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The Man, The Myth, The Murderer

There was a lot to be said between my journey and the places took me down an offshoot of the River of Rebirth and a lot of it was amusing. Gloss was as steady a travel companion as ever and had taken up to riding next to me on the boat to Ilpturn, as little as I would’ve liked her to do so. She usually tried to sit in my lap at least once a day since she was allowed to do so with me under Max’s word, but even then I still had Alana to go home to and I didn’t want a past flame to ruin the one I had waiting for me in my home. Marissa and Gloss always included me in their chats because I usually had a song or story to go along with whatever we were talking about, but after leaving Wilting Halter with them, I couldn’t help but feel like I was their bodyguard. Marissa had made it clear that she was not going to the front lines in any meaning of the word, but Gloss was all too happy to talk about how she couldn’t wait to see some action for herself. She’d long since changed from the terrified little thing that had seen my Mentor give his life for us, but I wasn’t sure if it was for the better. Gloss seemed like a regular psychopath at times that was barely kept in check by who she used to be, so I decided to ask Marissa about it when we still had a day’s travel between us and our destination.

I caught her on the main deck while Gloss was sitting around the back of the long, somewhat shallow ship. It had a sail and whatnot, but there wasn’t much reason for it outside of trying to tack up-river, which we weren’t doing, but Marissa was fond of feeling the wind that came off of the large sheet for some reason. She stood there with a couple of the ships crew and a passenger or two that were going their own ways. Not wanting to interrupt, I came by and waited until someone asked me what my specialties were to say anything. There was plenty to say on the topic, but I didn’t want to let too much slip, so I just said that I was an Arcadine with tricks up my sleeves. It made me a little popular with some of the people who’d mentioned Arca earlier before I came over, but Marissa was all too happy to tell them that I was some kind of Archmage in the making and told them about how I could use my catalyst easily without it being attuned to me. I didn’t see what the fuss was, but apparently it was worth something to the Captain since he offered to make me a rich man if I would help enchant his ship in the next port. I agreed to it since he basically told me that I’d be the battery and someone else would be doing the real work, but even then I forgot what my Terru Rank was.

Marissa and a few others that were going to Ilpturn assured me that we were going to be tested and our Muster Ranks adjusted based on what we’d done. They wouldn’t just automatically know like with hospitals since they needed a more comprehensive look into someone’s mind than just the last three or four days, but I didn’t need to be told that we were going to have that done as well. The only thing they group didn’t tell me about Ilpturn was what to expect of the town itself, so I decided to ask the Captain when I had time. Outside of that, I found a polite moment to grab Marissa for my question.

She smiled when we stopped in my room below decks, giving me a strange, amused look. “Don’t tell me you have a thing for Thesuvians.”

“Kinda, but that’s not it,” I said softly.

“Is it about Gloss’ vestigial thing?”

“She doesn’t have a dick, but she does have River Person levels of PTSD from what I can see.”

“... Oh.”

I nodded. “This war isn’t going to help her. We need to get Gloss to Max and see if he can help her at all or otherwise find a Counselor that can handle her. I don’t know if-”

“There’ll be one in Ilpturn, but… What makes you think Glossy has post-trauma stress?”

“She jumps at loud noises and she never used to. There’s a look in her eye when she talks about hurting people. She’s more forceful than she used to be, but more reserved in other ways. Gloss is different from when I left her, Rissa.”

“... Oh... I guess... I guess it’s just been a long time since I knew her that well… This is the only time I’ve ever really gotten to know Gloss in the past few years.”

“That’s not a surprise. You guys said your parents divorced when you were still young, right?”

“Well, Gloss’ Dad split from Mom. I’m pure Thesuvian, she’s half Thesuvian and part Sotan.”

“I should’ve known that, but still. You two are absolutely sisterly, so I think that your support and corrections could go a long way into helping her become a more… Psychologically sound person, I suppose.”

“Ah… So why do you talk like a Lasponian sometimes and then use Thesuvian and Amanese words at others?”

“Because Lasponians basically speak in ebonics half the time and I’m half American Black. I know that means nothing to you, but I legit feel pretty comfy around Lasponians because they remind me more of the family I grew up around. My brother from here is Lasponian.”

“Ah, that’s really sweet! It’s nice that you found your own family here, even if you… Oh, I shouldn’t-”

“You’re fine. I’ve been here for years at this point.”

“Oh, really? It must be nice to be a Day River Man.” She smiled.

“Moon Man.”

“What?”

“I’m a Moon Man. Look at my eyes and hair.”

Her jaw dropped in a second. “You don’t dye your hair?”

“No, I never have either. It gets cut and looks like this.” I flopped some of my silver-tipped locks.

“Yeah… You’re… You’re special,” she said softly

“I try.” I scoffed. “Are we going to talk about something else, or-”

“Have you ever heard of the Moon River Prophecy?”

“Yeah, in passing.”

“... Can I tell you all of it?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

She cleared her throat. “Okay, it’s a little long, but it’s been passed down from many Thesuvian families over the years since it’s the main one for the country. Are you ready?”

“As I’ll ever be.” I grinned a little, kinda of amused.

Rissa nodded and started singing the prophecy as I’d half expected. “Oh once there was a lad so young, tall, and strong! His kindness knew no balance but his luck was surely wrong! He fell up from a bridge so high and as he fell he saw the sky but not for naught he wondered why~ Why he was falling. If the sky would hold him close then he woould surely know the most, but from his post he did fall~!”

It barely made sense. IT was definitely a Septurn song, and Thesuvian as hell at that.

Down below the river, he sank and breathed, for what he could not swear to do was what he would truly need! A second chance to live a life he did not take heed, asked for two important gifts and never knew he was to lead! The other side held a river much like the one before, except he was coated and mud and drowned before the shore.”

“What?”

“Shush. His Partner ever beautiful would be a familiar sight, but what he would never know was that she possessed such might. Abandoned once already, twice came to call, then all alone he found the man who brought terror far. Learning and growing should the Moon’s River ever flowing happen to fall apart, there would be another meeting of the Moon’s faux heart. The two would grow together and surely grow apart, for the Moon River knew not who could hold his HEART~! A life of peace he shall find and found yes he did, then the flaming fires came to ask him what he did. Without an answer he would fall, but an answer he surely had! ‘What’s always there and never rises, comes in many many sizes, could love life too but what about you? Can you shoot the moons?”

“The fuck was that!?”

“... The song?”

“The fuck. Was. That!?

“Th-The prophecy…”

“Goddamn, that was a terrible, terrible song. No wonders everyone says music critics here are harsh! You fucks butcher everything you sing! I thought it was just the Avalesch!

“That hurts, Gatian…” She rubbed her arm.

“I’m kinda sorry but not really to be honest with you. You could have just said the prophecy since you know Septurns can rarely sing.”

Her lips started trembling. “I’m the… My family says I’m good.

I stormed over two steps to grab my guitar, and glared at the offender with heat and fury in my gaze. “I’m gonna teach you a song and you’re gonna fuckin’ learn it.”

“O-Okay…”

I started playing Somewhere Over The Rainbow because it calmed me down, but I was still pissed at Marissa for singing off-key, off-pitch, and without rhyming for most of the song. She was actually a decent singer once I got her to listen to herself on a short recording, and her voice was definitely good for duets. I taught her a few more songs and laid down some true, honest compliments for her to pick her ego up with since I’d slapped it so hard. In my defense, she was really annoying and so was Gloss, so I kind of just snapped at someone for making a mess out of one of the things I loved most in the world. I still felt bad even if I could reason it away, so I tried to be nicer for the rest of the trip to Ilpturn. There was just the fact that the boat was boring and there wasn’t a lot to do or much money to earn outside of doing what I was already doing for most of the day.

According to my audience, my songs got a little messy with Marissa and Gloss singing along, but they were still good to hear, even if they weren’t willing to throw money at me for them. I played well into the night for the last good time that a lot of us felt like we were going to have, keeping the spirits high for the last piece of our journey. Arriving in Ilpturn was a somber, solemn affair that had most people looking like they were about to go meet the reaper themselves. Instead of letting the mood settle onto my group, I kept everyone busy by asking them questions and making everyone check their own and each other’s crap. As it turned out, my magic compass was missing and Gloss had it, but that was the only thing that was worthy of note. She didn’t try to steal it or anything and had found it herself, giving it up easily. I used the compass to point us in the right direction and idly wondered how Gloss had gotten my compass until I remembered that she’d used it as a hand mirror for a little bit. I hadn’t been suspicious for a second and that was a little worrisome. My absolute path to finding my way back home had nearly been taken from me and that was not to happen again. I looped the compass on the the chain I wore around my neck, the shield protecting and the compass guiding me forward.

A brief moment passed as my trio walked alone. I say that because we were fucking bom-barded with people asking for directions since Ilpturn was Flistian and therefore set up like a Goddamn labryinth with less floors. That, and the Avalesch were notorious for collectively having a terrible sense of direction, and so did most… Septurns in general… I didn’t think about that too hard until now, but unless someone had been led somewhere, they usually couldn’t make it to the place I asked to meet them, and yes, I am talking about my friends. And Luce. And Max for that matter. That’s probably why most towns had simple layouts in Avalesce as a whole and from what I’d seen in Thesuvia. I hadn’t really been deep into any Flistian towns when I’d been traveling up the River, but that’s because my happy ass took the mountainous, lonesome road that no one else fucking took because it was shitty.

As we walked and lead the horde through a town I would’ve liked to have seen before I got to fu- You know what? It’s not worth being this mad over. I saw the town with an unnecessary amount of Masters and their posses following me and my meager trio, so I lost myself to my thoughts. In hindsight, I’d focused in on the fact that I could have seen the town if I’d been less impatient and that had irked me. Yeah, the mountain path was shorter on foot, but shittier by many vast, winding, rocky, ankle-rending miles. Half the reason I was able to go toe-to-toe with Coma in a straight brawl (with gloves), no holding back, was because my footwork was Ibex-inspired. Even if it had helped toughed me up and make me a better fighter, I still didn’t like the fact that I had calluses on my feet thicker than the ones I got from working on that damn ranch in Brazil. And the farm in Montana. Montana was a bullshit punishment in the first place for being bisexual, so thanks Dad.

God, I’m getting rambly and angsty…

Yeah, that helped. I just looked at the shield and the picture inside. The quote they had inscribed for me. ‘Chosen Family is the Best Kind’. It was short and sweet, and it said a lot about the life of a River Person. I’ll get to why I’m stressed in a sec, Booksy, it’s just been a long couple of days.

Anyway, so I, and I do me I alone, got the mob of people to the fucking recruitment office. I was the first one in line because Septurns are generally respectful like that, which was pretty nice. That being said, the second the Bricc lady who looked at my tablet, she gave me a dirty, filthy look. “... Seriously?

I’d yet to speak to a native Flistian. The pure Française Arrogance in her voice made me want to shoot her. With a Stop-Shot, mind you. “Are you going to ask for an explanation or am I expected to give one?”

She was obviously so Flistian, but she was also only a few inches shorter than me and I’d never seen one so... Ripped. Or intimidating. The brow she raised flexed her entire forehead and popped three veins. “You trying to start something?

“I am promised to someone else, both in a sexual sense and in a deathly kind of way. I’m not trying to die, I’m trying to fuck up some Char.

Her face went from Southern-Caucasian-Gal-With-a-Tan to beet-red in next to five seconds. “Do you think we need you for that?

I shrugged and started on the breathing, leveling out the Terru flowing through me. “More than a sane army needed Paulo, yeah.

She gave me the four full breaths I needed to float into the Grata-non-Aquix mindset, which was enough to avoid the worst of her first punch. However, she seemed to be a little more physical than your average Choret, evidenced by the fact she landed two into my chest before I could pull my gun. I got the distance I needed to whip out my wand, but it wasn’t good enough. “Oh no don’t! Fight like a Master!”

I just didn’t have enough time for a harmless one, so I tried to shield. “Fulma-” She was halfway to me. “-cosa-” The woman leapt toward me and I almost panicked. “-doma!

“Rraa-” She smacked into me and blew my ass away. Instantly, life was pretty fucking bad but it got worse fast.

I hit the inside of my shield at speed and bounced off of it, popping my back in multiple places with the force of the impact. My breath was driven from my lungs and the world darkened around me, but my shield would only hold as long as I would. I had to cling to consciousness if I wanted to stay alive, but the woman was at my shield. She pulled back a fist wrapped in a studded glove and I felt myself smile. The second the lightning in the shield hit the sweat of her hand, she was stuck, slowly being electrocuted to death.

‘Is that who you are now?’ Echoed in my mind.

‘There’s a war on, Charlie Brown. Everyone’s dyin’ in the summer. Pray to God for a little more spring.’

‘... That never used to be you.’

Guldis” I spat, blood coating my lips as I coughed the Arca out. She was blown back hard, but she would probably live. ‘Still not me.’

‘... I’m glad. Don’t lose you.’

My darkened vision faded further. Breathing was agonizing. Everything hurt. ‘Heh. Yeah. Thanks for the reminder.

And then I fucking blacked out because I had a punctured lung, mostly broken ribs, multiple fucked up vertebrae, and one helluva concussion. However, Erina lived. The super muscular woman who worked out too much and took everything as an offense? Yeah, she lived, but Fulmacosadoma was an Arcana level shield, and she’d touched it with mineral-laced water on her hands, soaked into her gloves in the Ignitice (Summer) heat. Erina was diagnosed with treatable brain damage, but there was now an arrhythmia with her heart beating slightly slower than was supposed to be healthy. However, my medical care had been fully paid for by her pension and I was almost ready to go after three days of decent attention from a few doctors. Septurn method for healing bodies worked just friggin’ fantastically, but their stuff for fixing the mind was… lacking. Mental health really wasn’t a focus in Septurn life, but you would fucking think, right? Apparently just wasn’t anything they could really do with the mind without potentially messing something up horribly. I knew from Lahgo there was no way to touch the Anima itself, but brain damage?

Anyway, it took two and a half days for my head to fully adjust back to a level where I wasn’t frequently dizzy on my feet or getting irritable for no reason. The third day was when I felt like me again, and when I felt like me, I played music. Maybe I’d been so testy because I had a song I needed to sing, but it was only for the right audience, and that was the person who’d taken care of the damage they’d caused. Erina was in and out of consciousness during my stay at Yoad’s Memorial, and yes, I do remember Joad’s clearly. Most hospitals were run by Sotans, and Sotans worshipped Patron Saints with similar, stupid names I never bothered to learn. In any case, I wasn’t allowed to see Erina when I asked because the nurse in charge of her thought I was trying to kill her. While in a hospital gown.

I allayed her fears by getting pissed off and Silvertongue-ing her earholes in a secluded spot because I wasn’t in the mood to explain it rationally. From there, Attendant Loomil opened cans of mini-sodas and poured them directly into my earholes by being glad to talk to a Avalesch-reborn River Person. While we traveled back to my room to get my guitar and then to Erina’s to make some music, she told me all about how the fight had gone to the papers. And she chose to tell me that anyone who had seen the fight or read the blow-by-blow wanted there to be a rematch since it had technically ended in a draw with both of us out of action. It wasn’t my favorite situation, but there were worse ones to be in.

When we got to Erina’s room, I could see the conflict in Lumil’s eyes as she struggled to open the door. It wasn’t locked, but there was obviously a part of her that wanted to protect her ward more than she wanted to help me. “Here, let me get that for you,” I said softly.

Lumil backed away and shook her head as I slipped in. “Wait a sec… Hold on!”

I looked back, beginning the opening notes to a new song. “Yeah?”

She stared at me. “... Whatcha doin’?”

“Singing. Stick around.” Turning back to Erina annd her semi-conscious, confused form, I began.

Gifted Treasures by Gatian Gauner.

Verse 1

It’s been a long time, since I’ve your smile

And I want to know where it’s gone

If you take this one from me

I promise it won’t be long

Bridge the gap and mend the break, con-nections built won’t fall away

Yesterday has gone and past

This pain was never meant to last

But I still remember your smile,

Though it’s been such a long while

Innocence was left behind

These memories just won’t rewind

Can’t relive all the brighter days

So I trudge through and make my way

Chorus

If you ever thought to crack, to fall and stumble looking back

Got something to say to you

You sicken me for not pushing through

Solo

Verse 2

I once thought the walls of Jericho

Would fall so quickly to your heavy blows

Here you lie so deep in your deep regret

For what did all the pain earned pain beget?

Get back up or I’ll kill you

Keep on fighting the war’s not through

You can’t sit and wait and wallow

I’ll choke you out of your bullshit sorrow

Hear my song and raise your fist!

There won’t be a Char we’ll miss

Laying waste to the flaming fucks

Septurns and River Folk; Rise up!

Chorus

If you ever thought to crack, to fall and stumble looking back

Got something to say to you

You sicken me for not pushing through

I let the song fade, my breathing a little labored since my lungs were technically on the mend. However, Erina was sitting up. Her back was straight, there were tears in her eyes, and she was nodding. “... Did you write that for the cause?”

I nodded back. “For the cause. For us. For our friends. For our families.”

Erina took a deep breath and sighed. “... Trademaster Gatian… I concede defeat.”

“... You’re seriously still-”

“I feel at fault.” She barked. “I was not in a position with the authority to judge you. I was not… I was less of a woman than I am.” Erina murmured. “... I showed you the worst of a Flistian, and for that I do apologize.”

“Apology accepted but unneeded. You paid out of your own pocket to put my ass back together.”

“And you have cast some Arca of great healing, no?” She raised a brow, no veins popping that time.

I smiled and shrugged. “I just played a song I thought you needed to hear.”

“... Thank you.” She hesitated to say something else.

“Speak your mind, sister. We fought each other and healed each other. There are few boundaries we’ve left to break.”

Erina smirked and nodded to herself as the smile faded in seconds. “... Why did you kill my Uncle, Gatian Gauner? Was he not one such as I?”

“... I killed Paulo because he massacred a village full of bandits that I’d planned to arrest. We worked together for most of the day. He agreed to my plan. He was supposed to be the diversionary force and I was supposed to sweep in with Arcan shackles.” I shook my head and looked at the floor. “... He used his Terru to slaughter people… Raining blood coated me and my men. I was hit with fingers and falling organs. There was…” I closed my eyes before looking at her. “He showed no mercy. Are we monsters, Erina, or are we protectors?

“... What are you, a River Man?” She asked bluntly, the France in her mouth needing to be smacked.

I glared at her. “Have some damn respect for your station and your enemy. The Char and Scorched are literal monsters, but your fucking fellow person should at least get a moment’s consideration.”

She stared at me for a hard, long moment. I couldn’t really say just how long it happened to be because I wanted to see how muscular her face was at that point. Then Erina had the gall to tilt her head and smile at me. “You’re a sweet, kind man. You will make a Thesuvian woman very happy someday.”

“First off, now I don’t think I even helped your brain damage at all-”

“[You pig!]” The brawny woman laughed in a mixture of hyper ‘Hon-Hon-Hon!’ and ‘Ah-ah-hah.’ that came out like grinding gears to my ears. “Cured or no, I do feel much better. Much clearer.”

“The let’s get this clear; My Thesuvian woman is eighty-percent pushover, thank you very much, and I’ll thank you to remember that.”

“Then she is not Thesuvian.” Erina drawled. “She at least pays your rent, no?”

“Christ, that was a battle…” I sighed.

“Oh? At least you tried, I suppose. More than most Flistian men would do.” She rolled her eyes. “Would you sit and keep me company for a while longer? It’s been a… Sotan. It’s been Sotan,” She said flatly.

“Hey!” Lumil whined from behind me. “I try hard to make it a cozy atmosphere!”

“... You’re new.” Erina stated it like she still had brain damage.

Oh. Flistians are assholes. Right.” Lumil pursed her lips and hung her head.

“You little bitch!

“Now ladies, one of you is clearly more capable of bare-handed murder than the other and we’re in a place of healing. Plus I’ll fuckin’ kill ya if you hurt the tiny Ginger.” I aimed the last part at Erina.

Erina rolled her eyes. “Defender of the weak, Forgiver of the strong, perhaps the merry Bard will come and sing this day his song?”

I made a show of looking at each woman. “Well, I do consider myself a Bard with a big, juicy, throbbing, inviting-

Oh dear,” Lumil murmured.

“-fanbase, so I guess I could be that Bard.” I finished by looking at the only one who’d spoken and saw that she was let down. Erina was biting her lips until some people I didn’t recognize barged into the room. “Oh… Shit.”

There were two doctors, a young Toddonite guy and a middle-aged Flistian woman, as well as four orderlies that got to hear Erina burst out into laughter. “Gatian, you are a jester!

I couldn’t stop the blush. “Bard, dammit! I said Bard!”

She laughed even harder, Lumil stared giggling at me, and no one really seemed too worried about tackling me. However, The Flistian doctor had a bone to pick. She marched right up to her patient, grabbed her face and checked over Erina like she did not give a single slice of processed cheese product. Swiss or otherwise. It took her a good few seconds and I decided to turn away because I’m polite, but after about a minute I was spun right back around. The florid, angry orange of the tanned woman’s eyes seared in my muddy, murky brownish-greys. She then grabbed my face and opened my mouth, and practically did everything other than grope me or do the hernia check.

I felt a little violated.

“You.” She barked.

I stepped back, clutching my guitar. “I feel dirty.

“Shut up.” The doctor glared. “You.”

“Yeah, I’m fuckin’ me alright.”

Her associate came over, speaking with a mixed Italian-French accent that was probably from Central Flistis. “My apologies, patient. Doctor Frouher is brilliant, but she refuses to learn an… ‘ugly’ language.”

I rolled my eyes. “Thanks bud.”: I glared at the Flistian fuck and answered in French, learned from my bi-annual trips to Paris. “[Fuck you.]”

Her eyes widened and she smirked. “[Tell me how you healed her and it’s not even a question. I’ll get you someone for that.]”

“[I’m promised to someone else. Don’t feel me up again.]”

Frouher shrugged. “[It was an examination. I’m sure you could bear another.]”

“[I don’t care if you’re a woman or a doctor. I’ll put you in a very uncomfortable maneuver until something pops.]”

“[Don’t threaten me with a good time.]” She raised her brow, rolling her eyes. “[How did you heal Erina?]”

“[Yes, I’d like to know as well!]” Erina herself beamed at me.

I shrugged. “I’m a magic man with magic music. I’m out, though. Bye.” I tried to walk out.

Frouher caught me. “[I don’t think so.]”

“What’s with you Septurns and thinking I won’t hurt you?” I gave her a smile.

She smiled back. “[I don’t know what you said-]”

Erina cleared her throat. “[It might be wise to let my friend leave, Madam. I will defend his choice to keep…] Magic, [out of our hands.]”

Frouher frowned. “[I’m your doctor.]”

“[Who healed me?]”

Frouher narrowed her eyes. “[Why wouldn’t I want to learn so I could heal others with the same method?]”

“[You can’t. Septurns are averse to my methods, at least in learning them. It’s not that I don’t want to, which I don’t. It’s that I can’t teach you how because I’m a special man with special Magic. Enjoy your broader scope and I’ll enjoy my potency.]”

Frouher glared at me but let me leave with no more fuss, but I still couldn’t check myself out of the hospital. I had a visitor waiting for me in my room in the form of a dour Thesuvian man. He was obviously pure-blooded since he was a short bastard, but still. He seemed like her could easily give me a run for my money. “So you’re finally back, yeah?”

I nodded at him and sat on my bed. “Sorry, had to do my good deed for the day. Can I help you?”

“What did you do?”

“Healed the woman who put me in this bitch. I think I healed myself too, but I’m not one-hundred on that, y’know?” I popped my neck.

He flinched at the staccato. “That sounded painful.”

“It was a good one. What can I help you with, man?”

“Ah, I was here to arrest you, but I don’t really feel as though I should. Were you here to join with the garrison?”

“Yeah, I’m a River Man, a Trademaster based in Thesuvia.”

His brow raised. “A River Master? Now I’ve heard everything!”

“... What?”

“You’re a rare one, pal.”

“Ah, I figured. No one ever says anything, but I kind of knew.”

“I see. What a nice fellow you are.” He smiled at me.

“I try. Can I join the Muster still, or am I arrested?”

“You’re trying to serve your home and I’m sure that some part of your past just caught up to you. I wouldn’t mind too terribly if you joined up, however.”

“Sure thing, man. Get me out of here and I’ll go fuck the Char in their throats with my fists.”

“Hung-wo, aren’t we?”

“I don’t get that, but if it means I wanna kill some flaming fucks, that’s about accurate.”

“... Okay, so what was your rank?”

“I think I was an Intron.”

“You’ll keep your rank and I’ll see if I can help you from there. You didn’t have to heal Erina.”

“She paid for my healthcare. They couldn’t help her. I could. It’s not that complicated.”

“... Truly a kind soul. What makes you hate the Char?”

“They’ve taken a lot from a lot of people. They don’t deserve mercy.”

“A guardian, then.”

“Of sorts.”

“Then I best get you out of here so you can do your job, yeah?”

“I’d be down for it.”

He nodded and left, giving me time to place some more music and think of a tune specifically for the Char. When the guy eventually came back, he brought Gloss and Marissa with hiom and they were glad to see that I was okay. I myself happened to be grateful that Gloss had been denied entry and that she was going to live with Marissa as they traveled back to Thesuvia. There was also word of Max coming to visit me soon, so I got my clothes, weapons, and armor back and got dressed properly. With little to do other than wait and be visited, I practiced some of my Grantonid forms and just tried to relax for the last litlte while I had. As it turned out, Max came back and saw me before I was officially released and he had something to say to me.

“You fucking muppet!” He snapped after winging open the door to my room. “Do you have any idea what could have happened to you? Do you have any idea what would’ve gone down if you’d have killed Erina? Do you?

I waved. “Sup, Max?”

He marched over to me and stuck a finger in my face. “Don’t make me hit you.”

“How bout you kiss me instead, sexy?

“Don’t tease me either!”

I patted his shoulder. “It’s all good, Max. Why don’t we get out of here and-”:

“Oh, no. I’m waiting for Gloss and Marissa to come back so-”

“They’re not coming back. Gloss said she hadn’t seen you and she was pissed that you were making time to see me.”

“I knew she was with you!”

“She didn’t know that.”

“Fuck this shit!” He threw his hands up before clutching his hair.

I laid my hand on his shoulder again and tried to make out the silver lining. “Hey, at least we can go get into the garrison now, right?”

He gave me a look. “Shut up and follow me. We’ve got stuff to do.”

We actually did turn out to have stuff to do, and the main thing was getting out of Yoad’s and into the streets of Ilpturn. It didn’t take us long to get out and back to the Muster where I was able to join the Regiment without hassle. Max was disappointed to hear that we were the same rank, but I thought it was pretty cool and he eventually came around to my side of thinking. Anyway, we were directed inside a tall, lacquered wood building that wasn’t very interesting for a lot of reasons, but the people inside more than made up for it on different levels. There were plenty of interesting people to see, but none more interesting than the pack of silver and auburn haired people that seemed to be keeping their distance from everyone else. The Chorets and Minotaurs were probably the most obvious in the room stroke the Ponies and few Mothicans, and that was saying a fucking lot. Between the sheer diversity of the crowd and the amount of people that all had a bone to pick with the Char, I never expected some bitch to walk up to me of all the people in the room.



I most certainly did not expect said bitch to be Khroma in her Cosma suit. “Gatian~”

I put a gun in her face faster than she reacted. “Mhm. Hi there, Khroma.”

“Ah-ah, it’s Cosma right now, Sweetie.” She plugged the barrel of my gun with her finger.

Max tapped my arm. “Who’s the cutie?”

“Something or someone evil,” I answered. “What do you want, Cosma?

She smiled. “To make sure you know something and know it well; I’ll kill you if you hurt Stellara.”

“I don’t care.”

“You will~”

“I won’t.”

“Methinks-” I shot her finger and nothing happened. “So violent! Why don’t I just take care of you now so you’re not a problem later?”

“Hey! No fighting in the house!” Someone shouted from further in the building.

I rolled my eyes and holstered my gun. “Leave me alone, Cosma. I want nothing to do with you.”

“Give me a kiss and I won’t bother you at all.”

“No.”

Max raised his brow. “Really?”

“Yes.” I popped my neck and glared at Cosma. “I don’t know what you’re up to, but I don’t want to deal with it. Leave us alone and we’ll leave you alone.”

She extended a hand. “Deal?”

“Deal.” I shook her hand and she gave me a quick hug that I nearly shoved her for. “What was that?”

“Just a token of good faith. I trust you’ll leave my dearly beloved Stellara alone, no?”

“If I even see her. I’m sure she wants to talk to me about as much as I do her.”

Cosma nodded and started walking away waving over her shoulder. “Take care~”

Max nudged me. “So… Evil gal on our side?”

“Maybe. Keep an eye on her if you can. She might very well end up killing people.”

“Scary. I can take her.”

“It’s nice that you think that, but I highly doubt that you could. Bitch is straight murderous, man.”

“Ah, then I’ll take care of it. Come on, let’s go meet with the other Introns.”

I looked around. “How do we find them?”

He started walking off and I followed, assuming that I’d either been ignored or had otherwise been heard and he had chosen not to respond. We alighted to a room further into the great, mostly wooden building and came into a room that was decked out in silver and blue. There were a few people inside eating or otherwise drinking something, but we weren’t left alone for long. A nice pair of people came up to us and asked for our tablets, only letting us join the others once they were sure of who we were. Max and I were free to do as we pleased, so we agreed to join the same squad and just needed to get it cleared by the muster-master or whatever to be on the same team. We met quite a few of the other Introns and they were a colorful bunch made of Onemasters and Trademasters, though I was quickly taught that I wasn’t the only guy who could cast and shoot with Grata-non-Aquix. It was cool to see other forms of Aquix that other people came up with for themselves, but it was always personal and a lot of people didn’t like learning new stuff. I shared Arca with a Pony Arcandine and a half-Thesuvian woman who seemed all too happy to get to know Max.

Anyway, I’ve had a bit of downtime to get this written out, so I guess there’s not much more to say right now. Max and I got to bunk together, but there’s supposed to be a good chance of us being in different cells of the same squad. Not really what I had in mind, but it works for now. In any case, I hope Ammanelle stops flirting with me. She’s nice and all, but I can’t be much clearer without being rude. I have permission from Alana for oral, but I’m not really interested in accepting the attention I seem to be getting.

Let’s get some rest, Booksy.

☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽

I woke up in the lower bunk, though I can only say that because it was the bed below the other one two above it. The layout of the barracks for the Introns was weird, but it was cozy and afforded you a modicum of privacy. My badge was supposed to be coming to replace my tablet and I was also supposed to be learning who my Dematones were and Hematone was. Max and I were both Introns along with a Kinfaun woman named Julay Haloya Horojaya (Zhu-lay Hay-low-ya) and a Denosian simply named Momon. I had time to myself according to the clock in my ‘bunk’, but even as I looked around and appreciated it for what it was, I couldn’t help but wonder how well we’d be treated on the field of battle. The fine bed and spacious hole in the wall I had was nice and allowed me to get dressed in privacy with the curtain it had, but even then I mostly had to wait for my other Introns. When my morning started to drag on, I got up and moving, hoping that the Dematones would be a little more proactive. As it turned out, a group of them were heading to come get me and the rest of the Introns, so I met them in the middle of the hall and got filled in by my superiors.

The hall was long enough for me to get introduced to Hema (Hemgir Alsfeld), a Harkan woman with steely gray eyes and dark blue hair as well as my Minotaur Dematone, Stitch Gasperdi. She was very insistent that I call her Sterdi, and Hema was very insistent that I just call her what I already called her. I didn’t even bother trying to pronounce it because everyone called her Hema, and it was probably because her thick, unidentifiable accent was too heavy to pronounce whatever she said her name was. However, she could spell it in common, though I suspected she heavily abbreviated it until I heard her talk to another Harkan. They speak in sentence-based words, so their language can be a little complicated to learn since it’s backwards as fuck, but either way, two women were in charge of a group that was mostly men and I was wondering if someone was going to try to be a dick on either side of things.

When we got to the bunks, Dematones started waking up their Introns in different ways, but my Dematones were pretty normal about it. I wasn’t allowed to do anything and had to stand around for a bit and bite, but no one in my cell was mad at all about being woken up. In fact. Max was happy to see that Hema was a looker for an older woman, and apparently Julay was infatuated with Sterdi. Momon was a quiet guy and looked as if he was just uncomfortable with the situation, but he was quickly assured many times that all would be well and that he would be fine. In any case, our Dematones lead the way to the place our Hematone had told us to meet them, though I, as always, had to get us there. However, this time it was only because Sterdi was busy trying to explain how inappropriate Julay was being. Max was quiet about his admiration, but Julay was brash and excited about it, meaning that she was probably going to get swapped out. At least, that’s what I thought until we met our Hematone.

Torre Weals was a jolly kind of guy with round cheeks and a round gut to go with it, but he definitely wasn’t one to mince words needlessly. He told Julay he would kill her if she broke rank and tried to hit on her superior again and that was the end of that. The guy was scary beyond fearsome to a point, but there was also the charisma he had. The little Sotan man was more talkative than most of his kind, but that was saying a lot more than I might be implying. He talked to us about the operation first and then lead on into his personal life, but it was all nice to hear and made for a good mood. However, he saw what I’d seen so far and the group and stuck me and Julay with Hema while leaving Max and Momon with Sterdi just based on the group dynamic alone. I thought it was a good thing anyway since the teams seemed divided up into long range and close-quarters combat, but I’d just gone off of my own assumptions. In reality, Julay was a Gratana-Nuva-Longinus practitioner and I could cover the mid-range with my Arca, but Hema herself was more of a close range fighter. That being said, Sterdi was a long-ranger with her own Effing, Momon was an Arca kinda guy and Max was definitely the close quarters fellow. The teams were well balanced from the get go, but then our Denitrons and Cenitrons showed up and I learned who I was going to be helping out in the days to come. I won’t record all their names since there were fifteen and five respectively, but I had plenty of people to look out for in my future.

The day closed with the battalion getting to know each other in groups, so Julay and I sat with our Cenitrons and Denitrons to get a better idea of how to talk to them and deal with them in general. It was clear that I was the more popular of the two of us, but there were also people who hated me for being an Intron at twenty-something. Apparently my crest, my badge said that I was of indeterminate age, which was crazy for multiple reasons. For one, no one else was indeterminate and I was the only one who had a blued tablet in the first place. The badge came on another chain and was in the form of a round shield that I was to wear on my person at all times. It was blued and partially silver this time, but it matched the rest of the Introns save for my name and Rebirthday… Sapfall (Analogous to May, I guess) fourteenth. An auspicious day indeed.

There wasn’t much for me to do besides train and otherwise try my best to get inshape for the war ahead, but I could also try to make more music… Nah, with all the practitioners here, especially some of the ones who are willing to train others, I might as well learn some stuff...

Doesn’t mean I won’t still be making music on the side. Who did you think I was, Booksy?

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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.

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