After entertaining Spring and sitting in a cluster of tables, the team's curiosity and patience was rewarded with gorgon noodles, prepared by Spring herself, "Eat up, guys!" Spring cheered, splitting the two plates on smaller plates, "We make these like a bowl for salad, and serve them like this, more out of tradition than for convenience." Autumn lit a candle and slid it over to Spring, then dimmed the other lights.
Byrd groaned in annoyance, "Seriously?!"
"Well, this could be fun!" Kokoso decided.
"It could, but can't you guys tell the story without light effects?" Cathryn wondered, "I am pretty hungry after all the running around we did today."
"Well, you guys can see pretty well in the dark, right?" Spring pointed out, "Just give your eyes a chance to adjust! Now, on with the story. Once upon a time--Byrd, no bellyaching! This is the way the tale begins...now, once upon a time, a monster appeared from the canyons beyond a...formerly bustling metropolis, the city gathered it's heroes and with the might of spirits on their side, they made preparations for the final battle...before then, a meal was served for the warriors, made by a spirit who was especially whimsical. The meal was served in pan that had pie in it, but the spirit was short on time, so got a plate, set it face down over the pie, and turned it over, that's how the upside down pineapple cake came to be. Anyways, the pan was then filled with specially prepared foods, and baked together...the whimsical nature was revealed with the eggs that were made to resemble eyes, the small army had some laughs and ate their fill, afterwards they went on to make history, ask Re for more details. Okay, Autumn, give them their light."542Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡD7NJlCzIlE
Autumn lit the other candles and Cathryn covered her eyes, "Right when I got used to the dark."
"Anyways, that's the story on this meal." Spring watched the friends take experimental bites before deciding to eat more, "Ha, ha, is it good, then?"
"Yeah, but," Kokoso stroked his chin, "you and Noel are both really good at cooking, but neither of you have before, right?"
"That's not true for me," Spring corrected, "there have been times I generated a body, and I always had to eat to keep it alive, too...quite bothersome."
"I don't know how I'm good at this, maybe I was a royal chef?" Noel poked her food slowly, "I sure hope not."
"There's no real way of knowing," Maria stood up, "but I did meet History today, she said the king and his scientists were mobilizing, they lost an android, she said something about the android being as coordinated as a gymnast, and had the firepower of a phoenix borne aloft the winds. Apparently she's also Relia Cordelia."
"Oh, no way!" Spring laughed, "Autumn broke her name into Re and Cord once, and whenever she said something crazy, Autumn would say 'Really, Cord?' and eventually it changed into 'Really-ah Cordelia?', but Historia, being as creative as she is, altered it to Relia Cordelia!"
"That's pretty creative." Kokoso remarked.
"But what's this about the android?" Autumn inquired, "If it comes here because of the Mosaic Rosetta the Company probably programmed it to find, we might not be able to protect the village."
"We could try to shut it down." Noel suggested, "If we break into the city and hack into the science team's computer network, we could learn how to disable it without fighting it."
"But you wouldn't be able to go out for long," Spring advised, "without the blessing of the Wilds, you'd be powerless, and you can only carry so much power with you in your Pocket Zone."
"The only reason me and Byrd and Cat hung outside the Wilds so long," Kokoso added, "was because we went on strictly Beach District missions, Mother Goose handled anything else, but we are talking about fighting out there, we need a solid plan!"
"Okay...the plan is we'll exit the influence of the Wilds, just to see how we long we can stay outside of it." Maria looked to the spirits, "How about that?"
"That's a good idea...but only the city is deprived of the Wilds, their machines pull the power right out of the ground, and all the metal built on the ground mixed with the lack of plants makes it very hard for the Wilds to manifest there, the only place to test you limits is the city itself." a familiar voice warned.
"Mother Goose," Maria turned around to find the white winged woman, "what are you doing here?"
"I was informed that you were discussing a way to stop a rampant android that may or may not be headed here, I want to plan this with you...and warn you that if you engage the Company, you might have to fight humans, not monsters, humans." Mother Goose stared at her feet, "You may find that proceed deeper into the palace without being swarmed, you have to kill the soldiers, you'll want to conserve your magic, and keep in mind that it's going to be even harder to leave than it was to break in, and...a larger party runs the risk of being caught, yet there is a...technique, one of your friends back here will wear one of the magic necklaces the Seasonal Girls gave you, you'll wear the other, and the Wilds, by its nature, will seek to fill the void around you, it will sap your friend's power, and the Seasonal Spirits themselves will struggle with supplying you special attacks, and nearly collapse if you try to use Spirit Strikes...I ask that you carefully consider the benefits of heading out when we don't even know if the android is a danger, or stay and grow stronger, so you might be able to handle the android when the time comes, and if you ultimately choose to go, choose who will act in what capacity and when you will go try to fight the Company."
Mother Goose turned away and left them to consider the options.
"So, we could begin the process cutting their manpower, firepower, and maybe finding out where the android is and what harm it presents, or hang out here, get better gear, become stronger as individuals and a team." Maria looked from one to another and turned her attention back to the food on her plate, "Those are our choices."
"Our safer bet is here," Kokoso sighed, turning his eyes to the ceiling, "and yet, we'd be fighting blind if we didn't break in."
"I don't think anyone here's ever had to kill someone," Byrd crossed his arms, "but it's not like we haven't almost died before, we know what it is to risk our lives, those monsters could possibly kill us in any battle, no matter how much stronger than them we are...and if we're fighting the same fight we have been, then I'm ready to take that same chance I've been taking."
"Our enemies have to decide for themselves if that's what they want to do," Cathryn added, "but it doesn't mean I won't regret it, for their sake and ours."
Noel silently agreed and leaned back in her chair, "I wonder if we'll find something about me there, if I was...I agree, we should go, any day they could come here, android or not...but they may even want us to go looking for it, they might have ways of knowing we're there, they would even sacrifice a few of their own if it means keeping us away from the village while they come here to find and take the Mosaic Rosetta...they'll send fleets of ships and if mine is just the first suit, then there would be more fliers, launching from those ships, they'd have more fuel to fly around with than I had, and the suits could use the fuel more efficiently, if that happened, then the half of us staying here...we'd have to cut you guys off, and...I'd rather not do that."
"I understand, but we're not breaking in this time, we'll be there for a few minutes to get an idea for how long we might could stay without fighting, then run back and determine if we need to be stronger." Maria watched as Noel quietly stood up, "Historia will probably have more to tell us later."
"I...I don't know how to feel about this, I don't want to suddenly remember that this, losing a machine, a weapon, was part of the plan...I don't want to turn around and kill you." Noel hurried to and ran out the kitchen door.
She didn't know where to, or how far, but she wanted to run until she couldn't run, until her memories came back. She closed her eyes as she passed the Mosaic Rosetta, and ascended, searching for somewhere to hide, as illogical as it was to her that she could hide from what was to come--whatever that may be--she wanted to hide more than anything.
She flew across the canyons and found the site of the camp where she united with the others, the tent was gone, but the pit there still held the charred limbs and ashes that reminded her of the dying fire where she found Maria keeping watch. She turned around and found the tree where she observed them, watched them keep shifts, considering if she should go to them or continue watching from a distance.
She got so far off of lies, she was good at it as long as she was watching them from afar, but as they let her into their circle she felt ashamed of her lies, and found it harder to say anything ever, she was alone, and she wanted it to stay that way, for whatever reason, she couldn't discern.
Noel leaned against the stony surface of the mountain, if the tent had still been there, she would have been hiding well.
Maria stood from her chair and ran out as fast as she could, followed closely by the others, "We need a plan to find her, Cathryn, who should run with who?"
"What, we're splitting up?!" Cathryn shouted, "You must be crazy, if anything half of us are going with you!"
"Okay, Kokoso, Spring, with me! We'll run past the Mosaic Rosetta, you guys will use the Mosaic Rosetta and run back up this way, she can't have gone far, and must have run into opposition, the monsters in the woods shouldn't be able to hurt her, but further in...Kokoso, I've changed my mind, you should take the Rosetta way, too, they'll need all the help they can get!" Maria ordered, the Mosaic Rosetta coming up.
"You have about five seconds to revise that plan-" Byrd began, when Maria turned around sternly.
"We're way stronger than we were, and we're not on a resource run, we're bolting straight through here, fighting only when probably helpful, or absolutely necessary!" Maria turned around again, "We'll met in the middle, just try not to take too long!"
"Wait, what about when we find her?" Cathryn pointed out, "Byrd, go find the tent and some kindling!"
"Got it, I remember where Kokoso stuffed it this time!" Byrd jumped back and threw himself forward.
"We'll wait up for you!" Kokoso promised as the group disappeared.
Maria turned around and saw Spring still following her, "Don't worry, I'm still here...I just have to catch up with you."
"Good thing it was noodles." Maria remarked.
"Ha, yeah, I'm just glad it doesn't need to be gorgon noodles!" Spring shouted back, slowly catching up with Maria.
Maria nodded and they continued forward, the dark trail stretching before them foreign in the scarce moonlight, clouds sometimes obscuring it completely, but eyes would adjust, given time.ns184.108.40.206da2