When Foce stirred from her sleep, she felt the warm sun on her face and Jessie's soft arms around her. Something seemed preposterous about it; there was no mistaking her vampiric sense of smell, and she could hear someone snoring, it sounded like Jessie, but it wasn't right in her ear, as it should be since she was still asleep in the doorway.
She decided to open her eyes and frowned at the peculiarities of her situation, she was on a bed, the sun was out the window, tingling her skin, nearly burning her, and Jessie was out of plain view.
With a grumble, Foce sat up on her knees and discovered a snoring Jessie, facing the ceiling. The vampire rolled her eyes and fell back onto the bed. As much as she was sure she didn't care for the dark, she also determined she was not a morning person; and as cute as Jessie was, she really should've looked after herself more, so someone had to rectify the current circumstances.
The purple eyed girl grabbed a pillow and a blanket and reluctantly climbed out of bed, she draped the blanket over Jessie, then rolled her onto her side and raised her head, tucked the soft and squishy material under her now-quietly-breathing friend, and went back to bed.
Jessie had forgotten that she went to sleep on the floor last night, but the soft breathing she heard coming from her bed reminded her how she was too fatigued to carry Foce, and unwilling to disturb her. She didn't recall bringing a pillow or blanket with her, but was glad she did, as it was a rather chilly morning.
She slowly sat up and shielded her eyes from the glaring sun, "Must be back in the overworld, maybe we landed in the mountains...that would explain a lot."
The hero pulled herself to her feet and smiled at Foce, "It was a rough night, I should let her stay in...but maybe I should wake her up? Unless she's having a good dream, of course."
She sat on the unoccupied side of the bed, incidentally blocking the sunlight that, as she focused on the other's skin, had turned it a light pink, probably not a good thing.
"Hey, Foooce," she whispered energetically, "it's morning now...okay, then, I'm gonna go see if anyone's started breakfast yet. I'm also gonna pull the curtains close, I'm not sure prolonged exposure to the sun is good for you."
She stood up and slowly backed up, felt around for the curtains and pulled them closed. After that she found some candles, which she lit with low level fire magic, and arranged them on the tables in the room, then started to leave when Foce sat up and looked around, frowning at the sudden change in the room.
"How did...were you trying to wake me just now?"
"Yeah, and you looked like you were gonna get burned by the sun, so I closed the curtains, but that made it dark, so I lit some candles." Jessie explained, rubbing the back of her neck, "I didn't want to drag you out of bed, but I thought I should at least try to wake you..."
"I was already awake, I found you sleeping on the floor...sorry I put you out like that." she drawled, rolling onto her side to face Jessie directly.
"You didn't put me out, I just didn't want to shake the bed and wake you up again, I wasn't sure how light a sleeper you were."
Foce sighed and shook her head, "You are unbelievable, you know that?"
"Hah, I'll take your word for it! Anyways, I'm hungry so, I'll be back after breakfast and you can get your dose of blood for the day."
"Alright...I'll be right behind you, more or less." Foce muttered, closing her eyes as Jessie walked away.
Foce showed up in the kitchen five minutes later and found the table already set and the hero was spooning out batter from a bowl onto a pan. She knitted her brows as she tried to understand what Jessie was doing.
"Umm, what does that accomplish?" Foce didn't want to make it less appetizing to Jessie by saying it looked like mud, but it looked like mud.
"This is the batter for pancakes, I now it doesn't look like much, but they'll be fluffy and delicious when they're done." Jessie assured, smiling at the drowsy looking young woman, "The coffee will also be done soon."
"Hmm..." Foce held her head in her hand and slid into a chair.
Jessie turned around and frowned slightly, "You look tired, Foce...maybe you should get back to bed for a while."
"Alright, I will..."
Jessie flipped the pancake and turned to find Foce tiredly walking away, "Something tells me you've got a lot on your mind right now."
She resumed silently fixing breakfast until she heard Ray and Sarah chatting in the hall, "Hey, did you see Foce just now, Ray?"
"Mm, yes, I bade her good day as I passed her on my way here, she looked exhausted." Ray remarked worriedly.
"Yeah, but why did she go to Jessie's room...did she forget where hers was?" Jessie turned and saw the two round the corner into view, "Jess-"
"It's fine, she stayed over last night and I told her to go back to bed, so it makes sense she went back to my room." Jessie explained, deciding against sharing the details of Foce's visit.
Sarah nodded slowly, "Mm, I guess she stayed up watching over you all night, huh? Maybe we should start taking shifts so she doesn't have to worry about a copy breaking into the airship without anyone's notice."
"Night watches sound like a good idea, considering all that's transpired." Ray agreed, taking an apple from a fruit basket.
"Oh, boy, I can tell ya now, I'm not looking forward to that!" Jessie announced mirthfully, "Looks like we should hurry and find that sword, huh?"
"Indeed, but I must ask that you exclude yourself from such a task," Ray adjusted his glasses sagely as he followed his request with his reasoning, "that double is after you, for some reason it wants you blood, and has made no move to take on anyone else, despite the equal opportunity, this is an oddity but we can use it to our advantage, we will rig your room with a complex alarm spell that releases an area of affect paralysis spell originating from the middle of your room that reaches the threshold of your room along with a fire spell that activates twenty seconds after wards. Everyone will carry charms to prevent those effects from harming them so we can go in there and rush the intruder, otherwise no one will enter that room. You'll have to sleep elsewhere."
"She can just track me down by my smell." Jessie pointed out, "There's no reason for her not to sniff me out in the first place."
"Yes, but assuming she's trying to find you by smell, you will simply carry some garlic from here to your room, and throw it in there, she'll think you're trying to mask your scent with it and kick the door down, triggering our trap, but assuming she doesn't want to risk getting caught, she will likely attack from outside, opening the window to find you is her best bet, opening your room's window will trigger a vortex spell that will spit her into the midst of the area of affect."
"We can't kill her, so we'll just let her burn for a while?" Sarah tapped her temple and smiled, "That's clever, even she wouldn't risk the pain again after the first time."
"That's the hope, but she may not even attack until she fully duplicates...she may even try to head us off on our search, seeking out the means with which we could end her, knowing that's exactly where we'd go." Ray pulled a book out of his mage's robe and gave it to Sarah, "In it there's an allusion to a mighty, ancient blade, it's a guarded treasure buried deep in a vault, so the plan is to let her spring the traps, wear herself down, and then run in after her."
"She probably intends the same for us, though, and if she's working for Vindicatus, and if he's alive, she can afford to wait for us to spring the trap, we can't afford to wait." Sarah pointed out as she studied the building in an illustration, "The best plan is to rush in the, blasting ice and fire, and just go in for the prize, she can deal with the left overs if she wants to chase us inside, if not...then her plan was to nab us when we're exiting, in that case we should have more paralysis traps, and we'll so we need to know exactly where that sword is before we go setting off the alarms."
"Setting traps intended for a target following us without letting the enemies around us find their way inside is going to be next to impossible." Ray felt like he was getting a headache just thinking about it, but it wasn't like they'd have many choices.
"I'll just feel stupid if she winds up hiding out in the airship, waiting for us to return." Sarah grumbled, frustrated by the many ways they could walk into an ambush.
"We could just customize the trap to go off when Foce is around," Ray pointed out, "of course, we'd disable it on our way back out, that way no matter where she strikes, we'll have myriad ways to antagonize her."
"That's gonna take a lot of mana...we should switch into classes that aren't so heavily dependent on casting magic after we've set our traps." Sarah advised, falling silent as the breakfast was laid out.
"Is that really a good idea, though?" Jessie wonder aloud. The couple that had silently found their way to the table muttered an agreement. Jacob also quietly found his seat and stayed out of the conversation, "I mean, it's a duplicate, but it's not exactly the same as the real thing, is it? She's Foce and...that thing that was made after her may have her memories, but they're not the same people."
"That's a good point, we've never faced a situation where Duplicity was used." Ray considered the point again and after a few moments continued, "No, I think it cause any major issues, Foce's copy was made to be a perfect magical replica of her, anything that works for Foce should work for the replica as well."
"In theory..." Jessie added dubiously, "but right now we're talking about the product of a forbidden spell with unknown qualities, this may not be the kind of magic that works logically, after all, it doesn't act off of Foce's memories and experiences. All the pain and heartbreak being a vampire must've caused her doesn't reflect in that monster's actions, it remembers, but it doesn't feel, at least, not how she does."
"Maybe we should try just to know," Sarah proposed, fearing Jessie was feeling defensive about Ray's perception of Foce, "we can all agree that we don't know what we don't know, so let's just say that it'd be helpful if it does work, right? We'll find a way to make using only physical attacks work, and if we need to fight, we will! We'll just have to keep Foce at full power as a precaution, she can fly and make plants come out of no where, that's definitely gonna be helpful!"
"Right, right, aaand," Romeo began, waving his hands excitedly, "now we have two powerful Guardians on our side!"
"Eh...do we?" Juliet wondered, glancing around, "I haven't heard anything of them all day today."
"They're still camping out in the living room." Jessie assured, "I found them exactly where they were when I left them."
"Do longtime residents of the underworld need more sleep than most people?" Sarah thought about how light and dark didn't have much of a dynamic in this world, "It's like they live in eternal darkness here, the only source of light used to be fire, until that...thing in the sky appeared just before we encountered Fellnyx...I hesitate to call it the sun, or even a sun."
"We did hurt them pretty badly yesterday." Ray pointed out guiltily, "It only makes sense they'd be reluctant to wake up after a while. When they do wake up, I'll ask about the vault where that sword's being kept, see if they have any idea where it may be...we should also ask Foce, just in case she may know, if she thinks it's even slightly familiar, so will her double..."ns188.8.131.52da2