her face. “Boski~

“Ah, you’re drunk.” I looked around and saw Coma and Aliss chilling while Tara and Beth were cuddling.

A little disappointed that I’d missed a worthy show, Alana was begging for my attention and my sobriety was failing, so I sat down next to her and wrapped her arm around me like she always tried to when we were alone. I wasn’t really comfortable with it most of the time since I don’t like being the little, but at the moment? I needed a hug and a continuous one was better than a temporary one. Hasha and Li got up themselves and complained about moisture and shrinkage, to which I replied that I didn’t give a fuck and that they should have known better. Alana cuddled me extra hard as Hasha and Li went back to their own sofa in the circle, so I gave Alana a kiss and she asked if I would sit in her lap like I did for her.

Now… It wasn’t an attractive prospect and she’d asked before, but I maintained that I was heavier than her and… That was pretty much it. At the moment I didn’t really want to. Seeing the love in her eyes and knowing that it was one of the last moments we’d have together before I either killed or got killed changed my mind. Swallowing my pride tasted like metal, but Alana’s lap was comfy, she was warm, and it was easy to relax on her. Having her arms around me was nice, even if the whole thing was more emasculating than I cared for it to be. Alana didn’t try anything with me in her lap other than cuddles and pecks, which were all received with a warm welcome. We eventually decided to find a room and get away from the party, so Alana reluctantly ended the embrace to lead me to a room as large as my entire rather decent apartment.

The bed therein was enticing to say the least, but I didn’t sleep with pants and neither did Alana, so we both left the trousers on the side of the bed. I folded mine and didn’t care if she folded hers, so I slipped into bed and she came in facing me. “Am I supposed to be taking a hint?”

“I wouldn’t mind being your little spoon,” she answered softly, the moons barely casting light on her shoulder.

“Would you rather be the big spoon?”

“... Yes, but-” I rolled over and wiggled back a bit, making her gasp a little and make her happy little noise as she cuddled up to me. “I knew I should have just asked!” She whispered softly, the joy in the tone pleasant to hear.

I took a moment to enjoy the feeling. “It’s not bad. Being held, I mean.”

“Isn’t it nice? I wasn’t lying when I said I wouldn’t mind being held, though.”

I let my hand rest on her arm, stroking it with my thumb as I said, “Don’t stick anything in my butt.”

Ew…

“Good.”

Time passed and we lay there, intoxicated but not quite tired enough to sleep it off quite yet. Eventually my vaski’s hands drifted from my chest to my stomach, from navel to waist, and then below the belt entirely. I wasn’t opposed to it since I would’ve said something before then, and it was nice to hear Alana voice hesitation to initiate something, just in case she was too loud. I pulled her hand away after a long period of teasing and stroking that left me aching, and my first idea was to adjust myself and roll back over. I couldn’t see her face, but I could scoot closer and wedge my spear between her legs. My endeavors earned me a kiss and I got to have a little fun for myself with Alana. She had the same idea that I had, but her plight resulted in grabbing a hard muscle and the one I grabbed was soft. I definitely felt like I got the better end of the deal.

Alana, being more forward due to her own imbibement, slipped me somewhere pleasant and we had a fun time from there, though I never stuck it in. I did, however, learn that Alana was not very good at fellatio, but she made up for it by taking instruction very well and learning from the things I told her. That being said, she was not a quitter and even made a show of swallowing as the sun rose. She also mentioned that my special sauce was tasty and that she wouldn’t mind doing it again sometime. It just so happened that she got tired around that time and went back to cuddling me before she fell asleep. It was a welcome move that I appreciated even more than the sexual favors, but there was also the fact that I just wanted a few more precious memories to take with me to battle. I didn’t know at the time, but there was already a final present made and ready for me that I was only going to get when we were preparing to depart.

Alana and I woke up first out of everyone and got to the living quarters of Beth’s mansion easily enough. Then Beth herself and Coma got up, followed by Aliss, Hasha, Tara, then finally Li. once everyone was up, Coma presented the gift from him, Aliss, Beth, and Tara. Beth funded the metals that went into the large shield-shaped locket, Coma made the casing, Aliss took the picture, and Tara learned and perfected some Denosian Luck and Safety runes that went into the thing. The locket was on a sturdy, slippery chain that wouldn’t let certain people grab it or take it off which was pretty damn cool since I wouldn’t get choked with the thing. However, Alana, Li, Hasha, and then Beth and Coma again decided that I needed something else, so they found some Pony Artificers that were willing to work with Hashelhuff the Arrogant, a Minotaur Smith that hated everyone in town. The only person that could really ask him for favors that I knew of was Coma and even then Coma only got so much. However, he and Alana got me a broad-bladed knife like I’d always wanted.

When they presented the locket to me, I was grateful and very much appreciated the light, durable container that held a picture of my friends and lover, even if it didn’t hold my Companion in the picture along with them. The thing was a piece of work to be sure and every intricate detail that had been engraved or cared in was masterful in my eyes, bringing the waterworks as I tried to hold them back. However, Alana presented the knife to me while my vision was blurry and I had to clear my eyes to see it. However, when I pulled the grandinite piece from its dark green leather sheath, I couldn’t help but stop the shit and marvel at it. The knife was made of a different, darker metal than the locket and it was… It was magnificent. The patterns in the knife were like Raindrop Damascus and caught the light with ease and splendor, making the piece shine and shimmer just before the shine went away and the knife turned greenish blue wherever the shine had been. It wasn’t a chemical reaction or rust as far as I could tell, but it was still cause for concern according to Coma.

“... Hey, man…”

I didn’t know what to say. “Dude… This thing is-”

“I’m coming with you,” my best friend said firmly, his expression daring me to disagree.

“No. No you’re not, Cacoma. They’re summoning the Masters. There’ll be a time when you need to fight for our home.” I put a hand on his shoulder, seeing the frustration in his eyes. “I need a place to come back to. I need my friends to be somewhere I can find them when I drag myself out of this. I love you like a brother, Coma, and there’s no way in hell I’m losing another person I love to those flaming shitbags.”

“We all been losin’ people, Gatian. We all want this to end. It’s not just your job anymore-”

“No, it’s not. But you know what? If I can’t protect my home, then I’d feel a lot better knowing that you, of all people, were here to do it in my stead.”

“Gatian, the knife says you’re dying inside. You don’t have to keep up the facade anymore.”

I let him go and smirked. “You’ve never met a real American, then.”

“I don't get it.”

I sheathed the knife and hooked it onto my belt. “This thing have a name?”

“... Okay, now I’m really lost.”

“So am I.” Li admitted among murmurs of agreement from the gals.

“The knife. Does it have a name?”

Coma looked at Alana who seemed to freeze. “I-I didn’t say anything!”

He looked back to me. “... How’d you know we named it?”

“Call it a hunch.” I chuckled, just having guessed at it in the first place. Why wouldn’t they name it? “So what did you call the beauty?”

Alana blushed brightly as she stammered out, “Th-The H-Ho-Homeward Blade…”

I smiled. “Homeward Blade… I like that. I like that a lot. Is it enchanted with Pathfinding or something?”

Coma gaped. “Brove, stop!”

“Stop what?”

“That’s creepy!

“Kinda.” Aliss nodded along.

“How so?” I raised a brow.

“It’s like you know what I’m gonna say before I say-” He froze.

Beth furrowed her brow. “... When can you ever tell Gatian about anything?”

Li scratched his temple. “Come to think of it, he didn’t seem all that surprised about the presents.”

Alana looked at me. “Gatian, are you Clairvoyant?”

I shook my head. “Nah, I picked the skill of being able to talk to people before I came to Septural. Basically the Gift of Gab. I kinda know what people are gonna say before they say it. It’s kinda handy, but it gets annoying when I can’t really get surprised in a conversation.”

“So-” She blushed. “You know what we’re… Thinking about saying?”

“Only if you really intend on saying it. If it’s just a thought and doesn’t eventually come out of your mouth, I don’t think I glean it.”

“Oh, that’s not bad at all.”

I shook my head. “Nah, it just helps me talk gooder better more of the times.”

There was a chorus of insults and jibes that I took with little seriousness if any at all, instead deciding to go home with Alana after bidding my friends goodbye. I hoped that Rachall wouldn’t be too upset about losing her resident Trademaster after all her bluster about not missing me in the slightest, and I wondered how Horaz and Zenu would do without our sessions. I hoped that my friends would stay together without me and that nothing would change before I came home. There was a lot going through my head that Alana helped clear out, but there was also plenty that I needed to deal with at the same time and the feelings were overwhelming to say the least. However, I still needed to pack for the trip to Om’s Halter further south to meet up with the rest of the Masters who were going to war…

Booksy… Life feels like a story again. This… This doesn’t feel real… My chat with Faith… I need to talk to him again, but I don’t know what he can really tell me… I need to know the Truth behind the Moon River Prophecy, and I need to get Felix off of my head, but the little guy is asleep and I don’t want to wake him up. He’d better not bird-piss on me again like he did years ago.

I know what I have to do now and why I’m doing it, I just don’t know if it’s right. I guess that’s just life, isn’t it?

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Ringo Farr

Bio: Rewrites in progress; Pm for specifics, otherwise enjoy!

Ringtail is the Panda, I'm just the guy that translates for him. Call me Ringo.

Ringtail takes donations of bamboo, eggs, chocolate crickets, and constructive criticism. Don't be mean; I hate swearing while talking to the little guy. Especially since the swear jar gets expensive and Ringtail's a cheap fucker.

Yes, Ringtail is endangered. No, he is not a pet, and it's demeaning that you would call a sentient creature such a thing, even if his sapience is lacking.

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