Shortly after their conversation ended, Finn and Iris prepared to head downstairs to relay the news to Archon, who had set up their meeting.
Iris was originally against this idea, since she was bad at lying. She didn't want the Phantom Slayers to know about her true name, so she always just avoided interaction with them by shutting herself in her room and hoping they don't barge in.
They never did, thankfully, but now… she was forced to meet with them face-to-face.
After Finn said he would do all the talking, however, Iris reluctantly agreed.
Unfortunately, as soon as they opened the door… they ended up catching a little eavesdropper red-handed.
"… What are you doing?" Iris asked, an unamused expression on her face.
Octane, however, was too busy staring into Iris's beautiful different-colored eyes to even react. One was a beautiful green-turquoise gradient, while the other was a starry blue-purple.
"Man… Storm, I see why you love her now," he murmured quietly to himself, still not realizing Finn and Iris could hear everything.
"Uh… what's happening?" Finn asked, confused. He was responsible for pushing Iris's wheelchair along, while Iris told him where to go.
"Oh, nothing. Just a little… eavesdropper." Iris narrowed her eyes, and it was then that Octane finally realized the trouble he's gotten himself in. "I already noticed you the first time… to think you came back. How long have you been here for?"
"I-I just came upstairs! Really!" he cried, raising his hands up into the air in surrender.
"That's a lie," Iris stated calmly, using her Oculus Angelica to detect deception.
"O-Okay, fine! I was here since 5 minutes ago!"
"… Hmph," Iris snorted, then pointed down the stairs. "Hurry up and go. Lead us to Archon."
Octane immediately dashed down the stairs at Mach 1, leaving behind nothing but the sound of wind whizzing past us. Iris had said 'lead us to Archon', but it's not like they were about to keep up with this speed demon.
"Well. Not a bad cold demeanor you have there," Finn remarked, having heard the whole conversation.
"S-Shush," Iris blushed from embarrassment. "You're doing the talking from here on out, just as we agreed on."
"Fine by me."
Thankfully, there was an elevator installed in the house they were in, specifically made for Iris's wheelchair, which was nice. If there hadn't been one, Finn would've had to carry it while Iris rode on his back.
Right after exiting the elevator, Iris instructed Finn to head directly forward. The spacious living room, where the Phantom Slayers of this branch had gathered, was right in front of them.
"Looks like you two have settled on a deal," Archon remarked, seeing Finn gently pushing Iris on her wheelchair.
"Yes," Finn replied with a firm nod. "She will be my eyes, and I will be her legs."
"I see. Where's my 'thank you', boy? I came up with this idea," Archon rubbed his nose proudly, folding his arms.
"… Thank you."
"That sounded so emotionless, but whatever, I guess… Ivis, did you already test for his Angelica?"
He wasn't afraid to use Ivis since Octane already got caught eavesdropping anyway.
Ivis (Iris) nodded. "He has the same one as me… Oculus."
"Oculus, huh… that's unfortunate."
"You got the short end of the stick, buddy," Octane added, kicking his feet up. "Since your blind, you essentially have no Angelica. Feels bad."
"Well, don't be discouraged," Archon stood up and walked over to Finn, patting his shoulders with a smile. "There's plenty of people out there who fight against Ghosts without Angelicas. All you need is a special weapon crafted by someone with the Blacksmith Angelica. And luckily for you…"
A ferocious orange aura suddenly enveloped Archon as he stepped back and activated his Angelica, a glowing hammer and chisel appearing above his head.
"… I am that someone."
After a short period of awkward silence and staring, Archon standing as still as a statue, Octane raised his hand.
"Hey boss, that's, like, cool and all, but you realize he can't see you, right?"
An awkward silence suddenly fell between the group, none of them wanting to say anything.
Archon blinked, and quickly canceled the aura around him, bringing his fist to his mouth and clearing his throat in an attempt to clear away the awkwardness.
"A-Ahem… yes, anyway. Follow me, friend."
As he turned around and began walking away down the corridor, Iris told Finn where to go.
"Directly ahead, not too fast."
Finn did as told, but then Archon suddenly stopped.
"Wait!" Iris whispered sharply, gripping her armrests in a panic before they crashed into the man.
Finn skidded to a stop just in time as Archon turned around.
"Oh yeah, now that I think about it… I never found out about your name, huh?"
"… Finn Thresher," Finn said. "That's my name."
However, Archon seemed to have been expecting something else as he shook his head.
"No no no, not that. We don't do real names around here. Once you're part of us, your old identity doesn't matter anymore. I'm talking about your new name — your alias. Have you thought of one yet?"
Finn slowly shook his head. "No."
"Well, it's fine if you don't know yet," Archon chuckled. "For now, we'll just call you Finn. But when you do get an idea for an alias… just let us know. Using your real name in this world isn't a very good idea, since any enemies you make may drag your friends and family into this."'
Finn nodded. "Understood."
But he had none left.
Soon after, Archon led Iris and Finn to what seemed like a blacksmith's forge. Iris insisted she come along since apparently, she wanted a weapon as well.
Mainly built from cobblestone unlike the rest of the house, the room had a somewhat medieval feel to it. A large furnace sat directly across from the entrance of the room, and two torches were set all around on the walls to provide light. The temperature inside was quite humid, even though the furnace was off. Finn could feel sweat crawling up his neck.
"Welcome to my workshop," Archon said, a sly grin on his face. To him, this was home.
He then walked over to a nearby table and sat down on the wooden stool in front of it. "Now then, Finn. Do you have any specific weapon you would like to use?"
"What about the dagger you gave me?" Finn asked, recalling their first conversation.
"Oh, that's not enchanted. It's just a symbol of this Squadron. If you look closely, you can see '154' etched into the blade... oh, wait. A-Ahem, anyway, have you used a weapon before?"
Finn shook his head. "Never touched a weapon in my life. Apart from… well, kitchen knives, scissors, screwdrivers, things of the sort."
"Hm… well, let's figure out the best kind of weapon for you, then," Archon said, taking off his outer coat and tossing it on the clothing pole in the corner of the room to reveal well-built, ripped arm muscles underneath.
"To start off, would you rather have a close-range weapon or a long-range one?"
"Close-range," Finn replied without any hesitation. "Any long-range enemies will be left to Ivis."
"Hm, that's a good strategy," Archon remarked, nodding in satisfaction as Iris silently agreed. "Are you comfortable wielding two weapons or just one?"
"For now, one hand. I don't think I'll be able to use two at the same time, given my inexperience."
"That's fair. Next… which do you prefer — spear or sword?"
"Sword. Spears require more precision, which would be difficult for me."
"Mhm, logical," Archon nodded slowly as he analyzed all the information he's gotten so far. "So you want something that has a large hitbox and doesn't require much accuracy, eh?"
Finn nodded. "Sounds about right."
"In that case… I think using a warhammer will be your best bet." Archon grinned. "It's also the weapon I use."
"A warhammer…" Finn echoed, trailing off. "That is not a bad choice, and I think I can wield it. But… are there any weapons that involve using my fists? For example, gauntlets, things of the sort. I used to take some boxing lessons when I was younger, and was pretty good at it, so..."
Archon laughed. "Man, say that sooner next time! I gotcha."
"You… can really do it?"
"Ha! Who are you doubting?"
"… Forgive me, I just…"
"It's fine, it's fine. I know what to do for you. You'll like it, I'm sure," Archon waved off Finn's apology with ease, then turned to Iris. "Now then, Miss Ivis, what kind of weapon would you like? Bow? Gun?"
"Gun. Sniper would be best," Iris replied briskly.
"Sniper, eh? Got it. I'll throw you in a handgun as well, in case you run out of bullets."
Iris closed her beautiful eyes and nodded in thanks. "I'm grateful."
"Now, get out of here, you two. I can't work with people in my forge," Archon snorted, standing up and pressing a hidden button that spun the wall around, revealing tons of raw materials neatly organized in a grid-style bookshelf.
"What should we do while you work on our weapons?" Finn asked.
Archon sighed. "Have you taken a look in the mirror? Oh, wait… agh, my bad. Uh... basically, you need some new clothes. Just ask Octane to take you to the store, since Ivis here probably doesn't know where it is."
"… Got it."
Finn placed his hands on Iris's wheelchair and made a full 180 degree turn, pushing her out the door they just came in moments before. But as they left the forge behind, Archon's roar echoed through the long corridor and reverberated in their ears.
"Goddamn it, kid! You didn't close the door on your way out!"