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Bottom's Up [Quest: Hatsuharu]

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#1Akira Shimada 

on Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:35 pm

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She was sure her partner could sense the uneasiness she exuded. Just for him, it was probably apparent in her brooding silence, in her idle strides and in her impassive expression. Lucky for her, it perhaps was well concealed from anyone else. Most others would only sense a cold reservedness. The Shimada wasn't proud of this instinctual reaction. A conflict between self-preservation and doing her duty raged within this seemingly calm and collected exterior.

A part of her wished for the success and fortune, it sought the outcome that had been so cleverly snatched from her. Yet, another part searched for a plausible cause, that didn't have its foundations in fear, to aid in dissuading Tsuru and herself from pursuing their targets. Her walk was brisk, naturally she was leading this investigation considering she recognised the girls and not the healer, just to buy herself some time, she paused by the request board.

It was rather empty, she gathered that the townsfolk were probably crooks themselves and didn't seek help from the do-gooders. She plucked of the lone poster that hung from the board. 'Since we're here, might as well as help this poor sod.' she muttered to her partner softly. She added that the shop would serve as a feasible location to remain unnoticed while they scouted.

217/1800



#2Hatsuharu 

on Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:35 pm

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The swordsman couldn’t believe that so much had happened in Orchidia and his partner had kept it all from him until they were in Baska. He did find an excuse for her himself, as their journey to Baska was extremely hurried and it probably didn’t feel like the right time to have such a conversation. He was glad she chose to tell him at least then. Without a moment of hesitation, the healer had suggested they go to Oak and investigate where these Phantom Lord ladies were sneaking around. After all, they did burn a man alive and used that as a distraction to escape his partner. While the threat from Dante still resonated in his ears, his desire to bring justice burned brighter and he wasn’t going to let his fear stop him from doing his job as a Knight.

So, there they were, keeping a low profile in the town, while trying to gather information. From what he had learned last time, the Phantom Lord guild had quite the influence on every aspect of the town. If they went around inquiring openly, the dark guild would surely be warned, and the girls might run off to safety. Or worse… Dante would put a target on their back. They might have gotten stronger, but something told him he was still leagues away from the likes of guild masters. It was best to stroll like they have no business but were there just for a routine patrol. That shouldn’t be hard to pull off, considering they haven’t been promoted officially yet.

Haru glanced around the shady streets as his partner plucked a request off the board. From the looks of it, she was having the same idea: help out a few people and act like they were there just for a regular patrol. “Sounds good,” he said, nodding at her suggestion.

311/1800



#3Akira Shimada 

on Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:37 pm

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Their walk to a smithy was a long one. She wasn't as familiar with Oak town as she was with the other towns that they'd had work in. Oak was one of their shorter stays and most of the intelligence they gathered had been limited to the dark guild of Phantom Lord. She had still not openly shared a reservations about being here with Tsuru.

She didn't want him to think she was a coward. The Shimada wanted to take down the guild as much as anyone else but challenging them in their own town didn't seem prudent, especially given the outcome the last time. Additionally, last time they had the alleged backing of the council, and others with them. But perhaps with a plan, she could corner those arrogant girls.

It seemed likely that they ran back to their master, but the two Knights could be entirely wrong. If they were wrong, she wouldn't be too crestfallen about the missed confrontation. The smithy was a good place to start, most mages and fighters alike looked out for good gear, perhaps he'd know something. A gruff voice greeted them from the shadows, from his tone it was apparent that he wasn't really expecting help, but trouble. Aki rolled her eyes and simply smacked the request poster on his desk. His demeanour changed swiftly.

440/1800



#4Hatsuharu 

on Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:37 pm

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As much as he tried to walk casually, there was a slight tension in his muscles that made him rigid enough for some of the observant croons to give him a second look. Maybe it was that same tense attitude that got the giant smith to be on edge. Thankfully, his partner showing him the flier made him realize they were here to help and he calmed down. “Hello! Thank god someone took up the job. I thought I had to cancel,” the smith said, as he got out from behind his counter. “Shouldn’t be gone for too long. Thank you for the assistance,” he said, as he put on his coat and hat. As he was about to leave, he promised them their reward whence he returns.

Haru was looking to ask the giant a few questions before he left, but was given no opportunity. “Guess we ask him once he gets back,” he muttered, as he pulled a chair and sat down. The healer sincerely hoped no one came around looking to buy weapons or armours. He had no experience at the craft; while he would love to learn, he didn’t want to sound incompetent in front the giant’s customers and then have to deal with the consequences.

Not a single person entered the shop for a long while, and the swordsman spent all that time exploring the store, trying out some of the weapons that looked very interesting. He did find a few of them well-made, but the Knight preferred his lightsabre over any of them. “Did you find something better than your gun?” he asked his partner curiously.

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#5Akira Shimada 

on Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:38 pm

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As the giant left the shop, she didn't hide her displeasure. She knew where he was headed, the only event that was worth attending in Oak today, was a drinking competition at a popular bar. She'd overheard quite a few folk talking about it as she eavesdropped on the conversations of passer-bys to see if any of them had seen the ladies. They were objectively attractive females, no doubt if their presence was noticed by some loose-lipped drunk man, he'd provide sufficient details about the whereabouts of their target. So far, she had nothing on her radar.

Only a cursory glance was enough to dismiss the chance of her being a customer. Although, she was looking to repair the dagger she'd bought so long ago... She never used it, since the gun served her so much better. 'I'm not buying from a guy who abandons his work to go get sloshed.' she said, in a judgemental tone she didn't believe she possessed. Clearly, something about her work ethic and beliefs had changed over time. She sought to work harder and somehow began to expect the same from others. The girl hadn't had any time to relax for so long, it was almost as though she'd forgotten how to. The momentary silence that hung between them was shattered by some banter and cankerous laughter outside.

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#6Hatsuharu 

on Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:38 pm

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The healer cringed at his partner’s words, but couldn’t help but agree. While he had heard about the drinking competition too, he had not realized that was where the giant was headed. Surely, between the two of them, Akira would make a far better detective than he ever could. Now that Akira had tainted his impression about the giant, he became an expert at weapons and armour all of a sudden. The healer began finding faults in all the equipment the giant had for sale. “Look at this spear. It’s not symmetrical and that doesn’t look like an intentional design,” he scoffed, tapping the imperfect item.

Honestly, Haru was getting so bored that he welcomed any company at that point. He heard the commotion outside the store and was hoping they were customers. Unfortunately for them, they weren’t customers. It was half-a-dozen men, who looked exactly the same, wrecking their way in and screaming for the giant. “What can we do for you?” Haru asked politely. In case these men were friends with the owner of the store, he didn’t want to piss them off. Personally, the healer would never call someone who insults him as a friend. But, maybe the giant had a different definition.

“Where’s bigfoot?” one of the thugs demanded, taking an axe off the shelf and pointing it at Haru. “Umm… He’s out. Asked us to look after the store. So, I’d appreciate it if you put that axe back where it belongs,” the healer suggested politely.

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#7Akira Shimada 

on Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:38 pm

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She wasn't as eager for company as Tsuru was. The girl savoured the silence and peace while pretending to hatch plans about the maidens. Perhaps she wasn't much entertainment and someone fun to hang out with, since her partner had taken to ranting about the items of the smithy. She merely and absently made sounds of agreement. That was till they were interrupted.

She scurried towards Tsuru and hid behind a shelf to gauge the situation from a distance. Her eyes widened when she saw that they were quite outnumbered. She couldn't blast them, because her partner would be in the way and probably take the brunt of the damage too. Luckily, from their demeanour and their lack of weapons it was pretty clear that they weren't from any organised guild, good or bad.

She almost wondered if revealing where the giant was would do the trick. But in case these guys were out for blood, the smith's life could be on their hands. She put on her best damsel in distress act, while keeping her hand planted close enough to her gun. She feigned distress as she called out the name of her partner.

'Tsuru! Tsuru! Is everything all right?' she asked. She acted rather startled upon seeing the axe. The boys laughed at her frightened demeanour and seemed pretty satisfied with the outcome of their presence. They merely chucked the axe through the window, guffawed and walked away, warning the duo that they'd be back for their real target.

915/1800



#8Hatsuharu 

on Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:39 pm

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Realizing what his partner was attempting to pull off, the healer played along. “Don’t worry! These gentlemen were just leaving,” he said pointedly towards the one who still held onto the axe. It took a great deal of control to not just pounce and strike them when they laughed at the two of them. But, they were in a narrow room full of weapons and the risk was too high, especially because they were outnumbered. So, Haru grit his teeth and smiled, trying to avoid confrontation as much as he could.

The swordsman was not very happy when the axe was thrown at the window, but somehow managed to still not lose it. This was a good mental exercise for someone who was trying to keep their temper in check. Surely, if he wished he could knock them all out in a few swings, or Akira could just finish them with a single blast. But, that would mean they will be wreaking havoc to the shop which they were supposed to protect. Thankfully, he didn’t have to keep that fake smile on for very long. The men apparently didn’t feel like ‘quashing bugs’ that night and wanted to come back for their original target. Haru scoffed once they left and went to fetch the axe they threw. “I hope our giant friend is too drunk to notice the broken window,” he said, as he began to clean the shattered glass off the floor.

1177/1800



#9Akira Shimada 

on Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:39 pm

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Had she not been quite used to people scoffing and laughing at her, perhaps she too would have lost her temper. The familiar tug of the darkness did remind her of the time the aura would take over when she was mocked like this. Perhaps it helped her to know that she truly was superior now. The experience she had gathered had served to make her just a little bit more confident in her abilities, however she noticed that she'd been shirking away from confrontations, ever since she'd taken the two lives.

It was getting in the way of her duties, marked by the mishap with the girls. She took a deep breath and returned to the chair behind the counter, throwing up her legs on the table for good measure. 'I hope they don't return in a hurry.' she mumbled softly, before stretching. She watched her partner from the corner of her eyes, knowing that his temper was probably bursting at the seams. But neither of them were the sort to lose it merely for being disrespected.

She wondered if he had noticed her contrasting aversion to confrontation. Her deliberate and conscious attempts to make sure that investigations were thorough... If he had noticed, he hadn't said anything yet. She began sifting through possible replies, without relaying to him what happened in the spring festival. He'd taken kindly to the mistake she'd made with the maidens, because she erred on the side of caution, unlike the time she took the lives.

1167/1800



#10Hatsuharu 

on Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:39 pm

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The sudden and drastic change in his partner’s attitude made him chuckle, completely taking all the tension away from the situation. After cleaning the floor, the healer put the axe back at the shelf and sat next to Akira. “I hope they don’t return,” he said bluntly. For a few seconds, the healer watched the hot coal inside the foundry, warping the air around it causing it to look like space itself was being shook. In that moment, he had to wonder out loud, “How long do you think before a giant decides he has had enough?” But before that question could be answered, he had a more a devastating fear. “Hey… What if he gets so drunk that he never comes back for the night?” he asked, his eyes going wide in shock. “I don’t want those Phantom Lord girls to slip away,” he added.

The healer began to plan. He decided if the giant did not return by sunset, then they would simply lock the shop, leave the key at the local Rune Knight base and go about their business. After all, if the man couldn’t enter his own shop, the Knights are who he would go to first. As he was about to elaborate his plan to his partner, Haru heard some noises outside and decided to go check what it was. When he got there, the street was empty, but more windows panes of the shop were cracked. The swordsman stood there and looked around for a good minute, scanning the surroundings to see if there was any movement; but there weren’t any. He went back in and updated his partner. “Looks like they came back just to destroy a few more windows,” he said with a sigh.

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#11Akira Shimada 

on Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:40 pm

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She didn't encourage conversation about the maidens. She had a sneaking suspicion that either they weren't here, or they hadn't bothered visiting town at all and were simply holed up in their guild. In either scenario a confrontation was hardly imminent. When she heard the scuffling outside yet again, she muttered softly to the healer. 'I'll handle them this time.' she said through grit teeth. Perhaps this was her way of trying to confront her own weakness.

Swiftly, she plucked her gun out of the holster and ushered herself out towards the main door of the shop. There were eight men standing there, all looking at her silhouette with hunger. They spoke lecherously. 'Oh its you again.' She was still in the shadows, but she made sure they heard the gun cock. A few looked a little wary, the one who spoke had made a rookie mistake of turning to face his friends, just to mock and guffaw at her some more.

She didn't hesitate and shot him in the shoulder. He let out a blood curdling scream before kneeling and falling to the ground. The others looked like they were ready to scram. She clicked her tongue as she emerged from the shadow. Just the mere change in demeanour seemed to catch them quite off guard. 'Not one of you will move, or the next one is getting shot somewhere more... critical.'

1400/1800



#12Hatsuharu 

on Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:40 pm

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Not more than fifteen minutes had passed since they had broken the window panes, and they were already back. Haru shook his head and was about to run out to catch them during the act this time, but was stopped by his partner. He gave way and let her have them this time. They were under the impression that she was a scared little girl; that might just be the cause of their demise. Haru watched from inside the shop as the Lunar mage approached the eight men. His amused smile quickly changed to flaring anger when he saw the expression on the men’s faces. He immediately rushed out, but before he was even at the door, his partner had already shot one of them and he didn’t feel any remorse. In fact, he was wondering why she didn’t shoot every last one.

“You bastards,” he scowled as he got out and ran towards the remaining seven. They weren’t sure whether they were supposed to run from him and risk getting shot, or stay still and risk getting caught. Realizing the second option at least left them alive, they all stood there with shaking legs. Haru rounded them up, took their own scarves and used it to tie them around a pole along with the one who was shot. The swordsman did plan on healing the man, but not until he had heard him scream enough. Once they were all tied, he put his hand on the wound and pressed harshly, making him scream even more, before casting the healing spell. By then, a large crowd had formed around the shop, and Haru could see the giant amidst them, towering above everyone else.

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#13Akira Shimada 

on Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:40 pm

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She felt a tiny victorious voice in her head, however when she saw the blood spurt out of the man, she froze in place. It reminded her keenly of the nights at the festival. The flashbacks proved intense enough to render her useless. If she was going to feel this way every time she had to use her weapon in the line of duty the Shimada would make a poor asset indeed.

She had to find a way to cope with this. Hoping to not have her partner see her state, she simply turned and shuffled away. The girl leaned against a shelf and watched him round the men up, from some distance. Her breathing was shallow and she had to do all she could to keep the tears from stinging her eyes. She hated keeping her work a secret, especially from him.

The feeling intensified when his own demeanour was slowly changing. He was changing into someone she thought would understand her actions, but for some reason, that same someone inside him could cause her belief to backfire.

She winced as Tsuru's healing somehow caused the man more pain. That had never happened before, she wondered if the nineteen year old did something intentionally to worsen the pain before making it better.

1613/1800



#14Hatsuharu 

on Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:40 pm

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In all the commotion, Haru had lost sight of Akira. Before he could go look for her and ask if she was okay, the giant stepped in his way and began thanking him with too much passion. It was obvious that the man was completely sloshed and was overreacting to the situation. “You saved my life,” he cried out, almost in tears. “Life? What? Besides, it’s not me-” he began, but was not allowed to finish his sentence as the huge man began thanking him again. “Yes, yes… It’s fine. I’ll send in some Apprentices to put these guys in prison,” he said, patting the giant’s hand and stepping away from the crowd.

Once he finds Akira, he would call out to her gently. “Hey! You okay?” The healer had no idea what she was going through, but could sense there was something off. He never pushed her to reveal anything she didn’t wish to. However, he also wished to let her know he was there to listen if she wished to talk. In that moment, he didn’t care to chase after the girls who had murdered the man in Orchidia. There it was again; his desire to comfort his partner overtaking his desire to bring justice. And yet, he gave in to it willingly. “It’s been a long day. Let’s go home. We can investigate tomorrow,” he said, taking the turn towards their quarters.

1987/1800
-Exit-



#15Akira Shimada 

on Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:40 pm

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Her hands were shaking ever so slightly, she was grateful for the commotion, in fact even grateful that the giant was drunk and didn't care about the damage to his property, or the blood on the floor. She closed her eyes briefly, took a moment to relieve the memories she was trying so hard to push away. Her heart thumped under her ribs, so hard that she thought it may even be audible to the dispersing crowd.

She didn't know that the healer had already collected their reward and ensured that the men were taken away. She wasn't sure exactly how much time had passed. When she heard his gentle beckon, her eyes snapped open. 'I- I'm fine.' she said, but her stammer clearly indicated otherwise. She locked eyes with him and allowed the healer to see the fear that rested in those orbs.

It would seem that it was fear of the consequence they could face if they continued to chase the girls, though for once, that wasn't true. The source of her unease was her own past, but he didn't know that. She didn't dwell on it and chose the moment to ensure they both returned to safety.

She had realised she wasn't in any state to aid the healer should another confrontation with Phantom Lord ensue and as Lieutenants they couldn't just sit around in Oak on a cold lead. 'Too many people have seen us, someone will definitely alert the guild... Can we just head back to Baska?' she requested, guilty that she was using his care to steer him away from his cause out of selfish instinct, albeit for the safety of them both.

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~Exit~



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