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No title.
(2013-06-05 - 2013-06-18)
No description.
Riku Although there were certainly things about Archades that he didn't like (and was willing to say to entirely the wrong people) Riku liked the city, even if he was still struggling with the sense of distorted scale he always got around large cities.

It comes across in his voice while he is giving Alma a guided tour of the places he knew in the city. "A lot of this is pretty new to me as well." he chuckles, giving the white mage a friendly smile as he explains. "I sort of started relying more on my magic than I really should have. I actually ended up missing out on a lot." he huffs softly, eyes slightly distant for a moment before snapping back to Alma and the view around them. "Magic usually causes trouble, one way or another."

Riku shakes his head and sloughs away a momentary downturn in mood. He brightens noticeably as he spots somewhere else that he recognizes and moves through the crowd towards it. Upper Archades is a sparkling and lively haven of stone, metal and glass. The two of them were walking along one of the many skybridges framed by large and well tended greenery that contrasts the coppery tones of the stone and metal that adorn the buildings. Sky cars pass in the large and cavernous expanses between rows of buildings. People line the warm brick and cobbled streets, wide mosaics and curves worked into the trodden over designs.

There is a heavy buzz here. People lounge in groups on rooftop gardens, in secluded and gated communities, in terraced buildings and all of them seem to be talking. The background roar of conversation and people going about their business is a constant hush of white noise. Here the fabrics are fine and the shopkeepers more than slight pickier about their clientele. Here armor is burnished to a fine polish and everything seems put on display. And oblivious, his clothes and armor dusty and slightly worn from the road Riku plows towards an outside parkland with several meandering waterfalls and pools, long ribbons of trail weaving through the small park. In a gazebo planted not too far in, there is a small band that is playing and so music filters in fits and starts over the background noise of the city.
Riku Alma Hyral on the other hand had grown up in a continent wide city it still didnt help with her disorientation. This was primarily because shed been a sheltered child. The Hyral matriarch rarely allowed her to leave home except for liturgy and choir practice. And because of her parents draconian standards and her sickly nature, shed been homeschooled until the age of twelve.

Perhaps the most jarring change from Lower Archades, was the appearance of the sun. Ramuha had been shrouded in continent wide storms which had blocked it out with an eternal umbra. By the extraordinarily sickly pale shades of her skin, Riku would probably tell that she wasnt used to long term exposure to the sun. Still, in short stretches, she still found it delightful. She probably would have liked the rain better, whenever nature deigned to give the desert climes around Archades that sort of boon. The people of this city have pretty eclectic tastes.

Shed raise a hand, to point towards the archaic buttresses and archways of one building, standing in stark contrast to the wonders of Magitechnology that floated nearby it.

Shed tilt her head slightly to the side, offering him a smile, And what sort of magic made you so very oblivious? I find that the less one relies on magic, the better. The more sense of responsibility it grants you for the forces you wield but.. Shed give him a sheepish look, I tend to miss out on a lot, anyhow, because I look /up/ rather than /forward/. That causes me to trip up more than Id like to admit.

Shed stop for a moment along the skybridge to observe a particularly fine example of a hanging garden, before her gaze drifts to one of the sky cars. I can already tell that Kyra is going to want one of those. Some day. When we passed through Vector she tried to ask a Magitek knight if hed like to offer two young girls a ride, purely so she could get a better look at his armor.

For the occasion, Alma Hyral wanted to look her best, given the reputation of Upper Archades, shes in the dress Seloria made for her. A white one with a plunging V-neck and a knotted waist. She allowed her hair to flow freely, and it was suprising in its length, given how Riku had seen her last, with it bound up so tightly in that bun atop her head. Around her neck was a red triangular scarf. It gave the impression that no matter how formal she tried to look.. she always remembered her roots.

Theyd move onward through the terraced buildings, and shed linger only for a few moments at the shops, taking a look at the sort of wares they were hawking, before shed follow him to the park. Her feet sort of moved with a mind of their own, closer to the Gazebo, as she took to listening in on the music from the band. She seemed to be trying to get a feel for what sort of different genres and tastes were in vogue for the city of Archades. After a time, even though she was still listening idly, shed turn to Riku, smiling warmly. Im beginning to understand why everyone in the Empire wants to move up to this little slice of paradise suspended between heaven and earth.. still, I cant help but wonder, being so high up, how many people lose sight of the world below?
Riku Riku has heard what everyone says about Upper Archades, and for one reason or another does not care in the slightest. Thus he turns out looking like the scruffy bodyguard with his leather coat, pants and articulated claw gauntlet.

The sun being something he has always taken for granted (and thus has the semi-permanent tan to prove so) he has to remind himself occasionally as they meander to do so while under shade so that his guest is not made uncomfortable either now or in a day or two by the desert harshness.

"Considering where I came from, you are all equally crazy. So I tend not to notice one way or another." Riku smirks, putting his hands behind his back loosely and walking with a slow and scholarly pace as she looks at the architecture. After a few minutes of this, his hands abruptly disengage and he quickens his pace, blinking several times and shaking his head as if spooked by something.

"Teleport magic." Riku admits with a faintly strained chuckle. "I used to be able to move across great spaces pretty easily. Even between worlds. I was very fond of that trick. Sadly-- it's stopped working reliably and so I've just stopped using it altogether." He looks at Alma as she moves amongst the shops and as she meandered closer to the park gazebo. The teenager stays a little bit behind her, listening to the music and it's strange tempos and measure just as he'd heard the music in the streets of New Orleans. "It's easy to forget a thing when it's not in front of you."

Riku finally replies. "And I expect in such a big city-- people only know really a tiny fraction of what is going on around them. And that is all they want to know. The nobles make information a game, but-- never beyond the borders of the city. Many people here know in a sort of abstract sense there is a world, in fact many worlds, outside-- but that is all that is it. Just an idea. Maybe even the wrong one. I know I've gotten a lot of odd looks living here."
Riku If Alma minds Rikus appearance, she definitely doesnt make it known. After all, who is she to talk? She wears dowdy white mage robes most of the time that would have looked ultraconservative a few centuries back on her world. Even in /Baron/ theyre likely out of vogue already.

Is that right? Youre the one sane man in a city wide asylum? Twisting a quote from a friend of mine perhaps but, Cosma save us from the sane. Shed grin for a moment, but given his spooked look, shed just observe him quietly after that, with her hands folded demurely in front of her. Eventually shed just quietly inquire, Something troubling you?

Thats certainly a neat trick. On my world that sort of magic is rather difficult to manage.. ..and almost exclusive to Black Magic, but shed become more open minded about that as of late. different worlds though? I think I wouldnt mind that kind of magic, solely for that. To be able to gaze at her empyrean majesty every night from twenty different worlds, twenty different perspectives? Now thatd be worthwhile.

The music played by the Jazz band in the gazebo would reach its crescendo. There would be some applause from those gathered in the park, before it would move on to a more subdued tempo with the tenor sax taking the lead. It was some rendition now of the Blues. Shed turn around to face him, smiling, Far too easy, I imagine. You realize that even if I move up here, Id still have to make my rounds about the slums nearly daily? Well, whenever Im not away on an expedition that is I dont think I can neglect them, just like I dont want to neglect all worlds to the exclusion of my own.

And then shes quiet as he explains the state of the city, Let them gawk and gape and point then. Be proud of who you are. I dont think they understand how very fortunate they are. I cant blame the lower class for not considering the world outside.. they have a hard enough time just surviving. But the nobles? Think on how much they could do towards restoring these fractured worlds, if only they had the sense to look outside of their own little world.
Riku Riku shakes his head. "No. Just remembering something -- and sometimes those have very sharp edges." he smiles wanely at Alma and then wanders along the greenery in a meandering fashion, allowing himself to relax and his eyes to roam over the landscape. Riku smiled softly. "Yes. It was a very neat trick." he pauses.

"But --" he trails off and shakes his head. "It's easier to just keep your head down and focus on what's in front of you. And that's what most people do. Sometimes it's too painful to try to keep it all straight in your head. Too many sharp edges." The teenager lingers in the shade of a tree, putting a hand on the bark as he looks out at the waterfalls that make a small pond nearby.

"So-- are your roommates /really/ as bad as I heard? Because I heard pretty bad." he says it in a faintly teasing way, brushing away the subject matter before it could get serious again.
Riku Tell me about it She replies, quietly, I faced a dragons talons once, and they didnt gouge half as deep as a foul memory. Shed follow him over towards the greenery, then just past it towards one of the safety rails, placing both hands upon it, as she looked over the majestic view it afforded her. Whered you learn it anyhow? And whyd it stop working?

But then a return to the subject, and shed meander over towards him to stand beside him in the shade of the tree, Even when I kept my head down, it felt like I was constantly running a gauntlet of sorts, past so many sharp edges.. at Murasames company, there were only the bullies and the bullied. ..well and Artyom, but hes a category of his own. I was typically one of the bullied.. so it led to a lot of bad memories, and even more sharp edges just cropped up in the aftermath. And then shed venture towards the edge of the shade, looking over the small pond. He might have heard a sort of flustered noise out of her, before she looked over her shoulder, her cheeks flushed bright red. She decided to actually tell him the truth, given that the Beetle had utterly vanished.

Its not.. what you and Judge Magister Gabranth think. To give you the short of it.. Murasames corporation is holding an individual hostage, contingent on my silence. And as part of their little non-disclosure agreement that I never agreed to.. they sent that creature to spy over me. It was.. what was in the restroom. For whatever reason, it reacted poorly to the Network, and its implants started to literally eat away at it. Kyra and I managed to save its life and it left our company shortly after. I couldnt tell you at the time, or His Honor, Gabranth, because.. if I had, they would have killed their hostage.

Her right hand would grip her left arm just above the elbow, as she kind of rubbed it self-consciously, looking away. It was a situation that was likely to dim his opinion of her far more than simply having rowdy house guests, but she was a pretty honest individual at her core.
Riku "You are just a ray of sunshine, Alma. Has anyone ever told you that?" Riku grins and chuckles. "..but I'm often not any better, so I retract my statement." he rubs the bridge of his nose, leaning against the tree.

"Okay. This is a lot to take in at once. Give me a minute." The teenager crosses his arms, brow furrowing as he stares into the middle distance for a while. Mulling this over. "So." he asks crisply after the silence has ended. "Is this person still held hostage, possibly for your continued good behavior?"
Riku My sister and a friend of mine tells me that, all the time. /All/ the time. I think Rena told me she pities whoever decides to try and make me happy. Shed just give him an awkward look, managing a lopsided smile. Really? I hadnt noticed. I think the rainclouds swirling around me obscured that part of you.

Shed give him a minute, still looking away. Shed listen to his statement, and her gaze would remain focused on the waterfall ahead, Yes. Were working on it. Trust me when I say this.. while I may have had to play the part of a helpless damsel to preserve her life.. Her voice takes on a hard edge, It doesnt mean that I am. I dont like violence, but I dont allow my friends to be harmed by anyone.
Riku "I bet not." Riku says with a small snort. He gives her an appraising look and then simply nods in agreement. "I'll trust you to handle this then. However, if this Murasame corporation starts poking around in a manner that leans on Archadian security, they and I are going to have words. Or rather-- people significantly above my paygrade, some of which can have people for lunch literally, socially or figuratively."

Riku leans away from the tree and walks down a small downslope to the water's edge. He sits there and settles back, taking off his boots and socks and laying them aside as he puts his feet in the pool. "And I would simply have to sit back and offer you popcorn in that case. Something that would bring a smile to anyone's face. Maybe even yours."

He chuckles awkwardly for a moment and then looks across the pool with his hands in his lap.
Riku Riku chuckles quietly. "Hopefully, when this is over you can leave all of that behind. It sounds like you carried a lot more baggage with you than I did when I left home. It must be pretty tiring." he rubs the back of his neck, splashing languidly with his feet despite the only somewhat sun-warmed chill of the water.

"They-- really must have done a number for you to obsess over them so, but from the little I've heard-- that's.. pretty much a given. Pretty hard to look up at the stars when someone is trying to put your feet to the fire."
Riku Im trying to get out, that is. But every time I almost am, they pull me back in She leans back on her elbows, her own feet splashing in the water. its getting to be very wearying, and worrisome. I think Im fretting all the time over my sister, who is making some very sweet, but bad decisions in an attempt to protect me.

Shed look up at the sky. The stars werent out, and the suns glare wasnt all that harsh, but still shed remove one of her supporting arms and put a single hand above her eyes to block out the glare.

Well its become even more complicated.. Id look to the stars for guidance.. but they have none, not on this.. What would you do to bring a loved one back from the dead, Riku?

And after a very awkward pause, shed add, This is going to have to be our little secret, but the reason its becoming so hard to move on is that Souji.. just wont. Ive learned that everything he does, every horrific act, every iota of suffering that he inflicts, /will/ inflict upon others is all for the attempt at bringing my elder sister back to life.


and whats worse is I dont know where I stand on that. I dont want anyone to suffer, but what would you do for a loved one? Die for them? Kill for them? as theyre telling me it might require decisions that will sacrifice thousands of lives.

Riku slowly turns his head towards Alma (and in a horror movie this would be the point where the door creaks. Well, the neckbones anyways. Creeeeeeeeeak) and his facial expression has gone completely blank. He furrows his brow very slightly as he stares at her. He blinks slowly once, canting his head slightly to the side. Riku grits his teeth and breathes in a few very quiet breaths before he just huffs out a snort and grabs his boots.

He tucks them and his socks underneath his arm and he steps back from the pool. He turns on a heel as if preparing to leave when he stops himself. He sighs out a growling breath and turns back to Alma, eyes amber and shimmering on the edge of luminous.

He kneels down and gently puts his hands on Alma's shoulders. "Okay. I get it. You've been practically bleeding words this whole trip so you need to get this out to someone. Even somebody you've barely met. So. I am going to sit here, and listen-- and you-- .. just.. continue." It's what Zargabaath had done for him. Listened when he needed someone to listen. It was time for him to pay it forwards.

Riku slowly lets her go and puts his hands back in his lap, face composing itself into calm but the amber stays bright and slightly eerie. "..Start from the beginning if you want, since you've given me a lot of the middle."
Riku You ever get the feeling that someone just walked over your grave? Except, that it was /you/ that walked over your own grave. Thats initially how it feels to Alma, as Riku turns, and just looks at her. And then hes walking away.. and she just doesnt know what to say or do. So she does nothing except cringe and offer a quick /sorry/, which was so soft that it might not even be audible.

Shed peer into the depths of those eyes once again. Shed seen it several times she had only the slightest inkling of what it meantand a shudder wracks her body. Shes not certain who shes really afraid of, the darkness, or the man. Had it been only a month ago, she might have literally ran away at this point.

And then his hands are on her shoulders, and shed stiffen, despite herself. Shed close her eyes, then shed take a deep breath. Then shed open them again, looking over her shoulder to stare once more into those eerie amber depths. It almost felt like she was an insect, entrapped within them, despite his open, honest demeanor. A stammer crept into her voice as she started to try and relate her feelings.

Theres.. t-theres not much more to tell. You know the b-beginning, or at least what I k-know of the beginning. You know the m-middle up until the point where M-Mister Sherman told me when he looked at S-Souji Murasame and s-saw what he i-intends to do for my s-sister. I just.. I have n-noone to turn to. K-Kyra doesnt want to talk about it. My b-best friend doesnt want to t-talk about it. M-My other f-friend will be..b-biased. And now Im f-faced with a choice. To t-try and stop the man, at the cost of ever s-seeing her againto g-get out of his way, to a-allow such evil while I do n-nothing and d-die by inches inside, w-watching it. Or to h-help himat the c-cost of e-everything that makes I k-know only a little of the b-beginning.. I k-know the middle what I w-wish someone would tell me is how this is g-going to end..

Shed remove her glasses at this point, setting them aside, a single hand upon her face. She hadnt fully broken down into tears yet.

Y-You know.. I t-think that at this p-point Ive f-fully mucked up any c-chance we had at a p-pleasant walk t-through the city. Maybe we could j-just tryf-forgetting about it, s-starting over a-again t-talking less about me, me, me Im s-sorry that Ive been so s-selfish.
Riku "mister sh--" Riki lets out an explosive laugh and sits back on his butt snickering. It completely ruins his somber demeanor but he doesn't seem to care. The darkness evaporates like water vapor under the desert heat and he has to hold his sides after a moment.

"Oh. No /WONDER/ -- " he laughs and slaps a hand to his head with a thump. "..God. Now he's doing it indirectly. It's confusion and possibly soapbox by proxy." he growls good naturedly and then calms down enough to listen to the rest of the story. He gets up and offers to pull Alma up onto her feet.

He does not however turn towards the rest of the park. He instead, step by step, attempts to leads her back into the water which gets progressively deeper. If not, he stands there alone, hands extended slightly. "Look Alma." he says, still holding her hand if she lets him have it and keep it.

"I have to hand it to you. I understand MUCH less than half of what you've told me over the past few days. And most of the stuff I do understand is prodding a /very/ difficult place to reach, so I have to give you credit for that at least."

A deep breath and then a sigh. "But I would be lying if I told you I didn't understand that you are hurting. I thought once that I would do /anything/ if it would bring my world back. If it would bring--- my friends back. But I want you to see something. In your mind, just see it. Just close your eyes-- and your sister is alive. You brought her back to life. She smiles at you. She laughs. You can hear her speak.

And.. now. Listen. Another Will Sherman-ism I've took to keeping. Listen. Just listen really hard as you are looking at her. As you are seeing all this-- and if you can't hear her over the price you paid for her life. Then that is all you are going to hear for the rest of your life. Believe me Alma, if you believe nothing else that I say-- I know what I'm talking about."
Riku The hand would pull away from her eyes, and shed start to gape at him. Now it was her turn for anger to justwell up inside her. It was a strange feeling, as it /rarely/ ever happened to her.. her arms were literally trembling with fury, it was like he was making a mockery of her sister. She could accept someone making a mockery of herself, just not /her/. As he continued to laugh, and get up, shed even start to speak with an acerbic tone. H..How dare- And then he interrupts again by thumping his head, and shed just look at him in bewilderment, all of that anger just evaporating on its own. What in the /Chaos/ just happened there? Did Will Sherman really have this mystical effect on people?

She told the rest of her story to him numbly, and then he got up, and offered to pull her to her feet. Shed do so, though her feet were still dripping wet, and now a touch mucked up from the dirt of the downslope.

Hed lead her into the water, and she wouldnt resist. At first shed grab the hem of the skirt just enough to keep it out of the water, but after a short time it got up high enough that she couldnt feasibly hold onto it any longer. So shed just let go, accepting that she was going to be soaked.

She did as he bid, she closed her eyes, tightly. She imagined her, exactly as she was from the picture that Souji had given as a gift from her. She was smiling.. laughing. The same old Tira. Pretty, popular, the same girl that everyone had loved.. Alma more than most, even if she was frequently jealous of her.

To Alma however, the price that she had paid for her life didnt manifest as a simple whispering on the wind they were voices. Nameless voices. At first it was a soft susurrus, when the numbers were still low. Then it came to be thousands, the kind of lives that Souji and Helena had always told her that she would have to sacrifice. And then the voices came beyond counting. There were millions the world shards Souji and Feige had asked for her to give to them. Stars twinkled, then died, in the skies above.. and the world below shrank, and became smaller Then there was nothing left, but Tira and herself in that realm of absolute calignosityand she couldnt hear anything. Nothing at all. The roar had deafened her.

And then the tears came, and she wasnt smiling, but she definitely appeared to be more composed. Her voice carried a sort of gentle reproval to it.

Well, shame on you for making that decision so/very//simple/.

She enunciated each word at the end, shaking in silent laughter. But in the end, that only caused her to cry more.

And once she felt she couldnt, any longer, shed repeat that,

Yes, shame on youfor probably reducing a few months of angst and terrible decisions, into getting me wet, and squeezing every tear I had out of me in the space of a few minutes. And now, now..even worse, I feel like I owe you dinner. A few years of dinner.

Shed take him by the hand, and lead him towards the edge of the pond, allowing him to follow if he wished, but otherwise, as shed sit in a patch of sun, giving herself some time to dry.

Nownow that weve gotten that out of the way. Lets really start over and talk about you instead... so I can pretend to understand you just as well as you did me.

/The Power of Will Sherman STRIKES AGAIN/.
Riku Riku looks very embarrassed actually as she moves back towards the edge. He stays there for a few moments, feeling an overwhelming rush of relief and also complete awkwardness again because Alma was crying and he didn't know what to do in that instance.

However, many months of pretending-- of acting in one way or another because he had to kept him from inserting his foot straight into his mouth. Instead, he finds that sometimes-- silence is everything that is needed.

So he remains quiet and only smiles somewhat sheepishly at the offer of dinner. Several years worth of it. He settles down with a squelch on the hillside to dry, "Well. I've chosen not to answer because many of the questions you asked come with very sharp edges. But -- I think we can manage a conversation, nevertheless."
Riku Shed have her arms around her knees, partially because given her soaked state and being in a white dress that was clinging to her.. well more might show than she wanted anyone to actually see. And partially because she was cold, and shivering just a little while waiting on the desert sun to work its magic..

Shed quietly regard him for a while with a ruminative look for a time, before the worry lines on her face just sort of smoothed out, and she managed to smile ruefully,

Well, Im a healer... and I really am loathe to see people cut themselves. On memories, or anything else.. So you take your time, tell me what youd like, when youre ready, and well see if we can keep the trauma to a minimum.

There was a lull in the conversation as she looked behind them, back at the gazebo, then returned her focus back to him.

So instead, why dont you just tell me what you like to do for fun? When you just need to escape from anguish of reminiscence.. and well see if we cant cheer both of us up. Popcorn with real butter seemed like a fine start.

This scene contained 17 poses. The players who were present were: Riku.