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Looking to Melissa, a little bashful at the praise that she had received on her win against the spike brother she said, "oh, well, I suppose that's true yes." After a bit of sorting things around, Fen smiled to everyone saying, "I hope everyone doesn't mind me using these immediately," she gestured to the fish in the boxes. Once she was given the okay to the girl got all of her equipment out and started prepping some of the fish for breakfast, while sectioning away some of the others and putting the refrigerator - a device of which she still had conflicting feelings on.

Hearing Trevor's question the girl looked up and said, "oh, well, since we have no mission to take care of I figured I would, well, get to know the city better. It's only been a few days and this place is, well uh, bigger than anywhere else I've been so I suppose it makes sense I'm not all well acclimated with the area. But I figured I should know uh, more about the place I'm defending. So well, to that end I sent a watch letter to Kelsey to aid as a, um, guide." At this moment Fen paused as she had suddenly received a notification on her watch. Looking at it, she had seen two responses from the girl she had just been talking about. 

Ok first of all i have got to teach you how to talk through text lol
So you're saying you want to hang out right?

Fen stared at the pair of messages for a moment, wondering if she had done something wrong. Well, it was very evident that she had as Kelsey's, who was likely far more versed in this then she was, messages were far shorter and concise. It was clear that Fen had many things to learn still about this world, in all of its intricacies. However, having already blundered on her first message - though Kelsey seemed to still largely know what she was talking about - she was trying to figure out how best to word her next message. Having paused her activities entirely the girl thought hard about the next message she would send until finally she tried to make one with as few words as possible. 

Yes. Thank you.

aight lol
ttys

Fen blinked at the response. She was fairly certain that Kelsey did in fact want to hang out for the day. She figured at first she just missed a letter or two in "alright," but the "lol" had come up a second time and the girl couldn't for the life of her figure out what "lol" was supposed to be. Was it some kind of dialect where the lol replaced a period? Though the second, equally arcane combination of "ttys" didn't include a "lol" next to it. As such, she could only really assume that the girl said "alright," and could not figure out any part of the message beyond that but simply hoped it didn't matter. 


 

After having made breakfast and served it to everyone, not too much longer had passed until a knock came at their front door. "Oh, I'll uh, I'll get that," the girl said to the others as she made her way over to the entrance. Opening the door to see Kelsey behind it, Fen smiled saying, "oh, welcome Kelsey." The girl gave a polite bow saying, "I'm glad you decided to meet up with me today. So uh, did you have anything in mind to check out? Oh, I also just finished with breakfast but you're welcome to anything as well." 

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As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”
-Mark 13:1 (NIV)


Melissa kept as much attention as she could as Aduain described a situation that would be impossible to contain in the margins of any paper he wrote it down on, but her mind was elsewhere. She’d already had breakfast and wasn’t hungry for more, so she had to turn down Fen’s offer of cooking, but she still chewed on her thoughts as if that would help her make a decision. Trevor had asked what they were all doing today, and while Fen already had plans, Melissa… didn’t.

On some level, she had the same wants as Fen. Prana was their ward, to be sure, but it was still an enigma to her, and having someone tour everyone around was probably the best bet. Kelsey was certainly one of the better options for that, the overlap in “those we know” and “those fit to give a tour” was not large in Melissa’s mind. Rei was an option, but that girl had largely exchanged phone numbers with Melissa out of obligation. Texting her too soon would come off as needy, wouldn’t it?

Plus, after spending so much time meeting so many new people, Melissa kind of just wanted to be alone. She just wanted to wander, and while she recognized her situation as a celebrity guardian and a host left her little in the way of physical or mental privacy, it was something she wanted to work towards just as well as everything else she was training and developing. Of course, she had been focusing on those aspects of herself because her spiritual life had been forcibly put on hold. What was she going to do, go to some dragon temple as a proxy?

Well…

It wasn’t the worst idea, and she was curious. To be clear, it was an academic sort of curiosity -- Melissa was very confident in her faith even in adverse times such as these. She wasn’t about to convert to some otherworldly religion on a whim. In the worst case, she could learn what needed improving when she inevitably did start proselytizing, and at best it could serve as one of those universal quiet places of prayer and reflection that peppered public areas back on Ambrosia. Maybe the dragon god was a less jealous sort than her capital G one.

Melissa realized that if she was going to go pray somewhere she should probably look the part. She mumbled some excuse about thanking everyone for the company at breakfast or something, checked on Bartleby again, and slipped back upstairs to change into her Sunday best nun getup. She packed what supplies she had into a bag -- Duel- Yu-Gi-Oh! deck in case the Spike Brothers waylaid her, the church program she’d been clutching when Mauvache brought her here… did she need a water bottle? That was something to consider for later.

Fen was greeting Kelsey at the door when Melissa came back down, and Melissa nodded her greetings to the both of them. “I’ll see you around,” she said. “I think I have everyone’s numbers if we need to get in touch.

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Kelsey read over Fen's message again as she impatiently waited for someone to let her in. It made her laugh the first time and it made her laugh this time too. She wondered why it was that this group had caught her interest so much. They weren't the most recent group since hers had arrived. Perhaps it was that their first meeting was a fight or perhaps it was because she was reminded of...

"oh, welcome Kelsey." The girl gave a polite bow saying, "I'm glad you decided to meet up with me today. So uh, did you have anything in mind to check out? Oh, I also just finished with breakfast but you're welcome to anything as well." 

"Yo!" Kelsey responded and walked in without prompting. "I already ate something but I don't mind eating something else too, I was always told I burned too much energy so might be good to pack more in ya know?"

I’ll see you around,

"Not having a girl's night then?" Kelsey said. "Well, laters!"

Kelsey made her way to where the food was and began to grab some herself. "As for what I had in mind, there's so much to do and I don't really know what you like. Could go watch some fights at the Arena, or go play some sports, maybe beat up that Adonis guy a couple more times..." She paused. It hit her that all the things she listed were physical or sports related. "Hm." She looked over at Fen. For a moment she imagined someone else standing there, teasing in a subtle way about her choices, and a nostalgic smirk crossed her face for a moment. "Do you maybe wanna go to the aquarium or something?"


Melissa's search for a temple brought her to something unexpected.

It seemed there were four buildings that could be described as a temple. At the north, south, east, and west of the city. Each of them also apparently served as transporters that could send someone to the other layers of the city.

The building itself, whichever she had gone to, was long and oval shaped. With a domed ceiling that had several of some sort of narrow spires sticking from it. The entrance was open, there were no doors and only and open doorway, and she could walk in without problem.

Inside she'd see a long hallway and a tall ceiling, twelve feet from the floor, which had no lights. The only lights seemed to come from open blue flames that were in nooks every half a dozen feet which were between closed doors.

The hall itself was wide, enough for four or five Melissas to walk side by side, and about a dozen people were passing one way or another as she entered. At the far end of the hall, which was quite a ways away, it seemed to open up into a large room.

There were three figures that stood out. Because they were wearing electric blue robes with their hoods down and the lower half of their faces were covered in dark blue masks of some sort of hard material which had scales etched in and seemed to have fanged mouths over where their normal mouths would be. One was standing near the end of the hall, another was walking from door to door and occasionally stopping to let someone in and the other seemed to be checking the fires.

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Melissa hadn’t been sure what she’d been expecting when she walked into one of the temples. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. She’d wanted something familiar, and she knew why she wanted that. She just didn’t want to have wanted that. She didn’t want to impose her own views on whatever other people worshipped. If someone asked her, that was fine, and she’d explain if she felt confident enough (Melissa still remembered Salvo and Natasha asking to compare notes, for example). That was fine. But she wanted to see what was, without judgment, and disappointed herself when she was surprised to see the temple be used as a place of public transport. They didn’t even try to hide it. If you wanted to go to another of Prana’s many levels, a temple was apparently one way to do it.

But Melissa didn’t want to teleport, at least not yet, so she simply stood in the hallway, paralyzed by indecision. There were countless doors on either side of her, and another large room at the end. There was no getting around it. She was going to have to talk to someone eventually. She walked up to one of the acolytes going around the hallway and asked, “I’m looking for the temple. Sorry, I’m new. I just wanted to see what it was like.” She was quick to add, “Like, a sanctuary space or something,” and very nearly apologized again.

Thankfully, the acolyte was understanding, or at least tolerant. “This is the temple,” they said, and they gestured to the doors. “If you wish to worship, you need simply cross the threshold.”

Melissa followed where the acolyte was pointing. “This one?” she said, going to the nearest door.

“Of course.” They followed, placing a hand on the center of the door and sliding it open, though they did not cross the threshold themselves. Past the door was another hallway leading to another door, but this one had a handle on it for Melissa to slide open herself. That door opened with little effort, and she finally found herself in some sort of annex. This was where all the pews she’d been expecting were, arranged in a square surrounding a pillar of flame that went from the floor to the ceiling. Melissa took a moment near the entrance to take it all in before she sat down in one of the pews.

“Is this it?” Melissa thought. If every door led to a room like this, Great Dragon worship seemed to be a solitary experience. And there was no guidance, either. Was there a liturgy that changed with the season? Was she supposed to pray?

She wanted to do something, so she picked a hymn from the several she had memorized and began to sing.

Theme: Poor Wayfaring Stranger

Remembering eight minutes (including the organ interludes, which Melissa tried to replicate by humming) of hymnal music was a little tricky, especially once she got past the verses everyone sang and into the ones that she and nobody else seemed to think were the point of the song (she had opinions!). Closing her eyes helped, keeping her focus inwards and helping her imagine that there really was a small hymnal book in her hands guiding her along, while also keeping the fire from burning onto her retinas.

But Melissa still found herself getting distracted every so often by a persistent hum that seemed to buzz throughout and within her entire body. It made her feel warm in a way she didn’t expect even while sitting close to the fire -- the warmth seemed to be coming from within her body. It was pure religious fervor that kept Melissa from stopping the hymn to check herself for any abnormalities. That went away when she finished, though. Her eyes snapped open to see nothing had changed save the fire was more intense than before. When Melissa stood up from the pew, the buzz dissipated almost entirely.

Standing up and the brighter fire had a tertiary effect that she was now able to see an acolyte in a corner of a room. Melissa yelped when she noticed and felt her cheeks flush even after that. She hadn’t realized she had an audience. And yet, in the quiet that followed, Melissa’s curiosity got the better of her again, and she walked up to the acolyte. “Is there anything else in a worship session? Canon literature readings, sacraments, um, other people?

They looked at Melissa, then at the flame, then back at her. “There is nothing written. There is no need, for each soul here is born with the Great Dragon in them and so all know Them,” they said.

Okay, that makes sense,” Melissa said. Finally, something familiar! She had her own scripture to quote back:


Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
John 14:17 (KJV)

“What is it you seek from the Great Dragon?” the acolyte asked. Perhaps we can assist?”

When she’d set off on her journey this morning, she’d felt pretty confident, and it seemed like every step of the way since then had eroded that confidence a little. Melissa found herself shrinking back. “I don’t know,” she said. “A week ago, a young girl asked if something I did was from The Great Dragon. I asked Mauvache about it but her answer was kind of brief. I like to learn about religions other than my own, so I sought out here. I don't expect someone to proselytize at me out of the blue like this, especially without a chance of conversion, but, um…” She trailed off. She wasn't quite sure where that sentence was going. “Maybe it's blasphemous and I apologize if it is, but is there anything I can do for them?

The response was vague, almost predictably so. “All the Great Dragon asks for is to leave the world better than you came into it and always keep them in your heart. They watch over us, They protect us, They accept our love.”

I see,” Melissa said. She thanked the acolyte with a nod and returned to her pew to pour over things in her head. It probably hadn’t been a lot of information, but it felt like a lot. In a moment, she would probably go and see what else the temple had to offer, but for now, she was content accepting everything and pondering the flame.

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As Fen had greeted her guest, Melissa had made her exit, prompting a smile and wave from Fen as the girl left to take care of her own business. Once Kelsey had let herself in, Fen followed and pondered about the options that were being presented to her. Though she was now aware of the arena from her experience a few days back, she hadn't actually seen people fight in it yet and couldn't help what kind of other individuals were gathered here to fight for what she assumed was sport. She was also curious about what sports they had in this world though part of her could imagine that what Kelsey had in mind was likely some kind of martial arts sport. She also couldn't help but feel sorry for whoever this Adonis person might have been. While all of these were interesting to her, her interest was truly piqued however at the final, more unfamiliar option to her. "What's an aquarium?" she asked curiously. 

Kelsey laughed a bit. "That caught your attention huh, guess I called it." Then explained, "It's a place you go to look at fish and stuff like that. You sorta...walk around and look into glass tanks filled with them swimming around."

"Ooooh....interesting" The girl had known that sometimes restaurants kept seafood in tanks of water and then prepared them at their freshest. She hadn't heard any of them be called an "aquarium" before nor were they ever to the scale of what Kelsey was talking about. But perhaps this was just something unique to this world too. "Do you eat them?"

"What?" Bahahaha!" Kelsey burst out into laughter, doubling over in the process, and took some time to recover. "Oh my god..." She took a breath and steadied herself. "Sorry sorry. But, no, not at all. I'm pretty sure that'd get you thrown out real fast."

"Hmmm, I see," the girl said, a small frown on her face. She hadn't cared about Kelsey's laughter really, and instead was more upset that she wouldn't be able to partake in more of the unique seafood she had found around here. Then after a moment more she smiled. "Well, that's a shame, but I have been curious about all of the different kind of animals here - I've seen a lot of strange, even if familiar looking stuff these past few days. So, that sounds like a great place to go."

"Yeah you'll probably see a lot of strange things here. Heck I still see stuff I never saw before." She poked Fen's forehead. "There's one right here after all."

As her forehead was poked, Fen couldn't help but feel like something similar was said to her a few days prior. Shaking off the feeling she smiled saying, "well maybe we'll see more by the end of the day!" Excitedly the girl waited for Kelsey's lead before following her to the aquarium. 

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Fish, Fen, and Fun

If Fen had any idea what an aquarium was perhaps she would be surprised by how the building looked as they approached it. As it stood she had no reason to think it looked any different than any other aquarium however it still was a striking design.

The building itself looked to be a giant penguin statue. It was two floors high though evidentially by the digital map they could download inside many of the tanks and exhibits were actually underground. In fact the upper floors seemed to be mostly gift shops, employee areas, spots for food, and other such places.

After Kelsey paid, insisting on it without letting Fen get a word in otherwise, for their passes they were directed into a tunnel that gently sloped downwards and curved continuously like a huge spiral staircase without steps.

This tunnel itself was part of the exhibit. As the walls looked to be made of some sort of glass and they could see a wide variety of colorful fish on their way to the main portion of the aquarium.

At the bottom of the tunnel they found themselves in a massive underground room. Separated not by walls but by various rectangular and cube shaped sections of the same type of glass with different sea-life inside.

"So, Fen." Kelsey said, slipping closer to stand next to her. "I don't actually know what fish are like where you're from, but I bet there's plenty here you've never seen before. I remember last time I saw this shark that zipped around leaving a rainbow behind it. Think they called it a Neon Shark or somethin'."

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Fen wasn't quite sure what she was expecting of this "aquarium" building before getting to it. For one she was expecting the entrance to be some kind of large glass wall to display the fish in their entirety to the patrons before they could enter. Though, perhaps that would defeat the purpose of the establishment to begin with and with how much danger there seemed to be on the streets having any building made out of glass seemed like a recipe for disaster. All the same she was still expecting that was roughly building-shaped, and so was taken aback by the large penguin like structure in front of her. "Oh...do birds count as fish then?"

As they walked in, while Fen was marveling the inside of the building Kelsey had already stepped in and paid for her own ticket as well. While Fen would certainly protest to getting a gift unearned from her new friend, frowning a little, the purchase was already made and so there was little point in not accepting it. No, she would just have to bide her time to give her own gift. The girl resolutely looked towards one of the gift shops before making her way down the stairs with Kelsey. 

The girl marveled at the glass tunnel, looking at all of the fish that passed by, her interest peaking about each of them. There were definitely a few that had seemed to resemble, if not outright be the same, as the fish as she knew from back home. The girl found this to be a marvel in of itself, though thinking about it more she and Kelsey both seemed to be of the same species. Sure they had their differences, Fen with her magic and Kelsey with the variety of unique armaments and metallic arm, but beyond those surface level ones they were both still human. As such, she wondered if this was the case for other animals too. After all, there were still fish at all so perhaps there were some that were only different from a surface level perspective too. 

As they made their way to a room filled with more sea life on display, now in glass tanks, the girl looked over to Kelsey as she told her about the strange shark. "Really? I can't say I've ever seen something so well, colorful from back home. Though, hm, I am reminded of uh, these sharks that could move through land when I first arrived. Oh, and there was a rainbow fish that I prepared not too long after arriving too! It was, uh, quite unique for flavor though. I don't think I had ever experienced meat that tasted so different and so well, uh, fruity, across each of its different parts." Her excitement went to concern as she said, "I uh...don't know if we were supposed to eat them either..."

Recomposing herself she said, "oh, but the uh, the fish back from my own home. Well, I uh, I wouldn't say many of them are as exceptional as those, though I'm not sure if "standard" applies when we're from such different places. But um,  hmmm..." The girl put a finger as she mulled on a bit longer. "Oh! Well, magic is not a commonality amongst all humans and animals, but some animals can use it too. There's this species of fish called the Ice Twine, they're a type of  carnivorous fish that travel in large schools together can freeze the water to create giant ice nets to trap their prey. They're internal temperature is also quite low because of this and you can store them fairly easy for long periods of time. Though they don't make the best dish raw as a result. Oh, and while not fish we do have giant beasts that live in the ocean. They make travel between countries quite difficult but they're a marvel to behold as well. Like this enormous multiheaded serpent that can super heat the water around it and breathe giant gouts of steam. It's said that as they grow older they lose their excess heads until only one remains, but the remaining one continues to grow. I've never been able to hunt one though so I couldn't tell you what it's like personally. I don't go on the sea often but there was this one time..." 

Fen rambled about various sea life that existed until realizing that she was just rambling to Kelsey and grew flush with embarrassment as she cleared her throat. "Er, um, but yes those are just a uh, a few of them. How about you? Do you have any unique fish, or uh, sea life?" The girl thought about it for a moment longer, knowing that she was a mage and the sea life from her planet could use magic. Curiously she furthered her question. "Are they, uh, also armed as you are?" 

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If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me.
-Psalm 139:8-10 (NIV)


Melissa had always been interested in other religions, something her church youth group had indulged her in occasionally, visiting other places of worship and hearing about the various ways groups of people reckoned with the divine. She’d almost called herself omnitheistic once upon a time, before a particularly intense prayer session where she talked herself out of it. It was embarrassing to think about now, but she supposed embarrassment was a signifier of growth. This sort of embarrassment was, anyway. In any case, she had been in the worship chambers for longer than she had anticipated, but she was happy with the experience. It was enough to know she never needed to do it again.

She thanked the acolyte again before stepping back out into the hallway, and then the main hallway that led to the teleporter room. It was a curious thing. It had been in the back of her mind during her pious genuflecting, like, she had an analog from back home on Ambrosia for this in, to put it bluntly, normal public transportation, but teleportation was still a new concept to her. Melissa wondered if it was anything like being summoned.

Some of it seemed the same. As Melissa entered the large room with all the teleporters in it, she noted that the teleporters themselves were similar to magic circles from Duel Monsters -- Yu-Gi-Oh!, right, that was what they called it here. Melissa vaguely knew the inspiration for all that, but a lot of information was couched in a moral panic she didn’t really understand. Right now, anyway, it was enough that she recognized them at all.

There were acolytes here, too. Melissa overheard one of them coaching someone else through the process. “Stand here and try not to move until you reach your desired level,” was the request. Okay, she could do that. She had one worry that she wouldn’t know when to get off. It didn’t matter, she was just wandering, but if she just wanted to go one level down, she wanted the process to feel like something. Like, she didn’t want it to hurt, but if she was a little shocked by it, that was okay, right?

Melissa had one other concern, but that was more of an internal matter. She thought to the computers in her head, “You’ll be able to come with me, right?”

We worry if we explain how we might accomplish teleportation given proper research and ADMIN’s resources, you might find the process distasteful. Of course, if you ask further, we will tell you. That was a worrisome set of sentences, but Melissa kept that remark to herself. That being said, we managed to cross a multiverse of time and space together, however far these send us is infinitesimal compared to that.

She did not really want to ask further. And it was true that she’d somehow handled worse. Melissa was still a bit trepidatious as she let the attendant guide her into the circle, but she followed the instructions as best she could.

It turned out, there was a feeling, and it was one Melissa had felt before. Just like when she was in the sanctuary, eyes closed in worship, the teleporters had a tingle to them. That said, the context was different here, so it was a bit uncomfortable now, but it was quick and it was something she was sure she could get used to if she kept using the service. For now, though, she was one level down, and she wanted to see what it was like.

Even at the beginning of this particular leg of the adventure, Melissa wondered if someone had a sense of humor about Prana’s layout. From what Melissa had seen, the top layer was the urban center, what with the arena and the mall and the park, everything one might expect from a downtown area. One layer down, then, was the sub-urban. There was a lot more housing here, with the occasional convenience store or other small business. Melissa spotted a pet store and found herself thinking about Bartleby. There was a café nearby and Melissa wondered if Fiona would approve of these ones. She didn’t stop in anything yet, though. For now, Melissa just tried to see what she could see.

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Once again, Trevor found himself in a rather...strange predicament, the very same one he found himself in the day before. Alone in the abode with Bartleby, but honestly, not for very long. He figured today would be a good day to go visit someone: Benjamin, the receptionist at the Arena. A strange thing to do, in the grand scheme of it all, but once he bid Bartleby farewell, he left and headed to the Arena.

"A curious question for you, Masters. What pray tell are we doing visiting the receptionist?"

Trevor looked at his floating grimoire, before sighing slightly. "A...bit of an observation, actually." he started, the two headed off. "Our rabbit man had a bit of a tired look on his face when we first arrived here, if you happen to recall." He paused in his stride, sliding his hands into his pockets. "...I want to try and help our receptionist out and find out what's going on with him."

The Cabanomicon spoke not another word...er...write out another word, but the two continued onward in silence.

Once they arrived at the Arena, Trevor would notice that it seemed it was open and busy today. Seemed like there was a fight scheduled for today, but sadly, unlike other such fancy arenas, this one didn't have any screens to view the combatants to know who was fighting. Nevertheless, the young sorcerer noted the long line of people at, of course, the receptionist counter apparently buying tickets with Benjamin there selling tickets. Trevor found it best to just wait in the back and wait for the line to go down, then he'd make his move.

Once a certain time hit, the bunny declared that ticket sales had ended. Of course, some people who didn't make it grumble but they ended up leaving regardless. The bunny then did something behind the desk and a red screen with text "Closed until end of match" appeared in front of the desk.

Taking this as his cue, Trevor simply knock on the desk lightly and waved. "Good morrow, Benjamin. How goes it?"

"Sorry, we aren't selling tickets at this moment." Benjamin replied automatically.

"Oh that's fine, I wasn't here for ticket buying." Trevor chuckled, before pondering. "...at least not today anyway."

"Oh okay. Merchandise can be bought online. The food courts and bar is in the floor ahead. Sign ups for Arena Contestants must go through an interview process. If you have a meeting scheduled please state your name and reason for meeting."

"You seem to have that down to a science with that whole spiel." Trevor chuckled, waving his hand dismissively. "In any case, I figure I stop by and check on you, actually. If I recall the last time we spoke and saw each other, you looked...for lack of a better term, like something the cat dragged in. Bags under the eyes, just to name an example."

"I'm sorry I don't understand..." He then looked panicked. "I-I already paid this month!"

"Benjamin...buddy, I'm not asking for money." he tapped on the desk again, doing his best to really observe the rabbit man. "Just trying to help you out is all. Honestly seems like you haven't had a break in a while."

He stared for a while, not comprehending, then said, "Oh! You're um. That guy. S-sorry I, um, thought you were someone else haha....and well actually it's just about time to take my break!"

"Excellent..." Trevor nodded, before clearing his throat. "So you wanna talk about...that...?" he asked, referring to what the rabbit man just had happen. "Either that or maybe why you look like something that Morgan would work with? Ya know...dead lookin with those tired eyes?"

"Oh dear, do I? Sorry I'll work on that. I don't like to have caffeine, my mom always said that I get jittery ahaha...." He paused. "Er, I should head to the break room. But it's employees only so...."

"Would it technically be alright for me to accompany, considering I'm one under Mauvache's employ too?" Trevor asked. "Or would that be a no?"

"Um. I don't....I don't know...I-If you insist, but it's not really anything special." The break room was simply that, complete with a bunch of tables and vending machines along one wall that had all sorts of things including full packaged and cooked meals.

"Looks like Mauvache keeps her employees in good hands with everything like this." Trevor chuckled, moving to a table. "So, what seems to be the issue with you, my friend?"

"Issue? There's no issue....did I make a mistake that I don't remember?"

"I meant the insomnia there." Trevor said, waving a finger in the air. "Noticed it when we first arrived. Quite frankly, with everything else going on, didn't have a moment to properly look into the matter. But I have time now, thankfully."

"Insomnia? Ahaha no no I guess I'm a little tired but I'm okay I'm just glad I have a job."

"Uh huh..." he said, staring intently at Benjamin, trying to study him. "And you thought I was someone wanting money, when I clearly don't look like any loan shark at all...and once again, you look like the living dead...so why don't you just tell me what's up?"

"Nothing is up why do you keep saying that you're being so weird right now, ahahaha."

Trevor stared more at Benjamin, squinting his eyes slightly. "Uh-huh..." he said, not really believing the rabbit.

The more he looked the more nervous Benjamin seemed to be getting. He began to fiddle with a nametag on his shirt. "Is...um, is that all you wanted then? I appreciate the concern but everything is A-Okay here."

Trevor kept staring, noticing the nervousness that Benjamin was displaying. "You know...I've already been taught this lesson, one I'm still working on figuring out..." his mind reeled back to his training fight in the system with Morgan against Grigoriy. "...you need to rely on others, your team and friends, to help you. You can't just do things on your own. Take it from this sorcerer...trust me."

He smiled weakly. "Y-yeah, that's true. Well that's what I'm working for you know, to help my family and all. Old folks getting, well, old."

"Have you been taking proper care of yourself afterwards?" Trevor raised an eyebrow slightly. He could honestly get behind Benjamin's reasoning at this point, family was important for sure. But if he answered anything else here bu-...

"Oh don't worry if I don't 'take care' of myself I'm sure someone will, ahaha..haha." it seemed he had made a joke somewhere in there to himself that he didn't actually find very funny.

His eyes slightly narrowed for a split moment. He cursed internally, it was making sense now. With Benjamin saying he was helping his family with his parents getting old... it all made sense. And for a moment, the sorcerer was both sad and upset at the same time. "No." Trevor said sternly, shaking his head slightly. "Let me tell you this, my mentor and master told me the importance of rest. While hard work is important, don't mistake me, rest is even more important. For example, if you work out your muscles and don't give them time to rest and heal, you'll only damage yourself in the long run. What do you think will happen if you continue to go down this path of working yourself to death? Your folks most likely won't have anyone to take care of them should anything happen to you."

"Ahaha, yeah, wouldn't...wouldn't want to damage myself would I. That sure would be bad....anyway, break's just about over I should get going."

Trevor nodded before thinking of something. "Tell you what...provided that our top-hatted boss is alright with it, how about I help you out? Just to lessen your work load in order for you not to kill yourself in the process."

"Less work? No, no no no no not at all, no way, I can't have that!" He got up suddenly and went for the door. "A-anyway break's over time to get back to it."

Trevor just let the rabbit man rush past him, simply rubbing the bridge between his nose. "The poor man is overworking himself...that there is for sure. All this for his folks...and for what?" he muttered, most likely loud enough for Benjamin to hear...or not to hear, that was up to the rabbit's ears. "...perhaps casting Curaga might help? No...I believe I did that once before. It didn't seem to work then." The sorcerer just sat there in the break room, contemplating and collecting his thoughts. If Benjamin wasn't careful, he would most likely work himself to death...and that couldn't happen.

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Fish, Fen, and FKelsey

When Fen caught herself rambling and looked over to Kelsey she would see that the girl was smiling. "What a nerd." she said, without a hint of malice. "Just like..." She laughed to herself and shook her head. "Wow, magic huh. Guess I've seen a lot of that after coming here. Well there was some people back home who said they knew magic but I never really could figure it out."

"Er, um, but yes those are just a uh, a few of them. How about you? Do you have any unique fish, or uh, sea life? Are they, uh, also armed as you are?" 

"Oh god imagine...well, I guess it's possible. You see...its kinda complicated. The planet I came from is different from the one I was on when I was taken here. Neither of em had much for sea-life as far as I could tell. I lived in a big city both places pretty far from that sorta thing. But there were hundreds and hundreds of other planets I'm sure some of them had some wild stuff."

She looked back over at the tanks. Watching as a school of crescent shaped fish moved about as if they were doing synchronized swimming. Oddly it didn't seem performative just their natural way of movement. "I never actually went to an aquarium until I came here. Lot of things that I didn't get a chance to do back home..." her voice trailed off. Then she looked over at Fen with a grin. "By the way what do you think of this place so far? Not like, THIS place, but thiiis place." she pointed at the ground with the first 'this' and with the second vaguely waved her hands in the air.


Melissa Meets in the Middle

The first thing that Melissa would notice was that this section of the city seemed much less hectic than above. The most trafficked area in fact seemed to be the shrine where the teleporters were housed. The next thing would be that there didn't seem to be much in the way of parks or really much empty space at all. There were just building after building only interrupted by parking lots. It was as though whoever designed the city wanted to cram all the housing they could on this one level.

However there still was an occasional person. Mostly people out for a jog or taking a quick trip to one of the smaller stores.

Most of them didn't pay her much heed, except an occasional curious look, but it seemed that there was one individual who had a keen interest in the girl.

It would take a bit of time but Melissa would realize that she was being followed. Every now and then she'd hear a jingling sound behind her and eventually when she looked she would see a large black cat wearing a collar with a bell on it. When Melissa saw the creature it suddenly sat down and looked up at her silently. If she continued to move it would follow until she looked again.


Trevor Tries Towait

As Trevor sat there in the break room he would have a moment of silence. Several moments in fact. He sat there pondering the situation, ruminating about what to do, perhaps questioning some life choices, for some time without anyone coming in. It was almost odd how he hadn't seen any other employees utilizing the room yet.

But eventually he would hear something. Loud thumping noises from the hall outside the room. Then the door would slide open and, were he to glance over, he would see the doorway covered in a furry mass.

And then the figure ducked a bit under the door frame and walked into the room. It was a large being. Seven feet tall, perhaps a bit more, and covered in brown fur. Their body was clearly muscular, though they seemed to have something of a belly on them too, and their head resembled a bull's. Complete with a pair of curled horns. They paused when they saw Trevor and walked over towards him. "Heard a stranger was hanging around here, scared off a couple people and all, take it that's you?" His voice was incredibly deep and rumbling and Trevor could practically feel the vibrations of is voice in his own chest.

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He sat there for what felt like an eternity, just pondering the situation. Trevor could tell there was something there, something he could help with, but he was at a point where he couldn't break to it. He felt like a failure for the moment, but then again, he didn't have any magic that could easily be utilized to make the situation better. And for all intents and purposes, that was what he was good at. But even still...there had to be som-...wait were those loud thumping noises from outside the door? Trevor whipped around to look towards the door and saw...what seemed to be...a Minotaur.

...a Minotaur? ...interesting...very interesting... he thought, watching the hulking being approached him.

"Heard a stranger was hanging around here, scared off a couple people and all, take it that's you?"

"Scaring people off? No sir, I can't say that's me." Trevor said simply, looking at the beastman before him. "I do apologize if I actually wasn't supposed to be in here, I was in here talking to the receptionist, Benjamin, a few moments ago. I meant no harm." He cleared his throat, finally getting his bearings back together. "Trevor Masters, apprentice to Balthazar Blake, sorcerer of the 777th degree. I'm one of Mauvache's champions, well...one of the newer batch anyway."

"One of....Gwaaaaaaahahahahaha!" The minotaur suddenly began to laugh. Then he clapped a hand on Trevor's shoulder a couple times, painfully, before shaking his large head. "Well that would explain it. You lot sure do like to just show up unexpectedly don't you?"

"S-So it would seem..." Trevor tried his best to push through it, though he wouldn't lie...it was painful. "I-In any case, I can assure you I haven't scared off anyone presently around here...mister...?"

"Mister? Gwaaaaaahahahaha!" He laughed again. "Name's Tegur m'boy! One of me waitresses scurried back to the bar saying some stranger was lurking you see."

"A pleasure, Tegur." Trevor nodded, before rubbing his chin slightly. "A waitress, you say? Curious. Aside from Benjamin, I haven't seen anyone else enter or leave this breakroom...but then again, perhaps I was too engrossed in my own thoughts and ruminations to notice. If that did indeed, happen to be the case, I must apologize."

"Poor girl probably didn't even get past the door. You'd think she would learn to be fine with strangers by now. Ah, well, glad to know there was no problem." He patted Trevor's shoulder again. "But you shouldn't linger around too much you know, if you've got nowhere to go I'd recommend getting a drink, gwaaaaahahahaha!"

"I would definitely take a recommendation on that." Trevor chuckled, before moving out of the breakroom. However, after he past the door's threshold, he held up a finger. "A curious question from you, Tegur. The receptionist, Benjamin...what's his story? I got bits and pieces here and there, but nothing concrete. I was hoping to help the rabbit out."

"Well I don't like to talk bout other folks but that kid? He's a good lad, always comes on time and does his job. Friendly too. Though I guess been a couple months since he's stopped for a chat now that you mention it."

"So this is a strange change..." Trevor nodded slowly. "...truly a curious situation indeed. I know he mentioned he was trying to provide for his family, namely his old folks. Not only that, it seems he hasn't been taking care of himself in the long run...running himself through the wringer."

"Mm, strange, lad always had so much energy. Don't think I noticed him working more than normal...Well, who knows this old man might just be forgetting things, not the sharpest bolt in the crossbow these days, gwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahaha!"

"And he did freak out...thinking I was requesting a payment, saying he already paid this month." Trevor nodded again, tapping his chin. "There's more to this, I reckon."

The minotaur grunted. "I see..." He grew quiet then nodded. "Well, can't say I know what that's about. Be careful not to spook the lad too much or ye'll just do the opposite of what ye want."

"Would you happen to have any suggestions on how to proceed, Tegur?" Trevor inquired, raising an eyebrow slightly.

"Ah, like I said I'm not much o' a thinker. I'm just a bartender these days, people talk about their problems but don't usually hafta get them to open up m'self."

"I see, I see..." he sighed. That's about the time it really hit him, maybe there WAS something he could do more than magic: believe. So many adventures before his arrival here back in the Ever...so many times he saw the power of the heart and how strong it was. They had their unique and abilities...they help build strong bonds, etch memories from the past in...they were great tools for all. He had to understand the rabbit's heart if anything...that was fair to be certain. "Perhaps you are right. Maybe he'll open up in his own time..." Trevor sighed slightly, before giving Tegur a thumbs up. "Thank you for the assistance there. As for the recommendation on getting a drink, I'll happily take that, maybe offer an invitation to our rabbit friend as well."

"I'll warn my waitress, gwaaaaahahahaha!" Trevor heard the laugh long after Tegur left the room. He did notice the signs about apparently Tegur's bar, which was on the second floor of the Arena. With a nod, he decided to go out to Benjamin and simply offer the rabbit an invitation to accompany him up there sometime. Perhaps there, he would be able to understand the heart of the rabbit man.

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Posted (edited)

“After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule.”
-Daniel 7:6 (NIV)


Melissa was returning some kind of nodding acknowledgment of a jogger crossing her path when she first heard the jingling of the bell. It had just seemed like background noise, a little embellishment coming from one of the endless stream of buildings. Melissa was pretty used to confines. Even when she wasn’t willingly locking herself in a bathroom stall for a good moment of alone time, she’d spent most of her life in a dome called Ambrosia. Still, even Ambrosia had places of openness to it. You could pretend the sky was real there. Here, though, she couldn’t help but feel a touch of claustrophobia.

She was at an intersection deciding which way to wander next when she heard the bell again. The sound was unique enough to be memorable, and clear enough against the monotonous haze to recognize it. Melissa didn’t see anyone when she looked, but she did hear the bell a third time and finally identified the source. There was a cat following her. By the time she noticed that was what it was, the cat had stopped and was now sitting in front of her, looking up.

Oh, hello,” Melissa said, crouching down and offering the back of her hand to the cat. “Aren’t you curious? What’s your name?

The cat nuzzled against Melissa’s hand, though it didn’t purr like she expected a cat might in such a situation. It got closer to her and kept looking up, and Melissa could see that the cat had a collar with a tag on it. The tag didn’t have any more identifying information than a sigil that looked like a ghost, but at least it was something. “Well, it’s nice to meet you. My name’s Melissa,” Melissa said. “Do you live around here? I’m not trespassing in your territory, am I?

It really seemed like the cat was listening to her, even as it wove in and out underneath Melissa’s legs in a figure-eight pattern. Melissa nearly tripped over the shifting weight at her feet but managed to right herself. “I’m just wandering around too,” she said. “Where have you been? Anywhere exciting?

The cat stopped meandering and started trying to climb Melissa’s dress. “Oh! Okay, um, please don’t, um…

Thankfully, someone else came running up. “Ghost, wait,” the woman said in between haggard breaths. “Don’t… climb… on strangers.”

Melissa guided Ghost off of herself and back down to the ground. “It’s alright,” she said. “I’d introduced myself, so I guess we aren’t strangers anymore. I take it you’re his?

The woman had regained her breath, but Melissa noticed that she still got quieter talking to her than she had with the cat. “Oh, um, I suppose so. He’s one of the babies from my shop but he hasn’t let anyone take him yet,” she said. The cat, meanwhile, leapt up onto the woman’s shoulder and remained perched there.

Like a cat café?” Melissa asked. “I’ve heard of those, but I’ve never actually been in one, not even back home.” She looked at Ghost, taking in all his features again. “He's a little big to still be a baby. How old is he?

“Oh, no, it’s a pet shop,” the woman said. “Or… a shelter? And also a shop. I’m not really explaining this well.” She looked down at the ground, cheeks flushed. Ghost had to nudge the woman to get her to answer Melissa’s actual question. “He’s ninety-five, so I guess you could say he’s more middle-aged.”

Melissa’s eyes widened in spite of herself. “I think the oldest cat I met before I came here was around twenty years old or so,” she said. “You’re a very lucky cat, Ghost. And I’m sorry for assuming.” She had to rush to tack on that last bit, but Melissa thought it was an important one to add.

“Really? I guess all cats are different,” the woman said. “Oh, but I should, um, let you get back to your business now. He didn’t rip any of your clothes, did he? I always tell him to be careful…”

Melissa checked her dress again for any tears, but the fabric on Prana was impressive enough that she found none. She demonstrated this to the woman and said, “Alright. Oh, but I guess if you run a pet shelter, do you have any advice for raising a Slakoth? I… guess you could say I came into one a few days ago and I think he’s happy with how I’ve set him up, but it never hurts to get more advice, right?” Another extra thought. “I don’t think I got your name?

The Pokémon was unfamiliar to the woman. “Is a Slakoth a sort of slug?” she said before realizing that she hadn’t introduced herself with another set of flushed cheeks. “I’m… I forgot that part. I’m Delilah.”

A… I think it’s a sloth pun.” Melissa tried to find a picture on her watch to show it to Delilah. “I already told Ghost this, but I’m Melissa.

Delilah seemed a bit nervous as she glimpsed Melissa’s watch, but her eyes lit up as soon as she saw the picture. “What an interesting little one,” she said. “Perhaps you could bring him here sometime. I would love to meet an animal I had never seen before.” Just like that, though, whatever confidence Delilah had was gone. She took a few steps back again. “Sorry. I got excited.”

Oh sure, I’m sure Bartleby wouldn’t mind,” Melissa said. She switched her watch over to a map screen. “Just, uh, point out where your shelter shop is and I’ll be sure to come in sometime.

As Delilah sighed and leaned in to do so, Ghost reached out from his perch and booped Melissa on the nose. Melissa couldn’t help but laugh at that. “Alright, well, it was nice to meet you, Delilah and Ghost.” It took a moment for them to actually part ways. They both initially went the same direction, and Melissa feinted like she left something behind as an excuse to turn around and actually say goodbye to the two of them. Still, soon after that, she was alone again.

Well, that was an adventure in itself,” Melissa said. But at the same time, it felt like she had seen all there was to see on this level of Prana, at least for now. She really did mean to turn around, it turned out, go back to the shrine with the teleporters and try something new. “I wonder what the next floor has?

Edited by radio414

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Fen was made more curious by Kelsey's initial explanation, but before she asked about it she was asked her opinion on "this." At first the girl thought she was referring to simply the aquarium, to which she was definitely fascinated by the structure and enjoying her time seeing all the new types of ocean life, but then realized she likely meant the city as a whole. No perhaps she meant the "planet" or "world" as a whole, though the two hardly seemed any different then the "city" to her with what limited exposure she had to it. Even still, her answer remained largely the same from the aquarium. 

"Well, hmm, I think I've certainly enjoyed my time here so far. I was uh, definitely overwhelmed when I first came though. I don't think I've ever seen, well, just about any of the magical devices that they have here back home." Bashfully the girl added, "in fact I was uh, well, nervous that to even send a message with this," the girl held up her watch. Her nerves, based on Kelsey's response as well, were not unfounded though she supposed that was more a matter of prose then function. Back pedaling the girl said, "oh but um, that's not to say that I've had only difficulties with these devices. And I've learned all about how convenient they could be. Back home because of, well, my own magic I had to constantly use it as a means to store and preserve food, but I've learned that there's a wonderful thing called a "refrigerator" that does it for me. The city is also much more um, I suppose vibrant and tall then I'm used to." 

Thinking about where she was from the girl said, "I suppose really the only place that compared was the capital of Arbolia, though even the grand architecture and size of that city pales a bit in comparison to this city. It's also a bit overwhelming to deal with...oh, but well, I've had a number of helpful people - oh yourself included, who have helped me. Well, get my bearings. It...almost reminds me of my guild...really..."

The girl looked to the side, remembering that she was far, far from home with no way back before saying, "the work here isn't too different then what I'm used to, and I do enjoy helping people but...that I don't know how long this job should last...or how to get home and how sudden it all has been...well um..." Fen trailed off before looking back to Kelsey, her expression lighting up. "Oh, but you said you've traveled to other worlds before right? Does that mean you can come and go as want?" 

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Trevor gonna get Crunk

Most of the building had a more high tech look to it. Which was helped by the various small robots flitting around and going about various tasks. However when walking into Tegur's Bar you wouldn't have guessed it was the same place.

It resembled an old tavern. With wood floors and counters and a fireplace off at one end. The most modern part of it was that there was a device near the entrance that played music but even that was evidentially older technology and was called a "jukebox".

There were tables around the large floor with several wooden chairs around each. An area in the middle was clear both to not be cramped and so people could, if they were so inclined, dance without tables in the way.

The bar was to the left and the counter stretched all the way across the entire side. Standing behind it was Tegur himself cleaning a glass mug. Above him on the wall behind Trevor could see a massive crossbow hung up.

At this time of day, especially with a fight underway, the bar didn't have many people in it but a couple tables still held patrons and some sat at the stools near Tegur.

If he looked closer he'd notice there was one more piece of technology in that each table, and at a few spots across the bar, there were small screens that showed the fight that was going on. Though details were hard to make out and half of the screens were taken up by statistics and options to bet on the fight.

As Trevor walked in a short girl with some animal features and wearing a maid-like uniform took notice of him, got startled, and turned around 180 degrees to go towards a farther table despite there being nobody at the table she was heading for.


Melissa dives into the depths

Melissa would notice that unlike before when she made her intention to go to the lower level she was halted and asked if she was sure she wished to go down there, and told there wasn't really much there of note, but if she still wished to go she wouldn't be stopped.

She found herself in a somewhat less well-lit area than before. There were hardly any roads to speak of and much of the ground was simply dirt paths. There were buildings here too but they were much less quality than the one above. Many being one or two rooms at best and at most one story high. Though some you could hardly even call that. Unlike before there were more people out and about. Many of them children running around and playing with the occasional adult watching over them.

Farther off, towards the center of the area, was a large wall that looked to form some sort of square or rectangular shape.


Fen, Fish, and Finding-Out

"Ha! Yeah I guess it must be hard to work this stuff out. Honestly it was kinda weird for me too. A lot of it is similar to what I'm used to but its partially run with magic rocks or something which makes it just different enough to cause an issue now and then...." She smirked. "Fridge huh. You really were living in one of those Fantasy worlds huh, wild."

Fen would notice that Kelsey looked away when the girl brought up not knowing how long this was going to last.

"Oh, but you said you've traveled to other worlds before right? Does that mean you can come and go as want?"

"Mm, not quite. When I say other worlds....how the heck do I explain it..." She was quiet a bit and then continued. "Okay so you know how where you're from there are different cities? And you have to travel to go between em? Well think like that except its across a lot larger distance. The planet I was born on isn't the one I was taken from. I traveled through space to get to that place where I was enrolled in a school and that's the planet I was on when I was brought here."

She looked back at Fen and the smile on her face seemed forced. "None of us, far as I know, have left this world. Heck most haven't even left this city. It's kinda funny you say everything is bigger cause for me....It feels so much smaller than back home." She looked at Fen for a moment before shaking her head wildly as though flinging water out of her hair. "But anyway we're here to check out the fish right? Why don't you tell me if any of em look tasty and I'll see what I can do, haha!"

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Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.
-Matthew 19:14-15 (NIV)


Melissa was surprised when she was asked to reconsider her journey downwards. The option was there, wasn’t it? Why would they have the option if they dissuaded people from using it? And if they were only dissuading her specifically, well, that just opened another host of questions. So, in a moment of self-determination that was becoming more and more common for her (should she be worried about this?), Melissa persisted onwards, downwards one more level into Prana.

Teleporting almost felt natural this time. The next level down shocked Melissa, though, in how drastically the city changed. After two levels of urban development, what was supporting it was dirt paths and buildings that could be described as cottages at best. It wasn’t all like that but that certainly was the first impression she got. As she continued, she found the activity lay mostly in two forms. The first was vehicles -- these hovering cart contraptions -- making their way in the direction of a large white-walled central structure. Melissa decided to follow suit in that regard, keeping off to the sides of paths to let the vehicles pass her by.

The second form of activity was children. Melissa had seen a few loitering around the shrine when she had exited, but there were many more out and about. Most groups had at least one guardian that she could see, though there were a few wild packs chasing each other about. Part of the way through her trek, one child about waist-height tall crashed right into Melissa’s leg. It hadn’t even been enough to knock either of them over, but the child still looked up at Melissa with eyes that seemed too big for their head, an expression on their face that was a mix of incredulity and regret. “Sowee,” the child said.

It’s alright,” Melissa said. “I’m alright. Are you alright?” But the child heard their parent calling after them and ran off without answering, so she continued onward.

When the entrance to the white-walled structure came into view, Melissa saw a secret third type of activity: guards. Several were stationed around the exterior of the building, and the entrance was basically a checkpoint for those trying to get in. Vehicles had to stop and be searched before the entrance, an energy barrier the same size as the rest of the wall, lowered and they could continue onward.

Melissa’s curiosity was certainly piqued, but it was tempered a little by the thought of how to actually sate that desire. She wasn’t about to go up to one of the guards and interrupt them in the carrying out of their duties just to ask a silly question. Even the thought made Melissa shrink back a bit. She thought one of them looked her way and retreated back.

She just had to ask someone else. She just had to ask someone who looked a bit more accommodating. Melissa retraced her steps back to where someone was supervising a gaggle of children and tried there. “Excuse me,” she said. “Sorry, um, I’m new in town and was just wondering, what is that building?

They followed where Melissa was pointing and identified the building instantaneously. “Ah, that’s the wall around the mines, that is. Not a very pretty thing, but guess it’s prettier than the rest of this place, eh?”

It felt weird to be defending a place she had been in for an hour at most, but Melissa still stepped to the plate. “I wouldn’t know if I would go that far,” she said. “I suppose you could think of it as an eyesore, but there are words you could use for this level of Prana that aren’t so bad. Rustic, rural, um, down-to-earth I guess is hyphenated…

Melissa hadn’t meant it as a joke, but they laughed anyway. “Down to earth is right!” It was a quick laugh, though, before their tone got more serious. “But what’s a young lady like yourself want with a place like that, anyway? It’s not very safe, you know. Monsters lurk down there, I hear.”

Melissa blushed and looked down at her feet. “Oh, I don’t think I’ll actually be going down there anytime soon,” she said. “I hope not, anyway. I suppose dealing with monsters is technically my business, but that wouldn’t be my decision.

Another unintended joke, apparently. “Some kinda monster slayer, huh? That’s a good one. Really, though, best stay away from that place. The Great Dragon knows we all would if we could.”

Melissa thanked them, but she had to be off. That was enough exploring for one day. She knew they weren’t laughing at her, or, at least, they weren’t in a meanspirited way, but needed a break from maintaining herself in the face of it regardless. She went at a brisk pace back towards the temple and the associated teleporters. As she neared the shrine, her stomach began to rumble, and she started to think about food. It at least got her calmed down a little, but now she was wondering what she might have for lunch.

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As Kelsey explained the distinction between her world and this one, Fen couldn't help but be both impressed and in disbelief. It wasn't as though that she thought Kelsey was lying to her, simply that the scale of distance to refer to them, almost in the same manner as going from one city to another, was more than she could presently comprehend. As the girl went on to mention that no one had left yet, Fen's brow furrowed. She didn't exactly know what to make of it, both because she didn't know how people's attempts to do so had gone nor did she truly understand her employer in general.

In fact something that seemed even stranger to her was that Percival was here. It wasn't so strange that if there were people from different worlds being recruited that others from her guild would find their way here - in fact she found it odd that she was the one picked from all of them to begin with. Rather, he had clearly been here for longer than she had but she didn't have any real recollection of him not being home for any length of time. She told Kelsey that the job she had now reminded her of her guild work, yet she hadn't realized just how many similarities there were. 

Snapping back to reality, the girl looked over to Kelsey as she mentioned the fish. "Oh, uh right. Well that rainbow trail one you mentioned certainly sounds delicious but only a poor chef would limit their choices to the first thing they heard." Fen smiled back as the two looked further in the aquarium. There were many sights to see, their forms generally looking familiar while the actual mechanics of their biology being entirely different. There was a pufferfish that pushed out spikes from itself, each one having a light at the end of them to act as a large multi-light globe to attract prey towards. There was a lantern fish that no one quite knew what it actually looked like as it obscured the area around it, forming a large dark mass that traveled through the water. Fen couldn't help but stop in her tracks as they came across a shark. Putting a hand to her chin, examining it she said, "so the kind that live in water also exist here too." 

After traversing the aquarium for awhile, the two started to make their way for the exit. However before actually getting to the exit Fen remembered something before saying, "oh, um one moment." After hurrying away from the entrance Fen left Kelsey there for a moment before returning. Proud, carrying what was clearly a plastic bag from the gift shop, the girl said, "I wished to thank you for the trip today, and as you paid for the entry I decided to pay for the souvenir." The girl pulled out a shirt, a very plain blue shirt with a few fish on the front and the back emblazoned with the same penguin the building was structured after. Forcibly handing it off to Kelsey she said, "oh um, you don't have to worry either." The girl pulled out a second one. "I bought one for myself as well." 

After the gift giving had been done, the girl looked up and said, "oh hm, it's still not that late. You mentioned some uh, other more physically active places to go, right? Would you want to go to one of those?" Catching herself on her question the girl said, "oh, um, of course only if you still aren't busy or the like."

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Silence is Golden (Melissa)

When Melissa returned to the upper levels she would run into a face she'd seen before. Natasha, one of the first people they met, was coming out of one of the side rooms in the shrine just as Melissa passed by.

The woman's face lit up as she recognized Melissa and she approached her. Natasha looked back at where she had come from, the teleporters, then back at Melissa herself. Then she looked pointedly at Melissa's empty hands before returning her gave to Melissa's face. A gentle smile was on her face and she gave Melissa a quizzical look.

After a moment Melissa would notice a realization hit Natasha and she lifted her watch up before tapping away at it. A message appeared saying "It doesn't look like you went shopping?" It seemed that she thought her expressions weren't enough to convey the question and only just remembered to use the watch.


Boxing Gloves are Red (Fen)

"oh, um, of course only if you still aren't busy or the like."

"Busy? Me? Never!" Kelsey responded. She then went into thought before shrugging. "Well if the old man wanted me to do something I don't remember it, not the last time I blew him off anyway. C'mon, I'll show you to one of the places."

They took a taxi over to what was evidentially called the Small Sports Stadium. Despite the name the building still seemed rather large and it looked to be quite the busy place with people coming in and out. "It says small but that's cause you can do smaller scale sports here. Like boxing and tennis and junk. There's a larger one for other kinds of sports too. Sometimes they hold shows where you can watch pros but they're open for the public to come and go as they want too." She gestured down one hallway. "This is where the boxing ring is. It's one of the upsides of this place. Back home I wasn't allowed to box but there are plenty of people here who can take a hit or two better than there."

When they arrived at the room Kelsey ushered Fen in, walking in behind her to not block her vision.

The room was large and a good portion of it was taken up by what was evidentially a boxing ring. A big square, raised, area that had four posts along the side and several of some sort of energy beams forming a square around the outer edge. Fen could see a couple of people wearing shorts and with some sort of gloves over their hands trading blows while a few others cheered on one side or another.

As Fen entered she caught sight of a large, shirtless, man with long blonde hair who immediately approached her. "Well hello there little lady!" he said in a booming voice. "I imagine you're not here to step in the ring which must mean you're here to see the Great Adonis in action! Well sorry to say you'll have to wait a bit for those amateurs to wrap up before I step into the ring myself. But don't fret, I'll allow you to look at my muscles up close all you want!" He then proceeded to flex in front of her. All the while wearing an expression that made it clear he thought this a great honor.

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